Wily Wabbits

Wily Wabbits

Author’s Note: This is a work of fiction. Any names or characters, businesses or places, events or incidents, are fictitious. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events is purely coincidental . . . but definitely inspired by something I saw . . .

The voices were stirring in his head like ice cubes in a blender. Crunching. Thrashing. Grinding. Heart laboring in his chest like an overworked piston. He sniffed, rubbed a shaky forearm beneath his nose, saw streaks of blood mingled in his thick brown hair, stared for a moment, and quickly dismissed the mounting concern. He needed to get up and move; there were important matters to attend to.

Today was a day fit for a proclamation.

People needed to be warned, and he was the only messenger in town. A town full of sleeping sheep lazily chewing on the grass beneath their feet while disaster loomed on the horizon. True, he had warned them before, and they continued to fester in willful ignorance. His solemn duty remained. Shepherds don’t choose their flocks, but they did choose to stand up and fight off the wolves.

Or, in this case, the rabbits.

The rabbits were coming. The signs were everywhere if you were willing to open your eyes, open them and keep them unglued from a phone, an insidious device. The masses scrolled and scrolled until they rolled right into their graves.

He got up from his couch and hurried to his bedroom closet. Quick, urgent steps. Clothes, dirty and washed, mostly dirty, were piled on the floor haphazardly, discarded with a toss after being worn outside or once they were pulled from the dryer. Mostly after being worn. Where was it? He dropped to his knees and began clawing at the pile, a desperate miner looking for riches. Gold was quickly discovered, standing out clearly among the muted grays and blacks of his other clothes.

The pink tank top hung loosely on his bony frame. Shepherding of the masses served as an effective weight loss program. He made a mental note to explore the business opportunity. Now for the other tools of his profession. Excitement mounting, he rushed back to the living room. The downstairs neighbors grumbled at the pounding steps above their heads.

On the granite countertop that separated the kitchen from the living room rested his bunny ears headband. He slid the band over his greasy brown hair. Thin iron wires kept the pink and white ears pointed straight up, warning beacons for passersby. Lastly, propped on the wall next to the door, his shepherd’s crook, five feet tall and made of solid oak. The bottom of the staff was worn; he had removed the rubber stopper to give it a more authentic feel. The sound of the wood striking against the concrete, punctuating his words as he preached, made the message more powerful. He caressed a hand over the smooth wood. Once, twice, thrice, breathing deeply. It was time.

He didn’t bother to lock the door behind him or remove the notice filled with angry black font taped to the front. Physical possessions weren’t going to save anyone.

Tap. Tap. Tap.

Staff against stairs. Dante could never have imagined the hellscape he descended into now.

Slap. Slap. Slap.

His shoeless feet, soles black with filth, slapped against the hot pavement as he headed to his usual pulpit, the gas station on the corner. The summer sun shone brightly on his endeavor. Even without speaking, the message spread. Drivers craned their necks to catch a passing glance of him as they passed. Pedestrians gave him a wide, reverent berth on the sidewalk.

It was a short walk from his place. Standing on the sidewalk facing the gas pumps, he beat his staff into the pavement.

Bang! Bang! Bang!

Like Zarathustra descending from the mountain after a decade of solitude, it was time for his message, his masterfully crafted sermon, to be distributed to the masses. He inhaled deeply.

“The rabbits are coming! The rabbits are coming!”

The sleepy gas attendant gave a start, looking up from the pump. The driver being serviced peered up from their cell phone.

Yes, yes. Hear the word. The message swirled inside him, empowering his oration.

“The rabbits are coming! The rabbits are coming!”

The driver shifted his cell phone to take a recording of him. Good, good. Spread the word.

“The rabbits are coming! The rabbits are coming!”

The gas pump clicked off, but the attendant didn’t make a move to remove it. The word mesmerized those who beheld it.

“The rabbits are coming! The rabbits are coming!”

His forehead glistened with sweat, teeth bared and gnashing like a mad dog.

“The rabbits are coming! The rabbits are coming!”

Slowly, still watching him, the gas attendant returned the gas pump, closed the cap, and handed the receipt to the driver before turning and heading back inside. The driver put down his phone and pulled out of the station, a glance over his shoulder before turning onto the street.

Hop along now, forever changed.