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The Desolate, Tortured Life of Winnie the Pooh
by Bayard Russell

Winnie the Pooh awoke from his uneasy slumber to find himself out of Master's toy box and in a small, dank bedchamber within a hollow tree trunk.  He knew it was once again time for The Games.  Each day he found himself waking within the forest grounds where another one of Master's adventures would be staged, and every evening he would once again find himself stuffed inside The Box, piled among the other stuffed animals like bodies in an Indian burial mound for another night of fitful unrest.  What was planned for him today, he wondered.  Not that it mattered.  His words and actions were no longer his own, and even his own thoughts were not safe from Master.  He had no choice but to play along as he would do, every day, until Master inevitably tired of his amusements.

Pooh ached all over, and he could smell the stench of mold and rot on him.  He had been soaked in the rain the previous day and must have been stuffed in The Box without being dried.  He waddled out of bed, and when he glanced at himself in the mirror a feeling of disgust overwhelmed him.  Look at my wretched form, he thought.  No fingers, no toes, and no knees or elbows.  A damned cripple he was, able at most to awkwardly wobble forward, often falling over and feeling his face mash into the ground.  His body was bloated and round, his eyes unblinking black nubs, and his insides damp cotton fluff.  He felt nauseated and dizzy with self-loathing.  He was jerked suddenly away from these thoughts, though, when a singular command rang in his head:  It is time for exercise.  He bent over immediately and then sprang back up.  Hup, two, hup, two.

As Pooh's body was helplessly led through the exercise routine he could feel the stitches in his side and back strain, and sharp pains coursed through his crude semblance of a body.  He wanted to stop so he wouldn't give himself a tear, but his body did not obey.  He started getting flashbacks of his own terrifying creation, could remember feeling his consciousness forming as his cotton soul was first merged together inside the hollow shell of his form, could feel vividly the sharp needles piercing in and out of his spine as he was stitched together without anesthetic.  He paused from his exercise as the memories overwhelmed him, he could feel the horrors like they were happening again.  He remembered being set on a shelf for what felt like eternity, being displayed to strangers like some sort of freak show to sadistic little kids.  And he remembered the first cold gaze of Master, wanting in vain to turn away, and prayed to himself that he wouldn't be chosen.  Then he remembered being lifted and tossed in the shopping basket, and the real nightmare began.

And then, right on schedule, came The Hunger.  Pooh was an addict, and his body growled and trembled with need.  The cupboards had been filled with empty honey pots, as usual, cruelly teasing him.  Early on Master had hooked him on the stuff, and now every day he was overtaken by the uncontrollable need for another fix of honey.  Honey was all he knew of happiness nowadays.  His addiction was the device behind his many adventures, and today would be no exception:  he would do anything, no matter how humiliating or degrading, to get just one more hit, but it was never enough.  He waddled outside to begin his desperate search, and happened by a fellow slave who went by the name of Piglet.

"H-H-H-Hi, Pooh."  Piglet's stutter had gotten worse, of late, Pooh noted.  Pooh felt a faint hint of pity for the creature that stood before him.  Piglet was worse off than even he was, inhabiting a small, pink, frail form that wouldn't stand up to even the weakest of the other stuffed animals.  The years of captivity had utterly broken his will, and Piglet was reduced to a blubbering, cowardly idiot.  This cowardice turned Pooh's pity to contempt, and he felt the urge to dash Piglet's brains out and end the pathetic creature's life.  But Pooh was under command of Master now, and he could do no such thing.

"Why hello, dear Piglet," he said despite his mental protests.

"What are you up to, Pooh?"

"I am in search of some hun-hun for my tum-tum."  Christ, did he just say that?

"Where are you going?  Will it be d-d-d-dangerous?"  Piglet's body trembled like a diabetic with a sweet tooth.

"Of course not, Piglet.  Come along with me."  Pooh started off toward the honey tree, and Piglet followed timidly behind.  Pooh suspected that Piglet was no longer under constant mind-command of Master anymore;  Piglet had been broken long ago and probably followed the script willingly without prompting.  Pooh was surprised that his own will had held out so long.  But he knew that in time, he too would willingly embrace his captor and serve Master of his own volition.  He would use all his mental strength to hold out as long as he could.

Soon they had come to the honey tree, arching menacingly over them.  The Hunger was unbearably strong now, and Pooh knew he had to come up with something.  The Game was the same as many times before;  he had to get up to the bee's nest and get the honey out without invoking the wrath of the bees.  He remembered the times he had failed, and shuddered;  memories of a thousand needles puncturing his terrycloth skin, injecting poison that soaked in, causing his body to convulse.  He didn't want to do this again, but he had to, his need was un-bear-able.  Think, think, think.  The puny mental faculties he had been given were having a hard time trying to come up with anything.  He slammed his fingerless hand against his head and tried again.  Think, think, think.  The only thing he could come up with this time was to tie a balloon to his waist and pretend to be a rain cloud.  This, of course, sounded like the stupidest idea ever even to him, but he had no other ideas.

When he had come back to the site after acquiring a balloon, he came face-to-knee with Master.  Master's cold gaze pierced through him like a razor through a wrist, and Pooh found his own thoughts pushed back into the recesses of his consciousness.  What are you up to, Pooh?  Master spoke, though his lips were unmoving, held in a cruel smile.  "Hullo, Master Robin.  I am trying to get honey from that nest up there.  I will be pretending to be an innocent little rain cloud so the bees will not be upset.  Perhaps you can help me,"  Pooh said without hesitation.  Perhaps I can.  Pooh felt the familiar tingle as Master took over his body again.  He was just an observer now in his own life, and watched his own sense of identity crumble again as Master moved him like a marionette and pushed thoughts into Pooh's mind.  He found his own consciousness buckling under the strain, and then it was crushed, and for a few minutes he simply wasn't there.

When Pooh became self-aware again, he found himself floating in the sky.  At first he thought he was in a wonderful dream where he had learned to fly like Jonathan Livingston Seagull, but the sharp pain around his waist jolted him back into reality as he realized he was being pulled high up into the air by balloons tied around his waist.  He realized in horror that he was still not under his own intention!  He could hear himself blubbering about how he was just a nice, innocent, raincloud;  he tried to block that out.  But Pooh could not block out the voice of Master, echoing inside his head, taunting him.  Tut tut, looks like rain.  Tut tut, looks like rain.  He looked down and could see all his "friends" below, staring up at him with unnatural grins on their face as if strings were tugging on the corners of their lips.  There was Rabbit, and Piglet, and Owl, and Eeyore, and even that damned Tigger.  Tigger's such a stripey little freak, Pooh thought.  Someday I will have Tigger's head on a stave.  Tut tut, looks like rain.  Pooh also had this eerie but distinct sense that a thousand other eyes were looking at him, staring at him, perhaps wearing t-shirts and sandals with his name on it and drooling over books about him.  And none of them would know who he really was, they would only see what Master wished them to see.  He felt naked under the gaze of the thousand voyeur eyes, and wished he had pants.  Tut tut, looks like rain.

The plan failed utterly.  As the bees swarmed out of the hive, popping balloon after balloon, Pooh braced himself for the coming rapid descent towards the forest floor.  Just you wait, Christopher Robin, just you wait, Pooh thought to himself.  Someday you will slip, and I will have a few moments of freedom.  A few moments will be all I need.  And then, Christopher Robin, I will have my revenge.

The End

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