The first thing Lachlan did when he felt his body reform into a solid shape was examine his hands to make sure they were still intact.
Yep, they were both still there. He flexed his fingers a few times, then looked at his feet. Feet and legs were less important because he didn’t need them to play guitar, but he still wanted to keep them if he could help it.
When he was satisfied that he still had all his limbs, he pushed himself into a seated position and turned his attention to his surroundings.
He sat on a smooth, large tile. It felt like stone, but it looked like glass that had been colored a deep, vivid red. Other tiles surrounded it in other vivid hues–greens, blues, purples, and turquoises–all kaleidoscoping away from a massive sandstone fountain. They were in a garden, but it wasn’t like any garden he’d ever seen in person or even in photographs. The colors were too bright, as though they were appearing on a screen where the saturation had been set too high, and none of the plants looked familiar.
Even the sky was too bright, an expanse of blue neon blaring above them. Despite the unnaturally bright sky, the air was warm, heavy, and humid in a way that felt like a summer evening.
A strange, earthy-sweet and slightly smoky smell hung in the air, maybe coming from one of the many intensely-hued flowers surrounding them.
He knew right away he wasn’t anywhere on earth.
Most of the rest of the group sat on the colorful tiles, but Mrs. Sharma and Nancy had ended up on the ground, Angelina had fallen into a large plant with long red and yellow leaves, and Jen was in the fountain, her hands resting on the side as she leaned over toward the rest of the group.
“Not that this isn’t immensely preferable,” said Lachlan, “but where the motherfuck are we?”
Mrs. Sharma climbed to her feet and wheeled on Angelina, arms crossed.
“Yes, where are we exactly?” she said.
Angelina rustled around in the leaves trying to pull herself to her feet, but only succeeding in pushing herself further back into the foliage.
“Well, I don’t know exactly what this place is–“
“Why am I not surprised?” said Mrs. Sharma.
“–but I can tell you what happened. I messed up–“
“That much is clear.”
Angelina thrashed around a bit, then finally emerged from the leaves and pulled herself to her feet. One of her hairpins had captured a long, bright red leaf that hung from the back of her head.
“I messed up when I figured out the opening that was going to happen. It opened in the wrong direction,” said Angelina. “I thought it was opening in the direction of home, but instead it took us here.”
“Are you going to tell us where ‘here’ is?” said Naomi.
“The place we were before was like… a middle place, right?” said Angelina.
“Stuff from our reality’s not supposed to fall into other ones, so it stops halfway through,” said Jen. “Sarah said it before.”
“Right!” said Angelina. “What I’m trying to say is that instead of falling back to our reality, we fell the rest of the way through.”