“Thank you for your cooperation, now I’d like to tell you a story”, said the Rabbit. “Not every holiday is happy. Easter just like Christmas, has had its share of bloodshed.”
Mankind has always regarded the egg as a symbol of fertility and rebirth. The coloring of Easter eggs pre-dates Christian beliefs as colored ostrich eggs have been found in Africa dated at over 60,000 years old. Similar eggs have been found on the burial grounds and in the artwork of the ancient Egyptian and Sumerian cultures. Early Christians are said to have begun coloring eggs red in remembrance of Christ’s crucifixion.
Nearly every part of the globe celebrates the Easter holiday in the form of an egg hunt. There’s the Imperial Easter Nest Hunt in Vienna, Austria. The Capella D.C. Easter Egg Hunt in Washington D.C., the Magical Egg Hunt on Table Mountain in Cape Town, South Africa, even The Great Egg Hunt of Sydney Australia. However, there is none more highly regarded as The Big Egg Hunt of New York City which boasts a spectacular prize, a chance to win a real crystal egg.
“Come on, we’ve got to hurry or we won’t make the bus!” shouted Donald Wallace from the downstairs foyer. He glanced at his watch again, less than 20 minutes to make the bus.
“But dad it’s almost 4:30am! Whose idiotic idea was this, anyway?” asked 12 year old Donna Wallace. She was about to complain more but remembered this was the last event her mother had planned for the family before she’d unexpectedly passed away. When you added the passing of her uncle back in January, the year had not been kind to the Wallace clan.
She glanced at her father, pain still fresh in his eyes. “Sorry Dad, I’ll be ready in a second”.
“I’ll go start the car”, Don mumbled.
Donna rushed down the hall, eyes half closed, and smashed into her younger brother.
His glasses fell on the carpet. “Hey, watch where you’re going”, sneered 10 year old Douglas.
Fully dressed, he addressed his sister with contempt “I can’t believe you’re not ready”.
“Oh, go stick a rabbit leg up your ass!”, she retorted.
“Gross and unsanitary”, responded Doug with a sour look on his face.
Donna dressed very quickly and quietly slipped into the front seat of the car before her younger brother had even left the house.
“No fair, I called shot gun”, shouted Doug, reluctantly jumping into the back seat.
“You snooze you lose”, retorted Donna.
“Dad?”, cried Doug, hoping to appeal to his father’s better judgment.
“Donna please, you’re the adult here”, said their father gently.
Doug stuck out his tongue, in the hope of irritating his sibling further.
“Fine, you can have it on the way home”, said Donna hoping to diffuse the situation.
Doug folded his arms, gave her a menacing stare but put on his seatbelt.
“Thank you both for getting ready so quickly, your mother would be proud”, said Don Wallace.
“Where are we going anyway?” asked Donna.
“Some kind of private Easter Egg hunt, tour busses, the whole nine yards, should be fun.”
“I hope so”, said Doug. “I could use a good adventure.”
“Sounds expensive”, said Donna, fully aware of her family’s financial status since her mother’s passing, the medical bills had cost a small fortune.
“Don’t worry, your mother took care of all that”, answered Donald reassuringly. His wife had been the brains of the relationship, always planning, till the very end.
They reached the designated parking area and found two tour buses waiting. The other families were already filing on the buses. He was surprised how desolate the parking area seemed, so far from the downtown events, but this was likely part of a bigger plan, perhaps a way to beat the milling crowds of New Yorkers outside.
“We made it, right on time”, remarked Don.
“Holy smokes! Check out those rabbits! It’s like a cartoon come to life!”, said Doug, pointing towards the busses.
Operating each bus was what appeared to be an enormous man dressed in a Rabbit Suit.
They waived to the new arrivals and pointed to a nearby parking spot.
“Well, that’s not something you see everyday”, said Don.
As cheerful as the costumes might appear Donna felt a strange sense of foreboding as they parked and approached the nearest bus. “I think it’s creepy”, she said.
As they exited their vehicle, one of the Rabbits approached with a clipboard.
“Happy Easter Folks! Can I have your last name please?”
“Wallace”, answered Don.
The Rabbit looked over the clipboard. “Wallace, I have it right here, it says party of four?”
The Rabbit turned his head to one side implying a frown. “My wife won’t be joining us”.
“Pity! She’s going to miss all the fun!” He led them to the nearest bus.
“We’re separating the children from the adults this year, gives them more time to play and the parents a much deserved break. The adult bus has complimentary pastries, Irish Coffee and mimosas”.
“Well…ok”, said Donald a bit apprehensively.
“The two buses run together and will arrive at the same destination simultaneously, no need to worry”, the Rabbit assured. He stepped aside and motioned Donald on the bus.
Donald looked to his daughter. “Keep an eye on Doug for me?”
“Sure Dad”, said Donna with a nod.
Don ruffled his son’s hair, “Be good for your sister, I’ll see you both in a little while”.
He turned and got on the bus. The Rabbit took the children to the other bus.
In no time they were on their way…
As the parents drank their complimentary Irish coffee and got acquainted with one another, the children drank hot chocolate and did the same.
No one noticed the buses taking such an unusual route to the city. Eventually they arrived at a dark and secluded parking lot.
“Hey? This isn’t an egg hunt. What’s going on here?”, said District Attorney Kramer.
He pulled out his cell phone to call his police brethren but found it was dead.
“Your cell phones have been disabled”, said the Rabbit.
He got up from the driver’s seat holding a pistol, “You’re children are safe…for now.”
He motioned to the side of the bus, the second bus was visible, the faces of their children pressed to the window. Standing behind them, brandishing a shotgun, was the second Rabbit.
The parents were shell-shocked, a groan eventually went up amongst the frightened group.
“What do you bastards want?” asked Robert Gordon, a wealthy stock broker from Long Island.
The Rabbit laughed. “Well, first I want you all to check your cell phones, you will find them working again. Access the icon I have installed on your home screen, I want you to transfer one hundred thousand dollars per family member, present today, to the accounts I have listed.”
“And if we don’t?” contested District Attorney Kramer. “Might I remind you, you’re already at 30 years in prison and counting?”
“My partner will execute every child on the bus and you will be responsible for their deaths District Attorney Kramer!”
The District Attorney’s eyes widened.
“That’s right, I know who you are, now hold your tongue! To the rest of you, I know you’ve got the money, this is just a drop in the bucket for you so make it happen, now!”
The parents all worked their cell phones and made the necessary transfer of funds.
Once the transaction was completed, the Rabbit collected the cell phones in a bag and threw them into the glove compartment of the bus.
“Thank you for your cooperation, now, I’d like to tell you a story”, said the Rabbit. “Not every holiday is happy. Easter just like Christmas, has had its share of bloodshed.”
“We just paid you 1.8 million dollars, what else could you possibly want from us, you evil man”, sneered Meredith Welch, a wealthy Wall Street attorney.
The Rabbit scoffed, “I want your blood, Meredith, all you have to give me.”
Meredith looked away frightened, the Rabbit continued with a chuckle.
“You’ve all benefited from a proper education. Surely, you recall the Colfax massacre of Louisiana? It happened in 1873. A riot broke out amongst a group of church-going folks and 153 people died one sunny Easter afternoon”, the Rabbit paused for effect.
“Or perhaps you recall the murderous rampage of Mr. James Rupert, who killed 11 members of his family one fine Easter Sunday.”
“Where is all of this going”, demanded District Attorney Joseph Kramer, nearly jumping up out of his seat “You’ve already gone too far. I swear, I’ll have your head for this!”
“In due time Mr. Kramer, I may have yours but if you interrupt me again, your family will pay the price!” said the Rabbit with a hiss. He raised his weapon for effect.
Elizabeth Kramer grabbed her husband’s arm and the hotheaded man quickly sat back down.
The Rabbit resumed, “However, no horror was worse than what occurred in 1986, a faulty gas line killed 216 apartment residents in Queens on Easter Sunday”.
“The Pratt Street Tragedy”, said Donald Wallace with a sigh.
“Bingo! You did pay attention in class Mr. Wallace, bravo. The Pratt Street tragedy as it is now known, grabbed the media attention of the world. The city of New York wanted justice but in the end the owners of the building, a group of college students, walked away free. The crime was mysteriously swept under the rug. Now here’s the million dollar question, do you know who those students were?”
“Our parents?” responded Frank Welch, trying to make up for his wife’s earlier outburst.
A gasp went up amongst the parents.
“Correct, Mr. Welch and might I say, it sounds as if some of our spouses have been left out in the proverbial dark in regards to your murderous past”, commented the Rabbit in a gleeful tone.
In an audible whisper, meant for her husband, Elizabeth Kramer said “On his death bed, my father mumbled something about paying off a judge”.
“Why didn’t you tell me this before?” asked the District Attorney, a shocked look on his face.
“Everybody has their dirt, even you!” Elizabeth hissed.
“Direct your eyes to the back of the bus”, interrupted the Rabbit.
He kept in proximity of the couple, apparently eavesdropping on their conversation.
A light went on outside. The side of a shipyard wall illuminated an old man dressed in judge’s robes. He was crucified on a cheap cross made of Basswood, a crudely fashioned crown of thorns lay around his bald head.
The gruesome sight frightened parents and sent the buss into an uproar.
“I give you Judge Harold T. Spurnip, who accepted a 15,000 bribe in 1986. He has now paid for his sins and has received absolution in the eyes of his Lord.”
“We’ll give you more money, whatever you want! Just don’t hurt our children!”, screamed business consultant Mike Daughtry whose wife, Amy had just fainted from the sight.
The Rabbit ignored the offer. “Now, let me enlighten you on a part of the story that never appeared in the papers. There were two survivors of the Pratt Street tragedy, two brothers thought to have been ‘severely brain damaged’ as a result of inhaling toxic fumes. Their family all died, perished in the tragedy, so they were thrown into the system, a life of villainous treatment centers and sadistic foster homes, while you, the children of those who caused this tragedy, lived in upper class homes, attending the best schools, not a fucking care in the world!”
“That was something our parents did 30 years ago, what can we do?” asked Mike Daughtrey.
“Do you know the history of Easter Mr. Daughtery?” the Rabbit asked calmly.
“Kids hunting for eggs?” interrupted District Attorney Kramer.
“Wrong Mr. Kramer, you are as rude as you are stupid.” responded the Rabbit.
“A celebration of Christ’s resurrection?” asked Meredith Welch.
“Ahhh! The biblical connotation, the popular belief Meredith but sadly not really what I am going for at this moment, although biblical references will become important shortly.”
“You see, according to the venerable Bede, Easter was originally a feast in honor of the Goddess Eostre, the true goddess of rebirth. The egg was her symbol. She is drawn in literature as a bird, hatching from an egg, bringing new life into the world! Ancestors of the Pratt Street Tragedy, my brother and I have suffered greatly from crimes precipitated by YOUR parents. From death we will find new life, this will be OUR rebirth.”
A groan went up amongst the parents, the Rabbit was pleased. He opened the door of the bus.
“Everybody out, no funny stuff, let it be known I have no qualms shooting anyone who resists, dead on the spot, and might I remind you that your children would bear witness to YOUR unpleasant demise.”
He marched the flabbergasted adults off.
The children watched their parents slowly disappear into the darkness.
A couple of the younger children started to whimper.
“Don’t cry… everything will turn out as planned.” said Rabbit #2 to his tiny captors.
His walkie-talkie unexpectedly roared to life. “Ready?”
The Rabbit turned to the children. “Time to exit the bus.”
Rabbit #1 marched his occupants to a dark boat house.
“I didn’t realize we were close to water.” said recently recovered Amy Daughtry to her husband.
“Keep it down.” ordered the Rabbit.
Inside the boat house was dark. A single light illuminated a makeshift altar in the center. On the altar was a slaughtered lamb.
“Disgusting.” said Elizabeth Kramer in a whisper.
As District Attorney Kramer walked past the lamb, he grabbed the knife that protruded from it. The Rabbit appeared not to notice.
“How disgusting, you vile man!” screamed Meredith Welch, ready to vomit.
“You find traditional Christian practices disgusting Mrs. Welch? I am surprised, considering the way you bleed the poor and uneducated to keep your husband in Armani suits.” said the Rabbit.
“Go to hell!” said Frank Welch trying to calm his woozy wife.
“Your families have already sent me there.” hissed the Rabbit.
He led them to a small room just beyond the makeshift altar.
“Since I am not good with formalities, I will get straight to the point. I have no intention of murdering your children today although I personally lost my 6 year old sister, 4 year old cousin and newly born stepbrother to your parent’s greed. I see no reason to shed the blood of innocents to gain my rebirth. However, you are a different matter entirely. Your children are on their way to Prall’s Island where they will be held until our little game is over.”
“What do you want from us?” asked Amy Daughtery.
“I thought that would be quite obvious by now Amy, I want your blood. As I said before, there are 8 children but there are 10 of you, according to Eostre, two of you must die!” said the Rabbit.
“You’re a mad man!” said Elizabeth Kramer.
“Your father paid a judge for two hundred deaths, I only want two!” retorted the Rabbit.
“We’re not guilty of our parent’s sins, half of us didn’t even know about it!” said Don Wallace.
“Ahh! That’s true Mr. Wallace but half of you did know! You’ve admitted so tonight, you knew your parents were murderers and did nothing! In my mind that makes you as guilty as the murderers themselves. You spent your life profiting from my loss!”
“I’m am sorry.” said Amy Daughtery “We are all sorry, if I knew I would have helped.”
“I’m afraid it’s too late. You choose which two of you will pay for the sins of the others, I will give you 30 minutes to decide, if you cannot decide I will kill you all. Please don’t do that for your children’s sake, I beg you.”
When the Rabbit turned to leave, District Attorney Kramer pulled out the knife he pilfered from the slaughtered lamb and plunged. “You self-righteous sonofabitch!” he screamed.
The Rabbit whirled around, leaving the District Attorney to stab air. He calmly shot the law enforcer in the face, blood powdering the front of his Easter costume. He stood over the body and dropped a few extra shots for effect.
“Since District Attorney Kramer has so graciously offered his life”, he said giving the body a swift kick “I now only need 1 of you to offer yours.”
With his gun trained on his hostages, the Rabbit opened the door and dragged the body away.
“15 minutes.” he said tossing a box of matches at Donald Wallace. “I suggest drawing lots.”
The Rabbit left, door locked behind him.
Wallace turned around and threw the box of matches to the floor. “I don’t like this.” he said.
“I agree.” said Merideth Welch. “Who’s to say he doesn’t kill us all?”
“You heard the man, he seems reasonable.” said Mike Daughtery.
“Our children’s lives are at stake, we have no choice.” agreed his wife Amy.
Elizabeth crying in a corner, pleaded to the others “I’m exempt, my husband just died!”
“Ok, let’s leave her out of this, agreed?” said Don Wallace to no one in particular.
Robert Gordon picked up the box of matches.
“I hate to say this folks but we’ve got to draw these lots, the children are what matters.”
That said he shook up the box and passed it around. The room was quiet, the air was tense.
When everyone had drawn their lots Gordon said “Well, let’s compare them.”
With sweat pouring off his brow Donald Wallace approached the others, his match stick was tiny.
“Looks like you’ve got the smallest stick Mr. Wallace.”
Wallace looked at the others with tears visible in his eyes. “I… know.” he stammered. “I… just want… you all to know, my wife died in a car accident two weeks ago, we have no other family left, will you… please take care of my children?”
“You can’t let him do this.” said Amy Daughtry.
“We’ve got to draw again.” added her husband.
“Nobody is re-drawing, are you willing to volunteer for him?” asked Robert Gordon.
Everyone looked away. For the first time in their lives, many felt ashamed.
Both Rabbits entered before anyone could respond, they sized up Wallace and his small match stick. Dragging him away, the others cried out but the door slammed shut.
The Rabbits dragged Wallace around the corner.
“Have the children been brought to the island?”
“15 minutes ago.” answered Rabbit #2.
“And the body of the District Attorney”?
“Sealed in an oil barrel and thrown into the ocean.” answered Rabbit #1.
“Good. Only one thing left before I rescue the children.” said Wallace as he pulled out a pistol hidden in his waistband and shot both men, a couple of prison buddies of his brother’s, dead.
His wife, Evelyn Wallace formerly Evelyn Pratt, had been a well-meaning woman. She was determined to clear her family’s good name. Evelyn’s grandparents were the original owners of the Pratt Street property where the tragedy had occurred and many suggested the Pratts had duped their young investors into buying a shoddy building, although the contract clearly stated there were some items in need of further inspection, including the faulty gas line. The Pratts were shunned publically by all who knew them, falling out of good fortune, ridiculed and beat on the streets until they were living in the slums.
Evelyn grew up with that injustice and in her pursuit of correcting it she tracked down the two brothers, falling in love with one, sharing her tale and plans for bringing the true perpetrators to justice.
“Maybe my wife’s plan didn’t include blackmail, double-crosses and murder but that’s what a man with brain damage brings to the table.” muttered Don Wallace just before he let out a bloodcurdling laugh. \m/