One Stormy Night in Wonderland

Jamin Richters

‘Bloody ‘ell, Ms. Liddell. You’re not gonna like what you see in there.’ The portly senior officer shook his head, stepping aside to let the young woman through.

‘Do we think it’s her again?’ she said sternly, green eyes piercing through the darkness of the hallway that stretched on before her.

‘Don’t rightly know myself, but it’s a proper mess in there,’ the officer said. ‘Hare is down with the body; you’d best talk with him.’

‘Thank you, Dee. You and your brother can head home for the evening. I’ll take over from here.’ Alice nodded at the officer as she made her way towards the scene of the crime. As she entered the room, the smell of fresh blood mixed with red wine flooded her senses. The body of a young man sat at a table, beheaded. His head rested before the corpse on a dinnerplate, sunken eyes turned straight towards the doorway. Alice felt her stomach sink at the scene. This was all too familiar.

‘Good, you’re here,’ said the Hare, flicking shut his pocket watch. ‘We’ve much to discuss but first, and most importantly – what do you make of it?’ he spoke quickly, stamping his right foot in anticipation.

Alice moved closer to the body and examined the severed head. The neck was cut cleanly through, and there appeared to be no signs of any struggle. The head sat on a plate in a pool of blood, still wearing a bowler’s hat.

‘He looks like one of her boys to me. But that doesn’t make any sense. Why after so long in hiding?’ She turned to face the Hare, who simply raised an eyebrow in response.

‘It’s her signature, Alice. There isn’t another criminal in all of Wonderland who kills as senselessly as the Red Queen,’ the Hare spat, reaching into his jacket for a pack of cigarettes. ‘She killed him to send us a message, simple as that. The way I see it, we should be thankful it wasn’t one of ours this time.’

Alice clenched her fists, staring down at the impatient rabbit as he struck a match. ‘She has never killed one of her own before. What makes you so sure?’

The hare gave a raspy laugh, smoke trailing from his mouth. ‘His bloody head is off, Alice. In one clean cut, mind you. We only know one person with a fondness for such a thing, don’t we?’ He shook his head, taking another drag from his cigarette.

Alice stared into the eyes of the severed head. The colour had almost entirely faded from the young man’s eyes. She could hear the sound of rain starting to fall on the building’s tin roof. ‘I’m going to see Caterpillar. are you coming with me?’

The Hare stamped his right foot and laughed. ‘That opium addict? You can’t be serious, Alice. You’re with the WPD now. We don’t chase after rumours, we run on facts.’

Alice brushed past the Hare and grabbed an umbrella. ‘I’m not going to miss this chance, Hare. If he can even give me a clue, I’ll take it.’ Determination flared in the young woman’s eyes.

The Hare flicked open his pocket watch, its mechanical ticking drowned out by the approaching storm. ‘Call me if you find anything,’ he groaned. ‘I’ll wake Dormouse and have him get some photos of the body.’

With her partner’s approval, Alice left the room and continued back down the dark hallway and out of the crime scene. Tweedle-Dee had already left, and Alice took a moment to take in the city of Wonderland. Towering concrete buildings surrounded the city on all sides, creating something of a wall on the horizon. The metropolis was home to all manner of crime and corruption, and it fell to the Wonderland Police Department to maintain a level of order. Criminal syndicates ran by figureheads such as the Red Queen were at war with the WPD, desperate to return Wonderland to the wild west it once was.

As Alice trudged through the downpour, an ominous purple smoke apparated by her side. From within the smoke emerged the wide smile of a large cat, who stepped out and onto the air as if it were the ground. It purred loudly, circling around the girl, who paid it no mind.

‘So, the Queen is back. Or perhaps she never left?’ the cat grinned.

‘Why don’t you tell me, Cheshire. I’m sure you’ve all the answers you seek,’ Alice grumbled.

Cheshire laughed. He rolled onto his back and stared at Alice with deep yellow eyes. ‘The proper order of things is often a mystery to me,’ he chuckled. ‘After all, can’t be everywhere at once now, can I?’

‘I’ve no time for your mockery, cat. This is serious. Something isn’t right.’ Alice swung her umbrella towards the cat, who glided graciously through the air and switched to her other side.

‘Very well. After all, these are your adventures. I’m only here to watch you; fly or fall,’ Cheshire smirked.

Alice furrowed her brow. ‘Then watch closely, cat. Because the Red Queen is going behind bars tonight.’ As she turned to face the creature, she found only faint wisps of smoke in his place. A distant laughter echoed through the empty streets of Wonderland, and Alice steeled her resolve.


Stopping before a large tent, Alice closed her umbrella and stepped inside. The air was thick with a grey smoke that shrouded the Caterpillar from sight. He blew forth a long cloud of smoke, momentarily parting the waves and revealing his blue form to Alice. He stared down at her through a looking glass, acknowledging his old friend before disappearing back into the smog.

‘You seek the Red Queen, little Alice,’ spoke the Caterpillar. His voice was deep, a hollow rumble in each of his words.

‘I do, and I’ve come to ask for your help. Please, Caterpillar, is there anything you know about this recent murder?’ Alice waved the smoke from her eyes, but try as she might, she could never fully make out the creature that loomed over her.

‘I know all that you know, Alice. This is your Wonderland, haven’t you forgotten?’ the Caterpillar groaned.

Alice sighed, crossing her arms. ‘Please. I don’t have time for riddles, Caterpillar. Can you help me out or not?’

The Caterpillar laughed, sending ripples through the clouds of smoke. ‘Though she grows older with age, her patience remains all the same. Alice, you need only open the door. And when you do, think to yourself – what is it that you want to be on the other side?’

Alice grew frustrated at the Caterpillar’s incoherent rambling. ‘Forget it, I should have listened to Hare. If you aren’t going to help me, I’m going to find the Red Queen myself.’ Turning her back on the shrouded figure, Alice pushed through the folds of the tent and stepped outside. As the smoke around her began to clear, she realised that she was no longer in the streets of Wonderland.

Standing in the centre of an abandoned warehouse, Alice quickly turned around to find that the Caterpillar’s tent had vanished. As she felt her pulse quicken, Alice steadied her breathing and thought back to what Caterpillar said last. Had her desires to find the Red Queen manifested in some sort of way? Alice shook herself free from the many questions that were piling up and grabbed her radio.

‘Hare, come in. This is Alice Liddell; I’ve arrived at an unknown location and am requesting immediate backup. Pinpoint my location in Wonderland city and get here as fast as you can. Bring support.’ As soon as the radio clicked off, Alice pocketed the device and turned on her flashlight.

‘Alice?… where are… have you… we’re sending in… stay tight…’ The radio crackled in her pocket as Alice moved further inside the warehouse.

‘Well, well! Our very own Alice! Now we can finally get this tea party started,’ sang an ominous voice from the darkness.

‘Show yourself!’ Alice called out, gripping her torch tightly.

‘Gladly, my dear!’ the voice replied. ‘Just let me get the lights…’

The warehouse lights slowly flickered on, revealing a massive oaken dining table adorned with various teapots and pastries. Seated along each side of the table was a member of the Red Queen’s syndicate, seated in place with their decapitated heads on a plate before them. At the end of the table sat the Red Queen herself, her arms bound, and her mouth taped over. She stared at Alice; a newfound expression of fear painted on her face.

‘Ah, everyone is here. Well, not everyone, but we’ve got Alice! And that is what counts, right? Take a seat, won’t you Alice?’ The man standing beside the Queen gave a wide grin, adjusting his patchwork top hat.

‘Hatter… You’re the one behind this?’ Alice stammered, struggling to process the horrific scene before her.

The Hatter laughed, twirling a long silver blade in his hand. ‘I’ve only killed those who work with the Red Queen, Alice. That makes us allies!’

Alice was stunned. What the Hatter was saying was one thing, but the weapon he held in his hands was something else entirely. Never had she laid eyes on something with such a perfect sheen, and an edge so keen it could slice cleanly through even the Jabberwocky. She could tell from only a brief glimpse; the weapon had an insatiable appetite for blood.

‘The vorpal blade…’ Alice whispered.

‘The one and only!’ The Hatter cackled. ‘You know the song, don’t you, Alice? Sing it with me! ‘Twas brillig, and the slithy toves did-

‘Enough!’ Alice shouted. ‘Hatter, that weapon has driven you mad!’

‘Mad?’ the Hatter replied, puzzled. ‘Simply a matter of perspective, dear. I see things quite clearly now.’ He raised the sheen edge of the silver blade and held it across the neck of the Red Queen. ‘This tyrant has run the slums for the past ten years, and what have you lot done to stop it? Absolutely nothing. I’ve lived under her heel for too long. It’s long past time for a change of guard.’

‘You deserve justice, Hatter, but killing her won’t change the way things are in Wonderland. Let me take the Red Queen in.’ Alice slowly moved towards the Hatter, keeping a firm grip on the hilt of the blade that hung from her belt. Hare and the WPD had to be nearby. She need only stall a few moments longer.

‘There is no justice in Wonderland anymore, Alice,’ the Hatter replied plainly. ‘Only madness.’ He raised the vorpal blade into the air, staring down at the Red Queen with empty eyes. ‘Off with her head.’

The blade shone with a blinding light, moving in an arc that ran through the Queen’s neck. Her eyes grew wide as she stared at Alice, who stood frozen in fear.


The vorpal blade rang out, slicing cleanly through its mark. As the light began to clear, the Queen’s head slowly toppled from her shoulders and bounced across the table. The Mad Hatter laughed and clapped his hands together in excitement.

‘One, two! One, two! And through and through! The Red Queen is dead at last!’ cried the Mad Hatter. ‘But why stop there? There is still so much dirt in Wonderland, after all. Someone needs to clean up this town.’

Alice stared at the Mad Hatter with wide eyes as she witnessed the birth of Wonderland’s newest monster. ‘Hatter! You’re under arrest. Drop the weapon now!’ she shouted, unsheathing her blade.

The Mad Hatter smiled, pointing the now crimson edge of the vorpal blade at Alice. ‘Or what?’ he sneered, biting into his lower lip.

Alice felt her blood run cold. The man standing before her barely resembled the Hatter she had once met. ‘Will you take my head next, then?’ she asked, finding what little courage she had left.

The Mad Hatter smirked, lowering the vorpal blade. ‘If it is necessary,’ he said, turning away from Alice. ‘I’d better get going for now. It sounds like your buddies have arrived.’

Alice watched the tall figure climb out an open window and escape into the stormy night, unable to stop him. She looked up at the moon, which struck a perfect crescent in the night sky. Though she had finally found the worst evil in Wonderland, a new one rose to take her place. But only time would tell the kind of monster the Mad Hatter would become. Alice balled her fist as she turned towards the lifeless body of the Red Queen, the sound of the vorpal blade still ringing in her ears. If she were to stand any chance again Wonderland’s newest evil, she was going to need something that could contend with such a weapon.

Alice thought back to the distant tea parties and late-night mischief with Hatter and his entourage. It painted a scene that she could barely picture when faced with what stood before her now.  She sighed, moving closer towards the window and peering through the smog at the glow of the moon. She untied her hair, which cascaded down her shoulders and caught the faint glow of the night. In the distance, Alice could make out the red and blue lights of the WPD drawing closer. She closed her eyes, taking the radio from her pocket.

‘Hare, this is Alice. I’ve got a situation to report.’

Author: Jamin lives and breathes stories in their many forms. With a taste for tragedies, he enjoys spinning tales about everyday people and everyday life, but with an element of surrealism that separates them from our world. At the heart of all his writing is the idea that being human is a gift to be treasured. Though the world can be wrought with suffering and loss, it is still a wonderful world indeed.

Artist: SaBelle Pobjoy-Sherriff is a third year fine arts visual arts student. Her art practice uses narrative and mythology to create obscure illustrations and sculptures. Using acrylic paint and coloured pencils she creates vibrant worlds and creatures. Her current work focuses on the current climate crisis and the idea of corrupting escapism. You can find more on her Instagram @SaBelleeee.

Editors: David Farr and Hannah Vesey