Except when they tenderly placed their feet into the bush, the vegetation immediately disappeared. Just like that. One minute, the children were plagued by scratchy leaves, and the next, they were grouped together with Gabbie, Ginger, and Zane. The other three were just as nonplused as the siblings.
Alastair made as if to take a few steps back and only got as far as to notice that not only did the bush vanish, but so did the mass of ancient trees, no, the whole of the forest. Lila held onto his hand. He didn’t know why, though, He was shaking just as much as her. The Parish children clung to one another as well, huddling into a protective cocoon.
“What’s happening, Alastair?” Lila chirped from his side. “Where did the forest go?”
“I…I don’t know.”
The five children were in an open, flat field. There was no sign of the mountains they lived next to, or the forest that covered their valley. This field was filled with prairie flowers and grass that was unfamiliar and foreign. Wild, red and yellow striped stalks of vegetation clumped about tiny buds of sharp purple flowers. Massive, orange and navy speckled flowers with meaty petal splayed open clung to the off brown mud and dirt below. These flowers were bigger than even Alastair.
The children didn’t know what type of scent the flowers emitted for they had no word for the exact smell. They best they could come up with was clove mixed with honeyed lemon. Not an unpleasant smell, just odd. Another oddity was the sky. They wanted to say that it was blue, like it should be, but even the sky was off. Blue wasn’t the word for how clear, how pearlescent the hue of the atmosphere represented itself.
“How do you describe a color you’ve never seen?” Zane wondered out loud, his face openly agape. “Do you all see what I’m seeing? Is this even real?”
“This better not be real. I’m going to hurl!” Ginger slapped her forehead. She really did look like she was going to be sick.
“Are you kidding? This. Is. Awesome!” Gabbie cheered. She twirled around in a circle, chuckling as she did so. Alastair, who had been dumbstruck up to this point, gathered his wits, partially drawing his energy from Gabbie’s happy demeanor.
“Okay. I’m not sure what’s going on, but there has to be a logical explanation,” he said.
“Logical? Does this look logical to you?” Zane pointed at a webwork of hairy, purple vines cris crossed underneath their feet. Alastair had not previously been aware of the network under his shoes and inwardly cringed. What in the world was this place? “The vines have hair. That’s not normal.” Zane pointed to the orange and navy speckled flowers, “that’s not normal.” He waved his hands to indicate looking up. “And, three moons? Yeah. Not normal.”
“What? Three?” Lila glared up at the sky as if to dare it to show her otherwise. Sure enough, there were the three moons. One frosty blue, the largest of the three, and around its orbit two others the creamy color of pearls. “That’s not right.”
“This is just a joke. You’ve seen silly stuff on the internet like this,” Alastair continued. “Like when someone walks into an outhouse, a crew sets up something outside to look like the jokee had walked into a CEO meeting. That’s what happened here.”
“I want to believe you, but I can smell everything here. And the air is all hot but cold at the same time. I don’t think a film crew can do that.” Ginger rubbed her arms.
“Fine. Let’s say that this is real. Sure. Then all we have to do is find the bush that took us here.”
“News flash,” Zane said, “What bush?”
“Maybe it’s not here. We’re going to have to walk around to find it.”
“Those plants won’t eat us, right?” Lila whispered.