The next morning at school, Cheslav, Church and Marshall were sitting at a cafeteria table, lounging around before they had to go to class. Church was considerably more alert than his friends, scanning for anyone who would potentially cause them trouble.
“Hey, did you hear what happened at the hinezumi dorm yesterday morning?” A voice said. Church hunched forward, eavesdropping. It was a wyvern talking to a holstaur.
“Wasn’t it raided or something?” The holstaur asked.
“Yeah, apparently these three guys barged into their dojo, sprayed them with water, then stole a bunch of their underwear. One of them got the shit kicked out of them though.” The wyvern giggled.
“Funny thing is… we got raided last year, but nobody seemed to talk about it.”
“That’s because anyone with the gall to challenge the hinezumi in their own dojo is pretty ballsy.”
“I hope they hit the dragon dorms, I’d love to catch them in the act and rape the shit out of them.”
Church scoffed. ‘Monsters will be monsters, won’t they?’ He thought to himself. Surely, they would hit the dragons at some point, but now that he knew they would be waiting, he could plan around it.
“Alright, lads. What’s the first thing you need to keep in mind about cheshires?” He asked his henchmen.
“Uh, they like to talk a lot?” Marshall replied.
“They are purple?”
“Marshall was closest. I don’t think you even tried, Chap.” Marshall drummed his fingers on the table. “They do like to talk, but the important thing to keep in mind is that they will try to confuse you into submission. They’ll poke holes in whatever you say until you’re thoroughly mindbroken. It’s a brilliant strategy, really.”
“So how are we gonna counter it? Ignore them?”
“No you imbecile, if you ignore a cheshire she will get more and more intrusive until she gets impatient and starts whispering lewd things into your ear. They may not be that strong, but they’re nigh impossible to escape if you’ve caught their attention. Our best bet is to beat them at their own game.”
“I think my idea actually might be more feasible, partner.” Marshall shook his head.
“You probably stand a better chance of physically fending them off anyway, you brute. I don’t expect to have any problem out-confusing them myself, but poor Chap here will be horribly outmatched.”
“Why not just let him sit this one out?”
“Because we need him, of course!”
“To leave a trail of twine behind us so we don’t get lost.”
“Now how are we gonna get lost in a simple college dorm?”
“Have you been paying any attention in monsterology? The cheshire dorm is through a Wonderland portal, and things are distorted there… perverted even. The inside of that dormitory is one damned MC Escher painting after another. Stairs that go on forever, doors that open into walls, literal mobius strip hallways- if we don’t leave a trail behind us, we’re dead in the water.”
“Oh…” Marshall shut up after that. Maybe it was time to stop texting all the monsters he gave his number to during class.
“We strike the cheshire dorm next week, that should give Marshall ample time to recover from his wounds. Chap, here’s a list of all the things we will need. We will strike at one in the morning, so mark your calendars.” Church banged his fist on the table. “Meeting adjourned.”
A week passed, and Marshall and Cheslav walked alongside each other, looking for Church. He had texted them, saying he was waiting by the Wonderland portal, but Marshall had forgotten where it was.
“Do ya think it’s on the west side, Cheslav?”
“Nyet, is on the east.”
“Really? But we just checked there, I didn’t see it.”
Making their way back East, Cheslav pointed to a dormitory building. “There! Portal is inside, tovarisch.”
“That’s the alp dorm.”
“Portal is inside alp dorm.”
“Who do you think you’re foolin’?” Marshall put his hands on his belt.
“You fools, get over here!” Shouted Church’s unmistakeable voice.
“Church? Where are ya?”
“Look to your right.”
“Hm? Oh! There you are. Where’s the portal?”
“It’s north of the center building, north!”
“Oh, why didn’t ya tell us?”
“I expected you to have at least somewhat better navigational skills than Christopher Columbus. Goddamned Guinea couldn’t even find his way to the Indies.”
“Yeah, but he discovered somethin’ better.”
“You seem to be implying discovering America was a good thing, and implying that America hadn’t been discovered before.”
“Man, you take the fun outta everything.”
“Just get the bloody hell over here before your babbling attracts unwanted attention.”
Cheslav and Marshall ran over to Church, who hobbled back toward the Wonderland portal.
“Here we are boys, the Wonderland portal.” Church stood before it, basking in its dazzling glow.
The Wonderland portal was the school’s way of making Wonderland residents feel more at home in the orderly, predictable environment of school. No matter how disoriented they got amidst all the laws of physics and ‘logic,’ they could always return to the zany world they were used to after they were done with classes. The portal swirled with purple, pink and white energy, lighting up the night.
“Dang, that’s a pretty big portal.” Marshall looked up- the portal dwarfed the dormitory across from it.
“Reminds Cheslav of babushka’s home cooked meals.” Cheslav commented.
“What the hell does your babushka cook that this reminds you of it?” Marshall gave Cheslav an incredulous look.
“Potato, red onion and turnip casserole.”
Marshall gave up.
“If you aren’t coming, I’ll do this myself.” Church warned, stepping toward the portal.
“Fine, fine. We’re coming.”
The three of them took a deep breath, and stepped through the portal at the same time. A warm, bright light flooded their vision, the world felt like it was spinning, and their bodies floated like feathers as they were thrust into the middle of a cobblestone road.
“Woah! That was trippy.” Marshall grabbed his head and tried to stop the world from spinning.
“Sensation reminds me of babushka’s home cooking afterwards…” Cheslav grabbed his stomach and lurched forward.
“Y-you pansies, stop bein’ melodramatic. I feel jus’ fine.” Church slurred as he stumbled about, using his cane to prevent himself from falling over.
“Hey, this isn’t one in the morning…” Marshall pointed to the sun, hanging high in the orange sky.
“…You’re right, this is high noon if I’ve ever seen it. What does your watch say, Chap?”
“Is cheeki breeki time.”
“What? Let me see-” He looked down at his friend’s watch, but under every hour, it said ‘cheeki breeki.’
“Oh for fuck’s sake. Check your phone Marshall.”
“It still says it’s one in the morning on my phone.”
“Then Wonderland must have a different night cycle- who knows if they’re asleep or awake. Let’s keep quiet and search for a way in.” Church hobbled briskly towards the dorm.
They crept to the back of the building. It looked normal enough, setting aside the purple walls and frilly decorations along the roofline. Though on closer inspection, there was no uniformity to anything, some windows were big, some small, and all manner of shapes.
“This place looks like an architect’s nightmare.” Church commented as they rounded a corner of the building. “ It’s a fine thing Wonderland monsters prefer to stay in Wonderland.”
“Hey, is that a door?” Marshall pointed to what looked to be a tiny door, just big enough for a person to crawl through on their stomach.
“By jove, that is a door. Who the hell is supposed to fit through there?”
“Dunno. Why would cheshire cats even need doors? They could just… poof inside.”
Cheslav turned the knob, the door swinging open with little effort. “Comrades! Is open!”
“Quiet, Chap. We don’t know if they’re sleeping or not.” Church snapped, peeking through the open door. “Looks like Chap and I can squeeze through with no problems, though Marshall will need a bit of… persuasion.”
“Alright, I guess I’ll go second.”
Church crawled through first, pulling Marshall in while Cheslav pushed. Once they were all in, Church remembered something.
“Chap, give me the twine.”
“Da, right here.” Cheslav handed him a large roll of butcher’s twine.
Church tied one end to the doorknob, then unrolled it to give it some slack and handed it back to Cheslav. “Keep unrolling that. If we lose the butcher’s twine we lose our way. Now follow me, boys.” He whispered, going down the hallway.
Inside the hall, random paintings ranging from wonderland trees to nudes of the Queen of Hearts lined the walls from one end to the other. Marshall noticed that there were doors, but they were above ground and just out of their reach. It was impossible to tell what led where, since there were some doors that would lead outside the dormitory if they followed Euclidian laws, but he knew they didn’t.
“Alright lads, let’s split up and search for panties. Marshall, you take that door over there, Cheslav and I will continue down the hall.”
“And why do you get to travel with the guy that has the twine?”
“Because I’m the leader, idiot. As long as you don’t venture too far from the twine, you’ll be alright.”
Marshall grumbled. This was probably going to end with him getting lost.
“Dangit Church, always throwin’ me headfirst into these situations…” Marshall opened another door, but there was just a wall on the other side. He’d been looking around for several minutes, but he wasn’t having any luck. Worse still, this place was starting to feel more and more malevolent, like it was actively trying to get him lost. He could have sworn he’d been through here before, but this door was new…
It was then Marshall realized that despite his best efforts, he was hopelessly lost.
“Alright, don’t panic Marshall. You’re just in a dorm, it’s not going to trap you forever. Worst case scenario is you get caught and they kick you out. No big deal.” He tried to calm himself, to only limited success.
He approached a door that was different from the rest. It had a cornucopia of strange faces on the front that looked like they had been printed off a computer and taped onto the door. He slowly turned the knob and opened the door a crack…
Then promptly closed it.
Inside was a cheshire cat, wearing a camo hat and a white T-shirt, typing at a computer. Her walls were lined with posters of various ‘internet memes’ and her desk was littered with dorito wrappers.
‘SHIT! I hope she didn’t see me!’ Marshall thought to himself, creeping away from the door and trying to muffle his footsteps as best as he could.
He found a staircase, it was slightly suspended off the ground but it looked like there was something promising at the top. He started to climb the stairs when he suddenly felt two soft mounds pressing into his back, then hot breath in his ear.
‘Looks like I’ve been spotted…’ Marshall thought, a knot forming in his stomach. ‘Oh well, guess all I can do is wait for the lewd words.’
“…Wanna see my meme collection?”
“Uhh, beg your pardon, miss?” Marshall whispered.
“Come on back to my room, I’ll show you my collection of memes!”
“You don’t care that I’m just creepin’ through your dorm?”
“Nobody comes to visit us, so this is actually pretty exciting. I’d rather keep you to myself, the other cheshires would talk about normie shit and then rape you. But I’m cooler than that.”
“Oh I bet you are.” Marshall grabbed his head, at least she wasn’t a rapist, though a memelord wasn’t much better.
“Alright, welcome to the meme kingdom!” She swung open the door to her room and Marshall’s jaw dropped- it was worse than he thought.
There was something Marshall didn’t see when he peered into her room, next to her bed was a throne made out of mountain dew bottles. Her bed had a white comforter with the ‘forever alone’ face printed on it and a pillow that had POMF =3 written on the case. Her closet looked mostly empty, as most of her clothes were strewn about the room, with most having memes on them. Now that Marshall had a good look at her from the front, he could see that her hat had the words ‘If you’re breathing you’re horny’ written in red text.
‘Good lord, why couldn’t I have gotten caught by a normal cheshire?’ Marshall thought.
“So, what do you think? Are these the meanest memes ever to make your peener cream?”
Marshall almost threw up in his mouth. “U-uh, they’re very… nice, miss.” Marshall didn’t even want to bother asking her name. She was just going to be ‘miss.’
The memelord cheshire approached him and batted her eyelashes. “You’re the first person to ever say that about my wall of memes~” She giggled, then flopped back on her bed, grabbing the POMF =3 pillow and hugging it to her chest.
“Waaah, what are we going to do on the bed, cowboy-sama?” She kicked her legs.
Marshall folded his arms. “St-stop that.”
“Aww, you don’t think a cat is fine, too?” She brought her paw up to her mouth.
“Y-you can’t just satisfy your sexual desires with your cat.”
“Sweet meme bro! High five!” She crawled to the edge where Marshall was standing and held up her paw.
He just stared at her, keeping his arms crossed. “What?”
“Sweet meme my dude.” She wiggled her fingers expectantly.
“You have four fingers.” Marshall stood his ground until her ears lowered and she brought down her paw.
“Nyoro~n…” She stretched out on the bed, then rolled off of it to sit back down at her computer. “My name’s Mimi, by the way, what’s yours, cowboy?”
“Uh, name’s Marshall.” He divulged reluctantly.
“Well then, Marshall, consider yourself officially my best friend.” She beamed, her tail swaying behind her.
‘Please no.’ Marshall could feel tears welling up in his eyes. Is this how he dies? Trapped forever in this room? If starvation doesn’t kill him, the cancer from being exposed to all these memes will.
“What’s this? Someone is trying to argue that non-ironic memes are better than ironic memes!? I for one will not stand for such blatant heresy. One moment, Marshall. I’ll be with you in a minute.”
All Marshall could do was sit and watch her type furiously at her keyboard. A minute passed, then two, then three, then five. She looked so engrossed in arguing that it became apparent she wasn’t paying attention to him. This could be Marshall’s ticket out, but wait! That’s a dresser in her closet probably has panties in it. Maybe he could just quickly grab a few? Hopefully she wouldn’t notice…
Acting quickly, Marshall slid open the top drawer, grabbed a handful of panties and slipped them into his front pocket before quietly opening the door and sneaking out. It looked like he was in the clear, and with a sigh of relief, he continued down the hallway.
There was a door at the end of the hall. Marshall looked to either direction before reaching out to grab it, only to see the handle already being turned by someone on the other side.
‘Shit.’ Marshall started to sweat.
Cheslav softly closed the door behind himself as Church creeped ahead into an obscenely long hallway that seemed to converge to a point. Church walked backward to whisper to Cheslav, who was still standing by the door.
“What are you waiting for, you dolt? We need to get out of this hall as soon as we can so we aren’t seen!”
“Eh… Church, I am not of thinking-”
“Come ON, boy, get mov- OW, FUCK!”
Church toppled forward onto his face as his head struck… the ceiling?
“Damn it all, what is this?” Church cursed, poking the roof with his cane.
“Am tryings to tell you, comrade, is not real hall.”
Church shot his colleague a withering look before crawling down the hall, dragging his legs behind him.
“We can still make it to the door. Now follow me, you damnable cossack.”
The two men crawled down the hall, eventually arriving at a door, barely big enough to crawl through in the already low hall.
“Alright, they’ve got to be guarding something very precious if they’re guarding it this well, so be ready.”
Church threw open the door, cane at the ready in case he needed to quickly strike…
“A wall. A brick wall. I came all the way down here for those BARMY FUCKING BINTS to give me a FUCKING WALL!? CUNTY WONDERLAND GOBSHITES AND THEIR BLOODY-”
Church had run out of breath about one hundred feet into the crawl back, which had felt conspicuously longer than it had been on the way there, and had stayed quiet since. When they reached the door, Cheslav piped up.
“Is alright now, comrade?”
“Ahem. Er, yes. That was… It’s not important, let’s press on, shall we?”
Cheslav opened the door and turned to Church, holding up the end of the roll of twine, now tied in a neat bow to another identical roll.
“Eh, Church? Strings are not of…”
Church didn’t respond, looking around the room.
“This… This was a hall, wasn’t it? The water closet was there, and there was a water fountain sticking sideways out of the wall. It was right here, wasn’t it?”
“Was same door, but I am not knowings. Strings were here before…”
“Damn it. Fuck. What are we going to do? We can’t… Okay. Okay. Calm down, Chap. Whatever you do, we need to stay calm. It can’t be far, I mean, the portal has to have a fixed location, doesn’t it? It has to be, I mean, we can’t just get trapped in Wonderland forever and starve, can we? Can you eat panties? We might have to survive off them a few months, but that’s assuming we can find a room. We’ll have to track down the water fountain, and… Chap, call me Livingstone from now on, we’re going to be in this together for the long haul. Don’t panic, alright? We don’t need anyone else. Just you and I. One-hundred years. Church and Chappy. A hundred times. Forever and forever. We’re going to run around, and… We’re the only friends we’ve got, Chap. Church and-”
Cheslav pointed to the ceiling, the familiar hall upside-down above them. Or were they on the roof?
“Comrade, is up there!”
“O-of course it is, you git! I was just… testing you! You pass this time. I mean, going insane just because you get lost forever in a disgusting, topsy-turvy place where nothing makes sense? Ha. Haha. We’re made of sterner stuff than that, aren’t we, Chap?”
“Purple cats also on roof, Church.”
“Move, I’ll handle this.”
Church clears his throat, yelling:
“Twinkle, twinkle, little twat! How I wonder what you’re at! Up above the world so high, like a harlot in the sky! Twinkle, twinkle, little twat, get down here, you shit-tier cat!”
A pair of cheshires who had been staring at them briefly disappeared, then reappeared in front of Church in a puff of pink smoke.
“Yeeeeees~?” They said simultaneously.
“We’re here to steal your panties, you retarded bint, so don’t just stand there like fools and squint.”
The cats stole a quick glance at each other and looked back to Church.
“Well, then, big boy, how’re you planning on getting them?”
“We’ll beat you silly and steal them quick, then I’ll make my escape with this bolshevik.”
“…Why are you talking like that?”
“I’m no git, as you’ll soon see, I’m the wittiest man in this dormitory.”
“Uh, you didn’t answer the question.”
“I’ll outwit you all the same, by beating you at your own game!”
The cheshires crossed their arms, mildly annoyed with him. At first, they would have been fine with just small talk, no rape. But now that this weird man was pulling some bullshit rhyming scheme with them, they just wanted to rape him out of spite.
“My wit is quick, my tongue is silver, I’ll show you who’s…” Church paused, furiously wracking his brain for a rhyme.
Oh, that’s right… nothing rhymes with silver in the English dictionary.
“You’ll show us what?” One of the cheshires asked, her face getting smugger.
“Yes, oh silver tongued bard, tell us what you’ll show us~”
Church didn’t respond, sweating bullets. If he broke his little rhyming scheme, surely it would mean he lost and would get promptly raped. He decided on the finest plan he had ever plotted. A foolproof plan that was sure to confuse the pair of cats. Grabbing Cheslav by the collar of his shirt, he started to dash towards the door at the other end of the hall.
After about two seconds of running, the cheshires appeared in front of them and tackled them both to the floor.
“We think it’s time you learned a lesson or two about how to talk to a lady.” One of them purred, trailing her claw down Church’s tweed jacket.
“Oh shit.” Church tried to break free, but it was no use. “This is bad, where’s Marshall when you need him?”
“Cowboy is probably dead, like us.” Cheslav answered.
“Wait, what?” The cheshire pinning him down scooted back a bit, tilting her head. “You’re not dead, you’re in Wonderland- and about to be ravaged by the best pussy you’ll ever get~”
“No, Cheslav is dead. Probably in hell, too.” He remarked, deadpan.
The cheshire rolled her eyes. “Oh come on, we won’t be that rough. You’ll end up liking it, I promise.”
“Cheslav will prove he is dead.”
The cheshire, legitimately curious at how serious this man seemed, crawled off of him. “Alright Ivan Ivanovich Ivanovsky. Let’s see what you got.”
The cheshire pinning down Church also got off of him, standing next to her fellow feline.
“Chap, what are you doing? You can’t hope to beat them like this!” Church whispered. Cheslav looked his comrade deep into the eyes, not saying a word.
“First off, if Cheslav is not really in hell, where is vodka Cheslav was promised?”
“What do you mean? Who’s promised vodka when they die?” The cheshire asked.
“Is Cheslav’s reward for ridding world of kebab menace.”
“Okay, okay. Let’s back up for a second.” The second cheshire gestured towards Cheslav. “You say you’re in hell, but first, prove that you’re dead. You could just be alive in a place that has no… vodka.”
“Oh! Is easy to prove.” Cheslav pointed down the hallway. “Cheslav is dead because hallway does not end. Life is not like hallway, because it ends. Therefore since death does not end neither does hallway. Cheslav is forever dead.”
The cheshires looked at each other. “How does that make any sense? It’s just being in Wonderland. You’re not dead, you’re just in an enchanted hallway.”
“No, no, you see comrade… hallway is like allegory for winter. Is cold, unforgiving and full of death. Just like Cheslav is.”
“So if you’re supposedly dead, does that mean we’re dead too?” The cheshire asks incredulously.
“You’re full of it.”
“But is true, entire room is not real! Is all dream. Cheslav keeps pinching self, but is not waking up. Therefore Cheslav is dead like you.”
The cheshires pinched themselves out of curiosity, and to their lack of surprise, they don’t wake up either.
“You know, if we’re all dead, how did we die anyway?” She asks, humoring him.
“Chandelier fell, tovarisch.” He points to the ceiling.
“What are you talking about, the chandelier is right-” The cheshire looked up, there was no chandelier where he was pointing.
“Wait, where did the chandelier go?”
“Fell on top of us, squishing like blin.” Cheslav slammed his fist on his outstretched hand.
The other cheshire looked at her friend, who was hunched over, staring wide eyed at the ground and sweating. “A-are we dead? I mean that chandelier was up there and now it’s gone so where did it go?”
“Calm down, y-you can’t seriously be considering that this guy is…”
“W-what if he is, though? We could all be dead and this is a dream! I-I can’t explain the chandelier at all so m-maybe he’s right?”
“I don’t wanna be dead.” She whined, holding her friend close to herself.
They both held one another, crying softly. Cheslav stood up and cracked his neck, stretching himself.
“Cheslav is going to find way out. Have fun being dead.” He grabbed Church, who could only stare, jaw agape, as Cheslav had successfully mindfucked a pair of cheshire cats into believing they were dead. They exited the hallway and started to just wander through random doors.
“Chap… that was incredible! How on Earth… where did you learn to do that!?” Church patted his colleague on the back, he deserved it after pulling bullshit like that.
“Cheslav just talked to them, tovarisch. They believed Cheslav. There was no chandelier.”
“Well you’ve outdone yourself, I commend you. Now let’s get the hell out of here, I don’t care if we didn’t make off with any panties, this heist was a bust ever since we lost the string.” Church opened another door and went through it, and found a huge foyer with a large set of double doors.
“You think that’s the way out, Chap?”
“Nyet, is that door.” Cheslav pointed to a door that was just four feet away from it.
“But doesn’t that bigger door look like the doors we saw when we first entered this godforsaken realm?”
“Nyet, Cheslav says is that door.”
“Okay, we’ll both open our respective doors and see who’s right. I pray at least one of us is.” Church groaned.
They approached each door, and on the count of three, opened them at the same time.
“Ah-ha! Found the exit!” Church beamed, barely able to contain his joy at being both right and finding a way out.
“Found comrade Marshall.”
“Wait really? Tell him to get the hell over here, we’re getting out of this place.”
“I can hear you, Church.” Marshall was relieved, the hand that opened the door was a friendly one, he wasn’t sure he was ready to deal with another cheshire cat. With the men reunited, they walked out of the dormitory with their arms locked.
“Where the hell were you, Marshall? We could have used your help back there.”
“I was dealing with somethin’ else partner. Plus how could I have possibly known where to find you!?”
“Oh, fine. What were you dealing with?”
A chill ran down Marshall’s spine. “I… don’t wanna talk about it.”
“Suit yourself, you oaf. Did you at least get any panties?” Church asked.
Marshall smirked, pulling out the wad of underwear he had in his pocket.
“You idiot, you’re going to get them all wrinkly.” Church scolded. “…No matter, I suppose I can make Prudence iron them later if they’re really that bad. Jolly good work, gentlemen. Let’s return to our base.”
Once they had left the portal, the trio of panty raiders returned to base. Prudence wasn’t there, having gotten permission from Church to sleep in her dorm on account of a test the next day. With all three of them exhausted, they picked a random pair that Marshall had recovered, shoved it in a frame, and hung it on the Wall of Triumph. They didn’t even say anything to each other, going straight to their separate dorm rooms and crashing. It was terribly late after all.