Young prince Tammuz, dreamed of being a great hunter like King Nimrod his father some day. One day he was out in the woods when he saw a rabbit, so he started pursuing it. Tammuz saw the bunny rabbit disappear down in a hole, so he lunged his spear into the hole to try and stab the defenseless creature. The ground suddenly collapsed around the hole and Tammuz fell all the way to the bottom, where he ended up in a very dark place. Tammuz was disoriented, but he was not hurt, so he got back up on his feet and eventually he was able to adjust his eyes so he could focus on these new surroundings. Tammuz saw the rabbit again, so he picked up his spear and chased after it.
Tammuz chased the rabbit round and round, until he finally cornered the bunny, it raised up its tail and pushed back its ears and then it growled. The rabbit said, ‘If you go chasing rabbits, you know you’re going to fall and if you stab me with your spear, then you will never get out of here. Time passes slowly down here and weeks can turn into years, as your dreams of getting out of here will turn into dust.’ Tammuz said, ‘I must get back home, it is way too dark down here and there is not enough air for me to breathe.’ The rabbit said, ‘You are acting like a little baby, instead of the mighty hunter that you pretend to be, maybe you need to go home to your mommy, so she can change your poopy pants. In time you will get used to the darkness and there is plenty of air down here, so stop acting so scared and man up. It is a long way back up to the surface and we will have to go through many tunnels. If I get you out of here, then you must promise not to kill me’.
Tammuz said, ‘Since I need you to get out of here, I will give you my word as a Babylonian that I will not kill you.’ The rabbit said, ‘That seems fair to me, as I would hate to die. I am called Fluffy, what is your name?’ Tammuz told Fluffy his name and then he lowered his spear. Fluffy said, ‘There is a way out of here, but you must stick close to me. Other rabbits may see us together and they will think that I am a fool being with you, but you showed me mercy and now we are in this together. The other rabbits eat my carrots and they dig my earth, none of them down here know what my freedom is worth. They hop around all the time thinking that life is just a dream, all of them go on their own way, they never work together as a team’.
Tammuz said, ‘No man is alone, we are all part of a group. We must work together, so we can know for who the funeral bell tolls, because I want to be back outside before it tolls for me. I am sure that my mom has many people out looking for me, but they will not look under the ground. I don’t want to be stuck inside these tunnels, stuck in here forever, never having any fun. Never seeing no one anymore, and now I can hear the bells that are ringing in the village square for the rabbits on the run. The world is a fine place and it is worth fighting for, down here all we have is each other and time won’t wait for us, so if we don’t start moving soon, then I am going to be late for my own funeral.’ Fluffy said, ‘We have to go this way’ and Tammuz followed the rabbit.
Fluffy said, ‘I don’t usually go this way, but it is a shortcut and I realize that you want to get out of here as soon as possible. I am not sure what kind of creatures will be lurking in our path, but knowing that you have that spear makes me feel much safer.’ As they went through a narrow passage in the tunnel, Tammuz felt a cobweb hit him in his face. Tammuz screamed, ‘Yuck, I just walked into a spider web, I hate those creepy things. Why didn’t you warn me, we are supposed to be a team? Fluffy said, ‘Sorry, I must have gone under the web, but now that you mention it, I am feeling itchy. Tammuz flailed his arms and hands all around and he said, ‘I can still feel it all over my face. This is the worst shortcut that I have ever taken.’ Fluffy said, ‘Running into spider webs is much better than running into spiders’.
Fluffy said, ‘The last tunnel is just up ahead, so we should be out of here real soon.’ Tammuz said, ‘The sooner, the better!’ As they entered the last tunnel, Tammuz noticed something moving on the ground, so he asked Fluffy, ‘What is that?’ Just then a very large snake jumped up and grabbed Fluffy and wrapped itself around his body. It coiled itself around Fluffy’s body so tightly that Tammuz could no longer see his rabbit friend. Fluffy cried out in a weak voice, ‘Help me before I get swallowed.’ Tammuz lunged his spear at the snake and stabbed it, which made the snake loosen its grip on Fluffy. The wounded snake hissed and charged at Tammuz, but Tammuz was waiting for that and he shoved his spear right down the throat of the snake. Fluffy said, ‘You killed it, you saved me! That damn snake squeezed me so tight that I lost my vision and I almost became unconscious. You were just complaining about a few spider webs on your face, how would you like to be covered in snake saliva?’ Tammuz said, ‘Yea, that must be much worse, how much further is it?’ Fluffy said, ‘We each helped each other, you saved me from the snake and I helped you get out of here, this should make us lifelong friends. We will be getting out of here real soon, as I can already see the light at the end of the tunnel.’ They walked to the end and climbed out and they both said that it was good to be above ground again.
Fluffy said, ‘Remember you promised not to kill me.’ Tammuz said, ‘I intend to keep my word and I wish you would become my pet. I will build you a great garden filled with carrots and lettuce if you come back with me. Fluffy said, ‘That sounds like a deal.’ As they walked back to the palace, Tammuz brushed his hand through his hair and he said, ‘I can still feel the remnants of that spider web clinging to me!’ Fluffy said, ‘I am still all sticky with snake saliva, but this has been a hell of an adventure and I made a good friend.’ Tammuz cared for Fluffy for a long time after that, till one day when another snake got into Fluffy’s garden and cut short his life.
Written for Stream of Consciousness Saturday where the prompt is to use the word shortcut or cut short.