Seven thousand feet above a nondescript homestead in the middle of nowhere a beautiful thing was happening. A minute particle of dust became the nucleus for a gossamer structure of ice crystals. This crystalline entity, almost achingly beautiful on its own, was joined by multitudes of its brethren. Each one a unique masterpiece; or so they say.
It drifted slowly, lazily, in no particular hurry through the swirling whiteness of its nimbostratus home, eventually breaking free to float to earth. During the long gradual decline the snowflake was nudged here and there by eddies and currents until at long last it settled gently on its final destination; a creature’s nose.
A pair of eyes, bleary, as if just emerging from a long and deathlike sleep, opened and focused on the snowflake. A bear… a bear which had been immobile for months… was looking at the glinting white intruder on its long, terribly flawed, coma-like, time of nothingness. And finally, for the first time in far too long, it was aware.
It was a bear. It was alive.
It was stiff from inaction, its fur tattered, its stomach hollow. But it was alive.
And it had a snowflake on its nose. A second snowflake joined the first.
The bear looked around. Gathering its wits, regaining consciousness, becoming fully sentient. Snow was falling more heavily now. Each flake adding a whisperlike sound to the deep silence of the forest.
The bear became fully alert, all its facilities restored. It remembered the sudden realization that Sammy, a skunk with a stripe of white along a black body, was by definition racist. The bear remembered the call to action. The need to do the right thing. And then the skunksplosion.
It shivered. Some things are worse than death. Sammy’s foul demise had gone beyond any reasonable reality.
The bear shifted its weight. Stretched its back. God, it was stiff.
Winter was coming.
He hadn’t eaten all fall. Now it was hibernation season.
Bart the bear was well and truly screwed.
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