September 27

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Winning Stories 9/26 ─ Part 3

Cryptospace
#3473

Pauline, Shadow out of time by @VikkiBardot

“Am I dead” she wondered, while walking through the Blood Woods underneath a silk sky. It has been a quiet, cloudless day. Restless from the never-ending hunting days, Pauline just found the time to reflect upon. Away from the predator crowd, she found a calming river to lie down nearby. She has been doing rituals in a trance-like state for days.

“Am I in a limbo” she wondered, while the baby blue sky gets eaten by a thickening rosebud mist. She gazed upon the woods silent pathways like she saw them for the first time. The crowd was mostly resting in the branches. Tiny crunching sounds and the wuthering wind gets echoed in a dreamlike state. The place felt so different. Words and meanings melted. All the uncertainty started to turn into a warm feeling of safety. A belongingness without a reason.

“What is that arrow in my head” she wondered. Remembered the days of her childhood. Her wounds from the conditional love of her childhood sweetly soured as the river flowed like mercury. She remembered her pain. She remembered her heart like a broken toy. All of her life she wanted to be loved and accepted unconditionally. Fragments of her childhood sprawled like a magic scent into the lush atmosphere.

“The passage of time is different here” she wondered. At that moment she realized, this was not another place nor a purgatory. She realized she is becoming stronger and embracing the uncertainty. Following the footsteps of her ancestors, she belongs to a community here, where she is accepted unconditionally. And this felt like a strange cocktail through her veins. The metamorphosis of growing up she realized. She suffered a lot yet she has never given up loving and caring for the community. It was the belonging of this community, that moved the arrow from her heart to her mind. Now she feels that she can free her mind from lingering memories as well.

“What a funny thing is growing up” she wondered, while the fragrance of the air quietly soothed her soul. She has become a hunter princess. From the riverside, she looked at the woods with a feeling rushing to go back. Her shadow did not ache for the first time.

#2313

To cherish the lovable Po by @SmallPotatoNFT

Po grew up not knowing what her bearents looked like. She wasn’t necessarily abandoned, but her bearents are working too much to care for her. Her early memories were spent being taken care of by a stranger or cold birthdays and dinners. She would get calls from them asking how her grades are in Happyland Academy and receiving unthoughtful gifts – as sometimes they forget she is allergic to peanuts. One day, news was delivered that her bearents will come home. Po was both excited and nervous. She tried to clean the whole den and decorate it to please them.

Her expectations were different from reality. Her mother was strict and perfectionist while her father is a gambling man with a mistress. Though it was awkward, Po wanted to be close with them. How nice it would be for them to live together every day! While setting up the dinner table, Po accidentally broke the plates. Her mother rushed in, not to check on her wounds, but to reprimand how clumsy she is. Po received an earful but her mother only wanted her to be careful right? Po was nervous the whole evening that her hands would shake. She’s scared she might upset her mother. Her father seems the opposite of her mother. He wasn’t too strict nor does he care for her. The only time he sees her, is when he is given her medals from the academy.

Po thought this was just a minor setback. But her days continued on with her bearants yelling at each other, her mother would hit her for making a mistake and wouldn’t even let her voice out her opinions. One time, they left the den while she is having a high fever. Her mother said that she is a big girl that can take care of her own. Po would cry herself to sleep. Is this what having a family feels like? Was she not good enough? Is this the love that she deserved?

Her whole life she has only received hatred and neglect. She cannot even fathom that someone would cherish her. One day, her friend Tony came to visit. He often heard the situation in her house. He brought with him a homemade pie.

“What is this for?”

“Today is the day that you shouldn’t feel lonely anymore”

“But I don’t need it”

“I know you’re going through some difficulties and I wanted you to know that I will be here if you needed someone to talk to. Please keep in mind that you are someone that has the right to be loved, that you are such a lovable bear.”

It was the warmest pie she ever had.

#4003

Uriel, made of obsidian by @touchedbyfire_

How is Uriel alive? Who knows. Anyone would drop dead if he had been hit in the head by an arrow. Or if a wummy gurm took out his eyeball.

After many doctors tried to take out his arrow, they deemed it too dangerous. They offered his family two options: we take the arrow out and risk him dying in the operation room, or live with that and face his mind slowly drift away.

His family would’ve done the former, but he preferred the latter. He doesn’t think it’s something to be ashamed of, but to be happy about.

‘It means I’m made of obsidian’, he says.

Nowadays Uriel goes to gather berries like any other bear. Likes to party and have fun with his friends. Of course, when he sees a wummy gurm comes closer, his eyehole starts to hurt. ‘I guess gurms are like a diamond pickaxe to me’.

But it’s fine. At the end of the day, he’s made of obsidian. What doesn’t kill him just makes him stronger.

#3405

Nomar, the handless handyman by @Saloruiz

Nomar had the perfect life. A beautiful wife, three loving kids, a house left on by his parents, and a lot of things to feel grateful for. The thing he loved the most, though, was his work.

He loved to work. A TON. He was a handyman. ‘You need hands? Catch these’ was his slogan. There was no work he hadn’t done before. Build a bridge? Easy. Paint a house? Done by lunch. The only thing that he hadn’t done was build a helicopter.

‘It’s difficult, but if Orso Vinci did it, why can’t I?’ he said. What happened after that wasn’t just a tough lesson for him, but a decision that would leave him literally impaired.

One loose screw. He never leaves loose screws, but just as it was his first time building a heli, it was his first time leaving a loose screw. What happened next is self explanatory if you see him.

Once a handyman, now hand-less. Used to get a handful of jobs, now he’s shown the door.

Old lady depression came. His wife got nervous that she couldn’t help him. His kids were sad to see his dad in such an ironic situation.

One day, wifey decides to take everyone on a trip. Nomar didn’t want a trip, but he had no buts in the matter. When they were in the RV, she put all his favorite music. He just thanked, but didn’t do anything else. His kids would try to cheer him up and ask him to sleep with the pet gurm, but that didn’t do anything either.

He wanted to be handy once again. Not handless Nomar, but handy Nomar.

When they get to a bridge that goes to Happy Land, the same one he built, his wife says ‘being handy is not just about doing things with your hands. Look at this that you built. It’s not just wood, hammer and nails, it takes guts, wit, and a heck of a lot of intelligence.’

‘That’s right, dad. You are the most intelligent person I know. You made a mistake, everyone does. You got the short end of the stick. But what are you gonna do about it? What are WE going to do?’

That’s when it all clicked for him. He doesn’t need to do the handywork. His strongest tool weren’t his hands, but his mind.

‘I know what we’re going to do, everyone.’

That’s the story of the Nomar & Family Handy Co.

#9352

Shane, the unsolvable puzzle by @HumbertoJMR

Being young can be one of the most difficult times in a bear’s life. You either feel like you belong and live happily in your bubble, or struggle to relate to anyone and become a ‘loner’. Shane, oddly enough, is somewhere in between.

He was known for being the mysterious guy everyone wanted to be around. ‘The uncrackable puzzle’. People liked him like that. Him, on the other hand, didn’t feel anything with those nicknames. Bears of all genders fell for him, but he didn’t particularly care about anyone other than his folks (really jolly people).

All of that change one day when he was taking a stroll in the woods. He liked the silence of being outdoors, and that there’s no one else to bother him. While walking and feeling the wood with his paws, he reaches a grotto with a bear hunter hidden in the outskirts. Shane comes closer and asks what he’s doing. ‘Shh!’, the Hunter says. ‘I’m getting tonight’s dinner’.

After some minutes of waiting, they hear leaves moving. Something’s coming. ‘What is it?’, Weirdly invested in the situation, Shane asks. ‘Shh! It’s coming’, the hunter replies. A blue wummy gurm comes into the grotto and gets closer to the trap.

‘This is actually pretty interesting’, Shane thinks.

Behind the wummy gurm, though, was a bear trying to catch up to it. They looked as if they were playing. Shane saw her happy smile, and for the first time in his life thought that he would feel sad if he saw somebody else sad.

As if somebody else had taken control of his body, he jumps out of the woods and in the last second before the gurm gets in the trap, he pushes it away, taking it all himself!

‘Oh bear damnit, that hurts!’

The girl is stunned. Who is this guy jumping out of the woods? Is he crazy!? ‘Come here, Wryck’, she yells, calling the wummy gurm.

‘I’m sorry for scaring you, but I didn’t want to see the gurm or you getting hurt’.

‘HEY KID, THAT WAS MY MEAL. WHAT ARE YOU DOING?’, the hunter jumps and tries to fight Shane. When he was about to swing his punch, the girl gets in front. ‘Guess I’ll just find another place to hunt…’

The bear picks up Shane from the ground and says, ‘Thank you for saving Wryck, I’m Breanna’.

It’s the first time Shane has been this nervous. Her smile lighted up the place.
‘H-hi Breanna, I’m Shane’.

Shane had finally met the one to solve the unsolvable puzzle.

#1669

Rodney, Looking For Newer Pastures by @touchedbyfire_

Have you ever felt like a cub, even if you’re a fully-fledged bear? That’s how Rodney has felt his entire life.

He feels different from people. It’s not that he doesn’t like them, he just doesn’t feel like he fits. After many years of trying and failing, Rodney decides to leave his home in Mary Jane den to Happy Land. Maybe he can find people who are like him. Couldn’t be more wrong.

Turns out Happy Land is not as happy as you think. People can be rude as well. Moving in with his sister hasn’t gone so smooth, but he needs some time to stabilize.

Leaving home is a radical decision he made on his own. He sort of knew the struggles that would be ahead of him when he made the choice, but didn’t think it would take him so long to solve them.

Rodney has always felt behind. Smaller than others. Like he should be more ahead in life. These months in Happy Land just confirmed those ideas he had.

Once he got an insurance plan, he went to a therapist. There were so many patterns that were repeating, but after many tries, he couldn’t solve them on his own.

When he enters the consulting room, he meets the therapist. They sit down, have a cup of coffee, and make initial introductions. Once that’s done, the therapist asks: ‘So, Rodney, why are you here?’. His mind goes blank. ‘Why was I here again?’ He thinks. Should’ve had a list of all his issues, but one of his issues is leaving things in his mind.

Without a gasp of air, Rodney says: ‘I came here because I’m too forgetful, I make sloppy mistakes way too many times, I left home to try to find my people, but I feel even more of an alien here in Happy Land, I tend to drift away from conversations and issues, my work stresses me out but that stress numbs me, I’ve always wanted a couple but when I finally got one I screwed it up’.

He says a ton more of reasons to be there. The therapist listens. He just sits, and tries to listen. When Rodney goes too fast, he asks him to slow down.

‘We can work it out, Rodney. There’s not an issue with you in particular, but it’s how you perceive and how you feel them that’s affecting you’, the therapists says.

‘Really, you think so?’

‘Yes, I do. From what I’m seeing here, you’re a perfectly normal 23 year old bear. Things take time, but anxiety tells us they have to be NOW or you will never get it. It’s okay being where you are. Let’s try to find out what’s good about you and what you REALLY want to change’.

As meetings went on, Rodney began to know himself. Congratulate himself on what he did right, and not be so hard on his mistakes. ‘You have to be your first fan, and your first critic’, the therapist told him once.

Nowadays, he moved to another town. This time not to find his people or try to get away from his past, but to realize his goal of being independent. So far, this new journey has become his greatest achievement. He doesn’t know where this path leads him, but he’ll for sure enjoy the ride ahead.

#8296

Prof. Golden Buttoneyes’ Missing Element by @tokenpingu

Prof. Golden Buttoneyes can seriously use some advice. Like right now. He is even willing to pay for it but he couldn’t figure out the right way to ask, or the right bear to seek the advice from. You see, the gold den is so full of scholars and know-it-alls that all the Happyland expect them to have it all figured out. But not this time, not for Golden today.

It started off like any other day. Golden woke up, got dressed, put on his spotless bowtie, drove to his office at the University of Golden. He had two classes to teach that day, one in metaphysics and one in biochemistry. A renowned expert in both fields in Happyland, his lectures are often jam packed but few that are lucky enough to get a spot hardly ever grasp what he talks about. After work, Golden went to his favourite cafe (he’s not a fan of alcohol) in town to get his daily dose of caffeine and read. He did not expect his life was about to change.

At twelve to six, Golden looked up from his book when he heard the cafe’s doorbell rang. A young Coffee female bear slid in with an easy grace in her steps. Golden wasn’t staring–he never stares at anything except a book or a research journal–but he immediately sensed that there is something different in the air…No, it’s not the air, it’s the graceful Coffee stepping towards him.

“Aren’t you Prof. Golden?”

“Indeed.” Golden managed. He has been approached by students, reporters and countless others but never by an attractive young female Coffee–of all Dens.

“My name is Jane. I have read all your books and sat in your lectures several times. It’s getting harder to get into those but I just wanted to say I am really fascinated by your deep knowledge and forward thinking…”

“Are you a student of the University?” Golden snapped. He couldn’t help but notice the young Coffee, no–Jane–has the most pleasing voice he has heard ever.

“Yes…to an extent…I am a visiting teaching fellow from the University of Coffee Hills. My contract is soon due and I will be leaving soon for Coffee Hills…I heard you like it here so I thought I would just come by and say hi…you know…before I…!” Jane blushed.

“Hmm…thanks for dropping by… Can I help you with anything?”

“Not really…I just wanted to talk to you.” Are those tears Golden spots at the corner of her eyes?

“Farewell, Prof. Golden. It’s been…a…my pleasure to be teaching with you at the same university!”

With that, she turned and quickly walked away…gone before Golden came to his senses.

After that, Golden thought about the encounter with Jane every day when he goes to the cafe. He thinks about it in the bath. Prof Golden understands all the elements of this world by heart but he knows he is missing the most important one right now.

He decides to go look for it.

In Coffee Hills.


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