A long time ago there were two goats named Billy and Bobby. They were born on the same day, so naturally they were best friends. Together they lived in a large goat community where they spent most days contemplating ways of escape. The pen they lived in was boring, and they wanted to be free-roaming goats. Then one day, Billy's older brother Spot gave them an idea for just how they might finally be free.
Spot was a year older than Billy and Bobby, but he acted like he was much much older. He was named after the white spot around his right eye, which the other kids continually teased him for. Spot never seemed to mind the teasing, but he remained somewhat of an outcast among the kids with Billy and Bobby being the only goats he ever talked to. Billy was friends with him only out of obligation, but truthfully he thought Spot was annoying. One day, when Billy and Bobby were trying to see if there was a way they could fit between the panels of the pen, they were interrupted by Spot.
"Are you two ready for The Day?" Spot asked.
"What are you talking about?" Billy responded without turning around. He had found a loose board on the fence and was trying to knock it free with his hoof.
"The Day is tomorrow, and I thought you would both be pretty nervous."
"Why would we be nervous?" asked Bobby. He had given up on loosening his part of the fence and Spot had his undivided attention.
"Two goats are going to be chosen for The Day, and you two are among the possible choices."
"Spot, what are you talking about?" Billy said. He was frustrated that he couldn't loosen the board, and he didn't like the way Spot always talked down to him. "Bobby and I are a full year old now," he thought to himself, "we don't need to be treated like kids."
"Don't you goats know about The Day?" Spot asked.
Billy rolled his eyes and looked over at Bobby. "No Spot, we don't know about The Day. Please share your wisdom with us O Great One."
Bobby held in a laugh, but Spot pretended not to notice.
"Every year, the human comes and picks two goats who are a year old and takes them away, never to be seen again."
"What does he do with them?" asked Billy. Spot had peaked his interest.
"All I know is that he takes them into his special tent, but no one knows what happens in there," suddenly Spot lowered his voice to a whisper, "I've heard some of the older goats say that he sacrifices them."
"What is sacrifice?" Billy asked. He knew Spot was probably exaggerating, as he usually did.
"I don't know," Spot answered, "but I know it's bad."
"How do you know it's bad?" asked Bobby.
"It just is," said Spot, looking annoyed for being asked to explain something so obvious.
"It sounds great to me!" shouted Billy. "You're saying he comes and takes us out of the pen? What more could we want?!"
"No, you don't want to be the ones chosen for The Day. Trust me. It's bad."
"I bet you're just mad you didn't get chosen when it was your turn," said Billy.
"I would never want to be chosen," Spot said.
"Well I do!" said Billy.
"Yeah! Me too!" Bobby chimed in. "How does he pick which goats to take to the tent?"
"I'm not telling you. Getting chosen is a bad thing. You'll never see this pen or these other goats ever again."
"Perfect!" exclaimed Billy. "Tell us what you did to not get chosen, and we'll do the opposite."
"No," responded Spot, looking down at the ground.
"It was because of your eye, wasn't it?"
"Yes," Spot said, keeping his head down. "They don't pick goats with blemishes."
"What's a blemish?" asked Bobby.
"It's anything on a goat that makes him not perfect...like a spot."
"Oh," said Billy, "I'm sorry." Even though he didn't particularly like Spot, he felt bad for him because of all the other teasing he received.
"Well I'm not sorry!" shouted Spot. "My eye kept me from getting picked and I'm happy for it. If you two were smart, you'd find a way to give yourselves a blemish too." And with that, he stormed off.
"I think Spot is right," said Bobby.
"Spot is never right," Billy replied.
"I don't know...what do you think happens in the tent?"
"Who cares? We'd get to be free goats!" The possibility of freedom was giving Billy a whole new energy.
"I guess that's true..."
"If we get chosen, we can finally get out of here like we always wanted. Come on. I have an idea."
Billy led Bobby over to the small trough of water at the other end of the pen, and there the two goats worked together to make sure they were perfectly clean for The Day. Neither of them had any natural blemishes like Spot, so they both felt good about their chances. Still, they washed away any dirt and mud they could find to ensure their selection.
The Day came quickly and Billy and Bobby inspected each other one last time before the human was supposed to arrive.
"Alright, I think we're ready," said Billy.
"Don't worry. We've got this."
Billy turned out to be right. Compared to the other goats in the pen, the two of them looked spotless, and the human picked them up almost immediately. It also helped that Billy and Bobby practically jumped into his arms.
"We're free!" shouted Billy, as they were lifted out of the pen and carried towards the tent.
"This is awesome!" exclaimed Bobby. "I've never felt so alive!"
Ten minutes later, Bobby was dead.
"Oh no no no no no no no. Spot was right. Sacrifice is BaAaAaAaD!!" As Billy's thoughts began to run wild, he began to bleat loudly and uncontrollably. "Maybe if I make enough noise, the man will let me go, and I won't end up like Bobby. Oh poor poor Bobby. I'm so sorry! This is all my fault."
He continued to bleat and cry and shout, and he even tried to free himself from where he was tied up next to Bobby's body. Finally, after screaming and screaming, the man untied Billy and picked him up.
"Oh no no no. Now it's my turn. Oh I don't want to be sacrificed. This is not what I wanted. Please let me go!"
As he kicked and strained with all his might to get free, he realized that instead of being taken to the table where Bobby had been sacrificed, the man was carrying him outside of the tent.
"What is happening?" thought Billy, his mind racing frantically. "Where is he taking me?"
The man carried Billy back out of the tent and away from the pen. Billy could see Spot still in the pen with the other goats, and he tried to shout and get their attention, but they didn't hear him.
"I'm sorry Spot! I should've listened to you. Sacrifice is terrible! You were right."
Billy eventually gave up shouting and began to cry in the man's arms. He knew he was about to end up like Bobby, and there was nothing he could do about it. He just wanted it to be over quickly.
"Maybe if I close my eyes, I won't feel a thing," he thought...
After what felt to Billy like a very long time, he opened his eyes. He was surprised to find himself in a field all alone. He looked around, but there was nothing familiar in sight.
"Am I free?" he thought. "Oh joy, I'm finally free! But I don't want to be free alone. I want to be free with Bobby..."
"Where am I?" Billy said aloud.
"You're in paradise," said a voice behind him.
Billy nearly jumped out of his skin, and as he turned around he realized he had good reason to be scared. Standing no more than a few steps from him was a massive Lion. It stood on all fours and looked to Billy to be ten feet tall with huge muscular legs, and a body that could crush a goat without even breaking a sweat.
Billy wanted to run, but his legs were frozen with fear.
"Who...are...you?" he finally stammered.
"I'm Azazel," the Lion said.
"That's a strange name," Billy said, realizing a moment too late that it was a bad idea to insult a Lion. However, the Lion made a noise that sounded like a laugh, and Billy breathed a sigh of relief.
"I suppose it is," said Azazel. "Follow me."
Billy felt himself regaining control of his legs, and he began to walk alongside the Lion.
"Where are you taking me?" Billy eventually asked.
"To see Bobby," said Azazel.
A look of excitement flashed across Billy's face, but it disappeared almost immediately. "I'm afraid Bobby has been sacrificed," he said, "and it's all my fault."
"How so?" asked Azazel, still walking.
"I convinced him that being chosen for The Day would be our way of being free, but I didn't know what sacrifice meant, and now Bobby has been sacrificed and I'm the only one that's free, but being free doesn't matter anymore because Bobby isn't here, and I don't want to be free alone because the whole point was for me and Bobby to be free together and I don't see the point of freedom if you have no one to share it with." Billy rushed through his story in one breath, but he felt relieved to have gotten everything off his chest. Then, Azazel stopped walking.
"If you could go back, would you take his place?" Azazel asked, looking Billy straight in the eyes.
"What do you mean?" Billy responded, averting his gaze.
"If you could switch places with Bobby, so that you were sacrificed and he was free, would you?"
Billy thought for a moment and then responded, "Yes. Yes I would."
Azazel smiled and started walking again. "We need more goats like you Billy."
"I'm not sure I understand," Billy replied, trying to keep up with Azazel.
"Wanting to be sacrificed is one thing, but knowing what sacrifice means is another."
"I'm afraid I still don't know what sacrifice means..."
"You know more than you think," said Azazel. "It's good you are willing to sacrifice yourself for another's freedom, but some day there will have to be a sacrifice for everyone's freedom."
"That's going to take a lot of goats," said Billy.
"No," Azazel laughed, "it won't take any goats at all. This sacrifice will free all the goats like you, the Billy goats, from ever having to be sacrificed again, and it will free all the humans as well."
Just as Billy was about to ask Azazel what he meant, he spotted something in the distance walking towards them. Immediately, Billy recognized Bobby and began running towards him and shouting.
"Bobby! It's me! It's me! I'm so sorry. I should have..."
"Billy! It's alright, look where we are! We're free!" They both laughed and look at their surroundings. Everything was green and fresh in all directions. No fences anywhere in sight.
"How'd you get here?" asked Bobby.
"Azazel brought me."
"Who is Azazel?"
"This is..." but as Billy turned around there was no Lion behind him.
"Where is he?" asked Bobby.
"I'm not sure," said Billy, "but I think we'll get to see him again one day."