Alice in One-der-land and the Water Caterpillar

Alice backed out of the spare one-room cottage the fairy Locarb had loaned her. “Thank you so much for that wonderful breakfast, Locarb! Who’d have thought I could have a whole two-egg scramble loaded with onions, peppers, broccoli and all the cheese I could want plus bacon and sausage! I’m stuffed!”

“Wait!!” Locarb ran up and pressed a silver cylinder in Alice’s hand. You’ll need this today. “See? It comes with a lanyard string so you can clip it to your belt.” Suiting words to action, the fairy used a stainless steel clip in Alice’s favorite bright blue color to clip to the bright blue lanyard strap. Thanks to the elastic in the waist, the jeans sagged a little, but not uncomfortably. “There! Nice and tidy! Have fun today!”

Alice waited until her friend had disappeared back into the cute cottage before beginning her journey to discover One-der-land. She pulled the magical map out of her pocket provided by the Lord and Master when she’d met him for the second time. As promised, most of the map was blank, but everywhere she’d been was filled in with great detail. “Hmm. He really meant it when he said I’d have to discover all of this for myself, because every adventure is different for each person.” She put the map back in her blue jeans pocket.

The path to the right looked green and lush with flowers, and the path to the left was dry and smelled bad. However, there was a garden gate over each with a sign. On the lush green side was the word, “Water” and over the dry smelly side were the words, “Soda Pop and Others.”

Alice folded her arms over her ample chest and stuck out her chin stubbornly. Fury and outrage heated her face to bright red, and she tapped her swollen feet in her Crocs. “Oh, I can see where this is going. Oh, no you don’t! I hate the taste of water and I refuse to give up my soda pop!” She put her upturned nose in the air, and marched through the dry gate.

The hard-packed path was well trodden if all the footprints in the dust were any clue. However, the air was fetid and still. Mounds of disgusting, putrid matter rotted just off the path in plain sight. Even the bugs that landed on the piles died and added their bodies to the foul mess.

Her throat grew parched in the desiccated air. Alice longed for a cold can of soda pop to quench her thirst. Still, she stubbornly refused to turn back. “There’s always a soda pop machine or coffee shop around. All I need to do is find one.”

Sure enough, she found a soda pop machine and paid for the brightly colored metal can. Quickly, she gulped down the icy liquid. Immediately, her stomach grew very uncomfortable, but Alice was used to the sensation. She burped loudly and laughed. “It’s not that I’m rude! It’s the soda’s fault!”
Still, as soon as the soda machine was out of sight, Alice’s thirst returned and even worse, she began to feel more than a little constipated. The more she walked, the worse it got. She clutched her lower belly, and wondered if she’d have to run behind the stinking mounds that grew higher and higher the more she traveled.

In the distance was a familiar green and white sign of her favorite coffee shop with its perfect little patio, music playing, and trendy folks sipping their luxuriously flavored confections.

Alice ran happily into the cool interior of the shop and paid the last of her money for the tallest, most flavorful of the drinks, with extra whipped topping and a sprinkle of cinnamon. As if in penance, she marched over to the embellishment counter and dumped in eight packets of the pink stuff instead of sugar and considered herself quite virtuous for having done so. Since she got her coffee “with legs” she marched on to continue her journey of discovery, sipping her coffee and sighing blissfully when she felt energy race through her body.

However, very soon the cup was empty and her throat drier than ever. Worse, her stomach was now distended and no facilities were in sight to give her a safe, clean place to relieve herself. She was forced to choose between two equally foul hills of disgusting brown matter, and spent an agonized half hour crouched in the open while her body tried to expel the natural results of eating solid food. It was hard and dry, and she didn’t have her medicines to make it all go away a lot faster, but finally the pain ended and another pile of brown matter joined the others. Even as she pulled up her pants to hide her wide hips, the little pile grew a little larger and a few insects that landed on the top died.

Miserable and out of money, Alice hung her head and trudged back the way she’d came to the gates. By the time she arrived back where she started her day, the noon sun pounded down on her unmercifully and she croaked out a whimper of need. She shut the gate and leaned against the soft green gate.

At her hip, the stainless steel cylinder clanked against the wood. The heavy, bell-like tone promised at least something inside to get her tongue unstuck from the roof of her mouth.

Frantically, Alice unscrewed the lid, put the short tube to her parched lips, and cautiously took a sip. Delicious lemon-lime flavor danced on her tongue while the life-giving liquid swirled around in her mouth and slid down her throat. With a cry of joy, Alice took another drink.

Again the delicious flavor revived her. What was this delightful substance that eased her thirst and tickled her tongue with flavor all at once? Without meaning to do so, she drained the whole thing.

Regretting the loss, Alice recapped the top and clipped it back to her belt. If she got thirsty again, she’d just have to turn around and go back to Locarb’s cottage to ask for more.
The green path was a joy to walk upon after her horrific morning in the heat. Plants provided shade, and trickling waterfalls cooled the air. Alice filled her steel bottle with the water, and discovered the water there tasted like strawberries! Another waterfall tasted like a pina colada! The water fountains each gave refreshing unflavored water that was icy cold and still delicious.

She bathed in an effervescent pond and enjoyed the way the water bubbled to keep her clean. Her clothes dried quickly, and soon Alice felt better than she had in many days.

Alice danced along the path, enjoying the clean fresh air and the pretty butterflies that decorated everything. Birds sang along the path, and when she had to “go” again, she hid in the bushes and was quickly done, with large leaves available to help clean her up.

Finally, at a wide point in the path, she met a huge green caterpillar, sipping on a fruited ice confection the color of rainbows. He waved languidly at a huge bucket of ice. “Come and have some fruited ice with me, Alice! The day is warm, but we can be cool this way!”

“Why thank you, Sir! I shall be happy to join you!” At his direction, Alice took a small bowl and scooped up some of the brightly colored ice. However, she had learned a lesson.“Is this something Locarb would approve of my eating?”

Caterpillar laughed heartily and waved his spoon. “Absolutely! In fact, she’s supposed to come join us!”

“And here I am!” Locarb flew down from the treetops, and twirled lightly in the grass before running to join Alice. “What a lovely day!” She picked up her own bowl and pondered her choices. “I feel like lime today!” Soon, she sat on a sturdy mushroom next to Alice and stuck out her green tongue to show off.

Alice, who’d chosen blueberry, stuck out her blue tongue and giggled. “I haven’t had this much fun in years!”

Caterpillar smiled happily. “What’s more, you’ve learned the value of water. Flavor it with any of the flavored syrups Locarb has mentioned, and you’ll only need one of those little pink, yellow or blue packets instead of eight.” He pointed to the steel water bottle at Alice’s side. “That will keep cold drinks cold, or hot herb tea deliciously warm, no matter what the season. Who said water had to be plain?”

Alice grinned. “Could I have the recipe for this lovely flavored ice?”

“Of course! I do recommend using sugar substitute for the sugar, and of course sugar free gelatin, but other than that, the recipe is fine. My grandmother gave me this one long ago.” Caterpillar smiled and handed her another piece of paper. “Soon, you’ll need a binder. I’m sure the Decker-cat will have one for you, if you ask.”


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