I don't own Alice in Wonderland or any of its characters. Based on the 2010 Tim Burton film.
Rated K+ just to be safe.
Queen Mirana is hostessing a Halloween Party, but Chess isn't there and Mally misses him. Where is he?
Halloween Without Chess?
"Of course I know all about Hello Ian!" Mirana bubbled, fluttering her fingers about excitedly. "It's been a while, but I read the books McTwisp procured from Above and I remember how delightfully and deliciously fun and charmingly eerie it all sounds!"
Alice grinned and clasped Tarrant's hand at the small tea table where the pair of them and Mirana sat discussing the upcoming party.
"It's Halloween, Mirana," Alice gently corrected, "and yes, it is so very much fun! What sort of party are you planning? And how can I help?"
Tarrant leaned forward in barely suppressed excitement, his emerald eyes glowing. When Alice had explained Halloween to him he had been busy making costumes for the people who were invited to Mirana's party.
"I was thinking of having a wing of the Palace decorated appropriately. I'll need your help for that, Alice! Also, I think a few games would be in order! Firstly, however, I want us to have a nice meal. Then, I'm thinking of...never you mind, Tarrant! Only Alice and I will discuss the details!"
Tarrant huffed and crossed his arms. "Fine! You ladies have your gossip party planning and I'll be doing real work!"
Mally popped out of Tarrant's breast pocket and huffed as well. "Well, I'm all fer parties, but I don't think it will be as scary as you think!"
"But it will!" Alice insisted. "Just think of it, Mally! We will all be wearing costumes, and some will be quite frightening! And the decorations will enhance the atmosphere, and the games will be fun. You like games, don't you, Mally?"
"Well," the dormouse considered, "yes, I like games." It was a grudging admission for her to make, as she didn't think games looked very dignified for a soldier of the Queen. But if the Queen herself was excited about all of this, then she supposed she could be as well. But would Chess come? The mysterious feline hadn't been around for days and his absence irked and troubled Mally more than she cared to admit.
"I still don't think that it will be all that scary," she said petulantly.
Mally had to admit to herself that the costumes Tarrant had made for them were rather creepy indeed.
Tarrant had dyed his hair lime green and wore a skull-cap that made him appear to be bald down the center of his skull. He had drawn bulging veins on his head and face, and had outlined his eyes in vivid black. His lips were also painted black and what appeared to be fresh blood dribbled from the edges of his mouth. His baggy shirt was deep green on one half and purple on the other. His pants were the same colours but reversed from the shirt. His shoes were black and had splotches of what looked, again, like fresh blood. The final touch was a rubber clown nose; but it didn't add a touch of whimsy, but rather of menace.
When Tarrant burst into Alice's room where Alice and Mally were finishing dressing they both shrieked, especially when they saw the hatchet he brandished while giggling maniacally. Alice gasped and paled at once and Mally was so shocked she drew her sword pin and brandished it until they both realised it was just Tarrant.
"Well," Tarrant crowed triumphantly, "I see the Halloween spirit has indeed infiltrated this house!"
"A little too much so," Alice said, giggling in relief. "Tarrant, you look positively...terrifying!"
She put her arms around him and gingerly kissed him, being careful to not smear his makeup. She herself was almost as eerie in appearance as Tarrant. Alice wore a black witch's outfit. Tarrant made her dress with a snug-fitting bodice with blood-coloured laces. She had a wide black belt with a silver buckle that was adorned with a skillfully painted black cat. The skirt of her outfit was long and billowing, but shredded at the ankles all around and her boots were shiny black with tiny sharp heels.
Tarrant had gone further and made her a tall pointed black hat with random black cobwebs dangling from odd spaces all around the brim. Alice's hair was coloured black and her face a chalk white. Her eyelids and lips were blood red.
Mally was tiny, but she was no less intimidating. She was the perfect miniature of the Grim Reaper complete with her own tiny scythe. The only thing that spoiled the effect was her sheath; she didn't want to leave her favourite weapon, her pin sword, behind. But then she reconsidered. She wanted to look perfect for Chess and the sheath ruined her look. She removed it and laid it and her sword aside. There. Now she was ready to look good for Chess!
Wait...ready to look good for Chess? Why should she care, anyway? They had been almost inseparable for weeks and suddenly, several days ago, he had vanished without a word and not come back. Mally wondered if suddenly she was not such desirable company for the cat anymore.
A single tear dripped from one black eye. Before she could dash it away Alice saw it.
"Mally? Are you all right?"
Mally wiped the single tear away and nodded. "I'm fine, Alice."
Tarrant growled. "It's that slurvish cat, ain't it?"
"Oh!" Alice said, understanding. She bent down and carefully scooped up her friend. "Mally, I happen to know for a fact that Chess fancies you! Now, if he's been gone for a few days he must have a good reason. I'm sure he does!"
"He had better!" Tarrant snarled. Alice took his hand and stroked it and he calmed somewhat, but was clearly still angry at how Chess had left without so much as a by your leave!
"Oi! It's all right," Mally grumbled. "Let's just go to the party. And if he ain't there then, well, we'll just have a good time without him!"
It was a small, intimate party, but to Mally the glaring absence of one guest was unsettling. Where was he? Why hadn't he come? Why hadn't he told her where he was going to be for days on end? And...worse...what if something had happened to him? Even a Cheshire Cat was not immune to misadventure or harm. Or even...Mally shuddered to think of it...Death.
But she shook off the feelings as she surveyed the company. She and Alice and Tarrant had arrived in one carriage. Thackery was already at the castle, and so was McTwisp, so they had been there first, of course. Mirana hadn't made her grand entrance yet, Mally noticed. Doubtless, she was touching up her makeup or fussing over a few strands of her precious royal hair.
Thackery's costume was...interesting, Mally mused. He was dressed as a flamingo. Yes, a tall, lanky, flamingo! Tarrant had done well with his friend's request. He was wrapped snugly in pink felt and Tarrant had carefully sewed the pink feathers all over the costume and even made Thackery's legs look like birds legs by wrapping them tightly in lighter pink fabric. Thackery's head was wrapped in pink and feathered and a false flamingo's head fitted him as a hat. His face was obscured by a dark pink veil.
Mally giggled now and Thackery preened! He had always loved watching flamingos. No, he had never condoned the former Red Queen using them as croquet mallets, but he had always admired the pinky pinkness of the regal birds.
"Ah luk sum kind o' fine, dun't Ah?" he asked, clearly hoping she'd say yes.
Mally put her hand on his ankle and grinned. "Yeh sure do, Thackery! Yeh look fantastic!"
He cackled in delight. "Death! Yer Death!"
It was Mally's turn to preen. She did look quite distinguished and suitably menacing, didn't she?
Tarrant and Alice were murmuring excitedly about what Mirana could be wearing. She hadn't had Tarrant make her costume, so all of them would be surprised.
McTwisp strutted into the room, pocket-watch in his hand, as usual. He wasn't wearing his normal vest, thank goodness. At first he had refused to partake in the festivities but with a strong suggestion from Mirana, he quickly changed his mind. He was, by Mirana's request, costumed as a hedgehog. She thought it a great joke that if Thackery would be a flamingo then he could be a hedgehog!
McTwisp huffed and sniffed indignantly as he hopped about uncomfortably in his round and very padded costume.
Alice burst into giggles and rushed forward to touch a "spine."
"It's not sharp, thank goodness! It bends! Oh, McTwisp, you look adorable!"
McTwisp blushed, but with indignation. "I am not adorable! I'm a dignified creature!"
"Dignified?" Tarrant blustered, "you're a hedgehog! I had such fun making that for you! But one word that certainly does not describe it is dignified!" Then he guffawed and slapped his thigh.
Alice wanted to scold him but covered her mouth to stifle her giggles instead. She couldn't help but be amused.
Mally cleared her throat, trying to not add to the rabbit's annoyance and discomfort.
"Ah, McTwisp...you look...ah...aw, heck with it! Yeh look bluddy hilarious!" And she doubled over in laughter. The laughing actually made her feel a tiny bit better that a certain feline was nowhere about.
"Welcome, welcome!" a tinkling voice called over the laughter. "Welcome to my first Halloween Party!"
Mirana slowly descended the several steps from the corridor on their left in the Reception Room. The Queen was certainly a sight to behold and everyone present gasped in awe.
Mirana was wearing a form-fitting white silk sleeveless gown. Gold cording under her bust-line gathered at the center of her cleavage and was fastened by a large oval lapus brooch. The gown cascaded to her delicate feet, which were bedecked in golden sandals. Her wrists displayed large golden bangles to spectacular effect and her neck bore a thick and ornate necklace. It was made of many rows of yellow and black onyx beads interspersed with lapus and the occasional scarab.
Mirana smiled and nodded to her guests. Her hair was coloured deep black and was very straight. She wore the crown of Upper and Lower Egypt. She even had the make-up applied correctly!
Alice spoke first. "Mirana, you are stunning! Queen Cleopatra?"
Mirana nodded. "But, of course! I've read of her and admired her for so long! I couldn't very well resist the chance to be her for one evening!"
"You're splendid!" Tarrant said, awed.
"Yer...breath-takin'!" Mally added.
"You are dignified!" McTwisp said.
"Yeh nae' luk lak Queen Mirana!" Thackery yelled.
Alice rolled her eyes and laughed. "Well, that's the point, Thackery, remember?"
The hare's eyes widened beneath his pink veil and he nodded vigourously. "Aye!"
"Now that we are all here, let us be seated and eat the wonderful things Thackery has made for us!" Mirana gestured to the table at one side of the room. It was heaped with apples, cookies, pastries, and several types of juices. They all sat and eagerly devoured the tasty pumpkin-shaped cookies first.
Mally could hardly taste a thing. Her friends were all chatting gaily and she made sure to insert a comment here and there so as to not attract notice; but she was still troubled and more than just a little melancholy at Chess' continued absence.
More than once Mally saw Tarrant carefully kiss Alice's hand. She liked Alice now and no longer had any jealousy over Tarrant. No, that was long over. She was just...put out. Yes, that was it. She was a bit put out that Chess wasn't there. If he was he would have been kissing her hand...er...paw, too! She knew he would! At the balls they had attended and several dinner engagements he had taken to kissing her paw and even teasingly licking it once in a while just to make her giggle.
"Mally! My dear; did you hear a word I said?"
Mally snapped to attention. "Ah'm sorry, Yer Majesty. Ah was jus' thinkin'. Ah beg yer pardon."
"It's quite all right, my dear! I was just saying that I have a list of items for everybody. We are going to have what the Above Worlder's refer to as a Scavenger Hunt."
Mirana handed everybody a list. "You see that there are various items on the list. All of these things can be found in the West Wing which is opened and decorated for this holiday. Some doors are unlocked and those are the ones you may enter in search of your items. The first person to return with all of the items will win a prize!"
Mirana paused. "I had intended for all of you to be in teams of two, but one guest has not yet arrived, so I fear you must all be on your own. The West Wing is large and has multiple corridors. So the challenge will be greater." She smiled and extended her arms. "Now, off you all go and try to not be frightened!"
Frightened? What a ridiculous notion! Mally thought. So there were fake bats and spiders and tiny skeletons dangling from the ceilings. And once in a while a rat or mouse soldier coloured white; supposed to be ghosts, would run by and shout in attempts to scare her. But Mally was never one to frighten easily. She just wanted to focus on her list and find the items.
Hmmm...a hair pin, a slipper, a quill, a measuring spoon, a toothpick, a piece of string...all easy enough items to obtain. Mally went into an open door and found herself in a storage larder. Perfect! Mally's eyes scanned the darkness and easily spotted several bags of grain tied with string!
Mally climbed a sack of grain and with her tiny sharp teeth severed a piece of string. One item obtained!
She climbed back down and decided to head to the kitchen, where she knew she'd find another item or two. She walked out of the larder and began to head towards the kitchen. Wait...did she hear something? Mally stopped and cocked her head.
Yes, that was definitely a scream! She gripped her scythe tightly and began to run, but then stopped and laughed. It was just a trick! Mirana had told them all to try and not be frightened! The Queen obviously, besides the "ghosts" had other tricks going to attempt to scare and entertain her guests.
Well, Mally wasn't going to give in. Likely, Alice would, and perhaps Thackery, and definitely McTwisp, but not she! Not the best of the Queen's guards!
Mally began to saunter on casually, but then she heard the scream again. There was something odd about it. It actually sounded...genuine. The screamer truly sounded terrified. She supposed it wouldn't hurt to investigate it.
Mally ran towards the screaming, but she may as well have not. It was rushing towards her! A giant flamingo was screaming crazily and rushed past her.
"Thackery! What is it?"
He continued to run and scream. Mally whirled round and rushed after him.
"Thackery, stop! It's Mally! What's wrong?"
The hare ran straight into the opened larder door and promptly knocked himself out.
"Thackery!" The concerned dormouse rushed to her friend's side and pulled his veil aside. She felt for his pulse. Thank goodness he was fine! However, he was definitely unconscious. What could have frightened him so badly? Surely not one of Mirana's silly trick 'ghosts!'
Then she heard soft laughter. It wasn't a laugh she had ever heard before. Mally whipped her head around but saw nothing.
"This ain't funny!" she growled. "Show yerself yeh coward!"
A decidedly male laugh was her reply. It was closer to her now. In fact, it sounded so close that...
Mally shrieked! Hot breath whispered over her cheek.
"Hello, mousy mousy!" it teased.
Mally stumbled backwards and raised her scythe to protect her head and chest. Whatever or whoever this was would not make her cower!
Then she felt the warm breath again, this time over her entire face.
"Ack!" Mally yelled in surprise and stumbled backwards again. "Show yerself!"
Large yellow eyes materialized before her.
Mally gasped. "Chess?"
Red and blue stripes materialized before her. Not Chess. No, not Chess at all. But...another Cheshire Cat?
Mally glared at her new enemy. "Who are yeh? Whatcha want?"
The strange cat licked its lips and gazed at her in condescending amusement.
"Basilio," he whispered. "My name is Basilio. And what's your name, Dinner?"
Large gleaming fangs accompanied a very, very menacing smile.
Suddenly Mally decided that fear was not always a bad thing. But she also decided she wasn't going to retreat. Thackery was...
The mad hare leapt up, screamed "cat!" and resumed his running and screaming.
Well. That was not something Mally had expected at all.
"Come closer, Dinner," Basilio cooed. "I'm not here by Royal Invite, but I've heard that there are many, many delicious Meals to be had here in Marmoreal."
Mally froze, every nerve and muscle tensed and ready for fight or flight. She knew very well that if a Cheshire Cat wanted to kill her and eat her it very likely could. But she wouldn't make it easy! She knew that as long as a Cheshire was solid it could be injured.
The cat stuck it tongue out and made to lick Mally's face but the dormouse was having none of that! She lunged forward and swung her scythe onto the wet and warm tongue, cutting it and causing some blood to spurt. The cat hissed and cursed and Mally decided that it was time for a strategic retreat.
The valiant little soldier ran as fast as she could. She needed to find a place where she could be protected from behind when she would inevitably be cornered. She raced down the corridor and into the kitchen. Why was she alone? Didn't Tarrant or Alice or any of the others have food or kitchen items on their lists?
Frustrated, but determined, Mally scurried up onto a counter and feverishly searched for a knife that she could wield. Her tiny scythe was effective, but not as effective as she would need a weapon to be if she were to battle a Cheshire!
There! She saw a vegetable peeling knife. It was quite a bit longer than her pin sword, but it was balanced well by the handle and she could hold it easily.
"Come on, yeh bleedin' coward! Yeh wanna fight? Ah'll give yeh a fight!"
Basilio's silky laugh, so like Chess' yet so unlike his, unnerved Mally as she heard it floating into the room and towards her place on the counter.
Then there was dead silence except for Mally's heavy breathing. Where had he gone? She strained her ears and eyes to make sure she would not be caught unawares.
Suddenly she was sent tumbling off the counter and on to the floor, where she dropped the knife. Curse it! Mally got to her feet as quickly as possible, only to be swatted once more; and towards a corner! No! The last thing she wanted was to be cornered! Defenseless now, as both her weapons were gone she backed into the corner and waited. If this was her time, then so be it. She would not go down easily! She still had her own teeth and claws!
But she was afraid. She didn't want to die! Not now! Not just when she had found a new reason to live! She and Chess...
Mally cursed again and tried hard to not cry. She was afraid, yes, and she was also still brave. But she would likely never have a chance to say good-bye to Chess! And somehow, that troubled her more than anything else.
Suddenly a new voice filled the air. "Mally, love! Are you all right?"
"Chess? I'm here in the corner! I'm all right, but I don't have a weapon!"
"Don't worry about it, love. This cat and I go way back. You just run and I'll take care of him."
"Go!" Chess shouted, then hissed as Basilio materialized and flew towards him.
Mally obeyed and ran as fast as she could. Her part in this game was over. She ran and ran until she reached the Receiving Room.
"Mally? Are you all right, dear?" Mirana asked. "You look as if you've seen a Jabberwocky!"
"No, Yer Majesty," Mally panted. "But there's another Cheshire Cat! He attacked me and chased me but Chess is fighting him and he told me to leave!"
Mirana gasped. "Another Cheshire? I'd always suspected, since Chess is around, but I've never seen or heard of any others around here!"
"Me, either," Mally replied.
"Should I send some guards?" Mirana wondered out loud.
"No, I'm sure Chess will be just fine," Mally said confidently. If she knew anything, she knew that Chess would protect her. There was no way her Chess would allow a danger to her to live!
The dormouse felt a flush suffuse her face. Her Chess? How long had she thought of him as hers? She staunchly refused to giggle, though the temptation was great.
It wasn't long until one by one the others returned with their items and lists. Except for Thackery. And Chess.
Mirana wrung her hands nervously as she explained the situation to each newcomer to the room.
"Another slurvish Cheshire?" Tarrant groaned. "One is quite enough!"
"Tarrant!" Alice said, slightly reproachfully, "you may be right, but Chess may be in trouble! I think we should..."
"Should what?" a familiar voice purred. Everyone turned to see Chess, a gentle guiding paw on Thackery's back and nudging him along, enter the room.
"Where is 'e?" Mally demanded. "Where's that Basilio?"
"Right here," Basilio said, and materialized.
Tarrant snarled and lunged forward but Chess floated in front of him to stop him.
"Your Majesty, stop him!" Chess said. "I can explain everything!"
Tarrant stopped on his own, frowning, but still ready to fight if he needed to.
"Chess?" asked Alice and Mirana simultaneously.
Chess sighed and locked gazes with Basilio for a long moment. "I think my...jest has gone too far."
"Jest?" Mally squeaked.
"Yes, jest," Chess said, his eyes turning sombre.
"Explain yourself," Mirana said crossly. "You had us worried nigh unto death for you!"
Mally glared as Chess turned to her. "You see," he began, "I have been gone these past few days because I wanted to find my nephew Basilio. I wanted his help it making this Halloween truly special and I knew I'd need someone unique to actually be able to scare any of you lot. Especially you, love." His eyes looked sad now. "Mally, I wanted to..." He stopped.
"Yeh wanted te what?" she demanded, stomping her foot.
"I wanted him to scare you so that I could come to your rescue and be your...hero." Chess floated a little closer to her. "But I'm afraid that even I have somewhat of a conscience. Nuisance, that. I...had to confess."
Mally stared at him silently. So did everyone else. She didn't know now whether she should be angry with him or flattered that he had done all this for her.
A few uncomfortable moments later everyone turned to look at Mally. Mally made up her mind.
"Ah, git over here, ya big galoot!" she said with a smile.
Chess grinned like a fool. "You forgive me?"
"You forgive me, too?" Basilio asked. "I didn't mean to slap you off the counter so hard!"
"Yeah, I fergive yeh both!" she said, grinning.
Chess landed beside Mally and wrapped her snugly in his tail and he licked her face so hard that her hood fell back.
"That's better," he whispered. "I've...missed you, Mally," he admitted. "And..."
"And?" she prompted with a laugh.
"And you're still irresistibly delicious!"
"But not for eating!" Basilio remarked.
"Definitely not!" Tarrant said sharply, taking Alice's arm and pulling her against him. "And yeh better not even think of crossing any of us!"
"That's Tarrant, right?" Basilio sighed to Chess.
"Thankfully, the one and only," Chess replied softly, snuggling Mally closer to him.
Mirana clapped her hands. "Well, I do believe I have a prize to hand out! Who found all their list items?"
Tarrant and Alice admitted defeat.
"I did!" McTwisp cried out. "Every single one, Your Majesty!"
"Nae fair!" Thackery yelled. "Yeh noe evereh inch o' this place!"
"Doesn't matter!" McTwisp bragged. "What's my prize, Your Majesty?"
Mirana laughed gaily and went to the food table where a black bag decorated with tiny pumpkins sat. She handed it to McTwisp, who tore off the string closing it and peered inside eagerly.
"Goodness me! Squimberry Wine from the finest winery in Underland!"
All of the guests save for two oohed and aahed and congratulated him.
Mally and Chess couldn't have cared less. To them this first Halloween celebration together was better than any wine or prize.
I hope you all enjoyed this story; even if it was only half as much as I enjoyed writing it. All comments are welcome!