We were suddenly falling. Slowly. The building was gone, the monitor, the walls, the floor. They were all gone. My eyes began to hurt. My throat, my lungs began to burn. I had trouble breathing. What had Freyja done to us? What had she done to the world.
Suddenly, a metallic hand shot toward my face. Falling, gasping for air, I couldn’t dodge it. It grabbed me. I tried to fight it, but all I could do was hold on. Then the hand began to grow, larger and larger, until it was covering my whole face. I almost started to panic when I realized I could breath again. Air! The hand was providing me air! The hand had transformed into a mask and it was providing me air! My lungs were still hurting, but the new air was pure, breathable.
As I was enjoying being able to breath again, I felt the ground slowly rise to meet me. There was little impact, but since I still couldn’t see I fell to the ground, the hard, rocky ground. Then I could see again. A window appeared in my mask. I took in the view. I appeared to be seated on the ground in the middle of a vast desert or maybe a quarry. There was a metallic tube connected to my face mask. My eyes followed it and found it was connected to other tubes and those other tubes led to people.
Jamal, I recognized first. Even underneath that mask and with my eyes still hurting, it wasn’t hard to identify him. There weren’t many Hawaiian shirt wearing dinosaurs walking around. Next to him was Mathilda. She had her arms wrapped around him, holding him tight, almost protectively. That made the last person Jen. Realizing that, I was then able to deduce that it had been ALAN who hadsaved us, transforming himself into a multiperson rebreather. I took in where we were, the desolate area, the reddish tinted sky, the small moon moving quickly through the sky. We were still on Mars.
“Hello?” I was surprised to hear Jennifer’s voice in my ear, though it had to be the easiest thing for ALAN to do, allowing us to speak to each other.
“You ok?” I replied, moving toward her.
“What the hell just happened?” she asked. “Did Freyja destroy the whole planet? Is this all that’s left?”
I felt fairly certain replying, “No. This isn’t what Mars would look like after the Surtr strike. Tilly did it. She saved us. She was able to create a time portal and send us back in the past. The only question is… how far back did she send us?”
“What do you mean how far?” Doc asked, trying not to sound frightened. “Do you think we went all the back to prehistory?”
“No!” Jamal insisted. “My daughter said she was going to send us back to our time, so she sent us back to our time!”
“Ok,” I said calmly. Even ignoring the fact that he was now a carnivorous dinosaur, I didn’t want to agitate him. We needed level heads if we wanted to survive. “Let’s assume she did. Let’s assume that Tilly did what she said she wanted to do, that the unstable quantum energy didn’t cause any trouble, let’s assumed that we made it back to our own time. I have to ask you…is that really a good thing? We have no food, no water, the only way we can breath is with ALAN’s help, and there are no ships coming to save us.”
“Can we travel again?” Doc asked.
“No,” Tilly held up the Stabilizer. “We don’t have the juice.”
“So…we’re stuck here?”