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Alex's Adventures Through the Looking Glass

by Cleo

Contact the author at cleo@phuze.com

Cleo's Website

Other Stories by Cleo

  Chapter One: Through the Glass

Alex strolled through the woods carrying only a bottle of water and a spirit of excitement. The warm pine air filled his lungs and renewed his appreciation for the wilderness. On the spur of the moment, he decided to go off the trail and wander where his feet would take him.

Bluejays darted through the trees and squirrels scampered along the branches, alarmed at the presence of the intruder.

He crossed a little creek and walked up a sloping meadow and into a shady alcove.

A little cottage sat nestled within the forest at the edge of the meadow.

Alex walked up the steps of the wooden house and was about to knock on the door when it opened on its own.

Inside he went.

The door closed behind him and latched firmly shut.

"What is this place?" he asked looking around the room.

The furniture was old fashioned, crafted out of oak and shaped in intricate swirl patterns with maple leaves carved in miniature all about.

The hearth was empty of firewood and a great mirror sat above the mantle.

A cuckoo clock sat opposite the hearth. It was nearly five o'clock.

He set his bottle of water down on a coffee table and walked over to the hearth.

Glancing in the mirror, Alex noticed that his reflection seemed to have a double image in it somehow. Two faces in one stared back at him.

"What's this then?" he asked staring closer. "Do my eyes deceive me or is there a little girl staring back at me from behind this glass?"

Indeed his reflection was barely stronger than the image of the girl who stood there on the other side gazing back at him in wonderment.

He looked with more intent now and saw that there were other images not completely normal to the expected reflection of this room.

The cuckoo clock in the mirror seemed to be upside down and the furniture was arranged differently.

Alex walked over and brought a chair up to the hearth.

He stood on the chair and tapped on the mirror.

The girl tapped back in unison.

He pressed his hand on the smooth surface of the glass and felt his whole arm slipping through as if he stuck his arm in quicksand.

"It's a portal of some sort," he mused to himself and climbed up onto the mantle.

The little girl on the other side also climbed up and met him there at the looking glass.

She was shorter than him and yet she seemed to mimic his every move.

"Here goes nothing," he said and stepped through the mirror.

The first thing he noticed was his size.

He'd shrunk down in height a few feet or so.

The next thing he realized was he was wearing a dress, white stockings, and little black flats.

Alex looked down upon himself and saw that he had somehow become the little girl he had seen in the looking glass moments before.

"I'm a girl?" she asked in disbelief.

Little blonde braids lay cradled over her shoulders and she turned in place on the mantle to face the mirror.

There on the other side was the image of the Alex that he knew and grew up to expect to see when looking in mirrors but this image was laughing and climbing down from the mantle on the other side.

Alex pushed her hands up to the mirror and tried to climb back through but the mirror was solid now.

She started pounding upon the glass and the figure on the other side laughed and walked out of the cottage.

"Wait! No! Come back! You can't leave me like this!" Alex cried. It was no use. Somehow they had traded places. Indeed they even traded worlds.

Alex climbed down from the mantle and looked around the room.

The cuckoo clock chimed "oook-oook" and a mouse scampered across the floor after a black cat.

"What is this place?" Alex asked and walked out of the cottage.

She sat down on the steps of the little house and looked at her little legs. She moved her feet back and forth and wriggled her toes in them. Her little, black flats were shined to perfection and she could see her own reflection on the surface of the shoes.

She clasped her small hands together and rubbed them over each other nervously.

"Oh, what am I going to do?" she cried. "I'm not supposed to be here. I'm not supposed to be a girl. Oh, what am I going to do?"

A white paw tapped her upon the shoulder and she turned about to see a rabbit standing there.

He was standing up on his hind legs and wearing a smart, red vest. The rabbit held an hourglass in one paw.

"You're late, my dear Alice," the rabbit scolded her. "The Queen will not hear of this. Come along now. Off to the castle with you, my dear. Off to the castle. You know you aren't supposed to be near the looking glass house. The Queen forbids it. Now hurry along my child. Sand is running low. Mustn't keep the Queen waiting."

The rabbit ran off down a trail nearby and left Alex sitting there with a puzzled look on her face.

"Alice?" she said to herself. "My name is Alice?"

With a shrug she got up and walked off down the path after the fidgety rabbit.

"Maybe the Queen knows why I'm here and why I'm stuck in this little girls body," she reasoned as she walked along through the pink woods.

An owl flew backwards through the air and vanished into the trees.

"You'll be more than stuck, my dear, if you don't hurry along," the rabbit said up ahead of her on the trail.

"Wait for me!" she cried and skipped along.

Back in the looking glass house, a curtain parted in the upstairs window and a wide grin appeared out of the darkness within.

"Another one for the training," said the teeth. "Another one for my amusement."

The drapes shut and the wind howled with laughter.

Chapter Two: Monarch

The rabbit was too fast for Alex/Alice. She watched as the white rabbit vanished around the bend and left her behind. She found a clearing and sat down on a log for a rest.

"You there," a voice cried out from above. "Little girl. What are you doing in my garden?"

Alice looked up and saw a great caterpillar sitting atop a great mushroom. The caterpillar puffed away on a cigar.

"Yes, you," the creature said blowing smoke down at her.

"Who are you?" she asked looking up. "And what are you doing up there?"

"I am Monarch but that is of no concern to you. The real question is who are you? You came from the glass house didn't you?" the creature asked and said. "They never learn. It's always the same thing. Did anyone invite you then or do you always sneak about in other peoples houses and climb through the mirrors?"

"I found the house by accident," she said while another bit of smoke streamed out at her.

"Makes no difference now does it?" the caterpillar asked and moved around to peer down at her. "You're not sitting like a girl. You've ruffled up your dress there. Quite unladylike. Who are you really?"

"I'm Alex," she said coughing at an incoming smoke ring. "I'm really a thirty year old man but I got trapped in this body somehow."

"I knew it. Well, you're not the first of your kind, child. I've seen this sort of thing happen before. Are you comfortable with your age?" he asked.

Alex shook her head,"No. I don't mind being young but this is too young for me. Plus I'm not so sure about being stuck as a girl. Is there a way back? Can you help me?"

The caterpillar picked up a monocle from his vest pocket and brought it up to his eye. He observed the little girl and how she seemed quite nervous in her current state of existence.

"I can indeed help," Monarch said and gestured to the mushroom he sat upon. "On either side of this mushroom is a quality of material that will make you big or little. Take care not to eat too much or you will become too big or too little. Feel free to take a couple pieces with you on your journey. The only other thing I can do is point you along the way. Keep heading down this trail until you find another cottage. You might find additional help there. Good day, little Alex, and good luck."

She picked a couple pieces of mushroom and stuffed them in her blouse pockets. Then she waved goodbye to the caterpillar,"Thanks Monarch."

The creature puffed away on his cigar and watched her walk away down the trail.

___-----___

She paused for a moment on the trail.

"I think I'll try one of these mushroom pieces," she said to herself and brought a bit of the spongy material up to her mouth and ate some.

Immediately she started to grow.

Her hair became longer, her hips and chest became more defined, and she grew.

When it was done, she stood there and looked down upon herself.

She saw not the body of a child but the mature body of a beautiful young woman.

"Why I didn't turn into a giant at all," she exclaimed looking down at her chest in wonder. "I've just grown up is all. So this is what Monarch meant by the mushroom making a person big or little. It's for growing older or younger."

Oddly enough, the dress she was wearing seemed to have transformed with her so that it fit perfectly on her adult body. Every curve was accentuated. Her little black flats turned into black high heeled shoes.

She wobbled in place trying to get used to the heels and then decided she'd neither try walking in them now. After all, she couldn't likely walk through the forest in them even if she had known how to walk properly in heels, which she didn't.

Opting not to ruin her stockings, Alex decided to take them off and go barefoot.

The pink trees loomed up above her still but she seemed happier with her current form than the previous two. She felt much more content to keep her current body than go back to being either a little girl or a thirty year old man again. Everything about her was designed to perfection and she enjoyed every bit of her new existence. A smile escaped her mouth and she proceeded to walk down the shady trail and into a bright, green meadow.

A cow walked along beside her and said,"Uh, pardon me, miss, but you wouldn't happen to have seen a magic wand lying about the grass nearby would you?"

Talking caterpillars were one thing but a talking cow?

Alex looked over at the cow and said,"A wand? Nope. Never saw it."

"Oh, okay," the cow said. "I need it, you know. I accidentally turned myself into a cow and I lost the wand. If you see it, please let me know, okay?"

"Sure," Alex said and walked off out of the meadow and into more forest.

The cow turned about and began munching on the grass.

"Strange place," Alex said to herself.

___-----___

A bright pink cottage sat nestled between the redwoods. A small flower garden lined the cobblestone walkway up to the porch. Surrounding the place was a white picket fence.

Alex walked up to the porch and knocked on the door.

The door opened and a large grin of teeth appeared just within the hall.

A purple and red striped cat appeared around the smile.

"It certainly took you long enough Alice," the cat said and beckoned her inside. "I've been waiting for you."

With a shrug, she walked inside and the cat shut the door.

Chapter Three: Mushroom Cookie

The cat led her into the living room. "Have a seat Alice," the cat said gesturing to an antique sofa nearby.

She sat down and the cat took a seat beside her.

"My name is Alex, not Alice," she told him with mild annoyance.

"Exactly, my dear," the cat said with a smile and his face vanished, leaving only the grin visible. "You want to tell me you are stuck in the wrong body or something, right?"

"Well, sort of," she said looking down at herself with a blush. "Actually, I sort of like this new body after all."

"I see," the cat said revealing its wide eyes which gazed at Alex's face with interest. "Either way, I shall continue to call you Alice because, quite frankly, you are her now, you see?"

"It's weird," she admitted smoothing her dress along her thighs. "This whole place is weird. Is there a way back? I mean, I really like this new body and all but I'd like to go back to where I came from."

"And keep that body?" the cat suggested.

"Yeah, I want to keep this body," she admitted. "I didn't want to at first but when I ate that mushroom and grew up into an adult, well, I'd just assume stay this way now."

"Well, my dear," the cat said materializing completely. "You need to find the house of mirrors if you are to take that body back with you to where you came from."

"Like the house I came from?" she asked.

"Oh no," the cat said standing up and cartwheeling across the room."The looking glass house only works if you can trick someone on the other side to climb through the mirror, like the former Alice did to you. The house of mirrors is different. There, you will find mirrors that lead into many places. One mirror will take you back as you are. The others are unpredictable."

"How will I know which mirror?" she asked crossing her legs and uncrossing them nervously.

"That, my dear, you will have to find out for yourself," the cat said floating up into the air and vanishing. "The mad hatter may know a way. Take care, Alice, and good luck on your adventures."

With a shrug, she stood up and walked out of the cottage.

The air outside was scented with pine from the forest.

She walked barefoot back onto the main trail and continued her trip into the woods.

The white rabbit dashed across the path before her.

"Hurry, hurry, or you'll be late," the rabbit cried scampering along into the forest.

"He went off the trail," Alex mused and followed after the strange creature.

She walked through some bushes and emerged upon a great picnic table.

Three cows were wandering around the table in a slow circle.

"What's this?" Alex asked.

"Oh, Alice is back," said the cow wearing a large, green tophat.

"We're saved!" cried another cow.

"Quick, you there girl, grab the wand off the table and change us back," the third cow said.

Alex looked at the messy table and saw only teacups, saucers, a teapot, and scraps of food.

"Why, there isn't any wand on this table," she said as a cow licked the back of her leg.

"I knew it," cursed one cow. "That mock turtle must be the culprit. He suggested we test out the wand and now look what happened. We're cows!"

"Hey, stop licking my leg," Alice complained and gently pushed the cow away.

"She doesn't taste real," the cow said. "I think she's an imposter. What did you do with our Alice?"

"Huh? Oh, nothing. She traded bodies with me is all," Alex said.

"Oh," a cow nearby said passing by.

"It happens," said the cow with the tophat.

"Poor thing," said the third.

"Why are you all walking in circles?" Alex asked.

"What else are cows for?" the tophat cow asked.

"Milk," Alex suggested.

"What a silly idea," the tophat cow exclaimed. "Who's been telling you these tall tales, child? Milk from cows, indeed."

"Everyone knows milk comes from milkweeds," another cow added.

"Can you help me find the mad hatter?" Alex asked.

"I'm the mad hatter," the tophat cow announced. "Or I was, anyway, until that blasted mock turtle turned me into a cow."

"Well, the cat said you might be able to tell me how to get to the house of mirrors," Alex said.

"House of mirrors?" the tophat cow asked. "Hmmmm. Seems like I'd remember better if I weren't a cow. If you could get that wand and change me back, I might be able to remember where the house of beer is."

"House of mirrors," Alex corrected.

"Right, house of beer. Just what I told you," the tophat cow said and munched on the tablecloth.

"Oh, it's useless," Alex said and tossed her hands up in the air. "I'm leaving."

"Well, if you do find a wand, won't you please make a point to come back and change us to normal?" the tophat cow asked.

"Sure," Alex said and walked off down another path.

She walked past some weeping willows that were busy crying rain drops down into a babbling brook.

The path continued down some stone steps and Alex found a little cave set in the face of a large, rocky cliff.

With a shrug and a whistle, she entered the cave.

A small fire burned in the center of the main cavern room.

An old crone stood there beside the fire moving her arms around in circles as if she were stirring something.

"Hello there," Alex called out.

"Oh, Alice," the old lady said beaming with a wicked smile. "My arch enemy. What brings you here into my trap?"

"Trap?" Alex asked looking around."What trap?"

"My net has got you, it's no use struggling child," the old woman said cackling.

Alex looked around and said,"There's no net on me. What are you talking about?"

"I've got you! I've got you!" the old witch said jumping up and down in her black dress and then resuming her imaginary stirring of the air.

"What are you doing waving your arms about the fire like that?" Alex asked.

"I'm stirring my cauldron with this iron spoon," the witch said with a wicked laugh. "I'm making a potion to turn you into a newt. That'll teach you a lesson."

"But there is no cauldron or spoon and I'm not trapped in any net," Alex informed the witch. "In fact, you're just imagining things."

The witch pretended to drop her spoon in shock.

"Darn it! Now see what you made me do? I've lost my stirring spoon in the boiling cauldron," the witch said and walked towards Alex. "I'm going to fix you for that. I'll learn you plenty. You just wait."

Alex reached into her blouse pocket and pulled out a piece of mushroom and offered it to the witch.

"Hungry?" Alice asked.

The witch grabbed the mushroom away and said,"Thanks, but bribing me won't help you now, my dear. I'm still going to turn you into a newt."

The old lady munched on the mushroom and smiled,"Not bad. Who made this cookie? How'd you know I like chocolate?"

"It's not a cookie," Alex said and gave up on it. Obviously the old woman was seeing things.

"You wouldn't happen to have any milkweed would you?" the witch asked.

"Sorry," Alex said.

Suddenly the old woman got a glazed look in her eyes and she began to shrink.

"Funniest thing I ever felt," the old woman said shrinking down and getting younger. "Must be the additives. You've got to give me the recipe for these cookies, my dear. I think you used too much salt though . . ."

The transformation finished up and the witch stood there in the body of an eight year old girl. Her dress shrunk with her and changed to a sweet black dress with white ruffles on the edges. She had long black hair and brown eyes and looked about the room with a puzzled look on her face.

"Uuhh!" the witch-girl cried looking down upon herself. "I'm a child again."

Alex laughed,"That oughta teach you to try turning me into a newt."

"You couldn't have done this to me," the witch-girl argued looking down at her shiny black flats. "I must be allergic to your cookies or something. Yeah, you don't have any magic that can do this to me. You're just Alice. I'm the one with magic. I'm just allergic to your cooking, that's all. Now I'm really gonna turn you into a newt."

Alex stepped back as the little girl swung a punch at her.

"But first I'm gonna sock your lights out," the witch-girl cried in anger. "Nobody's cooking is gonna turn me into a child. I won't let you get away with it. I'm gonna sock your lights out!"

Alex turned and ran for the exit with the little girl chasing after.

They ran off the trail and into the woods.

Within the dark corners of the cave a gleaming, white smile emerged.

The cat laughed and crept through a secret passage into the forest.

The game was on.

Chapter Four: Hot Tub

Alex ran through some bushes and scrambled under the trees. The little witch-girl followed close behind. "Get away from me!" Alex cried but the witch-girl continued the chase.

They came out of the woods and stood upon the banks of a great rushing river.

Logs floated by and snapped into pieces on the boulders.

A little yellow inflateable raft rolled along past and the white rabbit called out,"You're going to be late. You're going to be late . . ."

The witch-girl stopped and stared at the passing rabbit.

"I think that squirrel was talking to you," the witch-girl said to Alex.

"That's a rabbit," Alice corrected.

"Rabbit's don't ride in rafts," the witch-girl said in defense. "So it's gotta be a squirrel."

Alex glared at the witch-girl and leaped into the river.

The water carried her swiftly past the rocks and spun her in circles after the little yellow raft.

At one point, Alex actually passed the raft but the raft quickly resumed the lead.

The cold water started spiraling about and Alex realized she was in a whirlpool.

"Hey rabbit," she called to the raft which spun down the whirlpool in front of her. "Where does this go?"

"Oh me, oh my," said the rabbit ignoring her and looking at his watch while the raft sunk down through the bottom of the whirlpool.

Alex was pulled underwater and then spat out of a funnel into a large underground lake.

She was in a huge cavern. The ceiling was covered with green, glowing moss that illuminated the lake eerily.

The rabbit paddled away hastily, leaving Alex behind.

"You there," someone called from behind. "Mind the tub. We're coming through."

Three men in a tub floated towards Alex.

"Out of the way, child," cried the baker.

"Keep rowing," the called out the candlestick maker."And for gods sake, put that knife away before you hurt someone."

The butcher fumbled with the knife and dropped it accidentally into the lake.

"Pity," cried the baker.

"That was my best knife, too," the butcher complained.

The white tub floated towards Alex.

"You there, girl, what are you trying to do? Block passage across the lake? Out of the way I said," the baker ordered waving a scrub brush he'd been using as a paddle.

Alex tried swimming to one side but the rowers managed to turn in the same direction.

"Okay, that did it. Pie please," the butcher called out.

The baker reached down into the tub and handed a pie to the butcher.

"Fire one!" the candlestick maker said lighting the pie on fire with a small candle.

The baker threw the pie at Alex and it missed, splashing into the water with a hiss as the flame went out.

A barrel floated nearby with two short, chubby twins with the words "Tweedle-Dee" and "Tweedle-Dum" scribbled on their shirts.

"What seems to be the problem?" Tweedle-Dee asked spinning his propeller cap.

"This girl is holding up traffic," the baker called back.

"And we're throwing flaming pies at her," the butcher said taking another pie and readying it for another shot.

"Oh, what kind?" Tweedle-Dum asked.

"Huh?" the butcher asked.

"What kind of pies exactly?" Tweedle-Dee asked.

The butcher looked puzzled and then whispered something to the baker.

"Depends on what you mean," the baker said.

"Yeah," the butcher agreed.

"See, they're really not that good," the baker said.

"Yeah, otherwise why would a baker be out here in a tub?" the candlestick maker added lighting another pie on fire.

Alex swam in place and watched the pie slowly burning in the butchers hands while the conversation continued.

"You see, nobody really likes my pies," the baker said.

"Exactly," the candlestick maker agreed.

"So it doesn't really matter what type," the butcher added as the pie melted all over his hands and flames exploded along his shirt sleeve.

"So it depends on what you mean," the baker said readying another pie.

"I mean: what type of pie is it?" Tweedle-Dum said rowing the barrel in a circle around the tub.

"Yeah, what flavor?" Tweedle-Dee asked.

"Um . . . your shirt is on fire," Alex said to the baker.

"Shut up, girl," he said back to her. "Can't you see we're talking here?"

"Yeah," the candlestick maker said lighting another pie on fire and handing it to the butcher. "Stop interrupting. We're talking about important matters here and don't need your opinion, you traffic blocker."

"Yeah, lake hog," the baker added with arms crossed.

The butcher seemed uninterested that his other arm caught on fire. Instead he nudged the baker and said,"Hey, get another pie ready. I'm gonna really let her have it this time."

The little elbow nudge started the butchers shirt on fire.

"Now, where were we?" the butcher asked.

"You were talking about pie types," Alex reminded him.

"That does it, girl," the candlestick maker said throwing some lit matches at Alex. "Stop interrupting."

"Oh, yes, pie types," the butcher said as flames crawled up his arms and lit his vest on fire. "Well, they all should taste the same. Namely, terrible."

"True, true," the baker agreed and his hat burst into an array of orange fire.

"These are supposed to be what? Chocolate pies?" the butcher asked the baker.

"Well, yes, normally they would be but they're a bit burnt at the moment so you can't be too sure right now," the baker answered breaking into a sweat. "It certainly is warm in this tub."

"Yes, it is warm, isn't it?" the butcher said and looked at the candlestick maker accusingly. "Would you please stop lighting those matches? You're raising the temperature in here."

The candlestick maker tossed some more lit matches out of the tub at Alex and shrugged,"Sorry. I was busy teaching miss road block a lesson."

Alex gave up and began swimming away from the tub.

"Look, she's leaving," Tweedle-Dee said pointing.

"Yeah, no more traffic jam," Tweedle-Dum agreed.

Alex heard the butcher and baker suddenly cry out in shouts of horror as they finally realized their clothes were on fire.

"Stupid candlestick maker!" the butcher cried leaping out of the tub. "It's all your fault."

"You and your matches," the baker agreed jumping into the lake to extinguish the flames.

Alex swam to shore and sat on some rocks to dry off.

She felt a clammy hand tap her upon the shoulder.

"Hello there," a green face said to her. "I'm the mock turtle. Aren't you in luck. You're going to be a cow today."

Alex glanced at the wand coming down towards her head and shrugged.

Chapter Five: Choose A Path

"Now don't move," the mock turtle said swinging the wand slowly down. Slowly, slowly, slowly the wand crept down towards Alex.

Alex stepped to the side and grabbed the wand from the mock turtle.

She turned around and brought the wand down upon the head of the mock turtle.

"Hey!" the turtle complained. "I told you not to moooooooooo....."

Alex brought the wand back up off the new cow's head.

"I think I shall leave you like that to teach you a lesson," Alex said climbing up some rocks to a small plateau.

The white rabbit scampered by taking nervous looks at his pocket watch.

"Oh-my-oh-my-oh-my-oh-my!" the rabbit exclaimed running up to a tiny pink door. "I'm late again. I'm late, I'm late!"

The rabbit quickly opened the door and ran outside along a purple cobblestone path.

Alex walked up to the door and kneeled down to peer outside.

"I'll never fit through this door," she said bumping her shoulders on the doorjam.

Alex put the wand in her blouse pocket and her hand brushed upon bits of mushroom.

"The mushroom will help me get through this door!" she exclaimed pulling out both pieces up to her face.

She studied each mushroom for awhile, not knowing which would do which.

"I gave some to that old hag," she said looking at the smaller bit of mushroom. "In fact, I gave her quite a good portion, so this must be the one to make me little again."

Alex took a big bite of mushroom.

Immediately she started to shrink.

Her hair became shorter, her hips became less defined and her breasts shrank. Her clothes reduced in proportion with her diminishing body.

When it was through, she stood there and looked herself over.

She saw not the body of a beautiful young woman but the small body of the girl she was the moment she climbed through into this wonderland through the looking glass.

Immediately, she stuffed the mushroom bits back into her blouse pocket.

"Stranger and stranger," she said ducking through the tiny doorway and walking out into a garden of pink carnations along a purple pathway.

While skipping along down the cobblestone path, she realized her newfound energy was no compensation for loosing her wonderful adult body.

She briefly pressed her hands against her flat chest through the soft material of her blue dress. Already she missed having breasts, but at least she still had more mushroom left to grow up again.

"For now," she said to herself. "For now I shall stay this way. I can always eat more mushroom and grow up again. Besides, what if I find another tiny door and have to waste more mushroom going back and forth between being adult and child?"

Great circles of flowers decorated the the garden. Carnations everywhere.

She ran up to a fountain where more pathways joined up at a common point.

Small wooden signs displayed messages of warning along the other paths.

"Danger," she read. "No Boys Allowed. Go Back!"

She looked at another sign and it read: "Danger! No Girls Allowed! This is your last warning!"

On a whim, she headed up the path that warned against girls traveling along it.

About halfway through, she bumped into a great invisible barrier and fell back on her behind.

"What kind of magic is this?" she asked standing up, brushing the dust off her dress.

She glanced up the path and saw a great mansion on a hill.

A sign nearby read: "House of Mirrors"

"That's where I have to go!" she exclaimed feeling along the invisible wall. "I have to get past this shield and into that mansion! I came into this crazy place through a looking glass house, so the mansion of mirrors must be the way out!"

A giant grin appeared out of the carnations and floated over beside Alex.

"Well, my dear," the teeth said as the cat materialized around the grin. "You are going about this all the wrong way. The house of mirrors is the exit, however you are playing the game out of sequence."

"My name's Alex," Alex insisted. "Not Alice, and what game are you talking about?"

The cat took her hand and examined it in his paw.

"You still don't accept who you are?" the cat asked bringing her hand up before her eyes. "YOU, my dear, are a girl. YOU, my dear, are in the body of Alice. I do hope you get it straight pretty soon."

"Okay, okay," she said drawing her hand away. "I'm Alice then. Now tell me what game you are referring to."

The cat climbed up on invisible steps and lay down on in the air.

"Time," the cat replied.

"Time?" Alice asked, perplexed. "What does that mean?"

"The game has a time limit," the cat said yawning. "Pretty soon, you won't be able to go back. Pretty soon, you will have to stay as Alice. Pretty soon, you will have to remain in wonderland forever."

"How much time do I have left?" Alice asked, horrified at the thought of never getting out of this place, let alone never having the option of going back to her normal, male body again.

"The rabbit knows," the cat said smiling and vanishing into nothingness again. "Find the rabbit. The rabbit knows. Good bye Alice...... Good luck....."

She pounded on the invisible wall in frustration.

"I have to get OUT!" she cried, pounding her fists. "Let me OUT!"

Reluctantly, she realized she was wasting time and started to head back to the fountain and try the other path.

___-----___

Alice read the sign again. "Danger. No Boys Allowed. Go Back!"

She headed up the new walkway, wondering where it would lead.

The path meandered around some hills and ended at the brass gates of an enormous rose garden. She wandered under the great archway and found herself lost in a maze of rose bushes. Before she knew it, she was lost.

She ran faster and faster around turns and corners, looking for a way out.

Suddenly she came around a corner and saw a couple people, or rather a couple cards standing upon ladders, painting the white roses red.

"Hello," she said to them. "Can you help me find my way out of here?"

"Oh, my," the ten of hearts said. "Are you a little girl?"

Alice looked down at herself then back up at the ten of hearts.

"Yes," she replied. "But I just want to find a way out of here."

"You know," the seven of hearts said. "This garden is for girls only so please don't tell the Queen we were here."

"Yes," the ten of hearts agreed. "We planted the wrong roses here, and the Queen will be ever so upset if she finds out. That's why we're here, you see. To paint the roses red."

"That's nice," Alice said and pointed. "You think the exit is that way then?"

"Of course, on the one hand if we get caught," the seven said. "I mean caught being boys in a girls only garden, then the Queen will have the Wild Joker change us into a pair of girls."

"Yes," the ten agreed. "And on the other hand, if we get caught here painting roses red, the Queen will have our heads."

"Certainly," the seven said thinking for a moment before continuing. "Also, if she finds the white roses before we can paint them, then we loose our heads anyway, you see?"

"Yes," Alice said impatiently. "Look, I'm sort of running out of time. I just want to find the exit."

"Now we did try to put up detour signs to keep people away from the white roses until we could fix them, but then again, that never worked before," the ten said dipping a paintbrush into a bucket.

"Oh, yes," the seven agreed, painting another rose. "I have to agree with you there, ten. The detour plan was a bad idea from the start."

"I'll just go this way then, okay?" Alice said sneaking past.

"Just don't tell anyone we were here doing this," seven said.

"We don't want to be girls, you see," ten added.

"Or loose our heads or anything," seven said nodding.

Alice ran down the path and rounded another corner, then another and another.

"Will I ever find my way?" she asked running this way and that.

She came around one bend and felt someone's leg stick out under her, tripping her.

Alice fell face down into the grass and someone rolled her over onto her back.

Tiny hands felt in her pockets for a moment.

"Got it!" a little girl exclaimed holding up a mushroom.

It was the witch-girl!

Alice looked up at the girl's black dress with white ruffles along the edges. The girl certainly looked cuter this way with doe-like brown eyes and soft black hair, than her previous form.

"You're the witch," Alice said as the other girl kept a foot on top of Alice's tummy, holding her down to the ground.

"I didn't like you tricking me into being a little girl," the witch-girl said biting into the mushroom. "So, I had to find out where you might go next. I figured you'd try getting help from the Queen or something, so I came here. Lucky for me you still had these nice cookies with you. Lucky for me, you turned into a child so I could catch you. Thank you, young lady. Now watch as I finish off this cookie and turn back into an adult! Then I'll teach you a lesson!"

"Those are not cookies," Alice corrected the girl.

"Delicious!" the witch-girl said finishing up the rest of one mushroom.

"Hey!" Alice said watching the witch-girl transform and grow up into a beautiful young woman. "That's my ticket back to an adult!"

"Eeeee-he-he!" the witch exclaimed, smoothing her hands out along her newly formed waist and hips. "Oh, this fills me with a power like I haven't had in centuries! I feel so wonderful now....."

The witch reached down and pulled out another mushroom from Alice's blouse pocket.

"And this is the cookie that turned me into a child, right?" the witch asked with a crooked smile.

"No," Alice said shaking her head back and forth. "What are you going to do?"

"Where did you get these cookies?" the witch asked bringing the mushroom up to Alice's lips. "Tell me or I'll make you eat this. I'll turn you into an infant if you don't answer me."

"Monarch," Alice answered. "It's from Monarch. It's from his mushroom."

The witch released Alice and started to walk away.

"Thank you, young lady," the witch said. "I know of this Monarch. I will get a huge supply of these cookies and transform all of wonderland into children. Then I will take the Queen's place and rule forever over wonderland. Ah-ha-ha-ha!"

"Where are you going?" Alice asked sitting up.

"To transform the King and Queen into children," the witch replied with laughter. "To start my new reign as Queen over wonderland! Ah-ha-ha-ha!"

Alice stood up and chased after the witch, grabbing at her skirt.

"No!" Alice pleaded. "You can't do that!"

"Quiet!" the witch yelled and backhanded Alice across the face, tossing her to the ground. "I am the adult around here and you can't do anything to stop me, child. Go play with your dollies or something, little one. I have no time to be bothered by little girls."

Alice watched as the witch turned a corner and vanished into other parts of the garden.

Alice got back up to her feet and brushed off the dust from her clothes, then she reached into her blouse pocket and her eyes got wide.

"I still have the wand!" she exclaimed running on down the path. "There's still a chance. I still have a chance to stop her."

(to be continued...)

Contact the author at cleo@phuze.com

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Copyright 1998 by Cleo. All rights reserved.

 

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