Monday, August 12, 2013

Tainted Warrior- Chapter 3

Chapter 3

The red sun was setting and Alice felt the cool night air chill her pale cheeks. She shivered and wrapped her arms around herself.
Shelter, Alice thought. 
She needed to get somewhere warm and safe. She looked down at the brush laden path. She knelt and pulled thick grass away from the dirt. There was a faint trace of an old road. A smile spread across her face. 
Hatter…” Alice whispered with a mischievous grin. “I hope you’re up for a visit.”
There was a quick drop in temperature as the last light of the sun faded. Alice rubbed her arms and braced herself for the first gust of cold wind. She trudged through the thick underbrush of the forest and kept her eyes on her surroundings. She held tight to the hilt of her dagger.

Just in case, she thought. Alice didn’t know what creatures lurked in the shadows, but she would be ready for them if they jumped out.

Her mind was sharper than when she was back at the asylum. She had been drugged every morning with multi-colored pills that barely allowed for her to stay lucid. She would sit in a chair with her knees drawn into her chest and stare at the door. Who she expected to walk through the door…Alice didn’t know.

Her nose felt numb and she began to shiver. The wind seemed to beat at her. She had to fight to stay on the path. The bushes reached for her. Yellow eyes blinked at her from all around. 

She was afraid. Alice was used to being afraid. She knew her challenge would be to harness that fear. Her enemies had no idea what was coming.

Alice flexed her fingers. Her eyes widened with joy when she saw lights in the distance. The Mad Hatter’s house.

She smiled. Her smile faded when she heard a low growl behind her. Alice was too afraid to look. Instead…she ran.

Her heart raced as quickly as her legs. Crashing thumps chased her.

Alice ground her teeth as she ran for the house. Alice heard teeth gnashing behind her. Her eyes widened. She could only imagine what chased her. Whatever it was, refused to let her free.

Alice closed her eyes and let out a long, slow, breath. With a cry out, she swirled around and slashed her dagger through the darkness. Blood squirted into her face as the sharp blade cut through the throat of a monster that could have only existed in her deepest, darkest, nightmares.

Four large eyes looked back at her in pain, and the wolf-like creature slumped to the ground. Alice breathed with relief. Her heart thumped so hard that she had to put her hands over her chest to calm herself. She closed her eyes. Her mother’s blue eyes looked back at her. The woman smiled. That smile was burned away by violent flames. The screams made Alice cry out.

“Mama! Papa!”

She screamed their names into the night. She sat up and rubbed the tears from her eyes, and only smeared blood onto her face.

Alice was angry. She hated that asylum, but at least the pills they forced her to take kept the memories at bay. At least she didn’t have to face her family’s ghosts.

“Welcome home, Alice,” a familiar voice said into the night. Alice swirled around, searching for who had spoken.

A smile began to form on her face. This was his game. She would play. She would do anything to forget the screams of her dying family.
“Hatter,” Alice called. “Come out so I can see! It’s been too long!”
She heard snickering behind her. She swirled around. Nothing. No one. Darkness.
Alice folded her arms across her chest and pretended to pout. “No fair. You cannot vanish on me like that. Can’t you tell that I missed you?”
            Before she could blink, he had her by her forearms. Large blue eyes looked at her from under a large, purple, top hat. Alice gasped. He kissed her, quickly, full on her lips. Then, the Mad Hatter vanished again.
            Breathless, and speechless, Alice looked for him. She hopped over the dead body of the beast that had chased her and ran towards the Mad Hatter’s house. Now, all of the lights were lit in every window of the house. There was loud, cheerful, music. 
            “A party,” Alice squealed as she grinned and ran for the front door. When she reached it, it swung open and there he was, leaning against the door frame, with a long pipe in his mouth.
            Alice paused. Something was different about him. She felt her body tensed and her face flush. 
            He took the pipe out of his mouth, removed his top cat and bowed. “At your service, my lady.”
            Alice gulped. He looked…different. She realized that all of Wonderland had changed. This Mad Hatter made her forget her words and want to clean the blood and dirt off her face. His large blue eyes were the same, but somehow that smile of his was just a little more charming than she remembered. His hair, as golden as the sun, was pulled back into a ponytail at his nape. Blonde brows furrowed as he looked at her.
            “Why are you staring at me like that?” He stood and put the top hat back on and the pipe back into his mouth. 
            Alice shook her head, mouth agape. “Hatter,” she said again, feeling stupid that she couldn’t think of something better to say.
            “Ah, come now, just call me Mads.” The Mad Hatter reached an arm out for her. Now, come, let’s celebrate.” 
            Alice nodded. “Sure, Mads.” She locked arms with him. She couldn’t stop staring. Mads whisked her away into his odd house of nightmares and magic and closed the door behind them. 
Oh my, things have surely changed, Alice thought.