Benjamin versus the volcano

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.

Darwin would have felt at home

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!

Island of Me-Ow

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.

No Worries

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.

Island Paradise?

When I think of all the islands in the South Pacific we could float ashore onto, a certain image comes to mind. Something like Maui or Bora Bora. A nice lagoon with a 5 star resort. As soon as we land, go to reception and book a room and make reservations for dinner. Lounge by the pool. Unfortunately, that is not the sort of island that we landed on. Let me put it this way: I would not be overly surprised to see Fay Wray running down the beach pursued by King Kong.

We were all very happy when we saw we were drifting towards an island. We were even more pleased when the sharks began to move off, until Benjamin with his keen rabbit senses observed that the sharks seemed to be afraid of the island. Yaris and Pan waved ” bye bye to the sharkies.”

As we floated ashore, Yaris and Pan ran to the tree line and gorged themselves on pineapple and coconut and promptly fell asleep. We were sitting around the fire Benjamin had made when the two of them woke up. We discussed what the island might have in store for us. First, we observed the volcano a few miles away. It looked on the verge of eruption, of course. Then there was the sound of drumming coming from the jungle. Pan unhelpfully suggesting somone preparing dinner

At this point Yaris started pacing about and yelped when he fell in a pothole. When we all went to help, we realized that it was not a pothole. It was a very large pawprint and Yaris quickly climbed a palm tree. What was impressive was the way Pan, a panda, followed him. I did not know pandas could climb trees, particularly at such speed.

Benjamin began collecting coconuts. He explained it was to lure Pan and Yaris down in the morning. And if that did not work, we could throw the coconuts at them and knock them down!

What could possibly go wrong?

Ask a silly question?  We are currently sitting in a life raft after having encountered some “turbulence.” I intend on writing a stern review of Gilligan’s Airline on Tripadvisor.

We seem to have good cell coverage here. First, we called the US Coast Guard for help. They were very apologetic about not being able to save us. Apparently due to the budget deadlock in Washington, they don’t have the money to get us.  They transfered us to Tahitian Air Sea Rescue. Benjamin’s French is a bit rusty and although no rescue seems forthcoming, we do have a reservation at a small bistro in Papete tonight.

We sent an E-mail to Gilligan’s Airline. They sent us an auto response saying they would get back to us in no longer than ten days, and that they value us as customers.

Yaris the tiger and Pan the panda are taking this rather well, no doubt due to the strong dose of “happy” pills they have ingested. They are giggling and waving their paws about and playing a new game they have made up. It is called “who can count the most killer shark fins circling the raft.”

At least we have good 3g service. Benjamin can finish reading this month’s National Geographic before we perish from thirst or are eaten!

Off to the South Pacific

I am taking a break from work and going on a short vacation. Benjamin thought it would be good if we took Yaris the tiger and Pan the panda to a self-help conference in Maui. Yaris has a phobia about feline predators, particularly other tigers. Pan, being panaphobic, is afraid of just about everything. Hopefully this conference will help.

Benjamin got some really cheap airline tickets online. Some new low fare airline serving the South Pacific. It is called Gilligan’s Airline. What could possibly go wrong?

Predator Alert

It has been really hectic at work for the last week. Thought I would relax with some friends last night and watch a movie. I made the mistake of letting my brother Seamus pick the movie. He chose a movie about lions eating people in East Africa in the 1890’s. He is trying to improve his predator status as he is frankly about as scary as a baby bunny.

The result was predictable. Even the pandas are still not afraid of Seamus. Yaris the tiger on the other hand is now convinced that lions are out to get him. We will try to convince him otherwise as soon as we get him to come out from under the bed!

Wings of Death

Rolly the raccoon came to our law firm today to discuss the probate of the will of Leta the churchmouse as the lawyer for the primary beneficiary. His suit probably costs more than my annual salary, and the leather his briefcase is made out of allegedly came from the pelt of a client who refused to pay his bill.

Since I was the paralegal who drafted the wretched will, I have been assigned the probate. My first task is to find a litigation attorney for our firm in case the raccoons go nuclear. We used to call on a firm of rats, but they quit and moved to Big Sur and opened a meditation center. Sharks have a good reputation but that is offset by their tendency to eat their clients. Grizzly bear are a problem since after a few sips of coffee they often rip their opposition to shreds. This is not helpful in an arbitration hearing.

I eventually found a barn owl named Barnaby. On his California State Bar profile it shows he has a nickname of “Wings of Death.” Sounds promising.