“Imagine yourself holding a gun,” I tell our child. “Well, not exactly. Imagine that your right hand is a gun. Wait, you don’t know what a gun is, and you can’t understand what I’m saying.”
I show her my right hand with the fingers extended as if I were about to high-five her, then I curl up the ring finger and the pinkie. My index and middle fingers now resemble the barrel of a gun. Using those fingers and my thumb, I imitate a duck’s bill. With my left hand I place the child’s chosen crayon, a Prussian blue one, on my right hand so the three fingers hold her crayon close to its tapered end. I draw a circle on a blank page of the sketchbook while the child follows my movements.
“Alright, your turn, forest girl,” I say.
When she imitates a duck’s bill with her fingers, she gawps at them as if she had never imagined making such a gesture. I slide the crayon between her three delicate fingers, then I guide her to press the crayon’s tip firmly against the paper. Once I let go, she hunches over and draws a vertical line.
I pat the back of her head.
“That’s good, girl. You are becoming smart!”
I sense the presence of our saintly mommy. Jacqueline pulls back the chair opposite me, and with a twirl of her plaid skirt she sits down, squeezing her buns against the undeserving seat. Her breasts bounce, contained by the tight fabric of her black turtleneck sweater. On her ivory-white face, her painted lips and her sparkling cobalt-blues accentuate the joy she feels now that both the Ice Age girl and I are back within her reach.
“I see that both of my girls have kept busy,” she says. “Isn’t our new daughter endlessly fascinating, Leire?”
“She’s an interesting creature,” I concede.
Jacqueline reaches over the table to grab my hand, then she squeezes it. Her skin feels warm and silky soft.
“But don’t you think that I’ve forgotten about you, baby.” Her warm smile falters. “Throughout the morning I imagined that you were suffering at the office, dreading that the moment you headed to the bathroom or outside to take a break, you’d walk through an invisible doorway and disappear.”
“I’ve learned that I would only need to step back and hope that no extinct demon follows me back to our world. Anyway, I’ve kept myself quite busy: I went down a rabbit hole of YouTube videos to learn more about our distant past. It was extremely informative.”
I turn my head to the child, who remains hunched over as she draws with a midnight-black crayon a conical shape, maybe a collection of twigs and logs that would become a campfire, or maybe a crude tepee. A nearby brown shade with a spiky outline may represent a bush.
“Hey, forest girl,” I say, “did you know that during the Ice Age, about two kilometers of ice were sitting on top of most of northern Europe and half of North America, going south as far as New York? That 12,800 years ago, fragments from the Taurid meteor stream bombarded our planet in an apocalyptic cataclysm that plunged us into a deep freeze we’ve come to know as the Younger Dryas, which caused the extinction of megafauna as well as a human reproductive bottleneck? That the partial melting of the Laurentide Ice Sheet after that event, pouring tons and tons of water into the Arctic Ocean, probably caused such an isostatic rebound in the North American tectonic plate that major islands of the Mid-Atlantic Ridge eventually sank beneath the waves? That from this cataclysm to the end of the Younger Dryas period 11,600 years ago, sea levels rose by more than 120 meters, swallowing about 27 million square kilometers of prime real estate, a span of land that combined would be as large as Europe and China put together? That although people are still told, possibly due to the influence of the Abrahamic religions, that human civilization started 6,000 years ago, an astronomical observatory in Southeastern Anatolia named Göbekli Tepe was deliberately buried 12,000 years ago? That the pluvial erosion in the quarry walls of the Sphinx suggests that it must have been built at the latest 12,000 years ago? That the stonework from the most intriguing megalithic constructions in Egypt, Peru and other places distant from each other are nearly identical, down to odd details like protuberances and angled cuts? That an analog computer named the Antikythera mechanism, capable of predicting astronomical positions and eclipses decades in advance, was built at the latest in the second century BC? That Marinus of Tyre’s maps, from back in the first century AD, used both latitude and longitude, although calculating the longitude requires knowing the accurate time as the Earth spins, and the technology to measure that was discovered in the nineteenth century? That the Piri Reis map compiled from ancient, crumbling sources, depicts bodies of land that went underwater at the end of the Ice Age, which implies that at least one seafaring civilization was capable of mapping the world’s oceans 12,000 years ago? That the academics who protected the Clovis First dogma, which stated that no humans existed in the Americas prior to 13,000 years ago, ruined the careers of those who dared to dig deeper and proved that humans inhabited the continent at least ten or twenty thousand years earlier, maybe even a hundred thousand? That genetic signatures from Australasia are present in the DNA of Native Americans living in the Amazon rainforest, so a certain Thor Heyerdahl, leader of the Kon-Tiki expedition across the Pacific Ocean, was right all along? That the director of the museum of Malta scrubbed the painting of an extinct animal from the Hypogeum’s walls, because the narrative forbade it from having been constructed during the Ice Age? Don’t you sometimes want to raze this fucking world to the ground?”
The child has scrunched her eyebrows as she studies my expression like a cat startled by a sudden bang, trying to figure out how to react, while she rests the tip of the Prussian blue crayon on the paper. I have yanked her out of her creative reverie, and now she’s forced to process the chatter of nearby patrons as well as the hum and hiss of the industrial coffee machine.
“What I caught of that sounded interesting,” Jacqueline says, “but you are confusing our poor doll. From her perspective, you were shooting a stream of nonsense at her cute face.”
I stroke the child’s chubby cheek with my thumb, then I guide her right hand so she continues drawing an unfinished tree. Jacqueline rests her chin on her palm as she eyes me with pity.
“I suspect that you have programmed very little today.”
I heave a sigh.
“Yeah, close to nothing of value. I could tell that Ramsés was about to annoy me about it, so tomorrow I’ll stay to work overtime.”
“I guess that’s a sacrifice you have to make. But you becoming more interested in this world, even in a time period long gone, is a good sign, Leire.”
“Back when I was as young and even younger than this child, I dreamed of venturing into the mysterious and unknown. I wanted to explore fog-shrouded mountains, forgotten caves, cursed forests, sunken ships, submerged islands, deep abysses, and come back rich with tales of witches, unicorns, dragons, fairies, mermaids, merfolk, dvergr and selkies. Unfortunately I ended up infected with whatever it is that makes people crazy, so I became an observer of my life. Soon enough I believed that I was already dead.”
“That sounds healthy. And it must have been nice to feel that you weren’t responsible for your actions.”
“In any case, musing about the Ice Age serves as a distraction from my endless cycle of arousal and depression, and it may help me repress my violent tendencies towards human beings.”
The blond barista, who is wearing a black apron over her equally black uniform, sashays towards us from the first counter as she holds a tray.
“Here you go, ladies.”
She bends her knees to place two steaming cups of hot chocolate next to the open sketchbook, and a latte in front of Jacqueline. This messy-haired Slav would never fumble a cup and spill the scalding liquid on some customer’s face, which could disfigure them and cause the barista guilt that she’d have to expiate through vigorous self-flagellation. Wait, the barista has decorated Jacqueline’s latte with a small heart that’s hanging over mirrored ripples. That fucking whore!
“I’m coming back with your pastries,” she says with a friendly but likely fake smile that conceals the grimace lurking underneath.
She turns around to show us how her butt looks in the black trousers of her uniform, which resemble a nurse’s, then she heads towards the first counter. I don’t know what bothers me more, her disregard for customers’ feelings or her sluttiness.
Chocolate’s dark intensity can penetrate deep into one’s mind, which can calm and inspire that person. Although its sweet and chocolatey aroma assaults my nostrils, it can’t seduce me as it would have in times past; I’ve been too traumatized by a lifetime of daily abuse, which left me with the bitter trace of longing for the embrace of oblivion, as well as the urge to channel my anxiety through my revolver into a discharge that may inconvenience whoever gets caught in the path of the bullet. Anyway, our child’s monolid eyes have widened. She cups her little hands around the closest cup of hot chocolate, then she leans in warily towards the steaming, pine-cone-brown liquid as if she suspected that a frog would leap out of it. Her mouth opens like a wound and she sticks her tulip-pink tongue out, which is coated with a rose-gold membrane; she looks like an adorable corpse.
The tip of her tongue inches closer to the chocolate, and when they touch each other, the child recoils. She complains with a whimper. As she brings her eyebrows together, her forehead crinkles, and she eyes us demanding an explanation.
“I guess that we can’t expect a child from the Paleolithic to avoid sticking her tongue in a hot liquid,” I say, “nor to know how to cross the road without getting flattened by a truck. If the world were a fair place, this wouldn’t be a problem.”
“Oh Leire, don’t make me imagine such a horrendous thing,” Jacqueline protests.
I gesture for the child to look at me. When I grab my cup of chocolate, the ceramic’s heat starts spreading across my palms. I bring the cup to my mouth and I blow on the content. I’ve turned into a grandmother.
I’m hoping that our child will learn fast that her breath should cool the muddy liquid. After I put my cup down, she hurries to grab hers and blows hard on the chocolate, depressing its surface, forming tiny waves, and splashing brown drops on the inner wall of the cup as well as on a page of the sketchbook. She takes a cautious sip.
We’ve been lucky with this random kid that saved me from a ground sloth; if she had proved unable to hold her shit in or to keep herself from eating my slippers, I would have wanted to drop her at whatever ditch remains in modern society to abandon such children, those about whom one should have cared enough but failed to do so.
A carmine flash slashes my mind, then a shiver shakes me. I hunch over and bury my face in my palms. My brain is scraping the bottom of a rusty barrel for enough nourishment so I can think coherently, but I’m so wired that even if I reached a bed now, I would waste hours rolling around while drenched in sweat.
“What’s wrong?” Jacqueline asks me.
“We’re wild and unpredictable beasts,” I say in a rough voice. “Our ancestors survived an apocalypse, which goes a long way to explain how fucked up we are. The main takeaway of my previous rant about prehistory was that we remain children, that we know nothing of what came before us, and that for the last two thousand years or so we’ve been pushed down a narrow road with few detours, none that would make us question the intended destination. But you can’t cage nature and force it to follow your rules.” I take a deep breath as I rub the back of the child’s sweater. “Before this morning, I didn’t even know you existed, little savage. I’m having a hard time comprehending that.”
The girl slurps noisily. When she lowers the cup of chocolate, her lips are splodged with a brown sludge as if she were cosplaying as a dirty clown. She grins at me. In her eyes I may have provided the treat, and I guess I did; if I hadn’t kidnapped her from that boreal forest, she would have spent the afternoon fleeing from short-faced bears and giant armadillos. However, now she wouldn’t give two shits about my growing despair even if she could understand me.
Jacqueline grabs a napkin from its dispenser and walks around the table to wipe our child’s mouth. After a yawn climbs my throat, my mouth gapes so open that my ears pop. Maybe I should have ordered coffee. I shake my head, then I drink a mouthful of chocolate. The hot and sticky liquid smears itself over my palate like a second tongue.
I close my eyes to savor the sweetness and let it melt my brain away, but I hear the accented voice of an incoming Slav. Why the hell is that barista bothering us again? My disdain towards her deafens me to her likely pointless words. Jacqueline stands aside so the barista can lower a heavy, rectangular tray loaded with pastries, as well as with a plate and a set of cutlery for each of us. She has rounded up sugar donuts, fruit tartlets, puff pastry braids laden with raisins, millefeuilles with pearl-colored cream pressed between their layers, and oblong eclairs glazed with a coat that resembles frozen cum.
Our child ogles the feast with glistening eyes; she must be salivating like a mad beast trapped in a cage.
“What an awesome drawing!” the barista says. “You are so talented!”
Our Ice Age child must have turned the page back in the sketchbook, likely so my masterpiece would inspire her, and now the barista is soiling it with her gaze. Then she stares at the girl, who smiles the same way a stray cat would purr at the stranger who went out of his way to pet it. I wonder if our child thinks that everyone in this new world is retarded; why else would they insist on talking to someone who can’t understand them?
I squint as my nostrils flare. This barista must be a mercenary from some Eastern European shithole, sent here to sabotage our civilization through psychological operations; the real war is on the battlefield of the mind.
“Leaving aside the masterful painting, which would be worth thousands in the international auction circuit, don’t address our girl as if she were some pet,” I say sternly. “She’s an orphan from the Paleolithic period, and we are raising and educating her for a better future.”
“I didn’t mean anything by it,” the barista says in a bubbly tone. “She reminds me of my niece Tanya.”
“Please, I don’t want to hear about your relatives. Can you give us some peace and quiet? This is a family patisserie, not a kangaroo shelter.”
I regret my words as soon as they escape my mouth. I should never return to this cursed store; if I forget the current confrontation and one day I end up ordering coffee here, this barista may serve me some beverage that would taste like sewage.
“Sure thing!” she says with a smile that would disarm a lesser woman. “Enjoy your pastries and the rest of the afternoon.”
The barista turns around, and while she swaggers towards the first counter, her butt wiggles slightly as if proclaiming that no matter how our verbal sparring ended, now I’m forced to stare again at the back of her flimsy trousers.
“We’re a bunch of troglodytes here in the twenty-first century,” I mutter. “We should be grateful that these baristas don’t massacre us and pillage our civilization like so many invaders did in the past.”
Jacqueline arches an eyebrow at me. When she rests her elbows on the table, her mighty breasts overhang the cup of latte.
“Leire, what’s your problem with this service industry worker?” she asks as she chuckles.
“Hey, it has nothing to do with her temporary subservience because she’s forced to take our orders. I would have disliked her even if she were my mother. Especially if she were my mother.”
“Why, though? She was perfectly nice.”
“I… don’t remember. But I haven’t forgotten how she made me feel.”
Jacqueline shakes her head slowly. She’s observing me as if I were lying in bed with a damp washcloth on my forehead, waiting for my fever to relent.
I fidget with my cutlery.
“I have so much anger bottled up inside, Jacqueline,” I confess. “It’s not fair to keep it in.”
“That’s alright, but you told that stranger dangerously true things.” She lowers her voice. “Are you that exhausted, my poor baby?”
I rub my eyebrows.
“Let’s say that I’m running out of the necessary energy to restrain my primal instincts.”
My girlfriend smiles, then she picks up the sketchbook and admires my masterpiece.
“That young woman wasn’t lying when she praised your drawing, sweetie.” She turns the page. “Oh, and our doll drew her home! That’s the forest you ended up in, right? She has depicted the cold so well with the aquamarine crayon. And are these tepees?”
Drool is trickling from the corners of our child’s mouth as she pokes her index finger into a fluffy donut sprinkled with sugar.
“Well, that donut belongs to you now,” I say to the girl. “Your index finger may have been in any amount of extinct beasts’ anuses.”
I take the donut and tempt our child by holding it in front of her mouth. She giggles, then snatches the ring-shaped piece of fried dough. She opens her mouth wide, scrunching up her face and making her eyes go squinty, and she munches on the donut.
I hear her high-pitched noises of delight while my eyes lose focus. This child’s home is a forest? Are we talking about the same girl that we have brought to a patisserie so she could taste pastries for the first time? But less than twenty-four hours ago I flashed my tits and genitals at her unsullied self as I stood in that boreal forest next to a burbling brook, didn’t I? My brain must be hustling to mend the wounds that the ordeal has inflicted to my psyche.
I first met our sudden daughter when she peeked out from behind a tree trunk. In my memory I’m staring at her disheveled hair, at her peach-orange skin stained with dirt, at the ash-colored leather tunic that clung to her lithe body. Jacqueline left on her coffee table the child’s tooth necklace: a gift for a wild princess who lived at the end of a world where ice would meet fire. I can barely get through a fucking morning at the office without sinking in the sludge of my existential despair, yet I survived a trip to the Ice Age through an invisible gateway opened by my otherworldly stalkers. What the hell has happened to my life?
I have broken out in a cold sweat. I gulp, then I lift my gaze and scan the vicinity for any trace of the Ice Age. A woman who’s wearing a fur-lined coat is ordering some beverage at the second counter, and the beanie-wearing lowlife who nearly assaulted Jacqueline is scuttling out of the store while he taps the screen of his smartphone. Both, as well as the rest of the patrons, are oblivious to the fact that ninety-nine percent of everything and everyone that ever existed has disappeared and been forgotten.
I bite the nail of my index finger. When I open my mouth to speak, my voice comes out threadbare.
“Before mankind rose and became gods, the ground sloth was one of the dominant herbivores, as well as the largest land mammal that ever lived on Earth. By far the chunkiest sloth that I ever saw in person. It could have devoured a horse whole, but they weren’t murderous, just confused and lazy. And now we exist in a world where sloths are no longer sloths.”
Jacqueline’s cobalt-blues shimmer as she softens her gaze. She picks up an oblong eclair adorned with Brandy-colored lines in zig-zag, then she offers it to me.
“Soon enough we will all go extinct,” she says in a soothing tone. “There’s only one of you, only one of me, only one of this darling girl. Everyone will eventually be forgotten. We can mourn what is lost, but also celebrate that we are still here, for example by stuffing ourselves with as many pastries as we can.”
If we can still celebrate anything even when the ground sloths, mammoths and mastodons are already gone, then I shall eat until the bitter end.
Author’s note: the three songs for today are “Myth” by Beach House, “‘Cello Song” by Nick Drake, and “Hurdy Gurdy Man” by Donovan.
I exploited a neural network to generate images related to this chapter. Here’s the link.
Another long chapter at 3,586 words. It took me ages to get through, partly because I’ve been feeling apathetic for a while.
Last Monday I got an echocardiogram done. After the test, the cardiologist just told me that he would see me in a year unless I endured another episode of atrial fibrillation. When I reminded him that he had just performed an echocardiogram on me, he said, paraphrasing, “Well, your left ventricle is way too big. You shouldn’t drink alcohol again, like at all.” I don’t drink alcohol. I was so stunned that I didn’t ask why my left ventricle dilated, nor what should I expect in the future. Now I have to figure out how to visit a different cardiologist. On top of that, out of nowhere I’ve developed red-brown, itchy spots on my ankles and feet, as well as a varicose vein. It sounds heart related to me.
Regarding prehistory, some years ago I came across the notion that a “black mat” layer that dates to 12,800 years ago or so, right at the onset of the tremendously anomalous Younger Dryas climatic period, contains impact proxies (high-temperature spherules, meltglass, amorphous carbon, etc.) that are characteristic of extraterrestrial events, mainly comet/meteor impacts.
The same impact proxies are present at the K-Pg boundary related to the Chicxulub impact, which eradicated the dinosaurs. To be fair, some scientists believe that the ET event might have been due to coronal mass ejections and solar storms from the sun. Others believe that both comet/meteorite impacts and coronal mass ejections were responsible, and related. In any case, our ancestors suffered a catastrophe that ruined the course of humanity.
Apparently this subject was discovered in the mid-to-late 2000s. You can read more information on the webpage of the Comet Research Group, linked here. This other link leads to the scientific publications. As the years pass, more and more scientists seem to agree that the evidence supports the impact hypothesis.
Ever since I discovered that a cosmic apocalypse hit the reset button on the previous 187,200 years, in conservative estimates, of history that modern human beings had accumulated (because modern human beings have been around for at least 200,000 years), I’ve remained fascinated (on-and-off, autistically obsessed) by that catastrophe, its implications, and the ripples it made on our likely outrageously incorrect narrative of the Holocene.
This linked video is a compelling overview of how the discovery of the Younger Dryas impact, as well as other recent discoveries, shines a light on the many incongruences in the current history of human civilization, which is unlikely to be rewritten until many people with authority in academia retire or pass away. I’ll also display the video below.
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