Day 12

“A Rift?” Gabbie repeated as if saying the word again would make some sort of sense. The children exchanged looks of concern but kept their mouths shut.

“Although, you could easily fool anyone with those round ears of yours,” Tipper acknowledged. He in turn felt his own ears. Alastair failed to realize before that there was another point to the list of inhuman qualities about their guide. Fox feet, slit pupils of pure gold, a tail, and two, furry pointed ears tipped black. Alastair already knew that Tipper could not possibly be human, and yet he spoke and acted like one. He seemed to have feelings, aspirations, and maybe a little fear. All human feelings. All that did not coincide with Tipper’s exterior. Paired with these alien surroundings, Alastair couldn’t help but let the truth sink in.

Gabbie, Ginger, Zane, Lila, and himself were not on Earth.

Soon, the company passed an outcropping of trees. Ginger secretly felt relieved to lay her yes on something familiar. The trees were brown in the bark, long, and were created with brilliant green leaves. Just like any normal tree should be. Unfortunately, the further they walked, the more those trees changed, morphing into something that Ginger could no longer feel comfort in.

The prairie was now behind them. The company had entered into a thick forest unlike those they have seen before. There were no oaks or aspens or maples tall and proud with a layer of age. No. These trees were completely different. The trunks were massive in width. Zane estimated that at least one or two school buses could fit in between them. He then observed the knots and cracks within the wooden majesties and concluded that ten or eleven of those very same buses could be stacked one on top of another to reach the very height of the beastly trees. Gabbie bit her lip to keep from exclaiming in excitement, believing that within each tree there could be a sleeping giant.

Lila stepped on a crunchy leaf as large as her, and she almost squealed. The girl grabbed Alastair’s hand. Each child saw something different that caught their eye. Ginger spied red and blue moss clinging in clumps along the huge trees and the tiny sprouts below. Lila noticed a few insects she had no name for as they scuttled with bulbous green abdomens and wriggling feet along the forest floor. Zane suppressed the urge to sketch the vines spiraling down in braids from the branches oh so far above them. Alastair watched as Perceval adeptly navigated the pathway as if he could expertly cleave a direction with his four eyes closed.

Gabbie was fixated on the single flame Tipper held within his rough palm. Unlike a normal flame, this one gave off as much as ten lightbulbs of light without the heat. The children would have never noticed that the forest they walked in would have been pitch black without Tipper’s help. Gabbie grinned like a loon.

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