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What would you do?

I have often wondered what I would do with a home intruder.

A man I once knew joined the army in the 50s. He decided to surprise his parents. Got home in the middle of the night, snuck into bed. Woke up with a shotgun aimed at his head.

His parents had moved. He spent the night in jail, but the charges were dropped.

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Lord of the Caves

Lord of the Caves Part 30

Oh-see-rah grinned and reached to snuff out the rush candle. Giggling, Ee-shee-nah yanked his breechcloth off.

Dousing the rush candle, he dove onto her and pulled the sleeping fur over them. With no one nearby, they made lots of noise.

It was the best day he’d had in many a day. He kissed her and fell asleep.

He woke with Ee-shee-nah massaging his back.

“We need to check on our offspring,” she said.

They dressed and snuck back to the main part of the cave.

“Two more families just joined us,” Hah-nah-pah said.

“As long as we have room,” Oh-see-rah replied.

“I found them a place.” Hah-nah-pah headed for his sleeping furs.

On-see-rah checked on the guards and returned to his sleeping furs. Oo-tah-nah, her family, Ee-shee-nah, and their offspring were waiting.

Lol-non jumped up. “May I explore?”

“Where?” Oh-see-rah didn’t need to go hunting hm down again.

“Inside the cave.” Lol-non glanced toward the cave mouth. “I’ve had enough of outside for a while.”

“Stay out of trouble.” Oh-see-rah thought: What could happen to them inside the cave?

Lol-non dashed toward the back of the cave, the Boy tagging along.

Oh-see-rah slipped under the furs and prepared to catch up on his sleep.

“Help!” womenfolk yelled.

Oh-see-rah sat.

Shrieking, womenfolk and offspring fled toward the front of the cave. Oh-see-rah stood to see what the matter was.

RHOOOAAARRRRH.  A giant cave bear came from within the cave and gazed at everyone as if it couldn’t decide who to eat first.

“Herd the folks into our cubbyhole,” Oh-see-rah told Ee-shee-nah. “The alligator might still be outside.”

“Follow me!” Ee-shee-nah yelled as she fled into the cubbyhole.

“You know the drill!” shouted Oh-see-rah. “Warriors grab torches. Womenfolk, get your spear throwers ready.”

The offspring huddled inside the cubbyhole as a line of womenfolk readied their spear throwers. A line of warriors in front of the womenfolk held torches, ready to hurl at the cave bear that was so tall its head almost grazed the ceiling.

The cave bear peered at the torches, and then looked to its left. Lol-non tried to sneak around the cave’s edges. He was unarmed, but even a full grown man couldn’t fight it.

RHOOOAAARRRRH. The cave bear leapt at Lol-non.

“Torches!” yelled Oh-see-rah.

His eyes wide with terror, Lol-non’s wee legs pumped hard as he headed for them.

“Now!” Oh-see-rah yelled.

As if just one warrior, everyone hurled torches. Countless flaming torches smacked into the cave bear’s face and chest, littering the cave floor with sizzling torches.

After trying to swat at the torches it halted and glared at the warriors.

Lol-non put on a final burst of speed and joined the warriors.

Oh-see-rah scooped him up and handed him to Oo-tah-nah. The cave bear swiveled and faced them.

“Spear throwers ready!” hollered Oh-see-rah.

The cave bear turned its back on them.

“My brother!” squeaked Lol-non.

Then Oh-see-rah spotted the Boy standing on the far side of the cave bear. He was obviously too frightened to move. His back was to the rock wall—if he went left or right the cave bear would eat him while everyone watched.

Oh-see-rah darted forward, grabbed a still burning torch, and stopped. “Hey, cave bear!”

RHOOOAAARRRRH.

The cave bear swiveled around and charged Oh-see-rah.

TO BE CONTINUED

Copyright 2021 Charles Suddeth

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Lord of the Caves Part 29

Lord of the Caves Part 29

“Change guards,” said Oh-see-rah as he helped the two Wee men off the Flat Stone. “I need help with the paling stake,” he added.

The womenfolk started with the morning meal as the men dug a hole for a new stake.

As Oh-see-rah oversaw the installation of the paling stake, one of the guards approached.

“Any sign of the alligator?” Oh-see-rah asked.

The guard chuckled. “We’re calling him Old Smoke Snout. No sign of him.”

Soon the meal was ready. As heroes of the day, Lol-non and the Boy ate first. Grilled whisker fish with baked wild potatoes and sliced chestnuts.

After all had eaten their fill, Hah-nah-pah got his flute out while Oh-koh-roh got his drum tuned up.

Oo-tah-nah stood on the Flat Stone and sang:

Oh, the Lady of the Creek rules our way

The Lady of the Creek guides our way

The Lady of the Creek shows us the way

Lol-non and the Boy led the dancing line, Ee-shee-nah and Oh-see-rah next, men and women following, all the offspring at the end. Their feet pounded in time with the drum as their bodies swayed to the flute.

After the line circled once, Oo-tha-nah sang:

Oh the Lord of the Stone keeps us strong

The Lord of the Stone lets us live

The Lord of the Stones feeds us each and everyone

The line continued, everyone clapping to the beat, some of the womenfolk singing, too. Lol-non waved his arms to and fro as if he were the wee Lord of the Caves. The offspring were dancing in little circles.

Ooh-tah-nah continued singing:

Oh the Dell Folk never fear anyone

The Dell Folk never fear anything

The Dell Folk are wise past their years

Oo-tah-nah quit singing and picked Lol-non up, hugging him and swinging him in a circle. The Boy stuck his lip out. She picked him up with her free hand and slung him over her shoulder as she laughed and spun around.

Everyone hugged and sat around the grand fire, talking and laughing. Men passed a skin full of fermented blackberry juice.

Oh-see-rah and Ee-shee-nah kissed.

“Come with me,” she whispered.
            He glanced at their offspring.

“Oo-tah-nah will watch them,” she replied.

She led him to a side of the cave on the far side of the spring. In a cubbyhole between rocks, she had laid sleeping furs down. A rush candle glowed softly.

Oh-see-rah reached for her tunic.

She giggled and swung away from him. He shrugged and stood still.

Her eyes gleaming, she wiggled, and her tunic dropped to the floor.

TO BE CONTINUED

Copyright 2021 Charles Suddeth

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Lord of the Caves Part 28

Lord of the Caves Part 28

As the two guards hurled spears, Oh-see-rah shouted, “You know the drill!”

The two spears bounced off the alligator’s neck as it leapt, landing just in front of a paling stake.

Oh-see-rah and the other warriors lit torches as the womenfolk loaded their spear throwers. The two guards scurried inside.

The alligator gripped the paling stake with its teeth and yanked it out of the ground.

“Get in position,” Oh-see-rah screamed.

Including Oh-see-rah, the warriors formed a semi-circle only a few steps away from the lunging crocodile.

A moment later, the womenfolk stationed themselves behind the warriors.

“Count of three,” yelled Oh-see-rah. “One!”

WHOOOOOAN! The alligator roared as it invaded the cave.

“Two!” yelled Oh-see-rah.

The alligator raced straight at Oh-see-rah. He gazed right into its deadly eyes.

“Three!” yelled Oh-see-rah.

The warriors flung torches at the alligator and knelt on the ground. The torches slammed into the alligator’s head. It thrashed its head back and forth, torches flying in all directions, warriors ducking.

His knees buried in sand, Oh-see-rah pulled his knife out and shouted, “Spears!”

Oh-see-rah waited with bated breath—either his plans and drilling worked, or he would be dead in moments.

Spear after spear flew over Oh-see-rah’s head, all of them hitting its head and chest.

WHOOOOOAN! The alligator slowed but kept charging.

Oh-see-rah gritted his teeth and prepared for death. He whispered, “Dark Lady, I come to thee.”

The womenfolk fled into the cave to guard their offspring as the warriors maintained their line.

WHOOOOOAN! The alligator opened its jaws and headed for Oh-see-rah.

He held his knife before him—it was all he could do. He was close enough to smell its fetid breath.

Lol-non and the Boy stood right behind Oh-see-rah. He wanted to tell them to save themselves, but he didn’t have time.

Two tiny flaming spears soared over Oh-see-rah’s head, each blazing spear landing in one of the alligator’s nostrils.

Smoke pouring from its nostrils, the alligator, slid to a halt.

Oh-see-rah jumped backwards, bumping into Lol-non and the Boy.

The alligator pivoted in the sand.

Fearing its tail, Oh-see-rah swept up Lol-non and the Boy in his arms and jumped backward.

The tail swung around. Folks screamed.

Sand slammed into Oh-see-rah’s face. Lol-non and the Boy had stuck their faces onto his shoulder so they could see. Oh-see-rah could barely see anything, but the alligator had fled. “Guards, make sure the alligator is gone!” he shouted.

Both guards hurried out of the cave as Oh-see-rah stood, Lol-non and the Boy still in his arms. “Anyone hurt?”

No replies. That was a blessing from the Lords and Ladies. The guards soon returned shaking their heads.

Oh-see-rah marched to the Big Flat Stone and stood Lol-non and the Boy on it.

Standing behind them he yelled, “Hail our wee heroes! They saved us from the alligator’s jaws!”

A mighty shout arose, “Hooray Lol-non! Hooray Boy!”

Lol-non and the Boy raised their stubby arms in victory.

TO BE CONTINUED

Copyright 2021 Charles Suddeth

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Lord of the Caves Part 27

“Oh-koh-rah and Hah-nah-pah, come with me,” Oh-see-rah commanded.

Spear throwers and torches in hand, they quickly joined him.

He filled them in. “Fan out and we’ll go to the creek in search of Lol-non.”

Oh-see-rah didn’t have to point out that Lol-non was likely already in the alligator’s belly. Did the wee man have no sense in his wee head?

Between the torches and the moon, Oh-see-rah could see a few paces ahead. Even the blazing bugs were hiding. Oh-see-rah took the center, Oh-koh-rah on the right and Hah-nah-pah to the left. They slowly combed through a meadow favored by deer.

“Come quickly!” shouted Oh-koh-rah.

Oh-see-rah rushed toward Oh-koh-rah to help, though he had little stomach to view the remains of Lol-non. Curses on the alligator kind. The stink of fish hit Oh-see-rah. Either he was closer to the creek than he realized, or the alligator was busy eating their fish. He slowed and peered through the dark.

“See the wee lad?” Hah-nah-pah asked.

“I’m looking,” Oh-koh-rah replied.

Oh-see-rah tiptoed to the fish. No alligator.

The net full of dead fish wiggled toward Oh-see-rah. He jumped back.

“It’s me.” Lol-non’s voice.

Smiling, Oh-see-rah picked up one of the nets.

Lol-non stood up. “I am sure happy to see you all.”

“Why are you hiding under the fish?” Oh-see-rah asked.

“Hiding from the alligator.”

Oh-see-rah hoisted Lol-non to his shoulder. “Why are the fish away from the creek?”

Lol-non laughed. “You all ran off, so I tried to drag them to the cave. The alligator chased me, so I hid.”

“Lucky for you the alligator didn’t eat our fish…wait…why were you following us?” Oh-see-rah had a mind to spank him.

Lol-non squirmed. “I wanted to fish, too.”

Hah-nah-pah squeezed Lol-non’s calf. “You’ll make good bait.”

“Not funny.” Lol-non squirmed. “I rescued the fish for you all.”

“And that will save you a spanking from me,” Oh-see-rah said.

Hah-nah-pah and Oh-koh-rah grabbed the fish, and they headed back to the cave.

“Thank you for coming back for me,” said Lol-non. “It won’t happen again.”

“Be more careful,” Oh-see-rah ordered.

Lol-non sighed. “It is hard going from being a chief’s son to being not much bigger than a Dell Folk baby.”

Oh-see-rah squeezed Lol-non’s knees. “What are you complaining about? You get to ride around on the Lord of the Cave’s shoulders.”

“The cave!” Lol-non bucked his body.

Two guards with torches stood just outside the cave just as Oh-see-rah had ordered with the new safety drills. Oh-see-rah was so glad to reach the safety of Tiger Rock Cave he decided not to humiliate Lol-non with a spanking.

At the mouth of the cave, he handed Lol-non to Oo-tah-nah. “Here’s your baby man. Let him tell you what he did.”

Lol-non closed his eyes. “It won’t happen again.”

Oo-tah-nah shook her head. “Later, I will punish you.”

Lol-non winced.

Oh-see-rah stood on the Great Flat Rock and raised his hands high. “Listen up!” He told everyone about the whisker fish and the alligator. Then he told them about Lol-non saving their fish catch.

Everyone cheered, “Lol-non!”

AHOOOON! One of the guards sounded his ram’s horn.

AHOOOON! The other guard sounded his ram’s horn.

“You know the drill!” Oh-see-rah shouted.

Spear throwers ready, the two guards backed up to the paling stakes.

WHOOOOOAN! The alligator leapt at them.

TO BE CONTINUED

Copyright 2021 Charles Suddeth

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Lord of the Caves Part 26

Jaws opened impossibly wide, the alligator shot towards Oh-see-rah. Dropping his fishing line, he fled. Aimed right at him, the alligator’s enormous body blotted out the moon, making Oh-see-rah even blinder, making him move all the faster.

The others were yelling something, but Oh-see-rah couldn’t understand them as he waited for the alligator to slash his back open.

He barged into a blackberry bramble, countless thorns ripping his flesh, but he kept moving, desperate to evade those huge jaws and knife-like teeth. Where was the alligator? He glanced back—it had stopped, likely unwilling to rip into the thorns.

“Over here,” whispered Hah-nah-pah.

“Are you alone?” Oh-see-rah wished it wasn’t so very dark.

“We’re all here, waiting for you,” Hah-nah-pah replied.

Oh-see-rah went through a maze of bambles and joined him. They hurried off, the others joining them.

Oh-see-rah thought of the whisker fish. “Did anyone get the fish?”

Hoh-koh-rah chuckled. “We were too frightened to think of fish.”

Oh-see-rah sighed. “Now we have nothing for the morning meal.”

Hoh-koh-rah pointed left. “A bog over this ways has a good stand of cattails.”

“Why not? Better than starving.” Oh-see-rah veered left, the others keeping up with him.

Just in case something was lurking in the shadows, they scouted around the bog. Nothing.

“Go ahead,” said Oh-see-rah as he got his knife out.

WHOOOOOAN came from behind him.

He started and turned around. The alligator was racing toward him.

“Run,” yelled Oh-see-rah as he tapped one of the men on the shoulder.

The entire group bolted from the bog, the alligator scrambling after them. After a while, they could no longer see or hear the alligator.

Oh-see-rah slowed to a walk. “Halt. Did anyone gather cattails?”

Hah-nah-pah joined him. “No. But I’m tired of cattails.”

“We lost the alligator, so I suggest we stop at a blackberry patch and pick blackberries,” Oh-koh-rah said.

“Unless you picked blackberries in your brambles.” Hah-nah-pah laughed.

“No, I didn’t.” Oh-see-rah asked, “Does anyone know of a blackberry patch nearby?”

One of the new men raised his hand.

“Lead on,” said Oh-see-rah.

A short time later, the same man, said, “Look to your right at the cliff.”

“Hah-nah-pah, check for the alligator,” Oh-see-ra said as he led them to the blackberry vines.

Hah-nah-pah trotted off, soon returning. “No alligator. But we’re too far from water. And alligators don’t run far.”

Everyone started gathering blackberries. Oh-see-rah had made a meal off blackberries many a day, so the night was not a total waste of time.

WHOOOOOAN! Came from behind him.

“Run!” he yelled.

By then everyone had already fled, no one stopped running till they reached the cave’s welcome mouth.

As ordered by him, the two guards were on duty.

As Oh-see-rah passed the guards, he said, “An alligator chased us away from the blackberry patch. Watch out.”

Oh-se-rah and his men stopped just passed the paling stakes. Everyone was watching.

“Giant alligator,” he told them. “I think we lost it.”

Oo-tah-nah came to him. “Little Lol-non got out.”

“Why?”

“To follow you,” she replied. “He never came back.”

Out of the cave with the alligator on the prowl? Oh-see-rah grabbed a torch and a spear thrower.

TO BE CONTINUED

Copyright 2021 Charles Suddeth

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Lord of the Caves Part 25

Later, Oh-see-hah and Ee-shee-nah lay intertwined. He sighed and didn’t care if he ever slept.

Ee-shee-nah kissed his neck. “Get some sleep. I have work to do.”

She left and he rolled over. Snoozing felt so good.

He woke—someone had pulled his sleeping fur back. He blinked. A sly grin on his face, Lol-non sat beside him.

“What happened?” Oh-see-rah dearly wanted a little sleep.

Lol-non dangled a long bone-fishhook in his slender hand. “I made this for you.”

Someone chuckled, a deep, man’s chuckle. “Let’s go fishing,” said Hah-nah-pah.

Oh-see-rah tried to see the cave’s mouth. “Is it close to daybreak?”

Hah-nah-pah laughed. “No. It’s the dead of night. If you’d rather take care of this wee lad, I can—”

“I don’t need anyone tending to me!” Lol-non stood and shouted.

Oh-koh-rah appeared. “What’s wrong?”

Oh-see-rah thought it best to speak of other things. “You going fishing, too?”

Oh-koh-rah picked up Lol-non. “This wee man can be whisker fish bait.”

“Put me down.” Lol-non squirmed.

Still dangling him in midair, Oh-koh-rah said, “Thank you for the fishhook.”

Looking bored, Lol-non quit struggling. “I hope you catch lots of whisker fish.”

Oh-koh-rah lowered him to the ground, and he scampered away.

Oh-see-rah wanted to apologize to Lol-non, but the others were waiting. “Don’t be mean.”

Oh-koh-rah put his fingers to his lips. “Shh. I did that so he wouldn’t ask to go.”

Hah-nah-pah’s eyes sparkled. “We’ll have our arms full of whisker fish. The others are waiting for us.”

Oh-see-rah and group headed for the creek. The moon blessed their little trip as a possum crossed their path but ignored them as if it were Lord of the Forest. A bevy of bats glided overhead, countless little squeaks coming from them.

They soon reached the creek, spreading out so each man had space to find whisker fish. Oh-see-rah tied string to a piece of tree branch and one of Lol-non’s hooks to the other end. He hurled the hook end in so it would sink to the bottom.

Soon, he felt a tug on his line. He hauled in a fat whisker fish and tossed it into the net they brought. This was easier than noodling and far more enjoyable. In no time, he and the others had almost filled the net they’d brought.

Oh-see-rah would have to thank Lol-non for making his fishhooks.

Hah-nah-pah came to him. “The net is just about full.”

Oh-see-rah could almost taste broiled whisker fish. “Let me catch one more, then we can go.”

WHOOOOOAN, came from a distance.

“What was that?” Hah-nah-pah asked.

“Bullfrogs looking for a mate, I expect.” Oh-see-rah realized the fog was getting too thick to see. And why were the critters fleeing the forest? “Tell the others it’s time to go.”

Thrashing arose from the creek.

Probably ducks,” Oh-see-rah whispered as Hah-nah-pah tiptoed away. Oh-see-rah tried to see in the darkness but saw nothing.

WHOOOOOAN, closer this time.

Hoh-koh-rah joined Oh-see-rah and asked, “What is that?”

Oh-see-rah wasn’t sure. “It might be a bull moose.”

“Maybe we can land a moose, too,” Hoh-koh-rah whispered.

WHOOOOOAN. A giant alligator leapt out of the creek.

TO BE CONTINUED Copyright 2021 Charles Suddeth

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Lord of the Caves Part 24

Oh-see-rah gazed at little Lol-non. Maybe being small had messed with his mind.

“Don’t tell Oh-see-rah!” Lol-non cried.

Oh-see-rah decided to make a joke of it. Whatever had happened likely couldn’t be undone. “If he’s caused trouble, I’ll just use him for fish bait.”

His eyes wide, Lol-non went rigid.

“I was just kidding,” Oh-see-rah said.

Ee-shee-nah sighed. “Don’t be so mean. This tiny man happens to be the best flint knapper ever. Obsidian, quartz, too. Sharpest edges ever.”

Lol-non kept shaking his head.

Oh-see-rah grabbed him and stood him on a rock. “I hate knapping, and I don’t have time.”

His eyes returning to normal size, Lol-non gazed at Oh-see-rah.

“From now on, Lol-non will make your spearheads for you. Knives, too,” Oh-see-rah said. “But I expect you to keep him fed, especially when he gives you a sharp spearhead.”

Everyone stood and cheered, men, women, offspring.

“Can my brother help me?” asked Lol-non in a loud, squeaky voice.

“He certainly may.” Oh-see-rah picked the Boy up and stood him beside Lol-non. Though he didn’t even come up to Lol-non’s shoulders, Oh-see-rah hoped the Boy would either grow more or be able to help.

Lol-non put his arm around the Boy as a new round of cheers erupted.

Someone tapped Oh-see-rah on the shoulder.

“We have three families wanting to join us,” said Hah-nah-pah.

Oh-see-rah turned around. Three men, three women, and five little ones bowed. Lol-non and his brother stood with Oh-see-rah.

“Please stand,” said Oh-see-rah. “We have plenty of room for you here in Tiger Rock Cave.”

They stood.

“Are you the mighty Lord of the Caves?” the tallest man asked.

Oh-see-rah hadn’t realized how swiftly rumors fly. He nodded.

“Are those your sons?” the man asked.

Oh-see-rah shook his head. “They are Wee Folk who have joined us. They are now wee Dell Folk. They are the finest knappers ever.”

Hah-nau-pah joined them. “Please join us for our sundown meal. Broiled sunny fish, roasted sassafras cattails, and millet cakes with honey.”

Lol-non gazed up at Oh-see-rah. “May we eat, too?”

Oh-see-rah picked up both boys, one with each arm. “Of course.” He strode into the main room. “Newcomers feast first!”

He plopped the two Wee Folk near the food and stood on the Stone. He told of the Wee Folk helping him and of the newcomers. He raised his right hand and told about Bad Eye going over the cliff. Everyone cheered and hugged each other.

Whoever had gone fishing had done well—there was more than enough food to go around. Several women came to Oh-see-rah to show him their babies. He kissed each baby’s bare pate—the leader’s job, but he enjoyed it.

Hah-nah-pah played a lively tune as Oh-koh-rah drummed. Ee-shee-nah and two ladies danced around the big fire, their steps and hips in perfect time with the drum. As customary, they wore only flowers Everyone clapped as they circled.

After several times around the fire, the music and dancing quit. Ee-shee-nah whispered in Oh-see-rah’s ear, “Why don’t you nap, catch up on your sleep?”

He nodded—he was behind on his sleep. Waving at everyone, he headed for his sleeping fur. Ee-shee-nah had beat him there and lay under the furs. Her tunic lay on top of the furs.

“Oh, yes,” he said to himself as he crawled under the white cave bear fur and snuggled against her velvety side.

TO BE CONTINUED

Copyright 2021 Charles Suddeth

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A pterodactyl dove straight at him.

Lord of the Caves Part 23

Oh-see-rah pressed his body into the stone as much as he could as the pterodactyl aimed for him. Pulling his dagger out, he held it in front, hoping to at least slow down the flying reptile as he looked it in the eye.

It was big enough to carry him off, but he’d make the beast sorry.

A hail of spears shot toward the pterodactyl. It swerved sideways. 

When the beast glided away, Oh-see-rah almost let out a cheer. Maybe Hah-nah-pah would find a rope.

The pterodactyl circled back—it hadn’t been injured. Oh-see-rah groaned aloud.

Did his three companions have more spears? If not, he was about to become the pterodactyl’s meal.

This time it didn’t come in straight but glided along the cliff’s stone-bound walls. It was smart enough to evade another attack. It opened its jaws impossibly wide as it closed in on him.

Oh-see-rah’s fingers inched along the surface and found a stone. Slapping it in his palm, he drew his arm back to pitch it at the beast’s eyes. 

WHOOOOAH! It held its knife-like claws out.

Oh-see-rah hurled the stone. The pterodactyl didn’t slow down.

A storm of tiny spears rained down on the pterodactyl.

Wee Folk spears? Too tiny, too late.

The pterodactyl dove down and sped away. A cheer arose—both big voices and tiny voices.

“Hooray for Wee Folk!” Oh-see-rah cried out.

Hah-nah-pah gazed down at him. “We’re tossing the net down.”

“What about the pterodactyl?”

Hah-nah-pah chuckled. “It won’t be back. It is at war with the Wee Folk, and it is terrified of them.”

The net quickly lowered.

When Oh-see-rah could grab it, he hollered, “Low enough.”

“We’re ready,” Hah-nah-pah cried back.

Oh-see-rah hurried up the net. He never wanted to see another cliff.

The Chief of the Wee Folk was waiting, a crown of purple flowers on his head, but no clothes.

Oh-see-rah bowed. “Thank you for rescuing me.”

The Chief bowed back. “Thank you for ridding us of the Terrible Thunderer. Will you stay and eat with us?”

Oh-see-rah had a hunch the Wee Folk had been unable to gather food because of the T-Rex. “Thank you, but we need to get back before dark.”

The Boy tapped Oh-see-rah’s knee. “Can I live with the Lord of the Caves?”

“He may live with me and his big brother,” Oo-tah-nah said.

“That would be up to the Chief.” Oh-see-rah added, “We have plenty of room.”

The Chief patted the Boy on the head. “Do whatever she says, or I will deal with you.”

“Yes, Papa.” The Boy beamed.

Oo-tah-nah picked him up and hoisted him on Oh-see-rah’s shoulders.

“You and the Wee Folk are welcome to visit us any time you want,” Oh-See-Rah said.

“Thank you.” The Chief bowed.

Oh-see-rah marched off, the other three Dell Folk following him. Dusk was approaching, and they hadn’t brought torches, so Oh-see-rah kept a brisk pace even with the Boy riding his shoulders.

They approached the cave as the sun burrowed into the trees for the night. A hoot-owl complained about them. Oh-see-rah was glad to get home—catch a meal, maybe nap, some time with Ee-shee-nah.

Lol-non riding her hip, Ee-shee-nah waited alone at the cave’s mouth. Oh-see-rah rushed to give her a hug. Lol-non’s little eyes looked scared. Why?

Ee-shee-nah tweaked Lol-non’s cheek. “You’ll never guess what this wee man did.”

TO BE CONTINUED

Copyright 2021 Charles Suddeth

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Lord of the Caves Part 22

Oh-see-rah tumbled backwards as the T-Rex charged. With the monster jaws only a couple paces away, he fell off the cliff’s sharp lip. He swung his arms and legs around, trying to get a foothold or a handhold.

The T-Rex reached the cliff, but it was going too fast to stop. It dipped over the edge. Oh-see-rah hit a shallow ledge outcropping of stone and stopped falling.

LLLOOOAAANNN! The T-Rex plunged down as Oh-see-rah clung to the crumbing stone. The T-Rex fell past him.

Its tail slapped him, whacking him off his perch. Screaming, he tumbled. A moment later, he clutched onto a scrawny pine growing out of the canyon’s rock walls.

He heard a huge splash— the T-Rex hit the river. At least it was out of his life, if he didn’t join it.

“Hey.” Hah-nah-pah’s voice.

“Down here,” Oh-see-rah called out.

Four faces peered down at him. Beneath his feet was space, the river far, far below.

Oh-see-rah’s arms were getting weak. “I don’t have footholds or handholds. It this tree breaks—”

“I’ll get something.” The Boy’s babyish voice.

All four faces disappeared.

Hah-nah-pah’s face showed again. “The Boy found us a long tree limb. We’re lowering it, and the three of us will haul you up.”

They immediately lowered the long pine branch.

“When I count to three, grab the branch,” said Hah-nah-pah.

The Boy squealed. “Look!”

The thunder of feet shook the cliff. More T-Rexes? Oh-see-rah was about to let go of the little pine. Maybe he could fall a short way and hit another tree growing out of the side.

Oh-see-rah let go of the tree limb and rocked back into the little pine.

A T-Rex stared at him. The doe had come to find her mate. Oh-see-rah smiled back at her. He assumed the others were hiding. He was thankful the doe’s front legs were too short to grab him.

She slapped the tree limb with her head, and it shot down.

As Oh-see-rah fell back, the bark scraped his arms and legs. His body sliding downwards, he clawed at the pine tree to stop his descent, but his hands found only soft, long needles.

Just before a scream tore out of his lungs, he hit a stone sticking out and stopped sliding but was unwilling and unable to peer downward. He almost laughed—the Lord of the Caves was afraid of heights.

Hah-hah-pah looked down and waved. “You all right?”

“Great view down here. The long branch is gone.”

“The Boy has an idea. Can you hold on for a while?”

Oh-see-rah sighed. He was in such dire straits he was dependent on a baby-sized boy. “As long as the doe doesn’t return.”

“She left. We think she’s going to the river to mourn over Bad Eye.”

Oh-see-rah couldn’t help but smile. At least it was out of the way. “It will be getting dark before long. Save yourselves. Go home.”

Hah-nah-pah chuckled. “We can’t go home without the Lord of the Caves. Before long, we’ll be sitting in front of a cave fire, feasting on broiled rabbit. I shall even get my flute out.”

O-see-rah didn’t reply. Hah-nah-pah was trying to ease the pain of dying. He wondered if he could climb down—no, the T-Rex doe was down there, and she would exact revenge on him. He was doomed.

The Boy stuck his little head over the cliff’s edge. “I brought you some help.”

“Thanks.” Oh-see-rah forced back a laugh, no use hurting the Boy’s feelings. He was cute enough.

A bluebird buzzed him, no doubt surprised to see a man perched like a bird. It was chirping nonstop as if he could understand its tongue. Perhaps it wanted a handout—he wished he had something to feed it.

Then it shut-up and zoomed away. Anyway, it was an odd place to be begging for food.

WHOOOOAH!

Oh-see-rah looked around to see where the sound was coming from.

WHOOOOAH!

He looked straight up and almost choked.

A pterodactyl dove straight at him.

TO BE CONTINUED

Copyright 2021 Charles Suddeth

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