Danielle had often visited the grove, which lay just beyond the intersection of Thrusher’s Way. The grass was a rich shade of green, growing thickly and untainted by the heavy smog, and exhaust from the hovercrafts of the nearby city. Cherry trees surrounded it, framing the entrance, and the sun always appeared to be shining.
In later years, Danielle would realize how strangely her parents had looked at her whenever she mentioned the grove. Sympathetically.
Father would shake his head, walrus mustache and top hat wobbling, and Mother was silent. Always silent.
Today however, the grove seemed blurred, and imperfect. In fact, right on the edge, a towering iron fence had been built. Overnight, it seemed.
Beneath the smell of fresh grass, and the cool autumn breeze, was the scent of smoke, and a tainted, rusty smell that she had never experienced.
Bewildered, Danielle stumbled and fell, leaving a muddy stain on her cornflower blue dress. She could feel the wet of the soil and the brush of the stiff cotton against her skin and could think only of how disappointed mother would be when she saw the blemish on her beautiful dress.
She scrambled to her feet, and found a young woman, sitting on the concrete base of the wall, staring.
She was dressed in a plain, heavy black dress and a black hat with cherries adorning the base. Her red-gold hair was flowing loosely around her shoulders, and in her lap sat a tiny, little grey dog, who was curled up, but watched Danielle with half-open, bright eyes.
“What puzzles you so, child?” she said, in an echoing voice that seemed to resonate through Danielle’s head.
“Where did the fence come from?” Danielle whispered.
“It was always there.” She smiled grimly. “I, as a Seer am able to see what others cannot. Please, come closer.”
Danielle reluctantly took a few more steps forward, and gripped the iron bars of the fence, tightly.
“But why is it here?” she asked.
The seer sighed. “Beyond the fence lies the true horror of humanity. Only few can see this grove, Eden. It is simply an illusion to shield the big picture, you might say.”
“But what is this…thing?” said Danielle, “what could be so ugly?”
The woman shrugged. “You ask me what I cannot possibly answer. All I know is that I am to sit on the fence, and to guide the few and special people that can pass through. It is the time-space witch’s bidding.”
Smoke billowed through the bars of the fence, stinging Danielle’s eyes as she thought. She could taste the bitterness on her tongue
“Why am I here? Why am I special?” she said, finally. “And is there anything I can do to help save us?”
“Firstly, you are here by chance,” said the seer, simply. “There is no fate.
“Second, you have schizophrenia. I am just a place in vague reality that punched through your disorder. Mostly people who see the truth are like you. Different.
“Third.” The seer’s voice got quieter and gripped Danielle’s wrist so that she was forced to look her in the wise, amber, slit-pupiled eyes.
“There will always be hope. Even if just a slight bit. There is nothing, hear me: nothing that can stop you from fixing this situation. People lack the willpower to see through the haze of comfort and greed. When you turn that around, then there is reality. Then there is unity. Until that day, you continue to fall.”
The ground beneath Danielle’s feet crumbled and gave way, leaving her falling down into a blue light. The last thing she heard above own screams was the Seer’s whisper: “Good luck.”
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