Ten days later,
To that end, she waited until Allie and Younger Arki were
asleep one night, and then crawled away from the lie up. Moving as noiselessly as she could,
“Welcome to the automated voice activated elevator control system.”
“Um, thank you,” the polar bear cub replied.
“Where would you like to go now?” The voice asked.
“I don’t know,”
“Here are your choices,” the machine said in a very pleasant voice, “you can go to the ground floor, first floor, second floor, third floor or fourth floor, boss’s quarters, or the basement. To make your choice, just say ground, first, second, third, fourth boss or basement. If you want help, just say help, or if you want to open the door, just say open.”
“You are on the second floor,” the voice said.
“Do you want
the basement, ground, first, second, third, fourth or bosses floor?” The voice asked.
The truth was someone was watching, Nanuq, in control that
night, had watched
“Where do you
think I should go?”
“Say basement, first, second, third, fourth or boss.” Nanuq replied, trying not to smile, for that would have changed his tone and given the game away.
“This lift is
“You’re being very helpful, thanks for that.” Nanuq nearly laughed out loud, but caught himself just in time.
“I think I’ll
go to the basement,”
“You are now on
the basement level,” Nanuq said into his mic, then, as
“Let me out!
Let me out!”
“This is the basement level,” Nanuq said, “please do not be frightened, I am a new system and am a little slow. The door will now open. On this level you will find the new snow room, this is a place where it is permanently winter.”
“The snow room
is on your immediate left as you leave the lift.”
“Thank you for your help,” she said, Nanuq trying not to laugh merrily.
The world was all white, with cold stuff beneath her
“What is this
Nanuq said gently, “I won’t hurt you
scared me,” the cub stammered, “I, I, I, oh dear, are you safe? A friend?”
Nanuq sat back on the snow and picked
“I won’t hurt you little one,” Nanuq said.
“What do I call
“Um, just Nanuq,” the polar bear replied, “my son cub’s also called Nanuq, but let’s keep it simple shall we?”
how did you know I was here?”
“I followed you here,” the bear replied, omitting the fact he’d been in the control room, and had left it in Nanuq junior’s control, racing down to the snow room when Alaska had gone in.
“I live here,”
Nanuq said, bending the truth a bit.
He’d spent time in here advising the boss on how things should be for a
proper polar environment. As it was,
snow was falling, and a gentle wind had sprung up from the west. Suddenly a fierce wined began to blow,
driving the snow into
“Let’s get out of here!” The cub screamed above the wind, “It’s awful!” Nanuq dragged the cub into the cave and blocked up the entrance with ice blocks and snow.
“We should be okay in here until the blizzards over,” Nanuq said, snow melting off his fur and paws.
“It might take
some time,” the big male polar bear replied, “now let’s keep you warm
curl round me?”
“I, I’ve just thought of something,” Alaska said, suddenly horrified, “when, when, when I go back to mum, that’s Allie, she’ll know I’ve been away, because, because, well, my paws are all wet, and my fur smells of your scent, and you’re not family, for you haven’t got the scent, but you feel like family, well sort of, and it’s all going wrong!”
“I know your
mum very well
“Do you want to
hear a story?” Nanuq asked.
“Yes, please,” she replied.
Nanuq began, “in the frozen wastes of the arctic, for this is a true storey
“Yes,” Nanuq replied, “well, when I got to the den, which they’d not broken into yet, I scraped away the entrance and crawled in. The males wanted this, for all they’d done was threaten the female and dig ineffectively. I dug down to her, and she was very close to having her cubs. When she saw my face looking down at her she nearly lost it, screaming and roaring as a contraction gripped her.”
“Did you want
to eat the cubs too?”
replied, “but I had to make the males think I did. So while the mother was screaming in pain
with a contraction gripping her I growled at her a bit then turned and chased
the males off. I went mad at them! There were only two or three, and I ran at
each of them, for I was bigger than any of them and angrier too! They fled!
I then went back to the mother to be, who was just delivering her first
“You have scars on your face and you can’t use the toes of your left forepaw very well,” Alaska said, “Nanuq, you didn’t just yell at them did you?” Nanuq looked down at his damaged left forepaw. He’d forgotten about the nerve damage caused when one of the male polar bears sank his teeth into that paw. He’s just got on with his life, but now he was made aware of his immobile toes.
“I fought them
“you need not have made the story less gruesome for me,” the cub said, “I know male polar bears don’t just give up because another male tells them to go home Nanuq. You fought for that female polar bear and her cubs. But why? You’re male, you’ve had cubs, and I’ve met Nanuq junior. What stopped you from doing what those other male bears wanted. Why did you save that mother and her cubs?
“I lost my own cubs to a male,” Nanuq said softly, “lost my mate too. The male killed the cubs then drowned my mate in a seal’s ice hole. I found her body and the bodies of my two newborn cubs on the ice, frozen stiff. My mate had told me to leave her to give birth to our cubs and she’d come and find me in the spring, so I did. I stuck around though, and knew when she went into labour. I kept watch from a distance away, several other males in attendance too, as they are always looking for easy pickings. My mate’s labour was long and hard; her cries of pain and scrabbling paws could be heard a long way away. It was while she was in the full throws of labour that the attack happened. The male polar bears, four of them, piled in and wrecked the den, and then in a display of total blood thirstiness, they tore the cubs from my mate and left her and them to die. It was sport to them, pure sport. They didn’t care about the cubs. I could do nothing against four, or thought I couldn’t then, so I ran off, returning four days later after the shock had worn off a little. My cubs were okay, but dead, my mate though, her body, it was in a dreadful state after what they’d done to her. It seems they tore the cubs from her then drowned her in the ice pool. I hate to think what she suffered.”
“Why would they
do such a horrible thing?”
“They were hungry, or that’s what they said,” Nanuq replied.
“But you said,
said that, that they ripped the cubs from your mate and left them,”
“They didn’t touch the bodies of the cubs, or that of my mate other than to do enough damage to kill the cubs,” Nanuq replied hoarsely, “they wanted my cubs dead at all costs. I promised to avenge my mate’s death and the deaths of my cubs. To lose them naturally would be one thing, I could cope with that! But to have these horrid creatures plot and scheme to kill my mate during her confinement was too much! That was unnatural behaviour. I can understand males taking cubs when in the open, but not like that, not when they are unborn! So I vowed to avenge the deaths of my cubs and mate and not let any other poor mother go through what my mate and cubs had. It was a short time later I found the males clustered round the den of the labouring mother polar bear.”
just scare them off did you,”
“They were the same male polar bears,” he sobbed, “I couldn’t let them do the same thing again, not again!”
“You never told me that,” a voice said, as a large paw tore down the barricade at the entrance to the snow den. Allie stuck her head in at the door and looked at Nanuq and her youngest cub curled up together.
“I didn’t mean
to cause you fear! I was bored!”
“Why didn’t you bloody tell me?” She demanded. Nanuq couldn’t reply.
“The story was
too horrible to tell,”
“I love you Allie!” Nanuq sobbed, Allie hugging him close.
“It’s okay now,” Allie said gently, though she felt anything but okay. To hear what she had and act normally was crazy, but she knew she must.
“Your mate was named Allie wasn’t she,” Allie said softly. Nanuq nodded.
“My mate died at the paws of dreadful creatures,” Nanuq sobbed, “I wanted, wanted to be reminded of her, so I gave you the name she had, for you are my cub Allie!” Allie cradled Nanuq in her paws, the big male bear inconsolable.
“I know I’m
get angry at
“I thought I was
talking to a robot!”
“So this is a
polar simulation,” Allie said. Nanuq
smiled and nodded. The wind died down,
and Allie, Nanuq and
“Nanuq, I can’t walk if you’re holding my paw. Please.” Nanuq’s eyes burned into hers.
“I have nightmares about my dead mate’s death,” Nanuq said, “nightmares, which I can’t describe, for they are too awful.”
“Does Brunetta know about them?” Allie asked. Nanuq nodded.
“She knows I have them, but doesn’t know their contents,” he replied, still holding Allie’s paw in his.
“Let go of my paw Nanuq, please,” Allie pleaded. Nanuq wasn’t listening however. Allie looked into the male polar bear’s eyes and their expression scared her.
“I needed to tell
someone,” Nanuq sniffed, “and it came out while
“You must get help for your nightmares,” Allie said.
“What I need
to know noone can tell me,” Nanuq replied, “I know my mate suffered horribly,
but what of her cubs?” Allies was about
to reply when her eye fell on
“Nanuq,” Allie said, “I’m sorry, so sorry, for what I said. Of course you need to know if they suffered or not.”
“It’s the not knowing which is the worst of it,” Nanuq replied, “if I knew, then I could work it through, sort my head out, sort out the shit in my mind!”
“Your mate suffered a great deal, as did your cubs Nanuq,” Rowena said, gently placing her paw on Nanuq’s.
“Would you help
me Rowena?” Nanuq asked, “For I didn’t
mean to tell the tale to
“I love you Nanuq,” Older Nanuq said.
“I’ve never doubted that for one minute,” the younger polar bear replied, pressing his paws hard into his sire’s, “I feel it in the way we play together, in contact between our paws. I love our times together Nanuq.”
“I love them too my dear son cub,” the enormous male choked, tears rolling down his face.
Nanuq junior’s sister looked out at the scene from where she
was hiding in her lie up. Younger
Brunetta hated her brother and sire’s antics.
Her mother’s paw play addiction angered her too. Indeed, the she bear did not like any
physical contact at all. She watched
Nanuq junior and their sire playing with each other’s hind paws, taking each
paw in their forepaws, stroking each other’s paw pads and playing with each
other’s toes. Younger Brunetta turned
her head away, trying not to throw up.
She hated the thought of two bears playing with each other’s paws; she
could not guess what pleasure could be got from touching each other’s
paws. Younger Brunetta also never saw
her sire or brother washing their paws, whereas she was forever washing her
paws. The she bear thought her brother
and sire unclean for playing with each other’s paws. Angry, Younger Brunetta ran from her hiding
place and attacked her brother and sire!
Slamming into them, she tried to punch her brother on the nose or slap
his face. Allie ran away with
“You horrid unclean animals!” Younger Brunetta screamed, “Playing with each other’s paws, how disgusting! I hate you, I hate it! You two are horrible and disgusting, and filthy!”
“Stop that now!” Brunetta screamed, running in to stop the fight. She’d seen everything, and was furious with her youngest cub! Slapping her cub with her paw, Brunetta screamed at her.
“You! Will! Not! Attack! Your! Brother!” She screamed, slapping her cub’s face and paws, as well as pulling at the disgraced she bear’s ears. Younger Brunetta swore at her mother, over and over again she used the most disgusting words towards her mother, brother and sire.
“We leave you alone to compulsively wash your paws and be anti social,” Brunetta snarled, “so you leave us alone to play with each other’s paws and be social okay? No questions!” Younger Brunetta was now begging for her life.
“Let me go, let me go!” She yelled.
“Your attack on your brother was disgraceful!” Samson roared, charging into the fight.
“This is bear’s stuff, leave it out lion!” Younger Brunetta screamed. Samson knew he could not break up the fight, but he was desperate to do so. Curling his toes into the carpet to stop him, he ranted and roared at the bears, telling them they were stupid, idiotic and crazy!
“This is wrong!” Samson screamed, “paws are okay to play with, cubs do it, adults do it here, it’s what we do Younger Brunetta, if you can’t cope with that, then you’d better leave, for we won’t stop playing with each other’s or our own paws!” Younger Brunetta snarled at the lion and left off, furious with him but unable to fight against the weight of opinion. Meanwhile, Nanuq and his male cub were walking away. They were traumatised by the attack, their paws wanting more contact, their minds a whirl of distress. Padding away from Brunetta and the others, the two male bears kept in step, their forepaws touching from time to time as they walked away. Nanuq was almost crying, the big male polar bear sniffing and gulping hard.
“I can’t believe she did that,” he choked. Nanuq junior squeezed the toes of his sire’s damaged left forepaw.
“Let’s settle down and embrace each other’s paws,” the bear suggested.
“Yes,” Nanuq sniffed, “let’s do our own thing
Nanuq cub, let’s do our own thing!” The
polar bears padded to
“Love your paws and those of your fellow bears,” she said. The two polar bears smiled, for they knew what she really meant.
“Love the paws as much as you love their owner,” Nanuq junior thought. Older Nanuq felt the pads of his son cub’s right hind paw wrinkled and rough under his own pads. He remembered the first time he’d touched the cub’s paws when Nanuq junior was only a day or two old, the thrill the cub felt transmitted to his sire through the pressure on his large toes from the cub’s curled toes holding them. The pressure was fierce, regent and pleading, wanting more, the cub needing more stimulation to his paws. Now the cub was almost grown up, and waving his paws in the air like the tiny cub he once was. Withdrawing his left forepaw from his cub’s grip, older Nanuq looked Nanuq junior over, from his black nose, to the black wrinkled pads on the soles of his hind paws. Nanuq loved every hair on the cub’s body and inch of the cub’s wrinkled paw pads. Older Nanuq touched the fur on the top of his son cub’s right hind paw with the toes of his right fore, and then massaged the wrinkled pads on the sole of the large polar bear’s right hind paw.
paws ay Nanuq?”
“I love these times,” Nanuq junior said. Older Nanuq smiled, and then kissed the furry top of his cub’s left forepaw. Nanuq junior reached up to older Nanuq’s nose with his left forepaw, touching it with his toes. Nanuq kissed the toes which briefly touched his nose, Nanuq junior gulping hard, tears rolling down his nose.
“I love you Nanuq,” he said. Nanuq removed his right forepaw from his son cub’s right hind, then, cradling it in both forepaws; he leant down and kissed the pads of Nanuq junior’s right hind paw.
watching you two,”
with her paws next,” Nanuq suggested.
“I can’t wait,” she replied.
Meanwhile, back in the passage, Younger Brunetta had lost the fight with her mother and Samson watched incredulously as Brunetta dragged her own cub away to the prison. The lion knew the bears were in control of this, and all he could do was watch. Padding to younger Brunetta’s lie up, he tracked Brunetta and the disgraced half grown cub’s exit. Once Brunetta had slammed the door on her cub, she returned to Samson and stood in front of him.
“She’s no danger to anyone now,” Brunetta said. Samson stared at her.
things into your own paws!” He yelled,
“it’s for me and
“Samson, please,” Brunetta started to say gently, but the lion shouted at her, waving his paw at her.
“You want to be part of this community but you don’t obey our rules! She should have been brought to me!” Brunetta raised a massive forepaw and held it in front of the lion’s eyes.
“Stop Samson, shut up!” Brunetta yelled. Samson took one look at the huge paw held in front of his face with its huge claws and massive pads, and decided to hold his tongue.
“Listen to me Sammy, please,” Brunetta pleaded.
“Okay, okay, I’m listening,” Samson said. Brunetta placed her paw on the lion’s, the one he’d been waving at her a minute before.
“Samson, dear Sammy,” Brunetta said gently, “do you know why my cub disregarded your instructions to stop fighting with Nanuq junior?”
“Because she’s a disobedient cub!” Samson roared.
“Partly that, but also because she’s a bear, and bears don’t have the same family structure as you lions. You treated her like a lion cub, but she’s not a lion cub! We bears accept this community and choose to be part of it, but our mentality is a solitary one. We don’t have families like you lions. That was why my cub gave you no respect. You love us bears, but you know little about the way we work. You know me and Allie and a few others, who all, to a bear, love you dearly, but you don’t know us intimately. Bears are solitary creatures for the most part, lions aren’t. That was why you were dismissed by my cub and by me, this was bear’s stuff. I’m sorry Sammy.” Samson swallowed hard, knowing Brunetta had approached him like she had because she knew she could.
“Your cub should not have attacked her brother,” Samson mewed, his eyes showing acute distress.
“No she shouldn’t,” Brunetta replied, “but she has, and now we’re faced with Nanuq and our eldest cub’s distress. I don’t know where my cub has got to, but I’m sure he’s not too far away.”
“You bears would be good leaders,” Samson mewed, “but the pride model is best for a community like this.”
where the polar bears are,” Brunetta said leading Samson to the lift. Once in the control room, Brunetta had
Rowena, who was on duty, look for Nanuq and his son cub. Finding them in
“Older Nanuq playing with Young Nanuq,” Rowena mewed, “how lovely, how sweet!” Samson gulped hard.
“I now know how much those two love each other,” he mewed. Brunetta knew she was not as close to her son cub as her mate was, and was secretly upset.
“I suppose I was the career bear and Nanuq is more the homely one,” Brunetta mused, “for he can play with his cub like I should be able to. I used to you know, but then, then my life took over, the cub grew up and now he and I are distant.
“Nanuq junior would love to play with you, I’m sure of that,” Samson said, hearing the bear’s distress.
“I’ve left my cubs to be brought up by their sire Sammy, and I didn’t even realise I was doing so. That time in the lie up when we played with each other’s paws, Nanuq junior told me he would play with my paws as much as he could if I’d only play with him. I was touched deeply by that, still am, but now he’s found a new playmate in his sire. Not a bad thing, but I’ve lost that time with my cub. As for younger Brunetta, she’s a lost cause, she hates her brother’s paws on approach to life, it makes her sick, I’ve seen her be physically sick after seeing White Theo playing with Clarence’s paws, and she can’t cope with that. I saw the build up to what happened today, and failed to stop her in time. Sammy, the bears are here because they want to be. Any who don’t want to be under your command won’t be, that’s just it. You know us very superficially; you know those bears who accept you as leader. They let you play with their paws and they play with yours and you have a great time, but now you’ve seen the decanting other side, the bear that doesn’t are about you or your rules, and it’s all because of our mentality kicked off in one because one paw pad touches another. It’s so, so sad.” Samson looked at Brunetta.
“I’m no bear,” he said, “I suppose I was shouting into the wind a bit there.” Brunetta smiled and touched her leader’s paw.
“Let’s go and see if we can cheer up two very distressed polar bears,” Brunetta said. Samson smiled sadly and padded after Brunetta.
Brunetta and the community leader found Nanuq and Nanuq
junior playing with
“Sorry to break up the party,” Samson said, “but we need to investigate what happened between Younger Brunetta and yourselves.” Nanuq junior looked at his leader and then jerked his head at his sire.
“We were having a bit of family time,” Nanuq junior said, “all right it was in the passage, maybe not the best place to start playing with each other’s paws, but we couldn’t help ourselves. We love each other.” Samson picked up the phone to Rowena and got her to rerun the footage from the camera in that passage. As he watched the unfolding drama, the lion got more and more distressed and angry.
“She will be punished more for this!” He roared. Nanuq took his son cub’s paw in his.
“We will get
through this,” he said to his cub. Nanuq
junior looked as shell shocked as his sire had earlier. The feelings Older Nanuq transmitted to him
through contact with his hind paw in
“It’s okay,” Nanuq said to his son, “I promise its okay.” Nanuq junior buried his head in his sire’s shoulder.
“How do you intend to punish a bear for her actions?” Brunetta asked.
“I know,” Samson mewed, “I’m a lion, she’s a bear, and she doesn’t respect us lions. What we’re going to have to do is find out what she hates about Nanuq and his son’s paw play, for it is that she hates.”
“Let’s go and see what she has a problem with,” Brunetta said.
Younger Brunetta lay in the concrete prison contemplating her lot. She realised that losing it at her brother was stupid. She hated the paw play because she saw paws as tools, not as playthings. She was a traditional bear through and through. Taking her lead from her mother, Younger Brunetta had worked to get a job in the community, but due to her rejection of paw play, had got nowhere. Paw play was integral to the community, and younger Brunetta didn’t like it. Her musings were cut short by her mother’s arrival.
“We need to talk,” Brunetta said. Her daughter cub sat up and looked at her.
“I want to help,” Brunetta said, “I want to find out what you hate about Nanuq and your brother’s play.” Younger Brunetta looked at her mother.
“The paws are not playthings,” the sow brown bear replied, “they’re tools, not toys. Nanuq and my brother are too into playing with each other’s paws like cubs! Paw play is cub stuff!”
“Have you tried playing with paws?” Older Brunetta asked.
“No, but, but I don’t want to,” her cub whimpered,” It’s terrible!”
“How can you say that when you don’t know?” Nanuq junior asked, padding into the concrete cell.
“I know, believe me I know, and get away from me with your horrid paws!” Younger Brunetta screamed.
“Let me show
you what I and my sire were up to in
“Your sire was playing with the toes of your right hind paw like you were a cub again!” Younger Brunetta squealed, “You aren’t a cub any more! Also, male polar bears should not be acting like that!” She snapped, “It’s wrong, unnatural, and unexplainable!”
“Okay,” Nanuq junior said, “now sister, would you be prepared to try paw play?” Younger Brunetta looked at her brother, appalled by his suggestion.
“No, no no no!” She screeched, her eyes filling with tears. There was something in her brother’s eyes which disturbed her, something which she saw in the entire paw playing animals, a peace which she knew she did not feel.
“Sit here sister Brunetta, please, let me show you,” Nanuq junior pleaded, “your attack on me hurt me more than the physical injuries. I want to help heal the mind of the bear that launched that attack.
“Playing with each other’s paws is unclean,” Younger Brunetta mumbled, “its cub stuff.” Nanuq touched his sister’s paw.
“Take a deep breath and let me take your right hind paw in my forepaws, please,” Nanuq junior pleaded. Younger Brunetta felt her hind paws becoming hotter; she couldn’t stand that for long.
“Okay,” she whimpered, “my paws are uncomfortable, here are my hind paws. She pedalled the air with her hind paws, her brother crawling to them and taking her right hind in both his forepaws. Younger Brunetta felt herself pressing her toes into her brother’s pads, she couldn’t help herself.
“I can’t stop it, I can’t stop it!” She wailed, trying to pull her paw away, but finding she was unable to do so. Younger Brunetta panted and whimpered, her hind paw telling her she was beaten, her attitude was wrong, and her brother’s touch was what she really wanted, needed, must have at all costs.
“Stroke my pads Nanuq, massage my toes!” Younger Brunetta pleaded, surprised at her own desperation, “don’t let my paw go!”
“Let yourself go, focus your mind on nothing, just follow your paw,” Nanuq junior suggested. Younger Brunetta braced her toes against her brother’s pads, then pressed the whole of her right hind paw into her brother’s forepaws, whimpering with fear and pleasure as her mind was consumed by a feeling she’d never experienced before.
“I don’t know what to think,” Younger Brunetta said dreamily as her brother massaged her right hind paw with the toes of his left fore, “I’ve been so horrible to you and to our sire that I don’t know where to begin fixing what I damaged. What I saw in the passage wasn’t just paw play, it was an expression of uncomplicated unconditional love between our sire and you brother Nanuq. All I needed was to have my paws grabbed by you and be told I was being a stupid bear and to give you all four of my paws until you decided you’d finished with them and me. I hated what I didn’t understand, and hated the fact two male polar bears were breaking the ursine code. Everyone here breaks one code or another. Bears being friendly with lions are something which often happens here, but is unnatural in the wild order of things. I know I seem to have come round quickly, but, brother Nanuq, you don’t know the true power of your paws. You touched my forepaw, and I had no choice but to let you have access to my hind, they wanted to be massaged, and I had no choice, I had to obey my paws.”
“Now will you try playing with your own paws?” Nanuq junior asked. His sister covered her face with her forepaws as she thought about her reply.
“I could try,” she said, “Nanuq, show me how.” So Nanuq released her right hind paw, sat down and took his right hind paw in his right fore, his sister watching his every move.
“So I sit down with my hind legs out in front of me, and then bend my right hind leg until my right forepaw can comfortably reach my right hind. Then I curl the toes of my right fore around my right hind paw so they are touching the sole pad of my right hind?” Younger Brunetta asked. Her brother nodded. Nanuq watched as his sister did something she’d never dreamed she would ever do, and once her right hind paw was held in her right fore, she looked up at her brother.
“This feels strange, very strange,” she said, “the toes of my right hind paw want to curl round my right fore, and should I let them?” Nanuq nodded.
“Your paws know what they want,” he replied, “follow your paws sister Brunetta.” Younger Brunetta smiled as she felt the toes of her right hind paw touch the fur of her right fore. The pads of her right hind paw beneath the toes of her right fore bunching slightly as her toes curled into a relaxed state. Nanuq junior watched his sister relax into the act of holding her right hind paw in her right fore.
“This feels natural, as if my paws were meant for this!” Younger Brunetta exclaimed.
“Maybe our paws were meant to be played with,” her brother mused, “all I can say is it feels bloody good.” Younger Brunetta unconsciously reached over to the toes of her right hind paw with her left fore and began playing with her toes. Then she looked up into the camera above her and then at the screen on which she’d so recently viewed the footage that had changed her life. The screen showed a close up view of herself sitting in the lie up, her right hind paw cradled in her right fore, playing with her toes. To check this wasn’t a digital trick, Brunetta wiggled the toes of her free left hind paw and stuck her tongue out at the camera. This made her brother laugh helplessly and younger Brunetta herself become tearful. She’d tried to break his love for his paws and those of his sire with violence, whereas he’d taught her with words, touch and kindness.
“How does playing with your own toes feel?” Older Brunetta asked. Her daughter cub smiled with genuine pleasure.
“Wonderful,” she replied. Younger Brunetta then realised something else. Her paws had guided her to her brother’s paws because they wanted to feel a gentle touch, and Nanuq junior was very gentle. Then she revised her thoughts. It wasn’t her paws who’d wanted to feel gentility, she had. Younger Brunetta then did something she never thought she could or would ever do ever do. Letting go of her right hind paw, she went to her brother, took his left hind paw in both her forepaws and closed her eyes. Feeling his huge left forepaw covering the toes of his left hind paw and most of her own forepaws, she took a bee breath and relaxed totally before speaking to her brother.
“Brother Nanuq,” Younger Brunetta said, “I’ve always wanted this, but my own fear has stopped me from asking for guidance. Mum tried, our sire Nanuq tried, but I didn’t listen to either of them. You did, and look where you are now. I followed our mum into a career, but got nowhere because I hated the community I wanted to work within. Mum though, she got her work by being paws on, totally paws on! First she prepared vegetables for the community, and what did she use to control the knives she used to chop the veg? Her paws of course’s Then she got her job in the medical side of the community, and that is even more paws on. Mum used her paws, you use your paws, and Sire Nanuq uses his paws. I hated and feared my paws and the paws of others.”
“Do you still think paw play is unclean?” Nanuq junior asked. His sister shook her head, then leant down and gently kissed the toes of her brother’s right hind paw. Nanuq junior smiled at his sister.
“Love your paws my dear,” he said. Samson stared at the two bears in shocked silence.
“There was me thinking I’d have a war on my paws,” he mewed.
“A war over the paws maybe,” Older Brunetta replied. Younger Brunetta grinned hugely.
“I was disarmed by gentle paws,” she said, hugging her brother tenderly. Nanuq junior smiled with genuine pleasure.
“I want more paw contact! Lots more paw contact!” Younger Brunetta said suddenly. Nanuq junior smiled at his sister and kissed her nose.
“You are serious about this then,” Older Nanuq said. His daughter cub looked at him, and then took his damaged left forepaw in hers.
“I am,” she replied, “Nanuq, I’m sorry for attacking you and my brother.” Nanuq hugged his youngest cub, Young Brunetta smiling, her eyes filling with tears.
“I want to be shown how to enjoy my paws, not fear them,” younger Brunetta said softly.
“I will show you how to enjoy your paws,” her brother promised.
“Thank you,” Younger Brunetta said. Younger Brunetta went to her brother and kissed his nose, then the pads of his left forepaw. Samson stared at the bears in astonished silence.
“How, how can you reform that quickly?” Samson asked.
“I can reform quickly because I feared my own paws,” Brunetta said to her leader. Samson looked down at the she bear’s paws.
“You have very beautiful paws,” he mewed.
“I didn’t understand what was happening when my brother and sire stroked each other’s paws,” Younger Brunetta said, “but now, now I understand only too well, after, after my brother took hold of my right hind paw in his forepaws.”
“So you are repentant?” Samson asked. Younger Brunetta looked at him, totally confused.
“I am what?” She asked.
“Repentant, sorry for what you did,” Samson replied, stunned the bear could not understand his words.
“Yes, well more than sorry,” she replied. Samson looked into younger Brunetta’s eyes.
“If I see you attack anyone like you did earlier ever again, I’ll break your paws!” He snarled.
“Samson!” Allie snapped, padding in with
“Let’s face it,” Allie said, “you couldn’t break a bear’s paws Samson, not unaided, but they could break yours.” Samson looked at Nanuq junior’s powerful forepaws and had no trouble imagining them as powerful killing tools rather than things of play and pleasure.
“I’ll go now,” Samson said suddenly. With that he almost ran from the room.
Pounding to his lie up Samson nearly collided with fleur.
“That was stupid,” Fleur said, nodding at the screen where she’d just viewed the entire goings on in the other lie up.
“You don’t understand!” Samson pleaded. Fleur shook her head.
“No Samson, you don’t understand,” she said softly, “I work with Brunetta all the time, and she’s told me about bears. I know them better than most. Younger Brunetta’s change of heart is complete, and she will follow her paws, take it from one who’s followed hers all her life.” Samson looked down at the paws he loved dearly.
“You know more than anyone else about following your paws,” Samson mewed. Fleur looked into her mate’s eyes.
“You need not do the big leonine thing where those bears are concerned,” fleur said, “Sammy, they know how to police their own internal squabbles, and you were putting your paws in places they weren’t wanted. Let the bears do their own thing.” Samson kissed Fleur’s nose.
“I need to learn
quite a bit,” he mewed, “bear cubs aren’t lion cubs.” A huge paw landed on his, and Samson looked
up, straight into
“You are right there,” she said. Samson looked the huge female grizzly over.
“I don’t really
know you,” he said.
“Little Theo knows me better than my leader does,” she said. Samson knew as much.
“That cub,” he said, “Theo’s so observant and willing to learn, not like his sire.” The sound of paws entering the room made Samson looked towards the door, straight into the clear eyes of his white cub.
“Hi Theo,” Samson mewed, going to him and hugging him. The quarter grown cub smiled and embraced Samson tightly.
“Your mum and you often spend time together doing the very same thing,” she said. Theo smiled.
“Mum and I do yes,” he mewed. Samson looked at the lion that he’d sired. Theo was handsome, very handsome indeed. Samson touched his cub’s right forepaw, feeling his cub’s surprisingly strong paw beneath his pads. Theo removed his paw from beneath his sires, covering Samson’s paw with his, his toes gripping his sire’s paw. Samson felt the quarter grown cub’s strength in the grip of his paw, strength that while already immense, would grow as Theo grew into a handsome lion.
“Are you eating meat yet?” Samson asked. Theo shook his head.
“Not yet,” he replied. He was now approaching six months old, and had not yet eaten a single mouthful of meat.
“Will you ever try meat?” Samson said, realising he was pleading with his cub.
“No Sammy I won’t!” Theo replied.
“Why not?” Samson asked, though he thought he knew.
“Mum looks so lonely eating alone,” Theo mewed.
“Maybe that’s how she wants to eat,” Samson said, “you know, you can’t remain placing your paws in her paw prints forever Theo. You must try finding your own way.”
“If mum can get pregnant, carry, then give birth to a healthy cub while eating just vegetables and drinking milk I think I have little to worry about,” Theo said. Samson realised the white lion was right.
“I’m sorry Theo,” he said.
the lion snapped, “just leave me and mum alone Samson!” Theo looked at
“You twerp!” Fleur snapped, “Samson, for Eohippus sake! What the hell were you thinking?”
“I want my cub to eat meat!” Samson snarled, “Not eat veg like his mum when there’s no reason why he can’t eat meat. Theo is a lion, not a caribou! He should be eating meat fleur, like me, you and Clarence do! Talking of Clarence, does he eat veg too? If he does, if you’ve let him, I’ll go so bloody mad fleur, I really will!” Fleur looked down at her paws.
“I won’t pretend
he hasn’t been eating with Theo and
“I know, I know!” Samson growled, “But I just don’t like the idea of my cubs eating vegetables exclusively. There’s no need for them to do so! Theo will end up with allergies to all sorts of stuff if he carries on, just like his mum!!”
“I Think Theo’s going the wrong route!” Samson yelled, “For Eohippus sake fleur! He’s my bloody cub, not yours, so shut up!” Samson suddenly felt something crash into him, then he was falling, sprawling on the carpet, then Samson found he could hardly breathe!
talk sense shall we?”
“Sense?” Samson coughed, “what sense was there in
ambushing me? You could have killed me
“I knocked you down, that’s all,” the huge grizzly bear replied. Samson writhed beneath the bear’s paws, but he couldn’t get free.
“Talk sense about what?” Samson asked, his breath returning.
whom I think you mean,”
“You’re that family’s enforcer I suppose,” Samson growled.
“I’m the only
one you’ll take seriously,” Kamchatka corrected, “for if
“Ugh no! Sweet corn dipped in peanut sauce? What! How disgusting!”
“What are you doing?” He asked, as fleur, now having withdrawn the thing from the bowl of semi solid brown stuff, turned to him, holding the yellow thing, now covered in the brown stuff in her teeth by one end. Samson realised what she was doing and covered his mouth with his paw as she sucked down the long baby corn which she’d just smothered in peanut butter.
“That was a disgusting display!” Samson whimpered. Fleur grinned, picked up another corn and smothered that in peanut butter before consuming it with evident enjoyment.
“I can’t believe you eat that shit!” Samson moaned.
“Oh, like that
I just don’t
think Theo eating vegetables to the exclusion of everything else is
healthy!” Samson roared, still pinned
“Let him do his
nuts too my dear,”
“I could peanut sauce chicken or other meat for you Samson,” she offered helpfully. Samson shook his head.
“You’re not getting me to eat that peanut crap,” he snarled.
to the happy lion I used to know Sammy?”
if he’s any good at his job
“You just have
to let the bears sort their own quarrels,”
“I don’t know,” Samson mewed, “sometimes, well, sometimes I feel bears would make better leaders, but then I think of the family spirit of this community, and know bears don’t have that inclination, well most don’t. Nanuq and his son do, but most don’t. If us lions liked paw play as much as bears did, we’d be home and dry, but we don’t.”
“You love it,”
“It’s not just
playing with paws, it’s a bear’s versatility, how adaptable and resourceful you
bears are. Also, also, the ability you
have to accept those who are not of your species into your families. Kamchatka, Clarence loves you so much, he
speaks of you all the time, and he knows you and
“Are you feeling threatened by this?” She asked.
acknowledge that it is happening?” The
long haired lion asked.
“I don’t know it’s happening for sure, but if it did, would you feel threatened by it?” Samson lowered his eyes; it was quite clear how he felt.
“The community would disintegrate!” He roared, “It would be an unmitigated disaster!”
“But there are no others to take over,” the bear said, “the tigers couldn’t do it. They wouldn’t anyway. They’ve got less of a family ethic than us bears.” Samson groaned in misery.
“I must strengthen the hold I have on this community, if I don’t, it will fall to bits!”
“How about a
partnership between bears and lions?”
“There must be a community leader though, one whom everyone else looks to for guidance and leadership,” Samson wined.
got fragmentation in this,”
“How can I not be leader!” He roared, “Fleur, that’s dreadful!”
“No it’s not,”
Theo said padding into the lie up, “how would it be if Kamchatka spoke for the
bears and non ursine community members,
“Why should any of those three get jobs?” Samson roared.
“You can’t vote in your own mum,” she said, “its wrong!”
“Is it?” Theo mewed.
“I’ve been talking to some of the community, and mum has done things
which make her more than suitable for the role in my view.” Theo then told
“Yes, I know of her adoption of Simba and Rowena. She’s also very gentle n’all that, but she’s still your mum!” Samson said.
“I’m feeling something going on here,” Samson mewed.
“Yup, there is,” Nuru mewed, padding into the lie up, “you and I have no longer got jobs Sammy mate,” Nuru said. Samson stared at the lion.
“How?” He asked.
“Bears and other
community members have been meeting, and it has been decided that as the lions
have no real grip on the community any more, that the main groups within the community
would elect a representative, then the reps would meet and discuss major
issues, with every day things being sorted within family groups. Kamchatka,
“Rowena’s no horse!” Samson roared, “And what’s a horse doing in our community anyway, they hate us!”
“One horse doesn’t,” Rowena mewed, padding into the room.
“Oh, um, yes,” Samson mumbled, having forgotten about Eohippus.
“Who will look after the interests of the minority groups, such as the primates and woodlanders?” Samson asked.
“The who?” Theo asked.
“Baboons, badgers, otters,” Samson mewed.
“They’ll have to
align themselves with either the bears or the cats, probably the bears,”
“Have you consulted these minorities?” Samson asked.
“Did you when you
assumed you lead the whole community?”
“Um, ‘er, well, no,” Samson mewed, realising he’d not consulted the bears, who were no minority before he took over.
“Babi doesn’t worry about who leads the community,” Nyegere said, padding into the room, “and us badgers and other woodlanders, well, we’ll go with the bears. So Babi’s along with us really.”
“How about the mongoose?” Samson whimpered, remembering he had two young mongooses in the community.
“They’ll go with the badgers,” Nyegere replied, “Honeyfur, Percy and their cubs are with the bears, so the bears talk for badggers and Babi and the mongoose. Kalahari, the meerkat has abstained from voting, as he said he is above all that stuff. The pandas are with brown and polar bears. So that’s just about covered.”
“So we’re out of a job!” Nuru whooped dancing round the room on his toes like a cub.
confused!” Samson whimpered, closing his
“Open up?” She said gently, Samson instinctively opening his mouth, the bear dropping the sauce onto his tongue before quickly withdrawing the spoon in case he slammed his jaws shut on it. Samson felt his mouth burning!
“Ugh no!” He roared, running for the bowl of water which he drank like a dying lion.
“That stuff is disgusting!” Samson yelled.
“You don’t know until you try,” fleur mewed.
“Go away!” Samson mewed pitifully.
“So we can take it that you are in full agreement to change the structure of the leadership to a new style.” Theo said.
“Yes, I mean no, no Theo no!” Samson roared.
“Why not?” The white lion asked, “You don’t have mating rights, all you do as leader is wave your paws about and roar a bit. The bears aren’t respectful of you, even though some like you, they can’t be relied upon to defend the lions. It wasn’t the lions they were defending when Nuru here attacked the community in a former life, it was their community, and their way of life they were defending... we have many groups here, not just lions. So we now have a parliament, representative of everyone here.”
“I suppose,” Samson grudgingly replied, “though, please, let me speak to the whole community. I need to hear it from them.”
That night, every member of the community gathered in the great room, all except Ruslana and Afua, Ruslana unable to attend as she’d recently given birth to two cubs, which were less than three days old. Kodiak, up in the control room, fed a live link into Ruslana and Afua’s lie up, enabling them to be heard and see as well as hear the meeting.
Samson arrived a little late, determined to show the community he was still in charge. Samson stood on a raised platform as he’d been used to doing, the fabric feeling rough beneath his pads.
“”I call this
meeting to order!”
“Who’s that?” Portia enquired. Gosheven telling her.
“Tell Allie to
keep her cub quiet.” Portia
snapped. Allie gently subdued
“This is part of
community life, so get used to it!”
Allie hissed, slapping
your cub under control please,”
something to ask you all I believe,”
well,” Samson began, his paws sweating and anxiety plain for all to see, “I
want, want to clarify something. I’ve
heard, heard that you no longer want a lion as over all leader. That you’d rather have members of your own
species as leaders of your own groups.
My son Theo communicated this to me, as did
“We agree with the majority too Samson,” Ruslana said from her lie up, “so you are on your own. Samson left the room and fled to his lie up, throwing himself down and covering his face with his paws.
“They hate me,” Samson thought miserably, “I am reviled, chucked on the scrap heap.” A huge paw stroking his whiskers made Samson open his eyes. Fleur lay beside him.
“They don’t want me here any more fleur,” Samson whimpered. Fleur shook her head.
just wanted a change of leadership,” she said, “I’ll be quite blunt about it
and say your handling of the situation with younger Brunetta sort to confirm
the community’s feelings, but this would have happened sooner rather than
later. Lions can’t run a community full
of bears and tigers. The lions impose
family, whereas the other communities need to find family for themselves. Look at me for instance, I’m a tiger snow
leopard cross, infinitely solitary in nature, or that’s how I’m supposed to be,
but no, I love my family. Nanuq and
Nanuq junior are meant to be solitary male polar bears, but they aren’t. They love each other as much as they did when
Nanuq junior was a tiny cub, if not more.
Samson, community can’t be imposed; it has to be from within each and
every one of us. Law and order is upheld
by the consent of the majority. Now
“I suppose I need to focus on my family too,” he mewed, “for my cub hardly knows me.” Fleur covered his paw with hers.
“I think that might be a good idea,” she said.
“I’ve watched Clarence’s birth video over and over again,” Samson mewed, “and I still can’t believe he’s our cub. How was his birth for you fleur dear?”
“Painful and hard
work, but worth every straining effort,”
fleur mewed, “nothing like pretending to have a cub though, that’s easy,
giving birth for real is much harder work.
Though experience acting out cubbings does help when the real thing
comes along, because you can express yourself without worry. Mewing, growling, puffing and panting are all
in a day’s work, but the pushing isn’t.
When I act out cubbings, I’m bracing my paws during a mock
contraction. When cubbing for real, its
grip with all four paws and push down into the tail rather than the soles of
the hind paws. Giving birth to Clarence
was a bit of a squeeze, for he was a large cub, and I had to push really hard
to bring him into the world.
“I’ve seen the birth of Allie’s youngest cub,” Samson mewed, “it’s a wonderful video. Fleur, thanks for talking about the birth of our cub. While it’s public viewing, what happened to you is private stuff. I was part of that time with you, and I will never forget it, but you need not tell me everything.”
“Samson,” fleur replied, “I saw the joy on your face as you played with Clarence that first night. I knew your joy, for I felt it too. You want to know what I felt during the birth of our cub, and that’s fine, for I want to share it as best I can. I’m not ashamed of mewing, crying, pushing and sweating, for it’s natural during the birth of a cub.” Samson remembered the mock cubbings fleur was fond of springing on him. She would suddenly get an urge to act out a cubbing, sometimes in the middle of the night. Samson would help her through her imaginary labour, and then both would settle down. It seemed to Samson fleur needed the mental stimulation which something as intense as a cubbing provided. The lion knew Arki re-enacted cubbings for the very same reason, it was a challenge and she liked it.
“I like helping you during your mock cubbings,” Samson mewed, “and I would have helped you during the birth of our real cub.”
“I know,” fleur
mewed, “but I didn’t want it then. My
focus wasn’t on myself really, it was on
“Can I love this
cub?” Samson asked. Allie smiled as
“I don’t know what to say!” Samson choked.
“Love me, love my cub,” Allie said. Samson smiled:
“I do,” he mewed.
Meanwhile, in another part of the house, Arki was talking
for another female bear to help with preparing the mother’s to be for cubbing,”
Arki said to the huge grizzly.
“And you want me to help?” She asked, “I have helped with Allie’s last confinement, but that was winging it a bit, remembering my own cubbing more than anything else, and asking her what she wanted to do.”
Arki said, “but helping mothers to be and their mates is a bit more than
that. You did a wonderful job, but
there’s another bit to it. Have you ever
seen fleur acting out a cubbing?”
acting out a cubbing is a way of preparing the mother to be and her mate for
the actual event, well sort of?”
“Yes,” Arki replied, “fleur does it for the cats, and I do it for the bears and other woodlanders, either talking them through it before the event, or if they are a bear, acting out a cubbing so they know what to expect.”
“And you want me
to learn to act as if I’m giving birth to a cub?”
“I would like it if you’d give it some thought,” Arki replied, “for you’d be good at it. You’ve seen it, done it, and could relate to mothers to be. I would ask Bramble or some other polar bear, but Allie’s got her security job, and Bramble’s not had cubs yet.”
“How is it
“It’s all in the mind,” she replied, “You have to be in the right frame of mine to do it. Once you get going, the emotion takes you and you can’t stop until you’ve had the cub.”
“And you want to
“Yes, now,” Arki
said, “Just work with me as you did Allie.”
“Is it first
“Not time for
help yet, but your time will come soon,” she said, “While we’re in the first
stage, I would like you to run your paws from my nose to the pads of my paws,”
“Feel my paw
pads,” Arki said, “explore them with your own paws. Get to know my paws.” Kamchatka did, Arki curling the toes of all
four paws around whichever of
really getting going now,” she gasped after about an hour.
“What do you want me to do?” She asked.
“Hug me, hold
me, please!” Arki begged,
“Oooaahahahah!” Arki roared as the first serious contraction hit. Wriggling, kicking and grunting, Arki twisted and fought her way through her pain.
“I want, must, get some pain relief now!” Arki panted.
“Do you want me
to massage your hind paws?”
“Work your magick
on my paw,” Arki gasped, “Oooh it’s getting worse!” Arki suddenly opened her mouth and screamed
with pain, curling the toes of the hind paw
“Oh, ah, ow, ah,
ow! Ow! Ow, ow ow!oh! Awowowowwowoow!
“I can’t fight
this!” Arki panted, “Must, must push
well Arki, so well!”
“Cub’s close now, really close!” Arki panted in a lull between contractions which gripped her every few seconds now, “I want to give birth squatting!”
contraction and we’ll get up,”
“I want my hind paws massaged, and I can’t while like this!” Arki panted.
“Try a crawling
now!” Arki roared.
“Oahahaahah must push! Push, push push!” Arki said, her voice strangled with the effort.
“Go on Arki, you
can do it!”
“How far have I got,” Arki asked.
“I know that!” Arki growled, “I can feel that!” Arki set to pushing some more, Kamchatka half trying to see what Arki was doing to give realism to her act, and half trying to be the concerned midwife, for she was now really concerned.
body’s out now,”
“I hope so too!” Arki panted.
“Now you know how much of me it takes to give a good re-enactment,” Arki replied, “every hair of my body, every pad on my paws, everything.
“While you were
pushing against your cub while sitting down you pressed your hind paws into
mine and your own forepaws,”
“I pushed down against my forepaws, lowering my head until my nose nearly touched the floor. That’s how I do it.”
“But you were
groaning, screaming and grunting,”
pain.” Arki replied, “But I’d got into
character, I was having that cub
“Wow!” Someone said, “That was amazing!”
“What are you
“This is adult stuff!” Arki protested.
“No it’s not,”
“Was that how mum gave
birth to me?”
“That was amazing,”
the cub said, “Arki, would you let me take
“I think I’ll be
having the next cub,” Kamchatka said, “You can help me
“I can’t massage your
“I’ll give birth to my
cub on all fours, just like Arki did, so you can stroke my hind paw,” Kamchatka promised, “but before |I do that, I
think you’re mum is here now, and she might want to take you home.” Allie padded in, and
“Arki was really screaming and grunting,”
“You shouldn’t have seen that,” she said sternly.
“You can watch your birth on video if you want,” Allie said, “now let’s go home!”
“Oh all right,”
“I think she saw
“No harm in that,” she replied.
“It’s a good thing I’m
used to playing with my own paws isn’t it,”
“Your turn next,” she
said, “your turn to have an imaginary cub.”
“I can hardly wait, and neither can the cub,” she replied.
“This is bad, really
“Must get a grip on
“Cub’s nearly here, one
“Cub’s here now,” Arki
“How was that?” She asked.
“I couldn’t get a paw in edgeways, but it was unusual,” Arki said.
“I made it as different
from your cubbing as I could manage,”
“How did it feel for you?” Arki asked.
“I watched everything,
from your face contorted in what seemed real pain, to your paw pads and toes
curled and bunched up with effort,” Arki said, “
“Thanks,” she replied.
“That was real
“How did you get back here?” Arki asked.
“Mum dropped me off at
the lie up and left me, so I escaped,”
“Mum’s right behind
you,” Allie said.
“Mum nothing, you are a
disobedient cub!” Allie yelled, smacking
her cub hard with her paw.
“I wanted to see a cubbing; I wanted to see a cubbing! She wailed.
“You will be confined to your den if you don’t obey my instructions!” Allie growled.
“I thought I could
“Let it go Allie,”
“I wanted her to be introduced to cubbing gently,” Allie said.
“Cubbing? Gentle?” Arki said, “That’s a joke!”
“You enjoy the
“The cubbing isn’t the point,” Allie replied, “it’s the fact I put her in the lie up and she ran off!”
“Crawled away I think,” Arki corrected.
“Oh all right, crawled away,” Allie snapped.
“I wanted to ask how I
“Okay, all right!” Allie snarled, now confused and outwitted, “curiosity was the reason for your disobedience. Bears are naturally curious, so yes, okay.”
“Do you want to feel me
having a cub?” Kamchatka asked
“That cubbing was violent,” Allie said, “you’ll hurt her if she gets too close, even if you don’t mean to.”
“I can do everything I
did earlier but make the cubbing slow and gentle,”
“Yes please!” She enthused.
“The cub’s nearly here,”
“Cub’s nearly here
“Come on, get that cub
“The cub’s born now,”
“That was wonderful,”
she said. Kamchatka smiled and gave
“You believed in that
cub didn’t you,”
“I did,” she
replied. Kamchatka examined her
forepaws, and then asked
“Two bears loving each other,” Allie said. Arki smiled:
“Yes,” she said.
“I can copy what you
“I couldn’t have laughed
like you did while I was in pain,”
“I know,” she replied,
“I was only playing Kamchatka,”
“You did well, really
“I do, and so do Arki
“They have real cubs
“I would like to see
you have another cub,”
“I almost want to have
the cub right now,”
awawawawowowow!” She screeched, curling
the toes of her right hind paw hard round her forepaws and kicking with her
free hind paw.
oww,!!” She moaned.
“Can I touch your
“What can I do to help?”
“Just, just be with me,
help me that way!”
“Avow, ow ow ow!”
“Got to push some
more, have this cub, got to have this cub!”
“Go on, don’t worry
about my paws, push into them if you want to!”
“Go on, push!”
“The cub’s on its
“This cub’s nearly here
“owww owww owww owww
owww owww,! Cub’s coming, really coming
“The cub’s forepaws,
head and body are out, pant
“It’s nearly over!”
“That was amazing!” Kamchatka said,
“Thank you for letting
me get close to you,”
“If you act like you
did during a real cubbing, I’d like you to be close to me again,”
“I love you dearly,”
“I love you too,” the
grizzly bear sobbed, holding
“That was amazing
“I think all cubs should be shown a cubbing as soon as they can understand what it is,” she said, “it should not be hidden away.” Theo and Clarence padded in smiling broadly.
“That was amazing
Kamchatka,” they said, Kamchatka still absorbed in hugging
“We should not be
ashamed of how we look during cubbing,”
I didn’t know
“Where’s your cub
“It was a pretend
cubbing!” She whooped. Nanuq looked deflated, as he realised he’d
been taken in. He’d seen Kamchatka’s
first attempt at re-enacting a cubbing, and hadn’t seen her first demonstration
“It felt real enough,
well, sort of,”
“It looked very real
“That’s a real
“Many of us who learn to act out cubbings use it as stress relief,” Arki replied, “had a bad day? Take it out by screaming and squealing, rolling and kicking until you’ve had enough.”
“But surely with the videos there’s no need for this acting any more?” Allie suggested, only half serious.
“No mum, don’t say
“You know how
it’s done!” She snapped, “You were doing
“Didn’t you want your mum to show you things over and over?” She asked. Allie swallowed hard.
“Yes,” she said, “I think you know how that feels too Allie dear.” Allie looked at Nanuq, the male polar bear going to her and hugging her.
“You can love
your parents, both absent and present,” Kamchatka said, “
“I love you
too,” he said.
“Please would you
show me how you held the toes of your hind paws with your fore?” She asked.
“First of all,”
she said, “can you sit up?”
“Now reach forward
and take your right hind paw in your right fore, like this,”
feels, feels lovely!” she exclaimed.
Kamchatka smiled as
“I love this, I
“What’s more amazing is that you’ve sat up for the first time in your life!” Allie said.
“Right, now I’ve
stroked my hind paws and held them in my forepaws too, can I learn how to take
the toes of my hind paws in my fore?”
“Take hold of the
toes of both hind paws with your forepaws and roll backwards,” she
grip with all four paws and then push with your hind paws and pull with your
“I must free my hind
paws from my fore!”
“Just relax into it,”
“Now push and pull at
the same time.”
“Now you have hold of
your hind paws with your fore, try curling your toes harder from time to time,”
“This is a real
challenge,” the cub said, “so you do this, and whenever you curl your toes hard
into each other, you groan with effort?”
“What would you do if you were me?”
If, if I wanted to act like
I was pushing against a cub, I’d make sound while curling my toes and push
against my paws, then pant while I relax them,”
“Cubs have always played at giving birth,” the grizzly said, “it’s a fun game, pretend play is wonderful.” A; Alaska smiled, then curled the toes of all four paws, pulling with her fore and pushing with her hind, whimpering, rolling and panting as she tried to increase the pressure on the toes of all four paws.
“Oooh owwwww owwwwww, awwww aoaoaoaaowwwww!” She whimpered.
“That’s how I do it,”
Kamchatka said as
“So this also works to
strengthen your legs and paws!”
“It does,” Kamchatka
“But that’s my job!” She whimpered.
“All the things we do
during cubbing are linked to paw play which you learn to do as a cub,” she
replied, “learn to play with your paws and enjoy that, then you can cope with a
cubbing by playing with your paws.”
“When I held my right
hind paw in my right fore, I felt the pads bunching as my toes curled, that
felt wonderful!” She exclaimed. Kamchatka turned and kissed
“We’ll show you the
birth of your sister younger Arki,”
Kamchatka said, “you can see that for yourself then decide if you still
want to help.”
“I want to help, I want to help!” She said enthusiastically.
Allie showed her youngest cub the video of the birth of her older sister.
“You’re in pain mum,” Alaska said, You’re squeezing your toes and playing with your paws, then on all fours, just like Arki was during the mock cubbing, you’re pushing against younger Arki.”
“What did you feel when you saw my pain and heard me squealing?” Allie asked her youngest cub.
“Mum,” she said, giving
Allie her tiny left forepaw, “I wanted to help, I really wanted to help.”
“I knew I shouldn’t have shown you that!” Allie snapped furious with herself.
“No mum, I want to see
“That was an act,” Allie said, “my cubbing wasn’t.”
“I know mum,”
“Okay,” she said.
“I can see the video
still affects you mum,”
“How?” Allie asked, for she could not lie to her cub.”
“You took your right
hind paw in your right fore and played with your toes the whole way through,”
“Contractions are like constipation,” Allie said, “I wanted to squeeze my hind paw with my forepaws as hard as I could throughout the video. Even now it’s finished I want to do it, but I know I’m not having a cub, so I stop myself.”
“Go on mum,”
“This is wrong!” Allie sniffed, “I’m not having a cub, Allie, for Eohippus sake, you’re not having a cub! But, but I must squeeze my hind paw, I want to so much!”
“Go on then mum,”
“Must try and fight it!” Allie whimpered.
“No mum, don’t worry,”
“Oaowwww! Aaahhhh!! ow, ow owww!” She whimpered, “I must try harder, much
harder! Both hind paws, hold both hind
paws, that’s it, owwwwwarhrhrhrhrhh, ow ow, ow ow!” Allie gripped the toes of both hind paws with
her forepaws and lay on her back, much like
“Got hold of my hind paws in my fore now,” Allie thought frantically, “now, now, must push, must push, got to push, oh, ow! Oooh! This hurts, but, oahhh! Oooooowwww! Must Push, ooooooaaaaaawwwwwaaaoooaaahh! Allie push! You can do it!” Allie pressed down against her forepaws with her hind, grunting and moaning in agony.
“What the hell’s going on!” Sam asked, bursting in.
“Mum will be all right
in a minute,”
“I’m going for fleur!” Sam said, “This is wrong!”
“No Sam, no!” Allie gasped, “Let me get through this,
please! I will be okay, just, just leave
me to it.” Sam turned to
“You’d better explain this bloody well!” He snapped, storming out. Allie, now left alone, puffed, blew and then strained hard, bearing down into her hind paws with all her might.
“This is helping, it’s working, must push more though, must push more!” Allie gasped.
“That’s it, that’s
Aowwww, owwwwwwahhh! One more push
should do it!
“That’s it!” Allie panted, “The cub’s born!”
“What on earth was that for?” Sam asked. He’d returned with Rowena.
“She’s let go of a
force within her that she’s been keeping under wraps ever since she had her
first cub Sam,” the white lioness said, “Allie can’t explain it, and so I
will. Ever since she had Orsa and Bjorn,
she’s been keeping a flashback of a cubbing hidden. The birth of her first cub was traumatic, and
she hid it until now. She had to
re-enact that birth to cleanse her mind.
“You had two cubs on
the ice didn’t you mum,”
“I couldn’t help it!” Allie sobbed, “I just had to do that, I just had to give birth to my first cub again!”
“Can you let that cub
“I can, now, now I’ve given
birth to the cub properly,”
“I want to help mothers to be mum, please, let me help them!” Allie smiled and kissed her cub’s paw pads, slowly kissing the pads of each paw in turn.
“I love you
“I love you too
mum,” she whispered. Allie and
“You need not
feel guilty about the death of your first cub mum,”
“Thank you for giving me the courage to let things take their course,” she whispered.
cub’s name was
“I believe more
strongly than ever now that you came into the world to help mothers to have
“I will help
them and their mothers too!” She said,
“I promise mum, I promise!” Allie kissed
“You helped me
“I don’t want
praise or plaudits,” the cub said, “but thanks for saying that mum.” Kamchatka, padding into the room, beckoned to
finished there, could I hug you?” She
“You go, go to
“No, no mum, I won’t go, not, not until you are okay.” Allie wiped her eyes with the back of her paw.
“I’m okay,” she
gasped, “I’m, I’m okay
“I’ll go to
Kamchatka, but if you need me again, you only need to call,”
Once Kamchatka was asleep,
“Ow, owwww! Ow, ow ow!” The voice said.
“Are you all right?”
“I’m having a cub, I am
pregnant, was pregnant, and walking through the wood, I got my right hind paw
stuck down a hole, and while trying to free it contractions started. Digging my paw out, I managed to crawl here,
and now, now things are awful!”
“owwwo, owww! Ow, ow,
ow, ow! owwwwahh!owwwwwwooowwww!” The
animal screamed and groaned some more.
“Are you a female
“Yes, yes, brown
bear!” She screamed, “Must push!” The brown bear female raised herself on her
forepaws as much as she could in the confined space, braced the toes of her
hind paws against the ground and heaved.
“Do you want me to
stroke your hind paw?”
“Yes, I mean no, no,
no, no! Ow! Ow! Owwww! Oh I don’t know,
ok yes, well, no, oh, ow! Ahh owww! I don’t know really, okay yes! Anything to help this pain!” the brown bear mother yelled.
helping!” The mother bear wailed, “Ow,
ow, ow ooow aaowwww!”
“Push once more, go on
“Cub’s here now,”
“But you’re a cub yourself!” She exclaimed, “You shouldn’t be out here in this weather.”
“I know she shouldn’t!” Allie snapped, having tracked her cub with scent and paw prints to the bush and heard everything, but been to amazed and angry to interveen.
“So you’re her mum?” The brown bear asked. Allie nodded.
“Has she been harassing you?” Allie asked.
“No,” the mother bear replied, tears filling her
eyes,” no,” she swallowed hard, fighting
for control, gripping the earth with her forepaws, “polar mama, your cub, she
helped me through the birth of my own cub.”
Allie stuck her head beneath the bush for a better look, seeing
your cub, please!” The mother brown bear
pleaded, “She was good to me.” Allie saw
the mud and fluid on
“I really want
to help out mothers to be now mum,”
“I know,” she sniffed.
wonderful!” The brown bear said.
“You have been
very good here
“Let’s get you indoors!” Allie said.
“Mum, please, let me roll onto my back, like this,” Alaska said, rolling onto her back, “then hold my paws up in the air, I can then catch rain and feel it on my paw pads. Wow! That’s wonderful!” She then sat up, scooped mud up with her left forepaw and, smiling broadly, rubbed mud into the pads and sole fur of her right hind paw.
“I’m just going
to rub mud into my other hind paw, and then I’ll come home, promise,”
rub mud into the pads of my hind paws?”
She asked, “I would do it myself, but I have a cub I need to look
“We’ll need a
“But it feels
wonderful to be covered from nose to toes in mud!” She whooped.
. Alaska smiled at her mother,
padded to the brown bear mother and touched her paw, the mother bear lowering
her head so her face was level with Alaska’s,Alaska kissing the brown bear
“I think we’ll
give the brown bear mother and her cub a home mum,”
“But Samson will go mad!” She protested.
leader any more,”
“My name’s Olga,” the mother bear said smiling.
“Thank you for your help earlier,” Olga said, “I don’t know your name yet, but thank you.”
“My name fits
my current position,” Olga said, “for I feel blessed with the presence of your
“A month old today,” Allie replied. Olga gulped hard.
gentle, so knowledgeable too, she helped me have my cub Allie, and she was wonderful,
calm and so, so gentle. She should be
paws on with all cubbing mothers I think, for even though we’d never met, by
the end of my confinement, about twenty minutes after hearing
“How did you give
birth to your cub?” She asked. Olga, unashamed, released
“this was the only position I could get into quickly and comfortably,” Olga said, sitting up once more, “I know giving birth to my cub on my back or sitting on my backside reclining a little would be easier, but I couldn’t get into that position, so there I was when your cub came rolling down the slope and crashed into the bush. It was that which woke me from a semi dazed sleep full of pain and fear. I then lost my fear as the toes of a tiny cub touched the sole pad of my left hind paw. Allie, please believe me!” Allie did, and told Olga so.
“A lovely cub,” Allie said gently, “have you thought of a name for her?”
“How about Helga,” Olga suggested, “for she’s as blessed as I feel today.” Allie smiled broadly.
“I like that,” she replied.
“I love you
“My mum loves
you a lot,” the cub said, “and so do I.”
“You do know
that not all cubbings work out well,” Ruslana said, padding into the room
having been given the low down by Fleur who was watching everything from the
“Come with me,”
Ruslana said, leading
“Go in peace
“I thought you’d react badly to dead cubs,” Ruslana mewed.
“Why should I
“No reason,” Ruslana replied, overwhelmed by the polar bear’s gentility towards her dead cub.
you’d be able to scare me off?”
“No, but, but, I thought,
thought you bears, well, you wouldn’t be so gentle with the cubs of other
species,” Ruslana said. Alaska was about
to leap to her paw in preparation to run out the door in disgust when she felt
something take her right hind paw with desperate strength. Ruslana looked down at the owner of the paws
“Don’t you ever try to make out that my cub would attack or treat anyone without respect?” Allie screamed, having watched everything from just outside the door.
“I’m sorry, so, so sorry,” Ruslana mewed, hiding her face with her paw, as if that would do any good. Allie snorted, and then whacked Ruslana round the head with her paw! Ruslana screamed with pain and collapsed on the floor, knocked unconscious.
“Showing my cub a dead cub is one thing, impugning her integrity is another!” Allie screamed at Gosheven who ran in at the sound of his daughter cub’s scream.
“Ruslana wasn’t, she didn’t!” Gosheven shouted.
“She dam well
did!” Allie yelled, stamping her paw,
“Got to go little
“I didn’t mean
to impugn your cub’s integrity you stupid polar bear!” Ruslana screamed hysterically. Allie turned and spat at the lioness, before
turning tail and padding down the stairs with her cub.
“Don’t leave me
again, please!” Helga pleaded.
“I love that, I
love that!” She whooped. Olga looked at her cub and at
“I hate Ruslana; I
hate her for what she did!” Allie
“Mum, it’s okay,”
“I know that
“Now let’s get you
clean,” Allie said softly. Allie and
“Roll onto your
“I think your cub’s lovely too,” Allie replied, kissing Olga’s nose. Olga smiled shyly.
“What is a feral bear doing in here?” Samson roared.
“This feral bear had a cub three hours ago Sammy dear,” Allie replied, “and you have no say as to who comes into or leaves here any more.” Allie flicked her paw in the shower, soaking Samson.
“You crazy thing!” Samson roared, spitting water.
“I helped Olga
here have her cub!”
“I wish we’d caught this on camera,” he mewed.
“She wouldn’t, would she?” He asked.
“If only I’d given birth to my cub in here,” Olga said, “I know this place, that’s why I was so close, I was coming here to ask for sanctuary when I got my hind paw stuck down a hole, and the rest is history. I know you record the births of all the cubs on video, and I wish we could have recorded Helga’s birth warts and all.”
“You might be in luck,” Nanuq said round a DVD held in his teeth. He threw it on the tiles at Olga’s feet.
“One DVD of a brown bear female having her cub,” he said.
“How did you get that?” Allie enquired.
“Secret cameras under a bush!” Nanuq laughed, “They were to monitor badgers, but we got a lot more than that tonight!”
“Oh wow, oh how
wonderful!” Olga said, nearly crushing
the DVD under her right forepaw as she danced for joy.
“I might be able to watch my cub’s first patient having her cub without feeling guilty about my own first cub’s birth and death,” Allie thought.
Half an hour later, the DVD was in the player and Allie,
The video started with a shot of the space beneath the bush,
then the sound of crawling paws, scuffing leaves and whimpering, which heralded
Olga’s arrival. Olga settled down on the
leaf litter, clearly very uncomfortable.
Olga, lying on her chest, wriggled and twisted, screaming into her
forepaws as she bore her pain. Then she
gripped the ground with her forepaws, the toes of her hind curled tightly as
she clenched her teeth and rode out her worst contraction yet, ending it by
wailing in agony. It was then that
“Ow, owww! Ow, ow ow!” Olga yelled.
“Are you all
“I’m having a
cub, I am pregnant, was pregnant, and walking through the wood, I got my right
hind paw stuck down a hole, and while trying to free it contractions
started. Digging my paw out, I managed
to crawl here, and now, now things are awful!”
Ow, ow, ow, ow! Owwww, aaaahh! Owwwwwwooowwww!”
The she bear screamed and groaned some more.
“Are you a
“Yes, yes, brown
bear!” She screamed, “Must push!” The brown bear female raised herself on her
forepaws as much as she could in the confined space, braced the toes of her hind
paws against the ground and heaved.
“Do you want me
to stroke your hind paw?”
“Yes, I mean no,
no, no, no! Ow! Ow! Owwww! Oh I don’t
know, ok yes, well, no, oh, ow! Ahh owww! I don’t know really, okay yes! Anything to help this pain!” The brown bear mother yelled.
helping!” The mother bear wailed, “Ow,
ow, ow ooowww aaowwww!”
“Push once more,
go on push!”
“Cub’s here now,”
“But you’re a cub yourself!” She exclaimed, “You shouldn’t be out here in this weather.””
“It was then I came in,” Allie said, drying her eyes with her
everything,” she said, “but we didn’t intervene, for we knew you Alaska
wouldn’t be able to resist Olga’s cry for help.
“Thank you for leaving us to it,” Olga said, “for now Helga and I have a very special polar bear cub friend.”
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