Author of the Month

An excerpt from… Children of the Moon (cont.)
By L.M. Brickwood

Chapter 7

The Valley of Cydonia

Surrounded by the gently rolling hills they remembered, the lowland resembled now more a Mediterranean town! The pristine landscape of Carter Valley, the nature park they had visited for years, was no more. Or not yet, depending how you looked at it.

Where the marshland and the bird sanctuary had been, the familiar country road and sign posts to the inn. There were now sprawling white and ochre painted villas.

Amid lush lawns and beautiful gardens abounding with trees and flowering shrubs. The town was arranged along broad avenues. Stretching the length and breadth of the valley as far as they could see. The paved main road dipped somewhat to the right. Towards what they knew was the rough direction of the seashore and then the road disappeared from view.

A handful of iridescent blue roller birds played a game of catch, chasing each other playfully around a marble fountain. Much like sparrows would have done. Trying to escape the watery spray in the slight breeze. Everything had a subtropical feel to it.

"No, please, that can't be. A city in Carter Valley!" Chryseis felt like laughing hysterically, but she managed to control the urge.

"Trevor pinch me! This can't be!" She repeated "Ouch, not so hard. Thanks a lot!" Chryseis glared at Trevor and rubbed a reddening spot on her forearm.

"Sorry, you said I should pinch you." Trevor said absent-mindedly. He scanned the hills for any familiar landmarks. There were none. But the hills themselves looked more or less the same. Just greener somehow.

"Look at that large building against the hill over there." Trevor pointed to a miniature version of the Greek Acropolis forming a large courtyard with other longish buildings. A huge water-filled basin and fountain gleamed in the middle of the yard. The basin could pass for an Olympic-sized swimming pool - it was so large. A construction to the right of the buildings appeared to be an amphitheatre. Two sports fields were right next to it. Then a few smaller buildings to the right.

"Perhaps a temple…" Katherine offered, "but that's impossible! We are in the New World - in America. Discovered by Columbus." She sighed. 'I'm confused."

"The people in this place, whoever they are, sure seem to like water." Trevor had discovered more fountains and artificial waterfalls everywhere. Not even Pemberton could compete with that.

"Are there any people in this place?" he wondered.

"Yeah, you're right, that's odd. So many houses and nobody in the streets. I wonder if this town is for real." Chryseis stared at the mysterious town.

At that moment, they saw something move in the road below.

A young woman in a long mauve-coloured dress with a toddler in tow walked through one of the gates. She picked the child up. Then carried her towards the entrance of a yellow double story building between plant-covered walls. The little girl tried to wriggle free and the woman put her down. Then the woman started talking to somebody to her left. The other person was hidden from view by a blue-flowering tree. They seemed to laugh about something the woman said.

The three time travellers stared in fascination.

"Real enough for me!" Trevor said.

The woman turned around to look in the general direction of their hill. They instinctively ducked behind the trees. She laughed again and turned towards the other person.

"Look, these houses come almost all the way up to the rocks just below us." Katherine had discovered houses close by.

They shrank further back into the cover of the trees. Peeping cautiously onto steep rocky gardens, separating their ledge by a few meters from tiled roofs.

"Phew, I need a moment to get used to this." Katherine sat down on a half-rotten tree stump and slid her backpack onto her feet. She rummaged around the bag and found her water bottle and took a long swig. That felt better. At least they sat in the shade now.

"You may want to go easy on the provisions, Katie. We don't know yet how long it will take to find new ones." It was good to see that Chryseis was still her practical self. Trevor squatted on the ground next to Katherine and wiped his forehead with a paper tissue.

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