Chelsea felt Belfry trembling on her shoulder and reached up to stroke his head.
Poor thing. She couldn’t blame him at all; she was pretty sure she was trembling a bit too.
“Angelina,” she said. “Can you tell Belfry everything’s okay? I think he’s shaken up from falling into another reality.”
“Nicky’s freaked out too,” said Nancy.
The dog licked his lips and let out a nervous whine.
“That’s hardly surprising,” said Mrs. Sharma. “Animals are sensitive to all kinds of things humans can’t pick up on.”
Falcon signed something. Mahender, who’d been relaying everyone’s words to Falcon, attempted to translate.
“Sorry… the Stanley fab hand signals don’t translate well to English, so it’s hard to give a word for word,” he said. “He’s asking if we should be worried about what they’re picking up on.”
“Probably,” said Mrs. Sharma. “Like I said before, we’re in a completely alien–“
“What’s that in the sky?” interrupted Angelina.
“What have I said about interrupting…” Mrs. Sharma trailed off as she looked up at the sky.
A long, black line had appeared in the sky just above the wall of greenery surrounding the garden. A breeze began to rustle the leaves around them.
Nancy’s dog whined again.
“I don’t feel so good all of a sudden,” said Sam.
At first, Chelsea thought he meant he didn’t feel good because the strange line in the sky was making him nervous. Then she realized she was starting to feel nauseous and dizzy too.
“Well,” said Lachlan. “This is unsettling.”
The breeze grew in strength, whipping Chelsea’s hair into her eyes and obscuring her view. Her ears popped.
“It’s probably some kind of alien weather phenomenon,” said Mrs. Sharma. “I think we should start looking for shelter. There’s no way of knowing what kind of–“
Mrs. Sharma never got to finish her sentence, because the breeze picked up into a roaring wind. Chelsea’s hair flew upward into her face, some of it catching in her eyes, and under her nose. A metal taste hit her mouth, and she realized her hair was getting stuck under her nose because it was bleeding. A wave of dizziness and nausea washed over her, so intense she fell into a small tree and had to hold onto the trunk for balance. Belfry’s claws dug into her shoulder as he tightened his grip.
Through the hair in her face, she could see the rest of the group wavering too, some of them grabbing onto nearby objects for balance. Angelina had fallen back into the plant she’d climbed out of, and Jen had splashed backward into the fountain and was picking herself back up again. Nancy, unable to grab anything for security without dropping her dog, started to fall backward, but Mahender caught her shoulders from behind and steadied her. Sam grabbed Lachlan’s shoulder for balance, sending both of them crashing to the ground.
It was hard to tell, but it looked like most of the group had nosebleeds too. Sam’s was the worst–bad enough that a few drops had escaped his chin and were rolling down his chest.
Lachlan was pointing at the sky, shouting something Chelsea couldn’t hear over the roaring wind.
When she looked up, it took a few seconds for her to control the hair that was whipping into her face enough to get a clear view.
The thin line had expanded into a wide gash, and it was growing by the second.