The sky was frozen white with the threat of precipitation

And the mountains sat with their backs to the world

Only the evergreens remembered color

Nothing else dared to be contrast.


He awoke lying on his side

In the freezing cold mud.

The vast lake's water lapped his skin

Speaking her intention to make him one of her own.


His limbs bare

The blood in his veins condensing

Nerves paralyzed

He thought he died.


And yet he stayed, unstirring

Conscious of his surroundings

Nothing moving

Except thin air


Thin air

The abusive guardian

The attacking serpent

Uncapturable killer.


She bites and strikes

Whips with might

Howling her rage

At the loner.


He resolved

To disappear slowly

Erased by Nature

Forgotten by the living.


And then suddenly the warmth

Like nothing he'd ever experienced before

Shooting life through him

Pleading with him to try.


He fought it

With all his strength

For it was easier to die

Than to try to live again.


But it persisted

Bringing all the feeling back

The senses

And the pain.


The human opened his eyes toward the warmth

To behold this massive force

He saw a darkly colored bulk

And could not comprehend it.


But it touched him again

And he reached forth his hand with effort

And stroked the disturbance

And found it soft.


Hours he lay there

Watching this thing


And days

And months

And years.


At last it came to him

The understanding

That the only thing that could bring him back to the living

Was the living.


It was an animal of some sort

A cougar, a fox, a hound, a horse

Or a bear.

A bear.


The beast uttered a low, pitiful sound

And pressed its paws on the human's arm.

It pushed

And he rolled over in the shallows.


He was face down in the mud

With perhaps an inch of water above his head.

He began to suffocate

And die once more.


But there was something different this time

Something inside him

That the bear had restored

Against his will.



He began to thrash wildly


He flipped onto his back.


He coughed and choked

On the dirty pure water

Heaving and wheezing

Until he could breathe again.


Every movement he made

Was lightning through his bones

Yet somehow he found the strength

To rise and strike the bear.


He hated the creature

For reviving him

For making him feel

The terrible aching.


The bear, thrice his size,

Barely flinched at the blow.

It gazed upon him

In his ragged state.


The human looked around him and saw

Mountains in the distance every which way

The lake's clear, still water spanning across to one

And trees everywhere else.


He did not remember anything.

No recollection of the past

No memory

At all.


Something moving caught his eye

At the bear's feet.

Upon looking closely

He saw a fish.


The bear still looked intently upon him

Its dark eyes

Watching, almost



He staggered up

To the bear

Reached down

And grasped the cold slimy thing.


It wriggled in his hand

Fighting for life

Yet futile...

He bit into its flesh and tore a chunk away.


He tasted the fresh blood and meat

And wondered

Why the living died

While the dead lived.


He bit again

And again

Devouring the whole fish

Even its bones.


He looked at the bear

Who looked at him


And kind.


His senses were sharpened by this meal

And once more he took in his surroundings

And saw an orange glow on one of the mountains-



Then he began walking

Towards the light on the mountain

And at this exact moment

He gained a conscious will to survive.


He went parallel to the lake

The snow and pine needles


Under his feet.


He walked for miles

Until the lake was behind him

And his trek

Met the foothills.


The sloping ground

Swallowed his foot

Every time he took

A step.


The light was


Turning grey and cold

Under the unchanging blanket of clouds.


The human stopped at a tree

And sat

Under it

With his back facing uphill.


As he sunk

Into the snow

It began to slowly fall from above

And he surveyed the land he'd crossed.


The lake appeared to have frozen

Which told him

This place was only getting colder

And it was not fully winter yet.


He began to thirst as he rested

So he

Grabbed handfuls of snow

And swallowed them.


Almost immediately he felt

More extremely cold than ever;

Before, he'd deadened his pain to the temperature

But now his exposed body began to convulse


Wildly jerking and





Until he laid still

Falling asleep

In a forced surrender

To death.


The human awoke.

All he saw at first

Was the blinding white light

Of the clouded sky.


His eyes adjusted

And he realized

That he was enclosed by

Held by

The bear.


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