Behemoths
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There are two types of rabbits born into this world: the cowards and the curious. Timothy, much to the burrow's dismay, was the latter. Even during the cold winter months he'd trek up from the warmth of the underground system that the rabbits, moles and prairie dogs had built to see what was above.

Not that there is much to talk about on the surface. The burrow was built next to a large dirt path. It was a path wider than Timothy could travel in a single hop. Timothy never saw anyone on the path, but in the early mornings and after sundown, when Mr. Whiskers demanded everyone stay inside the burrow, Timothy could hear a distinct rumbling noise come from the path. It was the sound of behemoths. Timothy surmised it must be the behemoths' path. And, as a respectful rabbit, Timothy would stay away from the path during his outings.

Despite obeying curfew and his own strict set of rules, the entire burrow would chide Timothy for his adventurous spirit. That is, except for Old Man Redtail. Old Man Redtail was a fox who came to live with the burrow after he lost his teeth in what he claimed was an accident with the behemoths. Mr. Whiskers let him stay out of guilt more than anything. He'd seen enough of his burrow be taken by foxes in the past, but Old Man Redtail was harmless. The burrow was a place for the weak to gather to be strong, and there are few things weaker than a fox missing its teeth.

Of course, being two outcasts from the burrow, Old Man Redtail and Timothy attracted each other like magnets. Whenever Timothy would return from his explorations, he'd go straight to Old Man Redtail to tell him about what he saw.

"Redtail Redtail!" Timothy shouted as he slid down into the fox's slice of the burrow, "You'll never guess what I saw today!"

Old Man Redtail blinked his eyes a few times, waking himself from his nap, "Oh?"

"A clearing! I went west for an hour and there's a place where the grass stops being tall and I could see really far!"

"That sounds interesting indeed. What did you see in the clearing?"

"I'm umm… I'm not sure."

"Did you close your eyes?"

"No! I just haven't seen these things before. I was hoping you could tell me."

Old Man Redtail laughed, "Boy, I can't tell you what you saw if you don't have the words to describe it."

"Well, it's still light out! Maybe I could bring you with me and you could see for yourself."

"I haven't left the burrow in a long time."

"Please Redtail?"

The old fox mulled it over in his head before slowly shifting his legs to stand. He let out a large yawn and stretched his neck. His joints were stiff, which was a sign he needed a good walk anyhow.

"Alright boy. Show me this clearing of yours."

Timothy could hardly contain his excitement. He hopped ahead of Old Man Redtail, darting through the burrow along a path where he was certain Mr. Whiskers wouldn't catch him. All the other animals let out exasperated sighs as Timothy passed them.

"There he goes again," Mrs. Cotton said, "hopping to his own death."

Timothy only realized he left behind Old Man Redtail after he left the burrow. Even in his fur, the winter air sent shivers down his spine. Little mounds of snow from last week's storm covered up patches of dying grass. The world was very yellow.

A few minutes later, Old Man Redtail peeped his orange and white head out of the burrow. He seemed to struggle to pull himself onto the surface, and after that it was apparent his coat wasn't nearly as thick as Timothy's.

"Where to, boy?"

"It's just right this way!"

Timothy kept close to Old Man Redtail as they ventured through the tall grass. It took longer to get to the clearing than before, but Timothy didn't mind. He wanted to know what was beyond the fields. Old Man Redtail had told him stories before of winged monsters and exotic nuts, of tremendous trees and bellowing beasts. He knew more about the surface than anyone else in the burrow, including Mr. Whiskers.

The daylight hours began to draw to a close as the two finally emerged into the clearing. The sunset gave everything in the view a new color since Timothy had seen it earlier that day.

"We're here!" Timothy proclaimed.

"I see that."

"So… what is it?"

Old Man Redtail circled a small patch of grass before settling down. He knew there was going to be a lot of explaining to do. He first explained the gargantuan mounds of dirt and rock called "mountains". He explained about how the snow remains almost year round, and how the trees only grow part way up the mountain out of respect for the snow's claim of the peaks. He then explained the foothills, how they were just child mountains waiting to grow up. They didn't have as many trees, but what trees they did have grew all over. Afterwards he explained the thousands of raindrops who huddled and moved together for safety in a formation called a "river". Timothy just listened and nodded along.

"And what about that?" Timothy finally asked, pointing at a structure directly across the field, "What's that Redtail?"

Old Man Redtail shook his head, "I was hoping you wouldn't ask about that."

"Why?"

"Because I know you. And I know your untamed mind. But I also know that you will not let me sleep until you have your answers."

Timothy smiled, content with the reputation he'd built.

"You see, boy. That is where the behemoths sleep. Well, not all behemoths. But at least one. Maybe more."

"What do the behemoths look like?"

"At the rate that it took us to get here, you may get to see some when we return to the burrow."

"We will?"

"If we're lucky that is. Night is falling soon. If we hurry we may get to watch the Parade of Lights."

Timothy's eyes widened. "Parade?"

"Yes, it's quite the spectacle. But only if we hurry."

Timothy almost sprinted back to the burrow right then and there, but remembered he had to help Old Man Redtail. Instead, the two hobbled as fast as they could. Night fell, but they didn't need the light. It was a straight shot to the burrow. Although they did receive some help. They could hear a low rumbling come from the path near their home. The same noise that kept the entire burrow holed up at night.

But there was something else inadvertently guiding Timothy home. Every so often, a bright light would filter through the tall grass. It'd pass quickly and erratically, like a strobe. When Timothy asked what the lights were, Old Man Redtail simply hushed him, and suggested they slow down.

Timothy and Old Man Redtail eventually arrived at the burrow, and just beyond it they could see the wide dirt path. The toothless fox stopped Timothy from going any further, so the two just stood there and waited in the quiet winter air. They looked toward a hill off to the north in anticipation.

"Is the parade coming?" Timothy asked.

"Any moment now," Old Man Redtail replied.

A few minutes later, the lights came. Patterns of bright white and orange and red orbs streamed over the hill. All of them carried by massive beasts. Beasts, that made a low rumbling noise. Behemoths.

They moved in a single file lines of five or seven at a time, all following the dirt path. The groups appeared irregularly, but Timothy didn't mind waiting. He just wanted to see the behemoths and their luminescence.

"Where are they going?" Timothy asked.

"Home. They're bringing back their lights from a long day's work."

"Where are they coming from?"

Old Man Redtail smiled. "Only the behemoths know that."

"Timothy!"

Old Man Redtail and Timothy looked at the source of the voice. Mr. Whiskers had popped his head up out of the burrow.

"Get back in here this instant!"

"Oh no." Timothy said under his breath. He wanted to watch the behemoths more, entranced by their strange rituals. Maybe ask them how their day went. Maybe ask if there were other things in the world worth seeing. Perhaps they could take him to the mountains. They seem big and strong. But instead he bowed his head and hopped back toward the burrow, leaving Old Man Redtail behind. Once Timothy was underground again, Mr. Whiskers pulled him by the ear deep into the burrow.

"How many times have I told you about the curfew?"

"Ow— Ow! I'm sorry!"

"It is dangerous out there. You're going to get yourself killed!"

"I didn't— ow— mean to!"

Mr. Whiskers let go of his ear once they'd arrived at an empty part of the burrow. It was far away from where Timothy normally slept, which was much closer to the surface. It was also further from Old Man Redtail's room. Mr. Whiskers continued his lecture, while blocking the only exit.

"Well you did. I obviously can't trust your sense of time anymore. You're not allowed to go to the surface for a very, very long time."

"… how long?"

"I don't know. We'll see."

"But—"

"No buts. We have rules here, and you broke them. That hurts the trust I have in you."

Timothy was sobbing now, "I didn't mean to!"

"Just to make sure that you don't try to pull something, I don't want you to come out of this room for three days. We'll bring you your food, so you have no excuse to be anywhere else."

"But dad—"

"It's Mr. Whiskers!"

"… right." Timothy sniffled, "Sorry."

"Ok. I think that's— Oh. Right. One last thing. Even after you come up from here, you're not allowed to talk to Old Man Redtail."

"What?"

"He's obviously dangerous for your development, encouraging you to go outside and stay up into the night. I don't want you anywhere near him, got it?"

Timothy felt broken inside. He didn't even have the strength to protest. He just nodded his head and wiped tears from his eyes.

"That's good. Now good night Timothy."

"Good night Mr. Whiskers."

Mr. Whiskers turned around and left Timothy to cry himself to sleep on the cold, unfamiliar dirt floor of his makeshift jail cell.


Timothy awoke to the low rumbling of the behemoths. It was faint down where Timothy had been quarantined, but it was loud enough to wake the rabbit from a sadness-induced sleep. It reminded Timothy of the Parade of Lights he saw the night before, which reminded him of the behemoths and Old Man Redtail. He was now forbidden from seeing either one again. The thought sent Timothy into another crying fit. Some of the other young rabbits had gathered outside Timothy's room to see what the fuss was about, but when they realized it was just the troublemaker getting his comeuppance, they left.

Hours into the day, Timothy felt himself grow hungry. He paced back and forth in his room to keep his mind off his stomach. Mr. Whiskers said that someone would bring him food. Maybe they were just a little late.

Just when his stomach was starting to quake for food, Old Man Redtail appeared in the entry-way to Timothy's room. He held a small bundle of grasses and cloves. They smelled vibrant and delicious.

"Is that for me?" Timothy asked weakly.

"Why of course, boy. I ate long ago," Old Man Redtail replied as he threw the food inside. Timothy pounced on top of it.

"Thank you thank you!"

"How are you holding up down here? Can't be too good. Air's awfully stale."

"I'm… doing ok."

"Well, that's good to hear."

"But I'm not allowed to talk to you. Mr. Whiskers will get mad if he sees you."

"Ah your old man gets mad about everything. He must've given you an earful last night."

"Yeah. He doesn't want me out exploring."

"Typical. Typical old rabbits. Think they're all wise because their ears have grown out," Old Man Redtail replied. He entered Timothy's room and made himself comfortable in one of the corners. He always seemed so relieved to stop putting weight on his legs, even though he couldn't have weighed very much.

"You know, boy. It's not like you're the first rabbit to want to see the world. In fact, I'm pretty sure your father used to go exploring all the time."

"What makes you say that?"

"How does he know where the good clovers grow? Or where to get the water?"

"But then… why does he want me to stay inside?"

"You ask good questions. I've seen a lot of things, but not everything," the fox replied. He shifted in his nest of dirt. He closed his eyes and began to take long, deep breaths.

"Are you planning to stay here?"

"I'm not a particularly busy fox. Why not?"

"Because I said so."

Old Man Redtail and Timothy turned to the entrance, where a shaking Mr. Whiskers stood. He'd dropped the clovers and grass that was supposed to be Timothy's lunch on the ground, and just glared at Old Man Redtail. The fox sighed, and began to stand.

"I'm leaving."

"The burrow. You're leaving the burrow. Now."

"No need to be so rash."

"No. You need to leave. We've fed you and housed you all the while you're telling my son to go exploring?"

"He's a curious young lad."

"He's a boy."

"You're acting like he wouldn't have gone out without me."

"Wolves ate his mother up there."

"Does the boy know that?"

Mr. Whiskers finally looks back to Timothy, who had pressed himself into the corner. He didn't like watching this. He didn't like adults fighting. Even with just the words it's so violent. Mr. Whiskers looked like he wanted to kill Old Man Redtail with just his eyes, and Old Man Redtail's face looked older and older by the second. Timothy just wanted to see the surface. He didn't want people fighting over it.

Mr. Whiskers turned back to the fox.

"He does now. Not that it matters to you. Now let's go. I don't want to drag a toothless fox out of my burrow, but I will."

Old Man Redtail nodded, and then gave Timothy a weak smile, "I guess this is good bye, boy. Maybe I'll see you topside one day."

Timothy swallowed. "B-bye."

And with that, Mr. Whiskers led the fox out of Timothy's room.

The room was now empty, and so was Timothy. He didn't want to stay in the burrow anymore. Mr. Whiskers scared him. The other rabbits looked at him weird. And Old Man Redtail was gone. He didn't want to be kept underground. He wanted sunlight. He wanted mountains and snow and trees. But really, he just didn't want to be here anymore.

Timothy started weakly pawing at the walls, but they were made of dirt, so slowly they caved away. After a few minutes, he'd made a small indentation in the wall. He'd never tried digging before, but maybe this was all he needed to do. The motions felt natural. And then he realized, if he could dig, he could dig his way to the surface. Mr. Whiskers couldn't stop him. No one could.

Timothy's arms and legs churned through the dirt like machines. After an hour he dug far enough up he couldn't see the room he started in. The earth got colder and colder the closer he got to the surface, but Timothy kept going. The drop in temperatures heightened his senses, made his mind sharper. He could picture it now, the path, the tall grass, the surface.

Timothy couldn't believe it when he first broke through. It was night time, but it was a bright night. The sky was filled with little light dots, and one really large light dot. They welcomed Timothy with an applause of twinkles.

After a moment of just soaking in the night-time air, Timothy began to hop around. No direction in particular, just around. He felt free, and he wanted to hop to show it. Now just to figure out what to do.

Then, again on cue, a pair of light orbs appeared over the hill. Timothy's eyes widened. A behemoth. Maybe he could join the behemoths.

"Hello? Behemoth!" Timothy yelled, "Where are you going?"

The behemoth continued down the path.

"Can you hear me? Behemoth where are you going?"

Maybe it couldn't see Timothy. He got in front of the behemoth's lights.

"Behemoth! Take me with you!"


Jessica entered the house in a fit of sniffles and stomping. She was doing everything she could to keep herself from crying. After she slipped off her shoes, she took to the couch in the living room and buried her face in one of the cushions.

Jessica's mother was surprised to see her back so soon, she'd barely had enough time to let her steam blow over. Normally, after their fights Jessica would be out for the rest of the night. They always fought about something one of the two had no control over. Tonight's subject was Jessica's boyfriend who had a tattoo of a lizard on his neck. The last time Jessica's mom trusted someone with a neck tattoo, she became a single mother. She realized she was probably just projecting.

Jessica felt the couch shift a little as her mom took a seat. Then she felt a hand slide up and down her back. It was warm, and comforting.

"I don't know what brought you back so soon, but I'm glad it did," Jessica's mom said. Jessica mumbled something in reply into the cushion, but it came out all muffled.

"What did you say?"

Jessica sat up, wiped her tearing eyes and swallowed.

"I ran over a rabbit."

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