Chapter 1 "Yesterday"

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 “When we see the shadow on our images, are we seeing the time eleven minutes ago on Mars or are we seeing the time on Mars as observed from Earth now? It's like time travel problems in science fiction. When is now; when was then?”


- Bill Nye

Belleville, MI

December 21, 2031



Carson Household

        The wind blew hard and the garage door rattled loudly. The snow was coming down so hard and fast that a person wouldn’t be able to see their hands in front of their faces. The winter had been a harsh one and the people of the Northern United States were looking forward to the spring and trying not to think of the inferno looming in the inevitable summer.

        Such was life on the warming Earth.

        “Mom,” Meg called from the garage, “can you bring me a bottle of water?” She was half under the jacked up mass of her ancient Jeep Cherokee. The exhaust pipe had cracked on her way home from school. It’d been her last class before winter break, and she wanted it fixed before dinner.

        I need to break down and buy one of the new model Tesla’s and be done with gasoline forever, she thought grumpily. Dad said he’d help me buy a new car when I graduated high school but no, I had to be practical and ask for a new computer.

        She smiled thinking of her dad. No matter how much she hated being stuck here in the snow and ice—it was better than baking and sweating to death in the subtropical hell-hole of Southern Florida. Nathan Carson was a troubleshooter for a Detroit based engineering firm and he'd been dispatched to Miami to deal with problems occurring with the new flood control system. He was due back home on Christmas Eve and Meg very was excited to see him again because he’d been gone for three months.

        “Is everything aright under there sweetie? Are you almost finished?” Denise Carson asked her youngest daughter when she entered the garage from the kitchen. “Also, I’m not saying it was you but somebody was out here cursing like an autoworker not long ago.”

        Meg broke out in giggles from beneath the Jeep. “It will be fine in a few minutes,” she replied sliding out from under the SUV her body prone on the creeper. The devices wheels rolled soundlessly on the smooth concrete, then she added, “And let’s be honest Mother, I didn’t get my salty mouth from dear old Dad either.”

        “Alright, fine. I have a fucking potty mouth,” Denise laughed helping her daughter to her feet. “It’s because your grandmother let me watch South Park when I was a kid.”

        “Ugh,” Meg said rolling her eyes and taking the water from her mother. “That show is so old and stupid. Besides it’s not even funny!”

        “Kids have no taste these days,” Denise shot back laughing. “And besides your brother likes it.”

        “Ricky, is twenty-seven and thinks it’s high class cuisine to put ketchup on pizza,” Meg joked, giggling at the disgusted look on her mother’s face.

        “What’s that?” Denise asked pointing to the leather necklace around Meg’s neck.

        “Tammy gave it to me,” Meg responded reaching into her shirt and pulling the necklace with the charm out for her mother to see. “It’s my Christmas present. She bought it in a market in Peru before coming home for the holidays.”

        Meg’s best friend, Tammy Sanford, was an archeology grad student studying abroad in Lima. She’d surprised Meg at lunch with the present and a case of Inka Cola. It was her favorite cola and not easily available outside of South America.

        “What is it?” Denise asked leaning in to study it.

        At the end of the necklace was a copper ring slightly larger than an old fashioned silver dollar. The surface of the ring was etched with a complex series of symbols and lines, and at an even spacing of about two centimeters around the ring were tiny bands of gold and silver.

        “Tammy said it was a replica of a pre Incan artifact. She said the language on the ring has yet to be deciphered by linguists in the area,” Meg answered slipping the deceptively heavy piece of jewelry back inside her shirt.

        “Are you sure it’s a replica?” Denise asked. “It looks really old.”

        “Tammy said she bought it from this little Grandmother that sells trinkets on a blanket,” Meg said twisting the top off the bottle and taking a drink. “I doubt she was selling real artifacts, not that Tammy could afford them if she was.”

        “Well, it’s very pretty,” Denise said. “I wanted to know if you were almost done because I need a favor.”

        “Sure thing,” Meg said chucking the empty water bottle into the recycling bin. “I just need to clean up. What do you need?”

        “Would you mind running over to Meijer’s to get some milk and bread?” her mother asked hopefully.

        “Sure thing,” Meg laughed.

        Outside a bolt of lightning cut through the blinding snow.

Belleville Road

        Thank the Gods for the radar app, Meg thought. I have no idea what Mom and Dad did when they were my age and the weather was this fucked up. Probably stayed home and played grab ass when Grandma and Grandpa weren’t around.

        Meg grinned at the thought.

        The windshield of the Jeep was overlaid with a crystal clear and photo realistic holographic image of the road ahead. If she’d been forced to rely on her own senses to navigate to the supermarket, Meg would have just stayed home. Road gripping tires or not, there was no way she’d be out in this mess if the view wasn’t damn near one hundred percent clear.

        Lighting split the sky and the Jeep's scanner system adjusted the hologram instantly. Meg was able to see the bright blue bridge spanning the narrow point on Belleville Lake.       

        That is really strange. Since when is there lightning in a snowstorm? Meg thought, then dismissed as just more of the weird weather they’d been dealing with in the last few years. This was just life in the ever changing climate of global warming.

        Run into the store, get the milk and bread, and then back home in time to help Mom finish dinner, Meg thought not paying attention to the two lightning bolts that immediately followed the first.

        That was when the copper ring pressing against the flesh between her breasts began to grow warm. At first it was barely noticeable but it quickly escalated to a heat so intense it hurt.

        “What the fuck?” Meg yelled reaching frantically for the leather necklace.

        Panic was filling her, but not as fast as the pain that was increasing. She began to scream at the white-hot intensity. Smoke and the smell of burning flesh and fabric filled the confined space of the Jeep's interior.

        The fourth lightning bolt hit her Jeep when she was half way across the bridge.

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