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The Caged Bear Diorama

“Don’t poke the bear, they told me. Stay out of its way and you’ll survive just fine down here.”

“Keep your head down and stay out of trouble.”


“If I wanted to stay out of trouble, they never would have found the bodies.”

“Deathrow is like a meat market for Mister Escher, a buffet. I have access to everything I could possibly need to create my art. So when they told me not to poke the bear, they didn’t understand. I don’t want to survive in Deathrow… I’m here to thrive.”

“And poking the bear is exactly what I intend to do.”

Our eye is drawn to Escher’s latest diorama. A bear is trapped within a small cage, the bars bending as if they can hardly contain it. The bear’s eyes are painted with a red tint, giving it a fierce and untamably wild look.

“This particular Bear has been held in captivity for a while now. I bet he’s desperate to get out. Don’t worry… You’ll get your chance to stretch your legs before too long and when you do, my plan will finally come to fruition. But, why do you look so sad, Mister Bear?”

We look closer and see that the bear in the cage is bleeding, a large hole in its chest where the heart should be. A trail of blood leads in two directions, to where two cubs lie decimated on the ground. Above the dead cubs hang two angels, each holding a half of the bear’s torn out heart.

“Up on the surface, many of my victims fell to the blade easily. All the pleading, crying, such frivolity becomes monotonous after a while. I yearned for more of a challenge to my artistry. I recall one particular girl that was anything but easy. She refused to co-operate and fought back, like a Mother Bear defending her cub.”

“So what does one do when faced with a bear that won’t back down? One weakens it into submission. Therein lies the game.”

“One cuts out the heart of the bear. Not physically, of course, that would be all too easy. I made the mother bear watch as the cub was silenced by my blade.”

“I broke her spirit in the end.”

“You are a challenge, Amataga, and I relish challenges. How does one get away with poking the Bear of Deathrow?”

“You rip out its heart. You weaken the bear and break its spirit. I took everything you cared for and tore it from you, Tuga. Your brother, your sister… It’s enough to leave a hole in your chest.”

“That pain, it stabs you just as well as any blade ever will. It drains you, eating away at you. Inevitably, what happened to the Momma Bear after I broke her spirit?”

“She begged me for the blade in the end. Practically fell onto it.”

“So, how are you feeling, Amataga Tuga? Angry? Filled with rage? A little empty inside? I will break your spirit, demon of Deathrow… and then I will break you.”

“Let’s make a scene, Little Bear.”

Harvey Escher