Author's Note: And here's the next chapter. It took me forever to get it out, including two days of serious prodding from Bittah :) It actually deals with some of the plot (plot? In a parody? Surely not…) so… yeah. If it sucks, that's my excuse. Just humor me… my inspiration has decided to go on a vacation to Tahiti and left me all by my lonesome. It's so very sad…

Disclaimer: No, I do not own Disney's live action musical: Newsies. No, I do not own Lewis Carroll's novel, Alice's Adventure's in Wonderland, nor Disney's cartoon version of Alice in Wonderland. I own Stress, her cat Ashes and her fixation with hopping newsies.

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Curiouser and Curiouser

February 2, 2007

Stress has accidentally stumbled into the wonderful world of Newsieland.
Will she ever get back home to New Jersey? Not if the Queen of New York
has her way.

--

Without even a second look behind her, Stress continued to storm away until she made it back onto the street. It was the same street she had been walking down ever since her tears had swept her out of the small, claustrophobic room. She sighed. It had seemed like just a street to her before but, now that her only hope of help turned out to be those two idiots, it appeared to be a never-ending road of doom.

I want to go home.

There was only one problem with that. She had no idea where home was. To be quite honest, she had no idea where Newsieland was either. Therefore, without having any idea of the exact placement of her starting location nor her eventual destination, Stress was stuck.

And, as she had just absently walked atop of a chewed up and spat out piece of red gum, she was stuck in more ways than one.

"Oh, you've got to be kidding me," she cried out loud when she noticed the stringy gobs of chewing gum that was hanging off the bottom of her (once-white, currently dust-coated) keds. Quite annoyed, Stress looked around for the person who had so rudely spat their gum out; it was fresh, so she figured that they should still be around for a good yelling at. But, alas, she was still alone.

Huffing, she slipped her foot out of her shoe and, while balancing on one foot like a flamingo, reached over to pick it up. Normally, after stepping in gum – which was a more common occurrence than some people might think – Stress would just wipe the sole of the shoe against the edge of a curb or in a spot of slick grass.

Another quick glance around her told the girl that there was no curb and there was no grass. She was still standing in the middle of the street, surrounded by dust, dirt and, on the sides, cobblestone. Hmm… no. I don't think that'll work too well, she thought to herself, her dirty shoe held out in front of her. Wait? What's that?

Not too far off in the distance, Stress saw a rather large tree. It was hidden behind a row of similar (fake) looking buildings but it was big enough that the bushy bit of it was protruding upward. She grinned – a nice handful of leaves or even chunk of bark would be pretty damn helpful in getting the gunk off of the bottom of her shoe.

Looking in front of, beside – left and right – and behind her one last time to ascertain that she really was alone, Stress began to hop forward. She was trying her best to keep her socks clean and she knew that if she put her shoe back on, then she would be sticking to the dirt every other step… or walk all lopsided. Hopping was better.

Just as long as she wasn't performing some kind of weird hopping mating ritual that would attract hopping newsboys. The way her day was going so far, she wouldn't put it past this place…

She only stumbled once or twice – alright twelve times, but who was counting? – as she hopped straight down the road, her one shoe resting on her right hand. She had both arms extended outwards in an attempt to keep her balance but it was not working so well. In fact, by the time she finally made it over to the tree, her sock was entirely filthy.

Still, Stress continued with the pretense of attempting to keep herself clean as she turned the corner. However, once she turned the corner, her surprise led her to just stand straight up finally, not even thinking about her shoe-less foot.

She had not been expecting this. True, the big tree she had spotted from back at the Mad Patch and March Hair's place was there but it was not just a tree. It was a giant tree – complete with a person sized door built into the tree trunk. And, in case she had doubts that it really was a door, there was a large, electronic sign set right above it; the sign read in a blinking red font: ENTER.

Approaching the door, Stress only remembered her whole gum-on-my-shoe (it was Big Red, she had realized at some point when the cinnamon scent reached her nose) problem – and that was only because she was attempting to turn the knob with her shoe-covered hand.

She muttered a curse under her breath – she was no longer amazed by this place but, rather, quite ticked off – and rubbed the sole of her shoe against the rough bark of the tree. As soon as she was satisfied enough that she could walk without having to yank her foot up, she slid her shoe back on.

And then she reached back for the door knob.

Stress was pleasantly surprised to see that, when she turned the round knob, the door actually opened. Am I actually making progress in this silly place?

The answer to that hit her square in the face.

No.

As soon as the door was open, she found herself staring at the one thing that she did not think she would see: herself. Hidden right behind the door was a glass mirror that took up the entire width and length of the tree's strange door.

"Oh, come on," Stress complained. She had the desire to pick up a rock and throw it at the glistening mirror, she was that annoyed. After spending the whole day so far being confused, the experience at the celebration and, of course, the gum had made her frustrated. And now this.

Instead of breaking the mirror – she did not think she could handle seven years bad luck on top of everything else that was happening – she just sighed and let her forehead fall forward.

She had been expecting her forehead to come in contact with a cool, plane of reflective glass so it was no shock that, when all she felt was something wet and wiggly, she yanked her head back.

"What the hell?" she said out loud, glaring at the mirror. Her reflection did not glare back, though. The Stress in the mirror winked. "Okay, that was weird."

Tentatively, she stuck one of her fingers out and poked the mirror. It felt just as wet and wiggly as it did for her forehead but with one difference: her finger did not just poke the glass, it got sucked up by it.

She pulled her hand back, too, and stared at her finger. It looked perfectly normal to her, as if it had not just disappeared into a deceptive mirror.

"I wonder…" she mumbled to herself as she put her hand out again, this time palm flat up against the glass. Slowly, she pushed. Her hand went right through.

Her curiosity piqued – and her frustration and annoyance temporarily forgotten – Stress put her foot up against the glass. It went right through, too.

She took a deep breath and closed her eyes. Praying silently that she found something interesting on the other side of the mirror – Would Mirror World be better than Newsieland? – she followed through with the rest of her body.

There was a brief moment of discombobulation and complete confusion – she had the insane urge to don a fruit hat and yell out "CONGA" – before she emerged from the other end. Slowly, she opened one of her eyes before opening the second and, then, promptly rolling them both.

"You've got to be kidding me."

After all that, she had found herself right smack where she started: the small, claustrophobic room with one exit and that weird glass table.

As quickly as she could, Stress turned around in an attempt to go back through the mirror. If the choice was between being trapped in this tiny room or being alone on the streets of Newsieland, she was going to take the streets.

"Ouch!"

The mirror was no longer there. She had just turned around and walked straight into a very solid wall.

She lifted her hand up and started to rub her smarting nose. She was mumbling to herself – a mixture of stupid mirrors, stupid rooms and stupid curiosity – when she heard a low chuckle come from behind her.

Stress tensed. She was almost positive that she was alone in the room. Slowly, she turned herself around – there definitely was another person in the room with her: an averaged size girl (which was saying something considering the different sizes Stress has been since falling into Newsieland) with a dark newsie-style cap perched over her short dirty-blonde hair and a rather amused grin spread out over her face.

"What you go and walk into the wall for, you dope?"

Stress was so surprised to find another person in there with her that she did not even notice that she had been insulted. "Who are you?"

There was that chuckle again. It was an intimidating sound, as if this girl knew a lot more than she let on. "Wouldn't you like to know?"