I looked at the cuckoo clock hanging from the wall of my shop. Four o’ clock? I smiled.
I had prepared the water in advance. It was still piping hot on the stove. I poured some in my cup and saucer, and walked back over to my table. I carefully steeped the tea, poured the sugar and milk, and just then…
The Cheshire Cat waltzed in.
A half smile curved on my lips. “You’re just in time. I was helping myself to some tea.” I said, politely.
“Ah, I’ll have cream only please.” She said.
“Very well. What brings you here today?” I asked.
She cocked her head to one side. “Brings me here…what…hm. Ah, yes, I saw the White Rabbit last night.” She said as she collected her thoughts. Silly cat.
“Fascinating.” I said, “Was her temper as unruly as it always has been?”
“Quite.” The Cheshire Cat said with a laugh, “But that never deters me from speaking to her.”
I nodded. “I wouldn’t see how anyone could resist talking to you. Much less her.” I said, “Besides, she’s lonely. She’s lucky to have you around.”
“Well the business is this: The White Rabbit has decided to return to Vulgarland.” The Cheshire Cat said.
I spit out my tea in a fine mist before me. “WHAT?!” I asked, nearly choking.
“Oh Mad Hatter…is it really so surprising? She would have had to return eventually.” The Cheshire Cat said, licking the cream in her teacup.
I regained my composure. “Well…I suppose. However, don’t you think it’s a bit soon? After all…there’s a new toy for the Queen’s leisure. To come back would mean her ultimate demise…” I said. I actually liked The White Rabbit very much, I did not wish to see her dead.
The Cheshire Cat grinned. “We’ve already established that. And therefore, she is requesting our aid.”
I nodded. I knew this day would come. I lifted the hat off of my head and rested it on the table. I ran my fingers through my silky strands of orange hair. It was a good thing I was content at the moment…I was quite mad on occasion.
But now I would have to put that madness to use very soon.
“I suggest you call on The Dormouse, The March Hare, The Caterpillar, and perhaps those twins as well…” I said.
The Cheshire Cat pouted. “But that means that I’ll be doing all the work.”
“From the looks of how long your nails are, you barely lift a finger. And I know how much you love The White Rabbit.” I said with a chuckle, “If it’s too much to ask, then I shall pay the Twins and The March Hare a visit myself.”
I finished my tea and got up. I gazed at myself in a full length mirror at my dark green vest, black suit pants, topped off with black combat boots. “Are you even able to see your reflection?” I asked.
“Of course silly.” The Cheshire Cat said, “But let’s not change the subject here. As you know, I do believe that us citizens have grown quite unhappy under the Queen’s rule. Don’t you think we should do something to change that?”
“Ever since that mortal walked into our realm, our fates were already changed.” I said, “So it’s only right that we act now.”
The Cheshire Cat smirked. “Look at us, total rebels. What we speak of…is traitorous.”
“Ay. But if we don’t rid ourselves of this awful Queen, we’ll all be killed eventually. And I in particular, don’t want to have to continue to count the days until it happens. Don’t you agree? There’s no point in living here if we must live in fear and disgust.”
The Cheshire Cat nodded. “That’s precisely the reason why The White Rabbit thought that she would be better off leaving. But I knew better, because she is still as anxious as ever. As long as The Red Queen lives, so will all of our fears.”
“I find it rather endearing that The White Rabbit left so that she could return as a white knight of some sort.” I said with a smile.
“Indeed. I deigned to tell her the way to kill The Red Queen.” The Cheshire Cat blurted.
I whipped my head around from my reflection. “I do believe my ears have mistaken me…did you just say that you KNOW how to kill The Red Queen?” I asked, my voice getting sharp.
The Cheshire Cat lowered her eyes. “I do. But I cannot say. It is not the right time. You of all people should understand that better than anyone…since you drink your tea at precisely four o’ clock, every day.”
“You are right. You must keep that secret hidden well, lest your tongue be cut from your mouth. Then again, you’d probably just make it disappear as soon the Queen would try to retrieve it.” I said with a laugh.
“Have you seen our little ‘Alice’?” The Cat asked, with a suggestive smile.
“I haven’t. I assume that he’s not a particularly good looking lad, from what I’ve heard.” I said.
“Just wait until the Queen fixes him up proper. He’ll be more beautiful than a thousand princes.” The Cat said gleefully. She stroked her tail.
“Hm. Sounds darling. I can’t wait to see just what kind of man she makes out of him.” I said with a wink.
I put on my top hat and grabbed my walking cane. “Well, I had a nice chat with you. But now there is much work to be done. I’ll be on my way now.” I said, opening the door to the shop.
I turned around and The Cheshire Cat had disappeared.