It was a bright Friday afternoon as the students, teachers, parents, siblings, and other relatives of the students who had been cast in the school play filed into the auditorium. While just behind the the closed curtains of the stage the cast were getting into their costumes, putting on makeup, and making the last adjustments to the sets.
Bastian Bux had just finished getting into his own costume by tying the cord around the middle of his tunic. He then stood in front of the mirror one last time and combed his hair again. Then he opened the door and stepped out, and as he did he saw coming down the corridor his fairly new best friend Alice Miller. She was fully costumed in her own mid-century Athenian dress and her long blonde ringlets were flowing loosely down her shoulders and back. Her face had the softest touches of makeup applied to it and it seemed somehow to make her blue eyes glimmer all the more, at least to him it seemed.
Alice then stopped and turned towards Bastian. She smiled with bemusement and asked, "What are you looking at, Bastian?"
It was then that Bastian realized he had standing in place and staring at her. He now blinked and shook his head slightly and smiled lopsidedly as he replied, "Just... you really do look like an Athenian maid out of a midsummer night's dream, Alice... or should I say Hermia?" He chuckled nervously.
Alice giggled slightly and replied, "You look just like your part as well, Bastian... or should I say Lysander?"
He grinned. And then they both noticed the lights were beginning to dim slightly and so they went quickly to the stage and got into their positions.
Then with the auditorium filled to capacity, the lights surrounding went down, and the plush red curtains concealing the stage were slowly pulled back to reveal a most enchanting forest scene. The grass and trees and flowers were of course artificial, yet in the soft lighting of the stage that represented moonlight and the tiny beams of stage lights it all seemed so magically real.
During the proceeding of the play, Alice and Bastian played their roles with efficiency and poise along with the other cast members. While the whole audience was captivated by all heir performances and would laugh and then applaud at all the right times.
It was then an hour later when the play ended and then the curtains closed and then opened one more time and the entire cast stood before the rapturously applauding audience and took their bows while the lights gradually came up again.
Alice and Bastian spotted their own families in the audience near the front and seeing their expressions they felt they had done a very praise worthy performance. Then afterward as they came down the steps of the stage they were each embraced by their families.
"How was I, Mom?" Alice asked.
"You were just amazing, Alice, just amazing," her mother told her. "In fact, I almost could've thought the play was for real."
"And so could I," added Bastian's Dad. "Well done, Bastain. I always knew you had a marvelous imagination and that you knew how to use it right."
"I think this calls for a celebration," said Alice's Dad. "Where would you two like to go for it?"
"I'd like to go to Dairy Queen for ice cream and hot dogs," said Alice right away.
"Me too," agreed Bastian eagerly.
And so that was where they went and they had several kinds of ice cream and hot dogs while they talked amongst each other about more upcoming events, such as Bastian's Dad's wedding, and Alice's family's annual cookout coming up soon. And they all agreed to attend each event all together.
Then afterward, when they all went to the Millers house to continue their celebrating Alice and Bastian soon found a moment to be alone with each other.
"I had fun a lot of fun being in the play," Alice said, "It had a kind of magic to it, if not exactly the kind found in Wonderland."
"Or the kind found in Fantasia," added Bastian. "But, yeah, I had a lot of fun in it. And I also enjoyed out outing with your family and mine. I hope we can always enjoy these things together."
"So do I," agreed Alice. "It's always good when friends come together, whatever ages they are. Or even what species they are, as I learned in Wonderland."
"And I did in Fantasia," agreed Bastian.
"And, you know, this makes me think about both of the sets of friends we have in both Wonderland and Fantasia... and how the both of us know each other well and know about each of our own worlds having been to both of them. And yet, none of our friends in either places have ever been to the other's or even met any others outside of their own."
"Yeah, that's right," Bastian said thoughtfully. "And you know, that is kind of sad... because that way they've missed out on a lot of things by not getting to know other worlds and other people."
"I just wish there could be a way we could have both worlds meet," Alice sighed.
"Well... there is!" Bastian said suddenly.
"There is? How?" asked Alice eagerly.
"It's very simple," Bastian explained. "All we have to do is to take the book of The Neverending Story with us through your mirror into Wonderland, and then with all our friends in it together I can read us all into Fantasia. I'm sure this could work, just as I'm sure all of my Fantasian friends would love to know all your Wonderland friends."
"So do I!" said Alice delightedly. "Oh, I can just picture the Queen meeting Falkor and riding on his back!"
"So can I!" agreed Bastian.
So then they left the house and went quickly down the street to Mr. Coreander's Bookstore. They entered the shop and found Mr. Coreander sitting in his usual chairand smoking his pipe. He looked up and smiled when he saw them enter.
"Hello, Alice, hello Bastian," he said warmly. "You've come for your usual adventure, I presume?"
"Well, not exactly the usual one, Mr. Coreander," said Bastian. "You see, we'd like to borrow The Neverending Story for today because we have some friends who we would like to share the adventure with. We hope that's all right."
Mr. Coreander smiled with a knowing twinkle in his eyes and replied, "Of course it's all right. I understand perfectly what you mean."
"Thanks," said Bastian happily.
Then he and Alice went to the back of the room to get the book which was laying in its place on the old table. Then they left the bookstore as quickly as they had come.
Then as soon as they were back at Alice's house they went straight upstairs to her bedroom. Then, with Bastian clutching the book securely under his left arm, they both reached out and stepped through the magic portal in the mirror and came out into Wonderland once again.
They went right away to the Palace where they found the Queen of Hearts sitting at her throne and reading one of her own books. They stepped up to her side.
"Hello, Your Majesty!" Alice greeted happily.
The Queen started a bit and then closed her book and set it aside by her throne. She then looked up with a warm smile at the two of them.
"Oh! Why, hello Alice and Bastian. I was just reading one of my favorite books."
"What about?" asked Bastian.
"About places faraway from Wonderland..." said the Queen in a wistful, far off voice. "About places of daring adventures and of magic and romance and where any dream can come true..." she sighed dreamily. "I just wish I could go to such a place as that someday in this lifetime. I've always to ever since I was a little princess, to see other lands and meet other people, not just other rulers, but all kinds of people and creatures too. But I suppose it would take a miracle to make my dream for this come true."
Alice and Bastian both looked at each other and smiled knowingly towards each other and then smiled back at the Queen together.
"Well, Your Majesty," Bastian said while barely able to contain his ecstasy, "I have the miracle to make your dream come true right here with me." He then brought The Neverending Story out in front of him and explained. "You see, this is no ordinary book at all. This book contains a magic portal in it that when I open it and read from, it will take me and anyone else that I wish into another world called Fantasia. And Fantasia is a place beyond yours or anyone's wildest dreams."
The Queen stared at Alice and Bastian in shock and unbridled ecstasy. "Is this really true?" she asked in disbelief. "It seems so... unbelievable that a book could have a magic portal in it that could take anyone to a whole new world inside of literally!"
Alice smiled and said, "Well, Your Majesty, it's no more impossible than a mirror in my own bedroom having a magic portal in it that takes me into a whole new world literally by walking through it."
"Why, you're right, Alice," the Queen realized. "So, tell me, Bastian, what sort of people and creatures are there in this Fantasia?"
"Well, actually, Your Majesty," Bastian said, "even I am still learning all the kinds there are in Fantasia. Though I have met with Rockbiters, and Barktrolls, and Nighhobs, and Luckdragons."
"Dragons! Did you say dragons?" asked the Queen nearly quivering with excitement.
"Yes," replied Bastian.
"Oh! How I've always wanted to ride on a dragon and soar through the air above the clouds!" she threw her arms out and twirled around. Then she quickly asked, "And these luckdragons are friendly dragons aren't they?"
"Oh, absolutely," Bastian assured her. "In fact Luckdragons are the friendliest kind of dragons you can meet with, that is why they are called Luckdragons, for bringing good luck to all that is good. And one in particular is a very good friend of mine, his name is Falkor."
"Oh goody!" exclaimed the Queen. "Oh, we simply must gather all of our friends here at once so that they can come to!"
So then the Queen got the White Rabbit and said, "Rabbit, go at once to the homes of the Hatter, Hare, Tweedles, Walrus, and Caterpillar, and the Chesire Cat if you can find him also and bring them all here."
"Yes, Your Majesty," said the Rabbit. "Are we having a big event now?"
"Yes, indeed!" said the Queen. "We are going to a whole new world!"
Then the Rabbit roller-skated swiftly out of the Palace and within a half hour he had returned with every one of the Wonderland citizens the Queen wanted.
"So, what is this we all hear about us all going to a whole new world, Your Majesty?" asked the Rabbit.
"Our friend Bastian claims that in the book he has with him is a magic portal that can take us all literally to a world inside of it called Fantasia," the Queen replied.
"Oh boy!" exclaimed the March Hare in delight. "I was in the mood for a vacation!"
"And this should be better than any trip we've ever made to the library," added the Walrus.
The Caterpillar looked especially interested. "I have always wondered about what it would be like to go into an actual world inside a story and become literally one with it," he said, "And now it seems my lifelong dream has come true."
"And I can also have bigger and better tea parties from now on!" exclaimed the Hatter. "And just at the right time too as I was just trying to invent another new kind of tea to serve."
"Well, what are we all waiting for?" exclaimed Tweedle Dum. "Let's get there right away!"
"Okay," said Bastian. "Now all of you gather around me closely."
So they all did and then Bastian opened up the book and the pages lit up brighter and brighter until the light had engulfed everyone. He read the first line of the first page:
"The people of Wonderland stood by their friends Bastian and Alice at the foot of the Ivory Tower and looked up at it in all of its glory. They were all awestruck by how the polished white ivory gleamed in the sunlight as they made their way up the steps."
Bastian now looked up from the book as the bright light diminished and found they all were truly walking together up the steps of the Ivory Tower in Fantasia with the people of Wonderland looking around in wonder and awe at their new surroundings.
"Well, I'll be..." the Hatter murmured.
"This is actually better than reading from the outside of a book," said the Caterpillar.
"Couldn't have said it better myself," agreed the Walrus.
"Oh my Heavens!" the Queen gasped as they were nearing the top of the steps. "I have never, ever seen such beauty, such splendor of any palace or castle in any picture or anywhere! This makes my own Palace seem like a very modest little cottage!"
Just then they reached the top of the steps and entered the throne room of Moonchild, the Childlike Empress. She sat on a large ivory flower shaped throne and smiled very sweetly when she saw them all entering.
"Greetings to you all," she said. "Bastian, Alice, I see you have brought with a group of new friends for me today. They shall be most welcome in my Empire by all. And I trust they will have an enjoyable stay at it as well."
"Thank you, Empress," said Bastian. "These are my and Alice's friends from Wonderland. This is the Hatter, Hare, Tweedle Dee and Dum, the Walrus, Catarpillar, Chesire Cat, the Rabbit, and their Queen."
The Queen stepped forward and said, "Might I say, it is a most esteemed pleasure to be in your presence, Childlike Empress. Long have I dreamed to meet with such a ruler as you of a land such as this."
The Empress smiled and said, "Why, of course it is just as much an honor to meet with you as well, Your Majesty the Queen of Wonderland. Now if you please, tell me what you might wish to do or see here first."
The Queen now fidgeted slightly with anticipation. "Well, I had heard that you have Luckdragons around here who are very friendly. And one in particular named Falcor... so I was just wondering if I could..."
The Empress was now smiling as she was looking behind the Queen's shoulder. Then suddenly they all heard a deep and booming resonant voice exclaim jovially,
"Why, of course! I would be just delighted to take Your Majesty for a ride around Fantasia and give her a grand tour!"
They all turned around and they saw before them a most amazing creature with a giant doglike head and floppy ears with pearly white fur and scales on his back."
"Falcor? Is this him?" asked the Queen in awe.
"The one and only, Your Majesty," Bastian said with a smile.
"Oh! But how did you show up at just the right time?" exclaimed the Queen.
"It was by sheer luck, Your Majesty," replied Falkor with a wink.
The Queen now looked like she was just about to faint from happiness and ecstasy. But instead she rushed up to Falcor and embraced his big head just like a little girl would hug a new puppy.
Falcor nuzzled her sweetly for a moment and then said, "Well, hop aboard, my Queen, for the ride of your life."
So then the Queen stepped up onto Falcor's back and sat down neatly and held her arms tightly around his head. And then the luckdragon lifted itself off of the floor and with a great zip through the air it took off and flew off and soared up into the sky almost like a rocket.
The Queen now found herself soaring through the clouds passing by, and looking down from high above the grand landscapes far below them. She saw huge majestic mountains and vast rivers and lakes strewn about and plains and fields of many kinds. The world of Fantasia seemed so vast and completely endless, as though it truly had no boundaries.
"Wheeee!" She exclaimed merrily as she began pumping her fist into the air like a child would on a rollarcoaster ride.
And just then Falcor went for a loop the loop just like one and the Queen clung tightly onto him and felt as if she were lighter than air herself. She had never felt so free, so happy, so content, and so unabashedly like a little girl in all her born days.