Quick note before we begin; I know that Wonderland is really Underland, but for my own sake and since Wonderland has such a nicer ring to it I will always refer to it as just that: Wonderland.
Second Note: Yes, this story was posted on here earlier(and deleted due to a careless mistake of my own) please, if you don't mind, re-add this repost to your favorites and such. No more stupid mistakes, I promise.
Time was an odd thing in Wonderland. Time could be like a dream.
Sometimes it blazed past you in such an awful hurry that it left your head spinning (but still attached) others it seemed to slow down to a creep, and still sometimes more it stopped flowing all together.
To say you could rely on time in Wonderland would be lying. Time came and went as it pleased and held no real weight despite what The White Rabbit might tell you.
From what he had heard about the mysterious Otherland, Time there was far more reliable, and well, timely. What a novel idea, Hatter had often thought to himself. Time that was actually consistent. No longer being stuck in a perpetual Tea Party due to Time's stubbornness to appear or being rushed through a reunion with a dear friend because Time felt things weren't moving quite fast enough.
"How long has it been, Hare?" he asks his stark raving mad friend one day as they actually get around to washing a few teacups.
The wild eyed hare scratched the back of his head and closed one blood shot red eye in deep thought. After what seemed like an eternity, "Since what?"
Hatter sighed slightly. "Since Alice left."
"The girl in the blue?"
"I have no idea who you are talking about."
Like a mad man The March Hare continued. "Alice? Who is Alice? I dare say we should invite her for tea! Yes, tea. Invite Miss Alice for tea! Tea, tea, tea! Do invite her. But," he sucked in his breath in alarm, "there is never enough cups! Never ever!" he carelessly threw a perfectly good and clean cup over his shoulder. The Hatter nor The Hare flinched as the cup shattered against the wall.
"You know Time works differently in her ludicrous world, Hatter!" A squeaky voice caught The Hatter's attention. Mallymkun, the tiny Dormouse was fully clothed, and giving herself a bath in the sudsy dish water. Her wet ears dropped as she scrubbed her little paws.
"I'm fully aware of that." Hatter added haughtily. "We both know that, don't we Hare?" he called over to his best mate who was still so deep in a rant about tea that his acute ears didn't even hear Hatter's question.
"People die in the Otherland," the white mouse spoke as she climbed out of her makeshift bath feeling rather proud of herself for knowing so much about Alice's world.
"People die here too, Mally."
"No, no, no," the tiny thing shook her head. "People get old, up there, Hatter."
"Old?" She nodded.
"What does it mean for one to get old?" Hatter's spastic mind wondered over this for several moments.
"I'm not sure..." The Dormouse admitted bashfully. "The Cheshire Cat said it."
"The Cheshire, you say?"
"And he heard it from The White Rabbit."
"Rabbit!" The Mad Hatter clapped happily. How had the old finicky rabbit escaped his thoughts? If there was anyone in Wonderland who could help him answer his questions regarding Alice and The Otherland it would be The White Rabbit.
Unlike The Cheshire Cat, The White Rabbit was fairly easy to find. He was always near royalty, a willing patsy to those on a crown. With The Red Queen out of the picture there was only one royal foot he could be bowing at. The White Queen.
"Fur and whiskers do make this quick!" The albino rabbit properly known as Nivens Mctwisp wasn't too keen on leaving his post to answer a few of the Hatter's silly questions.
"How long has it been?" Hatter began just as he began with The March Hare not that long ago.
"How long has it been since what?"
"Since Alice left."
"Last Frabjous Day," he responded as if it meant something. Hatter nodded in understanding, as if the words meant something to him as well.
"One more thing before you go, what is old? For one to get old I mean."
"It's a silly practice," Rabbit shook his head in dismay. "One the Otherlanders partake in. Quite silly if you ask me."
"What exactly is it?"
"It's when they grow...up, I believe is the term."
"Do they eat the mushrooms?"
"No, not like that." Rabbit twirled his whiskers around his tiny paw trying to think of a good way of explaining this to a person who had never ventured outside the normalcy of their sweet, beloved Wonderland. "Alice was a lot shorter the first time she came by, wasn't she?" The Mad Hatter thought for a moment. Alice's height had always fluctuated so much that it was hard for him to answer this question with certainty.
"She was a child," Rabbit reiterated, and for the first time it dawned on the old hat maker that the Alice he had encountered last was not a child but a woman in the same vein as The White Queen herself. However did she manage that?
Seeing he was starting to understand The White Rabbit continued, "People up there," he pointed to the castle ceiling while clearly meaning the above ground world, "Aren't just...there. They aren't just old or young or fat or skinny or up or down or left or right or, or..." Rabbit was now confusing himself. "What I'm trying to say is that they start out as children and grow up to adults," he pointed at Hatter.
Hatter mused over this for a moment.
And Alice had said her land had consistency. From what The White Rabbit told him it didn't seem like it. "That's rather odd," he admitted.
Rabbit nodded in agreement. "And they die too!" Rabbit said in a hushed voice. For some reason the workaholic rabbit had forgotten all about his duties and was now fully engrossed in gossiping with the Hatter about the strange land.
"People die here too," Hatter corrected again.
"Yes, we do. We die if our heads get cut off. We die if we drown. We die if we eat too much Unbirthday cake, but up there they die, from, well, living."
"You sound insane, Rabbit."
"I've seen it, I swear!" The White Rabbit shouted drawing attention of a few Castle Maids. "Time makes them die no matter how well intact they keep their heads!"
"Time?" Hatter suddenly felt a pang of anger. "This is the cruelest joke I've ever heard of Time pulling."
The White Rabbit shrugged. "Well, Hatter, it's true. Time goes around up there making them get old. Eventually Time kills them."
The hatter nodded. Now he knew what it meant to get old. The concept was still odd to him, but he somewhat understood the gist. He decided he would go home and tell Mally what to get old meant, however, before he could go on his merry, carefree way The White Rabbit spoke up one last time, "Shame really. Time will kill everyone in the Otherland one day. Even our Alice. Hmph, she could already been murdered by Time, the nasty bloke."
So here Hatter found himself yet again asking that question, How long had it been since Alice last left?
In their world it was Last Frabjous Day, but in hers it very well could have been years and years ago, and unlike Wonderland, the Otherland liked to have age accompany Time. Alice could now be as old as The Duchess or even her Cook.
Alice could even be a withered corpse.
Up until that moment Hatter had always considered it a question of when she was going to come back, not if.
On the way home Hatter came across an old, vexing friend that didn't help in the least to rise his spirits.
"You look pale, Tarrant," the silky purring voice called from on high. "Well, pale-er," the mysterious feline corrected as he appeared on a tree branch, his smile as wide as ever.
"I'm worried," he admitted.
"About...?" the cat inclined is head to the right and offered him a sympathetic look that didn't quite suit his humongous, shimmering blue eyes.
"Alice..." The Cheshire Cat disappeared and reappeared beside Hatter, his gray paws firmly on the ground. "Why worry about Alice? She defeated a Jabberwocky," the cat reminded him as if he could ever forget.
"But Time," Hatter began, "Time is out to murder all those in The Otherland."
Like always the cat smiled, but if he knew what The Mad Hatter was talking about or not was anyone's guess. "You should save her then," he offered what he thought Hatter wanted to hear.
"I can't," the red hair man sighed. "She wanted to go back." He vividly remembered her declining his offer to stay in Wonderland.
The Cheshire Cat circled him for a moment, deep in his own little world of thoughts. "Maybe it's our world that is backwards," he finally spoke. "Maybe Time fancies the Otherland more than our own."
"So much so that he kills off his children one at a time?" The Mad Hatter was now looking at the large eyed feline as if it were completely off it's rocker.
"Just a thought," Cheshire defended before returning to his spot on the tree. A moment of uneasy silence passed between the man and the grinning cat. Seeming to understand everything perfectly the feline purred, "You wish you could follow her, don't you? Up to her quaint little World were Time isn't like a foggy dream."
The Mad Hatter left without answering his question.
The Cat wore a small, almost compassionate smile. Hatter had answered even if he didn't know it.
Alice could be dead or she could be alive, or she could simply just be an old woman or exactly the same. Which one was Alice's current fate he didn't exactly know.
He wondered and hoped that she would stumble down the rabbit hole or trip through the looking glass just once more, but understood, in his limited knowledge, that there was a chance she wouldn't.
Just in case, however, he decided to take it upon himself to keep up the abandoned Red Queen's Garden that Alice loved ever so much. If she returned, when she returned (he corrected himself with as much confidence as he could) he would show her the new and improved garden that she was bound to like far more than the old one.
He had painted the flowers blue.
A few more Frabjous Days came and went as Time seeped into Wonderland for shorts spans. The likelihood of Alice's return seemed to grow smaller and smaller.
Still he continued to paint the flowers for her, and Time, in any world, couldn't stop him.
Eh, what do you think? I'm not even sure what I think about this. I thought I could work it out better when it was in my head.
The inspiration did come from a song, Painting Flowers by All Time Low.