It’s Christmas time again and Gary Hopkins, a teenager in Taylorville, flashes back to last Christmas, the one he can not forget.
I never saw any of it coming. I mean it’s one of the most predictable days of the year and I had some interesting company. Wait, I’m getting ahead way of myself. Let me begin right at 3:00 in the afternoon on Christmas Eve last year.
I was passing through the kitchen with some placemats on my way to the dining table, where I had to set up the table for the feast.
“Gary! Don’t use those old placemats, here, use these ones,” my mom said while grabbing the old ones from me.
“Thanks Mom,” I replied with no meaning to it whatsoever.
I was in the dining room doing my job when I first heard that noise that probably began it all. I can’t describe it just right. It was definitely a high pitched whir, really loud and annoying. It broke my mom’s very expensive white fine china collection. My family rushed into the room panicking to assess the damage, then the doorbell rang. My younger brother, Henry went to answer it.
“Go away, strange man!” Henry shouted. The man at the door then said something I couldn’t hear.
“If you’re Voltaire, I’m the King of England! Go…”
“I shall not leave the premises until I have the company of the owner!” the man exclaimed.
My dad, looking as if he was foreseeing something terrible, went to the door. They talked for about a minute, I couldn’t hear anything they said. He then walked back in with a man who looked like he was straight out of a history book or a museum exhibit.
“I’m very sorry for my son’s impolite behavior, Mr….”
“Arouet, but you may know me as Voltaire.”
The room fell silent. Everyone could see what the other was thinking, because everyone had the same thought. Is this man out of his mind? Luckily, the rest of my family thought so too. My Uncle Ben wearing his trenchcoat as always, was sitting quietly as this circus occurred and he found an opportunity to speak.
“Monsieur Arouet, I happen to be a fan of your works and I’d like to talk to you about them.”
“Surely, I could never reject an intellectual conversation.”
“What do you think about the church’s role in government?”
So, they talked about religion and other things from the 1700s for a what seemed like ages.
While that conversation happened, the doorbell rang again. “It’s probably the President this time, am I right?” I joked while going to the door. President Brown was standing on my doorstep.
“You’ve been staring for so long, when will I get in?” President Brown said as he offered a handshake.
“Hello, Mr. President,” I said while shaking his hand, “I’m Gary Hopkins.”
“Nice to meet you, Gary.” he said as I showed him into the living room.
“Which President Brown impersonator are you?” my brother asked rudely. My mom went and pinched his ear in such a way that President Brown wouldn’t notice.
“Sorry about my son, Mr. President. I’m Maria Hopkins, I’m sure you met Gary and that would be my other son, Henry. Let me introduce you to everyone else, they’re out on the patio.” she said happily.
6:00 came quickly and the food was all ready to eat. The doorbell did ring a few more times, but those rings were just relatives we expected. We were going to sit at the large dining table only used for the most special of occasions. And it was so big, we had to haul it into the living room with its tan colored walls and sofas just as tan. We assembled it in there just before dinner. Everyone finally settled down, and my dad asked for silence.
“Before we do our prayer, I’d like to acknowledge our special guests: Mr. Arouet, or Voltaire as he is commonly known as, our president, Larry Brown…”
Massive applauding came from everyone in the room.
“Why are they here?” Henry asked me.
“I don’t know…”
“Let me speak!” my dad shouted, and then the room went silent. “And lastly not us not forget Rebecca, who took time out of her busy schedule in New York to travel all the way to Taylorville.” Polite applause came from the whole room. “Let us pray…” and then we prayed and began to eat our dinner.
“So, you are the King of this nation?” Voltaire asked President Brown.
“No, Mr. Voltaire, I’m the president. My power is quite limited compared to a king.”
“That would then mean my friend Rousseau was right.”
“Please pass the cranberry sauce,” Uncle Ben asked.
“That atrocious ‘sauce’ is the only thing I hate about 2016.” Voltaire replied as he passed it.
“How did you get here?” I asked him.
“That is a tale for another day.” he said.
“Tell me!” I shouted to the mortified looks of my family. “Sorry. Please tell me.” I politely asked.
“I found the secret to time travel.” Voltaire said.
My family and myself were beyond shock. My grandma choked on her ham, Henry froze in horror, my Aunt Rebecca passed out and I was in a state far beyond lost.
“You can travel through time?” President Brown said with some bewilderment and excitement in his voice as he reached for his phone. “I need to take a phone call, now!”
“Oh, no. I shall not let you do that.” Voltaire said as he pulled out an object that looked like a taser. President Brown put his hands in the air as my dad and my grandpa, who sat next to him, moved away slowly.
“You see, Monsieur Brown, I’ve been up and down time itself as of late, and I know that your government wants to alter time and history as we know it. You simply can not get away with your crimes against time.”
“What do you want? Money, a job for life, anything?” President Brown said frantically.
“I want you to come with me.”
“Listen, Voltaire. I’m the leader of the free world. I just can’t go with you to wherever you take me.”
By the time he said that, my family was slowly leaving the room. “Everyone shall leave President Brown and I to have a talk.” Voltaire said. I quickly got up and started to leave with the others but I noticed someone lingering behind. My Uncle Ben was leaving at a suspiciously slow pace with his hands reaching into his trench coat. Something in the air seemed make that single moment last for ages. Before I could blink, Voltaire was as frozen as ice staring at President Brown and President Brown was frozen just like him with a frightened expression. I blinked again, and he was still frozen. I turned back to Uncle Ben and he had an object in his hand that looked like a gun. “Don’t worry Gary. I just suspended them in time. Now please help me move Voltaire to the closet.”
“This is unreal.” I replied as we picked up Voltaire by his frozen limbs.
“There are things you do not know, or should ever know.” Uncle Ben said. So we moved his body to the coat closet. “I’m sorry about this. I have to tell you the whole truth Gary. I am a CIA agent. That is why you did not see any security inside this house for the President and why I even have a weapon so advanced. I had to freeze the President so I could tell you this. You must never tell a soul what I just said. Understand?” Uncle Ben asked sternly.
“Yes, I understand.” I said as he unfreezed President Brown.
“Why on earth did you freeze me?” President Brown asked.
“To protect you, Mr. President. He almost killed you.” Uncle Ben replied.
“Thank you…” President Brown said with reluctance; he looked at his watch. “I must be on my way. Please thank your family for their hospitality.”
Everything then seemed to slowly go back to normal, slowly. The frozen Voltaire went with Uncle Ben and my family eventually came out of shock, two hours later. So, I never did see any of it coming, but it was surely interesting. Now, I’m sitting next to a permanently frozen Voltaire at Uncle Ben’s house and I still wonder why it all happened. Maybe it was to warn me about what was to come, the uncertain present I now live in.
Thank you for reading this story, watch out for more coming soon. Once again, Happy Hoildays! -Gideon