(This is a short story I wrote about Barking Benjamin, the title character of my anthology Barking Benjamin: Kids’ Stories Not For Kids, available for Amazon Kindle)
Oh, you came! Wonderful! I thought you’d never come back. I thought you’d…ugh…outgrown me.
No, wait, I still think you don’t remember me. What, haven’t you seen my…well, something that resembles my face plastering all those movie posters? Those toys from that one fast food place? You may think these things would be flattering, and they would be if they were actually created with love, if they weren’t just a way for those cynical adults to fill their pockets.
Oh, I’m sorry about that. I’m Barking Benjamin, the lovable dog from the cartoon series of the same name. Don’t you remember? Every episode, Dennis – he was a human, by the way – would be out and about and I would try to help him, only to screw it up. One episode had him playing golf with me as his caddy. I remember how he ranted and raved as I gave him a giant playing card – a “club”, get it?
Oh come on, it was much better than most of the stuff that’s on TV nowadays. Better than most of your “adult” entertainment. Nicer, too.
I miss Dennis.
Most of the time in that show, I was a failure. That’s how I was made. But there were times I did succeed. Sometimes the episode would end with both me and Dennis laughing. It’s Eastertime right now –do you remember my Easter special. Barking Benjamin’s Easter Egg-stravanganza? Don’t you remember the evil scientist who wanted to steal all the chocolate and candy in the world, simply because he wanted children to be sad? Well, me and Dotty…
Oh, Dotty Daschund. She was my girlfriend. Well, anyway, we destroyed the evil scientist’s machine, and this made it rain chocolate all over the world. Dennis and Dotty and even the Easter Bunny himself praised me for this, praised me for making the world a better place. And that’s what I’m going to do this Easter.
I haven’t celebrated Easter in a while. It just doesn’t seem the same without Dennis or Dotty. I don’t think I’ve even had the Easter Bunny pay me a visit recently.
What’s that? The Easter Bunny is a werewolf now? Oh, well, the Easter Bunny in that story is not the Easter Bunny from my show. There are countless worlds created by countless stories, movies and shows, and thus there are countless versions of the Easter Bunny. Some of them have even ended up like me, discovering they were fictional characters. A lot of those Easter Bunnies….they couldn’t handle it. They couldn’t handle the fact that there were worlds out there where Easter eggs were left by children’s parents, where rabbits were incapable of speaking to humans.
So, they ended it all.
So this year, I am actually going to celebrate Easter, but without the Easter Bunny. Because I’m actually going to be the Easter Bunny.
What? I’m kind of like a bunny, aren’t I? I’m furry, and I have big floppy ears. All I have to do is paint myself pink and add some buck teeth. Maybe a waistcoat and a big spotty bow-tie.
You know, I wear a necktie all the time, but now I’m beginning to think it’s too formal. Maybe I should wear a bow-tie instead. But I digress.
So, I cover myself in pink paint. Don’t try this at home, kids. Then the buck teeth. And yes, the waistcoat and bow tie.
Now, let me see. I’ve got the big ears, the teeth, the clothes, have I forgotten anything? Of course, the comically large carrot! Oh, and the eggs.
That’s right. That’s what I’m going to do. I’m going to deliver eggs. I’m going to deliver eggs to your world. People have forgotten the joy of Easter, and what better way to do so then making them see the Easter Bunny is real? Not just any Easter Bunny either, a happy one.
Not a retired one. Not a dead one. Not even a werewolf.
I can just teleport to your world whenever I want to, not that I really want to that much, mind. I have to, though. I’m hopping down the streets with pink fur and a red waistcoat and a basket full of eggs (I decided against the carrot) because I have to.
You know, the fact that I’m giving out candy reminds me of that Lemon Possum character. She seemed so cheerful and she created such delicious food that I wanted her to join me. Too bad she had to be evil. Why do so many nice people turn out to be evil? Wasn’t there a time when all evil people had black top hats and cloaks?
But forget about her. It’s time to drop off some eggs. I’m not going to make a hunt out of it – I can’t think of any good clues – so I’m just going to plop them in a pile in the corner. Like presents under a Christmas tree.
Through the window I go – just now I realise I could have easily gone down the chimney – and there I see a woman already hiding eggs. ‘Don’t worry,’ I say, ‘I’ll take care of the rest.’
‘No, no! Look, I’m the Easter Bunny!’
She screams some more. She shouts obscenities. She throws a lamp right at my face.
Wait, I think, why am I running? I overpower her. I overpower that man in the car. I’m a dog with claws and teeth. I’m a cartoon dog who can pull things from thin air, and can travel through alternate dimensions.
Humans like to imagine things, but they don’t like facing what they’ve imagined. Imagination creates entire worlds, yet those humans don’t want to go those worlds. They don’t want to face the idea that they created conflict just by thinking.
Yet right now, here I am being afraid of a human, even though I have more power.
I’m not. I’m going right back in that house, and I’m going to help that woman be happier.
Yet I don’t want to.
When I try to walk to that house, it’s like there’s an invisible force field surrounding it. My feet freeze in place.
I have to go in there.
But I don’t want to.
I have to. I have to.
I don’t want to. I don’t want to.
Another voice joins the chorus:
I don’t have to.