I. Less Than Wonderland

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"The lord is my shepherd, I shall not want. He maketh me to lie down in green pastures..." The reverend, or whatever everyone called him, continued on with the same old speeches he had probably used at thousands of other funerals. I was barely listening to a word he was saying. All I could do was stare at my mother's coffin, see her cold, dead face and how her hands were folded neatly over her chest. She never slept like that. Of course, I knew she wasn't asleep. But still. I hated mortuaries for ruining the way people--corpses--were supposed to look.

I sighed and leaned back in my chair; a single tear caught me unawares, but I didn't bother to wipe it away. I felt a soothing hand on my back. Turning slightly, I could see that it was none other than Riley, my long-time friend. Right now, he was my support, my life-line. Ugh…I really needed to stop all the ooey-gooey feeling-laced emotions thing. It was getting bothersome.

I couldn't really say that I had ever cared much for my mother--at least, I didn't try to. My goal in life was not to ever get attached to anyone. Though, I had failed several times, attempts futile. I brushed a stray red hair out of my eyes and sat back against Riley's hand. I didn't normally act this way. I always tried, despite the calamity ensuing daily and attempts by others to foil my mask of indifference, to be stoic and uncaring. But not today. After all, there was a time and place for everything.

Finally, everyone began to stand. It was time to throw the roses. With one swift motion, I approached the coffin as it was being lowered into the ground, and threw a single white lily (my pick, seeing as white lilies stood for long lasting love and remembrance, rather than a red rose which was associated with infatuation...blah blah blah). I laughed at myself and my rantings, despite the situation.

Riley ushered me forward, and I found myself being led to his car.

Shortly afterwards, he pulled up into my yard. "Sure you don't want me to stay, Fina? You probably shouldn't be alone." He looked up at me with weary eyes. I smiled back, but my soul was heavy--and it showed in my eyes. He saw it, but nodded nonetheless.

...

After he left, I trotted up the stairs, wanting to fall into a deep, depressive sleep. But, on an odd peripheral viewpoint, I found myself glancing at the staircase to the attic. And thus, I began my ascent, step my slow step. At this point, I had wished that there was a Scotty to beam me up instead--I was exhausted beyond belief.

I finally reached the attic door. My hand felt like I was sifting through pure cane syrup as I crept forward for the handle. I gulped; I had always had an irrational fear of attics. Though, I had an irrational fear of almost everything. The handle turned, and the door clicked open. As I entered, I brushed down the frill edge of my black dress and exhaled deeply. Immediately, I spotted a thick, leather-bound book sitting atop a pile of boxes, and it was beaming in the light--just like from a movie.

"Okay then," I chuckled. "If this isn't a sign, I don't know what is." So, taking the horror-movie hint (not something I would suggest), I let my child-like curiosity get the better of me and I approached the book. On the front., it read:

Cinniúint de Banphrionsa

The text felt strangely peculiar. I scoffed. And I feel like Alice...And so, doing what Alice would do, I began to open the book. "Curiouser and Curiouser..."

All of a sudden, when I opened the book, I was consumed with a thick, black light. It quickly engulfed my entire body, and I found that the sucking noise being made was, in fact, me gasping for air; my lungs felt as if they would collapse at any moment. The sensation continued for the longest time until I smashed against a hard surface.

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