Chapter 6:

The Caterpillar


When the door opened, I saw a woman unlike any I’ve ever seen in my life.Bookmark here

She was tall—around six feet or so, with long, fluffy green hair that almost reached the floor. Her outfit barely covered anything on her, so I couldn’t help that my eyes immediately went to her chest. They were almost just...out there!Bookmark here

She had an airy, distant air about her as she took a long drag from her equally long pipe, then spoke in the most languid, lazy tone.Bookmark here

“Zuria, dear……..I came as fast as I could…….ah, where are you, darling?”Bookmark here

Zuria, who had opened the door for her, was standing right in front of this woman, but even with her hat on she barely reached the other’s chest.Bookmark here

“Down here, Ambrosia.”Bookmark here

The tall lady slowly looked down to where Zuria’s voice came from, then smiled fondly.Bookmark here

“Oh, my. What are you doing all the way down there?”Bookmark here

“I…I’m simply smaller than you.” Zuria adjusted her glasses, embarrassed.Bookmark here

“Oh? Why are you so small?” Ambrosia asked in a genuine tone. Bookmark here

Zuria stammered for a moment, at a loss for words. She decided to clear her throat and step back to let the tall woman inside her home and changed the subject instead.Bookmark here

“This,” she said, pointing at me with her palm, “is the Alice Spade.”Bookmark here

I felt like a deer in headlights. Bookmark here

I kept still, sitting on my chair, looking at her, wondering how she would react when she saw someone who was clearly a guy be referred to as ‘Alice’.Bookmark here

Ambrosia blinked her droopy eyes at me.Bookmark here

“...Oh………..I see. Nice to meet you, new Alice.”Bookmark here

“Uh…”Bookmark here

Zuria closed the door behind Ambrosia and I could see a slight smile on her face, most likely at my expense, even though she’s usually very polite.Bookmark here

“Despite the name Alice, the Alice Spade does not necessarily have to be female. 'Spade' is merely a title. The same goes for all the Spades, really. I chose from a pool of people named Alice in your world to make it easier on myself. There are simply too many of you to go through otherwise.”Bookmark here

Zuria explained the wacky elimination process she used to pick my sister out of everyone on Earth as she poured her visitor a cup of tea. Bookmark here

“...Yes, that’s right.”Bookmark here

Ambrosia agreed with her and took the seat where Zuria was sitting a moment ago. Everything about her was floaty, and I started to doubt if there even was a sensible brain in there. Bookmark here

But my doubts dissipated the next moment she opened her mouth.Bookmark here

“But……..where is the real Alice?”Bookmark here

She asked this with her eyes locked on me, burning through me.Bookmark here

I hadn’t said a word since this woman came in, and now I felt like anything I said would incriminate me in so many different ways.Bookmark here

Thankfully, Zuria stepped in.Bookmark here

“...Ambrosia… I need to tell you something.”Bookmark here

Ambrosia looked at her for a second, then she looked at me again.Bookmark here

“..........He’s not the real Alice Spade, is he.”Bookmark here

S-She figured it out so fast!Bookmark here

I looked at Zuria wondering if now was a good time to open my mouth or not. To my surprise, Zuria didn’t look too bothered by it. She shook her head.Bookmark here

“His name is Allen. He’s the twin brother of the chosen Alice Spade. He came here looking for his sister.” Bookmark here

“Oh, my.”Bookmark here

“We have reason to believe Alice is here in Wonderland, but we can’t cause a panic amongst the residents by letting them know she’s missing. We need our hero to begin recruiting valuable Spades for our cause, fast. That’s why…”Bookmark here

“That’s why………...?”Bookmark here

“That’s why…?” I found myself asking, too.Bookmark here

Zuria looked away and played with her floppy white ear.Bookmark here

“That’s why I need your help to turn him into a convincing Alice Spade.”Bookmark here

“Huh!? What!?”Bookmark here

I jumped out of my seat, ready to run.Bookmark here

“I’m not getting turned into a girl! No way!”Bookmark here

Ambrosia tilted her head to the side and brought a finger to her lips.Bookmark here

“.........Would that be so terrible?”Bookmark here

“Um, yes!? Yes it would be!”Bookmark here

She stood up as well, towering over me. It honestly scared me a little. It only took her a couple of steps before she was standing right in front of me.Bookmark here

“I think it would be an improvement. You’d make such a lovely girl.”Bookmark here

I opened my mouth wide and took a deep breath to yell something at her, but before I knew it, my jaw was tightly gripped in her hand, and she had lowered herself slowly to look at me at eye level.Bookmark here

Ggh—!Bookmark here

She smelled sweet and dangerous. I was terrified.Bookmark here

“...But that’s not how I do things, darling. So kindly refrain from forming your own assumptions about my methods before you see what it is that I do.”Bookmark here

Gently, she let go of my face and straightened up. Bookmark here

I felt sore. My forehead was sweating.Bookmark here

“Ugh...Fine…” I growled and rubbed my chin, pretending I hadn’t just been thoroughly humiliated. “What are you guys talking about, then?”Bookmark here

“Oh, goodness. I forgot to introduce myself to you, didn’t I? My name is Ambrosia, and I’m the current Caterpillar Spade.”Bookmark here

“The Caterpillar…”Bookmark here

Zuria had mentioned her to me before. Ambrosia smiled and nodded at me.Bookmark here

“My Spade power is Divination. I use my pipe to read the smoke and help Alice find other Spades.”Bookmark here

“Ah, so that’s why Zuria wanted me to meet you so quickly.”Bookmark here

“Fufu. I imagine so. But after hearing what happened to the original Alice, I can only assume there’s more to it than that, yes, darling?”Bookmark here

She glanced at a guilty-looking Zuria.Bookmark here

“Like I said, I need your help convincing anyone that meets Allen that he’s the real Alice Spade. At least until we find out what happened to the original one.”Bookmark here

“Hm. So you’re asking me to grant this fake Alice the official Spade Recruiter uniform, yes?”Bookmark here

“Ambrosia, I...I know this is an unusual request, but if you refuse to help just because he’s not the real Alice—”Bookmark here

“Oh, no. Dear Zuria, there’s no need to explain in so much detail. I’ll keep your secret.”Bookmark here

Zuria’s face lit up with hope, until Ambrosia continued.Bookmark here

“—On one condition.”Bookmark here

“Oh...yes…? Anything…”Bookmark here

“Fufu.”Bookmark here

Ambrosia turned to look at me with that empty stare of hers.Bookmark here

I frowned at her, waiting for what felt like forever for her next slow words.Bookmark here

She smiled, pointing her pipe at me.Bookmark here

“He has to find his ten Spades……...before Dorothy finds hers.”Bookmark here

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