Hare Raising (Urban Fantasy)

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The rain was really coming down. Beth had the wipers going full speed but the world in front of the car was still a watery smear. From a Kansas childhood she knew all about unpredictable storms, but this was ridiculous, especially in Nevada. She could still make out endless desert stretching out around the narrow blacktop.

She gripped the wheel tighter and focused on the road. Rain or not Vegas was ahead and if she wasn’t there by nightfall there’d be hell to pay. She swallowed at the turn of phrase. Nothing like a literal truth to ruin your day.

At least it was straight and flat with nothing to hit for mil-

Something small and white darted across the road practically under her fenders. She cursed and swerved hard. There was a crunch and a rattle as she left the road. Fifty skidding feet later the car ground to a stop.

When her hands finally released their death grip on the wheel they went to her stomach. Her belly had only begun swelling the week before. She usually smiled when she felt her growing stomach because it reminded her of that night, but at that moment she only felt terror.

The heart stopping moment stretched out.

There! She felt that recently familiar flutter beneath her fingers. Her little guy was okay. That was all that mattered.

She wondered if whatever had darted across the road had been so lucky.

She should have stayed in the car but it had looked like a bunny. She’d loved bunnies ever since Ms. Patteron’s Mr. Fobby in 3rd grade. Hand still shaking, she opened the door and climbed out into the soaking deluge.

A white jack rabbit sat staring at her from ten feet away. His (somehow she was sure of this) ears were down as rain pelted him but he was clearly starting at her, small dark eyes unblinking. He actually looked like Mr. Fobby if the Fob had taken up triathlon's instead of sitting in a cage eating bits of carrots. She was relieved the rabbit was unharmed but his stare was unsettlingly direct. When he turned and looked up the road her eyes were drawn with him.

One moment it was rain upon rain, then a funnel cloud twisted to life and drove into the road. This wasn’t some gentle caress but a sharp smack. The impact zinged up through the soles of her shoes from a mile away. A second tornado joined the first then a third. She stared agape as the twisters played Twister with the road. The road was losing.

With the blacktop sufficiently wrecked the three fingers of windy death paused, as if in consultation, then turned and started moving. Towards her.

Being attacked by three tornadoes was not something she was familiar with and her brain paused to sort out how she should deal with the situation. The rabbit, perhaps more familiar with direct assaults by large scale storms, did not have such a problem. He turned and hopped away. She watched his movement with curiosity, if not really comprehension, until she looked up and saw... a tree?

A lone and somewhat scraggly pine stood alone a hundred yards away. Facing the imminent arrival of multiple death dealing twisters she would have preferred a fortified concrete bunker, but what she had was a tree you might see in a small room at Christmas.

Beth stumbled after the rabbit while horizontal rain tried to flatten her. All the while she kept waiting for the tug of the tornadoes snatching her into the air. Step by shuddering step she kept moving and then she was at the tree. She glanced back. The tornadoes were right there. The rabbit was already huddled under the lowest branches against the tree’s trunk. She scrambled in beside him and wrapped her arms around him and the trunk.

The first tornado struck with wrenching fury. Pine boughs bent and slapped against her under the enormous pressure. The foundations of the world shook. The rabbit’s heartbeat was drum solo fast in her arms. She squeezed her eyes shut and held on.

The second whirlwind shook the tree shook until it groaned in her arms. She clenched everything, waiting for the the tree to rip away from the ground. Somehow it held fast.

The third cyclone was a hammer of skull crushing pressure. The earth was coming apart around her. She might have screamed but the entire world was a screaming roar. If anything left her lips it was sucked away into the maelstrom.

The roaring barrage went on and on and then, about the time the sky had to be falling in jagged pieces, it was over.

Eventually she crawled awkwardly from beneath the tree. The rain and and clouds had broken, leaving behind a bruised purple sky. She knew how that felt.

The desert was stripped bare. The road was heaped, twisted asphalt. A half-buried hub cap was the only sign of her car.

Night was falling, her car was gone, and her deadline with it.

Beth screamed.

Strangling fear rushed up out of her throat in a torrent and she vomited it at the heavens.

“Screw you!” she shouted raggedly. “Screw all you ‘old gods’ and screw your damn curses!”

Her breath was a heaving furnace in her chest.

“Yeah, I curse you! See how it feels.”

She took a shaking breath and laid a hand flat on her stomach.

“You’re not getting him,” she said flatly. “Not ever.”

Her car was gone but she was still standing. Her, the tree, and the bunny. He was sitting there quietly looking up at her. He twitched his nose and blinked.

She laughed and the last of the tension slipped from her.

“At least not everyone’s against me.”

The rabbit hopped towards Vegas. She sighed. She was so tired but she had miles to go until she slept.

She nodded her thanks to the tree and followed the bunny into the dusk.

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