Palo Alto Weekly 31st Annual Short Story Contest
Third Place Teen


By Alice Lee

About Alice Lee

Alice Lee is a seventh grader at Terman Middle School and lives in Palo Alto. Her other hobbies include reading, taekwondo, basketball, cello, coding, and hanging out with her sister.


In sixth grade, our class had to do a project where we had to make a map of a make-believe place. I was inspired to make a map of Wonderlandia because whenever I tell someone my name their immediate response is "Oh, Alice in Wonderland!" I've read books and seen movies about Alice in Wonderland but I had no idea of the layout of "Wonderland." So I decided to make my own. As extra credit, we could write a short history of our continent. My friend wrote one, and after reading it I decided to write one too. By then the deadline for the project had already passed, so I just wrote it on my own. I recently was looking through my old stories and decided to submit it to the contest.


Judges' comments

An ambitious allegory of modern life that uses the setting and characters of Alice in Wonderland, this story creates its own clever exploration of human society and its conflicts.

Way back then, Wonderlandia was not Wonderlandia, but Wonderland. Back then was when the Wonderlandians were quite carefree and had no troubles at all.

When Alice came tumbling down the rabbit hole, she was dreaming, but her imagination was so strong that she created a whole new continent: Wonderland. You see, imagination is much more powerful than one might expect. That day she might have been dreaming, but she created a world that she believed in so much that it shimmered into existence.

Long after Alice had become old and withered away, the people in Wonderlandia had been living happily, until one day an eccentric scientist entered Wonderland in his dreams. Anyone from Earth can enter Wonderlandia if they ever need a break from the polite and organized society and need a bit of madness in their life. The scientist was so eccentric that he fit right in, and never wanted to leave. Soon he had moved on from his life on Earth, for there was nothing for him there.

If there was one thing that never left him, though, it was his patriotism. Wonderland was a monarchy, ruled by the Queen of Hearts. But the scientist felt as though too few tea leaves were available, and suspected the Queen was hoarding it all for herself. Of course, being a Wonderlandian, a day's worth of tea was enough for a month if you were on Earth. When a friend working at the castle accidentally discovered a secret room with heaps of tea leaves, the scientist was outraged. But he was crafty and secretly whispered rumors to his friends, the Mad Hatter and the March Hare. They, of course, could not keep the secret, and went around town yelling into a megaphone, "The queen is robbing us of our tea! WE MUST REBEL!"

The people and animals who heard got angry at the queen and formed a rebel group, the Cheshire Smiles, led by the Cheshire cat. This was all because of the crafty scientist, who sat back and watched his plan in effect. The rebel group got strong enough and soon they marched through the gates of the Heart Castle. It wasn't really that hard. The card soldiers had become lazy, because they thought that nobody would dare attack the Queen. The Cheshire Smiles walked up to the Queen's chambers and demanded that she leave the continent, or else they would lock her in her own closet. She agreed but begged for two things. One, that croquet would be preserved, and two, Wonderland would become Wonderlandia in her honor. The rebels thought these were minor and they would not be hard to carry out.

Just like that, the Queen of Hearts had fled to a nearby island, where she lived with her heart card soldiers. They lived a simple life, and croquet was their favorite pastime.

The other card soldiers were released, and they found wives and had children and did all the nonsensical things Wonderlandians do.

You may think that is the end of the story, but this was just the beginning. The top ranking soldiers, the Ace of Spades, the Jack of Clovers, and the King of Diamonds, started arguing over who would be the next King.

"I should be King because my title is already King," the King of Diamonds said pompously.

"I should be King because I am the strongest," the Jack of Clovers said.

"I should be the King because I am calculating and deceitful," the quiet Ace of Spades said.

They started a campaign of sorts. The real competition was between the Ace of Spades and the Jack of Clovers. The Ace charmed the crowd with his rousing speeches and his unnatural calmness. No yelling or tomato-throwing could put him off. The Jack showed off his physical ability with small stunts that would make the crowd start to "oooh" and "aaaah." The King got almost no attention. He only became one of the top soldiers because all of his troop was terribly clumsy, and he was the least clumsy of them. Compared to the others, though, he was next to nothing. His way of campaigning was sitting at taverns and telling jokes.

The three cards got together and planned the voting day. They said when the townsfolk saw a white flag flying over the castle, it would be voting day.

By the way, were you wondering about the rebels? They were disgusted by the rebuilding of a monarchy, as they were created to oppose monarchies. They walked away from Wonderlandia and created their own democracy on an island they named Cheshire Island (there was an abundance of uninhabited islands in Wonderlandia).

On voting day, people flocked from far and wide to participate in the first election that had ever happened. In the end, the Ace of Spades won, and he got right down to business. And he wasn't what everyone thought he was. The Ace of Spades had actually been a scheming card who had been quietly rising through the ranks. He was waiting for the day when he would be powerful enough to be King.

He first issued for the sky to be turned blue. Next, he made a law that said the Wonderlandians could only have one pot of tea per day. This, of course sent the Wonderlandians into an outrage. He declared that all human Wonderlandians would live in houses, and animals would live in their respectable habitats. Children would go to elementary school, then middle school, then high school, then college. All talking animals or plants would only be able to speak their native language, not "human" language. Cards would be of the same ranking as humans. There would be some order in the world.

These new set of laws sent Wonderlandia into an uproar. Some people, to avoid these laws, moved to Cheshire or Heart Island. But others either wanted to stay and set Wonderlandia right. Others thought it was too much of a bother and agreed obediently.

The Ace of Spades had been inspired by a dusty old book he had found in the Royal Library. It told about another world on a planet called Earth, written by none other than Alice herself, when she was feeling homesick. The Ace weeded out nonsense words and forbade anyone to speak them. Card Soldiers patrolled the streets in order to prevent anyone from finding a way to rebel.

Unfortunately, nobody could find a way to evade the laws, for the soldiers were always watching. Instead, the townsfolk lived like this until the Ace of Spades passed away. The old ways were restored, people started to steal tea from the Ace's private stores, and everyone returned to their usual madness.

There was still the problem of a new ruler. The scientist had passed away about a decade after the Ace stepped into the seat of power. Nobody knew anything about democracies.

The three remaining regions, the Spade, Diamond, and Clover, fought over who should be the next ruler, and from which region. Well, the Diamonds and Clovers wouldn't stand for another Spade ruler, and the Spades had had their taste of power and wanted to remain in power.

The people in the region of Spade started to secretly create its own army. They were led by the son of the Ace of Spades, making him Ace of Spades II. The Ace of Spades II was not as cold-hearted as his dad, but he had inherited his clever and cunning. He angered the people of the Spades by saying that the other two regions, Diamond and Clover, were creating their own army together. "The only way to counter this," the Ace of Spades II declared, "is by creating our own army!" Anybody who wanted to join the army would meet next to the Tulgey Woods, where the Jabberwocky was rumored to live.

On the day of the meeting, about a thousand Wonderlandians (armies were not very big back in those days), humans and animals, all came to fight.

So the Ace of Spades II built up his Spade Army until it was almost ready to attack. But just at the last moment, one of the archers in the Spade Army leaked information about the Army. Suddenly the whole of Wonderlandia knew about the Spade Army. But there was nothing anybody could do about it. They would attack at the next dawn, and there was not enough time to prepare a defense army.

Well, you can imagine what happened the next day.

A huge army of Wonderlandians attacked the capital of the Diamond region, Dijamant. They had managed to evacuate almost half of the people overnight, to the edge of the Uncrossable Desert. The other half of the people were told to keep their doors locked, close their windows, and stay alert. Dijamant had a small army of card soldiers, but nobody ever needed them. Unfortunately, they were badly trained and had never been in battle. They knew nothing of fighting.

When the Spade Army arrived, they flowed into the capital quietly. The guards had fallen asleep (of course) and it was easy to enter the city. The terrified people had finally fallen asleep, and the Spade Army laid siege.

Everything was chaos. It was dark, and nobody could see. Swordsmen entered houses and dens chasing screaming Wonderlandians who had never seen a sword before. The Ace of Spades had trained them to be ruthless and not hesitant to use their weapons. Archers stood atop a high hill and rained arrows down at the city. Some card soldiers stood their ground and fought, but were cut down in the mob. Many card soldiers fled, along with other Wonderlandians. Here is an entry of the King of Diamonds' grandson, a skilled fighter and devoted to the cause of Diamond. He barely survived.

- - -

The 3476th day

All was quiet. I was starting to think that their would be no attack, and that we would be fine. It was an hour past dawn, and many of our people were asleep. My eyelids started to droop, and I had been awake all night. Soon, blackness enveloped me.

I woke up to screams. Horrible screams. Screams I would never forget.

The siege had begun.

I had run to the castle, up the stairs, my heart pounding, my legs pumping. I reached the highest turret, where I loved to stare at the stars. I carefully walked over to the edge of the turret. When I looked down, I was blinded by the gleam of swords. All of my people were running, running away from the terrifying creatures with the Ace symbol stamped across their chest. My first instinct had been to run away with them, but they were destroying my people. I could not let it happen.

The calls for help from my people were tearing me apart. I wanted to jump off the tower and kill every single one of those monsters. Instead, I scanned the ground, looking for their leader. No one looked even remotely like a leader. It was just wave after wave of soldiers. I could do virtually nothing with my twelve arrows I had in my quiver. Twelve less soldiers would make no difference at all. So I ran down to the lowest tower where my father made speeches, grabbed his megaphone, and yelled, "Run, you cannot fight them!"

Only a few people could hear me through the ruckus, and they were trying their best to run. Suddenly, an arrow whizzed through the air toward me. I ducked. Carefully, I looked down. A man with dark hair was looking back up at me, his next arrow aimed straight up. I ducked again, but not before I saw his face.

I recognized him. The Ace of Spades II.

He was the leader. I crept down the stairs quietly, not wanting to alert the Ace. Then, I opened the back door and peeked around the corner. There he was, giving orders to a goat. Silently, I raised my bow and aimed my arrow at him. Upon releasing it I ducked back behind the door. Afraid someone would come hunt me down, I ran farther into the castle.


- - -

In fact, the soldiers did hunt him down, but as the Jack of Diamonds was a talented fighter, he grabbed a sword off a coat of armor and fought them off.

The siege lasted the rest of the day, and at the end most of the people had run away or had been killed. The soldiers went back to the Spade headquarters.

The next leader of the Spade Army was a sleek cheetah. The inhabitants of Clover and Diamond prepared their own separate armies. They did not trust each other, however, so they did not band together.

War broke out, and lines of synchronized soldiers marching could be seen wherever you turned.

In doing this, Wonderlandia was becoming more and more like Earth. No one tried to stop the war except for the Mad Hatter, who, if you remember, was a friend of the scientist from before. He couldn't stand the fighting and mistrust and wished for everyone to be carefree and happy again.

The thing is, Wonderlandia had been created as a way to escape from the orderliness of Earth, but now that it was becoming just like Earth, the point of it existing was gone. There was no more madness left in it, only war and fighting.

One by one, people and animals began to fade from existence as they became more dedicated to the war. The Mad Hatter watched in horror as people started disappearing, until the streets seemed deserted, until great cities became ghost towns.

Thus, Wonderlandia and all it's surrounding islands faded away into nothingness, with no one to tell it's tale.

Except for me.

-The Mad Hatter

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