The Caterpillar is one of the main antagonists in Christina Henry's horror novel Alice. Based on the Caterpillar, a protagonist in the original Alice in Wonderland story, this Caterpillar is brutal, sadistic, evil and malicious in a way that Lewis Carroll could never have conceived.
The City is in a turf war between many criminal gangs - including Cheshire, the frightening Walrus, Mr Carpenter, and the fabled Caterpillar. The Caterpillar runs a gambling stripclub, named the "Butterflies" in a shady part of the city. The Butterflies looks like it has been put together simply by magic. It is an Escher-esque maze of twisting corridors and staircases.
Cheshire, a secret magician and billionaire, first mentions the Caterpillar as a man who might know the location of the vorpal sword which first defeated the Jabberwock aeons ago. Cheshire says that Alice and Hatcher should seek out the Caterpillar. First, they have to go through a "test of character" in a sinister Wonderland-like labyrinth of evil sentient roses and a Siren, but eventually they are catapulted out of that dimension into the real world where they end up outside the Butterflies club.
Alice asks how such a building could stand, and Hatcher says "Magic, of course." When they enter, it is eerie and quiet, until Hatcher picks up the sounds of a party happening somewhere down the hall of doors they enter. Hatcher and Alice eat one of Cheshire's cakes against their will and shrink down to the size of an ant. This allows them to enter the party unseen, but him and Alice are overwhelmed by the sight inside.
Hundreds of young girls and women are forced to dance provocatively for the amusement of rich male patrons (criminals) who inhabit the club. To make their suffering worse, the girls all have what looks like a butterfly tattoo on their shoulder blades - except Alice realizes it is not a tattoo but an actual blood-stained carving, done by the Caterpillar's blade. She is completely horrified and feels pity for the girls' suffering and anger at the evil Caterpillar.
After Hatcher and Alice return themselves to human size by drinking a potion in Cheshire's supplies, no one reacts upon their materialisation. Hatcher is overcome with lust for the girls but Alice reminds him of why they are there. He approaches the guard, whose brother works for Cheshire, and seeing that they know the guard's brother gives them instant access to the room of the Caterpillar.
Inside, the Caterpillar is smoking a hookah and is reclining on a luxurious sofa. The entire room looks Middle Eastern in style and Alice is reminded of childhood stories of magic lamps, genies and flying carpets. The Caterpillar barely reacts to their entrance; he is too intent on watching two of his latest "Butterflies" - a mermaid; and a woman, twisted, broken and tortured, with butterfly wings attached to the scars on her back, encased in a glass prison.
The young girl begs for Alice to kill her to end her suffering. At this, the Caterpillar is notified of their presence, and he brags that he is going to be rich beyond measure with his powers. He recognizes Alice as a magician, and confirms that Cheshire was a magician too, and says that magicians recognize their own kind. He says that the Rabbit desires vengeance on Alice for ripping out his eye, and that the Caterpillar will be only too happy to get Alice there.
The Caterpillar then tells the true story of Hatcher's past, and the fact that he was once named Nicholas and was a father, but lost his daughter Jenny to criminal gangs. The Caterpillar also says the "mermaid" prisoner longs to torture him even worse than he did with her. The Caterpillar scoffs at Hatcher being stupid and deserving his fate, and this angers Alice so that she draws her blade and slashes the man's throat. The Caterpillar falls down, choking, and gradually dies, taken abruptly by surprise.
With his death, the mermaid is ecstatic and Alice and Hatcher free the two prisoners. The tortured girl in the tank asks to die and she is left to die, as per her wish. As the bodyguard rushes in, Hatcher kills him in a bloodlust.
Alice, Hatcher and the mermaid escape through the tunnels they entered by, and as they do so, the Butterflies club falls apart into a dark pit forever due to the lack of magic holding it up, now that the evil Caterpillar is dead.
The Caterpillar was evil, a merciless sadist, taking delight in the suffering of others. He smashed a young girl's legs just so he could be amused. He was also making profit off others' suffering, and was simply put a complete insane, so much so that his prisoners expressed delight in his final defeat and death.
The Caterpillar knew more about Alice and Hatcher than they did about themselves, and he was somewhat helpful in relating Hatcher's hidden past which the man did need to know, but the Caterpillar only did this for his own evil ends, he revealed that Hatcher was a stupid man and deserved to have his daughter snatched from him. This proved the Caterpillar's downfall, however, as he was taken by surprise and had his end come.
Unlike the placid, nonsensical Caterpillar from the original book, this version of the Caterpillar was monstrous, brutal and sadistic, and ranks as one of the most barbaric in Alice in Wonderland villains.