|acrylic on wood|
During the Apocalyptic war, Daniel Harden mated with a bear. The war lasted nine months. At the end of the war, the bear gave birth to a litter of humanoid mice, which roamed the Plains of Radiation.
It happened one cold night, during the nuclear winter. A grizzly, stoned from chemical fumes, lay down against the wall of an old incinerator. Daniel Harden, a deserter from the uranium unit, needed no invitation. He lay down beside the bear.
Every night, he struggled to find food and a method to not freeze to death. He broke into an abandoned houses, ate radiation-contaminated food, then looked for a warm place to sleep. Like many deserters, Daniel avoided villages and suburbs, where he could be stopped and questioned. A data police facial scan would reveal his deserter status within seconds. He would be arrested, thrown into solitary confinement, in a cell the size of a broom closet and subjected to advanced interrogation techniques. Torture agents demanded prisoners provide them with names of deserters, whistleblowers and those who defied central government, which was in the process of bringing back the feudal system.
Daniel Harden gazed into the bear’s half-closed eyes. The bear made a strange purring noise. Daniel could tell right away the bear was lonely. He snuggled up against the belly of the bear to stay warm. The bear shivered with reassurance and cradled Daniel in a bear hug. It began a slow kind of rocking and moaning, a sort of lying-down dance. Soon man and beast were swept into an emotional experience and floating in a sea of joy. Daniel felt a sense of wonderment and oneness with the universe. Even though civilization had been pretty much wiped out, Daniel marvelled that such moments of intimate sharing were still possible.
After hours of ecstatic contact during the night, Daniel and the bear agreed to work as a team. Together they wandered the Plains of Radiation. Daniel was good at finding food. The bear provided heat and shelter. Nine months later, a week after the drone attacks ended and a treaty was signed, dividing world into administrative units, the bear gave birth to thirteen mutate mice. The mice were able to survive on a diet of heavy metals such as lead, barium, cadmium and arsenic, which laced the soil. They alternated between excited states and states of rest. During the night, they released photoelectric waves in gorgeous hues of pink, violet, turquoise and green. It was easy to spot the mutate mice from a distance.