QSFer Brian Barr has a new book with four twisted tales based on Alice and Wonderland:
Wonderland Quad contains four weird and dark Wonderland stories written by Brian Barr, influenced by the works of Lewis Carroll:
1. Alice and The Curiousities Of Nostalgia and Reality- Alice returns to Wonderland as an adult, equipped with Theosophic meditation talents.
2. Wunderglass- A card soldier in the Queen’s army goes on a wild trip after smoking Wunderglass, a potent Wonderland drug.
3. The Dutchess’s Baby- A horror story where a woman is trapped in Wonderland and forced to take care of the dutchess’s baby.
4. The Caucus Race- A flash horror story about a race that never ends.
Due to the violence and dark nature of some of these stories, this collection is recommended for mature audiences only.
Moving down a dirt road and along the border of Heart Country, Eight could see acres of shining, dew mushrooms dripping with dew among jade blades of grass, the earth fertile and sweet. Rising in smoke and mixed with the aromas of the earth, he could also smell fresh wunderglass.
Reaching into the pouch at the side of his cardboard body, Eight pulled out a vial filled with a sickly sweet pink fluid. It was only one of many vials Eight kept in his pocket. Drink me, it read, right under the product’s title, Minimal 55. Just a tablespoon or so would give him the height he needed.
Eight sipped the substance after measuring a small amount into the vial’s cap. Instantly, everything about him shrunk, including his pouch with its many components and his javelin.
Now Eight could see the miniature world clearly. A variety of patrons, from fellow card soldiers to anthropomorphic animals, moved from mushroom to mushroom, partaking in the choices of drugs they had to offer. Eight walked down the pathway before him, looking for the right mushroom, and the right caterpillar to talk to.
He found his connection in less than two minutes. There he was, that pedant caterpillar with a pile of books stacked on one end of the mushroom and a shiny, silver hookah on the other. Enveloped in his cloud of wunderglass, the caterpillar peered suspiciously at the man. He asked, “Who are you?”
“Oh, you know me, Winston. Just a card trying to get the best mindbender in town before Wonderland’s greatest server becomes a butterfly, or gets crushed under the hoofs of my fellow countrymen’s horses. Whichever comes first.”
“Quite.” Winston took another puff of his wunderglass, the pleasure noticeable even on his serious blue countenance. “Curious how so many macros risk coming down here, in order to enjoy the pleasures of the small world.” The caterpillar patted his mushroom. “Sit with me, pilgrim, and show your coins.”
“Queen’s coins.” Eight found a place beside Winston and opened his pouch, producing five miniature disks of gold, all with royal faces upon them. One had the current Queen’s face, the other the King’s, and there were three Jacks, all deceased. “There, friend. Enjoy.”
“Enjoy,” the caterpillar replied as he passed the tip of his hookah.
“Don’t mind if I do.” Eight took a long drag on the silvery tip.
“You must have had a long, stressful day, friend. When you first approached, I couldn’t figure out if your face wore a desperate expression or a depressed one.”
“Both. Just trying to forget my sorrows for a moment, caterpillar. The life of a military man is hard. Especially in Heart Country, serving directly under the Queen herself.”
“I would believe so. Many of the soldiers that come here look as if they are on the threshold of suicide.”
“You’re lucky, friend. You sit out here in the pastures, blissful and relaxed, not a worry in the world. Some of you make it to maturity, some don’t. And even when you’re butterflies and you leave the hookahs behind, you don’t serve in any armies. You don’t work in any offices for noblemen, or have to deal with the politics of our insane country.” Eight shook his head as he handed the hookah’s mouthpiece back, the disappointment of an entire life weighing over his shoulders. “Forever peaceful, forever happy.”
“Says the factory worker to the shop owner. And I say bah. The life of a caterpillar is short and dull. Without wunderglass, we would surely die of boredom.”
The sound of the caterpillar’s voice was fading from Eight’s ears, though he could swear the insect was still talking. A few more seconds, and the card didn’t even care. He felt numb to the world, numb to existence, as his mind seemed to open in swirling brushstrokes of color, sounds, and visual amusements. He could hear laughter, spinning around him like a merry-go-round, and he saw the past events of his life shoot past him like exploding stars.
Brian Barr is an American author. He is the writer of the 3 H’s Trilogy (The Head, The House, and The Hell) and the Carolina Daemonic series, starting with Confederate Shadows. He is also the co-creator and co-writer of Empress, an ongoing comic series, with Chuck Amadori, drawn by Sullivan Suad, Zilson Costa, and Geraldo Filho.