The grizzlies woke up at dawn, and continued moving West, in the direction of the sun.
“Where are we going?” Liwanu, a strong male cub, asked.
“We are going to a lake! The lake is vast, and full of fish, far away from all the manpeople.” Mother Bear responded. Liwanu’s eyes widened, and he grew excited for such a beauty that would come.
They lumbered on for what seemed like hours until they came to a large river. It was wide but shallow, easy to cross if not for the harsh current.
“We will eat first, then cross.” Mother Bear told her cubs. Mimicking Mother Bear’s movements, the young cubs stood along the edges of the river, swiping in all directions. The river was bountiful with salmon, and many ran right into the paws of the bears.
“I caught one!” Liwanu bragged, followed by distant snarls from his brothers and sisters positioned around the river. Once they had all caught a fish, they hunkered down in a small circle and ate their fresh kills. Liwanu was entrenched in the wondrous smell of fresh salmon. He had caught a king salmon, one that was larger than all of the ones caught by his siblings. Mother Bear of course caught the largest, it had flopped around until she hooked it with her claw in one practiced maneuver.
After their bellies were full, the bears crossed the river and continued on their way. Dusk was approaching, and so they sought for some type of shelter. Finally, Liwanu found a sheltered hollow, one that would protect the small bears from the cold of the wind. Their heavy brown coats had not yet grown into the double coats Mother Bear adorned.
Liwanu’s stomach felt tight, as if it had gas in it. He stretched and moved around until it felt better, and dismissed the feeling so that he could fall back to sleep…
The next morning all of the grizzlies got up and began on their long journey once again, following the path away from the rising sun. Its rays cast long shadows on the thick spruce trees, and the world was still quiet. Liwanu’s stomach still felt uncomfortable, but this time, his head was pounding too. Each step he took seemed to draw him downward, and nausea soon followed.
“Liwanu, why are you dragging behind?” his mother inquired, all the way at the head of the small group of wandering bears.
Liwanu began to speak, but no sound came out. His throat was slackened with phlegm, and hurt to swallow. His paw steps became distant, and a small piercing noise interrupted his hearing. The ground in front of him, Mother Bear, and his siblings, became brown and green blurs. Thud. Thud. Thud. His pawsteps seemed to echo through his skull, and as each paw met the ground, a shudder ran through Liwanu’s body. He grew weaker and weaker, until all he saw was blackness. No more sound entered his ears. He collapsed.
Liwanu opened his eyes. He couldn’t hear anything. His vision was blurry. The blackness called for him. With every breath, his body rattled. It was too difficult to go on, too difficult to breath. Liwanu had never seen death, but the word came to him. Death, darkness.
Mother Bear and the other cubs stood beside Liwanu, whining and squealing as they realized what was happening. This was not Mother Bear’s first litter, and not her last. She had experienced a cub dying before, and the death of a cub broke her heart into shards, destroying her from her inside to her outside. She knew the little bear would feel better in death, with no pain, and no worries. Instead he would live in an endless hunt near the river, able to fish in his dreams for eternity.
“Rest in peace my cub” she somberly whispered into Liwanu’s ear. She and her cubs lay in silence next to little Liwanu, until the rasping breaths stopped emitting from his body. Wearily, the bears stood up, and continued on their journey, grieving all the way…
Liwanu awoke to rustling beside him. His vision was blurry. Around him the musky, yet sweet smell of man wafted. He felt a small paw under his pelt, lifting him off the ground. The world went black once again…
The next several weeks passed quickly. Liwanu would wake up, and his mouth would be met immediately with fish. Then he would drift back into his slumber. All the time, the smell of man continued. With each awakening, Liwanu grew stronger. He began to feel strength flow back in his bones. Soon he would be up for hours at a time, playing around with several balls. He was always watched by the sweet smelling human. Her pelt hair would hang down, and he liked to swat at it. She would scratch behind his ears and rub his stomach.
Liwanu opened his eyes. He was back in the forest!
“Mother Bear? Mother Bear where are you?” he cried. But, she was nowhere. The forest was small too, and nearby a stream flowed. He scanned the other direction to see a large lump of fur, about the same size as himself. It was black, and, bear shaped!
“Hello?” Liwanu greeted. The small cub rose to his paws and look at Liwanu.
“Hi, I’m Cedar, have you seen my Mother Bear? She looks just like me! Well, she’s black, and likes to climb trees, oh and my brothers and sisters too?” He asked nervously.
“The name is Liwanu, and no I haven’t seen your den family. I can’t find mine either. The last thing I remember was feeling sick, and falling asleep.” Liwanu replied.
“The same thing happened to me, it seems as if it’s just the two of us, we should be friends!” Cedar suggested.
“That sounds like a great idea, now let’s go explore our new territory!” Liwanu responded with glee. Together the two of them patrolled the new woods. However, it didn’t take too long, as near the edge of the woods there was a meadow, but past this was metal barrier that the bears couldn’t pass. Around the barrier were large black spider webs, but these looked different from the ones Liwanu had seen in the old forest. They soon realized that the territory was closed with no means of escape…
Days passed, every day the stream would become full of salmon, and fresh fruit would fall from the trees to eat. The water in the stream was fresh and cool, and along one side of the territory were caves to make dens in. Cedar and Liwanu played and napped all day, they might’ve lacked family, but they had each other. Liwanu could now rest, in peace.