The white light begins to dissolve.
My eyes can finally see the crimson. It is bitter, yet I hold no hate towards it. I have become accustomed to it, though the taste never really goes away. I expected as much.
I am now alone. The monstrosities have all but evaporated. Not a single trace of their terror remains. Thinking that, I wonder to myself their real purpose. They do not feel, yet they are aggressive. What nature would such creatures have? Furthermore, have they truly been here all this time, longing for my arrival? So many questions, so little to do. Gradually, my legs give way.
Time passes, but I feel no urge to proceed. My body is numb, and my hands are weak. I can barely feel the cold touch of metal at the end of my fingers. The grime no longer seems to be there, which I do appreciate. Still, there is little wrong with holding back my breath and simply await the flow of time. Maybe if I waited long enough, I would be free.
The thought lingers. Even if I accomplish what I set out to do, to what end would that serve me. Nothing has been tangible before, as the only thing I knew was emptiness. My tears are lost with the fire, along with what I have that resembles a family. Years have passed, and nothing has changed. What good would carrying on do? Surely I shalt be thrown back into the endless cycle of life. It has always been the same, day after day, as people look at me as if I was something alien, something foul. The rest speaks only with unease and sympathy. I need none of that. The only thing I wanted was peace, a moment to pass without my mind being ravaged by the images of this desolate place, of the mad episodes, and of that red laugh. I have come here in hope of ending the screams, but all I found was more of them.
“More tea, your majesty?”
My attention snaps back. It is yet another afternoon that was spent so meaninglessly. How I wish my time was important. Looking aside, I can see the throne next to me, cold and lifeless, just as I remember it. What good will it accomplish now, though, as the kingdom’s subjects are scarce and torn. I wish everything would just go back to how it was. It is but a curse at the wind, of course, as fate has already decided my purpose. What a cruel joke it is, but to what end?
The hot liquid drips into the cup, slowly, as if forcing my self reflection. I grunt. I truly have nothing better to do. Little did I know back then how that encounter was going to turn out. If I had, no such recklessness would have been seen from me. I would gladly take the fall if just to end it all. Instead, I now return, to my kingdom in ruins. How I miss the pristine line of guards, ready to give their lives at a drop of a hat. How I miss the joy of watching over the citizens scattered across the great fields, on a white horse so dignified. How I miss when the throne I’m sitting on would mean something. How I miss ruling the kingship with an iron fist.
“Is there anything else, your majesty?”
“That would be all.”
I resent how he is one of the few subjects I have left. A few screws short, the man is. He would make for a passable servant, but holding a conversation is simply impossible. Nothing would hold that man’s attention, but it is no surprise. I hoped for nothing more, and just that is what I received. Now, if only somehow this process could be done a bit quicker, so I can return to my rest. The wait has been quite troublesome, and I fear it shan’t end soon.
My eyes open. I know this voice, of course I do. Ever since I stepped foot in here, it has been haunting me from all corners. I stare into the blackness, to see those teeth widened, smiling. How I hate them so. Still, I do not move.
“Are you that damaged?”
Its eyes now appear where they should, aimed at me from a distance. I stare straight back, expressing my disdain with the tasteless remark. The smile does not change, and it bothers me still. It’s here to remind me that I must continue, and shan’t stop until I give in. It would not hurt me to do as it entails, yet I despise every moment that I must comply. I stand up, just so I can escape this indictment.
“Keep quiet, pest.” I reply. I know how close I am to completing this task, and the fact that no one will stand in my way of it. The way thus far has not been easy, but what is a cause without struggle. It would have been boring, indeed.
“No need for such harsh words.” It replies. “I just wanted to make sure you haven’t given up yet.”
I am firmly back on my feet. My limbs can barely move, but that has never gotten in the way before. The blade in my left hand still shines through its edge, but my attire is soaked in red. The creatures I have encountered did not possess blood of course, but it would not have been interesting if I hadn’t bled, just a little. I hold no resolve, but I know what I must do.
“Only come when you’re needed.”
The smile slowly drowns into the darkness.
“What time is it?”
He pulls out his watch and flips the lid open, then proceeds to stare at it intensely. The work is of no pace, however, as I continue to enjoy the tea as he takes his time. The hall is still quiet. There is not a single soul in front of me, from the throne to the gate. Everything has already been lost. Everyone is no more. It is as if time has stopped, yet I’m still here. What a twist, I think to myself. The ultimate punishment given before the end times, this must be.
“I don’t know, your majesty.”
He answers, with a baffled look on his face. His sight is working just fine, I presume, just not his mind. Still, I believe him. If that watch was able to tell him anything, it would be that it’s time to leave. He does not know why he is still needed here, but I do. Perhaps it’s a bit wicked to toy with him like this, but I have no other joy. I would have felt guilty, if only his mind hasn’t gone off the deep end long ago. He continues to prove to be useful, however, thus I will keep him around.
“Your majesty!” The gate flies open. A knight, fully armoured, rapidly approaches. He kneels before me and pleads. “The outer gate is being forced open.”
“I see.” It is finally time. I know this day would come. At least it will end soon. “What is your plan?”
“We shall face the enemy.” His voice is unyielding, but unmistakably shaken. I understand. His life is his own to fear for.
“Your efforts shall prove to be futile.” I have no words of encouragement for them. They have my respect whatever happens, but nothing will change. This will end just like last time, and no one would be able to do a thing about it. There is no choice regarding the outcome, but I still tell him what I think. “You and your men are the last of what this kingdom has. Do you truly want to participate in such a pointless struggle?”
“Our loyalty is absolute, your majesty.”
He pauses, as if awaiting my orders. I have none. What good shall what I say do? They have already decided to give up their lives for the cause they believe in, thus I am in no position to stop them. Anything I implore would do nothing but cheapen their sacrifice. Thus, he hears not a single word, and replied with a bow, before once again disappearing beyond the gate.
This is nothing I did not expect. Bodies falling around me, as my blade punctures their vitals. These are people, unlike those monsters. Their blood splatter the white fabric, but do not slow me down.
They still charge at me with such zeal. I can see the determination in their eyes. These soldiers are of all shapes and sizes, genders and ages. They are united under a common cause. They are willing to give up anything to eliminate me. I wish I can tell them that they’re wasting their lives, that nothing can stop me. However, every time one of their hearts stop dead in my hands, that feeling grows less prevalent. These roars of battle are being drowned out into the void, and their screams were nothing but silent. It’s a shame, really.
I can feel my skin being tattered under their swords and arrows as I move forward. However, the massacre cannot be stopped. I cannot be stopped. My feet are light as air, as I dance across the battlefield, bringing death to all these innocents. I am neither evil nor heartless. It would be much more accurate to say I simply feel nothing at all. I will continue to kill as long as they continue to oppose, and soon enough, only a few remains.
“You shan’t proceed.”
The knight stands in the way of me and the gate. He is shaking in fear of death, but his resolve is strong. With a sword in his hand and a shield in the other, he speaks of reason.
“It is not too late. Turn back now.”
“All these lives are lost, yet you still want to stand in my way.” I speak without empathy. The situation is nothing more than a matter of course to me, as time cannot turn back. Regardless of how much of a waste this battle was, it is over.
“These people are nothing without their will, and they have followed just that.” The knight’s voice trembles. He must be in a mix of rage and terror, as he tries to stare me down. It’s perfectly expected, of course. “However, their efforts were in vain. Still, I beg of you to not do this.”
“I’m afraid I cannot comply.” It is the most dishonest thing I’ve ever spoken.
“Then there is no use for talking.” He readies his sword. “Farewell.”
With that, he rushes forward. A quick thrust is delivered, piercing my chest with the weapon. It hurts, quite sharply, but ultimately fruitless as ever. My blade is quick to act, and his head rolls down the walkway. Pulling the weapon out is somewhat tricky, but a bit more pain is nothing I cannot handle. It is now time to finish what I started.
The gate opens once again, yet the one who comes in is not the knight. However, it is still a familiar face. The fair skin drenched vermilion, the dress dripping of blood, turning it to a red hue, and the knife held loosely by that slender hand. She is a thing of beauty, very much so.
“Alice.” I cry. “So you’ve come at last.”
“Alice?” The man gasps, as he leaves my side and sprints to hers. Such excitement hasn’t been seen on his face for a very long time. “This is a pleasant surprise. Would you care for some tea?”
“Hatter.” She speaks solemnly. “Leave us.”
“As you wish.” I can see his disappointment, but that simply is not very relevant at the moment. He is quick to disappear from sight, leaving the two of us alone.
“So, Alice, I trust you’re here to deliver me a quick death?” I smiled. We have both been here in this situation before. The first destruction of my kingdom is inflicted upon by her hands, after all. The king was so swiftly dealt with, I barely had time to feel any remorse for him. The girl then disappeared, leaving the castle in shambles and hundreds of lives destroyed. If it has not been so long, I dare say I would have been quite angry. “Just like you did my husband, so you can escape this broken fantasy, and back to your life?”
“No.” I think she might have gone insane for a moment.
“Nonsense.” I cannot believe it, so much so that I have to go to her, to see her, face to face. “What would have been the point of all this?”
“I’m here to cut all of my ties.” She says. “I don’t want to go back.”
I must have gone mad. She speaks those words with such emptiness, no remorse for all the lives she ruined, the kingdom she demolished, the destruction she spread across this land. Then I start to take notice, of her red dress, her utter lack of consideration for the slaughter of hundreds, and her blistering beauty. I watch, as she climbs the steps onward, as she drops herself onto the throne, and I realize who she has become.
Wonderland shall remember this day. Today marks the abolition of the monstrosities’ rule over this land. Today marks the eradication of all lives within the kingdom. Today marks the coronation of the Red Queen.