Chapter Twenty-Six

Valenteen woke up, feeling pleasantly warm. The sun was shining; the birds were singing: it was stereotypical happy woodland from one of those Disney fairy tales where animals can actually smile! So, to keep in the same mood as this happy place, she smiled, and looked at her surroundings.

She was leaning against a metal rail fence, painted black that encircled a pond. The rest of the wood she was in had green grass, tall trees with happy squirrels chasing each other…and large scaffolding at one side of the woodland that was fenced off. But the weirdest thing about this place she could make out was her clothes. She was wearing a long, floor-length dress with layers of tulle that went down in different shades of pale orange to dark red…and her hair was blonde. Blonde and elegantly coiffured to have soft, short waves brushing her cheeks, with the rest floating down her back. How did this happen? For starters, people don't normally a) walk through fire unharmed, b) walk through fire to a different land, c) find that everyone in that land is happy, d) find that mysteriously, by walking through fire, that their hair changes colour, and their clothes change. Not normal whatsoever.

She stiffened suddenly. A man was striding through the trees, which looked exactly like a cowboy from a Western film. He even had a gun stuck in his belt. What use were pretty dresses against guns? Valenteen ducked behind the fence, pulling the tulle out of sight, hoping he hadn't already seen her. He looked around, sniffed, and strode back the way he had come, towards the scaffolding.

I've got to get out of here now, thought Valenteen. He might come back, and there might be more of him- all with guns. Without pausing, she pulled herself upright and flew into the air, circling over the trees. She flew up and up…and then CRASH! There was a barrier between her and getting away. How could this be? It was sky- there are no boundaries. She tried again. CRASH! Valenteen's arms flailed, and she sunk down to the ground, the layers of tulle puffing around her like her own mini parachute, slowing her fall. She landed on the ground. Well, there is obviously no escape route there. Then she noticed something she hadn't seen before. Valenteen walked forward cautiously, approaching the black, crawl-size tunnel she could see hidden in a bush. Through it, there were waves of heat coming up, and she could tell that that was obviously the way back. But why go back? If she went back, they might do all sorts of horrible things to her. But then why stay? The man with guns might come back. Which was safer? She sat down and pondered.

BANG! BANG, BANG, BANG! Ten people came out of the scaffolding area and began looking around the forest, digging holes, shaking trees, and shooting any animals they saw. Those that caught some ran back to the scaffolding, where the smoke of a fire could be detected. The pungent scent of cooking meat filled the air, a scent that seemed abhorrent, now Valenteen was watching the slaughter of animals before her eyes.

One man came up to her.

"Alright, sweetheart?" he asked casually. "Nice girl like you should go and find somewhere you can't see all this: it's not pretty, but it's necessary; it's the only way to get food."

Valenteen shook her head. She would not run. She would stay and try best as she could to stay vegetarian, and protect and fight for the bunny rabbits these men were murdering.