Rotary-Summit Daily Short Story Contest Winner: 3rd place |

Rotary-Summit Daily Short Story Contest Winner: 3rd place

Once upon a fairytale time, there were two young rabbits. The two were playing in the fields by their burrow that lay beneath a birch tree at the edge of the field. The rabbits were brother and sister, but somehow, they looked completely different. The sister, Leah, had large spots of black and white all over her fluffy body. Her big, curious eyes were a brown shade that was normal for most rabbits like her and her brother. Except her brother, a bigger rabbit named Sean, was albino. His pelt was not a natural brown or black, but a snow white. His fur was like this year-round even when others turn as the seasons pass. With his albino features come his blood red eyes that sometimes scared Leah when Sean got mad at her.

That day it was sunny, a warm summer day that was perfect for their daily playing and wrestling. Leah and Sean had decided to go out and have a race to see who was swiftest. As they darted through the trees, they came to the finish point, Leah stretching her long legs a few inches more at the final second, made it in front of her brother as he realized his loss. He sat down, panting heavily at the line they marked as finish, shaking his head at her.

“I was supposed to win!” He grumbled. Leah jumped and bounced around in a circle victoriously, rubbing it in. She laughed at his face as she danced about. Sean glared at her and looked up, hearing a bird. He froze and perked his tall ears up. A golden eagle circled overhead. He turned to Leah. “Shh! Look! An eagle! Hurry, we need to try to get home!” He said, bumping Leah so she’d stop. She skidded to a halt, looking seriously at him.

“Oh no, let’s go, I think I know the way back.” She said, running off. Sean followed.

“Think you know? What do you mean, you didn’t track the way back home when you made the course?” He yelled. Leah lowered her ears ashamedly. She ran harder, pumping her legs as fast as she could. Soon, they came to an unfamiliar clearing where a turtle was walking through. Leah, not seeing him, ran straight into the reptile crossing the clearing. Sean, trying to stop, also tumbled head over heels over the two. The turtle yelled in surprise and rolled on his back as Leah flipped him over. He started laughing as he watched Sean trip over them. He rocked back and forth and turned himself to see them.

“Oi! What’s ‘is? Hav’n’ fun ‘ere? Runnin’ o’er an ol’ tur’le loik meself?” The old turtle said, laughing still at them. Leah and Sean got up and shook themselves off.

“Sir, we are very sorry, but do you know where we are? And also where the field might be?” Leah asked politely.

“Har Har, lost are ye? Whoi yes ‘m oi do indeed no where yurr fields be a layin’.” The turtle laughed again and narrowed an eye at them.

“Good, good. Yes, we are lost, and we need to get home to our burrow at the field because there’s an eagle, they might come snatch us up. So, where is the field, sir?” Leah asked. Sean scratched his ear and looked up, his heart leapt to his throat as he saw the eagle coming down above them, its talons stretched out wide. He squealed.

“Oi’m Tur, young ‘un, and that eagle thurr is moi friend, yes that she be!” Tur said, looking up at the eagle, which set down beside him, her wings nearly touching the trees on either side of the clearing. Leah and Sean started to shake in fear of the gigantic creature that more than doubled their size. “Chess! Stop a scarin’ ‘ese young ‘uns! Har har har. You’ve beaten me again, bird!” He said, glaring up at her. The eagle’s bright amber-yellow eyes brightened in laughter. She smiled down at the old turtle.

“Tur, you old coot! You never get the fact that I’m faster because I’ll cover more in a wing-beat than you can in a step.” She said, looking at the rabbits that were slowly backing away from her and were nearly to the trees. “Where are you going? I’m not going to hurt you. I’m Franchesca, but you can call me Chess, for short.” The golden eagle dipped her big beautiful head politely.

Sean, glad he could say something, stepped forward cautiously. “I’m Sean, this is my sister, Leah. Nice to meet you, Chess and… Tur?” The words of the turtle had become a jumbled mess in his mind as he couldn’t understand a single word that had come from his mouth. Leah nodded and stepped behind her brother, peeking from behind his rump. Her eyes were huge, making tea saucers look small compared to them.

Chess laughed at them. “Hey, you guys want to play with us? I noticed you two were playing before. I know of a pond not too far from here, it is tons of fun to play in, and fish.” The great bird invited, tilting her head at them. Tur rocked back and forth and eventually rolled onto his feet.

“Oi loik ’em fishes yurr good at a catchin’ ‘ere, Chess!” Tur said turning around. He started to slowly walk through the trees and Chess followed.

“We’re comin’ too! Sounds like fun!” Sean called, running after them. Leah sat there for a few seconds and finally decided to follow Sean, keeping a distance between her and Chess as they went along.

After a few minutes of travelling, the group finally got to the pond. Tur immediately set off the banks into the pond, not stopping his slow walk for anything. Chess waited for the two young mammals before taking to the skies and dive now and then to bring a fish up to the banks for them. Leah and Sean looked at the fish. “Uh, Chess? We are herbivores, just so ya know.” Sean said, still staring at the fish she had just brought up. She set it down on the bank, next to the first one.

“Oh, sorry, I sometimes forget that not every animal eats meat. So sorry.” She apologized, gulping down one of the fish in a single bite. Leah watched disgustedly and hurried to the water’s edge before she got sick. She took a big leap into the deeper waters. Tur surfed the wave she made with an excited squeal. Sean and Chess giggled. Sean stepped out over the water on a log that reached half-way out onto the water. He peered over the side and saw a fish dart underneath in the crystal-clear water. He smiled and continued to watch, dazzled, and unaware of his sister swimming up behind him. She launched herself out of the water and shoved him over the edge, screaming as he fell. She climbed onto the log and rolled over, laughing hysterically. Sean swam onto the log and shook himself off.

“Leah! How do you like it?” Leah shrieked as she fell in. She appeared again in a second on the surface a little ways away from the log. Sean laughed and watched her swim back to the log. He saw a large, dark shape move under her. She hadn’t noticed. “Uhm, Leah? There’s something else in the water! Hurry, get back to the log!” Sean yelled to her. She yelped as the shape touched her feet. She thrashed about in a panic to get to Sean. Chess noticed her flailing and hopped over the log with a quick wing-beat. Tur turned around to see what was going on as he floated around on his back.

Suddenly, Sean’s sister disappeared into the water, the ripples blocked their view through the water, but they noticed the shape move to the opposite side of the lake. Sean yelled after it, calling out Leah’s name. Chess hopped up and down trying to see through the water. The dark shape moved to the shore and broke out of the water in a run; its dark, smooth skin shimmered as it ran. Leah screamed, spitting out water as she dangled from its large mouth. Sean leaped into the water and swam to the shore, chasing after them. Tur swam to the bank and ran behind Sean and Chess, trying to keep up with them. Chess flew above the rabbit, guiding him through the forest behind the creature.

Soon, they came to a giant mountain. Chess lighted down next to Sean, who collapsed from exhaustion. They waited for Tur to catch up and Chess surveyed the mountain. When they were all together and fully conscious, Chess gave them the full report.

“The creature carried your sister into that cave there.” She said, beckoning to the large opening that sat like a mouth on the mountain. “This is Grey Mountain, and, this is home to the hippos. They are very dangerous, Sean, and in order to get your sister, you’re going to have to go in yourself. The hippos are strange creatures; they can sense any animal near that isn’t a mammal, so you alone will be able to sneak in undetected.” She explained, looking into the red eyes of the rabbit. “Here, cover yourself in dirt. It’ll help disguise you in the dark cave.” She added, smearing dirt all over him with her talons. Sean nodded and thanked them, darting off into the cave. The adolescent rabbit could see well in the dark cave with his great ability to see in the dark. The light from outside started to fade. As he ran silently through, the fish smell got stronger and firelight lit up the distance. He saw Leah huddled in the corner, along with three other rabbits, a squirrel, and a fox. The hippo that stole his sister was easily spotted for he had the darkest skin of the three of them. He approached and hid next to Leah, going unnoticed by the distracted hippos. They were chatting in another dialect, a language he didn’t understand. Leah jumped when he nudged her awake. “Wha… Sean! What? We need to go! They are planning to feed us to a creature, a smelly one, that’s the fishy smell; it lives in a pond at the back of the cave.” She whispered in his ear. The fox awoke behind him.

“Oh! Hello, are you captured too?” She asked, in a hushed voice. Sean shook his head.

“I’m here to rescue you.” He said, looking at all of them. “Get ready to make a run when I say ‘now’. I’ll knock them out.” He said looking at the group as the last animals started to wake. He got ready to pounce when he shouted, “NOW!” Sean charged the hippo that had taken Leah, hitting him just so that he fell into the blaze and started to burn. He yelled loudly and the other two looked at him, taken aback. The small white rabbit, stained with dirt attacked the second hippo when he noticed the third one was unconscious. The fox had bit her neck, instantly knocking her out. The three large hippos lay around the fire as the seven animals scurried out of the cave as fast as they could.

Blinded by the light, Chess and Tur guided them to safety through the forest into Sean and Leah’s burrow. The large burrow was just enough room for all of them. They celebrated their new friendship and survival by teamwork by gathering cups made from the trees that Leah had done as a craft one day. The squirrel, a large male named Screech, made them an acorn tea from a nearby oak tree that he said was his home he shared with his mate and their three children. They sat around the table and chortled awhile, sharing stories as their newly budded friendship began to blossom.

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