2056

Six months into her job on Mars’s largest aqua park, Kyla learnt it was possible to get bored of majesty. For the first part of her probation, the aquatic life dragged from the seas of strange worlds haunted her dreams with giant eyes and tentacles, and sharp beaks emerging from a wall of scales. But now when she mopped the floors and a Moon sharks sailed past with their triple fins, she thought only of what to have for dinner.

One lunchtime she slung her elbows on the handrail of the Venus Dolphins, dragged on her cigarette, and flicked the still red ash onto a hundred glowing jellyfish. The collar of her faded uniform curled up from over washing. This was at least a perfect job for a hangover.

‘Dad will moan whatever we do. I still think we should go,’ she said. 

Her Imagination Bear crept along the rail of the enclosure. He pretended he and Kyla were jungle explorers, walking a rickety bridge, the river below full of crocodiles. 

A shadow crept underneath the surface towards the jellyfish. Kyla wished she had another cigarette. 

'I know we went out yesterday, but Luke’s parties are the best,’ she continued. 'His Mum always have so much leftover booze.’

Kyla’ words must be the onset of a jungle fever. Her Imagination Bear held out his paws for balance. They must hurry on their quest to find the lost Aztec gold. 

The shadow broke the surface. Something like a ichthyosaur from deep space poked a snout out of the water, looking for his luminescent food. 

Kyla’s Imagination Bear took one step forward. For one second an ancient alien eye caught the gaze of his shiny buttons. On a handrail sticky from fizzy drinks and hot dogs, it was all that was needed for a stuffed animal to lose balance.

His final thought before razor sharp teeth clamped down on his furry leg was this was not that his games were never meant to stretch beyond make believe. But maybe this was inevitable.