"Aw, crap," said Lia, tilting her map. She had woken up under a tree this morning, all alone in a place she didn't know, armed with only an illegible map. She could not tell where she was on the map, or even which way to turn it. It was all pictures, and no words.

She threw the map on the ground in annoyance, jumped on it a few times, and then calmed down and picked it up like nothing had happened. She folded the map and decided to pick one direction and stick with it. She started walking in a random direction. She would have chosen the direction the sun was, but this odd world had two suns, and she could not choose which one to follow.

The direction she had selected was a bad one, she decided, stomping through a bog. She passed a tangled mess of orange plants that may have been dead, and rounded a large tree that was dark green with pale green spots. She entered a clearing with a huge plant.

The gargantuan plant had four leaves at its base, and a thick green stalk. At the end were two flat ovular shapes, light green in color and with yellow-green spikes coming out from the edges. The 'mouth' that they formed was currently opened.

"Oh, my God," Lia said. "A big—carnivorous…plant…thing…" She thought hard. She had never been good with plants, although she did know some of the names of them. "What's it called? Mercury…no, Venus Flytrap!"

She stared at it for several seconds. It remained immobile. Deciding that now would be a good time to leave (before it woke up and/or chose to devour her,) Lia turned around and began to walk away. A voice stopped her.

"Wait!" said a voice that she did not recognize. "Take me, too!" The male voice was obviously a tenor; whoever had spoken sounded like a boy that had just hit puberty.

Lia stiffened and froze. She turned around. The Venus Flytrap had bent over and was looking at her with interest.

No, that's not right, thought Lia, Venus Flytraps can't look; they don't have eyes…

But this one did, she realized. Two beady black eyes in between spikes on the upper part of the mouth were fixed on her.

"Excuse me?" she said.

"I want to come with you!" said the Venus Flytrap. "Um, wherever you're going."

"I don't know where I'm going," Lia admitted. "I woke up this morning and I was here. I don't live here, I'm sort of…lost…"

"Aw, gee, that's too bad," said the Venus Flytrap.

"I'd like to get out of here, though," continued Lia. "Wherever 'here' is…"

"I know where here is!" said the Flytrap excitedly. "You're in the Middleland Marsh! Which way did you come from?" Lia pointed vaguely in the direction of where she had started. "You must have been in the Eastern Valley."

"Okay," said Lia unsurely. "So…um…my name is Lia."

"Lia. That's a nice name."

"Do you have a name?"

"Oh, yes! My name is Dionaser."

"That's a nice name, too, Dionase…Diona…Dion...um…can I call you Henry?"


"Okay, that's good. Henry. Much better. How old are you, Henry?"

"A few months, I think," said Henry. "I was born in this forest."

"Ah," said Lia, sitting down for lack of anything better to do. "Do you have any family?"

Henry shook his…head-type-thing. "I never knew my parents," he said. "I have some siblings, I think, but I've never met any."

"Oh," Lia responded. Lia noticed what might be a great danger and decided to check. "Uh…what do you eat?"

"Bugs," Henry replied promptly. "Gnats and flies are good—I like crickets best of all, if I can catch them."

"Really?" Lia asked, relaxing.

"Oh, yes," said Henry cheerfully. "But once I tried to eat a pinecone that fell into my mouth—I thought it was a locust or something—and the other plants here laughed at me."

"That's bad," said Lia unfocusedly.

"The worst thing, though," Henry continued blithely, "was when a giant bird tried to pull me up last month for use in a nest!"

"Wow, that's awf…" Lia stopped dead. "Wait—giant birds!?"

"Yes," Henry continued, "great big winged things with claws and beaks and feathers!"

"Oh…" said Lia faintly. She hoped that the sun went down soon. She felt better at night, and her powers were more active. To keep away horrible thoughts of death by super-birds, she changed the subject. "So, what do you like to do?"

"There's nothing to do around here, really," said Henry, "but what I'd really, really like to do is learn how to play the saxophone."

Lia blinked. "The…saxophone?"

"Yes. You know—long, woodwinds instrument?"

"N—yes, I know what a saxophone is. Can you play one?"

"Well, no," Henry said sadly. "First, they're all too small. And second; I don't have arms."

"Yeah, that would make it hard to play the saxophone," agreed Lia. She wondered how long she would be in this odd world. "Any advice?"

"Don't try and eat something unless you know what it is!" Henry chirped.

"Um. Thank you." Lia got up to leave. "It was nice meeting you, Henry. Goodby—"

"Wait!" Henry was staring at her with an almost pleading expression.

"What is it?"

"I want to come!"

"…um. I don't think you can."

"Why not?"

Lia sighed. "Well, you see, you're a Venus Flytrap."

"So? I shouldn't be discriminated against because I'm a plant! Equal opportunity!"

Lia almost laughed, but it got mixed with a sigh. Wearily, she said, "No, it's not that. It's just—you need your roots to stay in the ground. If you or I were to pull them up, you would die."

Henry seemed to wilt a little in disappointment. "Oh."

"Maybe…" Lia said, an idea coming to her, "I could magic you out!"

"Could you!?" Henry said happily.

"I could try," she said, trying to recall the incantation. She did not know it in Latin, but she could try in Spanish, which was close. Well, not exactly close, but closer than English. She pointed at Henry and shouted a spell.

"Arbol cuerpo vive!" She translated as best she could. She was not fluent in the language; the closest to the spell she wanted that she knew how to say was "tree body it lives."

A jet of silver light flew from her fingertip and hit Henry. There was a blinding flash, and Lia pressed her hands over her eyes to protect them. When she dared to uncover her eyes, she saw that Henry was standing on two of his leaves, and the other two were in a position that suggested they were arms.

"Sweet!" Lia exclaimed. "Five points for Spanish!"

Henry was looking down at himself in amazement. "Guess what this means?" he said excitedly.

"Um…you can walk?"

"No!" Henry shouted. He stopped, puzzled. "Well, yes, but that's not the only thing. It means that if we find a big saxophone, I could play it!"

Lia blinked at him, and then started to laugh. "C'mon, let's go, Henry," she said, walking off through the swamp. She was not nearly as worried now; having a colossal Venus Flytrap as a traveling companion would ward off any enemies.