I’m not sure whose idea it really was, but Nicholas Hughes and I have challenged each other to a “Blog War” with a topic of RABBITS. We have two judges who will use the following criteria:
- Use of Rabbits
- Application of Rabbits
Who knows if I’ve followed these criteria. I hope so, but mostly I just had fun writing my story. 🙂 I hope you enjoy it, too. I would love to hear your thoughts about it in the comments section. Please, please leave your feedback! I would appreciate it greatly. Also, you should go check out my competition, Nicholas Hughes. He’s witty and smart. This is a real and true challenge for me, folks. Enjoy!
I walked my daughter to the bus stop on an unremarkable day. The sun shone just over the hills causing the dewdrops to sparkle. The stroll home was always calm and crisp in the morning. I breathed in the fresh scent of damp grass and autumn creeping through the air while my eyes scanned the yards of my neighbors in search of small woodland creatures.
This particular morning, the rabbits were in a tizzy, hopping through the wet grass. One in particular caught my attention, but he seemed to stay just out of my line of sight, always a hop behind the turn of my head. I sensed his nearness, though. It was as if he was trying to get as close to me as possible without being seen. I had to laugh at the prospect because that is exactly how I often wished to approach the rabbits.
I was so intent upon tracking this brown bundle of fluff to get his picture that I paid no attention to anything else. That was a mistake. To my surprise, a pack of rabbits jumped out of the brush under the pine tree and circled me. I was trapped within a band of floppy ears and big round eyes.
Barely had I blinked when I found myself standing in a forest on the side of a hill. My home and my neighbors, all gone; they’d disappeared in that one blink of an eye. The ground was gradual in its ascent but I still felt off-kilter. Was it from the land or from the way I’d arrived on the spot? I couldn’t tell.
My eyes darted around the trees and through the underbrush, searching for the rabbits who’d just seconds before surrounded me. They’d vanished. No, they hadn’t disappeared—only I had.
My surroundings were completely unfamiliar, and the shock of my abduction—for I could call it nothing less—sent me to my knees. Should I call for help? Why am I here? How can I get home? The questions piled up in my mind like an avalanche ready to suffocate. I must have been crying because the quiet of the forest was interrupted by a strange voice.
“Hush now, human. Tears will do you no good.”
“Who’s there?” My head couldn’t swivel fast enough, and I was blinded by the tears clouding my vision.
“It is I, Relgon. Look down, human.”
I wiped the tears from my eyes and there before me was the brown rabbit I’d tried to get a picture of on my street back home. “Rabbits don’t talk. Who’s out there?” I looked around again but still saw no one.
“This one does.”
“Who’s playing tricks on me?”
“No one is tricking you, woman. I brought you here. I need your help.”
I still had trouble believing what I was hearing. This rabbit seemed to be talking. The voice was coming from him. There were no strings, no wires, no nothing attached to him. “This is crazy. I can’t believe my eyes or ears. This isn’t happening.”
“How is my ability to talk any more insane than the method of travel which brought you here?”
“Good point. Still, I must be dreaming. This is all a nightmare with rabbit gangs who abduct people’s mothers and talk to them in creepy forests.”
“That is more ridiculous than the truth, woman. Besides, I was not always a rabbit. Once I was a man, something similar to you humans.”
“So what, I just kiss you and you turn into a prince?”
“Don’t be stupid. I need you to steal an egg from a very tall tree.”
“You’re crazy. Not me. I—“
“Please. I can’t return you home until I have the egg.”
I stood up quickly and almost lost my balance. My hands clenched into fists at my sides. “What do you mean, you can’t return me home?”
I watched him hop around and climb onto an old dead log. He sat back on his haunches; one ear flopped to the side and one stood straight up, moving back and forth. Everything seemed quiet and soon he seemed to calm down as well. “Listen, it took all the power I had left to bring you here. You are my best chance. Help me get the egg, and I’ll get you back to your people.”
“I just want to go home,” I said, desperate to keep the hot tears from spilling afresh from my already burning eyes.
“You will—I promise—just as soon as you help me.”
I sat on the log next to the rabbit and stared off into the distance. “Why is this egg important?”
“It’s not a real egg. It’s a diamond stone of my world. They are rare, holding great and terrible magic. It is the only way to make me a man again . . . and send you home.”
“So what you’re saying is, if I get it, you’ll send me home?”
“Yes, woman. Haven’t I already made that clear?”
I had very little choice. I needed to get home to my family. “Fine. I’ll do it, but you had better keep your word little rabbit.”
“Relgon. My name is Relgon. Follow me.” He hopped up the hill in quick, short leaps. His ears pressed down along his neck.
We climbed and climbed. Fallen trees littered the forest floor and were dotted in between by pokey bushes and sharp needles from the trees above. We kept climbing higher and higher.
The rabbit stopped in front of me, his soft brown ears perked up. “Quickly! Hide!”
I shrugged my shoulders and looked around for a place to duck down. My eyes caught sight of a huge log, long dead and partially rotted away. I jumped over and slid myself as far as possible under the decaying wood. The scent of it was strong in my nostrils but served to bring back pleasant childhood memories.
The rabbit joined me there, huddling up in the crook of my neck, his long fur tickling my face. His ears stayed erect, listening for the sounds of whatever it was that had spooked him to pass. It seemed like ages before he released a rabbitish sigh of relief and hopped out.
“All clear. Let’s go.”
I grumbled as I pulled my body from under the tree. I took in the sight of my clothes covered in dirt and smeared stains. “What was that all about?” I didn’t move from where I stood while I waited for an answer. Instead, I picked at my head, pulling out little bits of moss and wood fragments. I didn’t even want to imagine how my hair must look.
“They were the forest walkers. A dangerous bunch and you of all humans must not be seen.”
That confused me, but he’d already started hopping away. The foreboding in his voice was enough to get my legs moving. The climb went on for at least another twenty minutes, but the hill looked to be tapering off, and the color of the sky became more evident. Seeing the sky did nothing to set my mind at ease. My heart began to beat against my rib cage. In my distraction, I tripped, falling to the forest floor with an ungraceful thump.
“Rabbit, where are we?”
“In the forest.”
“No, I mean where are we? The sky . . . it’s never ever that color purple. Ever.” His hesitation caught my full attention. “Rolo—whatever your name is, I won’t go another step until you answer me.”
It would have been comical, the look on that rabbit’s face, had the circumstances been different. “This is not your world, woman of earth. This is an alternate one, but similar in many ways. Only here, the sky is purple and animals can talk.”
He must have assumed it was explanation enough because he hopped up the hillside once again. I knew now I’d have to trust him. I really did have no other choice if I was ever going to make it home to my family. The longer I spent here, the more I knew it wasn’t a dream.
We crested the ridge but my rabbit companion jumped at my face, knocking me backward. “Get down, you fool!” His whispered command was harsh and hot as he blew the words in my face.
“Ouch! Stupid rabbit, what was that for?” I pulled myself onto my belly and started plucking more moss and other bits of forest from my nest-like hair.
“The forest walkers are guarding the tree on the ridge. We’re too late to do this the easy way. Keep your head down. We’ll never make it if they see you.”
“If they’re guarding it, how do you expect to get close? I’m not exactly a small thing now am I?”
“No, you certainly are not.”
“Thanks for agreeing. Really helps a gal’s self-esteem.” He looked confused. “Never mind, Rabbit. Tell me what we’re doing here.”
“We’ll sneak around over there to the back of that tent. Once inside we must borrow some clothing for you to blend in. After that, the task will be to make it through the camp to that tree over there.”
I followed with my eyes where he pointed and saw the tallest tree. It wasn’t just a tall tree, it was so tall the top disappeared into the clouds. “Hold on. You want me to climb up there and retrieve a big rock? You are crazy. I’ll fall off and die!”
“It is the only way for us both. You will do this or die trying because we both know you want to get back to your family.”
“What if I get caught?”
“Women of your age and appearance are revered. No one will question you once you’re dressed properly. Trust me, these forest walkers would rather die than interfere with an old wise woman.”
“Old? Seriously? I’m only thirty-five.”
“Yes, in this world, that is old for forest women.”
“As comforting as all that is, I still don’t think I can do it.”
“Then say good-bye to your old life. You shall never get it back.”
I wanted nothing better than to rip his cute bunny ears off his furry head at that moment. I think I must be the epitome of the bull in a china shop when I feel trapped, but with as much control as I could muster, I gritted my teeth. “Fine, let’s go.”
I crawled through the bushes along the ridge, just out of sight, behind my rabbit captor. The only thought on my mind was that maybe he deserved his fluffy punishment. After all, it couldn’t be that bad being a cute, brown rabbit who could talk. Besides, what kind of good guy abducted people and stole them away to entirely different worlds? Seriously, he could have at least asked first.
“I’ll make sure it’s empty.” He wiggled under the edge of the tent, and his head popped back out a few seconds later. “All clear.”
The adrenaline was sneaking back into my system, and I could hear the rapid beat of my heart in my ears. What I was doing was insane and dangerous. Part of me still believed it was a dream, but the truth overshadowed any wishful thinking.
Inside the tent was dim. I caught sight of the rabbit perched on top of a bulky brown chest. “In here, woman.”
“I have a name, you know.”
“I don’t care what your name is. Open the chest—quickly.”
I suppose I realized that sharing my name really didn’t matter, but the dismissal of its significance still stung. I lifted the lid without bothering to wait for him to move. He scurried off and landed on the ground with a thud. We both paused to listen. No one came.
I scrambled to change into the coarse clothing. The pants were too big, but I found a thin rope in the trunk that would serve as a belt. The tunic was large. I pulled it on over my cotton t-shirt. The hood was also bigger than necessary, but would do quite well to hide my less than pristine hair-do. Trust me, once curly hair gets in a scuffle there’s not much to be done in the way of taming.
“Hurry. It will be dark soon.”
“But it’s barely midday.”
“Your earth is different, remember?”
“Why couldn’t you just get help from someone here, in your own world?”
“It’s impossible, but there’s no time to explain. Walk out the front of the tent, keep the hood low, and do not speak to anyone. No one, is that understood?”
“This had better work, Rabbit.”
I picked him up and pulled him under the rough material of the tunic then took a deep breath. I folded the tent flap back and held that breath while I waited for one of the many forest walkers milling about to see me and try to stop me. When no one paid me any attention, I let out my breath and stepped from the doorway.
The young men reminded me of stories of Robin Hood and his merry men. If this story played out anything like that one, then I was definitely on the wrong side. I wasn’t sure, but I thought it would be better if I could care less. Sadly, I could, which could make it very hard for me to get home if things didn’t work out according to this rabbits crafty little plan.
“Rabbit, I’m almost to the tree. What do I do?”
“Be quiet, woman! When you get to the tree there are hidden holds for you to climb up. First you must sing the guard to sleep.”
“Hold up. You never said I’d have to sing.”
“You must sing. Why argue about it now?”
“I’m having second thoughts about helping you, Rogain. Something seems very off here.”
“For one thing, my name, Relgon. Now, you can doubt all you want, but I tell you true, this is your only way home.”
I narrowed my eyes and clenched my jaw, not that anyone could see me under the hood. “Fine. Whatever. I can’t climb and carry you, so you’ll have to wait down here. What do I sing to make this guy sleep?”
“A lullaby. You don’t need words, just a calming tune. The music of your earth has a powerful effect on the forest walkers.”
I was confident the forest walkers really were reverent or just plain afraid of old ladies, so I stood directly in front of the man and started humming a gentle tune. At first his posture went stiff and I feared I’d done the wrong thing, but soon his eyelids grew heavy until they closed and his head drooped to the side while he slid down the tree trunk.
“Good. Now hurry. When darkness arrives the diamond will be invisible.”
Grumbling solved nothing, so I started to climb the rough tree exterior. The purple hue of the sky continued to deepen and the shadows extended farther across the hilltop. Sweat beaded on my forehead and slipped in dirty trails down my temples. My hands felt clammy in the hidden holds.
The cloud was right above me. If I’d had the courage to let go with one hand I could have reached up and touched the orange mist. But each slow step brought me closer to the goal. Into the cloud I climbed, unable to see anything a foot beyond my nose.
Dark was crowding in, and I couldn’t imagine going another day without my family. I moved faster . . . at least I hoped I was moving faster. Nerves and exhaustion made my arms feel shaky.
Emerging from the cloud, I could see the top most branch of the tree. There was a giant next perched precariously on the limb. I couldn’t see anything moving so with a little less caution than was prudent, I scurried up the rest of the tree trunk.
I reached the pinnacle and looked down into the massive nest. My heart skipped a beat as I stared at the biggest eagle I’d ever laid eyes on. It was curled up, head tucked part way under its wing. Every breath it took was measured in sleep. My breathing was exactly opposite—on the verge of hyperventilating. It was probably a good thing the air was thin or I might have passed out.
Quiet has never been my strong suit, but with all I could muster, I slipped into the nest. The twigs made a crackling noise when my feet stepped down next to the bird. It was warm and—aside from the possibility of being eaten—inviting. The diamond was resting under a massive talon. Too bad I’m not Indiana Jones and could slip something under there while I pull out the diamond. Sheesh! I really am crazy. Who thinks stuff like this?
Resolve was becoming thinner as the sky became darker. Sight of the diamond was slowly dissipating by increments. I had to move quickly, Jones-like or not. The eagle seemed to be deep asleep, my movements not causing any stir. The trembling of my hands increased as I reached out to grasp the stone. My finger made contact with the hard surface and I held my breath.
Touching it brought a flood of relief and something more—something powerful and frightening. I ignored the sensation and gripped the rock, pulling it free. It began to feel hot against my palm, but I slipped it into the pocket of the tunic before it burned my skin.
Nothing stirred and I thought for sure I was home-free. I was wrong. The eagle’s talons were swift and pressed down upon me like a cage.
“Who goes there?” The regal bird’s voice rumbled like thunder. “Who are you? Speak before I make you my dinner.”
“I—I . . . Rachael.” I said my name in a squeak, like a tiny mouse. Absurd. Eagles eat mice all the time. “Please don’t eat me. I didn’t mean to disturb you.” Could I sound any more insipid?
“What other reason could you have except to steal the diamond stone. But for now, it is too late to tell. It is dark and the diamond is invisible.” His huge head swung around to peer at me with one great eye. “Remove your hood.”
I didn’t hesitate, my fear was too great. The look of surprise in that eye of his was alarming.
“This cannot be! You’re a human. And a woman. Who sent you, Rachael of earth?”
“How do you know I’m from earth?”
“There is no a woman of this world who has blue eyes, the color of the raging Icesea. Who sent you?”
. . . to be continued.
Ooooo! That was fun. My family wasn’t particularly impressed by this story, which does leave me a little concerned, but I must say, I’m enjoying it. Do you wonder what happens next? If you do, then I’ll continue, if not we’ll just call it a flop. haha
THANK YOU FOR READING MY #BLOGWARS: Rabbits story. 🙂