"He seems to be rather more alive than I'd requested." There was no anger in the voice, only a faint bemusement.
"Yes well, I found him in the brambles just outside - about 60 miles from where he jumped from a moving train; it hardly seemed a fitting end to the story my Queen."
Reginald had already opened his eyes to the room, suffering from an overabundance of I-just-jumped-from-a-moving-train headache and general weariness; bound to play havoc with the nerves really.
The cat was there, smiling. And so was Alice. And so were a whole host of other…things. Reginald supposed they might have more proper names but he hadn’t the foggiest what they might have been so ‘things’ did quite well enough in his own mind; the same sort he’d been seeing for the past few days.
“Reginald, dearest – you're here! I must admit, I believed you were simply not going to come.” Alice chimed pleasantly. Reginald was still feeling a little dazed but thought he could make out a voice quietly muttering ‘… or survive.’
“The cat…” Reginald pointed an accusatory finger at the offending feline as he rose to his feet. Looking, and feeling, somewhat the worse for his recent train ride. “… it tried to kill me?”
The cat grinned.
“A cat try to kill you? Madness!” Alice declared. The crowd howled with laughter. It was at this point that Reginald noticed the dress Alice was wearing, which hardly seemed real. It was a deep green silk crinoline affair with a cathedral train that must have trailed nearly ten feet behind her. She was also wearing a jewel encrusted silver crown.
“You tried to have me killed…” The words came only with difficulty.
“Yes, well you must expect a marriage to have its ups and downs. The important thing is you’re not dead. Leapt from a train I understand. Impressive.”
Once again Reginald found himself at a loss of words and instead opted to change subject. “Um… so yes. I um, came to ask you…”
Alice cocked her head in such a way as to wordless say ‘Oh, do go on.’ Really, he had never seen plain and sensible Alice looking so… really Reginald could not make up his mind whether crazy or beautiful was the more apt adjective. Scary might have been the word too – there was something deliberately about the way she walked and watched him that made him feel like a mouse about to be eaten.
The cat continued to grin.
“…what’s going on?” Well, there was more he would have liked to ask, and he probably could have phrased it better but that seemed like a good start. Really it was an important question.
“Ah, my dear Reginald, of course you would be perfectly innocent of ‘what is going on’.” Alice replied. “Where to begin, where to begin? Well I went mad – but you knew that already – and then I killed the Queen… ”
“… no not that Queen. Well two Queens really…” Reginald was thoroughly confused now but Alice seemed to register this. “It’s complicated. Anyway, the important thing is, now I’m Queen of Wonderland." She looked at him with something that seemed like mock disapproval. "And I was looking forward to entertaining any number of charming, handsome young suitors but then you had to go and not die and, well, here we are.” She smiled pleasantly.
Reginald did not find himself any more enlightened. All he understood was that she had sent her cat to kill him and she was Queen of the crazy people.
Alice seemed to read his mind. “Isn’t this far more interesting than all your dull and dreary office work? You have no idea what sorts of things we can do here!”
“You tried to kill me!”
“And you lived! Jumped off a moving train in fact – far more exciting than some weekend with the Prescotts. And this,” She said giving a brief wave to the marbled hall and the admittedly pretty but ridiculously expensive dress she was wearing, “is far better than sitting around at home inventing work for the help.”
Reginald was open mouthed. “You’re… this is…”
“Mad?” Alice suggested, putting the word into his mouth – really it was the one he’d been searching for all along. “Listen Reginald, we’re through the rabbit hole here...”
“Alice, come back with me. Please.”
“No thank you Reginald, I like it here. And oh, I have plans for my kingdom! I see my writing led you here, that's good, that's very good. You can help you know.” Her tone grew darker. “Or you can insist on being your old stick in the mud self and you and my Cheshire Cat can go on another trip.”
And then Alice smiled the sweetest, most radiant smile Reginald had ever seen in his life. “Either way, soon everyone will have read ‘Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland’.”