Emma awoke in the dark, on an eerily glowing floor of ice. Sitting up, she rubbed her aching head, so most authors had a handle on the whole passing out to freight train simile. Looking around she saw nothing, and then a tiny crack appeared and a blue beam of light shone through the ice. A feeling of terror erupted in her chest, holding back a scream she scrambled to get away from the crack, only to find she was unable to stand. In fact, she could barely move at all. Cracks started to appear and grow where her hands propped her up on the ice, the light shining through them. Chimes wrung and she stopped trying to move, trying to get away from the cracks; all at once, everything was silent, then something shattered.
She felt a force on her chest and with her vision blurred she could barely see the outline of a small child pushing her into the depths of the darkness. Blinking, the child more clear, wearing the emotionless smile of a doll. This time she did scream, but no sound came out, none besides the sound of the chimes. Louder, faster in her ears. The freight train feeling throbbing around her head; she felt like an elastic band being forced to stretch to the point of breaking.
And then, it stopped; she was in a street way, her vision still blurry, she heard the voices of two children.
“Is it almost ready? You know how I hate waiting.”
“Patience was never one of your virtues no, but I beg of you, let these ones last longer than the rest.” The second voice had a tone a nanny would use with a child who kept eating the cookies and then wondering why they were gone.
“I am sure I do not know what you mean.”
“I am sure you do,” the second child responded slowly, like he was treading across a bridge that could collapse at any moment, “people can’t keep on disappearing, someone is going to notice.”
“You’ve been saying that for the last five rounds, and yet, no one has. Stop being such a worry wart.”
“One of us has to think about these things sometime.”
“The system is fine.”
“Then why did you sound so panicked when she picked up that other one.”
“What other one?”
“I have everything under control,” from what Emma could make out the shorter one was caressing the others cheek. It was like a really disturbing fan fiction waiting to happen. “I won’t let anything ruin what we have tried so hard to build.”
“Besides, there is something, different about this third one.”
“She’s here already.”
“You sound almost gleeful.”
“Well, why wouldn’t I be? She is the quickest one yet.”
Emma swallowed, somehow, she didn’t think they were talking about her.
“I thought you hated the quick ones.”
“Yes, but she is the quickest, there is quite a difference.”
“If you say so.”
“And I do.”
“How long are you going to toy with the one behind us?”
“My goodness, you have grown much more impatient with my games recently.”
“Just put her with the others please.”
“I do not understand this obsession you have with everything being in order.”
“Carlton please put the girl with the others.”
“Fine, but I simply must say-”
“Oh, must you.”
“Do not interrupt me Roderick, it is rude.” Vision cleared, she watched a flash of fear come over the taller boy’s face, “I must say that you have grown very rustic in your old age, we simply have to do something to liven you up.”
And with that, the shorter boy walked up to her, placed a tiny hand on each shoulder, and pushed her through the ash fault. Meeting his eyes for a split second, she reeled back into the depths of the darkness. She knew where she was, she knew exactly where she was. Two sides of the same coin, complete and utter terror fought with extreme excitement. The book, she was in the book, her favourite book. Unfortunately that also meant she had an obsessive psychotic eight year old to deal with, one that probably wouldn’t let her leave. At least that was how the book ended, with Roderick leaving or escaping, give or take a few opinions on the fan board.
Yet, that was the thing that didn’t add up, the other boy, he called him Roderick. He wasn’t supposed to be here anymore; and the others, there were no others. Carlton took Roderick exclusively, the only others were monsters that Carlton had created to take away some of his loneliness. Toys, he had called them. If she recalled correctly, which was very probable considering she had fallen asleep reading this book many times, Toys were the messed up creatures Carlton created when he was lonely and trapped here for all eternity. Messed up little freak-shows that had toy parts and animal parts, some even looked human. They could change too, because why would a socially inept eight year old want consistency.
Roderick Wright was a conceptual writing God, even if he did do that annoyingly brilliant feat of writing himself into his own story, and making himself the main protagonist. As for the pretentious names, she could let that go, it was the late nineteenth century.
Another thing distracted her, she was falling through complete darkness, like Alice in the rabbit hole, and it was really comfortable. Shouldn’t she have some sort of goose-bump stricken chilled terror of some kind? She just witnessed the two main characters of her favourite novel come to life and basically imply that she was supposed to compete in Carlton’s games with other people. Knowing a rough outline of what those games entailed, generally she would be pretty concerned. However, at the moment she could feel her face contorting into the largest smile it could hold on her features, and holding back squeals of complete joy.
The Changeling Palace, she was in the freaking Changeling Palace! Of course, by her own belief system this was impossible; which is what made it so utterly awesome! That was it wasn’t it? There was nothing to worry about, there was nothing to really even think about, her subconscious would handle it all. In fact, this wasn’t falling, this was floating. Slowly drifting down… what was this anyways? A tunnel? An actual rabbit hole? Now that would be cool, going all Alice in Wonderland, a total fandom mash-up, this was legit material here.
Signal lights went off in her head, back to the nineteenth century point, all the names. She was just in the alley way beside her and Lena’s apartment building, where she witnessed two children, whom she presumed to be the most brilliantly constructed character tropes mashed together of all time, having a conversation in said alleyway. The one that looked the exact same as when she had thrown out their old blender in the dumpster yesterday, they did not have dumpster’s in the nineteenth century did they?
It was decided then, she was dreaming.
Holy crud, this was going to be so much fun! The feeling of merriment overtook her again and she was now the girl floating down a rabbit hole doing an excited variation of the victory dance she does in the kitchen whenever she is right about Lena not being able to cook anything with her privileged rich modelling hands. A lot of adjectives in that sentence, she was just so excited!
After what felt like an hour falling in what was less of a rabbit hole and more of an endless boring abyss of darkness, she really would have preferred the eerie blue glowing ice thing.
Almost as if her thoughts had actually been considered by her surroundings, the scenery changed to a bright overcast sky. Emma barely flinched as she turned in the air and found herself plummeting a thousand feet through nothing but grey clouds. Could it honestly be called plummeting if she saw them racing past her and it only felt as fast as any elevator she was ever in?
“Hello!” Turning her head to her right she saw Carlton in goggles and a parachute.
“Uhm…” She swallowed. “Do I get one of those?”
“Why? You obviously do not need one, going through the air this fast and not even breaking a sweat! Impressive Emma, very impressive!” He gave her a thumbs up and she had to stop the smile from growing on her face.
“You think that’s impressive? Watch this!” If she knew anything about Carlton, it was that he loved a good show. This was a dream, what did the laws of physics have on her? Barrel rolling across the sky, she twisted her body upside down and did a swan dive. The elevator sensation gone, there was no question she was plummeting. Her skin pressed into her skull, she couldn’t close her eyes or her mouth; instead of air ringing in her ears as she gained speed, all she could hear was applause, then the boy’s voice again.
“I told you I liked this one Roderick.”