With humble thanks and apologies to Franz Kafka, it is to his memory and great genius that this story is dedicated.
One morning, Maggie awoke from a night of disturbing dreams to discover a full-grown male grizzly bear sleeping on her husband Greg’s side of the bed.
He lay on his side, facing away from her, snoring lightly. The white sheets and well-worn quilt barely covered his wide shoulders, giving her a clear view of the coarse brown pelt grown thick over his entire body. His ears twitched in his sleep, and Maggie raised herself on her elbow to look again, certain that she must still be dreaming, and that her subconscious was only assigning a bear-like quality to his newly grown-in beard, for in truth, grizzly bears did not, as a rule, sleep in suburban Illinois bedrooms—much less hers.
She peered at him more closely, moving slowly as to not disturb him, but the shifting of the bed caused his ears to twitch again, and she found herself smiling at it. But then he stretched, and his long, hairy arm extended well past the edge of the mattress and onto the nightstand where he sent his alarm clock, half-empty glass of water, assorted ear plugs, and a dog-eared copy of Mike Ditka’s biography crashing to the floor.
The bear woke with a start, his long black claws raking the blankets off of him as a low growl issued from deep within his enormous chest. Maggie scrambled away, her legs tangling in the sheets as he turned and looked at her with tiny, glittering dark eyes. She tried to scream but could barely breathe as she fell off the bed and landed in a heap, wrenching her ankle and hitting her head so hard on the oak dresser that she thought she’d throw up.
The bear growled again and moved towards her. Maggie shrieked as she tried to stand, her cry of panic turning to one of pain as her sprained ankle gave way and she fell to her knees, crawling as fast as she could over the hard wood floor. The bear moved faster than she, and in what seemed like the blink of an eye, he was between her and the door, his menacing claws scraping against the wood, forcing her towards the closet and her only possible sanctuary.
Maggie pulled her body into the tight space, clamoring over shoes and pulling Greg’s dress shirts down on her head as she forced the door shut behind her. The bear roared anew, his voice shaking the thin louvered door that was all that stood between her and a man-eating grizzly bear.
She huddled against the back wall, drawing her shaking legs up tightly against her body. Outside the door she could hear him snuffling, his nose against the floor, and she could feel the occasional whoosh of warm breath when he exhaled. He nudged the door and Maggie squealed again, her voice high and terrified, but the louvers held and the latch remained secure. Again, she saw the door bow slightly as he pushed against it, grumbling. She shut her eyes tight and waited for the door to burst into splinters. “Please, don’t hurt me,” she whimpered, her voice sounding small and pathetic to her ears.
On the other side of the door, she heard the tap of his claws on the floor moving away. For a few minutes, she heard nothing save the beating of her own heart in her ears. Then she listened more intently, training her ear to pick up any sound from the bedroom. When she heard nothing, she moved slowly toward the door, wincing at the sharp pain in her ankle, and peeked through the slats.
The bear was in front of the full-length mirror than hung on the back of their bedroom door and seemed to be studying his own features in a very unbearlike manner. He raised a paw far bigger than her own hand to his face and touched his long snout, then the top of his furry head. He tipped his head to the side and raised his ears, perking them up as if he was listening for something, then flattening them against his head. He sat on his round bear rump in front of the mirror, and Maggie suppressed a giggle.
Suddenly and without warning, he raised himself up to his full height and Maggie gasped as his enormous bulk filled the door frame. He looked over at the closet door and Maggie shrank against the back wall, shaking anew at the sight of seven feet of fur, teeth, claws, and bad attitude.
She heard the click of his claws on the floor again and cringed, waiting for the door to explode in a shower of kindling, but it never came. She relaxed her shoulders, took a deep breath, and put her eye to the slats again.
The bear was sitting on the floor at the end of their bed, leaning against the disheveled bed clothes. He was looking at her, and when he saw her face, he lifted his paw and gestured to her.
Maggie blinked, not sure what she was seeing.
She looked again, and again the bear raised a hairy paw and with claws as long as her own fingers, gestured to her in an obvious and very human “come here” motion. He then lay down and placed his nose on his paws in a posture of supplication.
Slowly, she turned the knob of the closet door with a shaking hand. The bear didn’t move as the door opened enough for Maggie to look out. He raised his giant head and Maggie recoiled, so he slowly lay it back down on his paws. He kept his eyes on her, and Maggie didn’t dare break eye contact. She inched forward and then suddenly stopped. She froze, seeing something deep the creature’s eyes that was painfully familiar.
He raised his head slowly from the floor and nodded, and as Maggie looked into his eyes, she saw the confusion and sadness in their dark brown depths. She crept closer and lay her hand on his head, feeling the thickness of his fur and watched him close his eyes. She didn’t know how it was possible, or why, but this hulk of an animal was her husband, and her arms went around his neck. He let out a soft growl that might have been a purr of happiness as she hugged him, and he lay his head gently in her lap.
As the hours stretched into days and the days into weeks, Maggie grew accustomed to having a bear around the house. He was her same sweet Greg: quieter, for sure, though he had never been a conversationalist. He became adept at using simple signals and signs to let her know when he needed assistance, as he had some limitations as to what he could do with his paws. He learned quickly that a roar of frustration would get her attention, but not to pull that card too often lest he get a flick on his tender ears or snout. He was still perfectly happy to sit with her and watch old movies and football games on TV, letting her feed him popcorn kernels and scratch behind his ears after he licked the butter from her fingers.
She loved his new strength, and discovered as her sprained ankle healed that she could dig her fingers into his strong fur and hold on tight and he’d carry her easily just about anywhere. He loved to be outside, so he’d climb into the back seat of their car and she’d take him for a drive out to the country where they would take long, quiet walks together in the forest. She was impressed with how he used his dangerously sharp claws to climb the towering pines, though she couldn’t watch him dig grubs and other nasty critters out of rotten logs without her stomach turning, and it’s for sure she left him alone when he ran off into the thick undergrowth to do the things that bears do in the woods. And after a day of rambling in the forest and kicking through the fallen leaves, she was happy to curl up next to him in their big bed and fall asleep in his warm, furry arms.
One morning, in the wee small hours just as the sun was beginning to lighten the eastern sky, Maggie was deep in sleep, tossing fitfully with one of the many disturbing dreams that had plagued her since the night Greg had metamorphosed into a grizzly bear. She cried and whimpered in her sleep, soft noises of distress, waking suddenly with a start. She lay in the dark, breathing heavily, trying to come back to reality with some difficulty. She felt the velvety soft fur of Greg’s muzzle on her bare back, rubbing her gently between her shoulder blades, the warmth of his breath tickling the fine hairs and making them stand up. “I had a bad dream,” she murmured into the pillow, relaxing at his low growl of understanding.
“I don’t know why I keep having them, or why they started, but I wish I knew how to make them stop,” she confessed. Greg grunted softly and continued his gentle caresses, and Maggie felt the tension and anxiety melt away. She stretched out as he stroked and nuzzled the soft skin of the small of her back. She could feel his fur tickling the backs of her thighs and she squirmed a bit. It had been longer than either of them was accustomed to since they’d made love, and as he touched her gently, exploring the soft contours of her body, she found herself wondering if such a thing was even possible anymore. Or desirable. Was he still her husband, or just a beloved pet?
She was only beginning to contemplate it when she felt his warm nose following the curve of her ass to the warm, damp cleft between her thighs. She tensed, the logical centers of her brain telling her that interspecies coupling is all kinds of wrong and against every law of nature, but then she felt his tongue brush lightly against the soft curls of her pussy. He had always loved her in that position, face down, taking her from behind, enjoying no part of their lovemaking more than when he would slip in behind her and use his lips and tongue to make her shudder and squirm with desire. She was no prude—it was a point of pride that she had few sexual hang-ups, and the truth was, it felt good. Really good, in fact. Her body told her that if it feels good, it should continue. Her heart told her that the body didn’t matter as much as the heart of the man she married, and with that on her side, she took a deep breath, closed her eyes, and shutting her brain off, let him use his strong nose to push her thighs apart, feeling a shiver go down her spine at the thought of letting go, and at the thought of what she was letting him do.
He parted her soft folds and slid his rough tongue over the sensitive pink inner skin of her pussy. It was long and strong—definitely not the tongue she was used to, but she had to admit that the change was a pleasant one. He maneuvered it skillfully, seeking her clit and making her arch her back with pleasure at the contact. His nose pressed against her thighs again, the soft fur on his head a delightful sensation as he nudged her legs apart.
It was so wonderfully dirty.
She opened for him, gasping as his tongue ran over her clit to her cunt and dipped into her sweet center. She moaned as he entered her slowly, tasting her and making her shudder as he went into her deeper than ever possible. She pictured him in the deep forest, his arms gripping the trunk of a hollow tree while his tongue dipped into a deep, dark hole and emerged coated with thick, sweet, amber honey. He tasted her with the same relish, his strong paws on her thighs, holding her tight, just the tips of his claws pressing her tender flesh—not enough to hurt, but enough to make her feel his restrained power and strength. His tongue plunged into her over and over, slowly, drawing out her sweet, musky nectar. She pressed back against his mouth, urging him on, bringing her knees up under her body and granting him every access.
His soft, deep grunts let her know he was enjoying it as much as she was.
When he ran his tongue between the cheeks of her ass in the way he knew was guaranteed to make her come unglued, however, any thoughts of right or wrong, natural or unnatural went right out the window. Only one man knew exactly what would make her whole body tremble with pleasure, and he was taking advantage of his current metamorphosis to its full extent.
She moaned aloud when he pressed his tongue against her tight ass, wiggling it and teasing her until he felt her muscles relax. Gently, he slid inside her, and she moaned again, grabbing at the bedclothes as he used his strong, flexible tongue to fuck her. It was unlike anything she’d ever felt. He was in her, hot and wet, deep, but soft. He pulled out and lapped her flesh, then back inside her, using his talented, nimble tongue on every inch of her pink, juicy cunt and ripe ass. She pictured her own juices dripping from the sable fur of his muzzle in the same way the sweet nectar did he savored and enjoyed a bag of fresh peaches, and she had to bite her lip to keep from crying out at the mental image.
She was thrusting against him, rocking uncontrollably as he brought her closer and closer to an orgasm. He read her body, and when he knew she could take no more, he ran his tongue from her clit to her ass and on all fours, easily covered her body with his own. His fur was soft and prickly against her back as he mounted her, gently wrapping one strong arm around her waist and pulling her to him. She could smell her own lusty scent on his fur as he nuzzled her neck, his long, sharp teeth nipping very gently at her, the soft animal exhalations as he prepared to enter her driving her wild.
She felt him hard and hot against the entrance to her womb, pausing, the thick end of his cock nestled between her soaked lips. She turned her head to him, rubbing her cheek against his muzzle. “Yes, my love,” she said, and gasped as he filled her slowly, letting her feel every long, thick inch of him. He moved slowly with no sense of urgency, mindful of her fragility and his own power. She could feel the restraint, of the control he was using to keep from hurting her.
Maggie wanted to feel that power. She rocked her body on her knees, meeting each thrust with her own, urging him with her body to move faster, to fuck her harder and deeper. “Hold me tighter,” she said, and thrilled as she felt the sharp points of his claws dig into her soft flesh. He moved faster and she encouraged him. “Harder. Take me harder.”
His breath was hot on her shoulder, his mouth open, and she felt his teeth close on the soft curve of flesh between her neck and shoulder. “Oh, yes,” she said, and he increased the pressure, biting her just to the point of pain. “You’re going to make me cum.”
The words were still on her lips when she felt her cunt explode around his cock, clenching and convulsing. He held her tighter, his claws raking against her skin as he thrust into her over and over, harder and faster, until with a deep roar, he came, his cock erupting inside her and overflowing down her legs. He held her like that and she felt the fluttering in their bodies subside.
Gently, he released her, and she sank exhausted to the mattress. He curled around her protectively and lapped gently at the deep scratches on her hip. She giggled and scratched behind his ears in the spot she knew he had grown to love, while he nuzzled her and she kissed him on his soft, wet muzzle. “I love you, you big, sweet bear.”
Greg growled happily and fell asleep wrapped around her body.
Maggie woke to an empty, rumpled bed, the coarse brown hairs in the sheets and stuck to the insides of her thighs testimony to the new frontiers they had explored the night before. She wrapped herself in her old bathrobe and padded to the kitchen where Greg, as she’s always known him, sat at the table drinking a cup of coffee and eating a piece of toast slathered with honey.
She hugged him and kissed him over and over, holding his face in her hands as if she couldn’t believe her own eyes. She laughed, and cried, and laughed again, and finally pulled herself together to hear Greg’s story.
“It happened the last night me, Neil, Mark, and Bill were were in New Orleans. We’d gone to the game and had…well, somewhere between eight and a hundred beers each, and that was just the warm-up. We hit the town and that was when the serious drinking began.” Maggie nodded and let him finish, knowing all good stories started with a copious amount of alcohol. “We got a little lost and were wandering aimlessly from bar to bar, and then we found ourselves in this little place. I think it was a restaurant, but the details are really, really fuzzy.”
“Yeah, I’m going to just pretend you weren’t looking to score Neil a hooker and ask you to skip to the ‘I woke up as a grizzly bear’ part.”
“I remember following Neil in, and it was…weird. It was dimly lit and there were all these…I don’t know, creepy things everywhere. Dried chicken feet and strangely shaped candles…” he rubbed his eyes trying to remember. “There was a woman there. A big woman. And some men were with her. I don’t know why they were there or what they were doing, but we were totally wasted, and Neil started running his mouth.”
“There’s a shock.”
“I mean, he was bad. He was singing ‘Lady Marmalade’ and really being obscene. Even for Neil. He got insulting very fast and to be honest, Mark and Bill and I wanted to get the hell out of there. I thought Bill was going to shit himself when the guys with her looked like they were going to shut Neil up permanently.”
“Jesus Christ,” Maggie said. “You assholes need a chaperone.”
“True story,” he nodded. “I’m never drinking again, hand to God.”
“So…the bear part?”
“The woman kept the guys from killing us. She was very calm—peaceful, even. She didn’t seem offended or upset at the fact that Neil was practically dry-humping her, and invited us to sit down. She said something to one of the men in French, but I was too drunk to translate, and he came over with glasses of something. I think it was red. Maybe purple? I don’t know. It was strong, though.”
“And you drank it.”
“Seemed the polite thing to do under the circumstances. Especially after Neil asked ‘Where you keep the whores at, Big Mama Jama?’ at least three separate times.” Maggie sighed and rubbed her forehead. “Then shit got weird.”
“Oh, ’cause up to now it was business as usual?”
“I know, I know. The table was full of stuff. I don’t know what it was. Bowls with dark things in them. More odd candles that she lit. Little pieces of bone and scraps of fabric and…I think there was a human skull and some hair.” He shuddered slightly. “She was smiling and talking to us, sometimes in French, sometimes in English.” He looked up at Maggie. “You have to believe me when I said all of this seemed perfectly logical at the time. Anyway, she went around the table and asked us about our fondest desires. Neil was still being a douche and I thought something bad was going to happen for sure, but she just kept smiling. And Bill, he was making jokes and trying to defuse Neil’s rudeness some, and Mark kept pinching me and kicking me under the table, though I suspect that was mostly to keep me from passing out on him, if you want to know the truth.
“Anyway, she got to me and I remember her asking what my greatest desire in the world was, so of course I said I wanted to be a Bear. And then she gave me this little cloth doll to hold and told me to close my eyes and wish for it. Then she starts shaking this rattle thing and there’s these herbs smoking in a pot…I figured it was all a load of crap. You know how I feel about religion and wishes and all that stuff. Bunk. But I went with it because those dudes with her…they were hanging back some, but they didn’t look like they were playing. I swear to God, I couldn’t get out of there fast enough. Then we got back to the hotel to shower, had a few more drinks and caught the red-eye home and the next time I woke up in my bed…well there you go. I went to sleep thinking as a joke how cool it would be to wake up in a blue and orange uniform, and the next thing I know you’re crying and hiding from me in our closet.”
Maggie didn’t say anything at first. “If I hadn’t just spent the last month living with a full-grown grizzly bear, I’d have you committed. Jesus,” she said, putting her coffee cup down.
“I wouldn’t blame you. I was sitting here wondering if I’d just had some kind of mental breakdown. Hell, I’m still not sure I didn’t. I don’t know if I believe it myself. I mean really…voodoo curses or some shit? Hell, I just figured if I was going to make a wish, why not go with being on the offensive line of my favorite football team?”
“I guess the spirits aren’t familiar with the NFL, I guess.”
“Or they’re Saints fans.”
“Jesus, Greg.” She shook her head, but she was smiling. “But then it just ended as abruptly as it started…out of nowhere.”
He looked down as his cup. “Like I said, the details of the whole thing are so hazy and jumbled. She was switching back and forth between languages, and sometimes it seemed like she was praying and other times she’d laugh or sing a little bit…and I was so goddamn drunk. But I’ve been racking my brain for weeks trying to figure out how to undo it, and the only thing I can recollect with any clarity—and that’s not much—was her saying something about having something I desired more than what I’d wished for.” He looked up at Maggie. “I’d have to find something I wanted more, or…I can’t remember. But when you woke up from your dream, I had a clear thought. I missed you. I missed being with you the way a man and a woman are meant to. I wanted to be your husband again, not Winnie-the-Fucking-Pooh.”
She blushed. “I guess you’re just lucky I’m a complete perv.”
He grinned and nodded. “I thank whatever fucked-up gods may be for every kinky inch of you. God, if you hadn’t trusted me last night…if you hadn’t loved me enough to be able to accept me in another form, I’d have been stuck like that forever.”
Maggie smiled and was about to tell him how much she was going to miss his ursine tongue, but before she could get the words out, he jumped up from the table. “Have you heard from Bill? Has he called here?”
“No. Not that I know of. I didn’t check your phone…I didn’t think of it…”
“Shit.” He grabbed the phone and started scrolling through his stored numbers. “Oh, Jesus Christ. I gotta call Bill’s wife. Oh man. Shit, I don’t even know what I’m going to say. How do I explain this? Oh, Bill.” He tapped the edge of his phone against his forehead. “Man, you picked the wrong time to make snarky jokes. Oh, fuck.”
“Greg! What did Bill wish for?”
“To be Patrick Stewart’s toilet seat.”