The Bear With Human Eyes
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To one Brian Lambert,

The description you have sent did manage to intrigue me at first, but a thorough examination of the supposed creature in question has hailed no valuable results. I am afraid that there is no lexicon within the field of Zoology which details the presence of such a species, and as such it may be no more than a mere myth among lumberjacks and hunters.

Please mind the notions of these small-minded individuals who have chosen to spread these extraordinary stories without regard for rationality. They speak needlessly of many "fearsome critters" such as this one, animals the likes of which can not— and do not— inhabit our sensible, scientific world.

Doctor August Bierre.


As you reach to adjust the scope of your rifle, the palm of your hand is embraced by both the cold steel and warm wood which composes the device. The varnish of the instrument has aged with time and use, but it somehow manages to feel as smooth and fresh as it did on the day that you first purchased it. Perhaps it is nostalgia that preserves the weapon's quality, as thinking back to the time you associate it with conjures pictures of happy moments and friendly faces. When you first began hunting here in the thick of the Colorado woodland, the prospect of doing so seemed much brighter and more alive with possibility than it does now. Now, you hardly make enough money from the pelts and meat to survive day-by-day in your little cottage at the edge of town, and the price of ammunition and repairs raises higher and higher at the end of each dreadful month.

Burying the dug-up memories of times long gone, you return your focus to the scope and gaze through its lense, now seeing the world through its warped and magnified view. The vision of the rifle only serves to confirm what your own eyes had already suspected: at the edge of the small clearing which stands in front of you sits some kind of bear. The animal is asleep, slightly concealed behind a small bush which it saw fit to lie upon in service of its ensuing slumber. While the forest surrounding it does prove to be a deceptive camouflage, you can still safely reason that it is most likely a black bear, and therefore not likely a threat. This isn't the first time during your interaction with nature wherein you have encountered a black bear, and it is more than likely that you will encounter one again afterwards. A seasoned hunter, you know that members of this species pose almost no opposition to man, and are quite easily scared off.

And as such, your brain does not register the creature as a potential threat, let alone that of a nuisance. It is simply in your way, and should be easily convinced to move elsewhere with enough of a scare. As you begin to lower your rifle and your guard, you move over to a decently-sized branch lying on the ground, intent on alerting the bear to your presence. With a kick to the branch and the loud snap which it responds with, you glance back over to the animal's location to see if it has acknowledged the sound, and are relived to see that it has. The bear is now awake, having risen from its makeshift bed and now staring in your direction. With a clearer view than before, you can now confirm that it is indeed a black bear, though its activity now is a bit unusual for members of their species. It should have ran off by now— even with a sound as insignificant as this one and the sight of a human as far away as you are, black bears are not particularly hard to panic, and most would have disappeared during any such event. But this one has decided to stay, and decided to watch.

Slightly deterred now, you raise your scope again and view the creature properly— albeit with no intention to kill as the rifle is not yet loaded. It remains in its position, standing on top of the bush with its hind legs, head darted directly in your direction. Within the language of the scope, the bear seems much larger than it would in person— you know that this species is relatively small, but magnified and in full view the appearance of the beast has been exaggerated, appearing almost as tall as a human. This visual disturbs you slightly, enough to warrant lowering the rifle and glancing at the creature again with the naked eye, confirming that it is indeed of regular height.

As a few brief moments pass, the nature of the animal upsets you even further. It does not move, is not affected by your presence in any noticeable sense. It simply stands in position, seemingly anticipating whatever your next play might be. You continue to observe it, taking in even more little details of its ragged complexion via your scope: its fur is matted and wet, stained from a potential fresh kill or wound. Its wild claws rest against its stomach lazily, pawing against its chest in an almost cartoonish manner. One of its ears appears to be damaged from some kind of recent battle, sporting a gaping chunk near its end which suggests that whatever fight it had entered was not entirely one sided.

But as you take in the bear even longer, you become particularly disgusted with one aspect of its character:

The eyes.

It has been staring directly at you since you first alerted it, and it has only made sense to return that contact. Doing so has revealed a level of detail the likes of which should not exist in animals, as its eyes are not like any you've seen before… they are narrow and harsh, judgmental and piercing, wholly uncanny and untrue. They are the window to the soul, and this soul is truly much more than the body it resides in— the eyes speak of a calculated spitefulness directing an intelligence only made to destroy.

They are almost human.

They are too human.

Your breath starts to accelerate. Your hands shake as you load your rifle, pushing the bullet into the chamber and sliding the sleek iron bolt into place. The threat ahead of you does not respond. It either doesn't understand what you are about to do, or is allowing it to happen. Either way, you pull the trigger with an urgency that you have never felt before in your life. The shot rings out all across the forest, though nothing is stirred in light of the noise. No birds to fly away. No life remains in these trees, other than the entity that you have just faced.

The creature is gone. Not dead, not hit, but gone. When you slowly approach its location and reach the tree next to it, it reveals the outcome which you had dreaded the most:

Your bullet has impacted the tree.

You missed.

Deep in the woods beyond, you can hear it crashing through various branches and leaves, making its escape and returning to whatever hell it had to have crawled out of. While it does so, another noise echoes with it, though this one is far less normal and far more sinister. It sounds like laughter. It resonates through the area and all around you, a deep and devilish cackle that cuts through your spirit and frightens your very core. As it does so, something compels you to look down at the ground towards the bush which it hid inside of. When you do, you spot something so plain and normal, yet so simultaneously awful due to the situation which surrounds it:

Within the bush lies another rifle most likely belonging to another hunter, coated in a thick slime that looks as though it were saliva. Somebody had been here before you. They had to have met the "bear" before you did.

A gross, empty feeling begins to cluster within your gut. The dread is building to an all-time high, wrapping around your muscles and tightening its grip upon your resolve. You can only think to retreat, to run away and escape this cursed thing forever. Though the decision to leave feels cowardly and primal, you know better than to argue against the instincts of fight-or-flight.

Hours later and after having successfully backtracked through the pines and to your truck, you set your rifle in the bed of the vehicle and glance back at the entrance to the forest. It all appears darker than it was before, though the daylight is far from over.

Doctor August Bierre,

Thank you for responding to my inquiry at a fast pace.

While I do concur with you that many of the Colorado residents have quite the mind for imagination, I must reiterate that I do believe these people, and I am concerned for their well being. The volume of these stories has only increased within the past few years, and I worry that they come from a legitimate source rather than over the campfire.

And to make these matters worse, I am told that there are now all too many instances of local hunters reported missing or found nearly eviscerated in otherwise completely tame areas of the White River forest. What do you propose is happening here? What animal resides in your lexicons that can attack these people with such ferocity?

Brian Lambert

The imitation bear returns to its resting spot, a long forgotten mineshaft that has since been swallowed whole by the fauna which grew to surround it. As it pushes open the metal door which guards the entrance, it can't help but to resume its muffled laughter yet again— The things that it meets are all so funny, all so scared out of their wits and far out of their elements that it's hard to suppress the humor that it finds in them. The laughter continues and echoes throughout the mine as it begins to descend it, entering the maw of its domain with a lantern clasped tightly in-between its teeth.

The den below is a mess of bones and loose tissue, most belonging to other bears that it had come across previously. The parts from the others are necessary from time to time, good for adding them onto itself to strengthen the illusion when need be, although it hasn't seen another bear in the immediate area for quite a while now. Its likely that they have learned to fear its foul scent by this point, instinctively avoiding its territory at every possible turn. That's what most of the Colorado wildlife has begun to do.

Finally resting the lantern next to a rusted minecart, the bear's laughter bursts out into a howling fit, once again overwhelmed by the joy and the power and the trickery of it all. It whoops and hollers to no-one but itself as it erratically claws away at the carcass of yet another black bear— this one a slightly more recent catch— digging out its eyes and pushing them into its own sockets.

That's what gave it away this time— the eyes.

And it's not going to happen again.

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