“You could say that”, Death replied. Despite being enemies, the two sat and smoked as the Caterpillar reminisced about ‘her’ adventures. Before long, the substance in the Caterpillar’s apparatus started to have it’s effect on Death.
Surprised and distressed, Death shot up from his seat on the fallen tree.
“Surprised?”, the large worm asked.
“This … isn’t … supposed to ….. happen,” Death replied between coughs and in a choked voice.
“And why is that? Aren’t you wearing the Hatter’s Toppy? Of all the visitors to this world you should have known better, Alice.”
Death choked some more as he struggled to remove the hat. Dropping to a knee, he looked the worm in the eye.
“What did you call me?”
The Caterpillar laughed in his usual boisterous manner, his great belly jiggling as he did so.
“I used your name girl! Didn’t you learn the first time you were here not to wear the Hatter’s Hat? The part about giving something up for what it gives you?”
“I’m … no … girl!” Death shouted defiantly, preparing to attack.
The Caterpillar laughed again, pointing at Death’s robe. “You sure about that?”
Much to his own amazement, Death could see his robe turning into a dress. looking at his hands, he now noticed that they were flesh-covered and delicate looking with a fair tone. As he reached the back of his head, the thin, sinew-like strands of hair were now thick, soft and flowing locks of … blond! – he noticed as the hair grew over his shoulder.
As the changes progressed, the world around him seemed to be dissolving as the Caterpillar explained:
“You traded your existence as death for the knowledge of Alice’s whereabouts. Since she hasn’t been here for quite some time, the hat apparently decided it best for you to become Alice…. Alice.”
As all went dark, Death panicked and flailed as a faint voice grew louder and louder.
“Alice! Wake up!”
Alice woke to her father shaking her, trying to wrest his daughter from her slumber. As her own memories began to flood back, her Father asked:
“How do you feel? I saw you’d gone into my liquor cabinet, and my bottle of Absinthe was missing. AGAIN.”
“Sorry father,” the girl replied, still slightly surprised at the small, feminine tone now present in her voice. “I’d hoped to get rid of this terrible cold. I didn’t realize that I’d grabbed the wrong bottle.”
Alice’s father grinned; it was still somewhat common to treat a cold with a hot toddy.
“Well, no harm was done. Next time, have Nanny make it. This absinthe causes the damnedest of dreams.”
Alice merely grinned, believing her father, even as the rosebush behind him began to drip…