The world became suddenly brighter. Abby Montgomery felt a sudden shift in the atmosphere. Her ears popped and the air went from a dark rain to a humid summer heat. She stared around her in shock.
"What is going on?"
Abby stumbled forward and gaped. Wasn't this the same meadow and tree line from the watercolor painting in Edmund's cabin? How was this possible?
She turned around and realized she was no longer where she used to be. The cabin was gone.
"This isn't happening," she muttered.
"I'm afraid it is, actually," said a deep male voice.
Abby was startled as a man suddenly approached her from the south. He was a dapper-looking older gentleman, a little older than her father. He was wearing a crisp suit that must have been tailored for him. He pulled a pocket watch from his vest and regarded it thoughtfully.
"We have three hours until another door opens," he said mysteriously.
"Energetic gateway, actually. A window in time. It's difficult to explain, but we must not tarry here. We have to seek shelter."
His voice hinted at a danger she couldn't contemplate.
"Why?" Abby could see the man was nervous.
"People don't tend to live long if they stay in the clearing."
It was then she noticed the red spatter dotting the leaves of tree line like some sort of scarlet fungus.
"Is that blood?"
"Unfortunately, yes. My flat-mate, Mr. Doyle wasn't quite as fortunate as you."
The man leaned down and pulled a small package from between the leaves of a nearby bush, shoving it beneath his arm. She didn't ask what it contained but figured it must be valuable if indeed there was a lurking danger here.
"If my companion hadn't dropped this in the struggle, I wouldn't even be here." He gestured to a dirt path sloping off to the right encouraging her to follow. He noticed her hesitation. "I assure you, madam, it's perfectly safe with me. I'm a doctor, you see. My flat-mate and I have worked many cases with Scotland Yard.
"Scotland Yard? Are you serious?" Abby goggled at the thought. "Who are you, Sherlock Holmes or something?"
The man chuckled. "I'm not as quite as clever as he, I'm afraid. Although, my companion fancies himself something of a detective."
He peered down the road toward the horizon and extended his hand toward Abby. "Post haste, madam. The darkness threatens."
Abby didn't know why she thought she could trust the man. There was something endearing about him, something almost familiar.
As the two disappeared down the path leading north a shadow darkened the tree line. Something lurked in the darkness, something that was a dangerous threat to anyone who ventured in through the watercolor painting... And Abby was his next victim.