1. Where Are We?

The first thing I saw was the sky. I closed my eyes again. I remembered coming home after another crappy day at work, heating a frozen lasagne in the microwave—it tasted like cardboard—and falling into bed. I should be looking at the ceiling of my bedroom, not a clear blue sky. Not unless a storm had ripped the roof off my building.

My fingers dug into earth and grass scratched at my neck and bare legs. The drone of an insect buzzed past, followed by a distant roar that King Kong would have been proud of.

I sat bolt upright and looked around. Trees surrounded a grassy clearing full of wildflowers. I was in the tee shirt and boxers I had gone to bed in, but there was no bed and my bedroom had a totally different decor.

Something howled from the opposite direction to the roar. The thing that howled sounded closer than the thing that roared. I didn’t fancy meeting either.

As I looked around I noticed other heads popping up in the long grass. I got to my feet and saw about a dozen or so other people sitting up and looking confused. They all appeared to be about my age and, like me, dressed for bed. About half were girls.

As people started to get to their feet I realised there were even more than my original estimation. Maybe twenty. They started asking each other questions.

“What’s going on?”

“Did anyone else hear that?”

“Where is this?”

“Does anybody know what happened?”

“How did we get here?”

Lots of questions. No answers.

Something buzzed at my ear and I turned sharply to avoid being stung. The thing I reacted to hovered level with my face. It resembled a dragonfly in size, and in every other respect a tiny person with wings. It hissed and bared its fangs at me, before zipping off at speed.

My legs folded under me and I fell on all fours. My breathing turned to high pitched wheezing until it ceased altogether. I rolled onto my back and opened and closed my mouth but air refused to enter.

A face appeared above me. My eyes had watered up, blurring everything. The face belonged to a girl with long, dark hair but the only other feature I could make out was her freckled nose.

“Hey. Are you okay? Take a breath.”

If I could take a breath I would, I wanted to say. But you need air to make words, and I didn’t have any.

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