Reap What You Sew

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Mr. Bear woke up, on the evening of July 19th, 1937, and was utterly stunned by the fact he had done so. As far as he knew, toys weren't typically alive, and having consciousness thrust upon oneself spontaneously took a short time to fully adjust to. So there he sat, among several of his inanimate brethren, and pondered for awhile his purpose in the world - the reason for his existence.

It was awfully difficult to contemplate the meaning of life while everyone around him was crying, though. Not the other stuffed animals (they weren't doing very much at all, in fact… layabouts), but the people. Lots of tiny, little people in their own little beds, with the occasional big people in matching uniforms flitting about and tending to them. Two of the big people - whose names appeared to be Sir and Doctor - were standing a few feet away from perhaps the littlest people in the room, a teeny pink one snoozing away in a tiny windowed chamber.

Sir had a lot of questions for Doctor, and Doctor seemed hesitant to answer them definitively. From what Mr. Bear could gather; the pink people wasn't supposed to have been born yet, and that Doctor and his (Collies? Did he hear that right?) had done all they could, but it was 'out of their hands'.

Doctor used quite a few large words to describe all the health issues Pinky was dealing with, and when the began talking about odds and chances Sir cried louder than all the little people put together.

Mr. Bear felt terrible for Sir. He very much wanted to give him a big hug, because that seemed like the right thing to do, but he figured the stress from seeing an animate toy wouldn't do him very good at all, and so he stayed put. Doctor ushered Sir out of the room for some time to compose himself (Mr. Bear thought it was rather silly for Sir to be making music at a time like this, but he didn't say so).

Sir came back a short time later with Honey, who seemed just as distraught as Sir was earlier. They sat and watched Pinky for awhile, and Mr. Bear came to learn Pinky's real name was Micheal. Mr. Bear chanced a downward glance and found that the tag affixed to his paw had the name 'Micheal' scrawled onto it. He figured that this must be his purpose: to help teeny Micheal in any way he could, if indeed a stuffed bear was capable of such a thing.

That night, Mr. Bear left his post, shimmied up the leg of Micheal's chamber, and peered through the glass. He was struck by a sudden understanding, an innate sense of all the imperfections in the infants underdeveloped system - his heart beat erratically, his brain wasn't receiving the proper amount of oxygen, his bones were brittle and frail, and his lungs were barely functioning. Mr. Bear was terrified. There wasn't a part of him that wasn't failing!

He had to act fast, but wasn't sure what needed doing - until of course he vomited a small pair of scissors and a length of string. Now, this may have been a shock to some; but hey, Mr. Bear was a sapient stuffed animal, so it didn't seem very odd to him. Instinct kicked in and guided his actions.

He worked underneath the table. Mrs. Nurse and some similarly-dressed people came and went, so he made sure he was out of sight as he fashioned all the necessary bobs and bits for the child. Mr. Giraffe was the first casualty, followed by misters Lion and Tiger (they didn't seem to mind the sacrifice all that much). Little by little, he'd construct a replacement organ from the velveteen flesh of his comrades. Upon completion, all he had to do was concentrate, and it would manifest in his patient.

His task complete, Mr. Bear hurried up to his spot on the table (it was a bit lonelier there than before), and played dead.

Mr. Bear looked on in horror at the inferno his residence had become. He had been lying outside in the wet grass (Michael had abandoned him for a shiny red ball the other day, and neglected to return for him) when it started, and now all he could do was watch the blaze eat its way through the house.

He wondered what they would do now, where would they live? He and Micheal had become fast friends (though, Micheal would get cross whenever the adults looked over, and Mr. Bear acted as if he was a normal stuffed bear), over the past two years, and he couldn't imagine himself anywhere else outside the place he'd come to think of as home. This line of thought was shattered by a scream coming from within the house. Micheal was still inside.

Mr. Bear was off as fast as his stubby legs would carry him. He squirmed his way in through an open window and plopped into the kitchen. Smoke clouded his vision, and the hungry flames made traversing the collapsing house safely a nigh-impossible feat - but traverse he did. He followed the sound of Micheal screams, making it through the lower floor and into the furnace of a living room. He could make out a small shape at the bottom of the stairs, barely moving.

He rushed forward, falling to his knees at the boys side. Micheal was coated head-to-toe in burns, his hair had been singed off, and what was left of his clothes had fused to his flesh in places. Mr. Bear frantically looked about, searching for something he could use to repair him, anything, but it was all going up in flames.

Mr. Bear panicked, there was no way he could help him here, they had to get out. He tried and he tried to move him, to drag him to safety, but he could barely lift the boys arm, let alone the weight of his whole body. Mr. Bear sat down, trying with all his might to think up a way to make him well again. He sat and cried and hugged the child, as the floor quaked, and the ceiling gave. Together, they plummeted into the Earth.

Long after the blaze had been snuffed, long after the thick, black plumes finally thinned and dissipated, long after the looky-loos and the gawkers had their fill of excitement, Thomas and Amelia Farris sat waiting on the edge of their property. Much like the firefighters and construction personnel, they operated in shifts. One would rest at the motel, while the other remained vigilant. The hope that they would be reunited with their child had left days ago, (a fantasy they had momentarily entertained before the structure collapsed) so now all that was left to do was to wait for whatever remained, so that they may lay him to rest.

At the moment, they were both present. Almost all of the debris had been cleared, and they were expecting the find within the hour.

"Mr. and Mrs. Farris?"

Kyle Mitchell, a local boy and firefighter-trainee who had been assisting in the cleanup, approached. He had been perhaps the most resolute of his company, diligently working sunrise to sunset with the others, and late into the night by himself to help find their boy.

"Yes? Did you," Amelia looked hopeful, "find him?"

Boy shook his head, "We'll keep looking, but there's practically nothing left to look through. I'm just— well, we found this."

He produced a stuffed bear. A small brown one that Thomas had picked up for his son when he was born. The thing was horribly filthy - having been caked in dirt and ash and absolutely soaking wet.

"I'm really, very sorry. I don't expect this to even be a slight consolation," he spoke carefully, as if each word carried with it the weight of the world, "but I really do hope it helps."

They took it from Kyle, and despite the stench and the grime, held the last piece of their son close between them. If Thomas hadn't known better, he would've sworn the bear was hugging them back. They nodded a silent thanks, both afraid their grief would taint any words of appreciation, and Kyle trekked back to his work.

Kyle Mitchell strode away from the scene that night, as the final truck hauled away the last remnants of the Farris' house, quietly tucking a stray tuft of stuffing into his pocket.

As strange and as unfamiliar as Life had been, Mr. Bear was completely bewildered by whatever Un-life he was experiencing. The final shred of himself, a wisp of cotton falling through the aether. He existed (if one could call it that) in this state for an eternity, unable to see or hear or move or act.

A strange sensation arose - which was odd, because he didn't think he'd ever feel anything ever again. It started as a numb tingling, then gave way to full proprioceptive awareness. He could feel himself inside his body - or at least, he thought so at first. He wiggled his limbs a bit, realizing the proportions were all wrong (he didn't remember being so tall), and he was missing his fuzzy hair.

When the rest of his senses returned, he found himself face to face with his reflection; in a mirror propped up upon a table in the kitchen of a small apartment. He was composed of a colorful blend of patterned textiles - not at all like the drab brown of his old body. Seams ran every which way, holding all. Gone was his shiny plastic nose. The one he wore now was embroidered right into the fabric, along with a brand-new smile (didn't have one of those before, neat!) and a pair of eyes. An anatomically-correct pin of a heart was stuck right to his chest.

"How are you feeling?"

Mr. Bear would have been startled by the voice, had it not been so soft and gentle and tinged with genuine concern. A big people stood over his shoulder. Seeing the strangers face, and the kindness in his eyes, gave Mr. Bear the impression that he really was an old friend that he'd somehow forgotten.

"It isn't perfect, and I'm not sure you'll ever really be right again, but it's the best I could do."

Mr. Bear wasn't exactly able to articulate his gratefulness, given the lack of a functioning mouth; so he simply turned and hugged his newfound-friend.

"Ha! Glad you like it."

The man broke the embrace, and knelt down to retrieve a small, empty gift-box up off the floor. Its exterior shined with a glossy patchwork of designs that matched Mr. Bear's new fabric. He placed it on the table, whipped out a small card and began jotting something down onto it.

"Everything you've done, everything you're capable of doing - can't go to waste. There are more out there who are going to need you." He finished the note, and turned it around for Mr. Bear to see. On the card, in a neat, blue, cursive script:

Hello! My name is Kairos!

Mr. Bear tilted his head at the name, and looked back and forth between it and his benefactor.

"It's ancient Greek, roughly meaning 'right or opportune moment'; I figured it suited you." He answered with a polite smile." Just as you've already done, you're going to find that perfect, opportune moment to swoop in and be there for others where none else can."

Kairos nodded gleefully, clapping his chubby little bear arms in excitement. The mysterious altruist lifted him up, nestled him affectionately in the box, and tucked the note alongside him. He waved 'goodbye' to the bear, and reached down for the lid.

The last thing Kairos saw before the lid shut and he was sent off to places unknown, was a loving smile, and a pair of kind eyes.

Micheal sat on the observation table, doodling away at a picture of his family at their old house and kicking his bear-legs to and fro. After putting the finishing touches on Mr. Bear, he threw the crayon to the ground and leaped up to show the researchers.

He tried to point to himself, his human self, but he couldn't specify very well without actual fingers. Everyone simply smiled and nodded or giggled and sent him on his beary way. Walking through the halls of Site-27, Micheal silently huffed. None of them understood him, like, really understood him like Mr. Bear did. If only Mr. Bear was still around, he'd know what to do…

Micheal stopped mid-stride. Why didn't he think of it before? If he needed a new Mr. Bear, well, he could just make one!

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