Bun Lyfe

It’s been three years, and I’ve finally come to terms with the fact that there’s no undoing what we did that night; that I’ll never look in the mirror and see my old human face again.

That book — the Lagomorphicon — not a day goes by that I don’t wish I’d never opened it, never joked about ‘doin’ it bunny-style’, never blithely read those Latin words aloud. But what’s done is done.

Some people accepted me, and the ones who didn’t… well, they’re not part of my life anymore. I have a new job. It’s not teaching, but Principal Ward was right: the kids never would have taken me seriously. Just last week, some neighborhood teenagers yelled, “Hey, Watership Down! Think fast!” and threw carrots at me as they passed.

I stood my ground, but they just walked on. I wish I had been strong enough not to eat the carrots.

Static

“How long now?” Mays didn’t wear a watch, with screens on every wall and ELLE to kick him out of bed before every shift.

Three hours overdue,” came her voice, from all speakers including his subcutaneous earbud. “We have sent numerous hails in the clear on all bands: no response. Company policy is—”

“I know what company policy is.” He flipped the primer switches up, and started the intermix injectors running.

Rebbo, at his shoulder, rumbled: “Where will you begin searching?”

“They were coming from Fwalbach. At least that’s what Dixie said: they had a big-money contract from Fwalbach to Zunnis, that’s why they could afford to meet us here.”

We are to wait a further two hours in the absence of a distress signal,” Elle said. “I have contacted Corporate, and they are monitoring the situation. Search action will likely be approved, in two—”

“We’re going now.” Mays pushed the ship’s nose over to point at the pale blue gas giant’s horizon and lit the reaction drive.

The Company—”

“Dixie rescued us before that moon broke up under us. We owe her.”

The fine may approach the entirety of your share in—”

“Nuts.”

Just in his earbud: “…I agree.”

Sculpture Of The Italian Renaissance

Are you ready?!” She whispered it, taking each of us by the hand, eyes twinkling and darting and flaring.

Brendan looked at me and I at him: one of us would marry her, years from now, and the other would be quietly, respectfully disappointed. I nodded, lying, aware that any moment could be the moment where she chooses, deep down, perhaps herself unaware that it had happened. Brendan nodded as well, perhaps for the same reasons.

We were politely asked to leave. The security guard wasn’t angry at all. He seemed entirely unsurprised to find the three of us tearing through the museum at top speed, and could not have been more bored with the speech he gave us about decorum and proper respect and this and that and go on, now, off with you.

Brendan blew him a kiss from the doorway. She’ll pick him, I just know it.

Off The Grid

“You there!”

She kept walking, not at a hurried pace but a purposeful one, shoulders hunched, head down against the cold and the drizzle and the overhead scanners.

You there! Stop!”

She heard the jangle and clop of security running behind her, knew she could not avoid them, turned, waited for them to catch up.

Two, always two. The smaller, less out of breath, said: “You didn’t register. When you went through the checkpoint, it didn’t—”

“My chip is malfunctioning. I have a note.” She fished out the forged note, hoped it was still convincing enough, hoped that they stopped her more out of boredom than thoroughgoing professionalism.

The big one huffed and glanced around and hiked up his pants; the smaller one read. “You need to get it repaired.”

“I already have the appointment scheduled. There’s a backlog—”

“Isn’t there always,” he muttered. “On your way now.”

“Thank you.”

Mercy

There was a screeching, and a crashing of thunder, and a keening wail the likes of which Yan had never heard; still, his feet remained firmly planted while the terrified porters ran and jumped and tumbled down the hillside in an attempt to escape. He shouted into the swirling portal, “I hear you, Master, but I don’t understand. I fear you are in distress, but—”

“Oh, he is very much in distress.”

He turned to look. A girl had appeared, young, dressed in a bride’s robes, hair tied up in flowers and vines. Agreste. He shared the porters’ terror now, but there was no sense in running; the die was cast. “What have you done?”

“What I did, I did long ago, Priest of Troyal. He cannot be brought back in this way. All it grants him is pain.”

“Why…” There was another screech, short and knife-sharp. “…Why should I believe you?”

“You hear his pain. If you are truly faithful, you even feel it. The closer he gets, the more he is crushed.” She shuddered. “My brother’s punishment for opposing me was banishment, not this. Close the rift.”

Yan looked back into the swirling maw. “But…”

“For his sake.”

Ava

I only took one.

They said take half. Cut it with a paring knife, a sharp one, so that you don’t lose bits, put half under your tongue, put half in a baggie. I didn’t have a paring knife, who has a fucking paring knife? Your mom has a paring knife. I took it whole.

I didn’t want to deal with everybody else’s freakouts and bullshit revelations and unfortunate nudity. I took a walk. There was a path that goes along the fence and then down through the seawall to the beach. The evening sand was kind to my bare feet and the waves were politely hushed as they loitered near the shoreline.

I thought, I’ll watch the sunset. It’ll be pretty. That’ll be a good trip. But then the gulls were all over the beach, and then in my hair, and then in my head.

Just do half, motherfuckers.

In Cloudkey Town I Met A Girl

“I am a Princess.” She stared at him in shocked incredulity, as if his failure to recognize her station and act accordingly was entirely without precedent. “My father is your King.”

“I have no King. Down below…” He turned, gestured to the ascent balloon tethered at the edge of the floating city. “Down there we choose our rulers from amongst ourselves by a vote.”

“Barbaric.” She shook her head as if to dislodge an unwelcome thought from her mind; then she paused, regarding him, and continued with a more welcoming if haughty tone. “But you may approach.”

He grinned. “Gladly.”