Back to 2006 Student Contest Winners List
The present, 2006
“ Finally, school’s over”said Mark with a sigh of relief as he jumped off the bus. As he headed home, Mark was thinking about the science test he hadn’t studied for . Of course, when he got home, he threw his backpack aside and started playing video games. He had already forgotten about the science test. When his mom got home, and asked the usual question, he told her that he had done his homework, and was going to play football outside with his friends.
“At last! I think this time portal is complete”said Randolph with a huge smile on his face.
“Let’s just give it a little test.” Randolph pulled a lever, adjusted some settings and was amazed by his creation.
Mark never made it outside to play football. He saw a blinding light that was getting brighter and brighter until… Zap!
“What’s going on? Whe… Where am I?”mumbled Mark, just starting to focus after fainting. He saw a strange–looking man staring at him as if Mark were a science project.
“Who are you?” asked Mark .
“I am Randolph, and you are, I believe, about five hundred years in your future.”
“Yeah, right. Very funny. Like I’m supposed to believe that I’m five hundred years in the future, and anyway, if what you’re telling me is true, why would you bring me to the future?”
“Well the thing is, I just finished building this time portal, and I wanted to try it out. I guess you must of gotten warped in the future.”
“If you don’t believe me, look at the computer screen.”
Mark looked at the screen. It was dated Wednesday, January 14, 2506.
“Wait but… I… I can’t be in the future.”
“Why not?”said the man.
“I… I just can’t. It isn’t possible.”
“Well, you are,” said Randolph.”Start getting used to the idea because so far this portal only goes one way.”
Mark was stunned. What if he were in the future! He might not see his mom and his friends again! The worst part was that there was nothing he could do! Was there?
Mark was going crazy. He was, supposedly, five hundred years in the future and the only person who knew how or why was some strange man who was not even friendly. “Is Randolph crazy? Is he going to sell me to the government as if I’m some strange experiment? Hmmm… I wonder if I am worth a lot? Could he really be telling the truth? If he is , then this guy Randolph is my only ticket out.”
“So, your name is Randolph, right”asked Mark calmly.
“Yes,” answered Randolph, puzzled by Mark’s sudden change in attitude.
“That’s a nice name… I’m Mark.”
“You don’t need to sound so hopeless.”
“Hopeless? Who’s sounding hopeless? I don’t sound hopeless. I’m just simply trying to…”
“Don’t worry. I won’t hurt you. I’ll just sell you to some people who will perform experiments using your body.”
“Calm down. I’m joking… I’m joking! Didn’t people have a sense of humor five hundred years ago?”
“That wasn’t funny! I thought you were about to send me, like a specimen, to some lab where people couldn’t care less about me!”
“I’m sorry. I didn’t want to scare you. Besides, I would make sure that it would be an agency who would keep you alive and well.”
“Randolph,” groaned Mark.
“Okay, sorrny.”said Randolph.
“Anyway, back to the problem at hand. I need to get back home, and you’re the only one who can help me.”
“I can’t,” said Randolph quietly.
“Well, right now I don’t have the equipment, and if I did get it, I still wouldn’t be able to guarantee you that I could send you back to the right place in the right year. For all I know, I could send you back too far in time and you’d find yourself on a Viking ship outside of Finland in the year 1001.”
“Okay, Randolph. How long will it take for you to get it right?”
“It depends. If we have to rebuild a whole new time portal – about three years. If not — just a week.”
“A week,” thought Mark. His mom was going to kill him if he did get home… Maybe he could live here for the rest of his life. Maybe there wasn’t school here in the future. Things were looking better.
“Hey, Randolph. Is there school in the future?”
“Of course there is! How do you think I became so smart?”
“I don’t know.”
“Stop wasting time. We need to get you back home, and to do that I’m going to go get some parts to improve this machine.”
“Okay, how long is that going to take?”
“ Well, finding all the parts will take about five days. Then it’s going to take another two or three days to fix it.”
“Well, how long are you going to be out every day?”
“I will have to travel the country to find all the parts I need.”
Mark looked around the strange room and wondered if he could bear staying alone.
“If this another of your horrible jokes that really isn’t funny.”
“No, I mean it.”
“What do you mean! You’re leaving me?”
“Don’t worry . As long as you never go upstairs, you’ll be fine.”
“Why? What’s upstairs? A dragon ? A guy with a machine–gun? Educational television? A teacher who lives with you ?”
“That’s scary.” Mark briefly looked at the door at the top of the stairs.
“Things really aren't going my way, thought Mark, I’m going to have to stay here by myself for five days while the one guy I know will be traveling all over the country. Plus, there’s someone or something upstairs which is worse than educational television. What could be worse than educational television? Whatever it is, it will not be very friendly with me if it knows I’m here.”
“When are you leaving?” asked Mark
“Well… I guess I’ll leave tomorrow.”
Mark’s belly was growling. He hadn’t eaten since noon, and he had forgotten to eat his snack at school.
“Hey Randolph, do you have anything to eat?”
“Yeah, there are sandwiches in the fridge. Get me one too. I forgot to have lunch.”
When Mark opened the fridge, all he saw were old, moldy, disgusting sandwiches that could not be edible.
“Gross!” shouted Mark. “Is this food or one of your creations? These sandwiches must have been made before I was born.”
“Calm down, and yes, this is one of my inventions . This refrigerator allows any food inside it to stay fresh and healthy for years. The only bad thing is that it still looks horrible and smells awful. Go on, try it.”
When Mark tried the sandwich, it tasted as if he were going to heaven.
“This is great.”
“Thank you,” said Randolph yawning.
“Hey, Randolph. It’s getting late. We should go to sleep. We have a big day tomorrow.”
“What do you mean when you say ‘We’?”
“Well I think I deserve to come with you. After all, I’m going to be the one actually using this machine, portal… whatever you call it.”
“But… but… fine. Just remember. The places we’re going are very dangerous. This will be illegal marketing.”
“I promise. Good night.”
As Mark closed his eyes he thought about home and all that he was already missing. The next morning, when Mark woke up, Randolph was already packed. He handed him a set of clothes. “We need you to fit in,” he said.
“Are you ready?”asked Randolph.
“Well, what’s our first stop?”
“We get to go to L. A.? That’s so cool.”
“Well don’t get over enthusiastic. A lot can change in five hundred years.”
When they got to L. A., the whole city had changed. It looked fresh and clean. All the smog and the crazy highways were gone. What had happened?
“I guess a lot can change in five hundred years,” thought Mark.
“Hey, Mark. I forgot to tell you. I found someone who is willing to sell me a good time portal that has already been made.”
“Really! That’s amazing. I thought you were the only one who could make a time portal.”
Randolph stopped in front of an old shop and said “We’re here.”
A strange looking man came forward, and asked Randolph if he was the guy who had called him that morning.
“Yes,” answered Randolph.
“Then come inside, Sir,” said the strange man.
“Where is the portal?” asked Randolph.
The man pointed to a huge object under some covers. Randolph took off the covers and carefully examined the portal.
“Five hundred grand.”
“What? I don’t have that much money?”
“That, or no portal.”
Randolph paused, but then said, “I’ll work for you for a year if you let the boy use it.”
“Randolph! No”begged Mark.
“I brought you here. Now I’m going to send you back home.”
“It’s a deal.” said the man. He turned on the portal and said “Go on.”
“Randolph. Before I go in, I just want to tell you that this whole experience turned me into a better and more thoughtful person. Before you brought me here I was a kid that didn’t study for tests and couldn’t care less about being loyal to my family, but after all you’ve done to get me back home, I know what it means to be a good person. Thank you.”
“That means a lot to me and… I’ll never forget you, Mark.”
“I’ll miss you.” replied Mark, walking slowly into the portal. “Wait a minute, before I go, why didn’t you want me to go upstairs Randolph?”
Randolph looked into Mark’s eyes, took a deep breath and said “Upstairs are the laboratories where I work. Meeting you made me think. Go on back home Mark, and good luck.”
The next thing Mark saw was a familiar woman who looked very worried.
“Mark!”she said hugging him as if there was no tomorrow.
“Mark! You’re alive! I was so worried. I went out to water the plants and I saw you laying on the ground and… “
“Mom, I’m fine. I just had a rough day at school.”
“Is there someone who’s been picking on you?”
“No. Don’t worry. Now, if you excuse me, I have a big test tomorrow, and I haven’t studied. Oh, and mom.”
“I love you.”