A Far Cry From Wonderland, are Dreams Such as These…
In some ways, my novel is comparable to Alice’s adventures; both stories deal with a girl’s journey through an odd, fanciful world. Tonight, I feature the section of Four Petals that is most inspired by and similar to elements from the Lewis Carroll novel.
This blog post will also introduce you to another character from the Four Petals novel. He is a startling character that Fiona encounters in the strange woods, and he is far different from any of the characters introduced before. You may find the scene slightly reminiscent of the ‘UnBirthday’ scene from the Alice and Wonderland movie, albeit a little more dark and a lot more twisted. Enjoy the excerpt.
At a clearing in the forest…
All the animals were sitting quietly at the table, vacant and expressionless. There were about a dozen of them. Each pair of eyes trained on the empty plates and unused silverware in front of them. There was complete and utter silence. It was a thick silence, the kind of silence that comes not from lack of noise, but from the thickness of the air coming down so heavy on all the sounds that none of them can move around or raise up to be heard. Every once in a while, though, a single sound can squirm lose from the heaviness of all that air; it can wriggle free and get just enough room to softly slip into an ear.
The long rabbit ears flitted, just slightly, as they picked up the hint of a noise– Just one tiny, wriggly hint of a noise that had managed to twist free of all that weight. Underneath the ears, The Bunny Man slowly lifted his head. From beneath the scars on his forehead, his one good eye- shiny and silver- scanned the listless faces of the animals around the table. He wore a severe scowl on his face, very displeased from having been disturbed.
He looked to the trees just beyond the table, and squinted to find the blurry shape of a figure emerging from the woods. The empty socket on bad side of his face creased and wrinkled as he strained to make out the shape. He groaned from the pain, but the air crushed the sound as it left his mouth. As the blurry entity approached, it took the figure of a girl, and the Bunny Man clenched his misshapen teeth at the sight. Then he simply put his head back down toward the table.
It was only the Bunny Man who noticed as Fiona walked up. She stumbled upon the scene as if she did not notice the thick air and the silence. But she did notice the strangeness.
“Dear me, what are you all doing?”
Tortoise whispered from his seat, still looking down. “Nothing.”
Tortoise very cautiously lifted one eye. He started to speak, but the Bunny Man interrupted him quite sharply, before he uttered a word.
“Nothing,” Bunny Man snapped.
“Okay.” Fiona responded hesitantly. She looked around. All of the animals were still staring blankly, almost mindlessly, at the table. Each pair of eyes appeared empty and glazed over. Then she noticed it. The quiet. The strange, heavy quiet. Fiona didn’t understand what was happening, but she had a sense that it was something very bad. She started to feel a sense of panic. “Am I interrupting something?”
The Bunny man replied again, very slowly, and still looking down at his plate. “You most certainly are not.”
Fiona was confused. Without even realizing it, she had started back-peddling toward the woods. Another wrong turn, she thought. Another place I don’t belong. Her feet were moving faster and faster— towards the trees. Just as she felt the gentle touch of leaves on her back, she ventured one last look towards the table. Bunny Man’s head swung suddenly upward. His eye flashed open and locked with Fiona’s. His words were jagged. They cut through the silence like a knife. “Why won’t you join us?”
Fiona was nervous, she tried not to show it. “But you all are just sitting there, Mister Bunny Man. From the looks of it, you aren’t doing anything at all,” she said.
“Yes.” The Bunny man stared back blankly, through a hollow gray eye. “We are not doing anything at all.”
“Then…” Fiona swallowed her own spit. “…then with all due respect, Mister, why would I want to join you?”
The Bunny man gnashed his teeth. He seemed to ignore Fiona’s question. “We are not celebrating Mouse’s anniversary,” he said.
Fiona looked across the table. Mouse was sitting at the very far end, her eyes were averted, like all the rest, downward at her empty plate. There seemed to be a quiet sadness about her. Fiona glanced back at the rabbit, who’s one-eyed gaze seemed to burning through her skull. She tried to be courageous. “Oh, Well did you ask Mouse how she felt about missing her anniversary, Mister Bunny?”
“Its mister Bunny Man!” snapped the rabbit. He gnashed his teeth down hard. “And don’t you mind Mouse. She fully understands the situation.”
“Well if you ask me, that seems a bit rude, and—”
“–No one asked you!” Gnashed Bunny Man. “We’ve decided that there is no reason that Mouse’s anniversary should be any more important than any other day. We did not celebrate anything yesterday, and we have nothing to celebrate tomorrow. So it is only fair that we will not celebrate anyone’s anniversary today.”
Bunny Man was glaring at Fiona. “You don’t have a problem with any of that, do you?”
Fiona shook her head. She decided it was not her place to argue the way things were done here in the Forest.
“Good,” said the Bunny Man. “And since you have no reservations, you will of course join us in our un-celebration.”
Fiona wanted to refuse, but the menacing scowl from the Bunny Man persuaded her to reconsider. Searching for an open seat, she slowly made her way around the table, shuffling past chairs and inching behind the backs of dejected, hunched-over animals. She found an empty spot next to Mouse and reluctantly knelt down at the table.
“Oh Good!” Hooped the Bunny Man. He raised an empty teacup in hollow cheer. “We are so very glad to have your company, Fiona. Not celebrating tends to be exceedingly dull, and it always seems to make the situation a bit more tolerable when your friends are present.”
Fiona sat quietly on her knees for what seemed like ages. Her legs were beginning to get sore, and all the time she felt the unwavering eye of the Bunny Man perpetually burning a hole through the top of her bowed head. There were moments when Fiona thought she also felt the timid eyes of a tortoise rest upon her, or a sideways glance from a crestfallen squirrel, or a fleeting peek from a pondering parakeet, but before long the creatures would be again be fixed to the empty table– heads forced downward by fear and heavy air. The wandering eyes did not rest on Fiona long— she could feel that— but they touched her for just long enough to remind her that she was indeed in the presence of friends, and that many of those gathered around the table were not just animals, they were her companions. Fiona could feel tears welling up in back of her eyes. She held them back though, not wanting to appear weak or vulnerable to the ever-vigilant Bunny Man.
The rabbit ground his teeth. He looked over at Fiona, who was staring dejectedly down at her empty soup bowl.
“Cheer up Kiddo. It’s not so bad if you don’t make it out that way. It’s all a matter of perspective. Try to understand- this day, these circumstances are simply not important enough to merit such a gloomy disposition.”
Fiona did not look up. She refused to as much as acknowledge the Bunny Man’s comments.
“Oh my Dear, foolish Fiona,” The Bunny man continued,” louder than before. “Can’t you see the inconsequentially of this moment, of this day? You say it is rude not to celebrate Mouse’s anniversary, when in fact it is the only honest thing to do. Today does not deserve our celebration any more than yesterday. The sun rose today, no different than it will tomorrow.”
The Rabbit clicked his incisors. He raised his voice higher to address the entire table. “The world goes on dear chaps, Spinningspinningspinning in monotonous infinity! The fox forever chases! We are born and we die, and our short tenure here is of little or no significance to the universe at large!”
The Rabbit lowered his voice again, and looked squarely at Mouse as he continued to speak. “So my best advice to you, my friends, is to simply pretend that today is any other day. That is the point after all- there is ABSOLUTELY NOTHING special about today.”
Fiona heard tiny tear-drops tapping the ground beside her. She checked her eyes with a finger, but the tears were not hers. From the haze of her peripheral, Fiona discerned the miniature figure of Mouse. Her furry little head was bowed in silence, and tiny beads of water were forming on the tip her snout.
Fiona began to shake visibly with anger. “I do not have much tolerance for bullies. Especially ones with oversized teeth and silly Bunny ears.”