PETER PAN’S LAST ADVENTURE
Copyright © 2014 Stacy Sorrells
As you may recall, Alice’s Adventure in Wonderland ends with Alice waking up from a dream and running home for tea. At the end of Peter Pan, the lost boys have returned to the mainland and are adopted by the Darlings, while Peter decides to stay a boy forever. He sporadically returns to the mainland to take Wendy’s descendants to The Neverland so that they can “mother” him. Sometimes when he returns to the mainland, he forgets which window to enter. This is the story of Peter Pan’s last trip to The Neverland, and it begins the evening Alice returns home from Wonderland.
* * *
Many hours had passed since Alice had been tucked into bed, yet she struggled to stay asleep. Whenever she closed her eyes, she found herself falling back into the rabbit hole. When she reached the bottom of the hole she saw quite a scene. The Queen was there ordering the Mad Hatter to, “Cut off her head!” Then the Cheshire cat would appear chanting, “We’re all mad here,” After that, the white rabbit would jump into the cat’s mouth, the Duchess would scream, “PIG,” in Alice’s ear and Alice would wake up gasping for air.
Alice thought some warm milk would help her fall asleep. She slid out of her bed, pulled on her robe and tiptoed across her room to her governesses’ bedroom door. When she opened the door, the room was empty. Alice quickly walked back across her room, climbed upon her window seat and pushed the window open. She looked down into the garden. She had caught them again! Her governess was running into the arms of their French chauffeur. They embraced briefly and then disappeared into the shadows. “Oh how romantic. I can’t wait to grow up,” Alice sighed. She rested her head against the window pane and looked up into the night sky. She imagined spinning around a great ballroom in a gown that sparkled like the stars above her. Alice gazed at the stars for a while until they appeared to be moving closer towards her. She thought she was growing tall again like she did in Wonderland and she became frightened.
She jumped off the seat, ran to her mirror and started giggling at herself. She was her normal size. She scolded herself for imagining the worst, “Oh don’t be so silly Alice.”
“Oh don’t be silly Alice,” a boy’s voice mocked her from behind.
Alice turned around to see a boy dressed like a pirate standing in the center of her room,
“Who are you?” she demanded, “and however did you get in my room?”
“I’m Peter. Captain Peter Pan and I flew in,” Peter said matter-of-factly. He looked around the room. It was much larger and much more fanciful then he remembered.
Alice stomped her foot to gain Peter’s attention, “That is nonsense! People do not fly!” She declared.
Peter smiled at her and said, “Is that so?”
This made Alice very angry. She had been teased enough for one day.
“Yes it is so! I demand you leave at once you silly boy!”
“Is that so?”
“Tell me where Wendy is and I will go.”
“I know no Wendy,” Alice glared at him, “now leave you, you, you ruffian!”
“Will you give me a kiss first?” Peter strutted towards her with his chest puffed out like a captain taking charge of his crew. Alice was horrified.
“Give you a kiss? I most certainly will not!” Though she remained her normal size, she felt as big as she did amongst the trees in Wonderland, “I order you to get out at once!” Alice roared loud enough to frighten the Queen of hearts, but not loud enough to frighten Peter.
“You order me?” Peter asked slyly.
“Yes. That is what I said and that is exactly what I meant!”
Peter was awestruck. In his mind he had done nothing to offend Alice or make her so angry. Her temper was unlike anything he’d ever experienced. His only clear offense had been entering the wrong window. Alice’s cheeks flushed with anger and her eyes flashed with hatred and she -though not much bigger than him- roared like a fearsome pirate. He knew that his usual charms would not work on Alice as they had on Wendy, the fairies, the mermaids, and even Tiger Lily.
“GET OUT!” Alice yelled again.
Peter took a few steps towards the window. Just as he was leaving, he remembered why he had come to the mainland. Wendy’s home on The Neverland was very dirty. If he could not take Wendy with him to tidy the house, Alice would have to accompany him instead.
He reached into his pocket and scraped up the last bit of fairy dust from the lining.
Alice’s anger grew the longer Peter occupied her room, “I have had enough of mad people for one day little captain Peter.”
“I’m not mad. You were the one talking to herself,” Peter stalled.
“And you claim to be a flying captain but you are nothing more than an ordinary little boy! So who is mad now?” Peter didn’t answer. His mind was racing as to how he would convince such a girl to come with him to The Neverland.
“I command you to leave at once!” Alice stood with her arms folded firmly across her chest, but Captain Peter was not easily intimidated. Once Peter set his mind on something, it was difficult for him to think otherwise. He decided he would have to take Alice by surprise.
“Go now!” Alice shouted.
“Not without you!” Peter tossed the last bit of fairy dust on Alice, grabbed her by the waist and pulled her out the window where they hovered above the garden.
“Let me go you,” Alice demanded.
“Let you go you say?”
Peter released her. Alice screamed as she fell towards the garden at a pace much faster than that of the rabbit hole. Her arms were outstretched towards Peter and just before she hit the ground he had her again. Peter laughed, “You must remember to think lovely wonderful thoughts Alice.”
Peter took off into the night sky, towards the stars that led to The Neverland with Alice firmly in his arms. It was impossible for Alice to think lovely wonderful thoughts, so she hung on tightly to Peter and shouted at him constantly, “Take me home at once!” Fortunately the wind that whistled past Peter’s ears made it easy for him to pretend he couldn’t hear her.
After some time, Alice’s demand to return home was replaced with a demand to know where Peter was taking her. This he also ignored. They continued on in this manner for a while and eventually Alice tired herself out. She felt heavy in Peter’s arms. When he looked down at her, he saw that she was sleeping soundly. Luckily, by this time they were only two miles away from their destination.
As The Neverland grew closer, Peter became confused for a second time that evening. It was not uncommon for the The Neverland to change a bit each time Peter returned from the mainland. But when he approached it with Alice, The Neverland was nearly unrecognizable. Peter was surprised when he saw an odd collection of talking animals running in a circle near the shore. He was even more shocked when he realized he could understand them. Throughout the once nearly vacant island, there were tiny homes scattered about and pathways leading to each of them. Far away in the distance there was a new castle with a garden full of red roses.
Peter searched The Neverland for Wendy’s home but had a terrible time finding it amongst the new additions. He gave up and ventured towards the mermaid lagoon. When he arrived there, he became frightened because the water had turned completely black. He flew high above the island and searched for Tiger Lily, but he was not a redskin and never learned how to track her. The most troubling thing for Peter was that there was not a single fairy waiting to greet him. Dread spread through him as he realized that without the fairies, he would never be able to fly again. He’d never return to the mainland to find Wendy. He looked down at Alice, still asleep in his arms. Without the faeries, she would be stuck in The Neverland with him forever.
“Alice, please wake up!” Peter gently shook her midair. As soon as her eyes opened she clung to Peter again, “We are here Alice, and this is The Neverland.”
Alice stretched her neck around in order to better see the island below, “The Neverland? You are mistaken little captain Peter this looks very much like Wonderland.”
“Wonderland? I don’t understand.”
“Look just over there Peter, at that ridicules group of animals running in circles to get dry. All they need to do is to move away from the water. I ran that race earlier today and my prize was this,” She reached into the pocket of her robe and pulled out a thimble.
“A kiss?” Peter questioned.
“Oh Peter, have you already begun to go mad? This is a thimble.”
“It is a kiss. Wendy gave me one just like it.”
“Wendy sounds like a ridiculous sort of girl especially if she can’t tell the difference between thimble and a kiss; such nonsense.”
“Then what is a kiss?” But before Alice could explain Peter spotted Wendy’s house and flew towards it.”
“Is this your home Peter?” Alice asked once they were on the ground.
“Is that a sole of a shoe for a knocker?” Alice asked. Peter pushed open the door. The house was very dirty. Alice searched the room for something to eat, specifically some cake. Finding no food at all, she turned her attention to Peter who appeared to be searching the great bed for something.
“Well captain Peter I can’t very well stay here. I need to find the caterpillar.”
“The what?” Peter gasped.
“The caterpillar of course. If I find him, I find the mushroom then I can grow big and find a way home.”
“Grow up? No one grows up in The Neverland. It’s against the rules.”
“What foolishness indeed! Not allowed to grow up? What and stay a child forever? Oh not me. I can’t wait to grow up!” Peter watched her as she sorted through a pile of dirty clothes in the corner of the house.
“What are you doing?” he asked.
“My nightclothes are hardly suitable for wandering around Wonderland also I don’t want to be recognized by anyone here. They are all mad. It’s best we talk to as few creatures as possible.”
“Oh ho. The great captain Peter looks like a scared little boy to me. Now turn around.”
Peter turned away from Alice while she changed into a mismatched outfit consisting of lost boys’ clothes. She tied her hair up in a shirt and then she charged past Peter towards the door.
“Where are you going?” Peter asked.
“I told you, I need to find the caterpillar. I’m going to avoid all other distractions including that pesky white rabbit. You can come along if you want.”
“He’s of no concern to me. What we should fear most is the Queen of hearts. She’ll want nothing more than to cut off our heads.”
“Why?” Peter asked as he followed Alice out of the house.
“Not sure. The Duchess might be able to tell you but talking to her is a terrible waste of time,” Alice said as she marched into the woods.
* * *
“I wonder what happened to the mermaids, the fairies and the Indians.” Peter thought after they had walked through the woods for some time. At this Alice stopped in her tracks. She turned to face Peter and put her hands on her hips.
“Honestly Peter, mermaids, fairies and Indians?” She shook her head at him and then returned to the path. But their path was blocked. Right in front of them, a cat appeared out of thin air.
“I know the fate of the mermaids, the fairies, Princess Tiger Lily and the redskins,” it said. Peter’s mouth was agape. He’d never seen a talking cat before.
“Get lost you,” Alice shouted at the Cheshire cat.
“No wait! You will tell me what happened them,” Peter demanded trying to sound brave. Alice rolled her eyes at him and sat down on a nearby tree-stump.
The cat grinned at Peter, “Shortly before you arrived, the Queen had all the Indians heads cut off, the princess was the last of them to lose her head.”
Peter clasped his hands around his own neck in horror. Alice was visibly bored, sighing and drumming her fingertips loudly on the edge of the stump.
“Told you,” she said to Peter.
The Cheshire cat continued, “Then she made quick business of cutting off the heads of the mermaids. It was rather an easy task as they could not very well run away. She dined on their tails for dinner. It was their blood that blackened the lagoon. Then the Queen captured all the fairies trapped them in the Jolly Roger and the weight of their wet wings sunk it.”
“How do we stop this villain?” Peter shouted.
“Have you gone mad?” Alice asked him, “She’s the Queen, and she’s the maddest of them all. You can hardly reason with a mad person Peter, if you try you will surely lose your head. Honestly I need to get out of here at once.”
Alice stood up and returned to the path. Peter looked around for the cat, but he had disappeared.
“Where did it go?” he asked Alice.
“He vanished of course. Cheshire cats are very unreliable creatures.”
* * *
After walking for some time, Peter asked, “What is that smell?”
The determined Alice continued walking while she answered him, “Pepper.” They walked past a fence and when Peter heard voices he looked over it and saw the Hatter, the March hare and a mouse having tea, “Alice, Alice,” he called to her but she kept walking completely unperturbed. He left the fence and tried to catch up with Alice. When he did he exclaimed, “I saw talking animals and they were having tea!”
“Yes of course you did Peter, but we were not invited and so showing up would be considered very rude. Besides, does it really matter how a raven is like a writing desk? Or how you say, “I breathe when I sleep” or “I sleep when I breathe” or, “I see what I eat” or, “I eat what I see”? Speaking of which keep an eye out for smoke, the caterpillar smokes a hookah.”
“A smoking caterpillar?” Peter began to wonder if he was indeed going mad. His only comfort was the determination and quick walking pace of Alice. She often made no sense to him, but she did seem to know exactly where she was going, “Alice you are not going mad are you?”
Alice stopped walking, turned around and jabbed her finger into his chest, “YOU are the one who brought us here and therefore it is YOU who is mad!”
Peter had never been more scared in his life. He considered returning to Wendy’s house but the forest of The Neverland had changed so drastically that he could not bear to walk it alone. He looked around at the woods, he felt like he was being watched. It was then that he spotted a faint bit of smoke rising from between a few blades of grass. It was nearly impossible to see, in fact he only noticed it because of the break in the breeze. When he looked up to call Alice she was no longer there. Peter grew scared. “If she is right about that caterpillar, then perhaps he will have some answers,” Peter said quietly to himself.
Peter walked towards the smoke, got down on his hands and knees and pushed the blades of grass apart. There, sitting on top of a mushroom was a tiny caterpillar smoking a tiny hookah.
“I don’t believe it,” Peter whispered to himself. To his utter disbelief the caterpillar-upon seeing the giant Peter- stopped smoking. He broke off a piece of mushroom and offered it to Peter. It was barely a crumb in Peters fingernail but he licked and felt himself growing smaller and smaller. “Alice, Alice!” Peter screamed as he shrunk towards the ground.
“Who are you?” the caterpillar asked.
“I…I …I am Captain Peter. I mean that’s who I usually am,” he stuttered backing away from the bug that was now larger than he.
“Captain? Where is your crew, your ship? Explain yourself!” the caterpillar shouted.
“I don’t know how to explain exactly. I mean I went back for Wendy and found Alice. When we arrived a talking cat told us that the mermaids, the Indians and Tiger Lily have all lost their heads. The lost boys are gone and grown, the drowned fairies sank the Jolly Roger, I’ve lost Alice and now I’m all alone you see?”
“I don’t see!”
“…and now I’m talking to a bug.”
“Explain yourself! Who are you?”
“I can’t explain it any better than I already have. The Neverland is different and I just want it to go back to the way it was.”
“I don’t understand.”
“Can you at least return me to my normal size so I can find Alice?”
“Yes, the other side will make you grow taller,” The caterpillar motioned slightly.
Peter had no idea what the bug was referring to so he asked, “The other side of what?” he asked.
“Of the mushroom!” The caterpillar said and resumed smoking his hookah. Peter pulled a piece off the opposite side of the mushroom and took a bite. Instantly he felt himself grow to his normal size. He looked down at the bug who was still busy with his hookah.
“Peter!” Alice shouted. When Peter turned around, he saw a large bare foot in front of him. He looked up and saw that it belonged to Alice.
“Oh Peter. You found him!”
Peter had never seen Alice so happy. Alice reached down and pulled off a few pieces of mushroom from each side, being careful not to disturb the caterpillar.
She bent down and spoke to Peter, “When I couldn’t find you, I went back to that dreadful tea party you were so interested in. You were not there but I was able to get a piece of cake. When I ate it, I got this big! I returned to the path to look for you but ended up at a black lagoon. There was a rope leading into the water. Thinking it might have a boat at the other end of it I pulled and pulled. It was not a boat, it was a ship!”
“The Jolly Roger?”
“I guess so. Just when I thought I would have to sail home by myself, fairies shot out of the portholes. They were not drowned, they were just sleeping.”
Peter was so overjoyed with the news he wanted to run to the fairies but Alice continued on talking.
“The fairies thanked me by putting fairy dust all over the ship and offered to fly me back to London.”
“To the mainland?”
“Yes if that’s what you call it.”
Alice was in a hurry to leave Wonderland and return to her family, so she turned away from him and ran back to the lagoon. Anxious to see the fairies again Peter ran after her. Alice was so tall that her size put her far in front of Peter. Fortunately he was always able to see the very top of her head. Eventually they arrived at the Jolly Roger. Alice took a bite of the mushroom that was in her pocket and shrunk down to her normal size, “Peter, come with me,” she said.
“I don’t want to grow up.”
“Sure you do Peter.”
“No I don’t, it’s against the rules.”
“What are you afraid of?”
“School, suits, all of it.”
“Nonsense Peter, growing up is fun. I can’t wait to do it. It’s the best adventure ever.”
“I won’t go.”
Alice looked behind him and saw the Queen of hearts with her army of cards rapidly approaching, “Very well Peter stay here if you like,” she turned and boarded the Jolly Roger which was floating inches above the water. Fairies surrounded the ship ready to take Alice home to London.
“OFF WITH THEIR HEADS!” the Queen shouted. The entire suit of cards was upon Peter. Peter finally understood why no sane person bothered to confront the Queen. Not only was she mad, but she had an army of cards at her disposal.
“Peter hurry come with me to the mainland!”
“I don’t want to grow up!” he shouted back at her.
“It better than losing your head Peter!” Alice screamed, “Please Peter, if you come with me I will tell you what a real kiss is,” Alice shouted from the ship.
Peter did not care about a kiss, he was more worried about losing his head. That fear drove him to run as fast as he could across the dock and with the help of a few fairies he was lifted up into the Jolly Roger. Soon the two children were floating off towards the mainland leaving the mad Queen and her army of cards on the beach. Peter worried about where he would live once they got to the mainland, but he knew for sure that he never wanted to return to The Neverland.
Peter and Alice arrived in London early the next morning. Alice ran into the arms of her parents and sisters. When she explained to her parents who Peter was, they agreed to adopt him into the family. They had many daughters but always wanted a son. Peter never thought of Wendy or The Neverland again. He attended lessons with Alice and enjoyed reading stories about Captains and Kings from other lands.
Years rolled on and Peter was no longer so gay, so innocent or so heartless. When they were old enough Alice asked Peter to escort her to their very first ball. In his top hat and tails he felt like the prince in a fairytale he once heard. Alice’s gown sparkled like the evening stars and she felt like a princess. In the end it was Peter who gave Alice a real kiss, and they lived happily ever after.