Alice and Tiger sat on the ground of the second floor of the Fairytale Library. They each held a book, with their left hand holding it in place, and their right hand positioned to turn the page. They sat there, the two of them, turning the pages of their books simultaneously, and reading the words from right to left, rather than from left to right. This by itself would have been unusual in most circumstances, but what was most puzzling about this scene was that neither Alice, nor Tiger were reading any words, for the pages were blank.
Neither of them said a word.
Alice stood up and patted down her blue skirt. Tiger stood up and bounced three times around the room. They both gathered their books in their arms and then dropped them promptly on the wooden floor.
There was a librarian in the corner that was looking through a massive pair of spectacles that seemed to cover her whole face. She wore a faded orange tunic, grey hair and a frown. She snarled at Alice and Tiger.
“Ya think ya clever ay? Dropping them books on the floor like that? Well, I’ll tell ya-”
“Good evening Mam,” interrupted Alice curtily. Tiger opened his mouth to blow the librarian a raspberry, but Alice shut him up. “Tiger, do behave yourself.”
The librarian crossed her arms over her chest and glared at both Alice and Tiger in turn. “Y’all look familiar from somewhere… where ya fallas from, ay?” Alice lifted her chin, Tiger bounced up and down quickly on the spot five times.
“Where I come from, In Wonderland, it is not considered polite to talk to one about one’s hometown,” said Alice.
“And where I come from, I’m the only one!” shouted Tiger loudly.
“Shh!” whispered Alice and the librarian together.
“You are not the only one, Tiger,” corrected Alice sternly. “There is Winnie-the-Pooh, and Piglet, and Kanga and Roo. And Owl, and Eeyore and Rabbit and Christopher Robin too. You may be the only Tiger, but-”
“I know, I know.” Replied Tiger. “But there ain’t no Tiger 2!”
Alice rolled her eyes.
“Now, about them books…” said the librarian, eyeing them cautiously.
“Oh, those books are no good to us Mam, they are quite blank you see.” Said Alice.
“Very blank.” Said Tiger.
“Blank?” asked the librarian.
“Indeed,” replied Alice.
“Bring them ‘here then,” demanded the librarian.
Alice and Tiger picked up the books from the floor and walked towards the librarian. Both of their left legs walked at the same time, as did their right.
Left, right, left right…
They walked right over to the Librarian and dropped the books on the desk with a loud thud. The librarian put her hands over her ears and scowled at them.
Alice and Tiger waited for exactly three minutes and twenty two seconds in silence until the librarian uncovered her ears and spoke. “These books are blank ya say?” Alice and Tiger nodded. The librarian grunted rudely.
She picked up Alice’s book first. The Title read; ‘Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland.’ The librarian flipped through the pages, finding them blank, as Alice had foretold. Next, she picked up Tiger’s book. It read; ‘The Hundred Acre Wood.’ The librarian flipped through these pages as well, once again finding them blank.
Then all three of them were silent in thought.
"There are many reasons why there would be no words on the pages of these books," said Alice. "Yes, there are," agreed the librarian. "Like what?" Asked a confused Tiger. "Well, the author might not have written anything-"
"Well that's rather unlikely!"
"The Publisher may not have published anything-"
"The text could've faded over time-"
"The books new, so... no."
Eventually they all said; “I give up.”
Then an idea came to Alice’s mind. “Why, Tiger, these are our stories, are they not? Like, we’re the main characters?” Tiger bounced up and down and replied, “Well, you may be the main character in your story Alice, but I’m not. Winnie-the-Pooh is the main character of my story.” Alice tilted her head to the right, then to the left before saying; “But Tiger, If we are characters in these stories, and they are blank, then it must be because the story cannot be a story with a character missing, so the book that contained the story decided to erase the story from the pages.” Tiger looked confused, so Alice continued. “If a character is missing from the story, then all the times the character is mentioned won’t be in the story, they’re sort of…”
“Yes, yes exactly. The character is cut out, like cutting a piece of text from a newspaper article. This makes the story hard to understand, so the book containing the story cuts out the whole story until the characters return. If the story wasn’t cut out, then the story would be forgotten because nobody would want to read a story with parts missing from it.”
The librarian nodded thoughtfully. “So, if you are Alice from ‘Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland,’ and Tiger is from ‘The Hundred Acre Wood,’ then to restore the story back into the pages of these books, you must jump back inside them.”
Alice nodded. “Exactly. What do you say Tiger?”
Tiger had stopped bouncing during this discussion and was now pacing the floor. “Well, we can’t really jump back into the story if we don’t know how we got out of it in the first place. Then we can just go back in the same way we got out.” Alice stared at Tiger in wonder. “I thought you had nothing in that head of yours except for a pile of cotton wool!” She exclaimed.
Tiger glared at her. “What did you say?”
“Nothing! Now, how do we go about getting back into the story?”
Tiger groaned. “I just told you! We need to find out how we got out in the first place before we can do anything else!” Alice rolled her eyes again. “Maybe there still is a little bit of cotton in there…” she muttered. The librarian cleared her throat. “Tiger… it’s all very well to say we’ve got to find out how you are in the first place, but we can’t do that without knowing how you’re going to find out.”
“Good point,” admitted Tiger, “but I’ve already solved that little problem. We’ve got to go through our memories.” Alice shrank back. “But Tiger, you know perfectly well how dangerous it is to go back through our memories!”
Tiger frowned. “Yes Alice, I know it’s dangerous. But would you prefer it if nobody ever read your story ever again?” Alice gulped. “Not even once?” she asked. “Not even once,” replied Tiger. Alice breathed in and nodded her head at Tiger.
“Very well my friend, back through our memories we go!”
Going back through your memories was more than just remembering something. It meant physically walking through your memory bank to find a memory you needed. This was a very dangerous thing to do, because sometimes you could get stuck in the memory and never return to the present. When people have a near-death experience, they say that they ‘saw their life flash before their eyes.’ This is how you get into your memory bank. You catch the memory as it flashes before your eyes and then that transports you into that memory. So, Alice lay down on the floor and Tiger bashed his head against hers. They both felt a surge of pain shooting through their body and then their life flashed before their eyes. They caught onto the end of a memory and found themselves in their memory bank.
Alice wandered around her memory bank, pausing at every memory. She came across one when her sister Diana had pranked her. Alice watched as the memory played out.
Memory-Alice ended up crying and Memory-Diana laughed at her, calling her a cry baby and other unkind things. Alice kept flipping through her memories until she came to one that had happened only a few hours ago.
Alice ran away from the little cottage and towards the talking white rabbit with the pocket watch. She tripped over a log and fell. But instead of ground in the place where she fell, there was a black pit. She fell down, down down. Then thud, she was in the library in The Real World, with a book lying beside her which read; ‘Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland.’
Then Memory-Tiger had arrived on the scene. And that’s when they’d started leafing through the blank pages of their books together.
Meanwhile, in Tiger’s memory bank, he was looking at a memory of when he was playing with Christopher Robin and eating honey with Winnie-the-Pooh. He sighed and watched the memory fondly. Then, remembering why he was here in the first place, he flipped back through his memories until only hours before he’d arrived at the library.
Tiger bounced along the road with Winnie-the-Pooh, who was holding a big pot of runny honey, as always. Tiger bounced faster and faster until he was out of control. He saw a big black pit up ahead, and tried to stop himself, but could not. He then fell down, down and landed in The Real World, in a library. Then Alice arrived, and they read their books together flipping through the blank pages.
Then Tiger bashed his head against the wall of the memory and caught the present moment as it flashed before his eyes.
Alice landed back in the library and put a hand to her throbbing head. She began to stand up when a heavy black and orange creature landed on top of her, bowling her over. “Tiger!” She moaned, kicking him aside. The librarian stood over them tapping her foot impatiently. “So, do you remember now?” She asked. Tiger grunted and stood up. “Well?” Asked the librarian again. “Well…” began Tiger. “You see…” started Alice.
The librarian raised her eyebrows. “We fell into a black pit in our story, and then somehow ended up here.”
The librarian frowned. “That’s it? No magic or fairies or anything? Just a black pit?” Alice and Tiger nodded. The librarian straightened up. “Well then, how do you suppose you go back into the story?” Alice looked at Tiger, and Tiger looked at Alice. “Well-” they began. “Find another black pit that leads to Wonderland? Good luck with that!” The librarian interrupted sarcastically.
“And to the Hundred Acre Wood,” whispered Tiger.
The librarian grunted. Then Alice had an idea. “You know the saying; ‘Read between the lines?’”
“Well, we know that the story is hiding the book, right?”
“Yes, but what does that have to do with the saying; ‘Read between the lines?’” Asked the librarian.
“I’m just getting to that,” replied Alice. “We know that the story is being hid somewhere within the book, inside the books pages but not on them.”
“But how do we get into the pages?” Asked Tiger.
“We don’t,” said Alice.
“We read the spaces between where the lines would be if there was a story. That’s how we’ll find it.”
“But Alice,” said the librarian. “How can we read what is not there?” Alice grinned. “We use our imaginations. If anyone knows a story word for word, it’d be the characters from in the story. Tiger and I will simply imagine we’re reading the story by reading the story’s script in our heads. Every story character has a script inside their heads which tells them what to say and do inside their story, which is why the story always flows like it does, never changing no matter how many times we replay a scene.
We’ll simply read our script into the book and then the book will reveal the story in between the lines. In doing so, we’ll be transported back into the story, restoring it back to what it was!”
Tiger and the librarian looked at each other in wonder. Alice noticed their confused faces and asked, “Do you need me to explain again?”
Tiger and the librarian nodded.
Alice sighed. “Okay but you must be listening this time.”
Then Alice sat down and began…
“So, the story is hidden inside the book. To access the story, we need to be able to communicate to the book that we are the characters from inside it. To do this, Tiger and I will read the story’s script in our heads as if we were reading them in the book, if the story was there. Then, the story will reveal itself as we read, and then the book will know we’re the characters from the story, and it’ll open up a portal through the book, all we’d need to do was jump.”
She stood up and patted down her skirt again.
“Are we all in?”
They all bobbed their heads and held hands around the circle. “Okay Tiger, on the count of three. 3, 2, 1”
And they began to read.