a charming tale by David W. Barbee
Tua was tending bar when the Surf Grizzlies came.
Some countries didn’t let their twelve-year-olds have jobs, much less jobs serving a cornucopia of alcoholic beverages to clueless white people. But the Dongo Isles was a tiny little nation on the Pacific Rim suckling at the teat of international tourism, so the grownups figured that if Tua had a knack for serving mojitos to the rich tourists, then they should let the boy earn a living.
His bar was a square tiki hut up on the beach. Tua served his patrons, who slouched on their stools nursing afternoon buzzes, and they all cheered and complimented his precocious bartender act. The boy only shrugged at their sly compliments.
The beach was full of umbrellas and tents and recreational junk. There were tons of people with sizzling bare skin, lounging about and building sandcastles. Swimmers floated on boogie boards and foam noodles out in the salty waves.
But then it happened.
Cresting over the horizon on a giant tidal wave came the Surf Grizzlies.
Surf Grizzlies rode the waves across every ocean of the world, an army of massive bears on surfboards. Their origin was a mystery, and no one ever knew where or when they would show up. All anyone could be sure of was that the Surf Grizzlies only took to shore when they were hungry.
Tua saw hundreds of them, roaring loudly over the sound of the crashing waves. They stood square on their boards, dark fur spiky with wetness, and roared as they closed in on the beach. Tua hurried across his tiki hut and grabbed a megaphone from under the bar.
“Surf Grizzlies!” he announced, and then ducked down under the bar. Everyone was on their own now.
The bar patrons scattered. Some down on the beach looked out and saw the giant bears riding the wave. There were screams. Panic. Those quick enough to understand what was happening began stampeding up the beach away from the water. Swimmers frantically paddled for shore, the strong ones kicking past the slow. Children were left behind.
As the wave behind them grew bigger, the bears rode their boards down the swell, closing in on the beach. A Grizzly that had to be six hundred pounds ripped ahead of the pack, zigging and zagging toward the swimmers. The beast grabbed a small child in its maw and bit into its skull, sending blood and brains exploding out. The beast whipped the corpse back and forth in its jaws and then dropped it into the rushing water as it surfed towards bigger game.
More of the bears charged in towards the beach, crushing swimmers under their thick boards and slicing bodies in half with swipes of their great claws. The bears roared again in unison and more of them spilled onto the beach as the wave crashed down.
Dozens of bears made landfall and abandoned their boards to chase down any humans straggling behind. They killed dozens of people and the tide surged red from the carnage.
Overall, most of the people escaped into the jungle or for the safety of the resort. The bears roared after them but didn’t follow. Tua looked up from his hiding place behind the bar. The bears were standing on their hind legs and sticking their surfboards into the sand. Then they turned and ambled up the beach towards him.
Tua had heard stories of the Surf Grizzlies. They hated walking on land, and wouldn’t stay on the island long. Just long enough for a quick drink.
As they came up to the tiki hut, Tua began mixing up mai tais. The bears grunted at him and he served up their drinks in a hurry. The Surf Grizzlies drank and roared and Tua managed to keep all of them happy, even as their entire pack crowded around his bar. He mixed cosmos and kamikazes as fast as he could to prevent being eaten.
The Surf Grizzlies got royally and savagely drunk over the next hour.
Just before Tua ran out of alcohol, the Surf Grizzlies left his bar and took to their boards. They surfed away into the sunset, leaving the Dongo Isles behind. Tua didn’t know if he’d ever see a Surf Grizzly attack again. But he hoped that whatever place the bears struck next would be stocked with plenty of booze.