The trapdoor led into a cave. It was about the size of the Crib’s lower floor, and the walls were formed out of dark-coloured rock that was quite different from the pale stone of the underwater dock. Light filtered through a crack in one of the walls. A draught of fresh-smelling air was also coming through the crack. While the others climbed out of the hole in the ground Tip went to investigate. The crack was larger than it had initially appeared and was in fact just wide enough to squeeze out of…

Outside, she was blinded by the daylight and had to blink furiously while her eyes adjusted. Then she blinked a good deal more, because what she saw didn’t entirely make sense.

She was in a forest, that much was clear. The trees went on for as far as she could see, but grew spaced out enough that plenty of light could come through the canopy of leaves. A thick layer of undergrowth covered the forest floor. Birds twittered, and there was a low hum of of insects in the background. In some respects, it looked like an entirely normal forest scene.

Utterly normal, except for three important things. The first thing that struck Tip as odd was that it was broad daylight. Tip couldn’t see the sun through the tree canopy but judging by the strength of the light, it had to be mid-morning at least. That didn’t make sense. Even if their boat journey had taken twice as long as she’d imagined, it should still be the middle of the night.

The second strange things was that it was far too warm for the time of year. Back in Grevick, they had been in the grip of winter. Here it felt warm enough to be summer, or at least late spring.

The third thing was the oddest of all. The colours were wrong. Tip was still blinking and trying to work out if it was a trick of the light or if her sight was impaired after having been so long underground. But the longer she stood there, the more likely it seemed that this was real.

Everything was pink.

All leaves and stalks that should have been green, were pink.

Bark, soil and everything else that should have been brown, was blue. Even the rocky ridge she’d just emerged from was coloured a blueish grey with stronger veins of sapphire blue running through it.

The others were calling her inside the cave. “Out here,” Tip called into the opening.

One by one, Val, Kerrick and Sol squeezed out of the crack, and stood, just as she was doing, astonished and speechless.

“Is it just me..?” began Val, but didn’t finish.

Kerrick was rubbing his eyes and blinking at the scene. “It’s all crazy,” he said. “Tip, what do you see?”

“Blue and pink,” she said. She’d had a bit more time to get used to it, so she managed an airy, unconcerned tone, but in reality she was still feeling thrown by the appearance of the place they’d found.

“So is this… This isn’t Grevick any more, is it?” asked Val.

“No,” said Tip. The word felt inadequate to express how very much this new place wasn’t dirty, polluted Grevick.

“It’s a magic world,” exclaimed Sol.

“These colours…” said Kerrick. “They don’t seem possible. I’ve never heard of plants that aren’t green.”

“Do you think we can eat them?” asked Sol. His words had the effect of reminding them all of their primary mission in coming here.

“Good question,” said Kerrick. “We should probably look around. See whether we can spot any plants we recognise.”

Tentatively, they took a few steps away from the rocky ridge and the cave entrance, and advanced into the pink grass that covered the ground nearest them. Nothing out of the ordinary happened. The grass was springy, damp with dew, home to various insects. Everything you would have expected grass to be. They ventured further and grew bolder as the familiar sensations of being in a forest came to the fore. The colours and season might be off, but they were all used to foraging.

“Hey look at that,” said Kerrick. He’d made his way to the nearest tree and now he grabbed one of the lower branches and held it up to inspect the leaves. “If you ignore the colours, this looks like a beech tree.

He was right. If Tip squinted and imagined the leaves being green instead of pale rose, the tree would undoubtedly have been a beech.

“And these look like stinging nettles,” said Val, pointing to a bunch of bushy stems growing from the forest floor, “only they’re pink.”

“Put your hand in to test,” suggested Tip with a grin. Val stuck out her tongue in retort.

“Well, this makes things easier,” said Kerrick. “If it’s only the colours that are off, we can look for stuff we know we can eat. Let’s split up. Just for goodness’s sake don’t get lost.”

“We can eat stinging nettles if it comes to it,” Val said looking doubtfully at the clump of them. “Marit makes a soup with them.”

“We can do much better,” exclaimed Tip. “Let’s not bother with those unless we have to.”

Val was more than happy to leave the stinging nettles where they were, and by mutual agreement they spread out to explore.

The world they had discovered was so lush and colourful that Tip felt positively drab in her grimy, soot-stained clothes. As Grevick residents were all so used to the soot belched out by both mines and foundry that they hardly noticed it in the normal way of things. Being here in this fresh, natural environment had the effect of highlighting the contrast.

Tip hardly had to walk any distance at all before she found what looked like pink runner beans climbing up the broad trunk of a nearby tree. She snapped one of the magenta pods open and the little beans inside glistened cheerily. The pod smelled and tasted exactly like a normal runner bean. She picked a handful of them and stuck them in her pocket as a reminder and kept looking. A bit further along she found pink tomato plants, with sweet potatoes growing right beside them. The leaves of the sweet potatoes were pink but when Tip pulled up the plant, the tubers themselves were bright blue. Nearby, in the shade of a fallen trunk was clump of pale blue mushrooms that Tip was 75% sure were edible. She’d have to bring Kerrick to look. She collected samples of everything and kept on.

By the time Tip got back to the cave entrance , she was almost bursting with glee. In the ten minutes she’d been gone, she’d managed to find seven different foodstuffs. It was beginning to dawn on her that their main problem wasn’t going to be finding food. It would be the logistics of carrying it back to the Crib. None of them had thought to bring any sacks or crates with them. Indeed, it would have seemed foolishly optimistic to start out with such things when they didn’t even know where they would end up. However now in the face of all this abundance, Tip heartily wished they’d been ‘foolish’ enough to do so.

The others had apparently had similar success in their foraging. When Tip appeared they greeted her with shouts and beaming smiles. An array of plants was laid out on the pink grass. Someone had found wine-coloured potatoes, there were blue pumpkins, beets, onions and even a pink melon!

Next to the food, Val knelt huddled over a bunch of pink fern fronds. When Tip got closer, it became clear that Val was working on weaving them into a makeshift mat, obviously for transport purposes. Kerrick was hacking into a nearby fern cluster and piling them up for Sol, who was binding the ends together and then laying them out for Val. Tip dropped her edible finds onto the pile and set to helping Val with the weaving. The fresh ferns weren’t the best material, but it was a good interim solution to get their foraged food home.

“Isn’t this brilliant?” asked Val. “It’s just unbelievable! All this food just growing here, ready for the the taking.”

“Told you!” said Tip. “I knew we’d find food.”

“I think we should eat some of it now,” said Sol around a mouthful blue carrot.

“Steady on there,” said Val.

“He’s right though,” said Tip. “We’re all hungry and foraging is hard work. Also, we can only carry so much back with us in the boat, so we should eat as much as we can here and then the others can have the rest of it.”

“BoatS,” Kerrick winked at her.

“But wouldn’t it make more sense to go home as quickly as we can and then make another journey right away?” asked Val with a frown. Tip could tell she was fretting about the younger children, who would begin waking up in just a few short hours. She wondered whether Marit had gone to bed and whether the giant mess was still lying there in the kitchen. All that stuff seemed like a faraway dream now. Even the devastation of all the food wastage didn’t seem particularly important any more, now that they’d found fresh food to replace it.

In the end, they decided to build a fire and wrap some of the vegetables in leaves so they could bake in the embers while the four of them carried on foraging. They all agreed they couldn’t return to the Crib empty handed. Also, as Kerrick pointed out, as they’d mostly found vegetables, they would need a good amount of them to fill everyone up “We might as well cook ourselves something while we’re collecting food for everyone else,” he said. “I’ll bring my bow and some supplies to make traps when we come back. I’ve already seen signs of animals here. I bet there’s good hunting in these woods.” The same could not be said of the forest around Grevick, which had long been almost empty of game thanks to the settlers’ desperate attempts to supplement their meagre supplies by hunting rabbits and deer.

“I wonder what colour the animals are here,” said Sol, and there was a pause while they all contemplated it.

“Since the leaves are pink, the animals are probably green,” joked Kerrick, earning a giggle from Sol.

They worked for several hours, gathering vegetables and piling them onto the fern mats for transport back to the boats. By the time they stopped to eat, they had so much food stacked in neat rows that Tip actually wondered whether they’d get it all into the boats. Kerrick had already commented several times what a good thing it was that they had accidentally brought an extra boat with them.

Tip could honestly say those baked vegetables were one of the best meals she’d ever eaten, made all the better by the thought of what they were bringing home to the younger children.

They had intended to start back immediately after eating, but the strenuous work on top of their lost night of sleep and the warmth of their fire made them all dangerously drowsy. Kerrick, who was usually the responsible one, was the first to drift off. Soon the other three found themselves following suit.

As Tip’s eyes closed, she estimated a roughly 20% chance of something bad happening to them while they were asleep in this strange land. It was higher than she would have liked, but the springy pink grass where she lay was just so darn comfortable…


About the author


Bio: I write fantasy and humorous tales with a twist of magic. I'm currently working on a full-length manuscript but somehow I'm never satisfied with a single project so my smaller works get posted here. If you like what you read, the completed stories are also available to download as ebooks from my website:

I'd love to hear what you think of my stories so feel free to leave comments. I'm also happy to trade feedback as long as you write in a similar genre.

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