Barry heard a cracking sound. Something heavy snapped a branch on his right. He froze. The park ranger had warned him of grumpy bears just waking from hibernation.
What had the man said? Was he supposed to freeze or run? Why had he spent so much time focused on updating his Twitter feed instead of listening to the orientation the ranger had given to all the hikers?
That dinosaur movie had said to freeze but that was for a Tyrannosaur. Maybe it applied to big carnivorous mammals too.
Barry decided to hope that bears were like dinosaurs and went rigid. Another crack – was that closer – came from the right. He turned his head, inch by terrified inch to see what was there. He was going to feel realy stupid if there was a deer or another hiker walking past him.
Trees, leaves, nothing was moving. Barry felt his stomach unclench, he was overreacting. Something large and brown moved – dear God it was a bear.
Barry’s eyes bugged as the brown furred bulk shifted once more. Another crack reached his hears and he realized that there were two more furry shapes just beyond the brown one. The additional bears were white. Wait, weren’t polar bears the only white bears? How the heck could a pair of polar bears get here? Maybe the bears escaped from the zoo or a circus.
The bears had their backs to Barry and appeared to be moving away from him. Barely breathing, he lifted his foot and inched further along the trail. If they didn’t notice him, he might escape.
Barry’s second step snapped a twig – oh God.
The bears froze and then stood up. The furry creatures rose until they stood upright. Bears didn’t stand like that. Barry’s eyes tracked upward. The barrel broad torso rose straight upward from the legs. The creature’s shoulders must have been eight feet off the ground. The furred, clawed arms hung loosely at the beast’s side. It’s head – dear Lord it’s head – the head, was nothing like a bear’s head. It wasn’t like any head Barry had ever seen. A tall pillar of fur rose from the monster’s shoulders another four feet making the monster twelve feet in height. Barry could not see any features; neither eyes nor nose, not even a mouth.
“That’s not a bear,” Barry said and then gasped at his stupidity for speaking.
The brown creature walked toward Barry. It didn’t move like a bear, it moved like a man with a smooth gait. Barry began to wonder if he had stumbed on a trio of guys who liked to wear furry outfits.
The brown creature stopped right in front of Barry. He could smell a sour musk coming from the creature. Barry stared at the monster, he assumed it was somehow staring at him. The creature’s head shuddered and Barry saw a line split it from top to bottom. The line widened and the sides of the monster’s head spread wide to reveal row after row of triangular teeth from top to bottom – at least Barry now knew where it’s mouth was.
Barry needed to run but his legs were rubber. The brown monster leaned over. Barry watched the hundreds of teeth as the enormous maw surrounded him. The last thing Barry saw was the monster’s quivering tongue as the jaws snapped shut on his head.