I woke up half an hour later with my face flat against the floor of the library. There was no sign of Long John Silver. I felt sure I must have imagined it, yet I knew in my heart that I had not. Sure enough, when I rolled over and sat up, there was a small parrot feather on the floor beside me. Oh great, I thought to myself, there’s a deranged pirate loose somewhere in my house. Just what I need. I looked to where the copy of Treasure Island was sitting just minutes before and saw, to my horror that it had gone. In its place was a new book; the copy of Alice in Wonderland that I had seen the day before. I picked it up and walked back to my room, feeling very confused. Maybe I was imagining it, I thought. Maybe I will wake up and this will all just be a dream. I got into bed and turned the light off, hoping to get a good nights sleep, but instead being plagued with terrible nightmares of pirates and giant parrots.
I knew that reading the book was a bad idea, but when I woke up the first thing I turned to was the copy of Alice in Wonderland from the day before. I just needed to know whether I really was going mad. I began to read.
Alice was beginning to get very tired of sitting by her
sister on the bank, and of having nothing to do:
once or twice she had peeped into the book
her sister was reading, but it had no pictures or
conversation in it…
Suddenly, I heard a voice coming from my en suite bathroom. Oh God, I thought to myself, here we go again. I turned around to see a rather inquisitive seven year old staring at me.
‘And what is the use of a book,’ she said, ‘without pictures or conversation?’
‘Let me guess,’ I said, ‘you’re Alice?’
‘Yes,’ she said as she curtseyed, ‘Please Ma’am is this New Zealand or Australia?’
‘This isn’t either’, I said, ‘What on earth makes you think we’re in Australia?’
‘I fell down a rabbit hole; it was ever such a long fall. I thought to myself, well, after such a fall as this, I shall think nothing of tumbling down stairs!’
This was all wrong. She was supposed to fall into Wonderland, not my house! I frantically flicked through the pages of the book, and saw to my horror that everything after Alice fell down the rabbit hole had faded, and been replaced with the conversation I’d just had with her.
‘Oh God,’ I mumbled, ‘The book is rewriting itself!’
‘If you please, may I enquire as to your name?’
‘Oh,’ I turned around, ‘It’s Alice’
‘Oh what a coincidence! What laughs we shall have’ she said in delight.
‘No, this is all wrong. Do you know what was supposed to happen to you? You were going to show up in somewhere called Wonderland. Not here. You’re a book character! You must have come here by magic somehow. And I’ve got to find a way to get you back, or I’ve just erased one of the most classic books in the last two hundred years’
‘Would I be right in thinking, young lady, that you require assistance regarding this problem of how to get us back where we belong?’ said Long John Silver striding into the room, his great coat trailing behind him and his earring gleaming in the light.
‘You again!’ I exclaimed
‘Aye,’ he said, ‘I know who sent us here and I know how to get back’
‘Well that’s great, because I have absolutely no idea what the heck is going on’ I said sarcastically.
‘Have you heard of the villain Jareth Lestrade?’
‘Are you sure? I didn’t know you’d lost your memories as well as your powers’ gasped Silver
‘What do you mean?!’
‘It doesn’t matter, you’ll find out soon enough. He’s the one who has been disrupting books. At the beginning of time, he was imprisoned by the great sorceress Akmunrah in a book. The only way he could have escaped is for someone to read the ancient spell out loud. To get us back, we must find the book and return him to his prison. Then order can be restored. You are our only hope,’ he said solemnly, ‘It is your destiny to save the world’
‘I must be dreaming’ I said
‘If you want proof, go back to the library. What you will find there will convince you’
Then, just like that, he took Alice by the hand and vanished. I decided I must be dreaming. But something about the name Akmunrah had reminded me of something, like a friend I’d had as a small child and forgotten about. So I decided to check the library anyway. It turned out to be the smartest thing I’ve ever done in my life. Because it set into place a great sequence of events that made me who I am today.
I thought about Silver’s words as I walked along the long corridor leading to the library. I hadn’t lost my memory. He must have mistaken me for someone else. I am not the sort of person brave enough, or smart enough to save the world. ‘I must have eaten some funny cheese’ I thought to myself.
I opened the door to the library. What I saw there shocked me. Right in the centre of the library there was a gaping hole, a hole in time. It was a whirling black and gold vortex. There was a note pinned to the chair. My hands shaking, I picked it up and read it through. Then I had to sit down quickly. Trembling, I read it again; to make sure I’d read it correctly.
I know who you are. You may have forgotten for now, but one day you will remember. And when you do, I’ll be waiting. So, how do you like my little bit mischief here then? Your worst nightmare, isn’t it? All the books of the world destroyed… I don’t care who you get to help you, you will never beat me. For I am all powerful, and you are trapped in a mortal’s body. This is revenge for what you did to me all those years ago. And this time I’m not feeling generous. Anyone who gets in my way, dies.
So what Silver had said was true. It was this Jareth person. But I didn’t understand why he seemed to hate me. I’d never met him before in my life. I wasn’t trapped in a ‘mortal’s body’, and I wasn’t suffering from amnesia. Well, I thought to myself, if I was suffering from amnesia I wouldn’t remember it. So that is why I decided to hear Silver out. And as if by magic, as soon as this thought crossed my mind, he appeared again.
‘Believe me now?’
‘Yes,’ I sighed, ‘I don’t know what all this is about, but I guess it’s my duty to stop it.’
‘Good,’ said Silver, ‘Then you’d better decide who’s coming with us’
‘Hang on a minute, I’ve just noticed that your accent is fading, and your speech has changed. What’s happening?’
‘It’s a side effect of being stuck here, eventually I’ll be just like your generation, and I won’t remember anything about being a pirate’
‘But that’s awful!’
‘This is why we need to defeat Jareth as quickly as possible. Now who’s coming with us?’
‘What do you mean?’
‘See that hole? It is a time portal. Jareth is in there somewhere. And if you want a chance of beating him, you’d better have a great team behind you. Look around us. It’s a massive library. You have the pick of any character here. Just read the opening of their book and they’ll appear.’
I wandered slowly around the library, thinking carefully about who I would summon. There mustn’t be too many people, or we’d attract attention. Me, Silver…, but who else?
I’d need someone brave, someone kind, someone logical and rational, someone with magical powers would be helpful too, and maybe someone strong and skilled at fighting, and…
‘Oh,’ said Silver, ‘Did I mention you can only take three people?’
Oh dear, I thought to myself, now I’ll have to narrow down my search. I supposed I should take Silver, as he seemed to know what was going on and what should be done, but that left me with just two people, two people two help me save the world. I went to the nearest bookshelf and looked at the titles. I couldn’t decide. I thought about the list of qualities I thought of earlier, brave, kind, logical, magical, and strong.
‘What do you think of these qualities then, Captain?’ I asked Silver, remembering he seemed to be able to read my thoughts.
‘Aye, they be fine qualities.’ he replied, ‘so, we’ve already got someone brave, which would be me, and magical, so we just need someone strong, someone kind, and someone logical.’
‘We haven’t got anyone magical’ I said
‘You may not know it now, but you were once a great sorceress. You seem to be suffering from amnesia, but if you think hard enough, the magic will come. And you seem kind enough to me, and logical, so we really just need someone strong.’
‘I’m not magical!’ I exclaimed
‘Oh yeah, look behind you’
I turned around to see a woman suspended in the air. She had red hair, the colour of a post-box, which gleamed in the light, and green eyes that sparkled. She looked strangely familiar somehow…
‘Hello Alice,’ she said in a Republic of Ireland accent, ‘I’ve been waiting for this day to come. I am you, you from the future. You will get through this battle with Jareth, and you shall find out your true destiny, but it will come with great sacrifice. That is all I can tell you for now, but know that if you are pure of mind and heart, then help will always be there.’
Then she vanished. I stood stunned for a moment. “Great sacrifice”? I thought to myself, that doesn’t sound good.
‘See?’ said Silver, ‘Now what are you waiting for? Let’s find two other characters and go’