Bear Of Con City

Bear Of Con City

The nice people in white coats told Manny the Bear to find the honey deep within the bellies of his playmates. Will he ever find it?

Manny the Bear lives a peaceful life in his cave deep in the woods south of a mysterious place called Greenwell. Manny loves his home, especially the bars that keep him safe from the monsters he can hear in the caverns from time to time, and he is grateful to the nice people in white coats who built him such a secure abode. The only thing he loves more than his cave is the game the White Coats have him play. The game is called `find the honey,' and all Manny has to do is find the honey that his playmates are hiding, deep inside the secret pockets within their bellies or behind their faces, except Manny only ever finds raspberry pudding. One fateful night the White Coats vanish without a trace, and the barred doors protecting Manny's cave swing wide open. Manny decides to explore the world, go to this mythical place called Greenwell, and see if he can finally find the honey.

Bear Of Con City chronicles the gruesome misadventures of Manny the Bear in Greenwell in Con County, the most dangerous region of the Republic of North America, where he meets a trigger happy mercenary and his bitter rivals, a video gamer police officer and her even nerdier sidekick, a bullfighting promoter and his cunning poachers, and a whole range of new playmates with whom Manny can play `find the honey.' Recommended for fans of the Con City series, readers who enjoy their crime fiction as absurd and filled with as much mayhem as possible, and anyone who really, really likes bears.

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Character Art

The image below is a digital art rendition of Manny the Bear right after a good game of `find the honey' which culminated in finding nothing but raspberry pudding. Artwork produced by @thebrokenkindle


Free Excerpts

Once upon a time, deep in the forest south of Greenwell in Con County, the most dangerous plot of land in the Republic of North America, lived a bear. His name was Manny. It said so in large friendly letters on a sign next to the entrance of his cave. It also said, `Subject 327,' but Manny did not understand the meaning of the mystical numbers. All he knew was that the nice people in white coats always called him Manny, and he liked his name.

He also liked the thick steel bars protecting his cave. At night, he could hear strange voices in the distance, gurgles, screams, produced by some mysterious monster or another. The bars that kept his cave sealed were at least four inches thick and Manny felt good knowing that no monster could possibly get to him. He felt endlessly grateful to the White Coats for building him such a secure home.

Manny lived in the safety of his humble abode, day after day, as the White Coats came to him a couple of times a day with raspberry pudding, and showed him loads of books full of colorful pictures about the world. Sometimes they would send some people without white coats into his cave whom he could play with. The game was called `find the honey,' and all Manny had to do was find the honey hidden in one of the secret pockets of his playmates. He wondered why the game was called `find the honey,' when all he ever found was raspberry pudding, hidden deep inside the secret pockets in their tummies.

He had no luck with the other hidden pockets, either, not even the ones hidden behind his playmates' faces. Sometimes he thought he was playing the game wrong, but the White Coats always nodded in satisfaction while they took notes of how he played, so he figured he must have been doing something right. His playmates must have been happy, too, because they always yelled at the top of their lungs during the games, like they were very excited to play. Every time he found the raspberry pudding, they would stop yelling, and stop trying to push his paws away from their tummies. Then Manny would retreat to the back of the cave with the raspberry pudding while the White Coats would help his exhausted playmate out, and then leave him to consume his just reward.

Manny sometimes wondered why none of his playmates ever came to play with him twice. Perhaps so many people wanted to play that they had to wait for their turn to come again for a very long time. But he wasn't certain, and no one would tell him. Manny wished the White Coats would teach him how to speak their funny language, so he could ask questions. They had taught him to read just fine, with the words scribbled in their picture books, so surely they could teach him how to write, at least.

Such was the life of Manny: calmly enjoying peace in his cozy cave, eating raspberry pudding, and playing `find the honey' every couple of days. Until one night, he woke to the sound of his cave door swinging open.

He raised his head and looked beyond the entrance. None of the White Coats stood beside the bars. Manny jumped to his feet. He felt his legs shaking, and his heart started to beat rapidly. Why was the barred door open? Where were the nice people in white coats? Had the monsters eaten them all?

Manny retreated to the darkest corner of his cave and curled into a ball. Roughly a minute later he realized that he couldn't hear any disturbing sounds from outside the cave. It was so quiet he could hear his teeth clattering. The silence got him thinking. Was everyone gone? The White Coats \textit{and} the monsters? Then he had no reason to be afraid.

He waited until his heartbeat slowed back down to normal and his teeth stopped clattering, then he stood up and slowly approached the door. He stuck his nose out and sniffed the air, but found nothing wrong.

Then it occurred to him that he had never been outside his cave before. Perhaps long ago, when he had been a cub, before he came to live with the White Coats, but he could not remember that any more.

A strong curiosity took hold of him. He stared at the dark passages outside his cave and wondered what he should do. Should he just wait for the White Coats? Or should he go and explore the world he'd learned so much about from the White Coats' books?

He thought a small peek wouldn't hurt. He stepped out of his cave and proceeded to walk into the darkness.

He walked past several other caves, all of them protected by barred doors, but he could see no one inside any of them. At the end of the passage he found another barred door, and like that of his own cave, it was wide open. He walked through and sniffed the air. He could smell something new to the left, so he turned that way and kept walking.

A short way down the new passage he found a large cavern. It was filled with desks and computer screens. He recognized them from one of the illustrated books the White Coats had shown him. He had always wanted to see one of those shiny things, perhaps even touch them. He started to walk to one of the desks when he heard a machine start up across the cave.

It was a white device the size of Manny's head, connected to a computer screen. It was spitting out a sheet of paper. A printer, Manny recalled. Curious what was on the paper, he approached the machine.

He was half way there when a man stood up from the chair in front of the computer screen. Manny had not noticed him before in the dark, but now he could see that it was not one of the White Coats. Rather, it was a man in a black coat. He was about to reach for the paper when he noticed Manny.

`Holy fucking shit!' the man yelled, and he jumped backwards. He knocked over the computer screen and nearly fell over. He grabbed the edge of the table with both hands and stared at Manny with his eyes wide.

At that moment, pure joy filled Manny's entire being. The man had yelled in the exact same excitement as his playmates used to do. He had never played `find the honey' at night, and especially not outside his cave. Perhaps this was a new game. Perhaps the White Coats wanted him to look for the honey outside the safe confines of his home this time. Manny decided to make the nice people proud by finally finding the honey. He ran towards his new playmate.

The Black Coat pushed himself away from the table and turned, then started to run. He tripped over a cable and crashed into the floor. Manny caught him before he could stand up, and gave him the friendly tap the nice people in white coats had taught him. Raspberry juice sprayed from some hidden pocket on the back of his new playmate, and he yelled as loud as all of Manny's previous playmates used to do. Manny stepped on the man's back and used his teeth to try and find the hidden pocket at the back of his playmate's neck.

In just a few short seconds the raspberry pudding was between Manny's jaws, while his new playmate was whimpering. Manny stepped off him and turned him onto his back so he could open up the hidden pocket in the man's tummy. His claws found the large hidden compartment with ease, but as he opened it up he felt nothing but disappointment. Once again, all he found was raspberry pudding. The man stopped whimpering, shook himself a few times, and then ceased to move, indicating that the game was over. Manny lowered his head and turned away. His failure to find the honey took away his appetite.

In his disappointment, he first thought to walk back to his cave. But as he walked past the printer, he caught sight of the sheet of paper that had come out when he had arrived in the big cavern. His curiosity took hold of him once more. He picked up the sheet of paper and looked at it.

The late morning sun shone down on happy motorists in Downtown Greenwell. They had every reason to be happy, since the morning traffic had died down and they could now easily go about their chores without constantly leaning over their horns. The pedestrians, on the other hand, were anything but happy. Traffic on the sidewalk was growing denser with each passing minute.

Despite this fact, or perhaps because of it, a fast moving cyclist raced along the sidewalk on Baker Avenue rather than using the broad cycle lane. Pedestrians moved out of his way with practiced precision and hurled creative insults at him, while he just smiled with the confidence of a man who knew the pedestrians would neither catch him nor risk breaking their own bones by standing in his way.

His smile vanished when, maybe ten yards away from the corner, he ran into a clothesline that stretched from a lamp post to the wall, where it was nailed in place. The cyclist only saw it when he was mere inches from the rope, which promptly unseated him and sent him tumbling down to the pavement.

The bicycle kept moving for a couple of yards before it fell over and came to a halt. The cyclist landed on his back and gaped like a fish out of water. The people on the sidewalk stopped and gathered around him. No one offered a helping hand, and when one of them burst out in laughter, the entire crowd joined in.

Only one man did not laugh, the man who had been watching the cyclist's approach from the other side of the street. The reason he was not laughing was that he had a lit cigarette between his lips, and he did not want it to fall. Besides, he did not feel the need to gloat. He knew the cyclist would be too stupid to notice the clothesline. He patted himself on the back in his mind for laying such a fine trap, then proceeded to cross the street.

The pedestrian light at the crossing was red, yet the oncoming vehicles slowed down and allowed him to cross without even honking their horns. He was very happy that the drivers in Greenwell gave him the proper respect he deserved, albeit his attire might have had something to do with that. He was dressed in a black paramilitary outfit complete with a tactical vest lined with countless pockets. He openly carried two semiautomatic pistols in holsters, one at each hip, and held a large knife in his right hand. He imagined he must have looked pretty badass like that in the middle of the road in broad daylight.

He made it across the street without any trouble and headed towards the fallen cyclist. He walked up to the lamp post and cut the clothesline down, then walked towards the wall to cut off its other end. He rolled up the rope into a bundle and stuffed it into one of his vest pockets, then he stowed the knife and walked into the crowd.

`Make way,' he said, as he pushed himself through the mass of people. Within the circle of pedestrians, he found a ten year old boy standing next to the fallen cyclist with his hands on the zipper of his jeans. The cyclist lay in a yellow puddle, and continued struggling to breathe.

He smirked at the sight and walked up to the pair. He shooed the boy off and stepped beside the cyclist, taking care not to step into the puddle.

`Hi,' he said. `I'm Gabe London. The Gabe London. How are you doing down there?'

The cyclist stared up at Gabe and remained silent. Gabe was not sure whether it was because of the fall, or because of being overwhelmed by his presence. He reached out a hand to the cyclist.

`Come on, kid. Fun's fun but it's time you got back up now.'

The cyclist slowly reached up and grabbed Gabe's hand. Gabe pulled him up and immediately slapped a handcuff on his right wrist.

`What...' the cyclist began. `What is this? Am I under arrest?'

Gabe chuckled and looked the cyclist up and down. Medium height, moderately athletic, twenty years old or so. Could have been a student at Greenwell University. For a student, he was none too bright.

`Kid, do I look like I work for the police?' Gabe said.

Before the cyclist could inquire further, Gabe grabbed his other hand and slapped the other half of the handcuffs on him, then proceeded to lead him down the street. The cyclist was hardly in a shape to resist. As Gabe led him away, he received a raucous applause from the pedestrians.

`Finally, someone did the right thing,' an old man yelled.

`Justice! Justice for pedestrians!' a woman shouted.

`You teach that son of a bitch!' the boy who had pissed on the cyclist added.

`Bastard broke my wife's leg last week,' a man said. `Fuck him up real good!'

Gabe glanced back at the cyclist. All the color had drained from his face, and Gabe guessed it was not because of the fall.

`Relax,' Gabe told him. `They're not gonna lynch you while I'm here. No one fucks with The Gabe London.'

`Where... where are you taking me?' the cyclist asked.

`To meet my employer,' Gabe said. He led the cyclist to the corner, where he had left his motorcycle. The black Runamok Arrow stood like an obsidian monument on the sidewalk. On the luggage rack behind the seat rested the helmet Gabe never used, and just behind that was a tow chain wrapped around the bars of the luggage rack. Gabe led the cyclist to the back of the Arrow.

The cyclist blinked and opened his lips. `You're... taking me on that? There's not enough space for two people.'

`I know,' Gabe said. He patted the cyclist on the cheek, then unwrapped the tow chain from the luggage rack and attached it to the handcuffs.

The cyclist went so pale Gabe thought he could have passed for a snowman. `No... You can't be serious about this.'

`Look at the bright side. At least I didn't break your bicycle.'

Loud crashing sounds followed his statement. The cyclist turned around to witness an old man beating on his bicycle with a cane, and the young boy who had pissed on him stomping on it. His shoulders slumped, and the sight held his attention. By the time he looked away, Gabe had already mounted his motorcycle.

`You... you can't expect me to keep up with an Arrow,' he said.

Gabe threw his cigarette away and revved the engine. `Who said anything about you walking?'

With that, Gabe London turned away from the despaired cyclist and tore away. He felt a bit of resistance as the tow chain pulled his cargo off his feet, but then the Arrow gained speed and lived up to its reputation as one of the fastest motorcycles ever designed. Gabe heard sounds of cheering behind him, but they quickly vanished in the distance. He also heard some painful groans, but the engine of the Arrow drowned them out remarkably well.

Gabe smiled and ran a red light, just barely dodging a bus in the process. Drivers honked behind him like they were jealous of his speed. He decided to show off even more and accelerated to maximum velocity, well past the Downtown speed limit. He knew the police would leave him be as long as he didn't cause any accidents, and he would never do that. The Gabe London was a precise motorcyclist who could have won any race at the Crash-o-ring back in the day, if he could be bothered to enter. But, of course, he was more adventurous than to commit to a motor sport, when he could instead travel the world as a mercenary, see wonders, shoot people, and blow shit up. He smiled at the thought.

He decided it was time to make the journey a little more exciting. He made a sharp left and rode into an alley. He dodged a garbage container and a beggar who sat beside a cardboard box, then rode straight towards a garbage can. He turned just enough to avoid it, then heard his cargo knock the can over. Gabe thought he could still hear some painful groaning. He wished he could go even faster.

He rode out of the alley and turned left, proceeded down the street and made a sharp right, once more running a red light. Two blocks down the street he saw a clothing store. Fancy, expensive designer suits were on display. Gabe hated those things. Without a second thought, he rode straight towards the store. He braked and turned the Arrow sideways, slid along the concrete, and came to a halt a few yards from the shop window. His unwilling cargo all but flew past him and landed in the display window, shattering the glass to tiny pieces.

Gabe had a passing look at the cyclist. He was badly bruised and his face was a bloody mess, but he was clearly breathing. Satisfied, Gabe revved the motorcycle and dragged him out of the shop window.

The coffee machine remained uncooperative and Detective Rhodes sat behind her desk staring daggers at the wretched device. More precisely, she stared daggers at it whenever she was able to keep her eyes open. She needed the caffeine badly. Or something else that would keep her awake.

There was the option to sneak into the evidence room and try to score some coke, but every fiber of her being screamed against it. She didn't know how much of the stuff would be safe to take, or how it might affect her sound judgment. More than anything she needed to be in control, at least until the day was over.

When she saw Detective Shepard walk into the office with a coffee in a sealed paper cup, she felt her hand move towards her gun. It took her a moment to start wondering what that hand wanted to accomplish. Shepard saw her staring at him and did his best to keep his distance while he pretended that he had not noticed anything. Detective Rhodes closed her eyes and tried to calm herself down. A couple of deep breaths later she decided that if Shepard could afford to leave his desk long enough to grab a coffee from a fast food joint, then so could she.

She was about to stand up when the phone on her desk rang. She fought down the urge to disconnect the device and picked up the receiver.

`Greenwell Police, Detective Rhodes speaking.'

`Rhodes, this is Chief Woods,' the response came.

She frowned. `What can I do for you, Chief?'

`Heard about Alvarez?' the Chief asked.

`Yeah. Bad shit, that.'

`Understatement, Rhodes. I just got off the phone with the Mayor's daughter. She was in Blueberry Park until a few minutes ago when she saw a psychopath in a bear costume eviscerate some bald guy in the park in front of two dozen witnesses, herself included.'

Detective Rhodes felt the sleepiness evaporate in an instant. `Are you saying the guy in the costume killed a man?'

`Officially we don't know. Our witness ran off as fast as she could. But she said she saw the guy gut the bald man like a fish and even rip his face off. It's a safe bet he's dead.'

A murder victim. Killed by a madman dressed like a bear, with a knife, or some other bladed weapon. In a park, in front of countless people, and a high profile witness. Detective Rhodes smiled.

`What do you want me to do, Chief?' she said, doing her best to keep her tone neutral.

`Have you spoken to the Fragcamper Unit about what we discussed yesterday?'

The smile on the face of Detective Rhodes widened into a broad grin. This was her lucky day. `No, I've not had the chance just yet.'

`Good. Summon them, and tell them to catch this guy. He's probably still in the park, or somewhere close by.'

`Yes, sir.'

`And Rhodes... They don't need to be gentle with this one.'

`Understood, sir.'

Chief Woods hung up, and Detective Rhodes put the receiver down. Ten seconds later she was out of the office, held her smartphone in hand, and was speed dialing Eckhart. It took fifteen seconds for her to get a response.

`What's up?' Eckhart said.

`Are Daly and Masters with you?'

`Yeah. Why?'

`Get my gear and take the APC to Blueberry Park. I'll meet you there. We have a psycho killer to catch.'


Much to her surprise, Detective Rhodes made it to Blueberry Park before the rest of the Unit did. She parked her car just outside the south entrance of the park and watched from behind the wheel. There was no sign of people, and she couldn't see any blood, either. If the killer escaped already, he had certainly not come this way.

Two minutes after her arrival the familiar armored van with the letters `FU' painted on the side turned the corner. The APC braked and came to a halt behind her car. She got out and sprinted to the back of the van. The door opened up for her and she jumped inside. Her friends had already geared up, wearing black unmarked body armor and balaclavas. She pulled the door closed and proceeded to change into the body armor Eckhart had brought for her.

`So, what's going on?' Detective Masters asked.

`We have a psychopath in a bear costume loose in the park,' she said.

`What, the guy that ripped out Alvarez' arm?'

`Most likely yes. Except this time he killed someone, in front of an assload of people, including the Mayor's daughter.'

Eckhart whistled. `I bet the Chief's having second thoughts about disbanding us now.'

`That's great!' Daly said. `So we don't have to do the bank heist after all.'

`Wrong,' Detective Rhodes said as she strapped on her vest. `Chief Woods will still disband us, no doubt about it. Two weeks and we'll be done, no matter how fast we deal with the bear suit psycho.'

`Are you sure?' Masters asked. `We'll get good press if the Mayor's daughter was a witness.'

`I'm sure. Woods wants to be the next Mayor, and he doesn't want to risk any future bad press we might get. Only way to stop him from shutting us down is by convincing him that he needs us. We need to do the heist, and we need to pin it on the General. It's the only way.'

`But surely we don't have to rush it any more, do we?' Daly asked. `You said we'll have two weeks after we catch this guy. We should spend more time planning.'

Detective Rhodes shook her head. `We can't wait. The bullfight's tonight, it's the best time to do it. And above all, we must put as much pressure on Woods as possible. Imagine how scared he'll be if he hears that our nation's most wanted terrorist robbed a bank in town on the same day that a psycho dressed as a bear killed a guy in the park and scared the shit out of the Mayor's daughter.'

`I love the way you think, boss,' Eckhart said.

Detective Rhodes inserted the wireless earpiece into her right ear and pulled a balaclava over her head. `Okay. Operation Blueberry Park is a go. Everyone ready to deploy?'

Eckhart picked up her grenade launcher from the weapon rack. `Gr3nad3at3r, ready.'

Masters grabbed his combat shotgun and loaded a shell into the barrel. `Sh0tgunFr3ak, ready.'

Daly sighed and reached for his assault rifle. He chambered a round and rested the weapon on his shoulder. `Gunn3rKill3r, ready.'

Detective Rhodes reached for her custom painted Hunterson .50 Brainsurgeon sniper rifle. She checked the clip and the scope, then held the rifle in her arms and nodded. `Sn!p3rB!tch, ready. Let's get this cocksucker!'