In his dreams, Laúm was unafraid of the bear: 12 feet high and weighing in at eight hundred pounds of pure muscle. The imagined bear sauntered along the top of a slope above a riverbank. The bear cocked his head suddenly and snorted. Then he turned his flat face and sat down next to a mossy granite boulder. The bear growled, although, in his dream, it seemed more like the bear had chuckled than anything else.
Wrapped around his wrist was the leash of a crossbow and slowly pulled it from the quiver on his back. He was careful to hold it level, its muzzle down. The bear roared at the sight of the crossbow then dropped down onto all fours, and took several paces backward. He seemed to be digging with his hind legs. Again, the bear roared. He rose to his hind limbs and shuffled to the right. The bear hid himself behind the boulder.
The giant granite erratic behind which the bear had gone “to hide” was not dislodged, shoved, nor pushed. In his dream he clearly saw the boulder being lifted two feet off the ground before the bear threw it at him.
Unafraid, he wedged his feet as tightly as he could between the jagged rocks that lined the riverbed. He took a breath, dunked himself into a crouch, twisted to his right, and dove—pushing and unlocking his feet into the stream’s undertow. He surfaced from the stream and looked quickly upstream over his shoulder. The bear’s boulder had landed where he had just stood, and a mushroom cloud of water hung, suspended, above the boulder, put there by its massive splash.
He had yet to reach the bank and make visual contact with the bear when, out of the corner of his eye, he saw a black blur land atop the tall berm ahead. Giant beaver! It missed catching his leg in its jaws by inches. The beaver reared upward into view. It stood on its hind legs and screeched like a banshee, raising its forelegs, extending its claws, and bending forward to jump. Laúm remembered his crossbow was still wrapped around his wrist. In his dream he waited patiently for the shot, then let the arrow fly. The beaver’s neck snapped back. A huge brown blur burst through the air, with the black beaver lodged in its jaws, the bear flew over the riverbank. He craned his neck to follow the bear who landed on all fours in the middle of the river. With the beaver writhing in his mouth, the bear began to turn his head toward Laúm, but, before the bear’s neck turned an hour of the clock, the beaver’s mate came bounding from the far riverbank. She hit the bear like a missile and sunk her teeth into the left side of his neck. The bear jerked its head and tossed the beaver in its mouth up into the air and went after its mate. Laúm feared he would be next…and then the quiet alarm next to Laúm’s bed pulled him back into his family’s room.