THE BATTLE OF WONDERLAND GARDENS
Ellis has a big problem—a rivalry that drives him crazy. He wants to finally beat Alicia, the thorn in his side, at something. Even a small victory in their youth theater ticket sales contest will do. He concocts a plan to sell a boatload of tickets to the old folks at the Wonderland Gardens Retirement Community. His hopes crumble after he finds Alicia beat him to the punch and sold her tickets to the residents.
Alicia has problems, too. An evil spirit possessing the community’s beloved owner has taken over the facility. It is in search of a new, younger body and kidnaps Alicia. Ellis can’t sit idly by,even though a tiny part of him wants to, and joins the fight. With the aid of a talking terrier guide, Ellis leads the oddball elderly residents against the fiend and its raven minions to rescue Alicia and reclaim their home.
The air seeped from Ellis Brown’s balloon of hope and instantly ruined his once-promising Saturday morning. He could not believe what he just heard. “You mean a girl has already been here selling these tickets?”
Mr. and Mrs. McGregor, the Wonderland Gardens Retirement Center’s hosts, sat in the lobby’s red velvet armchairs smiling. Mr. McGregor returned the tickets that Ellis just tried to sell them and said, “Yes, she came about an hour ago. Still in the building, I believe.”
Mrs. McGregor beamed. “Such an angel, blonde hair, blue eyes, and beaming with joy.”
Yep, that’s Alicia. What a fake. Ellis forced a smile as the anxiety bubbled in the pit of his stomach. “And I suppose she sold you tickets to our show?”
“As a matter of fact, she did," Mr. McGregor said. “Such a sweet young lady. She did mention that a friend of hers, a boy, might stop by later, and here you are.”
Sweet? Maybe, if rattlesnake’s venom’s sweet. “She does have a way,” Ellis said.
Ellis was a good kid, but he had one big problem, Alicia Swanson. She had been a thorn in his side all throughout middle school. She beat him at everything and, to make matters worse, she had a habit of broadcasting it to everyone.
He was counting on the retirement home's residents to beat Alicia by selling more Alice in Wonderland show tickets. Not anymore. Ellis felt a familiar churning in his gut as, once again, a sure victory slipped painfully through his fingers.