Authors: Tamsyn Murray
Applause and cheering floated through from the stage, meaning the show had started. I guessed it wouldn’t be long before the Great Maldini came back. If I didn’t act fast, I’d never see Susie again! Waggling my whiskers, I thought hard. The roof was too low for a backflip and I didn’t fancy bumping my head if I jumped. But, if I balanced on my front paws, maybe I could kick upwards and break-out.
Taking a deep breath, I planted my paws in front of me and did a handstand. Then, with one powerful thump, I hit out at the roof of the cage and caught the hatch with a terrific thrust. The latch snapped and I felt the hatch fly upwards. Quickly, I stood on all fours and nudged at the broken roof. The gap was just big enough for me to jump through. I slid to the floor. Now to get to the stage and show them who the real Stunt Bunny was around here!
‘Not so fast, ’Arriet!’ cried a voice above me.
I looked up to see the Great Maldini coming towards me, an evil sneer on his face. ‘So you zeenk you can escape, no? I ’ave news for you – no one escapes ze Great Maldini!’
Except me, of course. As his hands reached out to grab me, I set off along the ground at top speed. I’d been right when I’d guessed he hadn’t taken me far. In fact, he’d hidden my basket under the make-up lady’s table. With a howl, Maldini lunged after me, his hands grabbing and missing as I zig-zagged across the floor. In the background, I could hear Doodle’s warbling yowls, which meant it was almost time for my act. I had to hurry if I wanted to save the show.
The Great Maldini was puffing and panting as he chased me. I stopped zig-zagging from side to side and began circling around him. His fingers snatched at my fur as he spun, missing me by inches each time. He turned round faster and faster and let out a dizzy-sounding groan. Then he lurched off to one side, clutching his head.
‘I spin like ze fairground tea-cups,’ he moaned. ‘Make eet stop!’
I didn’t have time feel sorry for him – the applause for Doodle’s performance was fading and a hush had settled over the crowd. I needed to get to the stage before the lookalike rabbit ruined my reputation forever.
With a giant leap, I cleared the steps to the stage and bounded into the bright lights, where everyone was staring at the pretend me cowering on one of trampolines.
‘Go on, Harriet,’ Susie whispered uncertainly, from the side of the stage. ‘People are waiting. Do a backflip or something.’
You could have heard a pin drop in the silence. The other rabbit gazed back at Susie with big eyes, her ears twitching nervously. Slowly, I hopped into the centre of the stage. The audience gasped when they saw me and Susie’s mouth dropped open in shock. ‘Harriet?’
On the other side of the stage, I noticed Miranda go a peculiar colour. She began to tug Doodle backwards.
Gloria pushed to the front of the stage. ‘Surely the rabbit on the trampoline is the real Harriet?’ she said, glancing between the lookalike bunny and me in confusion.
Suddenly, everyone was talking at once and the crowd was joining in too.
‘I suppose there’s only one way to be sure,’ Susie said, lifting me on to a trampoline. ‘Go on, Harriet.’ She looked at the other rabbit. ‘Or . .. erm . .. Harriet.’ The lookalike squeaked and leaped sideways, but I didn’t need to be told twice. Pushing off against the trampoline, I was soon soaring high above the stage. Cheers broke out around the stadium as I spun through the hoops and bouncing between the trampolines. The crowd went wild when I finally pulled off a perfect triple flip and landed beside Susie.
Gloria lifted the microphone to her mouth and smiled. ‘I don’t think there’s any doubt about who the real Harriet Houdini is, do you?’ she said over the cheers. ‘There’s only one Stunt Bunny!’
By the time the audience had finished applauding and we got off the stage, there was no sign of Maldini, apart from his baseball cap and wig.
‘Didn’t these belong to that roadie?’ EE said, picking them up from the floor and frowning at them. ‘You know, I wouldn’t be surprised if he had something to do with all this.’
Gloria looked confused. ‘But we don’t have a roadie with red hair.’
Everyone stared at the wig in EE’s hands.
‘Is that the time?’ Miranda burst out in a bright voice. ‘Gosh, we really must be going. Come along, Doodle!’
And tugging on the poodle’s lead, the two of them disappeared out of the door before anyone could stop them. I decided it was best to let them go. Miranda had failed in her attempt to get me thrown off
and there was no way I could prove she’d even tried.
‘There’s something very strange about those two,’ EE said, staring after them.
At that moment the door flew open again and Mrs Wilson and Lily burst through. Mrs Wilson gave Susie a big hug and Lily gave me a sticky hug.
‘What on earth was all that about?’ she asked curiously. ‘Where did that other rabbit come from?’
‘No idea,’ EE said. ‘But it definitely isn’t ours.’
That raised another question. What was going to happen to the lookalike rabbit now that The Great Maldini had fled?
‘You can be my bunny,’ Lily said, putting me down to pick up the grey rabbit and rubbing her face against its soft fur. ‘I will call you Flopsy.’
‘No!’ chorused Susie, EE and Mrs Wilson all at the same time.
‘That’s what we called Harriet when we first got her,’ EE went on with a shudder. ‘And we can’t keep this rabbit, Lily. One bunny is quite enough.’
‘I’ve always wanted a pet of my own,’ Gloria said thoughtfully, reaching across to lift the rabbit out of Lily’s arms. ‘Maybe I can give Flopsy a home.’ She stroked Flopsy under her chin and the bunny closed her eyes happily. She didn’t even seem to mind her new name. What can I say? It takes all sorts.
‘G-g-great idea,’ EE stuttered, looking a bit like he wanted Gloria to tickle him under the chin.
Mrs Wilson threw him a frosty look. ‘I see you’re still ga-ga.’ EE went red. ‘I don’t know what you mean.’
‘Hmmmmm,’ Mrs Wilson said, raising an eyebrow. ‘Susie and I need to have a long chat about exactly what’s been going on.’
Susie dropped me a great big wink. ‘Oh, you know what they say, Mum. What happens on tour, stays on tour!’
She wouldn’t get any arguments from me. The sooner I forgot about The Great Maldini again, the better. EE seemed to agree too.