Chapter 13: Stalking Madnes
Read previous chapters here. Enjoy!
“Wonderland is all around us, but you must have the eyes to see it.” Welcome to Okinala, the island where worlds meet. A crazy town 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, Wonderland, as it overlaps his island home. This power was awakened by Cheshire, and he named him the world’s next Madness Solver–whose job it is to solve mysteries, make people behave, and act as mediator between worlds. But there are other forces at work…and with each use the power takes away more of Madnes’ life.
Previously, Mother Goose demanded Madnes help find her runaway son, Ugly, a naughty Wonderland duckling. While he goes about the task, Cheshire leaves for Wonderland to investigate the ancient Madness Solver power, in hopes of discovering something that could save Madnes’ life from being absorbed by the power. Meanwhile, Madnes’ friends are also busy; Alice and Harrey are both determined to find out the truth and what he is really up to…
Madnes—something was going on with the Hatter boy. Something he wasn’t even willing to tell his best friends. It made Harrey’s lips pucker in a grimace just thinking about it. “What new job? Says he has some new job, but I’ve never heard of it!”
He stared ahead at nothing but his swirling, puzzled thoughts, and didn’t watch where he was going, when he bumped into something that squeaked.
The short blonde stepped back from colliding with his chest, rubbing an achy nose. “Harrey, pay more attention when you’re walking! Hmph, your head is always in the clouds.”
“Whoops, sorry Alice. Ehehe.”
Her hand grabbed his arm, startling him, and she pulled him off the side of the street and behind a garbage bin. “Wha-wha-?” he stuttered. She released him and he tumbled to the ground. “Whoa, Alice. Look, I know I’m attractive n’ all, but you and me just wouldn’t work out—”
A hand slapped over his mouth, shutting him up. She wasn’t looking at him; instead, her focus was on the opposite side of the street, as she peered stealthily from around the bin. He tried to crane his neck sideways, pushing against the vise hand, and see what she was watching.
“Mam-mif?” he tried to say through the hand. It was Madnes she was watching, unmistakable with his red hair and tall, brown top hat. “Fwat he fwooing?”
Irritated, she finally released her hold on his mouth, and he spluttered, “What’s he doing? And more weirdly, why are you stalking him?”
“I’m not stalking!”
He gave her an obvious, knowing look. “Admit it, girly. You’ve got the hots for him.”
“No!” Her face was more than exasperated and red. “That’s not why I’m—Look, he’s not himself lately. And I want to see what he’s been up to; what this ‘new job’ is.”
“Ohhh,” he said as lights dawned in his head. “But you still got the hots for him.”
“You loud mouth—!”
He ducked her slap. “You didn’t deny it.”
“Be quiet! I’m on a mission here. Either butt out or keep up; I don’t have time for this.”
Madnes was on the move, and she sprinted away from the concealment of the bin. Sprinting a distance before ducking behind the shadow of a street bench. Harrey more clumsily followed after, bumping into things and tripping his own feet. She rolled her eyes. Finally scooting up close beside her, he peeked around the arm rest for a better look at their quarry.
Madnes waved away a puff of steam from a passing steam car as he made his way through to the edge of town, toward where the Shoe—or Mother Goose’s home—was supposed to be. He felt unnerved for some reason, as if pairs of eyes were watching his back. He quickly turned, scanning both sides of the street: nothing but a few pedestrians minding their own business. “Hmm…” he breathed and rubbed the goosebumps from his arms.
Alice’s fist came down over Harrey’s head.
“You almost gave us away!”
He rubbed at a rising noggin lump. “Okay, okay! I’ll follow your lead.” He pleaded for mercy. “But I gotta admit,” he peeked again out at Madnes’ fading back, “He sure is up to something….”
How do you go about finding a lost duckling? Check the nearest pool, or waterway? Fountains? Well, he would start at the Shoe house; it seemed more logical a place to begin, at the missing person’s dwelling.
The word rasped in his ear. Jitters crawled up his spine and he turned sharply, expecting some horrid Wonderland monster. Instead, what hovered before him like a butterfly, was a thing he could only describe as a rocking-horse with dragonfly wings.
“Beware…” it rasped again. “Okinala sinks further in danger. The Red King wills to take all for himself. Beware the portals!” The insect wheezed, like a prophet in trance. “Seven crystals—you must destroy them all! Aaall!” Its head shook and whinnied, before wings buzzed and it rocked up and away into the sky.
Madnes stood there.
“Okay. Yep. Wonderland is weird. I should be used to that by now.” He took a breath. “Moving on!”
Harrey and Alice watched as he stared at the air, and talked to nothing. “Is he okay in the head?” Harrey wondered allowed.
As the bustle, buildings and noise dispersed, he had reached the edge of town, where houses and odd, lopsided structures were further spaced apart among fisheries, rice patties, and farmed patches of field and trees. No Ugly in sight—he looked, eyes carefully scanning every bit of water.
There it was: a large silhouette in the shape of a shoe. Why a goose family would want to live in a shoe, he had no idea; Wonderlanders were all a bit strange. He crossed the grass field leading up to it, tall stalks clawing at his pant legs. It looked like your classic weathered, brown leather shoe, complete with undone laces, only magnified to giant house-size, and several windows stuck out. “Living inside a shoe…yeah, not something on my bucket list.”
He knocked on a leathery thing like a door, but, waiting, no one answered. He pressed his face against the window glass: no one was home. Hmm, what to do now?
‘Hey, fairy-power-thing in my head. Could you give me a hint? Don’t use up my life or anything, though! Just a little hint? You’re super smart, aren’t you?’
No answer came, his mind silent as a still pond except for his own thoughts. He shrugged, it had been worth a shot. “Okay. So I gotta figure this out on my own.” He stepped back and forced the wheels of his brain to turn. “If I were a duckling, with a bossy, prissy mother like that, where would I run? Far away…never be found…” He thought, and thought.
“Oh no.” An idea suddenly hit him. “It better not be there…surely not. No, he wouldn’t; right?”
“What’s he doing?” Harrey looked out from one side of a tree trunk, while Alice peeked out from the other. In his vision he saw a ratty, abandoned shack out in the middle of a field, and Madnes wandering around it. “Is he planning to break in? Has he finally hit his wits end and turned to the dark side, and now he goes around vandalizing abandoned shacks? Oh, brother o’ mine! What has befallen thee that your heart has now grown tainted with sin’s blackness!”
“Yow! Alwice, you mwade me bwite my twongue~”
Madnes jumped, and began looking their way. She quick yanked him down to the ground. “Rats, he heard that.”
“Who’s there?” Madnes asked tentatively. Footsteps approached. She shoved Harrey’s face down into the dirt to silence him, and pressed herself as close to the ground as her body would allow, hoping the grass would be enough to obscure them.
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© copyright 2015 E. Rawls and Rawls E. Fantasy, All Rights Reserved
This is my entry for this week’s #BlogBattle challenge by the wonderful author Rachael Ritchey, where the challenge is to write a short story based on that week’s chosen word. This week’s word was: “Prophet.” Check out the link, read other great stories there, and VOTE for your 2 favorite to win!
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