A (Zombie) Bunny Tale
By R.C. Murphy
This is the tale of a rabbit named Percy. He wasn’t a wild rabbit, who spend their days scurrying frantically to and fro to find food where predators wouldn’t find them. No, Percy had the privilege to be born under the care of a kindly older human woman. He came into the world in his mother’s spacious cage on a farm far away from the noise of the city. It was a peaceful place to grow and get to know the world of a pampered pet, as the Old Woman called them. One spring afternoon, a family approached Percy’s mother’s cage. They ooed and awwed, pushing pieces of alfalfa through the bars. His mother taste-tested the offerings, of course, but Percy ate his fill. An hour later, Percy’s world grew dark and terrifying. Stiff brown paper trapped him in twilight. The world bounced and hummed around him. A high-pitched voice—the voice of His Girl—cooed over the hum for time too long to tell. Rabbits never grasped the art of telling time. To Percy, there were only three parts of the day: Time for fresh greens, Time for alfalfa, and Time for greens in the dark. Occasionally, there was Time for treats. The Old Woman said too much wasn’t healthy so she kept the sweet treats for herself. In the humming dark, there wasn’t time for anything except fear. Percy’s nose twitched—the only part of him he dared move. Around the Time for greens in the dark, the jostling and humming stopped. As did the cooing. Percy’s dark, papery world shifted suddenly. He scrambled to stay still. Mother had once said, if he ever lost his standing as a pampered pet, he had to stay still to keep the bigger animals from gobbling him up. Percy didn’t want to be gobbled, but he didn’t have any control over his movements.
His Girl brought light back to Percy’s world. The thick paper darkness parted, revealing her freckled face and funny smile—funny only because her teeth were so much different than his own and some seemed to be missing. Along with her smile came the tummy-flipping scent of fresh green things and a flood of light too white to be the sun. Gentle hands pulled him from the dark and set him on the grass. Percy froze. He’d been banished. Only rabbits not suitable to be pampered pets hopped around on grass willy-nilly. Where was his cage? Where was his mother? Why had the Old Woman given him away to His Girl, only to be tossed outside?
Sadly, this would not be the most frightening day of Percy’s life, but we’re getting ahead of ourselves.
Once his panic settled, Percy realized this was his cage. A funny cage, it’d been built right on the ground. Fresh grass grew where in his mother’s cage there’d been coarse hay that poked his belly. Clover and yummy flowers grew in one corner. Far, far across the cage sat a tiny house without windows and only one door, the floor lined with soft material to cushion his belly while he slept. Of course, Percy didn’t investigate any of this until long after His Girl gave up hope and left him alone.
By the time he’d finished a nap in his new house and ate four of the purple flowers, and another five clover leaves, the funny noises had begun.
“This is an awfully noisy bunch,” Percy thought. “Thank goodness my cage is outside or I’d never get any rest!”
Try as he might, Percy couldn’t ignore the racket. Hopping to the edge of the cage—something he’d yet to muster the courage to do—he searched the Big House for His Girl. Her noises were the loudest, nothing at all like the gentle words she’d whispered in the jostling darkness that brought him to his new cage.
Shadows passed over the Big House’s windows, some moving faster than others. Crashes drowned out His Girl’s voice. Bang! Bang! The door directly across the Big Yard from Percy’s cage slammed open. Percy jumped and dashed into his clover patch. Hunkered behind the green covering, frozen like a tree trunk, he watched a new man—not one of the two who’d escorted His Girl to the Old Woman’s farm—trip down the steps. A heartbeat later, His Girl bolted through the door. Her shrieks rivaled Percy’s that one time a big dog had knocked into his mother’s cage, nearly toppling it over with them locked inside. Red stuff covered her yellow dress.
“What a messy eater,” Percy mused from his hiding spot. “She’s got strawberry juice all over. Her father won’t like it.” Shortly after he thought, “I wonder if she’s brought any sweet treats to share.”
Percy’s stomach seconded the idea.
The strange man caught sight of His Girl and gave chase. What fun, a game! Percy dared to poke his head above the cover to watch the two race around the Big Yard. His girl shrieked and raced ahead of the strange man, but the man gained ground with every huge step. Right beside Percy’s flower patch, the strange man caught up with His Girl. Unbelievably, more strawberry juice covered His Girl’s dress.
The strange man tackled His Girl to the ground. It looked like a tickle fight—something the Old Woman did with Percy to shoo him to another part of Percy’s mother’s cage while she tidied up. Percy wanted to play. Feeling brave, and hungry for a taste of the strawberry juice on His Girl’s fingers, he hopped through the flower patch to where her hand lay pressed against the cage. Percy tilted his head up and licked the juice.
What kind of strawberries tasted like metal? Percy’s stomach gave a rumble. Then a roar. Maybe it liked the juice, even if it tasted funny. Percy gave it another taste, sneaking a lick at His Girl’s still hand.
A little better flavor this time, though still not any strawberry he’d tasted before.
Just one more taste . . . .