“Get up! Get up!”
Her glass like scream penetrates the thin veil of my mind. A simple mind being tested beyond self - imposed limits. I stumble over myself in clumsy despair. What did I deliberately walk into?
The fuming liquid metal of my tin forehead stings my unfocused eyes. I find myself cocooned in the nervous heat of this burning inferno of hell. I suspiciously eye the wicked licks of orange flames. Precisely, now is when I realise I am trapped in a madness of my own special making. Foolishly provoked by my own heated desires. I just never learn. I really don’t. The illusion drowning. This is no family gathering for the faint hearten.
The poor metal of my soles are caught in this devilish heat chase. I really am a tin mess of sticky fluids of all kinds. I am being quickly ravished by raw coal which happily roasts innocent tin flesh. Whilst chasing my insane dreams, I land here, in a boiling pot for the weak. I claw at the edge of a reality farcical. The joke is on me. The foolish warrior. Doomed, I am. Only a miracle can save my scorching hide. The early gush of an awakening in my once sleeping heart, now dies slowly at the hands of a defiant Rebel Queen.
A Rebel Queen of devout puppets.
I know nothing more about their bizarre cult and it’s not because I didn’t want too. It’s just that no one thus far dares to divulge. It is mystery, unique.
Her silver curls are enviously long. Each curl intricately woven together. A spectacular hair masterpiece. And they surely know it. Every strand aware of its hold on an audience captivated. Their cocky tug and war with the earth, a titillating slow dance. The earth in return jives in wondrous awe. Her grand ruby crown is elegantly perched on her formidable head. The complete set up an elaborate plot of powerful dominance. My thoughts provoking them. The crown hisses in arrogant bemusement at my performance, most certainly pathetic. Agile ballerina limbs are poised even in her unspoken fury. Then there are the movements of a practised dancing warrior. I may be a fool, but I am not blind- yet. I maintain distance between us, all the while my weary eyes fixed on her. Her skin is like soft olive velvet. There is no way, I can get close enough to feel it, but even in this craziness my mind is preoccupied with imaging the smooth silkiness of it. I feel crazy. Irritated, she wipes perspiring crystal droplets from her stormy eyes. Burnt orange flames flickering everywhere. Her thoughtful sea green slits, intense in their watching. I cover my face to avoid the lashing. She is an elite master of this foreboding fire war. The milk white silk of her dress nonchalantly careless, even whilst it sizzles in wildfire. Nothing at all, deterring her will, which is wilfully determined. I should know.
We are confined in a giant earthy boxing ring from the dirtiest corner of hell. It is alive in unrecognisable chatter. A language foreign, I presume with no certainty. These days, I am uncertain about everything. The chaotic liveliness of this moment is incredibly unnerving in already absurd circumstances. Who would have thought, I would draw such attention? I am almost always invisible. In my mere nothingness of an existence, I chartered boundaries in a hope blinded by optimism. Reality, sadly sinking in unknown territory. I hoped for something else. However, nothing seems familiar in this waking consciousness. To be honest, in my short bleak life, I have crossed many dark paths. Maybe now is the time for insanity to prevail. Perhaps, I am simply slow to see it.
Wiping beads of sweat from my frowning brows, I leap to my feet again. Toes small scolding in silent pleas, they beg me to stop. To save them, to save us. The sad chorus of crushing bones ready to meet a swift end. However, there is no such joy for us. Whilst the internal musicians drum to their own music, the Rebel Queen remains in her flamboyant element. She isn’t submitting to my tune- that I can tell you. Staking her throne; she stands on tiny toes ready to pounce. A smug sneer spreads across her magical face. She hears my unspoken defeatist thoughts, they linger in the heated spark between us. We are almost like long lost lovers without the love of course- dancing to a game of predator and prey. Her razor claws burning layers of my beautifully bruised skin. This match is easily unmatched. I am out of my depth and I know it. I really do.
The sudden shrill chanting of her goddess family, throws me off guard- well the little of it I had. From nowhere, they launch into this ugly crow like song. I fumble painfully against the angry rope scorching in this nightmare. Its own sticky sweat clinging to my flesh. Her family gathers in a halo around the ring- deep in a trance. It is a sight scary. My liquefying brain points out that it’s really an army and not a family, but I don’t have time to debate semantics.We have big problems. Oh, yes-survival. Distracted by the laboured breathing of my throbbing lungs. I cough hysterically aware that I can’t take my minds chatter seriously, after all my usual sharp thinking is being fried in this fume filled nightmare. I bleakly scan for an escape, but nothing appears useful. And the unexpected squealing cheers of the excited lime army, breaks my unfocused resolve. The lime army is a peaceful movement, their presence here makes no sense. Regardless their support seems futile. I am a dead warrior. To be truthful, I am only a warrior in name. I am no real warrior. Basically, I am homeless tired soul looking to escape these meaningless games. And this leads me to the inevitable conclusion.
I am totally ready to admit my defeat.
Without any provocation or invitation of any sorts, an intoxicated Absalom puffs hungry smoke in my distressed burning face. Where the hell did he come from? I hear her silent curses as the melting metal slides into my mouth. Aha! maybe distraction will work. Maybe in this way, I can buy myself some dignity. His purple wrinkled body is refreshingly cool against my explosive heat. Thankfully, the Rebel Queen is temporarily blurred. I bet she isn’t overjoyed by this uninvited intrusion. Finally, this maybe my one chance to recover some ground.
“Be like water my friend.” He slurs in a slow Asian accent.
I can be like water, after all I am literally fading away. My head snaps back, anticipation begins to tingle in my gut. I really could find a way out of here, alive. My instinct is fuelled with renewed need to survive. I sense her pending onslaught. I can feel it, if only I had mastered some supernatural art.With quick jerky movements, cowardly I duck, in an instant desperate to live. Well, I’ve gathered if victory is near impossible, I can at least attempt to outwit her. She is on the defence that much is apparent. Her fists collide with nothingness for now, but the next hungry lot catch a smoky Mohammad Ali’s eye in surprised amusement. Ali chuckles heartily. In reply she lets out a guttural scream and with that smooth as a butterfly Ali flutters away beneath layers of rainbow smoke. This distraction won’t hold for long. It would be stupid to believe otherwise. And Absalom knows it. His disgruntled huff loud amongst the rising noise of the rebellion. He didn’t like her.
“Peek- a-boo. I know where you hide. And you can’t hide from the truth.” She sings in her velvet voice in an accent unusual.
Her weird family continues to chant in frivolous hype. I can’t comprehend their devotion to this raging lunatic. A tyrant for sure. The collective noise of our inner and outer worlds an explosive intrusion of two separate ideologies caught in a battle pointless.I think, only I know that- I am here to find love not war.Unable to muster up an appropriate attack, after a few clumsy attempts, I roll my body to a corner. All the while I hope Absalom reappears with his drug infused bongo. Now about is the time to dull my senses to ease this pitiful pain taking over. The time for distractions is over.
I should just accept my defeat. There is no better time than now. It is then, a quiet lull descends upon us. Everything frozen in icy silence. No one moves. The Rebel Queen frozen catlike in her place. It is incredible. I can’t remember the last time I felt so calm. Maybe another trick by the special Master Absalom himself. The mystery is solved rather quickly. It is as though an angel has appeared before us. It certainly is a lucky escape. I haven’t called upon Allah- in all fairness, it didn’t occur to me. Fortunately, some kind soul is listening to my silent prayers. In an instant my fragile vessel is gripped firmly in sturdy twig fingers. They dump me amid mountainous snowflake candy floss. The burning skin of my battered body sizzles beneath the icy coolness.
I look up, my voice brittle trembles in my throat.
“Thank you, thank you, thank you Grand Tree.”
The gentle Grand Lime Tree, is my new captivator, thankfully he is an old friend. I have no words for gratitude just pure heart felt sobs. Him and I connected deeply. His thick embossed skin crystallises in this insane coldness. He shakes violently not looking in my direction.
“Where are we?” I ask.
Both of our eyes dart quickly to the lime soldiers who are building a snow tower without much care that it is lopsided and won’t survive any longer. It looks like fun, fun I haven’t had in years. They are a brave but kind army. A sudden warmth brims in my heart. Their joyful silence makes me happy. Deep in concentration, they are oblivious to my presence. I don’t mind going unnoticed. It is almost second nature to be invisibly visible.
“1979. Where all beginnings begin.”
The grand trees reply is reflective in its tone. I lie my traumatised body in the delicate softness of silk like snow. Some respite, finally. My metal wax solidifies in corners random. My tin body, lets out a choked sigh at the relief provided by this frozen in time forest.
“I was born winter 1979”. I say out of the blue.
The Grand lime tree shrugs one of its branch deliberately.
“Well, then you should know why you are here.”
A sadness lingers in his sultry tones. Moist eyes avoid burning ones.
Something is wrong.
“You should choose your battles wisely Tiny Warrior.”
His voice barely audible now.
I don’t understand what exactly transpired here today. One moment I am on a quest to find my honourably truthful path. The next I literally encounter Satan. My desire, is uncomplicated - to find my purpose. Yet, here I am battered and bruised because I want to be of use in this world. I feel as again I have missed the point. What truth am I hiding from? And why must I start here to uncover it? I think for now, I need no more answers. Only blissful sleep. I am not asking for much, but Madam luck isn’t on my side. She won’t be granting my wishes twice in one day. The pondering doesn’t last much longer. Peace is a rare luxury these days. If it was a gamble, it surely be losing because precious hell seems to always be in the foreground.
The earth begins to groan thanklessly underneath my already brittle bones. The fine lines of the ground, unusually beautiful like a rare egg shell cracked. Both of us surrounded by an unmistakably secret pirate quest. However, the Grand Lime tree remains steadily grounded. This mischief must not be of his making. In fact, it appears to be a mark of a rebellion unforgiving. Then it loudly clicks in my newly solidified brain. It is her. The Rebel Queen! She is the victorious leader of a kingdom thriving under her might. And she isn’t done with me yet. There is no mercy granted for my futile weakness. I wish I had read the small print of her contract. I guess there is no point dwelling in the what ifs - the present has plans of its own. I didn’t belong in their world. My erratic thoughts are tossed into frenzy by the gaping hole greedily swallowing me up. Unsurprisingly, I find myself falling down my very own rabbit hole.
I fall in a void dark.
The Grand Tree’s sadness hangs in the earthy scent between us. I close my eyes, blotting out the sad image. Landing ungraciously on my back, tired arms lie limp whilst unladylike legs spread across the disgruntled floor. From where I am, my eyes catch his amber flickering. Something odd is being cooked up today. Swinging boldly on the intricate glass chandelier, he doesn’t hide his stern mask. Something is certainly wrong. A loose pale blue shirt is recklessly thrown over his broad chest, its allure teasing. Now isn’t the time for distractions but I can’t help myself. I am addicted, I think. I continue to stare as silk emerald Aladdin pants loosely twirl around his strong legs. He throws his arms wildly above his head for no real reason. To be clear, he never really has any reason for anything, so I am not surprised. And as he swings his Afro in a bun high, scrapes the edges of a grey suspicious ceiling. Both uncaring in their recklessness. A disdain lurks between them. They seem to be on unfriendly terms. Dim embers of light cast shadows over his angles sharp. I don’t know where the light shines from as there is none in the room. Yet, we are glowing in this radiant presence.
I moan, crawling to my feet. They complain in annoyed agony. Every bone creaks in a complaint unanimous. I force my rag doll self to stand unsteadily. Clearing my dry throat, I take a slow glance around the intimately abandoned tea party. The teacups clatter in a greeting polite. I nod in a return. This is an unexpected turn of events. Now what is she up to? Or is he up to it? Who knows?
With impressive acrobatic somersaults, the Mad Hatter lands before his audience imaginary. Curtsying like a ballerina waif, a grin toothy sprawls across his cheerful face. He stands before me, inches away.
“Why hello Tin Warrior.”
My reply, a garbled mess of scratched noise.
“Wonderland, really?” I cough loudly, or it seems loud in this tiny cave. I have no idea where we are.
“It’s my home, I couldn’t give this a miss now, could I, oh so Little one?
Snorting in jesting evil, he rolls those splendid amber eyes and then slowly wriggles his finely shaped eyebrows.
“Having fun, are you?” His voice drips in concern fake.
He takes a long finger to softly touch my cheek bluish purple. My foolish skin tingles under his spell. I manage to squeak some semblance of a sentence out.
“Apparently, I must begin at the beginning. Only then, I will find my truth.”
“Sounds about right. No? Yes? No? Hmm. Maybe?”
Popping a ridiculously large purple grape in his mouth, he stares unashamedly at my hideously bruise trail.
“I have no idea what happened. There were no warnings of any kind. Who in the right mind doesn’t tell you about an initiation ritual? I hoped to join them. All I wanted was a chance to discover my true purpose.”
I try to pace but my knees, have none of it. Instead, I clench my fist. I avert my focus; an unfamiliar feeling is fluttering in the depths of my heart. I must look away.
“I wasn’t really looking for a fight! S-s-she took advantage of me. She knew I wasn’t aware of the rules, especially when she cared not to share any. It was all staged to host a glory fest where she could tear me apart in front of her massive goddess gang. She is a narcissist only after an ego licking.”
My throat hisses in anger.
“Maybe that was the purpose. Nothing is ever black and white, black and white, black and white, my dear. Aren’t these just your assumptions? You have no absolute proof, right?”
The soothing whisper of his voice turns into a cheeky taunt. An electric charge is awakening here. The air around us begins to gather in an unprovoked current feisty. Hmm, I should expect the unexpected. My hair stands on its unruly wild ends as the air catches momentum. Amongst this new turn of events, the thudding of my heart is dramatically loud. He simply observes. A statue silent. My inner voice in despair as inside fear licks to life. It’s sparks strangely warm. From anger to fear, I am on a roller coaster doused in emotional chaos. The Mad Hatter suddenly mute. And that bugs me for some weird reason- it is haunting.
A violent knock on the wooden door, frightens the both of us.
“Let it go.” Purrs the Rebel Queen.
Her presence invisible yet equally intimidating.
“Let us in! Let us in! Let us isnow!”
Shriek the collective tribe of unwanted familiar strangers although I believe I don’t know them, but I feel that I must. They continue to yell from behind the cowering yellow door. I know this feeling- panic. It surges in my body surely replacing my blood. Every fibre within urging me to run. Run. Run. Run- it wails. As I turn towards the door, the large hand of the huntsman yanks at my hair. This is no fun tea party.
He grunts, spit spilling everywhere.
“I will kill you!”
With a menacing quietness, he adds,
“And I will enjoy every second of it. I will chop you to tiny, tiny, tiny pieces.”
I try to kick his grossly overweight knees. I fail.
“Don’t be foolish now. You stupid, useless bitch.”
This time, he spits on my face. Teeth sharp stab at already violated arms. Then without any warning, he shimmers into the Evil Queen Mother. Her fine fingers, stroke preciously at my rebellious mane. Venom drips from a tongue poisonous. She snarls, her snake tongue slapping my raw cheek. I am frozen in shock. She doesn’t open her mouth to speak but words echo in the hallow.
“It’s only a matter of time before on this pathetic quest of yours you die a lonely miserable death. You were always a pathetic, helpless cause. I don’t know why your father bothered with you.”
She is within my reach so without warning I push her. My nails catch her white neck swan like. Her fading cackle stabs at my wounded heart. I guess, the fight isn’t over yet. The Rebel Queen having unleashed buried monsters. I should have been able to predict the next arrivals, yet I hadn’t. Three cloned step sisters. My sisters. They are fair tall maidens with crimson braids that grace their slim knees. Grim melting chocolate eyes are never sisterly tender. They fix all their passionate hate on my filthy existence. Their rosebud lips curled in a sly snarl permanent. One speaks for all. I can’t recall who is who anymore. I take a step backwards- space is crucial. They are brilliantly evil.
“Dear beloved sister, still day dreaming of a better life? You know the sad truth? It will never happen. Never for you.”
They shake their heads in collective mock sympathy. Tutting in a daunting chorus.
“No one cares, if you live or you die. There is no place anywhere for your kind. It would be so much easier if you were dead. At least, then the rest of us can live in peace. In a world rid of your filth.”
Their cruel laughter, burns a hole where inside the darkest corners of sadness thrives. My throat tightens in desperation to break free from their hold. With one hand, I grab a saucer, bright green from the poor table shaking in terrified horror. Fortunately, its pain short lived as it is thrashed to pieces beneath the violent hairy paws of the wolf from Red Riding Hood. His angry grip, slithers its way around my already purple ink stains. I don’t have a chance to dodge him.
“It’s been a long while sister.”
His growl purposefully pronounced, the awful sound tearing strips from my soul. Somehow, this doesn’t feel so alien. I swallow my fear. I may not know what game is being played this time, but I am not ready to be defeated. The chess pieces will not fall in his rotting flesh. I refuse to be beaten twice in one day. Hell no! It will not happen again. With a forceful power rising within, I cock my head. Our eyes meeting. His ugly mouth moving.
“It’s always good to see you die, sister.”
He leans over to continue his verbal attack, but I don’t let him finish. His words die on his vile decaying lips by my well -timed courage. My she-wolf coming out to play. Perfect timing, I say. Nothing deters her. In movement swift, I smash my head into the hideously arranged face. I don’t stop even as pain explodes inside my fragile frame.
“Enough! Enough!” I yell.
Senselessly, I carry on with my uncontrollable battery. Oddly he doesn’t retaliate. Words pour from my impetuous mouth. I have no idea why I say them. However, I can’t seem to stop. It is as if I am possessed by another, speaking their language, feeling their pain, shedding their skin.
“It is enough! I am not afraid of you. I fear no one! Do you hear me? I will not play your games of evil manipulation. I refuse! I play no willing part in your violent hate. I disown this history. This lineage. This fear. I am my own person without this rotten vileness. No more! No more!”
I scream whilst raging raw fingers feast into him. This hysteria of a once sleeping beast fuelling my entire being. It’s mocking a slap across my cold face-peaceful hey? Not anymore. This is uncharacteristic lunacy on my part is certainly outlandish. Water stings my anguished eyes. Tears? Again, a hand reaches out. In this instant of blindness, I turn around and swing my pounding fist into this unfocused assassin. Freshly bruised fingers collide artistically against the crushing of bones. Blood red stains my weeping hands. Senses alive, gain consciousness.
“Oh God! Oh no! I’m so sorry!” I sob.
The Mad Hatters disfigured face, obscures before my ashamed watershed unstoppable. Unaffected by my surprising outburst, he pulls me close in an embrace warm. Blood dripping in my hair. His tender fingers caress my wounds. His scent reassuring. It drags me back into this reality. The humming of his heart is soft as a bird against my erratic one. It calms me. I shudder as thoughts begin their screenplay of horrors. He holds us together tightly, weaving a hypnotic spell. His gentle cooing, easing my racing anxiety. His voice is low. I close my eyes, afraid to see the ugly mess of his otherwise lovely face.
“We have to let the past go. These are your demons, you must face them. If you continue to forget you will forever be stuck here.”
He waves a hand around to suggest the nightmarish day I have had.
“You cannot hold your emotions or fears. Until you do, your demons will continually reappear in many forms. There will be no kind warnings. Anger isn’t polite my dear.”
He tilts my face to meet my gaze and continues softly.
"It is the cycle of life. It is how were act to it that accounts for our growth. Our souls want to evolve. Move on. You are not your past. Yet, you are also not separate from it. Every reappearance shows you your progression. Only, you can decide how you will respond to the call. Do you understand Tiny Warrior?”
I let his words sink in. Amongst all my inner noise, the persistent banging on the door has gone unnoticed untilnow that we are not talking. The Mad Hatter in his inoffensive perkiness grins, pointedly staring at his feet.
“This is not the time to cry me a river Officer Tiny.” He orders in military seriousness.
Before, I remark, both of us sprout taller at a pace speedy.
“Oh oh..” says the Mad Hatter sheepishly.
I incredulously stare at our gigantic feet growing more with each word.
“Believe it or not, I was lured. It’s a plot, you see. Actually, I was seduced to eat it.”
I can’t help myself I burst into an uncontrollable giggle. He joins me. This is atypical Mad Hatter thing to do. The laughter jolts the long-buried violence into temporarily sedation. This very moment with the Hatter liberating. This is the here and now. I am present in my own life. And no one can take that away from me unless I willingly hand over my personal power. The unfolding of today is for sure an adventure unanticipated, but I have survived it. I live another day. Between my giggles, I take a step back from his embrace. We both are a pair of badly battered bobo dolls.
“You ate the cake? Knowing the story? It is your own story! Wow.” I say.
He tosses a flippant hand in the air. And as he does, the stubborn door caves a little. In excited joy, he speaks to his feet again.
“What are you waiting for starry groove-stars, let’s get the hell out of here!”
He stamps his feet impatiently. Instructing them in a strict father like command.
“Groove-stars? Um, by the way, they’re my shoes and that is no way their name.”
I remark laughter lurking in the shadows.
“Finders keepers, losers weepers.”
Our banter halted by the groove-stars. My magical shoes, roar to life on the Mad Hatters giant feet. The orange ink hues swirling into action. They have their own rules, ones I am not privy too. Their hidden encoding is powered by some secret sequence within the fabric. One day I will figure it out. They brim with this absurd super power beneath their reservedly shy surface. Still in shock from the fear of the moment before, they whimper as they begin to bask in vibrant luminosity. Ignited by the positive energy of hope they show some sort of drive to escape from here. The Hatter proud of his antics. Abruptly they choke and die before they fire up again. Then in a glorious cloud of stardust, they launch into the sky in a puff of golden glitter leaving sparkling doves in their wake.
“Stealing doth not count as finding.” I yell, as I latch on to his shirt.
My voice drowns under the rockets ablaze on his feet. Caught in our own wild storm, I manage to catch a glimpse of the yellow door. It remains unbroken albeit beaten a little. As we fade into nothingness, our fingers laced, I ask finally,
“Did we just run away from our problems?”
Surreal music hums against my ear, in contrast his words are stark,
“No, my dear. You see, I know when to walk away. We don’t need to fight. It’s exhausting. I chose wisely. Especially, when I know that truth doesn’t forever sleep behind the veils of subconsciousness.”
Together, as delicate essence, engulfed in the arms of the wind we float. My attention drawn to life below us. The Grand Lime tree remains where he was. However, under his protective gaze, the Rebel Queen and her goddesses, perform a mesmerising dance. Great! they knew each other? I can’t tear my eyes away from the majestic cocktail of joyful harmony. Many beautiful bodies, intertwined as one surrounded by glowing bright limes. They float in an infectious serenity, their twinkling enchanting amongst the midnight palette. It is a wonderfully powerful scene. My throat swells. I know my scent lingers in the wind. She looks up, her turquoise sea sincere, unspoken words, clear.
“You may not trust me, and I don’t blame you. One day though you will. Remember, to live, one must not hold the past. Every single one of us at some point comes to a crossroad. Some see it, others do not or cannot. We bury our truths. Swallow our rage. We have done so for centuries. This is no different. Today was tough but it won’t always be this way. You my precious goddess, are beyond what you see right now. You will return to us but not before your time. Only when you outgrow your tin armour. Live my Tiny Warrior. Live. This is your gift.”
Hammering raindrops stifle her. I cling to the Mad Hatter unsure of anything more than his tenderness in this moment we share as one.
This is my story or some semblance of it.