This is prize-fic for Manchester
, who was one of the seven authors to win the Twisted Shorts fic-a-day contest, and who wondered who else may share Anya’s phobia... some of the attendees are from his suggestions, and some are my own ideas.Sound track:
Before reading, I suggest you listen to Rabbit by Chas & Dave.
If nothing else, the title will make a little more sense!
“Dawn, quick, get the sausage rolls out of the oven!”
Anya was in a panic. This was the first time in her very long life that she’d ever tried to organise anything like this. The first group meeting was due to start at seven, and she was still busy preparing the snacks and refreshments. She’d co-opted the slayer’s sister to assist in the preparations in exchange for a night at the movies with Xander. She deemed the risk of the girl succeeding in her unspoken but obvious wish of obtaining orgasms from her fiancée to be negligible; the risk of being pulverised by an angry slayer was too high for him to consider it. It also had the added bonus of enabling her to get Xander out of the apartment for the evening; this just wasn’t something he would understand.
“Chill, Anya, everything is under control,” replied Dawn as she bent down to extract the tray from the oven and then started transferring the rolls onto a serving plate.
“Relax, honey,” said Xander, grabbing one of the sausage rolls as he passed them. “Your bunny people aren’t going to be here for another quarter of an hour.”
Anya whacked him on the arm. “Stop eating the snacks; they aren’t for you. And what if they are early?”
“What if they are. It won’t be the end of the world if one of them sees you preparing the sandwiches. I’m sure they are aware that food doesn’t spontaneously materialize on demand.”
“That’s not the point―” She was interrupted by the sound of the door bell. “Oh my god, they’re here. You two need to get out of here,” she said as she grabbed dawn and started to propel her towards the door.
“All right, Anya,” said Dawn, reaching down to grab her purse as she was pushed past the couch, “I can find my own way to the door.”
Xander meanwhile had opened the door to reveal a small man who looked to be in his early fifties. He was wearing a green woollen pullover on top of a white shirt with a bright red tie and brown trousers.
“Oh, err, hello. Is this the right place for the r-r-rabbit meeting?” Behind Xander, Anya flinched at the world.
“Yes, come in. I’m Xander.”
“Hello, Xander. My name’s Wallace mmpfhh.”
“Hello, Wallace. The young lady with her hand over your mouth is my fiancée, Anya. She’ll be your hostess tonight.”
“No last names, Mr Wallace – this is Bunnies Anonymous, after all. Please take a seat. Xander and Dawn will be getting out of your way, won’t you, Xander.”
“I can tell when I’m not wanted – come on, Dawn. See you later, honey,” he said to Anya as she ushered the pair of them out into the hallway.
“Now, Mr Wallace, can I interest you in a sandwich while we are waiting for the others to arrive?”
“That would be splendid, my dear. Do you have any with cheese?”
A half an hour later and there were seven people seated in a rough circle in Anya’s lounge, eating snack foods and making small-talk. She decided that they had waited long enough for any stragglers. “Okay, I think its time we got started. I’m Anya and I’d like to welcome you all to the inaugural meeting of Bunnies Anonymous. As I’m sure you all know from personal experience, it is hard living with leporiphobia. Other people often find it hard to understand―”
She was interrupted by a cone of green light that shot down into the centre of the circle. Everyone in the room was forced to cover their eyes to protect them from the glare. When the light had subsided, she uncovered her eyes to find a small black humanoid creature about ten inches high who appeared to be dressed as a Roman centurion.
“Hello?” she ventured.
“Greetings, Earth people.”
“E-e-earth people?” said Alice. Alice was the only other woman in the group.
“Yeeaaarrsss. Earth people, as in people of Earth. You are Earth people, aren’t you? I didn’t come to the wrong planet again did I?”
“No, this is Earth,” Wallace ventured cautiously. “Err, where is it you are from, if I may ask?”
“Oh, I’m from Mars. My name’s Marvin. This is the bunny support group, isn’t it?”
“Yes,” said Anya.
“Oh, that’s fabulous. We have much to discuss.” He pulled some kind of ray gun from the waistband of his outfit and fired it at one of the unoccupied seats. A beam of red light shot from the weapon and impacted the chair in another flash of light that had everyone covering their eyes again. When they looked up, the chair had shrunk down to a more suitable size and Marvin was seated upon it.
“Right. Yes. Well. Okay, who would like to go first then?” asked Anya. “How about you, Eddie?”
“If you like. My name’s Eddie, and I’m a private detective. Or at least, I was.” Eddie was a balding man with a little grey hair who must have been in his nineties. “Back in the forties, this big-shot studio executive hired me to follow the girl of one of his big stars – he suspected the broad was cheating and it was causing trouble on set. Only the guy was a ‘toon – Roger Rabbit – you remember him?” Glancing at the sea of blank faces, he continued, “Yeah, I suppose you wouldn’t – you’re all too young, and lets face it, he’s not going to be one of your favourite actors, is he? Anyway, Roger was this cartoon rabbit, and he ended up being framed for the murder of the guy that was doing his wife. When the cops came after him, he went on the run, and who did he run to? Yeah, you guessed it, muggins here. Have you any idea how annoying it is living with a cartoon rabbit?”
“Oh Yeeaaarrsss,” agreed Marvin. “I hate cartoon rabbits. Every time I try and destroy the Earth, that meddlesome rabbit turns up and thwarts me. I hate being thwarted.”
“I’m sorry,” said Wallace, “d-d-did you say, ‘Destroy the Earth’?”
“Yeeaaarrsss, that’s right. It keeps obstructing my view of Venus.”
“Hey,” said Anya, “We’re not here to judge what people may or may not have done in the past. This is a blame-free therapy group. Let’s stay on topic. How did he thwart you, Marvin?”
“He stole my Illudium PU-36 Explosive Space Modulator. And he made me into a yeti’s plaything. ”
“Yes, that sounds like the kind of typical evil behaviour you’d expect from bunnies,” agreed Anya. “What about you, Alice?”
The young lady gathered herself together. “Well, when I was a little girl, I was sitting by the river with my sister. I was getting really bored as she had a book to read and I had nothing to do, but then I saw this white rabbit, and he tricked me into following him. He led me to his rabbit hole, and when we went inside, I fell, and came out in this strange alternate world where everything was different and scary.”
“You know,” said Neo, “I think we met the same rabbit.” The man hadn’t spoken until that point, other than to give his name when he’d first arrived, and he’d refused to remove his long black coat and shades. The menacing look he normally projected was ruined slightly by the Royal Doulton tea cup he held with the two cheese canapés sitting on the saucer. “Ever since visiting that place, I’ve never been one hundred percent sure what reality is.”
Alice looked at the man in hope. She hadn’t really expected the meeting to be of any use, but she’d had nothing better to do. But, maybe – just maybe – here was someone who understood what she’d been through. And he looked kind of cool in those sunglasses. She straightened herself up, and tried to subtly thrust her chest forwards as she smiled at him over the rim of her coffee cup.
“Yes,” said Anya. “It’s a well-known fact that rabbits like to mess with your mind. How about you, Sir Robin? What ills have those vile creatures inflicted upon your life?” She turned to face the man sitting next to her. She was glad that Dawn and Xander had left before the knight had arrived. The last thing the poor girl needed was to be confronted at the door by someone who looked like a refugee from the Knights of Byzantium.
“Well, I was a member of a group called the Knights of the Round Table. We were on the Lord’s quest to seek the most sacred of all relics, the Holy Grail. Our travels had taken us across the length and breadth of England’s green and pleasant lands, and then North, to the Scottish Highlands and the dreaded Cave of Caerbannog. It was there that we met the most terrifying beast ever to grace the surface of God’s Earth: the Beast of Caerbannog.
“We lost three brave men attacking that foul hare. It may have had the appearance of a harmless bunny, but it was a vicious killing machine. In twenty years of knighting, it was the most fearsome creature I’ve ever laid eyes on. To this day, whenever I close my eyes, I see it flying toward me through the air.”
“Oh, my,” said a rapt Alice. “How did you survive?”
“Yes, well, err, I happened to be towards the rear of the group at that moment, and King Arthur gave the order to, err, retreat before it overcame all of us. I’ll never forget the sight of those three bloody corpses lying on the ground.”
There was a moment of silence as everyone considered the fearsome image the knight had conjured. It was broken by Wallace. “I was involved in a horrible accident and I ended up with the personality of a rabbit imprinted onto my mind.”
“You poor thing,” said a shocked Anya. “That must have been dreadful.”
“You see, I was trying an experiment to brainwash the rabbits into not stealing everyone’s vegetables and there was some sort of feedback. I ended up with―”
“Wait,” interrupted Marvin. “You invented a machine that can control the minds of rabbits?”
“Yes, you see they―”
“Oh, that is wonderful. I simply must have it.”
“Hey, back off, mister,” said Anya. “I saw him first.”
“It doesn’t matter – the machine didn’t work properly. Unless you want to have the memories of a rabbit imprinted onto your brain?” They both shuddered at the thought.
“And you, Austin?” asked Anya to the final member of the group.
“Yeah, well right, uh, you see, I’m not meant to be here. This ain’t my bag at all, baby. Killer rabbits and Martian’s trying to blow up the planet? That’s so not my thing.”
“Then why are you here?”
“When it said Bunnies Anonymous on the flyer, I thought it was going to be some sort of groovy party where you get hooked up with a playboy bunny girl – a hot chick in a skimpy costume – no names, just lots of really hot smokin’ wild rumpy pumpy. Girl, you may have a body that’s making my mojo do the mamba, but you lot are all bonkers; stark raving mad; you’re nutters; you’ve got one screw loose and the other one’s fallen out completely. Rabbits? Who the hell is scared of rabbits?”Disclaimer:
Anya was created by Joss Whedon, Wallace by Nick Park, Alice by Lewis Carroll, Marvin the Martian by Chuck Jones, Neo by Andy & Larry Wachowski, Eddie Valiant by Gary K. Wolf, Sir Robin by Monty Python and Austin Powers by Mike Myers. All of them are owned by various corporate entities who are not me.