Writing Prompt: In the Earth Realm, a magician puts his hand into his hat. In the Rabbit Realm, the Great Hand emerges again. The Rabbit Council must choose a sacrifice.
The Earthly Realm:
“Ladies and gentleman,” a man wearing a sequined jacket, bright white gloves, and an odd pair of socks waved majestically to the audience of the Lillian May, a cruise ship headed for the Mediterranean, “for my first trick I shall attempt to pull out of this hat,” the man presented the audience with a top hat, revealing the inside to be empty, “a rabbit.”
A mixture of feigned applause and rather insulting comments (the likes of get off the stage and boringgg) filled the air. But the man would not let that deter him. If he could show these simpletons magic, genuine magic, then they’d have no choice but to shower him with their adoration.
A rose. The man thought. Why not throw the whole damn bouquet! Well, a stage magician can dream, can’t he?
The man was the (not-so) Great Theobald Tanner, a magician whose career saw him sailing the seven seas with an ever-frequently varying list of employers. The audience were… unimpressed.
“First, a few words.” Theobald put his hands together, and when he separated them he was holding a red handkerchief that lolled from out his sleeve. The audience gave a collective sigh as the red handkerchief mysteriously led to a blue one, the blue one to a green one, the green one to a purple one… this went on for some time. Finally, and not a moment too soon, the trail came to an end, and attached to the last of this long list of handkerchiefs (which was orange, should you be interested) there was a wand.
Theobald snatched the wand up and paused for applause. Only when he realised that no applause was ever coming did he continue, “The show must go on!” he proclaimed.
“Must it.” an insensitive member of the audience shouted.
Theobald ignored this, “To harness magic you need only a conduit,” he presented the wand, “and then you must know what to say.” Clearing his throat Theobald waved the wand over the upturned top hat, “Paratus. Stabilis. Lepus.”
There was a spark of electric, a cloud of smoke rose from the tip of the wand, a man in the crowd booed, and then Theobald reached into the dark abyss of the top hat…
The Realm of the Rabbit:
There were rumours of a special guest coming to visit Coney Island that very evening. Such news had the long-eared residents in a state of uproar, frantically cleaning their burrows and pruning their gardens, for it was considered awfully bad manors to let a guest arrive at a dirty home, or worse still a dirty garden.
“Have we any idea who it is?” Timothy, a young Buck who was only ever seen wearing a pair of blue shorts, was harassing the mayor of Coney Island, a Doe by the name of Ms White.
“You can tell me,” Timothy begged, “I’ll keep it a secret, I promise!”
“You promise?” Ms White snuffed, turning her tail up at Timothy, “Do you remember what happened the last time you made me a promise?”
“That was different,” Timothy protested, “how was I supposed to know that the Harvester’s fireworks were decorated to look like carrots?”
“That’s not the point, Timothy. The point is that you promised me you’d leave the Harvester well alone. The Farmer Above knows I shouldn’t have told you there’d be fireworks on Hunter’s Eve. May the Farmer bless the Harvester, he’s in a better place now.”
“If he’s in a better place now,” Timothy began slowly, as if thinking better of what he was about to say, but he said it anyway, “then I don’t see what the problem is.”
“The problem, Timothy, is that because of your inability to act your age the poor Harvester died in the most horrific of ways.”
“Oh please, it wasn’t that horrific.”
“He went pop like a damn balloon! One rocket up the rear and a short fuse later and there were chunks of the Harvester raining down over half of Coney Island!” Ms White gave a sigh, she knew this was getting her nowhere, “Look, if I share with you what our guest does for a living, will you then leave me alone?”
Timothy considered this, nibbling at his claws. Finally he nodded, his ears flopping over his eyes.
“Good.” Ms White smiled, baring two enormous front teeth, “Our guest, is a dentist.”
Timothy’s furry face paled at the sound of the word.
If there was one thing all rabbits alike could agree on (except, perhaps, for Ms White) it was that they hated going to see the dentist. Well, it seemed they wouldn’t have to go and see the dentist, not this time, this time the dentist was coming to them.
“The dentist?” Clara shook her head, “You’re absolutely sure about this?”
Timothy nodded. Currently he was sat on a stool in the middle of Clara’s living room.
The room itself was a hollowed out cove with paintings of meadows and statues of various vegetables scattered about the walls and concave shelves. There was a fox-skin rug upon the floor and a small orb in the ceiling that gave the room light.
“Ms White said so herself.” Timothy swallowed, his throat feeling dry, “Only she told me I wasn’t to tell anyone else.”
There was a chorus of sharp, shocked intakes of breath from all around the room.
“Why would she want to hide such a thing from us?” Brendan asked, scratching at his nose to re-adjust his spectacles.
“She tricked us.” Hillary crowed, “Told us to expect a special guest, tried to get us all excited.”
“Burn the witch!” Lucas howled, though no one listened. Lucas never did have anything particularly helpful or interesting to add to a conversation.
“Calm down,” Clara called, “please. We need to think, to come up with a plan.”
The burrow fell silent, and for several long moments remained that way. Right up until Lucas, who happened to be sitting by the window (a short, tight tunnel that acted as a sort of skylight), said: “I don’t want to alarm anyone, but…”
“Then don’t.” Brendan snapped from under his spectacles, followed by several mouths hissing for the pair to be quiet.
“No, seriously.” Lucas persisted, “I think this is important.”
Clara glowered at Lucas, shaking her head.
Lucas stuck his tongue out in return and went on anyway, “It’s the sky…”
Again came the hissing.
“By the Farmer Above,” Lucas cried in a shout that echoed through the burrow, “would someone please just come and take a look?”
Timothy did, “Well I’ll be damned.” he turned back to the room, eyes wide with fear, but brimming from cheek to cheek, “I think I know how to get rid of the dentist.”
Outside Clara’s burrow, high in the skies above Coney Island, the clouds had soured, turning an awful shade of top hat black. There were short bursts of lightning flickering from out the clouds, and the rain carried itself on the back of silent winds in a rage.
Deep in the heart of the storm there was a hand, the hand of the Farmer.
“The end is nigh.” an old Buck by the name of Carson hopped wildly about the meadows, crushing many an innocent daisy. He was mostly ignored. Every time the Farmer’s hand appeared in the sky, Carson claimed it meant the end was nigh. It had gotten past the point of tedious, and many a rabbit had partitioned for Carson’s vocal cords to be snipped.
Standing atop a sharp crag of rock Ms White addressed the rabbit world beneath her, “The Farmer has returned,” there were cheers from the crowd, they feared the Farmer’s wrath and knew better than to speak ill of his coming, “and as is my sworn duty as protector of Coney Island, I must select a tribute.” she cast her eyes out over the crowd, settling for an unnervingly long time on first Timothy and then Lucas.
“Wait!” Clara cried out over the storm, “We have a proposition.”
Ms White settled back on the rock, nodding politely, “I’m listening.”
“Is it not a great burden, perhaps too great a burden, to always be the hand that wields the butcher’s knife? Share that burden with us.” Clara opened her arms to the crowd about her who voiced their agreement, “Let us vote. Let us nominate a tribute, together.”
At this very same moment a hooded figure joined the crowd and there wasn’t a Buck nor a Doe that didn’t notice. The figure wore a white cloak and travelled on the back of a wagon piled high with chests. The crowd had already decided what the hooded figure was hiding in those chests.
Ms White addressed the crowd, “And who, might I ask, would you nominate?”
All at once the crowd reared on the hooded figure, leaving not a finger that didn’t point upon its being.
“Me?” the figure croaked, and before it could croak barely another word it was being swept off of its feet and carried up to the crag on which Ms White awaited.
“As you wish.” Ms White smiled to the crowd, “Our sacrifice has been chosen!”
There came resounding applause and a great stomping of feet as the stranger was offered up to the Farmer’s hand and snatched from existence through the storm clouds.
The sky settled, the storm ceased, the hand vanished, and all across Coney Island the racing hearts of the rabbit community began to ease once more.
They were safe, until the next time.
The Earthly Realm:
The (not-so) Great Theobald Tanner presented his audience with a grey-furred rabbit who happened to be wearing a snow white hooded cloak. He gave a deep bow, sequins sparkling under the spotlight, as he waved the rabbit before the crowd, holding the poor creature by only its ears.
“What a cheap trick.” one man from the crowd shouted.
“Why’s it wearing a cloak?” one woman asked.
“Are you some kind of pervert?” another woman inquired, shielding her son’s eyes.
Cheap? Pervert? Well I never! Theobald thought, as he stormed off of the stage. I don’t know why I waste my time.
The Realm of the Rabbits:
Ms White was settled down before a warm fire, surrounded by some quite familiar looking chests. They were the very same chests that the dentist had driven into town.
Teeth? She laughed with a shake of the head, for that was what the wider rabbit community had believed to be hiding inside of them.
She flicked open the lid of one of the chests and gazed in wonder at that which bathed her fur in a bright golden glow.
Teeth. She laughed again.
Copyright © K R Perry 2019