After reading Heartless by Marissa Meyer, both Allegra and I wanted to write a story set in Wonderland, so we decided to collaborate one one. (I’ve mentioned this story in a post here on Scribes & Archers—”My Experience With Collaboration“—and also a couple of posts on Our Mind Palace which are no longer available since the site has been taken down.) The idea is that the main characters of Wonderland are dying, and eight people from the real world are brought in to take their places, but they have to go on a quest to find various relics representing the characters first. Here are the first two sections of the prologue, which introduce my POV character and Allegra’s (in that order). Enjoy. :)
Chess tucked her earbuds into place and turned the volume wheel up to almost blasting. Her amber eyes, almost orange, glanced out the window at the falling rain before she headed out of the apartment, closing the door behind her without bothering to lock it. There was a strange feeling telling her she’d be gone for a while and wouldn’t have to worry about it.
Stepping to the end of the hall she gave the elevator only a passing glance before heading into the stairwell and heading down, her steps echoing through the empty shaft. The music pulsed through her as she shoved open the door at the base of the stairwell. A few more steps brought her out of the apartment building and onto the sidewalk.
She looked up at the sky and let the raindrops fall on her face, closing her eyes. The combination of music and rain calmed her like nothing else could, and she stood there reveling in it for several minutes.
When she looked back at the street, it was entirely empty. No cars, no buses, no trucks. Neon advertisements still flashed on skyscrapers up and down the street, but the only thing on the concrete was rainwater. It glistened and reflected the flashing lights, giving off a familiar, almost otherworldly atmosphere.
Chess looked up and down the street, but there wasn’t a single vehicle in view. There weren’t even people on the sidewalks, except for herself. Oddly enough, Chess wasn’t disturbed by this fact, though she knew she should be. In fact, it put her strangely at peace. She hesitated only a moment before stepping out onto the concrete and straight into the middle of the street.
Spinning around once, rather hesitantly, she extended her arms and let the warm rainwater drop onto her skin. After that she looked around and saw that she was still alone. She grinned, a big Cheshire Cat grin, and spun around several times again. When she’d completed those turns she smiled down at the concrete.
There was a large puddle at her feet, just a few inches from her black combat boots. Her reflection smiled back up at her, her soft face framed by a blue bob of hair, shiny sunglasses perched atop her head.
Feeling joyful and childlike, she stepped into the puddle, and immediately was drawn into it.
Now she was almost frightened. She tried to scramble back before she could sink further, but the puddle had a tight hold on her, and she was drawn down through the concrete. Down, down, down, down, into a drop that seemed to be never-ending. Colors swirled around her like dancing ribbons, until finally after what seemed like a century her feet landed on something firm.
Hartley peered down over the edge of her spot on top of the lockers.
Any time now.
The school bell rang out and kids flooded the hall. Hartley set her sights on two. A short brown-haired boy, Jacob, and a tall blond one, Ethan, both wearing football team hats.
Just a bit closer.
The two passed under her and stopped at their lockers, right below her perch.
Hartley leapt off the lockers in a somersault, grabbing their horrendous hats of their heads and landing square on her feet behind them.
“I’ve told you boys not to wear such offensive attire in my presence!” She grinned and plopped both hats on her head at odd angles. Her wild black curly hair dyed multiple colors stuck out of every crevice it could find.
“Hattie!” Jacob cried her nickname, seemingly in anguish, though his eyes twinkled with laughter, “Give us our caps back!”
He made a grab for Hartley’s head and she danced away, ducking under Ethan’s outstretched fingers.
“Nope! Maybe I’ll just toss them in the trash!”
“You’d be mad to do that!” Ethan this time, an aggravated tone in his voice.
“As a hatter.” She grinned again, as she danced around Ethan’s hand once more into the flow of traffic. “Speaking of hats, you may or may not see these again. Good bye!”
Hartley melted into the rushing mass of kids going to their respective classes, stopping only once at her locker to store her prizes and grab her sketchbook for painting class. She had discovered a picture last night and wanted to copy it into the picture she had started last week for their study on acrylics.
She hummed mindlessly as she slid down the familiar banister to the lower level. Jumping off in a flawless turn, sending her multicolored skirt twirling against her striped leggings.
Silly silly girl, why don’t you dress like normal?
Hattie could pick out the common whispers condemning her odd fashion choices from the dense group around her. She just hummed louder.
The bell rang again and she slipped into her class. Her painting rested on the easel in the very back corner of the room. “Closest to the paint,” she always thought.
On the canvas was a painting of an elaborate pond, only the outside of the pond was filled in, the pond itself was her masterpiece.
Hattie tugged the printed photo out of the front of the duct taped sketchbook she had set on the table next to her. Bright orange goldfish swam around in a dream-like landscape. Each one looked almost like they were glowing. She smiled. She was planning on painting these glowing otherworldly fish into the pond.
Picking up her paintbrush she dipped the tip into some orange paint. Turning back to her painting she took a step back, blue-green eyes wide. The pond was already painted!
Setting down the brush, Hattie reached for the center of the pond.
“ But how..?”
When her fingers should have made contact with the surface of the paint, her hand sunk into the picture itself. Hattie felt herself being pulled into the painting. She resisted with all her might, but the pull of the other side was too strong.
Before too long she was completely inside, surrounded on all sides with something that reminded her of a kaleidoscope. A few fearful moments later, she landed on her front on something hard.