Part 3, The Curious Little Affair
I fell embarrassingly, face planted the ground and ate a good mouthful of grass I hadn’t quite wanted to eat. Jez obviously had a similar experience about two feet away, because she muttered “bastard” and began to spit.
“Now that’s hardly ladylike, Miss Jezabelle.” Said a familiar voice whose owner I really wanted to hurt at that moment.
“BASTARD.” Jez shouted even louder, “Don’t Miss Jezabelle me!”
“I do believe they’ve fallen on their heads.” Said another voice, smaller and squeaky, “Don’t you worry, you’ll fit right in!”
I looked up to see the cluttered and stained table with it’s checked tablecloth and odd array of dishes containing things I had never been brave enough to taste. There was a tall, elegant looking woman sat at the head of the table, with piercing green eyes and dead straight red hair. She wore a curious purple top hat with feathers and pins which completely clashed with her hair colour. She smiled and lifted a chipped china teacup to her lips. Hatteress Lunicie.
Beside her was a great hare wearing a monocle and a waistcoat, and he was currently trying to stuff the owner of the second voice, a similarly dressed dormouse that could have fitted into the palm of my hand, into a teapot.
I sighed and got to my feet, brushing down my dress… Oh god, they could have at least done away with the bloody dress! “Now play nice, Hare.” I warned the monocle wearing fiend, and seized the dormouse in my hand, placing him back into his tiny armchair, perched on top of a pile of books.
Jez’s right eye twitched when she realised the change of dress, and she marched straight up to the table to confront the hatteress, and to be honest with you (although she’d surely kill me for saying so), it was rather comical to watch her do so in petticoats, Mary Janes and a frilly embroidered apron. Her face was as red as the hatteress’s hair with pure rage.
The hatteress only raised one shocking eyebrow in amusement. “But green suits you dear.” She said, which was a really stupid move when Jez was already fuming.
“DO YOU HAVE ANY IDEA WHAT YOU’VE DONE!?” She screamed, “We were fine! We don’t need you! We will never need you!”
Lunicie laughed, the chirpy sound making her name ever so fitting. “Then why on earth are you here?”
“Because of you!” I snapped, although I’m sure Jez was about to say so herself. “We have a life you know.”
“That’s funny, miss Alyss.” Lunicie commented, “Because we need you. Besides, if you didn’t need us, we wouldn’t need you and therefore you would not be here.”
“She’s mad again…” Hare said, busy playing a tone deaf tune on a set of cups and saucers with a spoon.
“We can see that.” Jez muttered angrily and glared at the hatteress.
“The trees grow gingerbread and the rivers run with tea, we are in a true wonderland and the jabberwocky is gone. My dears, what on earth is wrong?” Lunicie almost sang.
“Your mind.” Jez shot back. “You’re madder than usual.”
“Your mind.” Echoed the hatteress, and then her face fell. “Oh dear, dear, Miss Jezabelle. How did he die?”
Jez seemed to resist throwing a brick at Lunicie. She honestly would have if she had a brick at hand. “None of your business, I’m fine.” She hissed.
“You’re here.” Lunicie replied calmly. “And dear Alyss, your family…”
“That was a long time ago.” I snapped.
“Ahh, then you should have no troubles whatsoever then.” Lunicie said with a manic grin, “The reign of Hearts will be at an end soon my friends! We shall walk free from the Queen’s asylum so very soon my friends!” At this she flung her arms around Hare next to her, and removed her hat in order to take out another teapot.
“Asylum?” Jez repeated. “She doesn’t get any saner does she?” She sighed and looked at me, although I knew her far too well to mistake the momentary flash of fear in her eyes.
I shrugged, and looked back to the party of fools before us.
Lunicie held out her hat to us, “Take your weapons, my beautiful knights!” She exclaimed, once again only gaining a look of confusion from the both of us.
“Of course.” She shook her head and reached into her hat herself, taking out familiar blades that could not possibly have fitted in there, but it was not like we were somewhere that paid any attention to logic. “Remember my dears, the Vorpal blade is swift and keen, it goes snicker snack and leaves them dead!” Lunicie giggled.
“So we’re pissed at her, and she gives us swords.” Jez muttered, shaking her head.
“Look around, ladies!” Dormouse said sleepily, “Do you not notice anything different?”
There was a pause. Jez and I looked at each other, glanced around half-heartedly and turned back to Dormouse with a shrug.
I lost it this time when Hare began his teacup tune once more, “NOTHING has changed since we left! It’s all the same!”
“Look closer.” Lunicie said calmly.
“At WHAT?” I shouted back, apparently impressing Jez, “What are we supposed to be looking for? One of your bloody hat pins in a god damn haystack?”
I turned back to Jez, expecting her to back me up again, even though the arguing was getting us nowhere, but she hadn’t noticed… she was looking up at the sky, and as I followed her gaze, I suddenly understood why we had been dragged back to our own personal hell.
We had completely disregarded the fact that the sky wasn’t blue. It was white actually, and as far as the eye could see, a great series of interlocking bars and chains littered the sky. Some resembled a familiar symbol that nobody really wanted to acknowledge. I contemplated for a moment how on earth Lunicie’s party had taken our attention away from that.
“Oh I see.” Jez muttered bitterly, “Is this meant to be us fighting our way out of the obstacles of life or some crap like that?”
I wished we could just put it all down to something so simple. “I’m sure if it was, we wouldn’t have eaten the grass.” I replied in a murmur. She chose to ignore.
Lunicie seemed amused at this idea, picked up a clump of green blades and nibbled experimentally. Apparently, she liked it no more than we did.
At about the moment I considered looking for a cliff, or somewhere to prop up my blade so that I could fall on it, a voice belonging to someone who (if he had a neck) we would both have happily strangled, giggled and uttered it’s opinion. “Well, my dears, I can’t say it’s particularly bad, but I’ve been trying to have turtle fix the glitch in the portal for days, I assure you!”
Jez and I glared at the floating smile in the sky. It laughed lowly and slowly the rest of Messenger the Cheshire cat materialized on top of Lunicie’s tall hat, where he thought we wouldn’t be able to reach him.
“I’m going to kill you.” Jez growled.
“Really. I was rather hoping I could advise you otherwise my dear.” The cat said dismissively. I got the feeling that his disbelief got on Jez’s nerves.
“I’ll do it.” I added.
“Precious. Now if you can hold back on the violence for five minutes, I have some important information for you.” Cheshire continued, settling down on top of Lunicie’s hat and resting his head upon his paws.
“This had better be good.” I folded my arms and sat down on the grass. “How about you start with explaining this?” I suggested, gesturing wildly at the sky.
“It’s quite simple really, my dears.” Messenger explained with a sigh, “You play chess, do you not?”
“Well never.” Jez replied with a roll of her eyes.
“Oh, well then. All you dears have to do is kill the Queen.”
“What?” We said in unison.
“Indeed. Kill the Queen. Come and find me when you’re done!” And with this Messenger disappeared again, but a floating giggle on the wind.
I stared down at my reflection in my sword. “Quite simple indeed.”