Wonderland

Written by Alexander Greco

May 24, 2019

I was new to this. It was my cousin who got me started. I told her I needed money, and couldn’t find a job. Instead of giving me any of her money, she taught me how to “fish”. She taught me how to pick up clients—how to present myself, how to tell which guys were likely to be clean, and which guys wouldn’t beat on me. She let me borrow her, um, toys and, well, practice—which is good, because I wasn’t very… practiced.

I was afraid of all the men at first—afraid of what they might do to me, of how this could go wrong, afraid of who they might all be—but none of them were ever mean, or abusive, or malicious in any way. I suppose I was still always afraid of the men, but they were mostly blue-collar workers who couldn’t find a girl who wanted them back, or white-collar men who had wives and children they didn’t want to think about for a night. They were almost all balding and quiet, and unsure and fidgety, and nervous and quick. I was only so afraid of them for so long.

Well, anyway, after almost a year of doing this, I met this Man at a bar. I dropped a few hints, just how my cousin taught me, and I had him hooked quick. I was surprised. He was handsome, and looked well-to-do—not the kind of guy I’d expect to, you know, be with girls like me.

So, we went to his hotel room. I sat down on this Man’s bed. He gave me a glass of water to drink, and said he needed to use the bathroom. I nodded and thanked him for the water. While he was gone sipped at it pretty conservatively. I was a bit nervous, and really only drank it to be polite. However, after ten or twenty minutes of him being gone, I’d finished the glass

I looked around the hotel room looking for anything to distract my nerves while I waited for the Man. My eyes fell on two bottles sitting on a table next to the bed. One had a red label, the other had a blue label. I picked the red one up, but couldn’t recognize the name—or even pronounce it. The other one, the blue one, was some sort of Benzo—I had known guys who liked them, and a few who had tried to give me some.

I set the blue bottle down just as the Man came out of the bathroom. He walked toward me, and gestured to the bed. I sat down. He sat down next to me and pulled a small, plastic bag from his pocket. I recognized it—Cocaine.

The man pushed the two bottles aside, and laid the bag on the table. “Come here,” he said, excitedly.

“No, thank you,” I replied.

“Come on,” he said, opening the bag, “you ever done it before? You’ll love it.”

I hadn’t done it before, and I didn’t really want to try it. His tone was still cheerful, and I hoped he would stay agreeable with me if I refused. “Please,” I said, “I’d really rather—“

The Man whipped around to look at me. “I said, come here.” The cheerfulness was gone. His eyes were cold. He didn’t care about me at all. He was just here for fun. So, that’s what I’d have to give him.

For a moment, I hesitated, not knowing what to do. Then, I got up and knelt down beside the table. The Man had poured some of the powder onto the table, then pulled a dollar bill from his pocket, and rolled it into a small tube. With his finger, the Man made a small line of powder. He leaned forward, put the tube into one of his nostrils, put a finger over the other, then inhaled the powder into his nose with the dollar bill.

“Ooh, damn,” he said, leaning back, “oh, shit. Here, try some.”

The Man handed me the dollar bill, which I took. Then the Man sectioned off another line of powder for me. As he did this, I noticed my body feeling strange. Something felt… changed. But then the Man was done. “Come on,” he said.

I figured the strange feeling was just my nerves, so I leaned forward, put the end of the dollar tube up to the powder, just as the Man had done, and inhaled. I sniffed only a small amount of the powder, but the sensation took me so off guard that I pulled away instantly. I sneezed, blinked, and shook my head. The Man laughed. I didn’t like his laugh.

“Come on, girly, finish it up,” he said.

I complied, hesitantly. I leaned forward, and inhaled the powder as quickly as I could. Same as last time, I pulled away as soon as I was finished. I felt buzzed almost immediately. Everything was a little lighter. I was happier, my nervousness was gone. I felt wide awake, happy to be here, and energetic, like I had just drank a few cups of coffee. The Man was laughing again. This time, I did like the sound of his laugh.

“There you go, good girl,” he said.

I smiled when he said that. I don’t know why, but I liked it.

“A little more,” he said, dividing some more with his finger, “before we get the show started.”

While he was sectioning off his little portion, I noticed the strange sensation again. It wasn’t nerves, I knew that now, I didn’t feel nervous at all. I liked the feeling—though, I liked everything at that point. It was just that… Well, something was different. I don’t know—I don’t know how else to describe it. Something was different about everything, but there was only a slight change 

The man finished his line, and had already divided one for me. He handed me the bill, and I was far less hesitant this time. “There you go,” the Man said, “chase the rabbit.”

I did what he said. I reacted almost the same—it was disorienting inhaling the powder, and it didn’t feel right going in my nose—but now I was growing far more energetic. Hyper, I was hyper. And happy. I don’t know if I had ever felt happier. I felt almost like a child.

At this point, the strange feeling I had noticed before seemed to lurch forward from the corners of my perception, and began filling my body. First, it was some sort of euphoria—like the feeling you get when you’re outside, on a hill or in the woods, and a cool breeze blows by. You forget for a moment where you are, what your worries were, and something about this breeze is the most beautiful thing you’ve ever known.

I turned and looked at the Man, and he seemed to far away. I knew he was looking at me, and I could feel his hands on my body. They were herds of sensations, like herds of antelope or bison, running across my body—if my body was a field, or a savannah in Africa. He smiled at me, and my thoughts laid down in a field—I could feel grass, bushes and flowers at the back of my thoughts. I smiled back at the Man, and something indescribable flowed through me.

When I smiled, it was like the moon had been melted into a cup of glowing fluid, and poured into my veins. I thought the sun started setting in the room, or at least that it was twilight. I don’t know why. It might have been the light, or the colors. But it also felt like summer. It was warm in here, I could feel everything in my body without thinking of it, it was just there. But that’s not why it felt like summer. It was out of school and down the road. It was somewhere we were laughing.

The Man was kissing me, I realized. I thought our mouths felt like whales swimming in the deepest oceans, except it was Summertime still, even in out oceans. But I had never felt whales before, how would I know? I was moving—a sky full of stars proceeding across a hundred years of nights. Then I think my dress came off my body.

The breeze passed and calmed down. The flowers went away for a moment. The warmth was uncomfortable now, clammy and humid. I looked down, and the man’s hands were beneath my bra, groping my chest. He was on his back, I was straddling him. What was I doing? I looked down at his hands, and it all looked wrong.

Something soured, and whatever music I had been listening to before went cold and sharp. The air clouded with violent fluids, racing through my thoughts. I looked at the man’s half-undressed body. He was some sort of animal, I thought. And I didn’t know him. I didn’t know this person at all. Why was he doing this to me? There was nothing human in how he touched me, nothing but an animal in his eyes.

He shifted his body, and I realized he was already inside of me. I hadn’t felt him enter me. I didn’t know. But there he was, to the hilt.

The Man smiled again. It was all wrong. His smile was too wide. His teeth weren’t human. His eyes opened up like sinkholes at the same time they shrunk into black pebbles. He laughed, and the air cracked like splintering wood as a house fell around us. “Having fun?” he asked.

Fun. He wanted me to have fun. He wanted me to enjoy this.

The Man has his way with me. He gives me money, and he leaves. I buy my food—or else I starve—and then I come back to the Man for more. He has the money: he has me. And I’m supposed to enjoy it. I’m supposed to love it. I’m supposed to let him smile at me and let his stranger’s hands crawl across me like herds of cattle and swine, and I’m supposed to smile back.

Was that what he wanted?

His smile grew wider, and his face distorted. His eyes sunk into dark pits, and his grin threatened to consume me. His smile wanted to eat me, eat my skin, eat my thoughts, eat my name.

I pushed myself off of him, and jumped off the bed.

He sat up in bed and stared at me. He said something frustrated, but the words danced into shapes I couldn’t read.

I backed away from the bed, and looked around for my clothes, but nothing was familiar anymore. It was all the same—it was all right there—but it was all something different too.

The Man was trying to calm me down, but I doubt he really cared. Two other men stepped out from the bathroom and started walking towards me. It didn’t understand it—had they come from Nowhere? I saw one of them step next to the bed and grab the blue bottle. Some gear far inside my mind clicked into sense. I didn’t hesitate. I turned around, opened the door of our room, and burst out onto the walkway outside.

I was only wearing a bra, but that didn’t matter. I heard footsteps coming after me. We were on the second floor of the motel. In front of me there was a metal rail, then a wooden fence down below. Beyond that, trees and bushes. There was only one way forward that I could see.

The men were coming to the door, I had a couple seconds at most. I leaned onto the rail, put my feet on top of it, and kicked forward with my legs.

The men were yelling somewhere behind me, but I didn’t understand or care. My torso cleared the top of the fence, but my legs didn’t. My shins slammed on the top of the wooden boards, I tumbled forward into the branches, and crashed through a bush to the ground. My body hurt all over, but it wasn’t a normal hurt. It was a storm of sensation—lightning crashed all over my body, and a dull thundering throbbed through my body.

I got up off the ground, and something told me to run, so I began tearing blindly through the trees and the brush. My body was wracked with pain­—my shins screamed at me with each footfall—but I couldn’t stop. I couldn’t even be bothered to care that it hurt.

An animal—a dog maybe, or bear, or an ape; something big and heavy and warm—was sitting in the back of my thoughts. It was making some sort of noise at me. It was barking, grunting, or roaring at me, but it was silent at the same time. From its mouth came branches of a tree, covered in vines and lichen and moss, and from each branch, small twigs like arms with searching hands.

It was the thing in my head telling me to run. I trusted it, so I ran. As I ran, I could hear it whispering things to me. I trusted it, so I listened. As I listened, I could feel its warmth spreading through my body, soothing me. I trusted it, so I embraced a rushing sort of calm.

These trees I ran through were no more than a small patch of woods—maybe a half mile deep—that emptied out behind a few square miles of suburban maze. I could hear the men far behind me as I approached the other side of these trees. In the corner of my eye I could see the rapid bobbing and swaying of their flashlights through the trees.

Though it was night, I thought I could see everything clear as day. No, seeing wasn’t the right word. I just sort of knew, like my eyes were telling my arms and legs secrets, even if I couldn’t see what the secrets were. I knew where everything was, or maybe everything put itself where I knew it should be, and I didn’t trip on anything or run into a single tree or bush.

Once I made it to the edge of the trees, the men’s flashlights had closed half the distance to me. There was an open field that stretched two or three blocks to my left and right, and across the field were homes. I turned left, and ran across the edge of the field, just along the tree line. I kept looking behind me in my peripherals, and as soon as I saw the flashlights emerging near the edge of the trees, I came to a stop, and stepped back into the darkness of the trees.

Two men emerged from the tree line, with two flashlights. Together, they formed some sort of monster with wild, disembodied eyes that illuminated the ground around them. They split apart, and the one monster became two. They each turned their own direction down the field and began walking—one down the right side, and one toward the left side, toward me.

I watched the man coming in my direction. As I did, the whole air seemed to hum—quiet at first, then louder and louder. The night sky above all the houses seemed to shimmer, like the air was made of indigo spider’s silk that a million painters brushed over the suburbs. From my peripherals, I saw movement all around me. Green trails of trembling sensation—sensation I could see in front of me—snaked through the air and through the trees, and small marbles of red and yellow thought rolled through the air and down the trees. However, I didn’t turn to look at these. I kept my eyes fixed on the Man.

The air around him shimmered with a blue color. Then it got darker, and turned into a violet. The violet closed in on the Man. The violet charred and congealed onto the man’s body like a new skin. This violet light turned into an oily black suit, encompassing the Man’s body. A new body grew from his back, with hind legs so he could pad along on all fours.

The Man was something new now, an oily, black creature with a single, shining white eye, which beamed light from the end of a bent and craning neck. Its skin bubbled and churned like boiling tar. Its limbs swung like frantic cat’s legs across a roaming pocket of void.

Where it walked, the ground moved to avoid being trodden on by the one-eyed creature. The brushstroke skies seemed to lift themselves up where the thing passed, and the grass and dirt disappeared around its feet. In this way, the creature walked across Nothing, and its pitch body could only be seen against the suburban houses, because Heaven and Earth refused to touch it.

Soon, it came by me. It was never closer than thirty feet, even when it was right in front of me. A ringing noise came from the thing’s body, and at the same time I felt invisible hands clawing at my thoughts. They all came from the thing, I knew that, as if I knew it in a dream, and they were the ringing noise—though it didn’t make sense, I knew it to be true.

As if in defiance, I felt the branches of all the trees around me crowd into the back of my head. I heard them whispering things—though they were not whispers in a language as we knew it. They spoke in words made of shapes—edges, bodies, and curves—intonated with shifting angles, and articulated with spiraling geometries. These branches were crowding my thoughts—a whole tree, perhaps, was inside of my head.

The branches pushed away all of the creature’s hands, and cleared my head from all its ringing. The creature kept walking, never noticing me, and went further and further down the field. For a moment, it was just the tree and I. It was still speaking to me, and now I thought it was speaking in colors, colors that vibrated and climbed through your head like ladybugs and crickets climbed through leaves and twigs.

For a moment, something much larger than both I or the tree seemed to fill my body. It sort of came from the tree, but it was more than the tree at the same time. They were hundreds and thousands of glowing worms, or snakes, or roots—it was an entire forest of them, an entire glowing forest—but they all formed one cohesive feeling, one cohesive body.

Then, the tree retreated from my thoughts. It slowly climbed out through the back of my head, back into some wilderness, and I was left alone at the edge of the trees. I looked to my left and to my right, but I didn’t see either of the men. I looked around at all of the houses. A few had clotheslines in their back yards. I thought I could see a white dress in one of the nearer ones. I looked around once more, to make sure I didn’t see the men anywhere, then I sprinted across the field to the backyard of this house.

The men didn’t come out of hiding from anywhere, and I don’t think anyone saw me. I stepped up to the clothesline, and saw that there was indeed a white dress hanging outside. I grabbed it, and pulled it over my head and down my body.

When I’d finished, I looked around the yard to make sure I was alone. Then I walked carefully between the house I had stolen the dress from, and the house right next to it. On the other side of the two houses, I checked to see if the streets were clear. They seemed to be. I stepped carefully out between the two houses, through their yard, onto a sidewalk, and across the street.

I knew there were some more woods on the other side of this suburban area—much larger than the small strip I had passed through. I could take a shortcut through those woods that would take me only a few blocks from my house (I knew my way around, having been invited to several of these houses on nights when mothers and children had gone out of town).

After I crossed the street, and stepped onto the sidewalk of the next block, an odd sort of calm came over me. Everything in my head was quiet, except for this cool stream of—I don’t know—existence? Being? A small, clear pool of living, and that was all I could hear. Around me, the incandescence of the streetlamps and the colors of the night sky seemed to form this landscape of light around me.

Black and white contrasted in dancing tableaus. Reds and yellows blended in rivers running across the road, up the trees, and across lawns. Then, like a lord of these colors, the indigo sky descended upon them with rich blues, violets, grays, and blacks. From the windows of some houses, I saw lamps inside their windows, and these lamps were like small angels beaming out white-gold, electric ecstasy in every direction through the night.

It was like this for quite some time—though I couldn’t tell you how long quite some time lasted. A few blocks down, I could hear a small storm of chirping. Then, further down, I saw a tree that had grown up alongside a streetlamp, so that the light of the street lamp cascaded through the branches of the tree. In this tree, and a smaller one next to it, there had to have been at least a couple hundred small birds, if not more. I was close to the woods now, and, though I didn’t know where the two men were, I felt safe here, so I decided to stop.

They were all chirping together. There was no real rhythm to it, no pattern I could extract, but something about it fascinated me. I walked up to the tree, and stared at them. It was beautiful­—the light piercing through the branches, and the birds flapping energetically in the dark—but it was the sound that entranced me. The bird’s chirping consumed me—it was all I could think. It was all I could feel, and all I knew. The sounds churned in my head, and something rose out of it.

On the edge of my thoughts, I swore I could understand what they were saying. There was something meaningful about the noises they made. They were all talking to each other. Maybe not how humans talk to each other, but talking to each other nonetheless. Some melody, some song, some harmony they were forming in unison that spoke back to them all—the voice of the flock speaking back to each bird, as each bird joined in articulating the voice of the flock. What were they saying?

Something broke my train of thought. Out of some instinct rather than logical thought, I turned and looked down the street to my right. There, I saw not two but three men. My lover had reunited with them.

As we saw that we saw each other, they broke into a run after me. I turned and began running as well. I was only a couple blocks from the woods, and the men were still almost an entire block behind me—if I could just make it to the forest and to my apartment, I would be safe.

Tonight, I felt as though I could run faster than I had ever run before. My body didn’t get tired, or maybe it didn’t care. I was scared, I suppose, but I felt this fire inside of me as well—something brave and fearless, naked and free. I soared across one block, and the men had hardly made any ground on me. I soared across the next one, and then ran through someone’s yard, past the other side of their house and out into the woods.

How beautiful it was—like a wall of living truth and growth. The darkness between the trees reached out to greet me, and I fell into its grasp. I couldn’t tell you if I ran or not—I seemed to soar more than anything. My body and my thoughts fell into a kaleidoscope of branches and leaves, of colors reaching out from the night, and music playing in the darkness.

The cool breeze I had felt came back, and it lifted me like air beneath a bird’s wings. The whispering of the tree came back, except now it exploded like a symphony of music from my chest. I leapt over roots and rocks, and felt the ground carry me like a parent carrying a child.

Something went wrong, however. I couldn’t quite understand what had gone wrong until I crashed into the ground. I must have tripped over something, I suppose, but nonetheless I had fallen, and fallen hard. I couldn’t breathe—the wind must have been knocked out of me. I crawled up to a nearby tree, and leaned against it. There, I waited for my breath to come back. My right ankle hurt horribly, I don’t know what happened to it.

After a short while of panic and pain, I could breath again. At first, I gasped in air, but then it slowed, then slowed, and slowed some more until I was calm again. My ankle was wracked with pain, and it felt wrong.

I sat up, and tried putting my weight on my feet, but my ankle hurt too badly. I collapsed to the ground, panting and terrified at first, but then I calmed down. Something in me accepted it all. Something in me understood it all. Something in me saw it all.

When the men finally found me, the song in my chest had started playing again. I looked at the men, and the song told me who they were. It told me about the lights they held in their hand. It told me about the guns at their sides. It told me who I was, and it told me why that was okay. I could only halfway hear the men, because I only halfway cared about them. “…we don’t have to… …right away, do we?”

“No, no. I… …she’s contained… …won’t be mad if we take our time.”

I was a deer in the jaws of Man. I was a doe being masticated by a crop thresher. I was a prey animal in the salivating mouth of a machine.

I heard a belt buckles clatter, and a new reality descended upon me like a pack of wolves.

And I didn’t care.

I don’t know what they had done to me, I don’t know what they are doing to me, I don’t know what they have yet to do to me, but my song was playing in the wind in the trees in my head. Whatever has happened, whatever is happening, whatever will happen, I became what is becoming what will become fearless. I am that has, I am that is, I am that will, and I am another tooth in the mouth that eats me.

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