Drake walked among the memory of the ashes of what was once his house, his home. He lost his whole family in the fire. The cause of the fire was unknown. Investigators called it the "Mysterious Fire of New Orleans". Today was the the fifth time Drake visited the remains. Even after repairs, he still came at least once a year to pay his respects to those who were gone. He mourned the loss and there was never a time when he left without tears in his eyes. He cried, not for those who died, but for himself. Drake was now all alone, without friends or family to guide him through the rest of his life.
Those people were the only people Drake ever knew, and now he was lost. "What do I do now?" He thought to himself. Drake was drowned in a heat wave of emotions. This place was a reminder to him of what he wanted to be: a firefighter. No more lives should be lost to a fire. He was going to save lives. This day was an inspiration to Drake. Instead of tears, there was a great smile upon his face. At the end of the day, Drake walked over to his new apartment with his head up, with self-confidence. The next day he had an interview to get his new job as a firefighter, so he went to bed early.
"You are hired." Were the only words that stuck in Drake's mind. He was overflowing with excitement. While he took the bus back to his apartment, Drake noticed odd looks from everyone around him. He finally got to his apartment, jumping for joy. His apartment was small, with only one small bedroom, bathroom, and kitchen. He lived alone on the second floor. But in that moment, the size of the apartment did not matter to him. The only thing on his mind was his new job. He's hummed nostalgic songs with an optimistic tone. There was a one-man party going on in his head. He went to the bathroom to clean up after a long day of self-celebration. When he looked up in the mirror, he did not believe what he saw in the reflection. A man, well-dressed, with composure. The only thing wrong was his hair. It was literally on fire.
Drake was now freaking out. He ran all around his apartment looking for something to put out the fire on head. He quickly found a fire extinguisher in the back corner of his kitchen. Drake was frantically struggling to get a grip on the handle. He pulled out the safety pin, then pointed it at himself. After that, everything was a blur. Drake was on the floor, lying unconscious.
Serena sat at the dining room table with her sister, Katrina, who was less than a year younger than her. It was early in the morning for them, even for a school day. They usually ate breakfast together every day, before they left for school. Katrina's eyes were focused on her laptop screen. Serena heard the quick and light tapping of her fingers on the keyboard. Katrina looked up from the screen with a sigh,"Hey, Serena, can you believe they're still talking about this thing? This fire happened ages ago. Why don't they just leave this thing alone?"
Serena ignored her and walks to the kitchen sink to fill a glass of water.
"Serena, what's wrong?"
Serena returned to the table with a full glass of water.
She is unresponsive. Katrina attempted to get her attention, but Serena's mind was stuck on the glass of water.
"Serena?" Katrina closed her laptop and waved her hand in front of her face.
"What do you want?" Serena gave a monotonous reply.
"You left the water running." Katrina got up to turn off the faucet. "Come on Serena, we have school today. You don't want to be late. Besides, it's our first day in high school!"
"Oh, yeah we should be leaving soon." She showed no interest or enthusiasm.
At school, Serena couldn't take her mind off the glass of water from this morning. She sat in the back of the classroom. She didn't pay much attention to the lessons. She wished this school had a pool. Serena remembered herself at the nearby public pool swimming in the water of the facility. She felt so calm, so relaxed…
"Serena," the teacher grabbed her attention, "class is over. Didn't you hear the bell ring?"
"Oh, I'm sorry." Serena began to pack up her things to leave. As she cleared her desk, she noticed a glass full of water. It appeared to be the same one from this morning.
Before she left, Serena grabs the glass, walked up to her teacher and asked, "Do you know whose this is? I found it on my desk and it's not mine."
"Of course it's yours," said the teacher with a warm and gentle smile, "Why else would it be on your desk?"
Serena walked away puzzled. She wondered who put that glass of water on her desk. But the thought left her mind as she saw a glimpse of a giant pool of water outside. She looked back at the glass, now empty.
Serena ran outside toward the pool. There was no one else around. She was amazed at the sight of it. A private pool, just for her, was waiting outside. Serena took off her shoes and dipped her feet in the water. She was swimming in the pool that was supposedly nonexistent.
Bare feet walked along a forest trail. Luke was taking a hiking trip with his father. It was Luke's decision on where to go for summer break, so he chose the mountains of Colorado. Luke felt the dirt snuggling up between his toes. He loved going on trails. To Luke, this was his home. His focus was on the world below him. Luke saw a worm pop out of the ground. He was intrigued. Luke got down on his hands and knees. The worm was creeping between his toes while Luke watched. Then, the worm disappeared as quickly as it appeared. Luke started digging with his hands, following the worm. The feeling of the earth in his hands made him want to keep digging. After half an hour, Luke wasn't following the worm anymore. He was only digging for the fun of it. He found a lot of neat stuff underground.
Luke heard his father's voice above him. He stopped digging and started to climb back out of his hole. His father was waiting for him.
"What are you doing Luke?" he asks.
Luke stands up, "I was digging a hole."
Luke looked down at the ground at where the hole was and didn't see anything. There was no hole. He looked at himself. He found no trace of dirt on himself. Was it his imagination?
His father was annoyed, "You were staring at the ground for half an hour. Luke, if you plan on digging a hole, at least put your shoes on."
"Never! I will not put on my shoes!" Luke retorted.
"Okay, fine with me. Now let's go back home, I'm tired and I'm getting sick of this place."
Luke and his father went to the airport to catch a flight back to New Orleans. As they waited for their flight at the airport, Luke saw a man mumbling to himself about airplanes. Luke turned to his father. "Do you see that man over there? That guy is creeping me out."
Luke's father takes a short glance. "Don't worry about it, Luke."
"But Dad, he could be a terrorist or something. He might be planning something."
"Just ignore him. He couldn't be that much trouble anyway."
Luke and his father boarded the plane. They took their seats. The same man from earlier came aboard on the plane and took the window seat next to them. Now both Luke and his father were both getting nervous.
"Hi," says the man in a friendly tone, "This seems like it's going to be a long flight."
"It sure does," Luke's father replies, his face growing pale.
"My name's Lenny, how about yours?"
There was no response from either Luke or his father. It was obvious there was tension in the air, almost tangible.
Lenny looked at the two passengers next to him. It was clear they were not willing to speak to him. The young boy and his father. That didn't matter to him. He looked out through his window seat. The plane was moving. This was Lenny's favorite part of every flight. The plane began its takeoff, and Lenny was all smiles. He was so excited, like a little boy on his first flight. His two neighboring passengers stared at him the entire flight. He could feel their eyes piercing through the back of his skull. Lenny turned his head away from the window and saw that the boy was looking down nervously at his feet. Lenny also looked down at his own feet and compared it with the boys. The boy wasn't wearing shoes.
"Why aren't you wearing shoes?" Lenny asked the boy. The boy's eyes looked up from his feet and toward Lenny,"I never wear shoes. It's a custom of mine. Without my shoes, I feel so much more comfortable knowing what's underneath me."
"Intriguing," Lenny pondered the thought, "So why are you so nervous right now?"
He was quick to reply,"Because there is nothing underneath me. I get scared every time I get into an airplane, because I'm scared of heights."
"But rising to the top is such an amazing feeling amazing feeling! There is no topping that. Airplanes are amazing! They take you places far beyond human reach. And the view below is amazing!" Lenny moved away from the window to let the boy look through. The expression on his face worsened and Lenny could tell he is terrified. Lenny turned him away from the window. "Okay, so you're afraid of heights. I can understand that. Don't worry about it, kid. We are going to have a safe landing. I know it." That seemed to ease the boy's stress. "So, you never told me your name."
"The name's Luke."
"Okay, Luke, nice to meet you. Do you remember where this flight is headed?"
"You don't know where we're going?"
Lenny looked down, embarrassed, "Um, yeah. Honestly, I never care about where I'm going. I just know that it's going to be alright."
Luke somehow felt reassured by his words. His words felt heartwarming.
"I know. I have a way with words." Lenny smiled.
"You sure do. If you don't know where you're going, I might as well tell you. We're on our way to New Orleans."
Lenny, Luke and his father all stopped at the New Orleans airport. It was a large airport, with plenty of room, yet the airport was virtually empty. Almost no security guards. Only a few other people came off the plane.
Luke ran around, "Thank god we are on the ground," Luke stretched his toes. "This place is big, but there's nobody here." He turned to his father. "How are we even supposed to find the exit?"
"Don't worry about it Luke. I'll take care of this. We can just ask some of the staff."
"What staff? This place is deserted. We might as well be in the Sahara."
"You're right. We should probably just—"
"Wow! Look at all this space!" Lenny interrupts. He's dancing all over the empty airport. "It's amazing what you can do with it!"
Luke and his father ignore him. Luke reached into his bag and pulled out a black lizard.
"I found him on the trail. Can I keep him?"
"How did you get that past security?" Luke's father was stunned. "Pets aren't allowed on the plane. And the last airport runs tight on security."
"I don't know. He kinda followed me here. He was on the plane when I saw him and I recognized him instantly."
"What do you mean you recognized him. And how do you know it's the same lizard?"
"How can you not? This is a black chameleon, and if I'm not mistaken, chameleons are supposed to be green."
"But you don't find chameleons in Colorado. So this can't be a normal chameleon."
Luke and his father both spared a moment to stare at it.
The chameleon turned it's head and whispered, "Boo!"
"Whoa! Did the chameleon just talk?" Luke exclaimed, his father also surprised.
Luke and his father watched as the chameleon gradually changed into a more human form. There was a young man with pitch-black hair, with eyes as dark as a black hole.
"Hello Luke, nice to formally introduce myself. I am Theodore, but you can call me Teddy."
Luke is amazed. "That is so cool! How did you do that?"
Teddy smiled as he briefly replies, " I have some special talents."
"That must be your father," Teddy gestured to the petrified body sitting on the floor, rocking back and forth.
"Yeah that's him."
"And I'm assuming that dancing fool is Lenny." He points to Lenny, who is riding up and down a pair of escalators.
"Yes that's him. Wait, how did you know that?" He asked Teddy.
"I was in your bag for half of the flight. It's hard to breathe in there by the way."
"Oh yeah. Sorry for that."
"No need to apologize. You're looking for the exit, right? I can find it for you. Now go get your father and the other idiot. Just follow me."
Luke went to his father who was sitting in a fetal position on the floor. "Please don't hurt me…"
"Dad! Get up, you're making a fool of yourself. We're getting out of here." Luke paused as his father slowly got up, then turned to Lenny. "Hey Lenny! Get over here! Teddy's gonna get us out of here!"