The Prisoner's Revenge
In a room with no windows sat a bear, forlorn and hunched, for he had been a prisoner a very long time. When the door’s latch lifted, as it did once a day, he raised his head slightly, as he always did, and when a bowl of thin soup was pushed into the room, he waited until the steps faded, as he always did. Then, he ambled, more slowly each day and with less hulking mass, and sipped slowly from the lip of the bowl.
It had been a long time since the soup had ceased to taste repulsive. In fact, it had ceased to have any taste at all. And it was not the only thing that had ceased. Long had quelled the rage within, the vengeance designed to torment his captors if he had his chance at freedom. His spirits had sunk from fury to fallow, as his strength melted from around his very bones.
And so he was found one day, a sunken mess of fur, head bent in the resigned sorrow his circumstance allowed. But perhaps not exactly found, as it were. For if it were so, the question would then be: by whom? For the door to his cell simply opened one day, and if there was anyone to blame or thank, they could not be seen.
Shocked beyond belief at the door standing open, it was many moments before the bear could do anything but stare at the expanse beyond—a dark corridor that had to lead out. The bear was suddenly reluctant in his prison, now that freedom had been offered him. And a sudden fear threatened to quell all impetus toward escape, for the bear did not know what lay in the corridor beyond.
But time and hunger moved him. Slowly he shifted and moved away from the cell.
At the end of the corridor stood another door, one that struck the bear as a friendlier door than the one he had stared at for so long. The bear stared at it a long while, too, before turning the handle, and when he did, sunlight touched his eyes for the first time in what seemed eons. His paw reached up to its warm glow, as though it could feel the beams. Grass and flowers and the edge of a wood stood before him, a sight of such eager longing, it was awhile before he believed it could be any more than a dream.
With sudden strength that came from he knew not where, the bear moved into the trees, breathing the smell of pine and leaves and good clean dirt.
It wasn’t long before he found a tree, deliciously laden with a hive of honey-making bees. He feasted on part of a honey comb he had broken off gently as he ambled through the forest, and came upon a river filled with spawning salmon leaping from the crystal clear water as they made their way upstream. Vigor from the honey filled his body and he remembered what it was to hunt, and taste the fruits of his labor.
And when his strength had all but waned in the day’s working fullness, he found a log to sit on and rest awhile. But he found that he was no longer alone. For sitting on the log beside him sat an ant, and the bear, filled with wonder at the curious strangeness of his day, felt a desire to share his story.
‘Now that you will soon have your strength back, mighty bear’ said the ant after the bear had finished his tale, ‘surely you will now have your revenge and make your captors pay for the wrongs they have done you.’
The bear sat, and thought upon the ant’s expectation, and an anger welled up within his breast. He suddenly longed, with the fervor that rivaled that of when he was first imprisoned, to tear his captors and their roof apart with his claws. To rip and shred until nothing was left of them.
But then he thought of the wonder of his day, of the meadow, and sticky honey, and fatty salmon. And the feel of the sun on his snout.
‘Nah,’ he said to the ant, ‘I’m good.’ And truly, he was.