A World Full of Monsters

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Chapter 11
Spider Bunnies From Hell

At least the babies are cute. Mama…not so much.


I’d been out of town for a few days, attending yet another genetics conference so I could present the obligatory paper on zipper theory and so the assholes among my peers could have their chance to snub me in person, and when I got back everything was quiet. Too quiet. I dropped my stuff on our ‘conference table’ out front and went back into the lab. Nobody was there except Dave, who glanced over when I came in and then quickly scooted his chair around so he could conceal whatever it was on the desk in front of him. “Oh hi, Danny. Back already?”

No, that wasn’t suspicious at all. “Dave, what are you working on?”

“Um…nothing much.”

He’s lying, of course. Dave always says ‘um’ when he’s lying. And I hadn’t forgotten what happens when he’s been alone in the lab too much. “You’re modding, Dave, I know you are.”

“Well, yeah. It’s just a thing, though.”

I angled around, and managed to see legs even though he tried to block my view. My eyebrows went all the way up. “Was that the spider mod we weren’t going to use anymore?”

“Um…yeah, but I didn’t know that. The label fell off, I thought it was something else.”

Sure he had. He thinks tarantulas are pets, remember? “We weren’t going to use the spider mod, Dave. Because it’s freaky and it makes vampire creatures, remember?” I tried to look again. “What did you mod with it?” He mumbled something. “A rabbit?”

“Kind of. I was working on the angora project…”

“You didn’t.” The angora project is goats and rabbits, and one of the rabbits we’d brought in had popped out three surprise babies. I pulled him back so I could see. And sighed. “You did. Want to explain this again?”

He sighed too. “The babies are cute.”

Well, he wasn’t lying about that. It was about the size of his hand, eight half-furred little legs, roundish body, four little eyes still closed, two little lop ears. Something about its muzzle looked weird, though. And if this was a baby… “Do I want to see Mama, or is she going to turn up on the news clinging to the side of a building and swatting at helicopters?”

He sighed again and waved at the other side of the room where the door to the specimen lab was. I went in. Mama was not nearly as cute as her babies, and she had goat eyes. And goat horns. I came back out, smacked Dave on the back of the head hard enough to make him yelp, and pulled out my phone to call someone. “Hey Jim, it’s Danny Darling,” I said when the other end picked up. “Got a minute or three? Dave was screwing around in the lab…”

“I was not!”

“…and I think you’re gonna want to see this.” I switched to video, walked back into the specimen lab, and turned the camera around so he could see the cage. The noise that emerged from the phone was disturbingly orgasmic, so I turned it around again. “Dude, that is way more than I wanted to know about you, really.” He disconnected – probably to finish – and I went back out to Dave. I had a text before I was halfway across the room, and I held my phone out so Dave could see it. “I feel like a hooker now: I showed him what I had, he came, and now he’s offering me money.”

Dave took my phone, took a picture of the baby – which currently had one little ear up and one down – typed in something and then sent. After a few seconds another text came back, and Dave grinned. “Now we’re both hookers.”

I took it out of his hand. “Hmm, nice – he went up half a mil for the merchandising tie-in.” I called him back, put him on speaker. “Sounds good to me, but it’s part spider and you know what that means. Dave?”

“Yes, it’s a vampire,” Dave confirmed. “But it also eats grass, so it won’t need to hunt as much. I’m thinking it would probably be a good rat-killer.”

Jim got control of himself, although he still sounded like he’d just gotten off. “You haven’t shown anyone else?”

I grinned. “Want me to send a picture to Harry?” He moaned, so I took a still picture of the mama and sent that and the baby’s picture to his buddy-slash-rival in Hollywood. Yes, I have the personal cell numbers of two big-name horror directors, who we are all on a first-name basis with; they don’t normally commission live mods from us, but they pay to have us design things on paper for them using our sim software whenever they get a wild idea. It’s a lot of fun working with both of them, they’re great guys and the weird little projects they throw us advance our mod research quite a bit – half the combinations they come up with are things we’d have never even thought to try on our own. At least not sober, anyway.

A minute later I had a return text that read: On another project now so he can have it, but I want one for myself if possible. Think it would kill the mice taking over my barn?

I sent back a ‘probably’ and told him to email Dave for details. “Okay Jim, they’re all yours. But he wants one for hunting mice in his barn.”

“Deal,” was the somewhat hoarse reply. “We’re going to visit him at Christmas, I’ll take him one then.”

“I’ll make sure you both have care instructions this week so you can start getting things ready,” Dave promised. “Standard breeder containment applies.”

“Venomous?”

“We wouldn’t be letting anyone have them if they were,” I told him, raising a questioning eyebrow at Dave, who quickly shook his head. “No, they’re not venomous.”

 

Spider Bunnies From Hell ended up being the working title of the movie, and Jim didn’t even bother trying to shop it around in the normal way; he just carried one of the baby hellbunnies – his wife named them that – from studio to studio, let the receptionist take a selfie with it, and then dropped off a movie poster with a blank white space for the studio name on her desk and left again, making sure everyone he passed on his way out got a good look at the baby too. As he’d expected, the receptionists shared the pictures with all of their friends – he’d told them they could, that the babies weren’t any kind of a secret – and within a week everybody on social media wanted to see his movie and the studios were beating down his door trying to buy the release rights. The one who finally got it had to agree to build a luxurious permanent habitat for the hellbunnies, a big climate-controlled dome where they could live and breed in perpetuity, and where people could go to observe them from a safe distance. Safe for the hellbunnies, that was – according to Jim and his wife, people posed a much bigger threat to their ‘pretty babies’ than the other way around.

Oh, and he already had a deal for as many sequels as he could make. The hellbunnies by all accounts loved making the movies, because it meant giant web-sets for them to climb all over – goats and rabbits don’t spin webs, of course – and lots of new toys and people to play with, and Jim was very careful to only use actors who had proved they could handle being around that kind of creature and would bond with them. The outtakes from the films were hilarious: you’d see this huge, evil-looking hellbunny stalking an actor and then pouncing on them, bowling them over…and demanding ear scratches by nuzzling and yip-bleating until they gave in. The lead actor on the first film told the press that it was kind of like working with an eight-legged Golden Retriever, and that his favorite hellbunny was named Benji and he sometimes went to visit it in the habitat because he missed playing with it. That made some really good press for Jim, even though the media of course twisted it to spin off another round of attack articles against us, but we didn’t mind too much.

We get free VIP tickets to attend the premiere of every Spider Bunny movie, after all.

 

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