Category Archives: Rabbit
Can Mr. Sushi rescue Mittens from the clutches of the evil experimenters? Part Two of my story for @katttykitty72, who’s had a bit of a rough time lately, as requested by her friend @kimnmilward. Read Part 1 HERE.
At the other side of the fence he crouched low, and began to clean the dirt from his fur. Fully ten minutes passed before he suddenly sat upright. What on earth was he playing at? There’d be plenty of time for cleanliness later. Right now, Mittens needed him.
The sky was getting dark, violet and rose streaking the western clouds. Mr. Sushi looked around. On this side of the fence were a number of square, concrete buildings. He could not see the van.
He listened. Silence.
He lifted his head and sniffed the air. To the north, the scent of trees, a powdery green smell, and old. To the west, behind him, the hard tang of electricity coursing through metal; the fence he had just crossed. South-east, down a shallow slope, he could smell filthy oil and hot smoke, as from a dirty exhaust. He slinked that way, keeping low, and crept through a narrow gap between two of the buildings.
At the far end was the dirty white van, its rear doors wide open, parked by a building across a wide street. The building’s doors were also open. Mr. Sushi dashed across the open space and through the doors.
A long corridor, lit by harsh fluorescent light, ran straight ahead of him. Doors were set in both sides every few yards. There was no-one in sight. Mittens had to be behind one of those doors.
The first two on each side were closed, and he was unable to push them open. The handles were the pull down sort, but would not shift when he leapt up and swung from them, as he did at home.
The third door was ajar, and he flowed silently through. It was dark inside, but a tiny green power light in one corner was enough to help him see cages. Lots of cages. Inside them were rats, lizards, monkeys, rabbits, dogs – but no cats. He felt for the poor trapped creasture, a little, but they were not Mittens. He left and moved to the next door. Voices came from inside.
“Hold the little sod down, will you?”
“Those claws are sharp!”
“That’s why you’ve got the gloves, you wimp. Just hold it still while I get the needle in.”
Mr. Sushi pushed into the room. A dazzling light made everything inside appear sharp and hard. More cages, glistening tubes and jars, and a heavy metal table in the centre of the room. Mr. Sushi sprang to a nearby stool, then up to a shelf on the wall, so that he could see what was happening.
Two men stood at the table. One, the shaven-headed man he had seen throw the sack into the dirty white van, wore a thick pair of gauntlets to hold a struggling Mittens to the hard metal surface. The other man, who wore a long brown coat, pushed a small disc of metal into the top of Mittens’ head. It had wires coming from it. The man in the brown coat flicked a switch on a box at the other end of the wires, and Mittens went limp. Her eyes remained open, though unfocussed and dull.
“You can let go now,” Brown Coat said, and picked up a glittering knife. The other man took off his gauntlets.
“What’s that thing in its head?” he said.
“My own device,” Brown Coat said proudly. “There are nine thin electrodes now in the cat’s brain, each of them destroying certain mental links and creating others. My hope is that they can even effect physical repair of wounded tissue; that’s what I’m about to test. If I peel this cat’s eyeball, my device should manage to mend the damage.”
“Ugh, really? That’s … twisted.”
“Feel free to leave if you’re squeamish, but believe me, it should be fascinating.” Brown Coat lowered the tip of the knife towards Mittens’ unblinking eye.
“I’ll give it to you next time.” The knifepoint touched the eyeball.
“My money.” The shaven-headed man gripped Brown Coat’s arm and pulled it away from Mittens. Brown Coat sighed, and put down the knife.
“It’s in the office,” he said, and left the room, followed by the shaven-headed man.
Mr. Sushi had to act fast. He flung himself to the floor and leapt onto the table. He licked Mittens’ head. “Are you OK? Come on, I don’t think we don’t have long.”
She did not even twitch. She did not seem to have even noticed he was there. He followed the wires from the device in her head, and pushed the same switch as Brown Coat had earlier.
“Argh!” exclaimed Mittens, shaking. “Get it out! Get it out of my head!” Mr. Sushi opened his mouth wide and gripped the small disc in his teeth. It tingled in his mouth, but he heaved it from Mittens’ skull and spat it out. Blood shone on the tiny needles underneath.
“Come on!” he urged, and sprinted to the door. Mittens was on his heels as he jinked through the gap, along the corridor, and out into open air.
“Where are we?” Mittens gasped. “How do we get home?”
“Just follow me,” Mr. Sushi said, wanting to put as big a distance between them and Brown Coat as they could before their escape was discovered. He crossed the street, ran along the gap between buildings, and up into the trees. The sky was dark now, and he worried that he might not be able to find the rabbit’s tunnel, but suddenly realised he was standing by it. He threw himself into the ground, and emerged on the other side of the fence, shaking dirt from his fur.
Behind the wire, Mittens looked doubtfully at the hole in the ground. “I think I’ll just climb over,” she said.
“Can’t,” Mr. Sushi said. “Electrickery.”
“Oh. How on earth did you dig this?”
“I didn’t. A friendly rabbit did.”
“Look, I’ll explain later. Stop faffing and get yourself through, and let’s go home.”
“Yes, you’re right.” Mittens squeezed her eyes shut, and joined him on the other side of the fence. “Yes,” she said. “Let’s get home.”
“Where have you two buggers been?” The Woman said as they entered the kitchen. “You hungry? Got some lovely fish for you. They were throwing it out at the market, but you’ll love it, I’m sure.”
Mr. Sushi rushed to the bowl. He was starving after his exertions, and he knew that Mittens would not object. She hated fish, after all. He glanced up at his friend. Mittens was frowning at him. She fixed her eyes on his. They glowed unnaturally, as if lit by an amber light inside her head. Mr. Sushi suddenly realised that he was moving away from the food bowl, despite having no desire to do so. He tried to resist, but his legs were not his to command. Mittens moved in front of him and thrust her face into the fishy mess, gobbling it up. Mr. Sushi stared at her, unable to move, aghast.
“My god, what have they done to you?”
“I’m inscrutable,” said Mr. Sushi. “You cannot scrute me.”
“Rubbish, I’m scruting you now,” Mittens said.
“Pfft,” the black and white cat countered, rather wittily he thought. “What am I thinking then, smart arse?”
“You’re thinking,” said the tabby, “that we should go and make pathetic noises at The Woman, and maybe she’ll give us treats.”
“Um. Well, yes. Then maybe you can scrute me, but no-one else can, ‘kay?” Mittens looked at him smugly. “Come on, then,” he harumphed, pouring himself from the mossy wall like liquid fur. Mittens followed, and the two cats sauntered single-file through the sunflecked midgeclouds towards home. The air was silent but for the unending chuckle of the slow river beyond the wall. Butterflies flitted, fat bees bumbled, and wood pigeons chanted their poodly-poo when they felt the urge. A skylark rose into the arch of the sky, trilling and warbling with the sheer joy of life.
“Good eating, skylark,” Mr. Sushi said. “Tasty. Ever had it?” Behind him, Mittens stayed silent. “I hope The Woman gives us some of that chicken-flavoured yoghurt stuff,” he continued, “it’s way better than that fishy rubbish. I don’t know why she persists. I mean, you never eat fish, do you? Still, more for me.” He spat out a midge. “I’ve never known a cat not like fish. Yes, it’s horrible, but it is food. Why don’t you like fish?” Silence. “Mittens?”
He turned, but Mittens was no longer to be seen. What was to be seen was a shaven-headed man gripping tightly the neck of a rough sack, a sack that writhed and shook as something inside struggled desperately. The man threw it with some force into the back of a small van, the side of which bore the legend ‘EXPERIMENTS 4U’.
The man slammed the rear van door and climbed into the driver’s seat. The engine gargled, started, coughed, and stopped again as a black cloud belched from the exhaust to foul the sweet air.
“Mittens!” cried Mr. Sushi. He launched himself towards the van. The engine roared once more as he closed the gap, and the van moved. He threw himself up and hit the side of the van running, as it began to gain speed. His upward momentum proved just enough to allow him to run up the side of the van and make it to the roof. As the vehicle accelerated, Mr. Sushi’s paws began to slip on the rusty metal. One sharp turn and he would be flung off.
He desperately clawed his way towards a long, thin piece of metal that projected from the top of the windscreen. Hooking his claws around it, he hung on frantically as the van roared up and down hills, and careered around sharp bends.
The terrifying ride continued for what felt like hours, but eventually the van turned down a narrow lane lined with thick hedgerows. He was thrown around, battered by wind, and his legs felt drained of all strength. He could hold on no longer, and his claws slipped, just as the van screeched to a halt before a high gate in a tall metal wire fence.
Mr. Sushi flew through the air and crashed into the bushes by the road. A man in a uniform stood by the gate. He stared at the hole Mr. Sushi had made in the foliage.
“What was that?” he asked the driver, who stuck his head out of the window.
“What was what?”
“I thought … oh never mind. Go on through.”
Mr. Sushi crouched in the bushes and watched the guard open the gate. The van rumbled to the other side of the fence and disappeared behind a brick building. The gate closed again. The cat inspected the high metal fence. He had to reach the other side. The barrier was high, but he was sure he could make it over, if he hit the fence with enough speed. He tensed and waggled his bottom, ready to throw himself forward and upward.
The small voice at his side made him jump. He tensed. A small rabbit, entirely unthreatening, emerged from the undergrowth. Mr. Sushi relaxed. “Go away,” he hissed.
“I’ve dug a short tunnel for you under the fence,” the rabbit continued, surprisingly unfazed by the cat’s fiercest hiss. Astonishingly, it spoke to him perfectly in cat language. “Kizzy said you’d need a way under.”
“You’re Kizzy, are you?”
“No, I’m Cuetip. Kizzy is … well, it’s complicated. She’s my friend. She knows things. She told me to wait here and help a cat to the other side of the fence. So …” the rabbit gestured to a hole in the ground, “… tunnel.”
“You’re bonkers in the nut, you are. I don’t need your pokey tunnel. Watch this and be impressed, furball. I’m going up and over.”
“Good luck with that, Kizzy says. The fence is full of—”
Mr. Sushi sped toward the fence, a blur, and leapt high. As soon as his feet touched the metal he was flung backwards to sprawl in the dirt. He felt as though he had been kicked.
The cat glared at the little rabbit. Slowly, he sat up and began to wash himself, to give himself time to think. “What’s your name again, rabbit?” he said.
“And who’s Kizzy?”
The rabbit took a deep breath. “A dead cat who lives on in my mind and gets messages from Bast, who’s a goddess or something, and she knows lots of things and we help people.”
“That makes no sense at all.”
“I know. Nevertheless,” the rabbit said, indicating the hole once more, “tunnel.”
Mr. Sushi sighed. This creature thoroughly confused him. He was loathe to accept help from a rabbit that spouted gibberish, but also he had no idea how else he might follow Mittens.
“Oh alright,” he said. “Lead the way.”
“You have to go alone. Something about you being the hero of this story, not us. Kizzy says we are simply …” The rabbit cocked its head, as if listening. “D … dayus ex m … oh, something I can’t pronounce. Good luck, though!” The creature turned and his furry bottom disappeared into the bushes.
“Wait, I … oh,” Mr. Sushi sighed. The rabbit was gone. He examined the unappealing hole in the dirt by the fence. Cats were not deigned to be underground. That was all kinds of wrong. On the other hand, Mittens was in trouble. Perhaps … perhaps if he thought of the hole as a cardboard box or, better yet, the opening of a nice, rustly paper bag. Yes, that might work. Before he could think too much about it, he threw himself head-first into the hole and snaked through.
Part 2 will appear next week sometime. To discover more about Cuetip, read my book “Warren Peace”. I had no plans for him to appear in this story – indeed, I hadn’t thought of him at all until he unexpectedly popped his head out of the bushes at the end of my pen.
Spurred on by my desire to move away from Lulu’s ridiculous P&P charges for people buying my paperbacks, I’ve been re-editing Warren Peace prior to moving it to a new home. I’ve been amazed at how much there is to change. When I first wrote it I thought it pretty good (and 100% of reviewers clearly agreed, giving 4- and 5-star ratings), but I’ve learned so much in the ten years since I wrote it that I shudder to look at it with my now-wizened author-eyes.
The punctuation is Naff City, baby. That’s the first thing to clear up. Also, the pacing at times lags woefully, becoming leisurely when it should be frantic: I’ll be fixing all that too, while removing a few clichés and instances of head-hopping.
What might interest you most, though, is that I’ll be writing the long-planned sequel, Bunny Prince Charlie, and publishing it NOT as a standalone book, but as an extension of the re-edited version of the original novel. Is this a good idea? Who can say, but it makes sense to wombats.
Oh, and the image there is not the final cover. That will be a LOT snazzier.
On #InternationalCatDay, here are three of the feline heroes from Warren Peace.
There aren’t only dogs up at Bleakholt. It is home also to rabbits, pot-bellied pigs, goats, horses, donkeys and a large number of cats – we got our own Buffy and Midge there about a decade ago.It’s a fun place to wander around. Now that I know the staff, and am getting to know the different dogs, it feels a comfy place, too. “Hello Pudding!” I call merrily as I pass his pen. I’ve started to be trusted to put the dogs away safely, and fetch the ones that know me. Now all I need to do is persuade them – the staff, not the dogs – to call me ‘Wombie’ rather than ‘Mike’. Not sure I’ll manage that.
Anyway, here are the pooches that I walked today. Normally, I try to make their walks last about half an hour, the recommended time, but I’m afraid that if I really like a dog, I’ll often go beyond that. I went beyond that with TODD here, as I really enjoyed our walk. Gorgeous collie (much more handsome than my quick snap suggests), lovely movement, and really responsive. After about twenty minutes, when he’d relaxed with me, I tried doing some close control work with him. He was brilliant, walking to heel well. I might look more into TODD’s background – if he’s happy with cats I might just think about whether I want to take things further.
(Of course, we have a Scottish holiday coming up, and I was intending to wait until after that, rather than dragging a new dog on the long drive north). This Sharpei (is that right?) is SAFFRON. She shares a run with Todd, but is as nervy as he is outgoing. She was timid, nervous of even the wind in the trees. I was talking about her with one of the other walkers who said that she had slipped out of her grasp, and had run straight back to her run at Bleakholt, luckily. I did like her curly tail, though.
(I wonder whether Bleakholt would be able to put a dog up for a week for us if we were interested in Todd? Probably not, since they rarely have any space. Something else to think about, though). Anyway, here’s LITTLE KIA (cos there’s a BIG KIA at Bleakholt, too) – she hated the rain, and kept trying to out-stubborn me and return to a place with a roof. I wasn’t having that, though, and persuaded her that she had to do what I wanted. Adie, at Bleakholt, told me that she came back from a walk once covered in stinky stinky fox poo. He ran a hose at low pressure to wash her off, but as soon as the water touched her she went monkeybonkers and sprinted for cover. Wuss.
(Yeah, I’ll find out about Todd versus Cats first. If he won’t wear them, there’s no point in continuing). Right, here’s the last dog that I walked today. You met him yesterday, of course. It’s that cheekie chappie of a Staffie, PUDDING. We had a good long wander. He keeps checking that you’re still there, glancing back to make sure aliens haven’t taken over the lead or something. He had a good old bark at some grass that startled him cos he walked into it with his head down. Idiot. Trust him to lick his face just as I* took his photo.
I’ll be walking more dogs tomorrow morning, and I’ll carry on blogging about them, since these posts have been getting such a positive response. I really should post about my writing again soon, though.
In case you were away, let me just tell you that I made Warren Peace available on Kindle free of charge for three days around my birthday, the aim being to increase readership and get my name as an author more widely known. This is what happened. (Let me first say that I adore those of you who went and bought a copy of the book earlier. You are true fans and supporters and I want to have your babies).
OK, my overall impression of the free promotion? Vague disappointment mixed with delight at my Twitter family. Over the three days that the book was free I bombarded Twitter, Facebook, G+ and Goodreads with (as I thought) varied and amusing reminders. I was given sterling help in publicising the offer by many followers, which warmed my heart, and for which they have my undying thanks. Chief among these, and deserving of particular mention, is @MrsAshborosCat who never stopped working in Cuetip’s cause. I also received greatly appreciated assistance from more high profile followers, such as Nicky Campbell, Sharon Corr, Steve Baxter and Norman Lovett. These lovely people hare followed by tens of thousands – their pimping could only increase uptake significantly, surely.
Despite all of the above, however, downloads remained comparatively low. I can only conclude that the general public don’t like either rabbits or punning titles. Perhaps too everyone thought the book was a Watership Down rip-off – an easy mistake to make. I suppose I might also conclude that I design crap covers. On top of all that, I did make a few mistakes during the weekend, such as failing to ask some folk who I’m sure would have helped, and being in an unaccountably bad mood on Saturday night. Maybe my gin had gone off.
In the end I was disappointed that the take-up didn’t get close to a thousand, with roughly 900 free copies downloaded. Most of these were in the UK, with a fair wodge in the US. Four German and two Japanese stalwarts also added to the total, bless them. Don’t for a second think that I don’t love those 900 people of taste with all my heart, and clasp them metaphorically to my bosom.
A further wish of mine was that at least the book might briefly poke its nose into the Top 100 Free Downloads chart on Amazon, and it got mighty close to that, reaching a high of #104. Mind you, it did climb to Number Two in the “Action & Adventure” category, only kept off the top by a true classic – Treasure Island. There’s a joke there somewhere about the book being a number two.
So, was it worth giving away the Kindle version of Warren Peace? Hell yeah, for all these reasons:
- I did reach new readers and new followers, who are all lovely people.
- I was given immense help by my Twitter family, which warmed my heart.
- I learned a lot from my mistakes for any future event.
- Several more people reviewed the book, all of them very complimentary.
- We had a lot of fun over the three days talking about the book.
- New followers FINALLY took me over my old glass ceiling of 1900, off which number I’d been bouncing for nine months.
I have two more days of Free Promotion available before I drop the book out of KDP Select (and I will do that, so that I can make an ePub copy available) – maybe I’ll offer it as a Christmas present to those who were unconscious this time round. And the next book? I’m thinking of calling it “Sex”. That’ll sell, surely? (I’m not really going to call it that).
Thanks again to everyone who helped.
My new (but ten years in the writing) book should become available for download on Kindle sometime next week. I haven’t finally decided on a title yet either, but you can see a couple of contenders below. It’s got talking animals, but is decidedly not for little kids. Think Magnificent 7 with fur. Here’s your chance to decide what it looks like.
I’ve designed four possible covers, but can’t decide between them. Would you PLEASE help me out here by voting for your favourite or favourites in the Poll box on the right there? I’ll be eternally grateful. Do feel free to comment, too, in the box at the bottom. Here are the possibilities (click on them to see a larger version):
Based on a photograph by my good friend and estimable Twitter stalwart @scyrene, I love the rabbit’s keen eye on this one.
The background is one of my own photographs adapted rather, and the rabbit is a doodle drawn by me when I was bored of proofreading. I enjoy the rabbit gazing off into the unknown.
A bit experimental, this one, with something of a nightmarish quality. An old photo of our pet rabbit filtered to hell and back. Stark reality, scared rabbit, unnerving, oh my ears and whiskers.
Another stunning @scyrene photograph, focused on the eye with a zoomy blur elsewhere. Smaller font, smaller rabbit looking a little bit lost.