Lapinette raced frantically out the exit and into the waiting paws of the Wabbit. "You're early," panted Lapinette. "You're late," said the Wabbit. Lapinette shook her head and finally laughed. "How did you get here?" "I surfed the spit," said the Wabbit. "Fast was fine. I took off on a wave and popped out the other end." "Spit," whistled Lapinette. "I guess it was all in one bit!" She relaxed and glanced about. "Where are the others?" "Looking for wheels," said the Wabbit. The air was hot again and it wrapped round them like a prickly woolen blanket. Sirens wailed in the near distance. "I don't think we're popularity plus," sighed the Wabbit. "We got the blame for everything and anything." There's never a shortage of blame," giggled Lapinette. The Wabbit's paws felt capable and she snuggled a bit. "We have a way to go yet," said the Wabbit and he held her close. Sirens shrieked. "They're heading this way," muttered the Wabbit. "We'd better hide," smirked Lapinette. The Wabbit picked Lapinette up and hopped to a courtyard. Lapinette's ears twitched. "Which police is it?" The Wabbit was thinking the same thing - but then he made out a second siren. "We need to get ready to jump." "I'm not sure we have the time," smiled Lapinette. The Wabbit felt Lapinette's lips draw close. But a sudden screeching rent the night. Glass shattered somewhere. "Ready or not," grinned the Wabbit ...
Lapinette thought they'd got off light. The station looked deserted and they headed for the exit. But from the corner of her eye, Lapinette saw another gang. "Oh no, the Spits!" she thought. "I heard they were were all inside." They'd managed to corner the Wabbit and stood over him flapping their tongues and scoffing. "Rabbits. Ha Ha Ha," said one. The other spat a trail of ghastly gob and snorted heavily. Then he spat again. Lapinette kept running but she could hear the Wabbit talking and hoped no spit landed on the Wabbit's fur. His fur was real enough but it was interwoven with anti-matter and chemically volatile. She knew what might happen and ran faster. But her sharp ears heard the Wabbit winding them up and she knew the Spits were getting furious. With an enormous burst, one of them launched a long trail of phlegm that coiled through the air and landed splat on the Wabbit's fur. Lapinette ran even harder but she risked another glance back. One of her favourite games was Candy Crash and that was exactly what it looked like. The Wabbit's fur glowed red and there seemed to be more than one Wabbit. Then the Wabbit's fur threw modified spit to all corners - and everywhere it landed it exploded threefold. Lapinette was nearly at the top of the escalator. It occurred to her that the exit looked within spitting distance and she firmly pushed that thought away. She narrowly avoided exploding fountains of spit and dived through the exit. "Whatever's next on the street," she sighed, "it can't be as awful as this ..."
They made good headway but the Fugues beat them to it. The Fugues were no pushover. Despite poor memories, Johnny, Wolfie and Luddy were as case hardened as they come. Wabsworth was the designated stooge and he hopped foppishly towards them. For their own part, the Wabbit and Lapinette were annoyingly distracting. The Fugues swung their thuggish weapons in various directions. "Our Turf!" they yelled. Wabsworth smiled sweetly. "We're The Wabbiors. We're passing peacefully through your turf. What's it called?" Johnny looked at writing on his cuff. "This is FugueVille. You're dead rabbits hopping." "We're not all rabbits," said Wasbworth cheerfully. Three metallic clicks echoed along the platform and back. "Snick. Snack. Snoo," meowed a feline voice. Johnny and Luddy stepped back. But not Wolfie, who brandished a hammer. "You caused the storm!" The Wabbit poked Luddy's cudgel in an investigative manner. "Nope," he murmured convincingly. "That was the Superga Hillbillies." Luddy checked his cuff and looked up and screamed. "I hate Hillbillies!" "So do we," smiled Lapinette. She patted Wolfie's hand and detached his hammer. "Just trying to get back to our turf," said Wabsworth, darting for the train. In the momentary confusion, Skratch the Cat took advantage and leaped out. Slashing claws carved the sign of a "W" in the stale subway air. "That's my train," he hissed. Then he jumped. The doors hissed shut and they were gone. The Fugues looked at each other blankly. "Something happened?" said Wolfie.
"There ain't no-one on this street," muttered Skratch. The lightning had stopped and the hot storm with it. And now it was calm. Ice calm. Buildings looked like they came out of the chiller and the streets were deserted. But that didn't mean there was no-one. The road vanished to nowhere and from nowhere came a sound like a call. It was a haunting call that froze the blood and suddenly there were as many calls as cobbles on the road. Lapinette hopped forward. "This isn't our turf. We need to cross it." From her frock she drew an edged weapon that glinted in whatever light there was. "It's not a normal night and these aren't normal streets." The Wabbit and Wabsworth searched their fur. Finally they drew the only blades they had. "A multi purpose kit is better than nothing," muttered the Wabbit. Skratch the Cat didn't look in his fur. A powerful snick stabbed the night and razor-sharp claws shot from his paw. "Who's making the rumpus?" Lapinette stared hard into the distance. "The Fugues. Small time. Normally our paths wouldn't cross." "Maybe the Metro's running," suggested the Wabbit. "They're between us and the Metro," said Lapinette. Her eyes smiled for an instant. "Fugues can't remember much." "So maybe they'll forget themselves," quipped Wabsworth. The Wabbit grinned a sceptical grin. "So are ya ready to rumble?" "I'm a cat," said Skratch. "We always are." [Lightroom credit: Mick Warne]
Hot coals hurtled past the Wabbit's head. "I draw the line at flying combustion," grimaced the Wabbit and he pulled his radio from his fur. The air was electric and their ears rippled and jumped. Wabsworth checked around with a meter but results came up zero. The walkie-talkie was silent so the Wabbit struck it sharply with a paw. Nothing. The Wabbit switched to short wave. Now he could hear a faint voice. "This is the Department of Wabbit Affairs." There was a chime and a crackle. Then the voice spoke again. "This is the Department of Wabbit Affairs." "This," said Lapinette, "is getting on my nerves." "This," said the Wabbit, "sounds like an automatic transponder." Skratch swiped at burning embers and hissed. "This sounds like an emergency." Wabsworth was an android and he searched though data modules. The Wabbit looked at him. "Anything?" Wabsworth shrugged. "Nothing and a half." "It's nothing on earth then," said Lapinette, "this comes from off-planet." "A third force?" suggested the Wabbit. "Oh I lost count," sighed Skratch. Lightning flashed but the storm was silent, just waves of heat. "We need shelter and a thinking space," said the Wabbit. "I know where," said Lapinette. The Wabbit nodded then looked at the city. "No weapons. We don't know what we'll hop into." "We've got blue glasses and attitude," said Wabsworth.
It wasn't as if they could just leave. The beeps didn't work like that. Everyone had to perform and so the Wabbit shrugged and took the stage. "One Two Three Four!" yelled Wabsworth who had mysteriously appeared with Skratch the Cat in tow. "Every-body! Every-body!" sang Skratch, "Every-body. Beeps some-body." The beeps swirled and circled and beeped wildly. "Glad so many of you could beep here tonight to alert us," shouted the Wabbit. "We all need a warning and someone to be warned by our side." A cacaphony of delighted beeps bounced from the walls. Lapinette grabbed the Wabbit's paw. "Let's go. Let's get out while the getting is good." Wabsworth clapped his paws. Skratch set up a devastating riff. The atmosphere was electric. If beeps had feet they would have stomped - but they kept time to Wabsworth's clapping. Repetitive solid beeps shook the building while Skratch's paws picked and slid notes between them. Now, Lapinette and the Wabbit were nearly out the door and none of the beeps had noticed. But outside didn't look promising. Anything but. They waited in the corridor until Skratch and Wabsworth finished. "Looked like you needed some notes," panted Skratch. The Wabbit had been rather impressed. "How many paws have you got?" "One less than I need," smiled Skratch. The Wabbit pushed the exit bar but a fierce wind slammed the door back with a terrible crash. "We need all the paws we can get!" said Lapinette ...
"Looks like the scene is set to hop," said Lapinette. "Maxo," said the Wabbit in an attempt to sound cool. He poked cables around and made random connections. A deafening whine assaulted their ears. "Woopso," muttered the Wabbit and he made a few changes. "Beep, you dig the beep, Daddy-O!" The Beep was agile for its shape and it advanced on Lapinette. "I'm hip to the Beep," said Lapinette and she stuck out a paw at an awkward angle. The Beep transmitted a rapid series of beeps and asked, "You the chirp?" Lapinette postured and threw shapes. "Get your glasses on!" Beeps streamed so fast they shrilled like a locomotive. The Beep turned to the Wabbit. "Message for you Pops." Up to this point, the Wabbit felt left out. His nose twitched imperceptibly. His ears wiggled. Then he shrugged dramatically. The beeps became musical and played a short tune. "I'm a beepin' out danger," beeped the Beep. "I'm a beepin' out warnin'." The Wabbit waited some time and the beeps became rhythmic. The Wabbit's question arrived like a hammer. "Why?" "It's my job," replied the Beep. "I'm an alert." "What's the warning for?" said Lapinette. The beeps became slow. "I don't know. You are now alerted. Enjoy the gig." Now they could hardly hear the beeps. The Wabbit made a few adjustments with some success and the beeps strengthened. Then the Wabbit had an idea. "Are you a small. medium or major alert?" The Beep beeped loudly. "Imminent threat ..." [Chirp: female singer (slang)]
They chased the beeps through puddles but when the street dried they lost them. "What the..?" said the Wabbit. It was then they heard it. Floating through the air. These were softer beeps with more beeps to the bar. "Beep beep beep. Beep beep beep beep." A tall figure leaned forward, one of two characters on the corner. "Just musicians ma'am. No cause for alarm." They rubbed their eyes in amazement but the two singers were still there. Now it was a driving beep. The Wabbit's head started to nod and his feet began to tap. Lapinette found herself swaying and she just couldn't stop. The Wabbit rummaged and pulled a blues harmonica from his fur. Lapinette found an old microphone in her frock. "That beep beep beep," sang the Wabbit. "Knocks us off our feet," sang Lapinette. "We really had to leap," sang the Wabbit. "But we didn't dig the beep," warbled Lapinette. The Wabbit's harmonica wailed louder, then beeped and mysteriously stopped. "You got trouble?" asked the tall singer. The Wabbit nodded his head. "The beeps want something. We're chasin' the beeps." The singers chuckled and looked at each other. "Don't that beep all!" The Wabbit's grin was lopsided and the tall one took pity. "They're here, round the back," "It's the scene for beepniks," said the other. The Wabbit and Lapinette raced round the corner and out of sight. The musicians stared after them. "Was that the Blues Bunnies?"
The Wabbit had to take a decision and he thought it better be fast. He grabbed Lapinette by the fur and pushed her over the bridge. "Leap!" he yelled and then he leaped too. It was a long way but the sound of lashing rain covered the beeping and for a moment things seemed calm. Lapinette looked down. She picked a clear spot, adjusted her ears and spread out. The Wabbit squinted at the ground, scrunched his shoulders and started to roll in a ball. Their plummet seemed to take a while so the Wabbit thought about the beep and tried to figure what it wanted. Lapinette also tried to figure what the beep wanted. Then she mentally cancelled three appointments, replacing them with one at the furdressers. The ground approached. Lapinette could hear it coming because every drop of rain that fell made a squelchy beep. The Wabbit hit the ground with a thud and rolled across the puddles. Lapinette threw her legs forward, her arms back and landed as gracefully as any seabird. The wind dropped but the clouds continued to throw rain. Liquid beeps filled the air and the old abandoned shopping centre echoed them. It was a raindrenched symphony that alerted the Wabbit to something and he tried to grasp its meaning. Suddenly the rain stopped and with it, the beeping. Lapinette saw the Wabbit's face. "Did you get it?" The Wabbit shook his head. The beeping started again. "The beep goes on," sighed the Wabbit.
High on the bridge it was windy but it was the quickest way. Lapinette grabbed her ears with one paw and held down her frock with the other. The Passerella Olimpica wasn't usually that bad but the wind carried a deafening beep that made them nervous. The Wabbit steadied Lapinette as gusts blew her right and left. "This isn't wind," yelled the Wabbit, "this is sound." The bridge swayed like a drunken pianist. Gale force beeps tore at their fur. The Wabbit shrugged as best he could, gritted his 28 teeth and ploughed on. "It's talking to us," he shouted. Lapinette managed a smile. "Have you been at the cooking whisky again?" The Wabbit thought briefly and decided it was a good idea. "Did you see the shapes?" "I saw some stuff," yelled Lapinette, "and that square nearly hit me in the eye." The Wabbit's ears looped back and flattened. "OK, there's your square, a saw, a sine, and ...." The Wabbit ducked as a triangle whirled past his head. Lapinette was sceptical. "You always have all the angles, Wabbit." The Wabbit agreed, but avoided saying so. "These beeps are nothing but trouble," he grumbled. Lapinette grabbed his fur. "I'll be glad to get off this thing!" The Wabbit looked into the distance and studied the end of the bridge. It looked perfectly calm and he frowned. "I think we're stuck." "Lapinette frowned too. "On this beeping bridge?" The Wabbit groaned and mimed a radio. "Beep us down, Scotty."
The beep came from the Art Gallery. It was well locked but that didn't seem to worry the Wabbit, who did something with a credit card and a nail file. Locks snapped open with three short beeps and lights flooded the hall. "Can you stop this infernal beeping?" said an Exhibit. The Wabbit hopped up to examine the upper structure, while Lapinette knelt to listen to a very small figure. But she couldn't hear him for beeps because her paws were beeping loudly. The Wabbit asked a question. "What about the audible alert?" Two eyes flared. "It came this way and beeped at us and now we're beeping too." "What was it like?" asked the Wabbit. The Exhibit gave a snort. "It's a beeping sound, it goes beep. Anyway, what's your name?" "I'm the Wabbit and this is Lapinette," replied the Wabbit. The Exhibit's eyes flickered. "Where are your tickets?" "We broke in," shrugged the Wabbit. "Excellent," said the Exhibit, "it's good someone came." The Wabbit's ears pricked up at at the sound of another alert. "Piezo-ceramic transducer," said Lapinette. "He's not our main beep." "We're knee deep in beeps," said the Wabbit. "Where can they all be going?" Suddenly Lapinette bent close to the small creature and listened. "I got a lead. A place where beeps hang out."
The Wabbit couldn't sleep. An audible alert kept sounding and he couldn't find it anywhere. He searched his wardrobe to track down all radio devices and found some he couldn't remember he had. But the annoying alert kept going. He examined clocks, computers, cooking appliances and cameras and they all started to beep too. The microwave, food mixer, toaster and kettle joined in. But they weren't exactly the same beep and the source of the original alert remained elusive. "Where the Binky is it?" muttered the Wabbit. He put his coat on, lifted two radios that he judged had the most authentic beep - and made his way to the street. By this time he was bad-tempered and he barely heard Lapinette scampering up with a beeping radio. "Wabbit, what's this alert? Even my fur drier is beeping." The Wabbit moved his head away from the radios. "They're not really beeps. They're analog. They're a recording of beeps." Lapinette was irritable. "Why? My automatic is beeping. My make up case is beeping. Everything is beeping." "It's a warning, copying itself to all your devices," said the Wabbit. "I know it's a warning!" yelled Lapinette, "but I want to be de-beeped!" "Maybe if we find out what the alert is for," murmured the Wabbit, "we can disable it." Lapinette's ears swivelled and focussed. "I can hear it now. And it seems to be moving." "Let's follow it, " said the Wabbit, "or we'll never get a wink of bleep."