Thomas K. Carpenter is a full-time urban fantasy / magical academy author. His bestselling, multi-series universe, The Hundred Halls, has over 28 books and counting. His books focus on fantastic families, magical academies, and epic adventures. All the books can be found at major retailers and directly from the author at


The number of places her mother had forced her to crawl through in pursuit of data skimmings couldn’t be counted on either of Daisy’s hands, but she’d gotten her growth spurt last year and this glorified gash in the old fence looked poised to do damage.

“Get yur finger outta yur ass and get the hell in there, Daisy, before I give ya the backside of my prols,” said Morticia Walker.

Daisy reflexively flinched. When no backhand followed, she said, “Yes, mum,” and forced her way through the gap in the fence at the back of the old Victorian three-story house. The old wood had a stiff knot that cut her shoulder, but she managed to fit through, a blessing and a curse of a project kid diet. Behind the safety of the fence, Daily gave her mother the middle finger, silently cursing the woman who somehow had been gifted the prime genetic role as her mother, a position that seemed to have been given without regard to Daisy’s interest in the matter. Daisy would have required a few more tangibles in her applicants: a healthy—even modest—bank account, teeth that didn’t look like someone had left a bunch of white locker doors half-open, and a brain that had more than two modes—starving rat-cunning or lazy cookie-dough-eating Caligula.

It was a wonder to Daisy that someone had gotten close enough to Morticia to gift her with a child, but maybe that’s why the gent wasn’t still around. Daisy assumed that her freckles, dirty blonde hair, and brown skin—all which made her feel like the living embodiment of autumn, especially when you included her gray eyes which matched the perpetual skies of her young life—had come from her father. Sure as data could lie, her wits had to have come from him, as Morticia’s only surfaced after great setbacks.

Daisy tried not to imagine turning Morticia’s eye screens to a pea-fog opacity and disappearing into the projects but the woman had full parental control over her system, and could track her down within a few hours, so she focused on the job, which was skimming the house data to sell on the black market.

The gipper—the data port for the house—looked like a pair of chrome googly eyes. She’d found it behind a gnarly old bush that hadn’t been trimmed in months, and probably hid a family of rats somewhere in its depths, but one good kick usually sent even the most aggressive rodents scurrying away. Daisy untethered her dongle and stickied it to the gipper, being careful with the polarities.

The house had standard encryption. Not the basic package, but an upgraded version that would require more time than Morticia would give her, so Daisy cloned the whole system to crack later. Daisy barely had her head through the fence hole when Morticia clapped her ear so hard it rung. The sharp edge ripped a hole in her shirt—bloodied it, too.

“That wasn’t long enough to get any damn thing done,” said Morticia.

“I cloned it. They used the system straight out of the box. I bet half the houses in this neighborhood have the same. Once I crack it, we can scoop the lot of it in a few days rather than the weeks it would take otherwise,” said Daisy defiantly. “We’ll have more than enough data to sell on the open market once I figure it out.”

“Well aren’t you precocious,” said Morticia.

Daisy was fairly certain that her mother meant precious, but in this case, she wasn’t going to correct her.

Morticia glanced across the street, eyes scheming, and licked her lips. “Fine, we’ll do it your way. But Lolly Dollface’s final sticker comes out tomorrow, if I ain’t got the full set, then you can forget about eating for the next few days.”

Daisy sensed a finger flick to the forehead coming, tensing up, even though she knew that made it worse, when Morticia’s anger melted away into a deranged smile.

“Look alive,” said her mother through gritted teeth as she straightened. “And fix your damn bloody shirt.”

An older gentleman in a brown suit and a bowler hat was headed their way. Daisy put her back to the fence to hide the trickle of blood headed down her shoulder blade.

“Evening ma’am,” said the old gent with a swing to his step, adding a wink for Daisy.

He went on with nary a doubt about their belonging in the neighborhood. That was one thing that Morticia screwed up less than her tawdry, roulette wheel, love life. She knew how to play a role, and went to great lengths picking out the right clothing to steal to make them fit in. Which usually worked, at least until she opened her big, fat dumb mouth.

“My, my, aren’t you a sweet meat, sugar,” said Morticia. “I’d gobble you up without even a dab of BBQ sauce.”

The old gent’s head twitched upon hearing her projects droll, but he continued his journey, either out of sheer disgust at her naked come-on or because he was hurrying back to his house to alert the authorities.

Once he was out of sight, Daisy kicked the fence in frustration. “You’re going to get us caught.”

That flick she’d been dreading came straight for her forehead. “You ain’t the kicker here, but the kickee. Don’t you forget about it. And don’t worry about me: sometimes you got to throw out a lot of lines to see if you can bait a fish.”

Daisy rolled her eyes when Morticia turned away. Bait a fish was her term for sleeping with someone long enough to steal as much money as she could get a hold of.

They were about to leave when a blast startled them both. A guy in a farmer’s mesh hat carrying a sonic weapon that shot air at such speeds it could shred skin was yelling from the Old Victorian porch. Daisy didn’t see the nut-brown rabbit at first because it was huddled on the edge of the sidewalk, shaking like the wind.

The closed circuit tower on the street corner spat out: “The Church of the Tortured Goose will pursue legal action if its property is damaged.”

The guy with the sonic weapon raised his middle finger at the speakers before returning inside.

“Tortured Goose? What’s that?” asked Daisy.

“The competition,” said Morticia, sneering. “Fucking collection of litigious algorithms that use jacked up critters to bypass the propoganda laws. Stupid bureaucrats thought they’d stop all the spam and data skimming by requiring a living being to be present, but there’s always a fucking loophole. I should march over there and stomp that little ball of fur to death, but that threat the Church made ain’t no sweet kitty.”

“Church of the Tortured Goose,” said Daisy. “Never heard of such a thing.”

Morticia put her hand on Daisy’s shoulder, a gesture that was as close as she’d ever gotten to being motherly in a few years. “This is why you need an old hag like me. Snot-nosed brat like yourself don’t know nothing, but that Church changes its name every few weeks or months, to avoid all the lawsuits and bullshit that comes along with their brute force data sniping. Last time I saw one, it was the Church of Undulating Bears. Before that, the Jerking Llamas. Either way, it means that if we don’t get cracking, that skinny little meal over there is going to have us for lunch. No one will want the data if it’s already been sold. Now, come on, child. You got work to do.”

Morticia marched away, clearly expecting Daisy to be right behind, but she couldn’t tear her eyes off the slender rabbit headed the opposite direction, feeling like she’d seen a kindred soul.


Myx the rabbit ate the succulent data spewing from the sagging Victorian three-story, a joyless task that did nothing for the hollowness at his center. While the nut-brown rabbit patiently watched crickets fling themselves with wild abandon into the diseased bushes, his overmind did the real work, patiently cataloging and devouring the leaky infosphere.

Tasty timothy-grass. Hearty brome.

Myx hopped forward, spying a clump of common grass poking from the gap between the sidewalk and the concrete stairs. Reflexively, he surged towards the meal only to find himself off-target. Myx knew this trick would continue until the overmind approved the feeding, so he stayed still, conserving energy in his trembling body.

Tasty timothy-grass. Hearty brome. Crunchy oat hay.

A signal ding, followed by a yellow line stretching towards the Old Victorian, brought Myx forward with measured hops. Memories of reckless dashes around the yard yearned in his slender feet, as the digital meter overlaying his sight that measured his data mining quota filled ever so slightly, barely reaching past a third. He reached the steps, quivering in anticipation as the overmind bombarded the house’s firewall, rattling loose the real juicy bits. The quiet lasted until a crash rose from the interior of the house, followed by shouting, and footsteps heading towards the front. Myx twitched towards the sidewalk, but the overmind hadn’t given him permission to move, blaring a warning tone in his ear. The door slammed open, followed by a tall angry shape blocking out the light.

“Get your damn propo away from my house!”

A field of red laid out before Myx—a warning to run—so he burst forward, zig-zagging as sonic shreds tore apart the mottled dirt. Fear burned through Myx like a wildfire, the kaleidoscope of shapes and information colliding on his eyescreens. The mad dash ended when the rabbit reached the safety of the sidewalk.

A disembodied voice echoed from the nearby closed circuit speaker: “The Church of the Tortured Goose will pursue legal action if its property is damaged.”

The eater on the porch extended his long metal arm at Myx, who froze, shivering. No escape routes had been authorized by the overmind. The sidewalk was a dull whitish gray and a strange, new buzzing droned through his head. There were two female eaters near the fence, so it knew it couldn’t go that way, either.

After a tense minute, the eater disappeared into his Victorian house, oblivious to the rich data exhaust covering his home. The purpose of the gray soot was unknowable to Myx, but he understood that the more of the stuff the overmind could collect, the better he would be fed and housed. The rest of the neighborhood had already been mined, which only increased the ache in Myx’s belly, as he eyed the data quota bar, salvia collecting in his mouth.

Tasty timothy-grass. Hearty brome. Crunchy oat hay.

After a long fruitless day, Myx followed the snaking green line to the pickup point, hopping into the bright green box on wheels, which sped across the city, entering the warehouse through a hole in the wall. The buzzing oscillated, at times as loud as a bee, other times a whisper of wind through grass. He exited his transportation, entering his cage. Myx slurped at the clean water bowl and squatted in the artificial hay, afterwards, before sitting in the corner by his empty feeding spot, watching as the cages near him had aromatic hays sliding into their enclosures. The timothy in particular tickled his nose to twitch, the onion-y sharp scent making his back leg thump slightly.

As Myx watched the other rabbits dine on their meals, he huddled against the cage, avoiding the cold breeze that slipped through a crack in the metal wall.

Tasty timothy-grass. Hearty brome. Crunchy oat hay.

Driven by hunger, he hopped to the artificial hay, taking an exploratory, but otherwise pointless bite before returning to the corner. As the lights in the All Hutch winked out, Myx shivered, while the quota bar hovered pointlessly in his vision and the buzzing in his ear grew louder in the quiet, keeping him awake. The other rabbits slept soundly in their cages, feet and noses twitching, while Myx drifted through hazy half-awareness, yearning for the escape that would never come.


A week ago, Morticia had asked Daisy what tranquility meant as she was watching a slop show on her eye-screens. She’d told her mother that it was when hunters had to shoot a wild creature with a dart gun to take them down, which had left a rash of confusion on Morticia’s face. Daisy knew what the word meant, but any minor victory was worth the finger flick that might come later.

But after the visit to the new neighborhood—the one filled with sagging old Victorians, proud but past their time—and the cloning technique, which allowed Daisy to mine vast troves of data for sale, her life had reached a strange state of tranquility. Morticia had completed her set of stickers, eyeing the next cookie-cutter collectable like a cat focused on a red dot. This had given Daisy moments to herself in their apartment, when normally her mother would be lording over her and wielding that finger-flick like a truncheon. Morticia had even sprung for cocoa-caramel ice cream after their last clone run—the dumb name that her mother had given their thievery, cackling each time she said it. The sweet treat had felt like a foreign invader on her tongue, lighting up all the warmth and desires for something else. Something more.

During this time of peace, her thoughts were never far from the nut-brown rabbit she’d spied across the street. The poor creature was stuck in the same life she was, a unfortunate realization Daisy had made when she’d learned about the overmind. The only difference between her and the rabbit, was she had Morticia as her mother, albeit one that treated her no better than an animal. Sometimes she wondered how she could be related to that awful person.

When she wasn’t scraping data, Daisy used her free time to learn about the Church of the Random Animal, which is what most people called it online since they changed their name so often, firing lawsuits like bullets at a Texas BBQ at anyone who dared to question their methods. They used neuro interfaces in animals—typically rabbits, but sometimes raccoons or even Burmese rats in big cities—to sneak close enough to properties to data mine. No one really knew if the Church was real, or an algorithm experiment gone wrong, but it’d persisted long enough to occupy a lucrative niche in the market. Daisy cared less about the Church itself, and more about the rabbit she’d seen last week. It’d occupied her thoughts as much as the stickers and stealing wallets from wrinkly old men did her mother.


The tired Victorians, lawns bespeckled with tufts of pale grass, provided little food for either the overmind, or Myx who returned to his cage each night, eating no more than was required to keep him moving. The neighborhood became a nightmarish warren, with only eaters for company. The longing to leap through high heather, dine on timothy, drink from trickling streams faded from memory until they were only instinctual urges. Myx knew he was dying. It would be easy not to enter the little green box when the cage door opened, but the little hot center of the nut-brown rabbit burned like a tiny sun. Delirious with the ache of hunger, stomach shriveled to a size of a pinhead, Myx was barely aware until he’d hopped back onto the sidewalk for another round of pointless wandering.

The rabbit knew that something was wrong; not just with him, but the overmind. It buzzed and clicked in his ear, the precious information soot that it scooped up from the houses came like yogurt through a drinking straw. After weeks, his quota bar was only halfway filled. It appeared the houses were developing better protections against his kind.

The overmind filled Myx’s vision with yellow and red lines, but half of them were pixelated and disjointed, like a toddler with a stubby crayon. The rabbit hopped forward onto the sidewalk. Clicks filled his right ear and the screen flashed blank.

“Well, hello there,” said a tall eater in a brown covering. “Poor little thing, huddled against the fence. I can see your ribs.”

Myx was painfully aware of the enormous creature leaning down to inspect him. The twitches of escape misfired in his backlegs, the fuel long burned out. The eater inspected him for a few moments before making a noise in the back of his throat and continuing down the sidewalk in long strides.

Myx didn’t move for a time, because the overmind usually gave him instructions on where to go. In fact, normally when the eaters approached, he was given permission to flee. That the eater was allowed to inspect him up close was curious. If only Myx could move, maybe he could find nourishment. He lifted his shaking head, hoping for nearby greenery. Across the dead lane where the metal giants roamed, green tufts poked from the cracked earth—the wild children of a flash rain.

There. Myx’s vision was blurry, but his nose could sense the edible greenery. A sweet, tangy leaf not yet soiled by the hard world. Traversing the dead lane usually came with instructions from the overmind when the metal giants were elsewhere, but Myx would have to chance it on his own.

The tentative hops, like a fisherman tugging on a lure, made for slow progress. Myx had made it to the cracks at the center when a humming in his ear turned to a rumble. Frozen in place, the black feet of another metal giant sped past the rabbit’s location, sending his whiskers to quiver. After it was gone, the surge of adrenaline provided the final fuel for Myx to reach the grass.

The long stems crunched in his timid mouth, sweet onion-y leaves slipping past his lips until he’d consumed the discovered meal. Trembling in the unfamiliar glow of sating, Myx made a tiny glee hop.

The nut-brown rabbit lifted his head. Maybe there were more meals to be found without the interference of the overmind. A creeping hope wormed its way into his heart. Tiny clicks, and random pixels formed in his vision, but no further instructions were given.

Myx traversed the cracked yard, discovering a few ailing shoots, before finding himself near the edge of an end house. A pathetic copse of trees occupied the space at the end of the lane; an embarrassment to the neighborhood residents, but a rich garden for the rabbit. If the overmind no longer controlled his movements, he could find a home in the trees, maybe even wild rabbits. His back leg thumped with excitement. Myx prepared for the final sprint across the yard when the speaker in his ear popped and sizzled. Before he could move a single hop, the screens on his tiny eyes filled in with buzzing static.


Daisy was sure that something was wrong with the rabbit, stumbling around in a yard that was nothing more than a carpet of dust. She took a step in that direction before she was yanked backward by her blue hair.

“Nothin’ that way for you, darling. I told you once, that the Church don’t mess around. I fear ’em more than the police. They’re like herpes—they never go away,” said Morticia, cackling at her private joke.

A lie that she wasn’t really going to check on the rabbit formed on her lips, but Morticia gave her a lip-curling squint, a dead-eyed stare that would have made a Wild West gunslinger proud.

“More clone run then, mother,” said Daisy, receiving an angled tooth grin.

They hit five more houses. The rabbit was on Daisy’s mind the whole time. She knew the idea of the rabbit as a pet was ludicrous. Besides the Church, her mother would never allow it, since it was another mouth to feed. But Daisy couldn’t help it.

“I dropped my backup dongle,” said Daisy near a park where a pack of kids her age were climbing over metal scaffolding and playing an ARG, using their fingers as guns, laughing and making ‘bang-bang!’ noises.

“Well, what you do a dumb thing like that for,” sneered Morticia. “See, that’s your dad’s genes poking their ugly head through. He always was a load of worms for brains, which is why I dropped his ass.” Her mother paused. “Be quick about it. My slop show is comin’ on soon, and I want to be cozied back home for it.”

The implications about what her mother was going to do back in the apartment gave her the shudders. Daisy sped the opposite way, knowing she wouldn’t have much time before Morticia might suspect the real reason. Daisy found the rabbit in the place she’d seen it last. It huddled at the center of the yard. She pinged it for deets, a surface level information inquiry that required no hacking.

“A boy rabbit, huh. Myx,” she said, liking the way the name rolled off the tongue.

After checking for adults, she crouched near the rabbit. Up close the ribs were like ruffles on a tight pleat. Daisy wasn’t even sure how the poor creature was alive. She reached out and placed her hand on Myx’s trembling back, feeling the tiny spine bones, caressing the fur which had started to come out in clumps. Even without hacking in, she could see something was wrong with the processor that ran the local program. Hazy eyes crackled with static.

“Poor thing, you can’t see,” said Daisy. “Someone or something damaged your processor. That’s why you’re not eating; you can’t see. Nor does it appear that the Church is giving you anything when you’re not harvesting data.” She paused at that cruelty, realizing that is not like tactics her own mom would use. “What the hell am I doing here? Morticia would cook you for lunch … but, maybe I could fix you so you could feed yourself. Be free with the other rabbits. If there are any wild ones left.”

Daisy feared this sort of repair was beyond her. She had a knack for hacking using other people’s tools, but had never learned a lick of reprogramming. Morticia didn’t give her that sort of time, even though it would be way more lucrative for the both of them. She found a connecting port, but the processor didn’t respond to any commands. Daisy was about to query the net when she felt the rush of air towards her.


She barely uncrouched before Morticia, coming on like a summer storm, smashed Myx with her size nine sparkly pink heel. Daisy managed to get her hip in the way, which meant the blow wasn’t a direct hit, but the rabbit made an awful sound and went tumbling across the dirt to land near the house, motionless.

“You ungrateful brat,” said Morticia, grabbing her blue hair and dragging her backwards. “You lie to me again, I will send you to your father. He can deal with your dumb ass.”

The pain across Daisy’s scalp was nothing compared to the hole punched through her heart as she waited for the nut-brown rabbit to move again as she was dragged across the road.

Daisy barely remembered the ride back to their apartment, Morticia’s angry words filling her ear the whole time, about how wonderful a mother she was for putting up with such insolence. Of course, Morticia didn’t use that word, she’d said something like insoles—but Daisy wasn’t about to correct her.

The ratty, lime-green, mite-infested couch was her abode upon their return. Daisy curled up in a ball, refusing even the promise of ice cream later if she would stop acting like an automaton and at least acknowledge how right her mother was about the foolish rabbit business.

Daisy wasn’t listening. She’d taken the gummy, slop that was her life, rolled it up in a ball in her mind, and was turning it over and over, trying to find a way out, but no matter how many times she poked and prodded the hellish existence, she was left with a simple truth: Morticia had parental rights over her artificial neural system. There was nothing she could do to escape. While Daisy knew that she had the smarts to learn the coding required, she’d never be given the time to work it out, and even if she did, it would be far too late for Myx, who was probably dead already. There was simply no way for Daisy to hack her way out of the situation.


Two realities existed simultaneously for Myx. The first, the bleak tortured version that could be escaped by letting the slow, beating of his heart succumb. In the second reality, one teased by the soft, onion-y grass, and by the strange caress upon his spine, was tantalizingly near. These two were David and Goliath, except the beastly side of the world usually won.

The only respite that Myx enjoyed as he lay on his side in the dusty yard, near an old cobblestone that had once outlined a front garden, was that the kick had silenced the buzzing and clacking, and wiped the static from his vision. The overmind still existed—the quota bar still hovering at the upper right corner of his sight—but it’d been reduced with a lobotomy-like failure to its core systems.

The rabbit tested the few inputs it was usually allowed. The overmind system permitted its charges to signal for needs like eating or drinking. Myx’s overmind often ignored his requests, given his quota bar wasn’t full enough, but now, glitched as it was, it could no longer prevent his actions. Not that it mattered—the rabbit knew he was dying. Only the fading sensation of that caress, and the brief taste of clean grass, kept it sustained for the moment, but that world was fading fast.

Tasty timothy …

Myx couldn’t remember the rest. His mantra of desires, a request for even the simplest needs of life, was no longer available. Only his curiosity—his trainers at the All Hutch had marked him as High Superior—kept him in this world, a David not yet fallen. Not that it mattered. The kick had injured his back leg enough that he would never be able to move far from his spot to find grass.


Sneaking out of the apartment hadn’t been difficult. Morticia had banished her to the bathroom while she watched her slop shows. Normally, Daisy turned up her music and ignored the noises that came from the other room, but this time, she slipped out the window, climbed down the rusty scaffolding, and called an autocar.

The Victorian neighborhood was a ten-minute ride away. She just hoped that the local security systems wouldn’t alert her mother, or the authorities since it was after dark. After paying for her ride with the few credits she had in her personal account, Daisy ran straight out to the house where the nut-brown rabbit lay, hoping that a random scavenger hadn’t shown up and eaten Myx, or that the rabbit had expired already. She gathered two handfuls of grass along the way.

She found Myx where he’d been kicked, laying on his side, a slow, patient rise and fall of his chest. Daisy ran her fingers along the rabbit’s fur, tingles of joy exploding down her arm. After confirming that the external injuries weren’t severe, Daisy scooped up the rabbit and collected him in her lap, ignoring the dirt scuffing up her pants.

“Hi, Myx,” she said, leaning into the rabbit’s vision. “I’m Daisy.”

She offered the rabbit some grass. His whiskers twitched as he carefully munched on the leaves. Daisy fed Myx slowly, not wanting to upset his tiny belly, then pulled out a water bottle she’d stashed in her backpack, poured some in her hand, and let the rabbit drink.

“I see there’s no more static in your eyes,” said Daisy.

She gave Myx a quick scan, finding the connection different from before. She could access the commands the rabbit could use to signal its handlers of his needs, but nothing more.

“If I knew more programming, I’d see if I could fix you,” she said. “Or rather, disconnect you from their system.”

She sat against the house with the nut-brown rabbit in her lap, existing for once as a little girl with a pet. She knew her mother would arrive eventually, dreaded the moment. They were the same, her and Myx, trapped in a life they hadn’t chosen. Myx had no one to take care of him, just like Daisy really had no one that cared for her. Wouldn’t it better that they had each other? But Morticia would never allow that, a fact that Daisy knew she had to fix. She got a good ten minutes of quiet contemplation before Morticia showed up.

“Don’t touch me or I’ll call the cops,” said Daisy with her hand out as she cradled Myx to her chest. She’d worked out the conversation ahead of time in her head, but knew that her mother was an agent of chaos. Anything could happen.

The disheveled Morticia, looking like a doll hastily thrown into the box with its clothing half-torn off, pointed her finger. “I’ll … I’ll send you to your father and he can deal with your disobedient ass,” she said, sneering.

“Fine—you do that,” said Daisy, her heart thumping against her chest.

“He’ll beat you. He beat us both. I did good getting us away, and now it’s me and you against the world. Don’t mess this up, darling. We got a good thing goin’,” said Morticia, taking small steps forward.

“I told you, I’ll call them,” said Daisy, freezing her mother in place.

“That won’t go well for either of us,” said Morticia.

“No. It won’t go well for you, not me,” said Daisy, lifting her chin. “I’m a minor, you’re the adult. You’ll take all the blame. But hey, at least you’ll get free meals and a place to sleep in jail.”

“You—you … ungrateful brat! I took you into my home. Fed you and cared for you when nobody wanted you!” screamed Morticia.

“Wait, what? You took me into your home? I thought I was your daughter?”

Morticia paused, the training wheels turning behind her pink-blushed eyes. “I gave … gave birth to you. You know what I mean.”

“No,” said Daisy, more firmly as the facts of her life finally became clearer. “I’m not your daughter and you’re not my mom,” she said, as a strange emptiness and peace opened inside of her.

Like a cornered rat, Morticia looked every which way before she stabbed her finger at Daisy.

“What does it matter, I still have parental control. You’re mine, you little bitch, and you’ll do what I want,” said Morticia. “Remember, nobody wanted you.”

“Wait—so that was why we stayed at the orphanage? Not because you were working there and you brought me with you as your child …” Reality dawned. “It was because I was there first.”

“Well, I was working at the orphanage when I took pity on you. I mean, even though you were their little precious gifted child and the nuns all fawned over you, the fact remains that no one wanted to adopt you.” She leaned in menacingly. “Until me.”

Daisy blinked as she held Myx closer to her chest. “Liar. You didn’t adopt me. You wouldn’t have passed the parental welfare checks.” Her eyes narrowed. “That can only mean you stole me!” The wild-eyed glare Morticia threw her way told Daisy she’d hit the truth squarely on the head. “Not only are you not going to do anything, but you’re going to relinquish parental control or you’ll be going to jail for kidnapping as well as data theft.”

The facts grew too much for Morticia, who surged forward, raising her hand to strike, when the speakers above them crackled to life.

“The Church of the Amiable Worm will be contacting Morticia Jones shortly!”

The blaring loudspeaker startled Morticia, freezing her in place with her arm in the air like a mannequin at a thrift shop. She glanced up at the pole before pulling back as if she’d been burned. Morticia let out a rage scream which turned lights on in nearby houses, before she went running the opposite direction.

With Myx in her arms, Daisy headed the other way. Doors opened, and heads craned out, but no one said a word, and before long, they were left alone.

Daisy looked down at the little brown face of the rabbit, who was looking up at her with his tiny brown eyes. “Sorry about that. I had to hack your system for a moment to use the speakers. I would have asked, but I’m not quite sure how through your system.”

She hugged Myx to her face, relishing the feel of the warm little body. The rabbit’s whiskers tickled her face. She sensed the contentedness by its relaxed muscles.

Daisy found a park bench, composed a message to her captor demanding that she relinquish control or the cops would be showing up at her slum apartment. Seconds later, a message appeared in her screen.

[You have been emancipated]

Myx lay across her lap as she caressed his back. The rabbit made little noises that felt like grunts of pleasure.

“The funny thing is that I still have the trove of data from our last few days of harvesting,” Daisy said to Myx, who looked up at her with longing. “I can get enough for a place at a motel until we figure out what to do. Maybe I can buy out your contract from the Church.” She stroked his bony body gently. “I’m sure you could use the time to get better. I’ll get all the grass you want. Does that sound good?”

Myx’s back leg thumped softly against her hand.

“Good,” said Daisy, sighing contently as she leaned back against the bench, dialing up the local motels to find a place that would be rabbit friendly.


Myx lay in a pile of blankets that had been turned into a nest for him. He was curled into a ball as he watched Daisy working away at the table. The rabbit didn’t know what she was doing—learning to code from net resources—but it didn’t matter to him. He’d found the thing that he’d been longing for since his days in the All Hutch.

The nut-brown rabbit let his eyes drift closed. There would be adventures ahead for them, but Myx was content in a peaceful existence for the moment.

Tasty timothy-grass. Hearty brome. Crunchy oat hay.

Myx lifted his little brown head, whiskers twitching with pleasure.



Copyright © 2023 by Thomas K. Carpenter.