Once there was a Man. No one knew his name. He was simply known as The Man. Most people avoided him for he had three long scars: one running down his cheek, another down his neck and at last onto his chest. Rumor had it that in his younger days he had fought a grizzly bear unarmed and lived.
He married a woman know as Nevaeh. She was the prettiest, sweetest, wisest woman in the small village that The Man lived in.
The village was by the railway tracks. Every day at 8:00 in the morning and 5:00 in the evening the train would come with people who wanted to stay and take away the people who wanted to leave the village.
No one knew what happened to the people that left the village. They never came back. The people that came on the train always arrived at exactly 8:01 every day and no one knew where they came from. They all were very beautiful and wise but they looked pale and misty.
Legend had it that they came from the same place that The Man came from: A cloudy place at the end of the tracks that the sun shone through and birds with a plumage of complete black came from. A place twenty six miles away form the village that the train came from.
Nevaeh said the tracks reached up into the clouds and the train came down from this mysterious place with people that lived on the other side of the cloud; a place shrouded by the huge cloud that covered miles of ground, hiding anything that may have been behind it.
She said that this cloud place was ruled by a very old man in a black suit who was bent over and crooked and walked with a wooden cane. She said he stayed up in the cloud place all the time and never came down. But when the train arrived, he was the one, she said, who allowed the train to pass into the cloud place and come out again. He was a sort of station master, she said and all the old, crippled people went there on the train where the old man tapped them on the shoulder with his stick and let them pass into the cloud place where they remained forever, young and strong again.
During the time they had been married, Nevaeh had given birth to three children. Two boys and one girl. The girl had married, had her own home, and already had two children. The boys had stayed behind to live with their father and mother. They tended the family’s cattle and hunted.
Now The Man grew old as everyone does but Nevaeh stayed young and beautiful. Finally The Man knew his time on earth was coming to its end. So he went and told his wife and children and grandchildren.
They were sorry to hear this but Nevaeh said she knew that The Man would get a good place in the cloud place and live with the grizzly bears there. She told her husband, who was now old and walked with a cane, that he must not take the train to the cloud place but that he must walk there.
His sons protested angrily against this, saying that she must be a cold, cruel woman to make her husband walk twenty six miles when he could hardly walk.
But The Man was not angered and he said he would be able to walk that far if it was what his wife wanted him to do for her before he departed earth. And so he packed his suitcase and put on his grey over coat and collected his cane and set off down the track.
His family waved him a final goodbye and watched him leave. It was strange because no matter how far he went down the track, they could see him.
The Man walked and walked for miles but the farther he walked, the younger and stronger he felt. Faster and faster he went until the cloud place came into view with the tracks going up into it. Black birds were flying from it and an old man in a black suit was standing atop the cloud with his cane. He saw a sign that read Heaven: 2 Miles.
He walked faster and as he did so, thick fur began to cover his body and claws erupted from his hands. He understood that he was becoming a grizzly bear and that he had been meant to be a bear in this cloud place. He understood also why his wife knew so much about the place called Heaven. Her name spelt backwards spelt heaven.
He climbed up the tracks in his new form and the old man greeted him and said,”Like me, you are a man blessed by heaven. Like me, you walked rather then take the train. Like me, you will now run with the bears.”
And the old man turned into a grizzly bear. Behind him a huge pack of bears awaited them.
“Your sons and daughter and grandchildren will join us here too”, he said.
The two of them lumbered over to the pack of bears. The Man could see forests, rivers, plains and oceans stretched before him to run on.
“Come”, said the old man,”Let us run with the bears my son”.
And so The Man knew that this old man was his father and that there was no land on the other land on the other side of the cloud. He knew the people that came here on the train turned into black birds and left the cloud place to explore the world in their new form. He ran with his father and pack of bears away into the west, happy and free.