Something quite nasty is following me. I can hear its breathing, around the corner, in the dark. Herbert the Wizard is nowhere to be found. I have only my back pack, his magic lantern and the sneaking suspicion that something quite nasty is following me.

   I played the lantern forward on the path; the trees formed a cul-de-sac. There was no ready way out and the dense dark of the twisted trees, was not negotiable.

  The quite nasty breathing got much louder.

  Quickly but deliberately, I scanned the circle of trees with the magic lantern, memorizing what I could. I clicked off the light and stood very still, waiting for my eyes to adjust to the dark.   I reasoned that if I could see by the lantern, so could the something quite nasty.

  I have been frantically searching for Herbert for days.
  I was tired of being wet and cold; tired of being pursued and abused. I was tired of the dark (and it really was getting quite dark, now.)
  "It really is getting quite dark now." I said aloud and meant it. Somehow the quavering whisper did not reassure me as I thought it might.

  Dusk had deepened to darkness rapidly and I was chilled by more than the night air.
  As I moved the lantern from tree to tree, maws of utter darkness swallowed the light. Several branching paths moved off into the night.
  The something (which was quite nasty) would not be far behind.
   Before long, I could make out the gray outlines of the trees against the ebony darkness, behind. I moved slowly around the circle, listening painfully hard. The path was silent.
  I heard a sharp noise to my left. Moving closer into the trees, and deeper in shadow, I also moved into a large, sticky, spider web. Recoiling from the web, I spun around and took a single step.
  I bashed my head on a tree limb and rendered myself unconscious.

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Revised: October 28, 2000 .

The Science Of Magic