by Hillary Keating
“Oomph!” Alice cried as she landed on the ground. No matter how many times she traveled down the Rabbit Hole, her transition into Wonderland never got any easier. She dusted herself off and continued on her way.
Alice loved walking down the black and white check grass and seeing all the creatures from Tulgey Wood peeking out at her. She had to walk rather quickly today; she didn’t want to be late for the Hatter’s tea party. She began down the path towards the gathering, making an effort to avoid the flower garden; they had never quite gotten over the whole “Alice-is-a-weed” incident. Finally she heard the sounds of the Mad Hatter and March Hare shouting. Alice knew that she must be getting close, and she began to skip toward the site.
Hatter sat, drumming his fingers on the table. He had grown tired of listening to the March Hare’s ranting about spoons and things like it. In the distance by the trees he saw a small blonde head coming down towards the table. A smile lit up his face. He rose to meet her.
“Hello there, Hatter. I’m very sorry about how late I am.”
“Oh, it doesn’t matter. And a very Happy Unbirthday to you, dear.”
“Why, thank you. The same to you.”
No sooner had Alice sat down than a tea tray went wizzing over her head. She glared at the March Hare, who was shaking with laughter. He pointed towards the object. “Cup!”
Alice turned back to take a sip of her tea when the Hatter cried “CLEAN CUP! MOVE DOWN!” The party began to race around the table before finding an empty chair, which wasn’t hard considering there were only three of them. Alice sighed and folded her arms.
“Silly me,” she said. “It was very wrong of me to think that I would actually be able to enjoy a cup of tea at this party.” Hatter leaned forward toward Alice.
“So, Alice. How are things in your world?” Alice wiped her mouth on her napkin before responding.
“Everything is lovely. My sister is still reading dreadfully boring books to me, which is why I was very grateful to come and visit today. What has been going on in Wonderland?”
“Oh terrible things, very terrible,” Hatter said, shaking his head. “I’m afraid the Red Queen has gone mad!”
“Gone mad?” the March Hare questioned. “Does that mean we should be expecting her arrival here?”
“Oh no, you silly Hare!” Mad Hatter scolded. “Mad as in evil mad. Oh yes, she is chopping off the heads of anyone who so much as looks at her!”
Alice’s hand flew to her face in shock. “Oh dear me!” she cried “How positively awful!”
“Oh yes, and now she has the Knave of Hearts working on her side! Anyone of us could be next, Alice.”
The Hare started shaking again. “I do not want to lose my head.”
“Well that’s too bad, then, because it seems you’ve already lost it, March Hare!” Mad Hatter cried. The two of them doubled over in laughter. Alice shook her head. The pair’s childish antics had long grown old on her.
A dark haired man could hear laughter in the distance. He must be close to the party the Queen had told him about. He began to march forward.
As the Hatter looked up he could see someone far in the distance, approaching them. He knew far too well who it was. He quickly grabbed the cake out of his pocket that he had been saving, just in case. He handed it to Alice.
“Alice, quick, eat this!”
“Hatter, I know what this is. I do not want to grow small today.”
“The Knave of Hearts is coming! I will hide you in the teapot, but you must first eat this!”
Alice quickly took a bite of the cake. She then shrank down to a size small enough for her to be packed into a teapot. She peered out of a crack so she could watch what was happening. A man Alice had never before seen approached the table. He had dark hair and wore armor. Over his right eye, he wore a red eye patch shaped like a heart. He walked with his shoulders back, and when he spoke, his voice was low and menacing. He intimidated her. Even the Mad Hatter and March Hare shrank back from him. He leaned on the table.
“I heard a girl’s voice.”
Mad Hatter rose. “There is no girl here, only tea.”
“Open the tea pot.”
In a panic, Alice climbed up into the nozzle of the pot, hiding herself from view. The Hatter took the lid off and showed the contents to the Knave.
“Oh look, we have emp-tea!”
The Hare and the Hatter than doubled over from laughter once again. The Knave grabbed the Hatter by his jacket.
“Do you dare make a fool of me? A worker of the Queen?”
“I was a worker for a Queen too, once. The White Queen, actually. Queen Mirana. I hated her.”
“You hated her?”
“Yes, I made her hats.”
“You would have to ask your Queen that.”
The Knave released the Hatter, but still glared at him. “Why don’t you tell the Queen yourself? Come with me.”
“No thank you, I am quite happy here.”
“That wasn’t a question. Come!”
Hatter stood silent for a moment, and then reached for the tea pot. He whispered to Alice, “Find the blue caterpillar. He will know what to do.”
He then placed the tea cup back down. He smiled back at the Knave “Just wishing my tea pot a fond farewell.” Without another word, Alice watched him disappear with the Knave. Suddenly, a wave of determination came over her. I must save the Hatter!
To be continued in the next edition of the Tower Review…