Cradles the Brain: A Book of Short Tales

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Conductivity Ep 1 (Pt. 5)

It floated on the surface of the water, still and lifeless. Its fur was soaked and bobbed around its body. Dead eyes stared from its face and into the sky. The girls snickered as they poked it with a stick.

“It’s dead,” Hanna giggled. Hayley nodded and abruptly spun around.

“Quick, mom and dad are coming!” The girls scattered to the side yard and hopped the fence into the next door neighbor’s yard. Her parents entered the backyard with a couple and Frank in tow. They were distracted with small talk when the woman gasped.

“Oh, my!” Her hand found her brow and she slightly swayed on her feet. Her husband steadied her and looked into the pool. He inhaled sharply and looked away.

“Oh, God,” Rebecca sighed. She shook her head.

“I’m so sorry. Our rabbit must have gotten out of its cage and found its way to the pool. Gosh, I don’t know how I’m going to tell the kids that their rabbit drowned.” Stewart explained.

Hayley and Hanna looked at each other and smiled. Hanna raised the remote as Stewart stuck the old metal net in. Hayley slapped it out of her hand. “No! They’ll catch us!” she hissed.

“Oh,” Hanna said as she picked up the remote and dusted it off. The two girls crept out of their neighbor’s backyard and snuck into their own house.

Henry was lying in his bed, staring at the wall. His bedroom door was open, so the girls tiptoed past it. They entered their bedroom, shut the door, and silently laughed with each other. The door to their rabbit cage was closed, so they opened it and cracked their door to alleviate them from suspicion.

Stewart scooped the rabbit up with the net and laid it on the fake grass next to the pool. “I guess we’ll have to bury this little guy next to the kids’ old goldfish. I hope they’re not too heartbroken about it,” he said. “I’m really sorry about this, Frank.”

“Oh, it’s okay. The Smiths are here to check out your system, not swim in your pool.”

“Well, you don’t think the system electrocuted the poor thing do you?” Mrs. Smith asked, wide eyed.

“No. No, of course not,” Frank assured her. He put a hand on her arm and spoke, “This system is only strong enough to kill bugs. It would only stun the rabbit a bit and then it would be fine. Humans can’t even feel it.”

“Oh, well… how about you show us how it works?” Mr. Smith asked, hoping to change the subject and forget about the rabbit.

“No, problem,” Stewart said. “I’ll go get the remote.”

Hayley and Hanna froze in their place when they heard their father’s words from their window. Hanna felt her pocket and touched the remote. “Shit!” Hayley spit at Hanna. “Fuck!” She snatched the remote from Hanna’s hand and ran out to the kitchen. Stewart was just opening the glass door.

“Kids?” he called. He saw Hayley and bent down to speak with her. Hayley’s heart was in her throat. “Have you seen the remote for the SCRUBMASTER, sweetie?”

Hayley shook her head with the remote in her pocket. “Did you look outside, daddy?” she asked innocently as she could.

“Well, of course I did, but if you want to help me look, we can look again.” He grabbed Hayley’s hand and dragged her outside. Hayley’s pulse was past the normal.

Once outside, she waved to the strangers and began looking. While her dad spoke to the people she didn’t know, she slipped it out of her pocket and onto the table under a magazine.

“Here, daddy!” she exclaimed. She lifted the magazine that she had just put down and displayed the remote like a magician at a show.

Stewart laughed. “Oh, good job, Hayley.” To his visitors, “She’s the best out of the three at finding things. Ha!” Back to Hayley, “Thanks, hon. You can go back inside now, get out of this heat.” He smooched her on the top of her head and she scampered back inside. Stewart was glad that she hadn’t asked about the rabbit, and Hayley was glad that he hadn’t asked either.

“Did you do it?” Hanna asked Hayley.

“Of course I did, stupid,” Hayley snapped. Hanna was taken aback but used to the abuse.

Henry lay in his bed, still blankly staring at his wall. Hanna and Hayley walked in and asked him if he wanted to play a board game. He mumbled something. The girls asked what he said. “What happened to Steve?” he asked. Hanna’s heart just about stopped in her chest.

Hayley quickly answered, “I think he got out of his cage. We were going to ask you the same thing.” She said this last bit in an accusatory tone.

Henry quickly flipped around and glared at his sister. Their faces were exactly the same in shape, features, and—in that moment— attitude. Hanna was caught in the awkward silence. The room was hot as the window was open without a breeze.

Finally, Hayley broke the silence, “Do you want to play a board game or not?” Her hand was placed on her hip that slightly jutted out in a defiant stance. Attitude at its finest. Henry rolled his eyes and got up out of bed.

They set up a game on the living room floor and played in silence until their parents were done showing their system.

They entered the front door with Frank after saying their goodbyes to the Smiths. Frank waved to the kids and found his way to a barstool. He sat down and spoke to Stewart quietly. Hayley desperately tried to listen, but her efforts were futile. Stewart nodded and he sat down with the kids. He cleared his throat and put his arm around Henry and Hayley, who were on either side of him. He looked Hanna in the eyes, then at Henry and Hayley.

“I hope you guys aren’t upset—”

“Yes, Father. Steve is dead,” Henry said without looking up from the cards in his hands. Hanna, Hayley, and Stewart each gasped. Rebecca put a hand to her chest in disbelief and Frank’s eyes widened.

“Henry, I—” Stewart attempted.

“I heard from my bedroom window,” he said as he blankly stared at the game board. Stewart took his hand off Hayley and leaned in to Henry. Henry did not return the hug.

“Wow, you girls sure took that better than I expected,” Rebecca remarked from the kitchen.

The girls realized their folly, but Hayley took this as an opportunity. She opened her mouth to speak.

“I didn’t care for Steve, anyway,” Hanna said. Hayley’s eyes widened as her plan was defiled.

“Honey, did you let Steve out?” Stewart sternly asked Hanna.

Not willing to witness Hanna’s punishment, Hayley spoke up.

“I think I left the cage open after I cleaned it, daddy. I’m sorry,” Hayley said with her face in her hands.

Stewart’s attention shifted from Hanna to Hayley. “Well, if it was an accident, I guess I can’t fault anyone. But we are not getting another rabbit. I don’t want to scoop anymore dead animals from the pool.”

“Yes, father,” the triplets answered. He nodded and got up off the floor. Stewart offered Frank a drink. Frank asked for it straight as he had some bad news to deliver.

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