Previous Challenge Entry (Level 2 – Intermediate)
Topic: Crime and Punishment (not about the book) (07/21/11)
TITLE: Achilles' Heel
By marcella franseen
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It was a beautiful morning in Northwest Montana. A male pileated woodpecker hammered away at an ant-infested log-his drumming a back-drop for the songs of the robin and thrush. The great black bear moved his heavy form through trees and brush, never losing his focus-the draw of the honey like the Siren’s song. Overhead, two sparrows took turns diving at a hawk who had inadvertently perched on a branch close to their nest. But the great brown bear took no notice of the drama, intent on his mission. He was close. The scent he had been following so strong now, it was almost intoxicating. Big drops of saliva fell from his mouth as he anticipated the treat that awaited him.
He raised himself up onto his hind legs again, stretching his body out tall and lean. He hardly moved his massive brown form. Erect and stout, he resembled the trees he stood with. His eyes darted to and fro as he searched for the hive that had been beckoning him. A small breeze ruffled through his thick fur and brought to his nose that last piece of information he needed. He turned his head sharp, fell on all fours, and took off for a tree 50 feet to his right.
A little more than half-way up, in a cavity in the tree, was the hive. The great black bear wrapped his arms around the trunk of the tree as if to give it a hug, but instead, drove his claws into the bark-heaving his massive frame up off the ground. His muscles rippled with the effort as he moved further and further up the tree-the buzz of the hive growing louder until he could almost feel the vibration under his skin. Finally, he reached his mark. Steadying himself against a large branch, he reached one enormous paw into the tree’s cavity and pulled out a large chunk of comb dripping with honey.
The bees flew at him from every direction in a desperate attempt to protect what was theirs. Again and again the enormous paw seized another piece of their home-stealing the fruit of their labor and destroying their young larvae. Increasingly furious, the bees wielded the only weapon allotted them by God-the bee sting-but their efforts were futile against the bears thick fur and tough skin. All hope seemed lost that there would be justice this day, until one bee-half-crazed with fury- found his mark. Landing on the bear’s nose, he thrust his weapon into the soft, tender tissue. The great black bear opened his mouth wide and let out a cry. Rubbing his nose with his sticky paw, he began his descent down the tree. He had satisfied his craving and was now ready to search out water for his wounded nose.
The bees still buzzed around the remnant of their hive, confused and angry. With no one left to castigate, they violently beat their wings in the air as if the atmosphere itself were guilty of the crime. At the base of the tree lay one dead bee, having given his life for the blow that counted; his tiny body evidence that the crime had not gone unpunished.
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