A Second to Madness
Twisted from Alice in Wonderland
“We’re all mad here. I’m mad. You’re mad.”
“How do you know I’m mad?”
“You must be, or you wouldn’t have come here.”
Alice in Wonderland—Lewis Carroll
SHE fell through the rabbit hole.
That was a long time ago, a mere fleeting dream that bled into a nightmare. Every once in a while, she pondered, thought, wondered, about the vast what ifs stitching her sanity together. What if the verdict had been just? What if the roses had been red? What if the party had been less nonsensical? What if the cake had kept her shrunken? What if the potion had kept her average? What if the white rabbit had stayed a daydream? What if she had been like her sister? And, damn it all, what if she had stayed awake?
But, the queen had wanted her head rolling, the cards had planted white ones instead of red, the tea party had riddled her to mental exhaustion, the cake had multiplied her size, the potion had shrunken her, the white rabbit had distracted her, she had no interest in a book lacking pictures and conversations—and all this, all this dreaming, it had her falling into Wonderland, a figment of her imagination weaved into her reality.
In this world of madness, Alice lost herself.
She never escaped its embrace, no, not even by pinching herself nor by walking into a good old trunk of a sturdy tree. All she ever did after running from the Queen of Hearts’s wrath was that. Run. Run on her own, forget about the Cheshire Cat, the White Rabbit, the Mad Hatter—forget them all.
Alas, time prodded her to stop searching for home, to become one with the mad. However, Wonderland got under her skin too late.
Something stirred in her as she hid in the dark, forever waiting for the day she would wake up by the riverbank, surrounded by pieces fitting together unlike the labyrinthine mad lands she trekked upon.
Her bones ached.
Her skin stung.
Every so often, she checked the bottle and the delicacy. As she remained in Wonderland, the liquid tasted bitter in her throat, reminding her of aging grapes, while the delicacy, it changed, growing smaller and smaller, ultimately mirroring the acerbic flavor her drink held.
Shrink. Grow. Shrink. Grow.
All this for the thought of going home.
Alice was dying from all sorts of things.
Dying of waiting, dying of hoping, dying of trying—it fed on her until it drove a hole through her heart.
Everything never resembled their true essence here; she ought to remember that by now, as she trudged toward the towering palace that lay in front of her, its majesty forgotten by the haunting memories that lull her to sleep, only to jolt her back into consciousness in the process. If her imprisonment meant a purpose, a sole hint crossed her mind.
In her initial adventure, she crossed paths with the Cheshire Cat, telling it she had no desire to interact among mad people. The grinning cat, however, assured her, she was as mad as the lot of them, claiming if her state of mind differed from theirs, she would not have come at all.
She would not have come at all.
Maybe what she intended to do would answer her wish.
Alice wanted her home.
A place to call hers, she must have.
The little girl who found herself in the comforts of another realm altogether shattered into such a broken lass who cursed the mad lands.
All because she stopped wondering.
SHE fell through the rabbit hole.
The Queen of Hearts, pleased with the explanation, resumed her game of animal croquet, one of her favorite pastimes aside from beheading all those who had wronged her. All except one. As the thought set in, the satisfaction on the queen’s face sizzled into unadulterated rage. Of course, to the ruthless ruler, how the blonde troublemaker stumbled into their world mattered not. Even if she disappeared back into her own world (where she should damn be as Her Majesty berated every single soul in her presence), the queen fumed at the escaped execution.
“OFF WITH YOUR HEADS!”
Bellowing, the cards folded in fear, backing away as Her Majesty threw a fit, waving her scepter-slash-hammer angrily until she decided her army’s numbers of thousands had dwindled into mere hundreds. Dismayed, she stalked out of her garden, and into her throne room, leaving both the animals and her card soldiers relieved of worse fates.
Once sitting on her throne, the queen eyed those in her presence with a freezing intensity of rage, making them avert their gaze by faking curt bows. At that note, her blood boiled, egging her on to proclaim an execution order against them. As her lips parted, the doors slammed open, revealing a distressed White Rabbit fumbling with the broken pocket watch in its hands.
“Too late! Too late to save her from hate!” the rabbit uttered, urgency laced in its voice.
“Why have you come uninvited, Rabbit?” Her Majesty demanded irritably, straightening her posture.
The name brought a rancid taste to her own tongue as she asked, calmly (by a long shot), “What about Alice?”
“She, she, she,” the rabbit muttered rapidly, catching its breath when it halts on the steps at her feet. Only then did the explanation leave its mouth. “She has gone mad!”
“How delight—you mean she hasn’t left?” the Queen of Hearts questioned, sarcasm lost as her voice rose at the dawning realization. “Alice, that bloody brat hasn’t left!” A distinct shrillness accompanied her screeching. Instead of listening any further, she stood up, eyes darting from knight to knight.
“Cards! Go find her, and bring her to me at once!”
“Your Majesty, wait!”
“No need to find me.”
An earsplitting sound of metal scratching against the marbled flooring distracted the distraught cards, and earned the queen’s prompt attention. As the entrance to her throne room remained welcoming to any visitor, her heart practically stopped beating at the sight, greeting her.
No, that could not be Alice.
That bloodthirsty maniac could not be the little girl Wonderland brought in.
But the resemblance was peculiar.
Her blue dress, tattered at the seams, flowed as if she were a ghost, having its own movement as she sauntered toward the throne, getting nearer and nearer and nearer. If anything, the queen would have thought trouble found her, when she noticed the familiar stain of blood ruining her clothes, her hands, and her face.
The sword she dragged along bathed in it.
It could not be Alice, but it was Alice.
Wisps of hair as dark as the dreadful night the mad lands possessed clung onto the young lady’s ashen skin, drained of life, while her eyes as dead as her grace, although one could point out they used to be in the lively shade of blue.
Meaning, she succumbed.
It was better torture than what Her Majesty had in mind.
And she would have reveled in it, if not for the blade pointed at her from the distance.
“What can you do from where you are standing, child?” she chortled, instilling a sense of authority in her presence. Whether or not Alice came here for a sword fight or whatever she had in mind, the Queen of Hearts still ruled Wonderland. “You think you can kill me?”
The queen gestured for her cards to keep their weapons directed at Alice.
“Maybe I can, maybe I will,” Alice replied, devoid of any emotion, like her death was not imminent in this place. It ticked the Queen of Hearts.
“Oh, how so?” the queen scoffed, already fumbling with her skirt as she kept staring at the bloodied sword.
Alice lowered her weapon momentarily, a ghost of a smirk gracing her features. “I had problems getting into your palace, Your Majesty. It seemed like the winged creature at the gates wanted to ward me off, but alas!”
She waved the sword in her hands, marveling in her triumphant trespassing as the queen’s eyes widened in disbelief.
“It met such a sad fate,” Alice concluded.
“You killed my Jabberwocky?” her Majesty echoed, completely out of it.
“Off with your bloody head!”
The cards lunged at the girl—young lady—with their fragile spears and thin shields. Her Majesty watched them clash; pointed blades jabbed at porcelain skin, shields fended sharp blows, cries left the fallen—yet neither of them, neither queen nor rebel, emphasized the silliness of the battle. One side was bound to lose the second the fighting started. Even as the cards grazed Alice, spilled her blood, their numbers decreased by the minute, the loud clanging getting softer and softer until she faced a lone knight while the others lay defeated and torn on the previously pristine floor.
“Good-bye,” Alice chirped, taking a step back as she cut up the last of them.
Furious, the Queen of Hearts marched onward, clutching her scepter. Ugh, those damned fools.
“Must I do everything myself?!”
She swung hard at Alice, footsteps heavy with murderous intent. Her opponent dodged idly, twirling like the little girl she used to be. A laugh escaped Alice as she ducked from the reckless attempt of beheading.
It caught her off guard, it seemed; Alice saw it too.
“Too bad,” she sighed as she heaved her sword up, disarming the Queen of Hearts completely.
Before the queen planned her next move, Alice twisted her grip, jamming the blunt end of the sword harshly at Her Majesty’s forehead. She doubled over, kneeling against her will when Alice kicked her down.
The damn brat circled her as if she were prey. The nerve of her to giggle like a madman in the presence of a queen.
How dare she!
Sword dropped beside her, Alice stopped in front of the queen.
“Now, Your Majesty,” she spat, voice dripping in acid as she leaned forward to meet the kneeling queen eye-to-eye.
“Off with your head.”
The Queen of Hearts’s blood ran cold as her heart drummed against her chest.
Bluffing would be a lie.
Alice meant every single word.
“How did you turn out like this?”
A foolish question indeed.
The corners of Alice’s lips quirked up knowingly, resembling a smirk.
She fell through the rabbit hole.
“Where’s the queen?” the Cat asked Alice days after her brief confrontation with the Queen of Hearts.
She hid no chortle as she swung her legs over an armrest of the vacated throne. “Let’s just say I let her fall through a six-foot-deep rabbit hole.”
Wonderland let her ascend, be Madness itself.