Chapter Description: Emily becomes an icon, not for the reasons she ever imagined.
The alarm went off at 6:30am sharp. It was still a weekday but Robert had taken the rest of the week off, for obvious reasons. The school district was also closed, for similarly obvious reasons. Sarah felt like shit. Rolling around all night contemplating her daughter’s future, as well as her family as a whole. No matter how bad she felt, she still managed to gather the strength to rise from her bed.
She approached the window, and peeked out one of the blinds. She saw two media people with cameras waiting outside and conversing with each other. She figured they must have been spread out between the houses of all 30 victims. Sarah still wasn’t necessarily sure what Emily was the victim of, but she was certainly a victim none the less. She dodged the various baby paraphernalia scattered across the bedroom floor on her way to the bathroom, to get ready for the day.
As she exited the shower, she heard Robert stub his toe on the collapsible playpen, and shout a little, more in surprise than pain. Sarah laughed for the first time in what felt like an eternity to her. She certainly couldn’t fault him for being surprised by it, being a new addition to the room.
While she was finishing drying off, her phone rang. It was the hospital, letting her know that the DNA test was a match, this infant certainly was their daughter Emily. Sarah thanked her.
The nurse give Sarah a few more instructions and advice.“You can come pick her up at your earliest possible convenience, preferably as soon as possible. The babies are drawing a lot of international attention as a medical anomaly or breakthrough, and we are extremely busy here.”
Sarah asked for a little more elaboration, hearing a lot of phone ringing and people talking in the background.
The nurse was clearly short on time, “Every news outlet you’ve ever heard of, and almost all the ones you haven’t, are reporting live.” With that they ended the call.
Walking back into the room she could see that CNN was on, with a reporter live from just outside St. James hospital. “Mysterious Force Reverts Teenagers and Adults into Babies” was the headline on the screen. As her husband was getting ready she scrolled through the channels. ABC, reporting live from the hospital, with a similar headline. She continued, CBS, NBC, FOX, BBC World News, Al-Jazeera, Fox News, CNBC, MSNBC, if they had a reporter they were there. Showing pictures of the victims before the event yesterday, and speculating further on the victims themselves and what this apparent breakthrough could mean for healthcare, science, philosophy, sociology, etc.
Sarah had seen enough and turned off the T.V.
They were ready to head to the hospital now, and officially re-welcome their bundle of joy. They told Mason to stay at home, anticipating the media frenzy and not wishing to expose him to that. They made sure to grab the infant car seat, to carry her out in, as well as the pacifiers, just in case Emily felt overwhelmed by the media presence.
With that they loaded the car seat that also functioned as a carrier into the car, and tossed the package of pacifiers back there as well. They loaded all this into their SUV before opening the garage door, to stop the few prying eyes outside from getting any compromising pictures that might feel invasive in the future.
As they made their way to the hospital, mostly appreciating the silence that would soon be broken either by media or a wailing baby, they noticed that the streets were much busier than they would be on a normal morning. They could figure out why that was pretty easily.
Security out front of the hospital was only allowing authorized individuals beyond the gates, but unfortunately for the families, media were authorized to be within the gates, but remain outside the building. It seems like the hospital couldn’t resist the free marketing as being the most cutting edge medical facility, even though everyone knew the hospital had nothing to do with what had happened to the people inside the school.
As they pulled in, it was like Sarah had been transported even further back in time than she already seemed. The flashing lights strobing throughout the car, like the concerts she’d go to in college. They definitely got a clear shot of the car seat and pacifiers, as well as her and her husband.
As they pulled in front of the hospital, and got out of their car, they could feel the TV cameras fixate on them, as well as the non-stop camera flashes continuing. As they retrieved the carrier from the back, the camera’s once again sped up, which seemed impossible. Their car would be kept out front for their convenience, it seemed.
They entered the hospital, and things seemed comparatively calm. Which is to say, the hospital was complete pandemonium, while still being more relaxing than the entrance. They were immediately recognized by someone in the hospital who quickly led them to the wing with the infants.
Sarah assumed based on how fast they were noticed by hospital staff, that the media probably also knew who they were as well. They were greeted by a veritable army of staff, certainly more than this number of children would normally call for. Their identity was verified and before Emily was turned over to them they needed to receive a briefing on the procedures and rules that had been drawn up overnight by the government.
It seemed like they were the first ones to arrive this morning, with all the nurses, doctors, police, and officials being jittery from nerves or excitement about what was to come.
They were pulled aside into the room, and given guidance by someone who seemed to be professional, compared to the circus going on all around them.
The man explained multiple bureaucratic aspects about their daughter’s new life. A new birth certificate would be created, with all the same information except date of birth. Her new date of birth would be 4 months prior to the current date, as that was as close as any medical professional on site could estimate her age to be. Similar case with her passport, reissued with a date of birth adjusted to fit her new age. Her driver’s license would be revoked, since she now lake the physical or mental capability to operate a vehicle. Sarah asked if they could tell if any of her mental capacity had survived the age change.
“We gave a representative sample of these infants MRI scans, and did not see any brain function beyond that which would be seen in a normal child of their age.” He stated plainly and authoritatively.
“Are you sure there’s nothing left?” Robert asked.
“At this stage we can’t be 100% sure of anything, but we think it’s almost certain the reduction of their brain mass did not allow for any previously formed memories to remain, beyond their basic human instincts.” Sarah expected this, she doesn’t think anyone remembered anything from when they were 4 months old, she certainly didn’t. But it still didn’t sit right with her.
The victim’s cars were towed from the school parking lot, and are going to be returned to you at no extra charge. The man continued his housekeeping.
“The government is also requiring you to bring your daughter in for scientific observation, and child therapy, on a monthly basis for here on out.” This was a little it of a shock, but it made sense she thought. Her and Robert held hands tightly to show each other strength.
“As far as our current understanding of the situation goes, we believe that a disgruntled classmate of your daughter had pioneered and built a device that would emit a beam of concentrated light that would use an as of now unknown method, to make every cell in the person’s body rewind at an intensely sped up factor.” This was considerably more shocking to both of them. A student at the high school had managed a world changing invention, and resolved to use it for something as trivial as getting even with someone.
“We believe that this device had malfunctioned for some reason, which we are still investigating, and turned everyone in the health class into babies. Since this is still an open investigation, we have yet to announce our suspect, but in the coming weeks you will be among the first to know, and as things develop, we’ll inform you as well.” This didn’t come as a tremendous relief to either one of them, but at least they were no longer completely in the dark as they were before.
As he was talking she couldn’t help but let her eyes occasionally drift toward the carrier on the ground. She was too old to have a baby this young, her body knew as much. She couldn’t help but be transfixed on the infantile nature of this object that was going to restrain her daughter that this time yesterday, was tall, athletic, smart, and independent. And yet, there it was.
With that he allowed them to go and retrieve their little one.
As they walked into the lobby they heard a TV distantly.
“The two parents of Emily Anderson have entered the hospital.” The host said in a low but clearly excited tone, flashing up her yearbook picture from last year. “We assume that when they exit, it will be with her, and we will get a peek at the future of humanity, in several ways.” This made Sarah want to be sick. Her daughter was now the center of a seminal news story, maybe one of the biggest discoveries in human history. She feared that Emily would never escape it.
For the sake of the other children, who were all still present in their bassinets, the nurse took the carrier in to get Emily. As this was happening, Sarah was inspecting the other children, some hints of faces that she recognized among them, but largely too infantile to pick anyone out. Then she saw the baby immediately to the left of Emily’s bassinet. Number 27, was Kaitlynn as clear as day, Sarah pointed out to Robert.
“So it is.” He responded. At least she had a sure fire playmate to grow up with. As Emily was being lifted into the carrier, Sarah’s mind again drifted to Emily and Kaitlynn’s friends. She pondered what would happen with those relationships for a moment, before then also realizing that she had all the time in the world to think about that.
The only clothing Emily was provided was the diaper the hospital had gave her, as well as the blanket. Clad in nothing but her thick white undergarment, with some sort of colorful print that couldn’t be made out from this distance, Emily was lifted from he plastic prison, and stepped into the carrier. The nurse had signaled to another on staff that the baby next to her, Kaitlynn had needed a change, and as she was getting changed the nurse came out of the room with their returning daughter, coming back in about as different of a state as possible.
They crouched down and used one of the first things they learned about her personality 18 years ago, and booped her on the nose. She immediately let out an infantile squeal that showed her previous life had not changed her all that much. They carefully took her large plastic transportation, and began to gently move her towards the exit of the hospital.
The public at large was definitely more interested in her this time than last time, they certainly wouldn’t have to announce it in the paper this time Sarah jokingly suggested to Robert.
“I don’t even think papers still do that!” He replied.
They were moving toward the exit and knew that all eyes even inside the hospital were focused on the inside of that carrier. They heard some people who clearly couldn’t believe it mumble to their coworkers. All an outsider would see was a big eyed, blonde, diapered, baby being carried through a hospital, which certainly wasn’t a shock.
When the exited the automatic doors to the outside, it was like the Beatles had just landed. Even though she was facing the opposite direction in her carrier, the camera’s still wanted to capture whatever they could. As she was rotated to be loaded into the back seat, with her mother, the camera’s and paparazzi behind the car got a quick glimpse, as the once future valedictorian began to well up and burst into tears as a result of the commotion.
As Sarah got into the backseat of the car and made sure the carrier was strapped in correctly, she also opened the package of pacifiers, hoping to calm her daughter down. Emily gladly took it and began sucking it, slowly calming down.
Robert began to drive off, and the media got their second photoshoot, of Sarah attempting to appease the pacified infant in the back of the car, still only wearing the diaper, with a Elmo appearing to try and cheer her up, printed on the front.
Almost immediately these images were transported to every single TV in the world, and was the discussion of the world online. People tagging Emily’s now unneeded twitter account. Number 1 post on Reddit. Reblogged on Tumblr. Liked on Facebook.
Emily had become the literal poster child for the largest leap humanity has even taken.
Stories of Age/Time Transformation