A.G. Howard, 2013, pg 337-339
My fingers lock up at his base of the rubies, unable to move. Underneath Queen Red hairpin, my scalp flames. White- hot tendrils reach down from my skull into my spine, nailing my entire body into place.
The sensation migrates to my arms, setting my veins on fire. They glow green again, like in the spirit garden, sprouting into ivy. The same sensation runs up my legs beneath the wide skirt. This time, the vines don’t recede into my skin. They grow larger; expand with my breath- a living, breathing plant growing out of me.
I scream as the vines strike leafy snakes, snapping Gossamer from my shoulder and lashing out at everyone around me.
“What is happening?” Grenadine wails, the ribbons on her fingers al whispering at once.
“Your husband’s sacrifice was for naught!” Ivory screams. “Red’s spirit was in the hairpin… she’s united with the girl… they are one being!”
The knights and guards, fearing for their queen, turn their weapons on me. Morpheus uses the distraction to whip his wings closed around his chest, knocking the remaining knights off him. With a turn of his heel, he manoeuvres behind Ivory and catches her around the waist, vorpal sword at her throat.
“Step away from Queen Alyssa, or I slice Ivory in twain and awaken the bandersnacth for a feeding”.
Everyone freezes. Even Gossamer hovers in midair. I want to make a run for the door, but I can’t move. Queen Red is fighting for control over my body, and it takes every last drop of concentration and strength to keep her contained.
“All of you”- Morpheus gestures towards the door- “get out. This is between the three of us now. Or the four of us, if you count the queen you stabbed in the back a lifetime ago”.
Gossamer’s the first to leave, her green shoulders drooping Grenadines takes the jabberlock box from Ivory and walks backward toward the entrance along with her guards, nearly tripping over some of the dead soldiers on their way out. The elfin knights stand at the ready, waiting for a command from Ivory.
“Do not test me.” Morpheus spreads his wings high and presses the blade to her jugular until a puckered indentation appears.
“Go,” she rasps.
A wave of frustration ripples through the knights as they back away, swords lowered. But the emotions can only be felt, not seen; their faces remain impassive. The door slams shut behind them. Dragging Ivory with him, Morpheus locks and bars the door, then turns to me, narrowing his eyes at the crown on my head. “My part is done, wretched witch. I am now free of you”
“Well enough…” Red’s answer rings through my head and forces its way from my mouth on a gust of air. “But I have expanded my expectations. Being imprisoned for so long, I deserve retribution. Bring your captive closer. I want her crown-magic as well. Do it, and I’ll offer you a position at my side as king, ruling over all of Wonderland.”
Ivory struggles, but Morpheus holds the blade steady at her throat. Locking my gaze with his, he grimaces miserable “Why didn’t you listen?” he asks, voices pinched. “The wish I gave you… if you had used it as I instructed… it would’ve saved you from this end. My challenge was for you to sit on the throne with Red possessing your body. I tried to offer you a way out.”
If the queen wasn’t holding me up, I’d faint dead away. My fate is to be a vessel- only one half of myself- tethered to Wonderland for all eternity?
This extract depicts mental and physical survival through multiple characters in the world of Wonderland. Psychological survival is highlighted through the protagonist Alyssa throughout the whole extract. At the beginning of the extract, she experiences excruciating pain and compares this pain to ‘flames’ in her scalp. She continues to use fire imagery to explain her discomfort, as fire is an uncontrollable element, and fluid, which suggests danger and that is exactly what Alyssa subconscious is in danger. Not only does she experience pain, but she also loses control of her own body. By not being able to control her own body, it scares her causing her to ‘scream’ when she becomes a ‘breathing plant’, she has no power over what the vines are doing. The only power she has is to be startled by her actions, and similar to the people around her, Alyssa is afraid of what may happen next and what she may do. By the end of the extract, she realises that her fate is to be a ‘vessel’, a prisoner inside her own body. This does not show how Alyssa survives this imprisonment within her body. However, the extract gives a glimpse into how she does not become a vessel for the Red Queen without fighting for her freedom.
In one interpretation it could be seen that the Red Queen is also trying to fight for her freedom. The Red Queen has been imprisoned and has gone through her own mental endurance through her imprisonment. The desire to be free of captivity is what drives her to try and possess Alyssa’s body. Furthermore, by surviving her incarceration, she loses her humanity, only being ruled by the longing to gain ‘retribution’ for being imprisoned, instead of feeling any remorse for trying to take control of a body that is not her own. The Red Queen wants the power she once had, demonstrating when she uses the vines to strike at everyone in the room at the beginning of the extract. The Red Queen is not subtle when trying to gain power over Alyssa; the only thing that consumes her is rage, which is why the fire imagery is used to describe her.
The next character to demonstrate psychological survival is Morpheus. The moment that he realises that Alyssa is in danger, he becomes strong enough to overcome the knights and guards. Morpheus’s reaction to Alyssa being in danger highlights that it mentally tortures him to know that Alyssa is being threatened. He would rather endanger Ivory by having the ‘vorpal sword at her throat’, and threaten her life, to save Alyssa. It seems that he never wanted Alyssa harmed, making sure she had an escape route with the ‘wish’. However, he confesses that it is his fault for putting Alyssa in the position of being a ‘vessel’ due to him having being bound to the Red Queen, stating that he is ‘free’. He had to survive being bound to the Red Queen and complete the challenge that was set for him.
The last character to be in danger of surviving is Ivory. In this extract, Ivory seems to be the most unsuspecting character. Each of the other individuals has either psychologically survived their own imprisonment or is in the process of being controlled. Ivory was a bystander who is now being used as leverage. The knights and guards that are meant to protect her within the extract are sent away, and a sword at her neck threatens her life. Therefore at any moment, she could literally lose her head. Knowing this must frighten her, she stills sends her protectors away.
What ties all the characters together and demonstrates the overarching theme of psychological survival is that they are all battling the idea that they may not be able to survive the incident. While the Red Queen is merely a spirit, if she does not survive, there is no way of physically surviving, because she is only corporeal. However, if she survives then Alyssa will not mentally survive, she would just become a spectator. In this extract no one highlights a coping mechanism, it is merely just an instinctive reaction to just survive.