To those who voted last week, thank you! I hope you enjoy the result. Tea for Two won!
“Wonderland is all around us, but you must have the eyes to see it.”
Welcome to Okinala, the island where worlds meet. A crazy Wonderland where the Madness Solver must work to keep the peace between worlds.
Madnes Hatter has a rare gift, a special “vision” that allows him to see into the other world as it overlaps his island home. In last week’s story, this gift was awakened by Cheshire, and Madnes had his first introduction to Wonderland’s strange inhabitants, such as the ninja bananas (lol). Cheshire has named him the next Madness Solver, whose job it is to solve problems, mysteries, and act as peacekeeper. But there are other forces at work in these worlds…and so chapter 2 begins.
Chapter 2: Tea for Two
The small child carried a tray of buns still in soggy dough form over to his mother. “I got them ready, Mama! What we do next?”
“Put them in the oven,” she instructed. Her red lips held a smile as warm as the sun. “Go on. I already preheated it.”
Carefully, little Oz placed the tray inside the oven. His gray eyes lit up with delight, watching as the oven’s heat worked its magic on the dough. Soon there would be cream-filled buns ready to eat; his most favorite!
“I wanna be a great baker like you, Mama.” She chuckled, the sound filling him with warmth, her embrace filling him with love.
“I will always love you, Oz. No matter what happens.” Her eyes like shimmering stars took him in. “You’ll remember that, won’t you?” He gazed up into her fair face. “My love for you will never die….”
Eyelids fluttered open, and Oz was looking into reality once more, leaving the distant, old memory behind. He straightened his perch on the oak’s high, thick limb. He didn’t come here to daydream; he came to observe the scene playing out before him.
Cheshire had called for a meeting in the world known as Earth, here on this odd island Okinala, where both worlds met. The cat was going to announce something. Probably who the next Madness Solver would be.
A smirk broke out, ‘The job will naturally fall to me. I am the Red King’s son; no one is more worthy of the position than I am.’ Yes, this was a good day for Oz. He would soon have the power that came with being the Madness Solver, and with it he would find her…the person most dear who had vanished from his life long ago.
“Today I announce to you the person I have chosen, who will take up the position as Wonderland’s next peacekeeper, the Madness Solver,” Cheshire spoke before the assembly. Oz waited from his perch. “May I present to you: Madnes Hatter!”
Oz almost fell out of the tree. A red haired boy, same age as himself, and wearing the most ridiculous hat he’d ever seen, was brought before them; Cheshire made Madnes stand on the platform as the assembly stared and evaluated their new Madness Solver. Some cheered, some grumbled, and others were unsure what to think. The boy sweated.
Oz was dumbfounded. “He is…the next one?” he murmured. “Not me…? How,” hands clenched, “How can it not be me? Why him, of all people!” That runt. That no-good son of the Hatter family. Black feathers swirled as Oz took flight into the cloudless sky.
Standing before the throne, Oz tried desperately to keep a rein on his nerves and keep sweat drops at bay. Crow wings folded against his back, and he bowed formally. “I am sorry, Father. I have disappointed you.”
“More than disappointed,” the Red King spoke. A man built like a Viking, his rough bearded chin leaned on a fist while a cold face stared down at the boy before him. “I spoke with Cheshire. And while I am furious with his decision, and have always hated the cat, he is the Selector. He gives the power to whom he chooses, and no one else may have a say in the matter.” Hands shifted to steeple fingers in a displeased manner. “With your potential, I was hoping Cheshire would abandon the Hatter family and come to us. However…apparently, you were not worthy, Oz.”
“Not worthy…? But, Father,” he stuttered, “I’ve done nothing but train. I’ve worked my life for this! How can anyone call me unworthy?” The temper in his voice rose, but one glance at the King and it subsided. Father was angry; he was dangerous when he was angry. Oz attempted to appease his mood, “Perhaps I can change Cheshire’s mind. I will make him see that he has chosen wrong.”
“I hope so, for your sake.” Light from a window cast shadows about the gilded throne, and the red robe draped along the King’s shoulders shone like blood. “A useless son has no place in this kingdom.”
‘Mother, where are you?’ The thought tormented Oz as he stuffed down a second cream-filled bun. He would discover what had happened to her, and if she was still alive. Nothing, and no one, would get in the way of his goal. Especially this Madnes Hatter.
“Did you hear the announcement?” A girl chatted with her friend, nearby. “Prince Oz wasn’t chosen. Can you believe it?”
“I know, right? Total shock!”
“He’s handsome on the outside, but a total loser inside.”
They laughed. He furiously stuffed down two more buns.
“You did what?!” Madnes balked, but his mother just smiled down at him with that not-a-care-in-the-world expression she often wore.
“I invited your cousin over for tea. He’s out back in the garden. I already set the tea and buns out on the picnic table for you.” She reached down and pinched his nose between her fingers, “Go on, and say hi. You used to be friends when you were little. Maybe you can rekindle that friendship?” He pried her fingers off.
She gave a carefree shrug. “You’re both the same age, and live nearby. So, why not? It would do you some good to have more than two friends. Consider this a lesson in growing up to adulthood!”
“…Huh?” His head shook, “Mom, you have the weirdest ideas.”
“Hurry up! Or does this dragon hat have to gnaw on your noggin?” She held up a hat the shape of a dragon’s head, jaws open, and charged at him.
“Okay, okay!” he bolted for the backyard. “Why do moms have to be so weird?” He grumbled, and came out into the backyard’s garden; the late afternoon light cast slanted shadows about trimmed bushes littered with flowers, and a table set out for two.
Tea for two, what was Mom thinking? He nervously approached the figure, there waiting. His cousin turned slowly at his approach. Gray eyes and a face that had not smiled in years met him. “Cousin Oz,” Madnes tried to keep his voice from wobbling as he greeted the boy. Blonde, layered hair slicked back, and skin fair where it showed around a fine suit and cravat, Oz looked every inch the son of a wealthy family.
As children they were friends, despite being two very different people with very different likes and dislikes. But a change overcame Oz, a vine of ice creeping over his inner being and chocking out the person he used to be, and that friendship came to a bitter end. Whatever had caused the change was still a painful mystery for him. Madnes could feel the hate pouring out of Oz, even now. “It’s been a long time,” he awkwardly searched for something to say.
One fine eyebrow rose, the only greeting Madnes was going to get from him. Madnes hesitantly sat in the opposite floral wicker chair. Oz took a sip from one of two teacups, fine china with hand-painted yellow roses. “Quite,” he said finally. “And how has life been treating you, Madnes?” He bit off half of a cream-filled bun, white cream slowly dripping out. “Anything interesting, lately?”
Please add your VOTE: What should Oz do next?
1) Oz should attack Madnes now. If he kills Madnes, he can steal the Madness Solver’s power from him.
2) Oz should wait and be more crafty; pretend to befriend Madnes, while plotting behind his back. If he can convince Cheshire that Madnes is unworthy of the power, Cheshire will select Oz instead, and Oz will gain the Madness Solver’s power.
A big thank you to those who voted last week! It was so much fun. 🙂 If you enjoyed this story, please share with friends; maybe they would like to vote too? I would also love to hear your thoughts in the comments below.
Voting ends Friday night, New York time. Come back to Okinala next Wednesday for the next chapter in Madnes Solver!
© copyright 2015 -All rights reserved by E. Rawls
This was 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: “Bun.” Check out the link if you are curious and would like to join in the challenge! Don’t worry, she won’t bite. She’s awesome!