A monster, flesh and bone and blood pumping through its terrible jutting veins lunges from the top of the man’s head. It consumes his body in a swift gulp, as if he were paper— No, in fact, he was paper; the Hatter was simply an illusion. Now, the great beast leers over you. It is partially see-through, which makes for most of its deep red mass, but its face and eyes are made from a flesh that would be more appropriate in a costume shop for ghouls.

Black irises suck in your image and a tongue laps spittle from its lips.

“She said you were tricksy, said the Queen,” it hisses, elongating its speech.

“I guess you didn’t think I’d figure you out so fast, eh?” you quip, wishing you had bigger pockets in which to have hidden things.

The creature begins to slide forward as if he—as if it has not heard a word of what you said. A mouth full of teeth opens, ready to swallow you whole. Although it has no arms, the creature slides forward inch by inch. You smell the essence of tar on its breath, closer and closer.

A lump builds in your throat and for a moment, you have sympathy for Lord Hattington, who was probably the creature’s last victim--

Now, the scrabbling in your pockets is not of searching—but of desperation.

You must have something here. You must have something that can get you out of the monster’s clutch.

The End

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