The hewn rock walls made better doors than windows, but sunlight still filtered in through the many cracks near the front of the cave. The mouth was covered with a hide of a massive furry mammal, blocking all but a few of the rising globe’s rays.
I awoke to the tune of our 500-pound alarm clock, trumpeting out Taps. I nearly clubbed him over the head, but remembered in just the nick of time that he was nearly five times my size. Good thing I hadn’t rolled out of my sleeping furs into the charming arctic climate that pervaded our land.
I crack my beady eyes open and stare at the remains of last night’s dinner. Cold meat. That’s pretty much all we have around here. We have no way to warm it up so we eat it cold. Not the best but we make do. Our teeth get pretty strong after all the chewing and chomping we do. Jaws get tired, though.
I wonder what we can do to make the meat hot. Let’s see, lava pit? Nah. Makes your stomach feel a bit rocky. Steam cave? Tigers get at it too easily.
These things filled my mind as I rolled out of my blankets and into my clothes. More blankets only these tied somewhere. Now if only I could find where this hunk of fur tied off at.
After groping around for a few minutes, my primitive brain kicks into gear and I remember how to do it. I tie the thong around my waist and drape my blanket over my shoulder. Ready for the day.
I push aside my door, and step outside into the sub-freezing temperature. It so cold we don’t even get penguins here. They’re all way down near the bottom of the ball we inhabit in the warm climate. Man, what I’d give for a permanent vacation there.
I yawn and stretch my arms, my armpit moisture freezing. Great so now I cant put my arms down again. I waddle over to the main cave a short distance away, trying to warm up again so I can put my hands down.
“Hands up!” yelled Eez.
“Very funny.” Everyone got a huge kick out of that one. Man Eez can’t even make up a funny joke but the rest of the clan think he’s God’s comical relief for mankind.
I think God was in a bad mood when he created Eez. Ugly as the proverbial duckling, with brains to make a sweet couple. Seems like he had fallen out of the ugly tree and hit all the stupid branches on the way down. He was so ugly most people thought he scratches his arse and his head at the same time.
“So what are we supposed to do today?” Chief Ooz asked. He scratched his hairy chest and the flakes descended like snow. He shed about 3 pounds a day just scratching himself.
“I think we need to find something to give as an excuse for making the women do all the work. They’re beginning to think we haven’t been searching for adjacent continents like we’ve been telling them.” Everybody got a good laugh at that one. The womenfolk were so easily deceived. The looks of amusement changed to slightly bewildered glances.
“Uhh, what’s a continent?” Uud’s guttural voice broke the silence.
“You don’t know what a continent is?” I asked snidely. “Maybe you should ask Maa what is if you don’t know.” All the rest of the menfolk snickered condescendingly at his ignorance. We didn’t know either but it sure hurt our manly ego to confess that.
Uud looked a bit put out and stood up. He wandered off into the arctic forest, ashamed and humiliated before his ever so brilliant peers. He makes Eez’s smarts shine like the sun in arctic winter. Uud is so dumb he makes Eez look like the cave clan genius. We probably wouldn’t see him again for a while. At least until he had wrestled his pride to accept being humiliated in front of his peers.
I had been multitasking, both snickering at Uud and putting my primordial brain to work.
“Here’s the plan guys. When the women ask where we’re going were going to say, and I quote: We’re off on a hunt. Then they will all become awestruck at our extreme manliness and leave us alone. Then we prepare our weapons and head off to play a good game of golf.”
“And just how do we get our golf stuff out of our caves without the women noticing?” Chief Ooz was especially intuitive today. The pile of skin had become a small mound.
“Hang on, I’m thinking about that one.” Man all these tough questions and I had just woken up. “Okay, new plan: we actually hunt today. After all our meat supply is getting low and I need a new blanket.”
All the men looked at their own blankets. Most had holes of some sort, and a few were just big holes filled with small bits of fur. While what I had said was penetrating their tiny, archaic brains, I pulled a chunk of meat out from my pocket that I had been saving from a few days. Gnawing on the hard hunk, my jaw soon began to complain. Cold meat just wasn’t too good for a happy jaw.
“Alright men,” Chief Ooz said, “Here’s the plan. We’re going for a hunt. Grab your gear and be ready to move out by the time the snow melts on the rock over there.”
“What a great plan,” Eez enthused. He too was gnawing some meat he had stashed away in his garment. A chorus of applause greeted the chief’s proposal. Everyone forgets how exciting a hunt can be until they are actually doing it. Then their primal cerebrum kicked into gear and the complaining began. I was glad the chief could take recognition for my brilliant plan. After all, that was what every man wanted, for someone else to take his credit. Always happens. Whoopdeedoo.
My fellows shuffled off to their caves to make the excuses to their women and grab their gear. Of course knowing these men I wouldn’t be surprised if it took a bit longer than expected. Most had to ask a neighbor to help them find their arse, and even then sometimes it took a while. Sometimes it could take a whole troop of them. Maybe they could form a Democratic Party.
Women, of course, were much smarter than the men, myself excluded. They actually could do something right without having to sit and think about it for an extended period of time. The only thing is they didn’t come very good-looking these days. Most made Eez look like God’s gift to womankind. But they came in handy so I wasn’t complaining.
It’s funny how even the dumbest of men can be so verbal about something they don’t even understand. I heard arguing outside my cave and ambled outside to watch Eez and Uud arguing over hearth space. What they used the space for, who knew. What the heck was a hearth anyways? Maybe one of those things we need to ask a woman about. Nah, too painful for our manly ego.
Another couple of men joined sides just for the sake of it, clueless as to what it was about. The shouting increased in volume until the grunts and snorts could be heard in the chief’s cave. Then all hell broke loose in the form of our alarm clock.
He decided to join the argument and sent a blaring trumpet through the camp. Everyone clapped their ears onto their hands and ducked to avoid the fallout of expectoration that was sure to follow. Eez wasn’t fast enough. He stood there dripping phlegm. The alarm clock had taken Uud’s side. You could hear Eez’s brain rattling damply inside his head.
The chief came out of his cave and grunted loudly for the men to get ready to go. He had to repeat himself, as most of them men were a little hard on hearing already, and the noise of the alarm didn’t help any. Finally he resorted to clubbing one of them over the head to get them moving. It worked. The man rocketed toward his cave, obviously eager to be off. He didn’t see the wall though, and mid-flight couldn’t change his trajectory. The cave smacked his head with its wall and he bounced off like he had been batted by the pinch hitter in the giant’s baseball league.
I think the guys got the hint because they scattered like a stampeding herd of three-toed sloths and reappeared in only half a phase of the moon, if my calculations were correct. They all had their weapons at the ready, generic clubs to the man. Each looked vaguely similar, in the aspect that it came from a tree of some sort, but there the similarities ended. Every club varied in shape and size according to the skill and dexterity—or lack of it—of its owner.
We set out on our grand adventure of escaping the menial tasks the women wanted us to do by pretending to go hunting. I guess maybe we’d actually have to hunt after all, since they expected us to bring something back. They had told us so plainly last time. Not a man had escaped unscathed from their cruelties. Bell peppers. There are 248 different vegetables in the world. Pigs eat 246 of them. The ones they don’t eat are bell peppers and one more that I can’t think of offhand. Pigs must have some sense.
As we strolled along, or ambled, or waddled, or aped, or whatever each of these characters did, I took time to stare at the charming blue sky. The birds flew by, singing merrily as they glided through the frosty air. The pterodactyls cackled gleefully as they cut short the tune of some unfortunate bird. And the Tyrannosaurus Rexes just snickered loudly as they caught the pterodactyls swooping low. Ahh, the chain of life. Bloody thing.
Suddenly the stillness of the frigid morning was sliced by the bellow of a bull mammoth. Us guys looked at each other. Great, here was our chance to prove our manliness to each other and the women. Whoever was the bravest would be grunted about in every cave for at least a few days. To these buffoons, brave meant idiotic. Whoever nearly got himself killed and survived, he won the contest in idiocy or bravery as they called it.
Well, I could be as dumb as the next man. I decided to ask the mammoth the time. I ran towards him to attract his attention so he could stick his ear down where he could hear what I was saying. I think he got a different idea, what with my club swinging wildly above my head, and me yelling at the top of my lungs. He bent down to hear my question and swung his trunk at me like he was trying our for the nearest giants’ baseball team. He’d probably make it.
I didn’t have time to get out more than, “What t…,” before he hit me upside the head with what had to be the nearest cave. Mammoth trunks are just squishy little deals. No mammoth could hit that hard without some sort of weapon. Had to be a cave. I bet the guys would tell the women about the size of the cave, too.
But that all came later. Right now I was just trying to concentrate on not smashing into the nearest ice wall. I flapped my arms wildly like I had seen Oud do, rest his soul. The same thing happened to me that had befallen him, and my head tore a huge hole in the wall. My body decided to follow and make the hole bigger.
Finally I decided to stop breaking the ice, and broke my forward momentum on a wall of rock beneath it. Probably broke my neck too. I groaned and tried to stand up. Gravity was a pain is the ass and head and just about every other body part I had. I sagged back down top the icy floor, literally freezing my butt off. I tried to stand and actually managed to drag myself halfway up the wall before going limp and crashing to the icy floor. At least I fell in the direction of the exit.
A brilliant idea struck me like an 18-wheeler. What is an 18-wheeler? What is 18? And what is a wheel? Man, I must be punch drunk. I pulled myself up the wall, peeling the top three layers of my skin off. I again flopped towards the exit. At this rate it would take me about fifteen more flops to get out. What the hell is fifteen? My brain was going through weird stuff.
Finally, I made it outside my hole and watched the fierce battle between moronic mammal with teeth, tusks and trunk, and moronic mammal/primate with wooden sticks. You can guess who was winning.
I saw my fellow men being thrown around like leaves in a particularly nasty thunderstorm, and my blood boiled. Just enough to get some feeling back in my limbs. Maybe if I stood and watched long enough I might get all sensation back, and my brain might get some blood going through it too.
But camaraderie got the better of sense and I struggled to remain upright as I dragged myself towards the fray. I half jumped, half limped onto the trunk, and set myself for a fling. It came, throwing me high in the air. What our poor woolly creature did was throw me in the air straight above his head. Now had my chance to do something really great and bring down the mammoth. I braced myself for impact and readied my club. I dropped like the remains of a primitive pigeon spat from a pterodactyl’s mouth. My guts nearly flew out. I clamped my hand over my mouth to keep them down.
You know how they say the higher you fly, the larger hole you make in the impacted surface? Well I was hoping the thing that would get the hole would be the mammoth. Seems he had other plans. Tricksy beast that he was, he sidestepped my freefall with all the speed of tree sap after having been exposed to the frigid air for three years. But it was enough, as he had tossed me incredibly high.
As I plummeted towards the ground, I had the presence of mind to throw my club at the beast and yell, “Oh, crap.” I saw the ground flinch and make space for me as I smacked in a full belly flop directly into the hard, ice-packed earth. Well, that definitely took the wind out of my sails, blew a bit of sense into me and my breath out of me.
I tasted the metallic tang of frozen acid rain. Acid rain? We don’t even have a wheel yet much less a car to pollute the earth. How is this possible? And why the heck do I always say thing that mean absolutely nothing to me when I just finished getting my brains pounded out. Must be a sign of forward evolution.
Groaning, I again tried to stand with much the same luck as I had experienced in my self-excavated cave minutes before my experiment at flying. Sagging back to the floor I wished I had something to lean on. Aha, there lay Ooz’s club, as prostrate as he was, and as unmoving as well. Probably as smart too, I snickered to myself. I again tried to stand up using the club for support. Seemed just as I was about to be upright, gravity took hold on me and threw the club as far away as he could. Gravity was one sick puppy.
I decided to leave the undignified method of rising and falling, and revert to the much more refined method of crawling. Or in this case dragging myself over the ground to escape the crater I had dug for myself.
As I neared the brim of my pit, I felt the mammoth reach out his tusk for me. I thought he would tell me the time now that I had shown no hostility and endured his playful jostling. He did, but in a voice so loud in threw me back to the bottom of my crater.
“Could you say that again, jut a bit more quietly this time?” I asked politely while trying to climb the ridge again. You are always polite with animals at least three time your size. Mother Oog raised her son to be a polite little scrap, and always kind to his peers. Peers are those who could whale on your arse without breathing hard. We respected those few, Chief Ooz being one of them. He hadn’t gotten his chieftainship without working for it.
The mammoth developed a sore throat or something because he clammed up like the proverbial…well…clam. He just rolled me back down to the bottom of the crater, ignoring my protests. I felt like he was playing with me before he ate me, which was something mammoths seldom did. Eat people, I mean. Finally I had enough strength to totter upright and stepped on the mammoth’s trunk. So much for manners.
It got over its sore throat in a heartbeat and let out a roar of rage that nearly sent me tumbling back down the hill. I scrambled away from his rage and hustled for the nearest cover. Which sadly was beyond my eyesight, but at least I got out if the way of his swinging trunk. The cover still eluded me but I got out of the beast’s poor eyesight.
I stood there wondering what to do when I heard a rumbling. I looked up just in time to see a large chunk of ice and rock disentangle itself from the hole I had created and succumb to gravity. Today was shaping up to be my lucky day. First I take chunks out of cliffs. Then I learn to fly, the hard way. Now I get to get crushed by a large piece of earth? Oh yeah, this was my day.
I guess the dude who looked out for me was on the job and not snoozing like usual. On its trajectory towards the top of my hairy head, the rock/boulder bounced of a projection in the cliff and changed direction. It headed straight for the blind, befuddled pachyderm. I nearly yelled a warning before I realized what was going to happen.
The noise sounded like a rock hitting a large empty shell of bone. That is exactly what it was, only make that a boulder hitting the large, tough, but very empty brain of an enormous mammoth. The mammoth stood there looking puzzled for a moment. It hadn’t quite hit him yet that he had just been brained by a boulder at least as big a he was. Then it sunk in and he decided it was the cue for him to keel over, unconscious. Did a heck of a job of it too, shaking he ground with his massive bulk.
None of my buddies were awake yet and I knew this was my chance for glory and fame, at least until my fellow cavemen’s brains were overloaded and the small memory driven out. I quickly seized my chance for glory and leapt over to where the mammoth lay, out of it. He wasn’t quite croaked yet and still breathed, but I could change that. It took a few leaps, but I got there without tripping over my rather oversized feet.
I grabbed my club and wielded it to the best of my limited ability. You can give me the point for that I tried. I gave him such solid whacks you’d think he’d be dead. Of course solid for me wasn’t quite the same as a solid thwack for him. He was more used to the redwood-tree-falling-on-his-head type of whacks. No matter. I just had to wake my buddies to get them to help.
Then I had a brilliant idea. I could invent the wedge. Why hadn’t I thought of it before? I grabbed some sharp rock and placed it ever so roughly behind the left ear of the prostrate mammal. Of course, I had to get around that ear first, a task that took me a good long while. Finally I got it in a position where I could give it a real solid whack. I held it in one hand and swung ever so violently with the other.
That day, I invented the yell of the idiotic handyman that tried to swing and missed, pounding his poor thumb. It was so loud it nearly woke my sleeping or unconscious cavemates. But being incredibly deaf, as well as having a think layer of fur inside and around their ears, they remained prone and blissfully unaware of the drama taking place around them. I believe I started an aria on the theme of my extreme bravery in the face of adversity six times my size. We tend to exaggerate.
I decided to change tactics. I wound the ear of the beast around my sharp rock and used the floppy thing to hold my rock steady. Wham! I smacked the rock a good blow, expecting it to penetrate the skull of the poor mammal that lay powerless at my feet. I hadn’t reckoned on the skull being so stubborn. It dented it real nice, like one fingertip or something. This could take all day.
I swung at that rock like it was going out of style. Eventually it entered the skull after much pounding, leaving a hole big enough to fit my finger in. What they didn’t tell me was that when you took the rock out, it closed up on your finger dangling inside looking for the brain. I also invented the yell of the woe-is-me-idiot-who-just-did-something-really-stupid. I was on a roll today. I banged around for a bit longer trying to open the hole more.
Finally I could see inside. I looked for the brain. It was like searching for the proverbial oblong shaped rock chip in the pile of leftovers from yesterday’s excavation of your new cave. I tried as I might to find it but the little thing eluded me. Just imagine trying to find a pea on a plate in the dark with one finger. Quite the proverbial camel through the eye of the needle. Where was I getting all these proverbs from? This was great fun.
I located the thing and squeezed it with all my strength. It made the sound an overcooked egg does when you throw it at a large wall. Smelled pretty bad too. I had succeeded in something no one else had ever done before. Killing a mammoth single handed. Inventing two different kinds of yells, along with the wedge. Yes, sir, I was going to get acclaim for at least a few days.
I climbed on top of the mammoth and struck a dignified pose. I rested my hand lightly on my club, trying to look as refined as possible. When my buddies awoke they would see me astride the dead pachyderm and get what had happened. It might take awhile but they’d get it. Now I just had to wait for them to wake up.
“How long is this going to take?”