This story is by E.R. Holmbeck and was part of our 2020 Summer Writing Contest. You can find all the writing contest stories here.
“Oh! What a lovely day it is!” said Tilley Beaver as the first sentence of the morning. It really was quite a beautiful day, and for that matter, Tilley was going to go on a walk with his new friend: Floyd the Frog. He met Floyd on his way to the creek that morning, and they agreed to become friends.
“So Tilley, I heard that you just moved here,” wondered Floyd.
“Yep! My old home was getting pretty small, and now that I’m older, I thought it might be a great opportunity to make new friends!”
“Oh, you’re just going to love it here, I know it.”
“I already love this village! It feels like—like home!”
Tilley Beaver was extremely excited about the move into his new dam. It was just at the edge of the creek, where the waters calmed into a trickling stream.
“Well,” said Tilley, after a while of exercising, “I should probably be getting back home. Thanks for the walk.”
Once he arrived at his house of twigs, Tilley watched the sun sink below the purple waves of the mountains. Soon, after he crossed another day off his calendar, Tilley also fell asleep to the music of the rippling stream below him.
The next morning, Tilley Beaver was just getting ready when Floyd stopped over and asked him on a walk again. This soon became their new routine.
Tilley and Floyd both enjoyed the walk very much, but deeper into the forest there was a different story.
Beyond the meadow, was a tall tower, one that held a King inside. This King went by the name “King George Rabbit.” The animals looked up to him, and had always known him to be a quite benevolent King; but really, he was very unjust.
King George held charge of giving the food to all the animals, and the animals couldn’t live without the food, so they accepted this way of life. Yet it had come to the time that King George ran out of food to give away. Not even an apple was left in storage. He couldn’t bring himself to admit this for fear of losing control of the animals; so he came up with a great, but very bad plan.
King George made a potion called, “TSP-itis,” (The Secret Plan-itis,) and spread it into the forest air. He claimed it to be as bad a rabies, but really, it was just a stunt. He did this in order to keep fear in the animals’ hearts, and make them follow his every lead.
Little did Floyd and Tilley know that all this was happening during that time.
“Thanks for the walk Tilley! See you next time!” Floyd waved goodbye.
“Bye!” replied Tilley.
Tilley enjoyed the stroll home, until he arrived at his house of twigs. On his doorstep lay an envelope writing: “From His Majesty…”
Tilley opened the letter, confused that King George Rabbit would send a letter to him; though he persisted.
Inside, the letter wrote:
King George Rabbit’s
I regret to inform you that a new virus has leaked into the forest named TSP-itis; it appears to be ten times worse than rabies.
For safety of the kingdom, all animals are ordered to immediate and indefinite self-isolation.
Tilley was very alarmed by this message, and stood there in shock. He tried to go inside, but he could not bring himself to move an inch. He couldn’t believe that this was actually real! He wouldn’t be able to go for a stroll in the mornings, or say “hello” to friends. A thought struck him, and it was the worst one of all. How was he to get food? He couldn’t go outdoors, and no one could give him food!
Tilley thought and thought, and he finally came to the conclusion that he would go to King George Rabbit’s palace, and ask him about it.
It was a hard journey but Tilley finally made it in the darkest part of the night. The trees seemed to crouch in closer into Tilley as he took every step. Tilley knocked on the door, but no answer came. Although, what could he expect; it was the middle of the night.
Tilley decided he would go inside himself. Though it was rude, he was sure that King George wouldn’t mind.
Tilley walked through the humongous hallways, until he heard a faint sound of two voices speaking. As he kept walking, the noise got louder and he realized it was coming from the room next to him. He heard two animals talking, and without thinking, Tilley listened in on their conversation.
Tilley heard the deep voice of King George Rabbit say:
“How are we going to keep up with this?”
Another animal replied in a fox—like voice: “It will be fine. All we have to do is convince them that TSP is as bad as rabies, and their hearts will be filled with fear. We will soon rule the world.”
Tilley heard them make a grumbling “Mwa—ha—ha—ha—ha.”
“Your right. It is no problem. Just don’t let them know what TSP stands for. The Secret Plan is now in session!”
After they finished talking, Tilley left right away knowing he wasn’t safe. King George wasn’t trying to protect the animals; he was trying to destroy their freedom!
The next morning was another beautiful day, and even though he was supposed to quarantine himself, Tilley went to Floyd’s home and asked to go on another walk.
Floyd jumped to another subject and said, “What are you doing! You are supposed to be self-isolating!”
Tilley blurted out the whole story of his trip to the castle.
“I—I don’t believe it! King George Rabbit would never do such a thing,” said Floyd a little hesitantly.
Tilley could sense the doubt in Floyd’s voice, so he persisted.
“Well, you know that beavers are known to never tell a lie. Though you may not like it, it’s true.”
“I don’t know Tilley; I just can’t believe that King George would lie to us.”
Floyd declined the invitation of going for a walk, for he didn’t want to risk getting TSP-itis. Tilley then set out to find another friend of the name Cindy Cardinal.
“Sorry, but I cain’t risk it. I got three mou’s to feed and I don’t want no trouble,” said Cindy.
“Well Cindy, King George is out of food. How will you feed those mouths?” Tilley told the whole story, and although told thoroughly, Cindy hadn’t believed.
Cindy’s daily song of cheer was surely to be missed by the forest, for she brought a rare light to the woods.
Tilley then went to another house, which inside lived Patty Squirrel.
“Oh, I wish I could; but I heard that squirrels are more prone to the disease.”
Patty offered Tilley an acorn she had left in her storage, and then said she couldn’t talk any longer.
Without any luck, Tilley went home with his proud chin hanging down.
Suddenly, a bird by the name Rachel Robin, a very reasonable bird, swooped down below and said “hello” to Tilley. Tilley was beaming with excitedness of the incident, and pleasantly said “hi” back.
“Sorry, I know we are ordered to be in isolation, but isn’t it nice just to greet somebody once in a while?” said Rachel.
“It is. Everything feels so out of sorts now that TSP-itis happened.”
“I don’t believe it. It’s too suspicious.”
“Neither do I! I have been looking for someone to go on a walk with all day, but no one would join me.”
“I have lots of friends that think the same way as you Tilley! Come, I’ll show you!”
Rachel brought Tilley to so many animals that he couldn’t count the number.
“We know this is all a lie. TSP-itis is only made to control the forest, and to be used as a cover-up for the failure of the King’s rule over the food supply. We will no longer depend on the control of that ridiculous King Georgie; we will run away to a free land!” said Rachel.
“Could I possibly join you?” asked Tilley.
“Oh, of course! The more the merrier!”
Tilley and his new friends ran away from the land of the slaves, and went to a new land; one that hadn’t been claimed, where the air held liberty with every breath. In a sense, they were leaving their homes, and everything they had known; but they knew their true home was freedom.
“Welcome freedom loving friends, to a place we will now call ‘The Land of the Free.’ We have reached our destination where we will no longer be tracked by chains of unhappiness, or be touched by unjust refuge,” declared Rachel Robin.
“We are to enjoy the fruit of our own labor. Nothing can hold us back. We are free!” shouted Tilley.