The sky cloudy, the lightning flashing from time to time, the wind roaring in the garden, the willow in horrible faces, heavy rain came. Tom woke up to the midsummer night’s sound, while other little boys were still in their sleep. He sat up on one elbow with his teddy bear on his chest, which has accompanied him as the age he was. Rubbing his eyes and face, he tried to see clearer in the middle of dark. Suddenly, the window shook heavily, the wind and rain pattered on the pane. Tom looked at the window and the sparks shone in the night. He crept close to the window, and tiptoed to open it. He held his breath. The window snapped open and the wind blowing hard, the curtain flying like flowers in blossom and his hair weeds. Tom held his Teddy bear tightly, trying to close the window but in vain. After a while, the wind turned gentle, little Tom could open his eyes and he found there was something shinning in the bushes. He rubbed his eyes, tried to see more clearly.
“I have to see it.” Tom said to himself. He put on his old red raincoat, tried his best not to wake others up.
The rain advanced on him steadily and rapidly, gathering in behind and before; and the light seemed to be draining away. Tom stumbled and almost fell. But he was determined to find out what the shinning thing was.
Bright light leaked through the little gaps, shining in the dark rainy day and Tom found that there was a trapdoor on the ground. Little Tom crawled down, knocked it, and pushed it. The door moved a little and more light poured out. “It’s too heavy.” Tom thought to himself. So he put the Teddy bear down, and pushed the trapdoor with all his weight on. “Aaaaaaa,” Tom fell in the door, suddenly.
Tom fell, tumbling through the darkness like a ball. After a while, he found himself at a bid hall. He was terrified in the dim cellar without his teddy bear which he left behind the trapdoor, but there was something in his mind constantly telling him to go ahead. He walked around this hall, and found that there was a long flight of stairs at the corner.
Tom stumbled in the darkness along the narrow stairs until he bumped against a solid wall. Tom stretched out his hand to touch the wall, and realized that it was a door when he felt a round handle. He held it and the freezing feeling struck through from his hand to his arm and to his heart. He took a deep breath and pushed the door.
The door swung open. He saw a vague figure sitting beside a table in the candle light. It’s a girl with long hair. The scene became clear as his eyes adapted to the dim light. The light behind her cast her face steep. And she said,
“Hey, new face! There has been a long time without any stranger in. I am Nora. Who are you?”Surprisingly. It was a soft-voice. It seemed that the light turned brighter. Tom could see her eyes. They are like emerald. “Don’t be afraid. There is no monster to eat you. Who are you?”
“Tom, Tom Will. ”
“So many Toms in this world,” she turned back and said in an indifferent tone, “Tom Armstrong, Tom Baker, Tom Brown, Tom Clinton, Tom Rachel, and Tom Vernon.”
Tom shivered when he heard their names. “Yes, they are...there...there are...seven TOMS in my orphanage. But... how do you know their names?” he answered with his voice receding.
“Orphanage. Yes, you are an orphan.” The girl didn’t answer him.
“I don’t know.” Tom shook his head.
“It doesn’t matter. Nobody cares about it here.”
And then a silence, dead silence. Tom could hear his breath and the candlelight dancing in the air.
“Excuse me?” Tom raised his hand up.
“Here...Where I am?”
Tom stared at the girl. She jumped off the chair; he found that she was not too much taller than him.
“Do you want to eat something, little boy?”
A few seconds later. “No, thanks.” Tom remembered that children should not eat anything given by strangers, the nun has said that.
“Don’t be afraid. I’ve said that there is no monster to eat you and no witch to curse you. And I am not a stranger. I will be your friend. You didn’t eat anything today, did you?”
Tom was surprised. For he was punished for that he wet the bed this morning. The nun was angry and forbade him to eat anything and left him in confinement for the whole day. “How could she know this?” Tom thought. It seemed like she knew all.
The girl didn’t care Tom’s response, walked away straight, then she took a tray back.
On the tray: a roast chicken, a loaf of bread, a bottle of milk and a box of comfits. The smell of chicken hooked Tom. He gazed at the tray until it was put on the table. He turned his back to the girl, and heard, “Help yourself.” He threw himself to the tray and put the drumstick into his mouth.
“More delicious than those in the orphanage, right?”
“Wu...”his mouth was filled with a drumstick, “Yes.”
Tom’s courage arose with his stomach full. And he summoned the courage to ask the questions lingering in his mind since he came into the trapdoor.
“Nora, where am I?”
“Wonderland.” But Tom didn’t understand, so he turned to the next.
“How could you know their names, those Toms?”
“Of course I know them. I know them. How could I not know?” Nora raised a queer laughter. Tom was scared, so decided to turn to the last one.
“Who are you?” he didn’t realize that his voice was trembling again.
“Who am I? A good question.” The girl turned to the corner with a candle in hand, and Tom found that there was a heavily framed door with a brass handle. Her hand touched the handle, held it, grasped it, and pushed it. He stared at her hand. Suddenly, the light of water poured out.
“Come here, boy. And you will know what you want to know.”
TO BE CONTINUED