THE REDHOUSE EFFECT
(MR SACKEY sighs heavily, turns and walks up to his chainsaw machine, and picks it up. He snatches a meaningful look at ABI who is sitting on a large tree root directly in front of the shea butter tree. He grimaces thoughtfully and then turns to go with his friends. ABI sniffles and wipes a tear from her eye)
(to MR SACKEY)
Why, what’s wrong?
Oh nothing. Nothing I can’t handle.
Hope we will get some juice boxes today. I get incredibly thirsty nowadays.
Like me. God, the heat these days! Can you believe I drank twenty-six bottles of chilled mineral water just yesterday? Try not to call me a horse!
(the two friends burst into a peal of hearty laughter as they board the pick-up truck waiting just outside the compound. MR SACKEY forces a smile as the driver ignites the engine and the truck speeds up. He takes a final look at ABI, who is still watching him teary-eyed)
My father had vowed never to pick up his rifle again, right after my mom’s death. He has long since joined a small lumbering firm and they spend all their time plundering trees and vegetations and starting forest fires for lumbering purposes and to prepare lands for large-scale farming. Sadly, ‘afforestation’ is a term they do not understand. So I keep asking myself: how is Earth going to survive these terrible ordeals? And how is this going to end? And when?
(A rustling in the bush adjacent to ABI. A small white furry mammal springs out of the thicket to ABI’s feet as the latter jerks back startled. She finally relaxes as she gazes at the rabbit)
What is it, Springs? It’s not lunch time yet.
(the rabbit sits on its haunches with its ears erect, nose up and eyes wide open)
You’re supposed to be in your burrow. What are you doing, stalking me again?
(the rabbit, who is still looking at ABI expectantly, gives a great sigh)
Fine! I will get you some bread. Wait for me here. (She kisses the mammal on the face and hurries to the cabin)
Springs is probably the world’s most intelligent rabbit. I saved his life a couple of years ago when my father was still engaged in his hunting adventures. Springs’s entire family had been eliminated by my father’s rifle; I had found him almost beyond help and, after reviving him with water, food and warmth, I had kept him safe. He has been my loyal pet since then. He is my only source of entertainment.
EXT. OPPOSITE THE CABIN
(ABI has finished feeding the rabbit who is lying contently on its tummy, limbs wide outstretched and ears and chin at rest. There are crumbs of bread littered on the ground. ABI gently strokes the bunny’s ear absentmindedly as it purrs softly. The sound of the chainsaws in the distance echoes around the jungle. A soft breeze blows through the jungle ruffling through the leaves and calming ABI, who closes her eyes in merriment. Birds tweet and chitter as they hop from one tree to the other. Deep in the forest, opposite MR SACKEY’s work site, comes the sounds of jackal howling and hyenas cackling. Flashbacks to when ABI was still a little girl. Her mom is seated with her beside a fire, laughing happily and telling her stories. She utters two words to ABI: “Don’t burn!”. Scene cuts to ABI smiling reminiscingly. Then the smile slowly fades as she opens her eyes. The rabbit has suddenly got up and is sitting on its haunches looking around warily, ears erect.)
Springs? Are you alright? What’s the problem?
(the rabbit turns to face her, rubbing its paws against ABI’s toes in warning)
What? Do you see any predator?
(the rabbit increases the rubbing while jerking its head urgently to the direction of MR SACKEY’s work site. ABI stands up to face the place, while the rabbit sits beneath her feet. She can see that the horizon is lit red.)
Maybe the sun is setting. It is nothing…
(she suddenly frowns as if she is aware of something bad. She glances at her little wristwatch: it is 11:18 in the morning! Still frowning, she looks down at the rabbit, who is hopping around in dismay. It is now that she finally takes a look at the horizon again and see it is not sunset. ABI finally realizes something is wrong. And that is before she hears the village warning alarm – a persistent whining sound!)