Author's Note: My very very very first ever 1st person story! W00t! It's not mushy or fluffy, in fact it's a bit rude at times, but still sweet. So I hope you enoy my POV on what Hatter's POV would look like when thinking about his first meeting with Alice.
Disclaimer: Nothing is mine! None of the dialog is mine at all actually so don't freak out… I just added the stuffy stuff around it :D
Lying as an Art Form
Oysters don't escape. That was one thing the government had, the fact that oysters where easily tricked and weak. A few mind games, a dash of toxic chemicals, and the oyster's inherent curiosity would insure that the Queen's operation worked seamlessly.
I realized this, the air-tightness of the whole scheme, and that was why I played both fields. I couldn't win; all I could hope to do was help those that were braver than me, those who fought the un-fightable. I perfected my cover, I'd often keep a glass of tea on my desk that had been dyed the color of Obsession, but I never once let the real stuff touch my tea-drinking lips. It was inhumane to steal the oysters when they were defenseless, I knew it, but I could do nothing to prevent it.
Nothing, until that disgusting rat of man found the girl. I saw her first through a mirror on my desk. She was clearly an oyster, pearl-white skin and emotions so clearly etched across her face it was staggering, Wonderlanders aren't capable of such intense conveying of emotion. The largest question on my mind was what state she was in. If the Queen had gotten to her she was ruined, a shucked oyster. But if she had escaped before she was altered she could be extremely valuable… valuable and scared. I wondered what an oyster must think of a place like this. I'd never been to wherever they came from, but I was sure it must be completely different, and as it turns out I was right.
"Would you like a cup of tea?" I called casually to the new comers.
"No thank you. Who are you?"
"A friend, I hope." I said honestly, swiveling around. This oyster was bold, intriguing. "I run the tea shop."
"See?" Ratty untied a bandana from around her arm. The cloth was a strange old dirty thing, it had no place on such a clean arm. The ugly green mark proved that she was an oyster, but by then I didn't really need convincing, all I needed was answers.
"How'd you break out of the scarab?"
"What the beetle thing?"
"Well I used my hairpin and-"
"Huh. As you can see I'm drenched." Indeed she was, I could hardly imagine someone so slight swimming all the way from the middle of the sea… she was strong. "Look, this place… where-what is it?"
"That's a story in a kid's book."
"Does this look like a story to you?"
"It's changed a lot since then."
"Oh, so you're saying that it was real?" I walked up to her quickly with the magnifying glass, an excuse to get up close to something so exotic.
"You oysters don't know how to find us so-excuse me-you tell yourselves we don't exist and quite frankly… we'd like to keep it that way." Her arm was still damp and freezing cold.
"Why am I an oyster? Wh-this?" Eh, she really didn't know anything.
"That's no' gonna come off. Sorry!" Still, ignorance was fun to play with. I could have a bit of laugh. "Only people from your world turn green when they're by the light. It's the suit's way of branding their catch and they call you oysters because of the shinny little pearls that you all carry inside."
"What do you mean, pearls?"
"She's Alice," Ratty interjected, pointing to her with a disgusting hand, "Tell him who you are!"
"Really?" This'll be a laugh I thought. The rat believed she was the legendary little girl. She was quite clearly not. The stories I had heard of Alice were of her confused innocence, her recklessness and other obscure qualities. This Alice acted impulsively, more like a Wonderlander than any oyster I'd heard of (I hardly ever came in contact with oysters), but unlike the Wonderlanders I noticed that she was also level-headed.
"Ratty here," Reluctantly, I wrapped an arm around the flea-infested thing. "thinks you're Alice. Of legend."
"The last-um" I inspected my hand, positive that he could've given me some disease "the last time a girl called Alice came here, from your world, she brought down a whole house of cards. Oh yeah." This Alice was brave, she obviously didn't understand a word I said yet she never flinched. "Made quite an impression. Although it was 150 years ago-it can't be the same girl, oysters don't even live that long."
"I still want a good price." Ha! I was not going to pay for some random oyster, even if she was beautiful.
"Hey, wait a minute! I am not for sale." I stopped her, maybe I wouldn't have to pay to get her out of harms way. An idea formed. I made eye contact with the girl now, she'd be safer with me anyway. This was an easy way to get Ratty out of the picture. I strode towards my stash, the vermin followed.
"Not on the grass." First I grabbed a blue bottle of Pity, but no, the rat wasn't even worthy of that cheap stuff. With hardly an ounce of remorse I picked up the deep pink bottle. "Here we are!" putting on a show-man act I edged the lie with elaboration.
"Pink nectar. Filled with the thrill of human excitement. 50 oysters were drained of every last drop of hullabaloo so that you, Ratty, could taste what it feels like to win just once." Of course, the excitement of receiving the bottle was enough to put the idea in his mind. Excitement was a high-market, a lot was manufactured and even more was sold. But the pink liquid was just that- pink liquid. "Warning! Don't take it on an empty stomach and only one tiny drop at a time or the experience might burst your shriveled up little heart. Got it?" Nice touch.
"Got it." He was already more excited than he had ever been in his long, dreary life, it would have to do.
"Good. Go." He scurried off, clutching the bottle like the squirrels used to clutch acorns (of course, I hadn't actually observed a squirrel for over 200 years, so this was a distant and foggy memory). The hand that had come in contact with Ratty's jacket started to itch. Unwillingly, I sniffed it.
"He really smells…"
"Oysters were drained? What do you mean drained?" There went that curiosity with a dash of fear now. Just being in the room with it was enough. Having never tasted any extracts I was over aware of the oyster girl's emotions. I loved it! The curiosity, not the fear. The fear was arduous and heavy, so I changed the subject, hoping to calm her.
"Ratty tells me you're looking for someone."
"His name is Jack Chase. He was taken by a man with a white rabbit on his lapel." So Alice was an expert at this escape thing.
"I see. Hm." I took a sip of tea. It was cold now, but it didn't really matter, I barely tasted it. "The White Rabbit is an organization controlled by the suits. They travel back and forth, through the looking glass and… banish people from your world to ours."
"Use?" Fear, there it was again. So much explaining to do-I believe that by that point I gave up on the tea.
"Did I say 'use'? I-slip of the tongue, they're fine. You know, they keep 'em… alive and… moderately happy."
"How do I get to this casino?"
"That's the thing! You don't. Way too dangerous." It was incredible that a little oyster wanted to go rescue her boyfriend from the casino, something even I would never attempt. Then there was her face, so serious that I knew if I didn't help her she would get someone else to. "But, I know some people who know some… well other people, if you know what I mean. It's one of the privileges of running a tea shop." I popped the "p" right in her face, wanting to feel how someone so composed would react, plus I liked being close to her, why shouldn't I? I had just bought her.
Alice's reaction was priceless, I started to laugh but that just made her stare. "Lighten up." Such gravity was out of place in Wonderland. Alice needed to learn that as soon as possible if she wanted to survive. People would play with her wildly logical and emotional mind if she didn't. Of course, she was probably not in her best shape, being all dripping wet. I had jackets to spare, might as well keep her happy.
"Tada!" I threw open the glass doors to the wardrobe, picking out something thick and dry, not being a fashionista I didn't even realize how it would clash until she pointed it out much later in one of her rare moments of levity. "You should wear this." I smiled, praying that she'd eventually warm up to my presence since I wasn't going to leave her. "It'll cover the glow… and stop you from catching a cold."
"I have a little money." Money! That was the last thing I wanted from her, I hadn't even thought about it. "But I understand you don't use that here."
"Pieces of paper? Pointless."
"Then why would you help me?"
"Do I need a reason to help a pretty girl in a very wet dress?" She wheeled on me. As if me, a benevolent teashop owner, would offend her on purpose! "Oh I see… you don't trust me. Fine! I am genuinely hurt. You know why they call me Hatter?"
"Because you wear a hat?" That was indeed the logical answer of course, but it was wrong. As I've mentioned logic has no place in Wonderland. Still it made me stumble, it was such an obvious and innocent answer.
" No…" I almost wanted to agree with her just to get her to relax, "because I'm always there when they 'pass the hat', so to speak. Philanthropy, generosity, I mean you can call it what you will it's who I am! And right now, looking at you there there's nothing I want more than to help you find…"
"Jack! And return you back to your charming world of children's stories." Ok, so I was exaggerating a bit, but I always do, I'm theatrical.
"I don't believe you." Her world must been teeming with conmen and selfish pigs, I thought. But I'd play her game, thinking quickly I made up a bit of hogwash that she would believe.
"I know what you're thinking. If I'm the frying pan than that out there-" I pointed "is the fire. I'll be square with you. I know people who like to help your kind. And if every once in awhile I scratch their back…"
"They'll scratch yours."
"Precisely" This Alice was so sultry! "Lot 'a scratching!" And off she walked… yet another lie, and this one was at personal loss to me, something I tried to avoid at all costs. But I couldn't just send her off all wet and alone. She'd get killed or captured in a second and I couldn't let that happen. She evoked a pity in me that I enjoyed, an organic pity… not like the light-blue bottled brand.
"Do try to keep up." I held the door for her, not looking in her direction any longer. He couldn't look into the eyes of someone he'd just lied to.
Author's Note: If you like, review! I just may continue ;D