...in which we are introduced to Hans and some berries, and the story begins
One day, long, long ago, last Tuesday to be exact, the Bear brothers walked down the bramble path towards the old berry patch. Eddie, as he was known then, noticed a honeybee, which elicited a rumble from his tummy. And as a hungry bear will do, he followed the bee to find some honey. The bee led him off the path to the left. Francis, his brother, never saw him again.
At this point, Hans being called Francis may confuse you. Don't worry; it will make sense soon. Now, back to the story.
Francis, on the other hand, heard a rumbling in the bushes to the right, and being a bear of a curious nature he naturally leapt over the bushes to investigate. Unfortunately, the thick bushes obscured the cliff it skirted and Hans free fell, rolled and tumbled down the cliff, then splashed into a river. The river carried him far downstream to a muddy shore, which forever stained his tan fur with patches of dark brown.
As he sputtered and spat out river water, he spotted a little girl in a blue plaid dress watching him.
"Oh, hallo there," Francis said.
"Hello to you. Why were you swimming in such dangerously rapid waters?"
"I wasn't swimming. I mean, I swam to shore, but I didn’t start out that way."
"Why what other way is there to be in the water? Certainly you couldn't walk or run in that water."
"I fell in. Technically, I jumped in."
"That was a silly thing to do. You are a silly bear." The girl laughed and rocked holding her stomach. When she could laugh no more, she adjusted the blue ribbon in her hair, jumped off the rock she'd been perched on, and skipped over to Francis.
"My name is Greta and I shall call you Hans, and we will be the bestest of friends."
"My name is Fran—"
"Oh Hans, we will have such grand adventures together."
"Come along now." And with that, Greta grabbed the bear's right front paw and pulled him off the ground. Regrettably, the bear was unprepared and quite stuck in the mud so when Greta pulled, Hans stayed put with the exception of his right arm which made a terrible ripping sound and departed from the rest of the his body.
Greta flew back landing on her butt with a smack. She stared at the arm with fluff sticking out of it, then looked at Hans. Hans did not look happy. He looked rather peeved.
"Whoopsie," Greta said. "Looks like your stitching has come undone."
Hans scowled at the girl as he extricated himself from the mud and sticks and rocks that lined the shore. He snatched his arm back and muttered to himself as he attempted, in vain, to reattach his arm.
"I don't think that will work," Greta said while scrunching up her face in concentration and calculation. "We need something to stick it back on with. Here let me have it." She plucked the bodiless limb from the bear and started pulling out the loose thread.
"Please don't bother yourself with any more help," Hans said and tried to grab his arm back. But the girl was quick and jerked it away.
"You are very cranky for a bear that just went swimming and met his new best friend. Are you hungry? You must be hungry."
"I am most definitely not hungry." His stomach, however, did not agree and rumbled in protest.
"Follow me Hans. There are the most brightest red berries just up in the meadow. I can sew your arm back later."
Hans followed Greta, not as a matter of choice, but because she still had his arm. As they walked, she used his muddied, battered arm as a pointer to point out pointless things such as the "very big bush with sharp thorns that scratch when retrieving a ball from it" and the tree that's "hard to climb but worth climbing because the biggest beehive loaded with honey is up in the branches". Hans trudged along looking for an opportunity to grab his arm and run.
Soon, they reached the meadow, and indeed, there were bright red berries, the fattest, juiciest berries Hans had ever seen. Both Hans and Greta picked berries and plopped them into their mouths. Hans thought they tasted like sun-soaked currants with a hint of blackberries. Greta thought they tasted like a blend of strawberries and raspberries. They bickered back and forth and continued to eat more berries until they were stuffed. They laid back in the grass looking up at the sky.
Greta used Hans' arm as a pillow but Hans didn't seem to notice. Instead, he noticed how the clouds began to swirl and pulsate. "Did you notice how the clouds are not very cloudlike today?" he asked.
"What clouds?" Greta rolled over and looked at Hans. Her eyes had grown black leaving little white. She leaned in really close to Hans. "Hum?"
Hans wondered how she made her face elongate and why berries with wings were now dancing about her head. When they floated into one another, one would explode sending juice everywhere including all over Greta's hair and face. Soon the berries were at war with each other, lobbing Molotov cocktails at each other. It amazed Hans that it didn't bother Greta one bit.
Greta, on the other hand, cocked her head as she watched flowers dance on Hans' belly. "I didn't know flowers could dance."
"Oh, yes, every time the wind blows." Splat went another berry.
Greta watched the flowers build a house on Hans' tummy, which quickly turned into a town that was destroyed when a horde of bees attacked the flowers.
"I have an idea!" Greta jumped up, grabbed Hans and his limb and dragged him towards the unclimbable tree.
"You're a bear, you can climb up that tree and get us some honey," exclaimed Greta.
"I have a better idea, I can climb up that tree and get us some honey," Hans said and set about the task of climbing. He grasped the bark with his front paw and hooked his legs around the trunk. He didn't move so much as he shook.
"I need both arms." Hans got off the tree, snatched his arm back, and again attempted to climb the tree, but found it more difficult this time as he was holding his arm with this other arm.
"I know!" Greta said, "hold it in your mouth."
"That's a grand idea." With the arm securely in his mouth, he began to climb the tree. Up and up he went. And as he went up, something began to nag at him. Something he should be remembering.
Hans spied the beehive. It was the largest beehive he'd ever seen and indeed, honey oozed out from all manors of crevices. Wrapping his legs around the tree branch, he let his body swing upside down.
Hans took the arm from his mouth, plunged it into the beehive until it was good and covered with honey. He pulled it out and admired the golden sustenance covering his detached arm.
Some very mad honeybees buzzed around the hive in chaotic circles. When they stopped, they hung in the air turning their little stingers towards the wayward bear.
That something that had been nagging Hans suddenly popped into his brain. Honey meant bees, and bees meant ouchies. Hans looked around and realized he had no way down.
"Jump," yelled Greta, "I’ll catch you."
Hans let go of the tree and fell rapidly away from the bees and towards the ground and Greta's arms. Hans hit the ground with Greta still looking up at the tree not more than a foot from where he fell. Strangely enough, he felt no pain.
When he climbed out of the hole he'd punched into the ground, he saw Greta biting her lip still looking skyward.
"Where'd ya go Hans," she said still looking up.
"Pssst, down here," whispered Hans.
Greta slowly turned. She smiled, pulled Hans up and gave him a huge hug.
The two then ate honey until they could eat no more.
"Hans, this was the bestest day ever." Greta laid her head on Han's pudgy belly, which tickled the bear and he began to giggle.
Their tummies full, the two drifted off to sleep.
Greta did sew Hans' arm back on and she did a good job too. She also embroidered a heart on the arm with the words "Greta Forever" on it.
Hans and Greta would go on many adventures together and make several new friends, but that's for another time.
H.R. Sinclair writes urban fantasy and weird, sometimes really weird, fiction. You can visit her at www.iamhrsinclair.com.