Lucy: A Biography–Part VIII

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 8:

Chapter  3–Part 2


Nature could barely make the trio out in the darkness. The brindled shades of their hirsute bodies blended into the brambled scrub.

“For eighteen million years, Lucy, I pushed this land from the ice covered South Pole until it separated and migrated north. Here, I nurtured the perfect balance of environment and climate for the growth of mankind.”

 Her Lucy experiment was safe here. Few animals hunted the Great Rift Valley with its moving basins and bottomless crevices. Only Nature’s newest creations were reckless enough to test their burgeoning minds against the quickness of the natural world.

“I will help you, Lucy, but you must ask! Put aside your failures and inadequacies. My demesne will be yours. I am your deus ex machina!”

Did Lucy understand?    

Just as Lucy completed the sack, Raza returned. He squatted at her side, being careful not to bother Baad. Even in Night Sun’s wan light, Lucy could see a sheen of moisture above his upper lip and tension around his eyes.

“What do you see, Ra-za?”

When he didn’t answer, she followed his sightline, searching the shadows for the danger that made him tense, and listening for sounds out of place from the nocturnal chirps and hisses. Lucy had no idea what was normal this far from her homeland. To her side, Spider worked on an intricate web.

“Go, Spider, to the horizon! Spin your web where sky meets earth. Keep us safe from what danger lurks there,” Lucy whispered to the tiny creature.

As Lucy watched its back-and-forth movements, so careful and exacting, Raza rubbed his callused knee. Finally, he grunted, apparently satisfied with his sensory search. He dropped his head and fingered the leaf sack Lucy had looped around his muscular neck. It hung higher than hers, just above the horizontal line connecting the nipples of his chest. He grunted again.

“Put your cutter in it. Then your hands are free, like mine,” Lucy motioned.

Raza nodded and adjusted to the tether’s feel. After many breaths, he spoke.

“Soon we cross Impassable-Rift. It is difficult.” He studied the length of her body as though judging her chances of success. Lucy nodded, trying to reassure him, but he glanced away and continued. “Once we’re across, I will show you quarry-where stones-grow-for-tools and lake-where-children-play. You will meet the big-tailed deer and its cousin Gazelle, Sabertooth Cat and its cousin Homotherium, and mammoth and Oryx. You will see Snarling-dog who stalks by day and Hyaena-cat who hunts at night.”

Raza’s hands moved with eloquence, his face expressive as he described their journey. Lucy understood ‘quarry’, ‘lake’, ‘stone’—words that described features of her environment—but any time he moved from familiar actions such as ‘stalks by day’ to intangible ideas like ‘lake-seen-by-Kee’, she lost his conversational thread. This, she kept to herself by maintaining a passive, interested expression.

Raza paused, as though to collect his thoughts. There was a confidence in his face that made her want to trust him. More than that, she felt kindness.

“We will make it.”

She stiffened and felt the blood drain from her face. These were the words she used when Garv disappeared: “You will make it!”

“How do you know this?” she stuttered, struggling to calm herself.

“Kee-that-sees-all sees it.” A smoothness imbued Raza’s words that hadn’t been there before. He’d noticed her agitation.

“Who is this Kee?”

Although Lucy flawlessly reproduced his hand movement for the name ‘Kee’, Raza responded with a quizzical tilt of his head.           

“Some say she came from your land.”

“I understand.”

Stories circled through her group, too, of those who crossed the Rift in the past and never returned. Lucy spread her lips into a display of contentment, hiding her teeth as was appropriate when she felt no fear.

Raza’s warmth evaporated as Baad jerked awake. The elder’s ears pricked as his eyes darted along the grey line of the night horizon and through the shadowy shapes. When Night-dog howled, both males leaped to their feet. Baad glanced at the leaf sack now adorning Raza’s neck, but before he could comment, Owl hooted.

“Night-dog and Owl heard the steps I heard.” Baad’s bark was soft, but urgent, and the two strode toward the perimeter of the camp. Lucy jumped up. She, too, must protect them.

“Stay!” Raza snapped as he dropped his cutter into the leaf sack and then they were gone.

She drooped her head, knowing she again failed. Her fear at his words, We will make it, told Raza she was a coward as surely as Krp’s trembling jaw. Could she never be what she must be?

Lucy made a mulch from her herbs and rubbed it on her sore breasts and stomach, hoping to find relief from the tenderness, and curled into a ball to sleep. Garv’s scent mingled with Raza’s. She walked with strong confident steps, but as she moved forward, her head tilted over her shoulder at something behind her. Something beckoned…

Raza and Baad found nothing, though they searched the full perimeter of the campsite. Still, when they returned, they built nests to either side of a sleeping Lucy.

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Part VIX next week…

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Jacqui Murray is the editor of a technology curriculum for K-fifth grade and author of two technology training books for middle school. She wrote Building a Midshipman, the story of her daughter’s journey from high school to United States Naval Academy midshipman. She is webmaster for five blogs, an Amazon Vine Voice book reviewer, a tech columnist for Examiner.comEditorial Review Board member for ISTE’s Journal for Computing TeachersIMS tech expert, and a weekly contributor to Write AnythingCurrently, 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.

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