My Dearest Hatter

What happens when you lie? You might feel guity for a bit, but you get over it. But sometime it can an impact you can't imagine. One man lied and it Ruined Wonderland.

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4. FOUR, The Wonder of Raspberries

Alice couldn't get out the cell. She'd explored every inch of the room and there was nothing.

She awoke from a dream in which Alice had started to become part of the stone walls that enclosed her and all the time Mr Dee stood over her shouting about That Book. But then she woke and found herself as she was in the stone coffin. She didn't know how long she'd been here, it felt like years, but realistically it was probably only a few days. She wasn't given food exactly, just these tiny pills. Alice hadn't trusted them when they first arrived in a little box with the words Eat Me written on them. However eventually she realised that if she didn't want to waste away to nothing she would have to take them, they were easy to swallow and didn't really taste of anything, but they stopped her hunger. There hadn't been another word from Mr Dee since their first meeting and Alice had no expectations of meeting him again, neither did she really want to. Alice spent her captive days sitting against the wall staring at the opposite one, she started to see every indentation, every crack and every bump there was on the surface of that wall. Then as she looked deeper she started to see faces, simple ones to begin with with two eyes, a nose and a mouth. Then they became more detailed, she saw the line of a cheek bone, laughter lines around the mouth, shaded colouring in the iris. As Alice moved her eyes over it's surface these characters of the wall started to make stories. Alice was going into delirium, she was perfectly aware of it, she was looking at a wall not a comic, but stories had always kept her safe in the past so it would make sense that they would come to her now when she was alone and scared. Sometimes she spend hours just staring at it until one of her legs fell asleep and she had to do a few laps of the room. Then she would return to sitting. Staring.

One day Alice was staring at the wall as usual when she saw a small movement in her peripheral vision. Now this was new, she had been the only thing that moved in here since Mr Dee had stormed out after their little meet and greet. Even the pills just seemed to arrive without her seeing them being brought in in any fashion. On looking down Alice saw the most peculiar thing, a caterpillar. It was quite small, blue and under it's body were lots of small legs carrying it towards her. How odd, Alice thought, that such a thing as a caterpillar should strike fear within her. Alice remembered being told "They are more scared of you than you are of them" by her mother, but that didn't seem to be the case here, for if a caterpillar could move with ferocious determination then this one was, head down and moving at a speed that Alice was sure wasn't possible for those tiny legs. Yet despite her fear Alice hadn't moved and made no attempt to, this was the most exciting thing to happen to her in days, but she was stuck in the same sort of trace as she was when she sat staring at The Hungry Caterpillar while her flat was falling apart. Now the creature was at her feet and didn't stop there, it tickled as it made its was past her ankle and then stopped half way up her calf. When there it seemed to look at her with eyes so small Alice couldn't tell if it had eyes at all, but when it lifted its head she was sure it had and they were looking straight at her. Then pain sored through Alice's leg as the creature bit and into her entire being, it consume her entirely restricting her from doing anything. She couldn't even scream. Her vision became tainted with blue spots until blue was all she could see, then she could see nothing.

Alice was sure this was what being unconscious felt like, she couldn't move, speak or see a thing. Yet she never thought she would be able to think while in this state, but here she was thinking, wondering, panicking. But this wasn't the first time she had been unconscious, she had been knocked out in Lilly's, but she couldn't remember thinking then. And that time she hadn't remembered what had happened to her, but this time she knew everything, the caterpillar, the bite and most of all she remembered the pain. Well she was sure she'd wake up soon and it would all be explained to her again, probably ... maybe ... hopefully.

Alice had been moved while she was out. She first became aware of this by the feeling of sun on her arm, then she realised she was laying on something softer than stone, straw maybe? Now, not straw, it was grass, she could feel the soft blades prickling at her skin now and she could smell it, grass had never smelt so great before! Slowly, cautiously she opened her eyes. She was laid down in a field of some kind, there were hundreds of yellow flowers mixed with ankle length grass and above her a tree which provided the shade in which she was sheltered. She lifted her head to see a white rabbit sitting at her feet. It was a little larger than a normal rabbit and there was something about its eyes, they didn't look like the eyes of a rabbit. When she looked at it the animal jumped away and moved towards two figures stood a little further away. One of the figures was a woman, quite tall, thin and wore a bowler hat on top of long black hair. The second was shorter, but not by any means short, a man, had broad shoulders and messy light brown hair. As the rabbit reached them they turned around to look at Alice who by this time had sat up. They looked at each other, smiled and moved forwards.

The man broke the silence "You woke up later than we expected, Rab was having a heart attack, thought we'd killed you." a statement that Alice thought shouldn't be said in such a light-hearted tone. "Sorry, where are my manners" He pointed to the woman next to him "this is Hatter, she's a little anti-social, but you'll learn to get along with her” He then pointed to the rabbit by his feet "This is Rab, but I hope you can guess what that stands for or I will have concern for your intellectual ability." He smiled and reached out a hand, his bright blue eyes staring deep into Alice's "and I'm Lepidoptera, but no one calls me that because it's a ridiculously long name, so call me Dop."

By this time Alice had learnt to except the plainly crazy and what must be normality here. She shook his hand and stood up. Well this may not be ideal, she was stuck in some strange world, had just been bitten by a caterpillar that for all she knew could be poisonous and she was now stuck with people who seemed to thing a rabbit was talking to them, but this was a definite improvement on the cell. “I'm Alice”

Hatter then spoke up “Great the introductions are all done with, now can we get going, you know before they come and kill us”

“Kill us?! Who the hell wants to kill me, I haven't done anything!” Alice didn't like this being wanted business, she didn't even want to be here, she was kidnapped!

Dop rested his arm on Alice's shoulder and smiled a reassuring smile “It's nothing you've done, but we did just break you out of a high security centre and Tweedle is not going to be best pleased with us.”

“Who's Tweedle? And what do you mean you broke me out? You send that bloody caterpillar in to bite me!”

“OK, lets start with Tweedle, I believe you would have called him Mr Dee. And yes we did send a caterpillar in to bite you and I know it was painful, but you must agree it's better to be out.”

Painful, it was EXCRUCIATING!” then the other piece of information that had been given to Alice fitted into place “Tweedle...Dee. He was Tweedle Dee. So where was Tweedle Dum then?”

The group gave out a joint sigh and Hatter rolled her eyes “Dop you can handle this, I'm going to pretend I'm doing something over there, come on Rab” with that the two moved a few yards down field and Hatter started dealing a set of cards that had appeared from her jacket sleeve into a clock shape.

Dop signalled for the two to sit back down under the tree. “So your familiar with the work of Lewis Carroll. If I were you I'd forget everything you've read, this isn't the wonderland that you've painted in your head. Now as for Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum they are the same person. Tweedle has a split personality, his main persona is that of Dee who you met. Dee is an authority figure, follows the rules and doesn't really get out much. Dum is his.... dark side. You don't want to meet Dum and if you ever do I advise that you run. Dum's out of control, he's angry, he's strong and most of all he enjoys being like that. The two parts of him don't get along, they are in constant competition with each other for control over the conscious, luckily for us Dee seems to be in control most of the time, but really the man's a ticking bomb”

“Like Jekyll and Hyde?”

“Yeah I suppose you could say that. Now do you have any questions about your time here already?”

There were approximately a million Alice could think of, but she thought she'd start with one that had been puzzling her for a while “When I first got here it looked like I was in my flat, but then it all started to disappear and I was in the cell. What the hell was that?”

“That the cloaking,when new detainees are brought into the centre they are put in a cell whose walls are then converted to look like their home. It's supposed to keep people calmer. But with each room they have to input the data for what it should look like themselves which makes it open to mistakes. When a person notices this mistake it sends a sort of error through the system which means everything reverts back to how it originally looks. I'm guessing you found something wrong in the picture of your home?”

Yes, The Hungry Caterpillar.”

Dop just looked at her waiting for more explanation, but Alice really wasn't in the mood for explaining her book layout.

“Oh, you're probably hungry. Here” reaching inside the leather bag by his feet Dop pulled out a box of what looked like raspberries, but Alice could make an educated guess that they weren’t. By any rate they looked better than those pills.

They felt like raspberries, they tasted like raspberries, could it be that something in this world actually was what it looked like? “Yes, they're raspberries. The spies from your world brought them back and I have to say I am quite fond of them.”

“I have never loved raspberries so much in my entire life.”

Smiling Dop said “Well if we have helped you in no other way then we have rekindled your love for raspberries and for that I am glad” he laughed lightly and continued to eat. His smile could have been one to rival Sarah's. Oh God, she'd forgotten completely about Sarah.

“Did you get Sarah out?!”

His smile faded and his eyes became serious “We couldn't, she's in a higher lock down than you were. We tried, but there was no way in.”

“Oh. I suppose you did what you could” Alice stared at the floor, Dop put his arm around her.

“She won't be harmed, they want to teach her a lesson that's all and if we get any chance to get to her in the future we will, in a heartbeat.”

“Thank you”

Hatter's voice exploded from where she now stood, cards packed up with Rab on two feet next to her. “I hate to break up that lovely moment, but I have a strong suspicion that those moving figures over there are not trees and are in fact men … with weapons!”

Dop hastily packed up the box and stood “fancy a run?”

“Is that a question?”

“well you could run or I'll have to carry you, but that will be the slower option.”

Hatter was now by there side “Oh Come on!” She grabbed Alice's hand, pulled her up and together they ran, Rab leaping ahead at a extraordinary pace.

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