Looking around, I see people struggling. I see people in pain. And it hurts, it hurts me to see all that. We all have problems. But what will I do? Sit around, mope, and watch the world fall apart around me? Nah, that's not my style. I'm better than that.
-Bright Side, Scattered Thoughts (blog dot highlonelyhills dot com slash brightside)
-Is everyone all right? inquired Pipkin as soon as he emerged from the pile of apples.
-Mostly, answered Bigwig, at the other end of the wagon.
-I never want to ride in another hrududu for the rest of my life, complained Blackberry.
-Now that we're stopped, we better go and see how the others are doing, decided Bigwig. Hopefully they are all right.
The three rabbits slowly got out of the wagon. Luckily, the train had not derailed and the wagon was still upright. It had stopped in the middle of a large field of corn. They jumped into the field and went to search for the others.
It did not take them long to find them. Hazel and Hyzenthlay had several cuts across their body and were slowly getting up. Spartina was sitting nearby, trying to remove a twig that had gotten stuck in her feather.
-Embleer hrududil! she complained. Nasty creatures, aren't they?
-That's quite an understatement, added Blackberry.
-What just happened? wondered Hazel.
-I pushed you off the hrududu, reminded Spartina.
-I thought it was Hyzenthlay.
-She pushed you once, and I did it again afterwards. It's a long story, do want me to tell you the whole thing?
-Not really...is everyone all right?
-Everyone's here, and nobody seems to have suffered any injuries, said Bigwig. So where do we go now?
-Wait. What's that noise? asked Hyzenthlay. It sounds like the loudest bumblebee I ever heard.
All rabbits raised their ears to try to pinpoint the origin of the noise.
-It's that thing in the sky, noticed Pipkin.
-Frith and Inlé, that is the largest bumblebee I have ever seen! exclaimed Bigwig, half-tharn. Nobody move, and hopefully it will ignore us!
What the rabbits thought was a bumblebee was actually a police helicopter, sent to investigate the cause of the accident and transport any victims to safety. It soon landed in the field close to the train and several police officers got off and went to the locomotive.
Kehaar cautiously approached the helicopter.
-Be careful! warned Hazel. You don't want to get stung by that thing.
Ignoring Hazel, Kehaar kept getting closer to the helicopter, and once he was standing next to it, he poked it a few times with his beak. It did not move.
-Ees not boomblebee! Ees hooleecptre! Ees flyin hrududu!
-A hrududu? repeated Bigwig in disbelief. But that's impossible. Hrududil can't fly.
-There is much more to hrududil than you could ever imagine, said Spartina mysteriously.
-It may have been flying, but it's still a hrududu, reminded Blackberry. Let's get out of here. Which way should we go?
The rabbits looked around them. For as far as they could see in all directions, there was nothing but tall plants.
-Towards the flying hrududu, announced Hyzenthlay suddenly.
-I am not taking another hrududu, declared Blackberry.
-There is no other way out of this field. I don't think any of you managed to see its size while you were on the hrududu, but I did. It keeps going forever, we would never be able to make it out. Also, we can't see very far in front of us, we don't know what could be hiding in these plants. Therefore, I think taking a hrududu would be the only way we could leave.
-Ya, ya, ees tru, confirmed Kehaar. Dis place is plenty peeg!
-That makes sense, agreed Hazel. Does anyone have anything else to suggest?
Everyone was silent at this, except Blackberry:
-I already told you: this hrududu that nearly fell of the iron road is the last one I'm taking.
-Apparently it's not, said Bigwig menacingly. Unless you can think of an alternative, you are going to obey your chiefs. Am I making myself clear?
All six rabbits slowly made their way towards the helicopter, and jumped inside. Almost immediately afterwards, the two police officers came back, carrying the engineer on a stretcher. They soon secured it inside the helicopter and took off.
-What's the matter, Hlao-roo? asked Hazel, seeing him look slightly depressed.
-I smelled that human over there. He's ill.
-It's a human! Humans are elil! shouted Bigwig, infuriated. Why do you care?
-Maybe because this human saved all our lives today? explained Spartina. He's the one who stopped the hrududu, after all. Why are you always so harsh?
-Not all humans are evil, Bigwig, insisted Pipkin. I'm going to see if there is anything I can do for him. In his current state, he couldn't hurt me even if he wanted to.
-And just what do you expect to do?
-I'm going to send positive waves to help him get better.
-Positive waves? What are you talking about?
-Threar has been telling me about this a while ago when we were still at the Down. I'm going to try it out.
With that, he lied down next to the stretcher and remained motionless, although he seemed to be concentrating. Hyzenthlay whispered in Bigwig's ear:
-You know how Threar inherited Fiver's powers? It's one of those things. Unfortunately, Pipkin doesn't have any such powers, so he's wasting his time.
-I'm going to tell him.
-That would only depress him, he's feeling good over what he's doing right now. And don't worry about the human, I'll try to send those waves.
Bigwig stared at the two rabbits lying next to each other trying to help the human. He pulled Hazel aside.
-I just can't take it anymore. I know I did something very bad when I asked Spartina to be my mate, but since then I've been trying to set things right. Every attempt I made failed, and I'm probably making things worse. Just what should I do? What did you do talk about when you first met Hyzenthlay?
-We didn't really talk much. She was very excited to finally experience freedom.
-What should I talk to Spartina about, without making things worse?
-I really don't know. I...
-Maybe I should ask about her feather?
-Aren't you afraid that...
-Thank you Hazel, you've been very helpful.
-But I didn't say anything!
"Bigwig can be really strange, sometimes", he thought.
Bigwig slowly approached Spartina, trying his best to remain unnoticed. Unfortunately for him, she soon realized what he was doing.
-What do you want?
-What's the matter with my ear?
A look of panic appeared on Spartina's face. She put one of her front paws in the ear where the feather was, to verify that it was still there.
-Oh thank Frith it hasn't fallen off. It would be really annoying to lose it after so long.
-But...why is it there?
-It was put there when I was a kitten for an owsla training exercise back in Darkhaven. I had to run a long distance without it falling off.
-I suppose it didn't...
-Of course it didn't. As you can see, it's still there.
-But...what holds it there?
-There is a small hole at the base of my ear, where the feather is inserted.
-That must hurt.
-Not really. I was a kitten and my ear wasn't fully formed when this was done. My ear grew around the feather, so it is still there and it doesn't hurt.
At this, Bigwig fell silent. He had asked about the feather and received an answer. However, there was nothing more to say about it, and he did not know what to say now. He remained there, motionless, trying desperately to find a way to continue the conversation, but was unable to think of anything.
The helicopter, by this point, had landed at the the Halifax Stanfield International Airport. An ambulance was waiting on the helipad to carry the engineer to the nearest hospital. As soon as it had landed, the stretcher was carried inside and the vehicle rushed away from the scene.
The rabbits startled at the loud noise of the ambulance's siren, and bolted in random directions. After the hrududu had vanished, Hazel went to search for the others. He found Hyzenthlay, Bigwig, Pipkin and Spartina rather easily, but it took them a long time to find Blackberry. They only succeeded in locating him after Kehaar arrived and helped them; he was hiding in a drain pipe near the helipad. Unfortunately, as a result, he was covered in mud.
-I've had enough! he complained as he started to clean himself. Nothing good happened to us since we left the Down. Every single time we got close to humans, one of us ended up getting hurt in one way in another. And you, Hyzenthlay, why did you have to have to rescue that stupid rabbit with a feather who only caused Bigwig all these problems? We were supposed to find Fiver and Vilthuril, and at one point we were very close to finding them, but Kehaar showed up and ruined everything. That was hrair days ago, they are surely dead by now.
All the other rabbits listened to Blackberry's rant without reacting. The only one who spoke was Kehaar:
-O, meester Plackperry ees veree veree mad! Anyvay, dis ees vere I leave you. I go pack to peeg vater. Vere you go now, meester 'azel?
Hazel showed no sign of having heard the seagull. It was Hyzenthlay who spoke:
-We're going to go inside a flying hrududu. I feel it's the only way we can get out of this place. Before you leave, could you distract the humans while we go inside.
-Hazel, Hyzenthlay says we're taking another hrududu. Please convince her not to make us do this! implored Blackberry.
-Right...take a hrududu...which way...Hazel struggled to say, having not really paid attention to what Blackberry had told him.
Hyzenthlay led the other five rabbits to the other end of the helipad, across a small field, through a tunnel she dug under a fence, until they finally came upon the runway where the airplane she had seen in her vision was awaiting takeoff. Kehaar had no trouble distracting the sole guard while the rabbits climbed the stairs. As they reached the top, Bigwig stopped.
-We're very grateful for everything you did to help us during our journey, Kehaar.
-Ees noddings, meester Pigvig. Now I go pack to peeg vater!
With a lengthy cry, he flew away before Bigwig could reply. All six rabbits went to hide under the first seat they could find.
-It's crowded here, Hazel, don't you think we should look for another place to hide? suggested Bigwig. Hazel?
Hazel was sitting in a corner, staring blankly in front of him. Pipkin approached him.
-What's the matter, Hazel-rah?
-Blackberry is right. Fiver has stopped running.
-Get that silly idea out of your head. Fiver can't stop running just like that. His visions would warn him of any danger. We have no proof that he stopped running.
-You can't really believe this yourself. You should know better. All this time since he vanished from the warren, he couldn't possibly survive that.
-You must not lose hope. That is what has kept us going ever since we left Sandleford Warren.
-I don't think they stopped running, interjected Hyzenthlay. I can feel it.
-It's no use, replied Hazel. They are both in Inlé. We might as well face it now. We can't keep going on false hopes and feelings.
-Blackberry, said Bigwig, I have to talk to you. Alone.
Blackberry's ears dropped to the sides of his head as he realized what that meant. He was the one who had depressed Hazel with his rant, and now he had to suffer the consequences. Nevertheless, dealing with an angry Bigwig was something all rabbits tried to avoid whenever they could.