Chapter 1:

Alice Wakes Up

MONOCHROMARIUM


In the beginning, there was nothing but empty darkness; until a flash invaded my little void, a light growing as the shadows lifted. And then I was here, lying in a stranger's bed.

I couldn't move, couldn't speak—as if I had looked into the eyes of Medusa. Incomprehensible...The breath of somber air filled me as if I were possessed. 

Then, the humming of electric lights rang in my ears. I took a breath, only to cough out my lungs. 

Nothing smelled nice; the room was infested with mold, and dust filled the air. 

I sat up from where I awoke, took a yawn, and stretched my arms. 

"Where am I?" I asked myself. 

My heart beat an anxious note, quickening by the second. I was starting to feel sick. The room was dim, the walls were white, and the floor was checkered            —black and white.               

A flash caught my attention from across the room. Goldilocks, with her blonde hair and blue eyes, stared at me, expressionless...

I screeched in unfamiliarity at my own reflection.

Minutes passed as I lay there, a river flowing out of my eyes. The knot untangled, just a bit.              I thought I could try to understand what had happened; about how I got there, where I could be, or...  My bowels erupted blasts of nauseous heat. Like a weight, growing larger and heavier in my stomach, the questions multiplied—nearly breaking out into another choked scream. A terrifying realization stripped me of my breath; my memories are gone; the only thing I can reminisce is my name. 

The speakers jingled for the announcement, "All students to the school theatre...!" 

From wall to wall and off the floor, it rumbled. As if it weren't enough; the door swung open, allowing that somber air into the room. 

A ghastly hallway greeted me, distant footsteps mocking. The footsteps came closer with each beat of my heart—quickening with each step. My throat was stained with the contents of my stomach. 

I whipped my blanket over me and left one eye open;    I peeked from under my only defense, swallowing dry saliva...

An entity emerged from the void, glowing painfully bright, the color of coagulated blood. Curiosity killed the child. It turned it's head to me, and briefly, eyes stabbed my soul from the dark. 

My eyes were blinded by tears; in front of a predator, I am nothing but prey. 

My insides turning, the weight more than enough, had burst out into another shriek. My breath left me, a moment of silence arrived, a moment later—a young boy asked, "Are you okay...?"

I squealed in response.

"I'm Peter, what's your name?" He asked, wide-eyed, looking stupid.

Trembling, I replied, "I- I'm Alice..."

"You're fine now, yeah?"

"Yeah! Jus- just go!" I yelled at him.

"Should I close the door?"

"Yes, please, that would be nice..."

"Alright, see ya!" He gently closed the door, waving goodbye through the opening. 

Butterflies of questions tried to escape my stomach and out my mouth, but failed. Sighing away all the tension, I wiped away sweat that bore a winter chill. 

"Would this dream end already?!" I yelled at nobody in particular. 

Getting so fed up with everything, I finally just slapped myself—It hurt! It hurt! It really hurt!

I lay for a second or two, shock corroding my sanity, as heat radiated from my cheek. Hands tenderly trembling, I caressed the self-induced injury. 

Alice, confused and grieving, stopped her desperate escape and fell, face-first, on her pillow, again. Acid tears reddened the skin around her eyes. It was pointless, I knew it. 

I clawed at the bed-sheets, fighting my instincts with tooth and nail, slowly, painfully. Fidgeting, I dragged myself out of bed. The soft carpet cushioned my trampling feet, the cold doorknob's touch stretched the second. Like hatching from an egg, I pushed through the door. 

Outside my room, I witnessed a group of students moving to the school theatre. Walking on, I joined a death march of children. A familiar sound buzzed in my ears, coming from a wall. An electric light, which beamed from an indoor lantern, reflected off the crowd's scared eyes... Some were dead eyes. 

Finally reaching the light at the end of the tunnel, I made it out of the checkered passageway, down a forked stairway. The vermilion carpet extended to the bottom of the stairs, ending at the ground floor; enchanted by the titanic chandelier that twinkled above their heads, my eyes sparkled for the first time. Classical music waltzed around the checkered floor as we marched through the entrance hall, into the monolithic theatre. Dark-red theatre chairs filled the room, uniform and ordered. Golden-lit lanterns decorated it. 

We sat on theatre chairs, each sitting next to a stranger. 

The doors slammed shut. Almost instantaneously, the room was pitch black. Cold sweat drenched my uniform as I sat, aching for the event to start, ignoring to my best ability thoughts that clouded my conscience. 

The light from the stage slowly enveloped the room as the crimson curtain lifted—and suddenly, I felt at peace. 

'Perhaps, I was safe all this time.' I thought, chuckling at my silly paranoia. 

Then puffs of hot air touched my neck, sounds of breathing from behind. 

"You're new here, aren't you?"

★ To be continued ★