Chapter One: Birth

From time to time, I think that everyone can become a little carried away with his or her imagination.

The world seemed to be spinning in chaotic whirs without any sign of consistence or pattern, throwing her in all directions and yet without any sign of direction at all. Bright flashes of reds and oranges flew by in disorienting spasms like fireworks bursting in a moonless sky. A heaviness fell suddenly onto her understanding, sending a shockwave through her brain. The weight constricted her in a most unpleasant way, removing the sensation of flying through the nothingness. She felt suddenly empty, yet at the same time somehow more purposeful with the new change of existence. Slowly, she was able to understand that part of the heaviness she felt was due to a mass she soon recognized to be her body.

Then, as suddenly as she was able to discern that she had a concrete existence at all, she could feel the intense whirl of nausea and vertigo lift from her stomach and up her throat to pour out in great spastic surges from her mouth. It felt as if the oppressive weight she felt had been pressed with mercilessly cruel strength down upon her ribcage, for the act of breathing seemed far too laborious to be normal.

Her eyes fluttered slightly before she was able to open them and realize that she was lying down. A blaring brightness made her wince, but as of the moment, she could do nothing about it. She understood now that she had a body, but still, she held no control over it. Her eyes flicked about; trying to tell the difference from the strange nothingness she was emerging from, to this new reality lapping at the edges of her consciousness. Slowly, cognitive recognition returned to her as she carefully tested each of her limbs.

Shakily, she hoisted herself up into a sitting position, her head spinning from her enfeebled state. Her mouth was sour and left uncomfortably dry from the puddle of bile she had just ejected from her mouth. Disgusted, she turned her head from the sight and coughed, blinking at the brightness all around her and wiping her face with the back of her hand. Her vision was too blurred to discern anything of her surroundings, but she could sense that she was definitely outdoors.

A light breeze kissed at her cheeks and stirred her hair. Something beneath her itched slightly, and as her vision cleared she was able to recognize that she was sitting in a field.

Tall grasses flicked about all around her and wildflowers intermixed into the chaotic flow of the meadow's vegetation. The air smelled of sweetness, but all was strangely silent. Large white clouds floated overhead, but not a single bird sailed in the expanse of brilliant blue that created the sky.

However, as she tuned her vision, she soon realized that the great azure sky was the only thing brilliant in the field. The grass was not green, but browned and decayed and the flowers' dilapidated petals drooped in degradation. A strange, light purple haze covered the breathless field and the adulterated flora crackled beneath her as she shifted in surprise at her surroundings. Instinctively, she covered her nose and mouth with her hand, terrified that the purple mist was some sort of toxic gas. Perhaps that explained the powerful sickness fermenting in her stomach and why it seemed so difficult to breath.

Carefully, she attempted to rise into a standing position, but failed. Her legs, she found, were much too weak to support her entire weight and so buckled beneath her with each attempt to right herself. She gave a cry of frustration and began crawling as best she could through the swaths of crackling grasses towards a large wood not far away, for it appeared that the haze extended only across the field.

The jagged edges of snapped stalks and unseen thorns pulled and scratched at her body and the hard-packed earth scraped her elbows, but she continued on, only caring about escaping the noxious air. She struggled with her memory as she moved, trying to find some sort of explanation as to how she had gotten there. But she could remember nothing about herself prior to awakening in this strange and eerie place. The more she thought, the more her head ached, and so she decided to put it off until she had reached the safety of the trees and had a chance to calm herself properly.

At last, she broke through the horrid grasses and crossed over into the deep shadows of the forest. Immediately, breathing became a much easier task, but the lack of need for effort made her cough violently for a few seconds. She continued to crawl until she was a good distance away from the edge of the field, then collapsed, lying on her stomach across the damp bed of leaves that made a much softer bed than the broken vegetation she had just escaped.

Her head ached fiercely as she caught her breath, her head clearing properly in the clean air.

"How did I get here?" she whispered, her eyes hopelessly scanning the new area. Her voice sounded odd to her ears and the lack of memory made her tremble. As she felt the strength return to her limbs, she rolled onto her knees and pulled herself to her feet.

The trees loomed over her head as their dark branches reached for the unnaturally bright sky. She moved forward and laid her hand against one of the mighty trees' wide bases, inspecting the strange bark. It was blackened and cracked, charred, as if flames had engulfed every tree to their very highest branches. However, lush, emerald leaves grew in excess from each tree.

How strange, she thought, as she continued through the woods.

There was no other vegetation besides the bizarre trees. Not a single trace of any flowers, grass, or even moss. The air was damp and stuck to her skin, teasing her dry mouth with its unattainable moisture.

She wondered suddenly where exactly she planned to go next. There appeared to be no trace of any other people and she had no idea how far these woods extended. She could wander forever until she died of hunger or thirst, for there certainly didn't seem to be any signs of water or something to eat. The idea made her walk faster, as if that somehow would save her from such a fate. Her want of answers was quickly pushed away by the need for survival.

She found that the utter lack of noise did not isolate itself to the field, but extended to this new area as well. The sounds of her feet stepping across the bed of leaves beneath her sounded deafening compared to the estranged silence that seemed to clog her throat as much as the purple mist behind her had. It made her eyes dart around uneasily and her muscles tense in the expectation of the need to flee. From what, she didn't know, and hardly wanted to find out.

A sudden memory crackled like wildfire into her mind, triggered by the thought of flight, and she abruptly halted on the forest path.

She could see from the eyes of a very young self, running from something with all the speed that her little legs could muster. However, she wasn't afraid. Instead, she was laughing, willing her shoes to move faster across the hard pavement beneath them. Something pushed at her back on the space between her shoulder blades and a voice behind her cried, "Tag," then louder, "Rue is it!"

She squeezed her eyes shut as the memory fled and left her with this new knowledge igniting like a flame in her mind. The warmth of recognition spread in waves through her body, raising shivers of pleasure down her spine.

Rue. Her name was Rue.

Rue stepped forward with more vigor now, happy that she now knew something of herself. She had a name. It was a glorious realization that seemed to give her more purpose and she actually smiled, her lips curving a small degree upwards in satisfaction. She really felt like a person now, more real in the world and readily able to handle herself and the strange situation she had somehow ended up in.

"Rue," she said, testing her newly found identity on her tongue to find that she liked the name. "My name is Rue."

"Well, isn't that fascinating," a sudden secondary voice drawled sarcastically.

Her heart leaped into her throat and she froze at the unexpected vocalization. A chuckle sounded above her, followed by a rustling of leaves, and she slowly lifted her gaze, both terrified and ecstatic that she was not alone.

Perched high in one of the trees slightly ahead of her was what appeared to be something almost human. He was lying down on his side, his head propped up in one hand, stretched out in what appeared to be complete lazy relaxation along a thick branch. Inhumanly large, half-lidded yellow eyes stared out at her from a large head. His eyes, however, were not the strangest things about him. Protruding out from his head, under shoulder-length purple hair, were two purple, furry animal ears, much like a cat's, and draped across the branch beside him was a plump, striped purple tail. He wore a grin that seemed much too large, even for his oversized head, and his tiny, upturned nose was tinted pink. Large fangs protruded over his thin lips and his spindly, elongated fingers tapped absently against the bark of the tree. He appeared to be wearing nothing but a thin, purple robe that reached just past his knees and the scandalous amount of pale skin it showed made her breath catch. His skin was as pale as snow, a weird and somehow wonderful contrast to the black bark beneath him. He seemed beautiful in a most terrible way.

Rue stared in horrified fascination at the creature as he pulled himself into a sitting position, his tail slipping off the branch to swing contentedly in the air beneath him. He sat on his heels, bouncing slightly, and his arms looked much too long in proportion to the rest of his body as they hung between his legs, swaying back and forth ever so slightly. Dagger-like claws, each at least six inches long, curved out from the end of each one of his fingertips.

He cleared his throat.

"I find it awfully rude to stare, though I must admit that I do it all day long. Have you finished yet? Because I certainly finished staring at you quite awhile ago."

His voice was a low, sultry rumble that caught in the back of his throat like sweet, sticky honey. He spoke slowly, in no hurry to get his words across to her.

Rue gulped, quickly averting her eyes and muttering a quick apology.

"I-I'm sorry."

"Oh, la-dee-dah-dah. Fix your dress, Sweetie, I can see your thighs," he purred, narrowing his golden eyes and smiling a little wider.

Her mouth opened in surprise and she looked down, fumbling in embarrassment with the hem of her apparent dress, which had indeed been riding up her leg a rather indecent amount. She hadn't paid much attention to what she was wearing before, but now she looked more closely.

She wore a dress, striped with lighter and darker shades of purple. The collar was scooped low, but not scandalously, and the sleeves reached to her elbows. Beneath the dress, she wore a pair of black stockings, her small feet tucked neatly into a pair of black flats. The outfit stirred no memories within her.

Another rustling of leaves made Rue look up once more at the cat-like man staring down at her. He had risen up to a standing position, and shortly after being noticed by her again, leapt down onto the ground. He landed barely three inches from her, crouched slightly so that their eyes met, and she let out a quick shriek of surprise, stumbling backwards and away. His only response at her fright was to laugh and step forward again. He seemed determined to be uncomfortably close to her.

"Well then, Rue," he purred, his lips curling back as he spoke to reveal an excessive amount of tiny, pointed teeth, "how do you do?"

He chuckled again, as if satisfied with his little rhyme, and eyed her expectantly. Her still dry throat ached as she attempted to swallow, biting her lip.

"I'm…fine," she answered carefully, wary, and yet drawn in by the creature swaying before her. He narrowed his eyes once more and startled her by leaning much, much too close, pressing their noses together. His breath smelled of a metallic odor that she quickly recognized as blood, making her wince. She didn't want to think about why his mouth would carry the scent of blood and she tried to turn away, only to feel a sharp grip on her shoulder pull her back.

"Nasty little liar, now, aren't you," He hissed darkly, his low, gravelly voice making her shiver.

"If you were doing fine, my dear, then you wouldn't be here."

She didn't have time to attempt making sense of what he could possibly mean before he pulled back and licked her nose with a sandpaper tongue. She cried out in disgust and surprise, wrenching away from him and wiping fervently at the skin he had tainted. His head fell back in loud, raucous laughter and he clutched at his sides, giggling like a maniac. Rue stared at him, horrified. She wanted to run, but the sudden thought that he might chase her rooted her to the spot.

At last, his laughter subsided and he immediately allowed his legs to collapse unnaturally beneath him, landing him in an awkward sitting position. His luminescent yellow eyes watched eagerly and he curled a finger at her, signaling for her to sit as well. She paused, but too afraid to disobey him, sat, tucking her legs underneath her and smoothing her dress. His grin widened in satisfaction.

"We match you know," he said rather matter-of-factly, gesturing to her purple dress and eyeing her expectantly as if he thought that would mean something to her. Unsure of how to respond, she simply nodded. He licked his lips.

"So what can I do for you?" he asked casually as he trailed a finger down his exposed chest, his head beginning to tilt in a not so casual way until it was completely horizontal. The disturbing posture made Rue shift and avert her eyes.

"Tell me where am I, perhaps?" she questioned uneasily. The impish-feline sat up straight immediately, an offended look crossing his wide face.

"Perhaps?" he cried, his voice pitching strangely high.

"Perhaps, you rude little thing, is not my name!"

Rue blinked, her brow pulling down in confusion a moment before she understood that he had misinterpreted her words.

"That isn't what I meant!" she replied rather boldly, despite the fear she felt at the creature's obvious irritation. However, his grin returned rather suddenly and he leaned towards her, sticking the tip of his tongue out through his sharp teeth. She wondered for a moment how the pointed incisors did not cut through the small tongue and leaned away from him, wary of another licking.

"Then what did you mean?" he replied in a strangely challenging tone. Confused by his odd conduct, Rue paused, and the creature took the moment to speak again.

"You are nowhere. You are everywhere. You reside within the nothingness that is only what the nothingness of everything could possibly be. You are here, my dear."

Rue stared at him, slightly frustrated that he had indeed known what she had meant in her question, and at the same time puzzled by his answer. He didn't say anything further, but sat there in silence, watching her perplexed reaction with amused interest. Distantly, she thought she heard a strange sort of gurgling sound, but was too lost in her thoughts to take any notice of it.

Rue had no idea what else to say to the creature, having the feeling that any question asked would receive the same sort of nonsensical and obscured answer. However, she was still too afraid to attempt leaving, worried that the action would somehow anger him into attacking her. So far, he had done nothing threatening; only disturbed her and made her rather uncomfortable. Still, things never have razor sharp teeth and long, dagger-like claws for no reason. And there was also the lingering scent of blood on his breath. Surely that proved that he was no docile creature.

"Are you satisfied, then?" he asked rather suddenly, his voice seeming overly loud after the long silence. Rue simply looked at him a moment, then, slowly and carefully, she nodded. The strange, feline-like man coughed and leapt to his feet in one fluid motion. He stared down at her and crossed his elongated arms, raising his thin eyebrows. Taking the hint, she hurriedly scrambled to her feet as well, with much less grace and skill than he had.

"Very well, then," he purred, seeming abruptly disinterested as he turned his back on her.

"I'll leave you to your luck."

And with that, he leapt swiftly back into the tree he had been perched in before, immediately reaching for something higher in the branches. Again, she wondered what he could mean by that, but then got a better look at what he was drawing down from the tree's higher reaches. Something limp and heavy was caught on a branch and he tugged at the thing, his grin growing wider than she had yet seen it. A head lolled back and two blank eyes stared down at Rue. Thick, crimson blood ran over its face as she stared in horror at the corpse that the cat-creature was yanking towards him. At last, the dead man came free of the stubborn branch, falling limply into his arms. The demonic feline gave a short giggle of triumph before leaning forward to viciously tear his fangs into the man's neck. Then, to Rue's utmost horror, the man twitched and groaned in his arms. He wasn't dead.

Terrified, Rue turned and ran as fast as she could.

Chapter One End

Thanks for reading! The story is a bit inspired by Alice in Wonderland, since that is my latest fascination.
I'd really appreciate any reviews, whether they be positive or not. Thank you again!