Briefcase Genie

Photo courtesy of Arthur Rousseau with Hope for Haiti.

Welcome to this first Monday of April.

This week we have a real treat. We have a guest author with an awesome imagination for this adventure blog!

Please welcome Leslie Rohman. She’s a wife and mother of four beautiful children, I don’t know how she finds the time to write!

But somehow she does=) So read ahead and enjoy.

Briefcase Genie

You’ve always wanted to do something adventurous and crazy, but there’s always been something to hold you back. When you first started dreaming in high school, you obviously couldn’t just leave. Then, some of your more affluent friends did the whole traveling before college thing. But you were quite short on funds. So you figured you would do college first and get a good paying job, then you could do whatever you wanted!

What you didn’t count on was being up to your eyeballs in debt after college. And here you are now, stuck at this dead end job and your dreams seem so far from achievable that you have basically given up on them. Maybe after you retire….. or win the lottery.

Today seems no different from the rest until a black briefcase appears with a small flash of light right in the middle of your paper strewn desk! On the top it reads “everything you need for an adventure” in glowing yellow letters.

Dumbfounded, with your mouth hanging open, you peek from side to side to see if anyone else has noticed this sudden appearance. Matilda, on your right, is engrossed in a phone call. On your left, Harry is filling out an online request for more staples. And behind you, Frank is trying to hide the fact that he’s playing Minecraft here at work. So, nope, no one else noticed.

You pick up the briefcase and nearly throw it over your head because you were expecting it to be heavy, but it feels empty. You flip it over and see nothing else interesting on it and when you set it back right side up, the letters have disappeared. What the what? This is so weird!

You search for a latch to open it, all the while throwing furtive glances at your co-workers. There’s nothing there except for a little pad thing to put your thumb on. Is that called biometrics something-or-other?

Heart thumping, you place your thumb on the pad and *click* the top is open! How could your thumbprint open a case that you’ve never even seen before? And where did the crazy thing come from in the first place? You stand up and take a wider scan of the office to see if anyone is watching you and laughing, maybe this is just a big joke. But, nope, everyone is totally absorbed with their everyday tasks.

You sit back down, open the top and your heart plummets. It’s empty. You run your hands along the edges looking for a hidden pocket or compartment. Nothing.

This must be just some cruel joke! Perhaps someone is watching you via a hidden camera or some other such nonsense. But it is a mighty cruel one, to raise your hopes and crush them the next instant, bah! You throw the now offensive object under your desk and try to bury your disappointment in work.

***

At the end of the day, the briefcase is still sitting there. You decide to take it home and throw it in the dumpster outside your apartment building.

Everything feels slower and harder than normal. You trip on your own untied shoelace on the way out the door, it’s raining buckets, you forgot your umbrella and it takes absolutely forever to hail a taxi. Maybe it would be better to just stop hoping for things since disappointment hurts so bad?

As you sit there shivering and feeling blue, you notice a yellow glow coming from around the cracks of the briefcase. OK…….

Your curiosity gets the better of you and you place your thumb on the scanner. *click*

It’s not empty now! As it opens, you’re reminded of one of those jewelry boxes where the ballerina stands up and spins around to music. Except this is no ballerina.  It’s a hologram of your face! Your image starts talking and you shoot a nervous glance at the cabbie but he apparently can’t hear any of this.

“One: If you call me a genie, this briefcase will disappear forever and you’ll never know what might have been.”

This is really freaking you out having your own image speaking to you in your own voice. And you have no idea why you might call it a genie, but it seems to be waiting for a response, so you nod your head.

“Two: You must agree to pass this gift along when your adventure is done.”

This sounds easy enough so you nod again.

“Three: You get three destination choices. First choice: high or low?”

Ah ha, now you see why the genie comment. “High or low, what’s that mean?” You ask with furrowed brows.

“Not a valid entry, please choose high or low.”

Well, this is certainly an interesting twist. You don’t like it when your emotions are jerked around so much. First the crazy hope then the bitter disappointment and now this cryptic offer. Hmmmmm…..

Ah, what the heck! Going home to your lonely apartment sounds terrible. Let’s try this crazy ride!

So what’s it gonna be:

A. High?

or

B. Low?

Briefcase Genie Option A: High

You tell your holographic head in the briefcase, “Let’s try high.”

“High it is then. Please exit the cab and hold on tight, we don’t want any accidents this time.”

“Huh? This time?” You ask in a slightly squeaky voice. But the hologram has already disappeared and the top almost closes on your fingers.

Not so sure about following these instructions, you must get out for the cabbie is waiting. You pay him and cautiously step out.

As soon as your feet touch the sidewalk, the case starts to rise taking you with it! You grab the handle with both hands as the speed increases. The wind drowns out the noise of you yelling yourself hoarse.  Already high above even the tallest buildings of the city, the clouds are fast approaching.

You hear a crackling sound coming from the briefcase and suddenly, you’re in a spacesuit. And none too soon either ‘cause it was getting seriously hard to breath! The huge gloves of the spacesuit make it very hard to hold on to the handle of the case and you’re slipping as you hear more crackling. The case disappears and you land inside a huge clear bubble.

You kneel at the bottom and try to get your breathing back under control. Still rising at an incredibly fast speed, you leave the Earth’s atmosphere, and it looks like you’re enclosed in a fiery bubble. The spacesuit makes you feel just a little claustrophobic.

“You have approximately 4 hours of oxygen,” the holographic head is floating near the top of the bubble. “Please sit back and enjoy the ride.”

Photo courtesy of Sebring's Snapshots. Check out her blog or Facebook page!

Photo courtesy of Sebring’s Snapshots. Check out her blog or Facebook page!

Relatively calm now you stare google-eyed as you fly past the moon. The earth looks exactly like in all the movies. It’s hard to believe that so many people fit in what looks like such a tiny ball now.

“If you will look to the right, we’re approaching Mars now. And oh look, we can even see one of the rovers sent from earth down there collecting information.”

You can see why Mars has been dubbed the “red planet”. It looks a lot like the red rocks that make up the Garden of the Gods in Colorado Springs that you visited once as a child. Mars appears to be smaller than Earth and the surface is full of craters and mountains, amazing!

“Brace for slight impact.” the hologram states in its flat voice.

“What?!” You swivel around and crane your neck up and down to see what it’s talking about. Right behind you, you see a rock about the size of a mini cooper barreling towards you.

A stream of barely intelligible words flies out of your mouth, “Turn, twist, duck and cover, move it, move it, get out of the way!”

And with each command you try to give, the silly case replies, “Not a valid entry.”

“AHHHHH!” You shout in frustration and no small amount of fear. You ram your right shoulder repeatedly into the side of the bubble to see if you can alter course just enough to get out of the rock’s way.

You’re making progress, but it’s not looking like enough. “Brace for impact” you mimic and then shout, “There is nothing in here to use for bracing!”

“And coming up on the left you can see Jupiter. Jupiter is the largest planet in our solar system, has at least 67 moons and is…..” The hologram keeps right on going as if nothing extraordinary were about to happen. Some part of your brain does note the enormous size of the planet.

CRASH!

You bang against the sides like a pinball and your guide says, “Due to unfortunate circumstances, we’re going to have to return home before the end of our journey, I apologize for the inconvenience. “

Inconvenience? This briefcase is crazy! There is a gaping hole in the side of your bubble!

“It also appears that your suit was damaged in the collision, and you used up a large amount oxygen when panicking earlier, as such you may run out of air before we land. Please breath slowly.”

“What!?” Your breathing is anything but slow now.

You’re zooming past Mars again, much faster than before.  It’s incredibly noisy; kind of like a car ride with the windows all rolled down at 60mph. Except you can’t feel the wind in your face as you’re enclosed in the spacesuit.  It’s definitely getting harder to breath and very, very chilly.

You shoot past the moon so fast that you might not have seen it if you’d blinked. The force of your speed has you pressed against the back of the bubble. The earth is coming up mighty fast.

“We shall attempt a water landing. Usually the briefcase will reappear and pull you safely to shore, but seeing as how you might not be awake-“

Your vision is fuzzy and you hear no more till- SPLASH! – The water brings you back to alertness.

“Good, good, hold on tight,” The briefcase bobs along in the water.

You are now spacesuitless and you manage to grab on and not let go till you are pulled onto a white sandy beach. It’s dark and moonless.

Photo courtesy of Sebring's Snapshots.

Photo courtesy of Sebring’s Snapshots.

You lay there taking deep slow breaths agreeing with the Hobbit who said that adventures are “nasty, uncomfortable things” or something like that.

The case next to your head is buzzing and glowing yellow around the cracks again. You reluctantly place your thumb on the pad and see the holographic face as it opens.

“Where are we?”

It surprises you greatly when it actually answers, “Thailand.”

Huh, that’s pretty far from Denver…

Seeing how the case has a very large lack of concern for safety, you are reconsidering your original idea about throwing it in a dumpster. Getting home shouldn’t be too hard….

So do you,

Aa. Want to hear your next adventure options?

or

Ab. Chuck the case and thumb your way home?

Briefcase Genie Option Aa: Hear the Next Two Options

Photo courtesy of Sebring's Snapshots.

Photo courtesy of Sebring’s Snapshots.

You lie on the sand and just watch the moon rise and creep across the sky for a while. As you do so you contemplate your options.

You’ve only a few dollars in your pocket, no credit cards (you did the freezing them in a block of ice thing a while ago…), and your bank account is almost empty, so getting home on your own sounds nigh on impossible. You hesitantly ask the briefcase, “Do you have two more options for me?”

“But of course.” It answers and then just sits there staring blankly at you.

“Well… Can I hear them?”

“Certainly. Hot or Cold?”

This is an easy decision. Living in Denver, Colorado with its beautiful mountains all around has given you plenty of cold days. Somewhere warm is the place for you!

“Hot, please,” you request.

“Excellent choice. Just close and re-open the case and you’ll find everything you need. Watch out for sand fleas.”

“Eeeeeww.” You say as you close it up. When you re-open it, there is no hologram, but there is a plane ticket, your very own passport with a stamp already in it from when you “entered” Thailand, a small pile of money and a can of mosquito repellant.

You wonder just for a moment if you’ll still have a job when you return home, but the sunrise sparkling up over the horizon drives the worrisome thought from your mind. What a spectacular sight!

After enjoying the sunrise, you get yourself to the airport. Turns out, getting a taxi is the same no matter where you go. But the drivers are a little more aggressive here.

At the airport, the tiny, little lady behind the ticket counter gives you a funny look which concerns you. Maybe the briefcase is messing with you. Maybe it’s not a real ticket. But everything checks out ok and she points you towards security where lines of people are already taking their shoes off. After you make it through the line, you stop at the restroom and one look in the mirror causes you to realize she was looking at you funny because of your hair! You have the worst helmet hair ever!

You’re still not even sure where you’re heading till you get to the gate and read Belize as the destination. Where is that? And how long will it take to get there?

Turns out it’s in Central America and it takes you a full 24 hours to get there. But the case somehow got you in first class so you sleep and eat in style and are very well rested when you arrive.

The next week that you spend in this little part of paradise is beyond awesome. You explore ancient Mayan ruins, and jungles full of the noisiest and most colorful birds. You relax on the beach, swim and get a little sunburned.

Your favorite part by far, though, has been scuba diving in Lighthouse Reef and the Great Blue Hole. The hole was a cave some thousands of years ago. But at some point the roof collapsed leaving an almost perfect circle about 1000 feet across. The scuba diving took you almost two full days to master, but it was so worth it! There’s still even stalactites at the bottom!

Your briefcase head hasn’t reappeared at all while you’ve been here. But that’s been perfectly fine with you.

You figure today’s probably the last day here ‘cause the money has almost run out. So after the traditional dinner of rice, beans and fried chicken, you head down the beach with the case for a stroll. You plan to lie on the beach, watch the stars again and see if the hologram will show up with your next options.

You pick a spot as far away from the lights of the resort as possible, spread your towel and stretch out. Ah! It’s still warm from the day. You dig your toes in and savor the softness of the sand. You open the case, but no luck yet.

The moon creeps slowly across the heavens, your eyes are getting droopy and you sigh with contentment.

And then you’re sure you’re dreaming ‘cause it looks like the stars are coalescing and shaping themselves to look like humans dancing. They dance closer and closer. Not any bigger than normal, still tiny twinkly stars, but close enough to touch.

You reach out and behind you you hear your voice say, “ I wouldn’t do that if I were you.”

You jump up and the stars scatter like frightened butterflies. You stand there very still and they dance their way closer again. As they twirl around, you ask, “Why not touch them?”

“The only other time I’ve witnessed the Invitation of the Stars, the young girl who did touch became one of them. “

Just to make sure you aren’t dreaming, you pinch yourself. OUCH!

“This is real then?”

“Oh yes, and I’ve no idea if they’ll go away or not so we’d better give you the next options and get out of here.”

You just sigh in response. A star girl twirls by so close, you can feel the breeze of her passing.

“Yes, yes, we’d better hurry. Would you like forwards or backwards?”

So…

Aa1: Backwards

or

Aa2: Forwards

Briefcase Genie Option Aa2. Forwards

Picking an option while the stars dance around you is one of the hardest things you’ve ever done. But you manage to whisper, “Forwards.” The stars disappear, and you find yourself surrounded by what appear to be aspen trees that are the size of redwoods. And they’re growing in what looks like the ruins of a large city.

The sun filters down gently through the light green leaves and the wind makes them flutter and whisper.

There’s not a soul in sight and you realize with a start that neither is the briefcase! You frantically search around but it’s nowhere to be found. You sit and try to wait for a while to see if it’ll appear, but patience has never been your strong suit. So you jump up and start picking your way through the ruins.

Photo courtesy of Arthur Rousseau with Hope for Haiti.

Photo courtesy of Arthur Rousseau with Hope for Haiti.

You walk out of what used to be the front door onto a street. This too has been overtaken by the trees. Large chunks of building lay strewn about everywhere. And the trees stretch as far as you can see in any direction.  You consider trying to climb one to get your bearings, but quickly discard the idea. They are all way too big around for climbing.

You notice smoke in the distance. Heading that way only makes sense, smoke usually means people!

After about an hour, you start to smell the smoke and it’s not too long after that that you hear voices.

As you step into the clearing where you’re pretty sure the smoke is coming from, you’re met by the business end of three compound bows held by three very scared looking twenty-something year olds.

“Whoa! Whoa! Whoa!” You shout and put your hands up in a very non-threatening gesture.

They lower their weapons and start laughing as the youngest looking boy says, “Dude, it looks like we’ve got another case of the crazy here!”

You look down and realize you’re dressed in a pretty wild mixture of your once nice work clothes and souvenir type clothes from Belize. You chuckle along with them.

You take a glance around, now that there are not weapons in your face and see about 25 men, women and kids. The clearing must be man made for you can see the stumps of a few of the massive trees. There’s two very large log houses that look as if they were made from the aspen wood.

Most of the people congregate in a huddle on the other side of the fire, but four others; two men and two women invite you to sit with them and offer you a cup of water. You gulp it down gratefully and your eyes grow to the size of saucers as one who calls herself Misty starts to guess correctly where you’ve come from!

“You had a magical briefcase appear and offer you three options? And from the looks of it you chose hot before picking forwards and landing here?”

You nod and realize your mouth is hanging wide open.

“Can’t tell if you chose up or down for the first option though,” she muses.

“U…up,” you stammer.

One of the boys next to you slaps the other in the arm and says, “Pay up, Phil! I knew the next one would be an upper!” Phil passes something off to the boy with a groan.

Misty finishes her summary of your trip, “and when you got here, the case was gone?”

“You’re really freaking me out, how do you know all this?”

She smiles sadly at you. “I was the first one left here by the case, then came Phil, then Jesse, then Bev.” As she says each name she points to the people sitting next to you.

“The rest of them,” she nods her head at the people on the other side of the fire, “They’re from this time.”

“How long have you been stuck here?” you ask.

“I got here exactly one year ago and the rest have come every three months like clockwork.”

Phil and Jesse take over explaining at this point. They tell all about their various journeys with the briefcase and then proceed to tell the tale of what happened to this once great city.

Turns out, you are sitting in the remains of your very own Denver, Colorado. The year is only 5 years later than when you left.

About 3 years ago, a group of scientists were experimenting with a serum that would make trees grow bigger so they would produce more wood. It worked great on pines and spruces. But when they tried it on the aspens, the serum traveled through the root system and got out of their control.

The people here traveled as far as they could and never did make it out of the trees. From the other travelers they met they learned that most people left the country. All that remains are a few pockets of groups like this one.

“So are all you briefcase people from Denver too?” You ask and all their heads nod. “Why is it sending us here? What does it want? Any ideas on how to get back?” Your questions always pop out faster than you intend when you’re nervous.

Bev talks for the first time in a very soft voice, “We don’t know why here and now. And all of them,” She indicates the natives to this time, “most of them still don’t believe us, so we try to not talk about it too much and just be helpful around the camp to earn our keep.”

Phil grunts, “Bev here is sure the case has a plan and is comin’ back for us eventually.”

This is indeed a bit more adventure than you had bargained for, but hey, now you don’t have to worry about that dead-end job that you hated anymore… You take a deep breath and muster up all the bravery you have left to ask, “What projects you got happening now that I can help with?”

Leslie and her husband, Nick.

Leslie and her husband, Nick.

The End

Again thank you to Leslie Rohman who took on the challenge this week and wrote Briefcase Genie.

Blessings and have a wonderful weekend,

Jennifer

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