One More Way to Skin a Bear

There was a war being fought between two nations where many soldiers died on both sides of the battlefield. In the war one soldier remained in the front lines and saw countless cruel and horrendous acts committed by both nations. The soldier watched all of these actions with horror at first, but as the battles raged on he found himself doubting his beliefs and grew to become very satisfied with the actions he found himself doing to the people he found in combat.
The war between the nations lasted for decades, but eventually came to an end. After the war the soldier was discharged dishonorably because his habits caused the soldier to become too much of a liability in peacetime.
The soldier understood how dire his situation would become if he could not find a job soon enough, however he also understood that no work could be found for him in a time of peace. Looking up at the sky the soldier cursed every power above that he had heard in the war screaming to the heavens, “I could live through the hell you put me in, and now you belittle me trying to kill me with poverty? Why should I, who can withstand all the tortures above be forced to live with the trash on the street?! If you are so mighty, then give me a challenge worse than those decades of slaughter and when I succeed I demand to be rich enough to never have to work again!”
A voice behind him said, “It’s not wise to tempt an angel with an amusing show you know”. The soldier turned around to see a man in white seated on the branch of a tree watching him with a grin on his face. “And why not?” questioned the soldier. “Because they might be tempted to accept your offer just as I do” said the angel as he floated down to look at the soldier face to face. “Start by defeating this bear.” the man said, and as soon as he spoke a bear came out of the brush headed straight for the soldier. The soldier with his many years of experience in war brandished his knife and killed the bear effortlessly. “Impressive,” said the angel, “now for something a little more challenging. I want you to wear the bear’s pelt for as long as I desire, for that time you can’t clean yourself and you must aid others whenever you are asked. If you fail in either regard, then I will see that you suffer tremendously in the afterlife.” The soldier said “So long as you know your end of the deal I can handle wearing the same clothes for months and helping the needy.” “So it shall be” said the angel as he flew into the sky vanishing on the horizon leaving the soldier a bear pelt suit.
The soldier reached his hand into the suit and found that it had an endless supply of money. “No work and I already have what I want. Hah, deities are such fools.” The soldier left for town and on his way passed beggars asking for money. The soldier didn’t even glance their way and strode into a store buying the most expensive objects he could find.
Pleased with his new items he left the store and bumped into an elderly man who seemed distressed. “What’s your problem?” said the soldier and the old man replied, “I lost my money in a fit of gambling and now I can’t afford to house my three daughters, please could you spare some cash?” The soldier only semi curious for the sake of the daughters gave the old man the wealth needed to pay off all his debt. “Thank you so much, I can’t offer much in return, but if you want I can show you my daughters and if they like you then you can marry any of them” said the old man. The old man’s daughters were all mildly beautiful and for the most part they were only interested in the soldier for his money with the oldest daughter being the only one who was disinterested in him for she did not care about wealth and despised the soldier’s personality. The soldier then married the youngest daughter and lived the ten years set by the angel disobeying all of the rules set by the angel.
At the end of the ten year sentence the soldier was washing the bear suit and felt pretty content until suddenly the machine where the soldier’s suit was in spoke to him. “What an active decade you’ve lived dear soldier.” said the machine, “You really got all that you wanted and then some, not many people can say that.” The soldier replied, “That’s true and I didn’t even have to follow your stupid rules. I got a free ride handed to me and you didn’t think to stop me at any point.” “Oh did I now?” the machine spoke, “I must have forgotten all about your silly little challenge… unless I didn’t.” “What do you mean?” asked the soldier. “What I mean is that I did remember our little agreement and have been waiting to see how miserable I can make your life for failing my test. I’ve been allowing you to see the life of luxury, to get to know how great your life could have been so that when I pull it all out from underneath you you will not be able to know the comparative joy of only being poor, so your eternal torture will seem much more agonizing”. With that the machine collapsed in on itself and the soldier was sucked into a fiery abyss alongside all that he had come to know over his decade of wealth.

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