The Rabbits, 507 words (rough draft)
The rabbits were back, digging with a fever around the garden fence. A film of crimson stained the fur around their eyes, nose and mouth. The county would never be able to eradicate MRHD from wild rabbits. Modified Rabbit Haemorrhagic Disease was everywhere. RHD itself had been around for years, often used as way to control booming rabbit populations in the wild. When animal activists put a stop to that the government resorted to other methods—genetic modification.
“Mom! There are rabbits in the yard.” Tessa tore into the kitchen. Terror gleamed in her eyes.
“I know. They’re trying to get into the garden again, but I don’t think they’ll have much luck,” I said.
We both watched the through the blinds of the back door, my daughter clinging to my arm. A flash lit up the yard and a wail, not unlike a fox’s call, pierced our ears. Smoke hovered, like a winter fog, over the bodies of ten rabbits.
“I’ll get the bags,” said Tessa. She returned with two large white bags with medical biohazard warnings on the front. Every home had a set, courtesy of the county.
“Let’s make this quick. There could more of them out there.”
Attacks from infected rabbits were rare, but not unheard of, especially in rural areas. We stood on the deck scanning the tree line for ten minutes before I decided it was safe. Those ten minutes were torture for Tessa, who couldn’t stand still for even one minute. The smell of charred rabbit, drifting up from the yard, didn’t help either.
“Put your mask on.”
“Tessa. Don’t start this now. I’m not going to put up with it today.” Fourteen year olds. I couldn’t blame her angst though, not in today’s world. The masks were not to protect us from the smell of burning rabbits or contagion. They were to protect us from the air around us, air riddled with contaminates.
We began work picking up the carcasses with oversized tongs. Some of the rabbits still twitched from the electricity trapped in their muscles.
I’d finished picking up my half but Tessa didn’t appear to be doing anything.
“I don’t like doing this anymore than you.”
“Mom, shh. I think we need to go inside.”
“You’re not going anywhere till all of these rabbits are in the bag.” I walked around the fence, checking for holes. When I reached Tessa I realized this wasn’t more teenage rebellion. “Tessa, what is it?”
She stood rigid, hands shaking. I traced her eyes to the corner of our property and I too froze. There in the shadows, under the diseased Crab Apple tree, was a coyote. Blood oozed from his nostrils. His chest heaved in violent shudders.
I reached for the handgun at my side. John had been right. My crazy ex-husband had been right. It was only a matter of time before MRHD jumped to another species.
“Tessa, get behind me.”
I raised my Glock, another gift from my ex. The diseased animal charged.
© Amanda Makepeace
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