“I don’t understand. How can there be two of you?” I asked, still stunned.
“Ok, to you and me, that’s past Hazel,” Hazel said, pointing at past Hazel, “to her, I’m future Hazel and you are present Johnny.” Hazel said.
“But, how come I’m not future Johnny?” I asked.
“Well, to her, the event where everyone disappeared thing happened about 2 years ago. Here is what you did. You went back into the past and saw my past selves. You are still in my past, just I’m with you this time. If you keep going, you would eventually meet me at the point where I met you for the first time. What I did was I followed you into the past and pretended to be the Commander so I could find you. We jumped further into the past and now we are here. Make sense?” Hazel asked me. I scratched my head and gave her a confused/understanding look.
“Why does time travel have to be so complicated?” Past Hazel said.
“Well, that’s why ‘Doctor Who’ was invented.” Hazel answered, turning back to past Hazel.
“Yeah, because everyone likes to learn about time travel when someone explains it as ‘Wibbly Wobbly Timey Wimey’.” Past Hazel remarked.
“True.” Hazel said. They stared at each other. I could only imagine what was going on in past Hazel’s head.
“What now? I thought we were going to find my family here.” I said. Past Hazel looked at me.
“Do you have a sister with long abrun-ish hair and freckles?” Past Hazel asked me.
“Yes!” I said. Past Hazel chuckled and sighed.
“I know where she is.” She turned to Hazel, “Remember?” She asked her.
“Yeah. I remember.” Hazel answered. Past Hazel stepped closer to Hazel.
“How do I know you’re not a demon in disguise?” Past Hazel asked, “I’m sure they can do that.”
“Because, I know what you’re about to do.” Hazel said. Past Hazel ran forwards. Hazel ducked as past Hazel threw a punch. Hazel, still crouched, lunged at past Hazel’s waist. Past Hazel was knocked down and Hazel stood up. Hazel pulled a large wooden staff out of her cloak and spun it around skillfully. It went behind her back and then above her head. Hazel landed the staff’s point on past Hazel’s chest. Past Hazel grabbed the point of the stick and used it to pull herself up. Past Hazel pulled the same staff out of her cloak. I could tell this one was freshly made. Hazel smiled and then ran for a tree. I stood there, still processing that there were two Hazel’s and that now they were fighting. Past Hazel ran after Hazel. Hazel ran up the side of a tree, propelling herself off of the side into a massive backflip. Hazel landed behind past Hazel. Back to back, they fought using their staffs. Hazel stuck her staff in the ground and used it to spin herself around with a flying kick. Past Hazel was almost mirroring Hazel, except past Hazel was a little bit behind, which made sense. I mean, Hazel was older and more skilled than past Hazel, so of course she would be a little bit behind. Their feet bounced off of each others. Hazel landed and so did past Hazel. Past Hazel was breathing furiously but Hazel had no trouble breathing. Past Hazel grunted furiously and lunged at Hazel with her staff. Hazel blocked all of past Hazel’s moves, while muttering to herself. Her mumbling became louder and I could hear what she was saying.
“Back, front, side, left, top, right, bottom, twist and top…” Hazel said. She was predicting past Hazel’s moves by memory. Now that! That is awesome! I thought.
“Left, kick, right, top swing, kick, jump, left block, bottom hit, jump…” Hazel said louder. Past Hazel was catching on. I could see that she was trying to different moves but Hazel was blocking and saying each one. I could tell she was getting frustrated. Past Hazel threw a punch then a kick.
“And….surprise punch with left footed kick and a right handed swing of the staff.” Hazel said, blocking all three moves. Their staffs conjoined and made a huge crack. Past Hazel stopped and so did Hazel.
“All right, you’re definitely me. No one could be that awesome.” Past Hazel said, smiling. Both Hazel’s put their staffs back in their cloaks and shook hands.
“Why are we shaking hands?” Past Hazel asked.
“I have absolutely no idea. It’s something future Hazel did to me.” Hazel said chuckling, “She said that too. You need to work on your knee sweep. It’s a little choppy.” Hazel said.
“Well, I would but my knee feels so off.” Past Hazel answered, doing a knee sweep and showing Hazel.
“Well, you need to make sure your knee is sweeping to the left instead of the right.” Hazel said, showing past Hazel.
“Really? I can do that? But it doesn’t crack or anything?” Past Hazel asked.
“No, it just takes practice.” Hazel answered.
“Glad you two are getting along but where is my sister?” I asked, walking over to them.
“Oh! Your sister! Yeah! Follow me!” Past Hazel said. She ran into the woods. Hazel and I followed.
“So. She’s different.” I said to Hazel.
“Yeah?” Hazel asked me.
“I don’t know. She’s just. I don’t know….” I answered.
“She was afraid….. This was the day I lost most of my fear.” Hazel said. I stared at her. Wow. Past Hazel isn’t just younger, she’s human. I followed past Hazel and Hazel deeper into the woods.
Two Hazel’s in front of me. Their cloaks were swaying in sync as they walked. Past Hazel was humming some song. Hazel was chuckling to herself.
“We’re almost here.” Past Hazel said, seeing my impatient face. We approached a small tunnel. It was built into the side of a large tree, so that it was well hidden. Past Hazel got down on her knees and slid into the tunnel. Hazel followed. Just as she was about to go down, I stopped her.
“What’s down there?” I asked her. She smiled.
“What? You thought I lived in a tree all these years?” She asked me. I shrugged and she slid down. I took one more glance around the forest and then slid down the tunnel into the unknown. I couldn’t see anything. It was pitch black. I just yelled as I slid down the tunnel. It was like that ride at disney world called Space Mountain. You can never see where you are going and twists and turns were everywhere. It was awesome. I felt myself sliding down wards and I knew this joy ride was coming to an end. I saw a small light at the end of the tunnel (no, not that kind of light!). I shot out into the open. I landed painfully on my back. I quickly got up and looked around. There was one chair and one small wooden table. Small lanterns were hung around the cave walls. A small cabinet that had been carved from an oak tree, was in a corner. Past Hazel’s room, had been carved from the stone surrounding the cave walls. In the room, there was a makeshift bed, created with one pillow and 2 wool blankets. The bed was supported by a hand carved, wooden bed stand. There was a wooden desk next to the bed with a single book on it. One oil lantern lit the room. Other rooms, recently made (I could tell), were opposite of past Hazel’s room.
“Huh, I guess you don’t live in a tree.” I told Hazel.
“Aw, come on! That’s just plain rude! Of course I live somewhere other than a tree. Who do you think I am, Owl from Winnie the Pooh?” Hazel said.
“Well, you didn’t have to go all medieval while decorating the place.” I said.
“It is my house. You can decorate yours the way you want and I’ll decorate mine the way I want.” Hazel retorted. In one of the rooms nearest to me, I could see two more beds. I was about to go in but Hazel stopped me. She shook her head ‘no’ and had me step back. Past Hazel gave her a questioned look. Hazel shook her head again and past Hazel stepped back. Standing in the middle of the doorway Hazel breathed in deeply. I could tell, she was replaying a memory. Quickly, she sidestepped in the room. A black blot was about to come down on her head, but Hazel knew this was coming. She grabbed it and yanked it away, as she stepped back. A tall being fell to the ground grunting in pain. It was my older bro Mike!
“Ok, now you can come in.” Hazel said, tossing me the black blot that was a frying pan. I ran into the room and helped him up. He stood up and looked at me.
“JOHNNY!” He yelled, giving me a big hug, “What the heck is going on.” He asked me.
“Ehhh. I’ll explain later.” I answered, “Is Annie here?” I asked him. He pointed to a stone doorway in the room. I could see Annie peeking around the corner of the stone doorway. I smiled and slightly waved. She smiled and came out, running to me.
“Holy Heck! This has been the weirdest day of my life!” Annie said. She gave me a quick hug and then looked at Hazel.
“Who’s that?” She asked me.
“Her name is Hazel. She’s been helping me find you.” I answered.
“And who is that?” She asked me, pointing at past Hazel. I stared at past Hazel. What now? Do I really want to get into the conversation of time travel again? Probably not the right time.
“That’s Hazel’s younger twin sister named…..uh…. Naunet.” Well, it was half true.
“Oh.” Annie said, “where’s Mom and Dad?” She asked me.
“I have no idea, we’re going to find them next.” I said, looking at past Hazel, “Where did you find them?” I asked her. She sighed and walked into the main room. She went to the cabinet and pulled out a stone pot.
“Everyone. I need to you to close your eyes.” Past Hazel announced. Mike and Annie were about to protest but I gave them ‘the look’.
“Just…..Just trust her.” I told them. I closed my eyes and hoped everyone did the same.
“All right you can open them.” Past Hazel said. I opened my eyes quickly and saw that a fire had been made on a nearby stove. The fire wasn’t there before. Neither was that stove! Something weird’s going on here. Past Hazel had boiling water in no time. When the water was fully boiled, she took it to the cabinet and filled up 5 mugs. She handed them out to each of us and then stood in a nearby corner. I looked in my mug. All that was there, was hot water and one lemon slice. I gave Hazel a questioned look. She leaned over and whispered in my ear.
“Since I was in the forest so long, I forgot the taste of Coke. So, I created lemon water. The lemon water is supposed to relax you and the steam is supposed to make your lungs clear. It was all I drank. Plus, it made me healthier mentally and physically.” Hazel whispered, “Don’t drink it.” She added before standing up straight and walking over to past Hazel. Mike and Annie carefully took sips of the hot lemon water.
“I found them unconscious in the middle of the woods. So, like a normal person, I brought them here. That was at least 3 days ago. It was only this morning, when you guys got here, that they woke.” Past Hazel said.
“So Hazel. Where’s that thing that we need to find Mom and Dad?” I asked her.
“It’s by a lake. We need to find that lake.” She turned to past Hazel, “Where’s the lake?” She asked her.
“What lake?” Past Hazel asked her, stunned.
“You know…. the lake.” Hazel said, nudging her.
“Oh. That lake.” Past Hazel said, “It’s only like 12 minutes away. Just go straight until you hit a giant rock. Then go to the left and stay straight, you’ll reach the lake soon after that.” Past Hazel said.
“You’re talking like you’re not going with us.” I said.
“She’s not. Just you and me.” Hazel said.
“Whoa, whoa, whoa! We’re coming too.” Mike said, as he and Annie walked towards me.
“No. You have to stay here with pas–uh—Naunet. We’ll be back in 12 minutes.” I told them.
“Look, Johnny. I love you bro, but we’re coming with you.” Mike said.
“No you’re not. Just 12 minutes ok?” I told them.
“Look bro, I know what’s going on here. She’s a beautiful, hooded girl who helped you find us. I get it, you want some alone time, but this is Mom and Dad we’re talking about.” Mike said, putting his hand on my shoulder.
“What? NO! Eww, dude that is gross! Seriously! Hazel and I need to go.” I told him, turning around.
“Johnny, you can’t go withou—-.” I felt his grip loosen on my shoulder as his hand fell. I heard a huge thump and spun around quickly to see Mike on the floor asleep. Annie was the same way.
“Uh. What was in that lemon water?” I asked both Hazel’s. I turned back around and looked at them. They shrugged.
“Nuthin.” They said in sync.
“Well, just make sure they don’t die.” I told past Hazel as I headed towards the tunnel. I stopped.
“Do we have to climb up this thing?” I asked.
“Nah. You can use the staircase.” Past Hazel said, pointing to a hidden staircase in her room. I walked in there and was about to climb the staircase, when I noticed the single book on her desk.
“What book is that?” I asked Hazel, who was right behind me. She sighed.
“A very special book. The most powerful book in all creation.” She said, “The original book of creation.” She said as she walked over to it and placed her hand on the cover. Her eyes began to shine with bright light. She chuckled. She let her hand slide off of the cover and back to her side. She looked at me. I smiled.
“What?” She asked me.
“Your eyes are glowing.” I answered.
“So?” She asked me again. I sighed.
“Never mind.” I said, “Let’s go to the lake.”
WOOHOOOO! FINALLY! *GIVES HUGE SIGH* Now we’re getting somewhere. See you soon….. or will I?