I NOW KNOW WHAT WRITERS BLOCK FEELS LIKE: SYMPTOMS INVOLVE IRRIITABLILITY, MINOR INSOMNIA, AND A CRONIC TENDANCY TO BANG YOUR HEAD AGAINST THE TABLE REPETIVLEY. BUT I'M OVER IT! AND THANK YOU WHO HELPED ME OUT! YOU GAVE ME THE GUTS TO DO THIS IDEA, AND I DON'T THINK I'D FORGIVE MYSELF IF I LEFT IT OUT! SO R, R AND R!

Ch. 42: Trip Trap

Well, Yuri gave us an abridged version of his background. His depressing, tragic background. And I thought MY life sucked.

And I'll save you the grief of when he discovered…well, you know. Honestly, I would write it, but I'll spare his pride as a man by not telling you he cried-woops. Sorry Yuri.

So to get you catched up, we're on the road again, trying to figure out where Alistair was hiding out. Yuri was taking the approach that he was hiding out in one of the places he and the gang used to hang around as kids. That helps a lot, cause apparently they had, like, 20 hide outs!

"Yuri, where are we going now?" We had already checked about 5 different locations, all nothing more than rubble. He glanced back to the rest of us, "Under the old bridge. Or what may be left of it." Ace sighed and scratched his head, "You really think he's there?" "I've reason to." Boris leaned in, "Well, why?" Yuri paused for a moment, "Because that's where he and Charlie went on their first date."

I stopped with him, yyyouch. He started walking again, "It was a lovely spot back then, even though the river had been dried up even then. If not him, then we'll defiantly find something useful there." I followed his gaze and saw he wasn't staring at anything in particular, just…gazing. Reminiscing no doubt.

I noticed the top beams of a building's second story had fallen over above, only to land in a bridge like manner on the lip of the building across from it. I also noticed the large, dark shadow it was casting across the path. Beware the shadows…. Alistair's warning flared through my mind and I reached out. Not for anyone in particular, but of course my hand somehow magically found its way to White's. He looked down, rather surprised, only to notice my obvious anxiety. He smiled, but didn't say anything. Instead, he stepped into the shadow, pulling me along after the others.

Of course, nothing bad happened. Am I paranoid?

After several more episodes of me being paranoid, Yuri stopped in front of a small trench. Actually, more like a dirt ditch. It was about 20 feet wide, maybe 7 feet deep, and I couldn't see how long it was. Yuri stood on the lip of the steep embankment and looked both ways before pointing to our left.

"There it is!" I must say, it must have been a pretty well-built bridge to have withstood the test of time and a massive beating. The architecture was simple: a stone bridge with high guard rails.

Yuri slipped down the steep slope and landed in the dirt on the floor of the embankment, turning back to beckon us to follow. Everyone followed suit, sliding down on their heels. Of course, poor Peirce fell on his face. After picking him up and dusting him off, and silencing Boris' laughter, I turned back and started making my way over to the bridge.

Within a minute, we were standing under the structure, now more afraid of it falling down on our heads as we saw the floor of it had several holes of varying sizes through it. I sighed as I looked at the underside, seeing it was far wider than anticipated: at least twice the width of the old fashioned wagons and buggies that used to commute across it plus room for pedestrians.

Again, the shade it provided from the sun put me in edge rather than relaxed me. I came back to the center to the others from the embankment I'd been standing by. "Ok, nothing here. Where next Yuri?" Yuri remained silent.

I frowned, "Umm…Y-" He hushed me, ears erect. "Do you hear that?" Boris and Peirce were both standing at attention, leaving White, Ace and I all standing in the dark…literally. Boris let out a low growl, "Oh yeah, I hear it."

I looked around me, still not hearing what they were talking about. Peirce sniffed the air, "Does anyone else smell…lemons?" I frowned and inhaled, also picking up the faint scent. However, it wasn't that fresh and clean smell that lemons normally give off. It was more like…someone had thrown lemon juice all over the spot a piece of meat had been rotting. It made my stomach do a little flip.

Yuri stood for a moment, also picking up the scent, before his eyes widened in horror. "Quick, get-!" Too late.

The ground started to tremble a bit, the strange, acidic smell getting stronger and more penetrating. I looked down at the ground near my boot and gasped, jumping back as something quite impossible started to tunnel its way through the dirt. A small sprout of an unknown species began to push up.

Yuri stiffened, grabbed my hand, and yanked me away from it. I noticed more sprouts, hundreds of them, starting to grow up around us, out of the embankment. And they were growing fast. Yuri shouted to everyone, "Get over here! And whatever your do, don't move a muscle!"

Even as he said that, the sprouts got taller, thinker, and started to sprawl across the floor. Within seconds, we were standing in the middle of a green carpeted mini-oasis. I gulped, not likening where this was going.

However, it didn't stop there: the vines started to creep up, up to the bridges underbelly. They crisscrossed the old stone, to the point they completely covered it. And then, some of the heavier vines dropped down, handing vertically to the point they touched the floor again.

And then the buds came.

Tiny, yellow flowers started to appear on the vines that hung and on the ones lining the embankment. The yellow blossoms quickly got bigger, in an instant becoming as large as my hand. Then they opened up, a beautiful, luminescent rainbow, even in the shadows, played across the delicate, pale yellow petals as small white shoots curled out from the center of each flower.

Then, all was dead still. We stood there in the middle of the lush vines and gorgeous flowers for a moment, before Ace tried to take a step. Yuri grabbed his shoulder, instantly stopping him. "Fool! I told you not to move! This is dangerous!" Boris leaned in, feeling the need to whisper. "Umm…Yuri, they're flowers. What's dangerous about them?"

Yuri growled, "The vines beneath your feet are pressure sensitive. You change that pressure, you kill us all!" I gulped, remembering the infamous Venus Fly Trap. I cautiously eyed a flower near me, aware of its threat but off put by its lovely appearance. The scent of lemons had progressed into the smell of ammonia, hanging thickly in the air and starting to burn my nose.

I gulped, "So what do we do Yuri?" "I don't know…let me think." He looked at each side of the bridge, both an equal distance form where we were standing. Then he started looking at the flowers, studying their positions. Maybe we could make a run for it?

Ace observed a flower, "…They're pretty." Yuri growled, more from concentration than anger, "I know. And deadly. Just don't move, alright?" I heard him murmur something to himself, "Thank the Dealer it's JUST the yellow ones."

I opened my mouth to ask what that meant, but instead, I let out a cry of pain as something snapped in my leg. I looked down, and screamed to see that on my leg, was a massive crystalline blue flower, clamped over my leg like a bear trap. Blood started to stain the cloth of my pale pants. It released me, allowing me to see the thick, pearly white teeth, now red, lining the edges of those thick, shimmering blue petals.

The pain from my calf was insane, burning far more than a regular bite should. "C.J!" I felt someone grab my shoulder as I swayed, trying to stay on my feet so I wouldn't trip the pressure. However, spots started to dance across my eyes and my vision tunneled, my head becoming cloudy and fuzzy.

Finally, my legs gave out and darkness engulfed me.

P.O.V Change: Yuri

As though I had cursed us all, C.J let out a scream that curdled my blood into ice. I turned to see a blue flower letting go of her bloodied leg, horror and fury set me on edge as I grabbed her shoulder, trying to keep her from recoiling. She looked at me, her brown eyes starting to haze.

…C.J isn't so weak as to let a little blood get to her…and these flowers are deadly, but they're not poisonous. So why…?

Despite my support, C.J crumpled to the ground, unconscious. I managed to wrap my arm around her torso, keeping her from falling on her head. I let out a sigh when the flowers didn't react. Peirce's eye widened, taking in C.J's slumped form. He reached out, confused and concerned, "C.J?"

I growled at him, "Don't move!" The Joker turned, "What on earth-!" Ace cut in, "What happened to her?!"

I pointed, "She was bitten. By that." All eyes widened even further at the sight of the bloodied teeth lining the blue flower.

I looked about, and then at C.J, and swore. "We've no time to plan this; we have to make a run for it!"

I glanced around and pointed to the right, the direction most of us were facing. "On the count of three, everyone run for the side of the bridge, and then keep running. Don't stop for any reason and keep your heads covered. White looked over to the blonde girl, "What about-" "I'll carry her," I cut in, "there's not time for a tradeoff."

I shifted C.J, ensuring her weight was still even on the vines. Luckily, she's a small girl and very easy to move. (If C.J were 'here' she'd probably say: "You know, I am 17 Petrov. Last I checked, you're 16, and that makes me your sempai." This would be followed by several bought of laughter and people petting C.J on the head and saying how adorable she was. She would then break their wrists.) I bent down a little so that when I started running, I wouldn't have to hesitate to actually pick her up.

I took a deep breath, ready for 'all hell to break loose', as C.J would say. I started the count down. "All right, are you all ready?...1…2…3!" We all took off at the exact same moment. The instant a single person raised their foot, the attack began.

There was a whistling by my ear and I felt the wind brush my face as the 3 inch barb narrowly missed me. I heard someone cry out in pain. I kept running, not daring to look back to see who'd been hit and if they were still up.

More and more spikes flew through the air, one of them catching me on the arm. I hissed out my breath, just thankful it didn't hit C.J. Another one of the others swore loudly, apparently getting hit. I looked ahead of me, seeing the edge of the vines and the end of the bridge. Almost there…. I closed my eyes and ran faster.

…..

I laid C.J down on the sand, watching her head. We were now far away from the bridge, out of the river bed. White came over and knelt down next to me, "Is she…?" I turned to him, "I'm not sure. Those flowers aren't poisonous: they rely on spearing prey to death." I heard the cat mumble as he yanked a smaller barb out of his tail, "Tell me about it."

Peirce came over and sat down, rubbing at a wound on his leg. "So then what's wrong with her? She doesn't look…like she's hurting." Indeed she didn't. She looked as though she were sleeping: dozing so lightly the smallest sound of the slightest touch would wake her.

I sighed and ran a hand through my hair. "I haven't a clue. Someone get a first Aid kit, we need to bind her leg before she bleeds out." Suddenly panicking, Peirce scrambled and dug through C.J's bag, quickly yanking out the kit and getting to work on the bite mark.

Ace came over, having pulled the thorns out of his jacket, and sat down as well. We now formed a ring around the foreigner. He frowned, "You think she just fainted?" White frowned, "She's far too tough for that." I nodded, "Yes, that's impossible…."

We all sat there for a moment, unsure what to do. Then Peirce poked her arm. Boris glared at him, "What the hell are you doing?!" Peirce shrank a little and shrugged, "I don't know…." "But it sure is fun!" We all turned to see Ace repeatedly poking C.J's uninjured leg. After getting his ears boxed, Ace pouted, sad that he'd been forbidden to touch C.J. EVER.

Joker sighed and reached out, brushing her bangs back. For a moment, I was tempted to smack his hand back and growl. Then, I saw IT.

P.O.V Change: Peirce

Yuri snapped, jumping to his feet and yelling what must have been swears. From 80 years ago.

I was so startled by his sudden outburst I fell back. I stared at him, "Yuri, what's the matter with you?!" He leaned down again and brushed up her bangs, just as the Joker had done. "It's not what's wrong with me; it's what's wrong with her!" I leaned in, seeing what looked like a slightly red crescent moon mark on C.J's forehead. A birth mark? That wasn't there before, was it?

Yuri snapped up to look at Joker, "Where is your counterpart?!" White looked about as confused as the rest of us. Come to think of it, I haven't' heard from Black since we started this 'trip'. "He's been dealing with prisoners. Why?" "Get him. Right now."

White nodded, not bothering to make Yuri explain himself, as he was really the only one around here who knew what was going on.

"Alright Petrov, what's so important you had to f****** interrupt?!" That was fast.

Yuri growled at the mask, "C.J is in grave danger. We walked into ANOTHER trap, and now, if you two don't do something, we're all doomed!" I gulped. "What the f*** are you talking about?!"

He huffed, "C.J is now the victim of Crystal Psychosis. It's an extremely effective, very deadly spell. C.J has about 24 hours to live." Everyone's mouth fell open. I tried to picture it…C.J…dead. DOES NOT COMPUTE.

White managed to close his mouth and rubbed his temples, trying like the rest of us not to freak out. "Ok, Yuri. Tell us exactly what's going on and what we have to do."

Yuri took a deep breath, "It's…a bit complicated, but I'll try. You see, Crystal Psychosis is a…strange spell. The preparation is simple, and the only thing needed for administration is to break the skin of the desired victim." He indicated C.J's now bandaged leg. "That much was easily done. The spell takes affect quickly, putting the victim in what appears to be a coma like state."

He scratched his head, "This is the part things begin to get strange. What makes this spell so effective is that not even the strongest willed people can break it without help. You see, it breaks the victims mind into two parts: Reason and Emotion." I frowned.

"By pulling apart the two separate things that make C.J, well…C.J, it effectively inhibits her from doing anything on her own. Reason and Emotion cannot work separately. It then places both sides of C.J's personality into scenarios that they won't feel the need to escape from; nor will C.J's parts remember who we are or even what is happening."

Ace rubbed his head, "Ok, so…C.J's mind is currently two different people, and we have to put them back together?" Yuri nodded, "Something like that." He turned to the Jokers, "That's where I need your help. The Joker has the ability to enter one's dreams; therefore, you can enter the spell, find C.J's halves, and pull them out of the spell."

White nodded, wordlessly, and Black remained silent. (I think he was finally grasping the severity of the situation.) Boris leaned in, "So…what do we do?" Yuri looked at the Knight, the Cat and I, "I need you three to help me search for the focal." "The what?" "The focal." Yuri cupped his hands into a sphere, "It should be a crystal ball about palm sized. It's the item being used to focus the spell. You see, the focal is what binds the spells fantasies and C.J's mind together."

Black spoke up, "What makes you so sure it's around here? Or that they haven't destroyed it yet?" "The focal must be within a half a mile radius of the victim. And they can't destroy it…not yet. First, C.J's personality must bind into the spell. This usually takes a day. Then they destroy it. And her."

I know I paled at that. He quickly continued, "I'm sure a troop of Alistair's little shadows are guarding it somewhere around here."

"Once C.J's mind is blended with the spell, destroying the crystal will shatter both the spell, and her mind. That will either kill her, drive her mad, or worse yet: leave her nothing more than a shell. But destroying it too early will break the spell altogether."

Boris hissed, "So why send THEM in?!" He gestured to the Jokers, "We'll just find the focal or whatever and smash it before C.J bonds to it!" Yuri shook his head, "That's too risky. If she's bonded to it too closely, there's a chance you could damage her mind. I'm not willing to take that risk."

I breathed deep. "Ok, so Joker goes in and gets C.J's mind together, and we get the focal. Then what happens?" "Then Joker brings C.J's halves back to her own mind. THEN we break the focal. Breaking that should wake her." Everyone nodded, slowly. I know everyone had the same thing on their minds: C.J's life depends on US…she's screwed.

Yuri inhaled, "Alright, are we ready?" We all nodded again, hesitantly. Yuri stood up and walked over to White. "We'll need something to keep in contact." White nodded and unclipped the white mask on his belt, fumbling at the clasp. He handed it over to Yuri. Black sounded from inside, "I've got the other one, so you should be able to hear us."

Yuri nodded and looked at White. "…Are you sure you want to go? We could call the Caterpillar. You're going into her MIND. You may see her memories, her past. Things she wouldn't normally tell a soul. It's a tricky business and you may find out more than you want to know." White didn't hesitate in his response, "She'll die if I don't. I can handle whatever skeletons are in her closet. I have more than my fair share."

Yuri stared at him, calculating, and then nodded. Addressing both Jokers, "This will no doubt be dangerous. C.J's halves won't remember you until you've separated from the illusion and the spell will try to stop you. WHEN you see anything, anything at all, contact me. …Now go."

White nodded and left, just like that.

We stood for a moment, silent. Yuri turned to us, "Alright, someone needs to guard C.J. Who here is the worst at tracking?"

HEY GUYS, I'VE GOT SOME NEW STORY IDEAS, AND I'D LIKE TO SEE WHAT YOU ALL THINK! (THESE ARE NOT ON THE POLL) AND YES, I'M AWARE THAT THEY'RE ALL ABOUT CHILDREN. CHILD STORIES SEEM POPULAR (AT LEAST, I ENJOY THEM) AND I'D LIKE TO TRY ONE! PLEASE TELL ME WHICH YOU LIKE BEST!

#1- I'M NOT A BAD KID, I SWEAR! SO WHAT IF I PUSHED A BULLY OFF A (SHORT) BRIDGE, OR GLUED MY BIG BROTHERS HAND TO A CYNDER BLOCK? I'M JUST A 14 YEAR OLD BOY WHO'S ADOPTED WITH SOME MINOR BEHAVIORAL PROBLEMS! I DIDN'T DO ANYTHING TO DISERVE THIS! – LOKI, A 14 YEAR OLD BOY, FALLS INTO WONDERLAND. OCXOC

#2- CHILDREN SHOULD NOT WANDER ABOUT ALONE, THAT MUCH IS KNOW. BUT WHAT WILL COME OF LITTLE ED WREAKING HAVOK ON A NON-SUSPECTING WONDERLAND? CAN THE ROLEHOLDERS LEARN TO DEAL WITH THIS 8 YEAR OLD LITTLE GIRL? – NO PAIRING, IT'S JUST FOR CUTENESS. :D THOUGH ALICE GETS SOME ACTION. ;)

#3- THE TWEEDLES AND THE JOKERS…IS THERE ROOM IN WONDERLAND FOR ANOTHER PAIR OF TWINS? APPARENTLY, YES. THE JOKERS WERE JUST MINDING THEIR OWN BUISSNESS WHEN A PAIR OF FOREGINE TWINS CAME BARRALING THROUGH THE CIRCUS, SCREAMING. NOW, MAXIMUM AND ZERO ALEKSEYEVNA, MALE AND FEMALE 10 YEAR OLD TWINS, MUST SURVIVE THE WORLD THAT IS WONDERLAND!- I REALLY SHOULDN'T HAVE TO SAY THIS, BUT NO PAIRINGS FOR MAX AND ZERO. I'M NOT THAT MESSED UP. OF COURSE, IT WOULDN'T BE A HnKnA STORY IF I DIDN'T LET ALICE GET SOME! ;)