Her Name is Hope

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When Hope finally came to again, she found that she was lying in the middle of an empty and deserted plain. For a moment she thought she saw something like a bright white butterfly fluttering past the corner of her eye, but there was nothing there when she looked. She must have imagined it. Night had fallen, the ground was cold and hard beneath the soft grass that was covering it, and she could see a great multitude of stars shining brightly in the dark sky above.

That was her first clue that something was very wrong. Not only could she see a ridiculous amount of stars, which meant she was nowhere near a major city, but the constellations weren't right. She wasn't exactly an expert, but she knew enough to be able to recognize when something was wrong. As Hope stared up into the night in confusion, the events that had led up to this moment came crashing back, and her eyes widened as she suddenly sat up and began looking around for her sister. She couldn't find Faith anywhere, but somehow their carry-on bag appeared to have made the trip as well, because she found it sitting on the ground about twenty yards away from her initial location. Hope frowned and furrowed her brow in confusion. How had that happened? Nothing in it appeared to be damaged from the fall (aside from her cell phone, which had a strange message on it about needing to be reactivated), but then, come to think of it, neither was she. How could she have possibly survived all of that? Putting aside their magical little journey through space (where they should have died from lack of oxygen and frozen over like a pair of popsicles), shouldn't they have burned up from the friction of entering a planet's atmosphere? After being pulled away from Faith, she had lost consciousness and couldn't remember how she had managed to make such a miraculous landing at all. Was she dead? Was this Heaven? If so, it was pretty bleak...

Hope decided she must be dreaming. She and Faith had probably just been knocked out by a slight but sudden change in cabin pressure, and were still safely aboard the plane, being taken care of by a stewardess. Maybe she had even fallen asleep before that and the turbulence was part of the dream too. That idea made her feel better, because it meant her real body wouldn't be in any danger, but she still had a niggling feeling that something wasn't quite right.

"Well, whatever," Hope said aloud with a shrug, rubbing her cold arms. 'Dream or not, this place is kind of chilly... I should probably start looking for some form of shelter,' she thought, taking another look around using her scrambled phone's glowing screen for a light source. It was then that she stumbled upon what appeared to be the entrance of a descending stairwell to some kind of underground structure. The inscription carved over the arch at the bottom was in a language that she had never seen before, and the doorway seemed to glow with a mysterious light. Hope looked around, wondering why something like this was out in the middle of nowhere. Was it supposed to be some kind of bunker or emergency shelter? The suspicious glowing entrance looked like it might be some kind of force-field or portal. 'Well, whatever it is, it's probably my best bet for finding shelter for the night,' Hope decided, cautiously poking the door of light with a stick that she had picked up while walking around. The texture of the door was soft and gooey, like a mucus membrane... or pudding. 'Speaking of pudding, I could really go for some about now...' she thought, sweat-dropping, when her stomach growled rather loudly. "!" Hope gasped in alarm when the membrane suddenly shot up the stick and took hold of her arm, pulling her in before she had a chance to react. "Whoaa!" she exclaimed when she felt a pulling sensation that was eerily similar to the one she had felt on the plane, and found herself floating over yet another world. But apart from several pillars of light that looked just like the one she was in, this planet seemed dark and lifeless. The sight of it sent an ominous chill down her spine. Then the light surrounding her increased to such a blinding intensity that she had to shield her eyes. When she opened them again, she was standing in front of a deep, dark, and murky swamp with her back to a wall of solid stone. "I guess it didn't like being poked..." she mumbled with a sigh, wondering what she had gotten herself into.


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