How one little bunny finds a home
By Lorna Appleby
Photo Copyright Kathryn Louise - http://www.secretsofabutterfly.typepad.com
Fizzy was sitting in her cage, watching the humans run around. The little ones were getting ready to leave the warren for the day, while the bigger ones were standing in the food place drinking some bitter smelling black water. She was hoping the little humans would bring her food, they were often overly generous and it would mean she’d have a full tummy until next time. Sometimes she got fed every day, sometimes she got fed every few days. At least the water bottle lasted quite a while so she was never thirsty.
She tossed her floppy ears and wondered if gnawing on the bars would get the results she wanted. Sometimes it got her food and love; sometimes it got the carnivores making very loud noises that were very scary. She didn’t have anywhere to hide, the best she could do would be to scrunch down in the corner of her cage and hope they stopped making their noises as quickly as they'd started.
The little ones ran off without filling her bowl and Fizzy let out a bunny sigh and flomped over onto her side on rejection. A few minutes passed before she picked up one of the pine shavings and gnawed on it. They made her sneeze and her tummy hurt, but it was better than having nothing.
The bigger, male, human came over to her cage to make mouth noises at her. He sounded very irritated. She hadn’t been out of her cage in forever, she couldn’t have done something the humans didn’t like, could she? The humans were very territorial, they didn’t like her touching things, tasting things, or leaving her scent to say it was her warren too. They got loud when she stretched her legs and had a good run. They got loud when she found good places to hide. The carnivores got loud a lot.
She was surprised when the top of her cage opened; normally the male human left the warren at this time. Sometimes the female human would pick her up and make soft mouth noises at her, but the male human rarely had anything nice to say. She squeaked when he picked her up by the back of the neck, back legs kicking to try and grab some traction. He growled something that made her wide-eyes go wider. “Let me GO!” she grunted, squirming.
She was starting to work her way up to bunny profanity when she found herself in a cardboard box. No traction, no food, no water. What was going on here? She stood up on her hind legs to see if she could hop out when the top was closed and she found herself in the dark. Fizzy cupped her ears forward; the humans were mouth noising to each other. The female sounded sad, the male angry, like usual. Then the whole box moved. “Woah!” she squeaked again, scrabbling to try and get a grip in the slick box. By scent and nose, it was the male who had her. Why didn’t he just hold her properly? She didn’t like being picked up, but it was better than this!
Soon the temperature changed and it was cold. She found almost feel the air pushing against the sides of the box. Then her box was put down inside something. She was just getting her balance and bravery to sniff around and see if she could chew to daylight when the most awful racket started. The whole world started to rumble and vibrate, she was off balance again when suddenly everything moved and she was tossed against the side of the box. She did not like this and thumped to let the male human know. He couldn’t treat her like this! She was a bunny and deserved better! The male human growled something; his voice louder than the monster’s that seemed to have eaten them.
Fizzy huddled down in the corner of the box and hoped they would manage to escape soon. She didn’t much like the male human, but he seemed smart, and carnivores weren’t known to put up with being eaten, were they? She wished she’d had time to learn more from her mom, but her mom didn’t know much rabbit lore to pass on anyway.
It seemed an eternity before the noisy monster settled down and the world stopped moving. She was starting to feel rather nauseated, all things considered. Her box was hoisted once more and she found herself scenting all sorts of fascinating things. She was still wondering what would happen next when she found the whole world turning topsy-turvy and she was thrown against what had been the top of the box. Her weight had her fall through and she landed on something some and gritty. The world around her was green.
She looked up at the male human, wondering what other strangeness could go on with her day. She didn’t understand the mouth noises trying to insist she’d be better off, that she was free, lots of grass and water. She did understand when he grunted in irritation and stomped his foot. He’d never done that before! What danger was there that the male was scared of? Was the monster coming back? She turned tail and dived for the tall grass.
Fizzy ran and ran. She felt like she had been running forever, when she turned around the human male wasn’t to be seen. Had he been eaten already? Had he run another way to distract the monster? The human was slower and bigger than her; any sensible monster would want to eat him first. That was awfully brave and generous for the human to save her; maybe the human female would be along soon to rescue them both. Females often were better at that sort of thing, weren’t they?
She crouched down in the grass and got comfortable. She thought maybe she should go back the way she’d come, but what if the monster was still there? Surely he’d taken them back to his den to eat? Maybe she should try and return to the warren? But she wasn’t quite sure which way that was.
Tired, she found herself napping in the sun warmed grass. It was early afternoon before she was starting to get kind of concerned. Where were the humans anyway? Sure they were normally gone all day, but this was hardly normal! She let out a little thump of irritation and grabbed some grass to chew on. She was getting thirsty, where was her water bottle?
Eventually she decided that the humans just weren’t going to be coming any time soon and she should just better well go find them. Shaking her head, she sat up on her back paws and sniffed at the wind. She was pretty sure she’d come from that direction, but who knew which way the warren was? She couldn’t smell any humans, really, but she did scent something much better – other rabbits!
With a happy hop, Fizzy barrelled her way through the clumps of grass. She changed direction when she heard the thumps, and then hit the dirt, wondering what the danger was. Silence ruled for the most part. The distant roar of monsters, but she’d heard those in her warren. Some sort of chirping, she was pretty sure those were the flitty things that liked trees. She got up and shook herself off, it didn’t seem
like there was any danger about. Maybe the other bunnies weren’t very bright? That would be disappointing; she hoped they knew the way back to her warren!
She was nosing through the grass when a brown noise and face appeared. “Oh!” said the other rabbit and thumped.
“Ack! What?!” Fizzy looked around, panicking once more. “Danger? Where? What!?”
“You!” Said the bunny in a very condescending voice. “You are not supposed to be here!”
“Well, I know that!” Fizzy agreed, “But I’m just not quite sure where I’m supposed to be.”
The boy bunny sighed and seemed about to add to it all when another face appeared. This one was about half the size of Fizzy. “Oh, hello there. What have you found Stiff Whisker?”
“A domestic.” He said with a sniff, turning his back to present it to Fizzy.
“Hey, what’d I do?” she wondered aloud.
“Oh, don’t mind him, he’s a bit of a snob.” The girl bunny hopped up and sniffed at Fizzy. “I’m Softpaw, who are you?”
“I’m Fizzy.” She said, wondering if her name would be judged as lacking too.
“How human.” Stiff Whisker said disdainfully.
Softpaw turned and nipped him on the back. “Be nice!”
“Ow!” he spluttered, whirling to glare and thumped a hind leg. “Don’t do that! You’re not the boss of me!”
“Am too! Am too! Am too!” Softpaw grunted back and seemed to get all bristly like the cat at the warren did.
“Are not!” Stiff Whisker countered. Fizzy was starting to think they were younger than her; for all that they seemed in their element.
“Uhm, excuse me. Where would I find water?” Fizzy asked as the two glared at each other.
Stiff Whisker sniffed again and Softpaw turned to look at her more kindly. “The brook’s over this way. But we shouldn’t drink right now, the hawks are about.”
“What’s a hawk?” Fizzy asked.
“Domestics.” Stiff Whisker said with a snort and turned to hop into the grass, heading towards where the rabbit scent was strongest.
“Don’t mind him, he’s a bitter bug. He fell in love with a domestic, but of course, nothing could come of it!” Softpaw giggled into her paws as she brushed her whiskers.
Fizzy decided at this point it was probably best to just pretend she had the faintest idea of what her wild cousin was speaking of. Or at least, she was pretty sure this was one of the wild bunnies she’d heard about in bunny lore. “So, no water?” She asked.
Softpaw held still for a few heartbeats and then her nose started twitching a mile a minute. “Well, I suppose if we’re careful..”
“Please?” Fizzy asked. She wasn’t quite sure what the big deal was. Maybe they shared their water and it wasn’t there turn and the hawks would get mad? But she was so thirsty! It had been a few hours at least since she’d gotten a drink!
“Oh, all right then..” Softpaw headed in a different direction from where Stiff Whisker had gone.
Fizzy hopped quickly to catch up, she didn’t seem to have Softpaw’s ability of moving through the grass with a minimum of trail. She felt like a bumbling fool. She didn’t quite run into Softpaw’s tail when the other rabbit stopped. “Urg.” She muttered as she hit her brakes.
“Shhh.” Softpaw whispered and pent a few stalks of grass with her forepaw. Being taller, Fizzy could see over her shoulder to the water beyond. “Looks okay.” She snuck out towards the bank. “You drink, I’ll keep watch.”
Fizzy hopped down towards the water and stuck her tongue in. It was cold and tasted funny! She wrinkled her nose and looked back up at Softpaw. The little brown rabbit was scanning the skies and not paying attention at all. Fizzy surprised a sigh, she supposed a good guest wouldn’t complain. It was proper to be polite. She managed to get a few mouthfuls before Softpaw started thumping up a storm.
“Run!” yelled Softpaw as Fizzy scrambled up the bank. “Hawk!”
Fizzy might have longer legs, but Softpaw was much more used to running. The pet rabbit was panting before long, a brown shape streaking after them, getting bigger and larger. Panic led speed to her feet and she caught up with her wild cousin just as Softpaw disappeared down a burrow.
The domestic bun was doubtful she’d fit down the small tunnel, but that scary hawk was getting close enough she could see his claws and they were reaching for her. With a made scramble she stuck her head in the burrow and shoved herself in as far and fast as she could. Roots tangled in her whiskers and dirt stung her eyes in her mad scitter to get all of her in the tunnel. She could hear her wild cousins protesting further down the tunnel, perhaps in the warren she could scent below, but she wasn’t about
to stop and figure it all out. Her tail was barely within when she felt the hawk swoop down, barely missing.
Further panicked wriggling and dragging got her far enough into the tunnel so that all the vicious bird could grab was a few tufts of fur from her tail. “eeeeeek!” she yelped and jerked forward just an extra bit, getting firmly stuck in a turn.
The hawk cried its frustration a few times before it took off to the air. Fizzy managed to get her forepaws far enough forward that she could start grooming some of the dirty and guck out of her face and eyes. She was barely started when Softpaw came forward. “He’ll be circling for a while yet. I’m afraid you’re stuck for a bit.” She looked over her shoulder. “The warren’s not too happy to have you blocking the main exit.”
“She doesn’t belong!” was called up the tunnel with several thumps following.
Softpaw’s whiskers drooped, but she didn’t argue.
Fizzy felt rejected all over again and tried to reverse up the tunnel.
“Wait!” Softpaw called, grabbing Fizzy’s loppy ear in her teeth. “You can’t go! You’ll get eaten!”
“I’d rather go get eaten than stay where I’m not wanted!” She cried in typical teenager fashion.
“Now you’re being silly.” Softpaw told her, planting a foot on Fizzy’s whiskers, stopping the lop’s mad backward peddle. “Wait a couple hours and then leave in a snit. Not like anyone can force you out anyway. Have a few roots.” Softpaw reached up to the top of the tunnel and bit off a chunk of root and passed it to Fizzy.
Fizzy sighed and chewed and chewed and chewed on the root. She really missed her pellets.
It seemed forever before Softpaw decided it was safe for Fizzy to leave the tunnel. The wild rabbit helped push as she wiggled, wrenched, and scrambled her way back out of the too tight tunnel.
Fizzy shook the dirt and debris out of her fur and proceeded to preen her face. "Now what?" she asked the ever patient Softpaw.
"I don't know," Softpaw answered with honesty, "You don't know how to burrow, you don't know what to eat, and you don't know half the dangers. You're a meal waiting to be eaten."
Fizzy was hunched up in a little ball, floppy ears practically glued to her sides in her misery.
A loud sigh came from the tunnel, "Ask the dogs. They have humans and humans are supposed to take care of their domestics"
"Dogs?" Fizzy echoed, not sure she liked the sound of that.
"You're brilliant!" Softpaw squealed and stuck her head down the much abused tunnel to lick her brother's nose.
"Anything to get rid of the domestic!" he declared.
"C'mon!" ordered Softpaw as she dashed into the underbrush
With more curiosity than sense, Fizzy scrambled after her friend to catch up with the smaller rabbit. Soon they came to a long chain link fence and loped along it. Fizzy could sniff carnivores and then could see what they had come for. "THOSE are dogs?" she asked, eyes showing a lot of white.
"They're not all bad." Softpaw reassured her.
"They have big, big, sharp, teeth!" Fizzy exclaimed.
Softpaw didn't have the heart to tell her naive friend this was the small side; the dogs further down were much, much larger!
After they'd been watching for a while Fizzy asked, "What now?"
"Patience!" Softpaw told her. "Life is waiting; sometimes for friends, sometimes for food, often for opportunities."
Fizzy just sighed and tried to get comfortable on the muddy dirt beside the fence.
It seemed forever to Fizzy before one of the monsters came near enough to sent them. "Baroooo!" the black fuzzball yelled as she dashed towards the fence and rabbits.
Fizzy jumped what felt like a mile in the air and dashed into the bushes behind them. Softpaw bravely stood her ground, ears trembling at the noise and ferocious display. She knew the small dog couldn't get through to her, but it was still pretty scary.
"Daffodil!" another dog yapped, "Shyadup!"
"Rabbit! Rabbit!" Daffodil called, bouncing up and down.
"We can see its a rabbit!" the other dog said coming up, a scragglier black dog. "Hello, rabbit!" he called to Softpaw. "Why're you hanging around here?"
"Fizzy! Get out here!" Softpaw ordered with a thump. The thump may have been more effective without the slurp splat of the mud.
Fizzy stuck her nose out of the brush and wriggled it a few times before slowly emerging.
"Oh!" said the boy dog.
"Stupid humans!" growled the girl dog; Daffodil.
"Fizgig'll have our humans here shortly. They're good humans." he trotted up to the fence, "I'm Gruffix"
"Hi" Fizzy offered nervously
Soon both rabbits could here a female human talking to a third dog. Gruffix's tail started waggling madly.
"What's she saying?" Softpaw asked the dogs.
"They can understand human?" Fizzy asked in amazement.
"Well, sure. Mom taught me some, the rest I had to learn as I trained the humans." Gruffix replied, ignoring Fizzy’s talking of him rudely in the third person. Instead, he bounced up and down. "Show time!"
A rather tall female human came into view, and both dogs immediately sat up on their haunches and started whining. The human was still talking.
"She's saying we better not have found a dead body and ooooh, what're you doing here," Gruffix translated. "Stand up on your hind legs, humans can't resist that"
Obediently, Fizzy stood up on her rear legs and wiggled her front paws to keep her balance.
The human made cooing noises and turned to hurry away, Daffodil at her heels.
"She's telling her mate to give her his muffin." Daffodil said before the rabbits could worry at the human’s disappearance.
They could hear a lower pitched human voice protesting. Gruffix's tail waggled harder. "She's not letting him refuse, she grabbed it. Females sure are pushy!"
"Hey!" protested Softpaw, Daffodil snapped the air near him and Fizzy wondered if she should protest or just be glad she wasn’t alone.
"Er.. Human women that is!" Gruffix corrected himself before turning to look over his shoulder once more. "She's going to come around the fence and try to entice you with food. When she tries to pick you up, wiggle alot. Oh and lick her nose."
"Lick her nose?! Ew!" Fizzy protested
“Trust me!" Gruffix insisted
Fizzy wasn’t sure about the wisdom of trusting a carnivore. On the one paw, they ate bunnies, but on the other, Softpaw had brought her here to meet the dogs and humans and Softpaw seemed pretty smart.
A male human appeared and muttered under his breath as Daffodil and a tan coloured fuzzball danced at his feet.
Fizzy was trying to figure out what was going to happen next when the female came clumping up on their side of the fence. Fizzy danced away more out of instinct than anything else. Softpaw bolted, making a run for it before the two foot could get too close.
The female was trying to sound cute while the male continued to grumble. She held out a piece of muffin while Fizzy looked at her and it dubiously. The human then broke of a piece of muffin and threw it towards Fizzy.
Fizzy had to admit it did smell good and she was awfully hungry. She crept forward and grabbed the morsel before jumping back a step. She didn't notice that the next morsel was closer to the human and that the dogs had wandered off to sniff for new things. All that mattered was this was food and it was very, very yummy and she was very, very hungry. She hadn’t even had breakfast and it was close to dinner time!
The bunny didn't realize how close she was until she found that the human had grabbed her. Who knew humans could move so fast? She squirmed and tried to get away before she remembered what Gruffix had said. Heart pounding she held herself very still and tried her best to ignore the scent of carnivore as the woman scooped her close, saying more cutesy things.
Fizzy sighed and leaned up and licked the human's nose. If she was going to trust the dogs, she may as well go all the way. The female made happy, delighted noises while the male let out a low, pained moan.
Gruffix came dancing up around the woman’s feet. "See! You will now never go hungry again! Welcome to the family!"
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