Day 8

“They won’t,” Alastair assured his sister. At least, they won’t eat the other four children. He wouldn’t let them be gulped down as plant food on his watch. His parents and the Parish’s parents trusted him to look after everyone. Alastair was the oldest by three months. He was the tallest. He was certain that he could take everyone to safety and tuck this fever dream away. “Follow me.” The boy cautiously inspected his silver watch. The hands were still frozen.

The children wandered around for exactly ten minutes. To them, the hike seemed to have stretch from Monday to Friday. They weren’t uncomfortable, no. The air was clean, warm, and cold at the same time. The sunlight, emitted from a sun not unlike our own save for the slight flicker of green flame, was tame and friendly. Besides the creepy purple fuzz vines stretched across the entirety of the prairie and the seemingly benign flowers, nothing was openly malevolent. But when one is on unfamiliar territory, every flicker of movement and every shadow could be a perceived as a threat. Being threatened is a tiring feeling.

“Let’s face it. We’re not going to a find that bush. Do you even know what type it was?” Ginger growled. Her face had paled, making the light freckles on the bridge of her nose pop out.

“It was a mulberry bush,” informed Zane. “The fruit wouldn’t start growing until next year.”

“Will we see next year?” Lila asked.

“Why are you guys so glum? Sure, this isn’t home, but aren’t you excited? This is a new place!” Gabbie hugged her sister who peeled the other girl’s hands off her waist.

“No, I am not excited. How are we getting back home? How did we get here? What the heck is going on?”

“You can’t say heck,” Lila urged.

“Well, yeah. Those are concerns, but how can we get anywhere by being negative? So we find a way home, yes. I think finding that way would feel less like we’re feeling now if we were a bit happier. Being glum just wears us out.”

“That’s a good idea,” Alastair agreed.

“Can you stop agreeing with everything she says? You have a mind of your own, you know,” yelled Ginger.

Alastair wanted to fight back. He felt his heart speed up and the sweat collecting on his palms. He wanted to yell and scream and cry because he did not know what was happening and how to help. Alastair felt better when Gabbie smiled. In fact, he felt better when everyone smiled. He wanted to smile, too. Before he could release all of his pent up emotions into what was sure to be an unpleasant upheaval, a light rustling from behind a speckled flower drew everybody’s attention. Alastair immediately used himself as a barrier between the other four children and whatever was behind the flower because he knew, he just knew that something really was there.

“Stay quiet,” whispered Alastair. He could feel the pulse at his neck jump. All of the adrenaline within his body rushed into his hands, fingers, and feet, chilling his being. The children huddled into a tight circle, waiting.

A creature stepped out.

It looked like a male, adult human. He wore a thick brown jacket over a black tunic along with tight black pants. There was what looked to be a dagger strapped on his side, and a sack slung over his back. As said before, he did indeed look human. Slightly yellow, smooth skin. Shoulder length coffee brown hair tied in a low pony tail. A long roman nose and a normal human mouth. Two hands and two arms. That was were the similarities ended.

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