Finally after ten years, I am close to publishing the heart-rending and fast-paced biography of Lucy. Written in the spirit of Jean Auel, this is the paleo-historic saga of our earliest ancestors as lived through the eyes of a female Homo habilis.
Since Donald Johanson uncovered the tiny three-and-a-half foot clawless, flat-toothed Australopithecine, we have asked, Who is she? And how could she survive in a world of mammoth predators and unrelenting natural disasters she had no understanding about? This book answers those questions as well as more fundamental ones like, Where did God come from? Why did man create his first tool? How did culture start?
Here’s a summary:
Lucy: A Biography follows three species of early man (Australopithecus, Homo habilis and Homo erectus), as they fight for the limited resources of Pleistocene Africa. Lucy, of the species habilis, blames herself for the death of her family and agrees to mate with a stranger (Raza). As they journey to Raza’s homebase, they are tracked by two deadly predators: Xha, of the smarter and more powerful species Homo erectus, and the violent and unforgiving Nature, a sentient being who meddles with fate and Lucy’s future as though it were a chemistry experiment. The story is carefully researched to shared the geography, climate, and biosphere that would have been Lucy’s world 1.8 million years ago, when man was not King and nature ruled with a violence and dispassion we call ‘disaster’ today.
Every week, I’ll post part of this story.
A note: While I took Lucy’s name from the infamous Australopithecine skeleton discovered by Donald Johanson, Lucy is a Homo habilis. Her adopted child Boa is an Australopithecine.
Here’s Part 20:
Chapter 9–Part I
Carrying Scavenge Home
“At one time, being able to read tracks and sign was a matter of life and death. Knowing where the food was and what the predators were doing could mean the difference between survival and extinction.”
Trading stealth for speed, they sprinted across the dry grassland until Lucy could no longer see the carnage behind them. Only then did she collapse, her legs no stronger than the wilted roots of pond grass. Sweat pooled in her shadow as she focused on pulling air into her aching lungs. When her breathing slowed and her limbs no longer shook, she secured the scavenge over her shoulder with okapi tendons, dropped her remaining chert cutter into her neck sack, and set out again.
“I will bury those tools you left behind in the past. The blood and animal tissue will dissolve, but the presence of bones and tools together and the striations from both animal teeth and man-made tools will tell future man of my brilliance.”
The rhythm of her feet thumping marked the passage of time. Spreading ahead lay Sabertooth-colored plains bordered by highlands to one side, hills to the other, and a stretch of woodland that thickened as it neared the hazy mist of the Great Water Hole. Lucy had not traveled here before, so had memorized landmarks on the outbound journey—fissures, clumps of brush, hillocks, boulders. These, now in front of her, would mark the way home.
If they stopped only for brief rests, they would reach home base before Sun disappeared. She withdrew a succulent from her sack and shared it with Raza as they trotted. As she chewed,
Nature sighed. “This great volcano once dominated the world. Its arrogance destroyed it, as it will destroy Smilodon and Mammoth—and you if you let it. Do you understand, Lucy? If they respected my power, they would have survived.”
That wasn’t the only danger. Animals-that-hunt—Sabertooth or Smilodon, or even Hyaena-dog—might be waiting for the right moment to attack. Leopards were the worst. Though they preferred the thick forests to the open grasslands, they would chase prey anywhere. This Cat’s cousin hunted in silence and attacked with a blinding speed that neutralized both escape and defense.
But Lucy understood her new world as well as any animal alive. She searched for mismatched colors, out of sync with the rest of the surroundings. She scrutinized the shadows that spotted the ground. She listened for warning sounds.
The only animal she didn’t understand was Man-who-preys. Some primal instinct told her he might be the greatest predator of all.
“You are a pathetic leopard, Lucy, but you can think. Leopard can’t. He hunts the same way he has hunted since I designed him. Man-who-preys understands this. He survives by using his predilection for aggression and feeling no remorse for an enemy’s death.”
Lucy’s ignorance of her flaw intrigued Nature. Maybe ‘stupidity’ was part of ‘intelligence’. Something for Nature to consider.
“You run as fast as ever.”
Raza startled Lucy as he motioned toward her expanding stomach. She smiled at his gesture for ‘little one’–fingers splayed as he rolled a hand over his stomach. He didn’t wait for a response. They had to keep moving. The mid-day heat, when most predators slept, was the best time to travel.
They trotted onward. He shunned both the well-worn animal paths and their own traveled trail, the one that led them to Oryx. In this way, no predator would track their scent from the depressions left by their feet or the sweat dripped from their bodies. When they defecated, they buried it as Cat had taught them.
They paralleled the banks of a river until the riparian woodland gave way to arid, rocky savanna studded here and there with thick-trunked baobab and desperate-looking acacia trees. Far away loomed Smoking Mountain, the master of their habitat. She sampled the damp air. This was her barometer. When the taste of smoke overpowered everything else, she knew fire and lava soon followed and she must flee for the river.
Part XXI next week…
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Jacqui Murray is the editor of a technology curriculum for K-sixth grade, creator of two technology training books for middle school and three ebooks on technology in education. She is the author of Building a Midshipman, the story of her daughter’s journey from high school to United States Naval Academy midshipman. She is webmaster for six blogs, an Amazon Vine Voice book reviewer, a columnist for Examiner.com, Editorial Review Board member for Journal for Computing Teachers, Cisco blogger, IMS tech expert, and a weekly contributor to Write Anything. Currently, she’s editing a thriller for her agent that should be out to publishers this summer. Contact Jacqui at her writing office or her tech lab, Ask a Tech Teacher.