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Lord of the Caves Part 7

Oh-see-rah dropped to his knees and grabbed his spear thrower. Slapping a spear in, he peered into the night. “Come closer, and you will taste of my spear!”

“Oh-see-rah? Is that you?” His brother’s voice. Hah-nah-pah was a winter younger.

Oh-see-rah dropped his spear thrower and stood. “Where’s your torch?”

Hah-nah-pah chuckled. “I smothered it. I didn’t know who was fishing in the middle of the night.”

Oh-see-rah told him about the pair of T-Rexes.

Hah-nah-pah lit his torch with Oh-see-rah’s. “At dusk I spoke with the others. We believe the Mountain Folk lured the pair of Terrible Thunderers to our wooded dale. They have a nest at the end of the creek, just before it empties into the river.”

Expecting the T-Rexes, Oh-see-rah glanced over his shoulder. “Why lure them here?”

“We Dell Folk have fine caves. High in the mountains, it is cold, and the caves are hard to find, as is food. They often burrow into the earth and eat all manner of crawling beasties.”

“Let us do something about the Terrible Thunderers first.” Oh-see-rah waved his torch. “Fire terrifies them.”

Hah-nah-pah aimed his torch at the mountains. “We shall drive the Terrible Thunerers off and then make the Mountain Folk sorry they ever crawled out of their little spider holes.”

Oh-see-rah held his dripping hands out. “I couldn’t hunt at dusk, so I need to fish.”

Hah-nah-Pah shoved his torch into the ground. “Let me help.”

They noodled until the bag would hold no more fish.

“That’s enough,” said Oh-see-rah.

Hah-nah-pah scooped up both torches. “I’ll help you.”

“Thank you.” Oh-see-rah was glad to have help. The bag of whiskered fish was indeed heavy.

They walked in silence, no point in drawing attention—saber-toothed tigers and dire wolves and cave bears relished a moonless night—they all had a keen sense of smell and good ears that made up for blindness.

They came to the cave. While Oh-see-rah told his woman, Ee-sha-nah, about the fishing, Hah-nah-pah explored the back of the cave.

Hah-nah-pah circled, letting his torch shine on the cave walls. “Do you realize how huge this cave is?”

Everyone stared, even the little ones.

Oh-see-rah hadn’t thought about that part of the cave in a long time. “This is cave is big enough for half the dell.”

“Yes,” said Hah-nah-pah. “Will you allow me and my family to live here?”

“Of course. We can protect each other.” Oh-see-rah hadn’t asked his mate. “Ee-shee-na, do you agree?”

“Yes!”

“Thank you,” said Hah-nah-Pah. “I shall bring my family over right away.”

“Let me help you.” Oh-see-rah thought of the T-Rexes. “But we still have a problem with the pair of Terrible Thunderers.”

“Men! Let me show you how to do it.” Eee-shee-nah grabbed two cold torches and stuck them in the fire. “Follow me.”

With her leading, both men followed her. She marched toward the cave’s mouth with a torch in each hand, sooty smoke streaming out. Oh-see-rah did not know what she had in mind as she circled around the paling stakes.

Several paces from the stakes, she halted and plunged the end of both torches into the earth. “Now go bring your brother’s family over. No Terrible Thunderer will walk over two flames.”

Oh-see-rah hugged her. “Great thinking.”

“Men!” She hugged him back. “Hurry back.”

Torches in hand, the two men rushed into the night.

Halfway there, something yelled, YOWL.

TO BE CONTINUED

Copyright 2021 Charles Suddeth

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Lord of the Caves Part 6

The T-Rex buck halted, leaning back on its tree-like hind legs, mouth open wide.

Oh-see-rah’s arm went limp and his heart thundered as he slowly backed toward the cave’s mouth. Though the doe stared at him, she moved not a muscle.

The buck was closest and was trembling—afraid of the flaming spear. Oh-see-rah wished he could light this spear. He wanted to smile, but that might enrage the beast, so he continued backing up. Living through this night was a sweet prospect.

Oh-see-rah’s calf bumped into a paling stake. Slowly working his leg around the sharp point, he kept his spear ready in case either beast gave into their urges and attacked.

Once on the safe side of the paling stakes, he turned around and tiptoed into the cave, tossing a few sticks onto the front cave fire to make sure the T-Rexes saw it and wouldn’t try to break into the cave.

Ee-shee-nah was watching. “If they’re stalking you at sundown, it’s going to be a long night.”

He dropped his spear onto his sleeping fur. “A long night without being able to find food.”

She shrugged. “I have a few things stored. We’ll be all right tonight.”

He added sticks to the inside fire and hugged his four offspring. If one of the T-Rexes got him, his offspring would surely perish.

Ee-she-na fixed their sundown meal: a porridge of blackberries, walnuts, and chopped roots. Though he liked his meat, this was tasty.

Then he checked the outside. The blessed darkness had returned. T-Rexes hated the night—they couldn’t find prey and were subject to attack from men and beasts who could see well in the dark.

He gathered his throwing spear and other gear.

“Is it wise to leave the cave?” Ee-shee-na asked.

“Only fools perish from hunger.”

She eyed him without replying.

He kissed her cheek. “I will be careful.”

She smiled.

He lit a torch, grabbed what he needed, tiptoed to the paling stakes, and halted. The night was as dark as an unlit cave—Lady Moon must’ve fled into the clouds. He listened—the calls of winged beasts filled the air—they would not be about if T-Rexes were nearby. Just to be sure, he sniffed—just the night fog, but it masked most smells. It also meant the many beasts out about could not find his odor and hunt him.

He stepped out of cave and halted again, his shoulders rubbing against the mountain’s rock side. Nothing so far. Though he hankered for a fat hare, he stood no chance of finding one, let alone bagging it. The creek was not far, and he could fish without the use of his eyes.

He missed the dusk with other men and women hunting and gathering food and firewood. Whispering to each other. Though he hadn’t spotted other torches, he didn’t blame them. They likely were in their caves, bellies full, warming beside a fire, telling stories, being with their mates and families.

His torchlight frightened a squirrel that skittered from tree to tree in a circle around him. Though a roasted squirrel would do nicely, he didn’t care to have the night swallow his spear.

He heard the gurgle of the rocky creek long before he reached it, his torch barely shining on the slow flowing water. A deer coming for a drink would’ve made a nice catch, but the torch likely scared them off.

Sticking the torch into the ground behind him to frighten attackers, he stuck both hands in the chilly waters and noodled for a while, his fingers grappling around a whiskered-fish. He yanked it out of the water. Though it wriggled and fought back, he crammed it into his bag and noodled again.

His hands hurt from the icy water, but he needed food for his family. Leaning forward, he shoved his hands deeper into the murky waters.

A branch snapped behind him. He started.

Where did he put his spear?  

Whirling around, he felt for a stone, anything to defend himself with. Nothing. He rose to his feet and peered into the vast blackness.

Determined to survive, he clenched his fists.

Another branch snapped.

TO BE CONTINUED

Copyright 2021 Charles Suddeth

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Lord of the Caves Part 5

Lord of the Caves Part 5

The doe held still, her eyes fixed on him, yet she made no attempt to attack. She could eat him with one bite—perhaps she had eaten her fill. His bare belly rubbing against the barbed grass, he lay still, not daring to breathe. Ever so slowly, he crawled backwards, still on his belly, one or both eyes fixed on her.

She just stood a few paces away, unmoving as if she were terrified of him, a puny man the size of a T-Rex hatchling. If ever he made it back to his cave in one piece, he would offer up thanks and a smudge to Lord Sky and Lady Earth.

Then it dawned him—on his back was a spear thrower and two spears. She spotted them. Fire was no doubt a strange and frightening thing to her. She expected fire to spout from the spear thrower. Oh-see-rah grinned. Good.

Ever so slowly, he reached for the spear thrower and a spear as he wriggled backwards through the grass. When he was far away enough that the doe couldn’t reach him without moving forward, he fitted the spear onto the thrower. If she chose to leap, she could land on top of him in the twinkling of an eye. So be it.

He rose to his knees. Though she stared at him as if he were her next meal, she moved not a muscle. He gulped, a knot forming in his throat. She could still lunge and swallow him—he would throw his spear, but it would only annoy her and not even slow her down.

Kneeling, he took a deep breath and rose, spear thrower ready. Staring at him, she held still, even her short front legs dangling and waving in the evening breeze like tree limbs, the setting sun glinting off her green feathers. Her mouth was closed tightly—she was terrified of his flaming spear. Good—maybe he would live long enough to reach the cave’s safe harbor.

He took a step back. Watched her as she held as still as rock. Listening to the rustling of the trees in the gentle breeze, he took another step back. A few more steps, and he would leap for the cave’s mouth. Kiss his family, hug them, cry for joy.

Out of the corner of his eye, he caught movement—the buck had returned and no doubt was ready to crush, kill, and eat him alive. Oh-shee-rah turned and ran, his legs pumping faster than he thought possible.

ROOOAAAR!

The buck raced toward him. He could hear trees crushing beneath the mighty T-Rex feet, the ground bursting and breaking apart from the weight. A T-Rex could run faster than a winged creature could fly.

The ground beneath Oh-see-rah’s feet quaked as the rumble of the buck’s pounding feet filled the air. Its fetid sour stench gagging Oh-see-rah, making him want to retch.

ROOOAAAR!

If he was going to die, he’d go down fighting, not running like a frightened cave mouse. He turned around and aimed for the buck’s good eye.

ROOOAAAR!

The buck wiggled his short arms in rage as drool leaked out of his no doubt burned mouth. His teeth were as long as a man’s arm and sharper than an obsidian blade. Its deep red tongue stuck out as if trying to taste Oh-see-rah.

Oh-see-rah aimed, waiting a moment for it to get in range of his spear thrower. Even if he hit the beast’s eye, Oh-see-rah would surely die, crushed underfoot or bitten in two or swallowed alive. Old Man Death, come and get me!

ROOOAAAR!

The good green eye stared at him, rage and hatred seemingly filling the air. Oh-see-rah pulled his arm back and aimed his spear. His last thought was of Ee-shee-nah’s sweet face.

TO BE CONTINUED

Copyright 2021 Charles Suddeth

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ROOOAR! The buck opened his jaws and pressed against the paling stakes.

Lord of the Caves Part 4

            Oh-see-rah had tumbled to the ground and rolled on his side toward the fire. He spread his arms and legs until he halted. Springing to his feet, he crouched and gazed at the T-Rex buck, its jaws opened wide enough for a man to walk in. It gnawed on a paling stake on its right side.

Oh-see-rah had to do something before the buck figured out how to slip into the cave. The buck hadn’t eaten fire yet. He’d give it a reason to forget its sore eye. Oh-see-rah stuck a spear into the fire until red-hot flames poured out in all directions. Slamming the spear into the spear thrower, he danced in a circle.

The buck stopped gnawing and stared at Oh-see-rah’s dance. He stopped dancing and leapt forward.

ROOOAAAR! The buck opened his impossibly huge mouth.

Oh-see-rah halted and hurled the spear, flames shooting out in a circle of fire from the spear. He spun around and dropped to the ground, hoping to evade the swinging tail this time.

ROOOAAAR! ROOOAAAR!

Clawing at the ground, Oh-see-rah stopped his roll at the edge of the campfire and glanced toward the cave’s mouth. The buck was pivoting, its long tail slinging sideways.

Oh-see-rah clawed at the ground and pulled himself in a circle, his bare toes singeing in the fire. The buck’s tail raked the campfire, scattering embers in all directions.

ROOOAAAR!  ROOOAAAR! ROOOAAAR!

Ignoring the agony in his toes, Oh-see-rah pulled up into a crouching position. The buck stomped away, its smoking tail quickly vanishing with it. Oh-see-rah hunkered down for few moments. His guess was that both T-Rexes had tromped down to Blackberry Creek to ease their burns, but the creek wasn’t that far.

He rose and checked on his family. Ee-shee-na had already moved the furs and the little ones back, far past Tiger Rock. He joined her and told her what had happened.

She nodded. “I could see and hear most of it. You now have two foes.”

“I hope they’re in so much pain they’ll flee back to their nest. It’ll be dusk soon, so they won’t stay long.” He didn’t have to tell her, but T-Rexes didn’t like the dark, too many cliffs and too many places for other beasts to hide from them.

She shivered. “I don’t want to ever leave this cave.”

“We don’t have much food.” A small spring trickled down and out of the cave so water would not be a problem.

“What can we do?” She asked, the four little ones looking on with wide eyes.

“Let me find out if they’re gone.” He headed toward the cave’s mouth.

“We’ll build a new campfire.” Ee-shee-na began gathering kindling and large sticks.

He found a spear thrower and two flint-tipped spears, strapping them to his bare back. They would do little to slow down an enraged T-Rex, but it was the best he could do.

He reached the mouth and halted. He listened. Only the evening breeze whispering through the trees. He peered out—nothing but an orange haze from the sun trying to flee from the clouds. He sniffed—smoke from his campfire clogged his nostrils.

On hands and knees, he crawled past the paling stakes. The grass and weeds had been flattened and uprooted by the two T-Rexes. A squirrel sounded off far above him in a mighty chestnut tree.

He halted. Squirrels often warned each other about danger. He wished he could understand Squirrel Tongue. He again watched, listened, sniffed. Nothing. Was he being too careful? He smiled. No, not when telling with wily T-Rexes.

Again, he crept forward. The woods looked too dark, but too soon for sundown. Silence overtook the woods—his heart thudding in his ears. He sniffed—a smoky, burned stench. The campfire? He hoped.

He inched forward and halted, his breath going out as he burrowed into the grass.

Staring at him, the doe was only a couple paces away.

TO BE CONTINUED

Copyright 2021 Charles Suddeth

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More writing ideas

This is 2015 NASA shot of Pluto, showing what is believed to be a volcano that shoots ice instead of lava, I assume because of the intense cold. Story possibilities abound here.

pluto volcano 15

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