Sally leaned all of her weight into the door and pushed with both hands, but it wasn't enough; he was just too strong for her.
She had dropped her cell phone somewhere outside, she thought – and even if she hadn't, it wasn't as if she could dig through her purse and pockets right then. The cordless was on the counter behind her, within sight, within reach, if she was willing to take one of her hands away from the door.
And you're going to do what? she asked herself. Call the police and tell them you're being chased by a giant rabbit man who may or may not be known to you? “Screw it,” Sally said. She took a step back from the door.
The creature burst in, somehow managing to send the trim from around the door splintering toward Sally.
She winced and covered her face instinctively, but managed to hold her ground. “You're not real,” she said decisively, trying hard to keep the shake out of her voice.
The creature, who was, true to her first assessment, an over-sized human/rabbit hybrid, jerked back a bit, as if he'd been stung.
“You're not real,” Sally repeated, and again, it seemed to cause him pain. “You're. Not. Real. You're—”
“Sally. What the Hell are you doing? I'm not going to drop dead. I'm not Goddamn Tinkerbell.”
“But,” she said confusedly, stumbling over her words. “But you're not, I mean you're not—”
“—real? Yeah.” He watched her for a minute, as if he was waiting for something. His eyes narrowed. “Jesus, Sally.”
She told herself what she'd been telling him. He wasn't real. She squared her shoulders and raised an eyebrow at him. “Jesus Sally what?”
He got that stung look again, and took a step toward the door. “You don't remember me, do you?”
Sally stared. She started to shake her head no, but stopped and tried to think. It was like meeting someone you haven't seen since high school; you want to remember them, if only to save you both the embarrassment of a continued blank stare.
But it wasn't as though he had a face you could forget. Wholly apart from the fact that it was neither man nor rabbit, yet somehow both, ignoring his high cheekbones and tiny black nose, putting aside his fangs, his long, slender ears and silver white fur, he had a rather noticeable patch of leathery, blue-black, slightly sparkly skin which formed a diamond over the top left quarter of his face – and which seemed to be held in place with black thread.
She hesitated. “Daisy Chain?” She had had a stuffed rabbit when she was a kid, with a patch on its eye and the body of a doll. She probably still had it, somewhere. And she'd had, she could almost recall, an imaginary friend to match.
The man-rabbit sighed. “Thank God. Thought we'd lost you, kid. We have to get going now. I wish we had time to catch up, but I can't always be here to watch you and—”
Sally blinked twice, slowly. “You can't be here,” she said.
“Still not allowed to have boys over?” Daisy Chain laughed. He watched her face for a moment then added, “Sally, I wish I had time to explain all this, but I don't. We need to get going, OK?”
“You're not real,” Sally said.
“Not this again.”
“You're not. You can't be. It isn't physically possible.”
Daisy Chain growled. “Quit dicking around. We need to go.”
“Sally, how long have we known each other?”
“We don't know each other. You're imaginary. I invented you.”
Daisy Chain stuck his head into the hallway, looked around furtively, then came back in and closed the door. “No,” he said in a low voice, “you didn't. But look, I get why you're weirded out about this, I do. A lot of humans stop believing in us if they don't see us for a while—I mean, I didn't expect you to, but it's not your fault.”
“Not my—Look, obviously I'm experiencing some kind of mental breakdown, which is fine, I clearly need help, but I'd appreciate it if you'd go away and let me call an ambulance for myself instead of leering at me and regaling me with your bullshit. OK?”
Daisy Chain sighed. He looked defeated. “OK. I can see you're a lot more rational now than you were as a kid, so look: I'll make us some tea, we'll talk, like two rational people, and if, at the end of our cup of tea, I can't convince you that what you're seeing is real, I'll politely fade into nothing, and you can either call your ambulance or pretend this whole thing never happened, whichever suits you better.” He sighed again. “Deal?”
Sally walked to a chair and sat down at the small table in her kitchenette. “OK,” she said. “Wow me.”
Daisy Chain filled the kettle with water, put it on its stand and flipped it on. “I hate these ones,” he said over his shoulder, as both blue and red LED lights lit up the water. “I don't get why they can't just whistle when they're finished.”
Neither of them said anything until after the kettle had boiled, the red LED had blinked off and Daisy Chain, with paw-like hands, had filled two cups and put teabags in them. He put one down in front of Sally and sat down opposite to her with his own in his hands.
“This is going to be hard to believe—”
“Try impossible.” Sally took a long sip of her tea. “But go on.”
Daisy Chain looked down at his tea, then back at Sally and narrowed his eyes. “I always thought you'd grow up smarter.”
“Just because you're bitter that I invented you—”
“Christ. You didn't invent me.”
“I obviously did. It's not rocket science. I had a little stuffed rabbit called Daisy Chain, my imaginary friend is a rabbit called Daisy Chain.” She took another sip of tea. “Am I missing something?”
The rabbit shook his head and stared despondently into his cup for a moment before looking up. “You humans are so goddamn arrogant, you know that?”
“Did it ever occur to you that maybe, just maybe the man who designed that doll, might have known me? That maybe that was the closest thing he had to a memory of me? That maybe I was the inspiration for the doll and not the other way around? Did you ever stop to think that the only evidence that I ever came to Earth, that I ever even knew him, is a bunch of stupid dolls?”
Sally could feel her shoulders and neck start to tingle. Being yelled at almost always caused some kind of physical response. “You—you're—you're just—you're a liar,” she slurred, pointing accusingly. She pushed the side of her cheek with her outstretched finger, suddenly aware that her face was going numb. The tingling spread down her arms. “You—Hey! You put something—you—put—you... You drugged me!” She stood up, but her legs couldn't support her and she fell onto her knees, spilling the remainder of her tea on the floor. She crawled toward the edge of the linoleum, ignoring the thick, phlegmmy drool which was, by then, all over her hands and forearms and the puddles of tea which were slowly seeping into her jeans. She made it onto the carpet – she almost made it to her front door – before she blacked out.