FICTION: Alice’s Asylum by Stefan Milicevic  

Posted by Scott Wilson

     The voices were always there, echoing in her head; her mind crumbling and flaking like the whitewashed ceiling she would stare at during one of her rare, lucid moments.  This was one of them.  Her eyes were still closed; her world was steeped in darkness.  
     “Oh my, oh my, we shall be so late if she does not receive her medication.”  Alice recognized the voice.  It was high-strung and whiny, constantly on edge.  She called it the Rabbit.
     “Calm down Hutchinson.” another voice joined in, this one a strong, deep, baritone.  The newcomer had a fatherly voice that sent chills down Alice’s spine, “We shall give this one another fix and be done with it.”
     Alice opened her eyes, her vision suddenly sharpened like a knife’s edge.  She saw them bending over her bunk:  the Rabbit, his face pale and flaccid, and the owner of the other voice; a middle-aged gent, wearing a top hat and sporting a neatly trimmed moustache.
     Yet his teeth stood out the most:  two rows of yellow gnashers, shaped like shards of jagged glass.  His lips twisted into a maniacal grin.  Alice decided to call him the Hatter.
     The crazy Hatter.
     “Good morning my dear,” the Hatter said, slightly tipping his top hat, “how are you feeling on our Lord’s natal day?  Happy Christmas, Alice.”  He gave her his best yellow grin.
     Alice tried to speak, but her tongue was like a dry, leaden maggot in her mouth.
     “Please Mr. Acksby sir,” the Rabbit said, his voice squeaky like a rubber sole, “if she is not given her daily dose she will suffer withdrawal.”
     The Hatter’s grin grew wider.  Alice felt the cold stab of fear in her loins.
     “Very well.  I’ll let no one say that I am unsympathetic to the plights of the needy.  If she screams loud enough I shall let her have the fix.”
     “B-but, Mr. Acksby...” the Rabbit fidgeted around.
     As Alice screamed, a spider’s web of pain spread in her body.  Her body convulsed and jolts of pain rushed through her limbs.  The voices in her head grew louder, screaming and mocking her.
     “Capital!” the Hatter pointed at Alice with his cane.  “You have just earned your acquittal my dear.  Enjoy your last opium experience.”
     “But Mr. Acksby, if we cut her off from the opium she will suffer horribly.  At least let me decrease the dose for now...”
     “My dear Hutchinson,” the Hatter tapped the wooden floor with the tip of his cane, “we are a happy family in our jolly asylum.  In fact, I daresay I fancy myself the father of this family.  It is our duty to provide solace for the mentally sick and dim-witted and of those we have many.  This girl here has been leeching off on us for far too long.” he took out a cigar and a book of matches out of his breast pocket.  “Besides,” he said in-between exhaling puffs of dark smoke, “I’d loathe seeing you lose your job, old boy.”
     Alice couldn’t quite believe it, but the Rabbits face grew even paler.  She would accept anything, as long as the pain would wither away.  She hated the real world; the world of pain.  She wanted to play with Humpty dumpty, visit the Court of Cards and chase the Grinning Cat; not lay in a bed were each second was a lifetime of torture. 
The Rabbit brought the tiny bottle to her lips, pouring the liquid down her throat.  Soon, the strong taste of poppy spread in Alice’s mouth.
     She could feel her mind drift away into unconsciousness, the lingering remnants of pain sending her to sleep like a lullaby.

     Alice woke up bathed in sweat.  The voices were gone.  It would be only a matter of time before the pain returned, clawing at her body like a vulture.  A sharp draft sighing through a crack in the window woke her.
She tried to scream for help, but her voice left her.  That was one of the opium’s side effects.  Usually her voice would return after clearing her throat, but this time she rasped and coughed but no avail.
     A sharp pang, like a scattering of razorblades in her stomach, spread through her body and she cursed the draft, cursed the dilapidated building, cursed both the Rabbit and the Hatter.  The voices were her only escape, the ditzy and vivid world of Wonderland.
     And now they were gone, blown away by a draft.
     Her gaze wandered aimlessly in the room until it locked on the night table, beside her bed.  There was a bottle of opium, the new good stuff, which could knock her out for hours.
     And the Hatter’s book of matches, lying there, forgotten.
     Alice picked them up.  The opium deadened her sense of touch so her fingers were little better than limp sausages.
     Yes, she thought.  She knew what she had to do.  They would not take the opium from her.
     The flames leapt and danced, tendrils of crimson red reaching for the skies.  Snowflakes started falling, careless and free.
     It was a white Christmas and the asylum burned--a white Christmas wreathed in flames.
     Alice watched the whole spectacle from a safe distance, clutching the small bottle of opium to her chest.  It would last for a while, and who knows, if she took enough of it, she could perhaps stay in her own little Wonderland.  She smiled and turned away, searching for a safe spot where she could sample her new delights.
     And she lived miserably ever after.

                             THE END

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