Chapter 2

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When I awoke from what seemed to have been a really long nap, I felt less than stellar. In fact my head was pounding and everything around me looked really fuzzy. I sat up and rubbed my eyes, thinking it would clear my vision, but it didn’t improve much. I swung my legs around and placed my feet on the floor. Where the heck was I? Waking up in a mysterious bedroom is usually not the start of anything good. I carefully stood from the bed and with my vision a bit more clear, I went to the window.

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Everything looked so foreign. Even the trees were weird. All the buildings were these strange bright colors. I kept looking out the window hoping that maybe I would recognize at least something… anything… so I could get an idea of where I was. The last thing I remembered was being at my gramma’s house working in her yard. Then I remembered the hole. The hole! but wait who did I think I was? Alice? Falling in a hole and landing in a strange place. I shook the crazy notion from my head and headed towards the stairs.

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I could hear talking down below. Oh good people, I thought to myself. Maybe they can tell me how the heck I got here. I got about half way down the steps, when the three sitting on the couch started to come into view.

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But they weren’t people! They were like pink and purple aliens, or something. They talked and moved like humans, but they were green and blue! People don’t have green and blue skin. This was a just little more than I could handle at that moment.

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My knees started to buckle, and everything started going black.

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* THUMP *

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“OH No! Not again!”

“Jordie put her in that chair. Taffy go get her some water.”

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When I woke again, this time with an even worse throbbing in my head, the three creatures were all standing in front of me. I tried to climb up the back of the chair to get away, but all I managed to do was press myself up against the back of the seat. Then the pink and blue girl spoke.

“Hey are you alright?”

“I…My head hurts.”

“You are probably just a little dehydrated, we found you passed out in the sand. My brother here carried you back to the house. Here drink some of this.” She said as she handed me a glass of water.

“Thanks.” Unsure at first if I should drink anything from a strange alien creature, I just held the cool glass in my hand. Finally the dryness in my throat over took my better judgment and I drank the whole thing. It cooled my throat and it was quite tasty for water, almost sweet. “Is this sugar water?”

“No just water from our tap.”

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The green girl spoke next. “So whats your name? My name is Taffy Melon.”

“Uhh its Chloe.”

“Chloe. Thats an odd name.”

I had to laugh. “And Taffy Melon isn’t?”

“Not around here, I know about five Taffy’s *sigh* if only my mother were more original.”

She was dead serious. I cleared my throat, as I placed the empty glass down on the small table next to my chair.

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“Let me guess you are Raspberry and you are Pinkberry?”

The pink girl chuckled. “No I am Jujube and this is Jordan Almond.”

“But we just call him Jordie.” Taffy chimed in.

“Jujube and Jordan Almond. Right… I must still be dreaming. I am probably passed out at the bottom of that hole still.” I tried to stand, but ended up slumping back into the seat.

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Finally Jordie spoke. “What hole?”

“It was behind my grandmothers property. There was this bright glowing light, but when I looked in, I lost my footing and I slipped.” The memory of falling caused me to grab my ribcage. Ow. There was a definite bruise there.

“Well there were no holes where we found you. It would have had to come from the sky, and that is just impossible.”

“So if this isn’t Riverview, where the heck am I?”

“Well..this is Sugar Valley!” Taffy exclaimed.

“Never heard of it.” This was all to weird for words. I tried my best to gather my thoughts. “So how do I get out of Sugar Valley?”

“We aren’t too sure.”

“Great.”

“But we will help as much as we can! We can take you to the library tomorrow and see if we can’t find some information.”

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“You can’t take her out looking like that?! The first person to see her will know she is an alien. Who knows what they would do to her.”

Alien? What the heck was he talking about? They were the aliens.

“Oh geez Jordie you’re right.”

“OOO! Jujube don’t you have some of that purple hair dye left over?”

“Oh my Berry! Yes I do! Taffy go grab it for me, and you come with me.”

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“Where are we going?”

“We are gonna make you look a little more native.”

“Oh…I really appreciate all of this. Thank you again.”

“No prob. Now come on to the kitchen!”

As we walked to the kitchen, I could hear Taffy upstairs rifling through the bathroom drawer. “Found it!” She hollered.

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Jujube ordered Jordie to grab a chair from the dining room and place it in the kitchen. She patted the seat of the chair and I sat down, she then went back to the sink where she readied the dye. Jordie and Taffy were watching me like a hawk.

“So where is this Riverview? I never heard of it.”

“Its in North Simerica.”

“Simerica…Never heard of that either.”

“Never heard of Simerica?”

“Nope.”

The whole situation was starting to feel more hopeless, how was I gonna find my way home if no one here (including myself) knew where home was. Just then Jujube started to undo my braids and place the warm solution on my hair. Unlike normal hair dye, it smelled honey sweet. Once the dye had run its course, Jujube towel dried my hair and placed me back in the chair.

“What do you think guys?”

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“Wow Ju it looks really good.”

“Ya sis. Nice work.”

“Now she just needs something to wear…”

In a flash, there was a green and blue blur running up the stairs and back down again. When she reemerged she was holding a lavender dress. “Here. What about your old bridesmaid dress?”

“Oh ya! and it will match the hair perfectly. Nice thinking Taff!”

Taffy handed me the dress and the hanger it was on. On closer inspection there was also a small necklace resting upon it. She then pointed me to the upstairs bathroom.

“You should wear the necklace too!”

I took the dress and headed up to change. “Ya, sure. Alright.”

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“And you thought she was a crazy psycho. See she really did need our help, and you were just gonna leave her out there to die.”

“I was not!”

“Ya you were. Taffy and I were both there.”

“He’s right.”

“Ok Fine! But we didn’t. Did we?”

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“I still have this really bad feeling. Like something bad is gonna happen. There is something weird about that girl.”

“Weird how?”

“I don’t know, but we just need to keep our distance ok…Go get her and let her know dinner is just about ready. She must be starving.”

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When I got to the bathroom, I placed the dress and necklace on the lid of the toilet and opened the cupboard underneath the sink. It didn’t take me long to find what I was searching out. I pulled a hot pink hair dryer from the cupboard. “Yes!” I dried my hair the rest of the way and then braided it once again. I then put on the dress (and necklace). I took another look in the mirror. “I look like a lavender grape.” I stated to my reflection.

*Knock Knock*

“Chloe?”

“Ya! I’ll be right out!”

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I opened the bathroom door to find Jordie waiting for me.

“Wow! You look great.”

The kind gesture caused my cheeks to get a little flushed.

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“Aww thanks. You don’t think I look a little too…purple?”

“No way! You look beauti- I mean you look really nice.”

“Hey you two! Are you gonna come get some dinner or what?!”

“We’re coming!”

Jordie offered for me to go down the stairs first and then he followed behind. I could smell mac and cheese on the air. I was never a big fan of mac and cheese, but I have to say it smelled divine. I grabbed a bowl and sat at the table with the others.

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To my delight, it tasted even better than it smelled. I shoveled in the whole bowl and jumped up to grab another. “Wow Jujube, this is excellent” I complimented as I stuffed more cheesey goodness in my mouth. The four of us didn’t say much while we ate, but finally Taffy broke the silence.

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“Berry me! I just had the best idea! You should take her to see the fortuneteller.”

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I looked up from my almost empty bowl. “fortuneteller?” I inquired, but before Taffy could answer, Jordie interrupted her.

“Taffy have you lost your mind? The fortuneteller¬†isn’t real.”

“Yes she is.”

“Oh really? Well where is she then?”

“…”

“See even if she was real, no one knows where she is. No, we will take her to the library and see what information we can get there. Maybe we can find a map that will point us to this ‘Simerica’ Chloe was talking about.”

Embarrassed Taffy dropped her spoon to her bowl and pushed herself away from the table. “Excuse me.” She muttered as she went up stairs. I looked at Jujube and then we both glared at Jordie.

“What?!”

“Why do you have to be so mean to her. Don’t you get it?”

“Get what?”

“Ughh never mind.”

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After dinner, Jujube took me to her bedroom. She offered for me to sleep in her bed and she would sleep in her moms room. I guess she was out of town for a week, so it wouldn’t be any trouble. She found me some pajamas and then bid me goodnight. I slipped into the silky pink and purple pj’s and slid into bed.

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As I drifted off to sleep, I made a silent wish to myself. Please let this all be a dream. I missed my grandmother so much. She must have been worried sick about me, but I was too tired to fight it any longer and finally sleep took me over. All I could hope was tomorrow would bring more answers.

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Chapter 1

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“So what did you get for #8?” Taffy asked as she looked up from her spiral note pad. “I thought I knew, but when I get to the last part of the formula, I totally do not get it.” Mathematics was never her strong suit. In fact, she would have had no problem at all, if the school were to explode into a fiery inferno and she never had to go again. She was always the social one, willing and eager to strike up a conversation with anyone who would listen. So it was no surprise that lunch was her favorite period of the day.

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Jujube tapped her pencil on the edge of her paper, looking equally as confused. “I got 36, but I don’t think that is right either. For Berry’s sake, why does Miss. Puff make this stuff so hard!?” Jujube slammed her pencil back down on the paper and then crossed her arms over her chest in frustration. “It looked so easy, when she explained it on the board. Its a conspiracy I tell you!” Jujube always did fairly good in school, but even she had to admit that that particular evenings homework was like trying to solve the unsolvable puzzle.

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“Can you two please keep it down over there? I am trying to work here. Gosh I can’t beleive you are still on problem 8…It was like so easy.” Jujube leaned over and looked at what seemed to be a fresh piece of paper, in the top left corner was a number 1.

“Dude you are still on #1! What the heck are you talking about.”

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The three had decided that a trip out to Peppermint pier sounded much more exciting than sitting in their kitchen at the dining table. The trio were always together. Even as much as Jordy hated to admit it, but he loved hanging with his sis and best friend. Something crazy or exciting always seemed to follow them. Though on that particular day, they only had one thing on their mind, and that was trying to figure out what the heck their teacher had assigned them for out of class work.

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“Maybe this is a test. Miss Puff just wants to see if we will stand up to her. Rip up the paper and say, ‘There is no way to answer that!'” Taffy looked back down at her paper and scratched her head with the eraser. “Or Maybe she just wants to drive us crazy. Then they could haul us away and she would never have to see us again.” The thought of this made Taffy shiver. She knew Miss Puff would be less than heartbroken if the class parrot were to be sent away never to return.

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Jujube was just about to tease her bestie about how ridiculous that all sounded, when Jordy jumped up from his chair. The sudden movement scared the poor girl and she let out a small squeak. “Jeez Jord! You trying to give me a heart attack or something?”

Jordy had either chosen to ignore her snarky comment, or was to transfixed on what he thought he saw.
“What is that?”

“What is what?”

“That!”

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Jujube stood up from her chair and looked into the direction her brother was. He had made a small shade with his hand to block out the sun, and so she did the same. “I don’t see anything.”

“There is somebody out there. Can’t you see them?” Jordy took his sisters hand in his, and holding out her index finger used it to point to the strange figure in the sand. “Right there. See now?”

“Oh ya, now I see… So what about it?”

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Instead of answering, Jordy took off into a dead run down the beach.

“Jordy! Wait!”

The two girls followed him through the sand, screaming his name the whole way!”

“Jordy!!”

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As Jordy reached his destination, the young unconscious girl came into focus. He stood watching for only a few moments, when he was quickly joined by the other two.

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“Whoa.” Taffy exclaimed. “Where do you think she came from?”

“I don’t know. She doesn’t look like she is from around here thats for sure.” Jujube stated matter of factly. I mean look at her weird hair. I have never seen a color like that.”

“Should we wake her?”

“I dunno Jord. What if she is just taking a nap.”

“Do you normally take naps so close to the water?”

“Well no…”

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Jujube knelt down beside the girl and placed her hand on her shoulder. She began to shake the girl, lightly at first making sure not to frighten the poor thing, if she really was just taking a nap. “Hey. Are you alright?” The girl did not respond. In fact she made absolutely no movement at all. “Hello? Miss?”

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OMB! Is she dead?!” Taffy cried out. Just saying the word dead was causing the poor girl to get more and more freaked out.

“No. shes not dead. She must be passed out.” Jujube stated as she rubbed the sand off of her hands and stood back up. “Maybe heat exhaustion. It is pretty hot out today.”

“Should we call someone?”

“I don’t think thats a good idea.”

Jujube turned to her brother. “Huh? Why wouldn’t that be a good idea?”

“I don’t know.”

“You don’t know….”

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Without another thought, the boy scooped the girl into his arms and started to trudge through the sand and up to the road. Good he thought to himself. She is pretty lite. This should make the walk home a bit easier.

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He only got about half way when he felt a hand grab his shoulder. He turned back to see a very unpleasant look on his twin sisters face. “Jordan Almond Pomegranate. What do you think you are doing?”

“I am taking her home, so she doesn’t die out here.”

“What are you gonna do, carry her the whole way?”

“Geez sis you make it sound like our house is all the way on the other side of town.” Jordan readjusted the girl in his arms and started walking again. “Its just up the hill. Relax…”

Once the realization hit, that the fight was going no where and he would be taking the strange girl home whether she liked it or not, Jujube let out an exasperated sigh and followed her brother and Taffy back up the hill.”

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Once they were back at the house, Jordy took the girl up to Jujube’s room and placed her carefully on the bed. The three exited the room to let the poor girl sleep.

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Once the door was shut. Jujube unloaded on her brother. “Great. Now what do we do? What if she is like a crazy psycho or something? You just let her into our house.”

“Sis will you relax? I don’t know if you had noticed, but she never woke up the entire time we were walking. She must have gone through something pretty dang traumatic. Taffy thought she was dead for crying out loud!”

“Well she looked like it!”

Jujube crossed her arms over her chest again this time to express how “not OK” she was with all of it. “I still don’t like it. I just get a bad feeling.”

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I am sure she is not psycho. She may really be in trouble. What if she had died out there. Would you like that?”

“No…”

“Ok then, lets just leave her be. I am sure soon enough all of our questions will be answered.”

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“We will just have to wait until she wakes up.”

Prologue

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“So what brings you to town?”

“Huh? Oh… I am here to visit my grandmother.”

“Oh how wonderful. I bet she will be just thrilled to see you.” The cabbie replied as she eyed me in the rear view mirror. I faked a smile and turned my gaze back out my window.

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What I failed to tell her was, that none of it was my idea. In fact I was being sent against my will. My stepfather heard that my Grandmother was having a hard time getting around and needed some help on her cottage. I was perfectly content lazing my summer away in the privacy of my room, but ALAN… had other plans. He could barely look at me, so this was a the perfect chance to get me out of the house.

You see, my Mom grew ill a year prior and it quickly consumed her. After she had died my stepfather couldn’t even talk to me with out cringing. “You look just like your mother.” He would say, and then the tears would well up in his eyes. I wanted so much to be part of his family, but he never gave me a chance. Even though I really felt out of place at home, it was still my home, and now the resentment I held towards him grew with each mile.

“Here we are, 4508 Apple Blossom Drive.”

Alan had already paid her more than enough when she had picked me up, so I just thanked her and grabbed my bag from the trunk.

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It was pretty much how I remembered it, the small cobblestone walkway lead over the bridge to the front porch. It had been almost eight years since we had gone to visit. Mom would always say, “We should go visit Grammy soon” but then because of her busy work schedule, we never got to go. Memories started to flood my mind and my breath caught in my throat.

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This was going to be harder than I had previously imagined it would be. Then another fear ran through my head. I was indeed the mirror image of my mother, would Gramma react the same way Alan did. After all she was her daughter. You really start to get a complex when you walk in a room and people start to cry…

I pushed the thoughts out of my head, grabbed my things and headed towards the front door.

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I rang the small doorbell, but never heard a sound. I tried it a second time, I could hear a small vibrating sound, but it was definitely not the bell. I decided knocking might be more effective, so I rapped on the door two times. I could hear foot steps coming from the kitchen, and soon my Grandmothers face came into view.

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“Oh Sweety! You made it. Come here and give your Gramma a hug.”

“Hi Gramma.”

She pulled me into a big hug and held me close for several moments. When she pulled away, she placed her hands on my cheeks and looked me over. “My goodness you are such a beautiful young lady. Do you know that?”

I couldn’t help but smile. No one had called me beautiful in a long time. It sounded very similar to something my mother use to say, but it was the fact that she didn’t cry. She smiled! When she looked at me. I felt more comfortable just standing on her door step; than I did at home.

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She helped into the house. “You must be hungry after your long drive. How about I make you some pancakes?”

“Mmm… sounds delicious.” I replied and dropped my bag off into my mothers old room.

“Wonderful! You sit right there and tell ol Gramma what you have been up to.”

At first I didn’t know what to say. We talked about school and a little about mom. It was to reminisce.

“So how are you and Alan getting along?”

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Suddenly the whole mood in the room changed and my smile faded. I guess she felt it, because she turned her attention all the way back to me, as she waited for a response.

“He hates me…”

“He hates you? Goodness hate is a mighty strong word there.”

“Gramma he can’t even look at me. Thats why he sent me here. I am just to painful a reminder.” I dropped my head.

She put down the bowl and came over to me. “You listen to me now. You are NOT a painful reminder. This has nothing to do with you. He doesn’t know how to deal with his loss. It is not your fault, and I want you to get that crazy idea out of your head.”

I nodded and she went back to her pancakes. Once they were ready she laid the giant plate before me and told me to dig in. I ate two full servings and felt like an utter pig after.

“Now why don’t you go rest. I will need you to do some work in the garden later.” ¬†As I headed to my room, Gramma called after me. “I bet this trip is just what you need! The world works in mysterious ways.”

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After my nap, I found Gramma watching the news in the front living room. She instructed me on what needed to be done and I went straight to work. As I was watering the plants, I realized how peaceful and calming gardening was. The melodic sound of the trickling water was quite therapeutic.

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By the time I was nearing the end of my task it was was almost dark. I was just finishing up with the last of the apple trees, when I heard a noise that sounded almost like footsteps. I turned around and peered into the small wooded area.

“Someone out there?”

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No one replied. I stepped to the edge and squinted my eyes, trying to see if could get a better look. Nothing that I could see, but then I heard the noise again.

“Hello!?” I called out as I slid down the small hill.

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I was just about to turn around and go back in, when a small sparkling light caught my eye. I followed the light to a small clearing.

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There before me was a glimmering hole. It was the most beautiful thing I had ever seen. It looked like a thousand diamonds caught in the sunlight. I stepped to edge, not even thinking it could possibly be dangerous. Almost as if I were entranced by the dancing light.

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“Wow…”

Suddenly the edge gave way and I slipped.

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I tried to climb back out, but there was nothing to grasp on to. My feet frantically searched for the tiniest indent or crack, but there was nothing. I could feel myself slipping further and further inside.

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“Help.” I croaked. The initial fall had slammed me pretty hard on my ribcage and knocked the wind right out of me. My fingers couldn’t hold on any longer and I saw my life flash before my eyes.

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I had one last thought go through my head as my fingers gave way… This was a really bad idea Chloe Micheals!, and then everything went black.