Novellas

MALAISE

The executive committee of Once Upon a Time Kingdom met frequently to discuss Matters of State over coffee and cake. The Executive Committee consisted of Cinderella, Rapunzel, Show White, Goldilocks and Red Riding Hood. On the agenda was what steps could be taken to overcome the problem of creeping malaise in Once Upon a Time Kingdom.

There was an undisputed recognition that Cinderella was in charge. She was the Queen- in- waiting, after all. She was beautiful and kind and thoughtful. She was also obsessed with order and cleanliness and this need pervaded The Land. The whole population was busy making soap, scouring, then rinsing with boiling water. Anything that had an element of dust, rust or smelt strangely funny was washed down, washed out and many times just obliterated. Witches and goblins, elves etc were no longer figures of fear. Who could fear someone who had clean fingernails and smelt of roses and lavender? To be fair, Cinderella maintained a high standard of presentation. Her hair always shone, her eyes shone, even her skin had a glass gloss on a par with her dazzling slippers.

Undoubtedly, the girl with the shiniest hair was Rapunzel. Cool headed, tranquil, and composed Rapunzel had determined that no-one in The Kingdom would ever be punished again for having a craving for a particular food, in the way that she and her mother had been. Witches would no longer have exclusivity over radishes, which is what Rapunzel’s mother had craved while pregnant with her and the ghastly deal was struck. Unending radishes in return for the baby, who was promptly imprisoned in a tower.

Rapunzel established market gardening. She instigated crop rotation. The whole population benefited greatly from her expertise. There was some tension between herself and Cinderella about the smell of compost, but the payoff was wonderfully fresh food and no-one went hungry. And yet there was a sameness to it. Satisfaction didn’t result in unquestioning contentment. A full stomach didn’t quite bed down a growing gnawing for something different. Parsley, rosemary, and thyme could only do so much.

Even Snow White, immensely practical, a girl with practically no ‘me-time’ but who felt great appreciation for the kindness of the seven dwarfs, was feeling the stirrings of restlessness. She loved Cinderella like a sister, but all the incessant scrubbing and cleaning was getting her down. It had to be admitted that the seven dwarfs took to Snow White’s washing, cooking, and cleaning very easily. It was wonderful to have clean clothes, healthy lunches, and delicious dinners, but they had started to notice that her beautiful sapphire blue eyes would now and again regard them in an appraising manner.  The dwarfs, too, were beginning to change. Nobody quite knew what sort of work they did, but that relentless cheerfulness was increasingly interspersed with some grumbling. If truth be told, though, this was a bit of relief. Unceasing cheerfulness can grate.

Goldilocks, too, was chaffing at the sameness of everything. Some time had passed since she had been in the Three Bears’ home and pronounced what was satisfactory and what was not. She loved Cinderella like a sister, but the Kingdom’s perfections were becoming a source of disgruntlement. There was simply nothing to compare, to further pronounce upon. Her parents were not much surprised at this, but they were dismayed at what they considered to be their daughter’s depth of ingratitude.  Dear Cinderella had not only raised the level of personal hygiene, but she had also raised the level of safety by nullifying the power of witches, goblins, elves, etc to the level of muted threats. And besides which, Goldilocks was now at an age where she should be casting her eyes at princes or certainly sons of high-class families. But there were two problems. The first was that the young princes and young men of noble birth lacked purpose. With no damsels in distress to rescue, they had taken to jumping on their white horses and riding off to goodness knows where. Goldilocks conceded they were still tall and still had chiselled jawlines, but she pointed out they were all blurring into the same thing. The second problem was, well, more problematic. All the possible suitors had one thing in common. They were afraid of being compared by Goldilocks. It became a truism. She would be a handful. But Goldilocks had set her heart on one man. Red Riding Hood’s Mr Wolf. She did not alarm her parents with this information. However, others were beginning to notice.

In hindsight, of course, it should have been obvious that the wolf in Red Riding Hood’s grandmother’s bed was someone under a spell. The why of it is a story for another time.  What is known is Red Riding Hood’s extremely sweet disposition and her generally happy propensity to follow her mother’s rules and warnings. However, what was not recognised at the time was Red Riding Hood’s literal interpretation of a rule and the degree of her love for animals.

Mother had said ‘Don’t stray from the path in the woods to Grandmother’s house.” Red Riding Hood didn’t. Mother had said “Don’t speak to strangers.” Mother did not stipulate “Don’t speak to strange animals.” Red Riding Hood and the wolf struck up a friendship on that path to Grandmother’s house, among the sighs of the deeply wooded forest. The spell cast on the wolf/man was broken when Red Riding Hood wrapped her arms around him to protect him from a huntsman axe. The huntsman had mistaken Grandmother’s shrieks of laughter for actual shrieks. Perfectly reasonable assumption, really, the normally isolated elderly lady was not given to uncontrollable bouts of boisterous mirth. Mr Wolf, as he became known, stepped out of the imprisoning pelt.

And what a man. Different to the men around him. Tall and chisel- jawed, of course. Any other likeness to the lads that jumped on white horses and clattered off into the distance? Definitely not. There was a loucheness to him, an unconventionality that aroused suspicion within the maternal hearts of the Kingdom. He had the look of a pirate, the build of a boxer, and the intense gaze of a man who could devour the woman in front of him if he so chose. Goldilocks was smitten. Alas, Mr Wolf chose only to gaze at Red Riding Hood.  Red Riding Hood was at first oblivious, Goldilocks determined.  But then came awareness, and this was followed by a growing tension between the two girls.

Cinderella was a little at a loss as to how to deal with this new threat to the well-mannered environment she had so carefully constructed. She had convened an extra special meeting of the Executive Committee, which did not include Goldilocks and Red Riding Hood, to discuss the threat this new tension might cause. It was agreed that there was a problem, however, no solutions were forthcoming.

But on this particular day, at this particular meeting, all members were present. Afterwards, it was agreed that they had all distinctly heard a cat purring. The purring had been so loud; they had all put their heads down and covered their ears. When they uncovered their ears and looked up, they found the prettiest little girl amongst them, a white rabbit at her side and the strangest ginger cat on her shoulders. The child was holding a brown bag, which they would discover contained mushrooms.

It transpired that Alice in Wonderland had made a wish, took some little bites out of the mushrooms, and here she was, in the Kingdom of Once Upon a Time. She loved them all as big sisters. Alice proposed the Executive Committee and she share a new adventure. She could transport them into her world, but into a time she had yet not experienced herself. It would be wonderful to have their company. Of course they could return when they chose. The mushrooms would ensure that.

Cinderella at once saw the possibilities of solutions presenting themselves to solve the problems of malaise and even mending Goldilocks ever increasing ache for Mr Wolf. New information for new strategies was exactly what was needed.

One other thing Alice impressed upon them. It would be prudent not to discuss the properties of mushrooms, no matter where they ended up. The members of the Executive Committee agree to return in time for the next meeting and compare notes on their experiences.

 

            Report on The Experiences of The Executive Committee in the 21st Century

 

Cinderella has a headache. She has closeted herself in her apartment, with a packet of Panadol, a big pot of tea, and many chocolate biscuits. The many chocolate biscuits are a form of self-punishment because Cinderella knows her complexion will be a little dimmed the next day. She has learnt this and many other things from the adventures she and The Executive Committee have shared due to Alice whisking them into the 21st century.

She has also learnt her mother-in- law, the queen is very displeased with this unheard-of break in protocol. “There will be ramifications,” she has shouted.

“Well, at least she can’t cut off your head,” said Alice cheerfully. “We’re off.” and with that she pocketed a few chocolate biscuits and kissed Cinderella on the cheek. “See you soon.” The Cheshire cat on her shoulder, tilted his head, exposed his newly whitened teeth, in a dazzlingly malevolent smile, and they disappeared into their time.

Not too soon, I hope, thought Cinderella. She noticed that as much as she adored Alice, that the child had lost some of her old-fashioned courtesy and had acquired a breeziness that, quite frankly, could be bracing at times. As for the Cheshire Cat. Well, Cinderella can laugh now, but there were sticky moments. Cheshire Cat became a celebrity immediately. No-one anywhere had seen anything like him. He appeared on celebrity chat shows. Had a makeover. His teeth were whitened to neon brightness, his fur was shampooed and fluffed to unbelievable softness, and his claws buffed to a manly, muted sheen. Psychiatrists quizzed him about his kitten-hood, people in white coats murmured about his danger to humankind and wanted to dissect him and earnest scientists asked if he knew Schrodinger’s Cat. Right now though, Cinderella needs to collect her thoughts and ruminate and report on the pros and cons of the experiences encountered and their impact on the Kingdom. She suspects little will mollify the Queen, a stickler for tradition, and all the very good things it has given her. Is Cinderella’s Prince Charming likely to be a problem?  As stated, Cinderella has a learnt a lot in the 21st century, some of which we will draw a curtain across. Suffice to say she is not worried about Prince Charming.

The possibilities of introducing washing machines and dishwashers to her people is hugely pleasurable in anticipation for the happiness quotient but highlight the obvious drawback. No electricity. Why? No knowledge. Why? No education. Why? No schools for the population in general. Pockets of exclusive tutorship in horse riding, what knife and fork to use for what course, who should curtsy to who, do exist. However, for now it seems, the best one can do is to introduce cleansing materials that would reduce the need to scrub and throw boiling water over everything.  There are new perfumes, soaps, shampoos, and because so much time is saved in not scrubbing, everyone can luxuriate in bubble baths. Cinderella thinks longingly of doing just this but must press on.

Undoubtedly, Rapunzel was and continues to be a lovely and bright consequence of these experiences. There had been one worrying moment when Rapunzel looked up from some giant marrows and seemed to be thoughtfully assessing the intensely bearded, and it has to be said, an exceedingly scruffy man, even for a gardener, standing in front of her. So what if he was a television presenter, Cinderella thought primly, there are standards. The camera loved Rapunzel; the scruffy man inched closer to her hair whenever he could. However, Rapunzel was totally dedicated to collecting and cataloguing seeds, compiling recipe books, and amassing a dizzying display of exotic condiments such as mustards, many different types of honey, and exotic blends of herbs to bring back with her. Everyone in the Kingdom is delighted with this unexpected windfall. Honestly, the girl is a blessing.

Now to record some trickier aspects of the adventure and possible ramifications. Cinderella had discussed the problems of introducing washing machines and dishwashers into the Kingdom, and the decision she has made to let sleeping dogs lie for the moment with Snow White.

Snow White, if you recall, had problems with her own growing restlessness and her concern about the dwarfs changing attitude to work. The 21st century was marvellous for Snow White. She immersed herself in the working conditions of the masses. Became employed in the Corporate Sector, ripped through Human Resources, smashed a couple of glass ceilings, only to find corporate speak had the same circulatory as unending housework. So she did the obvious thing, became a Union official, then Head of the Union. Snow White, previously such a kind – hearted, quiet girl, boomed Education Reform must start immediately, and denounced Cinderella for the use of a cliche. The newly ebullient Snow White was now writing a book about the evils of despotism. Lovely. She would have to be kept away from the Queen. Actually, what had been amazing was the friendship that developed between the White Rabbit and Snow White. Turned out he was a super secretary and a highly efficient researcher when he wasn’t rushing around. Snow White has arranged an ergonomic chair for him. They are extremely content working on this book which could well explode the underpinnings of the Kingdom of Once Upon a Time.

The love triangle between Red Riding Hood, Mr Wolf and Goldilocks continues to be a problem.

In the 21st century Goldilocks sore heart was given a respite. She, in fact, became intoxicated with delight. There was so much to compare. So many levels of mediocrity right through to marvels of perfection. Well, almost. She became an influencer. She and the Cheshire Cat often teamed up on Instagram and chat shows. She introduced Alice to jeans and T-shirts and tough boots. Alice ditched making daisy chains and keeping her hair ribbon in place. She revelled in playing soccer, netball, and rock climbing. She took to rap music and making the strange hand movements that came with it. Unimaginable numbers followed Goldilocks’s opinions about clothes, homes, holiday destinations. She became an agony aunt. That career was short lived when she dispensed dire advice about bumping off the competition vying for one’s Object of Desire. Undeterred, she started a dating agency. In the process of interviewing a prospective client for the agency, he changed from a person of passable presentation to a person of immense possibility. He knows about stem cell research. He is a scientist. Could he make a human being? “Possible, perhaps, maybe, but immoral.”

“Just what is involved in this stem cell research?” asks Goldilocks, leaning forward provocatively. her musky perfume enveloping him. Years of study, something about genomes, DNA manipulation, he drones on. And something about petri dishes. She is feels she might fall into a coma. She does not have years to lose on this. It’s so simple, really. Why did she not think of it herself? What it comes down to is slicing a bit of Mr Wolf and then finding a disgruntled underground witch to cast a spell. There is a problem “It might not work,” said the alarmed and now very alert scientist.

No, states Goldilocks, musing aloud, the problem is getting close enough to Mr Wolf to get that slice of him.  She artlessly discloses all this to Cinderella, who is now also understandably alarmed, and very alert herself.

The situation is a ticking time-bomb. Cinderella’s heart aches for Goldilocks. It seems the only way out is for Mr Wolf to fall out of love with Red Riding Hood, but this is unlikely. He and Red Riding Hood became deeply committed to animal welfare and climate change while in the 21st century. They are not back in the kingdom yet but have sent word they will be arriving shortly with a great surprise. So a little breathing space, anyway.

The news arrives that the Queen had overindulged at one of the impromptu lunches Rapunzel has taken to throwing. It was reported that Her Majesty had ploughed through an Irish Whisky cheesecake, and then chomped her way through a pavlova. Had taken a breather and tackled the cheeseboard. She was indisposed and would remain in her quarters for the next few days. However, every time she felt a little better, Rapunzel would send her a basket of something new and delicious, and so the days turned into weeks. Cinderella was determined that whatever Rapunzel desired in the future, she would get.

The peaceful interlude couldn’t last, of course. Red Riding Hood and Mr Wolf returned. Cinderella convened a meeting of the Executive Committee. The time had come for a full and frank discussion. Cinderella was not looking forward to it. Actually Goldilocks had been quiet during this time, this time of peace. Snow White and the White Rabbit had been chugging along nicely on their work of clarifying despotism. It had to be said; they imparted disapprovingly to Cinderella, their very own Royal Family weren’t coming up smelling of roses, despite all the cleanliness and fragrance in the Kingdom. And then there was dear Rapunzel, whose eyes had turned dreamy, and who confided to Cinderella that she was pining for a man she had met in the 21st Century. Oh Please, not the hairy man, thought Cinderella, recoiling with inner distaste at the memory of the scruffy gardener with the unkempt beard. “Do you remember that man with the magnificent beard, Cinders?” asks Rapunzel. “Such an authentic aura about him, don’t you think.” Rapunzel’s eyes shone mistily. ” He was certainly different to anyone in our milieu,” Cinders replied.

The Executive Committee is now just waiting for Goldilocks and Red Riding Hood and, on this occasion, for Mr Wolf to arrive. Rapunzel, still moist eyed, is there. Snow White and the White Rabbit are there. The White Rabbit is now officially secretary of the group and takes minutes. Goldilocks arrives dressed in skin-tight black leather, which covers every inch of her body and uncovers every curve simultaneously. Even the White Rabbit is transfixed. Red Riding Hood arrives with Mr Wolf. Mr Wolf clocks Goldilocks and is transfixed. Goldilocks moves towards him. Cinderella remembering Goldilocks desire to slice a piece off a piece of Mr Wolf, moves to protect him. While registering wildly, there is nowhere Goldilocks could hide a knife in that ensemble. Red Riding Hood gives a shrill whistle, and all movement stops as a black panther, midnight muscular, lithe, and menacing, pads softly into the room. The panther clocks Goldilocks stopped and gave a low growl. Cinderella swerves, changing direction to save Goldilocks from this predator. It is her duty to save her subject, and she hopes Snow White and the White Rabbit are registering her selfless heroism. Mr Wolf flings out an arm and blocks Cinderella’s action. “Watch this,” he instructs them all.

Red Riding Hood moves forward and wraps her arms around the panther’s neck. The panther morphs into a midnight muscular, lithe, and menacing mountain of a man, his black eyes never leaving Goldilocks’s face and emits a low growl. Goldilocks swoons. Cinderella, by this stage, mildly hysterical, thinks she must ban Red Riding Hood from hugging any more animals, when the door flings open. Alice is jiggling with excitement, the Cheshire cat is grinning and the Queen is beside them, munching a mushroom Alice had offered her from a brown paper bag.

THERE’S A GALAXY FAR FAR AWAY! shouts Alice.

Oh, what the heck, thinks Cinderella.

Mushrooms are passed around. Cinderella looks at Rapunzel. “One request Alice. Can we go via 21st Century? Pick someone up?”

YES! YES! The child hasn’t stopped juggling.

The last sound heard from the Executive Committee meeting room is the Queen’s Royal yelp as she feels her legs swooshed from under her.

 

MALAISE PART TWO

Report On the Experiences of The Executive Committee in the 21st Century

 

Cinderella has a headache. She has closeted herself in her apartment, with a packet of Panadol, a big pot of tea, and many chocolate biscuits. The many chocolate biscuits are a form of self-punishment because Cinderella knows her complexion will be a little dimmed the next day. She has learnt this and many other things from the adventures she and The Executive Committee have shared due to Alice whisking them into the 21st century.

She has also learnt her mother-in- law, the queen is very displeased with this unheard-of break in protocol. “There will be ramifications,” she has shouted.

“Well, at least she can’t cut off your head,” said Alice cheerfully. “We’re off.” and with that she pocketed a few chocolate biscuits and kissed Cinderella on the cheek. “See you soon.” The Cheshire cat on her shoulder, tilted his head, exposed his newly whitened teeth, in a dazzlingly malevolent smile, and they disappeared into their time.

Not too soon, I hope, thought Cinderella. She noticed that as much as she adored Alice, that the child had lost some of her old-fashioned courtesy and had acquired a breeziness that, quite frankly, could be bracing at times. As for the Cheshire Cat. Well, Cinderella can laugh now but there were sticky moments. Cheshire Cat became a celebrity immediately. No-one anywhere had seen anything like him. He appeared on celebrity chat shows. Had a makeover. His teeth were whitened to neon brightness, his fur was shampooed and fluffed to unbelievable softness, and his claws buffed to a manly, muted sheen.  Psychiatrists quizzed him about his kitten-hood, people in white coats murmured about his danger to humankind and wanted to dissect him and earnest scientists asked if he knew Schrodinger’s Cat. Right now though, Cinderella needs to collect her thoughts and ruminate and report on the pros and cons of the experiences encountered and their impact on the Kingdom. She suspects little will mollify the Queen, a stickler for tradition, and all the incredibly good things it has given her. Is Cinderella’s Prince Charming likely to be a problem?  As stated, Cinderella has a learnt a lot in the 21st century, some of which we will draw a curtain across. Suffice to say she is not worried about Prince Charming.

The possibilities of introducing washing machines and dishwashers to her people is hugely pleasurable in anticipation for the happiness quotient but highlight the obvious drawback. No electricity. Why? No knowledge. Why? No education. Why? No schools for the population in general. Pockets of exclusive tutorship in horse riding, what knife and fork to use for what course, who should curtsy to who, do exist. However, for now it seems, the best one can do is to introduce cleansing materials that would reduce the need to scrub and throw boiling water over everything. There are new perfumes, soaps, shampoos, and because so much time is saved in not scrubbing, everyone can luxuriate in bubble baths. Cinderella thinks longingly of doing just this but must press on.

Undoubtedly, Rapunzel was and continues to be a lovely and bright consequence of these experiences. There had been one worrying moment when Rapunzel looked up from some giant marrows and seemed to be thoughtfully assessing the intensely bearded, and it has to be said, an exceedingly scruffy man, even for a gardener, standing in front of her. So what if he was a television presenter, Cinderella thought primly, there are standards. The camera loved Rapunzel; the scruffy man inched closer to her hair whenever he could. However, Rapunzel was totally dedicated to collecting and cataloguing seeds, compiling recipe books, and amassing a dizzying display of exotic condiments such as mustards, many different types of honey, and exotic blends of herbs to bring back with her. Everyone in the Kingdom is delighted with this unexpected windfall. Honestly, the girl is a blessing.

Now to record some trickier aspects of the adventure and possible ramifications. Cinderella had discussed the problems of introducing washing machines and dishwashers into the Kingdom, and the decision she has made to let sleeping dogs lie for the moment with Snow White.

Snow White, if you recall, had problems with her own growing restlessness and her concern about the dwarfs changing attitude to work. The 21st century was marvellous for Snow White. She immersed herself in the working conditions of the masses. Became employed in the Corporate Sector, ripped through Human Resources, smashed a couple of glass ceilings, only to find corporate speak had the same circulatory as unending housework. So she did the obvious thing, became a Union official, then Head of the Union. Snow White, previously such a kind – hearted, quiet girl, boomed Education Reform must start immediately, and denounced Cinderella for the use of a cliche. The newly ebullient Snow White was now writing a book about the evils of despotism. Lovely. She would have to be kept away from the Queen. Actually, what had been amazing was the friendship that developed between the White Rabbit and Snow White. Turned out he was a super secretary and a highly efficient researcher when he wasn’t rushing around. Snow White has arranged an ergonomic chair for him. They are extremely content working on this book which could well explode the underpinnings of the Kingdom of Once Upon a Time.

The love triangle between Red Riding Hood, Mr Wolf and Goldilocks continues to be a problem.

In the 21st century Goldilocks sore heart was given a respite. She, in fact, became intoxicated with delight. There was so much to compare. So many levels of mediocrity right through to marvels of perfection. Well, almost. She became an influencer. She and the Cheshire Cat often teamed up on Instagram and chat shows. She introduced Alice to jeans and T-shirts and tough boots. Alice ditched making daisy chains and keeping her hair ribbon in place. She revelled in playing soccer, netball, and rock climbing. She took to rap music and making the strange hand movements that came with it. Unimaginable numbers followed Goldilocks’s opinions about clothes, homes, holiday destinations. She became an agony aunt. That career was short lived when she dispensed dire advice about bumping off the competition vying for one’s Object of Desire. Undeterred, she started a dating agency. In the process of interviewing a prospective client for the agency, he changed from a person of passable presentation to a person of immense possibility. He knows about stem cell research. He is a scientist. Could he make a human being? “Possible, perhaps, maybe, but immoral.”

“Just what is involved in this stem cell research?” asks Goldilocks, leaning forward provocatively. her musky perfume enveloping him. Years of study, something about genomes, DNA manipulation, he drones on. And something about petri dishes. She is feels she might fall into a coma. She does not have years to lose on this. It’s so simple, really. Why did she not think of it herself?  What it comes down to is slicing a bit of Mr Wolf and then finding a disgruntled underground witch to cast a spell. There is a problem “It might not work,” said the alarmed and now very alert scientist.

No, states Goldilocks, musing aloud, the problem is getting close enough to Mr Wolf to get that slice of him. She artlessly discloses all this to Cinderella, who is now also, understandably alarmed, and very alert herself.

The situation is a ticking time-bomb. Cinderella’s heart aches for Goldilocks. It seems the only way out is for Mr Wolf to fall out of love with Red Riding Hood, but this is unlikely. He and Red Riding Hood became deeply committed to animal welfare and climate change while in the 21st century. They are not back in the kingdom yet but have sent word they will be arriving shortly with a great surprise. So a little breathing space, anyway.

The news arrives that the Queen had overindulged at one of the impromptu lunches Rapunzel has taken to throwing. It was reported that Her Majesty had ploughed through an Irish Whisky cheesecake, and then chomped her way through a pavlova. Had taken a breather and tackled the cheeseboard. She was indisposed and would remain in her quarters for the next few days. However, every time she felt a little better, Rapunzel would send her a basket of something new and delicious, and so the days turned into weeks. Cinderella was determined that whatever Rapunzel desired in the future, she would get.

The peaceful interlude couldn’t last, of course. Red Riding Hood and Mr Wolf returned. Cinderella convened a meeting of the Executive Committee. The time had come for a full and frank discussion. Cinderella was not looking forward to it. Actually Goldilocks had been quiet during this time, this time of peace.  Snow White and the White Rabbit had been chugging along nicely on their work of clarifying despotism. It had to be said; they imparted disapprovingly to Cinderella, their very own Royal Family weren’t coming up smelling of roses, despite all the cleanliness and fragrance in the Kingdom. And then there was dear Rapunzel, whose eyes had turned dreamy, and who confided to Cinderella that she was pining for a man she had met in the 21st Century. Oh Please, not the hairy man, thought Cinderella, recoiling with inner distaste at the memory of the scruffy gardener with the unkempt beard. “Do you remember that man with the magnificent beard, Cinders?” asks Rapunzel. “Such an authentic aura about him, don’t you think.” Rapunzel’s eyes shone mistily. ” He was certainly different to anyone in our milieu,” Cinders replied.

The Executive Committee is now just waiting for Goldilocks and Red Riding Hood and on this occasion, for Mr Wolf to arrive. Rapunzel, still moist eyed, is there. Snow White and the White Rabbit are there. The White Rabbit is now officially secretary of the group and takes minutes. Goldilocks arrives dressed in skin-tight black leather, which covers every inch of her body and uncovers every curve simultaneously. Even the White Rabbit is transfixed. Red Riding Hood arrives with Mr Wolf. Mr Wolf clocks Goldilocks and is transfixed. Goldilocks moves towards him. Cinderella remembering Goldilocks desire to slice a piece off a piece of Mr Wolf, moves to protect him, while registering wildly, there is nowhere Goldilocks could hide a knife in that ensemble. Red Riding Hood gives a shrill whistle, and all movement stops as a black panther, midnight muscular, lithe, and menacing, pads softly into the room. The panther clocks Goldilocks stopped and gave a low growl. Cinderella swerves, changing direction to save Goldilocks from this predator. It is her duty to save her subject, and she hopes Snow White and the White Rabbit are registering her selfless heroism. Mr Wolf flings out an arm and blocks Cinderella’s action. “Watch this,” he instructs them all.

Red Riding Hood moves forward and wraps her arms around the panther’s neck. The panther morphs into a midnight muscular, lithe, and menacing mountain of a man, his black eyes never leaving Goldilocks’s face and emits a low growl. Goldilocks swoons. Cinderella, by this stage, mildly hysterical, thinks she must ban Red Riding Hood from hugging any more animals, when the door flings open. Alice is jiggling with excitement, the Cheshire cat is grinning and the Queen is beside them, munching a mushroom Alice had offered her from a brown paper bag.

THERE’S A GALAXY FAR FAR AWAY! shouts Alice.

Oh, what the heck, thinks Cinderella.

Mushrooms are passed around. Cinderella looks at Rapunzel. “One request Alice. Can we go via 21st Century? Pick someone up?”

YES! YES! The child hasn’t stopped juggling.

The last sound heard from the Executive Committee meeting room is the Queen’s Royal yelp as she feels her legs swooshed from under her.

 

Susannah Thompson © 2019

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