General Fiction posted September 27, 2016


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The making of a rogue grizzly

Rage

by prettybluebirds

Chapter Three

Zeke wakes from his winter hibernation with a start and a snarl, as pain burns through his wounded leg. It is a chilly morning in early May, but warm and cozy in his mountain cave. Even so, he has spent a restless winter. The bullet lodged in his hindquarters has festered during the cold months, waking him often to lick the suppurating wound. Zeke crawls out through the tight entrance of his cave, leaving a trail of pus and blood behind him as the rocky walls tear the scab off the partially healed bullet hole.

As Zeke stands on the rocky ledge that is in front of the cave; the first blush of dawn paints pink caps on the towering mountains surrounding him. He hears the sleepy calls of owls retiring for the day. Otherwise, it is so silent, not a breath of wind is stirring. Below, Zeke spies a gray wolf moving through the mist; so quiet it might be a trick of shadow rather than an animal hunting in the earth- scented dawn.

Zeke stands on his hind legs, stretching to his formidable height of eight feet, to better survey the landscape. The early morning light makes the silver tips of Zeke's hair glow, giving him an ethereal appearance. His small brown eyes are moving restlessly, cold and empty as death; his round fuzzy ears are twitching to catch the slightest sound. He chuffs to clear his nostrils, raising his black nose, and breathing deeply. The smell of wet pine needles rises strongly from the forest below, along with the scent of wolf and some elk further down the slope. Zeke grunts, dropping down to all four feet as the pain in his hindquarter burns through him like liquid fire. It is a grim reminder of his fateful meeting with the human last fall. He swings his massive head back and forth in anger, popping his jaws and snorting as the memory surfaces. An unfathomable blend of terror and rage stings every fiber of his muscles; rage wins.

The pain makes him angry, the memory of his encounter with the human makes him angry; he is hungry after six months of hibernation, and that makes him angry. Even the sight of the wolf makes him angry. Rage tears through Zeke's veins like molten lava. He is a ticking bomb wrapped in bear hide; six hundred pounds of muscle, teeth, and claws ready to explode. He has never before felt authentic rage, and it stuns him, blocking out every other feeling, sharpening his vision and his purpose. Zeke is becoming a rogue grizzly.

In his angry mood, he runs down the trail that descends along the steep slope; leaping rocks, as best he can, and skirting the scraggly trees living on the rocky slopes. Gradually, his rage cools somewhat, and Zeke knows he needs to find some form of nourishment. The best place to look is the lower slopes for pocket gophers and their caches of nuts, but that is a long trek. There is also a good chance of finding a winter-killed elk in the Spruce forest on his way to the bottom of the mountain. Hunger being foremost in his mind now, he tucks the burning rage into a nether corner of his mind to be dealt with when his stomach is full.

Zeke loses his footing about halfway down, rolling down a talus slope, small rocks, and gravel bouncing before him. He roars as pain shoots through his injured rear; lips are curling in a snarl, and foam flying from his mouth like bits of cattail down. He struggles to his feet and limps on down the mountain, being more careful after the painful lesson he just learned in patience. Behind him, dark thunderheads are building.

A fierce gust of wind ripples Zeke's hair as the clouds come careening over the mountain tops. The rain strikes with a vengeance, raining so hard that drops bounce across the rim rock like dancing fairies. Tendrils of fear wind through Zeke's belly when lightning strikes a nearby fir tree; the tang of resin scented smoke drifting in the air until the fire is snuffed out by the downpour. Now, limping worse than ever, Zeke makes his way into the forest and finds an uprooted spruce tree to give him some protection from the vicious downpour. He snuffles and snorts, feeling vastly sorry for himself; the anger and hunger still burning like hot coals in his stomach. Zeke curls up into a shivering, wet, hungry ball of frustrated bear hair; the sound of rain playing a drumbeat on his shelter lulls him to sleep.

Zeke wakes to the smell of wet earth, pine needles, and spring leaves. A fluttering riot of honks and squawks brings him to immediate attention; geese or ducks have landed in a nearby wetland. While plants and roots are typical fares for Zeke's species, a fat goose would be an excellent way to end his fast. Saliva dripping from his jaws, he clacks his teeth in anticipation. Lowering his head and laying his ears back; Zeke sneaks through the tree- filtered sunlight in the direction of the squawking horde of waterfowl. In the branches above him, birds flit and sing, creating a soft serenade. His hunger is a living thing inside him demanding to be satisfied.

Fate decides to give Zeke some assistance in his quest. Dense underbrush and vegetation extend around and into a small marshy pond. It is alive with hundreds of squawking, geese feeding on the underwater plants. Zeke slips unseen into the water and wades to the edge of the brush. There he waits, quivering with anticipation, for one of the noisy fowl to swim close enough to grab. The cold water feels good on Zeke's infected leg. He didn't have to wait long.

A large male goose, so full of arrogance he is unaware of death lurking in the underbrush, swims under Zeke's nose. One swat from a massive paw and the bird is his. Zeke shakes the goose like a rag doll and carries it to dry land to fill his empty belly. He can wait no longer and starts ripping into the meat, gorging himself, eating with the vigor of long abstinence. Feathers litter the forest floor; his fast is over.

To be continued:
























Recognized


This is the third chapter in my story, Rage. I need some input from reviewers on this. It is a story about a grizzly bear who was raised by the park rangers after his mother was killed in an accident. The rangers name him Zeke. Of course, he trusts all humans. He is shot by a farmer who lives on the edge of the park because the man thought Zeke killed one of his sheep. In reality, a cougar killed the sheep and Zeke took advantage of the fresh meat after chasing the cat away. The first chapter is about Zeke's young life with his mother and how he lost her. The second is about the ranger's raising him and later turning him loose to live on his own. Of course, there is more to follow this chapter where he goes to the lowlands and encounters humans again. This is when he becomes a man-killing rogue grizzly. I need to turn this in for my creative writing class. They wanted a descriptive writing with cadence at some point. That is why the word angry is repeated several times. Suggestions are appreciated.
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