Wednesday, December 22, 2010
Sunday, November 28, 2010
Wednesday, November 3, 2010
NASA announced this week that they were looking for volunteers to fly to Mars. The only catch is that the people wouldn’t be coming back. Now, while this is an interesting concept to mull over, it’s also important to note that this isn’t the first time NASA has sent people to Mars with a one-way ticket. The first mission was sort of a success, but NASA kept it quiet because the public, they felt, wouldn’t see the results quite the same as a team of scientists would.
Not being the biggest fan of secrecy, I’ve actually managed to get hold of the journal of one of the people sent on that first trip which I will publish here today. The world needs to know the truth, but they need to learn it in journal format, just like NASA did. NASA was just silly with learning by the end of it...
August 17th, 2000
‘Stardate: 77. Location: Unknown. I think. I don’t know really. Earth? Yeah, that. Ok, so I’ve been instructed to use this auto-journal to record everything that happens during the mission. I’m told that it’ll transmit everything I say back to Earth without me having to press a god dammed thing. They treat me like I’m incapable of operating simple machi...’
August 22nd, 2000
‘I was talking to that damn machine for 2 hours before Stevens informed me that I’d turned it off. Like I’d do that! I’m not retarded. Anyway that was a week ago, and I got distracted by the vastness of space out of my bedroom window in the meantime, so my journal updates have been less than stellar. “Stellar”, get it? Of course you do, you’re space scientists.
You know that those bastards, and by that I mean “you bastards”, gave me the smallest room? This is bullshit. I hate this place. Oh, and it’s Stardate a thousand or something and the location is “space”. Shut UP, Stevens, I DO have to say “Stardate”. This is space, you don’t have normal dates out here! Idiot. Ok, so officially the takeoff went fine and without a hitch, but the truth of the matter is that I threw up in my space helmet when we boarded. I think my tuna sandwich was bad or something because I was feeling terrible, but the long and the short of it is that I swapped my helmet with Stevens’ when he wasn’t looking. I’m glad I’m not him.’
August 23rd, 2000
‘Stardate: 1. Yeah. “1”, nice and neat. Location: Space, still. We’ve been flying for six days now and we’ve all settled in for the trip to the moon. We all have our special jobs to do, and we’re pretty much doing them, I guess. I dunno, I’m not sure why I’m here. Am I the mission’s official chronicler? I think I might be the chronicler because the other guys won’t let me touch anything in the control room and they’ve nicknamed me ‘Spaz’. I know it’s only a fourteen day trip and all, so that makes this nearly the halfway mark, but I’ve got my eye on the medical officer. She looks lonely and in need of companionship and a listening ear, so fingers crossed! If I exit the ship with a big smile on my face next week it’s because of space-boning. Yes, it’s a word, and yes I would have done it.
August 24th, 2000
‘Stardate: Shit. Location: Fuck You. The medical officer is a dude with long hair and strong (yet feminine) hands, his name is Gary and he likes to be the Big Spoon. He must have heard my journal entry yesterday and got all flattered. Feeling him crawl into my space bunk was a terrible way to wake up. This is the worst birthday ever.’
August 31st, 2000
‘Stardate: 19. Location: Space (again). I must have caught confusion palsy because I swear we should’ve been home by now and I swear I should’ve visited to moon at least once. Did I sleep through it? I must have slept through it. I’ve been keeping to myself a lot because the rest of the crew don’t seem to like me and Gary’s unwanted advances were keeping me on edge.
You know that saying, “In space, no one can hear you scream”? Well that’s so wrong it isn’t even funny. In space, if you scream, the rest of the crew just laugh at you from behind the door they’ve so conveniently barricaded while Gary chases you around the space kitchen. I eventually lured him into the airlock and locked him in there. The rest of the crew begged me to let him out, so I did. Gary won’t be coming back and we’re now down a medical officer. If anyone is interested in the job, please contact NASA.’
November 1st, 2000.
‘Stardate: 7. Location: Cowering beneath my bed. This is seriously not funny. We’ve been on this ship for two months and I can’t see the moon or earth or ANYTHING. When I asked the crew when we were going home they just gave each other weird looks and kept silent. Why are they keeping silent, Houston? Have I been kept out of the loop? Have I been kept in the dark on purpose? Is there something I don’t know? I’ve got my mission briefing here in front of me and it clearly says “14” next to “Mission Duration”. Please reply because the crew are pointing and laughing at me again and I don’t know why.
November 1st, 2000
‘”Broken Photocopier”. I see. So that’s why my Mission Briefing says ’14 days’ when it should read ‘Forever’? That’s... a strange photocopying error. I need some time to process this because it seems I’m not going home. Ever. Has the meaning of ‘Forever’ changed since we left Earth? I can’t imagine it would have, but if it has, I’d like to know. I’m going to go for a walk.’
November 4th, 2000
‘Stardate: Does it matter? Location: Guess. I have resigned myself to the fact that neither I nor the crew will ever see Earth again. Gary certainly won’t, ha Ha HA HA HA. Ahem, excuse me. Yes, I said ‘Ahem’ instead of clearing my throat. It’s been a difficult few days. The crew dealt with the harsh news well considering that I was the only one who didn’t know what was going on. They only laughed for a little while. I hate this place. Also, we’re going to Mars? What the hell? Since when is “The Moon” “Mars”? The captain tells me, ‘Since never, you must have heard it wrong’, but I have trouble believing a captain who doesn’t even own a captain’s hat. I think something has happened to the real captain and I’m going to investigate. It’s not as if I have anything else to do.
November 7th, 2000
‘Captain’s Log. Stardate: 91. Location: Space. I have fashioned a hat out of the ship’s instruction manual, and a parrot out of the glove of Stevens’ spacesuit. He will not be needing it any longer. The crew were apprehensive at the leadership change at first, but they came around once they realised that I held the controls to the airlock. Everything is shipshape and our course is steady. I have not located the captain’s wheel yet, but I shall. In the absence of a wheel I will construct one out of the remains of Stevens’ spacesuit. I may have to remove parts of Stevens first.
November 12th, 2000
‘Captain’s Log. Stardate: 117. Location: Wheelhouse. I can’t believe this ship didn’t have a wheelhouse. I instructed the crew to install one on the outside of the ship, using parts of our proposed Mars base for parts. Can you believe that? NASA was sending us to Mars to set up a base which we’d never return from. You know what they should’ve packed instead of all this computerised shit? Eighteen coffin-shaped boxes for us to lie in upon landing, because that’s what this mission is – an expensive, drawn-out funeral. The ship is an eight billion dollar hearse and Mars is one giant graveyard. You know what would’ve been cheaper? It would’ve been cheaper to pack each of us into actual coffins and fire us into the sun. Hell, they could’ve given us all badly-photocopied contracts to sign so we’d stay in the dark and then send us off on a mystery mission and get us to work it out for oursel... Oh wow. Well played, NASA, well played indeed. You meant for this to happen didn’t you? It was all a test. It was all a leadership test! You intended for one of us to realise what was going on and direct the mission as we saw fit. Thank you so much for choosing me. I will set everything in motion and get back to you. It’s so clear now.
November 13th, 2000
‘I started a fire on the ship, just like you wanted, and I stacked all the plastic cups in the kitchen in one big pile. They didn’t fall over because I might have invented gravity. I don’t know how, but it works. Haven’t heard from the rest of the crew.’
November 14th, 2000
‘Found crew hiding in the escape pod. They must have found the rest of Stevens. He made a fine marionette. Hilarious.
November 23rd, 2000
‘Captain’s Log. Stardate: 100% fine. Location: It’s a secret but I’ll give you a hint: We’re somewhere in space! I have briefed the remaining crew on the rest of our mission and I’ve told them that I’m turning the ship around and going home because I don’t like it here and my parrot doesn’t either. They took the announcement without argument, which is good, because I can’t work out how to make more space in the airlock without emptying it, and I don’t want to empty it because that would mean losing everyone in there to the coldness of space. This would be a tragedy for not only the mission but for my own personal project: I want a throne of skulls.
Everything is fine. Also we’re not going home, I was lying.
December 1st, 2000
‘Have any of you back on Earth got ANY idea how hard it is to pack 15 people into 15 makeshift coffins against their will? “Nearly impossible” is how hard it is. That’s why I’m now sitting atop a throne of skulls as I sail towards the incandescence of my future. Also, I’m flying into the sun, surrounded by 15 makeshift coffins filled with makeshift corpses. I hope I’ve made you proud, NASA, and I hope this trip has been as useful for you as you planned. If there’s one thing you guys back home can take away from the expedition it’s this: Don’t use prisoners to settle a new planet.
You’ll next hear from me when I’ve landed on the sun. I’m glad I packed shorts.
Friday, October 1, 2010
He had been happily married for 50 years to a woman he dearly loved. The connection was evident because every now and then, when in company, he would lean close to her and whisper something in her ear. She would give him a Look, then crack up laughing, and he’d have a grin from ear to ear and his whole body would shake from silent giggling. The rest of the family would look over and ask, ‘What are you two laughing at?’ to which they would respond, ‘Oh… nothing,’ before breaking off into peals of laughter again.
Like with most things, there was a side to him which most people were unaware of, and it only came to light through the trauma of someone else, as happens with most things of this nature. See, the old man’s grandson had broken up with his girlfriend and was beside himself with grief. She wasn’t his sun or his moon, but her absence was making it difficult for him to get out of bed in the morning.
On a day when the grandson’s grief was particularly pronounced his grandparents visited. While the grandmother and the rest of the family sat in the lounge talking about the weather, the grandfather walked down the hallway to the broken-hearted grandson’s room, knocked on the door and requested entry. The grandson gave his permission and the grandfather entered, ignored all pretence of small-talk, and said, ‘I’d like to tell you a story which you might be interested in.’ Contrary to the grandson’s expectation, the story was not a weak, poorly-constructed but well-told joke. Rather, it was something from the corner of the old man’s memory which the rest of the family had no idea existed.
Over 50 years previously, the grandfather had been in love with a young woman who was not the woman he was married to 50 years later. The young couple had been together for long enough to decide that marriage was the best thing they could possibly do. He was head over heels, and she simply adored him. Finally, someone loved him for who he was, and didn’t loathe his existence like his domineering mother did. On the day of the wedding, the young man, dressed in his best, waited at the altar for his bride-to-be.
And he waited.
And she didn’t show.
Nearly heartbroken, and most definitely embarrassed, he went searching for her and eventually found her at home in the company of her family. The family quietly filed out of the room as the bride-to-be, in her wedding gown, told the man she said she would marry that she didn’t love him anymore. He asked why, but she couldn’t give him an answer. He left, and cried himself to sleep for weeks. How could he recover from the ultimate kick to the guts? Most people don’t, but he did when he met a woman who far exceeded the positive attributes of the woman who came before. It was a tentative relationship at first, but it grew and blossomed, and after the due courting period, they married. They bought a house together, they had two children together, and they told each other filthy jokes, even in their seventies.
When he finished telling his story, the old man turned to his grandson and said, ‘Does that help at all, mate?’
‘Yeah, that… that really does. I had no idea,’ the grandson replied.
The old man smiled one of those genuine caring smiles which you don’t see all that often and said, ‘Not many people do. Anyway, I better get back to everyone. Hope you feel better soon, mate.’
The grandfather gingerly got to his feet and slowly walked out of the room, but he left the door open. You know, just in case the grandson felt like following him.
Wednesday, September 1, 2010
I like huffing permanent markers about as much as Chris Brown loves boxing, so it really came as no surprise to me when my doctor told me that I was suffering massive kidney damage due to my awesome and totally safe pastime. He told me that I needed a kidney transplant or else I would die. I told him that he should mind his own business and that he wasn’t my real dad and that I didn’t have to listen to him. Before I stole all the whiteout from his desk he asked if I had any relatives that could be tested to see if they were suitable kidney donors. I drank all of the whiteout down like an absolute champion and answered that, yes, I did in fact have relatives and that I would begin the task of tracking them down right away. I stole a pad of Post-It notes as well before running out the door. To find my family I would need to find a library.
Do you have any idea how hard it is to find a library in a big city? Holy crap is it difficult. If you ask every person you run into, and I run into a LOT of people all the damn time, they just tell you to get off them and that they don’t have any change. Sure, I don’t shave all that often, and washing is something that happens to other people, but the point still stands that people shouldn’t be so rude. Someone eventually gave me directions after I bailed them up outside a Starbucks. I’ve found that that works really well – if you can get to someone before they get their morning caffeine hit, then they’ll do pretty much anything to satiate their cravings for coffee. I mean it, too. Some people will do anything for coffee. Anything. The caffeine-addict gave me directions between the sobs which I was struggling to stifle with my jacket, before escaping down the street, screaming for help. I set off at a brisk pace in the direction of the library and asked everyone on the way there if they were related to me. They all answered somewhere along the lines of, ‘I sure as shit hope not!’ because the world hates me. When I got to the library I walked straight up to the front of the Disabled Persons line and demanded to know where my family was. Using the Disabled lines at government buildings, or disabled toilets and car parks everywhere else, is a great way to get stuff done quickly and conveniently; disabled people are also terrible at fighting back. The woman at the counter, obviously impressed by my confidence, told me that the genealogy section was at the back of the library and that security would be along shortly to help me out. She was a nice lady and she totally wanted me. She had this look in her eye which said that she was into bad boys, so I knocked over a blind man to show her how bad I was. When I asked her for her number she reached into her bag and pulled out a can of pepper spray by mistake and threatened me with it. It’s a really weird way to give someone your details, but women try it on me all the damn time. When I’d finished eating her can of pepper spray I wandered to the back of the library in search of my family tree.
For as long as I could remember I’d had a weeping wound on my right side, and I've seen enough House to know that that was surefire way to know that I was separated at birth. I don’t look Asian, but whatever. I figured that the best way to track down my brother with the matching kidney was to use my family tree to track down my parents, and then use them to track down my brother. I’d then drug him, cut out his kidney and get a vet I knew to install it into me. It was as fool-proof, harmless and ethically-sound a plan as I could develop in the space of five seconds. I tried using the cataloguing system to find the book on family trees, but since my reading isn’t that good at the best of times, and given that I’d been drinking WhiteOut all morning, I wasn’t having any luck. I instead used the Exploring Method and started climbing the shelves, looking for the book I wanted. I swear it took three hours to find what I was looking for, but I found it eventually on the bottom shelf next to Fox in Socks. My brother’s location would in there somewhere, so I started to read out loud and at the top of my voice. It helps me concentrate. After ten minutes I was only a few pages through Are You my Mother? And I was frustrated beyond all belief. Was it too much to ask that my long lost brother whom I had never seen before would just walk into the library that very second? It turns out not because at that very second I saw my brother walking towards me from down a long corridor. I ran towards him holding the hastily-made shiv I had constructed out of a biro and lunged it at his side as we met halfway down the hallway. This is the point where I blacked out and went back in time. I don’t remember any of the trip’s details, but I know it happened because going back in time is what happens when I black out.
When I woke up I was lying in the gutter surrounded by ambulance officers, my doctor and his secretary who was very kindly pointing two cans of pepper spray at my face. She wanted to give me her number badly. My mouth tasted like blue and I asked the doctor why that was.
‘Do you remember anything at all?’ he asked.
I nodded. ‘I remember talking to you in your office, then running to the library to find a book about my brother. I found him but he must’ve knocked me out. That’s when I went back in time.’
The paramedics looked at each other. One of them shone a light in my eyes. ‘One of his pupils is dilated, but there’s no response from the other one,’ he said.
‘Oh that’s perfectly normal,’ I said, ‘that happens all the time.’
The paramedics gave each other more strange looks and said to the doctor, ‘You’d better tell him what happened.’
The doctor cleared his throat. ‘This morning you came into my office because you were complaining of abdominal pains. I told you that it was because you were suffering from massive kidney damage from huffing textas and paint thinner. You then shouted at me, drank all of my WhiteOut and proceeded to threaten all of the patients in the waiting room with hot coffee. From there you ran into the filing room, ate a can of my secretary’s pepper spray, climbed the filing cabinet and fell off onto a chair, tearing a fairly nasty gash in your side. You then yelled something about wanting to kill your brother and attacked a mirror with a ballpoint pen before bursting into tears and collapsing in the corner.’
‘Ah,’ I said. ‘So does this mean I’m cured?’
‘No,’ said the doctor. ‘It means your kidney damage is a lot worse because WhiteOut is not a health tonic.’
‘Damn,’ I said. ‘I could’ve sworn it was.’
Friday, May 21, 2010
In the basement below Foo Foo, Peter sat shivering while White lit a candle. ‘For fuck’s sake,’ said White, ‘that prick just had to ruin my opium den like the sparrow ruins the corn, didn’t he?’
‘He… wait, what?’ said Peter, snapped from his paralysis.
‘Foo Foo, piece of shit that he is, just doesn’t get it,’ said White.
Peter stood up and walked over to where the old rabbit was bent over the candle. ‘What happened to your voice?’ he said.
‘Foo Foo was right. It’s all just an act I hide behind, much like the tree hides in the forest.’
‘But you still use strange metaphors?’
‘Is he right about the lab thing?’
White let out a sigh. ‘Yes. How else do you think I lived this long? They tested some weird shit on me, but I guess it wasn’t that bad in the long-run.’
‘What about the swearing?’ asked Peter. ‘I thought it messed up your Qi.’
White quietly laughed, ‘Nah, that’s a load of shit. I just told people that so I wouldn’t slip back into my normal voice. It’s all part of the illusion. It’s a shame Foo Foo doesn’t have an eye for illusions, or else he would’ve seen tonight coming.’
Peter looked up towards the ceiling when he heard crashing sounds and shotgun fire coming from overhead. ‘Are… are we underneath Foo Foo?’
‘Yes. Trapdoors and opium smoke make for an excellent escape.’
‘But why didn’t you take us far away?’ Peter stood stock-still and cupped his head in his hands. ‘Oh shit! Rabbit! Rabbit’s dead!’ he said before bursting into tears.
‘It doesn’t matter,’ said White evenly.
‘How can you say that?’ said Peter between sobs.
‘Because he didn’t have long left anyway. His alcohol abuse had murdered his liver and his sinuses and lungs were shot through from all the coke. It was better he died like this.’
‘He had his head blown off!’
‘But it was quick and merciful,’ said White. ‘Do not think that I am not saddened by his demise. I am, but I also need you to understand that it isn’t such a bad thing because it means we can end this tonight. It’s why Foo Foo is here.’
‘I lured him here tonight with a view to ending this permanently.’
‘Ohhhh no,’ said Peter, backing away, his arms stretched out in front of him. ‘Ohhh no, that’s so pretty fucked up shit. You lured us here tonight to be used as bait on purpose?’
‘Yes. I told Alice to tell Foo Foo where I was hiding, and I told Rabbit to bring you here. It is a shame Foo Foo felt it necessary to torture Alice, but sacrifices must be made.’
Peter threw up his arms and paced back and forth. ‘That’s great, that’s just fucking great. My night sucks. I get roped into being the Easter bunny, I get abused by a tortoise and I get lured to an opium den by a crackhead, only to to get murdered by a giant fluffy psycho.’
‘Would you like to hear what I have in mind or would you like to keep overreacting like a duck on an ice floe?’ said White as he moved towards a cabinet.
‘Fine. Whatever. I don’t even care anymore.’
‘What I would like to do is dust Foo Foo in the lovely heroin which I have here in this cupboard. I would like to dust him in it until he passes out, whereupon I will instil in him an urge to wipe out the tortoises,’ White said calmly.
‘Just like that? You’re going to ‘instil in him an urge to murder tortoises’ just like that?’ said Peter, his head cocked to one side.
‘You bloody love saying “yes”, don’t you?’
‘As I said earlier. Sometimes we are all “yes”.’
‘And how are you going to instil him with this urge?’ asked Peter.
‘With hypnosis,’ said White Rabbit.
‘Hypnosis is bullshit.’
‘No, homeopathy is bullshit. Hypnosis is a proven method to alter someone’s sub-conscious state. I know, I was one of the test subjects in the study.’
‘So that’s it then?’ said Peter. ‘It’s as simple as overdosing that furry fuck upstairs on heroin and brainwashing him into hating tortoises?’
White grinned a manic smile. ‘Oh yes. I’m as sure as the grass which floats in the river.’
Upstairs, Foo Foo was having a dizzying amount of fun. He had furniture to break, serving girls to assault and patrons to hurt, all in the one location.
‘I’ll ask you one more time,’ he growled at a girl. ‘Where is the big white crackhead?’
‘I don’t know! For the last time I don’t know!’
‘You don’t know how right you are,’ said Foo Foo. He grabbed the girl by the hair and threw her into one of the roof supports. She landed heavily and didn’t move. Foo Foo surveyed the carnage he had wrought on the den. Not one piece of rice paper had gone un-torn, not one piece of furniture was intact and he still had two serving girls and four opium addicts to play with before he had to find something else to do.
‘WHERE IS THE WHITE RABBIT?’ he screamed. The group huddled in the corner of the room only murmured, so Foo Foo pointed his gun at the leg of what looked like a business man and asked the question again. When the man failed to answer instantly he lost his leg in a shower of lead pellets and laughter. ‘I can only do this for so long, everyone,’ he said. ‘I’m going to run out of people to hurt soon.’
As he loaded more shells into his gun he heard the floor creak behind him and managed to turn around just in time to see an antique vase an inch away from his face approach at great speed. He fell to the floor, his nose bloodied, and he did not move. White Rabbit wasted no time in emptying his bags of heroin onto Foo Foo’s face. Peter used the time to tourniquet the newly-legless man’s thigh and tend to the injuries of the others. It was with a sense of regret that he removed his now-ruined waistcoat and used it to wipe the blood off of a serving girl’s face. She smiled at him, and all the gold buttons in the world wouldn’t be able to replicate the feeling that washed through him. White Rabbit picked Foo Foo up and propped him up against one of the roof supports. He tied his hands firmly behind his back with the remains of the velvet curtain then slapped Foo Foo hard across the face. Foo Foo hazily opened his eyes and tried to focus on White Rabbit’s face. What he saw instead was a pendulating Yin/Yang symbol dangling from a silver chain.
‘Little Bunny Foo Foo?’ asked White.
‘Yes?’ mumbled Foo Foo.
‘When you go riding through the forest, what do you bop on the head?’
Foo Foo smiled dreamily and said, ‘Worms and field mice and filthy rabbits.’
‘Would you like to bop some other things on the head as well?’
‘Then repeat after me…’
As the sun rose four hours later White Rabbit was helping Foo Foo onto his motorcycle, much to Peter Rabbit’s displeasure. White stepped back from the bike as Foo Foo checked out the pedals and switches as if he’d never seen them before.
‘This is bullshit, I don’t see why we can’t just convince him to drown himself or something,’ said Peter to White.
‘Because,’ began White, ‘he is our best shot at stopping this feud once and for all.’
‘I still think he’s getting off easy.’
‘Oh he is, just like a boat does to the land.’
Foo Foo kicked the bike into life and it growled menacingly. White walked up to him. ‘How are you today, Foo Foo?’
‘I’m fine. How are you?’
‘I’m good, thank you for asking. Tell me, do you feel like doing anything today?’
‘I really feel like cracking a few tortoises over the head to be quite honest.’ Foo Foo rubbed the back of his head. ‘Do I know you?’
‘Yes, you know us,’ said Peter, stepping forward. ‘We’re your best friends, Peter and White, remember? We all got drunk last night and crashed out here.’
‘Oh.’ Foo Foo frowned, but relaxed almost immediately. ‘Sorry, I don’t remember a thing. Must’ve been one hell of a night.’
‘It most certainly was,’ said White.
‘I really wanna smash some tortoises for some weird reason.’
‘I imagine you would,’ said Peter. ‘Those pricks put a hole in your ear last night in that bar-fight. Do you remember that?’
‘Nah, not a damn thing. Still, cracking a few of em wouldn’t do any harm. At least not to me.’ He laughed slowly and deeply. ‘I don’t know what to do if they tuck inside those damn shells of theirs though. I’ve always wondered about that.’
White smiled and pulled a large red mallet out of his robe. ‘Just keep hitting their shells until you get to the gooey centre, and then keep hitting that.’
‘Yeah. Yeah good idea!’ said Foo Foo, taking the mallet. ‘Damn, this is a nice hammer. Can I keep it?’
Foo Foo put on his helmet, and revved the bike. ‘So, I’ll see you guys around, yeah?’
‘Most definitely,’ said White. ‘As sure as a cat sees the wasp. Come and see us back here when you’ve bopped all the tortoises on the head. We’d love to hear about it. But only once you’ve bopped all of them.’
‘You’re weird, man, but I like you,’ said Foo Foo. ‘See you guys soon.’ He revved the bike and roared off down the street, large red mallet in hand.
As Foo Foo disappeared around a distant corner Peter turned to White and said, ‘Does this mean we now have our own hitman?’
Peter walked back towards the wrecked opium den, but turned before reaching the doorway.
‘It’s all going to go wrong, isn’t it?’ he said.
White turned to watch the rising sun. ‘Yes, but not for us.’
He smiled widely and his teeth shone in the new sunlight.
Tuesday, May 18, 2010
Ten minutes later, Peter and Rabbit were standing outside a dilapidated building in Chinatown. The damp alley they stood in looked like it had never seen sunlight and everything was covered in damp green algae.
Peter looked at the flickering neon sign above the door. ‘The Rabbit Hole,’ he read aloud. ‘This place is fucking gross, Rabbit.’
Rabbit looked uneasy and wrung his hands. ‘You gotta keep the language down, man,’ he said. ‘They don’t like that sort of thing here; they say it messes with their Chi or something.’
Peter looked up at the narrow star-filled space high overhead and briefly wondered whether there was a giant farm in the sky to go to after death. He shook his head to disrupt the thought. ‘Isn’t it spelled ‘Qi’?’
Rabbit grabbed his ears and pulled them down low. ‘I don’t know. I don’t know! Please man, you gotta promise me you’ll keep the language down, I can’t handle getting kicked out of here. I need this place.’
Peter scuffed a hole in the algae on the pavement. He loved his swearing so very much – it was all he had left to remind him of his dad. In the scheme of things though, he only had to drop it for one night in order to save a couple of lives, his own included, so it wasn’t that big of a deal. He scuffed the pavement again and heaved a massive sigh. ‘Fine.’
Rabbit’s eyes lit up and he let go of his ears. ‘Thanks man. Appreciate it.’ He took a step towards the building. ‘Let’s see how far this rabbit hole goes.’ He winked conspiratorially and pulled open the heavy steel door.
‘Terrible, terrible joke,’ said Peter, but he followed Rabbit anyway.
White Rabbit was a strange one – for most people the jury was out on whether he existed or not. Some regarded him as a bit of a myth, others a bit of a hero - it all usually depended on who was telling the story, and in which setting it was being told. Young rabbits were told that White Rabbit was the saviour of the whole world, and that if they ate all their greens then they’d grow up to be big and strong like him. Adult rabbits were told by even older rabbits that White Rabbit was better in their day, and that today’s youth had it too easy. Hippy rabbits told everyone stories about how wise and cosmic White Rabbit was, that he was immortal, that he always had the best stuff like, dude, you don’t even know! How far the latter story went all depended on how many drugs the storyteller had taken prior to ‘taking the floor’. For the most part, the story of White Rabbit had circulated for so many years that people surmised that even if he was real, then he’d died long ago. Truth be told, White Rabbit did exist and, yes, he was quite wise, quite old, quite brave and quite fond of all things Opium, which is exactly how Rabbit met him. White Rabbit was responsible for keeping his jaundiced friend out of prison, and was the main reason Rabbit was no longer turning tricks outside dodgy pubs in exchange for drug money. White Rabbit provided a safe place for Rabbit to sleep should he ever find himself in trouble, and he provided him with small amounts of opium just to keep the shakes at bay. Deep down, White Rabbit was a philanthropist; a Zen-talking, opium-smoking, robe-wearing philanthropist. The mystique surrounding him gave him great influence among the rabbit population, which is precisely why the tortoises wanted him out of the picture; anyone who was a rallying figure was a target. He stayed hidden, watching from the shadows, helping rabbits in need whenever he could.
White Rabbit’s first and only close-call with the Consortium came about because of a young girl called Alice whom he’d befriended one night. He’d found her stumbling in a drug-addled haze in the public park opposite his house, muttering about cards and hearts and tea. When she wouldn’t respond to his simple questions he took her to the hospital, worried that it would be too late to counteract whatever substances she had imbibed. In the emergency department he informed the nurse on duty that the young girl seemed ‘as mad as a hatter’ and that she needed immediate care. He disappeared into the night, another good deed done. Shortly thereafter, Alice walked into the head office of the Tortoise Consortium and told a secretary about a rabbit she’d met who matched a description she’d seen on one of their Wanted posters. Alice had a faraway look in her bloodshot eyes, and she looked like she hadn’t slept in weeks, but she was granted an interview regardless. When a clerk sat her down she struggled to stay on-topic and kept rambling on about a card game gone bad and the importance of time-keeping. In moments of coherence she asked about reward money. After some heavy interrogation, Alice named the location of the White Rabbit’s house and left with a pocketful of cash. Consortium agents, acting on Alice’s information, stormed through White Rabbit’s front door that night with orders to shoot first and ask questions never. Ever-prepared, White Rabbit dealt with the intruders the only way he knew how: by throwing burning bags of opium at them from the upper-storey of his house. The intruders got so high so quickly from the billowing clouds of smoke that they forgot why they were there, so White Rabbit made his escape straight past them out the front door. From that point on he was on his guard and only revealed himself to a trusted few.
Peter and Rabbit had been sitting on cushions on the floor of the opium den for fifteen minutes, impatiently waiting for White Rabbit to appear. Rabbit started drumming out a quiet but frantic beat on his knees with his hands and hummed under his breath. His eyes were bugging out of his head from withdrawals and he was directing all his willpower towards not throwing up. Peter on the other hand was spending the time watching the den’s other patrons and the serving girls that tended to them. Businessmen and students alike happily bathed in the fugue of the opium smoke which swirled through the room. Peter was getting nervous, and Rabbit was jonesing pretty hard for a hit.
‘Are… are you ok, Rabbit?’ asked Peter.
Rabbit just ground his teeth and kept tapping away on his knees. His crash had come on pretty quickly. Peter took a deep breath and thought hard about ways he could help his friend, but his brain was starting to vague out due to the smoke. ‘Rabbit, is there some sort of trick to staying sober in here?’
Rabbit snapped out of his almost-coma and clapped his hands together. ‘Trick!’ he said. ‘That’s it! You’re a genius! I just need to turn a trick! I’ll be right back!’ He jumped to his feet and tore out a side door.
‘Oh crap,’ said Peter. There was a sharp intake of breath from everyone in the room and a frowning serving girl bustled over to Peter, shaking her finger as she came.
‘You will not speak like that in here. It disturbs the Qi.’
‘You’re killin’ our buzz, man,’ came a voice from across the room.
‘Oh,’ said Peter. ‘I’m sorry. I didn’t know that word counted. My bad.’ He stared at his lap until the girl went away. After a few moments the low hubbub of conversation returned and he was at ease again. It could have been the opium kicking in though; that would’ve helped relax him as well.
The door Rabbit had bolted through creaked open and Rabbit bounded back into view, stuffing white powder up his nose.
‘You got your fix I see,’ said Peter disapprovingly.
‘I did! Yeah. Yeah! Yeah, I didn’t have to turn a trick either, was mad,’ said Rabbit, frantically stuffing what was left of the contents of his hands into his pockets. Rabbit glanced around with shifty eyes. ‘He’s here.’
Deep blue velvet curtains dropped behind the pair, almost on cue, and White Rabbit appeared in front of them. ‘Hello Peter,’ he said, his voice airy and singsong. ‘I understand that you are to the wind what the cherry blossom is to the tree?’
Peter just stared at him, replaying the question in his head. ‘What?’
White Rabbit just stared back until Rabbit nudged Peter. ‘It’s the way he talks, all in metaphors and poems and gear. Just smile and nod until it makes sense,’ he said.
Peter turned his head towards Rabbit just a touch, but didn’t break eye contact with White Rabbit. ‘So it makes sense in the end?’
Rabbit paused as if deep in thought and scratched his chin. ‘Sometimes,’ he concluded.
Peter looked a bit stunned, but recovered and turned his expression into a smile and a nod.
‘Good,’ said White Rabbit. ‘You understand, much like the apricot understands the bee. Please, allow me to introduce myself.’ He bowed low, arms spread wide. ‘I am White Rabbit, you may call me “White”. How may I assist you?’
Peter blinked his watering eyes for the first time in a minute. ‘Tortoises are trying to kill all of us and they’re using Little Bunny Foo Foo to do it!’
White flopped down on the cushions and stroked his wispy beard. ‘Yes,’ he said.
‘What’s “yes”?’ said Peter.
‘We’re all “yes”,’ said White.
Peter just looked puzzled whilst White took a huge pull from the hookah which sat beside him. A large billowing cloud issued forth from White’s nostrils and rose into the air. Peter stared at it until it merged with the cloud of smoke which hugged the ceiling.
‘What were you expecting?’ asked White, glancing up at the dissipating smoke with a chuckle. ‘The answer to your problems in a tableau projected onto my smoke cloud?’
Rabbit had started gazing happily at his own hands, so Peter continued the conversation on his own.
White Rabbit nodded. ‘Yes. We’re all “yes” sometimes. Do you understand?’
‘Of course he doesn’t understand,’ said a booming voice as the curtain was torn down with a swipe of a massive paw. ‘Nobody understands you, White,’ continued Foo Foo, his shotgun in hand. ‘No one ever has. You talk in riddles to make yourself seem more mysterious, but all you really are is a long-lived rabbit who escaped from a research lab many years ago, and you deal with the trauma by losing yourself in clouds of opium smoke.’
Peter pissed himself and started shaking, but Rabbit seemed unaware anything was happening, and kept staring at his hands. White however just looked amused. ‘I’m curious, Little Bunny, how did you find us?’
Foo Foo took a few steps closer. ‘I bumped into your friend Alice. After a bit of… encouragement she told me about your yellow friend’s opium habit and told me I might find him here. Finding you and Peter as well was just a nice surprise.’ Foo Foo started laughing, but his eyes stayed cold. ‘My bosses are going to love this. I get to take out Rabbit, Peter Rabbit and the elusive White Rabbit all in one go. Outstanding.’
Rabbit, bored of his hands, looked around and noticed Foo Foo standing there, light shining through the new hole in his ear. ‘Sweet dance-fucking shit!’ he screamed, pointing at Foo Foo. ‘Run!’ Rabbit’s mad dash for the door ended when Foo Foo pulled the trigger and took of his head. The body collapsed to the floor and people started screaming. Peter sat wide-eyed and stared down the barrel of Foo Foo’s gun, unable to comprehend the sudden loss of Rabbit. Foo Foo pumped another shell into the chamber. ‘Goodbye, Peter,’ he said with a smile. ‘Look on the bright side: at least you won’t have to be the Easter Bunny anymore.’ As Foo Foo’s finger tensed on the trigger, White darted forward with surprising speed, whipped his robe around Peter and disappeared in a cloud of smoke. The shotgun pellets sprayed the floor where the two targets had been a fraction of a second earlier. Foo Foo lowered the gun slightly, looked around for his quarries and bellowed so loudly that all the fleeing serving girls froze in place. ‘No one leaves until someone tells me where they are!’ He blew away one girl as a warning and pieces of her sprayed across a rice paper partition. Foo Foo grinned. ‘I don’t know art, but I definitely know what I like.’
Monday, May 3, 2010
Peter Rabbit weighed a heavy chocolate egg in his hand and looked carefully up and down the street, making sure there were no witnesses. Satisfied there was no one about, he arched his back and hurled the egg through the front window of the house he’d stopped at. The sound of breaking glass filled his body with warmth and a grin spread across his face – the tortoises had never stipulated how the eggs were to be delivered, had they? He picked up his basket and walked up to the front door of the next house, being careful to break the hollow eggs he was meant to deliver. He opened the letterbox slot and tipped the broken egg into the house, giggling as he did so. In the two hours since the tortoise had paid him a visit Peter had had a wonderful time exploiting loopholes in the Easter Bunny system. It turned out that as long as he didn’t question his role as the Easter Bunny or defecate inside the wrapping foil he wouldn’t interrupted by a clerk. It was strange considering everything else he was capable of, but he wasn’t going to question the system, he was going to work quite happily within the confines of the occupational prison in which he had been placed.
He stood proudly, hands on hips, and surveyed the street of broken windows, broken eggs and violated garden gnomes – no house had avoided his brilliance. It was as he was admiring his vandalism that he was crash-tackled by a pale yellow rabbit with wild eyes and terrible teeth. Peter let out a muffled yell and kicked at his assailant until he was free but didn’t go as far as pulling a knife because he recognised who it was. ‘Oh wow,’ he said, ‘it’s you. Time has not been kind.’
The broken rabbit that stood before him had seen better days, but those were long gone – all the bad days he’d seen since left their mark.
‘Hey, Pete,’ he said. ‘How you doin? Good? Good! Yeah I’m good. It’s good!’ Rabbit scratched at a bare patch in his mangy yellow fur as he bounced from foot to foot, a manic smile on his face.
Peter dusted himself off and stood up. ‘Yeah I’m good, Rabbit.’ He peered closer. ‘Good God, what have you done to yourself?’
‘Done to myself? Nothing, I’m good, always good. You good?’ Rabbit wiped his nose with the back of his hand, and Peter caught a glimpse of a white powder. He shook his head. Years of heavy drinking had given Rabbit a permanent case of jaundice which yellowed his fur, and an out-of-control cocaine habit gave his eyes a wild and bloodshot look that never seemed to go away. His constant manic behaviour made it unbearable to spend any length of time with him, but he seemed to crash into other people’s lives every few months, completely oblivious to any harm he might be causing.
Peter warily looked at his sort-of-friend. ‘Yeah. Yeah I’m good, Rabbit,’ he said again.
‘Good, good.’ Rabbit looked around conspiratorially. ‘So, got any coke?’
‘No. I never have any coke. I don’t do coke. YOU do coke, Rabbit, remember?’
‘Ah crap, yeah, I remember. Shit.’ Rabbit looked downcast for a second, but perked up immediately and said, ‘It’s ok though, I have some right here. You want some?’
Without waiting for Peter to respond, Rabbit tipped out a rough line on the back of his hand and inhaled deeply. He closed his eyes for a second, gave another sniff, wiggled his nose, and opened his eyes again. They seemed to bulge out of his head. He stared at Peter, then at the basket at his side.
‘Oh ho, shit! You’re an Easter Bunny this year! Oh wow, that’s terrible news.’
‘Tell me about it,’ said Peter.
‘Yeah, sucks what’s gonna happen, hey? Yeah, the tortoises must REALLY hate us, yeah? Want some coke?’
Peter usually zoned out when his jaundiced friend rabbited on, but, for whatever reason, he was listening this time. ‘What’s going to happen? You make it sound like something bad.’
‘Yeah, bad, terrible, really bad and horrible and bad,’ said Rabbit. ‘Come on, walk this way in case the street’s bugged.’
‘Yeah, they have ears everywhere. They can see and hear and smell and taste everyone, man, can’t be too careful.’ Rabbit winked and tapped his nose. A small white clump fell out and landed on the pavement. In an instant Rabbit had plucked it up and tossed it into his mouth. ‘Can’t waste it!’
The pair walked in silence for five minutes along the dark street and, when it became apparent that Rabbit had forgotten why he was there, Peter turned to him and gave his scattered brain a nudge.
‘What’s going on, Rabbit? You’re more jittery than usual,’ said Peter as he continued to walk along the street. ‘You haven’t been kicked out of Hundred Acres again have you? That place was good for you.’
Rabbit shrugged and scratched at his nose, madly searching for a hidden, un-snorted stash. ‘Nah, wasn’t kicked out. Left. Too many pigs. Baby ones. Crazy bears too. Bears everywhere, man. Hopped up on the sweet stuff worse than me. Terrible people. Terrible. I’m no bigot, I love bears, some of my best friends are bears, but the bears there? Mannnnnnnn.’ Rabbit twirled his finger near his ear.
Peter walked on in silence for a bit, hoping Rabbit would pause for a second and get back on track. He didn’t, so Peter had to ask. ‘What’s going to happen, Rabbit? Something about tortoises.’
There was no response, so Peter glanced back and saw Rabbit standing under a streetlamp, stock-still, ears drooped down his back, arms slack at his side, mouth hanging open, eyes staring intently at the moths fluttering in the light.
‘Man,’ Rabbit started, ‘I’d love to be a moth. Just look at ‘em. Carefree and floaty-as. Not a care in the world.’
A moth flew too close to the broken light, caught fire and spiralled to the ground.
‘Cooooooooooooooooooool!’ Rabbit lay down on the ground and rested his head on the pavement, his eyes never leaving the smoking moth. ‘That’s gonna be us tomorrow, how cool is that?’
Finally! thought Peter, we’re getting to it.
‘What’s going to happen, Rabbit?’ he asked patiently.
Rabbit stood up so fast it made Peter jump. He held a finger to his lips and appeared to be listening for something. ‘Can you hear it?’
‘Shhhhhhhhh!’ Rabbit waved Peter into silence. ‘He’ll hear you.’
‘It’s ok, he’s gone,’ said Rabbit, and he started walking down the street. Peter jogged to keep up. Even though Rabbit was making no sense, he had piqued his interest and he needed to get to the bottom of Rabbit’s stranger-than-usual behaviour. ‘Rabbit, stop. Tell me, what’s going on?’
Rabbit grinned and Peter could see several teeth missing. ‘The tortoises are gonna wipe us out. They sent Foo Foo; I heard it in the city tonight, so I came looking for you. You good? I’m good.’
Peter froze in his tracks. ‘Are you fucking kidding me? What’s that sell-out fuck got to do with anything?’
‘Everything, man. The tortoises have hired him to wipe out all the famous faces. They said that once they’re gone people will have no reason to like rabbits anymore. They’ll see them as vermin and finish what the shellies started,’ said Rabbit without blinking. He cracked a huge smile. ‘How mad is that? I’d hate to be a rabbit tomorrow. The tortoises REALLY hate ‘em.’
Peter was still frozen to the spot. He knew ‘Little Bunny’ Foo Foo’s story as well as everyone else. He knew that he was violent and unforgiving and that he’d had a run-in with a fairy which had left him bitter and even more unhinged.
‘Hey, Pete. You ok?’ Rabbit poked Peter in the ribs. ‘Want some coke? It’ll clear you right up. No? It’s ok, I’ll have some, you’ll be alright.’ Rabbit did another line off the back of his hand.
Peter’s brain stirred again, and he frowned. ‘I… you’re a rabbit too, Rabbit. You’ll be wiped out too.’
‘What? Oh, yeah, right. Yeah I’m a rabbit. I’m Rabbit. I’m friends with that bear and that pig and that fucking bouncing tiger. Everyone knows me!’
‘You’re a famous face,’ said Peter grimly.
‘What? Nah, I’m not famous. Everyone just knows me is all!’ Rabbit’s ears drooped further as his own words sank in and his eyes rolled in his head. He dropped to the ground. ‘OH SHIT,’ he wailed, ‘I’M FAMOUS! What am I gonna do? Where can I go? You gotta help me!’
Peter pushed Rabbit off of his shiny new waistcoat. ‘You hadn’t thought that through, had you? You’re probably more famous than the rest of us.’
‘Oh shit, this is bad, man, this is real bad, this is really bad,’ Rabbit buzzed.
As Rabbit pulled tufts of fur out of his arms in panic, Peter took a second to think. How the hell did coked-out Rabbit find out about this plan? Could it all be in his head? He turned and asked, ‘Rabbit, how do you know about this?’
Rabbit stopped tearing at his fur and looked up at Peter, his bloodshot eyes seemingly staring straight through the worried bunny. ‘Because I heard Foo Foo tell Brer before he spread him all over the pawn shop on the corner of 6th and East Avenue with a shotgun. What are we gonna do? I need a hit of coke is what I need. Yeah, that’ll set me straight.’ Rabbit rummaged in his pockets for more cocaine, but found them empty and he burst into tears.
‘You saw Foo Foo gun down Brer Rabbit?’ asked Peter as Rabbit sobbed on the ground in front of him. ‘I think it’s bullshit. This is all some sort of drug trip you’re on. You didn’t see shit. Fuck’s sake, why do I believe this shit? You’re high off your tits, you mug me, you scare the piss out of me, and now you’re telling me Foo Foo is gunning for me. You’re probably just trying to trick me into giving you money. This is fucking stupid.’ Peter went to walk off, but Rabbit grabbed his waistcoat and held him back.
‘You gotta believe me man. Hell, if you want to hear it from someone else talk to the White Rabbit, he knows all about it.’
‘The White Rabbit? The one with the watch? He doesn’t exist. He’s a myth,’ said Peter, a frown still fixed firmly on his face.
‘He exists, man. Oh yeah he exists, you just gotta find him, see? That’s the trick. I’ll turn a trick, want me to turn a trick? I need my fix man.’ Rabbit wiped the tears away with one hand but maintained his imploring stare.
Peter pushed Rabbit away. ‘Even if White Rabbit did exist, what use is it to us?’
‘He’s mad-wise, man. He can solve any problem you want. He solved my friend Alice’s problems, remember? The chick who broke into the museum and crashed that tea party? He knows things, man.’
Peter stared into space. What choice did he have? If Rabbit was lying, which he probably was, all he would lose would be his time, and since he’d nearly finished all his deliveries, that didn’t matter. If Rabbit wasn’t lying however, it meant that his lovely new waistcoat would be filled with holes and that he’d develop a fatal allergy to lead sometime in the near future. He made up his mind and took a deep breath.
‘Ok, I’ll play along. I’ll meet White Rabbit if you can take me to him. Where is he?’
Rabbit got to his feet and smoothed his ears back. He grinned. ‘White Rabbit plays host at this sweet-as opium den about ten minutes away.’ Rabbit went running off down the street.
‘Oh that sneaky crackhead bastard,’ said Peter, accelerating down the street after Rabbit. ‘Now I have to chase a damn dragon as well.’