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Steampunk London: Year 1391-New Years Eve
Fireworks drop from air ships as they plow through the smog overhead. But Alyce pays no attention to them.
While she climbs a rickety spiral staircase made entirely out of metal, her mother peers overhead from her knitting.
"Going to the workshop?"
Alyce doesn't reply, but instead speeds her pace. Her heart beats to the rhythm of her knee high boots, ignoring the loosening buckles clanging against the railway. Every moment she sees her mother is a bitter reminder of how the Gift of Visiting was not passed onto her.
It didn't matter. Alyce had her own ways of visiting Wonderland.
Once she spots a gold ornate frame, Alyce stops and rips off the reflective cloth. If one were not paying attention close enough, all they would see is a mirror. But Alyce is clever. More than clever actually. She is a prodigy, an inventor and artist from birth.
But being clever can be dangerous.
Underneath the illusion of a mirror, is a complex series of cogs and gears. Even the maintenance men from Buckingham Palace would be intimidated by this, but Alyce isn't. After all, she created it.
To be exact, she created it to be the replica of Wonderland. Everything she constructed was to imitate the worn out stories of the mysterious land that never failed to ellude her. Most of her family had been able to visit Wonderland by the age of thirteen.
Alyce is seventeen.
The scent of rust and metal is comforting, she thinks as she prods a pattern onto the wires and gears with a long fire poker. Soon, they start moving and spinning.
The doorway to Wonderland is opened.
Stepping inside, numerous sketches of twisted smiles and chess boards and exotic paradises flutter from their tacks. The room is dimly lit by flickering ivory candles, casting omnious and distorted shadows onto the concrete walls. Alyce pays no attention to them or to the life size steel replicas of the Cheshire Cat, the Queen of Hearts, or even the smoking caterpillar, despite their detailed craftmanship.
Instead she walks straight down the narrow hallway, until she meets the Mad Hatter.
Alyce is in love with the Mad Hatter, although she denies it. But any sane human could see the way she affectionately strokes his metal face, or that loving look she gives him while oiling his rusty joints.
Alyce is like the Mad Hatter. Simply, undeniably, utterly mad.
In Wonderland, mad would be considered good. But this isn't Wonderland, no matter how hard she tries to make it be.
Alyce reaches into her leather pockets on her belt and pulls out long strands of copper that match the Hatter's artificial hair. She takes a small prong, holds it over a candle until it glows hot, and begins meticulously shaping the copper into a frizz while the wind beats on the glass panes.
The one thing Alyce loves the most about the Hatter, is his copper hair. Frizzy and wild, it is the most odd and eye-catching aspect of him. All her pocket money has been spent on the brightest and most durable copper. She loves Hatter the most, and has worked hard to make him as beautiful and odd as possible.
Alyce turns the Hatter around, opens the panel in the back of his coat and presses a button from the assortment of levers and blinking lights. The Hatter hums a little, then whirs to life.
The Hatter can say three things.
It doesn't prevent Alyce from having long talks with the Hatter at night. The Hatter is her best companion,along with the rest of her Wonderland creatures. She spends hours in the workshop, whispering to them while polishing their gleaming glass eyes and tinkering with their cogs and gears. No one ever gets to see this twisted, dark side of her. In broad daylight, she is nothing but a whisper of a girl with light hair and closed lips.
"Hatter, do you know what today is?"
Alyce smiles at Hatter, even though he is unable to respond.
"Today is New Year's Eve."
Alyce moves the candle a bit closer to the Hatter and admires his pale, painted face.
"Everyone's out celebrating, even that horrid Lizzie that enjoys pulling on my hair."
Alyce adjusts the Hatter's velvet hat. She particularly enjoys complaining to the Hatter, constantly demeaning the people around her, and glorifying the images of the oh-so oppressed robots that act as slaves.
"Did you hear me Hatter? Today is New Year's Eve. We should celebrate too."
A bit forlornly, she kicks at a crumpled sketch of the March Hare. It rolls out of her way, completely obscured in darkness.
Startled, Alyce whips around.
"Today, is the day of the revolution."
Horrified, Alyce lifts up the candle again, and shrieks.
The Hatter is twitching with disjointed motions, his face contorting and shuddering. He picks up still hot prong, and steps towards Alyce with jerky, unnatural movements. Cold sweat prickles the back of her neck as she stands rooted to the spot.
Alyce yelps. The prong struck her left calf, burning an imprint into her skin.
"Hatter. Hatter stop!"
The Hatter doesn't stop at the sound of his creator. Instead he lunges for her, his heavy arms closed around her left leg and pounds his fist until metal meets bone. Her leg is nearly ripped off at the seams like a neglected rag doll.
She starts to cry and scream at the same time, in hopes of someone hearing her over the loud boom of fireworks. It's useless though. Everyone is out dancing, drinking, and ignoring her existence.
Alyce doesn't have to be genius to know that her left leg is a goner. White hot pain flashes as sparks fly from the Hatter's eyes, burning holes into her stockings.
The other Wonderland creatures are coming towards her now, but she picks up her last bit of courage and grabs the Cheshire Cat.
Although his steel claws dig into her skin, she flings him against the Hatter.
The Hatter screams, and there is a loud clanging noise. Alyce runs. The pain in her leg has reduced to a numb. She vaguely recalls a class that discussed nerve damage and prosthetic limbs. Perhaps she should've paid attention more often, rather than drawing morbid pictures of unfortunate events that happen to her annoying classmates in her imagination.
Miraculously, Alyce manages to reach the Looking Glass before the others do. Stifling a groan, she closes the doorway once more, but doesn't bother hiding it.
There really is no point now.
While stumbling down the stairs, Alyce sees her mother. Her mother's expression is both terrified and shocked while she sputters about the mangled leg Alyce is dragging along. But Alyce doesn't answer any questions. She is safe for now, her shaky breaths are being muffled against the calico of her mother's dress.
But Alyce knows that she isn't going to be alright.
Outside, she can hear cries of shock and pain interrupting the festivities. Explosions and sounds of shattering glass add to the chorus of chaos.
The rebellion has begun.