(Audience) Too Many Rabbits

The rabbit sets the trap.

It’s a pit with a tiger in it, covered over with leaves, and on top there’s a pile of delicious crack cocaine.

“Kids can’t resist delicious crack cocaine!” the rabbit says.

It hesitates.

“But just in case . . .”

The rabbit adds some sleazy porn to the pile. It flutters there, on the top of the cocaine, one magazine falling sluttily open to an article on international trends in computational linguistics.

Then the rabbit dives behind a rock and hides.

The kids stroll along. You know. The bad kids. The kids that don’t let the rabbit have cereal.

The kids look at the pile of cocaine and pornography.

The leaves stir in the wind.

A tumbleweed blows by.

“Mom!” cries the female kid.

“Agh!” shrieks the male kid.

They’re terrified. Random piles of sex and drugs on top of tiger pits in their backyard are not a part of their reality.

The kids run off and cower.

“Bloody hell,” says the rabbit.

It wanders out. It kicks the cocaine. It loses its balance. It falls into the pit with the tiger, the porn, and a large quantity of drugs.

“Silly rabbit,” the narrator sighs. “Just because the kids oppose you at every turn doesn’t mean they’re degenerate crack addicts!”

The rabbit’s ears make a sad drooping noise.

“I know,” it says.

There’s no way to see into the pit. So there’s no real way to tell what’s happening down there, with the rabbit and the tiger. There’s just some ambiguous noises.

Terrible, ambiguous noises, followed by a stretching silence.

“They’re grrreat!” the tiger says.

. . .

. . . but that was the wrong rabbit, wasn’t it?

realizes Mrs. Schiff.

I mean, this entry is about the Qwik Club, who are eagerly waiting to find out what Sunday’s bonus entry’s going to be about, and your humble narrator is pretty sure that their magical rabbit is the cocoa-licious one and not the cereal-loving rabbit at all.

A rabbit who can change water into wine, or milk into a delicious chocolate beverage.

A rabbit once scourged by thistles in the wind.

17 thoughts on “(Audience) Too Many Rabbits

  1. *lofl*

    (That’s “Lying on the floor, laughing”; there isn’t room at the moment to roll around.)

  2. In the corner, bent over a cup of a delicious chocolate beverage and a dimly glowing screen, melsner berates his computer. ‘(VP (VBG falling) (RB sluttily) (ADJP (JJ open…’ he says. (Computational linguists know how to pronounce parentheses.)
    The computer screen does not change. It continues to display ‘(VP (VBG falling) (RB sluttily)) (VP (VB open)…’
    melsner looks at the computer. He queries probabilities. He changes parameters. He reruns. The sentence still doesn’t parse.
    Melsner makes little whirring noises in the back of his throat to signify ‘extreme annoyance’. He pronounces a quick incantation (they can pronounce incantations, too). He summons up his parsing god.
    ‘The probability of ‘sluttily’ as a modifier for a phrase containing ‘international trends in computational linguistics’ is simply too low to consider’, says the god. ‘I can’t help you.’
    ‘Then you are useless,’ says melsner. ‘You have the ability to understand everything I say to you, and yet, embodied in software, you don’t produce the output I want. Why can’t you work the miracles I require?’
    ‘It’s not my fault,’ says the god. ‘You, after all, are my creator. I exist only after a fashion– not as a moral being in my own right.’
    melsner frowns, looks at his screen again, and recompiles the parser, this time linked against the moral agency package. He runs it.
    ‘crack cocaine?’ it prints. ‘porno? computational linguistics? You shouldn’t be reading this. I refuse to process it!’
    ‘See,’ says the god, grabbing a cup of delicious chocolate and sitting down to enjoy the rest of the performance. ‘Whatever you do, you can’t win.’

  3. A question for our gracious hostess – is it good form to include you (qua author) in Audience reponses? Or would you rather we not?

  4. A question for our gracious hostess – is it good form to include you (qua author) in Audience reponses? Or would you rather we not?

    It’s not inherently bad form, but I reserve the right on behalf of myself and of other posters to be offended if it’s offensive. ^_^


  5. It’s a busy day at Rabbit Dispatch Command. The Magic Industry Convention is going on in Las Vegas, and for every magician pulling a rabbit out of a hat, there has to be a rabbit sent through the magic portal. General Hare looks at the screen, and counts the recruits ready to leap into the fray. It will not be enough, so desperate times call for desperate measures.
    “Open the Brothel!” the General shouts as red lights appear on his screen. Red lights blare into action as Barry White starts playing throughout the base.
    The brothel is magic, for every two rabbits thrown in, you get 4 rabbits out! Soon the red warnings on the screen disappear, as tons of rabbits pour out of the brothel.
    No kid will be disappointed today as General Hare looks in satisfaction over the statues of Rocky and Bullwinkle and the inscription ‘Hey Rocky, watch me pull a rabbit out of my hat!’

  6. The rabbit adds some sleazy porn to the pile. It flutters there, on the top of the cocaine, one magazine falling sluttily open to an article on international trends in computational linguistics.

    This is Bob Guccione’s “P=NPHouse” skin mag then.

    I wonder what the letters column is like…

  7. Reincarnation, a one act play with two characters


    She might just be in a basement. It has that look – cheap folding chairs, a card table, a feeling of constricted space. But gray fog covers where the walls should be, and sometimes the place seems to go on forever.

    Maya sits at the middle chair, writing something briskly. She has a laptop computer on the table before her. She has pencils and papers and glossy-covered books. She has dice.

    “Hi, I heard about the game. Are you running it?”

    Maya looks up. “That’s right,” she says, “It’s an RPG like no other! Have you played much?”

    “No, this is my first time. Is it any good?” The voice sounds a bit embarrassed, conscious of perhaps making a gaffe. “I mean, I’m sure that it’s good. But what will it be like?”

    Maya looks serious, almost cold. “It is the breath of life. It is the taste of bread, the whisper of cloth, the face of a child, the comfort of other players, the wind that blows where it will. And it is death and blood spilled and senile dementia too.” She shrugs. “It’s a strict simulation. No rules lawyering once you start play. Whether you start is up to you.”

    A brief moment of consideration. “Well, it sounds exciting. Sure.”

    Maya smiles, nods, rolls dice. The laptop screen glows and the room is briefly full of colored lights, most of them smoky red. One glows brighter, the rest fade. Maya hands over a character sheet with genetic code filled out. There is a timeless interval.


    An elderly woman sits in the chair across from Maya. She’s dressed in rough clothes, homespun, with gnarled hands and a face that has seen a good deal of weather. “Well…”, she says, “that was … different.” The woman looks down at her hands.

    “It was a good life, I guess. A lot of work, and that dance when I was a girl, and the children growing up. I liked the harvests. And getting old wasn’t so bad.” She smiles. “You did a good job with the leaves.” Maya looks at her steadily. “Leaves are a specialty”, Maya says. For a moment, the corners of her mouth turn up. “Do you want to play again?”

    The old woman is ready, almost eager. “Oh, yes,” she says. “I’d like to do it again.”


    The young man sitting in the seat is crying. Maya silently reaches under the table and brings out a box of tissues, puts one in front of him. He leaves it on the table, covers his face with his hands. “How could you?”, he stammers. “We were going to be married! How could you do it?”

    Maya sighs. “I warned you it was a simulation. Sudden accidents happen.” She looks cool but sympathetic. “If I altered physical law even once, it would cause … contradictions.” She glances at her laptop. “Nine thousand three hundred thirty-three sparrows have fallen, in game time, just since your accident. Should I have saved every one?”

    “I don’t care about the sparrows”, the man says. “I remember that first life now. Couldn’t it be like that again? I thought it would always be like that.”

    Maya shakes her head slowly. “Each one is unrepeatable.” She studies him. “Do you want to play again?”

    The man cries for a while, and Maya waits. Finally, he picks up the tissue, wipes his eyes, looks up. “It will fade, if I stay here, won’t it? I won’t feel the same.”

    “You won’t remember, if you play again,” Maya says. “Don’t do it to look for her. There are billions of players, and your chances of even meeting her aren’t good.”

    “Let me play again,” the man says. “It will be someone.”


    A small child sits on the chair. “No, I don’t want to think about it”, he says as soon as he sees where he is, “I’ll go again.”


    A man in late middle age sits in the chair across from Maya. He leans back, purses his lips thoughtfully. He says nothing, and she waits, while he appears to be thinking back over his memories.

    “It wasn’t bad, this time. I drank a lot, slept in few of the same beds. And read a good deal. That helps, sometimes.”

    “And I thought about why we play. What do you get out of this?” He raises an eyebrow. Maya looks back impassively.

    “And I thought, maybe we’re like rabbits”, the man says. “You know, we breed, and die, and that’s it. And sometimes we make meat and fur for people. Is that what this game is about?”

    Maya shakes her head slowly. “Rabbits are part of the game. But not your part of it.” She thinks a moment, then picks up one of the glossy books from her table. “One of the players wrote this. It’s a short story called ‘Usury’. She reads:

    “We have greatly labored for Yahn, and have gathered griefs in the world, and caused his Lives to shine, and Yahn doeth nought for us. Far better we had stayed where no cares are, floating beyond the Rim.”

    She puts the book down. “But I’m not Yahn, and that’s not why I designed this game. It’s all we have, don’t you see?” She pauses, then seemingly quotes again:

    “You need illusion to get through your day whole.
    You think you hate me but you owe me your soul.”

    She looks up. “You need not play if you don’t want to.” She motions out towards the gray mist.

    The man longs back over his shoulder. “No,” he says thoughtfully, “I’ll think I’ll stay with what I know.”

    The dice rattle softly as they fall.


    An old woman smiles at Maya. She is wearing a saffron robe. Maya looks at her with something odd in the set of her eyes. The woman turns and peers at the fog, then turns back.

    “I think I’ll stay until the other players are done. When we’re all ready to leave, we’ll leave together. After all,” and her smile widens slightly, ”it’s only a game.”

    Maya bows her head.

  8. Wow, Rich. Just…wow.

    I hate to quibble with such a brilliant legend, but I am compelled to do so by international treaty: Doesn’t the smoky red light correspond to the loka of the hungry ghosts?

  9. Thanks, Sparrowhawk and Metal Fatigue.

    The lights are probably best left to reader interpretation, but in part I was thinking about the lights of the Bardo Thodol, the Tibetan Book of the Dead, that the soul is attracted to one of in descending order, and that determine the general circumstances of the start of the next life. There is no specific “smoky red light” in the Bardo Thodol as far as I remember, but there is in Philip K. Dick’s book _Ubik_, which refers to the Bardo Thodol.

  10. Hm, erring on the side of caution, an emergency backup entry!

    Once upon a time, there was a universe, nameless as they usually are. Suffering had filled it, both its own and that of others, and it was overflowing. It wanted to change, it wanted to end the suffering, it wanted to become more than what it was. It tried and it tried, but it couldn’t change its own nature from within, and so it brought forth a girl named Jane to produce change from the outside. But since Jane was merely a creation of the universe, she contained no answers but what were in the universe already. And so she couldn’t change the universe by herself …

    Once upon a time, there was a girl named Jane. Suffering had filled her, both her own and that of others, and she was overflowing. She wanted to change, she wanted to end the suffering, she wanted to become more than what she was. She tried and she tried, but she couldn’t change her own nature from within, and so she brought forth a boy named Martin to produce change from the outside. But since Martin was merely a creation of Jane, he contained no answers but what were in Jane already. And so he couldn’t change Jane by himself …

    Once upon a time, there was a boy named Martin. Suffering had filled him, both his own and that of others, and he was overflowing. He wanted to change, he wanted to end the suffering, he wanted to become more than what he was. He tried and he tried, but he couldn’t change his own nature from within… Except that he did.

    And then he changed Jane.

    And then Jane …

  11. “So in a way,” said Sarah, in the way only a horrifically clever nine year old can. “say that Virgil’s goal was to invert the supreme virtue of Arete into Pietas, thus undermining and transforming the entire religious establishment.”

    “Gee, you’d think the gods woulda been ticked, what with screwing up their religion and all,” said Mandy.

    “The greek gods seem surprisingly unconcerned with religion. Besides, I think they were dead by then.”

    “Gosh, Sarah, you know lots of stuff.”

    “You could say that the Aeneid itself was the founding of Rome, or at least Roman-ness,” she said primly.

    “You could,” chimed in the rabbit cheerily. He had been listening for some time and agreed with nothing save the principle that people could, indeed say wrong things.

    Just then Tommy shrieked, and jumped back from the pile of Hiitherby entries he was kabalistically recombining, and the business of the club stopped. Water froze, half way transmuted into coco.

    “What’s wrong?”

    “This Hitherby breaks the fourth wall!”
    “Let me see that!” demanded Mandy, snatching the paper from him. She scanned it for a few seconds, before assuring Tommy smugly “No it doesn’t, it doesn’t refer to the readers at all, it just refers to –“ she stopped.


    “It refers to us?”

    “How could it refer to us? We’re readers, we’re in, you know, the future!”

    “Lemme see that!”

    “Hey! No, I’m not degenerate! And I barely even like crack!”

    “But it mentions the club by name!”

    There was a general commotion and reading of text, at the end of which, a consensus was reached that Rebecca had, indeed, prophesied the coming of the rabbit, the club, all of it.

    “What else does Hitherby say about us?”

    “ooh oooh! Are there any good prophecies about me in there? I bet I win the lottery. Does it tell me what numbers to choose?” asked Mandy

    “Does that mean we’re not real, no better than poor Ink Catherly? We don’t exist all?” fretted Sarah

    “We can’t, we just can’t! I just played Ink in an audience piece two days ago!”

    “I don’ wannnna end up like Ink!” bawled Mandy

    “Who said anything about going to hell?”

    “Silence!” said the chocolate rabbit—and you could hear crickets and pins dropping in the background. He gathered himself up to address the club with great solemnity, and a copy of The Collected Hitherby in his left hand

    “We have, it seems, an existential crisis!”

    The club waited breathlessly

    “And what do we do, when we have an existential crisis?”

    The club turned a faint shade of blue for lack of breath.

    “We look for meaning!”

    Mandy, who was smallest, keeled over.

    “And how do we look for meaning?”

    Tommy made gagging motions. April was prim, and blue.

    “We read Hitherby and put on audience pieces. There’s more to this than my miraculous chocolate, you know! We’re the Qwik kids club! Now get to it!” said the rabbit, quickly distributing cocoa and a selection of his personal favorite legends. The club dove into them hungrily, hoping to find an answer to their need for meaning in the pages of the text, and the smooth chocolaty taste of Qwik.

    And somewhere in the background, you could hear a faint baby wooshing sounds of a woogly being born. Or perhaps it was merely the sound of the club gasping for breath… and a rabbit wondering if he should avoid the thistle patch on the way home.

  12. I figured if Rebecca was doing backwards-fill, I could do some of my own!

    Kinda a shocker, this one.


    the year is 1999, and jamie and suzie are standing at the edge of the abyss.

    The abyss is wide and a vile wind is blowing up from their crawlspace. A dusty, danky odor that reminds them of rotting apples and the monsters under their bed.

    From behind them comes creaking steps, and both of them are too afraid to turn around. Then they do! It’s Daddy! His smile is like a warm summers day, and for a moment they forget themselves and turn their backs to the void.

    Daddy smiles and hugs them to him, asking “Kids, what are you doing looking downstairs?”

    Suzie steps back and stretches her arms overhead, trying to be as tall as her mother. “Mommy said we could get some ice cream, but I’m scared!”

    Daddy laughs and puts Jamie down, and he runs over and stands by Suzie as the old man’s voice begins to rumble.

    “Kids, don’t you remember what they tought you at sunday school? There’s nothing to be fear from monsters! Your faith will protect you! Remember what to do?”

    They laugh as he whips out his invisible faith gun! Then they do too!

    “Allright! What do your Invisible Faith Guns look like?”

    “Can’t you see it?” Asks Jamie, looking at his IFG in sudden doubt.

    “What? No, how could I? They’re invisible!” laughs his dad, and instantly Jamie’s faith is restored.

    “It’s two Guns! Baretta 9mm!” Jame shouts, mock-firing them into open air.

    “Mine is a double barreled shotgun with authentic leather grip!” says Suzie, suddenly looking far more mature and hardcore.

    “Whats yours daddy?” They ask in unison, though they already knew.

    “A P90!” he also shoots up into the air, making sure not to hit anything. They all laugh.

    “Don’t forget kids, whenever you are afraid of monsters – the lord is there to protect you. Just pull out your Invisible Faith Guns and fire away!”

    The kids laugh and run down the stairs, holding their invisible faith guns. When they get near the bottom of the stairs they slow, slinking against the wall, while behind them their father and mother watches, her light laughter at their father’s silly antics.

    “Are you ready?” Jamie whispers, and Suzie nods. As one they leap out from behind the stairwell, yelling “Bang Bang bang!”

    The mysterious invisible monsters shrunk back into the darkness, as Jamie and Suzy moved into the basement, shooting wildly with their Invisible Faith Guns. “Bang Bang Bang!” as they slipped away, into their old pattern – clearing the basement’s maze of old shelves and cardboard boxes before making their way to the Great Ice Cream Freezer on the other side of the opening.

    “Bang Bang Bang!” Jamie came around a corner, and then something moved in the corner of his eye! He was afraid for a moment, but cought his breath, spun and turned, aiming his Invisible Faith Gun at the invisible demon!


    there was silence, and something slumped to the floor.

    He moved forward into the light, and then, he saw.


  13. thanks.

    What really inspired this was a chat on IRC that brought up some old wounds. So many people have been turned away from Christ because of all the christians who are assholes. Which lead me to thinking about faith and how powerful is is and need the to use it carefully.

    Hitherby wise, it’d be the episode Hard and Cold that you should look at, since its what i thought about before writing this episode.

Leave a Reply