Hello! Good day! Bonjour! Allow me to present my newest work, Paper Faces, being a companion to my last work, Thriller Night. As always, I ask you, the readers who make my day, to read and review. That is all…enjoy!
Warning/Notice: This story will be chaptered. The first part, which is what you are about to read, is very morbid and may be disturbing to some readers. You have been warned and notified.
Rating: T (FOR GOOD REASON!)
Disclaimer: If I owned Tim Burton's Alice in Wonderland, would I even be on this site? Not likely! The song here is Stranger Than You Dreamt It from Phantom of the Opera. I have altered the lyrics just slightly for the story. I do not own the song either. The rights for that go to Andrew Lloyd Weber. Please, don't sue me!
Summary: Love never dies. But it does have its trials, especially that between a cat and a mouse… Chessur/Mallymkun.
Chapter I: Devil's Eyes
Mallymkun was running through Tulgey Woods. She wasn't running FROM anything, though…rather, she was running TO something. To someone. To Chessur.
The dormouse hadn't seen the cat since (a particularly thrilling) Frighetnacht. She'd fallen asleep at some point, still lying against him, his furry body coiled like a snake about her own, and awoken back in bed in her teapot house. That was four days ago.
She had to find him. She had something to tell him…he needed to know. Maybe he already did know, but she wanted to know how he felt…she needed to.
Tarrant refused to come.
"If tha' slurvish feline gut himself lost, good riddance!" he'd snorted. For the first time in her life, Mallymkun wished she was human, so she could slap the Mad Hatter across the face.
She settled for stepping on his finger, and ran off before his confusion and surprise could change into fury. She didn't even bother to ask Thackery; the Hare wouldn't leave the tea table for anything unless Tarrant gave the okay. He hated to leave in the middle of the party.
Mally stopped only when she reached the area of the Woods she knew Chessur would likely be in: it was a mile or so from his house, west from the burbling brook, a grove of orange trees that, from the air, looked like three intertwined circles. She'd seen the Cheshire Cat here more than anywhere else when she travelled through the woods, so she figured that if Chess wasn't here, he'd be home.
"Chessur! Chess! Are you there? I want to talk to you!"
Mally froze and looked around. That was the cat's voice, but he hadn't spoken to her like that before…ever. (Well…not for a long time, anyway.) Cautiously, she reached for her pin-sword.
Mally stopped. The cat's voice was at a distance, in the circle farthest from her. She rolled her eyes, smiling, thinking that Chess was playing one of his pranks on her, and followed the sound of his voice. But as she got closer to his voice's sound, she became less sure of whom he was speaking to…
"Wow. That's got to hurt…again! And again! Hold on just one minute…that looked like it hurt even more…OW! Slurking little…! You SCRATCHED me! Now that was just plain rude! Looks like I'll have to teach you some manners…"
By the time Mally got to the third and final circle, she was fairly certain Chess wasn't talking to her. She was behind a tree, and from how close his voice sounded, guessed he was on the other side. Her heart seemed to be skipping a few beats with anxiety; she could hear Chessur purring, and amidst his purrs she heard a soft, cooing, whining noise, like an animal – definitely not the Cheshire Cat – whimpering in pain and/or fear. She paused, and felt herself take a breath, as she whipped around the tree to see…
Time slowed. Stopped. Her heart did a double-take. Her stomach flip-flopped. Her white fur became even paler than usual.
There sat Chessur, his claws and fur covered in blood. What had once been a bird, now plucked of all its feathers, its tears mingling with the blood pouring from its body, was in his grip. It looked at him, hopeless and pleading. Bright blue feathers covered the ground.
There was murder in the cat's eyes. For the first time ever, Mallymkun saw him as the feral and ferocious killer of birds and mice he was.
Why was it so hard to breathe suddenly?
"Well, little one," purred Chess in a cruel and twisted tone of voice to the bird, "I'm feeling very hungry, and my stomach very much wants to see you, so I guess that means the party's over. We had fun though, right?"
The bird said nothing. It made another cooing whine and closed its eyes.
"Well…perhaps a smidgen more fun for me than for you…I'm just guessing, really, seeing as how you're being awfully quiet. Anyway…do me a favor, will you?"
The bird opened its eyes and looked at the cat quizzically, hopefully. Chessur's smile now revealed each and all of his teeth. His voice dropped to a husky, dark whisper. His words shattered the bird's last hopes.
"Please, tell God I said…HELLO. Fairfarren!"
And without another word, Chessur opened his mouth and tossed the mutilated blue bird inside. He chewed a few times, and then swallowed. He opened his mouth again and let out a pleased purr.
His teeth were tinted scarlet.
Mally wretched, and clapped a paw over her mouth.
Chessur froze. Tensed. Slowly, he turned towards Mallymkun.
His eyes flamed with hurt and rage. Mally gulped instinctively.
Keep calm, part of her said. He won't hurt you. He was just hungry, and he IS a cat. He won't hurt you…
Run! another part screamed. Run, Mally! Run, before you become his lunch!
Fight! a third part roared. Fight, you foolish girl! You saw what he did! He killed that bird, he tortured it, show him the same pain!
Between the three, she was frozen.
"You…j-just…" she choked, and stopped, speechless and shocked.
Chessur growled, eyes narrowing into thin slivers of aquamarine. Without warning, he pounced, hissing loudly. Mally reached for her pin-sword…too late! The dormouse found herself pinned tight beneath a bloody paw, the cat above her, glaring at her with a wild, crazed look. All semblance of the Chessur she knew was gone from those eyes; instead, she saw an angry, ravenous beast.
"BLAST YOU!" he shrieked. "YOU LITTLE PRYING PANDORA! YOU LITTLE DEMON! IS THIS," he gestured at his dripping fangs, "WHAT YOU WANTED TO SEE?"
Before Mally could respond in any way, the cat picked her up and slammed her against a tree. She gasped in pain, her breath stolen from her. And there was the cat, one of his blood-stained claws on her jugular, dangerous and angry and horrifying and…
"CURSE YOU! YOU LITTLE LYING DELILAH! YOU LITTLE VIPER!" spat the cat, splattering her with blood and saliva. "NOW YOU CANNOT EVER GO FREE!"
He pulled back his claw, as if to impale her through the neck. She closed her eyes, sucking in a small breath. This was it. The one she had once considered to be, at the very least, her dearest and oldest friend was going to kill and eat her.
But Chessur didn't strike. He slowly lowered his claw, eyes widening with his pupils, his bristling fur flattening out.
In the name of Mirana, he thought. What am I doing?
He was hurting her. HIS friend. HIS dormousey. HIS Mallymkun. HIS.
With a soft snarl of self-recrimination, he dropped her and turned away. He whirled, his claws slashing at a tree and breaking off a branch.
"Blast you…" he growled, now speaking to himself. "Curse you…"
He licked his teeth, cleaning them of the blood he was sure still lingered and swallowing it down to join the body it came from. Mally just stared at him, hoping her eyes didn't reveal the horror she felt.
Then, for reasons even he did not know of, Chessur began to sing. His velvety voice was broken with tears:
"Stranger than you dreamt it, can you even dare to LOOK? Or bear to THINK of me, this loathsome GARGOYLE, who BATHES in death, but, secretly, yearns for heaven? Secretly, secretly…"
He took a deep, coppery breath and turned to her. The disgust and betrayal in her eyes made him flinch.
Mallymkun squeaked and fled, crying bitterly. Chess sighed.
"Yes," he murmered sadly. "Run. Run, before I can hurt you again."
Chessur leaned against the tree, his forehead on the bark. He exhaled through his nose, the scent of birdy blood strong in his nostrils. He sang another verse:
"Fear may yet turn to love. She'll learn once again to find the truth beneath the monster…this repulsive feline, who seems a beast, but, secretly, dreams of being loved. Secretly, secretly…"
He stared at the feathers scattered around, and picked one up. It was white; once it had been a tail feather. He ran a claw along its soft, downy edge.
"Sweet Mally," he murmered, his guilt now overwhelming his being. "I will make it up to you…somehow. I swear it…"