Struggling not to cry out, Alice scrabbled at the small wooden door. She had to fit through. Oh please, Lord, let the door open. Her mind awash with fears, she twisted the doorknob again and again- her face screwed up in a mask of panic.

The coppery smell from the dead mouse was really getting too much for her. She couldn't bear to look at it- yet the glassy eyes seemed to be imprinted on her mind. The door wasn't opening. Of course, she needed the key. But where was it?

"Please God, open the door!" Alice's shrill voice rang through the silence, and echoed back at her- mocking, a cruel imitation of her distress. "Please!" Hopelessly, she banged and hammered, her fists beginning to bruise and bleed.

(i'm going to die but oh Lord i'm only eight and i'm scared now i'm really scared please let the door open i need it to open now though i can't fit through but i need to try really try.)

A soft shuffle halted the demolition of her small hands. Alice froze. Nothing was down here with her… it wasn't possible. Was it? She didn't dare turn around. Something within her was screaming to keep up with this game, to play along nicely and remain the naïve child she always had been.

But she had already seen too much. Over the last hour or so, her eyes had developed from seeing the world as an innocent youth, to the much more mature sightings of an adult. In the past hour, Alice had doubled her age.

"Aliceee…" A voice barely above a whisper whistled straight into the girl's ear. "Turn around Aliceee…"

"No." Her hand was the consistency of ice, and was clasped on the door handle. "Never."

"Turn around Alice." The unknown command had lost it's dreamlike, lilting quality. Instead the voice was much harder, colder, forbidding. "Turn around… if you know what's best for you."

"NO!" In a sudden burst of terror, Alice wrenched at the door handle with all her strength- with fruitless effect.

(i'm really scared now and i don't know what to do and oh what have i done what have i done to deserve this i'm so frightened and this is getting scarier it's not just the joker anymore it's… it's something else.)

"TURN AROUND ALICE!" It was no longer a whisper, but a roar- it filled Alice's ears and made her shake, her eyes were momentarily blinded by the extent of the noise- for one moment she was sure she was going to faint.

A huge shadow suddenly rose out of the dim light- much bigger than Alice, much bigger than anything she had seen before. This time she did whirl around, her heart in her mouth, her nails making bloody crescent moons into the palms of her hands.

(what is it please don't let it hurt me oh please)

Nothing. The mouse was still on the floor, the sticky crimson puddle congealing and getting darker in colour.

"Tricked you!" The gleeful voice of the Joker filled the small room of doors, his tones high with delight of his foolery. "You shouldn't be so gullible A-Liss. Or curious. Curiosity killed the cat." A manic scream of laughter rent the air, making Alice's hands fly up to her ears in order to protect them. "Killed the cat! Oh I'm a genius, that I am."

(his laughter is even more disturbing than his eyes)

"We must carry on with the game A-Liss. Otherwise what will become of Mr Joker? Or worse, what will become of you?" With that threat left hanging in the air, the Joker's voice was suddenly cut off and the silence rushed back to fill the space.

"Oh Alice," The girl curled into a ball, hugging her knees. "What are you going to do?" This was her way of coping- referring to herself in third person. She knew that if she said "what am I going to do?" that meant she could no longer detach herself from the situation, and had to admit that she was in big trouble. The first tears of pity began to slide down her face, marking the green satin of her dress.

As the tears grew faster and thicker, Alice buried her face in her hands to stop the flow. As far as she could see, she was stuck. No key to open the door, nothing to make her smaller… it seemed like the Joker hadn't completely planned the game. He had enough to keep her frightened, on her toes; trusting that her childish fears would stop her from forming a plan of escape. If he warped her mind enough, twisted her thoughts even so she couldn't recognise them… then she would be his. A pawn in his sick game of chess. But the last chess game Alice had played she had become a queen. She had become a queen. Surely she could outwit him, find a way to get out…

"Look." As if invisible hands were forcing her, Alice's head craned upwards, her neck muscles screaming under the pressure. On the glass table stood a small bottle, filled with a glowing green liquid. It was bubbling- as if it was on a source of extreme heat, made to damage, to kill. The label around the neck was scrawled in more of the mouse's blood. 'Drink me.'

Alice let out a bark of a laugh- the first for what felt like years.

(do I really look that stupid do I look that naive I know his plans but oh god I must obey if he tells me poison isn't as bad as anything else)

The hands released her neck, and the suddenness of this made her head snap forward painfully. As if in a dream, she got to her feet and reached for the bottle.

(don't want to do this don't have to do this so sit down alice sit down refuse to move and wait for this crazy adventure to end)

Her hand reached for the


bottle, and as if the instructions were being spoken out loud, she began to open it. A thin hiss came out of the top, suggesting there had been built up gas inside.

(don't drink it!)

She raised the bottle to her lips, and could feel the scorching heat blistering her lips, making the soft pink skin peel easily, leaving scars beaded with blood.

(it hurts so much so dangerous just stop it STOP IT NOW)

Violently, she flung the liquid down her throat. The Joker shrieked with ecstasy, the wild screams reverberating and echoing, sounding like a thousand Jokers laughing at once.

She couldn't breath. Her stomach was suddenly filled with violent cramps, and she couldn't even screech in pain. Trying to gasp she clutched the table to stop her fall. Her head was spinning, her limbs were weak, so weak… she was slipping and tried to grab the table again, but missed- her nails clawing four scarlet tracks in her face.

(somebody help me somebody-)

The little crystal bottle smashed as she hit the floor.