I'm awake. It almost seems like a surprise, but I don't know why. I'm in a bland and boring white room, and there's a plate on the table by my bed. There's a bottle full of red candies, but I don't feel hungry. I don't feel much of anything besides numb.
"Alice, you're awake!" A girl with a torn up dress sits next to my bed. She smiles like I'm an old friend of hers. It's peculiar, the thought of her knowing me. That couldn't be possible, because I just woke up, and she's nowhere to be seen in my memories. She can wait, though, because I need water. She tries to catch up with me, to beat me to the door.
She succeeds. The girl touches my shoulder and says, "Alice, do I need to remind you that you can't go outside? We can play in here." She hands me a doll. Even if the doll has a patchy dress and tangled yarn hair, I still hold on to it tightly. "Don't you want me to read you a story?"
I don't know what to do. If I stay here in this room, I'd feel like something is missing. But I don't know what's missing. If I run, maybe I'd find it. Maybe I could remember, maybe there is magic to spare in this world.
She didn't stop staring, that look in her eyes so familiar. Why can't I remember a thing about her? I know I'm supposed to remember her, but I couldn't.
Escape is the only way out, I suppose. A plan would be out of the question, it'd be lost in my mind short after. I have to run.
Her name. I need to call after her. There's no way I could find my way home on my own. "Bella!" I call, her name must be Bella.
"It's..." she starts, but shrugs and says, "Never mind."
"I want to go home." Even though a mature kid like her wouldn't cry, I shed a few tears. "Please come with me, won't you?" I clamp my hands together in a begging motion.
She sighs, and thinks over the notion. Then, she smiles widely. "I'll bring a bag full of the loveliest dresses. Wait, Alice, before you pack, I have something for you." She digs under a torn-up mattress and hands me a circular stone, attached to a chain. It shimmers in the flickering lights. "It's a necklace. A secret charm, it protects you from bad feelings."
"Will you be okay without it?" I ask. The stone's almost too pretty to wear. It's a beautiful shade of purple, one that reminds me of the evening sky. Maybe I'll see that on my journey with this girl.
"As long as I have my dresses and my medicine, I'll be fine." She's crafting a makeshift bag out of one of less torn dresses. I lay back on the bed, I don't have anything I want to pack other than my dear dolly.
For fun, I try to decipher the symbols on the bottle on her bedside table. I could ask the other two kids to help me read, but they're busy. I wonder why these candy-looking tablets feel so close but yet so distant from my memories.
"There's only one way to find out," I whisper, bringing the tablets to my mouth. Down it goes, not without a fight. A fight waged with water and patience.
The girl looks up. "Alice, did you just take my medicine? You could've asked what it was."
"I... I didn't think to..." I explain, but it seems that this excuse didn't help much.
The room is melting. Strange, I don't think worlds do that. The ringing scream of, "Alice!" echoes in my ears.
The room is bland and boring, though the walls are green. Pretty. A lady gives me a plate full of delicious treats. Stacks of pancakes with strawberries piled high, a glass of milk, and some bacon.
"Here we are," she says. "Oh, my Alice, I do hope you're feeling well." She pats my head. There's a paper, but for some reason, I couldn't bear to try to open it with the lady near. The sound of ringing pounds in my ear, and she jumps up from the bed.
"Stay here, darling." She leaves the room, and I claw at the paper to get it open. Words cover the page, spelling... Wait, I don't remember learning how to read. It seems that I could read here, but everywhere? Possibly, but most likely not.
The paper reads, "You did this to yourself." I scrunch up in confusion. Vague notes with significant meaning only happen in fairy tales. And fairy tales always have happy endings, that was a constant in my world.
There's the boy from the white room. Normally he rocks in the corner, but he's staring at me through the window. Even though his eyes are glaring daggers at me, I feel his mind is somewhere else.
The paper in my hands changes its message. The ink rearranges into, "Take him with you. He might just save you." It's memerizing, watching the ink form dainty patterns.
I feel the effects of the magic tablets wearing off, the world blinking back to the white room.
I walk up to the boy, almost in a trance. The girl is frightened by something, I should comfort her after this. This boy seems to be stuck in a neverending loop of building a tower with blocks, then knocking it down. He looks sad, but I can't explain why when he only has a blank expression.
"Greetings." I bow respectfully, as expected. The characters from the stories I remember always are mannerful, and they always get happy endings. After a few seconds of silence, I figure that the boy isn't noticing me.
I poke him on the shoulder. He still doesn't look up, but I can't leave him behind, even if I don't know why I should be taking him. Maybe I could just have him tag along if he feels like it.
The girl perks up when I go up to her. "Alice, are you okay? I know if that medicine isn't good for me, it isn't good for you."
"I'm fine... It's just that I saw something." The girl doesn't react. "It was... well, I'm not sure, but I think it's my home. It had a lady who was taking care of me and everything."
She sighs, "Alice, those visions aren't real. Trust me on this."
"But... nevermind..." I look at my shoes. Maybe it was merely a dream, and not reality. That much I could tell. Though it didn't matter much, if I'm just going to forget it later. I didn't see the point in going on with this mission, but it couldn't hurt to try. "Do you have any visions?"
The girl glances back at me, and frowns. "Let's keep packing, we need to escape right after bedtime. That's when they won't expect it. We'll just run with everything we have."
"How about we take him? The boy?" I ask her.
She looks puzzled. "Sammy? But he doesn't even acknowledge that we exist!"
"Please? Maybe he'll listen to us when he leaves with us," I beg. Pleading doesn't seem to work, but after a few seconds, her expression grows softer.
"All right. Only because you've convinced me." She seems uncaring towards the idea of an extra person going along with us, and I smile. She weakly smiles back. "It's a plan?" Her hand is held back.
I laugh and say, "It's a plan!" I slap her hand and lay back on the bed. I'd need plenty of rest. Because tonight, I would run and never look back. It was unlikely that I would even remember this place anyway, but everyday after this would be an adventure.
And an adventure with brave young heroes always turned out for the better.