I'm back! *confetti and streamers* School and stuff, you know. Anyway, due to my long absence, I bring you a much longer chapter of goodness! With an interesting plot development, too! Anyway, most everyone who had a story in the Alice in Wonderland book section that had a story to do with the Burton filmed moved to the aptly named Alice in Wonderland, 2010 section, sooo...I gave in and conformed to it. Ah well. I'd like feedback, since I haven't heard from you lovely people in a while. Suggestions and comments are always welcomed.

I own nothing of Alice in Wonderland.

it was black, black everywhere. the sky, the ground, the plants. her hands were translucent and whispy they moved too slowly perhaps. a blur behind them as they moved. so cold. ice water in her veins. and that smell, that smell lingered and turned the ground black and infertile. a haze a smoke seemed to have snaked around her feet, eating at her flesh. a thousand little bugs burrowing into her skin, crawling on her nerves and chewing the lining of her organs. her throat felt raw, bloodied, unable to make a sound. alice's eyes looked around but there was nothing. somewhat low, soft at first. louder, and louder, and louder that horrid shriek. blinding pain rippling. she held her hands on her ears. the sound went straight through, almost echoing off each muscle fiber and shred of white bone. drowning in her own body, any air was blocked from her lungs. thoseeyeswere

She gasped for breath. Alice's heart was probably beating roughly a thousand times per minute, creating a dull pain in her chest. Immediately she wrapped her arms around the afflicted area, letting out a soft whimper. Apparently the back of her head also was throbbing, as if a metal pole hit her there squarely. Were her feet touching the ground? No…

A voice, maybe? Someone was speaking to her. It was barely distinguishable, as if someone tried talking from across the room during a particularly noisy party. Greedily she drew in another large breath of oxygen. The agony lessened, if only somewhat.

Her eyes struggled to open; things had still been black. Now, though, it was incredibly bright. Alice whimpered, only managing to have her eyes open a sliver. Orange. Lots of it, in fact. Her head was pounding with what would more than likely be a massive migraine. She groaned at the thought of it. If only he would be the slightest bit more quiet and subdued…

"Alice? Alice?" A hand started patting her cheek, an attempt to maybe have her open her eyes. "Please wake up, Alice…" Desperation snuck into his voice, she noticed. It frightened her.

Another groan came from her lips. It shocked her at what an effort it was to simply open her eyes. The sun was unrelenting with how absurdly bright it was. If she hadn't been raised to be a lady she surely would've cursed like a lower-class working woman. Maybe if she tried speaking instead he would quiet down, if only just a little (she prayed)…

"Hatter, what's going on…?" Her throat was also thoroughly sore now, she noticed. Would it ever end? Hopefully he had sufficient hearing and caught her meek utterance.

A sigh of relief. "Oh, I'm so glad you've awakened! You were screaming dreadfully in your sleep, and you had even stopped breathing." A short pause. "Are you quite all right?"

Her body was slowly but surely becoming more aware to her surroundings. She was most certainly not on a floor, lying down, but she was warm. In fact, the Hatter sounded relatively close to her person. Lifting a limp arm, she moved it around blindly to find some sort of surface. Instead of something hard and sturdy, cloth met her fingers. Her left eye opened just a crack.

Large green eyes peered down at her curiously. "Alice?"

Her face was surely going through the entire spectrum of red by this point. She swallowed, finding the action to be laborious as well. He, however, paid little notice and still waited for a proper answer. Both bushy eyebrows were at a peculiar angle.

"Yes?" she mumbled.

"Oh, thank heavens!" A large grin came across his face. "You strange girl, you were walking over towards our piles of doodads, and suddenly…you were on the floor! I scarcely caught you in time; you make have hurt your noggin." He eyed the said body part strangely. "Hm, well… Can you stand? Well, you're not a bother, Alice. Not at the slightest! In fact it wouldn't bother me at all, seeing as though we're but a stone's throw away from the Duchess's, at long last!"

She was the one to eye him for a moment. Had he said all of that in a single breath? But more importantly, had he said that they were almost at the Duchess's? With some effort she turned her body a bit, trapped in his arms, to view the direction in which the Hatter was facing. Not too far off the wooded path there sat a little thatched-roof cottage with billowing, black smoke. Her blue eyes widened.

"Oh, dear lord…" she whimpered. Alice turned to face the Hatter again. "Is that cottage on fire?"

He focused his gaze to the little abode in the distance, his nose crinkled in concentration. The Hatter chuckled lightly. "Silly Alice. That's just the plethora of pepper which the Duchess is so fond of. I assure you that you'll soon be able to validate this for yourself."

Sighing, she tried to feel if her legs were functional at all. Some muscles twitched and her toes wiggled, seeing as though she was barefoot now. Her shoes would surely dwarf her now, she thought. Maybe, just maybe she could manage to stand… He was able to take the hint, seeing as though her hands pushed away from his chest, and he set her down cautiously. Anxiety painted his face.

Well, she was standing. Alice drew in a breath, taking a tentative step forward. She wobbled slightly with her arms moving about in an attempt to find balance. The ground wasn't about to be acquainted with her face anytime soon, she concluded. With a pounding head and partially-focused vision, Alice resumed her wobbly steps with a close-by Hatter. He was exceedingly jumpy, seeming to think every movement she made would end in her toppling over. She frowned in annoyance.

"I'm perfectly capable of taking care of myself, you know."

"Alice…" She waited for a comment to make her even more snappish, but it never came. He continued on, "What did you dream about? I imagine it was fairly frightening…"

Oh. That. As soon as she had regained consciousness, that had been forced far, far back into her thoughts. She struggled to bring back images of what she had seen then, whatever they were, but ceased her attempts very quickly. Her whole body shivered at the memory of the cold. What was the reason for such a tormenting vision? She certainly had had her fair share of bad or confusing dreams, which had certainly been her childhood ones of Wonderland, yet… Never, ever had they been of such a nefarious nature. Never had she felt as if she was drowning within her own skin.

"I don't remember," she replied abruptly. "It was probably something silly."

"Are you quite sure…?" he quietly ventured. The Hatter was becoming quite fearful of this new Alice. She was grumpy.


"Oh. Okay."

And so continued the longest, short walk to the little cottage before them. The tension was almost thick enough to cut with a knife and serve with bread. Or biscuits. Oh, how her stomach ached again! It was pathetic, really, at how accustomed she had become to eating at least three proper meals a day, all at the same specified times. All were mandatory, her tummy was never empty. She sighed, but tried not to dwell on the clawing inside of her. Surely the place would have some food, wouldn't it? Everyone was there, waiting for her, and surely they had something there to survive off of… Hopefully something better than bloody scones and tea. They were delightfully delicious, but hardly filling. She needed something satisfying, like a nice roast ham glazed with honey…

That day-dream certainly was short lived, though. Pepper assaulted her nose as soon as they were a mere five minutes from the place. Her frame was wracked with sneezes, tears forming at the corners of her eyes. She turned to see if the Hatter was afflicted as she was, but he held a kerchief to his nose. His watery eyes looked to her with amusement.

"Care for one, Alice?" came the muffled inquiry.

Unable to even speak with such an inhalation – she shuddered at being inside – she nodded her head with some difficulty. He quickly procured another from his person. She greedily snatched it and put it to her nose and mouth, inhaling the cleaner air. How revolting it already was!

Both of them with a profuse amount of tears running down their cheeks neared the path to the cottage's doorway. That was when Alice could acutely hear one of the home's occupants: the baby. And what a horribly grating sound it was. She clenched her teeth, as the wails certainly weren't beneficial to her torturous migraine. This house would kill her before any army could even find her whereabouts, and she hadn't even stepped foot in the door.

The Hatter bounded over to the wooden door which at the moment was towering over the duo. Despite the slim chance of him being heard over the cries of the infant, he banged forcefully on the door. Alice looked to the side at the bushes in the Duchess's garden. Rather than roses, which she had come accustomed to when at Underland's royalties' homes, there grew fragrant white Gardenias. They baffled her, really. Somehow they had avoided being coated in the pepper that spewed from the chimney and windows. Also, how in the blazes could they be smelled over the stench of that overpowering black spice? They certainly were something.

Eyes looked at her from in those bushes, terribly yellow. Her breath hitched in her throat. And then, just like that, the eyes were no more. Gone. Well, she was just being ridiculous. Alice hadn't gotten much sleep, after all, so her mind was just playing tricks on her… Suddenly, though, the gardenias weren't quite as inviting as they had been seconds ago. She turned back to look at the Hatter's efforts.

He wiped his forehead which had accumulated some sweat. Just as his fist was about to make contact with the wood of the door once more, it opened swiftly and left him stumbling. There had been quite a bit of momentum from that swing. Her eyes traveled upward to the figure in the doorway.

"Why, if it isn't Alice. You are the Alice this time again, aren't you?" a languid voice asked.

That was certainly enough to drastically change her mood.

"Chess?" she said, completely bewildered. There above her floated the blue-striped, grinning feline. He was enormous! Or rather, she was still outstandingly small. Oh, how she hoped there was some growing cake somewhere in the cottage…

"You still haven't answered my question, you strange girl." He rested on his paws, looking to her with a twinge of amusement.

The Hatter finally stepped before her, staring down the monstrous cat. "You know perfectly well that she's Alice! I made sure of it! If she weren't, would I even be gracing you with my presence, you irritable alley cat!"

"Hmph." He crossed his arms. "Very well. Excellent to see that you're both intact. We scarcely thought either of you would manage the journey, and yet here you are."

The Hatter scowled. "You sound as if you were expecting a lack of guests."

The Cheshire Cat sighed, his grin falling visibly. "Even an evening stroll has its risks nowadays, Tarrant, and you should be fully aware of this. I don't imagine that your trip was without incident."

An annoyed growl came from the Hatter, his fists at his sides. His eyes were becoming just slightly darker. "Just let us in already, before I resort to calling you names which our dear Alice shouldn't bear witness to."

The cat merely rolled his eyes. "Very well. The others will be pleased to see you, I'm sure."

The wails only continued to be more and more grating. Chess and the Hatter had ceased their stare-down, a rather peeved Hatter storming off to some corner of the room in search of something or another. A cloud of pepper floated above her which only encouraged the blonde to keep the kerchief tightly pressed against her face. The wood floor was horribly dingy with dirt and, you guessed it, pepper. Where were the rest of them, anyway?

A small white figure attached itself to her body within seconds. She could only utter a squeak of surprise as she was swirled around, her hair whipping in her face. A more hidden, primal part of her kind of wanted to fatally wound whoever was failing to help her pained body. The feeling was short lived, though, as she soon found the face of the hugger. Dearest Mallymkun.

"Oh, Alice! You're back! You're back!" she squealed in delight. "Thackary, Nivens, you dolts, do get in here! Alice has returned!"

Alice gratefully nibbled on the familiar pastry. Sitting in a cozy little bedroom she had her things strewn about on the floor. True to his word, the Hatter was able to get their things back. More importantly, she would have decent, though a bit dirty, clothes. The rabbit and the hare eagerly assisted the tiny man, seeing as though the pepper and the screams did little to help their heightened senses. That made her grateful, at least. She didn't endure as much as those poor creatures did. Sure enough she began to feel her whole body tingle as the bit of cake took effect.

The privacy of a room to herself was quickly appreciated. Once she sprung up to what she deemed her "normal" size, what she had been wearing was altogether very, very indecent. She blushed at the thought of eating the cake in front of the others. Hurriedly the clothes she had laid out were thrown on over her head.

The cottage was indeed unbearably tiny. She had barely gotten a glance of the Duchess, however, seeing as though the woman was immersed in a thick cloud of pepper. For some reason or another they had insisted that Alice was to be given the spare room, though the Duchess's seemed to be strictly off-limits. It was altogether plain, really. A simple reddish bedspread and white sheets, a square mirror, a nightstand, and a very empty closet. Cobwebs hung in the corners, the spiders long gone. Goodness, even those dreadful insects couldn't bear to live in the house! If that didn't speak volumes, she didn't know what did. But, just as the Hatter had said…who would even have the slightest inclination to look for them in a place such as this, as vile as it was? If they wanted safety, they had to rough it.

Well, dinner would be soon. Mallymkun had announced it shortly before Alice had departed to change. Her stomach gurgled in anticipation. She dearly hoped whatever it was that it was edible… The last decent meal she'd consumed was probably on the ship, and she no longer had any recollection of how long ago that had been. Too long, in any case.

She opened the door to go back into the main room of the cottage, a living room, kitchen, and dining room all in one. That horrible smell assaulted her nose almost instantly. With any luck her nose would soon learn how to just shut down whenever in the residence. Alice wiped the moisture from her eyes, trying to look around and find the others. A furry paw grabbed her wrist and led her through the obstruction.

Now it seemed she was sitting in a sturdy wooden chair. Her eyes were still useless, though. Very cautiously her hands moved around, finding the table top and searching for a plate or maybe silverware of some sort. Ah, a spoon! Now she was getting somewhere.

"Ack! Not again!" The March Hare's voice groaned. "If we have this bloody stew one more night…"

"Hush!" Someone more timid. Was it the White Rabbit? "Be thankful that the Duchess's cook was gracious enough to make this for us! Heaven knows how dangerous going out would be…"


Her non-spoon-holding hand started to investigate her portion of the table further. Sure enough, there was a warm bowl before her as well. Undoubtedly it was the stew they were speaking of. Surely the Hare exaggerated, being fonder of his own cooking?

"Do start eating, Alice," she could hear Mallymkun say to her right. "They argue quite frequently now. It's not so bad…" Well, that sounded promising. Alice swallowed before bringing a spoonful to her mouth.

Oh, how unbelievably vile it was! It was if someone had given her a bowl of ground pepper and poured a couple drops of hot water in it and nothing more! Her mouth burned terribly and her stomach churned. Even though it was against all of her reasoning, she forced more spoonfuls down her throat to remedy her empty stomach. She was going to eat something, whether it killed her or not…which didn't seem too far-fetched at all now.

"Alice?" the Dormouse ventured timidly. The young woman clutched her stomach in pain.

Things were a bit fuzzy after that particular moment. Had she even sat at that table for five minutes? How humiliatingly pathetic! Dazed, she now lied in the bed she had been given upon arriving at the cottage. It didn't feel as though any of the stew had managed to stay there in her stomach. Alice sighed heavily. She had probably made a mess all over the woman's floor… Would she be dreadfully offended?

She ached all over. Who had brought her here? In fact, had the Hatter even been present at the table? There had been no indication that he was…or wasn't. His voice had been absent, after all. She hated being such a bother.

Before she even knew it she was asleep again.

trapped again. her feet were soundly planted to the misty ground that almost wrapped around her ankles like snakes. that dread filled her, stabbing her in the heart mercilessly. alice's searched around madly. not alone. glowing green eyes floated behind the haze a few feet away or perhaps several miles. her hand reached out, and out. nothing met her groping fingers, the eyes started to fade. Her heart traveled up to her throat, ba-bump, ba-bump, pounding and pounding and pounding the lining of her throat allowed no sound. she felt like dying.

the ground shifted below. blue eyes looked down nothing there seemingly. a tug at her foot, it was so cold. fissures in the earth below her and all around there was no place to flee. a dark clawed hand, transparent like a specter, firmly held her leg and pulled down. more hands, more claws, piercing her skin. appendages, suffocating, grimy and slick and filled with something horrid. icy to the bone. green eyes watched from above, unblinking. no. ye-

Sweat coated her body, her clothes a bit soaked. Immediately she drew the blankets up around her securely, her teeth chattering. Shallow little breaths were all she could manage and her heart was beating like mad again. The room was dark, but it wasn't due to any pepper clouds. A tiny little window revealed a waning moon and a scant amount of stars. It was deathly silent.

One thing was absolutely certain. She would not, could not, absolutely refused to try to get more rest. Memories of when she slept were fleeting, but when she would grasp one it burned and she had to release it at once. Whatever they were, she had no desire for them. Why on earth was she experiencing these horrid dreams in the first place?

Shakily her feet met the grimy floor. Her boots patiently sat there by her bed and she pulled them on, hardly bothering with completely lacing them. She wasn't going to venture off somewhere, but her little room felt so… Well, whatever it was, it wasn't a good feeling. It wasn't safe as a bedroom should be.

The floorboards creaked painfully. This could only be observed with the baby sound asleep. Off in a corner of the main room she spied a shadowed cradle. Several figures lounged about on furniture and the floor, but nowhere could she see any orange. Slightly troubled, Alice tip-toed towards the front door. With the cook resting, that dreaded pepper cloud failed to obscure her vision. Finally she was blessed with good fortune!

"And where might you be going, young miss?" a gravely female voice said from behind. Alice froze. "Oh, don't make a fuss. You can look at me, child."

Very, very slowly and deliberately Alice followed orders and turned to face the woman. There stood in the darkness of the cottage a stout, large-headed old lady with a curious frown on her face. Her nose was certainly something to behold and a large bun of grey hair sat upon the dome of her head. Perhaps she had some relation with the queens? Alice quickly diverted her gaze, realizing that she had been staring most rudely.

"Answer my question, if you would."

How stupid! She'd completely forgotten that she'd been asked a question by the person giving her lodging. Embarrassment brought a soft wave of pink to her face. "Oh, I'm dreadfully sorry," she said quietly, hoping not to cause the others to stir from their sleep, "I'm just a bit restless and I thought I'd get some fresh air…"

Well, that was certainly smooth. Alice gulped, hoping she didn't offend the woman. Had she been in anyone else's home, she would have said the same, but in this case… She definitely should have shut up sooner. There was a short pause.

"Very well. You're this Alice girl I've heard of, correct?" The comment seemed to have been unnoticed or simply brushed off. She mentally sighed in relief.

"Yes, my Duchess."

The dark eyes of the aristocrat eyed her with scrutiny. "Hmm… I do hope you can do what they say that you are capable of. But I digress. Don't go out too far. I don't know exactly where Tarrant wandered off and without his supervision… Well, my dear, things are not entirely certain anymore."

Before Alice could even reply to such a comment, the woman had turned away and was attending to the sleeping babe. Not wishing to linger in the strange cottage any longer, Alice stepped outside into the cool night. The door closed without so much as a squeak. Her shoulders finally relaxed without the pressure of potentially waking the others.

Though the lingering smell of pepper remained, the gardenias were far more powerful at night. The bush made her slightly uneasy so Alice traveled elsewhere in the Duchess's property. There were petunias, snapdragons, geraniums, irises…and none of them animate! That was what seemed very strange indeed. In all of her past experiences she had had conversations with the flora of Underland, but this time she was unable to come upon a single chatty flower! Reluctantly she picked a tiny daffodil and carried it with her. It had only a yellow center with white surrounding it.

The back of the property was rather plain. Only a few plants grew here and none of them were flowering at all. However, there sat in the middle a worn wooden bench. Had the windows of the house displayed the back lawn, she would have felt rather self-conscious lounging upon it. However, this particular side of the cottage had none at all. Sighing, she took and seat and rubbed her weary eyes.

Where was the Hatter, anyway? Had he been absent at dinner? She had never been able to tell. There was so much smoke and she had felt positively awful. Not to mention when she had gotten sick who knows where… She was pleased that that incident hadn't been brought up by the Duchess. He had carried her all the way from the stables to the cottage, and after that… Her memories were flighty then. In fact, her migraine was threatening a round two. Maybe it was best not to dwell on that subject. He'd return soon, surely… After all, he'd be one to know about all the dangers lurking about. He wasn't that foolish, surely.


Alice nearly jumped out of her skin, letting out a frightened yelp. Her large blue eyes looked around frantically for whoever had come up on her unawares. There were so many shadows.

"It's only me, Alice," the voice said again, closer this time. Hands were placed upon her shoulders, causing her to flinch at the contact. Lifting her gaze she found a familiar set of green eyes. "Surely after that thing the Duchess called 'dinner' you can't be very satisfied."

She breathed a heavy sigh of relief. "You shouldn't creep up to me like that, Hatter!" Her voice was sharp, but with a hushed annoyance. "I thought you were… Oh, I don't know!"

Confused, he sat down beside her. He rummaged around in his jacket and quickly procured a familiar looking jar. It shone in the faint light that was provided by the partial moon and made her mouth water. She had completely forgotten about that!

"If you can't stomach this, then there definitely is something dreadfully wrong with you, Alice," he said, almost sternly.

At once she began to open the glass jar to get to its delicious contents. Her stomach groaned in excitement. The clasp came open with a soft sound and the suction seal released within mere seconds. Instead of bothering with any kind of silverware Alice simply tilted the jar to let some of the contents slide down into her mouth. Oh, it was still just as sweet! Some of the juice threatened to run down her chin.

"Goodness, you certainly were hungry. If I brought you an entire moose, I'm sure you'd be able to consume the entire thing without even batting an eye!" he stated, almost in pure wonder.

Now rather self-conscious, she lowered the jar and actually chewed some of the fruit in her mouth, opposed to swallowing them whole like a snake. The thought made her shiver. The Hatter, seeming to take this as a sign that she was cold, slid over closer to place an arm over her mostly-bare shoulders and arms. She nearly choked on the plum going down her throat.

"You need a proper jacket or coat, Alice," he remarked, seeming not to notice her reaction. The Hatter suddenly furrowed his eyebrows. "Why is it that you aren't asleep in your bed?"

Her meek voice replied, "I couldn't sleep…"

"How unfortunate! Well, I'll accompany you, then. It's a rather nice night, save the chill…"

She sighed in relief. Her muscles gradually were able to relax and she soaked in the man's perpetual warmth. Both stayed silent for a while longer.

Ragged, uneven labored breaths. Her movements were stiff on the loose soil below her shoes, now in tatters along with her dress. The woman's curled hair hung limply all about her pale features which were contorted in pain. She held a broken arm close to her, wincing occasionally. Her body was bathed in red.