Posted by: Kathryn Hulick | February 4, 2009

Through the Ghost-Curtain

West Hollywood, CA. March 16, 2008.

intersection-warped-through-the-glassPhoto by Samuel Shaw (see more here)

“The world as it was.”

Ghosting Administrator number 12 presses her first two fingers to the glass and slides them along the smooth screen. The cars in the intersection speed up like buzzing insects. She slides her fingers to the right and the motion slows, car after car crawling along, spewing noxious fumes into the beautiful green trees lining the road.

Deci smiles. “The world as it still is, sometime ago.”

Number 12, or Doz for short, nods.

Random passers-by might think the image on the wall screen to be a peculiar historical movie, or a simulation of times past. Only a select few know the true meaning of a ghost-curtain.

It is a window through time.

“There she is,” Doz zooms in on a small figure preparing to cross the intersection.

This is not the first time Doz has watched this particular time: October 9th, 2013, 3:07 pm. She’s shared it with each of the Ghosters, one by one. Deci is number 10, of course.

Rather than watching the figure, Doz watches Deci’s face.

The figure, a girl, wearing the oddest outfit of thick brown pants and a plain red jacket, waits for the light to change, then steps out into the street. She’s looking at something small and cell-phone shaped. Not unusual for the time period.

Halfway across the intersection, she disappears.

Deci’s sharp intake of breath tells Doz all she needs to know.

“You know the rules about sharing shifters.” Doz keeps her voice even. “If the technology gets discovered in 2013–”

“It won’t. You know that.” Deci’s eyes lock on the screen, the place where one young girl should be standing. “Input yesterday, same time.”

Doz nods, and taps the bottom of the wall to bring up the menu. The two Ghosters watch as the view through time fractures, breaking into cubic nonsense as the screen aligns.

Buildings shift in weight and color. The road rises and darkens; trees disappear; cars slim into thin, wedge-shaped electrovehicles.

The girl is there, standing on the other side of the street, still as a statue and translucent, staring at the blinking shifter in her hand.

“She doesn’t know when she is,” Doz says with wonder, breaking into confused anger. “Why show me this? I’ll have to report you to the counselors, and it will be brought before Martial 1 and I’ll have to testify that–”

“Administrator Number 12.” Deci stopped her boss’ tirade with the formal title. “The situation called for desperate measures. This is not your ordinary early-century passive-consumer. In our time, she’d be Ecological Concerns Number two, maybe even number one. And look at her time stamp. 2013. Ring a bell?”

“Number 10, this is not the time for a history lesson.” Doz sighs, but deep down, understands Deci’s reasons. This strange girl lives in a time when everything is poised to be lost. When the world knew such wonders as morning glories and blue whales and a sky clear enough to see stars with the naked eye. When Ecology wasn’t a branch of government because it governed itself. What if all that history could change?

“I know what you’re thinking,” Deci taps the screen off and turns tilts her chin up to look Doz in the eyes. “Will changing history make us obsolete? Will our whole reality disappear?”

“Of course not, but–”

“It’s a chance we have to take.”

Someone knocks at the door. Deci rises and answers, ushering in a young girl in a red jacket, her face pale and haggard, like she’d traveled hundreds of miles rather than hundreds of years.

“We need your help,” Deci urges, nodding to Doz to finish.

“That’s right,” Doz unclenches her fists and takes a deep breath. “This is your chance to save the world. The world as it was.”


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