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Chapter Four

After their brief encounter, which could only be described as the strangest hello Aiden had ever participated in, they walked side-by-side through the forest. Aiden was glad to have a friend accompany him on his search for the Good People. The bear’s ears perked up. There was rushing water in the distance. The sound, with great relief, made Aiden finally stop to go to the bathroom.

When they reached the stream, Aiden was ecstatic. It was full of many stones, some large enough to stand on. Aiden laughed and took off his shoes, tiptoeing his way into the water. The cold sent a sharp signal from his toes up to his brain. His feet became numb as he waded out into the center. The water was very clear and came to about his belly button. He found a large stone and climbed on top, placing his hands on his hips and looking over at the bear. The bear did not want any part of the deep water. It stayed on the bank, sniffing around in a pocket of reeds. There were little fishes swimming together in the shallows.

“Eat the fishies, bear!” Aiden said. He stuck his toe in the water and flung it forward, pointing to where the fish were swimming. “Eat the fishies!”

A few droplets of water hit the bear on the cheek. It turned and growled at Aiden. Aiden bent down and cupped his hands, taking a drink from the stream. The water was refreshing and it tasted sweet. The bear followed the school of fish with its eyes. It bent down and tried to lap them up, but the school was too quick and darted out to the deeper part and hid behind the stone Aiden was standing on.

“Ah, too slow,” Aiden said.

He took another drink from the water and walked back to the shore to put on his shoes. His socks started to tear when he pulled them over his wet feet. He wanted to get back to finding the Good People. The bear did not understand what was at stake.

“Come on, bear, it’s time to go.” The bear was too preoccupied with the school of fish to listen to Aiden. “Come on, bear!”

The bear lifted up its paw and began swiping at the water. Aiden was annoyed. “You’re just scaring them.”

Water went everywhere. Aiden liked games, but their break had gone on long enough. They needed to get moving.

“Come on, bear!”

A spray of water went flying past Aiden, only this time, there was something inside of it: a large bass. The fish flopped around on the shore, each flip bringing it closer to the water. The bear scurried over and sunk its teeth into the fish. Two bites and it was gone.

Aiden put his hands on his head. “Holy cow! That big ole fish was in there?” He looked back at the stream, but could not see any other fish like that. Did the bear have some sort of x-ray vision? He could only wonder.

The bear licked its lips and walked past Aiden. “Wait for me,” Aiden said, skipping up to the bear. “I’m the one who’s supposed to be in front. I’m looking for the Good People. You’re my sidekick.” Aiden did wonder if it was a better idea to let the bear lead. This was the bear’s home. It knew things, things that might help them get to where they needed to go. The tricky part was going to be communication. Aiden did not know how to speak bear.

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