All Stories, Fantasy

We’re All Mad Here by Martina Braunegger

“What are you in for?”



I had a feeling we would become friends.

This is a story about insanity. Well, about my attempt to stay sane inside insanity. No, the story about me battling insanity. No, about my victory over the insanity of life. No, still not right… or true. It’s a story about me. Hi. So buckle up. It’s going to be a bumpy ride!

Once upon a time in a land far away there lived a princess, beautiful as can be. She had all the attributes one could wish for combined in a delicate figure. Everybody loved her. I hated her. She was everything I would never be. So I befriended her, combed her hair, whispered nice things in her ear and wore the mask of innocence with the smile of a fake friend. She trusted me. Then I started talking to the mirror and filling it with lies. It was easy to mislead. Like a brain-dead parrot, it could only repeat my poisonous phrases. It played its part well and filled the queen’s mind with paranoia and freed the not so hidden evil in her heart. And so all my puppets were on stage, dancing for me. The innocent one was killed by the one with the blackened heart. And I lived happily ever after.

That was probably a lie. Sometimes it was hard to say what was real and what was not. Everything was such a blur. When you had been caged up like a wild animal for your entire life, you tend to dream yourself away. You start making up stories, even a life. Hard to tell what was real and what was made-up, especially when the lies seemed to be so much nicer. I was working on it… or was I?

He entered the room and disgust was written all over his face. How I despised this look. Fairies… they thought they were so much better than we were, just because they were on the other side of those damn bars. They were proud creatures, too. I swear if it weren’t for those whips, I’d defeat them in a heartbeat. We all would.

We all had magic in us and some of us could do things you wouldn’t believe. But the most powerful among us was still me. There was nothing I couldn’t do. I could do whatever they could do. Why? Because, I stole their everything.

I looked at my roommate, hoping to finally make some sense out of him. They had brought him in yesterday, kicking and screaming. But ever since there’d been nothing and his silence was really starting to bug me.

“Soooo. How do you like it so far?”

Well, if looks could kill! I had never been any good at breaking the ice, but at least I got his attention and as long as I kept staring at him, he owed me a response. And I really wanted that response.

“It’s been a blast.”

Yes, I’d got him talking. Now just keep it nice and casual.

“Sweet.” Nailed it. I looked away and played with the single glass shoe my mother had left me. The only thing that reminded me of her and it was totally useless. My fingers seemed to always search for it though, especially whenever I felt nervous or uncomfortable. Now I felt both.

“So what’s it like in here?”

The question I’d been waiting for. I tried to hide a smile and told him everything. It was okay here I guess, as long as you didn’t look directly at the guards. Fairies were terrifying creatures and you shouldn’t give them any reason to let their rage out on you. Stuck-up folk. The others were nice, as far as I could tell. We never really got the chance to talk. But I watched them and my neighbors and I knew they were watching me too. Most of us were locked up for no a real reason and that made us even angrier.

There was Flow in the corner cell. A quiet creature with a lot of rage in her eyes. Every now and then, when the nights were getting particularly bright, she sort of freaked out. Her fingers turned to claws, there was fur growing at strange places all over her body and she got those very sharp teeth. Disgusting if you asked me. Flow was a terribly misunderstood creature that tended to scream for the entire night. Didn’t know why that sort of thing happened to her, but we all had our tricks and secrets. She had to be strong though, I had noticed that they had to change her bars after each of these, let’s call it episodes. Definitely a weird one.

What I didn’t tell my new roommate was that Flow believed that I was a dangerous witch. When Flow had first come in, there had only been the two of us for a couple of days and I had made a habit out of muttering random and nonsensical phrases and making all those weird hand gestures. That was a thing I had copied from Shelly, a strange little girl with flaming red hair. Shelly had been here once too and she had been both, scared and scary. She had been obsessed with the fear of being burned at the stake. Never knew where she had gotten that idea from. Crazy girl. But, after all, that was what we all ought to be, crazy and mad.

“Swell, but what about you? Anything you can do?”

I suppose sooner or later he had to ask. Didn’t mean I had an answer ready and all I could mumble in that moment was a vague and insecure “you’ll see”, spoken with an undertone in my voice that hopefully suggested a mysterious and immense power.

“What about him?” He was pointing slightly towards Drake, and I got why he didn’t do a clearer gesture. Drake was scary as shit and I wouldn’t want him to know that I was talking about him either.

Drake wasn’t really one of us. He had killed a bunch of people, just for the hell of it, said he got a thrill out of it. That wasn’t what his lawyer said though. That one had told everyone that Drake was just crazy and not to be held responsible for his actions. Bullshit if you asked me. Drake wasn’t one of us. He was nothing special, simply evil. Now he made sure everybody knew that a dark voice inside his head had ordered him to kill. He even pretended to talk to it whenever the guards came near. Idiot, but they believed him. Guess I’d have to put up with him a bit longer still. But he was useless to me. Maybe that’s why I despised him that much.

“So better not to cross him, ay?”

“Yeah, I really wouldn’t.”

And that was that. He turned around and I sensed that he wanted to be left alone. I got that. I had those moments too, but not now. I turned to the brick wall and touched each brick with all the love I had to give. I loved them all almost equally. I started whispering to them, telling them stories of fair maidens riding towards the sunset with their handsome princes. My roommate gave me a weird look and so I told him that I could talk to the bricks, which wasn’t really a lie, at least not entirely.

The other one was watching me. They were all watching me. Every single one of them, the beast, the murderer and whatever my new roommate was, none of them could take their eyes off me. And I bathed in their admiration. I was born here and they were just visitors. Plus, they were jealous of me and my gift, obviously. Didn’t matter which version of my story they knew, the jealousy made them all the same in my eyes.

“Listen. Do you have a sec?” How cautious he was, like he was treading on very thin ice. My nails were still clinging to the silent walls, making that shrill sound that makes others cringe and me smile.


“I was just wondering… can you make them move, too? I mean so that we can get out of here?”

“I’m capable of many things.”

“Yeah… cool.”

The fairies were coming back. Silent and passive aggressive as always. They took Flow. Only God and I knew where to. I remembered that room very well. That’s the true fairytale in my past. It doesn’t have people cutting off their toes or evil queens that want you dead because of your looks, but that doesn’t mean it was a piece of cake either. They had done things to me, horrible things. Pain to trigger my magical powers they used to say. But all it had done was strengthening my hatred for my mother and my magic was still a no-show.

I started to regret the brick thing already. Talking to the bricks in the wall, that’s not a real gift. I had to think of something else and fast, but I was running out of ideas. I’d played too many roles over the course of my life and it was getting harder and harder to find my way back to myself. The web I had been spinning had finally taken hold of me. But after all, nobody had ever claimed that growing up in a nuthouse was easy.

“Hey listen, there are some other fun things I can do.” He turned around and curiosity was written all over his face. It was time to improvise.

“Well, have you noticed my huge eyes or enormous ears?”

“Yes, now that you mention it…”

“And don’t you wonder why my mouth is that big?”

“Sure.” He shrugged.

I was running out of things to say and was forced to go with the first thought that popped into my head.

“You wanna know? You wanna know why I’ve got these large eyes and ears? Or that huge mouth? Well, I guess it’s all the better to eat you with.”

Hmm… I’d have to go through with it then. The show must go on. I really couldn’t afford being caught a liar and so I briefly licked my lips before sinking my teeth into his flesh.


Martina Braunegger 


Image by Rudy and Peter Skitterians from Pixabay



5 thoughts on “We’re All Mad Here by Martina Braunegger”

  1. Hi Martina,
    Reality is a mix of realities.
    Sanity is to what proportion we live in them.
    The specifics in this have no explanation and that is the beauty of your story.
    Life is never clear, why should our insanity?


  2. A chilling sense of a mind left to its own devices which rings true. There was a little confusion over the paragraph that begins ‘He’ – which seems to refer to a fairy guard, and the next mention of a male is the roommate. Should they intentionally seem like the same person? If not, then structuring things so it’s more clear would help, but other than that I was happily immersed


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