Jack woke up standing in front of the hotel room mirror. He was farsighted and did not immediately see his own face, but beyond him, behind him, the room was asunder; the bed was sawed in half and the chainsaw responsible lay strewn across the floor in greasy pieces. The flowered carpet was ripped up and bunched up against the window. Large letters were carved by chain into the wooden floor but made no sensible words. Some sort of bright purple liquid was spattered against the walls and dried dripping down. Jack glanced to the side and saw the hooves of a ruminant sticking awkwardly from the tub in the bathroom.
"Not again," Jack sighed. He felt around for his glasses, thick lensed with dark rims, and found them easily. He put them on and blinked several times while trying to clear the acid fuzziness brought on from fitful sleep and apparent over-indulgence from inside his mouth. Then he saw his ears--long, furry, and distinctly rabbity. His mouth dropped open, then he felt the ears with his hands, bending them over to look at them directly, and felt that they were indeed a part of his head. He screamed and fell backward onto a thin layer of mattress fuzz.
There was a knock at the door.
"Housekeeping," said a meek voice from the other side of the door.
"Uh," said Jack loudly, "come back later!"
"Housekeeping," repeated the voice.
"Please, come back later!"
"I have to change the sheets."
"No, come back later! I'm not dressed!" He looked down at his body and noticed that he was wearing a bright orange caftan with a grinning cartoon goat imprinted on the front. The goat was wearing lederhosen and held a mug of beer. Jack laid his head back down and groaned.
"Housekeeping," said the meek voice.
"No, please, seriously, come back later! Later!" yelled Jack.
There was rustling on the other side and the lock started to click. Jack scrambled in the debris, leapt up and pounced on the door putting his weight against it just as it opened. He struggled with the person on the other side, then finally slammed the door shut and latched it with the chain lock.
"Sir, I have to change the sheets," said the voice.
"Would you just go away already?" said Jack.
There was a long pause.
"I'll give you a tip."
"Only if you go away."
Jack banged his forehead against the door three times. He looked around the room and found the remnants of a chair that he then shoved under the doorknob. The person on the other side continued to wiggle the doorknob.
Jack grimaced and shook his fist at the door before going into the bathroom. He looked at the hooves, which were connected to a clearly deceased satyr that was wearing a top hat. He rubbed his fingers into his hair but when he touched his enormous ears he quickly brought his hands to his sides. He poked an index finger at one of the hooves and the leg slid into the tub with a sickening scraping noise. Jack looked around the room and found a live octopus peering at him from the toilet bowl, its tentacles wrapped around the seat.
"What are you looking at?" asked Jack. The octopus stared back, unblinking. "I didn't do that. I didn't do any of this. It's not me." He looked at the octopus for a long moment. "I have to leave. I have to get out of here." The octopus shifted its gaze towards Jack's ears. "Yeah, I know." Jack scratched the edge of his ear. He twirled around then grabbed a towel off the rack. He bent down and wrapped the towel around his head and ears, twisted it, then swung back up flipping the ends of the towel against his back. He checked himself in the mirror, looking like he had just had a shower, and nodded to himself.
"Now," he said, "would you like to come with me? I'd hate to leave you here."
The octopus untangled its tentacles and reached towards Jack.
"I'll have to hide you," said Jack. He lifted his caftan and was relieved to see he was wearing jeans underneath. He knelt down and the octopus wrapped itself tightly around his abdomen.
"Ooh, not so snug please," said Jack. The octopus only increased its grip and Jack grunted with discomfort. "Okay, whatever makes you feel secure then."
Jack stood up and let the caftan fall over the bulge.
"I think that will work," he said. "Just looks like I have a beer belly. Now if I can find my shoes...though they seem to have a tendency to wander off any time something like this happens..." Jack sighed. The octopus tapped the small of his back twice. "Yeah, I know. I'm going."
Jack walked into the main room and pressed his ear against the door. There was no noise from outside so he pulled the chair away and unlatched the chain lock. He opened the door to face the barrel of a gun. At the trigger end was a woman with greasy blonde hair and an angry expression. She was dressed in blue nursing scrubs and rested her free hand on a cleaning cart.
"Don't you think about shutting the door," she said in a quiet, steady voice.
"Wouldn't dream of it," said Jack.
"I've been looking for you for a long time, Jack March," said the woman.
"Who are you?" asked Jack.
"You know me but you don't know that you know me."
"Alice. You'll forget my name though, don't worry."
"Why are you looking for me Alice?"
"Get back inside," she said.
Jack did as she asked, and she wheeled in the cleaning cart, then closed and latched the door behind her.
"You couldn't have done this the easy way, could you?" she asked. She looked around the room and took in the extent of the damage. "Oh, I see." She tapped her fingers on the side of the gun absently.
"Could you maybe lower that thing?" asked Jack.
Alice whipped her head around to glare at him.
"You like to run," she said. "You are such a prey animal."
"Wha..I won't run. Frankly I'm a little surprised that you're...not." He swallowed hard. "Why is that?"
"I'm not housekeeping," she said dryly. "Though maybe something close to that."
She looked around again.
"What is with the chainsaw?" she asked.
"I have no idea. Just that I didn't do any of this. There's no way."
"You've really done it this time Jack."
"How do you know my name?"
"We're longterm acquaintances. You periodically think you're losing your mind but you're not. You've caused a lot of trouble. I try to fix it."
Alice walked towards the bathroom, careful to keep the gun trained on Jack. She peered into the tub.
"Wow!" she exclaimed. "Oh for the love of Dinah!"
"I didn't do it!" shouted Jack, his cheeks going red.
Alice lowered the gun and sat on the edge of the tub. She lowered her hand into the tub and felt the body for signs of life.
"He's really dead," she said.
"Is that good?" asked Jack. She nodded solemnly. "Who...who is he?" Jack walked towards her slowly.
"He's the inventor," she said. "He didn't always look like that though."
"Who's that? I mean, what'd he invent?" asked Jack.
Alice turned to Jack and smiled warmly.
"He invented you Jack March."
Jack looked at her blankly.
"What?" he asked finally.
"Does that shock you to hear that?"
"How can a person be 'invented'?"
"How is anyone invented?" she asked. "You just think them up."
She reached in and grabbed the satyr's legs and pulled him out onto the tile floor with a thud. He was only about four feet tall as Jack could reckon, and maybe sixty pounds. She dragged him back to the cleaning cart, hefted him up then dumped him in the central garbage bin, then dropped the top hat on top of him. She clapped her hands together then rubbed them.
"Help me clean up the chainsaw, will you?" she asked. She started to pick up the parts and put them in the garbage.
Jack bent down reluctantly and helped her. The octopus tightened its grip in protest. Jack patted it reassuringly. Alice and Jack were done quickly, and there were only a few grease stains left on the floor as evidence.
Alice stood and cracked her back, then wiped her hands on her pants.
"I don't know what I can do with the words," said Alice pointing to the letters etched in the floor. "At least they don't say anything. And I don't really feel like fixing the carpet..." She bit her lower lip. "Meh. Good enough."
"Really?" asked Jack quietly. "Does that really fix everything?"
"Sure," said Alice. "All the strangeness is gone. Now it just looks like there was an exorcism here last night. Yeah. Fixed."
"But..." Jack looked at her with a slackening jaw.
"Time to go," said Alice.
Jack turned towards the door.
"Nonsense," said Alice.
"Doors are for entering, not exiting," said Alice. Jack looked at her with eyes wide. His ears twitched under the towel.
"Then how are we leaving?" he asked.
Alice reached into her pocket and pulled out a clear bottle with pink liquid.
"Is that Gatorade?" asked Jack.
She smiled and handed him the bottle. He took it and turned it around to read its label. Drink Me, it said in hand-lettered script.
"You should do what it says, Jack March," said Alice. Her smile faded. "For what it's worth, you've been...a good man."
She moved closer to him and pulled the towel off his head. His ears sprang up.
"Will this turn me back to normal?" he asked, looking down at the bottle.
"Yes," said Alice. "You and your friend there." She patted the octopus bulge. "One more thing..." She reached up and pulled off his glasses.
"But I need those to see," he protested.
"No, you just have a hard time because your eyes aren't meant to look forward."
"Just drink it," said Alice. She looked at him sadly.
Jack unscrewed the lid to the bottle. He swirled the liquid around and it sparkled unnaturally. He lifted the bottle to his lips, closed his eyes and downed the contents.
When he opened his eyes he was in a cool dark forest, sitting on a carpet of green moss. The air was fragrant with the smell of flowers and apple pie.
"Oh, this is familiar," he said, his voice higher and raspier. "But I don't know why."
"You're home silly," said a small voice at his feet. Jack looked down and saw a mouse looking up at him. Then he saw his own body, covered in fur.
"I'm a rabbit," he said.
"No, you're a hare," said the mouse, yawning.
"You're the octopus!" exclaimed Jack.
"I was," said the mouse. He curled up in a ball and started snoring. He woke up a few seconds later with a snort. "No more tea parties!" he yowled, before his eyes fluttered closed once more. "They never turn out well," he muttered.
"Agreed," said Jack. He picked up the mouse and put him on his head between his ears, then gently hopped off in search of his burrow.