Rain poured down on the rickety roof. The sea crashed and roared up against the rocks. Ruby sat bolt upright in her bed, drenched in sweat and shaking from head to toe. She had just been having the worst dream; her mother had gone missing. Only, as Ruby sat there thinking about this dream, she realised it hadn’t been a dream at all. Her mother had once gone out alone for a walk when Ruby was three and mysteriously, she had never come back. Ruby’s dad had always claimed that Samantha, Ruby’s mother, had died. But, as Ruby had rightly told him every time he made this comment, he had no proof she was dead. But then again they had no proof she was alive either. Ruby sat there in her bed for over ten minutes. She slowly got to her feet and slipped on her boots that were at the end of her bed. Ruby tip-toed out of her room and to the tiny front door. Maurice, the family tabby cat, brushed up against her legs and Ruby let out a shrill scream. Maurice hunched his back and his fur stuck on end. He kept meowing at Ruby as if to ask why she had screamed.
“Shh Maurice! You’re going to wake Dad up!” Ruby hissed.
Maurice made a disgusted look as if to say ‘You were the one who screamed, not Me.’ then skulked off.
As Ruby unlocked the door there was a creaking of a bed and the sound of heavy footsteps. Before she could squeeze out of the door it was pushed closed by a big hand.
“And where do you think you’re going miss?” asked a deep voice behind her.
Ruby turned around to face her father. His deep blue eyes swimming with worry, yet his mouth twisted into a half smile. He ran his hand through his shocking tan hair making it stick up at an awkward angle so it looked like a wave crashing on the beach.
“Erm, I was just… going for a walk.” Ruby stuttered.
Her fathers face was shinning with disbelief.
“What’s up Rubes?” He asked eventually.
She sighed, crossed the room and sat down on an old squashy armchair. Her dad then went and perched himself on the arm of a sofa. He yawned loudly, stretched his arms and looked at his watch. His eyes widened.
“Good golly! It’s only five fifteen! But really Ruby, what’s wrong? Why were you trying to go outside in weather like this at five in the morning?”
Ruby sighed again.
“Well, I had a really bad dream. So I was going to go to my cave to think about it.”
The McMeel family had lived in a small hut in a cove by the beach ever since Ruby could remember. She thought it a great spot to live apart from the fact she had no friends because she was home schooled. But of course having so much land meant she could explore, something her mother had loved doing herself. While Ruby had been on one of her great adventures she had stumbled across a cave. She was hardly ever scared so she ventured inside the cave where she met an injured seal. Ruby and her father had cared for the seal until it was strong enough to swim back into the ocean. She had often gone back to the cave just to check if the seal had came back, but it never did. But five years later, Ruby being almost seventeen, she mostly only used it as a place where she could think about things.
“So what was this dream about?” Andrew questioned.
“Dad, you know the dream I have the most.” Hinted Ruby.
“Oh… the one about the unicorns and butterflies! Yeah, yeah I know that one!”
Ruby frowned and hit him hard with a cushion.
“Ha ha, very funny. No Mr McMeel! The one about Mum!”
The silent laugh faltered and slowly faded off Andrews face. He didn’t like it when Ruby brought up his wife; it made him sad to think about her. Even when he knew exactly which dream Ruby had been having, it shocked him every time. Then without warning he burst into tears. Ruby rushed over to her father and hugged him.
“Hey, I’m sorry dad, I didn’t mean to make you sad. I won’t tell you about my dreams next time.” She said soothingly rubbing his back.
“No. Rubes, you need to tell me. But I too had been dreaming about your mum. It’s just to hard to think of her now… now she’s dead.” Andrew sobbed.
At her father’s last words, Ruby let go of her dad and shouted angrily, “ANDREW MCMEEL! LISTEN HERE, SHE”S NOT DEAD! SO STOP SAYING SHE IS!”
Then Ruby got up, stormed out of the room and ran out of the front door, not caring about getting wet. She ran full out to her cave and sat shivering in the corner. In the far distance she could hear the slamming of the hut door again, her dad was coming. Desperately, she got up and looked around for somewhere she could hide. Then she heard a voice, a very soft voice. She turned around to see who was talking but didn’t see anyone. She stood there staring at the back of the cave, where the voice had come from. There was a flicker of blue light then it expanded and made the back of the cave look like it had been painted a forget-me-not blue. Ruby walked cautiously towards the light but when she got within one metre of it began pulling her in. Ruby twisted and flew uncontrollably, light as a feather, and just before her cave disappeared from view the last thing she saw was a very worried face - Her fathers face. Ruby tried to get back to him but she was being sucked right into the portal. Her face burned with tears as she wondered if she would ever see her father again. She felt a guilty twinge as she thought of the last conversation they had had.
After what had felt a lifetime she had come out of the portal and landed on hard ground. Ruby lifted herself up and tried to get back to the portal but it was closing. She flopped back on her stomach feeling weak. Her vision was going black and before she knew it, she had passed out.
Ruby woke up on a bed that felt just like hers. With a hopeful jolt of excitement she opened her eyes and sat up, hoping to find it had all been a dream. When she looked around she thought sadly, ‘This isn’t my bedroom’ and silent tears ran down her cheek. There was a clattering of cutlery and a lady shuffled in with a tray of food in her hands. She had grey, curly flyaway hair and a kind face. When she saw Ruby was awake she smiled.
“Ah, gave us a right fright. Wasn’t quite sure if you were alive! Poor thing, how did you end up passed out in the middle of the road?” the lady said in a strong English accent.
“Er… I’m not entirely sure.” Said Ruby thinking it would sad strange if she said she had come through a portal.
“Well, my name is Paula and I’m the maid around here.”
“Oh, nice to meet you. My name is Ruby.” Ruby replied.
Paula passed her the tray of food, told her to eat up and shuffled out of the room. Ruby sat there in the warm bed eating the delicious homemade pancakes appreciatively. As she finished she slid out of the bed and wandered over to the window. She looked out and saw that she must be at least four stories high. There was a small, pretty, stone courtyard just below, and the garden was obviously well tended to. She realised that the people who had found her had undressed her and put her in pyjamas. Ruby turned around and jumped when she saw a handsome boy about her age was leaning against the doorframe watching her with a smirk on his face. His hair was brown with blonde specks and it fell casually around his handsome face, while spiking up at the front and sides as well.
“How long have you been watching me?” Ruby asked nervously.
“Not long. I heard we had a visitor, so I came to introduce myself. I’m Charlie.” The boy said.
“Oh. I’m Ruby, nice to meet you. So where exactly are we?”
“We are in a small town called Anderville. Seriously, you’re not from around here are you?” Charlie said, his beautiful brown eyes poring into her deep blue ones then scanning over her long mahogany-coloured hair.
Ruby shook her head then looked down at the floor, blushing slightly. She could not stand to look into the handsome face for too long for fear of doing something rash and embarrassing herself. Charlie seemed to notice her blush and he smiled broadly. He turned around to set back off down the hall but whipped back around.
“Er, if you would like I could show you around a bit.”
Ruby looked up and smiled. “Sure, that would be great!” she blushed again and wondered how the day could possibly go wrong if she spent the whole day with this handsome young man. Charlie left her to get changed, and when Ruby was sure he was gone, she jumped up and down smiling and giggling slightly. A few minutes later Ruby was dressed in a pretty dress Paula had left for her to wear and she made off down the hall. Just as she was walking she realised she didn’t know where to go. The hall alone must have had at least twenty different rooms. After navigating round the hall for a while she ended up knocking on a door. The door opened to reveal a gangling youth, who looked about thirteen, with lank hair the same colour as Charlies.
“Hey. Can I help you?” the boy muttered unenthusiastically.
“Uh yeah actually. I was just wondering if you knew where Charlie is?”
The boy smirked. “Of course, you must be Ruby then. Yeah he went downstairs.”
Wondering how he knew her name she asked “Yeah ok. Thanks. But uh, how do you get downstairs?”
The boy snorted with laughter then said “Down the stairs silly! By the way my name’s Reece.”
Feeling stupid, but asking all the same she said “No what I meant was where are the stairs?”
“Oh, well I’ll show you. Come ‘ere.” Reece said still laughing slightly.
Reece led her around the hall. As they were walking Ruby thought she had already walked here and wondered why she hadn’t seen the stairs. After about five minutes they reached the stairs.
“I suppose you don’t need me to show you how to get down the stairs then?” Reece said chortling and with that he disappeared.
Ruby climbed down what felt like at least two hundred stairs before she reached the kitchen. She spotted Charlie lounging casually in an armchair talking to Paula. At the sight of her Charlie got up from his chair and walked over to Ruby.
“Thought you got lost! I was about to come look for you,” exclaimed an amused Charlie.
Ruby blushed crimson with embarrassment and said quietly “Well I did get lost. I had to ask someone called Reece to help me.”
“Reece? He’s an idiot. Bet he made heaps of jokes and only half answered your questions. Never knew how to act around girls, that one.”
“So what is this house then? Why are there so many rooms?” Ruby questioned.
“It’s like a boarding school. But quite a few of the kids here are orphans,” he paused and at Ruby’s questioning look he added, “Well I’m not an orphan. But my parents thought it was a good idea, so they started this school. See, they are quite wealthy so they thought they’d put their money to good use so we moved out of our old house, which was almost as big mind you, and bought this one.”
“Oh well that’s a good idea!” Ruby said eventually.
Charlie smiled in response. Then said, “Shall we go then? I have loads to show you!”
“Now you be good! I don’t want to be telling your mother you’ve been a naughty boy!” Paula said as if talking to a five-year-old boy.
Charlie rolled his eyes and set off in a brisk walk with Ruby trotting along beside him.
“She always treats me like I’m still a little boy! It really annoys me since I’m nearly eighteen and I know how to take care of myself!”
They walked around the house for a while and went down a couple more stories till they reached the ground floor. This had been arranged so it was half living room half dinning room. They walked passed the gigantic table and to a shocking red door. Charlie yanked it open and held it for Ruby. She walked through and instantly felt the wonderful cool breeze on her face. Charlie shut the door behind him and stood next to her. He looked at her enjoying the breeze and smiled.
“So what do you want to do first? Where do you want to go?”
Ruby turned to face him, “Well I’m not sure. Anywhere. Just lead and I’ll follow.”
Charlie chuckled and started walking again.
In the end they both decided on going into town to wander around and look at the shops. It took about an hour to walk into town since the school is in the country. When they got into town Ruby realised that it was very old fashioned; the roads were made out of big round stones and the shops looked very old and a bit run-down. Also as Ruby looked around she noticed everyone had hair exactly like Reece and Charlies; brown with blonde strips or flecks. And as far as she could tell everybody’s eyes were brown too. She thought it quite odd that so many people could have the same features, because surely they weren’t all related. Deciding that it didn’t really matter Ruby walked over to one shop and peered in the window. The shop was full of strange little objects; small charm necklaces with labels like “Protects from beings from other Dimensions” and “Helps keep you whole while going through Portals”, potions insisting they make you fly and dusty little glass spheres. Ruby backed away from the shop window and turned to face Charlie.
“What do these things do? Are there really portals and other dimensions?”
“Well yeah, of course! See it’s said that in one of the many other dimensions, that the people there don’t necessarily have the same colour hair and eyes! How strange is that?” Charlie said enthusiastically.
Ruby raised her eyebrows then turned away.
“I was just wondering about everyone’s hair and eyes being the same. Look, I need to talk to you, somewhere private.” Ruby said frowning.
Charlie cast a curious glance at Ruby but obliged. They walked down the road down to a swamp. They kept walking for a while then reached a big tree. Charlie walked to the back of the tree where he opened a concealed door in which they both walked through. Ruby, expecting to go through the tree to the other side, was amazed to find the tree hollow and a small rope ladder leading up to the top. Charlie in the lead, they both climbed up to the topmost part of the massive oak. Once at the top they found, to Ruby’s delight, a couple of chairs one of which Charlie sat down in. Looking around amazed, Ruby sat down in the other. They were completely obscured from view and it looked as if the walls of a room had been draped with leaves. Ruby wondered if they were actually in a tree or if it was a room on top of a tree stump.
As if answering Ruby’s thoughts Charlie said, “We are actually in a tree. I hollowed it out some eight years ago and made this hideout. No one, as far as I know, knows about it apart from me, and now of course, you,” he paused considering her for a moment then continued, “You won’t tell anyone of course?” Ruby shook her head. “Good. So, what did you want to tell me so urgently?”
Ruby took a deep breath then explained, “You probably won’t believe me but it’s the truth. Well, as you probably figured out a while ago, I’m not from around here. I’m not even remotely close to where I live as far as I can tell. You see after a fight with my father I had run out to my secret cave, in which I go to get out of the house to think. While in my cave I heard my dad running to find me. I looked around desperately looking for a place to hide. Then out of nowhere this blue light appeared at the back of my cave, I went to investigate and suddenly I was being pulled towards it. I couldn’t go back to my cave, it wouldn’t let me, the force was too strong. The last thing I saw was my dad’s worried face and I tried to get back to him but I couldn’t. Next thing I knew I had passed out on the road in a strange place I didn’t recognise! Then of course I woke up thinking it was all a dream. Just as I was waking up Paula walked in and I realised it wasn’t a dream. And I’m getting worried now and I don’t know if I’ll ever be able to get back home again!” Ruby finished breathlessly.
She looked up at Charlie to see him looking at the floor; his eyes wide with shock and his mouth open slightly.
“I realise it is a lot to take in, and also with the fact I just met you. But you have to understand I’m telling the truth and I need to get home soon!” Ruby said desperately.
Charlie finally looked up.
“I believe you. But I’ve never met someone from another dimension before. I have no idea how to open a portal though. We might end up having to tell someone else though.” He finished somewhat lamely.
They were in a bit of a dilemma. From what she saw, Ruby had assumed they were in a place in the past. Her reasoning for never seeing it or hearing about it was that in different dimensions there were different names and places to where Ruby was from. The shops were run down and the whole place didn’t have any proper roads. Ruby pulled out her phone to see the easy way without asking Charlie, if they had Internet connection of cell signal. She had neither. Charlie spotted the phone and tilted his head and knit his brows.
“What the muffin is that thingy?” he enquired.
“This is called a mobile phone. If you call someone else you can talk to them. They can hear you and you can hear them. You can also look things up you don’t know on the Internet.”
“Yes! That’s great! Now you can call your dad.” He smiled, thinking Ruby’s problems were now over.
“It isn’t quite that easy. See here you haven’t actually invented Internet or phone connections.”
Charlie sighed and sat thinking at what they could do. He reached into his back pocket and pulled out a marble. He fiddled with it and it expanded. A 3D hologram popped out.
“Holy, wow! Maybe I was wrong. I think you are from the future!” Ruby shrieked excitedly.
Charlie smiled and searched up different dimensions on the hologram. When he finished he beat his fists upon the tree. Seeing as no one had actually travelled through dimensions no one had any records or advice. They were in a pickle.
“So my question is; if no one has actually dimension travelled, then why are there shops for doing it?” Ruby said.
Charlie sighed. “It’s stupid isn’t it? Everyone is trying, but no one has actually figured out how to do it. So the products are for when someone achieves it. If they work that is. You know what I just realised? You have blue eyes! And your hair is a different colour to ours.” He thought for a minute then screamed out loud. “Oh my god! There is one other person with different coloured eyes and hair! I’ll take you to her.”
They got up from their spots in the tree and climbed down the trunk and went back into town. Charlie led them to a small apartment and knocked on the door. He explained that most everybody knew each other because it was such a small town. A beautiful lady with the same colour hair as Ruby answered the door. But instead of having blue eyes, she had bright green eyes. There was some familiarity to her face to Ruby.
“Ruby, this is Sam, Sam, Ruby. We were wondering if we could talk to you. You see Ruby isn’t from around here either.”
Sam nodded and ushered them in to her house. They sat down on squidgy armchairs at Sam’s word. She organised some tea and biscuits and sat down with the teens.
“What can I help you with guys?” She asked kindly.
“Well you see, I have travelled here unintentionally. Long story short I got in a fight with my dad and went into some kind of portal. Now I’m here. Reason being that we are talking to you was that you don’t have the same colour eyes or hair as the rest as everybody here. Can you help me please?”
Sam was paused with her cup hovering in front of her lips. She was thinking long and hard. What if she was…? Could this be it? She had to ask but of course the girl wouldn’t know herself. She would try her best to get this young girl back to her father. Though of course she had tried her hardest to get home when she had mysteriously landed here. Somehow things seemed different. And it was true, Sam hadn’t tried getting home for about eleven years.
“I shall try to help you as best as possible. Though when I landed here like you did twelve years ago, I tried for a whole year to get home. I hope we can be the first ever to travel from this place. I mean no offence Charlie, but I hate this place.” Sam said apologetically.
Charlie shrugged and murmured he didn’t love it either anyway.