Book of the Dun Slag

"Follow him, George. See where he goes."

Down the bunny hole (place of underground mutton, land of Hop) to a cove lit by fitful sunlight. George ducked and scrabbled down a stony hillface where ancient stones drowsed in entangling greenery and far below the sea murmured as it rolled in, I know something you don't. On the tilted and broken gravestones carven skulls stared enigmatically upon crossed bones. People had said these were the graves of pirates, of plague victims (the owner of a house just above the cove said that, and who was to naysay him), or that it was just a symbol meaning death and that the pirates had taken it from that symbol so if they unfurled the Jolly Roger it was as good as saying,

You're dead.

not the other way about. 

There was no sign of the strange creature George had been following and he wondered if it had ever been real, whether it stole from the shadows and faded back into them. He remembered a voice from the past, long ago in a far city, when something similar happened:

They are not coming out of the shadows.

They are the shadows. And they are moving.

But that had been a time of handbrake turns and wide lapels and bad beer in smoky pubs -- how had they ever survived? he wondered sometimes. Some hadn't, a blow too many with a pickaxe handle, too much of the poison flowing through them, or being run down with a dodgy motor or blown away with an equally dodgy handgun in a shed at Heathrow. George had been to police funerals in his time and they never got easier. 

He skidded to a halt below a line of deserted beach huts and watched the sea. Something coalesced, pushing up out of the waves, taking form, staggering, stumbling. He thought of long-ago stories of mermaids, washed up on the beach, found by people going to church; but the church on the hillside behind him was long since abandoned even then so what was going on? The sacrifice of a sea creature, a kind of almadraba, what?

The thing staggered closer, water pouring off its blackened flesh, and now he could see the broken teeth, the ragged ears, the muzzle of the thing, trying to remain unnaturally upright like a bunny walking on its hind legs. What tottered towards him had once been a ....

don't even think it, George told himself while at the back of his mind something ticked away about the sea caves and things that came out of there and the unnaturally bright sunlight on the water behind the long-dead bunny hurt his eyes so he looked away. It looked down at the stones beneath its feet and somewhere far away a crack and the rumbling of detached rock sliding, sliding. Birds spumed out of the cliffs. The sea shone bright silver and the black, dead thing lumbered closer and closer still.

What do you want, he thought, the ancient catechism that had been behind that case all those years ago. What does any human-sized zombie rabbit want? I couldn't say.

The End

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