Exhibit A

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Humor  |  House: Short Short Stories!
A transcription of an historical document providing an insight into early human life.

Submitted: January 11, 2017

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Submitted: January 11, 2017

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The following account was discovered on the wall of an ancient cave in Northern Africa. It was written by an inhabitant of the time and is the earliest known autobiographical document of human existence. The writings have been translated by Lindsay Rutherford, Professor of Ancient Language at the Royal Academy. Where certain words and symbols were ineligible, some poetic licence has been taken in the transcription. However, the thoughts and events articulated in the original writings have been faithfully reproduced for the modern reader.

 

 

My name is Skavlin. I am from the Latumi tribe. You may have heard of me. I am writing this so that the truth of the injustice shown towards me might one day come to light. I am also writing this because, as an exile from the Latumi, I find myself with some time on my hands.

 

It’s hard to pinpoint the moment it all began to go wrong. My family were well respected in the community in which I was born and raised with my brother, Ilka. From the age of about ten, when Ilka and I had become more involved in the day to day customs and traditions of the Latumi, my parents had started to notice a difference between the two of us. Where Ilka was interested in the daily search for food and water, and the physical activities that the tribe exerted themselves in, I much preferred to remain at home, helping the tribe to prepare meals or creating ceremonial garments for the Latumi to wear during our regular celebrations and rituals. This wasn’t unusual. There were many others my age who were also inclined to spend the day in this fashion. Our parents encouraged us to do our own thing, forge our own path, as long as we were doing what came naturally to us. Both Ilka and myself were contributing to the Latumi tribe as a whole and that was all that mattered.

 

As the years passed, Ilka became an important figure in the Latumi. His strength and stamina grew and grew and when he had reached eighteen years of age, his athleticism and agility were equal to the strongest figures in the community. Two years younger than Ilka, my strength and stamina were average. I was not at all weak. I could help move heavy logs back from the forest or track an animal for miles if called upon. However, I was still much more at home at home. My finest attributes were finesse and creativity, and that was fine by me.

When I found myself in moments of solitude, I enjoyed conducting small experiments. For instance, seeing how many rocks I could balance, one on top of the other, before the pile toppled over. (Eleven is the answer, in case you were wondering.) Or working out how many strands of grass would be needed to be wrapped around the branch of a tree, with the ends tied to my waist, so that I wouldn’t fall to the ground. (Fifty-six as it turns out — although I was quite light at the time and I’m sure the results would differ if this experiment were conducted again.)

It was while I was undertaking another investigation, just after my seventeenth birthday, that I discovered something quite incredible. I had embarked upon an experiment to determine how long it would take for a stick to disintegrate while rubbing it together with another stick of the same size. The experiment was also designed to see whether both sticks would disintegrate at the same time or whether one of the two would crumble first — and if so, which one. The majority of the Latumi had left on a major hunting expedition earlier that morning and I had found myself an isolated spot in a small clearing in the forest. I sat down with my legs crossed, brought the two sticks together in the palm of my hands and began to quickly slide them back and forth against each other. Well, these were strong and robust sticks and as the sun crossed the sky above me, the disintegration of these objects did not appear to be forthcoming. Instead, I began to feel the sticks growing warmer and warmer, hotter and hotter, until a thick vapour began to emanate from the two of them. Now, I am not someone who calls an end to an experiment once it has started, even if it is not going in the direction one had imagined. I was sure that the disintegration would soon occur and I continued to rub the increasingly hot and cloud-engulfed sticks against each other. There came a point where the sticks became far too hot for me to hold and as I instinctively let go of them, they came into contact with the dry leaves and twigs on the ground beneath me, producing a hot, orange light which crackled and danced  — as if it were the sun, fallen from the sky and trying to get back up again. In time, the orange light became smaller until all that remained were the smouldering remnants of the twigs and leaves on the ground. The sticks had finally disintegrated, although not in the way I had envisioned at the outset. I made my way back home, looking forward to telling Ilka about my findings.

 

When Ilka returned from his expedition later that evening, I pounced on him, unable to wait any longer to regale him with the phenomenon I had encountered. I had already started to think of the various ways in which this new found substance could be of use — making food and drink hot when the air was cold, creating light when the sky was dark, keeping the tribe warm during the long winter nights. The possibilities were endless.

As I hurriedly articulated my thoughts about what this could mean for the Latumi, Ilka interrupted me.

“Stop rambling, Skavlin, and just show me,” he said, “show me what it is that you have found.”

 

The two of us returned to the same clearing I had conducted my experiment in earlier that day. Beneath the moonlight I found two similar sized sticks and repeated the experiment so that my brother could see for himself what it was I had been blathering on about.

As the night wore on, a newly formed orange ball once again emerged from the hot mist. Ilka turned to me, the light flickering in his eyes, “Remarkable,” he said, “this is truly remarkable. We shall tell the Latumi of your findings in the morning. This may be the greatest thing that anyone has ever discovered.”

“Oh, it was nothing really,” I said, modestly, “all I did was grab a couple of sticks and rub them together for a while.”

 

I slept well. It had been a long and eventful day. When I woke, Ilka had evidently gathered the whole of the Latumi together already, as our leader was about to address the entire tribe.

“Latumi!” He bellowed, “I must tell you of a marvellous thing a member of our tribe has dicovered. We will no longer be cold in the winter. We will no longer be blind in the darkness. Behold!”

As he said this, he pointed emphatically across the assembled Latumi, causing their heads to turn in the direction of a figure as it emerged from the distance. The figure was enshrouded in a thick mist and was carrying a huge branch. A huge, hot branch with the results of my experiment shining away at the end of it.  The figure was my brother.

“Here is Ilka!” our leader enthused, “Here is Ilka. The man who has brought this magnificent and wondrous thing to us. A substance I have decided to call ‘fire’. Hooray for Ilka! Hooray for fire! Hooray!”

“But it was me," I shouted, “it was me! I discovered fire! Not Ilka! Me!”

My words were never heard though. They were drowned out by the cheers of the Latumi as they congratulated my treacherous brother for something he had not done. I was enraged. I could feel myself growing hotter and hotter with anger and resentment until I was sure that soon, I too would turn orange and crackle and spit just as the fire had done. I stormed though the ecstatic crowds, a seething ball of fury, heading straight for my brother. When I reached him and before he could react, I ripped the fire covered branch from his hands, waved it in the air and screamed an unearthly scream which caused the whole of the tribe to stop cheering and to stare at me aghast. Then I ran with the branch and threw it with all my might at Ilka’s hut, engulfing it and everything in it with my fire.

“Revenge!” I cried, preparing to explain my actions to the Latumi and to inform them that Ilka was a liar and a fraud. But before I could, and before anyone knew what was happening, the fire continued to grow, quickly eating up the surrounded huts, destroying possessions and homes until all that was left was a mess — a horrible, burning mess of which I, and I alone, had been the sole creator. Of that there was no doubt.

“Skavlin!” our leader roared, “You are to leave the Latumi. You have inflicted a great atrocity upon us and you will never be welcome here again. Leave now and never return. There can be no excuse for what you have done. Nothing you say or do can atone for these terrible actions.”

The fire went out.

 

So here I am. An outcast. Expelled for an act of righteous vengeance which got out of hand. Ilka remains a hero of the Latumi, taking the credit for my discoveries; for his own sister’s discoveries. Shame on you, Ilka. You are no longer my brother. I am alone in this world now and alone in this cave. At least it’s warm though. At least it’s warm.

 

 

 


© Copyright 2017 E. G. Harris. All rights reserved.

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