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Down the Rabbit Hole

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Forest1-1

Most of you know the story of Alice in Wonderland, whether you've read the book, or seen one of the movies. Well, at least you think you know the story.

Lewis Carroll knew very well what really happened to Alice, and he tried to mask all of her suffering and terrifying experiences with a children's book.

But I have unfortunately witnessed the horror myself, and the truth must be spoken...

I was eight years old and lived with my parents. I was an only child, and was rather happy with it. I loved reading - it was my favorite pastime. Still is, really.

My best friend was Haylie Green. She lived right next door to me in apartment 208. Our neighborhood was calm, quiet, and we were the only children our age that lived there. There were pools, gaming and computer rooms, gyms - but Haylie and I always spent our time at the old playground behind the older apartments that no one really lived in.

They were towards the north. Vines grew on the walls and grass was well overgrown. We never really thought of why there would be no one who lived there anymore.

The playground was old and small. Come to think of it, I wonder how it didn't break just beneath our feet, since we were always running and jumping on it.

The playground, or as we called it, the Castle, was where we'd run away from the giant mutant sea monsters that would grow legs and come out from the lake, or where we'd find cover so we wouldn't be hit with a massive ball of fire from the deadly sky dragons that flew above us trying to destroy the Castle. Our imaginations were creative and the ideas were endless. Our childhoods were magnificent - up to a certain point.

There was a forest just a few yards away from the Castle. We never went in there, since our parents warned us multiple times not to.

They'd tell us stories of kidnappers living in there, or of massive venomous snakes. Haylie and I wouldn't go in, saying that it's off-limit grounds, where the 'horned three-headed werewolves' lived. Entering never seemed tempting to us, really - it was just something that even to us, seemed obscure to do.

One day, however, that changed.

I went out to the playground, as usual, to find Haylie sitting there on a swing. She was facing the dense forest, her gaze stuck on the trees. I approached her, not thinking much of it. After all, you wouldn't either.

"Did you see that?" she suddenly said before I could even open my mouth. She didn't look away.

"See what?" I asked, puzzled, squinting into the forest.

"That rabbit. It was white, its eyes were reddish pink, and it seemed to be wearing something -"

"Did it have a watch?" I was reminded of the one from Alice and Wonderland, one of my favorite stories at the time, and I instantly began playing along with Haylie, like this was another imaginative adventure. But she didn't reply, just stared into the forest.

Suddenly she stood, and inched towards the trees.

"Haylie? What are you doing?"

"We have to find him," she said. Her voice wasn't the normal, high pitched tone she always used.. It sounded off-beat, almost robotic. I followed her anyway, confused and curious.

She was soon at the forest's edge when she paused. Her long, dirty blonde curls bounced on her back from the oncoming breeze.

Something was wrong here. I didn't know what it was, but something was very wrong. Haylie wasn't being herself. It felt as if I were standing behind a stranger.

Just the energy she gave off was dark and unpleasant. But Haylie was my best friend. I wasn't just going to abandon her. I reached out to place my hand on her shoulder.

"Let's go back, Haylie, we shouldn't be so close to -"

Before my hand touched her, she sharply turned her head back toward me, startling me. Her face was paler than usual, but that was all I could really physically point out. She still looked a bit.. Off.

"We have to find him," she repeated, sounding even stranger. Goosebumps crawled up my arms, but I reminded myself that this was all just another game. Another innocent, make-believe game. That felt incredibly eerie.

Out of the blue, she darted into the woods. Shocked, I stood there for a second, watching her as she ran off into the forest, lost in the dense vines. When reality slapped me across the face, I darted in after her, hoping I was even wandering in the right direction.

The trees around me did have leaves, but they looked dead. Well, not exactly looked, but felt dead, like the leaves were just an illusion. The bark was faded brownish-white. The grass below my feet was dried and mixed in with the dried dirt. It was awfully silent - no birds chirping, no squirrels rustling. Just the sound of the breeze flowing through the sickly green leaves.

"Haylie!" I called. "Stop! I quit! Let's go home!"

No answer.

I continued running for what felt like an eternity. I stopped for a moment when my legs refused to move much more, and my breath was gone. I doubled over, panting, when I heard a rustling just before me. Looking up, I gasped, taken aback.

There was a rabbit. A white one, with pink eyes, standing by a tall, pale oak. He was wearing a coat, and in his hand was a watch. It ticked, and ticked, and ticked. I couldn't take my eyes off of it. That was, however, until the rabbit circled around the tree, becoming unseen for a moment. Instinctively, I followed it, only to see a large hole beside the oak. I had a feeling - just a feeling - that Haylie was down there.

I kneeled down at its edge, when suddenly, I was pushed, and I fell in before I was ready. In the air, I turned my head, to see for a split second the last of the entrance, where the rabbit's white face was. He had pushed me.

I fell. And fell. And fell. Deep into the depths of the Earth. I was terrified, but I had no more power in my lungs to scream anymore, only breathe. Something at the bottom of the hole was waiting for me, something evil and dark. But so was Haylie. I knew she was down there. I just knew it.

It must've been hours and hours before I finally landed on a soft surface. It still hurt. I yelped once but instantly got up. I was in a dimly lit hallway. The wallpaper was a dull grey. It felt as if no one had walked through here in ages - it felt as if I was stuck in the past. I hesitantly made my way through the hall, with its twists and turns.

The farther I walked the darker it got, and even though I was alone, I felt like I was being carefully watched. Soon it became so dark, I couldn't see a thing - my own breathing was the only sound, heavy with the dust entering my lungs - I had to keep a hand on a wall to guide me through.

I could swear I was being watched, followed... I was getting scared. Really scared. My heart started thudding, and I picked up my pace. But it felt as if whatever was following me was getting closer, despite my attempt to move faster. So I began to run. Fast.

My hair flowed behind me as I began to hear heavy breathing other than my own. My heart pounded against my chest now, with such force I thought it might burst. I felt like I was being suffocated with the dust in here, pouring into my lungs. Sweat trickled down my face - I could feel my pulse at my fingertips - the sound of the breathing turned into eerie laughter, and growls -

BANG.

I hit a dead end. Whatever was pursuing me was getting terribly close. I pounded against the wall blocking me in the darkness, my fists hurting, arms flailing. I could hear it, only a few feet away from me. It was menacing, horrifying - I could soon smell its horrid breath, which smelled like week-old roadkill. The scent overwhelmed me as it inched closer, my fists still slamming against the door. I was coughing, my eyes were burning - then out of what seemed like sheer luck -

The wall, or door, swung open. I sprinted out of the hallway and closed the door shut behind me, not looking back. Whatever was chasing me was trapped now, away from me.

Looking around, I soon realized I was in a room, colored beige and black. This room was inexplicably light, since there were no lightbulbs or windows. But it as clear as day, and it wasn't as eerie. In the center of the room was a table. On the table was a little glass bottle with a purple substance, and a small piece of red velvet cake with white icing. It looked tempting, but my mind was too clouded with fear to eat or drink. I backed up into a corner and sat there, crying, for the longest time.

"Aren't you going to take a sip from the glass? You must know much time has passed. The pastry is fresh, don't let it go bad - it'll be the best pastry you've ever had," said an unseen, sickly voice. It creaked at the beginning of each word, and something told me that whoever - or whatever - just spoke to me was being forced to speak in rhyme.

"Who's there?" I shouted, wiping away my tears, and standing up on my two feet. "Show yourself!" I called out.

It laughed, its voice creaking and cracking, and this did send chills up my spine. "If this is what I must do for you to eat your dish, I will do exactly as you wish," it said.

Suddenly the walls were covered in what I would describe as a black shadow. The shadow grew up on the walls, ceiling and floor, leaving a space around me and the table. Then it all gathered together on one spot above me - then it dropped, down onto the floor, in the silhouette of a person. But this wasn't human. No, it wasn't - this was too disgustingly ghastly to be human. It turned around, and I could see a mask it wore. It was white, the face of a barn owl. Its beak opened, and it spoke once more.

"All you need to find your friend is a golden key, but you must comply to my rules and you must not flee."

I nodded hesitantly. "What... what do I have to do...?"

"You'll grab my hands and music will play and together we will dance. You stay here with me forever, and away your friend will prance."

My heart skipped a beat. "Wha - why can't we both go? What are you talking about? Where is she?"

"Eat the food that was given to you, and place your palms in mine. You'll stay here and she will go, don't worry, you'll both be fine!" it said, nodding toward the table. I put my hands over my ears and shook my head.

"No! NO! Get me out of here! Let Haylie and I go!"

"No little Olive, one must stay. You give us your life and your friend goes away. For a reward, one must pay a price. One very dear, one very nice."

"How do you know my name? Get me away from here!" I'm even more terrified than I was in the hall. But I felt paralyzed... I couldn't move. I was frozen to the spot. The thing's face, or mask, was emotionless, but all at once so scary. It soon began inching toward me.

"Aren't you going to eat your meal? How wonderfully amazing you will then feel. Eat it and you can free your friend, with this key you can unlock all the land," it said, coming even closer, now waving an old golden key. I still couldn't move anything but my face, and that wasn't much help. Tears of pure fear trickled down my face as it came only inches away from me. It put the key away and held the glass with the purple fluid in one hand, and the piece of cake in the other. It shoved them closer to my face. I closed my mouth.

"Eat it darling, doesn't it look appetizing? You'll find its effect is rather tranquilizing." I kept my mouth tight shut, refusing to eat. God knows if that's poison or something.

"Last chance, little Olive, you best take it now, so you can have the key and leave your friend safe and sound. She's in danger little Olive, and so are you - I'll not give you three seconds, maybe just two."

One... Two. The seconds passed, and suddenly, the figure began to tower over me. More arms protruded from its sides, two holding the back of my head, two digging into my mouth, forcing it open. Two more hands poured in the disgusting, burning purple substance onto my tongue, making me want to gag.

I couldn't even taste the cake - it was shoved all the way down my throat into my stomach. The hands in my mouth retracted and grabbed hold of my legs, two more grabbing hold of my waist. I wondered why it would want to hold me so tightly for a second, but then the answer became evident.

My body began shaking painfully and violently. I began screaming so loudly, so painfully that it sounded alien. My heart wasn't just pounding against my chest, it was trying to come out. I could feel it trying to break through my sternum, hurting so much I was sure this was death.

I felt my eyes roll back and my body began to shake even more, my heart's thudding cracking my bones on the inside. I had multiple seizures, and this seemed to last a good ten minutes, before my heart finally fell out from my chest. Blood poured profusely from the gaping hole in my body, but I was shocked at the fact that I was still alive.

My heart continued beating as it rested on the floor, flopping like a fish out of water. I screamed and cried louder. Looking down at my blood-drenched body, I realized the hole in my chest was.. closing up, regenerating, on its own. The thing lost its grip on me, its arms all retracting back to its body. It stood in front of me in silence as I caught my breath, doubling over. I could move again, as in I wasn't paralyzed, but I was so weak I fell to my knees, coughing the last of my internal blood. Looking back up, I saw the thing was gone. Disappeared. With my heart.

The key was on the table. Absolutely terrified, I snatched it, and looked around the room to find another door, or window, something where I could escape from, but I saw nothing. Nothing at all. I felt hopeless. Scared. So many emotions in just one little girl, could it be contained for long? I sat in the same corner in which I did before, crying again. Tears flowed and flowed, down my face and onto the floor, until I had cried so much I realized that the floor around me was... flooding.. How odd.. But at this point, nothing could've really shocked me..

I couldn't stop crying. The room flooded up to my waist, and even though I wanted to stop crying, I just couldn't. Tears continuously poured out from my eyes uncontrollably, making a pool of salty tears. When I stood, it was well above my knees, soon up to my waist.

Then.. the tears.. turned red. A dark, thick red.

Was I crying... blood?

I kept a tight grip on the key. The fear wouldn't leave - I was so scared, my arms trembled. Was I just going to have to wait here, to drown in this blood, or whatever it is?

Then, I looked up at the ceiling. I don't know why I did, I just did. And luckily, despite the fact that the blood was reaching my shoulders now, I was able to see a door, barely visible since it was covered with the wallpaper. I felt around underneath the thick red liquid until I would feel the table. I dragged it under the door on the ceiling, and stood on it. I could make out the door, and a keyhole. I poked it through with the dripping-red key, and it fit.

But when I tried to turn it, it barely moved. I tried with all my strength as the blood flooded higher and higher, but it was stuck. The blood was once again at my waist, crawling up my chest, up to my shoulders. I screamed, pounded on the door, tried to turn the key, but nothing worked - the blood reached my neck, putting heavy pressure on my throat - I kept on trying to turn the key, but it wouldn't move - I screamed more - the blood reached my mouth - my nose - my eyes. I was completely engulfed in the blood, left to drown. One last time, I tried to turn the key -

Nothing.

I began to feel lightheaded. I was left here to die, and for all I know, so was Haylie -

POW.

The single sound of an explosion popped my eardrums. I could breathe again - feeling around me, I was on grass. I opened my eyes but squinted, letting them adjust to a bright light outdoors. Looking around me, I was no longer covered in blood. My clothes weren't even stained red. I was just there, in an open meadow, lying with my hair in my face. I brushed it back and stood.

Something was wrong with my vision; everything would shrink, then grow bigger, go in focus and out of focus. I noticed a small cabin not too far from me, and I was drawn to it, but I stumbled a few times on the way. Every now and then I was sure I caught a glimpse of the white rabbit, but I was too dizzy and everything was just so fuzzy and I was so confused I let it go.

Soon I could feel the door, and I knew I had made it to the cabin. I grabbed hold of the doorknob and turned it, pushing the door inward. I could see stairs. Stupidly, I took a single step, missed, and stumbled all the way down the stairs.

When I landed on a flat surface, I saw something really, really out of the ordinary. In my dreamy, confused state, I walked toward it, and I was positive I was going insane when staring back at me was a giant centipede with two large, black eyes. I fell backwards, unable to get up again. My vision was getting even worse.

"Eat this," it said. Its voice was haunting, like an echo, or vibrations. Out from under it, it rolled something toward me. Unthinkingly, I grabbed it, and instantly dropped it. "Ow!" I yelled. Whatever it was, it was covered in what felt like needles.

"Eat it," the centipede repeated. "It'll let you see better again."

Now, I don't know if it was me and my insanity again, but something told me I could trust this thing. Anyway, I didn't want to go through the same terror I did earlier. I grabbed it again cautiously. I tried to look at it, but my vision kept on going out of focus. So I shoved it in my mouth.

I wanted to scream as the needles pierced into my tongue, and the roof of my mouth. But I couldn't - it quickly dissolved in my mouth. My vision went black for a second, then -

I could see better again.

The centipede was indeed huge. It gave me one last look before crawling up the wall behind it, across the ceiling and up the stairs eerily. There were no other doors or windows in here, so without another option I climbed back up the stairs. The door was left ajar, and I sprinted through it.

I no longer saw a vast meadow before me. Instead, I was in another forest. Turning around, I noticed the house disappeared. Chills went up my spine as I heard voices whispering... was this all in my head..?

No. In the distance I saw movement. Desperate to find my friend and to get the hell out of this place, I crept toward it. Through the bushes and trees I saw something that I thought would only exist in nightmares. Horrible, horrible, nightmares.

A table was set, and at it were three beings. A humanoid-looking being, covered in pitch-black fur with bug eyes, and two shiny black horns protruding from its head; two nasty-looking over-sized grey rats, one with a black spot on its right eye and the other with the spot on its left eye. To fill in the other seats were disturbing, pale while porcelain dolls, with their eyes poked out and their bodies cracked and clothes worn. The three beings were talking loudly, spitting in every direction. On the dark purple tablecloth was a tea set, with little dirty cups and plates at each chair. It was all so unwelcoming.

I was just about to turn back around when something called out to me.

" 'Ey yuh, leetle gurl ova' dere, get ova' heere!"

Turning back around, the right-spotted rat was waving its paw for me to come closer. I hesitantly did, and felt three pairs of eyes staring at me as I looked down on my feet, beside a chair with a doll in it. This doll's hair looked pulled out, its dress green with different colored stains. Left-spotted rat came around and shoved the doll to the ground, and I saw its head crack. I flinched, and sat down in its place. I glanced at it once more, as if to say sorry, but I realized it was only a doll, and looked back at the three beings at the table.

"What's yer name?" Left-spotted rat said carelessly.

"...Olive," I replied quietly. The humanoid-looking thing burst with laughter, spitting whatever was in its mouth all over the place. The two rats then began laughing as well. I flashed a fake smile, and they went silent again.

"What kinda' animal 'r yuh?" Right-spotted rat said disgustedly.

"I'm a human," I said. "A human girl."

They laughed again, spitting even more of their chewed-up contents all over the table.

Humanoid thing was the first to shut up this time. "Damn, how ugly can 'dese creatures get? First 'dere's de fish, den de rats-" the two rats eyed him "-de monkees, now dah human girs?" He erupted once more into laughter, then Left-spotted rat smacked him with a stale piece of bread, making him shut up.

"What'r ya here fer?" asked Right-spotted.

I gulped, then replied, "I'm looking for my friend Haylie."

"Hmmm..." said the rat, "Yer friend is lost sumwheres heere?" it questioned. Left-spotted was whispering into the humanoid's ear. I nodded.

"I know where yer friend is. But if yuh want me ta tell yah, yuh have ta prove yerself ta me."

Left-spotted stopped whispering and Humanoid stopped listening to him. They just both turned to Right-spotted.

"Mah buds an' I will go stand by dat tree ova' dere," he said, nodding toward a lone tree in the distance. "Yuh stay heere, an' take on whateva comes yer way. Got it?"

Without giving me a chance to reply, they all stood from the chairs, Humanoid chuckling. They all walked over to the tree, and stood there. Looking around nervously, I wondered what was going to happen now. Then to my left, I heard a glass break. Turning, I saw something that scared me out of my mind.

The dolls were standing up on the table, staring into my soul with their absent eyes. They all had shards of glass in their hands, walking toward me. I stood from the chair and was about to run away when I remembered Haylie. Anyway, where would I go if I did run off? I stood on the other end of the table and as the dolls charged toward me, I kicked them. Two of the six fell off the table and shattered. Four left to go.

I went to kick another one, but it stabbed my leg with the shard of glass. I let out a deafening scream. Before the doll could puncture me again, I raised my other leg and smashed the doll with my foot. It was all going good - until I looked at the woods around me.

More and more dolls were emerging from the woods. I kept on kicking, smashing, throwing - but they kept on coming and kept on stabbing my flesh. Soon I was in too much pain to continue. I collapsed and tried to fend off the dolls coming towards me, but this was no use. Their empty eye sockets seemed to contain happiness with every stab, every scream I let out. Looking down, I could see I was bleeding profusely from the deep wounds. I began to feel dizzy again... I couldn't see right -

Blackout.

When I opened my eyes, I was in total darkness. I felt like I was walking on air. Looking down, my wounds were still bleeding, but I didn't feel pain.

I fell to my knees when the terrible sound of nails on a chalkboard screeched into my ears. When the sound went away, I looked up and saw the face of some animal. Somewhat like a cat, but not exactly. It was a bluish color, and a peculiar smile showed a long array of razor sharp, blood stained teeth. Its eyes were white, and looked rolled back.

"Hello, hello, hello there, child," it said, its voice soft but still eerie. The face turned to the side and disappeared, giving me a glimpse of its body - which was a skeleton. I jumped slightly, but continued staring straight ahead, waiting for it to come out once more. But after a good bit of silent, even disturbing waiting, I decided to speak.

"Hello," I called. My voice echoed. Suddenly above me, its face appeared again. I jumped, a little more than before.

"Name? Name? Name? What's your name, child?" It disappeared again into the darkness. I could feel it circling me, but I couldn't see it. I wasn't sure if this thing was a threat or not.

"Olive," I said, seeing movement from the corners of my eyes in this darkness.

"Olive like olives, the olives in Greece. Delicious olives, nasty olives, Olive, Olive."

Soon it became visible, circling me. Its face was the only thing with flesh; everything else was bone. This was weird, yes, but wasn't everything else I saw here weird?

"Who are you?" I asked, not knowing what else to say. It stopped in front of me, sitting down before me.

"I'm just a cat, a cat, a cat," it said. Looking at it more carefully, I couldn't tell if it was getting bigger, or if it was my imagination. Maybe I was getting smaller?

"You're an odd looking cat," I couldn't help but say. "Very repetitive too." It laughed and nodded.

Cheshirecat

"How did I get here?" I asked. The cat seemed nice enough for me to ask these questions to, unlike the masked man, the centipede, the humanoid, or the rats. But I kept my distance, and set my boundaries.

"Here? Here means now, here means the place you speak in - you got here because there's nowhere else to go."

"What? What are you talking about? I need to find my friend," I said. The cat shrunk back to its original size, and all I could see was its face again. It didn't stop smiling, showing off those carnivorous teeth.

"Your friend? Friends are nice. It's nice to have friends. But I feel you might have to forget about your friend," it said, its face floating up to be level with mine.

"Wha-what? I can't - no - I have to find her!" I said, dumbstruck. The cat shook its head.

"Tsk, tsk, tsk. The Queen has your friend, the Queen keeps all, the Queen finishes all," it said, disappearing once more.

"The Queen? Where is this Queen?"

"This way, this way, this way," it said, its tail appearing and pointing up north. "But it's no use in going. No use, no use."

"Why?" I asked. I noticed that I was much braver then than when I had arrived. Hopefully I'd stay this way. The cat's tail went away with a flick, and I flinched a bit when he popped out in front of me again.

"The Queen dislikes you very, very, very much," he said. At this point I was pretty sure his smile was permanent. His sharp fangs glistened in an unseen light, tainted red. "The Queen dislikes all foreigners, all, all, all."

"How does she know I'm here...?" I asked. He was completely gone now. I heard a rustle to the left, I looked, and nothing was there; I heard something towards the right, and nothing was there either. I was beginning to get a bit creeped out - where did this cat go? What's he doing? I repeated the question, and still no answer. Soon there was a sickening, crush sound, like when you step on a giant roach, magnified. Or better yet, when an oncoming car crushes a raccoon's skull. I shivered.

"The Queen... knows... all..." came a sickly, broken voice behind me. Turning around, I could see the cat, with its white eyes and razor sharp teeth, digging into the flesh of something enormous -

"What is that?" I said, shocked. It looked like an over-sized human, round and now covered in its own blood, as well as the cat's face. Its eyes were mutilated, its bottom jaw torn off. The meat and tendons that once held it hung down, dripping in blood.

"Hush! Hush! Hush!" screeched the cat. "If I speak anymore, she'll find me! She'll find me, find me! Don't don't don't make me speak anymore, please please please!" It let out a horrifying scream and bit down into the meaty flesh of its prey, as if some unseen force was making him do so against his will. Suddenly he grew bigger and bigger, towering over me once more.

He soon made its prey look miniscule. His own jaw swung back at a 200 degree angle and gulped it down. When he bit down, blood splattered everywhere, all over me. The cat looked once more at me, coughed, and began to speak, "Leave, leave, leave! Now! She's listening!" He then screamed again, and disappeared.

I had no idea where the cat had gone, or what was happening to him, but I didn't want to stay to find out. I ran through the darkness, up in the direction in which he had pointed, hoping I'd find the right way. How odd, this was, to run and run but not feel the pulse in your head. Did this make me a zombie?

I could now hear the same, bloodcurdling screams. One after another, and even more crushing sounds - I put my hands over my ears to stop it, but it began getting worse and worse. They got louder, more terrifying. It seemed to get worse with each step I took, every breath, each trickle of sweat that ran down my face. It sounded like a slaughterhouse - animals screeching - horrifying crushing sounds - I couldn't stop running - banging sounds - nails on a chalkboard - even chainsaws!

In the distance, I saw a glint of light. I was a bit relieved but continued running. The sounds got even louder - louder - I felt something cold on my ears. Touching them, I felt a liquid substance. My ears were bleeding. Once I realized this, a sharp pain shot through my head. I collapsed, screaming, crying. The light was so close, but yet so far. The pain was pounding at me like fists. The sounds coming from the darkness were killing me, slowly, painfully. I rolled on my stomach and got on all fours with difficulty. I began pulling myself through the darkness, the pain overwhelming me. I was struggling, shaking -

But soon I made it. I was there, in the light, out of the darkness. The screaming stopped, and so did the bleeding. Silence washed over me.

I fell onto the grass, weak. I closed my eyes, and somehow, despite the fact that I have been living in pure hell, I managed to sleep. And I slept, and slept, a dreamless, calm sleep. It felt like days had passed, but it felt so peaceful, so beautiful -

Until I woke up.

I was standing before a castle. It was checkered red, black and white. It was colossal, the biggest thing I had ever seen. But that didn't capture my attention - something else did. I couldn't move, mouth included. Only my eyes.

My eyes darting around, I realized my legs were chained, my lips stitched together. My arms were spread out wide, making my body look crucified, chained to horizontal poles. Looking at who, or what, was holding the poles up, lifting my feet off the ground, I saw what I'd describe as over-sized playing cards with faces - but they had no eyes or nose, only a mouth, and the mouths seemed... burned shut...

They dragged me into the castle, its giant double doors opening slowly and loudly. Entering, I was greeted by a long, dim hallway, lit only by torches on the walls. Ahead of me was a throne - and in it, sat a woman. She was short, plump, and hideous. Her lips were painted a sick blue, pursed into a thin, cracked line. Her eyelids were sagging, painted red, and the rest of her face was wrinkly and painted white. She wore a red and brown stained once-vanilla colored dress. She smelled of week-old roadkill - just like whatever had been chasing me in the hallway when I arrived. Obviously, I was staring right at the same creature.

The card men paused about three yards away from her. Behind me I heard the doors close, then something rolling my way. I couldn't turn around and see, but by its sound I was pretty sure it was huge, and it had stopped just behind me. One of the card men grabbed the end of a chain behind my back, and as more cardmen lifted me up even higher, I was hooked onto the thing behind me. It was a wall or something to hold me up. The card men then bowed before the ugly woman. Suddenly, it hit me - this was the queen.

"Yes, indeed I am the Queen," she said in a horrifying voice that sounded inhuman, animalistic, as if she could read my mind.

"Yes, I can read your mind."

Oh shit.

"You're really young, child, you shouldn't be using such vulgar language," she said with obviously false sincerity. She stood and seemed to float down the steps. She had a slight hunch on her back. Like I said, hideous.

She gasped. "How dare you?" she said, shocked. "You must never think of your Queen this way, you horrid human girl! Take her to the Dungeons!"

Now, this was clearly very unfair and I often wondered if she wanted to put me in the Dungeons all along, just using that for an excuse. But I was so scared, I remained silent and tried to clear out my mind of all thoughts completely.

In the Dungeons, I heard many voices - mumbling of the insane, weeping of the unstable, snoring of the tired, and laughter of the bad. Where did I belong in here? Was I the only silent one? I was chained to the wall by more card men. The Queen eyed me carefully. When the card men were sure that I was tightly chained up, the Queen approached me. She stared deep into me, her nasty breath making my nose scrunch up. She laughed, and with long bony fingers, she grabbed one end of the thread that bound my lips together. She pulled, and it hurt. A lot.

"Where's Haylie?!" I screamed at her once I could speak. The card men inched toward me, but stopped when she lifted her finger. Then she pointed her finger to my right, and moved out of the way. I let out a scream in despair.

"Haylie!" I cried. She was there, alright. Hanging limply from the chains, her eyes open but glassy. Her face was pale and emotionless.

She was dead.

"There, there child," said the Queen, still speaking in a fake tone. "You see, your friend gave her life for you."

I screamed. And screamed. Louder and louder.

"Fuck you!" I yelled in the Queen's face, making her flinch. "Fuck you! I hope you rot in Hell!"

The Queen laughed sarcastically then instantly made a serious face. Looking me dead in the eye she told her card men, "Kill this one, too."

Without another word, she turned away, and her card men inched closer. Using the edges of their bodies, they sliced into my skin, deep into my flesh, slicing my veins, one by one. I could see my own blood spilling out of me as they painfully cut into me, tearing my tendons and organs.

I got dizzy again. Lightheaded. And then - for another time -

Blackout.

I awoke in a familiar place. I was filled with joy before even knowing why. Then it hit me - I was in my room.

I stood from the bed, running to the living room, where my parents were watching the morning news as usual. They flashed me smiles, as if I never left.

"I'm back, I made it, Mom!" I cheerfully exclaimed, hugging her. When I pulled away, I saw they were both giving me strange looks.

"What are you talking about, Olive?" asked my mother, puzzled. "Back from where?"

"I was gone - for days - how didn't you? - the rabbit - the owl man, the centipede - the rats and the skeleton cat - the Queen-"

"That's enough chocolate before you go to bed, I don't want you eating anything at least two hours before you sleep. Giving you these crazy dreams..." said my father.

"Where's Haylie?" I asked.

"...Who?" asked my mother.

"Haylie, my friend -"

"Go back to bed, it's seven, it's a Saturday."

"But-"

"Go."

So I did. I crawled back into bed. I could hear my parents talking in the kitchen.

"She's always had these crazy, nonsense dreams," said my mother in a frustrated tone.

"Who's this Haylie she was talking about?" asked my father.

"I don't know. If this happens again I'm calling a specialist-"

I zoned them out from my hearing. I took my index and middle fingers from my right hand and placed them on my left wrist.

No pulse.

I sighed. He kept my heart.

Turning over to my side, my eyes already drifting off, I caught a glimpse of a light on my nightstand.

Looking closer, I saw something -

The golden key.



Written by LoVeLy_MoNsTeR
Content is available under CC BY-SA

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