Snakes and Pills

147 - tore

Vinnie had been fast asleep. Despite the meager comforts of his tent and sleeping bag, hiking through the backcountry all day ensured he had no difficulties falling into slumber. He was too tired to even dream. When he had reclined onto the ground, his eyes couldn't shut themselves fast enough. Every resource in his body was being devoted to repairing and re-energizing his weary muscles and bones.

Miles from any other trace of humanity or civilization, the night was still surprisingly noisy. The sound of crickets kept a steady rhythm to the evening, and the wind moving through the trees brought the occasional sound of branches creaking and leaves swaying.

Vinnie wasn't usually a heavy sleeper, but even without the aid of exhaustion from hiking, he had learned to filter out the sounds of nature by now, so that he didn't even notice them.

The noise that startled him from his sleep, then, was something out of the ordinary. A few seconds elapsed while his brain returned cognitive functions to him. It was somewhat unwilling to do so, but eventually Vinnie realized that he was in fact awake.

He didn't move much at first, lying there, staring at the roof of his tent. He didn't have to wait very long to hear that abnormal sound again, though. It was the sound of his campsite being ransacked.

Vinnie wondered if someone could be robbing him. The possibility of merely crossing paths with another person out here was small enough. Crossing paths with a thief who was out to snatch some portable cookware and long underwear seemed impossible. But he had no idea what else the source of the sound could be.

The campfire had extinguished itself long ago, so his surroundings were dark. He fumbled around the floor of his tent, his hands finally grasping upon the flashlight he had brought with him. If a crazed marauder was waiting outside for him, then Vinnie would face his fate head-on. He quickly unzipped the flap of his tent, and threw the flashlight on.

In the cone of light, Vinnie saw an enormous brown bear, rummaging through his food supply. In such a situation, Vinnie would have expected himself to be speechless. However, he somehow managed to blurt out, "Holy moly."

The bear turned toward Vinnie. He was already on the verge of emptying his bowels, but then the bear said, in a friendly tone, "Oh, hey man. What's up?"

"Y-You can talk?" Vinnie stammered.

"Um, yeah? What is that supposed to mean, man? You don't think bears are smart enough to talk or something?" the bear asked.

"No! I mean, we just were never taught that bears could speak like us. Uh, actually, I guess I don't know why I said that. Sorry," Vinnie said, flustered but sincere.

"Oh, it's cool. Let me guess, you probably don't interact with bears very much in your day to day life, right?" the bear suggested, as he put down the bag of energy bars he had in his claws.

Vinnie thought for a moment. "Right. I mean, back in the city? No, never, of course. But even hiking and camping here, they said all the bears died out in these parts a long time ago."

The bear smiled. "Well, clearly not all of us, eh?"

Vinnie nodded, "Clearly."

The bear gracefully organized Vinnie's possessions that he had previously toppled over. Vinnie was still on edge, being in the presence of a bear and all, but he felt a bit more at ease now that he was conversing with the beast.

"Say, friend," the bear began. "I was wondering, and if you don't, that's cool. But, if you have any sugar with you, would you mind lending me some?"

Vinnie thought it over. He had sugar. Sugar was expensive, though. Then again, this was a bear.


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