Pizza Woman may not be fully available for free now, but it’s just £0.99/$1.34 and free on Kindle Unlimited. Anyway, enjoy this story:
This story includes foul language, crude humour and some violence.
‘Your hair wants cutting,’ said the Hatter. He had been looking at Alice for some time with great curiosity, and this was his first speech.
`You should learn not to make personal remarks,’ Alice said with some severity; `it’s very rude.’
-Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, Lewis Carroll
It was a night to celebrate. A night to go out with the girls to the pub for a couple of drinks, to chat it up and laugh, to even have a go on the karaoke machine. It was Friday night, but not just any Friday night.
It was the first Friday night after my break-up with Edward.
I always thought my first break-up would result in me bawling my eyes out, but breaking up with Edward felt like an accomplishment. I had been meaning to do it for so long yet it felt like days for me to finally gather the nerve to look him in the eyes and tell him I was fed up with his smug, pompous bullshit. It…it reminded me of the first time I rode a roller coaster. I was terrified of doing so at first, yet when I built up my courage and took the dive, it felt like a weight flew straight off me.
The Friday right after I did that, I called up my friends and asked them to join me in something we haven’t done in a long time; go out for a few pints. It was a place Edward wouldn’t be caught dead in either; when we were dating, he kept moaning to me how “uncouth” and “beneath him” this place was, but the girls and I have liked it just fine. There we were, guzzling down Carlings and Guinesses, me doing my best impersonation of Edward to torrents of laughter from the other girls.
‘Why are there so many stupid people these days,’ I said, holding my head up high, ‘why can’t they be sophisticated and smart like me?’ Margo and Sarah laughed, while Deirdre could only shake her head and sigh, smiling. Right after I told that joke, my eye caught a hen party walking towards a nearby table, all of them dressed in Alice in Wonderland costumes. An Alice, a Rabbit, a Tweedle Dee and Dum.
I couldn’t help but be reminded of when Edward and I met, when we both attended a talk about the works of Lewis Carroll. He struck up a conversation with me about how we was inspired by both Alice books and The Hunting of the Snark. We chatted about those, and Sylvie and Bruno (mostly about the dog world when it came to that book), and soon we had friended each other on Facebook and were going out with each other and I learned his true colours.
It seemed like that hen party had been put there just to mock me.
Off I went to the toilets even though I didn’t need to go. I just entered to splash some water on my face, and in hopes that when I left, the hen party would have disappeared. Not only were they still there, but Edward had entered the pub as well.
As much as I rubbed my eyes and shook my head, I still saw Edward, walking up to the counter. Next to him was a blonde woman in a red dress.
Oh, wonderful, I thought, he knows I like to come here so he…oldest trick in the book.
Just ignore him. That was all I could do at that moment. Just ignore him, say good night to the girls and never come here again. As I walked towards the door, covering my face with my hands, Edward approached me with that shit-eating grin he flashed me so many times during our relationship. ‘Hey, Susan,’ he said, ‘you met Carol?’
I marched towards the door.
‘What’s wrong? You jealous or something?’
I said nothing.
‘Oh yeah, be like that then.’
Before I could step outside, his new girl, Carol, grabbed onto my shoulder, turning my blood to ice. I turned to her – an involuntary action – to look her right in her face. Or at least, right in her smile. A wide grin showing all her teeth, a grin far too wide for her face. For a second, her grin was all that existed.
I pulled her arm – her cold, chilling arm – and just ran all the way back to my flat. There, I tried to tell myself that I had just imagined seeing Edward, imagined seeing Carol. I was thinking about him so much, my mind added him to the pub without him being there, uglifying the truth. Maybe, I thought to myself, it was a sign I should just forget Edward all together.
Though my original plan was to drink with my friends until 1am, I spent the rest of the evening watching comedy shows on the telly and went to sleep at 23:30.
I awoke at 2am.
I didn’t hear a loud noise, I didn’t have to go to the toilet, my sleep was a dreamless one, I just seemed to wake up by myself. My first thought was that I should lie down and get back to sleep, but I couldn’t shake the feeling that I should be awake for a reason. Every time when I had an important appointment and forgot to set the alarm, I still managed to wake myself up early.
I walked over to the kitchen, to get a drink of water, to keep myself hydrated.
There was a piece of paper lying near the door.
I approached it, holding a kitchen knife.
A letter from Edward. A letter from Edward, written in a Year 1 pupil’s handwriting about Carol.
“Dear Susan,” it read, “You’re a”
Well, I don’t need to say the next word, do I? You can probably guess what it was.
I unlocked my door and threw it wide open, expecting to see him leering at me, only to be greeted by an empty hall.
I didn’t make him do that, you know. He wrote that letter of his own free will.
Those two sentences. I couldn’t tell if I heard them or if I thought them.
I got my answer when I turned around and saw a man in my flat. It wasn’t Edward, however. His head looked like a cross between a large parsnip made of flesh and a jack-o-lantern a week after Halloween, having no discernible facial features other than two large yellow eyes. He dressed like he was attending a wedding, with pinstriped trousers, a black coat and a red cravat.
On his head was a top hat matching his coat, sporting a card reading “In This Style 10/6”.
In his hand he held a teacup.
‘Tea?’ I was certain I heard that, though he said the word without opening any visible mouth. He held the teacup in front of my face, though I focussed less on the teacup and more on the hand holding it; the dress gloves he wore couldn’t disguise his bony fingers.
I just stared at him silently.
‘No? Oh well.’ A small hole opened up on his head, which he poured the contents of the teacup into. ‘That Edward is a vile specimen, is he not?’
‘What’s it to you?’
‘Despite what he might tell you, that “Carol” of his is not a real woman. Would you believe that after you rightfully left him, he created a lifesize doll of his ideal girlfriend?’ What twisted my gut at that moment was not that I was being told this by a creature that suddenly appeared in my house, but that this actually felt like something Edward would do. ‘He summoned me to bring that doll to life, and I did so.’
I looked at his top hat and laughed – a painful laugh that sounded more like a cough, but still a laugh. ‘You’ve got your stories mixed up; that’s Pinocchio, you idiot.’ Now that I look back, I think I laughed less at that and more at the fact that summoning demons was also another thing I could see Edward doing.
‘You are aware that I did it for your sake?’
I held the knife up. ‘Get out of here before I call the cops.’
The creature, the Mad Hatter laughed, and replied, ‘But don’t you know what I’m offering you?’ The walls of my flat melted away, and I was almost blinded by the light emanating around the Mad Hatter. He stood under a stone gazebo, framed by two lush green trees. The air was filled with birdsong and the chirping of insects, and the aroma of freshly baked goods was everywhere. I lowered the knife.
‘The world is far too cruel,’ he said, ‘what you deserve is peace. You deserve a place where you can be yourself, where no-one will ever judge you or use you, where you can party or laugh or think to your heart’s content.’
All of a sudden, we were back at my flat. ‘And all you have to do is die.
‘Yes, it’s an afterlife, but my own little afterlife; as pleasant as Heaven and easy to get to as Hell. All you have to do is let Carol kill you.’
‘Once Carol kills you, she’ll turn back into a doll. Everyone who ever saw her as a human will forget they did. Edward will get the blame for it, and while he’s being taken to jail, he’ll be screaming that it was the doll’s fault, and of course, you’ll get to watch it from the afterlife. You can watch it whenever you want.’
He laughed, and I shoved the knife right into his throat.
I was back in bed.
My first two questions – “Was it a dream?” and “Did I kill him?” – were answered by his voice entering my head once again.
The offer still stands. Let her kill you and you shall have what you deserve.
I didn’t sleep at all that night. I lay awake, playing with that knife, for hours and hours until I heard a knock on my door.
Edward, I thought. Edward and Carol. It could be no other.
Sure enough, I opened it and there they both were. When I saw Carol, however, I actually saw the doll she apparently was. A thing with a bin bag dress, a balloon head and arms made of bottles and duct tape. Yet I could still see that smile.
‘Thanks for the letter,’ I spat.
‘Hey, come on,’ replied Edward, ‘it was just a joke. I’m just here because I think I left my watch…’
I wasn’t going to do what the Mad Hatter wanted. I wasn’t going to let her kill me. I wasn’t going to let Edward kill me.
If I did, I thought, Edward would get arrested. The police would give him what he deserves, the judge would give him what he deserves, the prison inmates would give him what he deserves.
But why, I thought, clutching the kitchen knife, should they be the ones to do it?