Ranger Dan’s Boys

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Ranger Dan should have been at work. Instead, he was knelt on the kitchen floor using his arm to sweep the contents of an ankle cupboard into his lap. With the sound of saucepans and cleaning products crashing across the tiles, Ranger Dan’s son ran into the kitchen expecting to find burglars.
‘What the hell’s going on?’ said Yes, Ranger Dan’s son.
‘Where’s my camcorder,’ said Ranger Dan. He then hopped onto his feet, ripped open a kitchen draw and tumbled the contents across the floor.
‘Dad, why aren’t you at work?’
Ranger Dan was a moody and sullen guy employed by the council to maintain the town park. Though not normally a talker, today he made an exception.
He explained that this morning, while tracking down a wantonly abandoned traffic cone, he passed through a slim secluded strip of woodland, popular with amateur truffle hunters. As he stepped over the flattened quilt of foliage, he noticed an unusual glimmer of white from within the mulch. He crouched down, sunk his fingers into the wet leaves and pulled out a miniature white porcelain teapot, the type from a dolls’ house.
Thinking little of it, he slipped the teapot into his breast pocket. As he was about to continue his pursuit, he noticed a slight depression in the ground from where he had retrieved the teapot, like the webbing of vegetation had sunk to fill a gap. He picked at the surface leaves, which peeled off in a great flattened clump, and under the scalp of leaves he discovered a deep hole.
He lay down on his front, pulled out his pocket torch and peered into the hole. Inside was a long wooden table with eight chairs positioned around it. Set before each chair was a tiny white plate, a teacup and an assortment of cutlery. Aligned along the centre of the table were bowls of sliced carrots, cucumbers batons and cherry tomatoes. Ranger Dan was astounded.
He prodded the ground around the table and found a black dirt lodged under his fingernails, confirmed by a taste test as rabbit droppings. Around the walls of the trench, he found clumps of brown rabbit fur and several slices of carrots displayed prominent gnaw marks. The evidence was irrefutable: rabbits were hosting secret underground tea parties.
Now, Yes was sceptical of his father’s discovery. For starters, Ranger Dan couldn’t prove it – he didn’t own a phone – and his father was well known for inventing wild theories, such as the local gym who were littering the town park to discourage people from walking or the family of escaped cats living in tunnels that ran under Pet’s Corner. But Yes loved his dad and agreed to help him get proof.
Each carrying a hiking bag packed with recording equipment, Yes and Ranger Dan set off across the town park, following a secluded route along the hem of a private golf course. They walked in silence until Ranger Dan suddenly dropped his bag onto the ground, indicating this was the spot. He crouched down and removed the scattering of leaves he used to conceal the hole. Yes leaned in, holding his mobile phone above their heads. Ranger Dan turned on his torch and they peered into the hole.
The hole was empty. There weren’t signs of an intelligent rabbit civilisation. It was just a deep dirty hole. Ranger Dan was devastated.
‘I swear it was here. I saw it with my own eyes,’ said Ranger Dan digging his hand into the mud.
‘Sure Dad, I believe you,’ said Yes as he switched off his mobile phone.
Ranger Dan grabbed Yes’s sleeve. ‘Look at this,’ he said, thrusting the white miniature teapot under his nose. Yes went to take the teapot, but it slipped from Ranger Dan’s fingers and fell into the hole. Yes knelt down to retrieve it, but he disappeared the instant he touched the teapot’s tiny porcelain spout.
Ranger Dan’s jaw dropped. His son had vanished. In disbelief, he waved at the space formerly occupied by Yes. He expected to hit something solid, but found the air disappointingly thin. How could a grown man disappear from existence?
And as Ranger Dan pondered this question, suddenly someone new appeared in front of him. A new guy, who appeared just as quickly as Yes had disappeared. He materialised without an introduction or fade-in. The new guy crouched by the hole and looked up at Ranger Dan
‘Alright Pops,’ said the new guy.
‘Who the hell are you?’
‘I’m No,’ he said, ‘your son.’
Ranger Dan squinted at the new guy. He had similar features to Yes, the same blue eyes, square jaw and dimpled nose. But whereas Yes was burly and blonde, the new guy, No, had black quiffed hair, a nose piercing, dirty stubble across his chin and chops. The new guy stood up. He was wearing a black leather jacket.
‘I’m going home. Are you coming?’ asked No.
Ranger Dan didn’t move and No didn’t wait. Ranger Dan watched him pass through the ticket using a folded motorbike magazine to bat away stray bramble branches. He couldn’t understand what had happened. He considered that there are only two possibilities: Yes or No or whatever he was called was his son transported from some spooky corner of the universe or Ranger Dan had gone insane. Both seemed both plausible and implausible at the same time, like a case of Schrödinger’s plausibility.
Ranger Dan reached into the hole, picked up the little white teapot and felt disappointed when nothing happened. He blew off the dirt, slipped it into his pocket and jogged to catch up with No.