Sample Chapter: Prologue
Bunnies in Space novel – created by Nick Dupree
provided for sample purposes
Jenny looked up at the silhouette framed by the smoked-glass upper half of their front door. An unmistakable “V” shaped shadow, bunny ears over a feminine head. “Maaaaaa! Rabbit at the door again,” Jenny said, her eyes already back on her tablet screen, pages from a novel scrolling on her lap.
Jenny’s mom stomped out of the kitchen. First the Mormons, then holo-projected Jehovah’s Witnesses, now the rabbit, again after appearing yesterday. Jenny’s mom opened the front door, shifting the V-shadow to the outside wall and revealing a large, bipedal, female rabbit holding out a brochure.
“Why are you back, rabbit?”
“Just want to help. The mission of the Empathic Corps is to—“
“Get off my lawn, rabbit!”
The front door still vibrating, Jenny’s mom stomped back into the kitchen to continue working on her console. “Mutants…not meant to be…“
Jenny, 12 years old, had barely looked up. Her eyes were fixed upon the digital novel’s sentences. Her mom soon goggled-in, returned to fixation on the world of internet commodity trading, price numbers fluctuating, the numbers’ display formed by the countless ones and zeroes being sequenced unseen, like unseen grains of sand forming a sand castle. And beside Jenny on the couch was her brother Jeremy, supposedly “autistic” and two years older than her. His eyes were fixed too, but he didn’t know how to make sounds others would understand as explanations of what he’d seen. They were in the suburbia of suspended animation that had become increasingly common over the course of the 21st century, especially in North America.
Garmella hesitated at the closed door, then leaned over and placed the Empathic Corps brochure on the doormat. She checked her appearance briefly in the door’s glass: tall, elegant ears, light brown fur, all neatly covered in a cotton sari. Then she turned and strode down the walkway splitting the lawn with careful grace. This house had been the second that day where she’d been told to “get off the lawn,” though in neither case had she stepped foot on the grass involved. Garmella figured it was another strange human idiom, “lawn” inexplicably used to indicate the entirety of the property. She, like most bunnies, would’ve preferred to walk on the grass, something organic where they could re-connect their earth-sense, tune in. But unlike most bunnies who would’ve bounced on the grass without thought, Garmella was part of the Empathic Corps, highly trained to liaise with other species and help ease suffering wherever possible, through counseling and technology transfers she could authorize in carefully targeted special cases. She always did her best to avoid bothering humans, even following their more nonsensical rules, like avoiding walking on areas not covered by cement walkways.
Once on the street, Garmella stepped onto her chrome-shiny hyper-scooter. It looked like a kiddie scooter: a small kickboard atop four little solid wheels, a stick with handlebars, no seat. Garmella gave the asphalt a little kick to put the scooter in motion, beginning smooth momentum forward and signaling the scooter to power up. The handlebars lit up, and blue-white flame flickered behind the kickboard. The mini-rocket system multiplied the tiny bit of momentum Garmella had provided, accelerating twofold, then fourfold, then more, but slowly, gently.
As the scooter imperceptibly built up speed, Garmella steadied herself, left hand on a handlebar. She lifted her right hand to her mouth and began talking into the comm-link on her wrist. “I think I found the boy we’re looking for. Further work is necessary but I am leaving for the day. Dispatch pod to pre-planned coordinates.”
In reply, her comm-link gave a bee-beep, acknowledgment from the Bun Central computer.
Garmella had a full plume of blue-white flame pushing her forward now. The scooter, wheels retracted, reached maximum hover—altitude of about two feet—and Garmella watched row after row of sterile concrete houses fly past, a flipbook of suburban sameness.
It was 2103, and there were still no flying cars. There were mini-rocket-assisted “hyper-scooters” that could hover a little, along with similar e-bikes, even a few rocket motorcycle prototypes, but all these were confined to the strange bipedal rabbits that had emerged as a sort of nation in the late 2070s. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration had never approved the hyper-scooter or any other bunny-made vehicle for sale or use in the United States, deeming them far too dangerous. The rabbits tended to agree, as far as human operators went, that few among 22nd century homo sapiens could drive such open-air rocket-assisted vehicles without great risk. So the bunnies did their best to keep hyper-scooters and the like out of the wrong hands; their safe operation relied on the superior reflexes, balance and agility of the rabbit, after all.
The jet-pod transport sat at the pre-designated coordinates, a leaning egg in a grassy clearing. Garmella approached, and the pod activated with a Ba-boop and a cheery jingle, “when you need to scram… doo-doodoo-deet… count on SCRAM-Jet!”
Garmella briefly shook her head. Human technology. Milo’s lab must be really busy on space stuff if they’re dropping human mass-produced engines in pods.
The pod’s front panel open, she placed the hyper-scooter, now folded so it was as thin as an old stop sign, behind the seat. She hopped in. Moments later the twin take-off rockets roared to life and lifted the aerodynamic egg, streaking up toward the airspeeds needed for an airbreathing jet-engine like the SCRAM-Jet to kick in. The SCRAM-Jet finally came to life with a small blast behind the egg and sent it flying forward. Then, with a thunder-clap, Garmella’s pod broke the speed of sound and disappeared behind a white trail heading west, into a sunset of blood oranges and cinnamon clouds.