We have defeated our first obstacle however our hands and feet are still firmly bound by metal straps.
“They might send another one in.” Rosie says.
“Do the same thing.”
“I only had one bobby pin.” She says, annoyed.
“Why’d you throw it on the ground then?” I say.
“I didn’t want it to be able to reach its button.” She says.
“It can’t. It’s dead.”
“Well I didn’t know that, did I? Chickens still run around without their heads. It could have been like that.”
At that moment, a guy we don’t know runs into the black walled room we are in, and starts unbuckling our hands and feet.
“Who are you?” I demand to know.
“You know my son, Volt. He sent me here to help you.” Volt’s dad says.
“How old are you?” I ask him.
“I’m fifty.” He says, although he looks much younger because he has come back in time, from his time.
“How can you help us? What do you mean Volt sent you?”
“He told me a few of his friends were being held against their will in a lab in 2026. I’m a scientist. The guy who’s keeping you here is my dad.”
“When I was eighteen I was not aware of everything he was doing. I saw you and your girlfriend strapped to these beds and dad just said you guys were trialling Gyliptin for him. I had no idea he was keeping you here indefinitely.”
“So you came back to help us escape?” I ask.
“How long have we been here for?” I ask him, petrified.
“A year.” He breathes, all of our straps finally off us.
“A year? A fucking year? Fuck. Our parents will think we’re dead.” I say.
“They do.” He says.
“They do?” Rosie begins tearing up.
“You two are dead to everyone. You’ve even had funerals.”
“Fuck.” I say, getting off the bed.
“Put these on. It’s cold outside.”
“What’s your name?” I ask.
“Zephyr. You’re Baxter and Rosie. Come on. We’ve gotta go.”
“What are these?” I ask him, adjusting the collar on the trench coat he has given to me, and taking the passport, the flight ticket and the birth certificate he hands to me. He signals a yellow cab to slow down, and we all get in.
“Melbourne Airport please.” He tells the cab driver.
“Hang on. I want to see my parents.” I say.
“So do I.” They haven’t seen us in a year. We’re still alive.” Rosie is crying.
“You can’t see them. You won’t see them. Not until you’re older.” Zephyr says.
“Why?” Rosie asks, sobbing.
“From now on, you’re Jake and Sarah Coppel and you live in Hobart. You were born in Hobart and you met eachother at uni. You both studied Fine Arts at UTAS.” He says.
“Why are you doing all of this?” I ask.
“Now that I’m older and I have lived a bit more of life, I can see what my dad is really like. He will hunt you down if he knows you escaped.”
“So you’re giving us new identities?” Rosie squeals.
“Yes, I’m sorry. I must. It’s for your own survival.”
“What about everyone else’s? What about Lobadantriosis? What about the Proxy pills? Your dad has the formula. He controls it. I had two million dollars and he refused to sell it to me. People are dying because of him.”
“I know exactly what he is doing now. I didn’t back then. I was blinded by my love for him. Don’t worry. Volt and I will take care of this.” Zephyr says.
The cab pulls up outside the departures lounge at the airport and Rosie and I get out of the cab.
“Take this. It’s your new address. Do what you both do. Paint. I must go.” Zephyr says, handing me a bit of scrap paper with our new address on it. He slams his door closed, and the cab driver pulls out back into the road and drives away.
“These are the same passports we found in that house.” I say.
“I know who Jake and Sarah are.” Rosie says, grinning.
“It’s us.” I say, holding her around her waist, and walking inside the airport.
Our plane descends and we land onto the tarmac at Hobart Airport with a small thud-thud-thud. We walk through the airport and exit through the glass doors, and hop into a cab.
“Salamanca, please.” I say, hoping our new suburb is nice.
“That sounds saucy.” Rosie says, pulling her long, black, thick, woollen, winter cardigan over her denim-clad legs.
“Are you cold babe?” I ask her.
“It’s a bit chilly. I’ll be fine though.” She says, resting her face against my chest. The cab arrives outside our new address fifteen minutes later and when I offer to pay him with the twenty dollar note I found in my jeans pocket earlier, he tells me not to worry about it, and that the fare has been covered.
Zephyr is one organised and thorough man, I think to myself, stuffing the twenty away again.
Now, when I don’t have a little black button embedded into my wrist and no robot to help me, I’m wondering how we will get inside our new home without a key or a password.
“How are we going to get in?” Rosie asks, thinking what I’m thinking.
“I dunno. I’m not sure. I don’t think Zephyr thought about this.” I say.
“We could break in.” She says.
“Our house could have an alarm.” I say.
“Excuse me, are you Mr and Mrs Coppel?” An old grey-haired woman asks us.
“Yes, we are. And you are?”
“Dot Perkins. Your next door neighbour. Your real estate agent left your key with me. He said you wouldn’t be able to pick it up from his office because of the time you were flying in. I said I wouldn’t mind holding onto it for you.” She’s a dear old woman. Around seventy five years old. She’s in her slippers and her dressing gown. Bless her.
“Thank you so much. That’s so nice of you. Thank you.” Rosie says, taking the key from her.
“You’re welcome. I’ll leave you now. Good night.” She says, and off she goes, back up her own drive way, and going inside her house.
“She was so cute. What a cute old lady.” Rosie says, closing our front door behind us. I go about flicking on some lights and the lamp I have found in the living room while Rosie goes in search of the kitchen.
“I’m starving. I wonder if the printer here is as good as your parents’.” She says, forgetting what decade we live in.
“Rosie, printers haven’t been invented yet.” I give her an “I’m not sorry” kind of look.
“Are you kidding? I’m gonna have to cook? Nooooo. That’s fucking shit. Oh my gosh! Printers are so much better. Why cook when printers can make all your food for you?” Rosie sighs, putting some water into the kettle on the bench. She opens a few cupboards in search of some teabags and sugar.
“We’re gonna havta do everything the old fashioned way baby.” I tell her, kicking off my runners and sliding them against the wall with my right foot.
“I liked doing it the new way. It was better.”
“It was pretty awesome. But it’s 2027 now. Let’s live our lives the way we’re supposed to live them. We’ll get there. It’s just gonna take some more time now.”
“I kinda liked skipping twenty years. It was awesome seeing what life is going to be like, you know? I really liked it.”
“I did too. Not the Lobadantriosis or the people dying. Just the technology. And the free food, clothes, and public transport.”
“We don’t have a car. Shit! How’re we gonna get anywhere? I wish we could just walk outside and call Albert.” She says.
“Me too. Hobart is pretty small though. We’ll walk.” I’m opening all the cupboards and rifling through the items in the pantry to see what produce and ingredients we own.
“Zephyr is a legend. He has stocked our pantry for us.” I say.
“What do we have?”
“Pasta. Rice. Noodles. Pasta sauces. Cornflakes. Vegemite. Peanut butter. Nutella.”
“Are you hungry?” She asks.
“I’m starving.” I tell her, and she pulls out a packet of penne and some bolognaise sauce, and goes about making us our first dinner, in our new home, as a married couple. We’re only eighteen years old yet we know so much about our future already.
After dinner I follow Rosie into the only bedroom in the house. She flicks on the lights and we have a look around. We have a nice queen-sized bed, with two bedside tables, a bookcase and a TV stand. Adjoining our new bedroom is a bathroom that has a double shower so we can shower together, George-free, a basin and one toilet. It’s as modern as bathrooms in 2026 can be and very spacious.
“Yay. I’ll be able to have a shower without George attacking me.” She laughs.
“Haha. I thought you might say that.”
“Oh my God. Real shampoo and real conditioner. Arrghh. Real toothbrushes and real toothpaste. Oh my God Baxie. This is heaven.” She’s overjoyed.
“A hairbrush. I haven’t seen a hairbrush in sooo long.” Rosie says. The shower brushed her hair after every shower for her.
“Do you have everything you need?” I ask.
“I think so. I’m looking for some make up.” She opens the top vanity drawer. “Oh, look babe. There’s a wallet and a purse in here. They’re ours. This is yours. This is mine.” She says, handing me a black leather wallet, and inspecting the beige leather purse she’s holding. She pulls out four fifty dollar notes.
“Money! He gave us money. Oh my God. I feel so rich.” She says.
“I’ve got some money too. I guess we’ll need to buy stuff like canvas, and oil paints and brushes.”
“Oh yeah. I forgot. Fuck. Will I even remember how to paint? I haven’t painted in so long. A year. That’s what Zephyr said right? We’ve been asleep for a year.”
“Yeah. Something like that. A whole year. Doesn’t feel right, does it?” I sigh.
“We spent some time elsewhere.”
“Yeah, but we’ll never get that time back babe.” I say, annoyed, and I sit down on the toilet seat. The lights are quite hot, and I take off my trench coat and fling it over the towel rail.
“I know. But just think of it this way. Mr Spoon can’t find us. He can’t hold us against our will any more. We don’t live in Melbourne. We are safe. And Zephyr and Volt will help us. They’re going to make sure everyone is able to afford Proxy. Not just those of us who are rich enough to buy it.” She reminds me.
“At least I know what can make us some money if we’re ever broke again.”
“What’s that?” She asks, kissing my hair.
“Your nude portrait and the paintings in Mum and Dad’s garage.” I say.
“Amen for those. Without those… well, without those… nothing changes, does it? Mr Spoon will never sell Proxy to us anyway.”
“What happens if they move houses and leave them there?”
“Dunno. All we can do is cross our fingers and hope that the future we’ve just lived in remains the same. Not exactly the same, but the good parts of it, yeah.”
“I know what you mean babe. Like the food printers, the flying cars, and the floating plates at The Gazer. Fifty-eight per cent huh?” She smiles.
“Yeah, fifty-eight percent.” I wink.
“Why’d it take you so long to tell me that?”
“Dunno. I guess I didn’t want you to know you graded better than me.” I smile.
“Why? That’s silly.”
“No, it’s not. I know how competitive you are.”
“I’m not competitive at all. Susannah just really likes me is all.” She winks.
“See? I told you she has her favourites!”