* a work of fiction
He woke up and wiped the sleep from his eyes.
For a moment he forgot where he was. He couldn’t even remember how long he’d been sleeping.
With great resistance he got out of bed and moved around the sleeping chamber lighting lanterns as he went.
Mr. Groundhog was still in his pajamas when he noticed the calendar.
It was the very early morning on the most important day of the year.
He panicked, usually he liked to have a couple days to prepare against his old foe. But this year, he overslept.
It was all he could do to get ready.
He scampered around the burrow to find what he needed. His family had been fighting the same fight for years and not one of his predecessors fell.
It was they that guarded against the coming winter. Should he not prevail the ice would come and the cold would never end.
He donned the armor of his forefathers made to fit the small warrior rodent. The armor was old and dented but he had shined it up before lying down for his winter rest. He was happy it still fit. Sometimes he overdid it with his pre-hibernation snacks.
The groundhog went to an ancient cabinet and unlocked it with the key hanging on a leather cord around his neck revealing the old sword called Springtime.
He hefted the blade and put on his helm.
In a moment the enemy would be here. The groundhog waited in the entrance of his burrow.
His breath visible in the winter air.
Finally, his nemesis appeared.
The Shadow stepped forward. Just like every year the Shadow moved in silence.
But the groundhog knew what he wanted. The Shadow wanted the cold to come and the groundhog would stop him, just like his father did, and his grandfather before him.
The Shadow’s arms turned to wicked blades and without warning or pretense the ancient foe leaped forward.
The Groundhog met him blow for blow. All year he trained for this. He drilled silently in his burrow for this one meeting.
Steel met shadow.
The Shadow’s blades scratching his armor and at one point knocking off the rodent’s helm.
They waged war as only two old enemies could. Both of them doing their duties and neither wishing to fail.
Finally, the groundhog dealt a decisive blow.
The Shadow retreated to lick its wounds and the groundhog knelt, bloody and beaten, he smiled knowing he’d done his duty for another year.