In the book, the King of Hearts replies and says, ‘I only wish I had such eyes. To be able to see Nobody! And at the distance too!’
The whole idea of that part is that Lewis Carroll had listed Nobody as a character in the end of the book. Talk about Carrollian madness.
“One of the most underestimated characters of Wonderland.” The Pillar points toward a hazy figure arriving on a bicycle in the horizon.
“That’s Mr. Nobody, I assume,” I say. “The man who we’re supposed to meet.”
“Here is the catch,” the Pillar explains, flashing a wide fake smile at Mr. Nobody. “Those few men who pass valuable information through the desert are all called Nobodies in the drug industry. Why? Because you’re not supposed to know their names or see them again. Get it?”
“So you drug people used Lewis Carroll’s book references in your sick business.”
“On the contrary,” the Pillar says. “Nobody and the Executioner lived in Wonderland once.”
Before I can comprehend this, Nobody arrives.
He is a bald man, sweaty, too heavy for the meek bicycle he’s riding. He grips a large handkerchief, the size of a beach towel, and uses it to mop sweat off his forehead.
Who drives a bicycle in the desert?
“Nobody looks exhausted,” I comment.
“That’s a double entendre, dear Alice.” The Pillar amuses himself. “Do you mean Nobody looks exhausted, or nobody looks exhausted?”
“What’s your business here?” Nobody demands in a suspicious tonality.
“The Executioner sent us,” the Pillar begins. I assume the word hasn’t spread yet about the Executioner’s death. “We want to ask you about a certain man you met here two years ago. The one who asked you to cook that hookah plague.”
“Ah.” Nobody grins. “I remember him. I’ve also seen the plague’s effect in the news. So what’s in it for me? Why should I tell you about him?”
“What do you want?” I say. “Money?”
“I have enough of that,” Nobody says. “Offer me something I can’t resist, or I will tell you nothing.”
The Pillar and I exchange brief glances.
“What can a somebody offer a Nobody?” The Pillar rubs his chin.
“If I were you, I’d make it fast,” Nobody says. “In case you haven’t heard, the plague has wreaked havoc all over the world. At this moment, people are killing each other in the streets. Whole towns are at war with their neighboring towns.”
“What?” I haven’t had the chance to check the news since I landed in Mushroomland.
“The world is ending much sooner than you think.”
Buckingham Palace, London
The Queen of Hearts stared down from her balcony at the hordes of citizens wanting to break into the palace and kill her.
If it hadn’t been for her guards, she’d have been killed and eaten by those lunatics by now. Those awful human beings. Not only had they humiliated her and every Wonderlander in the Circus, but now they wanted to kill her.
“Margaret!” the Queen yelled. “You ugly Duchess!”
“What happened with sending someone to find out if the Pillar found a cure?”
“I contacted the Cheshire, who said he’d send someone after him,” Margaret said. “But I haven’t heard from him since then. Besides, the citizens ransacked many phone towers. It’s hard to connect with anyone now.”
“So you failed, as always.” The Queen stepped up that tall chair so she could shout at Margaret in the face. “I should have your head chopped off,” she said. “Who thought Lewis Carroll would just pop up and lash this madness onto us. He’s about to destroy the world before I can have my fun torturing everyone.”
“I have an idea, My Queen,” Margaret said.
“What now? All your ideas are as ugly as you.”
“I saw a video of Lewis Carroll looking for the drug for his migraines, which isn’t sold in this world, as you know.”
“Of course I know it. We used to call it Lullaby. The one pill exclusively made to handle Carroll’s hallucinations.”
“He’s been walking around like a madman, killing pharmacists to stop the headaches. Why not fool him into thinking we have it and bring him here?”
“Here?” The Queen’s eyes widened. “You know how much I’m afraid of him.”
“He scares us all, but every monster has his weakness. Besides, you can always bring down a man with the power of your endless guards,” Margaret said. “They could torture him until he tells us about the cure. Bear in mind that the migraine is killing him. We could give him something that’ll worsen it. He will then be weak enough to spill the truth.”
“The truth.” The Queen waved her hands, the chair underneath her rattling a little. “Everyone wants to know the truth these days. Look, this is your last chance to make things right. Find him and bring him to me – on his knees, if you can.”
“Of course, My Queen. I’d say an hour or two, and you will have him in here.” Margaret said, having no idea how she could catch a monster like the Lewis Carroll man.
Nazca Desert, Peru
“How about we make you a somebody.” The Pillar grins back at Nobody.
“You can’t keep living your life being a nobody.”
Nobody doesn’t find it funny.
But seriously, we have nothing to offer this man in this forsaken desert.
“Then I’m sorry.” Nobody turns around, about to drive away. “I can’t help you.”
“Wait,” the Pillar says. “I have something for you.”
What could the Pillar possibly have?
And in a most devastating moment, the Pillar pulls out a golden key and shows it to Nobody.
It’s the key the Hatter took from me.
“Is that what I think it is?” Nobody stares at it with hungry eyes.
I stare at the Pillar as well, only I’m both furious and feeling betrayed.
Did he really fool me last time, playing me all along to get the key?
“It is,” the Pillar tells Nobody. “One of the Six Impossible Keys.”
“Thank you.” Nobody snatches the key from the Pillar’s hands while I’m still cemented in place with disappointment. “Now, tell me what you want exactly?”
“What’s the cure to the plague?” That’s me asking. That’s me talking. It helps me put the Pillar’s betrayal behind my back for now.
“There is no cure,” Nobody says, tucking the key in his pocket.
Furiously, I pull him by his sleeves and roar in his face. “I swear if you don’t tell, I will make a somebody out of you, a somebody you will not like at all.”
“But what I’m saying is true.” He is choking in my hands. I can’t help but notice my violent episodes are increasing. And I’m not sure if I like this side of me. “The man who cooked it said so. A plague that can’t be cured.”
“Who is the man who cooked it?” I tighten my grip.
“They call him the Scientist.”
“No name? Just the Scientist?”
“Yes, I swear to God.”
“Where can I find this Scientist?”
Nobody is reluctant to say for a moment. He glances toward the Pillar, who’s smoking his cigar, fully amused by my anger.
“Tell me!” I shout at Nobody.
His face reddens more, bubbling now, staring pleadingly at the Pillar.
“He’s unable to talk, Alice,” the Pillar remarks. “You think you’re hurting him, but you’re actually killing him.”
My hands snap away from Nobody. I stare at them as if they aren’t mine. What’s happening to me?
“The Scientist lives in Brazil,” Nobody says, breathing heavily. “He is attending a festival at the moment.”
“Having a party while the world is ending,” the Pillar says. “Neat.”
“I’d go find him now if I was you,” the panting Nobody says.
“Suddenly caring about the world?” The Pillar raises an eyebrow.
“You don’t understand,” Nobody says. “It’s not just any festival. It’s the famous Brazilian Hookah festival!”
Nazca Desert, Peru
The moment Nobody tells us where to go next, the Pillar’s chopper shows up in the air, ready to pick us up.