Cautiously, you follow the Mad Hatter, who leads you back down the extensive staircase. At the junction, you stop, freeze, for the deadly darkness is still creeping onward. It seems to fill you the further you go down the staircase, lifting itself right above your head.
The Hatter stops too, but only when he notices that you’re not following in her flamboyant footsteps.
“Ah, indeed, the darkness. It’s a trick of the mist, of course.”
“Mist?” you replied, baffled.
The Hatter walks on. Suddenly you realise that he is going to go on without you. Taking a deep breath, you plunge back into darkness. It tickles a little.
“What do you mean ‘mist’, Hatter?”
“They use it to spy on us,” says he.
The Hatter gathers pace, all the while muttering:
“The microfibres, the microfibres…”
You have no idea where he is in the storm of blackness, but, having run forward, you can tell by loud muttering that he must be nearby.
Suddenly a gloved finger is upon your lips.
“I told you,” you hear him hiss through clenched teeth. “Ix-nay on the alking-tay.”
“Latin?” you mumble through glove.
“That’s more like it!” he says loudly, releasing you again, before linking his arm through yours. “Come on. We’re off to see the Wizard, the Wonderful Wizard of Oz!”
By now, it’s too dark even to see the flexing of your fingers two centimetres from your face. In fact, you don’t even know what constitutes a centimetre any more!
However, you realise that you are no longer being pulled along. So, the Mad Hatter must have slowed. Indeed, you stumble as he stops. Now, not even his muttering remains in the dark mist.
And then a globe of light illuminates the dark of the path forward. It’s a wall. No, the light is part of the wall. A glove blocks a part of it. The Mad Hatter’s glove.
He’s holding the ball of light, and now you can see it more clearly. It is…