Somewhere during the descent I blacked out entirely. I woke up and regretted everything. This place was too brightly colored. The purples and pinks and oranges were glaring. There were trees that had lollipops hanging from them. A field of flowers swayed in the breeze with their petals turned toward the happy sun.
I closed both eyes and worked through the last few days slowly. As always, there had been too many rapid fire events coming together for me to make sense of it all. Most days I didn’t even try to figure out a rhythm or reason. My time in the hotel had made me want to change. I just, had no clue what to do.
The first goal was simple enough - in theory. Get up and wander around until The Alice, who was likely to be on a rampage, found me. After that we could try to unravel the other Alice, what the Ghost Buster meant, and kicking Ted in the balls.
Standing up proved to be a struggle. My leg had fallen asleep. The slippers that kept me warm were gone. Sunlight from above made lying there an attractive prospect.
I worked to get up again. Time kept marching despite the physical damage which had mounted. My arms were sore and screamed if they moved too fast. A twisted ankle threatened to roll every time I put pressure on it.
Lots of effort scooted me one inch at a time toward the flowers. I didn’t know where else to go. This place didn’t have roads nearby. No rabbits came through while hopping mad about their tardiness. My efforts to hear background music or other sound effects failed.
The flowers tilted in my direction. I paused my inchworm behavior to watch for signs of insanity. Sure enough as they tilted over little people were encased in the petals. The blooms turned down to form wide bottomed dresses. Their ladies inside were all sorts of ages and colors.
Most held small versions of yard sticks which they beat against their other hands.
“Ladies,” I mumbled. The drugs were still in my system a bit. This might be a hallucination.
“Ladies he calls us,” the largest red rose said. The others tittered and spoke in hard to hear high pitched tones. She sniffed and banged the ruler hard enough to make her stalk quiver. At least she wasn’t a tiger-lily.
Three different flowers spoke in turn.
“This is Mistress Rose you philistine.”
“Do be a good little boy and use the correct name.”
“You will, won’t you? Or else. I must say,” the last properly threatened.
I blinked calmly then fought the rolling of my eyes. Mistress Rose had a black stalk under her red petal dress. Broken and addled me didn’t like the way any of this sounded. They kept cracking those small sticks. They weren’t even really yardsticks - but these were a bunch of ten inch high ladies made of madness and flowers.
And, I’ll let you in on a little secret. All girls are made of madness and flowers. Even the ones who don’t like flowers. That simply leaves them more room for insanity, but this felt vaguely like a Wonderland - which meant crazy was par for the course.
“Of course. I’d never dare go against Mistress Rose. Perhaps you kindly, Mistresses could help me find someone,” I said. Mistresses were bad business. Even Ted said as much. What I wanted was a morally ambivalent woman. The Alice seemed pretty damn clear on that front. Insane and without qualms. She was probably building that pile of corpses right this moment.
“Well, you pathetic man, you’ve found someone. Many someones. We’d be more than happy to put a big dullard like you in his place.”
It wasn’t what she said, so much as how she said it. Somehow I got the feeling they wanted me under their boots, or stalks. Which probably meant as fresh fertilizer. They were changing positions and slowly encircling me.
I inched backward and found a obstruction behind me. Turning my head revealed a tree that hadn’t been there a moment ago. It laughed, like a deeply inbred southern hick might laugh.
“I’m afraid we can’t permit you to leave before your session is over.”
“Oh. I’m good. Our short time together has been more than satisfactory,” I responded absently. These flowers creeped me out and the pain didn’t help. Drugs were fading. There were wounds on my side. A series of scabs on my arm tore and blood seeped out into the ground. I looked at Mistress Rose as she grew even taller.
“How is it Mistress Lily?” the red rose asked.
My arm itched. Something rough brushed against a tear in my side from one of the endless fights. I looked over to find one of the flowers rubbing herself upon my skin. She rubbed a pedal formed chest and licked at the blood. She gulped a single drop which tainted her colors and made her tiny mouth hang open in a gasp. That could only be described as lewd. I jerked my arm away. It knocked her over. Mistress Lily twitched then giggled.
“Naughty boy!” Mistress Rose yelled then snapped her tiny yardstick. “Stump! Hold him! And take care not to damage the goods further than they already are.”
That sounded bad. I bent my body and worked a knee under me. The escape attempt didn’t go fast enough. Sunlight from above dimmed as the tree groaned. Branches rustled and leaves encroached from all sides.
If I could stand up then their presence wouldn’t have been so imposing. As that thought occurred, long thick branches wrapped around my waist and under armpits. They pulled me up and into the air. My eyelids fluttered from fresh waves of pain. I jerked my head around then another branch poked me back into position.
“Idiottsss,” I slurred with half a lungfull of air. The big bubba bodyguard tree tightened its hold then laughed again. Something prodded my backside and it probably wasn’t a branch. I mean it probably also consisted of wood. Just - nevermind.
Their leader Rose shook her head. “Now, now. No talking back. We’re not those kind of flowers. We will cause the wounds around here.”
This felt wrong. In the sane world, bondange was a bit more controled. Smart people talked about it ahead of time. Mistresses were careful with paying clients. Then I realized - the insanity that followed me around couldn’t care less about social niceties.
“So good,” the tiny yellow creature moaned. That Lily, small and flowery though she was, twitched on the ground as my blood dripped down. Her back arched awkwardly and the flower pedals that made up her dress rustled. Her stalk clenched tightly.
Rose nodded. “Excellent. He’ll keep us satisfied until he’s been broken. The poor dear. At least we’ll have a good time. Won’t we girls?”
“Yes, Mistress Rose,” the crowd of flowers chimed.
Too bad I’d been broken long ago. Flux hovered to the side filming my awkward scene. If I had my way, the film of me being bound by nature and bled, while some flowers orgasimed from blood, would never be made public.
But here we are, discussing it. So you and I both know how much my desires actually matter.
“Flux! Copy me-” A tree branch whacked me. The big lug laughed and that knot at my back got more obvious. I clenched my butthole while swearing quietly.
Flux copied nothing. The machine bobbed quietly, ignored by everyone but me. My eyelids fluttered and brain ran through all the terrible things I’d do to these stupid flowers. It’s no wonder Alice was psychotic. If these sorts of places repeatedly pulled me in every other week I would have gone madder than I already was. Adopting the knife first and ask questions later strategy sounded like a matter of survival.
“Let me-” I said. The tree hit me again.
Dozen of flowers circled my body. Small sticks whacked against my feet repeatedly. The slippers that kept me warm were gone. I couldn’t move my arms. Neither leg came free. Every movement got me smacked by a living tree then more tightly bound against - whatever.
More than one flower stopped to taste the blood. These creatures were tiny sadistic dominatrix vampire flowers. I shuddered but managed to keep myself from passing out again. Multiple flowers lost themselves to moaning like Lily had done. I looked down and the sight didn’t help me keep my head on straight.
“You’ll re-” I tried to warn them.
“Shut him up Stump. Now,” Mistress Rose commanded. She smacked the tree and the knot at my back dimmed. Branches rustled and a rope like vine wrapped around my face.
I’d thought that flowers in Wonderland only moved because of hard beds. That was clearly not the case. At least not in this version. Flowers outright writhed in disturbingly interesting undulations because they were crazy. This, from the man who dove into open air without a plan for landing. This, from a man who had been gassed three times by a high school girlfriend turned villain.
Okay, so you may get the idea that I’m a pervert simply by noticing. I have three responses to that. First, it’s really difficult not to notice when this stuff is happening. Second, when life is shit you take what little pleasures you can. Third, I was twenty one and a lot of super powered people are distractingly well formed. So yeah, I noticed.
Mistress Rose hit my legs again but I felt nothing. She pointed the stick up in my direction. I could barely make out her short form passed the vine in my mouth. Rose said, “You’re not groaning anymore! Pay attention! To what is happening!”
She snapped my feet again. My feet were numb. A warm tingle existed around my shins but below that - nothing. The flower mistresses poked the yardstick in which made me grumble absently through the gag.
“Stump. This one’s gone sour too soon. Are you cutting off his circulation?” Rose said.
The tree groaned slowly.
“Well, shake him a bit,” she responded.
The branches loosened. I took a breath then struggled to get a warning out.
“You’ll regre-” I said. The rope tightened my mouth once more. My entire world went upside down. Warmth trickled down, well up, whatever - blood from the fresh wounds crawled up my inverted leg.
All the flower ladies hushed at once - save the few writhing in distracting pleasure. The tree groaned in a tune that raised in pitch toward the end. A rhythmic clomping sound filled the air. I struggled to one side which made the giant tree start chuckling.
“Ho there!” a creaky voice voice shouted with more energy than it should rightly have.
The tree turned slightly, with me in tow. The flower patch girls all gave high pitched screams. Mistress Rose hobbled away immediately upon her blackened stalk. Even the distracted ones broke away from their self indulgence and looked around. I bobbled to see if the bindings were loosened.
Below me two dozen flower girls fled. Watching them flee gave me a bubbly rush of energy. I bobbled harder and wiggled my head. The tree shuddered as a ripple went through the entire piece of forest. Stump groaned loudly and the branches loosened. I slumped to the ground as a fresh bout of pain spiked up my legs.
My rescuer lived in dull metal armor that couldn’t be bothered to gleam dramatically. He wore a bobbling horse costume around his waist. It stuck out a few feet in either direction. The man tromped around in the former flower bed. Some of the more blissfully unaware creatures were now piles of mush beaten down by armored feet. Others, which had attempting to flee were groaning in pure pain.
I did not feel guilty, at all. Not even a little bit. I mean, Lily - one of the half crushed flowers - was still writhing in pleasure with her red stained petals. Maybe she’d regrow to torture the next weird denizen of wherever the hell I was.
The knight kept tromping around demolishing her flower bed friends. His horse costum continued to bob as the knight spun around. A clomping noise came out every few feet. I gave his timely emergence a six and the clothing a four at best.
“You seven mistresses with seven whips could lash out for half a year. But do you suppose,” the old knight said. “You’d ever pierce this armor?”
The knight tried to make his words rhyme. The questioning tone in his voice turned up in confusion. His eyes crossed. It sounded like he tried to say armor and ear at the same time.
Flowers groaned. Some shooted away. The tree writhed behind me. My old knight rescuer waved around a large sword. It looked heavy enough to break his twiggy arms.
I almost clapped but both hands were still partially bound. I worked steadily to remove the vines. A ripple passed through me as the sharp pain started to catch up. I needed something to stop the itching. Or cloth to bind the wounds until the clotted. If I was lucky those little sticks had only marked me skin deep.
The next step was bandages. History proved that my survival came guaranteed. Consciousness did not. Blood loss could be mitigated with enough tightly bound fabric.
“Flux, copy my shirt!”
The floating eyeball did it’s thing. Soon I was the proud owner of a second piece of screwed up cloth. This one got torn to shreds. Somewhere out there in dreamland the other version of Purple Prose should start turning to dust then vanishing. I reached for the last joker card. It might do something useful or blow up the world. I tossed the item out and it flickered then vanished.
“Typical,” I muttered.
“My lady, are you alright?” the knight asked.
Stump barely moved. That thud earlier had bene a large lance slamming into its trunk. The tree had toppled over and roots were flopped out in a mess pile. They looked almost like big floppy tree sized clown shoes.
Flower ladies groaned. Some slunk away, crushed but still alive. Lily, who hadn’t made it far, writhed in pleasure as more drops oozed from my torn up feet. I ripped the fresh shirt to shreds and started binding the wounds. Little yellow Lily reached out a hand toward my leg while moaning. Her face shook in denial.
So, today qualified as weird but almost within normal bounds.
I casually looked around at the mess. My knight pulled back his helmet. He wore only a top piece that barely stayed upon his withered head. The sword that had looked monstrous seemed less impressive now. Defeated and trampled flowers kept crawling away with their insane tenacity. There was one problem left to solve before moving on to find Alice.
“Can I borrow your sword?” I asked.
“I say, of course not. A knight and his sword shall never be parted,” my rescuer responded.
My eye twitched.
“Flux! A copy of the sword.” Even a temporary one would do for my purposes. In fact it might be better.
Flux, who’d been questionably close to one of the naked flower ladies writhing in pain, stopped and scanned the knight’s weapon. Seconds later I was the proud owner of a giant blade that was surprisingly light.
“I say! What are you doing?”
I stood up and tested my feet. They still stung like mad as feeling returned. The rush of endorphins that numbed them earlier couldn’t win against fresh pressure.
“Taking revenge for my chastity,” I answered calmly. Let the knight make of that what he would.
The tree, which had already been skewered by a lance, reached out with weak tendrils of vine. Using swords confused me but the idea of hacking away with both hands made sense. I struck at every febal branch to come my way until reaching the knotted portion that had attempted to make friends.
I followed the age old idea of ‘point end goes in’ and jabbed my replica sword straight into the knot. The tree groaned as every remaining branch fluttered wildly. It bent over toward me and I gave one more swift kick driving the sword further in.
“Eeeeeeee,” it whispered, then went still.
I kicked it a few more times. The toppled tree did not respond. Maybe it’d be a real stump at this rate. Maybe it wouldn’t matter. These places were all transitory to me anyway, once an Alice did her thing, the world vanished. Or at least I thought it did.
“Well done miss. Well done. Such a fiend will never outgrow that humiliation. But you’ll never be a knight, lady or no, if you let go of the weapon so quickly.”
“I’m a guy,” I said slowly. Once standing, I could see a road. There would be answers down one direction or to other. My feet fucking hurt. Every step made me breathe deeply to avoid passing out.
“You’ll want some salve on that soon miss. I’ve just the thing.” The knight hobbled along next to me with his clanking horse and thin looking armor. His sword sat back in its sheath. The old man's’ thin arm shot down inside his pants and fumbled around until he pulled out a tiny bottle.
His potion said drink me. I didn’t and wouldn’t. It was probably lacked with something terrible. It might heal me then turn me into a purple frog. At the very least the bottle was sweaty, gross, and disturbingly warm. I felt better anyway, sort of. Good enough to limp along.
“I’m a guy,” I said while pocketing the disturbing concoction. White was never a good color for any drinkable liquid. Not in my book.
“Not a damsel? I expected a reward! Why, my time is worth a thousand pounds a minute!” explained the knight. “I’ll trade you to another flower bed I shall. They’ll threatened and curse then bath in your blood like a flock of well paid bed warmers.”
I said nothing. The old man clopped forward on his hobby horse. Despite the wood and fabric making up its body, the mount made clopping noises. Every few minutes it snorted or whinned. I didn’t look, but it probably left behind road apples for the unwary wanderer.
“Is Alice this way?” I asked, trying to get my life back on track. Index fingers pointed down different stretches of road.
“Of course this is Alice’s way,” the knight responded. “All ways are Alice’s way.”
“Which way goes to Alice,” I clarified. Maybe I should have used the sword on the old knight. Then I could steal his hobby horse and amble off down the road pretending to be a knight in dull armor.
What would Alice think?
“All roads lead to Alice.”
This was not Rome. I went left. The knight clomped up.
“Worry not fair damsel. I shall lead you onward!”
Life hurt a little bit less as time passed. Instead, it grew more annoying. The knight talked nonstop. Like forever, if it could be measured. We’re fast forwarding this part because I’m fairly sure somewhere in the middle my mind broke. I mean, more so than normal. It’s best not to think about it.
Anyway, the knight must have had a reputation, or my powers were burned out. Nothing super insane happened during our entire walk. There were creatures in trees as we walked by. Small eyes and disturbing grins that stretched for miles but had no faces attached. Still, nothing dove out at us. No one demanded blood, a toll, or doggerels created on the spot.
I can tell you now, the knight reminded me a lot of Ted. Only older, frailer, and with funny spoken words.
Then we arrived in new territory. A checkered land stretched on passed hill and dale. Trees were planted carelessly across the square’s borders. Some split down the middle, others twined upward but their red and black spawned branches never truly touched.
“How bizarre,” I said to myself.
“Bizarre? No, everything here is perfectly logical. The flowers for example?”
It was another topic that didn’t interest me.
“The rose, you see. It was original a rosebed and they’re thorny girls.”
I nodded, which abruptly halted as two new people lumbered out from behind a nearby tree. They proudly walked toward us with their large chests on display. They looked like the Wonder Twins with their wondrous pairs. They dressed with the same lack of fabric. Their colors however weren’t slick yellows or metallic gilded fabric. These garments were checked just like the rest of this mad-scape.
I wasn’t sure how to label them. Do you guys have any ideas? I mean I learned their names eventually - but not at this point. For another few months they remained right breasts and left breasts and both were the best chests. See, I bet you’re as lost as I was.
“Move along!” shouted one chest displaying twin.
“Along you should move,” the other said.
“And be gone before we’re forced to wake the King in his castle.” Their arms lifted in unison to point. I stayed glued on their swaying assets for a moment before following shapely arms the left.
And there was the castle. One that was literally right the fuck there. The drawbridge was twenty feet away at most. No, I didn’t see the damn thing until then. No, I’m sure that my narrowed minded appreciation of well I’m fairly sure space just bent sideways to make it work. Welcome to Wonderland.
Though the castle was kind of small. And it had wheels that would have been better suited to a huge freight truck.
“Some king you’d wake. Dead in his bed is what’s said. Dead abed and without his head. Alice saw to that,” the knight said then scoffed. “Didn’t like being called a dream.”
“Ah, right.” The girls bobbed their heads then scratched their scalps in a perfectly mirrored action. I looked at the trio then back to the castle.
I mean really, where had the damn thing come from? Even with the wheels it may no sense.
“Alice?” I absently questioned.
“More like Malice,” the twins said. They must have been a twisted version of Tweedledee and Tweedledum. Though why they looked like strippers from the real world was beyond me. Both wore lapels with an illegible label. I stared a bit too long and one of the twins winked at me then shook her assets slightly.
Sometimes these places were weird. I didn’t recall any that mimicked stuff I’d had to deal with recently. The portals did often have a flavor of real world events. Mole people, as an example - in the last Wonderland.
The knight scoffed again. His gray whiskers shook.
“She scares me not. I guarded her bed while she slept. I kept her safe while she wept. I have no fear from my little Alice.” The knight stood up straighter and brought a fist to his chest. “And you two can’t frighten me away from being her knight in shining armor.”
“She’s a woman now and not your Alice,” the left twin said.
“His armor’s better so she’s his Alice,” the other one followed.
My armor? I blinked in confusion then pretended none of what they said mattered. Standing still grew harder and my feet still hurt. Miles of landscape had gone by and I desperately wanted more sleep.
“His Alice? All of them?” the knight responded.
The twins kept talking in turns. I couldn’t keep track of which one was which - mostly because every time I tried to pay attention their features bounced. It was like standing next to two high-class strippers sweaty from a workout. They kept right on talking anyway.
“What’s the matter with that?” one girl started.
“That’s all that matters,” her twin said.
They sounded exactly like the Wonder Twins. They walked like the Wonder Twins. They puffed their chests out like the Wonder Twins. But I’d left that pair back at Ted’s secret hideout. Either this place pulled from imagination to form such nonsense, or something was more wrong with the world than I originally thought. At least the knight was easy to pick out.
“There’s no matter without that,” one of the twins said.
“What about the Hatter?” he asked with a wheeze.
“Wore one too many hats and lost his mind. But not his head.”
“Contrariwise, he might have lost his head when he bound an Alice.”
“But not the malice Alice,” the said in unison. They sighed and I looked over in time to see them both let their arms drop in frustration.
“Yes. The other one. The one through the Looking Glass.”
“Contrariwise, the one who thinks we’re through a Looking Glass.”
I refused to call them Tweedledum and Tweedledee. They were both double d’s but that had no bearing on naming them. Well, mostly.
“The hatter did?” the knight cut in.
“No. The dormouse. Trapped her in a teacup.”
“Ah, right. The dormouse. Feisty little girl,” the old knight said. His hobby horse whinnied abruptly which made both the twins laugh.
I put a palm over my face then took deep breathes. Their banter had lost me completely, parts of it anyway. There was a certain amount of sense to their words too but I couldn’t let it infect me. Emily the dormouse? That’d make curly the March Hare.
“Is she alright?” the knight asked.
Twins shaking heads were visible from the corner of my eye. They moved in perfect unison. I shook my head too then tried to focus on the castle and standing up straight. Ragged days of nonsense events left me with a low breaking point. Clearly I’d gone around the bend a few weeks ago.
“Well, Adam?” the twins asked.
“Well, what?” I asked while turning back toward the trio of fantasy land people.
“The malice Alice is in her palace, waiting for you,” they both said while pointing to the nearby drawbridge.
“I’ve been put out to pasture. Why, my time was worth a thousand pounds a minute,” the knight grumbled. “Well. Perhaps she was too old for a knight like me. Maybe she stopped needing my arm to fight her fights.”
“You taught her well.” the twin with the most skin displayed said.
“Perhaps too well,” the other twin responded. Who was I kidding, they both had the same amount showing.
I blinked then put my thoughts in order. As much as one could in this confusing place.
“It’s so hard to keep myself straight out here. The frame work is all wrong,” the knight said abruptly. His head shook slowly. His mustache wiggled around making the motion more exaggerated. “We repeat the same themes like creatures stuck in time, subjected to the whims of a mad queen. Sir whomever, I implore you, if your armor is truly better, then put it to use. Stand in front of the young lady for me.”
He had me confused. What armor was he on about now? My clothes were a mess and nothing about me screamed ‘knight’. I might qualify as a downtrodden squire or serf.
“It doesn’t help that our malice Alice thinks you’re a dream,” the first twin spoke with her sweetly annoying voice.
“The other Alices think you’re a dream too,” the second twin with an equally aggravating tone.
“Of course I’m a dream. Of course,” the knight harrumphed. “Though her mother was a kinder woman before she was eaten by the true Jabberwock. A terrible battle that was. The armies of madness still linger despite our efforts.”
Okay. So, if I’d been tuning them out before - this entire conversation set my hair on end. Words like ‘armies of madness’ or ‘her mother’ and let’s not forget ‘eaten’ made me jerk my head to the side. Both arms tingled, my groin tightened in fear. There was this sinking feeling my stomach that grew worse.
That was the problem. I had the slightest clue of what they really were and that scared the shit out of me. Jaded interdimensional traveler, frequent abductee, and a man who’d tripped balls then seen a faerie throne with souls chained to it - was scared.
I looked back at the twins and knight focused only on their eyes.
They were pitch black dots that felt like they would swallow part of my mind whole.
“Best go in, sir. We’ve a need to change you see,” the one on the left said.
“Contrariwise, we might have already been changed and you didn’t realize it,” said the right one.
“Shame. I love these clothes.”
“Oh. These clothes are lovely.”
They grew closer and that deep blackness grew larger. It reminded me of the Hostess from that hotel. A marking of the otherworld. Of being more than mere mortal eyes like mine could ever see.
The chill crawled up my back. I took short breaths then reminded myself that dying was impossible. It didn’t help. They reached out in perfectly mirrored unison. I tensed.
They weren’t simply copies of the bedtime story twins. They weren’t simply recreations of Ted’s companions.
“But all things must pass,” the twins said with a nod.
“Even you,” the other followed up.
Four hands pushed me forward to the bridge.
I stumbled backward. The checkerboard setting stretched up beyond my sight. My neck immediately craned back as both twins distorted wildly with the rest of Wonderland. Everything bent, twisted, and jerked around like television static. An abrupt swirl of black and red light took over and everything disappeared with a soundless click.
I don’t know how something could click and have no sound. It did dammit.
Behind me the tiny castle doorway sat. I shivered while staring at the blackness. It stared back and seemed to smile. Maybe it didn’t - but something was out there, watching. I knew it.
I turned then walked stiffly through the castle doorway. On the other side of the doorway sat another checkerboard land. Twenty feet away was a raised dias, much like the one Ted used for his throne. This one had four seats and a pile of dead bodies.
A black haired girl paced across the platform. Her feet clicked sharply with each step. The ground vibrated with intensity. I glanced side to side, half expecting the landscape to distort and tentacles to come out. None did.
“This isn’t right!” The Alice shouted then sobbed like any melancholy maiden. “I shouldn’t be stuck! Everything’s dead! I killed them all! I wear the crown! There are no more kings and queens upon the board! So why am I still here?”
I stood there watching, worried, and wondering why there’d been no background music. In the distance something rumbled hard enough to shake the ground. My eyes shot in either direction searching out the source while The Alice ranted.
“Why can’t I wake up? Why can’t I wake up? Why? This nightmare never ends!” She snarled then grabbed the throne. Her arms jerked it sideways and sent it spiraling down the steps.
There, in the distance, was the source of rumbles. A huge wave of undulating creatures were charging across the checkerboard landscape.
“Alice?” I said while walking quickly.
She turned with an unholy glare that rapidly softened. “Oh, Adam. Baby. Where have you been? It’s so boring here. But see, I promised you a pile of corpses,” the woman gestured. I stepped over, squinted, and attempted to figure out what was coming.
The Alice walked quickly toward me while pulling down her apron shoulder straps. Her mouth hung open and eyes were glazed. By the time she reached me the top hung loose and most buttons on at her hip were undone.
I ignored her swooping in for an awkward kiss, grabbed both shoulders, moved her to the side, and looked at the oncoming mass. There were monsters. They were unfriendly based on the large teeth and bloodshot eyes. None of them resembled the normal Wonderland cuddling bits of insanity I’d encountered before.
“This place is madder than normal. I think we should run,” I suggested.
The Alice turned to see the oncoming mass. For once her normal bloodlust upon seeing a Wonderland creature simply didn’t appear. Instead her mouth hung open slightly and lips no longer curled in a grin. She said, “Oh.”
Then her knees wobbled and breathing increased. I looked at her, the charging horde, then back to The Alice again. She looked like a terrified victim being put on some alien’s operating table.
And anything that could scare The Alice, wielder of knives and psychotic personal theme music, terrified me. My hands shook as they put her straps back into place.
Maybe this wasn’t Wonderland. I had another thought as the images of that old knight and the make believe twins hit me - maybe this had never been Wonderland at all. Maybe it was darker, and scarier, and worse than anything I’d ever expected.
It wasn’t until much later that I’d learn how right I was. At the moment, I knew we needed to flee.
Oddity Study Highlights
Other Reality Beings
Translated from Technobabble by Captain Longhall, the sucker currently in charge of Area Fifty One
So basically, there’s this entire swath of powered people that frequently interact with ‘other realities’. Most of the time these are localized constructs that are probably closer to a dream than any sort of actual reality.
If that part sounds familiar - that’s because it is. Doctor Hat Man, the biggest loudmouth in this field, insists there’s some great either bubble around or reality that fuels everything. There probably is. This is separate from actual other dimensions - and I’m not explaining this right so we’ll try again.
Our reality has Earth, all things in space (Mars, other Earth, Alien planets), all powered people
Other realities have their Earth, all things in their space (Their Mars, whatever), all their powered people
Around our reality is the bubble that fuels everything.
Around their reality is their bubble that fuels everything.
But here’s the real danger - and one that I’ve connected together from multiple reports. One that freaks me out and has put me in front of the ‘exit plan’ floor more than once. All these constructs pulled from ‘the bubble’ are formed by powered people using thoughts, rituals, or standing in the right spot while peeing. But there are a few more factors in the food chain.
First, there’s rumor of a type of, creature, or creatures maybe - who’s sole job is breaking these items back down. The return items pulled from the bubble back to formlessness. To energy. They clean things up. I’ve heard told (By Doctor Hat Man) that these are mindless critters by all accounts who die upon entering the real world. They exist only out there, in the dreams made real or interdimensional strongholds. There’s a file for ‘Cleaners’...and the name is misleading.
Then there’s another type of creature. The one’s out there who are smart and thrive in incomprehensible madness. One’s who think it’s all a game. They were bits of reality like second skins. They slip in and out of the bubble and our reality. They may slip between other realities and their bubbles. I don’t know. There’s a file for ‘Others’ - and you’ll need drugs before talking to the Mystics about this one.
Then I hear there’s even more to this. An idea which scare Doctor Hat Man. He says there are beings powerful enough to order the smart creatures around. What’s their goal, I wonder? Where do they hide? Is it in plain sight? Or is it something more disturbing - like a powered person that’s chained intelligent sharks and believe it’s safe to swim. For now, we’ve titled them ‘Caretakers’, and I have my suspicions. I mean, Doctor Hat Man has a talking Ferret, and I’ve seen it eat dogs in one bite.