My friend Pan the panaphobic panda has a new phobia. He is convinced that the Easter Bunny is out to get him. We offered him a chocolate egg to calm him down but it had rather the opposite effect. Time to get out his happy pills!
Despite their reputation, the authorities from the Department of Homeland Security were really rather nice about the the whole thing. I really think they were embarrassed about firing at an airship. And missing.
When Benjamin pointed out that Pan and Yaris were endangered species and that shooting at them contravened international law, these officials became positively apologetic. They even let us tether the Magellan at Hickam Field.
So here we are at the poolside of the Hilton Hawaiian Village in Waikiki. Austen spends his time cannonballing into the pool. Pan is asleep next to a large plate that once contained bamboo. Yaris is asleep after a Kitty rubdown. Benjamin went off to take a phone call from his English cousin Gillian. She is a scientist with the Rabbit Antarctic Survey.
All seems peaceful.
Until Benjamin came in breathlessly with news. We all clustered around him.
“Gillian has amazing news. She has found the lost Penguins of Mu! But they are in great danger. The evil Nautiloids from the Challenger Deep have awoken after eons long hibernation and are heading south to their old feeding ground in Antarctica. Gillian needs our help.”
I simply sighed as we prepared to return to the Magellan.
Our trip north in the Magellan has been pleasant. We even managed to stop in Tahiti and eat in the small bistro in Papete. Yaris liked the fruit bowl!
We all got excited as we approached Hawaii. As Pearl Harbor came into view Pan wanted to know what the silver thing coming at us was.
It was an F-18.
We all had the same thought at once. Maybe we should have notified the authorities. Particularly since the date was December 7. Oops
Yaris looked out the window: “look at the pretty ships below!”
Just then a puff of smoke obscured one of the “pretty ships.” It was a missile of course. Followed by many more. Austen remarked that they might have trouble locking on to an airship.
Without warning the missile attack stopped. We looked out the windows as the attack helicopters approached. 10 20 30.
We shoved Yaris and Pan to the cockpit and told them to start waving. They wouldn’t shoot at a tiger and panda would they?
We spent the next few days at the bungalow waiting for the eruption to die down. Yaris played with Stripes and Scooner and Pan dozed most of the time in the bamboo grove. Benjamin and Austen made observations on the eruption while I stayed in the bungalow reading. Darwin tends to make me drowsy but Huxley is always entertaining.
After a few days, Austen gathered us together and said it was time to leave. We all wondered if a boat had arrived. Austen looked amused which in my experience, is not a good sign in a rabbit.
We walked through the jungle on a new path and came to a clearing. Would there be a plane, a helicopter, or some other MODERN device to travel home on?
Of course, my fears were realized. It was an airship called the Magellan. State of the art technology circa 1922. I just about asked Austen if it was helium or hydrogen but thought the better of it. I don’t want to know.
We started to go on board. Stripes and Scooner licked Yaris goodbye and waved to us as we entered the gondola. Austen went to the helm, adjusted a few levers and away we headed north to the Hawaiian Islands.
It is turning into a comfortable journey. The Magellan is very posh with 1922 style bunks, dining table and even a kitty basket for Yaris. The food is excellent with an adequate supply of coffee. We expect a pleasant flight of a few days with Hawaii as our destination.
What could possibly go wrong?
We ran as fast as we could down the path that led us to the base of the volcano. Austen explained that due to the lower side of the cauldera, the lava would flow away from us. Probably.
We continued to run down the mountain as fast as we could. We could sense the ash rising from the volcano behind us. We eventually made it safely to the jungle and the bungalow.
Pan, Yaris and the cats were waiting for us in the clearing. We explained what had happened including Benjamin starting the whole thing by tossing a stone into the volcano. He shuffled his paws as everybody stared at him.
At Austen’s suggestions, we all trooped down to the beach for a better look at the volcano. We watched in awe as the eruption continued. Benjamin contemplated the scene and uttered what were nearly his last words.
“It was only a small stone. No real harm done.”
At that point, the mountain exploded knocking all of us down. Fortunately the force of the blast was largely in the opposite direction. We stood up and gazed at the mushroom cloud as the ash rose. Austen estimated that the ash would reach South America in a couple of days. Benjamin kept muttering:
“It was only a small stone!”
Benjamin versus the volcano, or, next time we take Pan instead!
We had a very pleasant evening at Austen’s bungalow. What a magnificent rabbit he is indeed: he stocks the very best French roast coffee. We all slept very well in comfortable hammocks, except for Yaris who curled up in a Kitty basket.
The next morning as a very tasty breakfast was being cleared away, Benjamin without warning asked Pan and Yaris if they wanted to visit the volcano. Without a word, Pan and Yaris sauntered out the door. Pan was soon snoozing next to his bamboo grove and Yaris was soon playing with his kitty cat friends. I guess we had their answer.
This time, Scooner and Stripes stayed behind to look after Pan and Yaris. I went along with the two rabbits and we hiked for some time through the dense rainforest. Finally, we reached the base of Mt. Kettle and began the ascent to the rim of the crater. As Mt. Kettle is not too large, this did not take long.
Austen fiddled with a variety of measuring instruments while I took a short nap. Benjamin sat and gazed into the cauldera. There was no lava visible, just basalt.
Austen eventually finished his measurements and declared that the mountain was heading for an eruption, but it would probably be sometime in the future
In disappointment, Benjamin picked up a small stone and threw it into the volcano. Mesmerized, we watched as it travelled through the air and hit the plug of rock inside the volcano. Suddenly, cracks began to appear. Then, steam appeared, first white and then yellow. The smell of sulfur became strong. Finally, we looked through the steam and saw red.
Lava had replaced the basalt floor of the cauldera. The lava was rising: time to leave.
We ran down a path through the jungle with the spiders hot on our trail. We soon came to a small bridge over a stream which we crossed while Austen reloaded and fired again. He crossed behind us and the spiders did not follow. Austen said that the stream marked the end of their territory.
We continued on through the jungle until we came to clearing. It contained a fair sized bungalow and a lot more cats. Stripes and Scooner set Pan and Yaris down. To my surprise, Pan did not faint but exclaimed “bamboo” and headed to a clump of bamboo at the side of the clearing. Yaris got a lot of attention from the cats but as it was clearly friendly he seemed unbothered. Soon, his feline nature took over and he started playing with his new friends.
We followed Austen inside and gazed at the sight we saw. It was as if we had stepped back in time to the Victorian Age. Austen explained that the cats kept the bungalow in the same condition as when Professor Horace Holly lived there. Austen led us into the study which was crammed with books and Victorian scientific equipment. Benjamin examined a beautiful Victorian microscope while I gazed at the book collection. Amongst many other titles were Darwin’s Origin of Species and Voyage of the Beagle. I looked through an early edition of Lyell’s Principles of Geology.
Austen explained that the Rabbit Geographic Society of Australia wanted to know if Mount Kettle was going to erupt soon. We would visit the volcano TOMORROW! I think we might tell Yaris and Pan about that AFTER breakfast.
Austen told us to relax and that the two enourmous cats were just being friendly. He said their names were Scooner and Stripes and that they were his friends.Yaris and Pan eyed them suspiciously as they circled our group and purred. Benjamin went up to Stripes and petted him under the chin. Stripes purred contentedly. Scooner went up to Pan hoping for the same treatment to no avail. I petted Scooner while Yaris cowered by my side.
Austen invited us back to his bungalow where he was staying. He explained that the Rabbit Geographic Society of Australia had sent him to Me-Ow to take measurements of the volcano to see when it would next erupt. The volcano was named Mt. Kettle. It had been named by its discoverer, Professor Horace Holly because it reminded him of a tea kettle boiling over. Victorians!
As we walked through the jungle, we heard a clicking sound. Austen looked alarmed and Scooner and Stripes started hissing. The clicking got louder and Austen unslung his rifle and aimed at the direction the clicking was coming from. Without warning he fired both barrels and yelled “run.” Stripes grabbed Yaris like a cub with his teeth and Scooner did likewise with Pan. As we ran through through the jungle I looked behind us and saw spiders. Lots and lots of really large angry spiders!
We gathered around Austen to get some information on our current circumstance. Like how to get off the island immediately. Benjamin shot off questions to Austen about the island. Was it the Mysterious Island? No. The Lost World? No. Caprona? No.
Austen explained it was an uncharted island found by the Victorian explorer and scientist Professor Horace Holly. The island was named by him as the Island of Me-Ow. Yaris wanted to know why.
As if on cue there was a rustle from the jungle and to our horror, two enourmous cats leapt onto the beach. I noticed that Austen looked unworried and made no move towards his weapons. The cats went over to a trembling Yaris and far from eating him, gave him a friendly lick. At this point we realized what we were seeing: two enormous tabby cats.
In the end Pan came out of the tree drawn by hunger. Yaris was a bit more hesitant. It took a couple of well aimed coconuts to get the tiger to come down. Soon, we were all having a nice breakfast of fruit, fruit, and yes, more fruit. I would have killed for a coffee.
As Benjamin and I discussed the dosage of “happy pills” that we were going to give Pan and Yaris, we noticed that they had become agitated and were pointing at the jungle. We soon saw why.
A lone figure padded his way out of the jungle. To our immense surprise, we realized it was a rabbit. And what a rabbit! It wore a beaten up bush hat, and had a very heavy looking bandolier across his chest. He was carrying a big game style double bore rifle slung over his shoulder. He was brown coloured with patches of white. Like Benjamin, he was a lop rabbit.
“Benjamin, is that you?”
Benjamin turned to us and told us it was his Australian cousin Austen. He then hopped over and greeted his cousin.
Only Benjamin could find a cousin in the middle of nowhere. I just stood and gaped.