Thank you for voting last week, and for joining me on this adventure in Okinala! Every comment you leave is special to me, and I really enjoy the feedback you give.
I hope you like chapter 3!
“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, we met the dark character Oz and learned a little of his past. His mother, the dearest person in the world to him, went missing many years ago when Oz was still a child; her loss is a scar on his soul. His goal ever since has been to find out what happened to her. But to do this, he needs the Madness Solver power with all of its wisdom to solve the deep and dangerous mystery. But Cheshire gave this power to Madnes instead of him, and now he confronts the Hatter boy—his once childhood friend—in an attempt to take the power from him…and so chapter 3 begins.
Chapter 3: To Brawl, or Not To Brawl?
“Anything interesting? Um…well…” Madnes fidgeted under Oz’s question. Was he allowed to tell people about Wonderland? Cheshire hadn’t said anything. But maybe the better question was: would people believe him? “Just…busy with responsibilities. School and all that drama.” He watched another cream-filled bun vanish in Oz’s mouth. “Wow, you eat a lot of those. Is that stress eating?”
A glare shot from Oz, “I do not stress eat!”
“…Okay.” Madnes shrugged. “How about you: Anything exciting? Travels?”
The teacup rattled in Oz’s hand. How dare lowly Madnes inquire into his personal life. He could see the smug look behind those blank eyes pretending to be ignorant. It was infuriating. ‘No; I must control my emotions. I will not let such a peasant get the better of me!’ He would be smart about this. He would take his time and convince Cheshire to transfer the power over to him. He…how long would he have to wait? What if Cheshire never considered him worthy of the power, and all that time spent waiting was lost for nothing? Could he…chance that? Could he risk wasting time before finding where Mother was—if she was still alive?
“Must be nice having a wealthy family.” Madnes said awkwardly, looking for some conversation. “Lavish vacations, the best education…haha, do they spoil you much?”
The next bun Oz held fell from his hand.
Madnes laughed meaning it as a light joke, then remembered. “Oh, I was going to ask: how’s your mom doing? I remember your dad saying something about her having to leave the island for health reasons, years ago. What was that about?”
‘How dare he mention her.’ Something snapped inside Oz. Madnes was still putting on a cheerful look when a large claw swiped across his face. Madnes sat stunned, top hat falling off from the force. Oz’s hand was the shape of a large crow’s claws, five long finger-talons; a pair of black wings stretched out from his back, and black feathers made a crown circling from behind ears.
This was Oz? Pain told Madnes slash marks had scarred his face, before Oz leaped over the table, claw ready to slash open his chest. Even as Madnes saw it coming he couldn’t force himself to move. No, nothing made sense. The friend he had once known so well, had he really not known anything about him at all?
Claws reached, he could see them tearing him open…and then his legs moved. Just before claws touched, a power inside him activated; his body moved without him allowing and it sidestepped away from Oz’s attack. Oz landed on the chair, then turned and clawed the air just as Madnes’ head ducked aside.
Inside, Oz screamed at himself for losing control. But hate had won. He would kill Madnes and steal the Madness Solver power from him by force. It was too late to change strategies now.
“W-what are you?” Madnes said, ducking and dodging attacks. “You’re from Wonderland? Why didn’t you ever tell me!”
“I’ve been wanting to do this.” Oz sneered. “I deserve the power. Not a loopy wretch, like you, who can’t use it properly.”
Claws caught his shoulder and Madnes bit off a shout. Something made him fall flat to the ground and both his legs kick out into Oz’s stomach, sending him staggering back into the table.
Oz ground his teeth. The Solver power was fighting back, it wouldn’t allow its master to die so easily. ‘But he’s weak and inexperienced. Now is the best time; I have to use this chance!’ Oz lunged in a dive, wings rushing forward, and both hand-claws stretched out before him; Madnes was still getting up off the ground.
There wasn’t time; Madnes’ body rolled aside from one claw, but the other grazed deep through his arm. “Ah—!” Blocking the pain from his mind—trying to—he struggled back up on his feet. “Why, Oz? Is this about the Madness Solver power?”
“I’m taking it from you, Madnes. And no amount of pretty words is going to stop me.”
Clutching at his bleeding arm, Madnes saw a deep and dark hatred pouring from Oz. Why was it only now that he could see it? So much killing desire directed toward him, how did he not notice before? “Why do you hate me? Oz, what did I ever do to you!” Anger inside him made his arm lash out, blocking another of Oz’s swipes while his knee came up into his stomach. Oz fell over, but not before pulling Madnes’ feet out from under him to fall with him. Oz strained to reach vise-like claws around Madnes neck. Madnes struggled to avoid the death grip.
“You’re in the way.” The crow-like boy said coldly. “No one comes between me and my goal. Your death is a necessity, Madnes.” Claws finally looped around his neck.
He tried in vain to find some glimmer of light, some speck of empathy—the person he used to be—but the soul beyond Oz’s eyes had long since frozen over. “Don’t—” he could barely speak against powerful clawed hands closing off his throat and breath. Nothing he could say would change his mind; the person he knew was gone. ‘I abandoned him to become like this, when I should have been there by his side. It’s my fault. I deserve this…’
Everything grew hazy, like a morning fog slowly drowning out the world. He couldn’t breathe; couldn’t swallow; couldn’t think.
You have to fight!
Fight? At first he thought Oz spoke, but the face above him was set and grim. Fight…if he didn’t fight back, there was no hope for Oz, or for Cheshire who had chosen him to protect Okinala and Wonderland. He couldn’t afford to die yet…
Madnes balled up his fist and aimed for Oz’s exposed neck; the punch rang with a loud thud, knocking the air out of Oz and sending him choking. Claws released him to hold a painful throat, and Madnes’ body mimicked the same punch-kick moves Oz had used on him, fists instead of claws. A powerful kick to the stomach sent Oz down into the garden’s fence post. Both then paused, choking and coughing.
‘He’s using my own moves against me. The power of Madness Solver; intelligence, fast learning, and inhuman strength.’ Oz tried to gather himself and prepare for a better attack plan, when the door to the backyard suddenly swung open.
Both he and Madnes looked in alarm. It wasn’t who either expected.
“Long time no see, Madness. Oz.” The gruff voice spoke around a stubble jaw. Hands in the pockets of a duster coat lined with knives and straps. Two pistols sat at either hip. Boots thudded the ground with each step. “Am I interrupting somethin’?”
Who is this new arrival?
*Hint: he was in another short story I wrote. 😉
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Thank you for reading!
© copyright 2015 -All rights reserved by E. Rawls
Voting ends Saturday afternoon, New York time. Come back to Okinala next Wednesday for the next chapter in Madnes Solver!
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: “Loop.” 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!