It wasn't a very big key. It was simple, black, but shaped a bit oddly--almost like a feather at the back. Or maybe a wing...She stared blankly at it, her earbuds pounding Emilie Autumn's Hollow Like My Soul, her cracked-screen iPod lying clenched in her onyx-skinned hand. Alice had plucked this key from her pocket on her walk back from the supermarket, her stolen groceries banging on her back, encased in the protection of her ragged leather pack-sack.
She frowns, her thin black brows drifting above her emerald eyes like thunder clouds over an ocean of forest. "I wonder what it opens...." she whispers to herself, looking around with interest. Could it open something nearby?
She starts wandering, knowing Momma Dear wouldn't bother to check if darling seventeen year old Alice had come home or not--Momma Dear would be too drowned in her alcohol to care. And Daddy Dear? How would he be able to tell where she was from Texas, several hundred kilometres south of her?
"So....Where to start looking?" Alice asks herself, feeling the material of her jeans chafe at the tender skin--she'd tripped and skidded on the sidewalk yesterday, chasing the guy who'd decided that groping her breast in the shopping mall would be a good idea.
Alice ducks her head as she passes the church--she hated looking at it....Memories of her Momma's wedding always came to mind.
That rat bastard that she married--what had Momma been thinking....!
How much Daddy Dear drank was psychotic....Even more than what Momma Dear did.
Alice shook her head, her ragged black curls bouncing over her chubby face. She was thinking too much! She'd never figure out this key, thinking the way she was....
And then she felt it.
A single tap on her shoulder.
She whirls, and spies--an angel.
His hair was jet black, fiery red, violet blue, and forest green. His eyes were a soft, tender gold--a gold that shimmered--as if they were backlit by a bonfire. His wings were massive, a ten foot wingspan or more, but despite the size of his wings he seemed to be only five feet tall, his spiked hair appearing to make up a good portion of his height. His clothes were elegantly simple--a simple black suit jacket, a Tool T-shirt, a silken tie, jeans. He was a mix of businessman and high school kid.
Alice liked him already.
He grins, revealing pointed teeth, and he reaches out an impossibly cold hand to push my chin closed. "Hello child of the night--would you like to escape from this world, and dedicate your life to constant adventure and freedom?"
Alice felt her mind go blurgh.
She barely heard herself speak, but she knew she answered: "Yes."
He grinned, and held out his hand: "Take it, little Alice, and follow me into Wonderland...."
Was he high?
Did it matter?
Alice shrugged, and she reached out, taking the offered hand that almost disappeared inside her grip. Such small hands he had! So delicate he was.
He leapt into the sky, his massive night-black wings snapping open, carrying her high into the air. He laughs, delightedly and maniacally, tossing her into the air above him and in front of him with a snap of his wrist so he catches her against his chest, his skinny skinny arms clutched around her, underneath her armpits. She can't bite back the screams that echo into the howling wind, but she doubts that anyone can hear her cries.
He carries her higher, higher, higher, into the sky. He laughs, his laughter somehow the only thing she can hear above the snapping of his wings and the wolf's howl of the wind. Her eyes snap shut and she shakes in his arms, clutching him so hard she fears that she might slip the angel's slim form.
Finally, they reach their destination--a tiny hut upon a cloud. He lands upon the cloud, and the mist drifts to reveal a platform of marble, floating mid-air. Alice lands on her butt, dropped a bit unceremoniously onto the platform. She blinks up at him, shivering in her ragged jeans and tattered blouse. "So, you came with me child," the angel remarks, "Without even knowing my name, I might add. I suppose you are just as hurt and as alone as I had feared....The key you found in your pocket, do you still have it?"
She nods, and holds out the key, still clenched tightly in her hand, now greasy with sweat from her fear. He takes it and examines it for an instant, before nodding casually and continuing to speak. "Child, do you want to be immortal? Do you want to be free?"
She nodded, biting her lip. Freedom from everything...!
He could see the desire and intentness in her eyes, so he lifted her to her feet and guided her towards the hut. "Once you use this key, you will say goodbye to your entire life. You will never again speak to anyone you know. You will create a new life as an angel. Do you understand this?"
Alice nodded, and looks at the keyhole. She bites her lip, tasting the blood--she must have bitten it harder than expected.
Alice slowly slides in the key, turns it, and is blinded by gold. Pain and bliss explodes through her body, incinerating and intoxicating every atom and cell, polluting and cleansing her completely. Memories crack and scatter like morning dew as the sun dries the tiny droplets.
When the process is complete and she has collapsed weakly, the angel leans down, and says ever so softly..."You are to be my wife."
She drifts into unconsciousness, her red wings spread across the granite.
~~TO BE CONTINUED~~