When Rue first saw the houses that grazed the city, she thought about the tiny people living in big houses; what kind of lives they had; what was their idea of fun?
Now as Rue skipped over the steps of Manor, she realised that the big houses filled the space of emotion from the owner's lives. Every house she followed her mother to for her day-jobs seemed to tell the same stories: elegant parents with no time for their stranded children, grey hues, a myriad of maids with endless things to clean and endless foods to make.
But this particular house was different. Her mother started frequenting this place for long hours and so did Rue. That's when she met the kids who were currently looming over a spot in the garden. Parting with her mother, Rue walked to the group.
"Is that… blood?" She tip-toed to get a better look.
The group jerked and scattered.
"God. You move as quietly as a mouse," Nonna muttered, blue painted nails pressed over her heart.
"Madame Wonderland is up to something again," Jaiser noted, dusting grass off his pants.
"Let's go and check it out," Derin stepped towards the house without another word and the trio followed.
Madame Wonderland was Jaiser's nickname for Wonder. Just like her name, everything she did was a wonder. When Wonder's parents moved here, there was a big two storied room inside the house they couldn't find any use of. So they handed the keys over to Wonder. She had the creative freedom to do whatever she wanted with the room.
The first thing Wonder did was cover the door (which was on the second floor) with the same golden wallpaper as the walls surrounding it. Then she attached a big mirror on the hook and a side-piece as if it were a part of the wall, a little table with trinkets for décor. The globe on the "table" worked as a knob for the room, and only Wonder, her parents and the kids knew of it.
Every single thing inside the Wonderland had intricate details etched to them: the light-bulbs with specks of glitter on them, the chandelier with jewels embedded on it, each of the steps of the spiral staircase that led downstairs to her lair had been painted by Wonder herself. You could come here and spend hours gaping at everything. It was Wonder's workshop and her museum. The kids found themselves a space to hangout in the room between all the chaos.
Today as they turned the globe and entered Wonderland, they found Wonder on the pale couch. Her hands were bathed in red, dripping onto a dark container.
"Yeah, not creepy at all," Jaiser sighed.
"And what might you be upto today?" Nonna drawled and peeked into the container. She gasped. "Is that a heart?"
"Is that a human?" Rue looked at the figure lying beside the stairs. Rolled on its side, red liquid was seeping out under it.
"Wonder, did you do this?" Derin whispered.
"Do you need our help?" Nonna asked, wide-eyed.
"Should I bring the mop?" Rue added.
"Mmhmm? Oh no, that's Tahira. Hey, get up," Wonder said. "And this heart is fake, of course."
Just then, the figure drenched in red but unharmed sat up. "I'm alive, but your reaction to whether she killed someone was a bit terrifying."
"Was that supposed to be a prank?" Rue asked, stifling a bit of annoyance.
"Huh? No. I was staring at that." She points to the paint beneath. "I was carrying the paint buckets for Wonder when I stumbled and dropped one."
The paint bucket fell just by the stairs, and volumes of red spilled onto the colored steps.
"Oh no… Wonder," Nonna cried. "The work on the stairs is ruined!"
"Leave it, it just gave me more ideas to work on." Wonder mumbled from her place.
"What's the heart for?"
"Decorative for the knob on this side."
"You're making a real life heart shaped knob?"
Then, quietly, Wonder added, "Would you have really helped me with murder?"
The group looked at her, jaw slacked.
The oddities of Wonder kept them together. The group was so fiercely protective of their friend. Who would Wonder want to kill anyway?
Turns out, Wonder had a list of people she wanted to eliminate from the face of the earth. Even if they were evil, it unnerved Rue; this was a side of Wonder she had not seen before. Wonder was a puzzle they were half-way through solving; but within minutes, Wonder stepped over the puzzle and scattered all the pieces away.