April 21, 2011

Male Mole

Cobb tunneled through the damp earth. His large digging claws tore easily through the clay and bits of rock. He stopped for a moment to adjust his goggles on top of his head and to get his bearings. Above him, he could feel the soil packed hard from foundations of the great walls that surrounded the abbey.

Hurr burr, they not be too far ahead naow.

The mole shifted his claws back into the earth and continued on his way. He stopped now and again to feel the tiny currents from the world above moving through the soil and to smell out his path. Soon, he was burrowing through the roots of the orchard. Cobb made sure to go around each root, leaving it soil and space to continue to grow.

After the orchard, there was a space with no roots. The digging here went faster than earlier. Cobb could feel the dibbuns running and playing above him.

At last, Cobb reached his destination — the garden. Little by little, he had been hollowing out a cavern below the abbey garden. Now, it extended under the whole of it. Cobb opened the sack he had brought along.

Let’s see naow… Parsnips, cucumbers, burdock, beets, taters, an’ spinach.

He set about filling his bag. Soon, it was bulging and Cobb could barely drag it behind him.

“This here’ll last Oi a gurt whoile!

The mole turned to begin his journey home. He stopped short; a new movement, sharp and close, was moving through the earth right toward him.

A set of claws broke through the soil into Cobb’s cavern, bringing a bright ray of sunlight with them.  He began to run.

“Stop roight naow, Cobb,” Formole commanded.

Cobb turned to face his captor, still inching toward his tunnel to the outside.

“So, you be the thief. Oi shoulda known it.” Formole advanced towards the other mole, holding manacles more menacing than the claw that held them.

“Formole, Oi’m only a thief cuz moi garden woan’t grow. Oi needs to eat.”

“You doan’t need to be thiefen from Zurr Abbot. Oi need to take you’m to see th’ Skipper naow.”

Formole walked forward and put the manacles on Cobb’s wrists. He prodded the guilty mole out into the sunlight and dragged the bag of vegetables up after them. The welcoming damp of the cavern called to Cobb.

Formole tossed the stolen produce toward a lounging group of otters — blurs in the harsh afternoon sun. “Oxbow, you take this here bag to the froier. He’ll want it roight away.”

The young otter nodded and left with the bag. Two of the others took hold of Cobb.

“Wait,” Cobb cried. “Oi needs moi goggles on! The sun hurts moi eyes.”

The otters turned to look at Formole. He nodded. They let go of Cobb. The mole arranged his goggles over his eyes, blinked a few times, and looked around; he had never been above the ground inside the abbey walls. The main building loomed over him, the spires seeming to touch the blue sky, everything washed in tea-leaf sepia.

The otters snatched Cobb’s claws and escorted him inside, through a door, and down a flight of granite stairs. At the bottom, four cells had been roughly hewn from the same rock. Cobb was thrown into one, the manacles still binding his wrists.

“Ye’ll ‘ave to wait ‘ere for Skipper to decide what to do with ye.”

Cobb sank down in one corner and shoved his goggles up his forehead.

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