It is the middle of the night, and I suddenly become concerned that he will attack my cats, or infect them with his disease. So, I twitter my location, my situation, and ask for advice. A woman answers that she is a vet and makes house calls--would I like her to come visit? In great relief, I accept.
The woman arrives. We chat mildly while she is fussing with her medical kit, and I work up to gingerly petting the poor creature. His hair is mostly gone, he is covered in sores and wounds. His entire foot is swollen and bleeding. In spite of his terrible pain, he is purring against me, taking comfort in this rare moment of affection.
I turn to ask the woman a question when suddenly the creature under my hand runs away, and I see that it is actually a rat. It scurries into the fireplace. The woman strides over to the fire place as if on cue, and deftly starts a fire. I scream, and run to put out the fire which has already started to blaze at an intense heat. The creature is nowhere to be seen.
I realize that the woman is insane. Completely, entirely, insane. After a brief struggle, I have her incapacitated, holding her arms firmly behind her back. I laboriously maneuver to the medicine cabinet, where I manage to get a xanax out while still keeping her secured. I force in her mouth, but she refuses to swallow.
I suddenly realize that there is someone else in the room. It is her accomplice, dressed in an elaborate brocade cloak. She effortlessly slips from my grasp, and I see now that she is not an old woman at all. She is a young man, wearing a long green coat, a top hat of the same color, and an ironic grin. I know then that this has all been an elaborate hoax, and he and his cohorts mean to rob me and set my house on fire.
The new-coming companion guards me amiably while the emerald mad hatter goes about collecting my valuables. I am angry and afraid. I see the hilt of a dagger peeking out of from the folds of the brocade coat of my keeper, and in a desperate impulse I grab it and stab him in the throat.
Blood gushes everywhere. He tells me, with a wry, bemused smile that he supposes it is only fair since I too am already dead and just don't know it yet. I look at my wrist to see three bright scratches, from the poison that I had been treated with in the earlier scuffle.
"Is this going to suck?" I ask.
"Depends how you feel about lots of pain," he replies with a grin.
I laugh without mirth and let out a weary sigh.
He leaves me to join his friends--there are dozens of them now--and die with the people he loves. They walk outside, and I follow, dazed.
I watch as each member of the crew, in their resplendent attire, walks across the street to one of the houses in a row, with white picket fences. The mad hatter transforms into a man made of clockwork, then like the Cheshire cat, fades away.
Each remaining member of the band has paused at their respective houses, and in a single moment, each figure suddenly and completely transforms their posture, their expression, their gait. From the spry thief making away with his ill gotten goods, to a father shuffling out to the curb before work to take out the trash; from a mercenary bent over his wound, to a bleary eyed man bending to fetch the morning paper before his coffee. Like a puppet suddenly freed from its strings, each slumps into the manner and being of the pedestrian world. My neighbors, going about their morning tasks.
Then I woke up.