This is a Disney Warp of my experience trying to get to Thailand (Somewherland) from Dubai International Airport (Nowherland [not that I consider Dubai to be Nowherland, it’s just that all I got to see of the country was its airport, which was a bizarre experience which I never had before!]) after having left my passport on the previous flight from Ireland. My ditsiness sent myself and my travel-buddy Kiva into a sea of madness and chaos… so, naturally, this story shall have lots of Alice in Wonderland elements!
I hope you enjoy!
“Who. Are. You?”
I coughed the puff of R- and U-shaped smoke back towards the little blue Caterpillar’s face, then waved it away from him for fear of seeming impolite.
“Kate Lewis” I told him, and then caught myself, remembering my passport contained my full name, “I mean Kate Margaret Lewis- sorry.”
The Caterpillar looked at his Rabbit associate, who pulled an illogically large pocket watch out of his miniature Fly Emirates uniform and ogled it anxiously. “More like you are Late Margaret Lewis, the flight is about to leave!”
They were making puns about my name- perhaps that was a good sign? Perhaps that meant they believed me when I told them Who. I. Was… that they’d see the list of passengers and that that would be enough to get me on the flight…
…get us on the flight, rather.
I forced my gaze up to watch the White Rabbit’s pocket watch come closer and closer to displaying the time our flight from to Somewherland.
Kiva could be on the plane right now.
The thought brought an ache with it. But here she was, sticking by me in Nowherland despite my absolute idiocy.
All you needed to get on a flight was your passport, your boarding pass, and yourself.
Two out of three is pretty good.
Stop trying to comfort yourself Kate, all three shouldn’t be difficult to remember.
Yes but… you’re you.
Oh be quiet, Kate.
My internal argument was interrupted by the White Rabbit jumping off his chair to run circles around myself and Kiva, addressing us but keeping his tired pink eyes focused on his watch: “You’re late! You’re late! Find it! You’re late! Check your bags! You’re late! You’re late, You’re late, You’re late!”
I gazed at the suitcase which I had already checked several times, and mumbled a reply explaining to him that it simply wasn’t there.
“WHAT EXACITACITICALLY DID YOU SAY, GIRL?” the Caterpillar boomed from behind the desk, and I swallowed the tear-lump in order to make my voice stronger: “I CHECKED THE BAG. IT MUST BE ON THE OTHER PLANE!”
The Caterpillar seemed pensive for a moment, and beckoned for me to come closer. For a moment it felt like we were conspiring, that he’d whisper to me that he’d stall the plane for as long as possible so that Kiva, the white rabbit and I could rush through Nowherland to the plane to retrieve my identity… but all I received was a charming piece of advice: “Keep. Your. Temper.”
I shook my head profusely. “I’m not mad at you” I insisted, my eyebrows knotting together beneath my ruffled fringe, “I’m just mad at myself for doing such a stupid thing.”
The Caterpillar allowed my words to sink in, and then turned to the white rabbit: “Rabbit, she has inforrrrrrrmed me that her stupid thing has jusssst made her mad. You know what to do.”
With that the White Rabbit’s fuzzy fist tightened around the clock and he swung the clock at myself and Kiva, causing all twenty of our toes to be lifted into the air, our heels sliding along the gleaming tiles towards an unknown location.
We shot past orbs of orange and white light, through what should have been pitch darkness, and halted just in time so as not to collide with the long, red-table-clothed table (the plainness of said tablecloth being made up for by the countless elaborate teapots and teacups scattered across it). Behind said table sat a red-faced, bow-tied, Hatted gentleman (very significantly Hatted, I must say) and a sandy-brown, equally bow-tied, but nowhere near as equally Hatted, hare. Both sat upon creamy Fly Emirates chairs, quite clearly ripped rather aggressively straight off a plane.
I looked to Kiva, who was smiling in the direction of a third party, this being a dormouse who had emerged from a nearby teapot wearing the most content of expressions on his whiskered face (he was also wearing a bow tie, in case you were wondering). I didn’t know why we were here or what it had to do with my passport, but if it made Kiva happy and distracted her from the situation for even a short time, then why not give it a go while we waited.
The first two introduced themselves as the Hatter and the Marsh Hare (we presumed the dormouse, who had now curled up for a snooze on a saucer, could be referred to as the Dormouse). “Teeeeeeeeeeeea?” they offered, and proceeded to force some upon us regardless of our response. Kiva’s inquiry as to whether there was any coffee absorbed them for a moment, although I didn’t feel either of them was in need of any caffeine-induced simulation.
Tea was sloshed through the air along with other substances as they tested taste variations on Kiva, and I attempted to block out the chaos in order to send a text to James, unsure whether or not it was a reasonable hour back home but knowing that I’d feel better once the message was sent out in a digital cloud towards him. I cursed my tea-coated fingers as I mistyped constantly:
I became aware of the Hatter’s squashy red nose coming closer and closer in my peripheral vision as he attempted to read what I was writing. “Your name is Alice?” he asked, awestruck, “You aren’t perhaps… the Alice… are you?”
“No” I said irritably, shoving my phone away, “I’m Late. Kate. I’m Kate.” I slapped my own forehead in frustration, knocking a plate of jam on my lap in the process, which in turn caused Hatter and the Marsh Hare to erupt into a fit of giggles. “You sir” Hatter hiccupped through his chuckles, “are Utterly. Butterly. Mad!”, and he spread a chunk of butter across my jammy legs for emphasis.
“I’m not mad” I insisted, “I’m just mad at myself. For losing my passport.”
“Passport?” Hatter echoed.
“Passport?” Marsh Hare echoed.
“Passport?” the Mouse squeaked, the quietest of the echoes.
“Why, isn’t that what you need to get in and out of this place?” the Hatter inquired. I confirmed this quickly, desperate to veer away from the subject, fearing I would dampen the mood of the party. The Hatter, however, was intrigued. “Why then my dear it must mean you want to stay here with us!”
“NO!” I cried impulsively, then caught myself, worried I had offended him. However, all my reply was met with was confusion. “Well that simply makes no sense at all” stated the Marsh Hare factually, “None at all, my child! Surely the Red Queen must have assisted you with the loss of your head, it is the only explanation I can summon!” He widened one googly eye towards me and examined my head just to be sure.
The Hatter saw that I was getting upset, and Kiva uncomfortable, and rode his sudden wave of empathy by insisting to us that he would help. I heaved a sigh, not feeling up to whatever insane advice he was about to bestow upon us, wishing they’d all just return to their tea….when suddenly I was hit in the face by a tiny plastic book.
I gaped upwards to see that all that was left of the Hatter was his outstretched arm with his hat at the end of it, the rest of his body being hidden by a pile of passports, evidently having come out of said hat. I shrieked and shook Kiva, both of us delighted with the turn in events. Why hadn’t I brought our problem up sooner?
We dove into the pile, ensuring the Hatter could still breathe under there while grabbing as many maroon-coloured passports as possible. Unfortunately, each one was opened with no avail, Kate Margaret Lewis being nowhere to be found. We tossed each aside, sinking back into our chairs after the momentary high.
“Well? Did you find yourself?” the Hatter asked, dipping one of the rejected passports into his tea before suckling on its corner. I saw Kiva shake her head, and my shame at the sight intensified when our three hosts insisted on seeing her passport. She was tentative, unwilling to lose the only legal document we had between us, but the Dormouse revealed himself from her handbag, her passport, as well as the saucer he had fallen asleep on, balancing on his head.
The Hatter produced a pair of spectacles from a underneath the table cloth and held one lens to his eye, the other to the Marsh Hare’s. “Why, child!” the latter said, all in a fluster, “It says here that your birthday falls on March the 31st?” Kiva confirmed that to be the case, and the Marsh Hare turned to his hatted friend:
“Is that today, Hatter?”
“Why no, my friend, I don’t believe it is!”
“And you know what that means don’t you?”
The Hatter took off his hat once more, this time to reveal a freshly iced sponge cake, three candles burning upon it. He struck a match off the table leg to light another, gesturing to Kiva: “Why it is all of our unbirthdays too my dear!”
He tossed the cake into the middle of the table and sat each individual in front of their own candle before turning to me: “And what about you young Miss?” he shrilled, “Is it your unbirthday too?”
“Well if you mean does my birthday fall on a day other than this one” I speculated, “then yes, it is my unbirthday.” “NOT GOOD ENOUGH!”declared the Marsh Hare, “Where is your PROOF! Too much of a coincidence I tell you, too much of a coincidence!”
A rim of tears formed in my vision. “I told you” I choked, “I don’t have my passport.”
“Well why not go to the Fly Emirates customer service desk then?” the Dormouse, who was now hugging his unbirthday candle, piped up. I blinked away the saltwater and stared at him, marvelling at such logical words coming out of such a bizarre creature.
“Um… Ok” I said stupidly, and I waited for Kiva to blow out her unbirthday candle and finish her most coffee-like tea before I went to take the Dormouse’s advice.
The customer service desk was equally bonkers, but in a more usual sort of way, people losing suitcases and whatnot. These complaints were being dealt with by anthropomorphic flowers , but that was a minor issue.
No flower took much notice of us, and I was reluctant to draw attention to myself since they seemed rather snooty… but then I noticed an alternative, an employee I was almost sure hadn’t been there before.
The purpledy-pink striped cat beamed at us from the countertop, and we took his smile as an invitation to approach. “So” he said calmly, “You’ve lost your passport.”
My expression softened to his understanding tone. “Yes, I did!” I said sadly, “How did you know?”
“That I lost my passport!”
“Yes! You just asked about losing a passport.”
“Who lost a passport?”
“Whose passport did you lose?”
“I… mine” I replied with a frown, “Who else’s passport would I lose? And no, I did not lose it because I want to stay here.”
The cat casually lifted his head from his shoulders and reached further with his other arm to scratch underneath it. “Well, in that case, home is the only place for you then, isn’t it?”
“Home?” I shrilled, eyes wide, “But I don’t want to go home!” Then, unsure of what kind of powers the cat possessed, whether he was capable of granting some twisted, unintentional wishes, I clarified: “I mean, I do. I do want to go home. I want to go home and see my family, my friends, my boyfriend… just the way I left them. But I only just said goodbye, you see, so I can’t return yet! The adventure hasn’t even begun!”
I winced as I uttered the last sentence, remembering who else’s adventure I was affecting, but Kiva had zoned out, her large blue eyes resting on an equally feline, uniformed Dandelion further down the desk.
“Well then I shall call the Queen to see what she has seen” the cat grinned, “She does abhor a plane unclean…” I was far too eager for good news to be offended at the notion of a small book with my face on it making a plane unqueenly.
The cat stretched his tail towards his eternally happy face as the tip of it morphed into the shape of a telephone, and proceeded to push the dials with his nose and prick his ear up to listen.
I was so mesmerised by the way the fur between his stripes faded in and out of focus that for a moment I didn’t hear what he said to me between phone calls. “What?” I asked cautiously, wondering whether there was even any point in asking, because surely all that could come out of that smile was riddles and sarcasm.
This expectation made what he had actually been trying to say all the more comforting: “I hope they find your passport.” My face broke into its own wide smile and I waited for the fur to cease transparency so I could pat him appreciatively. He purred a response, holding his tail-phone away from his face so whoever he was talking to wouldn’t get the wrong idea.
Unfortunately the cat couldn’t give us any solid information until the queen’s minions, whatever kind of bizarre creatures they may be, finished cleaning the plane. He encouraged us to wander for an hour.
“To where?” I asked nervously, not wanting to lose the desk in this maze of a place. The cat pointed his rapidly disappearing paw over my shoulder, and I turned to see a long sign post with lots of arrows emitting from it, each with its own direction upon it:
Ah, I thought, Helpful.
We decided to follow the This Way sign, which sounded the most encouraging, but the gloom surrounding the path didn’t exactly help raise our spirits. Perhaps that was a good thing though, I thought through the silence between us, Best not heighten our hopes of Somewherland if they’re about to go down the drain.
We walked on until we saw a pop of colour in the distance, and realised that it was in fact two pops of colour. Both round gentlemen were dressed in the exact same attire: scarlet trousers, yellow sweaters, blue bowties and cute little flagged hats on their ginger locks. Their names were labelled o the collars of their sweaters, these being Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum. Both Tweedles were standing perfectly still, so I figured if we walked by them quietly enough we could just continue on our pensive walk without wasting more than an hour away from the semi-helpful cat. This presumption was, of course, false.
“It isn’t polite to pass us by without a greeting, you know” Tweedle Dee informed us in his northern English accent.
“I’m sorry, I’m waiting for something I lost” I explained quickly, “Just a bit stressed is all.”
“Well, we can help with that!” proclaimed Tweedle Dum in a voice mirroring his brother’s, and before I could insist that we were fine they had us seated upon a nearby log.
They proceeded to tell us a story of a Walrus who ate all the baby Oysters (as a result of them being overly curious, apparently). I tried to listen but ended up staring into space for most of the story, allowing fat tears to roll down my face as I gazed into my iPhone screen, beholding the idiot that had gotten Kiva and I into this mess (I felt bad replying to James’ messages of comfort as the Tweedles spoke, so this was the most I could do with the device).
Kiva whispered an inquiry across the log as to whether or not I was texting my parents to tell them what happened. My guts squirmed at the prospect of reminding my folks once again of what an absolute Ditz they had produced as their first born, but I told her she could go ahead and tell hers, since she seemed anxious for them to know why she wouldn’t be calling them from Somewherland after a few more hours.
I tuned in and smiled every now and then at how much fun the Tweedles were having, almost as if they could see their story being animated before them in some elaborate seaside vision.
“At least he didn’t eat her passport” Tweedle Dee joked.
I snapped my head up: “What?”
“Your passport” Tweedle Dum clarified, “The Walrus didn’t eat it.”
“Ah” I replied, uncertain of his point, “Cool…”
And that’s when I spotted it. Tweedle Dum’s bowtie did match his brother’s in colour, but instead of it being made of a silky material, it was made of… Butterfly.
The ex-Caterpillar turned around to face me: “I know Who. You. Are now”. I delighted in the puffs of R- and U-shaped smoke, and peered through them to see Tweedle Dee extend his chubby arm towards Kiva and I, clasping my passport.
“AH!” I yelled, “AHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!”
“She’s lost it” the Tweedles said in unison, and I hugged them both, then Kiva, then blew the Butterfly a well-deserved kiss before running back to the Fly Emirates desk with my pass to Somewherland… although Nowherland no longer seemed such a frustrating place after all.