“Is he in there?” Chuck asked.
Luis couldn’t see the mouth of the cave anymore, but that was by choice. He hid behind Chuck and Catsandra. After finding out who Barry was, Luis wanted no part in disturbing him.
“How I am supposed to know?” Catsandra said. “It’s dark.”
The brisk morning breeze caused Luis to shiver. Unfortunately for him, it proved to be the least of his worries. A roar from behind sent the dog jumping, forcing him face-first into Catsandra. As he turned to look, an enormous black beast stood in front of them, its breath outlined in the cool, damp air.
“There he is,” Catsandra said, her tone casual and calm.
Luis felt just the opposite. He couldn’t stop shaking.
The bear laughed. “Sorry, little one,” he said, apparently speaking to Luis. “I can never pass up an opportunity to scare someone.”
“Oh.” It was all Luis could muster at first. “No problem.”
Though the Chihuahua expressed relief, the sheer size of Barry still intimidated him.
“Are you busy?” Catsandra asked.
“It’s that time of year,” Barry said. “Of course I am.” He paused. “Why? Is there something you need?”
Catsandra stared at the dog. “Luis here is looking for a friend. He’s on his way to see Reagle.”
“He could use some muscle in the event he runs into trouble.”
“I see. It’s a bad time, though. I’m fattening up for the winter months, and I’ll be hibernating soon.”
“Oh, right,” she said. “I forgot about that.” Catsandra pondered for a while before continuing. “I have an idea.”
“You often do, Cat. I’m listening.”
“It’s only a day’s hike, and there’s a lot of vegetation in the foothills. You’ll be back in a couple of days, and you can have your fill along the way.”
Luis watched as Barry’s eyes narrowed. “You make a good point,” the bear said.
“If it matters at all, I’ll be going as well,” Catsandra said.
Those words astonished Luis, and he found comfort in the cat’s decision. “Thank you.”
“What about you, Chuck?” Barry asked. “You’re in the same situation as me. Won’t you be hibernating soon?”
“My burrow is ready for the winter,” he said. “A few days won’t matter.”
Luis thought of something, but he hesitated to speak. After deliberating for a few seconds, he posed a question. “I don’t know much about bears, but don’t you typically eat animals like… Chuck?”
Barry’s shoulders bobbed from amusement. “A fair question, little one. Most bears might, but not me.”
“I’m a vegetarian.”
“Yeah,” Chuck said. “Do you think I would have tagged along otherwise?”
© Kevin Hopson 2015