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Memoirs of an Ice Man - Version2

by ChrisCharlton 

Posted: 05 September 2003
Word Count: 2373
Summary: This is a rehash of the first version. It is very definatly meant to be a story (rather than piece of education - though if someone leans from it, fine), and it is told from the point of view of an angry young man. Most particularly, I am interested in comments on style, readability and interest, but all observations gratefully accepted. Oh - and while there might be humerous bits, it's NOT meant to be funny!


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

Idiots.

Since I was brought back from the dead six years ago, these are the misconceptions I have had to deal with - and more. These are the prejudices from which 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 just love watching Star Trek on your televisions.
But I am still judged a primitive. When I am introduced, people will talk slowly to me, as if I might have difficulty understanding them. They will 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 long 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 have 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 perhaps a little 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.

It's all a matter of record now how I came to be so well preserved, what happened next, and how I was revived by Dr Philips. I'll talk more on that later.


Philips 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. What is done is done and I've simply got to accept it. Suffice to say he actions 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 gave them a problem; what to do with me. Until then I was a thing; their exhibit; their property; cynically, their meal ticket. Suddenly, however, I had developed a mind of my own and therefore rights. I was a human being again 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: an attempt at setting the record straight about my past. An attempt to head off all those tedious people with their tedious questions - always the same - 'What was it like to be a cave man?' Well, read my story and then you'll know.

'Is it better living now?' is the other question I am always asked. Read on to understand that answer too. But be warned - that answer may not be what you might expect!


Chapter 1 - My family and early 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 say - they have me down as being Russian. But back in the Palaeolithic - the so-called old 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 60,000 and 64,000 years ago and I can't disagree. They say it was probably towards the end of the last interglacial warm period. Since then, the Great Ice has come and gone. Of the countryside I knew; of my people, our settlements, artefacts and lands, nothing now remains. A couple of miles of solid ice is pretty good for scouring an 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. You see - my family were wanderers. I always remember our Delooa, our family father's words when I asked him why. Roughly translated he said, "When you are born, you are like a piece of grass caught in a stream. As a human, you have a choice as to whether you are caught up in a backwater to silt up over time, or whether you are swept, past new vistas, down to the sea. The journey can be long, and not without adventures, bit I think it is worth it." Looking back at my time, I do too.

But first, I think I should describe my family. It was quite large - you might consider it a small tribe, but actually we were all part of one extended family. There was usually around sixty or seventy of us, but that changed over time as some chose to settle and others joined us on the long road.

It had a very relaxed social order, compared to today. It is important you realise how important family was to us then. Today's views of tribe are not at all the same thing. We had no strict tribal leader or hierarchy. No absolute rule or ruling caste, and certainly no armies or warriors to enforce those rules even if we had. Just as in a family, the older, more experienced members tended to be deferred to - but that was only because they tended to be right more often. Interestingly, unlike today, deference was likely towards a woman as much as it was towards a man. This extended in that there was also no distinction between men and women in tasks. Men tended to hunt because they were better at it - bigger, stronger, faster - but not just because they were men. Women did hunt on occasion, just as men did cook, weave and do other things that were more normally the work of women.

It grieves me to see how pragmatism then, has been perpetuated down the ages as sexism now.

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. As I said, 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.

My earliest memories are of long journeys, changing countryside, and playing with new friends. As a toddler, I didnít understand the whys or the wherefores. Where we went and when we stopped were mysteries to me which I wasn't interested in solving. I was content to enjoy the play of new sensations - sights, sounds, people and places - and let them just wash over me. I was an empty vessel, allowing myself to be filled.

The travelling itself was rarely arduous. A family of sixty or seventy moves at the pace of the slowest, and for us, the purpose of the travelling was the journey, not the destination. This is a somewhat different outlook to most people's today, and in those days, it meant we rarely rushed. What would be the point?

Even then we were a strange troupe. Forty or fifty adults, twenty or more children and a strange assortment of animals. This was a time before real domestication, but we did use animals where it was possible to do so. These comprised mainly of mangy dogs - often nearly as dangerous to us as to the predators we used them to warn and defend us from - and large, semi-wild goats. These were used as pack animals when we travelled, and for food and milk as necessary. Yes - pack animals. It is a strange sight to see a heavily laden goat being lead by a small boy with two or three kids in tow. And they were semi-wild. While they might be related to the insipid sheep of today, it was a courageous dog which stood up to the sharp, spiral horns of an angry billy goat!

In my early days I remembered being carried. This was a wonder to me - I up so high, generally in a kind of papoose on someone's back so my carrier's hands would remain free. A three year old can see so much more of the world from up there, as opposed to running around people's ankles. My memories then were of an almost continual sense of wonder. Smells seemed so much richer then - the smell of pine resin as we entered a wood; the scent of deer at rut; the smell of the sea. The quality of light was so much richer too. The effect of morning light, reflected onto rock walls probably somewhere in the Pyrenees stays with me. I remember asking Delooa if it was magic - the work of a spirit. He laughed. "Everything you see is the work of a spirit," he replied. "They are capricious, but sometimes offer us these gifts. Enjoy them for what they are, when you can." I remember throwing small pebbles into the pool, and seeing how the ripples changed the reflected patterns of light. I was probably only around four or five years old, but it remains a magical memory.

When travelling, we stopped every night and we always made some kind of camp. This varied with the weather and the season, from a simple fire pit surrounded by loose firs and bedding in summer months, to more elaborate shelters in the winter. From a very early age I was given small tasks to do. When I was really young, I think these jobs were designed to keep me occupied and out of the way, but as soon as I could contribute, I began to do so. My tasks ranged from setting out bedding and utensils in my younger days, to managing the animals as I gradually grew older. Setting and breaking camp were probably the busiest parts of our day - especially if it rained. If any of you have tried camping in the rain, you will know what I mean. Add to that the unpleasantness of smelly firs if it had been raining for some time, and you might get a better idea of how unpleasant it could be. Making camp was probably the closest you would see my family to rushing - especially if there was rain in the air!

Whenever it looked like the rain had set in, we tended to stay put and try to make the best of things. When that happened, naturally over a few days our camps became more pleasant and watertight. Bark, grass or reeds as available added to our shelter made a huge difference. More permanent fires warmed things through and over a couple of days, snug replaced soaked. The only struggle then was between myself and my mother, and her attempts to keep an almost perpetually muddy boy out of the firs.

Once camp was established and a fire set, there was some time for us children to play and get under feet as the grown-ups and older children prepared the evening meal. Depending on where we were, people would leave the camp to hunt for local delicacies. This could be foraging for fruits and nuts in season, or perhaps setting snares for rabbits. This was all very seasonal and dependent on the local terrain. Proper hunting was a much more involved task - I'll talk about that later.

A particular favourite game we played was sticks and stones. One white stone was used as a target. Then one side built a barricade or wall with sticks to prevent another side from throwing their pebbles close to the target stone. When that side had thrown their pebbles, it was their turn to build a barricade to try to prevent the first team getting their stones close to the target rock. There were all sorts of variations of teams and rules, and you ended up being very inventive in order to win. You also ended up being a very good shot with a stone. By the time I was ten I could bring down a pigeon from a tree - well, sometimes anyway!

I remember those younger days as being a time of leisure, a time of play. I remember being protected and being part of a large family. Anyone would help you or look after you - not just your mother and father, brothers and sisters. To a child, it seemed a wonderfully safe and happy world. Food was rarely scarce, and then never for long, and life was one never-ending series new vistas and experiences. Of course, it wasn't really like that, and as I grew older, the continual struggles to live and survive became more apparent. But I enjoyed my early childhood. For me, it was a time of innocence which now I miss.






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Comments by other Members



Anj at 13:45 on 05 September 2003  Report this post
Chris,

This reads more like a story now, but not enough - there's lots of good stuff in there and your style is more conversational, more immediate than on TG but it still reads like a recital of facts - for it to become more of a story you need to take the facts and turn them into scenes, dialogue etc - eg "A particular favourite game we played was sticks and stones ..." - "I remember playing sticks and stones with Polk - a farmer's son that I loved to visit when we passed by each year - and that was my favourite. He always managed to knock my barricade flying with his stones and get his red pebble closest to the white target. But I put in so much practice to beat him next time we met that I could bring down a pigeon from a tree by the time I was 10 (well, sometimes anyway!)"

Okay, it's rough but I hope it illustrates what I'm saying.

All of which isn't to say I don't like it - I really like Krall (although I still find him a bit rude - I don't know that I'd read something by someone who began by calling me an idiot) and love the idea behind this story. I just think you need to weave more of a tale with what you've got ...

Regards
Andrea

Barney at 17:38 on 16 September 2003  Report this post
I like the intro - a really cynical 'Frankenstein's monster' for our times! I feel this could be a much larger piece, with a plot woven into the points of information.. maybe something about the coming of the ice. Maybe he knows something that our scientists and historians don't? The story could reveal it. An original concept that I think you should try and expand. --Barney


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