New Release: Clockwork Wonderland
by Emerian Rich
HorrorAddicts.net Press presents…Clockwork Wonderland.
Clockwork Wonderland contains stories from authors that see Wonderland as a place of horror where anything can happen and time runs amok. In this book you’ll find tales of murderous clockworks, insane creations, serial killers, zombies, and a blood thirsty jabberclocky. Prepare to see Wonderland as a place where all your worst nightmares come true. You may never look at classic children’s literature the same way again.
Edited by Emerian Rich
Cover by Carmen Masloski
Laurel Anne Hill
With Foreword by David Watson
by Emerian Rich
Mr. March held his fireplace poker at the ready as he peeked into his kitchen. His good mate, Mr. White, had entered his house and seemed to be rummaging for food, but it wasn’t the White he knew from the club. White was generally a very congenial guy. A bit high-strung, but always courteous of others and definitely mindful of the inappropriateness of breaking into another’s home at quarter after midnight.
“Mustn’t give no quarter. Alms grrr…and a slab ‘a meat, yesssss…”
Pushing the kitchen door open another inch, March inspected his friend as he rambled an incoherent string of garbled words together. Perhaps his diabetes had taken a turn for the worst and he had low blood sugar? Still, the White he knew, would have at least rung the bell and requested entry instead of smashing the window and leaving the front door wide open.
White sniffed the air like a curious rabbit. His portly frame jittered in his food-stained plaid pajamas. His houndstooth wool slippers swam in orange juice pooled at his feet. White’s head snapped to the side and he stared directly at March, but didn’t seem to see him in the darkness. March held his breath despite his urge to gasp. White’s normally brown eyes gleamed red in the fridge light.
The grandfather clock in the drawing room bonged at the half-hour and White shuffled out of the kitchen, March following stealthily behind. White stared up at the clock, drool saturating his mouth. The second hand clicked just past the seven.
For a moment, White seemed himself again. His expression jovial as he clasped his hands behind him, rocking serenely back on his heels.
“White? You all right, old man?” March inched closer, hiding the poker by his side.
White turned to March, for a moment his old friend, but White’s lip pulled back in a snarl, displaying jagged teeth. He launched at March, causing them both to land in a heap on the floor.
“Meat and flesh, flesh and bone. Grrrr…” White growled like the Queen’s pup who’d contracted rabies.
“Stop! Get off me!” March struggled against White’s force, holding the fire poker between them as the only barrier.
White snapped his pointy teeth just inches from March’s face, slobber dripping onto his cheek.
White moved closer, his weight smothering March so he could barely breathe. From the open door to his right, March heard a scream. Out in the street, a royal guard attacked his neighbor, the Duchess, but March could do nothing to help. Turning back to face the maniac on top of him, March stared into the fiend’s red eyes. They seemed to glow and in the pupils there was some sort of design. A clock face? White salivated, the loud clamp of his jaw snapping as he tried to get ever closer.
White lunged, his massive belly pushing the air right out of March’s lungs. March gasped as his vision grew dark.
Footsteps, a clunk, and then White’s head falling lax to his neck allowed March the chance to use the last of his energy to push the maniac off him.
“March, chap, you all right?”
Gasping for air, March managed to sit up. He blinked and squinted in the dim light, seeing the unmistakable top-hatted silhouette of his good friend, Mr. Hatter. The lanky bloke offered a hand and March grasped it gladly.
“Hatter. My, you are a sight for sore eyes.” March wiped White’s saliva off his cheek with his paisley handkerchief. White’s still body lay in a dark stain growing darker on the rug.
“Pity about your rug, old friend.”
A scream in the street called their attention away from the soiled rug.
“What the bloody hell is going on?” March asked, retrieving his fireplace poker and cleaning it off as well.
“I’ll explain on the way,” Hatter said.
“On the way where?”
“The clock tower. Come on.”
March followed Hatter out of his house and shut the door behind him, although he didn’t think it much mattered. The neighborhood was in chaos and he wasn’t quite sure he’d survive to return. Pity about the strawberry trifle in the fridge. He’d worked hard on those perfect white and red layers for the picnic the next day in the park, but it seemed festivities would be cancelled. After all, the Duchess was hosting and her head rolled by in the gutter as he hopped over it.
Screams and snarls came from every direction as they sprinted to the clock tower situated in the center of town. He glimpsed friends he’d known for years, but they were alien to him in the zombie horde.
“Seems the clock infected some and the bitten become like them,” Hatter explained in hushed tones. His eyes swept the landscape as they made their way through town. “I don’t understand how it works exactly, but the clock must be stopped. Problem is, nothing—absolutely nothing—has worked. Every night it happens again and I can’t seem to stop it.”
“What do you mean every night? How long has this been happening and how come you are just now telling me?” They stood back to back as Hatter picked the clock tower lock and March stood guard. Snarls came from the darkness and March’s hands ached from gripping the blasted poker so tightly.
“You won’t believe me, chap, but this night has played out more than three dozen times.”
The ground shook and the wind picked up, tossing leaves into the air like confetti.
“What was that?”
“Earthquake. I think the clock caused that too, but I can’t be sure.” The lock clicked and Hatter escorted him inside. “Some nights I save you, some nights I’m too late. But I need your help. We have to jam the clock some way so that it can’t do this again.”
March stared into Hatter’s blood-shot, weary eyes and knew he told the truth.
“Show me how.”
Hatter led him down the corridor to the stairs and up four flights.
“How do you know the clock is responsible?” March asked between gasps. He was not used to so much physical exertion. Those cigars at the club were really taking a toll on his health. He’d have to cut back to once a week.
“I’ve traced it to the clock maker. He’s the only one infected after the clock strikes twelve. The earthquakes emanate from this location directly after.”
“And you’re the only one reliving this nightmare?”
“Yes, and then you ask me why I’m the only one. I don’t know why I’m immune. I just know the burden falls to me to stop it.”
The ground shook again and the clock tower creaked under the force. Hatter checked his pocket watch.
“Hurry, we’ve not much time. It’s 12:49 and at one o’clock it resets. Use your poker to jam that gear over there and I’ll try to damage this one.”
March stuck his fire poker in between two large metal gears and watched with amazement as they ate the thin metal up. Black cast iron trickled into the workings and fell to the floor like pieces of silverware from a dropped drawer.
“No!” Hatter yelled as his sword found the same fate. “Hell and damnation!” He grabbed a pipe on the wall and tugged until it gave way. The pipe spewed a fog of steam but it was short lived. Hatter banged on the gears, trying to harm them and March grabbed another pipe, doing the same. They fed the thin copper through the gears, hoping to stop them or break the mechanism, but they too were chewed up by the large mechanical monster.
“Damn!” Hatter kicked the gears causing no harm but to himself. He fell to the floor defeated, clutching his ankle. “How can we jam the gears if nothing can destroy this blasted thing?”
“Jam…” March crouched next to Hatter, his mind turning like the clock gears above them as he thought of how to stop the machine. “You might have something there. What if you’re going about this the wrong way? What if we made something sticky to muck up the works rather than trying to stop the gears themselves? Perhaps my mother’s jam…with a few minor adjust—” March’s face froze.
“What kind of adjustments? March! Please! No!” Hatter shook him, but he could not respond.
The clock bonged one o-clock.
To read the full story and more Clock-inspired, Alice Horror, check out Clockwork Wonderland.