How’d you like to spend some time on Bunny Island?” said the bunny at the foot of my bed.
“Bunny Island!” I shouted. “Are you serious?”
“Shh,” the bunny said. “Only you. No one else can know.”
“Is that the place where there’s bunnies, bunnies, and more bunnies, and they’re all friendly and want to hang out?”
“That’s the one! And some poison gas.”
I had just read about Bunny Island on the Internet, which is a real place with a poison gas museum and thousands of tame bunnies who want nothing else except to love you. I was so excited that I had already thrown on some clothes and was outside in the warm night air before I stopped to think about what I was doing.
First of all, Bunny Island is in Japan, while I live in Wisconsin. That we had started our journey by walking didn’t bother me too much, though—I mean, if we did have to walk the whole way, it’d be a long walk, but I figured that if the bunny I was following could talk, then maybe she knew of a magic door nearby, or owned an airplane.
But then I thought about how I was outside in the middle of the night with a talking bunny. I thought about how things weren’t always what they seemed, like when someone tells you that you can earn $91 an hour or lose a ton of weight with this one simple trick.
The bunny was brown with white spots and had large, perky ears. “Come on,” she said as I hesitated. “Bunnies. Cute and cuddly and all that you can stand. A whole island full!”
I found this to be a compelling argument. But, what if I was experiencing a neurologic event? What if the bunny was playing a trick on me?
“What’s your name?” I asked the bunny.
“You can call me, ‘Bunny,’” Bunny said, which was the perfect name for her. Out of the yard and onto the sidewalk I went.
I sort of lived by the highway, and Bunny seemed to be leading me that way. We walked to the end of my street and turned left and kept going until there weren’t any more houses. I got nervous again as we turned onto the service road, but then I thought that maybe that was where her car was parked. A limousine, probably.
Wait: Helicopter stowed discreetly in the trees off of a lonely stretch.
As I followed Bunny down the dark road, I began to wonder if she was some sort of noble bunny maiden or even a princess who would soon reveal her true form and take me for her beau. Maybe I would soon be made Lord of the Bunnies, in which case I’d have my own bunny harem, which would be a lot better than the online dating I had been experimenting with. As I hurried after Bunny, I began sweating a little, and I tried to make out whether she was becoming more humanoid and sexy.
On and on we went, until we reached some buildings I hardly even noticed when I was driving past them in my car. There was an abandoned greenhouse, and I could imagine Dr. Heidegger in there in the shadows, conducting experiments among the feral plants. Then there was an abandoned furniture store, which had a yellow banner on it that said, “EVERYTHING MUST,” and a red one that said, “OUT OF.” Some of the lights were on inside and it looked like plenty of enormous chairs were still available.
The high frequency trading firm after that was lit up so bright you could hear it. I guessed that all of those computers they used must have needed a lot of light to perform their money-making magic, twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week. I wanted to go inside to see how they did it, and to see if I could do it, too. I started drifting up to the doors without really trying. If they were locked, then maybe Bunny would open them for me.
“What are you doing?” she said from a distance. Except for the few people on the highway speeding by in their cars, no one else was around. The air was heavy and damp and her words frothed toward me in the silence.
“Easy money,” I said, sheepishly.
“Would you rather have money or bunnies?”
I kicked at the asphalt in the parking lot.
“Bunnies,” I said, eventually.
“Because if you don’t want to go to Bunny Island, you don’t have to. No one’s forcing you.”
“Bunnies!” I said, but I had lost sight of her. I ran down the road looking left and right, racing to catch up. “Oh no oh no oh no,” I said as I ran. When I finally found her again, she was at the edge of a giant, rank-smelling puddle that stretched all the way from one side of the service road to the other.
It had been a wet and rainy summer. While the highway continued on proudly atop concrete pillars, the service road entered a soggy, low-lying area beneath it. There was an orange sign that read, “DANGER: WATER ON ROAD.” If you wanted to keep going, you were expected to turn around and get on the highway, and then get off again at the next exit.
“Carry me,” Bunny said. “I don’t want to get dirty and wet.”
I wanted very badly to cuddle Bunny just then. I realized I had wanted to cuddle her all along. I didn’t care about a whole island of bunnies if I got to cuddle Bunny. I thought that maybe there was a test coming: choose between Bunny Island and Bunny Bunny. Well, if it came to that, I’d choose Bunny Bunny. Wouldn’t I? I had already nearly failed the Trial of Financial Speculation. It also occurred to me that it was very late, and that they didn’t like it when I called in sick at work.
The moon was darkly reflected in the undulating puddle. I thought again that maybe something fishy was going on. Maybe literally. Maybe Bunny was going to dump me here in the puddle that was Salmon Town. Or Frog City: I thought I could hear a frog somewhere. Then I thought that if it turned out to be one of those wish-granting frogs, then that wouldn’t be so bad, unless I had to French-kiss it, although…
Bunny hopped up to me and nuzzled my leg.
“Don’t you want a preview cuddle?” she said. I reached down and scratched between her gyrating ears. I picked her up and she nuzzled my neck. I walked out into the stuff.
“I hope you like poison gas,” I thought I heard her say.
“What?” I said, already knee-deep in filth.
“Nothing,” Bunny said. “I thought you said something.”
I kept walking. There really was a lot of water on the road. You’d have needed a monster truck to get through it. As the water inched up my thighs, I imagined being sucked down into a giant whirlpool that would leave me dashed on the rocks at the bottom of the sea. My brand-new cell phone was in my pocket, too, and I couldn’t remember if I had paid extra for the waterproof one.
Bunny licked my ear to encourage me, and I trudged onward, sloshing through the water. Eventually, the puddle started to become shallower again.
“Not far now,” Bunny said. She chattered her teeth, which, according to the Internet, is how bunnies purr.
As we walked out of the puddle onto the far shore, I turned to look at Bunny, whom I had held tightly, but gently, to my breast the entire way. After getting an eyeful, I dropped her roughly on the ground.
“What’s the matter?” she said.
What was the matter was Bunny: Her ears were bloody and torn. One of her eyes was an empty socket. Her fur was matted and patchy and maggots were crawling everywhere. The smell I had thought was the puddle was her. Or was it poison gas? I wasn’t sure what poison gas smelled like. Poison? Gas?
“Love me,” Bunny said, but now I was staring at the flashing incisors of a thousand bunny skeletons rushing toward me. I was listening to their claws on the rocky ground.
“Love me,” Bunny said again. She flopped onto her side, exposing her pulsating and decayed organs.
And I did love her, even seeing her as she truly was. She was just a bunny, making the most of her bunny life, and it wasn’t her fault.
I ran back through the water the way I had come. The dead bunny army was right behind me, swimming easily through the sodden crud. I groped and thrashed, trying to take off my shoes and pants to stay ahead of them, but just as I finally freed myself of those encumbrances, a bunny clamped down on my toe. I couldn’t kick it off so I reached down into the muck and grabbed it with both hands and wrenched it off and threw it at the approaching horde. I ran and swam and ran-swam—the whirlpool in the back of my mind and the bunnies in the front of it—until I was out of the water, and then I kept running until I was squinting at the piercing intensity of the high frequency trading firm. I couldn’t hear anything except the incessant droning of its lights, and furtive glances over my shoulder seemed to confirm that the only thing out there on the road was me.
I still had a long way to go. I limped home along the service road, my toe throbbing dully with each step.
When I got there, I realized that not only was my cell phone gone, but my keys were gone, too, sunk down at the bottom of the puddle that marked the border between our own world and Dead Bunny Island. Given the state I had been in when I left the house, I was surprised that I had remembered to lock up, but that’s what I must have done. I didn’t want to spend all night in my underwear on the stoop, so I snuck around the side and peered into my bedroom through the window.
There was my bed. There was my computer. All appeared to be well.
I popped out the screen and clambered inside. I took a shower and then I tried to go to bed, because even though it was very late, I still had to go to work at the same early hour. My toe hurt, and I wondered if it was going to fall off as a reminder of my adventure. The teeth marks were angry and red, which was to be expected after being bitten by an animal, but I couldn’t make up my mind as to whether the rest of the digit looked normal or not. It seemed not just swollen and discolored, but oddly—supernaturally—swollen and discolored, although I might have been imagining it. And was that fur sprouting out from under the nail? Maybe I was imagining that, too.
Somehow, despite my agitation, I fell asleep. I dreamt of lettuce, and of carrots, and of shapely bunny hindquarters, but I was still a ten-toed human when the alarm clock dragged me into morning, and I still am a ten-toed human, to this very day.