Alice and the rabbit.., p.1
Alice and the Rabbit - A Shards of Heaven Story, p.1Amos T. Fairchild
Alice and the Rabbit
A Shards of Heaven Story
Copyright © Amos T. Fairchild 2011
Cover design copyright © Amos T. Fairchild 2011
Alice and the Rabbit
Alice knew she wasn't anywhere near drunk enough to be sitting on the manicured lawn in a quaint little garden looking at a large white rabbit, especially one quite so well dressed.
She thought hard and tried to retrace her steps before the fall. She had been at a wedding rehearsal, not a wedding reception, and so unless someone had spiked her drinks, the two she had drank in the last hour shouldn't have her seeing any costumed wildlife. She had been in a park, sure, but there had not been any forest nearby as she could now see, and the familiar city skyline was nowhere to be seen.
She was still in her jeans, that was a plus, so perhaps at least some of her mind was working. Not enough of it was functional for her to see the rest of the wedding party, unfortunately, so the white rabbit was it. Interestingly enough he did not have a watch, but he did wear a well tailored vest with 3 gold buttons and two small pockets. He also wore a silver monocle propped on his twitching little nose.
For a moment he just stood there blinking and said “Oh dear, oh dear” a number of times. Then he hopped a little nearer. “Are you all right my dear?”
Alice stared back at the strange little blinking bunny. Very few rabbits had ever spoken to her, indeed none at all, but she had been the target of plenty of jokes in school quite a few years past now. All she could do was nod while she was waiting to wake up. “I get it. Alice in Wonderland.”
The rabbit paused a moment longer as if waiting for more, then spoke as politely as ever. “Pardon me?”
Alice shook her head. “My name. Alice.” Then she remembered who and what she was speaking to. “Did Brian put something in my drink?”
There was a nod from the rabbit, his eyes closed a moment. “I am glad to make your acquaintance, Alice. You may call me Harold, as do all my friends.” He then carefully examined the new arrival to his garden a moment before pocketing the monocle. “I have heard Mrs. Parker's garden called many things, but never Wonder-Land I fear.”
Alice managed a frown, and she was not about to call the rabbit Harold. “It was a joke. Alice in Wonderland.”
Harold blinked absently yet again. “I don't understand the reference.”
“Its a book,” Alice explained. She thought to add that everyone knew of it, but then he was just a rabbit after all.
“Ah yes,” he said with another little nod. “Margaret in Wonderland. I understand the use of transposition.”
Alice could only shake her head. “The book is called Alice in Wonderland.”
The rabbit, however, was not easily swayed. “I think you will find it is Margaret in Wonderland.”
“No it isn't.”
“Historical references for the young, like Paul and the Beanstalk.”
Alice knew that she had to be crazy to be arguing with a rabbit. She wondered if it was actually Brian out there, distorted by whatever he had put in her drink. She was still compelled to point out that it was Jack and the Beanstalk.
The rabbit was taking it well in any case and remained as polite as ever. “I assure you I am very well read and have an extensive library,” Harold explained. “Perhaps you are injured from your fall? You may have bumped you head on Mrs. Parker's flagstones.” Harold returned his monocle to his nose and inspected the brown fur of Alice's scalp very carefully. “Perhaps you should come down to the house for milk and scones until you recover from your fall. It is Mrs. Parker's baking day.”
Alice could only frown. “I think I'm a little old for milk and cookies,” she tried.
The rabbit simply looked up and down yet again. “Well you do seem very large,” he said. “But I am not particularly familiar with common folk. How old would you be then?”
It took Alice a moment to remember how old she actually was and she wondered if perhaps she had fallen overly hard before she realized how stupid the thought was. “Twenty-three,” she blurted anyway, wishing more than anything to simply wake up.
Harold gave a thoughtful nod. “Twenty-three months would indeed be a mature age for the average rabbit,” he confirmed.
Alice wondered if the rabbit was trying to be funny. “Twenty-three years,” she tried to explain. “I am twenty-three years old.”
“Ah,” came then from Harold. “Well, twenty-three years would be a ripe old age for the average rabbit, of course. As I say, I am hardly familiar with your kind. Common folk such as yourself seldom travel in these parts these days.”
“And where would these parts be, exactly?” Alice knew she had to be crazy to even ask such a thing. “I don't think I'm in Kansas any more.”
“Pardon me?” came from the rabbit again.
Getting answers from an imaginary rabbit was not going to be easy, that was clear. “Where I come from the rabbits don't talk, so I assume this isn't Toronto.”
“Ah, of course. No. This is not Torr-on-Toe.” The rabbit then stood slightly more erect. “This would be Ailwood-on-Fenn – in the Shard of Finscéal, of course.” There was then a concerned frown and a slowly shaken head. “If rabbits do not speak where you are from, then I see that you are indeed a long way from home.”
Harold then backed away slightly. “Come to the house for a nice cup of tea then. That will help recover the senses after such a journey. Can you stand?”
Alice wondered about that. There had been too much to worry over to think of the little things. “I'm not sure I should even try,” she thought to say. Not while she was still talking to a rabbit at least.
“Well you would not do well to sit in the garden all day. You can magic yourself back to Torr-on-Toe from the house as easily as here, I am sure.”
Alice stared back. “I didn't magic myself anywhere. I work in accounting...” She paused, knowing she really had to stop explaining herself to the rabbit. There was also a nasty thought nagging, and that was she might well have been speaking aloud and that everyone at the wedding rehearsal was listening to every word.
The rabbit blinked more than usual, his nose on overtime. “Oh dear,” he said yet again. “Someone else magicked you here?” Alice kept her mouth firmly closed. “Do you have any magic of your own?” he then tried. “How will you return to Torr-on-Toe?”
Alice looked to the surrounding forest. There was still no sign of Brian or Liz or any of the others. “I suppose I will wake up soon enough.” Hopefully it wouldn't be in a psychiatric facility.
“There is an old turtle in the village,” Harold offered. “He knows much of the shards about, and has magic that is said to work on occasion. But first a rest and some tea I think. Mrs. Parker would never forgive me if I left you here to suffer in the gardens.” Again he backed away and beaconed for her to follow.
Alice took another look around her, taking more notice of the garden. It actually looked more like a slice of open woodland with a path and a few shrubs and flower beds. There were no dwellings nearby that she could see, but then a rabbit likely lived in some hole just out of view. She stood anyway, finding it more difficult than she thought it should have been. Whether she was standing in reality was another matter, and she could only hope that Brian was nearby to catch her if she fell or wandered into the nearby and unseen lake.
The rabbit stood slightly less than half the height of Alice, she noted once properly on her feet. Still very large for a rabbit, but that was not something she wished to dwell on for the moment. First she had to worry about walking, leaning forward as she struggled to put o
Fortunately it was not far, an unexpected Hansel and Gretel cottage appearing from behind the trees in just a few minutes. A gentle smoke drifted out from a chimney of the two story structure, and Alice peered in through the eye-level upper story windows as they came near. There were quilted beds on rug covered floors as well as quaint little chairs and dressers and assorted paraphernalia. All very rabbit sized, of course.
Indeed the front door of the cottage came barely to her waist, Alice left to stand there and frown. Harold simply looked her up and down again, speaking in a very matter of fact tone. “I think we should take tea on the lawn.”
There were chairs there on the side of the house facing a narrow stony lane, and a small white table on a lawn bordered by flowers of many colours with a low hedge beyond that.
“Sit, please,” Harold was saying. “I will fetch Mrs. Parker.”
Alice decided to sit on the grass rather than be impaled on a fragile piece of rabbit furniture, wondering if she was any nearer to waking up. At least her imaginary friend was gone, for a while at least, not that it helped very much. The cottage was still standing there and reality was elsewhere. Harold was back in moments anyway, and the rabbit with him in the pink lace rimmed dress had to be Mrs. Parker.
“Oh,” she exclaimed. “She is a big one.” Mrs. Parker then raised her voice and spoke very slowly. “How – are – you – feeling.”
Alice thought to answer, but Harold spoke first. “I don't think she is deaf, dearest. Nor does she appear to be stupid, just a little dazed and confused after being magicked out of Torr-on-Toe.”
“I wasn't... magicked anywhere,” Alice argued. “I've just fallen or fainted or something.” Then she thought a moment, her own voice raised slightly. “God-damn-it Brian, if I find out you did put something in my drink...”
The look of horror on Mrs. Parker's face brought Alice to an abrupt halt. “Oh dear,” she was saying, over and over in a very familiar way.
Harold place a paw on her shoulder. “As I say. Dazed and confused. A nasty fall and some serious magic I'll wager.” He looked then back to the cottage. “A nice hot tea I think.”
Mrs. Parker seemed unsure a moment before her smile returned. “Right you are. Would not be proper for a pretty thing such as this to have such a mouth when her mind was right, even if she be one of the common folk as it appears.”
With that she hopped back into the cottage, her skirts swishing across the grass, Harold left to stand there at the table. It was only then that Alice noticed something odd about the rabbit's attire, something that would not have normally seemed all that unusual at all. “You don't have any pants on,” Alice said, stating the obvious, ever hopeful that nobody heard other than her imaginary rabbit.
Harold looked down a moment, and if he was blushing then his white fur was hiding it well. “I don't know of any rabbits who wear pants,” he then said easily. “Do you?” Alice thought for a moment, but she had to admit that she didn't. “I certainly can understand why modesty and lack of fur would prompt one of the common folk to wear
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