“Oh dear! Oh dear! I shall be too late!” he said to himself and took a watch out of his waistcoat pocket. He looked at it and then hurried on.


    After another long day at work, Felicity was on her way home. She was walking down the street when she suddenly had a feeling someone was following her. She turned around but there was no one there, so she kept walking. And then she heard a timid voice just behind her.

    “Wait . . .”

    It was a young girl with shoulder-length blond hair and striking blue eyes, wearing a childish blue dress. They looked at each other for some time in silence. Felicity could swear she had seen the girl before, but couldn’t recall where.

    “Who are you?” Felicity broke the silence.

    “My name is Alice.” The girl curtseyed.

    Felicity was about to shake the girl’s hand, but her own hand was somewhat sticky, so she greeted her with a smile instead. “Nice to meet you, Alice. My name is Felicity.”

    There was another moment of silence, and they looked at each other again. The girl with her beautiful hair and perfect clothing seemed so unreal to Felicity, as if she had stepped out of a fairy tale. Next to her, Felicity felt like Cinderella with her clothes stained and hair greasy after a long day at the fast food restaurant, where she worked as a waitress.

    “I’m looking for help,” the girl said.

    “I’m sorry, what did you say?” Felicity felt bad she was not listening to the girl, but she couldn’t stop thinking why even the girl’s name sounded so familiar.

    “I found something that belongs to my friend.” The girl showed Felicity a pocket watch. “And I need to give it back to him before it’s too late.”

    It was a beautifully handcrafted pocket watch with such elaborate engravings Felicity couldn’t take her eyes off it. Looks like the kind of watch Sherlock Holmes would have worn, she thought.

    “Where did you find it?” Felicity asked.

    “In the park, right across the street.” The girl held out her hand, inviting Felicity to follow her. “Please, help me find my friend!”

    Helping people had only caused Felicity problems, like two weeks ago when she tried to help an elderly woman with her grocery bags and ended up explaining to the police officer she wasn’t a thief. On the other hand, finding girl’s friend in the park shouldn’t be a problem.

    “All right,” Felicity said. “Let’s go.”

    They crossed the street and walked straight to the entrance. The park was surrounded by thick hedges, and Felicity wondered why she had never noticed it before.

    The girl took her to a small hole in the ground just behind the hedge. “This is where I found the watch.”

    Felicity looked at the hole, then at the girl, then back at the hole.

    “Could you please hurry up?” The girl pushed Felicity gently towards the hole.

    Felicity wasn’t sure what the girl wanted her to do, but then the girl pushed her harder and Felicity disappeared into the hole.


    Felicity found herself falling down what seemed to be a deep well. It was so dark she couldn’t see anything, so she closed her eyes and waited for the worst to come. But when nothing happened, she opened her eyes again and saw cupboards and bookshelves emerging from the sides of the well. And just when she though it couldn’t get weirder, she heard a voice saying something about skipping the pool of tears, caucus race and long tale, and, if lucky enough, the caterpillar, and going straight to the Rabbit’s house to give him back his pocket watch, so he can arrive on time to the Queen’s croquet game and the Queen won’t cut off his head for being late.

    This is insane, Felicity thought. I must have injured my head and now I hear voices and have hallucinations.

    But then she realized she had already heard someone saying something about losing a head earlier that day, but couldn’t remember where. This is definitely not my lucky day, she thought and tried to recall the events that occurred earlier that day.

    She had been late for work, again. She would love to blame traffic or bad weather, but truthfully, she was stuck in a hole of Oprah Winfrey clips on YouTube. She also remembered there was a customer complaining about slow service during the lunch rush hour and she was not very kind to him.

    That’s it! It was her boss who said she shouldn’t lose her head when dealing with difficult customers.

    Felicity was relieved that the fall hadn’t caused amnesia, but still, she couldn’t explain how she ended up in a well. And when she saw the girl falling right next to her, she started to doubt she was awake at all.


    Either the well was very deep or she fell very slowly; it took her quite a while to reach the bottom. When the fall was finally over, she found herself upon a heap of sticks and dry leaves next to Alice.

    Alice jumped up on to her feet and urged Felicity to hurry up, saying that the Rabbit’s head was at stake. Terrified, Felicity checked if her own head was still there, and to her surprise it was, so she got up and followed Alice, who was already hurrying down a long passage. But then Alice turned the corner and was no longer to be seen.

    Felicity found herself in a long, low hall with many doors of all sizes all round it. She tried every door, wondering if Alice could have entered one of them, but they were all locked. Felicity couldn’t believe she was left alone, but then she heard footsteps in the distance and ran towards the sound.


    Felicity found Alice in front of a neat little house, which Alice entered without knocking. Felicity stayed outside, examining the neighborhood, which seemed calm and quiet. However, she didn’t have to wait long to hear the bad news — Alice’s friend wasn’t at home.

    Alice sat down on the doorstep. “He will be late,” she said. “He will definitely be late.”

    Felicity didn’t want to be rude and show no compassion, but she had to tell Alice that her obsession with beheading was nonsense. “Your friend will be fine. No one cuts your head off just because you are late.”

    “They do it here.” Alice sighed.

    “Do they?!” Felicity’s jaw dropped in surprise, as she realized her own head could very well be cut off for regularly being late. “What is this weird place?” she whispered. “And why are we here?”

    “Because we are mad,” Alice said.

    “I beg your pardon?”

    “We are all mad here. I’m mad, you are mad.”

    “What makes you think I’m mad?”

    “You must be,” she said, “or you wouldn’t be here.”

    Felicity’s eyes opened wide. “Is this place . . .  a madhouse?” Shocked, she covered her mouth with her hand and then something weird happened — a very large grin appeared on Alice’s face and she turned into a large cat.

    She is right, Felicity thought, horrified. I’m mad.

The cat grinned from ear to ear, as if it had heard her. Felicity closed her eyes. When she opened them, there was just Alice sitting on the doorstep.

    “I’m sorry, did you say something?” Alice asked.

    “Never mind,” Felicity said. She wanted to help Alice and her friend, but didn’t know how.

    “Of course!” Alice exclaimed. “We need to find the mushroom!”


    While Felicity was trying to figure out how finding a mushroom could save Alice’s friend from beheading and Alice was wondering which way to take, a sharp bark made them turn their heads. It was a little puppy eager to play.

    “I’m sorry, my dear little friend,” Alice said. “I’m afraid we can’t play with you right now. Will you excuse us, please?”

    Unfortunately, the puppy was not impressed by Alice’s extreme politeness, so they had to think of something else to distract it. Suddenly Felicity found her pockets full of cookies.

    “How about a little treat?” She emptied her pockets in front of the puppy.

    The puppy seemed to like the treats, but just when it had finished eating the last cookie, two more heads grew on its shoulders and all three heads started to bark at Alice and Felicity.

    “Run!” Felicity shouted to Alice and they both ran, leaving the three-headed puppy behind.

    “Oh my God! I have to get out of here,” Felicity muttered, gasping for breath.

    “Once you are in, you can’t get out,” someone whispered in her ear, and it wasn’t Alice.

    Felicity panicked, as she didn’t see Alice anywhere. “I will never find the way out on my own!”

    “There is no way out,” the same voice spoke again, but this time from afar.

    “Stop talking to me!” Felicity shouted and stopped abruptly. “Who are you? Show up!”

    “Are you all right?” Alice was approaching. “Who were you talking to?”

    “No one.” Felicity was relieved to see Alice again. “Let’s go.”


    Felicity wasn’t sure if they found the mushroom or it was the mushroom that found them, but it suddenly appeared as if by magic. And when she saw it, she couldn’t believe her eyes — a large blue caterpillar was sitting on the top of it and smoking hookah.

    As they approached, the caterpillar moved its head very slowly and looked at them for some time in silence. Then it took the hookah out of its mouth and spoke to them in a sleepy voice.

    “Who are you?”

    Alice was about to reply, but the caterpillar stopped her.

    “Not you, her.” It pointed at Felicity with the hookah hose.

    “I’m a writer.” She wished it was true, but it wasn’t.

    “Interesting, very interesting,” the caterpillar said.

    Felicity had always wanted to be a writer, but she also liked eating regular meals and having a roof over her head, so she opted for the job at the restaurant. After all, she was still young and could become a writer later on.

    “Listen, we are looking for her friend Rabbit.” Felicity got straight to the point. “Have you seen him?”

    Felicity and Alice waited, wondering if the caterpillar could tell them something worth hearing.

    And then it spoke again. “Are you a good writer?”

    “You don’t really care about her friend, do you?” Felicity was about to lose her temper. “He is in danger!”

    “So you are not. Interesting, very interesting.” The caterpillar yawned.

    This conversation wasn’t heading anywhere, so Felicity told Alice they should better go. Alice nodded and broke off two pieces from the mushroom. “For us to grow taller and shorter.”

    “I haven’t seen anyone.” The caterpillar put the hookah back into its mouth.

    Alice looked at the watch. “The croquet game is about to start. We have to go.”


    They hurried back to the hall with many doors, as one of them led to the garden where the Rabbit was supposed to be playing croquet, hopefully with his head still on his shoulders. The door was open, but it was so tiny they didn’t fit.

    Now the mushroom makes sense, Felicity thought, wondering if anything at all made any sense. Anyway, Felicity didn’t have any experience with magic mushrooms, so she let Alice eat it first. When she saw Alice shrinking, she also ate her piece of mushroom and waited for its magic.

    When both of them were tiny enough, they entered the garden. It was the most beautiful garden Felicity had ever seen, with bright flowerbeds and cool fountains. She was so amazed by its beauty she completely forgot about the extreme makeover she just had and didn’t even notice there were three gardeners painting white roses red near the entrance. Felicity wanted to stay there longer, but Alice was already on her way to the croquet ground.

    They ran so fast they were soon out of breath. Alice couldn’t run anymore, so she stopped.

    “You have to save the Rabbit!” She gave Felicity the watch. “Don’t let the Queen hurt him!”

    “Don’t give up, you can make it!” Felicity didn’t want to leave Alice alone. What if these mad people want to cut off Alice’s head while I’m away?

    “Please, you have to save him,” Alice whispered, trying to hold back the tears that were streaming down her face. “He is my friend.”

    Felicity was so confused she didn’t know what to do. But she was Alice’s only hope, so she ran.


    Felicity was so exhausted she barely made it to the croquet ground. It was the weirdest croquet ground ever, with ridges and furrows, live hedgehogs as croquet balls, and live flamingos as mallets. The game itself was hard to follow — the players fought all the time and didn’t take turns.

    Felicity was desperately looking for someone who could be the Rabbit, but she realized she didn’t even know what he looked like or his real name. Suddenly she felt dizzy and thought she was going to faint. Must be some kind of side effect, she thought. But then the game stopped and a large crowd gathered in the middle of the ground.

    There was a dispute going on. Felicity found it hard to make out exactly what it was about as everyone spoke at once, but then she heard, very clearly, a voice shouting “Off with his head!” and saw an ax in the air.

    “Noooo!” she screamed and woke up in her bed. Her hands were shaking and her heart was racing. “It was just a dream,” she said to herself, “just a dream.”

    But then she saw a very old pocket watch lying on her night stand. She took a closer look at the watch and noticed there was also a small note next to it, which read “Follow the White Rabbit.”

    What could that mean? she wondered. Then someone knocked at the door . . .

February 28, 2020 18:01

You must sign up or log in to submit a comment.


Shirley Medhurst
12:54 Mar 05, 2020

A bewitching alternative to the old classic tale.


Show 0 replies
Sarthak Raghav
04:37 Mar 05, 2020

Enjoyed reading all the supernatural elements in this very gripping story. Once you began, you had to complete it. There was a lack of description at some places like the part when the voices start to shout about beheading. The Caterpillar part was very well described, I can even now see it sitting on that magic mushroom smoking hookah. I from the moment that the pocket watch appeared knew that it was going to be the thing which was going to continue the dilemma so that part was predictable. I want to read the next part for sure. Also, I s...


Show 0 replies

Bring your short stories to life

Fuse character, story, and conflict with tools in the Reedsy Book Editor. 100% free.