A legendary bunny preps his troops for a raid on the most notoriously guarded vegetable patch in the world.
“Listen up, you sorry crew of kits! This ain’t your momma’s vegetable raid, so pay attention or you’ll catch the business end of MacGreggor’s hoe in that fluffy butt of yours!
“Operations begin at 0500, half an hour before the old man walks out the door of that rundown heap of thatch he calls a house. Five minutes in, five minutes out gives us exactly twenny minutes—you hear me, Muffins?! TWENNY—to fill those double-extra-large potato sacks you’ve got slung over your miserable backs with anything BUT potatoes. We’re talking lettuce, cabbage, gooseberries, blackberries, carrots, but if you bring any gawdfersaken parsley back to HQ you WILL be on woodchip-clearing duty for the the rest of your hitch!”
A quivering paw in the back row shot up.
“By the great thundering gawds of the sky and sea, seriously, Huggy?! You got something to add? This better be good or it’s another turn in the pellet pit!”
It dropped again.
“That’s what I thought.”
The huge brown buck surveyed the tactical retrieval unit in front of him, then took a huge bite off the end of the carrot he’d been gesturing with and grinned at his men.
“Follow my lead, boys, and that son of a jackalope will never know what hit him—or my name ain’t Sargent Major Peter Rabbit.”
You think it’s a standard B&E gone wrong, except the perp didn’t take anything. Or did he?
“Wait ‘til tomorrow if you want to see the place for
yourself. Forensics just left, so the evidence is headed your way, but the
smell isn’t quite as past as the victim.”
You hang up without saying goodbye. Eight years working
homicide has squeezed all the niceties out of you to make room for other
skills. The kind that catch killers.
Whatever happened here happened quick. Started as a B&E.
Ended in blood. The guy must’ve had bad intel. He didn’t expect to be met at
the door with a bat. You tiptoe around two dotted brown lines into the kitchen
where the victim’s knifeblock turned against him. Struggle over, the perp’s
trail heads right past a couple grand in electronics and doodads and out the fire
escape window. Pretty straightforward.
What you can’t get out of your head is why. What was this
guy after that he’d kill for, then leave without? Seems pointless.
Your heart shrivels up and drops into your colon.
Unless whatever it was was on the victim.
Unless those wounds were intentional.
Unless this wasn’t a break-in gone wrong.
You close your eyes and replay the crime. You open your eyes.
You open them again.
The third trail accuses you with its brightness. The glittering
blue of a severed magical soul slides from the door to the kitchen, skips a few
feet, then bleeds over the windowsill. You don’t know why you didn’t turn on
your second sight right away. Overconfident.
You follow the trail to the fire escape, down the alley,
into the bustling city beyond where it pools and disappears at the curb.
You stare down 59th Street headed towards the
goblin farmer’s market. A thin smile creases your face. It’s been a while since
you’ve been Down-Downtown.
Sometimes. it’s too late to get to safety. Sometimes, all you can do is watch.
It was the sound that finally got her attention. The swaying
of the lavender as she harvested the dewy stalks didn’t register as suspicious;
the light changed too gradually to notice; and by the time she heard the freight
train thunder over the music in her headphones, she was too far out in the
field to make it anywhere near safety.
Her basket slid off her back and spilled onto the ground as
she turned to see a funnel of grim fury whipping itself toward the barn. Toward
the house. Toward her.
She watched boards explode into splinters that disappeared into tangible wind. A table leg flew past her head so close the whistle surpassed the roar. But she didn’t flinch. She just stood and watched, hands held low to let the flowers caress her fingertips.
It was the scent of lavender that finally overwhelmed her. Billions
of petals saturated the air with soothing perfume to muzzle the bite of
petrichor and churned earth, the haze of purple confetti buffeting her suddenly
light body until it simply floated away.