Time for Tea

The Mad Hatter sat comfortably in his chair, his feet resting comfortably on the desk before him.
He was slowly twisting the gears of a small pocket watch, which he held in his gloved hands. A strange
smile twisted around his face as he pulled back his tool. The gears began to twitch and slowly move, coming
alive and ending the Hatter's tedious work.

It had been only three years since Alice had left Wonderland and the Looking Glass. The world
had taken a dramatic change, for the worse no less, in the last few months. Odd as it was the Queen of
Hearts had approached him, asking the Mad Hatter to work for her only a few weeks earlier. He was
cautious, remembering a few of his encounters with her majesty around the time Alice had first visited their
world. He agreed when The Queen promised him what ever he wished.

The Mad Hatter began his quest for personal power. His mind was twisting into a strange blur
induced from mercury, and his odd fascination with clock work and time began to grow. The only way for
his experiments to work he needed assistants. The Mad Hatter thought of taking the March Hare and the
Dormouse as his assistants, but neither seemed right for the job. The Dormouse slept constantly and the
March Hare was too kind for such tasks that the Mad Hatter wanted done.

After a week of deliberation and late nights of building strange machines, the Mad Hatter thought
of the two he could wield as his pawns. He stole the Tweedles away from their forest home, strapping them
into the newly built machines. They begged to be set free, asking what they had done, and what happened to
him. The Mad Hatter was known through out Wonderland and the Looking Glass realm, and his joyous
presence was always a welcomed one.

"What do you want from us?" Tweedle Dum cried as red hot needles were slowly drilling into his
raw forearms. Tears rolled down his face and his cries turned to whimpers as the needles retracted.

The Mad Hatter leaned against the stone cold, metal table that Tweedle Dum. He looked at his
pocket watch and smiled. Tea time would be in a few hours. It seemed like everything was going his way.
If he was lucky the Tweedles would agree to assist him and he would treat them to his private party. It was
the least he could do.

"All I need is you and your brother to become my lackeys." the Mad Hatter explained, putting his
pocket watch away. He turned his eyes down to the frightened Tweedle. A smile crossed the Hatter's face
and he ran a hand through his black hair. "You will be given what ever you like in return for your full
service to me."

Tweedle Dum looked into the Hatter's eyes. "And what if we refuse?"

A sadistic smile crossed the Mad Hatter's face. He pressed a button on the side of the metal table.
The needles began to glow, growing hotter with every second. With another push of the button the arm
lowered, pushing the hot needles into the fresh wounds. Tweedle Dum screamed and began to jerk around,
his body convulsing with pain.

"How would you and your brother enjoy being me first experiments?" the Mad Hatter asked,
smiling. He laughed softly and pushed the same button, which retraced the metallic arm. "You would make
an interesting automaton. Since you two will be my first I think you'll be used as target practice for a few
new toys I've been creating."

Tweedle Dum twitched for a second, his eyes losing their focus as the pain from his arm grew. He
finally stopped his movement and his eyes focused on his captor. It had been nearly a year since anyone saw
the Mad Hatter. He had changed. His hair was black and long, his skin paled from months away from the
sun. He was slowly deteriorating into an insane person.

"What do we have to do?" Tweedle Dum asked wearily.

The Mad Hatter smirked. "You will serve me and do as I say. Your tasks are simple; collect the
wandering children in Wonderland. They've slipped into insanity and will be easy to catch. All you must do
is put them in the asylum and make sure they are well kept. I am building automatons which will aid you in
your watch."

"Why the children?" Tweedle Dum asked.

"They're mindless zombies, lost in our world." the Mad Hatter said with a crooked smile. He
caught Tweedle Dum's eye, and watched as he shuddered. "Soulless and mindless beings, wandering
endlessly. No one likes the sight of them. Placing them in an asylum will be best. My experiments wont
cause them harm. They are beyond feelings."

The Tweedles assisted the Mad Hatter without question. They were subjected to a few
experiments themselves, being injected with a strange concoction and small metal objects placed in their
arms and chest. They attempted escapes but soon found that the metal objects would emit electrical shocks,
which were controlled by the Mad Hatter, who seemed to see everything.

The chiming of the grandfather clock drew the Mad Hatter from his memories. He looked at his
pocket watch. It was nearly tea time. The Tweedles would soon be back with a few new children and see
to it that the Mad Hatter's new automatons were in working order. The Mad Hatter had little time for that
himself, building new machines and weapons everyday. His mind was warped and the machines that he
created was only fueling the preverbal fire.

A loud knock echoed through the stone room. The Mad Hatter smiled to himself. He turned in his
seat, pulling his legs away from the table, and stood. He pushed his hair back and placed his top hat on his
head. The knock sounded again and the Mad Hatter took his cane and began his walk towards the door. He
hummed to himself and the smile stayed on his pale face.

With a bright smile the Mad Hatter threw open the large doors. In the pale light before him was
the March Hare and the Dormouse. They looked at him, both a little frightened, and smiled happily at the
familiar face. The Mad Hatter smiled back and stepped to one side. The guests took the hint and walked
into the mansion. The Mad Hatter closed the doors behind them.

"I'm glad you both could make it early today." the Mad Hatter said cheerfully.

The March Hare smiled. "Anything for you, my friend. It has been some time since we've had tea
together, let alone a party!"

"Tea. . . ." the Dormouse said with a soft yawn. He blinked sleepily and looked at the Mad
Hatter. "When shall we have tea?"

The Mad Hatter pulled out his pocket watch and gazed at the time. "It is not yet six o'clock. We
have some time before tea." He placed the watch back in his pocket. He smiled and placed his arms around
his friends. "Since we have some time, I was wondering if I could show you something I've made."

"Why not? Like you said, we do have enough time." the March Hare smiled.

"Right! Follow me!" the Mad Hatter replied happily.

The three began to take their walk through the rooms of the Mad Hatter's strange mansion. Clocks
ticked in every room and the sound of gear whirred behind the walls. The March Hare was frightened by the
strange noises, but seemed content with the Mad Hatter's presence.

The Mad Hatter came to a stop at a large door. He smiled and pushed open the door, not
bothering to enter just yet. With a gloved hand he motioned inside the dark room. "After you!"

The March Hare smiled. "Thank you kindly!" he said, happily stepping into the room.

"Are we taking our tea in there?" the Dormouse asked.

"Yes we are, Dormi." the Mad Hatter replied, letting a smirk wash over his face. "I just want to
show you and Hare a few things I've made. After that, we'll take our tea in here."

The Dormouse seemed happy with the reply and walked into the darkness. Tossing his cane into
the air and catching it on it's descent, the Matter Hatter laughed to himself. He walked into the room,
closing the door behind him. Humming a soft song the Mad Hatter bolted the metal door shut, locking the
three within the room.