Day 86

Alastair found the concept of night so different from that on Earth. The moons and stars never left the sky all day, and neither did the sun. Mountain sized clouds would encase the sky in darkness every twelve or thirteen hours the children took for nighttime. He wondered if they had been magically plopped onto a planet that existed in an entirely different universe than the Milky Way solar system. That had to be it or else NASA would have published papers and interviews about the possibility of a planet similar to Earth so close by. They would have, right? Or would they keep such a possibility secret? But then there was the popular idea of parallel universes. Could the children have fallen into a universe where there were three moons and a yellow green sun? The plants, animals, and people could have all evolved into what they had to in order to survive in these odd conditions. How would he account for the magic, though? Was there really a way to explain the goings on in Soielle, or was he trying to make sense of something that never would make sense?

The dense forest here were familiar. The trees smelled like evergreens, and he was reminded of Christmas with his family. He thought about his dad’s famous roasted honey am dribbled with savory sauces and paired with cheesy mashed potatoes. He thought of his mother recording her children as they opened five presents each.

“What day is it?” His mother would ask in her biologist’s tone requesting basic details.

“It’s Christmas!” Alastair would cheer back with Lila quietly chiming in.

“How old is Alastair? Lila?”

“I’m twelve!” Alastair could almost see himself dressed in warm pajamas underneath the blinking white and blue bulbs wrapped in a glistening Christmas tree.

“Nine,” Lila replied dryly. Alastair recalled feeling exhausted hearing Lila put out. She really missed her friends, and that last Christmas hit her hard.

“And how much do we love you?” His mother and father both asked with bright white smiles.

“To the moon and through lagoons!” Alastair and Lila both laughed. Lila couldn’t resist their ritual with their parents.

Now Alastair was camping in the middle of an alien forest. He was conflicted. Alastair had to get his little sister and friends back home. All this time, he thought that Queen Inana would be the one to do just that. What Tipper said was eating away at him. Why should Queen Inana believe humans? Even if she could help, why would she go out of her way to do so? If they didn’t meet the Queen, then what else was left for them to do? Alastair watched the fire Tipper made crackling away as the others slept. A black fire, of course. It was amazing how fast one can get used to oddities.

“We have to get to Queen Inana,” Gabbie said as if she’d been reading Alastair’s thoughts. He jumped a little and sat up from his sleeping spot. “She can at the very least tell us how to use our powers.”

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