Previous Challenge Entry (Level 4 – Masters)
Topic: Home for Christmas (11/20/08)
TITLE: What Jasmine Saw
By Jan Ackerson
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“Thirty-two new messages, Bump. What do you think…thirty holo-ads and two of those horrid Christmas letters?”
Bump declined to answer, being rather preoccupied with taking his afternoon bath on Jasmine’s lap.
And sure enough, one after another, small holo-ads projected onto Jasmine’s end table. A shimmering, miniature woman in a hula skirt sang out “Why not transport to Hawaii for the holidays?” A second hologram, this time a 7-inch high pilot in a sharply starched uniform, suggested “Let me fly you to the moon for your winter vacation!” Bump reached out with his Little Paw of Death and swatted at the pilot, who shimmered for a second before re-forming and starting his message all over again.
Jasmine sighed once more, this time not caring about the lack of an audience. She didn’t want to go to Hawaii, nor to the moon. She wanted…she wanted…
“Wouldn’t you like to go home for Christmas?” crooned the next hologram, a matronly woman clothed in quaint, 21st century garb. “TimeView can take you back to your past—or for the really adventurous, we can take you home…to the future!” The hologram blinked off, and returned dressed in a shiny silver jumpsuit. “Contact TimeView today…”
Jasmine slumped back into the chair, fingering the locket hanging on a thin chain around her neck. “I miss you, Mom and Dad” she whispered, but the single tear coursing down her cheek met lips that were smiling. “If they celebrate Christmas in heaven, don’t let Dad near the lights, okay?” She reached over and switched on the TimeView ad again.
And so it was that three days later, Jasmine scratched under Bump’s chin while she listened to the instructions to her Time Viewer.
“…has been downloaded with five minutes of Past Viewing or two minutes of Future Viewing. Be sure that you are seated, as TimeViewing may be slightly disorienting. Simply enter your ID number and the date you wish to View, then arrange the Viewer comfortably over your eyes. Be aware that you will be Viewing only; there will be no sound, and of course you will not be able to interact with the people you View, even though you will feel as if you are present in the room with them. If you choose to View the future, keep in mind that you will be Viewing only one possible Future. Due to the Uncertainty Principle…”
She muted the sound. Although she’d intended all along to “go home” to a Christmas in her childhood, before Mom and Dad had died, Jasmine found herself drawn now to Viewing the future. “Whatcha think, Bump? Ten years from now? Twenty?”
Bump’s reply was a sandpaper kiss.
“Okay, then, here we go…home for Christmas, ten years from now.” She entered the necessary data on the touchpad, donned the Viewer, and waited.
Whose apartment is this?…no one in the room…oh great, I’m all alone in the future…no wait, someone’s coming…well, hello, little girl, who are you?...she’s toddling over to that tree…oooh, I recognize that nativity set, it’s mine…oh no, honey, don’t touch that, it’ll break…she looks about two…where am I, though?...and who’s her…oh, I see me now, over in the corner…in my green chair!...I’m talking to the little girl, I think, she’s looking over at me…good girl, don’t put that in your mouth…but who is your…oh my…oh my…aren’t you a handsome fellow, and so tall! Are you…mine? I’m not sure I’ve ever seen hair quite so red…hey, nice kiss...and there’s grown-up Bump on the rug, in a pretty yellow collar…
The Viewer flickered to black. Jasmine inhaled deeply, almost but not quite finding the scent from the apartment she’d just Viewed.
“ ‘One possible future’, huh, Bump? Well, let’s see what we can do to make that happen.” Jasmine activated the Building Directory built into the wall behind her chair. “Pet Supplies...114th floor…Let’s go, Bump, I’m going to get you that collar!”
She settled Bump into a deep pocket in her tunic and headed for the Tube to the 114th floor. Was she surprised, do you think, at the tall, handsome redhead who greeted her there?
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