Copyright © 2000
Robert G. Ferrell
Wonderland: The Real Story
Even as a child, I found Alice's demure acceptance of the crap she
encountered in Wonderland a little hard to swallow. Not at all like any
of the girls I knew, who would have punched the caterpillar's lights out.
Here's my version what might really have happened.
Alice was sitting on the bank trying to read a book. The book was
full of little minor grammatical errors, unfortunately, so she was
completely unable to follow the plot, as she kept stopping to sort out the
way things should have been written. As she was rereading one particularly
confusing paragraph for the fourth time, a blur of movement caught the
corner of her eye. She glanced up, annoyed, to see a little white rabbit
in a nineteenth century waistcoat skitter by, muttering to itself. Not
period without the right pants, Alice thought. The rabbit took a watch
out of its pocket and studied it, fearfully,
muttering under its
breath about how late it was getting. At this point Alice decided that
something was a bit odd here: It wasn't late at all.
Alice left her frustrating book under the tree (Quercus stellata)
and pursued the rabbit, more out of boredom than anything else. The
rabbit's trail led through some low brush, then into a hole in the hedge.
Alice stopped here for a moment, wondering why she was doing this, but the
prospect of such a short story brought her to a decision to carry on with
the chase. She therefore dived into the brush, and almost immediately
found herself falling down an extremely deep rabbit hole. "Expletive!" she
As she fell, Alice noticed a fair number of shelves with objects on
them lining bits of the vertical shaft. She couldn't read the labels on
them (many of them were apparently jars of some kind) and she didn't try to
pick one up because she knew that the transfer of inertia would quite
probably break the jar and possibly her wrist as well. As a consequence,
she never found out what was in them, and what's more, she never cared.
Eventually Alice landed on a pile of sticks and other debris at the
bottom of the shaft. She wasn't killed, but sticks and debris aren't
exactly goose down, so she was bruised quite a bit. Mostly, though, she was
pissed at the stupid rabbit for living in a mine shaft in the first place. She got to her feet and groaned for a while, until she felt better. A few
feet from the pile of sticks she found the lifeless body of the rabbit, which hadn't
survived the fall. "Stupid rabbit," she muttered
to no one in particular. She took the little watch as a souvenir.
She was at one end of a long hallway, lined every few feet on either
side with doors. She tried the first few doors she came to, but they were
all locked. She examined the locks, and found them quite primitive. She
pulled out her Swiss Army knife and picked one of the locks in short order.
Behind it was a brick wall, with a sign which read:
NO EXIT THIS WAY.
Alice growled at the sign and slammed the door, loosening one of the
hinges. She felt smug about this and, satisfied, continued down the hall.
FOR EXIT, FOLLOW PLOT.
She came next to a small glass table. On the table was an even smaller
brass key, but Alice did not notice it at first because there were some
oily smudges on the table that drew her initial attention. After she had
rubbed the smudges off with her blouse, Alice saw the little key, and
picked it up. It was about the size of a Tic-Tac, and looked really useless. She turned it over in her hand a few times, then
slipped it in her pocket, just in case. A few moments later, Alice
spotted a tiny door, about six inches high, which she realized was about the
right size to accept the little key. She tried the door, and it was indeed
locked. She took out the key and made several attempts to fit it into the
minute keyhole, but it kept slipping out of her fingers. Eventually
Alice gave up and rammed her fist through the door which was, after all,
only six inches high and of proportionate thickness to its size.
She had to lie on her side to see out the door very well, and what she
saw was a garden. It resembled any other garden she had ever seen, and she felt
no desire whatsoever to investigate it further. She had run out of hallway,
however, and so Alice sat down by the table and thought about what to do next.
Just as she had decided to kick the heck out of one of the large doors, purely
for fun, Alice noticed a small bottle on the table, which definitely
hadn't been there earlier. Tied around the neck of the bottle with rough
brown twine was a sign with the words DRINK ME. Alice read this, and
wondered how anyone was supposed to drink a little cardboard sign. She
decided that the sign referred to the bottle's contents, so she popped off the cork and sniffed. It smelled a bit like chocolate syrup; she drank it all down in one gulp.
The ceiling, she noticed, was plaster, and the support beams were cedar.
There were quite a number of cobwebs everywhere, and they tickled her nose. She suddenly began to worry that there might be a spider in one of them, and got on her knees to avoid this potential menace.
She began to realize that she had grown about six feet, and wondered why
this was. It must have had something to do with the weird little bottle,
she concluded, but she couldn't get in the proper position to look for it.
In fact, she couldn't see the little table at all anymore. The whole
situation was definitely becoming absurd, and she knew it. Alice decided
therefore to dismantle the hall, piece by piece, until she came to
something that made more sense.
After a hour or so of satisfying demolition work, at the end of which time
the hallway, garden, table, mine shaft, and even the rabbit were all in pieces no
bigger than a matchbook, Alice suddenly woke up. She was lying beneath the
oak, with the boring book draped listlessly over one leg. Getting to her feet
and brushing the acorns and ripped up leaves off her pants, Alice
realized that the oak tree was annoying her by shedding all over her
whenever she sat beneath it.
She pondered what to do about this, then an idea struck her. As a slow
smile spread across her impossibly darling visage, Alice headed off to the
Home Improvement Center to buy a chainsaw.