The air was thin at this altitude, but her lungs were used to it. It
was thrilling to fly so close to the sun. She rose a little higher,
beating her wings faster and faster as the resistance dwindled.
Then, once the air could not sustain her any longer, she folded her
wings and dove towards the ground. Wind stung her eyes as she
raced downwards. She whooped with joy, but the sound was
snatched away by the wind before she could hear it.
About a mile from the ground, she spread her wings and
levelled out. The forest below was just a green blur as she sped
past and the mountains in the north were still too far away for her
to notice. She focused instead on the many lakes that dotted the
land below like so many diamonds sparkling in the sun.
She made a turn, circled one of the lakes below, and then
carried on towards the north. The sheer speed at which she
travelled, took her breath away, but that too she loved. She
covered miles in an instant, but it felt like she was flying for
eternity. Nothing could ever compare to the thrill of swooping low,
brushing the treetops, nor the peace and tranquillity of gliding
above the clouds, warmed by the closeness of the sun. She felt
whole, at peace with the world. She had everything she ever
desired right here, right now. This was where she truly belonged.
As she made her way north, she slowly became aware of
another presence. She craned her neck to see behind and above
her, but saw no one. The strange feeling of unease intensified,
until she eventually realised the other presence was in her mind.
She fought her panic as it started to probe her consciousness.
It felt immense and dangerous. Alien, yet strangely familiar. It
showed her images of strange creatures, twisted and tortured.
Faces of people, hurt and confused. Death and pain everywhere
She fought the presence, to evict it from her mind, but
as she struggled, she realised it was not her that was invaded, but
rather that she was the one invading another. The realisation hit
her like something physical and with it came an unpleasant
tingling in her body. She was overcome by a sudden, terrible
weakness. She beat the wings she knew were not hers, but they no
longer listened to her command. Wind rushed past her face as she
lost altitude. The tingling in her body intensified, until it was
Her vision dimmed and her head pounded. She tried to
suppress the nausea she felt as she fell, but bile rose to her throat,
Faster and faster she plummeted, driving the air out of
her lungs. She tried to scream, but no sound came out. The ground
rushed closer and closer, the moment of impact only a heartbeat
In her panic, she milled her arms, trying desperately to keep
herself airborne, but she kept falling and falling, faster and faster.
Then she hit the ground … and ceased to exist.
Aaron stretched. He had not slept this well in years. He thought
that he should be feeling angry, but he felt strangely elated and
looked forward to the day. Pulling on his suit and shoes, he wished
he had something clean to wear and then climbed out of his tent.
As he opened the strings that held the opening together, he
marvelled again at the softness of the fabric. He had never seen the
The air outside was crisp and clear, the grass a little damp
with early morning dew and the campsite was a bustle. Horses
were being groomed, tents folded and stashed away, and everyone
seemed to be busy with something. He noticed his kids were not
up yet, so found a place to sit around the now extinguished fire.
Someone wished him a good morning and brought him a cup of
tea. He nodded his thanks to the stranger and took the cup
gratefully. As he sipped the strange tasting, although pleasant,
liquid, he thought about the last three days. It was hard to believe
that so much could have happened in such a short time.
Thursday had been one of the toughest days in his entire life.
Lisa had called him, and the kids, to her sickbed. She had told
them all how much she loved them and then said it was her time to
go away. The kids had cried. They had known it was coming, but
one could never prepare for such a thing. Aaron had resigned
himself to the fact that his wife would die and there was nothing
he could do about it. Lisa had been diagnosed with cancer about
three years ago.
The doctors had been hopeful. Over the last fifty years or so,
there had been such advances in medicine that there were now few
illnesses the doctors could not cure. Lisa first went through
Chemo, twice. Then she had several operations, which failed.
They tried every drug on the market to suppress the cancer, so that
she could lead a normal life. None of the treatments had worked
and she steadily became worse. Her pronouncement had therefore
not surprised him, but it had not made it any easier to handle.
Then, on Friday morning, he had woken up to the sound of
the vintage Mercedes starting in the garage below. It was a relic
from the days when there were still roads through the countryside,
built back in 2094. His great-grandfather bought it direct from the
factory and Aaron had kept it out of nostalgia. He had been very
fond of his Gramps. The Mercedes was decrepit and unreliable.
They never used it any more. So, when he had heard the engine
turn, stutter and then rev noisily, he thought someone had broken
in and was stealing it. He ran downstairs in his sleeping shorts, but
by the time he arrived in the garage, the Mercedes was gone.
He had sprinted into the street and watched as the car turned
the corner into Main Street, Lisa behind the steering wheel. His
heart had beaten wildly in his chest as he contemplated what she
probably intended to do. It had taken him only a few minutes to
get the kids out of bed. They dressed hastily and then jumped into
his Lexus to track the Mercedes with their GPS.
Lisa was driving along the A36 towards Salisbury. They lived
in Southampton. It was one of the smaller suburbs of Greater
London. Although Salisbury was not far away, it could take two to
three hours to get there because the area was now so built up.
Concrete, high-rise apartment buildings covered every square foot
of ground not covered by some shopping mall or business.
He’d put his foot on the accelerator and the electric engine
whirred as it sped up and weaved through traffic. The Mercedes
was slow. He had expected to catch up with it quickly. He’d even
thought it would run out of fuel. There should not have been any
in there to begin with. Aaron had wondered how Lisa had
managed to acquire fossil fuel for the car. It was not manufactured
An agonising three hours later, they had spotted the Mercedes
ahead of them in the distance. They had passed Salisbury a while
ago and where by then close to Shrewton, another suburb of
Greater London. Confused, Aaron could not fathom where she
was going, when she turned east. They had followed her, steadily
catching up, but it wasn’t until she turned down the narrow lane
towards the museum that they realised where she was headed.
Stonehenge! It still stood, preserved as a natural history museum,
amid the glass and concrete city around it.
They reached the parking lot a few moments later. The
Mercedes was already parked close to the ticket office and they
could see Lisa limp up the path towards the stones. Aaron had
watched as she handed one of the armed guards her ticket. The
kids had jumped out of the car quickly and ran after their mother.
He followed close behind, not bothering with buying a ticket.
They had argued with the guards for a moment, but after
explaining the urgency, the men relented and let them through.
Lisa had reached the middle of the circle of stones by then.
She had looked haggard, in pain and utterly exhausted. She’d
turned towards them, but her eyes had been closed. Jasmin called
out to her and Lisa opened her eyes. Aaron distinctly remembered
the look of horror on her face when she saw them. They were only
a few feet from her, when, suddenly, everything went crazy. It had
felt like he was yanked off his feet, tossed into the air and then
tumbled and thrown about. Then he had blacked out.
He could not remember how much time passed before they
woke up here. Wherever here might be; he could still not quite
believe it. The first thing he felt when he woke up was the pain.
His head pounded and his body ached everywhere. He noticed
Luke, Jasmin and Lisa lying a few feet away from him.
When he looked around, he discovered they were in a strange
place; open grasslands stretched as far as the eye could see all
around them, and the west was dominated by mountains so big he
could hardly credit it. The air was cool and fresh and the sun
dazzlingly bright. However, the most astonishing thing was the
It was Stonehenge as it had probably looked like when it was
first built many hundreds of years ago. It was made up of three
rings within each other. The outer circle were tall, upright blocks
of stone, each connected to its neighbour by a slab of horizontal
stone laid across the space between the uprights, like a lintel. The
second circle was made up of smaller stones, still each the size of
a man, but small compared to the stones of the first circle. The
stones of this second ring also stood upright, with their flat
surfaces facing the interior of the ring. In the middle of the circle
stood five massive columns, each made up of two uprights and a
lintel. These stones were larger even than those of the outer circle.
Each of these columns also had three smaller stones placed in
front of it. The five columns formed more or less a semi-circle,
leaving a bigger space facing towards the east, giving the
impression of an entrance. An oblong, flat stone, somewhat like an
altar, was placed almost in the middle of the circle, but closer to
the central of the five columns.
He had struggled into a sitting position; he shuddered now as
he remembered the pain. Luke helped Jasmin to sit up and then
checked her to make sure she had no injuries. When Luke came to
assist him to his feet, he declined.
“First Mom,” Aaron croaked; his voice rough and his throat
Luke made his way over to his mother, cursing under his
breath about his sore body. When he reached her, he put his fingers
just below her jaw line and checked her pulse while Aaron
watched from a distance. He felt very strange in that moment,
concerned that his wife might be dead.
“I can feel her pulse. It was weak, but steady. But …”
“What?” Aaron scrambled to his feet and limped over to his
“Dad … it’s not Mom.”
His heart skipped a beat as he covered the last few feet. He
knelt next to the woman that was not his wife.
The girl was young, maybe a little older than Jasmin’s
seventeen years. She was extraordinarily beautiful, and her ears
had a slight pointiness to them that was rather peculiar. She had
long, auburn hair spread around her face like a halo. Her eyebrows
curved elegantly over her eyes. Her full lips were relaxed in sleep,
but there was a slight frown on her forehead as if she was having a
bad dream. She seemed familiar somehow, but he was certain he
had never seen her before.
“Lady, wake up,” Luke said softly and shook her gently by
the shoulders. The girl did not react. “She seems to be sleeping,
but I cannot wake her.”
Jasmin made her way over to them, sat on the grass next to
the sleeping girl, and gently brushed her hair back.
“She looks like Mom,” Jasmin said in her usual chirpy voice.
They argued for what felt like hours afterwards. Aaron was
adamant that she looked nothing like Lisa and Jasmin argued that
she felt like her mom, even if she didn’t look exactly like her. The
woman was of little concern to him; he was sure it was not his
wife and they had bigger problems. They were in a strange place,
without food, water or shelter, or even another person in sight.
Luke had lost his glasses. Jasmin was dizzy and Lisa was nowhere
to be found.
The kids assumed they were at Stonehenge, nothing else made
sense, but Aaron more felt, than knew, that they were very far
away from where they had parked the car that morning. He walked
around the stones periodically throughout the day, calling Lisa’s
name, hoping they might still find her. As the light started to fade,
so did his hope.
He felt helpless, exhausted and worried. He had never been so
unsure about anything before and he did not know how to cope
with it. Always there had been method and order in his life and he
tackled everything with a self-assuredness others admired. This he
did not know how to deal with.
“Papa, look,” Jasmin whispered as day turned to evening.
What Aaron saw then shocked him to the core.
“Two moons,” Luke said in awe.
The kids thought it cool; in general, they seemed to cope with
their situation better than he did. He sat down on the grass next to
the strange girl and put his head in his hands. Everything was
wrong here. Back home, there were no meadows or fields with
grass, the air was thick with smog and the world was never silent;
cars, machines, fourteen billion people, all contributed to the
decay of their world. Here, everything was different, and he did
not know what to make of it. The two moons had been the final
straw for him. He reasoned that it might be a projection, the kind
the big companies used for advertising, but even he had to admit
they looked real.
He was about to lie down on the grass to get some rest, when
Jasmin called out.
“What is it, Jaz?” Luke asked, joining them.
“Look at the tag on her suit.” She held the collar bent back to
“Lisa Nightingale,” Aaron whispered, and almost threw up.
It took the kids half the night to calm him down. He ranted
and raved, shouting at the two bedevilled moons, and only when
they finally sank behind the mountains in the distance did he curl
up next the girl who wore his wife’s suit to fall into fitful sleep.
Morning came with a startling suddenness; one moment it was
still cool and grey, the next the sun broke over the horizon in the
east and bathed them in warm sunlight. It was the first time in his
life he had seen a real sunrise. It was absolutely beautiful.
Nevertheless, the beauty of their surroundings was not able to
distract them from their problems; they were hungry, thirsty and
alone. They did not want to leave the girl in search for water, so
they sat, backs to one of the tall stones, enduring the heat of
It was very early in the afternoon when they heard it; the
menacing growl of a wild animal. He feared that there might be
animals here, but they had thus far not encountered any, besides
some birds. Now, their luck had finally run out and they found
themselves staring at a large, shaggy-haired wolf, his russet fur
bristling around his neck, his long teeth bared.
The wolf stalked towards them, all the while growling and
never breaking eye contact. Aaron sheltered the kids behind him,
but he was as terrified as they were. It seemed like hours that the
wolf stood there and when he eventually stopped growling and
turned away from them, Aaron sank down, his legs too weak to
hold him up any longer. Jasmin screamed and, when he looked up,
he saw the wolf standing over the sleeping girl. He struggled back
to his feet, unsure if he would be ready to defend the girl if the
wolf meant her harm, but then he licked the girl’s face, nudged her
a few times with his nose and curled up next to her and closed his
They stayed at the pillar, watching the sleeping wolf and the
girl until the sun finally touched the tips of the mountains so far
away. Unexpectedly, the wolf sat up, wagged his tail and howled.
His voice as he howled into the fading sun, sounded so sad and yet
so elated at the same time, Aaron had difficulty explaining the
feelings it woke within him. He felt like crying. He put his arm
around Jasmin, who put her head on his chest and sobbed quietly.
Shortly after the wolf fell silent again, they heard a new
sound. They were not able to place it, nor which animal it could
have come from. When the head of one of the beasts finally
appeared around one of the stones, they all tensed with fear. Only
when they noticed the person on its back, did they realise that the
animal was a horse.
Others came, tethered their horses and, in a time faster than
seemed possible, erected a tent over the area where the girl was,
started a fire and transformed the area of the stones into a
campsite. Someone came and led them to a tent. There they were
given first water, then bread and later some tea. They were treated
kindly, but were not questioned. The people were friendly, but
seemed preoccupied with the mystery of the sleeping girl.
One old man in particular did not leave her side; neither did
the wolf. The old man periodically dabbed the girl lips with water
and then wiped her face. He did it with such tenderness, it made
Aaron wonder if he was her father. The old man talked to her
endlessly and, at one point, Aaron thought he was praying. Other
men came as well, kneeling next to the girl, talking to her, and one
handsome young man sat by her for a long while, held her hand,
and Aaron was sure he saw a tear on the young man’s cheek as he
bent to kiss her. It elicited feelings within Aaron he could not
As the moons made their way across the sky, someone served
them a stew. It was the most delicious meal he had ever eaten,
although he would not have been able to tell what its ingredients
were.He watched the people as he ate. Everyone had the same
pointy ears as the girl, but in some it was more pronounced,
especially the old man. All seemed to be somewhere in their
thirties or younger, with exception of the old man and a midget.
They were also beardless, bar the midget, whose facial hair was so
prolific that it was difficult to see his face or features. Most of the
men were dressed in uniform, with breastplates, shoulder pads and
some kind of wrapping for the forearms and lower legs.
Aaron desperately wanted answers, but no one came forth
with any. It was only much later that night that the old man finally
left the girl to come sit by them. The handsome young man that
had served them their dinner now also brought the old man some
tea. Aaron clenched his fists when the young man smiled at Jasmin
before he left. She looked all too pleased with herself.
Gnashing his teeth, he suppressed his fatherly protectiveness
and concentrated on the old man; he really hoped for answers.
Close up he appeared even older; his skin was wrinkled and his
hair white and thin. Nevertheless, his eyes shone bright and
revealed a sharp mind.
“Please forgive me, Sir, for not having introduced myself
before. I have been somewhat preoccupied,” the old man said.
“My name is Silas Nightshield.”
Aaron introduced first himself, then the children. There was
some confusion when Aaron wanted to shake hands with the man;
apparently it was not their custom.
“It is good to meet you, Aaron and children. We have been
wondering about your presence here and we were hoping you
could assist us in finding out what happened to Maia. I have done
everything I can for her, she is comfortable now, but I cannot wake
Disappointment flooded through Aaron; he was the one
looking for answers, but it seemed the old man had come to him
looking for those as well. He gave a brief recount of what had
happened to them over the last two days. During his telling, Silas
became quiet and his face grew serious.
When Aaron was finished, Silas asked, “Stonehenge on
This started a conversation that kept them busy until the
moons began their descent behind the snow-capped mountains.
Aaron could now recall every word had Silas said to them.
“This might be difficult to understand, Aaron, but you are not
on Earth now. This is Elveron, a sister planet of Earth. It seems
you have travelled through our Gate, Greystone, to come here.”
Silas pointed at the stones around them and nodded as if to
confirm something to himself. “The Gate is named Stonehenge
only on Earth. Humans have not been to Elveron in a very long
time. Elves and Humans used to be close, we traded with each
other, but that was centuries ago. That you should be here now can
only mean that you have come here with Maia. Why and how, I do
not know, but she must have had her reasons. We will leave at first
light in the morning to take her home. You are welcome to travel
with us, if you wish; otherwise you can leave to go home once we
have cleared the Gate.”
There was then even greater confusion once Silas realised that
they did not know how to use the Gate, or that they had not come
of their own volition. Aaron was thereafter introduced to Lord
Longshadow, who apparently was the King of the Elves and
Maia’s father, and they discussed in length the implications. When
Silas voiced his suspicion that Maia was, indeed, his wife Lisa,
Aaron forgot all his manners. He yelled and swore and it was only
when Jasmin started to cry that Luke was able to lead him away to
It took him another hour to calm down. Contrite he went to
apologise to the king of the Elves and his advisor. They accepted
his apology with dignity and assured him they would do
everything in their power to find a way home for him and his