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WELCOME TO STRANGELY (THE OTHERWORLD #13)

 

WHEN TIME STOOD STILL

“We need to go soon, by the time we get there, everyone will be getting ready to leave.”

“Zara, we can't just go to a party, not after everything we’ve just learned about ourselves,” Emily says as she laces up her boots.

“Watch me. Zara’s party tips: Meet, greet and have fun.”

“I'm sorry, but some of us have a job to do, not to mention trying to make sense of the last few days.”

“And some of us have fun,” Zara quips.

“And some of us are having a really bad hair day,” Jenny complains as she walks into the room.

“You know, that’s a sign,” Emily says, giving Jenny a quick glance. “Jenny wouldn’t want Jason to see her on a bad hair day, not now that he seems to only have eyes for her. Let's just stay in for the night.”

Looking at Jenny, Zara says, “Jenny, you look beautiful, as always.” Turning back to face Emily, she argues, “Emily, we can’t just hide in the crooked little house every night, afraid that demons might find us. We must get out there, mingle with the other people who inhabit Strangely. Hey, I have an idea...”

“Hey, I have an even better idea: Why don't you just get a job,” Emily interrupts her, with a hint of sarcasm in her tone of voice.

“I’ll pull my hoodie over my head, and then no-one will be able to see my hair. Zara’s right, Emily, we cannot be cooped up here all night, and work all day. You know the saying…” Jenny muses, keen to dissolve the tension building between the two of them. Truth be told, she would be pleased to be out of the house socialising and seeing Jason again wouldn’t be such a bad thing, bad hair or not.

Zara laughs amused. “All work and no play make Emily a...”

“Fine,” Emily huffs as she stands up, deliberately interrupting Zara and depriving her of the last word.

When they walk out through the crooked door, the night sky above their heads is bright with stars and the moonlight glimmers on the clouds surrounding their island of green grass and little quaint houses. There are only two structures higher than two floors; the Town Hall, with its spire which reaches high up into the sky, the top disappearing in between the stars, and the Gathering Room.

The Gathering Room is not really a room because it does not have four walls. It is a gazebo-like structure, built on top of a large redbrick, A-shaped tower. The steps to the top twirl around the outside of the building. If the tower did have a door to allow anyone into its interior, it must be hidden like the little door in the library, or rather, what Jason likes to refer to as his office.

Zara, Emily, and Jenny walk down the slight hill from their crooked house to the centre of town. At the tower, they start climbing the stairs up to the top. The stairway is narrow and is only wide enough for one person at a time. Zara takes the first step, with Emily behind her, followed lastly by Jenny.

Jenny can hear Zara count the steps, “One, two, three...” until her voice fades away as Jenny’s mind starts to wander, her thoughts becoming more vivid and intruding on her consciousness. It’s been a full day since she met with Agatha in her office, but she has not seen her again, so there has been no news about the prophecy or Chris’ explanation of why he sent the Book of Eudemon to Abby. Most importantly, though, she has yet to receive any answers to her questions about this place called, New York.

When people appear in Strangely, nobody quite knows where they come from, but it is as if they have always been here. Nobody remembers a second of where they were, who they were or what they were before their arrival; it is as if that life is deleted, replaced with a new version, the version they are living now. There are those brief moments of confusion in the beginning, but then it is as if they have always been here, always known everyone who lives in Strangely. Know their habits, their voices, their names, as if they have always lived together.

Zara says, out of breath, “One hundred! Now the party can begin.”

“Hey, Emily, I'm glad you decided to come,” Kevin calls, as he walks closer to them.

“Wouldn't miss it for the world, Kevin,” Emily says, with a fake smile.

“That’s a strange thing to say.” He looks down at her with a frown.

Emily laughs nervously. “I don’t know where that came from.”

“Are you coming with me? Everyone we know is over there.” Zara asks.


READ WELCOME TO STRANGELY (THE OTHERWORLD #14)


Rosaline Saul writes uplifting and wholesome fantasy fiction for young adults and adults young at heart. She is the bestselling author of Timeless (ForNever #1), and the author of dark and gloomy urban fantasy fiction. She made stories up in her head long, long before she could write. Now a full-time author, Rosaline and her family call Northern Ireland home. Visit Rosaline online at https://www.rosalinesaul.com


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