Have you ever walked down the streets of Bismark, North Dakota, braving the ravaging cold and most likely getting frostbite somewhere? You may come across a small gray, unnoticeable little building. A little auto shop called "Gary's Auto Shop." It's been there for over twenty years. The man who runs it is, of course, Gary. He's a nice sort of folk. He's usually in the back working on the cars, but you can occasionally catch him in the gray little lobby in front with posters for Fords, a 1974 Ford Mustang in particular, and a public safety advisory saying, "Make sure to check your oil; it could save your life."
Gary himself is a stout looking man of 55, graying hair, a big walrus mustache - one of the last few independent car mechanics, one of the last truly independent car mechanics there are.
If you were to go through the door and hear the little bell, and catch him and ask him ... well, you'd usually find one of his sons, Alistair or John. Their mother was British. Ask them to help fix your car; they'll give you a fair price.
But that's not really how they made their money, not for about eight years anyways. No, no. You see, another remarkable feat about Gary's Auto Shop is that Gary's Auto Shop always seemed to have a lot of cars in it.
About eight years ago, that wasn't a thing. Until Gary decided that he was tired of his business not succeeding, and he tragically and sadly broke his morals and started chopping up stolen cars. His son Alistair had been arrested the year previously for stealing a few cars. He had the connections and pretty soon he was making hands over fist.
Now, Gary felt guilty for a while, horrible and tragic. He hated what his good, honest shop had turned into. Then about two years into it, he caught himself enjoying the work. It was challenging and invigorating, and he actually felt the adrenaline rush from the danger that he had never felt before working in his old shop. Although he would never admit this. Outwardly and occasionally he still put on the face of being sad and heartbroken, that he "had to do this." But he loved it. He loved it. He loved nothing more than to do it.
And almost every day, he got up and he sang a little happy song and he could chop up any car. He even had a reputation in the underground for chopping them up fast, and clean, and efficient. His mother always said in a vaguely Swedish North Dakotan accent, "Gary, crime doesn't pay." He shrugged his shoulders now when he thought of that.
It was on one of these blessed and happy days of him doing illegal things that his son Alistair and his other son John came in looking despondent. He didn't know exactly what was going on with John. John was always a little bit of a moody child, not like his twin brother Alistair who was a take charge sort of person. Gary didn't say much. He tried to start the conversation a few times going like, "Gosh there son, how's it going there boy?" But he said it quietly and vaguely under his breath and he figured John didn't really hear him until he looked his father in the eyes as his dad was cleaning off a favorite wrench of his.
"Dad. Do you think the world has, you know, like ... is rational and stuff?"
"Oh god, well you know son, I would say that, you know, that you know that, yeah."
"Thanks Dad," said John as he went back to man the front desk. What was the boy talking about though?
Two hours into the day and he hadn't seen John for a little bit and as he went to the bathroom he could hear crying. Gary decided that John must be going through something and he closed the bathroom door. He heard the little ring coming from the front office. He'd deal with it. He walked out. First he didn't see anybody, and then he saw her. A tall muscular woman with short, cropped, blonde hair and a large fur coat. The Bear had come to see him.
"Hello Gary," she said.
"Hello," he said.
"Tell me, did John come in to work today?"
"No," said Gary.
"Now Gary, don't make this weird."
"No, no, John didn't come to work today. I don't know where he is. You know, that boy, he gets into so much trouble, he's probably dead or something."
Fortunately Gary didn't feel much. A bullet to the brain is a pretty painless way to go.
Just a few hours later John woke up in the dark trunk. "What's going on?" AHHH!" he screamed out loud. The Bear opened the trunk, puling him out. He had been tied with rope, and stripped, and she pointed a revolver at his head.
"Please don't do this," said John.
As they trudged through the snow of the barren tundra in the middle of North Dakota, seemingly no one was around except hills, and rocks, and snow. It was the citizenry of this place John thought.
"You don't gotta do this you know," John said.
"Oh, don't I?" said The Bear. She lead him out into a small, secluded area. When they finally stopped he was surrounded by wilderness, the road totally unmissable. He knelt and began to cry.
"Please, I have a family."
The Bear was unimpressed.
"So do I, you don't see me crying." She loudly whistled and started to walk away. In the background she could hear the wolves growl.
It was after these sorts of things that The Bear wasn't exactly sure what to do with herself - her work for the day finished. She didn't feel relaxed; she felt un-relaxed, if that was a thing that could be achieved by a human being. A distinct un-relaxment. As she drove she called home. Her husband picked up. Her husband was always smartly dressed. At work he wore a dark navy blue sports coat and at home he wore a slightly different dark blue navy sports coat, but this time with a red turtle neck. He would have been right at home as a classy movie PI in the '70s. He was the type of man if he walked into a gray building in a jumpsuit that was the exact same shade of gray, he would still stand out. But his eyes were the thing most people noticed about him, deep and soulful but having a distinct sly look about them, almost like a fox.
"Hello," he said.
"Hey," she said.
"I assume the job is going smoothly," he drifted off very slightly.
"Oh, you know, it's a job."
"I just got a message from Bob that says 'I'll be near you pretty soon.'
The Bear never smiles, but she did have a very subtle grin on her face then. "Well, talk to you then," she said. She hung up the phone. They were never on for longer than 30 seconds. You can't really be in their line of work. It was then that she stopped at Bev's All American, and the full depth of what the world is and was becoming was immediately apparent to her ... would become more apparent to her and would change the very course of history.
Ah, the classic American diner! A cool, comfortable, casual place where people who've worked a long, hard day can relax and eat and get a simple meal where nobody judges them. It's been in existence in some form or another for hundreds of years. Everybody needs that cool, comfortable, casual locale to relax, to unwind after a happy day. Bev's All-American had been around since 1995. It was founded by Bev, although Bev has long since died. She was a decent cook. Not a great cook but not a terrible cook either. So perfect for diner food.
The Bear had been there a few times when she had worked jobs up here and her day had been long and tough and arduous, and she just really needed something quick before she went back to her motel room. Of course, something was different. The outside looked the same. It was normal as it had always been, but inside, everything was frozen in a beautiful, reflective ice. It felt pleasant to touch. It seemed smooth. Even the terrified looking people that had been frozen to death, instantly, seemed smooth to the touch.
"Oh, hello! I didn't see anybody come in," the voice said, not coming from anywhere.
"I didn't mean to interrupt anything," said The Bear.
It was in with the ice from the floor and grew and grew and grew into a man shaped thing.
"Hello," said the ice-shaped man.
"So what happened here?" said The Bear.
"Oh, I don't know. I killed them all.”
"Can people do things like that?"
"No. People can't. I can. I have that ability, or power, or what have you," said the man-shaped ice.
"Interesting. Why do you do this?"
“Don't know. Because I could, I guess. “
The Bear looked at the frozen people.
“ I don't feel sad for them. They've had wonderful lives; it's much better like this than they could have had, with the whole conventional lifes that they were living. They're royalty now, first of a new race. I've made them do so many things that you wouldn't believe," he said feeling the chin of one of them lovingly.
"You like to become one?" he said.
"No, no, I don't think so," said The Bear.
"That's fair, that's fair. I will need an ambassador," he said.
"So what are you gonna do now?" said The Bear.
"I do not know. Tell me, do humans still exist?" he said.
"Pretty sure," said The Bear.
"That's good to know. Maybe I should work on that," he said.
"For sure, for sure," said The Bear.
This story is true, it took place in North Dakota in 2010. The names have been changed to protect the innocent, the rest has not.