Madness smiled, “I am glad to see you so eager, my friend. I shall call the White Rabbit to escort us at once.” He seemed to float down from his post, landing soundlessly on the floor and gliding towards the door. “Keep there, dear Simon, we shall be in Wonderland shortly.”
And then he was gone. It seemed he had disappeared out of thin air, but I noticed the door that was completely shut before, was now suddenly adjacent. I was now alone. Thoughts flooded into my head, threatening to drown me, but with a deep sigh, I was able to sort them and analyze them one at a time.
I was mad now, a certified lunatic, yet I did not feel the slightest bit odd or peculiar. All I felt was the constant ache of sadness that I managed to ignore for the most part, and perhaps a slight draft from the now adjacent door. But there could be no denying that I saw, heard, and believed in Madness as a living being. No one would be able to see him but myself; no one had the honor of seeing him but myself, if it was as he said. I was a genius, a prodigy, I had known since I was a boy that I had a passion for hats, and a knack for knowing what was in style and out of style. A sense of pride rushed over me, filling my chest with a warm, swollen feeling that was quite pleasant. I had always known I was the best, why had I not realized sooner that I was a real genius? I was the Mozart of hats, the Napoleon of fashion. I could predict new trends before they happened and paved the way for new ones. I was well known throughout London, and very successful.
Suddenly I felt that I was much too big for London, or even this world. My whole attitude and outlook changed. I would hat a new world and start a new life, for this one no longer had anything to offer me. My world was gone, dead, the people here held no value to me anymore. Everything about here reminded me of what I had lost and filled me with agony, in a new world I could forget. No, not forget, for I would never in a million years wish to forget my dear Anna and precious Doris, but I could move on and remember them without staring at the people and places that were there when they were alive. The thought had passed over me that he could be taking me to my death, that I was hallucinating and this “White Rabbit” was nothing but a knife or poison to end my life with. But if it was, so be it. I would then join my family in paradise.
I no longer cared where I was going, the longer I thought about it. Madness had promised to help me, to stop the pain and take me to a new world. He seemed trustworthy enough, for there was no one else around me offering such assistance. And what was the alternative? Shoo him away and suffer for the rest of my life, droning on pretending to live and be happy while being no more than a living corpse with the shadows of my past haunting me? I needed to leave, I was going to leave. I felt like the large burden of grief I had been carrying had hands on it preparing to take it away.
I hopped out of bed, filled with energy and exuberance, and dressed in my favorite outfit. Anna had made it especially for me: a dark green jacket, matching checkered vest and trousers, a top hat with a yellow ribbon specially picked out by Doris, and a spotted bowtie, also picked out by Doris.
“Well aren’t we dressed for the occasion?” Madness’s voice came from behind me just as I was adjusting my hat in the mirror.
“If I’m going to go, I might as well go in style.” I replied, reaching for my pocket watch. I glanced at the small family portrait on the inside for a moment before tucking it into my vest pocket.
I turned to face Madness, and beside of him was a rather large white rabbit in a waistcoat, looking very impatient.
“Simon, I would like you to meet the White Rabbit, he is the keeper of the keys, if you will, of the dimensions. Not everyone can summon him,” he raised his eyebrow, as if I should be impressed.
“Yes, yes Madness you are very important and I am very busy,” the White Rabbit cut in, “now it’s time to go or else we will be late.” The creature immediately turned and walked out.
“Late? For what, do we have an appointment with someone?”
“Oh, no my dear Simon,” Madness placed a hand on my shoulder and lead me in the direction the rabbit was headed. “You see, although only White has the power to summon the portals, there is a strict window of when they are available for summoning. Now although these windows can last up to ten minutes, once they are gone the next opening will not be available for another two hours,” he explained pushing me to walk a bit faster. “This window we are going to right now is scheduled to open in about…NOW!”
Suddenly I was floating through a swirling vortex, then falling through a strange tunnel filled with tables and chairs and dishes. The speed at which I fell was peculiar as well. One would expect to fall rather quickly when one’s trajectory was straight down, yet I believe I could have walked down the tunnel faster than my current rate.
“How’s the fall, my friend?” Madness floated down beside me, leisurely reclining as he descended.
“Strange,” I said, grabbing hold of my hat which was threatening to run away from me.
“You should start getting used to strange, my boy. From this point on, everything will be quite strange for you, I imagine.” He chuckled.
Before I had the chance to ask him to elaborate on this, I crashed into a table at the bottom. Madness skillfully landed on all fours.
“That’s just like old White,” Madness laughed, helping me up, “curt, but considerate.”
I wasn’t sure if I would consider setting up a table for me to fall on was my definition of “considerate,” but as Madness said things would be strange to me here. I needed an open mind. I looked around and we were heading down a hallway straight for a room full of doors.
Madness strode in front of one of them, took a key out of his pocket and waved it. “This way, friend, I have your house all ready for you.”