“A Hatful of Rabbits” by Benjamin Jacobson
Kendra lifted the mug to her lips. Only a well-timed sniff kept her from attempting to drink the rabbit fecal pellets inside. Magic bunnies were odd in that way. They littered her apartment, hiding in her slippers and chewing holes in her grandmother’s quilt, but they all took turns using her drinkware as a latrine. She didn’t know if this was a silver lining or just a cup of shit.
Kendra replaced the mug on her coffee table, sending the bunny tribe that had nested there hopping off like ripples in a pond. She squinted and shook her head. Biting her lip, she raised to her feet. A mother rabbit and her litter reclaimed their sofa warren.
Making her way from the living room to the kitchen proved difficult as Kendra interrupted all manner of lagomorph culture, from jumping and playing to the ever-popular fornication. It took her two minutes to traverse the twenty feet and reach the large yellow tome on the counter.
She flipped open the Universal Telepathic Directory, as its cover proclaimed it, and quickly turned to the section titled “Magical Support.” Pulling her cell path out of her pocket, she placed the round object directly in front of her forehead, where it floated. She looked down at the book, the cell path following the movement of her head, and just managed to think the name of her target before a young kit laid down in the middle of the page.
A moment passed, while Kendra stared out at her living room, a sea of white fur. She wished at the very least they had been different colors. Then she could have named them, recognized them, cared for them, but no, all white rabbits.
“Hello?” Kendra talked through her telepathic calls, partly to direct her thoughts and partly to drown out the ever-present static of nibbling and padded feet. “Yes, I have a problem with my I-Mage.” At that point she realized that she might need the product in question to fix it. She eyed it sitting back on that coffee table next to the mug of poop. She began a delicate tip-toeing dance across the room as she spoke. “Well, I set it to rabbit during a performance and it worked alright…” She tried to stretch out the story as she crossed the room. “I mean, I placed the I-Mage in the hat and tapped it when it was time for the rabbit to come.” A misplaced foot lead to an unpleasant bunny squeal; the resulting trip left her close enough to the table to stretch for the device. “And I got a rabbit, but then it wouldn’t stop.” Kneeling on the ground, stretching for the little white rectangle, rabbit fur tickled her underarm. She fought off a giggle. “Don’t apologize, the show went great. No one had ever seen that many rabbits come out of a hat. The problem is…it’s still going.”
Just as her fingers touched the plastic edge, a rabbit hopped up and seized the device in its forepaws. They had become increasingly, disturbingly anthropomorphic. Kendra saw a glint in its red eye and perhaps a smile on its snout as it turned and walked off the table. “Um, okay,” she responded to her telepathic directions, as she strained to follow the hopping rabbit through the sea of white in her living room. “Yeah, I tried that.” Her study door opened and closed. Kendra had trouble figuring how.
The study; of course it would go there. That’s where they first started to congregate, when they were just a cute annoyance. Kendra stood and began another journey. “Okay, and that will get rid of them?”
As she approached it, Kendra remembered when she had first closed the study door. She’d thought to put the problem off, but it had only gotten worse. She’d let it go and stopped using the study. She hadn’t fed her doves in days. She hadn’t heard them coo since that morning. She noticed hats on some of the bunnies, musketeer hats made from the same checkered fabric as her study sofa. Out of some of the hats, about every tenth one, stood a white feather.
“Well then how do I get rid of the…” She placed her hand on the door as her thoughts were interrupted by the magician on the other end of her call. The pause gave her occasion to notice how strange the bunnies were acting. They were no longer around her feet – they had cleared a place for her to stand. While none were looking at her directly, she got the impression that she was being watched. She looked around for the behatted ones only to find them missing. “Okay, thank you,” she said as she grabbed the cell path from the air and placed it in her back pocket.
The door opened without a creak, and surprisingly, without resistance. The room she had known was gone. None of her furniture or pictures were visible. The walls themselves, once papered, now stood naked except for tiny scratches. The room was not, however, empty. The same, familiar sea of fur greeted her, but it was different: mannered, civilized.
Central to the room stood a tower. After a moment she recognized parts from her now vanished desk in the tower’s walls. The mystery unlocked, she identified scraps of upholstery, pieces of wallpaper, and tangled wires that had once been bird cages within the mammoth, yet miniature, structure. She glanced back at the floor and realized that not a single red eye could be seen… her entrance had been unobserved. The bunnies all faced the tower. Few of them moved at all, no hopping, or humping, or playing. Those that did move seemed to be bowing toward the tower temple.
A rabbit appeared at the apex of the structure, a small dove’s skull strapped to his head by a thread. A robe of feathers cascaded down his back. In his paws he held the small, rectangular I-Mage. He lifted it above his head and the remaining standing bunnies bowed at its presence.
With a speed of movement she had not allowed herself in a week, Kendra leaped forward and snatched the magical device from the hands of the skull-wearing bunny. “Sorry guys, but now you’re just really creeping me out.”
Following the instructions of the magician, she held down the central button for five seconds to reset the device. The horde at her feet began to stir and convulse with movement. A gentle chime signaled the I-Mage’s reawakening. She slid the touchpad menu to “Conjure>Animals” as she had done many times before, but not to “Rabbit” this time – perhaps never again. Instead she scrolled to the final option, one she wouldn’t have considered without some professional advice.
Kendra pushed the lock on and tossed the device into the middle of the growing tumult. She turned for the door and glanced back just in time to see a green circle form and expand. She closed the door behind her to find a similar commotion had gripped the whole bunny assemblage. The sea of fur had grown into a tumbling tempest.
Kendra flew to the front door. As she reached it, she contemplated what use she had for a giant python in her act.
About the Author
Benjamin Jacobson writes when he’s not thinking about writing or teaching writing. Benjamin takes responsibility for one wife, one and three quarters children, two dogs, and a father-in-law, but that’s it. His plans for the Apocalypse include reinventing the wheel and hunkering down with a rag-tag group of survivors. He lives in Arizona, which welcomes the Apocalypse every summer. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.