Jabberwocky’s Book

Looking Glass Saga - Book 2

The fridge trees weren’t going to save her.

Overview

Wonderland was behind her for good now. The Cheshire Cat was back in Wonderland and that terrible book was not hidden away where no prying eyes would find it. There was nothing stopping Alice from having a perfectly normal life at Lucena Academy now.

Those hopes are quickly shattered when the creature from the book begin to attack the student body. Tracking it by the shrill screams of its victims which terrify her to the core, she must find a way to press on. After all, it’s her fault this creature is terrorizing the campus in the first place.

Details

Ebook


Format: Kindle Edition
File Size: 789 KB
ASIN: B00WP45VM6

Excerpt

Chapter 1


Haunted Dreams


The fridge trees weren’t going to save her. She thought about hiding inside one of them, hoping that they would bypass her entirely, but they would follow her everywhere. Those white eyes, all four of them, always figured out where she was and where she was going to be, no matter where she turned. With every attempt, they continued to hunt her down.

There was someone in the distance who was running as well. In the midst of all the trees there was a path. At the end of it, she could see a girl with brown hair and a lithe figure running with all her might to escape. No, not to escape. She was barely running at all. Instead, she seemed to dance through the trees, just out of reach as Alice continued to run.

The creature was after Alice and Alice wasn’t sure which she was trying to do anymore. Was she running from the beast or trying to catch this other girl? She turned hard into the trees, hoping to lose the creature long enough to figure it out, but still it followed.

Its long, ceramic white claws took a swipe at her, knocking several trees out of the way. No, escaping the creature came first.

She dropped down a hole that opened up out of nowhere. She knew this hole well. She still remembered the rabbit hole from the last time she’d fallen down it, as well as the strangeness that was inside. Down at the bottom, that brunette was looking up at her. She wore a uniform from Lucena Academy and a smile that Alice knew well.

Lori. Back and ready to see her again.

Before Alice’s eyes, Lori turned into that creature, her eyes turning white and a second pair of them opening on her forehead. Her skin melted into that blackness and her fingers extended into those claws. And Alice fell into them.

Alice woke with a start, feeling like she’d just dropped down onto her bed from a very high place. That was happening a lot lately.

It took her a moment to realize that the darkness of her room wasn’t, in fact, the creature come to swallow her whole again. Instead, it was just the regular old darkness that came from it being the middle of the night. There were no creatures in here to get her. Nothing of Wonderland or anything was coming for her.

Nothing except those purple eyes in the mirror, staring at her from a different world.

“Good morning, Alice,” Cat said, almost purring through the mirror. “Sleep well?”

Alice glowered at the cat, his purple fur almost pressing against the mirror as he watched her from the other side of the room. He paced back and forth from the other side of the mirror, watching her and waiting for some response.

Instead, Alice went back to sleep. Or she pretended to, anyway. She pulled her covers over her and laid there, eyes hidden but still open and still reluctantly listening as Cat continued to speak. This trick never worked, but she didn’t know what else to do.

“You should talk about your fears, dear girl. It isn’t good to keep them trapped inside your mind like that. They will come for you more often if you do. If you would just let me out, I could provide you with some assistance.”

She resisted the urge to yell at him. She knew better. She wouldn’t be baited. She knew what he was trying to do.

“You have done a very bad thing, Alice,” he continued. “There’s something that you’ve released. The Queen was good enough to keep it hidden away, but you’ve set it free. And you know how dangerous it is. Perhaps if you hadn’t been so rash and quick to throw me away, I might have been able to help you contain it. Perhaps you wouldn’t have to recapture it now.”

Alice knew he was just trying to bait her. As he did every night. She wouldn’t fall for it.

“You could let me out. Let me assist you. Or perhaps I won’t. You benefit greatly if you request my assistance. You know that I know far more than you do on these matters.”

She wanted to yell at him that he had never read the book. That he made her read it in exchange for peace. That he had been following her and wouldn’t leave her alone because of something that he’d made her do. That releasing the creature wasn’t her fault and that he didn’t know any more about it than she did.

“Perhaps you could read it to me,” he suggested. “That book does look so very lonely. You shouldn’t leave them like that, all alone and unread. Especially one like that. It doesn’t strike me as one that much likes being left all alone and ignored. It may have more tricks for you, Alice, and it will want you to pay attention to it sooner or later. Though I suppose you are getting quite good at ignoring your problems. Why, look at me. Me and whatever it was you let out. It will come for you, Alice.”

Alice stayed still under the covers. She would stay still. She would be quiet.

“It might even come for that sister of yours. Ah, but you haven’t even seen her, have you? She may have already been taken by the creature. That’s what keeps you up so late, isn’t it?” She could almost hear the curve of his lips into a wide, cruel grin as he spoke. “You don’t know that it hasn’t already found her. Perhaps that’s why no one will tell you what happened to her and why she isn’t here. Or perhaps they still worry for you. That you have gone mad again.”

His laugh was as cruel as his grin, echoing off the walls of the room and threatening to wake the rest of the house. She pulled the covers tighter around her and prayed that no one else could hear him. He was an evil creature, that Cat, and she didn’t want anything else to do with him. No matter how much he knew.

“You were always mad, Alice. Always.”

Alice would have covered the mirrors if she thought her parents wouldn’t consider it strange behaviour for her, and a sign that she might be slipping. She resisted the urge to throw a pillow at the mirror and make him go away. She wouldn’t fall for his tricks. She was stronger than that and she would resist the urge to respond.

“You’re not terribly fun,” he said. “Perhaps I should see about that sister of yours. She left to escape the madness of this house, you know. Or maybe you do not. You do not know much, dear Alice. It is a shame. You would be more interesting if you did. But don’t you worry. I shall return. Perhaps even with news of her. But you will only gain that if you let me through. Remember, now you will have to pay a cost to learn anything. As it always should be. We may be mad, but there are rules to our madness, Alice. Remember that.”

Everything went very quiet after that. She didn’t want to say anything in case he was still there waiting. She didn’t even sit up to check. The silence stretched on until all she could hear was the beating of her heart in her chest and she remained very still. Waiting. Hoping that he really was gone.

She drifted off again, her sleep restless and full of creatures with four eyes following her.

***


Alice woke up late that January morning, the Cat’s words still floating through her mind as they usually did. He’d been following her since she’d returned home. He couldn’t get through the mirror, he said. He was trapped there, though she had no idea why. He said she would have to let him back through.

She wasn’t going to do that.

Now he appeared everywhere, following her wherever she went and badgering her. She did her best to not respond at all, but sometimes he surprised her. Still, she was glad her parents had yet to notice her strange behaviour. They were too distracted, though she didn’t know why.

Everything had a layer of tension around it since she got back. Something had changed. They didn’t tell her what, but it was something. Of course it was something.

Neither spoke much and, most notably, they did not speak of Lori. She had a feeling this all had to do with her sister. Lori did not come home from England for Christmas. Her father and her mother never so much as mentioned her name. When she tried to ask, she was very quickly and sharply cut off, making it clear that she was absolutely not supposed to mention her.

Alice was very good at taking the hint when she needed to and this was one of those times. What had happened with Lori, she didn’t know. She probably didn’t want to come home, too happy and having too much fun abroad, which upset her father. Her father was never happy when someone didn’t do what he asked them to do. His daughters were no exception.

Still, it was strange that she didn’t even send word home. Alice wanted to hear from her, but she hadn’t heard from her since part way through the summer. She was there when Alice was told she was allowed to go to school, but disappeared so soon after that. Where was she? And why wasn’t she getting in touch?

Lori would have called her. She was so excited for Alice. Her father had let Alice go to Lucena Academy on the basis that she wasn’t going to slip up anymore and it was time for her to learn to be a good, functioning member of this family. She needed to be smart enough to go to a school where she could snag a good husband who could take over the family business, or so her father told her, and Alice wasn’t about to disappoint her father any further.

Lori would have gotten in touch with her somehow. She was the whole reason that Alice was allowed to go in the first place. She’d taught Alice the fine art of lying to get her father to let her stop taking the pills and lied to make her psychiatrists believe that she’d given up the delusion of Wonderland. It was all thanks to her.

She especially missed Lori at Mass on Christmas. Without her, it was dull. Her parents brought her every Sunday now and Alice didn’t know when to sit or stand or when she was supposed to say what. Lori had been at her side to lighten the mood before as the priest went on about something she couldn’t make out through the static filled speakers and actually made it fun.

She wouldn’t have just left without leaving her a note.

Alice didn’t trust it, but she knew better than to ask.

She got out of bed and went to her bathroom to splash a bit of water on her face to help her wake up. She didn’t want to sleep any longer, those four white eyes still following her even as the sun leaked through her curtains into her room. She could hear Dinah scratching at her door and she’d let her in soon, but first things first.

Alice even looked tired. She hadn’t slept that well during this entire break. For a break, she’d been stressed like crazy. The end of the last semester with Cat and the book left her thinking, worried about whatever she’d let out and what happened. She worried she wouldn’t be let back to school. She worried about where her sister had gone.

Sleep was not something that came easy to her anymore. But that was okay. It was nothing compared to her waking hours.

Water still streaming down her face, Alice checked the cupboard under the sink. It was a sacred place for her - a place to throw all the things she never wanted to see again.

There were bottles and bottles of little pills in all sorts of colours, every one Alice could name off the top of her head. Clozaril, Risperdal, Abify, Zyprexa, Seroquel, Geodon and several others, all still at least half full with their menacing little pills. Since three months after she returned from Wonderland the first time, she’d been put on all of them at least once. She suffered through their side effects and was told all of them would make her realize none of it was real.

They were all wrong.

There were other things in here too. Little instruments that she was supposed to use to help her. The first book she’d written in about her time in Wonderland that was used to almost throw her into a hospital wing for the rest of her life. Lori managed to get it before her parents did and hid it away. As a present for getting a clean bill of mental health, she gave Alice the book and told her how close she came to being committed.

And sitting there, guarded by all of this was the brown leather book. She got it back at the end of the semester, not sure whether she really wanted to keep it. On the one hand, it had caused so much trouble. It terrified her and she could still see that long claw coming out of the cover in the back of her mind, spearing a heart on the sharpened tip. On the other hand, she’d let something of it out and she would probably be the only one who could put it back. If she was even allowed to go back to school.

So far, her father said that he would let her return. They hadn’t even heard about the time she spent in the doctor’s after she fell in the lake. She wasn’t about to let any of that go to waste.

“A shame, really. I know where it is and cannot retrieve it. You craft irony so elegantly.”

Not that it was going to be easy to continue the charade for her parents.

She stood up and saw Wonderland in the mirror, as she often did when her mind wandered to it. She started to figure out that if she just didn’t think about it, it wouldn’t come for her. It was never quite the same place twice, and she wasn’t sure that anyone on the other side really knew she was there.

But whenever Wonderland showed up, Cat was there as well, clawing at the mirror as Dinah did to her door, asking to be let in.

“Perhaps you could read me a page of it. It was so interesting the last time we read it. I would enjoy hearing more.”

Alice found a towel and wiped her face. No matter where the mirror showed in Wonderland, he would always be there on the other side. And he would always want to talk.

“The worst of it is likely over, dear Alice. There can’t be more left to release from the book. You have already released them all.”

Alice left the washroom and back into her bedroom, closing the door and staying away from her dresser mirror. He was following her and she knew how to avoid him. If she wanted to go back to school, she knew she would have to continue to not acknowledge Wonderland and talking to a cat in the mirror would surely put her back on one of those pills again.

Instead, she went to sit at her desk and opened up her homework. She’d made a habit of doing a little every time Cat showed up as a way to get rid of him. When she drowned herself in the texts, her mind went back to the school and how much she wanted to make sure she was able to go back. She made herself remember the dorms and the classrooms, the classes and everything that was in the books.

Among those books was the novel assigned to read over the break: The Hobbit. It was about a small hobbit that was thrown into a surreal situation that he couldn’t possibly deal with but, with help in the form of a ring he tricked out of a creature stupider than he was, he was getting his footing on the adventure. Alice didn’t think it was quite fair the way he stole it. He may be a thief, but he didn’t play fair by the rules of the game.

Bilbo was dear to her despite that. You couldn’t always tell the truth to win. She knew that and, though it seemed irresponsible to put in a book, she found the story to be a lot truer in that area than anything else.

She had notes next to her, ready to write her report on the book when she was finished with it. It was going to be a bit of a long one and she was not looking forward to writing it all out by hand. She heard that they would be allowed computers next year and she was anxiously awaiting that. They taught her how to use computers at school and they were a lot easier on her wrists.

Gradually, she could feel Wonderland fade away. She kept reading until it was completely gone and she’d finished the book, the page next to her covered in notes. She glanced at the mirror, finding it only reflecting her room now, and got ready for the day.

It was noon when she finally left her room to venture out into the house. She always thought it was larger than it needed to be for four people. At least it meant a lot of days exploring with Lori when she was around. She missed her now that she was alone in the house again. Her parents were out, but Alice knew she was not alone. Not really.

She found herself at the door to Lori’s room. It had been locked and abandoned since she left for England and Alice was curious about what was hidden behind those doors. She kept an ear out in the rest of the house, her eyes darting around to make sure she was alone. She looked up, checking the hallway cameras that her father had installed for security. The telltale red light was off, meaning he wasn’t watching them. With one last look around, she took a step into the door and appeared on the other side.

Lori’s room was much different from Alice’s. Where Alice’s room was sparse, filled with things appropriate for a little girl where necessary and lots of empty space for her to not hurt herself or distract herself with too much imagination, Lori’s was filled with all sorts of things that lent themselves to all kinds of imaginings.

There were posters up on the walls of girl groups that Alice struggled to remember the names of. Littered on her bedside table were bits of scrap metal and gemstones next to pairs of pliers and other small tools. Lori made all of her own jewelry, though Alice was never allowed to wear much. Her items were so intricate and had a flair of fantasy about them that made her parents anxious that Alice could slip back into thoughts of Wonderland if she were exposed to them. Even at home, Lori was not allowed to wear them, though they were alone often enough that Alice saw most of them anyway. She always wanted one and Lori said she was working on something for her before she ran off to another country without so much as a good bye.

She also had the distinction of a television and a computer in her room - things Alice was forbidden from accessing most of the time. Talk of how they would rot her brain were the usual reasons, but Alice knew that they wanted to keep her from sinking into the worlds the screens opened up for her. Even if they weren’t real.

Stranger, Alice found as she wandered through the old room, was the laptop on her desk. Whenever she left, Lori would bring up the password screen and close the lid, just in case someone came in. Now, it was open and off.

Beside it was her phone. Lori never went anywhere without her phone. She would carry it with her even around the house, texting with her friends from school over the break and sending them photos of the things she was working on. But here it was.

Lori would have called. Alice knew something funny was going on with her sister’s disappearance and how her parents were acting about it, but she didn’t know what to do about it.

Not yet.