Alice led Dorothy through the back door and into a narrow hallway. Just before they turned a corner, Alice stopped in front of a metal door and pushed it open. The metal screeched as it revealed a small metal balcony and Dorothy could not help but imagine it falling. When Alice slammed the door shut, the balcony vibrated and Dorothy immediately grabbed onto the railing.
“The screws are a little loose, so you might not want to lean on the railing,” Alice said with a small smile.
Dorothy nodded nervously in reply as Alice began climbing up a ladder against the brick wall. She could not wait to get off the balcony and once Alice was on the roof, she quickly handed Toto and the book to her before making her way up. She was not afraid of heights but she wasn’t a big fan of it either, so the moment she set foot on the uneven cement, she hurried away from the edges.
From the little time spent with Alice, Dorothy saw how different the two of them were. Unlike Alice, Dorothy would not sit with her legs dangling off the edge nor would she lean forward to examine a book in that situation.
“Where did you get this book?” Alice asked as she flipped through the traveller’s journal.
“In a secret library,” Dorothy answered. She would have explained further on how she ended up having it, but that was not the right time. “Anyway, I need you to return to Oz with me.”
“Return to Oz with you?” Alice asked with a chuckle.
“Yes. Only you can defeat the Queen of Hearts.”
“You’ve read this book, right?” Alice paused to wave the journal. She then added, “Then you’d know I did not defeat the Queen of Hearts. Instead, I failed.”
“You did not fail. The only reason why the Queen of Hearts is in Oz is because she left Wonderland. Something must have happened there.”
“Well even so, what do you expect me to do?”
“She’s afraid of you for some-”
“You want me to go to Oz and give her a scare?”
“I… well, maybe that could help? I mean, there has to be a reason why I was sent to get you,” Dorothy said, suddenly unsure on what she was doing.
“So you don’t know why you were sent here?” Alice asked with a little disbelief.
“All I know is that you can help us. You’ve defeated the Queen of Hearts before and you can do it again.”
“You have so much faith in me, and you don’t even know me,” Alice replied.
“Just come back to Oz with me and help me figure things out.”
There was a short moment of silence as Dorothy waited for a response. When Alice did not reply, the silence became a little awkward. Dorothy had the urge to break it, but before a word could escape her lips, Alice beat her to it.
“Do you know that these kind of talk could have us locked away in a nut house? The westerners have quite an influence here and they have set up a few nut houses along the way.”
The change of topic caught Dorothy off guard but she still managed a few words, “We’re not crazy.”
“Of course we’re not. And what I’m not going to do is follow you.”
“But, but we need you, Alice. Oz is in-”
“I didn’t say I wasn’t going, I just said I won’t be following,” Alice interrupted.
“Oh,” Dorothy muttered.
“Now, how do I get to Oz?”
Dorothy quickly pulled out the pouches she had prepared earlier and handed one to Alice. She explained how the magic worked and repeatedly told Alice to find an open area before setting the pouch on fire. Alice merely nodded when Dorothy was done, and Dorothy could not help but wonder if Alice completely understood her.
Alice told her that she needed a few hours before she headed to Oz and added that there was a construction site nearby. Apparently the ground had just been dug up and the workers did not work at night. Taking in the information Alice spared her, they parted ways.
As night fell upon the industrial town, Dorothy and Toto headed towards the construction site. It was strange to be walking against the tired crowd, but her mind was too occupied to notice the looks she was getting.
“Do you think she would come, Toto?” Dorothy asked when they finally reached their destination.
Toto gave her an assuring bark and trotted to the centre of the dug up soil. Finding comfort in her little companion’s faith, Dorothy followed after him and set the pouch down. Shortly after, there was a tornado nobody noticed and Dorothy was sent back to Oz.
Alice sat on her bed with the pouch in her hand. The clanks and thumps were absent in the night. Her father was having their home renovated and she escaped the noise by heading to the factory everyday. Who knew that that day would be the day her imaginations were confronted.
Honestly, there were nights where she wondered if Wonderland was all in her head. Her mother said she had an overactive imagination and her father was convinced it was just a phase. Alice was starting to believe them as the years went by but that day raised questions in her head.
The girl named Dorothy spoke convincingly about the Queen of Hearts. She also mentioned Wonderland and another world as well. Alice had never heard of Oz before, which made her wonder if Dorothy was part of her imagination too.
“At least the dog could not talk,” Alice said to herself as she slumped on her bed. “And I was definitely not dreaming. Old lady Lee saw her too.”
Looking at the pouch in her hand, Alice decided to give it a try. If it was just her imagination, burning the pouch would have no effect. But if it worked, then Alice would just have to save Oz.
Lazily getting up from her bed, Alice headed to the wall beside her large cupboard. Ever since she returned from Wonderland many years ago, she hid whatever she took with her in the wall. There weren’t many things, but they were things that kept her sane. If it weren’t for them, she would have admitted herself crazy.
Pulling out a loose brick, Alice reached in and pulled out a small box. Opening it, she took out the small sack filled with dried up rose petals and two playing cards. The memories of Hatter, the Queen of Hearts, and the world of Wonderland immediately flooded in. She remembered it being rather similar to home but more ancient and magical, and without realizing it, she began missing the place.
Stuffing the items into the pockets of her skirt, Alice headed to her table and retrieved a flintlock pistol, a few lead balls and a bag of gunpowder from a drawer. She also grabbed the matchbox beside it.
“Set fire only in an open area she said,” Alice thought out loud as she looked at the pouch. “The last time I came back from Wonderland, nothing changed.”
Looking at the calendar on her table, Alice took note of the date. It was 29 September 1938, and the clock on her table just ticked eight.
“Well, my room is big enough,” Alice added and placed the pouch on the marble floor. She then lit the match and knelt down to set the pouch on fire. Alice did not back away when the pouch began to burn, and she did not move an inch when the fire sizzled. Alice was so close to the pouch that when the tornado burst from the pouch, she was pulled in before she could even realize what was happening.
That day, there was no rabbit hole for Alice. There was just a very surprising tornado.