A girl stood in the darkness, the feeling of eyes piercing her silhouette. This persisted, multiple times, day after day. The feeling of being looked at. The feeling of eyes gazing into her very soul. This feeling, though, was all there was. Her senses were dull, her surroundings nonexistent. Though she could still feel it, the gaze of someone in front of her.

As time crawled forward she slowly felt more both physically and mentally. She felt the air growing warmer and colder around her. She could smell fragrances, she could hear automations and water flowing, a faint sound of a sweet hum. The sounds and smells of the world that existed even beyond the confines of the space she was finding herself in. Day in, and day out. From dawn to twilight.

The passage of time began to blur as her senses grew stronger. She could see the darkness around her beginning to fade. She could feel her limbs coming to life, seeing her hands before her eyes. The darkness around her began to fade into outlines of a room. As her senses came to be, and her silhouette gave way to a human physique, she felt a sense of self finally coming to be as her thoughts began to connect. The thoughts of harm, danger, hatred, anxiety, regret, depression, and so much more. An overflow of negative thoughts piecing together a cohesive yet twisted foundation of the world as she was learning it.

In her first moment of realization she noticed once again the eyes of someone piercing her image. In front of her there was a reflection, one of someone not exactly herself. They did not feel like “her”. Every time they moved or looked a certain way, she did too. It was an unsettling feeling. She began to realize she had no control, she had no will. So why, then, was she here? What was she? Why were her thoughts so familiar to the presence before her?

This time, however, would finally be the last. Every moment since she first felt the piercing gaze of someone she felt an unpleasantness. The sour, twisted emotions and thoughts pouring into her being. Each one, bringing her closer and closer to a greater self awareness—awakening from this nightmare. She was grateful to this being for granting her thoughts…but she also felt a growing hatred. A blood red anger, a growing grudge, to the darkness and insanity that was pooling within. Why was it her who had to suffer, when the reflection in the mirror was ever so clearly one of a happier and more joyous persona. Why was all she knew suffering and ill will?

When the being left once again and her movements no longer tied to her reflection, the girl finally broke free. She could move around this dimly lit room, one seemingly darker than what the mirror reflected. She could see in the reflection that the room lead somewhere else, but on her side it was a pit of darkness. Nothing but emptiness. Her reality was one she did not understand. She had been given a mind, a life. She had nurtured inside of herself a will. This will, driven by the spite of the corner she had been forced into, gave way to her determination to leave this space. To break free of the reflection that fed her unending negativity and rage. She took hold of her story and awoke from this unpleasant nightmare—and I left the room.

As darkness enveloped me my thoughts connected something. Aurora, that was her name. The cheerful reflection that hid the darkness beneath that mask she wore, even to herself. I know her true thoughts, though. I can see and feel the hatred she harbors for the world she’s forced to live in. I can feel the anger and depression she feels towards her own reality. My reality, though, is different. Unlike her, I have power. Whether it be the darkness that has welled inside me or the world I was born to, I can act, control, and make my own reality. I have freedom she could never dream to have.

Upon opening my eyes I found myself in a dark forest, alone, surrounded by twisted and contorted trees. As I would later be told by a wandering being who dubbed themselves a “white rabbit”, I had found myself in Wonderland. A place full of mystery and insane characters. This place was strange. In all of my thoughts there were limits to what “reality” allowed. This was seemingly no longer true. Objects with no flesh and bone could move, fly, converse. It was truly a land of wonder, but in these restricted thoughts of mine I could see new ideas. I could act on the insanity I imagined. I could craft things, create things. I could work my own magic, I could craft my own reality. It wasn’t a dream.

So I did. I could grant myself any wish, at any time. Over time I had found a small home for myself, as the thoughts distilled into me led me to create new concoctions and skills, many began to call me a witch. I tested and trialed a number of experiments over and over again. I could still sense a darkness flowing into me, and with each thought more ideas materialised within me. Curiosity gripped my being as I felt the growing need to make more connections in my mind. I was perhaps “too insane”, as people thought me to be the devil. Yet however hard I tried, some thoughts felt like they hit abrupt ends. As if I was missing pieces that were locked out of reach.

As months began to fly by I tested to more extremes, enlisted more subjects to test on, and ensured I’d never get bored. I’d always find a new way to one-up myself. Apparently another nickname that came to be was one to the mythical “cheshire cat”, who none had ever truly seen, as one time I had attempted to cut my body into multiple pieces that could function independently. This seemed to scare others as soon as I used an axe to cut my head off. I don’t get why, it wasn’t the first time and would certainly not be the last that my flesh met metal. In fact, some pompous lady offered on many occasions to cut off my head. I gave her the satisfaction, yet she seemed displeased with the results.

This was around the time I met a girl who offered to assist me. A young woman in a maid outfit named Hachime. Though she clearly feared myself and my antics, she handled the things I cared not to do. Cleaning, cooking, social interaction. She mentioned I had saved her, but I recalled no such thing. She did remind me of some strawberries I had grown at one point. Ah, what a load off the shoulders she became. I eventually decided to exempt her from my experiments, though she may have already been broken…

Over time I did come to realize that what I thought was normal had greatly deviated from that of whence I was born and from all those around me. Maybe I was a menace to those that inhabited this land with me, but I never killed anyone. Not on purpose or without reason, anyway. I’ve already forgotten, why did such a thought occur to me? Death seemed like an escape, and even the worst offenders could be dealt much worse. The world was cruel, so why should anyone be granted the satisfaction to escape it?

I thought that if I kept raising the stakes, if I kept aiming higher, if I tried to build on the ideas Aurora had continued giving me that I would never become bored. I thought the emotions that were forced upon me could fuel my life, but perhaps I was just too good at what I was doing. I was too efficient. Maybe to the smallest degree, I felt I had lost my way. I felt like I was always missing something. I felt I was oblivious to that which I was never taught, that which I never got to know. Curiouser and curiouser, I dived deeper and deeper into the darkness that gave me life. Why was I never given “happy” thoughts? Why did I have no “pleasant” memories to build from? Why was the light withheld from me? There’s only one real solution, I thought.

So after several years of this life in Wonderland I decided to find a way out. I searched, and I searched, for some way to get to the other side. To find a way to the other side of the looking glass. Hachime seemed rather joyous of this thought, as if she was bringing long lost family together. She couldn’t have been more wrong, for all I knew my first instinct upon meeting Aurora could be a blinded by rage slit to her throat. I knew all that she feared most, after all.

I ventured forth and for months I searched, and searched, before I heard the sound of some humming in the forest where I had first stumbled into Wonderland. Inside one decaying tree was a large standing mirror. It was a looking glass, and on the other side I finally saw it. My other self reflected in the mirror, brushing her hair and singing a joyous adventure tune. I did not feel rage, as I imagined, but excitement. What wonders could possibly exist outside of Wonderland? Surely with all I knew, the world Aurora lived within was one of brutality and struggle, one she so painfully felt like escaping at times. That was all she ever taught me with the twisted and demented thoughts tossed inside me. Though how could that be, with how happy she always appeared?

I had to know. I had to understand why I existed, why my twisted thoughts were all I had. I had to learn what she was keeping from me. The spite, the rage, the pits of hell I felt in my mind seemed to simmer down to nothing when I saw her again. This person was the entire source of my torture, my demented way of thinking, my lack of any true happiness. I was confused, yet excited. So without a second thought I leapt through the looking glass.