“Don’t mind the noise,” a soothing voice said. “Get back to doing bear stuff.”
“What sort of bear stuff?” The bear replied.
“You know… fishing, hunting, playing with your friend Piglet?
“I’m sorry. That’s not me. I need to feel motivated. What’s my motivation?”
“You don’t need motivation; you’re already a bear!”
“You’re a human but I’m not expecting you to act like Roy Rogers and Clint Eastwood. How ignorant!”
“Jeff,” the voice whispered. “Turn on the gas. It looks like another won’t cooperate.”
“Whatever you say, Bill.”
A green cloud began to fill the room. The bear merely continued staring at horizon it had figured out was two-way glass. Impending death had not changed its demeanor, but rather gave a curious expression in the place of fear.
“I surmise,” choked out the bear as its lungs began to give, “you’d like to know what you’ve done wrong in this experiment.”
“We don’t need advice from lesser mammals. If you were intelligent at all you’d be the one gassing us.”
“I’m going to tell you, regardless. The obvious explanation is you can’t play God expecting results in your favor; the less obvious being, bears will generally eat fish over honey in their environment.”
The room became completely obscured with gas. The bear did not use the situation to its advantage for escape, however. It merely lied down as if going to sleep, happy to have the hard part of its journey over with.
“That one sure didn’t put up a fight.”
“You expected it to?”
“Well, yeah, wouldn’t you?”
“I’m human; my life means more.”
“But will your death in the end?”
“Really!? You’re getting pretty philosophical.”
“Let’s just bring in the next bear.”
Another bear walked out identical to the first in appearance. It was not clear where the corpse of the other had gone.
“What do you say we let this one live for a while, maybe get it some fresh fish?”
“I’d say you’re losing your nerve.”
“Didn’t you hear what that other bear said?”
“No. You heard a bear talking?”
“Yeah,” Bill said nervously. “Didn’t you?”
“I think you need a break…”
“No… please… I’m really all right!”
These were the last words Bill remembered speaking to Jeff. He slowly opened his eyes inside the bear pen that was no longer a bear pen. Bill was back in his college dorm room. The familiar swimsuit calendar hung on the wall with posters of his favorite bands. He ran up to his roommate, Zach, he hadn’t seen in nearly twenty-years. "Hey, man, want to go play some Frisbee in the quad?" Zach didn't respond. Bill noticed him flicker. A familiar blowing sound emitted from the floor.
Bill felt his lungs begin to seize. The room was filled with greenish haze. He ran with all his strength toward where he thought the two-way glass must have been. When he fell over, he crawled. Jeff was not ready to die. He refused to accept it. The lights were dimming; he knew it had nothing to do with the electricity.
As he lay, finally immobilized, he saw the other bear, the dead bear, sitting where his friend had been mere moments before.
“Help me! Please! I can save you too!” Bill thought more than talked. He was barely capable of whispering.
“So naïve,” the bear said before vanishing and leaving Bill to his fate.