That night Alice’s father went to the Walrus Pub. He often enjoyed the pub’s specialty: steamed oysters on the half shell. On these nights he usually gambled with his imaginary friend less, so Alice’s mother was only too happy to let him go. No one in the pub noticed when a white rabbit hopped up to the bright windows and twitched its nose as it looked inside. The rabbit’s ears flicked as it watched Alice’s father happily swallow his oysters. The rabbit then leapt from the windowsill and bounded down the dark street. Not far from the pub was the small neighborhood where Alice lived. The streets were empty and silent, save for the small tinkling of the shiny brass bells that were tied to each of the rabbit’s paws.
When the white rabbit finally arrived at Alice’s house it pressed against the back door that opens into Alice’s father’s study. The door gave and opened because her father always forgot to lock the door. The white rabbit invited itself inside and hopped up the stairs to Alice’s room. Once there it bounded extra hard by her bed, making its bells jingle.
Alice awoke with a start, rubbed her eyes, and then saw the white rabbit sitting at her bedside. It twitched its nose and washed its whiskers with its paws.
Alice smiled wide, “I guess mum wanted to save this present for later. How did you get out?”
But before Alice could receive an answer the white rabbit leapt towards the door. Alice chased the rabbit downstairs and through her father’s study. She shivered slightly when her feet touched the cool grass, but she kept up the chase. When the rabbit finally disappeared Alice looked up and realized where she was. She was at the backdoor of Butterfly Kisses. Alice thought it strange that she end up here. Suddenly the door creaked open, letting yellow light spill out.
“I’m sorry, sir. I got lost and I…”
he shopkeeper appeared, holding the rabbit. He took a pocket watch out and looked at it, then turned to the rabbit, “You’re always late. You’re lucky I don’t lop your head off and have rabbit stew for dinner.” The rabbit washed its whiskers and the shopkeeper put his watch away. Alice made to run back home but the shopkeeper grabbed her arm, “Don’t you want to see how I make my dolls? But don’t tell anyone, it will be our secret.”
Alice nodded her head, feeling a little bewildered. The shopkeeper led her inside into the factory part of his store. When Alice stepped inside the shopkeeper bolted the door closed and led Alice down a flight of stairs. Alice was shaking, unlike you and I, poor Alice was never taught that it was not a good idea to accept a stranger’s invitation. And this man was quite strange.
When the shopkeeper clicked on the light, Alice gasped in fright. She was surrounded by ghastly things. Jars full of white beetles with purple eyes crawling and jumping like popcorn, tables with sheets of what looked like fair skin, baskets of shiny hair of all colors: ebony, blonde, red, and chestnut. There were also packages of tobacco with strange writing and strangely colored shriveled mushrooms.
Before Alice could run back up the stairs the dark man with the white turban grabbed Alice from behind and forced her into a chair that had clasps attached that bound her tightly. Alice tried to scream but she found that her fear had stolen her voice. The shopkeeper picked up a grotesque looking mushroom from off the shelf and the dark skinned man with the white turban pinched Alice’s nose so she would open her mouth. Alice tried to bite the shopkeeper, but he thrust the mushroom into her mouth.
The moment the mushroom touched Alice’s tongue, her thoughts seemed to have been scrambled. Her legs started to shiver and her teeth chattered, causing her to chew up the mushroom, making her worse. She found her mouth fused shut and had no choice but to swallow the mushroom. Her vision blurred and colors started to go all wrong. She forgot where she was and felt like her head was floating in the clouds. Suddenly there were little birds flying around her head. Alice smiled at the birds, but they tried to peck her eyes out screaming, “Serpent! Serpent! Serpent!” Alice shook her head and the birds disappeared. Alice felt something moving in her skin when she saw little teapots bouncing and she could feel their steam puffing in her hair.
The dark skinned man had taken Alice out of the chair and laid her down on a table. The shopkeeper had then poured a few of the white beetles onto Alice’s forehead. They promptly buried themselves into her skin and burrowed towards her scalp, pushing hairs out by the roots as they went. The dark skinned man then carefully collected the hairs and put them in a nearby empty basket. The shopkeeper then took a silver pair of tweezers and plucked one of Alice’s thick black eyelashes.
When he did this Alice shot up screaming, clutching her eye. The shopkeeper started yelling in his backwards language to the dark skinned man. The dark skinned man yelled back in the same language and Alice blundered away from them.
When Alice neared the stairs they looked like a giant tilted chessboard. Chess pieces seemed to float over the steps and taunt her. She was careful to only step on the black squares until she reached the end of the chessboard. Once there she saw the door smiling at her. Alice grabbed the doorknob and tried to turn it but it wouldn’t budge.
“I’m locked!” The door laughed.
“Please open!” Alice pleaded as she continued to wrestle with the giggling doorknob.
“You need my key!” The door howled with delight.
Alice saw the odd key floating next to the door. It was bigger than the doorknob. She pulled the key out and the doorknob scowled at her.
“Oh, no fair!”
Alice ignored the doorknob and threw the door open, banging the doorknob on the wall as she went. She ran outside into the cold, tears blurring her vision even further. She could feel the beetles still crawling under her skin, leaving a trail of gold strands of hair behind her. She staggered away from Butterfly Kisses into the sheep fields. There she saw brightly colored creatures with large eyes running away from her in a flurry of directions. Alice stumbled, trying not to step on the precious little things.
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Enjoy, and Viva La Toucan
Laura, Toucan Editrice
Enjoy, and Viva La Toucan
Laura, Toucan Editrice