Friday, 8 September 2017

When They Called Her Home

I did a thing.

Creating this blog is part of it.  Welcome!  Thanks for stopping by.

The rest of it starts with Chuck Wendig's blog, where he posts writing challenges on Fridays.  If you've never been there you should really check it out - it's full of writerly stuff and awesomeness, though in his words is, "NSFW. Probably NSFL." Certainly NSFRWDHB (Not Safe For Reading While Drinking Hot Beverages). Burns in the nasal passages, well, burn.

Anyway, over a three week period Chuck challenged his readers to write, in turn, a closing line, an opening line, and a title to a, then, hypothetical short story.  Of course, then he selected 10 of each and chased the would be penmonkeys off to do with it as they would.  While I haven't actually written fiction since university, too many years ago, one of my lines was selected.  That's so cool, thinks I. But it wasn't until a random number generator spat out 8, 2, 3 on the first go around, putting my sentence into a story, that I decided the void was speaking back.  I have missed the deadline set by Mr. Wendig (I didn't actually have an online space to post it to at the time), but anyway, this is the result.  Hope you enjoy.


When They Called Her Home

The pale pink rabbit, some child’s lost toy, blinked at him from the kitchen chair. It was dirty, much of its fabric nap loved away, and its seams loosened by time. One ragged ear flopped behind the matted body, but the other maintained an improbable arch over its head, cocked toward the man by the coffee maker. Then it blinked again.
              He froze with his coffee cup half-way to his mouth.
              It occurred to him that he had no idea how this tattered, possibly insect-infested, stuffed toy had found its way into his kitchen to its perch on his favorite chair. He had no children or pets to drag it home. He lived alone in a sterile condo he rarely saw between his workaholic tendancies and numerous business trips. There wasn’t even an open window through which it could have been flung. Clearly this was a manifestation of his overworked and overwrought mind.
              “I need a vacation,” he muttered to himself.
              “True.” The rabbit spoke with a soft lilt. “However, I am not a figment of your imagination, Geoff.”
              Geoff started, slopping hot coffee from his mug over his hand and down his front. The rabbit’s teeth flashed in a sly smirk and Geoff barely prevented himself from taking a step backward. The creature’s teeth were distinctly un-rabbit-like; sharp triangles that dragged in the omninously darker stained fabric around its mouth. He relaxed moderately as the creature began to sputter, finally bringing a paw to its mouth to remove the offending fluff. Teeth and filth not-withstanding, that was unbearably cute.
              The rabbit looked back up at him, scowled at the expression he saw there and growled. “Go fuck yourself, Geoff”.
              Geoff laughed. He still didn’t know what was going on, but he was incapable of being afraid of the small, pink, talking rabbit with pointed teeth. He crossed instead to the sink and began mopping up the spilled liquid.
              “If you’re not a figment of my imagination, how the hell did you get in here?” Geoff demanded.
              “You brought me home with your laptop last night.”
              Geoff frowned. “Uh, no I didn’t.”
              “I climbed in when you weren’t looking. Have you seriously not realized I’ve been in your bloody office the last three years?”
              Picturing his office he shook his head. He kept the space scrupulously clean as befitted his role as chief paediatric oncologist at one of the premier hospitals in the country. He would have noticed such a ratty, and pink, item in his sparse, monochrome office.
              “You really don’t know, do you.” The rabbit mused sardonically. “The bench along the wall is a fucking toy chest. Though, I should have realized you didn’t know considering how damn dusty it’s gotten in there. Whatevs. Look, I didn’t follow you home for my fucking health, you know...” The rabbit seemed to enjoy swearing, each vulgarity articulated with relish.
              Geoff slowly lowered himself into the chair across from the rabbit, hiding a smile while wondering how something so alien could seem so familiar. He listened as it told him the story of the who, the why, and the where, but not the how. He never would learn the hows.
               
***
               
              The rabbit had been thoroughly cleaned and its pink body held a faint aroma of soap, even over the antiseptic hospital smells. Currently, it was tucked in close to the thin body of Geoff’s newest patient, a weary eight year old named Ava. It no longer blinked. From the moment they had entered Ava’s room it behaved as no more than a comfortably worn stuffed toy, no sign of the foul-mouthed teenager attitude that had so amused Geoff the previous night.
              Geoff still held concerns for his mental well-being, but as long as others could see the toy he would accept that much as real. So far, nothing that had been asked of him would cause harm and so he played along. However, as he looked over Ava’s charts, a black pit opened in his guts. He frowned at the pink form cuddled up to the girl and remembered with some trepidation the scrubbing required to remove the darker marks around the toy’s mouth. His frown deepened as his gaze returned to the results the most recent spate of tests.
              On the hospital bed, Ava slid into sleep, unconsiously clutching tighter the soft body of the rabbit. “His name is Alice,” the new doctor had said, “He’ll keep you company while I take a look at you, okay?”. This doctor seemed nice in that he talked to her rather than over her. And her shivers had finally stopped after settling Alice by her side. It was nice to feel warm again.
              And he was waiting for her when her eyes opened in dreams. The pink rabbit, now much taller, held out a paw. “Come little bird,” Alice said with a flash of his un-rabbit-like fangs, “I have things to show you.”
              She took the offered paw slowly, gazing around at the sere landscape as Alice led her up a hill overlooking a strange city. Brightly lit skyscrapers thrust from its heart, intermingled with vibrant green spaces, trains and cars moving busily in distant silence along raised tracks and twisting interchanges. The contrast to the thirsty land around her was striking, though as she watched she noted that the drought was affecting the city in yellowing patches amongst the green. Then she spied an omninous fog wisping forward from a shadowed area, initially overlooked, where the buildings were crumbling, dirty, and held an air of malice. Darker shadows moved furtively within the gloom. Chill certainty grew within her as she examined the valley.
              “That’s where we’re going, Ava.” He didn’t have to gesture for her to know. “I won’t lie, it’s a bloody mess and nothing is guaranteed, but I will help as much as I can.” Alice promised.
              Ava nodded, drawing her will and determination into a fine blade.
              She spread her wings and stepped off the cliff.


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