They came in over the hill shortly after dawn, slipping through the grass in a gentle susurration just shy of being inaudible. From the porch the grass looked like it was merely swaying in an energetic breeze, but as the motion swept closer glimpses of sickly pastels flashed briefly between the overgrown blades.
Tom stood on his porch, hands gripping the barrel of his shotgun, and wondered where they had all come from with so little warning.
Jemima stuck her head out the door. “Tom, what in tarnation are you doing with a shotgun?” she said, and then glanced beyond him at the waving grass, the teeth and twitching wet noses flashing in and out of sight. “Good merciful God,” she said.
Tom turned his head and spat off the porch without taking his eyes off the hill. “Get out the front, Jemima,” he said. “Don’t reckon I can hold ’em long.” On the shotgun his knuckles stood out white and bloodless against the black of the barrel.
“What is that?” said Jemima. “Tom?”
“Never told you what I was hunting all them times I went east,” said Tom. “Didn’t want to worry you.”
At the crest of the hill, two prongs of quivering shadow thrust into the sky, silhouetted briefly against the red glow of sunrise. Tom’s arms jerked in an aborted attempt to swing the shotgun up to his shoulder, but whatever it was dropped out of site, disappearing back into the grass as it proceeded down the hill with its brethren. The wave of swaying grass was almost to the circle of dirt that bordered Tom and Jemima’s home.
“Jesus God,” said Jemima.
“The son-bitches,” said Tom. “I never thought they’d swarm like this. I could have swore I cleared them out years ago.” With a practiced gesture, he broke the gun open and checked its magazine.
“Bastards can have both damn barrels,” he continued with a glower as he slammed the action home and gave the pump a pull.
Jemima at last gave the shotgun more than a passing glance. “Christ, what’s that?” she said. “That’s not your shotgun. I thought those things were only in movies.”
“Bought it off eBay,” said Tom, taking his eyes off the grass for a moment to admire the sleek, semi-automatic, double-barreled beauty of his firearm. Its matte black surface had an infernal glow in the strange light of the red dawn, every oiled line of its body speaking of barely-restrained brute force. “Had to mortgage the house to get it.”
Jemima went slack-jawed. “You did not mortgage our house,” she said. “God, you did not.”
“I told you to run, Jemima!” said Tom. “They’re coming out!”
As one, a line of pink, yellow, and white fuzzy bunnies shuffled from the grass and onto the dirt. There they paused, focused on Tom and the gun in his hands. Their adorable little paws shuffled quietly in the dirt as their beady eyes surveyed the porch.
Tom whipped the shotgun up to his shoulder. “Try it,” he growled. “I’ll take the lot of you.”
Jemima wrinkled her nose in confusion. “But they’re bunnies,” she said. “Like Easter.”
Some of the bunnies wiggled their button noses. Others twitched their precious fuzzy ears. Tom’s finger tightened on the trigger, the gun’s barrel swaying first left, then right. The pause went on for an indefinite second, tension suspending bunnies and the two on the porch in a timeless state of adrenalin. Then, without any apparent signal, the bunnies surged forward, more in the grass hopping over the heads of the frontrunners even as they pelted for the house, the grass whipping as if in a tornado as bunnies poured over the hill in a now visible stream, leaping and kicking their feet in a frenzied animal rush.
With a roar Tom discharged his shotgun and punched a hole through the front line of bunnies, blood misting the air as bunny bodies tumbled and spun limply backward. Jemima screamed once, loud and shrill, like a fallen angel just starting their descent and realizing how truly far they had to go. The desperate dual shunk-shunk of Tom’s pump action melded with Jemima’s scream before he sent a second thunderous cluster of shot tearing into the pack. Then the bunnies were there, bouncing wildly, eyes black as the inside of a coffin.
And at last there was silence. Pink, fluffy silence.