Johnson looked at the latest series of posts on the newsgroup. He had
just sent a reply to 'ed' about the donut-shop vanilla incident. These
people were certainly insistent about this Fudd/Devilbunny business.
He left his workstatiuon and went to ask Phil about it. Phil smiled
and said, "Come with me after work. I have something to show you..."
In due time, they left work. Johnson followed Phil to his house. He
had not been there before; it was in a rather nice older residential
area of Palo Alto, in the lower hills near the Foothills Expressway.
They went in and sat down. Maria was there, and she and Phil offered
Johnson a drink. He accepted a cola, and they began to talk. Phil
said, "I saw that last post you had on the newsgroup, and I have to
agree with you. You haven't seen any evidence of intelligent rabbits,
or devilbunnies, or a plot to enslave or destroy humanity. We can't
help you on the enslavement or destruction front, but we _can_
introduce you to a rabbit or two who may expand your mind."
"Introduce--?" Johnson said.
"Wait here," Maria said. "I've someone I'd like you to meet." She left
the room and returned with a white rabbit cradled in her arms.
"Hello," the rabbit said. "My name is Dimples."
Johnson boggled for a bit, then the old science-fiction-reader
training kicked in: you have just met a previously-unknown sentient
lifeform: behave like an Ambassador of Humanity and don't make any
potentially catastrophic social blunders. "Hello," he stammered.
"Don't feed bad; you're taking this remarkably well," said the rabbit.
She wiggled cutely in Maria's arms. "Most humans who meet me seem to
want to run away, or they exhibit an urge to kill me. It's hard to
overcome a lifetime of prejudice against the new." She visibly
shuddered and fluffed her fur.
Maria sat down, and the rabbit hopped up on the arm of her chair.
"There aren't a lot of us;" Dimples continued. "We so closely resemble
regular rabbits that we are in continual danger of being killed or
captured. So we maintain a low profile, aided by the few sympathetic
humans who know of us."
"What of these people on the Net, who seem to want to kill you? The
ones that call themselves Fudds?" Johnson said.
"Rabbits are like humans in that we have a wide variety of
temperaments and personalities, said Dimples. "Some rabbits have in
fact gone on crusades against the surrounding human society, and
because (with our teeth and claws) we are good close-order fighters,
some humans have regrettably been killed."
"But the same variation is true of humans too... and some humans
raise rabbits for food." Dimples shuddered, and her fur rose. It took
her some time to calm herself down.
Phil said, "The people who call themselves Fudds are taking the same
blind crusading tactics against all rabbits that the human-hating
rabbits took against all humans. Both are succumbing to prejudice, and
are not looking at the facts."
Maria said, "You may have seen references to environmentally-friendly
organizations being fronts for 'Devilbunny' activities. This is a
distortion of the truth."
Dimples continued, "We are largely (though not exclusively)
vegetarians, and as such are much more quickly affected by pollutants
and habitat destruction than humans. We do tend to support
evironmental organizations, but we do not control them. There is too
much grass-roots activity going on among humans in this area for us to
have a hope of controlling it."
"No, we intelligent rabbits are largely benign. We would tend to say
that humans are the problem, but again, that would simply be
succumbing to prejudice. That being said, however, we do acknowledge
that _some_ humans are a danger to the environment. You may have seen
Fudds mentioning that many corporations are Devilbunny-infiltrated?"
"Yes," Johnson said.
"Well, that too is a distortion. We and our sympathizers are in fact
trying to influence or win control of certain corporations- but again,
those corporations are the ones that strip-mine the seas, cut down the
rainforests and use the wood for throwaway packaging, etc, all in the
search of short-term profits. We are doing no different than many
humans in trying to get this menace under control." She fell silent.
Johnson contemplated the rabbit. Maria went out to the kitchen to get
some water for Dimples, and Phil appeared to be writing in a journal.
Eventually Phil looked up and said, "It's getting rather late, and
there's work tomorrow. I want to get some sleep, and you're going to
have a lot to think about tonight. I'd definitely like to continue
this conversation, though..." He got up.
Maria reappeared with water, and set it down near Dimples, who hopped
to the table and began to drink.
Johnson got up, and the three humans moved to the front door. Phil
opened the door and said, do you know your way back to the apartment
Johnson said, "Yes, thanks," and stepped outside. Maria appeared in
the doorway, and both she and Phil waved. Johnson was opening his car,
when Maria suddenly ran over and said quietly, "I saw those notes you
posted on the devilbunnies newsgroup. I like the way you debated ed. I
am not going out with anyone right now, but I might possibly be
convinced otherwise in the future..." She quickly hugged Johnson and
ran back to the house.
Johnson was too surprised to react. He got in his car and started it.
The lights came on; he tooted his horn and waved to the people in the
doorway. He could see that Maria was now holding Dimples again.
Then he backed out of the driveway and headed back towards Sunnyvale.
[End of Part Seven. Next part: "In Training I"