The second wave on the buffet was well underway. Zta and Bleech were no where to be found. I couldn’t imagine where they were. The line for mammoth was just getting longer and longer. It almost seemed like an assault! It had been a while since I had served so I wasn’t as quick as Roon. Or Bleech even!
I was now picking up meat with both hands and plopping it down on any plate I saw. It was a swarm of furs, beards, plates and hair! Homo’s were getting impatient and now, no one was controlling the line! There was something happening in my chest. A small animal pounding it from the inside? Was I the first pregnant male and about to give birth? Through my chest!? I couldn’t take it so I dropped the meat down on the buffet and tried to organize them.
“Everyone will get more mammoth if you just stand in a line! Remember earlier? When you all stood in a line?”
Silence. I could hear the flicker of flames from the torches to the heating pits.
Then, aggressive grunting, hair pulling, Homo’s pushing each other and grabbing all the meat they could! There hadn’t been anything like this since a neighboring tribe accused us of walking on one of their flattened paths. They sent their flatteners to un flatten one of our paths and resulted in almost everyone from both tribes grunting and hurling balls of snow at each other. Que told me about it so it might not have been as dramatic as he made it out to be but I do remember a lot of frozen beards that day.
I looked over at Keen, who was just rolling his eyes and started putting out his fire under the broth. Someone started pounding on the buffet slab. I couldn’t see who through all the grabbing and pushing.
Zte! Where was my precious little Zte! I don’t know what came over me but I jumped up onto the buffet slab and right into the angry mob. I had to find her! I started pushing Homo’s furiously to get through but someone grabbed my hair! Then, my beard! Through all the chaos, I heard someone shouting a word.
Whomever was grabbing me, let go.
Fight!? All Homo’s were now heading out of the cave chanting “Fight! Fight! Fight!”
La, Lom’s wife, pointed at me and screamed, “Your fault!” Before storming out. Surely it wasn’t! I had to remind myself of that because I did have a tendency to blame myself for any feast related fiasco.
Joog and Keene helped dust me off and pull the meat out of my hair.
“Look at this cave!!” LOOK AT IT!” Joog was now kicking chunks of meat into piles. The table was in shambles.
Keen was putting out the last of his warming fire. “It’s just Lom and Pol. Lom apparently bumped into Wen on the way to the buffet disaster we’re going to have to spend all night cleaning now.”
He was right. There was meat everywhere. Even on the walls! No way we could leave it overnight!
“Why don’t we just invite those asshole Erectuses in! We’ll tell them the meat is raw but it’s covered with dirt. They’ll jump around like idiots and clear this place out in seconds!” Joog was being sarcastic but he may have come up with the perfect solution!
We heard shrieking coming from outside. I panicked when I realized I still didn’t know where Zte was.
I ran outside. I almost fell to the snow when I saw Zta, Zte and Bleech, watching the fight. Thank the branches! Thank the ice!!
Pol and Lom were circling each other, growling and occasionally lunging at each other. This was how all hunter fights started. They’d fight to the death.
I joined Zta, Zte and Bleech. “They all rushed the buffet. There’s meat everywhere. No one can go back in there.” I told Zta, making sure not to sound like I was in anyway blaming her for taking so long with the Erectuses.
“I’m sorry. The Erecti didn’t trust us. We had to get Roon.” Zta picked Zte up.
“No no! I’m not blaming you! It’s just there was no one to make a line!” I hoped that sounded convincing. I was about to say more but Zta shot an angry glare at me so I decided not to.
“Erecti?” A disembodied voice came from behind me. Bleech jumped back. It was the old woman with our boys. “I like it! Easier to say! And quicker! Multiple Homo Erectus. Erecti! Good job sweetheart!”
“Thanks mom.” Zta handed Zte to me as she reached for the twins. “Pol and Lom are at it again.”
The old woman groaned like she was about to die, finally, but then something completely unexpected happened.
She started pushing Homo’s aside and made a path right into the fighting circle!
Pol had grabbed onto Lom’s beard. Lom was trying desperately to loosen his grip by swatting at Pols hand. Pol held tight and swatted Lom back.
“No! YOU stop it!!”
Pol took his pocket spear from his fur tie.
He threw the spear into the snow, untied his tie, then stuffed it into Lom’s mouth! Some Homo’s couldn’t bear it and turned away.
Que threw up.
The old woman grabbed them both by their beards. “Boys! BOYS!!” She pulled them apart. They were still swatting at each other but they were to far away from each other to make contact.
“STOP THIS RIGHT NOW!!” The old woman yelled so loud that later on, some would claim a large stampede of mammoths were very close by.
Pol broke free from her grasp. “But he…”
“NNNNOOOOOO!!” This time her voice was not only loud but high pitched. There was complete silence.
“Lom! Say you’re sorry to you brother!!”
“But, he’s the one…”
“SAY YOU’RE SORRY!!!”
This time, even I had to cover my ears and I had one year old twins that would have screaming matches daily!
“Sorry…” Lom mumbled something into his beard after saying this.
“What was that!?” The old woman tightened her grip on Lom’s beard.
Pol snickered. The old woman turned her attention now to him.
“Sorry! I’m sorry too!”
“Good boys. Now hug!”
Pol held his arms out reluctantly.
The old woman was having none of this. “Lom! You’re the older brother! You’re 15! Act like it!”
Lom dragged his feet in the snow but he did hug Pol. It wasn’t long before they were crying in each other’s arms.
Everyone cheered for them, some cried themselves and depending on how into the berries they’d gotten, hugged each other as well.
It was the perfect ending to maybe the best feast of my life! Roon had survived his injury, everyone had quickly forgotten about my poorly designed face mud, Zta was there to witness our daughter growing up before our eyes and most of all, a hunter fight with no death! There had never been two hunters that were angry with each other and worked out their differences with words! Completely on their own! With no interference!!
As the hunters were working out their issues, Zta had arranged the drummers around the main fire pit to lure everyone there, and had sent Bleech to bring the Erecti to the banquet cave to eat all the meat that was on the floor and walls. Joog, Keene and I dragged the rest of the broth and berries to the village center where we all celebrated right up until the sun came up!