My eyes are special. Eyes that can see the other world as it overlaps ours. Did I want this gift? No. Am I glad I have it? No. If anything, it’s become another burden in my already crazy life. But I should begin from the beginning, right? That way you can understand what’s going on, and why my life is so crazy…
Chapter 1: Madnes Hatter
Madnes pedaled his bike along the curved walk overlooking a stretch of beach, the sea shimmering warm just beyond. His deep red hair grew tinted by the late day’s golden sun, the rush of wind brushing it back against his top hat—a pair of goggles strapped around the base. Madnes Hatter wasn’t your average teenager, though he very much wished he was. His violet gaze lingered on the sunset-streaked clouds, wishing he could melt into them and leave this island behind.
The road and its walk curved past a two-story building: a designer hat shop. The bike turned into its pebbled driveway. Flipping the break on, he hopped off. The door’s bell jingled when he stepped inside.
“You’re late today.” Mother glanced from inspecting a green feathered hat she held up.
Madnes grunted, “Hmph.”
“Did book club run late?”
“Hmph.” He took out a sandwich from the fridge and headed out to the backyard to eat in peace.
My parents run this designer hat store; all their time and energy goes into it. Our home is up on the second floor. I know what you’re thinking: is this the reason my life is crazy? Nope. This is typical for Okinala. Plenty of odd things happen in the island town, and there are plenty of odd people, like my parents. I never liked standing out; I prefer normal.
Those were the simpler days, when my parents’ obsession with hats was the only odd thing I had to be embarrassed about. I didn’t realize how good I had it…until the day came when everything changed. Just two weeks ago, when that fateful school day came to a close…
“What should I do?” he grabbed Madnes’ by the collar and shook frantically. “What should I do?!”
“Stop wrinkling my shirt would be a start.”
His friend released him only to wring his hands through his own hair, yanking at it like a rabbit gone insane. “She refused me! The love of my life refused me,” he moaned. “She’s killed me! Her words a dagger through my heart, and now I lay dying….”
Madnes huffed and looked away. “Can I go now?”
“So cruel! Have a little sympathy for your dying friend, here.”
“Harrey. You do this every time a girl refuses to go out with you. Give up, and do your homework for once.”
“Nooo~! Heartless. You’re heartless!”
He walked out the school doors into daylight, leaving Harrey March to wallow in his temporary misery. Madnes had better things to do with the rest of his day than listen to Harrey’s whining and moaning.
Long blonde hair swished back and forth, waiting several paces outside the door, and the girl turned to eye him. “Is he moping again?” she asked around a lollipop. He nodded. She fell in step with Madnes. A short girl, and wearing the female version of the school’s uniform, her eyes were large pools of sea-green, and there was always a ribbon or big bow on her head someplace.
Alice was odd in her own way, but not nearly as bothersome as Harrey; he quite liked her company. Together they walked from school, following the walk as it led past a bustling street of steamcars and houses on one side, and the sea coast on the other.
Big green eyes glanced sidelong up at him. “You have a bored look on your face.”
“I am bored.”
“Every day you look like that.”
“I’m always bored.”
“Oh?” her head tilted, blonde locks dangling. “Is this world boring for you, now?”
“Hmph.” He stared straight ahead, eyelids half lowered. Yes, he was bored. “It’s always the same. Same day, same people, same problems, same whining. It gets old.”
“Hmm, a land without wonder is a boring place, indeed. Okinala is lacking for you.”
He glanced down at her, but she skipped away. Her house was down the nearby street crossing past them. She waved the lollipop. He lazily waved back. Continuing home, he tilted his head back to watch the sky, then tilted to the side and down at the blue shifting waters and rocky sand shore.
He took a moment to pause and rest elbows up on the stone railing. “A wonderland, huh? Wouldn’t it be great to find such a place…” he gazed out across the coastline. “I doubt life would be the same annoying-boring there.” Seagulls cried overhead. He closed his eyes against a warm gust of air. “I want a wonderland….”
“If that’s what you wish, then I will awaken your power.”
His eyes popped open. Tilting the top hat back, Madnes looked around. But no human was in sight.
Things like paws suddenly smacked him in the eyes and he stumbled back, clutching them. “Owch! What the—?” He blinked back pain. Before him on the railing sat a tabby cat. Gray fur fluffy and striped, he almost mistook it for a kitten, only it was too big. But strangest of all was the cravat and suit of a Victorian gentleman it wore on the upper half of its body.
He watched with amazement and horror as it stood up on hind legs, bowed with a paw in greeting, and flashed a far too-big smile at him. “Your vision has been prepared and awoken, Madnes Hatter. It is your destiny,” said the cat. “I’ve followed you around these many years, waiting for the opportune time when you would be ready. It is a heavy responsibility, after all.”
“W-w-wha,” Madnes stuttered, unable to wrap his mind around the absurdity before him. “Talking cat? Destiny? Awakened? What crazy dream am I having….”
The cat tisked, “Tut-tut, not a dream at all. This gift is granted to the Hatter family.”
Paws suddenly grabbed and turned his head until he was looking at the park’s playground, not far behind him. It looked every bit a normal playground, like it always had, but…something wasn’t right. Where once rocks littered the border, huge red-and-purple mushrooms grew, large enough to sit on.
A strange bird with a head shaped like a hammer squawked and dove past a child; the child stared about, as if wondering what had stirred the air but couldn’t actually see anything. “There’s never been a bird like that in Okinala before!” A cluster of bananas ran in a waddling stride across the lawn. “Running…bananas?!”
“Ninja bananas, to be precise.”
Madnes rubbed at his eyes, blinking.
“It won’t go away. What you are seeing are lifeforms from Wonderland. Another world, as its portals link to your world Earth, only here, in Okinala.” The cat explained. “My name is Cheshire, by the way. And I’m here to train you to become the next Madness Solver!”
Madnes’ head slowly turned toward the cat. “The…what?”
“Madness Solver.” Cheshire shrugged as if it were obvious. “The person who works to keep the peace between worlds.” He waited, but only confusion and disgust at a talking cat reigned in Madnes’ stare.
“You see things no one else here can. Those are mushrooms back in Wonderland, but when in your world, they appear as rocks. The ninja bananas appear like regular bananas to anyone else, but you can see their true form. Only you and those of Wonderland see true forms. As with anything,” Cheshire’s paws gestured, “when two worlds collide, there are bound to be problems and conflicts. And it’s your job to solve them before anybody gets hurt.” A paw rubbed a whiskered chin. “To put it another way, you’re the Wonderland peacekeeper. That’s who the Madness Solver is.”
“Oh.” He stared at the tabby for one drawn out second…then bolted in the opposite direction, running fast as his feet could carry him. “I don’t want this!”
The further he ran, the more strange sights he came across, impossible things and creatures that made no sense, and suddenly the world was no longer boring.
It was crazy.
Yeah. I didn’t like the world boring, but I sure didn’t want it to be crazy, either. My life hasn’t been the same since, and danger now lurks around every corner. I won’t have long to live. Welcome to Okinala, the island where worlds meet…
And so begin the adventures of Madnes Hatter the Madness Solver.
VOTE: Choose which story you want to see next week on “Madnes Solver.” Comment your vote below. Majority vote wins!
1) The Abandoned.
2) Tea for Two.
3) A Very Merry Unbirthday.
Voting ends Friday, New York time. Come back to Okinala next Wednesday for Madnes Hatter’s new tale!
© copyright 2015 -All rights reserved by E. Rawls
My entry for this week’s #BlogBattle challenge by wonderful Rachael Ritchey, where the challenge is to write a short story based on that week’s chosen word. This week’s word was: “Madness.”
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