Mai

Mai

Chapter illustration for the Topeka and Shawnee County Public Libraries community novel project Time Harbor. Visit the website here and choose your path.

She pulled out the medallion and turned it over. The blue light was still out. If anyone from the program was still monitoring, they’d understand her desperation. She was practically marooned in this weird decade. She hadn’t asked for this! Before the honors student could pipe up again, Mai reached out and grabbed the pan pizza, shot a glance over her shoulder and began hurriedly weaving her way through the crowd. “Hey!” she heard, alarmingly close behind her. She turned to see the man holding a wad of napkins, pointing at her in accusation, his face a shocked collage of wrinkled exclamation points. “That girl stole my food! She’s got my food. Stop her! Stop her! She’s stealing!” Slowly all the chattering heads turned in her direction. Mai looked straight ahead,  clutching her zesty-smelling, cheesy treasure in increasingly greasy hands. [blockquote width=’100′ mark=’white’]

Before the honors student could pipe up again, Mai reached out and grabbed the pan pizza, shot a glance over her shoulder and began hurriedly weaving her way through the crowd.
[/blockquote]She walked faster, her eyes set on the last bits of daylight shining crimson through the exit doors. The man continued yelling and the people ahead of her in her path were now turning to look, eyeing her suspiciously. When she finally did glance back, it was just in time to witness the angry pizza man colliding with a group of scowling, punk-rocker looking teens. Two of them were carrying a tray of sodas that toppled over in the collision. When a green-mohawked teen tried to regain his balance, his basket of fries and cup of ketchup went spiraling off the other edge of his tray. When it all hit the floor, soda and ketchup flew, splattering the teens across their surprised, then shocked, then seethingly angry faces. They turned to the pizza man, their eyes glowing dark bits of coal. “What’s your problem, old man?” Green Mowhawk spat. “Get out of my way, punk!” the Pizza Man glared. He looked past to Mai, where she was frozen, wondering how in the world she’d gotten herself into this situation, into this mall, into this whole confounded time travel thing in the first place. Green Mohawk reached and grabbed a cup of soda from a nearby table and without hesitating for a second, dumped it on the man’s head. Pizza Man’s white collared shirt and dumbfounded face were immediately soaked in cola. He turned a shocked crimson. “Security!” he shrieked, spittle and cola spraying from his lips. Green Mohawk dropped the empty cup and ran through the crowd that hung back, a blur of aghast faces. As he sped across the food court, Pizza Man in tow, the boy brushed against Mai and the spell was broken. She shook herself into action, knowing that she, too, was in danger of being apprehended.

Text by Leah Sewell