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Magical bears in the con.., p.4
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       Magical Bears in the Context of Contemporary Political Theory, p.4

           Jenna Katerin Moran
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  Terrence wakes, slowly. He looks around. He’s in a car. It’s moving fast. He can make out the driver’s face in the rear-view mirror, but she’s no one he knows.

  “Who are you?” he asks.

  “Femme Fatale Bear,” she says. “I use sexual forthrightness to unlock the inner desires of men.”

  “Sorry, babe,” he says. “Sprites don’t do that kind of thing.”

  She smirks.

  “Okay,” he admits. “But it’s more ethereal with us. Sprites, we like to get our kids by stork or cabbage, not by knocking up some bear with our stardust, capisce?”

  “That’s not what you were moaning in your sleep.”

  Terrence frowns in faint memory, then shakes it off. “If this is a kidnapping, you’ve got the wrong sprite. There’s no one left who’d pay a cent for me.”

  “You know my kind,” she says.

  “Yeah.” He shrugs. His species’ natural deelyboppers wobble. “Magical bears. You live on clouds and ride rainbows around to bestow your gifts on humankind. Am I supposed to be impressed?”

  “No,” she says. “There’s no place in the world for that kind of thing any more. It’s a darker time, Twinkles.”

  “Terrence,” he says. “Terrence is the name.”

  “It’s a darker time. It calls for a darker bear. All the originals—they shut themselves away back when the rainbows turned monochrome and the stars stopped shining so bright. It’s hard to spread cheer when people’ll kill one another for a little bit of color. It’s hard to spread tender affection when good, honest girls are selling themselves on the streets just so their lips can be red and their hair gold for another few hours of the night. So now there’s just the five of us. Alienation Bear, and Transgression Bear, and Fatalism Bear, and me.”

  “That’s four,” Terrence says, and then bites his lip. I’m playing her game, he tells himself. I should know better.

  “Nihilism Bear,” she says. “The end-of-everything bear. The bastard bear at the heart of the void. In . . . just under two and a half hours . . . he’s going to stand outside Shadow City and use his Nihilism Bear Glare; and then there won’t be any stardust, or any Shadow City, or any sprites, or even any Earth. Just the great long hungry void.”

  “Why’d he wait so long?”

  “He wasn’t like this when it started,” she says. “For years, he’s been caring less and less. He’s become a regular grumpy-puss. So last night, he made the decision. ‘Make your goodbyes,’ he said. ‘In the morning, I’ll end the world.’”

  Terrence suddenly sits bolt upright. “I can’t help you,” he says. There’s panic in his voice.

  “We all pled with him,” she says. “We even tried working together. We all stood next to one another, our bellies bright with the symbols of our aspects and our attributes, and as one we glared. The padlock of alienation, the lipstick of transgression, the hourglass of fatalism, and the broken heart of the femme fatale—our magical bear symbols sprang forth from our stomachs in rays of light and merged into a glorious rainbow of sheer caring. But he only laughed; for he had moved beyond such mortal concerns.”

  “No,” Terrence says, vigorously. “I mean, I really can’t help. It’s totally impossible. I can’t do what you think I can. You need to find someone else.”

  “You can’t wake the rainbow?”

  “She’d never listen to me,” he protests. “Not now.”

  Femme Fatale Bear studies him in the mirror. Then she laughs. “You’re afraid, pookie. But you’ll do it for me, won’t you?”

  He shakes his head, but the symbol on her stomach is beginning to glow, and the car fills with a carmine light. There’s a brilliant beam of energy, the reddest he’s seen in more than a dozen years, and it glances off the mirror to shine full into his eyes.

  “Heaven and Earth,” he whimpers.

  “You have to help me,” she says, voice almost breaking. “I don’t want to die.”

  Terrence closes his eyes and slumps back. “Fine,” he says. “Fine. I’ll talk to her. I’ll talk to her. Please . . . just . . . don’t do that. You’re . . . it’s too much.”

  The light fades, and the car pulls up outside the mansion gates.

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