Black Petals Issue #81, Autumn, 2017

Big Bear
Home
Mars-Chris Friend
Big Bear-Fiction by Paul Strickland
Drogol's Institution-Fiction by Mike Mulvihill
Haunting of Hell House-Fiction by M. L. Fortier
Killing Time-Fiction by Mike Mulvihill
Nowhere Man in a Nowhere Land-Fiction by Roy Dorman
Surviving Montezuma-Chapters 11 & 12-Fiction by Kenneth James Crist
The Box with Pearl Inlay-Fiction by Roy Dorman
What was Lacking?-Fiction by A. M. Stickel, Editor
The Statue-Poem by Janet C. Ro

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Big Bear

 

By Paul Strickland

 

A fateful walk in the woods

 

 

It was late summer, and the mosquitos had died down in Canada’s forests. DEET spoiled the whole idea of going out into Nature for fresh air, so Joe tried to avoid using it. After all, he and Sarah wanted to enjoy each other in a natural way…

Soon they paused along the path and lost themselves in such a passionate kiss that passersby stared, and one even muttered, “My word!”

This is the high point of my summer, thought Joe, even better than that wedding reception a few weeks ago.

A sonic boom shattered the mood. A chill like late October followed, and a few crystals floated down. The day had turned grey and austere, the air thin and nasty.

Sarah gasped and pointed a shaking finger. A growling grey bear was slowly shambling their way!

Joe grabbed Sarah’s hand and walked them both backwards, thinking crazily of who might at any moment unleash the Russian Bear upon hikers in all the world’s forests.

Even as the great beast paused and stood on its hind legs to sniff the air, Joe’s mind skidded past Bear Markets, crashes, and the affordable housing bust. Her family and mine consider me a failure because I never cashed in on the housing boom. How could I when that new general manager came in and threatened to lay off everyone?

Joe was relieved to reach the car before the bear, which had, luckily, lost interest. So had Sarah, who said quietly, “Please take me home now.”

To forestall any uncomfortable exchanges, Joe turned on the radio. Instead of news, only crackling static came through. He tried other stations. Nothing. They approached a cluster of RCMP vehicles pulled over at the side of the road. Their doors were open, and one had an engine running and lights flashing.

“I hope some criminal hasn’t escaped.” Sarah’s worry broke their silent truce. “Don’t stop! Don’t get out!”

Joe pulled over, got out, and tried the radio in the patrol car with its engine running—no luck. He sat in the vehicle and leaned against the dashboard, head in hands, wondering what to do next.

The sound of a door slamming and an engine revving startled Joe. He watched Sarah tear off down the road. She was a terrible driver, and he feared just as much for his junker car as for her.

Joe closed the door to the RCMP vehicle, and, with lights still flashing, followed Sarah, but at a safer speed. Before long, he came across a scene that caused him to slam on his brakes. Ringed by fallen trees, what had once been the outskirts of Prince George ended at the edge of a blackened gorge; whatever had caused the crater had sucked out all the oxygen because nothing had burned. The choice to dump Joe like all the others had was out of Sarah’s hands. Reconsidering the bear, Joe turned the vehicle around, and went to meet his destiny in his own way.

 

The End

 

 

Paul Strickland, pauldstrickland@gmail.com, of Prince George, BC, Canada, wrote BP #81’s “Big Bear” (+ BP #80’s “Excision”; BP #78’s “Clown Attack”; BP #77’s “Spider Line”; BP #73’s “Cold Surprise”; BP #71’s “Lust” and “Washed Away”; BP #70’s “Stuck in the Past”; BP #69’s “Ghostly Good-Bye”; BP #68’s “Rocking-Chair Ride”; BP #65’s “The Latter-Day Knight”; and was featured in BP #56 with “Boxes” and the reprint of “No Free Lunch”). He is a 60ish freelance writer in Prince George, BC, who was a newspaper reporter for 32 years, 28 of them for Canadian dailies. Born in Los Angeles, Strickland lived in Reno, Nevada for 20 years before moving permanently to Canada in 1981 in connection with his journalistic career. He turned to freelance writing and creative work in the spring of ‘09, and has since published chapbooks of poetry, essays, stories, and columns.

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