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by Darrell Bain
Category: Science Fiction
Description: A new short story from Darrell Bain! Won't it be great to talk to animals? But what if no one believed you, and you were a nine year old girl named Samantha? Find out!
eBook Publisher: Double Dragon Publishing/Double Dragon eBooks, 2006 DDP
eBookwise Release Date: January 2006
41 Reader Ratings:
Available eBook Formats: OEBFF Format (IMP) [24 KB]
Reading time: 12-17 min.
Mrs. Douglas was getting tired. She flicked the fly rod one more time, then decided to call it quits. She secured the line, then waited until she caught her husband's attention. He was fishing farther downstream. When he looked her way, she waved, then turned to point to the shore to show him she was through for the day. That's when she saw the grizzly bear on the bank of the stream. It was sitting, much like a human might do, and her nine year old daughter was propped on one massive leg pulling at the fur on the backside of one of the bear's huge front paws. She was laughing.
"Oh my God! Ron! Come quick! Ronnnalllldd! Hurry!"
Nine year old Samantha Douglas hung on to huge bear and glanced toward the stream at the sound of her mother's voice. She laughed and stood up on the bear's back leg and wrapped her arms around a front one. "Look, Mom!" she shouted gleefully as the bear slowly raised it's arm and lifted her into the air, then set her back down on its splayed out leg as carefully as a mother placing a baby in a cradle.
Mrs. Douglas looked on in horror. Her breath caught in her throat, leaving her unable to utter a word. At the same time Mr. Douglas saw what was happening.
"Sammie! Get away from that bear!" His voice came out high and shrill, fraught with fear. He dropped his fly rod and began splashing towards the shore, his progress impeded by the heavy waders and thigh-deep water. As he ran, he fumbled for a grasp on the .38caliber revolver holstered at his chest. He struggled toward his daughter while his thoughts skittered wildly, wondering what effect his pistol would have on a half-ton bear and whether he would be in time to find out. "Sammie, get away!" he called again, scared that at any moment the bear would hug Samantha to its chest and mangle her as easily as him wadding up a piece of scrap paper.
Samantha was an obedient child. She looked up at the bear's huge head, with its mouth open and tongue lolling. He looked funny with one normal ear and one shortened and notched from an encounter with a bad tempered wolverine. Whoofluff had told her it happened when he was a cub. She spoke some words to the beast's good ear, then jumped off its leg. The bear made a deep snuffling noise at her as it got to its feet and ambled away. It had a peculiar gait to its walk from two missing toes on a back paw, courtesy of the same wolverine that had mangled its ear. A moment later Samantha was almost being crushed in the embrace of both her parents.
"Sammie, don't you ever go near a bear again," Mrs. Douglas admonished once she could speak coherently again.
"But Mom, he wasn't going to hurt me. He said so."
"Oh Lord, not that again," Mr. Douglas said. His hands were still trembling, but the bear was already out of sight and he could feel his pulse slowing down. "Sammie, animals can't talk. I've told you that over and over."
"I know Daddy, but they think like they're talking. Whoofluff just wanted to play with me. He said so."
"That's his name. He said he'll be back again sometime. He likes to play with me."
"Well, you're not to play with him again, do you understand!" Mrs. Douglas almost screamed at her daughter, horrified at what might have happened. In Alaska there were numerous stories of humans being killed and eaten by the big grizzlies.
"But Mom, he…"
"I don't want to hear it! It was bad enough when you brought that pair of raccoons home. Wild animals are dangerous, Samantha! Don't you understand that?"
Samantha hung her head and didn't answer. She didn't know how to answer. No one believed her when she told them animals talked. And the bears wouldn't hurt her, not the ones she played with, like Whoofluff, or Loosmuff and her cubs, Soomum and Kolpumf, which Mom and Dad hadn't seen her with.
"Do you understand, young lady?" Mrs. Douglas gripped Samantha by her upper arms, not sure whether she wanted to spank her daughter or just hug her to death.
"Yes'm," Samantha said. Neither parent noticed she had one hand behind her back, fingers crossed.
Copyright © 2006 Darrell Bain