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A "Fairy Tale"

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  • A "Fairy Tale"

    Bearland

    by "Kinsley Castle"

    Chapter One

    Once upon a time, in a neverland that never existed, there was a place called Bearland. Bearland is the place where all the unowned teddy bears eventually go, after many an adventure and diversion. There was Willie Bear, Blurry Bear, Brainy Bear, Sammy Bear, Brushy Bear, and Rumpty Tumpty, amongst others. All the teddy bears in Bearland lived for games and jolly jests. They took them very seriously indeed, so every three weeks they voted to see who would be the new Master of Games.

    Willie Bear had been the Master of Games for quite some time now. He invented a game called "What's this in your mouth?" which was kind of gross, but funny at the same time. Some of the fussier bears, however, didn't like Willie Bear one little bit. They chastised him loudly for his disgusting game whenever anyone would listen. But Willie was a jolly sort of teddy bear and generally well-liked, so nothing ever came of it.

    The bear who chastised loudest of all was Rumpty Tumpty. He was a rather tatty old teddy bear with only one eye, and since he didn't feel very happy or look it, he wasn't a jolly teddy bear in the least. Rumpty Tumpty and Brushy Bear were best friends. They suited each other. Brushy Bear wasn't too smart, but he came from a respectable toybox. Rumpty Tumpty wasn't that respectable, but he possessed a sort of mad low cunning that, in a certain light, resembled genius, if you didn't look too closely, and didn't mind the peculiar smell. Together they made a formidable team.

    On the day before the election, Rumpty Tumpty took Brushy Bear aside and he said, "I don't think I can stand another three weeks of Willie Bear and his cronies. I don't like him. I don't like him at all. I can't even stand him for one single more day!"

    Brushy Bear scratched his big empty head, and said, "Well gee Rumpty. Folks like Willie an awful lot. What can we do?"

    Rumpty Tumpty paced up and down for a bit. "I've got it! Brushy Bear, tomorrow you'll stand for election."

    Brushy Bear looked scared. "I don't know Rumpty. A bear's got to be mighty smart if'n he wants to be the Master of Games. I ain't much for thinking, you know that."

    "Ah, but Brushy, I'll be there behind you, and I'm very clever indeed. All you've got to do is say I'm your advisor. And when you're the Master of Games you can have a brand new tinkly bell. What do you say?"

    Brushy Bear considered this a moment. "Would this be a shiny new bell?"

    "Brushy, my friend, when you're the Master of Games you can have all the shiny things you want. Piles of them if you like."

    Brushy Bear's eyes lit up. "Gee, piles of shiny things. I guess I'll do it."

    The day of the election came around and all the bears gathered on the common. But Willie Bear was nowhere to be seen. This worried the teddy bears of Bearland a great deal, because if they could have, they would have voted for him again. (In truth, he had stayed away, because he'd grown tired of how the fussy bears fussed and spoiled his games and merry jests.) One of Willie's friends had to stand in his place, just so as not to let the side down. But when Brushy Bear came to the common and put his name forward, all the bears were astonished.

    "How frightfully interesting," said Blurry Bear.

    "A conundrum, to be sure," said Brainy Bear.

    Brushy Bear was standing on the rostrum, with Rumpty Tumpty at his side. So Brainy Bear went over for a word, and the other teddy bears gathered around to hear what Brushy had to say for himself.

    "Master of Games," said Brainy Bear, "is a very responsible position. Are you sure you've got enough stuffing in your head to do the job?"

    "Ooh," said Brushy Bear. "That's an easy one! T'ain't no stuffing in my head at all. It's hollow and there's a tinkly bell inside." By way of demonstration he shook his head vigorously, which did indeed tinkle.

    Rumpty Tumpty grabbed Brushy Bear by the arm and whispered urgently in his ear. Then he turned and grimaced at the crowd. "I assure you, Brushy Bear is perfectly qualified for the job. He will have the best advice from experienced advisors." He stood on the tips of his paws when he said it, and spread his arms ever so slightly.

    Brainy Bear gave Rumpty Tumpty a long, appraising look. "Perhaps," he said.

    On another day the result would have been a clear loss for Brushy Bear. But that day, demoralised by Willie's departure, Willie's friends didn't make a good show of it. In the afternoon, after the ballot boxes were all gathered up, the counting began. And all across the common, the Bears gathered to watch and to see who would become their new Master of Games. The first box went to Brushy Bear, but the next went to the friends of Willie. And so it went all the long afternoon. By afternoon tea, Brushy Bear and the friends of Willie were locked in a dead heat with only one ballot box left to count. And though the tea and scones were rolled out on the tea trolley, not a single teddy bear stopped for a bite or sup.

    The electoral bear unlocked the last ballot box and he started to count the votes out loud, one by one, so everyone could hear. At first, Brushy Bear took the lead, but then the friends of Willie started to catch up again.

    Rumpty Tumpty, who sat on the edge of the rostrum beside Brushy Bear became so agitated that the stuffing began to bulge from his tatty ears. "We cannot lose," he said. "We must not lose. We will not lose!"

    He jumped to his paws and began pacing up and down before the ballot box. The electoral bear gave him a disapproving look, but kept counting the votes one by one. Then, at the very moment the electoral bear picked up the vote that would have drawn the friends of Willie even with Brushy Bear, Rumpty Tumpty seemed to trip. I say he seemed to trip, because it looked plainly faked to everyone close by. Even Brushy Bear frowned at it (although he might just have been trying to stare at the end of his nose again). Rumpty Tumpty tripped, and he went barrelling into the ballot box. The ballot box tipped over. All the votes came spilling out, and a gust of wind took them and sent them flying away across the common, lost forever.

    "Oh dear," said the electoral bear.

    "Oops, sorry," said Rumpty Tumpty.

    The electoral bear fixed Rumpty Tumpty with a very stern gaze. "Do you know what this means? The election is spoiled. We will have to hold it all over again."

    "No no no!" Rumpty Tumpty shouted. "No second elections. We need closure, that's what we need! Brushy Bear was ahead by one vote when the counting stopped. So there's your result. Brushy Bear by one vote!"

    Someone near the front of the crowd said, "What does closure mean?" Brainy Bear replied, "I don't know. I thought a free, fair, and democratic election was what we needed, rather than closure."

    But further debate was impossible. Rumpty Tumpty was chanting Brushy Bear's name. A few of the bears at the back of the crowd, who didn't see what had happened, figured that Brushy Bear must have won the ballot in the usual way, and they started to take up the chant as well. And after that, all the bears on the common got caught up in the heat of the moment.

    Brushy Bear went and tapped on Rumpty Tumpty's shoulder. "Duh, we ain't going to get into trouble about this, are we?"

    Rumpty smiled maniacally. "Of course not Master Brushy. Congratulations on your triumphant and indisputable victory."

    After sunset, when the word had got around, a few concerned teddy bears gathered on the common. The friends of Willie talked of disputing the election result, but the gathered crowd weren't enthusiastic. It was deplorable, yes, but what did it really matter? How much damage could one, rather unintelligent teddy bear do in a mere three weeks? It was better, they decided, to rectify the situation at the next election.

  • #2
    Chapter Two

    Early the next morning Brushy Bear came to Rumpty Tumpty's cave with a worried look on his unintelligent face. "Gee, I'm frightened Rumpty," he said. "I don't got no stuffing in my head, but I know for sure I ain't no good at making up games, and I know you ain't."

    Rumpty Tumpty patted him on the back. "Don't worry Master Brushy. Didn't I tell you I was smart? You can trust me, can't you? I've been thinking about this good and long. Now. Do you know about the other teddy bears over the hedge?"

    Brushy Bear's eyes grew wide. "Oh gosh. Not the other teddy bears over the hedge! My pappy told me they was evil."

    Rumpty Tumpty nodded. "Yes, that's about right. They're all bone lazy and feeble minded, but of course, fiendishly industrious and dangerously cunning at the same time. That's what you'd call inscrutable. But you know the worst of it? The worst of it is, Brushy, they've got games and jolly japes over there that the good, god fearing teddy bears on our side don't have. Imagine that!"

    "Gosh," said Brushy Bear. "How dare they steal ideas that ought to have come to us."

    "That's the spirit. And what are we going to do about it Brushy?"

    Brushy Bear started swinging his paws around. "Well, we're going to go right on in there and bring them back we're they belong."

    "Steady on, tiger. We can't just go marching in, bold as brass. And why is that?"

    Brushy Bear stood for a long moment with a blank look on his face, and he counted things off on his paws, just as though he was doing sums. "Because," he said, "They're industrious and cunning?"

    "While...?"

    "While being lazy and feebledy minded at the same time. Golly gosh Rumpty, that's awful sneaky of them." But then, something else occurred to him, and his face grew concerned again. "Say Rumpty, I'm not feebledy minded am I?"

    "Of course not. You're the Master of Games."

    "Yes," said Brushy Bear, and the stuffing in his chest swelled with pride. "Gosh yes, I am. I'm the Master of Games Rumpty."

    "Congratulations," said Rumpty Tumpty. "Now try to stay focussed, will you? How can we get our rightful ideas away from the teddy bears over the hedge? We watch them, of course. We sneak up on them, and we watch them playing their games, and they won't even know about it."

    "Gee, I don't know. That sounds like spying. My pappy always told me spying was bad, and I shouldn't be a busy body. Yep. I remember he said it, I do. It was the day I found him playing trampoline on the bed with Miss Cindy. Leastaways, that's what he said they was doing."

    "Not spying Master Brushy, intelligence gathering."

    "Oh, all right. I guess that's okay then."

    "Good," said Rumpty Tumpty. "Now I'm going off to the big toy box, and see what I can find to help us. The best thing is, we don't even have to admit we're stealing our games and jolly japes from the bears over the hedge. We can just disguise it as our very first game, and nobody will know the difference."

    "Okay," said Brushy Bear. "But hurry home now. I get awful scared and lonesome when you leave me on my own."

    In fact, Rumpty Tumpty was gone half the day. And when he returned, he was more tatty and dirty than ever. Clearly he had searched long and hard in the toy box for what he wanted. And when he showed up on the doorstep of Brushy Bear's white dollhouse, he held up a kite and a remote control video camera.

    "Here's a good game," said Rumpty Tumpty. "I'm going to call it - or rather you're going to call it - the Eye in the Sky Game."

    "Oh boy," said Brushy Bear. "Have you been over the hedge and found a good game already?"

    Rumpty Tumpty rolled his single remaining eye. "No, of course not. This is not a real game, we're just pretending it is. This kite and this camera are going to help us spy on the teddy bears over the hedge."

    Rumpty Tumpty fastened the camera to the bottom of the kite with a length of string. Then together, he and Brushy Bear took it out to the field by the hedge. The other teddy bears, curious to see what their new Master of Games was up to, soon fell into step behind them.

    "Hey y'all," said Brushy Bear. "We're going to play a new game called Pie in the Eye."

    Rumpty Tumpty elbowed him. "He means Eye in the Sky. It's got nothing to do with pies."

    The general mood of scepticism that seemed to pass around the gathered teddy bears suggested they liked Brushy Bear's idea better, but Rumpty Tumpty pressed on. "You see this kite? It's got a video camera on the bottom. We're going to fly this kite up and over the hedge, and we're going to look at all those bears over there to see what they're up to. Any volunteers?"

    The other bears shrugged and harumphed and looked around at each other. But eventually a reluctant volunteer stepped forward, and they embarked on an afternoon of kite flying. Unfortunately, the field by the hedge wasn't much given to breezes of any kind. Persuading the kite to fly at all required much fruitless running up and down, and soon the teddy bears were all hot and bothered. Someone suggested they should take the kite down by the seaside where there was always a good onshore wind, so they could spy on the fishes. But as far as Rumpty Tumpty knew, fish had no games of any sort to steal, so he would have none of it.

    Eventually a half-decent gust blew up and they got the kite off the ground. And Brushy Bear, hopping with excitement, took over on the strings and swung the kite out over the hedge.

    "That's it," said Rumpty Tumpty as he fiddled with the remote control, "The camera's cleared the hedge! I'm switching it on."

    The kite had flown for just over a minute when, all of a sudden, the wind died away, and it began to stall. Brushy Bear ran backwards to try and keep the kite in the air, but the extra weight of the camera made it too sluggish. It disappeared from view. Then a loud cheer came up from the other side of the hedge. It was clear that the teddy bears on the other side had captured it.

    Brushy Bear wasn't that smart, but he knew he was the Master of Games. He had to do something. So he marched over to the hedge and started calling out, "Hey, would y'all give us back our kite?"

    "No fear!" came the reply. "Do you think we're stupid or something? You were trying to spy on us and steal all our games. We won't give you back your kite."

    So Brushy Bear made a big long speech over the hedge, in his most solemn and serious voice. He said Bearland was the greatest nation of teddy bears in the whole of Neverearth. He said the Bearlanders were a peaceful and game loving nation, who had never committed a jape in anger. He said the teddy bears over the hedge were just being childish because they were jealous. The teddy bears over the hedge thought it hilarious to hear the kind of speech a five year old child would make coming from the mouth of a fully grown teddy bear. So they jeered and blew raspberries, and started to pelt rotten fruit over the hedge. Brushy Bear kept talking, but he only succeeded in making a bigger fool of himself.

    The teddy bears, feeling tired and demoralised, made their way off to their homes, with long looks on their furry faces. "Well that wasn't much fun," said one. "Yeah, our new Master of Games isn't very good," said another. And Rumpty Tumpty, overhearing them, boiled with anger -- not at Brushy Bear's humiliation, but at the other bears' disloyalty. Being Master of Games, he felt, should demand a bit of respect. He held his tongue, though. There was nothing he could do - for the moment.

    Comment


    • #3
      Chapter Three

      In a cottage right by the hedge, there lived a teddy called Sammy Bear. He was not, truth to tell, a very nice teddy bear at all. He had a taste for japes that were cruel and hurtful. While ever he played his tricks on the bears across the hedge, nobody had minded much. Indeed, they found him a most amusing fellow and encouraged him. But now he had sprung a few nasty surprises on the teddy bears of Bearland itself, they lost their enthusiasm for him. Sammy had watched the afternoon's debacle from the window of his little cottage, and thought what a lot of fools the Bearlanders were. And there and then, he began to plan the biggest and nastiest jape of all.

      In the dead of night he slunk from his cottage, and made his way to a certain tree house he knew. This was the greatest tree house in all of Bearland, and the teddy bears were all proud of it. It had stood for years as living proof that the Bearlander's were the greatest game players and jolly japesters of all. Sammy went to the tree house and climbed up onto its roof. And while a hundred bears slept inside, he set to work weakening supports and cutting suspension ropes.

      He worked on patiently, well into the night. And then finally, at midnight, the tree house gave way with a creak and a mighty crash. A cloud of dust and timber flew into the sky. Many teddy bears were ripped and torn, and there was much stuffing strewn throughout the wreckage. Sammy Bear slunk away into the night, a little awestruck at just how terrible his jape had been. He didn't even shout, "Ha! Fooled you!" as was the usual custom.

      Now, no teddy bear - and this is important to understand - no teddy bear anywhere in Neverearth thought that Sammy's jape was very jolly. Some few ignorant bears may have laughed out loud when they heard of it, but they stopped laughing when they learned how truly nasty the jape was. Even the bears on the other side of the hedge, who had laughed at Brushy Bear only the day before, felt nothing now but sympathy for the horrendous loss of stuffing. Had Brushy Bear understood that, he could have impressed the whole of Neverearth with the restraint and nobility of his response, and he could have become the greatest respected Master of Games in living memory. But Brushy was a teddy bear with a hollow head and a little tinkly bell inside. And Rumpty Tumpty wasn't half as clever as he thought he was.

      They gathered, the two of them, to inspect the wreckage the next morning. Brushy Bear looked at it with his snout hanging open. "Oh gosh," he said. "Oh golly gosh to goodness. Is that stuffing over there? They can sew all the teddy bears back together again, right Rumpty?"

      Rumpty Tumpty turned his back on the scene and refused to look Brushy Bear in his big, glass eyes. "I'm sure they'll do their best." He grabbed Brushy Bear by the arm and led him away from the disaster site. "Listen, we've got to talk about this. Tell me Master Brushy, what is it we've got back there?"

      Brushy Bear tried to look back over his shoulder, but Rumpty Tumpty kept him moving. "Well, it looks like a powerful big mess."

      "Wrong Brushy," Rumpty said. "What we've got back there is an opportunity."

      Brushy Bear frowned. "Gee, I don't know Rumpty. That sounds awful cold of you. Pappy wouldn't like you talking like that."

      "Just hear me out. All the Teddy Bears will look at that, and they won't be feeling very neighbourly towards Sammy Bear. And that's it. That's the answer to our troubles. All we got to do is catch Sammy Bear and play Tar and Feather with him, the oldest jape in the world. We'll be home free. What do you say Brushy? There'll be shiny bells all round, and there'll be..." He paused. "No. Better not say."

      Brushy Bear took the bait. "What Rumpty? What will there be? Go on Rumpty, you can tell me!"

      Rumpty held his hand up to his face and whispered. "There'll be baubles."

      Brushy's glass eyes almost popped out of his head. "Baubles!"

      "And tinsel. We could see our way clear to a bit of tinsel, I think."

      "Gee rumpty. You're the swellest friend a bear could have. Okay. What do we do?"

      This is what they did. Rumpty Tumpty wrote a speech. Then he took Brushy Bear through the speech, to make sure he could read all the difficult words. Once Brushy learned it and could say it almost right, they went down to the teddy bears who were gathering mournfully to look at the ruined tree house. And Brushy delivered the speech all by himself.

      That speech said a lot of things. It was full of noble words and high-minded sentiments. But in the main, it said this: "Sammy Bear knocked down our tree house. We're going to get that teddy, and we're going to tar and feather his behind, and no mistake."

      It seemed like it was all going very well indeed. The speech would have worked, if Brainy Bear hadn't been there, and if Brainy Bear hadn't decided to ask a question. "Isn't Sammy Bear one of ours? If I recall correctly, his cottage sits on our side of the hedge, does it not?"

      Brushy Bear laughed. "Gosh, there ain't never no mind about that! We snuck down to Sammy Bear's place this morning and moved the surveyor's pegs. And now Sammy's officially on the other side of the hedge."

      Rumpty Tumpty grabbed his arm again, and that's when Brushy Bear knew he had said something wrong.

      The next morning, Rumpty Tumpty went to the great toy box once more, and he came back with a crate of fireworks. "You know what fireworks are Master Brushy? They're explosives, that's what." They spent the rest of the morning tying all the fuses together, and nailing the crate shut so it would make a bigger bang.

      Then they hauled it all off down to Sammy Bear's cottage, with the help of some adventurous young teddies who wanted in on the action. When Rumpty Tumpty saw the looks on their faces, he was well pleased with himself. They were enthusiastic. They had the cruel glow of revenge upon their little faces. And all of them were more than a little scared. That's just how Rumpty Tumpty wanted them. While ever they were afraid, they might be persuaded to do anything at all.

      While Rumpty Tumpty and Brushy Bear stood well back out of harms way, the young teddy bears risked their stuffing by dragging the crate of fireworks down to Sammy Bear's cottage and lighting the fuse. The explosion was tremendous. It left Brushy Bear's ears ringing for the rest of the day, and it completely demolished Sammy's cottage. And all those not very nice teddy bears who had taken up with Sammy came running out of the ruins in a daze.

      "Okay," said Rumpty Tumpty. "You should shout 'fooled you'."

      Brushy Bear shook his head and set his bell to tinkling. "Me Rumpty? I should shout it? But it weren't nothing to do with me. It was your jape Rumpty, and all them other teddy bears what did it. I just stood away up on the hill here, safe like, and I didn't do nothing at all. Wouldn't I be bad if I shouted it? Wouldn't that be dishonourist?"

      "Brushy Bear, you're the Master of Games. It is literally impossible for you to do anything that's bad and wrong."

      Brushy Bear thought about this a for moment, which involved standing very still in one spot, screwing his eyes tightly shut, and making straining noises. "Gosh Rumpty, are we going to get into trouble for this?"

      Rumpty Tumpty would have taken to grinding his teeth, but he didn't have any. "You've got to take the credit Master Brushy, that's what it's all about. Just think about sea shells."

      "Sea shells Rumpty?"

      "That's right. You can polish them up real nice and shiny, and they've got all those pretty colours to them."

      Brushy Bear's eyes went out of focus. "Gosh... I mean, yeah okay, I'll holler 'fooled you' like you want me to."

      And so he did. The other younger bears, who had done all the dangerous work, looked askance at Brushy Bear. They looked like they wanted to say something, but in the end they didn't, and just wandered away muttering to themselves. So Brushy Bear took credit for the jape. And it did him not the least bit of good. It turned out that Sammy Bear wasn't even in the cottage when they pulled off their revenge jape. Sammy had gone off into hiding and nobody knew where he was. All the other teddy bears, far from being amused by the jape, thought it was very irresponsible and foolish. They criticised Brushy Bear and Rumpty Tumpty all the afternoon long.

      In the end, Brushy Bear just stood up and said, "Well I ain't feeling no sympathy for those bears in the cottage. Gosh, they was bad bears. They had it coming, and I gave it to them."

      That helped a bit. None of the other teddy bears would admit to feeling the least bit sorry for the ones in the cottage. But the conclusion was still the same. The jape with the fireworks hadn't worked. They hadn't got their revenge for the fallen tree house. And that was all the worse, because Rumpty Tumpty had been talking up the necessity for revenge instead of talking it down, as any sensible and responsible teddy bear would have done.

      Comment


      • #4
        Chapter Four

        "Well gosh Rumpty," said Brushy Bear, as they sat in the white doll house a day later, knocking back a few raspberry cordials. "What are we going to do now? Sammy Bear's gone hiding, and we ain't never going to find him, not if we search forever and ever. And the other bears, they're all going to point and laugh, because I can't even get no payback for what Sammy did."

        Rumpty Tumpty, who had made himself scarce after the fireworks debacle and hadn't received nearly the ear-bashing that Brushy Bear got, had been thinking. "Do you know what I reckon we ought to do? We ought to make them forget about Sammy Bear."

        "Gee Rumpty, I think you've had too much red cordial. That's just about the most impossible thing you ever said ever."

        Rumpty Tumpty shook his head. "Nope. You just don't think big enough. If we invent an enemy that looks bigger and badder, then everyone will forget about old Sammy Bear." He sat for a while, lost in thought, and then he said, "You know what Master Brushy? I think I've just invented a new game. Do you want to hear about it? It's called The Enemy at the Gates."

        Brushy Bear was never much good at picking up on things, but this time something made him pause. "Well, I don't know Rumpty. You sure say a lot of real clever stuff. But some stuff you say doesn't always work out very good. And that's the truth."

        Rumpty Tumpty said, "Glass beads."

        Brushy Bear clapped both paws over his snout and his glass eyes popped out so far he nearly broke a stitch.

        "Yes," Rumpty went on. "I can see a few glass beads coming our way, if this works out. Genuine glass too, not those plastic ones. There'd be red ones and blue ones. Probably not green, but white. Definitely white beads. Say Brushy, you're not thinking of pulling out on my now, are you?"

        "Gosh no. Wow! Let's go play The Enemy at the Gates Rumpty, let's go play."

        Now there was a teddy who lived over the pond, and his name was Blurry Bear. Even for a teddy bear, he was quite small and fragile, and he spoke with a funny little nervous voice. Blurry Bear wanted, more than anything else, to be a big and strong bear. He thought Brushy Bear and Rumpty Tumpty were both big and strong, and he admired them greatly. So when he heard about Rumpty Tumpty's new game, he was determined to play it with them, and play it to the utmost.

        When Brushy Bear announced that Sammy Bear had escaped over the hedge and had taken refuge with the bears on the other side, Blurry Bear said, "Oh rather. Why over the pond we've had word that this is exactly the case." Of course, Blurry Bear hadn't received any word of any kind, and didn't know any such thing. But he wanted so desperately to play the game, and he was sure, if Brushy Bear had said it, it must have been true. The next day, when Rumpty Tumpty came out and announced that the teddy bears across the hedge were stockpiling stones to throw at the Bearlanders, Blurry Bear said, "Indeed, just this moment I've received a letter that says exactly the same!" And indeed he had. It had taken some time to find someone who agreed to write it for him, but found someone he did, and the letter was tucked into his waistcoat, even as he spoke.

        And the effect Blurry Bear had was this. All the teddies had been increasingly sceptical of Brushy Bear and Rumpty Tumpty, thanks largely to Brainy Bear, who kept reminding them about certain matters that Brushy and Rumpty would prefer everyone forgot. But when Blurry Bear started to back up everything they said, the other teddy bears grew more thoughtful. Maybe, just maybe, there was something good about this game called The Enemy at the Gates. Some started to promote the game outright. Others remained sceptical, but spoke more softly.

        So when Brushy Bear came out and said they should stockpile their own stones "just in case" some of the teddies did exactly that. And when Brushy Bear said they should launch a pre-emptive jape, and throw stones at them before they throw stones at us, only Bear Bear and Froggy Bear refused to play. Brushy Bear tried to persuade them, and Rumpty Tumpty threatened them, but Bear Bear and Froggy Bear stood firm. They said a pre-emptive jape was wrong, and set all good teddy bears everywhere a very bad example. So Brushy Bear stamped his paw, and said, "Well gosh darn it, if y'all won't come and play a jape with us, then we'll do it ourselves." This argument bothered the other teddy bears in Bearland a little, but then they remembered the fallen tree house, and they hardened their hearts. The jape was on.

        The teddy bears split into two groups. The first group threw stones over the hedge, and the second group started to tunnel through it. They went at this all day, until eventually the tunnellers got through and spilled across the field on the other side. And the teddy bears over the hedge fell back stunned, helpless before the Bearlander's onslaught. A great cheer went up over Bearland then.

        Brushy Bear felt so proud he just about split his seams. He stood on the rostrum on the common and said, "Well, there y'all go. The jape worked a treat, yes sir it did. We struck a blow for all peaceful and game loving teddy bears in Neverearth."

        Everyone cheered again and patted Brushy Bear on the back, because when a jape is on, teddy bears all tend to be high spirited. So they broke out the raspberry cordial, praised Brushy Bear, and told each other funny stories about how wimpy Froggy Bear really was (though, strangely enough, they didn't dare tell such stories about Bear Bear). This would have gone on long into the night, only Brainy Bear showed up and spoiled the party.

        Brainy Bear stood upon the rostrum and he said, "Wait a moment, there's something seriously wrong here." All of a sudden the celebrating stopped, and suddenly Brushy Bear found himself standing all on his own.

        "Some of our bears have just come back from the hedge," Brainy Bear continued. "They have some interesting things to say. First, the bears over the hedge weren't stockpiling stones at all. In fact, they didn't have a single good throwing stone to call their own, and that means Brushy Bear, Rumpty Tumpty, and Blurry Bear have all been lying to us."

        Blurry Bear strutted forward indignantly, "I say, steady on. I haven't lied to anybody. I've still got the letter."

        "Oh yes," said Brainy Bear. "And may I see this letter?"

        Blurry Bear took it out and placed it on the rostrum. Brainy Bear began to read it to himself. It didn't take very long. "Why, may I ask, is this letter written in crayon?"

        "Hey," said Brushy Bear. "T'ain't nothing wrong with writing in crayon. I do it all the time."

        "Really," said Brainy Bear. "Perhaps you'd like to tell me then, why is this letter signed by Timmy, aged six and three quarters? It says, 'P.S. Blurry Bear offered me a sweetie.'"

        Brushy Bear started to blush with embarrassment. "Well that don't matter do it? We won the jape. That's the long and the short of it."

        "Yes," said Brainy Bear, "I was coming to that. Who's idea was it to hack a tunnel through the hedge?"

        "Not telling," said Brushy Bear, and cast his head down.

        "The thing is you see, all of our teddy bears over there - those fine young Bearlander bears who risked their all for this jape - they would all like to come home now. Only they can't. They have to stay on the other side of the hedge and guard the hole. If nobody guards the hole, the bears from over the hedge could use it for any sort of mischief. And the worst of it is, those bears over the hedge have recovered from the jape, and they're starting to throw stones at our bears."

        "Uhuh!" said Brushy Bear. "You think your so smart? I caught you out! How can they be throwing stones at us if'n you say they didn't have no stones?"

        Brainy Bear smiled. "Now there's a funny thing. This morning, Bearland had all the good throwing stones in Neverearth, and nobody else had any. We spent most of today throwing them around. This evening, all of a sudden, everyone seems to have throwing stones. Amusing, yes?" Nobody else thought so.

        In the end, it didn't take long for Brushy Bear's glorious triumph to turn into yet another failure. All the teddy bears put their cordial bottles away and went back to complaining how Brushy Bear was the worst Master of Games anyone could remember. They also said Brushy Bear made up The Enemy at the Gates just so he could steal games from over the hedge. And because of the hole in the hedge, Bearland was worse off than it had been before. But it was Blurry Bear who suffered the most. The teddy bears across the pond had never wanted to play The Enemy at the Gates to begin with. And now Blurry Bear had tarred himself with Rumpty Tumpty's brush. He didn't have a lot of friends after that. Brushy Bear came across the pond and said, "Blurry Bear is my friend. He came to play with me, so you should let him play with you." But the other bears said, "What's with Brushy Bear? He talks like a five year old child, or something. No wonder Bearland is in such a mess."

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        • #5
          Chapter Five

          Rumpty Tumpty was spitting angry. The Enemy at the Gates had been a game of his very own devising, or so he thought. In fact, many of the less successful Master's of Games had invented rather similar things. Such games usually found themselves declared "not much fun at all," which is the very worst kind of criticism a teddy bear can make of a game. One such game had been called Maybe a Jolly Good War would Buck Everyone Up, and four years later, with the benefit of hindsight, the then Master of Games had substituted an F for the B and argued that this was a much more accurate title. But teddy bears like Rumpty Tumpty usually failed history in bear school. Ones like Brushy Bear failed everything in bear school until their father's started to make very generous donations.

          It wasn't so much the enemy over the hedge that made Rumpty Tumpty so angry. He'd never even met a teddy bear from over the hedge. No, it was the ones like Brainy Bear, who carped, and criticised, and undermined everything you tried to do by telling everyone the truth. And what, Rumpty Tumpty demanded, did the truth have to do with anything?

          This wasn't how it was supposed to be. The Master of Games was supposed to be the most important bear in Bearland. There should be parades, with streamers and marching bands and waving flags. There should be medals and spiffy uniforms with tall hats, and teddy bears lining up to shake you by the hand. There should be servants who say "Yes sir" and "No sir". There should be nice young dolls wanting to play mothers and fathers with you. There should be streets paved with shiny things, and fountains of raspberry cordial. There should be a bit of kowtowing to the might and majesty of their glorious pagan god, the Master of Games. There most certainly should not be all this scepticism and dissent. Why couldn't teddy bears just do what they were told? What did they think this was, a democracy or something?

          "Well I'll show them," he said, addressing the wall of his cave. "They don't like my game? Okay, I'll invent them a new game. And they're going to like this one even less. But I'll make them sorry they ever opened their pinko, lefty, liberal, smug, smarmy, intellectual, carping, whinging, whining, vomiting, putrid, filthy, fat, fellating little snouts!"

          And then he kicked the wall of his cave over and over again. It didn't do much, since his paws were made of felt, but it got him good and worked up.

          Afterwards, Brushy Bear came to the cave, and Rumpty Tumpty tried to make himself look a bit more presentable. "Good morning Master Brushy. What have you been up to?"

          "Oh gosh Rumpty," he said. "I can't figure half of what teddy bears say. I went to Froggy Bear and Bear Bear, and I axed them if they would help mend the hole in the hedge. And they said, I made my own bed, now I got to lie in it. So I come straight up here to see you and figure out what they meant."

          "It means they won't help," said Rumpty Tumpty. "Listen, we have to start another game."

          "I'm listening," said Brushy Bear, and fixed Rumpty Tumpty with a mercenary stare about as subtle as half a brick in the head.

          "Oh for goodness sake, how about gold and silver? Do you like gold and silver?" The look of naked lust was answer enough, but Rumpty Tumpty at last became revolted by this stupid, greedy, spoilt brat of a teddy bear. "Are you sure you wouldn't like a few books instead? How about some Proust, or some Goethe? I hear Aristotle's ethics is good."

          "No thank you Rumpty. I reckon I'll stick with the shiny things."

          Rumpty Tumpty sighed. "All right then, shiny things it is. The name of this game is The Enemy Within. Have you got that?" Rumpty went on to tell Brushy Bear all about it. It was kind of like talking to himself.

          After lunch, Rumpty Tumpty rounded up few game young teddy bears and set off to find what he needed. But he didn't go to the toy box this time. The toy box was far too clean and nice for what he had in mind. At the edge of Neverearth, half buried in a noisome swamp, he found the very thing he needed. It was a huge barrel made of thick, black plastic. It had a lid, and when they looked inside, there was still some residue of sticky brown chemical sludge inside that gave them all a headache.

          "Perfect," said Rumpty Tumpty. They pulled it from the swamp, and they rolled it all the way back to the common at the centre of Bearland. They worked long into the night and dug a big hole into which they dropped the barrel, so that only the lid and five inches of rim showed above ground. Rumpty Tumpty added one last touch - a razor wire fence that enclosed the whole, complete with a sign that said, "Keep Out!" in big red letters. Then Rumpty Tumpty went to bed, satisfied. And though he dreamed unpleasant dreams that night, he smiled all the way through to dawn.

          The next day the teddy bears of Bearland gathered on the common to see the new addition. Word had gotten around. They had come because teddy bears were naturally curious creatures, and you never knew, maybe this was the start of a new game? Hopefully a fun game, this time around. But when they arrived and saw the ugly black plastic and the razor wire, they grew solemn. Such harsh things had no business in Bearland. No teddy bear had need of such things in the past, or so they supposed.

          Later in the morning, Brushy Bear and Rumpty Tumpty came to the common, and all the bears gathered around, concerned and more than a little afraid, because the razor wire and barrel seemed rather ominous.

          Brushy Bear got up on the rostrum and started the speech Rumpty Tumpty had written for him. "Well gosh, y'all know how we've been fighting the good fight against the bears over the hedge - the evil bears. And y'all know how they've been thinking up games and japes and jolly jests, that by rights only god fearing teddy bears like us should be thinking up. Yes sir. I told you about it. Well that ain't all. We found out there's evil bears here in Bearland too!"

          "Excuse me," Brainy Bear said from down in the crowd. "What possible justification could you have for calling teddy bears evil? How can we be evil when, after all, we are toys made for children?"

          "I knows it," said Brushy Bear. "I know there's evil bears as sure as night follows day. I knows it! When I was a little teddy cub, my pappy said there are some bears that are bad and go to a bad place, and there are some bears that are good and go to a good place. And he said I ought to make sure as I knowed which sort of teddy I was, and where I was going. Well, here I am. I'm in a good place. But right over there I can see a bad place, and that's where I reckon all the evil teddy bears will be going before too long."

          Rumpty Tumpty, who felt that Brushy was straying a little too far from the prepared speech, took to the rostrum at this point. "Brushy Bear," he said, with a voice unpleasant to the ear, "has given us a new game. This game is called The Enemy Within. We, your leaders, feel that there have been too many unpleasant japes and games going on. We, your masters, feel that the security of Bearland has been threatened. So here is how our new game goes. All games, jokes, japes, and jolly jests are to be submitted to the newly created office of Security Bear. The Security Bear will vet and censor all games and merriment as appropriate, and he will issue a licence. All unauthorised games and merriment are now banned. All dissent is now banned. And if anyone even thinks about defying these bans, they'll go to the barrel."

          All the teddy bears on the common turned and looked at the barrel and the razor wire. And they all stood stunned and silent for a long moment. And then Brainy Bear laughed out loud.

          "What do you think's so funny!" Rumpty Tumpty shouted in a rage that shocked the teddy bears to their core.

          But Brainy Bear stood his ground. "This is not a game. The Enemy Within cannot be a proper game, because you can't have a game that bans merriment. That undermines the very point of what a game is supposed to be. It flies in the face of every fundamental principle of Bearland. We're supposed to be teddy bears - cute and cuddly toys for children that love to laugh and play games. That is our ideal. That is how we are in every children's story that ever featured a walking talking teddy bear. But you Rumpty Tumpty, you have turned us into a sick joke."

          Rumpty Tumpty only smiled. "Well, Brainy Bear, the joke is about to turn sour for you." He raised his voice a pitch and addressed all the teddy bears there on the common. "Did you hear what he said? That was dissent, and the game is on. Security Bear, take him down!"

          A big burly teddy bear stepped forward, and the crowd all saw him for the first time. He was wearing a uniform, with lots of shiny medals and a big pointy hat. He pulled out a large truncheon, and everyone could not help but stare at it. Security Bear lifted up his truncheon, and he knocked brainy bear to the ground. Then he took him and dragged him over to the razor wire compound.

          There were some brave and bright young teddy bears who knew at once what was going to happen. So they all dived on Security Bear and tried to stop him. But security bear swung his truncheon and stamped his heavy boots and pushed on. The brave young bears made to follow, but they snagged and tore themselves on the razor wire, and they could go no further. In front of every teddy bear on the common, Security Bear lifted the lid and threw the battered and unconscious Brainy Bear down into the stench and darkness. Then he let the lid fall with a thud like death.

          All the teddy bears on the common shook their heads and murmured amongst themselves. None of the old stories went like this.

          Late that night there were raids. Security Bear battered down doors, and dragged off a few hapless young bears. And many more teddy bears joined Brainy Bear down in the dark. He went to Froggy Bear's house and tried to arrest him. But Froggy Bear wasn't as weak as every taunting voice accused. He merely laughed at Security Bear and sent him packing. In the morning, many teddy bears went to Rumpty Tumpty's house, to ask why their friends had been taken away in the night and thrown into the dark. But Rumpty Tumpty refused to say what they had done wrong. He wouldn't even admit that any teddy bear had been thrown in the barrel.

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          • #6
            Chapter Six

            One day, by the tree where the tree house used to stand, a few teddy bears sat huddled together in a little group and got to talking. There was a white teddy bear, a brown teddy bear, and a black teddy bear. They spoke softly and looked furtively around, because it wasn't safe to congregate in groups anymore, not under the tyranny of The Enemy Within.

            "Do you know something?" the white bear said. "In two days from now there's another election."

            "Really?" said the black bear. "I've been so busy trying to stay out of Security Bear's way I forgot all about it."

            The brown bear shook his head. "Tell me about it. The worst thing is, Security Bear doesn't do a thing for security. I hear Sammy Bear's planning another jape."

            "That old chestnut?" said the white bear. "Forget about Sammy Bear. Every time Brushy Bear messes up or Security Bear gets a little too enthusiastic, Rumpty Tumpty comes out and says 'Sammy's coming back,' and everyone runs around in a panic. It's just a diversion. I can't wait for the election. Brushy Bear is the worst Master of Games we ever had."

            "For sure," said the black bear. "We're going to bust him down so far he'll have to climb a ladder to tie his shoes."

            They all nodded to that, and looked around some more, in case anyone was listening. Then the brown bear said, "So who do you like for the election?"

            "Hey," said the black bear. "Maybe Willie Bear will stand again. I'd vote for him."

            And the white bear said, "Maybe Mrs Willie Bear will stand. How would you like that?"

            The brown bear smiled. "Maybe Rumpty Tumpty will stand."

            "What!" they all said together.

            The brown bear laughed. "It was a joke. You don't think I'd really vote for Rumpty Tumpty do you? That would be worse than having Brushy Bear back for a second term."

            "It would be the same thing," said the black bear. "You got a licence for that joke?"

            "If you want, I'll forge you one right now," said the white bear, and they looked around furtively once again.

            If they had looked up, they would have seen Rumpty Tumpty perched in the tree overhead, listening to their every word. Later in the white doll house, Rumpty Tumpty met Brushy Bear in the extruded plastic office for a chat.

            "So that's what they think is it?" said Rumpty Tumpty as he paced up and down. "After all I've done for them, that's what these Bearland teddy bears think of me! And you Brushy. They said you were the worst Master of Games ever."

            "Gosh Rumpty, that's against the rules of our game. Did you throw them in the barrel Rumpty, did you?"

            "Huh!" said Rumpty Tumpty. "Those pathetic little doormats weren't worth lifting a finger for. But I'll get them in the long run, and they'll pay. They'll all pay. Brushy, I want you to stand for election again."

            Brushy Bear sucked in his breath. "Gee, I don't know Rumpty. It's awful confusing being the Master of Games."

            "Can we skip this bit? I've heard all this before. Just come out with it and tell me what you want and I'll get it for you."

            "Well," said Brushy Bear, "I been thinking. I been thinking so hard my head near bust, it did. And I figure that's just exactly what I want to know about. You promised me a whole mess of stuff Rumpty, and I ain't seen none of it yet. When can I have it Rumpty, when?"

            Rumpty Tumpty stood silently for a long while, then he reached into his waistcoat. Brushy Bear shuffled forward to see. Rumpty held a brand new tinkly bell in his paw. And it shone so brightly that Brushy Bear was near mesmerised. "I knew it Rumpty! I knew you was my real true friend. So when can I have all the rest of the things?"

            Rumpty Tumpty said, "I'm not your friend Brushy. I hate you, and I've hated you right from the very beginning. I always figured you for a spoilt brat of a teddy bear, but I let you tag along, because you could be useful. And you were. I used you Brushy. I don't have any more shiny things. There never were any more shiny things."

            "Well then," said Brushy Bear, his hackles rising. "If'n there ain't no more shiny things, I don't reckon I'm going to stand for election."

            Rumpty Tumpty laughed. "You think you've got a choice do you? Everybody hates you Brushy Bear. Before you were just a big stupid oaf with a tinkly bell in your head. Teddy bears used to think you were funny. But not now. You're the Master of Games Brushy. When teddy bears think of the hole in the hedge, they'll remember Brushy Bear. When teddy bears think of the barrel, they'll remember you Brushy. You took the job and you took the credit, and the minute you walk away, you'll take the blame too. When you're not the Master of Games anymore, the other bears might just throw you in the barrel. The only thing stopping them now is that you're the Master of Games, and they're all afraid of us. You can't afford not to stand for election again Brushy Bear."

            Brushy Bear sat down in his chair behind the big plastic desk, and a single tear ran down the side of his snout.

            Rumpty Tumpty said, "What are you snivelling about?"

            "You ain't nice Rumpty. I always knowed it, I guess, but now I know it for sure. I don't like this game any more. Pappy wouldn't have like it neither. It's no fun. Bearland's no fun. We wrecked Bearland Rumpty."

            "You!" Rumpty Tumpty stamped his paw. "You! All this time, I promised you shiny things and you did whatever fool thing I told you to. You never once thought of anything except yourself. Oh Brushy, you're worse than me. You're much worse. I did it for the power, but you did it for nothing at all. You did it for the promise of something bright and shiny to stare at. But now you presume to have a moral qualm? You! Suck it in Brushy Bear, I'm not buying it."

            "Don't matter anyway," said Brushy Bear, smiling sadly. "They ain't never going to vote for me again."

            "Oh to be so naive. They didn't vote for you in the first place Brushy. If I hadn't knocked over that ballot box, you wouldn't be sitting here now. But now we're in control, I won't have to do anything so clumsy. When all the teddy bears are too afraid to call you out on it, there are any number of ways you can rig an election. You'll be the Master of Games next time as well Brushy Bear. But don't you ever get too proud Brushy, because you're still my slave. You're just as much my slave as all of them out there in Bearland."

            Election day came and went, and at the bottom of a dark and damp barrel, Brainy Bear sat huddled together with the other prisoners.

            "Any news from outside?" said Brainy Bear. "Who won the election?"

            "Brushy Bear again," someone said. "It was Brushy Bear by a landslide. There's talk that the election was rigged, but Security Bear has taken the ballot boxes and won't let anyone see them."

            "It's not Brushy Bear in charge though," said Brainy Bear. "Trust me on that. It's Rumpty Tumpty who's pulling the strings, but it's a dangerous game he's playing. I know how it will turn out in the long run.

            "Rumpty Tumpty sat on the wall
            Rumpty Tumpty had a great fall
            All the bear's horses and all the bear's men
            Couldn't put Rumpty together again."

            All the teddy bears laughed at that, but it was a nervous and tense sort of laughter. Someone said, "Maybe someone will come and bust us out some day."

            Brainy Bear said, "We can but hope. Froggy Bear and Bear Bear won't bow down before Rumpty Tumpty. They will always be independent."

            They often talked like this, weighing the prospect of rescue against the tides of politics. They hoped against hope that someday the lid would open and they would see the light of day again. But deep down in the very fibres of their stuffing they knew the truth and despaired. They were all doomed. In a damp, warm, and dark place like this, a teddy bear would rot away to nothing in next to no time. The smell of mould was already strong in Brainy Bear's snout.

            And so the sun set over Bearland, but nobody much cared. In truth, it was not a nice place anymore.

            Copyright Kim Walker 2004

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            • #7
              Excerpt from Diary of a Misfit



              6/31/2002:



              Goddamn I hate shopping. I'm not even talking about buying clothes and shit. I'm talking about just having to go to the grocery store.



              If I can, I avoid going out into public. There's just too many people and you never know when something bad may happen. It's possible that someone might sneeze on you or something. Or perhaps one of the homeless schizophrenic people in the neighborhood will come up to you and harass you, telling you about how the ghost of Adolf Hitler is trying to raise an army to invade and destroy the entire town or some-shit.



              I swear to God-- I think Saul in The Bible was actually a lunatic schizophrenic; that's what the light in his frikken brain-- the voice of God-- was! They just didn't know what mental illness was in those days.



              Anyway, I ran out of food today. I couldn't see myself cooking up the last few month old eggs for lunch, nor eating week old raw carrot sticks, so I had to go to the grocery store.



              I didn't worry too much about how I looked. I was wearing an old Godflesh T-shirt and black jams. I just put on my docs and put my Soundgarden hat on my head backwards, grabbed my keys, and I was out the door.



              When I got there, I wanted to flip everyone off. I hate people. I imagined flipping off just about everyone that walked by or near me. And actually my middle fingers were slightly extended while all the others slightly contracted. It was like I was a gunslinger with itchy trigger fingers. Instead of bullets, I was poised and ready to shoot off an arsenal of lethal "fuck yous."



              I managed to get a carton of soymilk, two-for-the-price-of-one Marie Callendar's Garlic Chicken dinners, a family size frozen lasagne, and a box of Chef's Blend for Shadow-kitty without incedent. Actually, a really scrawny, unattractive asian girl seemed to be checking me out (I refused to let her get a good view of my backside) in both the frozen dinner section and dairy section, but that was a minor annoyance.



              As I left the store, a miserable looking elder man held up a red bucket with a sign on the outside which read something like: Donations for the homeless. For all I know he was a con artist. And what made things worse was there was a laminated picture of Jesus Christ sitting half way inside the bucket.-- one of those melodramatic highly detailed paintings where Jesus looks like a supreme being with silver lined clouds in the background, and golden rays of light seeping through. It was all a matter of seconds but my mind sensed the irony and misery of it all.



              I reached into my pocket and randomly pulled out a coin. It was a penny.



              The Fates are cruel to the homeless today! I thought.



              "Fuck it! " I said to myself and quickly tossed it into the bucket so the guy couldn't tell what it was. (The coin actually hit Jesus on the chest, I think, and bounced to the bottom of the bucket.) Imagine Abe Lincoln head-butting Jesus!



              "Thank you," said the wretch.



              I didn't even look at him, and said, "Welcome."



              For some reason I envisioned my friend Karl saying to the guy: "Get a job, motherfucker!" (He's heartless like that.)



              I smiled. Oh well! I thought, and was glad to be off to my car and bound for home-sweet-home.



              Isn't my mundane life so exciting?



              --"C"WithAcircleAroundIt-- Jerico R. 2003 [email protected]

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              • #8
                I don't know what the deal with the formatting is! I didn't try to do that. It's not my fault! Noooo sorry :)

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