Dale finished up a song with a flourish, strumming his guitar so violently that the pick nearly flew out of his hand. The group around the campfire clapped, some laughing at Rod’s terrible and boisterous singing.
A folk song was suggested and Dale fiddled with the placement of his capo, trying to find the easiest key for everyone to sing in. He started testing out a few chords, then picked up the tempo to an upbeat tune. He was so focused on the difficulty of the rapid chord changes that he failed to notice when everyone went silent.
Finally, the lack of other voices hit him as he reached the chorus. He paused his playing and looked up, planning to ask why no one else was singing, but the words died on his lips.
There, standing on the edges of camp, was a bear.
Dale’s entire body went slack. His guitar would have rolled off his lap and into the fire if he hadn’t been wearing a strap over his shoulder. The bear was standing on its hind legs, its nose sniffing the air. It opened its mouth and bellowed a few sounds.
Dale was frozen, his heartbeat drumming in his ears. What did the sounds mean? Was it angry? Why was it just standing there?
Then the bear made the same sounds, and Dale recognised the tune from the song he’d just been playing.