Mission of International Reprogramming
"A world in which time is penetrable by anyone is a world where hatred, greed, poverty, and violence cannot exist."
Johnny and Vienna arrived at the gala in disguise. They weren’t there to give a speech, meet colleagues, or snatch some buffet food. They had one goal and one goal only: to steal the keys to Vienna’s grandparents’ house, open the door to their secret room, and figure out a way to stop them from going through with their plans.
They were at the MIRTT, otherwise known as the Mission of International Reprogramming by Time Travel. Vienna’s grandparents Eve and Tomlin were running the event, and hundreds of time travellers from around the world congregated at the secret soiree to celebrate and fund the project. For obvious reasons, these time travellers were supremely rich, and with such extreme wealth comes the opportunity for absolute power and control.
On the surface, MIRTT seemed to have good intentions. It yearned for a world free of war, climate change, murder, suicide, crime, and any other possible negative forces. It claimed to be able to accomplish this with time travel. However, there was one problem. The project involved detonating a never-before-seen magnetic bomb strong enough to wipe out everyone on earth except the time travellers who would be able to escape it. Vienna’s grandparents, and many others, believed that a world in which time is penetrable by anyone and everyone is a world where hatred, greed, poverty, and violence cannot exist. They wanted to restart humanity and create a society solely of time travellers, and the process to get there involved killing billions of innocent people.
Unlike everyone else at the convention, Vienna and Johnny knew that this was unethical. They also knew that no matter how promising a time-travelling society appeared, it would never survive composed of 500 individuals who were willing to let (support?) such an inhumane project fly.
Vienna and Johnny wore wigs, hats, and glasses to ensure that nobody would be able to recognize them. They had just been to Eve and Tomlin’s house a few days earlier, and when they stumbled across a locked room, they knew something was off. As Eve and Tomlin walked them out, Johnny slyly grabbed an invitation to the gala that was laying on the table. When Vienna and Johnny got home, a link on the back of the invitation led them to a secret website that explained the going-ons behind MIRTT, and they immediately knew they had to attend in secret. They would try to stay out of Eve and Tomlin’s sight, but they didn’t know if anyone else would recognize them.
As they made their way through a corridor of a dozen chandeliers, they observed as guests walked in and out of the door to the main ballroom wearing dull colors like grey, white, and black.
“I guess color is tacky to billionaires,” Johnny whispered.
Despite the monochromaticity, specific outfit accents seemed to span a wide range of decades and even centuries -- typical for attendants coming from different time periods. And, everyone was in great shape. There were multiple one-hundred year olds walking around without canes or walkers.
“Can you imagine what kind of medicine these people have access to?” Vienna said.
“Why do you think Eve and Tomlin are running this here? Why 2021 of all places-- I mean... times?” Johnny asked.
Vienna stared up at the sparkling chandelier above her. It reminded her of her 1960’s house and her mother.
“It’s home,” she said.
Vienna thought about why her grandparents might’ve really stayed in 2021. Were there no better, more high-tech options for venues in future centuries? Maybe they hoped Vienna’s mother would come back.
If you can’t see a time traveller, it’s nearly impossible to know where they are. Vienna learned that the hard way. So, if you’re trying to find one, the best thing to do is to go to the last place you saw them. That way, if they’re looking for you as well, you’ll both find each other. That’s what her mother always told her.
Vienna looked up at the chandelier again. She reevaluated her choices. She wondered if she should have stayed in 1963. She wondered if her mother was there now, looking for her.
“Vienna, look!” Johnny said, pointing across the ballroom, “your grandparents!”
She turned her head and watched as Eve and Tomlin walked toward a back room.
“Come on, let’s go,” Vienna said.
“What?” Johnny said as she walked away.
He stayed behind. He knew that if they both walked into a trap, nobody would be able to save them.
On her way to the back door, Vienna stumbled into Gerald, her long lost uncle who she thought had died.
She was confused but suddenly felt a rush of hope that her mother was still alive. She rushed over to him.
“Uncle Gerald,” she said, “it’s me, Vienna.”
He looked at her and briefly smiled. Quickly, that smile turned into a frown. He knew something she didn’t.
“Vienna... get out of here,” he said.
But Vienna didn’t care about herself. Her mind was set on one thing.
“Where’s my mom?” she asked.
He didn’t respond.
“Get… out... of here,” he said again, this time more intensely. He stared her down with fear.
She turned around and rushed over to Johnny.
“We have to go,” she told him.
“What?” he asked.
“Right now,” she said, grabbing Johnny’s hand.
They exited the ballroom and ran through the chandelier hallway. When they got to the exit, six men in grey suits grabbed them, pinned them down, and injected them with a bright blue tranquilizer. The men carried them to the back room where Eve and Tomlin were.
Johnny and Vienna woke up to Eve laughing maniacally. They were tied up in chairs, and she was sitting right across from them.
"I want to know what was going through your minds when you were running through that hallway," Eve joked, "I mean... did you really think you would get out?"
Still disoriented, Johnny and Vienna struggled to sit up in their chairs.
Now that Vienna was face to face with her grandparents and they knew that she knew about their plans, she blurted out all of the questions that were weighing on her.
"Why are you doing this here... why are you still in 2021... where is my mom?" Vienna asked.
"You must be really stupid to think that we'll answer your questions," Eve said.
"If she's alive, you're the stupid one. I know my mother. She'll get to us. She'll stop you."
Eve laughed, "You stole our invitation. We knew you'd be here. Yet, you came. So let's face it, Vienna, the only stupid one here… is you. This whole thing was a trap, and you and your useless friend fell right in."
Vienna was defeated. She didn't know what to say. Johnny broke the silence.
"Time travel," he told her.
Eve looked concerned.
Vienna looked at him and shook her head.
"I can't leave you. They'll kill you," Vienna said.
"They'll kill us both if you don't leave," Johnny responded.
"Go for it," Eve teased, "use time travel to solve all your problems. See where that gets you."
"That's pretty hypocritical of you to say, don't you think?" Vienna snapped.
"We're not solving problems..." Eve said, "we're ending them. For good."
"You're crazy. You're blinded by power and money."
"I want to ask you something..." Eve said, changing the subject, "I want to know why you're so hesitant to time travel. In general, I mean. Why are you still here when you could've gone back in time and not come to the gala in the first place? That would save you and your friend."
While Vienna's mother was a time traveller, her father was not. So, Vienna only inherited half of the power. While she could travel forward in time, she could not travel back. Of course, her grandparents didn't know this, as their world was absorbed by time travel and they could never picture their daughter Marley married to a non-traveller. And, of course, they hadn't heard from Marley since she had run away from home at age 18 and moved to the 1960's.
"I can't go back in time," Vienna confessed, "I only have half of the power."
Eve raised her eyebrows.
"Hm," Eve said, "well that explains that."
"Why our little plan green light didn't work."
"And what exactly was your 'plan green light'?"
Eve paused. For a second, she almost looked remorseful.
"To get you to go back to the 60's. And stay there," Eve said.
"And what were you going to do?" Vienna asked.
"Well..." Eve started, "the thing is... we did it. And we realized it didn't work, but frankly, we didn't care enough to reverse it. Sorry about that."
"What do you mean?" Vienna asked.
"Well, I don't like to be the bearer of bad news..." Eve said, "but let's just say... it was quick death. He hit his head on the windshield and the rest was history."
Vienna froze. She wasn't surprised. She wasn't sad. She was infuriated. Her grandparents killed her best friend from the 60's. The hit-and-run she read about in the news archives was no accident -- it was pre-meditated murder. He didn't die because he gave Vienna his allowance to bid her farewell and didn't have money to ride the bus home -- he died because Vienna sought out help from her psychopathic grandparents who, in an effort to get her far away from their scheme to end the world, took away hers.
About the author
Hi! My name is Leanne. I'm from Los Angeles, California. I'm a singer, writer, and actress. I currently attend the University of California, Santa Barbara. I'm double-majoring in Sociology and Film & Media Studies.