My eyes fluttered open, flicking little specks of crust off of them. My surroundings are dark, with no traces of light anywhere. Panic creeps up on me, starting at my toes, shooting up my body until I’m fully engulfed in pure anxiety. Where am I?
Who am I? I shake with fear as I try to remember a tiny speck of anything. Think! I scramble around the inner depths of my mind searching for a clue, but nothing is there. Why is it so dark in here? Where is here?
I can’t even tell if my own eyes were open or shut, if I’m standing or sitting. Desperately, I flail my arms around, looking for something, a wall, a table, a light switch, anything. A quick and piercing pain shoots up my arm, starting directly at my fingertips. I’ve struck something porous and rough, yet at the same time smooth. A rock, maybe? A rock wall? Perhaps I'm in a cave.
What could I, whom ever I was, be doing here in a cave, most likely in the middle of nowhere? There was something strange though, as I had said, about this rock-strewn wall. It was stony and rough, yet something seemed vaguely faux about it. I had scraped up against it up against it with full on force, yet no blood was felt at my fingertips. There was, in a definite way, a certain softness to the wall. It must be plastic. That means, if they were plastic walls, I could check cave off the list of places I might be.
I began to run like a mad man along the plastic rock wall. If it wasn’t a cave, there could be the possibility; there was hope that there was a light switch. I wandered like a blind person, which I very well be, along the walls. My hands felt nothing, but my feet felt differently. My knee had brushed over something a couple feet back, but I kept going. Finally, I had felt it. The light switch, the answer to all my questions in that magical moment. I practically started crying with joy then.
My trembling fingers flipped it up, and florescent lights flicked on one at a time. They cast an eerie blue light on everything in the room. The lack of everything in the room is the better description.
The walls were a plastic rock and I wasn’t in a cave. Where I was remained a mystery to me. The ceiling was high, twenty feet or so, and rounded outward at the top, making the shape of a half sphere was rough, brown rock colored walls.
The room itself was nearing towards the empty side. It had a table placed right in the center of it, and what appeared to be a bottle, mini cake, and four little cards on it. I now found out what scraped up against my knee while I was searching for a light switch was a door. A door almost too small for me to fit through, but if, worse came to worse, I could shimmy through. Opposite of the door was what looked like a standing mirror, but was too cloudy to see anything.
Instantly, I bolted for the door, which had “Three things cannot be long hidden: the sun, the moon, and the truth.” carved into it. My shoes, worn out sneakers, strode along the ugly brown cement floors. I get down on both knees and yank at the door, but, much to my chagrin, the door is locked. Just my luck. Perhaps a key could be found. I stood up and searched myself. Whoever put me in here couldn’t have wanted me to stay still, right? Nothing was in my pockets, nothing in my shoes, nothing. Absolutely nothing. Again, I try to think of anywhere the key could be hidden or placed. The table?
I walked towards the round table. It was sturdy, most likely used as an end table because of its size, though. It was crafted out of a deep brown wood, which matched the cloudy mirror. On end of the table was a small bottle with a note on it saying ‘Drink me’ and a cake with icing spelling out ‘Eat me’. At the far end of the table was three plastic cards, all turned over and blank, and the key to the tiny door with the quote on it. The key was rusty and frail so I grabbed it slowly, yet it was seemingly glued to the table. No matter how hard I pulled, it wouldn’t budge.
Instead of struggling over the key, I turned my attention to the plastic cards. I felt as if I needed to flip at least one over. Since there were three lined up vertically, I naturally flipped over the middle one, and looked at it carefully. On it, I saw what seemed to be the ID card of a teenager named Alice Kingsleigh. Was this me?
I stared at the ID in awe. Out of the corner of my eyes, I saw the mirror in the back of the room clear up. It was truly amazing. As soon as I had seen this Alice girl, the mirror cleared, only to reveal an exact look alike to the girl on the ID card.
It was creepy, looking at the picture, then at myself. We had the same long blonde hair, the same small nose, the same everything. I opened my mouth to smile, as the girl in the picture did. Mine were the same perfectly white teeth as hers. I was Alice, Alice Kingsleigh.
After admiring myself in the mirror, I turned my focus back to finding a way out of here. As far as I was concerned, the fact that I had found out who I was didn’t change anything. I was still alone and afraid.
My eyes darted across the room for another key, but they found nothing. I looked back at the table, maybe the other two ID cards could help me in some. When my eyes met the spot where the cards laid, or used to, nothing was there. They had disappeared right before my very eyes, and the one that was firmly grasped in my hands was the only one left. I was speechless and utterly confused.
Something else was strange about the table now that the two other cards were gone. The items on the table had reorganized themselves. The small bottle and cake were now at the further end of the table and the key was at the front, about a foot away from me. It looked like freedom at first, but I had doubt.
My mind had to be playing tricks on me. I had to be dreaming. This was too crazy to be reality, right? I honestly couldn’t tell if I was dreaming or not, and a new problem began to spring out. Panic-stricken, I spun around fast and walked around the room to see if there was any speck of true reality anywhere in the room, and dim hope that this wasn’t real, or that it was a dream. I had found nothing but the spot shifting on the table to confirm this was a dream, and my heart sank. This was real, and I was trapped.
The key. Try the key again every cell in my body screamed. It was my only hope, and I had to try it. I sauntered back to the table and tried the key again. My fingers wrapped around the top of the key, I grasped hard, and pulled. Much to my surprise, it wasn’t five hundred pounds anymore. I picked it up with greatest of ease, actually.
The key itself was rusty and looked around two hundred years old. It was cast iron, brittle and worn due to years of use. I felt like, by mistake, I could snap it in half without trying. At the bottom there were two tiny teeth sticking out from the thin middle rod. The top consisted of an inch wide hollowed out circle with a ‘W’ in the empty spot.
Around the outside of the circle, a piece of paper and string was attached to the key. Gingerly, I pulled on the string and took ahold of the piece of paper. It was yellow and worn. The paper looked as old as the key and more breakable. On the paper, in beautiful cursive handwriting, was written ‘Kill the Hatter’.
My mind filled up with so many more questions. Who was the Hatter? Where is he? How could I ever manage to kill someone? Did I have to kill him? What would happen to me if I didn’t? My heart raced at the thought of killing another human. I didn’t have it in me to take the life of another.
Since the key, hopefully to the door, was in my possession, I decided to try it carefully on the door. I got on my knees, and examined the door. It was small, around three feet tall and two feet wide. I started to doubt that I could squeeze through it. It had purple paint smeared on and the quote “Three things cannot be long hidden: the sun, the moon, and the truth.” Engraved and painted in gold on it. The door knob and tiny keyhole matched the color of the letters, gold, but it, too, showed the same signs of aging as the other objects in the room..
Carefully, I inserted the key, making sure not to accidently snap it in half in the keyhole. The soft click of the door unlocking gave me tremendous relief. I felt the muscles in my back loose as I sigh with liberation. I was free in sprit, but my mind told it couldn’t have been that easy. Slowly, I turned the knob of the door and opened it.