‘’ I’m not the daughter of the Red Queen.’’ I reprise over and over again. Since I’ve waken up from my conscious black-out, I’ve been given 10 cups of teas, 3 cakes and a constant reply of ‘’ Yes you are Venus.’’
‘’ But I’m not. My mother is Helena Iracabeth Thornbush. My father is Edward Stayne Wayward.’’ I shudder whenever I hear their names. I don’t know why.
Hatter snaps his fingers. ‘’ Wake up girl. Listen to their middle names. Iracabeth. Stayne.’’ The names reverberate through my head. Oh My God. OH MY GOD. Oh. My. God. I bang my head on the table.
‘’ Yeah.’’ He tuts. ‘’ Well. I don’t know what to say.’’ He takes off his top hat and places it on the table.
‘’ But they must have been in Aboveland. I was born in a hospital in London. My aunt took a picture of it.’’ I gaze at Hatter breathing deeply. ‘’ Did they ever come above Wonderland?’’
Absolem flicks through the Oraculum desperately. ‘’ Well back when the Red Queen was exiled, she could have escaped Wonderland and went Above. There is no record of it in the Oraculum but it is a possibility. The White Queen went to see her sister and wouldn’t say where she was. It could have been Above as it’s forbidden for us to go Above unless there is an emergency.’’ I repulse in scepticism.
‘’ It just can’t be possible. But the Red Queen wasn’t nice to me or any-‘’ I break off. ‘’ She knew I was coming. She doesn’t have the Oraculum so she didn’t know like you guys. She sent McTwisp, Mally, the Tweedles and Dodo.’’ I arise and start pacing round the table. The March Hare twists his head the way I stride. ‘’ She obviously has been in contact from me Above and I didn’t know as they brainwashed me into coming here.’’ I stop striding for a minute. ‘’ So why does she and her sister and Alice want to kill me?’’
‘’ I don’t know Venus.’’ Absolem slithers off his chair. ‘’ But I do know that you’re giving all of us a headache from striding.’’ He nods to Hare whose eyes are going round and round.
‘’ Sorry.’’ I halt my steps. ‘’ But there must be a-‘’ I’m cut off by a colossal rumble reverberating throughout the ground. Cheshire Cat disappears and all we see is a blur of cyan and mauve. The March Hare starts bounding towards the end of the Mill. Hatter grabs my dress and pulls me away from the table. That’s when I notice the luminosity of what looks like a portal.
‘’ What’s happening?’’ I shout over the top of the roar. Hatter leans in and whispers ‘’ Bandersnatch.’’
‘’ I thought that was dead?!’’ I exclaim my voice raised an octave. Is any of the characters dead?
‘’ No it’s just blind. It relies on smell and sound. It must have heard us singing the Unbirthday Song. Now just run!’’ So we run. And run. And run to the portal. It twists and turns and forms and reshapes the closer we get to it. Nearly there… Bang! Thump! The Bandersnatch lands in front of the portal and impedes it. Its roar echoes through the land and the Red Knights leap out from behind it.
‘’ Its owner is the Red Queen.’’ Hatter mutters under his breath to me. I breathe raggedly in fear. We’re all going to die. Well apart from Ches. He’s gone and disappeared again. Damn cat! Always leading us into danger! Betrayer!
The leading Red Knight steps out with a clank, clank of its armour. ‘’ Well, well if it isn’t good old Absolem and his conniving friends.’’ He grins showing blinding white teeth. I grimace.
Absolem doesn’t say anything. He stands in silence puffing his cigar. This time plum flames cascade out of the end. It swifts towards the Red Knight’s face. He bats it away with poise and regains his posture.
‘’ Aaaah! Why it isn’t the March Hare who once was a follower of Iracabeth.’’ I stare at the March Hare in horror. He probably couldn’t help it. He always was a coward, always will be a coward.
Hare spits at him. ‘’ It was a mistake. And I fought through the torture. Unlike you and your… accomplices.’’ He smirked. I’ve never known him to stand up to anyone. I smile kindly towards him.
‘’ I gratify my thanks to you too. Your scent was the one our Beast has tracked.’’ The Knight took a long whiff of him. ‘’ You smell extraordinarily of tea. So British.’’ He scoffs.
The March Hare quivers and thumps his foot on the grass. ‘’ Its, correct me if I’m saying it wrong, Wonderlandian tea. Not British. British tea is nasty.’’
The Knight’s nose flared and the guards extend their spears out. ‘’ Murderlandian tea. Not Wonderlandian. That doesn’t exist anymore.’’ His nose flinches in anger and I can see his eyes turn ebony.
‘’ My apologies.’’ Hare steps back.
‘’ Aaaah my favourite person of them all. The Mad Hatter.’’ He smiled again.
Hatter coughs awkwardly. ‘’ I’d prefer it if you called me Hatter. Not the Mad Hatter. We’re all equally mad here in Wonderland.’’ I smirked. Hatter would be perfect for our rebellion.
‘’ Something funny girl?’’ He raises his eyebrows. I fake a smile towards him.
‘’ No. I just like smiling a lot.’’ Hatter sniggers quietly underneath his breath. The Red Knight glares at Hatter.
‘’ You wouldn’t be laughing or speaking like that if you knew who I was.’’ He hissed and pointed at me, Hare and Hatter.
‘’ Why?’’ Hatter steps forward and bows tipping his hat off to him. ‘’ I’m so sorry, Your Majesty. I forgot how important you was to me.’’ March Hare sniggered manically.
‘’ Guards!’’ He flicks his hand towards us. ‘’ Take them to the Master.’’ The guards started to pick us up like we were dolls. ‘’ And for your information.’’ The Knight breathed out, like he was posing. He took off his mask and my stomach turns hurdles: it’s the Knave. My father. ‘’ I’m the Masters fiancé.’’ He smirked and strolled to his guards. ‘’ By the way, good job I’m not taking you to Third Master. She’d boil you.’’ I shudder in the Knight’s arms. ‘’ Alice will be pleased.’’
‘’ Well done Nutheads.’’ Absolem says. ‘’ Now we’ve got to escape from the castle.’’ Hatter rolls his eyes.
‘’ Don’t worry, guys.’’ I reassure them. I know the castle inside out, thanks to that tour from the apprentices. ‘’ I know the castle. We’ll get out: I have a plan.’’
So we’re carried back to the living Hell with the dismay of all of us. Cheshire is nowhere to be seen but I hope he comes to save us. If my plan doesn’t work, well, we’re in for it. Soon I see sight of Hell and I prepare my plan for us. It also involves Hatter. So he needs to be ready. Finally Ches comes and I sigh in relief. I tell him the plan I conjured and he disappears again. Thank God. I count the Knight’s footsteps with trepidation. 1…2…3…4…5…6. On the seventh step, we’re in. There must be a drawbridge on one side and ‘stepping stones’ on the other.
Back in the castle again. Woohoo! Back to regal paintings and blood coloured walls. Back to the hideous sight of Alice and her companions. God help us. I feel the Knight’s dropping us on the floor. We’re their puppets and they’re our Masters. I can see the picture. Kind of like Pinocchio but even more twisted than that.
‘’ Back again, Venus?’’ I hear the sharp voice of Red.
‘’ Yes. Brought along some of my friends, too.’’ My voice with pure sarcasm mixed in. I hear Alice cackle.
‘’ Why it isn’t my Hatter?’’ Alice’s voice contrasts to the Queen’s husky one. Her high-pitched voice freaks the hell out of me. ‘’ Hatter? Make me a hat!’’ She pouts and speaks like a baby.
Hatter gulps. Alice is his weakness, poor Hatter. ‘’ I have no material. I can’t make a hat.’’ He mutters under his breath. He kneels on the floor, still with an immaculate posture. She cackles obsessively again.
‘’ I don’t want a hat from you anyway. You’re too weak.’’ She spits the last word out with anger.
‘’ Why ask then? I am the best hat maker here. My parents are dead so I am the best.’’ He spat at the Queen. ‘’ You killed them.’’
‘’ Why my Jabberwocky did, not me.’’ She tuts sadly. ‘’ Shame that you’re old self, Alice, killed him.’’ She looks down at the floor and takes a crimson drink a fish servant handed to her.
‘’ I wish I didn’t Master. I would like to pet him.’’ She giggles again. Red sips her drink impatiently, most likely waiting to say the order to chop our heads. ‘’ March Hare! Glad to see you again. Long, long friends.’’ Alice continues.
‘’ Not friends with you. Just these lot here. Never you.’’ He raises his head. Impressive; two insults in one day.
‘’ Proud are you? To be friends with them?’’ She smiled showing yellow teeth. ‘’ Shame that you choose the wrong side each time.’’ She bangs her own head hard with her hand and mouths ‘bonkers’.
Time for me to speak up. ‘’ I think you’re the one who’s bonkers round here, not us.’’ I shout flicking my eyes to Alice. Hatter leers at Alice.
‘’ Twin! Why say that? It’s mean.’’ She leans her head forward and blows in my direction. My nose wrinkles.
‘’ I’m not your twin.’’ I mouth to Hatter, ‘I’m trying to be nice to her for us to escape.’ ‘’ I’m more than that. I shouldn’t have said that. I am mean sometimes. I don’t intend to be.’’ I force some tears to come out of my eyes.
‘’ Aww. You’re not that mean. Come, give me a hug.’’ She beckons me over. I hesitate but the guards let go of me. Time for the plan to work. I gave Alice a hug reluctantly. I hope she doesn’t recognize a sense of fear in my system: I’ll be doomed then.
‘’ Come Hatter.’’ Alice shouts. ‘’ You can come with us to my bedroom. We can make hats and try on clothes!’’ I mouth to Hatter to come. The guards let him go and he follows me.
‘’ What are you doing?’’ He hisses at me. I smirk.
‘’ Getting out of here.’’ I whisper back. ‘’ Hey Alice.’’ She turns to me looking sweet and kind. ‘’ You’ve forgot to say hello to Absolem.’’ Alice halts in front of me and gasps.
‘’ I forgot to say my greetings to Absolem! Wait here. I’ll be back.’’ She runs back off to the hall and into the room again.
‘’ Now come on!’’ Hatter exclaims. I shake my head.
‘’ Too risky, Hatter.’’ Alice comes back and links arms with us.
‘’ Let’s go.’’ And we half-heartedly trudging and treading to Alice’s bedroom.
‘’ I need to go to the bathroom. I’ll be right back.’’ Alice announces after an hour of ‘playing’ with her. We nod desperately. Thank God. I need to tell Hatter my plan. She skips off to the bathroom while we relax.
‘’ Hatter. Cheshire is helping Absolem and Hare to get away. I told him to be a ghost-‘’
‘’ What’s a ghost?’’ He asks inquisitively.
‘’ Why doesn’t everyone know what a ghost is?’’ I ask before answering his question. ‘’ It’s an invisible being that haunts people. Ches can do that and freak the Queen’s people and then they can escape. We are going to escape through the garden.’’ Hatter nods enthusiastically.
‘’ I love Above people.’’ He smiles kindly and leans back. ‘’ Call this a bedroom?’’ I laugh and Alice comes skipping back to us.
‘’ The Master wants us in the Garden. To play croquet. You have to watch then you get executed.’’ She giggles and we follow her obediently. She frequently mimics cutting off heads and laughing over and over again. I roll my eyes and follow out into the garden and I gasp.
It’s full of the colour scarlet. Covered. The trees are scarlet, designed in the shape of the Queen’s head. The grass is a muddy russet with no sign of life living there and piled in the corner of the ‘grass’ are hedgehogs and flamingos. At least they’re not dead. The Queen’s servants and people are absolutely repugnant. They have distorted faces and bodies like plastic surgery and makeup is plastered on their faces. Looks like fashion if it was Aboveland. The croquet pitch is the only thing that’s not russet or scarlet: its auburn.
The players were soldiers in line waiting for the game to start and for the Red Queen to signal the game. Alice, like a young toddler, bounced over to the Queen and clapped her hands. She stood by the Queen in a mother/daughter way. That’s what we were like Above. I shudder silently, hoping that she isn’t really my mother. The Queen ignores Alice and focuses her attention on us.
‘’ You okay, Venus?’’ Hatter whispers quietly. I nod even though I’m not and my instinct is to grasp his hand. I blush ruby like a tomato as it was by accident but he doesn’t let go. Soft and warm.
‘’ So the plan is, if we have to play, I swing the hedgehog far away by ‘accident’.’’ I make my hands turn into speech marks. ‘’ Then I take forever to find it. Then the Queen gets mad and you volunteer to ‘find’ me. Then we meet and go through the hole by the side of where I swung it.’’
Hatter nods. ‘’ What if the Queen sends someone else to ‘find’ you?’’
I didn’t think of this. ‘’ Then pretend you hit yourself with the flamingo and say ow at the top of your lungs. And I mean just the word ow.’’ Everyone does everything too literal. ‘’ Then ask to get a leaf from the bush because it is medicinal.’’ Hatter nods getting it.
‘’ Got it. But Venus,’’ He grips my hand harder. ‘’ Be careful. The Red Knights are more observant that the last time.’’ I nod. Okay. I can do this. I got an A in Acting at school, this should be a piece of cake; fooling a Queen!
‘’ Yoohoo!’’ Alice calls us over. ‘’ Get over here or else I’ll kill you myself!’’ The Queen’s people take a step back, away from Alice. I snigger. Tough army, Iracabeth.
Hatter swallows tensely. He’s never scared. Never prepared or scared and instead usually confident and improvising. But today he’s scared. Shaking and gulping.
‘’ Good luck, Venus.’’ He finally lets go of my hand and now I feel an icy chill overtaking the warmth that Hatter gave me. I rub my hands together.
The Red Queen coughs, ‘’ You are here today to have a trial for your execution.’’ She points to us. She looks me in the eye with a pure look of callous and coldness. ‘’ But you are here to play croquet now. And don’t try to escape: there are guards everywhere. They are bound to find you.’’ I furrow my nose in resentment. We’re escaping and that’s that. ‘’ Back of the line, losers.’’
We hiss in hatred. How dare she! But we trail the back of the line grabbing a hapless flamingo. I whisper to the flamingo,’’ Don’t worry. I won’t hurt you. Just do what I say and you can be released.’’ The flamingo nods his head in pain. I whisper the instructions to the poor creature and tell him to follow our lead.
‘’ Whoever’s whispering, stop! Their head will be off if it doesn’t stop.’’ Red shouts. I zip my mouth up and the flamingo nods understanding my muteness.
Each player has a go (the Queen and Alice twice). So far the Queen is winning by the obvious purposeful let-downs of the people. Alice is in second place, to the people’s dismay. They have to let them win or else their heads will be a stepping stone. I feel sorry for them. They can’t go and escape from the clutches of the Queen like us as they would be caught.
Soon it’s my go. Apprehensively, I step forward to the marked spot on the russet grass. I breathe intensely. 1…2…3...whoosh! My hedgehog flies and lands over where I aimed it. I smirk in victory. Good job I have good aim.
Someone coughs impatiently. ‘’ I’ll go get that.’’ I say ‘embarrassed’ of my failure. I rush over to the bush, pretending to cry carrying my flamingo with me. As soon as I’m there, I untie the flamingo so it is not in pain anymore. It nods and squawks quietly at me. It stretches its legs and sneaks out of the hole. I breathe in relief. I saved a life. Now let’s save another three. I untie the hedgehog and it crawls under the hole.
I hear the Red Queen saying; ‘’ Where is that brat?’’ I hear a scuffling near my bush. Uh-oh.
‘’ I shall find her, Your Majesty.’’ I hear Hatter skipping over to where I ran off to find my hedgehog.
‘’ Great. I heard a scuffling over by the bush. I thought it was a Knight.’’ I whisper.
‘’ No. A hedgehog wasn’t tied properly and the man who tied that hedgehog went to the prison to be executed.’’ I feel sorry for the man. It’s only a damn hedgehog.
‘’ Let’s go under the hole here. Have you got any drink to shrink us?’’ Hatter nods and smiles that I know some knowledge of Wonderland. He passes me a tiny vial of the drink and takes another for himself. I mouth 3, 2, 1 and we drink. It tastes like rhubarb and custard. We shrink with our clothes still on fortunately. ‘’ Let’s go.’’ I whisper excitedly. We walk through the hole as we were big enough to not crawl.
But then we hear Alice screech: ‘’ They’ve escaped!’’ We hear her scream and roar like a lion. The Red Queen shouts ‘’ OFF WITH THEIR HEADS!’’ And we run. We run and run and run. They won’t be able to see us though; we’re too-oh no… We’re growing bigger again! I gasp in fear and the Hatter stops running.
‘’ Hatter we’ve got to go! We’ve got to run!’’ I cry helplessly. He’s just stationary.
‘’ Sssh! I have a running ability. Grab hold of me.’’ I relentlessly try to run away. ‘’ Trust me!’’ He shouts. I pause my running and grab hold of Hatter. ‘’ Prepare to be blown away from my amazing power!’’ I grip tightly and we were off! I gaze in wonder at the blurred vision of Murderland. Just a flash of crimson and grey and obsidian. I see a portal and we run through it, light seeping behind us. We spend a few minutes in the Portal.
‘’ We did it Hatter!’’ I rush up to him and hug him. He looks startled but he hugs me back without any tension.
‘’ I just hope the others made it back safe. I think they have because I don’t know who set up this Portal.’’ He blabbers on and on but all I’m thinking about is our hug. It was amazing. He’s warm all over, a tingling warm. Like he’s full of fireworks. But he feels safer than fireworks. But then I see we’re out of the Portal. Weird. We’re still in Murderland.
Then I look at the face of Hatter. He’s turned a ghostly white with eyes wide in horror. I circle and gaze in the direction he’s gawking at. My nose flares and my eyes transform into ice. I’m back at the White Queen’s castle. And she is standing there waiting for me to come. 202Please respect copyright.ＰＥＮＡＮＡE2sxIto184