A girl with long blonde hair ran deep into the woods. Her blue dress snagged on limbs and bushes, but she kept going. She had to get away from that awful place. The evil woman who owned the orphanage used the children to get money from the state. They slept on the floor and were limited food, while the owner had money in her pocket. She kept running, remembering the argument they had. She lost her temper and threw an iron pot at the owner's head. It missed and hit the wall, however she had to avoid the beating she was about to receive. The old hag didn't bother to chase her, hoping some wild animal would take care of her. She could feel a stitch forming in her side, but her feet kept going deeper into the forest. Leaves were starting to litter the ground, slowing her pace. She could start to see a clearing and her hopes went up. Maybe there was a road to a nearby town. Maybe she could find someone who would care enough to listen to what really went on at the orphanage. Her thoughts were disturbed when she stepped in a deeper section of leaves. Her foot didn't find the ground and instead of tripping, she discovered she was falling into a hole.
At first, she thought she had died. The darkness was unusual. Colors constantly shifted from blues, pinks, and purples. She wasn't afraid though. Then it started to get weird. Furniture was falling with her. A rocking chair, grandfather clock, and a set of plates passed her by. They were followed by a stack of books, and a tea set. Then she passed a bottle of milk and a stick of butter. She never thought death would be like this…if that was the case. She started to see a patch of grass form beneath her. Expecting to hit solid ground, she came to a sudden stop. She was caught in a small tree, hanging upside down. Her blue dress almost covered her face. She struggled to adjust it, but nothing helped. She took in what she could of her surroundings. The sky was a purplish color and was neither night nor day. She could recognize a long table not far from her with numerous tea kettles, cups, and place. There was a fence somewhere and she could tell it was a heavily wooded area. However, she had to get down. The blood was rushing to her head, making it pound with each beat of her heart. She guessed she was still alive. She heard footsteps as someone approached. At first she saw boots and dark pants that swirled dark blues and purples. It was mesmerizing to watch.
"Need some help?" A male voice spoke. Her face flushed since her dress was exposing almost everything it covered.
"Please," she begged. She heard him snap his fingers and it took her a moment to register she was on her feet again. She stumbled some, but he helped her regain her balance. She looked around. They were somewhere in a forest, but the trees had plum colored leaves. The bark swirled purples and greens. There was also a plain wooden house passed the large table, which she assumed belonged to the stranger. The tree she had fallen into was decorated with different colored ribbons and there was an odd balloon placed throughout the yard. One of them popped, and small peppermints with legs scattered. They ran under the table, under the fence, and into the woods.
"Where am I?" she asked, her head felt a little bit dizzy. The stranger in front of her had jet black hair. He wore a top had that swirled red on a black background. His eyes were dark and he had an eyebrow piercing and a few piercings in each ear.
"You're in Wonderland," he smirked.
"So I'm not dead?" she asked him.
He smirked again. "Don't be so disappointed."
She frowned and looked at the table. Some of the tea pots were still steaming and one had a puke green elephant creature asleep in it. Wherever she was, she was better off here. At least she hoped it was better than the orphanage. She shivered.
"If you're cold, I can make a fresh pot of tea for you," the stranger offered. "You can keep me company if you want to stay. There's no telling what creatures are out in the woods at the hour." He rambled on. "Or I could try to get you on your way back home, like the last person."
"Oh, I don't want to go back," she interrupted him. There was an awkward silence between them. He seemed like he wasn't used to company. He took a strawberry off the table, but instead of eating it the red disappeared when it hit his teeth.
"Taste this," he said offering her the gray strawberry. She looked at him like he just offered her a worm.
"I saw you bite into that! Are you crazy?" she yelled at him.
He laughed to himself. "Just a little mad," he winked at her. "I don't have cooties or anything. Just try it."
She couldn't believe she took the strawberry from him, but she took a bite avoiding where his tooth left a mark. It was the sweetest strawberry she had ever tasted and comforting warmth went through her. It was like he had wrapped her in a blanket that had been sitting out in the sun all day. Any anxiety she had disappeared. He took another strawberry off the table and did the same thing. She was less hesitant to take it.
"It's the best thing I've tasted in a while," she finally admitted. She bit the other strawberry and allowed the next wave of comfort to wash over her. The sweetness was delicious too.
"I'm the Mad Hatter by the way," he introduced himself. "You can just call me Marshall though."
"Why do they call you the Mad Hatter?" she asked him.
"Various reasons," Marshall told her. He waved his hand and a guitar appeared. "However, I guess everyone is mad here. Maybe you are too." He started floating a bit and she thought she was seeing things at first. He levitated as he softly hit a few notes on the guitar. "You haven't told me your name yet," he added. "I need to know who this next song is dedicated to," he winked at her.
"Fionna," she told him as she watched him levitate above the table. Then he started to sing until she knew the verses so well, she could join him.