And Dream of Earth
The Bison had been careless. It had wandered away from the rest of the herd and the predators had found it. Nature, especially during the twilight of the Ice Age, had little patience with carelessness. Although the predators were much smaller than the shaggy giant, they were prone to hunt in packs. This gave them a distinct advantage over creatures that would have otherwise easily eluded them. The smaller animals advanced slowly, brandishing sticks tipped with fire. The Bison had learned to fear fire. When the sky flashed and fire took to the plains, no creature was safe, not even the massive Mammoth. The Bison retreated before the advancing flames. The predators, cruel in their determination, advanced still further. Again, the Bison retreated. It was so intent on avoiding the bite of the fire wielded by the hairless creatures before him, that it failed to notice the precipice approaching to the rear. Another mistake.
The end was inevitable. Pushed to the edge of the precipice, the giant lost its footing and fell, to the icy rocks far below. The hairless predators, impatient for the end, were on it even before it drew its’ final breath. They set upon it wielding sharpened stones that , for all their crudeness, efficiently sheared through hair and flesh separating it from the heavy bones of the carcass. Carrying as much of the precious mean as their delicate frames would allow, the creatures who would some day be known as “Man” retreated toward their rocky lair.
Inside the caverns, the tribal social order asserted itself immediately. The adult females took possession of the kill and began to prepare it for the others. Here, their mastery of fire set them apart from other creatures of the era. None of others had learned to bend the will of fire to their own purpose. One of the smaller creatures, an immature female, approached the adults cautiously, expecting the usual disciplinary slap as she neared the circle of light. But instead of rejection, this time she found acceptance. One of the older females reached out to stroke her upper arm, encouraging her to approach the firelight. As she did so, the adult female picked up a large chunk of meat and a sharpened stone. She applied the stone to the meat slowly, carefully excising the tendons while the young female observed her actions. After several slabs of flesh had been prepared, she extended the stone to the immature female. The younger female took the stone gingerly, then sat and began to apply it the remaining meat as she had been shown. The adult female placed her hand on the young one’s shoulder and sat at her side, nodding in satisfaction. Another pair of capable hands meant a greater chance for the tribe’s survival. The knowledge had been passed to another generation?.all was as it should be.
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