Alice's Wonderland

The last thing fifteen year old Zoe Stark wants is to be sent to stay with her strange aunt in the middle of nowhere for two weeks. Aunt Shylah lives alone, in a remote valley a hundred kilometres away from the nearest human being. But when Zoe gets to Aunt Shylah's place and looks around, she thinks maybe things won't be so terrible. After all, the forest is beautiful, and some quiet might be just the thing Zoe needs. She couldn't be further from the truth. When something terrible happens to Aunt Shylah, Zoe suddenly finds herself hunted by her aunt's killers. Forced to adapt to the wild and live alone, Zoe has many questions. Why do the creatures of her nightmares hunt her? Who is the strange boy who calls himself Will, who refuses to speak about his past? Why does Zoe keep seeing a dilapidated treehouse, the battered sign reading 'Alice's Wonderland'? Who is Alice? And most importantly, can Zoe survive the two weeks of hell? (cover by caseyma3 on Wattpad)

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2. An Unexpected Guest

Chapter 2: An Unexpected Guest

~~Dedicated to @Tegs100 for being my first commenter. Thankyou for your support! :)~~

"You're sure you're alright?" Aunt Shylah asked, wringing her hands in distress.

"I'm fine," I assured her, running my hands through my tangled hair in an effort to return it to a more respectable state.

She abandoned the pot she was scrubbing, walked to the table, and swung down into the battered chair across from me.

"Don't do that again, Zoe. I almost had a heart attack when I came in and saw you gone. What would've happened if you got lost? It's a big forest. I don't have any problems with you wandering around, but if you want to go walking again, tell me where you're going. Comprehende?"

I nodded, genuinely feeling sorry.

Aunt Shylah relaxed.

"So, what do you want to do after dinner?" She asked, attacking the pot with the scrubber again.

"Um, could I go on the computer?" I asked back. "I promised to Facebook my friends once I got here."

"Well, your friends are going to be very confused when you don't message them," Aunt Shylah smirked.

I gaped at her. "You don't-you don't have a computer?"

"Nope!" She laughed, drying the pot.

"But...but..."

"Did you really think I'd have one? I've got no TV, no cellphone, no wifi. All the contact I've got to the outside world is my home phone." She gestured to a small white phone mounted on the wall.

I frowned. "Isn't it a little dangerous to only have a landline phone? I mean, what if it breaks or something?"

"It's done me fine so far. The little beauty hasn't broken down in fifteen years."

I shrugged. It wasn't my ideal lifestyle, but who was I to judge?

"How long have you lived out here anyway?"

Aunt Shylah put down the utensils she was washing and stared out the kitchen window dreamily. "I suppose it's been almost twenty years. But, you know what? I can still remember the day I first saw the place like it was yesterday. The real estate agent had had that shifty look in her eyes that told me it was going to be a tiny shack in the middle of nowhere. And when she gave me the

address and I drove all the way out here, I'll admit I had my doubts. But... I needed a fresh start after Christopher... after Christopher passed on. And when I saw the house, I fell in love with it. This valley has been my home for so many years, I can't imagine my life back near people. I know it's hard to understand, Zoe, but I needed my space. I couldn't deal with people after my husband died. Their kind words just ripped my heart to shreds all over again. And I found my place here, amongst the trees."

She shook her head, blinking away the tears that had gathered in her large brown eyes. "I'm sorry. I shouldn't be telling you this. Just an old woman rambling on about nothing. Don't listen to me, Zoe."

My chest constricted. I knew what she meant about words ripping your heart to shreds.

"Look, let's stop talking about this. I know it's not the number one activity for people your age, but I gather you can still read? There's a box of Nancy Drew's somewhere in the lounge, I know there is. Why don't we go look for it?"

Putting her arm around me, she guided me down the hall.

I still couldn't breathe.

**

I think that it was the silence that woke me. That sounds strange, but it was true. I'd grown accustomed to Aunt Shylah's huffing breaths in the room across from mine, and the sudden lack of noise disrupted me.

I sat up in bed, quietly reaching over and flicking on the bedside lamp. The sudden light made me blink, and it cast grotesque shadows on the wall.

I slid my legs out of bed, standing up and walking to the door. For some reason, my heart was pounding, but I told myself it was stupid. Aunt Shylah had just gone downstairs to get a drink or something.

Then the floorboard creaked. My pupils dilated, and I stepped back from the closed door, blood rushing in my ears. That floorboard only creaked if you stood on it a certain way. Namely: going towards my bedroom.

I tried to calm myself. This was stupid. I was getting worked up over nothing. Aunt Shylah was just coming to check if I was alright. She'd seen my light on the way back from the kitchen.

So why did it sound so much heavier than Aunt Shylah?

I shivered. I only wore threadbare shorts and a tank top to bed, and it wasn't so much cold as chilling.

"Aunt Shylah?" I called out before I could stop myself.

Of course it was Aunt Shylah. Of course.

No answer.

Then the door to my room flew off.

**

A piece of shrapnel hit my lamp, knocking it to the floor. The glass smashed, and I screamed as I stumbled back and some lodged in my foot.

A hulking shape stood in the doorway, far too tall for Aunt Shylah's thin frame. But it didn't look human either, with limbs in all the wrong places and a blank face with impossible angles.

I scrambled backwards until my back hit the bed.

"Who are you?!" I screamed. "Why are you here?"

The thing took a step towards me, and I noticed it made a strange clicking sound as it moved, clear and concise, like the snapping of fingers.

I jumped up, fingers latching onto the strap of my backpack and pulling it with me. I vaulted across the bed, slamming into the window, fumbling at its catch. The window slid open and I launched myself out, barely grabbing hold of the branch before scrambling across it. I collapsed against the trunk, sobbing with terror and adrenaline.

Clicks emanated from inside my room, and that terrifying blank face peered out, shining white in the darkness. But it knew it would never get across. With a sort of throaty groan that reverberated deep inside me, it moved away from the window.

The call was answered by three more from inside the house. My throat closed off. There were more of them!

I froze when I remembered Aunt Shylah. I couldn't leave her!

But something told her she was already gone.

So I did what any coward would have done. I climbed carefully down the tree, clutching my backpack, tears streaming down my face, my mind numb.

I kept expecting a creature with a smooth face and a mutated body to loom out of the shadows, waiting for me.

But nothing did.

And so when I hit the ground, I turned, and ran so fast I couldn't breathe.

Towards the forest.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Helloooooooo! This chapter sucks, too! Yay! Oh, well. It starts getting interesting next chapter. I think. Well, this entire story is pretty much a mine of crappy writing, but I'm too lazy to go back and edit.

~FluffyTurtle x

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