Hey guys, new chapter. Yay! All about Squint this time.
A small brown rabbit strolled through the forest, her crystal blue eyes bright and happy as she hummed merrily. There was a small tug on her arm, and she looked down at her six year old son, who she was leading by the paw. "Mama?"
"Are we almost there?" he looked up at her with big pleading, brown eyes. "My feet hurt."
"Oh…" she swept him off the ground, the four inch tall child squirming.
"Hey! Pumme down! I don' wanna be carried!" he wriggled around, but the attempt was fruitless. She was much bigger than him, almost a full six inches. Eventually he sighed and settled down, knowing she wasn't letting go. She cradled him gently, her beloved one and only child gazing up at her with adoring eyes. He loved her more than anything, he was always either being held by her, on her lap at home, holding her paw, or within a five inch radius of her, always. She was his whole world, he didn't trust anyone else. After all, how could he?
He was constantly picked on by the others kids his age for his differences. Most rabbits were shy and timid and preferred solitude, keeping their thoughts to himself. But not him. He was above and beyond talkative, words always flying a mile a minute. He preferred things adventurous and heart rushing and adrenaline pumping, something that was strongly looked down upon.
He tended to be rambunctious, impulsive and unpredictable, and incredibly hot tempered. It got him in trouble often; he had absolutely no tolerance for anyone giving him a hard time. He couldn't stand it. So what if he liked danger? So what if he enjoyed activities that could very easily result in him becoming seriously injured and/or dead?
He may have been adventure loving and, at times, slightly crazed, but he did still have feelings, feelings that were easily wounded. Every hurtful word they ever said, every time they called him crazy and a menace to everyone, it harmed him emotionally. Behind his tough front, the one everyone saw, the one that wasn't afraid of anything and no amount of hateful words could decrease his confidence, the words stung like poison in his heart and acid in his soul.
The only comfort he ever found was in his unfortunately widowed mother, she was the only one who knew how upset it made him, how much it pierced his secretly sensitive, fragile heart.
She'd often find him moping around in the forest near their home, in the trees he liked to climb, holding back tears. She'd call him down and bring him inside, let him poor out his sorrows to her. She'd tell him it didn't matter, that he shouldn't care; as long as they had each other, they'd be just fine.
It angered her that people picked on her precious, precious son, but there was nothing she could do. She'd asked them politely to stop, and she'd gone to their parents, but it never helped. He tended to stay at home when he wasn't out 'trying to get himself killed', as the locals called it. That earned him the reputation of a mama's boy, which didn't help the constant harassment. But he had less than no tolerance for anyone speaking badly or even remotely un-positively of his mother, so everyone always left her out of it. They'd learned the hard way that if they didn't… well, the results weren't pretty. And they really had nothing against her Julie herself, just her son.
Nobody ever called her that though. Her local nickname was just Sweets, named for her big heart and gentle nature. Being a doctor, she adored helping people in any and every way she could. Despite this, her son always came first. Always. People could call it selfish all they wanted, but her baby came first. Nothing else mattered more than him, not to her. She loved nothing more. Absolutely nothing.
"We're here!" she announced merrily. His eyes lit up and he started squirming again, this time wanting down for an entirely different reason. As soon as his feet hit the dirt, eh tore across the earth and dove straight into the warm pool of water before him. That was another strange thing about him. He loved the water. It was one of his favorite pass times. Although he didn't know how to swim, he loved splashing around in the shallows of the hot springs, while his mother often tried and vain to get him to sit still so she could give him a bath.
"Oh mom…" he complained as she picked him up again, crossing his arms. "I don't need a bath. I just had one yesterday morning!"
"And then spent the rest of the day playing. You need one. Now hold still; you'll get water in your eyes." He knew hot water in the eyes stung, so he shut them tight and sat still.
He sighed irritably. "Fine."
"Good." After he was decently clean, she let him go play, terrorizing the poor freshwater minnows and occasional tadpole that dwelled in the large (to them) pool of steaming water.
After a few hours of Squint wreaking havoc of the pool dwellers and his only parent relaxing in the warm water, the splashing stopped, and she looked over at her child. He was curled up on a pile of seaweed on the shore, eyes half closed. She smiled and rose, shaking off before approaching him. "Looks like someone's getting sleepy." She said softly as he yawned, picking him up and wrapping him up in a leaf towel, drying him off. "Come on baby, it's your nap time."
"But mama." He protested weakly, poorly stifling another yawn. "I'm not tired."
"Of course not baby, of course not." She said, smiling softly as the child snuggled into her chest. Why wouldn't everyone else see the part of him that she saw? The sweet side, the kind, gentle side that cared deeply about that little family he had left. He'd barely known his father for two weeks before he died of dehydration during a severe drought, the scarce water they ever found went straight to his wife and child.
She tried to get him to drink, but he refused. Every last drop went to his family, they mattered more. He wouldn't risk even a single dew drop, not when it could possibly be the last morsel of water they'd ever see. His beloved Julie and Squint needed it more; the baby still nursed at the time, and if his mother became dehydrated, she wouldn't be able to produce milk to feed their son. He wouldn't be able to live with himself if that happened, knowing he'd had the last of the water that could have helped their baby.
By the time they arrived at the small, hand dug cave they lived in, he was fast asleep. She laid him down on his small bed of leaves, kissing his forehead before she covering him with a leaf blanket. Stroking his cheek for a moment, she turned to go, only to have him gab her paw. She turned back. He was staring up at her through sleepy, half closed eyes. "Night mom."
"Goodnight baby. I love you."
He smiled sleepily. "Love you more."
"Love you most." It was a little game they'd made up, going back and forth.
"Love you mostest."
"I love you more than mostest."
"Love you more than more than mostest."
She smiled and shook her head at his playful ways. "I still love you more." She bent down and kissed the top of his head again, smoothing his long ears away from his face. "Sweet dreams Squint."
"Sweet dreams mom…" and his eyes slipped closed. "N' I still love you most…"
Her heart softened even further. But little did she know, it would be the last words she ever heard from him. During the night, while Julie slept, her sensitive ears twitched, her blue eyes slowly opening. She sat up and looked around; what was that sound?
Rising, she silently tiptoed outside, looking around. The night was dark, but her eyes soon adjusted, but all she could see was shadows and vague shapes. The moonlight spilled in gentle beams down around her home.
She glanced around again, seeing nothing out of the- was that bush moving? Sure enough, the 'bush' was slowly rising off the ground, and two glowing orbs appeared. "Oh no…" she backed up slightly, recognizing the vicious canine growl. A coyote. They were well known rabbit hunters.
Swallowing thickly, her eyes darted to their little den door, sealed with a woven mat of grass and leaves to look like a natural patch of vegetation. She took another step back, and the carnivorous canine took a large step forward. Her eyes went back to her home door, knowing there was no escape. Even if she could get back, it would do no good. It would only dig into the hill until it caught her and Squint and- oh no! Her baby, he was still in there! The hunter probably just assumed he was smelling her scent, not more than one. She closed sorrowfully, silently pleading her son's forgiveness for what she was about to do.
She turned and ran, tearing away from the small clearing as fast as she could. The coyote gave a growl and followed. Thanks to her small size, she managed to stay ahead for a little while, weaving in and out of trees, no real destination in mind. Just away from her sleeping son, who would hopefully always remain oblivious to what was about to happen that night. She knew she could only delay the sure result of the chase, but the important thing was keeping alive for as long possible. She needed to get it as far away from her child as she could.
Panting as she swerved around a tree, she could hear the quick skid of paws as it changed direction to follow her. If she could just lead it to the marsh and lead it into the quicksand…
Another howl cut through the air, and she gasped. It was a bit of a distance away, but it would definitely arrive soon. She couldn't evade two at once; coyotes were tricky and sneaky, they'd figure out a way to confuse her, playing with her before having her for a midnight snack.
That was all she was to them. A snack. They wouldn't care that she was a mother, a widowed one at that, with a small child that needed her. They wouldn't care, they'd only laugh cruelly and maybe take her captive, hunt down her child, eat him in front of her, and then take her life. It wasn't fair, but she was willing to make the sacrifice if it meant saving her son.
She tripped over something, she didn't see what, probably a root or a rock, and fell to the ground. She tried to get back up, but her ankle buckled underneath her. She'd treated enough patients to know, it was sprained at best, broken at worst.
She tried in vain to keep moving, but something caught her, pressing against her back. She was turned over and met by the cold, black eyes of the coyote. A deep chuckle emerged from his throat. "Hello there." he greeted darkly. "How'd you like to come over… for dinner?"
"Yeah." another voice agreed, this time a smidge higher, possibly a female. "I'm thinking stew." She circled them, watching her hungrily. "Rabbit stew."
"Isn't it a bit late for you puppies to be out of your den?" she asked sharply. She figured she might as well be bold now, having been timid her whole life. She'd always had a secret temper and was always thinking up witty, sarcastic remarks, but she kept them to herself. She figured now would be the best time to finally give in to that wild side of her, considering she didn't have much time left.
The one who had her pinned chuckled while the other growled. "You got quite a sense of humor for a rabbit, ya know that?" he asked, still laughing slightly. "Too bad we're gonna eat you; we actually might get along."
"I doubt that." She retorted. "I don't hang out with mutt's." this time it was the female who stifled a laugh, while the male snarled and bared his fangs.
"Watch your mouth missy or I'll-"
"Or you'll what?" she demanded teasingly. "You'll what? You're already going to kill me, can't do much worse than that." She flicked his muzzle, considering he was getting a little close. "Now can you?" He huffed indignantly and opened his mouth to reply, but she cut him off. "And hwo're you gonna do that with those teeth? They're filthy; ya take one bite of me and they'll break. When was the last time you brushed?"
By now he was boiling mad. He was being out-insulted by a girl. Not to mention his prey. The female coyote was collapsed on the ground laughing. "Oh so you think this funny?"
"That's why I'm laughing!"
"That's it!" he pounced on her. While the two dogs were rolling around wrestling, she quietly got up and tried to limp away. However, after five feet, the female's eyes landed on her.
"She's getting away!" and she was pounced on at neck breaking speed. And this time, they took no time in attacking her. Her pained screams pierced the night.
-The Next Morning-
Squint stretched and yawned, sitting up. Rubbing his eyes, he blinked his tired brown orbs opened. "Morning mo- mom?!" he exclaimed, jumping out of bed. Where was she? All he found was an empty bed on the other side of the room. He felt the leaves, they were eerily cold. She hadn't been in her bed in a long time, five or six hours, at least. Now he was worried. She always said that if, when she went to gather breakfast and she was late coming back, he'd be able to touch her bed and feel the body heat still contained within it, and he'd know she'd be back soon. But… but then why was it cold?
A cool autumn breeze blew through the door, and he shivered. Their home seemed chillier without her around. Stepping outside, he was surprised to find some kind of tracks he didn't recognize. They were almost shaped like upside down hearts with five circle surrounding the pointy end. And the others… they were Julie's.
Why did it look like she was being chased? Were they playing a midnight game of tag? As ridiculous as that sounded, he knew grown ups did strange, confusing things, so he wouldn't have been all that surprised.
He decided to follow them, with nothing better to do. It was a Saturday, so he didn't have his lessons about survival with the other local children.
He picked a plum as he strolled, breakfast sounded nice.
The tracks went all over the place, around trees and under low branches, through fields of tall grass… until they finally stopped on the wet, mushy banks of the ocean. About five yards from the waters edge, he found a set of footprints, the same heart shaped ones. They were sunk in a little deeper, like they had been running. What he found at the end confused him.
A puddle of strange red liquid. Frowning curiously, he approached cautiously. Was it strawberry juice? He sniffed it, instantly pulling back and huffing in disgust. Whatever it was, it definitely wasn't strawberry juice. Or any kind of juice, for that matter. At least, not that he'd ever seen.
He followed the large tracks up a hill, thinking they might know where his mother was. But unfortunately, the cliff wasn't stable, it had a severe drop off into the ocean. "Hello?" he called. "Is anyone here?"
His voice just echoed around him. "I could really-" crack! The ground underneath him shuddered, and a crack appeared in the ground in front of him. "Ok… that was-" it gave way, and he plummeted, screaming as he fell into the frigid waters. It was a miracle he didn't freeze to death the moment he touched it.
He floated to the surface a moment after, coughing and choking on water. "M-Mama!" he called. "Mommy! Help me!" his head was shoved under, and he gagged on another salty mouthful. "Mom! Help!"
He glanced around fearfully, the salty waves stinging his eyes, looking for any means of flotation. As if some paranormal being were listening, a small piece of ice arrived. Clambering onto it, he collapsed on his side and clasped his arms, shivering, hoping he didn't get hypothermia… whatever that was. His mother had always said if he got too cold he would. Or frostbite. Both sounded pretty bad.
He drifted around for days, and even after he dried, he still felt cold. His heart felt heavy, like a rock. His head spun constantly with questions. What had happened to his only parents. What was going to happen to him?
He laid there, curled up in a miserable ball for days. He lost count after five, the hunger was really getting to him. And he knew better than to drink the ocean water, the salt in it made it poisonous.
The endless days, alone in his thoughts with no one to talk to, made his mind turn bitter. Hadn't his mother really loved him, had she abandoned him? Why had she left? Why did everyone there hate him? Without his mother to talk to, his anger rose further and further each day, welling up inside him with no form of release. It made him jittery and twitchy, constantly moving around on his little ice raft, which was maybe a foot long. Plenty big for a four inch tall bunny, but tiny compared to other creatures.
On the seventh or eighth day, while he was mentally ranting about those accursed bullies, wishing them ill fortune and pain, his teeny ice floe smacked against something.
Another creature looked over the side, a long piece of well sanded wood, capped with a gleaming spiral shell, in paw. She looked about his age, maybe a smidge (meaning six months at the most) older… or younger.
Her long ears hung down against the back of her head. She had violet fur, with the occasional, barely noticeable horizontal gray stripe. She had a strange lift of skin near her waistline, looking similarly placed to those things opossums had… a pouch! That's what it was.
"Oi, uh, Cap'n?" she called over her shoulder, revealing a heavily accented voice, never removing her deep golden eyes from his intense brown ones. "Ya migh' wanna take a looka' this."
Another animal, this time much bigger than the girl, dropped down from the trees above them. He chuckled to himself when he saw him. "And just what do we have here? Little bunny rabbit?" He frowned, offended, but bit his tongue. He turned to the creature. "Raz, are you trying to waste my time?" Squint could tell he was teasing, but the girl obviously could not. She immediately started stammering incomprehensively, looking flustered.
She shrunk back slightly. "N-No Captain, not at all." She stuttered. "I thought you migh' wanna- I jus'… I mean- Ah'm just gonna shuddup now." She closed her mouth and folded her paws against her stomach area, head bowed almost obediently. She was obviously intimidated by him. But not Squint. With all those negative thoughts that had been rampaging through his mind for nearly a week, and were still on the run, nothing could scare him. At least, not at the moment.
Sorry for the kind of drop off ending, but I wasn't sure how to do the confrontation scene. And besides, it was getting a little (ok, alot) long. 3,888 words, not counting the Author's Notes. Hey, I need advice. I already have plots for Silas and Flynn, but I'm in need of others. So PM as to how the other could end up stranded.
Oh, and P.S. Do you think I made Squint seem too soft? I mean, whether he's gonna grow up into a pirate or not, all kids start out sweet and innocent though! See ya!