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-   -   *~23 Rose Street~* Two teens discover an abandoned house hidden away behind the trees. -FINALLY ACTUALLY COMPLETED- (http://www.webkinzinsider.com/forum/creative-writing-196/%2A%7E23-rose-street%7E%2A-two-teens-discover-749202/)

b1uski3sxox07-07-2012 01:14 PM

*~23 Rose Street~* Two teens discover an abandoned house hidden away behind the trees. -FINALLY ACTUALLY COMPLETED-
... i am NOT happy with how i did on that banner. XD

Bluski here. :bye:
I decided to write a story.
If you are REALLY lazy and/or forgot what happened in a couple chapters and/or new and just don't want to read the story (HOW DARE YOU. YOU'RE GOING TO MISS ALL THE FUN PARTS. IT'S A BOOK.), here's a summary of the chapters so far. :clap:

Spoiler: show
-Aaralyn and her friend, Cailean are introduced. Cailean tells Aaralyn that there's an abandoned house on the hill across the street and they decide to go check it out.

Chapter One:
-They check out the house and a vulture knocks them over, pushing them through the doorway.

Chapter Two:
-Aaralyn awakes to find herself in the middle of a ballroom.The old house, once 23 Rose Street, was actually a hustling, bustling mansion. Benjamin, the owner of the mansion, is introduced.

Chapter Three:
-Cailean is enamored by nine girls in the mansion. Benjamin informs Cailean and Aaralyn that they are actually a hundred and ten years in the past.

Chapter Four:
-Aaralyn leaves the house and finds herself back in 2012, with the house looking empty.

Chapter Five:
-Aaralyn goes back into the house to find herself back in 1902, with the house full again.

Chapter Six:
-Cailean and Aaralyn leave the house again per Benjamin's request to see if another house (just across the street in 1902) was still standing. It turns out to have been burned down. The two contemplate how 23 Rose Street could be "magical" and Aaralyn proposes that they visit her neighbor, Aaron.

Chapter Seven:
-Aaron is introduced. He is skeptical, but agrees to go with Cailean and Aaralyn to check out the house.

Chapter Eight:
-Aaron is enamored by the house. He informs the "ABC" team that there was (er, will be) a fire on August 24 (er, "in two weeks") that burns down most of Rose Street and kills several people.

Side-Story #1:
-Cailean's point of view of entering 23 Rose Street for the first time.

Chapter Nine:
-Aaron informs Benjamin that he cannot physically do anything to prevent the fire or the timeline will be messed up. Benjamin gets ticked off. Cailean cries.

Chapter Ten:
-We find out that Benjamin is Aaron's great-grandfather. Cailean ends up crying again.

Chapter Eleven:
-"Cailean and the Double-A Team" don't get any sleep that night. Aaron takes the gang for ice cream and they discuss when they should go back to the house.

Side-Story #2:
-Cailean sneaks into Benjamin's house every night up until the night before the fire, sometimes staying overnight and talking to him. Cailean starts to side with Benjamin and decides that he should do something about the fire.

Chapter Twelve:
-The day of the fire. Cailean drives them to 23 Rose Street and nearly kills them in the process.

Chapter Thirteen:
-The fire. Cailean runs out of the house, desperate to help even though it would mess up the timeline, and his arm is hit and badly burned by a falling tree branch.

Chapter Fourteen:
-A tree falls toward the house. The "AABC" crew runs out of the house and finds that Benjamin has been taken back to 2012 with them.

Chapter Fifteen:
-Aaron drives Cailean to the hospital and a shouting match occurs.

Chapter Sixteen:
-While Aaron and Cailean are in the emergency room, Aaralyn drives Benjamin back to the house and finds that, when they enter, they are no longer transported back in time; the house has been "broken."

Chapter Seventeen:
-Aaron flips out. That weekend, the crew tries several times to put Benjamin back into the house, with no luck. Cailean lets Benjamin stay at home with him, under the identity of a friend from school with a bad home life, and brings Benjamin to school the following Monday under the identity of a foreign exchange student from Finland and Benjamin immediately becomes the talk of the school. Brevyn (Brad) is introduced.

Side Story #3:
-Cailean decides that he needs to have a sleepover. He invites Aaron and Brevyn over (and, of course, Benjamin's already there) and he and Brevyn have a verbal dispute in the kitchen in which we find out Brevyn is insanely jealous of Cailean spending so much time with Benjamin. The fight ends on a bad note with Cailean mockingly calling Brevyn his "girlfriend" and Brevyn proceeding to stomp out of the kitchen. While Cailean is asleep, Brevyn finds out Benjamin's true identity through THE POWER OF GOOGLE.

Chapter Eighteen:
-Aaron reveals that a mausoleum in the local park's old cemetery has a tunnel that leads to the basement of another house, 28 Rose Street, which was burned down in the fire and buried. He thinks it might be a potential gateway back into 1902. The "AABC" crew goes to the park at night and Cailean thinks he hears a monster. While the "AAB" crew runs away, he is frozen in shock and his flashlight mysteriously turns off.

Chapter Nineteen:
-The monster turns out to be none other than Brad! Cailean leads the pack to the mausoleum but gets distracted by graves and finds Benjamin's grave, and, right next to it, his own.

Chapter Twenty:
-Cailean, incapacitated with shock, stays back at the cemetery while Aaron, Aaralyn, and Benjamin go down into the mausoleum and into the basement of Samantha's house-- and therefore back into 1902.

Chapter Twenty One:
-Benjamin is left back where he belongs and Cailean slips into depression.

Chapter Twenty Two:
-The gang goes to the house on Halloween and realizes that they are-- partially-- back in 1902.

Chapter Twenty Three:
-The house is torn down, and Cailean remains in 1902.

Character Profiles:
Spoiler: show
Main Characters:

Aaralyn (protagonist)
Age: 15
Grade: 10
Birthday: June 23
Hair: bright red (naturally brown though)
Eyes: brown
Height: 5'6
Character traits: courageous, strong, smart
Relationship to other main characters: Best friends with Cailean, Doesn't understand Benjamin, Neighbors with Aaron

Age: 15
Grade: 9
Birthday: August 19
Hair: brown
Eyes: green
Height: 6'3
Character traits: fast, loud, optimistic
Relationship with other main characters: Best friends with Aaralyn, Friends with Benjamin, Doesn't know Aaron and is skeptical of him

Age: 16
Birthday: May 23
Hair: blonde
Eyes: brown
Height: 6'2
Character traits: calm, polite, intelligent
Relationship with other main characters: Friends with Aaralyn, Doesn't like Cailean, Doesn't know Aaron

Age: 17
Grade: 12
Birthday: February 28
Hair: dark brown
Eyes: dark brown
Height: 5'10
Character traits: curious, smart, kind
Relationship with other main characters: Neighbor to Aaralyn, Doesn't know Benjamin, Doesn't know Cailean

Brevyn (Brad)
Age: 15
Grade: 10
Birthday: May 23
Hair: dark brown
Eyes: brown
Height: 5'9
Character traits: smart, calm, skeptical
Relationship with other characters: Friends with Aaralyn, Doesn't like Benjamin, Likes Cailean, Friends with Aaron

Might expand these later.


Spoiler: show
So, I've been staring at my computer screen for the past few minutes, waiting for the inspiration fairy to bonk me on the head...
It ain't happening.

I gave my computer desk a good kick and winced. Okay, in retrospect, maybe that wasn't a good idea. Picking up the sheet of paper I had propped up on my computer monitor, I let my eyes scan over it lazily. Story project, blah blah blah, at least 5,000 words, blah blah blah, no vampires, we have enough of those already, blah blah blah...
Well, I'm going to fail this project.

... oh, well hello there. I'm Aaralyn, the girl who is about to get an F in her English class. Do you have any idea how EMBARRASSING it is to fail ENGLISH? For Pete's sake, I speak English! I'm going to need a miracle if I even want to get a thousand words typed out...

Just as I was about to let out a teenage-angst-filled sigh, the door to my room shot open, so much so that it hit the adjacent wall with a sickening thunk.

And there stood my friend Cailean, who had gone from happy as a clam when he opened the door to stricken with shock.
"Oh my god, did I do that...?" He carefully pulled the door back. Thankfully, the doorknob hadn't punched a hole in the wall (like it did last time... but that's a story for another time). I swear, sometimes Cailean didn't know his strength... he was a few months younger than I was, and even though we were the same age for the majority of the year, he looked up to me like I was the source of all wisdom in the world. ... yeah, I guess it would be any girl's dream to have a boy basically worship her, but Cailean was, um... clumsy. Boyish. A big ol' bundle of sobs almost all the time. He'd have random bouts of manliness every other month, and when he did, you'd want to stay out of the way if you valued your life.

"Cailean, it's fine," I said quickly, not wanting him to start crying (... like he did last time). "Why are you here?"

He sniffled. "Oh! You know that house up on the hill?"

I shook my head. "What hill?"

"The one on the other side of the street! The hill! With the house!"
"I know the hill, but I didn't know there was a house there..."
"WELL NEITHER DID I!" Cailean clapped. "I was walking Fluffy today and I guess she smelled a squirrel or something because she RAAAAN off and I couldn't hold her back--"
"Cailean, Fluffy is a miniature poodle--"
"Fluffy is stronger than she looks! Anyways, she was running and running and I was running and running and we ran into a big patch of trees and THERE'S A FREAKING HOUSE THERE, AARALYN."
"Well, that's nice. I hope its occupants didn't chase you off the property..."
"That's the thing! There were no occupants! I swear, that house had to be, like, 500 years old. At least."
I sighed. "Cailean, the United States has not been the United States for 500 years; there is no possible way--"
"Okay, well, at least a hundred years, okay?" I really wished he would stop interrupting me, but hey, that's Cailean for you. "Seriously though. It's SO OLD. You HAVE to come see it. It's AWESOME."
I nodded. "Great. Old house. Nice. No thanks, though."
"But you haaaaave to!" Cailean whined, tugging on my arm. For a guy that was 6'3 and could easily throw someone twice my size across the room (yet somehow could not control a miniature poodle named Fluffy), he could get really... girly.
I sighed. "Fine. I'll go. Let's go see this magical old house."
"YAY!" Cailean squealed.

In retrospect, letting Cailean take me to that old house was probably the worst mistake of my life.

Chapter One:

Spoiler: show
Cailean dragged me by the wrist pretty much the whole way across the street, up the hill, only letting me go when we reached the patch of trees that I thought was simply a small forest.
"Gosh, Cailean," I winced, rubbing my wrist and trying to get some blood back into my hand. "You can't control a miniature poodle, yet you manage to drag me like a quarter of a mile--"
"FLUFFY. IS. DIFFERENT." Cailean shouted, scaring some birds out of the patch of trees.
"... whatever." I shrugged. "Let's see this spooky old house."
Cailean nodded, but made no move to go closer.
"... Cailean...?"
"You go first." He said, staring down at his shoes.
Cailean mumbled something I couldn't hear.
"I said I'm scared..." He whispered.
"You didn't seem very scared when you burst into my room all 'OHMAHGAWD IT'S A HOUSE--'"
"I DON'T TALK LIKE THAAAAAT," Cailean whined. "And besides, that's when I was in the safety of your house. This is different. There are, like, snakes and bugs and birds and oh god, what if there are vultures, I never thought about that, vultures can eat people alive, I saw some guy on the internet--"
"CAILEAN!" I shouted, scaring whatever birds were left in the trees out. "Let's just go see this old house, okay?"
Cailean nodded, pouting, as he lead the way through the tangle of trees and bushes. The grass, which had been mowed on the hill, got taller and taller as we passed the point of where your average mower could comfortably go.

Suddenly, the trees broke, and the grass below our feet became a stone pathway-- and a very nice one at that. Shimmering stones lay in pattern with tiles that looked like they once had something etched in them. Weeds grew up between the stones, peppering the gray and silver with splotches of yellow.

My eyes followed the stone path up to what I'm sure was once a grand house, but was now a sad tower of broken boards and shattered windows. It was two stories high, and looked older than any house I'd seen in the state. There were broken flowerpots out front surrounding what looked to be an old bench. A rusty sign was nailed above the door, reading 23 Rose Street. As I looked closer, I realized what was left of the windows was bright, ornate stained glass. Whoever lived in this house however many years ago had to have been filthy rich.

"Cailean..." I whispered.
Cailean nodded. "Yep. There it is. Let's go home." He turned and started to head back.
"B-but Cailean..."
He stopped.
"Shouldn't we at least take a look inside?"
There was a pause, a sigh from him, and a very loud "NOOOOOO!"
"Well, fine then." I huffed, heading on down the pathway. "You go home; I'll explore."
Of course.
Cailean was by my side in less than a second. "I-if you're going to explore then... I mean, like, I have to at least make sure you don't get eaten by vultures or anything."
"Cailean, there are no vultur--"
Before I could finish my sentence, a raccoon hopped out of one of the destroyed flowerpots, and a girlish shriek filled the air. The only thing was, I hadn't opened my mouth, and Cailean was now crouched behind me (I'm rather short and he's rather tall; not exactly easy for him to hide behind me), quivering.
"Raccoons are worse than vultures," He trembled. "You can't get eaten by a raccoon. Please don't. They're full of germs."
"And vultures aren't?" I sighed, not bothering to even attempt to remove Cailean's clenched fists from the back of my shirt. "Come on. Let's just go. There might be cool stuff in there. Unless you're scared."
Cailean immediately stood up as straight as he could manage, dusting off his shirt. "Scared? Me? Seriously? No. I'm fine. Yeah. You're right. Let's go... into... the diseased... raccoon-y... old house."

We made our way down the pathway further.
"You were the one who was all hyped up about this," I sighed.
"Yeah. Because I didn't know it was here, and I liked looking at it. I never wanted to..." He gulped. "Go in..."
As we reached the doorway, a sudden gust of wind came, nearly knocking the two of us over. The air was immediately ice-cold.
"Okay. Okay, okay, okay okay..." Cailean panted. "That's not a good sign. Seriously, we should reconsider--"
Before I could yell at Cailean to man up for once, there was a horrible screech behind us. We whipped around just in time to see a giant vulture swoop down out of a tree. Two girlish shrieks were the last things I heard before it collided with both of us, pushing us back into the building. And yes, one of those shrieks was mine this time.

Chapter Two:

Spoiler: show
When I awoke, my vision was blurry. My back hurt. I didn't know where Cailean was, and judging by how I couldn't feel his trembling through the floorboards, I figured he was either still unconscious or had run off already.
I immediately closed my eyes. Why is everything so bright...
Why IS everything so bright?
My eyes shot open again, and this time I found a boy staring down at me, but it wasn't Cailean.

Being the master of words, I managed an "uh." The boy chuckled.
"I'm glad you're awake. We were worried about you." He looked to be about my age. His hair was golden, his eyes a rich chocolate brown, and his voice had a charm to it that you just didn't hear nowadays.
As my brain registered the word "we," I realized that he was not the only one staring down at me. He was the closest to me, yes, but there were other people crowded around me in a circle... all dressed in Victorian clothes. Very nice Victorian clothes.

"Uh," I said again, looking back up at the mysterious golden-haired boy, and realized he was dressed the nicest out of all of them, decked out in blue velvet with golden thread and a ruffled collar that would've looked ridiculous on anyone else.
I suddenly regained the ability to speak, and only one thing to say came to my mind.
"Where's Cailean?" I sat up, nearly bonking my head against the other boy's (I didn't realize how close he had gotten to me).
The boy sighed, becoming exasperated in a mere second. "The boy?" He gestured to my left. "He's over there..."
The crowd of people parted, and I saw Cailean on the other side of the ballroom, appearing to be flirting with a bunch of teenage Victorian girls. They seemed mesmerized by him, and were giggling hysterically. No different than popular girls nowadays...


Cailean was on the other side of the ballroom.
I looked up, down, around myself... I was smack dab in the middle of a ballroom. Apparently there was a party going on, band and all, as one of the gentlemen closest to me had a violin in his hand. (either that, or he had just decided to bring a violin to the party, whatever)

I also realized that Cailean was decked out in the same fancy Victorian clothes as the other boys were.
And that I was wearing the same Victorian clothes the other girls were wearing. Of course, it was a little more my style; less corsets, less poofy skirt, but still very out-of-style for 2012.

"I..." I looked up at the boy who had been there upon my awakening. "Where am I?"
The boy looked comically puzzled. "Excuse me? You're at Carroll Mansion, 23 Rose Street."

23 Rose Street.

No. This couldn't have been the same house Cailean took me to...
Yet, as I looked outside, I saw the same bench, the same flower pots in their prime state, the same stone path, the same stained glass windows.
I had an infinite amount of questions I wanted to ask, but decided to start with the most pressing one to me at the time.
I looked back to the boy. "What's your name?"
He smiled and offered his hand to me. I took it and he helped me up.
"My name is Benjamin Carroll."

Chapter Three:

Spoiler: show
I nearly gasped. The boy-- well, Benjamin, I should probably call him-- couldn't have been much older than I was, yet it appeared he was the owner of this mansion. He was dressed the fanciest out of everyone, not to mention he was very tall and very clean for someone living in a time where most bath products had yet to be invented.
"And your name, my lady?" It was only when he spoke that I realized I had been staring at him for who knows how long.
"Uh. Aaralyn."
"Excuse me?"
"Aaralyn," I repeated.
"Ah." Benjamin nodded, still looking quite confused. "Aaralyn," he parroted.
I nodded. "Yeah, more or less."

At that point, Cailean waltzed-- literally-- over, a cluster of girls following him. He threw an arm around Benjamin's shoulders.
"Sup, Ben?" This question, though very casually asked, seemed to make Benjamin extremely uncomfortable.
"Yes, ah..." He carefully removed Cailean's arm from his shoulder. "Your friend is awake."
"I noticed!" Cailean clapped. "I was worried sick."
"You didn't look very worried." I mumbled, gesturing to the girls behind him, which looked very miffed to see me talking to the boy they were fawning over.
"Oh! I have to introduce you! Aaralyn, this is Samantha, Lorena, Florence, Virginia, Juliet, Charlotte, Agnes, Lucy, and Myrtle. Samantha, Lorena, Florence, Virginia, Juliet, Charlotte, Agnes, Lucy, and Myrtle, this is my friend Aaralyn."
Florence (I think) huffed and murmured a snobby "wonderful to meet you, Aaralyn."
"I know we're just having a wonderful time here, girls, but could I speak to these two for a minute?" Benjamin asked.
The girls sighed, but nodded, and Benjamin led the two of us over to a corner of the ballroom that was more sparse. I could see the girls gossiping to each other. I guess Victorian girls love gossip just as much as any other girls.

"All right," Benjamin sighed. "Where are you from?"
"Oh, well, I live just right down the street--" Cailean immediately started.
"No. WHERE are you from?" Benjamin repeated.
Cailean blinked. "I... don't follow you."
"Listen, you just magically came flying through the doorway and landed unconscious on the floor. Your speech is horribly informal and," he turned to me, "you look quite awkward. Nobody has that color of red as their natural hair color."
"Wh--" Realization hit me like a train. "What year is this?"
"I don't see how that should--"
"What year is this?" I almost shouted.
Benjamin flinched. "May I also add that you are very aggressive for a lady? It's 1902, obviously. I don't see why that should matter."
Cailean and I gaped at each other.
"C-could you please repeat that?" Cailean squeaked.
Benjamin sighed. "It's 1902."

shoooort chapter! sorry. ._. the next chapter will be longer, i promise.

Chapter Four:

Spoiler: show
As to be expected from him, Cailean promptly fainted.
Like myself, Benjamin did not seem surprised. "Is he okay...?"
"Yeah, just leave him," I shook my head. "We-- we're seriously in 1902? Like, the year 1902?"
"Yes." Benjamin nodded. "Why? Did you think this was a different year?"
"Uh, duh." I was about to go on further when I fully realized the situation Cailean had gotten me into. We'd gone to explore an old house and a vulture had sent us flying back a hundred and ten years into the past. Why can't my life just be normal... why couldn't I have pulled a Fluffy and ran away from Cailean when he decided to drag me to this stupid house? Why?

"Are you all right?" Benjamin asked. "You look kind of pale."
"Ye--" I broke. "NO. I am NOT all right. Stupid Cailean took me to this stupid old house and a vulture shoved us in and now we're a hundred and ten years in the past and I'm wearing this stupid dress and Cailean fainted and I don't know what to do!"
I stood there, panting, about ready to cry. Benjamin had backed up during my flamboyant display of teenage angst and didn't look like he knew what to do with the horribly informal, horribly misplaced me. Cailean was still on the floor. I didn't know if he was only pretending to still be unconscious so he wouldn't have to face my wrath.

Benjamin blinked. "All right. Ah... y-you said you got sent a hundred and ten years in the past. Do you mean to say you're from the future?"
"I j--" I sighed. "I don't even know any more..."
"Here, let's go outside, maybe you just need some fresh air," Benjamin suggested. On one hand, I was sure he thought I was completely loony. On the other, I hoped he was slightly sympathetic, if not confused, as Cailean and I literally appeared in the middle of his ballroom. That's not something people from this time period normally did, right?

I started to follow Benjamin out the door when I realized Cailean was still laying on the floor.
Benjamin followed my backwards glance. "Should I get him...?"
I nodded, and Benjamin cautiously headed over to Cailean.
"Uh..." He shook his shoulder. "Cailean. Are you all right? Cailean?"
Cailean shot up, causing Benjamin to jump about ten feet backwards.
"What? What! I'm all right. I'm good. I had this crazy dream that I wa--" He blinked, surveying his surroundings, before burying his face into his hands and groaning.
"Cailean, we're going outside." I said.
He uncovered his face and looked at me. Oh great, now he was going to start crying.
"Come on, Cailean!" I immediately tried to make my voice more upbeat, as if speaking to a puppy. "Don't you want some fresh air?"
Cailean sniffled and nodded, standing up and heading over to my side, a very confused Benjamin behind him.
"I'm sorry I brought you here..." Cailean mumbled as we headed out the door.
"It's okay." I said. "Well, no, it's not okay... but I mean, you didn't know the old house was... you didn't know that where we... you couldn't have imagined all of this was going to happen."
"Yeah." Cailean sighed, staring down at the stone path, stepping on a weed growing up through the cracks.
"Huh, a weed." I shrugged. "The path looks pretty weathered here, Benj--"
I turned around, but Benjamin wasn't there. I could've sworn he was right next to me like two seconds ago...
"Uh, Aaralyn?" Cailean gasped, turning to look at me, then at the house.
Why the heck did he look at me?
I looked down. I look fairly normal. I mean, my dress wasn't exactly my style, but...

The dress was gone.
I was wearing the same t-shirt and jeans I was wearing this morning.
I looked back at the house. It was the same sad structure of bricks and wood and broken glass it had originally been.
The inside was empty.
Benjamin wasn't there.

Nobody was.

Chapter Five:

Spoiler: show
"Uhh..." Cailean whimpered. "Aaralyn?"
"Yes, Cailean?" I whispered.
"... where'd Benjamin go?"
"Where'd EVERYONE go?" I yelled. "We just-- Cailean, would you agree that, for like half an hour, we were in these frilly clothes in the middle of a ballroom?"
"And that this Victorian boy was talking to us?"
I paused, desperately trying to grasp the situation.
"And that I was surrounded by nine beautiful Victorian girls who practically worshipped me and thought my jokes were funny and--"
Cailean started crying, but I didn't really care. I couldn't care. All my brain could focus on was that we just stepped out of the past. It was as simple as that, yet it made no sense whatsoever.
"It isn't about you, either..." Cailean mumbled quietly, voice cracking through his sobs. That boy...

"I don't get it..." I looked in through the doorway. The ballroom was still there, but the floors were all torn up, the grand paintings on the wall were dusty and damaged by the rain, and-- perhaps most importantly-- there were no signs of life.
... well, it looked like there was a raccoon sitting in the far corner of the room, but that was about it.

"Cailean, I think we should go back in." I said after a few minutes of staring in silence (well, save for Cailean's sobs and the occasional bird)
"No." Cailean sniffled. "There's a raccoon."
I sighed. "Cailean, you wimp. Fine then, I'll just go back in by myself. I want to see if there's anything left."
Much to my surprise, Cailean just sat down in the grass, wiping his tears away as they streamed down his face. "Fine. Knock yourself out."

At this point, I had started to feel bad for Cailean, but his mood swings weren't my priority at the time. This old, rickety house had once been a grand mansion. Surely there were some sort of records kept somewhere. A small part of me hoped that Benjamin had kept a journal and stored it away in a waterproof, raccoon-proof box.

Walking through the doorway again was like walking through a curtain of mist. Everything was foggy and cold for two seconds before I felt myself bump into someone.


It was Benjamin, looking reasonably awestruck.
"Wh-- I--" Aaaand there went my ability to form coherent thoughts again. I was back in the stupid dress, back in the stupid ballroom, with stupid Benjamin holding on to my shoulders, as I realized, to keep me from fainting, which I was at real risk of doing at the time.
"Aaralyn, you walked out the door and disappeared for like ten minutes. I... well, I didn't really know what happened to you... where's Cailean?"
"He..." I wiggled myself free of Benjamin's grasp to turn around, but when I looked outside, Cailean wasn't there. The stone path, previously (previously?) cracked and full of weeds, was perfect and shiny, good as new.

"... Benjamin?" I whimpered, reaching behind me for his arms.
"What's wrong?" He asked, putting his hands on my shoulders.
"I... I think I'm gonna..." There was no way. No way that this house was somehow cursed, that this magical Victorian ballroom existed inside of it and nowhere else. It had to be a figment of my imagination. A dream. Something.
And yet, it felt real. Benjamin's steadying me reminded me enough that I could finally faint, as I had been wanting to do ever since that stupid vulture knocked Cailean and I back into this house, without suffering any bumps or bruises.

So I did.

Chapter Six:

Spoiler: show
When I awoke, Cailean was there by my side, three of his girl-posse standing behind him.
"You're awake!" He clapped.
"Wonderful," one of the girls rolled her eyes. As much as I'd heard about Victorian manners, these girls had none at all.
Before I could even adjust to my surroundings, Benjamin was helping me up. "Aaralyn," he whispered in my ear. "You need to go."
"What?" I mumbled. "I--"
"Cailean will take you where you need to go. Just leave, now."
And just like that, Cailean dragged me out of the house and back into the present.

If I were feeling as unladylike as those brats-- I mean, girls-- hanging around Cailean, I would have thrown a tantrum at being removed from the house so swiftly and, quite frankly, rudely, while I was still half-unconscious.

Once I started thinking clearly, I realized Cailean had dragged me out of the trees and across the street again, further away from my house.

"Cailean!" I shrieked, digging my feet into the road. As I saw a sad white minivan and a large motorcycle-- an odd combination, really-- heading our way, I realized that was a bad idea. I waited until Cailean had dragged me off of the road to completely stop him from taking me further. "What are you-- what did you-- explain, please!"

Cailean sighed and turned around. As I looked at him, I noticed that he was having another one of his mature moments. I decided to shut up and savor the moment.

"Well, after about ten minutes, my curiosity got the best of me and I decided to go into the house. I saw that you had fainted and Benjamin was freaking out and apparently that had just happened so I had great timing, didn't I--"
I sighed. "And then what?"
"And then I told Benjamin all about the coming-back-to-the-present thing and he just kind of sat there and thought for a long time and then he told me to drag-- well, take might've been the word-- you to this other house he knew and see if the same thing happened there."
He looked down at his shoes in despair, then snapped his head back up, his normal happy expression back.
"And then Charlotte, Samantha, and Lorena came over--"
"I don't need to hear it." I waved him off. "So where is this other potentially magic house?"
"Right over--" Cailean pointed to a pile of burnt boards. "... well, that's not good."
"Wait, why are we even here?" I asked. "What's the significance of this house?"
"It's-- or, it was-- the other mansion... 25 Rose Street."
"But it's across the road, so why's it on the same street?"
Cailean nudged his foot at the ground, where I could see the faint outlines of what used to be a dirt road.
"Rose Street used to go from this house--" He turned around and pointed back in the direction of the magical ballroom house, "To a few houses past there. There used to be tons of very nice houses, apparently. Benjamin even told me that there used to be a school, back where the Petersons live now."
That rang a bell. When the Petersons-- coworkers to my parents-- moved in, there was this huge buzz about how there used to be a school where their house was. I had no idea there was a whole street full of mansions, though.

Cailean sighed. "Benjamin kept asking me about all these houses and I didn't know any of the ones he was talking about... he asked me about the school and I told him it was gone... he said I should take you over there anyways because this is where the majority of the houses were and surely one or two of them should still be standing and that 25 Rose Street 'had to still be there' but..." He glanced around him. The only houses around here were the generic cookie-cutter houses that had been built about ten years ago.
"Should we go back and tell him the bad news, or...?"
I paused. Sure, I wanted to go back to the magical ballroom, but I had a better idea.

"No," I said, crossing my arms. "Let's go see Aaron."
Cailean blinked. "I do not follow."
"Aaron! My neighbor. He's a senior; if anybody we know is going to have any information on this whole... time-traveling thing, it'll be him."
"All right. Let's go see that old dude!" Cailean cheered.
"Cailean, he's a senior as in a senior student. He goes to our school."
"Oh." Cailean sighed. "I thought we were going to talk to some wise old man who would be able to tell us stories about the place."
"Aaron's about as close to a wise old man as I know, Cailean. Come on, let's go!"
"Yeah! Let's go see... the... dude who's older than us but not by much!"
"Whoo." I mumbled, not bothering to try to match Cailean's energy.

Chapter Seven:

Spoiler: show
Knock knock.
Knock knock.

Cailean's impatient pounding ceased as Aaron opened the door. The walk to his house had been fairly short, if not tiring, as Cailean asked me as many questions about Aaron as he possibly could. I was fairly glad that Aaron lived so close, as, by the time we arrived at his house, Cailean's questions had started to be along the lines of "well, does he put his left shoe on first, or his right shoe? That tells a lot about your character, you know!"

"Uh, are you lo--" Aaron began, then I saw his eyes shift to me. "Aaralyn? Hey, come in, what's up?"
Cailean crossed his arms as I proceeded into the house. "What about me?"
"Sure, you can come in too, I suppose." Aaron shrugged. I was already in the living room by then, but I heard Cailean's frustrated whine clear enough.

As soon as all three of us had sat down on the couch in the living room, Aaron asked "so, what brings you guys here?"

"WELL--" Cailean started.
"Uh--" I cut him off. "I think I'd best tell him."
Cailean sighed. "Whatever."
"So, Aaron, ah..." I really didn't know where to start. "You know that house on the hill on the other side of the street?"
Aaron blinked, a blank look on his face. "... no. What house?"
Of course he didn't know. "Uh, do you know the hill with all the trees?"
"Oh, yeah," he nodded. "I didn't know there was a house there is all."
"Well, there is, and--" Cailean jumped in.
"Cailean!" I shouted, and Cailean pouted as he sunk back into the couch in silence. "Okay, so, there's a house there. Like, a really old house. From the 1900s. It's abandoned. It used to be a mansion or something."

Aaron's eyes lit up. Finally, I got him interested. Aaron was interested in two opposites; the far past and the far future. You'd see him crafting a steampunk costume one day and building a computer the next.

"The thing is, though..." I continued. "How do I explain this..."
"When you go into the house, you travel back in time and there's this magical ballroom party and there's this weird guy there who's really too handsome and I think he's a pretty steep competition for me even though there are like a dozen Victorian girls that fawn over me-- bet you don't have THAT many, old man-- and when you leave the house you're back in the present and the house is empty again."

I stared at Cailean, not knowing whether to punch him or thank him for explaining it fairly well. (aside from the "dozen girls"; there couldn't have been more than six)

Aaron cocked his head to the side like a confused puppy. "Uh. So, uh... you found a time-traveling house."
I nodded. "Yeah."
"Doctor Who has his box and you have this house."
I had no idea who this Doctor Who (who now?) was, but I nodded again anyways.
"Are you SURE?"
I laughed. "Yeah, pretty sure!"
"This isn't one of those things like the time you came screaming to me when you were six because you could've sworn you had a troll in the basement, and it turned out to be your old stuffed bunny?"
"... the stuffed bunny was pretty ratty-- but no! It's not! I'm dead serious here."
Aaron sighed, clearly not believing me.

"What's weird, though, is that time seems to pass in the same way both in and out of the house..." Cailean mumbled. "We left for like ten minutes and then went back in and the stupid handsome dude was like 'ohh you were gone for like ten minutes where were you'..."
Aaron looked up. I could see the gears in his head going.
"So, what you're saying is, the times are parallel?"
"Ohhh, I hate geometry--" Cailean started to groan.
"Take me to the house." Aaron stood up, a spark of adventure in his eyes.
"All right, but I'll warn you, the girls are pretty crazy--"
"Cailean!" Aaron and I shouted in unison.
"Sorry, Aaralyn and Aaron." Cailean mumbled. "Heeey! Aaralyn, Aaron! You're like the double-A twins!" He clapped.
"Just take me to the magical time-traveling house."
"Can do!"

Chapter Eight:

Spoiler: show
It was a short walk back to the hill (Aaron's house was right next to mine, after all), and, for once, it was a quiet walk.
However, when we made our way through the trees and bushes, Aaron seemed to turn into a different person.
"Wow." He stared at the house and blinked a few times. "You weren't kidding about the house, were you?" He didn't give me a chance to reply. "This is amazing! I'd say early 1900s--"
"1902." Cailean jumped in.
"1902?" Aaron turned around to face Cailean. "How do you know wha-- oh, that's right." He turned back to face the house. "This is amazing. Truly amazing. To think that there was a piece of architecture as beautiful as this so close to my house-- and still intact!"
I glanced over at Cailean. "Intact?"
"Well..." Cailean looked at the house's broken windows and somewhat moldy exterior, weeds growing up the sides. "It's not a pile of bricks and wood like 25 Rose Street was."
"True." I nodded, and then realized Aaron was still talking.
"And look at this stonework on the path! Truly beauteous! Whoever owned this house must have been very well-off!"

Cailean had apparently had enough of Aaron's marveling. "So are you going to stand there and admire this pile of rubble all day or do you want to go inside and see an actual intact house?"
Aaron turned around to face us and rolled his eyes. "You really still think that I believe you? There is no possible way that this house--"
Cailean groaned, stepped forward, and grabbed Aaron's shoulders, turning him around and literally pushing him towards the house.
"Hey!" Aaron objected immediately. He attempted to flail his arms, but I guess Cailean had another random bout of manliness and wasn't about to let him go. "Let go of me! There are all sorts of vermin in that house, like raccoons and vultures and--"

I'd never actually seen anyone go into the house. It was kind of creepy. The second the two of them stepped through the doorway, they kind of... evaporated? Disseminated? Aaron would probably know some fancy words for what happened.
By now, I was essentially used to the "magical act" of going inside the house, so I simply walked through the doorway and back into 1902.
When the dark, depressed, broken inside of the house suddenly became the Victorian ballroom it used to be, I saw that Cailean was wasting no time introducing Aaron-- who had his own ridiculous Victorian clothes-- to everyone, starting with his dozen or so girlfriends.
"--Samantha, Florence, and Virginia, meet Aaron. Aaron, this is Lorena, Charlotte, Juliet, Myrtle, Lucy, Agnes, Samantha, Florence, and Virginia."
"Nice to meet you." Aaron nodded, looking like a deer in the headlights. I could tell that this was too much for him. His eyes were scanning the room, his mouth slightly agape, like a kid in the world's largest candy shop. (side note; Aaron says he doesn't like candy. I don't believe him.)

I decided to march on over there and keep Aaron from squealing like a schoolgirl.
"So!" I stepped right in between Samantha and Myrtle-- or was it Agnes and Lucy? "Pretty cool, ey, Aaron?"
Aaron was quite literally speechless.
"Hee-hee!" Juliet (I think) giggled. "Your friend's adorable, Cailean."
"Almost as adorable as you!" Myrtle piped in, the rest of the crowd of girls immediately nodding their heads in response.
"He looks so... exotic! Where's he from?" Lorena gripped Cailean's shirtsleeve.
"Oh, uh... this... one place in Asia... uh... Chitaiwanoreapan." Cailean mumbled.
The girls all gasped in unison. "Asia?"
"Tell us of your life in Chitaiwaoreapan, Aaron!" Virginia squealed.
"You must have so many adventures to tell us about!" Florence said.
And, just like that, the crowd of girls centered around Aaron-- who was still unable to form words-- and waltzed away with him.

Cailean stared at the retreating crowd in disbelief.
"I can't believe this!" He flailed his arms. "Girls! Sheesh."
"Oh hey, you're back."
We turned around to see Benjamin, who didn't look as surprised as we thought he would.
"Since when do Victorian guys say 'hey'?" I asked.
"Oh, Cailean said that that's what people say in your time. Is that not true?"
I sighed. Of course Cailean would teach him that kind of stuff.
"Ooooooh, Benjamin, you have to meet Aaralyn's neighbor! He's right over--" Cailean looked back at the crowd of girls that had completely engulfed Aaron. "... well, you'll have to get through those girls first..."
"I'll meet him later." Benjamin said. "Did you go to 25 Rose Street?"
"Oh." Cailean mumbled, expression immediately turning from happy, excited puppy to kicked, sad puppy. "Well, uh... yes, we did."
"And?" Benjamin nodded, eyes full of hope.
"Well. Ahh... there's kind of... nothing left but a pile of old, burnt boards."
Benjamin's face fell. "Y-you're kidding, right?"
Cailean shook his head, staring at his shoes, avoiding Benjamin's eyes. I really didn't think Cailean was that upset about it...
"I'm sorry, Benjamin," I said after ten seconds of agonizing silence from the three of us. "23 Rose Street is the only house left. All the others have been torn down for new houses to be built on top of them, or... burnt."
"There was a fire."
All three of us looked up to see that Aaron had come over to join our little group.
"A fire? When?" Benjamin asked.
"Oh, Benjamin, this is Aaro--" Cailean started.
"Be quiet, Cailean! What happened? What fire?"
"August 24th of 1902. A huge fire engulfed the majority of Rose Street, burning down nearly everything in its path. I wasn't aware that this house had survived, but I guess it was the only one that did." Aaron said bleakly.

"August 24th?" Benjamin stared at him with wide eyes.
"Yeah." Aaron nodded.
"But that's two weeks from now."

Bonus/Side Story: Cailean Meets Benjamin
(warning: very long, may take you lots of time to read; have snacks at the ready)

Spoiler: show
(Cailean's point of view)


That was my first thought as I opened my eyes.
"Where am I...?"
Oh yeah, that's right. That stupid vulture knocked Aaralyn and I back into that old house I found.

The vulture TOUCHED me!
Must burn my clothes now... who knows what kinds of diseases I have on me? Vulture diseases, that's what.

I stood up, intending to run back to my house (oh, wait, maybe I should get Aaralyn as well) and bathe in hand sanitizer for an hour or so, but upon standing up, my head started spinning.
Don't want to puke in the old house, don't want to puke in the old house...

I shut my eyes (which had only been open for a few seconds at the time because I like to ponder bathing in hand sanitizer with my eyes closed).
Not a good idea.
Any little sense of balance I had at that point was gone, and I fell forward. I inwardly groaned, bracing myself to hit the floor of the old house, and probably fall through. Who knows what kind of condition these floors are in... ohmygod what if there are maggots ohmygod there are probably maggots all over these floors and I'm about to fall face-first into them that combined with the vulture OHMYGOD I AM GOING TO DI--
Something stopped me.
SomeONE stopped me.
Didn't know Aaralyn was awake, huh.

... but wait.
It couldn't have been Aaralyn.
Aaralyn would've just let me fall and then probably would've sighed and said something about how I was clumsy. (and I would've fully agreed with her, of course, because she always seems to be right about me, it's freaky how much that girl has learned about me in the time I've known her)

I dared to open my eyes again and realized whoever had stopped me was wearing blue velvet.
Some random stranger wandered into the house with us! Not good, not good!

I finally managed to fully regain consciousness, and realized there were several voices mumbling around me.
"Is he okay?"
"Oh my, Benjamin! Good thing you caught him!"
"Where did he come from?"
"The other girl still isn't awake yet!"
"Are there any doctors here?"
"I'm a doctor!"
"Be quiet, Peter, you just like to think you're a doctor."
"He's cute!"
"He's so tall!"
"Now, now, girls, give the boy some space!"

I must find whoever called me cute!
Wait, no, that probably shouldn't be my top priority at the moment...

I also realized upon opening my eyes that the gross old floor I imagined hitting was actually quite nice. Polished. It was so shiny that I could see the reflection of the chandelier in it.

... wait, what?
I turned my head to look up at the ceiling, but instead found myself face-to-face with some dude who seemed to be around my age. He must've been the one that caught me! Thank goodness for him or--

I spun out of his arms and landed on the polished floor with a sickening thunk. It hurt a lot, but I was better off being on the floor in the first place instead of falling into some blue-velvet-wearing dude's arms. What am I, a girl?

Aaaand the voices were back.
"Oh no!"
"I'm a doctor!"
"No you aren't, Peter!!"
"Sorry, dear."
"Are you all right?"

That last one seemed fairly close to me.
I opened my eyes again aaaaand that stupid blue-velvet boy was back.
"You've hit your head several times." Well, duh.
Suddenly, three girls completely blocked my vision.
"Oh my goodness!" One shouted so loud that it made my head swirl.
"We absolutely must take you to a doctor!" The other squealed.
"Poor boy!" The third said.
Sure, their voices made my head hurt, but I think I could get used to--
"Enough! Samantha, Florence, Virginia, give him room!" The blue-velvet boy shouted, literally pushing the three girls out of the way.

Stupid blue velvet boy put his hand behind my head and started to lift me up.
"I can do it myself, don't touch me!" I sat up as quickly as I possibly could, flailing to get his hand away.
Stupid blue velvet boy looked hurt, but I really didn't care. Where did the girls go?
"Hey, where's--" I stopped mid-sentence as I fully realized where I was.
In the middle of a flipping ballroom.
Dozens of people in Victorian clothes (ah, that would explain the blue velvet) were crowded around me. They all looked pretty wealthy. As I looked down at my clothes, I realized I was dressed just like the rest of them.

I fell into an alternate universe where I was a wealthy Victorian boy.

Wait, yeah, Aaralyn, right.
Through a gap in the crowd, I could see another small crowd on the other side of the ballroom. Cool.
I jumped up and ran over to the other crowd, not paying attention to the gasps behind me.

Sure enough, in the middle of the crowd, there was Aaralyn. Still unconscious, though. That's not good.
I pushed through the barricade of well-dressed people and knelt down next to Aaralyn.
"Hey." I poked her. "Wake up."
No response.
... well, what now?
That was usually enough to get her up when she was sleeping. And sleeping generally equals unconsciousness, amirite?
But nope.
"Is that your friend?"
Stupid blue velvet boy.
How did I even recognize his voice?
"Yes, she is my friend, and NO YOU CANNOT TOUCH HER!" My voice raised as he reached to shake Aaralyn awake.
Stupid blue velvet boy withdrew his hand immediately. Good. Who knows what Victorian tricks he could have up those stupid shiny sleeves of his?

We sat there in silence for a few seconds and I tried to wake Aaralyn up, but with no luck.
Suddenly, stupid blue velvet boy broke the silence. "What is your name?"
"Cailean," I replied involuntarily, but inwardly winced immediately after. I probably should've told him some weird Victorian name like Thomas Waldorf Franklin The Third, The Knight.
... wait, were there knights in Victorian times?
... yeah, there were.

"My name's Benjamin," he replied.
I wish people knew these things.

"Whatever, didn't need to know that." I mumbled. I then realized that there were no longer any crowds around us. I saw stupid blue vel-- I mean, Benjamin, wave his hand a few seconds earlier, but I didn't know that him simply waving his hand could make people go away.
I wish I had that power.

Stup-- Benjamin suddenly reached over and grabbed my hand.
"DUDE, WHAT THE HECK?" I flailed again.
"I..." This guy's good at looking really hurt but honestly not very good at actually being hurt, otherwise he wouldn't have made the mistake of touching me TWO FLIPPING TIMES. "If you're not all right with being touched, that's fine. I'm sorry."
"No, it's not that I'm not okay with being touched, it's that you are touching me. I do not enjoy blue-velvet-wearing, people-shooing, good-looking--"
You just can't let guys who look better than you do know that they look better than you do, otherwise they get all arrogant.
Of course, judging by his jacket-y thing made of blue velvet, this guy was probably already pretty arrogant.

The silence that followed was very, very awkward.
And then Benjamin had the nerve to start laughing.
What the heck?

"Dude, stop." I gave him a nice hit to the shoulder. Not enough to hurt him (guys like him probably have some sort of a security team somewhere), but certainly enough to make him stop laughing.
"I'm sorry." He mumbled, holding in another one of his stupid laughs.
"Mmf," I mumbled back. I wasn't really one for words with my best friend laying unconscious on the floor.
Aaaaand he grabbed my hand again.
What is wrong with this guy?
"She's going to be all right," Benjamin said in what was probably meant to be a reassuring tone, but really nothing could reassure me at the moment.
... oh god, that sounded cheesy.
"Dude, stop touching me."
Benjamin scooted away from my place on the floor. "Sorry."

Suddenly, there was a hand on my face.
"OHMYGOD WHAT THE HECK ARE YOU--" I spun around to see that the hand belonged to a girl.
A very cute girl.
In a very frilly dress.
"Oh." I mumbled. I could practically hear Benjamin trying to hold in his laughter behind me. "I..."
The girl smiled. "I'm Samantha. Who are you?"
... ohmygod, what was my name again?
"C-Cailean," I stuttered.
Samantha giggled. "What a unique name! Come over here, my friends would like to meet you!"
I looked behind her and saw eight other girls huddled together, looking over at me and giggling.
Heck yes.
Wait, what about Aaralyn?
"I... can't, my friend--"
"I'll watch her." Benjamin said.
Could I really trust Aaralyn with that guy?
And yet... nine beautiful girls wanting to talk to me...
Nine girls.
Nine girls.

"Benjamin's a very responsible man! He'll take good care of your friend!" Another girl had come up behind Samantha.
Well, if the beautiful girls say so... and, I mean, it's not like Benjamin was a bad guy. He's too touchy. But maybe that's good. Aren't touchy people supposed to be ones that are the most responsible? Or maybe it was people who don't touch other people are the ones who are most responsible... well, I didn't care. If the beautiful girls said so, then it was so.

I got up, and, with a glance back to Benjamin (who was making no move to touch Aaralyn) headed over to the other side of the room.
My gosh, that was a good move. All the girls loved me! They laughed at my jokes! No girl has done that, like, ever, let alone nine beautiful ones at once!
And yet, I found myself looking back over to the other side of the room more than once.
Aaralyn has to be all right. She has to wake up. Right?

Chapter Nine:

Spoiler: show
"... repeat that, please?" Cailean blinked.
"There was a fire around here on August 24th, 1902. It burned down all of Rose Street-- or at least, that's what the records said." Aaron summarized.
Cailean stared, dumbfounded, at Aaron. "How do you know this stuff?"
"I'm very interested in the history of this area. There are so many amazing thi--"
"But there can't be a fire!" Benjamin said. "There can't. We-- we have to save everyone! We have to evacuate them!"

"Uh." Aaron raised his hand as Benjamin turned to head off. "We... you... can't... really... do that."
"And why not?" Benjamin stared at him. Between the two, I honestly thought Benjamin would win in the fight. He was a good four or five inches taller than Aaron, not to mention Aaron has some weird thing against violence.

"Ooh-ooh-ooh, I know this!" Cailean raised his hand like a child in elementary school. He stood there, waiting, hand still in the air.
"... yes?" I finally asked. "What is it, Cailean?"
Cailean found this to be suitable permission to continue. "It would create a... paradox thingy. One of those things where we'd go back to the present and everything would be all messed up?"
"But..." Benjamin said, trying to wrap his head around the situation. "Doesn't the present-- your present, that is-- take into account that you went back in time and did this?"
"Well, obviously not, since there was a fire and all and several people died--"
"AARON!" Cailean shouted, earning stares from everyone in the ballroom. "You can't just say that," he continued as quietly as he could manage. "Have you no decency, sir?"

Benjamin stood frozen in shock. "... died?" He turned to Aaron and grabbed his shoulders. "How many?"
"Uh... there were no official counts but they said 20-something--"
Benjamin deflated. "But there are only 12 houses on Rose Street."
"I... I'm sorry, but I can't contro--" Aaron started.
"Yes! Yes, you can! We can! We can stop this!" Benjamin said.
"But that would mess up the present--" Cailean started.
"Do you ever think about anyone but yourself?" Benjamin asked. He was starting to get angry, walking towards Cailean, backing him up against the wall. "Don't you understand that these people are my family, my friends? This is my life! Their lives! They will die if I don't help them! It's perfectly avoidable and you're telling me I can't do it? All because you're selfish and only care about yourself?"

Even though Cailean was slightly taller than Benjamin, he had shrunk back into the wall and I could tell he was on the verge of tears. If it was me, he would've been curled in a ball on the floor, sobbing already, but I guess he felt he needed to prove his manliness to Benjamin by simply cowering against the wall.
"I-- I don't--" Cailean stuttered.
"You don't what?" Benjamin hissed.
Aaaaand there he goes.
Cailean let out a single loud sob and slid down the wall onto the floor, wrapping his arms around his knees and continuing his sobbing quietly.

"... dude." Aaron stared at Benjamin, who seemed to be confused by Cailean's display of immensely unmanly behavior. And I, in turn, stared at Aaron, dumbfounded by his use of the word "dude". That had to have been the first time he said that. He usually used... senior-like words for others, such as "fine gentleman." (or at least I thought he did. I had no idea what seniors said to each other)

"It's not just about you," he continued. "I don't really know how I can prove this to you since I obviously can't drag my iPad in here to show you, but the future is pretty cool. Who knows how you could mess it up if you saved those 20-some people from dying? What if one of them would have become a serial killer that would have killed my great-grandparents, therefore I wouldn't exist?"
"I-what? ... never mind. I don't even know who your great-grandparents were," Benjamin grumbled. "That wouldn't happen. These are wonderful people living on Rose Street."
"Oh really? My great-grandparents lived around here for a few years. They very easily could have been killed by some crazy person that wouldn't die in the fire." Aaron retorted.
"Well, then, I probably know them, and you know what, I'll personally protect them, how about that? I protect your great-grandparents, you let me save my friends and family." Benjamin had to be a little louder to be heard over Cailean's growing sobs. "Who are your great-grandparents?"
"First of all, no way," Aaron stated right off the bat. "And second, my great-grandparents were the Carrolls."

Benjamin just stood there in shock. "... why yes, I do know the Carrolls..."

Chapter Ten:
Spoiler: show
Aaron stared back at Benjamin. “Oh really? You know the Carrolls?”
Cailean and I could only stand there in shock. There was no way…

“Uhhhhh, Aaron, dude?” Cailean was the one to speak up. “I don’t think you two have been formally introduced. Benjamin, this is Aaron, Aaralyn’s neighbor and double-A twin. Aaron, this is Benjamin… Carroll. The owner of Carroll Mansion, 23 Rose Street.”

Aaron joined Benjamin and myself in the moment of speechlessness.
“There…” Aaron stuttered. “There’s no way. This can’t be.”
“Well…” Cailean, ever the optimistic one (when he didn’t think the sky was falling), jumped in. “This is good, then! ‘Cause if you think that history takes into consideration that we came back to this house and did all this stuff… you were still born. So, like… no, wait, like… Aaron exists, so that means that Benjamin survived to have Aaron’s… grandparents! And…” By this time, I could tell that Cailean was just running his mouth. “And hey, Aaron, you found your long-lost great-grandpa! Isn’t that cool? I mean, like, it stinks that there’s going to be a fire and all… but at least we know Benjamin survives!”

“Cailean, you’re not helping!” Benjamin shouted. “This only complicates things further. What kind of dramatic theatre are we in?”
“… dramatic theatre?” Cailean mumbled. “It’s coming off as more of a soap opera to me, personally.”
“What in the world is a soap oper—“ Benjamin shook his head. “Never mind! This is just…”
“Really awesome?” Cailean clapped his hands.
“Cailean, I really wish you would stop trying to help…”

Aaron paused suddenly. “… do you hear that?”
“Hear what—“ I barely finished my question before I heard it. A barely audible sound that definitely didn’t belong in the early 1900s. I recognized the faint tune as my cell phone ringtone, but it was far away, like I was listening to it from underwater.

“… I don’t hear anything.” Benjamin shook his head.
“I do. Your phone, Aaralyn!” Aaron spun around to face me. “I can hear your phone!”
“It sounds like… like… why do you have One Direction as your ringtone? Ohmygooood, I hate that song!” Cailean groaned.
”What is it? A phone? Who carries around a phone?” Benjamin asked, completely lost.
“Aaralyn does, and it’s totally ringing! Does your dress have pockets?” Aaron looked like he’d just won the lottery.
“Uh, no, obviously it doesn’t… even if it did, I couldn’t find it…” I mumbled, ruffling the many voluminous layers of my stupid dress.
Aaron sighed. He stared down at his feet before snapping his head back up. “Go outside. Take your phone out of your pocket. Bring it back in here and see if it’s still ringing.”

Just as he said that, the ringing stopped.

“Phew.” Cailean sighed with relief. “Please change your ringtone.”
“Well, what now?” I asked Aaron, completely ignoring Cailean (he likes that song and everyone knows it).
“Do it anyways. Maybe they’ll call back.” Aaron said, practically shooing me out the door.

I walked through the curtain of freezing mist and pulled my phone out of the front pocket of my jeans. There was a notification on the screen saying I had one missed call from my mother.

How long have I been out here?

I almost didn’t get to finish that thought, either, as I realized the sky above me had turned a bright orange, and my phone’s screen shone brightly with 6:02 PM.

Double crud.

My phone started ringing again, loud and clear this time. I gripped the phone in my hand and practically made a mad dash back inside that was quickly cut short as my comfortable jeans turned into a stiff skirt with who knows how many layers of heavy fabric to it.

The ringing instantly became distorted, but the phone did not vanish from my hand.
As soon as I passed through the door, Aaron gaped at me.

“It… it worked?”
“Yeah. Mom was calling me, and I—“
“Your mother?” Aaron cut me off. “What time is it?”
“Liiiike six.”
“Crud!” Aaron gasped. “We’ve been here all day! People are going to put out amber alerts for you guys if you don’t get home, like, now!”
“Heeey, why do we have to be the ones to go home? You can’t just stay here and help Benjamin through his mental breakdown!” Cailean yelled.

“Listen. Benjamin. The fire isn’t for two weeks. We’re going to go home now. You cannot tell anyone about this, okay?” Aaron asked, and Benjamin nodded in reply, though his eyes never left my phone. He was probably totally weirded out by this weird device making a weird sound, and I didn’t blame him for that.
“We’ll… we’ll figure something out, bro.” Cailean put a hand on Benjamin’s shoulder, causing the latter to shrug it off immediately with a mumble of “don’t touch me.”

Aaron sighed. “Come on, guys, let’s go home. We’ll come back tomorrow.”
“I can’t.” I said immediately. “I have school. And… crud! I need to finish up that story writing project!”
“You could write about this!” Cailean suggested.
I rolled my eyes. “Do you seriously think the teacher—or anyone, for that matter!—would want to read about…” I waved my arms around, gesturing to the whole magical house. “This?”
“… I’d read it.” Aaron shrugged.
“Well, thanks Aaron, but I really need to start on—“
“What is that?” Benjamin finally asked, pointing at my phone, which I immediately shoved in my pocke—ohhhh that’s right, I don’t have pockets— er, put behind my back.
“Nothing you need to know about.” I shook my head violently, but Benjamin still looked curious. Well, I almost messed up the timeline…
“I—“ Benjamin started again.
“We’ve got to go.” Aaron cut him off. (Aaron’s really good at cutting people off) “We’ll be back before… you know.”

Benjamin just stared at us, looking like a kicked puppy. I didn’t think he was capable of being sad. Angry, sure, but sad?

And yet, he stood there and stared at us, completely defeated. He was two weeks away from losing probably half of his friends, some of his family… he could prevent all their deaths, but we weren’t going to let him.

His gaze made my heart break a little, but I could practically hear a crack on my right as Cailean collapsed into sobs yet again, only just seeming to grasp what was actually going on.

“BENJAMIN WE’RE SORRY!” He sobbed. Shockingly enough, nobody stared at us. I guess the other people in the ballroom were just used to Cailean by now. “We’re sorry about the fire and we’re sorry we won’t let you do anything about it and OHMYGOD I’M SO SORRY!” At his last yell (which I found more heartbreaking than Benjamin’s puppy-dog stare), he started to drop. I thought he was going to fall to the floor and continue his blubbering there, but, shockingly enough, he collapsed forward, throwing his arms around Benjamin’s neck, clinging onto him and sobbing into his shoulder.

Aaron facepalmed, murmuring something about how weird Cailean is. Benjamin looked wildly confused again, arms hanging at his sides, completely frozen in shock as Cailean continued his sobs of “I’m sorry, man, I’m sorry.”

Long story short, Aaron and I had to pry Cailean off and literally drag him out the door, regrettably leaving Benjamin standing there in confused, sad shock.

Cailean sobbed pretty much the whole way home. Aaron was nice enough to take him to his room while I walked across the street back to my house.

I was met with my mother, yelling at me for not telling me where I was going. I told her that I was just hanging out with Cailean, and she seemed to be fine with that.
I walked up to my room and sat in front of my computer, staring at the monitor.

The heck just happened?

Chapter Eleven:
Spoiler: show
Needless to say, I got no sleep that night. My project ended up being a jumble of words that didn’t really make sense. (yet I still got an 83% on it… not bad.)

I couldn’t focus at school the next day. All that was going through my mind was what is Benjamin doing now? Er… a hundred years ago? Has he told anyone? Did we somehow alter the timeline? Can the timeline be altered? Will Aaron randomly disappear, his being gone from the world, never being born in the first place?

I sat with Cailean and Aaron at lunch. We ate in silence while the five other people who sat at the same table with us (a couple of jocks, one of Aaron’s nerd friends, and two airheaded girls from my history class who believed that The Titanic was just a movie) blabbered on about football this, etymology that, “ohmahgaaaawd why am I failing, like, all of my, like, classes and stuff?” that…

Just a few minutes before the bell rang, one of the airheaded girls (Kelsey, I think) turned to me and asked, “like, Aaralyn… like, why are you not, like, talking and stuff?”
I shrugged. “I dunno. Didn’t get enough sleep last night. Had to finish my project.”
“OHMAHGAAAAAWD!” The other girl (Ashley) shouted. “I had to do, like, a project tooooo!! Ohmahgaaaaawd! I wrote mine about this WEREWOLF—not a vampire, like, a werewolf, one of those… furry things—who falls in love with an attractive, like, teenage girl who’s failing all her classes and stuff because the good boys aren’t just attracted to brains.”

I just about punched her. The squealing combined with the werewolf—I guarantee you that if vampires hadn’t been against the rules, she would’ve done her story on one of those—drove me insane.

But it was Cailean that snapped first. I was honestly waiting for him to, as the first thing he mentioned to me when I saw him this morning was that he got “negative sleep” the night before. I didn’t bother to ask him what negative sleep was, but whatever it was, it was definitely affecting him.

“That’s such a stupid story!” He yelled.

Kelsey and Ashley stared in surprised awe at Cailean. Usually they were fawning over him, so his sudden outburst had put them into a state of shock.
“C-Cailean…?” Ashley leaned across the table. “Like, what’s wrong? Of course it’s a good story! The werewolf I wrote about was really tall, and really funny, and kind of scatterbrained but you know—“
Cailean stood up and grabbed his tray. “¡Me voy!

With this, he turned around on his heel and stomped off.

I glanced over at Aaron, not entirely sure what Cailean had said. Apparently one of the symptoms of Negative Sleep was to randomly talk in Spanish.
“He said he’s leaving,” Aaron shrugged. “It’s basic Spanish, really. When you’re in Spanish IV like I am, you learn so many more ways to—“
“Whatever.” I got up, intending to go find Cailean, but just then, the bell rang, dismissing us back to our classes. I had to go to history with the two airheaded girls. Wheeee!

The rest of the day went by quickly, and before I knew it, I was getting in Aaron’s car, Cailean in the passenger’s seat, the three of us planning to go to one place and one place only.

“Yaaaaay!” Cailean clapped when we arrived, hopping out of the car immediately. “I’m totally gonna get a brownie sundae!”
“Those are expensive, and I’m paying, remember?” Aaron rolled his eyes.
“Thanks for taking us to the ice cream parlor, Aaron.” I said.
“It’s no problem.” He smiled. “I figured with such a stressful past couple of days, we all need to just relax for a while.”

“So…” I started as Aaron opened the door to the ice cream shop for Cailean and I. Cailean, of course, ran right up the counter and looked at the extensive menu of various flavors. This ice cream shop had everything. “When are we going back?”
Aaron paused. “Maybe… two weeks?”

“What?” Cailean immediately objected, interrupting his order for, yes, a brownie sundae.
Aaron shook his head. “We can talk about this when we’ve gotten our ice cream.”
Cailean pondered this for a moment before nodding enthusiastically and then finishing his order.

Once we had our ice cream, we sat down at the table farthest from the other people in the store.

“So…” Aaron was the first to speak. “When?”
He didn’t have to elaborate. Cailean and I both knew exactly what he was talking about.

“Tomorrow?” Cailean suggested.
“That’s ridiculous. We can’t become obsessed with the house.” Aaron shot back.
“I’m not obsessed with the house!” Cailean half-shouted. “I’m just worried! Worried about—never mind.” He stared down at his brownie sundae, poking at it with his spoon. Cailean didn’t like actual frozen ice cream for some reason. He liked it more as ice cream soup.

“Worried about what?” Aaron asked, looking about as concerned as he could (which was not very much) about Cailean’s emotional state.
“I said never mind,” Cailean growled, shoving a spoonful of melted ice cream into his mouth. “It doesn’t matter. When do you think we should go back?”
“… the day of the fire?”

Cailean and I both stared at Aaron in disbelief.
“What?” He shrugged. “It starts in the afternoon. If the time there is parallel with the time here—which it really does seem to be—then we should be good if we drop by there after school. We shouldn’t get too attached to the house—“ he glanced over at Cailean. “Or anyone in it. We can’t. They lived, emphasis on the past tense there, a hundred and ten years ago. They’re long gone now.”

“I wonder if any of them are buried anywhere,” Cailean mumbled faintly, gaze not having left his bowl of ice cream since the conversation started.
Aaron looked over at me, his expression practically screaming “do something to make him happy, please.”

But I was lost.
What could I do? Let Cailean live in the magical house forever? Take him to visit the graves of all the people who died? Even if Aaron and I could find the graveyard, I knew that would only make Cailean’s mood worse.

Before I could give some of my wonderful advice (something along the lines of "ummmm"), Cailean mumbled something else into his bowl of melted ice cream.
"Pardon?" I asked. For once, I couldn't hear him.
"I said it doesn't matter. The people in the house don't matter. That stuff already happened. We can go back in two weeks." Cailean mumbled a little louder, sounding more like a kicked puppy than a kicked puppy would.

Aaron nodded sympathetically. "It's going to be okay, Cailean. Don't worry."
Cailean let out a huff of "whatever," and we continued our ice cream eating in silence.

For something that took place nearly 110 years ago, this fire was impacting our lives now more than we could have imagined.

Side Story #2: Cailean Being Stubborn Again
Spoiler: show
-Cailean’s POV-

After Aaron took us to the ice cream place and then brought us back home, I decided to—
Okay, well, no, first I actually sat down and did my best to get my Spanish homework done. And then my algebra II (as stupid as Aaralyn thinks I am, I’m actually pretty good at math. Ha.) homework. And then my English homework, which consisted of reading another chapter of this stupid book about some stupid character that just sat around and did nothing and then some people died and that was about the only part of the book I liked and—

Oh yeah right, deep personal inner thoughts and stuff.

Got it.


After I did my boatload and a half of homework, I sat down at my computer.
My sweet, sweet computer.
Made of chips and… metal stuff and… more chips and… a bunch of parts I don’t know the names of, but oh my god, it was technology!

One really learns to appreciate technology more when they’ve spent way more time than the average person should in the past, in a magical house with nine beautiful girls and…


Now that I think about it…

Nine beautiful girls.


Nine beautiful girls.



I sighed in frustration, leaning back in my computer chair.

Because I’m all descriptive like that.
It really shouldn’t be called a computer chair.
I mean, sure, it’s a little old, a little worn out… but it has flipping ARM RESTS.

Okay seriously though back to my sighing in frustration.

I sighed in frustration, leaning back in my computer chair.

Suddenly, there was a knock at my door, interrupting my very important thoughts.

Without my spoken permission to enter, mom flung open the door with a "Why don't you go take Fluffy out on a walk? I'll come and get you two when supper's ready."
I opened my mouth, planning to immediately reject her suggestion, when I realized...

"Sure, mom!" I hopped out of my chair and ran to the living room to get Fluffy.

Have I mentioned to you how strong Fluffy is?

Yeah, so I may or may not have carried her on my short walk to Aaron's house.

Having two arms full of miniature poodle, I kicked the door to alert Aaron of my presence.
"Ye--" Aaron opened the door and stared at me for a few seconds. "What?"
"Hey man, I just met you yesterday and all, but could you take Fluffy for a walk? I need to do something important." I shoved Fluffy into his arms.
"KAY THANKS BYE!" I shouted over my shoulder as I ran across the street.

To be honest with you guys, I kind of missed the house.
No, like, I literally missed it and kind of got lost for a minute. (don't look at me like that. It was late, it was dark...)
But, thanks to my expertise in retracing my steps, I found the house on my... okay, my fourth try.

Normally, I would've been freaked out about all the vultures and the raccoons and the horrible night creatures that inhabit the house...
Okay, to be honest with you guys, I was freaked out about all the creepy crawlies. However, since I am TOTALLY NOT the wimp that Aaralyn makes me out to be, I simply was not very bothered by them.

I was so not bothered that, as a show of my manliness, I sprinted into the house.

And was immediately met by silence.

Why is it so quiet?
Ohhhh right it's nighttime here as well...

It was also pitch black.

Before I could even begin to search for some sort of flashlight (oh wait, they probably didn't have flashlights... candle? Yeah they probably had candles back then...), I heard someone behind me.


I couldn't help it.
I screamed like a little girl.
It was right out of a horror movie.
Dark room.
Person sneaks up behind you.
Seriously, how would you react?

"Cailean, calm down, it's me!" I was spun around to see Benjamin standing there with, yep, a candle.

"Oh." I sighed with relief. "Benjamin. It's you. Good."

"Why are you here?"
Why was I here?
"Well..." I mumbled. "I got bored...?"

Benjamin sighed. "So you decided to come to my house."
"Dude, you just asked that, like, five seconds ago!"
Benjamin let out an exasperated sigh. "Cailean, go home."

I stared down at my shoes.
Why could I never think things through?
Why did I keep inconveniencing people like this?
Why couldn't I just mind my own business like I was supposed to?

As I tried to breathe, I realized I was sniffling.
Now I was crying in front of Benjamin for, what, the eleventh time or something?

"Uh..." and for the eleventh time, Benjamin wasn't sure what to do.

After about ten seconds of awkward silence, I heard a sigh from Benjamin.
"Cailean, come talk to me."

I glanced up at him. He looked exasperated, but desperate.
With my throat still hurting from trying not to cry (we all saw how well my efforts worked there), I merely nodded. That seemed to be all Benjamin needed for a reply, as the next thing I knew, I was being dragged by the wrist down one of 23 Rose Street's many hallways that I hadn't explored during my previous visits here, as I had been too busy talking to beautiful girls.
Or crying.
But mainly talking to beautiful girls.

I spent a good couple of hours there that night, just talking to Benjamin. (I'm good at talking, just in case you guys didn't figure that out yet) It started out being mainly about depressing stuff such as, like, the fire and all the people that are gonna die and how we ("we" being myself and the double-A twins) won't let anyone do anything about it... but somehow, we ended up talking about... normal stuff. Stupid things we've seen other people do, our mutual hatred for raccoons, and a heated debate over the nine beautiful girls (whom Benjamin called "stupid and annoying" and, by the end of our conversation, I fully agreed with him)

I had no idea what time it was (had clocks been invented then?) but I could tell it was well past midnight. Through the wall of windows in his room, you could see all the stars, bright and clear, no clouds or light pollution to block them like there were in the present.

Benjamin's eyes suddenly widened, as if he'd only just then realized how long I'd been there. "You should go home, Cailean. Your parents are going to start wondering where you are."
"Why? What time is it?"
Benjamin rolled over and looked over at the clock (ohhhh okay, so those had been invented... but I doubt his had a radio) on the other side of the room. He only looked at it for a split second before rolling back over to face me. (how could he do that? I was still staring at the clock, trying to decipher what the weird pointy things were pointing to)
"About half past midnight," he replied.
"Crud!" I gasped, hopping out of his bed, my feet hitting the floor with an audible thunk. "Yeah, my parents are going to be ticked... Aaralyn could probably cover for me, though..."
"Just go. The longer you're gone, the angrier your parents will be," Benjamin urged.
I nodded and turned around, making a (very quiet) bolt for the door.

"Cailean?" I suddenly heard. I turned around on my heel, already halfway out the door at that point (oh crud, I was going to have to navigate the hallways...)
Another awkward pause. At least this time, I could take comfort in the fact that I wasn't the one who initiated it.
"Will you come back tomorrow?" I'd never thought that I would describe Benjamin's way of speaking as "meek," but this time it definitely was. The room was nearly pitch black (save for some moonlight coming in through the window), but I could see (heck, practically feel) that Benjamin was staring at me fairly desperately.
"Sure." I replied almost immediately, though feeling very unsure about half a second after I said that. If he's already learned the puppy dog eyes, what else is he going to pick up from me and surely use for... evil or... something?

But I did come back the next night.
And the night after that.
And the night after that.
Sometimes just for a few minutes, and sometimes I'd end up staying the night and having a small freak-out when I opened my eyes in the morning and was met by some hideous wallpaper that was most definitely not the poster-covered walls of my room.
Sure, Aaron was pretty ticked off to be taking care of Fluffy, and Aaralyn didn't seem to like covering for me by telling my mom I was just spending the night at her house, but neither of them flat-out told me "no" when I came to their doorstep with a poodle or a plea to please please please just tell my mom that I'm staying at your place.

The only night I didn't go to 23 Rose Street was the night before the fire.
I just couldn't.
I knew what Benjamin would want to talk about, and I had no idea how to respond.
How are you supposed to respond? "Sorry dude, your friends and family are just going to have to perish in the fire so we can keep the timeline right."
That was so stupid! These are people! With lives! We can't just let them perish in a fire.

There had to be something we could do to save them.

Chapter Twelve:
Spoiler: show
On the day of the fire, it was raining.
Of course.
I don't mean a light drizzle, either. I mean it was pouring.

So, when I heard a frantic knock at my door upon arriving home from school, I was not surprised to find a soaked Cailean standing there, looking very ticked off.
I thought he might have another manly moment there for a second, but he simply screamed a "I'M WET. DO YOU NOT SEE THIS?", made a high-pitched sound of frustration (I think), and stomped inside, shaking himself off like a dog.

"You could've brought an umbrella..." I said quietly as Cailean finished shaking out his hair.
"Wouldn't have helped," he tilted his head to the side (how he managed to get water in his ears, I'll never know) "The wind's blowing too much."

"Do you think we maybe shouldn't--" I started, but Cailean stopped his furious attempts to get the water out of his ears and stared at me like I'd grown a second head.
"Aaralyn, are you insane?"
Was I insane? A couple dozen people were going to die and I was afraid of going out in the rain?

Before I could formulate a complete thought, there was a flash of lighting, a clap of thunder, and suddenly Aaron was standing right next to us.
"Sup?" He nodded. He was equally as soaking wet as Cailean was when he came in, but Aaron didn't look like he was going to make any move to dry himself off as exaggeratedly as Cailean did. "Are we going to go... do whatever it is we're going to do?"
Cailean stared down at his sneakers, which were making the most annoying squeaking noise as he rubbed the tip of his left one on the wooden floor-- one of his many nervous habits that I'd noticed over the years I'd known him.

Aaron looked over at Cailean, puzzled. "Cailean, man, are you all right?"
"I..." squeeeeeak. "I don't really know..." squeeeeak. "If I want to go with you guys..." squeeeeak. squeak.
"Cailean, why not?" I asked. I already knew his answer. I just wanted to actually hear him say it.
"I don't really want to have to watch dozens of people die."

Aaron sighed. "Cailean, you kind of need to come. Please."
Another thing I'd noticed about Cailean; you could get him to do pretty much anything you asked him to do so long as you said 'please'.
And this time was no exception.

Cailean's head was still bowed down, still staring as his squeaking shoes, his normally tall and gangly frame seeming to shrink a foot as he physically and mentally slumped in defeat.

Aaron gave him a sad, sympathetic smile. "Come on. Let's go. I'll drive you guys."

Cailean's head suddenly snapped up.
"OOH. I can drive." He clapped, as if the sad, slumped over Cailean had never been there in the first place.
"I..." Aaron looked over at me warily-- I could offer him nothing-- and then back to Cailean. "Sure. If that makes you happy."

Driving with Cailean was a nightmare.
Even though 23 Rose Street was less than a quarter of a mile away, it seemed as if we'd driven across the state.

"Oops, my bad, that's the accelerator, not the brake!"
"Dude, I'm just kidding, calm down! Sheesh, who poured a bunch of paranoid in your cereal this morning?"
"I-I-- Cailean, maybe you should turn up here--"
"Turn? Okay, signal, signal... dude, where's your turn signa--"
"WHOOPS! Sorry, man! Sorry, cow! Wow, I bet that cow's going to have a lot to tell her therapist. Do cows have therapists? Maybe there's a whole secret world where cows have jobs and we just don't know about the--"

That last one was me, as I toppled over in the backseat, from which I had been silently-- up until then, I guess-- listening to Cailean and Aaron's casual conversation.
As I came back up (note to self; wear seatbelts whenever Cailean's driving, even if it's just across the street), the car had finally come to a halt. Cailean looked quite pleased with himself. Aaron's back was flush against the car seat, one hand on the door and the other on the emergency brake, which, miraculously, he hadn't pulled.

"So." Cailean nodded. "You're a bit of an uptight passenger, Aaron--"
"Get. Out. Of my car." Aaron said.
Cailean shrugged in reply and casually stepped out of the car. The rain had not let up-- it had gotten worse, if anything-- and he was instantly soaked, but he didn't seem to mind, still on his temporary happiness from managing to drive us a quarter of a mile without killing us-- barely.

Aaron followed almost immediately after, with myself being the last, as I had to take a moment to silently thank whatever deity may be out there for keeping Cailean from killing us. (or that cow.)

"Well then!" Cailean shouted over the rain and far-too-close booms of thunder. "Shall we go in?"
"Sure!" Aaron shouted in reply, and the three of us made a mad dash through the trees to the mansion.

Chapter Thirteen:

Spoiler: show
Upon arriving inside, we realized that, back in 1902, it was most certainly not raining.
So Benjamin looked reasonably confused to see the three of us dripping small puddles of rainwater, and Cailean shivering violently.

"Y-you..." He mumbled, standing up from his desk (apparently Cailean parked on the wrong side of the hill and we ended up running in through the back door) and cautiously walking over to us.

"It's raining." Cailean sniffled, though this time I could tell that it wasn't from sadness. (no, not at all; he was still pretty pleased with himself) "In 2012, I mean."
Benjamin paused and nodded. "Ah."

To be quite honest with you, I hated this whole clothes-changing thing. I went from a soaked-through hoodie, skinny jeans, and combat boots to a soaked-through dress with who-knows how many layers, stockings, and weird, buckled shoes.
Obviously, I would've preferred the former, and Cailean and Aaron didn't look too happy, either.

"Would you like me to get you a towel...?" Benjamin asked, cocking his head to the side slightly.
"It wouldn't do anything," Aaron shook his head. "So, how are you...?"
Benjamin glanced down at the floor. "I'm fine. About as fine as I will get, I suppose."
Cailean sniffled, and this time I could tell it was from sadness.
Oh boy, here we go...

"Benjamin, I..." Cailean started to mumble, but was cut off by what sounded like shattering glass in the distance.

The four of us rushed over to the wall of windows in what I guessed was Benjamin's bedroom.
"I don't see anything." I said.
Aaron squinted off into the distance. "Me either."
"Wait..." Cailean and Benjamin's eyes widened at the same time.

"No." Benjamin whispered.

I had never really gotten the time to appreciate how beautiful the other houses on Rose Street were.
And I certainly didn't have enough time then, as I watched the first one go up in flames almost immediately, fire shooting out of the chimney and spreading throughout the rest of the house.
The tree next to the house caught on fire.
The tree next to that caught on fire.
Then the next house was on fire.
And the next.
And the next.
Fire swept through the line of houses like a wave moving across the ocean.
I was frozen in fear. I had never seen so many houses go up in flames so fast.

But I noticed something.

The fire was getting closer, and closer, and closer. It just kept spreading, houses catching on fire one after another.
I finally started hearing the screams.
The screams of people-- Benjamin's friends, his family, his life-- who managed to escape their houses.
Screaming for help.
I felt tears well up in my eyes, but I was still paralyzed. I figured I wouldn't move from that spot for a week if this was to continue.

Cailean, however, didn't seem to be incapacitated.

"NO!" He screamed, turning around on his heel and dashing out the door, leaving a trail of drops of water.

Just as he reached the door, I realized...
The fire was here.
It had been here for quite a while now and I didn't notice it until I heard a large crack from outside the door.
Finally able to move, I spun around just in time to see a branch from the large tree outside fall, fire and ashes flying everywhere on its way down, hitting the ground with a sickening thunk.

And then, among the screams of the neighbors pleading for help, I heard Cailean's.

Chapter Fourteen:
Spoiler: show
Cailean’s scream broke us all out of our fixated trance on the fire.

“Cailean?” Benjamin made a bolt for the door. The three of us (“Cailean and his Double-A Sidekicks,” Cailean would refer to us as) had gone over this a million times; whatever happens, we cannot let Benjamin leave the house. So it was an involuntary action for me to reach out and yank Benjamin back by the collar of his shirt. I dug my heels into the floor while Aaron rushed out to attend to Cailean.

“Let me go!” Benjamin thrashed. I still have no idea how I was able to keep him in one place for more than two seconds with how much he was struggling.
“We can’t let you out of the house!” I shouted, the room now very loud over the sounds of crackling fire and screams.
Benjamin sighed in frustration, finally ceasing his struggling and slumping down on his bed, burying his head in his hands.

At this time, Aaron decided to re-enter the house, Cailean following close behind him, muttering a string of words I will choose not to write. I soon saw why—about half of his right arm was badly burned. The falling tree branch must’ve hit him.

Upon seeing Cailean, Benjamin sprung up out of his bed, running over to where Cailean was standing and muttering.
“Cailean! Are you all ri…” Benjamin trailed off when he saw Cailean’s arm. “Oh no! Cailean, they’re going to have to amputate!”
“Amputate?” Cailean laughed, a somewhat insane tone to his voice this time. “Dude, I’ll just run over to the hospital, it’s no…” He panted, and then he was wincing, backing up against the far wall, and, finally, fainting. Maybe from blood loss, maybe from pain, maybe from shock… I’ll never know. Cailean told me it was because the room had gotten so hot from the impeding fire, but I didn’t believe one word of that.
Benjamin caught Cailean just before he hit the floor. “You guys need to get out of here before anyone else gets hurt.”
“No.” Aaron said firmly. “We can’t leave.”

Aaron seems to have this problem where he says something and then something terrible happens, because, just as he said that, we heard another loud crack outside. Our heads snapped towards the wall of windows.
There was another tree collapsing as the fire took it over, this one falling towards the house.

“Okay,” Aaron gasped. “Run!”

The four of us—Aaron leading, me following shortly behind, and Benjamin, carrying Cailean, behind me—dashed out the door, the sound of crackling fire and the swift falling of a large tree hot on our tail. We landed on the tall grass of the yard with a series of loud thumps.

But those were the only noise.

I rolled over on my back, looking up.

The air no longer smelled of smoke, was no longer tinted with the orange glow of the impeding fire, was no longer hot and thick and hard to breathe.

The grass was… wet.

The sky was gray, a stark contrast to the bright blue it was just a couple minutes prior. A faint rumble of thunder boomed in the distance.

I looked over at where Aaron had landed beside me, and noticed he was back in his hoodie and jeans. He gaped at me just as much as I was gaping at him.
“We’re…” He sat up, and I followed, shivering slightly at my soaked-through clothes, which, as I had figured out about two seconds prior, were back to normal.

Aaron sighed, chuckling a little. “Well, duh, we left the house, didn’t we?”
I took a deep breath, only just now truly appreciating the clear air, however damp it was. “Where’s Cailean?”
“Over here.”
We turned around to see a fairly exhausted Cailean, arm still wounded but otherwise looking somewhat all right. But our focus wasn’t on Cailean for more than about half of a second, as our attention was diverted to the person next to him.

There sat Benjamin, no longer in stuffy Victorian clothes, but rather a very modern-looking ensemble; perfectly normal looking jacket, perfectly normal looking t-shirt with a band on it that I’m sure he would have never heard of, perfectly normal looking jeans, perfectly normal looking combat boots…

The four of us looked at each other, realization hitting us like a freight train.

Aaron and Cailean broke the silence in unison, one obviously quieter than the other.

“Oh my god.”

Chapter Fifteen:
Spoiler: show
“Well, this is bad.” Aaron mumbled.
“Very bad.” I agreed. “Benjamin, how…”
“Excuse me?” Cailean half-screamed. “Burned arm! Slowly bleeding to death! Help?”
“Right.” Aaron nodded. “First things first, let’s take Cailean to the hospital. Then maybe we can find out what happened with Benjamin. And no, Cailean, you are not driving.”
“Wasn’t planning on it.” Cailean winced.
“Why am I—“ Benjamin started.
“Everyone get in the car. Benjamin, I’ll explain this all to you later.” I stood up, brushing myself off. Aaron followed suit, and after a few moments, Benjamin finally seemed to regain his composure and stood up, carrying a protesting Cailean over to the car.
“… what is this?” He asked, staring at it like it was from the futu—well, it was from the future to him, I suppose.
“Just open the door.” Cailean sighed.
“The… door…”

“Got it.” I flung the door open, hopping in the back seat, Cailean flopping down next to me, and Benjamin finally, tentatively sitting in the front seat next to Aaron.

“Try not to bleed on my seats, bro.” Aaron shouted back to Cailean.
Cailean rolled his eyes. “Oh gee, I’ll certainly try.”
Aaron sighed, putting the key in the ignition. “Everyone buckled in?”
“What?” Benjamin tilted his head to the side. Aaron groaned and fastened his seatbelt for him, much to Benjamin’s dismay. “What is this?! Are you trying to trap me in here or something?!”
“No, man, these things are pretty important if you want to stay alive.”

Before Benjamin could ask what that meant, Aaron sped off.
While Aaron was almost certainly a better driver than Cailean, he was by no means the best. I was reminded of that fact as I noticed we were speeding along the road, swerving to avoid squirrels and cows, at a far faster speed than could be legally allowed.

“How fast are we—“ I started to ask.
“Eighty-five. Oops, I meant ninety.” Aaron mumbled, knuckles white as he gripped the steering wheel.
Benjamin looked like he was about to die. “What are we—how are we—what is—“
“For God’s sake, Benjamin, stop asking questions!” Aaron yelled as we flew over a hill. I could’ve sworn the tires left the road for a second. “Cailean, we’re almost at the hospital, don’t worry.”
“Mmkay.” Cailean nodded. He seemed far more alert since we arrived back in the present. “What’re we going to tell the emergency room?”
“Uhhhh you were barbecuing.” Aaron shrugged. “And you fell into the grill.”
“Dude. I fell into a grill? Nobody’s going to believe that!”
“And they’ll believe that you were hit with a burning tree branch a hundred and ten years in the past?”
“Well… but at least make up a better story than me being clumsy.”

I looked over at Cailean. “Technically, we’re all in this big mess because you were clumsy enough to fall into the house.”

“Okay. So how about we combine the two? A vulture pushed you back into a barbecue and you burned your arm.” Aaron suggested.
Cailean stared at him. “Haha, no.”
“Well, do you have any better ideas?”
“I… was fighting a bear!” Cailean stomped his feet happily in lieu of clapping.
“That doesn’t explain your burn.” I pointed out.
Cailean sighed. “The bear was… breathing fire.”
“We’re sticking with the barbecue story, Cailean.”
“But Aaroooooon!” Cailean whined. “Who would have a barbecue today? It was pouring.”
“You fell into the barbecue. They will assume you were stupid enough to have a barbecue in the first place,” Aaron replied. “Trust me, the emergency room has seen stupider.”

“Excuse me? Are you calling me stupid?”

“Well, maybe I am! If you had enough common sense to not go into the mansion, maybe we wouldn’t be in this situation right now!”

“I AM INSULTED!” Cailean screamed. “I WAS NOT THE ONE WHO WANTED TO GO INTO THE MANSION! Did I mention this enough already—A VULTURE PUSHED ME. A dirty, disgusting, disease-ridden VULTURE! Quite personally, the fact that you’re calling me stupid is totally invalid because, hmm, who helps you with your fashion homework? THIS GUY.”

“I’d be able to do my fashion homework if I actually wanted to take that stupid class! But noooo, the school says I have to have some sort of home ec class! Quite personally, the fact that you are in Fashion III concerns me, Cailean!”


“I’m just saying that maaaybe—“

“WHAT IN THE WORLD IS A BARBECUE?!” Benjamin shouted, silencing the car immediately.

“… we were talking about barbecues?” Cailean looked around, trying to remember the beginning of the conversation.
“It’s like a grill.” I said.
“A what?”
“Oh right, they don’t have grills.” I mumbled. “Uhh. It’s this big hot thing that cooks food outside.”
“Oh.” Benjamin nodded. “All right.”

“We’re here.” The car skidded to a stop. It took me a few seconds to realize we had been going 90 through the hospital’s parking lot. Aaron could’ve killed us all! Had Cailean been driving, he probably would have killed us all. “Come on, Cailean. Aaralyn, you stay here with Benjamin. I think he’d do more harm than good in the emergency room.”
“Can do.” I nodded as Cailean and Aaron headed into the emergency drop-off entrance at the front of the hospital.

“So.” Benjamin nodded awkwardly. “Tell me about these barbecues.”

Chapter Sixteen:
Spoiler: show
Thirty minutes later, I was just about ready to jump out of the car and walk home.

"You are telling me..." Benjamin sat there in deep concentration. "In 2012, people take animal carcasses..."
"Grind them up..."
"Form them into a 'patty' shape..."
"Put them on these 'grill' things..."
"Cook them..."
"Put them between two round slices of bread..."
"Put tomato-vinegar sauce on them, along with some strange Egyptian spice--"
"Mustard, yes."
"And cheese, and pickled cucumbers."
"Pretty much."
"And they are called 'hamburgers.'"
"... so why are they called hamburgers if there is no ham in them--"
"MY GOOOOOD BENJAMIN I DON'T KNOW." I banged my head on the back of the front seat-- the only thing keeping me from slapping Benjamin silly at the time.

Benjamin sighed, finally realizing that he would get no more useful information out of me if he continued being such a dunderhead.

"I wonder how Cailean's doing."
"Probably fine." I mumbled, head still against the front seat. "Those emergency room people know what they're doing. What about those people back at the house?"
"Wha--" His eyes widened. "Oh. Yeah."
"Okay, maybe that wasn't the best thing to bring up, but you've seriously mentioned Cailean like fifteen times in the past half hour. He's going to be fine, Benjamin. There are other things to discuss. Things that are not Cailean or hamburgers."

Benjamin nodded. "Yeah. By the way, what am I weari--"
My phone suddenly vibrated (as I had turned off my ringtone per Cailean's request)
"Oh hey, Aaron's calling."
"Will you ever explain to me what that thing is--"
"Shh, Benjamin!" I held the phone up to my ear. "Aaron, what's going on?"
"All right, ah, so... where do I begin... hmmm, Cailean has second-degree burns all up his right arm. Well, that's what they said at first. They brought this one doctor in and he said Cailean might have third-degree burns as well; they couldn't tell just by looking at it because he injured his arm pretty badly as well-- nothing's broken, by the way-- he got sent to the burn unit for intensive care but they said he should be fine." Aaron responded all at once. "They totally believed my barbecue story, by the way," he said smugly.

"So what do we do from here?" I asked.
A pause.
"I'll get Cailean's parents on the phone, try to convince them of the whole barbecue thing as well. You drive Benjamin back to the house-- very carefully-- and see if you can... put him back where he belongs."
"You seem doubtful that he will go back."
"Yes, I do."
"Random science-fictiony stuff you wouldn't understand. Just drive. And don't drive like Cailean. Or me, for that matter."
"Won't be a problem." I rolled my eyes. Cailean often made fun of me for driving 'like a granny,' but I just liked to think I was cautious.
"Okay. So. Once you get him all back in the house and stuff, drive back here. You should be back within like an hour or so. Cailean will probably want to talk to you. I'm pretty bad at comforting him and he's having random panic attacks. He's passed out like five times already."
"Yeah, he doesn't like hospitals," I mumbled. "So, see you in an hour or so-- wait, isn't the house only like ten minutes from here?"
"Yes, but you aren't exactly the fastest driver, Aaralyn."
"Whatever." I scoffed, chuckling a little. I hung up the phone and hopped out of the car, immediately seating myself in the driver's seat.

"All right, Benjamin, I'm taking you home."
"But-- what about--"
"Cailean's going to be fine," I buckled myself in and put the car in reverse. "Right now, our top priority is getting you out of this time period."
Benjamin slumped back in his seat like a little kid that had just been denied a trip to the toy store.
"Whatever," He parroted what I had just said a minute earlier.

The drive back to 23 Rose Street was slow and silent. Benjamin had his arms folded across his chest the whole time and I considered turning on the radio at one point, but realized he would probably freak out about it and proceed to complain about the music we have like all the other old people do.

As the car came to a halt, Benjamin immediately began fumbling with his seatbelt. "All right, how do you undo this contraption?"
"Poke the little red button."
"Like thi--" the seatbelt flew back. "Oh," he stared at the seatbelt. "That was strange."

"Come on, Benjamin," I hopped out of the car. Honestly, by that point, I was sick and tired of Benjamin. He acted like a little kid and an old man at the same time, marveling at the technology one minute and cursing it the next, constantly asking me questions about how things worked. And, at the same time, he acted like a teenage boy who had a major crush on some girl; that girl being Cailean. (... wait. That's not what I meant) Always worrying about him, wondering if he'd be okay, blaming himself for letting him get burnt, wanting to go inside and talk to him...
Benjamin had just become a very confusing person. I was almost happy to be getting rid of him.

... okay, that sounded mean (why am I being so confusing with my words today?), but I really just meant that I wanted him to be back in his own time so I wouldn't have to babysit him any more.

I had parked at the back of the house; a part I hadn't seen (well, in the present) before.
I gasped as I got a good look at it.
The entire back side of the house was black, burnt, only the skeleton of the house showing.

"... maybe we should go in through the front door," I suggested.
Benjamin just stared, not giving any reaction to the house at all as he walked around, back to the front door.

As the two of us stood there, he finally spoke. "This is depressing."
I almost laughed.
"This is what the house looks like in a hundred and ten years..." he kicked at the old chipped potted plant. Several large beetles crawled out of it. I jumped back. Benjamin had no reaction, once again. "I guess it kind of has to look better now."

Another thing that confused me about Benjamin; whenever he said "now," he meant a hundred and ten years ago. Whenever he said "in a hundred and ten years," he meant now. Seriously, what?

"What'll be there now?" He turned to me, looking genuinely scared for once.
"I guess we'll find out." I shrugged. The two of us stepped into the house together...

And were met with darkness.

The ballroom was torn up, floorboards broken, windows completely gone, letting only some sunlight in. The paintings were crooked and damaged, the once-gorgeous chandelier sat in the middle of the floor, glass shattered everywhere. It smelled of soaked-through wood, of mold and mildew, of spider's webs. The hallways were pitch black, the beautiful doors to the other rooms of the mansion gone, some of them lying on the floor beside the doorways. Other hallways led to the back of the house-- burned, gone. It was silent. No birds chirped, no hustle and bustle of people-- even none of the screams for help I had heard just a couple hours ago. (or a hundred and ten years plus a couple of hours ago) The air was stale and there was a feeling of death to the whole place.

"Two hours..." Benjamin clenched his hands into fists. "We're gone for two hours and this happens!" He screamed, punching his fist into the walls, grey with dust, his fist going clean through the damaged wood. He didn't seem deterred by this, though. "I could've been there! I could've kept this from happening!"

As Benjamin continued his rage, I looked around more. Out the windows, the sky was overcast. The yard was overgrown with weeds, the stone path worn and chipped...


"Benjamin." I grabbed his shoulder just as he was about to punch through another wall.
He flung my arm away. "What?!" He shouted.
"Look around you."
Benjamin continued huffing as his eyes scanned over the place.
His huffing slowed down as he looked out the windows.
"There... there's no way--"
His and my eyes looked down the same hallway at the same time. Down the hallway, out through the burned back side of the house, sitting in the overgrown yard, was a blue Kia.

We looked back at each other. Benjamin was still wearing his jacket, t-shirt, jeans, combat boots... upon further inspection, I was still wearing my hoodie, skinny jeans, and boots, not some fancy frilly Victorian dress.

"We..." Benjamin spun around. "We didn't..."
"How did we--" I practically mirrored him, walking outside and back in with no change happening, the same dirty, dusty, destroyed ballroom of modern times still staring back at me each time, taunting me.

This continued for about five minutes before I pulled my phone out of my pocket and dialed Aaron's number.
"What's up?" Aaron casually responded.
I rubbed the back of my neck. "Aaron, we have a bit of a problem."

Chapter Seventeen:
Spoiler: show
Aaron stood in the middle of the ballroom-- er, what was the ballroom about a hundred years ago. As soon as he stepped into the house, he seemed to turn into Cailean, completely flipping out, his brain, however senior-ly it was, as unable to comprehend what had happened as mine was.
Over the past half hour, I had driven back to the hospital in a daze with Benjamin in the passenger's seat, picked up Aaron, listened to him ramble about how it was physically and theoretically impossible for the house not to be magical any more, arrived back at the house, and watched Aaron freak out.
Benjamin stood beside me, silently observing Aaron's mental breakdown.

"No. No, no, no, this can't happen. Do you know what this means, Aaralyn, if the house is... broken?"
I shook my head.
"I won't exist!"
I gasped.
Aaron paused. "No, wait... I still exist. Right? I'm still here, right?"
I nodded. "I'm pretty sure you are."
"So we haven't messed up the timeline. This timeline must take into account what we will do in the future." Aaron paced the length of the ballroom, his voice reverberating hollowly against the walls. "So the house isn't broken!"
"Well, that's fine and dandy. How do we fix it?"
"I..." Aaron paused. "I don't know."

Benjamin sighed in the kind of mock-frustration that I had seen Cailean use whenever faced with a math problem that involved more than three Xs or Ys. "Well, how did it 'break'?"
"I don't know that, either." Aaron stopped his pacing. "What if... the fire..." he started attempting to form complete thoughts. "Or maybe the fact that you somehow managed to get out of the house broke its... time gateway or whatever. Or maybe it just... wore off. I don't know."

"It couldn't have been him," I said. "Because if removing Benjamin from the house was the problem, then putting him back would have fixed it."
"True," Aaron shrugged.
"So... what do we do now?" I asked.
Aaron paused for a moment. "Well, we have the whole weekend to get him back. Benjamin, have you ever had an ice cream cone?"
"A what?"
Aaron grinned. "Come on. Get in the car."

So we piled into Aaron's car, Benjamin in the passenger's seat yet again.
"This isn't really what I'd call ice cream weather..." I mumbled. It was overcast. It was rainy. It was about fifty degrees outside. People were huddled up in their houses, lounging around and hoping tomorrow would be a better day.
"Well..." Aaron shrugged as we drove off. "The parlor won't be crowded, I guess."

The three of us sat there in the ice cream parlor. Benjamin was making a fool of himself having the time of his life.
"This stuff is great!" He stared in awe at his mint-chip cone. "We don't have anything like this. Not even close!"
Aaron suddenly paused, spoon in mouth. He promptly removed it and pointed it at Benjamin.
"You can't tell anyone back then anything you saw today."
"It'll mess up the timeline, dude!" Aaron sighed.
"Oh." Benjamin stared down at the cone.
"Don't worry. Those'll be invented in, like, two years." I shrugged.
Benjamin's eyes lit up. "Really?"
I couldn't help but laugh. "Yes, really."
"You've been hanging around Cailean too much."
"No, I haven't! Oh my god, chill out, I'm fiiiiine, dude. Perfectly normal!"
I stared at him, not bothering to say anything.
I nodded. "Yeah, dude."

Cailean's still in the burn ward. Doing better than he was, though. His burns are healing more quickly than the doctors anticipated. He should be released Monday.

Tried to put Benjamin back in the house today. No success. Will try again tomorrow.

Benjamin talked on the phone to Cailean today. Note to self; never give Benjamin a phone again. Also, he seems to be addicted to Angry Birds and I've managed to get him to listen to some One Direction.

Attempted to put him back in the house this afternoon. No success. Aaron's getting panicky.

Once again attempted to put him back in the house at exactly 11:08 at night as well. No success. Aaron flipped out. Also, second note to self; mansion is significantly creepier at night.

Cailean just got released from the burn ward. He somehow managed to convince his parents that Benjamin was one of his friends from school who 'has a bad home life,' so he's staying over at Cailean's house now.

School in five hours. Cailean says he doesn't trust Benjamin at home by himself. I won't be surprised if I see him dragging Benjamin around school tomorrow.

~11:49 AM, MONDAY~

I shoved a spoonful of macaroni and cheese into my mouth. "I wonder where Cailean is."
Aaron shrugged.
"Ohmahgaaaaawd," Kelsey whined. "Where is he?"
"I could've sworn I saw him this morning," Ashley practically shrieked in that shrill voice of hers. "I tried to say hi to him, but he was talking to some other guy that I didn't know."
I looked up from my semi-edible lunch. "What?"
"He was with this one really hot guy!" Ashley gabbed. "He was almost as tall as he was, and had a leather jacket, and skinny jeans, and combat boots and ohmahgaaaaawd he's like one of those mean, sensitive rocker guys!!"
"Oh yeaaaah!" Kelsey said. "I saw him, too! His haaaair. Did you see his haaaair?"
"Did I see his hair, girl?" Ashley giggled. "It looked soooooo fluffy! I just wanna run my hands through it!"
"You can't reach." Aaron mumbled through a bite of his chicken sandwich.
Ashley gave him something that I think she intended to be a death glare, but looked more like a mildly annoyed glare.
"You're too short. You probably couldn't reach the top of his head if you stood on your tiptoes."
"OOOOOOOH." The boy sitting next to me gasped. "I'm sorry Ashley, would you like some ice for that BURN?"

Oh, I'm sorry, I probably haven't introduced this boy to you.

Meet Brevyn. We call him Brad because, well, it's easier to say.
He's Cailean's best guy friend, and one of my best guy friends as well. He was a sophomore, like me, but had a few elective classes with Cailean. He stood a solid half-foot shorter than him but was around the same build; pretty skinny with long limbs. In contrast to Cailean's crazy-but-occasionally-sane personality, he was the polar opposite-- calm, cool, and collected most of the time, but he had his crazy moments. They were getting more and more frequent the more he hung out with Cailean.
He was the school's resident "pretty boy," with fairly feminine features. He was always seen wearing some fairly casual (yet somehow impeccably clean) clothes with a healthy dose of guyliner. He was in pretty much every extracurricular activity the school had to offer-- art club, band, swimming, quiz bowl, theater... he was basically the king of the sophomore class. Yet, somehow, he always ended up sitting at the table with me-- a normal-ish girl, Aaron-- the nerd of the senior class, the duet of Kelsey/Ashley-- a black hole in the school's intelligence, and Cailean-- "that crazy tall kid."

... only today, Cailean wasn't there.
Ashley gaped at Brad. "Oh my god. WHAT did you just say?"
I guess to Ashley-- the popular, pretty cheerleader who was considered to be the wannabe popular girl of the sophomore class-- being insulted by both a senior and the king of her own grade was like a slap in the face.

I very much enjoyed watching the fight that flared up between them and was over as early as it started, Aaron stepping in and preventing Brad from throwing a half-eaten pop tart at the blonde cheerleader.

Just as the two of them seemed to calm down slightly, Ashley finally relaxing as Brad finished his pop tart, Cailean waltzed over to the table-- not literally this time-- with a very familiar guy being dragged by the wrist behind him.

"Sup?" Cailean asked casually, opening up his lunch box to reveal his typical "it's-monday-and-i-don't-want-to-eat-the-school-food" lunch of leftover pizza, carrot sticks, and a pudding cup.

Kelsey and Ashley gaped at the boy sitting next to him.
"GAAAWD!" They shrieked in unison. Cailean jumped up about a foot at the sudden outburst.
Before my brain even registered who the boy was, they were asking him questions.
"Who are you?"
"What's your name?"
"Where are you from?"
"You look so exotic!"
"Are you new here?"
"Do we have any classes together?"
"Are you a senior?"

The boy-- who I now realized was none other than Benjamin-- stared back at them like a deer in the headlights.
Cailean had finally composed himself. "Give him a break, girls. This is Benjamin. He's a foreign exchange student from..." He paused. "Finland."
Kelsey and Ashley gasped. "FINLAND?"
"Do you speak Finlandish?" Ashley batted her eyelashes.
"Uh." Benjamin mumbled, sending the girls into a swooning fit. "No. I come from that... one... English-speaking part of... Finland."
"Oh, that's still pretty cool!" Kelsey nodded. "So tell me, Benjamin... are you a new student here?"
"Nope. Just... visiting for... a few days... hopefully less than that..." He looked down at his lunchbox-- Cailean's backup lunchbox-- no doubt trying to figure out what the strange triangular pieces of bread topped with cheese sitting there were.
"Yeah. He won't be here long. He's just visiting." Cailean nodded.

"So, what hotel are you staying at?" Brad asked.
Before Benjamin could say something stupid and old-- like "what's a hotel," probably-- Cailean answered for him.
"He's not. He's staying at my house."
Brad raised an eyebrow. "Oh?"
Cailean nodded. "Yep."
"So, you're just visiting by yourself, Benjamin?"
"Yeah." Benjamin answered.
Brad's face turned to one of disapproval as he went back to poking at his lunch with his fork.
"Cailean," he mumbled in what I could tell was a forcedly casual voice, eyes not leaving his plate. "Didn't know you were having a guest... from Finland... he's a friend of yours?"
Cailean nodded, but then, realizing that Brad couldn't see him, replied with "yeah."
Brad stabbed his fork through a half-frozen piece of chicken with a sickening cracking sound that silenced the table.

Even though the hustle and bustle of the 400 other kids in the cafeteria continued on around us, it was as if everything was dead silent.

"Well then," Brad finally stood up, grabbing his tray. "I don't think I'm hungry any more. Half-frozen chicken, you know..." He shrugged. "Bell's gonna ring in a few minutes. I think I'll start heading back to class now. See you later, Cailean, if you're not too busy with him."

With that, he walked off.

The table was once again silent for a few seconds before a girl I knew semi-well leaned over from the table next to ours.
"The passive-agressiveness radiating off of Brevyn is blinding. What did you guys do?"
"I don't know." Cailean shrugged, the picture of innocence.
We all looked over at him.
"... what?" He blinked.
"Somebody's jealous of Cailean's new best buddy!" Another girl from the other table, which happened to be so close to us that there was less than a foot of space between her back and Cailean's, sang.
Cailean looked confused. "Why would he be jealous? He's still, like, one of my best friends."
"Who knows why Brevyn does anything?" The girl back-to-back with Cailean sighed. We all nodded, accepting that as a suitable enough answer.
Just then, the bell rang, sending us 400 kids out to our next class and another 400 in to eat lunch. Benjamin somehow made it through a piece of the pizza and a carrot stick, whereas there was not a crumb left of Cailean's lunch.

As we headed back to class, I ended up walking side-by-side with Cailean and Benjamin.
"So..." I started. "How'd you get him in here?"
Cailean laughed. "There's an upside to being a teacher's pet. You get to know people. High-up people. Those people end up trusting you. They end up trusting you so much that when you walk in the door with a random stranger and say he's an exchange student from Finland that'll be here for a few days, they totally believe you! They didn't even bat an eye at me. Just 'all right, sweetie, just make sure he doesn't disrupt any classes!' It's great!"
"That's fine and dandy, but... how long will he be here for?"
"Until we get him back," Cailean shrugged.
"Which will be...?"
"I don't know. Aaron said he'd work out a bunch of theories and physics and study up on time travel and 'gates' and stuff like that. Could be tomorrow. Could be a week. Could be a month. I just don't know."
I sighed. "Well, Benjamin, I guess you'll just have to get used to eating the lunches here four days a week."
"If the lunches here are anything like the half-frozen chicken that Brevyn--"
"Brad." Cailean corrected him. "We call him Brad."
"Brad, I mean-- was eating, then I'm not sure how I'll like the food here..."
Cailean laughed. "Welcome to high school, bro!"

Side Story #3: Sleepover at Cailean's!
Spoiler: show
-Points of View change—watch out for them.
-I was very tired (as I type this right now, it’s 10:49 in the AM and I want to be done with school and home in my bed so I can be napping) and I was periodically stopping to read homestuck distracted while writing this
-It’s Cailean. It might give you a headache. XD

-Benjamin’s POV-
Here I sat on Cailean’s bed, playing this wonderful game known as Angry Birds on some flat, shiny thing. How did I live before this?
… all right, that might sound silly. Granted, there are many things in this time period I do not like, such as those Five Directions boys and their terrible music that somehow seems to make young girls swoon, or this thing called Reality Television in which people stand around and scream at each other.

I tried to stay away from that Television thing. Not only did I not have a clue how it worked, but about ninety five percent of the things on it were absolutely ridiculous. Just the other day, I sat down in front of the strange device and it told of a man from England who time-traveled in some sort of blue box.

Does nothing make sense anymore?

I looked over at the device called an “alarm clock” and it said that it was 4:00 in the afternoon. Cailean should be home from his club meeting any second…
As if on cue, the door burst open and in came Cailean, hauling his bag of books behind him.

“Hey Benjamin! Wanna have a sleepover?” He inquired joyously, throwing the bag of books on the floor and jumping on the bed next to me.

“A… sleepover?” I had some idea of what he was talking about, but with how confusing this year is, a sleepover could be a form of barbecue for all I knew.
“Yeah! A sleepover, a pajama party, a slumber party! Girls do it all the time and they seem to think it’s fun. Aaralyn’s going to one tonight so I’m gonna be all lonely,” he pouted. “Didn’t they have slumber parties back in ye days of olden?”
I was not sure what these “ye days of olden” nor these “slumber parties” were. I simply shook my head.

“Oh.” Cailean blinked. “Well, uhhh… from what I’ve heard from Aaralyn’s sleepovers, it’s a bunch of girls sitting around and complaining about boys and braiding their hair and stuffing their faces with pizza and watching scary movies.”
My brain locked on the word ‘movie.’ “Please, Cailean,” I groaned. “I don’t want to watch Twilight again.”
“Oh, not like Twilight. Twilight is a comedy, not a scary movie, dude.” Cailean rolled his eyes. “Like, scary movies. Or you know maybe we should start off with something a little tamer for you. Liiiike… Finding Nemo.”
“Does it involve vampires?” I asked.
Cailean laughed. “Nope. It’s about talking fish.”
I groaned. “Why do your movies have to be so weird?
“Well, excuse me.” Cailean folded his arms across his chest. “That’s what normal people that live in this time do for entertainment.”

“Watch movies about talking fish.”
He nodded. “Yep, pretty much.”
I sighed. “All right.”

“Yay!” Cailean clapped his hands—something that I had learned he was fond of doing.

“Who else will be coming?”
Cailean paused, looking confused. “Can’t a sleepover be with just two people? Because… sleep. Over.”
“Don’t we do that every night, then?” I asked.
“Not with pizza and Finding Nemo, we don’t. Come oooooon, Benjamin, I’m boooooored.”
“I thought you had homework.”
Caielan glared over at his book bag. “Yes, I do.”
“And it’s Tuesday. Don’t teenagers usually do things on the weeken—“
“BENJAMIIIIN.” He reached across me to grab both of my shoulders and shook me side-to-side violently. “COME ONNNN.”
I guess I really have no choice, seeing as I’m already here…

“Sure.” I shrugged.
“Yay!” Cailean released his grip on me to clap happily again.
“However…” I mumbled. Cailean ceased his clapping. “I can’t help but feel that there should be other guests since that seems to be the norm…”
He sighed. “I don’t know if you’ve figured this out by now or not, Ben, but I’m not exactly ‘the norm.’ But y’know… I guess I could invite Aaron and Brad over.” He shrugged.

~8:00 PM~
-Cailean’s POV-

Just as the sun set, the four of us—Aaron, Brad, myself, and Benjamin, in that order—were huddled up on the couch, watching Finding Nemo and eating fairly insane amounts of pizza.

It’d taken a bit of convincing to get Aaron to join our little slumber party, seeing as he’s apparently some big hot-shot senior who doesn’t socialize with petty little freshmen such as myself. But I guess he came along to keep Benjamin from saying something such as “BACK IN MY OLDEN DAYS OF 1902…” in front of Brad.
Y’know though, Benjamin was behaving himself pretty well. Hadn’t said a word all night. I contemplated kicking Aaron out for a moment, but then realized that would leave me between passive-aggressive Brad and “YE OLDEN THEREFORE ART THOU” Benjamin.


Just as Nemo was about to escape the dentist’s office (WHOA SPOILER ALERT THERE SORRY YOUGUISE), I glanced down to the coffee table to realize…
“Outta soda!” I stood up and walked hastily (one of the fancy words Benjamin taught me) to the kitchen, opening the fridge and pulling out a few more bottles.
Just as I turned around to start heading back to the living room, I just about walked into Brad.

“Whoa!” I stopped in my tracks. “Scuse me, dude.”

As I headed back to the living room, something struck me.

I backtracked back into the kitchen.
“Why are you in here?” I asked Brad, who was busy eating a baby carrot. “I was getting the soda.”
“Veggie tray,” he gestured over to the long-forgotten, sad tray of veggies. I hated those things.
“Duuuude. Who eats veggies at a pizza party?” I rolled my eyes. “Come on, let’s go back and watch the movie; I think you’re really gonna like the part where—“


I shut my mouth before he could go on a passive-aggressive rage again.

“Who is Benjamin?”
I shrugged. “He’s my friend from Finland, remember? Why do you ask?”
“There’s something off about him.” Brad crossed his arms, shoving a cherry tomato in his mouth.

“Well, he’s from Finland. They’re… weird there. The snow makes them crazy. Snow sickness. Scandinavian snow sickness. It’s a horrible mental disorder. Don’t bother looking it up; American doctors don’t know anything about it—“

“Cailean, shut up.” Brad rolled his eyes. “I know he’s not really from Finland.”
“Well, where do you think he’s from, then?” I asked defensively. Heck, who am I kidding? He’s never going to guess that Benjamin’s from the past. Canada, maybe, but not the past.
“Not around here,” Brad glanced at a spot on the floor beside him. “It’s just… you never told me about him.”

“Whoa, dude, since when do I tell you everything?”
“Well, since never, I guess, but…” He sighed. “I’ve never heard of this guy. Certainly, if you had a friend from… somewhere not around here, I’d have heard about him.”
“So what are you getting at?”

“I’m getting at the fact that you aren’t telling me anything about him! He shows up out of nowhere and suddenly it’s like he’s been your best friend forever. It’s sketchy, Cailean, and I don’t like it. I don’t like the two of you. There’s something up and I feel like a piece of crud because you’re not telling me!”

By the end of his attempted rage, he was yelling. I knew Aaron and Benjamin could hear us, but hopefully they were too enamored with the antics of Dory to really care.

On the other hand, I, standing there, had no real response for what Brad had just said. I couldn’t make him feel any better, really, without telling him.

I had to tell him.

He’s Brad.

But instead, I had another one of those teenager moments and ended up saying the first thing that came out of my mouth. Unfortunately, that thing happened to be “What are you, my girlfriend?”

Woooow, genius. THAT was a bad idea.
Yes, conscience, I know it was a bad idea to say that! Why didn’t you stop me?

As to be expected, Brad turned around and stomped out of the kitchen.

I wanted to stop him. I really did. I wanted to stop him and tell him about Benjamin. But he wouldn’t believe me. He’d never believe me. What proof did I have? The house is broken. He’d say I was lying, call me crazy, put me in the cuckoo house! Even with Aaron the history geek to back me up, the whole thing seems highly improbable. (another word I learned from Benjamin. This whole thing is proving to be very educational for me.)

So I just settled for sighing in frustration and following him back into the living room, sitting down on the couch dejectedly. I considered doing my sad-puppy act, but seeing as it was mostly dark, I figured it probably wouldn’t be as effective.

~11:00 PM~
-Brad’s POV-

Cailean has to be one of the most stupid, insensitive, deceiving people I’ve ever had the displeasure to know.

I could go on about this, but I won’t for time’s sake.

It was 11:00 at night. The four of us were still up, but only barely. Aaron had suggested we watch another movie and somehow we ended up in the middle of watching Mean Girls when we all started to get tired. It was a weekday; we honestly weren’t expecting to be awake past 10:00.

Cailean was dozing in and out of sleep on the couch and I was about to start doing the same. Aaron, however, had fired up the coffee maker and was sitting on the floor next to Benjamin drinking some form of a latte.

“Guys, I think maybe we should consider sleeping or something,” Aaron casually suggested. I found it somewhat ironic that he was the first one to suggest sleeping and yet was the widest awake at the moment. “We have school tomorrow.”
“Good idea,” Cailean mumbled sleepily. “G’night.”
With that, he was asleep, face buried in one of the throw pillows laying on the couch.

Aaron half chuckled, getting up from his spot on the floor. “Cailean keeps some sleeping bags in the hall closet. I’ll go get some.”

And so Benjamin and I were left the only two conscious beings in the room.

I might as well interrogate him. Not like I’ll get much of anything out of him, though.

“So, Benjamin,” I said.
“Are you really from Finland?”
“… yes…”
“Good, then.” I pulled Cailean’s geography textbook off of the coffee table, where he had put it to hastily finish some of his homework for tomorrow. I opened it to a page showing the map of Europe. “Where is it? Just curious.”
“Uh…” He stared at the map, looking for any markers, any of the black writing that plainly said “FINLAND” across it.

Finally, he pointed to Italy. “There.”

“There?” I asked.
“… yes.”

I slammed the textbook and set it back down on the table. “Who are you?”
"Benjamin Carroll.” He replied almost robotically.
“Benjamin Carroll, yes.” I nodded. “Where are you from?”
He paused, looked over at Cailean—still fast asleep on the couch and mumbling something about fluffy bunnies in his sleep—and then looked down at the floor. “Right across the street,” He mumbled.
“Really? Then how come I’ve never seen you before, ever? I thought Cailean, Aaralyn, and Aaron were the only houses on the street that had kids in them?”
“… no.” He shook his head meekly.
“So whose kid are you, then? The Smiths? The Parkers? The Bennets? I’ve never heard of these Carroll people. Tell me the truth, Benjamin. Cailean’s asleep. He can’t hear you.”
“I told you, I live right across the street.” Benjamin said. I was about to interject when he added to his statement. “On the hill.”

I blinked. “The hill?”
“The one with the old house on it?”
He blinked. “How did you know about it?”
“I stumbled onto the property by accident once. Wasn’t the old house all torn down and stuff? Like, abandoned ever since the 1950s or something?” This wasn’t making sense at all.

“Yeah. I lived there.”

I paused. “… no you didn’t.”
“Yes, I did. I lived there a hundred and ten years ago.”


“Dude, seriously. Who are you and where are you from?”

“My name is Benjamin Carroll, I live right across the street on the top of the hill and I’m from the year 1902.”

“Pfft.” I scoffed. “If you’re really from that year…” I pulled out my phone and did a quick Google search for his name. “Then searching it up will—“
Benjamin Carroll
Owner of Carroll Mansion, 23 Rose Street, 1902-1920

A picture of a guy who looked exactly like him.
A picture of the house across the street, on the hill, in its prime. Carroll Mansion, 23 Rose Street.

I gaped at Benjamin, looking back and forth from him to the picture and back to him again.
I shook my head. “No. No. I’m just… tired is all. There’s no way…”

“Found ‘em!” Aaron tromped back into the room, three sleeping bags in his arms, terminating the suddenly quite interesting conversation I’d been having with Benjamin.

“Cool.” I nodded briefly, standing up and grabbing one. “I’m tired now. I’ll be going to bed. Good night.”
This has to be a dream. Or maybe I caught that Scandinavian Snow Sickness from Benjamin. Who knows…

~12:00 AM, Wednesday~
-Aaron’s POV-

Both Benjamin and Brevyn seemed kind of out of it. I guessed it had something to do with Brevyn and Cailean’s fight in the kitchen about Brevyn being all jealous of Benjamin or whatever. I didn’t want to ask. I had a calculus test the following day. I couldn’t get myself all involved in this weird guy-drama before it or I’d flunk for sure. Having Benjamin and the house to worry about was enough for me.

Chapter Eighteen:
Spoiler: show
And here I was on Wednesday, sitting at the normal lunch table with Cailean, Aaron, Brad, Kelsey, Ashley, and now Benjamin.

I didn’t know how Cailean managed to do it, but nobody had really noticed Benjamin yet. The teachers were still convinced he was a foreign exchange student from Finland. I knew it was only a matter of time until they found out…

I wondered if Aaron had even been working on anything.

“Aaron,” I said as soon as he finished his chicken sandwich. “Could we talk out in the hallway for a moment?”
Aaron shrugged. “Sure, I guess.”
I hastily dragged Aaron out into the hallway and checked to make sure we were somewhat alone. Since it was lunch, the halls were completely empty. I noticed that the art class across the hall had left their door open, so I figured I’d still have to be fairly quiet.

“So,” I started. “How’s that thing with the house going?”
Aaron sighed. “I’ve been doing all the research I can, but stuff just doesn’t add up.” He anxiously ran a hand though his hair. “It doesn’t make any sense. “
“I know it doesn’t make any sense,” I said. “But aren’t you supposed to be mister smart senior guy who knows the answers to everything?”
“Not this time,” He mumbled. “I guess taking Benjamin out of the house kind of altered the… gate. Technically, we weren’t supposed to get into the house, right?”

I nodded.

“So Benjamin wasn’t supposed to get out of the house.”
“But I saw him leave the house and go into the gardens once—“
“I mean out into our time.”
“Oh,” I nodded.
“So he wasn’t supposed to go into the future and we weren’t supposed to go into the past. So the gate was broken one way. And it got broken a second way when Benjamin left. So now it’s….”
“Fully broken?” I finished.
“Yeah,” He said. “So now it doesn’t work either way."

“Well, that stinks,” I muttered.
“Yes, it does stink, but now we have to figure out how to fix it.”

“Or break it a third time.” I shrugged.
Aaron blinked. “… what?”
“Like, in math, multiplying a number by a negative makes it negative. Doing it again makes it positive. So doing it a third time would make it negative again. So if we broke the time-gate-thingy a third time, it’d only be half-broken, no?”
“How are we supposed to do that?”

He had a valid point.
“Maybe… we could… like…” Finally, I sighed. “I don’t know.”

Aaron suddenly looked up, eyes wide. “Wait.”
“Maybe there’s another gate somewhere.”
“In one of the other houses.”
“But Aaron, aren’t all the other houses burned down?”
“Not 28 Rose Street.”
“… what?”
Aaron stared at me. “You didn’t know about 28 Rose Street?”
I shook my head.
“You know that creepy mausoleum in that old cemetery? The one in the park like two blocks down from your house?”



Oh, yeah!

The local park had a section of it blocked off, where there used to be a cemetery some decades ago, where people from centuries ago were buried. They didn’t have any more space for more graves, so they blocked off the area and started a new cemetery plot about a mile away. I’d never paid much attention to the cemetery, but I knew Aaron went there frequently to take pictures of it for school photography projects. I had no idea whether or not you were allowed to randomly romp around an old cemetery and take pictures, but he got solid As in his class, so I guess there wasn’t much conflict there.

The cemetery, along with its normal ol’ graves, also housed a large mausoleum with no name on it. As a kid, I always wondered who would have been rich enough to die and be buried in that sort of thing, but as I grew older, I didn’t really pay much attention to it.

“Yeah!” I nodded. “I know what you’re talking about.”

“Well, from what I’ve heard, that mausoleum has a tunnel going through it. A tunnel that goes to the basement of 28 Rose Street. You see, when 28 Rose Street was burned down, the basement and foundation survived, but they didn’t want to go to all the trouble of taking the foundation out, so they just buried it. It used to be right next to the cemetery, but now it’s under it.”

So much to comprehend there…

I decided to start with my most pressing question.
“How the heck do you know that there’s a tunnel in that mausoleum?”
“It was in the history records. Sheesh, I’m surprised that more people don’t read those things.”

“Okay, so,” I interjected before Aaron could go off on another one of his ‘you meddling kids and your disrespect for history’ rants, “You’re saying… we go to the cemetery, break into the mausoleum, and, if there really is a secret tunnel in there, go through the tunnel and into the basement of 28 Rose Street.”
“Yep.” Aaron nodded.

“Okay, several questions,” I started. “One: how the heck will we break into the mausoleum? Two: how will we not get caught? A group of teens breaking into a mausoleum seems kind of suspicious if you ask me. Three: if we bring Cailean along, how will we keep him from freaking out about ‘mausoleum germs’ or whatever?”

Aaron paused, thinking. “One: I’ll stop by there after school today and check it out. Two: we’ll go at night. Three: we don’t have to bring Cailean along.”
“But…” I interrupted. “If this does work and we get Benjamin back where he’s supposed to be, and Cailean isn’t there, and we go back home and Benjamin isn’t with us, he’ll totally have a panic attack.”

Aaron sighed. “Fiiiine, we can bring Cailean along. But if we get caught, it’s all his fault.”

That night, the four of us piled into Aaron’s car and headed to the park.

Upon arriving, Cailean suddenly remarked “Hey, you guys… it’s dark.”

“Great observation, Captain Obvious,” Aaron rolled his eyes, grabbing a flashlight out of the glove compartment. “Stay close to me, guys. The mausoleum’s on the other side of the park.”

This was bad news, seeing as the park was full of, well, trees. It was beautiful in the daytime, but at night, it takes on a completely different atmosphere. There was no specific path these days that went to the cemetery, so I could tell that we were going to have a long night of wandering around and bumping into trees. “You guys will have to make sure you stay close to me,” Aaron said. “We don’t want to get caught.”

“Or eaten by some tall, faceless guy in a suit, with tentacles, and—“ Cailean started hyperventilating.
“Cailean, you shouldn’t have played that game before we came here!” I shouted over Cailean’s panicking.

“Shh!” Aaron hissed, pausing to make sure nobody else had heard us. “… Cailean, be quiet. There are no such things as monsters, and if there are, they certainly aren’t here in the park, okay?”
“Mm-hmm.” He nodded, not believing a single word Aaron had just said.
“Now come on,” Aaron said quietly, turning the flashlight on, leading the way, the rest of us following in a cluster behind him.

The walk to the mausoleum was mostly quiet, save for Cailean whimpering and almost freaking out several times because he thought he saw the egg-headed monster he’d seen in some game. He managed to keep himself mostly under control, however.

“Okay, guys, there’s that big oak tree,” Aaron waved his flashlight over at the tall tree, obviously older than the others that had been planted in the park about fifty years ago. “We’re not too far from the cemetery now. It’ll be maybe two, three more minutes.”
We all nodded, acknowledging what he said.

Suddenly, Cailean stopped.

“Wait. What’s that?” He whispered, frozen in place.
“What?” I turned around, only to be grabbed and yanked to facing forward again. “DON’T LOOK BACK!” Cailean whispered loudly. “He’ll get you if you look at him—“
“Cailean, there is no thing as faceless monsters that eat you when you look at them!” I hissed, looking back behind me again, Cailean tugging on my shoulders again.
“Just trust me on this one! Aaron, give me the flashlight.”

Aaron reluctantly handed Cailean the flashlight. He, ignoring his own advice, proceeded to immediately turn around and shine the flashlight back behind us.
Not even half a second after he did that, the quiet, peaceful park was suddenly disturbed by Cailean’s girlish shriek of “OHMYGOD IT’S HIM!! SPRINT, GUYS, SPRINT!!”

The rest of us, suddenly full of adrenaline, obeyed him, running off as fast as we could towards the mausoleum.

Behind us, we saw the flashlight turn off.

The park was pitch black.

Chapter Nineteen:
Spoiler: show
Benjamin, Aaron, and I ran as fast as we could. I could hear their footsteps beside me, Aaron leading the pack with Benjamin directly to my left.
At least, I really hoped right then that it was Benjamin and not the-- totally imaginary-- faceless monster Cailean had dreamed up.
Our footsteps landed in the grass with muffled crunches as we stomped on the first fallen leaves of autumn. I would've stopped and thought about how poetic this whole thing was, but then I realized we were in the middle of a cemetery, running from an imaginary monster, and, by now, completely lost.

Yeah, not very poetic.

Suddenly, the very poetic thumps of our footfall were partially interrupted as one set of footsteps turned into a loud thunk, followed by a shout and another thunk.
It took my brain a couple seconds to realize it was Aaron who had emitted the scream. "Aaron, are you okay?" I shouted, completely blind, randomly feeling about in the dark. My hands came in contact with something very hard... stone... squareish stone...
"I'm fine," Aaron replied, right in front of me. "Quick, you guys, hide behind this grave with me!"
Oh, so that's what this is, I thought as my hands grazed over some notches in the stone-- no doubt somebody's name.

I carefully stepped around to the back of the grave and sat down next to Aaron. I heard Benjamin sit down next to me, panting.
"What happened to Cailean?" He whispered.
"I don't know," Aaron whispered back, voice shaky. "He most certainly did not get taken by monsters, though, so don't even think that for a second, Benjamin."
I could practically hear Benjamin roll his eyes. "I may be an old man, Aaron, but that doesn't mean I'm stupid. Cailean has a..." He paused. "Wild imagination."
I nodded.
"Wait." Aaron paused. He didn't need to say anything; I heard two distinct sets of footsteps coming up behind us. Before we had a chance to really react, two shouts came from behind the grave.

The three of us screamed, jumping up only to come face-to-face with the painful glare of the flashlight.
"Oh, dude, just..." Aaron pushed the flashlight's beam backwards onto the two figures; Cailean and Brad.
"Bre-- Brad?" Benjamin stuttered. "What are you doing here?"
"I kind of overheard Aaralyn and Aaron's conversation," Brevyn confessed. "... oh, I guess I should fill you guys in. I know everything." He paused, then nodded. "There ya go."
"And you came here because...?" Aaron asked.
"I guess I didn't really fully believe Benjamin when he told me he was from 1902." Brevyn shrugged. "If you're really planning on breaking into a mausoleum, then I suppose you must be serious about this. I kind of wanted to see for myself."
"Come oooon, you guys!" Cailean whined. "He already knows everything. We might as well show him."
Aaron sighed, throwing his hands up in the air defensively. "Fine! Fine. Bring him along. But no more people! This isn't some sort of party."

Cailean, being Cailean, promptly replied by flicking the flashlight on and off as if it were a strobe light. "Whooooo, graveyard partaaaay! What music would they play at a graveyard part-- OOOOH I KNOW. THRILLER. CAUSE THIS IS THRILLEEER--"
"Cailean, stop that, you're giving me a headache!"
Cailean left the flashlight on. "Sorry, Aaron," he mumbled.
"Let's just get Benjamin back in his own time period before the sun rises, okay?"
Cailean nodded. "Sure. But where's the mausoleum?"

Aaron paused. "Great, Cailean," he finally said. "Your major freakout caused us to lose track of where we were."
"Well, surely..." Cailean swept the flashlight over the graveyard. "There. It's over there."
"... oh." Aaron nodded. "Okay."

And so we were off towards the mausoleum.
However, with Cailean at the hands of the flashlight, it was slow going.
"OOOOH," Cailean said for just about the five hundredth time. "Look at that grave. It has an angel on it! Let's see. Molly Summers, 1889-1892--- AAAAW. SHE WAS A BABY. THAT'S SO SAAAAD--"
"Cailean, focus!" I shouted for the five hundred and first time. "It's been five minutes and we're no closer to the mausoleum."
Cailean pouted. "Fine. Let's just go straight to the mausoleum."

Of course, that lasted for about five seconds.
"OOOH. This one's fancy." Cailean ran up to a huge grave, intricately carved with angels on the sides. "I wonder whose this is."
We followed him, having no other choice, as he walked around the perimeter of the grave, looking for any sort of identification.
"Ah-ha!" He stooped down to the ground, shining his flashlight on one face of the grave. "Benjamin Ca--"
He paused.
He stood up.
"Okay, nothing to do here, guys," He mumbled.
"Benjamin?" Benjamin's eyes bugged out. "Benjamin who?!" He snatched the flashlight out of Cailean's hands (but not before Cailean could shout a few words of protest and "No, not you Benjamin, Benjamin... Smith!") and shone it on the same face of the grave.
He stumbled back. "No... no..."
Aaron, Brevyn, and I peeked over to see exactly what we expected to see.

Benjamin Carroll

There were some words below it, but they were far too eroded to see. One kind of looked like "End."
"End," I mumbled to myself. "Kind of grim."
Benjamin managed to compose himself fairly quickly. "Okay. No, no, this is fine... I'm supposed to die, of course."
Cailean pouted. "So, like, you're buried there."
"I guess," Benjamin replied, staring blankly at the grass directly in front of the grave.
"Wouldn't it be weird if we dug up your skeleton--"
"Yes." Benjamin retorted. "Yes, it would be very weird. Let's not do that."
"Mmkay," Cailean nodded. "Flashlight, please."
Benjamin handed the flashlight over to Cailean.
"Now that that's over with, let's--" He turned around, only to find his flashlight shone on another grave, just as grand as Benjamin's, but more straightforward and, dare I say it, modern-looking. The stone looked old and eroded, but I could tell the design had been reminiscent of the shape of many modern-day skyscrapers.
Weird, I thought.

"OOH," Cailean's attention span was officially gone. "THIS one's cool. It's not all stuffy like the other ones-- I mean, no offense to your grave, Benjamin."
"None... taken?" Benjamin replied.
"Whose was this?" Cailean began another perimeter search.
"Come on, Cailean," Aaron interrupted his search and grabbed the flashlight back from him. After a brief struggle between the two, the flashlight ended up in Aaron's hands, the beam pointed behind him. "We have to--"

The five of us froze in complete unison as we saw what was written on the grave marker.

Cailean Moore

Chapter Twenty:
Spoiler: show
Cailean was the first to react, obviously.
He dropped to the ground. At first, I thought he was fainting, until I heard a small whimper of terror from him.
Aaron, being the closest to him, went down with him, Benjamin immediately following. In literally two blinks of my eye, Cailean was suddenly sandwiched between the two-- Aaron behind him, completely silent, doing his best to rub reassuring circles on his back, and Benjamin equally as quiet. Cailean was the only one making any noise, in the form of fairly heart-wrenching sobs partly muffled by Benjamin's shoulder.
Brevyn and I could only stand there and try to wrap our brains around the situation.
The Cailean Moore I knew was born in 1997, not 1887. Not to mention he was most certainly not dead at the moment.

"Maybe..." Brevyn started. "Maybe it's not you. Maybe it's a different Cailean Moore. Maybe you're named after him. Maybe--"
"Mmf," Cailean shook his head. Brevyn sighed, and I could see tears forming in his eyes.
"Cailean..." I sighed. "You're--" gonna get stuck back in time "it's just, you'll--" be without your friends, family, technology "Cailean, listen, I can assure you that you--" will die before you were really even born "... everything's going to be just fine, Cailean."

Cailean sniffled, looking up at me over Benjamin's shoulder. "No, it's not. The weeping angels are going to take me back in ti--"
Half a laugh escaped my mouth. "First the faceless killer dude and now weeping angels? Cailean, stop. None of those exist."
"Magical time gates exist." He muttered.
I didn't really have a good response to that, seeing as I fully agreed with him.
"Aaralyn," He whimpered, and I heard pretty much everyone's heart crack-- mine included. "What's going to happen to me?"
"Uh..." I mumbled. How do I explain this to him without him sobbing? "Well, uh..."
"You're going to go back in time," Brevyn said flatly. "And then die."
I gaped at him just as Cailean began his sobbing again. By now, Benjamin had resorted to slightly rocking him back and forth, and Aaron looked like he had just plain given up on comforting Cailean, and looked more like he was trying to think of some scientific explanation for all of this.

"For Cailean to be stuck back in time-- if that is what happened," He began, but Brevyn cut in with a "What?"
"If he actually gets stuck," Aaron repeated, and looked over at me. "Maybe he willingly stayed back there to flirt with those girls."
"Girls are stupid," Cailean mumbled.
"Can't disagree with you there, Cailean," Aaron nodded, ceasing the action when I shot a glare over his way. "Sorry," he muttered.
"Let's say for this situation, he gets stuck," I started back up from where we had left off. "How?"
"The house gets broken again?" Aaron shrugged.
"Whoa, whoa, wait. Fill me in," Brevyn cut in.
Aaron took a deep breath.

"Okay, so, there's this house-- 23 Rose Street, just across the street from Aaralyn's house. As it turns out, when we went in, it transported us 110 years in the past. Leaving the house brought us back to the present. But then we went there one day and there was a fire that burned down the majority of Rose Street and a tree fell towards the house so we ran out and Benjamin somehow got stuck here with us and now when we go back into the house, nothing happens."
Brevyn nodded. "I think I kind of get it..."
"But listen, Cailean, you cannot go back into the house now. Even if it is still broken. You never know what could happen, okay? There, problem solved. You stay away from the house, you stay here while we go to the mausoleum, and you will be just fine, got it?"
Cailean sniffled in reply.

"Okay," Aaron stood up. "Let's go. Come on, Benjamin."
"I'll stay back here," Brevyn volunteered. "Benjamin, you should really go back where you belong."
Benjamin reluctantly stood up, leaving Cailean a half-sobbing pile of teenage boy sitting on top of his own grave.

And so the three of us were off to the mausoleum.

"It doesn't make any sense," Aaron muttered for what was literally the seventeenth time.
"And yet, it's set in stone," I replied. "Can't really undo it..."
Aaron sighed in exasperation. "Please don't tell him that."
"I won't," I promised.
"All we need to be focused on right now is getting Benjamin back to his own time." Aaron said, to which Benjamin and I nodded in response as we finally reached the mausoleum.
"So," Benjamin started, staring at the massive structure, taller than any of us by a good couple of feet, strong black iron bars laced with spiderwebs crisscrossing the front of it. "How do we get in?"
Aaron simply walked up to it, grabbed one iron bar in each hand, and violently jerked backwards, taking the whole gate back with him and letting it drop to the ground with a muffled thunk and a clank as it hit an empty soda can someone had thrown into the cemetery.
"Oh," Benjamin nodded
"Come on. No time to waste." Aaron said, heading down, yep, an old staircase that appeared to go down deep below the cemetery.

As we headed down deeper into the mausoleum's staircase, the walls suddenly changed from cold gray stone to rust-colored bricks reminiscent to those of 23 Rose Street. I could tell we were getting somewhere.

After what seemed like an eternity, we reached a door, equally as spiderweb covered as the iron gate. I stood back and held the flashlight again as Aaron flung it open with little effort, dust flying everywhere, the three of us coughing in response.
As we passed through the doorway, I realized that, yep, we were definitely in the basement of some old house. The air there seemed much better than the air immediately preceding it. Soft lights emanated from gas lanterns on the walls. The place smelled like bread, and was a solid twenty degrees warmer than the mausoleum.
Suddenly, I heard footsteps coming down the staircase immediately to my left. Aaron, Benjamin, and I jumped as we saw a figure coming down the stairs, another lantern in their hands.
"Who is it?" They shouted, and I realized it was a girl. She was barefoot and had her nightgown on.
Before I could shout "hey, perhaps you should be telling us who you are," she froze at the bottom of the staircase, staring at the boy to my right.

"Benjamin?" She gasped, rubbing her eyes with her free hand. "Y-you're back! We thought you... in the fire... the tree... but you're alive! What happened? Where did you go?"
"Samantha?" Benjamin gaped. The name Samantha rang a bell in my head, and I grimaced as I realized it was one of the annoying girls from the first time we had gone to 23 Rose Street.
"And... and Aaron! And Aaralyn! What are you all doing here?"
"Long story," Benjamin replied.

Chapter Twenty One:
Spoiler: show
We stayed there for the night. Aaron eventually (unfortunately, I say "eventually" because it was about two hours later) went back to get Cailean and Brevyn. Samantha, of course, was happy to see Cailean again and had a plethora of questions for Brevyn, who was in a state of shock pretty much the whole time he was there.

Cailean, being the most tired of us all, passed out on the couch with Benjamin, whom he had dragged along by the wrist (with surprisingly little protest from the latter). Samantha talked to the rest of us, catching us up on everything that had happened. Through it all, I could tell Benjamin was awake; at Samantha's listing of the people who had died, he winced, eliciting a grumble from Cailean.
Cailean was out like a light the whole time. The boy could simply not fake being asleep. Trust me; I'd seen him try.

In a nutshell, all the houses had burned down except for 23 Rose Street-- which was partially burned-- 12 Rose Street-- which was fine-- and her house, which had virtually no damage whatsoever. However, a quick glance out the window and, even in the dim starlight, you could see rows of burned trees and crumpled piles of boards that used to be houses with brick chimneys-- the only unaffected structures-- sticking up out of their centers.

The night was uncomfortably quiet. Ironically, the only comfort that could be found was the flames emanating from the fireplace on the far side of the living room. Besides that, the air was chilly, stale, and still smelled of smoke-- not comfy, cozy smoke like the fireplace, but acrid, cataclysmic smoke, the result of a fire that had destroyed houses and lives.

Around four in the morning, Aaron decided it would be a good time to leave. We decided to say goodbye to Samantha, a much longer goodbye to Benjamin, and then Brevyn and I took on the task of removing a sleeping Cailean from the couch, leaving Benjamin back behind in his own time-- finally.

Cailean was none the wiser, mumbling something about fluffy bunnies with rainbow lollipops that fought Godzilla as Brevyn and I led him out the door, holding him up on our shoulders as he stumbled, still almost completely asleep.

Aaron drove us back to his house, where we stayed until it was time to go to school. Cailean was the only one who had gotten any sleep that night. I envied him, until...

"Guys?" Cailean stumbled down the stairs as quickly as he could. It was 6:00 in the morning and Aaron, Brevyn, and I were well into the process of getting ready for school.

"Yeah?" Aaron shouted over his shoulder as he tended to a pan of sizzling bacon. Brevyn and I sat at the kitchen table, eagerly awaiting our first breakfast-- that wasn't granola bars-- of the school year.

"Where's Benjamin?"

The kitchen was silent. Even the bacon seemed to quiet down slightly.

"He's not here any more," Brevyn replied shortly. "We put him back in his own time, remember?"

Cailean stared at him, distress flooding his eyes. "No..."

"You were asleep. We didn't think it would be right to wake you--" Aaron started.
"Well, you should have!" Cailean shouted, silencing the kitchen once again before continuing his rant. "Why the heck wouldn't you have woken me up so I could say goodbye to Benjamin? Now I can't go back to see him unless we want to break into that mausoleum again-- which I am not for, considering I have to pass my grave first!"

"Well, we thought that since you're always complaining about how you never get to sleep--" Brevyn cut in with a fairly pathetic excuse.

"Who cares?! Don't you think I value Benjamin a little more than one good night's sleep? How could you guys do this to me? Now I'll never see him again..."
With his last sentence, trailing off into a heart-wrenching whine, he flopped down at the kitchen table.

Truthfully, we hadn't let Cailean say goodbye to Benjamin because we knew it would have been too hard for him. Cailean had gotten so attached to Benjamin, despite mine and Aaron's warnings not to, that leaving would have been insanely painful for him. Benjamin had been half asleep by that point, but I could've sworn I saw him crying as we left. Now, that was probably because all of us were leaving, but I had a feeling that if Cailean hadn't been there in the first place, he wouldn't have thought it was that big of a deal.
I had no idea what had been going on between the two of them, but I knew that it had gotten to a point where neither of them would want to leave each other forever.

Of course, I wasn't going to tell Cailean that. He certainly would have taken one of two paths; the "ohmygooood I'm manlier than that, I could've handled it" path or the "YES, YOU'RE RIGHT, YOU JERK" path.

So I kept my mouth shut as I ate my breakfast.

School for the next few weeks was back to normal; for some of us, at least. Cailean had gotten seemingly worse by the day, to a point where he was missing every other day of school. I never saw him eat while he was at school. He'd just sit there during lunch and poke around on his phone, face blank, sunken in, dead.

The weather followed suit.
On October 30, it had officially been one full month of overcast skies with rain every other day. We hadn't seen the sun-- neither Cailean nor the actual one-- for longer than we ever had before.

It was early in the lunch period. Only Cailean, Ashley, and myself were there. The others were in the lunch line-- it was pizza day, so as I looked back at the hundred-long line, I could tell it was going to be a while.

"Cailean..." Ashley tried for the 32nd (yes, I was counting) time in a row to get through to the boy to her left. "Please, Cailean, tell me what's wrong."

No response.

"Cailean, I just want to help you."


"Cailean, you can talk to me."


Finally, she turned to me-- obviously a last resort. The two of us had never actually had a full conversation that didn't end with one of us pulling at the other's hair.

"Aaralyn," she sighed futilely. "What's going on with him? Does it have something to do with Benjamin?"

I merely nodded, as I was in the process of chewing a bite of my chicken sandwich.

She nodded, and I could tell the gears in her head were going for probably the first time in her life. "Cailean," she turned back to him. "I'm sorry that Benjamin had to go back to Finlandia, but, like, can't you just talk to him on the phone and stuff?"

"They don't have phones where he lives," Cailean mumbled, which I guess was true. At least, not phones we could call.

"Oh," Ashley nodded, seeming content with just getting a response out of him. "Well, ah... write him letters--"

"No postal service," a reply before she could finish.

"Really? They don't have UPS in Finlandia? Huh." Ashley blinked. "Well, it can't be that bad. You're acting like it's the end of the world. He was just a friend. Life goes on and stuff. The sun will still rise tomorrow, even if you can't, like, see it. Time waits for no guy, that's what the people back in ancient times, like, the 1900s, said, I think."

I blinked. That was the most poetic, moving thing she'd ever said.

Just as I was about to open my mouth and tell her some sort of a compliment, Aaron slammed his tray down next to me.

"Aaralyn. Cailean. We need to talk."

"What is it?" I asked.

"Just come with me, okay?"

The two of us followed him out into the hall without another word. We walked out into the outdoor commons area that the photography classes used as backdrops. No one could hear us here besides the birds.

"What is it?" I repeated as soon as the doors closed behind us.

"Bad news," Aaron pulled out his phone and brought up the local news site. "Really bad news."

Cailean and I got behind him on either side, reading over his shoulder.

New Construction to Begin on November 5th; Three Historic Houses to be Torn Down

The upcoming construction of a new suburban area has historians in a panicked frenzy. The new area, consisting of a proposed fifty-two homes, would be built on land where three abandoned Victorian houses reside. The construction will require those houses-- located on the hill across from 289 South County Road, the intersection of 204 West County Road and State Road 58 East, and by the old town store on Eighth Street.
Historians are obviously not happy. Barbara Day, librarian at the county Historic Records museum, is one of them. "You can't just tear down those houses. There are way too many things that happened there. For example, the one on the hill across from 289 South County Road used to be a mansion on an old street called Rose Street; very ritzy place until it burned down in a fire. We're still looking for any records, any historic evidence that could have some significance. This story isn't complete, and we may never know what happened to those other people if we no longer have access to the only intact home left."
Along with the historians, photographers are angry as well. Catherine York, amateur photographer, led a pack of over a dozen angry artists that came to Town Hall to protest. "If we tear down the houses," she says, "Think of the hundreds of artists that will no longer have any inspiration! Those houses are works of art. Their architecture is like nothing else in town! They make our little county unique. Without them, we're just another gray blob on the map, taken over by modern need for boring houses."
Alleywood Homes CEO Bob Lanes says there is no other way, however. "This is prime real estate. There is simply nowhere better to build new houses. Many new families will move in and have a place to call home. I think that is worth sacrificing a couple old, dingy, rat-infested brick boxes."
Demolition of the houses is scheduled for November 4th, with construction of the new suburban area to begin the following day.

Chapter Twenty Two:
Spoiler: show
The next day was Halloween.

I wasn't a huge fan of Halloween, especially around here. People just didn't make that big a deal out of it, not to mention everyone at the high school considered themselves too old to trick or treat. Except for Cailean. But he obviously wasn't in good enough shape to do much of anything that day, even if it meant free candy.

However, he still seemed to be into candy in general, though, as he walked into our geography class with a bag of M&Ms in his hand and several other candy wrappers sticking out of his bag.

He sat down at his spot at the table next to me and sighed, turning to me. "Aaralyn, is that thing still broken?" He inquired quietly, speech somewhat incomprehensible due to both his depression and the mouthful of M&Ms he had at that moment.
I just had to stare at him for a couple of seconds. This was the first time he had willingly talked to me since Benjamin had "left for Finlandia," as Ashley liked to say.

"Uh..." I shook my head, attempting to shake myself out of the daze. Well, Cailean's talking again. That's a good sign. "I'm not sure. Ask Aaron."

"But I don't have him until culinary class and that's like two hours from nooooow."
Ah, yes, good ol' Cailean's starting to come back.

"Well, sorry, but I really don't know... I mean, from what Aaron had talked about earlier, if Benjamin got put back, then everything should be back to normal, but I don't know if the house has been 'broken' forever..." As I continued, Cailean stared down at his desk with an expression akin to that of a kicked puppy. "Sorry..." I couldn't help ending my sentence the same way I started it.

The rest of the hour went by fairly quietly between the two of us. We ended up having to work on a mini-project about the dangers of acid rain, but that was all we talked about. No more mention of the house. Cailean could tell he wasn't going to get any more information from me, but I honestly wanted to see him try. I wanted the old stubborn, whining Cailean back.

That night, the three of us were at Aaron's house, watching some scary movie about zombies that was laughable at best. Aaron really wasn't good at picking out horror movies, and as the movie went on, he started to realize that fact more and more.

"Wow, that looked realistic," He chuckled, rolling his eyes.
"The acting in this is terrible," I groaned.
The two of us automatically paused in anticipation of Cailean's reply, but after a few seconds, we realized we weren't going to get one. Duh.

"Hey," Aaron paused the movie and turned to Cailean and I. "Do you guys wanna go to the house?"

"Uh..." I hesitated.
"Mm," Cailean shook his head.
"Cailean? Why not?" Aaron asked, genuine concern in his features, Cailean's response being the exact opposite of what he probably expected.
"I don't want to get stuck," Cailean whispered in reply. "And die."
Aaron rolled his eyes slightly. "Cailean, you're going to die eventually. You know that, right?"
"But I don't want to die there. I'm scared."

Aaron sighed, staring down at his shoes for a moment. "I'll be right back, okay?"
With that, he left, jogging up the stairs to his room. Not even ten seconds later, he jogged back down, a piece of very old, yellowed paper in his hand. "Cailean, I didn't want you to see this and freak out, but I guess you're freaked out enough already that this won't make much of a difference. I found this in the mausoleum and snuck it into my pocket while you weren't looking, Aaralyn."

Stupid senior Aaron, being all sneaky like that. How did I not notice him grabbing that?

He handed over the paper to Cailean and stared at his shoes again as the latter read through it. I couldn't make out any of the words on the paper from where I was sitting, but as I saw Cailean's face sink with the more of it he read, I could tell it wasn't good.

Finally, Cailean folded the paper up and put it down on the coffee table, staring at it blankly.

"So, would you like to go to the house now?" Aaron asked.

There was a very long hesitation from Cailean until-- finally-- he gave a very slight nod, barely noticeable in the dark.

"All right then," Aaron accepted Cailean's tiny nod as more than enough reason for us to go. "Let's go."

It was freezing.

I must have been wearing ten layers of clothing and I was still cold. Cailean was shivering so much that he was almost blurry to look at. And Aaron, being the big tough senior he was, didn't seem bothered by any of it as he led us up the hill to the house in his hoodie and jeans.

Another thing about 23 Rose Street.
It was scary at night.
And the fact that it was Halloween made it even worse.

It was a "perfect" Halloween night; the moon shone through a thin layer of clouds-- thin enough so that it created an eerie glow, a glow that cast the shadows of the crooked, bare trees on everything in sight.

The house had a horrible feeling to it. I could hear rustling inside it, and the moon reflected off of the bits of broken glass still left in the windows, which in return cast beams of cold white light on the trees. The wind blew through the empty door frames and windows, creating a dreadful howling sound. The few dry, crunchy leaves left on the trees hit the cold brick sides of the house with cracks that were loud enough to make me jump occasionally. The house looked even more dead than it usually did.

But, of course, Aaron decided it'd be a great idea for us to come here. Perhaps he knew this would be scarier to us than the "super scary zombie movie."
And he was right. As I stood there, staring at the house, I realized it was.
It totally was.
I wanted to go home so bad.
Just go home, curl up in something warm, and watch videos of cute kitties on the internet to erase all of this from my brain.

Aaron stood there, Cailean and I behind him on either side, forming a tiny, huddled together triangle. I could hear Cailean's teeth clattering as he shivered, practically hiding behind Aaron, hands tremblingly fisted in the back of his hoodie.

"Let's go in." Aaron suddenly said.
"What?" I interjected. "That's crazy!" I had had enough of being out in the cold. "I'm cold. Cailean's cold. You're probably cold. Let's just go back inside before we all turn into human popsicles and the zombies come for us, thinking we're a delicious frozen treat."
Cailean yelped at this, crouching down to bury his face in the back of Aaron's head.
"Cailean," I sighed. "There's no such thing as zombies. You know that. Now, Aaron, could we please just go home? This is really creepy."
"No," Aaron said firmly. "We haven't been here since... well... yeah. Let's at least try. If it doesn't work, then fine, we go home and drink hot chocolate and watch My Little Pony."
"Ooh," Cailean looked up.
"I was being sarcastic, Cailean." Aaron replied over his shoulder.

And so the three of us went into the house.

As to be expected, nothing happened.

"See? Nothing." I was right. "Let's go home now."
"Whoooooa." And, of course, Cailean wasn't listening to me at all. He had wandered into the middle of the ballroom and was looking up at the ceiling. As I walked over next to him and followed his gaze, I realized he wasn't looking at the ceiling, per se, but the gaping hole in the roof, through which you could perfectly see the moon, the clouds moving past it at greater speed than usual, its bright beam creating a sort of spotlight in the middle of the ballroom. Aaron followed me and was equally as in awe as Cailean and I were.

"Creepy," Aaron shuddered.

"Guys?" Cailean suddenly asked.
"Yeah?" Aaron and I replied simultaneously, eyes still fixed on the moon.
"I'm cold."
As Cailean said this, I realized that it was, indeed, much colder in the house than it had been outside.
"Weird. It wasn't this cold when we got in here, was it?" I mumbled, eyes moving back down to meet Cailean and Aaron's slightly panicked gazes.
"No, it wasn't..." Cailean whispered.

A flash, a blindingly bright light.

"Guys..." Aaron said.

Another flash.

And another.

And another, each one getting brighter, foggier, warmer...

The flashes got quicker, closer together, until finally we were seemingly trapped in an endless world of endless, blindingly white fogginess.

Eventually, there was another flash. This one not white like the others, but dark again.
The same pattern continued until we were back in the ballroom again. Nothing had changed. We were still in the dark ballroom, still in our normal clothes, and it was still dark and creepy-looking outside.

"Well, that was..." Aaron mumbled, glancing up at the moon again. "Uh."
I immediately followed his gaze and realized the moon wasn't there.
The roof, however, was.

Wind no longer howled through the windows. It was no longer as cold as it had been just a few minutes ago. There was no rustling of animals, no creaking of the floorboards.

A voice jerked us out of our daze.

"Cailean? Aaralyn? Aaron?"

Through a door to our left, Benjamin ran out, lantern in hand, so intensely overjoyed to see us that he practically threw us all into a giant group hug. "How did you get here?!"

"I... really don't know," Aaron was the first to reply, and I honestly couldn't think of a better answer myself.

Chapter Twenty Three:
Spoiler: show
And so our Halloween night was spent back over at 23 Rose Street.

The house wasn't completely unscathed; the backside of it had been burnt badly, causing the cold night air to fill the rooms. We'd learned from Benjamin that the fire service had gotten to the house just in time to keep the whole thing from burning down. Other houses weren't as lucky, as we could plainly see out the windows. It gave me chills, even though most of the houses were under the cover of night.

I'd never seen such horrible devastation this close to my own house. Sure, I'd heard of it in the news; horrible earthquakes, tsunamis, wildfires that burned down thousands of houses. None of them really mattered that much to me personally, but seeing just a couple dozen houses burned down right outside the window, I couldn't help but wonder... what would it look like if there were hundreds? Thousands? What if more than a couple dozen people died? What if Benjamin died?

Yes, I realized as I dared to glance out the window behind me for what was probably the sixth or seventh time, I was extremely lucky to be alive. Cailean was, even though his arm still had a scar on it from where the tree had hit him. Benjamin was. We all were.

Aaron, always the bearer of bad news, told Benjamin about the plans to tear down the house. Benjamin didn't really react to this; he just had this look on his face that said he saw it coming anyways. Cailean received a call from Brevyn-- how we could tell the house was still somewhat "broken"; our phones still worked and we weren't wearing stuffy Victorian clothes-- saying that he'd been to the park and the mausoleum had collapsed in on itself. There goes our only other way to get into the house, I thought to myself.

Cailean immediately went off on a ramble about how there had to be another way, another "magical time gate," but Aaron simply shook his head and told him that no, there wasn't.

And so the three of us went back to Aaron's house, leaving Benjamin behind for what we had told ourselves was definitely the last time.

~November 4th~


How I hate Sundays.

Sundays are just horrible days when you're in high school. It no longer becomes "ah, the second half of the weekend," no; it becomes that day where you wake up and say to yourself, "well, I'm not going to get enough sleep for the next five days," and then you trudge along for the rest of the day and procrastinate your homework until finally it's about 8:00, 9:00 at night and you're scrambling to get it all done.

Teachers who give homework over the weekend are just cruel. Nobody ever gets it done properly.

And I'm certainly not going to get it done properly today.

There I was, sitting in the grass by the side of the road in my winter coat and fuzzy boots. It was a toasty 37 degrees outside, with a windchill of below 30. It would be crazy for anyone to be outside on that kind of day.

Yet, there I sat, picking at the dead grass that lay all around me, waiting for Aaron, Brevyn, and Cailean to get there so we could witness the house go down.

As I sat there, staring at the house just a few hundred yards away, now visible through the bare branches of the numerous trees that surrounded it, I couldn't help but think it looked so out of place. All around it, on the streets across from the bottom of the hill it was perched on, stood houses that had popped up over the last ten years, uniform in shape, size, and color. And then there was 23 Rose Street; the odd one out.

I pulled out my cell phone and took a picture of it with my numb fingers. Gloves probably would've been a good idea.

Not that it would make a difference, anyways. There were a couple dozen pictures of it on the internet, just a click away. But I wanted a picture for myself. To remember the old house by.

I heard footsteps padding through the grass beside me. "Hey."
I didn't have to look up to see who it was. Aaron sat down beside me, leaning back and propping himself up on his elbows.
I was silent. My hands weren't the only things that were numb.
Luckily, Aaron was good with words.
"Kinda weird that this has kind of been our lives for the past few months," He chuckled impassively. "Hanging out a hundred and ten years in the past with some guy who's dead now."
"Some guy who's your great-grandfather," I added, turning my head to look at Aaron. "Now that I notice it... you look a lot like him."
"Only shorter," Aaron chuckled again, but this time it was fuller, more genuine.
"And Asian."
"And older, technically."
"Yeah, that whole thing's kind of weird," I mumbled, and the air was silent again for a few moments before Aaron sighed, his breath forming a cloud in the air. For just a second-- a millisecond, even-- I remembered when I was four and he was six, and he dragged me out of my bed on the first snow day of the year and we played "dragons" until our tears from laughing so hard at each other had frozen onto our faces, which was really quite uncomfortable. For four years after that, I called him Puff. I was really quite a better dragon than he was... more menacing, at the very least. Heck, I probably still am.

Without warning, he turned back to me. "Aaralyn, look at me."
I obeyed, slightly confused, and he blinked a couple times, obviously trying to find the right words. The one time he can't decide what to say...
After a few seconds, he opened his mouth. "I lo--"
"Hey, guys," Brevyn sighed, plopping down next to Aaron, who turned around and made a sound that sounded half like a growl and half like a whine. Something that would normally come out of Cailean's mouth...
"Dude!" Aaron shouted.
"What?" Brevyn held up his hands defensively.
"... nevermind." Aaron sighed, and once again, the air was silent. Only this time, it wasn't a solemn silence, but just really, really awkward.

Eventually, the silence was broken as the construction crews moved in with wrecking balls and cranes.

We watched soundlessly as the house crumpled with just one swing of the wrecking ball, the old boards throwing up giant clouds of dust, various critters scampering out of the house and into nearby bushes.

That was it.

"Well." Aaron said.
"Yep." I nodded.
"Mm-hmm," Brevyn picked at a particularly long blade of grass.

We were all numb.

It was over.

We could go back to our normal lives. Leave this all behind us. We were just normal teenagers again.

But then, something struck me.

"Where's Cailean?" I glanced over at Aaron. Brevyn heard my words and his eyes just about bugged out.
"Yeah. Where is he?" He asked.
"I went over to his house this morning. He said he didn't want to watch," Aaron replied, shrugging. "I don't really blame him."

Another pause, only this time it wasn't silent, as the construction crew began cleaning up the remains of the house.

"We should call him. We can go get some lunch or something," Aaron suggested.

"Sounds like a plan." I stood up, dusting my pants off, the two others following me. I pulled my phone out of my pocket and dialed Cailean's number.

One ring.

Two rings.

Three rings.

"He usually doesn't take this long to answer," I mumbled.

Four rings.

Five rings.

The phone picked up.

"Finally," I breathed.


It wasn't Cailean.

"... Cailean...?" I asked anyways.

"No. Aaralyn, something terrible has happened. Look behind you."

I turned around.

There, on the front steps of my house, stood a boy in a leather motorcycle jacket, distressed band shirt, black skinny jeans, and combat boots.
His hair was golden, his eyes a rich chocolate brown, face stricken with shock, with grief. A cell phone-- Cailean's cell phone-- was held up to his ear.
I saw his mouth move, and his voice poured in through the speaker of my phone.
"Cailean's gone," Benjamin said, and in those two words, I realized that my best friend in the entire world was probably standing somewhere in the middle of the pile of old boards and dust that laid a few hundred yards behind me, a hundred and ten years in the past.
"He said to tell you to check your necklace," Benjamin added, tears welling up in his eyes.
"My...?" I fumbled with the locket I always wore. My mother had been given it by her mother, and her mother by her mother. I shook my head in confusion. What does great-grammy's necklace have to do with any of this?
I'd looked at the inside of the locket several times and never thought anything of it; just my great-grandparents and their wedding date.
Yet, as I looked at it again, the tiny golden heart held in my trembling hand, the tears that had been welling up in the corners of my eyes finally spilled over.

C. Moore & S. Williams
Dec. 27, 1910

All the pieces clicked together.
I remembered my gramma Moore telling me stories about how funny her father was, how he would tell stories of magical devices that she saw become realities as she grew up and how she thought he was psychic. He was the man who would sing obnoxious songs and do embarrassing dances. He'd tell wild, imaginative stories about time travel, and one day, my gramma recalled a conversation she had with him when she was five.

"Dad?" She asked.
He looked up from his newspaper. "Yes, sweetie?"
"Why are you always telling stories about time travel?"
"Because I like to tell stories about time travel," He shrugged.
"Yes, but... is it actually real?"
"Is what actually real?"
"Daaaad," She sighed. "Is time travel real?"
A knowing smile spread across his face.

"If you know where to look."

~The End~

Epilogue Part I:
Spoiler: show
-First off, a warning from me. Uh. This is probably going to be long. So ah. ... you may read it in chunks if you wish, or you may get up and get some snacks to hold you over now. Your choice XD

I'm not sure how, but not even an hour after Benjamin informed me that Cailean was gone, he disappeared. I'm not sure how he managed to get back to his normal time, but since Aaron was still there, he obviously did it somehow.

I was woken up the next morning by my phone ringing. I groaned, rolling over, grabbing it, and checking the time. 5:30 AM
"Hello?" I answered the phone sleepily, not bothering to check the caller ID.
"Aaralyn!!" It was Cailean's mother. "Aaralyn, is Cailean there?"
"Mmmno," I mumbled. It's Monday. Go away. "Maybe he's over at Aaro--"
"No, I just called Aaron, he said he wasn't there, either!" She sounded frantic. I hadn't considered her freaking out to be a possibility, and felt incredibly stupid for not doing so.
"I don't know, then..." I tried my best to sound worried. In all reality, I was.
"What if he's dead?!"
Well, hate to break it to you, but he died 42 years ago.
"Relax, Mrs. Moore... he's probably fine..."
A sigh.
"I'm sorry for bothering you this early in the morning, Aaralyn," she said in that motherly tone of voice she liked to use around me. (she probably thought Cailean and I were going to fall in love and have a big fairytale wedding and live happily ever after in a castle) "If you hear anything, please, please call me."
"I will, Mrs. Moore, don't worry." I nodded, not fully awake and not realizing that she couldn't see me.
"Bye, sweetie."

Well, now how am I supposed to go back to sleep? I have to get up for school in half an hour...

So I got up anyways, trudging down the stairs in a zombie-like state, my internal GPS system guiding me to the heavenly beacon that was the coffee machine. But as I reached for a mug, I spotted two envelopes sitting by the coffee machine.

I set them aside, simply thinking to myself that they were probably letters that my mom either wanted myself or my dad to see first thing in the morning. Probably something from my school, or some bills.

I involuntarily pressed the buttons on the coffee machine-- about the only thing I can do correctly in the morning-- and let my mug start filling up. As I waited, I turned to the two letters, flipping them over to see if there were addresses on them.

Both of them were simply labeled with "Aaralyn." I could tell that one of them was obviously Cailean's handwriting.
As I flipped them over, I also noticed they were made out of yellowed, dingy paper. They also were sealed with wax stamps.
Oh god. Not this, not this early in the morning...

I sighed, half exasperated, yet my hands were shaking with anticipation as I opened the letters.

Epilogue Part II:
Spoiler: show
-please let me know if either one of these pictures stops working. there should be two. you may click them to embiggen... of course idk if it'll really make them bigger or not but I GUESS IT'S WORTH A TRY-

First off, my deepest apologies.
Time is a funny thing, and I regret to tell you that you would not exist in the first place if Cailean did not leave.
When you get this letter, I will have already made my way back to my time via a third time gate I happened upon, which I have rigged to be destroyed as soon as I pass through it. Don't ask me how.
I promise that I will take good care of Cailean and make sure he doesn't break anything. (or, at least, I shall try.)
It greatly saddens me that we shall have to leave each other on these terms. You are probably angry with me, and I completely understand that. Cailean is much better with words than I am. He will probably be able to offer more insight on the situation than I could ever even comprehend.
Once again, my deepest apologies.

(Okay, I probably know what you're feeling like right now. Proooobably something along the lines of "DANGIT CAILEAN STOP MESSING THINGS UP AND BEING STUPID." But srsly... IT'S NOT MY FAULT
oh, wait.
And before you start yelling to no one but yourself that it "couldn't have been me, just somebody with the initials C. Moore" (yes, I totally read your locker), I totally looked it up on Google. You should look it up, too. There's me. With Samantha. Wheeee. SO. AARALYN, I AM YOUR GREAT-GRANDFATHER.
I totally wrote that with a Darth Vader voice but you probably didn't get it. But anyways. So now that I know I am your great-grandfather...
YOU LISTEN TO ME, YOUNG LADY. CLEAN YOUR ROOM. DO YOUR HOMEWORK. EAT YOUR VEGETABLES. Wow it takes a lot of effort to write in caps lock. I'M GOING TO MISS 2012. And before you start whining (once again, to nobody but yourself) about "dangit Cailean just come back and be m bestest friend again" I TOTALLY CAN'T. Otherwise you wouldn't exist.
And also when the house gets smashed down, I'll be stuck here. ... I just sighed but you probably didn't get that either. ... OKAY AARALYN I JSUT WANT TO RANT TO YOU. I don't wanna marry Samantha. I REALLY DON'T. She's atrocious. (hey i used a smart word LOOK AT ME I'M FANCIER ALREADY)
I mean... you hear all those people saying you should "marry your best friend," but Samantha is NOT my best friend.
... BUT YOU'RE MY GREAT-GRANDDAUGHTER LOL. So that leaves Benjamin. ... I don't think I CAN marry Benjamin. ... I just sighed again. DANGIT WHY DON'T THEY HAVE PHONES I WANT TO LEAVE YOU A VOICEMAIL.
So anyways
... I'm bad with goodbyes. Obviously. OHGOD WHY AM I CRYING
Aaralyn, I really want to be back with you. I really do
But like
stupid time. Time stinks. ... so yeah.
---i know you like turtles soooo i drew one for you. DON'T MAKE FUN OF MY DRAWING SKILLS)

Epilogue Part III:
Spoiler: show
-23 years later-

"Dad! Where are my sunglasses?"
Katie was turning her room upside down, looking through her closest, under her bed, in her backpack. Surely they had to be somewhere!

"Your what?"
"MY SUNGLASSES. I had them like five minutes ago!" Katie sighed, flopping down on her bed. "Where could they be?"
"Well, it's probably--" Her father stepped into the doorway of her room, paused, then sighed. "Katie, did you consider checking the top of your head?"
"My-- oh! Thanks, dad." Katie threw her sunglasses into her purse. "Now, where did my heels go..."

"You know, I really don't approve of you going to this... shenanigan."
Katie turned around and stared at her father. "... shenanigan? Dad, you sound so old. It's just a party, then the dance." She shrugged. "No biggie."
"Yes, but you know how high school dances can be."
"But daaaaad," Katie whined. "I'm already all dressed up. It's a formal dance, dad. It's probably going to be a lot less 'wild' than what you think my school dances are like. It's all fancy and stuff."

"Oh! Speaking of that," Katie's mom peeked around the corner. "Katie, I have something for you to wear."
Katie shrugged. "Okay. What is it?"

Her mother walked down the hallway with a small box in her hand. She opened it, revealing a necklace, a tiny golden heart its pendant.

"It's beautiful!" Katie gasped. "But... mom, isn't that the necklace you usually wear?"
"It was," Her mother replied. "It was my great-grandmother's. My mother gave it to me when I was just about your age, so I figured I'd pass it on down and continue the tradition."
"Wow." Katie gaped at the necklace. "You... you really want me to wear that? It's okay?"
"Yes, absolutely!" Her mother gushed, clasping the necklace around the shorter girl's neck. "It goes beautifully with your dress, doesn't it, Aaron?"
"Absolutely," Katie's father nodded.

"Wow," Katie said again, walking into the living room to look at herself in the mirror.
"My baby's all grown up!" Her mother fake-sobbed, clutching onto Katie's shoulders.
"Mooom," Katie whined, laughing. Her eyes shifted over to one of the many pictures that sat on the shelf beside the mirror. "I can't believe she wore this," She mumbled, looking at the picture of her great-great grandmother. "And now I'm wearing it. I feel all... fancy," she giggled.
"You look fancy," Her father added. "Like Cinderella going to the ball."
"It's not a ball," Katie said. "It's just prom."
"Prom!" Her mother fake-sobbed again. "I can't believe a senior asked you to prom!"
"Yeah," Katie chuckled. "I'll probably be the youngest there."
"Eh, it's not so bad. I remember when your father asked me to prom when I was your age. I felt so fancy! But really, all the seniors are just big goofballs. It's not some stuffy affair. It's not a ball. You don't have to wear a petticoat or anything."
"Oh god, mom, I hope not." Katie laughed, rolling her eyes. "It's 2035, not 1905."
"Ah, yes, they wore a lot of petticoats back then," Aaron mumbled.
"Well, it's a good thing we can't revisit those days, then." Katie replied.

"Did I ever tell you about the time your mother and I stumbled across a magical time-traveling house?" Aaron asked.
"Daaaad," Katie sighed. "That story gets less and less believable every time you tell it. You seriously expect me to believe that time travel's actually real?"
"I wouldn't be so skeptical," Aaralyn piped in. "A very wise man once said time travel is real... if you know where to look."
"Yeah, yeah," Katie waved her mom off. "And so are unicorns."
"He also believed in unicorns," Aaralyn mumbled to herself.
"Yeah, great-great-granddad was crazy." Katie rolled her eyes.
"Hey, he wasn't... that crazy," Aaron said. "You were named after him, Caitlin."
"So are you implying that I'm crazy as well?" Katie snickered.
Aaralyn laughed. "We're all a little crazy around here." A car horn sounded, and she glanced out the window. "Looks like your ride's here!"
"Oh, crud! That's right, it's after 5:00! Bye mom, bye dad, love ya!" Katie grabbed her purse, slid on her sunglasses, and rushed out the door.

Aaron and Aaralyn stood there, watching as their daughter got in the car and drove off.
"Well," Aaron mumbled.
"Don't start this again!" Aaron laughed.
Aaralyn sighed, looking over at the picture of her great-grandmother. "She really looks like her," she mumbled.
"Only shorter," Aaron muttered in reply.
"And Asian," Aaralyn snickered, looking back over at Aaron.
"Oh, that's the oven," Aaralyn glanced over her shoulder. "Dinner is served!"
And so the two left the living room; left its couch, the coffee table, the fireplace, and the shelf over in the corner. And on that shelf, the picture of Samantha Moore, standing outside, face slightly blurred from trying to hold in a fit of laughter, and off to her left, the reasons why; her husband-- a tall fellow with curly hair and a goofy grin on his face, his arm thrown around a man equally as tall as him, with deep eyes that the black and white film didn't show as being chocolate brown.
Next to that picture, a color photo of a much older Cailean, a much older Samantha, and a much older Benjamin sitting in the front seat of a red convertible, all wearing leather motorcycle jackets and waving newspapers with the headline "WAR ENDS."
Next to that was a picture of the even-grayer Cailean standing in front of a crowd of demonstrating hippies, flashing the peace sign with one hand, the other hand on Benjamin's wheelchair, the older man wearing a pair of tinted sunglasses and imitating Cailean, huge grins on both of their faces.
And the last frame on the shelf; a tiny photo frame containing a tiny piece of yellowed paper, and on it a crudely drawn turtle with a heart on either side of it.

Author's Word:
Spoiler: show
-Because i feel like it, dangit.

so, ah
i just spent like an hour writing that epilogue thing
so i'm all creatived out
creatived is totally a word
i hope you enjoyed this? XD

what do authors usually say in their author's words?
lol because i never read those things

I honestly had no idea where this story was going when I started writing it.
So ah
I'm glad it got to end this way? XD

and 23 Rose Street is real.
i mean obviously there are a bunch of houses with the address "23 Rose Street"
and obviously the 23 Rose Street I'm talking about probably wasn't called "23 Rose Street" and probably isn't a time-traveling house (lol i've never wanted to go in there; it is literally full of raccoons and vultures and broken glass and I'M SCARED)
but yeah
there's this old, like, victorian-ish house on a hill somewhat far away-ish from my house. surrounded by trees so much so that it's only really visible in the winter when the trees don't have any leaves.
it probably didn't have a ballroom

so now you know my inspiration.
that's about it

Continuation #1: Cailean and Benjamin
Spoiler: show

Cailean was inconsolable for the first few nights he stayed at 23 Rose Street. The first two, he paced the hallways constantly, mumbling about how he'd "made a horrible decision" and would pull at his hair quite often as well.
The next three, I barely saw him. He'd locked himself in the room down the hallway from mine and wouldn't respond when I knocked on the door or called for him. Five nights after he arrived, I presumed him to either be extremely depressed or possibly dead.

On that fifth night, I was asleep in my bed. It was a chilly night, and the fact that the house had suffered such bad damage that most of the rooms had horrible drafts made it no better.

I was awakened by a very quiet knock at my door. Thinking nothing of it-- with the back of the house burned off, acorns would occasionally roll in and bounce off of doors, creating a faint sound of knocking-- I merely buried my face further into my pillow, still almost completely asleep.

However, I was jostled awake again-- this time not by a knock at my door, but by a dramatic shift I felt in my bed.

Before I could roll over to see who it was, I felt my blankets being pulled off of me. Barely two seconds later, when they were fully removed and I was colder than before, I decided then would be a good time to roll over.

And I came face to face with Cailean, rolled up like a burrito (or was it a taco? I always got those modern day foods mixed up) in my blankets, shivering and clutching onto something furry beneath the blankets-- almost certainly his teddy bear (which, to be quite frank, I found strange for him to bring back with him)

I didn't know whether to sigh in exasperation or rejoice at the fact that Cailean had finally left his room. So I decided to ask a fairly benign question.

"Cailean, why are you here?"

"Monsters," he shivered, snuggling himself into the blankets even more.

Okay, a sigh is a justifiable response in this situation.

"Cailean," I sighed. "There's no such thing as--"
"Sure there are," He mumbled in reply. I noticed that his voice was horribly quiet and cracked. Perhaps from not eating anything for the past five days and hardly drinking anything. Perhaps from not using it for a change. Perhaps from the sheer terror of these "monsters." Either way, it did not fit him at all. "And they're totally gonna eat me."

We stared at each other for a solid three minutes. I noticed that his eyes were not his own; they were full of weariness, of fear, of regret; nothing at all like the Cailean I had known a hundred and ten years in the future. I was absolutely certain that there were no such things as monsters, but seeing Cailean bundled up in the blankets, clutching his stuffed bear to his chest like it was his lifeline, shivering in fear, tears just starting to well up in the corners of his eyes--

"Fine," I sighed, rolling over. "Go to sleep."

"... are you cold?"
Yes, very, actually.
"No, I'm fine."
"But I'm cold."
How in the world are you cold when you are covered in every blanket in the house?
"Well, I'm sorry, but--"
I sighed once again, moving to get up from my bed. "All right, I'll start a fire in the firepl--"
"No!" Cailean shrieked, trying to sit up, but alas, he was bundled up so much that he could barely move. "No fire. I don't like fire."
Neither do I.
"Well, what do you want me to do, then?" I practically rolled my eyes-- a habit I managed to pick up during my short time in 2012.
Cailean pouted. "I don't know."

For at least the third time that night, I sighed, lying down as close as I could get to my-- well, Cailean's now, I guess-- blankets. I was not going to freeze to death.
"Want my teddy bear?"
I stared at him incredulously. "No. Why did you even bring that thing with you?"
"To protect me from the monsters," Cailean mumbled meekly.
"Well, look what a good job it's doing."
Cailean, unable to move his limbs at that point, threw his head back, then swiftly forward, bonking it against my forehead.
"OW!" I reeled back. "What was that for?"
"Mister Puffy is doing a perfectly good job of protecting me from the monsters! Look! Do you see any here?"
I rolled my eyes again. "No."
"So." Cailean nodded.
"So doesn't that mean I'm the one keeping the monsters away, in reality?"
There was a pause of nearly fifteen seconds in which Cailean stared off into space, thinking about as hard as I've ever seen him think.
"Could I stay here?"
"Why?" I replied.
"My room has a draft."
"I don--"
"And it's full of monsters."
"There's no such--"
"And your blankets are comfy."
I stared at him for another solid fifteen seconds. He stared back at me, shivering and trembling even more than when he first arrived here.
So, long story short, for the rest of my stay at 23 Rose Street, I had a nearly intolerable roommate that I could never bring myself to kick out.

Continuation #2: Aaralyn, Aaron, Benjamin, & Cailean
Spoiler: show

"99..." I counted.
I heard rustling behind me.
"99 and a half..."
Scurried footsteps, up three stairs, then back down.
"99 and three quarters..."
A potted plant moving.
"99 and seven eighths..."
A pause.

"Okay, I'm ready now!"

I uncovered my eyes and stared over at the girl crouched down behind the potted plant. "Aaaand I found you!"
She squealed as I picked her up and spun her around, her tutu spinning in a perfect circle.
"Now, Katie, the point of hide and seek is to not let the seeker know where you are. Especially after the seeker gives you like ten minutes to hide," I told her. "Aren't they teaching you this in school?"
She shook her head, her curls (that her mother had just put in that morning) bobbing.
I gasped in mock surprise. "Then what do they teach you in preschool?"
"They teach us colors, and the ABC, and how to tie our shoes."
"And not how to play hide and seek?"
She shook her head again. Ohmygod she is the most adorable thing in the entire world ever. End of story.

"Well, then!" I set her down. "You are now smarter than the average preschooler."
"Yay!" She clapped.
I turned around to see Aaralyn standing in the doorway.
"Mommy!" Katie jumped into her arms. "Uncle Cailean taught me the 'proper' way to hide and seek. Wanna play?"
Aaralyn chuckled, and shook her head. Okay, I stand corrected on the whole adorableness thing.
"Katie, why don't you go help daddy with the mashed potatoes?"
"Ooh!" The girl in the orange tutu (which looked very festive, of course, since I picked it out for her) exclaimed. "I wanna mash the potatoes!"
Aaralyn set her daughter down. "Go on! Help him before he somehow manages to catch the potatoes on fire again."
And with that, the little girl had bounded off in tiny steps, curls bobbing and tutu swishing as she ran.

Aaralyn chuckled, wiped her hands (which looked to have some sort of pumpkin goop on them) on her apron, and looked at me for a second (as if I was some sort of alien) before she walked up to me and gave me a friendly hug (which, of course, I returned)
"I'm so glad to see you again, Cailean..." She said. "I really missed you."
"I missed you, too," I replied, wiping some pumpkin goop off of her shoulder. "Need any help with the pumpkin pie?"
Aaralyn chuckled, pulling away. "Yeah, sure."
I followed her into the kitchen and took my place in front of the mixer. "All right, so where's the cinnamon?"

No reply.

"Hey, Aaralyn?" I turned around.

She wasn't there.

"Aara--" I started, but then suddenly, my vision was foggy.
The kitchen wasn't there any more.
It was cold.
It didn't smell like cranberries and turkey.
I couldn't hear Katie nagging Aaron about the correct way to mash potatoes.

I blinked a few times, and realized I was lying down.
Bundled up in blankets.
And there was some hideous wallpaper in front of me.

I sat up quickly, my head spinning as I did so.

A lonely little candle burned over in the corner.
Please, no...

I was back at 23 Rose Street.
Why? Why can't I just sleep forever?

I let out a sob, throwing my head back against my pillow.
Everything hurt.
Nothing was all right.
And nothing was going to be all right.
Why couldn't I be back with Aaralyn and Aaron and Brevyn and Fluffy?
Oh yeah, because stupid time is a stupid--

The door opened, momentarily interrupting my fit of sobbing and despair, before I realized who opened it.


And nothing's going to be all right ever again.

"Cailean, what's wrong?"

If I hadn't been sobbing so hard, I would've yelled at Benjamin to kindly remove his behiney from my room and go jump off a tall building. (also, I would've realized that since Benjamin and I shared a room, I couldn't really kick him out. ... and that they probably didn't have tall buildings in 1902.)

See, I think the problem with this whole thing is that I couldn't go back when I was old and sensible. Nope! They have to throw emotionally unstable, sobby, temperamental teenage Cailean into all this, not give him his bestest friends in the entire world, and expect him to be all right.

Life is really stupid.
Like, I'd be a better life than life is.
Because I'm totally smarter than life and have more respect for people's feelings.


I managed to breathe in enough air to choke out a reply. "Go away, Benjamin."
okay, I lied to you guys about how I said that.
Technically, I said essentially that, but in a much, much ruder way that I shall choose not to repeat in writing for fear of it making me sound like an insensitive jerk, especially after I made a huge point out of how I'm respectful of others' feelings.
Haha whoops.

"Cailean, you can tell me what's wrong."
"No," I replied between sobs. Stupid Benjamin.
"Cailean, relax."
"Don't tell me what to do!" I threw the blankets off of myself, accidentally elbowing Benjamin in the chest as I did so. Holy crud, he was right there?
I took in as deep of a breath as I could. No no no, I don't want to go off on a rant that's just going to make me look stupid.
Sure you do, Cailean!
... you know, conscience, sometimes I hate you.

"You can't tell me to relax!" I screamed. "You have no idea what I'm going through! How would you like it if you were taken away from your best friends, your pets, your family, and knew that you would never return, ever?! I want to be back home with Aaralyn and Aaron, not stuck back here in 1902 in a half-burned old house! And I certainly do not want to be stuck with you! You're the whole reason for all of this! If it wasn't for your stupid magical house, I would never be in any of this mess! I'd be living the normal life I was supposed to live!" Somewhere in the back of my head as I was ranting was the fact that it was most likely not Benjamin's fault that I had gotten stuck here, but he was a good a person as any to blame, and I was getting on a roll. I knew the words I'd eventually end up saying. And now's probably a good time to say them.
"I hate you!"
The last three words echoed throughout the old house three distinct times before fading away, turning into just another forgotten chunk of history.

With that, I turned around and walked out the door, not caring the slightest bit for the distraught Benjamin I left, probably injured, on the floor.

Ten minutes and about a mile later, something struck me.
What did you just do?

"Ohhh, I'm stupid." I mumbled to myself as I sat down under the nearest tree I could find. I spent a solid half hour grumbling to myself about how I was so stupid before my languidness alone put me to sleep. In the cold. Without my teddy bear. I really should've been more worried than I was, but all my negative energy had been spent on self-loathing so there wasn't much left to worry about Mister Puffy.

... Mister Puffy, if you've become self aware and are reading this right now, I'm genuinely sorry.

My sleep was highly nonrejuvenating and dreamless, but as I awoke, I realized that I was much warmer.
As I shifted, I realized I was holding something fluffy. I moved the object up to my line of sight.
"Mister Puffy!" I remarked.
"I thought you might've needed him."
I rolled over, and there was Benjamin. Under normal circumstances, I might have said things along the lines of "oh hello there, old chap! May I ask why you are here?" or... no, that was about all I would have normally said.
But instead, I started another sobbing fit. This time, into Benjamin's shoulder. (that poor boy goes through more than he deserves, come to think of it)
"Benjamiiiin," I sobbed. "I'm sorry I hit you even though that was an accident and I'm sorry I yelled at you and I'm sorry I said I hated you because I was being stupid and really I don't hate you I actually--"
"Cailean. Relax."
I decided that was probably an appropriate time to start taking Benjamin's advice.

"Now, come on," He stood up, and I followed. "It's Thanksgiving, right? Come help me make the pumpkin pie."
I walked side by side with Benjamin back to the house, Mister Puffy in my arms, a chill in the air, and the promise of pumpkin pie awaiting me.
Everything is all right, and everything is going to be all right.

Continuation #3: Aaralyn, Aaron, & Brevyn
Spoiler: show

So much happened in just a month.

Everywhere I looked-- it was on the news in our state and every state within a three hundred mile radius by now-- were missing posters of Cailean. He'd "been abducted," or "ran away," or had a menagerie of other things happen to him. There was no real "story" behind it. And, as I was dragged to another interview at the police station, Aaron and Brevyn by my side, I planned to stick to that story-- er, lack thereof-- for the third time.

"Are you sure?"
"Yes, sir," I answered. "I have no idea what happened."
"Cailean said he was just going to go home and rest," Aaron added.
"You didn't see anything out of the ordinary with him before?" The officer asked.
"No," all three of us shook our heads in unison.
"He looked... normal, you know?" Brevyn shrugged. "There wasn't really anything visibly wrong with him."

Officer Brown-- he was practically an acquaintance by now-- sighed, leaning back in his chair and shaking his head, lacing his fingers together and staring off in deep thought. "He's been gone for nearly a month now."
"Mmhmm." The three of us nodded.
"I hate to break it to you guys, but... at this point, the chances of Cailean coming back are slim at best. We literally have no lead. Our best search dogs can't pick up his scent. They just bring us back to that old house, but we've searched through the rubble endless times and haven't found any... remains. None of the officers in the surrounding states have seen anything. We have no suspects." He brought his eyes back down to us. "Not even you guys. Not that you're suspicious or anything, but you were some of the last people who saw him... but you seem like very honest kids."
Out of the corner of my eye, I saw Brevyn shift about a millimeter to the right.
"It's just like he disappeared," Officer Brown continued, not seeming to notice Brevyn's movement. "In my entire career, I've never seen anything quite like this..."

As Officer Brown trailed off, the door behind us opened and Officer Susie (as we called her; she didn't seem to be much over 30 and she had something against last names because they made her feel "old") walked in, Baxter the bloodhound at her side.
"Officer Brown," she nodded, closing the door behind her.
"Ah, Susan, you're back. Did you find anything at the cemetery?"
Brevyn shifted another millimeter.
"Well, actually," Susie laughed dryly. "It looks like our subject is dead."
Officer Brown's eyes widened. "What?"
Susie laughed again, tossing a shiny new photo across the desk. "Chill out, Brown. Just thought it was something of interest. Found that headstone while Baxter and I were going through stuff. 'Cailean Moore, 1887-1970.' Not sure if Baxter can read or not, but he laid down on top of that grave for a solid twenty minutes before I could get him to move."
Officer Brown's eyes scanned the picture for a couple seconds before he let out a dry chuckle. "Well, looks like Baxter's quite the smarty pants, huh?"
Baxter had no response.
"Really though, Susan," Officer Brown was back to being serious again. "Unless we find out that Cailean has somehow invented a time machine, this really provides us with no leads."
Officer Susie shrugged. "I dunno, Officer Brown. At this point, do we really have anything else pointing us in another direction?"
"Yeah, but," Aaron piped up. "Don't you think having no evidence pointing in a normal direction is better than some evidence pointing in an impossible direction? As far as I know, Cailean wasn't a time-traveler."
Baxter whimpered and Brevyn shifted again. Aaron shot a glance in my direction.
"Yeah..." I inserted myself in the conversation, not entirely sure what Aaron was wanting me to say. "And besides, Cailean Moore was my great-grandfather. Not Cailean Moore, my best friend. I just always thought it was a weird coincidence."
"Great-grandfather, huh?" Susie looked surprised. "Well whaddya know, it's a small world after all!"

"Please, Susan," Officer Brown sighed. "This will lead us nowhere."
"Hmm," Susie pouted, taking out her phone. "I wanna search up this guy."
Brevyn shifted again.
She started typing. "Might be interesting,"
I saw some of the color drain from his face.
She leaned back against the wall. "Just go on whatever sort of lead we have..."
Dang, has the boy ever lied before?
"Ah, there, it finally loaded," Susie sighed, poking around on her phone's screen a couple times before the color drained from her face as well. Finally, she looked up and laughed again.
"Well, Aaralyn, your great-grandfather and your best friend certainly look a lot alike! The world just got a ton smaller!" She turned the phone so the rest of us could see it, and there was a photo, circa 1911, of none other than Cailean.
Officer Brown stared at it for a minute. "Impossible, really. As strange as that is, it tells us nothing. You always see those pictures on the internet of celebrities and people from a hundred years ago who look just like them. Heck, with all the pictures of Cailean going around the internet now, that could be photoshopped for all we know!"
"It was put on this website in 1995," Susie interrupted, back to scanning through her phone.
"But still!" Officer Brown practically shouted. "We're no closer to finding Cailean."
Susie sighed. "All right then. So are you done with the kids now?"
"I suppose. I'm not sure why the other officers think they know anything about the situation."
This time, Brevyn didn't shift, but he had gone from paper white to a sickly green.
"All righty then, I'll escort them out. No sense in keeping them here any longer." Susie shoved the phone back in her jacket and motioned for the three of us to get up. We followed immediately, Brevyn a couple seconds behind us.

"So," Susie laughed again as we made it out to the lobby. "Your friend, the time traveler."
We didn't respond to that.
"And suddenly you all get quiet." She mumbled. "If what we really have here is a case of time-travel kidnapping involving that old house... hah, I suppose there's not much we can do. But really, we'll do our best to find Cailean. He's out there somewhere."
"Apparently he's a hundred years in the past," Aaron remarked sarcastically. That was honestly the only time I'd ever seen someone say the truth in a sarcastic tone. At that moment, I also realized that Aaron the big hot-shot senior (and my boyfriend at that time... okay, guys, stop looking at me like that) was about five trillion times better at lying than Brevyn would ever hope to be.
Susie laughed, the sound echoing throughout the nearly-empty police station. "Can't say I've ever had to solve a time-traveling crime before... challenge accepted, Aaron."
"So..." Brevyn desperately tried to change the subject. "Will you ever find him?"
Susie sighed. "Honestly? No, I'm not thinking so. If we don't even have anything resembling a lead now, then the chances of us finding one in the future are next to zero, but you probably knew that already... sorry, kids. I know this must be hard on all of you."
We nodded as somberly as we could.
"I suppose you all should get back to school now."
"Yeah." Aaron shrugged. "Thanks for getting me out of my calc test, though."
"Hey, no problem, man!" Susie replied. "And believe me, you guys, if we ever find any sort of lead, you will be the first people we call."
We thanked Susie as we headed out the door, but in our minds, we knew there probably wouldn't be any calls.

And there weren't.

Continuation #4: Brevyn's Monologue
Spoiler: show
You probably don't know me very well as of right now...
You've probably only heard Aaralyn's description of me.
Which, like, is fine and all... I mean, sure, I'm popular. Sure, I'm in a lot of clubs. Sure, I could date any cheerleader I wanted to.
Not that I want to.
Actually, I really don't.
Without delving into the topic of relationships here (having not been in one... yes, yes, you may commence with the teasing), I have a certain other person in mind...



Something happened to them.

You already know.

You've seen Aaralyn's side of the story... Cailean's side of the story... Benjamin's side of the story... heck, you've even seen a little of Aaron's side of the story.

I'm really the only one you haven't heard from yet.

So, once again...

My name is Brevyn.
And this is my side of the story.


Aaralyn's always been one of my good friends. Not nearly as close a friend as Cailean, but a good friend nonetheless. Nice. Smart. Funny. Heck, if I wanted to, I would even call her pretty.

I used to hate Benjamin with every fiber of my being. I regret that he left while we were on such bad terms... I mean, I kinda feel guilty that I couldn't make things better with him, but I suppose the past is the past, right? Especially when it's a hundred and ten years in the past.

Aaron... Aaron, I never really knew all that much until he randomly showed up at my lunch table one day and decided that would be his residence during seventh period for the rest of the semester.
I still don't know much about Aaron.
He's one of those mysterious seniors who does mysterious senior things that us lowerclassmen never know about.
But, I mean... he seems pretty nice.
Don't you think Aaron's nice?
I mean, there are a lot of overly confident seniors who are really just giant jerks... but Aaron's genuinely pretty nice.
And smart.
And don't tell Aaralyn, but I think he's under the impression that they'll get married and move into a house by the beach and live happily ever after.
Ha, like that's ever going to happen.

Life isn't like that.


Oh, sorry. I spaced off there for a second... I do that sometimes. Aaralyn probably didn't mention that. I just like getting lost in my own thoughts sometimes...

Only sometimes I get lost in thoughts I really don't want to be lost in.
And then it turns into that spine-chilling feeling... I'm lost. I want to go home. Why am I here? What kind of place is this? Desolate... bereft... disconsolate...
And suddenly, my own mind-- my sanctuary, my safe haven-- turns into a inhospitable prison full of nothing but nefarious, hostile thoughts... of dreadful, distressing recollections of moments I never wanted to live through again... yet, every time I space off, there they are...


You're still here.

Sorry about that.

Ah, well, life goes on outside of my mind, however dark and twisted it can be at times.
And I still haven't told you my opinion on one other person...

I could talk about this boy through the night and still have more to say... my words can do him no justice. Words do not describe this boy... his actions do. However stupid those actions may be, and no matter how much those actions impact other people... people he might have never even considered...

Another thing you guys can't tell Aaralyn, okay?
When I'm at rock bottom, when I'm in the worst of moods, when I have been plagued by nightmares and tormented by the souls of my past and present... in those times, when I close my eyes...
When I was younger, I used to see scary things. Creepy-crawlies. Bugs. Spiders. Clowns. Things that would haunt me, turn my mind inside out and shake it around until nothing but the bad remained... lately, that's changed. Now, when I close my eyes, I'm brought back to the graveyard.
To seeing Cailean's grave.
I'm not usually one to cry. I may show it when I'm mad, or happy, or annoyed, but I never cry.
Yet, that night... I went home and I bawled. I just lost it and completely bawled my eyes out, in the shower, like a girl. I thought getting my feelings all out at once would help, and that Cailean's inevitable death-before-he-existed would be a faded memory after that.
However, to this day, the memory of his grave is enough to agonize me to the point of actual, physical pain. I haven't cried-- can't cry, shouldn't cry-- since, but now the bugs, the spiders, and the clowns have been replaced with a stupid hunk of stone engraved with "Cailean Moore -- 1887-1970."

You guys probably think I'm crazy.
Who knows? Maybe I am.
I mean, not that this whole situation isn't crazy itself...

I mean, come on. Time traveling house.

Really old time traveling house.

I never thought such a thing existed.

... well, I don't think anyone did.

I really don't have much to say on the house. I'm not nearly as familiar with it as the other three are.

But to think that such a thing is able to exist... I mean, that's truly one of those unfathomable things to me.

I mean, now that we're aware that these exist, who's to say that unicorns aren't real? That Santa Claus isn't the one that comes down your chimney on Christmas Eve? That there isn't a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow?

Who's to say that everything we've ever been told about anything is true? What if everything is a lie? What if life itself is a lie? What if time isn't linear? What if it's polka-dotted? What if our very universe isn't some wide open field peppered with daisies? What if it's a giant tangled mess of yarn, weaving over and under itself randomly, no real empty space, and impossible knots that cannot be untied? What if this thing-- "life"-- that we've come to know... isn't what we think it is? What if sight, hearing, touch, taste, and smell don't even begin to tell us what's really around us?

Sure, those things seem improbable.

But so does a time-traveling house.

And clearly, those exist.

Continuation #5: Cailean & Brevyn in the Graveyard
Spoiler: show
/lol i know this already happened but i just realized you guys have no idea what actually happened... SO HERE IT IS\


This whole thing confused me so much.
"Whoa, whoa, wait. Fill me in," I held up my hands, stopping Aaron in the middle of another one of his philosophical/logical seniorly reasoning things.
He sighed. "Okay, so, there's this house-- 23 Rose Street, just across the street from Aaralyn's house."
No, duh.
"As it turns out, when we went in, it transported us 110 years in the past. Leaving the house brought us back to the present."
You can stop with the condescending tone now, Aaron... I know this already.
"But then we went there one day and there was a fire that burned down the majority of Rose Street and a tree fell towards the house so we ran out and Benjamin somehow got stuck here with us and now when we go back into the house, nothing happens."
Oh. That's new.
I nodded. "I think I kind of get it..."
Fire burns house. House gets broken. Makes sense.
Aaron turned back to Cailean, who was busy sobbing. "But listen, Cailean, you cannot go back into the house now. Even if it is still broken. You never know what could happen, okay? There, problem solved. You stay away form the house, you stay here while we go to the mausoleum, and you will be just fine, got it?"

Obviously not.
Aaron was perhaps one of the dumbest seniors I knew when it came to logical reasoning.
Cailean would most certainly not be fine, as much as I wanted to believe that, and as much as the fact was eating away at my heart at the current moment. His grave was literally five feet from me. He died. Stupid Cailean found some way to get back into the house, or he was forced to do so against his will.

It was probably stupid Benjamin's fault.

I hated that guy.

But either way, Cailean had already died. There wasn't much that could be done about it.

"Okay," Aaron finally stood up. "Let's go. Come on, Benjamin."
"I--" Stupid Benjamin opened his mouth to protest. Oh no you don't, pretty boy.
"I'll stay back here," I said, folding my arms over my chest and stopping Benjamin in the tracks of whatever he was going to say. "Benjamin, you should really go back where you belong," I added, trying my best not to sound like, as Cailean put it, a jealous girlfriend. I wish...

Benjamin, being the stupid gentleman he was, hesitated for a moment before giving me a sympathetic look-- like one might give to the parent of a child with a terminal illness-- and stood up, glancing back at Cailean more than once as he headed off with Aaralyn and Aaron to finally go back to his own time and leave Cailean the heck alone.

As soon as he was out of eyeshot, I sat down next to the aforementioned pile of sobbing teenage boy sitting on top of his own grave.

"Cailean..." I whispered, rubbing his back. His sobbing didn't die down even a little. Okay, time to lie. "Cailean, you're going to be okay."

"You said I was going to die. You can't fool me, Brad," He mumbled. Well, darn.
"Well, maybe you won't die. You never know, Cailean. There are probably-- er, were probably-- tons of Cailean Moores... it might not have been you," I replied, my tone betraying me. Okay, I'm not good at lying. I get it.
Cailean sighed, sitting up and looking over at me. His eyes were red and puffy from crying, and a blade of grass was stuck to the side of his face.
I couldn't help but giggle, brushing the green stripe off. "You probably inhaled a few bugs, you know..."
A simple, short huff was his reply as he reverted to his earlier position, knees pulled up against his chest, arms wrapped around them, back up against his grave.
"Oh, so you're willing to be all cuddly with Benjamin, but as soon as I get within ten feet of you, you turn into a deaf turtle?"
I waited for a moment, and was about to say something along the lines of "your non-existant response isn't really helping your case," until I heard a barely audible mumble from the deaf turtle.

"Why do you hate him so much?"
"What?" I asked in response, even though I'd heard him loud and clear.
"You heard me."
I sighed, tilting my head back and looking up at the moon. "I don't hate Benjamin. I just..."
"Like me?"
Yes, pretty much.
"What?" I looked back down at Cailean and saw him revert to his deaf-turtle position.
"Nothing," he mumbled.
Another pause.
"Just bury me now," he sighed. Even though it was dark, I could see his ears turning red, and I knew his face probably matched it.
I chuckled dryly. Normally I would've been able to think of something witty, but now I was just too embarrassed to do anything other than be a sitting duck.
A duck and a deaf turtle sitting by a grave. Quite the odd pairing.

After what seemed like an eternity, I let out a sigh. "You probably know this, but you're going to die."
Cailean stared at me incredulously. "So which is it?"
"Which what?" I blinked.
"Am I 'going to be just fine,' or am I 'going to die'?"
I didn't answer.
Now it was Cailean's turn to stare up at the moon.
"Technically, we all have to die at some point or another..." He mumbled.
I shrugged. "Yeah, I suppose."
"You suppose? So what, Brevyn, you plan to live forever?"
I chuckled. "That'd be nice."
"But technically, Brevyn, you're going to die as well. So telling me I'm going to die isn't much of a valid scare tactic."
I glanced over at him. He was still staring up into the sky. "Are you having another one of those manly moments where your brain actually works?"
"Yes, actually."
I decided to sit back in silence and admire the moment.

"I mean... sure, from what the grave says, I'm going to go back in time and die there. But you never know when. Heck, I could go back when I'm like seventy. I might still have a lot of time to spend here in the present. Lots of things I still have yet to do... graduate high school, for one. College. Get married. Live in a nice house. I have a whole life ahead of me here. Sure, I go back sometime, but who says that time isn't when I'm old and gray? It probably will be." He yawned, his speech getting slower and sleeper as he went on. "Lots of stuff still left to do... who says I can't live my life normally? I mean, this isn't some sort of terminal illness... based on the grave," too sleepy to reach behind him, he simply nodded his head back a couple of times, bonking it on the worn stone of the grave marker. "I die of old age. I lived a good life. I just went somewhere else to die, I suppose..." Another yawn. This time, it was followed by him steadily tipping over to his left. "No big deal..."

And, with that last understatement, I was left unable to move from my spot, a very sleepy Cailean in my lap, his eyes still red from how much he had been crying earlier. But hey, a sleeping Cailean is better than a sobbing Cailean.

As the hours passed, I fell asleep as well. Very, very early the next morning, my phone vibrated.

Aaralyn: we're in. Come here.

So Cailean-- still not fully conscious-- and I set off for the mausoleum. In the dark, I silently remarked. Stupid Aaron, taking the stupid flashlight with him... should've brought two...

"Brevyn?" Cailean mumbled sleepily, wiping his eyes as he trudged along beside me.
"Yeah?" I looked back at where I assumed Cailean was.
"Do you like ice cream?"
I stopped in my tracks-- and heard Cailean stop not half a second later-- and rolled my eyes. "What does that have to do with anything, Cailean?"
I heard his jacket rustle as he shrugged. "Well, do you?"
"Sure," I answered plainly, picking up my pace again.
"Hey, cool! Me, too!"
If I knew where, exactly, he was, I would've slapped him for being so lame.
"So..." He continued. "Um. Are you busy after school?"
"Yeah, usually," I replied.
I heard him mumble an "aw."
"Um..." He started up again. "Like, are you ever not busy?"
"Well, all the fall play stuff will be over by the beginning of December. I'll probably have some free time then."
"Oh!" He exclaimed, tone much happier. "So... you won't be busy then... so, like... maybe... since you like ice cream, and I like ice cream, maybe we could, um, go to the ice cream parlor... together... like, hang out... because I know you don't like Benjamin and all and now that he's back where he's supposed to be, I thought I'd... you know... sorry and whatnot..."
Well, his manly, mature moment is certainly over now.
"Sure," I laughed. "We can hang out and get some ice cream. But who'd eat ice cream in December?"
"Who wouldn't eat ice cream in December?"
"Well, I wouldn't. It's already cold enough," I chuckled, shoving my hands into the pockets of my hoodie.
"What, are you cold? It's only, like, fifty degrees out here. It's not that bad. I'm actually kind of too warm," I could practically hear Cailean roll his eyes. I heard his jacket rustle again, and suddenly he slung it over my shoulders. "Wimp. And, for the record, it's not against the law to eat cold food when it's cold outside, contrary to what you may believe."
"Well, I just..." I mumbled, suddenly unable to form complete thoughts. "I just don't eat ice cream in the winter. It's just never occurred to me as a sensible thing to do."
My phone buzzed again.
Aaralyn: you're taking too long. What are you two doing? o_O Sending Aaron to get you.
Cailean laughed, ignoring the text. "Sensible. I guess this'll be something new and dangerous for you to try."
I couldn't help but smile. "Looking forward to it."

-December 14-

Fall play was over. I was free to do whatever I pleased after school.
So there I sat in the ice cream shop.
Cailean was right; eating ice cream in the winter was surprisingly normal.
If he'd been there, he'd probably be singing "I told you so, I told you so!!" in my face and embarrassing me in front of the exactly two other people there.
But, of course, Cailean wasn't there.
So I could only repeat it in my head.
He told you so, Brevyn!

Continuation #6: Cailean & Benjamin
(final continuation, story's over now, i promise XD)

Spoiler: show

Strange as it may seem for me to tell you this, I found out as the years went by that Cailean was the strong one.

Sure, he may have thrown a temper tantrum on his twentieth birthday when I told him "hey, you're a grown man, you have to marry Samantha and everything, you can't keep living with me."
He may have come to me several times in the middle of the night once he had married Samantha. And many more times after the two of them had a daughter. Only those times, he would usually come to me in a panic because "oh dear god, baby Molly's probably dying, she sneezed, OHMYGOD BENJAMIN SHE SNEEZED THIS CAN'T BE NORMAL."
And, more recently, he may have come to me several times lately, reverting back to his teenage temper tantrums of how life wasn't fair and he missed Aaralyn.

But he was always the strong one.

Unfortunately, I only really truly realized it in the past month.

"Naaaaah, Benjamin, I'm fine," he said for the millionth time in a row (you can't blame me for asking), though I could tell he was lying.
"Fine?" I rolled my eyes, though I knew he couldn't see it from where he was.
"Hey, I'm at least better off than you are, man. Or shall I let you get up out of this wheelchair and walk yourself home?"
He had a point.
"But still..." I mumbled. "The doctors gave you--"
"Baloney!" Cailean shouted, causing a few passing teenagers in bell-bottom jeans to stare at us. "A meteor's going to kill me or something. I'm not going to be all... old and die from... oldness. As the kids these days would say, that wouldn't be hip, man."
"We don't say that, old man!" One of the bell-bottom teens shouted after us.
"CHILL OUT, MAN." Cailean stopped pushing me for a moment to shout behind him. For someone who claimed to be "not old," he certainly enjoyed yelling at teenagers.

He paused, satisfied that he wouldn't get a response from the hooligans, and continued pushing me. "Kids these days. I don't understand them!" Suddenly, he coughed.
"I'm. Fine. Bro." He sighed once he got his breath back. "Don't argue with me or I'll push you out into traffic, old man. The cars might not go as fast as they did in my time, but it'd still hurt if one ran you over."
There was a brief moment of silence.

"Cailean?" I tilted my head back to look at him.
"It's 1970."
"I know."
"It's December of 1970."
"I'm aware. I may be old and senile, but I still know what month it is. Snow... duh..."
"I know. I'm going to die soon. Like, really soon. I got it. So are you, so quit worrying about me," he said sternly, breaking eye contact with me and staring in front of him.
I reached up and poked him to get him to focus on me again-- along with going "senile" (I noticed no change in him; perhaps he was senile all this time), he was also partially deaf. He could hear fairly well, but still liked to use his "deafness" to ignore people.

"I'm not going to stop worrying about you," I said. "I haven't stopped worrying about you for the past, oh, 68 years."
"Benjamin, you old coot," he rolled his eyes. "I think it's time for you to stop worrying about me, then. I can take care of myself. And others. Heck, I've been your personal taxi service for like a year now. I think that's proof that I'm perfectly fine and there's no need to worry about me."
"Okay, okay," I held my hands up in defense.
There was a short pause before Cailean spoke again.
"Okay, scratch that, perhaps you could start worrying about me again now..."
"What? What is it?"
"Where are we?"
I sighed. "Cailean, the year is 1970--"
I felt something soft hit my head with an almost comical "poof!" sound. As clumps and flakes of white fell down onto my lap and melted immediately, I realized Cailean had attempted to start a snowball fight.
"I'm not that senile, you dunderhead. Like, how do we get home...?"
"Oh," I sighed. "Go down three blocks to Brown street..."
Not even two weeks later, I had my Christmas officially ruined.
It was nearly 10:00 at night when the phone rang. I wheeled myself over (okay, I admit, life was a lot harder without Cailean as my "personal taxi service") and picked it up.
"Uncle Ben..." I heard sobbing from the other side and I knew immediately who it was and why she was calling.
"Ann? Ann, what's wrong?"
"It's daddy, he..."
"Ann, I'm sorry." I knew what happened. "I'm so sorry..."
She sniffled. "I was going to say the same thing to you. He... I shouldn't be telling you this, you'll think I'm crazy..."
"Try me."
"About an hour before... you know... he started saying stuff."
"What kind of stuff?" I had to put in way more effort than should have been necessary to keep my voice from cracking. I had to stay calm or else Ann-- just as sensitive as her father-- would lose it.
I heard her chuckle. "Some wild story about, about time travel again. About 23 Rose Street... about how you two met and, and Benjamin, I swear he went on a five-minute rant about how stupid your outfit was... blue velvet..."
I couldn't help but chuckle.
"And how he ended up sneaking out of his house every night for like two weeks straight just to talk to you... how you somehow got stuck in the future and he got to take you to school and was so mad whenever a girl would talk to you... how he cried himself to sleep for a week after you got sent back to your own time and he was left in the future..."

She sniffled again.
I couldn't help but notice that there was a change in the air. It felt... stiller. Emptier. Darker. Something was wrong.
"Ann, let me tell you something, because something tells me I might not get to say it to you tomorrow," I lowered my voice to just above a whisper. (as if anyone was going to hear me; despite Cailean's nagging, I lived alone) "Everything Cailean said was 100% true. All that stuff did happen. You're going to live to be old enough to see him again, as your granddaughter's best friend. Trust me though, from what he told me, you didn't like him too much until he introduced himself. But 23 Rose Street's real. Everything's real. Everything happened just as Cailean said it. He's not a senile old man, Annabelle; he's just... a time traveler. Ha. But yes. All of that stuff actually happened."
Ann sniffled for what had to be the dozenth time. "If all that's true, then..."
My mind came up with a few hundred different things that could've followed that. "... where are the other magical time traveling gates," "what's the future like," "why'd Cailean get stuck back here..."

Pretty much everything except for what Ann actually said.
"He must've really loved you, uncle Benjamin."
So much for my composure.

"Well, I loved him too, of course."

"Uncle Benjamin, are... are you okay?"
I shook my head before realizing Ann probably couldn't see it. Stupid telephones. I didn't understand them in 2012; I don't understand them now.
Eh. It at least gives me a chance to lie.

"Yes, Ann, I'm fine. I think you should really spend some time with your family now. It's Christmas. They need you. Cailean's gone, Samantha's gone... they're going to look to you for comfort."
"Why not you? Why can't you be here, Benjamin?"
Well, because I'm going to die tonight.
"I'm old and tired, Ann. I couldn't be there if I tried. I'm sorry."
"I-it's okay, uncle Ben... ha, Cailean also mentioned something about how it wasn't fair that he was dying first, seeing as you were worse off than him for quite a while there... but you're right. I should... go. I-I'm sorry, Benjamin."
"I'm sorry, too. Merry Christmas, Ann."
"Merry Christmas."

Well, you old coot, are you happy now?
Why would I be?
You get to live two whole hours longer than me. Whoo hoo.
Shut up.
Make me, old man!
I'm going insane.
Who's senile now?
Still you.
... well, yeah, but...
Good night, Cailean. See you in, what, two hours?
Good night, Benjamin.

Want to be VMed when a new chapter comes up? Just tell me and I'll put your name down on the list. ^.^

princessgames07-07-2012 02:10 PM

Re: *~23 Rose Street~* Two teens discover an abandoned house hidden away behind the trees. -Chapter 1 is up!-
VM list please! :D

aquahusky1407-07-2012 02:52 PM

Re: *~23 Rose Street~* Two teens discover an abandoned house hidden away behind the trees. -Chapter 1 is up!-
VM List! This looks really good :D

Dark_Hunters207-07-2012 04:47 PM

Re: *~23 Rose Street~* Two teens discover an abandoned house hidden away behind the trees. -Chapter 1 is up!-
i'd like to be added to the VM list :) i love this story already

BalletLove:)07-07-2012 07:26 PM

Re: *~23 Rose Street~* Two teens discover an abandoned house hidden away behind the trees. -Chapter 1 is up!-
VM list, please!!!!

dogfins07-07-2012 07:57 PM

Re: *~23 Rose Street~* Two teens discover an abandoned house hidden away behind the trees. -Chapter 1 is up!-
Gah!! This is amazing!!

VM list palease!!! :D

SatriaRyder07-07-2012 10:03 PM

Re: *~23 Rose Street~* Two teens discover an abandoned house hidden away behind the trees. -Chapter 1 is up!-
:2funny: I love it! Add me to your VM list please?

Robolo10107-08-2012 12:58 PM

Re: *~23 Rose Street~* Two teens discover an abandoned house hidden away behind the trees. -Chapter 1 is up!-
Gahh I love it.♥
VM list please!

softbop07-08-2012 06:36 PM

Re: *~23 Rose Street~* Two teens discover an abandoned house hidden away behind the trees. -Chapter 1 is up!-
Wow b1u, you are a really good writer! I can't wait for more! Keep up the good work :hug:

tarabella907-08-2012 10:16 PM

Re: *~23 Rose Street~* Two teens discover an abandoned house hidden away behind the trees. -Chapter 1 is up!-
YAAAAAAAAYYYYYY! You posted a story! :clap: Slap my name on the VM list right now! :D

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