Written by Chelsea

If you’re going out in the woods today,

You’d better not go alone.

It’s lovely out in the woods today,

But suffer to stay at home.

For every bear that ever there was will gather there for certain,

Because today’s the day the teddy bears have their picnic

Today was the first time little Katie had ever heard the teddy song. All of the other children, her friends, sang it aloud while they played with their stuffed teddies. Oh! Don’t get me wrong, of course Katie has plenty of toys to play with — model trains, colourful balls and pretty dolls — but she has never once owned a teddy of her very own. She has wanted one for ever so long, pleading with her mother and father to buy her one, but they never did, and poor Katie never understood why.

But on this particular day, Katie’s dreams were about to come all too true. Because there, laying in the grassy lawn of her own backyard, was a lonely teddy bear. Katie could barely contain herself, but she was also very confused: whose teddy bear was this? There were no other children around; her friends were off playing with their teddies and toys somewhere else, surely.

She wondered if, maybe, her mother left this here for her to find as a present. Could it really be true?

Smiling, Katie skipped over to where the teddy lay, and before she could say a word, the teddy leapt up and ran off, heading into the woods! “Oh dear,” she exclaimed, “I’ve never seen a Teddy do that before. Come back, Teddy!”

Katie ran headlong after him, not sure if this sort of behaviour was normal for a stuffed Teddy. She was so excited to find her new friend; she didn’t even tell her mother where she was going…

It wasn’t long before young Katie found herself very alone, and lost in unfamiliar woods. She slowed down, and walked along, calling out for her friend, “Teddy! Hello, Teddy?”

The sun was setting, and the woods were growing dark very fast. Poor Katie saw no sign of her Teddy, and she was ready to give up. But where was home?

Panic set in now, Katie frantically tried to retrace her steps. She was running through the underbrush, hoping desperately to see her porch light shining in the dark. Ah! There was a light ahead, dim but peeking up from somewhere just ahead. It was her house, she was sure of it. So she ran as quickly as her little legs could carry her, tears running down her cheeks. Oh, her mother would be so cross with her when she got back, but she didn’t care. She would be home again, warm and safe. Not far, now…

The light was brighter now. Suddenly, Katie found herself in a little meadow. There was a small table, and the scene was lit by a tiny lantern filled with bright fireflies. Standing before her, black button eyes gleaming, was her Teddy. Her eyes went from her Teddy, and back to the little scene behind him. All around the table were more teddies, all different shapes and sizes. She didn’t notice them right away, but as her eyes adjusted to the light, she noticed their faces were… deformed. But her Teddy stood there, waiting for her.

“I found you!” she laughed ready to pick up her Teddy in her arms. But out of the corner of her eye, she sees an empty lantern swinging towards her. After that, she remembers nothing.

When she comes around, she finds herself in a strange bed. She tries to get up, but she can’t move. Just then, she feels something reach around her, and pick her up. It’s her friend, Vanessa. Katie tries to scream, but no sounds come out. Vanessa takes her outside and lays her down in a pile of other teddies they look oddly familiar…

Before she could try to call out once more, a voice rings out somewhere unseen, Vanessa’s mother calling for her to come in for dinner. As soon as the door shuts tight, the teddies begin to move! They get up and stretch. One offers to help Katie up, and takes her by the hand and leads her in line with the rest as they march towards the woods.

Voices now, as some children run through the yard. All of the teddies … Katie included drop limp to the ground instantly.

“What’s happening to me,” Katie thought. She couldn’t make a sound or move at all when there are other kids around, and this scares her. The children play with them until the sun goes down, and they all scurry off to bed, leaving the toys out on the lawn.

With the first light of the stars twinkling high above, the teddies rise up. A supernatural force “pulls” Katie along with them, leading deep into the forest. She finds herself again in the mysterious clearing, the table set with a raggedy plaid picnic table cloth. Each teddy, with their misshapen forms, finds their seat around the table and Katie gets a good look at them all.

On the little log stools they sit on, under them, there are pictures. There’s a little girl about her age beneath one, and then a boy, and another child’s face beneath the next bear, and the next. Six children’s faces beam bright smiles from pictures, and slowly Katie sees their resemblance in the faces of the bears.

There’s one last, empty stool, with a picture lying neatly beside it. Katie stoops beside it, and takes a good look at the photo at her feet. It’s her, right there, all bright & smiling. And suddenly she understands.

The bears are staring at her now they look as if they’re…smiling. One of them points to a message carved into the trunk of an old oak tree where the lanterns hang.

It read:

“Salvation is in the bear

And those who own you, stop you.

Forgive them, and send them to Salvation”

There’s a muffled cry from behind, and Katie turns to see her friend Vanessa struggling, gagged and bound. One of the teddies holds a sharp knife, and offers it up to Katie, who takes it without a thought. Another bear carries fluff and button eyes, glistening in the lantern light. An empty teddy skin hangs on a low bough off to the right.

The bear who led her here shows Katie where to cut, and guides her as she carves out Vanessa’s nerves and organs with precision and care. Soon she will be one of them … another teddy.

Remember, if you’re going out in the woods today, you’d better not go alone…

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