Mark - June 2, 2010 - 6:02 PM

Going to Bravo Beach is a good way to start off the summer. It would have been an even better start, but not many of my friends were able to this time. Well, we'll probably come back here again in a couple weeks, so it's not a huge loss. Even without them, it's super fun. Jade and I have been having a blast so far. We've already done the entire list of whatever you could do at this huge beach: We've played in the water, built sand castles just to watch them get destroyed by the tides, explored the huge sandcastle that was built at one of the far ends, ran around in the sand, etc. We had a whole itinerary planned, and we didn't take long to fulfill it. While this was going on, my parents were watching with Andrew. They didn't do much with us because just watching us run around made them tired.

The sun is getting lower and lower in the sky, making it glow orange and red. I have a feeling that we're going to head home soon, because I glance at Mom and Dad, and they're starting to pack up their stuff. Then something else catches my eye. The sandcastle Jade and I built a few minutes ago, the one that we accidentally made a little bit too far from the water, has a strange green glimmer coming from within it.

"Jade?" I ask. "Did you put anything in our sand castle?"

"No, I didn't," Jade says, confused. I wade through the water back to the sandy beach to figure out what whatever's in our sand castle is. Jade, of course, simply levitates to the castle and looks into the space the four walls surrounded.

"Hey, there's something in here!" Jade says before turning to my parents. "Hey! Take a look at this!"

My parents walk over to the sand castle as I finally get out of the water. Jade dives into the castle, and sand starts spewing upward and forming a sand pile outside it. She's digging for whatever is in there. Once I get to our sandcastle, she comes back up with a large green crystal in her paws. An emerald. At least, it looks like one.

"Well, what did you guys find here?" Dad says as Jade puts the emerald in my hands. I have nothing to compare its size to, but I know it's pretty big. It's so shiny, too. It's not long until I notice weird markings etched into the emerald's surface. One marking is a simple stick figure shape. Another says, "Fulfilling Time's Purpose". Another side has four simple words, but are much bigger and deeper marked than the rest: "I AM THE GUARDIAN". The last marking that I see is an arrow. It's currently facing left, or in my case, the east. But what makes me feel weirded out is a word above that arrow: "Look..." Of course, I look in the direction the arrow is pointing, and for a split-second, on the sandy hills, I see a bright light on the hill, but before I can alert my parents to it, it disappears.

My mom and dad were interested in this crystal, and what exactly the messages meant. They even wondered if some sort of prank was going on. But me? I figured out exactly what this meant. If I am correct in assuming, I've already seen this "Guardian"... several times, already. The day of Mojo's attack on Townsville. The day Andrew was born. And even more times after that. That being made of light... "The Guardian" may be him... Who knows...

Mark - May 28, 2016 - 1:54 PM

The buildings fly past as the hovercar maneuvers slightly above the street. Skyscraper, skyscraper, office building, skyscraper, it goes on and on and on for miles. Townsville is a huge city, and when you add in all the other cities almost right next to it, it's even bigger; there's so much to see and do that someone vacationing here could constantly go around for weeks and not be able to see a fraction of all the cool stuff you can do in this part of the world.

"To begin our special report, Dexlabs has recently provided insight about Project Future," Will Harangue says. "Dexlabs has released the first candidate for Project Future, and that candidate's name is Mark Emeron."

A picture of me appears in the box at the top-left portion of the screen. I'm facing to the right of whoever took the picture, and some of my friends are visible, specifically Chris and Amanda. I know what that Dexbot was doing when we were going to the ice cream shop from Townsville Park now. It took a picture of me, and I can prove that picture is from today because Chris, Amanda and I are wearing the exact same clothes right now as in the picture, as well.

Will then says he's going to enter the interview between Dexter and the other news hosts, but apparently Dexter isn't allowing him in. That actually makes a whole lot of sense, because as everyone who watches News3 knows, Will Harangue absolutely LOVES to cause controversy. If controversy were to come from a singular point in space, that point would be Will. I mean, his last name (at least as far as we know) is Harangue, so it's not that surprising. He constantly vilifies Ben 10, and he even has a book series titled "Ben 10: Threat or Menace?". I've never bought any of them, of course.

"Hey, um, can we switch to one of the channels with the interview?" Amanda asks. The Dexbot complies and switches to another channel. This shows an interview between Dexter and several other news hosts (which are far more credible than Will, in my opinion). We can see Dexter inside the expansive main lobby, which has all sorts of things to look at. And I assume the time machine's in there, too. We got to the channel just in time to hear one of the interviewers ask Dexter:

"As for the time travel itself, how far into the future will Mark go, exactly?"

Dexter says, "From what we are planning, he will show up only a few hours later. At the most, it will only be a day. Of course, you can't control all of time travel's countless variables, which is why I have listed such a large range of possible times for him to end up in."

"When can we expect the experiment to begin?"

"If everything goes well, it may be as soon as 15 minutes from now. But you will know when it is ready."

I take my eyes off of the TV and look outside the window again. Now I can definitely tell we're closer to Tech Square. This is confirmed when I see the DexHotel, the building my family lives in. Although, it's not really just a hotel. It certainly does have a lot of hotel rooms, but it's got a whole section for apartments as well. In fact, I think the full name is the Technology Square Hotel and Apartment Complex, which we first nicknamed to be "TechShack", but since that sounds too much like a store, we just call it the DexHotel.

We then see Dexlabs, in all its glory. The hover-limousine starts to hover upward until we've reached the outer top levels of the building. And then I see the large crowd of people that goes as far back as the water fountain in the middle of Tech Square, which is pretty far from the street. They're looking at us, pointing cameras, both photo and video, at our limo.

"That's a lot of people!" Evan says from behind me, as the hovercar lowers onto the street. Once we land on the asphalt and the doors begin to open, we are bombarded with the aggregated noise of dozens- no, hundreds of people talking. The clicking of dozens and dozens of cameras is almost completely lost by all the people talking. Dexbots line themselves along the ramp up the entrance doors, so that we won't be smothered by all the paparazzi. Still doesn't stop the camera flashes and talking from being irritating. I can hear people saying things like, "It's Mark!", "Mark's here!" and even "Get a picture, quickly!"

That's when he walks out of the entrance door. Dexter. But he's not alone. Computress, his robotic assistant, is hovering alongside him. She- if you can even call it a "she"- is holding her iconic holographic clipboard. She floats down the small stairway on the small circular hover-platform she is on top of. Once Dexter and Computress appear on the scene, the noise gets louder, like a rock concert just started next to my ears. I cover them really quickly, and everyone else does as well. Dexter notices this and signals for us to come inside, into the lobby. As we walk up the ramp, the Dexbots close in on us, maintaining a barrier. Once we enter the doors, I can finally uncover my ears, though the ringing still remains.

"Well, now that you can actually hear me, I would like to welcome you back to Dexlabs," Dexter says. I look over at Andrew, and he looks so excited that if there was no gravity in this room, he would probably have gone to every single corner of it. Even then, he seems to bounce off the walls even when there is gravity; that's how excited he gets. He is also wielding one of the widest smiles I've ever seen. "I would also like to thank you again, in person this time, for volunteering for Project Future-"

"PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE SIGN HIS HOVERBOARD!" Andrew yells to Dexter, startling everyone in the room. Andrew runs behind me, unzips my backpack, takes the hoverboard out and runs to Dexter with it. Andrew jumps up over and over again asking for Dexter to sign my hoverboard. Dexter can't help but chuckle. That's a very great trait about Andrew: he's able to cheer you up even if you are more depressed than you have ever been in your life. This, in turn, causes Andrew to get even happier and more excited, resulting in a positive feedback loop of happiness.

"Very well," Dexter says, before he takes out a pen from a pocket in his lab coat as if he was prepared for something like this. This must happen a lot to him. I'm not that surprised, honestly. After he finishes writing on the side of the hoverboard, he hands it back to Andrew, who is beaming with excitement right now. Sometimes it seems like he's so happy he starts glowing, but that's just me. Not even a nanosecond after Andrew gets the hoverboard back, he runs to me and puts it in my hands. I immediately notice Dexter's signature on the side.

"Dude, you... you're going to be so popular when school starts again," Lucas says, looking at the signature.

"Now, as I was saying, I also would like to thank you in person for volunteering for Project Future," Dexter continues. "It took us a lot of time to create the necessary components for the time capsule, as well as calculate the special formulas for certain parts of it. It took us weeks to make something that could actually create a stable wormhole."

"Wormhole?" Andrew asks me.

"Portal," I say, simplifying the word for Andrew. I don't blame him, he won't learn about the physics of wormholes until around high school. By the time he even enters his freshman year at high school, I will be in my junior year of college. Of course, that's assuming I start going to college immediately after I finish high school, which is very likely.

"Then there were the issues of finding a way to get it to actually bring the subject to the time we want," Dexter continues. "But we discovered that the more energy we inputted into the machine, the farther ahead or back in time the subject will travel. Of course, we can't control it to the second. But don't worry, Mark. We can ensure your safety. But we won't get anywhere by standing here and talking, so why don't we all go to the Experimental Chamber now?"

Dexter and Computress lead us to the far end of the lobby, where a Dexbot is stationed at a desk. As we walk, I turn to the left and see a cabinet full of devices Dexter has made, protected by glass and a force field. I've seen this every time I've gone in and out of Dexlabs during "Bring your Kids to Work Day" and almost every time, there is usually a different group of inventions in there. Right now, there's some sort of prototype of the original hovercar engine, a small cube-shaped thing with blue edges that is called an "Energy Cube", and more. We arrive at the desk, and the Dexbot receptionist behind it looks up at Dexter and Computress. It immediately recognizes them.

"What can I do for you, Dexter? Computress?" the Dexbot asks.

"Seal the entrance doors," Computress says. "Don't let the people out there inside."

The Dexbot nods and says, "O-Of course." I turn around to see what happens to the doors, and a force field appears on both sides of it, almost completely silencing any noise that there was. The paparazzi outside are still as persistent as ever to get as much footage of me as possible. Creepy much? As we turn left of the front desk and follow Dexter and Computress through the numerous hallways, I think about what's going to happen when I'm sent through time. Will it be a flash of light and just like that, I'm in the future? Will I even notice anything at all? Will the time machine go through a portal? Honestly, I'll know in around ten or fifteen minutes, but it doesn't hurt to guess what will happen.

After walking through multiple hallways and going down a super-fast elevator, we arrive at the Lower-Level Experimental Floors. The hallways here are a little bit taller and wider than before, so now it's no longer as crowded. It's not long until we see Dad down the hall, with several Dexbots and Lab Assistants behind him. Dad looks like a lot like an older Andrew, except his black hair is a lot more ordered, while Andrew's is all over the place. Andrew obviously didn't get his more serious personality, though. I was the one who got that. Well, I got a mix of Mom's and Dad's. I can be fun and bright, but will be serious if need be.

"Dad!" Andrew says, running into his arms. Andrew runs to Dad with enough speed to knock Dad back a bit.

"Careful! Careful, Andrew!" Dad says as he tries to maintain his balance. "You don't want to knock me over!" I walk up to him.

"So... I'm going through time... apparently," I say. This is crazy. One hour ago, I was hanging out with my friends. Now, I'm inside the top secret levels of the greatest science company in the world, about to go through one of the possibly most important science experiments in history. It's hard to comprehend. I once again pinch my arm. Yep, still not dreaming unless the dream has made me think I'm feeling pain.

"You don't need to worry, Mark," Dad says. "Dexter has made sure you'll be safe."

"I've already been told that, Dad."

"Just to be sure..."

After walking through more large hallways, Dexter suddenly stops, but the people at the back of the small crowd don't realize it until a second afterward, causing everyone in the back to bump into the people at the front, nearly causing a domino effect. After I almost fall over from John and Aidan bumping into me, I look up. There's a door with a large sign on top, which says "EXPERIMENTAL CHAMBERS: AUTHORIZED PERSONNEL ONLY". It must be important because I notice that there are two three-headed robotic dogs guarding the door on either side, watching us like hawks. Once they see Dexter, they stop looking at us so much and continue looking straight ahead. The time machine surely couldn't have been the only thing Dexter was making. I don't remember seeing these the last time I went to Dexlabs.

Dexter walks to a nearby scanner and scans his eyes, voice, and fingerprints. I wonder why Dexter has all these defenses. What could possibly break into the building and get this far? Once the scanner recognizes Dexter, the door opens almost instantly. After walking through a long hallway for at least a minute, we take a sharp left. There's a door saying "MAIN EXPERIMENTAL CHAMBER". Dexter opens the door by using yet another retinal, voice and fingerprint scanner. The door slides open not long afterward, revealing the massive chamber.

My friends, Andrew and I stand there, aghast at how large the chamber is. It's so large that you could fit my family's entire apartment inside of it and still feel comfortable. Obviously, these chambers aren't for single experiments; Dexter could run several experiments at once in here. That's when I see it, in the center of the room. The time machine. It has a nearly spherical shape (except its flat base, of course; a spherical base wouldn't make much sense), and it has two antennae sticking out of the top. Every so often, I can see a bolt of electricity zap from one antenna to the other. There is a large metallic ring-like shape that circles around the time machine, which attaches all the pipes to it. These pipes are coming out of the walls, from the central observation room, and other places. There are no visible control panels around the time machine. They're probably all holographic, although there is a manual one in the far back of the room that's connected to the time machine. Maybe that's in the event of a premature power failure.

We walk down a ramp to the floor of the main chamber, and I can get a better view of the time machine. It has the main colors of Dexlabs on it: blue, green and white. The Dexlabs logo is on the top of the ring, and I can see the end of the "s" in Dexlabs curving around from the back. There's a circular light in the ceiling of the inside of the machine as well.

"Before you enter the time capsule, Mark, there is something you will need," Dexter says. He signals to a nearby Dexbot, which has the Dexlabs "d" emblazoned on its chestplate like all Dexbots. Dexter then points to a table with several devices on it. The Dexbot wheels over to the table, grabs a blue device similar to a watch, and wheels over to me. "You'll need to put this device on first before entering the time capsule," Dexter says as the Dexbot hands me the gadget. I put it on my left wrist, and it snaps around and adjusts to fit me.

"What exactly is this?" I ask.

"It's your communicator," Computress says. "Once you arrive in the future, the communicator will immediately notify me that the time travel has been completed. In case you do not appear inside Dexlabs, the odds of which are extremely unlikely, the device will send out a distress signal that any Dexbot or Dexlabs drone in a 1-mile radius will be able to receive. If no notification of retrieval is shown, the communicator will send out another message of a larger radius. The distress signal will state your exact coordinates, and will continue to send it out approximately every few minutes until we can retrieve you. This, of course, is in case things go awry, the odds of which are, again, very unlikely."

Two Dexbots come from the group of Dexbots on the left side of the room and wheel toward the entrance of the time machine, holding a stepladder. After placing that stepladder in front of the time machine's entrance, they stay there and hold it in place so it doesn't slip. The glass barrier covering the entrance to the time machine slowly rotates upward and away from it until it's parallel to the floor. Knowing it's time for me to enter the time machine, I walk toward the stepladder. Midway through doing so, I stop moving and look to Mom, Dad, Andrew, Jade and all my friends.

"I'll be back soon," I say, before I walk up the stepladder to the very entrance of the time machine, However, as I'm about to step inside, I'm hit by a strong mix of nervousness and hesitation. I've felt this feeling before. That feeling when you're so close to accomplishing a goal, that you are just about to do what you planned to do, but at the last minute, you feel afraid or scared to complete it, leaving you stuck in perpetual doubt and uncertainty until you make a final decision, which is usually turning away, making you feel like a scaredy-cat and a wimp. I think Dexter notices this, because he says, "You can take your time, Mark. I will not rush you." After that, the feeling of hesitation dissipates as I realize that I've come so far already. I'm standing in the experimental levels of Dexlabs, only one step away from entering a time machine, which could potentially revolutionize science and the world. I certainly won't get another opportunity like this again. Because of this, I force myself to walk inside the time capsule. Once the glass barrier lowers downward to block the entrance, I know there's no going back. If the time machine was a black hole, I just crossed the event horizon.

I turn around to see that surrounding the glass barrier in a circle are twelve delicately painted green squares. Each square has a Roman numeral on it, from 1 to 12. Clever... it's like a clock. The Roman numerals for the numbers are all in the appropriate spots for a clock, with XII being at the top, VI being on the bottom, and so on. I'm surprised Dexter thought of putting all this aesthetic detail on the time machine. The light in the ceiling is at the perfect level of brightness to illuminate the inside of the time machine, and not reflect so much off the metal that it's difficult to see inside. With nothing else to do now, I sit down and get ready. The Dexbots that were holding the stepladder in place wheel away, and Dexter walks over to me. Well, the machine I'm in.

"Mark?" Dexter asks, the sound being quieted a little bit by the glass. He knocks on it. "Can you hear me in there at all?"

"Yeah, I can hear you," I say.

"Good, good," Dexter says, before walking backward a few steps. He activates a holographic control panel, with so many options on it I don't even bother looking at it. "Let's begin."

The time machine begins to emanate a deep, humming sound. It must be entering its startup sequence. I look over at Evan, Amanda, my other friends, Andrew, Jade, my parents. They all look happy that I'm able to do this, to take part in Project Future, but they also look a bit nervous too. Evan is pointing his Dexphone at me inside the time machine, streaming what's happening right now. He's been streaming everything, even after me initially discovering that I was chosen from Project Future. A Dexbot starts going to Evan to tell him to stop streaming, but Dexter stops it midway, saying, "His viewers should see this." Some Dexbots in the room are also holding news cameras, pointed at me in the time machine. Well, looks like everyone is going to figure out what will happen when someone travels through time very soon.

After waiting for a little while, I hear something strange, coming from the ceiling of the room outside. I get up and look at the ceiling vents. It sounds like something's crawling through one of them. The sound leaves the room as soon as it starts, going backward. I think of telling Dexter about it, but then I realize how strange Dexlabs is. I mean, I saw robotic Cerberuses - or is it Cerburi? - guarding the entrance to the chamber hallway! Maybe there are smaller versions of those, or some other kind of drone, crawling through the vents? But what purpose would that serve? I don't know, and because I don't know, I ignore it and sit back down again.

"Alright, Mark, let's make sure your communicator is functional before we continue," Dexter says as Computress writes into her clipboard again. My communicator watch emits a loud, sudden beeping noise. It's so loud I have to cover my ears a bit. Did Computress have to make the communicator beep that loud?

"All communication systems are functional, Dexter," Computress says. "Once Mark arrives in the future, I will be able to reconnect with him."

"Affirmative!" Dexter says, sweeping a bunch of holographic icons out of view, bringing up a new set of them. "Alright, I'm powering up the main engine now. Mark, you may feel a little bump."

Dexter then presses a large holo-button, and a bunch of things happen simultaneously. Dexter was right about there being a bump, but it wasn't little. It was more like a large jolt, and it knocks me around a bit. After that jolt, the time machine begins to start shaking rapidly, but it's not as bad as the first. The light in the machine's ceiling flickers in and out for a moment then comes back on. The sound coming from the machine also gets louder. But in the midst of all of this, I hear more noises from the vents, and a laugh coming from above me. Not from Dexter, not from Computress, not even from any of my friends or my parents. Someone else is in here.

"Uh, Dexter?" I ask. Dexter is having trouble hearing me, though, due to the time machine making so much noise. I don't think he's going to stop the experiment now, either. I hear the laugh again, this time more clearly. Yep, it definitely sounds feminine. It's not Amanda, though, because I've heard her laugh, and it doesn't sound like that in any way. This laugh is much higher-pitched than hers. This time, the laugh is coming from my left. I'm really confused as to who is laughing. I take another look at the large vent on the ceiling. The vent splits into two smaller vents halfway near where I am, one of which goes to the left and the other to the right. There's a catwalk going around the whole room near the ceiling, right below grates that come out of the vents. I look at both of the grates. Nothing's happening with the right one. I look to the left one, and I definitely see something above it. I can't see the grate well from here, but the bars definitely leave enough space for this person to stick her arm through. She undoes the screws, one by one. Right when the fourth screw is undone, she grabs the grate before it can hit the floor. She puts it somewhere else in the vent, and finally drops down onto the catwalk.

Well, she looks a lot more different than I thought. I was expecting some spy, possibly from Mandark Industries, Dexlabs' rival company. But this is the complete opposite of that. Instead of looking like a spy, she looks like she just completed a ballerina performance. Her hair is bright, blonde and tied into pigtails. Her ballerina outfit is the brightest shade of pink I've ever seen. If she's trying to sneak around Dexlabs, she is not going to get far without being caught. Who is this girl anyway?

"Wow! Are you seeing these readings?" Dexter says, distracting me from the girl. "This is a fine day for science indeed!" I look over at the "readings" Dexter is talking about, and I see a holo-screen containing a bunch of stuff, including a large number with a rapidly increasing number of digits. It's hard to fully read the text because from my perspective, it's all reversed. But from what I can guess, it's drawing in energy, and probably a lot. I think this because I imagine it would take a lot of energy to create a portal through Space-Time.

I look back to the girl. She's looking around the room, her eyes scanning every portion of it. She sees the time machine and seems to be mesmerized. Speaking of which, the time machine is beginning to shake a tiny bit more violently, but it's not at dangerous levels. The light in the time machine is beginning to flicker in and out a bit more too. The girl goes over the railing of the catwalk, lowers herself downward, and drops onto the other ramp that I didn't walk down. She drops only around 10 or so feet, but she lands so quietly and gracefully. She looks around a bit more, and her eyes catch the manual control panel in the back right of the room, from my perspective. She gets a big smile on her face the moment she sees it and drops down again to the floor. I look back at the manual control panel, and I realize it's still connected to the time machine.

I finally do what I should have done the moment the girl appeared. I ask Dexter loudly, "Uh, Dexter? Who is that girl?" However, due to the time machine getting increasingly louder, it's becoming more and more difficult for them to hear me. So I decide to go right up to the glass and pound on it, trying to get Dexter to look at me.

"Dexter, it looks like Mark is trying to tell you something," Computress says. I don't know how I'm hearing them over the noise the time machine is producing.

"Well, it will have to wait," Dexter says, not realizing that the girl behind him is tiptoeing across the room like someone in a cartoon. "I have officially passed the boundary of which I can safely deactivate the machine. Entering final launch sequence... 10, 9..."

Now the girl is right in front of the control panel, looking at every single button, lever, and dial on it. I know she's going to press one of those buttons in a few seconds, and I have no idea what's going to happen when she does. For all we know, nothing could happen, but I don't want to risk finding out. So, in extreme desperation, I start screaming as loud as I can, and I even start pointing at the girl to try to get someone, anyone, to turn around and see what's she doing. Evan and my other friends, who are extremely confused at this point, look at where I'm pointing and immediately see the girl. They all start screaming out Dexter's name, trying to get him to turn around.

"3, 2, 1-"

"Ooooooh, what does this button do?" the girl says curiously. She speaks rather loudly when she says that, as if she isn't even trying to hide from anyone. Out of everything in the room, Dexter hears that and reacts as if he's heard this phrase from this certain girl frequently. He becomes as pale as a ghost, before his face becomes very, very red, and he turns around and starts screaming out at the girl:


So the girl's name is Dee Dee? Well, maybe Dee Dee is this girl's nickname given to her by Dexter? Regardless, the girl starts messing with the control panel, and the moment she presses one of the buttons, everything is thrown into chaos. To start, the time machine begins shaking more violently than ever now, so violently it knocks me off my feet. The light in the ceiling goes out and breaks apart, encasing me in darkness. I hear alarms start going off outside. What the heck did the "Dee Dee" girl do?

"NO! DEXBOTS, GET HER AWAY FROM THERE!" Dexter shouts, clearly panicking. As I back up against the time machine's inner walls, I look outside and see several Dexbots are wheeling over to Dee Dee, who is laughing hysterically, but not evilly. I don't think she even knows I'm here. The Dexbots grab her by the arms, and drag her away from the control panel, but it's too late. As far as I can tell, the girl's pressed pretty much every single button, turned every possible dial and flipped every lever in her reach. Who knows how that's going to affect whatever's about to happen. Bolts of electricity are zapping the ground around the time machine, preventing anyone from getting near. I guess the antennae have been misaligned. My vision is starting to cloud up and turn grayer, from what looks like steam or smoke filling the inside of the time machine. I look around to see where this steam is coming from. There are pipes around the ceiling that have been busted, split open.

The time machine is shaking more violently than ever now, knocking me back and forth all over the place. At this point, I'm less concerned with whatever is happening outside the time machine, and more concerned with me surviving this ordeal. The adrenaline is pumping through my veins, and my heart is beating faster than I think it ever has in my life. To put it bluntly, I am afraid. Terrified. Fearing for my life. Why did I ever sign up for this experiment? This was the worst idea ever!

Now the time machine is completely dark inside, and the steam makes it near impossible to see. But I can still hear what's going on, especially my friends, Andrew, Dad and Dexter shouting, and the "Dee Dee" girl laughing. I hear Dad yell, "We need to shut this down now! Get Mark out of there!"

I hear someone banging down on buttons. "I can't! She's completely frozen the controls!" Dexter yells back. I try to get up and look through the window, but no matter how much I try, I'm always knocked over. After the 4th try, I realize that this isn't going to work. With nothing I can do about this, I lean back and prepare for whatever comes next. There's no way I'm getting out of this.

Or am I? I hear a distinct crashing sound on the glass. I look up just in time to see something bash against the window again, but to no avail. I also see a shadow of a person and what looks like a chair. Someone is trying to break the glass barrier and get me out, but it's not working out very well. The glass hasn't even suffered a scratch. I lean back again, my hands behind my head, looking at the now barely visible illustration of a clock going around the glass barrier. I think the time travel's entering its final stage now because everything's starting to light up. Seriously, everything is getting much brighter. This is so weird. Dexter must notice the brightness increasing too because he starts yelling at Dad to get away from the time machine right now. Dad's the one trying to break me out. However, being the persistent and stubborn guy he is, Dad keeps trying to break the glass, and at one point it does slightly crack a miniscule amount of the glass. As the inside begins to get brighter, I see that outside the glass, Dexter is trying to pull Dad away from me. After getting a few Dexbots to help him, Dexter successfully pulls Dad away, but Dad doesn't like that. He's constantly screaming my name out, and yelling at Dexter to let him go back. He wants to get me out of there, but sadly, that hope is almost certainly futile. Then I realize it: Andrew's going to be all alone. He's going to be without an older brother. I've always protected him when he's needed it, and now I'll be gone. I need to see him one last time in case I'm no longer around again.

I jump up, resist the urge to fall over again and hurry to the glass barrier, holding on to it for dear life. I scan the room for Andrew and find him with Mom. He's panicking, crying, screaming. I absolutely hate seeing Andrew like this, but I'd rather see him like this than never get a last chance to see him. The brightness begins to obscure Andrew's face, and I hear Dexter yell, "EVERYONE, GET AWAY FROM THE TIME MACHINE NOW! RUN!", then the sound of wheels moving and people running. The brightness is getting too much for me right now, so much it actually hurts. I cover my eyes and collapse back into the time machine, waiting for whatever is going to happen next. Dexter yells out, "SET UP REFLECTIVE FORCE FIELDS!" His voice is getting more and more distorted every second, obscured by the noise of the time machine about to blast through time. I can barely even make out what anyone is saying anymore.

Then I hear a loud, much clearer yell from my dad: "ANDREW, NO!" Wait, WHAT?! I uncover my eyes, and despite the blinding light, I look to the outside, and I can see someone outside. Andrew. I squint as much as I can, and he's trying to do something to the time machine. I think he's trying to find a way to open it. Oh, Andrew, what are you doing? If my dad couldn't open it, you surely can't! I try to yell out to him, but he can't hear me. "ANDREW, STOP! GET AWAY FROM HERE!" I yell as loud as I can, and I manage to get him to hear me. His gaze attaches to mine, and for a few seconds, we just look into each other's eyes, as if saying one last goodbye. Well, I don't know for sure if I'll die, but I'm doing this just in case it does happen. What I'm more worried about now is whether Andrew will be OK. The light then gets so bright that I'm forced to close my eyes, and the rumbling noises become the only things I can hear. Then suddenly, just like that, it all stops. The light and noise go away at the exact same time, and I start falling.

I begin to fly all over the inside of the time machine. I uncover my eyes, and all I can see outside is greenish-blue. I have barely any time to process this before I have to protect my face from hitting the wall. Whenever I look outward, there is just greenish-blue light rippling through infinity. Every so often, I swear I can see something outside, very far down from the time machine, that is on- wait, part of the greenish-blue here looks like a liquid. This is going to be a rough landing.

I brace myself for impact, but miraculously, the time machine and everything in it slows down and then completely stops just on the watery substance. As I land in a much less sudden fashion, a ripple emanates from the landing point and continues on forever. It becomes one of the several other ripples going across the surface. The time machine isn't shaking anymore, so I get up to observe where the heck I am. I look out the window and see a greenish-blue or turquoise color in every direction. This looks like a greenish-blue sky, except without a sun, and yet it's still bright. I don't know if I'm on another planet or in a completely different dimension. I get ready for the glass barrier in the time machine to rise and allow me to look around this weird place, but it doesn't. Strange. Maybe the environment outside isn't compatible.

Wait a moment. I see two people, hundreds of feet from me. One of them appears to be glowing, but the other isn't. Who are they? I bang my fist on the glass barrier, calling out to them. The one who isn't glowing turns to face me, and immediately starts running after me. At that moment, the time machine falls through the floor and turns over. I momentarily fall to the right before falling back to the left, and a bright blue flash enters the time machine while this happens. When I resurface, I'm in the same place now, except I see a group of people facing the same glowing person and a few other non-glowing people. They're about the same distance away. I don't get what this is, or what I'm seeing. I fall through the floor again just as I begin to feel that they know I'm here.

After resurfacing again, I'm still in this realm, but I see something different. On the left, around the same distance as the glowing people were, is a glowing white circle, and there are small things outside it, moving around. I look to the right, and see what I think is a person. They're running toward the glowing circle and the things outside it. There's someone else behind that person too. It stops, and the running person falls over. For some reason, I think they see me. The other person runs up and jumps on top of the person who fell down. What the heck is going on here? After a bit, a bright light appears behind the person on top, and holds them in the air. After around 30 seconds, the floor suddenly splits open and sends the fallen person toward the circle. But as for the time machine, it falls into the gap.

I start flying around again, now entering a vortex of light. I am being flung around even farther than I was before. Now, it feels like gravity doesn't know where to pull me, so I'm just falling in random directions, and sometimes just float in the middle. Every time I look outside, I can see myself falling through a tube of distorted space. Vortexes and swirls of energy of various colors surround the time machine. I can't get a grip on anything before I'm thrown somewhere else. Not long after I enter this vortex of turquoise, I am flung by another force into something, and in an instant, I am enveloped by darkness.

Andrew - May 28, 2016 - 2:23 PM

I can't see anything... That flash was so bright that it takes everything up. I really hope I'm not blind. Thankfully, the light starts to fade away after a few seconds. It's dark. There's glass on the floor from all the lights, and the time machine is gone. The only thing in its place are a few things that fell off it. Once I see that the time machine, where my older brother just was, isn't there, the tears begin to stream down my face faster than a waterfall. Ever since I can remember, Mark has always told me that he would protect me from anything that tried to hurt me. He said he would do anything to help me. Now... he's gone, and I have no idea how long. I really hope that the guardian Mark has always told me about is trying to help him right now. As the shields begin to go away, I hear Mom and Mark's friends come near me and pull me back. I expect to get yelled at for doing what I did, but nobody does. They all understand. Evan and his friends aren't as much crying as they are shocked, trying to believe what just happened. Their long-time friend was just lost in a time travel experiment gone wrong.

"Cut the feed," Dexter says. He's just stand there, staring at where the time machine was. He's shaking like crazy. When Dexter gives that order, Computress starts writing in her clipboard, and all the Dexbots do something to the cameras and put them down. I think they shut off all the cameras in the building. But why?


This "Dee Dee" girl can't even begin another sentence before Dexter screams again: "If you are trying to apologize to me, it is FAR too late for that! Not only have you destroyed my greatest and newest creation, which took MONTHS of meticulous design and complicated quantum calculations to make, you have just put someone in extreme danger! Do you want to know who? THIS LAB ASSISTANT'S SON!"

Dexter points to Dad, who is looking at Dee Dee with the angriest expression I have ever seen someone have. He doesn't even look like Dad anymore. I back away from both of them as a result. Dexter walks over to Dad and says, "Only words."

"Andrew... you'll want... to leave... for this," Dad says, not taking his eyes off of Dee Dee. He's breathing heavily, with his shoulders are moving up and down with the breathing. He looks even angrier than Dexter. The Dee Dee girl is just staring at Dad, looking super scared. Dexter motions his hand to a Dexbot. The Dexbot wheels over to a control panel near the entrance to the hallway. After pressing a few buttons on the panel, the door opens and the Dexbot says:

"Andrew Emeron, please come this way. We'll bring you to the waiting room while we prepare a few tests in the wake of your... experience. To make sure you're safe."

"...OK," I say as I reluctantly follow the Dexbot to the massive hallway outside the chamber. The metal door closes behind us, and walk into the waiting room across the hall. I sit down in the chair that is the farthest away from the door and cover my ears tightly, and seconds after I sit down, I hear the yelling. The loudest screams I've ever heard in my life, so loud that even though I'm covering my ears in a waiting room across the hall from the chamber, which a large metal door is sealing off, I can still clearly hear it. He is yelling words that I have never even heard of before. Some of these might even be the "forbidden words". He's calling Dee Dee things like "a disgrace", "a destroyer of progress", "a potential murderer", and... I don't even know what he just said there, but it doesn't sound good. OK, what in the world is he saying? Are these other forbidden words he didn't tell me about? I'll ask him later. But not now. Now's not a good time.

After 30 seconds of hearing Dad scream, I smell something weird. It smells like paint. A lot of paint. For some reason, it feels extremely familiar. Dad's yells start to get quieter until they're gone completely. I cover my ears and I hear nothing. It's completely silent. Did he stop? Then without warning, someone appears outside the window. He is tall and is glowing brightly, to the point that I can't even make out anything about it other than its human shape. After the first surprise, I begin to wonder: could this glowing guy be the "Guardian" Mark has always told me about? I don't know how he could be late to save Mark here unless something else is going on in wherever he comes from. He stands there, looking at me, for a few seconds, before walking right through the wall as if it weren't even there. At this point, I have to shield my eyes. It's glowing that brightly.

"Sorry about that," he says in a rather angelic tone. Almost as if he can control it, the light stops being as bright. Still, I can't make out any features on it. It's like one of those glow-in-the-dark stickers on the walls of my room. It has a clear shape, but it's glowing everywhere.

"Who are you?" I ask him. "Are you... Are you the Guardian?"

The glowing person stops for a second, before saying,

"Yes, I am," he says. He pauses for a second, and looks up to the center of the room. There's a security camera looking directly at the two of us. He looks back down to me, and kneels down so his eyes are my level. He puts my hand in his hands, and I feel a strange feeling. I don't know why, but it reminds me of when I was a baby. I see images of him standing over me in my crib, and him shining a light on me from his hand. He says, "Don't worry about Mark. I am making sure he'll be safe. You will see him again."

"How soon will I see him?" I ask him.

"About... two and a half years. Potentially much sooner." Wait, two and a half years? I'll be over 10 years old by then! Mark's friends will be either 16 or 17! But he's saying that Mark could come back sooner, but he's not saying when. I don't know which option to believe. He leans even closer to me, and whispers into my ear: "By the way, there's something secret Evan wants to tell you about. Don't tell anyone else. When the rest come, and they see this, you cannot tell them what I just said."

The lights suddenly come back on, startling me a bit, because I jump out of my chair and end up looking to the right. I turn back to the Guardian as he's getting up.

"I must go now... But we will meet again," the Guardian says as the door to the chamber opens. The Guardian turns around, walks through the glass and wall again and goes to the left. I run out of the waiting room and look down the hall. There's nothing there. No trace of him anywhere or any evidence that he was ever in this area at all- well, maybe the camera might have some. That's when all the noise of a normal hallway comes back. Evan, Amanda, and other friends are leaving the room, all looking sad. Dad, Jade, and Mom walk out next, all crying. I have to put a stop to this. I have to tell them what I've seen. Mom comes toward me and extends out her arms. I guess she expects me to run into them, which is why she's surprised when I don't.

"What did they say?" I ask.

The entire room goes silent. Mom steps close to me, and says, "Mark is going to be gone for..." She hesitates. She is scared of telling me, even though I already know what she's going to say. "Two and a half years-"

"I don't think it'll be that long," I say, interrupting her completely. Everyone is surprised.

"I understand your denial, Andrew," Amanda says, breaking the silence. "All of us are denying he'll be gone for that long too. But Dexter said that's what would happen, and he's one of the greatest geniuses on the planet-"

"Mark's guardian came to me and told me he could come back sooner than that!"

"Wait, hold up! Guardian?" Evan says. "You mean the one that Mark talked about every so often?"

"Yes!" I'm yelling now, to get everyone else's attention. "While you were yelling at the girl, Dad, he came to me in the waiting room. Yes, he did tell me that Mark may come back in 2.5 years, but he also said that Mark could come back 'potentially much sooner.'" I look back into the waiting room, and the camera on the ceiling.

I hear the door open yet again, and this time, Computress and Dexter are leaving. Dexter looks very irritated, and Computress is trying to calm him down. Dexter is saying quietly, "If she wasn't my sister, I would-"

"Computress, what security camera is that?" I say, interrupting Dexter. I point to the camera.

"That is the Experimental Floor WR2 Security Camera. Why exactly do you ask?"

"You can see what's been caught on cameras since you're connected to Dexlabs, right? I've heard that you are able to see everything that goes on!"

"That is correct-" She pauses, then she looks surprised. "This is very interesting." Beams of light shoot out of her eyes onto the wall next to the large door. The whole encounter was recorded, and as everyone in the hallway watches it, they are in absolute shock and awe. When the Guardian went through the wall, apparently it messed up the footage, because every now and then, the audio and video would go weird or cut entirely. It's during then that I tell them what the Guardian told me, except when he whispers into my ear. When Evan asks why I'm not telling them, I say, "He told me not to tell you."

After Computress finishes projecting what the camera saw, she is extremely confused, even for a robot. My parents don't know what to say, and most of my friends are just staring at the wall, unsure of how exactly to react to what they saw. They have all seen proof of the existence of Mark's guardian. The thing that my parents have always thought to be a long-running joke is a real thing. This "Guardian" is now known to be real by the greatest genius in the world.

I walk over to Evan and whisper into his ear, "The Guardian had told me to ask you about something secret that you know about. What is that?"

Evan pauses for a few seconds, before he turns around and says, "Excuse us." We walk a long distance away from the group of people, and I whisper into Evan's ear: "So what is it?"

"It's about this..." Evan lowers his voice. "This cool... club that you can be part of."

"A club?" I am in the middle of asking, but Evan shushes me in the middle of me saying that word. I'm interested in what this "club" he's talking about is. He then whispers into my ear, even more quietly than the Guardian:

"It's something your parents can't be a part of. You can't tell anyone about it except for people you know for a fact are in it. Don't tell Jade, the rest of my friends, or anyone else. Tomorrow, I'll come over to explain it all to you. You'll be home at around 10:00ish, right?"