top of page
Baby with Teddy Bear

Walking in the Squares

(c) Linda Hutchison April 2020

Note: If you are unfamiliar with AA Milne's poems Disobedience and Lines and Squares, I recommend you read them before reading this story.

The Council of Great Bears was gathered in the Ursa Major constellation, seated in a circle. The Greater Polar Bear, in full leather and iron battle armour, raised his magnificent head and spoke solemnly.

“I am very saddened that it has come to this, but we have no choice. We must act now.”

His comrades looked at each other and nodded slowly.

“It is time to implement Zaghar-Opus.” The statement came from the Elder Kodiak Bear, who bore the Staff of Peace. The staff was delicately wrought in silver and inlaid with lapis lazuli. She stood and walked to the central altar. Here she held the staff aloft and spoke the words they all knew by heart. Their ears turned away, not wanting to hear what had to be said.

Zaghar-Opus I release

Upon the earth to soak in peace

May all destruction and war cease

And awe and wonder instead increase

I declare cessation of their lease

The end of mankind’s selfish caprice

Heal those hearts with raw unease

Warm their souls with golden fleece

Be now whole, earth, of one piece

Zaghar-Opus I release.”

Elder Kodiak Bear returned to her seat. She laid the staff carefully in her lap. They all bowed their heads gravely as a chorus of lyrebirds ascended around them. The song was at first gentle, sweet and melodic, and then it gained volume and angst as the sounds of human activity punctuated the divine refrain. At the height of the song, the sound of chainsaws, crashing timber and explosions rent the air around them, then it slowly quietened again to the sweet sound of fairy wrens, thornbills and fantails, and finally the raw, honest choir of authentic lyrebird notes. When the song died away, and the birds retreated, the Noble Giant Panda rose to address his fellow leaders.

“The Honorable Horseshoe Bat Legions have long known that this day would come, as have the Royal Pangolins. Their sacrifice will long be remembered and honoured across our kingdom.”

The leaders nodded their agreement and pressed their armoured paws to their breastplates.

“Hail Zaghar! We will meet again at the next moon.”

The Council of the Great Bears returned to their earthly domains. As the stories of death and terror reached them over the next few weeks, they could only reach inside themselves and feel the full weight of grief that man had brought upon himself.

At the next full moon, the Council regrouped and shared their news.

“The dispersion has been effective in Europe and the United Kingdom,” reported Lord Brown Bear. “The humans adopted the herd approach as expected, but unfortunately the method of transmission seems to have been more fatal than predicted.”

Governor Black Bear rose in her place, with tears in her large brown eyes.

“North America has been decimated by the toxicity of the carrier. It also appears to have had a negative impact on their ability to reason and act with common sense. There have been untold losses, but some from frightful acts of violence rather than the carrier. However, the dispersion there too has been effective.” She sat down slowly, heavy with anguish.

Next the Spectacled Bear stood, then looked down and drew a deep breath before raising his eyes again to speak.

“Transmission in the South Americas has been very widespread, but it appears that there is less impact on the humans. Perhaps they are hardier, living closer to the land as they do. I pray that Zaghar will strengthen you, brothers and sisters,” nodding to his companions who had already shared.

“Africa has been similarly covered,” affirmed Sheikh Atlas Bear, “with a small loss of life. I agree about their ability to withstand the carrier due to their self-sufficient lifestyle.”

Major Sloth Bear called, “The same happened in the Sub-Continent. Transmission is complete.” Mother Moon Bear and Sister Sun Bear indicated similar experiences to those who had spoken. Noble Giant Panda was next to rise.

“Clearly it is time to implement the next phase. The tags are in place for processing. Let the final command be given.”

Silver fur shining in the light of the stars surrounding them, Spirit Bear walked to the altar with the Orb of Sacrifice. She carefully placed it in the carved onyx holder. Ornately engraved, and inlaid with emeralds, rubies and diamonds, the gleaming gold orb appeared to grow larger in the light. Spirit Bear held both paws aloft and recited,”

Zaghar-Opus, your time has come,

Let all of earth be joined as one,

And those whose hearts now do oppose,

May your spirit forever transpose.”

She backed away from the altar and pointed to the moon. “Mother Moon Bear, is everything in place for their arrival?”

“Yes, all has been prepared.”

Spirit Bear then turned to question Elder Kodiak Bear.

“And the appointed ones? Those of the Golden Fleece?”

“They are aware of the danger. They have been prompted.”

“Let us go then. We meet again next moon.” The Council dispersed.

In a small, neat house in London, a young boy and his mother were debating about a trip into town.

“Mother, you must go down with me. I’ll take great care of you.”

“But James, I can be back in time for tea. And you’re only three.”

“But the bears, Mother. You must watch where you step.” She looked in confusion at him.

“Wait in the lounge for me. Nanny has your fleece.”

As his mother stepped out of the door, he called after her.

“Remember to walk in the squares!”

The police arrived later that day.

“And you say your name is James? James Morrison?”

“Weatherby George Dupree,” proudly finished James. “Mother was wearing a golden gown.”

“She hasn’t been heard of since, young man.” The officers said they were sorry.

James looked up at the moon.

“Oh, silly bears.”


Walking in the Squares: Work
bottom of page