Friday, March 29, 2019

1. The Wabbit and the Mystery Bus

The bus was a long time coming, so the Wabbit and Lapinette decided to hop home instead. But just as they reached the top of the road, they heard the Sassi bus coming up from the park. Lapinette turned to watch. The lights on the bus shimmered in the distance. "That doesn't look like our bus." The Wabbit turned too. "Maybe it's a new route," he suggested. "Let's take it," smiled Lapinette. The Wabbit shrugged. "What's the worst that can happen?" The bus shuddered to a stop, the doors hissed open and they both hopped inside. The bus took off and careered round the corner at high speed. "New driver?" said the Wabbit. They clung on for dear life as it shot across junctions and through traffic lights. It moved in short bursts like the driver was using the throttle and brake at the same time. The Wabbit decided to go and see the driver and he hopped down the corridor, but when he got to the front, there was no driver. Just an empty seat. The steering wheel twisted and turned by itself. The throttle pedal jerked up and down and so did the hand brake. When the Wabbit tried to take the wheel, an electric shock sent him flying to the back of the bus. He grabbed Lapinette and they tried to lever a door open but to no avail. It was stuck fast. The bus picked up speed. Buildings loomed and vanished. The Wabbit pointed out the front. "The river!" The bus left paintwork behind as it shaved past a bridge and pitched down the embankment ...

Monday, March 25, 2019

The Wabbit at his Adventure Caffè

The Wabbit had spotted a new caffe and given everyone the address. Captain Jenny arrived first and sat down. She looked around for the bar. Wabsworth drifted in and turned to greet Lapinette and Skratch the Cat. Then he spoke to the Wabbit. "Here's Skratch to tell us all what kind of Adventure you just had." Skratch purred and cast an eye over the interior. "Wabbit, I must tell you I don't believe in ferries." The Wabbit was nonplussed. Lapinette hung on the door. "Skratch means you were in a bit of a ferry tale." "Ah," laughed the Wabbit. "I suppose I was." Skratch purred, "Through varied adaptability and intermediality, the ferry tale offered cultural specificity." Everyone nodded knowledgeably. "Yet it transcended time and space," continued Skratch. "Because it had heterotemporality," suggested Wabsworth. "And hereotespatiality," added Lapinette, "since it narrated the space of location but left little residue." Wabsworth had been reading. "The tale evokes an imaginary space but one which is predicated on concrete socio-political events." The Wabbit clapped his paws. "Our ghost ferry was both real and unreal. It existed on paper, in accounts ledgers, and in carefully annotated governmental memoranda." "That," stated Jenny, "is a kind of reality." "Real people got paid," said Lapinette. She pirouetted in the doorway. "Talking of pay, where's the drinks?" asked the Wabbit. Lapinette started to laugh. "Wabbit, this isn't a restaurant - it's a furniture showroom." 
[Inspired by Fairy Tale Films by Pauline Greenhill.  Children’s Literature, Film, TV, and Media, Interdisciplinary Approaches to Literary Studies ]

Friday, March 22, 2019

9. The Wabbit and the Spoils of War

The Wabbit and Jenny stood on the bow of the Lepus and discussed the future of the ghost ship. They had seized it in the night and the unsuccessful souls released by the spectres crowded the deck. With a skeleton crew and a new name, it had orders to sail for Wablantis where its passengers could make new lives. The souls felt substance return to their bodies as they looked across the waves. The Wabbit heard cheering and he smiled a secret smile. Captain Jenny saw it. "You be certain about this, Commander?" The Wabbit shook his head because he didn't really know. The ship was a rust bucket and only vaguely seaworthy - but he thought she'd make it. "They'll have to work together," he shrugged. He looked over the side and into the deep. The spectres were weighed down at the bottom, forty fathom deep and shackled with old iron claws as sharp as razors.  "Last we'll see of them," muttered the Wabbit. Captain Jenny snorted and tilted her pirate hat. "There be more spectres in the City than you can shake a stick at." The Wabbit grinned. "Well they won't be running ghost ferries in the near future." He gazed at the sea. It was super calm, with hardly a ripple. But a shape suddenly surfaced and he shrieked, "No! Another one!" Jenny chuckled. "That be only a trash bag," The Wabbit groaned and hit his head with a paw. "Black sack crossed our path."

Wednesday, March 20, 2019

8. The Wabbit and the Spectral Exorcism

Seaweed crept across the deck until it oozed over Wabbit's feet. The spectres were on board and they didn't look happy. The ramp lifted and closed behind them. The Wabbit murmured into his walkie talkie and the Lepus shuddered as its engines fired. The spectres shed sea spray. The Wabbit kicked the bell and they froze for a moment. "Give up your souls!" yelled the Wabbit. He waved his walkie talkie at them. "And begone you hostile powers." A spectre spread oily arms wide. His voice was between a moan and a sneer. "Make us." The three spectres laughed and pointed and swore. The spectre at the back waved and shouted, "In your fur." Then the spectre at the front stepped forward, shook his ghastly head and clutched himself. "I need to go." A stream of yellow green liquid ran from his cloak onto the deck. Paint bubbled and burned. "Aha ha ha," gurgled the spectre, "that's better." The Wabbit stood his ground. The Lepus vibrated - she was underway, he could feel it. "We're taking you where you can do no harm." For the first time, the spectres seemed alarmed. They shifted uneasily and mumbled curses. They huddled together and spat on the deck. "We'll take your soul!" The Wabbit whacked the bell and yelled. "You'll have to find it first." Now they shrivelled down until their cloaks lay on the deck. "Pray," shouted the Wabbit, "The longer you delay, the heavier your punishment will be." How heavy?" whimpered a spectre." "Heavier than a bad breakfast," snapped the Wabbit.

Monday, March 18, 2019

7. The Wabbit and the Dead Bell Jazz

The Wabbit and Jenny commandeered a small craft. The gentle swell made it bob gently in the water and for a while the Wabbit thought nothing was happening. Jenny took out a packet of Sulphur Soap. "Where did you find it?" murmured the Wabbit. "In a shop," shrugged Jenny. They waited. There was nothing, merely the vague sound of an outboard motor. It was all too quiet and the Wabbit said so. "Maybe it's time, Commander," said Jenny, "Ring the bell." The Wabbit had given little thought to ringing the bell and had brought nothing to hit it with. But he tried to think of the loudest drumming he'd ever heard and came up with Max Roach. He whacked the drum with both paws. It boinged across the water. He hit it again in a series of broken rhythms that echoed from every building on the dock. Jenny gazed across the water. "Here they come." The Wabbit's drumming became frantic. Jenny took out sulphur soap and sprinkled it over the side like goldfish food. She waited and listened then  sprinkled some more. A green glow lit the depths. Three heads emerged from the water, nodding as if entranced. They came close but not too close, swaying from side to side. The Wabbit heard hoarse whispering and he continued to hit the bell. But he was getting tired. "What do we do now?"  Jenny started the motor and the craft crept forward. The spectres wheeled and followed. Jenny grinned an unpleasant grin. "Keep playing, we're going to the Lepus."

Friday, March 15, 2019

6. The Wabbit and the Big Ship's Bell

The Wabbit didn't think he'd have much bother getting a bell. The docks were full of ships and most of them had large brass affairs, heavily polished by the ship's cook. He snuck aboard the bow of the handiest ship and located the bell with ease. But he hadn't reckoned with the weight. He tried to ease it down but when it came loose, it nearly pinned him to the deck. The Wabbit swore quietly with all the seafaring curses he could remember. He reached for a rag on the deck and wound it round the clapper. Then he heaved the bell on his shoulder. "Phew!" groaned the Wabbit, "this must weigh twenty kilos." He lurched onto the pier and the bell swung onto his other shoulder. The rag unwound and the clapper hit the inside of the bell, which duly pealed out across the length and breadth of the docks. He heard a stirring from the bridge and some angry shouts, so he hopped along the wharf at enormous speed. But the faster he went, the more the bell rang. It dropped on his foot and he kicked it in retaliation but that made even more noise. He ducked into an alleyway and pulled the bell behind him. A mob of furious sailors ran past. "He went that way," one of them shouted. "Get him!" shouted another." The Wabbit fished in his fur for a nylon tie and secured the clapper. Then with as much silence as he could muster and a using a minimum of oaths, he rolled the bell towards the city ...

Wednesday, March 13, 2019

5. The Wabbit, Jenny and the City Spooks

Pirate Jenny and the Wabbit followed them through the city. The spectres paid visits to a series of financial buildings and each time they emerged they appeared to have changed. Now they wore cloaks. Facial features emerged. Eyes started to glow - dimly at first but brightening after each visit. The leader waved vestigial arms and beckoned. They called on more buildings, floating through marbled halls. They met no resistance. Nothing was an obstacle. The leader turned green and he seemed to slither on slime. The Wabbit grimaced and his nose twitched. He could smell an awful stench of seaweed and algae and rotting wood. Jenny touched him on the shoulder and drew her weapons. "They be collecting the unsuccessful souls for transport. They be paralyzed and absorbed into these creatures." "How many?" gasped the Wabbit. "Could be hundreds, maybe thousands," replied Jenny. The figures grew bigger and swept their cloaks wide as they gathered more souls. "Can they be vanquished?" asked the Wabbit. "There's only one way," said Jenny, "But we need a deid bell and sulphur soap." The Wabbit watched the cloaked figures melting in and out of doorways. Now they were all completely green and stank like a thousand hulks. He nodded. "I'll get the bell, you get the soap."

Monday, March 11, 2019

4. The Wabbit and the Container Ghosts

Pirate Jenny and the Wabbit crept onto the quiet dock and between the makeshift container village. The dock wasn't quiet for long. Container doors started to open and figures emerged. At first they were insubstantial but they quickly solidified and moved towards the city. They had little in the way of limbs or features. They appeared simply as cloaked shapes and like their ship, they could move through solid objects. The Wabbit expected them to make some ghost-like sound but they were almost silent. He could hear only the rustling of cloaks and whispering. Jenny tapped the Wabbit lightly on the shoulder. "They are creatures our pirate legends tell of. They live between land and sea, constantly shuttling back and forth." The Wabbit shivered. Jenny continued. "They protect the treasure of criminals who are long dead and whose booty continues to circulate as free trade." The figures suddenly wheeled around as if discovered. Jenny and the Wabbit ducked behind the sign. The Wabbit murmured. "Are they as pleasant as they look?" Jenny stifled a pirate guffaw. "They are the shadow of the stock markets and a million times as vicious." The Wabbit shrugged. "Just the usual then. What are they doing?" Jenny grimaced. "The legend says they visit investors to punish failure and reward success." "What happens to failures?" asked the Wabbit. Jenny shook her head. "They are taken. Then they too must shuttle between land and sea forever." It was the Wabbit's turn to shake his head. "What do they do with the rest of their time?"

Friday, March 08, 2019

3. The Wabbit and the Phantom Quay

The Lepus pursued the ghost ferry a long way, through the English Channel and down the Thames Estuary. No one noticed either ship steal into Canary Wharf and if they had, they would have paid scant attention. Vessels came and went. Visitors gawped and took photographs. The Lepus tucked in at Heron Quay and watched. The Wabbit was puzzled. "Where can they land the ghosts?" Captain Jenny strode up and down the bridge and laughed. "I think I know. They'll go to 'Arbour Quay."  "There's nothing there," said the Wabbit. "Exactly," said Jenny, "But it looks good on paper." "I saw the illustrations," grinned the Wabbit. A train passed overhead. Metal screeched and the bridge rumbled. Jenny spoke to the engine room. "Slow ahead." Quietly they followed. The ghost ferry ignored all obstacles. It simply shimmered and passed through them. The Wabbit squinted and made out a vast plain of mud bordered by a provisional quay, just wood and tyres. The ghostly ferry shuddered to a halt. The Wabbit heard it bump against wood. The quay groaned. The tyres squealed. Mist rose from the ferry's deck. Then - one by one - containers materialised, lifted and settled on the quay, stacking up like a block of apartments. Now they heard the ferry's engines. Its propellor threshed. The bow swung out and it started to turn. "What do we do now?" murmured the Wabbit. "We wait," said Jenny ...

Wednesday, March 06, 2019

2. The Wabbit and the Ghost Ferry

"Thar she blows," said Pirate Jenny. The Wabbit peered into binoculars. He could barely make out the ghostly ship. "One ugly ferry," said the Wabbit. He peered again and nudged Jenny. "These be containers." Jenny strode up and down the bridge, then swayed. "Ghost containers. All accounted for on the bill of lading." The Wabbit murmured to himself. "All ghosts have been loaded." The Lepus plunged and shot up from the waves. The sea washed over the bow and spray spattered the window. "Is the bill of lading clean and straight?" asked the Wabbit. Jenny spoke to the engine room. "Slow ahead. Engage Stealthicator." The Lepus vanished - all except for a skull and crossbones flag that snapped and fluttered in the wind. The ghost ferry was almost transparent and they watched its progress with difficulty. Jenny turned to the Wabbit. "They use a spookchain lading that indemnifies all parties." The Wabbit considered. "Ah, no paper record. So what about the ghosts?" Jenny smiled. "Independent ghost contractors. No connection with carrier or ghost company." The Wabbit watched the ferry. "But who pays the company? Who foots the bill?" "The powers that be," shrugged Jenny. The Wabbit slapped the bulkhead with a paw. "So what's the point?" Jenny grinned her broadest grin yet. "The company is paid for invisible services."

Monday, March 04, 2019

1. The Wabbit and the No Ferry Company

The Wabbit waited in the same place by the river every day for a week. He was quite tenacious, because he knew something was afoot. Despite an advertisement for a new ferry company - complete with timetable - the quay where ferries were due to dock was overgrown and dilapidated. Quayside windows were boarded over and signs hung broken and untidy. The company's advertisement also presented a mystery. It featured in a famous puzzle magazine, and was deeply concealed within conundrums and crosswords over the course of several weeks. Fervent readers dedicated their lives to solving that magazine's puzzles. The Wabbit was one of that stalwart band and knew the magazine generally featured no advertising. So when he first came across the brain teaser, he'd thought it an innovative kind of publicity. With puzzle magazine in paw, he checked it out. He wasn't the only one. Several people approached him. "Are you waiting for the new ferry?" With each enquiry, the Wabbit became more determined to get to the bottom of the mystery. He called Pirate Jenny for information. His walkie talkie crackled with Jenny's pirate voice. "Aharr, I think ye be looking for the Spookborne Packet Company." "That's the One," said the Wabbit. "It be a ghost company," said Jenny. "What do they transport?" asked the Wabbit. "Ghosts," said Jenny.

Friday, March 01, 2019

The Wabbit at his Adventure Caffè

Lapinette had located a new caffè and was urgently ushering the team inside. "Come on now, it's very popular and it gets busy now." The caffè lay at the top of one of Rome's seven hills, just beside the Big Observatory. The Wabbit sneaked a glance inside. It was nearly empty, but lunchtime approached. He nodded. "Where's Skratch?" A figure peered round the edge of the building. "Meaow!" said Skratch. "You're just in time to tell us about the Wabbit's adventure," murmured Wabsworth. "Aha," said Skratch. "Aha what?" said Wabsworth. "I refer to an 'aha' moment," purred Skratch. He turned to the Wabbit. "Wabbit. Have you considered your onieric sequence and come up with anything?" "I did not consider the story a dream," complained the Wabbit. "It was all rather real." Skratch shook his head. "Think deeply of the associations." The Wabbit winked at Wabsworth. "I was in a bar and I associate that with having a drink." Lapinette grinned and cleared her throat. "Wabbit you said everything was blue, which is deep and impenetrable. Can you fathom it?" The Wabbit shrugged and pointed inside the bar and waved. Everyone ignored him. "Truth?" offered Wabsworth. The Wabbit bounced up and down. "There's people coming up the hill, we'd best be quick!" No one paid the slightest attention. "Of course, the blue signifies the feminine," meaowed Skratch. The Wabbit's eyes lit up. He offered Lapinette a paw and bowed. Lapinette took his paw. "That's me," she smiled.