Keys and Time Machines
By Katelyn Lu
14- year old Alexandra Circe was not one to be described easily. Tall and normal-looking, she didn’t trust easily, yet once you got to know her, you would find that she was quite friendly. Known for being both intelligent and mysterious, she was not your typical 8th grader.
One day, as she was walking to school with her friend Kylie, they passed two men bickering. Kylie, being observant, immediately observed that the man on the right spoke with a strange accent and wore old fashioned clothes.
“Who do you think he is?” she questioned.
“I don’t know, probably someone new around here, I wouldn’t trust him,” Alexandra replied.
From then on, they saw him nearly everywhere they went, on the way to school, at the library, Alexandra just couldn’t help wondering if he was following them.
Soon, Alexandra became sure that she was correct, and brought up the courage to go and talk to him.
Once she had approached him, he turned around and said, “So you’ve finally gotten the courage to come and talk to me.”
“Who are you? Why are you following us? Where are you from? Are you new around here?” asked Alexandra, frowning.
“Woah there girl, slow down. Too many questions!” replied the man, “Let me introduce myself first.”
There is a long silence.
“So? C’mon! What are you waiting for? Introduce yourself already!” exclaimed Alexandra, breaking the silence.
“Once again, be patient. My name is Theodore, Theo for short,” the man replied. “Before you ask any more questions, if you want to know why I’m here, follow me.” Then he headed off.
As Alexandra and Kylie were following him, Alexandra noted that they were in a forest. Suddenly, in the middle of the forest, there was a vehicle that looked halfway between a bus and a gigantic silver box.
“What is that?” asked Kylie, staring at it in awe.
“Okay. Enough staring. Let me explain what this is, and why I am here,” said Theodore. “This is my time machine, and how I got here. You’d think that I would be back in my time period my now, but no. There is a slight problem. The key to my time period is broken.”
“Wait, what?! A time machine?! That’s impossible! People have gone insane trying to create one!” Alexandra exclaimed.
“Look, you had all these questions, and I answered them. Now, I’ve got a problem, and I need help. You can decide whether or not you want to help, okay?” replied Theodore.
“Okay, fine. We’ll help you. What exactly is the problem again?” Alexandra said.
“I’m glad you agreed to help. Since you asked, the key to my time period is broken. Let me explain first,” Theodore said before Alexandra or Kylie could ask anything. “So the way my time machine works is once you travel to another time period, there is a door. In order to actually go into the in that time period, you need to unlock the door with the proper key. The key to my time period has shattered into 3 pieces. I know what time period and approximate location these pieces are in, I just need help finding them.”
“So… we just need to find the 3 pieces and put them back together?” Kylie asked.
“Correct. However, the locations we will travel to isn’t very precise. It’s possible that it is almost 2 miles away from our spawning point.” Theodore replied.
“Do you have the keys to all of our destinations?” Alexandra asked.
“Yes, indeed. We just need to get the key back,” Theodore replied.
“Okay, that doesn’t sound too hard,” Kylie said.
“With that said, let’s go!” Alexandra exclaimed.
Having said that, they took off. Theodore opened the door to the time machine, and they all stepped in. Inside the time machine was something Alexandra had never seen before: glass orbs everywhere throughout the machine, glowing a soft radiant light. Surrounding the orbs were small bolts of electricity, they looked almost alive.
“Woah . . . this is amazing . . .” Alexandra said as she looked around the time machine.
“I know right?” Theodore replied, grinning. “My very own invention. The glass orbs each represent a time period, and they help me when I’m researching.”
“Can we go already? I’m so excited to go back in time!” Kylie said.
“Okay. First step, coming right up.”
Alexandra got nearly blinded by the light that followed.
“Welcome to the Ice Age, where we will find the piece number one of the key.”
Theodore opened a closet at the back of the time machine. “Here. Put these on. If you want to survive in these temperatures, put them on,” Theodore said, handing each of them a jumpsuit-like jacket.
As they were putting them on, Alexandra said, “How cold will it be outside?”
“Hm . . . about twelve degrees Fahrenheit colder than it is in your winters, so not actually that cold,” Theodore replied.
“ ‘Kay, so will there be mammoths here?”
“Yes, actually. Mammoths are quite common,” Theodore replied.
Once Theodore opened the door, a huge gust of wind burst through and nearly knocked Alexandra over. As they stepped outside, there was a white door, with a beautifully carved golden pattern running along the edge.
“Woah . . . so this is one of the doors you were talking about?” Kylie asked.
“Correct. Each and every door is different, and so is every key,” Theodore replied.
As Theodore unlocked the door, Alexandra asked Kylie, “What do you think will be out there?”
“I dunno, but I really hope we see a mammoth.”
Alexandra sighed. Kylie was always so excited when it came to animals.
“Okay, the door is unlocked. Prepare to get blasted by the wind again,” Theodore told them.
Once again, a giant burst of wind, and this time with snow, nearly blasted them over. Once the snow had cleared, what Alexandra saw was incredible. A giant mass of brown fur standing three feet from the door.
“What is that?” Kylie asked curiously, pointing at the mass of fur.
“Why, it’s a woolly mammoth of course!” Theodore replied. “That's a woolly mammoth? It’s so big!” Kylie exclaimed excitedly.
“Can we stop admiring the mammoth and get going already?” Alexandra snapped impatiently, becoming annoyed that they were not focusing on the task and instead focusing on a mammoth.
“Sure. My prediction is that the piece will be in some kind of cave,” Theodore said, “My locator showed it being somewhere dark.”
Once they stepped outside, the mammoth had walked away already, leaving a trail of footprint nine times the size of Alexandra’s foot.
“Let's follow it, it might lead us to its cave,” Theodore suggested.
“Nice idea, worth a try,” Kylie agreed.
In fact, it did lead them to a cave. Once they stepped in, Alexandra couldn’t believe their luck. The piece they were looking for was right there!
“That was lucky,” Alexandra stated. “The piece is right there!”
“Well, that was easier than I thought it would be,” Theodore mused, grinning.
Alexandra picked up the piece and put it in her pocket. It was the handle, and it was silver, with half of a golden flower on it. Suddenly there was a loud rumbling sound.
“Earthquake! The roof is about to collapse!” Theodore shouted. “Quick, get out!”
They all started to run.
“What amazing luck we have,” Kylie said sarcastically while running. The second after they had gotten out of the cave was the second the roof collapsed.
“Whew. That was seriously close,” Alexandra said, panting.
“Let’s go back now,” Kylie suggested.
“How? The tracks are covered with snow!” Alexandra replied.
“Lucky for us, I have a remote that can teleport to the time machine here,” Theodore said.
Theodore then teleported the time machine to them and they all stepped in and took off their jackets.
Another blinding light.
“Welcome to Ancient China, 36 AD, the Three Kingdoms Period, city-state of Shu,” Theodore announced. The door to this time period was sky-blue with a green dragon in the center. Past the door was a huge palace.
“This is where Liu Bei, the emperor of Shu at this time, lives,” Theodore explained to them.
“Thankfully, I can speak Chinese,” Alexandra said. “Let’s go in the palace. I think the next piece will be there.”
When they tried to enter, two guards stopped them. They spoke in Chinese.
“What are they saying, Alex? You speak Chinese,” Kylie asked.
“They said that in order to pass, we need permission and a letter from Zhuge Liang, a strategist for Liu Bei,” Alexandra replied as she looked over her shoulder at her friend and Theodore.
“Not a problem then. I just happen to know him from previous time-travels here,” Theodore replied, smiling. “He knows how to speak English,” he quickly added before they could ask him how he could communicate with a Chinese strategist.
“Can you bring us to his house?” Kylie asked.
“Of course. His house is just 2 minutes away from here,” Theodore replied calmly. Zhuge Liang’s house was indeed just 2 minutes away. Down one street, one right turn, and then 20 steps forward, and you were at his house. As they entered, Zhuge Liang greeted them warmly.
“Who are your friends, Theodore?” Zhuge Liang questioned curiously.
“This is Alexandra,” Theodore replied, gesturing at Alexandra, “and the other one is Kylie.”
“Nice meeting you, Alexandra and Kylie, what brings you here?” Zhuge Liang asked.
“Well, you see…”
“Ah, I see… you must be helping Theodore look for the key,” Zhuge Liang stated.
“What?... How?... How did you know?”
“Well, you see, I was chosen as the strategist for a reason.”
“Oh. Anyways, have you found the piece we are looking for?” Alexandra asked.
“Why of course. It was in the palace, in the throne room. The emperor should have it now. I told him you would come to get it,” Zhuge Liang replied while writing a pass for Theodore, Alexandra, and Kylie to get into the palace.
“Here, take this,” he said, handing Kylie the note, “You’ll need it.”
“Thanks. So we just ask the emperor for the piece?” Theodore asked Zhuge Liang.
“Correct. He already knows that I will send you to get it,” Zhuge Liang replied.
So then they thanked him and headed off. Once they got to the palace, they handed the guards the note and they let them through. Inside the palace wasn’t the fancy decorations and jewels a normal palace has, but an effect of normality, like the emperor liked equality and did his best to decorate the palace to show that. They asked the nearest person where the throne room was, and he led them there.
Once they approached the throne room, a man, tall and average-looking stepped up to them, “ Hello, you must be Theodore. Zhuge Liang told me that you would come today.”
“That’s right. Are you the emperor, err… sir?” Alexandra asked, frowning at her impoliteness
“Correct. Other than Zhuge Liang, I am the only person in Shu who knows how to speak English,” Liu Bei replied, smiling.
“How do you know how to speak English though, sir?” Kylie asked.
“Well, you see, to help Theodore, I’ve gone on a few time-travels and learned some stuff since then,” the emperor replied, then asked, “ So you are Alexandra and Kylie? The note says so.”
“Yes sir, we’re helping Theodore too,” Alexandra replied, bowing.
“That’s cool. You know, being an emperor doesn’t mean that I’m all fancy or anything. I prefer being more… normal. Call me Liu Bei.”
“Thanks, I’m really not used to being so formal,” Alexandra replied, relieved.
“Oh yeah, the piece. I have it right here. Here you go!” Liu Bei said, handing Theodore the piece, again silver, with the rest of the flower on it.
“Thank you, I hope we meet again soon!” Kylie said to Liu Bei.
“Me too. Maybe you can come back sometime. Bye, and good luck finding the rest of the key!”
“Farewell friend, I’ll see you later!” Theodore replied.
“Bye! See you soon!”
With that said, they headed off to find the final piece.
Once again, a blinding light, followed by a huge gust of wind.
“This time, we’re in the future. We are on Mars, during the 2100s. The exact date, March 2nd, 2112,” Theodore told them.
“Does that mean that the piece is up here?” Alexandra asked, amazed that they were actually on Mars.
“Probably, but to survive here, put on these suits.”
After putting on the suits, they stepped outside.
This door was a bright red, with black stripes. As Theodore opened the door, a huge ash cloud came billowing in, and they were all knocked over.
“See, I told you-you had to wear these suits,” Theodore said, wiping off the ash from his suit.
“Yeah, okay. That was really cool though!” Alexandra exclaimed.
“Woah… it’s so red here....” Kylie said, staring forward in awe.
“Let’s go find the piece! My time period is waiting for me!” Theodore said, walking ahead. As they moved on, they came to a capsule that had a sign reading: “Capsule 26, Science Laboratory”. They decided to check it out, and walked inside.
Inside the lab were tons of small jars of Martian rocks and samples, but on one shelf it said: “Keys and Time Machines, collected March 1st, 2019”.
“Do you think the piece will be there?” Kylie asked, looking at the shelf.
“I don’t know, let’s take a look,” Theodore replied.
Indeed, the piece was there. There were also miniatures of Theodore’s time machine, which was quite surprising.
“Hmm… looks like they eventually found my time machine and copied it,” Theodore said, frowning.
“Well, at least we found the piece!” Alexandra replied, holding up the piece, then taking the other two pieces out and handing them all to Theodore.
“Let’s go back, we have the piece.”
Once they got back into the time machine, they took off their suits.
“That went really smoothly, it wasn’t hard at all to find all three pieces,” Kylie observed.
“Yeah, let’s return to our time period now,” Alexandra replied, “That was fun!” she added to Theodore.
So they headed back to 2019.
Theodore surprised them by giving them each a miniature version of his time machine.
“These can take you to my time period, the three time periods we went to, and your time period. Just don’t lose the keys. Oh, by the way, I glued the key back together already,” he said while handing them each a set of keys and a time machine.
“They expand once you say ‘Callabria, expand’,” he told them.
“Thank you so much! See you soon, in your time period!” Alexandra and Kylie thanked in union.
“I’m the one who should be thanking you, you are the ones who helped me find the pieces so I can go back home. Goodbye!” he said, then vanished into the time machine to go back home.