By Madelaine Elam, Humanities
To say that it was a long day would be an understatement. There are papers waiting to be written when I get home. There is a Spanish test for which I must study before I work on those papers. There’s a forty-five minute drive before I get home. I just want to do something exciting, not that school isn’t exciting.
Walking out of Crawford into the muggy Florida afternoon and taking a deep breath like trying to breathe through a wet wool sock. Sweaty students push their way around me, as if I am invisible, in order to get out of the heat and humidity. I am digging around in my pocket, looking for my car keys when I realize I left them in the classroom on the sixth floor. Not eager to swim back through the crowd, I tramp through the brush to a side door. Or, at least that’s what I intended to do.
Turning the corner, my shoe catches on something, almost tripping me. As I am looking behind and downward, a sudden breeze kicks up, sending my hair into my face. There’s a noise of a wheezy engine and then —
WHUMP! I smack into this wooden wall that appeared out of nowhere.
Thud. That’s the noise I made when I hit the concrete. My cell phone goes skittering across the walkway. My book bag spills open, and my notes are flitting away.
I push my hair out of my face to find myself in the shadow of a huge box. It wasn’t there a moment ago. At least, I don’t think it was. And it’s blue! I mean, really blue!
As I squint at it, hinges squeak and a tall, lean figure steps out of the side of the box.
“Ah! Florida, judging by the humidity and ozone levels!” he states to no one in particular. One of my note pages comes to rest by his Converse sneakers. “Oh! Two-thousand and fourteen,” he pauses. “Nothing exciting happens in that year. Quite boring, really.”
Then another figure emerges from the box, replies “Florida, eh? The palm trees kind of give it away, don’t you think? What are the chances of popping over to the beach for an hour or two? You know, Ron Jon’s, the Space Center? Sunset and a drink? On the beach? Something more relaxing than going to a 1920’s garden party and being chased by a gigantic wasp!”
“Oh, Donna! That was an emorphorous insectivorous life form, not a wa — oh! Hello!” The taller figure turns and sees me picking myself off the ground. “Are you alright? Must-a bumped into the T.A.R.D.I.S, didn’t you? Thick skull you’ve got there.”
“Thanks,” I reply. “It runs in the family.”
“So, who are you then?” the lady asks.
“Who – me?” I ask, still confused about the box, the people coming out of the box…and the fact that the tall, skinny gentleman is…petting or stroking the box. “I’m…just a student here at Florida Tech.”
“And? You have to be called something,” the lady gripes (but pleasantly). “Like me. My name is Donna. I travel with this dumbo,” she jerks her head at the guy, who turns around, looking slightly offended. “What about you? And what are doing here?”
“Oh. Well, my name is Madelaine…and I am a Humanities Major. And I work in the School of Arts and Communication. And I –” I state, hesitantly.
“At a tech school?” the man asks incredulously. “Why at a tech school? If you were here you should be studying engineering, space travel, and science and that stuff. But Humanities? You need to be at Oxford or Harvard. Someplace with some HISTORY!”
Now that my eyes have adjusted to the early afternoon sun, I can finally asses the curious pair. The lady is a red-head and slightly hefty. She seems to be friends with the other person, albeit a very sassy relationship. The man is skinny, tall, and has this amazing head of hair, complete with sideburns. His suit is brown with blue pinstripes…and he’s wearing Converse sneakers. Both of them are speaking with thick British accents.
“History?” I straighten my shirt out, rather livid at his claim. “History? You are in Florida! Let me introduce you to the home of the oldest European-founded city in North America! Let me introduce you to the home of the Kennedy Space Center, where the mission to put on the first man on the moon took off – literally! You might not be impressed, but this guy named Walt Disney thought that this would be a cool place for what would become the greatest entertainment and vacation destinations in the world! Do I need to continue? Because I can go on –“
“No, no, no…that’s fine. I…I was there, anyway,” the man shrugs, running his hand through his hair.
“Excuse me?” Donna and I chime together.
“I was there. I was at St. Augustine. I met the British governor once. He had a funny wig. He had a great lady-chef who could whip up a fantastic orange pudding.”
“Yeah, right. How did you manage that?” I scoff.
“He’s got a time machine.” Donna states.
“A what?” I shift my books around in my arms, trying not to drop them.
“A time machine. I travel through time. In my magic blue box.” The man says with a smirk.
“Speaking of time, you are wasting my beach time. Cumm’on, spaceman. Where’s the sunscreen?” Donna pips.
“Third right after the fourth left, down the hall with the Sycorax skull on the table, the fourth left after going down the hall from the console.”
“Right. Got it.” Donna nods to me and then enters the big, blue box.
As I am turning away, to walk back to my classroom to get my keys to my car to go back home, when he says something that I would never expect in a million years:
“Where are you going?” As I turn back, he continues, “Don’t you want come with me?”
“Well, if you want to stay here and study Spanish and history…well. You could do that,” he starts walking towards me. “You could do that and be very happy. But bored.” He leans towards me, “What if you could walk the streets of Colonial St. Augustine? Or stand on the moon and watch them place the flag? Or be there on the opening day of Disney World?”
“I’m sorry, but what are you talking about? Time travel is impossible!”
“Nah, not really. Humans just haven’t picked up on the possibility that time is….well. It’s complicated,” he shrugs.
It’s my turn to smirk.
“Really? I think you’re copping out on me.”
He huffs his breath in an exasperated sigh.
“It’s really complicated. Wibbly-wobbly…timey-wimey…complicated.”
“Yup. So. You coming then?”
“What – me? Why me?”
“Well, don’t you want to come?”
“Yeah! We’d love if you came along!” The man turns to the door, pauses, and then snaps his fingers. The doors creak open.
“Where are –. What is –” I start.
“Oiy! Doctor! Where’s the storage room?” Donna’s voice hollers from inside the box.
“I told you, Donna,” the man shouts as he steps into the box.
I approach the doors hesitantly, and peer around the corner. It’s late afternoon and the box’s doors are facing west, so I can just see into the box. Well, at least for a split second. The man sticks his head out, like a jack in the box.
“What do they call you, again?” he asks.
“Madelaine.” Or, at least that’s what I try to say. I actually only get “Ma-” out before he grabs me by the arm.
“Look out!” the man shouts as he pulls me into the box. Two male students on longboards go whizzing by, oblivious to the world outside of their conversation.
As I am dragged into the box, I trip, I send my books flying (again) and knock the breath out of my lungs, and I get a good look around the inside of the box. The weird thing…well…one of the many weird things is that it is bigger on the inside. Seriously! It was about five foot, by five foot, by eight foot on the outside, and made of wood! Inside, it’s huge! As in, a hundred something feet in each direction from this main console thing; I can’t see the ceiling. The skinny guy runs past me to the console, where any and every gadget and lever and button you could imagine is located.
Donna walks up to me and helps me up. “Yes, love. It’s bigger on the inside. You’ll get used to it.”
“What?” I gawk around me.
“It’s bigger on the inside,” the man turns from the console and smirks, again, but a cheerful smirk. “Everyone says that. Ready to go?”
“What? Go where? Who are you people?” I stammer incredulously.
“I’m the Doctor. This is my ship that travels through space and time. It’s called the T.A.R.D.I.S. We are going to Melbourne Beach.” He throws a lever. “Fifteen-thirteen, A.D.”
To be continued.