Happy Halloween everyone! This is a short fanfic I wrote a few days ago; it shouldn't be too scary, but I hope you will like it!
TRICK OR FLAYRAH!
At first, it seemed like any ordinary evening. One could see the sky gradually grow darker, as the sun slowly sank below the horizon. The air was silent, and there did not seem to be anything dangerous in the area.
In the garden at Nuthanger Farm, three rabbits were digging out vegetables. Most leafy greens were long gone; the few remaining vegetables were various roots. The rabbits did not eat a lot of flayrah, instead intending to carry it back to their warren to survive the winter.
-"This was a very successful raid," one of the rabbits said, looking at the pile of flayrah they had gathered. "Well done everyone!"
The other two rabbits smiled, proud to have earned the praise of their leader.
-"At this rate, we will soon have enough for all winter," another rabbit, the largest of the three, replied. "We should go back to the warren now, don't you think Hazel?"
-"You're right, Bigwig," the leader, Hazel, said. "If we gather any more flayrah, we won't be able to carry it all back."
As they hopped away from the garden, however, they realized that something was wrong.
-"Where's Dandelion?" Hazel asked.
-"He was right next to me a moment ago...we have to find him before a cat gets him!"
Leaving the flayrah behind, Hazel and Bigwig dashed through the garden, searching for their friend. While he did not leave any pawprints, they easily tracked him down using his scent. They soon found him hiding behind a haystack, staring at the barn.
-"What is wrong with you?" Bigwig shouted. "Running off without a warning..."
-"Be quiet," Hazel whispered. "Do you want all the cats to hear us?
-"There's something unusual happening," Dandelion said. "Look at the house..."
Hazel and Bigwig turned and stared at the house. They immediately saw what Dandelion was referring to. The walls were covered with cobwebs that moved in the wind. Several bats were hanging from the roof, flapping violently against the wall as if they were dead. Moments later, the farmer walked out of the barn pushing a wheelbarrow. Inside, there was a huge pumpkin, but it had a hideous face carved into it, with light shining out of the openings. The farmer looked at his house and, smiling happily, offloaded the pumpkin. While none of the rabbits understood what was happening, what they saw was alarming.
-"Run!" Bigwig ordered.
Hazel, Bigwig and Dandelion made their way to the top of Watership Down. In their haste to leave the farm, they had left all their flayrah behind. The raid, which Hazel had previously called "very successful", instead turned out to be a failure.
By the time they reached the warren at the top, it was fu Inlé. Most of the rabbits had already retreated underground for the night; only a few were outside for a late silflay. Among them was a rather large doe, with shiny fur. She hopped over to Hazel, and the two exchanged a loving nuzzle.
-"How did the raid go?" she asked.
-"Not very well, Hyzenthlay," he replied. "As you can see, we didn't bring anything back. The farm is currently more dangerous than usual, so we probably won't be going back anytime soon."
-"But if we can't go to to Nuthanger Farm to gather our winter supplies, where will we go? There are no other farms nearby."
-"I don't know yet. We will have to think about it, but I'm rather tired at the moment. Shall we go underground?"
The news worried Hyzenthlay, especially since very little flayrah had already been gathered. Unfortunately, she ignored why the farm was "more dangerous than usual", and with Hazel as tired as he was, she would probably have to wait until morning to find out more.
Fiver was quietly hopping over to the burrow the two Chief Rabbits shared. He had overheard the conversation between them after Hazel's return, and was rather worried about him. As he entered the burrow, he gently nudged his brother, waking him up.
-"What is it, Fiver?" he said, half-asleep.
-"What's wrong with Nuthanger Farm? It's unlike you to act like you did earlier, and even Bigwig seemed afraid."
-"The place almost looks haunted."
And he told Fiver what had happened, before falling silent.
-"What do you make of this?" he said after he had finished.
-"Based on your description, it almost seems like the humans want their house to be like that. But why? Humans are beyond understanding."
-"Do you think I'm going too far by declaring the farm off-limits?"
-"I don't know. I would have to go take a look there for myself."
-"I don't think that would be wise. I'm afraid we'll have to find another farm."
Fiver shook his head, slightly disappointed at the way things had unfolded.
-"I guess I'll be going back to my burrow," he said. "Good night Hazel."
-"Good night Fiver."
With that, Hazel lied back down, pressed tightly against Hyzenthlay. The doe was merely pretending to be asleep, and had overheard the entire conversation. She was rather annoyed at how Hazel sometimes acted in an overly-protective way. A plan formed into her mind; she would put it in motion at morning silflay.
The next afternoon, in a wooded area near Watership Down, a small group of rabbits were assembled. Hyzenthlay had invited Thethuthinnang, Blackavar and Blackberry to the meeting. As she told Fiver, however, she learned that he had had the same idea, and had already told Vilthuril, Clover and Pipkin. As a result, a total of eight rabbits were present.
The meeting started with Fiver and Hyzenthlay doing their best to explain the situation at Nuthanger Farm.
-"And, as you all know, there are no other farms nearby," Fiver said.
-"Unless we find a solution, we may run out of flayrah for the winter, and some of us might stop running," Hyzenthlay added.
The rabbits started whispering, trying to think of possible solutions.
-"If there was light coming out of the pumpkin, it might be poisoned," Thethuthinnang said, with Blackavar nodding in agreement.
-"But if those cobwebs were moving like that in the wind, they aren't very stable, so the spiders must have abandoned them," Blackberry added.
-"Still, if they were that big, I would hate to think of the size of the spiders that made them." Pipkin shuddered at the thought of meeting a giant arachnid.
-"What baffles me the most are those bats. Just what are they doing there?" Vilthuril asked.
-"I remember something like that happening once when I was living at Nuthanger Farm," Clover said. "The humans put the cobwebs on their house and nailed the bats there. Why, I have no idea. But there are no giant spiders."
-"What about the poisoned pumpkin?" Thethuthinnang asked.
-"It isn't really poisoned. Last fall they fed me a few pieces of it. It tasted nasty, but it clearly wasn't poisoned since, as you can all see, I'm still alive."
-"It's good nobody will die from eating that pumpkin," Blackberry interjected, "but why would the humans put all this nasty stuff on their home?"
-"Why do humans do anything?" Hyzenthlay replied.
-"Now that I know that the farm is not really more dangerous than unusual," Pipkin said, "why don't we go take a look over there and gather some flayrah?"
-"That would be a good idea," Fiver said. "Do we tell Hazel or not?"
-"No." Thethuthinnang winked. "We'll surprise him."
-"When do we go, then?" Hyzenthlay said.
-"How about tonight?" Blackberry suggested. "If we do it during the day, there will probably be many humans lurking around."
-"Do we all go?" Vilthuril asked. "This is a large group for a raid."
-"The more of us are present, the more flayrah we can carry back to the warren," Hyzenthlay explained. "And with last night's raid not bringing anything, we need the extra flayrah."
Fiver and Vilthuril hopped outside, intending to have a quick silflay before the departure. The raiders had arranged to meet at the bottom of the Down at sunset, but it was extremely foggy, rendering the sun nearly invisible. There was no way for anyone to find out when sunset would occur. They therefore decided to go to the meeting place as soon as possible, so they wouldn't keep the others waiting.
The two rabbits did not have any problems finding their way to the bottom in the fog: they had travelled along that path many times since their arrival at Watership Down. As they arrived, however, they could smell the presence of several other rabbits.
-"Are we late?" Vilthuril asked.
-"No, don't worry," Hyzenthlay answered. "Most of us are early. But now that you two are here, only Blackavar is missing and we will be ready to go."
The rabbits waited for a while, but this time was not entirely wasted: they nibbled the grass and played bob-stones. Finally, Blackavar arrived, apologizing for being late: Bigwig had taken him on patrol. Now that everyone was present, they set out on their journey.
At Nuthanger Farm, the pile of flayrah Hazel and the others had gathered was nowhere to be found; the rabbits would have to gather some more. Other than that, the farm had hardly changed since the previous evening, although the fog prevented the rabbits from seeing very well. A few weird noises could be faintly heard, but the rabbits ignored them, instead pulling various vegetables out of the ground. Pipkin, however, let his curiosity get the better of him, and hopped closer to the farmhouse. He soon came face to face with the giant pumpkin; a bright light was shining through the openings, and comfortable warmth was radiating around it.
Pipkin seemed to go into a trance at the sight of the pumpkin, until suddenly he was tackled by another creature. He looked back at her; it was Thethuthinnang.
-"Please don't stray too far from the rest of us," she said. "If we have to leave in a hurry, we will have to waste precious time searching for you."
-"I'm sorry." Pipkin bent down in guilt, before his ears picked up an unusual noise. "What's that?"
-"I don't know..." Thethuthinnang raised her ears. "It sounds like footsteps. Human footsteps. We better get back to the others."
Unfortunately, the fog prevented the rabbits from seeing where they were going. Instead of returning to the garden, they bolted straight towards the farmhouse.
Pipkin and Thethuthinnang were not the only rabbits to hear the footsteps. Hyzenthlay, also realizing the humans' presence, stamped; everyone bolted into a nearby bush.
-"Some of us are missing," Blackberry immediately realized.
-"We have to go find them," Fiver replied.
-"But the humans..." Clover interjected.
-"Humans or no humans, we still have to find them. Let's go," Hyzenthlay decided.
The rabbits slowly hopped out of the bushes, and followed the scent of the two missing rabbits. Suddenly, they spotted the humans: a group of four trick-or-treaters following the path to the farmhouse. One was dressed as a vampire, and another as a zombie. The third one was a ghost (really just a white drape with two holes for the eyes), and the fourth, the only adult, was not wearing a costume. The fake blood and unnatural shapes on the humans' costumes, along with the creepy sounds they made, did little to reassure the rabbits.
The adult rang the doorbell, and the door was opened. While everyone received their treats, a black cat calmly skipped out of the house, much to the horror of the rabbits. Thankfully, it did not seem interested in hunting at the moment, and soon vanished from sight. Then, the humans left the same way they came.
As the farmer closed the door, a bat fell to the ground. With the humans safely out of the way, Clover carefully stepped closer to it.
-"Be careful!" Blackberry warned. "It might bite you."
-"It wouldn't be the first time." The doe rolled her eyes. "There used to be a few bats living in the barn. I know what I'm doing."
As she was right in front of the bat, she poked it with one of her front paws; it did not move. She repeated this a few times, before coming to a shocking conclusion:
-"It's not a real bat. It LOOKS like one, but it's not. It's just some object humans made."
None of the others could understand why humans would make any such objects, but it did not matter. They were supposed to locate Pipkin and Thethuthinnang, so they continued their search.
Suddenly, a running Pipkin crashed into Fiver.
-"Thethuthinnang needs help!" he called out desperately. "Follow me."
Pipkin led the other rabbits to the side of the farmhouse, where Thethuthinnang was entangled in the cobwebs, her paws not touching the ground. She was squirming violently in an attempt at breaking free, but this only made more cobwebs cling onto her.
-"How did that happen?" Hyzenthlay asked in shock.
-"This stupid fog..." the trapped doe mumbled. "By the time I saw the cobwebs I was already stuck."
Hyzenthlay and Blackberry got closer in order to have a better idea how to release her, when suddenly, an echoing sound pierced the air.
-"What's that?" Pipkin asked.
-"Don't worry," Clover said. "Probably some humans pretending to be ghosts. Humans really are crazy, aren't they?"
-"But this doesn't sound like a human," Hyzenthlay interjected. "It sounds like a rabbit."
Looking around, the rabbits could not see anyone else nearby, but the sounds kept getting louder. Suddenly, a pale shape became visible in the fog further away. Thethuthinnang was the first to spot the stranger, and squealed.
-"Is that a ghost?"
-"It's the Black Rabbit of Inlé!"
-"Calm down, everyone," Fiver urged. "I'm sure there is a rational explanation for all this, and I'm going to find it."
Fiver carefully stepped towards the shape, which kept making its ghostly sounds. Suddenly, he felt himself get pushed away.
-"Don't endanger yourself needlessly dear," Vilthuril said. I'm facing this creature myself, whatever it is."
-"I'm not letting you face it alone!" Fiver shouted.
The two mates kept getting closer to the shape, until out of nowhere, Blackberry pounced on it. Pinned to the ground, the creature struggled desperately, but Blackberry firmly held onto it. Fiver and Vilthuril brushed away the cabbage leaf covering its face, and gasped when they saw who it was.
-"Hey everyone," Bluebell said with a smile. "Fancy meeting you here."
-"What are you doing here?" Hyzenthlay said accusingly. "Do you realize how much you scared us all?"
-"But...I was just joking! I overheard your conversation at the bottom of the Down earlier, and I decided to try to trick you."
-"You sure succeeded! But since you're here, perhaps you could help us carry some flayrah back to the Down?"
-"And will someone PLEASE help me?" Thethuthinnang shouted, still helplessly suspended in the cobwebs.
While the rabbits faced several problems at first, the raid was overall successful. Since Nuthanger Farm was in a remote area, very few trick-or-treaters interrupted them. The sudden addition of Bluebell to the raiding party allowed them to bring back even more flayrah than they had first expected. As everyone was about to leave, however, Thethuthinnang noticed something worrying.
At that moment, loud meowing pierced the air. The rabbits ran towards the source of the noise as fast as they could, and soon spotted Blackavar near the barn, fighting the black cat they had seen earlier. While he appeared to be holding his own in the battle, the cat was a strong opponent.
Instantly, Hyzenthlay dashed forwards and crashed into the cat, knocking it into the wall. With the creature temporarily incapacitated, she turned to Blackavar.
-"Are you hurt?"
-"Let's get going then, before it starts chasing us again."
With that, everyone went back to the garden and gathered the flayrah. As they left the farmyard, Thethuthinnang pulled Hyzenthlay aside.
-"That was really brave of you, charging into the cat like you did," she said, softly nuzzling her friend.
Hyzenthlay smiled warmly, and returned the nuzzle.
At Watership Down, Hazel was pacing nervously. Fiver, Hyzenthlay, Blackberry and several other rabbits appeared to have gone missing. It was fu Inlé, and nobody recalled seeing them since mid-afternoon. Could they have gotten lost in the fog?
After a while, Hazel could not stand it any longer. He went underground to find Bigwig and Holly, hoping they would join him on a patrol to find the others. As the three rabbits went above ground, however, they were startled by a sudden sound.
The three rabbits, not knowing what was happening, went tharn. Bigwig and Holly instinctively started to fight, only to realize moments later that they were fighting each other. Hazel bolted, only to come face-to-face with a huge pile of flayrah, with a rabbit sitting on top.
-"I love you Hazel," Fiver said, as he slid down the flayrah. The others soon followed.
-"We just got back from Nuthanger Farm," Hyzenthlay said. "It isn't really that dangerous, as long as you stay away from the cobwebs."
Hazel remained silent for a few moments, slightly annoyed: the others had needlessly scared him, and disobeyed orders. However, the knowledge that everyone was alive and safe, along with Fiver's words, soon made him forget. He got back up and tightly hugged his brother.
-"I love you too Fiver."
I wish to thank the following people for inspiration: Acacia Heartstrings, Ashleg, Bright Side, Carnation264, CockatielPony, Darkling Nocturnal, Florapaw, Fox Teen, Marinell Harriman, Hyzenthlay69, Journalist793, Lauz-millz, Leo-rah, MeadowRabbit, Owsalfa, PluggFiretail, Rosie Willowwater, Sharks Potter, Silverweed's Claws, singhcr, Trifolium and Vesper.
Thank you for reading, and please review!