Authors: Joe R. Lansdale
|The Ape Man's Brother|
|Joe R. Lansdale|
|SUBTERRANEAN Press (2012)|
|Címkék:||Fiction, Science Fiction, Action & Adventure, Alternative History, Lost World, alternate history, zeppelins, Adventure|
Orphaned by a plane crash, raised in the wilds of a lost world hidden somewhere beneath a constant mist, The Big Guy and his ape-man brother from another mother are living a life of danger amongst rampaging dinosaurs, giant birds, warring ape tribes, and all manner of deadly beasts. It’s a wonderful existence for someone like The Big Guy and his furry brother, except for the flea problem. Then an expedition of explorers from the outside turn his world inside out. Or rather a very blonde beauty called The Woman does. It leads to his and his ape brother being convinced to fly to New York by zeppelin, where they become the toast of the town. They even make Hollywood movies. It seems perfect. At least until The Big Guy does something that comes quite naturally to him in the wild, but leads to public humiliation in this new found world. To make matters worse, his ape brother has grown to not only love the pampered life, meals he doesn’t have to chase down, good cigars, fine wines and statuesque women, he’s come to like the Wrong Woman.
Changes are afoot. They lead to a return to the world beneath the mist, and a deadly and unexpected encounter with a foe that is in many ways far worse than any dinosaur. Envy, jealousy, greed, fleas, and pyramids under the mist, are all part of this rollicking novella of the sort only Joe R. Lansdale could write. And don’t forget dinosaurs.
Joe R. Lansdale
[Subterranean Press 2013]
The Ape Man’s Brother
Copyright © 2013
by Joe R. Lansdale. All rights reserved.
Cover illustration Copyright © 2013 by Ken Laager.
All rights reserved.
Print interior design Copyright © 2013
by Desert Isle Design, LLC
All rights reserved.
PO Box 190106
Burton, MI 48519
For Rick Klaw,
am not a chimpanzee. I am not an ape. The guy who played me in the movie was an ape.
It’s true. I did love that woman, that beautiful, blonde woman, and it was not a platonic love. It was much more than that. And in line with that, here’s something I want to correct.
Because I’m not a chimpanzee, and am more accurately somewhere closer to an Australopithecus with a larger brain—which, of course makes me neither ape nor modern man, nor actually Australopithecus, but a humanoid off-shoot—what happened between the lady and myself was not technically bestiality, no matter what the tabloids say. But there was a crime. It was the breaking of the bond of brotherhood, and I regret it from the bottom of my heart.
Now the true events can be told, because other than myself, everyone involved with the sordid affair is now dead or missing, except that goddamn chimpanzee. He’s got the constitution of a redwood tree. Then again it’s not his fault. He was an actor. He was never actually involved, but the way he’s treated, living in a retirement home for animals of the cinema, photos and articles popping up about him on his birthday every year, his fuzzy face covered in birthday cake, you’d think he’d at least have been President for a term.
Me, I was the real thing, and my raggedy ass has been left to its own devices. So, I thank you for coming to me to get the real story, and I will tell it true without dropping a stitch on the real lowdown.
t begins with The Big Guy.
The Big Guy, truth to tell, had few friends. There were some humans he liked, and many he tolerated. A few he killed. His true friends were that lovely woman, and me, who they came to call by a fictional name because of all those stupid movies. I’ll not even repeat that name here. The whole thing makes me angry. The way I’m presented in the films, doing all those little tricks and throwing my feces—they didn’t show that in the movie, and it never directly appeared in the books, but it’s commonly known chimpanzees haven’t any pause about filling their hands with their own mess and throwing it. Well, yes. I did it too. But that was when I was uncivilized. I have learned how to act, so that no longer applies to me.
I guess there’s a little jealously there, that damn ape stealing my thunder. But let me get back to what I was saying, and let me start with how I came to know The Big Guy. Forgive me if I trail off from time to time. I’m healthy, and all my external equipment still works, but my mind, though good, has many alleys, some of them blind, so I apologize in advance. Now, having come to a dead end in this alley, I’m turning about and coming back, looking for the light.
Let me start by saying I was there when the plane went down. Some accounts say it was a great sailing ship and that it crashed on a faraway shore, or that it was taken over by pirates, or that the child and his family were set adrift in a small boat.
All of these versions are false. These storytellers, these experts, also place events farther back in time as to when they really happened. This is partly so the Big Guy, as I call him, can be seen as ancient as Methuselah, but with muscles; a hero of folklore, not reality.
But, it wasn’t a boat, and it wasn’t a ship, and there were no pirates. It was a plane crash. We had never seen a plane, me and my tribe, and we had no idea that it had flown in from Greenland.
It looked like a great dragonfly falling out of the sky, buzzing and coughing and churning smoke, soon to explode. I know now, these many years later, that it was a small plane and it carried a husband and wife and baby. The parents were archeologists, scouting what they believed to be abandoned ancient ruins in the jungle of a lost, walled-in world.
They were right and they were wrong. The ruins were not abandoned. They were our home and had been the home of our ancestors for many years. Some of our culture had been lost, and the jungle had crept around the stones and swallowed them up and mossed them green. Our great scroll books had turned to dust. Our history was by then nothing but rocks, some scratches in the dirt, some huts, fuzzy memories passed on carelessly from the old to the young. Bottom line, we were pretty ignorant and there was a flea problem.
There were lots of reasons for our decline. No doubt we had fallen back into ignorance due to disease and human sacrifice. That sort of activity cuts down on the population. Offered sex organs were popular. Cut those buddies out and lay them on a sacrificial stone, set them on fire, and everyone thought the rain was coming.
But there was no rain for a long time, and there weren’t enough private parts to go around for sacrifice, and by the time it was decided the gods weren’t listening, or that perhaps they didn’t have quite the taste for privates as were first assumed, half the population’s genitals had gone up in smoke, and therefore half the population.
Our folk started disappearing into the jungle to stay attached to their equipment, and finally the sacrifice thing died out, and then the priest died out, and pretty soon we were eating bugs off trees and digging for grubs and trolling for anything edible that didn’t eat us first.
Anyway, a lot of wing-dang-doodles were saved and we lost our faith in gods, which, though we were a primitive lot, put us way ahead of most everyone else in the world.
ut there in the depths of the jungle there was only greenery, and as seen from above I’m sure our primitive city was nothing more than a few flashes of white stone gripped in the clutches of moss and vines. Flying up there in their little plane they must have seen it and decided to come closer. But they came too close, and the top of a tree caught the bottom of the plane and ripped it.
I was young then, and I saw it happen from a perch in a tree. Saw the belly of the silver bird rip, saw it twist and spin and finally fall, spewing goods out of it like guts, throwing oil and gas like blood. It hit the top of one of our pyramids, bunched together like a wad of paper, and blew up, sending shrapnel skyward and amongst the trees in a hard, sharp rain. A piece of it killed one of my cousins, but I never liked him anyway.
The pyramid, the tallest one, the one the plane struck, was not Egyptian high or Egyptian grand, but it was well up there, and as I said, cloaked in moss and vines. From where I stood, even watching through the trees, I felt the heat from the blast of the plane lick at me like a baboon’s breath, saw some of the vines curl and blacken, smoke and crumble. There came from the wreckage a horrible howl. All of us raced to the source, and as we came closer, I could smell meat cooking.
Then I heard a whine that turned into a gasping cry. There, lying on them moss-covered steps near the top of the pyramid, as if he had been placed there, was something I had never seen before. A near hairless thing, naked; its little bit of dark hair was smoking on its head. I ran over and beat out the flames gently with the palm of my hand, and lifted the thing high. It stopped crying immediately. As if in salute, it lifted its little pecker and pissed straight into my face.
Much has been written about The Big Guy, and I want to say right here and now, the one who wrote the most about him, claimed he was my man’s main biographer, had no business telling the story in the first place. He wasn’t there. But that didn’t stop him. It didn’t stop him from telling it wrong and making up facts and situations so he could sell a novel, and later profit from the motion pictures made from the series of stories he wrote about my good friend, The Big Guy. Well, we profited too, I have to admit. But I resent any profits he made. It was our story, not his, and he didn’t deserve a single penny.
First off, the name in the books and movies is way wrong. I can say the name but you can’t. I can say it because it was given to him in my language. It sounds a little like a cough and a fart to say it right, but it is hard to repeat in human language. So, that’s how he came to be known by the name in the books and movies and so on. In the books a monkey takes my place, and in the movies it’s that chimpanzee. They gave the chimp a name close to my name but it’s not my name.
Everyone now just calls me Bill.
So, here I am, holding this young human child in my arms, him pissing in my face, and all the others laughing. I admit, I was about to toss him from the top of the pyramid, when my mother, who had recently lost her child to some sort of jungle disease, comes up and takes The Little Guy from me and holds him to her breast. A moment later, she and The Little Guy disappear into the trees. I didn’t know exactly what was going on. I thought maybe she was going to eat him in privacy, because it had crossed my mind to do just that. There wouldn’t have been a lot of preparation and very little hair to spit out. Just swing him by the feet, whack him on a rock, and a hot dinner was served.
But mother carried him away from me, went swinging through the foliage. We can move amongst the jungle tree tops better than any human or ape our size. We are swifter than the chimpanzee because we are lighter, but stronger. I should also add that we have larger brains than the branch of humanity that survived. That would be you.
All I got to say is, “Good for you, you survivor you.” But we were very good too. It was just fate that made you the main human branch and led to our dying out in the jungles of our lost world, amongst the trees and stones of our forefathers. If we just hadn’t gotten religion for a while, no telling what we might have accomplished.
he Little Guy, who became The Big Guy, was a real whiner, and if mother had not been sad from losing my little brother to a hungry panther, he might well have been, as I stated, a nice hot lunch. But he clung to her tit with the enthusiasm of a leech, and her milk filled him and he grew.
Even when he was quite old for it, he still sucked that tit. I wanted to suck the tit, but nope. Only The Little Guy, who was hairless, and in my view a little on the ugly side, got the tit. Full grown, he’d come to the great nest in the trees, give our mom the fruit he had gathered, or the animals that he had killed, and before the feast, he would suckle. No one ate until The Big Guy was through drawing milk through the tit, and he liked to stretch this out, hugging mother, closing his eyes and sucking slowly, occasionally popping one eye open to see how the rest of us were taking it. The rest of us being my two sisters and myself. The best thing to do was to not look perturbed, but to just go about some business of a sort, and forget it. He was more likely to quit that way and let us all get down to eating.
I will admit, however, there was something about him that made him special. We could all see it. We could all sense it. I would learn later that he had been the subject of an experiment. Dr. Rice, who you will learn more about, told me this. He never told The Big Guy. I’m not sure why. Maybe he planned to when the time was right. I don’t know. But the time didn’t get right and he didn’t tell him. But I will come back to that later. What I know is this: His parents allowed The Big Guy, before birth, to be injected, right through his mother’s stomach, with an experimental drug that was designed to give him elevated intelligence and great physical prowess and grant him an extraordinary life span. In the books his so-called biographer says this was achieved by the workings of a witch doctor, or at least I think he said that. As I was telling you, things are starting to slide off my brain like greased butts on a grassy slope. Important part is the injection worked. More on that later.
At the time all we knew was that he grew up to be tall and muscled and gold of skin and hung like a zebra. He could travel through the trees with the best of us, though he had to take to cinching up his snake with vines, least he catch it on a snag or drag it through thorns, something he once did, and something that took a couple days of careful work on my part to pull the thorns free. I don’t know how I ended up with the job, but there you have it.
To say the least, this endeared him to me, and I to him. Why the latter, I’m a little confused. But, once again, there you have it.
He learned our language and customs quite comfortably. In time they were his language and customs, and he became my brother. He is still my brother, and will forever be. We lived a wild life, a good life, and there were many great adventures. We found lost cities containing civilizations thought long dead. We stole all manner of jewels and raped women with and without tails. Sometimes we did the men. This was just the way things were, so don’t get highfalutin’. We chased creatures that your kind would call dinosaurs. We wrestled with saber-toothed tigers and wild boars as big as horses.
When they were in heat we fucked our sisters. Mom was off limits, being dry, but the sisters, they got to that time of the month we were all over that stuff. We couldn’t help it. That was the custom. That was biology. We were no different than most jungle apes. I should add, technically, none of these sisters were The Big Guy’s blood kin, and he couldn’t impregnate them, and I fortunately never did.
By human standards we were stinkers. By our lost world standards, we were just growing boys. But even in our world, we had a reputation.
Watch out for those Monkey Boys (euphemism, I might add), they’ll steal your stuff, whip your ass, and then fuck you. Hell, it’s how we were brought up. As to who was referring to us as Monkey Boys (again, I’m using a euphemism), it was our neighbors, who were of our own blood, but who had branched off and taken up customs that we disagreed with, mostly having to do with hair-dos and the like. We killed off the bulk of them during our religious days, and the rest of them we killed off to have something to do when times were boring.
So, there we were, living in the jungle with our asses hanging out, our numbers decreasing faster than a baked pig at a luau, and then a little something happened that turned things around and gave us culture.
Well, it gave me culture.
What happened was HER, THE WOMAN.