When I heard the news all over the TV and from people in my college dorm at NYU, I laughed. I’ve heard the stupid talks about the apocalypse many times before and it was all a hoax to scare people into acting like a bunch of lunatics as they race around getting what they need or praying for their lives to be spared.
Honestly…Why go crazy and buy things?! You won’t need it when you’re gone.I’ve never been a superstitious person. What’s the point? Everyone is going to die one-way or another someday, right? Plus…this hoax happens at least every few years and the world is still here.
Imagine my surprise when I went home to my family for spring break in Rhode Island and found an empty house…. No note. No family. No…anything. Not to mention the lack of traffic to get there. Very weird.
People really took this end of the world thing seriously. Even my family. Sheesh. I, Charlotte Chance just want to get my braces off and have a big home cooked meal.
Is that really too much to ask?!??!
I parked in the empty driveway and unlocked the front door of my family’s cozy 3 bedroom white house with a white picket fence. Just kidding, my family isn’t that original. It’s actually a light green house with a white picket fence that is only protecting mom’s flower garden.
I tossed my bags on the floor as I stepped into the living room. It was way too quiet.
Normally my brother Noah, who was fourteen with a full head of messy brown hair, would be raiding the refrigerator looking for food, because he was always hungry.
How will he survive the apocalypse?! I thought. He’ll starve. I grinned as I called to Noah and my parents.
“Mom! Dad! Noah!” I shouted, as I walked from room to room.
I thought twice about entering Noah’s room. The bumper stickers on his door were enough to discourage anyone. Enter at your own risk; Do you have a death wish?!; Do not disturb, mad scientist at work; to name a few.
I opened his door very slowly and peeked in. The smell of his dirty clothes, doritos, and dirty rat cage was enough to bring on the apocalypse. I held in my upchuck and covered my nose with my shirt as I opened the door wider. My little brother was truly disgusting.
Noah’s black curtains were closed and his blinds were open enough to let in the bright sunlight. I got chills as I tried not to think about what was under each pile of dirty clothes and his bed. His hamper was empty. Go figure. There were two empty bags of doritos lying around with dorito crumbs on the floor. His black rat, Max, was staring at me from his dirty cage on top of Noah’s desk, which also held his laptop, mouse pad, CDs, Xbox games, and dvds.
I stuck my finger in Max’s cage and he nibbled my finger.
“So, Max. Where’s Noah? You're not going to rat me out for being in here are you?" I asked, laughing at my own stupid joke.
He continued to nibble my finger and stare at me. He was clueless, like me. I hurried out of the room, not bothering to shut the door behind me.
I opened the door to mom and dad’s room next. Spotless as usual. I entered my room at the end of the hall and smiled at Chris Pratt, who was staring at me from the wall above my bed, with Rocky and Groot by his side. I blew him a kiss and lay on my bed, as I looked around my room.
Everything was neat and organized, except my dvds, which I imagined was Noah’s fault. He always came in my room to “borrow” movies and then they would magically disappear.
I pulled my cell phone out of my pocket and turned it on. It was dead. Weird, I thought it had fully charged in my car. I plugged my phone into the charger and there was no life. I flipped the light switch and it did nothing. I rushed to the kitchen and picked up the cordless. It was dead. Did a fuse blow? I wondered.
I fished through the junk drawer and found a flashlight. I turned it on and made my way to the basement, where the fuse box was. I forgot how steep the stairs were and slipped. I grabbed the railing and caught myself. I heard a cough and screamed.
“Get a grip, Charlotte,” I said aloud.
It was just me who had coughed. I shined the flashlight down the stairs as I stood up to look around. The basement was damp and dirty. There were boxes filled with winter clothes, old toys and books, and god knows what else. The washer and dryer stood against the wall along with a shelf that held all our laundry needs.
I flipped the switches in the fuse box and nothing happened. Of course. I shined the light in the corner and saw my red mountain bike and smiled. The black bike pump was next to it.
I went back upstairs to my bedroom and smiled at myself in the full-length mirror. My curly reddish blonde hair had been cut to my shoulders a week ago; I had green eyes, and i finally had contacts and no pimples. The braces though, ugh. They had to go.
I was a psychology major in college and I got good grades. Whatever this apocalypse held, I could handle it. No one was going to come between my mom’s homemade barbeque ribs and me.
I knew my family was smart and they were safe…somewhere. I could sense it. I packed a small backpack with batteries, the flashlight, bottled water, and a handful of rice crispy treats. Then I pulled my hair into a ponytail and left the house to start my car. The engine sputtered and groaned. I sighed and locked it up again.
Then I pulled my bike carefully up the basement stairs, pumped up the tires and left the house again with the backpack on.
Mission: Find an orthodontist and get these stupid braces off. PRONTO.
As I pedaled my bike up and down the streets, there was no sign of life. No barking dogs in the Dorman’s yard, no cats in old lady Jenkin’s yard, and no kids playing anywhere. As I approached the elementary school, I stopped to look at my watch... two thirty pm. I munched on a rice crispy treat as I looked around. Normally kids would be getting out of school by now, but there was nothing. The silence was deafening, scary even. What was really going on? I thought. The only sound was the American flag blowing in the warm breeze and bumping the flag pole near the school.
I pedaled to the dentists office and there was a note on the door. The note said, “Out to lunch. Be back in an hour.”
Right, I thought. I peaked in the window and saw that everything was neat and organized with posters and plaques on the wall of the waiting room. I took a deep breath and looked at my surroundings. I closed my eyes and thought about what my psychology teacher had told the class. ‘Whenever you’re in a state of confusion, take a deep breath, close your eyes, and clear your mind. Look at life differently.’
I took another deep breath and pedaled on, through the bike path in the woods, looking for any signs of life. I felt like I had gone in circles, but I saw people everywhere, living as if nothing had happened. I was confused.
“Mrs. Perkins, what happened?” I asked.
She ignored me and went about doing her gardening. Weird. She was normally very friendly. As I rode around my neighborhood, slowly, I realized that nobody was ignoring me, it was as if I was a ghost. Now I was getting freaked out. I stopped for a moment to think.
When did things change suddenly? I asked myself.
“It was when I went through the woods!” I shouted aloud.
As I peddled back to the woods past Miss. Thomas, the flower shop owner, I heard something fall. I stopped and looked in time to see Miss. Thomas pick up my flashlight.
“Wow,” I said, baffled, “So they can’t see people, but they can see objects”
It gave me an idea. I rode my bike to the dentists office and saw Dr. Rider sitting on the bench outside of the building, talking on his cell phone. I pulled a pen and notepad out of my backpack and wrote a note.
Dr. Rider...I know this sounds strange, but please meet me in the woods, under the old oak tree near the bench. I have something important to show you... Charlotte Chance
Then I placed the note on the bench beside him. I waited for him to read it and look around. He went back inside and I sighed. He came back out moments later and I smiled, as he got in his car. I rode as quick as I could to the spot in the woods I mentioned and waited. I saw him moments later and I hurried over to him.
“Charlotte, what’s going on? How did I get that note? I never even saw you.”
“We’re in a parallel world, caused by the apocalypse. I know it sounds weird, but it’s the only explanation I have.”
“I think you watch too many movies. I don’t believe in that kind of stuff.”
“Well, how do explain that I can’t see your car from here?” I asked.
He looked at where he had parked and seemed confused.
“Where did my car go?!” he asked.
“Walk about ten feet,” I said.
He walked ten feet and saw his car, right where he parked, then he stepped back and then forward again.
“Wow, very interesting,” he smiled, turning to me.
“I think everyone is living in a parallel world, except us, at the moment,” I explained.
“So, how do we fix it?” he asked.
“I was hoping you could help,” I said.
“Well for one, I need these off,” I smiled, showing off my braces.
“Ok, one question. How do you know that we’re not in a parallel world and everyone else is where they should be?”
"I honestly don't know."
“Ok, well let’s go then,” he said, as he walked toward his car and was gone.
He walked back through the invisible portal and was back.
“Charlotte, aren’t you coming?” he asked.
“You can’t see me on this side of this portal. We have to go to the portal at the other end of the woods.”
“Ok, lets go then,” he said, as I led the way.
It turns out that I was wrong. I couldn’t see him on the other side. So, we were stuck in the woods. In my reality, nobody existed. In the alternate reality, I didn’t exist.
“So, what now?” I asked.
“It looks to me like we’ll have to take those braces off in the woods.”
“I mean about this paralellel world.”
“We’ll figure it out,” he smiled as he disappeared again to get what he needed.
He came back shortly after and removed my braces. Then he said he was going to put his stuff in his car and he’d come back so we could talk. I saw him walk to his car and ran to catch up with him.
“Dr. Rider, I can see you now and everyone else,” I said, as I looked down the street, confused.
“Charlotte, do you know what this means?”
“It means that you’re braces were holding you back from seeing your true self. You’re strong belief that the apocalypse wasn’t real created an alternate reality where the apocalypse and end of days doesn’t exist.”
“So what about the other side?” I asked, curiously.
“It doesn’t exist anymore. You, Charlotte Chance, are a hero,” he smiled.
I was shocked.
“I’m a hero?! Wow. To think I only came home for my mom’s ribs and I accidentally saved the world. I’d say that’s a great start to spring break,” I said.
“Maybe now since I saved the world, I’ll treat myself with a tattoo,” I smiled.
He winked at me and drove away in his car.
Author Notes: I got the idea of this story from a friend on facebook who sent it to me as a writing challenge. I plan to write more short stories starring Charlotte Chance...Psych major!