Chapter 3 Jabberwock

Hatter races the boat, going in and out of some small inlets, through areas where the trees grew in the water until he loses the scarab.  He then looks around for a place to hide the boat.

“Alice, we need to get off the water, it is only a matter of time before they find us.  See if ya can find a place that has a lot of trees close to the shoreline for us to hide the boat from the scarab.” Hatter keeps an eye and ear for the scarab as he drives.  The humming noise is distinctive to the scarabs.

Alice looks at him, thinking of how many places that he had gone through that had looked too tight for the boat but Hatter had somehow found a way through. Where had he learned to drive like that?

She thinks back to what Dodo says in the Great Library about Hatter and realizes that helping the Resistance is not as easy as Dodo had says.  Obviously Hatter has had to learn some skills, not just so he is able to keep his ‘plush existence’ as Dodo had called it, but to save his life.  And because he helped her, he has given up the few perks he had in repayment for all the risks he had taken.  Why did he do that?  ‘Alice, you need to focus, Hatter is asking that you help him,’ she thinks.

Alice looks around her surroundings then points out a spot down the way. It is a dense area of the woods with the trees growing down to the water and will shelter the boat from the air.  Even better about the location is that she can’t see a way for the scarab to land easily around it, giving them some time to get away and maybe even some time for her to think.

The con about the location is that they will have to go through an exposed portion of the lake to get there.

Hatter looks around and can’t find a better spot for them to get off the lake.  “No help for it, I guess.” Hatter mutters.

He glances around again and guns the boat for the tree line.  They make it safely.  Hatter then tells Alice to go stand and keep a lookout as he hides the boat from anyone being able to spot it easily from the air.

Alice is enthused about the time he is giving her to try to sort out all of what is going on!  She takes a deep breath, like she has been taught in the dojo, and tries to get her thoughts in order.

The first thing is that she is actually in Wonderland, a child’s story that is no longer a place for children.  From what Hatter has says it has been 150 years from the time of the book.  Many things have obviously changed since then.

She tries to think back to when her father was around and him reading the book with her at bedtime.  How they had laughed at the thought of animals speaking, well she had laughed; her father had tried to convince her that is a magical land, why wouldn’t the animals be able to speak?  She should ask Hatter some time about that. Wait.  Alice frowns as she wonders, why would she ask Hatter about that?

Alice then starts to think about what he has done for her.  Yes, he had tried to sell the ring for a cut, but since then, he has done nothing but take care of her.  He could have just left her behind at any point and saved himself.

Well, he did want to come to her world and he will need her help in that.  So maybe he is still using her.

And then there is Jack.  Did she ever really like him?  She had been ready to cut him out of her life but had stopped, feeling guilty since her Mom had pointed out that she seemed to do that to anyone she brought home to dinner.   Is all this due to that?  And…

‘What is that noise?’ Alice looks around nervously; maybe there is a reason that Hatter had asks her to be on the lookout and she should be paying attention.

Hatter places the last of the branches he had gathered on the boat.  He climbs the hill to where Alice is. “I dunno what that weirdo is leading the posse, but he sure as hell has a nose for blood.  And this is the place to find it.” Hatter’s voice drops and he loses that squeakiness as he looks around.

‘Hmm,’ Alice realizes that she has noticed that there are a couple of times he has done that and…

Then there is that noise again “What is that?” She asks him nervously.

Hatter looks in the forest and answers her as he tries to pinpoint where the sound is coming from, “There is things in these woods that defy imagination.”

Alice thinks, ‘Well wasn’t that cryptic enough?’  She watches him as he moves away, up into the forest.

Hatter moves away from her, they need to get Alice somewhere safe. “C’mon we haven’t got much time.” He climbs up the hill, but when he looks back, she still is not following.  Alice and her curiosity! Hatter knows that she isn’t the Alice of Legend.  For one thing she is not blonde and for the other…

“Look we can’t we shake the posse… we can’t fight them either.  There is only one thing left to try.” He stares down at her, hoping she will understand.

Alice replies, “What’s that?” She looks around, afraid.

Hatter feels bad about that, he wishes she hasn’t only be subjected to the negative side of Wonderland.  To hopefully calm her, he tells her the plan he has so far, “Lead them into a trap.”  She looks at him shocked.  He sighs to himself and tells her, “C’mon now.”

Alice realizes that she has bare seconds to tell him something that has been eating away at her.  ”Wait.” She says, hoping he will listen.

Hatter turns around and says, “Alice-”

She interrupts him, “I know we need to get moving but I just wanted to tell you, thank you.  Thank you for helping me.  I know it’s not enough to adequately cover all you lost and all you are doing to help me but…thank you.”

The look on Hatter’s face softens and he tells her, “You’re welcome.”  Then he holds out his hand to her, “Now we need to get moving, I really want us to be as far from that creature as I can get us.”

Alice looks at him holding his hand out to her, making a decision, she walks up to him placing her hand in his.

Hatter smiles at her and turns to start moving off into the forest. “We need to keep as quiet as possible.”

He enjoys the feel of her small hand in his.  Now, if only he can keep her safe.

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They have been moving through the woods for awhile with Hatter helping Alice over the roots and other obstacles in the forest.  He keeps hearing some noises and reluctantly gives up her hand, moving forward so he can be prepared in case anything comes at them.  He cautions her in trying to keep as quiet as possible but with the climb it is getting harder to hide their passing through the forest.  He hears her trying to catch her breath and cautions her again, “Try to keep your breathing shallow.”

Alice is puzzled, keep her breathing shallow?  Like the twigs snapping under their feet wouldn’t be enough to alert something they are out here!  And… there is that noise again.

Hatter stops trying to figure out where the noise is coming from, so he can get Alice headed the opposite way to hide.

Alice comes up behind him and grabs his arm, asking him, “Did you hear that?”  That sound is a lot closer and definitely not something she ever heard on the nature specials on TV.

Looking for a place for Alice to hide, Hatter replies, “Yep…  you should find a tree you can climb.” He needs to keep her safe and she should be safeish in a tree.  Once he has gotten away from the posse he should be able to come back and get her.

Alice is shocked, “What? Why?”  As she asks him, she thinks, ‘Why am I going to climb a tree?’  And how the heck is she going to climb a tree?  Does he not notice she is in a dress?!

Hatter replies, “The trap we talked about?”  He turns around and looks at her.  ‘I need to keep Alice safe,’ he says to himself.  He tries to explain, hoping that she will listen, “This is it.” He again looks around trying to see a tree for her to climb and also how close the creature is, as he continues to tell her, “I am the bait.” He looks down at Alice and wonders, ‘Why is she not moving?’  He starts to move away so he can hopefully lead the creature away from her as he tells her, “Go.”

Alice is taken aback by his statement, “Wait…what is it?” What does he mean that he is the bait?  Bait for what?  She tells him, “Tell me.”  When he continues to walk away, she runs after him trying to figure out what he is planning.

Hatter stops to look around trying to see where it is.  Alice runs up and grabs his arm with both hands and he turns in shock to her. What is she doing, can’t she see that he is trying to protect her?  Thinking that she might leave if he answers her question, he tells her, “It’s the jabberwock.”

Alice stares at him, what is a…a… “What?”

Hatter looks at her.  Alices and their curiosity!  She needs to go hide!  He tells her as he turns her to face the opposite direction of the beast, “Alice, less of the questions. Just get going!” with that he gives her a gentle push in the opposite direction hoping that she will get moving.

Alice wants to make sure she has his plan right.  No one can be THAT self sacrificing!  “You’re going to lead this thing to the posse?”

Hatter closes his eyes in exasperation, ‘ALICE!!’  Why can’t she let go of her questions???  She will not be safe unless she gets moving! “Yes, after he gets a good look at me.  Now, can you just please go!”  Why can she not let him keep her safe? It’s not like he had the Vorpal Sword!

Alice just stares at him, OMG. THAT is his plan?  To try to get himself killed?’ That is uncompreshensible to her and she clarifies just to make sure, “That’s your plan?!”

Hatter looks at her exasperated and worried; he tries to explain to her, “If you don’t-”

As usual, he is interrupted.  This time by a roar and the sounds of the jabberwock’s footsteps.

Hatter looks at Alice as she looks back at him frightened, wishing that his worries didn’t have to be justified this way.  The time for Alice to hide is over.

The jabberwock comes around the tree and they both stare at it in shock.

Hatter tries to think of a way that the plan can still work.  He will need to come up with a diversionary tactic so that Alice can get to safety.  He tells her softly, “Run”

They break away from each other and he takes off back towards the boat.  He only gets a short distance down when he realizes the jabberwock is moving in the opposite direction. Hatter grinds out in frustration, “Not that way!”

And where is Alice?!?  Hatter looks around for her and as the beast sways a little bit, he can see that she is running the opposite way and that the Jabberwock is chasing after her! He is scared for her and says in exasperation, “Alice!!” He runs after them.  He cannot let anything happen to his Alice!

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Alice took off running, thinking that if she had any foreknowledge of all the running she is going to do in this world, she may have not worn these shoes!  She looks behind her and sees the jabberwock is coming after her.  Alice wonders, where is Hatter?  Did he leave her?

As she runs, Alice notices that the creature is not very smart and follows her moves exactly.  This gives her an idea and she looks for a place to maybe trap it.  She notices two trees that are growing close enough together that if she can get through them, it may trap the jabberwock if he doesn’t wise up first.

Enacting her plan, Alice runs between them but as she is almost free, she trips and falls.  Rolling desperately to her back so that she can face the beast,  Alice sees that her plan worked, and that it followed her into the trap, but now she is trapped also!  She can’t get up with its head a mere foot from her, snapping and roaring!

Hatter catches up to them and notices what his clever little Oyster has done.  But with typical Alice luck she has tripped and is now trapped by the jabberwock.  He runs up to Alice’s side and almost falls from the animal’s bellow.  He thinks quickly to save his Alice and uses his sledgehammer to punch the creature in the eye.  As it rears back crying, he picks her up while asking, “C’mon.”  Asking her as he pulls her after him away from the jabberwock, “You ok?”

Alice almost falls with relief, Hatter!!! He did come after her!  And rescues her yet again! She tells him as she gets her feet under her and they start to run, “Yeah, thanks!”

Hatter wishes he can do more than pull her after him.  His relief in finding her is unbelievable.  He does what he can and tells her, “Good. C’mon.”

Hatter helps her over the tree stump steadies her with a hand on her back as he encourages her to run.  He looks back to see that the Jabberwock has broken one of the trees and is after them again.  He has an almost indescribable need to make sure she is safe.  What he would give for Chess to show up!

As they run together, trying to get away from the creature, they see a slight clearing and make for it.  If they can make the clearing, they can try to pick up some speed, since they are having a problem with all the roots.

They make it to the clearing only to have the ground give way underneath them.

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“Oww.” Hatter utters, moving first and looking around. He notices the stakes and how close Alice and he had been to impaling themselves on one when they had fallen.  If they had fallen just a little bit more to the…wait is she ok? He turns his head and is relieved in seeing her ok, but why is she not moving?  With worry in his voice, he asks her, “You ok?” and watches her closely as she answers.

Alice catches her breath and nods as she gets her breath back from the fall.  She tells him, “Just about”.  Alice looks around and wonders, ‘Where did this pit come from?’  And the stakes…they can have been killed when they fell!  Who would dig something like this out here and leave it where anyone can get themselves hurt?  And is Hatter ok?’  Before she can ask him, they hear the jabberwock roar.

Hatter froze where he can still see her and make sure she is ok, “Stay still.” It cannot hurt her; it is not even an option!  He tries to think of what he can do, but he can’t think of what he can do if it attacked them in the pit.  He watches the jabberwock and Alice, praying for a miracle.

The jabberwock sticks his head in the pit and notices Alice.  It comes after what it thinks is easy prey but gets stabbed in the throat by one of the stakes.  It cries out and manages to get his head unstuck and pulled his head out.

Hatter and Alice hear it move off, both of them relaxing for a second.  Before they can do anything else, they hear someone say, “Vermin!”  They both snap their heads up and see an old man all in white armor. He continues to rant at them saying, “Saboteurs…anarchists!”

The old man glares at them as he tells them, “I was this close to catching him!”  Then he thinks more about it and changes the position of hands to indicate a larger chance. “This close.”

He glares at them again as he calls them, “Degenerate bagheads!”

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2 Comments

  1. The OTHER Mrs. Northman

    I’m so loving this story!!!!! Well done!!! On to Ch 4!!! SQUEEE!!!

    Reply

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