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Monday, 26 November 2012

SI

This is an extract from a novel I'm writing. SI will be the baby being born.

Inga took a step closer, carefully placing his barefoot on the undergrowth, which remained silent. He now felt in range to release his spear from his firing position; the spear flew with deadly intent and reached its unsuspecting target within seconds. The target yelped and fell to the ground, seriously wounded by the shot. Inga sprang forward, then sprinted to his fallen quarry.

His prey, upon hearing this advancement, fearfully struggled to its feet to make haste a possible escape: the spear dangled from its hind-quarters dragging on the ground as it speedily ran. Inga was in hot pursuit, thinking fast on his feet as he navigated the trees and forest floor at speed. His prey quickly made some ground on him, but then its injury began to take a hold, and it rapidly slowed. It tried in vain to keep on running, but not even its fear could muster the incapacitated limb to respond! It finally fell, and gasped for breath as it waited its fate!

It was in a clearing, and soon the beaming sun shining over it darkened into Inga’s shadow, then into Inga himself. It frightfully stared up at Inga,  and was surprised to see an expression of grievance upon his face! Inga felt sorrow for the animal, and his eyes welled up with tears as he searched for a suitable rock! After some rummaging through the grass, he found what he was looking for, then returned to his prey. He knelt on the ground beside it, then stroked its soft, warm neck as he sighed. Inga chanted a prayer:

‘I pray, oh sun god, hear I. Thank you food for tribe.’

When he was finished, he lifted the rock above him with both hands, then smashed it down into the creatures head; blood splashed out of the pierced skull. Inga briefly looked away from the horror of it all, then chanted another prayer:

‘I pray, oh sun god, hear I. I am a warrior of the Ashanti tribe. Inga kill deer, take spirit of deer!’

Shortly after, he felt blood begin to soak his knees, so he finished his prayer and stood up. He stooped down to dip his finger in the blood, then drew a circle on each cheek representing the sun and moon.

‘I pray, oh sun god, hear I. Protect I. Keep I warm with your heat. Guide I with your light.’

He pulled out his spear, then scanned the clearing and forest for any possible signs of danger! A patch of tall grass to his left caught his attention moving, but it was just swaying in a breeze. He liked the butterflies that danced above it, and the array of designs and colours they had on display. Flies were beginning to irritate him, attracted by the dead body: he swiped at them, stunning one with a smack that sent it hurtling to the ground: Inga quickly stamped on it. He picked up the deer by its two back feet, then set on his way, dragging the body behind him.

Before long he picked up the trail that had brought him to this particular hunting ground, a stream that would lead him to a river, which would lead him to his village. He stepped into it, shuddering at first at its chill, then to appreciate its coolness as the heat of the day flared. He dropped the body, which briefly coloured the flowing water red, then placed his spear on the embankment. Inga sat on his haunches, then cupped his hands together to drink from the refreshing water. He stood up, scanned the area around him, then set off down stream with the deer in tow.

A roaming sabre tooth tiger picked up a scent of blood, which lured him to the spot of Inga’s kill. It was hungry, and desperate for a meal! It sniffed about, and scented droplets of human sweat, which caused it to instantly check the immediate vicinity! It licked up what blood it could, lapping up dirt and grass in the process, then swiftly and stealthily followed the trail of blood. It came to a halt at the stream, losing the scent. It sniffed the air for possible signs, but could find no traces of Inga and the deer within the breeze that was blowing down the valley. It lapped up a hearty drink, then searched the area for any possible traces. Moments later it traced a faint scent of blood where the spear had been, reasoning then took it downstream!

Further downstream, Inga stopped for a rest. He drank until his thirst was quenched, then washed the sweat off his brow, that had been irritably dripping over his eyes. He sat down on the grassy embankment, then massaged his arms to alleviate some of the aching. He took in the natural beauty before him: the glory of the sun shining through the open canopy above the stream, reflecting its bright light on its surface; the splendour of the array of trees, proud in stance and bloom; the beauty of the flowers, rich in various types of colour; the wonder of nature, with birds darting to and thro, butterflies floating here and there, and insects going from A to B; the majestic sight of the surrounding peaks, encompassing the valley where he lived.

Two little birds squabbling caught his attention. He watched them madly chirping while attempting to peck each other, while frantically flapping their wings for flight and defence! He looked on intrigued at who might come out the victor, and before long one flew away with the other chasing behind. He reasoned they were probably siblings, at odds with each other from the nest.

A toad suddenly startled him, croaking wildly next to him. He marvelled at such a little creature being so brave, or stupid, in the face of overwhelming adversity. He poked a cautious finger at it, saying:

‘You’re little, I’m big. You’re brave, I’m brave. You sit there, I sit here. Am I in your way?’ Inga laughed at his last comment, then felt a little stupid himself for talking to creatures, but carried on regardless, ‘is this your territory and I’m sitting in it?’ He laughed again, then composed himself before saying, ‘I’m leaving now, toad win fight,’ he burst into an almighty fit of laughter at the thought of a mere toad getting the better of him, Inga, a brave warrior of the Ashanti tribe!

Inga rose, then bent down near the water to rinse his hair, catching a glimpse of his reflection before he did so: black, unkempt hair; tanned, Caucasian skin; deep brown eyes; proud nose and a small mouth protruding through a short beard. He brushed his hands through his wet hair, which made him feel a little better. He lifted the flap of his animal hide undergarment, then urinated on the embankment.

He looked at the toad once again, proudly sitting there watching him, then slowly prodded it with his spear, causing it to jump a short distance. Inga mischievously waved the spear in front of the stubborn toads face!

‘Toad brave and toad stupid! I’ve got a spear,’ Inga stated as he carefully pushed the toad aside, ‘I win fight now,’ he said with a victorious grin. Inga proudly displayed his chest to the toad, flexing it so it bulged!

‘Toad got big chest, I’ve got big chest. My chest bigger than toad’s!’

Inga picked up the deer, then paused as he took in the canopy of trees that led down the valley for miles. His thoughts drifted to his village, and he envisaged his beautiful girlfriend anxiously waiting for him. A sneeze brought him back around to the matter at hand!

‘Bye toad. Live long life,’ Inga hopefully said as he set on his way, but was doubtful with such stupidity!

Some time later, the tiger caught the scent of Inga’s urine, then followed this to where he had urinated. It saw the toad, then instantly pounced on it, biting it in two with his teeth, a little appetiser to appease its hunger! It searched for traces of the deer, but could find no scent of it! It quickly set off back down stream, hoping for a bigger meal soon!

Inga was making steady progress, prompted by the need to get back to the village before nightfall. His arm ached, so he stopped to use the other one to drag the carcass. He scanned the area behind him, then set off on his way again. A little further down the trail he came to an abrupt halt, having heard a rustling sound coming from the bushes to his left. Inga carefully placed the deer down into the water, took hold of his spear in both hands, then held it defensively out before him. He stood there, paused in motion, intently watching and listening! After what seemed an age, he heard the sound again. Inga stood there, waiting in a paradoxical state, brave and fearful as to what might ensue!

Moments later a rabbit peered out from under it, saw Inga, then darted back for cover. Inga breathed a sigh of relief, then relaxed from his defensive stance. He suddenly heard splashing footsteps behind him, and was instantly alarmed! Inga quickly turned to face the threat, and was horrified to see a sabre tooth tiger rapidly advancing upon him. He froze, and seemed suspended in time as his mind raced for a resolution!

Seconds later, he quickly searched for a tree to scale, but there wouldn’t be time! The tiger, upon seeing the weapon, abruptly slowed down its pace to approach with more caution. Inga slowly retreated, taking cautious steps backwards to remain facing the beast. It roared an almighty growl that shook Inga to his very core! Inga stared at the beast’s jaws, open wide revealing its long teeth, and was petrified!

He took a few more steps backwards, in the positive direction of a tree he could climb. He stabbed the space before him with the spear, in the vain hope of warding the tiger off! It came upon him and swiped viciously at the weapon. Inga wildly stabbed at its giant paws, connecting with one: the tiger roared in pain, then backed off a little. Inga took a few more steps backwards, getting ever closer to the safety of the trees!

The tiger limped towards him, still a formidable and frightening sight! Inga despairingly glanced at the trees, so near yet so far, and wondered whether he should now make a run for it before it was too late? The tiger came upon him again, growling viciously, then snapping its jaws at the weapon threatening it; Inga seized his chance, and thrust the spear into the beast’s mouth, piercing its throat. The tiger roared in pain, then swiped at the spear, forcing it out of Inga’s hands! Inga was mortified at finding himself without a weapon, and instantly sprinted for the nearest tree he could scale!

The tiger frantically swiped at the spear, eventually dislodging it from its throat, then immediately sprinted after Inga, who was now nestled safely up an oak tree. It leapt up the trunk, sinking its claws into the bark for grip. Inga’s heart sank in despair as the beast climbed up the tree, and he prepared himself for the worst when the beasts grip suddenly gave way, dropping it on its hind legs back on the ground. Inga was extremely relieved, yet nervously watched the magnificent beast prowling about below him.

Soon thereafter the tiger left for the stream, desperate to quench the thirst that the injury was now inflicting upon it. Inga watched it lapping up gulps of water, and wondered how long he might have to spend up the tree - perhaps all night! The tiger felt faint, so it searched for a suitable spot to lay down that offered some cover. Inga watched the tiger seemingly go to sleep, and wondered if he was dead or not? He dare not venture down at this moment in time, in case the beast stirred and attacked him!
An hour passed before Inga finally plucked up the courage to climb down to the ground. He quickly retrieved his spear, then slowly approached the creature, ever mindful to be cautious. He trod on a stone, picked it up, then hurled it at the animal, hitting it in its side: the tiger never flinched, so Inga advanced some more, then stood motionless for a long duration, taking in its majestic appearance! Inga reasoned it was a fully grown male by its huge size. He was close enough to see the tiger wasn’t breathing, yet still approached it with caution! He prodded the lifeless body with his spear, just to be sure!

Inga breathed a huge sigh of relief, and relaxed a little, yet felt mentally exhausted by the ordeal! He strolled over to the stream and drank a much needed drink! He returned to the tiger, curious to examine it! He stoked its fur, felt its muscles, then opened its jaws to get a good look at its ferocious teeth. He felt proud and brave to have killed such a formidable opponent, and was eager to tell his chief, partner and fellow tribesmen! Inga knelt beside the creature, still in awe at its huge size! 

‘I pray, oh sun god, hear I. I’m a warrior of Ashanti tribe. I’ve killed a tooth tiger, take spirit of tooth tiger! Thank you food for tribe.’

Inga reached the river just before sunset, and was in awe at the powers of the sun god, as the sky was ablaze with glorious shades of red and gold, which captivated his attention for a duration! He strode on, taking in the mighty, wide river as he did so: it was a force to be reckoned with, and from Inga’s perspective, flowed with murderous intent, as it was quick to sweep away any unsuspecting villager caught in its fast flowing currents! He watched a fallen tree floating by in its grasp, and admired the strength of the water to lift such a weight. He liked the daffodils that littered the footpath along the way, appreciating their beauty.

Before long it became dark, and Inga struggled to see ten metres ahead of him in the dim moonlight, which was a cause of concern, as any curious predators could be upon him in an instant, catching him unawares! He raised his spear as a defence mechanism, and listened intently, disregarding the dragging sound the deer made! Inga caught sight of the moon in the river, then gazed up in wonder at his god, which prompted him to say a quiet prayer:

‘I pray, oh moon god, hear I. Thank you I can see in the dark. Please don’t fall on me!’

Sometime later, Inga caught site of plumes of smoke in the distance, rising in the night sky, and new he was close to his village! He passed a long bend next to the river, then saw fire light glowing within the village enclosure, a fortress of posts. He crossed over a large clearing before coming to a halt before the entrance.

‘LET INGA IN,’ he shouted over the tall fence.

While he waited he took pride in the engineering feat of their fortress, and marvelled at its construction!

A brief screeching sound coming from the forest startled him, and he stared in vain at finding any possible source! Moths began to irritate him, flying recklessly in his face! He heard voices, then two posts were lifted before him by two of his fellow tribesmen.

‘You’re stupid walking in the dark,’ Col stated as Inga passed through the entrance, ‘we pray to moon god to guide you and keep you safe!’

‘I’m a brave warrior,’ Inga called back to Col, who was replacing one of the posts, ‘got great story to tell!’

Inga rushed through the village, passing many huts, until he came to a clearing in its centre, where a large fire raged, illuminating many villagers around it and the surrounding area. He slowed down, telling everyone he passed that he had a great story to tell. Just after the fire, he arrived at the chieftains hut. He dropped the carcass on the dusty ground, then eagerly shouted:

‘CHIEF MANBULA, INGA BRAVE WARRIOR, GOT GREAT STORY TO TELL!’

Moments later the animal hide flap covering the short doorway was pulled aside, then out stepped chief Manbula, looking majestic wearing a lion’s mane around his neck!

‘Inga, Inga, Inga,’ Manbula repeated, ‘we worry, you’re late! Many pray to moon god for you!’

‘I’ve killed a deer for tribe. Got great story to tell!’

The chieftain looked at the deer, then at the gathering that was accumulating behind Inga, then said:

‘I thank you for tribe for deer to eat, you’re a skilled hunter. Tribe proud, chief proud, you be proud!’

‘I am proud,’ Inga stated as he stood as proud as he could before adding, ‘I killed a tooth tiger!’

Many in the crowd gasped, shocked at such a revelation, particularly Shy, Inga’s pregnant partner!

‘You’ve got great story to tell then,’ Manbula agreed, ‘you’ve killed tooth tiger story. Please, tell story.’

Shy pushed through the crowd to reach the front, keen herself to hear Inga’s story. Inga turned to face the gathering, caught site of her, then gazed transfixed at her beauty: black, straight hair; brown eyes that sparkled intellect; a sharp, petite nose and luscious, pout lips. He felt a deep love for her, and the goose bumps he felt played with his heart strings. She became conscientious that everyone was staring, and felt a little uncomfortable!

Shy eventually averted Inga’s gaze by turning her head, and as she did so, smudged, damp tears reflected a little fire light from off her left cheek. Inga noticed it, stepped towards her, then gently touched her cheek while whispering:

‘Why you cry?’

She faced him, stupefied as to what to say!

‘Why you cry?’ Inga persisted, then added, ‘Is it because I’ve been in the dark a long time?‘

‘Yes,’ she finally uttered after few moments thinking, not really wanting to lie, but agreeing for his benefit! She instantly felt ashamed, and kissed him to hide her blushing cheeks, a revealing tell! After composing herself, Shy withdrew from him, conscious the crowd was waiting to hear what Inga had to say, and grabbed his arm to usher him back towards the chief!

‘Go and tell your story now,’ she prompted.

Inga dramatically told his story, re-enacting the scenes, playing himself and the tiger, and using the spear as a prop! The crowd loved his showmanship, and he lapped up their enthusiasm. When he was finished, he turned to the chief, threw down his spear next to the deer, then beat his chest not dissimilar to a male gorilla!

‘I’M A BRAVE WARRIOR FOR CHIEF AND TRIBE,’ Inga shouted, then flexed his torso, particularly his biceps!

The females amongst the crowd advanced upon him, each one touching him for luck, as was customary. Inga liked the feeling of all the hands feeling him, and expressed this in his smile, which seemed fixed to his face! Shy waited until all the females were spent, then proudly walked over to him. As she seductively moved her hand over his muscles, she could feel them bulging with strength! Inga relaxed, wrapped his arms around her, then gently kissed her cheeks where the smudged tears had been. He moved to her lips, then passionately kissed her. Moments later, Shy whispered:

‘You’re Shy’s brave warrior.’

‘I’ll protect you and the baby,‘ he stated as he lovingly caressed her large stomach.

Shy looked down at his hands with a great sorrow,  as she needed protection sometimes when Inga wasn’t around, but dare not ask for it, for fear of the possible consequences! The baby suddenly kicked inside her; distracting her from her thoughts! Shy put her hands over Inga’s and smiled as she gazed into the depths of his eyes! Inga reciprocated, and for a few moments they were lost in each other, oblivious to their surroundings! Shy eventually spoke:

‘I’m proud you’re father of our baby, you’ll make great father!’

‘I’m proud Shy mother of baby, Shy make great …’

‘INGA,’ Manbula called, interrupting him from his conversation with Shy, ’COME OVER HERE.’
Inga turned to face Chief Manbula, who was beckoning him to come over. Inga took Shy’s hand to lead her towards the chief with him, but Shy resisted, saying:

‘I‘ll go and rest at our hut.’

‘Come with I, Chief Manbula proud of me.’

‘You go, I‘ll go and rest,’ she repeated as she adamantly backed off from him.

Inga held her hand as their arms outstretched, desiring her to stay with him, then after she yanked it slightly, reluctantly yielded, and released his grip.

‘Go and rest then,’ Inga called after her as she headed away, ‘I’ll try not to be too long.’

Inga strode over to Chief Manbula, who had his own little gathering, seemingly all keen to share Inga’s company!

‘Inga, sit there next to Shirl,’ Manbula stated while gesturing with his hand towards his daughter sitting on a large log, ‘rest yourself as you must be tired from your long trek?’

‘And hungry,’ Shirl conscientiously added as Inga sat down, ‘I’ll fetch our brave warrior some food to fill his hungry belly,’ she added as she stood up, playfully scuffing his hair!

‘Thank you,’ Inga responded, appreciating her thoughtfulness, and liking her playfulness, ‘I do feel tired and  hungry,’ he added as he gazed up at her staring down at him.

She stood there for a moment, looking intently into his eyes, searching for any reciprocal feelings that might be expressed there!

‘SHIRL,’ Manbula shouted, annoyed at her stalling, ‘be on your way!’

She felt a little embarrassed at being reprimanded, and promptly set off to hide her blushes!

‘Inga, how big was this tooth tiger again?’ Manbula enquired as he walked towards Inga.

Inga looked up with the utmost respect at the chief approaching him, a large framed man with a bulging stomach, and humorously stated for all to hear:

‘I see chief got big belly this summer!’

‘Chief store it up inside for winter,’ Manbula stated as he stood before Inga, ‘and you’re too thin,’ he added as he poked Inga’s slim stomach.

‘You’re like a big bear,’ Inga seriously stated, ‘thin in spring, then large in autumn.’

‘And he sleeps like big bear in winter,’ the chieftain’s partner, Saybe, quipped.

‘I’m ferocious like big bear,’ Manbula stated as he mimicked a bear swiping its claws, ‘ROAR!’

‘Inga will save us from that ferocious bear,’ Saybe stated, playfully mocking her partner as she squeezed her granddaughter, Becky, in a protective embrace!

‘Save us Inga,’ Becky called as the chief advanced upon her growling and swiping!

Inga sprang up, raced to his spear, then picked it up, holding it defensively out before him, saying:
‘Hey, big ferocious bear, leave females alone, come fight with Inga!’

‘ROAR, who is Inga?’

‘I’m a brave warrior of Ashanti tribe,’ he proudly stated as he flexed his upper torso to show off his muscles, ‘who is bear?’

‘Bear brave warrior of forest,’ Manbula responded, showing off his muscles too, ’bear is bigger than you!’

‘You are bigger than me,’ he agreed, ’but I’m a brave warrior of forest too, and I’m cleverer than you!’

‘That may be so,’ Manbula agreed, ’but I got big claws that will scratch you, and big teeth that will bite you,’ he added as he swiped the air and growled, showing off his teeth!

‘That may be so,’ Inga acknowledged, ‘but I got sharp spear that will stab you in your big, fat belly,’ he added as he prodded the air with the spear!

‘Bear got big, fat belly because I eat lots of meat,’ Manbula stated, ‘you’re meat, I’ll eat you,’ he added as he approached Inga while repeatedly swiping the air with both hands.

‘Get down on your hands and knees,’ Saybe interjected on Inga’s behalf.

The chief stopped, then turned to face her with a contorted expression of grievance upon his countenance, while sternly placing his hands on his hips, then stared at her for a short duration, dumbfounded by her playful mockery, as she new he wouldn’t like to get on his hands and knees!

Saybe, not phased by his actions, as she was well used to this type of behaviour, calmly stared back until he eventually spoke:

‘Woman, do you have to interfere so much, bears can also stand up you know!’

Suddenly, from out of the darkness, appeared Fist, Chief Manbula’s only son: dancing firelight eerily illuminated him as he approached the gathering.

‘That may be so father,’ Fist agreed, ‘but bears don’t walk on two legs,’ he added in a confident voice with an air of authority as he stood in front of the group.

‘Have you been watching us from the darkness?’ Manbula questioned Fist, ‘like a predator stalking its prey!’

‘No chief, like a son admiring his father,’ Fist sarcastically lied as he patted his father on the back.

‘Sit down then,’ Manbula barked at Fist, ‘your in the way standing there like a tree!’

Fist stared long and hard at his father with a contemptuous glare, then as an act of defiance, turned to face Becky with his arms outstretched.

‘Come to father, daughter,’ Fist said as he gestured with his hands, beckoning her to him.

Becky slipped from her grandmother’s embrace, then ran towards her father with open arms. Fist picked her up from under her arms, then playfully launched her high up into the air.

‘FIST,’ Saybe called, alarmed at how high her granddaughter had been thrown, ’that’s too high,’ she sharply added as Fist safely caught her.

Fist lovingly wrapped her in his arms, then held her tight as he span her around at speed: Becky giggled, enjoying the ride! He came to a stop, then stated to his mother:

‘Mother, you worry too much, Becky enjoys it!’

Fist glanced over at his father, who looked enraged and seemingly ready to erupt, and chose not to push him any further, so he went and casually sat down next to his mother with Becky sitting on his lap.

Chief Manbula stared after Fist seething, not appreciating his insolence, especially while they were in the company of others! After a few moments of composing himself, his frustration and anger subsided, leaving him once again to step into the character of the bear.

‘ROAR,’ Manbula growled at Inga, ‘I will eat you for my hunger!’

‘I’ll keep warm in winter with your fur coat,’ Inga responded as he slowly advanced upon Chief Manbula.

‘Put your spear down,’ Manbula said as Inga prodded the air in front of him, ‘and fight like a bear,’ he added as he swiped at the spear!

‘But I’m not a bear,’ Inga stated as he circled Chief Manbula, keeping him at bay by constantly stabbing at the space before him, waiting for an opportunity to strike!

‘I’m going to stab your big, fat belly now with my spear, and kill you dead!’

‘You can try,’ Manbula stated as he defensively backed off a little.

Inga pushed forward, driving Chief Manbula backwards, towards those who were seated! Seconds later, Fist realised that his oath of a father would soon back into him and Becky, so quickly stood up, placing Becky down on the ground, then defensively behind him. Chief Manbula swiped at the spear with his hands while taking a step backwards, then was suddenly shocked to find himself being pushed forward at speed in the dangerous direction of the spear! Inga quickly stepped aside, narrowly avoiding contact with Chief Manbula, who sped past him sprawling to the dusty ground!

Chief Manbula rose to his hands and knees to gather himself, which instantly caused him to think of the earlier comments to do so; he turned to cast Saybe a seething glance of indignation, and was met with some curious looks by all! Chief Manbula lifted himself up, shook the dust from off himself, then casually turned to face his aggressor. Fist instantly picked up Becky, a protective measure to try and ensure a peaceful resolution!

‘You push me,‘ Manbula stated to Fist, ‘then you pick up Becky before I can push you back! I thought you was a brave warrior!’

‘I pushed my father, not chief,’ Fist stated trying to influence a lesser offence, ‘as you was going to squash Becky,’ he added in his defence!

‘Why didn’t you just stop I, instead of pushing I!’ Manbula rightly reasoned to Fist!

Fist just stood there, defiantly staring back at his father. Shirl suddenly appeared, carrying a folded animal skin with food in it, which averted Chief Manbula’s attention away from Fist, who was appreciative of the diversion. Shirl casually strolled past Chief Manbula, indifferent to the proceeds at hand, and approached Inga with a sparkle in her eye and a spring in her step!

‘Inga,’ Shirl cheerily said as she offered out the parcel, ‘this is for you, fill your hungry belly!’

‘I thank you, Shirl, may the sun and moon gods bless you,’ Inga sincerely stated as he accepted the package of food.

‘Inga eat now,’ Manbula considerately stated, then angrily turned to face Fist, barking as he pointed to the carcass, ‘go and take that dear to the storage hut.’

‘Deer Inga’s kill, let him take it,’ Fist reasoned in protest as he cast Inga a scornful glare.

‘I’ll take it,’ Inga politely gestured, feeling a little uncomfortable at Fist’s distress, but not appreciating the sentiments in which it was expressed!

‘Nonsense,’ Manbula barked, ’Fist will take it - WON’T YOU!’

Fist stared long and hard at his father before placing Becky down, then reluctantly and pensively shuffled his way over to the deer, resenting the fact of labouring for Inga! Fist cursed his father and Inga in his mind as he despondantly bent down to pick up the carcass, then as an act of strength rather than obedience, grabbed it by its legs, heaved it over his shoulders, then ambivalently marched  away, feeling proud at his prowess, but indignant of the task!

Inga relaxed from the tension the situation had arisen in him, feeling a sense of relief that it now seemed resolved! He sat down where he was on the ground with his legs folded, then opened up the folded skin before him, which contained many strips of cooked meat, a few raw vegetables, an apple and a pear. He picked up a piece of meat, then hungrily chewed on it, liking its taste and texture. Chief Manbula walked over to him, then sat down next to him, facing the group.

‘You’re a brave warrior killing big, tooth tiger,’ Manbula stated, ’tribe proud of you. The sun and moon gods are indeed watching over you. You worry us coming back late. Meat nice, eh,’, he mentioned as Inga picked up another piece of meat, ’you shouldn’t hunt so far away!’

‘It wasn’t so far,’ Inga stated before eating the meat in his hand , ’I was hunting most of the day with no kill, then when I get a kill, it takes from sunlight to moonlight to drag deer back, and I was in a tree for ages,’ he added as he put the meat in his mouth.

‘You’re a skilled hunter, we’ll cook deer tomorrow,’ Manbula stated as he scratched his chin beneath his short beard, then after a moments pause, pensively added as he turned to face Inga, ’Fist should be more like you - you was respectful to your father wasn’t you Inga!’

Inga nodded as he chewed on his meat, fondly recalling his father.

‘It was a bad time when your family died two summers ago,’ Manbula sadly stated.

‘And Shy’s family,’ Inga interjected after swallowing the meat in his mouth.

‘Yes, and Shy’s family,’ Manbula agreed, ‘and many more!’

‘Ashanti tribe were cursed with a terrible sickness that spread quickly,’ Manbula stated recalling the sombre occasion, ’may the spirits of those that passed now protect us,’ he added as he placed his right arm around Inga’s shoulders, gently comforting him for his loss.

Inga appreciated the gesture, and felt a great fondness for Chief Manbula.

‘You have Shy now,’ Manbula stated as he withdrew his arm, ‘she and baby are your family now.’
‘Ashanti tribe also Inga’s family,’ Inga stated, then after a moments pause, added ‘baby will come soon, Shy’s belly is very big.’

‘May the sun and moon gods bless you with a boy,’ Manbula hopefully stated as he looked up to the moon.

‘Shy’s belly is so big, it must be a boy,’ Inga reasoned as he picked up a raw carrot, then took a bite of it.

‘Shy will make a great mother,’ Manbula commented with sincerity, ’and you’ll make a great father.’

‘Where is Shy?’ Manbula asked as he scanned around the fire for a possible glimpse of her: many villagers were sitting and standing close to it, some discernable, lit up by the flames, with others silhouetted in the moonlight.

‘She was tired and has gone to rest in our hut.’

‘Your bed will be warm then,’ Manbula reasoned with a smile, which reminded him to ask, ‘what will you do with tooth tiger skin?’

Inga thought for a moment, grasping the sentiments behind the question, and while he was going to give the fur as a gift to Shy, he thought it more befitting now to offer it to the chief, who would wear the garment for prestige and honour!

‘Consider it yours,’ Inga gladly stated, ’I’ll get some tribesmen to go and retrieve the tooth tiger with I in the morning.’

‘Thank you Inga,’ Manbula said with a beaming smile as he briefly hugged Inga, ’you’ve made Chief Manbula a very happy man. I will think of your bravery each time I wear it.’

‘I’m happy to make you happy, and proud to make you proud.’

‘I’ll feel proud to wear tooth tiger skin,’ Manbula stated, ‘I’ll come with you in the morning, we’ll take ten of our strongest tribesmen with us,’ he enthusiastically added as he stood up, ‘I’ll go and organise it now.’

Inga finished his carrot off as he watched Chief Manbula walking away, who then stopped to speak to some tribesmen around the glowing fire. Shirl promptly made her way over to Inga after seeing her father leave him, then sat down in front of him.

‘Do you like the food?’ Shirl enquired.

‘Yes, I like the food,’ Inga replied as he picked up a large piece of raw cauliflower, ’belly nearly full now.’

‘That’s good,’ she stated as she gazed at him, transfixed by his handsomeness and muscular form, ’it’s not nice to be hungry.’

‘I wasn’t hungry for long,’ Inga said after swallowing the food in his mouth, ‘what have you been doing today?’ He curiously added as he took another bite of the cauliflower.

She enthusiastically relayed to Inga what she had been doing through the day, leaving no small detail out! Inga listened with interest, acknowledging what she was saying with the odd not of his head, in-between eating his food. A moth suddenly flew into Inga’s face, startling him, causing him to drop the piece of cauliflower. Shirl stopped what she was saying, then stared at him amused for a short duration.

‘What are you smiling at?’ Inga knowingly asked, feeling coy.

‘I’m smiling at you, you fight big tooth tiger, yet scared of a little moth,’ she stated, enjoying teasing him.

‘I’m not scared of little moth,’ Inga indignantly objected as he picked up his cauliflower from off the dusty ground, then felt a little shame for dropping it.

Inga dusted off the dirt with his hands, then looked up at Shirl, still gazing at him amused.

‘Moths are blind and stupid,’ he stated, pondering the little creatures, ’they fly into your face and dangerously close to the fire flames.’

‘Are flies blind and stupid then,’ Shirl curiously asked in all seriousness.

‘Butterflies aren’t blind and stupid,’ Inga responded, deep in thought.

‘I was asking about flies!’ Shirl protested, bemused at his response!

‘I know, but I was thinking about butterflies. They don’t fly in your face, even when a wind blows them near you. And they float about so playfully, not like moths who are clumsy!’

‘Butterflies are beautiful,’ Shirl pleasantly stated, ‘not like moths, who are ugly,’ she added with a grimace.

‘Butterflies are pleasurable while moths are annoying,’ Inga stated, then took a bite of his piece of cauliflower, chewed on it,  swallowed it, then added, ‘moths are ugly to us, but handsome and beautiful to each other.’

‘Are we handsome and beautiful to each other?’ She brazenly asked.

Inga was taken aback at her directness, and momentarily shocked, causing him to gape at her in disbelief: she was beautiful; long, straight, black hair that glistened in the firelight; glossy eyes that had a look of innocence; cute small nose; full, wide lips; slim frame. Inga gathered his thoughts before replying:

‘You are very beautiful, and may be as tall as a tribesman, but you’re still only young.’

‘I’m fourteen summer’s old,’ she protested.

‘I love Shy!’

‘You’re only nineteen winters old,’ She argued, disregarding Inga’s last comment.

‘I love Shy,’ Inga sternly repeated, then quietly added ‘she’s having my baby.’

‘I could have your baby,’ she seriously stated.

‘You’re like a sister to me,’ Inga responded, aggrieved at her stubbornness , ‘and I love Shy,’ he adamantly added.

‘You love I too,‘ she poignantly stated.

‘As a sister,’ Inga reasoned, ’not as a partner.’

‘You already love me,’ she stubbornly reasoned in a hushed, sad voice.

‘As a sister,’ Inga argued, annoyed at her persistence.

‘I don’t like you any more,’ Shirl sobbed, dejected, ‘and I hope another tooth tiger eats you,’ she added as she smothered her face with her hands, hiding herself from further embarrassment!

Inga stretched out his arm, then lay a comforting hand on her shoulder. He stayed like that for a short duration, while he contemplated what to do, when Shirl suddenly stood up.

‘I’m going to leave you now,’ she angrily stated as she wiped the flowing tears on her wet cheeks with the backs of her hands, ‘and I hope to never see you again,’ she venomously added as she stormed off in a huff, momentarily hating Inga, and feeling deeply sorry for herself!

Inga watched her go, and felt distressed at her anguish, and worried how she’d react on their next encounter, especially if he were with Shy! He ate thereafter deep in thought,  hardly noticing his surroundings as he stared blankly into the space before him. Fist’s booming voice greeting Saybe and Becky stirred him back to reality, and he contemptuously stared at him for his lack of respect earlier. Inga picked up his apple, then took a large bite of it, appreciating it quenching his thirst as juice dripped down his beard. Fist glanced over at him staring, causing Inga to quickly look away feeling caught out! Inga finished his apple, ate his pear, picked up the empty skin and his spear, then stood up, bracing himself as he strolled over to confront Fist!

‘Why do you be disrespectful to your father, our chief,’ Inga loudly stated as he approached Fist from behind, cutting him off from his conversation with his mother.

Fist turned to face Inga with a malicious grin on his countenance, and looked down on him with contempt as he said:

‘Why do you be disrespectful to me, you come over here and rudely interrupt me while I’m speaking to my mother.’

Inga stared for a moment, dumbfounded and temporarily speechless at the counter attack.

‘Sorry Saybe,’ Inga eventually said as he turned to face her, ‘I didn’t mean to rudely interrupt you.’

‘But you did, didn’t you!’ Saybe sarcastically stated, sticking up for her son.

‘You come over here questioning I,’ Fist seethed at Inga, ’when you have no authority to. Don’t you know that I’ll be chief of Ashanti tribe one day, you won’t question I then, will you!’

 ‘You’ll always be very questionable,’ Inga quipped with a smile, then regretting his whit as Saybe’s eyes bore into him.

‘You think you’re special because my father is fond of you! Well you’re not. You’re a nobody to I, just a little bug I could squash at any moment,’ Fist stated, then bit a large bite out of a chunk of cooked meat he had in his hand.

‘You should be grateful you have a father, as some others don’t,’ Inga seriously stated.

‘Are you still mourning your father, then?’ Saybe sorrowfully asked Inga, ‘he was a brave warrior. You take after him in many ways!’

‘I mourn remembering the good times,’ Inga sadly stated, ‘which sometimes makes I sad and happy.’
‘And you’re sad now are you?’ Fist sarcastically asked Inga, ‘what makes I sad is how you dote on my father as if he were your father, when he is not!’

‘Leave Inga alone,’ Saybe interjected to Fist, empathising with Inga, ‘he killed a tooth tiger today.’

‘And I’ll kill one tomorrow,’ Fist enviously stated as he took a bite from his meat.

‘You won’t see a tooth tiger tomorrow,’ Saybe said after quickly weighing up the likelihood.

‘I might,’ Fist stated with a mouthful of meat, ‘who knows when you might chance upon one!’

‘Well if you do chance upon one, I’m sure you’ll be as brave as Inga was!’ Saybe suggested.

‘I wouldn’t want to chance upon another one,’ Inga stated, ‘I’d be quite happy to never see one again!’

‘Where’s Shy?’ Saybe asked Inga, ‘she was with you earlier!’

Fist tensely stiffened at the mention of Shy, then regained  himself by intently and hatefully staring at Inga.

‘She’s gone to our hut to rest.’

‘And so she should,‘ Saybe empathised, ‘especially to rest her feet. I know what it’s like,’ she added as she cast Fist a scornful glance, and was surprised to see him staring as he was!

‘Come on Becky,’ Fist said to his daughter, not wanting to share Inga’s company for a moment longer ‘let’s take you to your mother who can put you in bed.

‘Goodnight Becky,’ Inga said as he fondly looked down upon her, ‘sweet dreams!’

Fist resented Inga talking to Becky, and was keen to hurry her along.

‘But I’m not tired father,’ Becky protested, ‘and I don’t want to go.’

‘Hug you grandmother and let’s go. Do as your told.’

She bade as she was told, but with deliberate mischievousness, as she gave Saybe an extra ordinary long hug.

Fist waited with little patience, and grabbed her hand to lead her away, regardless of them still hugging. Becky was reluctant to let go of her grandmother, but slowly released her grasp as she was forcefully pulled away.

‘Goodnight Becky,’ Saybe said, surprised at Fist’s eagerness.

‘I don’t want to go father,’ she protested as she dug her heels hard into the ground, stubbornly trying to prevent herself from being dragged away.

‘Goodnight mother,’ Fist called behind him as he walked away, feeling a little guilty at having not hugged her in his haste, ’I’ll see you in the morning.’

‘Bye,’ Saybe quietly uttered as she stared after them leaving while gently waving to Becky, who turned frequently, despairingly looking back at them.

They stood and sat there in silence, both thinking their individual perspectives on reasoning Fist’s, rash behaviour! Shirl eventually spoke as she looked up at Inga:

‘You’ll have a child of your own soon, and you’ll feel very protective of your baby. And why shouldn’t you, as they are in essence you, or part of you. Fist takes after my father in so many ways - may his spirit protect us - and is not so much like his own father!’

‘And that saddens you?’

She stared at him, surprised by his comment, and wondered whether she should take offence, but from what context, as she had been expressing sadness!

‘Does it sadden I that Fist is like my own father?’ Saybe eventually asked, curious to root out any negative sentiments.

‘No, does it sadden you that Fist is not like his own father.

‘Fist is himself, regardless of the similarities he expresses,’ she sternly stated.

‘Fist will be chief one day,’ Inga said, then delicately added, ‘may he become more like his father, who is a great chief to serve!’

Saybe felt obliged to agree, on a surface level, as the chief was her partner, but in her mind she was cursing Inga’s expressive dislike for her son, and now felt a little uncomfortable in his presence, causing her to irritably fidget in silence. Inga saw that she was distressed, and casually looked about to busy himself from the tense, awkwardness he felt. He felt a compelling need to yawn, and stretch, but wrestled with this urge as  he new it was just a habitual feeling he felt when he was ill at ease, and Saybe’s focus would once again rest on him if he did so. He wanted to abruptly walk away, but didn’t want to leave her upset with him, and thought long and hard what he could perhaps say that might bring her back around to his favour! Saybe distracted herself by idly fiddling about with her fingers, while blankly staring at them! Inga cautiously watched her from the corner of his eye, absorbing her uneasiness.

‘Shy should have a boy from her sheer size,’ Inga finally said, ‘and I hope he’ll be as tall as Fist!’

‘Fist is tall,’ she proudly uttered while pondering his size, ‘and broad.’

‘That he is,’ Inga agreed, pleased that she’d perked up a little ‘and he’s strong.’

‘The strongest in the village,’ she enthusiastically added.

‘He loves Becky so much,’ Inga sincerely stated, pleased at his progress, ’and you can see her face light up with joy when he plays with her.’

‘It’s nice to see isn’t it!’ She cheerfully stated with a warm smile, ’and I’m sure you and your child will have a similar bond.’

‘Thank you, Saybe, you’re a sweet person,’ Inga charmingly said, ‘and a beautiful partner for our chief!’

‘I’m not so beautiful,’ Saybe modestly stated, appreciating the comment, ‘I’m old and past beautiful,’ she exaggerated as she acted coy.

‘I hope to live to your age one day, and if I do, I’m sure Shy will be as beautiful as you are.’
‘Thank you, Inga, you’re a sweet person too,’ she reciprocated from one of his previous comments, ‘I feel fortunate to have lived so long.

‘How many seasons are you?’ Inga curiously asked.

‘Forty eight springs.’

‘A good season to be born,’ Inga stated, ‘with mild weather and summer on its way.’

‘Yes,’ Saybe agreed, ‘I do look forward to summer in spring,’ she enthusiastically added.

‘And winter,’ Inga added.

‘What?’ Saybe asked, a little confused to his response.

‘We look forward to summer in winter, also,’ Inga clarified, understanding her bemusement.
‘That we do. I don’t like winter at all.’

‘It’s a hardship for us,’ Inga stated, ‘a trying time to persevere.’

‘And endure,’ Saybe added as she hugged herself with a warm embrace, envisaging and mimicking the cold in winter.

‘Before we know it, that cursed season will be upon us again,’ Inga bitterly stated, ‘and there’ll be more deaths to encounter!’

‘Let’s not think of winter now,’ Saybe said after a long pause deliberating the season, ‘let us think of summer and the happiness it brings.’

‘I am happier in summer,’ Inga stated, ‘I’m more cheerful and playful.’

‘And its nice to see, and can cheer others up too. I watch Becky for ages sometimes, enjoying her frolicking. You‘ll experience that soon.’

‘Speaking of the baby,’ Inga responded as he put the skin in his hand onto the tree trunk next to Saybe, ‘I better go and see how Shy is. May the sun and moon gods bless you.’

‘And you,‘ Saybe said as Inga left to leave, ‘tell her I send warm wishes.’

‘I will,’ Inga called back, ‘see you tomorrow.’

‘Yes, see you tomorrow,’ she mumbled under her breath as Inga faded into the night.
Inga pulled the flap of animal hide to one side, and crouched through the entrance to his and Shy’s hut. The hut was dark inside, and he took a few moments to become accustomed to it. Slowly Shy’s sleeping form became distinguishable, and he gazed lovingly down at her for a short duration while she slept. He leant his spear up against the wall, then slipped under the furs next to Shy, laying on a bed of straw with animal hides strewn over it. Shy had her back to him, so he cuddled up close to her, lovingly wrapping his arm around her, which caused her to stir. She lay there for a few moments liking his embrace, absorbing his love, then smiled as she turned to face him.

‘Have you been lapping up your popularity?’ she teasingly asked.

‘Would you have I ignore everyone!’

‘Yes, if it means spending more time with I,’ she mocked, goading him.

‘You don’t mean that,’ he knowingly stated.

‘Do you think I’m mean and selfish wanting you all to myself!’

‘Not at all, I think its rather cute: an endearing quality. Do you think I’m mean and selfish wanting to spend time with others!’

‘Only when you seem to forget about I waiting for you!’

‘But you’re always waiting for I!’

‘When you’re with I I’m not waiting - am I?’

‘You should try not to be so worried when I’m out hunting,’ he conscientiously stated in all seriousness, recalling her wet cheeks, ‘which causes you to be upset.’

‘You were late coming back,’ she innocently protested, then instantly felt guilty for her earlier lie, but felt no shame for it, ’and I can’t help but worry,’ she truthfully added.

‘Well, don’t worry to much,’ he stated, ’I’m a strong warrior.’

‘And I’m a strong worrier,’ she sincerely responded, ’and you could have been killed by that tooth tiger!’

‘But you didn’t know that until I came back and told you.’

‘There are many predators to worry about while you’re hunting through the forests alone.’
‘That may be so, but I have my trusty spear to defend myself with.’

‘And predators have big claws and teeth to attack with. Why do you have to be so foolish and hunt alone at times?’

‘Sometimes I like my own company,’ he defensively responded, ’and sometimes I like to think a lot instead of talking a lot.’

‘But you’re so stubborn. Are not four spears safer than one!’

‘It only takes one spear to kill an animal.’

‘But you are vulnerable on your own, and make yourself easy prey to predators!’

‘I’m not easy prey,’ he objected, ‘which will be evidenced tomorrow when I bring back the body of the tooth tiger.’

‘That tooth tiger could just have easily killed you, rather than you killing it,’ she stated, deeply concerned for his safety.

‘And any roaming tooth tiger could easily kill any of us while we’re not within the safety of our village, including you while you’re out bathing in the river or searching for herbs and vegetables in the forest!’

Shy new how obstinate he was, and chose not to pursue the matter any further that evening, choosing instead to try and focus on the positives of his killing the tooth tiger.

‘We’re all so proud of you, you’re so brave,’ she sincerely stated in a source of ambivalence as she gently caressed her hand over his exposed shoulder. 

‘I know you are. And I understand your worry, but where would we be if we never ventured from the village because of the threat of predators!’

‘I’ve never seen a tooth tiger before, I’ve just heard many stories about them.’

‘Well we’ll soon remedy that, I’m going with the chief and ten others to retrieve the body in the morning.’

‘So I won’t see you all day tomorrow as well,’ she griped as she thought how she’d pass through the next day without him, ‘I miss you terribly already. At least I won’t worry so much tomorrow, with you having the security of others protecting you.’

‘Enough about I, what about you. How have you spent your day?’

‘You know how I spend my days,’ she stated as she mischievously pushed his shoulder back, ‘waiting and worrying for you!’

‘Besides that. What have you been doing and who have you been speaking to?’

‘I’ve been doing little and talking a lot.’

‘That’s not much of an answer,’ he responded, feeling a little rejected at her lack of enthusiasm.
‘Well, the question seemed to be asked blandly, and with insincerity!’

‘I’m sorry if it sounded as such,’ he sincerely apologised, ‘let I ask the question again. How has your day been and with whose company have you shared it with,’ he added in a warm, soft tone, trying to express himself in a loving, caring way.

‘I understand your absorbed in your conquest with the tooth tiger, and rightly and justly so,’ she stated as she tenderly held his hand, ’but I want you to focus on I now, and not be distracted by your pride!’

‘I will,’ he said as he pulled her close to him, feeling her bulging stomach pressing up against his as he lovingly hugged her, then conscientiously added, ’I have much pride for you too you know!’
‘Which is nice, but one pride is different to the other pride.’

‘One pride, two pride, are they not both prides.’

‘One pride is for killing, and the other pride is for loving.’

‘You have pride for killing,’ he genuinely stated, ‘as you have pride for I when I kill.’

‘But I’m not wholly focused on killing, just partially, while your absorbed and distracted by it at the moment. Focus on loving while you’re with I, and killing when you’re out hunting.’

‘I think of our love while I’m out hunting. I think of you constantly, no matter where I am or what I’m doing!’

‘Have you thought to kiss I yet!’ She abruptly mentioned.

‘But we’ve been talking,’ he protested in innocence, yet still felt guilty, ’and . . .’

Inga was cut short as Shy moved in to kiss him, passionately moving her lips over his, expressing her deep affection for him. Inga reciprocated, and got lost in the moment, as loving feelings burst forth from inside him, overflowing from the outlet of his lips, expressing heart-felt emotions and lustful inclinations! Shy felt his lust, but would not sexually act upon it, choosing instead to calm him down a little.

‘You’re getting excited,’ she stated in earnest, ’and I’m heavily pregnant! Go and throw yourself in the river and calm down,’ she teased, a jibe to strike a chord with his arousal!

‘Woman, you’re cruel,’ he responded with understanding, ’I need to bathe, but for cleanliness, and not for that reason!’

‘You sound like the chief saying ’woman’, ’she replied, ’can’t you think of your own words to use!’

‘Ill use I own words, and hopefully to better effect,’ he sincerely stated with some phrases in mind to converse to her, ’but first you’ll have to be nice to I’

‘In what way shall I be nice,’ she responded, thinking the obvious from his perspective, ‘would you have I lie here distressed while you take I! I’m not in the mood, and I’m as big as an ox, feeling very unattractive!’

‘You’re beautiful, woman,’ he said in all seriousness, while also teasing her, ‘and an ox is beautiful and handsome to other oxen.’

‘That’s a clever way to think,’ she acknowledged, ‘but are there no ugly oxen for an oxen to think otherwise!’

‘Trust you to find a flaw in I reasoning. If I was on ox, I’d take pleasure in seeing other females naked all day long!’

‘Oxen don’t dress, that’s true,’ she concluded, ‘but I now know you like watching other female skin!’

‘Do you have to turn a nice sentiment into an argument,’ he griped, annoyed at her negativity ‘I mean’t I’d enjoy watching you being naked all day long.’

‘Well, you should express yourself with more clarity. Am I a mind reader to understand your thoughts!’

‘But you understand I, and I devotion to you. And from that you should not read negatives from positives in the things I say!’

‘Alright,’ she said, ‘let I think of something similar to say, and see if you reason likewise to I,’ she added, toying around with similar expressions to relate, after a little thought, she finally said, ‘I find men who treat their women respectfully to be handsome in appeal! What do you think?’

Inga smiled as he solely thought of himself, taking the sentiments singularly, instead of plural, and if his beaming face could light up the dark, the hut would be lit up as if it were day! His misconception was based upon his own respect to Shy, which held no bounds, so he was self-absorbed in his own actions, and thought little of others of a similar essence!

‘I think you’re beautiful,’ he responded, catching up with his earlier thoughts to use his own words, ‘and you shine radiance, bright like our god, the sun. You are like a god to I, as I worship you in my prayers.’

‘You’re so clever with words,’ she admitted, feeling touched by the expression, then because of his stubbornness in her reasoning previously, she goaded with a smug grin, ‘what, only in your prayers am I worshipped!’

Inga picked up on her earlier grievance, and pushed for her to be more receptive, when he said:

‘This time I’ll kiss you…!’

The chief awoke early the next morning, high in spirits for the mission in hand, and soon left his hut to muster the men he needed for the trek to retrieve the tooth tiger, and not particularly for the meat from his perspective, as he was keen to adorn the skin for all to see!

Before long he had mustered all but Inga, and crept into his hut to waken him: he moved his shoulder, and Inga woke in an instant, slipped out of bed unheard, picked up his spear, then was on his way with nine others and the chief. Two of the men were carrying food in skins, a necessary supply to heed their hunger through the time of day! It was dawn, and the sun in the distance was just breaking cover, and lit up the sky as its heat rays burst out of the horizon to conquer the day ahead! They all marvelled at their god, majestic in appearance and radiant in appeal, particularly as it shone through the various clouds scattered before it!

The chief walked at the front of the hunter gatherers, and beckoned Inga to join him to lead the way.
‘You know you shouldn’t walk at the front,’ Inga stated as a matter of fact, ‘you should walk in the centre of the tribesmen for safety’s sake!’

‘You worry to much Inga, I have you by my side don’t I!’

‘That you do,’ Inga reasoned, ‘but am I infallible as to not be killed in an unsuspecting instant, and with you by my side would be next in line for its targeting!’

‘INGA,’ Manbula boomed, and laughed, ‘you venture off on your own many a time, and have the audacity to victimise I, your chief, when there are nine other willing tribesmen able to lend assistance!’

Inga looked back, and seen that they were considerably ahead of the others, and the chief followed suit.

‘You see,’ Inga stated, ‘predators can be fast, slow down a little, before the long the heat will slow you for sure anyway!’

The chief stopped until the others caught up, and watched his pace thereafter. Before long the sun overhead was beaming down relentlessly, diminishing any clouds that dare defy it! They came to the stream, and stopped to rest. Inga and many others washed their faces in the cool water, refreshing and shocking with its cold temperature! Inga went and sat with Col, who was sitting on the embankment.

‘The chief’s keen,’ Inga stated with a knowing smile, ‘I’ve offered him the skin for his prestige and honour amongst the tribe.’

‘So that’s why he’s in such a rush, and perhaps other creatures eating it, wrecking the skin?’

‘I hadn’t thought of that, and probably neither has the chief!’ Inga stated.

‘The chief has a longer stride than most, particularly I, as I’m only quite small!’

‘You as big as you need to be,’ Inga commented, ‘and as able as most!’

‘And as willing as most!’
‘I’m sure you are Col,’ Inga deliberated, ‘and you’re a skilled hunter, as good as any other amongst us!’

‘Not as skilled as you,’ Col stated, ‘and yes, I get my kills just as any other!’

‘You might get a kill today if your lucky, this is a good trek for game.’

‘I never thought to hunt along the way, I’ve just been walking idly just as the others were!’
Just then the chief strolled over to Inga.

‘Are you praising our hero of the day for his achievement with his skill as a hunter?’ The chief asked Col.

‘You know,’ Inga stated to the chief, ‘we should also hunt along the way if the situation arises, and be prepared to give chase, and walk stealthily,’ Inga said while eying up the chiefs bulky build!

‘That’s a great idea Inga, and I’m sure you’ll lead us to a kill at the front; and I’ll be right behind you in your chase!’

‘Not to close,’ Inga protested, sure that the chief would be a hindrance rather than an aid! He then had a thought, about the size of the tooth tiger, and the number of hands needed to retrieve it, and any other carcass being a hindrance to that task at hand, then quickly thought to reason it:
‘We could come back for any animals we kill, just as were doing today!’
‘Nonsense, we’ll carry any kills today,’ the chief rashly and inconsiderately stated, as he himself would surely not be participating in any carrying!

‘Where’s Fist? Did he not want to join us this morning?’ Inga asked for the sake of asking, and was rather relieved Fist hadn’t joined them!

‘I never asked him,’ Manbula replied, ‘and why should I, he’d probably only spoil our day! And why should I let that happen!’

‘Fist is a skilled hunter,’ Col stepped in to mention, ‘many a time we’ve been on hunts together; he’s quite fast on his feet!’

‘He’s got a stride like his father,’ Inga quipped.

‘And large muscles,’ Col mentioned.

‘You’ll have I blushing,’ Manbula stated with a sense of pride. He knew he was the largest in the village, particularly with his bulging stomach! He sucked in his belly, then stuck his chest out for all it was worth, and then held that stance until he gave in to his lapsing muscles, then let loose his bulges once again, and sighed a long breath of relief for the effort it took!

‘I presuppose you slept well after your arduous effort yesterday?’ Manbula asked Inga.

‘What man wouldn’t sleep well being in the arms of Shy,’ Col stated with a pang of enviousness!

‘Now you’ll have I blushing,’ Inga said with a sense of hidden pride, yet this pride burst forth onto his face as he beamed a wide smile of unwanted acknowledgement!

‘There’s a rabbit,’ Col stated as he quietly picked up his spear, and readied himself to launch it at the creature. He stood there almost motionless, as he aimed the deadly weapon at the unsuspecting target a little distance away.

‘Wait,’ Inga said as he picked up his own weapon, ’we’ll throw our spears together and standing a better chance!’

‘That’s logic reasoning,’ Manbula mentioned, ’let I throw mine too!’

‘Get the others to do likewise,’ Inga said to the chief.

The chief felt a little embarrassed at not thinking this himself, yet this instantly subsided as he got the others to do the same.

‘Let the chief launch his first?’ Inga stated to Col, ’and we’ll follow suit.’
‘Look, here’s two more,’ Col observed in a whispered tone, ’hurry up then!’ He rashly barked at the chief, who stood there without his weapon in hand!

The chief seethed at the command, and his face boiled red in anger, as well as in frustration, as he wasn’t prepared as the others were, as he was just going to stand by and watch from his perspective!
Everyone concentrated on the kill, and the chief took careful aim, before releasing his spear from his throwing stance. The others quickly followed suit, and eleven spears suddenly rained down on the rabbits with deadly intent! One rabbit was pierced, and fell instantly, and the other two quickly darted for cover.

‘YES,’ Manbula boomed, running instantly over to retrieve the kill.

Inga wondered who would carry such a small carcass while the others struggled with the tooth tiger. The journey back would be arduous indeed, and he hoped the chief would carry it then to alleviate their arms with the weight of the beast. Inga didn’t realise it, but he thought like a chief at times, and often was a trusted aid to the chief, offering sound advice in dire and other situations.

The chief strolled back beaming, while holding the rabbit aloft by its long ears.

‘Do you think my spear got it,’ Manbula half heartedly asked Inga, as all the spears were similar!

‘Who knows, it could have been, as much as any one else.’
The chief chanted a prayer:

‘I pray, oh sun god, hear I. I am a warrior of the Ashanti tribe. Spear kill rabbit, take spirit of rabbit!’

Inga strolled over to retrieve all of the spears, and searched for rabbit holes as he did so - finding none in the immediate vicinity. He strolled back to the others, and dumped the spears from out of his arms onto the grassy embankment. Each of them quickly retrieved a spear, as to be without one rendered you to be defenceless against formidable predators!

‘We might see some more along the way?’ Col commented to Inga while the chief lapped up the success of the kill with the others.

‘Its likely,’ Inga stated, ’I like rabbit. They don’t feed many mouths though, and there are many in our tribe!’

‘That is so, but if we kill enough, there’ll be enough to go around.’
‘Is it likely we’ll kill so many, I think not. Just this one isn’t even enough to feed the eleven of us!’
‘Rabbits must have many predators hunting them,’ Inga philosophised, ’there’s the badger, the fox, dogs, humans, and perhaps many more who can catch them or dig them up.
‘Do you think lions hunt rabbits?’ Col curiously asked while taking the precaution of glancing about, and picking his spear up!

‘You’d think so wouldn’t you. And they have big enough claws to dig up the rabbit holes. I’ve seen badgers digging up rabbit holes, near by the village. I was strolling about one night and unexpectedly chanced upon them.’

‘Badgers can be vicious, I’ve chanced upon them once, and each time I went to close they charged I!’

‘Little and dangerous,’ Inga stated, ’and they have sharp teeth too!’

‘And claws.’

They sat there quietly for a while, listening and taking in the scenery before them: the sound of the stream trickling down the trail with the chiefs voice booming over it! Tall grass waved about in places, being gently brushed by the cool breeze cooling them, various types of birds were flying safely from here to there, seemingly without any cares in the world, daffodils and other flowers rich in blooming colour were swaying, as if dancing to the tune of peace and tranquillity - besides the chief!

Inga was thinking about the chief, and how big and clumsy he was; and how his booming voice could attract unwelcome visitors! He kept a vigilant watch-out, as was Col, particularly after thinking about lions earlier!

The chief came over to Inga and Col with one of the skins containing food, and offered them to take something out. Inga grabbed a few strips of meat, and a quarter of cauliflower, then Col glanced in the bag, and retrieved the same.

‘Fill your belly’s then we leave,’ Manbula informed them, then said to Inga, ‘you can come in the lead with I again. I like your company Inga, you’re an intellectual worth listening to; not like some I’d rather not listen to, who ramble on about trivial pursuits, when you’re much more of a warrior than many, Inga!

Inga looked up with his mouth full of meat, chewed for a while, then nodded his head in acknowledgement as he wrestled with the meat in his mouth, and time being an issue to respond! Finally he finished chewing, the chief was glancing about - still standing, Inga observed, hardly rested at all, and thought, he was big on his legs anyway, and perhaps his pace will diminish to an average pace, instead of racing on at this particular moment in time.

‘I am a warrior like many also!’ Inga responded, ‘and Col here is interesting too, perhaps he can share our company in the lead, and we’ll travel by each of your sides, protecting you from unsuspecting predators!’

‘Fine,’ Manbula agreed as he glanced over at the others, who would protect him too!

‘Perhaps you should rest your legs before we leave,’ Inga said, feeling a little sorrier for his chief now he’d been agreeable!

‘Bless you Inga you’re right, I’ll sit down now and rest while you eat!

Inga nodded his head as his mouth was again full. He looked over at the chief, and had a little sense of pride he’d suggested him to rest! The chief’s belly bulged over his thighs, and Inga wondered how long he’d keep his pace up again, and wondered how such a weight would combat the heat of day soon, where the heat would peak into burning you! The trail offered some shade, but you had to manoeuvre around the trees, that littered the pathway besides the stream, and sometimes these were perilous with various types of pot holes that could easily sprain an ankle! Inga thought how he’d like to walk in the stream, that cooled his feet, but Inga could tolerate the heat, but perhaps the chief less, particularly with his age, and Inga was in his prime, and had a good athletic build to keep him ongoing!

‘Do you think we should send a scout ahead of us,’ Inga stated to the chief after swallowing his meat, ’for safety’s sake!’

‘That would be safer,’ Col agreed.

‘My how you pussyfoot around me! Am I not a great warrior as well as being a great chief!’

‘That you are,’ Col instantly agreed.

Inga paused for thought, before delicately replying:

‘You are chief, but I can’t help but feel you’re a magnate to predators!’

‘You worry to much Inga,’ Manbula responded, ’am I not a considerate foe to predators also!’
‘Very considerate.’

‘You’re too protective, which is nice, but hard-wearing at times! I’m prone to a sense a danger, good for a sense of adventure!’

Inga blushed a little, and felt pangs of guilt for his comment, but he was only being honest, and he’d knew the chief would take it light-heartedly!  He ate another strip of meat to occupy his thoughts and distract him from feeling awkward! After swallowing, he said to the chief:

‘I’m sure you’ll be first onto a kill if the situation arises, just as any of the others would, an equal among many!’

‘I am as able as any here,’ Manbula assured Inga, ’and I have a large stride. And I’m fast on my feet for a short distance!’

‘I’m sure you are,’ Inga agreed, ’and we can run the distance if we get any wounded prey!’

‘I may be aged, but I’m still able,’ Manbula mumbled, more to himself than the others! ‘If there was one tooth tiger in the area, there may be more. What if that one had a partner?’

‘The strongest likelihood is that it was single, as they would have been prowling together, particularly while hunting!’

‘Not if they’ve got young ones to rear,’ Col suggested before tucking into another piece of meat.

‘That’s a possibility,’ Inga agreed, ‘but hardly likely, but I suppose they might breed at this time of year. Yet, no, how many sightings have there been of tooth tigers within our tribe - hardly any! Within my time anyhow.’

‘But what we don’t see we don’t know,’ Col suggested after swallowing what was in his mouth, ’and how many tooth tigers have been existent near us while were safely tucked away within our village! Perhaps many!’

‘They would be cunning as to keep out of sight of a majority while they’re the minority,’ Inga said.
The chief admired their intellect, and topic of conversation, and thought that perhaps having Col at the lead was not a bad idea after all! The chief stared at Col: he had long, scruffy black hair, sunburnt face and body, handsomely average features, and he was quite tall - not as tall as the chief though!
They sat there in silence for a while. Inga and Col ate, while the chief watched them. Inga and Col were still ever watchful, and often glanced about their perimeter within this spot of nature. The chief noticed, and glanced over to the others to see if any of them were watchful! Inga noticed the chief noticing, and said:

‘Perhaps we should designate lookouts, then there’ll be no confusion to who is watching where!’

‘You’re right, Inga. Who knows if a tooth tiger might chance upon us unawares.’

‘I’ll keep a watch on this side,’ Inga offered, ‘and designate others for the other directions.’

‘Nonsense, you’re the man of the moment. And anyway, I’m speaking to you. SONNY,’ he shouted over to one of the other tribesmen, then when Sonny turned around, beckoned him to come over to him.

Inga grimaced at the chief being so loud with his booming voice, as he had little realisation, or just wasn’t concerned, or had been, but was now! Inga weighed up Sonny as he arrived: a competent hunter, ten years older than Inga; slim and slender frame, average height, with an ugly face with buckled, black teeth!

‘Designate lookouts in all directions while were resting here will you,’ Manbula ordered Sonny, ‘and when we leave you scout ahead of us.’

‘When do we leave then,’ Sonny asked.

‘You want to leave soon do you while I haven’t rested much yet,’ Manbula inconsiderately stated to Sonny, who was none the ware of the chiefs resting, ‘how inconsiderate of you, Sonny. May the sun god curse your inconsideration of your chief! Now Inga here on the other hand is very considerate, he offered me to rest and to share his meal,’ the chief deliberately lied to boost up Inga’s consideration of him, ‘go on then, we need lookouts, are you not concerned for your chief’s safety!’

Inga noticed Sonny looked dumbfounded, then quickly scurried away to bade as he was stubbornly told! Inga couldn’t help but smile at the chiefs lack of tactfulness in getting his way! Col was also smiling with a mouth full of meat! They all watched the others get down to the chief’s business, and before long designations were in place. Sonny looked back at the chief, who nodded in satisfaction.

‘Sonny will lead the way while you two join I safely at the front,’ Manbula commented to Inga and Col.

‘That’s good,’ Inga replied, ‘Sonny is a good lookout, I’m sure he’ll serve you proud in the lead. He’ll keep a good watch for possible prey too!’

The chief stretched out his legs, and tried touching his toes, to no avail, and he knew the result would be as such! He curled his legs back in, then easily touched them, massaging to sooth them. He was heavy on his feet, and he knew it, but he had long, strong legs that supported his weight, but his feet were less prone! Nevertheless, he would still march on regardless!

‘Inga,’ Manbula said, then curiously asked, ‘touch your toes with your legs straight!’
‘Do you think I can?’ Inga asked back.

‘We don’t know until you try - STUPID!’

Inga tried and couldn’t manage it, must to the chiefs appreciation, as he could not do it himself, Inga reached further down the chief though!

‘Hold on,’ Inga called out, ‘I’m just warming up. Let I have a few more goes yet until I stretch further down. I’ll do it slowly and possibly surely, as I don’t want to suffer any undue injury!’
And made multiple attempts, and each attempt was further down the last, then after the fourth attempt, he successfully accomplished the deed at hand.

‘Well done, Inga,’ Manbula cheered, ‘you tricked us to begin with though!’
‘It’s a sensible way to accomplish it, that’s all. Can you do it Col? Inga asked, then felt a little stupid for the question as Col still had some food left in his lap.

‘I’m still eating. And yes, I could do likewise to Inga - I think!’
The chief weighed Col’s frame up, slim and slender like Inga, and presupposed that, yes, he possibly could do it.

The chief copied Inga’s tactic to accomplish the task, and reached considerably further down his legs, and grasped his shins, but not his toes! He sighed and gave up relinquishing the accomplishment, saying:

‘I have a large stomach in my way hindering the journey down!’

Inga surveyed the chiefs stomach, bulging over his thighs, and quietly agreed.

‘I used to be able to run and jump over,’ Col said after swallowing a mouthful of food.

‘What do you mean?’ Manbula asked.

Inga new what he meant, as he had seen Col do it many a time during his youth.
‘You know, jump over,’ Col reiterated as he waved his finger in a circle indicating what he could do, ‘I haven’t done it for some time though; and who knows, I’m much bigger now!’
‘You could try at the least,’ Manbula goaded him, ‘I’d like to see this jump over.
‘Or spin over,’ Inga said, explaining it a little better than Col.

‘I don’t know about this ground for running on though,’ Col stated, not really wanting to do it, and regretting mentioning it now, as he was trying to impress the chief with what he could do, not what he could now do!

‘I am bigger now,’ Col muttered, ‘and its quite dangerous. And I might attract predators!’

‘NONSENSE’ Manbula boomed, wanting Col to do it, ‘It’ll be a sight for all to see. We’ll enjoy it!’

‘I won’t if I come crashing down,’ Col stated in his defence.

‘You’re an able warrior aren’t you,’ Manbula stated, trying to persuade him otherwise, secretly wanting to see him crashing down, seeing it as harmless fun, and seeing Col as hardly likely to sustain a serious injury from a short tumble!

‘Come on then,’ Manbula goaded Col, waiting impatiently, ’hurry up and eat your food. I want to see this jump over, or spin over.’

Col eat regrettably fast, wanting to bide his time, as he was not sure he could still do it. He glanced at the chief waiting for him!

The chief called Sonny over and explained what was to ensue, and he swiftly went and told the others. Col, the poor soul, could feel many eyes bearing down on him as he quickly ate his cauliflower. He soon finished, and nervously and shakily went bent down to lap up a hearty drink. He then went and found a suitable position a little distance away, going to perform the precarious task in front of the others waiting. He sucked in a few deep breaths, preparing himself mentally.

‘GO ON THEN,’ Manbula boomed, ‘HURRY UP.’

Col sucked in more air, trying to shake away his nerves, and he clenched his muscles to prevent himself from physically shaking!

‘After the count of three,’ Manbula stated, ‘ONE, TWO …’

Col sprinted forward, and soon picked up the speed he needed. This was it, he was thinking, do or die, chance or fate! He leapt of the floor, spun in the air, landed back on his feet, but jolted forward at a speed he couldn’t cope with! He crashed into the ground right shoulder first, taking most of his weight. Dust sprawled all over him as he rolled over the top of the embankment! He lay there for a few moments, momentarily stunned and shocked! He could feel his shoulder throbbing with pain, then secretly cursed the chief for putting him up to it! He looked at the others, and was met with some curious glances by all, and some were smiling and sniggering, which turned into laughing at the site of him seemingly well, perhaps a bit battered and bruised, but nothing to be alarmed about! The chief was the first to come over to lend a helping hand, laughing jollily as he offered his hand out to pick him up from being sprawled on the ground.

‘You did it,’ Manbula stated with pride, ‘well done. I enjoyed watching it,’ he added with a beaming smile, then a snigger, then a full blown laugh. He picked up Col’s right hand, then went to pull him up, still laughing, and was suddenly surprised to hear Col scream in agony, ‘Sorry, what’s up?’
‘I’ve sprained my shoulder,’ Col replied, ‘and it hurts like hell.’

‘Give I your left hand then stupid,’ Manbula said, reprimanding him, and thus laying the blame firmly on Col’s shoulders!

Col blushed in stubborn pride, aggrieved at the incident still, and wanting to just lie there and not move his shoulder, but here was the chief forcing him to do things he didn’t want to do. He unwillingly gave the chief his left hand, and was thus raised from the dusty ground.

‘HE’S HURT HIS SHOULDER,’ Manbula shouted to the others, ‘AND ALSO HIS PRIDE!’ He quipped and smiled, ‘BUT HE DID IT, DIDN’T HE. SO WELL DONE TO HIM,’ he suddenly remembered the lookouts with his voice so loud, and sternly glanced at the group who were complacent with their own desires, except Inga, who was ever watchful, ’WHO’S SUPPOSED TO BE KEEPING A LOOKOUT,’ he stated as he strolled up to the group, ’get back to your posts. Am I not in danger if you’re not keeping a watch!’

‘But you told us to watch Col,’ Sonny complained.

‘Col’s been lying on the ground for a duration now, and you are not being mindful of your chief!’

The lookouts before duly went back to their allocated posts, and the chief was appeased. He brought Col back to Inga, helping him along the way, and sat him down on the embankment, being careful not to aggravate his injury. Col was thankful, and expressed this in his warm expression of being satisfied, for the instance of sitting down that is, and soon thereafter he was suffering again. Inga noticed him distressed, and had an ingenious idea to aid his injury!

Inga bent down to retrieve the skin sack, and ripped a strip off, then another, and another, until he had enough for the job at hand! He tied them all together in a loop, then threw it to Col, saying:

‘Tie that around your shoulder and put your hand through it so it’ll rest your shoulder.’

‘Why, thank you, Inga,’ Col responded as he bade as he was asked, ’that’s a good idea.’

‘Inga’s clever, isn’t he Col,’ Manbula stated with a sense of pride, ’always there to assist in a crisis!’
Inga’s cheeks reddened as he slowly blushed, as he was quite modest with his intellect.

‘Just trying to help,’ Inga said as he grabbed a few more strips of meat from the sack
Sonny came over to congratulate Col and to see how he was faring with his injury. After a short and brief conversation, he returned to the others to pass on his new found knowledge of the current affairs at hand, and that they would be leaving soon.

‘Perhaps I shouldn’t walk with you now I’ve sustained an injury,’ Col mentioned to the chief.

‘Nonsense, you can still talk can’t you. We have Inga by our side, Sonny up front, the others behind us,’ Manbula stated as a matter of fact, forgetting himself within this equation. Inga picked up on it.

‘And he has you to protect him also,’ Inga stated, not forgetting his chief was also a warrior.

‘YES HE DOES,’ Manbula boomed, agreeing with Inga, ‘I am the strongest here, and could easily wrestle a lion,’ he lied for effect, then stood up and flexed his muscles for all to see, which were bulging, regardless of a similar stomach!

‘YOU SEE, I AM STRONG. STRONGER THAN ANYONE HERE. ARE YOU PROUD OF YOUR CHIEF,’ Manbula boomed to the others, who looked mystified as to the chief’s rash behaviour. They stood there, unsure of themselves, with no one singling themselves out to respond, as the chief just stood there staring at them, waiting for a response!

‘I’m proud of you,’ Inga stated, on behalf of himself and the others, ‘and I’m sure they are too.’
‘And I’m proud of you,’ Col also stated, ‘you’re a great chieftain, and you are indeed the biggest of us all. You are like a bear in frame and size!

‘ARE NONE OF YOU PROUD OF I?’ Manbula called out to the others a short distance away.
Inga cringed at the noise, and noticed all of the lookouts were staring at the chief, and not indeed keeping a watch! Inga kept a vigilance from his vantage point alone, and was concerned about the others, the chief picked up on this too with being loud, more aware now he could attract predators, but still more concerned with his own affairs he carried on regardless:

‘AND YOU LOOKOUTS AREN’T KEEPING A WATCH OUT AGAIN, Manbula boomed, reprimanding them, ‘SONNY YOU WERE IN CHARGE, YOU’RE TO BLAME!
Sonny looked dumbfounded and stunned at the accusation, replying:

‘YOU NEVER STATED THAT I WAS IN CHARGE!’

‘YOU SHOULD HAVE REALISED IT,’ Manbula argued, ‘AND ARE YOU PROUD OF I?’

‘YES.’

‘THEN WHY NOT SAY IT WHEN YOU ARE ASKED INSTEAD OF STANDING THERE LIKE TREES!’

‘Sorry,’ Col muttered.

‘WHAT!’

‘SORRY!’

‘YOU DIDN’T SAY IT LOUD ENOUGH!’

‘SORRY!’ Col shouted even louder, getting confused within the conversation, as the last phrase was a response, not a request!

Inga wanted to distract the chief into a conversation with him, instead of shouting conversations with the others, and he questioned why Sonny had not come over, the realism of the situation was, that Sonny and the others were not as friendly with the chief as Inga and Col, and thus sometimes feel subjected, instead of respected, as the chief was not very tactile and delicate with his orders!

‘When was the last time you saw any lions?’ Inga asked the chief.

The chief turned to face him, then quietly sat down next to Col.

‘I saw lions a few days ago across the river; there was a pack of them. Hunting no doubt, and probably heard the females washing in the water - being loud!’ He hypocritically stated, realising his hypocrisy, but shaking it off instantly, he had no shame, he was the chief!

‘And why do you hunt alone at times?’ Manbula enquired of Inga while he scratched his behind, with no shame at revealing half of his buttock, which seemed as round as his belly!

‘I like to think,’ Inga replied.

‘And what if you saw lions prowling while you’re out hunting alone!’ Manbula exclaimed.

‘I’m a skilled hunter. I’ve always got my spear.’

‘But are not a few spears better than one.’

‘I’d go hunting with you,’ Col stated, ‘saves you going by yourself. Two spears are indeed better than one.’

‘And more are better than two,’ Manbula further stated, agreeing with himself more than the others, and looked about with his hands indicating the group, expressing that this was better.

‘But this isn’t a hunting party,’ Inga argued, ‘it’s to retrieve an animal not to kill one!’

‘But what have we just done,’ Manbula stated as he pointed at the dead rabbit yards away, ‘and who knows what we may chance upon along the way and back.’

‘Won’t we be carrying the tooth tiger on the way back!’ Inga argued again, ‘and be thus preoccupied!’
‘We can drop it if need be,’ Manbula responded, ‘and I’m sure you’d drop it as soon as possible if we chanced upon that pack of lions I saw!’

‘You want us too too,’ Inga reasoned.

‘Inga you have to argue don’t you. We was talking about you hunting alone and how dangerous it is. And Shy doesn’t like it, she’s said as much to I.’

‘But I like hunting alone. The kill is mine. I like the thrill of the chase. And I like the tranquillity of a peaceful walk without talking!’

‘You could get injured like Col here,’ Manbula stubbornly reasoned!
‘I’m hardly likely to copy those antics, now am I!’

‘You could get injured in a similar way,’ Col reasoned, ‘especially while giving chase, it’s dangerous under foot!’

‘How are you feeling?’ Inga asked Col.

‘Not too bad,’ Col replied, then sorrowfully added, ‘but I’m going to be incapacitated for a while now, which makes I sad.’

‘You can still carry your spear in your left hand,’ Manbula argued, feeling little sympathy for Col at this present time, as they would probably be a majority to a minority of predators in the area, if they chanced upon any that is!

‘But I’m right handed,’ Col argued, ‘and I’ll be stuck in the village for a sizeable duration after: that’s what I’m mainly thinking about!’

‘Then why didn’t you argue that before,’ Manbula stated, ‘instead of us reasoning otherwise!’

Col flushed at being reprimanded, and quickly busied himself by fidgeting with his make shift brace. Inga picked up his spear, and held it on his lap. The chief scrutinized his warriors, especially those on watch! It went quiet for a duration after that! Inga surveyed the scenery, and admired nature in the fullest, as he loved to see the wildlife, particularly birds, which were busying themselves with the time of day. He watched the butterflies dancing over the bushes, attracted by the flowers. He took in the vegetation, and scanned the immediate area for any herbs, noticing a few ants going about their daily business. The chief wandered in his thoughts to wearing the tooth tiger skin, and pondered the prestige and honour he would surely feel. Col gently massaged his shoulder, hoping to attract any sympathy from the chief, who was none concerned with his pain, as he couldn’t see it, as Col seemed to be coping really well, but the journey would soon be a foot, and how would he cope then, he mused. The chief finally got up, and declared to all that they were now going. He walked over to Sonny, and had a brief conversation with him about briefing the men, which he had, much to the chief’s liking. They then set off, with Sonny in the lead, then the chief, Inga and Col followed, with the others in tow. Inga noticed that no one was keeping a rear watch, and duly informed the chief, who stopped, and beckoned Sonny in the distance to return.

‘YOU NEVER ALLOCATED A REAR LOOKOUT,’ Manbula stated as Sonny neared them, not feeling inconsiderate at all ’you never allocated a rear lookout!’

‘Shall I do it now,’ Sonny sheepishly offered, a little bemused at seemingly being left to think for himself, or from the chief’s perspective that is!

‘I’ve already allocated somebody now. Get back to your post!’

Sonny hurriedly ran back to his position, relieved to be on his own, before once again setting off. He kept a vigilant watch on all before him as he made his way up stream. Inga didn’t need to give directions from here on, as they only needed to follow this stream, which carried on for miles. Half an hour into the journey, Sonny suddenly stopped, and carefully scanned the wooded area before him. The others soon caught up with him, and all crouched around him.

‘What have you seen?’ Manbula whispered for all to hear.

‘I saw something move in the bushes in the woods over there,’ Sonny said and pointed in the direction he was talking about.

They all surveyed the area in the distance, and it was a little hard to distinguish, as it was dark and dense. Then suddenly bushes moved.

‘There’s something there,’ Manbula whispered to Inga, ‘you go first and I’ll follow with Sonny.’

‘But what if it’s a predator,’ Inga objected, ‘can’t we wait to see what creature it is first!’

‘We might miss a kill if it runs away,’ Manbula assured Inga with his own reasoning, ‘we’re right behind you.’

‘But I’m first,’ Inga muttered as he crept forward in stealth.

Before long Inga neared the area of possible danger, and slowed down to a snail’s pace, creeping forward being careful not to disturb the undergrowth, and move any branches from bushes and small trees. He suddenly stopped, and lay dormant for a small duration. The chief and the others paused.

‘Form a semi-circle around Inga,’ Sonny whispered to the others.

They formed a semi-circle around Inga, still at a distance from him, and waited. The chief grew impatient, and crept up to Inga, to see the same vantage as he.

‘Can you see what it is yet?’ Manbula whispered to Inga, with Sonny by his side, and the others not far behind.

‘Not yet.’

‘Go further forward,’ Manbula whispered, encouraging Inga to face the danger he didn’t want to himself.

Inga held out his spear in defence, and was just about to move forward, when Sonny whispered:
‘Should we encircle it, and thus trap it in the centre?’

‘But what if it’s a predator,’ Manbula stated, momentarily forgetting to whisper, ‘it will surely fight it way out of a circle - trapped!’

‘We’ll kill it,’ Sonny whispered, assuring the chief.

‘Go on then,’ Manbula whispered, ‘encircle it. I’ll stay behind Sonny.’
Inga crept forward, as the others expanded their distances from each other, to flank and encircle the prey or predator! Suddenly a branch snapped under the chief’s foot, causing the creature to bolt out of the covering, and upon seeing Inga and the others, ran for its life!

‘IT’S ONLY A FOX,’ Inga shouted to the others, not really interested in giving chase to a fox.
The chief threw his spear, and the others in proximity did too, all missing the wily fox, who fortunately dodged each of them, but then Inga threw his spear, catching the unfortunate creature in its midriff.

‘WELL DONE INGA,’ Manbula boomed, ’the skin will make an excellent gift to Saybe,’ he stated, instantly laying claim to the kill!

All the others congratulated him, and Inga once again felt proud. The chief designated someone to carry the dead fox, and they once again set on their way. They walked for another two hours before Sonny came across the dead tooth tiger.

‘IT’S HERE,’ Sonny shouted for all to hear, causing all the others to run forward, wanting to glimpse the formidable creature, ‘AND IT’S BIG. AS BIG AS A BEAR!’ He ran over to the tooth tiger, admiring its size, form, shape, teeth! He felt the creatures muscles, and was doing so when the others arrived.

‘Inga,’ Manbula said, ‘you’ve made I a proud warrior. Thank you for the skin. Don’t ask me what one tastes like!'

They all marvelled at the creature, and Inga received much praise, adorning his pride almost constantly. The beast was still a site to see, even for Inga, and he wore with pride his beaming smile. Inga thought of the weight of the creature, and didn’t relish the journey back! It would take four at a time carrying it, he judged, thus having break intervals on the way back, which was good from his perspective, as he was to help carry the beast back. Inga felt proud that the chief was proud, and all admired Inga, much to his liking, and he lapped up the praise as the man of  the moment. The chief stroked the fur, and was satisfied it was a good skin indeed: he particularly liked the black stripes of camouflage.

Most took the time to drink, taking in the rest before their arduous journey back, sitting where they could, constantly glancing at the size of the tooth tiger, and what strength it must have had, and how brave Inga was!

‘This is indeed a skin to behold. Never in my lifetime have I seen a dead tooth tiger. Thank you Inga, you’re a brave warrior, and we’re all proud of you, particularly I, as I’ll be wearing it!’

‘You’re welcome,’ Inga responded, ‘and as I’ve said before, I’m proud that you’re proud. I’ll feel proud when you wear it.’

‘May the sun and moon gods bless you,’ Manbula stated, ‘you’re a brave warrior to fight such a beast. Are you sure  it was on its own,’ he added as he curiously looked about him, instantly noticing that no one was keeping watch as lookouts hadn’t been assigned, ‘SONNY!’ he boomed, ‘WHERE ARE THE LOOKOUTS. ARE YOU NOT CONCERNED WITH YOUR CHIEF’S SAFETY.’

‘SORRY,’ Sonny called back from his comfy vantage of the predator, as he was sitting on soft, long grass, setting off immediately to assign some of  the men to the task at hand, some stood up in acknowledgment, much to their credibility in Sonny‘s good books. The chief sat down, and rested his tired legs. The journey back would be less formidable as the journey here, as it was down hill all of the way.

‘I’ll keep the skull as an ornament,’ Manbula stated, ‘It truly is a sight to see. Very big. A full grown male perhaps!’

‘There abouts I should think,’ Inga replied as he shuffled his bottom about to try and get comfy, as it was hard ground where he was sitting. The chief was feeling it too, they’d chosen an unlikely spot to sit down on, full of hoof prints, dry and hard to test even the softest of posteriors! Inga remained still, as he focused on the tooth tiger, revelling in its majesty and awe! He curiously looked about, remembering the unfortunate incident, and stared long and hard where he’d been safely nestled, up the tree to his left. The chief was not as accommodating as Inga, and stood up to pull out some long grass, to hopefully be satisfied, and not uncomfortable!

‘You picked a place to sit, Inga,’ Manbula stated as a matter of fact, let’s sit somewhere else,’ he added as he weighed up other positions of advancement. The chief stood up, as did Inga, duly following his chief, and the chief made his way to the front of the tooth tiger, to have a vantage of seeing its ferocious teeth! They sat by the others in that position, with the chief shuffling Sonny over to have more space!

‘You resting while their watching,’ Manbula said to Sonny.

‘Yes, and when they rest I’ll watch, and some of the others.’

‘You know,’ Manbula said, ‘I saw a pack of lions across the river the other day. And they can cross further down river to the village. So keep your eyes open and your wits about you. I don’t fancy stumbling across them, know that would be a fight.

‘How many were there,’ Sonny enquired.

‘A pack,’ Manbula responded, not really sure, ‘perhaps six or seven, or more!’
‘A threat indeed then,’ Sonny responded, ‘luckily there’s a pack of us too!’
‘I like that phrase,’ Manbula stated, ‘a pack of us too.’

‘What do you think of the tooth tiger?’ Manbula asked Sonny.

‘In what respects!’

‘IN WHAT RESPECTS,’ Manbula boomed, annoyed at Sonny’s response, ‘why the whole encounter with Inga! Look at the size of it. Look at those teeth. A worthy predator. What do you think the skin will look like on I?’

Sonny was taken aback at the chiefs response to his response, and sulked at being sharply reprimanded, forgetting the last question as he reminisced the incident staring blankly into the space before him, with the chief being less discernable as he did so! Time went past without him responding, so the chief irritably repeated his question:

‘What do you think the skin will look like on I?’

‘Oh, fine I should think. It’s nice and furry. Should keep you warm in winter, mind, so that’s grand.
‘I’ll be honoured to wear it,’ Manbula stated, ‘and I’ll feel pride for Inga when I adorn it in public.’
‘Inga is a brave warrior to have killed a tooth tiger,’ Sonny reminisced, ‘and a skilled warrior. He’s good at throwing spears, it was his spear which felled the fox earlier.’
‘That he is,’ Manbula agreed with a sense of pride, ‘a skilled warrior indeed.’
Inga watched about him with a keen eye. He marvelled at nature, and loved to be out and about, especially up the mountains, with the splendid views down and up stream. He searched for butterflies, and saw a few floating merrily above a bush, landing occasionally on the flowers.
‘What are you staring at, Inga,’ Manbula enquired after seeing him looking as he was, and for a duration.

‘I’m looking at the butterflies. They float so elegantly; and don’t fly in your face like stupid moths!’

‘Butterflies are nice,’ Manbula stated, being agreeable with Inga, ‘they’re so calm, not so much collected.’

‘In what fashion or respect?’ Inga asked.

‘They seem dozy.’

‘There not dozy,’ Inga light-heartedly objected, ‘they’re majestic.’

‘They’re not majestic,’ Manbula disagreed, ‘Now the tooth tiger is majestic.’
Inga agreed, happy to change the subject. He liked butterflies, and didn’t care much if others didn’t, as it was his own personable preference!

‘It’ll take four at a time to carry the tooth tiger,’ Inga stated to the chief, ‘so we’ll have shifts along the way. It’ll be easier down hill on the journey back. Now I’m not saying it’ll be easy carrying the tooth tiger, that’ll be arduous indeed! I’ll take the first shift,’ he declared feeling fit and able.

‘Nonsense,’ Manbula said, ‘you can walk with I. Who else am I going to talk with on the way back!’

‘I’ll pitch in, I don’t mind,’ Inga declared, ‘and we have Col out of action with his injury!’

‘That we do,’ Manbula stated, ‘but we’ve still enough men for split shifts without you. I’ll hear no more of it. I feel safer with you by my side, as well!’

Inga reluctantly thanked the chief, pushing the subject no further, as he knew how stubborn the chief could be, especially with the mood he was in, overtly bossy! He glanced about at the lookouts at their posts, then satisfied, relaxed his own initiative of watching. He stared at the tooth tiger, absorbing his big teeth and jaws, and was thankful it never bit him, a ferocious thought! The sun breached a lonely cloud, and he squinted under its strength, then shielded his eyes with his hand as he focused on the chief, who was talking to Col.

‘You can carry the dead rabbit we have,’ Manbula inconsiderately stated.

‘But what about my spear!’ Col sternly objected, not relishing the thought of walking without his spear, especially with a pack of lions possibly in the area!

The chief realised the dilemma, from Col’s perspective, and was about to relent, feeling sorry for Col, and regretting bringing it up in the first place, when Inga spoke, instantly changing his mind:

‘The ones who are carrying the tooth tiger won’t be carrying their spears too!’

‘YES,’ Manbula boomed, then totally changed his tune, un-phased by his earlier thoughts on the subject, ’that’s inconsiderate of you. Someone has to carry the rabbit, and why shouldn’t it be you. Four others won’t have their spears also, and who’s going to carry the spears - their you go, be thankful you haven’t got your arms full of spears!’

Col stared at Inga, outraged at his intervention, and offended he never considered his safety, as a spear in his left hand was better than not having one in his right, and he was right handed! Inga felt the offence under this spell of scrutiny, and busied himself with fidgeting with his fingers in his lap, avoiding looking back. He felt guilty, and had rashly spoken out, and now felt a sense of shame for his inconsideration! The chief didn’t though:

‘Can you manage two. YES, we can fit one over your arm in the sling. The fox perhaps!’
Now Col reverted to sulking, distracted by the inconvenience of having another animal to carry, he now starred sulkily at the chief, in the vain hope of remorse, from the chief’s part, at having mentioning it, taking more pity for his incapacitation and vulnerability!

‘I’ll carry one of the animals,’ Inga offered, feeling deeply sorry for Col, who would now be labouring without a spear, and incapacitated as he was, and as vulnerable he must feel! Inga felt the sentiments that Col wanted the chief to feel!

‘NONSENSE,’ Manbula barked, ’I’ll hear none of it. Inga I want you able by my side, at your sharpest, not hindered and distracted by what you’re carrying.’

‘Then who will carry the spears,’ Inga stubbornly stated, half under his breath, but enough for Col to coherently hear, ’I’ll carry them then.’

‘What!’ Manbula said to Inga.

Then Inga had an ingenious idea.

‘The split shift can carry the other spears, thus having one in each hand, which will be better for them, and us, if we come across any predators, particularly that pack of lions you saw the other day across the river!

The chief marvelled at Inga’s intellect, and duly agreed that was indeed a safer and more appropriate way to go about the business of the spears, and held Inga in high esteem, when he said to Col:

‘Inga is very clever is he not? He amazes I at the best of times. A good advisor, and a great friend.
You realise I need his safety at the front. YES, Col, your chief is walking at the front, protecting you and the others carrying behind. You’ll also have eight spears protecting you with the four that aren’t carrying. Now don’t you feel grateful your chief and Inga will be protecting you from the front!’
Col instantly thought the chief a liar, as Sonny or others would be scouting at the lead, thus the chief and Inga would not be leading!

‘Yes I’m grateful,’ Col sulked, holding back his true thoughts, particularly the chief and Inga would not be taking part in any carrying, when he should not be carrying anything but his spear.

‘How is your arm,’ Manbula considerately asked, softening the blow in his own little way, ’it can carry a little weight. A fox doesn’t weigh that much, so it won’t be that much trouble to you. You moan too much. And why are you sulking! You think I don’t notice you! Of course I take into consideration your ailment, and is it not better for eight spears to surround you. And anyway, you’ll struggle to use the spear in your left hand with being right handed!’ Manbula hypocritically added, realised, and felt no shame, then added, ’in fact there’ll be eleven spears protecting you. Inga can carry your spear, and thus have two like the others!’

Col reluctantly handed Inga his spear.

‘Am I taking any shifts with the tooth tiger?’ Sonny enquired of the chief.

‘No, you can remain the scout all the way back to the village. Be careful not to venture to far, as these will probably have a slow pace carrying the tooth tiger!’

‘I’ll keep a constant look back,’ Sonny rashly responded.

‘NOT CONSTANT,’ Manbula barked, ‘just now and again.’

‘I didn’t mean it literarily,’ Sonny stated, offended by the reprimand!

‘Well it wouldn’t harm you to be specific. Can I read your mind! We won’t hunt on the way back, alright.’

‘I gathered as much,’ Sonny hastily responded.

‘WELL, CAN I READ YOUR MIND. You sit their quietly, who knows what you’re thinking. You should inform I more!’

‘In what way!’

‘Now Inga knows how to inform. He’s very able, you know. Tells me his thoughts. Now go and allocate four to lift the tooth tiger, I want to see how it is!’

‘How what is?’ Sonny slowly responded, the heat of the day eating up his thoughts, distracting him, as his sunburn blazed over his shoulders! He scratched his arms, peeling skin as he did so!
The chief just sat there staring in disbelief, then finally stated.

‘You should sit in the shade. Inga tell this fool why!’

Inga was taken aback, not really having thought it through yet, and stumbled with his answer, when the realisation of the situation came to pass:

‘The chief wants to see how able the men are carrying the weight of the tooth tiger!’

Copyright: Andrew Stevenson 26/11/12

Thank you. Love love, Andrew. Bye.