A short story by Sean Broadchest (702 words)
It was a dark and stormy night. Rivulets of water ran swiftly along the path, cutting jagged trenches in the softer mud. Lightning lit up the sky, followed by earth-rending cracks of thunder.
Bugsy O’Hare XIII huddled close to a bush with large overhanging leaves to protect himself from the onslaught. He always cringed at this part of his annual marathon. No matter how pleasant the weather outside, it was always like this when he made his way through the Black Forest.
Bugsy was the latest in a long line of Easter bunnies. After the first year of his training period, and every year afterwards, when he left Easter eggs with his father, Bugsy begged to have the Black Forest taken off the route. He argued that the eggs were supposed to be for good little girls and boys, and there couldn’t possibly be any of those in the Black Forest. His father flatly refused. Even though the Black Forest was dark and foreboding, there was no way to tell if there were any good children there, it was the Easter Bunny’s duty to go through to see if there were. Whether he liked it or not, Bugsy would always have to go through the Black Forest.
This was his first year to deliver the eggs on his own. So far, it was all great fun—until he took that first hop into the Black Forest. It was like hopping into a terrible nightmare! Now, he sat huddled, cold and wet, trying as best he could to protect his precious cargo of brightly decorated eggs. He was not happy. He wondered if he would drown in the rivers of streaming water, or fried by a bolt of lightning, or flattened by a tree knocked to the ground by the quaking earth. He tried to remember what his father did to get through to the other side, but he was overcome with fear and terror from the storm.
What was that sound? he wondered, as panic gripped him. He twitched his long ears this way and that to find its source. Slowly, the sound became louder, from down the path. Could it be? As listened intently, he was surprised to hear the voice of a girl singing gaily. He wondered if his mind was playing tricks on him, and it was just his imagination from the wind howling through the branches. The singing grew louder now. It couldn’t be the wind. He chanced a peek down the path. To his astonishment, he saw a young girl, dressed in colourful clothes, skipping along the path, splashing happily in the puddles in her yellow boots.
This must be one of those good children his father always talked about. He shrank back into the shadows. When she passed by, Bugsy crept in the bushes along the path, following her. The rain was still pouring down, but now he was intent on following this delightful little girl. When she turned down a side path, he followed. A few minutes later, they arrived at a lovely little cottage. It looked cozy and warm inside as she opened the door wide. He almost jumped out of his skin when she unexpectedly turned around.
“Oh, poor Mr. Bunny,” she said with empathy. “You must be so cold and wet. Please come in to warm yourself by the fire.”
He couldn’t believe she noticed him! He was sure he kept well hidden. But, there she was, smiling brightly at him. He had to admit a little time by the fire would be nice. He could leave her a couple of special eggs to thank her. Bugsy took a hop out from his hiding place. The girl stood back to let him pass into to the house. He hopped to the fire where he felt warm for the first time since he entered the Black Forest. The girl brought him a nice pillow to sit on, and something warm and tasty to drink. Soon, Bugsy was totally relaxed, staring into the fire. He fell asleep, never to wake again.
“Gotta love this little girl potion!” cackled the old witch, as she finished her supper of rabbit stew, with chocolate eggs for dessert.