Chapter 28

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Darkness was claiming the forest much faster than Brandon would have liked. Evelyn was still unconscious on the ground, a state that Brandon was unable to change regardless of his efforts. No amount of shaking or yelling had so much as stirred her steady breathing for over twenty minutes. Panic was threatening to set in, calmed only by the fact that Evelyn had told him that these kind of spells had happened before. Still, nervous glances at the dying rays of sunlight told him he needed to do more than just shake her and hope for the best.

Reluctantly, Brandon reached into his back pocket and pulled out his phone. He was going to need help with her, the idea of carrying Evelyn all the way to her house in her current state was simply out of the question. The phone's screen came to life at his touch, bright enough in the evening shadows to force his eyes to waste time adjusting to the light. It gave Brandon a final idea. Gently opening one of Evelyn' eyelids with his thumb, he held the screen inches from her face. Predictably, it did nothing.

"Damnit," he mumbled, turning the phone back to himself. It took his eyes few seconds of squinting to adjust once more, but eventually he was able to navigate the menus and click on Evelyn's house number with an unsteady thumb. This was going to be fun to explain. Predictably, Lenny picked up the other line after a single ring.

"Evelyn?" His voice was tense, with more than just a bit of worry breaking through.

"No, no, this is Brandon. Look, something happened while she was practicing her magic and now I can't wake her-"

"Where are you?" Lenny interrupted, sighing with relief.

"Um, just past town, not too far into the national forest preserve."

"What end of town? Main Street or the south end?"

"South end, Evelyn didn't want to risk getting seen."

"OK," Lenny said, "she should be fine, this has happened before. A few times. Carry her close enough to the road to see us but keep her hidden. We'll be there in a couple minutes, just wave us down."

The phone beeped in Brandon's ear as Lenny hung up. He looked down at Evelyn, still unconscious on the ground. "At least I'm not going to have to carry you all the way home," he said, bending down to pick her up. Evelyn didn't weigh all that much, maybe one fifteen, but Brandon had a couple hundred yards of darkened forest to navigate, and he wasn't exactly a body builder.

"You know," Brandon mumbled as he struggled to carry Evelyn through the narrow and uneven path, "it would have been nice if your little buddy had stuck around to help. He could have at least thrown some of his magic fairy dust or grown some enchanted daffodils to make things a little easier on me."

Evelyn only moaned softly in her sleep, still showing no signs of waking. By the time Brandon spotted the opening of the path his arms were burning and protesting his efforts. He made a mental note to get into better shape, no telling when something like this would happen again. He lowered Evelyn down gently beside some low growing bushes and stepped beyond the entrance. A few cars passed by without slowing down, their colors muddied and unidentifiable in the low light of early nightfall.

Brandon kept himself close to the woods, using the shadows to hide from any passing eye that may be tempted to stop and offer help he didn't want. Thankfully he didn't have to wait long. A few minutes after stepping off the path he spotted a car moving slowly half off the road, headlights on high as if looking for something. Brandon stepped out and waved his arms until he was sure he had been spotted. The car sped forward and came to a stop just as Brandon lifted Evelyn off the ground.

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