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You Would Be Mad Too: Part 1

 

The Tweedles were shifting nervously outside the crevasse. One of them kept blocking Alice’s meager light as she searched the dirt floor with her quick, slender fingers. She didn’t bother reprimanding them, beside she didn’t know which one was doing it. She couldn’t tell them apart in the dark and didn’t bother to in the day. Scraps of leather and bits of thread made their way into her hands and were dropped as soon as she identified them. A pin prick stopped her. Sucking the drop of blood off of her left thumb she picked the bent leather needle up with her right hand and looked it over  gingerly and smiled to herself. A small number 5 was etched into the thick of the handle just below the eye. It was his last one, so she should be able to gain some ground on him if he went to any of the villages to replace it. Which he would because he was predictable. Slippery, but predictable.

“Alice, they are watching us,” whined one of the Tweedles.

“Then  watch  them back or you’ll offend them won’t you?” she replied sharply.

The Spade-men had been dead for a few nights already. Once the sight would have bothered her, but she had been trapped here too long now. That fact was why she chased the Hatter. The rabbit had led her down here, but he wouldn’t be leading her back. The Hatter had seen to that. The white rabbit hadn’t been dangerous  on his own, not like the Spade-men were, but he was still employed by the Red Queen of Harts and he belonged to the Hatter now. More importantly his pocket watch belonged to the Hatter and the pocket watch was what mattered. It was the key to the rabbit hole.

The Tweedles were starting to whimper and Alice rolled her eyes, wiping her hands on her dress skirt as she squatted  in the small space. She crawled out from under the rock and glanced up at the moon sliver shinning down on them. The scraps of leather she had found were stretched and thin. Hatter was likely near the end of his stock of it as well as his favorite needles. He would need a larger town than the mushroom forest could offer to the west and he had come from the east. South was firmly in the thick of Hartland; he wasn’t likely to go that way. North it was. North was Diamond town on one road and marsh country on another. She had just come from Diamond town, so that left only the Marsh. The plants there grew giant flowers with teeth that devoured anything caught in their sickly, sweet sap, and the twining vines would drag weary travelers down into the root balls of the voracious trees when the low, friendly whispers of the wind through the singing reeds lulled them down to rest. Marsh country also sported tea.

Alice smiled and took up her bundle from the ground where she left it. The burlap wrapped bundle was her bargaining chip for the Hatter. Mad as he was she was unlikely to get the watch just for the asking. She had been chasing the watch for long enough to know his habits, and the marshes would offer only poor quality leather. Jabberwocky leather never lost its suppleness, and never succumbed to  dry rot. Hatter would not be able to resist.

“Let’s go Tweedles, we need to go to Mallow-town.”

She led them past the trees. A breeze kicked up behind them and swung the hooded Spade-men heads where they hung. The Tweedles shivered and swayed side to side as they walked mimicking the night dance that slowly faded from view as they walked on.

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