Thunderstorm

Cover of Thunderstorm



Prologue


The lightning crashed. The world was engulfed in a seemingly endless storm. Jennifer was sitting on the floor with Ben, her fiancé. "I've never seen anything like it," she said.


"Neither have I,” Ben said. “The government has been suspiciously quiet lately. Every time I look online to see something about the storm, every article has been deleted.”


“Why?”


"I don't know, but-" Ben stopped abruptly. “What is that?’’ He pointed at the sky through the window.


“It looks like a rock, but it’s oddly large- you don’t think it’s an asteroid do you?” Jennifer asked.


“No, of course it’s not an asteroid, NASA would’ve destroyed it by now.”


“Hang on, you mentioned that the government has been quiet lately. You don’t think this is why, do you?”


“They would’ve sent a message on the news or something, they can’t just not tell us!”


“They wouldn’t cause a panic throughout the U.S.”


“Well that worked out well for them.”


“No, there has to be some way to destroy it!”


“It looks like it’s closer now….”


“No! This can’t be happening! We haven’t gotten married yet! We were supposed to have kids-” Jennifer cried.


“It’s going to be okay, Jennifer.” Ben hugged her.

Then, at that moment, the asteroid hit Earth.


And not just the United States.



About a million years later….


 

“Subject 112 successful, testing 113….”


“113 successful, testing 114, final subject….”


“Subject 114 crashing, Emily! What do we do?”

“Activate operation 77 on her.”


“Operation 77? That operation has never been tested before-“


“Do as I say, Doctor.”


“Activating Operation 77.”


……


“She looks fine, we’ll do a final test on her after we release the others to make sure she’s alright.”


“Wasn’t 113 with 114 before the asteroid hit?”


“He was, why?”


“Don’t you think he’ll be concerned when she doesn’t wake up with him?”


“We’ll explain to him that we’ll do more tests on her.”


“What were the side effects of Operation 77?”


“Nothing you need to be concerned about. Now take her to room 114.”


“Yes, Emily.”










Chapter I


Jennifer woke up.


she thought.


It took her a while to realize what had happened. Then she remembered the asteroid.


Did I- die? No, if I did, I probably wouldn’t feel sick to my stomach. she thought.


Her head was also pounding. She looked around. The room she was in looked like a hospital. She quickly tried to get up, only to have the tubes suspending her body to the bed pull her back down. She noticed a console that had a button on it that could disconnect the tubes. She reached towards it, but could only touch the top of it, then get pulled back. She sighed, then reached harder towards the button and managed to press it, disconnecting the tubes.


However, she forgot that she was no longer on the hospital bed, and fell down to the floor.


After a few minutes, Jennifer got up. She felt lightheaded. She walked towards the window in her room. Outside, she could see what looked like cars zooming past her. Except they weren’t on the road. They were in the air.


Jennifer shook her head and walked towards the door, which was surprisingly unlocked. She walked outside. As she walked outside, she saw hundreds of people walking around. She saw a group of girls who looked like they were in their mid-teens who seemed to be saying strange acronyms to each other. They were also carrying phones that had screens on both sides.


"T-L-S-C!" one of the girls exclaimed. "D-U-R when you went out with John and he had that S-C-D?"


One of the other girls groaned. "I-H-T-G."


They all nodded in agreement.


Shaking her head in confusion, Jennifer looked around at the others around her. There was also a group of men in their 40’s complaining about “the prices to travel to Mars nowadays”.


Jennifer continued walking down the streets. She went into what looked like an airport. She sat down on a bench, trying to remember what happened. However, every time she tried to recall her past, she heard a ringing tone in her ears, and she got a headache. A man sat down next to her. He looked like he was around 30 years old.


“Where are you headed?” he asked.


“Nowhere, I’m just trying to figure out where I am.” Jennifer responded.


“Oh. I’m trying to book a flight to Mars, but the prices here are so unreasonable! I’d go to the Moon, but it’s so rocky there! I feel bad for the people who have to go there on business trips.”


The only response Jennifer could give was “Oh.”


“You know, people from Mars are so irritable,” the man continued. “They keep complaining about how it’s ‘so cold here’ and how ‘there’s almost no sand here’. Are you from Mars?”


“No.”


“Well, then you’re lucky. They have barely any technology there.”


Jennifer stood up. “I have to go now.” she said.


“See you!” the man said.


“Okay then.”


Jennifer walked out of the space station. As she was walking back to the streets, she heard someone call her name.


“Jennifer?”


She turned around. The man who had called her name looked around her age. She could hear the dull ringing sound.


“It’s me, Ben!” the man said.


She didn’t recognize him.





Chapter II


Emily stood in front of the window in her office, looking out. She wondered if subject 114 would be alright. Subject 113 looked really concerned about her. She never really referred to them by their actual names, since she had no idea what their names were. Subject 113 referred to himself as “Ben”, so she assumed that was his name. She also remembered the first thing he asked was ‘‘Where’s Jennifer?’’, so she assumed that was Subject 114’s name. The scouts she sent found both of them together. From Ben’s reaction, she assumed that Jennifer was either his sister or a significant other of some sort. But this was just an assumption.


“Emily?”


She turned around to see her older brother, Jake.


"What are you doing here?" she asked.


"Doctor Sara-"


"Doctor Fox."


"Right. She sent me to tell you about the- condition of Subject 114."


"And? Is she okay?"


"She- escaped."


"She what?!"


"She escaped."


"How? The doors are always locked!"


"Doctor Sara- I mean Fox, forgot to lock the door when she left Subject 114's room."


"How do you just FORGET to lock a door?!"


"She had a good reason-"


"Oh, I'm SURE she had a good reason, Jake! You're just defending her because she's your girlfriend-"


"Our relationship is strictly professional when we're at work-"


"Oh, right, so you won't try to stop me when I fire her?"


"She made a mistake!"


"Yes, Jake, she did make a mistake. A mistake that cost her her job!"


"Why do you you care so much about Subject 114?"


"Jennifer." Emily corrected him.


"Right, Jennifer."


"I care about all my patients."


"Is it because of Mom and Dad?"


"No! This your way of trying to make me forget about Jennifer and Sara!"


"You're the one with the high IQ, not me."


"I don't care what you say, Jake. I'm still firing Sara!"


"And what about Jennifer?"


"Try to track her down."


"How? She could be anywhere!"


"I put a tracking device on her after Operation 77. Go to the main computer and type in 114and it will show her location."


"And then what will we do?"


"We'll send someone to get her and bring her back."


"And what about Sara?"


Emily sighed. "I won't fire her today. But next time she does something like this-"


"I understand."


"Now go. Track Jennifer down."


"Yes, Emily."





Chapter III

“Who are you?” Jennifer asked, ignoring the ringing sound.


“Ben. You’re Jennifer, right?” Ben said, walking over to her.


“I’m sorry, I have no idea who you are.”


“Are you Jennifer?”


“Yes.”


He looked confused, and almost sad she didn’t recognize him.


“We were engaged for 2 years, and we knew each other for 5 years before that.”


“I don’t remember that.”


“They said when I woke up that they had to do more tests on you. So I decided to walk around until they told me that you were ready or until I saw you. Did they finish the tests?”


“I don’t know.”


“Then how did you get out here?”


“I- escaped.”


“What?” He looked both shocked and amused. “You escaped?”


“Not really, the door was unlocked.”


“I see you still have your personality.” Ben said with a smile.


“What happened?”


“Do you remember the asteroid?”


“Yes.”


“Do you remember what happened before the asteroid hit?”


Jennifer heard the ringing sound again. Ben could apparently see the pained expression on her face, and he looked concerned.


“Are you okay?” he asked.


“I’m fine.”


“You don’t look fine."


"Really, I'm fine."


Jennifer thought she heard Ben say something about how she "is still so stubborn" under his breath, but before she could say something, he said, "Come with me. I'll take you to my apartment. We can talk there."


"How can I trust you? I just met you!"


There it was again. The heartbreaking face Ben made. Sad and confused. She only just met him, but there was something familiar about him. And there was the insistent ringing tone in her ears.


"Look, you obviously aren't well." Ben said. "I don't want you to get lost in this confusing city. And if someone overhears us talking about the asteroid that happened almost a million years ago-"


"Fine, I'll go to your apartment. How did you get an apartment anyway?"


"The doctors gave it to me for free, along with this car."

He pulled out a key, pressed it, and then a car almost instantly appeared on the road. Jennifer jumped back.

Ben laughed. "It still takes some getting used to. Besides, if you think that'sunsettling, wait until you actually ride

in the car!"


Jennifer tried to smile, and she reluctantly got in the car.


Ben got in the car, and then started it. Jennifer was expecting the usual wait when you start a car. But instead, the car slowly rose up to the air, and started moving slowly across the "road".


"Are you okay?" Ben asked again.


"I'm fine. I just have a fear of heights."


"I know."


"So we've known each other for 7 years?"


"Before the asteroid, yes."


There was a long pause.


"I think we're moving slower than anyone else here." Jennifer said.


"They're just more accustomed to these cars."


"So that makes them able to go 700 miles an hour?!"


Ben laughed again. "It is pretty frightening when you think about how fast they're going. But we're just used to the cars in the 2000s."


"So how long have you been out here?"


"A few days, I think."


"Were we the only people brought here?"


"No. I heard a woman refer to me as 'Subject 113', so there are probably around 120 people along with us."


The car stopped, and lowered to the ground.


"We're here." Ben said.


They both got out of the car, and Jennifer felt like she just went on a ride at Disneyland.


"Are you okay?" Ben asked for what seemed like the hundredth time.


"YES, I'M FINE." Jennifer said exasperatedly.


Ben led her to the door. The door scanned him, then opened.


"Come sit down." he said, leading her towards a couch. Jennifer sat down.


"So you can't remember anything before the asteroid?"

"It's not like I can't remember ANYTHING. I remember what the 2000s were like. But I can't remember anything about you, or about my personal life."


The phone rang. Ben picked it up. Like the teenage girls' phones, it had 2 screens, one on each side. It reminded her of the iPhone X, but with 2 screens. On the back screen, it had someone's name on it: Jake. Jennifer had no idea who "Jake" was, or why he was calling Ben.


"Yes?" Ben asked Jake. Jennifer couldn't hear what Jake was saying.


"Oh. Why are calling me?" Ben said.


"What tests? I thought she was finished with them."


Ben looked at Jennifer, but then continued pacing.


"I'm aware of that now. Why does she need to take more tests?"


After a few seconds, Ben sighed.


"No, she is not with me right now." Jennifer assumed Ben was talking about her, and knew he was lying.


"Then your computer system must be wrong. I have no idea where she is." Ben hung up.


"Who was that?" Jennifer asked, pretending not to know who it was.


"Just one of the doctors."


"What did they want?"


Ben sighed again. "I think they found out you escaped."


"And?"


"They wanted to do more tests on you. I already got you out of it." There was a small hint of anger in Ben's voice.


"Why? Can't I just go do the tests?"


"No! They're going to kill you!"


"You don't know that, Ben."


"Of course I know that!"


"Why are you acting like this?"


Ben sighed. "I'm sorry. I'm just protective of you. I didn't know where you were when I woke up. When they told me they had to do more tests on you, I thought that was just their way of telling me you had died. When I saw you again, I never wanted you to leave. But then when I found out you couldn't remember me, I thought it because of those teststhey did on you. I don't want you to go back there."


"Don't you think they'll find me at some point?"


"Probably. But they haven't found you yet." 






Chapter IV


Jake started walking towards Emily's office.


'Emily's going to be very angry when she finds out about Jennifer.' he thought.


He had just hung up with Ben, Jennifer's fiancé. He found out they were engaged when he was asking Ben questions about his life before the asteroid. He had to talk about that with all of Emily's subjects. It became exhausting after a while. Having to talk 114 - well, technically only 113 - people about their personal life made him feel like a psychologist, only boring.


Emily asked Jake to track Jennifer down. He had no idea why Jennifer was so important to her. He assumed it was because of what happened to their parents, which Emily quickly denied. He felt bad for her, since she was only 10 when they died. Jake had to take care of Emily until she turned 18, and even now he was still trying to protect her.


Ben said he had no idea where Jennifer was, which was odd since Jennifer's tracking device said she was at Ben's apartment. He had the feeling Ben didn't trust them.


He approached the door. He sighed, then the door's camera scan him. The door opened.


"Sorry, Emily's not here right now, you will have to-" Doctor Sara turned around.


"Hi, Sara."


Sara ran over to him, and kissed him.


He and Sara were in a relationship, much to Emily's dislike. But Emily wasn't here right now.


"What are you doing here?" Sara asked.


"I'm here to tell Emily about Subject 114. Do you know where she is?"


"She's in a meeting right now."


"Oh. Do you know when she'll be back?"


"No. She looked pretty mad when I saw her. Do you know why?"


"It's probably nothing." Jake lied. "She's been mad at both of us since she found out we were in a relationship."


He kissed her, which ended up being horrible timing since Emily just walked through the door.


As soon as Sara and Jake heard the sound of Emily walking through the door, they immediately broke apart from each other. Emily didn't say anything, she just glared at Sara until she left the room.


"Having fun?" Emily asked Jake sarcastically when Sara closed the door.


"What you just saw-" Jake tried to explain.


"Was strictly professional, I know." Emily replied, still sarcastic.


Jake sighed. It was aggravating to be in an argument with his sister.


"I assume you're here about Jennifer? Or were you just visiting Sara when you knew I wouldn't be here?" Emily continued.


"Look, I didn't know Sara was even in here when I-"


"Oh, I'm sure you didn't."


Jake sighed again.


"Areyou here about Jennifer?" Emily asked, serious.


"Yes, I am."


"Have you found her?"


"No, not yet. The tracking device said she was at Subject 113-"


"Ben." Emily corrected him.


Jake decided not to mention that he already knew that. "Right, it said she was at Ben's apartment, so I called him, but he said she wasn't there."


"You still searched the apartment though, right?"


"No, he said Jennifer wasn't there."


"Really?! Did he? Well then, obviously he must not be lying!" Emily yelled sarcastically.


"Do you want me to send someone there?"


"No, I don't want you to just 'send someone there'! I've already seen what you do with Sarain your spare time! Go there yourself."


"With no one else?"


"Well, you'd have to take someone to put Jennifer to sleep when you take her. Maybe a medical specialist-"


"Great, thanks!" Jake said, noticing a loophole. He closed the door before Emily could say "Not Sara".





Chapter V


Ben walked closer to Jennifer. He didn't want Jennifer to distrust him. He didn't know what happened when he was talking with Jake, but he become too protective of Jennifer. He could see that she was almost scared of him now.


"I just met you." Jennifer said, pushing him away.

"I'm sorry, Jennifer."


He could see the frightened look on her face, with tears in her eyes. He never wanted to see Jennifer hurt. If she remembered they were engaged, he would've hugged her and told her it was going to be okay, like he did before the asteroid hit.


"What do we do now?" Jennifer asked him.


"You can stay here for the time being."


"Won't they find me here?"


"I already told you, they haven't found you yet-"


As soon as Ben said that, there was a knock on the door.


"That's them, isn't it?" Jennifer whispered.


"Yeah, I had a feeling that was going to happen, based on our luck so far."


There was pounding on the door.


"What do we do?" Jennifer asked.


"Run when I tell you to. Go over to the room on the right and stay there until I come in."


Jennifer nodded.


"OPEN UP!" a man's voice yelled.


A few seconds later, the door came down.


"Run, Jennifer!" Ben said.


Jennifer ran to the room on the right.


Two people emerged from the doorway, a man and a woman. Ben recognized the man. Jake. The one who asked him all those questions after he woke up. He didn't know who the woman was, though.


"Where's Jennifer?!" Jake said.


"I already told you, she isn't here." Ben lied again.


"If she wasn't here, you wouldn't be so defensive about her." the woman said.


"She isn't here." Ben repeated.


"Even if you're not lying, we still have to search the apartment."


"Fine. Go ahead. You won't find anyone in here." Ben raised his voice slightly so Jennifer could hear him.

Jake walked into another room.


"No one in here." he said to the woman.


Jake started to walk towards the room on the right. The one Jennifer was in.


Ben stepped quickly ahead of him.


"There's no one in here." Ben said.


"So I've heard. But I still need to check it." Jake responded.


Jake continued to walk into the room. He checked under the bed.


"There's no one- hang on, I see something." Jake said, looking under the bed.


Ben was on the same side of the bed Jennifer was on. He could see her desperately trying to get out of Jake's view.


Jake stood back up, and looked at Ben, confused. He walked over to the other side of the bed. Jennifer crawled under the bed, to the other side, in time. Jake looked around, even more confused, and then looked at the woman beside him. She had the same look he did. He walked into the hallway.


"So, there was no one in there, either." he said to the woman next to him.


They checked the rest of the rooms. Both Jake and the woman looked more confused than ever.


"See, I told you, Jennifer isn't in here. I wouldn't break the law." Ben said.


"It wouldn't exactly a violation of the law, we wouldn't be able to arrest you because this isn't under the authorization of the government. Not that weare breaking the law, the government just doesn't - support it."


Ben nodded.


"Sorry for bothering you, then." Jake still looked confused.


A few seconds later, Jake and the woman left the apartment.


"We'll replace your door, by the way!" Jake said as they left.


Ben went into the room Jennifer was in.


"They're gone now, Jennifer. You can come out."


Jennifer crawled out from under the bed.


"It was really hard to stay under there for that long." Jennifer said.


"Are you okay?" Ben asked.


"You say that too much. I'm fine."


"I'm just concerned about you."


"I know, but you can have a different word choice. It's exhausting having someone ask 'Are you okay?' 5 times."


"Noted." Ben said with a laugh.


Jennifer yawned.


"Are you tired?"


Jennifer nodded.


"You can sleep in here, if you want. I'll just sleep in the other room."


"Thank you."


"You don't have to thank me."




Chapter VI

Jake and Sara walked back to Emily's office.


"How was she not there? That's the only place she could be!" Sara said.


"Maybe she's just exploring the city." Jake said.


"What do you think Emily's going to say?"


Jake tried not to think about it.


"I don't know." he responded.


They approached the door.


"Are you ready?" Jake asked Sara.


Sara nodded.


They both took a deep breath, then the door scanned both of them, and opened.


Emily turned around.


"You're back! Did you find Jennifer?" she asked excitedly.


Jake and Sara looked at each other.


"She wasn't there." Jake said.


Emily instantly looked at Sara.


"No, she hasto be there! Where else would she be?!" Emily said.


"She might be exploring the city-" Sara explained.


"Shut up, Sara." Emily said angrily.


"It wasn't herfault, Emily." Jake said.


"You checked the entire apartment?"


"Yes."


"Hang on, I think she might be exploring the city!"


Sara almost rolled her eyes.


"That's a new idea." she muttered under her breath.


"What?" Emily asked.


"Nothing."


"If she is exploring the city," Emily continued, "then we can't let her find a way off the planet."


"How would she escape? She doesn't have any money." Sara said.


"She could steal it." 


"Right, because the first thing she would want to do when she wakes up would be to steal money. Besides, you can't just 'steal' money anymore, Emily. It's all digital now." Jake explained.


"Fine, but we still have to find her."


"What should we do, then?" Jake asked.


"Impose a planet-wide quarantine."


"A quarantine on the entire planet? That seems like a lot just to find oneperson." Sara said.


"Don't question me, Doctor."


 

"Yes, Emily."


"Jake, you can leave now. I need to talk to Sara."


Jake looked at Emily, and then walked out of the room.


"Before you ask, I'm notthe reason why we couldn't find Jennifer. She

wasn't in the apartment." Sara said when Jake left.


"Why do you continue to question me, Doctor?" Emily asked.


"What do you mean?"


"First, with Operation 77, then just a few minutes ago."


"I'm 4 years older than you, Emily. I don't have to agree with everything you say."


"I'm your boss, Sara. It doesn't matter how old you are. Jake is 5years older than me and he still listens to me."


"That's what youthink! But he only pretends to agree with everything you say because you're his sister!"


"Don't pretend that you know him better than I do! I've known him my entire life! You've only known him for a few months!"


"We may have only known each other for a few months, but I know that he loves me more than he could ever love you."


"Get out.You're lucky I'm not firing you right now!"


"Fine."


Sara left the room.


Jake was waiting for her in the hallway.


"You look like you just got out of a heated argument." Jake said as they walked to the computer room.


"I did."


"I can't believe she's asking us to put the entire planetunder quarantine. I don't know why Emily's doing something as crazy as this. It would be nearly impossible to find Jennifer, even with the quarantine."


"We could send the same scouts that found the people who died in the asteroid. That would make it easier."


The door scanned Jake and Sara as they entered the computer room.


"Do you want to announce it?" Jake asked.


"Fine." 


Sara took the microphone.


"Citizens of Earth," she began, "this is Sara Fox. This planet is now under quarantine. No ships will leave the planet's surface without authorization, and any who may try will be severely punished. No ships will be allowed to dock on any spaceport on Earth without authorization. All business trips will be cancelled. The quarantine will be indefinite."


She looked at Jake, who was at a nearby computer. 


"Display a holo image of Jennifer." she told him.


Jake nodded.


"Anyone who sees this woman," Sara continued, "bring her to the Thunderstorm headquarters, alive, and you will be rewarded a large sum of money."


She disconnected the microphone. 


"Good job." Jake said.


"I hope Emily is going to be okay with paying whoever finds Jennifer." Sara said.


"I wouldn't worry about it. She's been so obsessed with finding Jennifer lately that she'll do anything to get her. Besides, she's going to have to pay for that door, anyway."




Chapter VII

"I'm sorry."

"It's not your fault."

"How are we supposed to do this?"

"We'll find a way, Jennifer."



Jennifer woke up. She had a strange dream. She assumed it must be a memory resurfacing. 


She got out of bed. Her head was pounding, and she could hear the ringing tone again.


She walked into the hallway. Ben was already up.


"You're up." Ben said, turning around.


"What are you watching?"


"Just 15 year-olds playing video games. I wish they had actual sportson TV."


Jennifer nodded, then sat down on the couch.


"I assume you didn't sleep well?" Ben asked.


"How did you know?"


"First of all, I've known you for 7 years, and also, it's 3:00 am."


"It's 3:00 am?"


"Yep. I'm already used to you getting up early, especially since-" Ben paused.


"What? Since the asteroid?"


"No.... it's nothing." Ben seemed to be deep in thought.


Jennifer looked at him, then looked back at the TV. 


There was a long pause.


"What happened?" Jennifer asked again.


Ben sighed. "I had a feeling you were going to want to talk about that. It's just that you said you didn't want to talk about it anymore after it happened."


"After whathappened?"


"It doesn't matter anymore. Neither of us will get much benefit out of it."


"Tell me!"


"You're very stubborn, you know that? You were always very stubborn, that's why it's so hard to be in a conversation with you."


"Why won't you tell me?"


"We haven't talked about it for 2 years, I'm not used to talking about it."


"It happened 2 years ago? When we got engaged?"


"I knew you were going to do this."


"Do what?"


"Ask me multiple questions until you already have all the information. You used to do it all the time."


"I did?"


"On our 3rd date, you already knew almost everything about my family."


"What was I like before the asteroid?"


"Same as you are now. Stubborn, skilled conversationalist-"


Jennifer laughed.


"Smart," Ben continued, "and beautiful."


He leaned in closer to her, and she already knew he was going to kiss her.


The kiss only lasted for a few seconds before Jennifer stopped it.


"No. I'm sorry. I believe that we were engaged at some point, but I still don't remember you that well."


"I'm sorry. I-" Ben paused.


"What?"


"You have something on your neck." 


He leaned in closer to her and touched the back of her neck.


"It's a tracking device." Ben said. "No wonder they knew you were here." Jennifer could hear the same anger in his voice that she heard when he got the call from Jake.


"A tracking device?"


"Apparently. I don't know how to take it off."


"Take it off?!"


"Well, yeah, I can't just leave it on you!"


"Is it even possible to take it off?"


"I don't know."


"That's reassuring."


He tried to pull the device off.


"Ow!"


"Sorry."


He pressed a button on the device, and it came off. 


Jennifer started to feel tired, like she was going to pass out. She tried to stay conscious, but then she fell down to the floor. She heard Ben saying her name, but before she could do anything, she passed out.



"I guess you want this back, then." "Jennifer, I still want to marry you. It doesn't matter what happened."

"I thought that you-"

"I want to marry you because I love you."




"I don't want to talk about this anymore."

"I understand."

"I mean, I don'tever

want to talk about it."

"That's okay, Jennifer. We won't ever talk about it again." 

"Thank you."



"Jennifer!"


Jennifer opened her eyes and saw Ben by her side. He let out a sigh of relief when he saw her awake.


"You scared me for a second there, I thought you...." Ben trailed off.


"I'm sorry. I don't know what happened." Jennifer explained, "How long was I passed out?"


"A few minutes."


"I'm sorry. I had a strange dream."


"What do you mean?"


"I think it was a memory from before the asteroid. I saw us talking about being engaged and how you were still going to marry me even after.... something that happened."


"Oh...." Ben seemed deep in thought again.


Jennifer changed the subject.


"If the tracking device is still here, won't they know I'mhere?"


"I already told them you weren't here."


"I know, but they might figure it out at some point. We should take the tracking device somewhere else, just to be safe."


"You're right.''


They walked out the door, and got in the car. 


"Where should we hide it?" Jennifer asked.


"Probably in the main part of the city. They'll think you're exploring the city."


Jennifer nodded, then they got out of the car.


Jennifer saw thousands of people walking around, like she saw when she woke up.


As they got to the main part of the city, they heard a woman's voice. They both turned around and saw a hologram.


"Citizens of Earth," the woman said, "this is Sara Fox. This planet is now under quarantine. No ships will leave the planet's surface without authorization, and any who may try will be severely punished. No ships will be allowed to dock on any spaceport on Earth without authorization. All business trips will be cancelled. The quarantine will be indefinite."


There was a pause, then a holo image of Jennifer appeared.


"Anyone who sees this woman," Sara continued, "bring her to the Thunderstorm headquarters, alive, and you will be rewarded a large sum of money."


"They must really want to find me." Jennifer said.


"I'm sure it will be okay, Jennifer." 


For some reason, that sentence seemed familiar to Jennifer.


"I know. I'm not concerned."


Ben tossed the tracking device on the sidewalk. 


"We should get back to the apartment. If anyone sees you, they'll report you."


Jennifer nodded, and they got back in the car. 


They were both silent the entire ride there. She could tell Ben had been deep in thought since this morning. 


"Are you okay?" she asked.


"It's annoying if Iask that, but it's fine if

youdo?" Ben asked, avoiding the question.


"You didn't answer my question."


"I'm- fine. Just thinking about the past."


They were silent again for the remainder of the car ride.


They got out of the car. The door scanned Ben, then opened.


They both sat down on the couch. They watched some boring show until Jennifer fell asleep on the couch.




Chapter VIII


Sara walked to Jake's office. She was already stressed out about what he would say, how he would react. She was already thinking of ways to tell him.


She let the door scan her, and walked into his office.


"Jake."


He turned around. He didn't even greet her.


"Was there something you wanted to tell me?" He seemed angry.


Does he already know? Sara thought. No, that would be impossible.


"What do you mean?" Sara asked nervously.


"Emily told me."


"Emily?" How would Emily know?Sara thought.


"Your conversation with Emily. You told her I loved youmore than I loved her."


"Oh." Sara had regretted what she said to Emily immediately after she said it.


"Yes. By the way, you knowhow much I love Emily. I can't believe you would lie to her like that."


"I'm sorry, Jake. I regret what I said."


"I don't believe that. I haven't even told you that I love you yet, I don't know why you would say that."


"I'm sorry."


"Maybe Emily was right. Maybe we shouldn't be in this relationship."


"No! I regret I said, Jake. I was just angry at the time!"


"But she's still my sister! Even though I don't agree with everything she says, I still love her. After you announced the quarantine, I went to her office. She was crying. You know how protective I am of her, Sara."


"Jake, I'm truly sorry about that. I don't know what happened."


"I want to believe you, Sara."


There was a long silence.


"Jake, I'm-"


"I think you should leave now."


Sara nodded, and left the room.