“You really need to tell me more about him sometime, Fabiola.”

“When the right time comes. So I take it that you didn’t get the key back yet. It’s important that you do.”

“Not yet. I saw him with it and was planning to get it back when we returned, but then he jumped out of the plane in Brazil.”

“Brazil?” Fabiola tilts her head and looks back at the kids. “Did you get those kids from Brazil?”

“No, Columbia. They were slaves for the Executioner.”

“Oh, my God, how didn’t I see it?” Fabiola runs back to the kids and kneels down to check their hands. Once she sees they’re missing two fingers, she hugs them tighter, tears forming in her eyes.

“Is there something I should know about those kids?” I stand helpless, a bit too irritated with so many truths being kept from me.

“No.” She wipes off her tears. “You did good, Alice.” She pulls me closer with one arm and hugs me as well. “Damn you, Pillar, for opening up those old wounds.”

“I’m sorry, Fabiola, but I think I deserve to know what’s going on.”

“You want to know what’s going on?” she sobs between the kids’ shoulders. “I know now why the Pillar pretended he was the Hatter and stole the keys from you last week.”

Chapter 81

Mushroomland, Columbia

The Executioner’s men had no warning.

Still mourning the death of their leader, they were about to have a meeting to elect a new one. Millions of dollars, drug money, was about to come in this week, and someone had to lead the way. And since they had lost too many children to this Alice girl, they had to plan to kidnap and enslave more children soon. Poor children, orphans, were their best candidates.

But none of this went as planned.


Because of the man in the blue suit with white stripes and golden buttons. The man in the hat with a little bit of bad skin as if it was about to peel off. The man with the hookah who always wore white gloves.

At first, he looked like a silly magician out of a Hollywood movie or something, getting out that plane with two machine guns in his hands and strings of bullets on his back.

Although they had seen him earlier, quirky and full of life, he had turned into a man with no expression on his face. A dull look, heartless and uncaring.

The Pillar shot left and right. Up and ahead. No mercy. No second thought. Not wincing for a moment. Not retreating.

Blood spattered all around and on his suit. He didn’t care.

On his face. He didn’t notice it.

He loaded his guns again and walked like Clint Eastwood shooting left and right.

None of them had a chance to match his skill.

Those who were new in the business wondered who this man was. How he had acquired such skills, and how in the name of mushrooms and grins he dared infiltrate Mushroomland.

But those who’d been here for a long time knew him well. Those were the ones who began running first, although he chased them one by one and finished them.

Those were the ones who knew his name. Senor Pillardo, who had once been one of them.

Everyone had feared Senor Pillardo, but why he was shooting at them now remained a mystery to all.

One of the last survivors, lying panting on the grass, saw the Pillar standing among the piles of dead drug traffickers. He watched him retreat back to his plane, about to take off.

Suddenly the dying man knew him. “You’re…” he stuttered. “It can’t be!” he watched the Pillar taking off, and knew that the man in the blue suit wasn’t finished yet.

Chapter 82

St Peter’s, The Vatican

Fabiola doesn’t tell me why the Pillar took the key. She doesn’t tell me what’s so special about those children. And it drives me crazy.

I can’t force her to tell me. The White Queen has this kind of aura that makes you trust her, no matter what. If she decided not to tell me she must have a good reason for it.

I watch Fabiola spend most of her time taking special care of the Columbian children – I realize not all of them are Columbian, but from all over the world -- while the March Hare tries to remember more about the plague.

“What boggles my mind is how I could cook such a plague.” He trotted across the church left and right.

“What do you mean?” I ask.

“I mean, no matter what Carolus promised me, or forced me to do, I could never have designed something that could hurt anyone in the world. It’s just not me.”

I believe him.

“You think he drugged me so I had no control of myself?”

“I don’t know.” I shake my shoulders. “Maybe you’re like him and have a split persona.”

“That would be horrible.” He brushes his long beard. “I don’t think I’m horrible. Do you think I’m horrible?”

“Calm down.”

“I think I have to.” His eyes shot up again. “I think my light bulb flickered.”

I don’t know what to say.

“Perhaps I shouldn’t think much or someone will see my thoughts. Fabiola, do you think I can hide in your confession booth?”

“If it’ll make you feel better.” She approached me. “So still no idea how you will kill Carolus?”

“I went through all my meetings with Lewis and I still have no idea.” I look at my watch. “Shouldn’t you know something?”

“Why do you say that?”

“I don’t mean to interfere, but you looked like you were intimate in the vision I had about the Six Inklings.”

Fabiola looks like she’s suppressing a smile. “Well, he always talked about your umbrella. He liked that gadget, the same way he liked the Vorpal sword he gave me.”

“I remember that.” I chuckle. “I’d love to see you chop off bad guys’ heads with it again.”

“Don’t count on it. I’ve devoted my life to peace. That was the Pillar’s effect that day. He makes people dip into their dark sides. He’s good at it.”

“So what about the umbrella?”

“Maybe it’s the Bandersnatch teeth bullets, or the way it glowed when you shot the Cheshire with it in the cat throwing festival.”

“You think so?”

“It’s our last chance.”

All right.” I sigh. “I’ll have the chauffeur fly me to London.”

“Wait!” The chauffeur strolls over and shows us video footage from his phone.

“What is it?”

“It’s Senor Pillardo—I mean the Pillar.”

Chapter 83

BBC Report

A man in a blue suit seems to have succeeded in doing what no government has ever been able to accomplish.

The unnamed hero, flying an uncharted plane, raided all of the Columbian drug locations in as little as one hour. Reports are still unclear how he did this, but some locals say they saw him kill each and every member of the drug cartels owned by the infamous criminal called the Executioner. Locals reported seeing this man on his own with two machine guns, on foot, shooting them left and right.

Then, a few minutes later, he bombed Mushroomland, where the most expensive drugs were grown.

“This man come. Shoot all bad men. No mercy. One time,” one of the locals says. “He shoot. They die. Simple. He Jesus Christ machine gun.”

Another older Columbian woman says, “I see movie Men in Black. Good guys. Shoot aliens. This man better. He is man in blue. Shoot. Kill. No reply.”

“I have to admit I have never seen such a daring human being, reported an Englishman living in Columbia. “I mean he was Rambo on mushrooms. Terminator on crack. He shot them with uncanny accuracy, said nothing, got back on his plane, burned everyone else.”

The same instant the world is trying to survive the most lethal plague in history, a single man ends the reign of the drug cartels. Maybe he is part superman, wearing blue. Maybe he is heaven-sent to save us. In any case, maybe there is still hope in this world.

Chapter 84

St Peter’s, The Vatican