The Wabbit was hopping down by the river when he spotted something lying in the grass. Light caught the edge of the object and it looked shiny and attractive. It was a remote control. He bent down, picked it up and brushed off the grass. It wasn't for a television as he'd first imagined. He made out the manufacturer's name - Marantz. "This is for an amplifier," he thought. The Wabbit was pleased. He had a Marantz at home, but it had no remote. "Maybe it will operate something back at the burrow." He brushed grass and leaves from it. It looked none the worse for wear. In fact, it shone like the day it was made. He had a quick look at the battery compartment - and there were a couple in there. So just for fun, he played with it. He pressed most of the buttons and looked around to see if anything happened. No electronics on the river path, so he shrugged. But the button that caught his attention was the red one. The Wabbit had a bad record with red buttons. He'd pressed them before and without exception trouble ensued. Heaps of trouble. "I'd better leave it until I'm home," he said to himself. But the button flashed and glowed a dull red, as if it was calling to him. His paw crept toward the red button. "No," he thought, I'd better not." He made to slide the remote under his fur. But the button flashed again and made a sound. "Beweep!" The Wabbit shook it. "Bweeeeeep," it said, but much louder. "OK," said the Wabbit. He moved his paw towards the red button and pressed it. Colours seemed to brighten. Sounds were louder. He pressed again. Without warning his surroundings flashed and he found himself ... somewhere else entirely.
The team assembled at a Caffè of their choosing. It was in Via Vittorio Emanuele and was set out for lunch. "Let's have lunch then," said the Wabbit. "Why not?" said Lapinette. "Don't mind if I do," said Wabsworth. Wabsworth was an android copy of the Wabbit and had developed a food subroutine. He was especially fond of Spaghetti alle Vongole and the Wabbit liked to watch him eat it. Skratch was late as usual, and he slid in at the top table. "Whoa!" he said as a cyclist sped by. Lapinette laughed. "Ah Skratch, would you care for reheated substandard food delivered to your door?" Skratch shook his head vigorously. "I'd rather tell you what kind of adventure you just had." Wabsworth gurgled. "Don't you always?" Skratch ignored this and launched into his spiel. "It was a fantasy adventure where cartoons became living things." The Wabbit grinned. "Don't we always do that?" Skratch shook his head. "I mean very flat ones." The Wabbit nodded his head. "It was esoteric symbolism." Lapinette was sceptical. "I felt it was hyper anthropomorphism." Skratch was inclined to agree with the Wabbit. "A body part stood in for the whole animal with the attendant symbolism of teeth as a transformative object." Lapinette nodded. "We got our teeth into the concept of specified genre." The Wabbit was delighted. "Let's order! Wabsworth's having Spaghetti alle Vongole." Wabsworth wasn't happy. "I was going to have a change." Lapinette spoke soothingly. "You can have anything you want." Wabsworth beamed. "I want Spaghetti cacio e pepe con le cozze." The Wabbit rapped the table. "Make that four!"
Ghost Bunny was primed, ready and waiting as Lapinette and the Wabbit took the tooth to the pyramid on the hill on the pretext of an outing. The sky grew dark as storm clouds gathered. Waves crashed on a distant beach. It was the spookiest place they know. The tooth grew wary. "What is this dark place?" Lapinette took no notice. "A nice place for a picnic!" The Wabbit was jocular. "We always come here for a nice time." He looked around and then raised a paw. Slowly Ghost Bunny emerged from behind the pyramid and rose in a veil of smoke. She grew enormous. And then she spoke. "Tooth, tooth!" The tooth was rigid. "Tooth, you must give up your ways or I will haunt, haunt, haunt you." The tooth took a step back. He was no longer the happy, laughing tooth the Wabbit had met. "What ways?" His voice trembled. Ghost Bunny's eyes followed him. "Your sweets for your sweet, sweet ways. Give up sugar. No honey for your honey!" The Wabbit narrowed his eyes. "That's a song, isn't it?" "Shhhh!" said Lapinette. The tooth turned and ran down the steps, but he tripped and fell headlong in the grass. "I'll give it all up for you," he cried. "That's a song too," said the Wabbit. Lapinette felt sorry for the tooth, and she went to help him up. She made a sign to Ghost Bunny, who then disappeared behind the pyramid. "I don't think I want anything sweet anymore," gasped the tooth. Lapinette smiled and lifted him. "You're sweet enough as you are." The Wabbit clapped his paws and grinned. "Our work is done." Ghost Bunny's voice boomed from behind the pyramid. "That'll cost you a bespook dinner..."
The Wabbit and Lapinette conferred once more. They were running out of options for the tooth with the addictive personality. It was Lapinette who suggested the Eagle caretaker at the Big Cemetery - and together they set off to find him. The Eagle hovered above. "I do have a statue with a chipped tooth. She's over here." And there she was. She stepped from her plinth to speak to the tooth. But no matter what size he made himself, nor how he offered himself up, he just wouldn't fit inside the delicate head. The Wabbit was nonplussed, because he'd had high hopes for the placement. The statue spoke in a soothing voice. "You need to address your addiction problem for yourself, young tooth." Then she popped back on to her plinth and froze in her original position. "Thanks Eagle," said Lapinette, "it was worth a try. They stood around for a while, trying to think of a solution. The Eagle spoke. "Have you tried Ghost Bunny?" he asked. The Wabbit and Lapinette were amazed. "You know Ghost Bunny?" The Eagle laughed. "Of course. She often haunts around here - after calling in at the Coffee Museum for an espresso." The Wabbit was astonished. "There are more things in heaven and earth," he muttered. The Eagle nodded gravely. "As a stranger I gave her welcome. We spook around the catacombs just for a laugh." He made a series of high-pitched piping notes that resembled a chuckle. Lapinette asked, "What's your suggestion?" The Eagle pulled Lapinette aside and whistled a whisper. "Fright treatment." Lapinette grinned. "Fright or flight. It might just work."
The Wabbit suggested to the tooth that he had to go to rehab. The tooth was aghast. "I don't want to go to Rehab," he yelled. "No, no, no!" The Wabbit and Lapinette went into discussion and they recalled Wabsworth's hypnotism subroutine. Wabsworth was an android and good at many things. "I've seen him do it," said the Wabbit. "It really works." Lapinette was sceptical. "Who did he try it on?" "On me," replied the Wabbit. "He suggested I ran a restaurant at the Palazzo Madama and I went in there and sold salad sandwiches." Lapinette waited. "I don't remember much about it," continued the Wabbit, "but I made some money." Lapinette paused, shook her head and then agreed. "Nothing to lose." The Wabbit summoned Wabsworth and Lapinette supplied the couch. Then the Wabbit addressed the tooth. "Look how nice this is!" he said. "Your sugar addiction will be gone in no time." The tooth lay on the couch and smiled. "I love sugar. I can't get enough." Wabsworth strode into the room. "Look into my eyes, look into my eyes," he said. Lightning bolts shot from his paws. The eyes on the tooth bulged out. He smiled in a listless fashion. "You hate sugar," said Wabsworth, "Now say it after me. I hate sugar." The tooth lolled. "I hate sugar," he gasped. Wabsworth went on. "How much do you hate sugar?" The eyes on the tooth bulged again. "I loathe sugar." Wabsworth stepped back and snapped his fingers. "You're cured," he said. He offered the tooth a sugar lump but the tooth shook his head and declined. The tooth lay back. "Got any honey?" The Wabbit and Lapinette looked at each other. The Wabbit slapped a paw to his head. "That'll give him a buzz."
The Wabbit's tummy rumbled. He was hungry and he just had to stop for food. Lapinette warned him. "You'll feel sick after. You always do." The Wabbit knew this, but he ignored the warning and advanced on the slot machines with coin in paw. "What to have? What to have?" murmured the Wabbit. The afternoon was advanced and now a little darker. The Wabbit liked the light from the slot machines and he angled himself to make the best use of it. All the same, he had that same feeling he was being followed. Lapinette looked back. "Wabbit!" Emerging from her case was a tooth - and it got bigger. It bounced towards the Wabbit. Lapinette thought she heard it say, "Sugar!" The tooth stuck out a rudimentary hand. "Want sugar!" It looked at the rows of chocolate bars. "Want sugar now!" It was only then that the Wabbit turned. He'd bought a packet of chocolate buttons and he grasped them back and away from the tooth. But the moment the tooth wanted them it was struck with a bolt of electricity. "Aaaagh," he shouted. "Headache, headache, headache!" Now it was all clear to the Wabbit. "You're Mentaldent!" Lapinette wasn't impressed. "Don't tell me you know this fellow?" The Wabbit stared at the tooth. "He's from an advertising poster in Via Sacchi." The tooth held two hands to his head and hopped back inside the case. "How did he get into my luggage?" asked Lapinette. The Wabbit shrugged. "He's been following me." A voice came from the case. "Headache gone." There was a pause, then, "Need sugar." The Wabbit knew what was happening. "He has an addiction." Lapinette sighed. "One day at a time sweet Jesus."
Lapinette sped along the platform and onto the concourse with never a care in the world. The Wabbit stood on the platform with her suitcases. The train was long gone and he had been late. He tested the suitcases. Lapinette called back. "One of them is a trundly trolley, you should manage that one." He grinned and started to make his way along the platform. At the same time, he could feel a presence and he turned round. Nothing there. He looked around the suitcases. Nothing. He wished he had Wabsworth there to help him. Then he heard a noise. It was just like a tooth grinding. He ground his own 28 teeth. Maybe one was broken - but there was nothing amiss there. He felt the case get heavier. He pulled it. It was definitely not the case he's started with. "Come on Wabbit!" yelled Lapinette, "Nothing to see here!" But he heard a chattering from inside the larger case. It was coming from one of these carbon fibre jobs with all sorts of zips and fastenings and covered with stickers. The Wabbit assumed there was something metal inside. Some special lock or other. He knew Lapinette liked her gadgets - and so it must be one. "Did you bring a chattering thing?" he shouted. "Just you!" came the reply. Lapinette's voice was fainter and he noticed she'd stopped at the bag shop. "Another bag?" suggested the Wabbit. Lapinette turned. "I could use another rucksack." The Wabbit loped along with the luggage in tow and caught up with her at the shop. "Get one for me," he smiled, "I could use another bag too."
The Wabbit was meeting Lapinette at the station but he had time to spare. So he hopped along Via Sacchi in the sun, looking at the adverts. He'd nearly reached Via Legnano when he noticed a strange advert. He studied it for a while. He mused to himself. "What on earth is Mentaldent?" The figure in the advert had a tooth for a head and looked in pain. "Perhaps it's a new toothpaste?" thought the Wabbit. He shook his head and continued along the road. Trams whooshed past. He passed a clock. It was 11.00 and Lapinette's train arrived at 11.15. So he turned back. But he noticed the advert again and the tooth was missing. Only the body remained. This perplexed him. "Something funny is going on," he thought. He was now a little late, so he began to hop faster. Porta Nuova station came in sight and as he rounded the corner he noticed a movement behind him. He turned. There was nothing there, so he shrugged and continued. The railway notice board said the train was a bit late so he perambulated round the station. Porta Nuova's architecture was rather nice and he spent some time looking at the frescoes. Yet he continued to feel uncomfortable. He was certain he was being followed. But he heard Lapinette's train being announced and made his way to Platform 8 - where Lapinette stood, bearing a mass of luggage. He cursed silently. "Where were you?" she asked. Her voice suggested she was slightly annoyed. "Something's following me," explained the Wabbit. He groaned with effort as he picked up her cases. "Then whoever it is may be strong enough to assist," grinned Lapinette.
They gathered at a Caffè in New Testaccio Market. It had a new arrangement of plastic tents and there they sheltered from the chill wind coming from the Tiber. Skratch was late as usual. "May I have that seat over there?" "I don't think there is one," observed Lapinette, "Why don't you get one from another table?" Skratch didn't move. "I think I'll answer the question first." They all knew what that meant - so they waited. "It was unusual." Everyone gasped. Skratch continued. "Because it celebrates it's very own anniversary and thus becomes truly reflexive." Lapinette became serious. "Yes. Otherwise it would have confined itself to being chosen for an anniversary and confined to a literary space familiar to readers." Wabsworth stiffened. "Yes. The best of the flatlands." The Wabbit continued. "Anchored in the here and now of phenomena. We have to free our text from the exemplification of a set of codes and allow it to be addressed in its particularity." Skratch looked on in wonder. "Wow," he said. "You must have been reading Stephen Heath." The Wabbit tapped the table. "Stephen Heath is probably the king of analysis" Wabsworth wasn't impressed. "Our stories are difficult to analyse because they're so easy to understand." Lapinette knew a Metz quote when she heard it and she said so. "Metz might have said we're dead for having been seen." The Wabbit laughed and called for the waiter. "Dead for being seen without a drink!"
The Wabbit watched as the dust settled. His lips curled into a smirk. Agents of Rabit reeled around as if drunk. His thoughts turned to Christmas again. This happened every year - as if to a timetable. He didn't think Agents had much Christmas spirit, but all the same he thought, you never know. A door crashed down from the sky. "Shouldn't have used so much explosive," thought the Wabbit. But it crossed his mind that excess leads to the palace of wisdom. "You never know what's enough," thought the Wabbit, "until you know what's more than enough." He liked the sound of that. "Prudence is a rich ugly old maid courted by incapacity," he quoted. He grinned. The Wabbit would have kept quoting but the Agents had to be dealt with. He hopped over them. "Why do you do what you do?" But the Agents were groggy. "Blah, bloo blah," was all he heard. "You're not going to win this year's poetry competition," he remarked. He thought of Skratch. "On the other paw, maybe that will do it!" He chortled mightily and took a stroll along the beach. When he returned all the Agents had gone. "Must have been the poetry," he said. He was pleased he didn't have to do anything with them. "I'm fed up with judgement," he said out loud. "The last judgement comes very day," he added, "Who said that?" "Camus," answered a voice. The Wabbit turned and looked around but there was no-one there. There was nothing but empty beach huts. So he shrugged and made for the Adventure Caffè.
The Wabbit went in alone. He was in charge, so that was his job, He planned to lob a minor kaboom and arrest all the Agents when he'd flushed them from their den. Out at sea, the Lepus approached as close as she could. Under her watchful eye, The Wabbit began his work. He rolled the first grenade into a hole in the wall and then stood by with the second one. "With any luck," thought the Wabbit, "I won't need it." He stood back and mused quietly on the situation. It was like this every year and so he wondered why the Agents bothered. He thought back a decade. Agents had chased the Wabbit across Rome, and he was forced to blow up a minor historic monument. It had cost the Department a tidy sum. He smiled and listened to the grenade sputter. It wasn't terribly powerful. Just sound and fury. What did that signify? He couldn't recall. He watched the first grenade sputter and die. So he gave up and threw the other one. Then he got out of the way very quickly. He dived in the sand and burrowed down. The sound intensified and there was the most incredible crack. Then nothing. The doors of the beach hut fell outwards. What windows there were, blasted into glass fragments. "I didn't mean to use that one," thought the Wabbit. He approached the hut. He heard a cough. Another. A series of dishevelled Agents began to emerge.
The Wabbit conferred with the team. They were under the Testaccio Market roof and the sun made sharp shadows on the concrete. They'd only been talking a moment when the outlines of three craft blocked out the sun. The Wabbit wrinkled his nose. Skratch looked up and shook his fist but he couldn't see the craft clearly. Tipsy launched forward with an automatic but there was nothing to shoot. Lapinette was puzzled too. "Something fishy about this," murmured the Wabbit, "The Ice Mice are far more formidable" added Wabsworth. "It's not them. Nothing shows it's them" said Lapinette. The Wabbit thought for a moment. "They've run out of hardware. These are projections." Wabsworth gave a considered opinion. "Looks like the Agents of Rabit, Commander." Tipsy waved her automatic. "William Shootpoo Shatner!" she shouted and fired a burst from the gun anyway. The bullets ricocheted and smashed through the glass roof. The shadows vanished. "Aha!" said the Wabbit. "Aha what?" replied Lapinette. "Ahabracadabra, it's a trick," said the Wabbit. "So it is the Agents of Rabit. What do we do about it?" Lapinette was hopping mad and she jumped up and down. So was Tipsy. "Tripsing shifters!" she yelled. Wabsworth's circuits whirred. "Let's go back to where we last had an incursion. They're bound to have left a clue." "Wablock Holmes?" grinned the Wabbit. Wabsworth smiled "Holmesworth if you don't mind." The Wabbit laughed and laughed, "What's my detective name?" "Wabsy Chan" said Lapinette.