//malice in the palace, or, EVEN MORE wonderland!

I’m not going to bother giving much of an introduction to this post. JuNoWriMo has been a blast, and I’ve been motivated by the fact that I’m not sure I’ll actually have it wrapped up in time to write ‘the end’ at midnight on June 30th. If the end of the month arrives and I’m not finished with the novel, I’ll drown my sorrows in – you guessed it – the coffee I’ll be able to have again! (Not that I’ve missed it.) For those of you doing JuNoWriMo – I hope you’re having as much fun as I am! More power to you!


Yet the truth of the matter remained – the Jabberwock could find anything or anyone, and if knowledge was power, than the Jabberwock was the most powerful figure in Wonderland.//

“You need to stay where I can see you,” he said over his shoulder as she jogged up next to him for the third time. “I don’t have eyes in the back of my head.”

“What,” Alice snorted, “you don’t want to have to chase me for five yards until you catch me?”

“No,” he agreed. “I don’t.”//

“Politics, not politics. It doesn’t matter to me.” The Hatter crouched down and began to lay the cards down in front of him.

Alice recognized the pattern for Solitaire. In her group therapy visits, she’d met people obsessed with all kinds of things – eating paper, sniffing hair elastics, listening to recordings of dogs barking. The Hatter’s interest in cards did not seem to be obsessive in nature; he treated them like things he was used to and familiar with, like friends.//

Alice chewed on her lip in frustration. “Why did the Rabbit call her the Red Queen? And why’s he called a Rabbit, for Pete’s sake? He looks just as human as you do.”

“Calling the Queen that can get your head detached. Best just to call her the Queen of Hearts. And his full name is the White Rabbit, although I suppose that’s more of a title than a name.” The Hatter stretched his long arms over his head. “White because he’s a coward. Rabbit because he runs and hides.”

Alice would have guessed the ‘white’ bit was because of the hair, but what Hatter said dug under her skin like a splinter. “He didn’t act like a coward.” Twitchy, but not cowardly…although he did run away and leave me with the Hatter.

“He’s not,” said Edwin amiably. “Until things get too dangerous – he’s a runner and a hider, like I said. Fighting comes in second.”

“He was laughing when he fought.”

“Just because he’s afraid to do what he does doesn’t mean he doesn’t enjoy doing it,” said the Hatter.//

The treasury was dark, save for the two flickering wall sconces on either side of the Queen. She sat cross-legged on the floor with a box by her left side, the lid flipped open. It was a plain box of tusk wood, carved from the teeth of Toves in the Tulgey Woods. She held the contents in her hands, warm and fragile. She stroked it gently with the tip of her finger as though it was a cat, but it did not purr. It had no mouth. //

Beyond the field was a structure that reminded Alice of an exotic palace – or a tomb, like the Taj Mahal. The center structure rose and swelled and grew to a sharp point. It shone orange and blue in the setting sunlight, casting glimmers across the smaller roofs surrounding the main turret. Behind the palace was scattered a handful of outbuildings. Smoke drifted from each of them, the same shade of blue as the flowers the workers were methodically picking.

“What is this place?” Alice shaded her eyes from the red glow of the sun, staring in apprehension and admiration at what lay before them.

“The Chrysalis.” The Hatter pocketed his cards and began to walk through the grass. “We’ll be spending the night here.”

Chrysalis? “Is it a palace?”

He glanced back and motioned her forward again. Alice was too tired to protest; she only sped up as fast as she could and reached his side. “Something like that,” the Hatter answered, once he was satisfied with her position. “It’s owned by Shari Lankra, the Caterpillar.”

So the Caterpillar lives in the Chrysalis. Of course. Why not?//

Before the Hatter could respond, the second guard appeared, walking behind a breathtakingly beautiful woman. The gates opened as if by magic and the woman walked through, the patterned silk of her wrap-dress floating behind her. Her butterscotch skin gleamed, and her lips were the same blue Alice had noticed across the grounds. There was no jewel in the center of her forehead, Alice noticed, but glittering tattoos wound around her hands and up her arms, too intricate to fully take in with a glance. //

His head snapped up and he rose a little, moving back, suddenly wary of the tight network of branches over his head. He held his knife with the flat of the blade angled toward his wrist. It was his favorite hold; defensive, better for slashing than stabbing.

Another dark blur swept overhead, just above the first layer of branches, and the Rabbit turned, following its movement.

A disembodied voice chuckled. “Why so serious, cotton-tail?”//

“Well,” said the voice abruptly, “I’m bored now. Have fun getting infected and all that. Maybe running away would have been smarter this time – but you’re not useful for your brain, really. I’ll tell the Queen you said hello.”//

“The Queen is not known for her virtues,” said the Caterpillar, with a melodramatic sigh. “And unfortunately, patience is widely regarded as such. Will you take dinner with me?”//

Note to self: Do not ever leave your heart alone. Not even for two seconds. Keep a solid eye on it.//


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