Bill slowly crawled out to give yet another year’s worth of prophesy, noting his ascent felt stiffer…tougher than it had been in years past. He glanced around in great dismay at the meager gathering. The crowd, as usual, greeted him with their backs, more intent to listen in giddiness to what his twin brother, the false prophet from Punxsutawney, had to say. Hadn’t it dawned on them that a true prophet wouldn’t be carried out in such pomp and circumstance? Had Elijah resided in the palace of King Ahab? Heavens, no! Wasn’t it rumored that the Christ-child, himself, had been born in a stable? From where else but the ground, then, would a groundhog come to deliver a life-altering prophesy?
That was the problem, though. These mortals weren’t even believers of the prophesy. They no longer possessed an understanding of what it even meant. Most of them no longer toiled the earth to bring in their harvest; so why would they know to trust one who traveled beneath its surface? One who could bring them news of expectation for sowing from above? They treated the groundhog, instead, as a 6-week weather boy. And they didn’t even interpret that news correctly! Had they not enough sense to recognize if he were to see his shadow, that meant sunshine – which translated to good weather and warm soil? Apparently not. And those beloved, authentic interpreters of the prophesy had long disappeared – or tried to profit for themselves with something they called a Farmer’s Almanac.
Bill was tired and discouraged, yet that couldn’t prevent him from delivering this year’s devastating news. The tunnels had been crawling with it for months, as more and more groundhogs disappeared into the depths of despair, ne’er to be heard from again. The rumblings had become more prominent this morning, the day after Bill had found the old carving in the gnarled roots of the ancient tree of wisdom. There, he had read the interpretation. This would be the year – the year of the great catastrophe. His fur ruffled under his slumped shoulders as he grimaced with the thought of telling the people that the Day of Reckoning had fallen upon them. But he didn’t feel altogether guilty. They’d brought it on themselves – with years of pesticides and other wastes they’d tried to hide inside the earth’s bowels.
He’d caught glimpses of the results, avoided the forms that slithered and weaved through the lower tunnels. But those lower passages were now overcrowded. Those foul creatures had nowhere else to go but up, up, onto the upper-side of the ground’s surface. Bill knew it was his duty to warn the light-dwellers who in carefree, numbing fashion were apparently deafened by that great fireball in the sky.
As he stepped from his hole, his squinted molar eyes rolled with the laughter of the people. He heard them jovially declare that Phil (the false prophet) had not seen his shadow – there would be 6 more weeks of good weather!
“You fools!” he chattered in words they refused to hear. “Your time is up! They are coming at any moment to swarm you!”
At his proclamation, the earth began to rumble underfoot.
“Earthquake!” someone in the crowd screamed, as the people began to scramble, rushing and collapsing over one another. (Fortunately, they were too sparse in number to cause any damage too great.)
“No! No!” Bill threw up his small front paws to attract their attention. “You must listen! This is much, much worse than that!”
He ran up to the dignified elders who had paraded out the false prophet; but even they were inching back in fear, confused by Bill’s desperate actions. “Phil’s loose! He’s acting rabid!” They ran from the scene, as Bill worked furiously to chew the false prophet from his box and get him to safety.
“Dude…” grinned his twin in gratitude, obviously academically dumbed down from all the imprisoned years of human contact.
“We must hurry, Phil! Come with me!” chattered Bill.
“Nah, dude. There’s a hole over there with my name on it.” And off scampered the false prophet, left to his own demise.
“Where do you want to go?” came a small, whispery voice from behind Bill. He turned in great surprise, afraid this young girl wanted to capture him and take him home as her pet.
“You must go,” he snarled, hoping to cause her to back away and run off in fear.
“You said a minute ago that I should listen – to you,” she narrowed her eyes in suspicion.
“You can understand me?” Bill looked back, shocked.
“Why, of course I can understand you, silly,” she rolled her eyes impatiently. “Why else would I be talking to you if I didn’t understand you?”
The earth rumbled again and began to crack open.
“We must go…now!” yelled Bill, allowing the little girl to scoop him up and run, taking him to her car where her parents were frantically yelling her name.
“Where should we go?” the girl inquired, climbing into the car as her mother squealed for her to let the groundhog go.
“West. The East coast has already been taken,” Bill grimaced, wondering how he could’ve relayed the news any earlier. News that…
The zombie groundhog apocalypse had begun.