Alice in the Massacre - Chapter 17
“Unfortunately, indeed. You certainly killed the Hatter.” Raffi said nonchalantly. Philrain tilted her head and regarded Alice.
“You don’t remember…?”
“Yeah… my head hurts from trying to remember it…” She rubbed her temples and shook her head mildly. The headache still hasn’t subsided.
“It could be a temporary shock from fear. You shall have a meal and get some rest.”
With a knife, Philrain sliced the bread into bite-sized pieces and laid them out on a plate. Alice took a breath and watched her.
“T-Thanks… But why…?”
Why are you taking care of me? When she tried to ask, Philrain smiled before saying.
“Don’t be concerned. We priestesses are meant to protect the Angels.”
With Philrain attending to her every need, there were few hindrances. Alice soon became accustomed to the thumping of the train and fell into a deep sleep, partly due to the effects of the medicine. Philrain was sitting on a chair in the corner of the room, studying a book, when Raffi, curled up beside Alice, called out to her.
“Aren’t you going to rest?”
“I’ll be sleeping on your couch in a little while. I don’t need to be subjected to the attention of a Nightmare.”
“You are a provocative woman… I have no intention of antagonizing you.”
“I do understand that… If there had been, this place would have been a bloodbath long ago.” Saying this indifferently, Philrain drew in a breath and eyed Raffi. “Did she truly kill the Original Nightmare? I’ve heard the story, but… in general, I’m very…”
“It may be better for me to tell you…” Raffi remarked, directing his red eyes straight at Philrain. “There’s a Bandersnatch in Alice.”
“Bandersnatch…?’ Philrain questioned back as if the term was unfamiliar to her. Raffi nodded and continued.
“Normally, the Bandersnatch is a mere being that flutters about within Alice’s body. But when danger befalls her, it emerges and unleashes an attack on the enemy.”
“Is the ‘thing’ that killed the Hatter… called the Bandersnatch?”
“Indeed.” Affirming her words succinctly, Raffi heaved a breath. “‘Up until now’, Alice has had some control over the Bandersnatch. But ‘this time’, Alice seems to have been born with the majority of her memories absent. She seems to have forgotten how to control the Bandersnatch, which is extremely dangerous.”
Philrain placed a hand over her mouth and gulped.
“I know you can’t follow most of what I’m saying, but I can tell you this. Once the Bandersnatch is out in the open, that thing makes no distinction between friend and foe. All living things around Alice are killed soundlessly and instantaneously, with no exceptions whatsoever.”
“What can be done…?”
When Philrain pressed the issue in a soft voice, Raffi answered in a suppressed tone.
“I recommend that you spare Alice any fear. Unfortunately, I don’t know how to control that thing either. This girl, she is in a lot of danger right now.”
The train rumbled… and came to a stop with a resounding noise of air being released. Three days had elapsed since the fight with the Hatter. Alice’s physical strength had returned considerably. Upon feeling the train coming to a halt, she called out to Philrain, who was about to lower the food tray.
“Phil, has the train stopped?”
Philrain nodded, looking up at the clock on the wall before saying.
“Yes, it’s about time.”
“The train is moving along a track that connects to an underground passage. At each relay point, there is a ‘station’.” Pointing her fingertips upwards, Philrain twirled. “The tracks are built between the stations. We travel by refueling and loading the train at the stations.”
“The train will halt at this station for roughly half a day. There’s also a market in the underground mall, so if you require anything, I can supply it for you.”
“Is it safe to stop here for half a day?”
When Raffi interjected, Philrain gave a nod and continued.
“The market where the train stops is surrounded by a simple shelter. In case of emergency, we can simply escape by train…”
Alice’s mind flashed back to the image of the Nightmares that had invaded the shelter with no difficulty. Shaking her head and brushing the image away, Philrain offered Alice a brief smile as she spoke.
“Would you like to visit the market with me…?” Approaching the puzzled Alice, Philrain set down the tray and grasped her hand. “Your mood will be darker if you’re cooped up all the time. You might want to get some fresh air.”
Raffi was on the point of saying something, but Alice intercepted him and opened her mouth.
“Can’t I have a quick look around?”
“You shouldn’t leave this place, Alice. No matter how far away you are, the Nightmare is still out to get you.”
Alice shrugged her shoulders and replied to Raffi, who appeared to be dumbfounded.
“Yes… I guess so.”
Raffi, at the sight of Alice, let out a sigh.
“Okay. I’ll join you… If it becomes dangerous, you must return to the train.”
“Are you sure?”
“For a little while only… Besides, I’m more concerned about the stress you’ll put on yourself by being cooped up here.”
Hearing this, Philrain huffed slightly. But she quickly plastered a smile on her face and grabbed Alice’s hand.
“Let’s go ask for permission to descend.”
Alice responded with a smile. Raffi’s… whiskers twitched as he attempted to keep up with the girls. The cat stared up into the air and bit his teeth.
Already… that’s absurdly swift…
He muttered deep in his chest as if to vomit. Then the black cat stepped out, trailing the two girls.
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