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Memoirs of an Ice Man

by ChrisCharlton 

Posted: 22 August 2003
Word Count: 1552
Summary: This is the beginning of a new story I'm working on - I'd be interested in any feedback - especially, does it seem to be an interesting idea? Not to 'deep' (Krall is not actually terribly happy to be brought back, and see's much wrong with our world - I am intending it as a lightweight critique of social/ecological/family/prejedice issues, as seen from an outsider)? Also - what would be an appropriate age range... that has me flumoxed at present.


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Prolog.

My name is Krall. I am a caveman; an ignorant savage. I communicate with grunts and chew my meat raw. Birds could nest in my hair and I am too stupid to use a toaster. And I smell.

Since I was brought back from the dead six years or so ago, these are the misconceptions I have had to deal with - and more. This is the prejudice I have suffered. Did I ask to enter your society? No. Did I have any choice in the matter? No.

I am writing the story of my life now, because of ignorance. Not mine - yours! Over the last six years I have learnt your language. I have learnt to read and write. I cut my hair and I have even had a bath. I still look at aeroplanes with amazed wonder, and I love watching Star Trek on your televisions.

But I am still judged a primitive. People talk slowly to me, as if I might have difficulty understanding them. They step carefully around me in case I might get violent. They ask me how grateful I must be to be living here, and how hard it must have been living all that time ago.

I am writing this story because I am sick of the condescension and the pity. I am sick of the ignorance. This is my reply; my story. Consider it an education

I am Krall. I am the man who lived twice. Eight years ago, I was discovered in the Siberian permafrost by Dr John Jabobs, one of the geologists on the Edmund expedition. The Edmund expedition was a privately funded British scientific expedition to Siberia in search of frozen woolly mammoth. They were looking for intact DNA with which they were intended to try to re-create a live mammoth. Very Jurassic Park. They came back with me, which was more than they had bargained for.

I was discovered by Jacobs as he was preparing some ground by a deep frozen lake. He was intending to sink a drill in order to take ice cores when something caught his eye below the surface of the ice. It was me.

I'll tell you later how I came to be there, but it is a matter of record now, and fairly well known what happened next. In a rare moment of fate, the right mix of scientific no-how just happened to be on hand to prevent my body being destroyed. Just digging me up and allowing me to decompose would have been sufficient to make my sleep permanent. As it was, looking for mammoth, they had come prepared.

You might well have read how I was carefully dug up, still encased in ice, and smuggled back to the UK. That got the expedition into some trouble - they had negotiated export licenses for bones and mammoth skeleton - not for deep frozen boy. But by the time the story broke it was too late for the Russians; I was in a lab in England.

Then came the expeditions next shock - my condition. I was perfectly preserved. You sometimes hear of plants and animals being perfectly preserved, but usually this isnít actually correct. It might look in good condition, but generally there is anything from cell damage, mould and bacteria damage as well as the problems of dehydration and mummification. What this means is that even though the organism might look good, actually there is a lot of hidden, deep down damage and decay.

This was not true in my case. Due to a bizarre series of coincidences - extreme cold, the odd chemical soup I'd fallen into, and the fact that I had not been disturbed, my body was in the same state it was in as the day I died. Apparently the initial chemical balance killed off all the bugs that could get at me, and the salt balance stopped my body dehydrating. In effect, I was pickled like a gherkin and then deep frozen.

It was my excellent condition that gave Dr Philips the bizarre idea of trying to revive me. Initially it was just to thaw me out. All the better to poke and prod me. But as she cleared me of chemicals and gradually warmed me up, she had the idea of trying to start my heart, apparently just to see what would happen. Good science, crap morality. Amazingly it worked, though it must be said she didnít expect my brain to kick-start as well.

She has since sold her story to the press and I'm not going to comment here on why she did what she did. It's really not all that important to me now. I've simply got to accept it. Suffice to say it lead, five and a half years ago, to me waking up in extraordinary pain, in a harsh white laboratory just outside of Milton Keynes.
And that lead to their last problem; what to do with me. Until then I was a thing; their exhibit; their property. Suddenly, however, I had developed a mind of my own and therefore rights. I was a human being and no longer simply an experiment.

I suppose I did get an element of revenge - they did lose an extraordinarily valuable tourist attraction!

But here, I'm getting ahead of myself. This is my story. My attempt at setting the record straight. To head off all those tedious people with their tedious question - always the same - 'What was it like to be a cave man?' Well, read my story and then you'll know.


Chapter 1 - My first memories.

I've no idea where or when I was born. I know it was somewhere in central Europe. That's not what the scientists say who found me - they have me as being Russian - but back in the so-called stone age, we knew more about the shape of the world than you might suppose. It was central Europe, probably somewhere a little north of Switzerland - so my family always led me to believe, anyway.

As to when, the scientists tell me between 22,000 and 24,500 years ago and I can't disagree. Since then, the Ice has come and gone. Of the land I knew; of my people, our settlements, artefacts and lands, nothing now remain. A couple of miles of solid ice is pretty good for scouring old canvas, ready for a fresh start

So my past is gone, but I do have my memories. And the earliest ones are happy ones.

My earliest memories are of being carried around by members of my family as we travelled the land. I think first I should describe my family. It was quite large - you might consider it a tribe, but actually we were all part of one extended family, we saw no difference in the idea - and we were wanderers.

In those days there was a very relaxed social order Ė not like today, and family was very important to us. Some families were farmers and tended not to travel around. They stayed with their herds or crops and even grouped together into small villages. Some families became artisans. They stayed on one place and became expert in the making of beautiful things - our tools and utensils, jewellery and other things. Others moved around, living by trade. They were the lifeblood of the land, supporting the more static families and spreading news and culture. My family were of this latter sort. We moved from place to place as the whim took us; exchanging salt, news, tools, jewellery and people wherever we felt the need.

Yes - we also traded people. Sometimes, one of us wanted to settle. Perhaps they were old, or injured or tired, or perhaps they'd met a woman or a man and wanted to marry. But a settlement would not take on the burden of an injured man without recompense. Likewise, a settlement could really use a good strong back. It was all very pragmatic, all very sensible and good-natured. We looked out for each other in those days. That's what a family was - a group of people who looked out for one another.

As I say, we were wanderers. We had been as far west as the great sea, and as far east as the great plains - steppes as you would say. We went north in the summer, and naturally came south when the snow came. Sometimes we would pause in a settlement for months at a time, but always, when the weather improved or the food or our welcome looked as if it was running out we would be off.

It was a good life. Game was plentiful, and forage, in season, was varied and rich. We lived well and had no words for war or slavery.

I donít want to give the wrong impression here. Rabbit didn't climb into the pot, it still had to be caught, and there was there ever present threat of injury, wild animals and disease. But we were a sophisticated people. We were good at hunting, farming and protecting ourselves. If you survived to your teens - and many did not - then there was a good chance of you living to a very healthy old age.






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Comments by other Members



Naomi at 18:12 on 24 August 2003  Report this post
This whole piece reads more like a non-fiction piece through the eyes of a participant than a 'story' as such. This is not a problem if it is intended for an educational market. However, I must admit that some of the ideas and concerns of our caveman sound rather modern and I wasn't completely convinced that they were his, rather than yours, the author.Also some of the language felt over academic and sociological and that the same ideas could possibly be expressed in a lighter, more child-centred way. There was also a TV show on last year about a boy who discovered a reincarnated caveman near his home - sorry I can't remember its name, but if you are not already familiar with it (and the book it's based on) it might be worth checking it out.

ChrisCharlton at 12:21 on 26 August 2003  Report this post
Hi Naomi, you are sort of right that this is intended as a 'biography', and hence sort of factual - but not an educational piece. Yes, the language would be modern, this lad has now been integrated into 'modern' soociety, and is hence meant as a critique of modern against anchient societies. You suggest that perhaps I am being too dry in my presentation, which I would perhaps agree with.

It is definately aimed more at young adults than children, and is definately intended to be fiction. It is also meant to be quite 'angry'. I guess I haven't managed to bring this across.

I hadn't come across the piece you mention - thanks for that, I'll look it up.

Chris

Anj at 18:53 on 26 August 2003  Report this post
Chris,

Maybe Naomi is referring to Stig of the Dump, which was televised last year (or the year before?) ...

If it was, Stig certainly wasn't this angry ... I felt there was a great deal of venom in here ... possibly too much: I felt almost attacked by phrases such as "because of ignorance ... Not mine - yours!" Of course, it's not a bad thing to cause the reader to reflect on it's own lazy thinking ... but doing it quite so harshly risks alienating them before they can get around to it ...

I thought you really brought the era to life, you seemed very well-versed in it - having done a little research on the period for the Ice People I know enough to know that you know far more - and that it's pretty accurate!

There was though too much information about the preservation or not of the body ...

I have to agree with Naomi though that it seemed more of an educational than a fiction story ... but as an edu-story I think it works ... why not try to make it more child-friendly and market it that way? You managed to bring him to life in a way that was anything but dry and dull ...

Regards
Andrea

<Added>

The only problem I would have though in presenting it as an edu-story (for which I didn't think it was too dry, although perhaps it was for fiction) is the acquisition of language ... if I remember my psychology right, there comes a stage in childhood where if the facility to acquire language isn't made use of, it all but ceases to function and can't be regained ... if Krall was a Cro-Magnon it wouldn't be such a problem, as their language was more sophisticated than Neanderthals' so he'd already have begun with some ... but I still doubt whether he would ever acquire language in quite such a sophisticated way, regardless of how much input he received in a modern society ... perhaps you'd need to find a way around that? I wouldn't bother mentioning it except that I've said maybe you should market it as an edu-story, in which case accuracy counts ...

Regards
Professor Webb Reilly

Terry Edge at 14:00 on 04 September 2003  Report this post
Chris

I felt the first part of this was a big improvement in your writing style. It's definite, funny and to the point. Much less waffle! I found myself hoping this was going to be a good fun story about a caveman with down to earth views clashing with us modern liberal wishy-washy types.

You seem to be gradually working towards the style that will most fit your ideas and characters. I really believe you'll find it and when you do, your stories will soar.

However, as others have pointed out, it becomes too educational in tone after the start. I think you need to decide (as you say in your introduction) who this is aimed at, then let that dictate your approach. If it's younger teenagers, then you need to have much more action (funny, preferably) and much less exposition. You need to have him interacting with some modern day people, and his story evolving from that.

As Naomi says, this has been done before. I think there was an American teen comedy film around the same idea recently. So, you will need to find your own angle if you're going to do it too.

Actually, I've just re-read the first few paras and can see that you are probably not making him funny at all. If that's the case, I think the opening para is too sarcastic. I took it at face value and thought it was funny.

There are a few loose words to clear up, e.g. 'no-how' should be 'know-how' and somewhere you say 'lead' instead of 'led'.

Regards,



Terry

old friend at 17:32 on 11 September 2003  Report this post
Hello Chris,

Wise words have been written above about your writing style. I can only add that, for me, I found it difficult to 'see' your central character and even to understand his personality. I wasn't quite sure if he were dressed in a loincloth or in a Saville Row suit.

You pen has a nice, easy flow and I am sure it can be used on a subject or theme that is more original.

I can understand your aim to comment on the ills of this World and I am sure you feel passionate about some specific issues. Think about those... concentrate on those... and you will soon develop new and original ideas as to HOW your comments may be expressed through your writing.

old friend, Len


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