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Death Walks Behind me

16 April 2014, 11:20

Nothing makes me so mad as seeing a broad being mistreated, and this one was being mistreated in the most brutal way. This ugly Neanderthal  (is there any other kind?) was dragging her by the hair, nothing wrong with that. But he was dragging her face down, and that made me mad!

My name is Magnon: Cro Magnon, Pea Eye, and my blood was boiling! I strode over and stood in his way. He eyed me as he would a slug with lime-scale. ‘What you want?!’ he asked aggressively.

‘I want you to put that lady down, and leave.’

‘She with me!’ he spat out. ‘Not your business.’ He tried to shoulder me out of the way, but I take a lot of shouldering.

 I got up off the ground and dusted myself off, then ran around to get in front of him again. ‘What you trying do?’ he grated.

‘Pal, I’m looking at those bumps on her head, and they don’t look like they come from a dating club. Also, you don’t drag a lady face down.’ He looked at me as if he would like to kill me, then obviously decided he would, because he brought a huge club out of his bearskin and swung it at me. I stepped in towards him, and shoved a piece of obsidian up under his chin, penetrating deep enough for the blood to flow quite freely.

‘Now, I’m tired of asking nicely: put her down and get outa here!’ He tried to back off, but I crowded him, not allowing him the luxury of free movement. He let go of her and bounded back, swinging his club with all his might, but it met with empty air. I pulled the double-barrelled club out of the back of my bearskin, and he never knew what hit him.

I tied him up securely with some lianas, then chiselled a message to Olchap, giving him a brief outline of the story, and sent off a carrier pterodactyl. I took the lady back to Crashamanka for Blooey to tend to her many cuts and grazes. These Neanderthals really disgusted me!

Later in the day, one of my monkey waiters pulled aside my zebra skin and announced that Olchap was there to see me. I got up from behind my deskrock to go out and greet him. ‘Hi Olchap! Buy you a drink?’

‘Thanks, old chum, but not while I’m on duty.’ He nodded. ‘Nice job with that Neanderthal! It’s going to take a while for that lady to recover, and she’s not even his. He’s going to spend a long time in the little caves.’

‘Aren’t they getting awfully crowded?’ I asked. ‘You’ve been putting a lot of folks in those caves!’

‘No, not at all! You’d be surprised to see how deep those caves go into the mountain. In fact,’ he leaned forward confidentially. ‘I could fit half the folks of this neighbourhood into those caves, and they still wouldn’t be full. The main problem is keeping them fed. You have no idea how much time it takes each day just to go out into the jungle and collect food for them!’

‘You should put more of them in the tar pits,’ I said.

‘That would never do!’ he said, then saw me smiling. ‘Good one there, Cro, you had me going for a minute.’

I leaned forward.  ‘Seriously, though: you should consider more head crushings. It’ll save you a lot of effort and send out a strong message to the bad guys.’

‘I must say, I’ve thought of it, but it seems so brutal! I know it’s not as bad as the tar pits, but it’s brutal nevertheless.’

‘Have you thought of how brutal it is to put them in a dark cave for years and years? They might be blind when they come out. How long do you think they’d survive then? The tar pits are the best solution, because you don’t have to worry about disposing of the bodies, and no-one really fears the little caves, but everyone is terrified of the tar pits. Think about it.’

He looked at me searchingly, for the longest time, then leaned forward. ‘Cro, when I took this job, it was to create law and order, and that’s sometimes difficult, but if we all choose the easy path, it’ll end up in chaos.’ We stared at each other for a long moment: ‘Is that what you want? People like Kameleonise running the show and ruining the lives of the ordinary folk?’

I shook my head. ‘No, I want justice, which is why I called you to deal with that Neanderthal. And you have Orang-utans to help you, but I’m not sure how effective it is.’

‘Has it ever been as peaceful as it is now?’

‘No,’ I admitted.

‘So don’t fight the system. Work with it and you’ll see that it’s all fine. After five or six moons in the little caves, that Neanderthal won’t be harassing any more females.’ He put his hand on my shoulder, his blue stone glinting in the dim light. ‘You’ve got to trust me on this. You do trust me, don’t you?’

‘Of course I do!’

‘Then leave it in my hands and work with me: soon this system will spread to all of Pangaea and we’ll all be able to go about our lives in peace. You’d like that, I’m sure?’

I sighed heavily. He was right, of course. The old ways had to go, no matter how much I felt some people needed the tar pits.

I left Crashamanka early that evening and, while on the jungle path felt a stunning blow to the head and, as I was about to turn around, another blow felled me. I didn’t even see shiny things; just darkness.

I don’t know how long I was out, but when I came to, I was so securely trussed I couldn’t move. I was lying on my side looking at the jungle floor, wondering what was going on and how I was going to get out of this mess. I saw a huge pair of feet, real dirty and smelly, right in front of my face and I tried to turn my head and see who it was, but it turned out to be unnecessary.

I felt as if my hair was being pulled out of my scalp as a hand grabbed a handful of hair and lifted my head, with half my body to the level of his ugly face. It was a Neanderthal I’d never seen before, but it didn’t matter, they were bad news.

‘You think you clever to hit Skug on head and steal broad.’

‘I didn’t steal the broad!’ I grunted defiantly. ‘He was hurting her, and she wasn’t even his.’ He twisted my head around and I felt as if he was going to pull out all my hair. ‘Is that the best you can do?’ I grated and he kicked me in the midriff, the air exploding out of my lungs as I hit the ground and lay there, trying to get my breath back.

I was in a world of pain and was sure that this was finally it for me. No-one knew where I was and, by the time they found me, I would be long dead, eaten by compies. I heard a sudden sigh and a thud, and the Neanderthal fell down right in front of me, a long piece of obsidian sticking out the back of his neck. He was dead before he hit the ground, I was sure.

I was now puzzled as well as being in severe pain, and I heard a babble of guttural voices, speaking a language I’d never heard before. I felt a sudden, excruciating pain in my head as I was lifted by my hair and dragged over to a tree, where I was ties securely to the tree. This was zebra skins for me, I was sure.

These guys, about twenty of them (told you I could count!) were the strangest looking creatures I’d ever seen. They looked almost like a cross between Neanderthal and Peking man and they were ugly! They’d painted their bodies blue and had their teeth filed to sharp points, walking around in a half crouch.

They opened a pouch and took out some coals, put the coals on some kindling and started a fire, jabbering along in their own language and giving me meaningful glances all the while. Once the fire was going well they added more wood, until it was roaring something fierce and I could feel the heat from where I was.

Then my fear turned to horror, as they started cutting pieces off the dead Neanderthal, slipping the pieces onto sticks and roasting them over the fire. Once they were happy with the state of the meat they started eating it with great gusto, giving me meaningful glances all the while. I knew I would most likely die young; it comes with the profession, but this was the worst kind of death imaginable.

I was tied up so tightly I could hardly breathe, let alone move, so I really could think of no way of escape. They were obviously enjoying the meal and, within a short while, what had previously been a healthy, if nasty, Neanderthal, was a pile of bones and intestines. Everything else had been eaten, and I felt more than just fearful; I felt sick.

They settled down to sleep and didn’t even bother to post a guard on me: where was I going? They slept sprawled out, snoring and dead to the world, while I was fully alive and, for the first time in my life, wished I were not.

I stretched out my foot and tried to get the piece of obsidian but, even though I could get my toes around it, I could just not get a purchase. My toes were bleeding; obsidian is sharp, but I had to try and work it loose. Aah! It was coming loose, and they were snoring away like volcanoes.

I finally managed to work it loose and, holding it carefully between my toes, brought it up to my mouth. Holding it firmly between my teeth and ignoring the damage it was doing to my lips, I started cutting the lianas that bound me. Unless you’ve ever used obsidian, you have no idea how sharp it is: no sawing was required. The lianas parted as if they were spider webs.

Eventually, with them snoring away, I was loose, but too weak to do anything. I would have to sneak away and try come back with the gang. These vicious scum were going to the tar pits. The little caves were much too good for them.

I was no sooner out of sight than I heard a hideous scream, then another, and I knew exactly what it was. Two velociraptors, attracted by the smell of the blood had come upon them while they were sleeping. I watched from cover while the velociraptors tore at them and they screamed and tried to run away, but they had no chance.

My blood ran cold as I thought of what would have happened to me if I’d still been in the clearing. I slowly limped out of there and made my way to my cave. Blooey came running out when she saw me, concern etched all over her lovely features, then horror when I told her what had happened.

She tended to my wounds, then lay down on the bedrock with me, pulling the bearskins over us and I soon fell into a feverish sleep, being chased by velociraptors and those terrible creatures. When morning came, I got up and groaned, from the pain in my head and my side and the sheer horror of the night before.

I went to the stream and dunked my head, which made me feel slightly better. Then Blooey and I took a slow walk up to Crashamanka. As it loomed up ahead, I felt a sense of relief flooding through me. This was home!

I went into my alcove and chiselled out a short message for Pee Jin and, true to form, he just suddenly appeared. I told him what had happened and he sat in silence, taking it all in. He nodded when I’d finished. ‘I’ll go find out what I can about these creatures, then get back to you.’

Skram was playing Child in Millennia and the folks were having a high old time! Crashamanka was the place to be; no question. Later in the day I was relaxing in my alcove, drink in hand, when the zebra skins parted and Pee Jin was there.

‘So what did you find out?’ I asked. Pee Jin didn’t waste time on small talk.

‘A whole tribe of these creatures have moved in here from down south, and they’ve eaten more than just one of the folk. These guys are bad!’

‘Don’t remind me!’ I said, shuddering. ‘Any idea where we can find them?’

‘There’re a whole lot of them living in the caves at the back of that dead volcano. You know the ones nobody wants to live in?’

I nodded. Nobody wanted to live in those cave because every now and then the volcano woke up, but these creatures wouldn’t know about it. ‘Do we have enough gorillas and other folk to overpower them?’

He nodded. ‘I think so. What are you gonna do?’

‘Bring Fossey and the gang here: we need to do some planning.’

‘Okay, boss,’ he said and disappeared.

Later that day I went out with Pee Jin, after meeting Fossey and telling him to get the gang together. We found them quite easily and I could see a number of skeletons littering the mountainside. I turned to Pee Jin. ‘Olchap must never be allowed to find out about this,’ I whispered. He nodded in agreement and we made our way back to Crashamanka.

When we got there, the gang was all there, and I outlined the plan to them and they all nodded vehemently in agreement. This was worse than Kameleonise or any of the other bad guys we’d had around here. I had my double-barrelled club and the rest had heavy duty clubs, with a lot of sharpened flints and obsidian.

We made our way there silently, coming down on their caves from above. This was a direction they would not be expecting anything to come from. There were another three fresh skeletons, covered in ants and compies. The compies fled when they saw us, and stopped a short way off, waiting for us to leave.

The fierce creatures were anything but fierce now, snoring so loudly they might wake the volcano. We split up into groups and, at my signal, rushed the caves in silence. They never knew what hit them. They were not sleeping now! They were unconscious or dead, I didn’t care which, really.

We tied them up with lianas we’d brought along and dragged them to the tar pits. They started waking up and jabbering in their guttural language, obviously fearful for their lives, but we ignored their pleas.

When we got to the tar pits, I did something I’d never done before. We threw them in one by one, so they could see the horror that awaited them. They were pleading, but I could not understand them and, even if I could have, it would have made no difference. They were vicious and deserved only one punishment, and that punishment was not the little caves.

When we’d finally thrown them all in, we made our way back to Crashamanka in silence. It had been a sobering and awful experience, but it had had to be done. When we got to Crashamanka, I asked, ’Is anyone in the mood for a drink?’

‘I think we all need one,’ said Pee Jin.

I nodded and walked in. ‘Drinks on the cave!’ I shouted and there was a whooping as everyone got a free drink. We all sat down and had our drinks in silence, pondering over the night’s action.

‘Guys,’ I said. ‘You have no idea how much it means to me to have you guys watching my back. I think of you all as friends and can’t think of a finer bunch of fellers!’

They raised their coconut shells to me in silence and we toasted each other. Sometimes being a Pea Eye is a thankless job, where I do things that give me nightmares, but I wouldn’t change it for the world!

My name is Magnon: Cro Magnon, Pea Eye, and things were right in my world again, and I had helped to make them right.

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