“Who is it?” Momma Bear yelled from the kitchen.
“It’s a man,” Baby Bear called over his shoulder from the front door.
“What does he want?”
“I don’t know.”
“Well, ask him!”
“You ask him.”
Momma Bear took the saucepan of porridge off the hob and, wiping her hands on her flowery apron, went to the front door. Baby Bear scurried back to his PlayStation.
Momma Bear looked the man up and down. As humans go, he was a particularly skinny specimen, dressed in an ill-fitting suit and sporting a tattered tie spattered with gravy.
“Yes, love?” Momma Bear smiled. “Only I’ve got to get the porridge on and Daddy Bear doesn’t like it if the porridge is late.”
“Understandable,” the man smiled back. “No one likes to be kept waiting for porridge.”
“So, what can I do for you, Mister – ah…?”
“Oats,” said the man.
“Sorry; I need all mine for the porridge. Did I mention I was making porridge?”
“It’s my name: Nathaniel Oats. I’m here to make your lives better.”
“Oh?” Momma Bear folded her long, furry arms. “And how are you going to do that, then?”
“If I may?” Nathaniel Oats stepped over the threshold. Momma Bear moved sideways to let him in. Nathaniel Oats looked around the bears’ cottage with an appreciative eye.
“Nice,” he said. “You’ve really made it all nice and cosy. It’s lovely. Charming.”
“Thanks,” Momma Bear blushed.
“And we wouldn’t want anything to happen to this lovely, charming cottage, would we?”
Momma Bear bristled. “What do you mean? Like what? What would happen?”
Nathaniel Oats strode over to a window, flanked by chintz curtains. “This, for example. A delightful fixture, to be sure, but it’s just the right size for any passing delinquent to climb through.”
“There’s a lot of them about,” Nathaniel Oats pouted sadly. “You need to secure it with sturdy locks.”
“I can get you a discount. Now, this furniture… Is it Shaker?”
“I don’t know…”
“Is it insured? That’s the important question.”
“I really don’t know. Daddy Bear deals with that side of things.”
“Imagine: some delinquent gets in through that very window and starts smashing the place up. That chair your delightful son is using, for example. Where would he sit to play his gratuitously violent videogames?”
Momma Bear wrung her front paws. “I don’t understand. How would the delinquent get in if the window is secured by sturdy locks?”
Nathaniel Oats ignored the question. He stood at the foot of the staircase and peered at the upper floor. “What’s up here?”
He bounded up the steps. Momma Bear lumbered after him.
“Just a bedroom. Where we sleep.”
“What? All three of you?” He cast a disparaging look at the three single beds, lined up in order of size.
“I can do you a deal on a home improvement loan. Put up a partition wall. Give you some privacy. Your son’s a growing boy…”
“I don’t know,” Momma Bear chewed at a claw. “My husband…”
As if on cue, Daddy Bear burst into the bedroom. He roared and bared his teeth. “What’s going on here, then?”
“Darling,” Momma Bear stepped in front of the human. “It’s not what it looks like.”
“Oh, lord, no!” Nathaniel Oats peered over a hairy shoulder. “It’s all above board. Allow me to present my business card.”
He proffered a small rectangle with flowery writing on. Daddy Bear snatched it, taking the human’s arm and shoulder with it. Nathaniel Oats fell screaming onto the nearest bed, which happened to be Baby’s.
Baby Bear tore up the stair to see what the commotion was about.
“Who’s that bleeding on my bed?” he gasped.
“Never you mind,” said Daddy Bear. He ripped out the human’s throat to stop him screaming. Baby Bear rolled his eyes and went back down to his digital massacre.
“Look at this mess,” Momma Bear wailed. “Do you know how hard it is to get blood out of candlewick? And I’ve still got the porridge to do…”
Daddy Bear turned the business card over in his dripping claws. “It’s alright, love,” he grinned. “You can sack off the porridge for one night. Tonight we shall feast on Oats!”
He threw back his huge head and bellowed thunderous laughter.
All right for you, Momma Bear grumbled to herself as she dragged the corpse to the kitchen. You don’t have to cook the bloody thing.
One response to “Meanwhile, at a Cottage in the Woods…”
A great story. Much better than the original with that woke specimen Goldilocks.