by Ron Guell
Host: Our story, for your
perusal, begins in a wilderness
caught in the grip of a harsh and scalding winter. The exact location
for this dramatic tale is superfluous. Leave it to say, it is not a
locale for the faint of heart. Case in point: foot-fall in near
knee-deep snow, legs and torsos cloaked and bound in animal skins,
three ancient travelers, in a desperate search for food, are their
families last hope. Armed only with crude weapons, they are miles from
their camp, where their starving families are huddled in the
much-welcomed safety of a fire-warmed cave. That safe zone, however,
threatens to become their final resting place, as hunger, ever
creeping, vows to hunt down and claim the life of each and every one.
Weakened by hunger, the travelers clear what threatens to be their
final ridge top, before collapsing in a frozen death. They spy a
strange and confounding sight. It’s not what they find, but who and
when they find it, that is the point of this dramatic tale.
Surprised, the primitive travelers gaze at a kind of
that’s unfamiliar to them. What they do understand, is the smoke rising
to the gods. Smoke means only one thing, warmth, and shelter from their
misery. They warily approach the odd-looking hut.
Cracking open a bottle of Christmas whiskey,
succumbing to the
illusion that alcohol actually warms you up, three modern-day hunters
celebrate before a roaring fire. Near boiling in a large cast iron pot,
hanging in the fireplace, is Boss Hog’s unique blend, that he calls
'wilderness stew'. The hunters have stalked and killed their quota of
deer each. Raising a glass of his favorite nectar, Boss Hog, the
self-professed king of the forest, spots movement at the window. Decked
out in full camouflage gear, Hog leads his crew of two, each with
whiskey-filled glasses, around to the side of the cabin. They
surprisingly come face to face with what look like three strange
Startled, except for Hog, the hunters are at a loss
Mac nervously shoots his arms up in the air, looking like a redneck
version of jazz hands.
"Do you think they can see us, Boss?"
sizing up the strangers,
"Yea Mac, they can see us alright." Sensing his
dad’s calm, Hog’s son whispers,
"Crazy place to hold a costume party,
"Those sticks in their hands aint no party favors son."
I’ve seen pictures of these guys in my history book. What are they
"I don’t quite know yet son."
The tall, broad-shouldered leader of the travelers
sense any serious danger either. He gestures the hunters past the
snowmobiles towards the rear of the cabin. There he motions towards
three slain deer neatly packed in snow. The leader wildly gestures the
signs for eating food, and food at a distance. Their predicament is
"Say Hog, let's get inside, you know, where our rifles are."
"Steady Mac, ain’t you ever seen a hungry man?"
Boss Hog slowly
gestures the travelers towards the door, where they enter the warm
cabin with cautious stares, but in a warm silence. Quietly, the sounds
of the crackling fire, and the aroma of stew on a boil, soothes the
nerves of everyone. The travelers are distracted from their mission for
only a few moments, enough time to ravish a few bowls of Boss Hog’s
"They really like it, dad."
"I told you, son, it’s the
Soon enough the leader resumes his determined
gesturing. In an
unexpected move, he pulls a slender piece of charcoal tipped tinder
from the fire.
The traveler looks around the log cabin and
approaches the kitchenette’s three cabinets. Upon each door, with an
urgent artistic expression, his desperate story unfolds with three
exquisitely sketched scenes. His plight and that of his clan is
communicated perfectly. All are silent as the weight of the traveler's
desperation crystallizes in a single instant. While they do not
understand each other's words, they understand each other completely.
A deer across the shoulders of each traveler, pausing
look back and offer a brief gesture of solidarity, the travelers
disappear over that mysterious ridge top, that dividing line between a
time in history’s infancy, and what Scientists and Shamans believe is
an ever-present now.
A primitive stone knife is spotted half buried in the
The ancient tool in hand, Boss Hog climbs the ridge in haste. A hand
cupped to his mouth, ready to call to the travelers, he stops in his
tracks. Now gazing at his own strange and confounding sight, the clear
winter air reveals the undeniable truth. The traveler's footprints in
the snow stop at the ridge-top. The travelers are gone, gone home to a
family reception, a life-saving meal for all, and an account of their
experience on the walls of a yet to be discovered cave. It is an
account of their encounter with strangers, who provided nourishment for
the joyous banquet they savored, many thousands of years ago.
Attired in a thick-hooded polyester coat, our host
from the tree-line, savors a drag from his cigarette, and offers us
some closing thoughts.
Host: Perhaps it was some deep and ancient
genetic code, a
kinship responsible for drawing these desperate time travelers to meet
their progeny, where the young proved their metal, and provided
redemption for their elders and their starving namesake, each and every
one. Needless to say, this timely family gathering, a gathering of
minds and hearts across time, could only be hosted, and catered, in
this an obscure and frozen corner of, ***.
© 2018 Ron Guell
A retired native of the Big Easy,
Ron has worked in
music and construction. He started writing in August 2017 and soon
his voice. While the 50-word challenge is his favorite, longer flash
stories are now his focus.
Comment on this story in the Aphelion Forum
Return to Aphelion's Index page.