HEDGEHOG AND WHITE RABBIT
Dreamed 1972/12/1 by Chris Wayan
A war zone. A lone man bikes through dangerous valleys. His girlfriend covers him with a lasergun from a ridge. Only it's not a real valley, but a set: they're rehearsing an off-Broadway play. But the laser fire is real. And so's his goal: if he makes it to the plywood mountaintop, his reward will be total liberation. The cost is real too: death, if he fails. And he does, inevitably--snipers all around.
But they anticipated this, these two, and set up a trick. Before the scene opened, he turned into a hedgehog who's ready to leave acting, leave drama for good. He hid under the stage; and then this hedgehog induces an out-of-body experience of being his human self! So the stage-self isn't vulnerable to much, being little more than a living, vivid ghost. He tests the path and is shot down, yes, but he can try again as many times as he likes! His girlfriend shelters in the prompter-box and traces the enemy laserfire and calls suggestions to him.
Finally he gets it right--he reaches the mountaintop. He's free--free of his contract! His soul re-enters the hedgehog, and scurries out of the theater. His girlfriend pops down out of the prompter and follows him.
Outside, it's winter, in New York. Brr! The hedgehog dodges traffic, and his girlfriend follows him to Central Park. Broad snowy meadows...
But despite the promise given on the mountaintop, the theater people chase them. A slow race across the snowfield, while around them, at the park's edge, faint in the winter haze, steaming monoliths loom. She's not a tall girl and the snow is deep; she lags and flounders. The drama crew is nearing. Their lasers are getting close. "Go on!" she yells to him. But he won't abandon her. Rather than hold him back, she too changes--to a white rabbit, camouflaged in the snow.
She scampers to the far side of the meadow and into the trees, but... she gasps with the shock of the cold. She's from California, she's not built for the bone-chilling New York cold. Just a small subtropical bunny in Megalopolis! He tries to rouse her, but already she's chill and dreamy.
She freezes to death in his paws. The drama crew is nearing, so he hastily buries her in the snow and lures them away from her body.
That night he returns, and drags her corpse home to his burrow. Yes, he has a burrow. He's a shapeshifter--who knows which form came first, the hedgehog or the man? Maybe he's a Central Park animal, born for the stage, who made himself a man to reach for his dream. That's why he hasn't given up on her: she may be a frozen little rabbit, but she's still a shapeshifter. Transformation's in her blood. Maybe she can revive.
The hedgehog lights a fire and hangs a great cauldron over it (well, a two-quart soup pot, but to a small mammal it's a bathtub). He tips his ice-block girlfriend into the warming water, and slowly thaws her.
But... she comes apart. Rabbit stew is all that's left of her.
Still he won't give up. He slowly warms and softens her further, till she dissolves into amino-acid soup.
And it works. Her consciousness reawakens in a fluid form. Conscious soup!
She loved him enough to save him; now it's his turn to figure out a way to free HER from the rabbit stew... Just another phase change. From a California girl to a white rabbit to sentient soup--is this any further, really?
But that's been their story all along, the stage-struck hedgehog and the laser bunny. Failing and dying and trying again, helping each other through thick and thin.
Very thin, just now. But hardly their first time. Or their last.
NOTES IN THE MORNING
"I'm not the kind to complain that I never had a girl to loveAt his wedding, "speak now or forever hold your peace" the hedgehog runs up the aisle and blocks it...
Many fine girl I try hard to know but I guess I never tried enough
every time I be kissing on a girl and absolutely nothing is wrong
Dis funny little hedgehog comes up to me and he starts in a-singing dis song!
"Oh you know all de words and you sung all de notes but you never quite learned de song she sung
I can tell by de sadness in your eyes dat you never quite learned de song."
"and now I'll be looking all my days, and it isn't just me I gotta please!
there's this funny little hedgehog who's ALWAYS around and the only words he'll say to me are THESE:
oh you know all de words..."
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