Richard Bradley let the SUV crawl up the driveway next to the porch and shut the engine off. He looked at his son. Rabbit gazed back at him with a deep worldliness he had not seen in the boy before. “What now Dad?”
“We wait. The men should be here soon. They’ll help and take us out of...whatever is happening here.”
The rain had dissipated for the time being leaving only a pall of grey skies and the vacuum silence of the car's interior.
Rabbit nonchalantly unbuckled his seat belt and got out of the car. He walked up to the house like someone suddenly condemned to death row and disappeared in side.
Despite his rugged exterior, Bradley felt a sudden surge of emotion push to the surface and his eyes filled with wetness. He rubbed at them with his fists and checked his composure in the mirror. That’s when he noticed the blood. It was oozing from his eyes. My God, it’s happening to me. He reached into the glove compartment and pulled a tissue from a packet. He dabbed at his eyes until he had stopped the flow. In the distance the low flutter of a helicopter could be heard fading in and out on the wind. They’re here! Thank Christ! Finally!
Richard Bradley found hope now in his despair. He got out of the car and ran to the house. Rabbit was standing in the foyer facing him, straight as an arrow, gently rubbing his fingers as if trying to remove a stickiness. Bradley stopped in his tracks. “They’re here son. Grab a coat.”
“I don’t want to go.”
“What? What do you mean, Rabbit? You can’t stay here it’s not safe.”
“It’s not safe where we’re going either.”
Bradley looked at his son dumb-founded. The chopper started its decent and the wind began to pick up rustling the trees outside.
“Do you remember my mother?”
“What? I don’t see what that has to do with....”
Rabbit almost yelled. “Do you remember my mother?!”
Bradley turned his head and looked at the boy sideways. “Yes. Yes I remember her.”
“It’s not safe and I’m not going.”
Rabbit was now eerily calm and Bradley was becoming freaked out by his son’s sudden outburst. In his mind he tried to excuse the rationale as shock over the death of his best friend Jeffery, or the sickness that seemed to be all around them, in Bradley’s own body now. Yet, deep inside a voice screamed in panic that his boy was right and it wasn’t safe....anywhere. He turned around to watch the chopper land. Two figures in full camouflage hazmat suits jumped from an open side and started, with some urgency, toward the house with guns drawn.
Richard Bradley turned back to his Son. “Rabbit I want you to go to your room and stay there until I tell you to come out.”
“You have to come with me Dad.”
“Rabbit! Do as I say!”
Rabbit ran to his room, as his father moved quickly to the bureau to retrieve the hand gun he kept hidden under folded-up blankets and table cloths. He watched as his father tucked the gun into a crevice between the small of his back and his jeans. He turned and told his son to be quiet, but even as Rabbit closed the door to his room, he could see the light, the blue aura, growing rapidly around his father.
Rabbit moved to the window of his bedroom and opened it enough to climb out, but instead he scaled his dresser by the closet and reached around to the ceiling inside, above his clothes. The tingling and sick feeling was growing in every nerve and Rabbit fought to hold back the tears. He pushed on the trap door until it swung upward. From the top of his dresser he hoisted his body through the opening, knocking one of his track trophies to the floor in the process. Once inside the attic, he closed the trap door and began to crawl the length of the house to the circular vent just above the back veranda.
Below he could hear voices, his father’s and another man with a much rougher register. He stopped to listen. The other man’s talking was muffled through his suit. “Mr. Bradley, we’re here to take you and the boy to safety.”
“By gun point? Are we under arrest or something?”
“Where is the boy?”
“First tell me what’s going on. Why am I bleeding from my eyes? And others...”
“There’s no time to explain now.” The first man instructed his partner. “Find the boy!”
“Now wait a goddamn minute!” Richard Bradley said. “This is my house and my son isn’t even here.”
The first man was becoming impatient. “You were given specific instructions to return home with the boy and wait for us. Now, where is he?”
“I left him with a friend. I thought under the circumstances....”
“You know,” Bradley said. “You’d think someone sent to rescue us would be a little more courteous.”
From what Rabbit could now hear, there appeared to be a scuffle going on, as feet danced out of rhythm below him. A gun shot rang out and a shaft of light appeared close to the boy as the bullet ripped through the ceiling and past him into a beam of wood. Rabbit flopped to his belly while the struggle continued. Slowly he inched himself to the hole. Peering through it, he saw a man with shiny boots push his father to the wall in an arm-bar. The gun fell harmlessly from Richard Bradley’s hand. The other, taller man kicked it away with his foot.
The shiny boot man turned to the taller one. “Tear the house apart, see if he’s here!” Then he turned to Richard Bradley. “Either we get the boy with your help, or without it. Personally, I hope it’s the latter.”
Bradley thrust his head back with all his might into the face mask of his captor, cracking the glass and breaking free of the shiny-boot-man’s grip. He charged to the corner out of Rabbit’s vision to retrieve the gun. He saw the man with the shiny boots raise his firearm. There was a sound unlike anything a gun would make and Rabbit heard a body drop to the floor. My Dad! They killed him!
Gasping and panicked, the fear gripped him, forcing him to crawl with great haste. A smell of burning, like orange peel set ablaze, reached his nostrils. Below him rummaging could be heard as the two men overturned furniture and kicked open doors in an effort to find him.
In no time Rabbit was at the vent and pushed it until it was horizontal and he could squeeze out the opening onto the back porch roof. From there he jumped for the tree branch of the oak tree, hanging for a moment like a tire swing, before thumping to the ground and running with all his speed for the cover of the trees.
Once behind the solace of the foliage he turned back to the house. He saw the taller man emerge around the side of the building looking for signs on the ground. They know I was in the house. I have to get away, but my Dad?
Rabbit’s head swam. His thoughts and senses were scrambled in an unintelligible soupy static like someone scanning through radio stations all at once. Yet, he couldn’t leave Jeffery that time at Old Man Vilgrains’ And he wasn’t about to leave his father now, even if they had killed him.
Suddenly a hand came over Rabbits’ face. “Gotcha!”