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 22:
Chapter 9–Part III
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.”
Raza emitted the sound of a grasshopper and was answered by the greeting call of Cousin Chimp. Lucy breathed a sigh of relief. Every time the group divided its numbers, the strength of their herd lessened; it was a comfort to find the Group safe.
Ma-g’n waited, coiling and recoiling the tattered pieces of his earlobe into a tight spiral. Rat had shredded it when Ma-g’n was unconscious from an accident, unable to stop the rodent’s hungry attack. That pain had diminished when the flesh healed, but the horrible throbbing in his head worsened, growing until it was almost unbearable.
Just in time, Lucy had arrived from Rift-that-can’t-be-crossed with her healing herbs.
His bowels churned, but he maintained his post, frozen by the memory of what he’d seen less than a day’s jog from camp. He’d stationed himself here, at the camp’s entry, when Sun was still high overhead, welcoming each pair of returning hunters, waiting for Raza and Lucy. Raza would know what to do.
He squinted into the glare of the falling sun. He’d been tracking this particular shape since it first appeared on the horizon. It had grown in the last hand of time, first an amorphous blotch, then the head and shoulders of some indistinguishable biped. It should be Raza—he was the only hunter still out. Ma-g’n flipped his finger round and round through his shredded ear. If not Raza, he must sound the alarm, warn everyone to flee. Leave their safe camp for the danger of the nighttime grasslands and nocturnal predators who only killed what they could eat.
Finally, he could make out a face. His breath quickened and relief washed over him like a summer wind. It was Raza, shoulders bowed by the weight of carcass, a dark cloud of flies buzzing around the dead animal. Lucy was at his side, her scavenge no smaller than Raza’s, sweat glistening off her bronze body, neck sack bouncing between her breasts.
He sighed and his fingers dropped from his tangled ear. Everything would be OK. Raza would have a solution.
“Greetings, hunters!” He called as Raza and Lucy rounded Boulder-that-is-taller-than-all. The vibrations of his own voice bounced through Ma-g’n’s head and made him wince. Lucy’s gaze locked onto his and she nodded: She’d found the pain herb.
Ma-g’n hopped down from the boulder and followed the duo into camp, to where the males gathered to share stories of their hunts while the females pounded roots and bulbs to be eaten with the meat. Both groups stayed close enough to the wrestling heap of arms and legs that was the children, every adult prepared to intervene if necessary.
Raza and Lucy tossed great hunks of an oryx onto a thick spread of poacea. Stalks of the fresh grass had been layered over a large area, between the fresh carrion and the dry thirsty ground. They would absorb the blood and juices, and be eaten by the elders and children whose teeth weren’t sturdy enough to tear the tough skin and meat of an animal carcass. No food was wasted.
Ma-g’n studied Raza as his friend rolled his shoulders, free of the heavy weight after what Ma-g’n knew had been a long distance. The hunter looked happy, relaxed. Why not? He hadn’t seen what Ma-g’n had. Raza squatted by the meat cache.
“This will feed us well.”
The normalcy soothed Ma-g’n. Was he over-reacting?
“You return, safely. This is good.” He thought he kept his tone calm, but something caught Raza’s attention.
“Was there danger?”
Ma-g’n shook his head. Wait. “Only Kee knows.”
Kee had been waiting when Ma-g’n returned, her face grim and eyes worried, arms crossed tightly around her chest.
He’d continued past her to the poacea bed, knowing why she was there. She’d followed, not saying a word. Finally, he’d slung the carrion from his shoulder looking everywhere but into Kee’s eyes, and asked, “Is all well?”
“I smell their stink on you.”
Kee never forgot a scent, no matter how much time passed. This one belonged to the creatures that had kidnapped the band’s children, stole their females, taken Ma-g’n’s mate. Most of the band moved on with their lives, shrugging off the memory, taking new mates and creating new children, but Kee couldn’t. Their stench clung to every part of the camp that had been her home for so long. She could no longer sit by her shadow stick without feeling their presence, or knap stones for foraging, or rest in the baobab’s shade to watch the children without sensing their gaze. She’d finally forced Hku to move the remnants of the group to a new hunting ground.
“Yes. The same.”
Part XXIII 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.