“I told you cell phones don’t work here.”
“Who cares about the signal?!” she almost yelled, looking around her. “This is amazing! How come you never told me there was a fucking portal in your back yard?!”
“Coz I wanted to surprise you,” the other girl said from the rock she was sitting on, swinging her legs lazily. “Thought it would be nice to bring you here when I was sure you wouldn’t bail on me.”
“This is amazing,” she whispered into the still air, her phone clicking madly as she took picture after picture. “Oh man, there are actual fairies and sprites in the air!”
“You can’t show these pictures to anyone, OK? Not yet. I kind of don’t want people finding out about the portal. Want to keep it for myself, you know? They can just use the public ones if they want to sight see so badly.”
“No, no, of course, I won’t tell a soul.”
A silence fell in the glade, the sound of softly beating wings – definitely not birds – filling the air periodically. Occasionally, the roar of some distant creature – definitely not a lion – rang through the air. But dragons didn’t nest on this side of The Border, so they were safe.
“This place is so clean and tidy. Like, nobody ever comes back here.”
“I look after it,” she said as she ran a hand over the rock, pushing herself off to walk around the trees. “I try not to leave traces that I was here, keep myself to myself. Don’t want any of the Locals getting suspicious. Plus, you know me. I-”
“Hate mess, yeah.”
They exchanged a small smile before the calm was broken by a shadow that flashed across the sky, a large creature, wings beating, flying over their heads.
“Shouldn’t be any. They nest to the West, in Althym.” When the creature circled back, she lost no time. “Yeah, fuck it, we’re outta here. Come on!”
“What? Why?! It probably won’t even hurt us!”
A roar rang through the air again, and the first girl grabbed her friend’s hand. “Get the fuck out of here before it eats us, now!”
Before the fireball hit the glade floor, they had sprung through a thicket and straight into a portal. A flash of purple later, and they were in the same old suburban back yard again, the sounds of a few lazy bees drifting in the spring air, a lawnmower two houses down droning on.
“Dude, that was awesome.”
“Are we going again?”
“Fuck yeah,” came the whispered answer as she thumbed through the pictures she had taken, staring in awe. A dog barked a few houses up, but at least it wasn’t a dragon.