The Abandoned Station

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Inside the Orange Bear

 

The orange bear waddled up to me in its carefree, no fucks given way and muttered in my ear, "I know all your secrets."

But I wasn't going to fall for that one again. 'All' is a nice big word, appropriate for a nice big God, but certainly a run of the mill, Valium-addled (probably) bear being familiar with all my wheelings and dealings is a bit of a stretch.

'That's quite a claim", I reply, staring airily past them and towards the yellow-coming-into-orange horizon on this seemingly endless tundra.

"Is it? I've seen all your films. No traditional Hollywood fare, and certainly very personal."

"Maybe you just see your own life my work and are trying to flee from your own secrets."

The orange bear lets out a guttural bellow of displeasure, and I certainly take a few steps back in fear, my feeling of superiority via armchair psychiatrist quickly evaporating.

It sits upright on its sizable rump, clapping its forepaws with a muffled, furry clumping sound. Immediately a tiny robot zooms out from behind a nearby snowdrift, a small set of tank treads whizzing it across the snow.

Upon the tray upon its head is a pair of strange, identical apparatuses, extra large oven mitt-type gloves with mechanical human hands bolted onto where the stuffed-inside fingers would end (or really, the paws, since you can see where this is going).

The orange bear clumsily slips on the first oven mitt (fortunately for the bear, they're quite wide at their opening), but immediately the artificial hand begins to move half-smoothly, and is quickly able to put the complimenting mitt on the other paw.

"Now", the bear says, showing its comfort with its new digits by pushing out its forearms and linking the fake fingers and making them audibly crack, "I think it's time to discuss your immediate future."

I stared at the Orange bear and crunched the numbers. I was suddenly facing a proud, noble animal that isn't morally above batting me around like a beach ball and consequently crushing my bones into a thousand pieces, with the added bonus of opposable thumbs. Clearly I was outmatched physically. Clearly I would attempt to parlay for my life and let the bear escort me to the nearby ruins of a research cabin that somehow preserved a love seat which was formerly inside and would act as a sort of recliner so I could wax nostalgic about my past while the bear plays the role of an Arctic Jung. The bear seemed to sense this as well.

So instead I chose option 1A, and made a run for it. I simply turned around and bolted back to my own base camp. I heard the bear make a grunting sigh, clearly annoyed that it put on its hands for nothing. An important factor. it would have to remove them and return the pair of mitts to the robot before it could begin chasing on all fours.

Even with my current head start, however, my outlook was grim. Unless I made it to the edge of Copper Hill, my own base about fifty metres below on a very smooth and simple gradient downwards. It would be just steep enough that, with me on my waiting GT-snow racer and the bear not being very good at running downhill on even the gentlest slopes, I just might make it.

My black Crios boots were top of the line, so I was practically gliding atop the soft spring snow. And just as I began to hear the rhythmic stomping of the bear's gallop, I caught sight of my vehicle in the distance. I dug deep inside myself to use every single bit of potential energy available, and was immediately sweating beneath my many layers of still winter clothing.

I practically leapt onto the snow racer and used my last ounce of strength to push off, but puttered only a quarter metre forward. Looking down, I saw that the vehicle's front skis had been stomped into an unusable j-like shape.

Goddamn smarter-than-your-average bear.

And with that very mammal bearing down upon me, probably with a triumphant grin on its face, I simply stood up and threw myself down the hill, rolling feebly (since it wasn't steep enough to go any other way) towards my camp.

This actually bought me some time, since this act was (once again) unexpected by the Orange bear, but seconds later it just leapt down after me.

At one point, as I was half rolling, half crawling, half sliding on my belly down the hill, my head was facing back up it and I saw the bear gaining on me right quick. The look in its eyes were clear: you're gonna pay for making me work a little bit harder, and if my hand-mitts are damaged in any way because I had to take them off so fast, then Vishnu help you-

And that's when I noticed I'd crossed my defence markers, and the bear wasn't on the white list. So as soon as the bear galloped past that tiny, lime green flag sticking out of the permafrost, klaxons blared, and my robotic giant squid (well, one-eighth the size of an actual giant squid), burst forth from below the snow and rolled quickly and unnaturally towards the intruder, now mere centimetres from nipping at my boots.

The Orange bear puts on the last second jets and is breathing hard as it is about to catch me, but between its wheezes I put together its threatening words:

"It doesn't matter, inside the gates of Eden."

And just as it lunges and sinks its teeth upon my boots, my squid arrives and bashes the side of the bear's head with one its steel arms, inadvertently setting me loose. The bear roars in anger and rises upon its hind legs ready to fight, but my robotic protector has already identified its targetís weak point, and several of its arms wraps around the bear's limbs and trunk. Immobilized, the bear falls to the ground, the squid wrapped around its like a series of boa constrictors.

Getting up slowly while trying to catch my breath, I don't gloat, not even for a moment. My guard hasn't gotten very much use so I don't know about its battery power, and last thing I need is for it to suddenly turn off.

And I wonder if that's what the bear's thinking as well, since it's still trying to push against the squid's arms, as if doing so could wear it out somehow.

But no, the squid's eyes glows red and exerts even more pressure, and I think I hear bones begin to snap.

The bear roars in anger and pain, and I almost clamp my hands over my ears. The squid's arms seem to now have trouble restraining the animal, and I wonder if it's time to search for my gun.

But then, trying to wrench itself free, the Orange bear instead ripped itself in half.

And while I was suddenly nauseous at the expected vomitous release of its bowels and flesh, there was no actual spillage to compliment my sensible assumption.

Rather, the bear came apart like a Pinata, An outer husk of what appears to be an Orange bear, but is instead just another animatronic creature. Inside, instead of candy, was a blinding flash of very particular fireworks. Fireworks of my life.

Every tiny rocket and combustible shooting up into the evening sky and exploding ends up being a picture of something from my childhood (dogs, bicycles, tree forts, electronic devices, friends, cookies, family). Soon there was series of documentary style videos of my trips to the city, where there were grey silicone towers and glassy apartment blocks and an impressive cloud of natural spring water that rained on an impeccable schedule, controlled by the seven half radio towers that encircled the downtown core.

And when that finally ends and the smoke clears, even the squid guard looks like it's shedding something akin to a tear. And sitting inside the remains of the robotic bear - also badly damaged from the fight - is its robotic operator, designed to look a bit like my grade eight English teacher.

It stares at me with kind, dead eyes, its upper body awkwardly bent, its half buzzing voice coming more from its centre of gravity than its head:

 

"I've been sent here by your father. Come home...come home...come home..."

 

END

 

Everything I know is all I know