Mrs. Hopper bows her head and sighs. Niko remembers that look from the day Lex left and a tear falls on his paw. Bonnie is confused.
Bonnie musters a few words between sobs: “But who will show the other farmers how to plant? Grampa said it could make mama Earth healthy again? Now the bad mega-farms will keep polluting?” She scurries away into the corn field and just keeps running and running calling out Farmer Tom’s name: “Grampa!”
Niko bolts after her, closely followed by his mother carrying a big carrot with her just in case and screaming out: “Bonnie! Bonnie! Come back! It’s not safe anymore!” Her voice is lost to the density of the bean vines stabilizing the corn stalks.
The little cottontail can barely see where she is going but she knows this route like the back of her paw. Her heart races as she realizes she is alone for the first time in her life, deep in the middle of a farm field and starting to tire. A force greater than she has ever experienced keeps her moving in the direction her nose guides her and pushes her through the terror barrier until she senses a presence shadowing her pace on the right flank.
“Mommy?” she whimpers as she gives her paws every ounce of carrot power she can muster. Then she hears it— the playful “Yap! Yap!” of her new friend just ahead of her. Panting, she springs out of the corn and into the cucumber patch and the light of day where a new human is collecting vegetables with the help of Fifi.
Unfortunately Bonnie did not emerge alone. A long sausage-like animal with sharp teeth is heading straight for her.
Out shoots Niko to the rescue. He screams: “Bonnie, run for the girl!”
Katou looks up from her cucumber hunt just in time to see Bonnie on the verge of collapse hopping as fast as she can towards her with a hungry ferret in hot pursuit. She gets up, runs to the little bunny, and scoops her off the ground. The predator stops short and cowers with his eyes lifted at Katou’s scowl: “Pierre! Non!” She picks up her pet ferret by the scruff and zips the little escape artist back into her satchel.
The other cottontails bounce over and sniff at Katou’s feet. Fifi joins in and leaps back and forth over them, trying to entice Niko into another play session. Poor little Bonnie is still trembling while Pierre remains restless inside his carrier. Mrs. Hopper brandishes her sturdy carrot at Pierre pushing his head against the mesh for a closer look at the Hopper family.
Farmer Tom willed the land to his widower son Gilbert and his granddaughter Katou in the hope that they would save the polyculture paradise from encroaching mega-farms. Several corporations have been eying the rich soil for years and had approached Tom on several occasions, even as recently as the day before the accident.
Immediately following his father’s funeral, Gilbert moved from the city to make his presence known to the corporate vultures but fears he doesn’t have the energy or knowledge to continue with his father’s work. His late wife’s sickness left the family in ruins and the lure of a hefty financial influx weighs on his conscience daily as he struggles to decide whether to bury the dream along with its beloved dreamer.
Tom’s granddaughter however keeps lobbying her father to keep the farm. She loves collecting her favourite fruits, vegetables, beans, grains, and herbs and creating beautiful baskets to sell on the roadside. She even set up a Facebook page to invite her friends to spread the word. Every day she reports all the new “Likes” she is getting. Alas, the money has not yet been forthcoming.
Gilbert sees only the debt.
The sound of tires skidding on gravel announce a truck pulling up the long driveway. Katou lowers Bonnie to the ground, pats her, picks up her basket of goodies, and runs to support her father. The vultures are back.
…to be continued in The Hoppers To The Rescue.