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Wonderland: Lucy's Tale - Chapter Nine

Lucy and Alice take the other fork.

Much had changed this time in Alice’s nightmare world. We both recognized the setting, and yet both of us were aware that something wasn’t quite right. Oh, the changes were subtle and had we not walked this path so many times before, we might not have noticed them, but they were there. The color of the sky was a little off, for one, and the sounds seemed muted. Ominous shadows still lurked at the corners of our comprehension, only this time they seemed darker, swallowing the light like hungry monsters. Why we simply didn’t stay put until the dream was over, I’ll never know. Perhaps we would have still been forced into the wood to confront the cat and make our choice upon which path to take. Perhaps nothing would have changed. Or perhaps, for once, we’d be spared the horrors of the Mad Hatter’s tea party.

We kept to ourselves as we walked hand in hand through the thicket of trees, noting that they too seemed slightly off. Something about them just didn’t seem right, although I couldn’t put my finger on it. And then the fork arrived, or rather we arrived at it, and the tiger like cat gave its speech and Alice turned to the left and I began to follow her.

The Queen’s words suddenly filled my mind, filling my thoughts almost painfully.

"The right fork, Lucy! Take the right fork!"

It was as if she was there beside me, screaming at me without end. I clamped my ears, trying to keep the sound out, but it soon became too much to take and I faltered, almost staggering under the onslaught. Alice, concern written upon her pretty features, wrapped her arms around me, pulling my cheek to hers, smoothing my hair with tender strokes.

"What is it, Lucy?"

She repeated the words over and over until finally I was able to reply, my voice quiet and shaking. "Not this path… the other one…" I finally managed, the effort exhausting me of words but not of actions. I pointed, albeit weakly, in the other direction, and that seemed to quiet her immeasurably. At least for the moment.

Finally, I was in command of my voice once more. "We should go the other way. Safer. He won’t be waiting for us there."

Alice’s brow knit as if my words spurred memory within her, one that was too slippery to grasp. Of course she had to remember what happened in the clearing in the woods each and every time, and yet it was beyond her, just as it was beyond me to actually tell her. Why, I have no idea. The rules of dreams elude me even now. All I can say for sure is that somehow the memory of each previous dream was wiped from her mind the moment she stepped back into this twisted Wonderland.

Her blue eyes held my gaze, looking thoughtful and trusting. It seemed to me that she fought an inner conflict and all I could do was watch and hope. Finally, she seemed to make up her mind and her face became serene, her smile gentle. Perhaps she meant to appease me. It mattered not, as long as I had convinced her to let me take the lead.

"Ok, Lucy. We’ll go right."

And so it was decided. We took the right fork, God help us.

At first I couldn’t tell the difference between the two. The same shadowy figures seemed to stalk us, forever at the edges of our awareness. The same trees lined the path in an un-orderly fashion, blocking our view of whatever it was that lay beyond. The sun snuck through in places, filtered by branch and leaf, leaving us in perpetual dusk and the sound of our footsteps seemed dull upon the dirt path. And then, things changed. Not significantly, but certainly it was hard not to take notice when the hard packed earth became cobblestones beneath our feet and the trees seemed to space themselves out as if someone had taken care to plant them just so.

I thought this was a good sign, and squeezed Alice’s hand, turning to smile at her. Her face looked haunted, her eyes shifting left and right. I could feel her fingers trembling in mine. She was afraid. Of what, I had no idea. For one brief moment I wondered if she knew something that I didn’t, wondered if perhaps we should turn back. I ignored the thought, instead giving her hand a reassuring squeeze and pulling her along beside me as we slowly went in search of the unknown.

We found it soon enough, and it was magnificent. Not a simple clearing populated by awful creatures, but instead a great castle straight from a fairy tale rising up from the midst of the wooded surroundings. Pennants flew from the pinnacled roofs of rounded towers. A barrier barred the entrance, a portcullis I think they are called, that let us see into the courtyard beyond the thick stone walls. I looked up. Flags flew from the gatehouse, matching the pennants perfectly bearing a single red heart upon a field of white. The walls were decorated with single stone blocks spaced evenly out like teeth, giving a slightly menacing look to an otherwise childlike creation.

Beyond the gateway entrance, the courtyard stood empty, the only movement from the fountain that was its centerpiece. Beyond, lay what I could only assume was the royal palace, so grand was it. To either side stables and warehouse, barracks and work rooms.

"Look, Alice. A Castle," I said needlessly, my voice giddy.

"I see it, Lucy.

It wasn’t her words that sent a shiver up and down my spine and made me pause. Rather it was the tone of her voice, sounding as if hope had suddenly been leeched from her. It was the voice of the condemned as they were led down the dead man’s walk to meet their maker. Wrapping her up in an embrace, I pulled her against me until even I couldn’t tell where I ended and she began, and whispered reassurances to her.

Nodding, she shrugged herself free and stepped back, a measured sigh escaping her, purposefully not meeting my gaze as she turned her attention to the courtyard before us.

"I suppose we should figure out a way in."

Dreams are magical creatures that react to your whims, or so I believe. This one certainly was, for no sooner had she voiced her intent than the gate rose, slowly creaking until only its sharp fangs could be seen above our heads. I had a sudden premonition, staring inwards, thinking how much it looked like the maw of a beast and yet, the courtyard was so perfect and pretty. Shaking the worry free, I led Alice through the gate and to her fate.

I suppose it would have been more fitting if, once beyond the archway, the portcullis had come crashing down or there had been an alarm sounded somewhere in the distance or… something had signaled our arrival. Nothing. We were met with eerie silence and I began to have my own doubts. The only thing was, turning back might lead once more to the man in the green velvet suit and his beastly minions. Nothing could be worse then being forced to watch them do the unspeakable to the love and light of my life. Nothing I could imagine, leastwise. Oh, but I was so young and inexperienced and there were so many things that I had yet to imagine.

With nothing to guide us, we made our way across the cobblestones of the courtyard. As we walked, I couldn’t help but take notice of how well groomed everything was. No weeds pushed themselves up between the stones, no leaves blanketed the grounds. It was immaculate. Of course, it was a dreamscape, so it wasn’t that strange that there might be some sort of order imposed on the place. Still, it gave me an inexplicable chill dwelling upon it.

Another thing that worried at my mind was the silence. No bird calls, no rustling of leaves, nothing. Even our own steps and every breath we took were muted. It was unnatural to say the least and certainly would have put me on edge if I hadn’t already been there. Alice, too. I could tell by the way she held tightly to my hand, her grip almost painful, her palm damp with nervousness, that she was afraid. Something eventful was going to happen here. Whether good or bad, I had no idea, but we both could feel it.

As we neared the palace, the door opened and she stepped out. The librarian, her stern face looking down upon us through gold wire framed glasses. She was dressed in somber gray, and her hair was up in a bun, looking like it was pulled too tight for comfort.

"I see you finally decided to accept our invitation," she said, her harsh voice reminding me of a crow’s caw. "She has been waiting, but her patience has grown thin."

Ushering us inside, we traversed a short hallway that led to a longer, more magnificent one. There was little doubt that we were in a place of great wealth and prestige. Chandeliers of cut crystal lined the way and works of art the would put the Louvre to shame graced the walls. As we walked, our steps echoed down the great corridor. Gold flecked blue tile covered the floor, leading towards a pair of double doors, a great heart carved upon their surface, divided perfectly in two. Thinking back on it, it’s a wonder I didn’t take heed of the symbolism.

It was to that door that the Librarian led us, halting us both in our tracks with a single glance.

"Now, remember your manners. You are to curtsy before the throne, and whatever you do, do not speak unless spoken to."

Wordlessly, we both assented, nodding in unison, our eyes upon the door. So hard did we stare that it was a wonder we couldn’t see through the gilt laminated panels. I suddenly felt shabby in my leotard and tights, knowing that Alice must feel the same way in her blood stained shift. And yet, we had very little say in our manner of dress.

My thoughts were broken by a sudden flourish of trumpets from within and the sound of a key being turned as the doors slowly swung open on well oiled hinges to reveal the turgid opulence within. The walls were painted floor to ceiling with gold leaf, carved into scenes that brought to mind the drawings in Alice’s Wonderland book. Taking a closer look I forgot to breathe as I recognized depictions of the creatures from the tea party frolicking playfully with each other. Along with those were images of castle and cottage, garden and wood and everywhere, there were hearts, some subtle and some glaringly out of place.

It seemed to be the norm, within the room. The hearts, I mean. Each floor tile was white with a crimson heart gracing its center. I was reminded of the blood splattered tiles in our bathroom after my mother had blown her brains out. Banners hung from the walls and ceiling, with the same pattern. It was lit by huge chandeliers with heart shaped crystals, and the dais upon which the thrones sat was heart shaped as well. Had I more time to examine the chamber, I’m sure I could remember more details, but my attention was quickly drawn to the trio of thrones and their occupants.

Upon our left sat the Princess, dressed in black as if in mourning and upon our right sat the Priest, his robes of crimson, a great golden cross on a chain upon his breast. Neither of them smiled in greeting, although their eyes never left us. She bore a slender sword upon her lap and he a staff in his right hand. Fear stole my wits from me and I merely stood there, letting their gazes devour me. As for Alice, she found the strength to whisper words of encouragement before their dour glower also skewered her.

Between them, of course, sat the Queen. Oh, she was beautiful in a way that is hard to describe, although I will do my best. She was like some unearthly goddess, her skin luminescent, her hair the color of spun gold, her eyes sapphires that glittered, reflecting the light of the room to great effect. She was dressed in gold and white, pristine and flawless, and she bore a crown encrusted with diamonds upon her brow. So awed was I in her presence, that I failed to hear her speak to us. If it wasn’t for Alice pulling me down into a clumsy curtsy, the thunderhead upon her continence might have grown angrier still.

"So, you have finally decided to visit, my children." Her honey smooth voice barely masked the storm I am sure thundered within her breast. Beautiful and yet so very deadly. I knew this about her, but somehow, here, she seemed magnified beyond belief. Fear began to wash over me and I felt a cold sheen of perspiration break out from head to toe.

"Well, speak up!" she commanded, our silence drawing itself out far too long for her liking. "Cat got your tongue?" I thought of that tiger striped cat, then, white and black furred as he looked down upon us from his perch. On impulse I looked upwards, above her head, wondering if he was about. Not even his fading smile greeted me.

"Yes, your Majesty," Alice said, speaking up for the both of us, her voice meek and shaking with nervousness. "We… we had no idea that you… wanted to see us."

At that, the Princess made a ‘tsking’ sound, while the priest upon the Queen’s right brought his cross to his lips, kissing the precious metal in a manner that seemed more lewd then reverent.

"You should turn them over to me, your Majesty." His voice reminded me of a snake, his words full of cunning. I shivered at the thought. With a certainty, I was nervous of the Princess’s excesses, and the Queen filled me with unimaginable fear, but somehow, where they only threatened my mortal flesh, he seemed to threaten my very soul.

I was heartened at the glance the Queen gave him, one that filled his eyes with fear and hatred. These two were not allies, at least not here, in her realm. I wondered if I should throw myself at her feet and beg for mercy. Too long I wondered, though, and the moment was past. She spoke again, her voice filling the room.

"What I should do is cut off your heads and be done with you." The menace in her voice shook my entire being. This was no idle threat. Instinctively I stepped in front of Alice, shielding her protectively.

"Your Majesty. Please, I beg of you. We are innocent of any wrong doing."

There was a disturbance, just then, and the scene in the dream world seemed to shift. Where there had been an empty court, only the five of us, six if you count the presence of the librarian just outside the still open doors, suddenly there was a mob contained within the walls, and all from the book that Alice treasured so. I spotted the white rabbit, and Humpty Dumpty, Tweedle Dee and Dum, the Card men, the Caterpillar and so many others, too numerous to name. A great din arose within, all of their voices talking at once, filling my head with nonsense. Even clapping my hands over my ears didn’t seem to help. The Queen seemed content to let them prattle on for several minutes, only silencing them with a stern word when it looked like Alice might bolt for the doors, towing me along.

And silence them she did. Only the tandem breathing of what must have been dozens upon dozens of storybook creatures broke the silence that reigned. That and the tap tap tapping of her Majesty’s fingernails upon the arm of her throne. Finally, she opened her mouth to speak, her eyes boring in upon the both of us.

"I find you both accused of crimes against the crown. How do you plead?"

You know how it is in dreams. No matter how strange they are, at the time they make perfect sense? This was one of those. The moment the words fell upon my ears, everything seemed to fall into place and a vague sense of false memories seemed to settle around me. I looked about and suddenly there was another dais upon which a jury sat. To my dismay, I recognized all of them. Half man, half beast. Bull and horse and boar and monkey, as well as eight others, all staring at us, lust in their eyes. Pacing in front of them was the Hatter, impeccably dressed as usual in his velvet green suit and matching top hat, whispering words to the jury, at which they nodded in seeming agreement. What he said, I had no idea, but every so often he would stop and glance at either Alice or I as if to make a point, and the jury would nod or, in some cases, snort disdainfully.

I knew in my heart that this was no laughing matter, and yet I began to giggle nervously, unable to help myself, until a glare from the Queen quieted me. Had that not done it, however, a glance to my left certainly would have won my silence. My father, his tie still crooked, his eyes black and glaring, sat upon a raised platform upon a tall stool. He let his gaze travel up and down my being, sending a chill that seemed to burn from within though me. Then, seemingly, he dismissed me as inconsequential and instead settled his piercing gaze upon Alice, drinking her in as if he meant to swallow her whole.

I felt Alice’s hand in mine, her grip almost painful as she shrunk away from him, pressing up against me for reassurance. I did my best, but my best was a pale shadow compared to the lust that shone from his face. I felt her tremble against me and longed to flee with her from this place. Suddenly, even the clearing in which the Hatter held his parties didn’t seem so bad. And it was my fault. I had led her down this path at the Queen’s urging. It had been a trap, one with no escape, and I had fallen neatly into it. Worse, I had dragged her along with me.

"Not guilty."

Thank God that someone had her wits about her for I certainly didn’t. At Allie’s exclamation, I nodded agreement. Not that we even knew what we were on trial for, but whatever it was, we were innocent. There was a lot of murmuring from the stand and the jury box at that, some of it angry. Glancing over at the Hatter and the jury, I steeled myself, knowing that the price of being found guilty would be a high one indeed. We had to win. There was no other choice.

"The defendants claim innocence." A voice from the back of the course called out. I turned to look, surprised to see the Librarian behind us. I wondered if she was taking our side or simply repeating our claims. Hope blossomed in my breast and I clung to it like a drowning man would a life vest. Please, I prayed, going so far as to cross myself. Please let us win.

"In that case, call in the first witness!" the Queen announced. And so it began. The Hatter took the stand and, in graphic detail he described the debauchery of the tea parties in which Alice, and later I, had unwillingly participated. Just hearing him, his voice oily with lust as he went over every lurid detail, telling the court how he had taken Alice’s virginity from her and how he and his carefree band had used her over and over, making me watch, made me sick with disgust and anger. If I thought I could have gotten away with it, I would have set upon him and struck him down. As it was, my fists turned into balls and a bright hot coal of hatred began to burn within me. By the time he was finished, I could take no more of it.

"Surely," I cried out, my voice full of barely suppressed fury. "Surely these are crimes for which the Hatter is responsible, not us! We are the victims here!"

"Silence!" roared the Queen. "This is my court and I will decide how it is conducted. You, young lady, will be quiet or else I will find a suitable punishment for you that will keep you quiet!"

The look she gave me, menacing and hateful, was enough to rob me of my voice and cool my anger down somewhat. Still, I glowered at the Hatter, my eyes and heart full of a violence I had no idea I was capable of. Enough so that his sinister smile broke apart as he sat there and began to twiddle his thumbs uncomfortably.

"Call in the next witness!" The Queen spat.

This time, it was the priest who took the stand, his face stern and cruel. His testimony told of the nights we had lain together, Alice and I. Of our love making, and the sins of our bodies against God. Homosexuals, he announced, the word sounding wicked in his tongue. Fornicators and sinners.

Whores. This time, unlike the hatter, his claims were true. I recall staring at the gold cross and the golden chain that hung about his thick neck, mesmerized as he spoke, unable to deny a word of it.

I grew up being taught that God punishes us for our sins and that He sees into our hearts. We had committed a sin of love, but it was a love that was true. Surely we could be forgiven for that. After all, Jesus had forgiven Judas. Oh, if only it was Him that we stood before, judging us, his punishments just and fair. Those were my unvoiced thoughts as Alice spoke up in our defense.

"If love be a sin, then I am glad to be guilty of it."

I think she meant defiance, but what resulted was pandemonium. Accusations flew about the room, fingers pointed in our directions, cries of. Cries of ‘guilty’ and ‘whores’ and worse filled the air.

"Arrest them!" cried the Princess.

"Burn them!" shouted the Priest.

"Tie them down and rape them!" giggled the Hatter, just loudly enough for his words to carry to the two of us. The animal-men all stamped their feet and hooves and paws at that in unison. One, the bull-man, even stood fondling his huge erection and pointing it at the pair of us menacingly.

"SILENCE!" The Queen called out at last.

There was a hush. You could have heard a pin drop in that room. Every breath I took seemed to echo harshly in the hush of the court. Then, the tap tap tap of nails resumed again, as the Queen looked down upon us, a single finger stabbing out at me.

"You have been found guilty. What do you have to say for yourselves before I pass sentence?"

"This is most unfair!" Alice protested. "We haven’t even been given a chance to defend ourselves!" A great roar filled the air, one witch the Queen quelled with a single motion. Silence reigned once more.

"This is my court, my dear Alice. My rules. And I rule that you have been found guilty of all crimes charged against you. You and your little slut. If you were wise, you would throw yourself upon the mercy of the court and beg lenience, not that it would do you any good."

Alice got a stubborn look upon her face and folded her arms. Trembling, I did the same all the while praying that the dream would end soon. I suddenly recalled the scene in the book that mirrored this strange trial and prepared myself for shouts of Off with her head! I wasn’t too far wrong. An army of playing card men came forward with spears, appearing so suddenly that neither of us had time to react, and took us prisoner. A pair held Alice between them by her arms, while a second pair held me similarly, pushing the two of us forward against our will and then down on our knees before the Queen, and her cohorts.

"In accordance with the laws of these lands, my lands, I hereby sentence you to death, Alice Evelyn Sherwood and Lucille Alexandria Davenport. It is with great regret that I give you over to the Jabborwock."

A flicker of what I could have sworn was unease filled her eyes for the briefest of moment as she cast her gaze over to where my father sat. All this time he had said nothing, done nothing, save stared hungrily at the both of us, Alice in particular. I turned towards him, suddenly afraid of what was to come. Surely we would wake up soon. I tried pinching myself but was thwarted by the pair of guards at my side.

He stood up, my father, his tie crooked, his eyes dark and hungry as his shadow fell upon us. Not a man shaped shadow, but that of some sort of deformed dragon that moved sinuously on it’s own. It seemed to be reaching out, with slavering jaws and jagged claws, twisting and turning as if it responded to his each and every thought. I was transfixed, as was Alice. A whimper escaped from her throat and I desperately grasped her hand, doing my best to reassure her as the thing snaked its way across the floor of the courtroom towards us. I heard the Princess make a ‘tsking’ sound and behind us the animal-men were grunting disgustingly. I wanted to scramble away, pulling her with me, but at first I was transfixed. Finally, I broke the spell and began to move away, but a pair of hands suddenly held me in their grip, iron bands upon my upper arms that held me in place.

"You will watch, whore." It was the priest. I felt his presence behind me, his gold cross pressing against the back of my head as he held me, his erection pressing into the small of my back.

"This is what comes of sin."

What happened next I have long since blotted from my memory, or have tried. On good days I can almost pretend it didn’t happen, but on bad days I can still hear her cries as the my father’s shadow wrapped itself around her, pushing it’s head between her soft thighs and into her. It was as if it was devouring her from within and she was helpless to prevent it. Even worse, I somehow knew that, if I had been free to, I could have somehow saved her. The Priest chuckled, knowing my thoughts, shaking his head slowly. I could feel his spittle on the back of my head, burning like acid.

"You will watch, and you will listen, whore. And then it will be your turn."

My stomach turned over and I began to gag, bile rising up from my stomach and choking me. I didn’t barf, much to my dismay. Instead I just heaved impotently, while Alice was consumed. Oh, not that she was gone, at least not physically, but I could see the light going out of her eyes, her beautiful sky blue eyes as the creature filled her. And then as often happens in dreams, the shadow’s owner, my father, was suddenly standing over her, his hands about her slender throat, both of them naked from the waist down. As the dark creature had, he also entered her but where it had been smoke and shadowy darkness, he was flesh and blood.

He began to violate her, oblivious of the fact that her face turned from pink to red, then to purple. At one point he began to hit her, raging at her, his words too vile to repeat. Before he was done, her head lolled at a strange angle, as if she was a marionette laid carelessly on a bench.

"This is what you deserve, you cheating whore." I felt the Priest move his hand to my neck as I tried to turn away, forcing me to look forward, to watch as the life bleed out of my only friend. Watched her as he released his demon seed into her with a strangled cry, the only thing supporting her were his hands wrapped about her throat…

This story is protected by International Copyright Law, by the author, all rights reserved. If found posted anywhere other than with this note attached, it has been posted without my permission.

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