Don't Go Out In The Woods Today, Or You'll Get A Big Surprise
If you go out in the woods today,
you're sure of a big surprise.
If you go out in the woods today,
you'd better go in disguise.
If you go out in the woods today,
you'd better not go alone.
Don't go out in the woods today;
it's safer to stay at home.
For today's the day the teddy bears have their picnic.
Jimmy Kennedy Daniels – The Teddy Bears' Picnic
Sneaking stealthily through the woods of the newly-named 'Jellystone National Park' – and wasn't that prophetic, considering that she was hunting the equivalent of a vampiric Yogi Bear – Buffy Summers cursed herself for ever thinking that she could have a normal vacation. What with Sunnydale being blown off the map – literally – and hundreds of newbie Slayers to take care of for the past three months, with little to no demonic activity in sight, Buffy had worn herself out. So much so that Giles had suggested she take a week for herself, find some rest and relaxation.
Nothing more relaxing than camping, right? Wrong. Not twenty-four hours after she'd arrived at Jellystone National Park, word about a shredded, bloody corpse had reached her.
At least, the park officials had thought it was a corpse. The bloody flesh and entrails had been in so many pieces they couldn't be sure. But a coroner from the city had turned up the next day, and, after promptly losing his lunch at the sight of the…bits…he'd had to look at, had declared that it wasn't a corpse.
It was six of them. Or what was left after whatever 'wild animal' – really a demon, but what forest ranger would ever think of that possibility when confronted with half a dozen dead people? – had gotten hold of them.
That information had precipitated Buffy's call to Giles, and after a little judicious spell-casting at his direction, she was now on the trail of Picinac demons. When Giles had first told her about them, she'd thought he was playing an early April Fool's Day joke on her.
Really, who would believe that there was such a thing as demons which looked like giant stuffed animals? No one sane…so she thought.
Picinac demons were ten feet tall and looked like very over-sized teddy bears. Very over-sized teddy bears with long razor-sharp claws, six-inch fangs, and blood red eyes that glared rage over everyone they met. They were carnivorous, and would eat anything they deemed to be the size of a suitable meal.
That size was pretty much anything human and over the age of four.
And so, armed with magical implements of demon destruction, Buffy was now set to take down Yogi Bear.
Snorting under her breath at the absurdity of the situation – and silently bemoaning the loss of her precious week of solitude – Buffy tramped further through the forest, looking for any of the signs of demon activity Giles had told her to watch for. Spying some foot-long claw marks in a nearby tree – and knowing they couldn't have been made by any animal in the forest, because they glowed with a subtle phosphorescence; a very insidious poison, actually, but luckily, it would lose its potency in less than half an hour – Buffy decided that the small clearing she was in was large enough for a fight if need be. Hopefully she'd be able to take down Demon Yogi with a swift kick to the head and break his/her/its neck, but if not…
Best to be prepared. Which explained why she had brought so much demon-fighting paraphernalia with her on her vacation.
As she brought the Giles-certified 'Picinac Dinner Call' – apparently the Picinacs were social creatures, and they made a specific sound when they'd captured enough 'dinner' for a group to share and wanted to alert other Picinacs in the vicinity that there was food nearby; the PDC would hopefully bring the Picinac terrorizing the park to her in quest for easily accessible food – up to her lips, Buffy thought she heard leaves rustling behind her. But what she called her 'Slayer Sense' didn't go off, so she ignored it, thinking it was probably just a small animal, and blew into the ocarina-like apparatus that Giles had supplied her with. A resounding roar, sounding a bit like that of a wounded bull moose – if a wounded bull moose could shatter glass by reaching high C – emanated from her magical musical instrument.
The discordant sound echoed from the surrounding trees and scrub brush and then faded away, leaving only silence in its wake.
There was an expectant hush, the raucous sound having quieted all birds and rodents in the vicinity, then…
A branch cracked loudly off in the distance, alerting Buffy to presence of something. Then another. A loud rustling of leaves, and, as if in answer to her call – God, she hoped so. This was the sixth time she'd tracked down the Picinac's trail and blown the horn, only to come up empty in her search – heavy footsteps thudded against the grounds, the crunch of last fall's dead leaves sounding loud in the heavy, expectant stillness of the forest.
And the footsteps were headed her way.
Long, frustrating moments passed as Buffy waited for the Pininac to arrive, but finally a tall, brown furry form lumbered its way through the trees, eyes shining with blood lust and hunger.
Quickly Buffy dropped the PDC in her pocket and launched herself at the Picinac. It took about five minutes, four blunted knives – Picinacs had very tough fur, and even her steel knives weren't enough to cut through it – three aborted attempts to flip the demon on its back – Picinacs were heavy critters! – two barley-avoided claw swipes to her exposed midriff, and one roundhouse kick to break its neck before the oversized teddy bear lay prone on the forest floor, deader than the year-old leaves which littered the ground.
Demon dispatched, Buffy heaved herself up off the ground and brushed fallen leaves, pine needles and other forest detritus from her person, before bringing out the little pouch of enspelled powder Willow had whipped up for her. Properly applied to the Picinac's limbs, the magic dust would eat away at fur, flesh and fang, until in one hour there would be nothing left of the demon save a depression in the forest floor and her memories.
After sprinkling the powder on the defeated demon, Buffy headed back towards civilization. Demon dispatched, she now needed to inform Ranger Smith – and wasn't that even more of a coincidence seeing as how the park was called 'Jellystone National Park!' – that she was cutting her vacation short; there was a Holiday Inn on Route 66 with her name on it. She planned to finish off her vacation in relative comfort, and hopefully get at least some of her Watcher-prescribed rest and relaxation before she had to go back to being a den mother for three hundred super-strength demon-killing Girl Scout Slayers.
Watching the blonde beauty depart, three men dressed in camouflage fatigues, clutching illegal – for this park, anyway; Jellystone was a nature preserve – long-range rifles and sawed-off shotguns to their chests as they cowered on the ground, could only thank whatever gods watched over hapless hunters that it wasn't their butts she'd kicked.
"Damn, Bubba, what kind of moose call did you buy?" Emmett demanded with the air of someone who'd been hit on the head with a very large mallet and was now seeing small stars and planets circling his head. He, his brother Lester, and their cousin Bubba all stared in stunned horror at the sight of the large, brown furry corpse not ten feet from their duck blind.
"I don't know, but I'm gonna get me one of those," Lester said, staring dreamily off into the woods towards where their unknowing rescuer had departed.
"Are you nuts?" Emmett demanded of his brother. "Why in the world would you want to attract one of those…things?"
"I was actually referring to that busty blonde who saved our asses," Lester replied, eyes aglitter with lust. He grinned, revealing half a dozen gold-capped teeth. "She was damn cute."
"She could break you in half," Bubba pointed out.
Nodding vigorously, Lester said gleefully, "Yeah, but what a way to go!"
Emmett whimpered at the very thought. "I'm never goin' huntin' in these woods again!" he declared.
"Amen, cuz. Amen," Bubba agreed.