Joshua Only Played With Rabbits






Joshua only played with rabbits. She kept repeating in her head while her eyes closed tight for a long minute.
"She was found this morning," said Detective Peter O'Brien, his voice barely audible. "Stabbed in an alley near here. Skin peeled back like an orange."
"Joshua only played with rabbits," she half whispered.
The first day Missy Allen went missing O'Brien wanted to organize yet another search party, but they'd already looked everywhere. Fairfield County had every stone turned up. Finally they had clear evidence of the abduction. 88 year old Marge Wallace's 60 year old retarded son was the person of interest. He worked part time at a pet shop and loved playing with rabbits. The owner of the pet shop would give him rabbits to take home and care for, but he would stab them to death and peel the fur off. It wasn't just every now and again, it was all the time. No rabbit was safe in his care.
"I need to see your son."
"Detective, he doesn't know any better. He is slow."
"Quick with a knife though," O'Brien added.
"Mommy is it safe to come out?" Joshua cried. The voice was piped and wavered, never quite on key. O'Brien pushed passed Marge and walked toward a back room. There was a pad lock on the door, and a chain wrapped around the door handle. The detective wanted to kick in the door and peel the skin off of Joshua Wallace. Every part of him, his arms, his legs even his skin suffered for revenge. He didn't care about Joshua's mental state.
"Open the door Mrs. Wallace," O'Brien demanded.
"Mommy?"
"Run Joshua!" Marge Wallace screamed as O'Brien kicked in the door.
Joshua Wallace stood there, he was a dark hunched bulk behind the closet door. Peter O'Brien just wanted to shoot him like a rabid dog. He fought back that urge. O'Brien took a deep breath, but it didn't work. He took another deep breath and that didn't work, he felt dizzy, his head hurt. He kept imagining that little girl screaming while her skin was peeled away.
Detective Peter O'Brien took out a photo of Missy Allen. She was in pink bows and lace, carefully posed before a blue backdrop. Toothy, with a say cheese type of smile. Every curl and braid in place. he held the photo in front of Joshua Wallace and a couple of times slapped him in the face with it.
"You killed this little girl, you monster!"
"Joshua only played with rabbits," Joshua replied as he crouched down.
"He is telling the truth detective," Marge Wallace said as she entered the room. "I have to admit that trying to frame my son for that murder was what I had planned. You see i'm getting too old to take care of him and the state wouldn't arrest him for killing. They would institutionalize him and take good care of him. Don't get me wrong, I tried to teach him how to kill using rabbits, but he wouldn't kill people. I had to do the killing, and I stabbed that little girl and peeled her skin, then he would do the same with rabbits. I wanted the police to think he did that to the little girls too."
"Little girls?" O'Brien was puzzled.
"We did it several times," she grimaced. "The girl you found in the alley was not the first one."
Despair, disgust it came, then the pain, welling up in him like a ball of red fire, bursting in the center of his heart. O'Brien couldn't even disgest the words coming from her mouth. His eyes looking back at Joshua for a moment then back to Marge Wallace. O'Brien's skinned crawled, a clammy feeling came over him. Joshua sank to the floor and he covered his face.
"Joshua only played with rabbits, " he whimpered.

What would you have done in O'Brien's Place?

See results without voting

© 2014 Frank Atanacio

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Comments 46 comments

billybuc profile image

billybuc 24 months ago from Olympia, WA

I'm suddenly feeling a chill. :)

I just posted a hub about writing a great opening.

Joshua only played with rabbits....that, my friend, is a dynamic opening.


Frank Atanacio profile image

Frank Atanacio 24 months ago from Shelton Author

ahh the check is in the mail my friend LOL thanks Billybuc :)


Jackie Lynnley 24 months ago

Billy is right; you know how to grab us with your stories.

Now how about writing for my Winter Memories Challenge. Got 3 people already who have. Be fun to read something from everyone wouldn't it? Come on!


Frank Atanacio profile image

Frank Atanacio 24 months ago from Shelton Author

thank you dear sweet Jackie Lynnley..hmmm :)


always exploring profile image

always exploring 24 months ago from Southern Illinois

OMG, dearest mama! I eat an orange every morning, think I'll switch to something non- peeling. Gruesome...


Frank Atanacio profile image

Frank Atanacio 24 months ago from Shelton Author

LOL silly// always


annart profile image

annart 24 months ago from SW England

I'm left stunned by this; it made my stomach churn. What a chilling, punch-in-the-face piece; you've out-starred yourself this time, Frank.

Ann


Frank Atanacio profile image

Frank Atanacio 24 months ago from Shelton Author

thank you so much annart.. bless you


MsDora profile image

MsDora 24 months ago from The Caribbean

Sick mother and son! I guess they go to rehab while the girls go--well, they're gone. You really know how to tear through to our emotions, Frank.


clivewilliams profile image

clivewilliams 24 months ago from Nibiru

mmm....did he cook the rabbits after peeling them, i have a recipe for a gooood rabbit stew!....Clive only ply with rabbits too. Sweet and chilling, my kind of horror suspense. Good write, i hope one day someone will read your stories and give you a book deal. I have read many stories nd you have the knack for grabbing and maintaining peoples attention.


phdast7 profile image

phdast7 24 months ago from Atlanta, Georgia

fRank - Good story, but fabulous first line. It doesn't get any better than that. Blessings!


FitnezzJim profile image

FitnezzJim 24 months ago from Fredericksburg, Virginia

Awesome story. The first line grabs you, the story holds you, and the ending leaves you with the feeling you will never look at a rabbit the same way again, and certainly will never eat rabbit stew.


Faith Reaper profile image

Faith Reaper 24 months ago from southern USA

That is certainly a great opening line and title for this gruesome write!

Yes, he only "played" with rabbits ... Yikes, dear Frank, you have painted and planted terrifying images in our brains with this horrific and graphic piece.

Thankfully, I never cared for rabbit stew!

Hugs and blessings to you and yours


Frank Atanacio profile image

Frank Atanacio 24 months ago from Shelton Author

thank you so much Ms Dora for reading my rabbit


Frank Atanacio profile image

Frank Atanacio 24 months ago from Shelton Author

thank you clive :)


Frank Atanacio profile image

Frank Atanacio 24 months ago from Shelton Author

thank you Phdast7 and fitnezz jim for reading my rabbit


Frank Atanacio profile image

Frank Atanacio 24 months ago from Shelton Author

Faith thank you for sharing your comment.. always good to have a little faith on my page..bless you dear one


christinemariezzz 24 months ago

Frank,

Eloquent drama, poised in truth.

Agree with other Hubbers: "gruesome", "tearing through to our emotions."

"...trying to frame my son for that murder is what I had planned...."

She was probably different at age 28 with a slow newborn son; but after 60 years she herself weakened. (Are those her hands?) How common do we know this to be? Rich lesson how significant our frailty and need to bear each other's weaknesses. This women was crying out loudly: "HELP!" If only her groans could have been heard earlier, preventing death.

~christinemarie


Frank Atanacio profile image

Frank Atanacio 24 months ago from Shelton Author

thank you christine for the wonderful review type comment..LOL bless you girl :)


tillsontitan profile image

tillsontitan 24 months ago from New York

I always love to see a new story by Frank. Each one has its own unique appeal. This one was certainly a grabber. Here we are thinking Joshua deviated from rabbits when all the time it was his sick mother.

Like Detective O'Brien I felt a twist in my stomach.

Like Christine (above), I felt a twinge for the mother as well and couldn't vote in your poll. This one was outstanding.

Voted up, useful, awesome, and interesting.


Frank Atanacio profile image

Frank Atanacio 24 months ago from Shelton Author

thank you so much Till, for always reading my shorts..:)


Smilealot 24 months ago

You always get me with that twist at the end Frank, great story telling as always my friend:-))


Frank Atanacio profile image

Frank Atanacio 24 months ago from Shelton Author

thank you so much smilealot


AudreyHowitt profile image

AudreyHowitt 24 months ago from California

Oh this sent chills down my spine Frank!


Jodah profile image

Jodah 24 months ago from Queensland Australia

This was the creepiest story yet Frank....you just get better and better. "Joshua only played with rabbits" just the title had me trapped....amazing. Voted up.


Frank Atanacio profile image

Frank Atanacio 24 months ago from Shelton Author

thank you Audrey and Jodah for stopping by :)


Genna East profile image

Genna East 24 months ago from Massachusetts, USA

Frank, I couldn’t answer your question poll. I honestly don’t know which I would choose if I were O’Brien after reading this riveting story with a twist ending. I do know that it will be some time before I can bring myself to eat another orange. {{Shudder.}} A powerful story -- from that opening line, on.


Frank Atanacio profile image

Frank Atanacio 24 months ago from Shelton Author

thank you Genna East for reading my short


FlourishAnyway profile image

FlourishAnyway 23 months ago from USA

I love the repeating line and found this very creepy. It had a mommy dearest quality to it. Gave me the chills. How horrific.


Frank Atanacio profile image

Frank Atanacio 23 months ago from Shelton Author

thank you Flourish and hope you had a great Christmas :)


tobusiness profile image

tobusiness 23 months ago from Bedfordshire, U.K

Frank, I can't believe I missed this brilliant piece of writing. This story chilled me to the core. Exceptional my friend.


Frank Atanacio profile image

Frank Atanacio 23 months ago from Shelton Author

thank you tobusiness :)


sweetpikez profile image

sweetpikez 23 months ago

Dear Frank,

Do you want me to continue this stomach whirlwind story? Off course, I CAN'T. Only you can make a catchy and unique story. Somehow I feel for Joshua.

Regards,

Sweetpikez


Frank Atanacio profile image

Frank Atanacio 23 months ago from Shelton Author

I bet you could sweetpikez.. i bet you could happy new year :)


LadyFiddler profile image

LadyFiddler 23 months ago from Somewhere in the West

Frank what the heck is wrong with granny? at that age your still a season killer? where is she getting the strength to do such murders. Geez i thought it was Joshua but tanty not easy!

Even skinning Rabbits is awful so either way he's a butcher just like his mama.

Good story very engaging :)


Frank Atanacio profile image

Frank Atanacio 23 months ago from Shelton Author

thank you lady and happy new year to you and your family :)


LadyFiddler profile image

LadyFiddler 23 months ago from Somewhere in the West

Thanks Frankie and same to u and yours


Frank Atanacio profile image

Frank Atanacio 23 months ago from Shelton Author

bless you


The Examiner-1 profile image

The Examiner-1 23 months ago

That was a superb story Frank. I voted that if I was O'Brien I would have punished both by: Joshua - having an institute take care of him and teach him how valuable rabbits are; Marge - putting her in a mental hospital for what she did after minimal time behind bars. I voted up, shared an pinned it.

Kevin


Frank Atanacio profile image

Frank Atanacio 23 months ago from Shelton Author

thanks Kevin and happy new year :)


Peggy W profile image

Peggy W 21 months ago from Houston, Texas

Sometimes it is the people that one would least expect who turn out to be the worst kind of criminal monsters. That was certainly one sick and evil mother! I thought for a moment that O'Brien was going to faint and he would become the next victim. Up votes!


Frank Atanacio profile image

Frank Atanacio 21 months ago from Shelton Author

thanks so much Peggy for stopping by :)


AudreyHowitt profile image

AudreyHowitt 19 months ago from California

Still one of my favorites Frank! Bravo!


Frank Atanacio profile image

Frank Atanacio 19 months ago from Shelton Author

thanks Audrey :)


Missy Smith profile image

Missy Smith 9 months ago from Florida

Oh goodness! I think I picked this one to read today because of the bunnies, now the image of them being skinned is making my face grimace every time I think of it.

The mother is sick! The poor kid, he didn't know any better but to kill and skin those rabbits. This image will stay with me for the whole day today I think.

The creepy part for me was the little girl's name of course. Seeing as I am a Missy, and Allen is my mom's maiden name and my son's middle name, spelled just that way A-L-L-E-N. Poor Missy Allen!

I know you have a lot of flash fiction stories I haven't read. I haven't been on hubpages as long as some of the others here commenting. I hope I get caught up when my time permits. Take Care, Frank! You had to name the victim Missy Allen, huh? (laughing)


Frank Atanacio profile image

Frank Atanacio 9 months ago from Shelton Author

Oh my goodness what a coincidence.. LOL I am so glad you weren't the real victim..LOL thanks so Much Missy Allen for visiting my Joshua :)

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