Terry opened his eyes to total darkness. He realized his bed was gone, replaced by a cold, harsh concrete floor. He wasn’t in his bed, in his home. The vagary of his change of location scratched at the back of his mind. “Where am I?”
He heard scurrying, like mice or rats. Every few seconds, a light flashed. His eyes searched the room. He saw the glint of steel, several times. A glint of white teeth. The blade of an axe. The shanks of drill bits. Something stood against the far wall. A figure.
The light came on. Rabbits. Hundreds of rabbits. They carried drills, axes, screwdrivers, knives. Anything with a sharp metal edge. The figure on the far wall was a little girl. Her voice echoed in his ears. “Bunny murderer.”
An axe blade sank into the shank of his leg. He screamed. His world went blood-red, then black.
I stood at the bottom of the ladder to the tree house, staring up the ladder. “Bobby? What happened? Where is it?”
Bobby explained it all again, “I keep tellin’ ya! I put my foot on the ladder to start up, and I looked up, and the house was there. This strange light flash happened, and the whole top of the tree, house and all was gone!”
I grinned. “It worked!”
“My invisi-ray gun! It worked!” I raced up the ladder into our now invisible tree house, with Bobby following. “It’s the perfect place for us to hide!”
The line outside the house was surprisingly long. I counted twenty-seven people in it. All of them were male, like me. We were all dressed the same way, wearing a brown fedora, black socks, black shoes, and brown trench coats. We didn’t talk to each other. We all knew why we were in the line. It was Thursday, the day of the flash contest.
The sexes were kept separate until they became sixteen years old, when the procreation law took effect. We wrote the law after the plagues that nearly wiped out the human race, for the purpose of re-populating the planet. For the flash contest the girl picked two of her girl-friends to keep her company. They sat on a sofa in the room of a house and watched as we walked through one at a time, stopping in front of the sofa, and flashing the three of them. We had to flash them properly. Walk up, stop, face the sofa, smile, open the trench coat, count to three, close the coat and walk off. That was the law.
The three girls then picked one person from that line that would mate with the female. The two had to produce a child within the first year. If the union produced no child, the mating became invalid, and the entire process repeated until a union produced offspring.
I stood in the line, hoping I was the first to mate with the girl who was sixteen and never been kissed.