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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