Forward to the Past!

Your voice has been heard, and rather than repeating our sojourn into the future, we’ve decided to change tactics and plunge backwards into the stream of time. Meaning the stream of time is flowing backwards, not that we’re swimming backwards. Because that’s a good way to drown.

Maybe in the past we can pick up some good tips on better metaphors.

Regardless, here we go!

You are in a cave, close to the entrance. For a minute it feels as if your mind has become detached from your body — the feeling of being transported through time. Looking out, you can see that you are high on a mountainside. A vast landscape of plains and lakes and patches of forests stretches beneath you. There is no sign of human habitation. You wonder if you are living thousands of years in the past, perhaps before the appearance of human beings. In the distance you notice dark moving specks, what might be a herd of grazing animals. Where there’s life, there’s food, and hope for survival you think.

OK, fine, rub it in that we went to the Earth of the future where it’s all a big huge wasteland. I didn’t think the Oracle of Time was so vindictive!

You sense a presence nearby. You whirl around, and your eyes meet other eyes. They belong to a boy who looks older than you, though he is a bit shorter. His wavy brown hair is shoulder length. he is naked except for crudely fashioned shorts made of animal skins. He looks more solidly built than any boy you remember. His muscles bulge as if he has been weight lifting. His bushy eyebrows are set on bony ridges above his eyes, giving him a brutish look; yet there’s something sweet and friendly in his expression.

“Hello,” you say.

“Iaark,” the boy replies. He steps close and stares at you. At that moment you hear a deep-throated growl. In the dim light near the back of the cave, you can make out an animal of monstrous proportions — a gigantic cave bear, larger than any bear in your own time! Terrified, you stand watching.

And really, that seems to be what we’re best at — standing in terrified paralysis in the face of danger.

The bear edges closer.

The boy touches you. “Narga,” he says, and pulls at your arm, then starts climbing the sheer wall of the cave, gaining handholds on rough niches in the rock. You watch with amazement as he pulls himself up by his arms alone. A moment later he slips into a cleft in the rock, safely out of reach of the bear. The bear follows the boy with his eyes, then turns toward you and growls so loudly it shakes your bones. You’d better do something fast!

The fundamental question here is, does “Narga” mean “Follow me” or “Good luck being that bear’s lunch”? And do we have the arm strength to climb up that wall with a giant bear chasing us?

You decide, we report!

About Jeff Hebert

Jeff is a 44 year old city boy who has somehow found himself located in Colorado, fulfilling his lifetime dream of making a living drawing super-heroes all day.

15 Responses to Forward to the Past!

  1. I vote for following cave-boy, whether he wanted us to or not, and hoping he either helps haul our weak, terrified ass up the wall, or that our adrenaline lets us make it on our own, because I’ve seen enough mauled-by-bear stories to know we can’t outrun one.

    (It’s weird that playing dead isn’t an option, because I think it might work, and it really plays to our strengths. Oh, well.)

  2. I’ve seen bears outrun cars on a bad road. We aren’t going to be able to run for it. Hopefully, this was written back in the day when they still made kids climb in gym class, and our character can do it here.

    And I love that the bear in the picture has used rocks to form a bin for his skull collection. That is just so cute.

  3. Me, Myself & I

    I say up the wall! Good luck out running a bear. Although I’m sure out spindly little arms will fail us. Yah, I’m a glass half full kinda guy. :)

  4. Narga = I don’t have to be faster then the bear, I only have to be faster then you!

  5. Well, it’s not Romans riding dinosaurs, but I’ll take it.

    Now climb, you frail beanpole! Climb like your life depends on it! Because it does.

  6. Running pretty much means death. I vote for the climb. Hope we don’t get our rears chewed off.

  7. *Breathes deeply, relived that my nostrils are filling with the freshest air I’ve ever taken in; not only that, but after the future, with its pungent melange of garbage and Soylent Green “love” lubrication, I’m strangely comforted by the accompanying stench of fresh bear dung wafting by.*

    Y’know, I too would have loved seeing Romans riding dinosaurs–spouting out orders in Latin with chest thumping gusto–but after the fiasco that was “the future”? I’m ok with playing out our own twisted, prehistoric version of BTTF III.

    :)

  8. Actually, thus reminds me of a joke I frequently hear during hiking season.

    Q: How do you prevent bear attacks while hiking?
    A: Most wilderness experts advise you to make lots of noise while hiking, which can be achieved by tying metal bells to one’s clothing. You may also find it helpful to keep a pepper-based bear spray to ward off bear attacks. Finally, be aware of your surroundings, especially animal feces. Grizzly bears, for example are more agressive than black bears.
    Q: How do you tell the difference between black bear feces and grizzly bear feces?
    A: Grizzly bear feces typically have metal bells in it and may bear the distinct odor of pepper spray.

  9. @Myro: So true.

    A family friend lives in Wyoming. Yes, you do wear bells in the mountains and woods to ward off bears when hiking.

    That killjoy said… this is starting to read Existential “Caves of the Mind”… John Goodboy’s encounter (Battlefield Earth).

    Unfortunately, there’s no option to kick the bear in the groonies…

    Listen to Iaark. I learned through “body language” to trust. It might kill you, but you’ll die smiling.

  10. I heard that you can tell the difference between black and grizzly bears by climbing a tree. If it climbs up after you, it’s a black bear. The grizzlies knock down the tree to get at you.

  11. @Bael: So, since we’re climbing a rock, we’d better hope this is an ancestral grizzly?

  12. Can I roll a 7 and get a laser gun? Oh, past. Maybe future dummy self could throw us a bone?
    X-Stacy is right. We had a good reputation of being dumbfounded by everything we saw, and now we have a chance to grow a set? Sheeeet, I knew the past was where our potential was all along!

  13. spidercow2010

    A gigantic cave bear walks into a bar.
    The bartender says, “What’ll it be?”
    After a LONG interval, the bear says, “…A beer.”
    The bartender says, “Why the big paws?”

    It’s a pun!

  14. Worf, cave bears have more hit dice than grizzlies, so I’m betting my life that they’re not really climbers. If you want to ask him about his mother, I’ll be watching from up here.

  15. My question is, given that our first word upon seeing a strange person who doesn’t speak our language was to say “hello” rather than our name, should we really be assuming that this kid’s name is Iaark? Was there any body language that makes this a better assumption than thinking that “Iaark” means “hello”? Or perhaps it means “&@#$!, where did you come from all the sudden??” Because I think that’s the sort of thing I would say if some weird-looking dude just appeared out of nowhere while I was alone in a cave.

    Or maybe it really was his name, in which case maybe he’ll make similar assumptions about us and conclude that our name is “Hello”? I would find that amusing.