The prom took place a few weeks later. Martha arrived wearing a teal dress.
“Love the dress,” Larry said.
“Thanks,” Martha said. “There’s something I want to ask you. Why did you come to our school one month before graduation?”
“What are you talking about? I came to this school when I was in grade 10.”
“How come I’ve never noticed you before?”
“I used to be the invisible kid. But then I hit the gym, and I gained some confidence.”
“Oh! That makes sense. Have you’ve noticed me around?”
“Yes. I wanted to ask you out a few times, but I was too nervous.”
Martha gave Larry an innocent kiss on the lips.
Meanwhile, Monica sat at a table by herself. That is until Emily joined her.
“What’s the matter?” Emily asked.
“It’s Martha,” Monica said. “I get into trouble because of her all the time and I’m sick of it.”
“Quit being so emo.”
“It’s something that will be popular in the 2000’s. Never mind. The point is, you’re living in your sister’s shadow. If you stop that, she won’t get you into any trouble.”
“Maybe you’re right.”
“Of course I’m right. Come on, let’s dance.”.
The graduation ceremony took place one week later. Martha was valedictorian.
“I have very few close friends in high school,” Martha said to everybody in the auditorium. “We’re all going on different paths in life. As for the rest of my class, I barely know ya.”
The crowd chuckled.
“Whether we were close or not, graduating high school is bittersweet, because we’re all going in different directions,” Martha said. “Some of us know where we’re going, and some of us don’t. But we have nothing to fear. Life never takes you where you expect it to go, but it will take you somewhere better. Thank you, class of 1993.”
The crowd cheered.
After Martha’s speech, the class of 1993 received their diplomas, one-by-one. After the ceremony, the class said their tearful goodbyes.
One year later, Martha got pregnant with Larry’s first child. As a result, they landed multiple jobs each and they looked for a house.
Monica shared a two-bedroom apartment with Emily.
Martha and Monica got their lives together. But eventually, their lives would be turned upside down.
One evening, Monica has coffee with Emily.
“When was the last time you’ve been on a date?” Emily asked.
“I don’t know,” Monica said. “Why?”
“I know a guy you might like?”
“Why not? He’s no Brad Pitt. But he is cute, nice, and funny.”
“I don’t want to hook up with anybody.”
“Why? Are you gay?”
“What? No! I’m happy being single. The only thing I don’t like about it is everybody pressuring me to be with somebody.”
“How about he hangs out with us sometime and let’s see where things go?”
“Fine then. But why do you want me to hook up someone so badly.”
“Honestly, it’s because you’re always tense. You really need to get laid.”
Monica rolled her eyes.
“Whatever,” Monica said.
A few days later, Monica and Emily hung out in a restaurant in Downtown St. John’s.
“So, where is this guy?” Monica asked.
A man with short orange hair met with Monica and Emily.
“Monica, this is John,” Emily said. “John, this is Monica.”
“Hey,” Monica said.
“Hey,” John said.
Monica and John didn’t say much to each other at first. In fact, Emily did most of the talking. But eventually, John and Monica ended up having a real conversation.
“You like science fiction,” Monica said. “Let me guess, you like Star Trek.”
“No, not really,” John said. “I used watch Doctor Who when it was on TV.”
“So did I! Who’s your favorite doctor?”
“I liked the second.”
“I really miss that show.”
“Same. Maybe it will come on TV again, some day.”
“Yeah, in 2005, maybe. Although I heard it will be made into a TV movie in 2 years.”
“I hope that’s true.”
John and Monica were so into their conversation, they forgot Emily was there.
“Where’s Emily?” Monica asked.
“You call?” Emily asked as she seemingly appeared out nowhere.
“Where did you come from?” Monica asked.
“I was here the whole time,” Emily said.
“This is like a moment from a bad rom-com,” John said.
“So, that’s like 90% of rom-coms,” Monica said.
John and Monica went on a few more dates. Eventually, John invited Monica over to his apartment.
The moment John opened the door to his apartment, the first thing Monica noticed was a giant bookshelf.
“I see you like to read,” Monica said.
“Yeah, I do,” John said.
“Mind if I take a look?”
Monica looked through John’s bookshelf. There was nothing interesting that grabbed Monica’s attention, except this one book: ‘History of Planet Oberon.’
Monica held up the book in front of her.
“Where did you get this book?” Monica asked.
“My grandfather wrote it,” John said.
“Mind if I take it home to read it?”
As soon as Monica went home, she sat down on the couch and she read the book immediately. But Monica returned the book a few nights later.
“Interesting book,” Monica said. “Very entertaining.”
“Thanks,” John said. “What did you like the most about it?”
“Good question. I guess I like how your grandfather wrote it like a history book. I also liked the idea of how another planet is divided into different countries, just like Earth. You normally don’t see that in science fiction.”
“Yeah. My grandfather had an active imagination.”
“It’s funny. When I was a kid, I’ve convinced myself that my sister and I were from a planet called Oberon. I guess I must have seen this book somewhere and that’s where I can up with the idea.”
“What else did you used to say?”
“About Oberon? Not much. I used to tell people my sister and I were from there and we came to Earth through a plot hole. I also told people the grass was pink. I had one active imagination.”
John laughed nervously.
“Will you excuse me?” John asked. “I got to make a call. You can watch TV in the meantime.”
John went to his room while Monica flipped through the channels. But she overheard John talking. Monica muted the TV and she listened closely to what John was saying over the phone.
“Y’ ave geon uni o’ zea gemis,” John said.
Monica couldn’t tell what language John spoke. It almost sounded like French or Spanish, but it was neither.
“Ye dems meh da varle zir” Monica heard John say. “Okay.”
John then came out of his room.
“Monica, there’s something I have to tell you,” John said. “You should sit down.”
“Uh, I’m already sitting down,” Monica said.
“Okay. Good. I’m just going come out and say it. Oberon is a real place. You, your sister, and I are from there.”
“Yeah. Okay. Did my sister or Emily put you up to this? Emily always loved playing pranks.”
“No. You, your sister, and I are from Oberon.”
Monica just sat down in silence, trying to process the information.
“I don’t believe it,” Monica said. “I was right all along.”
“Are you okay?”
“Yeah. I guess.”
“Good, because we need your help. We’re looking for a machine called a reality engine. It’s a machine that people can use to manipulate time and you can see into multiple timelines. It may have other functions as well. Centuries ago, scientists from the country of Kratos (one of the countries on Oberon), invented a reality engine. But the Libertas government tried to take it from us. They even wanted our oil as well. To prevent war, the governments from both countries sent their best MMA fighters to compete in a tournament and Libertas won. As a result, they took our reality engine and our oil. According to our Intel, the reality engine is located on Earth. Will you help us find it?”
“I can finally get back at my sister. Yes. I will help you look for this reality engine.”
Meanwhile, Larry and Martha were looking at a house.
“Hi, I’m Angel,” the real estate agent said. “You two must be Larry and Martha. Let’s take a look inside the house.”
The outside of the house had new siding. There was also a beautiful garden in the back of the house that was filled with a variety of flowers.
“What do you think of the place?” Angel said.
“It looks nice,” Larry said. “But we don’t need three bedrooms. We only need two.”
“Hang on, Larry,” Martha said. “What if we have another kid some day?”
“Even if that’s the case, can we afford this place?”
“Actually, the house is not that expensive,” Angel said as she handed Larry and Martha a sheet of paper.
“Is that cost of the house or your phone number?” Larry asked.
“ That’s actually my phone number. If you think this house is expensive now, imagine what the housing market will be like by the year 2017.”
Larry’s rumbling stomach interrupted the conversation.
“I’ll be back in a few minutes,” Larry said.
Larry ran to the bathroom as fast as he could.
“I would like to show you something,” Angel said as she opened a door by the staircase.
“Why haven’t I notice this door before?” Martha asked.
“It’s because of a perception filter.”
Angel opened the door to show a small room with a control panel and two screens: a big one and a smaller one. She then went inside and pushed a few buttons on the control panel.
“There, I stopped time,” Angel said. “That will give us more time to talk…ironically.”
“What’s going on?” Martha asked.
“Martha, I’m from a planet called Oberon. So are you and your sister.”
“Yeah, okay. Excuse me a minute.”
Martha stepped outside and she saw a teenage girl with bangs covering the upper-half of her face, walking down the street. Martha also saw cars driving by, and birds in the air. But the girl, the car, and the birds were all frozen in place.
“What’s on the go?” Martha asked.
“I told you, I stopped time,” Angel said.
Martha ran back inside the house.
“Is this a time machine?” Martha asked, pointing to the room with the control panel.
“It’s called a reality engine,” Angel said.
Angel then explained to Martha about the reality engine. Angel also told Martha that Oberon has different countries, just like Earth. According to Angel, Martha and Monica were born in Libertas.
“Thanks to a plot hole, the Libertas government finally found you and your sister,” Angel said. “I’ve been in charge of safekeeping this reality engine for many years. But our government re-assigned me to another position. I want you to keep the reality engine safe.”
“How am I supposed to do that?”
“Just don’t let anybody know about this machine. Not even your family.”
“What if I refuse?”
“I can’t make you do something you don’t want to do. But if you agree to it, you can use this machine to make sure your kids have bright futures.”
“Did you say ‘kids’, as in plural?”
“I said too much. Anyway, will you do it?”
Martha looked around the living room.
“I think the living room would look nice if I paint it teal,” Martha said.
“Will keep the reality engine safe?” Angel asked.
“Yes. But how am I going to convince Larry we should buy this house?”
“I have no idea. But you better think of something.”
“Okay. Just one question, why is it called a reality engine?”
“When you change history, you change reality.”
“So, aren’t all time machines reality engines?”
“No. I’ll explain later.”
Angel went back inside the control room and she showed Martha how to use the reality engine.
“Those look like buttons on a DVD player,” Martha said.
“Exactly,” Angel said. “Just like a DVD, you can slow down time, rewind it,fast forward it and pause it. You see those lines on the small screen? Those are the different timelines.”
Angel spent the next half-an-hour explaining to Martha how to use the reality engine. Then again, time was frozen. Angel then unfroze time.
Angel and Martha quickly went outside of the reality engine control room and they closed the door before Larry noticed.
“Larry, I think we should buy this house,” Martha said.
“But we can’t afford it,” Larry said.
“We both work two jobs each,” Martha said. “We can afford it.”
“But you’re pregnant. So you’ll go on maternity leave soon. That won’t be enough. You don’t even make enough money from your current jobs.
“Larry, do you trust me?”
“Yes, of course.”
“Then let me worry about all of that.”
“Fine. We’ll take this house.”