“Stop pacing, Nebraska, it’s making me crazy.” Deloris Squirrel was at the edge of the clearing where Crimson Hen had disappeared.
“It helps me think,” Nebraska Rooster said.
“Well, I straight up can’t think when you’re pacing, so knock it off,” Deloris Squirrel said angrily.
“Dearest Squirrel,” the Gray Squirrel said calmly. “Please be patient with Nebraska, he’s lost Crimson Hen, after all. If I’d lost you, I dare say I’d be doing more frantically worse things than pacing.”
“Hmm . . .” Nebraska was ignoring the squirrels for the moment. “We are in a quandary for sure. We have no way of knowing if touching any of the other floating fireworks thingies would take us to the same place Crimson Hen went to, but we have no other way to try and connect with her. We both can’t touch the other fireworks things, and can’t not touch them. It is such a quandary.”
Mr. Rabbit walked up. “I heard that Nebraska, and I must say, you’re absolutely right.” He rubbed his chin hair thoughtfully. “Or maybe you would be right, if there weren’t other options.”
“What other options?” Nebraska stopped pacing and turned to face Mr. Rabbit.
“Well,” Mr. Rabbit said thoughtfully. “We could try exploring the opening in the wall. That was the original plan, wasn’t it?”
“By jove, that’s brilliant!” Nebraska did an about face and began swiftly walking back to the camp. “Let’s get our gear and get going,” he said over his shoulder.
“Well!” Deloris Squirrel said into the now silent clearing. “That at least got him to stop pacing.”
It took several hours to gather up the gear they needed, but eventually, the four explorers were packed and standing in front of the Window. Mr. Rabbit walked up to the Window waving a small device around as he went.
“What’s that you’ve got there, Mr. Rabbit?” called Deloris Squirrel.
“This, my dear Squirrel, is a geiger counter. It will tell me if the opening, or whatever is beyond, is contaminated by radiation,” Mr. Rabbit said, happy to have the chance to explain something.
“So?” Deloris replied.
“So – it would appear that the opening is not giving off any radiation,” Mr. Rabbit said authoritatively.
“So it’s safe?” asked the Gray Squirrel.
“Well, I didn’t say that, now did I?” Mr. Rabbit gave the Gray Squirrel a knowing look, then disappeared into the opening. Nebraska Rooster followed, then Deloris Squirrel, then the Gray Squirrel.
Once inside, the little group took a moment to adjust their eyes to the dim light filtering in from the bright day outside. There were strange patternings on the walls and ceiling, but nothing that made any sense. It looked as though no one had been inside for many, many millennia. A thick dust covered every surface.
“Flashlights on, everyone,” said Mr. Rabbit as he switched his on. Their bright beams didn’t penetrate very far into the dimness. Mr. Rabbit silently took the lead, choosing a direction and heading down the corridor.
“Hey,” whispered Deloris Squirrel.
Mr. Rabbit stopped. “Yes, what is it?” He whispered back.
“Why are we going this way?” she replied.
“Why not go this way?” Mr. Rabbit said.
“Why are you whispering?” Nebraska Rooster whispered.
“Because whoever’s in here might hear us,” Mr. Rabbit replied.
“There’s no one in here but us,” the Gray Squirrel said in a normal voice, breaking the tomb-like feel of the place.
Nebraska straightened up and found his voice. “Yes, aherm, that’s right. Probably no one here but us.”
“That’s one nerve-wracking ‘probably’ you’ve got there Nebraska,” Deloris Squirrel said.
The little group walked slowly down the corridor. Each time one of them stepped on the smallest speck of grit that crunched as it was trod on, they jumped a little, so creepy was the confining space. The corridor seemed to go on for miles and miles.
“How long do we follow the corridor?” Deloris Squirrel asked.
“Until we get somewhere,” Mr. Rabbit replied, “I guess.”
“But what if we – wait!” the Gray Squirrel exclaimed. “Is that a light up ahead?”
“It sure is,” said Nebraska Rooster. They all picked up their pace, and soon the light came into closer view. Then they were upon it.
“What the actual hey-ho!” The Gray Squirrel spat.
“I. Don’t. Believe. It,” was Deloris Squirrel’s response.
“It really didn’t feel like we were going in a circle. Really it didn’t.” Mr Rabbit was perplexed.
“Well it’s obvious that we must have been.” Nebraska Rooster poked his head out into the bright sunshine of the opening that they had passed through coming in. “Well, we may as well hop out of this creepy place and go have tea. I for one am starving.”
The crew stepped out of the Window and back into the archeological dig area. They walked the short distance to where their camp was set up.
“Hey.” Nebraska looked around the clearing.
“Hey!” Deloris Squirrel said when she caught up to him.
“Hey?” Mr. Rabbit’s response was confusion.
“Hey . . .” The Gray Squirrel didn’t really know what to say.
Nebraska circled the clearing. “There’s nothing here! Where’s our camp? It . . . it was here this morning! What happened? Where’d it go?”
Mr. Rabbit looked at his friends. “It’s gone – it’s all gone,” he said. And in that moment, they all knew it was true.