Alice in Winterland

The Queen’s eyes flickered over the swirling, icy rivers and white-blanketed forests of Winterland…all encased in her crystal viewing glass. A kemonomimi leapt into sight. Its rabbit ears perked up, testing for any sound of danger before it broke out into the permafrost field at a flat-out run. The Snow Queen curled her lips. She raised a slender finger, ready to crush the creature’s efforts with a flick of her wrist.

All of a sudden, she jolted from her throne.

The Queen narrowed her eyes at a new face emerging inside the sphere. The sprites swarmed her like a tempest; the chignon of her beautiful hair came loose, the strands whipping in a relentless wind.

It couldn’t be…not her.

I jolted in my own seat, dropping the Chemistry textbook that concealed my Winterland graphic novel as someone flounced past my shoulder. My eyes wandered away from my laptop, where I had spent the last half hour of lunch working on my Winterland fanfiction, to Olivia –aka resident Ice Queen of Charles Dodgson High.

Flipping her ombre locks behind her, Olivia waltzed across the library and sidled up to Andrew Lewis. I rolled my eyes as she peered at Mr. Popular-Jock through her mascara coated lashes and dangled a glittery card.

“So, I’ll see you there?” she asked, her voice rising so I could hear every word.

Of course, Olivia’s infamous holiday ball. Every year, snow or no snow, December 23rd rolled around, and everyone who was anyone would receive their snazzy invitation to the party of the year. Not that I knew any of that first hand. I hadn’t been invited in the past, and I certainly didn’t expect an invite to this one. But what happened next was something I couldn’t have predicted, even with a crystal globe.

Andrew winced. He retracted his hand from Olivia and ran his fingers through his hair without it seeming like a desperate attempt to avoid her touch. “Wish I could, Olivia, but I have a, er, commitment that evening.”

Olivia narrowed her eyes. “What commitment could you possibly have on a Saturday night?”

“I already made plans with a few of my friends to go to this event.” He shifted in his seat and offered her an apologetic shrug. “I really am sorry, but I can’t cancel on them, Olivia.”

For a split second, I could’ve sworn Olivia’s ice-blue eyes turned glassy. But before I could tell for sure, one of the librarians shushed the pair and headed into the printing room. Olivia turned away from Andrew, her face hidden through her curtained hair as she silently tucked the invite into her purse.

Unable to eavesdrop anymore, I returned my attention to my laptop screen, picking up where I’d left off. I had more important things to do than fret over some only slightly amazing Christmas party. Like uploading my Winterland fanfiction by midnight tonight. I had a slew of readers subscribed to it, waiting for the finale to go live tonight. One would be unwise to disappoint the fangirls.

I pushed my glasses against my nose bridge and began to type away like a tempest when, without warning, the Winterland manga next to me disappeared from sight.

“Hey there, Hogwarts. What do we have here?”

Slowly, I turned my head up to see Olivia holding my manga captive. I mustered some bravado in my voice. “Forgot you don’t know how to read?”

“Very funny, Alice.” Olivia flipped through the graphic novel and curled her lip in distaste. “You have got to be kidding me. Aren’t you a little too old for Pokémon?”

My cheeks burned. “It’s…not Pokémon. It’s called Winterland.”

“Whatever, same thing.” Olivia crinkled her nose as she flipped through more pages. “Why do they all look bug-eyed?”

“Because it’s anime.” I tried to contain the indignation in my tone. “It’s a style of Japanese animation. The printed form is called manga, a type of graphi–”

“Spare me the explanation, Professor Wapanese.”

“Bismuth-technetium-hydrogen,” I whispered under my breath.

Olivia raised a brow. “What’s that?”

“Nothing,” I said innocently.

“Thought so.” Olivia tilted the graphic novel, displaying it to anyone who could see – which, of course, was everyone. A wave of giggling traversed the library. Olivia took in the image of a kemonomimi – a half-rabbit, half-human character. “Honestly, Alice, I don’t understand the appeal of this unless you’re a ten year old boy.” Her eyes drifted from the manga to my laptop screen. A shadow of a smile touched her lips. My stomach dropped. She wouldn’t.

“I see now…you’re writing some kind of story.”

I slunk down in my seat, my face aflame. What happened next unraveled in slow motion. Students gathered around as Olivia made a spectacle of my fanfiction –and butchered the Japanese names. Everyone laughed along to the flux of her cruel, satirical tone. Olivia mouth moved, but the words didn’t connect.

I wanted to melt. I scanned the crowds in desperation and glimpsed a familiar face holding a stack of books–Deanna Kitlyn, a punctual, gap-toothed bookworm who happened to be my best friend. She chewed her bottom lip as she helplessly watched my humiliation. And then, just when I thought things couldn’t get worse, I noticed Andrew staring at my laptop screen, his brows slanted into two hard lines. He caught my eye with an odd look. I veered away from his scrutiny and slunk further in my seat.

A glorious bell pierced the air. The librarian emerged from the printing room, and at once, the students began to disperse. Olivia joined the whispering crowd, but just before she left the library, she turned over her shoulder. Her mouth inched upwards, her cheekbones sharp as glass. She mouthed a single word to me, a word that made me choke back a gasp.


10 thoughts on “Alice in Winterland

    • Sakura says:

      Thanks for reading! The premise is basically an Alice in Wonderland retelling (centered around fandom culture) where Alice, ‘falls’ into the world of her graphic novel, Winterland. I tried to introduce all the important characters players early on because once Alice finds herself in Winterland, the characters she meets mirror those from her real life (ex: Olivia is the Snow Queen in Winterland, Deanna is the rabbit kemonomim, etc)

  1. vanessafowler says:

    I’m going to write comments as I read…

    Context: at the beginning I’m feeling disoriented. I think because you are describing the scenery in the viewing glass and then you switch to actual scenery right after that, or is it still in the glass?

    After the queen narrows her eyes: Everything is happening so fast. I like what you have, I just wish your pace was slower. What’s up with her hair loosening out of nowhere?

    jolted is used a lot.

    What just happened – laptop? chemistry? what’s going on?
    I like this whole next part of her watching what the other girl is doing, and the invitation – it makes me want to know what happens, who Andrew is and what Olivia is all about. Parts of it do feel super cliche, but it is enticing.

    using “one would be unwise” doesn’t fit with the rest of what you have. I like that she is has a goal of trying to finish her fan fiction by midnight – though it doesn’t feel realistic/serious.

    “Winterland manga next to me disappeared from sight” – I’m not sure what just happened.

    I like the feeling that Alice is trying to keep her things to herself and Olivia, with nor respect for personal boundaries, makes trouble for her. I would like to see what comes of all that.

    I like Deanna.
    I’m hoping things work out with Andrew – I’m guessing they will.
    I don’t get “weeaboo”

    Overall, I like the emotions at play and I think your characters are fun. The dialogue does frustrate me quite a bit though and I feel like you are moving super fast. I do think that eventually this would be a super fun story to read.

  2. Hailey says:

    The voice in this is really easy to read and sounds like a teen voice. However, if I picked this up as a novel in a library, I’d probably skim until the actual narration, and then start reading.
    A couple things that threw me off a touch: the MC’s commentary feels rather bitter in places and I’m not sure if that’s on purpose or not. Also, there’s a lot of fandom and geek jargon being used here. I can understand it (because Pinterest’s geek section) but it could be confusing or sound overused to a reader that isn’t geeky.
    If Olivia can’t tell the difference between Winterland and Pokemon, how does she know the word weeabo? I can’t even define it exactly.
    Maybe my school was just really lame, but I thought being a geek was more acceptable, so the harassment here seems very dramatic. Alice could just slam her laptop closed or leave or something. She seems pretty strong-willed, I’d expect her to react in some way.
    I do like the idea of the story. Good luck and I hope I helped.

  3. Blake says:

    The transition from the fanfic to real life is a bit disorienting, but nothing a bit of revising won’t fix! You did well making Alice likable quickly. I already find myself rooting for her. However, you might want to make her a bit more proactive – I just could not understand why she didn’t make any attempts to take back her manga or block/turn off the monitor that displayed her fanfic. Speaking of which, the goal of finishing her fanfic by midnight isn’t particularly interesting, but i assume a much larger conflict will replace it later on (perhaps when she enters Winterland). I would also suggest toning down the references – they are fairly distracting. Nice work! Hope I helped!

  4. Anonymous says:

    I loved the idea and want to know what happens next. It’s very creative and the reader gets almost immediately hooked. The main character is likable and the descriptions are very detailed. I would rewrite sentences like that: All of a sudden, she jolted from her throne. For such an important moment of the story, “all of a sudden” could be sostituted for a more dynamic expression.

  5. Anonymous says:

    I loved the idea and want to know what happens next. It’s very creative and the reader gets almost immediately hooked. The main character is likable and the descriptions are very detailed. I would rewrite sentences like that: All of a sudden, she jolted from her throne. For such an important moment of the story, “all of a sudden” could be sostituted for a more dynamic expression

  6. April M Cox says:

    The opening is a little confusing starting outside the POV character’s perspective. I like the overall idea, but the reader needs to be firmly in the reality of your story before delving into Winterland. I have no real firm grasp on who your character is, and that is essential. Your overall theme has been done before, so you need some unique aspects to really draw the reader in.

  7. April Marie Cox says:

    I like the idea of what you’re trying to do here, but it has been done before. That doesn’t necessarily mean that you shouldn’t do it, just that you need something unique to really jump out at the reader. Your main character also does not have enough of a presence early on–the focus is too much on Winterland. If you want to keep the Winterland beginning, maybe have her fan fiction story be written first person, so that some of her personality can come through in that part as well. Alice also seems to be reacting to everything, but there’s very little about who she is or what she thinks so far in the story. Really focus on fleshing her out and making her more three dimensional.

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