The marquee was huge, and of course, depressingly expensive. It was decorated with things you'd probably see in a normal house, such as kitchen units, and tables and chairs that definitely weren't the fold up kind. A group of girls and boys I only vaguely recognised from pictures from classmates on Facebook all sat around talking. I stood awkwardly on the outside, wondering why the heck I was there and where my friends were. I didn't even remember why exactly I was here. I couldn't have been invited...
"Hey guys, here's your alcohol!" Somebody's father suddenly strolled in, his arms laiden with cans and bottles of liquid I couldn't help but recognise, but had never drunken before, as most of it was vodka. My eyes swelled. I had been invited to one of these parties? No way. No freaking way.
"Rach, aren't you gonna drink?" One of the girls said, as they all rushed forward, gathering up as many bottles as they could. I swallowed hard, suddenly feeling everybody's eyes on me. "Uh... sure. Sure," I said, picking up a can of beer and opening it tentatively. Slowly, I headed over towards one of the tables - I should at least try and be social - but when I did, everybody gave me a filthy look. I bit back words of how I knew I shouldn't be there, simply wandering aimlessly round the room as I drank the beer - which tasted an awful lot like lemonade.
Once the can of beer was finished, I literally had nothing to do, and didn't particularly want to sit by myself like a loner. Instead, I moved slowly towards the door of the marquee, taking a peek out. Somebody behind called to me, asked where I was going. Like they cared anyway. I swore softly under my breath.
"Just going to the bathroom!" I called back in a chirpy voice, "Be right back!"
Once I was out of the marquee, however, I ran for my life. I ended up jogging down a strange forest road - except I kept tripping and stumbling because I was wearing heels. At one point, I fell straight into a puddle, mud instantly splattered all the way up my arms and legs. I sat there for a moment, feeling the misery wash over me. I hadn't wanted to be there anyway - at least, not without my friends. Just as I was about to get up and move on, however, I suddenly heard a strange panting from behind me. My blood began to crystalise into spikes of ice. Oh god.
I took off at a sprint at that point, not even looking back to see what kind of monster was chasing me; I didn't want to know. Just as I rounded the corner, I suddenly heard someone call my name from in front. My gait increased even more, even though I was wobbling everywhere on the stupid heels I was wearing. Finally I could not help but kick them off, hoping that it wasn't a sign for the others if they came out looking for me. I rounded another corner - and there, thankfully, were all my friends, along with a few other classmates. Strangely, they all had rucksacks on their backs and were dressed in the same way they had been for our camping trip in September. Meg held a map.
"Which way do we go here?" she asked, pointing behind the group of them. None of them even asked as to why exactly I was barefoot and caked in mud and murky puddle water. I squinted beyond the group of them. I recognised the road name - I'd driven along it before! Except not quite this part of the road... which way was it to the part I knew?
Before I could make a decision, however, the sound of voices suddenly wafted out from behind us. Oh god, they'd found me, I thought to myself, wheeling round. Instead, I saw a group of about 20 other kids from our year. I saw Meg tense in fury.
"They've been following us for ages," she muttered, "idiots."
All of a sudden, however, a car pulled up alongside of us - I recognised it as our old head of year.
"Come on you lot," he said to all of us, "follow me. I know the way." With that, his car slowly began to crawl back the way he'd come, with us all walking quickly in tow. We reached an underground car park, which we descended into. As we did, however, Amy suddenly turned to me.
"I really don't think this is right," she said. I shook my head.
"Me neither," I said, "I know this road. I know where it leads. And it definitely doesn't lead to this."
We ran to the front of the crowd to catch up with Meg + Lurgie, but by that point we were deep inside the car park. Our head of year suddenly stopped his car and poked his head out of the window to talk to all of us.
"Now listen," he said, "when all of you go through that door" - he indicated to the door that would normally lead to the staircase out of the car park - "you all must stick together, understood. You're going to walk single file with a hand on the person in front's shoulder. Nobody pushes, nobody shoves, and nobody walks too fast. You keep at a steady pace, I cannot stress this enough. Understood?"
I ended up at the front of my group, but behind a pair of idiots who I knew were the kind who went to those alcohol parties every weekend. Swallowing hard, I clamped my hand onto the girl in front's shoulder, and we moved on, Amy behind me, Meg behind Amy, Lurgie behind Meg. Instead of entering a stairwell, however, we seemed to enter a courtroom full of people who would easily belong in the Disney version of Alice in Wonderland. Just as we rounded a row of people, however, the girl in front of me suddenly shot off and round the corner. I blinked, now the front of the line, with no idea where the heck to go next.
"Keep moving," Amy said to me, her voice constricted with panic. I moved steadily round the corner and glanced to the right. Sure enough, I saw the girl disappear round the corner at the end again. I followed after her quickly. Nobody seemed to realise that we were all there yet.
Finally, we ended up at the front of the room, next to a strange looking teleporter. The door at the bottom was incredibly small - we really were in Wonderland, I realised, with a small dark grin. Who would have thought? An attendant stood beside.
"To proceed you must prove that you are worthy," he said - and I vaguely recognised him as the Mad Hatter, except from the Disney version, not Johnny Depp.
"What do I have to do?" I said nervously. Hatter grinned.
"Fly," he simply said.
I swallowed hard and closed my eyes. If this was Disney-inspired, maybe I should think happy thoughts, Peter Pan style? A sudden gasp from behind me, and my eyes flew open. Sure enough, I was floating up towards the ceiling.
"Go down, go down, go down!" I muttered to myself, trying to angle myself towards the ground. It was more or less like swimming.
"You are ready," said Hatter, "point yourself towards the door at the bottom."
I did as he said, and suddenly the door flew open in front of me. I was aware of either the door getting bigger, or myself shrinking. Then there was a strange humming noise, like a machine powering up, and I suddenly shot down the tunnel, with no idea where I was headed.
Next thing I knew I was sitting at a table on a deck next to a huge lake - or maybe it was an ocean. Opposite our side of the lake/ocean were a set of rugged mountains. The sky was a beautiful peachy orange colour - it was clearly late evening. How long had it taken me to get through the tunnel.
I was suddenly aware of the fact that Meg was sitting next to me, with Abby opposite me, Amy next to Abby, Jynx next to Amy and Lurgie next to Meg. We were all drinking, thankfully, fizzy drinks, and not alcohol. I looked back into the sky and felt my heart stop. Hovering above the mountains was what looked like a dragon. Before I could raise the alarm however, it suddenly shifted and changed into a giant flying seahorse. I blinked at it, wondering if I had somehow managed to take drugs at that party I'd started off in or something. On the other hand however... the sight of flying seahorses stirred something inside of me.
"I've been here before," I said, to nobody in particular.
"Same," Abby said, nodding at me. I crained my head back into the sky, and saw that there were loads of flying seahorses everywhere. What on earth was this place?
"Let's try flying again!" Meg exclaimed, "that was so fun when we had to go through that weird machine."
"Too right," I said, putting my drink back down and standing up. I looked into the sunset of the sky and closed my eyes, trying to think happy thoughts. Nothing happened. Meg, however, was beginning to float upwards.
"The key is not to try!" she called down to me. I smiled, and when I closed my eyes this time, I let my mind wander. Sure enough, I started floating upwards, Amy, Abby, Jynx and Lurgie following suit beneath us.
And then the dream ended and all was well in the world.