Michael Awadalla

“Vidalia! What the hell are you doing?”

“Sorry, Dad. You weren’t supposed to know about this,” Vidalia told her father. She adjusted the dials of the metallic device strapped to her back, causing it to light up and make intense whirring sounds.

“What is that thing? Don’t touch it!” her father shouted, running over to her.

“It’s too late for that!” Vidalia replied. She saluted her father and dove out her window.

Her father’s repeated shouts of “Vidalia! Oh my god!” were drowned out by the sudden boom of the jetpack igniting. Moments before she would have been impaled on a fencepost, the sudden force of the machine propelled her forwards.

“Holy shiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiit!” Vidalia screamed, hurtling over the nighttime suburbs like a bullet. The wind stretched her face back and made her hair a spastic mess. Several insects disintegrated upon colliding with her teeth. The town below melted into a blurry sea of colors, as did the stars in the night sky above.

Vidalia tried moving her limbs, but the intense speed at which she was flying created a gravitational force preventing her from doing so. She shifted her weight and her trajectory changed slightly. She spent the next few seconds experimenting with this manner of steering and ended up flying in circles over the park in the center of her hometown.

She glanced down for a moment and spotted the location where she had discovered the jetpack in the first place. On her daily walk, the week after she had dropped out of college, she had decided to take a different route through the park. The rain the night before had caused the park’s muddy landscape to shift around, and up against a heavy, aged tree, she discovered an unearthed skeleton with the jetpack strapped to it.

Vidalia did not reminisce for long, instead deciding to continue her supersonic flight across town. She swerved and twirled and made patterns with the jetpack’s glowing neon exhaust. The adrenaline of her excitement outweighed the intense nausea afflicting her body. Vidalia whooped and hollered with a big grin on her face, uncaring of the smashed insects dotting her smile.

Vidalia had circled the town completely and decided to head home after four minutes of flying. Upon turning around to make her way back, she spotted a set of glowing lights approaching her at a speed matching her own. A bit more familiar with the jetpack’s controls, she jerked around and flew away from the unidentified object. As she shot over the town’s outskirts, the lights caught up to her, and she was able to make out their source: a military jet, its wings lined with missiles.

“Uh oh,” Vidalia tried muttering to herself. The wind slapping her in the face made it come out more as “nrfo.”

The jet pursued her, and, after a few moments, fired a missile off in her direction. Vidalia attempted to twist herself out of the way, but the heat-seeking missile flawlessly followed her movements. The physical strain of going so fast began to make her bones ache. She looked back to see the tip of the missile inches away from her feet and turned the jetpack’s dial to increase her speed to its maximum. The distance between her and the missile began to grow, giving her a feeling of relief. She looked back in the direction in which she was flying to see that she was no longer able to make out the town or the sky, but rather was in a multicolored void of colorful chaos. The temporary relief of escaping the missile slipped away. She attempted to scream, but remained paralyzed in the swirling rainbow vortex.

The jetpack’s alarms began to beep. As the device began to slow down, Vidalia’s vision faded back. Despite finding herself still flying over the familiar town, she was startled to find it was daylight. Upon focusing on the city below, she noticed it was not the same; there were fewer houses, and the cars were slower and clunkier.

Before she could ponder the reason behind this peculiar occurrence, the jetpack powered off completely, leaving Vidalia falling forward at an intense speed. She looked straight ahead to see herself approaching the park. She inhaled sharply and crashed into the ground, boring deep into the soil. Vidalia was spared the horrifying death of suffocation, as she had died upon impact. The jetpack sustained no damage.

MICHAEL AWADALLA has been writing since the first grade, in which he produced the early masterpiece, “Santa Claus Fights Dinosaurs.” He attempted a career in making videogames, until he realized he only really liked the storytelling aspect and not the “programming things with math” aspect. He is in college, majoring in creative writing, and spends his free time writing (obviously), reading (everything from Faulkner to Green Lantern comics), fencing (yes, for real), and unicycling (again, for real). He has a mustache.

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