mille2ml at gmail.com
Fri Sep 21 17:35:42 PDT 2007
The Devilbunnies newsgroup is, so far as I know, no longer alive. If
you've never heard of it, I'll summarize. Evil sentient rabbits.
"Everybody is familiar with that old Star Trek trick of diving towards
a star, circling it to gain speed, and then shooting off into space
with 'free' energy. It's been used in movies, TV, and just about every
other form of the media, in addition to being a text book maneuver for
captains everywhere. Nearly everyone does it inside Earth. But, but my
dear, what do you do when you need to go farther? Farther than Pluto?
You need something bigger, stronger, and more powerful. Black holes,
those have it all. They're too big, though, far away, and busy
gobbling up stars. But, but, but, there are smaller ones. Primordial
black holes. We could harness them.
"We'd need two. Put them in synchronized orbit about Mars in the
Lagrangian points, and their gravities would keep everything balanced,
out. Better yet, stick them just outside the Sun's Roche lobe, and
engineer their orbits just right to avoid eating Mercury. Then
interstellar travel would be a reality. We could pull the jackknife
maneuver on them from precalculated orbits, get all the energy we
needed in the ergoregion, and visit the stars. We've found other
planets; they might have life. Do you see how easy it would be!?"
Reeve leaned backwards, away from the reek of cheap wine breath. The
strange fever that burned in the man's eyes was still bright and
unmuddled by alcohol. He wore nothing but scraps of carpet that he
seemed to have tied together himself, the carpet pieces providing an
almost visible odor of beer and cigarettes. He stopped yelling just
enough to lean forward, rest both hands on the table and had his face
inches from Reeve's.
"Sounds great," Reeve agreed. He leaned backwards a little more, into
Wilson, and all three, Reeve, Wilson, and Barnes, stared at the
stranger. The other patrons of McConnell's Restraunt stared at the
stranger. The manager and assistant manager were hustling over,
staring at the stranger.
"Of course you don't!" screamed the man, and he stormed out through
the front doors, muttering to himself.
No one could think of anything to say. The manager checked that they
were all right and still hungry, and left too. Their food arrived, and
they ate in silence.
"What in the name of whacked-out hell was that?" Wilson finally
demanded. He was about to put down his fork but started ranting first.
"Did you smell that guy? He was like, like, an ashtray soaked in beer,
and left to rot under the stairs. I mean, what was that!?"
"Someone with strange thoughts on both travel and hygiene. Probably
nuts," Reeve responded.
"Most definitely. That was but one form of insanity. It can take many
others." Barnes didn't look up or stop eating. His thin, emaciated
fingers held the fork with a white knuckled grip.
"We noticed," Wilson replied. "Well, at least everybody's not openly
staring at us any more."
"They've gone back to what they have been doing. Staring at us
discreetly. Look at that guy straight back over Barnes head."
The man was watching them with bored curiosity, noticed the two boys
looking back at him, and just nodded. He sipped his drink and kept
right on watching. Reeve and Wilson looked away. Above him, the light
bulb flickered and popped, leaving just the eighteen neon beer signs
which were already doing a much better job. Reeve and Wilson
identically looked down at the table.
It had been washed once, probably clean then too. That time had been long ago.
"Why are we in this crappy trucker's bar?" demanded Wilson. His light
jacket make his body almost formless, and the dull brown blended in
"Because we didn't want to drive another fifty miles looking for
something, we needed gas regardless, and most importantly of all,
we're broke. We could afford this or Shop-n-Go," Reeve replied.
"Damn your logic."
"Sucks, I know."
They continued eating their food.
"But what about-
They finished, paid, and left. The strange man was still in the
parking lot, speaking loudly at a couple in a convertible, but didn't
notice or react to them. Hurrying to Wilson's car, they jumped in and
got back on the interstate as fast as possible. Traffic was light at
three in the morning, and they drove miles and miles towards the
"Stranger things have happened. Remember when your blender attacked
you about two weeks ago? That was the first of them, and that was
kinda crazy." Reeve, slouched in the passenger seat, was playing with
a toothpick. He was big black man, over two hundred pounds of weight
lifter and track runner. An odd combination, but he seemed to enjoy
"But you two saw that too. So it was real."
"Nah, Barnes, he's not saying it's crazy to have seen it. He's saying
it actually happened, but it was surprising that it did at all. Kind
"And then there were the rabbits in the refrigerator. Nine of them,
hiding behind the potato salad." Reeve didn't appear to have noticed
the interruption. "And when Wilson's brother's guitar tried to kill
his shoes. So one more weird guy ranting about star travel doesn't
scare me. He was a bum. He probably ranted at everyone. Forget it."
"But Reeve. That's why we think Barnes' pets are trying to kill him,
and we're fleeing the state at oh dark thirty. We should be
"Fine! I have no idea. Was that guy another one of them? Unlikely, but
possibly. You wanna be all paranoid? Fine! But it doesn't make any
difference, does it?"
"You think I'm being paranoid? Of course I'm being all paranoid.
Barnes' rabbits tried to kill me. Repeatedly!" Wilson yelled back.
Neither of them said anything.
"But the rabbits did try," added Barnes softly. "We saw their little
schemes, and broke their little plans, but they did indeed try. Evil
rabbits. Devil rabbits."
No one said anything for a long time after that.
"Please, pull over. I need to go," Barnes said much later.
They did, he did, and came back without anyone saying anything else.
More miles passed in the night.
By dawn they were well into the mountains, and climbing quickly. They
got gas again but didn't stop except to switch drivers. The road
bobbed and curled, frequently hanging on the side of cliffs over deep
ravines. The hills of the last two days had grown up. A few other
people were on the road but only a few. Above them the peaks were
green till the forests suddenly stopped, then dark and gray to the
snow line. They drove deeper into the mountains and farther up.
"Here we are."
Wilson groaned, woke up, and removed his seatbelt. The car wasn't
humming like it did when they were moving, and he felt Reeve turn it
off before finding his glasses. He looked around.
"Yeah, you found it. Good job."
They all pulled themselves from the car and stretched. Wilson was sure
he would never be able to feel his toes again, and his right hand was
numb. Reeve was already moving about oddly, stretching every muscle in
order but looking like a seizure in slow motion while he did so. The
open gravel driveway ended in a parking area thirty or forty feet
across and bordered on all sides by alpine meadow. The glaciers and
snows were resting far above them, and all they could see was more
fields on the surrounding peaks. The house was brick and had four
chimneys. It was two stories and looked out from the west face of Mt.
Allay. The long driveway behind them curled out of sight before
reaching the road. There was no one else to be found.
"Reeve, get the door. I'm gonna get the bags."
"Nah. There's just the two of them. Barnes didn't have time to get
anything, remember? Just the stuff he's carrying."
Reeve stretched again and trotted up to the front door. It was a huge
oak thing on a thick oak frame. No knocker, one large lock, and a old
fashioned handle. The key fit smoothly, and it opened silently.
Wilson and Barnes came up behind them, and he stepped aside to let
Barnes in first. Wilson handed him his bag, and they followed.
The foyer was short, and had wooden walls, ceiling, and roof. There
were several stands for jackets, no outlets, and two more doors only
six feet from the first. The air outside was cool in the fading summer
afternoon, so they left the main door open.
Inside that was a single large room, with one huge fireplace across
from them and another in the kitchen to their right. There was a
table, dark mahogany, by it and a recessed area in the floor before
the fire. The stairway was to the left, by the bathroom. The floor was
stone, and the walls and ceiling were wooden panels. All of the
windows were shuttered.
"Home, sweet home," Barnes commented. He went to the thermostat and
adjusted it, and then lead the way upstairs. There were four single
bedrooms, a master bedroom, a bathroom and a linen closet. He wandered
into the master bedroom and began finding out what was in the closets.
Wilson and Barnes took the ones on either side of his.
Wilson went in, dropped his half filled duffel bag on the bed and
looked around. The closet was empty except for a stack of fresh linen.
The bed was made. Both of the windows had their shutters drawn, and he
opened these before unpacking. His view looked down over the cars and
driveway, and the breeze wandered in. There was a dresser, a night
stand, a fireplace, and that was it. When his clothes were moved to
the dresser he went back out.
Reeve he could hear talking to Barnes in the master, so Wilson checked
the two vacant rooms and the bathroom. All were empty and in identical
states of cleanliness. The bathroom was unstocked. He shut the doors
and locked the two empty rooms.
"Three formal suits," Barnes was counting. "One tuxedo. One smoking
robe. Two bathrobes."
"What exactly did your parents think we were coming up here to do?" Reeve asked.
"Have high society dinners of mac and cheese. I don't know. A nice
spread of pants, shirts, socks, shoes, etc."
"You have a tuxedo?" Wilson asked, coming in. Barnes and Reeve looked
over, and Barnes nodded.
"I sent my parents my sizes when we were making plans to come up here
the first time. They left the day before yesterday, bringing Michelle
with them, so that would have given them what? Two days? When my
mother and Michelle get to shopping, nothing is impossible."
Wilson shrugged. "What about food? They leave us anything?"
"I'll go check," Reeve volunteered and hopped up. Down the stairs and
into the kitchen, he hummed and cracked each door, drawer, and shelf.
He found a cupboard full of dry goods, and a few things in the
freezer. All of the windows were closed and shuttered, and he opened
them before going back up. The whole place still smelled slightly of
cleaner and fabric softener, but other than that, nothing. He trotted
"They took all the guns," he announced.
"Did you think they wouldn't?"
"I had hoped."
"You all unpacked?" Wilson asked.
"Yeah. This place is just like I remember. When we were coming around
the mountain I saw the slopes on the other side. Huge, huge place. And
the little pit downstairs. The laundry's still downstairs closet,
"The locked door by the kitchen."
"Yeah, that one." Reeve sat down on the bed, rolled back to lay down
and cracked his head on Barnes' bag. He sat back up and grunted,
agonized. "Well, we still have that too."
"So what are we going to do? We're up here, we have all this space,
and what are we going to do?" Wilson took the bag, handed it to
Barnes, and turned back.
"It probably won't snow till October at the earliest. Hopefully, we'll
have dealt with this and will be back in school by then. No skiing.
Well, that seems like it leaves me with scale mountains, explore, run,
climb, and swim, and you with sit around and complain about no TV.
"I hate you."
"Boredom will be the least of our problems. Did you forget who stalks us?"
Wilson and Reeve exchanged a look and looked back at Barnes. "No, but
do you really think they will be able to find us? Way out here?"
"They have a consciousness. They can most certainly read. They've
already broken into my home once, and we cannot be sure the dogs will
stop them. When they look through the address book and find 'Vacation
House' and an address, they'll take note. They may have been
monitoring the phone and tracing all my calls for weeks, waiting and
watching for a chance to pounce. We are being hunted, gentlemen. And
it will only be a short time before we are found. Make yourself
comfortable, but only shortly, as we must yet plan." He waved whatever
it was inside the bag at them; the whole thing looking like a mutated
Wilson and Reeve exchanged another look and nodded.
"All right, they're coming. I'm going to go clean the car and lock up."
"We're going to need to get food. We have some, but not much."
"Ooooh." Wilson's eyes lit up. "Yes, let's go eat."
"Sounds good. Check your bandages first." Barnes nodded at them and
walked into his closet with the bag. He clicked on the light and shut
the door behind him.
Wilson opened his mouth, but shut it again. He rose and went to his
room to get the first aid kit, leaving the other two. Most of his
injuries were on his arms and shoulders, long thin animal bites and
claw marks. The claws were in sets of seven. It didn't look like they
were bleeding any more now, and he left them alone. He put his shirt
back on and went out.
"I'm all right. Reeve, you want to check?"
"Yeah. I should." He rose, took the box, and walked past Wilson. In
the doorway he stopped, faced him and said quietly, "It was something.
We know we saw something. His theory has that working for it."
"Yeah, but now we're way the hell off in the middle of nowhere with
him and that thing he's carrying around. And he's been getting worse."
"He's fine. And you saw what those things did to you." Reeve almost
poked Wilson's shoulder indicatively.
"I'm not saying we shouldn't have come. Yeah, they did," he waved at
his injuries, "and he did stop them, and yeah. It's Barnes. He's
always been like that. It's just, these delusions of his are-" He
"Now you think he might be right?"
"I'm not saying I believe it."
"Of course. But they have been his delusions longer than ours. He's
been talking random crazy talk for years, and we'd just ignored it.
Now we can't ignore it. Relax. Let's see what happens next."
Reeve then took the first aid kit, and went into his own room. Wilson
frowned at everything briefly, then went downstairs, wondering what
food was to be found.
For dinner, much later, they had found a small but much cleaner
restraunt, Savil's, that made them happy to forget McConnell's. The
food was cheap and good, and they sat in the back where they could
watch all the entrances and exits.
"So, what are we going to do?" Reeve asked.
"You want to talk about it here?" Wilson looked around. There was a
family one table away, but no one else was close.
"No, just what we," he waved at the three of them, "are going to do.
"Well then, what about it? You think they're going to find us," Wilson
addressed Barnes. "How much time do you think we have?"
"More than a day. Less than a week. However, with minimum effort we
can build a fortress, impenetrable to all forms of extraneous attack.
The house shall become like a castle, symbolizing nothing but death
and horror to any who plan violence upon ourselves and our persons."
"More specifically, I was wondering about money, food, and maybe some
kind of recreation," Reeve clarified.
"Oh. No idea. Get summer jobs, I guess," Barnes replied.
Wilson lifted his glass, found it empty, and put it back down. "Doing
what? There's that resort, and it's right around the other side of the
mountain, but what could we do at a ski place in the summer? Aren't
"Probably not, actually. A lot of them stay open all year. There's
probably mountain biking, trails, hiking, and the like." Reeve was
most of the way finished with his brazed chicken and found his drink
empty as well. "I bet that people still come up here to get away too.
You know, leave the kids for a weekend, see the mountains, yadda
yadda. I have a cousin who does that every summer for a week."
"Ditches his kids?"
"By mid-summer, his kids are only too happy to not see dad for a week.
They stay with friends, and he and his wife don't have to put up with
them. Everybody wins."
"Hmm." The thought of being without his grandmother for a while was
not unattractive to Wilson.
"Actually, we probably don't need jobs that badly. While I'd be bored
without one, if it comes down to it, can't we bum off your uber-rich
parents for a while?" Reeve turned and addressed Barnes.
"Probably, but I'd rather not. We would then have to put up with their
'assistance,'" He gave the word an odd stress. "constantly. Besides,
we have the house till the end of August. We should provide for
"Fall back plan?" Reeve asked.
"Emergency plan. You know what happens when my parents think they
aren't paying enough attention to me," Barnes stated.
"But they don't pay any attention to you," Wilson interjected.
"Which is enough, as far as I can tell. Haven't you come to a few of
our family bonding nights?" Barnes replied.
Both the others noted sagely and recalled shared pain.
"Well, so be it. We need jobs, hobbies, and something for each of us
to do individually so we don't wind up killing each other in the
night," Reeve continued. "Personally, I'm going to that resort and
going to see if I can get some relatively decent job. Besides, we
should be safe in public places." He looked down and found his glass
still empty. "Wilson, why don't you see if you can wait tables or
something here. They obviously need help, and it's only a few miles
from the house. You are the one with a car."
Wilson shrugged. Not nearly as tall as Reeve, he weighed about the
same. He had short, dark hair that was almost black and brown, murky
eyes. Most of his clothing was nondescript and loose, and now he wore
a typical tee-shirt and jeans. Wilson could loose himself in the crowd
if the crowd was just him. "Yeah, I could do the waiter thing. Done it
"All right. You're on table detail, I'm going to go help rich people
with stress, and Barnes, being the rich person with stress, is going
to-" Reeve trailed off, expectantly.
"Practice. I have my stipend, and I'm going to practice."
"Barnes, you have no life."
"I yet breath."
"Wasn't what he meant," Wilson clarified.
"Regardless." Barnes shrugged.
"Regardless, I'm still thirsty. Where is that waiter?" Reeve looked
around. He suddenly noticed that the family that had been near them
was gone, and four dark men in business suits had taken their place.
As Reeve continued to look around for their server, he noticed that
both of the other nearby tables held two dark men in business suits,
and none of them seemed to be talking. The people on the veranda
seemed very far away, and their voices carried only faintly.
"Barnes, what's that paranoia of yours saying?" Reeve was suddenly very worried.
Barnes glanced around briefly. All eight of the men turned and looked
at him in dreadful unison and smiled. "Violence and bloodshed,
violence and bloodshed, violence and bloodshed." Barnes began to smile
that horrible, nasty smile that meant he was about to release his self
"Oh, crap," Wilson looked around and was very, very scared.
They were in a booth with Barnes having one seat by himself and Reeve
and Wilson sharing a bench, Reeve on the outside. The nearest exit was
a rear fire door that was about five feet from the booth. The light
was low, but decent, and the various suit clad men sat at tables with
separate stools. Smooth jazz came from a jukebox in the corner, and
there were two fans that moved the air and muffled noise. Reeve
analyzed the situation.
"When I say so, run," his voice was barely audible to those around
him. "Aim for the exit, we'll make it back to the house on foot."
"The car?" Wilson whispered.
"I think I shall amuse these guests of ours," Barnes reached out,
lifted an ornamental serving spoon, and held it gently.
"Eight on one, Barnes. Get ready to run," Reeve countered.
"They look like they have no skill, no finesse."
"Eight on one, Barnes."
"You two are here."
"No, we won't be. I, not being a retarded whitey, am going to run like
my butt's on fire in a second. And Wilson, who's simply not retarded,
is going to be right behind me."
"You have a spoon, dude. Would it make you feel better if you got to
make the distraction?"
"There will be-"
"Of course. Now start distracting!"
Barnes flicked the spoon at the face of one even as he rose. The
strange men, also rising, involuntarily flicked their eyes at the
spoon as it hurled past, and completely missed the booth table come
flying right behind. The one who dodged the spoon missed the later,
and the closest four went down in a pile of wooden splinters and
chicken with yellow rice. Reeve, already over the opposing seat and
reaching for the door, heard more noises and the start of screaming
behind him. He crashed through the emergency exit, and alarms wailed.
Wilson crashed into his back as he paused to reconnoiter, and the both
of them split, running in separate directions. Reeve realized almost
immediately his direction was taking him to a dead end of dumpsters
and piled waste, and turned and sprinted after Wilson. Barnes appeared
in the fire exit as he passed, holding what looked like a broken table
leg. He yanked the door shut, spun the wooden stick in his hand and
smashed it through the fire door and into the door frame on the far
side, effectively barring it. He then sprinted the way the others had
He caught up with them at the mouth of the alley. They were waiting,
just inside the shadows.
"Sorry, man. Listen, I kinda panicked and-" Wilson began.
"Forget it. What do we do now?"
Both of them turned to face Reeve, who was looking at the light
traffic and thinking very hard. "Wilson, you drove. It's how far back
to the house?"
"Maybe ten minutes by car?"
"Two or three. Why?"
"Because if they found us here, this quickly, they almost certainly
know what your car looks like. We'll go on foot."
"Two miles? At night? Up an mountain!?" Wilson complained.
Behind them there were several thuds, like someone was trying to force the door.
"Yup," Reeve replied.
"I'm game," Wilson agreed.
"Then let's go!"
Leading the other two, Reeve took off at a good run. He took them down
the street, around a corner, down another street, and through one of
the small side streets of the skiing village. There were winter sport
stores on all sides, but they were all closed by now and very few
people were out. No one paid them a second glance, and they ducked
through several more intersections, changing directions almost at
random. He lead them through alleys if he could clearly see the far
end, and finally paused behind a strip mall dumpster overlooking an
open field. No one seemed to be chasing them, but Reeve doubted he'd
be able to hear footsteps over Wilson's wheezing.
"Barnes, take this." He reached over and lifted a short metal pole
from the ground. It had once been part of a jack set, but was now
rusty and forgotten. "Think you can dissuade any pursuit, as
"If they are mortals, and not strange demons."
"No, worse. Rabbits."
Reeve was too nonplussed to reply.
Barnes pulled off his sweater and wrapped it about the handle. He tied
it off and spun the whole thing in one hand a few times, looking
thoughtful and calm. He nodded. "It is well weighted."
Reeve managed to regain presence of mind to speak, and he turned to
Wilson. "You all right?"
"Never better." He seemed to have his breathing down to deep breaths.
"Where are we?"
"The opposite end of town. We're on the north side. We're going to
head that-a-way, go around and behind that shoulder over there, and
then turn back south." He gestured while he spoke, pointing at the
ridge that came between Gaskin's peak and it's western neighbor, and
the small wooded gap in it. There was a road that lead there, coming
from somewhere off to their left, but everything else was open field
to the trees on the ridge a quarter mile away.
"Throw off pursuit?"
"If there is any. I wish we could avoid the open like that, but we can't."
"Tonight's the eighth?"
Reeve blinked. "Huh?"
"The date. It's the eighth, right?" Wilson asked.
"What? Yes. Why?"
"Almost new moon. And it's going to rise behind those clouds." Wilson
pointed. "Once we get a bit away from these building's it'll be almost
"Oh." Reeve considered. "Excellent."
"I'm ready." Wilson breathed deeply and nodded.
"They can most likely move faster than us, and track by smell."
"And?" Reeve prompted.
"Then we have no time to waste. On three?"
"Okay. One, two, three," Reeve counted, and they all took off.
They fled as fast they could. Wilson had been right, and the feeble
lights of the town didn't seem catch them at all. The meadow was
mostly level, but they were afraid run because of rocks. Again, Reeve
leading, Wilson following, and Barnes following him, they hustled
through the knee high grass. Nothing happened when they crossed the
road, and by the time they got to the woods they had still not seen
any cars. Reeve followed the road for a bit before doubling back and
jumping off one side where a fresh oil stain covered most of the road
and bled down the side. He went down it and followed the edge of the
tree line. They were now out of sight of the town. They kept on going
for a while, moving as quietly as possible. There was almost no light,
and they walked just outside the woods, heading towards a high peak
just before them. Already the ridge was becoming a part of a long
hill, and the pasture to their left fell away to a vale between the
mountain beneath them and one to the north.
"I don't see anyone," Wilson said much later. He spoke quietly,
concentrating on walking quickly and safely, but kept looking back
over his shoulder.
Reeve looked back, then forward, and finally around, taking in the
panoramic view. There were few roads distantly visible, and above them
the sky was bright with stars. The cars below didn't seem to be
stopping. "Me neither. You need to rest?"
"Not yet. Let's travel," Wilson refused.
Reeve looked back again, this time looking at the other. Wilson was
breathing deeply, and was stumbling along in the night, walking
carefully and frequently bent low enough to run his hands across the
ground in front of him. The slope was steep enough to make it almost a
necessity. Wilson looked up, caught Reeve's eye, and grinned.
"We talked a lot about what we would do if this happened, you know?
Some crazy night with bad guys, adventure, and maybe a damsel in
"Yeah." Reeve grinned back and turned forward again. "But I haven't
met any damsel's yet. Just smelly, crazy guys."
"I feel gypped."
"But will this be a fun movie, or one like Brazil?" Barnes asked,
almost sounding rhetorical.
"Brazil?" Reeve turned again, just for a moment.
"Yeah. All the good guys die and the girl too. Kinda funny, though."
Barnes shrugged. "Still, great movie."
"Nah, man. Brazil only had one hero. We've got three. We're like-"
"Please don't say musketeers," Reeve interrupted.
"Oh, come on."
"I hate that movie."
"Every one I've seen!"
The other two muttered something to each other, and Reeve snorted.
"Listen, the plot was weak, and the whole thing was just too
contrived. Love, justice, bravery, win out, boy gets girl, yadda,
yadda, yadda. Where's the drama? You know from the beginning how the
formula's going to work, so there's no interest."
"But it was one of the stories that made the formula!" Wilson
countered. "It's a classic."
"So? Rocks may have been classic weapons, but I'm not taking one into a fight."
"You would if you didn't have anything else."
"But I do! The movie business is a constantly evolving world. It's
like all of literature. Age doesn't necessarily make anything better.
You want a great old movie, take The General. Black and white, and I
laughed so hard I early cried. The Three Musketeers, whether story or
book, simply isn't that good."
"Yeah, but you can't judge drama versus comedy."
"It isn't really even drama."
"They're totally different goals." Wilson ignored the interruption.
"The one is meant to evoke a reaction which necessarily has to be new
each time. The other is a journey into feelings and motivations as old
"More running, less talking," Barnes interrupted. The other stopped,
looked at him, and then followed his gaze down towards the freeway
below. Two set of headlights were coming out of the pass behind them
and running slowly along the road. The trio hustled over the shoulder
of Mt. Gaskins, and the car vanished from sight. "We only have another
mile or two to go. Whether or not we're pursued, the house is still
the safest place for us to be."
"What if we are?" Wilson asked. "Pursued, I mean."
"We'll think of something," Reeve reassured him. After another moment,
"Hey, Barnes. You've probably thought about this a lot more then us."
"Running through the night, chased, all that. The whole adventuring
thing, only with these guys chasing us, not some vague shadowy monster
or enemy. Think we'll find any damsels?"
Barned didn't immediately respond, and when he did it was thoughtful.
"This is never the way I pictured it. Odd that, as in retrospect it
seems the most likely way this could come to a head, but I always
assumed I'd have more time to prepare."
"I always meant to fast for seven days and nights, drinking nothing
but spring water and eating only pure salt. Then I would take enough
peyote to kill three men and lie naked under the desert sun, allowing
my demons and gods to fight to the death for ownership of my soul.
Then, listening to the whispered teachings of my new master, I would
practice the sword until we became one."
"You and your demons, or your sword?" Reeve asked curiously.
"Either. Or all three. Whatever."
"See, this is why you never get a girl," Wilson replied.
"You can't tell chicks stuff like that."
"I thought women dig honesty?"
"They don't. They only claim they do to weed through the men they do
and don't like faster. Trust me, lie about this stuff."
The two sets of headlights pulled up, side by side, in the parking
area before the house. Reeve and Wilson were trapped in the glare,
scared to run and scared to stop. In the glare they couldn't make out
anything about the cars or their passengers, but heard doors opening
and slamming. The headlights dimmed and went out, leaving them almost
blind with the afterglow.
"New bugs?" Reeve finally said.
He was right. Instead of expensive European sedans, the two cars were
late model Volkswagen bugs, one light green and the other a soft pink.
One had a fuzzy monkey clinging to the car antenna. The eight men who
had climbed out had blank expressions and sunglasses, and each wore a
different color leisure suit, pink, yellow, pale blue, etc.
Reeve was too non-plussed to run.
Wilson, on the other hand, wasn't. He grabbed his friend and started
hauling him towards the front door. The men from the cars hurried
The thick oaken door swung open before them, and with light spilling
around him, Barnes emerged. The men stopped, and Barnes glid to
between them and his friends. Smiling, he separated his feet to just
over shoulder width apart, pointed his toes almost at the men, and
crouched, resting his hand on the long, carved handle of the family
"Oh, somebody's about to get their shit all hacked up," Wilson commented.
Their pursuers charged, Barnes shot forward off his left to meet them,
and Reeve and Wilson made sure they were well out of the way. In fact,
they moseyed town to one of the porch benches and sat down.
"Poker?" Reeve asked.
"Not enough light."
Someone screamed, horribly, and flew through the air a good thirty
feet. He smashed upside down into the wall above the door, and tumbled
off to collapse into a heap.
"Don't suppose you've got anything to eat on you?"
"Nope. Probably something in the house though."
"Nah. On the off hand chance he needs some help, I want to be around."
"Good thought. Besides, someone might be lurking or something."
"Yeah, that too."
"I am concerned though. These guys seem to be relatively normal, if
weird, humans. You think the whole rabbit thing is well, crap?"
There was more screaming, and a torso plunged through the air. The two
strolled over to it, and fount the de-legged individual pushing
himself upright, and trying to waddle back into the fray on his hands.
They jumped on him.
He had metal skin, and instead of blood and intestines, wiring and
bearing grease was protruding from his waist. While Reeve was holding
his arms back, Wilson tried to get a hold of it's head, and the chest
popped open. Something leapt out, screaming war cries.
Wilson snagged it.
"…" Reeve commented.
"…" Wilson replied.
"Lemme go! I'll bite off your heads and eat your toes!" the rabbit screamed.
"…"Reeve said again. The human torso was inert now, and he let it go.
Small thermonuclear explosions were going off between his ears, and
his mouth opened and shut with only a faint gurgling noise.
"Uhhhh. Well, guess Barnes isn't crazy." Wilson held the struggling
fur ball away from him, holding it behind the neck with one hand. The
small rabbit struggled and flailed impotently, trying to get his claws
or teeth into someone. His cute little face was screwed tight in
"Graaah!" Reeve yelled and stalked off, shaking his head.
"It's a rabbit," Wilson stated.
"Of course not! I am no rabbit!"
"Then what are you?"
"A devilbunny in fact!" Clear pride came into the bunny's voice. "I am
the harbinger of dread, fluffy death that shall destroy you all! Now
Let me go, ape, so I can slaughter you efficiently."
"Fooey. Well, worth a shot."
Wilson boggled again.
"Oh, hey, you got something on your face. By the lip."
"Huh?" Instinctively, Wilson checked.
"Dieeeee!" The bun screamed and flailed mightily. His little fuzzy
paws waved about in all directions but did him no good.
"You're a RABBIT!" Wilson screamed, suddenly and violently losing
control. "Cute, little, talking rabbit! An evil rabbit of death, but a
rabbit! A rabbit! Peter Cottontail style! Aahhhhhhh!" He lost the
ability to put coherent words together and just made noises, shaking
his captive desperately.
"Eyuggy yuggy yuggy yuggy yuggy," replied the bun, being flailed
around in all directions.
Wilson finally got a hold of himself, breathed deeply a few times, and
just waited for his brain to start functioning. The bunny was swaying
about in his grasp like a drunken sailor on shore.
"Ooooooh. High there cute little stars. Twinkie twinkie."
"Okay. Sorry." Wilson calmed down. He examined his prisoner.
The bunny was large, for a rabbit, possibly the size of a wild hare.
It was a light gray, with black spots, and the tips of its ears were
white. Clutched by the scruff of it's neck, it seemed hunched over,
and its paws were moving in slow circles.
"Don't worry about it. Your kind seems to have problems coping with
"Um, okay." Wilson was being forgiven by a rabbit for possibly giving
it whiplash, when it had been trying to kill him. It was a rabbit. He
was fairly confident he could deal with that now. "Anyway, listen up,
you! I'm going to, well, um, I'm going to do something and when I do
you shall really wish I hadn't!"
"Terrifying," deadpanned the bunny.
"Good. Uh, do you have a name?"
"You don't want to hear it."
"Trust me, you don't want to hear it."
"I refuse to trust anything that wants to kill me. Your name, rabbit!"
"Fuzzy Clovereater. And it's bunny. Or bun for short."
Wilson examined the bun calmly. "Fuzzy Clovereater?"
"Yep. 'at's me."
Wilson burst out laughing.
"Shut up," demanded the bunny.
"Stupid little bunny of death named Fuzzy Clovereater!" Wilson was
barely able to keep his hands on the rabbit as his body convulsed with
laughter. Fuzzy made a few half hearted escape attempts, and then just
lay still, resigned.
"I get no respect," he soliloquied. "No respect. Humans, buns, no one.
Come on, I'm just another bun, trained in the ancient ways of fuzzy
combat, and a menace to all that get in my way, and I just get no
respect. Hey, you. Human."
"Eh?" Wilson still had tears in his eyes.
"You got a name, human?"
"Oh, yeah. Wilson. Wilson Firefoot."
The bun blinked. "That's just wrong on so many levels."
"Never mind. Listen, Wilson, left breast pocket on the suit down
there. Can you pass me my cigarettes? Please?"
"Look. This is just one of those times when I really need a cigarette,
Without exactly knowing why, Wilson rooted around, found the
cigarettes and a lighter, and passed them to Fuzzy. The bun removed
one, stuck it in his mouth and used the small, oddly shaped lighter. A
couple drags later he seemed much more relaxed.
"All right, Wilson. Let's talk business. You aren't going to kill me,
so you may as well let me go."
"You don't want me to do that." Wilson replied. He sniffed the wind a
few times, and turned around until the smoke was blowing away from his
face. Seeing the adorable little fur ball calmly puffing away was the
last straw, and every bit of his common sense abandoned him. It was
simply too surreal for him to worry.
"Sure you do. And in fact, I can probably make it worth your while. I
have these cards-"
"No, you don't understand. You," he emphasized the word, "don't want
me to let you go."
Wilson poked a thumb over his shoulder.
Behind them, all but two of the badly dressed men were lying in piles
and heaps. Those that were left were running in stark terror around
the house, pursued by Barnes. They were too scared to separate and
thus kept side by side, running in abject terror from the maniac who
was chasing them.
"I mean you don't want me to let you go. If Barnes sees you, you die.
Instantly. End of story. He's got these issues about rabbits, and more
importantly, he's got a sword."
"Not a rabbit, devilbunny," Fuzzy corrected.
"But I see your point," Fuzzy acknowledged. "He hacked through us like
a thresher. How sharp is that thing?"
"His father made it. Something about replicating ancient sword smith
techniques with modern materials and equipment. I dunno." He shrugged.
"Anyway, my prisoner you are, and my prisoner you'll stay. And were I
you, I'd like it."
"You got it, warden," and Fuzzy Clovereater continued puffing away.
The vorpal blade went snicker snack one last time and went silent.
Wilson watched the small shapes of the fleeing devilbunnies scamper
into the night. Reeve returned finally, still looking wide about the
eyes. Wilson turned to him.
"Doing all right now?"
"Better. Much better. We seem to be safe, so that's always relaxing."
"Have the rabbits fled?" Barnes asked as he came around the corner.
"All but this one," Wilson replied.
"Excellent. When I say pull, throw him to me."
"It's a matter of tradition."
"Hacking up rabbits is a tradition?"
"No, saying pull when someone throws a target."
"But he's not pulling anything," Reeve objected.
"I told you, its a tradition."
"Hacking up rabbits is a reasonable tradition. This isn't. Why don't
you say 'toss' or 'now' or something?" Wilson replied.
"I told you, its a tradition!"
"Guys, can we discuss this first?" asked the rabbit in question.
"Just throw me the rabbit! Pull!"
"I'm not throwing you the rabbit if you say pull. Say toss," Wilson refused.
"Wilson, why are you cutting on the man's traditions?"
Fuzzy Clovereater winced visibly at the word cut.
"Because its a dumb tradition."
"A dumb one!"
"Fine. Look, I agree with you. Can we negotiate a new word, and then
you throw me the rabbit?" Barnes admitted.
"Very open minded of you," Reeve complimented him.
"Gentlemen, we really should discuss this first," Fuzzy interjected.
"We are," Wilson told him. "How about throw?"
"Plebian," Barnes replied.
"Not the word, the whole cutting me up in general," the rabbit said again.
"That's a good one. How about cut?" Reeve suggested.
"But he's not doing the cutting?" Barnes asked.
"That is true," Wilson agreed.
"What about now?" Reeve countered.
"Not now, we haven't decided yet." Neither of the others seemed convinced.
"No, not now. The word now. Barnes says now, Wilson knows when to
throw the rabbit, now, and then Barnes slices it into bits."
Fuzzy winced again, took a long panicky drag on his cigarette, and
began to develop a twitch.
"Is that agreeable?" Reeve asked.
"I'm okay with that."
"So am I."
"Look out! Rabbits!" screamed Fuzzy.
All three boys yelped and jumped. Barnes landed in a ready stance,
Reeve landed behind Barnes, and Wilson threw away whatever he was
holding and looked for a somewhere to run.
They froze for a few seconds, but nothing happened.
"Where're the rabbits?"
"There's one." Reeve pointed at the lone small shape that was fleeing
hells for bells across the lawn towards the underbrush. Barnes looked
at Wilson. Reeve looked at Wilson. Wilson tried to look at Wilson but
couldn't, and then realized why they were looking at him.
"Sorry guys. I dropped the rabbit."
"It's bun!" Fuzzy cried from the underbrush.
"Whatever!" he yelled back.
"Let's go inside," Reeve suggested.
"Yeah," Barnes agreed.
And they did.
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