Sammy lolled from side to side, yawned, stretched and rolled over. She lay still a moment, then squirmed. Her pyjama top was damp and had stuck to her back.
She opened her eyes. Then leapt up, heart pounding, and unable to breathe. Where was she?The scene before her made no sense. It didn’t compute. But there it was. She pressed her hand to her chest and held her breath. This was way wrong. She was outside and she was in a forest… a forest of glowing mushrooms. She sucked in a long breath, closed her eyes and let that sink in. She opened her eyes again. Same view.
Broad olive-green canopies stretched out from the top of thick, smooth trunks, and soft yellow light bloomed from the gills underneath as if the mushrooms were enormous table lamps with shallow shades.
Sparkling spores filled the air like fairy dust, folding themselves around her as she moved, and spiralling in her breath as she exhaled. The largest mushrooms were tree sized, two, maybe three storeys high, but they ranged in height from sun canopies to café tables and footstools. A whole forest of glowing mushrooms as far as the eye could see in all directions.
She walked several paces. Sprouting from the ground were yellow bushes covered in saggy leaves, and draped over everything, like filthy bunting, were brown, stringy creepers.
Even with the light coming off the mushrooms it was a dark place. Probably still night, but at least it was warm. Handy, for someone still dressed in pyjamas. That was about as positive as she could get about the situation. She awkwardly tried to reach her back to brush the soil off her pyjama top.
She should be terrified, but she wasn’t. It was too surreal. She watched a small white bird with a narrow beak zip past. It caught an insect circling in the mushroom light and was gone. Other creatures skittered about in the undergrowth. Sammy followed the sound of rustling to a withered yellow bush and watched as a group of small pink mammals scattered into burrows. They looked kind of like hedgehogs, but instead of spikes had plates on their backs like a mini stegosaurus.
Sammy padded over to a stool-sized mushroom. It seemed strong enough and wasn’t slimy so she sat down on it and brushed the dirt off her feet. What now? What resources did she have at her disposal? Awesome ninja skills that she’d learnt from watching thousands of kung fu movies. But not much else. Her skin prickled. She rubbed her hands up and down her arms and stood up again so she could pace. Pacing felt better than sitting.
A scream split the air and Sammy’s intestines launched up into her throat.
A girl. Not far away. Sammy rubbed her palms on her clothes. Time to find out what she was made of. She took a step forward and a guttural barking and crunching stopped her from taking a second step. Growling, scuffling, chomping. It sounded like a fight, but what sort?