Madness -- To Market

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Fantasy  |  House: The Imaginarium
The third short story set in an alternate Wonderland.
Cover by Booksie member Markie Bee.

Submitted: February 16, 2019

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Submitted: February 16, 2019

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Madness – To Market

Don’t panic! I know that for now we are in cages, being transported you know not where. I’ll tell you, we are on our way to market. Not the purchasers, no not us; we’re goods to be sold to the highest bidder whoever he, or she, may be.

The Masked Brigade are the wild cards of this here Wonderland. They go around gathering the flotsam, the jetsam, anything in the wrong place, the wrong time....and yes, I admit it, that was our crime.

No point in claiming your innocence to me. This place is quite crazy, can you not see. I’m as innocent as you, but once caught there is nothing to do but just stay calm, don’t panic and see who pays the price.

Are there any good possible buyers, you ask? Good? Well, that depends on your point of view, some are definitely worse than others. I’ll run through some of the possibilities if that would set your minds at ease. At least it might make the journey seem somewhat shorter.

The salt-miners might buy us. They would send us way out on the sands, to where the sea has more recently licked. Salt deposited by the sea, that’s what we’d be mining, you and me. Tiny grains – it takes so many to fill a pail, and there are rarely more than a couple in any one location. They would not be purchasers of choice for they will work your fingers to the bone before even thinking of letting you home.

Or we could find ourselves a home with the Brugle-Snatchers. This has some good points for they will feed us well, and keep us warm. They want to make us tasty. One by one we’ll be taken to the mountain top – there IS only one mountain here, and there we will wait to serve as bait. When the brugles spot us, come circling round, they’ll bring one down. Safe you might think, but think again, for the brugles travel in pairs.

The White King might be there, seeking some entertainment. This would be the best of the worst, for he will not cause you any harm apart from boredom of a greater kind. And remember, he takes counsel from his trusted friend, the Caterpillar. This wrinkled old fellow will twist you in knots, as he puffs out his smoke and gives you the coughs. He’ll trick and belittle you, leave you confused, not knowing if you’ve agreed or refused to...what? You really will not have a clue until it’s time to deliver.

Better the White than the Red, I think, but look, the market with crimson is over-flowing. This is not a good sign. Ominous! Disastrous! To be bought and owned by the Red Queen. The King might use you for target practice but the Queen, well, she’ll toy with you, causing a little bit more damage each time she takes a swipe, and then when she snaps your head off, you’ll actually feel relieved. Well, you won’t, because you won’t feel anything, but you get my drift. Death will be delivered as kind of a gift.

And there she is, the Red Queen herself. She’ll not be out-bid for she has so much wealth. Try not to look at her, don’t let her catch you peeking. Curiosity, she cannot resist! But, then again, she does not like to be ignored. It’s a situation in which you can only lose.

Cheshire is here! I can’t see him, you can’t see him, but most important of all, she can’t see him either. He’ll watch and wait and as soon as there is any news, a conclusion of sorts, an agreement signed, he’ll weigh up the options and leap in to action. You just have to trust the cat. After all, I do!

She’s looking our way! Oh, what to do? We must stick together. Apart we will crumble but together we stand a chance to win freedom in this crazy land. See her there, the woman in red from the tip of her toes to the top of her head. Apart from her face that is. All black and white and that maniac grin that hints of the insanity she holds within.

Oh, gobbledegook, and damn and blast. They are shaking hands and concluding a deal. We belong now to her, I forlornly feel. Ah, don’t look in her eyes for there’s some wicked gleam....she’s making plans for us.

Don’t give in to panic for look, she has the keys to the cages, is opening doors and...oh, no, the shackles. We’re in for a long hot march. But don’t despair. She’s paid good money and will ensure that somehow we get there.

The Red Palace. Some say it is named just for the color, while others will tell of the death and the blood. Goodness me, your faces have gone almost as pale as the queens. I did not mean to cause any alarm. For all we know she won’t cause us any harm. Unlike the one in Alice’s land she does not favour croquet, preferring cricket any day. Perhaps she just wants us to make up some teams and get a game under way.

You don’t know the rules? That’s okay for nor will anyone else. She makes them up as she goes along, her sole ambition is to go out there, to play, to cheat and to WIN!

How do I know? Well, the same way that I know anything about this Wondrous place. I look and I listen, and piece all the pieces together to make a hole....I mean, whole!

So we’re headed to the dungeons. That’s okay. Stay calm. I’ve heard said that they are quite comfortable, almost opulent as far as dungeons go. No wooden benches or mattresses on the floor in the Red Queen’s cells. I hear that each is furnished with a padded bench of blood red – oh, maybe crimson, I should say instead.

Don’t cry, don’t weep. Don’t blame me either. I never told you it was safe to continue. Once you’d begun it would have been the death of you to turn back.

THIS is the death of you! No, not at all. You are still breathing, after all. And there’s something, a forgotten fact. Chesire is free – just trust in the cat!



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