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Mad Hatted

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The wind blew swiftly through the flowing ebony black hair coming from a scrawny man perhaps of his early to mid twenties. Around him were floating images of playing cards, a few dice, and ribbons here and there. It was like a psychedelic paradise; these objects must have had a meaning deeper than David, of all people, could comprehend. Perhaps these were passerby on the train of thought, or simply desires for objects unnecessary of this life. Whatever they were, he reached his hand out and looped a pocket watch through his fingers; stroking his thumb against it as if to brush off the dust. It seemed to tick in his hands, and when it struck another hour, it whirred and popped into several pieces after he had suspended it from his grasp.

“This place… is but a dream world. None of this… none of this…”

The man murmured; a figure popping up in front of him seconds later. From its haggard appearance, the teacher immediately knew who it was; reluctant to say the creature’s name. Whatever it was, it gave him a toothy, lopsided grin, before tracing slow, dragged out foot steps towards him; a cat tail wavering and curling behind him.

“Oooh~! David, is that you? Long time no see, daddy dearest! How have things been for you, hmm? How is all the food you’ve been hoarding up these past few days? You know I’ll have to get my hands on those tasty little things, right~?”

David remained silent, as the other slithered around him like a serpent; tracing his lengthy claws down the teacher’s cheek. He cringed, but to his surprise, no blood was drawn; the stinging and sharp sensation was enough, he supposed. The ears on the other thing’s head twitched, and he moved to stand a few feet in front of the teacher, who merely glared at them in reply.

“Wha? That’s no way to look at someone! Staring is impolite, you know~!”

They made small waves with their fingers; admiring how the long, black claws traveled with them like the gleam of a flashlight. His tail strode through the air like a paint brush, and his attention was soon brought back to the teacher, who showed no change in emotion.

“… Why. Why do you do this? I’ve…”

David couldn’t find the words to get it out. There was too much to explain, and demons could only comprehend so little; at least that’s how it was with this cat. They blinked a couple times, before standing back upright, more upright than previously, anyway.

“Cheshire Cat tells no secrets~ That’s between me and me alone. Think of this as a test… you have so much more to realize before you can turn it in! With that… I present to you a gift. I insist you take it; I found it in my possession. It’s… nothing much, really. A little thing to put on your head!”

The cat approached the teacher, and in his hands he held a rather large hat. It was a sort of chocolaty color with an orange ribbon tied around the part where the top part met the rim. The bow was perfectly done, and in some crooks and crannies, there were pins and even a little card that read ’10/6’. Whatever that meant… it didn’t matter. He situated the hat upon the other’s head, and stood back to admire their work.

“It looks marvelous on you! Your outfit doesn’t really match, though… no matter! Ah, how lovely! You look stunning in that new hat! Mweeheehee! Have fun!”

Within a blink of an eye, the Cheshire Cat vanished into midair. David was left standing in silence; his hands slowly lifting up to feel the material of the obscure hat he had been given by this here cat. It felt… nice against his skin. Was it perhaps a sort of valuable linen? How did that demon get a hold of something so… delicate? The harsh wind blew through his coat, and he had to pin it down by slamming his palms to his shoulders.

“This hat… what is he trying to say? It… feels lovely, it feels so…”

It feels so right.

“I… I don’t know what I’m saying anymore. This is nonsense! It’s just a hat! Hmm… I’ll have a word with the White Rabbit. Perhaps he will know… Cheshire is an unreliable source.”

Off the teacher went to find the White Rabbit. Of course, it wouldn’t be too hard to find him; heck, he couldn’t move. He always intimidated David when they met, however. That piercing glare, half bitten off snowy white rabbit ear, hair that extended outward like decayed tree roots? Who wouldn’t be afraid of this guy? It was weird enough that he seemed to hold a fatherly liking towards children.

The scenery was as grim as he remembered; a tombstone here, a tombstone there. Dying, dying, everywhere. Yet there the rabbit stood; the clock to his pocket watch planted firmly against his chest. He was glaring down at his nails, before reverting his attention upward; those red pupils piercing through the darkness like exit signs. His sullen frown gave it away that he was the same as ever, and the teacher was not weary to approach.

“David… what brings you here? I’m limited of information by this point.”

It was as if he were already making excuses to get this over with. It wasn’t until he notice the hat did his threatening eyes widen to that of shock. His pupils shrunk momentarily, and he appeared as if he had tried to step back.

“Where did you get that?! You don’t understand the consequences one has received over the millennia-“

“Rabbit. I… I’m fine. I like this hat. There’s nothing wrong with it, even if I do hold my suspicions. The Cheshire Cat did give it to me… I’m fine. If anything odd does happen to me, I want you to harbor the children.”

The teacher interfered, only getting a baffled bunny in return. He blinked several times, before glancing towards the tombstone closest to the right, then back at the teacher. David had never seen him like this before… was the White Rabbit always this hesitant? Perhaps not, and it was the influence of the hat… no. It was any ordinary hat!! There was already a fuss about it, and he hadn’t had it for more than ten minutes.

“You know I’d… I’d love to, but alas. The… you know, can enter and exit as he pleases. He will do whatever he can to torment the children to no end, and slurp the souls out of them like noodles from a soup. They’re innocence and their… their ignorance to the world… Even I am uncertain if I would be able to contain myself. …no matter, I will make an effort not to devour any souls; not from any of your kin.”

Both exchanged nods, and David turned away and looked off into the direction in which he came from. The rabbit kept his silence until the teacher walked back for the door; gripping onto the door knob with such force that it broke under his grasp. The White Rabbit jumped; eyes widening as he watched the teacher with fish eyes. David’s head drooped down like a flower in contact with dew; the overall aura around him changing completely. The rabbit, upon noticing this, took the initiative to speak up.

“David…?”

Even if it was only his name, it had to have some effect. The teacher’s head slowly rose up until it stopped half way, before whipping his head around and grinning deviously at the rabbit. If there were any priceless expression for sheer terror, it had to be the one the White Rabbit had.

“Ah… ahaha!! What was that, little bunny~? I said I was okay, I said I was okay!!”

A devilish laughter rose up from his throat starting like a deep, treacherous rumble. The teacher flew the door open and proceeded out; the slam behind him nearly sending the graves to a crumble. It felt as if the breath had been taken out of him…

 

“You… you are… a mad, mad hatter…”