THE EASTER BUNNY • by Patrick Perkins

The big pink bunny wandered through the park, carrying a bright basket full of chocolate Easter eggs. Everywhere the bunny went, a crowd of excited children and camera-wielding parents followed. The bunny would crouch down and let the children choose an egg, then pose for the obligatory photo.

Inside the bunny suit, Harold Chapman realized that he had inadvertently discovered his personal vision of Hell.

Made of cheap polyester fabric, the bunny suit did not breathe; Harold felt like he was wearing a giant furry pink garbage bag. After being in the suit for only one hour, sweat had begun to stream out of every one of Harold’s pores — which likely explained why the rented suit reeked of stale body odor. Harold’s skin was beginning to itch so badly that he had trouble standing still. And his bladder was very close to bursting. It was definitely not a happy Easter for Harold.

“Thanks, Easter Bunny!” the little girl shouted as she pulled a pink Easter egg out of Harold’s basket.

As the girl skipped away, Harold checked his basket and sighed with relief. It was finally empty, which meant a trip back to the concession for a refill — not before a little side trip to the woods to relieve his bladder and get a few minutes of peace and quiet.

Harold casually walked closer to the edge of the forest, then ducked into the trees. He waited a few moments to see if one of the children had spotted him; the last thing he needed was for some kid to see the Easter Bunny taking a leak against a tree.

Satisfied that he had made a clean getaway, Harold travelled deeper into the woods and found a secluded spot between two large cedars. He ripped the head off the costume, pulled the bunny suit down to his knees and began frantically scratching as many places on his body as he could reach. After a few minutes Harold sighed, unzipped his fly, and proceeded to relieve himself against the tree.

Preoccupied with his rapidly emptying bladder, and seriously questioning his sanity in accepting the Easter Bunny gig, Harold did not hear the soft rustling in the bushes behind him. However, he very clearly heard the low growl of something large making its way towards his tree.

Harold slowly turned his head towards the sound and suddenly lost the urge to urinate. Creeping towards him was an animal best described as a rabbit, if rabbits grew to the size of small bears. The creature growled, tensed its body, then leaped. It landed with a soft thump just behind Harold, then slowly reared up on its hind legs. Standing a full head taller than Harold, the animal looked down and pulled its lips back to reveal a set of very large teeth. Harold could feel the breath of the creature on his cheek, and it reeked of rotten meat. Paralyzed with fright, Harold stared into the animal’s watery eyes and began to have his first out of body experience.

“Get down!” a voice boomed from the trees off to Harold’s right. The voice was so loud that Harold instinctively dropped to the ground. A gleaming metal dart flew through the space previously occupied by Harold’s head and hit the creature in the center of its chest. The animal howled in pain then fell backwards away from the tree. Clutching frantically at its chest, the creature slipped to the ground; it howled once more then went limp.

Heart pounding, Harold lay on the ground and stared at the dead creature.

“Meet the real Easter Bunny,” a deep voice said from behind Harold. Whipping his head around, Harold’s eyes widened as a part of the forest suddenly transformed into the shape of a man. Covered in camouflage fabric, the man wore a helmet with a mirrored visor and carried a loaded crossbow.

“Get back a bit, will you — I’ve seen them play dead before,” the man said as he approached the creature. He fired a second bolt at close range into the animal’s chest — it did not move. Nodding, the man slid his visor back and slipped the crossbow into a holster on his back. “Can’t be too careful with these things.”

“Captain Frank Miller,” the man said, extending a gloved hand towards Harold. Harold shook the offered hand and winced at the strength of the man’s grip.

“Clear.” Frank said softly into a microphone attached to his wrist. As soon as he had finished speaking, two more camouflaged figures emerged from the woods. The men nodded to Frank and made their way over to the tree. They pulled a large camouflaged bag over the body of the creature and dragged it into the woods. The entire process took less than two minutes.

“Not many civilians get to see one of them up close like that and survive,” Frank said. He looked down at Harold’s bunny costume and grinned. “He must have been curious about your suit — otherwise you’d be in pieces right now.”

Frank’s friendly manner suddenly vanished and he drew his crossbow with one fluid motion. “Now here’s the deal,” he said, aiming the weapon at Harold’s chest. “Not a word to anyone — no blogs, tweets, or posts. It’s hard enough tracking these buggers down without word getting out.”

Harold nodded meekly, unable to take his eyes away from the gleaming crossbow.

“Excellent,” Frank said, holstering the crossbow and smiling once again. “You know, they really do love chocolate — especially dark.” He unsnapped a pouch on his belt and took out a large chunk of dark chocolate.

“Some people think the Easter Bunny is a product of the chocolate companies,” Frank said, handing the chocolate to Harold. “But believe me, the Easter Bunny is real.” Frank snapped his visor down, nodded, then disappeared into the woods.

Harold stared dumbly at the chocolate, then took a tentative bite. It was excellent.

Patrick Perkins writes in British Columbia, Canada.

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