Thursday, October 28, 2010

Bear, by David.

Long before the dawn of mankind, the world was inhabited by a vast array of creatures. Some were colourful with brilliant feathers, others were as fast as the wind and some were towering beasts. Back then, animals were able to talk and reason just like humans can now. All of nature lived harmoniously. No one ate anybody; all was well. Most animals lived off plants: fruits, vegetables, nuts, roots, seeds and all. The only meat that was eaten was fish. Now let's go to lush tree-covered valley. This valley had a bountiful abundance of food and water. Rivers cut through the packed masses of trees, harbouring rich amounts of aquatic wildlife. The forest floor was home to a great deal of organisms, each of them being uniquely different from one another. A trees shooting up to the sky provided homes for many birds and insects. Overall the valley was calm and serene.
The place was home to a sizeable community of brown bears. Each family of bears had its own den where they would slumber during the night. During day the bears would forage and hunt for food, wander around, take a dip in the water and mingle amongst themselves. The bears all lived carefree existences, with nothing to worry about.
Winter was approaching and soon the first snowflakes would fall to the earth. In a few weeks the valley would be brilliantly white, covered in a layer of snow.. Despite the beauty of winter, the regular snowstorms were brutal and frigid. This forced the bears and many other creatures into hibernation. All winter the bears would rest in their dens until the arrival of spring which would bring warmth and new life. This cycle repeated itself every single year.
Before the arrival of winter the bears would gather for food to store in their store holes and dens. One bear though, was unique. He was a slacker who had put off food gathering for ages. Whatever food he found, he'd shove it all in his gigantic mouth and swallow it down. He was pretty naive and uncaring of important matters. As the days passed he frolicked about having fun in the sun, ignoring the need to keep food for the long harsh winter which was to come. When time ran out he suddenly realised the predicament he had trapped himself in. He became desperate, anxious. If he didn't gather enough food he wouldn't have enough to eat later on and he would be given a hiding by the elder bears who kept a guiding hand to watch everyone in the forest. Now it was early morning, he was hungry and he needed to gather food. He was hard pressed to find enough food, having arrived days late. The other bears had gathered most of the food there was to find. Nevertheless he searched with diligence, resisting the urge to immediately chomp down on the little food he found.
A few hours of gathering later and he had criss-crossed the entire valley. He had a sizeable haul of food in his basket but he needed more. It occurred to him that he should make his way down to the river to catch fish. According to an ancient rule fish were to be the only animals bears would dare eat, the only. He made his way to the banks of the river. The stream was rather large with a riverbed of gravel. He spent a few minutes trying to catch salmon in futility. His bloated figure slowed him down. After fruitlessly tries he finally managed to seize a salmon. He grasped the fish with his paws, a smile of fulfilment showing on his furry face. The fish screamed at him, begging to not be eaten. The little water dwelling creature knew that this bear loved to eat plenty of food and that the bear was in a rush to find enough food for winter. The salmon slyly suggested that the bear go and eat some other animals, say a rabbit. The bear was taken aback at such a suggestion and replied that it was against the rules. Yet the salmon was cunning indeed. With a great deal of effort he persuaded, convinced and coaxed the bear into letting him go. The salmon convinced him that his family would be heartbroken, that no one would find out that he had broken the rules and that rabbit tasted better. In fact, the salmon was a liar; he had no family to speak of.
The bear quietly tiptoed through the forest. His fear of being embarrassed because he slacked off and his immense hunger convinced him that hunting a rabbit would do well. He spotted an innocent looking bunny whose back was towards him. A perfect opportunity. Silently he stalked his prey, fighting back the anxiety he was suffering. In one rapid motion he swept his arms and grabbed the rabbit with his claws. The rabbit thought he was playing a game so it laughed... until he let open his jaw and sunk his impressive and scary set of razor sharp teeth into the rabbit. It died a quick death. The bear feasted on a flavour of meat he had never ever discovered. He was positively delighted... After he finished off the rabbit and stored the rest of the meat in his basket, he was tempted to hunt some more animals. He merely brushed it off and returned to the river to catch the rest of the salmon. He had a quota of fish to catch.
Returning to the river he went on a fish hunting spree. No fish stood a chance against his swift and efficient claws. He eventually found the same salmon who told him to hunt for rabbit. The salmon decided that the bear would have to go away. He decided to keep the bear in the forest hunting other animals. Thus, he told the bear to hunt the deer, squirrels and birds. As the hours passed by the bear grew more and more daring. He would hunt larger and larger prey, moving onto goats, sheep, elk, moose, caribou and bison. By sunset he had gathered baskets upon baskets of food. He returned to the river one last time to hunt for more fish. The first fish he found was that lying salmon he met earlier. Unfortunately for the fish, the bear immediately killed him and gobbled him down without realizing who he ate. The bear was satisfied with the food he had gathered. He had killed dozens of animals, his desperation and hunger motivating him to push forward. He returned to his nice little den and set aside his food. That night he rested well, with a full belly.
The next morning he eagerly arose from his sleep. He prepared himself a bit and turned up for inspection. The elders would make sure that everyone had enough food stored for the winter. The bear who stored the most would get a reward: a few bucket loads of salmon and a trophy of a kind. The bear was eager that he would win.. The thought of salmon made him drool. As the inspectors passed they made careful observations of the food the bears gathered. Most bears had gathered fruit, fish, vegetables, seeds, roots, honey, leaves, shoots, etc. After what felt like eternity, the elder bears made their way towards the bear. They didn't expect much from him: he had always been the slacker. They were surprised at the amount of food he had gathered.. He had twenty-five baskets of plant foods and fish. Everything was cruising along in the bear's favour, and the excitement was intense..
Intense, until it all broke down. The elders found the bloodied meat and bones he had harvested. Some of it was cooked, some raw. They were aghast. The bear suddenly realised what wrong he had done, but he didn't realise the magnitude of his actions. The other bears had puzzled faces about them.. The bear was nervous. Deciding that it was the best thing to do, the elders hastily awarded the prize to another bear and sent cut short the inspection. The twelve aged elder bears escorted to the edge of the valley. He became frightened all of a sudden; the edge of the valley was a dangerous place.
The elders let him sit down on a rock as they quietly deliberated amongst themselves. A few seconds later, they gathered in front of him in a line. The elders' faces all became sullen and sad. The atmosphere was serious and gloomy. The bear had broken down into despair, regretting his actions. The elders said it slowly but the message was clear: You cannot live here anymore. The bear had caused too much damage. It was hard for the elders to expel a young bear but he had caused too much damage. They knew that his carelessness and gluttony would cause much heartache. The magical peacefulness of the valley was in danger of being shattered. The elder bears decided that it was appropriate to mark him for what he had done, so all would know how dangerous he was. In a flash of light his fur turned white. His scruffy brown coat was now as white as snow. Now the reminders of his killings would tarnish his coat and make it a deep crimson red. Ashamed, the bear left the valley never to return.
The bear would travel on for a long long time. All the creatures that saw him were frightened because of his foreign appearance. He was stigmatised by all whom he met. He was lonely and miserable. Eventually however, he found his home faraway in the frozen wastelands of the north. Here it was ice cold all year around. He enjoyed it though, as all the meat he could eat was up here. Thus, the bear who once lived in a lush and bountiful valley now hunted seals in a cold unforgiving landscape.. Although animals are no longer able to talk and all now kill each other for food, to this day white bears are banished to live in the frozen north. Perhaps until they ultimately die out at the hands of humanity.

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