“C'mon, it's time to get up for school.”
Blurry eyes struggled to hoist themselves open, shrinking away at the invasive pale light. Demi attempted to sit up and orient herself, only to find her torso was jutting halfway off the bed, and she was being pulled down by gravity as well as the blankets and pillows and stuffed animals she likely took with her as she tossed and turned. Rather than wait to fall all the way to the floor, Demi pushed against it, pulling herself back up to her bed proper.
“I'm driving you, and I'll be leaving in thirty minutes. Don't be late.” The woman who woke up Demi – a young adult sporting a beige business suit, wavy hair, and a name-tag with the label of a prominent legal firm – departed.
Finally free from the shackles of the sleep, her body reminded Demi of the anxieties that plagued her mind. Demi recalled all at once the one thing she was attempting to push from her psyche all night, but still invaded her worries, her dreams, her ambitions. Demi pulled the blankets off of her, noticing she hadn't taken off most of her clothes. Only her jacket and boots were removed, no doubt so she could enter the bed as soon as possible. This, of course, had the opposite effect, hence her fatigue.
She still remembered exactly what it was like, looking down at them. Her fellow humans, but so small... so insignificant.
Demi rubbed her eyes and perched off the edge of the bed. She took a step into the carpet, scrunching her toes in the fibers of the Persian rug upon which her queen-sized bedframe was situated. Demi stayed there, standing in place, doing this for perhaps a minute or so too long before she recalled that she'd have half the usual time it took to apply her affects.
Demi chuckled, and walked to the bathroom.
As Demi got into the passenger side of the Bentley, her driver whistled, grinning. “My my, you got here quick. What is that, you used just a comb?! No copious amounts of hair stylants? You really phoned it in this time, huh.”
“Please... not in the mood, Juliet.”
The garage door opened, and the car began to pull out backwards, expertly maneuvered by Juliet's navigation. The massive facade of the stately home stared down at Demi through the window, who only stared at the floor of the vehicle as her temple stuck to the cold window. Juliet raised her eyebrows and asked, “Why not, Dem?” Then she gasped. “Did that girl make you upset?! I bet she took all the credit for your assignment, didn't she?”
“Agatha was fine,” lamented Demi as the car merged onto the main road. “I dunno... bad dreams, maybe.”
They drove in silence.
Demi turned to her sister. “Say... just hypothetically... if you had the chance to be... 'worshiped'. As... like, a queen? Or some sort of deity. Would you... would that be... would you take it?”
Juliet's face twisted in confusion. “That's an odd question. Was this what your dream was about?”
Juliet was silent, then decided, “No, not really. That seems a bit creepy to me.”
“Not even a little? Not at all?”
Juliet thought again, and responded, “Nope, not at all. Sounds like the sort of thing a weirdo might be interested in.”
A term Demi wasn't unused to hearing levied at her, but seldom by her only living family member.
The car stopped in front of the school building. Hefting her rolling book bag out of the car, Demi waved half-heartedly to her enthusiastic sister. “Have a good one!” called out Juliet. Demi managed a smile in response, and turned into the building.
School passed without incident. It was by all accounts completely normal, which is to say, it sucked. As Demi walked the halls, she could tell that even without the time to apply the lion's share of her eccentric stylings, students shied away from her. Teachers sneered at her, even if they didn't show it. The librarians made jokes about her, probably, she assumed. Maybe. Regardless, Demi found herself, just like every other day, sitting alone at lunch. And not by choice, as she was the first one to enter, and everyone made the conscious effort to avoid her. As she munched on a stick of celery, Demi decided to multitask, reaching between her legs and into the backpack to grab the old textbook.
Upon retrieving it, the first thing Demi did was check it. Holding the weighty book, Demi turned it all throughout her hands, feeling its familiar size and volume. It still smelled the same at least. Opening the front cover, Demi spotted her name in the registry, just poking off the list of the other twelve printed slots. This book in particular had been in the school system for more than a decade. There was no way it could've been a fake, or changed, or what have you.
With that out of the way, Demi thumbed through the chapters. Inadvertently overshooting to a passage about the French and Indian War, she carefully turned back a few leafs, finally landing on the pre-history section.
There it was. That was them. There was no doubt about it.
Well, there could've been a bit of doubt. Maybe Demi just missed this chapter at first. Maybe there was some mistake. Seeking more information, Demi decided to read:
Perhaps most mystifying of all pre-Columbian artifacts is this rendition of parietal art dubbed by researchers as “the Worship of the Twin Goddesses”, dated 30XX BC at [___] Cave. It lacks most hallmarks of known cave art of this time, boasting impressive complexity in representation of its subjects, detailing what appear to be two disproportionately large human females standing amidst a crowd of supplicating men.
Demi's heartbeat palpitated as she read, and she looked back at the photograph. She kept reading:
At first glance it may appear to simply be a painting of religious significance. But researchers in 2014 unearthed several similar rock paintings all emanating around a roughly 20 mile-radius of the first, with unique quirks suggesting multiple individual tribes happened upon this same scene from 5,000 years ago. Could it be that the two figures were in fact, real in some sense? Radiocarbon dating suggests at least the possibility of some major event – such as a meteor, earthquake, etc. – occurring in the area. The event may have been isolated, but it no doubt left a mark upon our state in history.
The thoughts going through Demi's head were impure, and she couldn't help but wonder if another “adventure” of theirs could take these two students... worldwide.
It was an odd thought though, and admittedly Demi would need to convince Agatha to agree to... a lot of things.
“So, run that by me again,” said Agatha with crossed arms and a cocked head. Her junkshop basement garage was as cluttered as ever, with Demi seated on a cleared off worktable, her pants likely getting sawdust all over them. The open textbook was next to her, having been thoroughly examined and reexamined by the both of them. “You think that we... have the power to change history?”
Demi nodded, saying in a low voice, “Yes?”
“And we only discovered this because you didn't calibrate the units correctly?”
Demi could only nod – “Y-yes...”
Agatha glared at Demi, deep in thought.
Then, a smile broached her face, and she pumped a fist, “YES, let's GO! My hypothesis was correct!”
Demi looked up at her dancing friend, beginning, “Wha--”
“Researchers think that time is unchanging, but this could be the first experiment to prove that wrong! Our machine works far better than it ever intended – size-changing aside. And if we keep testing it, we could open up the doors for so much knowledge about history and the future to be uncovered!”
“Uncover history,” said Demi whimsically. “More like... making our own history.”
The darkness with which she said this somewhat jolted Agatha from her excitement. “What was that?” she inquired.
“Agatha...” Demi took a deep breath. She knew the likely responses. She knew what she was about to jeopardize. The first and only student in the entire school that walked up to Demi first, instead of waiting indefinitely for Demi to inquire about becoming friends. The only one Demi could feel comfortable talking with on the phone for hours and hours and hours. The only one who continued to entertain Demi's ramblings about tarot cards and star charts, as well as mercifully neglecting to apply to either the stresses of the scientific method when Demi was nearby. Agatha was quite possibly the reason Demi chose to subsist in this world, and she was ready and willing to die if Agatha ever left her... not that she'd ever tell her something so manipulative.
“Agatha... I want to do it again.”
“Of course! We can do another test right now, since I fixed the--”
“No.” Demi adopted in her expression a steel, one that she seldom used. “I want to do it... again.”
“You mean...” Agatha momentarily lost herself in thought before a lightbulb went off. “Like... like before?”
“Because. It felt good. Seeing us in those paintings...” Demi's voice became breathy and airy. “It felt good. J-just one more time. I want to change history with you again. Please.”
Even as she said this, Agatha's face couldn't help but involuntarily twist into a look of consternation. Deep inside, Demi knew that this was it. The straw that broke the camel's back. Demi knew, she always knew that their relationship was on thin ice with how weird she was, despite Agatha never saying or even implying this to be the case. She was good at hiding it is all, Demi thought. It was over. They were over. Demi felt red hotness erupt into her cheeks. She looked around instinctively for an exit, taking a few steps back as Agatha continued to remain in thought, surely thinking about how best to utterly destroy Demi with her words and explain that she was an awful person and no longer worthy of friendship.
Demi tugged her hair across her eyes as a shade and began to say, “You know what? Forget it, I'm sorry I brought it up,” and began to tiptoe around the discarded junk to the door before she was grabbed by her collar.
“Wait right there, Demi.”
Demi stopped for risk of choking, turning back to her friend while doing all she could to avoid any tears from flowing out. To her surprise, it wasn't anger on Agatha's face, but something closer to worry.
“Look, I get it. I get you, you know? You don't need to hide your feelings from me. It's just... I don't think I'm into this all that much. Besides, who knows what else we could change. If it had no risk of consequences, I'd...” Agatha stopped to choose her words carefully. “I'd try it, maybe? But as it is now? I just...” Agatha sighed. “I don't know?”
Despite her best wishes, Demi couldn't help it. The staticy feeling of the web in her face holding back the torrent of tears began to rip, and a sniffle came out. Then, Demi blinked, and with a wavery voice, she could only say,
“I'm... I'm sorry!”
Demi fell into Agatha's arms, not caring about her outfit getting soiled by the oil and muck on Agatha's overalls, nor did Agatha mind that she was getting covered in makeup and snot.
Agatha was familiar with this. And admittedly, she had been on the receiving end of her friend's most naked emotional outbursts perhaps slightly more often than she was on the giving end. So she could do nothing but embrace Demi as she continued to cry herself out, knowing that this was the sort of thing you simply had to wait on.
Finally, Demi's sniffles decreased in frequency. The time had come to interject, and Agatha had, after a lot of soul-searching while her best friend in the world was collapsed in her embrace, made a decision.
“You know what? Maybe we can go together... one more time.”
Demi sniffed particularly noisily, and raised her face out of Agatha's bosom. “R-really?”
“Uh-huh! But just once! And then we're done.”
Demi agreed. “O-okay. Okay.” The tears had decreased to a trickle, and with a wipe of her sleeve, Demi looked almost indistinguishable from how she appeared minutes prior. Only the lack of make-up as well as her puffy red eyes if one looked close enough were signs anything had been wrong.
Content that her friend could stand on her own, Agatha let go and walked to the machine, flipping a few switches. “I finished the de-localizer too, meaning we're not restricted to the current area anymore. We can go across the world now!”
Another few button presses as Agatha continued, “So it was mostly a software issue regarding our growth, meaning it should be easy to reverse. Anyway, the ball's in your court.” The capsule opened up, revealing the old reclining seat at the beating heart of the time machine. “Where do you wanna go?”
Demi thought. This was the last adventure, meaning it had to be for keeps. She wanted to make an impact. She wanted to be remembered. But still, not recent enough that anybody might recognize her in the present from accounts.
Demi had a thought. She removed her phone from her pocket and googled something.
“I know where to go.”
She showed Agatha her phone, and her eyebrows raised. A thin smile curled at Agatha's mouth, and she responded, “You're sure?”
Agatha flipped the final switch and said, “Well then, let us embark!” She hopped into the recliner. Demi stepped inside and cozied up beside her as Agatha drew the seat-belt over the two of them, feeling a warm feeling fill her up as she looked forward to what they were about to do.
For the last time.