Moxy and the bear

May 12, 2007

Freeman Moxy is my NaNo character. As part of a warm-up for the event last year, I wrote this, inspired by the prompt “Through”, in 15 minutes. Apologies for the violent ending.

Through the alley, Moxy ran, pursued by a bear.Why the bear was following him, he didn’t know; he didn’t even know that bears came into the town at this time of year. Or ever. He had seen a few documentaries in which progressively more Yogi-like bears began by stealing pickernick baskets but soon progressed to jacking cars and robbing banks, but had thought they were cartoons too.

He had no food with him to drop. He knew from the Yellowstone park brochures that a fed bear was a dead bear, although fortunately his literal interpretation of that was not to be tested seriously. From the same source, he knew that bears could outrun humans easily, as well as climb trees faster than he. He couldn’t climb trees at all. Someone else had told him that collapsing into a foetal position and playing dead was by far the best strategy for out-smarting a bear intent on damaging one, although he wasn’t entirely sure that this bear was less smart than the average bear.

What was it he had read about backing slowly away? That had been his first reaction when the bear had rung his doorbell holding a new gas-supply contract for him to sign. However, the bear’s insistent sales technique had soon developed that tactic into forwarding quickly away. He’d managed to leap the sofa, hurtle through the kitchen and slam the back door behind him before the bear had begun its pursuit, which had given him an adequate head start. Soon he was fleeing through the city blocks, although the bear had been smart enough to open his back door and carry on the chase.

He had an idea. Skittering around the corner at the end of the alley, throwing up clouds of dust just like Wile E Coyote would, he checked the signs of the shops he passed: Keys Cut… Shoes Polished… Tasty Kebabs! Bingo. Ignoring the flagrant oxymoron of the sign, he charged in and ordered a gyro. While the employee brutally hacked meat of undefined origin from the elephant leg behind the counter, Moxy calmly – or at least as calmly as his heart-rate would allow – took the nearest seat to the up-folding gap in the counter-top. The bear barged in, jangling the bell above the shop door and looked around, evidently somewhat puzzled.

“Oy!” shouted the gyro vendor. “We don’t serve bears in here!” He added, sotto voce, to Moxy: “A fed bear is a dead bear, you know.”

“Yes, I knew that.”The bear roared, because he could. Moxy shot behind the counter, also because he could. Plus, he couldn’t think of a more sensible course of action. The vendor was cowering there as well, still holding his oversized meat-cleaver.

“Give me that?” suggested Moxy, hearing the breathing of the bear coming closer to the counter. Letting out a roar of his own, he leapt up, threw the knife as swiftly and truly as he could; it embedded itself neatly between the bear’s eyes.

“They’re endangered,” pointed out the vendor, a little too late.

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