The Secret Garden

You’re standing on a sandy area that is a platform of only a few feet of ledge that protrudes out of a pebbled area. It is fortunate that you landed on the sandy area—any further forward and your landing wouldn’t have been so relaxed, so comfortable.

Steadying yourself, you start to pace around the garden. A maze opens in front of you, but you veer off to the right of it, still cupping your injured hand. Although no pain aches through you, you can’t help feeling that your hand won’t be of much use. You wander through the lawn-space, great luscious flats of verdant colour, until your nose tells you that indeed roses decorate this space. Flocks of white roses sprout in bushels in a small flower garden with earthen rows like a chequer board. Roses trail from the garden, individually and loose, up a grassy knoll to the side of what, at first glance, looks like a manor house. You wouldn’t be surprised if it was. Apart from that you remember the past happenings—Hatter’s confession; finding the secret room; travelling through the mirror-portal—

Your head spins.

Enough until you almost collapse onto the nearest rose bush.

A roar from the distance rouses you. Or, rather, the immediate presence. You pass through the flower garden on tiptoes; beside the maze, the flower garden gives way to an orchard, or, near enough, a collection of trees. Here, the air is chillier, and your breath condenses quickly. You creep forward, step by step. Who is here?

“Show yourself,” you try and cry, but it comes out as a whisper, stuck in your throat.

It storms through the misty orchard, a gangly creature more land than being. A troll, whose head is more tree-canopy than head; its arms are trunks. And, no wonder you didn’t notice the troll, minus its roar, before. It’s practically invisible against the orchard.

Maybe you can just dart around it and continue through the garden?

No. It stands to its full height, soaking you in shadow and colder than the forest on its own.

You decide the best case of action is...

The End

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