Eight year old Larry woke up before his little brother and immediately ran to the window of the rented room they shared with two cousins. He was in his pajamas.
Yes! The beach was right there across the street. They had gotten in too late last night to really see it in the dark. The nice coral sand, palm trees and endless blue water filled the view outside in the early morning light of a beautiful daybreak.
All they had done the previous evening was meet and greet with the other family members, going around the corner to a pizza place that was one of the few places still open.
Everyone had made it and their presence had provided a nice boost for a small joint that served the tourist trade, who did not keep normal hours. Pop’s brother and sister, with their families, were all checked in to the Holiday Inn, right on Las Olas and A1A. Larry’s paternal grandparents had retired here, now living in Hollywood, just down the road.
After breakfast in the hotel restaurant, the first order of business was naturally a swim in the ocean. The mid-February weather was a bit cool by local standards and so was the water, but it beat the hell out of Columbus, Ohio. By prior agreement, everyone went, since this WAS a family reunion and why they had picked South Florida. Larry’s parents were both well paid academics at the university and had taken off right after class to fly down for the weekend. They would be back at school Monday morning, flying out Sunday evening. While Spring Break was not until March, they planned it this way to beat the rush. The hotel was already booked solid that entire month. During the off week, both would just relax, quality time with the boys after school.
Next year would be for the wife’s family. While they were relatively well to-do, once a year fit into the budget and sensibilities just fine, thank you. The elder in-laws were always in the mix, some of them present.
After the dip, if by dip you meant the kids stayed in the surf until they turned blue, teeth chattering, and had to be pried out while the adults mostly talked, the clan went separate ways. While there were no real amusement parks at hand, there were airboat rides in the Everglades, the Jungle Queen, Ocean World and Hugh Taylor Birch State Park just up the street had canoe rentals and a miniature train, among other things, just for starters. Not to mention the Elbo Room just across Las Olas, which a couple of uncles had closed the night before. Pre-planning managed to get most of these in over the two days.
It was a wonderful day for Larry and he went to bed after an evening supper cruise on a riverboat with a full belly and a smile on his face. A great memory for a lifetime.
He would not wake up the next morning in a hotel.
Just before midnight, a 65 year old Lawrence Carnegie (very, very distant relation) would be rousted out of a psychic immersion chamber none the worse for wear, having had a unique experience that could never, ever, be repeated or duplicated.
There were two reasons for the one off nature here. The obvious one was that there was a waiting list thousands of miles long despite this only being offered late in life. The second was that it was controlled by aliens. Do it their way or go to Burger King.
The Qorren insisted that only one treatment was safe. Since they were the only ones in the galaxy who did this (their claim), it was a take it or leave it deal. Only one person had been harmed, but insurance paid for by a not exorbitant maintenance fee had compensated her family for Granma’s sudden senility. The guarantor’s claim of a prior early onset dementia diagnosis lessened the payout, along with the threat of dragging the case out in appeals because of the dispute. The resultant requirement to pass Wunderlich and I.Q. tests only shortened the wait list by a few miles.
This actually bolstered the suspicion among some skeptics that the Qorren were just doing this to study Mankind, which was kind of obvious. The more samples the better, the more experience the better. Hey, NOW they get to run tests. Hmmm…
On the other hand, it was SUCH a neat idea (and experience) that no one was going to say no. The fact that THEY picked the memory (you had no say) and it always was such a sweet one argued for gentle purposes, assuming they had intentions. Plus the idea of probing for the dominant species’ (supposedly humans, in case you forgot) weaknesses was laughable at best. In three generations of the Space Age, the most magnificent accomplishment we had was the International Space Station, which HAD been slowly spiraling back down to Earth before the aliens arrived. OF COURSE they were studying us. Reverse the scenarios, same thing only different. If they were anywhere near as smart as they claimed, they already knew not to trust the Russians, but that’s just too evident.
Larry’s one regret was that most of the people in his backtrack were gone. Still, it was nice seeing them again, even if his current form was just an observer, seeing through a boy’s eyes. It wasn’t time travel and it was more than a TV show, but EXACTLY what it was. . . well, as far as he remembered it had happened that way. He would redo the Sunday in a heartbeat and say thank you.
Despite living quite a few more healthy years, as most participants did, he would never get the chance.
Just what the aliens’ ultimate goal was would remain unclear for some time. A period in which remarkable progress was made.
There were those who argued that we were ALREADY making remarkable progress. Voyager had alerted the Qorren to Earth’s presence. Just what it was meant to do.
Others insisted that until there were tourists visiting Voyager, pipe down.
Maybe that was the aliens’ intent. They probably didn’t need eight billion maniacs armed to the teeth or they would have said so.
At least one could hope.
Why not look at the bright side?
Note that doesn’t need to be included, but is at least real: The Holiday Inn and Ocean World are long gone. Several venues still offer airboat rides and there are several riverboat cruises in operation, evening supper options available, paddling through Lauderdale canals, of which there are many. The Elbo Room is still there, basically unchanged after all these years, and Birch Park still offers canoe rentals. The miniature train is long gone and I would go on it in a heartbeat. Several amusement ventures have come and gone, not the least of which are Pirates World in Dania, just to the south, a western theme park way out west in Davie and a water park a few miles to the south right on I-95, none of which existed until later. The highway was still State Road 9 back then. Miami Seaquarium on Key Biscayne still exists. The site of what is now Zoo Miami, which has a train outside its gates, was Richmond Heights Naval Air Station back then, where blimps that searched for Nazi submarines flew from (the small zoo moved to this bigger and better spot) and is highly recommended. Just don’t think you’re going to visit all the exhibits and all the shows in one day, even using the monorail. South Florida doesn’t have a lot of history, but what it does have is kinda neat.
And yes, I would love to do this. I just hope that my dayover is not Army KP.