Written by Danielle E. Pasqua
Copyright © January 4, 2018
My mind just focused on the empty playground outside the classroom window. I counted the melting icicles dripping off the red oak trees. Whatever my teacher Mrs. Brookes had to say, didn’t matter to me. I couldn’t stop thinking about my father’s company High Tech Star Gateway Machinery and if I, as well as my friends Xavier and Ian, would ever have the chance to return there. Then they could help me discover just who and what my family was all about.
“How about everyone writes a short story this weekend,” Mrs. Brookes suggested, though I knew her tone was an understatement due to her pursed lips, and then she smiled,” This is not extra credit, but a graded assignment. Isn’t that right Noah?”
“A short story. Oh, yeah right Mrs. Brookes,” I agreed, waking up from my daze, feeling the power of her of peppermint breath, that caused me to sit straight up in my seat.
“Yes, Noah. You are excellent at writing stories,” Mrs. Brookes glanced over my laptop on the latest grammar lesson discussed earlier in class,” Isn’t that true?”
“Yes, Mrs. Brooks,” I answered, as the word “stories” echoed in my ear.
“Students, this assignment has a specific writing prompt to it,” my teacher had walked back to the front of the classroom facing us. She explained,” It deals with a part of a building or house. It must be a minimum of three pages.”
All my classmates seemed to have groaned at the thought of weekend homework. But as Mrs. Brookes passed around the paper with our given task, I couldn’t help but to dream about the nutty events that my friends and I had gone through. But when I read the paper with my name and the word “Exit” next to it hi-lighted in yellow, a thought had sparked in my mind.
“Noah, get out of your dream,” Mrs. Brooks scolded as the rest of the students followed her gaze. Some giggled, while others were on my side, their faces following the red flush that I felt rising in my cheeks.
“That’s right Mrs. Brookes. I will do my homework this weekend,” I promised drawing a circle around the word “Exit.”
Then the bell rang, so I swung my backpack over my left shoulder, while holding my assignment in my right hand, as if I owned a piece of gold that the world would want to confiscate one day.
“Noah. Noah,” I recognized the voice of my friends, as I made my way through the crowds, where other students waited to get their bus. Xavier and Ian were there, each holding a paper in their hands. I wondered why, until I saw the similar expression, smiles that meant there was more to it than I thought.
“Ian and I have the same assignment from Mrs. Brookes,” Xavier mentioned as our fellow students hopped on their buses,” And the funny thing is my class was in the morning and his mid-day. What’s your assignment Noah?”
I raised my paper, while they both did at the precise moment as I had done. But when I saw their assignment, the hi-light that Mrs. Brookes had done was as blinding as the sun. I dropped the paper as if it had electrified me somehow. It flew away, across the school yard, but Xavier and Ian chased it for me, as I stood still at this constant connection my friends and I were destined to sustain.
“I don’t believe this,” I mentioned as Xavier handed me back my paper.
“Believe it, it’s true,” Xavier only smiled.
“Com’n guys we’re going to miss our bus,” Ian started to walk away.
Xavier and I followed Ian, but soon I cut in front of Ian, not trying to be pushy, but only reminded them I was the lead narrator on this hunt of ours. When we got on the bus, we picked a spot away from the rest of the crowd. I whispered to them,” I have an idea. I know exactly what kind of “Exit” we can write a story about.”
Then I told them what place I had thought of.
“How are we supposed to get there?” Ian asked.
“That’s the next step I am going to take,” I promised.
Silence surrounded my mother, my sister Lacey and I as we finished the spiral ham, green beans and mashed potatoes my mother had made. I scrapped the last bit of mustard on my plate, only a nervous habit I had built up that night.
“Mom why didn’t Dad eat with us?” I asked because next to the stove on the counter was my father’s dinner covered in plastic wrap.
“He has work to do still,” my mother explained, turning the kitchen faucet on.
“So, he’s at his job this late?” I questioned handing my mother my plate.
“No, where else? He’s in the basement,” my sister Lacey gave her signature smirk as she cleaned off the table, piling the dirty pots and dishes next to the sink.
“What’s he doing down there?” I asked.
“Go down and see my child,” my mother said.
“Ask him. See if he can help you with your homework,” Lacey only laughed.
“Noah, go downstairs,” my mother repeated as she turned the water off for a second. I could hear the faint drops of water dripping off the faucet, the only sound except for the Acrtic wind that swept the Sound that night, which hopefully wouldn’t last for long. But it was creepy, and it created a stir in my stomach, but I knew that had to act now, if I ever wanted to complete my paper.
As silent as I could be, in exception of the creek of the open door, I started my way down the stairs. I remember not long ago, when Lacey had told me to go downstairs and see “The Globe.” But I now I believed I knew more than I did before. The “ambiance” as my mother described about the lighted steps, that brightened with tap of my shoes, would not be a secret to my father.
But up ahead there was “The Globe” larger than ever, with tiny asteroids orbiting the model as it spun on its axis. Suddenly the show had stopped, I could make out a shadow, on the side of the basement, possibly controlling this 3D animation. A silhouette with scales and a long-pointed tale. I was ready to run, until it’s face rose from the darkness, revealing a man’s face, and yes, my father.
“What are you doing Dad?” I asked.
“Asteroids destroy planets,” my father answered,” They’ve destroyed advanced worlds.”
“Is that what your testing?” I asked.
“Yes. A planet’s gravity defending itself from these rocks,” my father agreed. He opened a panel on the table, to reveal several switches. He flipped three of them up, as I heard movement in the walls and three boxes popped out. The balls that circled the sculptured earth rolled across the air and into the cases. My father turned the switches down and the compartments snapped back into the wall.
“Where are they going?” I asked.
“Upstairs. The game room,” my father asked,” It’s where they are safe.”
“Dad, there is something I wanted to ask you,” I mentioned. My father turned around, so his face was invisible to me. Asking a reptile an important question wasn’t exactly the situation I wanted to put myself in.
“You want another tour of my job,” my father already had some insight about my homework assignment.
“It was on your ship. We had an aerial view of your company. You said in the “I” shaped building there was only an entrance. What about an exit? Is there one there? Can you show Xavier, Ian and I?” I knew I had rambled, after all that I needed some cold water to come my boiling blood down.
“There is an exit to the building,” my father still wouldn’t turn around,” One for the robots and aliens. One for the humans.”
“Why two different exits?” I asked.
“Contamination,” my father answered.
“So, I can I see it?” I begged.
Then my father turned around, this time his scales started to fold down, melting into his skin, which I found a little nauseating, but maybe that’s what my non-earth home was like. The beings on the world I had learned to see.
“Contact Xavier and Ian. Meet me tomorrow morning at nine o’clock at the pond. In the same spot I left you last time,” my father instructed.
I remember after the chaos on my father’s ship, with the jilted heirloom. How Xavier, Ian and I were navigated in capsules that flew us down in a tree-covered area near the pond.
But I took no objection to my father’s direction. He was doing me a favor.
So, the following morning, after some texting, Xavier, Ian and I met my father at the spot that we considered our “safe haven” from those who wanted to spy upon our extravaganza. The triangular ship was ready, hovered a few feet above the ground. Then it sped up, so I could start my homework at High Tech Star Gateway Machinery.
We landed in the same area, where we had witnessed” The Lightning Rod” last summer, right in the heart of the X-shaped building that surrounded this air field. But the “I-shaped” building was obvious enough, since at the base of the letter-shaped structure, one could see through it where parking decks were prominent.
Then my father led us into the entrance, swiped his card in the mouth of a wireless robot. There in the entrance was a lobby, where my father told us to wait. He walked up to the robot at the desk and began to whisper.
“What is he saying?” Ian asked, seeming unsure about our trip.
“He’s getting clearance. I bet,” I answered.
“For what?” Ian asked.
“To show us “The Exit,” Xavier answered for me.
Right after our small dialogue my father left the reception desk, holding three cards and handed it to us. Our names were written on it and in parentheses it said, “Clearance for “The Exit.”
Then we took the long narrow passage of the “I” building, the other side gradually growing bigger and bigger to our eye sight. When we got there, it looked like a reversed world to the entrance. The reception desk was on the opposite side, as well as the seating and the plants were growing upside down. I commented,” This a bizarre place.”
“Can I take pictures?” Ian asked.
“No pictures allowed,” my father stated. He then opened a control panel on the side of the door and said,” I’ll raise some of these switches. That darkness you see out there, will show you a laboratory. It is there, in which is the next step for our employees. Creating an escape route from a planet bound asteroid.”
But when I took a step forward to examine the controls, a wire popped out in front of my face revealing tiny lightning sparks. The current of this manufactured cabinet of cords caused my bones to rattle and my heart to stop for a moment. My father pulled me away from the wall and ordered my friends to back away.
Avoiding the control panel was only a last resort, because the room around us began to shake. Then the “I” shaped building that was leveled on the ground, began to rise from the ground, like a creature stuck in hibernation for years. The building was now vertical, instead of horizontal and we were all stuck on the bottom.
“I’m pulling out the emergency ladder,” my father jumped behind the reception desk, where the robot’s battery had been consumed by the power of the control panel. He pulled a lever under the desk. Just as Xavier Ian and I were bonded together as a ladder emerged from the wall. My father ordered, “Climb the ladder to get to the entrance. There should be ships there waiting to rescue. Emergency protocol. If everyone gets up safe, then I can enter the secret code, so the building can reposition itself.”
“Why did the building do this?” I asked as my friends and I started to climb the ladder.
“It sensed you. That you were the captain of this ship. If I didn’t release the ladder, we could have flown into space.” My father said.
“And go where?” Ian asked.
“Somewhere like earth,” my father answered,” Only different.”
I wanted to comment, but my only goal was to get my friends and I to safety. But as we climbed the ladder, we got a good view of “The Bridge,” where alien beings were seen leaving on their boats. We also saw aliens abandoning their hot air balloons, either walking in circles or chasing those beings who fled on their ships on “The Bridge.”
But inside we were the only ones on the ladder. I thought that was quite strange, but Xavier had a good observation.
“If you notice we were the only ones in here. I bet your father kept us isolated to protect us from contamination. That’s why there is only one ladder.”
“What about those beings on the outside?” Ian asked.
“They probably saw the building rise. That’s when they flew back to their planet,” Xavier explained.
“See Dad’s taking care of us,” I remarked.
We finally reached the entrance. But the doors to outside were sealed shut, though I knew it was for safety.
Then we all fell flat on our faces. Just as the building repositioned itself. It was then I saw my father’s shadow. He said to me,” Sometimes an exit is a great escape, sometimes when it encounters its master apparently things go a little haywire, such as this converted transport.”
“Can you fix it?” Ian asked.
“I need the heirloom from my ship,” my father explained,” I need to fix this malfunction. I also need your fingerprint Noah. That way it won’t happen again.”
Then I laid my thumbprint on my father’s phone. He just smiled,” Go home boys. Write your story. The universe is unpredictable.”
“How are we getting home?” Ian asked.
“Let’s walk,” Xavier stated.
“No. It’s not safe,” my father disagreed, “The EXIT “ship also known as the EXpress Interstellar Traveler Ship is the vessel for your rescue. It’s operated by a robot that will take you home. That way no government official can question. It has now arrived.”
For a moment I thought I was living in a dream when my friends and I boarded this mini triangular ship compared to my father’s cosmic aircraft, but I knew I had a story to write this weekend, whether anyone would believe it, who would know.
Hoping for the classroom clock to hurry along to the three o’clock position only remained a few minutes away. I waited for my teacher to finish reading my story since I was one of the first choices of hers to grade. She just stood up and laughed calling it, “Noah’s Story.”
But at the very last syllable she spoke the fire alarm had sounded. We knew this wasn’t a test or was it? My classmates and I ran, but I didn’t follow the same direction. Instead I headed to one that was in the direction of my father’s company. Surprisingly so was Xavier and Ian, both sitting on the grass, with their story in their hands. They then pointed behind me. There was my father.
“Dad did you sound the alarm?’ I asked.
“There are alarms for fires, earthquakes, tornadoes and school shootings. But now there are drills for fallen asteroids,” my father explained.
“But why go outside? Rocks could kill us,” Xavier asked.
“No, because ships like ‘The EXIT’ have a defense mechanism that could save you.” My father answered,” You see the long-term project is to go back to our world.”
“How will you do that?
“I need to get the machines ready.”
“I only have a sketch. They’re not built yet.”
“What are they for? To go back to our planet?”
“Fate tells us we don’t belong here. This is temporary.”
My father disappeared.
I then turned around only to hear,” ‘The Exit’ to High Tech Star Gateway Machinery, is your story Noah. You control our destiny.”
Then the practice drill was over.
“The Exit” door slammed shut.
We ran back to our classrooms.
But outside the classroom window, where I sat there was a bright light.
Not a ship or a meteor.
But I knew “The Exit” room was being repaired at my father’s company.
“The Heirloom” was at work.
I knew my father had to keep the earth safe, but he was worried about our home planet.
I wondered of my quest on earth
I hoped this adventure was a dream.
I rubbed my eyes as I had done before, only to realize maybe I wasn’t that crazy after all.