The two children walked hand in hand, Olive looked up at Theo, “Are we gonna go see the lady on Cricket Hill?” she asked. “I…I don’t know Olive, I’ve heard people talk about her. She’s supposed to be crazy…” he replied, not sounding all too sure of himself. “Aw, c’mon Theo! I wanna learn about the lights!” Olive said rather loudly, causing the people in the area to look at her suspiciously. Theo smiled to them meekly, and then quickly pulled Olive forwards, “Alright, alright, we’ll go. Just try not to draw so much attention to us” he said through his teeth. They began their journey to Cricket Hill, it didn’t take long, and they soon arrived. Theo looked up at the small and run down house on the top of the hill, that was where Miss Maggie was supposed to live. He took a deep breath and got down onto his knees, putting his arms out behind him. “Alright Olive, get on” he said, once he felt her climb onto his back, he stood up slowly, keeping his balance, and then he began to climb the hill.
They soon reached the top of the hill, Cricket Hill wasn’t all that tall or steep, and in fact it wasn’t much of a hill, more of a rock pile. Theo got back onto his knees and let Olive climb off. He stood back up and took Olive’s hand again, walking towards the house, and knocking on the door once they reached it. The door opened slowly, and a tiny old blind woman wearing a green gingham dress stood there, “Who is it? What do you want?” she asked. “Ah, hello ma’am, my name’s Theo, and this is my sister, Olive. We were told to come to you if we wanted to know about the lights from the Out There” Theo said cautiously. Miss Maggie visibly stiffened, “Yes, come in…” she said, sound a little distant. Theo pulled Olive into the house, and then picked her up, just in case they had to make a run for it. Miss Maggie lead them to her living room, she sat down in a worn rocking chair, Theo sat on a rather uncomfortable wooden couch across from her, keeping Olive in his arms. “People call me crazy because of what I say. But even though I’ve lost my vision, I’ll never forget what I saw while in the Out There” she said. Theo’s eyes widened, “You’ve actually been to the Out There? What’s it like?” he asked. “It’s a beautiful place, the fire bugs light up the forest, but they lead you in deeper and deeper, bringing you closer to their master. The Behemoth”
“The Behemoth?” Theo asked. “Yes, the Behemoth. It’s a terrifying creature. It stands taller than any man or beast you’ll find in this land, and runs on all fours, but looks human. It has skin so dark that it could blend into a starless night sky, and it has large glowing antlers sprouting from its head. I’ve seen it up close, only one, when it was devouring an old man” she explained. She picked an old book off of the table beside her and ran her hand over the cover “When I had my sight, I read this book so many times; I’ve memorized it by now. It tells you all you need to know about the Behemoth. If you’re seeing the lights from the Out There, then that means he’s awake, and ready to eat again. It’s been fifty years since the lights last showed…you two stay away from the Out There. It’ll die if it doesn’t eat soon enough!” Miss Maggie finished with a laugh, one that made Theo uncomfortable. “Alright then, thank you very much,” Theo said, standing up cautiously, edging towards the door. “It was nice meeting you, we should get going now.” he said, quickly opening the door and leaving the house, still holding Olive in his arms, he ran down the hill, and towards the small shack they lived in.
Once inside the house, Theo placed Olive into a chair and went to the kitchen, digging through the cupboards to find something for them to eat for dinner. He pulled out a potato and a bunch of radishes, “Hey Olive, how does boiled potato and radish sound to you?” he asked. When he didn’t receive a reply, he turned and looked behind him to see that Olive was no longer in the chair he had placed her in, and that the door was opened. He saw Olive walking towards the gap in the safe wall, where a large cluster of the lights had gathered. “Olive!” he yelled, dropping the vegetables and running out of the house after her. By the time he reached where she had originally been, she was already inside the Out There, and without a second thought, Theo followed her in.
Theo ran through the Out There, searching left and right for Olive. He heard a familiar giggling to his left and took a sharp turn, almost falling over in the process. When he burst through a bush, the fire bugs that had been surrounding Olive scattered, causing her to let out a while. “Olive!” Theo exclaimed, relieved that he’d found her. He walked over to her and picked her up, “C’mon Olive. Let’s head back home…” he drifted off, looking around. He didn’t know where they were, the bush he had come through was now gone. Theo gulped heavily, “Theo, I’m sleepy” Olive said, yawning and rubbing her eyes. Theo sighed, “Go to sleep Olive. I’ll find us somewhere that we can rest” he said, and he began walking.
Theo slowly began to wake up, the night before he had found a large group of bushes for the two of them to hide under while they slept. Olive’s eyes opened, and she sat up, she had been sleeping on Theo’s stomach, and she was now sitting on him. Theo sat up, causing Olive to fall onto her back into his lap. They both laughed for a few moments before they stood up to get going. Theo carried Olive as they walked; constantly looking around to make sure they were safe. Suddenly, Theo heard the snapping of tree branches behind him, and he turned, his breath was caught in his throat at what he saw, it felt like his heart had stopped. Standing not too far away from them was the Behemoth.
Theo ran, keeping a firm grip on Olive as he did. The Behemoth was close behind them and was gaining quickly. Theo saw a large hollowed out tree, and he dove inside. The Behemoth ran right past it and off into the distance. Theo let out a breath he didn’t know he’d been holding, Olive pulled on his shirt, calling for his attention. He looked down to her “What is it Olive?” he asked, “I’m hungry Theo” she said quietly, her stomach rumbling, as if to prove her point. Theo smiled a small smile and placed her down on the ground of the tree, and began to climb out. He placed a kiss on her forehead, “You stay here, and I’ll find us something to eat” he said and walked off.
Theo managed to find a bush of berries and collected as many as he could fit into his cap before heading back to the tree. Once he got back to the tree, he put his hat on the forest floor and pulled Olive out, lifting her from underneath her chubby little arms. The two of them sat down, and began to eat the berries; they tasted something like a cross between a raspberry and a cherry, and looked like small blue strawberries. Theo brought his third handful up to his mouth, ready to pour when he froze, the berries falling from his hand. The Behemoth was there, not even twenty feet away from them, and it began to charge. Theo picked up Olive and threw her into the tree, as he began to climb in he was torn away from it. “Theo!” Olive shrieked and cried out for him, but her cries were drowned out with Theo’s own screams of terror.
After a while, the screaming died down, and the Behemoth had left, going back to its cave to sleep off the fourteen years of life energy it had just devoured. Olive slowly and shakily pulled herself out of the tree, and looked around for Theo. Unfortunately, the only thing she could find was his hat, still filled with berries, and his ring.