A small wooden door, dark with old blood stains, opened into a little cubby containing a Tibetan pika. The pika was perfectly round and fuzzy. It peered through the half-open door, located partway up the storage room wall, and trembled slightly as it sniffed the air for predators.

A loud clanging sounded from the kitchen and soon an assortment of rusty buckets forming a somewhat humanoid shape banged through the doorway. The rusty metal figure stomped around the storage room, knocking over bags of grain. Farm tools clattered to the ground. The pika cowered in the corner of the cubby.

A girl wrapped in bandages like a mummy entered the storage room. She pulled the cloth back from her face revealing eyes of two different colors. “Did you find it?” she asked the bucket man. The bucket man shrugged and clattered around some more. “I saw it come back here,” she went on. The two of them searched around the storage area, knocking paint cans of the shelving and moving heavy tables. The bucket man could apparently see through triangular holes cut in his rusty can-head.

“God, I’m hot,” the girl said, completely unraveling the dirty cloth ribbons from her head and neck. She shook her blonde hair out. Then she went on opening drawers and pulling open stained cardboard boxes, creating clouds of dust.

When she got close to the small wooden door in the wall the bucket man banged his arms together. “What?” she said, turning. Just then the pika leapt out of the cubby onto the back of her neck and clung there, biting her until she bled. She screamed and tried to pull it off but it held fast, biting away like a furry piranha. The girl flailed around and the bucket man came over. He swung one of his bucket arms and knocked the pika off onto the floor, the girl’s blood spraying from her neck wound. Then the girl collapsed, holding her neck, and the bucket man chased the small furry creature in circles. It darted around the storage room, tracking blood.

After a cacophony of banging metal, the bucket man finally scooped up the pika in one of his bucket “hands” and trapped it. The pika’s muffled, high pitched whistle could be heard from inside the can. The bucket man tromped over to where the girl lay. “Oh, good. You got it,” the girl said, weakly. “Although it doesn’t much matter now, does it?” And she closed her eyes, her life draining from her until she lay cold and motionless.

The bucket man stood quietly staring at her with his hole-eyes. The pika squeaked quietly and rustled around in the bucket. Then he tromped back up the two steps into the kitchen, carrying the pika all the way through the house and out the front door. He knelt down and set the animal free. It ran out across the plain, disappearing into the grasses.

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