Melvin turned the AC in his van up another notch to stave off the desert heat. He couldn't see how the residents of this valley could stand it, living here with no AC, giant worms, and those other odd creatures that seemed to pop up out of nowhere.
'Course if he could just get rid of that damn worm he could turn the barren place into a desert paradise. Not that that would happen anytime soon. Burt and the rest of those crazy idiots that lived there protected the graboid with their lives. There was no way he could-
"WHOA!" Melvin suddenly slammed on the brakes and yanked the wheel, swerving to avoid the little rabbit that had hopped into his path out of nowhere. Not that he was one of those who absolutely adored animals-he wasn't-but in the split second he saw it he noticed it wasn't quite...right.
Stopping just off the side of the road Melvin climbed out and stared at the animal. The baby rabbit just sat there and stared back at him. For the most part it looked like any other young bunny. Except it was well over a foot tall, much taller than even a full grown rabbit, and had the tail of a Mohave Rattlesnake, with contrasting narrow black and broad white stripes.
Melvin circled it carefully. Growing up in a small town he had learned early how to identify a Mohave Rattlesnake. They were common in Perfection Valley and incredibly venomous to both people and pets. He wasn't sure about the rabbit though. It had both the coloring and tail of the Mohave but otherwise was just a rabbit. How the hell could a rabbit and rattlesnake combine? That was impossible.
'Well, this is Perfection Valley,' Melvin reminded himself. The residents were always battling something new and unnatural it seemed.
The snake/rabbit hopped closer to Melvin and he started. There was no telling if that thing was just as venomous as the snake, if it bit him-
Melvin stopped as a sudden thought hit him. This thing was apparently native to the valley. And if it was poisonous and something ate it...that thing would die. So if El Blanco ate it he could die and the residents wouldn't be able to do anything about it. Or better yet, pin it on him. And then he could finally take over the valley and build Melville.
Grinning happily at his new brilliant plan Melvin took off his jacket and scooped up the strange rabbit. It struggled briefly but then settled down again. He stuck it in a box in the back of the van. Pestering the residents could wait another day. Right now, he had a creature to examine.
Burt entered Changs' Market early in the morning. He had been up late the previous night so he was running on little sleep, but he wasn't one to sleep in. He needed coffee. Thankfully, that's exactly what Larry was doing when the survivalist walked in. Making coffee, strong and black just the way he liked it.
"Morning Burt!" Larry said a bit too enthusiastically. "Wow, you look tired. How late did you and Tyler stay up last night?"
"Past three," the survival grumbled. "Took forever to round up all those rabbits." He took the coffee from Larry as soon as he finished, drinking it gratefully.
"Yeah, Jodi mentioned you guys found another rabbit den with those things. What was it? Cottontail and Mohave?"
"Yeah, and we didn't want another Snat Dog incident on our hands," Burt said. "And I doubt that guy you found would have taken another load of venomous creatures."
"So how poisonous were they exactly?" Larry asked. "Casey seemed real worried about them."
"She said it was highly concentrated, meaning one bite was equivalent to more like five rattlesnake bites," Burt explained.
"That's nasty," they turned to see Jodi walking out from the back of the store, her eyes betraying the fact she hadn't been up very long.
"Morning Jodi," Larry said, handing her a cup of coffee.
"Morning," she greeted the both of them, taking her coffee and getting a tired wave from Burt in return.
"What really worried Casey was that their venom could be deadly to El Blanco if swallowed," Burt added. "And they would be plenty big enough for him to eat when they were full grown."
"Wow. Good thing you guys got all of 'em then," Larry commented as he was shooed out from behind the counter.
"Took forever," he grumbled. "At least they didn't seem too interested in biting us."
"And we are very thankful," Jodi smiled, sipping her coffee. Larry nodded in agreement.
A few minutes passed in relative silence. All of a sudden, the doors to the store burst open and in rushed Twitchell, looking ticked off. "Gummer! I've got some bad news," he growled.
"What is it, Twitchell? Another assignment?" Burt asked, rolling his eyes.
"No. There's a reporter coming to town," he said angrily.
Jodi let out an over-dramatic groan. "Oh, no! A reporter! Our lives are ruined!" she mocked.
Twitch gave her an angry glare. "He's coming to investigate the strange goings on."
"What strange goings on?" Larry asked. "Our strange goings on have gotten out? I thought they were contained?"
"Well, when two construction workers are eaten to the bone, speculations are bound to be made," Burt mumbled.
"Exactly," the DOI agent said. "And it's up to you all to keep anything from leaking."
Burt gave Twitchell an annoyed look. "I thought that was your job."
"A government agent hanging around wouldn't exactly keep up appearances, now would it?"
"What do you call your biweekly checkups then?" Jodi asked dryly.
Larry snickered. "Don't worry Twitch, nothing's gonna slip out. Besides, we just had our newest mixmaster creation breakout. There's usually a week or so before anything new comes along."
"I'm sorry, Twitch, you'll just have to trust us this time," Burt smirked, getting a look from him.
"If you screw up, you'll be packing up faster than you can say, 'Sorry'," he grumbled, grabbing a couple twizzlers from a jar.
Jodi glared at him. "I don't recall saying, 'Help yourself to my candy'!"
Larry backed her up, holding his hand out pointedly in the thief's direction. Twitchell rolled his eyes, putting the candy in the sci-fi fan's hand. He mumbled something about getting out of town before the reporter showed up and left.
Nancy walked in just as he left, giving him a hello and quick goodbye as he stalked out the door. She turned to the others. "What's he so grumpy about this morning?"
Jodi gave her an already-prepared cup of coffee. "Some reporter is coming to town and we have to keep everything quiet. So, no dragons and no Mixmaster. And as few whitecoats as possible."
"Well, the dragons and whitecoats should be relatively easy," Nancy mused. "But as for Mixmaster, the valley usually has rather intervening plans."
"We'll just have to keep our mouths shut," Burt said, "And keep them away from any possible creatures that may pop up."
"Keep who away?" Tyler's tired voice barely reached their ears as the sleepy tour guide slugged his way into the store.
"Some reporter that's coming to do a story behind all our strange creatures," Nancy replied.
"Oh," Tyler took the offered cup of coffee, drank it, and then turned around to leave.
"That tired?" Larry joked.
The sound of tires on the sandy ground pulled the others from their seats and after Tyler. A brand new blue Nissan stopped in front of the store as the residents filed out onto the porch.
"Think it's the reporter?" Larry asked.
"Probably," Jodi said. "No Survival School today and no tour till after noon."
"Just what this town needs," Burt grumbled, "More media."
They watched as the driver got out of the car, revealing a young woman with shoulder length dark brown hair, about 5' 8", and looked oddly familiar to them as well. She turned to look at them and almost immediately her entire face lit up as she raced up onto the porch.
There was hardly enough time for the man to utter a startled "How?" before Tyler was tackled into the wall of the store. The woman hugged him hard.
"Oh my gosh! Ty, I can't believe it's you!" She squealed happily and kissed him on the cheek as the residents simply stood there and stared in shock.