Alice in Horrorland
After being part of a drug cartel, going to Litchfield and being branded, Piper Chapmen thought she’d seen at all.
But no, there she is standing in the overcrowded corridor as someone is about to have his brains blown out. She and Alex and tried to escape before things exploded but the crowd blocked them and now here they are.
“I can’t, I can’t look at this,” she hears a frantic whisper by her side and tries to turn around and look at whoever’s uttered the words but her body won’t listen to her. Her eyes remain glued to the scene that plays out before her.
Daya’s hands don’t even tremble.
“I don’t think you can do it, sweetheart,” Humphrey mocks, lips locked into a cruel smirk. He seemed scared at first but now even with the barrel of gun, his own gun, pointed at his head, he still has the time and energy to torture them.
Piper bites her lower lip, unsure what’s going to happen next, unsure what she wants to happen next. Suddenly all that talk about being against vengeance, against murder sounds foreign and weak to her, like a blog post on a liberal blog written for the sake of likes.
It’s not real but this very much is.
“Shut your fucking mouth, you piece of shit!” Maria barks as she eyes Daya’s trembling hands. Piper can hear the pain and anger in her voice, laced by desperation.
She closes her eyes and thinks how some part of this is her fault, how she’s the one that added three years to the other’s sentence and made her snap. Then she pauses and wonders how selfish she is to make this about herself.
“Oh, make me, puta,” the Humphrey draws out, eyes burning with a peculiar type of madness Piper has never seen before in her carefully built normal world.
The words seem to act like a switch, a catalyst for everything that happens in the next moments.
Chapman later muses on how it all looks like a movie, like she’s part of a scene, something staged, something that can’t possibly be really happening.
It’s all too fast yet at the same time painfully slow.
Daya pulls the trigger and the gunshot echoes through the halls of Litchfield and then the sound flies out of the window and leaves everything in a deafening silence.
Piper opens her eyes before she realizes she’s closed them and takes in the bleak reality staring at her.
There’s the damn bastard, Humphrey, clutching to his shoulder as ragged breaths escape his parted lips. There’s blood spattered all over his name tag and if it was any other day, if this was a story she was reading and not something real, Piper would think that’s a really nice metaphor.
Now she just thinks, “Shit, shit, shit”, frantic thoughts running through her head like a bullet train with no direction.
“Dayanara!” a blood curling scream breaks her away from the trans and she snaps her head to see Mendoza standing next to Daya, her face an embodiment of shock and horror.
“What have you done?” the older woman cries out while Daya doesn’t say anything, face pale and eyes lost. It looks as if she almost doesn’t know what’s going on, where she is, what’s she’s doing. What she’s done. None of her previous composure is there, washed away by the storm that’s been brewing for the last months and has finally hit them.
“No sé, no sé,” Daya mutters frantically once reality finally catches up with her. The gun falls from her sweaty hands and Piper can hear a clunk against the floor which echoes through her head.
There’s a pause, a moment that stretches and nearly suffocates them all with its silence. Then the scripts goes on and with horror Piper sees Humphrey getting up, hand still clutching to his shoulder and heading towards Daya.
The inmate stares at him in shock as she makes a step back, her back now pressed at Maria.
“What you thought you’d kill me?” the sadist demands and the damn smirk never once leaves his face, “Think again, bitch.”
Piper turns around looking frantic for someone else, someone she knows and trusts, someone who can tell her what to do because it seems like every time she makes a decision by herself it ends in disaster.
She sees Red, blue eyes glazed with fear. Red is normally strong, maybe stronger than all of them, her iron will forged in the brutal reality that is Eastern Europe which Americans have no chance of comprehending. And yet, now Red isn’t strong, Red is terrified like any of them. Later on she’ll put back on the mask but in the wake of the moment she looks lost.
She’s not Red at all, she’s Galina Reznikova and the scene before her almost seems like a memory of her past.
“I swear you brown folk can’t even kill a guy right,” Humphrey continues, almost as if he’s on autopilot by now, kept going by the immense hatred he has and nothing else.
“Shut up, Thomas!” McCullough cries out and Piper doesn’t miss the horror in her voice. The female guard looks lost, like a little girl part of an adult movie who has no idea how she got there in the first place.
Her uniform is splashed with blood and it clashes horribly against the calm blue of the cloth.
(Later on Red says how McCullough is like Alice in Horrorland. Piper thinks they all are).
Humphrey ignores her cries or maybe he doesn’t hear them at all and staggers towards Daya.
“You couldn’t even kill me if you wanted to, that’s how useless you all are,” he hisses and at this moment, for a brief second Piper wishes she could pull the trigger.
“Shut the fuck up, you sadistic fucking piece of shit!” she hears a familiar voice and ties it to Watson.
Humphrey raises a hand, almost as if he’s about to smack Daya with his own bloody hand.
There’s another pause, a flicker of uncertainty.
Then there’s a gunshot and Piper unconsciously ducks down, forcing her eyes shut as a form of self-preservation. There’s a scream and vaguely she recognizes it as Daya’s.
When she peels her eyes open there’s so much more blood. Humphrey is lying on the floor, choking on his own vital fluids as the tiles of the floor are pained crimson.
“Fucking bitch,” he gurgles but the words come out strangled and barely cohesive because he’s chocking.
It almost looks comical, like a page from an old comic book where justice is finally served for the main villain. Except this is real and Piper is too terrified to understand what has happened for a few moments that feel like eternity itself.
And then she sees Mendoza, her hand still clutching to the gun and a look of determination, a look of iron will to protect painted over her face.
“What did you do?” Daya shrieks, mimicking the question that was directed to her only mere minutes ago. But those moments are now gone for good and they almost feel like a life time ago.
“He was going to hurt you,” Mendoza states simply, as if the statement is the most natural and logical thing in the word to say and serves as explanation. It does.
“I couldn’t allow it, I swore to your mother to protect you,” the older woman adds and Piper can feel a familiar bittersweet sense wash over her.
She shakes her head, things are for once not about her.
“Gracias, gracias,” Daya whispers frantically as she pulls in Mendoza for a hug and tears run down her face.
Piper idly notices they’re stepping in Humphrey’s blood and she wonders how much can prison dehumanize a person. Answer is, there seems to be no limit.
It’s all over before it began, happening too fast yet at the same time remaining locked in her mind forever.
Guys in black attire with guns barge in and Piper has no idea who they are but even in this state she’s smart enough to know things went from bad to worse.
The guys scream at them as they make a cordon and barge towards Daya and Mendoza. The black of the gun still contrasts against the beige of the older inmate’s uniform.
The two women are still hugging as tears run down Daya’s cheeks and Mendoza whispers vain nothingness in Spanish in one last attempt to protect her, to soother her like only a mother could. It’s ironic because really, she’s the one that needs protection now.
The policeman (or maybe they’re called something else, Piper doesn’t care) tear them apart, one of them snatching the gun away from Mendoza’s hand with force before they bark orders and drag them out.
The last thing that sticks in Piper’s mind is Daya screaming for Mendoza, screaming, “Tu eres mi madre!” as the men subdue her.
Once everything is all over (at least for now) Piper’s eyes widen in horror as a sudden realization comes to her mind and makes the world around her come to abrupt halt. Something’s missing, like a piece of the puzzle she’s been trying to put together.
“Where’s Alex?” she cries out in terror as her eyes dart in all directions.
She sees Nicky as she clutches Red’s hand, the older woman murmuring sweet words in Russian as an attempt to calm her down or maybe herself.
She sees Lorna’s who seems to be fallen in some sort of a trans. The sweet Italian American girl is probably already erasing the events in her head, replacing them with scenes from old movies she likes as a way to escape the madness before it swallows her whole.
Piper sees Taystee as a guard tries to keep her down but she keeps screaming and fighting, face wet with tears. She hears her say Poussey’s name, over and over again.
There’s Doggett and Big Boo, standing close together, there’s Flaca and Maritza as they cling on to each other, as if the only sanctuary they can find is each other.
But the one person she’s looking for, the one person she needs more anything in the world is gone and she can feel her chest contract with horror as her mind jumps to different scenarios, none of them pretty.
Alex is nowhere to be seen.