Monday, February 28, 2022

6. The Wabbit and the Bejeweled Rabbits

The Wabbit and Lapinette dragged the chest to the middle of the corridor and inspected the contents. It was a surprise. There, in a plush velvet lining, lay several bejeweled rabbits. The Wabbit plucked one out - and so did Lapinette. They examined them closely. "So much for legend," shrugged the Wabbit. "They seem real enough," said Lapinette. They looked the corridor up and down. "This is a long way from Wablantis," observed the Wabbit. "Very far," said Lapinette. The Wabbit thought for a long time. "Maybe there's a second Wablantis. Like a mirror of the first, but here on Proxima b." Lapinette shook her ears. "What cunning shaman did this?" "Maybe the electric shaman? He has the guile." Lapinette's ears froze. "What's that sound?" The rabbits were talking to each other in a strange language. Not even the Wabbit's universal translator could decipher it. They spoke in whispers and appeared to agree with each other. The Wabbit lifted one up and held it close to his ear. Lapinette did the same. The whispering continued. "I can't make head nor tail of it," said the Wabbit. Suddenly the rabbits mimicked his voice. "Neither head nor tail, head nor tail." They chirruped in a sweet chorus. The Wabbit tried his luck again. "How did you get here?" They chanted as one. "We came came came, on the train train train." The Wabbit looked at Lapinette and did that thing that he did when he was puzzled. Lapinette took over. "Which train train train?" The rabbits put their heads together. "The chocolate train." The Wabbit frowned. "It's a mystery." The rabbits chirruped again. "Mystery mystery mystery." Lapinette sighed. "It's all becoming clear." The Wabbit was none the wiser. "You recall the mystery bus?" said Lapinette. The Wabbit slapped a paw between his eyes. "Not the chocolate rabbit!" "The very same," breathed Lapinette.

[Background. Skitterphoto at Pixabay

Friday, February 25, 2022

5. The Wabbit and the Vaulted Cellar

The Wabbit and Lapinette hopped down the gloomy passageway without event. But as they rounded a corner Lapinette shrieked. "Get down. Bats!" It wasn't just bats, but a series of pterodactyls that pecked at the Wabbit and Lapinette with pointed beaks. "Gerrof!" shouted the Wabbit. The bats were huge and didn't appear dangerous. But they seemed drawn to the Wabbit. They flapped around and got in his fur. "J'aime pas les chauves-souris," howled the Wabbit. He batted them away. Lapinette made her way into the main corridor. "What's that?" She pointed. "It looks like a Treasure Chest!" breathed the Wabbit. "Guarded by a large green bat," observed Lapinette. She shuddered. The Wabbit marched up to the chest and addressed the green bat. "Would you mind? he said politely. The bat tightened its grip on the chest. "I say. I want to open that box." Politeness wasn't working. The bat gripped the chest even more. It turned to the Wabbit and made a series of clicks and pings. "I think it's the guardian of the chest," said Lapinette. The Wabbit nodded. He fished in his fur, then looked up. "Got any insects?" Lapinette shook her head. "They might be mega bats," she suggested. The Wabbit shrugged. "I'll try it on fruit." He took out an old and forgotten avocado and rolled it on the passageway floor. The bat released the chest, fluttered down, ate the avocado in a single gulp and fluttered back up again. But the Wabbit was quicker. He hooked his foot around the lid of the chest and flicked it open. "Ooooh!" breathed Lapinette. "It's treasure and I don't think it's lost," grinned the Wabbit. 

Wednesday, February 23, 2022

4. The Wabbit and Lapinette hit the Beach

Quantum the Time Travelling Train dropped the Wabbit and Lapinette on the planet. True to his word, he'd selected a quiet beach, but it didn't meet with Lapinette's approval. "Spooky," she whispered. "Could be worse," said the Wabbit, "At least it isn't Mallorca!" Lapinette took in the scene. "I don't see anywhere to put down beach towels." The Wabbit grinned. "We can sit on the rocks and throw pebbles." Proxima b boasted a sun and several planetoids - all of them exerting an influence on the sea. "The tide is going out," commented Lapinette. She hopped from rock to rock. The Wabbit looked at the waves and wrinkled his nose. "Best move inland," he muttered. He looked up at Quantum's red streak in the sky as he vanished across the horizon. "Well, we're stuck now, so we'll get with our holiday." He started to hop. Lapinette's eyes swivelled to the left as something swooped by. "It's some kind of pterodactyl." The Wabbit nodded. "It means winged finger." Lapinette nodded. "I think it just gave us the bird." The Wabbit turned to follow it. "A sign of civilisation, I suppose." Together they waded a short distance and made their way inside. "This is the weirdest holiday I've ever had." The Wabbit's fur was now wet. He shook off the water. "A good traveller has no fixed plans and is not intent on arriving," he said testily. Lapinette was determined to out quote the Wabbit. "Rabbits don't take trips. Trips take rabbits." The Wabbit grinned. "What's that up there?" Lapinette stared. "It looks like a passageway." The Wabbit did a double take. "Leading to a vaulted cellar? What are we waiting for?" They would have hopped forward but an unknown force drew them in ...

[Background Credit NASA-Caltech]

Monday, February 21, 2022

3. The Wabbit, Lapinette and Destinations

Quantum sailed over the horizon of a Blood Red planet called Proxima B and flew across a storm-tossed ocean. His voice boomed over the speakers. "What a nice sunset. Lovely, lovely, lovely." Lapinette and the Wabbit looked out with fixed expressions. "I thought you said nice beaches," said Lapinette. "I'll take you to a lovely cove where you can whisper sweet nothings in each other's ears," replied Quantum. "OK," said the Wabbit, "the sea will be calm, won't it?" Quantum laughed. "The beautiful limpid waters of Proxima B." Lapinette placed her paws on her waist. "This wasn't quite what I was expecting." "Wonderful," said Quantum, "It's a surprise." The Wabbit dug in his fur for sun screen that he always kept for solar emergencies. "It certainly is." Quantum banked to starboard and sped over the rocky shores. "Bathing costumes are in the locker compartment. You'll find books too. I brought the Booker short list for you to read." The Wabbit cringed. "Got anything amusing and interesting?" There was a silence. "The Dandy and Beano Annuals, 2011 onwards." Quantum laughed like no train had laughed before. "That'll do," said the Wabbit. Lapinette wrinkled her nose but Quantum said, "I haven't forgotten you Lapinette. I have the Women's Own from inception in 1932." Lapinette's nose wrinkled even more. "Also Oh Comely. 'Self love, surrealism and forever friendships' is particularly good." Lapinette sighed. "Maybe I'll just soak up the sun." The Wabbit piped up. "I heard the planet's orbit round Centauri is 11.2 days." The speaker crackled again. "Guided tours may be booked with Skratch in the dining car." Lapinette shrieked. "Skratch is here!" Skratch's voice came over the speakers. "My feline wisdom precedes me."

[Background credit: NASA JPL-Caltech]

Friday, February 18, 2022

2. The Wabbit and Lapinette Take Off

Lapinette and the Wabbit were about to board Quantum the Time Travelling Train when they heard a voice. "Tickets please. Please have your tickets ready." Wabsworth stepped from behind the train. The Wabbit grinned and proffered two tickets. Being an android, Wabsworth had eagle eyes. "These tickets are to Milan-Garibaldi and they're out of date." Lapinette let out a giggle. "Come on Wabsworth. Let us on the train." The Wabbit was amused too. "They're usually all right for my purposes." Wabsworth was in officious mode. "I can't let you on without a valid ticket." Lapinette expressed mock horror and so did the Wabbit. Wabsworth fished in his fur, "I have here two valid tickets to a surprise beach resort." He took them out and clipped them. "Welcome on board. You may proceed to the dining carriage where complimentary glasses of Prosecco await you." Quantum's voice boomed out from the speakers. "I'm taking you on holiday to Planet Proxima b." Wabsworth groaned. "It's supposed to be a surprise!" Quantum went on regardless. "Equitable temperatures all year round. No-one to bother you on the beach." Wabsworth was appalled. "You spoiled the surprise." Quantum laughed. "How we get there is the surprise. We will go via..." Wabsworth cut him off. "The train is about to leave. All those not travelling should step out and take their belongings with them." He stood to attention and blew a long piercing whistle. He then waved to Quantum. The Wabbit and Lapinette scampered on board. They felt the familiar judder of Quantum's engines and toasted each other with the complimentary Prosecco. Within an instant they were looking out at space. 

Wednesday, February 16, 2022

1. The Wabbit's Archway to the Stars

The Wabbit was taking a constitutional in the Royal Gardens. He'd just got to the entrance when Lapinette came loping up and blew kisses at him. The Wabbit shuffled his feet and looked all round. "Lapinette!" he exclaimed. "To what do I owe the honour?" Lapinette looked coy. "I've been thinking." Now the Wabbit was apprehensive. "Oh really," he said cheerfully, "what about?" Lapinette jumped up and down. "We need a holiday. I asked the Holiday Section of the Department for special leave - and they said yes." The Wabbit raised his eyes. "How long for?" "A fortnight," said Lapinette. Now the Wabbit knew one thing. There was always trouble on holiday and it always turned into an adventure. He mentally packed his automatic, a stock of C4, several stun grenades and a snazer rifle. "You can bring a nice book to read on the beach," said Lapinette. The Wabbit inwardly gritted all of his 28 teeth, but smiled nonetheless. "Habermas on the logic of the social sciences." Lapinette was appalled. "No, no, no, something light, like a detective book." The Wabbit thought for a bit. "OK. The Name of the Rose, by Umberto Eco?" Lapinette sighed. "Phew. I suppose so." They hopped together through the archway and down to the gardens. "Doesn't it feel good to have no missions?" asked Lapinette. The Wabbit hated not having a mission - but he grinned. "Of course." Lapinette went on. "No Agents of Rabit, no prehistoric creatures, no monsters." The Wabbit paused for effect then pulled two tickets from under his fur. "Special deal on the train. Prosecco on tap and salad sandwiches galore. Quantum will take us." Lapinette slapped her paw on her head. "He's a bit stuffy." The Wabbit grinned again. "Let the train take the strain!"

Monday, February 14, 2022

The Wabbit and his Adventure Caffè

The team assembled at a Caffè in Piazza Vittorio Veneto. There, the Wabbit held court. They waited for the waiter to arrive - with the remote control on the table. "Maybe if I pressed it, the waiter would come." said the Wabbit. "Better not," said Lapinette, "we might end up in a techno thriller." Skratch approached from behind, late as usual. But he liked to make an entrance and exclaimed, "What was that for a sort of adventure?" The Wabbit laughed. "Lapinette suggested it was a techno-thriller." Wabsworth intervened. "Well, I'm an android and I do think it wasn't sci-fi - it was securely in the present." Lapinette smiled. "We need to invite Blake Crouch and he'll settle it for us." Skratch looked amused. "Settle down now, we'll put our heads together and sort it out." The Wabbit looked nonchalant. "OK Skratch I'll begin. The story didn't posit the future but was entirely predicated upon the present." Skratch looked thoughtful. "Are you arguing for a realist text?" The Wabbit was shocked. "No, I thought it was anti realist. It challenged narrative specularity - especially the battle ending." Lapinette was doubtful. "Merely because android animals fought real animals?" Wabsworth was horrified. "This android business is a point in question. We androids should be taken more seriously than that." Lapinette looked grave. "Android lives matter." Wabsworth nodded so hard, the table shook. Skratch looked serious. "Allow me to arbitrate. Can we agree it was part of a hybrid genre that challenges the tenets of narrative?" Everyone agreed to that framework, allowing for differences. The Wabbit chortled and reached for the remote control but Lapinette grabbed it from him. Then she flicked her ears. A waiter appeared immediately ...

Friday, February 11, 2022

6. The Wabbit and Spyders v Mosquitoes

The Wabbit called in another favour from Marshall Duetta Spyder. The favours were mounting up, but the Wabbit figured Duetta would like this mission. Lapinette had been right and there were more than one android mosquitoes - a whole swarm in fact. They were good androids, but they had never dealt with Major Duetta. With two of her cohorts Duetta descended on the engineering lab where the android insects had located and advanced with menace. Two spyders spun a web of liquid titanium and threw it over the mosquitoes. They squealed and squealed but were outclassed, tangled as they were in the web. Major Duetta Spyder stood to the side and shouted. "Give up, androids. We don't like your kind round here." The buzzing noise was deafening. "You will be dismembered," shouted Duetta, "and your parts used for doobley drones." The spyders began to dismantle the drones, pinching legs off here and there. Duetta lifted her radio and sent a message to the Wabbit. "Mosquitoes defeated. Dismantling now." In turn, the Wabbit sent a message to CERN saying more or less the same thing. Then he added another. "You owe us a gala dinner." Lapinette turned to the Wabbit. "Duetta and her spyders give me the creeps." Wabsworth chipped in. "But less creepy than android mosquitoes." Lapinette nodded. The sound of munching came across the radio. "Do spyders like electronics?" The Wabbit laughed. "They like anything." 
 [ Background Image: Julien Marius. CERN. Mosquitoes. Sergei Tokmakov, Pixabay]

Wednesday, February 09, 2022

5. The Wabbit and the Android Mosquito

The remote pulled them to the end of the tunnel but a shock lay in store.  A giant android mosquito sat on new bit of accelerator, and it looked very menacing indeed. The Wabbit did what he usually did. He shouted "Run!" and nobody argued. The mosquito lurched forward. Its stinger dripped venom that melted components and destroyed the fabric of the pipe. Wabsworth turned and - being an android - he tried to communicate with it. But the mosquito just screamed in an unintelligible high-pitched whine and jabbed at the Wabbit. "Gerrof," yelled the Wabbit. He caught the edge of the acid spray and it stung like amber asp. "Yikes," he yelled. Lapinette wanted to turn the tables, but she couldn't think how. "Go away you big green thing!" This had no effect. Wabsworth tried again with an algorithm he'd just invented. It was composed of an electronic version of flowery perfume mixed with garlic and onions. The mosquito stopped. Then it tried to fly. Its wings moved up and down, but nothing happened. Wabsworth yelled with glee. "It's modelled on a real mosquito. They hate some smells and they're terrible at flying." They all stopped running and turned. For a moment the mosquito stared at them. Its eyes swivelled. Then it seemed to spit, gave a short buzz, and lurched off. "This is what's been interfering with the accelerator," said Lapinette. "We've stopped it for now," said Wabsworth. "But it will certainly be back," said the Wabbit. "And what if there's more?" said Lapinette. "I don't suppose a net would be any good," pondered the Wabbit. Wabsworth laughed. "Maybe it would."

[Mosquito Sergei Tokmakov, Background. CERN. Distributed under the Creative Commons Licence]

Monday, February 07, 2022

4. The Wabbit and the Particle Accelerator

The remote control took the Wabbit into the tunnel. Somewhat to his surprise, Lovely Lapinette and Wabsworth were there and were working hard on the particle accelerator. The Wabbit waved his remote control. "This any good to you?" Lapinette looked up. "What took you so long? The Department paged you ages ago." Wabsworth scowled and shook his fist. "Old fashioned devices. This is long past its sell-by date." The Wabbit studied it for a while. "How do you know when it's working?" Lapinette responded. "It makes a sound." The Wabbit was mystified because he knew that particles colliding didn't make much of a racket. Wabsworth snorted. "It has a sonification routine. It will make diddley diddley other-worldly sounds." The Wabbit lifted his remote control. "This doesn't make much noise either." He pressed the red button. It pulsed a deep crimson. Strange other-worldly music began. Lapinette found it quite hideous. "Who made this music? The BBC radiophonics workshop?" But according to Wabsworth's test meter, particles were indeed accelerating and crashing around. "The remote control wanted to come here," shrugged the Wabbit. "After all that work!" shouted Wabsworth. The Wabbit stood back. "You need to work on that anger sub-routine, Commander Wabsworth." Wabsworth smiled and laid down his test meter. "Our work is done. Let's go home." The Wabbit looked down the tunnel. "Don't they have one of these little electric buses?" Lapinette was sarcastic. "Shall I phone one?" But the remote control twitched and tugged and made its way down the tunnel with everyone in tow. The Wabbit smirked. "In the quantum world, you don't have to wait." "Or maybe you do," said Lapinette.

[Background image: CERN]

Friday, February 04, 2022

3. The Wabbit and the Big Collider

The Wabbit knew about CERN of course - although the Department was sceptical about its general approach and the Wabbit agreed with the sentiment. Nonetheless, this was a collider and the Wabbit was caught up right in the middle. He noticed the remote-control whirling in the distance, but he couldn't reach it. A member of staff looked up and the Wabbit called down to him. "How do I get home?" But the man shook his head and mouthed something back. The Wabbit tried to read his lips and it looked something like, "Would you care for a spot of lunch?" "I'd like a salad sandwich," shouted the Wabbit in reply. As it transpired, the staff member was calling "Get out at once," but the Wabbit wasn't to know. He kept revolving. "That remote-control is a menace," he said to himself. He was a long way up and didn't fancy dropping. He grabbed for it again, but unfortunately pressed the red button. "What next?" muttered the Wabbit. Nothing appeared to happen - but the custodian fellow vanished along with a great deal of machinery. The scene faded and the Wabbit was in a deep tunnel. He thought he could see Lovely Lapinette in the distance. "Lapinette!" he yelled. There was no reply. He willed himself forward. He could see her waving. "Lapinette!" he called again. He waved back vigorously and by accident caught the remote-control. It headed into the tunnel and dragged the Wabbit along. "This is better than being zapped," sighed the the Wabbit. "Anything to stop you pushing my buttons," said the remote-control.

[Picture credit: CERN Creative Commons]

Wednesday, February 02, 2022

2. The Wabbit and the Curious Rover

The Wabbit gazed at the camera. The visor blinked. "Searching," said a voice, "please wait a few moments." The Wabbit waited and waited and he was about to give up when the voice spoke again. "Hello, Commander Wabbit." The Wabbit stared intently. "Which planet am I on?" He waited again and took the chance to look around. "It's only Mars, Commander. Nothing so exciting as you normally encounter." The Wabbit grinned. "Curiosity Rover?" The camera swung round and back. "Not much curiosity left, Commander. I've been here more than seven years and I'm still scraping rocks." The Wabbit tapped on the housing. "See any rabbits?" Curiosity Rover whirred. "Only one and that was you. You passed by me on one of your adventures." He paused. "Care for a rock sample?" The Wabbit grimaced. "Not really." He shrugged. "Maybe you could tell me why I'm here." He waved his remote control around. Curiosity shot in the air, then fell back to the surface. "Whoah," said the Wabbit. "Can you do that again?" asked Curiosity. The Wabbit waved the remote again but with more finesse. Curiosity left the planet's surface, had a look around and returned. "They'll be able to see all that in about ten minutes." The Wabbit  nodded. "I'm sure they'll be pleased." Curiosity looked the Wabbit up and down. "Would you like to hear a joke? Commander." The Wabbit smiled and nodded. "Where do Martians have a drink?" asked Curiosity. "I don't know I give up," responded the Wabbit. "Mars Bars," said the Rover. There was a flash and the Wabbit found himself back in Turin ...

[Background. Courtesy NASA ]