Someone had summoned her to wreak havoc, death, and destruction upon a…garden?
Staring around with utter bewilderment at her lush surroundings, Anyanka the vengeance demon tried to figure out what exactly had gone wrong. Normally, that fiend dedicated her demonic existence, as she'd done for nearly a millennia, into taking revenge upon straying males worldwide on behalf of scorned women, but every once in a while she undertook other missions of retribution. This usually occurred if these assignments seemed interesting enough to Anyanka, or if the person desiring some manner of harm to their disliked target had fervently wished for this. Such an expressed yearning had now come to pass, and the vengeance demon who'd once been Aud of Sjornjost was beginning to wonder if she should have paid a little bit more attention on just what she'd agreed to before responding to something a few seconds ago.
The sudden surge of bitter envy and resentment from a nearby resident of this locale set in the New York countryside shortly after World War II had been mystically sensed by the once-human woman even through the dimensional barriers separating D'Hoffryn's realm from the mortal world. That outburst of malice had been intensive enough to draw Anyanka to a farmer's desolate pasture at the exact moment for her to hear from this furious man standing there in his barren, ruined plot of land: "I wish their place looked just like mine!"
Murmuring "Wish granted!" from behind the unaware farmer, Anyanka had then transported herself to where she was supposed to complete her newest assignment, only to find herself in an utterly unlike setting from where she'd been a moment earlier.
The demoness was currently standing in the middle of a flourishing green lawn, rolled as smooth and flat as a pool table, and before Anyanka was a magnificent garden filled entirely with verdant plants near their full growth on this late summer day. Numerous thriving vegetables were planted in their tidy rows in the center of the garden, bordered by luxuriant flower beds around the edible plants, and along the sides of the garden itself, numerous mature fruit and nut trees having their branches heavily laden with delicious bounty stood tall and proud.
She was supposed to destroy all this?
For the first time in centuries, an actual twinge of regret flashed through Anyanka's mind. Humans, like she'd once been, deserved every bit of vengeance they received from herself, but the Viking girl of so long ago knew exactly how much work had gone into this garden, to grow the precious food that back then had been the difference between starvation and plenty for her Scandinavian village.
Sighing, Anyanka reminded herself that she had a job to do. Nevertheless, a strong sense of reluctance still laid heavily upon her mind, causing the demoness to glumly stroll nearer the greenery she was about to devastate. As she passed by the vegetables placed in their neat columns, Anyanka absently peered at the various plants, and despite herself, she grew more impressed at every step. Just about all of the food observed sprouting there was in pristine condition, with only the slightest damage from insects to be seen. Little Aud of a thousand years ago would've bragged about this to anyone in her vicinity if she'd ever managed to harvest such a abundant crop.
Though at this moment, Anyanka was too far removed from her former humanity that she missed what the girl she'd once been might have been a trifle suspicious over, in that not a single sign could be observed of the beasts of the air, field, and forest having satisfied their hungers among the garden. No devoured remains of the large ears of corn, no pecking damage to the dangling tomatoes, no dug-up root vegetables. There wasn't even in the bare dirt between the plants a sole animal footprint of claw or paw or hoof.
At that point in her walk, Anyanka had reached the back of the garden, seeing there a little stone statue set up in its own small space. Idly approaching that object to check it out, the demoness now examined a waist-high carved figure of a adult male human dressed in a simple robe and having a sad and kind face below a shaved head save for a ring of hair around the top of his skull. This statue was holding out his arms, hands cupped together. From small pipes running down the figurine's arms under the carved sleeves of the robe, water flowed into the palms of the man's hands and overflowed to placidly drip into the small stone bowl placed on the ground before the statue. Flat slabs of stone encircled the bowl, and placed upon these pieces of rock, directly in front of the statue, were more stone figurines. Though, these sculptures weren't of people, but rather models of various members of the animal kingdom.
Puzzled, Anyanka eyed the odd assortment of creatures there frozen in stone, easily identifying both the domesticated and the wild: mice, a dog and a cat, a mole, a family of deer, a fox, a raccoon, a woodchuck, a pair of pheasants, and a-
Shuddering as she hastily averted her gaze from one particularly horrifying animal, Anyanka was more than happy enough to be distracted by the letters carved onto the stone slab running around the near rim of the water-filled stone bowl. Reading these words was easy enough, resulting in the demoness being told: THERE IS ENOUGH FOR ALL.
A savage snort of sheer cynicism promptly resounded throughout the peaceful garden, as Anyanka instantly sneered at the compassionate statue, to then whirl around and glare at the backyard cultivated with the utmost love and caring. If what she'd just read was in fact true, then her workload of vengeance upon the heartless of humanity would instead be a hundredth of what it normally was! That species which she'd once been a member of had proved over and over to Anyanka how callous people really were, taking whatever they pleased and doing whatever they wanted!
"Enough for all!" spat out the demoness, taking again the form of a veined monster, albeit with the glitter of angry tears in her eyes. "My straying husband Olaf, before I turned him into a troll, he didn't find me enough for him!"
Bestowing a look of absolute contempt upon what she'd previously thought about sparing, Anyanka now swiftly lifted her hands, and she called up all her ire in the summoning of mystical energy from her home dimension. It felt as if this power was swelling inside her raging mind, eager to burst free at any second, until the demoness then cast her spell of rot and wilt upon every single plant in her vicinity. The tainted forces Anyanka commanded streamed invisibly from her directing hands, aimed right at the center of the garden, which should have instantly perished and decayed.
Anyanka stared in absolute shock at the untouched garden, which was at present lazily basking in the afternoon sunlight. It was most certainly not the blasted heath the demoness had just tried to create. Worriedly calling up even more magical energy once again, the patron of scorned women pointed her finger at a particularly succulent watermelon, and as she prepared to strike at that innocent target, a rustling noise abruptly came from behind the demoness.
This female fiend really should have remembered that even the most peaceful places in existence can have their own protections and guardians.
Anyanka now confronted one of the latter, right after instantly spinning around and aiming her finger that was crackling with awesome malevolent energy directly at the thing hopping out from under a bush next to the statue of St. Francis of Assisi, where it had been interestedly watching the newcomer to the garden-
A few moments later, a small, fuzzy creature crouching down flat upon the grass took off his forepaws clasped on the top of his head that this little animal had hastily put there to protect his hearing from that terrified scream. Sitting up on his hindquarters, the brown bunny looked around in utter confusion, the tips of his long, dangling ears brushing against the ground, and his tiny pink nose sniffling and snuffling and snorffling, all to no avail.
He couldn't see, hear, or smell any sign at all of the other person that had just been here in the garden a second ago. It was as if they'd vanished into thin air. The bunny was quite sure that the New Folk, as his family and friends called those tall creatures who'd built this wonderful garden and freely shared the bounty of the land with the neighborhood animals, couldn't do things like that, but he was unquestionably alone here now. After bemusedly wondering about this for another minute, furry shoulders then made a resigned shrug, and deciding to forget all about it, the little hare known as Georgie of Rabbit Hill now hopped over the lawn grass to the garden towards the row of lettuce set aside for rabbits and other animals that liked this particular vegetable.
Picking out a nice, juicy head the equal of any in the other part of the garden reserved for the humans, Georgie happily got to work feeding an empty stomach.
Crunch, crunch, crunch.
Author's Note: Robert Lawson (1892-1957) was a highly acclaimed American illustrator of children's literature, including such works as The Story of Ferdinand the Bull and Mr. Popper's Penguins. Later on in his career, the artist started writing and drawing his own books, which are still among the best ever chosen to be read to children. Rabbit Hill was based on the author's own home in the New York countryside, and in 1945, this book was awarded the Newberry Medal (the highest literary award for American children's literature), and it's still considered a classic. Hope you liked this!