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A Junkyard Dog General, Story Five: The Bear

Mike is a long-time supporter of procrastination and enjoys doing as often as he can.

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The Bear

The bear sniffed the air looking to the west. He had just killed and ate a dog he found in the woods near human habitation. Like many other animals, the bear heard the voices coming from the strange boxes and floating stone balls telling them to kill all humans. The bear spent most of its life on the outskirts of humanity living off their trash. They left him alone, and he did the same, so he had no real desire to kill humans. Over the years, he met more than a few of the nasty little things called dogs, and he learned to hate them. Humans loved their dogs, so he didn’t touch them so he wouldn’t give the humans any reason to kill him, but with the humans gone, it was open season on dogs.


The dog had practically bounced off him trying to run from something. Before it could act, the bear broke the dogs back and was making it into a fresh meal when he saw more dogs traveling in a pack. One of the smaller dogs had a different smell to it, smelling like something he might want to dine on, maybe puppies. The bear started to walk west following the scent. A lone scent went north. It smelled like the dog he just killed, but it also smelled like fear and anger. The stronger smell when west, so he was going west. He walked into areas once controlled by the humans and for the first time, wasn’t afraid to run into any of them. Humanity was dying off, leaving the world open to the animal strong enough to take it. Tic’s blood was still fresh on his muzzle, and he wanted more.

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Too Soon

Tac watched the pack from a distance staying downwind. A day ago, he watched as a bear killed another dog he once thought of as a brother, and his new pack told him he wasn’t welcome with them. His other nonrelated brother named Toe went north away from the others. He wanted nothing to do with Toe’s desire to kill humans or the new packs' search for humans. His life was better without the hated humans and their needs, but he needed to be with a pack to survive, and he felt he was needed even if they didn’t see it yet. Tac was the first one to see the bear the killed Tic following the pack. The bear was too big to kill by himself, and he didn’t think the others would listen if he told them about the bear.


Buster spent their most recent rest staring back the way they came. Dot asked, “Is he still there?” Buster yelped a yes that almost sounded like a human word. He said, “he had a hard life, and I can see why he doesn’t like humans, but I think we gave up on him too soon. I think he could have fit into our pack.” Dot sat next to Buster. She said, “he said he hates humans, and how could we ever trust him? We don’t know what he has done.” Buster said, “do we know anything about each other? As far as you know, Rex could be a killer, and the same could be true for Rosie……. She said she hates humans too. It’s easy to push away than pull close and accept that others are who they are without judgments.” Dot thought about just how much smarter they had all gotten since the human world ended.

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Good and Evil

The group went past the burning Air Force base heading south following signs reading Cincinnati. It sounded like it could be a big town, and maybe they would find the boy there. Rex wanted to find a safe place where Dot could have their puppies. Thinking about the puppies made him think about Steve, his junkyard wonderland, and his brood. Back then, he didn’t think about being alone or needing anyone else other than his Steve and the cat Spike. Squirrels killed Spike, and deer overran his home. Other humans killed Steve. Now he had his new pack and puppies on the way. Dot was talking to Buster about Tac, the German shepherd following them. If he stayed away, he was welcome to follow them. Toe’s scent was long gone, but there was a new scent that seemed dangerous. Rosie came over to Rex and sat down. She asked, “Was I wrong?”


Her question sparked a new concept in Rex. Long before the buzzing sounds of the boxes and balls, he wouldn’t have thought about right or wrong. Notions of good and evil were something new, and they frightened him. He could remember doing things as a guard dog that, in this new light, could be evil. Rex started to wonder if he or they had the right to pass judgment on what is right or wrong. He knew killing for the sake of killing was wrong, but was killing for food wrong? Do the deer deserve the same treatment as they do or any human? Are they eating victims of the boxes? Rex said, “it’s a matter of trust. Can we trust him when we need to, or will he turn on us like Toe? As for bigger questions, I don’t know.” He stood and said they needed to go. He said it loud enough so Tac could hear them. Rex said, “maybe we’re all guilty.”

Now or Never

The scent was stronger. The dogs would stop every few hours, giving the bear time to catch up with them. Occasionally, the bear would pick up the scent of another dog like the one it killed and ate. This other dog was between the bear and his next meal of small dogs and puppies. The ever-present voice in his head kept saying kill humans, but the bear was his animal doing what it wanted, not some disembodied voice’s bidding. He wanted his meal before they got to the safety of a human city. There could be places where the humans still lived, and they would keep him from his puppy meal. He cut across the road, passing some deer as they fell to the ground dead. The deer tasted good to the bear, but he wanted the dog.


Tac saw how the bear was getting ahead of them. It would wait for a place to attack, giving others no way out. Tac looked at this massive monster knowing they would have no chance. If he confronted the bear, he would die, but the others could survive. He thought about the others as well as his former brothers and knew if he ever had a reason to exist, this would be that reason. The bear waited in a hollow downwind for the dogs. If he went unnoticed, he could strike out, killing the bigger dogs long before they saw it coming giving him time to enjoy eating the dog with puppies alive. Tac saw the others coming closer to the bear. It was now or never.

Don't Look Back

The bear could smell his meal coming closer. He was under a fallen tree letting its scent of decay hide his scent. He would be on them before they could move, slashing and biting eating and winning. He heard something move and looked up, seeing the other dog. Tac struck, biting the bear on the snout digging into its face trying to take its eyes. The bear stood knocking the tree away, extending its full six-foot six-inch size while brushing off the biting growling dog from its face. He tossed Tac about ten feet away from him into a bush that broke his fall. Tac stood snapping at the bear while keeping his distance. From behind him, Rex and Rosie joined him, snapping and biting at the bear.


The bear knew he could take all three of them and knew his dinner was nearby. He said, “silly little dog things, tonight I dine on puppies.” Rosie asked, “did he just speak?” The Bear backed away a little. He asked, “what did you say……. How can simple little dog things understand me?” Rex said, “what does that matter……. You aren’t eating the puppies.” The bear stood showing its size and said, “no, no little dog things gets to tell me what I can or can’t do.” He dropped down with a force that seemed to shake the ground and let off a menacing roar that echoed for miles. Rosie asked, “Is this happening?” Rex crouched down to jump at the bear. Rosie did the same aiming for the bear’s legs as Tac aimed for its face again. Rex said, “Dot get ready to run and don’t look back.”

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Take Us to Your Leader

Buster came running into the clearing with the bear and the other dogs. The bear looked at him, backing away. He said, “what are you little yapping thing?” The bear took a swipe at Buster, missing him. Buster ran between the bear’s legs and back around to the way he came. He turned around and gave what looked like a grin. A snap and a crack came from the south as the bear backed away as if something just hit him. The bear howled out in anger. Over the hill, they could hear a man’s voice yelling something incoherent. Four men came over the hill with guns shooting at the bear. Buster looked to Rex and said, “guess what I found.” The bear saw humans and ran to the north.


The four men were in matching uniforms with USAF on the front. One of them said, “yeah, the talking dog came up here.” Another one said, “did you see the size of that bear.” The four men looked at the dogs. The first man pointed at Buster and said, “that one…… he talked…… he said help.” Rex said, “a talking dog who would ever believe that?” The third airman said, “yeah, who would……...” He stopped when he realized it came from one of the dogs. Rex looked to the others who nodded back. He bowed to Tac just a bit to show appreciation. Rex turned to the humans and said, “take us to your leader.”

Note

The Bear will have a follow-up showing the story from the bear's perspective.

Coming Soon

The Bear and the Puppies

© 2019 Michael Collins aka Lakemoron

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