About Alice - Chapter I

Autor: Sidi, Pridané: 16. 05. 2010, 20:47

Disclaimer:
I would like to present you this story. It's about her - Alice. She is a woman of 25, somewhat reckless, somewhat mature, as a woman living in a 21 century was raised to be. Of course I do not own any of the J.R.R. Tolkien works. But as I am in love with them, I am borrowing his world to present you this adventure.

I thank you in advance for reading. Hopefully you will enjoy it as much as I did when writing it.

Warnings:
In future chapters there may be used mature content, violance and coarse language.


Chapter I: "Season with lots of accidents"
„The ideal man bears the accidents of life with dignity and grace, making the best of circumstances."
Aristotle

It all had started quite mundane. On Saturday, she had seen her parents off, had breakfast and then went to work. Alice was not entirely an administrator, nor journalist. It was a cross between these two professions as she worked for an online magazine, which couldn't hire many people. Her task was to look at the press agencies like REUTERS, select news and release them online. Of course, she didn't have access to REUTERS, she would be so lucky if she had. Slovakia had it's own press agencies for collecting information about domestic and foreign news – TASR and SITA. Alice however was able to use ČTK, which is a press agency from a neighbouring Czech republic, as well. Mostly, she specialized on domestic and foreign news, but sometimes she was assigned to do articles on celebrities. If not for the good pay, she would tell her team leader where he could show the whole gossip into.

However, the job itself was good and worked well with her study subject of International relations and European studies, and the money covered all her expenses as well. Sometimes though, it could get so damn frustrating. Like that Saturday, when her parents had left for a well deserved holiday break. Second shift started at 1pm and the problems started rolling. The workload was harder than usual, no time for a break. Even the trip to toilet and back was rewarded by many massages, where had she been. On the toilet, dude! She really felt like screaming.

Monday morning left her even more frustrated. "I will miss the bus..." Alice was getting annoyed. Her next lesson started in about an hour and the dog was trying her patience. It wasn´t entirely his fault but still. Last week Alice had skipped the class and now she needed to catch the bus to University to get her paper submitted.

"Come on Hugo... damn it. Move aside... don't push... HUGO. Back off." Alice growled at the too enthusiastic dog. He nearly crushed her between the garden doors and the fence, as he tried to start off on the street. It took about 15 minutes to persuade a 39 kilograms of bouncing meat and muscle that he wouldn't go outside.

"I walk you every day. Really Hugo what should I do with you." the dog only drooled happily with his tongue lolling on the side of his jaws. Alice sat on the steps outside the front door, finally giving in and rubbing Hugo's back. "You are sometimes so annoying, you..."

Next day in the evening, when Alice went to the cellar for some potatoes, she found it flooded. In the region it happens often. The house is located on the small hill, but it doesn't matter as Bratislava lies in a Carpatian lowland surrounded by the Small Carpata hills. The problem however originates from the rate of snowfall. If the snow holds during the winter time and the warming comes quickly, the water from the hills seeps into the earth and into the Carpatian lowlands. This creates subterranean rivers and one of them flows directly through the hill where the house is built on.

Inspecting it closer Alice stood shocked in the doorway that led to the second room. There were damn mushrooms all over the place. They should be at least edible, Alice thoughed grumpily, but shecouldn't recognize them.

Books and Internet search didn't explain their mysterious growth or their origins. Alice even tried to call her grandma as she loved to collect them. But her gran was at a loss as well. Of course why shouldn't she. The shape and size of them were in likes of agaric, but it was the last resemblance with them. The deep green-brown colour was just a little bit disturbing. For one moment, Alice panicky thought they were radioactive.

And then the anger kicked in. She furiously threw down the potatoes. They splashed into the brownish water and spattered her shoes. "This is it. Week alone and the house is crumbling down on me. Just bloody fantastic."

Her temper flared even higher as Alice understood she would have to slowly and painstakingly take out everything from the basement. It didn't help it was night. But first things first. She had to install water pumps into two wells they had in the garden and get them working. It drow her nuts. She wasn't a damn plumber or gardener or whoever did these things. When it came to technology or simple repairs in the household she was entirely and utterly left handed. It took her a good portion of the night to get them on.

In the morning the muschrooms were still there - no dream then. Alice sighed as she dialled her best friends number. „Morning. Martin?"

„Its too early. Are you mad – its only ten." the cracking male voice grunted on the other side of the line.

"This is an emergency. I had the whole fucking basement flooded. I am tired, pissed and I need to clear it all. I need help. Martin will you come? Please, pretty please." she was practicaly whining into the phone.

„Ok, ok, I will. What should I do with you." he said half jokingly as Alice started to blurt in rapid speach everything what had happened. „Yo... slow down. Give me a sec." Martin's sleepy voice rumbled. "You should call Andrej and I thing Dag is free today. Tell them, I will pick them up at... eleven thirty. Usual place. Yo."

„Oh thanks - really I appreciate it."

„Its good. What are friends for. See ya in a while."

„Yep. See ya."

In two hours they were standing on the lowest step into the basement watching the ever present mushrooms. „Wow. That's..." Andrej stared.

"Crazy? Yep." Alice supplied poking one mushroom with her finger. „They are yukky. And it needs to be cleaned before my parents got heart-attack. Have I told you I had called them this morning? Paps had been really upset. Wanted to come home immediately. You know how..."

„You know what it reminds me of?" Martin interrupted.

„Were you even listening?"

„X files! Maybe they are radioactive or something. Aliens planted them into your basement and they will eventually cover your house and everything within and devour you from inside." Martin grabbed a handful of mushrooms and with devilish smile crept to Dagmar.

„You wouldn't dare." She stepped backwards.

"Don't even try it. I don't want to paint..." Alice tried to intervene but it was too late as with a shriek Dag covered and the mushrooms splattered on the lower wall and floor. "You are like a damn child. Martin. For Christ sake!"

„It's in my hair? It's in my haaair... get it off of meee." she franticaly combed her blond hair with her fingers.

„Wait I will help you... let's see... eek..." Another handful of mushrooms splattered on Alice's face. „You are such an idiot...Martin. What are you, Five?"

„What me?"

Andrej snickered. „You need to cheer..."

Splash.

Alice started to laugh. „Ow Andrej...ugh. Right in the face. Ugh..."



Weeks were hasting forward. Between work and studies, Alice had only a little time for herself, her family or friends. It was a tedious work to finish the thesis on time. The topic on "Democracy in Japan, development of democratic system" was one of the more elusive works for her to master. Books were piling on Alice's worktable and her laptop had been on for nonstop. There was just no need to shut it down.

If it hadn't been enough, Alice had to work two days in a week. Stress and lack of sleep subscribed on her behaviour. Her friends jointly agreed that she got even more snappier as the deadline for her thesis approached.

Maybe because of her nervousness, she was more prone to register curious little things, which have started to occur. One of the more obvious changes were the mushrooms that fortunately after the "mushroom war" were easy to scrub down from the walls. However, this was not the only strange thing during last three weeks that had appeared. Many little changes were creating a fine cobweb of mystery. In press agencies Alice have seen several more or less odd articles. They were not strange, but a little bit unlikely in their nature.

In one of the articles a driver got lost somewhere in Germany, due to the malfunctioning of his GPS. Yes, it was an ordinary event, the GPS had lost its signal or the maps were not up the date. But under these conditions there was something strange. It was the speed counter as well as GPS route indicator that were abnormal. The route was too long and the counter indicated 60 kilometres more than it should. The driver, who wanted to take a shortcut from Dessau to Waldersee was travelling for more than eight hours. He was confident that he took the road L133. The information on the GPS showed he had taken the road L133. But according to the driver, the route somehow changed. Trees were larger, sun brighter, simply, it felt different.

In the discussion below the article, speculations arose to the unhealthy degree full of bad sense of humor. Some said just another idiot. Others asked if it was a woman behind the wheels. Maybe the driver was on drugs. However, it was not the only case of an odd incident. During the following weeks many similar and other new events got into the news, some as curiosities, some as mundane articles. But they were happening - right now, right here, in this world. Alice knew it sounded crazy. But she couldn't entirely deny the existence of the mushrooms in her basement.

As she was once again sitting behind her computer and glaring at the desktop, trying desperately to write down the next paragraph of her thesis, she had to admit she was too tired for it. Even though, the invisible clock, which was in her head, ticked away every remaining time, she had enough. For that clock, the hours were like minutes and days like hours. Always letting her know that another day passed; prompting her to hurry up, work harder, quicker, better to make it on time. But Alice felt exhausted.

Maybe, she let herself to be too worked up, wanting to succeed and getting everyone to acknowledge her. Sometimes, Alice thought she would become like her mother. Another workaholic in the family. But, when you want to get something, or gain prestige, you had to work hard.

She sighed.

Maybe it would be better to take a walk. Alone. Without a dog or other people. It was Thursday, everyone was working or at school. There shouldn't be many people in the woods. That was the right idea. Alone and in the silence between the trees. Alice desperately needed to get her head clear.



"This is ridiculous." Alice sighed, giving in for the time being and closing her mobile phone. No signal whatsoever. She had been trying to catch it for half an hour but she had no luck – yet. It worried her. This close to Bratislava there shouldn't be a problem to catch the network of one of the providers. Then why there was no signal? Alice was seriously considering that her mobile was broken.

She shook her head as she was putting the phone into her pocket. Maybe later she would try to call her mum once more. For now, the forest around her was green and the asphalt road to Kačín stretched before her like a snake. Alice liked this road. It was fairly easy, with no high slope, just an enjoyable walk to clear her head and catch a little bit of fresh air.

It was a first week of April, meaning everything came alive in the sunny rays. The weather was cold, but despite of it the buds and new green leaves were growing in the slowly awakening spring. Alice opened the fastenings and then unzipped her long woollen cardigan. The air smelled of earth, wet and fresh. The tree trunks were in shades of deep brown and even deeper grey mixing into a blur of colours.

Silence spread like a cocoon around her and for the first time in many weeks she was free for the upcoming few hours. No obligations, responsibilities to think about, duties to fulfil. Her irritation seeped out of her and she chuckled – full of relief and joy.

Kačín was approximately hour and half by a measured walk away from her home, but she as always was in her swift pace managing to do it in an hour. The hut with refreshments was closed. Alice only shrugged. It was workday and she had expected it to be closed. They mostly opened during weekends, when families with children went for a walk or during hunting events.

She took a swing of water from the bottle and stuffed it back to her pack. The question was where to now. Alice didn't want to return yet. It was only four in the afternoon, if her mobile worked properly - no worry for getting too dark anytime soon. She should have three or four hours left for that.

She turned from the asphalt road and took a small path deeper into the forest. Through there, if she remembered correctly, led a track around the hill back to the district where she lived. The path was old and not used much, but still visible and of course marked by a yellow - white marks on the trees. Alice was plunged into the forest - she liked hiking. If it was even a little bit possible, she was trying to move on foot. With no spare time at her disposal, walking was her only exercise and mostly she practiced it in the city centre. This was particularly welcomed change.

Hour or two flew by without her even noticing. She stopped several times and wandered deeper into the woods from the path, always finding something that caught her eye. This time she was sitting on the trunk of fallen oak tree crunching a fit bar. Sun was exactly above the tree line illuminating the clearing where she sat. Alice wasn't the type for exaggerating, but the landscape around her was just beautiful. The trees had silvery trunks like ashes. But these were much taller and their trunks smoother, branches growing high above her head. Even the light was somehow softer, gentler brightening the glade.

Even when the clearing was breath taking, the sun was too low for Alice to stay much longer. She stood up turning to the direction from where she came, slowly returning on the yellow marked path. The ground beneath her feet was softer and the thin sweet voices of birds were clearer. Despite her efforts however she couldn't find the path.

It was just stupid. She never had moved too far away from the road. Maybe she was wrong. She should turn left… or right… or… maybe just a little while and she would be on the road. The yellow marked signs that should be somewhere on the tree trunks were nowhere to seen.

Damn. This whole situation started to freak her out.

Maybe just a little bit further and she would be on the path. She should not lose her head – not now.

Breathe. Maybe when she returned and followed her footsteps...Yes that should work. Alice turned, walking back to the clearing. But no there was no clearing around...this way.

Maybe this way...

No. Damn. Damn. Damn.

Where to? Alice wasn't entirely sure how she could get lost and the strange feeling of forlornness overwhelmed her. This is just stupid, stupid, stupid..

Mobile!

She would catch the network and call for help. But whom? Police, first aid… shouldn't you call fire brigade station? Call mum. That's it.

No signal whatsoever.

She should throw the mobile or something. Slam it against the tree trunk. Scream or... But the rising panic kept her throat close and her hands shaking.

It was just hilarious. What now? She shouldn't stand here and do nothing. She racked her brains. The moss… yes, of course. It is good that people go to schools. Sometimes you remember such nonsense's just like the moss. It grows on the north side of the trees. Hopefully Alice remembered it correctly.

So if the moss grows on the north side, her home was…

Arggggg! How the hell should she know? How… she never had any survival course or anything like that. This was hopeless. Tears of frustration prickled her eyes. Fine, just fine! And now she would starts to cry. It would definitely help her situation.

What the fuck. Alice sniffed.

Not now – think. Bratislava was in a valley, so if she walked downwards, she should manage to get to the city. Alice closed her eyes trying to remember from which direction she came. She had turned so many times around that she had forgotten it. But at the end there was nothing else to do then to walk.

However, nightfall in the woods came more abruptly than in the town. It was pitch black. All light available was from the stars, if they were able to penetrate the canopy of leafs. It got also considerably colder and the woollen cardigan wasn't suited to warm her in the early April's cold nights. Alice shivered stopping somewhere in the middle of a hillside. There was no point in continuing. She had tripped so many times that by now her hands were dirty and her right knee hurt.

She would stay here during the night. Alice squinted her eyes, looking at the great oak tree to her left - right there. It would give her so much protection as she could possibly get in this predicament.

Alice put her backpack down, and prepared slowly in the dark her refuge. She swept some of the last years leafs onto one place between two great roots protruding from the ground and sat down. She looked at her mobile – 9 pm and still no signal.

Alice sighed, clutching her backpack closer to her, cold creeping under her skin. If she would smoke, she could light a fire. But as Alice disliked cigarette smoking there was no point in carrying matches or a zippo. The forest was full of foreign sounds and the lack of vision frightened her more than anything else. This night would be one to remember that was for sure.

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