Author's Note: This is a sequel to Tim Burton's Alice in Wonderland. I do not own the characters, that would be either Lewis Carroll or Tim Burton, take your pick. However, some of the poetry and rhymes are mine.
"Chessur! I know you're there, Ches, now come out!" Mallymkun hissed.
The Cheshire Cat lazily materialized above the Dormouse.
"Well, well, now someone seems to be in a touchy mood," he said, displaying his signature grin.
"This isn't the time to joke, Chessur," said the impatient Dormouse. "It's about Tarrant—I mean Hatter. He's been behaving… oddly."
The Cat cocked his head at the Dormouse. "Well, he is mad, as I'm sure we've all acknowledged at some point."
Mallymkun shook her head. "It's not that. It's odder than usual. Ever since the White Queen summoned him he's hardly said anything that makes sense, not even to me or Thackery. He won't tell us what she said to him. Last night I saw him stumbling around outside in the dark, trying to make hats out of stones and tree bark!"
Chessur laughed, rolling over in the air.
"I'm serious, Chessur," Mallymkun said. "Something's wrong. I know it."
"All right," said the Cat nonchalantly. "Something's wrong, and you know it. Now what are you going to do about it?"
The Dormouse sighed, sitting down on a nearby rock. "That's just it. I don't know. No one's seen Absolem for a month now, and it's useless trying to talk to anyone else around here about it. "
The Cheshire Cat thought for a moment, evaporating and materializing on the ground in front of the Dormouse.
"You could just drop, you know," Mallymkun pointed out.
"But evaporating is so much more fun!" said the Cat. "Tell you what. If it makes you feel better, I'll talk to Hatter; try to get into his head, strange place that it is."
"Thank you, Chessur," Mallymkun said as the Cat disappeared once again.
The Mad Hatter was pacing back and forth in his bedroom when Chessur found him.
"Good evening, Hatter," said the Cat, appearing in the air at head-height. Hatter nodded slightly, but gave no other sign that he'd noticed the Cat.
"Things have been pretty quiet since the Red Queen was banished, haven't they?" Chessur said, staying in front of Hatter despite his pacing. "I sometimes get bored. Danger helps make life interesting, does it not?"
Hatter stopped. "What do you want, Chessur?" he said in a flat voice.
"Who said I wanted anything?" the Cat replied. "It could be that I just felt like a chat and noticed that you were up."
Hatter walked over to the window and stared out of it at the sky. "Twinkle, twinkle, little bat," he sang. "How I wonder where you're at."
"A lovely tune," Chessur commented, watching Hatter carefully.
"Once a lifetime, then again, never sometimes, first a when," Tarrant recited as though from memory. "Lift up high and crush below, shroud in darkness, brightest glow." He seemed to have completely forgotten the Cat. "Unify and drive away, will arise another day."
He's mad, but he's not crazy, thought the Cat. Mallymkun's right. Something's wrong.
"See here, Tarrant, I—" he began.
"GONE!" the Hatter shouted suddenly, lashing out at Chessur, who evaporated to avoid the blow. He materialized again a few feet away.
"ALL GONE!" Tarrant shouted again, upending a bookshelf. "HER FAULT! SHE'LL PAY! THEY'LL BOTH PAY! EVERYONE WILL PAY!"
The Cheshire Cat made his exit, appearing again next to Mallymkun.
"Well?" she asked.
"I don't know," admitted the Cat. "But you're right. Something is wrong with Tarrant."
"What do we do?" asked the nervous Dormouse. "Who do we go to?"
Suddenly the answer hit the Cat, and he grinned even wider than usual.
"Alice," he said.
The Dormouse, who had been so open one moment, shut tight again the next. "No. Not her."
"Typical. You all complain that I never help anyone, but when I try to it is not accepted." Chessur sighed. "Come on, Mallymkun. Like you said, there's no one around here to go to. Alice is the only Overland person to ever come here, and she's Tarrant's friend. She's our best bet."
Mallymkun thought for a few moments. Eventually worry for Tarrant won over the opposition in her mind, and she nodded.
"Should we send Nivens to fetch her?" Chessur suggested.
"No need to pull anyone else into this until it's completely necessary," said the Dormouse. "I'll go."
"Fairfarren, Mallymkun," the Cat called after the Dormouse as she ran off, using the Resistance's Outlandish word for farewell.
Author's Note: In case you were wondering: Thackery is the March Hare and Nivens is the White Rabbit. Outlandish is the language the Underland Resistance used as a code when the Red Queen was in power. It's in the original screenplay but didn't completely end up in the movie.