It was cold. Not freezing, icy cold. But cold enough to feel the pain of it in his body. And to numb his mind.
And it was dark. Not pitch black dark. From somewhere some light illuminated the area around him enough to make out faint lines. He estimated the place he was in to be about four square meters. His back was propped up to a wall of some sort.
With his mind so numb, he found it hard to recall how he got here. Where he had been before he woke up just now in this cold, dark place, half sitting. Was he sitting? His body felt odd. Not quite his and with an awfully aching back and resistance in his legs when he wanted to stretch them fully.
With reawakening awareness, the cold feeling left him. His mind was starting to be more active too. He had to find out where he was. He turned his head, but there was not enough light to see where he was. So instead, he moved his hands slowly behind his back to feel the wall. To his surprise the wall was soft - not hard as his aching back told him.
Soft, and warm, and... furry. Yes, that was the word, furry. He must be leaning on an animal. And with the dark all around he concluded that he was in a cave?? Of a bear?? He took a careful deep breath. Yes, could be a bear from the size - and the smell. Yes, bears smell that way. He knew that from one of his students jobs at the zoo; cleaning out the ice bear cage. The bears had been outside in the pool at that time. The head animal caretaker had made sure of that. No one knew how the ice bear would react to a stranger inside his territory. All assumed it would attack any stranger. This memory made him feel afraid for his own life right now. Very afraid!!
Carefully, as not to wake what he assumed to be an ice bear now, he once more tried to stretch his body. Again he noticed how odd his legs felt. Not the way they should. His whole body didn't feel as it should. Slowly, he moved his hands away from the furry back wall and onto his own belly. It felt furry too. He couldn't remember putting on a fur coat. He lifted the hands of his belly and moved them a little closer towards his eyes. In the dark he could barely make out the silhouette of them. But those were not hands, not human hands!! They were PAWS. Bear paws seemingly and when he touched one with the other he could notice the soft for on them and the sharp claws that were at the place where he had expected his fingertips to be.
Not believing what he could feel of his hands, he bit by bit felt over his body what he could reach. All of it felt like bear now. And he was not feeling as cold as he had been when he first woke. Actually it was quite snugly warm in here. A tiny smile hushed over his face and vanished as fast as it had come as he turned back to investigate more. He moved very slowly, afraid he would wake the "bear" he was leaning on and be discovered. Afraid of what might happen then.
When he reached his face he stopped in shock. That was not his head. Not at all!! It was the head of a bear!! The snout, the cold nuzzle, the sharp teeth the ears some place else than he was used too. Involuntary he let out a small sound. This could not be true. Not at all.
Before he could investigate further, the "wall" behind him moved - pushing him over the land on his, yes, PAWS. And with a soft push on his behind the being past him and opened up an opening into bright, blinding light.
Slowly his eyes adjusted to the light and he could see the outside. All was white - snow and ice. And fresh air wafted in. This made him move, following, what he now could definitively recognize as ice bear, into the open. Crawling on all four, not walking on his legs. He just could not get up and walk as a human would. He was in full disbelieve of what he was but could not actively change his "outside". "Inside", in his mind (and soul too he guessed) he still knew to be human. he always had been human. Not a bear.
Right outside the cave he took a deep breath of the fresh icy air. And, after a soft nudge on the shoulder from the ice bear, walked clumsily, more crawling like in the cave, a few steps more to an opening in the ice where the ice bear stood waiting for him, behind toward him. The ice bear never had taken one look at him, as if he was not a stranger to it. Calm water greeted him from the opening; the sun reflecting on the surface. And the ice bear too.
NO!! THIS CAN'T BE TRUE!!
It was TWO ice bears starring back at him out of the water. A big one and a small one. And no human. Where was the human image, his image!!??
Suddenly, and with shock and realization he recalled and understood the warning:
Long Distance Transporter.
Out of order!
Use at own risk!!