Alice, still stuck in the pocket of Cheshire, was carried into a gleaming white building with the words "Tea Shop" written in elegant letters over the door. She liked the look of the tea shop. She could very happily stay there. Cheshire moved by the many stalls of people who sat sipping tea from their tea cups. Cheshire nodded at an individual who was selling the teas, a mousy haired man with a thickset moustache and heavy coat. He seemed to be falling asleep. Cheshire moved to the back of the shop and opened a door. Alice was stunned to see what was inside.
Tall grass spindled from the floor instead of carpet or hardwoods. Flowers were growing speedily and murmuring to themselves as they did so. At the end there were two gentlemen, barely older than teenagers, and both sipping tea. One of them had dark black hair sticking out from under a pork-pie hat. Dark circles around his eyes and pursed lips and he wore an ugly looking shirt that was untied at the top and a loose tie. His trousers were a dark maroon colour and his shoes were leather boots. Alice thought he looked really silly. The other boy was wearing a sharp suit with sandy brown hair that lay flat across his head.
"Chess," The boy with the hat said. "We thought you weren't coming!"
Cheshire put the box down on the table and then, carefully, he picked Alice up from his pocket and set her on the table.
"Who's that?" The sandy haired boy asked. He had an unusual accent. Alice had to conclude that it was somewhat American.
"This is Alice," Cheshire said proudly.
"Is she an oyster?" The boy with the hat asked.
"I don't know," Cheshire said admittedly. "She said that she wasn't."
"Looks like an oyster," The sandy haired boy said.
"Well, I'm not," Alice said, folding her arms.
The sandy haired boy got up in a flash and Cheshire was suddenly pinned up against the wall. He was holding a knife and pointing it at Cheshire's throat.
"You brings an oyster here and you expect us to be okay with it?" He hissed.
The boy with the hat got up.
"She's not an oyster," Cheshire said. "I think she's something else."
"A likely story!" The sandy haired boy replied, digging the knife deeper across Cheshire's throat.
"March," Said the hatted boy, placing a hand on the other boys' shoulder. "What would Cheshire want with an oyster?"
"To sell to the Queen of Hearts!" Hissed March.
"Don't be stupid," The hatted boy said. "The Queen of Hearts is a wannabe celebrity. She will come to mean nothing," Alice frowned, she had never heard of that word. This world was mad, so she quietly supposed that they would make up their own languages too.
March seemed to struggle. His desire to hurt Cheshire had diminished. There was a snapping of knuckles and he looked down to see that the hatted boy was cracking the knuckles to his right hand. His eyes widened in some fear. He fell back and tucked his knife back into his pocket. The hatted boy led March back to the table before turning to Cheshire.
"Thank you Hatter," Cheshire said, rubbing his neck.
Hatter nodded before moving back to the table. "I assume that she wasn't always this size?" he asked.
"Ah," Hatter paused for a moment, looking thoughtful. "Give me a second," He moved to the back of the room opening a tiny door and picking out something. He moved back and gave it to Alice. "Eat this," He ordered.
Alice took the cake from Hatter's hand, though she was too small to hold it without toppling over. She bit into it and chewed. She took another bite and suddenly she felt as if she was growing. She jumped down from the table. Hatter looked quite satisfied with himself before sitting down.
"Would you like a cup of tea?" He asked.
"Yes please," Alice said.
"Today," Hatter said, shifting some space so that she could sit next to him. "We are celebrating our unbirthday,"
"Unbirthday?" Alice asked. She had never heard of a more ridiculous thing. "Don't you mean, 'birthday'?"
"He means what he says," Snapped March. Hatter held out his hand to shush him. March fell silent.
"Well," He said, grabbing a teapot and pouring some into a tea cup for Alice. "We seem to think it's silly that we only celebrate our living one day every year. Surely, we should celebrate being alive every day of the year."
"You see?" Cheshire said sitting down opposite March who was nursing a tightly drawn fist.
"I suppose," Alice said. "But what happens when you have a birthday?"
"Then you rest," Hatter said simply. "It can be rather tiring to celebrate yourself every day,"
"Then…" Alice frowned. "It must be my unbirthday too!"
"It is?" Cheshire said. "Oh, well a very happy Unbirthday!" He cried.
"And to you!" Alice said.
"And to you!" Hatter said to Alice before looking at March. His smile seemed to fade. "Drink up!" Alice lifted the tea to her lips. Why it was the most delicious thing that she had ever tasted! She drank it very quickly before asking the Hatter for more.
Hatter smiled and poured her another cup. Alice drank again.
"Who is the Queen of Hearts?" She asked.
"She doesn't know the Queen?" March stood up and grabbed Cheshire from his seat flinging him back. Hatter got up at once. "WHO THE HELL IS SHE CHESHIRE?"
"March!" Hatter shouted. "Will you calm down?"
"She doesn't know who the Queen is!" March shouted. "She's an oyster."
"She's led a sheltered life is all!" Cheshire squeaked.
"A sheltered life?" March said. He pulled out his knife again. Cheshire stared at it a terrified look in his eyes. Then he smiled, and slowly he began to disappear. March stepped back. "WHERE ARE YOU, LOWLIFE SCUM?"
March didn't see Hatter behind him. March didn't see Hatter reach out. Alice watched as Hatter pulled March away and then there was the loud crunch of bone hitting bone. March fell back. Alice looked over. He slumped against the wall without so much as a grunt. Hatter stared at him.
"Come on," He said, taking Alice's hand. "I think I should take you home."
"Did you kill him?" Alice asked, timidly.
"No," Hatter replied.
Alice came to the conclusion that the Hatter was quite mad.
Hatter looked around. "Chess! You can stop hiding!"
Cheshire appeared and sat down at the table. "All this fighting is putting me off my tea." He grumbled.
Hatter chose to ignore the comment.
"Is it not my favourite lunatics," Said a calm voice. Hatter and Alice turned to see Mr Rabbit advancing towards them.
Hatter did not relax. "Hello." He said.
"Hatter, I'm looking for your father, where is he?" Mr Rabbit asked.
Hatter shrugged. "Dunno."
"You don't know… Or don't care?" Mr Rabbit asked.
"Both," Hatter replied. "He's probably in the back."
Mr Rabbit nodded and upon seeing Alice, upturned his nose. Hatter sighed. "I'm taking her home."
"Oh, I don't think so," Mr Rabbit said. "I told white Queen and she wants to meet her."
"I'm nothing special." Alice cried. "Why would a Queen want to meet me?"
Mr Rabbit looked down. "It's because you're nothing special that she wants to meet you."