The Tripsters

a short story for young adults

On a day with an almost perfect blend of lingering autumn sunshine and early November chill, two almost ordinary teens, known as Allie and Alex, have undertaken an adventure in the White Mountains of New Hampshire. Walking along the Appalachian Trail following one of its many scenic overlooks, their hands are linked as they take in the high mountain air, feeling only slight concern for anything but the joy of the hike and the splendor of the setting. After this particular hike, they will never feel ordinary again.

The young man known as Alex says to his hiking companion, Allie, “You look so pretty with the sun on your nose that way.”

“Are you saying that my nose is too big for my face and catches all the sun’s light!” responds Allie in her perky, but still likable, “I don’t care” fashion.

Tilting his head towards hers to study her face, Alex replies “Now why would I say that! It’s just that when you smile I feel like the sun is warmer than what it probably is. I still remember the walk we took in the woods last time when you fell on a tree stump and broke your nose,” he adds.

“It’s good that we decided to take this one. I can’t believe all the stuff and cold weather gear that I had to stuff into my bag and carry. But, it’s worth it for the change of scenery. Alex… do you ever feel that life is mundane?”

Alex stops his walk to think for a moment and then responds with a shade of doubt, “You mean boring? I dunno. I don’t like to think about it.”

“Really! I do all the time, that we are doing the same things over and over and that we are mostly with the same people, who are also doing the same things,” Allie answers with some exasperation.

“You’re funny sometimes. You know that!” continues Alex, smiling now.

“Well, now that I am almost 16, I want to go places, do things that are…..well, you might say…are different,” Allie interjects with determination starting to show on her face and on the sudden placement of her hands on her hips.

“Whatdyyamean?” questions her companion.

“I mean like this trail. Let’s not stop walking where we planned to. Let’s just go on and on and on and see all the sunsets.”

“Allie you don’t mean all the way to Atlanta! I thought you were more sensible!”

“Yes, for a start. I do mean all the way to Atlanta!”

“You’re a little crazy. But that’s one of the best things about you, I’d say. The wind is picking up. Shall we turn around now?”

“Of course not! Anyway we brought our breakers with us. You have yours, right, and the tent, too? She begins to question Alex.”

“Oh oh! I didn’t bring the tent because we said that we would only hike for a few hours!”

Allie is not discouraged. “I don’t want to turn around yet! We brought some food and blankets, and we can live off wild raspberries like from that bush over there.  We could camp!”

“Camp! There are bears in the mountains!” Alex says this last thought as he begins to notice daylight disappearing as the sun drops lower in the sky, creating a haze around them.

“Don’t be silly, says Allie, displaying all the bravado she can master. “Besides this is our adventure. Don’t spoil it!”

After a quick snack of oranges and dried bagels, the two set out a blanket in a clearing and, unknowingly, fall asleep on a small tract of grass next to a hillside, when they are awakened by the piercing sounds of gong, gong, gong, insulting their ears. Allie awakens first, startled and covers her ears as she says groggily, “What is that noise! Do we have company????”

Alex awakening, rubbing his eyes, replies “What what! It’s not a bear, is it? I told you we should have gone back before it got dark.”

A distant voice is heard by the two travelers accompanied by the strike of a gong. “The British are coming, the British are coming!” is heard coming from the distance.

Alex looks at his watch and mumbles, “Can’t believe this thing says 6:00. It must be 6AM. We must have slept for 12 hours!”

Allie looks around, not sure if she is dreaming, “Never mind what time it is. Why are there two horses standing near us tethered to a hitching post?”

“Who uses a hitching post anymore, anyway? Not even sure what it is. Where are we?” says Alex, concern clearly showing on his wrinkled forehead.

Allie looks around and says, “Shhhh! Someone is broadcasting through a megaphone. It sounds like a man’s voice, and he’s wearing a funny hat.”

With a twinkle in his eye, Alex replies, “Quick, what do you remember of American history?”

“You mean Mr. Trottier’s class!” adds Allie, stopping to think back to a classroom that seems very far away now.  “He was always making everyone learn the preamble to the Constitution and threatened us with “Black Friday” if we didn’t.”

Alex grows uncomfortable now and answers, “This looks like the real thing. We’re not in our classroom anymore.”

A voice is heard by the two from a militiaman, secluded behind the thick of trees. “Now is the time for all countrymen to join us in our fight for liberty….because, if we lose the fight for our freedom, we are left with nothing. There has been in history and probably will always be tyrants, men who wish to take away our greatest treasures, our right to assemble, our right to own property, even our freedom to write and speak what we think. If we do not defend them now, then when! Join me everyone and together we will stand tall through our strength and courage.”

Allie turns to face Alex and with new determination takes a stand, “Let’s join up!”

“Are you crazy? This isn’t our fight!”

“This is a fight for our country the way we know it, not the way some other country wants to make it into. I’m going with or without you…”

“Are women even allowed to join the brigade!”

Allie stands up tall, takes a deep breath and says, “You better believe this one is going to. I can sound the gong as good as anyone….Besides; I always wanted to be at their tea party on a boat! Hurry!”

As the two run to catch up with the militiamen, a fog falls over the scene.

Allie tries to make sense of all that is happening and says, “Where is everyone? I can’t see them anymore. Are you there, Alex?”

“Hold on to me so you won’t trip. We’re either going back or forward in time, but we’re doing this together.”

Allie stoops to rub her ankles. “I’m getting tired. Let’s stop looking for our path home….Look there’s a spring. ‘Be right back….”

Alex takes out his cell phone for the third time that morning, and checks to see if he can make any communication. A British soldier spots him, creeps up behind him and reaches for the phone.

Alex is started. “Hey what are you doing!”

The British soldier now grabs the phone and replies in an official way. “What you got there? Looks like a leather case. So, what’s inside?”

“Give me that,” insists Alex.

The soldier tosses the phone into the bushes while Alex calls out, “Hey, that’s my cell.”

“Your what? Who are you, man? Where‘d you come from? Are you one of Washington’s guys? You don’t dress like one.” The soldier takes a step forward toward Alex. “Your leaders have declared war on England. I should take you prisoner, whoever you are!”

Allie sees where the cell phone has been thrown and makes a quick dash to the bushes to retrieve it. A streak of lightening is followed by a boom of thunder. “Come on Alex. Let’s get out of here.” She grabs Alex’s hand as he calls back to the soldier.

“You know, we’re gonna defeat you guys in the battle of, of, of…”

“Of Saratoga!!!” adds Allie

The British soldier, slightly bewildered, adds his comment, “The what???”

“Not bad Allie,” says Alex taking her hand. “Right on about the battle name! Now let’s get out of here!”

“I can’t wait till we get back home and tell everyone where we’ve been,” she says with pride in her heart and voice.

As they make their exit, sounds of horses, cannons and a soldier crying out, “Oh my God, oh my God, we need more troops!” are heard by the two travelers, as Alex says, “I think I just developed a new appreciation of what it must have felt like to be back in their time fighting to win our basic freedoms. I can’t wait to tell everyone where we’ve been.” As the sun beams orange through the trees, the two lock hands and leave to the now familiar sounding of muskets in their ears.