I have been working on my novel The Bicycle-Wheel Genius and just now reached the part I originally planned back in 1977. It, of course, has to deal with ten-year-old Tommy Bircher and his pet rabbit Millis. Now, I must confess that Tommy is a real person. He is based half on me (I was the rabbit raiser as a boy), and half on my best friend who was the Methodist Minister’s son. The personality of the character is primarily my best friend Mark, and the inevitable parting of the two friends Tim and Tommy is based on us when his dad, the reverend, had to go to a new church in another part of Iowa. Of course, in the book, we do to the rabbit Millis what it would’ve been impossible to do to my own alpha bunny Ember-eyes. For those of you imagining how terrible two boys can be to a rabbit, let me give you an excerpt from the novel to explain how the boys in the story are far more terrible… but unintentionally so;
Canto Twenty-Seven – Behind the Computer Named Dewey
Millis was not your ordinary, run-of-the-mill dumb bunny. He was, in fact, a highly educated rabbit. He had eaten several of Tommy’s books. He had chewed on the computer cords of Tommy’s video game machine and the shock it had given him had actually made him smarter. He was more than a little conceited about how much smarter he was than other dumb bunnies.
“You are a nicer boy than I am,” Millis heard the boy who was some sort of servant of Tommy say. “You have a good heart and burble burble burble, blah, blah.”
The thing that had Millis’ attention was apparently a carrot. Carrot! Now, idiot people seemed to think that all rabbits loved carrots above all other food. No way, monkey boy! Nothing beats a good chunk of lettuce, a clump of yard grass, cabbage, leaves, and other green foods. Green foods make a buck rabbit feel sexy. But you never turned down a good carrot either.
“Is it gonna hurt?” asked Tommy. Tommy was a good boy. He brought Millis green food, clover hay, salt licks, and water every day. He almost never forgot. And when Millis opened his cage to get out and go for an explore, Tommy gladly came to find him where ever he was when he got lost and carried him back to his house.
“It’s not going to hurt at all,” said the big owl-eyed man with the yellow fur on his head and his chin. “Burble burble, blah, tickle.”
Millis looked at the carrot with his right eye, and then turned his head and used the left eye. Looked the same both ways. It had a funny leafy part that was not the right color. And it kept going in a long vine to the back of the big red and white clink-and-bonk box. That wasn’t quite natural. He sniffed. It only slightly smelled right. Still, he was hungry, and it did seem to be a carrot, and… well, he just had to take a bite.
“Ooh, that’s hard on the teeth!” Millis said aloud.
“What?” said Tommy. “Did you hear that?”
“I did,” said Tommy’s servant. “We’re not the only people here.”
“Idiot boy,” said Millis. “You are the only people here. I’m a rabbit.”
“Ghosts?” asked Tommy.
“I believe it is your rabbit,” said the owl-eyed man. “He’s over behind Dewey.”
“It can’t be Millis. Millis doesn’t talk.”
“Rabbits would never reveal how much smarter they are than people,” said Millis.
“It is Millis!” declared the servant boy as he came around the big gray clonk-and-clank box. Actually… it was called a computer. How did Millis know that? He couldn’t say. Well, actually he could say, but didn’t know and didn’t want to say. The servant boy picked him up. And on top of that, he didn’t really know how to hold a rabbit.
“You are hurting me, you stupid boy.”
The stupid servant boy dropped Millis as if he were on fire, his rabbity fur blazing and crackling and burning his fingers. Wait-a-second! He was on fire! His skin was burning and bubbling. “Ahh! I’m burning!”
“Oh no, Millis. What did you do?” cried Tommy.
“Are you brain-dead, fool? I took a bite of the evolutionary accelerator tool created by the Xandar Empire. It is accelerating me.”
“Gee, that’s kinda cool,” said Tommy, staring at him with wide eyes. The owl-eyed man was staring too. Glasses. Those were glasses making his eyes look so big!
“Your arms and legs are growing,” said the servant boy. “You’re getting bigger.”
“Yes,” said Millis in amazement. “I am accelerating to become more like you. I am still a rodent, but I’m becoming sentient and man-like! Why would anybody be so sadistic that they would do that to a rabbit?”
“I’ll have to ask him,” said the man with glasses. “How did you know it was from Xandar?”
“E equals MC squared. Polytetrafluoroethylene is the proper name for Teflon. Richard Plantagenet became Richard the Third upon the death of his brother Edward IV and the mysterious disappearance, possibly murder, of twelve-year-old Edward V, Edward IV’s son.”
“Millis, you’re a genius!” cried Tommy.
“I am suddenly very tired,” said Millis the rabbit-man. “I must sleep now. Good night, Tommy. I will bring you cabbage and clover hay from now on.”
Rabbit eyes closed and the world veered away into darkness.
So, there you have it. The accelerated evolution of the rabbit-man Millis. I will even provide a picture. Oh, and he’s not flashing a peace sign, that’s the universal signal for “rabbit ears”.