ANIMAL HOUSE by Kara Vernor

Hard Rock Hare clamped headphones over his ears and hopped around in front of the stereo. He liked The Clash and Black Flag, but today he listened to Johnny Cash. He thought Cash was good too, if not a little somber.

Stoner Hare reclined on the couch and smoked a joint, first watching his roommate’s pogo, then becoming distracted by the involuntary twitching of his own nose. He focused on it, his eyes crossing a bit, and tried to still it with his mind.

The Tortoise barged in, as much as a tortoise can barge. He said, What’s going on in here? I can’t concentrate with all the banging.

The hares rushed him, laughing, and bounced back and forth over his shell.

Cut the crap, the Tortoise said. I was trying to meditate. Now I’m going to chomp some lettuce. Maybe you’d like some, too?

Stoner Hare would have eaten a couch leg had he been offered one. Hard Rock Hare never turned down food. He’d toured extensively in a multi-species grindcore band and learned to eat whenever the eating was good. They joined the Tortoise around the lettuce bowl until they grew sluggish and full, eventually tilting onto the floor.

Do you think there’s life on other planets? Stoner Hare said gazing at the popcorn ceiling above them, its moon-like divots and bumps.

Most definitely, said Hard Rock Hare. They’re here already, running biological experiments. How else do you explain ferrets?

(His drummer had been a ferret.)

The Tortoise thought to defend ferrets but instead said, Let’s focus on our breath.

The hares breathed themselves into a soundless slumber, the headphones bellowed I'm stuck in Folsom prison, and the Tortoise, his mind now alight with thoughts of alien life, tapped a foot to the beat

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