Two hours later, Jack was still weaving in and out of the twisted pathways of the Black Hollow forest. By this time of day, the sun was in the center of the sky, but Jack didn't feel a single ray of that sunshine and neither did Morgan.
"I'm cold." Morgan whined for the hundredth time.
"I know," Jack replied. He had learned very quickly that if he didn't acknowledge Morgan's pain she would screech her complaint louder and louder. He only had to learn that lesson once.
"Me too." Jack bit his tongue before the words "knock it off" escaped his lips.
A special crunch on the ground stopped him. He glanced down at the map while Morgan freely put her finger in her nose. The map explained a fork in the road and to take the hidden path down the center. According to the messy handwriting, the path could only be found by crushing it's spine. Jack looked down at his feet and the twigs crossed one on top of the other, forming a sort of vertebrae on the ground, we're now in disarray and many of those twigs were broken.
Jack looked up and as if by magic, and it probably was, the trees that blocked the center of the path fell away like the curtain of a stage. The warm sunlight shone through the forest and like a waterfall of light, enveloped the small cabin that rest up ahead.
"This is it, Morgan." He squeezed her hand and walked to the dilated house.
As they got closer, the door burst open. It was her. The old woman who helped Jack before and who he was certain helped Morgan. She would help them now, he hoped.
"Excuse me?" Jack called out, his voice shaking with nerves.
The old woman turned. Like the stereotype, she was dressed all in black. She had a beak looking nose with a wart on the crook. Her black hat was lopsided and she swept the front step with a broom that Jack assumed she also rode on at night.
"Oh hello! I was expecting the both of you!" She took off the hat and the nose and revealed a quaint older woman with bright eyes and probably belonged in a library reading books to children rather than keeping the Black Hollow forest safe.
"Ignore the silly costume! It's for Halloween!" She replied, reading Jack's mind.
"We have a -"
"Yes, yes." She squatted down to Morgan's level, who looked up at the old woman with eyes as round as the moon.
"You've caused some trouble young lady! Now...this won't do..." The woman grabbed something from her pocket and blew it in the face of Morgan.
"Hey-hey!" She shouted out, coughing all the while. But as she coughed, the dust swirled around her and with a blink of an eye, the beautiful girl he had fallen in love with stood before him once again.
"Wow, what happened?" Morgan said.
"Come in, my dears." The old woman said. She spun around to her cabin entrance and bolted through. "We have some business to tend to! It's finally time!"
Morgan and Jack exchanged glances.
"Time?" They said in unison.
The old woman appeared in the doorway again. "Yes, yes. You know. Destiny, fate, you two belonging together, ruling the magical Black Hollow forest together." She went back into the cabin. "Come in! I have scones!"
Tune in next week for the ending!