Sorry this is running a bit slow for the Easter Blog Hop. Here’s a special Yellow Sky Easter story from A.M. Burns just for the blog hop. Thanks to Laura Culley, our wonderful editor, for the fast return on this one.
Be Very, Very Quiet
by A.M. Burns
Alex Carlson crouched down behind the thick evergreen hedge. A heavy full moon eased its way below the western horizon. The wind still held a slight chill; just enough to remind him that winter had not yet totally surrendered to spring.
“You know how silly this looks?” he asked his half-dragon lover, Tal O’Duirwood, who knelt at his side.
“We have to be quiet,” Tal reminded him sharply through their telepathic link. “From what I can tell, the creature has extremely sharp hearing.”
Alex resisted sighing. “You know most people stop believing in the Easter Bunny when they are nine or ten. You’re almost two thousand.” They’d been having the debate for two days now, ever since Tal packed them up in Colorado and started driving toward Hershey, Pennsylvania. Tal said they were after an unknown creature that only appeared on the third full moon of the year. For the past hundred years it had attacked the chocolate factory, leaving devastation in its wake. Every year, when Tal wasn’t on assignment for the Coalition of Magical Creatures, he’d tried to catch the beast.
“It’s not the Easter Bunny,” Tal grumbled. “Although I suspect it may be magical. I want to find out more about it.”
Alex knew that was the crux of the whole thing. Relentless pursuit of knowledge was the drive that sustained Tal through his long life. If he stumbled on something he didn’t know, he’d dig until he knew everything about it. The library in their Colorado mountain home contained works as far back as the earliest recorded history, and then some.
“So we sit here in the dark and wait?” Alex asked, shifting to relieve a cramp that started in his left leg. “You know, if we had guns I’d feel like Elmer Fudd.”
Tal touched his shoulder and pulled him into a tight embrace, wrapping his strong arms around Alex’s chest. His body heat chased some of the chill from the night air.
“It will give us a little quiet time,” he said.
Alex leaned back against Tal. He always felt perfectly safe, sound and contented with Tal’s arms around him. It would have made the night go by faster if they’d been lying on the ground enjoying themselves, but they had to remain silent and vigilant for whatever hopped past.
The night drifted by as the two waited. Then something moved.
Several hundred yards down the hedge from where they crouched, something exploded out of the evergreens. In the near darkness, just after moon set, it scurried across the deserted parking lot heading for the factory.
“There it goes!” Tal whispered as he leapt over the hedge to follow.
The creature stopped and stared as the two ran toward it. Standing nearly six feet tall with long floppy ears and a round white tail, the thing looked like a two-legged rabbit. An ear-splitting scream ruptured the quiet night as the thing took off, running for the far side of the parking lot.
Tal didn’t pause, and as he ran, he shifted to his dragon form. One second the dark-haired man was running down the parking lot, the next a black dragon launched into the sky. Alex could only watch as the bunny beast ran for its life. He knew Tal wouldn’t hurt it if he could help it, but now his lover was chasing the unknown, and he wouldn’t pause until he caught it. If the chase lasted too long, there was a chance it might bring up his blood lust. Alex had only seen it a couple of times when Tal was really hungry, but it got messy.
The dragon’s wings covered the distance across the parking lot quickly. As he reached out for the creature, it ducked and rolled across the pavement. Tal back winged, but was going too fast and slid face first into the hedge.
Alex paused and launched a magical leven bolt at the thing. The blue energy bolt illuminated the rabbit thing’s fur as it flattened out just in time for the magical attack to fly over it. Then, with another scream, the beast was up and running again.
Tal shook himself out of the hedge, evergreen branches flying in all directions. His sapphire eyes searched the dark parking lot for their prey. Alex fired another leven bolt. Again the bunny beast dodged it. Tal launched back into the air. The prey ran down the narrow alley between two buildings, too tight a spot for the dragon to follow. Tal landed on the nearest building and peered down the alley, casting magical balls of light in after their prey.
“Where’d he go?” Alex shouted as he ran toward the alley.
“I can’t see him,” Tal replied. “Hopefully you can flush him out. I’ve never seen anything like it. Finally some real proof this thing exists.”
Guided by Tal’s magical lights, Alex ran into the alley. The sticky sweet smell of rancid chocolate choked the air. His shoes squished with each step. Large paw prints, visible in the magical light, vanished halfway down the alley near a set of stairs leading up into the building. With his first step, movement above him caught Alex’s attention.
“Alex, look out!” Tal shouted.
Something large and furry slammed into him, knocking Alex down into the sticky alleyway. Reflexively, he punched up into the furry belly. A rewarding “ooooffff” sound escaped his attacker. Magic welled around them as Tal’s voice chanted out a spell. The bunny beast, struggled to get away, but Alex grabbed hold of one of its massive ears and held on. It swung a furred hand hard into his face.
Pain wracked his nose, but Alex held on as Tal’s spell swirled around them. The magic grew and the rabbit thing shrank until Alex held onto a normal ear of a short round young man dressed in a robin’s-egg blue bathrobe. Sweat ran down from the man’s curly brown hair and mingled with the tears streaming from his wide, terror-filled, brown eyes.
“Oh God, the guys never said there was a dragon guarding this place,” the man stammered as Alex let go of his ear.
“What are you?” Tal asked.
The man paled, and his nose twitched. “A wererabbit,” he replied.
“I’ve never heard of wererabbits,” Tal said.
“Of course you haven’t,” the man said. “We stay hidden. Would it help if I said I’d never heard of dragons?”
Tal shrugged. “How many of you are there?”
“A few here and there,” the man answered, regaining some of his composure. “Most of us died out back during the black plague. We weren’t immune to it like other wers were.”
“So why do you raid this place every year?” Tal asked. Alex could tell his lover was fighting back his blood lust. He’d never seen Tal stop a hunt without killing something.
The wererabbit shrugged. “It’s sort of a rite of passage among my kind. Every year, one of us is chosen to hit this place and bring back as much chocolate as we can. Years ago, as legends go, they used to actually leave special things out for us. You know, like the Old World folks used to leave milk out for the fairies. I guess with corporate greed so strong now, they don’t do it anymore, so it’s a little harder. But we still send someone in each year to see what we can get.” He looked at his feet and sighed. “I guess this year there won’t be any chocolate for us. I had to be the one to get caught by the dragon.”
Alex looked at Tal, his heart going out to the wererabbit. “Come on, let’s help him out.”
Tal sighed and glared. “What’s your name rabbit?”
“Fred,” he replied with a gulp.
“Fred,” Alex said before Tal could. “We’re going help you get the biggest haul of chocolate your friends will remember.”
The wererabbit’s face lit up. “Really?”
“Yeah,” Tal sighed again.
Later, Alex sprawled on the motel-room bed, broke off a piece of chocolate bunny and fed it to Tal. The dragon was still grumpy from having to break off his hunt, but a bit of after-fight sex had taken the edge off him.
“Well, so now we know where the legends of the Easter Bunny come from,” Alex said, running his fingers up through Tal’s thick black hair. “They seem like a nice enough bunch.”
“I’m trying to figure out how to file a report on this,” Tal said bending his head to kiss Alex.
“Just tell the office that we discovered a new species,” Alex replied. “Something unexpected. You know we could just keep quiet about them. They’re basically harmless. It’s not like they’re going to run through the world attacking people with their big gnashing teeth or throwing colored eggs at folks.’
Tal ruffled Alex’s red hair. “So, just keep it our little secret?”
Alex took a bite of the chocolate and grinned. “Yeah, and if we want, we can show up every year, scare the new guy that gets sent in for the chocolate and get more sweets.”
Tal hugged him tightly and kissed him. “I love you.”
Alex chuckled. “I love you too.”
Then, in stereo, they said to each other “Happy Easter.”
So please leave comments and share. The comments on this post and the last one will all be entered into the contest for the 2 ebooks, “Perfect Love” and “Perfect Trust” to be done after midnight April 8th.
Hoopy Easter every one.