American Hamster

With a great shuddering sigh, Bronwen snapped shut her laptop and leaned back in her seat. She was overcome with horror. ’A million dead,’ she muttered, massaging her temples. ‘One fucking million. And it’s all my fault.’

The virus had spread faster than anyone could have predicted. Except for the experts, of course — but who cared about them? The world had grown tired of experts; they kept harshing the vibe for normal, decent people like Bro. All they had to offer was doom and gloom; it had been like that for decades. It was just three weeks ago that she had finally snapped — but already, it felt like years. So much had changed.

She sighed again, then reopened the laptop to watch her infamous video yet again.

It opened with the winged-sword logo from Bro’s hit show, ‘Hard Men: Fuck Yeah!’, accompanied by overdramatic widdly guitar music. After a few seconds, the logo faded out to be replaced by a closeup of Bro’s face, staring heroically into the camera. Then Bro said: ’Hi there. I’m Brock Antleton, Hardest Man In The Whole Fucking World.’ A manly finger stabbed towards the camera. ’Nobody fucks with me. Not even Death.’ 

Bro gave a fearless grin before continuing: ‘Now then. You might have heard about this fucking virus. They’re calling it Corona, after the beer, which is a bit of a headfuck cos beer’s got fuck all to do with it. You can’t catch it from beer, and anyone who says different’s a fuckwit, alright? It’s safe to drink beer; in fact, it’s fucking recommended. How the fuck can you be a hard man if you don’t drink beer?’ 

Brock frowned. ‘What was I saying? Oh yeah. A lot of people are worried about the virus. But I’m not fucking worried, cos I’m well hard. And probably if you’re watching this you’re hard too, so you have nothing to worry about. If you’re weak you might be in a spot of bother — mainly old people, sick people, poofters, and the fucking Chinese. But if you’re not in that category, calm the fuck down, okay? Just eat plenty of meat and avoid lentils and weird foreign stuff like bats or curry. Don’t listen to the fucking experts — they’re out to cause trouble. They want to turn us all into queers or something. I dunno what their game is but my mate Dave’s been looking into it. He’s well hard too, plus he’s clever, so I’d rather listen to him than these weak fucking experts who can’t even manage ten press-ups without shitting their pants. What we need is some common sense. So take my fucking advice: beer and meat. No lentils or other foreign muck. Plenty of exercise. And that’s all I have to say on the subject. Brock Antleton, signing off — stay hard out there. Fuck yeah!’ 

And with that, the screen faded to black. The winged sword reappeared for a few more seconds, and the video ended.

Bronwen closed her laptop again, and then her eyes. ‘Jesus Christ,’ she said to herself. ‘What a fucking twat.’

Of course, there was no way she could have known how popular that video would become; still less that it would be viewed and shared by President Tantrumb himself, and used as a basis for US policy. There was no way Bro could possibly have known that. And yet it had happened, with catastrophic results. A million dead in the USA alone — and all that blood was on Bronwen’s hands; on her hands only. 

Something had to be done. 

Four hours later, Bronwen was ready. Of course, she had been born ready, born Brock. But now, as Bronwen, she was readier than ever. She was her true self at last — but inside, she hadn’t changed a bit. She remained Bro, to the fucking max. She was well hard. And only she could save the world.

The jet pack was fuelled up and ready to go. Her makeup was done, her nails immaculate. She was dressed to kill, a ninja in six-inch stiletto heels, black as night and twice as deadly. She admired her toes in the mirror, and grunted in satisfaction. I’m beautiful, she told herself. I’m brave. And above all, I’m stunning.

Strapping on the jet pack, Bronwen made her way to the back door. She paused only to collect Nibbles — her emotional support hamster — from his cage, and tuck him into her front pocket along with a generous handful of sunflower seeds. Then she stepped into the garden, locked the door behind her, and blasted off into the night.

Bro was most of the way across the Atlantic when the fuel gauge bleeped an alarm. This was not unexpected, and she knew just what to do. Ascending a little further, she scanned the waves below, made sight of a fishing trawler a short distance to the north, and changed direction to intercept. As she neared the vessel she switched the jet pack to whisper mode and began a slow descent towards the deck. She landed in near-perfect silence and moved quickly to take cover behind a large stack of plastic crates filled with flash-frozen fish — haddock, perhaps, or cod. 

From her refuge behind the crates, Bro scanned the deck in search of a fuel canister, but saw none. She cursed under her breath — she had hoped to avoid all contact with the crew, and thus the possibility of contagion. But the situation could not be helped. She drew her weapon, flicked off the safety, and stepped into the open. Stealthily, she made her way toward the lighted cabin. Perhaps, if she asked nicely — if she explained the situation — they would provide a few litres of kerosene and send her on her way. But if not, she was well-prepared for violence. Nobody ever said saving the world would be easy. As the adrenaline began to flow, Bronwen patted gently at her front pocket, and felt Nibbles stir in response. As always, she was glad of his presence; without him, it would be all too easy to lose control of her emotions. It had happened before, during filming, and—

She pushed the thought away, and brought herself back to the present. Stay sharp, she told herself; focus on the mission. 

She had reached the door to the cabin. From inside, she heard muffled voices, but it was impossible to make out the words. She paused to take some deep, slow breaths, and patted once more at her pocket. Then she raised her hand, knocked three times on the steel door, and stepped back. The voices stopped immediately, then resumed in a different tone: hushed, confused, perhaps a little worried. Bro cocked the gun, and dropped it casually to her side. She would use it only if she had to.

The door creaked open, and a head poked out to look around. A Chinese! Bronwen didn’t hesitate; she shot twice, then shoved the man’s falling body aside and burst in.

‘Don’t move or you’re fucking dead!’ she screamed.

Three men sat at the table, dumfounded. To Bro they looked foreign, but they did not appear Chinese. A lucky break; they probably weren’t contagious. They’d been in the middle of a card game — bridge or rummy or whatever, not that Bro gave a fuck about that shit. 

‘Fuel,’ she said. ‘I need fuel. Kerosene.’

The men stared at her blankly, now terrified, for several seconds before one plucked up the courage to speak.

‘No money,’ he said. ‘Only fish.’

‘Did I ask for fucking money?’ said Bro. ‘Or fish? Stick it up your arse for all I care. I need fuel for my fucking jet pack. About ten litres should do it. Give me that, and I’ll fuck right off.’

‘Why you kill Wong? He only fisherman, like us. No trouble.’ The man frowned. ‘Why you wear wig?’

‘I’ll ask the fucking questions, alright? Where you from?’

‘What?’

‘Where do you come from?’

‘United States. Baltimore. We have license. My name Raj. All good!’

‘Baltimore.’ Bro nodded. ‘And originally?’

‘What?’

‘They speak English in What?’

‘What?’

‘Fuck’s sake,’ muttered Bronwen. ‘Never mind. Where can I get some fucking fuel? Chop chop.’

The men looked at one another, confused. They spoke briefly in some kind of foreign gobbledegook. Bro couldn’t understand a word. She was beginning to feel faint. She touched her front pocket again for emotional support. Nibbles is fine, she told herself; I’m fine. Whatever may come, we’ll get through it together.

‘Fuel!’ she bellowed. ‘Fucking kerosene. You must have some. For the fucking engine?’

‘Ahh, kerosene!’ said Raj. ‘Yes, we have. You want?’

‘Yes, you fucking moron. I want!’

‘Okay, okay. No problem! Please, put gun down. It no need.’

‘I’m in charge here, you cunt.’

‘Yes, yes! You big man here! No argue.’

’What did you say?’ said Bronwen, turning crimson. ’What the fuck did you just say?’ She rotated her wrist to point the gun directly at Raj’s head.

‘You big man!’ spluttered Raj desperately. ‘You boss! We give kerosene, yessir, no problem!’

‘It’s ma’am,’ replied Bro, cold as ice. ‘Ma’am. Capiche?’

‘Err,’ said Raj. ‘Okay. I get kerosene, yes?’ He pointed across the room, towards a rusting steel locker. ‘In cupboard. Plenty.’

‘Not you. Him.’ Bro pointed at the man closest to the locker.

‘Okay, okay,’ said Raj. Then he gabbled something at the other man, who nodded and stood up. 

‘Slowly. Tell him, Raj.’

Raj translated this; the other man nodded again, then made his way gingerly over to the locker. He opened it, and after a brief rummage, pulled out a large jerry-can. Trembling, he stepped forward and held it out to Bro.

‘Kerosene,’ said Raj. ‘For you, please.’

‘Cheers,’ said Bro, taking it. ‘Now that wasn’t so fucking hard, was it?’

Twenty minutes later, Bronwen reached the US coast at New Jersey. Another half-hour, and she was high above Delaware. Thirty minutes after that, she had crossed Maryland and was nearing DC. She switched back to whisper mode and activated the jet pack’s anti-radar systems to begin her final approach to the White House. 

When she reached the West Wing, she spotted a security team in the Rose Garden below, and deployed a cloud of non-lethal micro-munitions. A few seconds later, the men collapsed to the ground silently as their brains were deactivated. It had something to do with low frequency EMPs, apparently — Bro was hazy on the details, but the results were certainly impressive. The team would remain unconscious for three hours, perhaps more. They would awake unharmed, but with a headache severe enough to make them vomit. Still, Bro would have to move fast.

She made a perfect touchdown just outside the Oval Office, and peered through the window. The president was sitting at his desk eating a cheap burger and fries, masturbating furiously and peering down at his phone. There was no time to waste. Bronwen grabbed a security key from a member of the downed team, scanned it through the electronic lock, then quietly opened the door and walked in. President Tantrumb didn’t so much as look up; he just shovelled more fries into his mouth. Within a couple of seconds Bro had crossed the short distance between them, and had her gun pressed up against Tantrumb’s temple. 

‘One move and I’ll blow your fucking brains out,’ she hissed. ‘Mr President.’

Incredibly, Tantrumb continued to masturbate. ‘That’s hot,’ he said. ‘Unbelievable. Hot, like you wouldn’t believe. How old are you? You remind me of my daughter. So hot, I’d like to… ohhh Malinka, I’m gonna—’

’That’s enough,’ interrupted Bronwen, now desperate. ‘Take your hands off your cock right now.’

‘Oooohhhh,’ moaned Tantrumb. ‘Yeah, baby. That’s it!’

Bro felt something land on her toes. She didn’t dare look down; she could imagine it all too well; it would be green, she thought; green and slimy.

‘That was tremendous,’ said the President. ‘You’re a real piece of ass, you know that? Those shoes, baby. So sexy. So, so sexy. Really. You wouldn’t believe the shoes.’

‘Shut the fuck up, pervert. You’re coming with me.’

‘Okay, yeah. I’d like that a lot. Can I finish my burger?’

‘You can take it with you. But put your cock away first.’

Tantrumb grinned at her. ’Why don’t you put it away for me?’

Bro pressed the gun harder against Tantrumb’s head. ‘Do it.’

‘Sure,’ Tantrumb nodded, then reached down to tuck himself in.

Bronwen reached into her backpack and pulled out a gag and a length of rope, which she placed on the desk before rummaging around again to retrieve a small folder.  ‘I’m going to tie you up. But first, I want you to sign these papers.’ She opened the folder and pushed a small stack of paperwork across the desk, then handed Tantrumb a pen.

‘Oh, fuck yeah,’ said the President. ‘Where’ve you been all my—‘

Bro slapped his face. ‘This is not a sex thing,’ she said. ‘I’m here to save the world. Sign here, please.’ 

‘Fantastic,’ said Tantrumb, adding his scrawl to the first page. ‘Can I help?’

‘No,’ said Bronwen. ‘I don’t think you can.’ 

‘That’s too bad,’ replied Tantrumb, working his way through the documents. ‘Cos there’s no-one better. I’ve saved the world many times. Every day, if you really want to know. Every day. Not all the time. But constantly. I’m a very heroic person. It’s incredi—‘

At last, Bronwen forced the gag into Tantrumb’s mouth, and began to tie him up.

‘Mmmff,’ managed the president. ‘Mmoogh.’

‘Alright,’ said Bronwen. ‘Time to go.’

She collected the remains of Tantrumb’s meal and stuffed them into her rucksack. Then she slung the president over her shoulders and carried him out through the doors to the Rose Garden. There Bro reactivated her jet pack and flew up to dump Tantrumb on the roof inside a small tent, which she affixed firmly to a chimney stack. After a moment’s thought, she used another length of rope to attach the President to the chimney as well. Now at least he couldn’t wriggle his way to the edge and fall off.

‘You’ll be safe here,’ she said. ‘For a while, at least. I’ll be back to check on you in an hour or two.’ She placed his half-eaten burger and fries by his side, then checked her watch.

‘Mmph-mm,’ said Tantrumb. ‘Mmmfff!’

‘I’ll be back later,’ said Bro, removing the gag. ‘I have a couple of things to do first.’

She jetted back down to the Rose Garden and re-entered the Oval Office, this time locking the door shut behind her. After stashing her jet pack in a closet, she found a box of tissues sitting on the big desk (the ‘Resolute Desk’, if she was not mistaken). Bronwen quickly wiped away the Presidential semen, which had spilled across the carpet as well as her feet. She flushed the tissues down the toilet, then washed and dried her hands thoroughly. She checked her nails and makeup, straightened her wig, and smoothed down her eyebrows before leaving. She made her way back to the Resolute Desk, then reached into her front pocket to retrieve Nibbles, who under the circumstances appeared in excellent spirits. She held him for a few moments, stroking his belly, before placing him on the desk, just in front of the big leather chair. She shook a few more sunflower seeds from the packet and placed them nearby. Nibbles immediately set to work stuffing them into his cheek-pouches. 

A moment later, there came a knock on the door. Bronwen had been expecting this. ‘Stay calm, my friend,’ she murmured. ‘It’s gonna be fine.’ But Nibbles was far too busy to respond.

‘Come in,’ said Bronwen, raising her voice.

The door swung open to admit the White House Press Secretary, Steffi Grimes, armed to the teeth with a clipboard — bubblegum pink and covered in sparkles. She caught sight of Bronwen and screamed. ‘Security! Security!’

‘I am the fucking security,’ growled Bro. ‘Did you miss the memo?’

‘What?’ Steffi frowned. ‘A memo?’

‘Yes, a fucking memo.’ Bro turned to glare at Nibbles. ‘Mr President?’

Nibbles said nothing, but continued stuffing his cheeks.

Bro sighed in exasperation. ‘Some things never change.’

Steffi stared at Nibbles open-mouthed for several seconds. ‘That’s a hamster,’ she managed.

‘That is correct,’ said Bro.

Just then, a contingent of security guards arrived, guns drawn. ‘Hands behind your head,’ yelled one — presumably the commanding officer. ‘Don’t move or we’ll shoot!’

‘What the fuck?’ exclaimed Bronwen, complying. ‘Are you really this fucking incompetent?’ She shook her head. ‘I’d heard the stories, but this… I mean, fucking hell! It’s beyond parody.’

‘Who the hell are you?’ demanded Steffi.

‘Fuck’s sake.’ Bro sighed in exasperation. ’My name’s Bronwen Antleton. I’m the President’s personal security consultant.’ She inclined her head towards the hamster.

’Since when?’ demanded the security chief. 

‘Today. Did you not get the memo either?’

‘No, we did not.’

‘Ah. Well, as you know President Tantrumb can be fucking absent-minded at times. I’m sure he can clear this shit up, though.’ She turned once more to speak to Nibbles. ‘Right, President Tantrumb?’

‘That’s a hamster.’

‘Yeah. No flies on you, eh? You’ll find the paperwork right there. It’s all in order, I assure you. Now would you lower your fucking guns please?’

‘Where the fuck is President Tantrumb?’

‘Are you blind? He’s right there, eating his dinner.’

‘The hamster?’

‘Certainly.’

‘What is going on here?’ cried Steffi.

‘The President has transitioned. He identifies as a hamster now. I told him it would cause trouble, but he was adamant. I suggested he put the thing in writing but as fucking usual he forgot to distribute the memo.’

‘You’re telling me the President is now a hamster?’ cried Steffi. ‘Do you really expect me to believe that?’

‘Sure.’ Bro shrugged. ’Am I not a woman?’

‘But, but…’ spluttered Steffi. ‘That’s not the same thing!’

‘Of course it is.’

‘Wait a minute,’ said the security chief. ‘You’re Brock Antleton, the Hardest Man In the Whole Fucking World! Aren’t you?’

‘Bronwen. Brock is my deadname. But fuck yeah.’

‘Oh, wow! I’ve always wanted to meet you! You’re my hero!’

The rest of the team nodded and murmured their agreement.

‘Heroine,’ said Bro.

‘What?’

‘I’m a woman. So it’s not “hero”. It’s “heroine”.’

‘Oh. Yes, of course. Sure. So you’re the hardest… woman?… in the whole fucking world?’

Bronwen shrugged. ‘I would fucking think so, yeah.’ She sighed. ‘Look, I know it’s confusing. If it helps, you can just call me Bro.’

‘Bro,’ grinned the chief. ‘Fuck yeah! Alright guys — lower your weapons.’

‘Wait,’ said Steffi. ‘Let’s take a look at those papers.’ She walked over to the desk, picked them up, and read quickly through the contents. ‘Oh Lordy,’ she muttered. ‘It’s this for real?’ She read them again, then sighed in resignation. ‘This —’ she held up the top sheet ‘— is an executive order to the effect that President Tantrumb henceforth identifies as a hamster… named Nibbles.’

President Nibbles,’ said Bro, holding up a finger.

‘Yes. It also says that in the interests of the continued smooth running of this administration, and to avoid undue confusion and distress to the People, we may continue to call him Tantrumb until such time, etc etc.’

‘That was my idea,’ said Bronwen. ‘And it wasn’t fucking easy to persuade him, believe me.’

‘Yes, we all know how difficult the President can be.’ Steffi sighed. ‘Alright boys, lower your weapons, please. I guess this’ll have to go through legal, but that can wait. Right now we’ve got much bigger problems.’

‘Ah, yes. The pandemic.’

‘That’s right.’ Steffi checked her watch. ‘The President’s due to address the nation in less than half an hour. I came here to brief him, but… well, now he’s a hamster.’

’I get you.’ Bronwen thought for a moment. ‘How about some subtitles?’

’Hm,’ replied Steffi, considering. ‘You know, this could be a lucky break.’

‘Really?’ said Bro. ’You think?’

The broadcast began with an image of the US flag. Old Glory rippled gently across the screen, accompanied by a recording of the national anthem — first verse only. Then it cut to a feed of the Oval Office. President Nibbles sat in the centre of the Resolute Desk, his beady eyes focused on the camera in an expression of utter gormlessness. He clutched a bit of carrot in his paws as the subtitles rolled across the screen below:

My fellow Americans. Today marks a turning point in our history in more ways than one. For over seventy years, I have been living a lie, but at last I must speak the truth — I am, and have always been, a hamster. But I am also an American. And today, we Americans find ourselves in an unprecedented situation. As I speak to you this evening, the deadly coronavirus continues to ravage this great nation. Over a million of our fellow citizens have died, with twenty million infected by this foreign scourge upon our land. 

Suddenly Nibbles dropped the carrot. His left rear paw twitched twice, then disappeared in a blur as he scratched furiously at his haunch.

The greatest land, really. You wouldn’t believe how great. Tremendously great. And pure. This is the greatest, purest country in history, the greatest ever. Let’s give ourselves a hand! Yes. We’re great. I promised to make America great again. Remember that? Of course you do. Did I keep my promise? I always, all my promises, I keep them. Well, not all, but I keep them. 

Nibbles tipped forward clumsily to land on his feet. His whiskers twitched as he sniffed the air. He began to waddle slowly offscreen.

But this virus, it’s serious. You wouldn’t believe how serious it is. So, so serious. Until now, I didn’t realise how serious it was. It’s bad, I admit it. I do. And I won’t say I’m not perfect, but I’m pretty great. And I’ve been talking to a lot of people. Good people. The best. And I have to tell you now, and I mean it — you need to stay indoors. 

Before Nibbles could disappear from the shot, a hand entered it; well-manicured with bright purple nails, but large and rather hairy. It picked the hamster up and returned him to the centre of the screen, just behind the abandoned chunk of carrot. He sniffed at it disinterestedly, then sat back and began to wash his ears.

Just sit your ass on the sofa, and watch Netflix. Order pizza. Eat pretzels — don’t choke on them though, cos our hospitals are full. We won’t be able to help you. But don’t go out. Don’t go to work, unless you’re a doctor or a nurse or an expert on pizza or something like that. There’ll be a list. But don’t go out. And don’t hang around in groups. No barbecues, no frat parties. Nothing. You’ll kill people. 

Nibbles finished washing his ears, then pressed a paw to his right cheek and drew it forward several times in rapid succession, dislodging a sunflower seed which plopped out onto the desk. He picked it up and chewed rapidly around the seam, then levered the husk open with his teeth, spat it out, and began munching on the kernel.

Now, I know we’re all worried about the economy, but don’t be. It’s bullshit. That’s right, I said it. The economy is total bullshit. Money is bullshit. It’s created out of thin air. Not even that. It’s just numbers in a computer. It’s a figment of our imagination. That’s right. Don’t believe me? You think you know better than the President of the United States — the greatest country that ever lived? Who knows better? No-one, that’s who. You know why? Cos I’m a billionaire! That’s right. It’s a lot of money. I’m worth billions. Only I’m not. The whole thing is bullshit. It always was. 

Nibbles stopped munching midway through the kernel. He left it hanging from his mouth and lowered his front paws to the desk. He stood completely still, and his expression, already vapid, grew blanker still. After several seconds, a spreading pool of yellow liquid appeared behind him. He took a few steps forward before continuing his meal. 

So there’s no need to worry about money. Because now I’m a hamster. And you can take that to the bank. It’s the truth. And I promise you this: I am going to sort this thing out. Do you trust me? You should. Because I’m the best hamster in the whole wide world. 

The hairy, well-manicured hand moved back into shot, lifted the hamster, and tipped him backward. A second hand, similar in appearance, extended a painted finger to point at the President’s genitals.

Don’t believe me? Look at the size of my balls! You can trust me — who else can you trust? I am an American. And over in Europe, with all their la-di-dah wine and stinky cheese; they think they’re better than us, but it’s a big mess over there. Everybody knows it; I’m just saying it. But do they have a hamster in charge? Of course they don’t! It’s gonna take a real hamster to solve these problems. An American hamster. And now we have one — me. And I promise I’ll get us all through this. I will. 

So trust me. And stay put, folks! That’s all you need to do. 

The hamster was placed back on the desk, and the hands withdrew from shot once again. President Nibbles stared at the camera a few seconds longer. Then the broadcast cut back to Old Glory, and the national anthem played once again. The Presidential address was complete.

Steffi looked up from her phone, overjoyed. ’They’re loving the hamster,’ she said. ‘They think he’s cute.’

‘They’re not wrong,’ said Bro. She picked Nibbles up and gave him a little kiss. ‘Well done, Mr President.’

‘Hashtag #PresidentBigBalls is trending worldwide. There’s a few people confused, of course — but that’s nothing new. Much less outrage than usual — even from the liberals! But it’s early days yet.’

‘You think people will listen? You think they’ll stay the fuck indoors?’

Steffi poked at her phone. ’Too soon to say. But we should set up a live feed.’

‘Right,’ said Bronwen. ‘We need a cage, asap. With a fucking wheel. Also a water bowl, saltlick, all that stuff. And plenty of straw. Or shredded paper.’

A nearby aide nodded. He’d been taking notes. ‘I’ll get onto it right away,’ he said. ‘Hot damn! I think we’re gonna win this thing!’

‘Slow your fucking roll, dude,’ said Bro. ‘You don’t wanna jinx it.’

‘Yes, sir! I mean, ma’am.’

‘That’s right,’ replied Bro. ‘And don’t you fucking forget it.’

Half an hour later, Bronwen was alone once more with the President, who was now lying on his back, fast asleep and snoring adorably. Bro walked over to peek out into the Rose Garden. The downed security team remained out of action — for now. She checked her watch; it had been two hours, maybe a little more. She still had time.

Bro pulled her jet pack out of the closet, put it on, and did a quick systems check; there was still a half-tank of fuel left; more than enough for her immediate purposes. She unlocked the door and stepped out, then blasted her way back up to the roof.

President Tantrumb — former President Tantrumb — was still lying in the tent where Bronwen had left him. Despite his bonds he had managed to consume the rest of his burger and fries, and his face was now smeared in ketchup and what Bro hoped was just mayonnaise. His eyes lit up as she entered the tent. 

‘Hey baby!’ he said. ‘Wanna sit on my face?’

Bronwen ignored this, but reached over to pull him upright.

‘Did we save the world?’ asked Tantrumb. 

‘Not yet,’ admitted Bro. She thought for a moment. ‘What the fuck am I gonna do with you?’

‘I got a few ideas.’ Tamtrumb leered. ‘Know what I mean?’

‘Shut the fuck up, will you? I can’t think.’

‘Can I kiss your feet, baby? I’d like to lick ketchup off those feet.’

‘You’re disgusting,’ said Bro. ‘There’s a fucking pandemic. People are dying, and all you can think about is your…’ She trailed off. ‘Hmm. You like ketchup, do you?’

‘Love it. I’m a big fan. The biggest. So, so big. No-one loves ketchup more than me.’

‘Right. Cos I could go for a burger right now.’

‘Oh me too! Yeah, baby! And large fries. With plenty of ketchup.’ The former President licked his lips. ‘Ketchup and pussy. You wouldn’t believe it. Yum yum.’

Bronwen took a moment to get her temper under control. ‘Right then,’ she said. ‘Let’s go get a fucking burger. And for you, a job.’

They jetted down from the roof and made their way to McTwattles, where business was slow. They were served by a spotty, disinterested teenager with a runny nose and thick glasses, whose name-badge identified him as Jimmy Griesz, branch manager. He shot Tantrumb a quizzical look as he handed them their order. 

‘You look just like President Tantrumb,’ he said. ‘Before, you know…’

’He’s an impersonator,’ said Bronwen, moving quickly to stamp on the President’s foot. 

Tantrumb shrieked. ‘I’ll lock you up, you goddamn pansy! I’m the greatest President there’s ever been! I’m a billionaire! How dare you!’

‘Hey,’ said Jimmy. ‘That’s pretty good.’

‘He does children’s parties. I’m his manager. I tell you, he’s a real professional — never breaks character.’ Bro shrugged. ‘Course, he’s gonna be out of work now the real President’s transitioned.’

’Sure,’ nodded Jimmy. ’That’s gotta be rough.’

‘You got any openings? You know, for a clown?’

Tantrumb was indignant. ’A clown? I’m the goddamn President! Who the hell are you, anyway?’

Jimmy laughed. ‘He’s funny. I’ll give him that.’

‘Right?’ said Bronwen. ‘So, how about it?’

‘Aww, man.’ Jimmy screwed up his face. ‘You know, I’d love to help out a fellow artist, but… business is slow, you know? And anyway, it all goes through corporate.’ He shook his head. ‘Sorry friend, but I can’t help you.’

Bronwen sighed. ‘Okay, dude. I understand. Thanks anyway.’

They left McTwattles and returned to the White House. In the Rose Garden, the security team had returned — more or less — to their senses. Bro cursed under her breath, then landed in front of them, dropping Tantrumb smoothly off her shoulders.

‘Who’s in command here?’ she barked. ’Speak up.’

A man roughly the size and shape of a bear scowled and stepped forward. ‘I am,’ he said. ‘Major Simeon Pratt.’

Bro stabbed a finger at him. ’Wrong,’ she said. ‘What’s the matter, been sleeping on the fucking job, have you?’

‘Err,’ said Major Pratt. He shuffled his feet. ‘We may have been—’

‘I’m not interested in your fucking excuses. Listen up, cunts. I’m in charge now. Bro fucking Antleton. Heard of me?’

‘You’re… Brock Antleton?’ Pratt squinted at her. ‘The Hardest Man In The Whole Fucking World?’

‘Yeah, that’s me. Or at least, it was.’ 

‘It’s an honour to meet you, sir.’

‘Yeah, well I’m your new commanding officer, so don’t get too fucking friendly. And it’s Bronwen now. Get it?’

‘Yes, sir.’ Pratt nodded. ‘We’ve been briefed.’

‘And did you sleep through that too? Cos it’s not sir — it’s ma’am.’

‘Yessir.’

‘It. Is. Ma’am.’

‘Yessir,’ replied Pratt. ‘Ma’am, sir.’

’That’s fucking better.’ She pointed to Tantrumb, who was eating fries and staring vacantly at a nearby rosebush. ‘Do you recognise this fuckwit?’

‘Yessir, ma’am, sir. That’s President—‘

‘Does that look like a fucking hamster to you?’

‘No, sir. Ma’am.’

‘That is not a hamster. Agreed?’

‘Yes, ma’am.’

‘Good. And President Tantrumb is a hamster, is he not? You said you were briefed.’

‘Yes, ma’am. But—‘

 ‘I will have your guts for fucking garters, do you understand me, Major Pratt?’ Bronwen bellowed. 

‘Yes, ma’am!’

‘Is President Tantrumb a hamster, or not?’ 

‘Yes, ma’am! He is a hamster, ma’am.’

‘And is that a fucking hamster?’ Bro pointed.

‘That is not a hamster, ma’am.’

‘So how the fuck can it be the President of the United States?’ screamed Bronwen. ‘You fucking moron — don’t you know anything? This is the pre-transitioned body of President Tantrumb. It’s just a lifeless husk.’

‘He’s eating a hamburger, ma’am.’

‘So what? Does he look conscious to you, Major?’ Bronwen stared at Tantrumb for a moment. ‘Well, maybe just barely. But the point stands.’

‘Yes, ma’am.’

’So what are we going to do with him?’

‘Ma’am?’

‘We can’t keep this fucking thing in the White House, can we? Imagine how much trouble it would cause. People are so easily confused.’ Bro grimaced. ‘No way. We’re in deep enough shit as it is. We need to get rid of him. So, Major — what would you recommend?’

Pratt gulped. ‘Err… May I confer with my team? Ma’am?’

‘Alright. But make it quick.’

The Major turned to his men, drew them into a huddle, and spoke in hushed tones. There was a brief discussion, then the Major nodded, and turned back to Bronwen. There was a smile on his face.

‘Guantanamo,’ he said. ’That should do it.’

‘He’s not a fucking terrorist!’

‘Maybe not.’ Pratt shrugged. ‘But he’s a serious threat to the President. An enemy of the state.’

‘Hmm,’ said Bro. ‘I see your point, Major.’ She thought for a moment. ‘Okay — so how do we do this? What’s the process?’

‘It’s simple, ma’am. We brown him up with a bit of shoe polish, call him Abdul or something; Abdul Raheem Mohammed. Then we trump up some charges, and suddenly he’s the boogeyman. I make one phone call, and it’s done — he’s headed for Cuba. I can have a chopper here in thirty minutes.’

Bronwen grinned. ’Perfect,’ she said. ‘Get it done.’

The next day, the Presidential cage arrived, and was set up with several webcams to broadcast round-the-clock coverage of the hamster’s activities; news channels were soon dominated by highlight reels featuring moments of particular cuteness.

Over the following weeks, Americans sat at home glued to their screens, enchanted by the President’s antics. Even church services moved online. Pretzel sales increased almost ten-fold, and beer was plentiful. 

A team of experts was brought in to manage the nation’s response to the pandemic, and to coordinate with other countries. The President stayed in his cage eating carrots, and did not intervene. Sanctions against official enemies were relaxed, and shipments of vital food, medicine and supplies began criss-crossing the globe to wherever they were needed most. 

Trillions of dollars, euros and yen were magicked into existence and distributed to the people of the world. A coordinated international effort was made to seize offshore assets and put them to work funding rapid development of green technologies. Representatives of the banking and oil industries complained bitterly, but were quickly told to shut the fuck up or face a firing squad. Carbon-emissions decreased markedly. Wildlife returned to the cities and began to take over. Footage of goats, deer and other cute animals flooded the airwaves.

After three weeks, it became clear the rate of new infections was in decline. A month after that, it had slowed to a crawl. Bit by bit, restrictions were cautiously lifted, and America got back to work.

The President’s approval rating soared, and the Democrats began to panic. Following his disastrous performance in the first head-to-head debate, it had finally dawned on them that their favoured Presidential candidate, Senator Joey Boring, stood no chance at all of beating a hamster in the race for the White House. He eventually dropped out of the running and was replaced by a last-minute alternative candidate — a long-haired guinea pig named Blossom. But it was too little, too late. In late November, with the virus all but conquered, President Nibbles was returned to office in a landslide, resulting in exuberant celebrations around the world. 

Bronwen left Nibbles to it, and returned to the UK to continue her media career. She had no further need for his emotional support; after all, she was The Hardest Woman In The Whole Fucking World! And she could always get another hamster.

Caveman Hom – Introduction

[Index]

Over a year ago, I began a series of stories about a caveman named Hom, whose tribe is plunged into chaos by the appearance of a man, Tra, who claims to be a woman. 

At first these stories were just a bit of light relief — a way to ridicule beardy wokebro philosophers who believe in gender identity. Stone age people surely lacked the intellectual sophistication necessary to be fooled by such nonsense, and it amused me to imagine how such people might respond to it.

The stories became more complex, and the characters took on a life of their own. Those who write fiction are familiar with this mysterious process, whereby the characters develop their own feelings, motivations and personalities, and events unfold in unexpected ways. This is one of the most enjoyable things about writing fiction, and it’s often under-appreciated by those who only read it.

The earliest Hom stories were written in very simple language, but this soon became inadequate to the task of conveying the rich inner life of a stone age tribe. 

More and longer words were needed in order to tell the story. It’s been tempting to go back and rewrite the first few stories to match the style of the later ones, but I feel that would be cheating.

So instead, I have made up a stupid theory to account for the tribe’s rapid rise in cultural sophistication: 

Simply put, the idea of trans people was so baffling to the tribe that they were forced to exercise their brains to previously unknown levels, simply in order to make sense of it. 

As they grappled with the concept, their vocabulary and capacity for abstract thought improved rapidly. After inventing sexism and gender roles, they developed new weapons and new ways of hunting pig, before moving on to invent arithmetic, farming, and politics. 

Thus, the rapid development from the stone age until modern times is in no small part thanks to the existence of trans people — just as the woke folk claim! Without trans people, we would surely still be living in caves. We owe them a great debt.

I’m tired of the trans ‘debate’. I’m tired of endless wokebro philosophers and other assorted idiots chipping in to lecture us about clownfish and seahorses. I simply cannot take these people seriously. They deserve only ridicule. 

In particular, I’ve had enough of fiction writers lending their support to such nonsense. These are people who make up stories for a living — they should be the first ones to call out bullshit when they see it. But far too many are asleep at the wheel. They’d rather defend the indefensible than risk upsetting their audience. They’re useless. 

I sometimes wonder if Rushdie’s Satanic Verses would be published today — would it ever survive a ‘sensitivity read’? I doubt it. It’s a brilliant, hilarious book, but it’s clearly calculated to piss people off.

Rushdie may be a twat, but he is also a writer of enormous talent. If you read only one of his books, make it that one. 

I’ve had great fun writing these stories. I don’t expect them to be taken seriously, and I don’t know if there’s a moral to them, or to what extent they fit with feminist perspectives. 

I wrote them for myself, not some imaginary audience. If people like them, that’s great. One day, there may be more. But whatever happens, I plan to continue taking the piss. Because some topics are ripe for it.

[First Episode]

Blood Stain Snow

(The Saga of Caveman Hom, Episode 19)

[Index]

[Previous Episode]

When Tra stop talking, all women stand with open mouth. Me look Henn and Schmenn, they smiling. They have willy, so they special! They think they clever, with great beauty! Me know they stupid, but this ridiculous.

At last, Fem begin laugh. Rest of tribe join in. 

‘What this?’ say Tra. ‘Me not make joke! It science!’

Soon, we howling! Many women drop weapon for roll on ground, kick legs in air! Snow fly. Men also laugh, but careful. Maybe this clever trick of Tra, for injure women with laughter? We keep eyes open, spear ready. It good trick, but still not work. 

When Fem stop laugh, she say, ‘So, you tribe of willy-women. You brave and stunning, but you scared of not-willy-women. You also scared of men. But still you cross mountain in deep snow for find nasty tribe of oppressor! This not make sense. So me ask again — why you come?’

‘That good question,’ say Tra. ‘Answer simple. It all because willy-women not have boobies. It surprise, but some willy women not like sex other willy-women. They want sex not-willy-women with big boobies. This important for make baby. For make baby, it take not-willy-woman. If woman have willy, she not grow baby. Instead she plant seed like man.’ Tra shrug. ‘Me not know why. This great mystery of Nature Spirit.’

‘So,’ say Fem. ‘It all about sex.’

Tra pull face. ‘It friendship also.’

‘But you say we evil oppressor!’

’That true. But it not your fault — only ignorance. Soon you learn friendship. We all women same — we oppressed by evil men. It no good argue among women! We need come together, for defeat men! Me believe in power of women! Together we strong! Together, we free!’

‘He crazy,’ mutter Nizzi. ’Surely this not normal?’

‘It not,’ me reply. ‘He special.’

‘So,’ say Fem. ‘You want join tribe? Make two tribe one again?’

‘No, no!’ say Tra. ‘Me not want join. It no need worry — you still Chief of oppressor tribe. Me not overthrow. Me reasonable! Me allow you stay Chief. All me ask is not oppress willy-women. Instead, it friendship! Me make good offer — you not refuse!’

‘What offer?’

‘You allow visit. When willy-women come, we bring present. We talk not-willy-women, for make friends. Then it time for sex! But no pressure. Maybe willy-woman plant seed, and baby grow. This good both tribe.’

‘Me knew it!’ say Nizzi. ‘It always same.’

Fem ignore her, say Tra, ‘Who keep baby?’

‘Baby no business of willy-women. We not interfere.’

‘You not want baby?’

‘What we do baby? We not have boobies! Baby starve.’

‘This true,’ say Fem. Then she think. ‘Visit need rule,’ she say.

‘That no problem! Rule is decide by Fem.’

Fem nod. ‘That good. Me need think about this more. Me promise nothing. But for now, you go. When moon new, it time for visit. You send two men only, no weapon. When men arrive, me give order. Men obey.’

‘It not men,’ say Tra. ‘It willy-women.’

‘Visitor obey rule, or no more visit,’ say Fem. ‘Ever.’

‘Me agree.’

‘If visitor make trouble, we kill.’

‘Me not want trouble,’ say Tra. ‘Only friendship.’

’This not friendship. It sex.’

‘That good offer!’ say Tra. ‘Me agree. Me big thank for Chief Fem! Me so happy!’ He give wide smile. ‘Now me have surprise! Me bring present for seal agreement, make strong friendship!’ Tra turn Schmenn, he raise voice. ‘You, Schmenn! Fetch pigskin bag!’

Schmenn nod, then walk to small cave of stick. He rummage.

‘Me not want present,’ say Fem.

‘Me insist! It special. Me bring long way over mountain, just for give Fem!’

‘Me flattered.’

‘Schmenn! Where bag?’

Schmenn hand over pigskin bag. ‘Here bag,’ he say.

Tra take bag. ‘Why you move so slow?’ he say. Schmenn begin answer, but Tra interrupt. ‘Shut mouth. Me not care excuse!’ He open pigskin bag for look inside. He smile. “This good present,’ he say. ‘Me hope you like!’ Then he pass bag to Chief Fem.

Fem look bag. She frown. She reach in hand for rummage. Then she find contents. When she see, she shock! She make loud gasp. 

‘No,’ she say. ‘No!’ Then she drop bag. Contents of bag spill out on snowy ground. Me see — it head of Fooella! Now blood stain snow in big drop. Women tribe look, all see, all shock! 

‘Me not believe,’ say Gai. ‘Tra kill Fooella!’ 

’That right,’ say Tra. ‘He bad man! He try oppress women, but he fail! So me punish! Me torture with fire, then me cut off head for present! You like? Maybe now it time for sex!’ Then he point at small cave of stick.

Fem turn green. She bend over for throw sick. It splatter snow. Steam rise. Fem cough more sick, then wipe mouth. Women tribe still shock — we not know what do, only watch event unfold.

Fem stand. She not speak, but me see eyes — she rage! She look Tra. He stand, he smile. ‘Fem have nice boobies,’ he say. ‘Me want—’

Chief Fem punch Tra full in face. Me hear crunch of broken bone. Tra scream — hand go fast to nose. Blood squirt through finger. 

‘Me not under—’

Then Fem grab Tra arm, she pull forward fast. Same time she lift leg, then bring down hard on knee of Tra. Again me hear crunch, this time louder. Me wince. Tra scream again, then fall to ground. There he writhe in pain.

Henn and Schmenn make angry noise, begin rush forward for attack Fem. Me hear whoosh, and something move fast through air. Henn scream, Schmenn gasp. More blood squirt on snow. Me look Henn and Schmenn. Henn have arrow in face — it pierce both cheek! Eyes bulge. Schmenn have blood on nose — it graze from same arrow.

Voice come from tree; it Arca. ‘Me sorry,’ she say. ‘Me try miss, but it mistake. Me not try miss again.’

Tra still lie on ground screaming. Blood run down face, and leg have wrong angle. Henn grab arrow, try pull from face. Schmenn help pull. Henn scream again, and arrow come out. More blood drip red on snow.

Fem bend for pick up bag. She find head of Fooella, then put inside. ‘We bury,’ she say. ‘Full honour.’ Then she kick Tra in rib. ‘You monster!’ she say. She spit. Then she kick again, but harder, and this time nuts. Then she remember spear. 

But me move fast — me grab. ‘No,’ me say. ‘That enough.’

‘Let go spear!’ she yell. ‘That order!’

‘No,’ me say. ‘Me not allow.’

‘But he… he…’

‘Me know. But murder still wrong.’

Fem scream, she flail fist at chest of Hom. Me grab, hug tight. Fem continue hit. It hurt, but me ignore. Me speak quiet in ear. ’You good Chief,’ me say. ‘Me loyal.’ At last Fem stop hit for hug back. She begin cry.

Me look Schmenn. ‘Meeting finish,’ me say. ‘You go.’

Schmenn open mouth for speak, but me give fierce look, and mouth close. He bend over, for pick Tra from ground. Then he carry to cave of stick for put inside. Henn help. Then Pal, Ang, Kwi and Yin take hold stick for ready lift cave again.

Fem lift head from chest of Hom. She wipe tears, stand straight. Then she turn to men for shout. ‘When moon new, you visit. Two men only, no weapon. No coconut. And not send Tra. If see again, it no mercy — we kill.’

Schmenn raise hand for wave. Carrier lift cave of stick, and men begin long journey home.

Nizzi turn to Chief Fem. ‘Why you ask men tribe visit?’

Fem shrug. ‘Tribe still need babies.’

‘But how we trust Tra? He take revenge.’

‘Me not think so. Me think he no more power.’ She sigh. ‘Maybe now men tribe remember what is woman.’

‘Me not know how they forget,’ me say. ‘It crazy!’

‘It madness of King Tra. But now reign finish, and soon it election. Me have big hope for future. Soon sanity return.’ 

Drum Sound

(The Saga of Caveman Hom, Episode 18)

[Index]

[Previous Episode]

Pevette right. It only few days later when drum sound. It bang three times loud — this alarm signal! Everybody jump to feet, grab weapon. Then drum bang soft, for count men. Me follow on fingers — it five and one more. This few. Maybe we lucky. Or maybe it trick. It not matter. We have plan. 

Arca and Cheri, Ruti and Cal all take bow and plenty arrow. They run through forest for take position in tree. Men take spear and club, then follow rocky mountain path. After come women — some bring bow, other spear. Older children also come, but most stay behind in cave. Ali have two spear and plenty rope, he follow last with son Cul, who bring many stone good for throw. Tribe armed, and we many, but still scared. We not want war. Fighting bad.

Soon we see men in distance, far from cave. They move slow down path. When we see, tribe ready bow and arrow, but still move forward. We not know what expect. Men closer now — me see five and one more, like drum say. But also me see strange thing — they bring small cave of stick! It same like one for smooching, but smaller. It rest on platform, like Bivi make for carry injured Pevette. It look heavy — me count four men carry on long stick. Maybe this why men move slow. 

When closer, me recognise men. Me see Henn in front. He carry big spear. Behind come Pal, Ang, Kwi, and Yin — they hold long stick for carry cave. Last come Schmenn. He also have spear. This surprise. It only two spear total! Maybe in cave is more weapon? But that stupid idea. If attack come, weapon in cave useless! In fight what matter is weapon in hand. Everybody know this — so where weapon?

Me turn Chief Fem for whisper, ‘Maybe they not attack.’

‘That possible,’ say Fem. ‘But what if it trick?’

Now Henn hold up hand. All men tribe stop. Women tribe stop too. Henn point us, he turn look others for speak. It too far for hear, but me see Schmenn reply. Pal, Ang, Kwi, and Yin lower small cave to ground. Then Henn face front again. He wave us. 

Me look Fem. She nod, so me return greeting. 

Meanwhile me see Schmenn walk from back of men tribe. He pass Kwi and Yin, then poke head into cave. Me watch careful, but he not take weapon. Instead he talking. It someone in cave.

‘It Tra,’ me say. ‘He hide in cave! Maybe he injured.’

‘Maybe he lazy,’ say Fem. ‘And men stupid.’

Me shrug. ‘Scared also possible.’

‘If scared, why he come?’

‘Maybe it no choice,’ me say.

‘It always choice. It no need make trouble.’

’Maybe he not make trouble.’

Fem laugh. ‘That nonsense,’ she say. ‘Tra always make trouble.’

Now we see head poke from cave and look around. Me think it Tra. He see us! He wave hand at Schmenn. Me see lips move. Then he hide back in cave. Schmenn return to rear. Four carrier take hold long stick, again lift. Again Henn hold up hand. He shout, and men tribe move forward. So we also continue move.

Two tribe come closer. When women tribe reach special tree, we stop, wait men  tribe arrive. Gai and Fab stay front with spear. Me just behind with Fem and Nizzi. We also carry spear. Mat here too — he have big stick. Behind us come bow, more spear, and plenty club. Then come older children. Ali and Cul catch up, then Cul hand out stone. Now women tribe ready for win fight.

When men tribe close, Henn raise hand again for stop. Pal, Ang, Kwi, and Yin put cave on ground gentle. They groan, they stretch, rub muscles. Then Schmenn shout, and all carrier stand straight, look forward. Schmenn shout more, but me not understand words. Me think it nonsense, but he shout loud! Schmenn crazy. He shout close in face! But carrier not blink, only stare ahead, stand straight. They terrified!

Me know Schmenn. He bully. Me remember one day he try bully Hom, so me kick nuts. After that, me not have trouble from Schmenn. That long ago, when both children. Now he grow big and strong, but still same. It no wonder he follow Tra. He stupid. Me also know Henn, but me not know well. Maybe he clever one? But me doubt. Me think he stupid too.

When finish shout, Schmenn come forward for join Henn at front. They hold spear at side, keep distance from women tribe. They scowl for try scare. It work only little. Me look Fem and Nizzi — it not easy, but they manage not laugh. 

Then Tra emerge from small cave of stick. He wear many flower in hair. He wear big coconut on chest. It decorate with paint of many colour. He wear long loincloth, and around waist he have many dry flower on string. He have big feet, but he shave toe and paint nail red. He dress like woman on night of wedding, but he fool no-one. It obvious he man. Now Tra walk slow to front of men tribe. He walk with wiggle — he flounce! When he reach Henn and Schmenn, he stop. He try give sweet smile, but he only make leer.

‘Where Fem?’ he say.

‘That Chief Fem,’ say Fab.

‘Chief Fem,’ agree Tra. Again he leer. 

Fab shudder.

Fem step forward. ‘Me here.’

Tra hold out hand for shake. ‘Me greet Chief Fem with all honour.’

Fem approach cautious. Gai and Fab watch close, spear ready, while Fem shake hand. ‘Me greet Tra,’ she say. 

Me see Henn frown. Spear twitch. He not like Fem disrespect King Tra. Schmenn same. Me poise for fight.

But Tra only laugh. He nudge Henn and Schmenn with elbow. ‘Relax,’ he say. Then he say Fem, ’Weather cold. Me thank Chief for warm welcome.’

Fem point Tra feet. ‘Why you wear open shoe?’

‘Feet pretty.’ Tra lift feet, he show nails. ‘See?’

‘It good colour,’ admit Fem. ‘But soon toe freeze and fall off.’

Again Tra laugh. ‘Me not stay long in snow. Feet survive.’

Fem nod. Then she say, ‘Why you come? You want fight?’

‘Fight?’ say Tra. He pretend shock. ‘Of course me not want fight!’

‘That good. Men tribe weak. If fight, you lose.’

‘Men tribe?’ say Tra. He look around. ‘Who that?’

‘That you.’

‘But we all women!’ say Tra. ‘It no men in tribe of Tra! Only women. But tribe of Fem have plenty men. Men very dangerous for women — always oppress! How Chief keep control?’

Fem shrug. ‘These men good,’ she say. ‘It no trouble.’

‘Oh!’ exclaim Tra. ‘Me see! They good men!’ He laugh. ‘Chief Fem have mind full of nonsense. Me warn — these men play trick. They bad, same like all other. One day, me think you learn hard way. Me lucky it only women in tribe of Tra. It no need worry.’

‘That good,’ say Fem. ‘But again me ask, why you come? Why men cross mountain in snow?’

‘You forget,’ say Henn. ‘We not men.’

‘You have willy. You man.’

‘Tra right,’ say Schmenn. ‘Fem stupid. She think women not have willy.’

‘She not stupid,’ say Tra. ‘She only confuse.’

‘Me not confuse.’

‘Of course you confuse. You not know science of women! But not worry, me explain.’

‘Wait,’ say Fem. ‘Me want everybody hear.’ She turn women tribe, speak loud. ‘Come close,’ she say. ‘For listen Tra talk. He want speak truth of women — me not want tribe miss good education!’ Women tribe laugh, then bunch up closer for hear. Then Fem say Tra, ’Now you teach. And not forget speak up!’

‘Me happy oblige,’ say Tra. Then he clear throat. ‘Everybody know it two kind human — men and women. But maybe you not know this — it two kind women also!’

‘Two kind?’ say Nizzi. ‘What that? Big bum, small bum?’

‘No, that sexist!’ say Tra. 

‘Long leg, short leg?’

‘That silly. Leg not make difference, and not bum. Both kind have big and small, long and short. What most important is willy.’

Women tribe laugh, but Tra ignore. He continue, ‘Most women not have willy — that true! But some women extra special. They born with magic gift of willy! These women most beautiful kind. They stunning! They also more clever, with plenty charm. But willy cause big problem! They never safe from men! Willy-women more desirable than other kind; they very good for sex, so men always chase. If refuse, men hit with stick! This no surprise. Men always same, always oppress! 

‘But for willy-women, it worse! Not-willy women jealous — they want sex men too! They think other kind steal all men, so they fear, they hate! They tell lie, say real women not have willy, only men have willy. If woman have willy, they laugh. They try hit with stick. They oppress, same like men! So willy-women suffer more than not-willy kind. They not only stunning, but brave! Not-willy women always scary, always mean.

‘For long time, not-willy-women play trick, so tribe think woman with willy just man who go crazy. But now, thanks Tra it different — tribe use science for regain ancient knowledge. Now we know it two kind women. This progress! Now me lead glorious tribe of willy-women. You, Fem, lead nasty tribe — it not-willy-women and few men. That bad. You evil oppressor of willy-women! But me know you ignorant, so me not blame. Me kind, so me not want punish. Me want only teach fact!’ Tra grin wide. ‘This make better world for all!’ 

[Next Episode]

Wound Heal Slow

(The Saga of Caveman Hom, Episode 17)

[Index]

[Previous Episode]

Pevette not die. After many days in cave of sticks, wound heal enough for move to big cave. Pevette still weak and much pain, but we careful — we tie leg to big rock, and guard watch close. Gel continue treatment, and he gain strength. But when tribe make plan we not discuss detail in big cave. We not trust. We not let him hear. 

 Sentry keep watch over mountain pass. Every day we test drum when sun rise, and again when fall. It big drum, made from hide of goat, stretch tight on frame of stick. It have good sound loud or soft. Sometimes we make strong beat, tribe dance. But we not dance long — it too cold, and alarm important. We not want surprise attack. So we make other drum for dance. 

Soon come snow. Tribe wrap warm, huddle in cave. Hunting continue, but success grow rare. We lucky for dried meat and mushroom for add to catch. In evening we make weapon, we make rope. 

Mat teach counting to rest of tribe. He give name to fingers of hand. Each name same like number. He make tribe hold up finger, say name. He say this counting, but it easy! We repeat many time til boring. Then Mat make few mark on ground. He ask tribe count mark same like finger. At first we confuse, but in end everybody learn count mark with finger. 

Then Mat begin other hand — he try teach more number for finger there! But this too much counting for tribe. Only Tix have patience for understand. Mat not mind. He say tribe learn much counting already. In future tribe not think counting special. Instead it come easy, like walk in meadow. Then it big help for tribe. Everybody laugh — he crazy! But Mat not mind. He have good sense of humour. He laugh too. But me think he right.

Wound heal slow but steady, and soon Pevette better enough for help tribe. He make shoe, he make tool for scrape hide. He scrape. He work slow, but careful. He still tied, but he not make trouble. He cheerful. 

Once night after eat, Fem say, ‘You, Pevette. Soon you better enough for walk. When snow melt, you return men tribe.’

Suddenly Pevette stop smiling. He stop stitch shoe for look up. ‘Men tribe?’ he say. ‘Why me want that?’

‘Why you not want?’

‘It many reason,’ say Pevette. ‘For start, it no boobies there. Only coconut.’

‘What wrong coconut?’ ask Nizzi.

Pevette shrug. ‘It nothing wrong. It good for eat, or make bowl for soup. Hair of coconut also good for make string. And milk tasty. But it never replace boobies.’ He smile. ‘Me like woman tribe.’

‘It plenty boobies here,’ say Fem. ‘Me admit.’

‘Boobies nice,’ say Pevette. ‘But it more.’

‘It also punani,’ say Min.

‘That true. But it more again.’

‘What more?’

Pevette think for while. Then he say, ’Woman tribe have good Chief. Also dog. Me always like dog. He friend. When he go over mountain, me sad. Me very happy see dog again. He remember! When he see Pevette, he happy! He woof. He lick face! Me happy too.’

‘So,’ say Fem, ‘you want stay women tribe?’

‘Me want.’

‘You stay for dog, and big dream of boobies?’

‘No,’ say Pevette. ‘That not it. Now me have bigger dream.’ He sigh. ‘Me want family. This good place. To me it feel like home.’

‘What really happen men tribe?’ ask Min. ‘Why pretend you woman?’

Now Pevette continue work on shoe. ‘It strange thing,’ he say. ‘But we scared of Tra. He rule with strength. He give stick to Henn and Schmenn. He say all men bad, need hit with stick. They hit! Men not like, so we decide we women, same like Tra. Now Henn and Schmenn not hit. This good — we think we solve problem. 

‘Then Tra say he woman who like sex only woman. We also like sex woman, so say again we same like Tra. But this big mistake! Now Tra want plenty sex everyone. We not want sex Tra, but we afraid Henn and Schmenn. So Tra get plenty sex. He very happy. But most men miserable. Sex Tra not same like sex woman. Me know it not wrong, but for me it feel wrong. It go against Nature Spirit in heart. And worse — when first me have sex Tra, he look eyes. Me know he see truth — it feel wrong. Me not want. But this only make him happy. Because me not want, he want sex more. 

‘This scare me deep. And after sex, me throw sick. When Tra see, he hit many times with stick, he shout, he scream insult in ear. He make me clean sick. He spit face. Then he kick ribs and throw out. 

‘After that, me careful. Me pretend me like sex Tra. Me close eyes, make picture of woman in mind. Me imagine big boobies, soft skin. Me imagine me have other body, and this life only dream. Me imagine me pig in forest — hunter chase, but me escape! Or me small cat asleep on warm rock. Sometimes me imagine me woman. Me imagine many things, for try enjoy. Sometimes it work. But after sex Tra, me always throw sick.’

Tribe silent. We not know what say. 

‘Me know you not believe,’ say Pevette. ‘But me know truth. This better place.’ He point at rope on ankle. ‘Me know me prisoner. Me not belong woman tribe. But that not matter,’ he say. ‘Me safe.’

Again, tribe silent. It magic in air.

‘And plenty boobies,’ add Pevette. Then he laugh.

Tribe laugh too.

‘It many men unhappy in men tribe,’ say Pevette. ‘They not like rules — it too many. Tra make bad Chief. With him, it no escape! If man, you bad, you evil oppressor of women. He hit with stick. If woman, you need always good smell and flower in hair. If not smile, not walk with wiggle, you not sexy — maybe you man! It need follow order, or you bad woman — he hit with stick! With Tra, it no between!’

‘What between?’ ask Nizzi. ‘It man or woman. It no between.’

‘Me not mean that.’ Pevette quiet for moment, only stitch shoe. Then he say, ‘Me mean this — it no need man evil oppressor; if not, he still man. It no need woman wear flower — she stay woman! Why not man wear flower? 

‘But Tra think all men same way. Me know some men bad, but he blame all — he hate just for exist! He know he man, so he hate himself! That why he say he woman. When he see man, he not see human, only monster. He think only monster is real man.’ Pevette shake head. ‘It not true! Men mostly good. Me know me bad — but me not monster! Me criminal, grab boobies without permission. Me regret. Me obsessed with boobies. Me see boobies, me lose control. So now it need punish for bad actions. Maybe you hit with stick? That fair. Me bad man. It true. But that not same like monster!’

‘Pah!’ say Ruti. ‘Of course not all men monster! But look what happen when Tra come along! He say he woman. He wear coconut for pretend boobies, but he man. He say he King of Women. This crazy — women not have king! This obvious, but it not matter men. They not listen women, but they happy listen Tra. They very impressed. They like idea hit bad women with stick. So now Tra have followers. And soon he Chief, but worse — he king! He say he woman, but he monster. Maybe he King of Monsters!’

’He monster,’ say Pevette. ‘But same time he only man. And maybe he Chief, but he no longer king. He not secure. Without boobies, men always unhappy. So Tra have big problem.’ He stop make shoe, for look Chief Fem in eye. ‘Me think men come soon.’

[Next Episode]

Plenty Grass

(The Saga of Caveman Hom, Episode 16)

[Index]

[Previous Episode]

Me sulk long time. Me find small stone and twig for throw in water. Me talk quiet to Hom in head, who also me. Me have little cry. Then me see many grey mouse at riverbank, all scurry. Mouse ignore Hom, live own life. But always he nervous. He fear small cat. Maybe cat hiding? Mouse not know. But fear not stop him — mouse continue. Me smile. Mouse wise. 

Then me hear footstep. Me turn. It Fem. She smile, but she sad. Me smile back, also sad. Then Fem sit by river with Hom. She say nothing, only pick up twig for throw. Maybe she sulk too. 

After while she put arm round shoulder, she squeeze. ‘You good man,’ she say.

‘Me not know,’ me say. ‘Maybe Nizzi have point.’

‘What mean?’

‘Me always talking. Maybe it too much.’

‘That nonsense,’ say Fem. ‘Everybody talk. It not Hom only.’

‘Maybe me need shut mouth.’

‘Me not want Hom shut mouth. Me think you good king.’

‘What?’ me cry. ‘Me not king!’

Fem laugh. ‘Maybe you not know. But you king.’

‘Me not king. Tribe not have king, only Chief. That you! But now you say me king. So maybe now me king? But me not want. Me confuse.’

‘Me Chief,’ say Fem. ‘But you King of Men.’

‘Now me confuse more.’

‘King not same like Chief. Chief lead tribe. Tribe democracy. So Chief come from election. King different — it man who have respect all other men. That not need election. It work of Nature Spirit.’

‘What mean?’

‘Men like follow order. It same like dog. Men think if no order, it chaos. That bad. So long ago, men have idea — why not one man give order, other follow? But all man want give order, not follow. So how decide who give order? That difficult. Long ago, it always fight. That bad. So tribe invent democracy. That better. Now election decide Chief. But who win election? Most time it king — it man with most respect. So most time, Chief also king. Respect make him king, then election make him Chief. Everybody happy. When Chief lose respect, he no longer king. Other man now king, and Chief weak. This bad. When Chief weak, it time for election.’

‘This true,’ me say. ‘This same like Boz.’

‘That right,’ say Fem. ‘But it more. What happen when woman win election? Many men not want take order woman. So when woman win, it problem. She need respect of men, but she not king. So how she get respect? It only one way — she need king. If king follow Chief, men also follow. If king not follow, there big fight. She not stay Chief long.’ Fem smile. ‘But me lucky. Me have Hom.’

‘Me have wife,’ me say. ‘Name Gel. Me loyal!’

Fem laugh. ‘Me know. Me not mean that! It no need worry. Me respect married life. And Gel is good friend.’

‘That relief,’ me say. ‘But Nizzi say—’

Fem frown. ’Nizzi have big mouth.’

’Me no comment,’ me say. But me think she right.

Again Fem laugh. ‘You good king,’ she say. ‘You wise.’

Me think quiet for while. Then me say, ‘Maybe me king. But me not want.’

’That good. But it no choice for Hom, only Nature Spirit.’

Me sigh. ‘Nature Spirit crazy.’

Fem smile. ‘It no need worry. Me have idea.’

‘What that?’

‘You king, but we not make official. Instead it secret.’

Me think about this. Then me laugh. ‘You crazy too,’ me say. ‘But me like.’

Soon we return big cave. When arrive, everybody smile. Me not know how, but argument finish. Now it half tribe in cave, all busy make string. Me see big pile grass in middle. Me watch Garda, she take grass, she twist in finger. She add grass to new string, she twist more, then roll in palm. String grow. Then me see Cheri. She take two new string, and one more. That three string. She weave three string together for make thicker string. Now me understand: they make rope. Soon rest of tribe return. They bring deer and plenty grass. Then hunter leave again for fetch more. Me stay cave. First, me finish spear. It not take long. Then me help make rope.

We make rope long time — it last all day, til sun go down and time for eat. Hunter lucky. They catch other deer and two squirrel! They bring huge load grass — now many big piles in cave, but away from fire. Grass soft, it make good place for sleeping. It many insect in grass, but no problem. Soon grass dry, and insect run away. Or maybe he fly. That depend. It many kind insect. Everybody different, but most insect harmless. Sometimes he annoy. But few insect dangerous, and usually he run away too! So we not worry insect, only snake. But hunter not stupid. They already make sure it no snake in grass.

After eat, Mat and Tix count rope.

‘This good,’ say Mat. ‘But it need more.’

‘We make rope tomorrow,’ say Fem. ‘And next day again. We make rope til enough. Then still we make more. But life not stop for rope. So same time, we make bow. We make many arrow. We make spear.’ Fem smile. ‘Most important, we make plan.’

Many days pass, and rope grow long. Mat count, and always he want more. So rope grow longer. At same time, we find good tree. When we find, Bivi examine. She look branches. She scratch head. Sometime she say no. Sometimes she shrug — this also mean no. 

But sometimes she say yes. Then we climb tree. Bivi choose big branch for scrape off bark, and smear with grease of pig. We hang short piece rope over branch. We pull both end for make sure rope slip easy, then tie in place. Then Garda hug tree. When hug finish, we find next tree. 

When rope long enough, we use for tie short piece together. Now rope stretch from tree to tree! We check rope still slip. Sometimes Bivi need climb tree for find problem. Sometimes it need cut twig and leaf, or scrape bark more. Sometimes it need add grease. Few times it no way fix — she pick wrong tree first time, so need find other. All this take many days. But in end, work finish! Now all rope joined. It slip easy through forest. It high in branches. It hidden.

We tie stone on end near cave. We tie other end far, in tree above mountain pass. Arca climb tree. She pull rope tight; stone twitch at other end! She pull more, and stone lift — it work! Then Arca cut rope. Stone fall on other stone. It make noise, but not loud. This big disappointment.

Me scratch head. It good alarm, but not enough. It something missing, for make better one. Then Nizzi speak up.

‘It no need cut rope,’ she say. ‘It need only pull for lift stone. If let go rope, stone fall. Again pull rope for lift stone. Let go, again stone fall.’

‘Maybe that true,’ me say. ‘But what point?’

‘Me have idea,’ say Nizzi. ‘We make stone beat drum.’

[Next Episode]

Me Sulk

(The Saga of Caveman Hom, Episode 15)

[Index]

[Previous Episode]

Soon return Arca, Cheri and Fab to big cave. They not catch Fooella. They find track, but he clever, lay false trail. It make confuse, give plenty time for get away. Now maybe he too far for catch. We know he steal bow and arrow, so he dangerous. Maybe now he hide in high ground? They think it not wise pursue. If plenty hunter, maybe it different. But they only few. 

‘Not few,’ say Mat. ‘It Arca and Cheri, also Fab. It two and one together.’

‘That make three!’ say Tix.

‘That right,’ say Mat. He give big grin. Tix smile back. 

Me proud of daughter. She good at counting! So me smile too.

But rest of tribe ignore. 

Garda finish cook food. Bivvi and Min put in coconut and take to Gel and Pevette. Then they stay for guard — who know? Maybe Fooella plan attack. Maybe he try rescue dying Pevette from clutches of evil women? We know he crazy. Nobody know what nonsense he try next.

Now tribe discuss what do. If Pevette right, men attack, but we not think they come soon. Maybe they ready now, but soon it snow. If not come now, we think they wait til spring. But nobody know future for sure. Tra crazy, and who know what lie Fooella tell? Maybe he say we murder Pevette! This make Tra angry. When man angry he always more stupid. So maybe he take big risk, make winter attack. 

Then Nizzi say, ’It sound stupid, but maybe it clever — we not expect, so not ready. If surprise, attack more chance success.’

Ruti say, ‘That true. Maybe stupid and clever is same?’

This idea cause much discussion. Sometimes it better do stupid thing. Then it bad mistake try clever. This mean sometimes clever stupid, and stupid clever. But it not always — so how decide? Tribe think about this long time. Everybody scratch head, but it not solve puzzle. We still not know what do. 

 But then me have idea. It work if Tra stupid, or if he not! So maybe it clever and stupid same time, like Ruti say. Me not know. But me think it clever. 

‘We need climb tree,’ me say, ‘for keep watch mountain pass.’

‘That obvious,’ say Nizzi.

‘Me know. But it more to idea. It no good only watch from tree. It true we have arrow, but if many men come, it not enough. Tribe need alarm.’

‘But when men hear alarm, they attack fast!’ say Nizzi. ‘They find lookout, they kill. What if tribe asleep? Then maybe we not hear. We not ready defend.’

‘Me think of that,’ me say. ‘That why we need quiet alarm.’

Nizzi laugh. ’If alarm quiet, how we hear?’

‘It hard explain idea,’ me say. ’Me not know it work. But me have picture in head. It take plenty twine and big stone. We tie twine to stone outside big cave, then climb tree. We find strong branch. Twine go over branch and back to ground. Then we take end of twine, we go far, find other tree. Again we climb, find branch. Again twine go over. We find other tree, do same. And again same, many times. In end twine stretch far, to tree of lookout. We pull twine tight, it lift stone. Then we ready. If trouble come, it no need shout — instead lookout cut twine. It far, but stone fall near. Tribe hear noise, we wake, we defend. Then men not hear alarm. They not expect defend. They think attack surprise, but they wrong. Now it surprise defend!’

Nizzi stare me. ‘That silly idea,’ she say. ’It never work.’

‘Maybe you not understand,’ me say.

‘What this? You say me stupid?’

‘Me not say—’

‘Urrgh!’ say Nizzi. She spit. ‘Me hear enough! You, Hom, always talking, always big idea! You think you clever. You think women stupid.’

‘What?’ me say. ‘That not true!’

‘Of course it true,’ say Nizzi. ‘Hom fall down mountain. It blunder, but he lucky — it save tribe! So now, everybody kiss arse. Hom puff up chest, talk big. Always men listen, men agree. But men never agree women, except Hom agree first. Hom always get own way. He just like Tra — he think he king! This tribe of women, but still it men in charge. It never change.’

‘Me not king,’ me say. ‘Me only Hom.’

‘You cunning,’ say Nizzi. ‘That why you not say it. You say, me Hom, me humble! Me loyal! Me good man! But everybody know truth. With you, everything is trick!’

Me shock. Me stare with open mouth. Me not know what say! 

’This crazy,’ say Gai. ‘It only from imagination! Hom not make trick. He only speak idea. Hom clever. He have many idea.’

‘That right,’ say Fab. ‘Everybody know Hom save tribe. It only luck — that true. But why matter? If Nizzi not grateful, that sad. Maybe she bad woman.’

‘Look this!’ say Nizzi. ‘Me speak truth! Hom King of Men! Always men listen Hom. But if woman speak, they not hear. It same like fart lost in storm. If woman raise voice, what next? Men say she bad woman, want hit with stick!’

‘That nonsense!’ say Fem. ‘Me Chief here. Me always listen women. Me not allow hit with stick. But idea is idea. If man have idea, why not me listen man?’

‘Gah! You not understand,’ say Nizzi. ‘You Chief, but you young. You not know way of men. You naive. You need listen elders. We see what happen.’

‘Me listen elders,’ say Fem. ‘Me listen everyone. But idea is idea.’

‘Everybody know Fem want sex Hom! It cloud judgement.’

‘That enough!’ shout Fem. ‘Me Chief here! Me demand respect!’

‘What this?’ me say. ‘Everybody know me have wife! Me not want women fight!’ me say. ‘Me want stop.’

‘Oh?’ say Nizzi. ‘See again, King Hom! He always tell women what do.’

‘Me not king!’ me shout. ‘Me not!’

Then me storm off. Me leave cave. Shouting continue. Me go to forest. Me find small river, me sit. Me stare at water. Me sulk.

[Next Episode]

Mind is Mystery

(The Saga of Caveman Hom, Episode 14)

[Index]

[Previous Episode]

In morning me wake sudden. There big shouting — Fooella gone! We look twine. It cut. Tribe puzzle. But then Ruti remember: she try cut willy, but it already gone! When she see, she gasp. She drop knife on ground, but never pick up. Now knife gone, Fooella gone. Ruti feel stupid. She begin big sorry, but Fem interrupt.

‘It mistake,’ she say. ‘Me forgive. But now it no time talk of regret. If move fast, maybe we find Fooella. You — Cheri and Fab — you good at track animal, so maybe you track human too. Take Arca, and go quick. If you find, you catch. Then bring back to cave.’

‘But me hungry!’ say Fab. 

‘Eat quick,’ say Fem. ‘Then go.’

After eat, Arca take arrow and bow. Fab pick up spear. Cheri grab plenty twine. Then tracker leave cave for try find Fooella. It not much hope, but try never hurt. 

Rest of tribe walk to cave of stick for visit Pevette. Still outside is Ali, Cul and Cal. They tired, need return big cave for sleep. They also hungry, so Garda go back for make food.

Fem enter cave of stick, she greet. Me follow. It small, so tribe wait outside.

Gel get up, she give hug and kiss. Then Fem say, ‘How Pevette?’

‘Me have bad feeling,’ say Gel. ‘Pevette lose much blood. Me think soon he die.’

‘What?’ say Fem. ‘Why not you say this before?’

‘You not ask.’

‘But this important news! Me need know!’

‘Then why not you ask? Why not send messenger? Me not know magic, only medicine. How me read Chief mind?’

Fem angry for moment, but then she calm. ‘You right,’ she say. ‘Me sorry for shout.’ She shake head. ‘This bad situation — emotions strong. But shouting solve nothing. It important stay calm.’

Me agree. Fem wise. But she only human.

‘Me make mistake,’ say Fem. ‘We lucky it small. So now me fix — me speak Pevette now.’

Gel frown. ‘He sleeping. That important for medicine.’

‘Me understand. But me need hear story. If he die soon, it no time for waste.’

‘That true,’ say Gel. ‘So me allow. But me ask speak quiet, and short time only. Me not want Pevette excite. It bad for heal.’

Fem agree. She poke head outside cave, speak tribe, order quiet. Then she reach forward, touch face of Pevette. She stroke gentle. ‘Pevette,’ she say. ‘Wake up. It Fem here.’

Me see eyes flutter, then open. Pevette groan, then he speak. ‘Fem?’ he croak. ‘Chief Fem?’ He cough.

Gel offer water. Pevette drink.

‘It me,’ say Fem. ‘How you?’

Pevette smile, but he sad. ‘Me hurt bad,’ he say. ‘Me sorry.’

Fem frown. ‘Me not understand. Why sorry?’

Me laugh quiet. Fem cunning. She not want reveal knowledge. She not want Pevette change story for agree with Fooella. She want only truth. So she play small trick.

Pevette drink more water. ‘Me sorry for try steal woman.’

‘What mean, steal woman?’ ask Fem. ‘Me think you only touch boobies.’

’That true,’ say Pevette. ‘But it more. Me make big plan for impress King Tra. It no woman in tribe, but he want. So me decide go over mountain, find woman. Me want catch and bring back for give Tra. Then me important.’

‘What mean, it no women in tribe?’ ask Fem. ‘You not woman?’

Pevette laugh. ‘Me not woman. Me only pretend, for fit in.’ He shrug. ‘It politics.’

Fem nod. ‘Me know politics. It nonsense. But sometimes it necessary.’

Pevette smile. ‘You good Chief,’ he say. ‘You clever.’

‘What Fooella? He say he woman too.’

‘That different. He crazy. He really think he woman! He even cut off willy.’ Pevette shake head. ‘But it no difference. He still man, same like me.’

‘But yesterday you say you woman.’

‘That true,’ say Pevette. He think for moment. ‘It strange. It like me have two mind at same time. One mind believe. Other mind know it nonsense. This make first mind angry. Me confuse. So me pretend other mind not exist. But it always there. Maybe me crazy like Fooella, but less.’ Pevette frown. ‘Me sorry. Me bad at explain.’

‘Mind is mystery,’ say Fem. ‘It part of Nature Spirit.’

‘It different,’ say Pevette. ‘Mind lie often. Nature Spirit always tell truth.’

Fem smile. ‘You good man.’

‘No,’ reply Pevette. ‘Me bad.’ Then he begin cry. ‘You want truth? Me have big problem — me want see boobies often. When tribe have women, problem small. Boobies plentiful, me look, me see, me happy! When women leave, it no boobies, so me sad. Me make picture of boobies in mind, but it make problem worse! Soon me see boobies everywhere! But boobies not real, so sadness stay. It grow. And one day me decide, it enough! Me want real woman — no more pretend with coconut. Me want see big boobies! So me make plan for catch woman. Me tell Tra, he say it good idea. He send Fooella for help catch. He say timing good — snow fall soon. If we catch woman, it no chance rescue soon. We keep woman whole winter, have plenty sex. King Tra promise big reward for catch woman with big boobies.’

Pevette stop talking for cough again. Gel offer more water, he drink. But still he cough. He not stop. Then he begin groan.

‘That enough,’ say Gel. ‘No more talk! Pevette need sleep.’

‘But me have question,’ say Fem. ‘It only one.’

Gel tut. ‘Then ask quick.’

Fem nod. Then she speak Pevette. ‘In end it bad luck — you not catch woman. We catch Fooella, but he escape. Me think he go back over mountain. He find King Tra, tell story. What happen then?’

‘Me not know,’ croak Pevette. ‘But me think other men come. They bring many spear. They want catch women. They want see boobies too. They want punani! It better than pig.’

Fem sigh. ‘Me think same.’

‘Boobies nice,’ say Pevette. ‘For men, it meaning of life.’ He smile. ‘Why you think you win election?’ Then he cough more.

‘Talk finish,’ say Gel. ’It time for leave.’

Fem agree. She hug Gel. ‘Soon we bring food,’ she promise. ‘And more herb.’

Me also hug Gel. Me give long kiss. 

Then we go.

[Next Episode]

Dream of Boobies

(The Saga of Caveman Hom, Episode 13)

[Index]

[Previous Episode]

While eat, tribe talk more.

Nizzi say, ‘Foo tell good story. But that not mean it true. It only words. Why believe? It same like this — he say he woman, but he not. Words not change truth.’

When Fooella hear this, he cry again. ‘Me woman! Me tell truth!’

Nizzi pull face. ‘You stupid,’ she say. ‘You cut willy, but still man. You not know what is woman. You think it only man with no willy!’

‘No!’ cry Fooella. ‘Me not think that. Me know it more. If man cut willy, he still man — me agree!’

‘Oh?’ say Nizzi. ‘That good. Maybe you not so crazy like me think.’

‘Me not crazy. Me know what is woman.’

‘If know, you tell — what is woman?’

‘How you not know?’ ask Fooella. He astonished. ‘You woman too.’

‘Me woman,’ agree Nizzi. ‘That no dispute. But if you also woman, me confused. So me want explain.’

Fooella sigh. He shake head. ‘Me not believe this,’ he say. ‘It obvious. Me know me woman same way like you. It come from feeling inside. Me feel, so me know. It not matter if woman have willy — she still woman. Willy irrelevant.’

‘Then why you cut willy?’

Fooella tut. ‘Me already explain. Maybe you deaf? Me cut willy for grow boobies.’ Fooella point him chest. ‘See?’ he say. ‘Boobies big.’ Then he point feet. ‘Feet shrink,’ he say. ’This good.’

‘But feet still big,’ say Nizzi. ‘And boobies not exist. It only coconut!’

Tribe laugh. 

Fooella stare feet long time. He wiggle toes. Then he look feet of Nizzi. He think. Then he say, ’Maybe feet not so small like you. But soon they shrink more! Change take time. Boobies same — still growing!’

Nizzi throw up hands. ’This ridiculous,’ she say. ‘Me give up.’

Then Gai say, ‘Me know Foo from old tribe. He strange, always playing with worm. But he not bad man. It no need hurt feelings. That bad. He cut off willy — what man do this? It strange. So maybe he really think he woman! If he man, he unhappy. So why not we pretend, just for make smile? It no harm.’

Min roll eyes. ‘You say it no harm, but it lie! Lying bad. Me sorry for cut willy. It sad story. But what use pretend? It never change truth. If he think he woman, he wrong. ’ 

Again, Fooella cry. ‘Bigots,’ he sob. ‘Ruti, Cal, Fem, Min, Nizzi! These nasty women! It tribe of bigots!’

‘Enough,’ say Fem. ‘This go nowhere. It empty talk. No need big debate woman with willy. For now is bigger problem.’

‘What that?’ ask Gai.

‘Fooella here now,’ say Fem. ‘He want join tribe. So what do?’

‘We not need crazy man,’ say Min. ‘He only make trouble.’

‘Me not trouble. Me harmless woman!’

‘Of course you trouble! For you it one subject only — me woman, me woman! Small feet, big boobies! Look coconut! Me special!’ Min snort. ‘But you not special. You boring.’

‘That rude,’ say Gai. ‘It hurtful.’

Min laugh. ‘Me not care. He stupid!’

‘Me she!’

‘Aarrrgh!’ cry Min. ‘He never shut up!’

‘You cruel,’ say Gai. ‘Me kind. So me call him she.’

When Fooella hear this, he give big smile. ‘You good man!’ he exclaim. ‘Later me suck willy.’

Gai hold up hand for refuse. ‘Me not want,’ he say. ‘Me like sex only man.’

‘He man!’ shout Min. ‘What problem?’

’Me woman!’ reply Fooella. ‘But me suck willy good.’

‘It kind offer,’ say Gai. He put arm around Fab. ‘But me already have special friend.’

‘Me suck both willy!’

‘See truth?’ say Min. ‘Fooella think woman only for sex. That why he talk so much of willy.’ Min spit on floor. ‘He give women bad name.’

Fem raise voice. ‘Me want return to subject. What do?’

Tribe go quiet. We thinking long time. Me think too. 

Then me say, ‘Tribe have plenty women, only few men. This bad.’

‘That true,’ say Fem. ‘Tribe need babies.’

‘Me want babies!’ say Fooella. ‘Me help make.’

Me frown. ‘But you not have willy.’

‘That no problem. Me grow baby inside.’

Fem laugh. ‘That no good. For that, tribe have women. It shortage only men, for plant seed. Variety important.’

Fooella look sad. 

‘Tribe also need hunter,’ me say.

’We not need,’ say Min. ‘It plenty already. Anyway, me know Foo. He not good hunter. He even bad at catch fish!’

‘Then maybe he cook?’ me say. ‘Or make arrow?’

‘Forget idiot man,’ say Nizzi. ‘Maybe he good at suck willy. But nobody want! So he useless. We not want him here.’

‘But tribe have dog,’ me say. ‘At first me think he useless too. But me wrong — he catch rabbit! He good dog. Maybe Fooella same?’

‘Me not dog!’ shriek Fooella. ‘And me not he! Me she!’

‘Maybe Gai right,’ me mutter. ’It better call Fooella she. It less trouble.’ Me see Fooella open mouth for speak, so me glare him. And Fooella shut mouth quick.

Then Fem say Fooella, ‘What skill you bring? If only make trouble, it no good. This bad place for dream of boobies. It hard life on mountain, and crying solve nothing. So if join tribe, me want know — what do?’

‘Me expert on worm,’ say Fooella. 

‘What use that?’

‘Me not know. But me valid!’

‘What this mean, valid?’ Min shake head. ‘Me no idea.’

Nobody else know either. It mystery forever.

Now Arca stand up. Since earlier speak she say nothing, only listen. But now she angry. ‘Me not believe this!’ she say. ‘This Fooella — he come with other man to cave of stick. He assault Cheri! He bad man! And now he want join tribe? This bad idea. Me not tolerate man like this.’

‘Me good woman,’ mumble Fooella. ‘Me exist.’

But everyone ignore him.

Fem say, ‘Arca make good point. After this, how trust Fooella? It not easy. But question stay same — what do?’

‘Why not we kill him?’ say Arca.

‘No,’ say Cheri. ‘That wrong.’

‘You not want?’ 

‘It murder.’

‘But… but… he touch boobies! He not ask — he not care! He grab like piece of meat!’

‘Boobies survive,’ say Cheri. ‘Anyway, Fooella not touch. That other man. Name Pevette.’

‘What difference?’

‘Fooella try stop him.’

‘That right,’ say Fooella. ‘Me heroic woman.’

‘You shut mouth,’ say Arca. ‘Or me knock out all teeth!’

‘Me object,’ say Fem. ‘Me not want violence.’

‘But he lying!’ shout Arca. ‘He guilty, same like Pevette! He make up story for excuse bad action!’

‘We not know that,’ say Gai.

‘See again?’ say Ruti. ‘Man always defend other man! Maybe he want Fooella suck willy after all.’

‘What this! You dare insult honour of Gai and Fab?’

‘Pah!’ shout Ruti. ‘When willy involved, no man have honour. Every time, he put willy before women.’

Now Gai turn red. He angry! ‘It lucky you woman. If you man, me kick arse!’

‘Oh,’ say Ruti. ‘Look this — now we see true colour. He sexist, like pig!’

‘Now pig sexist?’ laugh Gai. ‘This too much. Maybe you sexist!’

‘That enough!’ shout Fem. ‘No more insult! We need solve problem. So far, there few suggestion: We kill Fooella, or knock out teeth. But me not allow violence. So it only two choice left: it Fooella join tribe, or exile. Me not hear other idea.’

Tribe grumble. We divided, everybody angry. But Fem right. It only two choice. But then me remember Pevette. 

‘We hear from Fooella,’ me say. ‘But maybe he lying? Maybe Pevette tell different story. Me want hear.’

‘Hom make good point,’ say Fem. ‘But it late now. It time for sleeping. In morning, we visit Pevette at cave of stick.’

Tribe agree. Before sleep, we give soft fur for make Fooella warm. We keep tied, but loosen bonds for comfort. We ask him not speak, or we silence again with hide of rabbit. He not argue, only thank for kindness. He lie down on fur, close eyes. He sleep. Soon tribe sleep too.

[Next Episode]

Baby Snake

(The Saga of Caveman Hom, Episode 12)

[Index]

[Previous Episode]

Fooella pause story for sip water from coconut. Tribe wait. We patient. And at last, he continue more:

He say when he wake, he see King Tra with guards, name Henn and Schmenn. Tra hold up lost willy. It look very small. It shrivelled with purple colour. 

Tra say, ‘Stig find willy on stone. At first he think it slug, but then he see blood. He see stone knife. And he realise — it terrible accident! So he pick up willy, bring Tra. Me clever, so me know what do — me find Krone for healing. And here me find Fooella. You sleeping, so me wait for wake. Now me want know — what happen?’

Fooella still have much pain, but he smile. ‘It not accident. It clever plan.’

‘What plan?’

‘Me cut off willy.’

‘Why you cut?’

‘Answer simple. Me want boobies. Me want pretty face with no hair. Me want be real woman. Real woman not have willy. Now me not have willy, so me real woman too. Now me best woman in tribe! Me important.’

Fooella expect words make Tra happy. He think now he real woman, Tra impressed! He think now Tra want sex. Maybe Tra make him Princess! Princess Fooella, he think. This great honour. He not mind pain — it small price. If he Princess, it worth it. 

But this only dream. King Tra not happy. Instead he have angry face. He throw cut willy in fire. It make loud sizzle! Then he shout Fooella.

‘What this? You say real woman not have willy? But me have willy — you think me not real woman? You think me only man with coconut on chest? You bigot, and worse — you wrong! Me real woman, but better — me have willy!’ Tra push aside loincloth, he show. ‘See willy? It big and strong, like snake! But it smell sweet, like flower in meadow.’ Then Tra thrust willy in face of Fooella. ‘Here,’ he say. ‘Sniff willy.’

Fooella sniff. It not smell like flower, but he lie. ‘It lovely,’ he say. ‘It fine willy, fit for King. It just like baby snake.’

‘That right,’ say Tra. ‘Me very proud.’ He put away willy. ‘All best women have willy. So you stupid for cut off. Now you inferior. You bad woman, like Krone.’

When Krone hear this, she hide laugh. But she not speak, only stir cauldron.

‘Me not mean offence,’ say Fooella. ‘Me sorry.’

‘That good.’

‘But me not stupid. Soon me grow boobies. Then you understand.’

King Tra think about this. ‘Me like boobies,’ he say. ‘Me want touch.’

‘You King! When boobies grow, me offer. Touching welcome! Kissing also allowed.’

Tra smile. ‘Me want touch boobies,’ he say. ‘Boobies nice. Me like big one. How long it take for grow?’

‘Me not know.’

‘Me wait,’ say King. ‘But me not wait long. Me hope boobies come soon.’ Then he leave with Henn and Schmenn.

Krone continue healing. Soon pain fade, and scar begin form. Every day Fooella check, but boobies not grow. Feet not shrink. Face not grow pretty, and still have hair. Every day Tra come, he look boobies, but not impressed — it nothing there, only nipple, like chest of man. 

Fooella ask Krone why boobies not grow. She shrug. She not surprise. She say it more to woman than man with no willy — she say it big difference. Fooella ask explain, but Krone only chuckle. She say she not have words. But Nature Spirit understand — if man cut willy, it no difference. He still man! Man is not woman. He human too, but different kind. 

Fooella think. Then he say, ‘Maybe me cut nuts off too.’

‘That bad idea,’ say Krone. ‘And it not make you woman.’

Then Fooella have idea, try make trouble for Krone. He ask about King Tra. But Krone laugh — she not fear Tra. She say Tra not woman, he only idiot man. Fooella say she bigot, but Krone only laugh more. ‘This silly,’ she say. ’But also it sad. Tra make big mess of tribe. Me live long life. Me see much. But never before me think men this stupid! It big surprise.’ Then Krone shrug. ‘Every day, me learn more of men nonsense.’

This make Fooella angry. ‘You bad woman!’ he shout. ‘You not know science! You nasty bigot, have superstitious view of women!’

When Krone hear this, she only laugh more. 

Now Fooella truly enraged! ’Me not safe here!’ he scream. ‘Me go!’ 

Finally, Krone stop laughing. ’Wait!’ she cry. ‘Cut willy is bad injury. It not healed! If leave now, infection likely. That bad.’

‘Me not care!’ shout Fooella. ‘Me woman! Me want only exist!’ Then he stomp off. 

Fooella return to own cave. He hungry, but not have food, so he sleep. When he wake he hungry more. He try hunt pig, but he fail. He try catch fish, but fish hiding. He try dig root, but he pick wrong one. He throw sick. Then he get fever. He have vision, see boobies grow big. He see hair fall from face, and feet shrink. He very excite. He run to cave of Tra for tell good news, but he weak from hunger. He fall at entrance. Tra take pity. Henn and Schmenn wrap warm in fur, give food. Next day Fooella feel better enough for show boobies. Tra summon tribe for watch big event.

‘Look,’ say Fooella, ‘me have boobies!’ He remove coconut. Tribe stare, but they not see boobies. Only Fooella see. He also show feet. ‘See how dainty?’ he say. ‘It feet of woman, very nice.’ 

Again tribe look. ‘Feet big,’ say Bok. ‘Toes hairy. It not pretty. It same like man.’

‘What?’ cry Fooella. ‘This nonsense!’

Tra step forward. He frown. He look close at chest of Fooella, but he not see boobies. ’Maybe it invisible,’ he say. Then he reach forward for squeeze invisible boobies. But it not there! Now Tra angry. He point finger of rage. ‘You lie!’ he say. ‘You not grow boobies. Face still have hair. Feet big, like paws of bear. You cut off willy for nothing!’

Tribe laugh. 

‘Fooella stupid,’ say Queen Buz. ‘She say she woman, but maybe it lie? No woman so stupid like this. So maybe she not woman. Maybe she man.’

‘No!’ cry Fooella. ‘Me woman!’

‘You say you woman,’ say Tra. ‘But you liar. You promise boobies, but they not arrive. You play dirty trick! This typical of man.’

‘Man bad,’ say Ang. ‘He make rule for oppress woman.’

Henn and Schmenn agree. ‘Man evil!’ they shout. ‘He always make trouble.’

‘Me woman!’ shout Fooella. ‘Me not make trouble. Me only exist!’

‘Maybe you woman,’ say Tra. ‘It no way tell. But you not have boobies, and now willy gone too!’

’Me want remind,’ say Buz. ‘It not long ago tribe have big problem women who not have willy. They try kill King Tra! They evil.’ Then he think. ‘At least they have boobies. That good. But Fooella not have — so what good he? It none.’

‘That right,’ say Tra. ‘He useless!’

‘Me not he!’ scream Fooella. ‘Me she! Me cut off willy, so me brave. Now me beautiful woman! Me have small feet, big boobies. Me stunning. What happen eyes? Whole tribe go blind!’

‘It nothing wrong eyes,’ say Tra. ‘Problem not with tribe. It only Fooella. He go crazy! So now he man.’

‘Man dangerous,’ shout Buz. ‘He oppress! We not want man here! This tribe only for women. And more — we not want bad women. It willy required. So truth simple. It not matter if Fooella man or woman; he big problem for tribe.’

‘That right,’ say Tra. ‘Buz wise. Fooella stupid. He not belong here. If he grow boobies, me lenient. But it not grow. So me exile Fooella.’

‘What this?’ sob Fooella. ‘It great injustice! You cruel King. You jealous of big boobies, small feet.’

Tribe laugh. 

‘He crazy man!’ say Buz. ‘Without willy, he dangerous. Quick — throw out, before he kill King!’

‘Me not man,’ cry Fooella. ‘Me woman! Me sexy.’

But it too late. Henn and Schmenn grab Fooella arms. They drag from cave of Tra, throw to ground. Rest of tribe follow. Henn spit, Schmenn kick. ‘You go,’ they say. ’And not come back! Or we kill.’ Schmenn kick once more. Then tribe leave.

Only Pevette stay. When Fooella stop crying, he give hug. Fooella cry again, but he hug back. Then Pevette speak soft. ‘Me want see boobies. Me want touch.’

‘You welcome,’ sob Fooella. Again he remove coconut.

Pevette look. ‘Me not see.’ He touch. ‘Me not feel. Me think big boobies is only imagination.’

‘You nasty woman,’ reply Fooella. ‘You bigot.’ 

‘Maybe that true,’ say Pevette. ’Who know?’ He shrug. ‘It not matter. You exile. What do now?’

‘Me not know. Maybe me cut own throat.’

‘What this? You want die?’

‘Me want.’

‘That wrong,’ say Pevette. ‘It against Nature Spirit.’

‘Me not care! Life cruel!’

Pevette think about this. ‘That true. But me know problem.’

‘What that?’

‘Problem is tribe. It no boobies here. Without boobies, women always sad.’ Pevette sigh. ‘It only boobies make life bearable.’

‘But me have boobies, and still sad!’

Pevette not want argue more. It boring. ‘It not enough boobies,’ he say. ‘Tribe need more.’

Then Fooella have idea. ‘Maybe me not cut throat. Maybe instead me go over mountain. Me look for bad women. If alive, me find. Now me bad woman too, so me join. Maybe it better life.’

‘That good idea! Bad women have plenty boobies.’ Pevette smile. ‘Me want see. Me want touch. So me come too.’

Then Pevette fetch food — he good hunter, so he have plenty. Then Fooella and Pevette leave tribe, climb mountain. It long journey. They lucky — weather warm, so not snow. But Fooella still have injury. And Krone right, it not healed. Soon it infected. It not possible move fast. Pevette grow impatient — he want see boobies! But still, he stay.

Journey continue. They reach top of mountain, and descent begin. Tree grow thicker, and more squirrel. They hear song of bird. They see rabbit, and distant goat. 

Then they find cave of stick. From inside come voice — it sound like woman! Pevette creep quiet to cave. He peek in! He see Arca and Cheri. He see boobies — it very nice! So then he lose mind.

At last Fooella finish story. It just in time — now soup ready! Gai, Fab, and Min fill few coconut, then carry to cave of stick for feed guard. When return, tribe eat. Fooella eat too. And dog.

[Next Episode]