Chapter 2: Solution
The next day came as any other had. The sun was beginning to rise and Miles wasn't in the mood to get up for school. Wensday. No one liked Wensday. It was like a slap in your face. You were half way done with the week, but you still have another half to go. Even if you had a time machine, you'd still have to travel that same amount of time to reach the weekend as you would going forward.
Reluctantly, Miles pulled himself and managed to get dressed for school. In the kitchen, his mother left a Post-in that read:
Gone to the store. Be back as soon as possible.
Miles tossed the note in the waste basket and grabbed some Pop Tarts before heading out the door. As usual, Allison was waiting for him.
“Wow,” Allison said, “You're early. Usually I'm waiting out for for almost half an hour. And I love how you pick today to be early because I have no interest in going to school early. I bet it's the polar shift. That's why you've randomly decided to become the bane of my existence.”
“Shut up and drive,” Miles insisted. “I don't care you skip today or not, but I have to get to school. The former director of the science center made a good point. Life is now literally too short to waste it on the sidelines. Today, I am going to ask Ashley on another date and this time I'm not taking some lame excuse as an answer.
Back in Providence, Chuck Westin was making his own preparations. He hadn't left the science center since Monday and he was still making plans for the future. “Dennis,” he called his friend over to him. “I think I'm going to head back to Hyde's Park. I have to see how the family's doing in the wake of impending doom.”
“52 weeks is not impending.”
“Give or take. Anyways, since you're in charge now, I'm going to go ahead and ask for a paid vacation.”
“How about I just fire your ass?”
“Works for me.”
“What about Jamie?”
“Crap! I forgot all about her!”
“What's wrong with you man! You can't just forget about your fiancee like that. You know how women are, especially that one. You're lucky she didn't hear you say that. She would have ripped your head off, pour some hot sauce down it, staple your head back onto your neck, shake it up, rip it open again, and pour the hot sauce out to burritos made out of your arms which I forgot to mention she ripped off earlier.”
“Always has to be a food analogy, right?”
“What can I say? I'm a fat man.”
“I'll talk to her. I'm sure she'll understand.”
Allison and Miles arrived as school, with the courtyard almost completely empty. They could literally count the number of students left outside on one hand. Allison stared in disbelief. “We can't be that early, are we?”
“No you're not,” came Mr. Allen's booming voice from one of the school entrances. “Mr. Westin. Just the young man I've been waiting for. Principal Ling wants you in her office immediately.” Miles shrugged and hopped out of Allison's car and followed Mr. Allen to the principal's office.
Inside, Principal Ling was sitting at her desk looking at a sheet of paper. Miles sat down across from her and waited for her to put the piece of paper down. After a minute of painful silence, Principal Ling put the sheet down and looked at Miles.
“Mr. Westin, I'm not sure if you noticed, but the courtyard is rather empty today. This is because an unprecedented amount of students have dropped out in the wake of the announced magnetic shift. Among those students to drop out was Gary Decerto so-”
“No way!” Miles screamed in excitement. “Gary dropped out. Really? Really!?”
“Yes,” Ling continued. “As I was saying, this revelation technically makes you the school valedictorian, so if I were you, I would get started on the speech you'll be giving on graduation day.”
“That's not for another six months and the world isn't even guaranteed to survive that long.”
“We can argue all day about the validity of this speech, but I still want to see a rough copy of it by the end of the month. Now get out of my office. I have a lot of calls to make.”
Four-thousand students missing, Allison figured, no one would notice if another student were to slip out. A free day with nothing but driving around Hyde's Park. This is why no one skips school in Hyde's Park. Hyde's Park High School is one of the most interesting things in the town. After about an hour of aimless driving, Allison was seriously considering to return to school.
Allison stopped the car and made an immediate U-turn over the yellow line. As luck would have it, a police car was watching her. The squad car's lights turned on and began to tail Allison's car. Allison groaned before bringing the car to a dead stop. The police officer stopped with only inches separating their bumpers, stepping out with a pompous attitude Allison had seen numerous times before.
“Are you playing dress-up, Gary?”
“No!” He shot back, extremely offended. “The chief of police left to become a monk in Tibet, so they gave me the job becuase no one else really felt like doing it.”
“You're kidding, right?”
“So you're like the only cop in town now, right?”
“That doesn't mean I'm going to lenient. I was king of the classroom and now I rule the street.”
Allison held in a giggle before asking, “Gary, do you know the PIT maneuver?”
“The what maneuver?”
Allison put her car back in drive and sped away from the scene. “Ah, come on!” Gary complained. “Don't do that! I have to fill out paperwork on this now!”
Chuck arrived at his apartment, struggling to remember which key on his key chain was the one to open the door. He hadn't been home since Monday, so Jamie was bound to be upset. Finally, Chuck found the key and carefully began to push the door open. Jamie suddenly yanked the door open and Chuck fell to the floor.
Jamie was beautiful. She was a blond psychiatry major, but most people assume that she would benefit more from going to regular psychiatry sessions than learning about it in a classroom. Classic psycho Jamie was was looming over Chuck. “Monday. Monday night you left to got to work at the science center. It's Wensday. Where the Hell have you been?”
“At the science center,” Chuck explained as he stood up off the ground. “Didn't you see the news cast. I discovered an anomaly in the Earths magnetic field. The world's going to end in a year. I couldn't leave!”
“I don't want to hear your lousy excuses. We had a date last night.”
“About that, we're going to have to cancel that and any other future plans for a night out, mainly becuase I got fired.”
“Fired! How are we going to pay the rent?”
“We ahead of you. The Westin's already own the house in Hyde's Park. We move into my mother house for a while until I get back on my feet. What do you say?”
“I can't believe you're even suggesting this! I'm a city girl. I've never lived in a city with less than a million people. Why would I want to spend the possible last year of my life in some place I'm bound to hate.”
“You don't know small towns like I do,” Chuck assured. “It can be very romantic and in the long run, wedding preparations can be completed at a much faster pace when there is less options to choose from.”
“You make a good point,” Jamie replied. “With life ending, the wedding needs to be moved to a closer date. We are going to be working on this day and night. What are you waiting for. My stuff isn't going to pack itself.”
Lunch time. Ashley was finally alone and Miles had pumped himself up for this moment. No more excuses. No more lies. Ashley was going to have to give him a real reason this time. After a deep breath, Jamie stood up and walk over to the table that Ashley was sitting at.”
“I'm sure you already know what I'm going to ask so I'm not going to waste your time or my time asking it again. I'll just wait for a response.”
“Actually,” Ashley began, “I've been meaning to talk you. After I saw the news cast about the polar shift last night, I decided to reevaluate my life. I've realized that I've been hiding from something that's been right in front of me.”
Miles's heart began to race. Maybe something good came out of the polar shift. Maybe Ashley was finally going to go out with him, even if just out of fear of loneliness in the last year of life. “Go ahead,” Miles said, “becuase I want to hear it just as much as you want to say it.”
“Miles,” she started. “I'm a lesbian.”
The day had been a complete waste for Allison. Most establishments worth visiting decided not to open and her confrontation with Gary was less than entertaining. She might as well head back to school. Maybe at least she'll catch the last class of the day and actually learn something.
Allison sighed as she turned the car back around and began to drive towards the school just as her cell phone rang. It was Miles, who had just finished dealing with his own crisis. “I can't believe it! Can you believe it? I can't believe it!”
“How about you stop babbling and actually tell me what I should be believe and let me decide whether or not I should believe it.”
“The Polar Shift. I hate it. At least before I had a chance with Ashley. Now she's telling me that she came to the realization that she's a lesbian!”
Allison couldn't control her immediate laughter and she wasn't about to try and hide it. Such news it too funny to hide laughter for. “I'm not even going to apologize for laughing at your pain, dude. That is just too funny. I've had my own problems with the Polar Shift too, you know. Gary Derceto dropped out and apparently he's the police chief now.”
“So I've heard. Is he any good?”
“He doesn't know what the PIT maneuver is. I think we can get away with running a red light or two now.”
“I guess one good thing came out of this, but now I've lost any chance at Ashley. Could this day get any worse?”
Allison didn't have a chance to reply. A loud thud sounded in front of her car and Allison hit the brakes. “Great. I hit something. It sounded heavy. It's probably some guy trying to commit suicide.”
“Is he dead?”
“I don't know,” Allison replied as she stepped out of the car. “I was driving pretty fast. I'd be pretty surprised if he's still alive. Aw, damn! No only is he still alive, he's insisting on crawling all over the hood of my car. He's getting blood all over it!”
“What?! Call an ambulance!”
“Fine. I'll put you on hold, then.” Allison put Miles on hold and dialed 911.
“Hello? 911 emergency.”
“This is Allison Dreary-”
“Ha! Gotcha! Yeah, like anyone is actually going to bother to man the phone lines with the Polar Shift. You need help? Get it yourself!”
“Well,” Allison said to herself as she put Miles back on the line. “That was interesting. I didn't get an answer on the emergency line. Oh well.”
“He was committing suicide anyways. What do you want me to do?”
“Take him to the hospital! I'll meet you there.”
Allison groaned in anguish. Her day was just getting worse and worse. “Come on,” Allison said as she put the man's arm around her shoulder. Can you walk well enough to get in the back seat?”
“It's here,” he managed to cough out. “It started here. It'll end here.”The man began to cough blood before his head sank down.
“Great,” Allison groaned as she threw his lifeless body into the backseat. “I'm just going to go ahead and warn you that I'm going to hold you monetarily responsible for any damages you do to my car. I don't care if you die either becuase I'll be right behind you in about a year.”