Morgan swung her legs out of the car. She noticed a puddle near her and attempted to reach over it. As she did her foot dropped into another puddle. She could feel the cold water up to her ankle. She was more frustrated than embarrassed. As she stepped out of the car her face felt the cold, misty drizzle, and her hair capture each drop of water. She looked back over her shoulder at Mrs. Stone who was just rounding the back of the car. She used short little steps which gave the impression of a brisk walk. As she passed Morgan carrying a suitcase she spoke.
“Come along now; we must be quick about this” she said, as she started up the walk. Her eyes were looking down and her voice contained tension as if the words were difficult to say.
Morgan looked at the old Victorian house they approached. It was a large old two story house with stone walls partially covered by ivy. The front door consisted of thick planks of wood held together with metal straps and painted a light red. The frame around the door was also wooden, painted white. Mrs. Stone rang the bell.
As they waited, Morgan looked at the sign next to the door which read Mac Kenna Home for Girls. She thought it should read Mac Kenna Reform School for Girls. The thought typified her feeling about having to go here. It certainly was not HER intent. She looked around at the other features of the house. It was quite different from the houses where she was from. Where Morgan was from homes were of modern 2050’s architecture. But this house looked like it must be 150 years old or more.
The door opened with a groan and a middle aged woman appeared, looking at them over the top of her square spectacles. She remained silent which caused Mrs. Stone a feeling of uneasiness.
“Ah – I’m Mrs. Stone, and this is Morgan? We have an appointment with Mr. Mac Kenna today at ten.”
The woman at the door looked silently down at her watch, and then spoke without looking up.
“Mr. Mac Kenna died over a year ago.”
The words confused Mrs. Stone. She was confident she spoke with Mr. Mac Kenna last week concerning this appointment. Possibly she went to the wrong address. However before she could say anything, the woman continued.
“I am Miss O’Shea, the headmistress. Won’t you come in?”
The two followed Miss O’Shea through a rather small front room to an office. The office was very plain with filing cabinets and a desk. Miss O’Shea sat in front of a computer and started to type on the keyboard.
“I don’t see any reference here concerning an appointment today” she said to them, “None-the-less, you are here. Tell me a little about Morgan.”
In the next few moments Mrs. Stone covered Morgan’s past; her failure to reach a passing score required of all 16 year olds to enter preparatory schools, and her discipline problems. Morgan listen, having heard it before; several times. She wished she didn’t have to listen to it again now. Although she desired the opportunities that a preparatory school could provide, she didn’t think the admissions test was fair anyway. She felt the test was made up by people in government who couldn’t get a real job, and took a job where they can play god over others to make themselves feel important. Moreover, she disagreed with the accounts that she was a discipline problem. I just looks at things differently she thought. It is just that there are times when I choose what to do and it tends to conflict with someone’s rules.
Morgan’s focus returned to the current discussion, which seemed to be reaching a conclusion.
“I see” Miss O’Shea said. Her words alerted Morgan to pay attention.
“I also would like to see children achieve the best, however our laws are clear” she said. “A child with repetitive disciplinary problems cannot be admitted into either preparatory or vocational school. They must finish in a Home For school, unless they have been arrested, in which case they must then attend a reform school.”
“Yes, I know” said Mrs. Stone. “It is just that as Morgan’s case worker, I want her to be placed in the correct facility. And I was expecting to meet with Mr. Mac Kenna. We had discussed the possibility of working with Morgan towards a retesting opportunity.”
“I have no idea who you spoke with last week but I can assure you it was not Mr. Mac Kenna. He disappeared… uh, died last year, and we do not have any men on the staff here. The program here, or most any of the HOME FOR schools for that matter, are not designed to help a child retest, and retesting is very expensive. However, we do have an opening, and Morgan does qualify.”
“Well, I guess it will be good for Morgan” said Mrs. Stone. Her voice expressed reluctance. She had been searching for a school for Morgan that could amplify her talents; however this had been the only school.
“Then we will show her to her dorm and she will start classes tomorrow.”
“Tomorrow!” It was the first time Morgan spoke since arriving; her Irish accent was prominent in her speech. “Tomorrow is Saturday” she said.
“We go to school here six days a week” said Miss O’Shea. “Now pick up your suitcase and I’ll show you around.” Miss O’Shea then turned to Mrs. Stone.
“Thank you for bringing Morgan to us. I’m sure we are the best to help her fit in. You can find your way out?”
“Yes, ah, sure” said Mrs. Stone, still with reluctance in her voice. She had a hesitation deep inside of her about leaving Morgan here. There were so many irregularities, yet there was really nothing she could do. In addition she had other cases that needed her attention. At least that’s what she told herself.
Morgan waited for Miss O’Shea in the front room. She watched as Mrs. Stone walked down the path, and drove away. She felt depressed as this set finality to her journey, and she was not ready for it to be final. Miss O’Shea had Morgan follow her as she identified the different rooms in the house. As they walked down a hallway, a set of large arched shaped double doors caught Morgan’s attention. Miss O’Shea failed to make reference to them.
“Ah, excuse me, but what are those doors?”
Miss O’Shea turned and glared at the girl.
“Those doors” Miss O’Shea said firmly, “lead to Mr. Mac Kenna’s study. That room is off limits to ALL in this school.” Miss O’Shea glared directly at Morgan, and the look and tone of her voice was very foreboding. Morgan was not bothered by such things, however this time it disturbed her.
They reached a hallway near the study that had seven doors, three on each side and one at the end of the hall. Each door was painted a different color. Miss O’Shea stopped at the orange door.
“This is your dorm” Miss O’Shea announced. Morgan hesitantly looked inside. The room was very basic and most notably had no windows. There she saw four beds with a girl seated on three of them, leaving one empty bed. It was unmade, with a sheet and blanket at the foot. Two of the girls looked about her age, but the third girl looked more like 20 years old.
Miss O’Shea stood and watched as Morgan entered the room and set her suitcase on the empty bed. She noticed there was no pillow.
“Do I get a pillow?” she asked.
“That depends on how you do this week” Miss O’Shea replied. She then turned and left.
The three girls in the room stood up and surrounded Morgan.
“Check it out,” said one girl, “a newbie.”
“Yeah,” said another.
“What’s in the bag?” The voice came from behind her. Morgan turned to face the older looking girl. She had to look up to see her face. The girl stood at least six foot, four. Her height dwarfed Morgan at five foot, five.
“I said what’s in the bag!” This time she spoke with a louder and more determined tone.
Morgan bent down and unsnapped the bag throwing it open exposing a disheveled pile of clothing.
“If anything in there fits you, you’re welcome to it” she replied.
The tall girl looked at Morgan, and then looked at the bag full of clothes. She reached for the clothes in the bag. Morgan grabbed the girl’s outstretched hand and twisted it outward, inducing pain enough to this tall girl to bring her to her knees.
“I said you could have anything that would fit you” said Morgan. “I doubt anything in there does and all the rest is mine. Try to take what is mine and I will break your arm.”
Morgan applied more pressure and the tall girl “Are we clear?” Wincing in pain she shook her head affirmatively, and Morgan released the pressure of her hold. The tall girl stood and shook her dark hair to recompose herself.
Morgan had indicated to the others that she was willing to fight for what was hers. The girls in the room relaxed in acceptance.
“I am Rebekalyn. You can call me Becky. This is Kristina,” pointing to a girl with blonde hair in a ponytail, then turning to the third girl with short brown hair, said “and this is Amanda.”
Morgan paused, and then spoke.
“My name is Morgan.” She looked at Becky. “I’m sorry if I hurt you.”
Becky gave her a half smile.
“You seem to be too old to be her”
Morgan was often direct. Becky didn’t seem to mind.
“I’ll be seventeen next month. My dad said I just grow faster than others. I guess I haven’t stopped growing.”
“I don’t know my parents” said Morgan. “I was taken from them when I was a baby.”
The statement from Morgan had all of them curious, yet unsure if they should ask what happened. Morgan recognized the curiosity from their faces.
“I was born without governmental permission. Because my parents never asked to have me, the bureau of public control removed me from them. I only remember my stepmother, who raised me.”
“I’ve heard of government-children” said Kristina. “I’m sorry.”
“It’s okay. I’ve been regulated by the government all my life. This place is just another example of their control. But that ends now.”
“What do you mean?” asked Becky.
“Tonight, I’m out of here.”
The room got quiet. Morgan caught everyone’s attention.
“What do you mean?” asked Kristina.
“Yeah” said Amanda. “Where will you go?”
Again, the room became quiet as they waited for an answer.
“I’ve spent my life under government control. I was taken from my parents; I mean I was so young I don’t even remember them. I lived with government sponsored guardians who were required to raise me according to the government’s direction or they would not be paid.”
“At least you had a place to live and food on the table” said Amanda.
“Yeah, I had a place to live without love. It was a place to live without real parents, with no one to think of you as someone special. As a government-child I was told what was right or wrong based on THEIR definitions; whoever THEY are. They start with laws, but then the law makers get lazy and allow the code writers to create the codes I had to live by. No reasons for the codes; just what somebody thinks I should do. I couldn’t fight back, so I discovered that I had to leave.”
“We don’t like it either” said Kristina. “What you’re saying sounds a lot like living right here. But we can’t do anything about it.”
“When I was little I learned about the real rules. I don’t know who taught these rules to me; it may have been my real parents. But these rules say people are important. We were made for each other; to help one another. It’s been said you have to look out for number one and that is true. However that is only because I’m important to everyone else; and everyone else is just as important to this world as I am.”
“It’s also been said that we have to play the hand we get” said Amanda.
“If this is that hand I get, I’m going to find another game. What’s happening here is not right and that is why I’m leaving” said Morgan.
“But where will you go?”
“I’ll know it when I find it.”
“And how will you get out of here?” asked Kristina. “
“I haven’t worked that part out yet, but I have left before…”
“But you’re here now, so leaving seems to be only a short fix” interrupted Becky, who had been quiet until now.
“This time will be different” Morgan protested.
“Only if you do what you just said; allow others to help you. There is always someone willing to help. All you need do is ask. Even if there seems to be no hope, you can still ask.”
“And if there is no hope, who do I ask if there is no one around to help?”
“Ask anyway. There is someone listening; there is always someone listening, even if you don’t see him. He is always there. If you’re doing the right thing, your requests will be heard.”
Just then the bell rang signaling them to head to class. Morgan followed the others to the classroom.
The day was pretty easy. They had some classroom time, and then changed for gym. Since Morgan didn’t have a gym uniform yet, she sat out of the activities. It was still raining outside so they spent the gym time in a large hall that was usually for meetings. As Morgan sat watching the other practicing stretches and doing gymnastics, Becky came to sit next to her.
“Tonight, after dinner we will have an hour of free time in the game room” she whispered. “You need to use terminal 30. It will be the last one in the room.”
Morgan started to ask her why but Becky put her finger to her lips indicating for her to be silent, and looked to make sure no one was listening. The teachers were all talking, so she continued.
“Bring up The Great Escape game. It’s very old but still runs on our computers. When it asks for the passcode, enter 0000. Be sure to wear your headset.”
Becky then got up and walked away.
After dinner Morgan headed for the game room. She found terminal 30 and brought up the game. Putting on the headset she entered the passcode. As the game started she heard Becky’s voice in the headset.
“I’ve rerouted the headsets so we can talk without anyone monitoring our conversation” she said. “We don’t have much time since the system re-polls every six minutes, so I can’t explain much right now. The game will ask you to enter your skills and select your equipment. Just think of your answers as they apply to you. You must finish the selections and then click on the tunnel named Tom before the clock hit the six minutes mark. Then the game will reset.”
Morgan was puzzled by this, but said okay.
“Meet me in Mr. Mac Kenna’s study tonight at midnight. Do not bring anything with you, but dress to leave.”
Morgan heard a click on the headset signifying the connection closed. She looked at the clock on the computer. She had just under four minutes left. She proceeded to answer the questions in the computer, and then clicked on the tunnel Tom icon. The computer instantly went dark. She wondered if that was what it was supposed to happen. Just then she heard Miss O’Shea’s voice behind her. It made her jump.
“Oh, too bad” Miss O’Shea said with sarcasm. “Well, I guess you’ll just have to find something else to do. All the other computers are taken. What were you playing anyway?”
“It was called The Great Escape.”
“Wow, that’s an old one. It’s probably why it crashed. I’ll get it removed from the computers.”
Morgan felt uneasy about this statement. She decided to go back to her dorm.
At midnight, Morgan was standing outside the doors to the study. She was dressed in black outfit. She felt that, if she was going to leave tonight, black would be good. However she was not crazy about not bringing her things. She stood at the door and thought how do I get inside. She knew they kept this room locked.
She was nervous as she looked up and down the hallway for Becky. Where she was standing had no cover and anyone coming down the hall would see her. As she stood there, she could hear voices. Somebody was coming. She looked to see if she could make it back to her dorm room when she realized that was the direction of the voices. She recognized one voice as that of Miss O’Shea.
As she started to feel a sense of panic, she was suddenly pulled into the study. It was Becky.
“Sorry, I didn’t startle you did I?”
“Oh no,” said Morgan, gasping for the breath which was stolen when she was pulled inside, “I was ready for it” she said with confidence. Then she looked at Becky. “How did you get in here?”
“Mr. Mac Kenna gave me keys before he left” Becky said in a very matter of fact tone.
“I thought he died.”
“Oh no, he’s not dead. He’s just, ah, traveling.”
Morgan looked around the room. The lighting was dim, only lit by two oil lamps. Most everything was covered in cobwebs. She heard the voices again outside the door.
“Will they come in?” she whispered.
“No. I’m the only one with keys and I locked the door.”
The voices pasted. Morgan then turned to see the rest of the room. Suddenly she stopped. In the other end of the room sat a large rectangular structure; kind of like a large crate. On all the corners were controls and lights. The structure was blue and there was a light emitting from inside. It was possible to see inside the structure; however multiple laser beams prevented access.
“Like it?” Becky said with pride.
“Ah, sure; what is it?”
“It has a very technical name, but for your understanding, it’s a time machine.”
Morgan stared at Becky for a moment.
“I’m not from this place” said Becky.
Morgan’s brow wrinkled, and her mouth opened like a trout.
“You’re from where then?” she asked.
“It not as much a matter of where, although that is a part of it; it’s more a matter of when. I am from the future.”
“How far in the future?”
“Using your measurement of time; 2500 years. This device was placed here about 150 years before now, as a transfer point. I am currently assigned as the operator.
“Transfer point; for who?”
Becky walked to the device and began to operate the controls.
“Our people use these transfer points to come to various worlds for research.”
“Why; are you an invading force?”
Becky formed a half smile.
“No,” she said, turning to face Morgan.
“Imagine if you had an illness on your world, and some distant world had the cure. Wouldn’t it be great if they could share that cure?”
“We monitor the process of medical research on various planets, and use the discoveries to the advantages on other planets. The problem with earth is that the government over regulate for their own personal agendas. Monetary gain supersedes human needs. For that reason, and others, we must remain hidden here.”
Becky went back to the controls.
“Who was here before you?”
“Mr. Mac Kenna was the last operator, and I took over from him.”
“So where do I fit into this?” Morgan’s question was embedded in her anticipation how all this will help here leave.
“You’re going on a trip” said Becky.
“Yes. You are the victim of some unfortunate errors, most caused by your government. We have been looking for you for some time and only found you about two weeks ago. We were able to get you here and now we need to send you home.”
“Home, you mean I’m from the future?”
“No, you were born in Dublin, Ireland sixteen years ago. However your parents are from the future.”
“I don’t understand?”
“Your parents are what we like to call, Travelers. They came to earth for a two year research assignment. However, they were unaware that your mother was carrying you. You were born here, and when that happened the government stepped in and took you away. Your parents were unaware of the requirement to request to have a child.”
“They didn’t fight to get me back?”
“They couldn’t without reveling who they were. And removing you forcefully would have caused even worse problems. Okay, the device is ready.”
Morgan’s head was spinning with all this new information. She even considered that this was all a lie, but she dismissed that thought. She could not deny the device in front of her.
“Simply place your hand on the palm scanner. Since you’ve never traveled through time and space before, the scanner will register you so it will never lose you. All the data you entered in the game will correlate with your identity. If for any reason the transfer fails, the device is your lifeline. Anything you need based on the metadata you provided can be obtained by the device. In this case I wouldn’t worry. Shortly you will be back home.”
“Will anyone be there to meet me?”
A full smile appeared on Becky’s face.
“Yes, your parents will be waiting.”
A section of laser beams opened to give access to the device and Morgan stepped in. She turned to face Becky. She looked uneasy.
“I was impressed with your personal view of doing right. You will certainly have a future as a Traveler. This is your new game; I think you will like the new hand you’ve been given.
Becky activated the device and in an instant, Morgan was gone. Becky smiled at the thought that at this very moment, somewhere in the future, Morgan is getting her first hugs from her real parents. She shut down the device and turned on a cloaking mechanism. She then returned to her dorm and to her bed. As she lay with her eyes open, Kristina spoke.
“Were you able to get Morgan out?”
“Um-hum” she answered.
“Maybe we should leave too.”
“No, staying here for now is the right thing for us to do. Someone needs to try and change the system. That’s our assignment.