I kept looking around, searching only with my eyes, trying to catch a familiar landmark, anything that would help me identify my location or point me to the nearest civilization.
Nothing stood out.
Nothing but darkness and the cracked soil.
Suddenly Dr. Michael Dean stopped, leaving me to walk a few steps before stopping me with an arm to my elbow. “Where are my manners? I bet this is your first trip to the Low Lands.” Then he took hold of both my arms and turned me around.
What I saw then shocked me enough for an involuntary gasp to escape my lips.
My heart began pounding so hard I could almost hear it beat—if the rush of blood inside my head hadn’t been so deafening.
This was not possible.
It was not real.
Had they given me a hallucinogenic in that spell? Even so, hadn’t it worn off already?
My hands clenched and unclenched on my sides, proving to me that whatever I was seeing, it was not the result of hallucinations.
In the far horizon, among the dark starless sky, was a cluster of what could only be called planets, but not those that orbited the sun.
In fact, that was definitely not the solar system.
Yes, there were some planets in orbit around what looked like other planets, but no sun that I could see. Instead, each planet seemed to be lit from within, each possessed a glow of its own. There were also a few nebulous clouds—like the Milky Way—behind which there were more planets. Some were so far, they looked nothing more than pinpricks on the horizon, some were the size of eggs, some were even as oval, others were as big as soccer balls. Some of the planets were dull orange, some were a glowing onyx, and others were just opaque, lacking the self-glow. Others were so brightly colored, it looked like a few glowing rainbows had exploded inside them. Even some of the colors were strange; I bet they didn’t exist in our spectrum.
It was surreal, to say the very least.
I felt like I was standing on top of the moon with some sort of enhanced goggles that let me see into another dimension.
It was beautiful.
It was beautiful beyond words.
Oh, Toto, I have a feeling we’re not in Kansas anymore, my inner voice informed me shakily.
It suddenly dawned on me, with a chilling and frightening certainty, that I was in a strange world, stuck with Dr. Dean, no less.
The scuffling around us took a new meaning, and when one ventured just a few feet to my right, I couldn’t help it, I jerked away.
Dr. Michael Dean laughed merrily.
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