As it Began
In which Alice discovers a whole new world
Alice had to admit that it had been a simply lovely day.
It was early summer and the air was full of life.
She and her sisters had spent the morning playing on the riverbank, collecting bright leaves and sweet-scented flowers to press later in the day.
They had been having such an exciting time, running through the lush grass and laughing in delight at each new discovery that they had made.
In the afternoon they had played in the garden and, as evening drew in, they moved their games indoors until it was time to put their heads down for the night.
Now Alice was wrapped up comfortably in bed watching the kitten playing at the foot of the sheets.
In equal measure, Alice observed, the young cat would either sharpen her claws on the covers, worry her own tail or pounce on Alice’s ankles.
After a while the kitten grew tired of this game and she made her way up the bed to snuggle in Alice’s arms.
‘It must be lovely to be a kitten,’ thought Alice, as she watched the furry form play with the lace trim on her nightdress.
‘No school lessons to learn and you can play every day, whenever you want to,’ she sighed, more to herself than to the young cat.
The kitten said nothing but slipped under the covers and started to make her way back down towards the end of the bed.
‘Oh Kitty,’ said Alice, as she felt the wriggling cat push past her legs, ‘you are so naughty not settling down to sleep for the night.’
The kitten ignored her and burrowed all the harder until she reached Alice’s feet.
Alice watched the writhing lump in the bed as it came to a stop.
‘Whatever are you doing under there?’ she asked, as she stifled a yawn.
The kitten made a half turn under the covers and started playing with Alice’s toes.
‘Chasing imaginary mice, no doubt,’ Alice continued, in a sleepy voice.
‘Only you won’t find any down there, I am sure,’ she added hopefully.
‘At least, I mean that I hope that you don’t ... or do I mean that I am sure that I hope that you don’t?’ for by now, Alice was quite tired and her thoughts were starting to take on a life of their own.
‘Imagine, for instance, what you might find down there if you really went looking,’ she said to herself, as she pulled the covers over her head and peered into the darkness. ‘There might be a whole different world down there for all we know!
‘Maybe I should take just a little peek,’ said Alice, in a mischievous fashion. ‘Then I will go straight home and tell everyone about the simply marvellous things that exist down there.’
She took another look.
The darkness certainly looked inviting.
Not at all like being caught in the woods after dark or waking up at night from a bad dream.
It was quite a different sort of darkness altogether.
‘Very much like just being asleep,’ thought Alice, giving another yawn.
‘So comforting in a warm and wonderful sort of way,’ she mused, as she half closed her eyes several times.
In another instant she had closed them completely and her adventures had begun.
* * * * *
The first sensation that Alice felt was one of falling down a deep, deep hole.
It wasn’t that Alice had that much experience falling down holes, deep or otherwise.
Rather, it was the sensation that she thought she might feel if she ever did fall down a sufficiently deep hole, except that there was no rush of wind through her hair and certainly no visual cues to suggest that she was falling anywhere in particular at all.
It was quite an exhilarating feeling, really, and after a while Alice started to become less and less alarmed by the whole experience.
‘After all,’ she thought, ‘if I am falling somewhere then there is very little that I can do about it so I might as well enjoy it while I can. But, oh, this is going on for such a long time that there must surely be an extra solid bump when I finally do land at wherever it is that I am going.
‘I don’t mind falling,’ she added, bravely, ‘but it is the sudden stop, you know. That is what really hurts.
‘Then again,’ thought Alice, ‘as I fall, I can feel my stomach rising up so maybe the rest of me will follow and, if that happens, then maybe I won’t land quite as hard as I expect to. Why, I might even end up levitating and then things would be quite different. In fact, if that was the case, then there would be hardly any gravity in the situation at all and I might even find myself flying! And that is quite possible, you know, for I don’t suppose that there is really that much difference between falling and flying, when I stop to think about it.’
Alice found this thought rather comforting and, as she had nothing better to do at that particular moment, she gave the idea a bit more consideration.
‘I suppose,’ she added, at length, ‘that I should start flapping my arms like a bird if I really want to fly. But then, if I did, I would need to flap my arms very fast indeed and I am not at all sure that they would stay fastened at that sort of speed.’
So Alice continued falling as before.
The next sensation that Alice felt was that she had come to a stop.
Strictly speaking, there wasn’t any abrupt deceleration or sudden impact involved in this.
She simply felt that she was no longer falling.
‘If I have stopped falling then I must have arrived at wherever it is that I am going,’ she thought to herself.
‘But where is it that I am now?’
After a few minutes of nothing happening, Alice ...