“I knew you wouldn’t believe me.” Allen said. His pale face was completely serious, even though what he was suggesting was ludicrous.
His skinny girlfriend Sheila shook her head, her long chestnut hair catching a shine in the light. “You’re right. I don’t believe you,” she looked again at the metal cage on the dresser and the small black and white rabbit that wiggled its nose within. “Bunny Hopwell wouldn’t hurt a flea.”
“I knew I shouldn’t have told you,” Allen said sullenly, brushing a lock of pale blond hair off his forehead. “You never believe anything I say.”
“That’s not true. Besides this is just a little too much- do you really expect me to believe that he turns into a monster at night?”
“Not every night. Just certain nights. I can’t tell if there’s a pattern.”
Sheila shook her head. “Nope. Don’t believe. How would you know this anyway?”
“I saw it happen. I had let him out to stretch his legs. A shaft of moon light hit him and he transformed into this big scary thing. His ears- he still had big bunny ears- they were touching the ceiling. That’s how big he was. And he looked- demented.”
This time Sheila laughed. “Stop it,” she said. “You’re just making it worse. “
Allen became pouty and it made Sheila laugh even more.
“Come on you big goof, give me a hug. I love you even if you do have a weird sense of humour.”
They cuddled on the couch for half a bit and then he wanted to watch a movie on TV. She fell asleep near the middle of the martial arts and bang bang flick and when she opened her eyes again the house was in darkness, and she was shivering and alone. Allen must have gone to bed. She padded to the kitchen to get a drink of water before joining her boyfriend and passed by the room where Bunny Hopwell’s cage was located. The little door was open and the rabbit was nowhere in sight. A long beam of moon light shone in through the window and caressed the green shag carpet.
Sheila shook her hair in an attempt to flick away the thoughts that were bouncing in her head- monster rabbit images.
“Here Bunny- Bunny.” she called softly. She told herself that she didn’t want to wake Allen, but she knew she didn’t really want to see a monster rabbit too. But that was being ridiculous, wasn’t it? Allen was always telling weird stories and this was just another one. Why did she believe this one a little bit?
Determined not to let his teasing get to her she began to look for the missing pet in earnest. She walked down the hallway to the living room and then froze- in the center of the room was a monstrosity- black and white fur covered, with giant brown eyes and big rabbit ears that touched the ceiling. Its arms and legs were tipped with long jagged yellow claws. The thing turned and stared back at her and its eyes began to glow red.
Suddenly she was moving backwards- her legs and feet scrambling all on their own. She smashed into a wall and then threw herself into the bedroom and quickly closed the door.
“Allen! Allen!” It took her a moment to register that he was not in bed, as she’d expected. The bed clothes were askew, like he had been there but the room was completely empty. “No, no!” she shuddered. “He’s out there with that thing!”
Although she was terrified Sheila had always been a stupidly brave woman. She had little concern for her own safety. She knew it was a fault, but she had to do what felt right. And that’s how she felt now. She had to save Allen. A weapon- she needed some kind of weapon to fight the monster off. She grabbed the bed side lamp and ripped its cord from the wall. She tore the lamp shade off and swung the lamp for practice. It would have to do. It might already be too late. She had no doubt that the thing out there would eagerly eat human flesh.
Carefully, quietly, she eased the door open a crack and peered out. There was nothing, no giant rabbit monster, no goofy boyfriend, just the empty hall. Everything as it should be. She took one tentative step onto the hallway carpet. Everything was so silent that she almost puked.
Suddenly there was movement in the darkness ahead of her and she threw the lamp with all her might and cried out because she hadn’t meant to use it as a missile. It was supposed to be a club. Now she was defenseless. She hit her target though because there was a howl of pain and then a dull thud as Allen fell forward and crashed onto the floor, hands to his face.
She rushed to him. “Allen, Allen I’m so sorry. The monster- Bunny Hopwell- you were right- I saw it- he’s evil- I’m sorry I didn’t believe you,” she said everything at once as she dragged him back into the bedroom and closed the door.
He took his hands away from his face and she saw the blood. Her head suddenly spun and she almost passed out.
“I’m so sorry.”
“I think my nose is broken,” he said thickly, pain accompanying every word.
“It’s out there.” She hissed, terror once again taking over. “Bunny Hopwell except it’s not Bunny Hopwell it’s some creature. It’s going to kill us.”
He held one hand to his nose and reached for her arm with his other. “Bunny Hopwell is not dangerous. I don’t know what he’s changed into, but if he’s still my pet he shouldn’t be dangerous either.” He struggled to stand and she helped him.
“Don’t,” she said, pulling on his free hand. “Don’t go out there. Allen, he will kill you. He looks so evil- and those claws.”
“I believe in him,” he said. He removed his hand from his nose, and another dribble of blood raced down to his chin. “I trust him. He has always been a good pet.” He opened the bedroom door.
“If you’re going out there I’m going too.” She held onto the back of his pyjamas as he carefully advanced down the hallway. “Oh my God oh my God oh my God.” She whispered at the back of Allen’s head.
They came to the living room doorway and Sheila screamed so loudly that Allen flinched. In the centre of the room, where Sheila had seen it before, was Bunny Hopwell. But this time he wasn’t a huge yellow clawed monster with ears to the ceiling. He was a small black and white bunny and he looked shocked at the sounds that were coming out of Sheila.
Allen grabbed her in a hug. “Stop! Stop!” he said. “You’ll scare him.”
“I can’t- I can’t oh God,” she shuddered and let go of his pyjama top.
Carefully, slowly, Allen stepped closer to his pet and then reached down and scooped him up in his bloody hands.
“It’s okay Bunny,” he cooed softly.
“Please don’t kill us.” Sheila hissed.
They carried him back to the room where his cage was and put him inside. Sheila closed the room’s curtains and then fetched bath towels and folded them up over the curtain rod as well, so no moon light could sneak inside. The bunny seemed tired and closed its eyes.
They tiptoed out of the room and Allen led his girlfriend to the living room. They sat side by side on the couch.
“That was the most terrifying thing that’s ever happened to me.” Sheila said, still shaking. “What are you going to do with him?”
“I’m going to keep him, of course.” Allen answered, putting his arm around her.
She pulled away, her face upset. “Allen- we don’t know what he’s capable of! He might smash down the walls and go on a murderous rampage. He might kill you and me and anyone he can find.”
“I meant what I said before. I trust him. I’m going to keep him, just as I have always done. It’s not right to kill him and or give him to a lab as scientific curiosity.”
She shook her head in disbelief stood up.
“Sheila.” he said. “If a person or animal is good, they’re not going to kill anyone, even if they transform into something else. They’re still the same being- on the inside. I won’t judge him by how he appears sometimes. I won’t.”
She stared at him, making up her mind. Her head was shaking slightly. “I can’t live with it. It’s too dangerous.”
“He’s not dangerous.”
“You don’t know!”
“I’ve had him since he was a couple weeks old!”
“He’s a rabbit in a cage, and then a giant monster! I am not going to gamble with my life!” she snapped.
“Do you trust me?”
She hesitated, though they both knew what she was going to say.
“I guess I don’t. I’m sorry.”
“Don’t be sorry,” he said sadly. “It’s better to be honest. Better for both of us.”
They remained for a moment like that- him sitting sadly on the couch and she in the middle of the living room staring at him.
“Then, then….” she couldn’t seem to get started.
“Yes.” he said. “Then it’s the end of us.”
She nodded. She knew.
“Will you tell the police, or anyone?” he asked.
“No one would believe me.”
He nodded. She started for the door. He stayed sitting, watching her go.
“I really like you,” he said, although he knew it wasn’t a helpful thing to say at this moment. But somehow he just had to say it.
She was at the end of the hall. She nodded twice. “Good luck with everything.”
“You’re going to need it more than I am.” She opened the door, took one last look at him, and closed it.
The silence was sharp, and he could feel its cutting edge already. He padded to the bathroom and turned on the light to look at his bloody face. His nose wasn’t actually broken, but he had made it look that way. As he watched in the mirror his nose straightened and the swelling and redness disappeared as well as the blood. Just for a moment, he made a third eye appear on his forehead, but he quickly tired of it. Being a shape shifter wasn’t exciting to him anymore. All he really wanted was someone to love.