When she went to sleep the previous night, she’d been in southeast London, in an ordinary suburban house. To be sure, it was bigger than some of her friends’ houses, but it was ordinary. Her bedroom had been of medium size, with pale green walls and dark green curtains. Green was one of her favourite colours. The pictures and ornaments were perhaps not normal – she was fond of dragons and other fantasy creatures, but it was nothing like the alien appearance of this place. Now, she found herself in what appeared to be a completely different world.
The floor around her was green and springy with grass, but it was different to the grass she was used to. The trees had leaves in many colours: green, brown, blue, orange, red … it was like a patchwork explosion. They were many feet taller than any she’d seen. And the buildings … they were so unlike London that Anna felt her jaw drop.
Rising out of the ground around her, tall, gleaming, silver tubes stood tall, joining every now and again, creating a whole maze of tubes, sometimes ending in a large bubble. The tubes were made of many segments: Anna later found out that these were the floors inside. This was either another world or Earth several thousand years in the future. Anna very much hoped it was the former, for although it was against everything she understood to be the universe, it would probably be easier to get back from another planet, than through time.
“What are they?” she asked. Her voice was croaky, as though she hadn’t used it in a long time. Miraculously, the people of this place seemed to speak English, albeit with some other, more confusing, words mixed in.
“Our homes,” they said proudly. They led Anna to the base of one of these colossal tubes, where there was a door. She went cautiously inside, and again was amazed. Anna had been expecting futuristic silver gleaming panels, but it was furnished with sofas, chairs, and a large screen that looked like an oversized television, except with more buttons. Directing Anna to a room on the right, the inhabitants handed her a bundle, and a towel. She went inside, and saw to her great delight a bath, with jets of liquid squirting out all over it. But it was not water – it was brown in colour, and looked altogether more like mud.
“What is that stuff?” she asked, worriedly. “It’s not … mud, is it?” They laughed at her.
“No, it’s not mud. It is nutrient water – gives your body a lift, and stops your skin drying out.” That sounded a lot better than mud, to Anna. They left the room, and she gratefully slipped off her few clothes and slid into the strange liquid.