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Message received 2.24am 8 July 2009

Jean Claude Valentine sends her regrets as she can not attend todays tea party at the Mad Hatter’s mansion. She will be indisposed of for the rest of the week or perhaps a month, maybe more, as her presence has been requested at various basket weaving conventions. Jean Claude Valentine would like to formally express that her commitment is voluntary and her narcosis anything but reactionary. It has absolutely nothing to with the smell of burning flesh under a hot iron, nor her so-called mother’s papery skin turning to wax then catching flame. Jean Claude Valentine accepts no responsibility for these things and would like to send her condolences. As a dear friend of Jean Claude Valentine she has requested you prepare a delicate jar of marmalade laden with arsenic, sugary sweet cupcakes nestled in the thinnest of rice paper hiding sharp edge razors and a porcelain thermo filled with peppermint tea to wash it all down with. Please place these items into the wicker picnic basket, lined with blue chequered gingham, used for special occasions and red-riding hood days then smuggle these as best you can into the facility ASAP. Jean Claude Valentine sends her regrets, thanks you sincerely and without irony.

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Vanessa Ryan is an Australian freelance writer currently living in the crazy, rebellious, historical and ever eccentric city of Ghent in Belgium. She translates words and teaches English for a living but on the side loves to write a tale or two for the amusement of those whose minds are as twisted as hers.