When the past speaks to us in the modern world, its messages are often written in stone. Rock carvings called petroglyphs are among the most ancient of artifacts documenting human civilization. Among the most common stone carvings in North America are those of bear paws with claw marks, which seems to be a Native American symbol as they are often found on sandstone near the sites of former Indian settlements. Such settlements are believed to date from the Woodland Period, which ran from 1000 B.C. to the Native Americans' first contact with Europeans in the 17th century. The fact is that we just don't know the hidden meanings of picture inscriptions handed down to us through the misty veils of time.

As Native Americans were slowly driven out and decimated by the encroaching Europeans, the meaning of the bear claw petroglyphs was further lost in time, and the spirits represented by the stone etchings slumbered forgotten...that is, until the 21st century rudely intruded upon the sleeping spirits...

They came with their kegs and their boom-boxes, spray-painting satanic graffiti upon the cliffs where the bear petroglyphs had slumbered for so long. These were not the Native Americans who had respectfully and reverently etched the petroglyphs in stone so long ago, but rather neo-pagans who respected only their own appetites. The spirits harbored in stone took notice of this, and were not pleased when the barbarians cast stones at squirrels and other wild creatures in the area, and voided their urine on the trees and the cliffs themselves. When one of the pagans took a hammer to the ancient symbols carved in stone so long ago, the spirits couldn't restrain their anger any longer...

A rumbling sound as if of the grinding and shifting of heavy stone preceded the extraction of the great bear from the cliff. He was heavy and massive, being incarnate in the stone itself, and he emerged a piece at a time, beginning with a massive paw pulling free of the stone to be followed by a huge, shaggy head. A mouth opened on the head, giving vent to a roar that was ursine, yet rooted deep within the living earth itself. The rock face continued to crack and crumble as the other foreleg of the bear broke free, extending claws that grappled with the rocky cliff as the creature wrenched his body from the stone which had birthed him. Freed completely, the bear leaped from the face of the cliff, landing on the ground with a resounding impact. The bear of stone rose to his hind legs and growled a challenge to the human intruders that rolled and echoed through the woods for miles around.

The humans ceased their raucous partying and fled for their lives with the great stone bear in pursuit, some making it to their vehicles and others running frantically into the deep woods. Rearing to his full height the bear towered over an empty car before smashing his ponderous bulk down upon it, crumbling the vehicle almost flat and raking it with his claws. As the last of the humans disappeared, the bear again let out a resounding bellow of triumph. He then lumbered back to the face of the cliff, extended himself against it, and within moments again became one with it.

The local authorities grinned and rolled their eyes at the stories they were later told of giant stone bears and being pursued by one; they figured that some kids had gotten into some bad acid or weed, and put a creative spin on how a rock slide had taken out one of their vehicles. But when they came to remove the wreckage, no fallen rocks were in sight and the linear gouged marks on the sheet metal couldn't be readily explained...

...and overhead in the clear night sky, the constellation Ursa Minor continued to circle the North Star, as it had since before the dawn of man and would continue to do after his departure...