Sunday, January 1, 2012

Rabbo II-Chapter 1

By Mark Crocker

Chapter 1 - Departing

Rabbo sat by the fire looking up at Athena as she was teaching her two daughters how to speak. He remembered well how she had made shapes with her mouth and had shown him how to make those very same shapes and sound with her mouth and so taught him how to speak.

    Rabbo tried hard to stay away from the twin girls as they would garb at him and pull at his fur. And when they were smaller they would spit up their mother’s milk all over his fur and he would reek of baby puke. And to make matters worse Bastet had given birth a month later to a girl and a boy.
    The house just did not smell the same anymore but he had not blamed Merwyn one bit when Merwyn had moved into the barn with the cattle. But now Rabbo was glad that Merwyn had moved back into the house and had let him have access to his front room of his private rooms. Rabbo still could not enter Merwyn's private office but fully understood why now as the children of Athena and Bastet had taught him that need for a private area in which someone could hide and be free with their own thoughts.
    What Rabbo could not get over was how fair and blond the twin girls looked and how much they looked like the holograms of Athena that Merwyn had shown him with pride of Athena at the same age. What got Rabbo the most was how sweet the two girls could be at one moment and how mean they could be at the next. Grabbing his ears and tail and pulling hard on his fur. Even his mother had taken to hiding from the two little girls of Athena.
    Yet Bastet’s daughter and son seemed so sweet and did not grab and hurt him or his mother.
    But some how Cat had always seemed to get out of the way before Athena’s two hellions had been able to grab him. Cat had explained it to him that his own children were far worse and that they would bite his ears and attack him from hiding spots in the woods and over the years he had learnt how to deal with each new litter that he would father and that he could out race them and knew from years and years of kitten how and what they would do before they would know themselves.
    So Rabbo listened to Cat as Cat pointed out all the ways that Rabbo could avoid having his ears tail and legs grabbed pulled and yanked on. Such ways as always making sure that he knew where both the twins were. Always listening out for soft feet making the pitter patter sound and then there was the giggling.
    Merwyn had even got in on the advice and pointed out that the twins minds leaked naughty children thoughts when they were after Rabbo to play with. And a good tool for him to use was his claws and teeth. But not deep starches of hard bites just enough to warn the two hellions that they where hurting him.
    Rabbo had admitted that he really did like the twins it was just that they seemed to be having a hard time learning that they were hurting him sometimes.
    Then Merwyn pointed out that once they started learning what their abilities were things could become very strange and Rabbo could be left quiet literally “left hanging” or that he might find himself hopping around in circles and not be able to stop himself until either he or Athena stepped in.
    However Merwyn did give Rabbo some very useful tools to help defend himself against such playful attacks from the twins.
    It was one cool fall morning as Rabbo was sunning himself on the window of the new room that Merwyn had built for the four children that he felt himself being gently and slowly lifted up by invisible hands. So as Merwyn had instructed him he closed his eyes and looked for astral hands lifting him up and to see where they were coming from.
    Rabbo was rather surprised to see that the hands were from Bastet’s son and that while it was a shock to be lifted off his nice warm spot in the window it was even more of a surprise who was doing it. So instead of doing what Merwyn had suggested and using a mental lance to make the offender yelp and let go Rabbo simply helped and floated himself up out of the way of the young boy.
    Bastet’s son who was a very quiet child started clapping and screaming in delight. He screamed so loudly that it brought Bastet, Athena, and Merwyn running. As none of them could believe that Bastet’s young son was make such a racket. And once they all saw Rabbo floating out of reach and spinning end over end slowly they too started to laugh. That made Bastet’s son squeal and laugh even harder and that brought the other children running as fast as their little legs could carry them.
    A problem which happened very early on was when Athena’s twins had started doing what Merwyn called “Mind yammer”. As Merwyn told Rabbo a few days after the first incident of the twins “mind yammer” was “That all children on Sirius would start to mind yammer at about three to four months old. Mostly when they were dirty and needed their diapers changed or when they were hungry or when they were feeling lonely and they worst was when they were tired and cranky and did not want to sleep”.
    The second time the twins started mind yammering it got so bad that Bastet’s son and daughter started to mind yammer too. For Rabbo it was so bad that he bolted out of the house down though the garden without looking where he was going other than straight head and spent a night in his burrow down in the warren.
    Merwyn had come to his rescue and explained how to block out the mind yammer and in doing so helped Rabbo strengthen his shields so that they were almost as strong as Merwyn's.
    Rabbo watched in amazement and disbelief at how quickly the twins started to learn how to speak.
    What had taken him a month took them a week and they had learnt simple words so fast. Words like mommy, bye, grandpa, hello, night, day, yes, no and so on.
    They seemed to really like the word “no” and would often say “no” and shake their heads when Athena would try and feed them or when she wanted to bath them or put them to bed.
    “I really think I made a mistake teaching them to talk” said Athena a month after she had started to teach them.
    Merwyn looked over and smiled “yes I know what you mean”. He then looked over at Rabbo and winked.
    Bastet had snickered when Merwyn had said that.
    Rabbo guessed that Merwyn was making a comment about when Athena was the same age and she had been learning to talk.
    The sun was setting and Rabbo and Bastet where both standing outside watching it sink below the trees.
    “I never stop being amazed about this planet” said Bastet.
    “It’s the only planet I know” said Rabbo.
    “I know it’s just that it’s so beautiful” said Bastet. There was a long pause before she spoke again “I just wish that people could get along like Merwyn dreams. You would think with such beauty, people would. Yet, well you know they don’t.”
    “Athena went though something like you did when the sea raiders attacked Athens” said Rabbo wanting to know what had happened to Hermes.
    “I know” said Bastet sadly.
    They both turned to watch the last rays of the sun sink down behind the woods before they spoke again.
    “I will be leaving soon” said Bastet.
    “Leaving” asked Rabbo.
    “Yes my village and house is almost finished. And this time I can be free and don’t have to play goddess”
    “Do Athena and Merwyn know that you will be leaving” asked Rabbo.
    “They know. The person I was dreading telling was you my cute little fur covered friend. I have come to adore you in the two years that I have been here. I will be sad to leave” said Bastet trying to hide the tears that were dripping down her nose.
    “It’s not like you are going to be on the other side of a sea now is it” said Rabbo trying to sound cheerful.
    “No it’s not. Just three days by foot or thirty seconds if I self teleport. In your case that might be six days by hopping” said Bastet laughing softly.
    “I still would like to know what happened to Hermes” asked Rabbo.
    “He scared you, Rabbo” stated Bastet.
    “Yes I only saw him a few times. But there was something about him that did not seem right.”
    “He is far from right. He is a very intelligent person. Very smart very quick witted and very dangerous. I am glad that his body and mind still live. If I had killed him or let the lioness kill him I would carry his guilt. But by trapping his mind in the in-between worlds with all those that he had killed or ordered kill he won’t harm anyone and the souls of the blessed dead will remind him of the horror that he forced on them”. Bastet paused “Rabbo you have to know the truth. I did not want to do what I did but if I had not and I had just run like I was doing he would have come after my beloved Athena and I can’t have that. He and the others would of brain fried her and in doing so would have so hurt Merwyn that he would give up on life. So you see I had to shut Hermes away”.
    “He is that powerful” asked Rabbo.
    “Yes, and the others are not on their own. But as a group they are very powerful. And as a group they could of brain fried Athena” said Bastet sadly “I had to stop that from happening”.
    Athena came walking outside in the chill air with her two girls following along behind her. They each had a long cloak on against the night chill that gave them the appearance of floating across the grass.
    Rabbo moved around to the other side of Bastet to give him some protection against the two little girls.
    The twins blond hair hung free and gave them the appearance of having a silver golden holo around their heads almost making them look angelic. Their blue eyes had started to get a hint of Athena’s green eyes and they almost looked like blond miniature versions of Athena. Even down to how they walk and would look around at things.
    “Talking about Hermes, are you?” asked Athena.
    “Yes we were” said Rabbo.
    “It’s been two years and three months since Bastet locked his mind away. He can’t escape and Ra can’t rescue him. So why worry about him?” said Athena.
    “Because Bastet feels guilty about doing what she had to do,” said Merwyn stepping out of the shadows where he had been standing since before sunset.
    “I do not,” said Bastet.
    Merwyn just looked at Bastet and shook his head before he turned to look at Athena’s twins.
    “Now leave momma rabbit alone,” said Merwyn to the twins.
    The twins had moved around to where Rabbo’s mother was sitting and were about to make a grab for her.
    The twins looked up at Merwyn with sad forlorn look on their faces as if they were not going to play with Rabbo’s mother.
    Rabbo’s mother turned and looked at the twins before she hopped over to them and sat down between them.
    “Now gently pet her,” said Athena.
    The two girls knelt down and very gently slid their tiny hands up and down Rabbo’s mother’s back. Rabbo watched and worried as he knew that his mother had to be now a middle aged rabbit and was not getting any younger. She had to six to eight years old now and that was a good age for a wild rabbit.
    The faint hint of gray that Rabbo had first noticed over two and half years ago was now spreading all over her face. But as yet she had not started to lose weight as older rabbits would do as they started to become very old.
    The twins petted Rabbo’s mothers gently and stroked her fur making Rabbo’s mother roll on her back to expose her stomach to them so that could be rubbed too. The twins petted Rabbo’s mothers stomach with such care that Rabbo was very surprised at how gentle they were being.
    “They know she is old” said Athena seeing Rabbo’s worry.
    “Bastet told me she was leaving. When?” asked Rabbo.
    “The people from her village that are coming to help her move will be here early tomorrow morning and then they will be done packed in a single day. They want to get the move done fast as winter will so be on us and that would trap Bastet here if last winter is anything to go by,” said Merwyn.
    “I think my girls will be very upset to have their playmates leave,” said Athena.
    “They will get over it in time,” said Merwyn.
    “Don’t grab her legs” said Athena to the twin.
    “Sowe, momma” said the twins in unisons.
    Rabbo’s mother rolled back over sat up on her hind legs and placed one of her front paws on one of the twin’s chest before she leaned in and sniffed her. She then hopped over to the other twin and did the same thing.
    Rabbo hopped over to his mother and sniffed her to make sure was ok as her behavior was not her normal run and hide.
    Rabbo wondered if one or both of the twins where using coercion on his mother. But as far as he could see they were not so he relaxed and sat down next to her.
    Athena looked up at the night sky now dotted with stars and the pale silver glow of the moon coming up in the west. Athena reached over and grabbed the hands of both of her daughters and they walked back into the house together.
    Merwyn turned back and disappeared into the night even though he had not moved it seemed that the night’s darkness had embraced him and hidden him from normal sight and that only the use of astral eyes would make him visible.
    Bastet turned and looked at Rabbo and his mother. “I shall miss you and your mother. As I said I have come to adore you Rabbo. But I still think you are a very cute bunny”. Bastet paused “being ugly like I am I know beauty when I see it. Don’t say anything, Merwyn, ” said Bastet speaking into the night at Merwyn “But every time I look in the mirror I see my mixed up half human half lion face. Rabbo, we have a saying on Sirius. To know true beauty you have to know true ugliness. I see ugliness every time I look in the mirror so I know true beauty when I see it and you are beautiful Rabbo and cute too”.
    Rabbo looked down at the ground to hide his embarrassment at being called beautiful and cute. He then looked at Bastet and smiled.
    “Beauty does not come from the outside, but it comes from within. It’s that glow that shines through and lights someone up,” said Rabbo.
    “Well said,” said Merwyn’s voice drifting in from the dark.
    Bastet suddenly let out a giggle and a laugh “I best get inside I have just been offered a promise that I can’t turn down”.
    And with that Bastet turned and left lightly on her feet heading inside to the waiting Athena.
    Rabbo sat looking up at the night sky watching the stars overhead and wondering how many of the harbored life on them.
    He knew that Sirius had harbored life and now that was gone. But Merwyn and Ra had mentioned sister worlds and that there was life there and that the Sirian’s would live on. But he did not know where or how many.
    “Rabbo I hear your thoughts” said Merwyn’s voice drifting in again from the dark.
    “How many sister worlds are there?” asked Rabbo.
    “Many but I would not worry about them coming here and spreading the poison that was on Sirius. What I would worry about is the 12 ships that left Sirius some time ago before Sirius ended. They are headed this way having stopped on the forth planet”.
    Rabbo looked at Merwyn remembering when he had ridden along with Merwyn and Athena and had seen the dieing planet and the twelve ships that had left Sirius with about two hundred and forty people on board them. What had got Rabbo the most was seeing how sick the people were and the fact that they still hoped for life even as they knew that death was coming for them.
    When Merwyn and he had traveled to the fourth planet he had been surprised at how few there were left. In fact out of the two hundred and forty only twenty five remained and those twenty five had looked to Rabbo’s planet even as they tried to repair the former colony that was on the fourth planet.
    And now Merwyn was saying that he was worried that they were coming to the third planet and that worried Rabbo.
    Rabbo stepped out of his body and saw the glow of Merwyn’s astral body standing a few feet away, hidden by the barn from all but astral sight.
    “Merwyn” asked Rabbo some what nervously “what bothers you about the colonists on the fourth planet”?
    “Faces mostly” said Merwyn.
    “Faces? I don’t understand? Why would faces worry you unless there is something wrong with the faces”?
    “Rabbo it’s not that easy. I know a few of the faces and like every group of people and faces there is good and bad. There is good and bad in all things. I myself am both. To some such as you I am good. But to others I am bad. It is the very nature of life. Even a honey bee can be good or bad. A bee pollinates the flowers that in turn give us food and with out the honey bee there would be none of that wonderful honey. Yet the honey bee can sting and as you saw with Bastet it can be very harmful and in some cases kill. So everything is good and bad. Even you have good and bad in you, my dear friend,” said Merwyn. “The secret is to know that you are both and to be both knowing when and how to use both parts of your nature”.
    “I don’t understand. I guess I am just a dumb rabbit” said Rabbo.
    Merwyn laughed “That is a wise comment. Someone that knows that they are dumb is truly smart”.
    “How” asked Rabbo.
    “You know that you don’t know much. Most people think that they know so much and in fact know so little. What I know is nothing compared to what there is to know. And the more I learn the more I know that I know so little”.
    “Now that I understand” said Rabbo. “Three years ago all I knew was this house then I learnt that there was a whole planet and not just this planet but countless planets. But I did not understand until I went to Athens’s with you Athena and Bastet. Going to Athens’s made that real. And now I know that I know so very little about everything. If it could be measured I would know less that one percent of all the knowledge that there is to know”.
    “My dear rabbit” laughed Merwyn “Even I don’t know that much. I would say I know less than one hundredth of one percent of one percent”!
    Rabbo laughed “you know that much”?
    Merwyn too laughed “if I am lucky I might know that much”.
    Rabbo shivered and looked up at Merwyn. “My body is getting cold. Let’s go in and warm by the fire”.
    “We can’t yet. Athena and Bastet are um polishing the kitchen floor,” said Merwyn.
    “Oh” snickered Rabbo.
    Rabbo stepped back into his body and felt really cold. His teeth started to chatter from the cold. Then he felt warmth spread over him.
    “Thanks” said Rabbo to Merwyn.
    “Think nothing of it my dear friend” replied Merwyn.
    Rabbo sat and thought about what Merwyn had said about how little he knew and how little he himself knew about things.
    There was so much that he did not understand such as why Merwyn was worried about the faces on the fourth planet. That really bothered him as there was something that worried Merwyn. But what it was Rabbo could not figure out. So he started to ask himself simple questions that Merwyn had taught him to use that might give him the answer.
    So Rabbo started of with a fact he knew.
    Merwyn was worried about the people of the fourth planet. “Ok why” Rabbo asked himself. “Well clearly he knew some of the people. He has said as much. Merwyn had also said that there was good and bad in all people. So ergo there must be good and bad in the people on the forth planet. And because Merwyn was worried about them it must be bad to Merwyn” Rabbo pondered that fact for a moment.
    “Why were they bad to Merwyn? Was it because he had fought them in the war and that they might bring the war here with them? Was it because of the sickness they carried? What kind of sickness? Merwyn had said it was radiation sickness but he had also hinted at more? So what did he know so far? The facts where not complete at best. What was known was that they were sick with radiation sickness and something else. Merwyn knew some of them and was worried. There was much that did not add up and there were so few facts to go on and too many questions”.
    “Ok let’s review the facts again” Rabbo told himself. “Fact one Merwyn is worried. Fact two Merwyn knows some of the people. Fact three the people are sick. Fact four now what was fact four? Ahh yes fact four was that there was good and bad in all peoples. So Merwyn was worried that the people on the fourth planet would come to the third planet and do what? Now what about Ra and his followers in Egypt!” Now that was a new line of thought that popped into his mind. “What if the people on the fourth planet allied themselves with Ra”?
    Now Rabbo started to understand why Merwyn was worried. “If they allied themselves with Ra it would make Ra very powerful and very dangerous to Merwyn Athena and Bastet. Yes that had to be why Merwyn was worried”.
    “Merwyn” asked Rabbo. “What if the people on the fourth planet ally themselves with Ra”?
    “Oh is that what you were thinking about”?
    “Yes” answered Rabbo. “It worries me that you are worried”.
    “To put your mind at rest they won’t. They know Ra and they know what he is like. No that’s not a worry that you or I need to bother with”.
    “Oh ok” said Rabbo now more confused than he was when he thought he knew my Merwyn was worried. “So why are you worried about”?
    “A number of things and none that I want to talk about right now. Like you I am going over the facts in my head. And when I have an answer I will let you know” answered Merwyn with a harsh tone in his voice. “I’m sorry Rabbo just a lot of facts for me to think about and the answers don’t work out right. I did not mean to take that tone with you”.
    Rabbo woke up in Merwyn’s front room feeling well rested after a good nights sleep. He had not been upset that he was unable to sleep on his window sill in Athena’s room but Athena and Bastet had closed the door and by the sounds of it where very busy when he had hopped up to sleep.
    But now Rabbo could hear voices coming from Merwyn's private office and that did peak Rabbo’s interest.
    He could make out Merwyn’s voice but there was another voice and it sounded female and it was not Athena’s voice nor was it Bastet’s and clearly not Helena’s voice.
    So who was it? It did sound some what familiar but Rabbo could not place it at all and that really got his interest going.
    Rabbo sat up and turned to look towards the door that went into Merwyn's private office and was surprised to see that the door was open.
    “Darling he’s awake” said the female voice.
    The door to Merwyn's private office closed and the voices where cut off so that Rabbo could hear no more.
    Rabbo wriggled out from the cushions and hopped out of Merwyn's front room. He headed down the hallway stopping at the bathroom to take care of his morning needs before he rode down in his elevator.
    In the kitchen was a huge pile of boxes and six women and men that where taking the boxes outside.
    Athena was sitting at the table feeding her twins as well as Bastet’s two children who had a mix of egg and bread on their faces.
    Bastet walked in wearing pants like Merwyn would wear and a shirt like Merwyn's. She looked around and pointed to one of the woman and asked her to come outside to help supervise loading of one of the carts.
    Rabbo hopped around the boxes dodging the feet and legs and made his way to the cool storage room to get his breakfast. He then had to weave his way back to the table where he sat down and started to eat his breakfast while all the time watching the pile of boxes getting smaller and smaller.
    After Rabbo had eaten his breakfast and placed his bowl and the bowls of the children in the sink he hopped out side and saw six large carts with oxen in front of each cart.
    All but one cart was fully loaded and Rabbo guessed that the people who were helping Bastet had arrived at about sunrise and that the loading must of started shortly there after.
    Rabbo hopped up on the wood cutting stump and watched as the last of the boxes where brought out of the house and placed in the last cart almost filling it up.
    “Ok I want to be down in the town before nightfall” said Bastet as she turned and looked to the north.
    “What’s the hurry” asked Rabbo.
    “There is a storm coming down from the north and it’s a cold storm. It might have snow in it and I don’t want to get snowed in like we were last year” answered Bastet. “Beside the snow and me are not a good mix. I will be happy on the coast where it’s warmer and lower. As much as I love it here it’s too cold in the winter and there is not as much air as I would like in my lungs”.
    Athena came walking out with the four children toddling behind her. What surprised Rabbo was that they were now totally clean and all signs of food that had been all over their faces and cloths were gone almost as if they had never been caked in food at all.
    Looking at Athena Rabbo suddenly remembered what he had heard in Merwyn's room.
    “Who is in Merwyn's private office? I heard him talking to what sounded like a woman” Rabbo asked Athena on her private mode.
    “I don’t know. More than likely it’s my mother on the computer” answered Athena on the same mode. “Don’t forget I have never been in dad’s private office”.
    Just then Merwyn came walking outside carrying a small box. He walked over to Bastet’s two children and got down to their level and gave them a hug each. Then he reached into the box and pulled out two small stuffed furry rabbits made of cloth.
    The cloth rabbits where about the same size and color of Rabbo and it took Rabbo a few moments to realize that they were stuffed toy copies of himself. In fact they looked so much like him that Rabbo wondered if they could come to life would they act just like him.
    Merwyn stood up and closed his eyes and sudden the two toy cloth stuffed rabbits started to hop around like real rabbits.
    Rabbo hopped over and joined the two toy cloth stuffed rabbits and joined in chasing them around and around.
    The children started laughing and giggling and they joined in playing chase with Rabbo and the two toy cloth stuffed rabbits.
    The six men and women stopped the final load and watched as the children played with Rabbo and the two toy cloth stuffed rabbits.
    “Please let's finish loading so that we can get this move over and done with as I don’t want to get caught in the snow” said Bastet smiling to the six men and women.
    One of the women looked at Bastet “Snow what is snow”?
    “It's frozen water. Cold and nasty and it falls in great white piles and then gets hard so you slip fall and hurt yourself” said Bastet “Now lets get moving please”.
    Bastet hurried the six men and women and the last of her items where loaded on the last cart. Food was brought out by Athena who gave each of Bastet’s villagers a package of food for the trip down to Athens’s and then the trip around the coast in Bastet’s ship to her village.
    It was the painful stillness that awoke Rabbo long before the sun would rise above the forest. Rabbo wriggled on his cushion in Athena’s window and realized that the reason he was awake was that he was cold and very cold at that.
If it got any colder his ears and tail would fall off and that was the last thing he wanted as he really needed them. Rabbo peeked behind the curtain and was almost blinded by the silvery glow of the moon on frost frozen ground. Rabbo slipped off the window sill and hopped over to the bed jumped up next to his mother and Cat and curled up next to them for warmth.
Click on Mark Crocker for bio and list of other works published by Pencil Stubs Online.

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