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[When Miss Parker was a little girl
She liked to play guessing games
Like I spy with my little eye
Something beginning with R
And guess what, guess what
You’re mad, I’m not
But now she hates them.]

Jarod likes making Miss Parker play guessing games. He sends her gifts and trinkets and things Sydney likes to call breadcrumbs. Sydney is convinced that:

- Jarod is always trying to tell him something
- Everything has a hidden message
- The world revolves around him.

Miss Parker disagrees. Sydney may be old and just a little wise, but half the time he has no idea what he’s talking about. If he does, it only makes sense in his head because she rarely grasps it and she doubts anyone else does. Miss Parker is certain that:

- Jarod is determined to torment her
- He makes her beg for pieces of her past that only make her life hell anyway
- The world actually revolves not around Sydney, but Jarod, whether she likes it or not.

Broots has his own opinion on the matter, but as he is but an insignificant computer technician and not very important at all when placed next to a glacial goddess and a profound psychologist, what he thinks doesn’t count for much.

(Round and round the mulberry bush
The monkey chased the weasel.)

Miss Parker’s daddy has assigned her to chase Jarod. He runs, she chases, there’s lots of yelling and they both get very tired very often and refuse to throw in their swords. It’s very much like a Caucus race – no start, no finish line, and people running around as they please. It’s the kind of story she’d tell to her grandchildren; smile and tease fondly that the day she met Jarod was the day her life turned into half a stopwatch with a mile-a-minute second hand that ticked backwards.

She likes to believe she might have grandchildren one day. She doesn’t know how exactly she expects to have grandchildren when she doesn’t have children and her degenerate stopwatch is fast ticking away her chances to have them. It doesn’t matter, though. It’s not the truth, it’s just something she likes to believe, for the sake of just believing in something. She practices the tale in her head sometimes, and if she tweaks it just right, she can make it sound like a messed up courtship. It works that way, and sounds half normal.

It’s a bit hard to be half normal when all you’ve got is half a degenerate stopwatch with a mile-a-minute second hand that ticks backwards, but Miss Parker makes do with what she’s got.

[Goosey, Goosey Gander
Where shall I wander?
Upstairs, downstairs
And in my lady’s chamber
There I met and old man
Who wouldn’t say his prayers
I took him by the left leg
And threw him down the stairs.]

Once upon a time there was a boy. He was a clone, and he was Jarod version 2.0 (or perhaps 2.669697 depending on how long it took them to get there) or what Miss Parker likes to call the result of someone saying “We fucked up – do over”.

He’s not very different to Jarod, Miss Parker thinks. After all, he looks like Jarod and talks like Jarod and according to Sydney he does sims like Jarod too so woot, party for Miss Parker, they shouldn’t need Jarod back any more.

Only they do, so don’t blow up the balloons just yet.

Sydney was also the one that said Jarod version 2.669697 was like Jarod 1.0 in every way except for the one that counted. Which, apparently, was his soul. She might have thought it was an admirable sentiment and even kind of sweet and true at the time, but now that she’s seen the way Sydney’s so keen to have his hands back on his science project, she knows it’s crud and pours herself another drink with her feet up on the desk and laughs like the wicked witch of the west.

She doesn’t have a soul, Jarod doesn’t have a soul and neither does Gemini. They’re all products of the Centre and the Centre sells souls; therefore they have none and they are one and the same only with their second hands pointing to different times on their degenerate stopwatches.

As white rabbits in Wonderland she sees Gemini as, ‘Oh gosh, fans and gloves, look at the time! I’m going to be late!’ whereas Jarod is a less energetic, less white and more weary rabbit cursing out loud and quietly repeating to himself, ‘I’m late, I’m late, with a hop, skip and a jump, the Duchess, I’m late,’ even if Jarod isn’t overly fond of cursing. It’s a big and hardly noticeable difference all at once.

Miss Parker finds it very hard to fault Gemini on where he fits into the dust covered memories of her childhood --

He’s very easily led around by the nose by a little girl in a frock with a bow in her hair, for one. Miss Parker understands, because she’s often led around by the girl herself, no matter how hard she argues and tells her to go sit down in the corner and just shut up godammit you’re dead you died thirty years ago.

She told Gemini, once, that she wanted to help him because she saw pain in another’s eyes like she sees it in his. She told him she didn’t want to turn away anymore. She knows that her idea of helping him was really only to help herself - somehow make things right in the muddled mess that is her head and pretend she’s redeemed herself and stop feeling guilty.

When she sits down beside him his eyes light up, just a little. She’s seen it a thousand times before and her lips twist as her gut wrenches.

“You know… girls mature faster than boys,” she says, and they both wonder why, and it’s not clear which of them has a better reason to.

Gemini is Jarod version 2.669697; he has no recollections of families and warmth. He never grew up with a girl who taught him to break rules and crave human affection. He doesn’t have pesky morals and he doesn’t run away. He does what he’s told and what people want him to.

(She kisses him like scotch on nails – it’s like stepping through the looking glass)

It’s her turn to start from the beginning and fix things she’s done wrong in the past. The list is long, full of things difficult to amend. She works with what she’s got. For the moment, she has Gemini, and that’s damned fine by her.

[When Miss Parker was a little girl
She broke a mirror
Accidentally on purpose
To see for herself
What bad luck it brought
And in it’s shards
Her reflection was caught
And now her life is topsy turvy.]

The Centre says jump and Gemini jumps. He does what everyone says in an invisible collar, and Miss Parker thinks if you fucking petted him he’d rub up against your legs and purr.

She also finds it all very sad.

Every day, when he sees her, he says, “Hello, Miss Parker, how are you today?” like theirs is the most normal relationship in the world. It makes her want to dig her nails into him and so she does; tears at his flesh with them as she bruises his lips.

“You’re nothing like him,” she tells him one day as she stands with her back to him, smoking a cigarette.
“Just him,” she replies absently, and they say no more.

That is, no more, until --

“You’re insane,” someone tells her. “You’re going to get yourself killed.”

And --

“Maybe,” she replies.

Somewhere off in the distance, a man dressed in drag and a crown yells, “Off with her head!” and people laugh and rub their hands together.

Mad as the hatter, neurotic as the rabbit and time keeps on ticking. It all makes perfect sense, like drinking tea out of half a teacup and pretending it’s hot tea and not just plain water someone fetched from the tap in around the back. Pretending is always what they do best.

She plays croquet – ball through two hoops, three hoops, four - and steals one of the Queen of Heart’s tarts and cackles. Life goes on - the rabbit flees, (the rat scurries), claws glint like diamonds in the sun and the cat grins a Cheshire grin of teeth and malice.

[Gay go up, and gay go down
To ring the bells of London Town
When will you pay me?
Say the bells at Old Bailey
Oranges and lemons
Say the bells of St Clement’s
Kettles and pans
Say the bells of St Ann’s
(No time for gatherings
Say the bells of St Catherine’s)
Here comes a candle to light the way to bed
And here comes the chopper to chop off your head.]

She says, “Have some tea,” (a drink, Jarod, have a drink while I’m still paying) and wonders why she doesn’t feel guilty for not telling him. For not telling him anything.

And so they drink. Neither is sure why Jarod obliges, but they sit like the Mad Hatter and the March Hare and drink tea that isn’t really tea. Miss Parker supposes that the little girl inside of her is the Dormouse, as though she lays in slumber she does occasionally rear her less than ugly head and tells good stories.

“How are you feeling?”

But. Not. That. Story.

There’s a chain smoking caterpillar on a mushroom – that’s her. Puffing rings and bitching about the world. Eat me, drink me, goddamn poison me.

“It’s hard isn’t it?”
“The same thing you wish for with all your heart – your freedom – is also your deepest, darkest fear.”

Miss Parker wonders if this is how Alice felt.

[Peter Pan was a boy
Who never wanted to grow up
He learned to fly
And went away
But promised to return another day
But Wendy just grew up.]

Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum, that’s Broots and Sydney. Sitting around talking nonsense and caring about things that shouldn’t be cared about.

The rat scurries and the Cheshire cat disappears, alright, though not before flashing his smug smile that makes Miss Parker want to blow a smoke ring big enough to wrap around his neck and strangle him.

At this point, Gemini decides he wants to help.

“He killed my parents.”

You’re daft, Miss Parker thinks. I killed your parents.

(Mad, absolutely hopping mad)

Stuck in the Centre, she could cry. Cry and cry and drown the place, only she’s grown in such away over the years that she has molded to its shape. She sees the door, has the key, but it doesn’t make walking through it any easier.

“I spoke to him, the other day.”

There’s no one else to talk to. He’s a pet, a lap dog, a stupid kitten, a parrot with the ability to imitate.

He wears an invisible smoke ring around his neck like a collar. He’s too blind to realize he’s as free as a bird.

“My God,” she groans. “You don’t get it, do you? Run away, for Christ’s sake. You could walk out of here no one would bat an eyelid.”
“Why would I want to leave, Miss Parker? I’m safe here. The Centre looks after me. You’re here. There’s no point in running away.”

(Pussy cat, Pussy cat
Where have you been?
I’ve been to London to visit the Queen
Pussy cat, Pussy cat
What did you there?
I frightened a little mouse
Under her chair.)

“I want permission to use him to hunt down Jarod.”

Miss Parker stands tall and cool. This is not madness, or despair, or irritation. This is ice.

Once upon a time, a little girl was bored. She was so bored, she followed a rabbit down a rabbit hole (through an air vent) and much trouble ensued.

When Miss Parker gets bored, she plays chess.

(queen to E4)

“I’m afraid you can’t, Angel – it would be interrupting –”
“It wouldn’t be interrupting anything,” she snaps. “He sits there bouncing off the walls bored all day. Stalks the hallways and wonders what’s hit him when he comes across something he’s never seen before. He needs to get out of here.”
“Out of here? Not possible.”


“ – needs to be conditioned to the outside world. It’s where, in my opinion, you went wrong with Jarod. You have to answer his curiosity in order to stop it.”


A lie. A white lie. Gemini’s quite happy where he is and has no desire to leave as it is, but Daddy doesn’t need to know that. Miss Parker’s bored, and wants to introduce a new element to the Caucus race.

“Once. Just once. And we’ll see where it takes us, eh?”


White wins.

Little Bo Peep has lost her sheep / And doesn’t know where to find them
Leave them alone / For they will come home / Wagging their tails behind them.

Little Bo Peep fell fast asleep / And dreamt she heard them bleating
But when she awoke / She found it a joke / For they were still a-fleeting.

Little Bo Peep she took her crook / Determined for to find them
She found them indeed / It made her heart bleed / For they’d left all their tails behind them.

“I don’t understand why he ran away in the first place.”
“You wouldn’t.”

Miss Parker thinks that, as Jarod version 2.669697, Gemini should goddamn well just be able to know where Jarod is, without having to think about it because one should be able to just know. It is possible, of course – Miss Parker just knows things all the time.

Miss Parker knows that:

- Jarod is somewhere nearby
- There’s little chance she’s going to find him
- She’s stuck in hell and there’s not a damn thing she can do about it.

Sydney thinks that Miss Parker is insane, that she’s going to get herself killed. Broots thinks maybe, but he also knows he is but an insignificant computer technician whose opinion isn’t worth much.

She’s walking a tightrope, sitting on the wall with Humpty Dumpty and if she puts one foot wrong, falls, she’ll break into a million pieces.

But that’s okay – she’s been broken for years.

She chain smokes like a caterpillar on a toadstool, and instead of looking for Jarod, she takes his figurative twin up to the highest building she can find and makes him take in the world.

“You could be free,” she says.

(off with her head!)

“But the Centre –”

“ – is just a pack of cards.”

Nothing but a pack of cards.

[The lion and the unicorn
Were fighting for the crown
The lion beat the unicorn
All round about the town
Some gave them white bread
Some gave them brown
Some gave them plum cake
And sent them out of town.]

Miss Parker could say jump, and Gemini would jump.

She wonders if she should.

The little girl inside – the Dormouse – wakes up again and she feels suddenly like she could cry, cry and cry and cry and see where it took her. It just all seems so right somehow, and yet wrong all the same.

One might say that ‘stealing the queen of hearts’ tart’ ought to be the same as saying ‘stealing the queen of tarts’ heart.’ The knave that took them ran away and hid them, leaving her cruel and bitter.

A voice in the distance yells,

“Off with her head.”

There’s no difference between her saying it or hearing it.

When Miss Parker drinks (tea, tea from half a tea cup, two days early and still running late) with Jarod, he asks her who she is.

“Who are you?” she counters.
“I don’t know.”

And neither of them do.

“I don’t know who I am anymore,” she whispers.
“Neither do I,” he says, and leaves her sitting all alone.

She stops for a minute, just to feel, just to feel something – and she feels herself disappearing. Not quickly, not immediately, like the banishing of her emotions. It’s slow and deliberate. She’s evaporating, chain smoking like a caterpillar on a mushroom, what are you talking about?

(One side will make you grow taller, the other shall make you smaller)

Her head, or her heart. Grow, prosper, wilt and die.

Eat me, drink me, poison me, lay down and die die die you’re already dead.

(Hickory dickory dock / The mouse ran up the clock
The clock struck one / The mouse fell down / Hickory dickory dock
Hickory dickory dock / The mouse ran up the clock
The clock struck two / The mouse he flew / Hickory dickory dock
Hickory dickory dock / The mouse ran up the clock
The clock struck three / The mouse did flee / Hickory dickory dock
Hickory dickory dock / No mouse ran up the clock
The clock was broke / The mouse did choke / Hickory dickory dock)

Click, click, click – the ball rounds the rings and clunks to a stop. Gemini isn’t Jarod version 2.669697; he isn’t Jarod at all.

There’s a glare, reflected in a pool of tears, that echoes of the past. Decades ago and back on the other side of the looking glass, the wicked witch turned her back on the world, she drank, she chain smoked, she put her feet up on the desk and cackled while she began to fade away.

“Off with her head,” they say, but when they find her, at the bottom of the rabbit hole and the key further out of reach than ever, there’s nothing left to.

A generate stopwatch, ticking backwards. Kcit. Kcit. Kcit.

Gemini, on time, waning, so incredibly wrong. He does his best, of course, but Sydney thinks she’s insane – and yet so incredibly psychologically fascinating - and tries his best to keep her head from the clouds. Broots has his own worthless opinion and they chase, tag, you’re it, as fast as you can, and Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum are so busy bumbling around they barely notice nobody’s running anymore.

As a rabbit in Wonderland, Jarod is late. How late, so late, always so goddamn late.

And all of a sudden, he’s too late.

(curiouser and curiouser…)

“Strange dreams,” Miss Parker murmurs, and that is all they are, where one cannot escape from.

For really, when one thinks about it…

What resemblance is there between a raven and a writing desk?

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