As quickly as you can, aware that you’re probably being watched for being in this room in the first place, your hands skim over the keyboard, this keyboard-from-nowhere, and you press the enter key with defiance heavy in your chest after the final letter.
Pain splits through your head. First a throbbing, as if someone is chipping away at your skull, then a deep, stinging pain that brings tears to your eyes. Blinking and wiping your face, you clutch your head. You fall to your knees.
You have a feeling this is something to do with the microfibers Hatter babbled on about. Why didn’t I press him for answers? you cry to yourself.
The pain subsides for a moment. It’s a moment of clarity, a moment in which you want to tear this…whatever-it-is from your head and run back through the world. Back to your own. Back home.
This time, the pain is not merciful. Someone is carving your head open, and they’re taking their sweet time to cause you as much pain as possible. It’s no headache. It’s death.
“Argh!” you scream. You slam your head into the floor and lie there. Every thought is agony, so it’s easier just to close your eyes and…what? Pray?
Footsteps sound like drum-beats, and you become aware of another person in the room. You pull up your head, and squint at the figure. She’s dressed in a crimson cloak so sleek it might as well be her flesh. Her pigmentation itself reminds you of obsidian, cold and hard. Her hair is lighter than it should be—the colour of cotton, but left out after a rainstorm.
Her smile is as sharp as the glass that protrudes from her head. Glass horns wielded into a bitter crown.
“Red Queen,” you cry hoarsely.
“Well, well, well…” she says, towering over you.