Authors: Kaye George
Death on the Trek
By Kaye George
Copyright 2016 by Kaye George
Cover Copyright 2016 by Untreed Reads Publishing
Cover Design by Ginny Glass
The author is hereby established as the sole holder of the copyright. Either the publisher (Untreed Reads) or author may enforce copyrights to the fullest extent.
This ebook is licensed for your personal enjoyment only. No part of this book may be reproduced in any form or by any electronic or mechanical means, including information storage and retrieval systems, without written permission from the publisher or author, except in the case of a reviewer, who may quote brief passages embodied in critical articles or in a review. If you would like to share this book with another person, please purchase an additional copy for each person you share it with. If you’re reading this book and did not purchase it, or it was not purchased for your use only, then please return to your ebook retailer and purchase your own copy. Thank you for respecting the hard work of this author.
This is a work of fiction. The characters, dialogue and events in this book are wholly fictional, and any resemblance to companies and actual persons, living or dead, is coincidental.
Also by Kaye George and Untreed Reads Publishing
A Fine Kettle of Fish
Death in the Time of Ice
The Bavarian Krisp Caper
“Henry, Gina, and the Gingerbreadhouse” in the Untreed Reads Anthology
“Immy Goes to the Dogs (An Imogene Duckworthy Mystery)”
in the Untreed Reads Anthology
The Untreed Detectives
During the Wisconsinian glaciation, as our story begins, ice sheets are advancing across the northern part of what is now the Midwest United States. These glaciers would alter the landscape dramatically and would remain until about ten or fifteen thousand years ago.
Cold winds blew across the surface, heralding the glaciers, killing the vegetation even before the ice reached it. When the edge of the ice arrived, it uprooted everything in its path. Most of the huge animals that existed on the continent until ten thousand years ago, when they all mysteriously disappeared, retreated before the approaching ice shelf. Although some wooly mammoth and other hardy animals remained on the tundra during the last Ice Age, many more, including the shorter-haired Columbian mammoth, roamed farther south.
Anyone dependent on the megafauna for survival would have had to follow them. As in
Death in the Time of Ice
, I have taken a few liberties in this tale.
There is no evidence that Neanderthals ever lived on the American continents, although it is quite probable Homo sapiens (called Tall Ones) were here at that time. I have added other interesting beings who existed in other parts of the world: Homo floresiensis from Java, called Mikino here, and Denisovans from Siberia, called Hoodens.
I have chosen among the many conflicting theories and opinions to suit my purposes and my story. The matriarchal Neanderthals about whom you are about to read throw spears to bring down game. They have speaking abilities, but limit its use, as a middle ground between speech theories. Their main communication is done with their own special kind of telepathy.
I hope you enjoy the Hamapa tribe adventures presented in these pages.
“The conquest of fire by man deservedly ranks among the most impressive of all race-memories, for perhaps no one natural agency has done so much to exalt the potency of the human race as has that which gives us heat and light and power.”
—Native American Mythology,
Hartley Burr Alexander, p. 46
Enga Dancing Flower watched the progress of the boy who was making his way down the hill from the Holy Cave. This was the last time he would bring the fire from the small mountain to the Paved Place for the nightly meeting in their long-time home—the last time he, or any of the tribe, would ever visit the Holy Cave. For many seasons, it had been the task of Akkal to tend both the permanent fire in the Holy Cave and the community fire in the village. When rain sometimes put out that fire, the black-haired Fire Tender diligently prepared the pit at the center of the meeting place and brought new fire down before the next meeting time.
The warm and cold times cycled, as they always did, and the most warm time was coming. The night breath of Mother Sky held only a trace of chill. The birds in the woods surrounding the village were making soft peeps while they bedded down so that they could rise up again with Sister Sun, completing that cycle, and sing at full voice.
The fire Akkal carried lit his face from below, its light throwing flickering shadows across his young features and glinting off his long dark hair and eyes. Smoke trailed after him.
The leader of the tribe, Hama, the Most High Female, had summoned them after they ate their evening meal, as usual. But this was far from the usual meeting. The meal had only been a few bites, and that was not usual either. Although it took place at the normal time, soon after Sister Sun disappeared, this meeting was different. The tribe knew that this was their last time of no sun in the place most of them had lived for all their days. Most of the huge mammoth they had always hunted had fled.
Moons ago, before this last dark season, a group of males had journeyed far enough to see the gigantic, looming field of Great Ice. It was moving, very slowly, but the movement was toward them. The animals the Hamapa tribe depended on, which were mostly mammoth, were scattering. Some had migrated toward the ice, onto the barren, frozen land that lay before it, in its path. The tribe could not live in that place. Some animals had fled to places with more warmth. That was where they would go. This decision had been made after much discussion and pondering. The decision had not been easy, but all were satisfied that it must be so. They must depart.
Every heart was heavy, every brow worried, even though they knew it was a necessary thing they would do. Everyone, males, females, children, had spent their time packing up what they would be able to carry with them. At new sun they would depart.
Enga felt the heavy sorrow. Even though each one cloaked every thought in the darkest colors of night, their grief was heavy enough to drip through. Enga looked up, almost expecting to see a black cloud of dark thoughts above the gathering. Mother Sky looked down on them with her many twinkling eyes. Brother Moon, almost at his fullest, seemed to smile and say he would be with them on their travels. The fire pit sent out a familiar warmth and the comforting smell of smoke, as it always did. These were not enough to lift the spirits of Enga.
Hama stood. Before she was elected leader, her name had been Rho Lion Hunter because she had killed a lion by herself. She was thick of body with dark, intelligent eyes. She sent out a public thought, bathed in brightest red so that everyone could receive it in their minds.
Singer will sing a Song of Asking for our long journey so that the Spirits will be kind as we travel.
Lakala Rippling Water, the Singer, started with a Song of Blessing to Mother Sky. Her voice, usually confident and fluid, wavered with fright. When she finished, she next sent a Song of Asking into the night air. She gained strength, tilting her head upward so that her trilling notes surely reached to Mother Sky and beyond, to her child, the Most High Spirit Dakadaga. The Singer asked for safety, strength, guidance, and success in finding a new home for the tribe.
When Lakala was finished, Hama stood once more and made one of her rare Official Pronouncements. The Hamapa saved oral speech for the most formal occasions. This was one such time.
“Hoody!” she exclaimed aloud, her dark eyes flashing from one to another of the tribe.
The tribe heard the word,
The word rose to Brother Moon, as the song of Lakala had.
“Yaya, Hama vav.” She shook her head and raised her face, her gleaming curls bouncing in the flickering flames.
Yes, the Most High Female speaks.
“Dakadaga sasa vav Akkal.”
Dakadaga has given the name for Akkal.
A rippling of surprised thought went through them. At the Naming Ceremony, twenty moons after birth, all tribe members received a short name. The descriptive adult name, however, was given much later by Dakadaga through the Hama. Usually a Hamapa male had his Passage Ceremony after fifteen summers. This was where young males and females received their complete names. Enga had been given the name Enga Dancing Flower, and her birth-sister Ung had been called Ung Strong Arm.
Enga knew that Akkal had passed only fourteen summers. But if Dakadaga, the Most High Spirit, had decreed a name, it would be so. Was the Spirit worried that Akkal would not make it through the coming journey to next summer? This, then, was the reason Akkal sat nearest Hama.
Then Hama spoke the official name of Akkal. “Burmana.”
It was fitting that Akkal would now be Akkal Firetender. He had started doing the job at a very young age, when the Firetender before him was not careful enough and was eaten by the flames.
A bigger shock came when Hama continued. “Dakadaga sas vav Mootak.”
Dakadaga has given the name for Mootak.
Enga could smell the fear now. Akkal lacked only one summer, but Mootak lacked two. He was being named two summers early! Did Dakadaga know the tribe would fail to complete their trek? Would they not find the mammoth? Would they starve, like the Gata tribe had done?
Mootak was apprenticed to the Storyteller. Enga has listened in on many of their sessions. Panan One Eye, the oldest member of the tribe at fifty summers, carried the lore of all the Storytellers before him, going back to the Time of Crossing, and even back to the last Time of Great Ice.
All stared at Hama, trying to gain a clue about what else Dakadaga had told her.
Enga nodded and saw that her birth-sister, Ung Strong Arm, nodded also. It fit him. He was small, like his birth-mother, Ongu Small One, and he had straight black hair, like his seed giver, Sannum Straight Hair. Sannum had been one of the favorites of Enga ever since the Hamapa tribe had taken in her and Ung. It was a good name. Sannum had a big heart and so did Mootak.
The eyes of the two young ones, still boys, but now made adults early, shone with joy and pride. It was not done for a Hamapa to think of himself before the tribe, but everyone would understand this brief moment of vanity. Enga added her warm thoughts to all of those already being directed at Akkal Firetender and Mootak Big Heart.
Lakala Rippling Water stood and sang Death to Childhood while the tribe listened in silence.
It was done. The tribe had two new adult males.
Now was the time for the Saga. Panan One Eye looked at Hama, for his signal to begin. The firelight played off his round, bare head, making it look as shiny as Brother Moon.
Hama did not look at Panan. She nodded at Mootak.
Mootak Big Heart stood, beaming. What a special night he was having! He had received his name—two summers early—and he would give the Saga for the first time.
“Horses became extinct in the Old World at the end of early Eocene time, about 50 million years ago, but horse evolution continued in the New World. Subsequent species moved back and forth between North America and Asia…”
—Ice Age Mammals of North America: A Guide to the Big, the Hairy, and the Bizarre,
Ian M. Lange, p.122
Mootak Big Heart began to relate the Saga of the Little Horses. Enga sent a short pinkish thought-burst of approval straight to him. It was a most appropriate tale for this time. His thought-speak reached every mind and went deep into every heart as he sent forth the familiar tale. It was given perfectly, exactly as Panan One Eye always gave it.