(A short story, of Science Fiction of the 22nd Century)
(An Island Continent lie beneath his feet, as the Neanderthal’s ship
The Great Neanderthal
“The world-old, as we knew it, as I had read about it, was now the new world, or the only world I knew. I had read about it, the way it was, used to be, that was 165-years in the past though, the Great Nuclear War (holocaust of the twenty-first century) took place in 2016 A.D., from meagerness I had read, and after the war, there was not much left for man to survive on—thereafter, speculation of how the Western Hemisphere from the Eastern was, was unknowable, there being no such thing as North American, or diplomatic relations, like from the old world order. All the lands were infested with ethnic and tribal peoples, some small villages here and there, and townships, even a few larger cities but mostly dug out from the remains of the Great Bombardment, but hell to live in. No such thing as transoceanic commerce. All such things had long ceased before I was born—owing to the upheaval and hazards of the unpredictable waters of the oceans, the seasons of the year the constant trembling of the earth. To my understanding, the Great Bombardment comprised of no less than three-hundred nuclear bombs, some 283-megatons. There was no escape for anyone. God alone knew the exact number of humans that perished that day, perhaps four-billion, and then there was the seas, the prey in the oceans, sharks and killer whales, and the constant title waves themselves, and ongoing storms, nothing could navigate the great seas of earth back in those days—that accounted for another unknown number of dead, and then came the Neanderthal, not sure if they really were Neanderthal, but we all called them that, aliens, or Neanderthal-Titans, all the same if you ask me. The greatest argument against peace the world had ever known since that deadly day of the Great Bombardment, the onslaught of the world, was these creatures.
And I found myself on the shores, I do believe of one of the Azores, perhaps the biggest of the islands, here I found peace, prosperity and happiness beyond the saturated world of the prevailing Neanderthals, alone yes, but alive. I came here fifty-seven years ago, at the age of nineteen, or was I twenty, I can’t remember now. I no longer know the fate of the relinquished lands, the lands I’ve given up, which lie beyond this island, and just as well. And below me, under this island is a continent. It came up out of the belly of the earth, when the Great Bombardment took place, I can see it on a sunny day, even walk off this island and onto the continent below, it is only a few feet deep at its most shallowest point.
Anyhow, for posterity sake, this war I was talking about involved China and Russia as well as the USA, the Middle East, it involved I understand some little country named Korea and Japan, and Iran, I know of Iran, it’s old Persia. The other ones I had to read about in an old book, over a hundred years old. The Neanderthals burnt most of our literature, ruled with an iron hand as they say. And some of us humans revolted against them, perhaps they are long-dead now. So life deems that my story be told, and given to the future world. Although war will not be removed forever by man, or whatever may take his place, only the Good Lord of the High Heavens can insure this. But I am glad that I have been chosen to imprint this story into stone, likened to the Rosetta stone. I will soon roll this great stone off this cliff, into the sea below, on this side of the mountain, it is one-thousand feet deep I believe, and let the hands of Providence find other ways to uplift it, wherein due time, man will be ready to read it, without dread of deadly harm.
Surely as I put into stone here, the last few letters, I see in the far-off distance, the Neanderthals nearing the island, they will surely hang me in front of their masses, for the glory of capturing me, but I have something else planned.
My name is Ramsey Cowley. I was born in a land once called Minnesota. And so I joined a people known as “The Free world,” and learned the craft of warfare. I joined early on in life, at the age of seventeen, at nineteen received the rank of Major. Much of my service was in hunting the Neanderthal, assassinations. My last mission was to capture and bring back alive, the Great Outlaw, Neb Nedol; he was called the mountain of thunder, the glare of lightening. He came suddenly out of a vaporous wall, with fury and tempest within the confines of my campsite, high up in the Andes. He rode in on a glorious white horse in comparative ease, almost as if to appear coming down from the clouds. But he could not deceive me—I knew exactly who he was, perhaps my twenty men I commanded thought him a fend, for they were struck with terror (all but one, Zeraval, who mysteriously disappeared in the night, he was the sergeant of my second squad, I had two squads of ten men each, he actually was my most loyal of the whole lot, so I thought. I was looking for some other explanation, but the best I could come up with was he sold me out to the Neanderthal, and abandoned his kind for gold, or other services he might need in the future, who’s to say, it is all conjecture of course, I’ll never really know, and perhaps better off or not knowing)—like a storm he lashed out with the head, and teeth attached to the jawbone of a ram, using it like a battleaxe, and slew all nineteen of the twenty of my comrades—it was in the wee hours of the morning, we had just gotten up to prepare breakfast. His face was grave and at first I thought he was a vision.
“Well,” I said, after he had slain all twenty less one, of my men—my voice tense with excitement and dread—and I no longer had my revolver in my hand (of which I had only three bullets), nor the stone weapon, that looked like a dagger, in my other hand, I was now at his mercy pert near, he gave me a message:
“Come and serve me, bow to me, and my faith, make a rapid headway to my temple, should you not, should you attempt to ride out the storm upon the surface of the earth, the one I have created, designed for all mankind, it will be suicidal.”
For that moment he was in command, so it would seem. I said nothing, although his words were well taken, nothing but such an act can draw a man into making a quick and vital decision—beyond the normal tedious process the mind of man goes through dealing with reasoning things out before hand, before he makes a final resolution, we are all familiar with such deliberating processes, I’m sure, but I told myself I could not bow, but I was thinking I could serve him, but how can one do this without the other, henceforward, I didn’t have to make the final decision, it was made for me.
Well, to get on with the story, he didn’t leave as I was hoping, perhaps expecting him to, and allowing me time to deliberate, and he dropped his weapon—right then and there, something else un-expectant; then, sunlight, a brilliant dense vapor like cloud with a wild source of sunlight appeared, a hard piece of strata beneath it, struck him, as if spirits came out of a dark-storm into light, with a weapon thrust upward into his belly, as if someone or something had been holding these spirits back, and they had just gotten loose, for my sake, and perhaps in sympathy of my situation, this light went to tremendous heights, he fought these elements, but nothing could ruffle them. Consequently, I stood speculating upon my chance of getting away, frightful it all was to this towering, thirteen food Neanderthal-Titan.
This towering figure now stood staring at me as if at salute, then he fell like a great timber to the ground, trembled the earth some, I was mentally computing the seconds in my mind that must have elapsed before this great being became breathless, I didn’t move, and when I did I said,
I had tried everything to explain this happening, until I was exhausted—to my people, they all dismissed this as if I was being modest, said, in a few kind words, “You are the hero, you have slain the number one criminal of the world.”
But what they didn’t tell me, and perhaps it didn’t occur to them, I became the most wanted, that is—hunted, hero in the world. Everyone wanted a piece of me; the new world was not any different than the old world before me, and that far-off world, called the Stone Age.
I had little time to think of this, coincidence or not, the Neanderthals had a price on my head, I was a trophy to be captured. And for the many tribes and peoples of the world, I was a legend to be put into a cage, and everyone wanted to fight me, see me, see if they could be number one.
I had thought a thousand times on what to do—I dare not submerge myself in some cave, even my kind, my people would be tempted to sell me to the highest bidder—thus, I learned you don’t change the world by changing the times, you simple do things different. Now I was called Ramsey the Great, who killed the Great Neanderthal-Titan, with one blow. Stupendous waves of daring came in from all sides—; there was no bridge man or hybrids could build, that would save me from the claws of an evil being’s heart.
As it became more and more apparent I had to leave under cover of the night, and I did just that— (I would seek the nearest land in the great ocean, perhaps on my journey explore the forgotten lands I had read about, here was my chance, or if I had to remain at sea, and perish, but the balance of power among the races of the world was no longer a mystery, the Neanderthal ruled, as they did thousands of years ago. Perhaps some will think my departure was treason, I would have replied to them, as I will now to you: there is no law which compels to put punishment upon oneself. Should I have stayed this was my destiny, and where there is no law, and only injustice, and we are doomed the whims of others, then we become our own best judges, exacting judgment upon those whom would wish to enslave you) oh, yes, a shade of annoyance to my life, but I loved life, and I had not lived but one third of it at this time. Very well then, I told myself, let’s go live and enjoy a minute at a time, the fullest one can, by seeking adventure—you know how a young man thinks, it was all phenomenon, sensation, fact to be, to the mind.
Twenty days I bucked the Great Sea called the Atlantic (and as I’d look back, thinking a few of those days on Zeraval, I could see that he was quite fearful of death, and he responded hearty with life, he was younger than I, and in a way represented the aristocracy of our people, he really didn’t have to be a soldier, he chose it to show his father he was a son molded with courage). Anyhow I drifted east, continued toward Europe, as they once called it, I had no qualifications in being a sailor, but I did not doubt my ability to remain on course to my new destinies— (I had talked to an old amenable sailor at the docks, of a conurbation, at the mouth of the Amazon, where I traded the weapon and the head of the Great Neanderthal, Neb Nedol, for a vessel, and a weeks instructions on navigation, he figured he’d be the talk of the jungle, and I’m sure he was, and still is)(the vessel being: a Neolithic style ship, with a Greek twist to it, a ship of papyrus, netted together tightly, thick and boldly, with a low and wide sail, such ships were used some eight thousand years ago—to my understanding, and this was the craftsman’s best and most enlightened idea, I had learned, or heard about the ancient Melos or Milos, that they had used such crafts going from one island to the next in the Mediterranean Sea, a sea I had only read about).
As I drifted away in the wind from the mouth of the Amazon, drifting towards the east, I found myself becoming more and more deeply involved with my freedom, yet in dilemma, being alone confronted me, could I not unravel, go crazy? And now I sat in this one spot in the vessel in perhaps in the middle of the Atlantic, according to my homemade map, on pig skin, by the old sailor, there was nothing but rough winds, and turbulent waves, sometimes I think being hit by the waves was no worse than being stoned by the Neanderthal, everything was uneven in the ocean, it all suggested death, giant masses of water, perhaps centuries old.
On the last of the twenty days, at sea, I looked for soil, grass floating, anything but water, my supplies were nearly out, my water had been gone for two days now, my face from the sun had become stone-like, burnt to a rigid, hard bacon, memories of the past, my youthful past, short past came to mind, a mind now loosened by this voyage, once brick, now clay, now baked in the sun like an oven.
As I look back on this it is all fascinating, prospecting in the middle of the ocean for land, weary, then suddenly I gave an exclamation of excitement, I smelled dirt, land, soil, I could smell it, not see it, how odd I thought, am I under some delusion? God forbid. I looked over the rim of the vessel, tried to examine what I thought I smelled. Directly in front of me, my forehead nearly touching the clouds—that is when I passed out, but when I had woken up sometime near evening, my craft had scraped the dirt of an island, I was safe on land now.
I dug in once I awoke, found water, and convinced myself I was on one of the Azores—I felt crumbled and dead for the next week, but I was alive all the same. No civilizations, no cousins or mighty cities to keep me cultivated in the times, no unhappy people to look at, and no great notion to go back from where I came from. I looked back at my boat; it would become the first roof of my new home. I quickly made a spear and a small craft to stand on, and went fishing, caught a walrus of all things, with a rope attached onto the spear, and I had my first grand meal in awhile. But in reflection, I must add, my first nights on the island were sleepless, I dreamed of the trip, and as I look back now on those first dreams: I see I had kept my sea craft’s nose in the wind—that was essential; the bow shifted to and fro—yes, I know that, swung from one side to the other nearly touching the water on its rim at times, I was sick most of the voyage, even wanted to die a few times. All life had gone, left me. I spoke to God, and my second mind, as I crossed this everlasting body of water, and its deep shadows. I told myself if I made it to an island, I shall never know what the others have thought, (and now as I look back, on all these years, all the better).
(Then as the old man stopped his contemplates, —Ramsey Cowley—he saw that a ship had settled in the bay—anchored, and several beings had disembarked, he heard a noise in the bushes, saw two of them in the far-off distance, perhaps three-hundred feet from him, he drew a revolver from his pocket, he had three bullets and before either one of the Neanderthals could grab him, and parade him up and down the streets of their metropolis, to show he was a captive, he put a bullet into his head, ruining the glorious seizer beyond repair.)
Sylvania and the Saber Tooth
Dying, Ramey’s thoughts went back to Sylvania, his one and only love, beyond being a soldier, the all powerful romance he had as a youth, beyond the inhospitalities of the world, was her devotion to him; but it was of course a childhood to early teenage romance. (There he laid, a half dozen Neanderthals looking over his last moments on earth, his last breaths, lay quiet, motionless all mauling him, wanting a trophy, fighting over his few craps of cloths. A bullet in his head, but still the heart beating, the bullet didn’t penetrate the brain, but life now was being crushed out of him by the beasts—little by little.)
His readings had taught him much, but termination, it was different, practically unknown to man, and a book or the beast could not teach him, no one could teach him until that fatal moment had arrived for him to personally taste it. As a few of the Neanderthals walked about, others joined them, walking slowly around him.
He remembered Sylvania, upon the beach; they had swam like a deer, and only in their own skins (they often had done that). She had taken off on her own that day after they had swam back to the beachhead, and after a while Ramsey had heard something pacing in the jungle, and its uttering fiendish cries, and found a large glaring cat, in a most malevolent manner, in an attack mode, and Sylvania adjacent to the beast. Such saber tooth cats were not plentiful in the jungles, but the few that were there, they had eaten up many of the inhabitants of the local villages, and even attacked some of the Neanderthals, where they came from we didn’t know, but they were extremely familiar to the Neanderthals, as if they had reared them and planted them, easily procure prey, to eat us, their natural fearsome neighbor, for the most part, the Neanderthals were bold and fearless when it came to the tigers and such cats, but they didn’t always win the battle. But this day, I shook my head; I was going to fight it. I was puzzled on how just to kill the cat, I had only a spear, but like him, I circled around him as he did to Sylvania—mimicking him nearly if not making him dizzy or in a near trance mode which confused him, blurred his vision possibly, awaiting my moment, half concealed behind foliage, thus, I saw his yellow mane only, and he could only see me slightly, and I stalked him majestically, as he did her. It is needless to state all that I thought during these moments—I no longer have time nor ability to think so far back, or talk so long, I only have a second or two of life left in me, but the beast made a hasty retreat, fearing my attack was not predictable.
That day I was determined to die for her, I miss her now; I have missed her for half a century. She had no substitute, I’m sure she married and has grandchildren now, once I became confined to the island, there were no opportunities, or perhaps desires to leave.
“Is he not dead yet?” questioned one of the Neanderthals.
At the gesture of the leading Neanderthal, the several that were around Ramsey’s body, came to a halt, a few paces from him. Then, in deep tones, more like mutters, the leader replied in a tongue not intelligible to humankind, “Stomp him to death!” (And they did.)
Notes: No: 657 (Part One “The Great Neanderthal,” written: 12-31-2010). No: 658/ Part two written 1-1-2011 “Sylvania and the Saber Tooth”
Copyright © 2011 Copyright by D.L. Siluk “The World-Old”