by Patricia L. Morin
Mystery writer Patricia L. Morin shares an original short story with KRL that has an Easter twist.
“Run, Violet, run!”
“I’m going as fast as my four feet can carry me, Peter.”
“Oh my God, Harris’s!” Violet yelled.
“I told you not to look up. You’re slowing us down. Run faster! We’re almost home!”
“We’re dead, Peter. We’re just whiteys, too small to fight them. They could lift us by our cottontails.”
“Not if you run and stop talking!”
Yes, they would die. The Harris hawks hunted as a team, one to flush them out of their feeding ground, and two to chase. One should be landing right near their home entrance any moment.
“I can see our–” Violet stopped as one of the brown Harris hawks landed ten feet in front of their den, another zooming toward her from the air.
“Zigzag! Aim for Jack’s place!” He knew that didn’t matter. Harris hawks, agile and smart, talons at the ready, were too quick.
Violet veered to the right and Jack to the left, and closer to the hawk. Let Violet live, please, he prayed to the great white rabbit in the sky. Take me.
The hawk squealed.
Peter turned toward her.
Jack, his best friend, had called out the big rabbits. Jack, small, fast, and with the best boxing feet in Green Valley, hopped in front of Violet, kicking the hawk’s claw. The others hopped in so many directions that it confused the hunters. Harris’s usually aimed for one prey, but now there were ten, no twelve, no fifteen!
“Home, Violet!” Peter screamed, and watched her dart toward their entrance.
The hawk in front of her had flown toward Jack, but he crisscrossed paths with three other rabbits.
Peter hopped behind Violet into their front door. Out of breath, they leaned panting against the wall. Their fourteen offspring, seven ready to leave the village of Warren, were off in other tunnels.
“Think everyone’s alright, Peter?” Violet whispered as her breath slowed.
“Why are they here? And tomorrow is the Easter parade, and all the rabbits will come dressed in their finest! What about the egg-coloring contest! Oh, Ma Hen will be clucking about that to me later, and scratching for a fight near the coop, you wait. She’ll be going on and on about how she should have won the election for governor. And popular Scotty Ray Silkie Roo was to announce the events! This is horrible!” Violet cuddled against Peter.
“I’ll talk to Jack in a little while and thank him and his family for saving our lives. We’ll call an emergency meeting at the Town Hall.”
“I’ll bring them over some of that sweet grass near the horses for the afternoon feed. They’ll like that.”
Peter wandered the endless tunnels searching for his uncle’s office in the Town Hall of Warren. Violet settled in the major hall with all the rabbits, except for the giant German, who stayed home and slept.
“Gov, did you–”
His uncle nodded, dressed in his black robe, floppy ears resting on the ground, and his nose twitching nervously.
“Big trouble. They got Scotty Ray Silkie Roo. Ma Hen’s heart is broken. She’s not even running around like she’s got no head. No clucks, no moaning to the brood. Nothing. Just sitting on her perch alone in the dark. Scotty Ray was her favorite, and after what happened to McNuggets Silkie Roo with the snake … Well, she’s an old hen, you know.”
“I’m so sorry. They must have gone for the chickens after Jack’s family confused them.”
“Yeah, I’d say so. The roosters couldn’t even save him, and those boys are something to be reckoned with. What a mess for tomorrow. We’ll have to cancel.” The Governor sprung down the tunnel toward the meeting room. “Let’s get hopping, Pete. We’ll have an angry mob to face.”
“I’m sorry does and bucks, but in light of the hawk dangers, I will have to cancel Easter this year.”
The uproar echoed throughout the chambers.
“I do have an idea, Governor,” Peter said. He lifted both paws to silence the crowd. “What if we set a trap for the three hawks? We could catch them and then let them go after tomorrow and tell them not to come back.”
A hush subdued the group.
“How?” Jack finally asked.
“Chicken wire and flypaper,” Peter suggested. “We all build a coop right near the feeding ground to the east, and I’ll feed on the ground, catching their attention. When the one dives to flush me out, I’ll head into the coop, and it’ll dive down and get caught in the flypaper. The others will come to investigate, and we’ll get all three!”
“It could work,” the Governor said. “Anyone here beside Jack think it could work?”
“I do,” Violet voted. “As long as we are all there in case something goes wrong.”
“If Peter thinks it will work, I’m there with him. He’ll need my strength to build the coop,” Harvey, the biggest white rabbit in Warren, said.
“I’ll be there, yes, I’ll be there, with my family, all of my family this time, to confuse them again,” Jack said, bounding around the group. “We’ll get them, those hooked-beak–”
“Okay, Jack, we get the idea. Let’s give it a go. We’ll need some of you others to help,” the Governor added, scanning the hall. “I’ll go get the materials from Ma Hen and the barn. Let’s hope those claws don’t tear through the flypaper. We’ll triple it.”
“Yeah, triple it. Good idea, triple,” Jack repeated.
One of the older hares asked, “Why are they here? I’ve never seen one of them before now. What brings them to Warren?”
The Governor shook his head, ears flopping. “Don’t know,” he answered, “Let’s get to work.”
The hawks had been nowhere in sight after the fiasco with the hares, but Peter and Jack placed lookouts at strategic spots around Warren. Ma Hen seemed relieved that something was being done about Scotty Ray Silkie Roo’s murderer. After building the coop, the group placed it near the longer grass on the east side of Warren. Peter and
Jack had the chickens squawk as if they were in trouble and out in the open.
It worked! The three hawks circled and sat on a branch of a tree not too far from Peter. He munched on the soft green grass, one eye on the sky.
Fear struck him when he heard the shriek of the swooping bird. He shook and raced into the coop, closed the door, latched it, and watched as two of the birds zeroed in on him. They seemed to be competing with each other! What if they both landed at the same time? Could the cage hold them? Would the extra-duty flypaper work?
The breezes from the wings of two hawks flapping furiously on the flypaper passed over him. He felt faint. The birds screamed as the flypaper tore at their claws. Blood dribbled on the grass. The cage rattled so hard that part of the top fell in. Peter held his breath. His heart pumped faster as the birds’ beaks snapped at him through the chicken wire, eyes crazy with fear. The hawks couldn’t budge, and squealed even louder.
Were they caught? He couldn’t see pass the fluttering wings and beaks trying to peck at him. The third bird circled, inspecting the site.
Another sound caught Peter’s attention. No, it couldn’t be!
“Humans!” the other rabbits cried and hid. If the hawks wouldn’t eat him, the human might.
“Hey, Stan, there they are. Loud enough, aren’t they? How the hell–”
“Flypaper?” Stan answered. “They’re stuck on the flypaper. Look at their claws. Their stabbing talon is bleeding! Looks like we’ll be hand-feeding those two.”
“Your other one is circling. Looks a little hungry, and nervous. Maybe we should let him have this rabbit.”
“What kind of falconers are we, huh?” Stan cajoled. “This is our secret. Tell no one this happened. Obviously, their training wasn’t done.” He called to the bird above, leather armband held to the sky. “He won’t go out without these two.”
“Or our training,” the other said. “I’ll get Charger, brought his mask.”
They are human pets? Peter wondered. They got away from their human keepers?
“Must have been chilly for them last two nights,” Stan added as he helped the scared birds off the paper.
“We’ll check them out later, let’s go home.” The other man stared down at Peter, nose twitching, and statue still.
“Good-looking rabbit. Maybe I’ll take him for Brenda. Easter tomorrow. Nice present, don’t cha think?”
“Naa, not with the birds so close in the truck. We have a long ride ahead of us,” Stan said, studying Peter then the situation. “Leave him. I’ll unlatch the coop.”
The men walked out of the eastern part of Warren. Cheers resounded through the area, and Jack hopped around the coop. “You’re free. It worked, Peter. You’re a hero!”
“You’re the true hero. You saved Violet and me.” Peter sprung toward Jack. “Let’s go home and get ready for Easter.”
“Well, we’re all safe,” Peter said as he nuzzled her in return.
“Yes, and I can’t wait to show you my Easter bonnet.”
Check out other mystery articles, reviews, book giveaways & short stories, including more Easter mystery short stories, in our mystery section. Watch for more Easter related mystery short stories coming this week. Check out another Detective Peter Cottontale short story from Patricia.