Agnes’ shoulders dropped and she sighed loudly. ‘The truth is…I was careless. I loved him. And I gave my heart away -‘
‘But you said, he stole it.’
‘Joe,’ said Hel, ‘she means she gave it away metaphorically speaking.’
‘Yes. One night we…and then…when I woke up, he’d cut my heart out.’
‘But what did he want with your heart?’
‘I don’t know, do I?’ snapped Agnes. ‘I just want it back.’
‘Okay. Fair enough,’ said Joe. ‘So, what’s he like, this Woodcutter? Is he scary? What’s the plan of attack?’
‘The plan,’ replied Agnes, ‘is for one or two of us to distract him whilst the other sneaks into his cottage and steals it back.’
‘Good plan,’ said Joe, ‘any details?’
‘Well, as I’m going to be helping you get through the Valley of the Dead after I get my heart back, I was hoping that you might be able to have some input into the plan.’
How did I know that was coming, thought Joe.
There was a howl. Joe ignored it thinking it was Hel’s hounds.
‘How are we going to find our way through the forest?’ asked Hel.
‘Yeah, that will be a bit of a problem,’ said Agnes. ‘If we’re not careful we’ll end up losing each other in that thick fog.’
Joe was so tempted to ask why that was a problem. He kind of liked the idea of losing them. They were giving him a headache.
‘Any ideas?’ asked Agnes.
‘What?’ asked Joe.
She rolled her eyes. ‘Ideas so we don’t lose each other. IN. THE. FOG.’ She said the last words very slowly.
I’m not stupid, thought Joe, but unless he came up with an idea, and fast, he would end up looking stupid. Think, think, THINK!
Breadcrumbs? He thought to himself. No, crap idea. No doubt some shitty insects or birds would eat the trail. What about…
‘Got any string?’
‘Why on earth would I bring string?’
He shrugged. ‘They use a line when people go cave diving-‘
‘What has cave diving got to do with this?’
There was another howl.
‘Well, cave divers lay a line of string down so when visibility gets really low they can-‘
‘Still find there way back,’ finished Agnes. She ruffled his hair. ‘You’re not as stupid as you look, are you?’
‘But have we got any?’
‘String.’ God, thought Joe, this was getting really difficult. This is why he prefered working on his own.