FanFic - Alice in Wonderland Contest
"Crash Down the Rabbit Hole"
"Our Liz in Wonderland "
Part 1
by Cheryl
Disclaimer: The characters portrayed in this story are the property of 20th Century Fox and Jason Katims Productions. No infringement is intended.
Category: Contest Stories
Rating: PG-13
Authors Note: The primary source of inspiration for this story is Lewis Carroll's classic children's book Alice's Adventures in Wonderland. As in the Disney adaptation of that story, the animated movie Alice in Wonderland, some events are also inspired by Carroll's follow-up book, Through the Looking Glass.
March 10, 2000. I'm Liz Parker, and last week I fell down a rabbit hole. Like, really fell down. Way down. And then after that things got really weird.

Liz Parker was sitting on the couch in her friend Karen's living room when she heard a knock at the door. She went to answer the door and saw through the window that it was Max Evans. She felt a little flutter in her stomach, even though she was expecting him. She opened the door and smiled at him. "Hey," she said.

"Hey," he replied, giving her that tiny half-smile of his. The one that made her lose her train of thought, no matter what she was thinking at the time.

She opened the door wider to let Max in and closed the door behind him. "You know, Max, you don't have to do this. I'm sure there are a lot of places you'd rather be on a Saturday night than keeping me company while I babysit," Liz said. "I mean, I promised Karen I'd babysit for her because she's been covering so many shifts for me at the Crashdown lately. But you don't have to be here."

"Liz, don't you know there's no place I'd rather be than here with you?" Max asked. "God, these past two weeks have been awful. I thought we'd both be grounded forever. I can't believe how much I looked forward to biology every day, just so I could see you."

Liz felt that flutter in her stomach again. God, he has the most beautiful eyes I've ever seen, she thought.

Max looked around. "Where are the kids?"

"They're asleep. I just put them to bed a little while ago."

Max looked intently at her, and Liz blushed, looking down. "Hey. Where are those videos you were supposed to bring?" she asked, trying to hide her nervousness. She couldn't believe she still felt this way around him, after all this time. And after everything that had happened between them. Especially lately.

"Oh. Sorry. I didn't have time to go by Blockbuster. I was over at Michael's place, and Isabel was there, and then when I realized what time it was--"

"Never mind. It's okay. Let's see what videos Karen has." Liz started looking through the videotapes in the entertainment center. "Hmmmmmm . . . let's see what our choices are here . . . The Lion King, Teletubbies . . . great. This is what happens when you have a newborn and a three-year-old, I guess." Liz paused, looking through more tapes. "Okay. As I see it, we've only got two real choices here. Alice in Wonderland or the Wizard of Oz."

Max looked less than excited about those options. "Gee, I guess I really should have gone to Blockbuster."

"What are you talking about?" Liz asked in mock indignation. "These are classics. Haven't you ever seen them?"

"I guess I must've missed them somehow," Max said, again, giving her that half-smile that she loved so much.

"Okay, then, we'll watch Alice in Wonderland first, and then we'll watch the Wizard of Oz."

"Great," Max said with an obvious lack of enthusiasm.

"Well, do you have a better suggestion?" Liz asked.

Max looked at her without saying a word. He pretended to be trying to think of an answer to that question, and rubbed his chin. "Hmmmm . . ."

Liz blushed again. "Max, I am finally not grounded anymore after two very long weeks, and I'm here to babysit for someone who works for my parents. We're lucky that my parents are even letting me see you at all after . . . everything."

"You told them I'd be here?" Max asked, surprised.

"Well, I didn't exactly volunteer that information. But if Karen tells them, or anyone stops by, I'd much rather they find us watching Alice in Wonderland than . . . doing something else. It's not like we're doing anything wrong or anything."

"Right." Max just stared at her intently.

"I mean, they have to know that I'm not just going to stop seeing you."

"Mmm-hmmm." Max was still staring at her.

"Please don't look at me like that," Liz said.

"Like what?"

"Never mind. Let's just watch the movie." Liz put the video of Alice in Wonderland into the VCR. "I can't believe you've never seen this. I guess you missed out on a lot in those first six years. Or should I say those first forty years?" she asked with a smile.

"Very funny."

They sat back into the couch as the movie's credits began playing. Max looked at her. "So is this how you and Kyle spent your evenings together, watching Alice in Wonderland? Somehow I just can't picture it," he said, smiling.

Liz laughed. "Yeah, right. Kyle's idea of a romantic movie is Massacre at Sunset Village. He'd never watch Alice in Wonderland in a million years."

Max looked at her. "I'm not quite sure how I should take that."

"Believe me, Max. Where Kyle is concerned, you should take everything as a compliment."

Max looked relieved. "Okay, then, I will."

Liz looked at him, thinking how ridiculous it was that he could worry for one minute about Kyle, and wanting to reassure him. Surely he couldn't possibly still be jealous of Kyle, after everything that had happened between them?

"Max, even when Kyle and I were together, it wasn't like . . . I mean, I knew even then that he wasn't my destiny or anything, you know. It wasn't . . . like that. God, it was so far from that."

"Liz." Max paused, looking directly into her eyes. "I know. You don't have to explain."

Liz looked at him gratefully, glad that he understood what she had been trying to say.

Max and Liz sat in silence, watching Disney's animated Alice experience her adventures in Wonderland, content just to finally be together. A few minutes after the movie started, Max slowly reached over and touched her hand. She interlocked her fingers with his. His eyes met hers and they smiled. It feels so good to be with him like this, she thought. Almost like we were a normal couple. Almost.

After about half an hour had passed, Liz started to get sleepy, and she leaned against Max's shoulder. A few minutes later, her eyes fluttered closed.


"Oh my God!" Liz heard Max's voice and she woke up with a start. He looked at his watch. "I'm late! Isabel's gonna kill me. I was supposed to meet her and Michael at nine."

"Oh. Okay," Liz said in a daze, still half-asleep. "What for?"

Max looked away, avoiding Liz's eyes. "Um. Nothing much. Just something that we have to do."

Liz tried not to let Max see how hurt she was. She knew that Max still had a lot of secrets that he wasn't ready to share with her. Things that he felt he could share only with Michael and Isabel.

Max headed for the door. "I'll see you later, Liz." And before she could reply, he was out the door.

"Max, wait!" Liz got up and followed him out the door. "Max!" As Liz watched from the doorway, she saw Max trip on something in the yard, then disappear from sight. "Aaaahhhh . . . Liiiiz!" Max shouted.

"Oh my God! Max!" Liz ran after him. She looked down where he had fallen and saw what appeared to be some kind of rabbit hole. Without stopping to think about anything, she jumped into the hole that had just swallowed Max.


It seemed to Liz as if she were falling forever. This is so weird, she thought. What is happening? She thought of that expression about digging to China. Am I falling to China? That's a really dumb expression, she thought. Like anyone could really dig to China. Will they have to send firemen after me, like that little girl who fell down the well? What was her name? Jennifer? Jessica? Will I be on the news and everything like she was?

Liz landed with a thud. She sat there for a minute or two, too dazed to grasp immediately what had happened. Then she looked around. She was sitting on the floor of the eraser room at school. Max was nowhere to be found.

"This is so weird," she said out loud. "How did I end up in the eraser room?"

But there was no one around to answer that question. Liz had never been in the eraser room alone before. It was a lot spookier than usual.

She tried to open the door but it was locked. "That's weird. That door is never locked. This is getting weirder and weirder."

What happened to Max, she wondered. How did he get out?

Liz noticed a small bottle on the table beside the erasers. It looked like one of Amy DeLuca's herbal remedies that she sold in her aromatherapy shop. Liz picked the bottle up. On one side of the bottle was a label that said "Grief Relief."

"Great. Just what I need." Liz made a face as she remembered how awful that Grief Relief stuff was, when Maria made her drink a few drops of it at school. It tasted like poison.

She turned the bottle around and saw that the label on the other side said "Drink me."

"Drink me?" Liz said out loud.

Liz opened the bottle, pulled out the dropper, and put a few drops in her mouth. She instantly made a face. "Yuck! It's even worse than I remember." She put the dropper back in the bottle and placed it back on the table.

"Okay, what now?" Liz said. What did I think was going to happen, she thought. Did I think it would actually do something? But then she did notice something. She was growing!

Within seconds, Liz's head was touching the ceiling of the eraser room. And the ceiling in there was very high. She had to crouch over just to be able to stay standing.

"Oh. My. God." Liz tried not to panic. Okay, Liz, think. She turned her head to the side. As much as she could, anyway. She saw a shelf that she hadn't even noticed before. Maybe because it was usually way too high for her to see. On the shelf was a small key, and next to the key was a small coconut pie. Or at least, it looked small from where Liz was standing. On top of the pie were the words "Eat Me," written in chocolate sprinkles. Liz thought it looked like one of Amy's coconut pies, the same one she made for the Sheriff that night when Liz and Maria caught them together. Oh God, Liz thought. Let's not think about that.

Liz picked up the key. I wonder if this will open the door, she thought. But I can't even bend down now to open it. And if I could open it, I couldn't fit through the door. What am I going to do?

She picked up a tiny fork that was next to the tiny pie, and took a bite of the pie. "Mmmm . . . Yum. At least this is a lot better than that awful Grief Relief." She put the fork down and waited. She was shrinking! It worked!

Within a few seconds, Liz was back to her normal size. Thank God. Liz put the key in the door. It worked! She opened the door slowly and peered out, not sure of what she would find.


Liz was in the hallway at West Roswell High School. But she was completely alone. Max was still nowhere to be found. Actually, there was nobody to be found anywhere, period. Well, of course, Liz thought. It's Saturday night. Who would be here?

But then Liz looked out a window in one of the classrooms and saw that it was daylight outside. "This is getting weirder and weirder." How long did I sleep, she thought? And where is Max?

She heard a noise and turned around. At the end of the hallway she saw Max, walking very quickly toward the doors at the end of the hall. "Max! Wait!"

But Max didn't stop. He acted like he didn't even hear her. He just kept walking down the hall and out the door. Liz ran after him. "Max!" She opened the door at the end of the hall, but he had vanished.

"Where did he go?" Liz looked up and down the street in both directions, but Max was nowhere to be seen. "Okay, this is getting too weird. I have just got to tell Maria about this." She set off down the street in the direction of Maria's house.


As Liz approached Maria's house, she noticed the Jetta in the driveway. Thank God Maria's home, she thought. Maybe things will be getting back to normal now. She knocked on the front door, and Michael answered. Liz raised her eyebrows and looked at him, quite startled to see him there. He smiled at her. "Ah, Liz. Hello."

"Um, hi, Michael. Is Maria here?" Liz asked.

"Sure, come on in."

Okay, Liz thought. Now I know I'm going crazy. Michael smiled at me? He never smiles. I didn't know he could smile. And he's at Maria's house? What is going on?

Liz followed Michael into the kitchen. Maria was standing in front of the stove, cooking dinner and singing, what sounded to Liz like a Celine Dion song. Maria turned around and smiled at Liz. She was wearing an apron that said "Kiss the Cook."

"Hi, Liz," Maria beamed.

"Ummm . . . hi." Liz gave Maria a puzzled look. "What are you doing?"

"Cooking dinner. What does it look like?" Maria was singing again. "Just like me, they long to be . . close to you . . ."

"Maria, what are you singing?" Liz asked.

"It's the Carpenters. I just love the Carpenters."

Michael put on an apron. His apron had a big smiley face on it, like in those "Have a Nice Day" signs. He started to chop vegetables on the counter top.

"Okay, if we're going to sing, it should be the Beatles. You know. I am the Eggman. I am the Walrus. Koo Koo Ka Choo." Michael was not singing. Liz was grateful for that, at least.

Liz stared at them for a minute, incredulous. What in the world had happened to Maria and Michael? "Umm, have you guys seen Max?" she asked, hoping to steer the conversation back to somewhat normal territory. Although it seemed like nothing in Liz's life could be described as normal lately.

"I thought he was with you," Michael said. "I'm so glad you guys are finally dating. You make a great couple. Now maybe he'll stop moping around all the time."

Liz looked at him blankly. "Very funny."


"You're being sarcastic, right?" she said.

"No, of course not. Why would you think that?" Michael replied, giving Liz a hurt look.

"Um, no reason." Liz just looked at them for a minute, not quite believing what she was seeing. Or hearing. Who are these people, she wondered. And what had they done with Michael and Maria? God, maybe aliens had taken over their bodies. Wait. Michael already is an alien. Get a grip, Liz.

"Is everything all right with you guys?" she asked.

"Of course. Why wouldn't it be?" Maria replied.

"Well, you seem awfully, ummm . . . what's the right word?" Liz asked. "Happy?"

"What's wrong with that?" Maria asked. "Sweetie, could you hand me the salt?" she asked Michael.

"Here you go, honey," he replied.

"Honey? Sweetie?" Liz's eyebrows shot up. "Has everybody gone completely out of their minds? How long was I asleep? Have I been in a coma for like a hundred years or something?"

"Asleep? A coma?" Maria asked. "What are you talking about?"

Before Liz had time to answer, Amy DeLuca, Maria's mom, came in the kitchen.

"Hi, honey, I'm home. Hi, Michael. Hi, Liz," Amy said. She had two bags of groceries in her arms, and she put them down on the kitchen table. She went to the stove and put her arms around Maria and Michael.

"I see Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum are making dinner. Smells great. You guys are the best." Maria and Michael smiled at Amy.

"Mom, did you remember to get the oysters?" Maria asked.

"Yes, of course I did, pumpkin." Amy turned to Liz. "Liz, are you staying for dinner?" she asked.

"Um, no thanks. I really think I need to be getting home," Liz replied slowly. She didn't know what to think. It was like getting sucked into an episode of the Twilight Zone. Maybe Michael and Maria had overdosed on Grief Relief, she thought. "I'll see you guys later."

Before Liz could leave, she heard a loud crash. Michael had knocked over a plate of Amy's "good" china, and it broke into several pieces. He knelt down and started picking them up.

"I'm so sorry," Michael said.

"Don't worry about it," Amy said. "You're practically part of the family now, Michael. We forgive those things here."

Michael and Amy smiled at each other.

I think I'm going to be sick, thought Liz. What on earth was going on? I thought things were weird in the eraser room, but this takes the cake. Or the pie. Whatever.

"Okay, I'll be on my way now," Liz said. "If you see Max, please tell him I'm looking for him." She left the DeLucas' house as quickly as she could.


Liz headed down the street toward Max's house. Maybe he had just gone home, she thought. If he's not there, then Isabel should know where he is. After she had walked a couple of blocks, a voice startled her.

"Aaaahhh, Liz!"

She looked around, but didn't see anyone. "Hello? Who's there?"

"Liz! Up here."

Liz looked up into a tree by the side of the road and saw Kyle Valenti sitting there. He had a huge grin on his face. Like the cat that ate the canary, Liz thought.

"Kyle, what are you doing up there?"

"I'm sitting in a tree. What does it look like I'm doing?"

"Very funny."

"I like sitting up here. It's a good place to think. And it gives me a nice perspective on things."


"Yeah, I see lots of things up here."

"Like what?"

"Oh, you'd be surprised. As a matter of fact, I saw your loverboy not too long ago."

"Max? You saw Max? When? Where was he going?"

"Funny how you knew exactly who I was talking about."

Liz gave him an exasperated look. "Kyle, if you're not going to tell me, then just forget it. I don't have time for this."

"Hold on. I didn't say I wasn't going to tell you. Keep your pants on. Whoops! It's probably a little too late for that, isn't it?" Kyle was still grinning at her but his smile didn't reach his eyes.

"Okay, that's enough. I'm going," Liz retorted. "I don't think this being friends thing is working out, obviously." Liz turned to walk away.

"Liz, wait. I'm sorry."

Liz looked at him, doubtful. "You're sorry? Yeah, right."

"Liz, I'm just trying to look out for you," Kyle said. "Max Evans is bad news. I just don't understand why you can't see that. I am your friend. If I weren't, I wouldn't care what you did. Or who you did it with."

Liz looked at him skeptically. "Mm-hmm. Right. Everything you do is just because you care about me. And correct me if I'm wrong, Kyle, but I thought you and Max were like big drinking buddies now. It sure seemed like it the other night. Now he's bad news again?"

Liz was glad to see that Kyle actually looked embarrassed at being reminded of his behavior that night at the concert.

"Okay, I'll tell you," Kyle said, with a sigh. "Max either went that way," Kyle said, pointing left. "Or he went that way," he said, pointing right. "And you'll find him in one of those directions."

"Great, Kyle, thanks a lot. You've been a big help, as always." Liz turned and walked away.


Liz found herself outside the Crashdown Café, the diner that her family owned. And where they lived, on the second floor. She realized that she was getting really thirsty. God, what time is it, she wondered? Well, I might as well stop in and say hi to Dad, she thought. And I'll get an Alien Blast while I'm at it.

Liz entered the Crashdown. It was completely empty except for one booth. Her father wasn't in there. In fact, there was nobody working there at all. No cooks. No waitresses. Nobody. That's weird, thought Liz. Where's Dad? Where's Jose? Where are Stephanie and Agnes? This is getting weirder and weirder, she thought.

She looked at the two people in the booth. The hair on the back of her neck stood up as she realized that it was Sheriff Valenti and Ms. Topolsky sitting there. Topolsky! What was she doing here, Liz wondered. The Sheriff turned to look at her, and smiled as he tipped his hat toward her. Topolsky looked at her and smiled, too. But Liz knew better than to trust that smile.

"Liz, it's so great to see you. Why don't you come join us?" Topolsky asked, sweetly. Too sweetly, Liz thought.

"Yes, Liz, please join us. Have some tea with us," the Sheriff said.

"Tea?" Liz asked, surprised.

"Yes, tea," said the Sheriff, with a laugh. "What? You don't serve much of that here, I guess."

"No. Not exactly." Liz looked at the ceramic teapot and the matching teacups on the table between them. Funny, she thought. I've never noticed a tea set like that at the Crashdown before. I've never noticed any tea set at the Crashdown before. This is getting weirder and weirder by the minute.

Topolsky slid over and patted the seat beside her. Liz reluctantly slid into the booth next to her. She looked at them nervously. What did they want with her?

"Well, well," the Sheriff said. "We've got ourselves a regular tea party here." He laughed at his awkward attempt at humor, but Topolsky and Liz didn't laugh with him.

"Liz. You're probably wondering why we asked you to join us," Topolsky said.

"Um, well, it had crossed my mind," Liz said.

"Well, the Sheriff and I thought we'd just have a little talk with you. We're concerned about you."

"Concerned? About me?"


"But why? You don't have to be concerned about me. I'm fine."

"Well, we know that you're fine physically and everything," Topolsky said. She looked at the Sheriff. "It's not that."

"Well what is it, then?"

"Liz, we're just concerned for your safety," Topolsky said.

The Sheriff broke in. "What Ms. Topolsky is trying to say, Liz, is that we think you might be in some kind of danger."

"Danger? What kind of danger? From who?" Liz asked. "What are you talking about?"

"Well, Liz," the Sheriff continued, "I don't think you know exactly who you're dealing with here."

"Dealing with?"

"Your boyfriend. Max Evans."

Liz looked at the Sheriff, not believing what she was hearing. "Okay, are you getting this stuff from Kyle? I mean, I know he's hated Max ever since I broke up with him, but this is ridiculous. Max isn't dangerous. He'd never hurt me, or put me in any danger."

"Liz," the Sheriff said. "This has nothing to do with Kyle. We just know things about Max that you probably don't know. And what we want from you is for you to tell us everything that you do know, so we can help you, and protect you."

"Protect me? From Max? I don't need any protection from Max."

The Sheriff and Topolsky looked at each other.

"Liz," Topolsky said gently. "I know that you really care about Max, and that you don't want to believe that he could ever hurt you. And I really hope you're right. But--"

"But nothing," Liz interrupted. "This is ridiculous. I know that Max would never hurt me."

"Well, if you're sure of that, then you have nothing to worry about, right?" Topolsky asked. "And then there's no harm in telling us everything you know, right?"

"Everything I know? About what?" Liz asked nervously.

"Liz, please don't play dumb with us," Topolsky said, with more than a hint of steel in her voice. "I know that you know things about Max. Like what happened right here in the Crashdown last fall. We know that you were shot. And like lots of other things. Like what you kids were doing in Texas at Atherton's place."

Liz couldn't believe what she was hearing. "Atherton's place? What do you know about Atherton's place?" she asked Topolsky.

The Sheriff spoke up. "Okay, Liz, this isn't about Ms. Topolsky and me and what we know. It's about what you know. We really need for you to tell us everything you know about Max Evans. This isn't a game. This is very serious. Your life could be in real danger."

Liz just sat there without saying a word.

"Liz, I know you think we're the bad guys," the Sheriff said. "And that we're just out to get your boyfriend. But it isn't like that at all. You have to trust us."

"Trust you? You can't be serious. The only person I trust right now is Max. I don't have to tell you anything. I think I'm leaving now." Liz started to get up from the booth.

Topolsky grabbed her arm. "Liz. Wait."

"Let go of me! You can't keep me here!" Liz pulled her arm away from Topolsky. She glared at the Sheriff. "What, are you going to arrest me again, Sheriff, like after that party at the old soap factory? Keep me locked up in jail overnight again? Is that what you do to try to intimidate people into telling you what you want to know?"

The Sheriff looked down at his teacup and didn't say a word.

Topolsky looked at him. "What is she talking about?" she asked.

"Oh, didn't you know?" Liz asked her. "That's what they do around here. They lock up teenage girls in jail to try to get at their boyfriends. I'm leaving."

As Liz got up from the booth to leave, the door of the Crashdown opened and Max walked in. Max looked as surprised to see her as she did to see him. "Liz!"

"Max! What are you doing here? I've been looking everywhere for you."

Max looked over at the booth and saw the Sheriff and Topolsky. "What's going on here?" He looked at Liz, and then back at the Sheriff, confused.

"Max, I was just leaving. Let's go." Liz grabbed his arm, and turned around to walk out.

"Wait!" Max said. He pulled his arm away from Liz. "I don't understand."

"Max," Liz said nervously. "Let's get out of here. I'll tell you all about it later."

"No, Liz. Wait a minute. I want to ask the Sheriff a question."

"Max--I don't think this is such a good idea."

Max looked at the Sheriff. "I don't get it. How did you get here so quickly?"

"Excuse me?" the Sheriff said.

"How did you get here so quickly? You were just at my house a few minutes ago, talking to my mother. There is no way you could have gotten here that fast."

The Sheriff looked at Max, and then at Topolsky. She was looking at him suspiciously.

"Sheriff? What is he talking about?" Topolsky looked at Max. "There must be some mistake. He's been here with me for over an hour."

The Sheriff jumped out of the booth and immediately grabbed Liz from behind, putting one arm around her stomach, the other arm around her neck, and a knife against her throat. "Okay, now let's everybody just calm down a minute here," he said, backing towards the front door of the Crashdown. Liz looked at Max with terror in her eyes.

Max looked at her and then at the Sheriff. "Let her go," he said, very quietly.

At that moment, the door of the Crashdown opened and the Sheriff whirled around, still holding Liz, to see who it was. Liz gasped. It was Sheriff Valenti!

Liz instantly felt a searing heat pulse through her body, as if she were being struck by lightning. "Max!" she cried out. She didn't know what was happening to her. She had to close her eyes because the light was so bright that it was blinding her.

Max and Topolsky just stared, both of them in complete shock at what they were witnessing. The man holding Liz was not the Sheriff anymore. He had turned into a completely different person! Now he was a Hispanic man with a goatee, wearing a black trenchcoat and a black hat. Max thought he looked vaguely familiar, but he didn't know where he could have seen him before. The man was still holding a knife to Liz's throat. This time, he started slowly backing towards the kitchen of the Crashdown, inch by inch, taking Liz with him.

Sheriff Valenti, the real Sheriff Valenti who had just entered the Crashdown, pulled out his gun. "Okay, take it easy, mister. Nobody needs to get hurt here. Just let the girl go."

"Sheriff," Max interrupted. "Let me handle this." His eyes met the eyes of the man holding Liz. The man that he now knew was Nasedo. The Fourth Alien. The man he had been looking for his whole life.

"Now, son, just stay out of this," the Sheriff warned Max.

"No. I won't," Max said. "I can't. This is between me and him. It's me that he wants, not Liz. Isn't that right?" Max never took his eyes off the man in the trenchcoat. But the man didn't say a word.

"Let her go," Max said.

Still, the man didn't say a word. He just backed up some more, inching towards the kitchen of the Crashdown, holding onto Liz even more tightly.

Max took a step towards them. He and Nasedo were still staring directly at each other. "I said, let her go." Max spoke very slowly and very quietly, in a tone of voice that Liz had never heard before. "If you hurt one hair on her head, you're going to have to kill me, too, because I swear that I will kill you if you don't. And if I don't succeed today, you can bet that I will not rest for one minute, for the rest of my life, until you are dead."

Liz looked at Max, terrified, but somehow, strangely comforted by the sound of his voice. And then, instantly, the man let her go, and before she knew it, she was in Max's arms.

"Liz, are you all right?" Max asked her gently. She could only look at him mutely. She nodded her head. "Okay, you stay here," Max said. "I'm going after him."

Max ran into the kitchen of the Crashdown and followed the man in the trenchcoat out the back door. Sheriff Valenti ran after them both. Liz slumped onto the floor and Topolsky helped Liz into the booth. "Are you okay?" Topolsky asked her. Liz nodded.

"Good. Now you just sit right here until I get back." Then Topolsky ran off into the kitchen and out the back door, after the others.

Liz just sat there, dazed. What had just happened? Who was that man? And what did he want with Max? Liz's head hurt. She sat in the booth for a few more minutes, not moving. She poured herself some tea, and it actually made her feel a little calmer. After a few more minutes, and a few more sips of tea, Liz felt normal. Well, almost normal. There was still no sign of Max, the man in black, Sheriff Valenti, or Topolsky.

Well, Liz thought. What am I supposed to do? How long am I supposed to sit here, waiting for them to come back? Do they expect me to wait all day?

After about twenty minutes had passed, Liz got out of the booth and walked up the stairs to where she lived above the Crashdown.

"Mom? Dad? Is anybody home?" Liz called out. But there was no answer. The place was deserted. Liz went into her bedroom and sat on her bed. She wanted to cry. She was tired of being alone. She was tired of the silence. She went out onto the balcony, and climbed down the fire escape that led to the street below.


Liz wasn't sure exactly where she was headed. She just knew she couldn't sit in the Crashdown any longer. She walked down the street for a few blocks and decided to head toward's Max's house. Maybe he was there. Or maybe Isabel knew where he was. Or maybe Isabel would have some answers about what had happened at the Crashdown.

After she had walked a couple of blocks, Liz was again startled by a voice calling out her name.

"Aaahh! Liz! I'm so glad to see you!" It was Alex Whitman, her closest friend, next to Maria. And Max.

"Hey, Alex. Boy, am I glad to see you, too. You have no idea. You're like, the first normal person I've seen all day."

"Are you okay? You don't look so good." Alex looked genuinely concerned.

"Gee, thanks. I'm having kind of a rough day," Liz said. "Where are you going?"

"I'm going over to Isabel's. Please, please, please tell me that you'll come with me," Alex begged.

"You want me to go with you?" Liz asked. "Alex, what has gotten into you?"

"I don't know what you're talking about," Alex said. All I know is that Isabel has been hounding me to come over to play croquet with her for days, and that girl just will not take no for an answer."

"You're kidding, right?" Liz asked, dumbfounded.

"No. I'm not kidding at all," Alex replied, confused.

"Okay . . . But croquet?" Liz asked. "Why croquet? I didn't know people still played that game," she said with a laugh.

"Well, apparently they do. Isabel's parents have a croquet set and everything. She was watching Heathers the other day, and got this great idea that we should play croquet. That movie is like, her guide to life or something."

Liz laughed. "Yeah, I can see that." She noticed that Alex was carrying red roses. "Alex, if you are so not into Isabel anymore, then why are you bringing her flowers?"

"Well, I don't know what you're talking about, Liz. I'm just bringing her these because she gets so mad if I don't bring her something. These were some white roses that were in my mom's garden that I spray painted red, because Isabel only likes red roses, and she pitches a fit if she doesn't get everything exactly her way. You know how she is. She acts like she's the Queen and the rest of us are just her subjects or something."

"I guess." Liz gave Alex a puzzled look. "Okay, I was actually heading that way myself, so we can walk together." They continued down the street towards Max and Isabel's house.


"Alex!! Alex!" Isabel shouted. "Where have you been? I've been waiting all day for you." Liz and Alex found Isabel in the back yard of the Evans house, sitting at a card table, playing solitaire. As soon as she saw them, she jumped up, grabbed one of the croquet mallets, and began practicing her croquet swing.

"Sorry, Isabel. I've been kinda busy," Alex replied. "But I brought Liz to play with us. I hope that's okay."

Isabel looked at Liz with even more disdain than usual. "Do you play croquet?"

"Um, well, not exactly," Liz replied meekly. Isabel always scared her, but today she seemed particularly frightening.

"Well, then, off with your head!" Isabel said. She gave Liz a quick smile that clearly was not intended to be friendly. "Just kidding. Ha ha. I guess you can stay if you want to. Like I have much of a choice." She glared at Alex.

"Um, Isabel, here are some flowers I brought you." Alex held his hand out with the painted red roses.

Isabel grabbed them out of his hand, and looked at them. "You call these roses?" She threw them down on the ground, and looked at her hands. "Oh my God. My hands are red! What did you do, Alex, paint the roses red?"

Alex looked at his feet. "Um, well, they were actually white, but I knew that you only liked red ones-"

"Oh, forget it!" Isabel interrupted him. "Let's just get on with the croquet game. Everybody grab a mallet."

"Um, Isabel? Have you seen Max?" Liz asked cautiously, as she picked up what she could only assume was a mallet. She didn't want to make Isabel mad, but she just had to find Max to see if he was all right.

"Aha! I knew that was the only reason you would be here," Isabel replied, with a smug look on her face. "You just can't leave my poor brother alone, can you? No, I don't know where he is, as a matter of fact. Not that I'd tell you, even if I did know."

"Isabel, I know you're not crazy about the idea of Max and I being together, but something happened today at the Crashdown that I really think you should know about. Something with Max."

Isabel let out a sigh, and rolled her eyes. "You know what, Liz? I'm sure it's a really fascinating story and everything, but it will just have to wait until after the croquet game. Okay, Alex, you go first."

Liz threw her mallet down. "Okay, that's enough. I'm sorry, Alex, but I'm not going to stay here to take this from her. Not today. I'm sorry." Liz stormed off, and Alex and Isabel just looked at her walk away.

"Gee. What a pity." Isabel looked at Alex. "Okay, Alex, time to play croquet."

Alex smiled weakly and gave Isabel an overly enthusiastic thumbs-up sign.


Liz found herself, yet again, wandering the streets of Roswell. Where would she go now? She had run out of places to go. I guess I'll just head back to the Crashdown, she thought. Maybe Max has come back and is wondering where I went.

As she walked, she noticed that the streets were again deserted, as they had been most of the day, and Liz felt horribly, horribly alone. She sat down on the curb, completely dejected, and just stared at the ground for a few minutes. The only thing she saw was a caterpillar, inching its way along the sidewalk. At least I'm not completely alone, Liz thought. I can't believe I'm cheered up by the sight of a caterpillar! That thought made her laugh, and she stood up to walk the rest of the way to the Crashdown.

Liz reached the Crashdown, and went in the front door, hoping to see Max sitting there, waiting for her. Her heart sank when she realized that it was just as she had left it, completely deserted. She slumped down into the same booth she had been sitting in before. The teapot and teacups were still there. What had happened to Max, she wondered. Where was he?

A noise in the kitchen startled her. "Max?" she called out, hopefully.

"Liz! Oh my God! Where have you been?" It was Maria, coming out of the kitchen in her Crashdown waitress uniform, antennae bobbing as she hurried toward Liz. "Things have been so weird around here."

"You don't know the half of it, Maria."

"Okay, somebody has stolen all of our strawberries. There were, like, bowls and bowls of strawberries here yesterday, and now they've all, like, disappeared into thin air. I am going to get to the bottom of this. Do you know anything about this? Did you see anyone today?"

Liz just stared at Maria blankly. Is this really happening, she wondered. I was held hostage at knifepoint, and Maria is babbling about some stupid strawberries? Liz started to cry.

"Liz! What's the matter?" Maria asked, alarmed. "Are you okay?"

"No, I'm not okay!" Liz shouted, through her tears. "I wish everybody would quit asking me that! I've had the absolute worst day of my life! I was having this great time watching TV with Max, and then I fell down a rabbit hole, and then I was big, and then I was small again, and then I saw Topolsky and the Sheriff, and they were so mean to me, and then I saw Max again, but then this horrible man grabbed me and put a knife to my throat and I thought he was gonna kill me, and then Max ran off after the guy, and then I saw Alex and he made me go over to Isabel's and then Isabel was so mean to me, and then there was this caterpillar-"

"Liz! Liz! You're hysterical. Here." Maria took a bottle out of her pocket. "You need some Grief Relief. Take some."

Liz began sobbing uncontrollably. She put her head down on the table in front of her.

"Liz! What's the matter? Liz! Liz!"


"Liz! Liz! Wake up!" Liz heard Maria's voice. She opened her eyes to see Maria leaning over her and shaking her. She was back in Karen's living room and Max was still sitting next to her on the couch. Standing next to Maria were Michael, Isabel, and Alex. "Dude, you were like, totally out of it," Maria said. "I was getting ready to pull out the smelling salts."

"You would carry around smelling salts," Alex said. Maria made a face at him.

"I just woke up myself, when I heard them knocking on the door," Max said.

"What are you all doing here?" Liz asked, sitting up straight. "What time is it?"

"It's nine. We were going to the movies, and I thought we'd just stop by to say hi," Maria said. "I can't believe you'd want to babysit after being grounded for two weeks." Maria paused. "Plus, I, uh, thought we'd just check in, you know, to see how things were going." Maria gave Max a pointed look.

"Things are going fine," Liz responded, just a little defensively. "We were just watching a movie."

"Mm-hmm. I can see that," Maria nodded. She didn't look convinced.

Isabel chimed in impatiently. "Okay, now that we know that everything is hunky dory, can we go now, please? We're going to be late for the movie." She looked at her watch.

The door opened and Karen and her husband came in. "Well, well, what do we have here? A party!" she said with a smile.

"Karen, they were just leaving. They just stopped by on their way to a movie," Liz replied quickly. She only hoped that Karen didn't report back to her parents that she was with Max when she was supposed to be babysitting alone. And she certainly didn't want Karen to tell them she was having a party. "The kids are fine. They're asleep."

"Don't worry, Liz. I was just kidding," Karen said with a smile. "Well, we're home earlier than I thought, so now you can enjoy the rest of your evening." Karen handed Liz a twenty-dollar bill. "I hope this is enough."

"Please, Karen, it's not necessary," Liz replied, giving her back the money. "Okay, well, we'll be on our way, then." Liz herded her friends out the door. "Thanks a lot, Karen. For everything." She gave Karen a grateful smile.

"Liz, you have nothing to thank me for. What are friends for?" Karen replied with a wink.

Liz and Max walked out the front door of Karen's house, followed by Maria, Michael, Isabel, and Alex. Liz spotted a hole in the front yard and stopped.

"Liz, what's the matter?" Max asked.

Liz just stared at the hole for a moment with a faraway look in her eyes.

"Liz?" Max asked, concerned.

Liz looked at Max.

"You guys are not going to believe the dream I just had."

"Oh, yeah? Try me." Max looked at her and smiled.


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