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|Life returned to semi-normal after that incident. Every day was filled with the strenuous training that I gradually grew to love. But, in the back of my mind was the dream and the totem pole. Actually, it was more of a vision. I had told my bear family most of it, but no one knew exactly what it meant. I couldn�t understand what it was all about, and I thought about it constantly. It�s frustrating when something poses a question about yourself and you can�t come up with an answer.
Gradually, the memories were pushed to the back of my mind as school got closer. The four months flew by and I could feel myself change. I had yet to hit puberty, but my body was getting more and more toned. I could feel and see my strength increasing day by day as my lifts slowly grew. I could see my muscles growing slightly and I felt proud that I was actually doing it. Each day was just as hard or harder as the previous, but the support of my bear family kept me going.
But often, at night, my mind would drift back to that vision. I kept trying to understand the meaning of it all. I knew that dreams are mostly symbolic, but I couldn�t tell what everything meant. It was getting to the point where I was almost obsessing over it before I fell asleep each night.
The routine stayed the same until school started. Arnold went back to college after packing on another ten pounds of bear muscle. Allen had to start football practice, and sadly, because I was still in middle school, I couldn�t practice with the varsity team. So, the pattern of life changed. I still awoke at 4:30 in the morning to catch Allen and Grizzly for cardio. Then after a quick bear shower, we all would leave for work and school. Grizzly sometimes would take me in his beautiful police jeep, but usually Allen would drop me off. Then in the afternoon, I would jog to Grizzly�s house and he and I would hit the iron hard. Then he would fix me dinner and take me home if Allen couldn�t.
Although bear life was great, my school life on the other hand wasn�t. Although I was more toned than most other kids there, I still had to put up with kids that were naturally more developed than me. But what was worse was whenever I saw someone else being picked on. Every time I saw that, I felt the rage building up inside of me. Each week, it grew stronger and stronger as I struggled to keep it under control.
Near the winter break I got to see more of Allen at my school. He was over after the school day to help with the basketball team. I had yet to grow vertically, so I didn�t try out for basketball. Instead, I used the indoor track to do my cardio while I waited for Allen to finish. Then we would head to Grizzly�s house and lift. Our schedules had to be pushed back some because Grizzly worked later in the winter, but I didn�t mind since there was always something I could do.
All through the school year, the vision kept repeating itself, being as cryptic as ever. Although I didn�t pay much attention to it, it was always there, eating away at me. I hated that I couldn�t understand what it was trying to tell me. I didn�t know why I felt so much rage at random situations. I couldn�t change the world, so why was I so angry at the big guys picking on the little guys. It was survival of the fittest and I was not one to change it.
Everything came to a head though one winter evening. I had just got finished doing my cardio and Allen still had around thirty minutes of practice left. So, I decided to take a quick shower. At this time in the day, there was usually no one in the locker room, but upon my entrance, I noticed that today it wasn�t empty. Near the back corner was a group of guys. I recognized them as some of the junior varsity football players. I was going to ignore them and go shower, but something tugged at me to go inspect.
As I walked up, I heard parts of their conversation. �You know I got an F today because of you, runt,� one guy said.
�I�m sorry, I couldn�t get the paper done in time. I was away last week and I couldn�t write it in one day.� I knew the voice that was responding. It was a fairly smart guy in one of my math classes. He had a reputation for being a good and helpful kid, but he was even smaller than I was. Talk about being dealt a bad hand.
�I don�t give a fuck about your excuses. You�re lucky that football season is over, else I might�ve been kicked off. But I think you need to learn a lesson.� The guy started to approach the kid, and although he tried to run, the jock�s buddies pushed him back into the circle. Again, I felt the rage rise, but this time, I didn�t hold back. I let myself fall into the well of fury. I could feel my body flood with the power of my rage as I let go.
I felt myself take two running steps, jumped on a bench, then I threw myself at the gang of jocks. With a roar of primal fury, I attacked the group from above. They scattered in disarray as I pounced on the lead. His eyes were wide open as I landed on him, knocking to the ground. I immediately started to punch and claw his stomach, causing the wind to rush from him. His friends stood there in shock for a few moments before joining their buddy in defending against my onslaught. The little kid they were picking on quickly exited the room as I roared in bloodlust.
His friends frantically tried to detach me from their leader, but I wouldn�t have any of it. I continued to rake his chest and stomach and rain blows upon him even as the other five hit me. After a minute of this violence, I turned to the nearest guy and blocked his blow and pounced on him. I continued my struggle with him. By this time, a couple of the guys, seeing how unstoppable and insane I was, ran out of the locker room, leaving their leader beaten on the ground, my current victim and one other to try and stop me.
A few moments later, Allen came in the room followed by the two that had ran. By this time, I was working on the third one and didn�t even notice my mentor enter the room. He saw me wailing on the guy and quickly yelled my name. I didn�t register his voice in my fury and kept swinging. He sprinted over and clamped on me, lifting me up. I struggled against him, foaming, swinging, and snarling at the guy on the floor.
�GABE!� Allen yelled into my ears. Finally, his voice broke through the haze I was in and I regained myself. I stopped swinging and looked around.
�What happened? Allen?�
�Gabe, what the hell just happened?�
�I don�t know. I can�t explain it, I just lost it for a while,� I whispered.
�C�mon man, let me take you to my office.�
He let me sit in his office and soon as I sat down, I fell unconscious. Instantly, I flew to the totem pole in my psyche and saw my doppelganger. Again, he was standing there, smirking at me. He waited until I landed before he started to talk to me.
�Have you found the solution yet?�
�No I haven�t. What do I need to do?�
�You could simply ask your bear brothers. I�m sure one of them could help.�
�You think so? I told them about it, but didn�t ask for any help.�
�Well, don�t you think it�s about time to do that. You are letting yourself get too stressed out over trying to hold me down. If you had the answer, you wouldn�t have to do that anymore.�
I placed my hand on my chin and thought. What he was saying made perfect sense. I looked to these guys for a lot, they had lived a lot longer than me, so this shouldn�t be too much to ask.
�Besides,� my doppelganger started, �you�ll never achieve this if you don�t hurry up.� I looked back at him and saw him in the giant muscle bear god form he revealed to me last time. This time, he was slightly clothed though, covered head to toe with curly, soft fur. I could see the clothes strain to contain his colossal bulk and muscle. He smiled and looked at me. Flexing his arm, he cooed, �We�re waiting.�
Suddenly, I felt myself being shoved in my body. I jumped up to find myself at Grizzly�s house. �What happened Gabe?� I heard Allen ask.
�I�um�got into a fight.�
�I mean beyond that. I could tell it was a fight by the way you left those three guys. I mean the acting like an animal, not knowing who I was and the falling asleep afterwards.�
�I have to talk to you and Grizzly about that. I�m still not sure of it myself.�
�I�m right here cub,� I heard Grizzly say from the kitchen. He came into the living room with an ice pack and placed it on my eye. I reminded them of the first time this happened, then went into everything I felt this time. I also told them about the two visions in greater detail than I have ever went into before.
After listening to me ramble for the longest, becoming more and more confused as I went, I looked to my bear family. Allen had a look of confusion on his face while Grizzly was lost in thought.
�I have no clue what all that could mean,� Allen said with a shrug.
�I don�t know either, but I do know someone that maybe able to help. I�m actually going to see him tomorrow. I could tell him about it since you�re going to be at school,� Grizzly said.
�Actually, he�s suspended for fighting. His time did get cut down because someone defended him, saying it was self defense.�
Grizzly looked at me then Allen and nodded. �Ok, let�s get you cleaned up. I�ll call your parents, let them know we�re taking a trip for a few days and will be back.�
I nodded and slowly limped off to the shower. The night went normally from there on. I didn�t lift as much, but the bears were understanding on why. I went to sleep in the guest room and woke up at the normal time. But instead of cardio, Grizzly tossed me my travel bag and we both jumped into his jeep.
We drove most of the morning, with a stop to grab a muscle breakfast at a good restaurant. Then around 8 a.m., we pulled up to this warehouse looking place. �We�re here! Time to see if we can get some understanding for you,� announced Grizzly. He hopped out and grabbed his gym bag. I quickly grabbed my stuff and followed him up the steps. As I�m approaching, I feel a sense of anticipation as I look towards the sign over the building. I smile as I read it, noticing the slight irony in it.
The sign reads �Gym of Dreams: Where you make YOUR dreams come true.�
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