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    Grumpy Bear
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Savage Beasts - 8. Allegheny Mountaineer Academy

“I think we can assume that Christopher’s destination is Mount Savage and his Papa’s mansion.” Gunnar said, addressing Ezekiel, Mike, Joel and Jacob. Gone were Axel, Thomas, and Sam who had taken ten additional bears from the camp and had gone back to Hacker Valley along with Alpha Nelson and Xander to confirm that all was clear and release the rest of the pack from the fallout shelter.

“If we draw a line on the map from Brian’s village to Hacker Valley, and then continue that line north, it points straight to Mount Savage.”

“We’ll need to fan out and post sentries at periodic intervals for the entire length of that line between Hacker Valley and Mount Savage,” Joel said. “If that’s their destination then we should be able to spot them somewhere along the way and alert the rest of the team as to their location.”

“That’s a good plan,” Gunnar agreed. “I think we should also let the remainder of the bear army in Atikokan know and have them travel to Mount Savage now to prepare for battle. I’ll also call Alpha Apollo and Susie in Chicago and have them mobilize the Lycan Council’s 1st Peacekeeping Infantry and meet the bears in Mount Savage as well. If we can pull this off, Christopher and his dababbi will encounter a wall of warrior lycans and bears before he can reach his Papa’s house, and any chance of retreat will be cut off by our advance team of bears coming in right behind him from the south.”

“Here’s what I don’t understand yet,” Mike said. “If Christopher is heading to his Papa to get his final revenge, and he stopped along the way to get revenge on the Hacker Valley pack for what they did to him 180 years ago, why did he wipe out Brian’s village first? What’s the connection?”

“I don’t know yet, Cub,” Gunnar replied. “That’s a wildcard right now, but if we can find out why, it may give us more insight into his motives.”

“We’ll need to speak with Archibald Arnold immediately,” Jacob said. “Let him know what his Cub has done, and what we think he is planning to do. Alert him that his town is about to be overrun with an army of wolf and bear lycans attempting to both protect him and stop his Cub once and for all.”

“Agreed,” Gunnar replied. “We should send a delegation immediately. Ezekiel, as the eldest, Archibald may respond to you the best.”

“Yes, I was just thinking the same thing myself,” Ezekiel said. “Gunnar, please make the calls to mobilize the Atikokan reserves and the Council’s 1st Peacekeeping infantry to Mount Savage as you said. I will take Joel and Jacob with me and we will meet with this Archibald Arnold and see for ourselves what kind of Papa has produced a sociopathic monster for a Cub.”

“When Thomas, Sam and Axel return with the rest of our advance team,” Mike said, “We’ll put Joel’s plan in motion. We’ll split them into two-bear teams and distribute them evenly between Hacker Valley and Mount Savage for sentry duty.”

“Excellent,” Ezekiel replied. “I think we’re as prepared as we can be for now.”

“I just wish we knew if Christopher has anybody else that he’s holding a grudge against between here and his Papa,” Mike said. “If so, they’re sitting ducks right now.”

****

Gary sat with his cadets in the gymnasium of the Allegheny Mountaineer Academy, going over the rules for the upcoming week’s primitive camping trip, and the general dos and don’ts for mountaineering survival.

Gary had been working at the Academy for twenty years now, and his co-workers attributed his never-changing appearance to his healthy living and athletic lifestyle. He had proven to be the most adept at handling a class of at-risk boys alone in the wilderness, and he had been taking groups of ten boys at a time for their survival tests in the forests of the Allegheny Mountains for fifteen years of his tenure.

The Academy was founded to give academically challenged teens a second chance at obtaining basic education and getting their GED. The goal was to train and mentor selected at-risk youth between the ages of 16 and 18 to become contributing members of society. During the late 1980's, the Archibald Arnold Foundation identified the need in our country to provide opportunities for young people working to overcome problems in their lives. In 1991 the Joint Armed Services Committee directed the National Guard to develop a plan to “add value to America” by providing values, skills, education, and self-discipline to young people, incorporating the structure and esprit de corps found in the military model. The Allegheny Mountaineer Academy’s three-year program soon became one of the most successful, thanks to the dedicated instructors and mentors like Gary.

The rest of the staff and cadets at the Academy knew that Gary was gay. None knew that he was a werebear. His bear nature made him the perfect mentor for the cadets’ wilderness survival tests.

“Rule One:” Gary said, addressing the ten 17-year-olds looking at him with attention, “Is that once we’re in the woods, I’m no longer ‘Mr. Arnold’. You can just call me ‘Gary’.

The boys all grinned. Mr. Arnold was the favorite instructor at the Academy. Getting to call him by his first name felt like a privilege, and it made him their friend.

“Rule Two: No eating in the tent. Food attracts wildlife. If you’re hiding a bag of Cheetos in your sleeping bag, you’ll soon be sharing it with bears, raccoons, ticks, and ants.”

The boys laughed and nodded their heads.

“Rule Three: Respect the fire. It’s bad enough if you get a burn when you’re at home. If you suffer a burn when we’re in the middle of nowhere, with no cell phone service and no doctors around, you’re fucked. Got it?”

“Got it,” the boys repeated, giggling that their instructor had just said a swear.

“Rule Four: Never go barefoot. You never know what’s underneath those fallen leaves or bed of pine needles. One wrong step can result in severe cuts and wounds. See rule 3. You’re fucked.”

The boys laughed again at the second swear. Gary was going to be their best buddy on this trip.

“Rule Five: Always wear your whistle. You all have whistles, right?”

The boys shook their heads.

“Well then, it’s time for you all to join ‘The Order of the Whistle’. Line up and get one.”

The boys jumped up from their seats and lined up in an orderly fashion with just a little elbowing and shoving, and Gary reached into his bag and passed out a whistle on a lanyard to each.

“These aren’t for blowing anytime just for fun, these are serious things, boys.” Gary said sternly. “You only blow your whistle if you get separated from the group and lost, and I’ll be able to come running to find you. Understood?”

They nodded their heads and put their whistles around their necks.

“Rule Six: Keep horseplay to a minimum. I’m not going to tell you that you can’t have fun on this trip, but if you screw around too much and aren’t paying attention to what you’re doing, there’s a million ways to get seriously hurt out there in the wilderness. And remember Rule 3. If you get seriously hurt out there, what are you…?”

The boys sat silently not wanting to be the first to say it. Finally, the smallest boy of the group piped up.

“You’re fucked, sir,” he said cautiously.

“Yes, Bill. Good job. You’re obviously paying attention.”

The other boys giggled again, and a couple of them gave Bill a friendly shove.

“Rule Seven: Always stick with your buddy. You have your buddy picked out, right? Grab your buddy’s hand and hold it up in the air.”

Five pairs grabbed each other by the hand and held them up.

“Good. Never go anywhere without your buddy. You hike together, you share a tent together, and you even shit in the woods together. Got it?”

“Got it,” the boys all said giggling. If the wilderness week was going to involve this much swearing, it was going to be a lot of fun.

“Rule Eight: No snacking on mushrooms or berries. Even if you think you know that those berries would be good to eat, or you think that you’ve found a secret horde of fancy morel mushrooms, the woods are not your refrigerator at home. You aren’t bears foraging in the woods to survive. Something that looks tasty could very well be poisonous, which brings us back to Rule 3 again. If you get poisoned out there in the woods, you’re…?”

“Fucked!” The boys all shouted together and erupted with laughter.

“Now you’re getting it,” Gary said with a big grin.

“Rule Nine: No petting the wildlife. Just assume that every squirrel, raccoon, or deer you see is crawling with ticks, because they probably are, and ticks carry Lyme Disease. They’re also more likely to bite you than they are to let you pet them, so just look from a distance and leave them alone.”

“And finally, Rule Ten: Respect the personal property of your fellow cadets. I don’t want to have to break up any fights out there in the wild because somebody took somebody else’s something and pissed them off, okay? If you need to borrow something that belongs to somebody else, ask first, and then make sure you give it back. Understood?

“Yes, sir!” The boys all said.

“Okay, that’s all for today. I want you to have a nice dinner and get a good night’s sleep, and then I’ll meet you right here at oh seven hundred sharp!”

The boys jumped up and thanked Gary, excited for the trip the next day. The week-long survival excursion was a milestone event for the second-year students, and each cadet eagerly waited for their group’s turn to experience a week in the wilderness with the big, handsome, and popular instructor.

Gary smiled as the last of the boys left the gymnasium and wondered what his life might have been like if he’d had someone to properly mentor him when he was that age.

Gary was born in the mid-1850’s and most of his childhood was consumed by the Civil War and the aftermath. He, his father, and his brothers lived in the middle of the conflict, near the border of Virginia and West Virginia. They were poor farmers and owned no slaves. His mother had died giving birth to him, and his father refused leave his young sons to take a side or get involved in politics. But even through his father and older brothers refused to go to war, the war unfortunately came to them. When Gary was only eight years old a fierce battle took place on their farmland. His father tried to defend their property and house but was caught in the middle of the bloodshed. In the end, their crops and home were burned, and his father and brothers were all killed. He was taken to a home for Confederate orphans in Roanoke to be given shelter, food, and a basic education.

Life in the orphanage was not ideal, especially when the other children found out that his father had refused to join the Confederate army. He was teased and beaten mercilessly. At mealtimes the bigger children would steal his food and try to knock his bowl out of his hands as he ate. In the warm months, he would take his ration of food at mealtimes and run outside into the woods where the other children couldn’t find him and where he could eat alone in peace.

When he had been living in the orphanage for six years and reached the age of fourteen, the mistress of the home informed him that he was old enough to make his own way in the world and sent him out on the road with one change of clothing and a dollar in his pocket.

Gary could find no one willing to take on a young apprentice at that time, and as he traveled, he found that he preferred to spend most of his time alone in the woods. He found a spot in the mountains with plenty of edible plants and wild game. He cut his own wood and built himself a sturdy shelter for protection from the cold of the winter. As the years passed, he improved his homestead with a simple log cabin, a few chickens and pigs, and a garden filled with vegetables, remembering all the things that his father had shown him when he was a very small boy.

One winter, when Gary was nineteen and had been living on his own for five years, a vagrant wearing tattered rags and deer skins wrapped around his feet came pounding on his door, begging for shelter from the blizzard that raged outside. Gary let the man in, fed him, and allowed him to warm himself by the fire.

The storm lasted several days, and over time he helped the man to get himself bathed, and he trimmed the man’s hair and beard to improve his disheveled appearance. Gary would have offered him some clothing to replace his tattered rags, but the man was so tall and muscular that nothing Gary owned could possibly fit him, so the man chose to move about the cabin nude, covered in just a blanket for warmth.

Gary had not thought of another man as being attractive before, but he could not deny that the big, strong stranger was stirring feelings within him of arousal and desire. Before the blizzard snows melted, the man had taken him to bed, and Gary had experienced the joy of lovemaking for the first time.

The man said that his name was Christopher Arnold, and that he had been thrown out of his rich Papa’s house and forced to live in the wild. Gary told Christopher his own story, and Christopher said that they should stay together and take care of each other.

One night after Christopher had been living with Gary for many months, they were making love, and just when Christopher was about to reach his release, his body changed. His face and hands turned into that of a bear, and fur sprouted all over his body. Gary was afraid for the first time since meeting Christopher, and when the bear who had been his beloved came inside of him it also bit him deeply on the shoulder causing a moment of pain followed by a euphoria that Gary had never experienced before.

The next morning, Christopher told Gary that he was not a human but was really a werebear. A being who could change back and forth between man and bear, who never grew any older and never got sick. He explained that Gary was ‘kindred’ and since he had now been properly bred and bitten, Gary too would become a werebear in just a few months, and they could live together forever.

Christopher helped Gary to prepare for his first change, and proudly claimed his first fuck as Papa when Gary transformed into a magnificent grizzly bear.

Gary lived a contented life with his Papa for many years and took Christopher’s last name as his own. However, as time went on, Christopher became more and more obsessed with the power and riches that his own Papa had denied him when he forced him from his home. No matter what Gary said to try to comfort his Papa or show him how good their lives were together, Christopher descended farther and farther into obsession over the desire for his Papa’s wealth.

It was during the Great Depression that Christopher brought the first non-kindred human into their home under the pretense of giving him work and a hot meal, then raped and bit the poor young man. Gary was outraged at his Papa’s behavior and tried his best to care for the human man following the ordeal. Christopher explained that the man that he’d bred could never become a werebear, but if he could turn enough humans into half man, half bear creatures that were loyal to him, he could take back his Papa’s house by force.

Gary was distraught at what his Papa had done and what he planned to do. He cared for the changing human as gently as if he were his own cub, but when the four months had passed and the human reached the time of his first change, he died in excruciating pain.

That was more than Gary could take, and as Christopher slept that night, Gary took what money and possessions he felt were rightfully his and left the house in their old Model T Ford, never looking back.

Gary lived many different lives in the ninety years after leaving his Papa in the night, but although he tried to explore different parts of America each time he changed his identity, he always seemed to eventually drift back to his home in the Smoky Mountains. It was where he was born, it was where he was bred to become a werebear, and it was his home. Now, he lived in the Alleghenies, on the campus of the Academy for troubled young men who needed a firm hand and guidance to become productive citizens, and it was the best life that he had experienced so far.

He never became a rich bear, but he had managed to save enough money to be comfortable, and when the time eventually came that he would have to move on and change his identity again, he planned on having enough in his savings to start an Academy of his own.

As he sat in his on-campus apartment now, reminiscing and preparing for the wilderness survival trip the next morning, he heard a soft knock on his door.

“Come,” Gary said, unsure of who could be out knocking on doors in his part of campus at this time of night.

The door opened, and Bill, the smallest of the second-year students walked inside timidly.

“Bill,” Gary said with a scolding tone, “You know that you’re not allowed to wander the campus at night. Why are you out of your room?”

“I’m sorry, Mr. Arnold,” Bill said, looking down at the floor, “But I really need to talk to you before the survival trip tomorrow morning.”

“Come sit down, then,” Gary instructed him. “Tell me what’s bothering you that you risked punishment if you had been caught by one of the monitors.”

“Sir…” Bill began, “I’m worried about the trip, because it’s going to be the first time that I’ll have to share a tent with somebody and have a buddy with me all the time watching everything that I do.”

“Well, your buddy for the trip is Sean, right?” Gary asked, “I thought you liked Sean and the two of you got along very well.”

“Oh, we do, Mr. Arnold, and that’s part of the problem.” Bill said, staring at the floor and fiddling with his hands. “See, nobody here knows it, but I’m pretty sure… I’m gay. And I think that I like Sean more than just as a friend. How am I supposed to deal with being with him all day and then sleeping with him in a tent at night? We’ll have to go pee in the woods together cause he’s my buddy, and if he sees me get hard looking at him, he’s going to know that I’m a faggot.”

“Bill, don’t you ever use that word to describe yourself again. Do you hear me?”

Bill nodded, but he kept looking at the floor, and Gary could see the tears dripping off of his nose.

“Bill, you all know that I’m gay, right?”

“Yes, sir, but that’s different,” the boy said.

“Different how?” Gary asked him.

“Well, you’re a big, grown-up, muscular man! There’s no way anybody would dare to call you a faggot to your face, ‘cause they know that you’d probably beat them so hard there’d be nothing left but a greasy spot on the floor! Plus, you’re like the coolest instructor here, and everybody likes you whether you're gay or not.

“I’m just a little runt. I get along with everybody because I keep my head down and don’t draw much attention to myself. If they find out that I’m gay, they’re going to bully me and beat me up!”

“Bill,” Gary said. “You get along with everybody because you’re funny, and brave and smart. You embody all of the good things that we’re trying to teach everybody here to be.

“I’ll tell you a secret… You may be the smallest, but the other boys all look up to you. They think that you’re the coolest one here because you aren’t afraid to do or say the things that nobody else will, and that makes you special to them. Today when I was going over the rules, and I was trying to get you guys to loosen up and say the F-word in front of an instructor, who was the first one who was brave enough to do it?”

“Me,” Bill replied, grinning, and looking up at Gary for the first time since coming in his apartment.

“That’s right, and the next time that I tried it, everybody else joined in, because you did it first and they saw that that it was okay. You’re a leader, Bill, you just haven’t figured that part out yet.”

“But what am I supposed to do being stuck like glue to Sean for the next week?” Bill asked, the worry coming back to his eyes. “He’s going to suspect something.”

“I think that Sean will be so busy thinking about what a great time he’s having with his good friend that the way you feel about him won’t even cross his mind.

“Bill… someday, you’re going to want to come out and tell everyone that you’re gay, but you don’t have to do it at 17 if you don’t want to. It isn’t the 1950’s anymore, we’re more accepted now than we’ve ever been, and I think that once you do come out you’ll find that your friends will be cheering you on!

“Now do you feel better about the trip tomorrow?”

“Yes, sir!” Bill said, “I’m really glad I could talk to you about it. I feel like it’s been eating a hole inside me for a long time now.”

“I’m glad you felt you could talk to me about it, Bill. Come on, I’ll walk you back to your dorm room so that you don’t get in trouble with the monitors. It would be a shame if after all this you got detention and couldn’t come on the trip with the rest of us!”

They stood up and Bill suddenly gave Gary a hug, squeezing around his ribs like he’d never let go.

Gary smiled and hugged the boy back, unconsciously scenting the top of his head as he did so.

Lights flashed in Gary’s brain as Bill’s scent hit his nose. The boy wasn’t just gay, he was kindred.

Gary waited until Bill broke their hug and then he looked down at him.

“Promise me one thing, Bill,” Gary said as they began walking to the apartment door.

“What’s that, Mr. Arnold?”

“Promise that after you graduate next year, you’ll come back for your five-year class reunion. I’m betting that you are going to grow up into a very fine young man and I’ll want to shake your hand and tell you a few more of life’s secrets, just between us big, grown-up, gay men.”

“Sure thing, Mr. Arnold! I can’t wait!”

Neither can I, Cub, Gary thought as he walked the boy home. Neither can I.

Copyright © 2021 Grumpy Bear; All Rights Reserved.
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Great chapter. I'm liking how the story is building up. Please don't make us wait too long before another installment!

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This story is building up nicely. Gary seems a good guy, I hope he can protect his boys from his father.

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Ah dammit; let's all hope that Ezekiel or someone reaches them before the boys go into the woods.  We should strongly suspect that we all know who the third revenge is for; and with the kids around, it could be a disaster...

Well written and the pacing was excellent.

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I make my comment for the last chapter, and what do I get in return? The very first sentence... :

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“I think we can assume that Christopher’s destination is Mount Savage and his Papa’s mansion.”

Good job, Gunnar! I knew you'd put the pieces together in less than half a second! 

Holy crap, I like Gary! Ooooooooo, I like this character A LOT! So much detail has been put into him, and I know you'll be ripping him from my heart. I just forkin' know it... Don't you dare, Grumpy...

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