Friday, March 31, 2023

5. The Wabbit and the Listening Devices

The Wabbit crept along one of the corridors. It was lined with tape recorders and the many headphones and no microphones were a giveaway. "These aren't for listening to Spitify." The Wabbit always mispronounced things and he wasn't going to change. "This is a surveillance operation," he muttered. His voice came out in a hoarse whisper that echoed down the corridor. He picked up a pair of headphones and examined it. He was puzzled. It was the only pair that was new. A tape recorder began to hum. Spools began turn. He held a speaker up to one ear. He heard voices from a different control room and could catch fragments of an unknown foreign language. He pulled up a metal chair and using the word recognition system implanted in his ears, he concentrated. There were three voices talking about an attack on the Department of Wabbit Affairs. For a moment he thought he recognised the signature accents of the Agents of Rabit. It was when he realised it wasn't a foreign language at all. They were talking in code. He shook his head. He wasn't going to crack it there and then. He dug in his fur and pulled out his automatic. The safety catch on his old gun had broken off so he had to remember to switch this one to fire. He sneaked along the corridor towards what seemed like the entrance to a large bunker area. Saw bright lights and concrete. Heard more voices. He flattened his back against a wall, gripped his automatic - and waited.

Thursday, March 30, 2023

4. The Wabbit and the Abandoned Tunnel

The Wabbit was gripped by an immense force he couldn't control and then violently thrust through the hole in a building made by the first missile. The force gripped him like an iron glove and pulled him through tunnel after tunnel. A stale smell of damp like a long-forgotten building filled his nostrils. He was dragged over cement floors and rubble. He came to a stop. He sneezed. He was covered in enough dust to bake a concrete cake. "What is this place?" mused the Wabbit. There was no-one to hear him, but the soft twanging noise made him look at the forest of steel bars emerging from the walls. He dusted himself off. "This seems like a bunker," thought the Wabbit. He pondered longer. "A nuclear bunker." The Wabbit thought again. "To protect from a nuclear attack? Or to make one?" He glanced at a stairway to his rear. "Maybe that will tell me." An orange glow lit the stairs. A low hum came from the upper level. He picked his way over dust and metal and lumps of concrete until he came to the bottom of the stairs. On the upper level he could see many rooms and a corridor lined with computers. They clicked and whirred. "That's where the noise come from," thought the Wabbit, "but why aren't they blocked with dust?" They were old, but functional enough. He felt in his fur for his radio, but there was no signal. The Wabbit scowled and looked around again. Then with a great deal of caution he began to climb the stairs...

Monday, March 27, 2023

3. The Wabbit and the Rusty Missiles.

The Wabbit did what he usually did and started to run. He scurried through the buildings and when he came to a narrow walkway he chanced a look back. It was an astonishing sight. Nuts and bolts had vanished. In their place were three rusty missiles. He took off at an even greater rate. The missiles might be rusty, but they often were. An article on corrosion in missiles flashed through his head, but he just couldn't remember. He hopped faster than any rabbit was able to hop. The missiles kept coming. No matter how much cunning he employed, the missiles followed him. He dodged this way and that. He swerved, he veered, he turned cartwheels. He made some ground and grinned. "You want me, then first you have to catch me." He cartwheeled from the walkway and back on again. The first missile hit a parapet and exploded, shattering walls and collapsing ancient buildings. "One down," muttered the Wabbit. Just up ahead a wall cut across the walkway. The Wabbit bounced from it at speed, just as the second missile smashed against the brickwork. The Wabbit shrugged off rubble as he sprinted the other way. He feinted to the right as the last missile grazed his heels then came to a sudden halt. The missile didn't. What was left of a gasometer crashed lazily to the ground and buried the missile in a tangle of twisted metal. The Wabbit surveyed the scene. His head glanced from left to right. His nose twitched. There were no more missiles. But he knew it wasn't over...  

Friday, March 24, 2023

2. The Wabbit and the Leaden Sky

The Wabbit wasn't sure what the old gantries were for. Loading something maybe? The Wabbit imagined something nice being loaded on barges. Coffee or candy maybe? But their time was long past. He was reflecting on the matter when the weather changed. It hadn't been a great day, but the sky turned a leaden orange and everything became post nuclear, contrasty and sharp. All was quiet. No traffic noises. People ceased chattering. Birds stopped singing. Then he heard it, up high in the air. A tinny jangling. A grating of metal on metal. Bolting and screwing. Then they were on him. "What the binky!" exclaimed the Wabbit. One of the bolts hit his back. Anther grazed his chin. He lost his footing on a sharp metallic cylinder. The Wabbit kicked out and fended the metal objects off as best he could. Then he dived for cover. They weren't just attacking the Wabbit. They made for anything vaguely mechanical. Cars, bicycles, prams and scooters - all took a hammering. They were out to destroy, and little could stop them. The Wabbit sheltered under a nonmetallic board and watched them. He tried to formulate a plan, but everything seemed fanciful. The bolts weren't all rust-covered. Some looked new. A few remained straight and others bent and squirmed like worms. The Wabbit searched in his fur for his radio then thought better of it. It might be compromised. "Only me here," he murmured, "and just at the moment I've got no clue."

[Nuts and bolts by Piro4D at Pixabay]

Wednesday, March 22, 2023

1. The Wabbit and the Old Iron Bridge

The Wabbit was taking a constitutional hop across the old iron bridge. It was called Ponte dell'Industria, but, like many others, the Wabbit knew it as the iron bridge and he didn't see why he should change. It had taken some recent damage. A fire had nearly consumed it and the Wabbit surveyed the bent girders and scorching. He was pleased to see it was mostly repaired. He looked along the Tiber. The area hadn't changed much. In some bits it seemed quite grotty, but a cheerful ethnic mix ensured it was as vibrant as it had been. Rome was a strange mixture of urban and rural and while the Wabbit definitely preferred urban, he accepted the city as it was. Then he spotted a strange piece of iron lying on a repaired bridge segment and for a moment he stretched out a paw. Then he drew it back. It was the kind of thing that always seemed to get him into trouble. He looked to see where it might have fitted, but it could have been anywhere. Maybe a workman had left it behind. There were a mixture of iron plates and nuts and bolts and rivets. He admired the rusty orange colours of all the sections. Way down below, the Tiber churned its way to the sea. "How well Horatius kept the bridge. In the brave days of old," murmured the Wabbit. "He was the oldiest," he added to himself. He sniggered and made his way over the bridge to Via Antonio Pacinotti. But something was following him ...
[Quote from Horace: A lay made about the year of the city. CCCLX]

Monday, March 20, 2023

The Wabbit at his Adventure Caffè

The team gathered at the Glamour Caffè. The Wabbit always wondered why it was named Glamour, because it was rather functional and plain. But the service was good, and it did an excellent prosecco. He dropped into a seat and was just about to order when the rest of the team arrived. "There you are Wabbit!" proclaimed Lapinette. "In your usual seat I see." The traffic was fierce and the spot was far from quiet. The Wabbit had to raise his voice. "I love the smell of gasoline in the morning," he said. He waved for four proseccos. "Wabsworth smiled a crooked smile. "What was that for a sort of adventure you just had?" Skratch arrived at the back and half sat on a table. "That's my job, especially since I was in it." Lapinette laughed. "It's the job of all of us to deconstruct the story." Skratch meaowed. "I am the one who went to classes." Wabsworth chipped in. "Everyone went to classes except me. I learned everything from archives." The Wabbit was getting tired of all this flim-flam. "It was an attempt to link with the past in an autobiographical fashion. More of a mythmaking exercise." Lapinette agreed. "A manipulation of space and time." Skratch nodded. "It refined the pictorial syntax of the reader." The Wabbit snorted. "Didn't we do well?" Lapinette agreed. "I think we did well to stay alive." They fell silent for a while. "If I had a glass I'd raise it to the re-envisaged past," said the Wabbit. Wabsworth turned to the bar and signalled frantically. "Life can only be understood forwards but it must be lived backwards." "Wrong way round," smiled Lapinette. "I'm trying to make the drinks happen," said Wabsworth.

Friday, March 17, 2023

6. The Wabbit & the Abandoned Cathedral

Skratch drove and the Wabbit navigated. They drove straight into the city. ""See that old abandoned cathedral," said the Wabbit. Skratch nodded. "Straight in the front door," added the Wabbit. Skratch did as he was told. They came to steps, so he screeched to a halt near a pile of rubble. "Up the stairs," shouted the Wabbit. They scrambled up the ruined stairway and scaled one of the towers. "You've been here before," meaowed Skratch. "I have," replied the Wabbit. They heard the whirring of a biplane. I guess it's not a crop duster? asked Lapinette. "I hope not," shrugged the Wabbit. Susan appeared from the horizon and began a swoop that came low over the cathedral. The Wabbit gritted his teeth. "Get ready to jump." Ordnance exploded behind them. "Now!" he shouted. They sailed through the air and grabbed on where they could. Susan flew as close to the ground as was possible. "Slow, then up," said the Wabbit. Susan throttled back and coasted slowly, then suddenly climbed at an impossible angle. They clung on like limpets. When she levelled out, the cathedral was a tiny dot in a strange green city by a lake. They looked down. "There's ferocious freshwater sharks in there," said the Wabbit. "Nice for a swim," said Lapinette. "If you survive the mercury, you're so much fish food," mused Skratch. Susan's engine droned and they felt the clutch of a force field. "I'm taking you back to our own time," she said. "How did you know where we were?" asked the Wabbit. Susan's engine growled. "Something like this always happens when you buy a new coffee pot."
[The church of Saint-Pulpice stands in for Santiago Cathedral, Managua. Photo by Alexandria of Pixabay]

Friday, March 10, 2023

5. The Wabbit and the Two Messy Agents

The track turned into a road and the road led into a town. It looked like many in the region. He screeched to a halt outside a church and opened the door. "Feeling religious?" asked Lapinette. "They're here, I know it," grimaced the Wabbit. Lapinette pulled a loaded weapon from her frock and scrambled onto the roof. "Get in the driver's seat Skratch, we might have to be quick." Skratch pounced into the seat and revved the engine. "I'll say a prayer." The Wabbit landed on the dusty steps and there they were - two Agents holding bombs. "I was expecting Agents," stated the Wabbit with an icy edge to his voice that everyone knew well. "Get out of the bus," shouted the first Agent. "I am out of the bus," laughed the Wabbit. "So am I," shouted Lapinette. They glanced up to find themselves looking at the barrel of a Beretta 96. "I have you in my sights and I never miss." said Lapinette. Skratch revved the engine again. "The driver is on the bus and he should get out," said the second Agent. "He has an up-to-date bus pass," smiled the Wabbit. "We'll explode you with our exploding bombs," said the two Agents together. "You won't be around to hear the blast," mocked Lapinette. She racked the automatic's slide like a boss. The Agents looked at their bombs. They'd decided on gelignite but the day was hot and it was inclined to sweat. It wasn't going the way they wanted. "Lay down the bombs and slide them extremely gently over here," murmured the Wabbit. "No," said the Agents. Lapinette fired... 

[Background photo by Cramirez}

Wednesday, March 08, 2023

4. The Wabbit and Going Bananas

They managed well for a while but as they passed a banana plantation, the bus became stuck in a deep rut. There were palm fronds everywhere. The Wabbit used various combinations of gear, throttle and brake. Nothing worked. Lapinette jumped out and went to look for something to put under the wheel. She looked up at the Wabbit. The Wabbit waved his paws around. She waved back and said something unmentionable. She wiped sharp fronds away from her eyes. Skratch was rummaging in the rear of the bus and suddenly appeared with something red. "What time is it, Wabbit?"  "Nearly a quarter past four," replied the Wabbit. Skratch stared at the object. "Better get rid of this then," he purred. He threw the object as far as he could throw it. It described a long arc, then landed in a ravine. There was a thud, followed by a delay - then a blast rocked the bus. He shrugged. "I think that's why there was no-one on board." The Wabbit shuddered. So did Lapinette. She stooped and shoved a plank of wood under the wheel. "It's an ill wind that blows no-one any good," she murmured. She caught the Wabbit's eye. "Gently now," she said. The Wabbit throttled up and coaxed the bus back onto the narrow path.  Lapinette jumped back in. "Things are a little too quiet around here." Skratch was right behind her. He held up a questioning paw. "Do you know who controls this area?" The Wabbit gritted his teeth. "Who knows."  The bus rolled onwards...

[Bomb by Hawksky. Banana plantation by Efraimstochter.]

Monday, March 06, 2023

3. The Wabbit and the School Bus

The jeep crashed down in front of a school bus. But the Wabbit knew that just because it said School Bus didn't mean it had anything to do with a school. "What's the time, Lapinette?" Lapinette inspected a complicated Longines watch she kept in her frock. "Half past one." "Not the time of day," said the Wabbit, "What year is it?" The jeep began to vanish beneath them. He could hear Lapinette's gasp of surprise. "1981." She jumped out and made for the bus. The doors swung open, and she called. "The bus is for us, Wabbit!" Propelled from his sleep, Skratch leaped, then turned in mid-flight and headed for the bus. "Come on Wabbit!" The Wabbit span the steering wheel of the disappearing jeep, ground the gears and shouted. "Accursed vanishing jeep!" He felt his molecules disintegrating just as he jumped. Lapinette stuck her head out the door of the bus. "I don't think there's another one. Get on." The Wabbit hopped very fast indeed. He could see the bus was empty apart from Lapinette and Skratch. "Who's driving?" Lapinette yelled "You are! You're the only one who has a clue where we are." The Wabbit made himself comfortable in the driver's seat. "What about the children?" asked Lapinette. The Wabbit snorted. "No children. This is just an ordinary bus." He engaged gear and the bus rolled forward through the space where the jeep had been. But the Wabbit could see movement up ahead - too far away to make out, even for his special glasses. But he heard some noise. Felt rumbling. Noticed some smoke. The Wabbit grunted and turned down a rough track.

Friday, March 03, 2023

2. The Wabbit and the Coffee Plantation

There was a sudden bang and the coffee shop trembled. "Earthquake" said the Wabbit. He swept Lapinette into his paws and headed under the doorway. But it was too late. Everything shimmered. There was another bang, and they were in the jeep leaping over a forest. "What the binky doodle doo!" exclaimed the Wabbit. Lapinette gritted her teeth. "Did I see you rubbing that coffee pot?" "I was polishing it," sulked the Wabbit. "Where are we, Wabbit?" said a sleepy voice from the back. Skratch rubbed his eyes. "I was having a lovely snooze on the back seat of your jeep. Are we going somewhere?" The Wabbit tried to explain. "I was in this coffee shop when .." Lapinette sniffed and clapped her paws. "That's it, we're in coffee plantation country." The Wabbit gripped the steering wheel as gunfire broke out. "It's hostile." Skratch was pensive. "It looks like the land Puma told me about." Lapinette took cover as best she could. "Nicaragua, Costa Rica, Columbia?" The Wabbit nodded sagely, "Somewhere like that." Just for a second, he recalled soldiers and AK 47s at the side of the road and the sweet smell of aviation fuel. "Incoming," he warned. A shell exploded near the front wheel. "I thought everything had gone quiet in these parts?" said Lapinette. "Nothing ever really goes quietly quiet there," replied the Wabbit. The leap seemed to have finished and he could see where they might possibly land. "Feel like a Rum and Coca Cola," he laughed. Skratch meaowed tunefully. "Working for the Yankee Dollar?"

Wednesday, March 01, 2023

1. The Wabbit and the Bialetti Shop

The Wabbit browsed the Bialetti Shop with pleasure. He prodded and pushed all the pots in the shop - it wasn't that they did much but he liked it. He chose the shiny blue one because he's never seen that colour pot before. He flipped the lid up, then back down. He did it again. He made it go clangedy clang for a second time before he heard a voice. "You'll break it." Lapinette was browsing at the back, and she disapproved of customers playing with the goods. "You'll break the lid and then it won't fit." The Wabbit had several old coffee pots at home in various states of disrepair. "When the lid comes off, I'll put a paper clip in the hinge," he said. Lapinette knew he'd done this with several machines and usually ended up burning his paws with scalding coffee. But the Wabbit was satisfied the lid was good and strong - so he ignored her. He made for the check out. "I'd like the box," he said "with unlimited safety instructions in forty languages." Lapinette scowled. "You never use them," she said. She visualised the Wabbit's shed with dangerous electrical points and a tangled mass of extension leads. "I like to read safety instructions," replied the Wabbit, "some of them are hilarious." Lapinette looked sceptical. The Wabbit chortled. "Safety doesn't happen by accident." Lapinette snorted. The Wabbit effected a strange accent. "When coffee pot glows red, then is time to be afraid." Lapinette jumped up and down and waved her paws. "Time for the Wabbit to be afraid!"