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The White Queen's Quest

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The White Rabbit lies broken on floor, his head surrounded by a puddle of his own blood, the red stark against the black-and-white of the checkerboard tiles. His fur is matted with the wet of it.

He'd got in the way of the Duchess's spell, black dots of magic swirling in a buzzing cloud, spreading a peppery smell.

Got in the way, but not enough to stop it: the remains of the spell fly through the air, undeterred, hitting Anastasia square in the chest.

"Ana!" Will screams, futile and pointless. Her eyes, her mouth are wide as she is thrown back against a pillar with force. Peppercorn spots of dark magic bloom and grow, spreading over her dress, her neck, her face - -

His vision clouds purple.

In the blink of an eye, the White Queen's castle turns into a tarmacked street. There's a faint smell of fumes and seawater, and all around him are people looking around themselves in confusion, just like Will.

He looks down at himself. His embroidered waistcoat has been replaced with a familiar leather jacket - that should be hanging in a closet, in a castle, in a different realm. He doesn't wear it much, any more. Not that he doesn't like it; it's comfy and all, but it belongs to a time and a place without Ana.


And now he's back in it, without so much as a by-your-leave. Cheers for that, mate.

Although ...

A wild hope clenches his heart, his lungs, his throat. What if they're all here? What if Ana was pulled away from the magic overwhelming her, to this land without magic?

What if she's safe, after all?

Will does what everyone seems to be doing: he starts moving with purpose, moves out to search the town for his loved ones.

Will scuffs his boots, drags his heels.

No point, mate. Get a move on.

Lips pressed together, eyes burning, he forces himself into motion again, leaving the hospital behind. His last hope - yeah, right. He'd known he wouldn't find Ana here, any more than any other place in this bloody town. Whatever's happening, looks like he's here only because he was here before. No one else is.

So - they're all still back there, the White Rabbit in his blood and Ana in a cloud of the duchess's magic. So - the Duchess won, then. Ana is gone. The Rabbit is gone. And Will's gone too, in a different way, gone so far he'll never find a way back.

Not that there'd be much of a point, going back. There's nothing left there. Everything that mattered is gone, lost and gone.

Well, there's Alice, but she's in her own world and time with her own family, and with no Rabbit ...

Might as well be dead, all of them. No one's coming for Will this time. And he's back to being empty, lost and alone.

Except this time he has his heart. Will almost wishes he knew how to take it out of his chest. It had been so much easier, without ...

The pain's all that's left of Ana, though. He'll hold it tight. He owes it to her.

To her memory.

Will angrily wipes his face with the back of his hand.

Bugger all this for a lark. White King - ha! Husband - ha! He's a thief; he'll do what a thief does.

It's all he's got now.