Call Me Bunny
Steam Powered Giraffe Fanfiction by Aoikami Sarah

Chapter Two

Hours later, Paige nodded off in a metal chair at the foot of the woman’s bed. A copy of Wired magazine lay loosely in her folded hands and she was asleep when the woman woke again.

            The brunette woke slowly in a morphine haze which allowed her to calmly adjust to her surroundings and reflect on what she had seen the day before. A round fluorescent light hummed overhead. The distant sound of air-conditioning units rumbled, but the air in the room hardly moved. There were no windows and no decorations on the grey painted walls.

She did not flail. The saline drip had been reinserted and she raised and examined her taped left hand. Her eyes followed the line to the bag and back down to the tape. Cautiously, she touched the tape with her right hand, then her fingers, feeling the knuckles and nails. Lowering the left, she made a fist with the right then stretched the fingers out and stared at it. Swallowing hard, she brought the hand to her face.

            The woman gasped in surprise and made a quiet giggling sort of sound as she felt her lips and hair and continued exploring further down her neck and chest. Suddenly she stopped, sat up quickly and awkwardly and with both hands felt her ample chest through the thin hospital gown.

            Paige woke when she heard the woman laugh. She blinked and focused on the woman who was sitting up with her hands in her lap, staring at the Walter Girl. Paige regarded her apprehensively, waiting for the next round of freak-out. When it didn’t come, she smiled and waved hello. The brunette waved back.

            “Good morning,” Paige said softly. “How are you feeling?”

The woman cocked her head to the side and shrugged, stiffly.

Paige got up, sat down on the edge of the hospital bed and looked on the woman kindly. “My name is Paige. I’m one of Mr. Walter’s assistants. Are you unable to speak?” she asked.

            The brunette opened her mouth and shook her head. She croaked and squeaked, she hissed and hummed. Paige giggled at the faces the woman made as she tried to form proper words until she straightened up, made a serious face and cleared her throat a couple of times. “My... name is...” she began, but pouted briefly before rephrasing. “Call me Bunny.”

            Paige raised a brow. “Bunny. Ok… Hello, Bunny. It’s nice to meet you.” She reached over and picked up a clipboard and pen resting on a nearby table. “I’d like to ask you some questions, is that ok?”

            Bunny nodded. She rubbed her hands nervously and her eyes darted around the room.

            “How are you feeling? Does anything hurt?”

            She screwed her lips up in contemplation and after a moment shook her head. “No. I... feel... alright, I suppose.”

            “Good. You had quite the fall. Do you remember it?”

            “A fall...” she repeated dreamily. “No. I don’t remember.”

            “That’s ok.” Paige said and scribbled on the chart. Looking down at what she had written, she said “you landed on one of our robots and I think that’s what saved you, but I’m not sure yet what happened, so we need to observe you for a while,” she lifted her head and saw Bunny staring at her with her jaw clenched tightly shut. “I hope you’ll bear with us. We’ll take care of you.”

            “Ok,” she replied nervously.

            Paige put the pen down and smiled again. She explained that she was going to examine her and made sure to describe everything she was doing and why she was doing it. As she took her blood pressure and listened to her heart, Paige was stone-faced and scribbled notes on Bunny’s chart: 190/102, tachycardia-113. Finally, she put down the pen and smiled again. “I think you need to relax a little, Bunny—get out of this stuffy room. What would you like to do?”

            Bunny brightened. “Oh, wow. I don’t know, Paige. Anything!”

            “Anything?”

            “I’d like run and dance and sing and play and...”

            Paige laughed. “Well, let’s start slow, shall we?”

            Bunny blushed. “Ok.” Her stomach growled and she blushed deeper.

            “Well, that settles that,” Paige said, replaced the chart at the foot of the bed and stood up. “First order of business is breakfast!”

            Bunny cheered in agreement and the two women set about finding Bunny something to wear. A pair of striped tights and a grey dress that was a little too big for the woman’s slight frame were located and Paige lent her a pair of her shoes. Once she was dressed, Bunny twirled in a circle and laughed in delight. “Do I look pretty?” she asked, running her hands through her wavy brown locks.

            Paige had to agree. Bunny radiated joy in addition to her good looks and slender body. The Walter Girl took her by the hand and led her out of the infirmary, pressing her finger to her lips. Bunny covered her mouth and nodded, tiptoeing after her. They went left out of the door, taking the long route down the hall to the stairs to avoid passing lab AA. On the next lower-level floor they took the elevator up to the main floor and stepped out the front door into the sunshine.

 

.x.

            Bunny had breakfast at a local coffee shop. She ate half a bacon and egg sandwich with cheese, a pain au chocolat and washed it down with a mocha latte with about six sugars, which she claimed was ‘the best food, ever’. Then they were off! Bunny ran and skipped and jumped and fell down and scraped her knee and laughed and ran some more. People stared. Paige smiled. They went to the park and played on the swings together. Later, Paige sat on a stool in the shape of an oversized mushroom and watched Bunny like a doting parent as she used the slide and the jungle gyms with the energy of a rambunctious seven-year-old. Bunny hung upside down unashamedly from her knees at the top of a dome-shaped structure. She had thought to tuck her dress between her thighs before flipping, but a grown woman playing in such a way was still quite the sight. She dropped down and skipped over to her minder, panting fairly heavily. “That was so much fun!” she shouted.

            “I’m glad,” Paige said, taking her hands in hers, putting her fingers to her pulse. Bunny swung them in and out like a child.

            “What next?” the brunette asked, catching her breath.

Paige pursed her lips then said “maybe we should do something a little less strenuous.”

            “Yeah,” Bunny agreed, beaming. “It’s a little hard to breathe right now. I think I overdid it!”

            “Say,” her friend said, bringing her hands up and pulling her close. “How about... some... ice cream!”

            Bunny’s eyes seemed to glitter. “Oh! I loves ice cream! Come on!” She pulled Paige in the direction of the ice cream shop.

            “I know you do,” Paige said quietly.

.x.

            The chords that formed the beginning of ‘Honey Bee’ bounced around the huge lab walls as The Spine played his guitar. He leaned against the wall to the left of Rabbit’s body. The Spine did not sing as he played and Hatchworth entered the lab. “They’ve left the building,” Hatchworth said as if he had been asked a question.

            “Who?”

            “Walter Girl Paige and the woman with the brown hair.”

            “Did she die?”

            “No, she walked.”

            “Walked out the door on her own? With Paige?”

            “Yes. I think I heard them say something about breakfast.”

            The Spine stopped playing. “Well that’s just...” He lifted the guitar off his neck, set it down gently on a stainless steel table nearby and put his hands on his hips. “That’s just not right. She ought to be in jail!”

            “She ought to be dead,” Hatchworth interjected.

            “Or that!” The Spine added.

            “No, no. I mean she shouldn’t have survived that fall. She threw herself off the building, Spine. I saw it. Nnnnrwww... splat. Crunch. Eughhh,” he said, using his hands to illustrate. “But when we arrived here she wasn’t bleeding anymore and now she’s out for breakfast like nothing happened at all. Quite strange.”

            The Spine stepped up to Rabbit’s body and peered at him closely. “Very strange,” he agreed. “It’s almost as if...”

            Hatchworth leaned in toward him.

            “Nah... crazy. No way. It would have...” he narrowed his eyes. “No, there’s no way that’s possible. Mr. Walter would have...”

            “What?” Hatchworth asked, mustache twitching.

            “Nope. It’s too stupid to say out loud.”
            “You don’t think his power core...?”

            “I said it was too stupid to say out loud, Hatch!” The Spine shouted.

            Hatchworth winced and apologized.

            “This is terrible, Hatchworth. Terrible.” He loped back to the table and his guitar. He touched its shining black finish with the tips of his gloved hand. “First Upgrade, then The Jon, now Rabbit. What are we going to do? What will become of Steam Powered Giraffe?” he wondered aloud. “It’s kind of hard to do three-part harmony with only two robots.”

            “Sure is,” Hatchworth agreed. “Sure is, The Spine.”

.x.

            Bunny pressed her face to the long, cooler window at gawked at the dozens of tubs of colorful ice cream. “Oh! There’s so many to choose from!” she cried.

            The teen-aged boy behind the counter smiled awkwardly. “You wanna try some different flavors?” he offered in a squeaky voice.

            Bunny looked to Paige. “What’s your favorite, P-p-paige?”

            “Oh, I like blueberry and mint-chocolate chip and in the wintertime I like peppermint stick.”

            “I’ll try those!” she crowed. “And that one, and that one, and, oh, bubblegum flavor? Does it have gum in it?” she asked, making a weird face. “How does that even work, how do you make sure you don’t swallow it?”

            Paige laughed and they spent about an hour trying every flavor in the shop. Bunny was delighted with the cold feeling and the creamy taste. “I never knew...” she said, finishing a sample of raspberry-chocolate-fudge flavor. “That it was so, so great.”

            “Ice cream is pretty great,” Paige agreed, feeling sleepy from so much sugar and activity. They sat at a tiny wrought-iron table-for-two in spindly black wrought-iron café chairs.

            “The whole thing is really great. Thank you for taking me out, Paige. I can’t imagine why anyone would want to end their life. It’s so great... all of it.”

            “I don’t know either, Bunny.”

The brunette gently pulled apart the folds of the last of the tiny paper cups that her ice cream sample had come in. She had licked it clean of the butter pecan and was now flattening it out into a disc shape. “Did I really do that? Did I really try to kill myself?” Bunny asked, staring at the cup as she worked.

“Yes,” Paige replied. “They saw you jump—Brianna and Hatchworth did.”

 Bunny bit her lip and looked out of the large shop windows at the people walking by. The late afternoon sun shined down and bounced off a huge mirror on the opposite wall casting strange angles of light and shadow around them.

“I'm sorry,” Paige apologized. “This was supposed to be a fun day for you, I didn’t mean to…”

“Oh it was!” Bunny chimed, reached over and put her hand on top of Paige’s to reassure her. “I guess it's just hard to think about.” A bit sheepishly she retracted her hand and folded her arms under her chest. “There's so much I gotta think about. I don't know what I'm gonna do.” Her eyes seemed to un-focus and she went back to watching the people passing by outside window silhouetted by the setting sun. Her brows came together and she leaned forward. “Ow,” the brunette said and winced. She hugged herself. “It hurts.”

Paige’s smile fell. She leapt out of her chair and crouched in front of her. “Your chest hurts? How does it feel?” Paige asked quickly, rummaging in her purse.

“Tight. It hurts. Maybe I had too much ice cream?” Bunny said, laughing nervously. Paige pulled an aspirin and the small cell phone from her bag. She instructed Bunny to crunch it and eat the aspirin while she called for transportation then helped her to her feet.

            “Paige,” Bunny said, shaking like a leaf. “I’m scared. I’m so scared. It hurts...” she hiccupped as she started to cry.

            “Oh, Bunny,” Paige said, pulling her into her arms and holding her close. “It’s ok. It’s going to be ok.”

            “You’re lying, but that’s alright,” Bunny said softly over the woman’s shoulder, still smiling. “I had fun.”

They staggered out of the ice cream shop onto the street just as the same early-model vehicle from the other day jerked to a halt at the curb and Brianna sprang out to help them. “What on Earth were you thinking?” she shouted as she helped lift Bunny up into the back of the hearse.

“I just wanted to make her happy,” Paige said under her breath.

“Well, Mr. Walter isn’t going to be very happy when he finds out you...”

Paige shot Brianna a dark look. “He’s not going to find out. Now, quiet. You’re scaring her even more.” She pulled the doors closed and sat down next to Bunny, holding her hand and stroking her hair. “We’ll be home soon, Bunny. Don’t worry.”

Bunny gasped for breath. “Why is... Mr. Walter gonna be...?”

“If he knew what I know,” she began and smiled sadly at her friend, “let’s just say that unpleasant things would have happened.”

“Unpleasant things?” Brianna wondered. “Paige, what are you on about?”

“Bri,” she said, not taking her eyes off Bunny’s. “She’s not long for this world. We know that, but once I figured this out, I just couldn’t let her last moments be unhappy ones. It broke my heart to think of it. The Blue Matter is going critical. Mr. Walter was right; the human body can’t handle it. It did heal her wounds completely but whatever made up this woman’s soul is gone.”

“You...” Bunny panted. “You knew?” Paige nodded and Bunny closed her eyes. “Aw, you’re the b-b-best, Paige. I wish... there was somethin’... I don’t... I don’t wanna die.” Bunny squeezed Paige’s hand. Brianna put her hand to her mouth and all three women were in tears. As the hearse came to a stop, a loud lub-dub sound emanated from Bunny’s chest coinciding with a pulse of blue light. The Walter Girls looked at each other.

“You don’t suppose...?” Brianna asked.

Paige bit her lip, leapt up and kicked the hearse doors open. “Quickly!” she shouted and they carried Bunny to the back entrance to the elevator and down to the lab.


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