Episode 6

ALICE IN SWAMPLAND

By Dakota Orlando

© 2019, 2020

Episode 6. Finding Swampland

The Great Kanaima held Sarah the Swamp Rat and Kellyanne the Mosquito in front of him. “Toast. Well, let’s have jam and call it lunch.”

Alice held up a hand. “May I suggest marmalade?”

Setting down his two most trusted advisors, the Great Kanaima glanced at Alice. “Yes, my little cherry blossom, you may, but we’re still having jam … just as soon as we get back to Swampland.” He looked around the room. “I’ve been told that it lies behind one of these doors.”

“And who told you that?” Alice said.

“Why they did.”

“And who are they?

“Just they. They are one of my chief information sources. They know exactly what’s actually happening.”

“Why not use The New York Times as your source?”

He jerked his head back. “The failing New York Times? Fake news!”

The Washington Post?”

“More fake news.”

The Times of London, then.”

“All newspapers are fake news. Let me tell you … I put out my own fake news, thank you very much.”

“Most peculiar.”

“Not so.” He pointed at several doors. “Now, which one goes back to Swampland?”

Alice shifted her weight to her right foot. “Why don’t you ask they?”

The Great Kanaima frowned. “Because they are not here.”

“Great Kanaima,” Stephen the Salamander said, “perhaps we should just try opening them until we find the right one.”

Sean the Fire Ant stepped forward. “I agree.”

The Great Kanaima pointed toward the nearest door. “Then let’s go find Swampland.”

Dinah took a pose with one paw pointed straight up. “‘Smooth runs the water where the brook is deep.’”

“Ah, yes,” the Great Kanaima said, “Water … blue water … ocean water … deep water … wet water—”

Kellyanne buzzed around his head. “Sir! Sir! We need not waste time. We have to get back to the swamp so we can continue filling it up.” She flitted to the ground next to Sarah and whispered. “When he rants on like that, you’ve got to get his attention.”

Sarah nodded. “And get him back on the task at hand.” She sighed. “He’s so distractible.”

Alice noticed everyone staring at Dinah. “Oh, don’t mind her.”

“What is wrong with that cat?” Stephen asked.

Alice stepped beside Dinah. “She has a Shakespeare addiction … of which I knew nothing about until she could talk.”

“Well … we can’t have that around here!” Kellyanne snapped. “It smacks of culture.” She whispered to Sarah. “Who’s Shakespeare?”

“Some kind of shaker,” Sarah whispered back. “A religious fanatic with a spear?” She shrugged. “We could ask my father, if we can get him away from his online marketing business.”

Dinah continued with her paw still raised. “‘To have what we would have, we speak not what we mean.’” She took a few steps away and turned back.

Kellyanne flipped a wing at Dinah. “Alternative facts.”

The group moved toward the door and stopped in front of it.

The Great Kanaima pointed to the knob. “Open it.”

Stephen opened the door, and they peered inside. A rectangular table filled most of a little, yellow room. Around the table, squeezed in tight, sat more hideous creatures; a snapping turtle, a tick, a fly, and a raccoon. All were about three feet high like most of the other creatures.

“This is the TV studio war room of Wolf News,” the Great Kanaima said. “I didn’t want to go there.”

Sean stepped forward. “Alice and Dinah, I want you to meet Hanny the Snapping Turtle, Tucker the Tick, Jay the Raccoon, and visiting is Rick the Fly.”

Rick stared at Alice with a worried look. “There are three reasons why I’m here.” He held up one leg. “Commerce.” He held up another. “Education.” He held up a third. “And … uh, let’s see. What’s the third one?” He lowered his legs and started again by holding up one leg. “Commerce.” He held up another. “Education.” He held up a third. “And … uh … oops.” He lowered his legs and grinned.

“Excuse me, gentlemen,” the Great Kanaima said, “but I must get back to Swampland.” He started to close the door.

“Wait!” said Jay the Raccoon. “We’re trying to concoct a Ukrainian defense for you.” He held up a piece of paper. “So far we have…,” he read, “… you never said it, and that it was a perfect call; then yes, you did say it, but there was no pressure, no quid pro quo; then the whistleblower is a spy; then Adam helped write the complaint; then the whole thing was a hoax; then it was your right to ask Zelensky; then it was all part of an anti-corruption campaign; and lastly, that you were just kidding about China and all of it.” He set the paper down and grinned. “In that order. What do you think?”

“In my great and unmatched wisdom,” the Great Kanaima offered his clownish grin again, “I must say that I like it. And that means something because, after all, I am the very model of a very stable genius.”

Kellyanne whispered to Sarah, “I heard that his brain is smaller than his very tiny penius.”

“Yes. Randy Rainbow just told us, but how would you know that?” Sarah asked.

Kellyanne batted her fake eyelashes. “Don’t you?”

Rick shifted in his seat. “You shouldn’t really say things on the phone without consulting your advisors. You seem to ignore them most of the time … and you should have never released the transcripts.” He shook his head. “Big mistake.”

The Great Kanaima jumped into the room, grabbed Rick by his wings, and dragged him into the Roman column room. Doors opened to one side, and an English double-decker bus shot through the open doorway. As it passed, the Great Kanaima threw Rick in front of it. The vehicle ran over him leaving only a giant, red stain on the floor. The bus continued across the room where another set of doors opened, and it passed through. The doors closed behind it.

Alice gawked at the red spot. “How awfully deplorable!”

The Great Kanaima walked back to the Wolf News TV studio and glanced around the table, stopping at Jay. “Then … tell them Rick told me to make the call.”

“He was a pest anyway,” Tucker the Tick said.

“I said many bad things about him on my show,” Hanny the Snapping Turtle replied, “and I don’t regret any of them.”

Tucker nodded. “I did, too. Never liked him.”

“Where were the horses?” Alice asked. “How did that vehicle move all by itself?”

“The horses were under the hood, honey,” Kellyanne said.

“I think they call it a bonnet in England,” Jay said. “I do have a bit more education than the rest of you.”

Alice pointed to her head. “But a person wears a bonnet … at least the ladies do.”

The Great Kanaima shoved a finger at Alice. “Forgive her. The little cherry blossom hails from London … only, the London of 1865.”

“Oxford,” Alice said. “Which begs the question, how did we both fall down the same hole if we were in separate cities?”

“It’s a magic hole?” the Great Kanaima offered.

“Probably Brexit had something to do with it,” Hanny said. “They have awful left-wing conspiracy-theory liberals, too.” He turned and spat on the floor. Tucker did the same.

“It’s a witch-hunt,” Jay added.

A ball of fire hit the floor and shattered into burning embers. Alice looked up to see a witch on a broom.

“Someone hunting witches? Well, here I am. Come and get me!” She flourished her hand and another fireball appeared.

As they ran around the Roman column room, Hanny shut the door to the Wolf News studio.

The witch flew to the floor on her broom, opened the studio door, and tossed the fireball inside. She slammed the door and dusted off her hands. Ash fell from them and drifted to the floor as a muffled explosion sounded behind the door. “That ought to singe their fetlocks.” She looked around at the others still scattering. “Now … where’s the girl?”

Alice had slumped at the foot of a door that wouldn’t open. The witch scowled at her.

Dinah stepped before Alice and raised a paw. “Now, wait just one moment. I am the only girl here … and I am a cat. Surely you’re not looking for me.”

“No! The girl I’m after has a little dog … and I’m going to get it, too.”

Dinah eased her front paws on her hips as she stood on her hind ones. “There you have it. You are searching in the wrong place. I believe the girl you’re looking for lives somewhere over a rainbow.”

The witch stroked her chin. “Yes, there was the mention of a rainbow.”

“And a tornado,” Dinah added. “A very famous man once said, ‘Rainbows are the stuff of which dreams are made.’”

Randy appeared at the top of the column. “Yes, gurl … Rainbow, that’s me, and ….” He scrunched up and appeared creepy. “I’m back.”

The Great Kanaima pointed at him. “It’s that queer again. Man, he’s not one of my favorite things!”

Randy grinned like a clown. “Favorite things? I know what’s not among your favorite things … raindrops on roses nor whiskers on kittens. They’re more like ….” He starts singing:

“Brutal dictators and cold-hearted liars.

Tyrants and traitors and climate deniers.

Five-dollar spray tans with under-eye rings.

These are a few of your favorite things.

“Burying tax returns after you file them.

Tear-gassing migrants for seeking asylum.

Big fat-ass buckets of fried chicken wings.

These are a few of your favorite things.”

The Great Kanaima pointed at Randy. “Get him out of here!”

The witch held up one hand, and flames shot from her fingers. “Well …?” She glared up at Randy.

Randy threw a hand on top of his. “Gotta go. Arrive-douchebag, gurl!” He pulled away and disappeared.

The witch turned to the Great Kanaima, her fingers still on fire.

Alice heard the mighty lizard gulp loudly. “I don’t know what it is, but he seems to be afraid of strong women.”

The Great Kanaima flicked his hands forward several times. “Go. You can go now.”

“Yes,” said the witch, “I must have made a wrong turn. Which way to the Emerald City?”

Dinah pointed to the top of the column.

The witch threw one arm up. “I’m off to see the wizard!” She flew to the top of the column, stopped, and swung around on her broom. “That little fake magician has been hiding her.” She held up another ball of fire. “And I’m going to burn his ass good.” She shrunk and flew up the hole leaving behind only her sinister laugh—and a little smoke.

Alice stood up. “My, people, creatures … and things … come and go so quickly round here.”

“Well,” Sean said. “I think I’ll go peek into the Wolf Newsroom and see how they fared with the witch-hunt.” He started walking toward the room. Reaching the door, he cracked it open and peered inside. Pulling his head out, he gawked at us. “Crispy critters.” He closed the door.

“Oh, Sean,” the Great Kanaima stepped toward him. “I don’t think I ever thanked you for sticking up for me over the crowd size at my inauguration.”

“That’s odd,” Kellyanne whispered to Sarah. “He never thanks his staff for lying on his behalf.”

“I don’t see how that helps him,” Sarah whispered back.

“It’s amazing that anyone would say that it was so much smaller than Obama’s,” Stephen said.

Sean spun around and glowered. “That was the largest audience to ever witness an inauguration.” He drew an exclamation point in the air. “Period!”

Stephen the Salamander held up his forelimbs. “Hey, I agree, man. I was just saying.”

Sean opened the Wolf Newsroom doors again. Screams echoed from inside, and smoke billowed out. “They’re too far gone, I’m afraid.” He entered and shut the door behind him.

“Well,” Kellyanne said, “Sean sure gets a little testy over the crowd size.”

The Great Kanaima folded his arms. “I don’t blame him. He gets that way whenever one of my lies gets challenged.” He pointed to a door. “Let’s see if Swampland is behind door number two.”

“If it’s not,” Sarah said, “maybe it will be a new car.”

The Great Kanaima shuddered. “This is a reality show, not a game show. Come on.” He walked toward it followed by Kellyanne, Sarah, Stephen, Dinah, and Alice. Sarah and Kellyanne raced ahead, and as one reached for the doorknobs, the other pushed her away. The shenanigans continued until the Great Kanaima arrived and slapped all their appendages away.

“Will you two behave? I’d hate to have to revisit toast again.” He opened the doors, and they stepped in.

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