You came back. You want more. I knew it. Bunnies will take over the world, did you know? No? Well then, read on and find out. Onward we go, into Chapter 3. (Read how it started here.)
Please welcome our 3rd author, Brandon Yusuf Toropov, (aka @bytoropov). Brandon is a North Carolina writer who does not believe in the Easter Bunny, or vice versa. One of us is a pagan remnant; you must now guess which one and shoot it.
EASTER BUNNY APOCALYPSE
Chapter 3 by Brandon Yusuf Toropov
Little Theodora Feedback, who was nine, said Easter was her very favorite holiday.
Not because of the ancient pagan blood-sacrifice rites her big brother Clive was always going on about; not because of all the sun-worship he had researched; and not because of the holiday's ancient fixation on nudity and fertility—an understanding of which he'd insisted was important to any proper observance of the day. Clive was going through puberty, something that Mom said men in Theodora's family did for decades at a time. That might have explained his insistence on repeating all the details of the Sumerian rites for welcoming the spring.
These rites, Clive intoned solemnly (as they meandered through the dense glade that lay just beyond their property line), involved a high priestess. She gathered the citizens and chose for her bed—in a sacred marriage ceremony—a young man just past the threshold of manhood. She changed his name to Dumuzid; she enlisted his aid in hanging an effigy of the nude, full-breasted goddess Inanna on a stake outside of the temple; and she announced the next morning, after she'd seduced the latest Dumuzid, that Inanna had risen from the dead. (How she knew that, Theodora had no idea.) Then she killed a goat and everybody sang songs about Inanna's breasts. All so the crops would grow.
What they were really looking for out here, Clive announced mock-seriously, was a high priestess. Or maybe Inanna herself.
None of that mattered to Theodora, who was pretty sure the crops would have grown anyway. Theodora was in it for the candy, which, if you played your cards right, was more ample now than on Halloween. But nobody noticed how much you ate on Easter.
"Candy is just second-hand ornamentation," Clive complained as they meandered through the woods. "You want the real thing. What you want to look for out here are the eggs. They're a more potent, physical symbol of fertility."
"I don't like hard-boiled eggs," Theodora said.
"Well, I don't know how much candy Dad would have hidden this far beyond the line," Clive insisted. "He sprinkles that easy stuff closer to home. So the babies can find it. So, you'd better help me look for eggs."
"If I do, will you shut up about the high priestess?"
Snotty, lovestruck Clive glanced at his sister's basket once again; he grimaced, counted silently, and snorted.
"You have forty-six pieces of candy already, and no eggs. Fool."
"You just want eggs so you can take a picture with your phone and boast to that stupid online band of pagan wannabes that you found more than anybody else."
"So, it's stupid. You don't even eat the eggs."
"I'll eat one if you find just one more for me. After I take a picture of it, I mean. And when we get home, I'll show you where Dad hid the biggest chocolate Easter bunny in history. I saw it."
Theodora stopped walking and regarded her brother warily. "Swear?"
"I swear. On the goddess Inanna."
They shook. And the moment they did, Theodora saw something gleam.
She pointed to the hollow of a nearby tree. Within it lay an egg, painted in intricate green and gold, brighter and more bold in color than either of them had ever seen.
Clive whooped, pulled out his phone, snapped a photo, then snatched it up and began grappling with the shell. It seemed harder to peel than a hard-boiled egg should have been.
"Man of my word," Clive shouted, raising the peeled egg to the heavens. "I swore to Inanna."
He gobbled the egg down in one bite.
His head exploded.