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 31:
Chapter 12–Part 5
Homo habilis Hunting
“The second image of man the scavenger, is both unfamiliar and unflattering… There is little nobility in man the scavenger.”
—Dr. Pat Shipman
Confusion filled the faces around Lucy. One youngster cried, “Did she bring them?” before he was shushed. Lucy suddenly felt alone. Did I? But no. That couldn’t be. Man-who-preys had been here before her. They had stolen Raza’s females and his group’s children. Because of Man-who-preys, Raza’s Primary Male had led the group to a new home.
But Man-who-preys had followed.
My child is no longer safe. I must find a home this Enemy cannot breech.
Ma-g’n approached, worry lining his eyes and mouth.
“One Man-who-preys’ hunter did follow us, Ma-g’n, after we crossed Rift-that-can’t-be-crossed. I thought he followed Raza…” She stopped before telling him about the scream that had caused Mammoth to stampede. “Is this my fault?”
“No, Lucy. As long as we eat the same food and share their territory, they will prey on us.”
Falda turned to Kelda. “Where did you find these?”
The meal was over. The males shared more hunting stories as the females placed the remaining food in the cache, safe from other scavengers, and prepared for bed. Once darkness fell, sleep followed.
Lucy wished she could be more like Falda. When she’d asked her friend how dangerous Man-who-preys was, the younger female had scoffed. Who cared? The males would keep them safe. When Lucy reminded her it hadn’t worked that way in the past, she’d brushed off Lucy’s concern. They’ve learned since then.
Lucy hoped she was right.
“I followed Cousin Chimp.” Kelda fingered a hard, round fruit the color of Night Sun. Rather than the usual bending toward the ground and searching with the eyes, she gazed into the distance. “He led me past lake-where-herds-drink, through the jungles-with-stream-running, to a meadow. It overflowed with colorful flowers and bushes brimming with ripe berries.”
When she paused, Lucy saw angry red welts covering her hands and wrists, like the bites of spider, but too many.
“Kelda. What happened?”
She didn’t even raise her head, not even to scowl at Lucy. Instead, she scratched nonstop until blood trickled from each swelling. “Lucy? What will stop the itch?”
“Come,”Lucy ordered, wondering why the older, more experienced female would pick fruit without padding her hands. She led Kelda along lake-by-home-base until it joined river-where-children-fall-in, and continued further to tree-that-shades-from-sun.
“Help me dig,” she motioned.
They worked until Lucy had as many root bundles as she could carry. She found a flat pond stone and a round hammerstone for herself and Kelda. Together, they pounded the roots into a viscous paste. This, she spread over Kelda’s hands.
“It feels better. How do you know these things?”
Lucy shrugged. She knew by watching what was around her. Now Kelda knew.
“Tomorrow you must show me this field.”
“It is too far for one full with baby,” Kelda answered abruptly. “I must return to the children.”
With that, Kelda strode toward the gathering and joined a group of females. She whispered something and the group leered at Lucy. Lucy felt herself shrink. She turned away, trying to hide from their glares. Kelda was dangerous. Lucy had no experience with a deceitful groupmate, or a band that couldn’t tell lie from truth.
Summer Sun’s heat drained into the muggy evening. In the light of Night Sun’s blue-white disk, the children rough-and-tumbled among the lake-side trees. Falda began a canorous rumble, like Cat’s purr after eating, with a purity that relaxed everyone. Lucy added her higher pitch and soon, others joined in. A feeling of contentment spread through the Group. Man-who-preys lived far away. This crossing-of-territories was an exception, one they could control by avoiding forest-that-spreads-darkness. They lazed on their sides under the night shine and slapped the ground as though to mimic the contented beat of their hearts. Lucy found her head bobbing in rhythm with the pat-pat-pat of many hands.
Kee glanced up. Light spilled from glowing holes in the night sky. Some of the openings twinkled, and others shone, steady and flat.
“The sky worms are busy, digging their holes through the dark earth of the night sky.”
Lucy glanced toward Kee. “Sky worms. Yes. That makes sense.”
Somewhere, thunder rumbled, almost like a laugh.
Photo credit: San Diego Museum of Man
Part XXXII next week…
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Jacqui Murray is the editor of a technology curriculum and two tech-ed lesson plan collections for K-sixth, creator of two technology training books for middle school, and six ebooks on technology in education for K-8. 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, anAmazon Vine Voice book reviewer, a columnist for Examiner.com, Editorial Review Board member for Journal for Computing Teachers, Cisco guest blogger, IMS tech expert, and a bi-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.