The Hawk

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In the red dust of Outback Australia, a mother rabbit scurried back into her burrow, eager to feed her small, snow-white children. Her own fur had long since lost its clean, and effect of years in the rain, heat and dirt. This became more apparent when she entered her home and seven snowballs jumped on her adoringly, just as eager to be fed as she was to feed. The mother rabbit never saw the eighth white bundle slip out of the burrow behind her. She didn’t know she had lost him until he was already gone.

This was the first time the young rabbit had ever been out of the burrow, and it amazed him just how lively life was. He saw the huge brown trees that dotted the flat plains and giant shapes that looked like his brothers and sisters, but which hung below the blue expanse he knew must be the sky. The rabbit’s ears twitched to the tune of a chorus of cicadas, and realised that he couldn’t wait to tell his family about the wonders of above. But first, he though, he must find an adventure. He was only just beginning to see this new world.

The rabbit spent the whole of that burning hot day running from place to place, adventure to adventure, moving ever further away from his mother, having too much fun to feel the heat. He found that his long young limbs were strong and could carry him over huge distances in seemingly no time. In his mind the young rabbit was invincible, and he was thinking just this when he looked into the sky, which was just starting to show streaks of red. He froze. He span around, but realised too late that he was completely alone, lost, and without any sort of cover. For the first time in his short life, the rabbit felt fear.

The rabbit ran so quickly he could barely keep his eyes open. This could have been dangerous, but there was nothing for him to hit, not even a life-saving shrub to burrow under. The rabbit looked furtively over his shoulder and another surge of icy fear pummelled through him. The beautiful, majestic hawk hung lazily in the air above him, edging closer every second. The rabbit’s mother’s words raced through his head- he had ignored the signs she had told him would warn of such a danger, and now he cursed himself for it. At that moment, the hawk struck.

The rabbit’s life was still too short for him to know what pain was, but he felt it now. Over and over again the hawk dove, his beak slicing through the rabbit’s light fur like a sword. The rabbit knew his pace was slowing, but also that if he stopped for one moment he was dead, so her ran, and kept running. Long after the rabbit’s limbs were numb with pain, and his sight almost gone because of the blood dripping into his eyes, the hawk was still attacking. He didn’t tire or slow down at all, or even grow bored of this tiny, unfulfilling meal. The rabbit couldn’t see a reason for the hawk’s savage attack, other than mindless, random rage. But then, through the warm, sticky blood, the rabbit saw a large shape in front of him. Knowing this was his only chance the rabbit dove under it and burrowed as far underground as he could, hoping beyond hope that this mindless hawk would leave his injured self alone.

That night the rabbit didn’t sleep. Instead he thought about his brothers, sisters and adoring mother, all the people he loved and knew he would never see again, because the hawk had never left. A few minutes after the rabbit had found refuge under a shrub the hawk had landed less than a metre away. All night the rabbit could hear the rhythmic pacing of the hawk’s clawed feet on the hard ground. The rabbit was stuck. Sometime that night the rabbit realised that if he was to have any chance at all, he would have to fight.

Early in the morning the rabbit crawled out of his makeshift burrow, through the shrub and out into the open. The hawk stood in front of him-silent and staring. Somehow, the hawk seemed to know what the rabbit was about to do, and he dipped his dark head for a moment- the same moment that the rabbit launched on him. Ripping, biting and pulling, the rabbit paid no attention to his wounds. All that was on his mind was the destruction of the thing that wanted to destruct him- and so it wasn’t until after minutes of attacking the motionless hawk that the rabbit realised that the hawk had no wounds, no missing feathers nor any sign that the rabbit had touched him at all. In those last few seconds the rabbit realised that the hawk was absolute, impenetrable. The hawk walked forward.
In the cancer ward of a huge city hospital a woman and seven children huddle around a single figure on a fed. A nurse enters the ward and the woman runs over to her.
“Will he be okay?”She asks frantically. “Will Peter be okay?”
“Mrs Rabertson, I’m sorry. He’s gone.”
The hawk had caught its prey.





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