“Right down this alleyway, kids.” Anton Barren led his students between the looming buildings, past the garbage cans, around the sleeping bum. They followed, heedless of the danger, curious as to the adventure. “Here. Lilah, you go first.” He opened an old, rusty, creaking gate and, starting to worry, the youngest of his students stepped through.
There were times that the walls between worlds were thinner, the doorways easier to find. The iron gate normally led to a strip club; you had to twist the handle just right to step between lands instead. Anton ushered his kids through, then closed the door behind them.
“Mr. Barren?” Fade asked first, breaking his untouchable facade. Anton didn’t blame him. They were standing in knee-deep lush, green grass. With pink flowers.
“Is this the otherworld?” Anya asked, before Anton could answer.
“That’s a grandma-story.” Lilah was his complainer. She was very good at her role.
“This is an other world, yes. This way, I wanted to show you something.”
“How do we get home?”
“In due time, Lilah, in due time. First: observe.”
“Totally a bio field trip.” Despite that, Fade was staring. Again, Anton didn’t blame him. “Are those…”
“Deer. Or at least, the spirit, the idea of deer. And rabbits.”
“And kittens?” Anya hurried forward. “Mr. Barren, there’s kittens.”
“Stay back here, please.” He couldn’t catch them, if they got too far.
“What are they doing? Dancing?” Fade couldn’t remain apathetic; he was leaning forward like the others.
“This is how they celebrate. The turning of the season, the coming of the spring. They celebrate surviving the long cold winter. They dance.” Anton couldn’t see them. He had sacrificed that long, long ago. But in the eyes of his students, he could see the memory of the sight, the deer frolicking in complex patterns, the rabbits weaving in and out of the pattern, the bobcats tracing them, waiting.
“They’re glad it’s spring.” Anya flopped into the grass, her chin on her hands. “That’s so sweet.”
“They’re glad they didn’t die.” Lilah fell silent. “And they’re looking at us.”
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