It's my first story so please R&R!
"It's bloody cold out here! Can't we go inside?" Dinah complained from atop a large boulder.
"You are free to leave whenever you'd like," Alice replied, looking up only briefly from the novel she was reading. Her mitten-clad hands were clamped tightly over the edges of the book for fear that the bone-chilling wind would rustle the pages and make her lose her spot.
Alice sat on the ground, her back against the bolder that her best friend was standing on. She was dressed for the weather, bundled in her warmest winter coat, a scarf, and matching hat and gloves. Dinah, however, was not prepared for the wind's harsh bite.
"Come on, Allie! You know I can't leave you alone out here!" Dinah grumbled.
"Would you care for some cheese?" Alice asked, not looking up from her book.
"What the hell are you on about?"
"It would go perfectly with your whine."
Dinah was quite accustomed to Alice's odd, old-fashioned sarcasm. In fact, Dinah was quite accustomed to many of the curious things that Alice did, such as sitting outside in the bitter cold reading a book. As her only friend, Dinah felt it was her responsibility to look after Alice.
She jumped down from her perch and tugged on one of her friend's gold locks. "Come, now, Allie. It's time to go."
Alice dog-eared the next page of her book and looked up at Dinah. "Remind me, Dinah. When did the queen die?"
"Really, Allie, we're wasting time-"
"If you knew time as well as I do, you wouldn't talk about wasting it," Alice muttered.
Dinah acknowledged that Alice was perhaps the strangest seventeen-year-old in all of Oxford. Her best friend could have been the most popular girl at their school; she was gorgeous! Curves in all the right places, beautiful blonde hair, not a blemish on her face. Boys who didn't know her would try to work up the nerve to talk to her, and that's where their fantasies ended. Once she opened her mouth, all of her positive characteristics fell by the wayside.
It was hardly her fault that the teenage populate were ignorant followers who only cared about the latest fashion and what they could get to drink at the local bar. They were much too focused on becoming adults, Alice thought, and they were scarcely worth a second glance.
Alice sighed a deep sigh. "Dinah, why don't you go ahead to QL - Jericho and order me some tea. I'll meet you there when I've finished the chapter," she told her friend.
"You're not going to wander off, are you?" Dinah said, looking down at Alice who was quite fond of wandering off into the large wood they were sitting in.
"I won't," she assured Dinah. "I'll be along in a minute."
Dinah left with the swiftness and grace of a housecat as Alice returned to the novel in her hands. Looking down at the pages, she realized that this was the kind of book she would have dreaded to read as a child; there were no pictures at all! Luckily, this no longer bothered Alice. She learned that her imagination would draw out the pictures for her so the books became a sort of film.
I would make an excellent director, Alice thought. And indeed, she would, for the pictures in her head were so vivid that they could have been real.
She read to the end of the chapter and, as promised, stood to leave and meet Dinah at the café. Straightening the short blue dress she wore under her coat and separating the fine fabric from the static cling of her tights, Alice saw something out of the corner of her eye. Something had moved. But when she looked into the nearby bushes, she could see nothing there.
"Oh dear, I shall be late," said a deep voice.
Leaning against a tree nearby was a boy, probably a year or so older than Alice, holding a pocket watch. His hair was tousled and was so blonde it was almost white. He wore the strangest outfit. In the cold weather, all he wore was a pair of tight jeans and a t-shirt with a rabbit on it.
Curious, Alice thought to herself.
She had no sooner thought the word when the boy looked up to meet her eye. Cocking his head to the side, he repeated, "Oh dear."
The boy tucked the watch into the pocket of his pants without breaking eye contact with Alice. Suddenly, he took off running through the forest.
"Wait!" Alice cried, running after him. "Wait! I can help you!"
She must have looked rather peculiar flying through the forest after a boy that she had never seen before, but Alice did not stop to think about that. She was too focused on finding out what he could possibly be late for.
All of the sudden, the boy leapt into a deep hole. So deep, in fact, that Alice could not see the bottom of it. She paused momentarily before jumping in after him, never once considering how in the world she was to get out again.
As she was falling, Alice looked around her to see pictures. Moving pictures, much like the ones she saw in her head as she read her books. Down, down, down she fell and the pictures became more, more, more…odd. A great dragon creature was snapping his jaws at a knight dressed in polished silver. The dragon creature was about to swallow the knight when a young man in a rather large hat threw a tea cup at it. The dragon turned, aware of new prey. Before Alice could yell for the man to run, her bottom hit the ground.
"I should not like to travel in that way again," Alice murmured, rubbing her sore backside.
"But it is quite fun," the boy with the rabbit shirt said. He was leaning on the wall opposite Alice with his arms folded across his chest and was looking at her with a smile.
"I beg your pardon, but who are-"
The boy straightened up and walked over to her. "I'm White," he said, taking her hand, "and you're Alice. Yes, of that I am quite certain."
After quickly removing her gloves, White let go of Alice's hands and set his fingers loose upon her hair. The golden strands seemed to capture his full attention as he lifted one to his nose for a sniff. His nimble fingers grabbed the hat from her head and threw it across the room with her gloves.
"Excuse me but-"
"Oh you won't be needing those anymore," White whispered into her ear which sent shivers up Alice's spine. "It isn't quite as cold here as it is up there."
Alice was not sure how to feel about White. He was very close to her, now removing her coat from around her. She had known boys before, having gone to school with them for many years, but she had not known them intimately. This boy was attractive, she decided. More attractive than any boy she'd met at school.
He chuckled softly, hugging Alice to himself. "You aren't too bad to look at yourself."
Had he read her mind again like he had in the forest?
"That reminds me," he said, taking out his pocket watch again, "I'm very late. But before I go, I should mention that the weather is not the only difference between our worlds."
"What do you mean?" Alice asked.
"Hmmm, how can I explain?" The boy tapped his chin as Alice waited for him to put his thoughts together. "Ahh! I know! Three little letters, a paradox to some. The worse that it is, the better it becomes."
White began running from Alice yet again. "White! Wait! What do you mean? Where am I to go?"
Either the boy did not hear her or he did not care to respond. He did not slow down for Alice but disappeared into the long hallway that she was now trapped in.
"Boys!" she sighed in frustration. "A paradox? The worse that it is, the better it becomes…"
Doors of all shapes and sizes lined the hall but when Alice tried to open them to see where White had disappeared to, she found that every last one of them was locked. The teen became very frustrated. First the riddle then doors placed in such a fashion when it was obvious that nobody was meant to open them.
Continuing down the hall, she came to a large round room with a glass table at the center. Atop the table lay a very small golden key, too small to fit into any of the doors she had passed.
"Curiouser and curiouser," she muttered to herself.
"Not curious at all," said a voice from behind her. Alice turned quickly to see who had been watching her, but she saw no one there. "Pun, you stupid girl, the answer is pun."
"I – I beg your pardon?" Alice asked, still trying to see where the voice was coming from.
"Three little letters, a paradox to some. The worse it is, the better it becomes. It's a pun," the voice said.
"Of course," Alice whispered to herself. "But why – excuse me, but who are you?"
"Well, right now I am not a jar," the voice replied.
"Well, that certainly narrows it down," Alice replied sarcastically.
"I did not say that I was never a jar, though. I was a jar just moments before you walked in on me."
Alice was completely befuddled. How could something be a jar one moment, then not be a jar the next? It was logically impossible!
"A jar? A jar…ajar!" she had solved the riddle. "Ajar! You're a door! But wait, doors can't talk."
"Perhaps I'm not speaking to you. Perhaps this is all a figment of your imagination," the voice said. "But then again, perhaps not. Are you going to use that key to open me or not?"
"I can't find any door that the key unlocks. Which door are you?"
"Look under there," the voice ordered.
After looking under the table, Alice concluded that there was nothing else to look under in the atrium. "Under where?"
The voice let out a small giggle and Alice had realized what she had just said. "Oh yes, very mature."
"I'm the least mature door in this entire hall," the voice boasted proudly. "The smallest, too, and quite hidden away from the rest."
Alice turned and turned, looking for the door that was speaking to her. She became annoyed with it's ego as it taunted her. "You're ice cold, kid. Ice cold." Moving around the hall, she continued to play its' game. "Warmer, warmer," he teased, but never did she find the door she was looking for. She was about to give up when she noticed a note on the glass table. She had sworn that the only thing on the table was the key. It was if the note had appeared out of thin air.
"How strange!" she wondered, picking up the note to read.
Girls as beauteous as you are rare
Flirt with the door if you dare.
If you do, his whereabouts you'll find
And catch up to me in no time!
The note was signed with a small picture of a rabbit, the same rabbit she had seen on White's shirt just a few moments earlier. Alice glanced skeptically at the note. Was White seriously suggesting that she flirt with a door? With nothing to lose, Alice sighed and began to speak.
"You know, I've never met a door as clever as you are."
"There isn't a door anywhere that is my equal!" it boasted.
"No, I don't suppose there is. I bet you're a very handsome looking door, too," she continued.
"Oh, how I wish I could see the handsome door that outwitted me!" Alice feigned. "It would mean so much to someone as frumpy as me."
"Come, come, my dear. You are the farthest thing from frumpy," the door said, softening.
"You really think so?"
"I know so," the voice replied.
"I guess it's a shame I'll have to settle for one of these other doors," she sighed. "Well, it was nice talking to you, door. Goodbye."
As she turned to walk back down the hall, the voice called for her to stop. "Wait! Come back! Look behind the curtain."
Behind the glass table, Alice could see a large, burgundy drape hung from the wall. She scolded herself for not seeing it before. How could I have been so blind?
Taking the key in her hands, she pushed aside the curtain to reveal a tiny door, barely big enough for a mouse to fit through. The door had the face of a teenage boy that was etched into the wood and it was the face that spoke to her.
"Go ahead, open me up," he said.
Needing no further prompting, Alice knelt down, plunged the key into the doorknob, turned it, and swung the small door open. Inside there was the loveliest garden that Alice had ever seen. She longed to get out of the hall and into the garden to walk amongst the flowers and feel the soft, warm grass beneath her feet.
"Looks like you're too big," the door said finally. "How are you supposed to get through when you're that size?"
"I don't know, alright!" Alice said, slamming the door shut.
"OUCH!" The face contorted in pain. "How would you like it if someone swung you around, slamming to into your frame!"
"Sorry," Alice apologized, not totally wholeheartedly. "But what am I to do now?"
Alice stood back up, defeated, and headed back toward the center of the room. There, on the table, was a vial filled with a deep purple liquid. "This definitely wasn't here two minutes ago," she said. She placed the key down to examine the little glass bottle carefully. As she lifted the vial, she saw that it had two simple words written on it: DRINK ME.
Perhaps it was because she was so frustrated or perhaps it was because she thought that maybe, somehow, this was all a dream that she unstopped the vial and downed its contents in one swig.
The liquid tasted pleasant enough. It seemed to be a mixture of flavors; she seemed to taste her favorite tea and a cherry Danish, all in one gulp. No sooner had she thought about the liquid's taste then she began shrinking.
Smaller and smaller Alice became. Her clothes melted right off of her as she shrunk. Oh dear, Alice thought, I hope nobody sees me!
She stopped growing when she was around ten inches tall, the perfect height to fit through the door. "I see that we've solved our little height problem, have we? Yes, I like you much better this way. I must say, your wardrobe has improved." Alice made an attempt to cover herself as the door chuckled and looked her over. "Yes, a definite improvement. While I would love to stare at you all day, don't you have a garden to get to?"
"Oh yes! The garden!" Alice looked around her for the key but, alas, she had left it atop the table, a table that was not much too high for her to reach. "No!"
Alice tried to climb up the legs of the glass table, but they were round and smooth and she found herself constantly slipping. After five minutes, Alice had tired herself out and had lost all hope in getting to the garden.
What am I to do now? White is gone, the door is ogling me, and I have no way of getting out of this hall!
Soon her eye fell on a little glass box that was lying under the table: she opened it, and found in it a very small blue cake. The cake simply said EAT ME and, like the liquid in the vial, she did just that.