“What?” The question left Maddie’s mouth out of habit as she looked around the endless amber wheat field. She heard her friend say something confusing and responded the only way she could. “Alice?” Maddie asked the deep purple sky. Her question was answered with a giggle that came from behind her. Maddie spun around to see her friend that had been missing for a week. “What the hell’s going on?” she asked with equal parts annoyance, confusion, and joy.
“Choose your skills and begin the game!” Alice repeated the phrase that echoed around Maddie moments before. Maddie shook her head.
“Where have you been?” She asked. Maddie glanced around the open field again. “Where am I?”
“I went down the Rabbit Hole,” Alice grinned. “And, I found the AlterNet, that’s this place.” She reached down to caress a stalk of wheat. Maddie nodded.
“Uhuh,” Maddie said. She wasn’t particularly surprised by Alice’s answer. It didn’t tell Maddie where she was, but Maddie trusted Alice, and Alice seemed comfortable. “So, what skills, what game?” she asked.
“The AlterNet is an Earth-sized mmo; and, alternate Earths are just different servers. So, you just have to make a character, then I can show you around. I have a ton to show you.”
“Like… alternate Earths?” Maddie asked. Alice nodded. “But, how do we live? Will I be able to find a job on another Earth?” Alice shrugged.
“Probably,” she said. “But, you won’t need to. It’s just easier to work for a company that has branches on different Earths. I work for Sharp Development now, and I want you to come work for me.”
“Doing what?” Maddie asked. Alice grinned.
“The exact thing you go to that conference every year for,” she said. “You want to create and I’m giving you that chance on a huge scale.”
“You want me to make hats for you?” Maddie narrowed her eyes and tilted her head at Alice in confusion. Alice gave a sigh and rolled her eyes, but a giggle escaped her mouth.
“You know, if you think that’s why you’ve been going to the conference everywhere, it probably explains why you’re still going.” Maddie’s confusion deepened, and Alice continued. “The first couple of times you went, you wanted to start a clothing line; then you noticed your hats were doing okay, so you started focusing on those more.” Alice could see the light come back on in Maddie’s eyes as she remembered the early days.
“Oohh yeah…,” Maddie said with a faint smile. “You’re going to help me with my clothes?” she asked eagerly and Alice nodded.
“Technically, you’re helping me with your clothes,” she said. “Ms. Sharp gave me a server, and I want to make the people look stylish and different from every other server.”
“A server?” Maddie asked. She was still trying to wrap her head around everything. “That means… she gave you an Earth?” Alice grinned and spread her arms to gesture at the field around them.
“You’re going to help me decorate it, and name it too. It needs an interesting name, there are a lot of them out there.”
“Well, you did get here through a Rabbit Hole, right?” Maddie asked. “What about, ‘Wonder-‘,”
Alice interrupted immediately. “PASS.”