The curious adventures of a boy and a bear.
The facts were these:
Henry was nineteen years old.
He was still mostly asleep.
His girlfriend (of six months and four days), Clarice, was expecting him at the Joe’s café at ten o’clock sharp. There she would tell him, gently but firmly, that they should start seeing other people. She would leave out the part where she already had. Started seeing other people, that is. Specifically a boy from Russia, with an accent and a “knowledge of culture”, named Vladimir.
The digital alarm clock beside his bed read 9:25, in red LED numbers.
Henry opened his eyes.
A bear was standing at the end of his bed.
It was black all over, a deep black that went on forever and shone delicately in the window light. It stood in a very slight crouch (the fur on its head brushing the dust from the ceiling) and stared at Henry with unblinking brown eyes. Its nostrils moved, in-out-in-out, with its breathing.
The bear scratched its chest with one paw, claws extended.
Dust motes swirled in lazy circles from the ceiling.
“Hullo”, said Henry, entirely unsure how he felt about the whole situation. Now that he was fully awake, he was feeling much less peaceful.
The bear tilted its head to the side, puppy-like, and huffed through its nose.
The alarm clock clicked as it turned on. The London radio blared into the room. Henry twitched back against the bed frame, startled. “...mostly foggy today, with a 40% chance of rain in the afternoon...” the announcer was saying. The bear extended one arm and swatted the alarm clock to the ground. The voice drowned in static and died. The LED numbers blinked out.
Henry stared. He breathed through his mouth, rapid and shallow.
The bear brought both front paws on to the bed and all the blankets slid down towards it. It nosed forward, leaning on its front legs. Two large craters formed in the mattress.
The phone was in the kitchen, down the hallway, through the door, directly behind the bear. Henry’s cell phone had been on the bedside table, but was now on the ground with the alarm clock. He did not know the number for animal control, regardless.