A rabbit was standing over me, its eyes red like marbles, teeth long and sharp, bear-like paws pressing on my chest. To its left there was the dark figure of a crow, one with the shadows. To its right, a ball of needles and thorns, like a nest of wasps–a garden hedgehog.
The uneven ring of a glade opened itself before my still dizzy eyes, beneath the moon, under the dark canopy, around the three totemic creatures gathered around me. I could feel the presence of others close by, in the dark, the presence of other, unrevealed creatures. No, I definitely wasn’t in my bed.
“How do you plead?” a rasping voice came from behind the rabbit’s sharp teeth.
I blinked several times in confusion. I tried to get up, but there was no movement in my body. I was helplessly bound to the ground. For a moment I saw the rabbit raising to its full height and stomping me like a bug with its huge foot, bigger than the glade and bigger than the moon. And I couldn’t even raise my arms in defence. But none of that happened. It was just the fear, juggling like a deranged clown with the broken pieces of my perception. And just like that I was violently shoved into remembering what the rabbit was asking about.
“It was an accident,” I managed to whine, my voice more inconsequential than a mayfly.
“How do you plead?” the rabbit repeated.
“They should put a road sign, or you know, there should be designated crossings…” With each word, the eyes of the frightful three pierced deeper and deeper into the depths of my being, my soul, the shallow, hopeless soul of a toad murderer. There were no ears in this audience to hear my explanations.
“Guilty,” I finally said, and a certain peace enveloped me. The truth was out in the open. Come what may.
“Your punishment shall be according to your crime,” the Crow spoke.
“You shall pay for your crime with what you hold most dearly and, as for all humans, is most rare to you,” the Hedgehog spoke. “The reason you look forward all day to a few minutes of peace, the small things that keep you going: your pleasurable pastimes and hobbies.”
A soft rumbling came from all around. The hidden creatures were undoubtedly getting excited as the trial swiftly advanced, like a high-speed train carrying a bulldozer, and I was laying helplessly on the tracks.
“If you want your crime forgiven, you will have to roll a million dice,” the Rabbit said. “Until then, any shoelace you tie will untie when you need it most tied.”
“If you want your crime forgiven, you will have to shuffle a million decks of cards,” the Crow continued. “Until then, any pizza you eat will fall from your hand unless you use a spoon.”
I winced at these words. The punishment was getting more and more severe.
“If you want your crime forgiven, you will have to plant a forest,” the Hedgehog said. “Until then, each time you thank or say a polite word to someone, you will wink your left eye.”
“The judgement is now concluded,” the rabbit said, putting an abrupt stop to the relentless stream of fuzzy images rushing through my head, a simmering stew of confused and indeterminate scenarios of how my life will be from now on. It wasn’t necessarily the words themselves, as much as pronouncing them, instead of using a gavel, he stomped his heavy paw on my chest, drawing all the air out.
“If you want your crime forgiven, you will have to roll a million dice,” the Rabbit said. "...you will have to shuffle a million decks of cards,” the Crow continued. "...you will have to plant a forest,” the Hedgehog said.
"Until then, any shoelace you tie will untie when you need it most tied," the Rabbit said. “...until then, any pizza you eat will fall from your hand unless you use a spoon," the Crow continued. "...until then, each time you thank or say a polite word to someone, you will wink your left eye,” the Hedgehog said.
I gasped and I choked, and when I regained my breath, I was in my bedroom: my real, genuine, actual bedroom, with no moon on its walls, and no furs and rabbits and crows and hedgehogs, condemning and convicting. Despite that, I took a deep breath and waited a bit longer, just to make sure.