Lop Skyhopper stood on the bridge, his nose twitching with excitement.
“You won’t escape, Dutch Vader!” he shouted. “Come out, you coward! Face your fate or eat your feces!”
A tall figure with dark, menacing whiskers stepped onto the bridge from the other side.
“I’m sorry, Lop,” Dutch Vader spoke calmly. “I wasn’t done with my daily portion of alfalfa hay yet. But now I’m at your service!” And he drew out a terrifying red lightcarrot.
“You’ve killed my mentor and friend, Obi-Bun Kenobi!” Lop Skyhopper cried.
“Ha! He cut off my paws during a terrible battle where I fell into water,” Dutch Vader complained. “Just imagine the pain and the fear!”
Lop Skyhopper raised his lightcarrot, but suddenly a shaky blue hologram of Obi-Bun Kenobi materialized in front of him.
“Use the paws, Lop!” Obi-Bun smiled, wiggling his ears. “The claws are strong with you. Reach out ... Feel them...”
At that moment –
“At that moment, what?” Luna asked.
“I’ll tell you tomorrow if you go to sleep now.” Her father tucked a warm blanket around her and gently stroked her long, silky ears.
“But I want to know now! Will Lop defeat Dutch Vader? How can Obi-Bun still be alive if he’s dead? And I want carrot juice.”
“No carrot juice for you, young lady! I said ‘tomorrow’. No, no, stop biting your claws! What do you think you are – a human being?”
“They bite their claws?” Luna asked in a sleepy voice.
“They call them ‘nails’. And they do all sorts of bad things. When you grow up, I’ll tell you what those wretched creatures used to do to us before the Event.”
“But Dad, we should still be nice to them...”
“After what they did?” A shadow fell over her father’s face. “Never. Never forgive that which cannot be forgiven. When you grow up you’ll understand.”
Luna closed her eyes and mumbled:
“Then I’ll forgive them in my dream, Dad...”
Tomi Katz raised his eyes and adjusted his tie.
“Let me get this straight,” he said, discreetly plucking a nose hair. “So in your story, there’s this atomic war about a hundred years from now, right?”
“Right. In the year 2121, to be precise.” Amos Horshan carefully studied the sandal straps covering his toes.
“Okay. Okay.” The editor put his elbows on the desk and squinted at the rays of bright Jerusalem sun looking into the office window. “So this war – miraculously, right? – makes ... err ... bunnies ... err ... what do you call it ... sentient? Self-aware?”
“Something like that.”
“Ordinary bunnies?” Tomi Katz batted his eyelashes. “Like, rabbits? Those that go, like – khrum-khrum-khrum?” He exposed his nicotine-stained teeth and distorted his face in a grimace that would be normally associated with painful defecation.
“I see. And, and – and those rabbits also become big, right? Like, huge? And they, what, enslave the humans, etcetera, etcetera, and then one brave little bunny girl, this –” he peeked into the manuscript “– this Luna, who is actually a princess, one of the sixty-seven daughters of King Horny XIV –”
“– inspired by a bunny version of Star Wars, decides – together with an immortal Chinese dude – to fight for justice, liberté, égalité and all that shit, equal treatment for primates and rodents –”
“Rabbits are lagomorphs, not rodents,” Amos Horshan explained. “A different taxonomic order.”
The editor emitted a sonorous sigh.
“Look, Amos.” He leaned forward, his fingertips pressed together. “You know I love you, right? Not in a gay way. As a bro. So, bro to bro, okay? What we’ve got here is what you call a taxonomic problem, see? When you wrote Love of Life –”
“I know, I know, I’m just messing with you.” Tomi Katz gave the writer a playful nudge. “Anyway, when you wrote Near Death I didn’t say a word, did I? I accepted it fearlessly, like a rectal examination. Because, see, there you write about yourself.”
“About my brother, actually.” Amos Horshan scratched the back of his head. “My brother Shlomo.”
“There you go. It’s a real-life story, you know what I mean? Real life. And that’s the shit people like, Amos. They aren’t interested in your fantasies about bunny rebels and crap. You ought to write about real stuff. You know – sex, action. Sexual action. That kind of stuff.”
“Tomi,” Amos Horshan said quietly. “I want to reach out. I’m not doing it for myself. I believe that my stories matter. I want people to read them. I’ll pay you to publish them, Tomi. I’ll –”