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Lost Time--A Short Story
About this Story
I wrote this story about seven years ago and still remember how nervous I was about trying my hand at science fiction for the first time. I never did find a home for it, but I never regretted writing it anyway. The research alone was a learning experience!
*Please do not copy without permission from the author. Use the links on this webpage to share. All rights belong to the author*
Her head hurt. She strained to open her eyes and winced from the pain that shot through her skull. She immediately closed them in response and tears ran down her cheeks. She took several deep breaths, bracing herself against the pain she knew would come and forced them open again.
Light. Too much light. It burned. She squinted through it, ignoring the pounding in her head and tried to take in her surroundings. Where was she? She was on a bed, a pillow beneath her head and blankets covered her legs. The room was tiny with white walls and it smelled sterile.
“Hello?” She rasped. Her voice was barely audible in the stark room. She cleared her throat and called out again, this time forcing her voice louder. Sharp pain shot through her head for her effort. No answer came.
She pulled herself into a sitting position, her body protesting against the movement. She let out a groan from the effort. Why was she so weak? She moved slowly to the edge of the bed and got ready to slide off to stand. She hesitated a moment, becoming more aware of the weakness in her limbs. It took all of her concentration to make her body obey her commands to move.
“Don’t try to get up too quickly, I’m not sure you’re ready just yet,” a man’s voice interrupted her concentrated effort.
She jerked her head in surprise and looked at the man who had just entered the room. “Who-?”
“Don’t start talking too much now. Let’s get you some water first. You’ve been sleeping for quite awhile. We were hoping you would wake up soon.”
He came toward her slowly with his arms extended out; his hands raised so she could see his palms. Did he think she was going to attack him?
She watched him in confusion as he came closer. She guessed he was a doctor, though his clothing was a bit different than what it should be.
Where did that thought come from? Did she see many doctors to know the difference? She tried to recall, but nothing came to mind. Everything was a blank. Her head throbbed painfully as she tried harder to think, to remember.
“Can you tell me your name?” He asked her as he reached the bed.
She opened her mouth to answer, but nothing came out. Who was she? As she realized she didn’t know, her eyes widened and the breath stopped in her chest.
“I—I don’t know…” Tears flooded her eyes and she scrambled to get up from the bed. Adrenaline momentarily took away the weakness she’d struggled against only moments earlier. The need to get out of there overcame any other thought.
“Hold on, hold on. It’s okay, just lie back,” he tried to soothe her.
“No, no!” She tried to run for the door, hysteria filling every fiber of her being. She felt the sting of something sharp penetrating her skin and looked back at the doctor who now had a firm grip on her. Her eyes darted from him to the needle he had just jabbed into her arm.
Her thoughts became cloudy, her head heavy. The light dimmed around her and her body felt faint as the strength the adrenaline had given her vanished. The man’s arms wrapped around her as she collapsed.
“I’m sorry I had to do that. You just need to calm down. You’ll be okay. Close your eyes and rest for now,” she heard him say somewhere off in the distance.
She felt him lift her to the bed and made a futile effort to see him. Her heavy eyelids refused to obey her weak command. She felt his fingers against her cheek as he smoothed her hair away from her face.
Before complete darkness overcame her, she thought she heard him whisper, “You have to be okay. We need some answers from you. Why were you alone in the ocean? Who are you?”
* * *
She was flying. Never had she felt so free as when she took flight. It made her feel powerful and exhilarated. She didn’t care if anyone thought she overstepped her place by doing it. No one could stop her from doing what she loved.
“See that clearing there?”
She turned briefly to her navigator and gave him a beaming smile. “I see it.”
She maneuvered her plane through the clouds and enjoyed the rush of blood through her veins as she got ready to make her descent…
“How do you feel this morning?”
She opened her eyes and saw the same man from before. Her chest tightened as anxious pressure built up inside of her all over again. She fought to push it down this time, not wanting a repeat incident. She needed her own questions answered.
She cleared her throat before responding, “Fine.”
“Glad to hear it. Can you tell me your name today?” She shook her head. “Okay, well I’ll tell you mine. I’m Dr. Murray.” He gave her a soft smile and waited for her to digest that bit of information before continuing. “You were brought in here a few weeks ago, on July 3, when you were found drifting in the ocean on what looked like a piece of wreckage.”
She swallowed hard as she absorbed this bit of information and nodded for him to go on.
“Do you remember how you got there?”
She closed her eyes and tried to think. Nothing. She lowered her head in defeat and whispered, “No.”
He let out a disappointed sigh and then gave her a weak smile, “Is there anything you want to ask me?”
“I’m in hospital?” He nodded. “What day is it today?”
“July 24, 2037.”
No, that didn’t seem right. She shut her eyes against the sudden headache that threatened.
“Are you okay?”
She couldn’t answer, could only think that something was wrong. She must be going crazy.
“Can you tell me the last date you remember?”
She nearly answered no, when one suddenly came to mind, “July the second.”
“The day before you got here?”
“I don’t think so. It’s a different day…” She breathed in carefully and pushed through the blackness of her mind, at a memory tickling her subconscious. “I was flying.”
“That would explain the ocean.”
“No, you don’t understand. It was July the second, but not 2037.” Her voice wavered as she tried to understand what was going on in her mind.
“Then when was it?” He asked patiently.
“It was 1937.”
He stared at her as if she were insane, before hastily disguising his disbelief. “Alright then. Why don’t we take a break now? We can talk after you’ve had something to eat and maybe a rest.”
* * *
This wasn’t the way it was supposed to go. Where was the island? The weather didn’t help at all. The forecast had been completely wrong in predicting clear skies. They were flying through gray clouds and rain.
“Can you see anything yet, Fred?”
“These maps are all wrong. It should be here, but obviously it’s not.”
“We’ll have to radio.”
She tried not to let the fear take hold as she made the transmission asking for Itasca’s location.
“It’ll be okay, Amelia. We’ll get there,” Fred comforted her.
“Of course we will.” She prayed to God that he was right…
“I’ve brought another doctor here to talk with you. She’s a psychiatrist. Is that okay?”
She knew it, he thought she was crazy. She looked up to see Dr. Murray standing with the other doctor. This one was female. She smiled in surprise at the woman, liking her already despite her reason for being there. “A woman doctor?” She asked.
“I hope that won’t be a problem?” The woman asked.
“No, not at all. Good for you,” she put her hand out to shake the woman’s hand.
“Well… …thank you. I’m Dr. Aspen.” She accepted the proffered hand as she introduced herself.
“I’m glad to see a fellow woman doing something meaningful with her life.” She glanced at Dr. Aspen’s hand and saw a wedding ring. “Is your partner supportive?”
“Partner? Oh, you mean my husband? Yes, of course he is.” Dr. Aspen smiled.
“There’s no ‘of course’ about it. I’m lucky to have such an encouraging partner. George is…” She started in shock as she realized she’d had another memory.
“Are you remembering something?”
Flashes of how she met her dear husband, and of the last time she’d seen him went through her mind. Her heart filled with the memory and her arms suddenly felt very empty. Would she ever see him again? She remembered the letter she’d given him at their parting, in case anything happened to her. Then she’d gotten into the plane and left with…
“Did they find Fred, too?” She held her breath as she waited for the answer.
“My navigator. Please tell me he was rescued, too.” She looked at them both anxiously. She couldn’t imagine losing her good friend too.
“Ah. I’m sorry, I’m not aware of anyone else at this hospital with that name. Dr. Aspen looked down at her clipboard before asking; “do you remember your name now?”
“Amelia. Amelia Earhart,” she answered quietly. Her heart ached for her friend who must’ve drowned where she’d survived. She suddenly felt very alone, despite the two doctors in the room with her. It didn’t help that they were looking at her like she’d just announced she was an alien from another planet.
Dr. Aspen raised her eyebrows, but managed not to show any other reaction. “When were you born?”
“July 24, 1897 in Atchison, Kansas.” A chill went through her as more memories flooded into place. She had no idea where they’d gone before, but as quickly as she’d known they were gone, they were rushing back.
“Do you know the date today?”
“I guess, from what Dr. Murray said, it would be July 25, 2037. But really, that can’t be right.” She shook her head in denial. A heaviness settled into Amelia’s chest as she realized for the first time that this meant that her husband would’ve been dead for many years now. Could that really mean that she would never see him again? Or feel the warm, supportive strength of his arms? Her nostrils flared as she fought the urge to cry. She was stronger than that; she knew she was. She wouldn’t break down again in front of these strangers who didn’t believe her.
“I assure you, it is right. Do you know how old that would make you? Over a hundred years old.” Dr. Aspen lifted a mirror that Amelia hadn’t noticed before. “I can’t deny that you resemble her, but you don’t look like a 140 year old woman. You couldn’t be much over forty.”
Amelia shook her head to clear it. “I don’t know how to explain that. I only know who I am. I remember now. My name is Amelia Earhart and I’m a pilot. I don’t know how to prove it to you, but that’s just the way it is.”
The doctors looked at her in concern. At the rate this was going, she was sure they would be getting out another of those needles. Amelia searched for something to say to convince them. How had this happened? One minute she was flying over the Central Pacific, searching for the landing dock, and now she was apparently lost in time.
She could now clearly remember her last transmission…
“We are on the line of position 157-337. Will repeat this message… …We are running north and south.”
There was no response from the Itasca. She looked again at the fuel gage. She knew what she would see. The plane was low on fuel. She looked at Fred and knew he shared her fear. Would they be making their graves in the bottom of the ocean?
Amelia scanned the passing water below and knew Fred was doing the same. It had to be there. It just had to! Desperation filled her mind as they looked for somewhere, anywhere to land.
She was nearly ready to give up. “There’s nothing,” She said in defeat, her voice shaking from the sobs she struggled to hold back. Just then, something caught her eye. A light? A brightness in the sky that hadn’t been there before. Was the weather clearing? But it wasn’t rays of the sun she was seeing. “Do you see that, Fred?”
“What is it?” He asked, but she knew he didn’t expect an answer.
Her eyes watered and burned from the brilliance of the manifestation, but she couldn’t look away. It was the oddest-looking phenomenon she’d seen in all her years of flying. It was blazing and white, and looked like a crack in not only the gray of the clouds, but in the sky itself. It was almost like God had turned on His light on the other side, and there was tear through the veil that separated His world from ours, allowing us to see its brightness.
Their plane continued toward it and like moths being attracted to a flame, neither Amelia nor Fred thought to change course. By the time it did occur to her that they should probably go around it, it was too late. First, there was panic as the light engulfed them. Then there was nothing…
The next thing Amelia remembered was waking up with a headache in a small room in 2037.
New York Times—A woman found in the ocean on the 100th anniversary of the ill-fated flight of Amelia Earhart and Frederick Noonan claims to be the famous pilot. At the time of her rescue, the woman was wearing aviator clothing, which looks authentic to the clothing the real Ms. Earhart wore on her last flight. Doctors are scrambling to find an explanation for the woman’s knowledge of Earhart’s personal details, life and disappearance. In other related news, a man in another hospital, who was found by a cruise liner near the same site as the aforementioned woman, has recently come out of a coma and is, perhaps coincidentally, calling himself Fred.