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 bloodthirsty 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 Jeremy Megargee
I’ve dipped a claw in ink, and it’s with this makeshift pen I scrawl out this note. Tick tock goes the clock, and it’s into that rushing White Rabbit’s stolen pocket watch I’ll stow this note when it’s finished. The watch hangs from a tarnished silver chain, the wind blowing it back and forth. An instrument built to document time, but what is time when you are timeless?
It’s a burden. You can only pad through the treetops for so long before the branches become monotonous. The sky is always full of purple clouds, and once they enchanted me, but now they simply blur together into a blob of color—an unfinished canvas left to rot after the painter is long dead in the soil.
I could sit in the lap of the Caterpillar and let him blow his hookah smoke into my nostrils—that was a joy once, a private pleasure—but those days are done. The thought used to intoxicate, but now it only makes me sad.
All the invitations to the Mad Hatter’s table go unanswered. They’ve piled up in the tangled roots beneath the weeping willow that has always served as my lounging place. I let the rain wash away whatever scatterbrained words he has left for me in those letters. The tea grew tasteless in my mouth long ago. Too many centuries. Too much piled up time. Even the gears in the clock seem to mock me. I feel invisible now, a skulking shadow underfoot, a slave to familiar forests and crumbling stone walls. I suppose the most ironic part of feeling this way is I am literally invisible most of the time.
I’ve walked past the house of the Duchess so often the screams of her infernal infant have become buried in my brain, scorched there—a dark, haunted forever sound. I’ve thought of opening the Duchess’ throat with my teeth and leaving her to bleed out on her doorstep. I would lap up those crimson rubies like mother’s milk.
Who was my mother? Did I ever have one? I can’t recall. So many memories lost, mired in a purple haze, akin to balloons floating up into the atmosphere where they can never be retrieved again.
The March Hare is concerned about me. He says my head is muddled up with dark thoughts, but I just grin at him—I grin at everyone—and it convinces them all is well. It is the constant mask I wear against this wounded Wonderland, shining teeth to soothe souls as equally damned as my own. I’m tired of the mask. I’m tired of it all.
I sometimes ask the Dormouse what it’s like to sleep endlessly, to be caught in the river of dreamscapes. He tells me it is a mercy. A beautiful escape from this distorted reality, this waking nightmare. I want so badly to sleep like he sleeps.
It’s likely why I devoured him and licked his bloody flesh and bone fragments from my paws. I thought if I ate his sleep-infused body, it would grant me the power to slumber through the meandering days. It did no such thing. There was no magic in the Dormouse, nothing to numb this futile existence.
It’s been weeks now since I digested and shat him out and still I can’t fucking sleep. Still my eyes are always open, always watching, denied a simple bit of rest while I stalk in circles through some malformed map born from a child’s fanciful headspace.
I’ve scratched ragged furrows into the tiny doors, but they rarely open for me. When they do, they open to blackness, an abyss, a formless void.
The little bottles are shattered, the “DRINK ME” notes crumpled and forgotten. I’ve licked at them regardless, but I do not become small, and I do not become large. My tongue simply aches from the tiny fragments of glass piercing into my sensitive taste buds.
The pool of tears is still there, and I cry into it often—silently, unseen, adding to the rippling waves. It stopped being a pool a thousand years ago. It’s an ocean now, salty and foul, and the desiccated corpse of the Dodo still floats in on the tide once in a while.
I take midnight strolls through the croquet court, but the games are long since done. The severed heads of so many denizens of Wonderland jut up from shards of broken mallets planted firmly into the ground. The heads have decayed, but they still whisper. They stare at me with their dead eyes and they judge me—all of them there—Old Magpie, Lory, and even The Knave of Hearts.
I used to playfully paw at the rose bushes, but the bushes burn each night, their flames eternal. To touch those bushes is an invocation to let the cinder-dwellers in. I can’t do that. There’s no space for more demons in my head. No vacancies, my friends, for every room is spoken for.
Speaking of the demonic, I must quicken my pace and put these words to the page before the Queen of Hearts becomes aware of my presence here. Her castle reeks of the beheaded, her own King a victim of her lust for the guillotine blade.
To read the full story and more Clock-inspired, Alice Horror, check out Clockwork Wonderland.