“Just click your heels three times and say ‘there’s no place like home,’” the beautiful white-dressed witch told her.
“Are you sure?” asked Dorothy with an innocent, whimsical expression.
“Oh yes, quite sure.” The witch patted her on the head and laughed at her quaint little question.
“Well, okay…goodbye.” Dorothy turned to the scarecrow, lion, and tin-man she’d met on her journey.
“Goodbye Dorothy, we’ll miss you,” Scarecrow said, speaking for the group.
“Yes. And I’ll miss you too.” She fidgeted in place, and then pushed her ruby slippers close together. “There’s no place like home,” she said, clicking her heels together. “There’s no place like home.” She clicked them a second time. “There’s nooooo…”
Her eyes became heavy, so she shut them. Her head felt woozy, and she held onto her bed post. A great wave of tiredness swept over her. She decided to lay down on the bed.
“Dorothy?” came the sound of a distant, familiar voice. She felt herself being shaken, but couldn’t find the strength to open her eyes. She slept for a few more hours. “Dorothy, please wake up!” The voice was more panicky, as if it was pleading with her. With all the will she could muster, she forced open an eye and found her dear old aunt standing at her bedside.
“Oh Auntie Em!” Dorothy said, springing from her bed to hug her aunt tightly. “It was horrible, there was a twister—“
“Yes we know Dorothy, we’re just glad you’re okay.”
“Oh yes, but the twister.It took me to the land of Oz!”
“Oh?” Em said, rubbing Dorothy’s forehead and helping her lie back down on the bed.
“Yes, but the good witch helped me escape thanks to the ruby—“ She stopped at the sight of her bare feet. “Auntie Em, where are my shoes?”
“Oh I took them off dear.” She patted her bare feet. “No shoes on the bed.”
“Yes but my slippers—“
“They’re right here.” Em said, holding up a pair of old grey shoes. “You can put them on when you’ve got your strength back.”
“Now you just lay here while I go look around the farm.” Em patted her head one last time and walked out of Dorothy’s room, shutting the door behind her.
Almost on cue, Toto hopped through the window onto her bed, snuggling up beside her. “Toto, you were there!” Dorothy said. “You remember it, don’t you?” The dog could give no reply, though Dorothy could swear she found a poppy seed buried in his coat. “It was real,” she told herself. “I know it.” She hopped off the bed and put on her old grey shoes, giving a harrumph as she did. “We’ve just got to find that fortune teller; he’ll help us.”
It seemed like ages since she’d ran away from home on the day of the twister; she’d forgotten how far away the fortune teller was – if he was even in the same place. “Oh Toto,” she said, worryingly, “I don’t think we know where we’re going.”
The little dog, meanwhile, had been squirming to escape Dorothy’s clutches. Dorothy was oblivious to this, however. “Perhaps it’s this—no… Or maybe this way…” Each way she turned seemed to be the wrong direction. “I don’t suppose you know—” Before she could finish her thought the dog broke free and took off. “Toto wait!”
The dog doubled back a good half mile, then turned off road into a spooky wooded area. “No, no Toto, I would have remembered this place. We didn’t come this way.” But it was no use; the dog was pressing on.
The trees were thick, obscuring the sun but for a few small pockets of light. Dorothy weaved through trees small and great, having lost not only her way, but her little dog too.
“Toto, come back!” She called out, but no response came. After several minutes of chasing after him, she stopped to assess her bearings. Spinning in place and looking in all directions, Dorothy realized she was completely lost.
Suddenly there was a rustling in a bush a few yards away. “Toto?” she called out. But instead of her small trusty dog, another animal jumped out: A small white rabbit.
Strangely, though, this rabbit was not like a typical woodland creature. He had a brown bag strapped to his back, and he was clearly carrying something too heavy for him. Still, he gave it his best effort. He ran on all fours, but every few steps he would spring to his hind legs and run like a man.
Abandoning her search for Toto, Dorothy ran after the rabbit overwhelmed with curiosity. “Wait, come back!” she called out after moments of chasing. The rabbit stopped in its tracks, now aware that he was being followed. He spun around to face the little girl and then…he shook his head ‘no.’
“Can—can you understand me?” Dorothy asked timidly. The rabbit nodded hastily before turning and continuing his fast-paced journey. “Wait, where are you going!?” The rabbit stopped again and unsnapped his brown pouch. He fiddled through the bag and pulled out a large round clock.
Dorothy stared at the clock, and then at the rabbit’s shocked expression. Wherever he was going, he was late. As he put the clock back in his pouch, another object fell out. Dorothy knew this object well. “My slipper!” she cried, seeing the ruby slipper lying on the forest ground. The rabbit snatched it away before she could get to it. He shoved it in his pouch and continued his race. Dorothy, of course, continued after him.
The rabbit picked up his speed and began to separate himself from Dorothy. She kept him in her sight until he leapt past a fallen-over tree. Climbing over the log, Dorothy stopped. The rabbit was gone. She could see for a dozen yards ahead of her, but there was no rabbit to be found.
For several minutes she sat, exhausted, on the log. How did that rabbit get those slippers? She offered herself a dozen different theories, but none made any sense. There were no rabbits in Oz that she recalled. And how did he so clearly understand what she was saying. It’s almost as if—
The sound of a snapping twig startled her. “Who’s there?!” she called out. But no response came.
“Toto!” She yelled as her tiny pup ran toward her. She jumped down off the log and knelt down to greet him, but instead of leaping into her arms, he ran right past her to the log. “Toto?” She watched as the dog dug at the ground. It looked as if there was something under the log. Quickly she crawled over to him and helped him dig.
Sure enough, under the tree was small burrow, just large enough for a rabbit to hide in. “Aha.” She said, reaching her thin arm into the rabbit-hole. She felt something soft around her fingers, clutched it and yanked it out.
It was the brown satchel the rabbit had been carrying. Frantically she unsnapped the bag and turned it over. Instead of a pair of ruby slippers however, she found only the rabbit’s clock. Upon closer inspection though, she realized it wasn’t a clock at all. It wasn’t counting up, it was counting down.
Laying down on her belly, Dorothy peered into the rabbit-hole. Instead of a shallow burrow, the tunnel seemed to stretch for miles. There was even a faint light at the end. “Odd,” she said to herself. Toto remained beside her, sniffing at the ground. She looked over at the countdown clock, her eyebrows furrowed. “I wonder—”
Before she could finish, Toto BARKED at the tunnel, dug his way into the hole, and was off to chase the white rabbit. “Toto wait!” she cried; but it was too late. She watched the dog grow smaller and smaller until he disappeared. Frantic, she pushed against the tree with all her might. Try as she did, though, she was unable to move the log.
“Can I help?” came an odd-sounding voice from behind her.
“Oh!” She screamed, and whipped around to see a squat little man with a tall funny hat staring back at her. She held back a chuckle at his large buck teeth and over-sized eyes.
“Are—are you from Oz?” she asked.
“Oh no my dear, that’s a long way from here.”
“So you know of Oz?”
“Know it?” the funny hatted man said. “Why I’ve never heard of it before you mentioned it.”
“But you just said…”
“Now then,” he said, ignoring her inquisitive expression. “Shall we move this tree?”
“Oh yes, that would be splendid.”
“Alright, I’ll need your spoon.”
“Yes, you know, for to eat soups and things.”
“Well I haven’t got a spoon, not on me anyway.”
“Fine, then give me the spoon that is off of you. Hurry dear.”
“Well I have one at my house, but I don’t know the way.”
“The way is that way,” the hatter said, pointing to Dorothy’s left. She took a few steps forward and saw, through the tree-line, the road she had wandered off of.
“Oh thank you, I’ll be right ba—” she turned around to wave goodbye, but saw only his backside wiggling around under the tree. “Hey! What are you doing?!” She ran after him just as he was sliding down the hole. Diving for him, she managed to grip an ankle with her left hand. With her right hand she reached for the clock just as she was being pulled in. The timer on the clock struck “0” and then the hole collapsed with a pop.
Dorothy had just made it in. She lost the Hatter though, and found herself slowly drifting down the hole, as though someone had turned off the gravity. And then…
She fell with a thud inside a checkerboard room. Everything around her was either incredibly large, or she was incredibly small. Ahead of her was a door that stretched for miles in the air. She might be able to squeeze under, she thought, but where she went after that, she had no idea.
“I don’t think this is Oz…” she said to herself as she took her first steps in this wonder land. “But I’m not leaving until I get back those ruby slippers.”
–40 years later—
“Alice, are you paying attention?” her mother called to her as she leaned against a tall English tree.
“Yes mother,” she said instinctively. Actually she was too focused on a most interesting white rabbit. He seemed to be clutching…a clock. And was that a brown satchel over his shoulder? But how silly; a rabbit can’t clutch anything, and what would one need with a satchel? Still, it was curious.
Her mother continued reciting the lines from the grammar book while Alice slipped away after the white rabbit. She followed him into the woods, just barely keeping up.
“Where are you running to?” she called out in her most proper British accent.
“Oh my,” The rabbit spoke. “I’m very very late. No time to talk.”
“But you can talk,” Alice said, astonished.
“Oh no I can’t, I’m very late.” He looked down at his clock as it ticked closer to ‘0.’ “I’ve got to get back.”
“But where are you going?” she persisted, running just within ear shot of him.
“I must get back to the Queen!”
“Oh my, the Queen?” Alice asked, suddenly feeling the urge to curtsy. She resisted, of course, so as to keep pace with the fleeing rabbit.
“Yes, the Red Queen. It’s her birthday today and I’m to bring her her present. It’s what she’s always wanted – what she’s been looking for all these years!”
“I’d love to meet this queen,” Alice said.
“Yes, fine, very well,” the rabbit said, still running and watching his clock. “Oh my oh my oh my oh my!” he said over and over as he ran to his apparent destination: A small rabbit hole directly ahead.
That wasn’t all that was directly ahead, however. The rabbit lost his footing and tripped on an upturned rock. He flew through the air, and was separated from his satchel. He tried to snatch it out of the sky as he fell, but instead fell right into the rabbit hole. His last words before entering were: “Stay right there! I’ll have caterpillar open another one! Don’t moooo…” His clock began to ring as it struck ‘0’ and the hole closed with a pop.
“How very curious,” Alice said, picking up the left-behind satchel. Only one object was inside. Actually, it was a pair of objects – ruby slippers. “Well…I suppose I could just wear them for a moment, before the rabbit returns.” She slipped off her shoes and tried on the slippers. “Oh, a perfect fit,” she said as she clicked her heels together in excitement.
A rush of dizziness fell over her. Fearing she might be sick, she closed her eyes. The sounds around her changed from the subtle chirping of birds, to the thunderous rushing of wind.
And then, everything became quiet.
Cautiously, she peeked one eye open and found she was sitting on a brightly colored stone road. The foliage around her was large and beautiful, and—
“Hello?” she said, seeing a small face poke out of a nearby bush. From the shrub stepped forth a tiny little man. “And who are you?” she asked.
“I represent the Lollipop Guild.”
“Oh my, I don’t think this is Manchester anymore.”
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