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With Friends Like These…

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The dungeons to The Red Queen’s castle was horrid…the floors were covered in vein like vines all the way down the hall,each cell was inclosed tightly and it was nothing like an average Jail cell. The cellars were damp and freezing when it was cold…humid when it was hot,but never in between. Most of the cells were barley enough room for three people let alone one; full of rocks and the walls were cracked,stuffed with mosses and wrapped in vines,the floors were about as cold as the atmosphere;you got a bucket to do your business in and a towel to lay on,ever so often you were Joined by a half-dead card-knight to shove a grimy half-eaten meal through the bars to finish off every other norm-meal. There were rats that traveled across the floor and cockroaches at that,so you had to eat what was left with your fingers before any of those got it.

These were the conditions for The Hatter,only ten times worse…He’d been in his cell so far for only three days,but unlike the other prisoners,he was getting experimented on,they plugged him up and poked him with chemicals,tore him to pieces and when every other test failed they’d throw him back in the cell for three more days,ever so often ‘Forgetting’ to feed him. He was near the age of fifteen and sixteen,He’d been down there many times before but never for this long…He sat hunched against the cell wall;knowing he was never going to go back to what he had begun to call ‘the normal life’ Never going home to see his family…not even Alice could save him if she tried,and he knew she wouldn’t,He was just a hat maker…

but now he wasn’t so sure. He still looked like a young boy at the time,he had short shaggy dark brown hair,stubby fingers and a small hunched back when he lent against the wall. Pale skin and dark eyes as wide as any young boys were. his skin was freezing and he sat digging his newly grown claws against his tattered t shirt,bleeding where he’d already clawed at before…The queen and her FUCKING experiments turned him into some horrid baby animal;his normal fingernails were curved and sharp like a cats; thick and long like a kamodo dragons just starting to grow. His eyes were loosing there natural color to a orangish hue as he stared out from under his bangs,his chin on his knees and his breath showing from the atmosphere.

“Wakey Wakey Little buddy!” He heard a older boys voice crackle from outside of his cell,and if he had never looked up when the male had stepped in front of the bars; He would have mistaken him to be his older brother…But alas,it wasn’t,it was-“Isah?” Hatter breathed,his voice sounding like a scared child’s as he lifted his head to look at his old friend,The knave…He was dressed in dark clothes,royal clothes tucked under a thick chest armor that was black and layered like reptiles skin,plated leg pieces over a thick coating of pants tucked into black boots,a red engraved sword holster tucked away at his sides…His long curly black hair’s ends damp as they tucked against his neck and his narrow brown eyes staring down at him as if he were a dog begging for food.”Don’t call me that.” He scowled at him…Isiah never scowled at him like that- they were friends….or at least he thought. Hatter nodded slowly before trying to clear his throat,it was hard to get water down there when they splashed buckets in at a time not letting you get any on your own….”Then what do I-”

“It’s stayne now. It’s what the queen calls me,It’s what you will call me.” He said,his tone firm and posture straight. He looked like a grown man,Isiah never looked like that…He always appeared to be a young mischievous kid,the same kid that teased the bandersnatch with him as they grew up,played pranks on the suits,faught of the card knights and snuck deserts off the dinner table with- like an older brother,an actual one almost like Victor…one who he never got to know…but now….this wasn’t him it- was…something else

“Stayne…” He repeated quietly,then tried to sit up before going on,

“Did they-…do to you what-….they’re doing…to me – why are you…”

“They haven’t done anything to me Andrew.” He huffed.”I have been living the natural life up with the queen,respecting her and taking her orders as I always have done…Unlike you….Maybe if you would have done the same you wouldn’t be down here…” He said,staring down at him without moving. Hatter stared at him wide eyed before working up more strength to speak

“But I…I’ve done everything you’ve done…” He almost whispered and Stayne laughed.

“Not exactly.”

“Not Exactly- Is-Stayne…I thought you were here to…to get me out- to save me,Friends up til death I thought-”

“No!””Wh-at?””You STILL don’t get it do you Andrew?! The reason you’re In here is because YOU FAILED.””What??”

“If I would have followed your schemes the whole way,I’d end up Just where you are…someone had to stop you- you’re an animal,Hatter- you belong in there- Me,I’ve found my place…by the queens side…where I was always met to be…” Stayne smirked,one hatter never thought he’d see out of him before,it was different,when they were kids. Hatter was trying to process this,now on his feet when he stammered out,”But I thought…we were friends…we were supposed too-”

“Friendss?” He crackled and it made Hatter wince and even more when he went on,”I /Was/ Your friend, we USED to be friends….then the queen saw you as her most prized possession…she always smiled upon you- a broken cause that could easily be tinkered with and fixed…and because of that all of HER attention went to you-”

“But that’s not true! She DOES love you more Stayne- Look at me,Im in here- You’re there- things are better now they-”

“/No/ Hatter’ that isn’t how it works…I was here first you hear me?! ME! NOT YOU! I WAS THE QUEENS PRIZED POSSESSION. I WAS LIKE HER SON- THEN-…Then YOU came along- and FUCKED IT ALL UP!” He hissed,gripping the bars as he shouted at hatter;making him fall back again.”She always looked to you when she needed something done,something good or something bad”

“But-…we were in the same thing together that’s what she wanted…that’s what she made..all of us do…we-”

“How stubborn can you GET Hatter? when are you going to open your eyes and See there’s more to it Then that? when you were up there,stuffing your face with cobbler and ground berries pudding I was down here- It was ME in that cell- YOU came around and I was tossed away like Trash- Like I never existed…”

“Isiah- I…I’m sorry I didn’t realize I-”

“DON’T FUCKIN CALL ME ISIAH!” He snapped.”Stayne…” Hatter corrected slowly,

“I didn’t mean to upset you…to take your place,I just thought…””You did take my place. and now I’m taking it back.”

“But if I was doing something wrong you could have said it instead of Pretending to be my friend!””I DID tell you, you were doing something wrong- Hatter You were ALWAYS,doing something wrong…and I woke up- when I grew up…and I realized,that all that happened to you-…you deserved,every bit of it- and I was done…following you.”

“But I…” Hatter trailed,looking down at his palms feeling a cracking in his chest when stayne spoke on,

“Now the queen is STILL trying to fix you-…she’s to clouded in the head to realize- You CAN’T be fixed-…and now,you’re going to rot down here,like the animal they’re turning you into…” He said softly as he leaned into the bars,and suddenly Hatter felt his eyes light up with fury,that orange/amber hue sparked in his chocolate gaze and made him look furious as he lashed out and gripped the bars with his bony fingers and toned claws,snarling at him with pointed teeth when he spoke

“I’ll fucking kill you!” But the knave only recoiled for a moment to look upon ‘the experiment’ with a disgusted expression before responding slowly,”No Hatter…You won’t. Because you’re in there. and I’m out here…Just Like it should be. and should have always been.” He said dryly,then turned away,Hatter now saw what looked like a tattered red cape that hung off The Knave’s shoulders,the Red Queen’s engraved marks circling it as he walked away from the cell.

“GET BACK HERE! You coward! I’ll Kill you- I will I swear!” Hatter repeated,again and again he smashed his fist against the bars until they were bloody and bruised,until finally the knaves laughter as he left cut Hatter off and left him sinking against the bars,sobbing hopelessly inside his empty cell.

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