Monday, March 30, 2020

3. Lapinette and the Dragon on the Roof

Not far from Wabsworth's laboratory, Lapinette was looking out a window when a dragon swooped across the rooftops. It dived straight at her and picked her up. Lapinette struggled valiantly. Even though her feet scraped the tiles she somehow managed to pluck an edged weapon from her frock. She struck out once and missed - but the second swipe caught the dragon's foot. He let out a terrifying bellow as blood sprayed on the roof. "Let go, you monster!" yelled Lapinette. The knife flashed again to some effect. The dragon let out a roar and shook her to and fro, but it dropped her. She rolled down the roof and slid over the edge. The street looked a long way down so she clung on with a single paw. With the other she lashed out at the dragon. Snapping teeth moved closer. Jaws opened and clamped up and down close to her face, but only snapped off a few tiles. Lapinette swung along the edge of the roof, searching by touch for the open window. At last her feet found the ledge and with one paw she tried to swing in. The dragon's teeth were razor sharp and raked along the roof edge, making a good grip impossible. But she struck again with the knife and this time she got lucky. The dragon's nose spurted blood. It shrieked as it recoiled and lifted from the roof. Lapinette dived inside and lay panting on the floor. She covered her ears from the deafening sound of the dragon crashing down on the roof again and again. Tiles flew everywhere. The ceiling bulged. Lapinette rolled and leaped up to make for the stairs and the street ....

Friday, March 27, 2020

2. Wabsworth and the Sudden Shake

Wabsworth returned to his laboratory and extracted the flask from his fur. This he did alone - just in case. He was an android and generally remained unaffected by poison, germs or magic drops of any kind. Nonetheless he took a lot of care. Wabsworth watched a significant amount of television from the sixties and he hummed "Puff the Magic Dragon," as he worked. But just as he got to the end, he felt the building shake under his feet. The laboratory tipped to the right and then tipped to the left. "Earthquake," growled Wabsworth. He dived for the flask, but it slid along the counter top, hit another flask and shot into the air. Dragon drops slopped around and frothed, then the cap detached just as the flask cracked down the side. Something came out. Wabsworth lurched back as an aftershock hit the lab. He scrabbled for a grip as he slid down a cabinet. The thing emerged with a faint hissing. Now it was much bigger. It spread its wings dragon-wide and then took off - plunging through the reinforced glass windows of the lab without pausing. Wabsworth watched it vanish down a corridor and felt in his fur for his walkie talkie. The radio hummed and crackled but failed to connect. So he hit it just like the Wabbit. A faint sound emerged so he shouted, "Code Red, Creature Loose. Agent in pursuit." He scrambled after it, only to see from the stairway window a silhouette of a dragon against the Turin sky. "Smuckdragon, that's torn it!" he gasped.

Wednesday, March 25, 2020

1. The Wabbit and the Falling Droplets

The Wabbit and Wabsworth, his android double, were on a bit of a constitutional. The sky was the most beautiful winter blue but a sharp sun filtered through, giving warmth to their fur. "We can be Kings of the Castle," said Wabsworth. The Wabbit smiled. "Strictly speaking it's a villa and it used to belong to dragons." Wabsworth's circuits whirred. "I thought dragons were more the cave type."  The Wabbit shrugged. "Even dragons want to be legit." He caught a flash of light from above his head so he looked up and squinted his eyes. Then he heard a roar from the sky. "Get out the way, Wabbit!" shouted Terni the Dragon. "Shouldn't you be in Rome, Terni?" asked the Wabbit. He deftly dodged drops coming from a pipe. Terni dropped lower and lower and roared, "Whatever you do, don't get any of that on your fur." "Any of what, exactly?" The Wabbit could very dense on occasions, but Wabsworth was on the ball and he pulled the Wabbit away from the drops. Terni landed with a considerable thump. His peppery nose breathed fire. "These drops can turn you into a dragon and not a very nice dragon at that." Wabsworth looked curious and pulled a flask from his fur. "Bad Dragon Drops?" He stretched out a paw and collected drops until the vessel was half full. "I'm going to test these in my laboratory." The Wabbit raised an eye. "Are we going into the Bad Dragon breeding business?" Wabsworth smiled in a malicious way that the Wabbit had noticed before. Terni breathed fire again. "Thinking of sowing a few Bad Dragon's teeth?"

Monday, March 23, 2020

The Wabbit at his Adventure Caffè

The team assembled at the chosen Adventure Caffè. The Wabbit was first to arrive and he hummed and hawed and complained about the lateness of others. But suddenly everyone bustled around him, laughing. The Wabbit leaned towards Lapinette. "Hello Lap, won't ya take a pew?"  Lapinette pirouetted. "What no drinks?" The Wabbit tapped the table. "On their way, they is on their way." Skratch meowed loudly. "Here I am!" Wabsworth sat down and looked at the Wabbit. "What was that for a sort of Adventure we weren't in?" Skratch wasn't about to give up his special position as the analyser of stories. "It was an eco-adventure mobilising an adventurous speculative discourse."  Wabsworth nodded. I completely agree. "It's positioning as a part of contemporary ecological concerns rooted it decisively in historical process." Skratch purred. "Have you been reading my letters to the trade press concerning the postmodern assassins of theory?" "Yes," admitted Wabsworth, "I saw a round robin citing you as a prejudiced dinosaur." "Excellent," growled Skratch. His claws extended and retracted. Lapinette joined in. "Don't you think it's quite disgraceful?" The Wabbit shook his head. "I do but, like postmodernism, disgrace takes us nowhere in understanding the hidden mechanisms of suture." With her paws in the air, Lapinette pirouetted again. "We will therefore continue to hold the line for theory." The Wabbit turned and yelled to a waiter, "But not without a drink!"

Friday, March 20, 2020

11. The Wabbit and the Next Situation

The voyage home was uneventful and as the Lepus slid into port, the Wabbit looked over the side. There was no sign of Akwat fish. "Mission accomplished." The Wabbit was thinking aloud. He heard the sound of a helichopper but merely inclined his head to let Captain Jenny take care of it. He was tired. He heard Jenny on the tannoy and turned. The helichopper tipped a salute and he waved a paw. "Clean-up squad despatched," murmured Lapinette from behind him. The Wabbit smiled. "What next, Lapinette?" Lapinette whistled like a ship's pipe. "Message from the Department, there's a situation." She laughed. "What kind of a situation?" grinned the Wabbit. Lapinette shook her head. "The message wasn't situation specific." The Wabbit considered. "Well, it's bound to be a sticky situation." "Otherwise we wouldn't get the job," giggled Lapinette. "We are the perfect unstickers," nodded the Wabbit. The sound of the helichopper's rotors faded in the distance. "But I'd like to unstick something fairly simple." He flicked imaginary lint from his fur. "Ah, like food from your fur?" suggested Lapinette. "No, something like an envelope," answered the Wabbit. "What about the contents of the envelope?" said Lapinette. The Wabbit thought for a moment. "I could delegate that."  Lapinette thought for a second and asked "Who to?" But she knew what was coming. "To you?" shrugged the Wabbit.

Wednesday, March 18, 2020

10. The Wabbit and the Polluted Pond

The Wabbit and Lapinette inspected the river until Lapinette pointed and shouted "Look!" A noxious scummy sediment swirled on the surface and clung to the bank. The Wabbit didn't hesitate. He searched his fur and from some dim recess plucked a strange meter. Then he plunged into the river. Lapinette wrinkled her nose but she plunged in too and swam towards something that floated half in and out of the water. It was a baby Akwat. She poked it. "It's quite dead," she shouted. The Wabbit took a water sample and pressed a button. The meter whirred. Then it rang and its monitor flashed information. He gasped and Lapinette looked round. He beckoned and she swam towards him. "The water's full of oxazepram," he said. His brow wrinkled and he shrugged. "Pam," corrected Lapinette. She tried to recall something. "I've read about this. The waste makes timid fish aggressive." The Wabbit laughed. "Good thing you went to that nature night class." Lapinette suppressed a scowl. "It was full of nerdy nerds." Her ears pricked up and she turned. "Something's dripping." The Wabbit gasped again. It had been hidden by branches but now the canister on the opposite bank was obvious. It was leeching pharmaceutical waste into the river. "We'll send a clean-up squad by helichopper," said the Wabbit. "OK. Let's get out of this polluted place now," replied Lapinette. She scrambled up the bank and looked back to the Wabbit. He was still in the river and he grinned. "I was getting to like it."
[Information on pollution and change in fish habits]

Monday, March 16, 2020

9. The Wabbit and the Akwat Children

Following a track made by the Strige, Lapinette and the Wabbit found themselves at a river fed by a waterfall. Lapinette gestured for quiet. Above the sound of cascading water, they heard anguished wailing. They waited. From the top of the waterfall, three small Akwats tumbled down the rocks and into the plunge pool where they floated on their side, flapping and gasping. A larger Akwat looked helplessly over the tip. Lapinette lay down her snazer gun. The Wabbit did likewise and they both bent to look. "They're sick," said Lapinette. The young Akwats gasped on the surface of the water. The Wabbit shook his head. "I have antibiotics, but they're back at the ship." Lapinette looked at the woods. "I know some varieties of mushrooms that might work" The Wabbit reached out for an ailing Akwat and drew it towards him. "Go hop around, I'll do my best." Lapinette disappeared into the woods. The Wabbit took an Akwat by the gills and moved them around. When it started to soften, he reached out for another. The Akwat mother drew closer and watched. "No time to lose," said the Wabbit and he nodded in her direction. He grasped the gills of the last Akwat and moved them rapidly. The fish came around and escaped from his grasp. "You don't look as if you need any help," said Lapinette. She set down a variety of fungi and ground them beneath a rock. Together they distributed the medicine in the pool and watched the water bubble as the Akwats ate and played. "Maybe we're in the wrong job," laughed the Wabbit.

Friday, March 13, 2020

8. The Wabbit and the Malignant Myth

The shape shimmered and became opaque. Between a human and a bird, it perched on a rock nearby. Lapinette pointed her snazer. So did the Wabbit. A yellow sun lit the sea and in the distance they saw Akwats leaping across it like dolphins. Waves crashed soundlessly on the rocks.  "Complaints?" asked the shape for the second time. Its voice was treacle. Mutated wings fluttered. Feet skittered on the rocky outcrop. "Are you a mythical Strige?" said Lapinette. The shape nodded gravely and asked, "What is the nature of your complaint?" Lapinette waved her weapon at the sea and snarled. "We're complaining about these Akwats." The Wabbit growled. "Why are they here?" The Strige's face twisted into what must have been a smile. "They came to complain about you." The Wabbit gasped. "The cheek of it! What are you going to do about it?"  The Strige cackled. "You wish me to touch them with my evil wing?" The Wabbit wasn't happy. He poked the Strige with his gun. "What would happen?" The Strige shimmered and nearly vanished. "They'd rot." He reappeared again and Lapinette hopped forward. "They're bad enough already." The Strige whirled round and screeched at the Wabbit. "I can make you into puppets." "You can't," yelled Lapinette. The Strige whirled back, but the Wabbit yelled, "You're a has-been bird." So did Lapinette and they chanted, "Has-been, has-been, has-been!" The Strige whirled so much it bored a hole in the rock and dropped in. "The bird has bolted," laughed the Wabbit.
[Thanks to : Classical Culture and Witchcraft in Medieval and Renaissance Italy Marina Montessano]

Wednesday, March 11, 2020

7. The Wabbit and the Isle of Complaints

Followed by the Akwats, the Lepus coasted through the fog - but the fog was entirely its own. Land loomed quickly and Jenny threw the Lepus into Emergency Astern. There was a splash as she let the anchor drop into the sea. It was just in time. The Lepus scraped sand and gravel. The Akwats quickly vanished. "Nothing on radar," growled Jenny. "This place doesn't exist." The Wabbit and Lapinette strapped on snazer guns and dropped over the side. "It seems solid enough," said the Wabbit. Murky water washed across his legs and splashed upwards on his face. "Stupid wet gravelly island," he grumbled. Lapinette suppressed a laugh. "Then this must be the Isle of Complaints." Her voice was muffled and there was hardly a sound as they made their way up the beach. No wind, no birds, nothing. The Wabbit scuffed the beach, picked up a rock and threw it in the sea. It skimmed and bounced along the surface with no noise. He shouted and yelled. Lapinette shook her head. She could hardly hear a thing. She leaned close and screamed in the Wabbit's ears. "The island absorbs sound." He gripped her by the paw and together they moved inland. He stopped with a jerk. "I can feel movement." He looked straight ahead. Lapinette could see nothing. "Show yourself," said the Wabbit. Directly in front, the air shimmered as if it was rising from hot tarmac. A vague shape emerged and a quavering voice spoke. "Have you brought me any complaints?"

Monday, March 09, 2020

6. The Wabbit and the Akwat Attack

The Wabbit's music boomed over an empty sea and for a while, that was all there was. But the sky turned yellow. The waves took on a strange, ultraviolet hue. A layer of rock thrust up from the water, catching the keel of the Lepus, which threatened to capsize. Water coursed everywhere. Jenny turned on the Wabtek device and the Lepus lifted. For a moment the ship lay stranded along the rock. The Wabbit turned up the volume but it made matters worse. The Akwat creatures seemed to enjoy the music and their jaws clamped round the Lepus from stem to stern. The Lepus groaned in pain. "Kill the music, Wabbit!" yelled Jenny. The music died as the ship's giant cannon swung round the stern until Jenny got a bearing. "Fire!" she yelled. Shrieks rent the air as the reminder of her cannons fired port and starboard. Akwats plunged threshing into the water. Now the Lepus hovered, but an unknown force drew it back. Jenny let the Lepus drop with a mighty splash and signalled for full ahead. The Wabbit lurched across the bridge and hit the foghorns. The mournful sound carried across the waves and remaining Akwats moaned with them. One by one they dived under the surface and disappeared. The Lepus headed for the horizon as fast as her engines could take her. "That was close," muttered Jenny. The Wabbit peered at the surface. "They're following." He sounded the foghorns again. The Akwats fell back, but up ahead he could see a swirling mist which quickly thickened to pea soup. "We summoned our own fog," sighed Jenny.

Friday, March 06, 2020

5. The Wabbit in the Sea of Complaints

An impenetrable barrier bounded the Sea of Complaints. All looked lost until the Wabbit's Wabtek technology enabled the Lepus to fly over the barrier like a salmon leaping back to the spawning grounds. But the Sea of Complaints lived up to its name and the Lepus tossed and turned in violent waters on the other side of the barrier. Lapinette retired to her quarters and buried her head in her bunk. Even the Wabbit turned green. Captain Jenny gritted her teeth and spinning the wheel to and fro, she urged the Lepus forward. Soon they left the barrier far behind and the Wabbit breathed a sigh of relief. "I hope the Akwat fish are here after all that bother." Jenny smiled. "What bother was that, Commander?" Now the Wabbit could hear the thrum of the engines and his stomach settled down. The Lepus cleaved a path through a calm sea leaving a clean, shapely wake. Lapinette appeared from her cabin. Her face was no longer lime green, but had faded to the colour of young asparagus. She tried to sound chirpy. "Any sign of the fish?" The Wabbit shook his head and fished in his fur for electrical bits and pieces. Then he vanished below to make ready the soundbait. Lapinette heard him warble a song. "Gone fishin'. Put a sign upon my door." Amplifiers rasped out a crackly version of the ancient classic, recorded by the Wabbit himself. Lapinette covered her ears. Jenny leaned across. "What key is the Wabbit singing in?" "The key to Hell," grimaced Lapinette. 

Monday, March 02, 2020

4. The Wabbit and the Grouchy Sea.

The Lepus sailed at dawn despite the conditions. The Lepus pitched yawed and rolled and for once Lapinette seemed happy. The Wabbit looked across. "The tablets I gave you are working!" Lapinette laughed and inspected the controls. "Which button is the Stealthicator?" Jenny grunted. "On your right. You can press it if you like." Lapinette jabbed it. The Lepus shimmered and Lapinette saw the bow vanish. Jenny grunted again. "The Wabbit made a modification. Want to try?" Lapinette's smile turned upside down, but she said. "OK." The Lepus shimmered again. Now Lapinette was looking at the bow of a sailing ship. "Nice," she breathed and made it vanish again. The Wabbit waved his paws wide. "I can do a tug, a pilot ship, an oil rig and a tea clipper."  That's handy," acknowledged Lapinette. She batted her eyes. Waves crashed against the windows. The Lepus shuddered. "Where are we headed?" gulped Lapinette. Her eyes moved to the back of her head. "We be seeking the Akwat breeding grounds." said Jenny. She rolled with the ship. "If indeed they exist," added the Wabbit. He looked at Lapinette. She was beginning to look green. "Have another tablet," he suggested. Lapinette knocked back another tablet and stabilised. "So where are the grounds?" Jenny squinted. "They're said to be in the Sea of Complaints." Lapinette giggled for quite some time. "Is that why we brought the Wabbit?"