Tuesday, April 5, 2011

The Cave Man

A cave man wakes up to the sound of his dog barking. The dog looks almost exactly like a wolf, but a skinny one, his ribs are showing. The cave man is equally skinny. They haven’t eaten much lately.

They walk down to a nearby stream. The cave man crouches down to take a drink of the cool water, as the dog laps up water as well. The dog suddenly stops drinking as his ears perk up. He looks across the water to see a group other cave men huddled together, talking and laughing. The cave man sees it too.

The cave man and the dog find a narrow spot in the stream to cross. They approach the group of cave men. They look strong, robust, and well fed, in contrast to our cave man. As the cave man and his dog approach, they see what the hubbub is about - a fresh kill. The group of cave men are tearing off bits of raw flesh from what remains of an antelope, and eating them. The cave man’s mouth waters, as does the dog’s.

The cave man tries to join the group, but before he can get close to the carcass, he is pushed away by the stronger cave men. He tries to reason with them, but they are not concerned with him. He walks away, with his dog, dejected.

The cave man walks into a nearby field. He starts to pick small bits of grain from the tops of the tall grasses. He eats them, but they are not very satisfying. He goes to a tree, and sees a small piece of fruit hanging from a branch. He cannot reach it, so he climbs the tree. He reaches the fruit, picks it, but it looks rotten. He takes a bite, but spits it out. He throws the fruit to his dog, who sniffs it, but won’t eat it either.

As the sun begins to set, the cave man and his dog head back to their cave. As they walk through the grain field again, they are beset upon by a pack of wolves. The cave man is unarmed. His dog growls at the wolf pack, and looks ready to pounce. The wolves get intimidated, and decide it’s not worth it, and they back off. The cave man pets the dog as the wolves run off.

They spot the cave. Before they reach the entrance, a rabbit darts across their path. The dog sees it and takes off after it, into the brush. The cave man hopes he will bring the rabbit back with him. The cave man takes another drink of water from the stream, then walks back to his cave as the stars come out.

The cave man wakes up, later in the day this time, with no dog to wake him up. He looks around but the dog is definitely gone. He walks out to the stream for a drink. As he drinks, he looks up to see the group of well fed cave men holding their spears, getting ready to go hunting.

The cave man needs a spear, so that maybe the group will let him hunt with them. So today, while he gathers grain and fruit, he is also looking for sticks to make a spear. He finds some suitable candidates and walks back to his cave as the sun sets. When he is almost back to his cave, he runs into the wolf pack again. He runs into the cave, and turns to defend himself, swinging the spears-to-be like a long club. He smacks a couple of the wolves in the face, and manages to fend them off for the time being. But he is scared they will come back, and stands guard at the mouth of the cave through the night.

The next morning, he wakes up. He is still sitting at the mouth of the cave. He had fallen asleep some time during the night while watching for wolves. He gets up to go to the stream, taking the largest stick with him. He has a drink, then goes straight to spear-making.

The cave man sits on an old, dry, fallen tree trunk. He puts one end of the stick in a notch on the tree trunk, and starts working on the other end. He is stripping the bark and sharpening the end, twisting and turning the stick as he works. As the sun rises to the apex, he smells something. Something burning. He recognizes the smell from a storm once, when lightning had struck and started a fire. The smell is coming from nearby. He looks around, twisting the spear as he looks, and he sees a tiny wisp of smoke coming from the end of the spear that is stuck in the tree trunk notch. He twists the spear again. More smoke. He yells in surprise.

He forgets about making the spear, and focuses solely on making more smoke. He sees that small bits of bark and leaves near the wood contact point are getting singed. He gathers more leaves and twigs to put at the spot. He keeps rubbing and rubbing the stick on the trunk. More and more smoke, until, finally, the pile of leaves and twigs ignites. FIRE. He jumps up, whooping and dancing, as the sun goes down. He sees that the fire is quickly consuming his pile of leaves and twigs, and makes a mad dash to find more twigs and leaves for the fire. He builds and builds it until it is big and roaring, and starts to even burn the large tree trunk. He dances around the fire, whooping and hollering into the night.

The cave man realizes he is very thirsty, and walks down to the stream for a drink. Down there, in the moonlight, he sees the group of cave men returning from the hunt. They are carrying an animal carcass with them. This is his opportunity.

He builds a makeshift torch from one of his old spears-to-be, and walks over to the group, who are huddled around the carcass, tearing off chunks and eating them. As the cave man approaches with his lit torch, a few of the hunters take notice. They have never seen a man with fire before. By the time he is close to the hunters, they are all staring at him. The cave man points to his torch, then points to the carcass, gesturing for a trade. The hunters look at each other, then one stands up and walks toward the cave man. He tries to take the torch from the cave man, but the cave man waves the torch in the hunter’s face, frightening the hunter. The cave man again gestures to his torch, then the carcass. One of the hunters tears off a small hunk and throws it at the cave man’s feet. The cave man looks at the piece, then gestures for more. The hunters pause, then throw him another hunk, bigger this time. The cave man, pleased, throws the torch at the hunters, grabs his meat, and runs off into the darkness, back to his fire.

The cave man sets one of the pieces of meat next to his roaring blaze, while he eats the other one. It is delicious, and the first meat he has had in a long time. As he finishes eating the piece, he smells something even more delicious. He looks down and sees that the fire has singed the other piece of meat, partially cooking it. He sniffs it again, the scent is wonderful, and he nibbles at it. The taste is incredible. He takes another bite, then hears a rustling in the brush nearby. He jumps up, believing the wolves have returned. He grabs a large stick that is half on fire, ready to defend himself, but then out of the brush emerges his dog. He has been attracted by the scent of cooking meat, and has returned. The cave man sets down his fire stick and pets the dog, then gives him a piece of the meat. The dog is in heaven. The cave man is overjoyed that his friend has returned.

They walk back to the cave, the man with a torch in one hand and a bundle of sticks under his other arm. He builds a fire at the mouth of the cave to ward off the wolves, then curls up on his bedding next to his dog, and goes to sleep with a smile on his face.

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