Sound exploded in Elijah Wood’s otherwise silent bedroom. The sound of a runaway alarm clock. Elijah moaned pitifully and reached at the bedside table, slapping at where the alarm clock should be. The terrible sound continued unendingly, making his ears ring.
“Alright, alright!” Elijah grumbled at his alarm clock. He sat up and gave the alarm clock, leaping up and down just out of his reach, an evil glare. “Be that way,” he muttered harshly at the alarm clock, turning it off. He opened a drawer and got on some clothes. Stupid thing, he thought. Waking me up at six in the morning. On a Thursday. Why?
As he pulled on normal pants, he saw the packed suitcase in the corner of his bedroom, and it hit him. Of course! In just a few hours he would be bound for London, and the world premiere of the Fellowship of the Ring. Elijah hurriedly put on a T-shirt and gave the alarm clock an apologetic glance before sprinting out the door of the bedroom. He ran into the kitchen and checked the time. It was seven o’clock. I know Daylight Savings screwed up one of the clocks, he thought, but which? Deciding not to take a chance, he slipped on his shoes and ran to get the suitcase. Now, he thought as he went around turning off anything electric, what minor appliance do I know I’m forgetting? Unable to think of something, Elijah lugged the suitcase out the door and into his mom’s backyard. He lived in his mom’s guest house, in their back yard. Elijah opened the door and silently headed into the house. The house felt alive with a special sort of morning energy that exists only when nobody else is awake. It was tranquil, flooded with light. He scrawled a hurried note and left it on the kitchen counter: left for London. See you tomorrow. His family was taking a later plane. Holding his suitcase the whole way, he opened the door and headed for the car.
“So… what’s the deal with this contest?”
Matt was running to keep up with his best friend Anna. Their destination was her house. Anna had been obsessing over this radio contest for weeks. Matt still didn’t quite get it. When she got excited, she had a habit of starting to ramble about it faster than it was humanly possible to understand.
“I’ve told you a million times!” Anna groaned.
“Well, I wasn’t listening,” Matt shot back.
“I won’t give you back your teddy bear until you listen.”
Matt growled under his throat. “Fine,” he muttered.
“Okay,” said Anna. “They’re going to say the secret word of the day, it got announced a while ago, it’s dwimmerlaik, and when they use that word on this soap show, we have to call this number and the prize is tickets to the premiere of the Fellowship of the Ring.”
“What do you think that car wash was for?”
“Anna, we raised forty-six dollars. Maybe if we washed a million cars we could have gotten money for airfare to London.”
“Well,” said Anna as they approached her house, “we also have this.” With a mischevious glint in her eye, she drew from her pocket a single credit card. Matt gasped. “Anna, that’s not yours is it?”
“There’s no more time to talk,” said Anna, bursting into her house. “The station’s on.”
A corny tune of bagpipe music played from the radio. “Why, Harold, how could you?” came a woman’s voice. Then there was a muffled slap. Matt snorted with laughter. Then came a man’s voice. “Why, you dwimmerlaik! How could I have trusted you?”
In a flash Anna was on the phone. Her fingers flew over the buttons of the telephone. There was a pause, and the whole universe seemed to hold it’s breath, until a woman’s pleasant voice came on the line.
“Congratulations,” she intoned. “You are our tenth caller. You have won tickets to the Fellowship of the Ring.” Anna slapped Matt a high-five. They cheered, uplifted with incredible delight. Anna kept listening for the details. “Well,” said Matt, “I’ll go pack, then.”
“Flight 407 to London, now boarding,” intoned a female voice. Elijah showed the lady at the counter his passport and headed into the plane. The narrow way was stuffed with people. Elijah squeezed his way through, trying to ignore the air of whispering left in his wake. He looked for seat 317. There it was! He put his luggage in the overhead compartment and got the outermost seat out of three. He wondered who he would be sharing his seat with. Well, he thought, I hope whoever it is won’t recognize me…
Way farther back in the same line, Anna and Matt were lugging equally large suitcases of their own. Anna tried to see over the heads of people taller than them.
“If this is what it’s like when you go to college,” Matt commented, moving his rotted suitcase another inch forward, “I can wait.”
“Matt, that’s not for a year,” Anna sighed. “And plus you can go to UC LA or something and you don’t have to move.”
“No way!” said Matt. “I want to go to Humboldt at the closest. UC LA is undoubtedly the dullest college in the world!” Anna muttered something under her breath. “What?” Derek asked suspiciously. “Never mind,” Anna said quickly. Matt growled under his breath, but there was no time to return with an inappropriate retort that would make her go eewwww!, as they were at the front of the line.
“Can I see your tickets?” the lady asked. Anna showed her their tickets. “Seat 317,” she said. “You’ll be sharing the seat with a nice young gentleman by the name of Wood, I think.”
“Where does that sound familiar?” Anna was muttering as they walked down the lane and into the bulk of the airplane.
“Don’t you remember?” Matt exclaimed. “In fifth grade! Bob Wood was that guy who always stuck bubble gum under his desk!”
“No, Matt, that was the brand of bubble gum,” sighed Anna. “His name was Bob Smith.”
“Was not!” said Matt. “You’re mixing it up with dogwood, that’s what the desks were made out of and the teacher got all mad – ” but when they reached seat 317, it was quite obvious why the name of Wood sounded familiar. Matt dropped his suitcase. It took him a moment to hold his insides in. Luckily, Elijah was reading a magazine and didn’t see their outburst. They put their suitcases in the compartment, except for a shared backpack loaded with airplane necessities. They squeezed past, Anna snagging the window seat, and eyed Elijah nervously. He looked up from the magazine. “Hello,” he said.
“Hi,” said Anna, nervously.
“Howdy,” said Matt weakly.
Elijah looked at them. Uh-oh. Lord of the Rings fans. Anna was wearing a Tolkien Online T-shirt. Elijah prayed they wouldn’t be all over him during the whole plane ride.
“So… you headed for the premiere?” asked Matt.
“Oh… yeah,” said Elijah. “You?”
“Same,” Matt verified. “We won a radio station contest for tickets.”
“Ah,” said Elijah. “Cool.” A very awkward silence followed. Then he said, “Can’t wait to see the movie.”
“You probably know all about it though,” Matt said. “Being, well, you know.”
“Well… I don’t know anything about the effects, or the music,” said Elijah. “I hope it’s good.”
“It probably will be,” said Matt. “You really can’t go wrong with so good a book.”
“I guess not, huh?” said Elijah. But at that moment the safety video started and their conversation was broken.
It was seven hours later that found the three of them in the middle of placid activities. Anna was watching the movie, and Derek was fast asleep. Elijah was reading an enormous newspaper, partly to look for anything about the premiere and partly to hide himself, seeing as the movie was Flipper. He turned the page. These two kids were nice, he thought. Better than most Lord of the Rings fans that I could have sat next to. He found it hard to concentrate on the book. Sighing, he stood up and headed for the restroom. It was open. Elijah walked in and locked the door. He finished with his business and was about to head out when something sparkling caught his eye. It was a shimmering silver pendant, wedged in the wall. He reached for it and held it in his hand. It glittered enticingly, a tiny diamond set on a silver chain. Looking closer, he saw that there were words engraved in it. He leaned down to read them.
Suddenly, the plane gave a violent lurch. Elijah cried out as he was thrown forward. Colors flashed before his eyes, and the world spun. Then the world again was still.
He was not alone in the bathroom.
Elijah slowly turned, horror-stricken. The creature next to him only came up to his chest or so. It looked quite a bit like him, except that it had curly hair darker than his own and was garbed in medieval clothing.
“Hello!” the creature said perkily. “How are you, good sir?”
“Um… who are you?” asked Elijah. He had a funny thought that he already knew the answer, but it couldn’t be. It just couldn’t.
“I’m Frodo, Son of Drogo,” the hobbit said. “Do you know how I got here? One moment I was in Moria, and the next…”
“It’s impossible,” whispered Elijah. He stared with wonder at the pendant in his hand.
“What’s impossible?” asked Frodo.
“That you’re here! That you exist!”
“What?” asked Frodo. “Where am I, anyway?”
At that moment there came a knock at the door. It was the flight attendant. “We’re landing soon,” he said. “Hurry, please.”
Elijah grabbed Frodo’s hand. “Come on,” he said. “We’re going to get to the bottom of this.”
Author’s Note: Maybe I wasn’t totally realistic (the premiere of FOTR was on a Wednesday) but… Oh well! And I know the main plot hasn’t started, but I’m used to big setups so you’re lucky I jumped Frodo to the plane so early. Anyway, comment! (No, really, do.)