Alice paused from her interior recitation of“Jabberwocky” to ask, “What don’t you understand?”
“Your life line... it doesn’t make sense.”
“You have three parallel lines where your life line should be. I’ve never seen anything like this.” After a pause, the fortune teller asked, “This is going out on a limb, but... have you ever had any near-death experiences?”
A bolt of pain seared through Alice’s arm. “Shit,” she shrieked, “not now!”
“Miss? What’s wrong?” Soon the fortune teller saw what was wrong. The three parallel lines on Alice’s palm began to bulge outward, until it became clear that these were scratches formed from a creature... inside Alice’s skin. The skin sliced open, allowing the monster to climb out a bit at a time. The fortune teller, in shock, stepped back, unable to vocalize.
The creature was massive; fitting inside Alice’s body was a cramp-inducing fit. The poem usually kept it captured, but the sorcerer’s spell had failed this time. Alice had relaxed just long enough--
“Hey, jerk. Look at me.”
The Jabberwock sneered at Alice... until it spied what she held in her hand... pointed under her throat.
“You wouldn’t do that,” it hissed. “The sorcerer admired your purity. He wouldn’t have chosen you as the vessel had he thought you could ever go through with killing yourself.”
“Ludovicus didn’t know you as well as I do,” she spat.“You come from a place that exists in nonsense. The current world has no place for gryphons and dodos, cabbages and kings. Without me, you have no keeper. With no keeper, you cease to exist. My charge was my curse. With me dead, you’ll have no keeper.” She looked at the fortune teller and the Jabberwock followed her gaze. “Sorry,” Alice said before shooting the fortune teller in the chest.
The monster screamed and dove, hoping to reenter Alice’s body, hoping to stop her from pulling--
The gun went off. Alice’s brains splattered the fortune teller’s parlor ceiling. For one brief moment, the monster knew fear. And then it heard a gasp for air. It grinned. “You haven’t killed me, little girl.”
That night, the fortune teller awoke in a hospital room. A police detective waited beside his bed. “Well, well,” the cop said. “Look who’s awake. I’ve got some questions for you.”
“What happened?” the fortune teller asked.
The cop laughed. “I’d been hoping you could tell me. You were shot by a young woman whose ID labeled her Alice Dodgson, but it’s probably a fake. She had wounds on her right arm, and she blew her brains out shortly after she shot you. Any idea why?”
An unpleasant memory occurred to the patient. “What happened to the monster?”
“Monster?” the cop echoed.
A voice inside the fortune teller’s head said, “Do you really want to see ‘the monster’ again, so soon?” Panicking, he glanced down at his right hand. Three parallel scars on his palm met his gaze... and slightly bulged outward. He screamed.
The Jabberwock laughed. Today it had learned that it needed its keeper content enough to stay alive. Still, that didn’t mean it couldn’t have a little fun occasionally.