AN: this one is not so fun... and I can't decide if it should go before or after the fist...
The bored gamers
Alice was next to the Mad Hatter. The Mad Hatter was next to the March Hare. The three of them were in the Hare's garden drinking some tea and eating some crackers.
"God! I am bored!" thought Alice.
"There is no way there is something worse to do in the whole wild world!"
Then she noticed that her face was probably showing everybody how bored she was.
"Smile you stupid girl! You don't want to be rude with one of you two only friends, do you?" she thought.
But the Hare didn't notice a thing. He talked with his eyes closed when he was exited. Alice look at the Hatter. He was bored too as far as she could tell. His hand was doing strange things like it just gained a separated life.
"…and that's why Hares are the most perfects creatures on the whole Earth!" the Hare finished after the long speech.
Alice was kind of expecting the Hatter to protest, the Hatter was a very polemic person and he almost protested on every single thing that other peoples said, but he didn't. In fact he looked lost in his thoughts.
"Mister Hatter?" asked Alice "Are you alright?"
"Hum? Oh yes… yes I am! But look! It's already 16:20! Sorry Hare but I can't stay for the tea… Miss Liddell! It was nice to see you. I hoppe we can meet again soon! I must go now…"
The Hatter's speech had started slow but turned to very quick at the end.
Alice looked at the March Hare.
"What just happened?" she asked.
"Well, I blinked and I breathed a bit…" he said in an ashamed tone.
"Please do not tell people about that! I swear it won't happen again!"
"It's okay… keep doing it if you want. I just wanted to know why Mr Hatter just left. He looked disturbed!"
"Oh!" he had a short pause.
"Well, since it's 16:20 he probably went to feed the bored gamers…"
"The bored gamers?" Alice asked with a bit of confusion.
"Yes… it's a very sad story… Reginald made their hats you know?"
He came close to her.
"I think he feels guilty!"
Sudently he changed the subject.
"Well, do you want some tea miss
Liddell? Don't answer to that! Of course you want some! It's 16:20 after all!"
He was taking a new cup but Alice didn't let him put the tea in it. Actualy, she was starting to get sick with all the tea she drank.
"Wait a minute Mr Hare."
She knew that it was the best way to avoid something with the Hare. With him, a minute would last forever.
"Where are theses gamers you just told me about?"
"Hum? Ah… yes! Well it's realy easy… go next to the Cheshire's cat's house, you can't miss them."
"Thank you mister Hare! I am going now."
The March Hare look disapointed.
"But you just came! Don't you want some tea?"
"Don't worry , I 'll be back very soon. Not even a full minute!"
Relief was everywhere on the Hare's face.
"Oh! There is no problem then!"
Alice left him and went to the Cheshire's cat's house.
When she stood up in front of it she noticed a table wich she could swear that wasn't here last time. But in Wonderland that was meaningless. The table could have been here for years as far as she knew.
Then, she saw the Hatter with a limonade kettle.
"Hi mister Hatter!"
"Wha-I-… What? You! Ahem… Oh!"
"Well, hi miss Liddell…"
He had a pause and added "May I ask you what you are doing here?"
"Oh, I don't know… maybe I am stalking you!" she said jokingly.
"Realy? I mean… that is not the point! You shouldn't be here. That kind of show is not apropriate for silly little girls!"
If he hadn't be so confused by her joke she would have punched him for that.
"Yes, well it's too late now… I am already here and there is nothing you can do to stop me!"
"I… oh damn it! Even mad people do go to madness with you! Follow me then!"
He went next to the table. Well, Alice didn't know if it was realy a table. Sometimes it appeared to be a nice round table, sometimes she was sure that it was a very tiny table like the one she saw the day she came to wonderland for the first time and sometimes she could swear that it was just a big mushrow.
Three men were around the table, sitting in strange chairs. The first of them had a red bow tie and looked very tired. The second one had a giant hat that only the Mad Hatter could have come up with along with a giant green fearther and was looking at the limonade that the Hatter had brought with a weird face. The third one had a rose tucked in his shirt pocket and looked realy depressed.
The Hatter spoke. "Hello guys!"
"Hi Hatter." the second one said in a suicidal tone.
"Whatever!" said the third one.
"Mfftnn…" added the first.
"Alice" the Hatter said " theses are Sir Hennigam, King Henry-Charles the first and Sir Longburried. Gamers, that girl is Alice Liddell. She is british too."
That wasn't the first time Alice met with royalty but she still didn't know what to expect after her bad experiences with the kings and queens of Wonderland.
"What? Is it my turn already?"
The Mad Hatter keeped talking.
"I have some limonade since you don't want tea. I don't know what you possibly could have against tea but here is the limonade and here are the glasses!"
Then he started to ask them how they were doing and other such mundane things.
None of the men had stood up and none of them had offered a chair but she decided that speaking with people wasn't a pleasure when you need to look down at them. She started to sit down in the extra chair when something hit her. The next thing she knew, she was on the grass with a lot of pain in her head region and a warm hand on her neck. A hand. An arm in fact. An arm with excentric closes on it.
"Reginald! You better have a very good explanation for that! Or nobody will ever find your body!"
But the Hatter didn't try to protect himself like he used to. She looked at him and he was realy angry.
"That, miss Liddell is the reason why I didn't want you to come!" he yelled.
"Don't you ever think before you do the things you do or are you completely stupid?"
"What?" she asked in a angry tone.
"You dare to insult me after you pushed me for no reason? I'll show you!" and she started to punch him.
But the Hatter, even if he always acted like a kid was a full grown man and he catched her hands without troubles.
"No reason? No reason? I-You-I!"
He took a deep breath.
"I am going to bake some cookies and I will come back."
And then he left.
"What is the damn matter with him?" Alice asked.
"You mean you don't know?" the first man asked taking some limonade.
"You were going to sit in the fourth chair!" the second one said.
"And your point is?" she asked sill angry.
"He tried to protect you." the third man told her.
"Yes, once you take a chair you are in the game! Theses are the rules!" the first man explained.
The three men had manage to confuse her.
"Mr Hatter tried to protect me from a card game? God, he is even more crazy than I thought he was!"
"You don't get it dear. That is not a simple card game. That is the boring game!" said the second man.
"All the players are doomed you know…" added the third man.
"I am sorry but you'll have to explain better if you realy want me to understand what you are saying…"
"Well, you do know the cheshire cat don't you?" the king asked
"And do you know what is his job darling?"
"No. Not realy. We never were good friends. I was almost killed by his fault."
"That's it!" Sir Hennigam said.
"That's his job." added Sir Longburried nodding.
"He his the gate keeper!" said the king.
"What? What gate are you talking about?
"Wonderland's gate!" the king explained.
"But from what does he keep the gate from?" Alice asked a little less confused.
The three men had a pause.
"From us child." said the king.
"From normal people!" he added.
"You three are normal?"
"Well, at least we were…" said Sir Longburried.
"Until he trapped us here…" said Sir Hinnegam.
"What do you mean trapped?" she asked slowly.
"The chesshire's cat acted like a friend the day we came to Wonderland." said the king.
"He invited us to play a card game and we were glad to accept…" Sir Hinnegam added.
"But after he explained the rules he said that he had to leave and told us to start without him." Sir Longburried conclued.
Alice took some time to think.
"But how are you doomed? I don't get it…"
"That game my child is the most boring game in the whole world. Nothing on Earth is worse!" the king explained.
"Yes… I did get that, but if it's such a boring game why don't you just stop playing?"
"Because none of us won." the king said.
"In fact, we have been stuck here for the last past 137 years…" Sir Hennigam said.
"And as far as we know, we will probably be stuck here for the next 137 years as well…" said Sir Longburried.
"But…" said Alice "how is that possible?"
"Well, the chesshire's cat is an expert with thoses tricks I was told." the king said.
"He sure knew what he was doing…" said Sir Longburried nodding.
"But how could you be all alive 137 years ago?"
"Oh? You don't know that either?" Sir Hennigam asked
"Nobody gets old in Wonderland… it's like time is on vacation or something…" said Sir Longburried.
"In fact that's why there is a gate keeper… to avoid a massive invasion by people who don"t want to die…" the king said.
Alice had another pause to process the datas the weird trio gave her.
"But how could you be alive? You surely need some food or sleep or…"
" Well, the Hatter bring us food and water…" Sir Hennigam said.
"And when we need to sleep, one of us take a long time to think about what he is going to play, allowing the others to have some rest." the king said.
"But trust me, you don't want to know about our other needs…" Longburried conclued.
"But I still don't get why you can't just forget about the game and leave…"
"Because it's against the rules!" Sir Hennigam replied in a indignant tone.
"And that would made cheater of us."said the king.
"And nobody likes cheaters." added Sir Longburried.
"Nobody in my family cheated since the war of the three tyrants and I most certainly will not be the one to start."the king finished.
"Well, in the first place, nobody is realy forced to follow the rules. In the second place, I am certain that people will understand why you would cheat. And in the third place, all of your ancestors are long dead and couldn't therefore care less about what you do." Alice explained slowly and in what she thought was a very reasonable tone.
"Surely you can't argue with me when I say that the rules are the rules." Sir Hennigam half-stated half-asked.
"But nobody is enforcing the rules!"answered Alice, her frustration rising.
"If rules were optional they wouldn't be rules! Do you want some limonade child? I think you are in delusion…" Sir Hennigam replied with such a patronizing tone that Alice's hand twitched wildly.
"I think I'll just pretend you don't exist…" Alice stated in barely restrained anger.
"It's of little consequence anyway. None of us can leave without losing his honor."interupted the king.
"Where is the honor in playing such a stupid game?" Alice couldn't help but be puzzled.
The king was grave.
"Absolutely nowhere. But this is not about gaining honor as much as it is about not loosing the one you already have. I won't leave until the game is finished, no matter what. I know it may be confusing for a lady as your kind don't ponder much these things…"
Alice cut him before the king forced her to comit regicide.
"But you can't throw away your life for your honor!"
"And pray tell why not? My forefathers gave their life away to keep their honor during the war. Certainly I can finish a game for them. It's not like I don't have the time."the king answered.
"I think I'll just ignore you too." Alice mumbled.
"So I'm the next then?"asked Longburried.
"Don't bother."he said shocking her "I won't stop playing either."
Alice was confused
"But you said you hated that game!"
"That much is true. I would gladly duel to the death the trice damned man of rope that invented it. But there are things I hate more." Longburried explained.
"Being a cheater."
"Why? Would it hurt your honor too?" Alice asked disdainfully.
He laughed a bit. "… No… but you see, I know how people treat cheaters and I realy don't care for it."
"But when you explain just why…"
"… they won't listen. Nobody listens to a cheater after all."
Her head was spinning.
"This is madness!"she mumbled.
"Hardly surprising since Hywen, or the Cheshire cat as you know him, came up with it."the king said.
"I wish to kill him so dearly! Him and that damned inventor!" Longburried added.
"I got it!" Alice exclaimed.
"I know a way for it to end!"
"Well. How would that be?"
"One of you must lose on purpose!"
"Hum… yes. That would do it. People root for losers." Longburried said.
"And one can indeed lose with honor."the king mused.
"Nothing in the rules forbids it." Hennigam stated neutraly.
"Well then, that's solved. You must lose."
"I can not. The hat I'm wearing indicates that I can only lose after the next round, provided that someone else lose this one."the king apologised.
"Impossible. I have an unatural luck with games. I don't win each time but I never lose." Longburried told her.
"You are the only one left then!"
"Indeed. But I don't think I'll be much help either. You see, what neither of my comrades explained to you is that his majesty has the most terrible luck. It's part of Hywen curse you understand. Doomed to everlasting defeat while forever wearing the winner's hat. And as only the last one of the turn realy lose, leaving a neutral and a winner…" Hinnegam trailed off.
"God how I hate him!" Longburried yelled in frustration.
"He has a twisted mind but it certainly works well."the king admited.
"I just wish I could sleep more."complained Hennigam with a sigh.
"Your story is very sad." Alice said. "But say, how come I never ever heard of you?"she asked the king.
"Where would you have?"
"In history books?"she ventured?
"Oh, well, you know what the Church has to say about books. If it isn't holly then it can't be trusted."the king stated solemny.
Alice never knew that the Church had that to say and was about to change subjects when the Mad Hatter came back with cookies.
"Here. I'll come back at 16h20. Come now miss Liddell. It won't be long before the Cheshire cat comes back now."
She followed him and they walked quietly for a while.
"Sorry for earlier mister Hatter." Alice apologised contritely.
He kept silent for some more time.
"They explained then?"
"Yes. It's crazy realy. I can barely believe they came from the normal world with how disturbed they are."
"If you stay here long enough, you will find that a great deal of people around here were tricked in a similar maner. I always wonder though. Does this place turn people that way or does he simply reveals how they realy are for all to see?"
Alice kept silent but she couldn't avoid thinking that at least if Wonderland eventualy made her mad, she wouldn't mind if it was the Hatter's kind of madness.