A bright blue sky shone down over Davy and Olivia.
They had found a door in one of the buildings near the outhouse. They were now in what looked like a European countryside. Green, rolling hills extended in every direction. Davy could see an extravagant castle coming out from behind a nearby hill. It was made up mostly of white stone with prominent deep red accents.
Olivia nudged Davy with her elbow. “Call it a hunch, but I think we should head to that castle there,” she stated.
Davy didn’t have any reason to argue. This place looked far less dangerous than the research station or the jungle. “Sounds good,” he replied as they began to move.
They walked towards the castle and approached a hill. Davy looked at the foliage around them. There were trees, but they were bent and curled at unnatural angles. Bright colored fruit that Davy had never seen before hug from their branches. The trees looked almost whimsical.
As they reached the top of the hill, Davy could see something down in front of them. There was a small pond at the base of the hill with a round stone table near the shore. Two creatures were sitting at the table. Sitting between them, eating a pastry was Connie.
She laughed jovially as she saw Davy and Olivia approach. Davy looked at the two creatures. To Connie’s left was what looked like a griffon. To the right was a seven-foot turtle. Instead of a normal turtle’s head, it had the head of a calf.
“Hey guys!” Connie called out cheerfully. She gestured at the hills around her. “Look, I’m in Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. I can say that. It’s public domain; I can definitely say that.”
She held out a plate of pastries to Davy and Olivia. “You want an eclair?” she asked. “They’re delicious.” She suddenly put the plate down on the table. “Oh, sorry,” she said. “Let me introduce everyone. This is the Gryphon.”
The winged creature bowed. “How do you do?” it said.
Connie pointed to her other side. “And this is the Mock Turtle.” She leaned I towards Olivia and whispered excitedly, “He’s where mock turtle soup comes from!”
“What’s mock turtle soup?” Olivia asked with a smile.
“No idea!” Connie replied. “Something old British people see to eat, I guess!”
Davy sat down at the table. “Is this where you got taken when I opened the curtain?” he asked.
“You bet,” Connie answered. “I was in that room with the rest of you, then suddenly I was here. I met these two and it’s been a blast. The Mock Turtle over here was asking me about the school I used to go to and I was telling him about it, and he got all confused, then he told me about his school, and then it was me couldn’t follow what he was saying! And then—here’s the twist—we realize we’re talking about different kinds of schools! Like I was talking about a school as in the place where you go to learn, but he was talking about a school as in a school of fish!”
She took a bite of an eclair. “It was just delightful.”
The Mock Turtle nodded politely. “Miss Consuela here is certainly a pleasure to be around.”
Connie leaned back on her seat. With a mouthful of eclair, she asked, “So where did you guys end up?”
Davy reached for an eclair. “I was in an abandoned research station in Antarctica, and Olivia got brought to a jungle with dinosaurs.”
Connie shrugged. “This sound pretty cool too.”
“I beat up a T-Rex,” Olivia added before stuffing a handful of eclair into her mouth. “It was enriching.”
“So how did you find each other?” Connie continued. “And how did you get here?”
“Yes, do tell, friend of Ms. Consuela,” the Gryphon chimed in.
Davy put the eclair he was holding back on the plate. He wasn’t feeling too hungry. “Well, I found a door in the research station that looked like it didn’t belong, and it took me to the jungle where I found Olivia,” he answered. “We found another door that took us here.”
“We have reached the conclusion that doors take us places,” Olivia chirped.
“And I believe I would be correct in saying that you haven’t found Steve yet?” Connie asked.
“Yeah,” said Davy. “I think we need to find another door to get to him. But they’ve all been attached to buildings so far. And the only building I see right now is that castle in the distance.”
Connie looked behind her. “Oh, that castle belongs to the Red Queen. My friends here aren’t fans.”
“She likes to cut off people’s heads,” the Gryphon added.
“So if we start snooping around there trying to find a magic door…?” Olivia began.
Connie shrugged. “Yeah, she’d probably capture us and cut off our heads,” she said. “Kind of nasty, right?”
Davy rubbed the back of his head. “There’s gotta be something else we can do,” he said. “Sneaking into the Red Queen’s castle sounds like a whole drawn out detour that I don’t really want to do. Like it doesn’t feel necessary in the context of what we’ve been doing at all.”
“I’m with you, buddy,” Olivia added. “I kind of just want to get this Iron League thing wrapped up.”
“Yeah, I’m ready to just move on to the next thing,” said Connie. “Any ideas?”
The Mock Turtle perked up. “I believe I may be of assistance,” he said. He stood up and turned around, facing away from the rest of the group. Embedded into his shell was a blue, metal door.
“Well would you look at that?” Connie exclaimed, delighted. “The door was here the whole time! Unexpected and convenient! And so weird!”
The Mock Turtle turned around again. “Are you quite sure you do not want to remain here just a little while longer, Ms. Consuela? The Gryphon and I were about to conduct a performance of the Lobster Quadrille.”
Olivia laughed and turned to Olivia and Davy. “It’s a song they like to do,” she whispered. “I have no idea what it’s about! What is a quadrille anyway?”
She turned back to the Mock Turtle and shook her head. “Sorry champ,” she said. “Gonna have to ask for a rain check on that one. My friends and I need to take care of an evil gang devoted to reference humor. You understand.”
The Gryphon patted Connie on the back. “It was wonderful meeting you Ms. Consuela,” he said. “We wish you luck I your future endeavors.”
Connie laughed. “Same to you guys. You’re the best.”
The Mock Turtle gave a shy smile and turned around again. Connie grabbed the handle and pulled the door open. “Come on,” she said to Davy and Olivia. “Let’s got find Steve.”
Davy saw Connie leap through the door and quickly followed.
“I’m walking through a door into the back of a giant turtle,” Olivia said to herself. “This day just keeps getting better and better!” she exclaimed as she leapt through the door.