The next morning; they were all awakened by the sound of a gruff security card; screaming ” How the hell did you kids get in here?” “You are in big trouble, you realize this is breaking and entering, right” All waking from their hangover; they were confused. Who was the security guard? And why was he calling them kids, they were grown adults. They wondered if this was the guy that padlocked all the doors. Was he some sort of psycho? Were they in danger? At this point they all looked at each other in total confusion. John said groggily ” Dude, I don’t who you are but you’re not a cop, I’m calling the real cops” He reached for his phone; only to find it gone. What the hell? He said “Where is my phone?” They all reached for their phones and they realized that they also didn’t have their phones. They wondered if maybe they had all lost their phones; because you, know; they were drunk. They barely had time to think before the security card threatened to call their parents and ban them from the mall. “My parents?” said Tom. “We are all in our 30’s; we don’t live with our parents” “Very funny, smart guy; you can call your folks from the office” said the increasingly angry security guard. None of them knew how to react and Lauren said ” Listen you creep, we don’t know how you are and you are obviously crazy, so stay away from us, we’re leaving.
As soon as they walked out; they all of a sudden saw all of these customers; like the mall had never closed. People were walking in and out of the entrance and they couldn’t believe their eyes. They asked a few people to use their cellphone and were surprised to hear people exclaim “I don’t have a phone, use the payphone, buddy” “Who uses a payphone anymore” said Lauren. A man rolled his eyes and said “Stupid kids” “Why do they keep calling us kids” said John. They were all so confused. And the people they saw just looked different; their clothes seemed outdated and so did their hairstyles. Tom noticed a young teenage boy wearing jnco jeans; he hadn’t seen that in over 20 years. Another man walked past them wearing an old Starters jersey; was it 90’s throwback day or something; it was really weird. Tom walked by a mirror and his heart dropped; he didn’t see himself in the mirror or his friends. Instead he saw himself as he was in 1995; A young 13 year old boy with his friends the same age. He motioned his friends to the mirror and the shock overtook them as well; why were they seeing their past selves in this mirror. It was making sense to them why the security guard called them kids and mentioned contacting their parents. They realized that somehow during their time in the abandoned mall they have traveled back in time. How was it possible? Surely time travel didn’t exist. This felt like something out of the twilight zone. The question came about of how they could manage to get themselves back to the present day. They had no idea since they didn’t know how they had traveled back in time in the first place.
Lauren thought about all the possibilities; maybe she could do things differently; maybe she could make better choices and make the future better. Tom and John were weary of this. John said ” I’ve seen the butterfly effect and that didn’t end well” Lauren stated “that was a movie; this is real life” But Tom added warning “Anything we do now can have dire consequences in the future” And Tom realized “On second thought our present day is pretty shitty and there are so many things I could do differently” They decided that since they had traveled to the past; they would try to do things right this time. I mean, what could possible go wrong. This was beginning to feel like quite the adventure. “This is like a really weird 80’s science fiction movie, you know” said Lauren.
They stepped out of that mall and they were instantly floored at all the old cars and businesses that had long been gone in 2019. They walked by and laughed to themselves; passing by a television story with news reports of President Clinton. They walked by their old high school; a place where they were outcasts. They heard the sound of their football team playing and all the students in the stand cheering. “I forgot how much I hated them” said John. They all shook their heads in agreement; they were not eager to reminisce their high school days. They happened upon another friend who was walking past them. It was Mark Henderson; he had died in Iraq in 2004; they all stood in shock and disbelief but here he was alive as if he’d never grown up and in this world he was still that goofy kid they all remembered. He approached them and said “I’m going to see the Chilli Peppers tonight and I have an extra ticket, do you want to go Lauren? Lauren instantly remembered how Mark had the biggest crush on her; he was cute but wasn’t her type. She recalled the time when he finally mustered up the courage to ask her out and she told him she had a boyfriend when she really didn’t. She was overcome with those emotions and was also realizing the boy standing in front of no long existed in the present day. She felt like crying but she composed herself and said “Sure, Mark” knowing full well she wasn’t going anywhere with him; hoping soon she’d back in the present day. He said “Great!!” trying to hide his excitement. He said well I’ll see you around 5 pm Lauren? She nodded her head. As he walked into the distance Tom “Whoa that was weird, man. The hairs on the back of my neck are standing. We just talked to a dead guy; they sat on the sidewalk just trying to figure what to do next.
They all decided to walk to Tom’s house; which was a few blocks away. It was exactly how he remembered it. Years ago his parents had died and the estate bulldozed that home; which was on the corner; to make way for a new coffee shop. Every time he saw that coffee shop he felt extreme sadness that his childhood home was gone; but here it was in all of it’s glory. It wasn’t a big home but it had so many fond memories. A part of Tom was excited to see his parents again and saw his little sister Ariana ( 10 years old) sitting on the stoop. He ran to give her a hug; their current relationship was strained and he hadn’t talked to her in years; since she and her husband moved to Arizona to run a small business. He realized how much he loved his sister at that moment as she extended her arms in a big hug; it was such a good feeling. His mom and dad greeted him with a smile; he held back tears; remembering the grief of both his parents having died a few years back.. They said “Oh Tom, nice of you to come home. You stayed over at Johns and didn’t bother to tell us” “Oh hello Lauren” They scolded him for apparently not coming home early enough but didn’t want to make a scene in front of his friends. This was all too weird they thought but went with it. They all had breakfast since they were starving. John chuckled when he noticed Ariana watching Animaniacs; he was like “Oh I haven’t seen that show in years” and sat down to watch with her. She looked confused “What do you mean? The show is on all the time and you always watch it with me” “Stop being stupid” “Ariana!!” exclaimed Tom’s mother ” Don’t be rude to your brother’s friends” “Sorry” she said to John and they continued to watch cartoons. After the meal Tom told his parents that they were going out again and he was about to say “I’ll text you when I’m coming home’ it slowly dawned on him that no one had a cell phone. he had totally forgotten that cell phones were non existent during his childhood; he had to remember to relay on payphones which were a pain in the ass since he had no quarters. So he said ” Ok, mom. I’ll call you from Lauren’s to let you know I’m coming home”
As they were leaving Lauren said she wanted to visit her parents and John was like “oh hell no I’m not going back to my family” John has grown up in an abusive household with an alcoholic father and a negligent mother; he had no intentions of going down memory lane with them. John stopped and cried; thinking about his painful childhood. Oh fuck this, he said. I just want to go back home; I really don’t want to be here. He broke down, completely distraught. Lauren put his arm around him and in comforting tone stating’ “We don’t have to go back there, John: You know we love you, it’s alright” “John, do you mind if I see my parents and brothers and sisters?” John nodded his and through sniffles said yes.
They headed to Lauren’s house which was wasn’t far. It was a town home; near the middle school they had all attended. Lauren had happy memories; she loved her parents and her two brothers and sister. Even in the present day; she was close with them. She reached her pocket and to her surprise; she had a house key; opened the door and found her older brother watching a football game on tv and drinking a beer; he was 22 at time and although he was much older; they got along and he was very protective of her. He barely noticed her walked in the door and greeted her he said “Hey” in distracted tone. She asked him where mom and dad were and he said seemed annoyed ” Don’t be funny, you know they are visiting grandma in Michigan” Oh she said in a disappointed voice “I forgot” She saw her younger brother and sister playing outside; her brother had a little game boy that he was fixated on and her little sister was playing on the swing with one of the neighbor girls. The memories came flooding back and she was filled with emotion; she wasn’t prepared for the on slot of memories. She thought of John next to her and was blessed to have had such a loving family. She remembered how John would always want to come over for dinner but she was never welcome at his house; after all these years she finally figured out why and appreciated her friend John even more at that very moment. They sat in the house for a few more hours; looking through her old things; the posters of Hanson on her wall and tiger beat magazine; it was a lot to take and John and Tom seemed bored; so they left a few hours later.
They figured they had seen all they needed to see within the day and now they had to go back to the mall and find a way back. They walked back towards the mall but couldn’t find it; it was gone. Tom said I swear it was right here on orange ave; and it was since 1965; but there was no mall. “Maybe we went in the wrong direction” said Lauren ” No way, it has always been here” said Tom in an angry and fearful voice. They decided to walk in the other direction; in case maybe they were wrong but saw nothing. What the hell are we going to do, man?? screamed John. Why the hell did you text me and Lauren?, Tom”. “Now we’re stuck here with no way of getting home”. John said “I don’t know what to say:; crying in anguish said Tom. “I am scared too, ok”. “But this isn’t anyone fault and we can’t get back if we keep arguing”. “Lets get our heads together and figure this shit out”. John threw his hands in the air and said “Screw this; you’re on your own. I’m going home without you two. See you in the future, kid”. All of a sudden John felt a hand on his shoulder and it was the security guard that had woken them up. He said “You kids are right; the mall was here but now it’s gone and it’s never coming back. And as for home; you are home; enjoy it, kiddos”. He lit a cigarette and walked into the distance; laughing manically