If Alice was not a bumbling child in the nineteenth century but rather a modern,logical young adult;would Wonderland have turned out to be not so wonderful?
A Question of Sanity
'Breathe in,breathe out.Come on Allie,it's just two more then we can go home,finish that project thats due tomorrow,and take a nice cold bath.'
A single trembling effort to push the bar into the hands of her spotter to complete her third set failed,and Pat laughed as he pulled the barren bar to the cradle.She did not want to hear his grateing accent condescending her one downfall.She just knew he'd say it was because she was a girl,too.Sexist little farmboy from,where was it?,Liverpool or something equally gross sounding.
"Can't even do a set,how can you possibly sign yerself up for weightlifting,Alice?"Pat demanding,broad grin streching from ear to ear,chewing the apple he had lodged in his mouth while spotting Allie.That was so disgusting,watching the juice amble down his peach-fuzzed chin and resting there,waiting to drop on her!
"I'm going into weightlifting to get stronger,Pat.Not only that,but I had also done two set earlier.So please,next time you want to chat with me,make sure there's something intelligent in your mouth rather than an apple."She said as calmly as she could with her face falshing red from emotion,turning to the dumbells for curls.She liked her biceps big.
Grabbing the twenty pounder,she began her new strenuous excersice.While,she faced the mirror,as instructed,she didn't look at herself.It felt wrong,espcially since she went and wore the cooler clothes today.Too much of her pale skin was showing and everyone knew it.She knew she turned red at anything and she had permature wrinkles in the form of a scowl.Allie knew she should have wore the sweats today.
Five curls was a set and her goal was two sets in thrity minutes.She was still recovering from the first set when her cell's alarm went off,telling her to head home.So she packed up her stuff,said bye to Pat and Bill,their trainer,and left.
(Now,Pat and Allie know each other from school.They're both seniors in dual enrollment and taking most of the same classes.THey have a kind of hostile rivalry on the field,but it dwindled down to something slightly stronger than aquatainceship when off.They happened to join the same gym,looking to round off their college resumes with an athletic-weightlifting.THeir relationship won't be touched on but I thought out the backstory and it will be shown!)
Hopping into her hand-me-down compact,she drove the three miles home.Another alarm from her cell as she puts the key in the front door tells her she's still on time.Upstairs and to her room after checking in with her parents who had just discovered the power of the Facebook,Allie started to finish coloring her postor board for visual creativity.The colors were pointless,it was the facts that mattered,she would have been happier with a research paper.Once done,she waits for her alarm to go off to take a bath.
Cold running full blast and the plug set in;she brushed her teeth and removed her foundation and eyeliner.Still dressed,as that was the last part of her bathing ritual,she sat on the edge of the full tub to turn off the water and tug off her shoes.A glimmr of red on the floor of the tub made her pause,and Allie could not even scream in terror as a woman in red grabbed her about her waist and pulled her in
The Duchess of Diamonds
Allie feel through the water,the liquid rushing into her nose causing her to cough out what little air she had left.A few terrifying moments past and she hit what felt like a brick wall but appeared to be a wind storm.Where before she did not have enough,now she had too much pressing in from all sides,suffucating her until it felt her lungs would burst.She fell from that trial into fire.Still not recovered from the water and air,Allie's lungs were deprieved and sore.THe blistering heat made them shrink and it seared her eyes.It burned her bones as it melted her skin.Her fleshless fingers were just grazing solid earth when she died in the firey chasm she had fallen into.
'Life has nothing on Death,' was Allie's first thought.Reviewing the past moments only strenghtened that belief.Her body felt restored,clothes and all.She did not bother with aknowledging that she could think in Death,because then she'd have to admit that Pat was right and that there was an afterlife.Eternity in either torment or paridse just did not appeal to Allie.She wanted challanges and joy.Balance and all that good nonsense.
With a scowl,she admitted defeat to Pat,and on the off chance he could hear it,added a few imaginative curses.She opened her eyes for the first time since death and what she saw,she saw.
(by the way,the last five words are very remnicent of the opening poem in "Tales from the Nightside")
It was a scene from a horror fantasy film.Lopsided hovels twisted in gravity defying ways,the sky was an overcast rust with no sun to speak of,groaning trees with human limbs for branches,and the ground was covered in dark red plants,the cobbled streets paved with jewlrey,knives,and random trinkets;all bloody and some clutching skin.Someone clearly walked these dangerous roads.As for Allie,she would stick to the side where only a red mist from the grass painted her deneim clad legs,her shoes and socks already lost.She didnt know where she was goin,but it had to be better than here.
Ten gruelling minutes of slipping on the grass and cutting herself on the road from the fall,she noted the trees was queiting.Looking up from carefully placing her feet,she saw a church.Magnificent in size,it aspired to reach the heavens-no,in this world,in this life,whatever this was,it would be the ceiling.Demented in form,soul-shuddering in all its gargoyles and ghoulishly carved buttresses,it help one redeeming factor.There was a candle burning feebly in a humble ground window,possibly the kitchen Allie thought.Before the staring staues that littered the grisly yard could steal her courage,she walked towards it.
The door,embedded with blood and knife cuts,opened silently under the soft press of her hand.Inside,there was not a trace of red.Everything appeared to be a shade of blue,even the whites of small tiles on the floor.It was indeed a kitchen,a kitchen with a lightly blued oaken table at which sat a moderatly young woman dressed in Victorian style.
Her dress,obviously blue,as were her eyes and even her skin hinted at the pensive hue.At the top of her bodice rested a single blue rose from which dangled three amber tears,it was the only other color in the room and it stood out far more than it should have.Her nose was on the large side,but rounded rather than hooked,her mouth was shaped odd as well.It was sharp turns where soft curves should have been.Ridiculously,Allie was reminded of a diamond upon staring at her lips.
"Oh,hello dear,I was begining to wonder if the Rabbit would ever found you.Angler?Angler dear,"she called around Allie,obviously expecting another to be with her.She frowned suddenly,lines forming at her impressive mouth and high forehead."You made it here alone?Well,bully for you,but that doesn't explain where my Rabbit's gone off to.Best find him now before it gets too late for tea."
Rising stiffly from her simple chair,the Duchess walked to the threshold,but did not allow one bit of her outside."Angler?Come here,my dear!The girl's found herself,you need no longer search,my sweetness!"she paused a moment,frown still set in place."Angler,get back in here now or I'll close the door and won't open it 'til tomorrow!"her slightly syrupy voice had swiftly changed todeep and commanding,demanding to be obeyed.
Allie,still at the door,just outside the kitchen,while thourghly disturbed at the proxcimity of the yelling Duchess,stood her ground as the woman called out to Angler right by her ear.Allie was cut up,covered in blood not entirely her own,in a creepily strange place,dead,and now her ears hurt.A rage that before had been overpowered by fear and numbness now surged forth to fill every bit of her exhausted body,giving her newfound strength.She decked the Duchess in her diamondesque mouth.
The two weeks at the gym in which she had spent pushing a 45 pound bar up and down about ten times everyday gave her a stronger punch than before.It also made the pain she recieved that much worse.The Duchess' skin was as unyielding as,well,diamond-that is umtil she realized that she was being hit by her 'guest' as if she could not feel Allie's stronget punch.The skin then gave way with a sickening likeness to jello.The Duchess' skin rippled like water as it engulfed a third of her broken fist.Allie screamed,hurrying to huddle her mangled hand to her chest.
"Silly girl,whatever did you do that for?"scowled the Duchess,one eye still out the door."Hm,no on appreciates what I do for them."
"A-appreciate?You crazy freak,I'm dead!I don't owe anything to anybody,least of all you!"Allie screamed back in pain and anger,almost hysterical,but she refused to do so because then she would fill in one of the female stereotypes set by Pat.Even when dead,she hated it when he won.
"Tartness,I regret being the one to tell you,but you're not dead.You're Unlisted which is just about the same for a stranger to the land and also why -Angler!- should have brought you directly to me.But he didn't,you found me and I allowed you into my santuary and I get hit for my troubles!I demand some respect from you,you half-clothed heathen!"the Duchess shouted in her face,but Allie paid no heed to most of it as all she could hear was 'you're not dead'.
Wa,wa,wait!I died after being drowned on a freak ride through my tub."she began slowly."How can I not be dead"she questioned,stalling the hope that was rising through her chest and almost forcing her throat shut.
You're only a water then?It'll have to do.You're alive because I pulled you here before your time"she started somewhat impatiently but was interupted by her shaking vistitor.Allie pushed the Duchess this time,and the Duchess fell to the floor.Shock was clearly displayed on her odd features.
"You sick little meddlar,thee had best be a way to send me back!"
"Per-perhaps I should explain the situation to you."the Duchess managed,still in shock from the tumble."Firstly,"she began as she stared to flail herself up slowly,no longer able to look at Allie."My name is Delihla,the Duchess of Diamonds.And yours,sweet?"
Allie just glared,arms crossed,at the Duchess who was now on her knees.She headed into the kitchen,closer to the woman.The small wavering smile the Duchess gave broke and turned into a glare as well.
"Fine.But we can't have this converstaion here.You're Unlisted,and while I may not get many visitors I do get Vistits."she snapped as she stood and grabbed Allie's hand,dragging her outside the kitchen to a long hallway.She abruptly stopped and turned back to Allie."The main thing you need to know right now is not how you got here but how you'll stay alive to get back home.I won't tell you how until you complete a task for me.Now,you're Unlisted.When people die,the fall into the Expanse,from there they eventually land on a type of afterlife world.-You can die here,make no mistake about that.No one knows what happens after this life.-Those that fall here,in Wonderland,used to fall in either the club,the spade,the heart,or the diamond sector.It used to be that only the King,Queen,and their Child of each suit recieved a list of those fallen in their sectors,so they would be able to send aide to the poor things.But now,only the Queen of Hearts has that List.She'll hunt down and kill any Unlisted.Thing is,it's impossible to tell the differnece between a Listed and Unlisted unless you constantly have a Jabberwock-its a foot tall flying mecha-hovering about your ear or have the List,which is basically a map showing where everyone is.It's too complex for anyone but royals to understand.
The other thing is,since the Red Queen took over,Jabberwocks have been made in a steady flow,she's equipping her cards-her soliders with them.THe Red Queen constantly has them visit my house because her husband is having an affair with my mother.She's yet to prove it though,thank everything above.That's why I sent Angler to find you.Only he's not back yet.I'm not stupid,I know a Card must have gotten him-either holding him or killed him,it doesn't matter,the Cards taint efverything they touch.
To get back home,only you,as an Unlisted,can kill the Red Queen."
To Kill a Queen
Allie laughed,she couln't help it.This psycho had just given her a ridiculous ultimatum.Either kill the Queen of Hearts or don't go home.She continued laughing,tears forming in her eyes until her laughter morphed into silent sobs.She just wanted to go home!The Duchess merely stared at her,confusion written on her features.
"What?!"Allie demanded,her face drenched in tears and her nose begining to run."Never seen a person cry before?!"she hissed trying to covered her ruined visage.
"No,those Listed can't cry and I've never seen an Unlisted before you,"she murmured,moving as if to comfort the weeping girl."Tell me,is it true that Tears can wake the dead and heal those that are ill?"the Duchess demanded eagerly,attempting to catch the falling droplets.
Allie tried to shoo her off,incredulous.Was this place truly so different from home?If people here could not cry,what else could they not do?Laugh,love,HOPE?!Could they feel anything at all?!She sniffled,all tears stopped,staring at the Duchess who was regarding her with some form of awe.
"Why do I have to kill the Queen?If I'm goning to do this,I'mma have to have a reason.Someone else's life is more important that my going home and I can't hurt an innocent."
"Have no fear there,the Red Queen is no innocent,not by half.She's taken sectors not her own and overthrew the balance of Wonderland.She is wicked,and she is mad in her lust for power and control.She will not stop until the waters of the Diamonds run red,the farms of the Spades yield nothing but gravestones,the mountains of the clubs crumble under the weight of their dead,and the coffers of the Hearts overflow with crimson gold.And as it is she has nealy accomplished this goal;you will be my only hope,and I realize now how small that hope truly is!"the Duchess growled,glaring into Allie's eyes.Allie looked away first,shocked by the intensity in the others eyes.The Duchess continued her heated stare for another moment before the Unlisted spoke.
"My name is Alice but I go by Allie.How do I kill the Queen of Hearts?"she asked finally meeting the Duchess' eyes,her newfound resolve steadying her voice.