Disclaimer: I don't own any of these characters. Never have, never will. All characters are either owned by Mike Mignola/Dark Horse Comics or Disney/Lewis Carol's descendents.
Author's Note: This came from a challenge issued on the Hellboy message board.
Hellboy slept in his truck bed with a couple of kittens pressed against him for warmth. Liz slept in her fire resistant room. Abe slept, floating near the bottom of his tank. Somewhere, a grandfather clock struck midnight. As the clock chimed for the thirteenth time, they all awoke.
Not fully aware of what he was doing, Hellboy got up and dressed as if he was about to go on a mission. The kittens claimed the warm spot he left behind on the bed. Liz also got dressed without thinking. Abe emerged from his tank and donned his dry land gear, water sliding off of his smooth blue skin. He didn't even mop up the water he left behind.
As if in a trance, they all left their rooms. They didn't become aware of what was going on or where they were going until they were all standing in the library. Blinking and confused, they looked around at each other. Then they looked down and noticed the table. It hadn't been there when they had all gone off to sleep, but it was there now. On the small circular table sat three china tea cup saucers, no cups, just saucers. In the basin of each of these saucers sat a small thin, wafer. On one side, pressed into the wafer itself, were two words. "Eat Me."
Abe took one glove off and first touched the table, then the saucer in front of him, and then, finally, the wafer in that saucer.
Shaking his head, he said, "I can't get anything off of these items. It's as if they didn't exist until just now."
Hellboy picked up the wafer in front of him and sniffed it. Liz picked up hers and carefully looked at it.
"Nothing ventured, nothing gained," said Hellboy as he popped the wafer into his mouth.
Liz shrugged and followed suit a moment later.
"WAIT!" shouted Abe. But it was too late. As the wafers dissolved on their tongues, they faded from view.
Abe stared at the spots that his friends had just been standing in. They were gone, and the only way he was going to know if they were alright was to do what they did. He stood staring at the wafer in his hand. Liz and Hellboy were the closest thing to a family he had, and there was no way he was going to let them go. He put the wafer in his mouth. He could feel his body dissolve at the same rate as the wafer dissolved. Then there was darkness.
When Abe came to, he was laying on his back staring at a crystal blue sky in a field of grass. He sat up and realized something was wrong. His wet suit and respirator were gone, but he was breathing just fine through his nose. He looked down and got a great shock. Gone were his fins and blue scaled skin. Instead, there was the light tan peach color of Caucasian skin. He reached up and touched the sides of his neck. His gills were gone. He had hair. He stood up and looked down at himself. He was just as tall and lean as ever. He was wearing blue jeans, a white T-shirt, and tennis shoes. It was a strange feeling wearing clothes that weren't form fitting.
He took in his surroundings. He was standing in the middle of a field of grass that was ringed by a forest. Most of the trees looked like oak trees. He couldn't sense anything they way he normally did. As he looked around, he saw a narrow path leading out of the field and through the trees. Abe didn't see any other way to go and he didn't see Hellboy or Liz.
"LIZ!" he yelled. "HELLBOY?"
No one responded. Abe didn't like this. He called their names again, and again, there was no response.
Something wasn't quite right, besides the obvious of course. That's when he finally noticed what was missing. He didn't tend to spend a lot of time outdoors, but he knew that there should be more than just plant life out here. There were no birds flying or singing, and there were no insects buzzing around. Abe turned and looked at the trail again. He really didn't like this.
"Nothing ventured, nothing gained," he mumbled. His voice sounded strange to him.
He walked up to the trees toward the path and noticed a purple cat sitting on one of the branches. It was humming to itself. It looked at him and said, "What do you need? What do you want?"
"I don't understand," said Abe.
"Oh, you will," the cat chuckled. "You will."
The cat grinned. Then, starting from the tip of its tail, it started to fade until all that was left was the grin. Eventually, that faded too.
Abe stared at the branch for a little while longer, but the cat didn't return. He started up the path. He went through the forest of trees for some time. When he finally came out the other side, the path came to the base of a tall hill, the path then turned left.
Sitting on a rock at the turn was a white rabbit. It was wearing a vest and a coat. Hanging from one of the pockets of the vest was a fob chain. The rabbit pulled on the chain and pulled a pocket watch out of the pocket. It opened the watch and checked the time.
"You're late, you're late," it cried. It quickly stuffed the watch back into its pocket and then bounded down the path, quickly disappearing around a bend.
"Curiouser and curiouser," Abe said to himself.
Abe continued down the path. He suddenly noticed that the sky hadn't changed. It was still the same amount of brightness that it had been when he woke up. He knew that he had to have been awake for at least a couple of hours. Abe just shook his head and kept going.As he came around a bend in path, he nearly ran into another man. The man was tall and muscular, and he looked to be a Native American Indian. His black hair was tied back with a leather strap at the nape of his neck and at the sight of Abe, the man went into a fighting stance. Abe backed up a step and held up his hands.
"Easy," he said. "I don't want to fight. I'm just looking for my friends."
The man just narrowed his eyes and stared at him.
"Abe?" he asked in a gravely voice.
"Hellboy?" Abe responded, relief rushing over him.
"ABE!" Hellboy shouted, grabbing Abe by the shoulders in a bone crunching grasp. "Thank god!"
"It's good to see you too, Red," said Abe, wincing. "Could you please let go? You're bruising me."
"Oh, sorry," said Red quickly letting Abe go. "Any idea what this is all about?"
"Not a clue," Abe replied. He looked around and noticed that the path now split off in two directions. Hellboy noticed it, too.
"So, which way do we go?" asked HB. He pointed over his shoulder and continued, "I've just come from this direction, so I know there's nothing much back there."
"And I've just come from that direction," said Abe, pointing in the direction that he had just come from. "I guess that leaves this way."
They both looked down the new path. It led into a dark forbidding forest. Despite how bright and clear everywhere else was that forest was very dark.
"Well, we're not getting anywhere just standing here," said HB and he began to go toward the forest.
Abe easily caught up and walked beside Hellboy. They stepped into the forest. The temperature dropped noticeably and it became harder to see.
"Think that Liz is this way?" asked HB.
"I sure hope so," answered Abe.
"Have you met any one else since you got here?" HB inquired.
"Just the Cheshire Cat and the White Rabbit," replied Abe.
"Great, you get the fluffy little animals and I get Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum," HB growled.
Abe chuckled. As they walked along, Hellboy started to rub his right forearm and hand with his left hand.
"It's a bit strange, isn't it?" asked Abe.
"Yeah, but it's kind of nice too," Hellboy responded. "No longer trying to fit in. No more people pointing and staring. No more people running away or trying to kill me because of what I look like."
"True," replied Abe. "But on the other hand, what good are we? We no longer have our abilities. Without them, we won't be able to do our jobs."
"So?" HB retorted. "We can learn to do something else.""No offence, Red, but you don't strike me as the accountant type."
They walked on. Eventually they came to a clearing. In the clearing was a long table set with all the things needed for a proper tea party. Except that three of the settings were missing the saucers. Sitting at the far end was a little man with wild hair wearing a rather large top hat. Next to him was a brown hare.
"Well, it seems we've found the Mad Hatter and the March Hare," said Abe.
"I wonder what their game is," said HB under his breath.
They walked to the head of the table, both keeping a careful eye on the Hatter and the Hare. Abe noticed a couple of small brown bottles on the table. Their labels read "Drink Me." Then he noticed the dormouse. It was asleep on the table between the Hatter and the Hare and they were resting their elbows on it.
"No room! No room!" they cried when they saw Abe and Hellboy.
"There's plenty of room," said Hellboy indignantly as he sat down in a large arm chair. Abe quietly sat down next to him.
"Why are we here?" Abe asked.
"Why is who here?" asked the Mad Hatter.
Abe knew it was no point getting a straight answer out of these two, so he just remained quiet. The Mad Hatter took his watch out of his pocket, looked at it, and then he dunked it into his tea. Hellboy picked up one of the small brown bottles.
"Oh, you don't want to drink that," said the March Hare.
"Why not?" asked HB.
"Because it'll make you look like that forever," answered the Hare, pointing to him. "And you wouldn't want that, now would you? Not for what it will cost you."
"Why? How much money do you want for it?" HB asked.
"Nothing," said the Hare. "You don't have to spend a penny. But it'll cost you all the same."
Abe could tell that Hellboy was starting to lose his patience.
"So what is the cost?" Abe suddenly asked.
"Oh, only a life," the Mad Hatter answered.
"Whose life?" asked Abe.
"Hers," said the Hatter, pointing behind him.
Abe looked behind the Mad Hatters' chair. Hanging in mid air were three full sized mirrors. The two side mirrors didn't reflect anything. In the middle mirror was Liz. Both HB and Abe got up and ran to the middle mirror, upsetting the chairs they had been sitting in. Liz was trapped.
She seemed to be in some sort of bubble, and the bubble was under water. Liz looked worried and she seemed to be having trouble breathing. HB put his hand on the mirror trying to push through, but it remained solid. He balled up his right hand like he was getting ready to punch it.
"Wait, Red!" Abe said, putting up a hand to stop his friend. "You're stone hand is gone, you'll cut your arm to ribbons if you try to punch through the mirror. Besides, you might hurt Liz."
"I can't just leave her in there!" HB yelled back.
Before Abe could answer, he heard a familiar humming. He looked to the top of Liz's mirror and saw a grin floating in air. The rest of the cat slowly came into view. It balanced on the frame of the mirror as if it was as wide as a tree branch.
"What do you need? What do you want?" it asked again.
"What's that supposed to mean?" HB yelled at the cat.
The White Rabbit came scurrying past their feet. It quickly took out its watch and looked at it. It looked them and said, "You're late! You're late!"
Hellboy looked like he wanted to kick the rabbit right back up its rabbit hole. The rabbit quickly dashed off. Abe heard a noise coming from the left. He turned toward it. Bouncing along came the Tweedle brothers, singing:
you once were,
You once again must be,
Otherwise, your family,
You'll never again see."
"They were singing that the last time I saw them," growled Red.
Abe turned around and looked at the tea party. The Mad Hatter and the March Hare were watching them. He turned back to the mirrors. He walked up to the blank mirror closest to him. He looked into it and saw his former self. There he stood, blue as ever. He touched the surface of the mirror. The mirror Abe touched back. The mirror gave a little but it didn't let him through.
"Red," he said without taking his eyes off the mirror in front of him, "go look at yourself in the other mirror"
"What good will that do?" Hellboy growled, still staring at Liz.
"Just do it, please," answered Abe.
Hellboy walked up to the third mirror and Abe heard him gasp.
"You see yourself as a demon, don't you?" asked Abe.
Abe could see Hellboy nod out of the corner of his eye.
"I think I've figured it out," Abe said quietly. "We need to turn back. If we want to save Liz, we need to go back to being what we once were."
Abe had gotten rather used to being human. He liked not having to worry about his skin drying out or his respirator failing. He had gotten used to wearing regular clothing. But he knew, deep down in his heart, that this wasn't him. He knew that he was different, and he would always be different, even if he did look like everyone else. He was at peace with that. The instant he felt that peace, he went through the mirror.
He was suddenly standing on the shore of a small lake. He could see the bubble that Liz was trapped in about 100 feet off shore and at least 20 feet under water. He quickly shed all of his unnecessary equipment and dove into the water. The bubble hung in the water with no visible means of keeping it down. Abe quickly checked to see if he missed something, but there was nothing there. He looked in the bubble and saw Liz looking back at him with panic in her eyes. She looked like she was having an even harder time breathing then before. Abe pushed the bubble and it moved easily. He quickly pushed it to shore, and pushed it as far up onto the bank as he could. The bubble was mostly out of water now, but Liz still was having trouble breathing. Abe hit the bubble with all his might. It didn't budge. He picked up a large rock and tried that. It didn't even scratch the surface. Without his respirator on, he was starting to have trouble breathing himself.
He left the water and hurriedly put the respirator back on. He looked around and saw two mirrors hanging in space. In one mirror he saw the tea party, in the other he saw a human Hellboy staring back at him, a small brown bottle in his hand.
"RED! I CAN'T BREAK THE BUBBLE BY MYSELF!" Abe yelled, not sure Hellboy could hear him. "YOU NEED TO ACCEPT WHO AND WHAT YOU ARE! OTHERWISE, WE'RE GOING TO LOSE LIZ!"
Abe could see Hellboy sigh. The bottle slipped from his fingers and shattered on the ground. He closed his eyes, put his hand out and touched the mirror. One moment the mirrors were there, the next they weren't. Instead, Hellboy, the real Hellboy, stood in their place. He quickly went over and smashed the bubble with his stone hand.
Abe suddenly awoke in his tank. He reached out with his senses and felt Hellboy and Liz. They were both in their rooms. They were awake and confused. A couple of cats in Hellboy's room seemed rather upset about being squished, Hellboy was laying on them. He looked out into the library. There was no table. At first, Abe wondered if it was all just a dream, but then he realized he was still wearing his respirator.