I run through the forest, the sound of pitchforks scraping the ground and screams not far behind me. I jump over bushes and through mangled tree branches. My ebony hair flies across my face; I hear myself breathing rapidly, my lungs inhaling the fresh pine of the trees, and my heart jumps and tumbles like my body. My black and red dress catches on a rose bush, and I look at the fast approaching mob as I try untangling it. I wrench it free and continue running through the forest. I stumble over a large tree root and see a small cave. I rush to it and duck inside.

I watch the mob pound pass me, the heat of their torches scorching my face.

“Where are you, witch?”

“Come pay for your sins!”

“You can’t hide from the righteous, you coward!”

Their cries fade as the distance between us grows, and I start to crawl out of my hiding place. Suddenly, something grabs my dress and pulls me back into the cave. My eyes widen and I scratch at the dirt as I try to claw myself away. The force behind me yanks my dress harder, and I fall back into the hole. I brace myself for an animal attack, but nothing happens. I glance around and realize I’m falling down a dirt tunnel. I try to grab onto a rock jutting out of the wall, but I’m moving too fast.

I finally fall on something soft. I bounce a little, and my feet are on firm ground once again.

“Watch where you’re going!” I look up and see that I’ve fallen on a giant caterpillar. My eyes widen and I look the giant insect over. He’s purple with blue spots, and lounging on his back while smoking tobacco from a hookah. He blows the smoke at me, “What brings you to Wonderland, dirty maiden?”

I look at my dress. The black and red brocade is stained with dirt and grass; my fingernails are black, and my hands are covered in a thin layer of dirt. I beat them against my skirt, and look up at the giant butterfly fetus.

“I was running, and something pulled me here,” I reply.

The caterpillar nods as he takes a long drag of smoke, “I see, and what would you like to accomplish here?”

“I don’t know…I would like to find a place where I can live in peace. You see, I’m a witch. I don’t practice any dark magic, that’s evil, but I do practice white magic; I like to help people.”

“Let’s see if what you say is true, I want you to return me to my normal size. I was cursed by a witch who came through here not long before you. She had short blonde hair, and a simple blue dress. She didn’t look like a witch at all! She cursed me to grow as big as a train, and I haven’t found a way to undo her enchantment.”

“Mhmm…Do you have any herbs? I can make you a shrinking potion.”

“Over there,” he points to an oak tree with sprouts beneath it. I walk over and see that all the herbs are labeled. I pick the ones I need, and, using the mortar and pestle I have in my pouch, I grind the herbs together. I find a stream and fill my

bowl with the crystal liquid. The herbs dissolve in the water, and turn the potion green. I return to the caterpillar and hand him the bowl.

“Drink this.”

He takes the bowl from me and sips it. Each sip causes him to shrink until he’s the size of a normal caterpillar.

“Thank you, miss!” he squeaks, I go over to him and pick him up. “I think you’ll be able to find yourself happy here, you just have to meet with the Queen first.”

“The Queen?”

“The Queen of Hearts, she’s a witch too. I’ll take you,” he jumps from my hand and takes off, leaving an iridescent trail of goo for me to follow. The walk is beautiful, we pass through meadows filled with colorful flowers, passed turquoise blue lagoons, and under trees with apples as big as ponies. We finally reach a red stone path, and we follow it to a white castle covered in red hearts.

I knock on the door, and a guard asks me where I’d like to go. I tell him I’d like to see the queen, and he leads me to the throne.

The queen is a short plump woman atop a throne that looks more like a tower, because of its height. She looks down at me, and I bow.

“Your Majesty, I am here seeking refuge in your kingdom. My name is Raven, and I am a white witch. I would like to live in peace here, and I offer my services of spells and potions to you in exchange for safety.”

The queen stares at me, her mouth frowning the entire time.

“You’re a white witch?”

“Yes, your majesty, I refuse to practice black magic.”

“To the executioner, then! We don’t have room for white witches in my kingdom!”

I jump up, “What?”

Two men come and grab my arms. I try wrestling my limbs free, but they grip me like handcuffs. They lead me out of the castle, and to an executioner’s block. I walk with them, my head hanging low.

I look out at the crowd that’s gathered. Everyone waits for the moment when my head will be removed. I kneel down, and place my neck on the block. I look up and see the caterpillar I helped smirking at me from his position upon the queen’s shoulder.

I gasp, “You—!”

A sharp pain hits my neck, and then everything turns black and numb.

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Samantha Henry

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