Red Malice

Part II of my Dark Fairy Tale Retelling. Introducing a couple more twists and surprises

Over the Rainbow Bridge was not as ominous as it sounds. The rotten underbelly of London’s drug network had bright nicknames for all the seedy places.

The four unlikely companions made their journey out of the dark alleyways, and towards Oz, Dorothy’s wolf-dog trailing behind them. Nearing the dimly lit bridge, Toto began to growl.

“What is it, Toto? What do you hear?” Dorothy asked her snarling wolf, reaching to her hip to clutch a dagger. Hatter tightened his grip on his cane, ready to draw the hidden sword at a moment’s notice.

Alice, her hand still around Chessie’s, looked at the Hatter, her eyes flashed with worry.
Chessie still grinned maniacally, but otherwise seemed unperturbed by the tension in the air.

A whoosh and thud was heard, followed by quick footsteps. Toto dropped to his haunches, preparing to launch at the surprise guest.

“Oh hush now you big bad wolf. I’ll blow your head off.” A feminine voice rang out, and a woman stepped into the light on the bridge. She was in black boots, black trousers, and a black linen shirt. Tucked against her were half a dozen visible knives. But what stood out was the crimson cape and hood. She was twirling a small pistol in her right hand.

Dorothy hissed, and stood protectively in front of Toto. “Red Ace, what are you doing here?”
Chessie clapped his hands and spun Alice behind him.
“Oh! Tiger Lily, you made it!” He called and ran towards her. She flinched, and dropped down, swinging her legs out and tripping Chessie.
He fell to the ground, rolling and tumbling, his laughter swallowed by the dark night.
“Tiger Lily?” Hatter asked, his eyebrow raised and he exchanged a look with Dorothy.
“The Red Assassin. I thought she was Underland’s” Dorothy said, palling as she took in Hatter’s expression. “Judging by your look of bewilderment, she’s not with you?”

A laugh rang out in the cool night, and sent goosebumps down spines.
“With Underland?? Why on earth would I submit myself to Underlands anarchy? It’s a mess over there, fighting for control of the place. I figured you’d be fighting too, Hatter” He nodded but a sly smile crossed his lip.
“Who said I’m not waiting for the right time?”

“Oh, waiting for the competition to kill each other. Well you’d better act soon. Or other stronger players might make their moves.” Dorothy commented, and the Hatter straightened slightly.

“So, what does the CardPack want tonight?” Hatter asked the Red Ace of the deck, the lead assassin.

“I want my black Ace.” She pointed at Alice, and three sets of eyes bulged.

“She’s no assassin!” Dorothy cried.”a bumbling little girl. We were going to blame her for Peter’s Murder. Captain James Darling thinks it was one of Oz’s.” Toto growled at the mention of the captain’s name.

“Oh Darling? That old Codfish has you on a hook, Dorothy. Baiting you to give him something.” Red smiled and sheathed her Pistol, cracking her knuckles.
“But anyways, I’m here to take Alice back to the Rabbit Hole, safely in the hands of the Cardpack.” She turned and held her hand out to Alice.

“You were going to blame her for Peter’s murder?” Hatter asked Dorothy through clenched teeth. His hand tightened on his cane.

Peter, Peter Pumpkin eater” sang Alice
“Kissed Alice and tried to beat her.
He yelled and screamed while she cried,
He turned his back, thought she was tied.
He gasped and gurgled as he choked
When little Alice slit his throat.”

She continued to hum and dance, while Chessie burst into uncontrollable laughter.

“Alice did kill Peter! Oh, that’s bloody brilliant. Not only did you take out the Queen of Hearts and blamed the King! You slaughtered the Prince of Neverland! You are malicious and mad, Alice. Malice!!” He fell back laughing, his hood falling back and revealing his sandy-brown short hair and his deep violet eyes.

Hatter, Dorothy and Red stood in stupefied silence as Alice, danced to her haunted tune, without a care that she was the reason the city was at war.

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