The night air sang a mournful tune, and the air above swirled hotly. Caroline was saying something, some overly ornate curse upon the Jabberwocky now squealing a hideous death rattle. Something like a thunderclap concluded the din, and all was silence.
"Harlan," she said weakly, "I...I think I've gone and done it." Scrambling to my feet I caught her just in time, the dear thing had exhausted herself. Looking back into the woods I couldn't help but have the word 'overkill' come to mind. The young rarely see any point in restraint.
Rather than mull over the charred corpse of a monster I turned and trudged down the hill, toward the brightness. Half of the way down the hill I realized my bag was leaking, leaving a trail of morsels, an amateur mistake. I had to leave Caroline propped up by a stump for an hour while I doubled back to retrieve our traces, precious little clues as to our direction of flight.
Another hour of lugging her surprisingly heavy little body and Caroline and I were seated in the heart of the brightness, a greasy spoon truck stop. I don't know what the waitress spoke, but it wasn't English. A bit of finger poking at a menu, and I had hot coffee for me, and hot cocoa and some eggs for when the little darling woke up.
Just when the caffeine-riddled warmth of the coffee was starting to have a happy effect, they walked in. Their sallow, angular faces turned this way and that. To most, they blend it pretty well, but I'd know those lackeys anywhere--cards, pathetic little minions for the Queen of Hearts.
Apparently, Caroline's little show at the edge of the woods had not gone unnoticed.