Mushroom turned to Rabbit with one raised eyebrow, “I suspect my friend, that what he is telling you is a jovial falsehood.”
Rabbit looked confused.
“He’s having you on.” Explained Mushroom.
“Why would he lie about it? What would be the point?”
“My dear friend, worms cannot be trusted.”
“You cannot tell their heads from their tails.”
“What’s that got to do with anything?”
“Why it’s simply shady.”
Rabbit smirked, “that’s rich coming from someone who grows in the dark.” He shuffled around on his beanbag, huffing and sighing on each twist and turn. “Whatever, I believe him.”
Mushroom rolled his eyes and tended to his plants. Water splashed up from the soil and caught on the powdery green leaves. Each bead waited patiently to be licked up by a passing bug or inhaled by the warm breath of the sun.
Rabbit sighed, “I’m bored.”
“I suggest you read a book” said Mushroom.
“I’m not in the mood.”
“Your mother gave you the most splendid spinach to plant remember?”
“I don’t like spinach.”
“Ha!” laughed Mushroom.
“I’m just not in the mood O.K.” Rabbit flopped back into his beanbag.
Mushroom turned to his plants and watched a grasshopper slurp up the first watery jewel. “Did the worm reference exactly when it is going to occur?”
“HA! So you do believe him?!”
“Please, spare me the melodrama. I’m merely appeasing your boredom.”
“Yeah-huh.” Leaping up Rabbit started pacing across the grass. “Midnight. At exactly midnight the stars will explode and a meteor shower bigger than the one that wiped out the dinosaurs will destroy the entire world!”
“And pray tell - how did a measly, slimy little worm come to know such a thing?”
“He has a cousin that lives next door to NASA, he heard the whole thing.”
“Oh yes how foolish of me to neglect to remember that our slippery, little neighbour is connected to the world’s leading pioneer of space exploration.”
Rabbit threw an empty walnut shell at Mushroom but it missed.
Mushroom continued, “I’m not one to repeat myself but it does seem that logic has evaded you. One simply cannot trust a creature whose head looks the same as their tail.”
“That’s stupid. What about lizards who use it as a defence mechanism?”
“I haven’t met one yet but the same logic applies.”
Rabbit huffed and started to hop to his beanbag. Halfway there he stopped. He turned around, narrowed his eyes and stared back towards the garden. Mushroom met Rabbit’s gaze, “Don’t. You. Dare.”
Rabbit furrowed his brow and stuck out his tiny pink tongue.
“I’m warning you!” yelled Mushroom.
With a flash, Rabbit sprinted over to the greenery and frantically slid his tongue over each leaf. Enraged, Mushroom threw the walnut shell up in the air and head-butted it towards Rabbit. It clocked him straight between the eyes. “Ow!” Rabbit wailed and retreated to his beanbag, shrinking into a compact loaf of grey fluff.
Mushroom went back to tending his plants and Rabbit went back to sighing and shuffling. Focusing on his green pets, Mushroom tried to suppress his irritation with the sound of polystyrene balls canoodling. Eventually they both fell asleep.
Well into nightfall, a hot breeze slapped Rabbit’s cheeks and stomped on Mushroom’s toes. Their eyes met, then parted, then met, then parted.
Mushroom exhaled, “by what means are we to detect the time of midnight?”
“You can tell by the stars…I think…or maybe it’s the sun?”
Mushroom shrugged. A faint crackle echoed in the distance. “Did you hear that?”
Rabbit leapt up from his beanbag, “yes! I did hear something.” Their eyes examined the charcoal blanket above. The crackling sounded again and the sky started to explode into shards of bright light. “Oh my goodness, it’s happening!” Shrieked Mushroom.
“We have to get out of here,” insisted Rabbit, “the worm said there’s protection at the end of the creek.”
Mushroom was frozen.
Still no movement.
“Right, let’s go.” Rabbit leapt forward, turned his head to the side and scooped Mushroom up between his tiny chompers. He raced East, never looking back.
Reaching the creek, they both saw what the worm was referring to. Scattered within the dry bed were dozens of alien devices. There were clusters of small, shiny cylinders in lots of different colours. Rabbit spotted a peculiar, large object with thin metal bars, four wheels and something like “Woolwraths” printed on its handle. Other devices had long, black tails with a kind of prong at the end.
The explosions became louder and larger, lighting up the land below.
“Quick, in there!”
They jumped into a funny, metal contraption with a glass window and obscure buttons. One read “defrost” and another “30 secs”.
“Hurry, shut it!” Screamed Mushroom.
“I can’t grip it!” Panicked Rabbit.
“O.K, wait. Let’s tip it forward.”
Thump! Click. It was pitch black.
The explosions continued.
“I sincerely apologise for throwing that walnut shell at you. And I’m sorry that I’m always grumpy. Honestly, I don’t mean it; you really are my best friend.”
“I’m sorry that I tease you and that I’m immature, I know it annoys you – I should be better. You’re my best friend too.”
As the world succumbed to the technicolour rain, they held each other tightly. A few hours later, each awoke with a gasp as it was suddenly hard to breathe.
“Are we dead?” Asked Rabbit.
“I don’t believe so,” answered Mushroom.
“Is the world dead?”
“I’m afraid that is not a question I know the answer to dear friend. Let’s tip this back over.”
As the silver box rolled backward, the companions squinted out of the glass window.
“It looks green to me.” Said Rabbit.
“True and the sky looks a regular shade of blue.”
“Should we open the door?”
“Well judging from my shortness of breath I deduce that we are running out of oxygen. We’re dead if we don’t open the door and who knows if we do. I say kick it!”
Rabbit saluted, turned around and thumped his back legs against the door. Light poked them square in each eye and the wind sent a chilled gust up their noses. They began the journey home.
“Happy New Year!” the worm raised a glass from his perch on the beanbag.
“Yes. Happy New Year neighbour. If you don’t mind though, we’ve had quite an exciting evening and its time we took some rest.” Said Mushroom.
The worm simpered, “well, dear neighbour, you’re welcome to rest wherever you please. Except here of course. This is worm domain.”
Slimy dots of worm heads poked up rapidly from the garden.
“Hey! This is our house and that’s MY beanbag!” Rabbit bounded up to the worm and started to tug at the worn-out cotton.
“It’s OUR house now rodent! Rules of the forest.”
Eyes wide, Rabbit turned to Mushroom for guidance. “I’m afraid he’s correct.”
“There’s nothing we can do.” Said Mushroom.
The worm nestled into his throne. “Man, this is one comfy beanbag!” Looking at whom they could only guess were his many cousins, the worm continued “and boy are we going to have a feast tonight! I can’t remember the last time we had leaves as lush as these.”
As they wandered about Rabbit sighed, “I miss our house, what are we going to do?”
“It's going to be O.K. dear friend. Our house was just a bunch of things gathered in the same place. What made it a home was being there together.”
Rabbit smiled. “God I hate stupid worms. You were right, I never should have trusted him.”
Mushroom grinned, “Don’t worry, they’ll get their karma. You see, I was very upset with you so I laced all of the plants with fresh chilli in preparation for your next outburst. The leaves are covered in fiery juice; the little bastards won’t know what hit them!”
Roars of laughter filled the forest and Mushroom and Rabbit strode side by side, never looking back.