Palo Alto Weekly 17th Annual Short Story Contest
Lost in Time
by Molly Bolten
Jesse, wake up!" commanded Jesse's younger brother, Will.
"Yesterday you said you'd take me to the beach!" Jesse woke up and got out of bed. "I'm up, I'm awake!"
"It's a great day for swimming, isn't it?" said Will.
"It sure is! Let's go downstairs and ask Mom to come with us." The two kids marched downstairs. "Good morning, kids. You're up early. Are you going to the beach?" greeted their mother.
"Yeah, do you want to come with us?" inquired Jesse.
"Sure, why not."
"It's pretty out, isn't it?"
"Well, it's always nice here," their mother laughed. "Let me go get my suit."
In a few minutes, they were at the beach. "Will and I are going to look for shells. We'll be back soon," said Jesse.
"Okay then, be back before lunch," answered their mother. So, Will and Jesse started down the beach looking for shells. By the time they got to the rocky part of the beach, they had found tons of shells. "Let's sit down and take a break," said Will tiredly.
"Okay," replied Jesse, as she sat down on one of the black, porous rocks that lay on the beach. Then, she saw something glistening between two rocks. "Hey Will, look at this!" exclaimed Jesse.
"What?" asked Will.
"There's something between those rocks." Will walked over to where Jesse was standing and peered between the rocks. He reached his arm into the crack and pulled out and a large, iridescent abalone shell, but the moment he pulled it out, both of them felt like the world was spinning swiftly around them. Then the spinning stopped. They looked around. Everything looked different; the buildings weren't there and there was nobody on the beach. "Where are we?" Jesse asked.
"I don't know," Will responded.
"Do you think we went back in time?"
Suddenly, a boy about Jesse's age walked up behind them. He had scruffy, dirty blond hair and was wearing ankle length pants that looked worn. "Are you lost?" questioned the boy.
"No, we just don't know where in the heck we are and what
year it is," answered Jesse sarcastically. "My name's
Jesse and this is my brother Will."
"The shell of Alagor. It's a magic shell that can take you forward and back through time. You must've come from the year 2002, because that's the year I came from, but right now it's 1787," informed Sam. "You can only go back to your own time if you have the shell during sunrise of the second day. If you don't have it, you're stuck here forever. That's what happened to me."
Will chimed in, "So you're telling us that if we let anyone have it, we'll be stuck here in 1787 forever?"
Will sank to the ground and put his head in his hands. "We're doomed!" he shouted.
"It's okay," said Jesse sympathetically. "All we
have to do is keep the shell from anyone who tries to get it and
we'll return home safely-maybe even with Sam."
Sam led Jesse and Will up the beach and into a small hut. "We will sleep here tonight," said Sam. "Here." He tossed them each a pillow and a blanket. "You might want these."
When darkness came, the three of them settled on the floor of the hut. Will and Sam fell asleep almost immediately, but Jesse was wide awake. Finally, when Jesse was just about to doze off, everyone was awakened by a loud knock on the door. Sam jumped up and peered out through the window. "I knew they would come eventually," he sighed.
"Who is they?" asked Jesse.
"Pirates. They've wanted the shell for years, and whenever they find out that somebody has it, they go around looking for it so that they can make some money off of it."
Jesse could hear their loud, rough voices outside the door, shouting. "What do we do?" asked Will.
"We go through the trap door," Sam replied. He walked over to the back corner of the hut and lifted a small door, just big enough for a normal sized person to crawl through.
Jesse and Will followed. Jesse went in first. She slid down a narrow slide, which she guessed was about three feet wide and hit the bottom. Then Will jumped in after her, and Sam went last.
Sam clapped his hands twice and some torches lit up along the walls. Jesse and Will, who were both crouched down, looked up and realized that the chamber had suddenly gotten larger, giving them the ability to stand up. Then they heard the door slam, and one of the pirates said gruffly, "It looks like they left, let's look outside." The group, which Jesse thought to be about five of them, left the room. "That was close!" exclaimed Will. "What would they have done to us if we had been there?"
"They would've taken the shell and left you lying on the ground," answered Sam. "Let's keep going."
To Jesse, it seemed like they were walking forever and not getting
anywhere, but soon the cave came to an end and there was a rickety
ladder leading back up to regular ground. "You first, Jesse.
Then you, Will. I'll go last," commanded Sam.
"No!" shouted Sam. "Jesse, the sun's rising. It's time." Jesse nodded and pulled out the shell from her pocket.
Once again, the world seemed like it was spinning, but this time, Jesse and Will-and Sam- were ready for it. When the world finally stopped spinning and they were all back in their own time, the three of them started back down the shore. When they got back to where Jesse and Will's mother was sitting, she looked up and said, "I see you've brought a friend. What's your name?"
"I'm Sam. Nice to meet you."
"Where were you guys?"
As she threw the shell down on the ground and it shattered, Jesse replied, "Oh, we kind of got lost in time."
Short story writers wanted!
The 34th Annual Palo Alto Weekly Short Story Contest is now accepting entries for Adult, Young Adult and Teen categories. Send us your short story (2,500 words or less) and entry form by March 27, 2020. First, Second and Third Place prizes awarded in each category. Sponsored by Kepler's Books, Linden Tree Books and Bell's Books.