Last Week on the Disapprovers: Abby and Mr. Toes go on an excursion to the space wreck via Singularia. Abby does very well during the travel and experiences no adverse reactions. They discuss the possibility of setting up a temporary shelter for the critters they will rescue.
We made the trip back home as fast as we could. We were hopping upstairs when we heard Zeus and Suzy arguing about something. Zeus was really mad. His eyes were bulging out, and he was growling about what he was going to do to the no-good doctor when he pumped him full of the paralyzer. Freddie was holding him back. Suzy sat there, patient, stone-faced, her mouf twisted with contempt, eyelids narrowed into little slits. She kept repeating to him, slowly and calmly, measuring out every word, "You... will... do... none... of... that."
We found out later that it all started when Zeus showed her the steampunk blowpipe made out of scrap, an old soda machine, and CO2 cartridges. He said he had spiked the paralyzer with the Awful Truth Serum. It wouldn't make you tell the truth; it would make you realize it. He wanted to try every chemical he could find in the lab on the sorry hoomin and make it all look like an accident. He had wanted to lure the doctor, his wife, and his undergraduate mistress into the lab and make it all seem like a drunken brawl. He had hoped they would off one another in the heat of the moment.
That's when Suzy suggested that he was running a fever and that maybe he should go to see the vet. She said that she had had enough of his nonsense and that to give his ego a ride, he would put everybun in danger. If he didn't change his mind, she was going to put him on basket-weaving duty, or he could go back to chewing lead pipes. Ohhhh, that got him. That's when his eyes popped out. Then, we walked in on it all.
When she had had enough of him, she turned to us and said, "Let's get some noms and call it a night. He's supposed to go on a stakeout in the lab and figure out how to get complete access to the place. He said he had an idea, so it's about time he put it to work. I want the bust to be boring. I don't want brawls, catfights, or fireworks. When we're finished, there should be no trace of us or what we've done. The hoomins should be oblivious to the fact that the critters are missing. That's the only way this can work. Otherwise, we'll have a mess on our paws that we'll never be able to clean up."
We slept in the next morning. I really felt like I needed it. I thought I had done nothing but have fun the day before, so why should I be so worn out? I'm not exactly sure when I noticed that something was off. Usually, I, or we, don't get to sleep in. We do this whole show for the hoomins. You know, we get all excited about veg and hay, prance around for the nanners, and stuff like that. That means we're up early when the hoomins are up, but this morning, it was different, and it all was quiet. The next thing that hit me was the little nagging feeling in my gut that something was wrong. Very wrong. I can't define it, but I know when I have it. Then, my head tries to convince me that I'm just imagining things, making problems where there aren't any. However, the more my head tries to talk me out of that bad feeling, the stronger the feeling gets. Finally, my head goes, "Yeah, there's a problem, let's panic!"
I hopped over to Abby and Molly. They had the same frightened look on their faces. "Where's Suzy?" I whispered. "She got ill; went to the vet just now," said Molly. She had tears in her eyes. The silence of the house amplified my fright. It had free reign now, and it seemed to me it filled every nook and cranny of the dwelling. Very slowly, I hopped toward the ratties. They were just as perplexed. I didn't see Zeus anywhere. I asked, "Where's Zeus?!?" my voice rising in pitch, harmonizing with the intensity of the dread, tearing up my stomach, chewing on my vagal nerve. "He's hiding under the pad," said Frankie. "We just found out that Suzy got rushed to the vet," said Mila. Next, the realization settled in that all we could do I wait. "We could use Singularia to go and spy on them," suggested Milly, her voice breaking as she pleaded. "Oh, my!" said Abby. "Toes, you said Singularia was, I mean is, a medical service unit, right?" I nodded "Yes." "If we could get her to Singularia, maybe she could get patched up, no?" continued Abby. "Maybe, maybe not," I said. "Sometimes, it's really hard to tell how these things will go. The hoomins made the right call. They got to her first. I'm sure they'll do everything they can to help her," I said, trying to convince myself more so than any bunny around.
Waiting while frightened tends to distort my perception of time. I couldn't tell if an hour passed or fifteen minutes. I heard the hoomins come back. I heard them sobbing. I felt my world became tidally locked with the sun, and I was on the dark side of it, where the sun would never shine again. Molly collapsed and covered her head with her little paws.
We sunk into a stupor for a long time. Everything got put on hold. We didn't even have the will or energy to put on the smallest feast in Suzy's honor.
Eventually, Frankie gathered us up and proposed a simple road trip. He made Zeus take the lead just so Zeus could give his head a rest and focus on something outside of himself, even if it was just for few hours. We would visit an astronomical observatory or, as he called it, the "contemplatorium." We agreed. Molly said we would have to try out this type of travel with Singularia if we ever wanted to go through with the bust, so this was as good an excuse to get out of the house as any.
So we went, through the basement, the pot belly stove, Singularia, another remote port, and on to the observatory. Well, no, we would rather not disclose where the place is. Let it suffice it's way above the sea level; the air is thin, and the view of the Milky Way to the naked eye is spectacular.
We had the port in a cupboard, in the cafeteria. It was late at night, or very early in the morning, pick your point of view. We had to get every hoomin out of the place, but we realized we didn't have a good plan for that. We had no plan at all, to be honest. Just as we were about to turn around and go back, Frankie had an "Aha!" moment. In a place like this, full of geeks, nerds, and other talent, chances are something would slip out of someone's pocket and end up on the floor.
Frankie said, "Cover your ears and get under the table, it's gonna get loud and wet here in a minute. Then a loud, ear-piercing noise shattered the night, and a torrential downpour fell from the ceiling. The fire alarm and sprinklers went off in the cafeteria. (No, I won't tell you how he did it. Figure it out if you really want to know, OK?) Next, humanity's best and brightest spilled out of the building. There was just enough confusion that we slipped through and gained access to the telescope, unnoticed by anyone. We had the place to ourselves for a moment. Zeus managed to point the telescope at pre-planetary nebula IRAS 16594-4656, in the southern constellation of Ara.
"OK, why this one, Zeus?", I asked. "This is known as the 'Water Lily Nebula.' Do you know where the name 'Suzy' comes from or what it means?" asked Frankie. After a moment of silence, he continued, "... in Hebrew; 'Suzy' means 'Graceful Lily' or 'Lily,' depending on whom you ask. This nebula contains hydrocarbons, the prerequisite building blocks of life. In places like that, the primordial soup of life starts to simmer. We wouldn't be here without it."
When it was my turn to look at it, I slowly put my good eye to the eyepiece and got choked up. I've never seen anything through a telescope. The picture was sharp and bright. I wanted to reach out with my paw and touch the nebula. It was right there. To think that I was looking at a spot where a planet like ours could form and precious little creatures like Suzy could grow up to live on it. Our own neck of the woods had looked like that, a long, long time ago. Maybe, somebunny a long, long time ago was looking at the cloud of dust and hydrocarbons that I grew up from and thought the same thing?
I knew Suzy never left us. Not really. She never could or would. We would always be together.