Daniel James Smith
A swirling angry belt of swollen molten metal globules circles closeto the sun. Their weight incredible for their size, they might beremnants of the Big Bang. Lapped and tickled by solar flares, theyhave circled through what was eternity.
With every ounce of matter mankind impudently removes fromthe precious Earth and leaves haphazardly in space, a nearlyimperceptible change takes place within the universal gravitationalfields that govern all that exists. Now, with millions of tons ofartificial satellites and other superfluous space trash floating faraway from the Earth's ever lightening mass, the universe is beginningto swirl differently, oddly. The vibrations of a wildly unbalancedwheel cause even the most reliable and well-built automobile to shaketight parts loose, and so it is with the universe.
A single enraged glob of swirling superheated primordial gooeffected its escape from the eternal spinning dance around the surfaceof the sun. Its ellipse faltered and strained, it swung uncheckedthrough the cosmos on a collision course with the Earth.
An explosion like no other since the beginning of timeevaporated the Pacific ocean in the blink of an eye. Cripplingearthquakes, raging infernos, and superheated wind storms rocked thetrembling planet.
And so begins our tale of doom....
When Ricky Bachman finally realized what had just happened tohim, he trembled in a mixture of fear and thankfulness that he wasstill alive and bleeding. The blood was running thickly though, andif he wanted to keep from bleeding to death, he had to do two thingsat once. Stop the panic he was in, and tie a tourniquet around hisankle to quash the viscous red life spurting copiously from his jaggedsevered ankle.
Ricky's left foot severed quickly, yet viciously and abruptlyby the ravenous black bear. He could hear the bear growling angrilyas it devoured his stolen flesh and crunched the bones loudly. Thesound of the bears' repast made Ricky vomit roughly. He felt as ifhis stomach had turned inside out into his esophagus as he tied hisbrown leather belt tightly around his calf. The red tide ebbed.
Soon the bear would tire of trying to extricate Ricky from thecraggy gash in the crisp wooded mountainside. At least that's whatRicky was hoping. The bear had a plan to finish its scrawny meal,though. Yes, the bear had a plan.
"Dickie!....Dickie!!!", Helen screamed the name with vigor,the name she knew would piss him off. "You sonofaBITCH!!!", Her voiceechoed icily in the summer's stagnant heat.
Helen had been waiting patiently for Ricky to return from hismorning jog through the northern Michigan wilderness.
"You silly ASShole!", She barked into the desolate foothills.
This was not the first time Ricky had left Helen waiting notso patiently for his return. Even at home in Detroit, he would go offjogging, and be gone for hours. Little did Helen know that THIS timeRicky was not just screwing some slut he had come upon. THIS timeRicky was not coming back tired from the run and the bang. This timehe was not coming back at all.
Helen bided her time by straightening up the camp. She spenttime sweeping out the crisp blue canvas tent, chopping copious amountsof wood for the cook fire, and burying their previous days wastematerials. By 10:30 that morning, plainly passed pissed, Helen wasalso beginning to worry about Ricky.
Ricky woke to the sickeningly strong odor of mutant bearfeces. The bear had squirted shit into the rocky crag where he waslanguishing. The torrid summer heat whipped up a cocktail with thesmell of runny bear shit, caked blood, and pools of puke, that provedtoo much for Ricky to handle. He bolted upright and made a dash forthe entrance of the tiny cave he had 'lucked' into, forgetting hismissing appendage. The pain was instantaneous. Lightning shotstraight up his ass and ripped off the top of his head as it screechedinto the stillness of the woods around him. The pitiful wailingechoed for miles around. The bear, hearing the food in the mountainyelp, answered over her shoulder with a bellowing snarl that Rickyheard echo over his own excruciating wail.
"What in Gods name was that?", Helen asked herself out loud.She heard the bear's ferocious squeal of enraged ecstasy peal throughthe otherwise silent wood. The hideous sound was too close. Her skincrawled and knotted up tight, like a freshly plucked chicken. Shebegan to sob uncontrollably. Helen knew the bear had Ricky. She justknew. Through her bleary tear filled logic, she determined that shewould find Ricky, and help him. She stumbled into the noontime heat.She zig zagged through the forest, following the only sound her earscould discern, Ricky's pathetic wailing.
In the hour that followed, Helen crashed headlong and blind tothe world of the tangled underbrush. Her face and exposed forearmsripped and oozing crimson, she pushed onward. Her yellow hair yankedmercilessly, and torn out with bloody scraps of scalp. The bear paddedsoftly through the forest smelling Helen's fear dripping from thetrees. Walking silently to the left of the pale blonde female as itcrashed violently towards the other prey's plaintive cries, the bearsalivated rabidly. If anyone was to see the bear stalking the paleprey through the woods would swear that the bear was smiling.
The bear was carefully studying her prey, where would be thebest place to bite this strange animal to kill it quickly? The firstone had managed to fight back and escape into that small den. Nowthis one seems to be moving to help the other. Foolish thing. Thecubs would soon eat well.
By the time Helen stumbled upon the opening in the rock whereRicky was screaming in hideous agony, she had lost nearly as muchblood as he. Blood, tears, and snot streamed off Helen's face,cruelly banding her contorted grimace into a fiendish death mask.Ricky cowered from the sight of his shredded spouse.
"My foot, my foot.....the bear ate my foot!", Ricky whimperedinto the crook of his arm.
"Oh, my GOD!", Helen spat loudly.Helen could not believe her eyes, or her nose, as she grunted andwriggled into the rocky crag to be with Ricky. She slipped rudely inthe massive feces slick the bear had left, scraping down the sharpgranite walls and slapping face down into the sticky mess. In themoment of silence that followed her surprise belly flop, they heardthe rough snort of the bear. Almost as if the bear had found humor inHelen's acrobatics. Actually the bear was laughing.
The bear had been snarling with delight for the last halfhour. Following the strange doughy females meandering path through theparched wilderness, the she bear considered the feast to come. Thecubs would be happy tonight. Food had been very sparse this long hotsummer. Mostly carrion, roots, and berries, but even the berries hadbeen few because it was just so damned hot. Even deep in the darkforest home, where it is normally cool, the heat had been mysteriouslyoppressive. That strange orange sky that took the place of thenighttime darkness must have something to do with the heat, they bothstarted around the same time soon after the winter's hibernationbroke. It was right after the strange skies appeared that thesickness came, and the food began to disappear. The bears mate hadlost huge patches of his luxurious coat before going insane andgrowling and snarling into an unwanted oblivion. The cubs wanted toeat the male bear then, but she would not allow them.
Several weeks later though, when his flesh had ripened andfermented into a bloated satanic gruel, they all delighted in themale bears smarmy cadaver, savoring sweetly every drop. They burroweda temporary den close to the carcass to guard it greedily from othercarnivores. They feasted for a full week. Then, when the cubsrefused to emerge from the temporary den, the bear had to search formore flesh, the cubs needed more flesh. She had returned many timeswith offerings for her babies, but none would satisfy them, they couldnot be coaxed out of their slumber den. Surely these bizarre pallidcreatures would draw the babies out, the rubbery meat of thesecreatures would ferment beautifully. The sticky brew they would rotinto would surely delight the cubs. Yes, she would bring themsomething good.
The waiting game had begun. Helen and Ricky waited for thedevil bear to leave, and the she bear waited for the food to emergefrom the rock. They all waited.
The orange glow that filled the sky that evening wasespecially bright. Strange clouds swirled frantically in the sordidsky. The heat had not subsided in months, not since the fire-windfinally stopped. The animals that had not perished from theoppressive heat had gone mad and devoured each other. Only a few hadremained into this, the fifth month of the eternal burning. Manyhumans attempted to escape the inferno by flooding into wildernessareas. Tiny lethal wars erupted over water rights and fooddistribution. Most people had no idea how to survive the city, muchless the forest, even at the best of times. This situation was pastthe endurance of many. The city dwellers perished by the hundreds ofthousands. Anarchy ruled the earth. Anarchy and the heat. Ricky andHelen were seasoned campers, hikers, and all around outdoor folk.They were able to escape the madness and mayhem of Detroit, and ontheir blue and chrome Honda 750 four cylinder motorcycle, they roaredinto the hilly wilderness of northern Michigan. A place they hadoften found solace and refreshed their souls. Now, though,their souls needed more than refreshing.
Ricky died in a coma on the third day of incarceration. Helensunk into a deep despair that caused her mind to shift into a modethat she did not know existed, catatonia. She laid clutching Rickyuntil his putrescent fetor forced her to return to reality. Thirst,hunger, claustrophobia, and the sudden need to kill that fucking bearforced Helen to bid good-bye to her late husband and their rocky cell.Helen's appetite for survival suddenly returned with vigor.
In the early twilight of the fifth day of her bear inflictedprison, Helen had gathered the remainder of her wits, and the compass,pocket knife, empty canteen, and packet of matches from Ricky'squickly decomposing corpse. She made her plans, and began to executethem.
The bear could detect the perfume the rotting body wasemanating. She was near frantic to gather this feast for her babies.The bear was pacing frenetically, a continuous cloud of dust rose fromher heavy feet slamming into the parched earth. Her mouth clackedloudly, too dry to salivate.
Suddenly, impatiently, the bear belched a hideous roar intothe orange swirling sky shook the trees with such vibrato that smalltwigs, acorns and leaves, bleached and dry, rained down into her stillopen cavernous mouth. Surprised by the rain of debris, she boltedupright. High on her haunches, eyes searching frantically, bellowinginto the trees, looking for the perpetrator. Who would dare to dropthings into her open mouth?
Helen caught the bears' state, and readied herself to end herengagement in this tiny stone dungeon. Helen had used the pocketknife to sharpen a point on a four foot long hickory branch.Suddenly just outside the prison appeared a furry bear belly, exposedto the opening, in reach of Helen's homemade weapon.
"Take THAT!!! FUCKING BITCH!!!", Helen spat viciously as shebulldozed the sharpened hickory into the bears unveiled nipple ladenbelly. Her thrust was so malevolent that her hands followed thebranch insidiously into the bears gut. "BLOOP!" The bear's bellysplit like a thick hairy water balloon. She released the hickory andgrabbed for organs, ripping, shredding, flailing, eyes closed deepinto the gut of the bear. The gash in the soft belly flesh openedeasily. The bear rocketed backwards with the unexpected attack andshrieked with surprise and anger, her huge front paws slapped weaklyat the attackers back. She could not understand how the pale food hadmanaged to hurt her. She could hear the food shrieking maniacally asher strength sucked quickly out through her eyes. Helen was buriedtorso deep in the bears internal organs when it finally stopped theghastly grunting. Helen took a huge breath. It crackled in her ragged throat. Helenscreamed with victorious delight, then she plunged her face into thesticky red ooze, and drank deep.