Marc Backhaus

Man and Bear

Man walked into the den and regretted it from the start. He knew the Bear was there, waiting to tear him apart. One step at a time he consciously moved forward, until his toe hit an unexpected stone. Bats muffled about his ears and spiders' webs messed with his face. But his fear and anxiety kept him deaf, he did not hear one thing. Even more so, he felt the cold sharp stone dig into his toe and crack his nail. A warm rush told him his nerves were still working. And then, suddenly, out of the nothingness that had filled up the den as much as everything already had, Man felt a paw tap on his shoulder. It did so a few times, and then, when it rested with weight on the shoulder, Man could hear again. He heard an earthgrounded grunt from just about everywhere, and the Bear said: "Finally, you are here."

The beating and roaring of drums filled the night. Skins of all achieved kills were beaten with hard wooden pillars and the sound of power and victory made the earth and air vibrate violently. Feasts and fires had been prepared everywhere for this great night. Man walked around the fire of his village, choosing a slow and decisive step. Children were running, screaming and playing everywhere, all around him, and he remained a composed, self-conscious walking statue. After a few corners and turns his eyes met Hunter's; they remained locked in a stare for a while that could not lie, until eventually, Man spoke.
"I have met with the Bear."
"What has he told you?"
"Something I do not understand." - which was a lie. Man had completely understood. The Bear had told him to destroy his own village in order to save the wood's future and keep the balance. He had no sense of why this should be now, but the Bear had revealed a prediction of the future which spoke of a war the village would initiate against the River, and which would make the village destroy everything which needed to be upheld. The village knew this future existed, and they knew the Bear had called for Man. If they also knew that these two elements were connected in the present was a question Man was now afraid of, and his fear drove him to find out the answer to it.
"I am sure you will one day," replied Hunter after a slight pause, bowed, and turned away to rejoin his companions at the festivities in front of his hut.

Man followed the Bear deeper into the depths of the den, until no more of the outside light reflected on the moist stone walls. "Lay down here and wait," spoke the Bear determinedly and just as determinedly strode off the scene. Man was left on a small platform of stone that resembled a bird's nest in a tree. He too lay down determinedly and relaxed, taking long, deep breaths. He knew what was coming. All regret was gone from him. For several moments the den was silent. Not the slightest sound emerged from anywhere. Then they came. There was no grand entrance or arrival with vibrating walls and floors, they were just there, as it should be. The Bear, the Tiger, the Falcon and the Dog. Each claimed a limb of Man and tore it from his body, employing all instruments they had been given to cleanly and sharply free Man of his arms and legs. They called the apes to secure his wounds and keep him alive, making sure he stopped losing blood. Only then did they pounce on the limbs and release their animalistic instincts that were boiling at the smell of the flesh and blood. "Why have you betrayed us?" they bellowed and moaned into the depths of the den. "I didn't want..." began Man and fell unconscious.

Mother always knew.

 

All rights belong to its author. It was published on e-Stories.org by demand of Marc Backhaus.
Published on e-Stories.org on 09/25/2013.

 

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