by Jonathan Brazee
Nik stared across the glen, his thoughts drifting despite his father’s earlier admonition to keep alert. The Tujat had been encroaching on Nadal land lately, and the disappearance two days ago of Lokit could have been the result of a Tujat raiding party. Tujat women seemed to have a hard time surviving, so the Tujat men were constantly looking to steal mates.
But the sun was warm on his face, and the Tujat seemed a long way away. He leaned is bony body back against the large boulder behind him, feeling the boulder’s radiant heat seep through his back, and contemplated his young life. Things were good for the Nadal, and for him in particular. His father had been chief for over three years now, so Nik carried a small degree of reflected status. Food was plentiful, and the band’s health was generally good. In a few more years, he would join the men in the hunts, but for now, he hunted small animals like mice and frogs with the other boys or stood on watch as he was doing today.
He heard a grunt and looked over to Jun, his watch partner. Jun was behind a fallen tree, supposedly looking over the same glen as Nik. But Jun seemed preoccupied, his back towards Nik and facing away from the glen. Nik was puzzled. It didn’t look like Jun was taking a piss, and who would piss right in his hide spot anyway?
Was he…? Nik stood up to get a better look. He was! He was yanking!
Sex was not particularly hidden in the band. At such close quarters, it would be difficult to do so. But boys were not privileged to spill milk. They had to wait until they were raised to men, to become full members of the band.
Oh, of course all the boys did yank when they became old enough that their bodies cried for it, but always off in private, out-of-sight of the others. And they never yanked while on watch.
With one more glance across the glen first, Nik started to creep forward. If he could make it over to the tree, lean over it, and pull on Jun’s shoulders, Jun would shit right then and there! That would teach him!
It only took a few moments for Nik to make it the short distance to the tree. Not that Jun would have noticed a cave bear if it had come up to him, Nik thought. He started to reach over the tree trunk to grab Jun’s shoulders when he saw that while one hand was occupied yanking, Jun’s other hand was holding something. He couldn’t quite make it out.
“What is that?” he asked, curiosity overcoming him.
Jun’s reaction was gratifying. He jumped up in the air and spun around, one hand still on his horn. His face flushed red as he stumbled back a step. There was a look of horror on his face for a moment, but it faded to a sheepish grin as he shrugged his shoulders and held out his other hand, palm open.
Jun held out a piece of limestone, a little smaller than his palm. But the limestone was a figure of a woman. Her huge breasts and belly were prominent, as was her oversized honeycomb. Nik reached out to pick it up.
“How…where did you get this?” he asked wondering, turning the small figure over in his hands.
Jun bent down to pick up an antler tine which he brandished at Nik. “I made it. With this.”
Nik imagined he could feel the heat of a real woman emanate from the stone. The detail on it was remarkable. The breasts hung ponderously to rest on a huge belly. The honeycomb unnaturally protruded, and he thought he could almost see inside. Huge haunches made up the figure’s butt. A large hooked nose made up most of the face. There was an anklet carved above each foot, and only one woman in the band was allowed those.
“This is Teerak!” he shouted, almost dropping the figurine.
“So I’m a good artist, then?” laughed Jun.
Teerak was the band’s shaman. An immense woman, she was more powerful than anyone else, even Nik’s father. Nik hurriedly handed the carving back to Jun as if it would burn his hand.
“Why her? Aren’t you afraid? She could cast a spell and make your horn fall off.”
Jun laughed. “Why not her? She’s a woman, right?”
“But she is our shaman!”
“Yea, and she always wears the girdle, right? Haven’t you ever wondered about her honeycomb?”
The women in the band wore clothes only for warmth and protection, and nudity was not part of the band’s taboos. Only Teerak hid her genitalia with her shaman’s crow-feather girdle. And as much as Nik feared her, he had to admit that he did wonder if there was something different about her honeycomb.
“Yea, but, well, she’s so fat! I thought you liked Kud, and it would take three Kuds to make one Teerak!”
“Kud’s pretty sexy, yea, and I’m going to take her when I am raised. But I am an artist,” he said, with mock sincerity, “and this piece of limestone just called out to release the Teerak in it.”
Nik took the figurine back. “Well, it does look pretty good. And you did this all yourself?”
“Just me and my bone!” He held the antler tine down to his crotch, aiming it up.
Nik laughed and turned the figurine around, touching the antler tip Jun was holding erect to its prominent honeycomb. “How is that?”
“Oh Teerak, I love your huge ass, your huge tits! Let me do you hard!” he replied with a theatrical tone of ecstasy.
Nik never felt the blow against the side of his head which knocked him to his knees. He tried to get his thoughts together. Had the Tujat come? Were they attacking?
He felt more than saw Jun on the ground beside him. He managed to look up, and he almost wished the Tujat had come. His father stood over him, face red in anger. He reached down and grabbed Nik’s bone and nuts, then lifted him up to his feet. Nik cried out in agony.
“So this is how you stand watch? This is how you protect The People? By playing vile little games with each other?” He twisted Nik’s bone. “I should rip this worthless worm off, because you are never going to be a man, you are never going to use it on a woman!”
Nik was till holding the figurine, and his father took it from his hand. As he took in the features, his face went from red to white.
“Are you two crazy, or just stupid? Teerak? What spirit possessed you? I won’t need to rip your little worms off. Teerak will make them shrivel up and turn black!” Spittle flew from his mouth as he ranted.
“This is a perversion! “ He turned and cocked his arm back before heaving the figurine out over the glen. Nik watched the small stone turn over and over before it fell into the grass and was lost from sight.
24,000 Years Later…..
“So this is her. She’s, she’s beautiful.” Dr. Sarah Planchett bent down to examine the small figure in the secure viewing case. It was held in the standing position by a few unobtrusive wires. It stood on a mirror so the bottom view could be seen, was well-lit by small spotlights, and had three large magnifying glasses strategically placed so viewers could see the figurine’s details.
“I told you, she is simply remarkable,” Dr. Ernst Gruber replied. “This is one of the finest figurines ever found. You can tell she was made by an expert, a Paleolithic Michelangelo.”
“The jpegs you sent me didn’t do her justice. This just takes my breath away.”
“Well, enjoy her now. We expect a huge crowd in after opening. The Venus has received tremendous press, as you know.”
“And I appreciate you giving me access early, Ernst.”
“Professional courtesy, Sarah, professional courtesy.”
“It is more than that, Ernst, and you know it.”
“Well, Sarah, I admire you greatly, you know, and I have been a fan since your seminar at Lyon. So it seems right that you get a special peak at our girl, especially given your field of expertise.”
Dr. Sarah Planchett smiled back at Dr. Ernst Gruber for an awkward moment before he hurriedly continued.
“Ah, well, as you can see, as we wrote in the journal, the extreme exaggeration in the vulva, to the extent that is it almost prolapsed, while similar to the Magdalenian Venus and its incised vaginal opening, is very unique among other figures discovered so far.”
“Yes, the opening is very visible. And your team believes that this signifies fertility?”
“Well, beyond the obvious manifestations of what Paleolithic man thought of as beauty, the immense breasts and the very exaggerated vulva lead us to believe that this figure represents fertility, most likely a goddess. Even if heavy, even obese women are considered attractive at the time, no real human woman could have attained such size given the diet of people in the region. So she must be a goddess. See the anklets?”
“Dr. Martens has postulated that those represent fertility of the soil as indicated by worms.”
“Worms? That wasn’t in the journal article.” She took a closer look. “But now that you mention it, yes, they do look segmented, like an earthworm.”
Truth be told, she wasn’t sure about the veracity of the worm analysis. But they could be worms, she admitted to herself. The fact that she even had feet made her unique from most other figurines.
“The most telling argument that this represents a goddess is where she was found. There were no other artifacts with her. No sign of any human habitation. Most figurines can be found with middens, other artifacts, et cetera. This one was alone in deep loam. She had to have been buried there with all reverence due a goddess, although one of our Ph.D. students has postulated that maybe she was a sacrifice buried alone.”
“You’ve never found anything else in the vicinity?”
“Nothing. It’s a miracle that the good Herr Spitz, the excavator operator, even saw her while he was digging. We didn’t have anyone on site due to the location of the construction, but he saw her as his bucket pulled up a load, and he jumped down and dug through the dirt with his hands until he found her again.”
She shuddered to think of this priceless artifact being trucked away with the rest of the leavings, never to be seen again.
“And you think she is 50,000 years old? That’s at the limits of the Upper Paleolithic. That is pretty early for religious sacrifice. And that is pretty early for Pleistocene Overkill.”
“Well, without the middens or other artifacts, we can’t carbon date it. But given the depth of the soil and other tests done at similar levels, I would bet my position here at the university that we are within 5,000 years either way.” He paused for a second, wiping his brow. “Pleistocene Overkill is overrated, anyway. I agree with those who hold that simply eating a meat and fat diet from naturally grazing animals just can’t produce the obesity we see here. ”
They fell into a companionable silence for a few moments. Dr. Planchett stared at the Venus de Langerich. The small representation of a goddess must have been held in such high esteem by her makers, by her worshipers. And now she had come back to life, to welcome the adoration of a new age of men.