White Rabbit #1
“If you don't know where you are going, any road will get you there.”
"This is insane."
Charles Liddell held up a sheet of blueprint paper, decorated with a crudely drawn cartoon submarine that someone had scrawled onto the document. Standing atop the submarine was a grinning stick figure, adorned with bunny ears and a fluffy tail, holding its arms skyward in a triumphant pose.
"I'm serious," insisted Charles, "this is crazy! You want me to build a rabbit shaped submarine that fires torpedoes made to look like carrots?"
The Tinkerer spun around in his chair to face Charles. He was surrounded by soldering irons, wiring, microchips, and battery cells. Several other bits and pieces of machinery were strewn about, as he had been hard at work on a pair of energy gauntlets.
"I don't want you to build anything. Our client does, and she has provided us with the necessary funds to complete the project. She's purchased several items from us in the past. Hell, she's one of our highest paying accounts, she's constantly coming up with new ideas, and isn't afraid to spend lots of money on extravagant weaponry."
Charles laid out the blueprints and shook his head. He fired up the company computer, accessing the account. He quickly scanned the list of most recent orders.
"Let's see, in the last year we've constructed an umbrella that sprays knock-out gas, furry jet boots, a bunnymobile, two shoulder mounted rocket launchers with carrot shaped missiles, a blue and pink bunny-themed pirate ship with Easter egg-shaped cannonballs, bunny slippers made with a material that doesn't cause static electricity when you walk on carpet, and you say this is legit?"
"It's no prank, I assure you. She always pays up front, usually throws in some extra as a tip."
Charles still wasn't convinced. "I've got to meet this person. If nothing else, I have a few questions and suggestions about the schematics."
"I don't think that's a good idea."
"Well, she's a little mental. The way I hear it, she's completely mad."
Charles's eyes widened and his jaw dropped in mock shock. "No way! I don't believe it!"
"Have it your way. If you really want to meet her, be ready for a trip down the rabbit hole."
The Bronx, New York
Charles arrived at the location that the Tinkerer scribbled on a napkin for him. His handwriting was hard to read, but Charles had learned to decipher it while he had worked for the man.
"Maybe this wasn't the best idea I've ever had."
Charles entered the junkyard and looked around. There it was, a lone refrigerator standing apart from the rest of the assorted junk, just as the directions stated.
"I bet this is some kind of rib. Yeah, that's it, gotta be a joke, some kind of initiation or hazing for the new guy."
As he walked up to the refrigerator, he considered just turning around right then and there. Part of him thought this was all a prank, but another part of him was, well, curious. What if?
Charles knocked on the refrigerator in the pattern described on the napkin. A secret knock, he thought to himself, as if we're schoolchildren or something. A few seconds later, the refrigerator slid backward along a pair of tracks, revealing a large hole underneath.
"Well, what do you know, just like Tinkerer said."
Charles attempted to peer down the hole, but it was too dark.
"Of course, this could still all be a big gag. Maybe everyone is waiting for me at the bottom so they can laugh at how stupid I was to fall for this. Maybe the bottom of the hole is full of spikes and this is how they dispose of people they don't need anymore. Maybe."
As Charles was contemplating what could possibly be at the bottom of the hole, he lost his footing. His arms flailed in the air as he tried to regain balance, but it was all for naught. Off kilter, he fell forward and tumbled headfirst down the hole.
His stomach dropped, as he screamed, his life flashing before his eyes. Charles felt his throat tighten as his breakfast did backflips in the pit of his stomach. He knew for sure he would crash, broken, at the bottom of this pit and nobody would ever find his body. This had turned out to be a bad idea, he should've just worked on the project without question, but Charles was curious by nature and couldn't resist the allure of mystery surrounding this unidentified client. He stopped screaming as he realized he was still falling, even after all this time.
"What the...? Air jets slowing my decent! I might not die after aaaaaah!"
Charles landed with a thud as he came to the end of his journey. The pit had slanted at the end and dumped him, unceremoniously, on a tile floor in a large room. Heaped on the floor, he could see several bookshelves lining the walls. There were loads of knickknacks arranged all over the room, many of them looked like props from a play, or maybe a movie. On the far side of the room sat a throne.
Sitting there was a woman, reclining in the throne with her feet propped up on a Cheshire Cat footstool. She was strawberry blond and clad in an outfit consisting of rabbit ears, furry boots, white face paint, and a blue tailcoat.
She smiled when Charles crashed on the floor, not at all shaken by the intrusion.
"Oh joy, an unexpected guest! Welcome, welcome! Welcome to the Rabbit Hole, might I introduce myself, I am the marvelously malicious mistress of mayhem, the White Rabbit."
The White Rabbit leapt from her seat and landed a few feet from Charles. She theatrically bowed, and then pointed her umbrella tip at him. A large razor sharp spike extended from the tip, coming to rest less than an inch away from his forehead. His heart stopped as he faced down death for the second time in as many minutes. She skeptically looked him over, keeping the blade pointed at his face.
"And who might you be?"
Charles was taken aback by the whole scene, and didn't know how to react. "Wait, what?"
"I require that you identify yourself, and you would do well to answer me with haste, before I decide sentence first and trial later."
"Well, my name is Charles Liddell. You see, I was a junior member of AIM for a short time and had recently been working as an intern for the Tinkerer. I just had a question about-"
"Yes!" she exclaimed, as she hooked the umbrella to her wrist and then frantically clapped her hands.
Charles was completely confused. "Yes? Yes what?"
"Yes, an intern is a wonderful idea! Why had I not thought of it before? I do believe you would make an exquisite intern, Mr. Liddell. Welcome to the team."
"But I didn't want-"
"You can begin in the morrow. Whatever you do, don't be late. If there is one thing I will not tolerate, it is someone who is not punctual. You can see yourself out."
Charles attempted to explain the huge miscommunication, but White Rabbit had already skipped away into the recesses of the Rabbit Hole, happily humming a tune as she went.
"What an odd girl. Now, how in the world am I supposed to show myself out?"
Charles turned and observed several signs on the wall, all in the shape of arrows, labeled with different destinations.
"Of course. What was I thinking."
He carefully inspected the signs, all of which said things like "wrong way", "that way", "this way", "tea party".
"This is impossible, these signs don't mean anything. Unless..."
Charles took note of the only sign that was labeled "up" even though it pointed left. He thought that it didn't make any sense, except for the fact that it made perfect sense when you considered that directly to the left of the sign that said "up", was a hole in the wall, similar to the one he had fallen out of when he arrived.
He stuck his head inside the hole and looked around, trying to find a ladder, a rope, footholds, or anything of that nature. Seeing that it was a smooth tunnel leading upwards, he assumed it was a second entrance like the one he had fallen out of. "Ah, I'm not Spider-Man, I can't just crawl my way up the wall. There must be a different way out of here." As Charles was about to exit the hole, a powerful current of air swept him upwards.
Up in the junkyard, the door to a washing machine swung open, and Charles was forcefully ejected back into the Bronx. He stood up and brushed away the dirt from his clothes.
"That did not just happen, did it?"
The Rabbit Hole
The Next Day aka The Morrow
White Rabbit stood on her tippy toes, trying to look over Charles's shoulder. His back was turned to her, as he was hunched over a large wooden table, hard at work.
"I wanna see!" whined White Rabbit.
"Hey, come on, give me some space!" said Charles, as White Rabbit held his shoulders, craning her neck to see. "This is delicate work I'm doing here!" Charles was at a critical stage wiring the circuitry together on his current project, and White Rabbit was providing an unwelcome distraction. Why in the world had he agreed to come back? Was it a morbid curiosity to find out if there was a method to her madness? Was he afraid she would come looking for him if he didn't report to work? Or was he just intrigued by the challenge of meeting her insane demands? Once again, his curious nature got the best of him.
"What exactly are you working on again?"
Charles sighed and removed the goggles from his eyes. He pointed to three spherically shaped objects on the table. Each was no larger than a tennis ball.
"These are the video cameras I developed for your next caper. Since you wanted to break into this museum that's holding an exhibit with old watches, I'm going to send these bad boys in tonight to scout the place out first."
Charles lowered his goggles back over his eyes, snapped a few last components into place, then reached over to his computer keyboard. After typing in a few commands, the globular cameras vibrated and rose off the table, hovering into the air. Three files were open on the computer screen, each showing a view from the different cameras.
Unfortunately, one was inadvertently pointed directly at White Rabbit's cleavage. Charles hastily typed in a few commands to move the camera, but White Rabbit didn't seem to notice, she was mesmerized by the floating spheres.
White Rabbit swung her umbrella at the cameras, but they moved away before being struck. She smiled and then started swinging the umbrella more rapidly, attempting to swat the cameras out of the air. They reacted too quickly, always just a few inches out of her reach. She thrust her umbrella with a forward motion, like a sword, sending the cameras fleeing in different direction.
White Rabbit's smile grew wider as the cameras all returned to their original positions, and focused in on her. "Remarkable! Good show!"
"Hey careful! It took a lot of time and money to put those things together, don't go breaking them before I've even gotten the chance to test them!" warned Charles.
"Test them? What do you think I just did, silly? Oh, and don't worry about money. I certainly don't. Furthermore, since you are my intern, all of your time belongs to me. If I wish for you to spend that time rebuilding these cameras, then that is what you shall do."
"Seeing as this is only a two day exhibit, I don't think you want me to spend all that time repairing the cameras. I'm using some active light refraction technology on the outer shell of the cameras, so they'll appear invisible to other visual recording devices, including the security cameras. They're also hard to see with the naked eye when the refraction is active. As you demonstrated, they have impact radars, and will readjust positions without my commands if an impact is imminent."
"What exactly did you build these for?"
"I'm sending them in tonight, these things will be able to get into the ductwork of the museum and out in the main building without a problem. Once I've mapped out the floor plan, and where all the items are located in the exhibit, you can sneak in and snatch the items you want, quickly and easily."
White Rabbit gave Charles a sad look and shook her head. "Oh, dear Charles, something you must know about me: 'sneaking' is not one of my strong points. Waiting is also something that I'm just no good at, I'm afraid."
"What's that supposed to mean?"
Two Hours Later.
White Rabbit calmly ascended the expansive stairway outside the main entrance to the historical museum on the East Side. Nobody ran in terror, nobody shouted her name, nobody recognized her even though she was in full costume.
Magneto, Dr. Doom, Carnage, or any of the various Goblin's would have elicited a terrified response from onlookers. White Rabbit was irked that not one person seemed to recognize her! The few people that did give a second look simply assumed she was some sort of costumed entertainer, perhaps on her way to the children's wing of the museum.
"I'll show you, you'll see," muttered White Rabbit, under her breath.
"Can I state, for the record," crackled a voice in White Rabbit's ear, "that I think this is a very bad idea."
"Your opinion has been taken into consideration and promptly discarded," responded White Rabbit, with a twinge of irritation in her voice.
"Have it your way." Charles had outfitted White Rabbit with a Bluetooth headset, a discreet model of his own creation. It fit inside her ear, almost like an earplug, rather than the bulkier headset models available to the general public. The device allowed him to communicate with her from the safety of the Rabbit Hole, and he could pick up sounds within a twenty foot radius.
"It would be easier to help you, if you would tell me what you are trying to accomplish, specifically," offered Charles, his hands typing commands into the keyboard to keep his cameras in front of, behind, and above White Rabbit, covering every angle.
Ignoring Charles, White Rabbit kicked open the front doors of the museum, and sauntered inside with an air of confidence.
"Good evening, everyone! My name is the White Rabbit, and I require you to file out of the building in a calm and orderly manner, while I relieve this exhibit of its most valuable treasure. As long as you abide by my wishes, you have my word that I will not maim anyone. Today."
The stunned group of onlookers stared at White Rabbit and then began to laugh.
White Rabbit growled, and Charles could envision black smoke rising from her head as she stomped her foot on the floor.
"I attempted to be polite, but you leave me no other recourse other than-" a sly smile crept over White Rabbit's lips as she paused for dramatic effect. "-mayhem!"
White Rabbit lifted her umbrella, pointing the tip toward the ceiling. Pressing the button that would normally open the umbrella, a smattering of machine gun fire erupted from the tip instead. A hail of sparks, broken glass, and bits of marble rained down on the patrons.
Now they took her seriously, now they ran in terror! White Rabbit hopped up and down with excitement upon seeing them panic and flee, their screams of fear music to her ears. She twirled her umbrella and pranced down the hallways of the museum, in search of the one treasure she had come to retrieve.
Suddenly, she felt a blunt force slam into her back, as she was knocked to the floor. She started to get up on her hands and knees, when a voice called out to her.
"End of the line, White Rabbit, your crime spree ends here."
She was thrilled that someone had remembered her name! Looking up from her position on the floor, she glimpsed a figure standing over her.
It was a woman, clad in a deep red bodysuit. The woman also wore a red mask that had cat ears and yellow goggles, leaving her face and brunette hair exposed.
"And it ends at the claws of the Crimson Cat!"
"Well, I'm certainly in a tough spot now, aren't I? Perhaps I should have taken Charles's advice, but where would the fun have been in that? Now I have to find a way to escape the "claws of the Crimson Cat". If anyone has a good idea of how I should do that, now would be a good time to speak up, because I have no idea how I'm going to pull this one off! Come back next month to see if I escape, hopefully my adventure won't be over before it's even begun!