Monday, March 17, 2014

The Neighbors

Danube River valley  =/- 40,000 ya

            Muka trudged through the brush and trees in the gray light of dawn.  He stopped sometimes, using his spear handle to gently part the grass or low branches on a bush.  Then he would move forward again, his large head swinging from side to side, sniffing the air.  Almost every morning, just as it was getting light, he would walk like this, a different route every day.
            Approaching a small meadow, he slowed, inhaling the air.  Going completely still behind a small shaking tree, he peered between the branches.  There were four deer, quietly munching on grass.  Muka knew he could hit the one closest to him. She was small, but it would be enough to eat for him and the clan. He raised his spear slowly, taking one final sniff-
            --and stopped short. Smoke, different smoke, was in the air.  His own home was high on the ridge behind him, and all the smoke was going upward in the still morning.  This smell was different.
            The deer forgotten, Muka stood quietly, inhaling the air again, and looking for the signs of a big fire. It couldn’t be too large, as none of the animals or birds were fleeing the area. The deer had even been calm. The smell was strongest in the direction away from the meadow, and toward the fast water.
            Even more slowly, he followed the odor to the edge of the water. Hiding behind a large tree he looked up and down the edge. Now he was hearing some odd noises, like several little ones calling and crying out. Suddenly he heard a male voice, but making noises he had never heard. 
            Crawling out on his knees, he cautiously searched for the source of the noises.  He found them. The sight made him fall flat on his stomach, and his mouth was open.
            On the other edge of the fast water was another meadow, ringed with trees. In it were strange wood objects that were tall, like trees in the cold time.  A large fire burned in the center, and two tall figures were holding a pig carcass over the flames.  Several small ones were indeed running around and making all sorts of noise. Muka was sure there would be no game around for  a long ways with all these strange loud sounds.
            A tall figure, who sounded male, came among the small ones.  He made two of them follow him to the edge of the fast water.  He gave each of them a small sharp spear. Then he walked into the fast water up to his knees. Muka was shocked. When one entered the fast water, one fell in and was gone. This tall one stayed, standing still, not falling in.
            The tall one held his spear for what seemed a long time, then plunged it into the fast water.  When he brought it out, there was a water animal flapping on the end.  The two small ones stood in the water and watched, trying to copy the tall one.  One of them plunged his spear in and toppled over, falling into the fast water.
            Muka was startled and cried out.  Not sure how, he found himself standing.  The other small turned quickly and seeing Muka, froze. The tall one went into the fast water and helped the fallen small one back onto the land.  Muka gasped aloud.  This time the tall one heard it too.  The three of them turned and looked straight at Muka.

            Tapoh laughed as his son, Tipunu, tried to get the hang of fishing.  Tipunu came out wet, but with a smile on his face.
            “A fish, big!”
            “Tipunu learns.” Tapoh patted him on the shoulder, proud. Then he heard a strange sound.
            Across the river, his large face in shock, was a heavy set stranger. His hair was long and matted.  He wore no clothes and  held a very simple spear. Tapoh stared, and the stranger stared back.  After a long moment, Tapoh raised his hand in greeting.

            Muka scurried away, terrified. What were these creatures,  tall, with power over fast water and water animals?  When the tall one had raised his hand, Muka was terrified that he would have power over him as well. Muka ran the entire distance  back to his cave, his clan, scared of something he could not understand.

1 comment:

  1. In all probability the different hominid species may have feared each other, after all, we sole surviving 'modern' hominids fear each other because of colour, religion, size and even gender :D