40,000 years ago
Somewhere in what is now called Europe
I rose shortly before the sun today to prepare for the hunt. It was very cool last night, still a little wintery, so I had to push several furs off to get up. Quietly, so as not to wake the rest of the tribe,
I pulled my fur raiments over my head, slipped into my tanned hide and fur foot coverings, and slipped out of the cave into the still morning air. It’s still too chilly to wear the woven material the women have been sewing garments from, even though the woven material is more comfortable and smells better.
My brother waits for me by a small fire. He has brought water from the stream to drink and there is dried meat and freshly caught fish for breakfast. I am famished, and eat quickly. My brother tells me
he has seen the large, fluffy creature again – a “bear”, he calls it. We have seen this creature attack the Horned Ones and eat them.
He is very frightening, this “bear”, so we must be extra vigilant. This creature may also hunt our own young. I do not know, I’ve only recently seen it about. He seems to fear the fire, I will remind my
wife to keep it burning. Perhaps we will eventually capture one of these ourselves – his fur appears thick and warm, and he is very large. He would yield enough meat for the entire tribe!
My brother has been up for quite some time, creating our spear heads from stone. He is adept at chipping bits of stone away with a larger stone to create sharp edges – he has made about a dozen new spearheads for us just this morning! I help him fasten these to sturdy shafts with lengths of sinew, then follow him into the woods as the sun rises. It is our task today to hunt a Horned One to feed the tribe.
We conceal ourselves silently in the brush, waiting for one of the many Horned Ones that live in the woods to come past. They are interesting creatures – nimble and graceful, a rich brown color, with
large, liquid eyes. The younglings have white spots on their backs that seem to vanish as they grow older. They are plentiful and keep our tribe well fed and warmly clothed. Presently, my brother spots a
large male ambling calmly along. He seems to be headed for the stream, so we follow silently, and dash ahead quickly and quietly as we are able.
My brother and I take up positions on either side of the animal,darting quietly forward, and we both strike at the same time. Success! The animal is quickly felled, and my brother and I each grasp a pair of legs and begin to drag him home. He is very heavy and the work is tiring, but we have a responsibility to the tribe to bring meat, so we continue in spite of our weariness and ease our growing
hunger with berries and leaves along the way.
When we return to the tribe just before dusk, the women are out with the children. Some are weaving plants into baskets to hold berries, nuts, and tools. Others are working with sharpened stones to carve shells and bits of tusk for adornments. An elder is seated near the fire, carefully grinding herbs for medicines – some in the tribe occasionally fall ill, and the elders have found plants that help ease
their discomfort. They spend a considerable amount of time searching for these plants, and have found that they work just as well when dried, which means we will have medicine during the winter months as well.
The children run in happy circles, their mothers ever mindful of them, and raise a great cry when they see us approach. They rush to us, all wanting to inspect our catch, all wanting to touch the fur. A small one cries out that the Horned One is still warm and jumps back in startlement.
It falls to us to skin and clean the Horned One. We attack the task quickly, removing the entrails and handing the hide off to the women to be cleaned and tanned. It will serve us well for sleeping furs or
raiments – which will depend on what we are in need of.
Other women come to take portions of the meat away to prepare for drying. Although the Horned Ones do not leave or hide in the winter months, they are less easy to hunt. We have no cover in those months, and often depend on the stores of dried food we have built up to survive the harsh winter. A little of each kill is set aside for this.
There is still much meat left, and my brother and I cut it into portions for cooking. The heads of each family within the tribe come for their share, and head off to begin preparing the evening meal. Each will roast his share of meat, and we will gather together to eat. The young ones cry out to hear the tale of the hunt, and my brother obliges them, regaling them in great detail with the story of our day’s task. The little ones are wide eyed and fascinated – I must interrupt my brother several times as he tries to insert a “bear” sighting into the story. We didn’t see a bear on the hunt!
He motions for me to be silent, and winks at the young ones who are watching him. He’s quite a story teller! I am not given to such antics, however. I prefer to draw. I retire to the cave, where many
of our tribe have already slipped into their sleeping furs – they are the ones charged with the hunt tomorrow, so they are sleeping early. Along one side, I have a small cache of stones and minerals, a few pigments. I take these to the Secret Place, well to the back of the cave, and through a treacherous tunnel. On a wall, I carefully sketch out the details of our hunt with my fingers, showing my brother and me with our spears at the moment we fell upon the Horned One. The Horned One is somewhat difficult to draw, but I am satisfied with my work and color him in.
It is late and I am tired. More and more of the tribe come into the cave to sleep. My wife and children have already nestled into their furs, spent from the day’s chores. I clean my hands on my garments,
creep back through the tunnel, and crawl under my sleeping furs. It has been a very good day, and I look forward to my rest.