The Student News Site of Fluvanna County High School

The Fluco Beat

The Student News Site of Fluvanna County High School

The Fluco Beat

The Student News Site of Fluvanna County High School

The Fluco Beat

Image courtesy of Hunter Perkins.
Hunter Perkins
Image courtesy of Hunter Perkins.

The World Pilot

Eliza sits in the back of the room, her face buried in her laptop. Everyone around her yells back and forth as if no one else was listening. Of course, it’s hard not to listen when they talk at the volume of a jet engine. On the other side of the room, a group of kids talk amongst themselves. 

“What’s that girl’s name?” one boy asks. The others turn to look at Eliza. She lifts her head up slightly to look at them. They all turn back to each other as if nothing happened. 

“I think it’s Katie,” one girl says. 

“No, Katie is in English,” the boy responds. Eliza continues her work, ignoring them. 

“I wonder how it feels to be that ignorant,” Eliza thinks to herself. Later that afternoon, Eliza walks through the woods, lost in thought concerning the kids who were talking about her. “Why would they care what my name is? They must be plotting against me.” So lost in thought, in fact, that she doesn’t notice how dark it’s getting at 4:30. She doesn’t notice that there is no longer a sky. 

While she walks through the woods, lost in her own world, the news is flooded with reporters trying to put into words what they’re seeing: another planet, possibly the size of Earth, looming several miles above the United States. Scientists try to piece together the mystery of where this planet came from and how the Earth’s gravity isn’t affected by what they are calling a “Ghost Planet.” Of course, they come up short. 

Eliza finally realizes how dark it’s gotten and decides to go home. It is at this moment that she looks up at the sky to determine what time it is that she sees the Ghost Planet. It looks much like Earth. It has lakes, rivers, and oceans. It has mountains, hills, and valleys. But it doesn’t seem to have a gravitational pull. At least not for the people of Earth. Eliza panics and dashes back to the house, hoping to find some explanation for what’s happening on the news. By the time she emerges from the woods, the Ghost Planet’s surface is only several hundred feet away. As she looks up at it in awe and fear, she notices something: a single tower has been built on the Ghost Planet in between two massive mountains. 

It appears to be constructed with stone and wood. Its design is simple, but it’s hollow in the middle. Reaching through the tower and into the ground is a mechanism. She can’t see how far into the ground it reaches, but it doesn’t concern her. At the top of the tower sits a woman with short, blonde hair and what appears to be an aviator’s uniform. The mechanism she sits on appears to be similar to a bicycle. The planet stops descending, landing the tower right in front of her. Eliza slows down, afraid of what cosmic power the woman might hold. 

“My name is Nova,” the woman yells as she stands up, coming face to face with Eliza. “You’re taking over,” Nova says as she hops down onto the Earth’s ground. 

“What?” Eliza asks. “Taking over?” Of course there are a million other questions she could ask, but considering that the two planets are seemingly about to collide, Eliza is most concerned about the fact that she’s taking something over. What if the entire world is in her hands? 

“On the top of the tower is a steering mechanism and two pedals,” Nova explains. “It’s really simple. It’s mind-numbingly simple. You shouldn’t have any trouble defeating the Great Squid.” Nova walks away and Eliza follows her. 

“I have to steer what?” Eliza panics. “What’s the Great Squid?” 

“You’ll see as soon as you back out,” Nova answers. “Now, please don’t follow me. I’ve been at this for several million years. I need a vacation and you just so happen to be fully capable of piloting.” 

“What!?” Eliza screams as Nova disappears into thin air. “Wait!” Eliza looks up at the tower, then walks toward it. She reaches up to touch it, and in that exact moment, gravity seems to reverse. Now under the Ghost Planet’s gravity, she falls onto the tower. Once she catches her breath, Eliza stands up and limps up the stairs to the mechanism at the top. She sits on it and positions herself as if she was riding a bike. Suddenly, an image appears before her like a portal. On the other side is a view of the Earth from outside the Ghost Planet’s atmosphere. She tries to reach into it, but her hand goes through it. “Oh my god — I’m piloting a planet!” 

Eliza starts to pedal backwards. The sound of gears turning booms from the tower as the Ghost Planet backs away from the Earth. As unbelievable as this all is, Eliza can’t help but smile at this amazing feat. However, it isn’t long before she starts to feel sick looking down at the Earth’s surface. What if the Ghost Planet’s gravity gives out again and she falls toward the Earth?

Then, someone appears on the Earth above her. A man is filming her. The sight of Eliza piloting the Ghost Planet is soon broadcast all around the world. Her classmates watch in awe as they wonder how Eliza of all people could be backing the Ghost Planet away from Earth. In an instant, she becomes the most famous person on the face of the Earth and she doesn’t even realize it. 

Eliza finally gets used to her distance from the Earth as it begins to look more like a large moon than her home planet. She looks around, taking in her accomplishment as a dark shape appears in the sky. She realizes in an instant what it must be: the Great Squid. Eliza looks around. Her heart sinks as she realizes that she doesn’t know how to fight it. 

The Great Squid inches closer and closer to the Earth as it appears to grow. It takes Eliza a moment to realize that it’s not actually growing. It’s expelling its ink. In only a matter of minutes, the ink will consume the Earth. 

“Nova!” Eliza calls. “What am I supposed to do?” Then she sees tiny lights sparkling around the squid like a city in the distance. Only it’s not a city. It’s the military. They’re fighting the Great Squid with everything they have. Suddenly, a deafening crack pulses through the atmosphere. Eliza looks to her right as one of the Ghost Planet’s mountains begins to come apart and reassemble into a cannon. She looks to her left to see the other mountain do the same. 

“Everything in this universe is powered by change!” Eliza hears Nova say in her head. “That’s the secret to piloting my planet! So show that squid who you want to be! Show it who you really are!” Eliza thinks about all the times she was left out in school and realizes that she misunderstood the entire situation. They did care about her. She just never believed that she could fit in, so she never tried. Fitting in was a group effort. If only it didn’t take her a trip to another world to finally realize it. The mountain cannons fire at the squid with all their might. Once the squid realizes it can’t take any more, it retreats to its home in between space and time. 

“See? I told you it was simple,” Nova says. Eliza turns to look at Nova, who is suddenly standing next to her. Eliza smiles. “Now give me the wheel. You’re going back home.” Eliza steps off the mechanism and Nova takes over. 

“I have a few more questions,” Eliza says. “Or at least the ones that matter. Why me? And who are you?” 

“I’m what’s called a world pilot. I protect worlds like yours from the Great Squid using this planet. It’s sort of a tradition. As for why I chose you, don’t think too hard about it. You just happened to be the first person I saw,” Nova says with a wink. “I really needed that vacation,” she says under her breath.

Blinding lights pour into the world around Eliza until she can’t see anything anymore. Before she knows it, she finds herself back on Earth in the same field she left. Standing above her is the boy who asked what her name was before. He helps her up. 

“My name is Eliza, by the way,” Eliza says. 

“Yeah, I know,” the boy responds with a smile. “You were on the news.” 

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