An eerie wind blew through Spring Valley, delivering the smell of salt and dangerous trespassers. Pixie was gathering up a bundle of carrots when the putrid odor caught her attention. She wiggled her nostrils and flared her whiskers. Gone was the sweet aroma from the honeysuckle flowers that normally filled the air with lovely fragrances.
Senses alert, Pixie carefully traced the vegetative terrain. She noticed the birds had ceased their chirping, and the bees were no longer buzzing. Strange voices echoed in the distance. There was no denying it now; men had arrived on the island. Every animal across the land knew that humans were parasites with selfish intentions. There was only one thing Pixie could do. Warn the other rabbits.
Pixie dropped the carrots and pounced along the small dirt path leading to Bunny Village. The village was a small community of wild rabbits that worked together to survive. Over the years, they built small huts made from grass, hay, and mud. Behind every home was a small garden overfilled with fresh carrots that grew year-round.
The home-grown carrots were delicious, but most rabbits loved the wild ones that grew outside the village. They had a different taste, and Pixie loved going out and bringing large bundles back to share with everyone. They called these tasty treats orange logs.
Exploding into Bunny Village, Pixie caused quite the ruckus with her sonic speed. Mr. Longears was carrying a wad of hay across the path to repair his leaky roof when she blazed by him. He spun around three times before falling flat on his bushy tail, covered in straw. “Slow down!” he yelled, shaking his furry fists.
Rushing along like a speeding rocket, Pixie called out, “Sorry, Mr. Longears!”
All eyes were on Pixie as she made her way to Russel, the village elder. He was carefully plowing a row in his garden patch when he noticed the waft of smoky dirt that lingered in the air behind Pixie’s warpath. Russel’s eyes widened as he saw Pixie plant her feet down, sliding to a complete stop.
Brushing the loose dirt from his fur, Russel moaned, “Slow down, child… Whatever is the problem?”
Her tiny heart was beating a mile a minute, and she had to take a few deep breaths to compose herself. “H-humans are here!”
Russel rolled his eyes in protest. “Is that all? They usually stay along the beach while they pack their fish with ice.”
“Y-yes, I know, but what if they decide to come inland? Shouldn’t we hide?”
“Nonsense! Let them tend to their business, and you tend to yours!”
“B-but what if they come here and decide to attack us? We could lose a lot of our friends!”
“You have quite the imagination!” Russel folded his arms and thought for a moment. “If it makes you feel better, take a small group with you down to the beach. Stay hidden and keep an eye on them. If…” he pointed his finger at her to emphasize his point, “if they take one step inland towards our village, then you can sound the alarms.”
Pixie smiled as she felt a sense of pride. “Thank you! I won’t let you down. They say that old age brings wisdom, and you are most wise indeed!”
Before Russel could utter another word, Pixie raced off to round up her friends. She knew exactly who to ask first – Norbit. He was the most sophisticated rabbit on the entire island. He taught himself how to read by studying books that humans left behind on the beach. Norbit was the village storyteller, and the young bunnies loved to hear his mystifying tales.
Pixie knocked on Norbit’s door, and he swiftly answered. “What a wonderful surprise! Have you come to hear the tale of Moby Dick?
“Ewww, that’s gross!” Pixie mumbled. “Russel has allowed me to go on a critical mission, and I was hoping you would join me.”
“I see… another adventure is it?”
“It’s important! Humans have arrived on the beach again, and we need to make sure they don’t come inland.”
After a few moments, he replied, “I suppose I could. Perhaps I will find another book or two when they leave!”
“Yay!” Pixie cried.
The next rabbit on Pixie’s list was her very best friend, Sophie. She was a very timid rabbit and was overly cautious about everything. It was going to take some convincing to get Sophie to join. Pixie found her down by the creek just south of the village. Sophie was twiddling her fingers and staring at the rushing water before her feet. Pixie told Norbit to stay back, so she could talk with her in private.
“Hi Sophie, what’s wrong?” Pixie asked.
Startled, Sophie replied, “I need to wash my hands, but the water looks unfriendly today… What if it pulls me in?”
Pixie rushed over to the cool water and dipped her hands in. “See, everything is just fine!”
Sophie raised her eyes apprehensively and brushed her fingers through the water. She smiled and said, “Thank you. I’m glad you came along. I get scared sometimes….”
“No problem! I’m always here to help, but today, I need your help.”
Sophie lifted her ears and listened to Pixie’s proposal about keeping an eye on the humans.
Her reply was swift, “No way!”
“Oh, come on, Sophie! I think it will do you some good to get out and see the world a little bit. Norbit is coming along, and we will stay out of sight.”
Sophie was lost in her own thoughts. She remembered all the times Pixie was there to help when she needed it the most. She didn’t want Pixie to be mad at her, so she reluctantly said, “Fine. As long as the humans don’t see us… I’ll come.”
Pixie started jumping in joy, “Yippie!”
Pixie’s last stop was her friend, Thumpy. He was a little looney, and the other rabbits didn’t pay him much attention. Thumpy was always digging holes in and outside of the village. He claimed that someone had stolen his glasses and buried them somewhere on the island as a joke.
No one knew where Thumpy was, so Pixie, Norbit, and Sophie followed the freshly dug holes until, at long last, they found him. He was burrowing deep into the soil as they approached him.
Norbit narrowed his eyes at the hole, and Sophie cautiously stayed behind in his shadow. Pixie crept forward and called out, “Hey, Thumpy, we're going on an adventure to keep an eye on the humans down by the beach. Would you like to come with us?”
All of a sudden, the dirt stopped flying, and Thumpy’s small head popped out like a jack-in-the-box. He rolled his eyes back and forth and said, “Yes… me come!”
Crawling out from the small crater, Thumpy looked at the others and wiggled his nose. His foot started pounding on the ground like a jackhammer, and his long ears dangled all about. Peering out from behind Norbit, Sophie couldn’t help but laugh. It was a funny thing to witness.
Wanting to emphasize the importance of the mission, Pixie raised her hands and bobbed them up and down. “Listen, Thumpy, we have to be very careful on this quest because we don’t want those men to see us. Do you understand?”
Thumpy twisted his mouth into a lopsided grin and said, “Me understand. Yes. Nasty humans must not see Thumpy digging his holes!”
Norbit rolled his eyes and said to no one in particular, “This is going to be a piece of carrot cake….”
“Mmmm, me likes cakes… so yummies!”
With Pixie’s team now complete, the curious quartet of friends made their way down the dirt path towards the beach. Looking out to the ocean, a haze of humidity draped over the enormous ship that brought the humans.
Sophie pointed out a black flag with skull bones on it. “Maybe we should go back. That doesn’t look friendly.”
“It’s doubtful the humans are nice, and that flag, my dear friends, means that they are pirates!” exclaimed Norbit.
Norbit, Sophie, and Pixie gave each other grave looks and then collectively turned to Thumpy. He started thumping his foot again and said, “This is fun. Me so happy!”
Scanning the area, Pixie saw some lush bushes that branched out from the jungle to the beach. It was the perfect cover. She held her finger up to her lips and whispered, “Shhh!” Thumper slapped his face and held his hand over his mouth.
Pixie motioned for them to follow as she sprinted from bush to bush. The others cautiously followed. Sophie squeezed Norbit’s hand tighter and did her best to hide in his robust silhouette. He gave her a reassuring look, and they pressed on side by side. Thumpy dove into the sand and made his way to the others like an earthworm sliding through the crusty soil.
Reaching the last bush before the open beach, they gazed through the lush green leaves and saw a scruffy old man sitting on some beach wood eating his lunch. He had a long mullet that matched his black beard and fluffy eyebrows. He also had dirty streaks of black painted on his skin.
He was the only human sitting on the beach. The rest of the men were on the deck or sitting on the ramp that stretched out from the ship to the coast. The scruffy man just finished gnawing on a piece of raw fish and pulled out a banana from his sack.
He placed his hand on his stomach and grimaced. He called out to the other men, “Does anyone want this banana? I’m full.”
Another rough-looking man replied, “Heck no! We are tired of bananas. We have crates and crates of em’ in the cargo hold!”
The scruffy man twisted his face and muttered, “Yeah, you’re right. These things make me sick!”
He rose up from the beach wood and tossed the banana over to the bushes. It nearly hit Thumpy, who was chewing on one of his ears. His eyes lit up at the sight of the succulent fruit. Pixie, Sophie, and Norbit backed away from the strange object. They had never seen anything like it before.
Thumpy reached down to grab it, and Sophie cried out, “Don’t touch it! Those guys said it made them sick. It must be poison.”
Ignoring her cautious tone, Thumpy grabbed the banana and sniffed it like a rabid dog. After fiddling with the stem, he peeled back the skin. His foot started to thump again. “Look, it opens like a flower,” he proclaimed.
“I would take Sophie’s words to heart; you don’t know what that thing is,” said Norbit.
“Me knows what it is… a golden log!”
Pixie heard enough foolish talk and reached over to grab the golden log, but before she could get her hands on it, Thumpy took a big bite. They all gasped in horror as Thumpy chewed and chewed.
They expected him to keel over, but to their surprise, Thumpy pounded his foot harder and faster than before. His face lit up in pure delight, and he started howling. Pixie quickly placed her hands on his mouth to keep him quiet.
“Oh no, this is it. Thumpy’s dying!” cried Sophie.
Norbit cut in, “No. Wait... I think he’s happy.”
Norbit tore off a piece and tasted it. “Oh my, this is good! You all must try this!”
Thumpy stopped howling, and Pixie released her hold. She reached over to the golden log and took a bite.” Her senses exploded in pure delight. “This is fantastic! Sophie, you have to try it!”
Sophie took a deep breath and grabbed a piece. Slowly raising it to her mouth, she took a second look at the others to make sure they weren’t writhing in pain. Feeling satisfied, Sophie tasted it. Her face remained calm as she chewed. The others watched on with bated breath.
Sophie licked her lips and shouted, “We have to get more of this stuff!”
Together they came up with a plan to sneak onto the ship and grab a crate of the golden logs. They watched the scruffy old man walk up the ramp and followed him when the other men weren’t looking. They had to use their speed and cunning – two things that every rabbit had in common.
They bobbed and weaved their way behind huge wooden barrels until they saw a set of stairs that led down to the cargo hold. The rabbits watched as the men were busy tying knots and working around the deck with reckless abandon. Pixie took point and told the others to follow close. She waited for the perfect opening and dashed down the stairs. The others were right on her bushy tail.
There were no humans in the cargo hold, only barrels stuffed with fish and ice. In the center of the room were dozens of crates filled with golden logs and orange balls.
“That’s it!” cried Pixie, pointing at the crates. “We have to work together on this. I want two on each end of the crate, and then we can push it through the porthole. Once we get it out, we can drag it back to the beach.”
Suddenly, they felt a strange rocking motion and a pull on their bodies. The ship was moving…
Panic set into Sophie, “Oh no, oh no, oh no!!”
“Don’t worry, my dear, we still have time to get this out before it’s too late,” whispered Norbit.
Thumpy started to thump his foot in a mad rush of excitement. The noise sounded like someone pounding a hammer in the dark.
A voice came from above the stairs, “Who’s down there?”
Pixie tackled Thumpy to get him to stop pounding, but it was too late. They heard heavy footsteps coming down the stairs. Pixie told the others to hide, and they did. Sophie stayed close to Norbit, who hid behind one of the crates full of orange balls. He could feel her heart tremble against his fur like a mighty earthquake. Thumpy and Pixie hid behind one of the fish barrels. Pixie had to keep her hands across Thumpy’s mouth to keep him quiet.
Peering out around the barrel, Pixie’s eyes grew big as she saw the scruffy old man searching in the darkness for them. The old man noticed a fluffy tail sticking out from one of the crates full of oranges. In one swift motion, he stretched out and grabbed the rabbit with one hand and pulled out his knife with the other.
The old man licked his lips as he looked Sophie up and down with delight. “Ah… what do we have here? A rabbit! So juicy, so ripe!”
Norbit ducked down and started to cry because he didn’t hold onto Sophie as tightly as he should have. He blamed himself.
The old man held the knife up to Sophie’s neck and yelled, “No more cold fish, bananas, or tangy oranges for me! I think it’s time for some real meat. Some rabbit stew!!”
Thumpy bit down on Pixie’s hand, and she released his grip on him. He ran over to the old man and chomped down hard on his ankle. The man screamed and dropped Sophie to the floor. Feeling startled, the man ran back up the stairs.
“Hurry, everyone! Grab that crate and let’s go!” yelled Pixie.
Working together, they all grabbed the banana crate and shoved it through the porthole. Sophie, Norbit, and Thumpy jumped out and landed in the container. Before Pixie made her jump, she heard the footsteps of many men running down the stairs. She made her leap and landed safely with the others.
The crate was floating on the sea, and the rabbits looked at each other without saying anything. There was now an unspoken bond between them. The tide swiftly brought them back to the beach, and they carried the crate full of golden logs back to the jungle. They hid the container close to the creek in a hole that Thumpy had dug earlier.
At long last, Pixie looked at Sophie and said, “I’m sorry I put you in danger. I’m sorry for everything.”
“There’s no need to be sorry,” said Sophie. “You’re my best friend, and the next time those men come back to pack their fish on ice, we will be ready for them. Together we’ll go back for more of these golden logs!”
With shock in his eyes, Norbit uttered, “Are you sure? The situation could have turned out quite differently, you know. We were lucky this time, and what about the other rabbits? Are we going to share these delicious golden logs?”
Thumpy started to pound his foot. “No way! These yummies belong to me and us!!”
Pixie smiled as they all agreed to keep the golden logs a secret. After all, they did all the work to get them. It wouldn’t be right to share unless they all came together to attack the humans. Fair was fair after all…
Later that evening, Pixie, Norbit, Sophie, and Thumpy returned to Bunny Village and were greeted by Russel. “Well, how did it go? Was there any trouble?”
Pixie looked at the others, and they all spoke in unison: “No trouble at all.”
With that, they returned to their huts. Russel cocked his head as he heard Thumpy bounce away, mumbling, “Yummie, yummie, yummie, golden logs!”
Daniel R. Hayes