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Wonderland

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Detective Rettah’s face seemed completely vacant. Despite his wide stance and the hands on his hips, there was no dominant emotion or air about him. This might have been due to the fresh corpse strewn out peculiarly on the bed, or the expansive mess if emotions and calculations whirring beneath the calm surface that his colleagues couldn’t see.
The detective tried to push these thoughts away to observe the careful, meticulous crime scene. To most, the scene would look like nothing more than a passion-filled, spur-of-the moment murder, but Rettah had seen too many of these to actually believe that. The face of the woman he’d seen only weeks before now was blank, blue eyes hidden behind closed eyelids. As Rettah stared, he couldn’t help but be drawn back to that day that had seemed so strange, yet he soon would realize it was one of the most normal ones he’d have.


Detective Rettah held in a sigh, massaging his temples almost to the point he saw spots. As a detective, his job was always stressful. Most rookies tried to block it out with booze and women, but Rettah had enough years under his belt to know those only worked for a time (not nearly long enough) and they had to be careful with both the drinks and the women.
The drinks, if one too many, could make you do something a little too stupid and you could lose your detective license, and although it was stressful, those in the field were dedicated enough to it that they tried to placate the stress to do their job the best they could. As for the women—one bad one with a camera or video camera could completely ruin your reputation and make sure you never see your detective’s badge again. After all, no department wanted bad press when they had killers and criminals to worry about. Rettah had done well in staying out of trouble, but of course, his line of work had a knack of bringing the trouble to him. At the moment, there were several cases begging for his attention; one of the top detectives had recently retired, leaving lower ranks to split the workload.
Among the several thrown upon him, the ones that required the most attention was a newfound, lethal drug that had gone through the black market—Rettah was having a friend in the labs a few blocks over look into it. The other was a series of murders that would have seemed unrelated, if not for the unique, particular way they were presented.
By ‘presented’, the detective meant just that. It seemed almost as if the victims were posing, each in an odd position when taken into account the way they died. The other hint was the killer himself—he always left a calling card, always in the same place. All of these thoughts were circling in Rettah’s mind, so he didn’t wonder much at the woman he was supposed to be meeting or why she’d called him. At first he was curious as to how she’d gained his number, but wiped it from his mind; there were plenty of people that had his card, and someone could have given it to her. He took a sip of scalding tea and called in greeting at the knock on his door.






One of the rookies opened the door for her, and gained a nod from both parties before closing it behind her. Rettah rose and shook the woman’s delicate hand, motioning to the chair opposite his desk before they both sat. Everything about the woman was small, Rettah noticed. She had long, thin blonde hair neatly tucked behind her ear, sparkling blue eyes, a small nose, and heart shaped mouth. She was maybe a few inches above five feet tall, with a faded blue dress slightly hanging off of her tiny frame and he long-tapered fingers fiddled with the fabric on her lap. The young woman, maybe twenty eight, seemed edgy, glancing around and jumping at the slightest noise, so Rettah smiled at her as reassuringly as possible.

“Ms. Timble?”

“Alice.” Her blue eyes finally settled on him, and he smiled.

“Alright, Alice. You said you had some information for me?” She seemed to lose focus for a moment, her eyes turning vacant. Rettah frowned and leaned forward worriedly.

“Ms. Ti—Alice?” With a jump, she snapped back to him, though as her blue eyes met his, he found eerily that she didn’t seem completely there.

“They would kill me if they knew what I was doing,” she whispered. Rettah leaned closer.

“Who?” The woman’s eyes morphed desperately and she shot forward, slamming her hands on the desk and causing Rettah to fall back into his chair.

“The cat! She’ll have him get me—“

“Cat?” Rettah asked skeptically, “Ms. Timble, have you taken any drugs or alcohol recently?”

“Cheshire! Cheshire, Cheshire, Cheshire—he’s already on his way! Please! And the rabbit—with the watch—don’t let him--!” Rettah allowed himself a sigh and pushed a button on his office’s phone. Alice was still kicking and babbling incoherently as they dragged her from his office. Rettah hadn’t forgotten what she said even though that was the last time he saw her. Until now, that is.


Regret attempted to shove through his barriers, but he pushed back. These feelings and thoughts were useless at the moment; what was directly in front of him, however, was of utter importance. Alice Timble’s head was turned to the side, her eyes closed and peaceful.
It seemed the killer hadn’t touched her face at all, and if not for the blood and crude carving on her neck, just below her ear, she could have been sleeping. The white bed sheets were drenched in scarlet red blood, turning into splattered dots furthest from the body. The sheets were bunched up around her and the forensic team was already brushing for finger prints, but Rettah knew they wouldn’t find any; no matter how intricate the scene, the killer was even more meticulous at covering up his tracks, and they had yet to find any evidence pointing to who or even where he was.
Something bumped into his shoulder and Rettah didn’t spare a glance to who he knew would be beside him.





“They’re already working on the scene, I’ll cover the presses. You go home.” Rettah held in a sigh and nodded, knowing there was no point in arguing with his boss, and took one last look at that carving before pivoting and stalking out; carved into the delicate juncture of Alice Timble’s neck were three deep gashes, two smaller ones beside each other and a long one carved crookedly, into a bloody, crude grin, as if the entire thing had been a joke and the killer was watching them with that smile, thinking that they would never catch him.

Rettah went back to the office, partly because he had forgotten his keys and mostly because he wasn’t quite ready to go home yet. When he arrived, the entire place was full of scurrying detectives and interns, and as Rettah made towards his office, he was intercepted by his buddy that worked at the labs a few blocks down. Bernard (or B-Rabbit, as his friends had called him in his earlier youth days—he’d been in a gang and fallen in with some wrong people when he was brought up in the home of a detective, and soon followed his lead), immediately handed him a manila envelope, knowing Rettah would want him to get right to it.
“We found out what it is,” the taller, dark male explained as Rettah opened the envelope and pulled out a few dozen sheets of paper to examine, “The forensic team was fast in letting us know—we won’t be sure until they can examine the body, but someone suggested that it seemed your girl wasn’t completely ‘there’. I mean, there were no defense wounds, and from what they can tell, nothing noteworthy happened that day that would lead anyone to believe that she was in danger. So I thought maybe she’d been on something, and guess what a few guys found in her dresser drawer?” Bernard pulled a plastic baggie out of the envelope and held it up, showing one small, blue pill with a tiny heart printed into it.
“Turns out, after examining it, it has the same abilities as that drug we’ve been looking for that they’ve been selling down in the black market,” Bernard urged on as they continued the walk to Rettah’s office, counting the side-effects off with his fingers, “Extreme hallucinations, vomiting, loss of self-control—that one’s really weird, we’ve never seen anything like it before—suicidal thoughts and tendencies… I mean, the list goes on with what this little thing can do.”
“So you think she was on one of these, and that’s why she didn’t see her attacker coming?” Rettah concluded, stopping at the door to his office and pulling out his key—he never left it open or unlocked. There were very few people he trusted in his life, and even fewer that were in the same line of work as him. Bernard shrugged.
“I mean, it might not be. But remember the day you met her, when she was babbling all that weird nonsense? And now she turns up dead by this killer, and has this pill stashed in her drawers? I’m just saying, it’s a stretch for a coincidence.” Rettah clapped his friend and colleague on the back.
“We should know by now, there’s rarely time to believe in coincidences in this sort of thing.” Bernard nodded and they exchanged goodbyes before he left, promising to make copies of the reports for Rettah tomorrow.




The detective unlocked his door, his mind whirring as he pushed it open and stepped in. Immediately he froze. Something was off. The temperature seemed to drop, and a line of cold sweat dribbled down the back of his neck and under his shirt. It was dark. The lights were off. Even though he always locked the door, Rettah at least had the lamp on at all times, because he knew he’d be returning sooner rather than later. Taking a deep breath, he calculated.
Obviously, they hadn’t been watching him too long; otherwise they would have known this about him and left it on. Unless they thought the dark was to their advantage. But the light switch was directly beside the door, so he doubted that. The one prominent question; how had the others not noticed someone entering the room besides him, while he was gone, no less? Still it was quiet, and he had yet to be attacked, so Rettah took a deep breath, dropping his keys and grabbing the grip of his gun with one hand and flicking the lights on with the other.
At first, everything seemed fine. Nothing was out of place, it seemed. But another glance over and Rettah’s blood froze. In the back corner to his left, opposite him, stood someone stone still. How had I not noticed him before? Rettah practically screamed, though he kept his face emotionless and hand on the grip of his gun. Dark brown eyes met him, which contrasted greatly with the dyed white hair on the man who had to be at least five years older than him. Besides the hair, there was nothing notable on him; average height and build, symmetrical features though not overly handsome, and slightly buck teeth that showed when he opened his mouth.
“I am not here to kill you, sir, so you can take your hand off your gun.” Rettah didn’t move, and he kept his head cool enough to ask a single question.
“Who are you?” The man took a leisurely step forward and Rettah’s hand tightened on the gun, causing the other man to slightly jump before shaking his head.
“I have many nicknames, but I assure you, they’re not important. I am not the killer you seek.”
“And you know who that is?” Rettah pressed, passing for now the fact that the man hadn’t given a name or a nickname. The man nodded slowly and Rettah fought the urge to draw his gun; if this man was just crazy or maybe on a pill as Alice had been, it would be extremely bad press to kill him. Also, if the man really did know the killer, he certainly wasn’t going to pass up the chance to learn more.
“I know him. Yes, him. He gave me the permission to allow you that information.” Rettah took a step forward, and the man took a step back.
“So you work for him.” It wasn’t a question, and they both knew it. This time, the man didn’t respond. It was silent for a moment, and Rettah debated calling for help.
“Is this real?” The sudden question caught Rettah off guard, and he frowned. Instead of waiting for him to respond, the man went on.
“How did you enjoy your tea today?” Rettah’s eyes widened, a picture of that tiny blue pill flashing in his mind. Quickly his eyes narrowed, and the man tilted his head.
“He said you probably wouldn’t fall for mind games.” A shiver ran down the detective’s back, the hairs on his neck standing on end.



“Who is he? How does he know me?” The man shrugged taking a small step back, and Rettah took another step forward, fingers twitching on his gun. Part of his mind wondered why he hadn’t drawn it yet.
“You’ve been watching his work,” he answered, “So naturally, he’s interested in who you are.” A moment of silence passed. “You were wrong in thinking he hasn’t been watching you. But he told me to tell you that he promises not to kill you… Just so long as you continue to see his work.” Another chill ran down Rettah’s back and ice clenched in his stomach. He could feel each painful heartbeat burst in his chest. Memories of the pictures of what the killer had done to his victims flashed in his mind, and Rettah felt sick.
“He also wanted me to tell you,” the man continued, taking another step back, though Rettah was too wrapped up in his own emotion to notice, “That he’s not the only one. I can tell you that myself. He wants you to know that there’re others above him. There’s a possibility they might not be so lenient.” Rettah nearly choked as he remembered how to breathe. Finally he coughed out,
“Why? Why are you telling me all this? Why does he want me to know all this?” The man paused.
“That, he didn’t tell me. When he does not want to answer something, you cannot persuade him to answer.” Rettah opened his mouth, but just then the man dug into his pocket. In a flash Rettah’s gun was out and pointed directly at the man’s chest, his finger lightly pressing against the trigger. The man jumped a bit and raised a hand as if to say “hold on”, before slowly pulling something small and gold out of his pocket. He looked at it and his eyes widened.
“Oh… it seems I’m late.” The man looked up at Rettah and met his eyes, making the detective have to suppress a shiver.
“Make sure you are not late next time… Detective Rettah.” The small golden circle on the chain slowly turned, and a clock face came into view. As it turned more towards Rettah, though, vibrant red blood splatters covered the rest half of the pocket-watch. His eyes widened and he pulled the trigger, but the man was already bursting out of the window just behind Rettah’s desk with a shatter. The detective swore loudly and ran towards it, shoving his head out and cursing his stupidity. He gazed at the busy streets, eying for that white hair, but couldn’t see any of it. Swearing again, he twisted and shot out of his office, bowling past all of the others asking what had happened and if he was alright. A floor down later, Rettah burst through the front doors of the detective’s headquarters and searched. His eyes ran over the stream of passersby, craning his neck to see over people’s heads, looking for that one tuft of white hair.
After almost a few hours of searching, Rettah finally gave up, going back into the office. He immediately told his boss the entire story, having them double security, and requested bars put over the window in his office, which was automatically approved. After some convincing, Rettah finally headed home. By now it was evening and starting to get dark. Rettah pulled into his garage and closed the garage door, letting the back door close quietly behind him.





The entire house was dark other than a few random lights here and there that he liked to leave on. His lab, Trident, greeted him, and Rettah fed him before making himself something to eat. He had no wife or kids, and sometimes Rettah despised it, but days like these made him glad he didn’t have them; in his line of work, they would only end up getting hurt.
After eating, the detective headed upstairs, stress and weariness from the day finally crashing down over his head. He reached his room, changed quickly, and practically threw himself into bed. After a few moments, he felt Trident jump up and circle before plopping down by his feet, and Rettah gave a satisfied smile before falling hard into sleep.
Little did he know, brilliant green eyes and a large grin watched him carefully from the shadows. There came a breathy chuckle, which went unnoticed by both sleeping dog and human. Not yet… Not yet… After all… There were still quite a few more art exhibits to create. The grin and eyes faded slowly back into the shadows happily, and Rettah shifted a bit in his sleep, a frown working itself onto his features, not possibly knowing that it wasn’t what was in his dreams he needed to fear the most… but what reality had in store for him that was truly terrifying.



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This article has 2 comments. Post your own!

Ruby-Paige-Rose said...
Sept. 3, 2012 at 7:12 pm:
this was really well thought out. It deffinantly deserves to be in the magazine.
 
MadelynHopeThis teenager is a 'regular' and has contributed a lot of work, comments and/or forum posts, and has received many votes and high ratings over a long period of time. replied...
Sept. 3, 2012 at 9:52 pm :
Thanks!!! :)
 
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