~ WONDERLAND ~
A Retelling of Lewis Carroll's Classic Fable
By Gavin Annette
* May contain coarse language *
CHAPTER ONE: DOWN THE RABBIT HOLE
Alex sat beneath the outstretched arms of the great oak tree, feeling as though nothing was worse than the position he had found himself in. He wanted, in fact, to do nothing more than fade into the wood of the tree, to melt into the ancient thing and be removed from life altogether.
And they think I can't hear them, he thought.
His parents were at it again, their voices reverberating through the walls of the piss-yellow rambler. Or, I should say, his father and Sheila were at it again. Alex had never been particularly fond of Sheila, ever since his father, drunken and senseless, had dragged her home from the bar two weeks after his mother's death and announced that they were to be married. Alex had been utterly flabbergasted by his father's lack of remorse, and had made a solemn vow to never attend his father's funeral, should he die anytime soon of alcohol poisoning (which was very likely).
Sheila was, in every way, a complete b***h. From the moment Alex had become acquainted with her, she had been nothing but nasty to him; giving him orders and calling him worthless because he didn't have as respectable a job as his father, who was an architect.
Alex had a job, much like every other eighteen-year-old in his senior class; he worked at the local bookstore, restocking the shelves and assisting customers with literary inquiries. He loved the smell of books, the stories which flowed from them and the simple fact that, by reading, he could escape the dreary and distasteful events from which his life was composed.
The window opened and – to Alex's mild surprise – Sheila's prized vase, a beautiful thing over fifty years old with intricate rose patterns at its mouth and base, hurtled through the open pane, shattering into dust as it struck the pavement of the patio. However, Alex soon lost interest and became once more lost in his thoughts as the angry voices of Mr. and Mrs. Liddell faded almost entirely from earshot, the window closed once more.
Rustling above him made Alex look up through the dying leaves into the setting sun. Fall had come early, which made Alex very happy. Fall was his favorite season: the way the leaves skittered across the sidewalks as he made his way home from school in the chilling breeze; the way the Halloween decorations began to sprout up all over the neighborhood, greeting him with witches' grins and pumpkins' scowls. Things were a mystery in fall, something to ponder.
And things always became curiouser and curiouser in the fall.
Alex began to doze off, soothed into a drowse by the rustling of the leaves. Despite the still-audible sounds of the p***k and the b***h indoors, Alex fell asleep.
The book on his lap tottered on his leg for a moment and then fell to the leave-strewn ground. The page which it opened to as it lay in the dusk read:
Alice was beginning to get very tired of sitting by her sister on the bank, and of having nothing to do…
"Oh no…oh no, I'm so very late. The Queen will have me executed for sure."
Alex snapped awake as the voice of a very timid-sounding man broke the almost-silence. He looked quickly around for the source, and was surprised to find the source to be a very tall, very thin young man in a Victorian-style waistcoat and a top hat rushing towards the road from the woods on the edge of which the Liddell house stood. What made Alex all the more intrigued were the two large white rabbit-ears which peered out from the brim of the top hat.
"Oh, how late it must be!" the Rabbit-man worried, and with the graceful movement of his arm he produced a beautiful pocket-watch from one of the pockets of his waistcoat. The ticking could be heard by the boy on the ground over the ten-yard distance. The Rabbit-man tapped it twice, frowned, and stowed it again in the pocket, grumbling. As he hurried off, Alex started to his feet –
-for it flashed across his mind that he had never before seen a rabbit with a waist-coat, or a watch to take out of it-
-and burning with curiosity, he followed the Rabbit-man across the yard, down the street, and towards the center of town, careful not to reveal his presence to the peculiar individual.
The Rabbit-man eventually led Alex to an old, abandoned building seven blocks away. Alex stopped short of the hole in the fence through which his target slid, watching in mild apprehension as the strange man disappeared into the building through an open door in its side.
I must be crazy, thought Alex. Am I really going to throw all common sense out the window just to fulfill this raging curiosity?
Yes. Because I have to. Something just tells me that I have to.
Alex hesitated, and then slipped through the hole in the chain-link fence. He approached the open door, with its rusted hinges and browned, warped surface, all the while wondering the same question:
Why would a rabbit carry a pocket-watch?
Just inside the door, all was dark and silent. Alex steeled himself and plunged into the darkness.
His eyes took a moment to adjust. He stood in a small entryway, connected to which was a small corridor which veered sharply to the right a few yards on. He took each step carefully, afraid that the Rabbit-man would jump out of the shadows and reveal his true, more sinister intentions.
And yet I know he won't…
He turned the corner. There, at the end, was the Rabbit-man.
No…the Rabbit. A man he was no more. Now, a large, pink-eyed, impatient white rabbit wearing the same periwinkle waistcoat, standing just before a set of double-doors which clashed violently with their surroundings: while the hallway and its own doors were rotted, peeling, and faded, these doors were bright, new, and faintly glowing.
The Rabbit, still muttering to himself his eminent execution at the hands of this "Queen", stepped through the doors and disappeared in an instant.
"Wait, sir!" Alex called, forgetting entirely that he was blowing his cover, and rushed forward, afraid that the doors would close and forever keep him from discovering what the Rabbit's agenda truly was. He gripped the doorknobs, thrust the doors open, and stepped beyond their threshold.
There was no floor beyond, and reeling for only a moment in shock, Alex lost his footing and tumbled head over heels into a vast, bottomless well.
The wind roared around him, and he screamed, flailing blindly for any sort of salvation, whether it be a foothold or stray bit of planking to grab onto. But there was nothing, and he was gaining speed, falling further and further into the earth.
After a moment, he was surprised to find that what had once been the dirt walls of the roughly twenty-foot-wide pit had morphed suddenly into bookshelves and cupboards. Pictures hung upon pegs in the gaps between the storage units, and candles floated eerily in midair; as he barreled past them, they spun about, and their flames flickered, as though merely caressed by a passing breeze.
Other things fell with him. A globe screamed past his right hand and fell into the darkness below. A stack of books followed suit. He passed a table with a full set of rather fancy stationary, which drifted, as though as light as paper, slowly downward.
What am I going to do? He thought frantically, tumbling on and on ever downwards. I'll be crushed into oblivion when I reach the bottom.
The bottom did come, and Alex, now falling headfirst, shrieked as it rushed towards him. He threw his hands up, bracing for impact, but it never came. Trembling all over, he looked.
The fall had ended. He was hovering about two feet from the bottom of the pit, which was paved with very nice checkerboard tiling. Alex was slowly lowered to the ground, and sat for a moment, reeling from the shock of the ordeal which had just befallen him.
Before him, he quickly realized, stood the Rabbit. It gave him an impatient glare, checked its watch once more, and hurried off down the long hallway. Alex stood, and, humbly, followed.
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