Alice in Hell: 13 slithy variations

1. Having made Alice from one of the Mad Hatter’s ribs, Humpty Dumpty told her she could do anything, except speak. “How bothersome!” she said.

2. In the church, Alice was horrified to be presented with a talking lamb. “EAT ME!” it bleated and, as the Red Queen cut its throat, “DRINK ME!”

3. The chess pieces represented people Alice knew. The white were the saved; the red, the damned. She picked them all up, one at a time, and kissed them.

4. Alice was forced to kneel and pray to Our Lady of the Hearts. As she bowed her head, a priest lopped it off. After a cursory funeral, a red rose was placed on her grave.

5. On Judgment Day, Alice found herself under the scrutiny of a murderous legal system. When she shouted, “Nonsense!” the sun imploded and the White Rabbit’s watch stopped.

6. Virgil appeared to Alice as a white rabbit and guided her through Hell. Satan, in the form of a vanishing cat, weighed up her soul.

7. On reaching the eighth row of God’s infernal chessboard, Alice was assumed into Heaven, where she ruled with a rust-red fist and a vacant stare.

8. Those present at the tea party were not permitted to leave. They would remain there forever. They smelt Alice’s innocence and hoped she could save them. She smiled at their naivety.

9. Banished from Eden, Alice fell down the rabbit hole, past the circles of Hell and into the yawning mouth of the Jabberwocky.

10. After the Harrowing of Wonderland, Alice lay her head in her sister’s lap and slept.

11. A blue caterpillar sat in the Tree of Knowledge. When Alice talked to him she forgot who she was and what the rules were.

12. Although she had been baptised in a sea of her own tears, Alice knew that she was lost forever.

13. The White Rabbit’s watch started again. Years passed. Poring over the book of Alice’s life, scholars couldn’t agree on what it might mean.


Alice in two


Halfway through the looking-glass, Alice got stuck. The right hemisphere of her brain couldn’t enter the topsy-turvy world on the other side.

She had thoughts that were neither here nor there. Was she divided from herself or within herself? The silvered glass partitioning her brain gave no clues.

The left half of Alice’s brain, ghosted by its own reflection, became the corridors and rooms of a haunted castle. The right half hardened in its rightness, a ruthless geometry ruling its perfection.

In the left hemisphere, impossible creatures sprouted eyes and teeth. In the right, an army of logicians paraded tirelessly.

When Alice shook her head to try to free herself, a stream of zeros and ones poured from her right ear, a torrent of poetry from the left.

The military dictatorship occupying the right hemisphere of Alice’s brain declared war on the community of poets and monsters in the left. “Maybe if I break the mirror the two halves of me will be brought together peacefully,” thought Alice.

Unfortunately, that conciliatory thought came only from Alice’s left brain. Her right brain countered with “War makes peace.”


Alice languished mid-mirror for hours. Half in one world, half in another, she belonged to neither.

Night fell and the rooms on both sides of the silvered threshold were silent. Alice wept, between dreaming and thinking, imagining and seeing.

“Have I been doubled or halved?” she wondered.

The clock in Looking-Glass Land struck thirteen and the mirror misted over.

13 Chess Pieces, Hallucinated by the Ghost of Alice Liddell

1. Mr Punch. His cracked right eye bleeds a little crimson tear. Put your ear to his paunch: Judy sighs, lovesick, along his entrails.

2. God. Hard as pride, smooth as a skull. A thundercloud solidifying into a chalky pillar. Words fall like stones, break the lake’s mirror.

3. The Minotaur. Don’t do that, it’s a fucking red rag to him, mate. He was stitched up all wrong. Something lonely bellows in the night.

4. Damien Hirst. Please don’t touch the vitrine. His master’s voice was caught in a springe, then throttled and bottled. The price tag sags.

5. Josef Stalin. She marvels at the shirt-bursting magnitude of the iron-faced titan. Flocks of birds volunteer for suicide displays.

6. Medusa. Prim and starchy behind the desk (Rothko bleeding at her back), after hours she sheds her skin, loosens into lithe lunacy.

7. The Bird King. Feathers turn to words that devour first the page, then the hand holding the book.

8. William Shakespeare. The machine judders, steaming and hissing. Mysterious characters flash across the screen.

9. Grendel. He’s hypersensitive. And you should see his tantrums! He’s like a big baby. Alice looks up at a man made of blighted bone.

10. Angela Carter. Not a grin, but an unknowingly knowing smile, lingering long after her face faded.

11. Medea. A nightmare, coiled dormant inside her, awaiting the breath of a bitter Spring.

12. Satan. At the murder scene they found a baffling assortment of objects: musical instruments, goatskins, red candles, a bellows.

13. Judy. Punch drunk after the news of her promotion, she dances around the house, smashing picture frames and mirrors with red fists.


All texts on this site are the copyright of James Knight. All rights reserved.

Josef K Through the Looking-Glass… a Lewis Carroll / Franz Kafka Mashup in 5 tweets…

Someone must have been telling lies about Alice K, for one morning the Queen of Hearts burst into her room, shouting, “Off with her head!”

The two men introduce themselves to him as Tweedledum and Tweedledee. “I am here to arrest you,” says one. “Likewise,” says the other.

The warped geometry of Looking-Glass Land is such that, the quicker he strides towards the Castle, the quicker it recedes into the distance.

As Alice awoke from uneasy dreams, she found herself transformed into a gigantic insect. Her mandibles jutted forlornly through the windows.

Franz Carroll looks at himself in the mirror, dreams of escaping its gilt frame.


All texts on this site are the copyright of James Knight. All rights reserved.