You had just finished moving into your new place. Rita had not had any problems with you moving out – She usually gives you that look. Well, she tries to. Her eyes go everywhere, and it’s not like she can actually control them, poor thing -, she already had lots of work with the Egyptians who had moved in the previous weekend, and a spare room was much needed for other guests.
You didn’t have many possessions, so moving in was a quick thing. Two suitcases and your backpack, that was all. You arrived at the place Mama Luca had arranged for you. The restaurant was packed, as it was any time of any day of the week – you wondered if they put cocaine on the food to have everyone in town so addicted to the food.
“We don’t” Mama Luca cleared, reading your mind. “It’s just the food. It’s the true Italian experience. People who live their life in a hurry cannot resist it. Northern Europeans and Americans fall for it very easily. And we take that opportunity and cash in” she grinned an evil grin, showing you a wad of cash. “Here, this is for your personal expenses”.
“Thank you” you gulped, wondering why the leader of the mafia was so generous with you.
Mama pointed at the entrance of the restaurant. “Oh, look at that. Spanish people. Apart from the Italian and the Greek, they are the only ones who are immune to this kind of trap”.
You saw a couple go past the restaurant, undisturbed. Then you saw a group of people frantically join the queue to eat at the restaurant. “Why are Southern Europeans immune?”
“We are too chill” Mama laughed. “But anyway, I’ll show you to your place and then we can get something together. Have you had lunch, Anna?”
“Good! Let’s go”.
She took you to the flat. It was spacious, decorated with good taste, in a Mediterranean style that gave away who had asked for everything. The kitchen was well equipped, and it had already been packed with ingredients: different kinds of meat, fish, vegetables, fruit and numerous spices filled the fridge and every cupboard.
“You even did the shopping…” you mumbled as you took the garlic out of its cupboard.
“Well, I got everything that I think is basic in any proper kitchen. That garlic is from Spain. You also have some of the finest olive oil you can get. Now, now, it’s already quite late for lunch even for Italian people! Come to the terrace, we will eat there”.
You both went out to a table that had already been arranged under a parasol in the terrace. The lunch for that day included fish accompanied by a rosé wine. It was delicious. “Mama, I cannot thank you for all of this…”
“You don’t need to. I’ve told you already. You are working for me now, and your job is to continue your search. This is the payment for your work, and I don’t want to hear anymore of this. You will take everything I give you, OK?”
When you were done eating, you saw a flying object crossing the town at a quick speed. It was heading towards your location. “What… is that?” you asked.
“Oh, that’s Erin”.
“Yes, it’s her, flying on a broomstick. Standard librarian transport method”.
Erin stopped over the terrace and jumped off the broomstick. “Anne, Mama” she greeted.
“Hello!” Mama greeted. “Welcome to Anna’s new place. What brings you hero?”
“Have you seen the message from the Registry of Lost and Found?”
“The automatic update?” Mama asked. “Yes. Looks bad”.
“That’s why I’m here”.
Mama shook her head. “Nobody wanted to go with you”. It was not a question.
“No. But I wondered if…”
“No, I cannot go in there. If I go inside, it will get even worse” Mama was firm.
“But couldn’t you do something about it?”
“I can help from outside. If I stabilize it from outside then you will be able to move inside as small mice. But no magic”.
Erin looked defeated. “With no magic my chances of success are quite low if I do it alone…”
“I can help” you said. “I cannot do any magic, and I’m somehow managing to survive in this town. Let me help you. I owe you guys a lot”.
“I wouldn’t want you to risk your life…”
“Give her a chance, Erin. I think Anne can help us in this one” Mama said, winking at you.
“I’m your only option” you added.
Erin seemed conflicted, but finally gave in. “OK, let’s do it. But it has to be as soon as possible”.
Mama grinned. “We’re already there”.
She snapped her fingers and you all appeared in front of the Registry of Lost and Found, in Sand street. The entrance had been blocked, and nobody seemed to approach the building. Mama was still sitting in an armchair, in the middle of the road.
“Will you be OK in the middle of the road, Mama?” you asked.
“Yes, nobody will come to Sand street. Not if I’m here. Now go inside. I’m ready”.
Erin and you headed for the door. Before pushing the door, Erin turned around and asked one final question. “We know time warps in there. What if…?”
“Bitch, please” Mama interrupted. “I’m powerful enough for this challenge. Don’t tell me how to do my job” she uttered, proudly.
Erin pushed the door and you both went inside. Reality had been warped inside by some obscure power, which everyone believed to have been the Eldritch abomination. The walls were slimy and meat-ish, a bit like the intestine of a pig, and the room stank of acid and someone’s number 2 in a corner.
“This sure has been warped into something otherworldly…” you commented.
“Oh, no, this was exactly like this before the whole incident. This is normal” Erin answered. You wished she hadn’t.
You walked through the only other door in the room, which led to a corridor. It was a perfectly open corridor, brightly illuminated and with doors that had signs to indicate what was behind them. Erin looked horrified.
“This… this is completely wrong” she said.
You looked at one of the doors. “A”, the sign in it said. You pushed it.
“Don’t touch that!” Erin shouted.
But your body’s weight had already been placed on the door, which gave in. Before you could notice, you were falling down a warped space. You could hear Erin in the distance, shouting “Don’t touch that!” once and again, in a never-ending chorus. You eventually landed over a bed of hay.
You looked around, and saw that the bed of hay was the only illuminated area in that place that you had ended in. The rest was all in the dark. A voice came from the darkness.
“Hello, Alice. Welcome to Wonderland”.
For some reason, you were not scared. But you were annoyed. Annoyed and very angry.
“First of all, my name is not Alice, it’s Anne. So you better not fucking call me that. And secondly…” you rose your right hand, which contained a machete in it. It didn’t seem weird to you. “Stop hiding your face and show yourself, or I’ll slash you to your grave”.
Dom Wess appeared in front of you, wearing nothing except for some loincloth. The loincloth only covered his bald head. “Please, I beg for mercy! This place has… altered me. You are the first person I see in weeks”.
“There must be a route out of this place. Take me to it. Now” you demanded, swinging the machete.
“OK, I will. But it’s full of danger. I’m very scared…”
“Shut up and walk”.
He turned. You noticed something that had looked like a smile for a split second, and decided to stab the motherfucker first chance you had. You followed him as he walked like a chimpanzee. This was going to be one hell of a trip. You weren’t even bothered by your sudden personality change. You would sort that later.