I didn't think we were going to get past the people with the torches. They'd spread out, and others came racing along the road and leapt out of their cars. Edmond and I both crawled for a long ways, sometimes huddling close together. You do not see us ... you do not see us. I couldn't be certain if the magic worked or if we just got lucky. They moved on.
A ditch, half-filled with mud, provided the best cover. People walked everywhere around us for a while, but the madness seemed to die down almost as quickly as it had started.
"Damn fool thing to do," one of the men grumbled as he and a companion went by far too close. "Could have set fire to half the county."
"We never jumped at ghosts and goblins before," another replied. "We need to stop running around in circles."
"The war is in the east, whatever is real about it. Let them keep it there."
"Yeah," the other man agreed. "And I'm gonna tell that to the next government man who comes and riles things up."
And they walked on. I was glad to have heard some human reasonableness, but that didn't mean I felt safe. We stayed in the mud, though until all the sounds were gone and the night had settled in around us. Edmond slept for a while again. I think I did for a little while, too -- and awoke again, afraid that I'd not been on guard, that something could have found us.
There weren't many cars on the road the other side of the ditch. I would have liked to walk that easier path, but I clawed my way up and into the field again instead. Edmond moved cautiously with me. We got lucky, and I found a path through the wheat that was easy enough to follow.
Less an hour later I heard a train whistle and found the location of the tracks. Across the road, of course, and now a few miles away. We were near a stand of trees, though.
"Let's sit down and eat," I suggested. I hadn't talked much and neither had Edmond. "I have tuna sandwiches."
I saw his tail come straight up, the sign of a happy cat. At least I'd done something right today. I still wasn't sure how they'd spotted me, though. I said so to Edmond, too.
"Humans are always ready to panic," Edmond said. We sat down behind the trees. The moon was going down, and I wished we could rest here for a long time, but it wasn't going to happen. "They are not the most stable species in the world. Or any world, as far as I can tell."
"Probably true," I agreed. I handed sat down half a sandwich for him, and he started eating it, bread and all. He purred, too. That put me in a better mood like I had done something right.
"We are still too far from where we need to be," I said, staring out at the land as the sun started to come up. "We're going to have to catch another train, but it's going to be dangerous crossing the road --"
And right then I saw that we didn't have to. Another train was going by, heading west and I realized the tracks must have curved because it was now almost straight ahead of us. I took that as a good sign. I needed one.
Another good sign was the line of clouds and the drizzle that started not long after we started out again. Neither of us liked being wet, but even Edmond admitted that the rain would help keep people from seeing us.
"I wish humans weren't so stubborn in what they believe," Edmond admitted. He nestled in my jacket and with just a touch of magic, he wasn't so difficult to carry this way. "They want to believe that magic is evil without ever looking at what might be happening -- like there are two sides fighting and they might want to join with one of them."
"True," I agreed. We'd been moving along the tracks for most of the long, wet day. The only train heading in our direction had been going far too fast for me to dare magic to grab hold. I hoped we wouldn't have to go too far before we found some place where they slowed.
Our journey was taking too long, though. I worried about our friends, and though I didn't say anything aloud, I knew that Edmond worried, too. I had never felt so useless before. I had never felt so cut off from everything I understood.
I wished I could call my mom. That probably came from being back in this reality. I pushed the thought away.
Sometime in the afternoon, we skirted around a house and out into a field. A scarecrow stood over a stand of corn, his arms flapping in the damp wind.
"I don't like scarecrows," Edmond admitted. "And if this one starts talking --"
"I wouldn't keep going the way you are if I were you," a voice said.
Edmond leapt out of my jacket and attacked the scarecrow, tearing it apart. I stepped back and watched, glancing at the woman who stepped away from the tree nearby and watched.
"Just let him get it out of his system," I suggested.
She nodded, graying hair damp, glasses pushed down on her nose. She wore a big, heavy leather jacket and watched Edmond with what looked like a nod of appreciation at what a good job he was doing. The head was gone, the arms were following.
"I only meant to tell you that they're waiting for you at the next train stop," she said "You might not want to go that way. I'll give you a ride."
"Why?" I asked. Even Edmond had stopped and taken notice.
"Why? Because someone has to be smart."
To Be Continued....