“Dude, you’ve never heard of Bunnyman Bridge?”
I had been living in Virginia for less than six months when my buddy Scott asked me this question. I was a recent transplant from New Jersey and had no idea what he was talking about. We were sitting on the lawn outside of the house we rented together, tossing back beers in the brisk evening air.
“No,” I said, “what’s that?”
“Well, back in the ‘70s, some kids were out by this bridge in Clifton, right? They parked near this bridge, uh, underpass thing, lookin’ to bang I guess. Guy and a girl. Anyway, they park, and before they can even turn off the car-” Scott’s left fist smacked into his right palm. “BAM! Window shatters. Crazy dude, dressed like a bunny – full bunny suit, ears and all – standing there, hatchet in hand. He had smashed out their window. Warns them to leave and never come back. They haul ass out of there, right? Tell the cops. The psycho threw the hatchet at them or something, cause they had it with ’em. Cops never found anything. They’d find corpses out there like every year after that.”
“That’s crazy,” I said. It sounded tame compared to the stories we told and retold growing up. New Jersey is a messed up place.
“That was Halloween night. If you go out there on Halloween, the Bunnyman comes out and tries to chop you up.”
“No, Scott.” I finished my beer and put the empty can down on the dewy grass. “We’re not going out there.”
“We’re going out there,” he said, completely ignoring me. “We gotta. It’s awesome.”
I sighed. You can’t talk Scott out of doing stupid things… ask any of the emergency room doctors that had stitched his ass back together over the years. “Fine. We’ll go.”
Scott was like a kid on Christmas Eve. It was two weeks before Halloween, and I figured he’d get drunk and forget all about it.
I was wrong.
Halloween crept up on me and that entire day Scott wouldn’t stop going on and on about our trip to Bunnyman Bridge. He filled the gas tank in his Jeep, bought snacks, even paid for some decent weed to smoke on the way out there. At this point I’d be a dick to say no, so off we went.
The drive from Norfolk to Clifton took a little over three and a half hours. We were going way out there – it’s a tiny place, lots of historical significance. Not even 300 people living there full time. The bridge was outside of town, on a back road near some old homes.
I didn’t believe for a minute that a crazy killer in a bunny costume would be wandering around at midnight. It had been almost 45 years since the story first popped up. But I do believe in being prepared. I’d been in the habit of carrying a small pistol with me everywhere I went since moving to the state. I wasn’t stupid enough to leave it home. We weren’t trespassing, so I wasn’t afraid of getting in trouble. I have my concealed carry permit.
Better safe than sorry, right?
We rolled through the old town before midnight and made our way to the outskirts. During the day, I’m sure it would be a beautiful place to visit. Old churches, a steam locomotive parked on the tracks… a true throwback to the idyllic Americana of sixty years ago. At night, the tall peaks on the buildings cast odd, angular shadows against the ground, elongated by the light of the full moon. There were no street lamps – or any kind of electric light. Most of the buildings we passed were dark.
Once we drove through town and onto the back roads, it was even worse. Dense treetops bowed out over the road, blocking the moon for the majority of the drive. The headlights fought to pierce the thick fog covering the roadway. Scott couldn’t have picked a better night to come out here.
I’m not easy to scare. But my palms were starting to sweat a little. The hair on my forearms was on end, sending tiny pinpricks of electricity up my spine every time they brushed the interior of the car. Despite the balmy weather, I felt a chill creep along my skin.
We rode in silence for the better part of the trip before Scott pulled over and parked. He turned to face me, looked me in the eye and grinned. “We’re here.”
Without breaking eye contact, he killed the headlights and turned off the engine. The world descended into darkness, an inky black nothing that swallowed us up. Without the thrum of the old Jeep’s engine, it was as quiet as a grave. The sudden silence left my ears ringing.
“So, we drove all the way out here… now what?” I looked out the window, squinting, trying to see. The scant moonlight that cut through the canopy of leaves didn’t illuminate much.
“We walk to the bridge.” Scott didn’t wait for me to respond – he got out of the car and closed his door. He began walking down the road, not looking back.
I wasn’t about to let him wander off without me. Scott is a disaster waiting to happen and I didn’t feel like spending my evening with him in the ER again. I jumped out of the Jeep and followed him.
The road meandered through the thick trees for a few hundred yards before coming to a tight curve. We walked through the still night, side by side. Rounding the bend in the road, we reached an area where the tree cover was thinner and the moonlight broke through.
The road narrowed into a concrete tube cutting through a small raised embankment. It was too dark to see the top of the elevated roadway. In the waning moonlight, the tunnel was little more than a yawning black opening, flanked in pale gray concrete.
“Bunnyman Bridge,” Scott said with a sense of triumph in his voice. He took out his phone and turned to face me. Leave it to this idiot to take a selfie at a time like this, I thought.
He made a stupid face, moved the phone around to line up the photo, and pressed the screen. As he did, I noticed movement near the tunnel. At first, I thought I was seeing things, but then I saw it again.
From the bushes on the side of the structure, a tall, white form emerged. Scott saw the look on my face and spun around, phone in hand. The flashlight on his iPhone came on and lit up the roadway.
Standing there, in front of the gaping black maw of the underpass, was a man in a bunny suit. Well over six feet tall and gangly, all limbs and no mass. There was a yellow and red fire axe gripped in his hands. The long, slender ears of the bunny suit swayed behind him as he slowly made his way toward us.
Dark patches stained the front of his suit. I didn’t need to stretch my imagination to figure out what it was – blood.
Scott stammered and backpedaled into me. Without thinking, I reached behind me and removed my compact pistol from its holster. I pointed the gun at the approaching form and leveled the Tritium sights on center mass.
“Back. The fuck. Up.” I tried to sound commanding, but even I could hear the warble in my voice. “I’ll fucking shoot you, swear to god.”
“Leave,” he said.
The Bunnyman didn’t stop. He continued moving towards us, closing the gap. The axe swayed back and forth in front of him, and as he neared I could see there was blood on the blade.
I told myself to be rational. This was obviously a guy playing a prank on Halloween. He was trying to scare some idiots who came to see the bridge.
But most people would drop that shit in a heartbeat when there was a loaded gun pointed at them. He kept coming. The movement was slow, but he kept pacing towards us. I couldn’t see his face in the deep shadows but I could tell – I knew – that he was staring me in the eye.
He pivoted and ran, full bore, toward Scott.
I didn’t hesitate.
I exhaled, relaxed my arms, and squeezed the trigger. Gently.
The recoil shook my already strained muscles. The Bunnyman staggered, slowed, and slumped down into the roadway. He had only moved a few dozen feet from the mouth of the tunnel to where he now sat. The scent of cordite tainted the cool night air.
Crimson oozed from the front of his suit and joined the darker brown patch already there. The axe slipped from his grip, making a dull clunk on the asphalt.
Scott stammered, mouth moving like a dying fish. He turned and ran back toward the Jeep.
I kept the gun trained on the man and approached with caution. The bullet had struck him in the chest, but not in the heart. Still, I was sure he wasn’t going to last long. I moved to the side, kicking the axe away from him. “Scott, call the police,” I yelled. He didn’t respond. I let go of the gun with my left hand and reached for my phone.
My right hand, still holding my pistol, betrayed my frayed nerves. It vibrated at the end of my arm.
The man coughed and sputtered, blood splattering his lips. “P-please,” he choked out. He reached for his midsection. I assumed he was going to press his hand to the wound, but it disappeared into a pouch on the front of the bunny suit. I hadn’t noticed it due to the huge, dark smear across the front. His hand came out holding a furry, black object.
A rabbit, neck broken and head hanging limply to the side. He reached his arm as far forward as he could – which wasn’t far – and tried to fling it to his side, back toward the tunnel opening. It landed two feet away with a sickening thud.
He looked me in the eye. For the first time, I really took in his features. He was young – my age, younger even. Clean cut. I don’t know what I was expecting. Crazy eyes, maybe? Homeless drifter meth mouth? I’m not sure. But it wasn’t this.
“Please,” he coughed out again, motioning towards the rabbit. He opened his mouth to speak but all that came out was a pained cry, followed by a wheezing, gurgling sound. I had hit him in the lung.
I stared at the rabbit, trying to understand the situation. I was in shock, looking back on it. You never know how you’re going to react to the fucked-up situations life throws at you until you’re there.
That was the first time I paid attention to my surroundings since I initially saw him. The moon had shifted and I could see the opening of the tunnel now. And the large, black fingers splayed on either side of the concrete.
The opening was at least 12 feet wide, and somehow these hands were grabbing both sides at once. Hands that had to be a foot long, easy.
Two tiny red orbs danced in the darkness, the light refracting and giving them an odd, pale glow.
That’s when I first heard the scratching. Slow, like the labored dragging of heavy furniture across an ancient wooden floor. Followed by a ticking, tapping sound.
The Bunnyman heard it too. His eyes grew wide, his mouth trembling. He attempted to speak again but all that came out was that wet, rattling cough. He fell over trying to reach for the rabbit.
I’m not sure why I didn’t run for the Jeep. I sincerely wish I had. Phone and gun forgotten, I grabbed the rabbit carcass. It was still warm. I threw it, with everything I had left in me, into the dark opening.
The silence grew palpable, and the tapered shadow fingers retreated into the tunnel. I heard a sickening crunch. The dragging started again, retreating into the depths of the darkness.
I looked at the Bunnyman, laying on the ground, laboring to breathe. His face relaxed and he smiled. His unfocused eyes locked on mine, and he looked relieved.
“Y-your problem,” he said, then laughed. The laugh turned into a gurgling, choking noise, and then he laid still.
I walked to Scott’s truck and found him curled up on the floor in the back seat crying. I regained my senses enough to call the police at this point. They came out, took our statements and my pistol. They held us for a while.
The “Bunnyman” was a student who had been living in the area. We didn’t find out much else. They found two more dead bunnies in the pocket of his outfit.
They determined I had fired in self-defense and I wasn’t charged with any crime. Scott never asked to go to the Bunnyman Bridge again. He moved out a few months later, and I haven’t spoken to him since.
Time went by. My therapist told me that I imagined the thing in the tunnel. That it was my way of coping with killing a man who intended to do harm to me and my friend. I began to believe it.
October came again, and Halloween passed without incident. I was curious, though, about why I never heard anyone talk about the “real Bunnyman” after what happened. You’d think that would add to the legend, but I never saw it mentioned anywhere online or in the news. I was reading a forum post about local Virginia legends when the Bunnyman Bridge came up. Most people regurgitated the same old tales about escaped convicts and supernatural rabbits. But one person posted something that chilled my blood.
“They found another corpse this year. Eaten. Hasn’t happened in five, maybe six years. The Bunnyman must be gone.”
Cold crept up my spine. “The Bunnyman must be gone.” I could hear the sickening crunch of that thing eating the rabbit.
Corpses. Eaten. “Your problem.”
It took me a while to come to terms with what happened. I’ve spent the better part of this year driving to Clifton and walking through the tunnel during the day. I want to know every inch of that road before October.
Nobody is going to die this year. I’ve already purchased a bunny suit and an axe. I’m not sure where to get rabbits from, but I have time.
It’s only August, after all.
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