HorrorAddicts.net Press presents…Clockwork Wonderland.
Clockwork Wonderland contains stories from authors that see Wonderland as a place of horror where anything can happen and time runs amok. In this book you’ll find tales of murderous clockworks, insane creations, serial killers, zombies, and a blood thirsty jabberclocky. Prepare to see Wonderland as a place where all your worst nightmares come true. You may never look at classic children’s literature the same way again.
Edited by Emerian Rich
Cover by Carmen Masloski
Laurel Anne Hill
With Foreword by David Watson
by Michele Roger
As the powerful steam turbines came to life on the train headed to Wonderland, I searched for an empty cabin where I might find a quiet place to re-read Alice’s letter. Her desperate words inspired me to pack a quick bag and catch the first train out of London. As I passed each compartment along the corridor, I looked for a free cabin.
I soon found a cabin where a mother was sitting with her young son.
“Mama, please,” the boy pleaded with his mother as I took my seat.
“I said no!” she shouted.
“Please. Not Tuppers!” His voice grew more and more pathetic. He glanced at me with tears rolling down his cheeks. I had never had a child of my own, but I certainly had a soft heart for him.
“The doctor says it’s good for you. It will make you grow up to be a strong, young man.” The mother sighed, smoothing out her traveling gown, offering me a curt, forced smile.
“Growing up to be healthy and smart sounds like a very good idea,” I said, trying to encourage the boy. I smiled. Neither of them smiled back. I sighed and turned my gaze to the passenger window and the drizzling, cold rain outside.
The boy pulled out a small, fluffy rabbit from the inside pocket of his coat. I smiled at the boy as he gave the rabbit a cuddle. The boy shielded the tiny rabbit with the inside of his coat, as if having a private conversation with him. He was still whimpering, tears soaking the rabbit’s coat. The mother looked on, seething anger and pride radiating from her elegant body.
I watched her drum her manicured, blood-red nails. She was wealthy and stunning. She sighed as if the boy were embarrassing her in my company. I tried to give the air of complete indifference.
Finally losing patience, the mother removed her black lace hat and threw it on the seat beside her. She turned to her son and tore the rabbit from his tear-soaked hands. In one swift move, she plunged her teeth into the jugular of the tiny rabbit. I jumped up from my seat and stumbled backwards to the door of the cabin.
“No Mama!” the little boy screamed. The rabbit’s feet jerked and twitched. When its body went limp, she threw the dead rabbit to the floor, blood dripping from her porcelain, white chin. Her infuriated eyes traveled from her hysterical child, to mine, meeting my horrified gaze.
“Motherhood can be so trying.” She sighed, licking her bloodied lips. “If they don’t learn early in Wonderland, they just won’t survive.”
Words escaped me. I was frozen to my tiny place on the train. I wanted to sweep the boy up in my arms and leap with him from the train to safety. Instead, I reached for my small bag and left the cabin.
Taking refuge in the relative safety of the on-board cafe, I ordered a pot of tea. I poured the remnants of the hot water from my tea into my Speaking Envelope. The gears came to life, and Alice’s image projected on to the table. The tiny likeness of Alice sat at her desk and read her letter to me from her small law firm office. It was difficult to tell if the squeaking in the back ground of the message was the steam powered gears of my Envelope or something intertwined in the message itself. Nevertheless, Alice sounded desperate. I sincerely hoped I would reach Alice in time.
“Last stop to Wonderland, Miss,” the Conductor said, waking me from the letter’s enchantment. As I stepped off the train, I saw the mother and her young son entering a gold gilded carriage.
“Who is that?” I asked the conductor.
“Queen of Spades,” he replied. “Sister to the late, Queen of Hearts.”
“Sorry, did you say, late Queen of Hearts?” I asked, but he was gone.
The station bustled with chaos and passengers. Fearing another run in with gruesome royalty, I rented a small mount and headed to the address Alice had given in her letter.
Hatter, my newly-acquired mechanical hound carried me through a Wonderland I no longer recognized. The city was an emulsion of debauchery, unchecked theft and poverty. I pulled the lever to the left of my saddle and Hatter’s internal combustion kicked in, galloping toward the country.
Wonderland’s country estates crumbled under neglect and vandalism. Dead brush and animal corpses replaced the Queen of Hearts rose hedges. The stone fountains had been crushed. For someone who had once lived in fear of the Queen of Hearts, I missed her rule nevertheless.
I arrived at Alice’s family home to find her estate was not faring much better than the rest of Wonderland. Hatter, one half giant wolfhound and one half steam combustion mechanics, took his place near the hearth by the fire while I searched the house, calling for Alice.
I eventually found her asleep at the kitchen table. Stacks of papers and an equal number of plates and chipped tea cups surrounded her. The sugar had spilled from an upturned bowl. A broken window left shards of glass scattered across the wooden counter. As a cold breeze blew through the kitchen, it scattered crushed tea leaves all over the floor and knocked over more cups and papers sitting precariously atop one another.
I touched Alice on the hand, waking her as gently as I could. She blinked as if returning from some faraway place and then leaped up and wrapped her arms around me.
“Rabbit! You came!” she cried, throwing her tiny frame against me. We landed on the floor with the tea and the broken cups as she burst into tears.
“Of course, I came!” I reassured her. “How could I not? You are my best friend in all the world.”
To read the full story and more Clock-inspired, Alice Horror, check out Clockwork Wonderland.