“Why, I declare! It’s Nebraska Rooster . . . you’re coming in a little fuzzy there Nebraska.”
“I’m on a satellite phone!” Nebraska was shouting to be heard above the hiss and crackle of the cumbersome sat-phone. “We need your help!”
“You’re eating kelp?” Mr. Rabbit paused and looked away off the screen. “I don’t know dear, he says they’re eating kelp . . .”
“No!” Nebraska shouted, ‘WE NEED YOUR HELP!”
“Ahh,” said Mr. Rabbit returning to the phone. “You need my help.” He paused again. “But aren’t you in Lithuania just the now?”
“Yes! We’re in Lithuania on an archeological dig, and we need your help.”
“But that seems an awfully long ways away for me to be able to help.”
“Right – I know it does . . . er” Nebraska looked away from the screen. “What . . . are you doing -”
“Gimme that and cut to the chase!” Crimson Hen wrested the sat-phone from Nebraska’s wings. “Look, Mr. Rabbit, we’ve found a wall made of something that’s clearly not from this world, and we need your help to get a look inside. Bring your ultrasonic transducer and any other ideas you might have for getting into such a structure, and hightail it over here. Fly into Riga, and hire a driver. I’ll send you the GPS coordinates. Any questions?”
“Er . . . um . . .”
“Good. We’ll see you in a few days. Oh, and bring Dr. Rabbit along, you might enjoy a holiday while you’re here, though if my gut is right we’re on to a rather large adventure here.”
“Yes, well you see . . .”
“Gotta go! Remember, bring your gear!” Crimson Hen hung up the phone and looked at Nebraska.
“You didn’t really ask him if he wanted to come.”
“No, I guess you’re right.”
“That’s kind of rude.”
“Yes, I suppose it is.
There was a silence between them for a second.
“Do you think I ought to call back?”
Nebraska didn’t answer for a long minute as he contemplated this question. Finally, he said, “No, no I don’t think so.”
“Fine then, shall I fix us some lunch?”
Six interminable days later, during which Crimson Hen and Nebraska Rooster reorganized their camp, their exploration packs, their toothbrush kits, and generally didn’t know what else to do with themselves, a vehicle drove up. It was the same driver that had brought them into camp.
“‘Ello . . . two dig friends . . . are here . . .ah . . . friends!” The driver was cheery and upbeat as they leaned out the window. Crimson and Nebraska came up to the car as all the doors on the vehicle swung open at once. Mr. Rabbit, as expected, came tumbling out of the front passenger seat, but from the back came familiar faces they did not expect – Deloris Squirrel and her mate the Gray Squirrel each from one side.
They were met with many huzzahs and hugs, and even the driver, oddly, seemed to get into the reunion, handing out hugs and smiles with abandon.
“But Mr. Rabbit,” Crimson Hen said when the hubbub had died down. “Where’s Dr. Rabbit?
“Well, you know, with the new litter just arrived a few months ago, she felt one of us should stay home.”
“One of you?”
“Why, yes, I encouraged her to come. She has as much or more experience as I have with the ultrasonic transducer, but she doesn’t enjoy traveling much, and, urm . . . I will also say that she doesn’t take too much of a liking to the . . . urm . . . adventures I seem to get wrapped up in when I’m with you and Nebraska over there.”
Crimson Hen nodded sagely. “We do tend toward trouble, don’t we?”
Mr. Rabbit smiled wide. “There’ve been some doozies, for sure. Now, help me get my gear out of the trunk of this here vehicle.”
The next morning, they all gathered around the ultrasonic transducer.
“How does it work?” asked Crimson Hen.
Mr. Rabbit straightened up his bow-tie and smiled. He loved to explain things. “So,” he began, pointing out the different parts of the machine. “The probe sends out sound waves, which strike the surface of the material and bounce back. Those reflected sound waves are captured by this dish, and then translated into images on this screen.”
“How does that show us what’s behind it?” Nebraska asked.
“Small variations in the interior density and thickness of the material will show up as areas of light and dark.” Mr. Rabbit straightened his shoulders and adjusted his bow-tie again. “It’s a very sensitive tool, you know.”
“Well, let’s turn it on and see what we see,” said Deloris Squirrel.
Mr. Rabbit set up the controls, and switched the dials. The screen hummed to life. They all leaned in to see what they could see. The screen whirred and blinked on.
“What is that?” The Gray Squirrel had said it, but they were all thinking it.
Behind the seemingly blank exterior panel of wall they were calling the Window, was not an image of something, but an image of many somethings, all swirling around. The screen was filled with what looked like little black and white living fireworks explosions. Sinewy swirls and little slow motion burstlets swished on and off the screen.
The four friends took in the scene quietly for a moment. Then Nebraska Rooster said, “it’s . . . it’s like it’s alive.”
“That doesn’t seem like a door I want to open,” said Deloris Squirrel.
“Nope,” said the Gray Squirrel.
“Yeah . . . I think this is one we should maybe let go, Crimson,” said Mr. Rabbit.
“So . . . how do we fine tune this device . . .” Crimson was turning dials and switches on the ultrasonic transducer.
“No! Crimson, stop!” Mr. Rabbit looked with horror at the screen. The living fireworks were starting to pulse in unison. “Something the ultrasonic transducer is doing is having an effect on whatever is behind the Window. Shut the ultrasonic transducer down now!”
But his words were too late. Crimson had dialed the ultrasonic transducer to its highest energy and frequency and the living fireworks seemed to be going crazy. Before anyone could shut down the machine, the Window began to glow, and a faint hissing sound could be heard coming from somewhere inside.
The Window began to dissolve before their very eyes. It flashed green, then orange, then red, then green again, and then, in a blast of smoke and a whir of color, the Window was gone. What was left in its place was an opening, a darkness. A moment later, the darkness was filled with brilliantly colored, coral-looking . . . things . . . which began to emerge from the darkness into the summer morning. Slowly, they pushed their way out into the sunshine, hovering in midair, moving slowly, ominously toward where Crimson Hen and her friends sat dumbfounded, in shocked disbelief.