AN: I said I'd write a new story before summer, didn't I? Yeah, I know I haven't finished…or updated…ANY story before summer (I'm not one to keep promises, unfortunately), but…the show must go on! And since summer vacation's just around the corner I'm hoping I'll get to update my stories in the near future.
P.S. Because I'll be asked sooner or later; I wrote this because I felt a tad dark. Also I'm going for that Gothic feel, something I haven't done since…well, ever. The closest I've ever come to a Gothic story is The Life of a Devil. And that was more Spy than Gothic.
Disclaimer: Can't forget this. I do not own the characters of Inuyasha. I also do not own the plot of American McGee's Alice, which just happens to be the inspiration/bases of this little fic. NOT, I repeat, NOT plagiarizing.
Summary: Kagome had happy dreams, until, that is, her nightmares began to consume her mind. A "bunny" comes to her aid. To regain her mind she must save the bloody Wonderland with a sexy-but-violent Halfling for a comrade. Lovely. American McGee's Alice, IY style.
The Abyss of Paradise
Phase One: My Nightmare
To sleep was to die.
A single palm on the frosted window, a messy black head seemingly cemented to the cold windowsill. The aggravating sound of a consistent drip somewhere in the shadows of the room. This was all there was.
Two green, bulging eyes flickered to the voice, but only for a moment. Just as quickly the green eyes were glued back to the more interesting notepad.
"Alice, she's doing it again."
"Leave it be." Her voice, sharp and resonant, rang in the nearly empty hallway.
The uniformed guard frowned as he peeked through the square window, examining the still girl behind the steel door. If her hand hadn't twitched, he would've thought she was… "But she isn't in bed. That's against the codes."
Alice looked up and over the counter. She blew a lock of stay hair from her pale, bony face and smoothed her mahogany hair with one skinny hand. She sighed at the guard's ineptness. Breaking in the new nightshift guards was never her forte.
"It's against the codes," he repeated after her resigned sigh. "I was told—"
"Rubbish," Alice held her small hand up. "Nothing but rubbish. We don't run as smoothly as they tell you. If someone breaks a code, we ignore it."
"If you want to report this and handle the paper works, I won't stop you," an almost cruel smile broke her stoic façade. "In fact, I'll applaud your diligence." Deciding that all was said and done, she effaced her smile and was engrossed in her notepad once again.
The guard's brow was wrinkled in a deep scowl, but he knew better than to speak against someone like Alice. With a curious glance at the nametag below the look-in glass of the door, he turned towards the end of the hall and continued on with his guard duty.
The name, however, stayed in his mind. The strange girl that feared sleep…as much as she feared death.
To sleep. To die.
Her eyes snapped open. But her body refused to move. As if waking up in the middle of a surgical operation, the anesthesia had failed. And she was feeling the pain.
Crazily, hungrily, her eyes swiveled like a trapped beast, searching for an escape. Even as her whole body tingled, even as sweat dripped from her bottom lip, she stayed still. She had a feeling she was being watched from the door, which she had her back turned to.
Her muscles tensed.
Were they still watching? Were they still there? Or is this…
She sat up abruptly. Her hair was so tangled for a moment she had to stop and pull apart the long bangs curtaining her face. She quickly snapped around, awkwardly twisting her waist in the process, and studied the door. No one was watching.
Kagome's eyes were wide and alert. She had woken up so suddenly she had yet to notice the drool running down her chin; much less remember she had fallen asleep.
"They're watching," she whispered. "I'm being watched." She licked her chapped lips, her expression that of a frightened child's.
A breeze ruffled her matted hair. A calming summer breeze that somehow managed to unnerve her more than the darkness itself. Kagome… "Nothing here is real. Sanity borders on…" Kagome… "…on the thin line of insanity. I have nothing to fear." Kagome… "Because…because death is inevitable."
"SHUT UP!" she screeched. "SHUT UP! I GET IT! KILL ME! TORTURE ME! GET IT OVER WITH SO I CAN WAKE UP!"
The breeze stopped. As soon as she finished yelling she regretted it. Every word of it.
"Silence is my enemy," Kagome spoke, barely above a whisper, "and time is but a false concept. Get it over with. Get it over with."
Behind her there was a figure. She didn't know who it was, or what it was. But she knew it was there.
"I get it. Finish it. I die here. Get it over with."
A smile. A wide, stretched out smile, almost like a crescent shaped moon.
"Kill me already," Kagome continued. "Wake me up. Finish it!"
But it was never quick. No, it was never swift. Only painless. But the fear was real. Like watching the most horrifying movie imaginable, in an even more creepy movie theatre, and feeling that adrenalin rush as you watch the characters die one by one, victims to a sick gruesome game of an omniscient being who just happened to have a fetish for gore.
Every time she slept she would be one of those unfortunate characters. No matter what she did the predator always found her. Nothing would change—except for how she died. Nevertheless, by the time she woke up she was dead. And even when she did wake up the images never left. She'd endure the torture, the disgust, the nearly endless fear that coursed through her veins, and in the morning she'd have to unsuccessfully block out the flashes of her dreams, dreams that got bloodier the next night. Yet she'd wait for sleep. Sleep, at least, wasn't real.
At least it wasn't real.
Her first symptoms began on her 10th birthday, 5 years ago. It was described as a type of hallucination, mistaken for schizophrenia. That night she was given several sleeping pills in order to be subdued. She refused to sleep.
The news of her father's death the next day worsened her symptoms. She was driven catatonic. Her exact words were as follows: Don't let me sleep. Don't let me die. If I sleep I die. I'll die like dad, so don't let me sleep.
She was institutionalized in Killington Asylum on her 13th birthday.
Night again. A whole day after sleep. It was time to sleep again. Nothing was real. Nothing. Everything that had meaning was lost.
Kagome sat down on her chair, rested her palms on her knees, and looked straight at the door. It was a ritual, a promise to stay alive. But she wasn't enthusiastic about it. She had lost any will to fight. She used to fight it, fight sleep, that is, but she lost every time. Lost to sleep. To the nightmare. To death. This was meaningless.
She used to dream, yes. Dreams that were real. Dreams that didn't test her fear.
Kagome blinked. For the first time in a long time, she felt…shocked. Genuine, unprovoked surprise. She hadn't felt other emotions unrelated to fear in a long, long time… She had fallen asleep already? Had she finally given up?
The shock had turned again to fear. Fear that was unfamiliar to her. A nervous, uneasy kind of fear—not sheer terror.
My foreign voice frightens you? Amusing…
"Kill me. Go on, kill me."
"You're so willing."
The unease had grown. The voice that usually stayed like an echo, a voice from an omniscient deity, had changed. Transformed into a child's. A child's, for crying out loud!
"You shouldn't give up so easily."
And it was there.
Kagome could not move. For once, her nightmare surprised her. She was supposed to be in the clutches of a sick maniac by now. And the smile… where was the crescent smile? Where was the ominous wind?
"Do you really want that?"
She tucked her unkempt hair behind her ears and looked down. An outline of a tiny form with two long, slender ears on its head with a black stripe at each end. Bunny ears? A blink. She made out its large green eyes with a pair of abnormally sharp pupils. But, for some reason, the figure was unnaturally shadowed.
"Don't you want to fight?"
"What?" was all Kagome could muster. She didn't dare lean forward. The less she moved the better.
"The world of logic has been disturbed. Why won't you fight it?"
"I'm…I don't understand," Kagome squinted. "Who are you?"
"Don't try. The shadows make up my cloak. No ordinary human can see through this camouflage."
Kagome did not try to absorb all this in. It didn't make sense. She didn't expect it to make sense. After her nightmares began her curiosity had been pushed back, lest it die like her mind and will. She did, however, stand up when the door to her room slid open.
Kagome was frozen solid. Every joint in her body had locked in place, making any movement a difficult task.
"Do you not desire freedom?"
"This is… it is not real. The freedom you're offering isn't real," Kagome's voice wavered, a strange mix of desperation and anger. "You're giving me false hope."
"Tell me," the child said, ignoring her last statement. "What is it that lets you live? Hope? Goals? You have nothing, yet you still continue to live, not just to exist. How are you still able to live?"
This was easy. An easy question and an easy answer. Everyday she woke up sweaty and panic-stricken. Everyday she woke up to face the question: Why did she choose to live? Why did she choose to go on feeling these emotions, even though she'd face the same thing over and over again? Even though she was trapped in this vicious cycle like a caged bird?
"Because I know I won't feel pain."
A chuckle. But this deep, malicious chuckle was not from the child. As the chuckle died the child said, "and I'm afraid this is where it all changes. The laws of nature will apply to you even in this forsaken land, now that you've chosen to fight."
Kagome's brows suddenly twitched. "Excuse me?"
"This realm may not be in your home world, but the rules will be set in motion. From now on your form here will bare the scars that will be reflected on your body. You die here, you die there."
"No, no, that can't happen," Kagome said matter-of-factly. "This is a dream. I never feel pain here. And I've died here plenty of times before but I always wake up in the end."
"Humans can't grasp the concept of true slumber. When humans sleep their soul is entering another realm in order to sustain their mind while the human body is inactive. Sleep is comparable to what you call Death. However, the process is like that of a submarine. Your soul may sink during sleep but it will rise back up at the appropriate time."
"When…you wake up."
"Yes," she distinctly noticed a change in the shadows. A smile? "But when you face death, the soul goes to a different realm. The Netherworld. This is a one-way trip, unlike the submarine. It's identical to what happened to…what was it? The ship, Titanic; the soul sinks and never rise back to the surface."
Kagome shook her head, weary and confused. "I just don't understand. I just don't see what you…"
"I'm revealing the secrets of this world and the next, something many of you humans have killed for, and all you can say is you're too inane to understand?"
The teen's eyes widened, stunned by his lack of self-restraint. "How can you expect ME to-to be interested in what you're saying? I'm trapped in this cage and you expect me to believe that what I do in this nightmare will have consequences?"
"All you need to do is stay alive…"
He was gone. She didn't see how it had happened. There was no smoke or anything of that nature. He had simply disappeared. No puff of pixie dust or magic. She hadn't even blinked. He had simply vanished in front of her wide eyes, like the darkness had gobbled him up. But what was even more alarming was the door.
It was still open.
Heavy black smoke and crimson fire danced above the institution, twisting the grey sky in black and red. Tiny specs of black matter fell from the sky, light as feathers and small as snowflakes. Ashes, nothing but ashes, fell from the many chimney tops dotting the landscape. Every acre of this land had been overtaken by what looked to be industrial manufacturing companies. But despite the roars of the fire and the unending streams of smoke, the land was lifeless. Not a creature stirred, not even a fly.
Kagome, barefoot and still in her dreary hospital outfit, pitter-pattered across the tiled hallway, passing the open or cracked windows with great interest. This was the modern world, wasn't it? Built to produce by men to benefit mankind… yet at the same time it destroyed the natural beauty in life. How disgusting.
What she did not appreciate was the change inside the Asylum. The beige and red tiles had turned into a checkered, black and white pattern that stretched across the chilly hallway. The smokes and fires went unchanged outside, but the building itself had undergone an extraordinary transformation.
All is not well.
There was a loud, ear-shattering clang. Kagome halted in her tracks.
Do you wish to save it?
Kagome, against her better judgment, peeked around the corner. Nothing was out of the ordinary. It was another long corridor, a never-ending hall of checkered tiles and closed steel doors. As she studied the surrounding she could not disregard the single splotch of red, an oddity in the white and black floor. It was a glowing kitchen knife, almost designed to be a machete, with dark bloodstains on the steel and handle.
If you wish to go back to your wretched existence…
The voice was a low rumble, not quite feminine but not at all masculine. Kagome thought she saw the two white, slender ears with the black stripes float across the ceiling, but the sudden urge to blink gave the two tail-like ears the chance to vanish yet again.
I can send you back without any memory. Your dreams will go on, unaltered.
"What will I succeed in doing?" Kagome spoke, more to herself than the bodiless voice. "This is just a dream. Nothing I do here will matter in the real life."
A low rumble, like that of a lazy purr from a demon cat, was her response.
"Nothing here matters."
Do you not wish peace? Do you not wish salvation?
"Nothing here matters," Kagome repeated as she slowly stepped forward, fixated on the bloody weapon. "I will achieve nothing here."
Do you not wish to save…your mind?
Kagome did not speak. Her dry lips were firmly shut as she looked down at the red knife, glowing with the intensity of a white hot sun. There was something alluring about the knife, something sinful and forbidden. It was intoxicating. And it made the knife that much more desirable.
Salvage this land… Salvage your mind…
With a tender hand, trembling from the intense heat, she slowly reached for the knife. The floor had faded away. There was nothing there except for the knife.
"I want it." She wrapped her delicate fingers around the chestnut handle. Cold.
In the back of her mind, as the darkness slowly enveloped her sight, she imagined the Cheshire Cat grin.
AN: YEEEEEEEEES! First chapter to a hopefully very twisted story! Oh, one question for you readers out there.
Do you want the inevitably-but-still-surprisingly-sexy Halfling to make an entrance in the next chapter? Or do you want the Gothic…ness…ess…to continue on to the next chapter? Tell me lest I forget about the inevitably-but-still-surprisingly-sexy Halfling!