_ _ _ _ Date: June 1, 2136
_ _ _ _ Time: 08:40:00 am pst
_ _ _ _ Location: Old Los Angeles
_ _ _ _ Population: 34,312
_ _ _ _ Video signal received: Municipal System Activated. Camera 26 signal activated.
“Hey, what brings you two here so early? Class doesn’t start for another 20 minutes.” Mr. Brown said to Max and Mary. He could tell by their smiles that something was up. Standing side by side, the twins unzipped their hoodies and showed him the bright yellow shirts underneath with their new, team logo on it. “So? What do you think?”
“What do I think of … what? Matching shirts?”
“No, dude! The logo. I’ve been working on it all month!” Max exclaimed. Mr. Brown walked up and leaned over to examine it closely. “Hmm, very interesting. I like the design. I think it says a lot. So … what’s it supposed to be?”
“Our team logo, remember? For the competition!” Mary said, aggravated at the teacher’s clear lack of disconnect. “Oh, hey, that’s it, huh?” Mr. Brown asked, staring a little longer.
“Oh man, you hate it!” Max cried out.
“Um, no … Max. In fact, I think I really, really like it. The more I look at it, the neater it gets.”
“Really? Do you really like it?” Mary asked.
“Yeah, I do. In fact, I think you two have a really unique logo and it says a lot. But … where did you guys come up with this?”
“I made it!” Max exclaimed. Mr. Brown squinted his eyes at him and then looked down at the logo, and then back up at Max, “Really?”
“Well, um … you see …” Max stuttered. Mary tried to talk, but only stuttered. One thing the twins were not good at doing was lying to their teacher. “Okay, let’s have it. Where’d you get it?” Mr. Brown asked.
“Look … we don’t want you to get upset …” Mary started to say. “Oh boy, here it comes,” Mr. Brown said, sitting down on his desk. “Every time someone says that, it’s not a good story. So, what? Did you two steal it from someone?”
“NO!” Max exclaimed. “We found it!”
“Max!” Mary said, scolding him for blurting it out.
“Now, hold on, kids. What do you mean, ‘found’ it?” The twins looked at each other nervously. Before they knew it, Mr. Brown had worked every detail of their journey out of them, including how they had been secretly practicing in the restricted zone and found the underground building, the vault, the computer system, and the logo. Mr. Brown was frozen with anticipation. He loved history – especially archaeology. He wanted to shout at the kids for breaking the rules while getting more details out of them. After giving it some thought, he finally said, “Okay. Well, I guess that explains how you two have been getting so good, so quickly.” The twins just blushed.
“So – you’re not mad at us?” Mary asked.
“Well, you don’t belong in the restricted zone and you know that. But, what’s done is done. And, you did get a cool team logo and name out of it. And, of course, there’s the part about you reading ancient english that I’m really proud of you for …” Mr. Brown said. Mary blushed and smiled.
“But, don’t misunderstand. I don’t want to hear or see you two going into the restricted zone again, or you’ll leave me with no choice but to tell your parents.”
“No, dude, you can’t. They totally -”
“Wouldn’t understand.” Mary said, finishing Max’s thoughts. The couple that lived next door to Mary and Max weren’t their real parents, but were as close to guardians as the children had.
“Then, it’s settled. Team Radioactive will compete on Founder’s Day and you two will start practicing ‘above’ ground, where you belong!” The twins weren’t happy to hear about the restrictions, and looked at each other, frustrated.
The camera continues to record a long, typical day in school. As usual, when it was over, the twins took off to parts unknown and Mr. Brown headed straight home. It was the first of the month and so far, the camera had intercepted multiple conversations on the first and last of every month between Mr. Brown and a research scientist in the ruins of Washington D.C.
_ _ _ _ Time: 05:15:00 pm pst
_ _ _ _ Location: Old Los Angeles
_ _ _ _ Video signal received: Municipal System Activated. Camera 115 signal activated.
_ _ _ _ Intercepted transmission, 947 Ghz, Destination, Quadrant 01 01 A3 F5.
_ _ _ _ Testing Municipal video feed …. Error A#246!ghy#JFnr … Video feed status: compromised. Status: Intercepted video feed: Recording . . .
There is static. Suddenly, the screen is split in half and on one side is Mr. Brown, and on the other was Dr. Amy Lao, a woman of Asian descent, as young as Mr. Brown, pretty with large glasses on her small nose and dust on her face, shirt, hands, and hair. “Robert!” The woman exclaimed, “It’s so good to see you!” She spoke as if she was thoroughly exhausted.
“It’s good to see you, too, dear. How’s the dig going?” He asked.
“Uhng … you have no idea! We’ve been digging through piles and piles of burnt pages, busted cement, and still haven’t been able to preserve more than the books in the sealed section. It’s almost like we’ve reached the end of our journey and yet … there are so many pages left unread.”
“Oh man, that’s disappointing.”
“Tell me about it.”
“So … um, I know this is off topic, but will you still be here for Founder’s Day?” Robert asked with a coy smile. Amy smiled back at him, “I wouldn’t miss it for the world! We have a hover jet standing by, fueled, and ready to go!”
“I’m so relieved. It’s been so boring over here without you.”
“Hey! What about your class? And .. for that matter, our favorite students?”
“Mary and Max?” Robert asked, laughing out loud. “They’re just fine. Oh … in fact, they just came up with a new team logo and name – and they’re ready to go!” As Robert shuffled through some papers, looking for the sketch he drew, Amy said, “Good for them! I’m so excited! I can’t wait to see it.”
“Here, look at this – it’s their new team ‘logo.’ They said they ‘found’ it on a wall somewhere.” Robert held up the crude drawing, but instead of getting the gleeful reply he was hoping for, Amy quickly put on her glasses and leaned into the screen, squinting. “Um, something wrong?” Robert asked?
“I think I’ve seen that before … somewhere…”
“Well, truth be told, the kids were in the restricted zone and -”
“WHAT!? Robert! You LET them go in there?” She scolded.
“Hey now! Hold on, I didn’t ‘Let’ them do anything. In fact, I scolded them about it and told them they couldn’t go back or I was going to rat them out.”
“You better! Those two are the best hope that city has right now. But that picture … it’s so familiar. I can almost place it …” Amy said, still focused on the drawing. “Maybe it’s in one of your books?” Robert asked.
“That’s it! Yes … I’ve seen it in the protected section with the Presidential books. I’ll look for it tonight.”
“Hold on, now. No need for that. You can look for it tomorrow …”
“Wh … what are you talking about?”
“Well …” Robert started to say, blushing. “Okay, c’mon, out with it. What’s up?” She asked him.
Slowly, Robert lifted a small ring box up in front of the monitor. Amy’s eyes began to fill with tears and she covered her mouth, “Listen, I know … I know this isn’t the most romantic setting and all … and I’ve been trying to hold off … but … Amy, I, uh, well -” Robert stuttered as he lifted the box top and a single-banded, silver ring was inside. “ROBERT! OH MY GOD! I LOVE YOU SO MUCH! AHHHHH!” Amy jumped up screaming. Several people rushed to her concerned – but upon seeing the ring, they started jumping up and down with her. “Oh Robert, Yes! YES!”
Robert just smiled. He had planned a long explanation about how the ring was small and wasn’t much (it had been passed down from his great grandmother while they lived underground), but he would always promise to love her. Instead, after everyone was done yelling and celebrating he said, “How about it? Founder’s Day?”
“What!?! You mean it!? Right when I get back?”
“I don’t want to wait, Amy Lao. I love you and I want you to be my wife.”
Robert and Amy continued to talk for hours. He described the place the twins had visited and the wall full of computer monitors and buttons. Amy was enchanted. Never having been given permission to go into the restricted zone, she had no idea what was in there. But, her scientist curiosity didn’t care about restrictions. She wanted to know more.
“Maybe we can check it out when you’re back.” Robert suggested.
“Well …. maybe. But, I don’t think we should mention it to anyone.”
“Agreed. I’ll tell you what. I’ll make a point of checking it out just before you get back, make sure the place is clear, first.”
“Robert! I don’t want you going in there on your own – it could be dangerous.”
“Don’t worry about me. If those two kids can get through it – so can I!”
The signal slowly faded to static and the screen went blank. Robert sat back with a smile on his face … to be the first scientist to document the restricted zone … that … would be awesome. He held up the paper and smiled, “Radioactive, huh? It does sound pretty, cool.”