“And you’re all done for the day,” the math professor announced.
Immediately, the college students surged from their chairs and hurried out of the classroom as fast as their legs could carry them. However, one particular student took her time, making sure to study the problems on the board thoroughly before packing up her things and leaving.
The girl headed out of the classroom when she almost collided with tall, dark haired, handsome James Charleston.
“Hey Sara,” the boy greeted, flashing his best smile.
Sara smiled back as she shifted her backpack on her back and drew out her phone, “Hey James.”
“Hey Siri,” the girl said into her phone, “Tell mom that I’m on my way home.”
With that, she closed her phone and turned back to James, “What’s up?”
“Oh you know stuff,” James replied. “I didn’t fail to notice that you’re excelling at all your classes.”
Sara smiled, “I don’t know about that but I really enjoy them.”
“Still working towards a degree in medicine?” James inquired.
The girl nodded, “That’s the plan. My parents told me to just try school out for the first two years before deciding on a major. So I’m just taking extra math and science right now alongside singing and art.”
“You should just still with those two,” James observed. “You’re probably the best artist in the whole school and singing wise, it’s a miracle you haven’t been asked to sing in a profession album.”
Sara chuckled, “Okay spit it out James. You don’t usually waste five minutes of your day to compliment a girl.”
James seemed stunned at the girl had guessed that but yet again, Sara was a fast learner and probably the smartest kid in the whole school. She was also incredibly observant and curious which made it hard to hide things from her.
“Yeah I was…. wondering…. if you wanted to grab coffee sometime,” James pointed out.
Sara smirked, “You know I’m not a coffee drinker James. I’m short enough as it is.”
That was the truth. Sara, even though her brain was full and overflowing with knowledge, she wasn’t exactly tall. Barely standing five feet tall, she hadn’t grown since she was fifteen.
“Yeah well,” James remarked. “I was really just asking if you wanted to go out with me.”
The girl turned and looked at the boy a moment before smiling sadly, “Sorry James… I don’t think I’m ready to date anyone right now.”
The boy’s eyebrows ducked down and he huffed, “What is your problem? First you turn down Aiden Baker, then Kenny Smith and now me!”
“What if I don’t want to date anyone?” Sara inquired.
James snorted, “Then how will you get married and have a family?”
Sara smiled and lifted her chin defiantly, “I’ll do what my parents did: meet someone I care about, get to know them and either go through strictly professional courtship or I’ll just know from being good friends with them that they’re the right person.”
“Your parents are weird,” James snorted.
Sara was just about to defend her parents when her best buddy, Cassie, skipped over and wrapped an arm around the shorter girl’s shoulders, “Sara’s parents rock. It’s like stepping into a who different time period! What was it that your dad was really into last year…. wasn’t it the renaissance time period? It was so cool!”
Sara smiled gratefully at her best friend who was, of course taller than her with jet black hair, dark brown skin and an adorable smile.
James rolled his eyes and stormed off leaving the two girls alone. Cassie sighed and released Sara.
“Golly that dude needs to get his head into reality. Did you just say that because it is James we are talking about or did you say no because you seriously don’t want to date right now?” Cassie inquired.
Sara shrugged, “I honestly don’t find guys interesting in that way… I find no one interesting in that way.”
Cassie nodded, “Well maybe it’s because you haven’t found the right one yet.”
Sara smiled and hugged her friend, “Thanks again Cass for standing up for me.”
“Oh don’t mention it,” Cassie said, smirking, “You just make sure the moment you meet a guy who catches your eye, you tell me.”
Sara smiled, “Believe me Cass, you’ll be the first to know.”
After navigating her way through the busy traffic of Pennsylvania, she managed to get home. She noticed that her dad’s car was gone, meaning he and their mom were probably still at work.
Stepping into the house, she dropped her bag off at the door, “I’m home!”
“Sara!” four year old Ryder cried, charging into the room.
His bright red hair bounced on his cute round head as he catapulted into his big sister. Sara smiled as she scooped up the boy. Even though she was seventeen and at least thirteen years older than her baby brother, she and Ryder were probably the closest, not only because they were practically identical in looks but because Ryder was of a more gentle type than the other boys.
“What’s going on?” Sara asked, pulling off her shoes.
“Omar and Axel are watching the Hobbit again,” Ryder admitted. “They keep telling me to go to the bathroom whenever the big white orc comes on but I already know he doesn’t kill Thorin till the third one!”
Sara chuckled and picked her brother up, placing him on her hip. Her parents were huge fans of JRR Tolkien and the moment the lord of the rings and the hobbit came out, they were all over it.
“Again? Didn’t we watch it last week?” Sara asked.
Ryder nodded, “Omar said that since it’s Christmas break, we have to watch them again.”
Sara smiled and carried her little brother into the living room. Sure enough, her three brothers were sitting on the couch watching An Unexpected Journey. it was their favorite scene: Baggend.
Eight year old Omar was jumping on the couch while fourteen year old Axel was bouncing to the beat. 25 year old Pierce was sound asleep on the couch. Sara smiled. The Aldhard family was well known for their bright red hair and piercing blue eyes. Each of the kids were plagued with the unique, right hair and eye colors.
“Sh!” Omar hissed, “Here’s my favorite part.”
Sara smirked when she saw that the scene was when Thorin steps into the hobbit hole. The moment the door opens and he greets Gandalf, the two boys yell in triumph, startling Pierce out of his sleep.
“It’s he so cool!?” Omar cried.
“I wish I was Bilbo,” Ryder said dreamily, leaning against Sara’s shoulder. “Then I would get the meet Thorin and Gandalf and the dwarves and go fight SMoog.”
“You mean Smaug,” Axel corrected.
“Yeah Smoog,” Ryder repeated, earning a chuckle from Pierce and Sara.
Just then, the phone rang and Pierce got up to answer it. Sara sat down in his spot with Ryder on her lap and listened to her three little brothers chatting excitedly about the movie when suddenly she heard a crash.
Axel paused the movie and they all turned around to look at Pierce who had returned to the living room. His face was ashen white, completely shocked and horrified. If Sara had to guess, the crash had been him dropping the mug that their dad always placed in front of the phone. You always had to lift it up to grab the phone and from the look of it, that was what had fallen.
Pierce was listening to the voice on the phone and he looked at his siblings who were watching him expectantly.
When he hung up, he just stood there limply, unable to speak.
“What happened?” Axel asked.
Omar looked over at the calendar, “It’s December Fifteenth…. your girlfriend isn’t coming to visit till next week.”
Pierce shook his head, “There was a shooting…..seventeen people were killed.”
Sara’s eyes widened, “Here? In Pennsylvania?”
Pierce nodded, “At the Christmas party.”
The silence that followed was so dense that the kids could hear the CD in the disk player still spinning.
“Mom and dad were there,” Omar whispered.
Pierce nodded, “The police were the ones on the phone…. mom and dad….were killed on the spot.”
“Sara! My pant legs are wet!” Omar called.
Sara stopped at the stop light and turned to look at her brother. She was driving home from taking the three little boys and their dog, Mason to the park. They had just recently brought Mason into the family. He was a jet black German shepherd puppy and the boys adored him.
“We’ll get dry pants when we get home,” the girl promised.
She turned back around and saw that the light was green. Driving through, she soon had to pull to another stop when an intersection was blocked up from flooding. The police were directing traffic elsewhere but it was going to be a while before they could move.
Sara’s phone buzzed and she flipped it open, seeing that it was from their next-door neighbor who housesat their house on the weekends when Pierce was on business trips and Sara took the kids out.
“Hello Mrs. Alman?” the girl said, brightly.
“hello Sara. I was at your house locking up… when the phone rang.”
“Was it Pierce?” Sara asked. “He hasn’t returned any of my calls or texts today.”
“I know,” the woman said. “It was the hospital.”
Sara furrowed her brow, “What did they need?”
“They wanted to know when you would like Pierce to be brought home.”
Sara sat there, not knowing what was going on. Pierce worked with an engineering company. What did the hospital have to do with his coming home?
“What do you mean?”
There was a pause before the woman spoke, “Sweetie…. Pierce is dead.”
Sara was so glad that she didn’t have her on speaker. The boys were playing with Mason in the back of the car and didn’t notice their sister freeze and go pale.
“The doctor said he has been suffering from brain cancer for a while now. he said that Pierce swore him to secrecy because he didn’t want you to worry. He thought he wasn’t going to go till next week and then he was going to tell you.”
Sara didn’t know what to do so she hung up without saying goodbye and threw her phone onto the seat next to her. She stared ahead and saw that the cop was directing her to the right. She turned the car and drove off, blinded by the tears that were springing up.
“Sara!” Axel called. “Can you hear me? Sara! Mason wont sit still.”
“SARA!” Omar called.
The girl was blinded…. she was in another world… all she could hear was her head drumming…. and Mrs. Almar’s words repeating in her head…. the voices of her brothers and the barks of Mason in the far away distance…. then…. she felt a jolt.
Her eyes flew open and she realized they were no longer on the road. They had rolled off and were heading for a tree! Sara tried to turn the wheel but it wouldn’t budge. She saw the tree nearing and the last thing she heard was her brothers calling her name…. then….. darkness.
Darkness filled Sara’s vision. Her mind stopped thinking, her eyes stopped seeing and her ears stopped hearing…. it all stopped. She felt a gentle feeling rush over her like water flowing underneath her. Then she felt like something was lifting her off the ground and into the sky.
She saw stars appear below her… and above her and beyond, an endless void of stars and galaxies. She heard a gentle voice whispering to her from far off. She couldn’t tell if it was a man or a woman but it kept whispering her name, telling her to wake up, to open her eyes.
Her eyes slowly cracked open and she realized she was lying on a bed. White sheets lay on top of her and a wooden ceiling above her. She didn’t recognize where she was…. and the first thing that popped to her head was the crash. Was this the hospital?
She turned her head and found herself looking into the brown eyes of a young boy. He looked barely eleven years old and was smiling at her from behind a head full of blond hair. The first thing Sara thought was that his parents didn’t think to cut their son’s hair for it almost fell to his shoulders. Then she realized he wasn’t wearing normal clothes…. but rather a brown tunic… a belt and sword? What?
“Hello,” the boy whispered kindly, “You’ve been asleep for a few days. We found you outside the city. You had a really bad cut on your head. I’m Theodred by the way.”
Sara furrowed her brow. Someone named their son after a character from lord of the rings? Cool…. and it was weird that he dressed like he was from lord of the rings too.
Suddenly, a man appeared at the boy’s side. he looked to be about thirty years old and was a perfect older version of the boy. He wore a golden circlet in his hair and he wore similar clothes to the boy.
“I see you’ve met my son,” the man said. “I’m Thengal.”
Okay this is getting weirder.
The girl slowly looked around. What caught her attention the most in the large room were the windows. Unlike normal windows, they were shaped like two horse heads…. wait….
The glanced down at the sheets that lay atop her and saw that the pale green embroidery on the white sheets were unmistakably done entirely by hand…and almost looked Celtic.
“Where…. where am I?” the girl asked, deciding that if things got too much weirder than her brothers must be playing a prank on her.
“Rohan child,” Thengal replied.
Sara sat up, prepared to call the name of her brothers and call their prank. However, it seemed a little too real to be a prank….this place was too realistic…. the bed felt real so it couldn’t be a dream…
“What happened to me?” she asked.
“You were attacked on the road,” Thengal replied. “There were no signs of hoof prints so you must have been walking…. but there were no footprints either…. it was like you just dropped out of the sky. You had a bad wound on your head but it wasn’t from any weapon of our knowledge… but there were also a few cuts on your left shoulder.”
Sara’s hand snaked to her shoulder and lifted her sleeve just enough to see that there were three cuts on her arm. Two of them were deep but not deep enough to need stitches. The other had been stitched up and by the look of it, horse hair had been used to stitch it up. Even though it looked ghastly, it was rather good stitching work.
Her hand reached up and she touched the wounds. They were clean cuts…. then she realized why they looked familiar. When she was little, Pierce had been attempting to make dinner for their parents anniversary but had cut his hand in the process when cutting carrots. Sara had put herself to the task of cleaning the cut and bandaging it….. these looked just like Pierce’s knife cut… but larger, deeper and wider…. she had been cut by a knife and obviously a large one.
‘This is most certainly not a prank,’ Sara thought to herself. ‘It must be a dream.’
“My brothers….” she whispered.
Thengal shook his head, “There was no one with you child. You were alone… except for the pup.”
Just then, the door flew open and Sara felt a small bundle jump onto her and she looked into the staring green eyes of Mason.
“Mason!” The girl cried, reaching over to hug the puppy.
Thengal smiled warmly as the young dog lapped at his owner’s face. Theoden was grinning from ear to ear.
“Apparently he knows you,” Thengal said smiling.
Mason sat back down on Sara’s lap and looked up at her. The girl ran her fingers through his thick black fur…. yep, most certainly not a dream…. but if this wasn’t a dream and wasn’t a prank… then what was it?
“What…. what year is this?” the girl inquired.
“The year 2941,” Thengal replied. “April 20th.”
Sara groaned and rubbed her head. Wait…. why did that date sound familiar???? wasn’t that when the hobbit was…. but then….what day did it…. April 27th…..holy noodles!
Sara shot up to a sitting position and cringed when the wounds on her head and her arm stung at the movement.
Okay, this wasn’t a dream…. she was in middle earth!