How it found its way to the shop, Howard could not fathom, it was hard for most people to locate it, let alone a foot tall brown bear.
The bear padded further into the cluttered store as Howard lost sight of it behind a shelf of old tin advertising signs. He tried to crane his neck to see over the shelf from where he stood behind the counter but could not manage.
“Hello?” he ventured. “Can I help you?” he added, genuinely curious if he could.
The bear came around the front of the shelves and took off its little black hat; put its paw inside of it to pull out a glinting object that would fit in the palm of a regular sized person’s hand.
It held the curved object up so Howard could see. It looked like half of a sphere, silver on the outside with floral patterns engraved all over the surface.
The inside seemed a clockwork of gears and cogs.
Strangely, he had seen the object before; or at least its twin.
Howard nodded to the small bear and went to a shelf in the middle of the shop. Amongst the knick knacks that lay here and there on the glass shelf was an identical half sphere with the intricate engravings of flowery vines covering its silver shell and the fine workings of gears filling its inside.
It had been in the shop since before he had taken it over and was one of the few items he had failed to either sell or discard.
As he reached for it, he almost thought he heard a tinkle of metal chimes, just faint enough to dismiss as a trick of the ear.
He turned to find the pint sized bear standing only a few paces away, holding its half sphere up in one paw with the other paw open, eagerly inviting Howard to hand his over.
With little hesitation, he found himself placing the other half gently into the bear’s little paw.
Its dark, bead-like eyes glistened with the silver reflection as it brought the two halves up closer to its fuzzy muzzle.
As the two halves came closer together, their innards began to whirl and spin on their own accord.
The air around the two pieces began to waver as well. At first just around their surfaces’, but as the bear moved its paws closer and closer together, bringing the open insides nearer to one another, the wavering grew.
The air shook so it distorted the area around the bear’s light brown paws, spreading all around its arms and torso.
Finally, as the small bear seemed to struggle to push the two halves together, the wavering and shaking of the air around it suddenly stopped and they sealed together in a perfect sphere.
A silence preceded a booming wave of sound that reverberated out from the now whole sphere and hit Howard in the chest with a thump. He stumbled backwards and the back of his legs hit against a trunk that sat on the ground behind where he stood, knocking him down to sit atop the chest’s flat lid.
The shelves of antiques shook and most of the trinkets toppled over, some crashing to the ground around their feet.
Howard’s attention moved from the bear to the shelves and back again to see that the sphere rotated slowly a hand's width above the bear's outstretched paws.
An aura shimmered around the tiny bear that enlarged slowly until Howard realized it was an opening to a bright forest with lush trees that rustled in a soft breeze that blew through into the stuffy shop.
Slowly the small bear turned to face the opening that was now big enough for it to walk through. Over its shoulder, Howard saw other tiny bears coming out amongst the trees. Brown, black, white, red, and every shade of fur; they all came out, hesitantly at first, but when they saw their fellow bear in the doorway, they bound out on all fours toward him happily.
Howard moved down to his hands and knees on the floor to look closer into the portal letting the other bears see him behind their friend and they slowed to a stop.
The tiny brown bear turned back to him and nodded with smiling eyes and walked through the shimmering opening.
Before the bears met each other on the grassy meadow, the portal began to shrink until it closed in on itself and Howard only saw the old carpet that lined the shop’s floor.
He sat back on his haunches for a while, staring in silence at the spot where the bear had crossed over into another realm, and then cocked his head with a thought.
Hoisting himself up with his hand on the trunk, he went hurriedly over to another shelf in the back corner of the store where everything still remained undisturbed by the shockwave.
Scanning quickly over the items that covered the shelves he stopped at a small half of a brass cube.
He picked the object up and turned it over looked at the gears that filled its insides. As he examined the intricate workings, a metallic tinkling echoed in his ear just before the bell above the door jingled and someone else came in.