Title: The City Behind the Asylum
Category: Games » American McGee's Alice
Language: English, Rating: Rated: M
Published: 05-26-07, Updated: 06-06-07
Chapters: 9, Words: 9,913
THE ENTIRE STORY AS A SINGLE FILE FOR PRINTING OR DOWNLOADING
The City Behind the Asylum
by Nikki Little
Chapter One: Hatter's Discovery
While my lessons in blowing smoke portals continued, Caterpillar continued to make new discoveries extending his own abilities. His most important discovery was how to keep a portal open continuously for a round trip. Previously, the longest a smoke portal could remain open was perhaps 15 seconds. These "continuous smoke portals" were especially useful if the person – or creature – making the trip was unable to blow a smoke portal for the return trip. At the time, only Caterpillar, myself, and Hatter knew how to blow smoke portals. Caterpillar had started teaching Hatter how to blow smoke portals as well, and Hatter, unlike me, was a brilliant student who learned in two weeks what had taken me months to learn. Hatter and I both then learned together how to blow Caterpillar's newly discovered "continuous smoke portals". He learned the new technique in two hours. It took me two weeks. I feel like such a dunce around Hatter.
Hatter took his first trip "uptop" as a personal favor to me. Now everyone knows that about once a month a woman has a few days when she is, shall we say, not at her best. I didn't have a problem with this before when I was so waifish, but now I get those damn things once a month like clockwork. Sometimes it hurts so bad that I actually wish I was a size 2 again. Then I remember how much I hated looking like a boy. While I was sweating one out, Hatter decided to make a trip "uptop" to a grocery story pharmacy to get some Midol for me. There was still some money left over from the windfall that had popped out the back of a desktop computer that had broken open when tossed down the Rabbit Hole, so paying for it would not be a problem. Hatter blew a smoke portal that opened just outside the Rabbit Hole "uptop" and began hiking along the wooded border of the stream in the direction away from the street in front of the asylum. There was supposed to be a large grocery story located about a mile or so behind the asylum. Hatter continued walking until he came to a long barrier row of trees. He looked around for an opening and didn't see anything obvious. He pushed his way through the branches, and that's when he saw it: there was a huge tent city located behind a shopping center ahead. Ragged, dirty homeless people were everywhere. Now Hatter had never before witnessed such misery in the uptop world, and for all his outer gruffness, he was really a sensitive soul. Hatter walked along the edge of the homeless encampment and went into the grocery store to make his purchase. He didn't talk to any of the homeless people on the way back, and none of them approached him. Hatter told me his story when he handed me the bottle of pills.
Now up until then, I had had nothing to help dull the pain of periods except the double-strength cherry brandy which Bill, Mr. White, and I made occasionally purely for my personal use. It was 140 proof and was kept in my weapons locker. Needless to say, when Hatter handed me the bottle of pills, I was drunk out of my skull. I was not only not feeling my cramps, I wasn't feeling anything at all – not even my toes. Out of pity, I suppose, Hatter sat down with me and had a few glasses of my "period brandy". It wasn't long before Hatter was as drunk as I was. He didn't realize that the brandy was double-strength. Hatter had hurt my feelings six or seven weeks ago on a wild Wonderland Saturday night, and I figured now was a very good time to ask about the snub. I mentioned that Hatter hadn't gotten up on a chair and declared his eternal love for me like he had always done before on our once-every-two-months ritual showings of the Matrix Trilogy on Saturday nights. Hatter always got plastered on Matrix night, and it was then and only then that his feelings for me came pouring out. Then he always got really embarrassed after he sobered up, and he would hide from me for a couple of days. I admitted that I felt just a wee bit hurt and rejected because of this, and wanted to know that actual reason. Hatter looked very embarrassed, but, because he was drunk, he was willing to talk. He was also very blunt: "I like my women thin." Ouch. Since I was drunk, I was feeling no inhibitions at all: "Are you telling me that you don't like me anymore, or are you just telling me you find me less physically attractive?" Hatter looked a bit disturbed. Maybe he realized he was being a jerk. "I've always adored you. You know that. I just don't find you physically attractive at all anymore." I asked Hatter to sit down next to me and pulled his head over on my chest. It was kind of a dirty trick. You might say that I introduced Hatter to the "twins" which I didn't have when I was thin. It didn't work, however. Hatter fell asleep. I guess a pair of Bs weren't worth staying awake for. The next thing I knew, Cheshire had come in, spotted Hatter and me on the sofa, and got a little angry. Cheshire hissed Hatter out the door and confronted me. Yes, I was still drunk. I told him not to worry: "Hatter has no interest in me now. He thinks I'm ugly. Good riddance, Hatter. Does Hatter have any idea just how ugly he is? His face is the thirteenth weapon of Wonderland!" Dumb, Alice. Dumb, dumb, dumb! You stupid drunken slut! You should have just let ol' Furball get jealous. Nothing like jealousy to trick a man...er, cat...into proposing. Cheshire looked amused and was no longer angry: "Hatter doesn't know a beautiful woman when he sees one." Cheshire gave me the long, slow look up and down, and said, "You are stunning -- you take my breath away." Cheshire always seemed to know the right thing to say, but I didn't know if he was sincere or not. Since I was drunk, I brought up the marriage thing again: "When are you going to get me that ring, you furry little coward? Or will I have to get you drunk and trick you into marrying me? You know I can be very devious." Cheshire suddenly remembered he was hungry and scampered off to the Vale to hunt snarks. He always gets hungry when I mention the word "marriage". Men! Er... Cats! Bloody coward! Hic!
This short story is based on the characters of the video game American McGee's Alice. Electronic Arts (EA) holds the copyrights.
The idea for chapter one came from LiannaInHell's "If Alice Were On Her Period" - a short, inspired piece of lunacy!
Chapter Two: A Mischievous Idea
I repeated Hatter's story about the tent city behind the shopping center to Caterpillar and asked him if there was anything devious I could do to make the self-absorbed uptop world more aware of the increasing exclusion of their citizens from the so-called "prosperity" that the uptop newspapers never tired of trumpeting. I personally felt that the uptop newspapers were so full of lies that they weren't fit for use as anything but toilet paper. (Old newspapers were the toilet paper of Wonderland. I was partial to old copies of the New York Times, myself.) Caterpillar suggested that infiltration was one possible strategy, but I would need to have a plan of what I hoped to accomplish before I attempted such a thing. He didn't think going uptop to live among the homeless was an ethical idea if done only for information gathering. I had to have some goals. I went home to think about what I might hope to accomplish.
It took me awhile, but I eventually came up with one worthwhile goal: I wanted to convince homeless people that their lives were just as valuable as the lives of the rich. I didn't buy the idea that material wealth made the lives of some people more valuable than the lives of other people. Every person, I felt, had the right to the basic necessities and also some minimum level of human dignity. The problem was how to explain such ideas to people who seemed ashamed even to be alive. I visited Caterpillar in his Oracle Cave and laid out my ideas to him. Caterpillar rubbed his chin – or what passes for a chin on a caterpillar – and seemed lost in thought. "Alice, I do believe I'm starting to rub off on you. You're starting to sound like a philosopher. I'm most impressed. If you seek my blessing for such a venture, you have it. Of course, you don't need my permission or anyone else's to do as you please."
I went to Hatter and explained my ideas to him as well and asked if he would care to take part. I didn't want to try living in a homeless encampment alone. To put it bluntly, I was chicken to try it alone. I needed Hatter. Hatter was apparently feeling so guilty over a certain unkind remark he had made to me that he agreed immediately.
As I've mentioned before, Hatter is the indispensable man of Wonderland. Just about everything technical in Wonderland is run by him. Hatter had to train replacements to run the electric plant, water plant, sewage plant, and other technical things in Wonderland. It took him two months to train his most knowledgeable gnomes – one of whom snitched to me that Hatter had that same pin-up picture of me that was floating around the gnome village in a frame on top of his writing desk. I personally thought it was a very good idea to have people besides Hatter who knew how to run and repair Wonderland's admittedly primitive utilities. After two months, Hatter was ready to join me in my intended adventure in the homeless encampment. I didn't mention the picture on top of his writing desk.
Hatter and I both went uptop on a shopping trip to buy some basics such as backpacks and camp-style cookware. About one-third of the original $2000 windfall was still left after we made our purchases. We both filled our backpacks with some basic necessities and met at Caterpillar's Oracle Cave for our departure. Of course I had my usual assortment of weapons from my weapons locker – Bowie knife, spinning top, looking glass, and this time also the ice wand and the jackbomb – and also the three "bongs" with Caterpillar's smoke portal powder. I also had one weapon that I had never used before: the shrunken head that Caterpillar had recently handed to me without a word. I actually had to use the disgusting thing to find out what it did. I threw it and saw that it created an enormous, foul-smelling, black smokescreen. Inside the smokescreen I could faintly see all sorts of horrifying illusions. I had no doubt that any people caught inside the smoke screen would be frightened out of their wits. It occurred to me that this might be the perfect weapon for trips "uptop" as it appeared to be nonlethal, although I did suspect that it would cause an occasional person to have a heart attack from fright. That was, no doubt, the reason why caterpillar gave it to me. He was well aware of my reluctance to risk killing someone "uptop" even in self-defense. The rumor around Wonderland was that the shrunken head was actually the head of the Duchess. I was the one who had killed her. By just looking at it, I couldn't tell, but the possibility that it was her head sure creeped me out. I also had a dozen ski masks and a box of 200 disposable rubber gloves. I was already planning night-time grocery store raids. The ski masks were to hide faces from security cameras and the rubber gloves were to prevent fingerprints from being left behind. Caterpillar blew a smoke portal and Hatter and I both stepped through. In a moment, we were both "uptop" and just outside the Rabbit Hole. We hiked the rest of the way toward the homeless encampment. We didn't talk.
This short story is based on the characters of the video game American McGee's Alice. Electronic Arts (EA) holds the copyrights. The idea of a shrunken head (the head of the Duchess) as a weapon is entirely mine.
Chapter 3: The City Behind the Asylum
As we entered the homeless encampment, a group of three men and a woman walked up to us. "Are you planning on staying here?" asked the woman. It quickly became apparent that the woman was the unofficial head of the encampment. Everyone seemed to defer to her. This was a surprise and, no doubt, a bit uncomfortable to Hatter who was accustomed to men being in charge of everything. I said that we were looking for a place to stay and would appreciate being allowed to stay in the vicinity. We didn't have tents. It was then that I noticed that each of the three men had a gun. The woman introduced herself as Arianne and noted that the three men were the "enforcers" in the homeless camp. She looked at me and said, "We haven't had a rape for six months, which is very, very good for homeless encampments." Nobody had yet noticed the knife I had strapped to my hip. I slowly pulled it out and said, "I'm quite capable of taking care of myself." A rabbit was hopping around about fifty feet away and I aimed my knife and let fly. The rabbit squealed and dropped over dead on the spot. I didn't raise my hand for the automatic return and instead walked over to pick up the knife and the rabbit. "Anyone want rabbit for dinner? I don't eat meat." I handed the rabbit to Arianne whose eyes were bugging out. The three men were also looking at me quite intently. I thought it best to keep the special properties of my knife secret for the moment. I looked at Hatter and whispered, "Don't tell Mr. White." I shoved the knife back into my my hip sheath with a pirate-like flourish.
Arianne led Hatter and me to an old man who had the look of an elder statesman. "We just call him 'Q'. No matter what you need, he always seems to know of a charity or a free store where you can find it. He'll take you to a free store to get a tent. You can leave your belongings in my tent in the meantime. No one ever enters my tent without asking first. Everyone's afraid to. Your belongings will be safe." Hatter and I did as she suggested and departed with "Q". "Q" knew of a church charity that distributed old, used boy scout tents to homeless people. The tents weren't much and often leaked in the rain, but they were better than nothing. I saw an old, rusty ax lying in a corner and asked for that. Maybe we would be able to find some heavy nails later. I had an idea. Hatter smiled as he knew exactly what I was thinking: a log cabin. I carried the two tents and "Q" carried the ax back to encampment. I didn't ask Hatter to carry one of the tents because I knew that he wouldn't be able to carry it for long. As strange as it sounds, I was the one with the brawn and he was the one with the brains. I remember "Q" staring at me in astonishment as I carried the two tents without any apparent exertion.
After we got back to the encampment, Arianne explained the basics of life in the camp. "We don't really have a reliable source of water. Most people are filling up water bottles at a car wash located over in the shopping center. The manager looks the other way most of the time, but when he expects a visit from his area supervisor he puts locks on the outdoor water faucets because he's afraid of losing his job. Supplying an entire homeless encampment with drinking water is not in his job description. Another source is the creek. Some people here have been dipping water out of the creek and then adding chlorine bleach. This is not really sufficient water treatment and these people get diarrhea a lot and sometimes even parasites. There are no public water taps available. You'd think that in a civilized country, everyone, even homeless people, would have access to safe drinking water. This is not a civilized country. A few of us have taken to stealing water from residential homes' outside water taps in the middle of the night. This is what most of do on days when the car wash has locks on its outdoor water faucets. None of us feels guilty. The people who drink water from the creek tend to die after a few years. They just keep getting skinnier and nastier-looking. Don't drink water from the creek if you can help it. That should be a last resort." Hatter had a look of utter horror on his face. I wonder what look I had on my face. Arianne went into her tent and handed Hatter and me each two plastic water bottles that were full. "This water came from the car wash and is drinkable. You are now on your own regarding water. Food, however, is shared. There are a few people who cook rice and beans daily for the entire camp. You can walk over there and get some now, if you wish. The primary rule in this camp is share your food. Most of every day is spent getting water and searching for food. Some of the food in this camp comes from dumpsters. I hope you're not too picky." Hatter looked like he was about to faint. I walked over and got some rice and beans in a paper bowl. I washed my hands in the creek and then ate with my hands like some Peace Corps Volunteer in Africa. Hatter just stood there and turned...um...even greener than he usually is. I later gave him one of the chocolate bars from the box that I had brought with me. Hatter meekly thanked me and took the bar. Nothing more was said.
The next morning started out in a similar manner. I took a metal bowl from my camp kit and got in line with the rest of the encampment members. It was impossible not to notice how thin and haggard everybody else looked. Quite a few of the encampment members were staring at me that morning. I couldn't help wondering why. Was it the Bowie knife on my hip? Maybe it was the apron I always wore. Hatter kept out of sight and I started to worry that he might refuse to eat. The rest of that first day was a lesson for me in food gathering. The nastiest-looking people (the most pitiful-looking people) stood in line at food banks all day hoping for a handout. With all the government cutbacks in funding for anti-poverty programs, getting a free grocery bag of food was getting more and more difficult. The rest of us who were still capable of physical activity engaged in the time-honored homeless activity of "dumpster diving."
The rules for dumpster diving:
Always dive in the daytime so you can see the ants. Never dive into a dumpster full of ants.
Beware of alley cats inside the dumpsters. It is not good to get a face full of angry feline claws.
Keep your distance from raccoons. Raccoons are sometimes seen in the early morning.
Beware of the possibility of rat poison sprinkled inside a dumpster.
Dumpster diving by beginners is best done with a long stick that has a hook of some type at one end.
The best trash is usually at the bottom of the dumpster.
Canned goods are usually safe, but inspect them carefully for pinpricks because of the risk of botulism.
Never eat from a can that is rusty, bulging, or dented.
If the food from a can spews when opened, don't eat it. Botulism.
Never eat anything that is home-canned.
Dry foods still in the original packages are probably safe.
Always grab intact packages of rice, beans, or dry pasta.
A half-empty jar of peanut butter is probably safe. Peanut butter does not require refrigeration.
Do not eat wrapped up home leftovers.
Take only what is immediately useful. Leave everything else.
Dumpsters at construction sites might contain a few useful non-food items.
This short story is based on the characters of the video game American McGee's Alice. Electronic Arts (EA) holds the copyrights.
Much of the information in the list of rules for dumpster diving comes from Chapter 7 "On Dumpster Diving" from the book Travels With Lizbeth by Lars Eighner.
Chapter Four: Patterns of Life
Life at the homeless encampment became a pattern of refilling water bottles, eating, standing in line at food banks and charities, and dumpster diving. Most people had long since given up on job hunting. The only way for any of us to bathe was to wash in the creek – preferably below the point where some people were dipping water out to treat with chlorine bleach for drinking purposes. There was very little privacy. I didn't really fancy exposing my body, but if I didn't want to smell like a skunk, there was little choice. I already smelled worse than Hatter, and that was something that had never happened before. Women tended to bathe as a group with Arianne because everybody felt safer with her around. I joined the group at the creek after a few days in the encampment and was treated to some subtle stares. The other women tried to be polite, but they were all gaunt and sickly-looking and I...well...wasn't. It didn't take long for the harsh living conditions in the encampment to take its toll on me as well. Two weeks later Arianne noted that I appeared to have dropped five pounds: "You're starting to wither just like the rest of us did."
Meanwhile, Hatter had found a way to make himself useful. He had drawn up a blue print for a primitive slow sand filter to use for purifying the creek water and making it relatively safe to drink. He showed his blue print and list of items needed to Arianne, and she paired a burly-looking fellow with Hatter to assist him in finding the necessary materials. Together they went scrounging through dumpsters at construction sites and going to charities in hopes of obtaining construction materials. Hatter let the other guy fill out the forms as he knew no one would believe him if he filled out the forms. It took about three weeks of extensive searching to obtain all of the necessary materials. It took Hatter only a few hours to assemble the materials and set up an intake pipe upstream at a higher elevation to drain into the new filter. Arianne took one look at the final result and declared Hatter a genius. She was so overcome with gratitude that she bawled like a baby. No one in the camp could recall having seen the hardened Arianne cry before. The absolute worst problem in the camp was now solved. The slow sand filter produced just enough water for drinking purposes for the entire camp. Washing dishes and bathing still had to be done in untreated creek water. Now if only we could solve the bathroom problem! I had started running around bare-assed again to make taking a leak easier.
Unknown to me at the time, Hatter had found a way to eat very well while living in the homeless encampment. He had set up rabbit snares all over the place and was catching one or two rabbits almost every night. In the middle of the night, Hatter was blowing smoke portals back to Wonderland to his own home so that he could roast his rabbits in his oven and shower in his own bathroom. In other words, Hatter was cheating. There would, however, be a price to pay for this cheating later. That was when I discovered what Hatter was doing.
After about two weeks, Hatter and I gave up on the idea of building a log cabin. We agreed the idea was too ambitious. I finally brought up the pin-up photo of me that Hatter kept on his writing desk. Hatter did not seem embarrassed at all and said simply, "It's the only portrait I have of you. I really wanted a portrait of you for my study." After about a month, I decided that the time had come to reveal to Arianne my real purpose in the encampment. I had gotten to know her and the other camp residents well enough to have earned a bit of trust. My knack for nailing rabbits at long distances on the spur of the moment with my Bowie knife, often right in front of other homeless residents, had garnered me a bit of popularity in the camp. Everyone knew that I didn't eat meat and always gave away the freshly-killed rabbits. I walked up to Arianne's tent and asked to enter. She assented and I went in. She was alone and sitting on top of a rather dirty sleeping bag that had a sheet of plywood under it that was sitting on top of flat rocks. "To keep the sleeping bag dry when it rains," she explained. I asked her if she had ever been suspicious about who I might be. "Well, of course," she said. "We've never had anybody as unusual as you in the camp before. Having a Bowie knife always strapped to your hip is alone reason enough to make the rest of us wonder. You come across as a female Daniel Boone, or maybe a pirate. You seem to have an almost pirate-like swagger. If you've come to tell me who you really are, I'm all ears. My bet is on an escaped circus performer. You do wonders with that knife." It was news to me that I had a "pirate-like swagger". Did I come across as arrogant?
"Do you remember that weird story you heard about President George Bush being taken on an unusual time travel trip by a girl he described as some sort of psycho version of the Wonderland Alice?"
"Yes, I remember," said Arianne. "Everyone thought Bush has lost his few remaining marbles. It's a wonder he didn't end up in a nuthouse." Arianne looked me over. I knew what she was eyeballing: blue dress, white apron, etc...
"Come take a trip with me. We need to go into the woods by the creek. Just a little privacy."
This short story is based on the characters of the video game American McGee's Alice. Electronic Arts (EA) holds the copyrights.
Chapter 5: The Grocery Store Raids
Arianne was really starting to get suspicious now and even seemed a bit afraid. I unzipped the velcro across my apron pocket and took out Caterpillar's bong. I lit it with one of Hatter's cigarette lighters and blew a time travel smoke portal. The oranges and yellows of the portal rotated slowly in front of us. "Come take a visit to the White House with me," I said. I took Arianne's hand and we stepped through. After shooting through the swirling, purple, funhouse tunnel of time travel, Arianne and I floated just above the floor inside the White House completely unseen by everyone around us. The usual massive headache occurred to me as my mind caught up with the differences that had occurred since the time we had left. The look on my face must have told Arianne all she needed to know: the wars in the Middle East had gotten worse and everything was falling apart, including the U.S. economy that was collapsing under the strain of ever-increasing war spending and ever-falling tax revenues from further rounds of tax cuts aimed at the very rich. I wanted to leave immediately and said so to Arianne. She shook her head up and down to indicate yes, and I blew another smoke portal. I couldn't wait to leave. We stepped through and thumped down in the woods outside the homeless encampment. Arianne did not ask me about what I had learned in the time travel jump. Somehow she knew without asking. She did not seem disturbed at what she had just experienced. I told Arianne that I would meet her at her tent at 3:00 AM and we would go "shopping" for food. I think she understood that I was planning to steal it.
Arianne was waiting for me at 3:00 AM and we went into the woods. The moonlight was just bright enough for us to see our way. I explained to Arianne that this time I was going to open a portal that opened inside a grocery store. I would make the first trip alone and throw a "smoke bomb" that cleared all the night employees out of the store. I would return and then Arianne and I both would transport through another portal straight to the bulk section. I would grab 50-pound bags of rice and she would grab all the bulk bags of beans she could carry. I handed Arianne a ski mask to hide her face from security cameras and disposable gloves to mask her fingerprints. I also put on the ski mask and rubber gloves and made my first trip. I blew a "continuous-type" smoke portal and immediately threw the shrunken head. I stepped back through and thumped down near the waiting Arianne. I told Arianne that we had about two minutes after arrival to get what we needed and then we would meet at precisely the spot where we arrived. At the last moment, I decided to blow a continuous portal so that the meeting spot would be continuously visible. I did not want Arianne getting lost in the store. I blew the portal and we stepped through. I ran straight to the bulk aisle and grabbed three 50-pound bags of rice and Arianne grabbed two 20-pound bags of beans. The shrunken head returned to my hand and I immediately stuffed it in my apron to prevent Arianne from seeing it. We headed straight back to the portal when I got distracted by the candy display. Endless bars of Ghiradelli milk chocolate. I took fifteen seconds to stuff my apron pockets completely full and then headed to the portal. Arianne was waiting and we both stepped through.
Back in the woods, Arianne immediately broke out into hysterical laughter. She tore the velcro strap off my apron pocket and ran her fingers through what must have 40 bars of chocolate. "You're addicted to chocolate! That explains a lot!" She patted my tail and said "That'll put back at least some of what you've lost!" She knew I wouldn't be offended and started giggling. Obviously she had no guilt feelings about stealing food – at least not from a corporate grocery store. "Would you care to share some of that chocolate?" Arianne asked. I handed her two bars and took two for myself. We proceeded to make pigs of ourselves laughing nonstop. Dragging our stolen booty behind us, we walked back into the encampment with our faces smeared all over with chocolate. For a brief moment, we were eight years old again. And Arianne was my dearest friend.
The next morning we emptied the bags of stolen booty into existing storage bins and burned the bags. Arianne finally asked me the question I'd been waiting to hear: "How on earth did you lift three fifty-pound bags of rice at the same time?" I took her over to an old junked car at the edge of the homeless encampment. With my back to the front fender, I put both hands underneath the fender and proceeded to lift it up about six inches. Of course, it wasn't really me lifting the car – it was the Queen of Hearts – the demon inside me. The Queen of Hearts was one person I hoped that Arianne would never see. "I'm much, much stronger than I look," I told Arianne. "Oh, in case I haven't told you, my name is Alice."
Arianne smiled and replied, "I had already guessed. If you're willing, I'd love to hear some of the stories of your experiences." I spent that day with Arianne planning a larger theft of food at a large corporate grocery store located on the other side of town – one I remembered from childhood. We would take five of the biggest, strongest men and meet in the woods at 3:00 AM when there were likely to be only night stockers inside the grocery store. I would have ski masks and rubber gloves for everyone to hide faces from the cameras and prevent fingerprints from being deposited anywhere. Using shopping carts was absolutely forbidden as I did not want any shopping carts from that grocery store in our encampment. I mentioned that we all needed to remember to bring along a bag to fill with toothbrushes, floss, and toothpaste. Most of the encampment members had nasty-looking teeth. The goal of this expedition was to replenish the encampment's food stocks. I thought that police raids of homeless camps looking for the thieves would be unlikely without any obvious signs of breaking and entering. Political protest of the country's indifference to homeless people would have to wait.
That night Arianne led five men to our meeting place in the woods for the grocery store raid. I first made a speech about how the raid was to be conducted: four minutes only and remember where the portal was! You can imagine the looks on the men's faces when they saw me blow a smoke portal. We did everything the same as before: I handed out ski masks and rubber gloves, and made the first trip to throw the shrunken head to clear the store. When I returned, I blew a continuous-type portal to the grocery store that would stay open until every person who traveled through had also returned. This was how continuous portals worked in general: they did not close until every person who had traveled to the destination point had stepped through to return to the point of origin. Of course I knew how to close a continuous portal early if I wanted to: a jackbomb worked very well. We all stepped through and grabbed for booty – mostly rice, beans, and pasta. Some of us remembered to grab toothbrushes, toothpaste, and floss. I also grabbed vitamin pills and sugarless vitamin C drops. We nearly all showed signs of vitamin A & C deficiency. It occurred to me in the store that we needed to start a garden in the homeless encampment. Unfortunately, the store did not have vegetable seeds. By this time the shrunken head had returned to my hand, and I shoved it into my apron hoping nobody had seen it. I ran around herding everyone back to the portal as I did not want anyone in the store longer than four minutes. Soon enough we were back in the woods, and Arianne ripped open the velcro on my apron pockets to reveal that I had stuffed them full of chocolate bars again. My bag with dental stuff was also filled with chocolate bars. She collapsed onto the ground in laughter. "You and your chocolate addiction! This is hysterical! Can I have some?" I passed out chocolate bars to everyone and we headed back to the encampment dragging our bags of booty behind us. Nobody even blinked at the sight of me dragging three fifty-pound bags of rice behind me. Arianne must have already told them. I did not feel the slightest guilt over stealing food from a corporation. As before, we emptied the rice and beans into storage bins and burned the bags. There would be no more thefts from grocery stores in the near future. Our food problem was solved for at least two months. Now my thinking shifted toward political protest.
Chapter 6: Arianne
An hour later while everyone else was asleep, Arianne whispered to enter my tent. I let her in thinking that she might be wanting some more chocolate. It wasn't chocolate she was interested in. She started to take off her dress and reached to undress me. I was hypnotized and unable to move. Arianne was moving around me in the same seductive manner that I sometimes used on Cheshire. I couldn't believe that a woman was coming on to me. Now I think I've made it evident that I genuinely liked Arianne, but the idea of sex with a woman was something that had never crossed my mind. Arianne's slow, rhythmic undressing of herself and me caused a wave of intense heat to wash over me. The scream between my legs took my breath away. Not even Cheshire had ever turned me on like this. I didn't have to do a thing. Arianne knew exactly what to do and obviously knew more about turning on a woman than Cheshire. Seconds later she was on top of me, kissing me and fingering my crotch. Her long, red-brown hair draped into my face. Her hands darted everywhere rubbing and caressing in places that Cheshire had never discovered. Now, I'm a straight girl, if a girl who's paired up with a cat can be called a straight girl, but I wanted this. I really wanted this. Just this once... The only way I can describe how it felt is to say that it was like I had twenty vibrators all stuck into me at the same time and switched on. Not even the electric shock treatments I had had in the asylum convulsed me like this. Arianne went into near convulsions at almost precisely the same moment as I did. If we had been inside my sleeping bag instead of on top of it, we surely would have torn it to pieces. It was fortunate for us both that we kept our fingernails well-trimmed or we would have sliced each other into long, narrow ribbons. Arianne had the face of a faded Sophia Loren and a painfully thin figure of the type I used to have. She was almost as short as me. Her breasts were about the same size as mine. It was obvious that, if she weren't so malnourished, she would have the lush curves of a 1940s Hollywood actress. I was almost envious, but lush curves are generally something that tomboys like me don't want. A half hour later my head was asleep on Arianne's chest. Fortunately she woke up and sneeked out before sunrise. I couldn't help wondering how often she had done this sort of thing before.
The next morning I discussed with Arianne my idea on how to organize an impossible-to-ignore political protest against government indifference to the now massive number of homeless people in the U.S. My own feeling was that there were at least four million homeless people in the U.S. -- many of them hidden because they moved from one temporary place to another, sleeping on the floors of friends' apartments. My idea was to swiftly move from one homeless encampment to another opening continuous portals directly into the White House lobby and flooding the place with so many homeless people that even the secret service agents would find themselves unable to move about. Of course with that many people and so few bathrooms... Arianne thought that I had lost my mind and started to laugh. Then she took a second look at me and, with combined amusement and a bit of horror, suddenly realized that I was deadly serious. "You're mad!" she said. "I'm Alice," I answered with a cheshire grin. For the protest to have any chance of success, the press would have to be there in force. Arianne agreed to contact the press to inform them of a time for the intended protest. It would still be at least a week. Arianne was the one who had to do the work of contacting all the other homeless encampments in the city. She said there were at least twenty homeless encampments that she knew of. I whispered in her ear that she was welcome to visit me in my tent in the middle of night whenever she cared to. It was an invitation.
For the rest of my time in the homeless camp, Arianne came to visit me nightly and every single love-making session was as spectacular as the first. She taught me all the tricks that she knew and I practiced on her everything that she had used on me. We ended our love-making sessions with chocolate orgies and the giggling of a pair of eight-year-old girls. Unfortunately, my time in the camp was drawing to a close. There remained only the planned political protest as a goal. Then it would be time for me to leave. I had to make a decision. Would I extend an invitation to Arianne to come back to Wonderland with me? It was unsettling to admit it, but I preferred Arianne over Cheshire because she was more affectionate. Much more affectionate.
Just two days before the planned protest in the White House, I noticed that Hatter seemed to be missing. I visited Hatter in his tent and he handed me two pairs of pants that had split down the back. He asked me to take them to my tailor, not his, and have them repaired. I looked at the two pants and then asked, "Just repaired? Or repaired and let out a couple of inches?" I looked Hatter straight in the eye and told him to "spill it." I knew that he had been going back to Wonderland every night because I never saw him eat anything in the homeless encampment. Hatter looked like he wanted to die from embarrassment. He had set up snares for rabbits everywhere and had been blowing smoke portals back to Wonderland to cook his rabbits in his own kitchen and to bathe in his own shower. Hatter had never eaten better in his life. Hatter handed me a bag and stuffed his two pants in it. "Let them both out three inches. Get back as soon as you can. I don't have any pants that will fit." Hatter blew a smoke portal back to the gnome village for me, and I stepped through carrying his bag. My gnome tailor was a bit irritated at having to do a rush job, but I bribed her with some of my "period brandy". Suddenly she was willing to do a rush job. Two hours later I had Hatter's pants let out and repaired and blew a smoke portal back to the woods just outside the homeless encampment. I walked the rest of the way and threw the bag into Hatter's tent without saying a word. I didn't say the obvious insult because it was just too easy – easier than even dipping fish out of a rain barrel. Maybe Hatter would learn a little humility. Hatter started giving away his rabbits to the other homeless encampment members and stood in line for rice and beans like me. Hatter was on a diet. How amusing.
For the last week I had been transporting Arianne to other homeless encampments in the area via smoke portals and letting her do all the arrangements for the planned protest. She was well-known throughout the homeless community and had the credibility to tell the extraordinary tale of a planned protest inside the White House. I was an unknown among the homeless and thought it best to stay in the background. Besides, who would really believe who I was anyway? Besides Arianne, that is. The day we had picked for the protest was a day when there would be visiting foreign dignitaries in the White House. This ensured that there would be newspaper and television journalists all over the place. If there was one thing we needed, it was witnesses. In the meantime, I made a trip back to Wonderland to Caterpillar's Oracle Cave to replenish my supply of "hookah powder" for blowing smoke portals. I explained why I needed the additional powder and Caterpillar agreed that I would need to carry much more than I had left with to carry out my intended purpose. Caterpillar refilled all three of my "bongs" and then gave me three small, nearly indestructable metal containers each containing room for enough powder for six refills. I thanked Caterpillar and then blew a smoke portal back to the homeless encampment.
The next morning as I stood in line for rice and beans, the man behind me whispered "You and Arianne might as well be open about your relationship because everyone in the camp knows." So much for secrecy. I told Arianne and she shrugged her shoulders. "It was bound to get out sooner or later. Care to hold hands in public? Even kiss?" "Only in the homeless camp," I said. "Never outside of this homeless camp." Arianne and I had become a couple. From that moment on we always greeted each other with a kiss on the mouth. It didn't matter who was looking. Soon enough Hatter witnessed one of those kisses and turned sheet pink. The next morning was the scheduled protest. Arianne and I agreed to have our daily tryst in the afternoon instead of in the middle of the night. Neither one of us wanted to be tired out for tomorrow.
Chapter Seven: Operation Pointless Endeavor
Shortly after lunch I made a trip back to Wonderland for an essential item that I had not carried with me: rage potion. It had been almost thirty years since I had touched the stuff, and I was not particularly eager to use it again, but I felt it would be wise to carry several doses of the vile liquid with me just in case I had an army of secret service agents pull guns on me. I took six vials of rage potion out of my weapons locker and attached two of them together with heavy strapping tape. I had never taken two "hits" of rage potion simultaneously before, but, if I got cornered in the White House, I had made up my mind to chance it. I was absolutely unwilling to risk under any circumstances the possibility of a Wonderland weapon falling into the hands of the U.S. government. I went to my gnome tailor with a bribe of several bottles of my "period brandy" to sew two small pockets just above the breast on my dress for holding vials of rage potion. For a few bottles of my "period brandy", my gnome tailor was positively eager to do rush jobs for me. Damn, she loves that stuff. Who would have ever guessed that a gnome female would have such a taste for alcohol?
After returning to the homeless encampment, I showed the two taped-together vials to Arianne and told her that if she ever saw me suddenly raise the vials to my face just in front of the eyes, it meant that somebody had aimed a gun at me and that I had chosen to fight instead of passively being arrested. "You have to herd everyone back through the portals as fast as possible if you see this. There is no honor in being arrested and herded into a U.S. jail. It is a futile gesture. It would be wise if everyone stayed very close to the portal through which they arrived. In other words, everyone must be constantly on guard to make a hasty exit. Even if the protest lasts only one minute, it will matter if the newspaper and television journalists see it. I hope you don't see me raise these vials to my face because what comes after is truly horrible." I did not explain what the vials were or what they did. With luck, Arianne would not have to find out.
That afternoon Arianne entered my tent for what we both knew might be our last love-making session. This time we made no effort to be quiet or secretive. When we were done, I went to sleep with my head on Arianne's chest, and this time she stayed until I awoke. She stroked my hair with an obvious affection that Cheshire had never shown me in over twenty years. For the first time since I had lived with my family, I felt truly loved. Later that night, when it was time to go to sleep, Arianne came over to my tent and spent the entire night with me. I fell asleep with her arm around me.
The next day after breakfast the time had come. In rapid succession I blew smoke portals to each of the homeless encampments that Arianne had visited and prepared for the protest. In each encampment I blew a continuous portal into the White House lobby and then left for the next encampment. It took about an hour to visit all of the encampments. The last encampment to receive a continuous portal into the White House lobby was my own. The appointed time for the mass departure had arrived, and at each encampment, including my own, we all stepped through the portals into the White House lobby almost simultaneously.
When Arianne and I arrived in the White House lobby, we saw that the room was filled wall-to-wall with people. Some were carrying signs, but many were participating merely by being present. That was certainly all right with me. I wasn't much for carrying signs myself. It was obvious, painfully obvious, that we were all people who had been living long-term in homeless encampments. We were a ragged and pitiful sight. The White House lobby was filled with television cameras and newspaper journalists with cameras. Flash bulbs went off continuously. One journalist jumped in front of me with a camera and clicked away. "Great," I thought. " Just great." I did not want to have my picture on any front pages. Then I realized that I was holding Arianne's hand when the pictures were taken. There were no visiting foreign dignitaries within view and no White House staffers in view either. The television cameras kept rolling and the journalists' cameras continued to flash. George W. Bush had probably been swiftly taken to some underground bunker, I thought. Since the portals had started appearing about an hour ago, they had had plenty of advance warning that something was up. That was when I saw them.
"That's her!" one of the men with guns shouted. "The girl in the blue dress and white apron! She's a terrorist!" Well, shit! I had just arrived and I was already a terrorist? I had tried to save George's soul in a previous encounter with him and this was the thanks I got? I jerked the two taped-together vials of rage potion that I had been carrying in my left hand up in front of my eyes. Out of the corner of one eye I saw that Arianne had already started herding everyone back through the portals. She hadn't waited for my signal and I was most grateful that she hadn't. I pressed both plungers, one full dose in each eye. The last sound I heard was gunfire.
This short story is based on the characters of the video game "American McGee's Alice." Electronic Arts (EA) holds the copyrights.
See my previous short story "Queen George W. Bush Has a Nightmare."
Chapter 8: An Important Question
I never even saw the flash of blinding white which had been the case in all my previous uses of rage potion which had been a single dose. In what seemed like only a few seconds, the world cleared and I looked around to see that the White House lobby was completely vacant except for one camera woman who was still shooting film. I looked around to see at least a dozen severed hands still clutching guns and with fingers still on the trigger. There were no dead bodies. Thank Heaven! I looked down at my hands and they were still claws. It was very rare for me to regain consciousness while still "converted". My Bowie knife was in its sheath. On the front of my dress I had four cascades of blood from bullet holes. I had been hit four times. Strange how I felt nothing. I felt nothing at all. I looked at the camera woman and asked, "Aren't you afraid of me?" She replied immediately, "You only attacked people who were aiming guns at you. I don't have a gun or any kind of weapon. I'm not afraid of you." The most courageous person in the room was a woman. It figured. "Who are you?" she asked. "I'm someone that George W. Bush knows very well. Ask him." I walked over to the one remaining portal in the room and stepped through. In a moment, I was back in my own homeless encampment. The time that I had spent in the White House lobby was probably about three minutes.
Nearly everyone in the homeless encampment was gathered around the portal waiting for me to return. One glimpse of the "Queen of Hearts" was enough for most people: at least 90 percent of them ran. Arianne spotted me immediately and was aghast at the sight of all the blood. I told her that I was all right, and that bullets only penetrate about an inch into the "Queen of Hearts". It wasn't as bad as it looked. "You'll forgive me if I wait to give you a kiss, I hope," she said. I didn't blame her a bit. I wouldn't want to kiss the "Queen of Hearts" either. "How long will you stay like this?" Arianne asked with a bit of fear in her voice. Was she worried that I would be like this permanently? "I don't know," I said, "but I am certain that it will wear off eventually. Probably in a couple of minutes. I need to go back to Wonderland as soon as possible because I've been labeled a terrorist. You know what that means in George W. Bush's America. I also need to get Hatter to dig the bullets out of me. He's Wonderland's doctor, among other things. Let's go into my tent. I have something important to discuss with you."
Arianne followed me into my tent, and, after sitting down, I started to flicker as if I were becoming visible again after using the looking glass. Arianne asked, "Does this mean it's wearing off?"
A few seconds later I was normal again, so there was no need to reply. Arianne heaved an enormous sigh of relief. I was quite relieved, too, actually. I asked Arianne my important question, "Would you like to come back to Wonderland with me as my lifetime partner? You don't have to answer immediately. I'm willing to wait for an answer." I didn't have to wait for an answer. Arianne was on top of me in a split second kissing me. She had forgotten about the blood. "I take it that's a yes..." It was. Love is truly blind.
Chapter 9: Three Months Later
Cheshire wasn't happy about getting dumped, especially getting dumped for a female, but, as time passed, he grudgingly learned to accept the situation. Arianne has become quite fond of him, but always treats him as a pet, and nothing more. Arianne gradually regained her health in Wonderland and is now a perfect image of normality. As for me, well, you can imagine what I did after starving my ass off --literally!-- in the homeless encampment. After three months the dresses in my closet fit perfectly again. I am fortunate that Arianne is the opposite of Hatter and fancies me being my old size again.
My battle with the Secret Service Agents in the White House lobby ended up on YouTube and sparked a debate within Congress about the legality of labeling someone a "terrorist" and just carting him/her off to Guantanamo without a trial or even specific charge of a crime. Quite a few people argued that my actions had been legitimate self-defense as the video made clear that I had been hit twice by gunfire before I began chopping hands off. I had never seen myself under the influence of rage potion before --not even a glimpse in a mirror-- and was utterly repulsed by my own appearance. Under the influence of rage potion, I became HellGirl. Ewwwwwwwwwww!
The demonstration by the inhabitants of all the homeless encampments sparked a brief flurry of debate over the "homeless problem" and many pretty speeches and promises, but absolutely nothing happened. Two weeks later another celebrity shaved her head and the homeless were all forgotten.
After two months, Arianne finally had the nerve to ask me why I didn't just flee through a portal when I saw the armed Secret Service agents. I told her that I had already made the decision to fight if anyone pulled a gun on me. I also did not flee because I was afraid that the Secret Service Agents would start mass-arresting homeless people if I fled. I think I did a pretty good job of keeping them busy.
Arianne and I continue to get along flawlessly without ever fighting. The rest of Wonderland has gotten used to the sight of us together and has nicknamed us "the lovebirds". Arianne became one of Hatter's assistants at the water treatment plant and is happier there than she has ever been in a job in the "uptop" world. She has the room next to mine in the same house with Bill and Mr. White, but she always sleeps in bed with me. One night about three months after my return to Wonderland, it was almost time for bed, and Arianne and I were both in pajamas. Arianne was using my iBook and dial-up connection to peruse the news sites on the internet. "Alice! President Bush was found tied up in bed this morning in a blue dress, white apron, and blond wig. You didn't have anything to do with that, did you?"
This story is based on the characters of the video game American McGee's Alice. Electronic Arts (EA) holds the copyrights.