The night was dark and stormy and the sky had been preparing for a good, long thunderstorm for the last few hours. Despite it only being 5 o’clock, it looked like it was midnight. Normally, she wouldn’t be out during a storm and today was supposed to be her day off. She was going to sit at home, relax and maybe even get a few chores done. Unfortunately, she had been called in to take an extra shift after Lenny, everyone’s least favorite coworker, said he couldn’t show up. So, she took the shift. It was relatively uneventful. Very few rational people dare venture out with the threat of this storm approaching and with that thought she began to walk a bit faster. The wind was beginning to pick up and soon enough she would be caught in the storm.
As the wind blew a bit harder, she pulled up her collar and tugged her hat back down. Despite it being only September, it was quite cold already. If only Lenny had worked his shift, she would be sitting at home, warm and cuddled up in a blanket with a nice book or cup of coffee. Thinking about the choice words she had for Lenny the next time she saw him, she continued on the way home.
Crack! Rumble! Crack!
“Really! I’m going to be stuck out while lightning is flashing”, she said. “Nobody else is out and I’m almost home. I’m just gonna have to try to make it.” She sees a bright flash and then… darkness envelops her field of vision as she falls unconscious.
She awoke to an extreme pain in her head and her bed felt incredibly uncomfortable. As she lay there, she heard someone speaking. “Come help me. What am I supposed to do with her? I don’t know if she’s alive. All I know is that I walked outside to take care of the animals and there she was, spread out across the walkway.”
Another voice sounds like it is getting closer as it says, “You were serious. There really is a girl just laying here”
“I told you so”, said the first voice.
“Really, Luke! We have an unconscious girl outside of the house and you are worried about saying, ‘I told you so’. Help me pick her up!”
“I’m… not… unconscious. I just have a terrible headache”, she says as she sits up slowly.
“Who are you and where are you from?” asks Luke.
“I am from a small town in Maryland. Where am I?”, she replies.
“Maryland? Where’s that? This is Ashka, a farming community that is a part of Gradus.” says the second voice.
“Ashka? Gradus? Where are they? And who are you?”, she asks.
“I’m Luke and my brother’s name is Koda.”, replies Luke.
“Ashka is where we are. It is one of the farthermost areas of Gradus and we are primarily farmers here, although the actual city of Ashka is about a half a day’s ride from here. And Gradus is the empire. It is one of the most prosperous in the land and protects all of us from the evil Inveilis on the other side of the Forest of Paz.”
“Where is all of this in relation to the United States?”, She asks.
“United states? You must have hit your head pretty hard. There is no United States… Do you know your name?” asks Koda.
“My name is Hallie? But what about Earth?”, asks Hallie.
“Earth is a thing of the past. We discovered it a thousand years ago and the place was in ruins. It seems that war brought about their final destruction. What relics we have from there show that the fall of the planet was inevitable. People had begun to lose their compassion and their basic human compassion. We learned from those mistakes, however, and now we live a simplified life. Magic serves to enhance our abilities and technology is forbidden for everyone except scholars in the main cities.” says Luke.
“Nerds”, mumbled Koda under his breath.
“What was that?” asked Luke, who was getting more visibly angry by the second.
“Hold on guys!” Hallie interrupts, “I am FROM earth. You are telling me that my home is destroyed and I am somewhere in the future! There’s no way. Just yesterday I was walking home in a bad storm…” Her voice softens and finally trails off as she looks at the ground with the realization that she may never go home or see her loved ones again.
“That’s not possible. Is it? I mean, people can travel through time. Right?” Koda frantically says.
“It shouldn’t be possible. At least not without some incredible technological advancements and some crazy powerful magic. Earthlings shouldn’t have magic and Earth doesn't have access to the magic or technology needed to achieve this. But, her clothes look incredibly similar to those we recovered in some of the ruins. One of the last to die actually had on a shirt really similar to this one. There is really only one way to find out. We will have to take her to the Great One.” says Luke.
“Can he help me?” asked Hallie hopefully.
“If anyone can, he can. He has the most knowledge of Earth out of all of us and is one of the only surviving members of the Space Shuttle that visited Earth in person.” says Luke.
“You are forgetting one important detail here. I am not helping. If she is actually from Earth and used powerful magic AND technology to get here. She is breaking two of our biggest laws. I refuse to get caught up in her mess. I’m not doing it. And if you know what’s best for you, you’d leave the girl alone and walk away. Just because she showed up here does NOT mean that we are automatically obligated to help her. And I’m not going to!” shouted Koda at Luke.
“You can’t just leave her out in the forest. You know as well as I do that no one can survive a night in the forest alone and unprepared!” Luke screams.
“I don’t care! You can help her if you want, but don’t come back here. You’ve got a horse and if you leave now, you can make it before dark.” said Koda.
“You’re going to kick me out for helping her? You know that Mom and Dad would be incredibly disappointed in you right now.” said Luke quietly.
“I told you, I’m not getting mixed up in her problems. I have enough of my own. I have to get everything sorted so I can marry Elle next month. And you have been talking every day about how you wanted to resume your studies. We are two different people living two different lives. I don’t need you here and you even told me you don’t want to be here. So just leave!.” said Koda.
“Fine then, I better start packing.” replied Luke.
Koda stomped off, grumbling something about how ingrateful his brother was.