There is a darker side to everything. Everything sweet, everything innocent. To every child, they harbor a darker evil that might or not become released. Every word can tip them to being angels, or demons full of hatred and lust.
A sweet and innocent girl, Alice was. Day-dreaming her life away beneath pretty trees, playing with her kitty, and falling down a rabbit's hole. Running and depending on others to get her out, while trying to save herself.
And her pretty little dress was never ripped once, nor did mud touch it in all of her adventures. Her hair remained smooth as she made her way through Wonderland. She was never once scratched, and she always keep good manners.
So different from now.
Her dress, a white, floor length, silky nightdress is stained with ash and soot, smeared and turning the fabric gray. Dirt and scraps and blood cover her arms, and her hair is knotty, greasy, tangled and slimy, undone from it's usual bow and hanging limply around her shoulders. Her books are all burned, her trees are all gone, her rabbit hole is missing.
And there is no escape for her this time.
She is laughing as she kneels in the snow, tears pouring down her filthy face. Clean tracks mark where they have been, like tiny roads.
Medics stare fearfully at her, too scared to get close as firefighters pour as much water as fast as possible on the dancing flames less then five feet away from her. She is wild, she will bite, and she can fight; already she has broken someone's nose.
It is only when her laughter stops and she falls to her side in the soft white snow that they dare near her, this broken little girl, this little girl who has lost everything – home, parents, sanity.
How sad, they say. How terrible it is that such a little girl has lost anything.
They don't know the true extent of sadness, of misery, of insanity, and what has cracked this girl's mind.
How could they, the sane ones? How could they know?
They have no idea.
It was her little kitty, her pretty little kitty, that started the fire. She knocked a small candle over onto a rug, and from there it spread to a stack of papers lying nearby. The smoke was heavy and thick, and Alice woke first.
Panic filled her, and she jumped out of her bed, dashing for the window. She threw it open, jumping the ten-odd feet to the ground, landing heavily on her ankle and twisting it. Pain shot through her, but her adrenaline rush forced her to get away from the house as fast as she could.
A moment later, watching the flames from the safety of the woods, she realized her parents were still inside.
She screamed, just as the first ambulances pulled up and medics jumped out, just in time to catch her as she ran for the burning house, crying her heart out.
And then she punched one, making a mad dash for the open doorway as firefighters forced their way through it.
The heat rushed over her and she stopped dead, her hair crinkling from the white-hotness of it all. The flames danced in her watery eyes, bright fairy-lights. The blue was lost behind orange, red, yellow, all mixed together and spat back out.
And she screamed and fell to her knees, just as tiny white flakes began to drift down from the clouded sky.
Years later, she sits alone in a tiny cell on her thin bed, playing with a bedraggled teddy-bear. It's ear has fallen off, and one eye is attached by a few threads. Her dress is torn, and scars cover her wrist.
Her eyes are sunken as she sings, twirling the bear by the arm, and they have lost their sparkle, their life, the clear blue that made them Alice's eyes and no one else's. Her voice is harsh and low as she sings aloud, the results of many nights of waking up screaming.
"I'll find you, my pretty little bunny, and this time I'll catch you, catch you, catch you. It'll be off with your head, in the garden of the hearts, and I will paint it red, paint it red, paint it red and dry it out. You'll see the kitties and the mommies and daddies in heaven, but then they'll throw you down to hell...and fire will eat you, body and soul, body and soul..." she trailed off, coughing into the head of her toy, a low, harsh sound.
She knows she is not well. That is what the told her when she arrived; that she was sick, and was there to get better. That they, the doctors, were her friends, and were only doing what was best for her, for Alice.
But she's been there for years and she hasn't felt any better.
She doesn't feel well.
Because she isn't well at all.
People who are well don't wake up screaming and crying, begging for someone to kill them and get them out of their misery.
Healthy people don't cut themselves, watch in delight as blood pours down their delicate wrists and drips slowly onto the white, white ground, watch calmly as people bustle in, scolding her, bandaging her arm, but never really seeing her.
Sane people don't have to sit by themselves alone in a white, white room, playing with a ragged teddy and singing songs, knowing that no one will come and play with her, because they are all afraid of what she will be like that day..
She isn't well, and she knows it.
Wonderland scares her now.
The Mad Hatter is truly mad, with a cackle that strikes fear deep into her heart. He laugh and pours boiling tea on everything and anything, and doesn't say a word; he only laughs. His hat is ripped, his coat is in tatters, his shoes are long gone. But he laughs, and pours tea, and doesn't care.
The Dormouse and March Hare have joined him in his madness, and the Hare carries a butcher knife everywhere he goes, laughing as the Dormouse stabs with a steak knife, and they follow the Hatter, stabbing everything he pours tea onto.
The White Rabbit is no long the rabbit she followed down the rabbit hole. His watch is gone, replaced with a huge bloody battle-ax, and he swings it from side to side as he jumped along the darkened paths of Wonderland, trees leering at him from every side.
The Rabbit swings his ax, never aiming for anyone, but sometimes catching them by accident. The blood sprays up and stains his waistcoat, but the Rabbit pays it no mind, and hops along, never caring of what he does.
The Cheshire Cat is so thin is makes Alice's sides ache to just look at him. He is so thin she can count his ribs, and his eyes glitter, huge in his skull. His mouth is out of proportion to his body, too big, too wide, and it looks almost comical.
But his teeth have lengthen and sharped, and his claws are long and never fully retract. He digs into the ground when he walks, tearing up grass and leaves. His collar hangs around his neck, and he doesn't look anything like a little kitty. More like a demon sent from Hell.
Not her Cheshire Cat anymore.
The Queen of Hearts carries a bazooka, and anyone who disobeys her is shot. Her dress is ripped, and she wears a military cap on her steel gray hair. Her eyes flash red, and her mouth is painted with dried blood, red and harsh. She smells of metal and hatred.
She wears dog tags, and when she shoots, they catch the dimmed, watery sunlight, flashing it around, and for a second Alice can almost remember what the Queen's Court used to look like, back when the Queen was clean and wore a crown and didn't shoot everything that moved.
Back when Wonderland was truly a wonder.
Back when she had her wits about her. Back before the hospital and the nightmares and the tears and her overwhelming sense of guilt she can never shake, no matter how hard she tries.
And she remembers when she was Alice.
Not the Alice that sat in a white room, playing with a ruined teddy bear and crying, cutting her wrists and wishing she could die.
The Alice she was before that.
When she could spend all day dreaming under a clear blue sky. When she could flip through a book and complain that it had no pictures. When she could follow a pretty white rabbit and fall down a hole into a whole new and wonderful world.
She tried to fall down the rabbit hole. Things laughed at her in the darkness, and tugged at her dress, urging her to join them, that they could help her, save her. That they were her friends.
The halls are twisted and dark, but far from quiet. Murmuring is all she can hear, and she can never make out any real words. They chatter endlessly, and she goes insane, trying to make out a single real word out of the whole mess.
She is afraid to hear what they say, but curious. Do they hold the answer to her madness? Could they truly help her?
And so she runs after the bodiless voices in a never-ending chase, as she sits on a bed in a white, white room and sings to a ruined teddy. She is a girl no one knows what to do with, how to fix. She is broken, broken, broken.
And no one has any glue, nor tape, nor string to put her back together again.
She is broken, and Wonderland is gone.
And there is no magic left in the world.
At least not for her.
Run, rabbit, run.
Follow the white Rabbit, Alice.
Run, rabbit, run.
This is one of those stories I write, when once it's finished, I sit back and say, "I can't believe I just wrote that." This is probably one of my more dark pieces of work; but I hope you enjoyed it.