RATING: PG... for some swearing
DISCLAIMERS: This is fanfiction. No profit involved. This story is based on the television series "The Magnificent Seven". No infringement upon the copyrights held by CBS, MGM, Trilogy Entertainment Group, The Mirisch Corp. or any others involved with that production is intended.
NOTE: This is in response to Jean's July 2001 Magnifiction Challenge:  The story must start with the following... "He had no idea just where he was but he knew that he was moving -- a curiously disorientating feeling considering he was lying down. Several sensations, none of them pleasant, transmitted themselves to his waking brain in a split second of overload."
FEEDBACK: Yes please! comments and suggestions are greatly appreciated.
DATE: July 12, 2001

First Time for Everything
By NotTasha...who's glad she hasn't had a first time at this particular event. 

He had no idea just where he was but he knew that he was moving -- a curiously disorientating feeling considering he was lying down. Several sensations, none of them pleasant, transmitted themselves to his waking brain in a split second of overload.

His senses were scrambled and it took him a few moments to realize what was happening.  Someone was dragging him by his jacket lapel.  Whoever had hold of him was grunting and calling out every so often.  Perhaps the grunting and the calling were coming from different places -- it was hard to separate things.  The grunts seemed damn close to his ear, but the voice was somewhat distant.  There was a fetid wind coming down on him, hot and dank.  The wind snuffled.

His head hurt.  That was certain.  Yes, he was very sure of that.  His head hurt an awful awful lot.  He tried to concentrate, to somehow get his thoughts around the painful part in his brain.  The voice repeated.  He tried to figure out what was being said. At first it seemed to be only a mess of sounds, but as he concentrated he perceived his own name.

How very strange, Ezra thought.

Whoever was tugging at him jerked to a stop and dropped him. He landed on his side and there was a bit of a scuffle near his head.  Then, someone yelled offensively, and a yelp resounded near him. An object thudded beside him -- a rock maybe.  His antagonist moved off.

Again, he heard his name called, but the grunting was gone.  Then, as if he had come up from beneath a water's surface, the voice came clear to him.  "Ezra! Ezra!  Lay still.  Don't move!  D'ya hear me!  Don't move!  He ain't gone far."

He slowly opened his eyes and gazed across a distance of a dozen yards at the shack.  He and Vin had gone out to investigate the disappearance of the shack's owner, a curmudgeon named Smiley McGrath  -- who was anything but smiley.  Perhaps the old man simply wanted to be left alone.

They had arrived at the shack and found it vacant.  Several minutes had been spent as they called for the man.  Then… something happened.  Something fast and loud and big…and painful… had happened.

As Ezra gazed across the ground, he noted that the shack was strangely blurry.  It looked as if two magic lanterns were displaying the same slide on the wall, but very poorly aligned.  Am I becoming suddenly myopic? Ezra thought, disconnectedly.  That could be very bad for my profession.

He tried to leverage an arm under him when the voice returned.  "Ezra!  Don't MOVE!  Do what I'm tellin' ya!"

Standish pondered a moment on whether or not to obey this voice.  Finally, the notion caught him that the voice belonged to Vin Tanner.  Perhaps Vin should be heeded.  He blinked at the twin overlaid shacks that belonged to Smiley the Non-Smiling and thought that he saw something very peculiar.

He focused on the oddity.  The strange thing looked like Vin's head (or rather a double-image of Vin's head).  But, for some reason, Vin's head was not where it was supposed to be.  The common location of Vin's head was at head-level on the shoulders of a certain Mr. Tanner.  This head, for reasons unknown was…UNDER the shack.  Ezra blinked again, trying to ascertain if… 1) he was drugged or dreaming; 2) the laws of reality no longer applied; 3) Mr. Tanner had met some strange and terribly unfortunate demise (and if so… where was the rest of his body?) and; 4) maybe something else was going on.

Something else.  Yes, that was quite possible.  And… getting his finger on the situation was unusually difficult at this moment.  He chose option #4 because it seemed most viable. He waited for more information before drawing any conclusions.  Perhaps if he was in a more comfortable position….

"Ezra!" the disconnected head said again.  "You gotta lay still. If you don't move, it'll think you're dead and let you be!  Listen, Ez, you gotta do that!"

Ezra didn't know that decapitated heads could speak.  Well, there was a first time for everything.

Play dead…well… that should be easy, shouldn't it?  But why should I play dead?  Really, I'd rather not be lying on the filthy ground with this thunderous headache.  I really am not the kind that enjoys such things.   I could be under the shack with Vin.

Ah-ha!  He'd figured it out.  Vin's head was attached to his body!  His was body is under the shack as well.  Vin's peering out from under the porch.  Ezra felt triumphant at that realization.  Well now, this opened a new question. Why was Vin under the porch?  Vin wasn't known for spending time under buildings.  With Tanner, though, you could never be sure.  He was always doing incomprehensible things -- and comprehending really wasn't Ezra's strong suit at this moment.

Maybe Vin's current position had something to do with that growling sound. "Don't move!  I'm gonna try and get to that gun."  Vin sounded upset, frantic maybe.  That wasn't common for the bounty hunter.  In fact, Ezra couldn't quite remember Vin sounding that frightened before.  Why’s he so scared?  He's safe under the porch.

"Ezra!  Trust me!  No matter what happens, play dead!  He's coming back."

Who's coming back? Ezra thought.  He actually meant to say it, but the command became lost somewhere between his brain tissue and his vocal chords.  It must have had something to do with the painful spot in his head.  That black area had stopped up his words.  Now, that was a pity.  Still, the question remained… who's coming back?

The snuffling, grunting, shuffling sound returned, but Vin's head disappeared.  Ezra rather liked seeing Vin, even though Tanner was in a very strange place.  It was disappointing to see him go. Disappointing?  Was that the right word?  

The grunting and shuffling sound was very near now.  Someone touched him on the shoulder…someone with a very big hand and nails that were entirely too long.  If this was Smiley, then someone should send him to a manicurist -- immediately.

A wet thing was pressed against his neck and he would have jumped at the surprise, except that Vin had told him to keep still. He felt hot air at his neck and the snuffling wet thing moved around the back of his head.

Ezra blinked his eyes, trying to find Vin.  He thought that he saw the tracker dart out from one side of the porch.  Where're you goin', Vin?  Tanner had looked in his direction, but Ezra couldn't see well enough to tell what the tracker was trying to do.  Goodbye, Vin, he thought.  Sorry to see you go.

The big hand that needed a good clipping flipped him onto his back and Ezra finally was able to look at who was bothering him.


The big hairy thing was snuffling around his chest now, pawing at him.  Bear.  Big Bear.  Dead.  Play dead.  Omigod!  Big Big Bear.  Ezra shut his eyes, trying to follow Vin's instructions.  God, it smelled awful.  Big big black Bear.

Bear.  Sniffling, snuffling, pawing, smelly, bear.  It grunted as it manhandled (bearhandled?) him.  Play dead.  Vin said to play dead.  Bear.  Ezra felt its jaws close on his upper arm and start to pull. Big Bear.  Play Dead. Bear.

Everything became rather foggy after that.

When he was finally able to perceive things, he realized that he was being moved again.  He was off the ground this time, being carried.  Damn, that thing must be big.  There was a grunting sound and a voice again -- more of the same.  Bear.  Play dead.  Ezra did his best to not move.  Must play dead.  Bear.  Where the hell is it taking me?  To his den, no doubt.  Good idea to play dead.  Yes, a mighty fine idea.   He'll eat me in the comforts of his home.  Still, Ezra reasoned, he was still alive so there was no reason to stop the ruse…yet.

He was deposited finally on something soft.  Probably the bear-nest (do bears make nests?)  He could feel its paws moving all over him, exploring his arms and legs and his head. The voice continued.  Is Vin still under the porch?  No, he had left.  Ezra remembered that much.  He realized he could do nothing but follow Vin's last order -- play dead.

The bear pulled him upright.  What the hell?  He fought the urge to stiffen against the force that pulled at him.  He stayed limp.    Play dead.  Must play dead. Bear.  It started messing with his jacket, trying to pull it off.  Why?  Damn bear.   What the hell do you think you're doing?  Do you have any idea of the cost of this blazer?  Still, it wouldn't stop tugging at his sleeve.  Ezra continued to be as still as death.

The voice continued, a soft murmur that punctuated the animal's movements.  Ezra realized that he was probably only imagining the voice at this point.  His head surely hurt and he wasn't surprised that he was dreaming up the sounds as a means of offering himself some comfort in this horrendous situation.  Bear.

The bear leaned him forward, and Ezra found himself resting against the beast as it worked the jacket off of him.  Ezra chanced opening his eyes, and found his head pressed against the light brown pelt of the animal.  BEAR!  He squeezed his eyes shut again and tried not to shudder.   God, it smelled awful! Wasn't it black a minute ago?

The bear finally pulled off the jacket.  What the hell it wanted with it, Ezra hadn't a clue.  It set him back down again and Ezra hoped that it was done.  Just let me be.  When it began pawing at his derringer rig, Ezra realized that the beast was preparing to dine.  It was removing anything inedible, trying to make its meal as presentable as possible -- he was being dressed like a squab.

There was that voice again, but he really wasn't up to the task of understanding that figment of his imagination.  The animal kept working on him, taking off his gun belt and sitting him up again to get the shoulder harness off of him.  Damn determined bear!  He should have used the weapons when he had the chance, but that would have meant moving... and one can't move when one plays dead.

The boots came next.  The dumb creature must have thought that the leather was too tough to bite through.  Little did he know that the boots were made of the finest quality calfskin and perhaps would have provided a tasty appetizer to the meal that followed.

Ezra felt something moist against his head.  Oh damn!  Aw hell!  It's tasting me, drooling over me.  He could imagine the big red tongue of the bear and its wide-open mouth as it licked at his face.  He kept his eyes firmly shut, not wanting to see this vision. 

Please, Ezra thought, I'm doing exactly what Vin said.  I have no problem with feigning death, but if it starts digging in for a feast, I will do whatever I can to get the hell out of here. I will play dead -- I refuse to BE dead.

The voice softened, sounding almost disappointed… almost sad.  He hoped the imaginary voice stopped because it was terribly disconcerting.

Then, the bear pressed a snaggle-nailed paw against his face.  A terror caught Standish as he felt the ungroomed digit press into the soft spot just above his eye and pull.  His eyelid was yanked upward in the process.

Panicked, Ezra was forced to gaze at the hairy beast above him.  He would have screamed if he hadn't disciplined himself into stillness.  He would have screamed and yelled and fought and ran, except that Vin had told him to keep still.

The beast looked concerned, then took on a amused expression as it scrutinized him, and then laughed softly.  "Ezra," the creature said, sounding relieved.  "You can stop playin' dead now."

The words finally penetrated his addled brain as Vin let go of his eyelid and sat back.  "Damn, you had me scared," Tanner declared as Ezra blinked at him. "You okay?"

"Bear," Ezra said softly.

"Dead," Vin replied.  "I finally got to that gun when you had 'im occupied."  He pulled a cloth from Ezra's head and doused it with a canteen that sat beside the bed.  They had made it inside Smiley's shack somehow. "How're you doin'?"

Ezra scrunched up his brow.  "My head hurts… considerably."

"Don't surprise me.  That bear gave you a wallop."  Vin replaced the wet cloth, positioning it carefully on Ezra's head.  "He sure came on us sudden like. Took you down b'fore I had a chance to see him.  Then went for me.  I didn't have time to do nothin' 'cept dive for that porch.  Damn shame I didn't have my gun about me."

"Indeed," Ezra responded.

"You sure went flyin'."

Ezra groaned.

"You fly better than JD."  Vin grinned.

"I attempt to excel at everything."

Vin dropped his smile. "Shouldn't 'ave left you out there, but I didn't have any options."

Ezra looked toward Vin, glad that his vision seemed to have improved enough to allow him to see properly.  Vin looked rather disturbed.  "It's quite all right, Mr. Tanner.  It proved to be the best plan of action.  If the creature had attacked you as well, then both of our lives would have been forfeit."

Vin nodded, but didn't look terribly convinced.  "You hurt anywhere else?"

The gambler considered this before responding.  He raised his arm, remembering how the bear had clamped onto him.  His shirt was torn, but his arm was still in place.  That was a good thing.

"He wanted to check you out, I reckon," Vin said.  "Probably never seen anythin' as fancy as you b'fore.  I think he wanted to take ya somewhere where he could do it private-like. I had to get to that gun of yours.  It fell out when he toppled ya.  Mine's on the damn saddle still."


"Yeah, that's the word for it.  Then, needed to wait for him to drop ya before I took a shot."  Vin paused, remembering.  Ezra saw a stricken look pass over Tanner's face as he recalled the event.  "I didn't find any bites in ya.  You got a lump on yer head but it don't seem too bad, so I 'spect yer gonna be okay."

"I agree with your prognosis," Ezra returned.  "With the exception of this mammoth headache, I believe I'm surprisingly unharmed."  He smiled.  "Thank you, Mr. Tanner.  You undoubtedly saved my life."

The tracker frowned.  "Figured you were a goner when I couldn't get you to come around.  Damn fool.  Were you playin' possum the whole time I was totin' you in here and gettin' all this crap off of you?"

"Mr. Tanner, you instructed me to play dead and I did as I was told."

"You done as I told you?" Vin looked surprised.  He smiled slyly.  "There's a first time for everythin'."

Ezra raised an eyebrow.  "I always consider what you have to say, Mr. Tanner."

"Well, considerin' and doin' are two different things."  He looked to the door.  " I think we know what happened to Smiley now.  You rest a bit yet while I get that carcass skinned.  Gonna want the pelt for my wagon, 'les of course you want it?"

Ezra shuddered and shook his head.

Vin shrugged.  "Yer choice.  It'll look right nice, don'tcha think?"

"You're welcome to it, my friend."  The last thing Ezra wanted was to be near that fur again.  Perhaps Vin felt a kinship with the bruin.

Vin continued, "After that we got a bit of a walk. Horses bolted.  You up for that?"

Ezra pushed his elbows under him and sat up.  "My perception seems to be coming clearer.  I believe I shall be ambulatory momentarily."

"Does that mean 'yup'?"

"Yup," Ezra said with a nod.

"Good," Vin responded.  "It'll take a bit to get that bear skin, so just get comfy."  Vin patted his friend on the shoulder.  “Do like I say and keep still.”  Vin smiled as if he had made a joke, then stood and headed out of the cabin.

Ezra eased himself back onto the bed with a sigh.

Bear…I've survived a bear attack. Who could have imagined it?  Me, of all people.  He chuckled, wondering what his mother would have to say about the whole incident.  This certainly wasn't in her scheme of things. No, Mother Dear had prepared him for the sharks and vipers that patrolled the saloons, cities and countryside of this fair nation, not for the bears that wandered the woods.  Nothing could have prepared him for this. He sighed.  This wasn't what he expected at all.

Well, he thought, there's a first time for everything.  He damn well hoped it was the last.

THE END - by NotTasha

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