By John Page
The wind howled across the mouth of the cave. It seemed to knife through everything. If that wasn’t bad enough, the snow had been falling for weeks. This was a bad winter and an early one.
We thought we would have had at least one more month to get ready. This was another disaster in what had been a horrible year of setbacks. This was the worst one so far. We needed something to go our way.
My clan was growing weak. We had been forced to stop looking for food and seek shelter for the duration of the blizzard. Our meager stores of food had dwindled to nothing three days ago, and everytime we tried to look for anything to eat we had failed.
I was growing desperate. Everyone I knew and loved was starving. I had stopped eating anything a week ago as I knew I could last longer than the others. My grandmother was sick and needed every last bite of food. She was the worst off, but all of us had something wrong. Bear Claw had an itch in his eye that left it sore, red, and weepy. My sister, Rose, couldn’t stop coughing and my brother, Star of the Night, had hurt his leg. He now couldn’t walk after he fell during the last hunt that we had be able to do before the storm hit. We needed food to heal.
The desperation grew hour by hour. My own grief was different as I was not growing weak from lack of food. I was hungry, but I was not dying. I simply was. I was the only one unaffected by this and knew what I had to do.
I decided to step out into the snow and look for anything we could eat. I grabbed my furs, a basket, and my spear. My brother tried to stand up to go see what I was doing, but he couldn’t move.
Because he had hurt himself, I said, “Rest. I’ll find everyone food. I don’t mind the snow and I’ll be back within a day.” He looked worried but said, “Ok, brother, be careful.”
I went out into the cold. It stung as soon as I stepped out into the snow. I knew the valley well and felt that the maker above wouldn’t abandon us. I could find something.
I walked for hours searching every possible place. All I found was snow. I dug and dug but found nothing. Only white, cold pain existed.
I did not give up and instead kept looking for anything that could feed someone. Eventually when the sun was at the high point of the day, I found something. It was a wounded mammoth trudging through the snow. It was small, probably a juvenile beast. Still, it was potential food. My mouth watered at the thought of food.
I immediately laid myself on the ground and began plotting how to catch it. I would get as close to it as possible and spear it. I would then drag it back to the cave. Of course, one man couldn’t kill one of these great beasts normally, but I needed its meat and was beyond caring about the risk . Plus, I could wound it some more and maybe it would die of exhaustion.
As I crept closer to my clan’s salvation, the mammoth turned and looked at me. I froze as I wasn’t sure what to do. I looked behind me and saw that another mammoth was right behind me. This was a massive beast. It was three times the size of my prey and was mean looking .
The mammoth looked with outrage at me and charged. I tried to get out of the way but was gored by its right tusk. The pain was incredible, but in my panic, I ignored the fact I was probably already dead. I could only think one thing – I could not fail my clan. If I die, they die.
Something within me broke. I felt an anger that I never felt before. I lashed out with my spear at the mammoth and struck it repeat with all the force I could muster.
The beast tried to shake me off but only succeeded in getting me even more impaled on its tusk. I became mad with pain and pushed myself up the tusk. I somehow freed myself and went beserk. I attacked the beast for a long time.
It kept hitting me with it’s mass and I kept stabbing it. Eventually it grew weak and expired. I immediately started carving chunks off it to bring back to the clan. I worked without thinking and rushed off to the cave weighed down with food. When I got there, everyone started screaming and moving toward me. They kept babbling that I was hurt and asking what had happened to me.
I was confused until I looked down.
My clothes had been shredded by the fight with the mammoth, and I had a horrific wound over my chest. It was only just starting to scar over. I was covered in blood. Everywhere the mammoth had struck me was covered with some mark. I looked like I had been killed a dozen times from god marks.
I couldn’t speak. It finally occurred to me to ask what happened. How was I alive?