Chapter 11:

The Guy with the Mallet


The entire room shook with the shockwave of the explosion above our heads. Bookmark here

Part of the ceiling caved in, destroying an entire section of Zuria’s house in the process.Bookmark here

Big chunks of mud and scattered rocks fell everywhere, with pieces of wood from the ceiling and the walls completely wrecked. It almost got us both by a few inches. Bookmark here

The explosion threw us both out of our chairs and the smoke made us cough, and I instinctively looked up at the torn ceiling. Bookmark here

I remembered I fell for who knows how long to get here, so I was expecting to see more of that muddy cave above us. Instead, there was a clear blue sky and warm rays of sunshine beaming through the hole. Bookmark here

I brought my hand to my forehead to shield my eyes from the sudden blinding sunlight.Bookmark here

“How in the…?”Bookmark here

I had no time to react. The sound of someone laughing above us cut through the confusion. Both me and Zuria were trying to look at the source– currently just a silhouette with a bright backlight behind him.Bookmark here

“So it was true! The new Alice Spade is already here!”Bookmark here

I stagger up to my feet, dusting myself off and coughing a few more times. Immediately after, Zuria stood in front of me, looking up at the torn ceiling as she held Posthaste- her pocket watch weapon- in one hand, and its long, golden chain in the other. It was emitting a bright glow around us, like a shield.Bookmark here

“Alice, please, stay behind me.”Bookmark here

“Huh?”Bookmark here

This is the first time since I got here that she’s called me Alice. I was confused, and her tone didn’t sound much different than her usual stoic monotone, but I could tell something was up.Bookmark here

I looked at the ceiling again as my eyes adjusted to the light, and finally I was able to see the young guy standing up there.Bookmark here

His short green hair was spiky, and his clothes were as strange as everyone else’s I’ve met here so far: a black and green trench coat over what looked like a military uniform in those same colors. The weirdest thing about him was the giant mallet resting carefully over his shoulder as if it wasn’t ten gazillion pounds— I assume. Bookmark here

He placed his leg over a protruding piece of ceiling and leaned down over his knee, looking down at us as he whistled.Bookmark here

“Man, you’re as hot as the poster in town!”Bookmark here

…Okay, I knew he was talking to me, but I refused to acknowledge what he just said. Instead, I scoffed.Bookmark here

“Who the hell are you?”Bookmark here

He laughed at my question.Bookmark here

“Wow, you’re feisty. I’m Pierce. I’m here to see if you’re the real deal, Alice Spade.”Bookmark here

I felt a drop of cold sweat drip down my forehead when he said this. Does he know I’m a fake? Is he here to tell on me or something? I looked at Zuria’s back, but she didn’t falter at all.Bookmark here

“You’re here to find out if this Alice is worthy of her title, aren’t you?”Bookmark here

She addressed him without looking at me at all, but I knew she said this to reassure me that this guy had no idea I was a fake. Good. I was relieved.Bookmark here

“Pshaw, little ol’ me? Here to test the new Alice? You think I’m that strong?”Bookmark here

“You destroyed my house.”Bookmark here

“Oh, that. Well, anyone can do that if they have a big enough mallet!”Bookmark here

“You’re also wearing a Clover armband.”Bookmark here

“Welp, you got me there!” he shrugged.Bookmark here

“A clover what…?” I asked, my eyes immediately shifting towards his arm. Right there I saw it: a bright green armband with a symbol like the clover in playing cards.Bookmark here

He raised his eyebrows the moment he caught me staring. There was silence for a moment, then he jumped down in front of us. Bookmark here

Zuria tightened her grip on her weapon, and I took a cautious step back. The guy didn’t seem to mind at all, incorporating himself slowly. He was much taller than Zuria, now that I saw him up close.Bookmark here

“You’re the White Rabbit, huh? You had an entire year and you didn’t teach your Alice about the Clovers?”Bookmark here

“...Please stand back.”Bookmark here

“You know I can’t do that.”Bookmark here

I tapped Zuria’s shoulder with some hesitation.Bookmark here

“Uh… Excuse me, so, is this, like, a bad guy?”Bookmark here

The guy that called himself Pierce scoffed before she could answer me.Bookmark here

“Um, no? I’m an awesome guy. And from where I’m standing, you’re the bad guys.”Bookmark here

I rolled my eyes.Bookmark here

“I mean are you our enemy or whatever!”Bookmark here

“Yeah. I’m whatever.”Bookmark here

“Alice,” Zuria interrupted, “Pierce is a member of the Clovers. Just like us Spades, they were selected by their leader to stop the rain, too.”Bookmark here

“What!?”Bookmark here

I gripped her shoulder and forced her to look at me. She looked startled, but I should be the startled one here!Bookmark here

“Are you telling me there’s other people out there who can do the exact same thing I’m supposed to be doing here and you still want me to do it!? You said I was the only one that could! Was that all just BS?”Bookmark here

Pierce’s eyes were wide open at my outburst before cracking up. Bookmark here

“Dude… did you really not tell your Alice anything? How did you even get her here, then? Did you tell her there’s cotton candy trees and bubbles that grant you wishes and that’s it!?”Bookmark here

“There’s what…?”Bookmark here

He bursted out laughing again. Zuria averted her eyes from me. She looked as stoic as ever, but with a slight blush of embarrassment on her cheeks.Bookmark here

“Alice. Listen to me. Everything I told you is true. You have to trust me; don’t let your guard down around the Clovers, they’re—”Bookmark here

Before she could finish her sentence, Pierce swung his giant mallet sideways against Zuria, who barely blocked it with a force field of light coming from Posthaste.Bookmark here

Ngh—!Bookmark here

“Hoh, not bad,” Pierce licked his lips with a crazy look in his eyes. “But you know well I wasn’t aiming for you,” he tilted his chin my way, “my fight is with the little hottie you’re protecting over there.”Bookmark here

I glared at him and immediately rolled my sleeves up. Once again I found out Zuria was keeping something from me, but that would have to wait. This guy came here to fight me for some reason, and I wasn’t about to pussy out.Bookmark here

“Yeah? You want a piece of me, freak?”Bookmark here

“Bring it on!”Bookmark here

“Alice, wait—!” Zuria gripped my dress tightly as I was about to stomp out of her shield.Bookmark here

“Don’t you dare fucking stop me! He started it!”Bookmark here

“It’s not that, it’s just— you don’t have a weapon yet!”Bookmark here

I stopped in my tracks.Bookmark here

That’s right… This guy has a giant mallet that could smash me like a pumpkin if he so much as swung it my way. Suddenly I was afraid of stepping out of Zuria’s protection. Bookmark here

But then the Pierce guy blinked a few times and held his hand up in disbelief.Bookmark here

“Wait a minute— Wait. A. Minute! You didn’t even give your Alice her weapon!? Are you trying to get her killed!?”Bookmark here

“I…”Bookmark here

“Hahaha! Oh boy! This has got to be the worst Alice Spade in history! No, scratch that, you have got to be the worst White Rabbit Spade in history! You told her nothing and you gave her nothing to defend herself? Holy shit! I never thought I’d—”Bookmark here

…And that’s when I punched him right on the mouth.Bookmark here

You can resume reading from this paragraph.