We walked into a nightmare.
In horror we watched, as a huge bear, reacting to our sudden appearance, raised itself on hind legs and started to rumble towards us. A bloodied man laid on the grass. The beast tread on him. Over the animal's growls, we heard the bones in the man's body snap! A youngster, who was fending the bear off alone, before we arrived on the scene, backed away quickly and disappeared in the bushes.
Sawanni pushed Dular behind him and grabbed for his gun. It was too late: the bear lept at him and bowled him over. I saw Dular jump on the bear from behind and beat at him with his small fists.
The bear shook him off, then turned to see the new attacker. It thrust the terrible maw forward and roared at Dular. My son backed away in panic, but the bear stopped, shook itself, pawed at the ground in an irritated manner and started to walk away. I rushed to Dular, but he already ran to Sawanni.
The big man lay un-moving, Bloody gouges covered him from head to toe, and his arm was at an unnatural angle. He opened his eyes, nevertheless, to moan: "Bear?" I assured him that the threat was over. He closed his eyes again and seemed to go into a deep faint.
The young man came back and leaned over another person on the ground. "Oto-san, Dad!" - he cried, with tears streaming down his face.
Leaving Dular to tend to Sawanni I went to them. The older man's scalp was almost entirely torn off. That's the way a bear attacks: it tries to immediately incapacitate it's prey by scalping it. The victim didn't answer or stir, and I knew, we'll have a grueling task getting two big guys to safety.
Amazingly enough, Sawanni came to and sat up. Dular ran to the river to wet a few rags. After washing, it became clear, the only serious injury the captain received was a broken elbow! I let him rest. The other man was in a much worse shape.
He was one of the Japanese commanders, General Yokoyama, whom we came to see in Yekaterinburg. Sawanni, Dular and I decided to approach him in an informal setting,when we found out, he took his teenage son to do some fishing in the taiga. Amur stayed in the city.
The General remained unconscious. We were afraid that the bear will decide to come back, so Sawanni, Dular and the General's son, Aishi, made a carrier out of some saplings and things from the General's campsite. He moaned heavily, when we loaded him on, and I saw Sawanni grit his teeth at the pain in his arm (I pulled the bones into place and immobilized them as much as possible, but the pain must've been unbearable!). He and I carried the front ends of the contraption, and Aishi carried the back ends. Dular walked along and lent his shoulder, when one of us felt exhausted or the General needed some help.
Fortunately, we left our Jeep just about a mile away from the river. Still, I had strong doubts that the General will survive the bumpy ride back to Yekaterinburg.
To Be Continued