"We're off to Earth!" echoed in Yasmine's ear.
"But -" Tam started, her voice stubborn.
"No buts!" Tanya laughed. Her laugh sounded like little bells tinkling in the breeze. "You can't not, can you? I mean, technically you're kidnapped and kidnapped children usually do as they say. Just saying."
"As I was saying, couldn't you perhaps ask us if we wanted to go? Or ask us before you kidnapped us?" Tam finished what she had started, as she did with most things.
"No, then we wouldn't have a bad reputation. We need one, remember?"
"You need one. Me and Yasmine don't. Go get someone older, more competent!"
"But on Earth you'll be thirty. Surely that's old enough?" Tanya laughed again. "I'm sorry dears, you're coming to Earth whether you want to or not."
The sight of two body guards, a man and a woman, zapped me and Tam of our courage. They wore beautiful green one piece suits, and the man was obviously higher up. Though not in height, as he was a good foot shorter than everyone else. Perched atop his head was captain's cap, and from the Earth books I had read it must've resembled a train conductor's hat.
"Will there be trains where we're going?" I asked absentmindedly.
The woman wore her hair in a bun. It was rather tight, probably to keep it out of her face. I bet they know a load of spells, I thought jealously.
Just then the man shoved me into the tree. "Wha-" I gasped mid word. The sight was amazing. I felt weightless, and for a millisecond I was positive I could see glints of light, everywhere - stars, perhaps?
Then a whoosh of air hit me, like when an airplane going very fast whooshes to a stop. Well, what I imagined that to be like.
As suddenly as it had begun, it was done. Dark, gloomy and smelling like a tree. For a second I wondered what I was feeling, before I realized I was freezing.
"D-do y-y-you have a c-c-c-coat?" I asked, my teeth chattering.
"Here you go," Tanya said kindly.
She can change between moods rather quickly, I noted.
She handed another to Tam, and the bodyguards, before putting one on herself. I pulled my on. It was marvelous! Stitched with brightly coloured flowers, rimmed with fur and a pretty green colour everywhere else. This must be what it's like to be a city-dweller, I thought to myself. Aloud, I said, "I'm as cozy as a bug in a mug."
"The actual saying is bug in a rug," Tamara corrected.
"Yeah, so what -"
"Girls!" Tanya chimed. "This way, please. Nice and quiet."
With Tanya leading and the two bodyguards behind us, we exited the tree. It was even colder than inside the tree. "Where are we?" Tamara asked.
"Winnipeg, Canada," one of the bodyguards replied.
"Canada." I twirled a piece of my hair. "I know where that is."
"Yes, Winnipeg is where polar bears are," Tam added.
"I don't feel thirty," I admitted quietly to her while Tanya flipped through what I presumed to be a spell book.
"Neither do I," she agreed.
I watched Tanya put the book away and realized it was a guide book. Ha! I thought to myself. Not so sure of herself, is she?
"Do I at least look twenty-six?"
"You look thirteen," Tam answered. "Oh well. I suppose humans are rather queer," I sighed.
"Girls!" Tanya repeated. "Tally your scores and hurry up!"
"Do they say 'tally your scores' on Earth?" Tamara asked, as we hurried to catch up as told.
Tanya just shook her head and scurried on. Tam and I looked at each other, then shook our heads in mimic. Tam's bright eyes smiled at me as she tucked a wisp of golden hair behind her ears that had blown loose in the chilly wind.
As we walked away, I glanced back at the tree we had exited. It resembled nothing to the tree in Jadeland - it stretched, tall and dark and thin, completely leafless. Rather like an abandoned tower.
At a prompting from Tamara, I turned to look ahead.
"Isn't it amazing?" She whispered, eyes wide with awe. "I've never seen snow before - only my aunt Kathy ever traveled up north to the arctic Ilads."
I nodded silently. "Do they have towns in Winnipeg?"
"Winnipeg is a town," Tanya stuck her guide book in her pocket and slid on some mitts. "These are just the outskirts. Wait and see."
"Is it big?" I asked. "Like Jover?"
"Nothing is bigger than Jover!" Tam answered.
"In fact, Tokyo is bigger than Jover. But you're right, Jover is bigger than Winnipeg." Tanya smiled.
Where the heck is Tokyo? I wondered.
"Japan," Tamara informed me.
I didn't bother asking where Japan was.
For a while we walked in silence, save for the body guards and Tanya conferring about who knows what.
Brilliant snow stretched out as far as I could see, glaring, a mere reflection of the sun. A daughter of the sun - the way I was Mama's daughter ...
I squinted at the horizon - lines of houses stretched out. "We have to walk there?"
"No, no," the body guard with a train conductor's hat laughed. "See that tree over there?"
I strained to see what he was pointing at. An evergreen about a kilometer away.
"I think so ..."
"That, my child, is a station, so to speak. Where we Jades have our ... transportation."
I nodded, as though I understood. "...And when we get there?"
"We catch a lift to Victoria, British Columbia, then ride in a ferry to Vancouver."
"And a lift is?"
"My dear, a lift is whatever happens to be available." He smiled up at me.
We kept walking across the bleached landscape for another ten minutes before a blob of snow seemed to separate from the rest.
"See that?" Tanya asked. She pointed to it.
"Yeah," Tam answered for both of us.
"That is a polar bear. One type of lift." She turned to the bodyguard. "Saxon, do you have the harness ready?"
He nodded, pulling a leather contraption out of his back pack.
I didn't bother asking whether it would take us all the way, for fear of being brushed off as ignorant.
"Heather, you ready?" Tanya turned to the female counterpart.
So formal, aren't they?
Heather bounded off through the snow, her red hair held firmly in the earlier mentioned bun. As she drew near to the polar bear she vaulted onto it, landing square in the middle of its back. It seemed a bit disgruntled but other than that, fine with the whole thing.
Soon she had it trotting in our direction. "Hey-ho!" she cried.
Tanya and jogged over and the bodyguard herded Tam and me to follow.
"On you get!" Tanya ordered when we reached her, back to her cold self. "No questions, no time to lose!"
"What about the interview?" Tam asked, disobeying orders.
"That'll be in Saskatchewan."
"Then why'd we have to get all prim so early?"