A Bit ‘a Alice
By Adam L. Bealby
“Nurse! Do let’s pretend that I’m a hungry hyena. And you’re a bone!”
I’ve always had a bit of Alice in my life.
When I was eight I was with my gran in a supermarket when I saw a tower of stacked bread baskets, perhaps thirty feet high, just beginning to totter. Naturally, I ran over to prop up the leaning tower with tiny hands enticed to noble action. Buttressed from the base, the top of the tower continued its inexorable fall, but so unhurriedly I had time to take in the enormity of my error, to calmly consider my impending doom. Time sped up only as it dawned on me I should be using this god given grace to get the heck out of there. Time sped up so quickly, in fact, that the tower bore down on me with a malicious grinning ferocity, getting bigger as I got correspondingly smaller, consuming me in a sudden landslide of plastic.
Whereupon, and wherein, I began to have an asthma attack. A shop attendant pulled me out by the scruff of the neck and there was much panic and flapping and attention focused my way. With my gran in attendance, belligerently calling the shots (“My Adam could have died as a result of your negligence!”), we were whisked up to the canteen, where I was fed buttered toast and milk (“It’s free, you know,” Gran whispered, “So you better have another slice.”)
Of course, looking back now the baskets couldn’t possibly have been stacked thirty feet high. Time didn’t slow down; it didn’t speed up. The tower was neither grinning, nor malicious; it just was. It didn’t grow bigger, it came closer, and that made me feel small and vulnerable, and I was shocked and probably a bit embarrassed to be knocked off my feet, and that made me wheezy.
All of these subversions of memory are the result of my having been an eight-year-old kid, making sense of the world through a child’s eyes. They’re also subversions employed in the Alice books, of course. Lewis Carroll was appropriating a child’s eye view – the eyes of Alice Liddell – when he first concocted, narrated, no doubt embellished-in-the-telling, a story that so mesmerised his young charge she persuaded him to write it down. That first manuscript came to be known as Alice’s Adventures Under Ground.
Primeval stuff we tend to be closer to when we’re younger, that fades into the wonderland of the unconscious as we enter into adulthood – that’s the power of the Alice books. Or one of their powers at least.
An epilogue of sorts. As I was hoicked from the bread basket wreckage I heard an incredulous voice. A witness, drowned out, thankfully, by a tidal wave of well-meaning intentions:
“He pushed it! I saw him, he did!”
But I never did.
Adam L. Bealby writes fantasy, horror and weird fiction for both adults and children. His short stories and comic work have been published in numerous anthologies, including Spooked (Bridge House Publishing), Pagan (Zimbell House Publishing), Darkness Abound (Migla Press), Once Upon a Scream (HorrorAddicts.net), Sirens (World Weaver Press), World Unknown Review Vol. 2, rEvolution (MiFiWriters) and Murky Depths magazine. He lives in Worcestershire, UK with his wife and three children, and a harried imagination. Catch up with his latest ravings at @adamskilad.