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Across the Thousand Expanses—Part 4

Soon Beth had arrived and in a few minutes they were waking up in the small office where Joey had first arrived in the OPERRAW’s headquarters. Beth explained that traveling through the fabric of space and time often caused unconsciousness, but it got better as you traveled more often.
Then they set out to find Dr. Sorton. Beth wasn’t exactly sure where he would be, but she directed them down an elevator to what she called, “the not-quite abandoned labs”. This was a dark corridor with several vacant rooms. However, one room at the end of the hall had a light on in it. Just then the door to this room opened, and Beth shoved them all into a vacant room. They heard footsteps passing by outside, and then the elevator opening and closing.
As soon as it was quiet, they hurried out of the dark lab room and made it into the lit up room. The door was bolted from the outside, but Joey removed the bolt and they stepped inside. The bright light from the room made them squint, but Joey could still make out his father tied to a folding chair in the middle of the room.

“Joey?” his dad cried. “Is that really you? And Susie?” He looked up at Beth. “Don’t tell me. You’re going to use them to force me to help.”
“Actually we’re here to rescue you. Beth is helping us,” replied Susie. As she said this, Beth pulled out a small knife and quickly freed Dr. Sorton. The four of them hurried from the room, down the hall, and into the elevator.
When the elevator doors opened, they hurried into the small office again. Beth grabbed the ASHEWST and began setting dials on it. She was about to push a button in the middle when they heard a voice coming from the doorway. “So our prisoner is trying to escape.”
Beth turned around, holding up the ASHEWST. “Not any more he isn’t. I caught these rascals trying to program the shoes, and I had just grabbed it and was about to call you.”

“Well, I showed up just in time.” It was Dr. Wheeler, behind Zach, the man who had kidnapped Joey, and another strange man. They all looked very angry. “Come along, now. This time we’ll have to do a better job locking you up.” Zach grabbed Dr. Sorton’s arm, the other man grabbed Susie, and Beth grabbed Joey. She had a surprisingly firm grip.
Joey realized that if they were going to escape, now they had the best chance. He could hardly believe that Beth had betrayed them, but figured she probably cared more about her job then about some stranger she barely knew. So Joey used his free arm to grab the lamp and yank it away from the wall.
The room was plunged into darkness. Someone ran into the door, and it became pitch-black. The room was chaos. Someone screamed, and Dr. Wheeler yelled, “Get them! Stop them! Turn on the light!”

Joey reached for Beth’s other hand, and grabbed the ASHEWST. He pushed the center button, and everything went black.
When he woke up, he, Susie, and his father were in the middle of the soccer field. Once they arrived home, they found Mrs. Sorton and a policeman talking on the front porch. They had been gone for over an hour.

As it turned out, Dr. Sorton had no memory of what had happened to him before he awoke in a room with Dr. Wheeler and the OPERRAW. No one believed Joey and Susie; they thought it was some maniac who thought he was John Wheeler and wanted to kill Joey’s father.


However, two years later, Joey heard on the news about the OPERRAW. They had launched a huge rocket into space in hopes to find extraterrestrial life. Even Joey’s father believed that it was a suicide mission and no one would come back alive. Everyone was ashamed that they had not found out and stopped the OPERRAW, but had let its members foolishly sacrifice their lives.
Shortly after they found out, Susie, who now went by Susan, called Beth. Apparently she had remained on Earth and had communication with the OPERRAW’s spaceship. When Susie turned sixteen, she hooked up with Beth, who transported her to join the OPERRAW on their spaceship. Right before she left, she told Joey what she was about to do.
“I think that the OPERRAW is right, and that we need to let the Earth alone for a while, and let nature take over. If we can succeed, maybe we can establish a colony on another planet and get the rest of the population to join us.”
“But why do they need you? You’re not a scientist,” Joey objected.
“It’s a bunch of men who’ve blasted off to space. They need women to produce the next generation if they want to last more than about forty years. And Joey, I really believe in this. This is what I was meant for. To help the OPERRAW save the planet.”
“If you’re sure,” replied Joey. “But this isn’t a decision you can go back on. Think carefully before you decide.”
“I have,” Susan replied confidently. “And I’ll keep in touch through Beth. Good-bye, Joey.” With that she left to head down to the park where she was transported through the fabric of space and time to a spaceship that was racing across the galaxy in search of life.


© 2014 Christina Smith. All rights reserved.

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Across the Thousand Expanses—Part 3

The next thing he knew, Joey was lying on floor near the living room couch. He felt rather tired, and got up. He remembered that he had been sitting on the couch looking out the window. Then he had seen the stranger, who had come into the house and teleported him away. He concluded that he must have fallen asleep on the couch and dreamed it all. He had rolled off the couch in his sleep. It was the only explanation that made sense. Teleporters were only found in science fiction, and of course dead scientists couldn’t come back to life. It had all been a very realistic dream.
Then he heard the garage door opening. His parents were back from their shopping trip. He got up off the floor and went over to open the door for them. As he helped his family bring in the groceries, he told them about his strange dream.
“You’re so weird,” his little sister Susie told him. “Only weirdos like you dream about scientists and teleporters.”
“Susie, don’t call your brother names,” admonished Joey’s mother.
“All right,” groaned Susie, rolling her eyes.
Joey wisely ignored her and went off to play some games on his laptop.

Later that afternoon Joey’s mother came up to his room to talk to him.
“Did anyone call while we were gone?” she questioned.
She looked very concerned, and Joey wondered what was wrong. “I don’t think so. But I was asleep the whole time, and could have missed it. Is everything all right?”
“Your father isn’t home yet. Normally he calls if he’s running this late,” his mother replied, wringing her hands.
“Then you should call him at work and see where he is. He probably got wrapped up in something and forgot to call,” suggested Joey.
His mother immediately brightened. “Of course! What am I thinking? That’s a wonderful idea. Thank you, Joey.” She left his room and headed downstairs.
A few minutes later she was back, looking even more worried. “I called his work, and the secretary said he left half an hour ago. Apparently he had an unscheduled visit with two men, which worried him a lot. Something about a singer, maybe.”
“The opera?” asked Joey. He hoped his thought was just a crazy idea, that his dream had been real and the OPERRAW was now after his family out of revenge for him.
“Yeah, that’s right. Something about the opera.”
Joey gasped. “Then maybe it wasn’t a dream. Maybe they’re out to get revenge for what I did. They’re out to get Dad, and it’s all my fault!”
“Are you referring to that dream you were talking about earlier? That can’t be real. It’s probably just a coincidence that the secretary mentioned the opera. Though I think it’s about time I call the police. Joe could be hurt or in trouble!” With this she hurried back downstairs.

As soon as she left, Susie came in. “I believe you, Joey,” she said. “I know it wasn’t a dream. I knew all along.”
“But what are we going to do? If the OPERRAW is really after Dad, how can we stop them?”
“Call Beth,” replied Susie confidently. “She’ll help you.”
“How do you expect me to do that?” asked Joey.
“You mean you met a nice, cute girl and you didn’t even ask for her number?” Susie exclaimed incredulously. “Boys really are senseless! You don’t even know her full name, do you?”
Joey pulled out his laptop. He decided to start searching the internet for Beth of Dallas, Texas. Unfortunately, it was impossible to find anything about a kid in a big city without even a last name. He tried adding the word OPERRAW, and was directed to the OPERRAW’s website, where he found a list of employee email addresses. Unfortunately, no names were listed. Then one email caught his eye: lizylittlesci@operraw.org.
“I think that’s her!” he told Susie. He opened his email and composed and sent a message to her, asking if she was really Beth and explaining that he needed her help.

A few minutes later she replied, and told Joey to call her with a phone number she provided. Joey immediately went downstairs to see if his mother was still on the phone. She was not, and was instead cooking dinner in the kitchen. Joey snagged the phone and headed back upstairs to call Beth.
“What’s going on?” Beth asked once Joey had called her. “You made it home, didn’t you?”
“Yeah, but my dad went missing. Apparently some people from the OPERRAW came to see him at work, and he never made it home. They might be getting revenge for me escaping them.”
“More likely, they just want your dad to help with our project, and he refused. They’re probably forcing him to help them.”
“So they have him hostage at the headquarters?”
“I think so. But please, don’t tell the police. I would probably get in trouble, and I’d lose my job. Please, I like working here, and I can make money for—” Here she abruptly stopped.
“Then how do I rescue my dad?” Joey asked.
“I’ll transport you here,” she replied desperately. “Then you can find him and teleport him back. Just don’t call the police.”
Then Susie, who had been listening in, spoke up. “Don’t forget me! I want to help too!”
“Oh yeah,” Joey said to Beth. “My little sister wants to come along too. Is that OK?”
“Little by a little, or little by a lot?”
Joey looked at Susie. “Only a year or two.”
“I suppose it’s all right. It’ll be easier if I come to you first, then take you back with me. Where do you live?”
“Saginaw, Michigan.”
“Man, that’s pretty far. Is there a big empty field near your house? It’s much safer to go somewhere flat and empty.”

Fifteen minutes later, Joey and Susie had arrived at a nearby soccer field which they and Beth had agreed on. His mom had agreed to let them go for a walk, assuming they took a cell phone and would be back in half an hour.

© 2014 Christina Smith. All rights reserved.

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Across the Thousand Expanses—Part 2

The next thing he knew, Joey was lying on a big lumpy couch in a small cluttered office. A dingy old lamp sat on a small, messy desk with a paper covered chair next to it. A peculiar woman with a long red braid was looking down on him with concern. “Are you all right, Dr. Sorton?”
“Where am I?” asked Joey. He was feeling rather tired and sick to his stomach.
“You are in the official headquarters of the OPERRAW, the Organization for the Protection of Earth’s Resources by Retreating to Another World. We would like you to help us improve our ASHEWST, the Atom Splitting High Energy Wrinkler of Space and Time. That was how we got you here.”
“So you teleported me here and you want me to help you improve your teleporter?” clarified Joey.
“Not precisely. We used certain top-secret technology to transport you through the fabric of space and time. Of course, we’ll tell you all about it if you agree to help,” replied the woman. “Now, if you’ll just come with me, I’ll take you to see the boss. You might have heard of him: Dr. John Wheeler.”
Joey had never heard of John Wheeler, but he did not say anything and followed the women to a larger, neater office. A heavily built man sat on a swivel chair with his feet on a large desk. As they entered, he swung his feet off the desk and leaned forward to peer at Joey.

“So you’re the famous scientist we’ve heard so much about! Come, sit down.” He indicated a chair sitting in a corner. The red-haired woman fetched the chair and placed it in front of the desk, and Joey sat down.
“Sir, I’m afraid —” he began. He had realized that the stranger who had kidnapped him had mistaken him for his father, a well-known scientist. He hoped that he could explain it to the people here and get them to take him back home. He was considerably less frightened now that he knew what had happened. “Call me John,” the man interrupted.
“But I’m not actually a scientist. You must be thinking of my father. We have the same name, only he goes by Joe, and I go by Joey.”
“You what?” He turned to Kylie. “Is this true? Did you get the wrong man?”
“I don’t know. Zach said the kid’s name was Joseph Sorton, but I guess Sorton’s son was named Joseph as well.”
“How could you do this?” John Wheeler cried. “You failed me! Now I have to deal with this kid, in addition to finding Sorton!” He stood up and grabbed the woman by the collar, hauling her up against the desk.

Joey realized it might be wise to leave. He crept out of the office as John Wheeler continued to rage at Kylie. Once he was outside, he made his way back to the office where he’d first woken up. On the desk was the device the stranger had used to get Joey here. Joey opened the lid, wondering if he could figure out how to get himself back home. As he did so, he heard a girl’s voice in the doorway.
“Don’t touch that.”
He turned to see an older girl in a lab coat with a pair of large, round glasses. She was standing in the doorway to the office.
“That’s a dangerous device,” she continued. “But I guess you’re a scientist, and you would know. You must be Dr. Sorton. No offense, but you look rather young.”
“I’m actually his son. We have the same name, and someone mistook me for him.”
“Really? I suppose not everyone here is all that smart. And by the way, my name is Beth.”
“Hey, do you know how I can get out of here? I was sort of brought here against my will, and I’d like to get home.”
“Well, the stairs are down the hall on the left, and the exit is on the ground floor in the lobby; you can’t miss it. But you probably don’t live near here. We are in Dallas, Texas.”

“Texas? Oh, wow. That’s pretty far. Is there any way I can teleport myself back?”
“Well, I’m not sure if that’s a good idea. By the way, where’s Kylie?”
“Dr. Wheeler was pretty mad when he found out that I’m not my dad. He started yelling at her and I sneaked away.”
“That was probably pretty smart. But once Dr. Wheeler finds out, he’ll be even madder at you. Maybe it is a good idea if you leave.”
“Please, can you help me?” begged Joey. “My parents will be worried if I’m gone too long. And who knows what they’ll do to me if I stay here?”
“All right,” agreed Beth. She took the device from Joey and began fiddling with some dials and switches. “This should take you right back where you came from,” she explained. “But there’s always the risk that something could go wrong and you could be killed. That’s always a risk when using the shoes.”
“The shoes?” asked Joey.
“It’s our nickname for the ASHEWST, or Atom Splitting High Energy Wrinkler of Space and Time. This thing.” She indicated the black box. “Are you ready?”
“I guess so,” replied Joey.
“Here it goes.”
Then everything went black.

© 2014 Christina Smith. All rights reserved.

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Across the Thousand Expanses—Part 1

This is a new story I wrote for a school assignment. More parts and sequel to follow!

It was another boring summer day in the life of Joey Sorton. Joey had just finished his book when his mother walked into the room.
“Joey, we don’t have anything to eat for dinner tonight. We need to go shopping. I’m taking Susie with me, but I can leave you here if you’d rather stay home. But if you stay home, no computer or TV until we get back,” she warned.
“All right,” agreed Joey, who hated shopping trips.
A few minutes later, Joey was bored. He wished he had something to read, but he had just finished his last library book. He couldn’t go on the computer or watch TV, his dad was off at work, and his little sister wasn’t around to mess with. So Joey lay on his back on the couch and looked out the window. He wondered if it had been a good idea to stay home after all.

Out the window, he saw a man walking his dog. The man wore a black sweatshirt with the hood up and a pair of jeans, which was strange in the hot weather. Suddenly the man let go of the leash and his dog ran down the street. Joey wondered where the dog was going. He hadn’t seen any cats or squirrels, and the dog was sticking to the sidewalk, instead of running off into someone’s yard or something. The man began to chase the dog down the street. Joey watched them until they ran around the corner and out of sight. Then he got up and went to check the time. His mom had planned to be gone for about two hours. She had been gone for only half an hour, so he still had a while to wait.

Joey returned to the couch and went back to looking out the window. He was surprised to see the man coming back down the street, this time without his dog. The man walked by his house, then suddenly turned and came up his driveway. Joey ducked, hoping the man wouldn’t see him. He didn’t want to answer the door for some stranger when his parents weren’t home.
Then the doorbell rang. Joey crouched on the couch and waited. After a minute, there was a loud knocking on the door. He heard the stranger yell, “Open up! This is an emergency!”
An emergency? Joey knew that he had never met the strange man and wondered why he wanted so badly to be let in. But he had already failed to open the door, so he knew it would seem strange if he answered it now. So Joey waited for the stranger to leave.
Once again, the man pounded on the door. “If you don’t let me in, I’ll let myself in!” he cried, ringing the doorbell again and again as he continued to bang.
Joey decided that the man was a lunatic, so it would probably be a bad idea to let him in. He crawled off the couch and crept into the kitchen, just in case the man decided to look in the window.

Then Joey heard footsteps coming from the entryway. Somehow, the stranger had gotten in without making any noise! Joey looked around for somewhere to hide. Seeing nowhere else, he ducked under the kitchen table. The footsteps came closer, and Joey saw a pair of hiking boots with lime green socks enter the kitchen. He held his breath, praying the stranger wouldn’t notice him.
“Come right out,” the stranger commanded. “I can see you hiding there under the table.”
Joey wondered if the stranger could really see him, or if he was bluffing. Then he remembered how silently he had gotten into the house. He could have some sort of supernatural ability which might extend to seeing through a table. Joey reluctantly crawled out from under the table and stood up.
“What do you want?” he asked.
“Are you Dr. Joseph Sorton?” the stranger inquired.
“Uh, yeah, but why do you care?” Joey was surprised that the stranger knew his name, but figured it went along with his other superpowers.
The stranger looked surprised, but then he grabbed Joey’s hand. “We’re leaving,” he announced abruptly. He pulled a small black rectangular box out of his pocket, which opened up to reveal a set of dials, switches, and buttons. He pushed a button on it.

Joey had decided the man was some sort of evil supervillain. He suddenly broke away from the stranger and ran over to the phone which hung on the wall. He grabbed it and began to dial 911. Then he looked up and saw that the stranger was gone. He hesitated. Suddenly he felt someone grab the phone from his hand. He spun around and saw that the stranger was back! Joey screamed and began to run away, back into the living room. By now he was terrified, the most frightened he’d ever been in his life. He hoped if he could beat the stranger upstairs, he could grab the other phone there and hide while he called the police, but all bets were off with the psycho supervillain on the loose.
Then suddenly the stranger appeared in front of him and they collided. The stranger promptly grabbed Joey and pushed a button on his strange box. Joey tried to break away, but the stranger held on tightly. Then everything went black.

© 2014 Christina Smith. All rights reserved.

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