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Posted: 7/31/2020 3:27:10 PM EDT
[Last Edit: gearsmithy]
Edit: Full disclosure, I'm no bear expert so you'll have to forgive any inaccuracies here.


My Bear
by Troy Frost

"This is it," I notify myself, pressing the wadded remnants of my thermal layer into my lacerated abdomen as the bite of March Appalachian air stings my lungs.

I hear the wind slip through the coniferous canopy that denies me the sun, and slide down the trees over viscous half-congealed blood. It hurts to think and I'm far beyond the reach of anything resembling help.  Hypothermia will soon numb my pain and what's left of my abilities.

"This was supposed to be a fun hiking trip," I scold myself.

My time here will be cut short, the company of mother nature provides little solace.

In the distance I can hear the rustling of critters going about their lives blissfully unaware of my presence. The only creatures of concern now are the black bears that will surely feast on my corpse.

"Well," I think to myself, "at least I don't have to worry about him." I got that bastard good before he could finish me off. I suspect his barely self-aware brain is thinking something alike. I hope he spends his final moments alone, and confused, and suffering.

I'm reminded of fate’s cruel plan. I came here to escape the gentle mundane beatings of modern life only to receive the fiercest beating of my life.  All I wanted was to attempt to live deliberately and without cause or purpose or fear.  Fear of slipping away into the world, unnoticed, unappreciated, unloved. It seems that in my retreat I've found the very thing I'm running from.

My skull is a pressure vessel containing barely suppressed rage. I can still feel the adrenaline racing through my arteries. I suspect that's the only reason I'm still breathing now.

I can't let this world take me this way, I decline fate entirely. I need to move, NOW.

Feeling my survival instinct override my judgement, I stumble to my feet but the shock of a fractured femur discards me to the forest floor. No sense in trying that again, as I drag my body to what's left of my pack.

Man-made debris litters the grove reminding me of what little supplies I have left.  I see bits of my first aid kit strewn about. Surely there must be something useful.

Then I see it.  My knife, still bloodied from battle and cursed with the stink of that foul creature.

I use it to strip the shredded nylon from my pack's frame discovering a box of matches and a Mylar blanket in the sole unmolested pocket. The only utility that remains.

I disassemble the load bearing armature fastening it to my thigh with a length of fabric from my mangled jacket, and fashion a makeshift pressure bandage out of the remaining scraps of cloth and cordage.
"Let's try that again," my broken body protests as I hoist my torso upright by the outstretched branches of a recently felled pitch pine.  My anesthetized hands struggle to help, trembling from exposure.

I mount the tree, placing gentle pressure on my leg.  I can hear my own heartbeat as I transfer ever increasing weight to my splinted limb. The pain is harsh and unforgiving but no longer crippling.

"This is doable," I encourage myself.

I tear the survival blanket from its package, pierce its center, and don a makeshift poncho. The faint burbling of a spring fed brook arrests my attention and fills me with focus. Survival is now possible.

My ears guide me to a nearby slope and I shamble forward from tree to tree, buttressing myself against any available surface. My organs groan at thought of fresh water, the overwhelming thirst robs me of any self-regard. I charge on, upping my pace beyond my pain tolerance but am jolted back at the sound of a twig snapping nearby.

I force caution before approaching the brook, processing every available sense and faculty. Each step I take is more careful and deliberate then the last. As I approach the brook I collapse to one knee, then to my belly, and rest my chin in the freezing cold liquid. The water burns my throat as I gorge myself, only raising my face for air and awareness. My now full stomach aches violently, a tolerable and necessary discomfort.

I pull my head from the brook and rest it upon a moss-covered rock. Sleep is a luxury I cannot afford but the gnawing gusts of wind against my exposed skin rob me of precious body heat casting me off into a temporary slumber.

I awake sometime later to the sensation of warm liquid and scalding grunts against the back of my neck. I reflexively roll my head only to meet his face with mine. The beast towered over me huffing at the air around my body. I see the fruit of my desperate struggle, his face awash with oozing blood and ocular fluid. A large slash through his left eye and a distinct puncture wound to his right. His breath was labored and sporadic as he swings his head from side to side billowing the malnourished skin that hung from knobby bones and poured over gaunt muscle and tendon.

I recall the battle, I could feel the full weight of this creature mash my leg and his claws tear flesh from my belly. I remember feeling resistance from the beast's ocular cavity as my blade pierced his right eye, and the almost human wail as he disappeared into the thicket.

His sorrowful and confused whimper displaced my anger with pity and remorse. His condition was a death sentence, but he now had me dead to rights. For a moment I thought that if I lay motionless he'd wander off until I felt the unnatural clamp of fang and claw against my spine followed by the warm bath of my own blood.

I placed my hand to the back of his head.

"I'm sorry," I murmur as the familiar caress of fatal cold washes over me and I close my eyes for the last time.
Link Posted: 7/31/2020 4:07:54 PM EDT
[#1]
Change it from a black bear to a starving mountain lion. Or change the location to the Rocky Mountains and make it a grizz. Also change the ending to one where you survive.



I came here from the thread in GD. Seriously hope things get better for you. Not bad writing overall.
Link Posted: 7/31/2020 4:17:55 PM EDT
[#2]
Discussion ForumsJump to Quoted PostQuote History
Originally Posted By JA_Magnum:
Change it from a black bear to a starving mountain lion. Or change the location to the Rocky Mountains and make it a grizz. Also change the ending to one where you survive.



I came here from the thread in GD. Seriously hope things get better for you. Not bad writing overall.
View Quote

Thanks man. I'm glad you like it. I don't know much about animals but I've heard black bears aren't aggressive unless they're hungry and even then it's a very rare for them attack like this. I thought the idea of a man killing an animal before it kills him would be interesting.  I think, in a way this does have a happy ending. The hiker started off hating the bear but he really didn't have any good reason to because the bear was just trying to survive, like he is now, and then in the end he feels bad for what he did to the bear because he knows they're both suffering together.  I dunno, I just banged it out in a couple hours, felt like a good place to park it here.
Link Posted: 7/31/2020 5:45:12 PM EDT
[#3]
Yeah. The overall concept is cool. I was just giving you shit about the end since it's pretty obvious that it's a main point of the story.

A black bear would probably attack a grown man under the right circumstances, but I don't know that it would come back and finish the job, like some other animals might.
Link Posted: 7/31/2020 11:26:04 PM EDT
[#4]
Discussion ForumsJump to Quoted PostQuote History
Originally Posted By JA_Magnum:
Yeah. The overall concept is cool. I was just giving you shit about the end since it's pretty obvious that it's a main point of the story.

A black bear would probably attack a grown man under the right circumstances, but I don't know that it would come back and finish the job, like some other animals might.
View Quote

IRL no way a black bear would come back like that especially after taking that amount of damage.  The story is somewhat allegorical, the hiker is in the woods to escape what he perceives is the indifferent evil of the world only to be confronted with the beast within himself. The bear represents the monster present in us all, and even though the hiker thinks he's bested that monster, it ultimately consumes him anyway. Initially the hiker hates the bear, he perceives it as evil but comes to pity it when he realizes that it was just trying to survive, just like him. The bear was starved because the hiker never 'fed' it, until it fed on him.
Link Posted: 8/2/2020 8:20:54 PM EDT
[Last Edit: gearsmithy] [#5]
On the surface it's a wilderness survival tale but the allegorical story at play here is of a man struggling with alcohol addiction. The title is a clue "My Bear".  The starving bear represents the monster within the hiker, his addiction and the attack is his self destructive behavior. His pack are the people in his life that he has cast aside as a result and the two remaining items (matches and the survival blanket) are his parents. They were contained in the 'sole unmolested pocket' because no matter how bad he gets, he cannot destroy their love. His knife represents his will, it is his instrument of change and the only thing he has that can conquer his curse. The steps he takes to survive are his attempts to piece his life back together only to fall off the wagon and ultimately succumb to his beast. Notice how his "organs groaned" at the prospect of 'fresh water' - that wasn't water he was gorging himself on. The bear is gaunt because he never properly 'fed'/treated it.  He thought he had bested the beast by blinding it but it ultimately killed him anyway. He started the story hating the bear but in the end he realized that it was just trying to survive, like he was. It was a part of himself and his last words "I'm sorry" were to himself. I know it's a little artsy fartsy but I just sort of came out.
Link Posted: 8/4/2020 9:48:27 PM EDT
[#6]
Interesting story.

Even more interesting since you explained the metaphor.

If you're struggling, good luck. Alcoholism can certainly be a bear.
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