Chapter 1 - Awakening
In my dream, the knocking I hear is my mother pounding on my bedroom door telling me to wake up. She says I’m going to be late, that I won’t have time for breakfast, that I’ll miss my flight.
But I never eat breakfast.
And I don’t have a flight to catch.
Bewildered, I sit up in bed and look around. The room is dark except for a sliver of sunlight that’s escaped from a crack in the curtains. I can see the outline of a long dresser against one wall and an overstuffed armchair in the corner. Other than that, the room is empty—nothing like my bedroom at home which is cluttered with all my belongings, fifteen years worth to be exact.
For a second I wonder if I’m still dreaming, then I realize I’m not as the memories come rushing back. I’m in a hotel room in downtown San Francisco. Before that I was on an airplane returning home from visiting my grandmother in Japan, and before that I had just finished my freshmen year at Henry M. Gunn High School.
But that was all before—ninety-six years ago according to the people who greeted our plane when it landed. They took us to the hotel and told us we had time-travelled into the future because of something called a wormhole. The whole thing sounded crazy, like an elaborate prank, but I knew it was true when Darren, the man who sat next to me on the plane, introduced me to his son Kyle.
Kyle had come to the hotel after hearing about our plane landing. He’s nearly three times as old as Darren, completely paralyzed, and uses a wheelchair he controls with his mind. Kyle is also one of the richest people in the world and said he would help us build a life in the future.
Completely awake now, I kick off the bedsheets and sit up. I squint in the dark and search for a clock. But there isn’t one, at least not that I can see. I remember what Kyle said to me last night: ‘Fumie, If you need anything at all, just ask the hotel AI.’
Feeling stupid, I speak into the darkness. “Um…Hello, AI. What time is it?”
The voice that answers comes from somewhere above me. It’s neither male nor female and isn’t quite human. “Good afternoon, Ms. Nakamura. The time is 3:03 p.m. Would you like the lights on?”
Pleased with my modest success, I allow a tiny smile to creep onto my face. “Yes, thank you.”
The room brightens, and I climb out of bed, trudge to the closet and grab a thick white bathrobe. The hotel name is embroidered in gold letters across the front of the robe—The Fairmount. It used to be the fanciest hotel in San Francisco, and judging from the well-dressed people I saw in the lobby when we arrived, it still is.
The knocking starts again, more persistent now. It wasn’t a dream. Someone is at my door. I pad across the room in my bare feet and sneak a look through the peephole.
There are two people standing in the hallway: One is Samantha, the woman who Darren and I met briefly after our plane landed. She gave us something called learning glasses and told us they would help us adjust to everything that was new. The other person is a man I’ve never seen before.
They must have heard me moving around because Samantha says, “Fumie, it’s me, Samantha Davensport, your adaption counsellor. I have news for you.”
I throw open the door and blurt, “What news? Did you find any of my friends or family?”
Samantha presses her lips together and shakes her head. “No, Fumie, I’m sorry we haven’t, but we’ll keep looking. Can we come in?”
I let them into the room, and they walk past me and stand next to the pile of linens I kicked onto the floor when I got out of bed. Embarrassed, I hurry over and pick up the sheets, hugging them tight to my chest.
“How are you doing, Fumie?” Samantha asks.
I know she means well, but I want to shout, How exactly do you think I’m doing?I’m stuck in the future, and everyone I know is probably dead.
Samantha frowns like she doesn’t believe me. She glances around the room, her eyes settling on the learning glasses I left on the nightstand last night. “Have you begun acquainting yourself with everything that’s changed?” she asks.
I lie and tell her I have, but mostly I just laid on the bed and cried until I fell asleep. “You said you had news?” I ask, changing the subject.
Samantha nods and introduces the man next to her. “Fumie, this is Reuben Sampson. He’s with the Department of Child Services. He’s going to take you to one of their facilities.”
Facility—The word doesn’t exactly ring with warmth.
“What kind of facility?”
“It’s a group home,” she explains, “for kids like you.”
I’m pretty sure she doesn’t mean time-travellers.
“Why can’t I stay here?”
Samantha makes a tsk-tsk sound like my mother makes—correction, used to make—whenever I asked her something dumb. “Fumie, you’re only fifteen. You’re a minor. You can’t stay in the hotel by yourself. We’ll leave once you’ve packed.”
“Yes, I’m sorry.”
A single angry tear rolls down my cheek. It’s not fair. I didn’t ask for any of this. “Can I at least say goodbye to Darren and Kyle?”
Samantha and the man from Child Services share a glance. He nods and she says, “I’ll let them know. We’ll meet you downstairs in a minute.”
* * *
When I step out of the elevator, I can hear Darren all the way across the lobby. He and Kyle are waiting by the hotel’s main entrance. Darren is shouting and gesturing at the man from Child Services.
He spots me and dashes over. “Fumie, I’m sorry this is happening to you. Kyle told me he knows people in the Department of Child Services. I promise you’ll only be in foster care a few days.”
A few days…It might as well be a lifetime. I feel the weight of everything come crashing down on my shoulders. “Why are you doing this to me?” I shout at the man from Child Services.
He doesn’t answer, but from the look on his face, he’s heard those words a thousand times before. I’m nothing but a case file to him.
Kyle rolls his wheelchair across the lobby at an astonishing speed. When he comes to a stop next to us, the man from Child Services steps back. At first I think he’s being polite, but then I realize there’s something in his eyes—fear. He’s afraid of Kyle. Before I have a chance to wonder why, Kyle says, “Fumie, I’ll do everything in my power to get you out of the group home as quickly as possible, but while you’re there, don’t talk about your past.”
“The plane. Time travel. The year you came from. Don’t talk about any of that.”
“You’ll only draw attention to yourself,” he says. “The best thing to do in a place like that is to stay under the radar.”
The man from child services twitches. I can tell he doesn’t like what Kyle is saying, but he doesn’t disagree either.
“We should go,” he says and reaches for my arm. Kyle rolls closer, forcing him back.
“Fumie, Remember what I said. Don’t talk about what happened.”
I nod. It’s all I can do. I’m completely helpless.