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Stories from the Verse
Chapter 65: Beam 177
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Previous chapter: Brown 260
The lead bear led the way for his family in walking toward the few scattered bones left by the zombies. Standing six feet high at the front shoulder on all four feet, he rolled on with the casual arrogance of someone who knew nobody and nothing was going to get in his way. His fur was a dark brown, almost black, and the muscles stretching under it looked off. Getting to the zombie bones, he snuffled them, and then reared his head back to make a disquieted moan that warbled up and down making Beam’s hair stand on end.
“Sir, infrasonic effect detected, sir,” Dawn said as she stood braced next to him. She was always ready for combat.
“What does that do?” his redhead asked nervously.
“It produces feelings of fear or dread in people,” Beam explained.
Not me, Bob thought as he floated into the back room to join them. It’s nice.
The female bruin, a mountainous five feet at the shoulder, suddenly reared, and cast about her head. She sniffed the air. Then she turned her head right toward the house that Beam and the rest were hiding inside. Studying her as she lowered herself, Beam gulped. She was the second largest bear he had ever seen. Her husband was the first.
“Sir, continuing infrasonic effect, sir.”
All five bears started walking toward the house. It was not a zombie-like move, as they had individual concerns with one juvenile who was near orange in color reaching down to sniff a flower. At the same time, it was clear they were heading their way.
“I think they smell us. I wonder if they’re hungry,” Bron said.
Beam began to think of asking Bob.
Bears don’t usually attack humans, Beam wanted to say--but was that true in this world? Or as he studied the small tanks rolling his way, maybe it had been true before whatever had been done to them was done. What moron had thought to themselves, oh, a bear is really tough, let’s give it an upgrade?
“They have too many bones,” Bron suddenly said. Beam saw it, too. Someone had decided that a typical huge bear was not big enough, and so had inserted extra bones into the legs. He supposed the extra third bone in the lower legs was to provide extra support. Hopefully the chimera-crazy folk who had lived in this land had stopped at giving them a fear moan and extra bones to support extra weight, but he considered the difference between what Bron ate and what Ashleigh ate. Something that big was going to need a lot of food.
“Get the weapons. Be quiet, but ready. We can hope they will leave, but if they don’t I want to be ready to repel boarders.”
The others left to get their gear, and Bob came down with the Pyronics 2000. The white haired man really hoped that was not needed, but better to have it and not need it, than to need it and not have it. As he took the heavy weapon in hand, one of the juveniles a mere three feet at the shoulder walked up to the back door. It pushed its paw lightly against the door--well, lightly for it. The door creaked and gave consideration to giving up. Everyone held their weapons closer. The brown haired juvenile gave up, stretched to his full height of eight feet tall, and scratched its claws in the wall above the door.
This led to its sibling coming up and bouncing it out of the way so that it rebounded off the house, which shook the back half of the house. She then stood up, and stretched, and scratched at a spot which sounded higher than her brother had. This left the orange haired one to be snorting until the other sibling came up and towered over it until it backed out of the way. This one was a full ten feet tall, and put claws into the wall above the door with enough force to pierce through the exterior siding and the interior wall support beams. That mark would certainly be above those of its siblings, and it looked smug, until its father gave him a loud huff from the backyard.
Beam’s redhead threw her hand to her mouth to stifle a giggle. It was a clear ‘quit goofing off, junior’. Then all the ursines turned to leave except for the youngest, who gave a parting smack to the door. It cracked open, and Beam could imagine the scent in the air, and just as he almost expected he heard Bob say in his mind.
They smell us.
The junior turned back, but before it could do more its eldest sibling hit the back door at a quarter charge, maybe as fast as it could move from nine feet away with all paws on the ground. The door flew open, half hanging off its hinges, and the bear met Dawn. She stood there in her black hoodie, and black miniskirt, looking like a young girl, and a shotgun was in her arms. Boom, boom, two loads were fired, and one hit each eye, and the bear came on, possibly dead but over a thousand pounds of weight at twenty miles per hour did not stop on a dime. She leapt up in a flip and landed on the bear’s back. The bear reared, and threw her flying to bounce off a wall.
Its face was ruined magnificence, but it was not dead. Its roar blanked out thought so that Bob fell out of the air. Ashleigh shot him in the face, and Beam could have sworn that her bullet bounced off the bear’s skull. Had those idiots laced his bones with steel or something? Hoping, he unleashed his Pyronics 2000 at very close range, and set on emulsify. The bear’s head exploded.
Relieved, he leaned back, and then the wall exploded with over a ton of angry bear patriarch disdaining such simple things as doors or windows. Beam began to spin, to put up the Pyronics, forgetting it had to recharge when a paw caught him across the arm. Pyronics and arm went left. He fell back. Dawn came streaming across the room like an angel of death, rapid firing her rifle with one hand and her automatic pistol with the other, screaming in apparent rage as she attempted to frighten it. The bear turned toward her, and Bron hammered its head with his hammer. The huge bear, still half outside, did not even appear to notice the attack. Instead he kept turned toward Dawn. She was firing everything she had into the huge bear’s face. He saw his darling redhead, Sophia, lean down beside him looking stricken at his wounds, and he wanted to tell her he would be fine. But then the arterial wound from the amputation of his right arm bled him out.
There is a behind-the-writings look at the thoughts, influences, and ideas of this chapter, along with eleven other sequential chapters of this novel, in mark Joseph "young" web log entry #487: A World in Space. Given a moment, this link should take you directly to the section relevant to this chapter. It may contain spoilers of upcoming chapters.
As to the old stories that have long been here: