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 11:
Chapter 4–Part 3
Crossing the Great African Rift
The significance of man is not in what he attains, but rather what he longs to attain.
Sun rose over the graben valley. The strip of sky overhead blossomed with fluffy clouds in a field of iridescent blue. She scoured the cliff for the stranger. Empty. No matter. As soon as they got out of this gorge, she would track him. But first, they must get out. She felt the press of moisture-laden air against her body. It hung heavily, barely stirred by a lazy breeze.
“Raza. It will rain. Soon!”
Raza stared into the unclouded sky and shook his head, but he barked toward Baad, grabbed the morning food and they headed away from the rising sun. Guarded words—“Man-who-preys”, “stalks the Rift”—reached her, but the males excluded her from their plans.
They passed many ascent routes, but Raza seemed to search for a particular spot. One faded into another until Lucy lost track.
The craggy infrastructure never seemed to change as they rounded yet another of the endless zigzags. This time, without warning, Raza stopped. To Lucy, the outcrop dimpling the cliff appeared like all the others. She glanced toward Baad for some sign of recognition. He rested on his haunches, body canted forward, in the sliver of shade cast by the cliff. Sweat dripped from his face and soaked his hair. He was eating a root bulb in preparation for what Lucy hoped was their ascent. Lucy wiped a hand across her brow and pushed her straggled hair-fur from her eyes.
Raza nodded at the wall, but the jutting rocks and recessed fissures remained camouflaged until Lucy stood directly in front—and then, there it was: A natural ladder to the plateau above.
“I go,” and Raza started upward. “Followed by you and you.” He placed Lucy in the middle.
Lucy sprinted after Raza, but he climbed slower than he had descended. He tested each new position, tugging and yanking, before committing to any purchase on the steep incline. Eagle squawked, but kept her distance. The moment Raza vacated a position, Lucy assumed it. The slower they went, the edgier Lucy became. Sunshine was now a cloud-choked sky, drizzling wetness on the hominids. Rain would be here soon. Finally, she could keep quiet no longer.
“You are slow,” she barked upward to Raza, but received no response.
A hazy cloud-covered Sun climbed peak after peak of the invisible-mountains as the sturdy hominids tested the limits of their stamina, scaling cliffs no longer climbable by primates. None of the three understood the impossibility of their effort. Cocooned by their confidence in Raza, they continued. Baad called encouragement in his odd tonal voice. Lucy often couldn’t understand his words, but always warmed to his friendly intent.
Raza at long last reached his fingertips over the precipice, followed by his hand and arm, until he breached the bluff.
“Lucy!” He stretched a hand down and pulled her up just ahead of Baad. Together, they stretched out, exhausted on the chunky ground. Lucy closed her eyes, unwilling to replace her memories of jungles and verdure and lush meadows with the ache of unfamiliar lands. She slowed her breathing, bid farewell to her past and opened her eyes.
Nature breathed a sigh that this stage ended successfully. She had been unsure that her Lucy group could transgress this, her greatest Earthly rift, but they had done well.
Part XII 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.com, Editorial Review Board member for ISTE’s Journal for Computing Teachers, 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.