Dreaming and Revealing
Jack couldn't really work out where he was at first, then he remembered, and it all seemed so much clearer this time round.
He was the king in a chess set and he was standing on the board, dispatching orders to his army, and coaxing the queen into moving over into safety on the far side of the board. She didn’t want to move, because it was sunnier where she was - the other end of the board was in gloom. The castle stood there immobile and somber, ready to guard her. Jack was adamant. The knight made a space for her, and in the end, she moved. All was ready.
The pawns were marshalled in the front line. They held their wooden spikes and faced the enemy with fear in their eyes. The chessboard had turned green, where before it had been black, and grass was growing up between the squares, as if nature were reasserting her authority. The morning smelt of dew, with a faint taint of death and decay in the background.
Jack sat on his horse, his armour glittering in the sun, his visa was down and his loyal standard bearer, the knight, was at his side.
In front of them lay the rabbit army. They all wore dark black balaclavas and their breath left a trail of curled moisture in the morning air.
Jack felt fear. His forces were outnumbered, but he must be strong. He must not let them beat him again. He must use his guile and strength to defeat them, to stop their threat, to take it away forever.
He closed his eyes and summoned up a machine; a weapon of stainless steel, which had endless scythes on it, which sliced forward and backward. He commanded it to go down the hill before them. It shimmered as the scythes swayed, but they moved too fast to be seen by the human eye.
It started to carve a vermillion hole through the endless ranks of the rabbit army.
This gave him hope: the hope which was badly needed.
The pawns made ready their bowling balls and held them steady in their grasp.
Jack help up his arm.
The rabbits’ archers launched their first volley of arrows, they hissed in the air and fell from the sky like dirty ravens seizing their prey.
Many of his pawns fell to the ground. Their screams pierced the beauty of this early morning, as if beauty were metamorphosing into beast.
The air smelt of burning flesh now, as the napalm burrowed into internal organs of the pawns, smouldering on the ends of the arrows.
No time for remorse now; we must finish the job in hand. The enemy must be defeated; the saint in the castle must be defended, so he can create more saints. So that lowly men can become great and win this battle of the wills, the battle of wills.
Jack’s arm was still raised high. He turned to look at the castle.
The saint was there, his white robes swaying in the wind. He wore a white balaclava and raised his fist in anger at the rabbit army.
Jack turned again to face the approaching ranks. They were faceless cowards trying to overwhelm him, in his mind, his body and his spirit.
He could feel it now. He would not let that be anymore.
Jack punched the sky and let out a cry, a cry of thunder, which shook the earth and turned the blue sky into a black seething torrent of rain, storm and fire.
But the rabbit army was strong as they marched down the hill, they wouldn’t be vanquished by a storm alone.
Jack cried a command, and thunder clapped in the heavens. His pawns released a volley of bowling balls; they bounced down the hillside, exploding in the ranks of the rabid rabbits, shredding ears, limbs and teeth.
Still they came. Two yards they were from each other now, and now the battle became bloody. They fought for hours. His pawns were braver and better fighters than the rabbits, but there were so many rabbits and the rabbits had no honour in war. They did not obey its rules.
Every so often, in the midst of a hand-to-hand battle, they would pull out a white handkerchief as if to blow their nose. The pawn naturally would stop fighting and bend low. The rabbit would lay the handkerchief on the head of the pawn and cower.
The handkerchief then blew up in a powerful, localised explosion. Delusions followed; the rabbits’ machinations included waving visions of strawberry trifle in front of the starving pawns in the heat of battle, proffering mint smelling sweets, showing pornographic pictures in full throbbing action, offering to give up and turn into furry slippers, asking to stop for a for a game of croquet and producing a mallet, shuffling visions of tarot cards, suggesting they should all stop for a nose picking session, to see who could produce the biggest bogies, turning into what looked like the pawn’s parents, asking if they would like a siesta, and producing a four poster bed, to name but a few.
The more senior rabbits had magic wands and waved them at the storm in the heavens. They sought to steal Jack's thunder. Then they could point their magic stick at a pawn and electrocute him. Unexpected forked lightning drove them back.
The pawns were strong and brave now, their spirits had recovered and they fought valiantly, as one, as one army not as individuals.
The rabbits could not easily conquer belief in a cause.
And so the day wore on. It was as if a year had passed, but the sun had only risen to its full height and dropped a little way.
All around the field of battle lay the wounded, bleeding and weak. The dead lay silent, they had played their part.
Jack surged forward on his horse, rallying his troops.
He had spotted the black rabbit. The rabbit who was three times the size of all others and wore the armour of the seven magic handkerchiefs and brandished the biggest magic wand of all.
Jack's destiny was to meet The Rabbit in battle.
Jack's horse coursed through the ranks of the rabbits, cutting more down as he went and shouting encouragement.
All hearts were lifted by this fearsome sight.
The black rabbit’s eyes were redder than most. The whole eyeball was red. He stood on the top of the hill, with his magic wand between his teeth, waving his handkerchief at Jack, as a matador would to a bull.
The black rabbit kept waving his handkerchief cloak and Jack charged at it. As he came close to, the rabbit put out his long magic stick, which jolted Jack, and he tumbled off his horse.
He awoke to find The Rabbit standing with his foot on his stomach. Jack’s helmet was missing. His face was covered with blood... The battle then seemed to go into slow motion.
To die like a man he must have his sword with him. Vordor must have a sword.
“Oh God! Oh God! Oh God! Oh God!”
The rabbit smiled at him, his red eyes savouring the sight as if it were a delicious meal.
The rabbit reached out his magic stick and scratched Jack's face, which bled freely.
Jack could hear the saint imploring him. “Don't let us down Jack, don't let us down. For good and for reason you must vanquish this spiteful, insipid rabbit.”
But the rabbit was strong and Jack's pawns were wavering, dying. He could see them struggling for breath and their eyes partially closing. He could feel the beat of their hearts, once beating as one, becoming erratic.
All rabbit eyes were turned to their lord and master, standing on top of the hill, with Jack under his feet.
The rabbit raised his magic stick and touched Jack's knee. A searing pain of cold and then nothing.
The rabbit reached down and Jack felt a crunch.
The rabbit waved the frozen half of Jack's right leg before him like a trophy and then held it aloft.
“Time to dance the merry dance, Jack," said the rabbit and raised his magic stick again.
Electricity streamed from the end of the magic stick, each a deadly blast. Jack hopped like a chicken trying to avoid these bolts, like a child being bullied in the playground.
The rabbits started to chant:
“We are hungry rabbits.
Now we’ll eat meat.
Hop! Hop! Hop!”
Their repeated chanting and thumping singing was shaking his castle. The saint began to wail cries of need amongst the debris of falling ashlars. The wall on which he stood began to crumble and fall. And the singing grew louder until it seemed to fill every corner of Jack’s mind.
Jack remembered his lessons and closed his eyes.
He reached in his mind to the heavens, pulling down a piece of lightning as if it were a thread, and placed it on top of the rabbit's head.
Jack opened his eyes. There was a smell of bacon frying and then the rabbit was gone, just a small, black charcoaled spot lay where he once stood.
All around the playing field rabbits fell on the ground doubled up in pain.
And then he heard the voice of a woman calling him, bringing him back to his queen. But the voice was not his queen it was the voice of another, another helper.
This did not seem the same; this was not in the script because he knew the script now.
Jack gently opened his eyes slowly and Silvia stroked his head.
“It's alright, Jack. It’s alright now. You’re with me, Sylvia. You've done well. I told you we would get there, the second time around. We don't need to go back there again”.
“Back where?" said Jack in his addled state. “What day is it?”
“It’s Thor's day, which is a bit ironic. You with your bolts of lightning!”
Jack looked around the room.
“Yep, I felt like I’ve been away somewhere for years.”
“Here, Jack. Sip this. It’s just water. And breathe deeply. Everything’ll be okay, now.”She wished dearly that she could believe it. She took off her spectacles and switched off the mind recorder.