Before I begin, you must understand that my memory is very spotty and vague. The faces and names have blurred and I can’t differentiate who was who. How I wandered into such a place is a bit vague as well. However, at the very least, I can explain what occurred in that little town next to the sea.
It was an average day, sometime in late Spring or early Summer. The air was neither warm nor cold, clear nor clouded, lively nor dead. It was the most everage day that could exist.
And I was the most average boy you’d ever seen. I wasn’t weak nor strong, tall nor short, skinny nor bulky. I didn’t even have a very memorable face. And the car I was driving was even less memorable than I was. A beat-up silver Contour, with rusted edges and a broken AC. Nothing special, nothing unique.
Well, as I was driving, I got the bright idea to climb out the window and hop into my friend’s car, which was driving in front of me. Which friend it was, I can’t remember. All I know is they let it happen.
For some odd reason, I expected my car to follow us all the way to where we were going. I didn’t expect it to keep going straight when we turned and go off a different exit to us. I turned to my friend driving the car and told them to stop so I could get my car. They did, and I hopped out on the side of the road and started walking back for my car.
I was lost within seconds. The road we’d just driven down didn’t lead back to my car, and the road it did lead to was empty. No cars, no life. Well, I had no clue what to do, so I just kept walking.
It was a while before I saw the town on the waterfront, and at that point, I wasn’t going to question anything. I was exhausted and just wanted proof that I wasn’t the last human alive.
I reached the town and knocked on the door of a house. They let me in without question, and I sat in their living room as they went to the kitchen for some coffee to warm me. As I waited, I stared out the glass windows that made up the back wall. There was a small sort of river right behind the house that led out to the sea, with acres of woods on the other side of it. On our side of it were a couple of acres of grass. Most of it was flat land, but there was a steep slope leading up to our house and I couldn’t help but wonder why.
Then I saw it. A horde of animals coming in from the right, walking across the land alongside the river in a pack of more than a hundred animals. But the size of the pack wasn’t the most surprising part. It was the animals themselves.
At the very front of the pack, a tiger and a sheep walked side-by-side. Following them were a mixture of bears, rabbits, dogs, wolves, zebras, buffalos, lions, and I could even make out an elephant in the throng. They didn’t look at me, just continued to move in one large pack.
Just then, the owner of the house I’d found myself in came back with my cup of coffee. I asked her about the pack, and she told me they walked by at least once a week, usually more. They’re spirit animals, she said. They tell people their destinies.
I asked her what she meant, and she laughed like I was an ignorant child. She explained that everyone is given a riddle of sorts early on in their life that describes an important moment that will lead them to their destiny. It’s supposed to help you follow the correct path to become who you’re meant to be or get to where you’re meant to go. She said this all like it was quite obvious.
I looked back out the window and a flash of light filled my vision. It only lasted a second, but as soon as it cleared, I saw a bear standing in the middle of the river. It was waist-deep in the water, standing on its hind-legs. And it was staring right at me.
I dropped the coffee and lept to my feet. The lady gasped and pressed herself to the side of the room, muttering something I couldn’t make out, but I didn’t stick around to find out. I turned and bolted out of the house.
The bear was on my tail in a heartbeat, chasing me through the streets of the small town. We raced through the town marketplace, and the town’s people must have been used to this because they knew exactly how to get out of the way as to not get trampled. I knocked over a booth in the bear’s path in an attempt to slow it down, but it seemed nothing could hinder it.
Finally, I reached the town center, which just so happened to be a very large government-type building. A short set of stairs led up to a small walkway along the second floor, where all the doors were. I took the steps two at a time until I reached the walkway, then crouched and peered through the bars lining it.
Another flash filled my vision, and there was the bear at the bottom of the steps, staring up at me with predator eyes. I returned the stare, and a million voices filled my head with strange whispers. They were hard to understand, but I made out something about six days and seven lessons, a girl with white curls, a hidden power, and a city far away.
Then the voices were gone, and the bear and I were staring at each other once again. The bear roared, and something in my mind clicked. My skin prickled and I roared right back. The bear closed its mouth and watched me for a moment. I knew I looked exactly like it. The hidden power was an ability I hadn’t known I had to shapeshift.
We stared at each other a few moments more. Then it turned and lumbered away.
The rest came in flashes. A large room decorated in the Victorian style, with an oak desk filled with secrets that I can’t remember. Another flash, and the bear appearing in the same room in front of a row of glass windows. A conversation with a lion in the middle of the river. Running into a girl with white curls at a university, begging her to help me, and only convincing her when I bring up the bear and she remembers her own destiny. Racing through trees as a wolf. Another town far away, a battle in a cavern, and cleaning up the aftermath.
And I remember throwing some sort of pendant into the river, then leaving the small town for good.
Picture source: Bears in the Woods Products