"The Bear is Swelling"
For her fifth birthday on the 23rd of June, Susie was given a teddy bear by her mother and father. She named the bear Mr. Hugs. Susie developed a habit of falling asleep with the bear wrapped in her arms. The bear became a source of comfort to the child.
Frequently the bear, "Mr. Hugs," would be left at random throughout the house as the family members went about their daily business. The bear gazed upon their activities with dull, lifeless, thoughtless eyes.
Yet, somehow, as the days passed, something began to change. For reasons unknown, and though it is unclear upon which exact date, the beginnings of sensory impressions formed, eventually leading to the existence of some primitive form of consciousness. The bear, though lacking any ability to interpret what he saw, was able to watch the family, hear them, smell them, and feel them for the first time. From approximately July 1st to July 15th, the bear existed within a state of pure experience and observation, not unlike a human infant trapped within an inanimate form.
Some short time later, the bear began to form memories of what he saw, and after that, gradually, began to learn from and develop opinions about his memories, observations and experiences. Sometime near the end of July, for the first time the bear began to desire experimentation and as a first act of will, the bear moved on his own. First one paw, then the other. Under cover of night, the bear taught himself to walk. This took only a brief period of three days.
As August wore on, the bear began to explore the house on his own every night, just after Susie fell asleep. At first he only explored Susie's room. He tried on her dresses and discovered that, somehow, he would swell in size in order to perfectly fit her garments. After Susie's room lost the sense of novelty it first had for him, the bear began exploring other rooms. In Susie's older brother's room, the bear found a different style of clothing to wear, and his size ballooned to match that of the teenager. In Susie's parents room, the bear took on the size and attire of first a full grown woman and then a full grown man. The bear liked the flow of Susie's mother's dresses, and of having breasts, but he preferred the larger, masculine frame he gained from wearing Susie's father's suits.
The bear, in time, learned to enjoy television (with the volume down low enough so as not to wake the family) and to prepare food as he saw the family do during the daytime. Having no mouth, the bear could not eat the food, so he usually wrapped it in tinfoil (mimicking the practice of Susie's mother) and hid it in the back of the refrigerator. The family members would assume these leftovers to be the work of each other and no one ever questioned anyone else about where they had come from. Most of them went untouched and spoiled. A few of them, peanut butter and jelly, were left on Susie's night stand. She ate them for breakfast. They were her favorites. No questions were asked; she assumed them to have been put there by her mother.
By mid-August the bear had thoroughly explored the house and desired more. On August 18th, the bear stole a suit from Susie's father and quietly left the house, undetected. Standing with Susie's father's imposing frame, the bear quickly and quietly traveled down various side streets and alleys before finding the city's downtown area. On a massive main street the bear discovered countless casinos, restaurants and clubs. Curious, he entered one named "Luscious."
Inside the bear was exposed to the gyrations of many strippers, dancing upon poles. One of the strippers proceeded to give him a lap dance. She commented upon what she thought was the "interesting costume" he was "wearing," unaware that it indeed constituted his entire physical body. When the dance was finished and he did not pay, she became irate, criticized him for what she understood to be his sexual fetish for anthropomorphic animal costumes, and requested a bouncer to throw him out. The bouncer was unsettled by how light the bear was, as well as his lack of speech or screams as he was tossed roughly out the door. Several passersby snapped pictures.
Confused, quizzical and vaguely frightened, the bear returned home, replaced Susie's father's suit, and, shrinking down to his original size, returned to his original position on Susie's bed.
The following night he repeated his actions. This time, he was approached by a woman who revealed herself to be a prostitute. She took the overwhelmed and confused bear to a hotel room with whom she had a previous arrangement and attempted to pleasure him sexually. She unzipped his pants and realized that she did not know how to access his genitals through what she, too, perceived to be a "costume." Frustrated, she tore open the fabric of his crotch. When nothing but fluff was revealed inside, she screamed and fled the building. The bear escaped to his home once more.
The following morning, Susie found the damage to her bear. Crying, she brought it to her mother, who repaired it. Her mother held his arms and caused him to appear as if he was dancing around happily. This made Susie laugh.
Yet again the bear repeated his actions, this time finding a different prostitute. However, on this occasion, he brought with him a pocketknife he found in the pocket of Susie's father's trousers. As this prostitute began to unbutton his pants, the bear motioned for her to sit back. When she did so, he grabbed the pocketknife and flicked it open with incredible swiftness and proceeded to slice into the woman's leg.
Unable to feel pain, the bear was simply mimicking what he had experienced the night before, as a way of experimenting. To him, it was a simple test of actions and reactions. His expectations were confused when the woman, bleeding profusely and with a limp, ran quickly from the room. The woman who cut him had run away first the last time; why, he wondered, was he not the one to run away first this time? At any rate, he once again returned home.
On the 21st of August, the bear returned to the main street, but several men were waiting to apprehend him. His antics had become the subject of fear and paranoia in the area and he was suspected of being a potential serial killer. The bear was grabbed by one man and a part of his arm was ripped off. The man screamed and retreated when he realized that no human arm was revealed inside the would-be bear costume. Before any further experimentation could be achieved, the bear, frightened, returned home.
The night of the 22nd of August the bear did not wear any clothes nor leave the house. During the day Susie had again been upset by the damage to the bear, and her mother chided her for damaging it. Nonetheless, Susie's mother repaired the arm in quick order.
As the night passed the bear considered many things. It briefly stole away to the family book shelf where it attempted to read "The World As Will and Representation" by Arthur Schopenhauer, but could not do so. Unable to learn anything further, it considered revealing itself to the family, as it felt a sense of trust for them. It spent the day unmoving as it weighed the options.
One the night of August 24th little Susie awoke as she was shaken awake by a foreign hand. She opened her eyes to see not her father, but a figure her father's size and wearing his business suit. The figure was her bear.
Susie became horrified and ran to her parents. At first they did not believe her claims, but soon the bear followed them into their bedroom. Susie's father grabbed a golf club and beat the bear to the ground. The blows hit the soft flesh of the bear's fabric-and-fluff body, confusing Susie's father. On the floor, the bear was motionless. Suddenly, the body began to heave, expanding and shrinking to an extreme degree, and the spine of the bear pierced the suit and the fabric-skin, and the back of the bear's body ripped open.
From out of the body came a flood of fluffy stuffing and red, human blood. Out of this emerged a naked, middle-aged man with a balding head of blond hair and a blond mustache. The man stood, uneasily, and looked at the family, with an uncomprehending expression. He continued to heave, as if he had difficulty breathing. The family looked on, silent and terrified. Susie cried.
Just as suddenly as the man had come into existence, he collapsed onto the floor and shrank into a shriveled fetus.
The family buried the body that night and no one spoke of it again. No questions were ever asked; authorities never traced the incidents in the city to the home of Susie's family. Susie later became a successful optometrist. She married once but following the news that she was unable to have children, her husband requested a divorce. In the spot where the fetus and the remains of the bear were buried, a small tulip grew and existed for many years (despite the climate not being conducive to such a flower) until the lot was used to build a strip mall.