Changing the Future, a Story
“Believe in things much greater and far more mysterious than we can explain,” Nancy Pennwater Stephenson told me after she came from the house with Mr. and Mrs. Erickson. They had no problem believing Vree had vanished.
“Why aren’t you upset?” I asked Vree’s parents. “Why aren’t you angry that she’s in the past and dead again?” I stood over the sinkhole and gazed inside. I was drenched and feeling defeated. The rain had stopped a few minutes after Vree had fallen, but new storm clouds threatened to unleash their burden on us.
Nancy said, “It’s okay. We did what we could to save her.” She turned and said goodbye to Mr. and Mrs. Erickson. “I have a room at the Alice Lake Motel,” she said to Vree’s mom. “Call me if you need anything. I’ll help as much as I can … whatever I can do.”
Vree’s dad showed his granddaughter from another time, another dimension to her car.
“Charles and I would like to be alone,” Mrs. Erickson said to me.
I wasn’t ready to leave. “Vree was pregnant,” I said. “How does someone get pregnant without having sex? It’s biologically impossible for the human species.”
“It will make sense when the time is right.” She went to her husband’s side and waved at Nancy when the Sunbird drove away.
“Go home,” Mr. Erickson said to me. He was tall and his hair was the same blonde color as Vree’s.
“This is it?” I looked dumbly at them. “Your daughter’s gone.”
“We’ll let you know of any changes.” He led his wife indoors.
I kicked a clump of sod into the sinkhole. How could they be so nonchalant about Vree’s death?
Thunder boomed. I yelped. Electricity filled the air.
The sound of a thousand bees came from the sky. My hair stood.
Lightning struck an old oak tree behind Vree’s tent. I stumbled, almost fell, then caught my balance and stood upright.
Green light swirled deep inside the sinkhole.
Vree was down there, alive beyond the light, somewhere in the past.
I stood close to the edge of the hole and jumped. I did not fall. I went nowhere. I stood on top of the sinkhole and defied the law of gravity. So I stepped off invisible ground and jumped again. Again, I stood on top of the sinkhole.
What was going on?
I needed to talk to someone.
Dave was in a wicker chair on his front porch when I got there. He nodded and said “uh-huh” and “okay” while I paced the wooden floor and recounted everything that had taken place. When I finished, he gazed at me for a moment, then said, “Well, that’s certainly interesting.”
Amy opened the screen door and stepped onto the porch. “Are you on drugs?” she asked me.
“No,” I said, offended.
“What a cockamamie story. Maybe Dave believes it, but I don’t. Not for a minute.”
“It’s true. Why would I make it up?” I turned to Dave and blurted, “I don’t know what to do.” I sounded frantic.
“I don’t think there’s anything you can do,” he said.
I groaned. “There has to be.”
I shook my head. “I don’t know.”
A shriek came from inside the house.
“Mom?” Amy fumbled with the door. I followed as she and Dave ran to the living room. Mrs. Evans stared at the TV set on the floor. Her eyes were wide.
A rough impression on the TV’s snowy screen resembled Vree’s face.
“Holy crap,” Amy said.
The air crackled. My neck hair seemed alive. I scratched at it.
Dave scratched his neck too. He crouched in front of the screen.
Vree’s image vanished. A woman in black tap-danced on a white stage.
“Channel ten,” Dave said.
“A Canada channel,” I said.
“What does that mean?”
“I don’t know.”
“What’s going on?” Mrs. Evans asked.
“Vree’s missing,” Dave said. He jumped up and said to me, “Come on.”
I followed him outdoors and down the road to Vree’s house. We stopped at the sinkhole and peered inside. The green light was gone. He said, “You tried to jump in the hole so you could follow Vree but there was a force field that kept you from entering.”
He got on his hands and knees and put a hand in the hole. “There’s no force field now.” He sounded disappointed.
“And no green light,” I pointed out.
“You said the light came twice.”
“Yes. The first time was after Vree fell in the hole. A creepy baritone voice said ‘We have her’ and the light vanished. The second time was when l Lightning struck that tree over there.” I pointed to the old oak behind Vree’s tent. “I tried to jump in but….”
Dave looked at the sky. The storm clouds had gone away but the sky was still overcast.” He stood. “The lightning energized a wormhole through time and sent Vree to the past. But how? And how did she become pregnant?”
“Magic,” a woman said behind us.