“Don’t you worry, I will protect you.” Sebastian said as he hugged the bucket tight against his chest. He was lost in a world where animals talked and mushrooms hopped and teleported and policed. It was like Narnia meets Wonderland.
He didn’t understand how he had landed in such an odd place. The last thing he remembered was escaping to the dark cold dingy basement as he always did whenever his parents fought upstairs. It was his own little paradise away from the shouting and the destruction of household items.
As he sat in the corner hugging his knees, he heard a light tapping and scratching noise on the glass of the door. “Help!” The largest gray rabbit he had ever seen shrieked as soon as he opened the door.
Sebastian blinked. “Y-you can talk?”
The rabbit ignored him and ran inside. “Close the door!” The rabbit demanded.
“Who,” Sebastian asked, frowning as he quietly shut the door. “Who is after you? How can you talk?”
“I’m Ernie, sir. I’m from the Great Land of Wonders.”
“You mean Wonderland?” Sebastian interrupted.
“No, sir, Great Land of Wonders.” Ernie paused, “They’re coming, sir. We have to go.” He hopped into the metal bucket by the door.
Without another thought, Sebastian grabbed the bucket with his new companion inside, yanked open the door, and ran into the night or so he thought. As he jogged along the path, the sky gradually lightened as trees swayed its branches to the wind. At the bottom of the trees were small doors. He gazed at them curiously as a squirrel opened the door, came out, and stretched lazily under the sun.
After several moments, he halted at the edge of great fog. “Where are we?” He asked, out of breath.
“Great Land of Wonders, Sir. Ahead, it is the Land of Fog and after that, it is the Maze of Greenery.”
He shook his head. “No, it can’t be. I think I would know. After all, I’ve live here…” he turned and pointed behind him and it was then he realized his home was nowhere to be seen. He opened his mouth but no words came. I can’t have gone this far, can I? Can this really be the Great Land of Wonders? He wondered.
“We have to move, sir.” Ernie urged.
“Oy, you there!” Sebastian looked frantically around. Two red mushrooms with white dots on their caps were hopping toward them.
“They are the police.” Ernie whispered and once again, Sebastian took off into the Land of Fog. As they cut through the Land of Fog, every time Sebastian wanted to stop and take a breath, Ernie would encourage, “The Land of Fog is a small place. We’re almost at the Maze of Greenery. Then we’ll be free.”
Ernie was correct. Before long, Sebastian arrived before a green wall made of branches and leaves. “Which way?” He asked, breathing hard. Ernie looked left and right before pointing left with his paw. Sebastian obeyed.
As he walked down the path, he suddenly felt a sense of adventure, a feeling he hadn’t had for a long time. He didn’t know Ernie but somehow felt compelled to obey his every command. Why is that? He asked himself as he moved along the path. “Right,” Ernie said as they approached a dead end.
“Where exactly are we going?” He asked but Ernie did not answer. His attention seemed to be focused at something up ahead. He decided to change the topic. “What exactly did you do to have the police after you?” Again, Ernie did not answer. Instead, he shushed Sebastian.
As they approached the next dead end, however, something happened.
Iron chains rose from the ground and clasped itself around Sebastian’s wrists and ankles and then a puff of red smoke appeared before him. “Hello, Sebastian, I have been waiting for your arrival.” A familiar voice said.
Sebastian blinked. “Auntie Jane?” A woman with brunette hair in a long, flowing red dress that was designed to showcase a woman’s figure and a snow white fur coat appeared out of nowhere.
“Hello, nephew, long time no see.” She said as she softly brushed Ernie’s head with her dangerously sharp crimson nails. “Thank you, Ernie. You have done me a great service.”
“Am I free then, ma’am?” Ernie asked in a shaky voice and with a wave of her hand, Ernie vanished, leaving Sebastian with an empty bucket.
Jane snatched the bucket from Sebastian’s hands and threw it onto the ground. Then with another wave of her hand, he felt like he was flying through the air at great speed while landing on firm ground at the same time.
“Where are we?” He asked as he surveyed his brand-new surrounding. He was in a magnificently odd room, other than the golden ceiling, everything else looked like it’s been dipped in his aunt’s nail polish, crimson.
Jane laughed, “We are in my castle, silly.”
“What are we doing here? How did you do that?”
She opened her palm and smiled as an dark red apple appeared from nowhere. “Magic,” she said and handed him the apple. Sebastian shook his head and with a close of her hand, the apple disappeared. She moved to the sofa and patted the seat next to her. “Come, sit, I need you to tell me everything that’s going on at home. Is my sister and so-call-brother-in-law still fighting madly?”
Sebastian stood there. His thoughts still lingered on the fact that his aunt had just magically transported them here and effortlessly made an apple appear and disappear. How did she do that? He wondered as she kept rambling on about a random subject.
He wanted to demand to be told how he had arrived in this strange land. He wanted to demand to be brought home this instant even though he wishes to remain in this exciting place forever. Instead, he found his mouth spilling words uncontrollably. “How did you come here? Is this a dream?”
His aunt frowned. “Are you not glad to see me that you wish that this was a dream? After all, we hardly see each other.” Sebastian’s mother does not allow Jane to see Sebastian. She thought Jane’s eccentricity would have a negative effect on her son.
“Of course I’m glad to see you, Auntie. I just- think this place is too out of the ordinary for me, that’s all. Besides, you sent a rabbit to summon me and the iron chains appear out of the ground frightened me a little.”
She chuckled. “I am sorry about the chains. It’s one of those traps I have set for intruders.”
“And Ernie led me right into it.”
“Well, I want to time my entrance perfectly.” Jane took his hands and pulled him to the seat next to her. “Come, sit, tell me about school. Is it going well?” Sebastian shrugged. With his parents’ constant argument, he could hardly focus on school.
He changed topics. “But I must get home sooner or later. I’m sure my parents ought to be looking for me in the basement by now.” It felt as though he had been in this strange land a long time. Besides, Jane was the one aunt he would never want to spend time with.
“Just stay a little longer. My sister and that husband of hers is always arguing. I don’t think they’ll miss you for a second.”
He shook his head. “No, Auntie, I have to get home. Please take me home now.”
His aunt looked genuinely hurt. “But if I take you home, you can never come back.” He nodded and thought. I wouldn’t want to, not when you’re in charge. “Okay, if you wish.” He stood up. She held out her hand, a red puff of smoke later, a golden rifle appeared on her palm. She pointed the gun at him. His eyes open wide and she pulled the trigger.
Lying on the old couch in the basement, Sebastian screamed as he sat up. He could hear the muffle voices of his parents arguing upstairs. It seemed like he hadn’t left for a minute. He rushed to the door and yanked it open. a wisp of cool night breeze hit his face and in the distance, the train roared. He sighed. “I’m back.”