Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: Write in the SCIENCE FICTION genre (05/10/07)
TITLE: A Train Trip
By Suzanne R
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I was innocently eavesdropping, as the casual passenger is wont to do. Opposite me sat a girl, maybe twelve years old, and an older lady.
“Nan, why do I look so different to you?”
Now, apart from her colouring, the girl didn’t look different at all. With the same cherry shaped lips, petite nose and high forehead, the two were obviously related. The girl, however, had almond-shaped dark eyes, olive skin and beautiful thick black hair. Her grandmother was fair, her hair white, and her round grey-blue eyes were accentuated by the matching scarf she woman wore with aplomb.
“Samantha, dear, you take after your dad in some ways. But you take after your mum in others. You’re very much my granddaughter, sweetie. If only you could see where you came from, you’d understand……”
The older lady sighed, smiled then cupped her hand over Samantha’s ear.
“No, Nan! Mum would be mad!”
“But, dear girl, don’t they teach you anything at school? We’re simply vibrating masses. Everything is just energy. All it takes is a little focus. It’s not magic or anything.”
Samantha entwined her small dark fingers with grandmother’s white blotchy ones. The older lady closed her eyes and wrinkled her forehead in concentration.
And that’s when it all happened.
Actually, nothing happened. But everything was different.
The train was approaching my station when the grandmother opened her eyes. Her eyes were hollow, and her face had suddenly drained of colour, leaving it a better match for the white shirt she wore than her faded eyes were for her scarf. The girl’s features were the same, but the beautiful dark eyes now contained an expression of … well … of knowing herself.
Samantha tenderly stroked the white hair of her grandmother, a woman who now appeared impossibly old. I leaned over with my mobile phone. “Do you want me to call an ambulance?”
“Ambulance?” Samantha stared at the phone with a blank face. Then as she looked into my eyes, her face lit up. “Nunioralla?!” Her face fell again. “Oh – no – sorry, you look like someone I know.”
She looked out the window, then suddenly shrieked in a way that befitted a child and not the young woman laden down with cares that she had resembled just a moment earlier. “Nan! We’re back to the future! McMahon’s Flat, even. You did it, Nan!”
In a strong Irish brogue, the older lady weakly muttered, “Aye, child. Old Zhang was right. The gold dust in the wok over the campfire provided a focal point.”
I tapped the girl’s knee. “We’re arriving at McMahon Station. I have a car here. Do you need help getting home?”
“Home? Oh, thank you.”
I’m a tall man, and it was easy to pick up the little old lady. She was clearly too weak to walk. I moved fast – in my opinion, this lady needed medical help and the child seemed too confused to direct me anywhere. The hospital was the best place for them. Samantha held her grandmother’s hand and ran to keep up with my long legs. A middle-aged woman with small cherry-shaped lips, a petite nose and a high forehead stood at the ticket barrier.
“What on earth……?!” Her voice rose to almost a hysterical scream. “Samantha Meiling Robinson, you know better than to let your grandmother experiment, let alone with you in tow. Mum, don’t you remember what the dean said at the university when you were disbarred? To think I could have lost you both....”
The middle-aged woman’s face crumpled and she collapsed into sobs. I sat the old lady on a bench, led the middle-aged woman to her side, surreptitiously passed her my handkerchief, and stood nearby to see if they needed anything else.
The sobs finally subsided and the middle-aged woman looked up. “Thank you so much. We’ll be okay now.” The colour was returning to the older lady’s face too.
As I turned to leave, Samantha sidled up to me, running her brown finger along my dark hand. “Sir, I don’t believe I’ve ever met an Aborigine quite as black as you.”
“I’m from Sudan, child.”
She looked up at me with a frown. “Is that near the Inland Sea?”
I shook my head, smiled at her then headed home.
Something weird happened on the train today. I still don’t know what.
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