Sorry for the long wait; I had to fix a rather large mistake in this chapter and it took me a while.
Read the earlier chapters here.
Chapter 6: The Boy Who Did Not Wait at All
I woke up sometime later, this time tied to the back of a chair next to Chloe and Jake. Chloe was behind me, still sleeping, and Jake was sitting just a couple feet away from me, facing the door.
“Jake!” I yelled, relieved to see him. He did not return my smile back.
“It’s about time,” he said, continuing to look ahead. He looked like the version of him we saw in the woods earlier. His hair had grown back to where it used to be—long and curly, like he hadn’t cut it in years. Despite that, he looked about the same. No bruises, no visible mutilations or anything. The only thing missing was the I’m-awesome look that seemed to have been permanently glued to his face. Now he just looked depressed.
“Jesus, how long have you been stuck here?” I asked him.
“Not that long, only three years.”
“What?” I looked at him. He didn’t look that much older. The only real sign of aging was in his eyes, which looked dull and hopeless. And his hair.
“Yeah,” he said. You’re the first person I’ve talked to in months.” The idea of Jake not talking for any given period of time was unthinkable
“Oh my god, I feel so bad about this—”
“Save it. I’m pissed off with you enough already,” he said coldly. “You couldn’t have gone back in time three years earlier?”
“I’m sorry, but we had no idea where you were. They must have taken us forward in time or something.” I said. “We could go back in time and change things…” I tried to feel the chronivator on my wrist but my fingers only touched skin. They had taken the chronivator off of me. Of course. I looked back at Jake, who was ignoring me and humming a tune that was probably from the 2020’s.
“So what have they been doing to you for the last few years?” He looked pretty healthy to me.
“They asked me questions about you. Your hobbies, family, friends, etc. At first I refused to answer, for I was sure you’d come and save me any moment now. After a year or two, though, I gave up on you.”
“Did you ever think that maybe it only took us so long because you have them all that information about us?”
“Yeah, but they never seemed satisfied with what I was giving them. They kept asking about some coin you had.”
“Coin? What coin?”
“I don’t know. It’s your coin.”
The only coin I remembered having was the one Jake found in 1969. I hadn’t given it a second thought since. “The one from 1969?”
He gave me a confused look.
“You know, seconds after we landed in 1969, you found a coin on the ground, showed it to me, and I kept it for whatever reason? Remember that? I think someone said it might be valuable?”
“No. As a matter of fact, I don’t remember anyone saying that.” Of course he didn’t. That was three years ago for him, only an hour ago for me.
I looked back at Chloe, who was still sleeping. I called out her name, but she didn’t stir. “Did they drug us?”
“Yeah. Some type of sleeping thingy. They gave her a slightly larger dose.”
“How do you know that?”
“Because when the lady gave it to her, she said to me, ‘I’ve given her a slightly larger dose.”
“Who is this lady?”
“She’s not allowed to tell me anything about her. She just gives me food and stuff. I’m usually not tied up, but I guess today’s a special occasion.” He chuckled humorlessly.
After he said this Lindsey walked into the room. “That’s her,” said Jake.
She did not speak to us, she didn’t look at us. All Lindsey did was check the cuffs on our hands and feet and left us to ourselves again.
“Am I hallucinating, by any chance? Like, are you real?” asked Jake, looking at his fingers like he was surprised they were there.
“Yeah I’m real. Why?”
“I think I’ve been hallucinating lately. The walls have been closing in and whatnot. That’s probably what happens to people after three years of being trapped in an empty room with nothing to do…”
“You are not helping with the guilt.”
“Oh, I feel so bad for you,” said Jake with his not-so-subtle sarcasm. “I’ve been trapped here while you and Chloe have probably been traveling around the universe, fighting aliens and killing Hitler without me, but at least you feel bad about it.”
“We went straight here the moment you were kidnapped,” I said. “Now, I’m sorry but there’s nothing I can do to change that. What we have to do is a find a way to get Chloe out of here before—” I stopped suddenly, filled with relief. That article was from the year 2020. If Jake was telling the truth—that this was now 2023, then Chloe wasn’t in any real danger. The odds of all three of us getting out of here alive just rose from very slim to just slim.
At that moment Mr. L Smith walked into the room, looking like a more intimidating version of Mr. Clean. His posture showed confidence, intelligence, and a hint of someone with homicidal tendencies.
“Hi Josh,” he said, shutting the door and putting a chair down in front of us to sit. “Why don’t you save us all some time, and tell me where the coin is?”
“The one we found in 1969?”
“That’s the one.”
“That’s all you want?”
“Why do you want it?” asked Jake. “More importantly, why couldn’t you have just gone back in time ten minutes before he picked it up and saved yourself all this trouble? Or just took it from him while he was sleeping or something? Or, you know, ask him politely without killing a bunch of people and keeping me prisoner here all this time?” I thought I heard some type of noise from Chloe behind me but I couldn’t turn around to see.
“You were only here for three days,” said Smith. “Stop complaining.
“No,” I said. “He’s been here for three years.”
“That’s what he told you?” he asked, smiling.
“What?” I looked at Jake, and one look from his suddenly red face told me he had been lying to me from the moment I woke up.
“I may have exaggerated the extent of my stay here,” he said.
“So you’ve only been here for three days? That’s it?”
“It was still excruciatingly lonely. They tortured me and whatnot.”
“We literally did nothing bad to him,” said Smith. “We let him watch Netflix, play Modern Warfare 7. In fact, last night, all of us drove down to Six Flags Great Adventure and since we had a flash pass, we got to go on every ride multiple times.”
“They have this new ride where you actually fly off the tracks for a couple seconds,” said Jake excitedly, then he saw how pissed off I was and shut up.
“All we did is ask him about the coin once, and since it was clear he knew nothing, we let the topic go. We just needed him with us so you would come. He’s only been here for three days.”
“You have got to be kidding me.”
“Hey if you don’t laugh, My fake story just seems cruel and unfunny,” said Jake.
“Three years? You couldn’t have made it a couple weeks instead? Then you have to make me feel guilty about it by claiming to be tortured and having hallucinations?
“Why do you have to be so desperate for attention!? You always have to lie, or shoplift, or throw stuff at things and it always ends up with me having to suffer! And how the hell did your hair grow so much so quickly?”
“That would be a ‘plot hole,’” he said, but I stopped caring about that then, when I heard Chloe cough behind us, which reminded me:
“So today’s May 10th, 2020?” I asked, remembering that it had been the 7th when we got here. That’s still good. An “impossible” girl was found in the Wappingers creek three days ago. Not today.
“No, it’s still the 7th. You guys just came by three days late,” said Smith. “Now tell me where the coin is.”
“Fine, as long as all three of us, especially Chloe, is guaranteed safety. Okay?”
Had I just said that, he probably would’ve let us all go home and live the rest of our lives out peacefully and Chloe never would have died. But instead I had another demand.
“And I want some answers.”