A Visit to the Past
By: Jessica Jin
Four exhausted friends, Emma Green, Quinn Glynn, Laura Miller, and Li Mai appeared out of nowhere on the sidewalk of their neighborhood on a nice fall day. They gasped for fresh air. Their clothes were torn and dirty. Quinn’s glasses were in bad shape and Emma’s bag looked like it was chewed up by a dog. They looked like they came from a zombie school, with backpacks on and looking half dead. Emma, Quinn, and Laura looked at Li. She gave a weak smile. Since readers don’t know anything about the button, maybe you can mention this later.
Earlier that day…
“Guys, how did you do on the test? I did horrible,” Li asked, looking at her graded test while walking with her friends, side by side on the sidewalk, to their neighborhood on a cloudy day in August. The four friends live close together and their neighborhood is close enough to just walk back home from school.
“I did great! I got 100%!” Emma explained with a satisfied smile.
“Of course you did, I got a 92%,” Laura said showing her test paper to Jessica.
“Pff, I got a 10-” Quinn was rudely interrupted by Emma.
“Yeah, we get it! You got a 101% Quinn!”
“Wait, how is that possible?” Li asked while opening the gates of their neighborhood.
“I think you can get extra credit,” Laura guessed “Did you guys find the text strange in the test? It said that it was ‘historical’ but four young kids helped the Americans in the war and actually helped them win!? That can’t be true!”
“Yeah, that was weird. It must have been a typo.” Emma said.
“I GOT 120%!” Quinn yelled so no one could interrupt him again.
“Oh, well that's reasonable. It was a history test. You do love your history,” Emma said. Laura nodded in agreement, but then stopped. She looked around. She held out her arm to stop the others.
“What is it, Laura?” Emma asked. She was on her tippy toes to try to see over her arm. They were close to Quinn’s house now.
“Guys, where is Li?” Laura asked. Quinn and Emma looked around as well. They too realize that Li was missing, but then-
“GUYS! Look at this!” Li’s voice called behind them from a bush beside the sidewalk. It was a good distance away from the rest of the group. The other three friends walk to clear the voice. Li’s head popped up out of the bushes. She had leaves and twigs in her hair, but she seemed to not mind. She held out a strange device from all of them to see. It was a gray box, the size of a phone, but had a big, red button on it. It covered half of the device. What was the strangest was that this device was just in the bushes of their neighborhood. Li’s hand was hovering above the button. It slowly lowered.
“Don’t do it. Remember last time you pressed the button on another device. It made the neighborhood gates close. We were stuck out there for 2 hours until someone saw us. And that time when you pressed the button that made the school’s fire alarm go off,” Quinn said with his arms crossed.
“Oh yeah, at least we didn’t get in trouble for making the entire school rush outside in the pouring rain. But I’m going to do it anyway. It is a big button; how can you not press it?” Li said eagerly.
“Control yourself. It is intimidating but you don’t know what it’s going to do this time. It's not even ours,” Quinn said more forcefully. “Wait a minute, did you say ‘we’?”
“Oh, come on Quinn, it probably doesn’t work anymore. If it was out here, it would have been damaged by the rain,” Emma said, ignoring his question.
“I’m going to take the risk!” Li said. Quinn ran at Li to stop her, and Laura dived right at her to try to take the device from her, but she slapped the button before they could even move.
Slowly, each friend opened their eyes. They found themselves in a field. All of the grass was dead, and the sky was dark with smoke. They heard bombs and cries in the descents. They all were worried, and they all thought of the same thing, where are we? Quinn glared at Li. She didn’t notice them. She was too focused to look around them.
“So, Li, do you think it was a good idea to press the button now? And Emma, do you really think the device doesn’t work now?” Quinn said.
“Hmm? Oh, it was worth it! That button was clean and had a really good push to it!” Li realized that Quinn probably didn’t want to hear that.
“Ok fine. It was satisfying, but I guess my emotions of pressing big buttons got the better of me,” She hung her head down.
“And I guess I was wrong about the device. But most of the time, I’m always right!” Emma’s ego kicked in.
“Quinn now is not the time to point out what people did wrong. Let's just sit here and try to figure out where we are,” Laura said wisely.
They took off their backpacks and sat them beside themselves and sat there in silence for a while, trying to comprehend where they were, but the peacefulness of their quietness ended. They heard loud marching towards both sides of them. They all turned to see who was there. They could make out an army on both sides.
“Ummmm, guys I think we have to go now,” Li said.
“Where do we go?” Laura asked. Emma quietly did eeny meeny miny mo.
“That way!” She shouted.
The four friends took their bags and ran off. They ran for a few minutes; they could now see the armies on both sides. The armies were coming close. They could also start seeing an American flag waving in the descents on one side, and a German flag waving on the opposing side. They started to run faster. After 10 minutes, the friends saw a small village, but it looked like everyone was gone. There was an old run-down warehouse that was fairly close to the friends and was a good distance away from what would be the fighting area. They also saw the armies only a couple of feet away now from them.
“Should we go to the warehouse?” Quinn asked.
“It’s our only chance to not be in the middle of this war,” Emma said. They started to sprint now. Laura made it there first. She opened the door to the warehouse. She held it open for the rest of the friends. She came in and made sure she closed the door behind her. Inside was run down and it was dark. It did have a small window, but outside gave no light. It also looked out on the war that was going to happen at any second. They all looked for some sort of light source. But Li pulled out a flashlight from her bag. The others look confused.
“Why do you have that?” Quinn asked in a low voice.
“My pencil fell under the shelves yesterday,” Li whispered.
“Of course, your pencil fell under there,” Emma mocked pretty loudly.
“Emma, you whisper very loudly,” Li took note of. Emma rolled her eyes.
“I’m going to have to agree with Li, you do have a bit of a big mouth. We don’t want your loudness to get us caught by the people out there,” Quinn said pointing to the window.
“That reminds me, we need to watch the war and make sure no one sees us,” Quinn whispered. Quinn headed to the window. He stepped back to allow each of us to see out there since it was so small. The war was now starting. They could feel the rumbling from the explosion from their hideout. They all took turns looking out the window to make sure no one came to the warehouse. They all kept quiet. In what seemed like days, Laura finally broke the sights.
“Guys? Do you think we are on the other side of the world from our neighborhood?” Laura asked worriedly.
“We can’t be. I saw the American soldier’s gear. They haven't worn that kind of gear in ages,” Quinn said in a corner of the warehouse.
“Oh,” Laura said in a low voice.
“A German is coming to the warehouse!” Li whispered.
“We probably can’t talk to them and beg for our lives. So we really need to get out of here,” Quinn said in a low voice. They all scurried to the door. Emma reached for the doorknob, but then-
The door slapped agents inside the warehouse. A German soldier stepped in. They were too late. He was startled by the four children standing there. All five of them froze.
“RUN!” Laura shouted. She snapped the other three back to reality. The soldier was still stunned, Laura pushed the soldier to the ground and ran towards the village. The other three sprinted after her. The soldier on the ground looked at the four running kids, still shocked by their appearance. He then shook his head vigorously back to real life. He wasted no time and got up to shout,
“THERE’S KIDS ON THE LOOSE!”
Several people from that war paused and looked at the soldier. He pointed towards the village. A different soldier that was also German ran after the kids. Quinn looked back. When he saw the soldier, he started to run faster.
“GUYS! We are getting chased!” Quinn shouted. They all started to run faster now.
“COME BACK HERE KIDS!” the soldier yelled from behind. The four friends were now in the middle of the village. The soldier was getting closer. They all notice that the village was a ghost town. The houses were bordered up with wood planks. Some of the windows were smashed. And most of the doors were blocked with metal sheets. The fountain that was in the middle of the ghost town was dry. It had small coins at the bottom. It looked like it hadn't been used in years. Quinn reached down to the fountain and took a few coins. He inspected each of the coins. His eyes widened.
“We need to hide somewhere,” Li said, not noticing Quinn’s reaction to the coins.
“How bout that building,” Emma pointed to a building that was in better condition than the rest. The door wasn't sealed by wooden planks, but it was pretty far away.
“That’s too far. We would get caught by the soldier before we reach it,” Quinn said, now looking up from the coins.
“Speaking of the soldier, he is getting closer! We need to take the risk!” Laura pointed to the soldier, only a yard away now.
“Let's go!” Quinn said. He slipped the coins into his pocket. The four ran towards the building, but they didn’t get far because hands grabbed on the backpacks of Laura’s and Emma’s, stopping them from running. Quinn and Li stopped immediately when they noticed that their friends weren’t moving. All four friends turned their heads to see who was there. It was not the soldier that was chasing them. This soldier had a red circle on his helmet, it was a JAPANESE person! He had a stern face and held Emma and Laura tightly. Emma, Quinn, Laura, and Li were very confused. What was a Japanese person doing here in a German and American war? The soldier that was chasing them finally caught up with them. His face was as red as a tomato from exciton.
“Hear,” the Japanese person said in the strongest Japanese accent the kids had ever heard. He moved Emma and Laura towards the soldier. He held them in one hand by their backpacks. He then stretched his other arm to grab Quinn’s and Li’s backpacks.
“Thanks, these kids can sure run fast!” the soldier said.
“Of course, we ran fast! You were chasing us!” Emma blurted.
“You're welcome, sir and I don’t want to hear a word from you four,” the Japanese soldier said. He glared at the four friends. Quinn couldn’t believe what he saw. He thought he knew everything about the Wars, but he never knew that Japan and Germany teamed up.
“Take them to the control center. Make sure they don’t get away,” the soldier said. The Japanese person nodded. With his hands still holding the four friends, he pulled them to the building the friends were going to go in. When they got to the door, the Japanese soldier knocked on the door with his foot, since his hands were occupied. The door slowly opened. The person that opened the door was a soldier. He had the same red circle on his helmet as the soldier who was holding the friends. He was another Japanese person.
“Chi, tie them around the pole,” ordered the Japanese soldier who was holding the friends. He shoved them inside. Inside was just a single room. The soldier stepped outside and shut the door, leaving the friends with the other soldier named Chi.
“No funny business,” he said. He had an accent too, but Li thought that it was rather familiar. He made them stand around a pole that was in the middle of the room. They had their backs facing the pole. He then made them all set down. He tied the left hand of Emma’s to the right hand of Li with rope. He tied tightly. Li and Emma tried not to yelp. He then tied Li’s left hand to Laura’s right hand, and so on. The friends could not move away from the pole, because each one of them was part of the “chain”. If one of them tried to walk away, the person on the other side would get pulled against the pole. They all found this out fast. They decided to just sit down. They all looked around. Only Chi was there in the room. He was doing stuff on a computer on the opposite side of the door. The whole room was pretty dark, but the friends could make out some selves with bombs.
“Li, can’t you talk to him?” Emma said. Chi turned his head to see who was talking. Emma eminently shut her mouth. Chi looked back at his computer.
“I told you that you had a big mouth,” Li muttered.
“And no! He seems to only understand English and Japanese. Plus, I told you this a thousand times, I only speak Chinese,” Li hissed.
“It's the same thing! Just start talking, if he only understands English and Japanese, he won't understand you! It's worth a try,” Emma said, ignoring the comment about her big mouth. On the other side of Li, Laura nodded when Li looked at her. Li took a deep breath.
“Chi?” She asked to get his attention. He turned around.
“What?” he asked in annoyance. Li replied in Chinese. Chi raised his eyebrows. He started to talk in what seemed like Chinese. The two talked for a while until Quinn interrupted them.
“Excuse me but is Chi understanding you?” he asked.
“Yes! He is acutely Chinese. I knew I found his accent familiar. It’s just like my parents. He is designed as a Japanese soldier and plans to kill the Japanese when they least expect it! The government in China, sent five Chinese soldiers to sneak into the Japanese base. Chi is sadly the only one left but is getting closer to having full trust in the Japanese. If he lets us go, his mission will fail,” Li informed the rest of the group. Chi nodded in approval.
“Ok, but we still need to get out, also I told you it would be worth a try,” Emma said.
“Chi will let us go, but we need to make it look like we were very powerful and destroyed him, so the Japanese don’t suspect anything. He told me something that I think all of you should know before we go, but I think that Chi should explain it,” Li said. She nodded to Chi to talk.
“When I was disguised, the Japanese told gossip. At first, I thought the gossip would be a waste of time to listen to, but then they told me something that made my heart stop,
“They told me that they had made a fake alliance with the Germans. They wanted the Germans to depend on them. Then when they least expect it, they would kill them all. There are many more Japanese soldiers than the one who gave you all to me. He was one of the nicer ones. The others are brutal,” Chi said. Emma’s, Laura’s, and Quinn’s mouths dropped. They were so surprised by the information that was given to them. Chi bent down before Li’s and Emma’s hands. He untied them. Then he went to their hands and so forth until all of the friends were free.
“Since we are all talking, I need to tell you guys where we are,” Quinn said.
“I think we are in the past. We appeared in the middle of a War that happened 200 years ago. Now don’t say I’m crazy. I’ve got proof. First, it is the clothing, soldiers don’t wear that kind of armor anymore,” Quinn pointed at Chi.
“And look at these,” Quinn took the coins he took from the fountain and laid them on his plums for everyone to see.
“Umm, their coins,” Laura said.
“Look at the dates,” Quinn replied. The friends widened as they saw it dated back to 380 years ago.
“Quinn! You were right! That strange device was a time portal!” Li said excitedly.
“Wait, so you guys aren't from this time?” Chi asked.
“Yep! We are from the future!” Li said proudly.
“And that strange device? Is that what got you here?”
“Yep,” Li said.
“What does it look like?” Chi asked.
“Uhhh, it was the size o-,” She cutted off, remembering that phones weren’t invented here yet.
“It was gray and had a big red button that covered half of the device,” Li said. She wasn’t sure why he wanted to know what it looked like.
“Oh, I know where it is. I also heard from the Japanese that they found a strange device when they were fighting. They described it just like you did. I thought it was just a random thing. A German man has it. He is probably on his lunch break. Where the soldiers take their lunch break, is on the left side of this building. It is fairly far away, so be sneaky. When you get in the building, be very quiet. There will be other people there too,” Chi warned.
“Thanks, Chi, know we need to bust out of the door, so it looks like we just kicked someone’s butt!” Laura said.
“Yeah!” cheered Li, Emma, and Quinn. Laura busted out of the door and the others followed.
“Kids in the future! No one is going to believe me when I get back to China. But I will have 李曼 (Li M-ie) (Li’s name in Chinese) and her friends be remembered,” Chi said to himself when the friends left.
The friends walked slowly, they concisely moved. Making sure that they stepped on nothing that could make a sound. They occasionally hear bombs in the descents. They kept walking. When they were only a few feet away from the building Chi had said. But then Quinn bumped into someone since he was too busy looking behind himself. That caused the left side of Quinn’s glasses to break in half. The four friends looked at the soldier who Quinn had bumped into. The soldier was a bit different. He had a USA badge on his chest, but the friends were still frightened. Since Chi had pretended to be Japanese, all the friends couldn't be sure which side soldiers were on.
“Watch where you’re going Mr,” whispered the soldier. Quinn took off his glasses to see the damage. He bent down to find the other half of his glasses.
“Please don’t kill us,” Li said in a low voice while getting some tape out of her backpack. She handed the tape to Quinn. He gave a silent thanks and taped his glasses back together.
“Are you all American?” asked the soldier.
“Umm, actually we are Americans from the future,” Quinn said, trying to position his glasses so they would fit on comfortably. The soldier raised an eyebrow.
“Long story,” whispered Laura.
“Oh. Can you tell me how you got here?” the soldier asked.
“It was a teleportation device. It was a gray box and had a big red button that covered half of the device,” Li whispered.
“And you found it behind a bush?” he asked. The friends nodded.
“Oh, dear. That device actually belongs to me. I am an inventor for the army. I created that device to go to the future or the past. It helped out the army very much, but then the word of the device spread quickly. Everyone wanted it. The army started to be a target. They told me to get rid of it. I was supposed to destroy it, but it was my invention. I could not destroy it, so I hid it. I went, in the future. I didn’t know where to put it, so I just tossed it in some bushes, hoping that no one finds it, but I guess I should have buried it because found it,” He looked at Li and then continued,
“When I saw it on the field of this war, I couldn’t believe my eyes. I rubbed them a few times to see if my eyes were playing a trick with me, but they were still there. When the US army got closer, I tried to get it, but it was too late. A German grabbed it. He hurried off to this village. I sneaked off to find him when the war started. I’ve been searching all this time,” the soldier finally finished.
“Well, we know where he is. You can come with us,” Laura suggested.
“Ok, but we need to be stealthy about this. We have to be very sneaky. We cannot linger around there for too long. It needs to be, get in and get the device and get out,” whispered the soldier.
“Got it. But we forgot to tell you a thing when we were explaining how we got here. The Japanese had made a fake alliance with the Germans without them knowing. They plan to strike when the Germans would least expect anything. If the Americans play this outright, you guys can use this as an advantage,” Quinn said in a low voice.
“Thank you, you kids would be great heroes to America,” the soldier whispered. He pulled out a wacky-tacky and informed someone with this new information. He smiled. In a nice way, not in an evil way.
“I’m Scott,” the soldier said when he put his wacky-talky way. Emma found the name familiar. She decided not to say anything about it. Instead, she told Scott the friends names
“Nice to meet you all, now let's get you all home,” Scott whispered.
“Lead the way,” he said. He let the friends go in front of him. Together they slowly walked to the building. Scott went around the building to find secret openings when they got there. He found a vet on one of the sides. He got the four friends to the vent and reminded them to be fast and quiet. He ripped out the vent cover and crawled inside. The others followed. They ended up under a table. The German guy with the device was right next to them. He sat at a large square table with 3 other men. The five hurried under his table. Scoot was a little too tall and had to sit in an uncomfortable position to fit. Fortunately, a long table cloth covered them.
“Ok, so I’ll make a distraction and one of you gets the device,” whispered Scott. The friends nodded, except for Emma. She was looking through a small hole in the tablecloth.
“Emma, what are you looking at?” Li asked.
“Dog,” Emma said simply. Scott, Laura, Quinn, and Li were confused. She lifted the tablecloth over her head. She patted her legs. Everyone else looked at each other worriedly. They all realized what had just happened. Emma had called over a dog. They could hear people yelling and paws thumping on the floor, getting closer and closer to their table.
“Emma! Why did you do that?!” Laura hissed. Emma ignored her. The dog leaped on Emma, causing the table that they were hiding to fall over. Scott, Laura, Li, Quinn, and Emma were all now seen. The German that had the device and the three other men stood up in shock. The device along with broken plates and glass cups had fallen on the floor. No one seemed to notice. Scott, Laura, Quinn, and Li were panicking, but Emma was cuddling with the dog. But it was more interested in her backpack than her. The dog chewed on the bottom of her bag. Everyone in the room was looking at the five intruders. Laura made one quick swift movement and took the device off the floor. She yanked Emma off the floor and pulled her away. She sprinted out of the door. The other three hurried after them. Scott threw something behind him while running out of the building. When they reached the fountain in the middle of the village, Scott yelled,
“Everyone take cover!” Everyone ducked down and put their hands over their head. The building that they were just in, exploded. When the explosion had died out, Scott, Laura, Li, and Quinn got up and looked at Emma.
“That was much worse than me. I didn’t know what the button was going to do, but you did know what was going to happen when you called over that dog! You could have gotten all of us caught,” Li said to Emma.
“Sorry?” Emma said.
“Sorry?! I don’t know you that well, but that was still reckless of you to do that!” Scott declared.
“Ok, ok, I get it, but it was the cutest dog ever! Well, not as cute as my dog Bingo, but still, very cute. I just wanted something that could make me less homesick. It’s been hard without Bingo,” Emma sighed.
Laura handed the device to Scott. Scott was reaching for the device, but then he got a call from his walky-talky.
“One sec,” he whispered. He took the walky-talk to his ear. When he heard something, he smiled. He slipped his walky-talky back into his pocket.
“The Americans won this battle!” He cheered. The others forgot what happened with Emma and cheered as well.
“You kids made a great deal in helping the USA win!” He said.
“That information about the Japanese and Germans did come useful,” he said to Quinn.
“You all will be remembered in some way, for the things you have done for your country, now let's get you all home,” Scott said finally. He finally took the device from Laura and opened it up. Inside was a bunch of wires and control panels. He moved some wires around and then shut the device closed. He gave the device to Li.
“Now, press the button and you should be in your neighborhood, if not, press it again and you will end up here. Once you get to your neighborhood, throw it away in a trash can. Also, I just want to tell you that when you go back, time there has not changed from the time you have left,” Scott noted.
“Thank you, Scott,” Laura said.
“And thanks for not killing us!” Li joked. Everyone laughed. They all said goodbye and Li finally pushed the button.
Once again, each friend slowly opened their eyes. They were on the floor of their neighborhood sidewalk. Emma, Quinn, and Laura glared at Li. They all laughed. They knew that Li sure gave them an avenger,
“Hey! Don’t just look at me!” Li then looked at Emma.
“Ok, ok, ok. Next time I won’t call over a dog, and you,” Emma tilted her head at Li.
“And I won’t press any more buttons, levers, or anything without permission,” Li said. Everyone smiled. They were all back home.
“I finally understand the text in the test! We were the four kids that helped America!” Laura said.
“Yeah! ‘Scott Ruck and four kids help the US in winning a battle.’"
“Wait a minute, my bag! It’s all chewed up,” Emma finally notices her bag.
“Oh, well. I’ll just say Bingo did it.” Emma asked.
“Oh and my mom is going to kill me when she finds out about my glasses,” Quinn sighed.
“Guys we are a mess! And Li, where is the device?” Laura asked, looking up from her dirty shirt.
“Umm, oh here it is!” Li reached over to get the device that was a foot away from her.
“Come on, let's go and start studying. And Quinn, can we clean up at your house?” Laura asked as they all walked to Quinn’s house.
“Fine, but you guys need to come up with the reason why we are a mess,” Quinn said.
“Um, how about we got chased by a pack of dogs!” Emma suggested.
“What is up with you and dogs?” Laura asked. Emma shrugged. They all walked to Quinn’s front door. Except for Li. She stopped at Quinn’s trash can that was outside. She flipped it open and threw the device in without having another look. Li missed. The device bumped off the rime of the trash can. Li ran to the front door where Quinn held it open. She didn’t notice that it fell. She went inside to study. But then Seneca, also their neighbor, was walking down the sidewalk and noticed the device. She picked it up and pressed the button. She and the device disappeared.
“Li, are you sure that you put the device in the trash can?” Quinn asked from inside the house.
“Umm, I think so. Let me go check,” Li said. She went outside to check where the device was. She looked around the trash can and inside it. Li could not find it.