Alice clutched the crystal handle of her new dagger. The crystal was cold and the grooves pressed into her palm. The dagger felt as though it was made just for her.
Having a weapon, and one as glorious as the crystal dagger in her grasp, felt right.
She swallowed and took a step forward. The Cheshire cat floated above her. His devious smile taunted her. Rows of sharp, silver, teeth gleamed at her.
Alice almost felt that he was taunting her. He wanted her to think that he was on her side, a friend perhaps, but Alice knew better.
Wonderland had won. They had her back after she had fought to stay away. Alice wasn’t completely naïve. She had assessed the alternative. The truth was, Alice was more afraid of the unknown. She had killed herself. If not Wonderland, where would she have gone?
Visions of everlasting fire taunted her. If Wonderland was real, then perhaps Hell was as well, and Alice was certain that that’s where she would have gone. Children that kill their parents and siblings didn’t go to Heaven, at least, not in Alice’s mind.
Alice glared at her surroundings. She was stunned by the drastic change, but oddly, it suited her new attitude. This time, she wouldn’t be fooled. This time, she would not be the meek little girl she was before. She would seek out those that ruined her. Alice would kill them all.
“What are you thinking, Alissss?”
Alice cast her glare at the cat. “Shoo. I know my way from here.”
The Cheshire cat’s grin only widened. He chuckled and spun around and around, making her dizzy. His purple and orange blended with the red sky.
“But, Alissss. Things have changed. Wonderland is not how you left it. You’re dead. Thus Wonderland has,” he paused and looked at the red sky in thought. “Shall I say, Wonderland has…adapted, to fit your new reality?”
Alice shrugged. She looked down at the black and deep green forest below. The trees seemed to reach for her. She knew she had to get down there, but there weren’t any stairs. This bridge ended abruptly and stood in the sky with a steep drop to the blood filled river.
Alice didn’t know where she got her insane ideas, but somehow she trusted them more than anything right then. She clenched her jaw, closed her eyes, and took a leap from the bridge.
Cool air encircled her. Her skirt billowed out like an umbrella. Alice opened her eyes and grinned evilly. “Call it what you want. I want her head.” She remembered the red queen’s twisted face. She wanted to lop her head off and carve a new face into the dead flesh.
It would be her prize.
The Cheshire cat chuckled again. “Good girl.” He started to fade. “Good girl.”
Alice glanced up and sighed. She was alone. She floated through the swift breeze as her skirt carried her along. It was an unreliable means of travel. If the wind changed direction, she would have no choice but to go along with it.
For now, Alice thought. It will have to do.
She was glad to be alone. The Cheshire cat’s voice annoyed it. It grated on her mind like a sharp nail.
It’s better this way.
Alice swept through the charred forest that had once been lush and green. Her skin tightened at the chill in the air. It was cold, and yet there appeared to be lava trailing through the ground. Alice sneezed. A tiny gray particle fell onto the small tip of her nose.
Alice sneezed again and dusted the ash from her nose. She frowned at the gray residue on her fingers.
That’s odd, Alice frowned. She didn’t remember a volcano from before. Her black hair whipped around her face and she pulled strands out of her eyes as the wind picked up.
Alice held her breath and braced herself for a rough landing. As if someone was pushing her, the wind forced her downward and into a thorny rose bush.
Alice yelped and hopped from the bush.
Her entire body stung as thick, red, thorns pierced the exposed portions of her flesh. Her scream resonated through the entire forest.
The thorns were alive. They didn’t just get stuck in her skin. The thorns tried to wiggle their way into her body.
Alice’s eyes widened at the piercing, burning, pain, as the thorns hit muscle. She screamed and frantically started yanking the bothersome thorns out with both hands. She dropped her dagger and focused on ridding herself of the painful prickles.
Alice shook with terror as she pulled out ghastly thorns covered in blood.
A vine snapped out from the bush and grabbed her dagger. Alice gasped and threw herself onto it. The vine growled.
Alice grabbed her dagger and pulled with all of her might.
The vine wrapped around the blade. Alice gritted her teeth.
There was a tug of war between the girl and the vine. She gave it her all and pulled the dagger back. She used the blade to slice the rubbery green rope. It was strong, and fought back.
The vine made a shrill noise as she stabbed it over and over again. It coiled back like a wounded snake, exposed its tiny teeth, and growled. Alice kicked it in its mouth with her laced up black boots and it vanished.
Alice scrambled to her feet and backed away. Crows cawed above her. Shadows crept in closer from the dense, dark, trees.
Whatever was left of the daylight vanished. Darkness filled every crevice of the forest. The only light came from a pale yellow crescent moon. Its yellow rays spilled through tightly knit gaps in the trees charred canopy.
Alice looked up. It made the moon’s light look like a series of yellow eyes. This is not what she expected. She almost wanted to go back home. Home didn’t exist.
Alice held tight onto her dagger. It was all she had to protect herself. Her eyes darted around and she turned in circles, waiting for something to leap out at her.
She heard a low chuckle. A familiar chuckle.
“I told you, Alisss. You’re going to need to use that dagger on more than yourself…”
Alice cursed under her breath. If only she knew how right he was.