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Tragedy in Andorra


The 26 eclectic-genre short stories for my #AtoZChallenge are excerpts from travelogue notes by
novel character Gahlen, who first appeared in SHARDS OF MEMORY – Oral History in a Heartbeat.

Each A-to-Z daily post is a complete, stand-alone tale.

CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=664147

Tragedy in Andorra
Genre: Psychological Fiction
(390 words)

An unprecedented storm hit Andorra, in the heart of the Pyrenees, blanketing everything with ten feet of snow. Trails forged by animals and humans were obliterated. Winter supplies must suffice until the advent of spring.
By instinct, animals hibernated early to halt their metabolism. Humans could conserve energy only by slowing their bodily functions and sleeping through a cold spell. But they knew no precautions against wild animals foraging for food were necessary. All of nature slept.
When the sun emitted a dose of warmth, families escaped their habitats. Children and pets romped over hardened surfaces. Parents dried out damp possessions. A ringing bell signaled everyone to return home.
One late-season outing, clear skies offered promise of an early spring. People welcomed the fresh air. Flanks of white-capped mountains sprouted yellow and purple flowers.
When the bell rang, people grumbled that no danger existed in such glimmering light. Tanned hides protected their bodies from the brisk wind. Why not enjoy the outdoors until sunset?
A growl, followed by sharp snorts led to ear-splitting screams. A commotion followed as bears lumbered forward. The confused adults had been assured that bears hibernated all winter.
But one human alone in Andorra was steeped in matters of nature. Her mad rantings, as others often described the woman’s teachings, warned of such dangers. Bears did not hibernate, she said, but only took measures to conserve energy through cold spells. Their sustained body temperatures allowed them to forage on warm days. As spring approached, bears would move about more often, searching for early signs of food after an exceptionally long winter. Her words fell on deaf ears.
Panic intensified as the bears advanced. Mothers cradling children ran toward safety. Some fell, writhing in terror. Screams became whimpers. Bears retreated to their dens with bloody caches. Adults were forced to seek shelter emptyhanded. Winter dragged on.
Curses directed at the mad woman soon replaced anguished cries. Many proclaimed it “her fault” that their children were gone. She never explained the nature of bears in the Pyrenees. Having shirked her duty, she must pay.
After nine months of despair, spring arrived. Men scraped frozen doors open. Women inventoried available food. Dogs remained vigilant around children. From that day forward, no one discussed the Pyrenees winter incident.
But beside a deserted trail, each year a burial mound sunk lower.


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