Title: Go Ask Alice
Author Name & Publisher: Anne Key (Torquere Books)
Publication Date & Length: December 2, 2015 – 35, 000 words
Alice is in trouble.
Big trouble. Her girlfriend, Cat, is dead, Alice just got out of the hospital, and everything is falling apart. The girls bought a bag of pills from a dealer and took them to Cat’s house to LARP their game, Underneath. The plan is to take one pill after another until the vampires come for them.
Problem is, the vampires didn’t come, the ambulance did.
As soon as she gets home, Alice runs away to attend Cat’s funeral and meets Leveret, Cat’s cousin, and that’s when she falls down the rabbit hole.
From shrinking and growing, from a monster in a hospital to a haunted toy store, from a nightclub filled with vampires to a Ren Faire with the most unnerving Mad Hatter and a game where ninja ballerinas beat people to death with sticks – Alice’s trip follows the heart of the Alice in Wonderland story, if not the letter.
On the way Alice has to make a number of decisions – is she sane? Is she dead? Is she willing to sacrifice everything for someone else or does she exercise self-preservation even if that means losing the girl she loves?
I can’t believe this is happening to me. I mean seriously, what the hell? I’ve fallen all the way down the rabbit hole, crashed down and smashed the fucking mushroom, killed the caterpillar and broken all the china.
This is still my bedroom, you know? Nothing’s changed in it over the last five days. I still have posters of The Cure—yes, I’m aware that they’re all old—hanging on my walls, which are still painted black with snail trails of glitter nail polish on them. I still have my little bed, my desk that used to be my grandma’s. I keep looking around the room, waiting for the floor to open up.
I had never thought that we would be in this position, me and Cat. She said that she wanted to become a vampire, see what it was like to commit suicide, but I didn’t believe she meant it. I mean, I heard what she said and I knew that it could be dangerous, maybe, but I didn’t think it was going to be like this.
I never thought it was going to be like this.
We said we were going to try to become vampires, to push at the veil, to see what would happen. To see if the stories about the Elders coming to fetch the ones brave enough to knock at death’s door were true at all. It wasn’t supposed to be like this. We said we were going to do it together, that we were going to take pills, and I… I swear, I swear by all I hold holy, that I didn’t think she was actually going to die. I didn’t know that was even an option. I thought this was like another role-playing game, one that was just the two of us. Maybe some sort of weird illusion or something. I don’t know. I mean, fuck.
We dressed up as Isolde and Morrigan, the characters we play when we game The Elders, because those are the best costumes, you know? Black and lace and long, with corsets—not cheap ones, real ones. We both asked for them for Christmas last year. We got a bunch of pills off this dude that all the kids go to in school, this big guy from the football team, and then we sat down in Cat’s attic room, slipped into character, and we started taking the pills, one at a time. I took a blue one first. I remember taking it because it seemed so light, like the sky. Maybe if I’d started with the green one, or red one, or a pink one—but I didn’t. I didn’t start that way. I just took the blue pill.
God, it sounds so old school Matrix somehow. Do you want to take the red pill or the blue pill? I have to admit I liked the way the blue pill tasted so I took another one, but that was it.
That was the whole thing. Cat took a couple of things and started ranting about eternity and God and how we were going to be together forever and, me? I fell asleep.
When I woke up Cat was gone. And by gone I don’t mean disappeared or turned into a vampire or left me there alone or anything good.
I mean she was dead.
Like swollen up and gross and… I don’t know. I freaked out a little. She smelled bad and there was puke everywhere and then her mom was there and screaming and the cops came. I didn’t do anything but sleep for twelve hours, and no one believes me, not even now.
I mean come on. We were playing around. We were being Gothy; we were being drama llamas for Christ’s sake. I never once thought it would be real.
I thought we’d get high and fucked up and see things. I thought it would be like when we decided to slit our wrists together and ended up with Cat throwing up at the sight of blood and both of us stealing a couple of beers from the fridge in Mom’s basement. I didn’t even need a bandage, for god‘s sake.
But no, here I am. I’ve still got a hospital bracelet around my wrist that I cannot bring myself to cut off. I’ve lost my best friend. And I can hear Mom on the phone to Dad.
“Rick, you have to come get Alice,” she says, and she’s crying—not little tears either, but hitching, gulping sounds that prove to me that I’ve really hurt her, like genuinely. “No. No, I don’t understand why she did it. She swears it was a stupid joke, one of her games, but it doesn’t matter. That other little girl ended up dead, and her parents are going to kill our baby!”
Like Mom had never even met Penny and Marshall. Like she didn’t know Cat’s fucking name. Like Mom and Jeff hadn’t gone over to their house and had a bottle of wine, fondue—did people even eat fondue anymore? For god‘s sake, I thought fondue was something hippies did—and now it’s been four days and it’s like they never even knew each other. Like they believed that I would hurt Catherine.
I never wanted to hurt anyone. I wanted to get high and be edgy.
When did suicide pacts actually fucking work? They didn’t. Even Romeo and Juliet fucked them up. And we… we weren’t supposed to die. Live forever, sure. Not die.
Anne Key recently left her beloved Texas and now lives with her amazing wife in the New Mexico mountains, spending her time writing the kinds of books she wants to read, playing with her basset hounds, and making stuff that wants to be art when it grows up. She’s been writing and illustrating for decades, exploring media from poetry to sculpture, from romance novels to weaving. She believes in ghosts, in cowboys, in forgiveness, in happily ever after, in magic, and in love at first sight.
Mostly, she believes in experiencing your own personal joy wherever you can.