Madeline Hunny’s Midnight Reverie

Trapped in a high-rise prison by forces that seek to control her, Madeline contemplates her past and the haunting presence of Death, her constant companion and ultimate obsession. With a glass sword in hand and the guidance of a spectral mentor, Madeline plots her escape.

DangerGirl
By DangerGirl Episode 3: Madeline Hunny’s Midnight Reverie
25 Min Read
Madeline Hunny in sheer floral body suit with a knife in her hand by the window
Madeline Hunny's Midnight Reverie
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Gun shots and shouting fill the night, a familiar song, this time remixed with screeching car tires and a bottle breaking. I hum with the chaos as it fills me with every inhale. Each cord of the song float through the broken window with the haunting whoosh of the breeze.

The scent of asphalt and chaos caresses my skin, wrapping around me like clawed fingers and dragging me to the shattered window. The glass attached to the frame of the window tremble like grass in the breeze, but so much prettier. When the car lights hit the shards just right, they come alive, throwing rainbows across the room.

Rainbows lead to pots of gold. That’s why there ain’t rainbows anymore, Maddie.

A Voice

Someone said it to me once, but they just weren’t looking right. There are rainbows everywhere, in rain drops, in neon lights, in broken glass. I touch one sharp corner, daring the glass to leave a bite that matters, but it tinks as it falls onto another glass shard, then rains down into the darkness below, swallowed by the shadows and violence that writhe on the streets.

People mistake the shadows and empty dilapidated streets for a ghost town, but they forget that darkness is where beasts and monsters come to life. They sleep in the day, when the sun would spot them, but at night … sheltered from far away stars by buildings threatening to collapse, they ooze onto the streets, haunting and feasting on whatever person or thing they find.

And working streetlights are the first thing broken here. At best, they’re left to flicker because only darkness reigns here.

There aren’t lights in the Dreadlands.

Deadlands, Hunny Bunny. There ain’t nothing but zombies here.

A voice

I don’t question that sure voice in my head. The voice that always comes with a deep whiff of cheap cigarette smoke and watered down whiskey. In fact, that voice, even when it’s mocking, is the best part of the Deadlands. A poltergeist that’s more alive than the zombies walking below.

I stroke another shard of glass, this one stronger, longer, with all the heft of a sword I once held. If I grip this one hard enough, I’ll know the weight of what I do with it. If I cut someone’s throat to save my own, I’ll slit my own palm. It’ll be a tally of the life I’ve taken. Give and take, a cost for each action. Even the noblest choices come with a bite that makes a person think twice before acting again.

Is it a life if a zombie is killed? Even if that zombie snorts white powder like it’s life? Even if that zombie shoots and stabs instead of bites?” I ask the glass sword in my hand, flickering with extinct rainbows which must make me the pot of gold.

You know zombies. Grunting, killing, eating whatever they can. They shove whatever they can in their maw. Don’t care ‘bout their meaty fists gettin’ bloody. It ain’t a problem for long when their eyes are gone.

“Can’t kill if they don’t have eyes,” I agree.

They’ll be expecting a doll to kill ‘em before you do, Hunny Bunny. You’re so damn sweet. Give me a drop of sugar and I’ll be your hand, teach ya’ to aim so you don’t gotta worry ‘bout missin’ the mark.”

I don’t need the voice for that. No one survives the Dread-Dead-lands without knowing a thing or two. And us women, we learn plenty. We have to use our allure as a weapon, our sweet voices hiding our intentions, and an attitude that will slit others from belly to mouth for the slightest insult.

While us women have our allure and ability to twist truth into a knife, men have more straight-forward, long range weaponry that deserve diligence and attention. Men have their guns, their shadows, sometimes I think they have demons puppeteering them.

I saw puppets once. It was when I was in Shadowhaven. Someone back then told me don’t get attached to ideas like so many in Shadowhaven do. Ideas can’t take you farther than city walls or certain districts. Ideas get people too excited, get them killed. They end up slipping into those ideas and never coming out. Once you’re lost in art and fiction, there’s no coming out.

As tempting as it is to push the walls in my mind, until I can tackle anything at all, drugs seem easy. Death is even easier, a constant dream world I used to dream about. It’s peaceful … after the carnage of course, but I heard bloodletting used to be an art, so does that make murder a masterpiece? And I don’t have to dream about it in the Deadlands. I can make things happen.

Plus, I know how to fish for the zombies and guide their puppeteer’s hands in the direction I want.

My glass sword and my helpful poltergeist that can see the strings wrapped like nooses around the starving zombies below. If I turn my blade just right, strip down to something too tempting to pass up, something that will make the strings around the zombies’ arms loosen, then it’s easy to cut the puppeteer’s strings. I can free them from crime, free them from their snuff and poison.

I don’t need to kill the demons, just their power.

Power, that’s an easy thing to sabotage.

Don’t you know, Hunny Bunny, there ain’t demons here. There’s just the Core and those lights that don’t ever point this way. Anyone goes crazy if they’re stuck in the dark long enough.

My sword can fix that too. I’ll catch enough light in it, fill it up with neon, the remains of flickering street lights that are committed to their death rattles, then force that light into the zombies. It’ll bring them back to life. Like when that one nice nurse, the nurse that only came once, rounded all us kids up and shoved needles into our arms saying it would help.

“Pain saved me once, you know?” I ask the voice that’s always behind me. “I got jabbed to keep the viruses out. Maybe the zombies didn’t. Maybe they skipped school that day and this is what they look like ten years down the road.”

Nah, that’s when you was under streetlights and pretty nurses didn’t have to load their purses with bricks and knives.

“They had needles. Needles are just little swords,” I argue. “We all got swords.”
I have mine in my hand, always have it. If I don’t have my sword, my knives, my thick skin made soft my salves, then I’m not dressed. Some street walking women, the kind with more bloodthirst than sense glue razor blades under their long nails. No man trusts a woman’s hands here.

They don’t trust shit.

Because trust is a word and nothing more. Bullets have power. Knives make a statement no one forgets. Bombs are a friendly good morning and threats are pleasant conversation. Trust, that’s a goddamn guillotine and if someone says different, they’re in the wrong neighborhood.

“Trust me,” is suicide.

Can’t watch the city all night, Hunny Bunny. There’s work we gotta do. Too many zombies shufflin’ when they should be running. Can’t you control your heard? I taught ya better than that.”

“Good boys get rewards!” I call from my window, staying perched where my zombies can’t see me or my sword. They get a lingering taste of my honey as sweetness drips from my words, but the rest they can wonder about. “I don’t see any good boys, so either I’m keeping the reward for myself, or you lot better get to work!”

“Fuck you!” Someone yells.

“Maybe if you did your job, you’d get to dream about touching me!” I yell back.

“Tease!”

“You gonna keep flirting or do something to earn a special reward from your Hunny Bunny?” I demand. “Right now, I’m thinking the Core’s got some good rewards for Dreads’ finest.”

“I knew you were sweet on me, Miss Hunny!”

A few gunshots echo and I lay back. Zombies just need a good prod every now and again. Give them something they want more than brains or life and they’ll do all the work.

It’s a double edge blade, just like everything in the Dreadlands. I loved being on the streets, surprising men when I walked around in bright colors fit for a Doll, licking my sword and purring for someone else to take a shot.

The opportunity for scars to make me a work of art, something real and gritty, like this city, tantalized me more than any whispered promise of pleasure. I’ve survived the Dreadlands, but I miss watching wounds heal. I was always sad they never scarred. I wanted, still want, to be pretty, to be carved and survive, to show pain is a lasting masterpiece if worn correctly and if a girl is trying to bait the right man.

“You ain’t thinking ‘bout giving Death your housekey again, are ya? Come on, Hunny Bunny, you grew outta that.”

No, Death kissed me when I was sick, stole his essence from my lungs and cupped my cheek in a skeletal hand. He wasn’t cold, like so many people say. He was warm, made my whole body hot with a need to be as torn up, as battered, as beautiful as he was. Every scar he had burst across my eyes until I could see the wars, could see the murders that the victims didn’t, could feel my heart beat, taste my own breath, feel every atom in my body. No drug’s ever compared, no kiss, no fuck has ever made me feel what tasting Death did.

And I crave it. I want to be pretty for him, dressed in marks of our near misses, the times he touched me, but didn’t take me. The ‘almost’s where he kissed my skin and gave me more time. Because I have to make and keep my deals to get him.

Nothing else matters.

“I need to get back on those streets,” I hiss. “I’m not some bird in an old high rise. I belong down there.”

Down there you’ll be worse than dead. Death ain’t gonna want you. He wants you soft and pretty.

A Voice

I turn, searching for the voice, but see Death himself there. The stars rest in his face, galaxies in his eyes. Who needs lights or demons or puppets or zombies when I have the whole universe staring back at me in the shape of a skeleton. He doesn’t wear black, like people say, he wears the sun, blistering and scalding, but so touchably soft and tempting.

He pulls out a cigarette and lights it before lounging in my one good chair. He looks around. “You cheating on me with life, Hunny Bunny?”

I drink in the half-alive plants – all poison – that I’ve cultivated from the Zone when I wander there. A girl needs her secret and when some poisons bloom as pretty as pursed lips and a wink, how can I resist?

“Why are you here?” I ask slowly, still holding my sword in my hand. “I’m not scarred yet. You heal all those anyway. Let me come to you.”

You got a lot more work to do for me, dame. Keep giving me more of them, let’s tip the scales, turn the lights out on the Dreadlands until they’re Dead for me. A city for us alone. You ain’t got much more to give. Be my good girl.

“Stop leading me on. I’m not chasing you if you keep running. I’m not one of the zombies below and I’m not as stupid the girls who hop between street lights thinking it keeps them safe,” I barter.

Death stands, walking towards me until I believe in Icarus and the Sun. It was my favorite love story growing up. People always said Icarus was stupid, he was too full of pride, kept flying higher and higher to escape the world, to prove he was better, to enjoy a serious moment, but I knew the truth then, just like I do now.

I’m staring at my own Sun and it’s taking everything in me not to run to kiss him. If I had wings and Death beckoned me closer, I’d lose myself in his eyes, let his cloak burn away the wax holding me together like skin. His fiery arms might burn away what’s human, but not what’s real.

It’s not pride. It’s not stupidity, it’s desperate, dirty, addictive love. One look at the sun wasn’t enough for Icarus when he could embrace it, wrap himself up in and become one with the sun. He never fell, he caught flame in the Sun’s embrace, happily melted and cracked, became nothing but ash in his ecstasy.

And when Death finally opens his arms to me, I’ll fly to him too. I’ll welcome the damning burn of his cloak, the frostbite ache of his mouth on mine, the numbness, all to sate that eternal, unrelenting yearning that makes me pace until my feet hurt, makes me try all the poisons until they taste sweet. It’s a love song as old as time because love – real love – it’s not true unless Death is in the picture.

“You ain’t getting romantic on me, Hunny Bunny, are you?”

“Trust me,” I purr.

His jagged smile carves up his skull, sharpening rather than dulling the cracks in the bone. “Become a monster and I’ll have you. Give you wings so dark you put out them streetlights. A sword so light and sharp it’ll never snag.”

Wait.

I blink and hear a low drip drip drip.

My glass sword is on the floor, my blood as bright as neon against the off-white wood. My eyes flick to where Death was and he’s gone. He’s too damn good at leaving. I turn and go back to the window, the gun shots, the threats and laughter.

The Dreadlands will be dead. One way or another. I’ll carve up each block, plot wars, deliver information like a crow delivers souls to the reaper and show anyone who looks that art and stories are as real as murder.

One way or another. I’ll carve up each block, plot wars, deliver information like a crow delivers souls to the reaper and show anyone who looks that art and stories are as real as murder.

Madeline Hunny

A light rain takes up, dripping in through the labyrinth of leaks across my ceiling. No wonder my poison stays alive. I smear my handprint across the one window that’s merely cracked rather than shattered. The red paints the rain into blood too.

Because I’m a goddess trapped in this body and meant for more. I make it rain when I bleed. I fashion swords out of anything even if doesn’t look like a sword, Death’s my guardian angel.

The second they let me out of this room, I’ll show them all that I can do more than bark orders and organize zombies like a herding dog. I’m meant for more than nipping at heels and making others take action.

I lick my lips and remember how it felt dancing in puddles, barefoot on the warm concrete, daring the broken hooch bottles to cut my feet. I remember that man dressed in all black with black hair watching me, calling me ‘bunny’ so sweetly that I hopped over.

He introduced me to swords, stroked my long hair and made me promise never to cut it. He died two days later, turning a puddle so red I didn’t want to hop. But I knew what to do when someone took me from him before I could put little pieces of metal on his eyes to pay Death for the ride.

I used my sword and made a different kind of offering. Death would have to pardon the man in black for being too nice and ending up dead because I’d offered Death a second soul. Everyone likes deals. I was sure Death couldn’t be different, but I stayed with the man in black all night, hissing and snapping my teeth at anyone who came too close before I felt him get cold.

Cold was good. Cold in summer was better. It was Death holding up his end of the deal, even way back then.

Because Death and I have always been friends. Anyone in the Dreadlands who lives past their teenage years has shaken his hand, given him an offering – sometimes informally – or promised to defy him to the end.

Surviving here means undercutting the bosses you can, but never cheating the guardian angel most hope doesn’t take a close interest. Except me. I feed him by polluting drugs with poison, setting my attack dogs on others, and surviving until I can escape my cage and reveal I’m not a bird.

I’m not. I don’t sing like a canary or whatever else is out there, not anymore. I’m not a scavenging crow either. I’m carnivorous and I peel flesh from bone with my beak. I dance in blood like I used to dance in puddles and make swords out of anything I can. Femurs, metal, glass, and words.

They’re coming to make sure you’re willing to sing, Hunny Bunny.

Death

They’re coming to make sure you’re willing to sing, Hunny Bunny.“My Death, my poltergeist, the voice of the only man who armed me says in my ear while stroking my hair. “Are you going to sing for them?”

I lay back on my mattress, wearing the red lingerie they allow girls like me. Naughty girls who can’t be trusted not to hide things. Pretty girls they want to watch through the one way mirror. Escape artists who will break windows and take scars to slip down to the ground, but know that tempting the crazed gangs below with so much skin is a death sentence.

What’s real anymore? Death, my punishment, the people who keep me here for reasons that don’t matter? The street below? Does it matter as long as I enjoy the fantasy and live it out until Death comes, stretching his arms until he’s the sun I can fly into?

The footsteps echo with creaks as if the building itself is whispering to me, warning me that whoever’s at my door is tired and gullible. That they’re not from the Dreadlands or the Fringe at all. Too much compassion in their veins.

When the footsteps stop and the floor groans, I peel myself off the bed, chest first. My hair dangles to the mattress as I stretch my legs and arch my back just in case they’ll fall victim to the view. I sigh as I stand and stretch my arms above my head, running my fingers through my hair as I sigh.

I hum to myself, a little lullaby I memorized, one that someone said was older than wars. It sounds impossible, but I’m made of impossible things, so it must be true.

“Miss Hunny, you ready to be a good girl?” A deep voice calls as keys jingle outside my door.
I hear the lock click, proving my door is easy to open and nearly groan at the sound. I’m so close.

Wait, Hunny Bunny. Be a good girl. Rushing got you here in the first place.

“Miss Hunny? Are you going to behave?” the jailor, stranger, key master asks.
I grin and curl my bloody hand into a fist before reclaiming my sword. “I am. Trust me.”

DangerGirlx | Lost in the City (The Soundtrack of Madeline Hunny)

Story Explanation: Madeline Hunny’s Midnight Reverie

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