Sidey’s Weekend Theme is “structure”…
Argh had leapt up that morning full of hope. Today he was going to catch the woolly mammoth that would feed his whole family for the entire winter. As the day had gone on this optimism had waned, down to I’m going to catch a boar, then a stoat, finally a rabbit. He sighed.
It’s not easy being the breadwinner at a time when they haven’t invented bread.
He decided to go into the forest to pick berries and shrubs. Gradually his family was involuntarily becoming vegetarian.
He emerged into a small clearing and stopped, staring in amazement at the structure in the centre. It was made of logs, had four walls, and a v-shaped piece that covered the inside like a lid. There was a small column pointing from one side of this lid.
In the middle of the front wall there was a large oblong panel. In front of the panel there was an animal pelt on the floor, with a sketch of two people rubbing noses, the cave-drawing symbol for ‘welcome’.
Argh knocked on the wooden panel and called “hello?”
“I’m coming,” said a voice, “and you might want to step away from the door.”
Argh stood back and heard from within the sound of someone charging toward the slab, a shoulder striking wood, and a yelp of pain. The slab fell slowly outward.
“Sorry,” said Ugg. “That’s the only way we can open it.”
“Ugg?“ said Argh. “What are you doing here? What is this place?”
“We live here now,” said Ugg. “Moved in last week.”
“Out here in the woods?” said Argh, “How s-”.
“Exactly,” said Ugg. “We call it a house, because that’s what people used to say when I told them about our plan for.”
It’s because they were starting to say “how stupid”, thought Argh. He followed Ugg inside.
“It’s not a house,” said Ugg’s wife Ogga, coming in behind them carrying, to Argh’s shame, a whole deer. “It’s a charming log cabin with a large south-facing garden and stunning views.”
“Views?” said Argh.
“Yes,” said Ogga. She pointed to a hole in each wall. “That’s what the windows are for.”
“Ah,” said Argh. “I thought they were just really big knots in the wood.” He looked out of one of them. “All you can see are trees,” he said.
“Yes, but they’re stunning,” said Ogga in a tone which suggested that it would be wise not to dispute this. “Shut the door, Ugg, there’s a draught coming in.”
Ugg walked outside, gripped the door to lift it then slowly pushed it into place. He then climbed in through the window. There was silence after this, the silence of two people who know they’ve made a mistake and one person too kind to point that out to them.
While this was happening Argh was trying not to look, while still sneaking a look, at what Ogga was wearing. It was a two-piece outfit made from animal fur, and while it covered parts of her that the other cavewomen didn’t cover, this somehow made it more alluring. She went off into another section of the house, where she could be heard shouldering a door open.
“It’s called a racquelwelch,” said Ugg. “Apparently it was the fashion back when we used to live among the dinosaurs.”
“What are dinosaurs?” asked Argh.
“According to Professa in the village, huge fearsome creatures the size of, well, a house.”
“Where are they now?” said Ugg, suddenly thinking that hunting might have been an even worse career choice than he had previously thought.
“Oh, they’re all dead,” said Argh. “Professa says they were wiped out by a meteor.”
“That was a bit unlucky,” said Ugg. “All of them being standing together exactly where the meteor landed.”
“Er, yes,” said Ugg, a little uncertainly. “Anyway, fear of the dinosaurs was why man moved into caves in the first place, and now that they’re gone we can move back out. This is our future.”
“But caves are warm,” said Ugg. “And you can draw on the walls. How can you do that here?”
Ugg pointed to some drawings, the traditional ones of men chasing large animals, large animals chasing men, and alien spacecraft. These, though, were drawn onto animal hide, and were pinned to a door.
“We stick them on our fridge,” said Ugg.
“It’s a small cupboard where we leave food and forget about it, then every month or so go through it and throw out anything that’s gone bad,” said Ugg. “Which is usually everything.”
“I see,” said Argh. “Well, I’d better go. It’s getting a bit chilly.”
“Oh, please don’t,” said Ugg. “We’ve never had visitors before. I’ll light the fire, it’ll be the first time.” He struck two stones together and a small spark fell upon a little pile of sticks, which began to smoke gently. The smoke drifted up and out of the column above it. “I call that a chimney,” said Ugg. “We won’t have to spend our evenings with our eyes stinging from the smoke.”
Argh hadn’t been listening, ever since Ugg had banged the stones together. “Let me get this straight,” he said slowly. “You’re lighting a fire in a structure made entirely of wood?”
Ugg looked confused by the question, then the light of comprehension crossed his face just as the light of flames began to lick their way up the wall.
Just then there was a crack of thunder and outside it began to rain torrentially. The rain poured straight down the chimney and onto the fire, which subsided in a cloud of steam.
“And of course,” said Ugg, “that’s its other purpose.”
Argh was just about to say that that was a bucket of shite when Ogga walked out of the back room carrying, well, a bucket of shite. She walked passed them to the window and hurled the contents out. Then she turned to Argh.
“We’ve got en suite,” she said proudly.