Papa Bear lay in bed listening to the sound of the alarm, resentment curdling like spoilt milk in his chest. He sighed. Another day, he thought. Another fucking day…

He turned and slammed his paw down on the alarm, jolting Mama Bear out of her sleep.

“Is it time already?” she whispered. “To get up?”

Papa Bear simply sighed in response. His wife began to silently weep.

“I DON’T HEAR BREAKFAST BEING MADE!” they heard yelled up from downstairs.

Papa Bear grumbled and threw off the covers, heaving himself reluctantly up from his bed. Not for the first time, he thought about his one biggest regret: not eating that blonde bitch when they’d caught her sleeping in Baby’s bed.

He couldn’t help but blame his wife for the mess they were now in, caught under the thumb of a tyrant. She’d insisted that they spare her life, even after Goldie had eaten all their porridge, broken all their chairs and left all their beds in disarray. She’d destroyed their property, for God’s sake! They would have been wholly within their rights to maul her to death and store her body parts in the freezer for the upcoming winter, in his opinion.

But Mama Bear was too hesitant. They desperately needed a positive review. It was hard enough attracting tenants to Bear BnB without some entitled blonde spreading vicious lies. She’d threatened to write that they’d tried to eat her. Her father knew where she was, she explained, and if anything happened to her, if he didn’t hear word from her regularly, he was instructed to do three things: (1) Immediately write a bad review explaining, in great detail, that his daughter had been eaten here, very slowly, from the feet up (2) report them to Bear BnB, and (3), worst of all, the very very worst thing: he was to call The Woodsman.

The Woodsman was a legend in the Forest, rumoured to be a ruthless killer who would lop your head off before you could blink, an assassin for hire. Just having the name uttered in their presence sent the Bears into a tizzy. A shiver ran its cold fingers down Papa Bear’s back; Mama Bear fell into a dead faint, and Baby Bear had started to wail. When all was said and done, Mama Bear didn’t want to test Goldie’s limits so she’d said, let her ride out her vacation and then she’ll run off back home. It’s only three days.

That was three months ago.

“WHAT ARE YOU BITCH BEARS DOING UP THERE?!” he heard her yell again.

“We are COMING!” he shouted through gritted teeth as his body shook all over, trying to contain his rage.

“Papa!” Mama Bear whispered roughly. “Don’t antagonize her!”

“Don’t be GIVING me no attitude! Bitch ass bear,” said the voice from downstairs.

Papa Bear closed his eyes and breathed deeply, counting down from ten, while Mama Bear splashed water on her face and went to rouse Baby Bear out of bed. “Mama…” he whispered, his muzzle heavy on her neck. “Is the demon lady still here?” Her heart ached for him. Goldie liked to throw lit cigarettes at his paws so he would “Dance, bear, Dance!” while she cackled on the couch, her mouth full of Cheetos. Mama Bear didn’t answer her son, instead she just sighed and made her way downstairs.

*

The living room was Goldie’s domain; she’d turned it in to her own private den because she was too lazy to climb up and down the stairs to the bedrooms everyday (thank goodness for small mercies Mama Bear thought about that). She’d dropped her stick-skinny frame down onto the Bears’ sectional sofa and barely moved her ass ever since. The floor around her was surrounded by litter – old bags of potato chips, sticky spots of jam and peanut butter, bits of chocolate and cookie crumbs and, most of all, honey residue.

She spent her days watching The Real Housewives of Sherwood Forest and Sing Star and other bits of reality TV while stuffing her face with honey cakes, honey cookies, honey slathered on toast, honey with a little bit of tea splashed on it, honey-glazed ham, pork chops with honey glaze and spoonfuls of honey and lime for her perpetually ‘scratchy throat.’ Of course all this honey came from the Bears’ personal production; their only other source of income besides renting out their room. They relied on selling honey products not only to their short term tenants, but also at the market and online. Since Goldie had rocked up and commandeered the Bear’s lives, their entire production was going down her throat. They were broke, they were tired, they were hungry, and there was nothing they could do about it.

Papa Bear glared as he walked past Goldie on his way out to the garden. He wondered how it was that she a woman as thin as a rail could consume so much. Probably has worms…that’s why she’s always scratching her ass, heh heh heh…

“What’s so funny, bear?”

“Nothing…” he grumbled to himself as he made his way out to the garden to gather honey from the bees. Goldie glared after him, mumbling about ‘not getting any lip’ while she wiped her sticky hands on her sweatpants.

Outside, Papa Bear turned his face to the sun and heaved a heavy sigh as a few lazy bees buzzed around him. Collecting the honey each day was his only moment of peace, since Goldie was deathly allergic to bees. Papa Bear had tried several times to coax some of his bees to sting the shit out of her, but bees are not prone to doing bears’ bidding and are rarely suicidal. Once again, he reflected back on what his life had become: little more than slaves in their own home, Mama Bear forced to cook and bake and clean all the livelong day, her once voluptuous body whittled down to barely anything. His son forced to dance and sing until his heels bled and his voice gave out, and even then not allowed to stop, his mouth kept muzzled at nighttime. And he, Papa Bear, once the head of the household, a Bear of good standing in his community, now made to give manicures and pedicures and hot stone massages and…he shuddered…body scrubs.

How he yearned to rip her to shreds with his claws when he moved his hands over her shoulders all slathered with oil. “HARDER! PRESS HARDER! I AM SERIOUSLY STRESSED!” she would scream and it would take all his reserve to keep from killing her. Think on The Woodsman! Mama Bear would whisper furiously in his ear as they lay in bed at night. “How do you even know she really knows him?” Papa Bear would ask. “How would she get him a message? She could be bluffing!” But Mama Bear was too anxious, too cautious to take the chance. She would shake her head no and pat Papa on the shoulder and turn her back to him and cry herself to sleep.

*

Another three months went by. The Bears were thin, their fat melted away, their fur hanging around them from being run ragged and not having enough to eat: Goldie consumed everything and left them only enough scraps to ensure they didn’t pass out. Goldie had always been a thin woman, thin and hard, angular with sharp cheekbones and jutting collarbones, but six months of junk food and honey-based products had filled her out rather much more than she would have liked. Now she had a muffin top and a belly that jutted out like a parenthesis and pudgy upper arms. And although she was pretty pleased with her new junk in the trunk and lovely lady lumps, she was decidedly unhappy with the two-going-on-three chins hanging underneath her face.

“ALRIGHT BEARS, LISTEN UP!” she yelled one day at the startled beasts who were trying to quietly go about their business without raising the tyrant’s ire. “That’s enough honey, now!”

Damn right it is, thought Papa Bear. Jabba the hut looking motha…heh heh heh…

 “What’s so funny, Bear?” she snapped.

“Nothin’,” Papa Bear grumbled, looking sour.

“Here’s the deal,” Goldie continued. “We need to step it up. Looka this, looka this! What is this?” she cried as she grabbed her love handles and squeezed. “From now on, there’ll be no more honey in this house!”

Mama Bear just shook her head and Papa Bear huffed. They hadn’t had a lick of their own honey since Goldie had moved in, so what difference was her proclamation supposed to make?

“And what’s more, y’all are lazy! Just sitting around doing fuck-all all day. Why did you make me get so fat??!! This is your fault Bears, so you’re going to help me fix it. We’re working out every day, and we’re starting right now!”

And so began a new era of terror in the Bear household. Every day, Goldie forced them to wake at 4am and run 12 miles through the woods, do 2 hours of weight training, jump rope for 30 minutes straight and then do an hour and a half of yoga. To fuel this hard labour, they could eat only carrots, beets and celery for breakfast, lunch and dinner. The Bears, half dead from exhaustion and starvation, almost missed the lazy Goldie who so rarely moved her ass from the couch that there was a permanent dent in it.

The Bears and Goldie huffed and they puffed until, another three months later, the family looked more like sickly giraffes than grizzlies, their skin hanging off their frames, their fur gray and listless. But Goldie was as fit as a fiddle. With all the squatting, lunging and circuit training she was doing, her ass was high and firm, her stomach was flat and ridged, and her arms were defined, Michelle Obama style.

Girl got an ass like a donkey now, Papa Bear said appraisingly through his tired, heavy-lidded eyes as he listlessly moved from downward dog into plank position, where he promptly fell to his stomach in exhaustion.

“Get up, lazy ass Bear!” Goldie shouted.

But Papa Bear just lay there, he just couldn’t move. He glanced over at Mama Bear, who was lying sprawled on her back, sweat dripping down her fur, and over at Baby Bear, who’d been in child’s pose for half the yoga session, silently weeping into his mat.

“Mama Bear,” said Papa Bear, sotto voce. “I’ve just about had it with this crazy-ass bitch.”

Mama Bear grunted and nodded her head in assent.

“First she was as thin as a wiss and meaner than a stack of Mondays, ordering us around like a bunch of slaves, eating all our honey supply,” he continued.

“Mmm hmm,” said Mama Bear.

“Then she was all like fatty boom boom pie, as rude as a hot pepper seed, starving us and running us ragged with exercise.”

“Yes she did,” said Mama Bear

“But look at her now, Mama Bear. She’s got that bubble butt, she’s not just skin and bones, but she’s not too soft and pudgy. In fact, Mama Bear, I’d say she’s just right.”

“Indeed she is, Papa Bear,” murmured Mama Bear.

“I’m hungry!” Baby Bear squealed into his mat, his body still in child’s pose.

“Me too Baby Bear. In fact, I’m starving. Starving and fed up! You know what I think Mama Bear?”

“Wazzat?” mumbled Mama Bear.

“I think The Woodsman can go fuck himself. I say, if he’s gonna come, let him come. I say, I’d rather have my head chopped off with an axe than have this chick run our lives for one more day. What do you think, Mama Bear?”

Mama Bear went still, only her stomach, once round and full now concave, heaving up and down as she still tried to catch her breath. She thought back on what her family had become. How her poor son was treated like a half-rabid circus bear, caged and muzzled in his own room. How her husband, whose paws had once only been for her, had to rub down that masochistic bitch every night and day. How she herself had been reigning Honey Cake baking champion eight years running but had to bow out this year because Goldie had eaten all their honey. And her figure, once round and big like a bubble now looked like a deflated balloon.

She thought these things and she realized that she was no longer afraid. She thought these things and said to herself, let The Woodsman come. She thought these things and then said,

“Papa Bear,” she said. “I think…there’s meat for dinner.”

And the three Bears jumped up and looked at Goldie, who was standing in quite an impressive warrior’s pose.

“What are y’all looking at?” she snapped. “You guys need to focus! I’m in Warrior Two and you’re rolling around…hey, hey what are you doing?”

Because the Bears had started to creep towards her, their mouths open in snarls, drool dripping down their very sharp teeth.

“If I don’t make that call, my dad will leave a bad review! You’ll never work in Bear BnB again! The Woodsman will get you!!” said Goldie, frantically, as she backed herself into a corner.

But the Bears had had enough and they paid her no heed. Together, they hurled themselves on the gold-headed tyrant and ripped the meat from her bones and had themselves a good feed.

 

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