He awoke in the middle of a dark, dense forest. His first thought as the sleep fell away was: "Where am I?", followed soon after by: "Who am I?" He lay quite still for some time, simply staring up at the trees, head full of unanswerable questions. After some minutes he spoke outloud to no one in particular, "My! Isn't the grass quite tall!?" For, having noticed the grass, he realized it stretched far above his head. A moment later he was shocked to hear a reply, "No," the voice said shortly, "it's as tall as it has been."
Sitting up quickly in his surprise he first noticed he was in a broad clearing in the trees, though no sunlight shone through the canopy high above. Next, turning, he saw some amount of smoke rings floating out from atop a nearby mushroom. He stood quickly in order to discern the source of the bright rings. Standing tall he could see a caterpillar of equivalent size to his own smoking from a large hookah. Each puff of smoke he exhaled was a different color of the rainbow, so that the air around the mushroom was filled with brightly-colored, sweet-smelling smoke rings that slowly dissipated into nothingness.
"Who are you?" the caterpillar asked after a few minute, removing the hookah from his mouth to speak. Thinking the larva had struck a very rude tone, but wishing to avoid arguement, the man answered, "Well, my fine sir, I can hardly tell you who I am, as I can't quite say I now who I am myself." The oversized bug puffed an orange smoke ring then spoke, "Quite a bad memory then," he said insultingly. Bristling, the man retorted, "Well, you can hardly blame me forgetting when you're blowing those blasted smoke rings all around and in my face! Anyway, I'm quite sure it begins with an 'A'." "What?" the caterpillar asked sharply. "Oh, you heard me you bothersome creature! I said--" The 'pillar interrupted saying, "What begins with 'A'?" "Oh," the man said, caught offguard, "my name begins with the letter 'A'...or, so I believe." The caterpillar then sat smoking his hookah in silence for some time.
As the minutes passed uncomfortably the shrunken man shifted nervously from foot to foot. He spent many moments wondering whether to break the silence or allow the caterpillar to do so himself. Eventually he judged that it was the other's turn to speak and so held his silence. Finally the caterpillar removed the hookah once again to speak, "Where are you going?" The man thought for just a moment before answering the question, "Well, I hardly think I should know where to go when I don't even know where I am at the moment, sir." A purple smoke ring blew across "A's" face and the 'pillar spoke again, "Not a good way of going about at all." "Well, I say! How should I help it if someone moves me in my sleep and drugs me so as not to remember my name? Not to mention I've been shrunken to the dratted height of about three inches!" the man said, voice raising in volume again. The caterpillar reared up to his full height and fairly shouted into the man's face, "A very fine height to be indeed!" For, the caterpillar was indeed exactly three inches tall. The larva settled back down and returned to his hookah. The man was quite so shocked as to hold his tongue for a while again.
"Is it Alex?" the caterpillar asked waspishly, jerking the man from near sleep. You see, the smoke rings had begun to get to his head, and he felt quite drowsy and comfortable just standing in front of the mushroom. The man blinked dreamily and murmured something, then shook his head and spoke, " Is what Alex? That's hardly a sensible question you know." The caterpillar, for once, answered immediatley, ignoring the critique, "Your name." This surprised the man and he was shocked to find the caterpillar had correctly guessed his name, "Why, I dare say it is my name! Now that I come to hear it and think on it a moment." "I thought so," the caterpillar said, "its the smoke rings that do it." "I beg your pardon?" Alex asked, quite perplexed. "The smoke rings clear your head," the 'pillar said, matter-of-factly. The man wondered at this, and realized he could soon remember things he couldn't before. "Well, they still smell rather nasty," he said, annoyed at the caterpillar's correct guessing of his name and the smoke rings that proved helpful rather than harmful to thought. "Your puny brain just can't decipher their true scent," the caterpillar said rather rudely. "Hmph! Well, of all the upstart little creatures--" Alex started before being interrupted. "Little? You are hardly in a position to call anyone little, tiny one," the caterpillar said sharply. Alex huffed, turned on his heels, and began to stalk off through the grass in search of better company, mumbling under his breath all the way.
"Wait," the caterpillar called after the man now known as Alex. Alex turned around, exsasperated, "What? You have more to say to me?" "Yes," the 'pillar said quickly, then returning to his hookah. "Well? What is it?" Alex asked, walking back to the mushroom. "Some advice for you," the caterpillar said. Alex huffed but said nothing, crossing his arms and rolling his eyes. The enlarged larva blew out a red smoke ring, then a pink, then a green and gave his short advice, "Keep your temper." His words were punctuated sharply with a puff of smoke between each. "Is that all?" Alex asked, scoffing. The caterpillar gave no answer but crawled off the mushroom and began to take his leave through the grass.
Alex was happy to see him go, but soon realized he was alone in a strange place and indeed: any company is better than none in such a situation. A moment later he realized he was quite hungry and so decided to taste some of the mushroom. He broke off a piece from either side, wondering if one might taste different in such a peculiar place. Just as he took a bite from the one in his right hand the ground soared away from him and his heads were level with the tops of the trees. He swayed on his feet as waves of dizziness flashed over him. Regaining his balance he realized he had grown to the height of a tall building. Standing on his tip toes he could see the land all around him over the tips of the trees surrounding him. Far in the distance to his left he could see green fields with flowing hills. Closer to him on his right, yet still quite far away, he could see a sparkling sea that stretched farther than his eyes could see. Feeling very glad to have tried the mushroom just for such a view, he decided to try the piece in his left hand. He took a very small bite this time, nothing more than a nibble.
The trees flew past his head and he shrunk again. He stopped shrinking at a level about halfway down the tree trunks. Astonished he had some more on the pretense of finding his own height. After several minutes of nibbling from each piece of the mushroom and several changes in size he judged himself to be corrected. Now being able to see over the grass, he was granted a new view point of the woods around him. The clearing he stood in now seemed rather small and he only had to take a few steps to reach the trees. At first he wondered about which way to go, "If I take the route to the fields I may have to walk such a long distance, and by then, who knows what changes I may have been forced through in this peculiar place. I believe the way to the sea would be a better decision, as it can't be farther than a few miles walk and it shall be very nice to sink my toes into the sand and feel the delicious water lapping at my feet." So, he struck out in the direction he deemed sure to lead him to the ocean in the quickest way possible. By the time the clearing had dissapeared behind him, he found a convenient path leading in the exact way he was going.
After a time Alex judged to be in the area of just ten minutes the path began to twist and weave. "My, this path surely isn't getting me anywhere fast as of late," he thought to himself. However, having nothing else to do, he continued to walk, hoping the small road would straighten soon enough. Although the path did not straighten, presently in fact, it led Alex on the course of several spirals and loop-de-loops. "Oh dear! Won't this path ever straighten again?!" he thought to himself in dismay. His going certainly wasn't getting him towards his destination very quickly. This on account of the fact that he dared not stray from the path, even in order to skip over a spiral or twist, as he had been taught in his lessons that this was a very foolish thing to do in a wood. "'Always keep to the paths' they say, and indeed I believe I shall, especially in a such an odd place as this," Alex told himself wisely. The going got no easier and in fact, the way worsened as he went. Now, the paths bent to the left and right at frightening angles. At one point, Alex felt quite sure he had turned completley upside down and then came back down to be upright again without falling on his head as he should have done. This time, he spoke outloud in surprise and awe, "What an odd place this is indeed when one does not even seem to have to follow the laws of gravity." For the second time in that strange and exciting day a voice spoke to Alex, apparently out of thin air.
"Suppose though, that this land isn't at all strange and it is wherever your from that suffers from oddity. Indeed, it would be most ungainly to be tied down to the ground all the time as it seems you are accustomed," the voice said. It was a very peculiar voice and seemed to have a very unhuman-like air to it. It was silly and not at all serious sounding, but when a voice speaks to one out of nowhere, one often feels the need to listen to it, whatever it sounds like. Alex froze, the hairs on his neck standing up, his muscles tense in fright, and looked around frantically searching for a source. Eventually he looked up and found himself staring into the face of a very odd cat floating in the air directly above him. He backed away so fast as to stumble and fall down. The cat went right on grinning his wide, ear-to-ear grin and chuckled, "Well, for one so unused to being unattached to the ground, you certainly don't keep your footing very well." Alex sat in shock for a few moments before responding, "Well, it certainly was quite rude of you so to speak out so suddenly and to startle me so." The cat chuckled to itself again and spoke again, grin wider than ever, "Why were you startled by little ole me? I'm just a cat and hardly anything to be afraid of." "A very peculiar cat you must be to be able to talk and grin so," Alex said, standing and brushing the dust off his body. The feline laughed and twisted in middair, doing a few loop-de-loops and grinning all the time, "Of course! What would you expect of a Chesire cat?"Alex smiled in spite of himself and remarked in return, "Oh, one can hardly expect me to know you are that when I've never even heard of a chesire cat before." The chesire chuckled a third time, saying, "Well, I daresay you'll find me even more peculiar before we part." Alex stared at the cat closely, noticing for the first time he was colored with purple and black bands all up and down his body. As he stared, he realized the cat was fading into the dimness of the woods, the black stripes became transparent and the trees behind the animal could be seen clearly between the remaining purple stripes.
"Oh! But where are you going, it is so lonely in this wood, and I certainly would love company as I walk to the sea," Alex cried to the slowly vanishing cat. The chesire cat grinned even more widely and said with a laugh in his voice, "Quick then! Grab my tail before I vanish and I'll take you to the great sea." Alex stood nervously for a moment, unsure of whether or not he really wanted to grab the tail of an unknown cat. However, he was forced to act when he realize everything of the cat had vanished except tail and grin. He thought this funny, for it was very odd to see a grin floating in the air without any body to accompany it. Without further delay he reached up and grabbed the tail that swished gently through the air. A very peculiar sensation came over Alex then. He thought he could fairly feel himself becoming transparent. He felt as though he was very light and would soon blow away in the slightest breeze. Soon, the trees melted from his sight and there was a sudden yanking action in his arm and he was pulled forward through the woods he could no longer see.
After a few moments of very fast travel Alex saw the ocean and the golden beach materialize in front of him. He looked up for the chesire and was shocked to see just the tail and grin once again, "Let go! Quick!" the cat shouted. As quick as he could, Alex released his grip and the cat vanished with a small, thin popping noise and he was alone again. However, this time, he didn't feel quite so alone as he saw sea birds wheeling about the beach and the surf. Very odd birds they were indeed. Some were very dull and boring colors and others were bright and changed colors each time they squawked out a word. Alex did a double-take at the birds and saw that some also had extra wings on their backs and stomachs, so they had four wings, not two. He looked away from the birds and turned his focus to the ocean and the delicious breeze flowing through his hair. Filling with excitement, he ran forward to the water. (He hadn't been to the ocean for such a long time and so longed to feel the breakers over his toes one can hardly blame him for running.)
He reached the water and splashed in a few feet so the water ran up over his ankles and filled him with a refreshing coolness. (He had long since discarded his shoes in his run.) Just as he was beggining to feel quite at home and very comfortable indeed, the birds let out harsh shrieks of surprise. Alex looked up quickly to see hundreds of the strange creatures swooping down on him. They soon surrounded him with their musty, flapping wings. Descending further they covered Alex's entire body with their feathery bodies and the world dissappeared from the boy's sight once again. He dared not move and perhaps anger the birds and so just stood there. As all went dark with the consuming bodies Alex began to fall. He could see nothing but felt air rushing past him as he fell, twisting and flipping as he did so.