Authors: Matthew Dennion
AND THE BEASTS OF PREHISTORY
Copyright 2015 By Matthew Dennion
The cold wind whipped across the barren ice as several penguins wandered around looking for the optimal spot to build a nest. Jun-Tuk pulled his seal skin coat tighter over his torso. He was a member of the Quinic tribe. He was used to the harsh cold that was a constant fact of life to the people who lived just above the South Pole. The old man shivered, but it was not the sub-zero winds that blew around him that caused his body to shake. He was shivering out of fear and concern for his daughter, Shunu. Two weeks ago, the ten-month period had passed since the Quinic’s last offering to the Yeti. The Yeti had returned to the village looking for one of the Quinic’s young women to be offered to him. Against Jun-Tuk’s wishes, Shunu had insisted on offering herself to the monster. Jun-Tuk’s wife had died long ago and Shunu was the only family that he had left. Now that two weeks had passed, Jun-Tuk and the hunters were waiting at the mid-way point between the village and the pass that led to the valley between the mountains. They were all hoping to see the Yeti return with Shunu alive and well in his clutches.
The wind whipped a gust of snow off the ground and into Jun-Tuk’s face, causing the old man to close his eyes. With his eyes closed, Jun-Tuk recalled the history of the beast that held his beloved daughter’s life in his clawed hands. When Jun-Tuk was a young man, the Yeti had first appeared outside of his village. The wild-man was a giant who was covered in thick white fur. The Yeti walked on two legs but its body was thick and far more powerful than any human. He face was long with blood red eyes, while his mouth was filled with sharp, dagger-like teeth.
The beast wandered into the village where he began tearing down the seal skin tents that the villagers’ lived in. Many of the village’s hunters ran out to try and slay the beast, but their spears were unable to pierce the Yeti’s thick fur and dense muscles. The Yeti rampaged through village until he found one of the young women hiding inside of a tent. The Yeti picked up the young woman and wandered off into the tundra with her. Several of the hunters tried to the follow the creature, but he was large and he moved too fast for them to keep up with. After chasing the Yeti for nearly two days, the hunters tracked the monster to a valley pass between the huge mountains to the west of their tribe. The valley pass was filled with large and jagged boulders. Once the hunters climbed to the top of the pass, they looked into the valley and they saw that it was filled with demons. At the sight of the demons, the hunters were forced to abandon their quest and to return to the village.
Once the hunters had returned to the village, the members of the tribe had assumed that the Yeti had devoured the woman. The day after abduction, the chief of the tribe presided over a funeral for the girl. She was honored and each member of the tribe provided some manner of compensation to the woman’s father for the loss of his daughter.
For several months, the elders of the tribe met with the chief and they discussed what actions would be taken if the Yeti was to return again. The hunters made several suggestions on new ways to attack to the wild-man. The tribe’s spiritual leaders, however, felt strongly that the Yeti was not an animal but a god. They contended that if the Yeti was to be worshipped by the Quinic that he would no longer attack the tribe and that he would even protect them from the demons in the valley.
Ten months had passed since the abduction and the debate was still continuing as to the nature of the Yeti and how to deal with him. The spiritual leaders continued to insist that the Yeti was a god and the hunters still felt that he was a beast that could be killed. They were inside the chief’s tent when they heard the roar of the Yeti. Once more, the beast searched the village until he found a young woman that he grabbed and returned to the valley with. Once more, a funeral was held for the young woman and her family.
Sixteen days after the second woman had been abducted, there was great commotion in the center of the village. The chief and the tribal elders exited their tent to see the entire tribe gathered around a single person. The chief made his way to the center of the gathered people to see the woman who had been abducted two weeks earlier being hugged by her father.
Like everyone else in the tribe, the chief was amazed to see that the woman was still alive. He embraced the girl and then ordered food, water, and new clothes to be brought to her. Once the woman was comfortable and refreshed, the chief asked her what had happened after the Yeti had abducted her.
The young woman told a story that was beyond belief. She said that the Yeti had taken her through the pass of the stone mountains that loomed far in the distance from the tribe. Once they had entered the pass, the woman was shocked to see a valley filled with monsters and demons. Several of the demons had tried to attack her but the Yeti had fought them off. The Yeti then took her to his cave where he fed the girl raw meat and provided her with water. The girl was forced to stay close the Yeti in order to keep from freezing to death.
While at first she feared that the Yeti would devour her, she soon found that the Yeti had no intention of consuming her. The Yeti simply kept the girl in his cave where she was safe from the horrors outside of it. Ten days after the Yeti had taken her, the monster picked her up and carried her back through the pass in between the mountains to the halfway point between the valley and village. He placed the young woman safely on the ground then he turned and started walking back into the valley. The chief had asked the young girl if she had seen the first woman who had been abducted but the girl replied that she had not seen her. It was assumed that the first women had displeased the Yeti and suffered his wrath.
The tribe’s spiritual leaders immediately proclaimed that the woman’s story indicated the Yeti was indeed a divine spirit that protected them from the horrors inside of the valley. The eldest of the spiritual leaders spoke to the chief in front of the entire tribe. “The Yeti seeks to protect us from the demons of the valley and he asks that we honor him with the offering of a young maiden when he arrives. This girl has returned alive! Surely asking one maiden to spend several moons with the Yeti is not a price beyond our ability to meet.” The chief nodded in agreement with the old man. He then turned to the crowd. “Women of the Quinic, the Yeti god has chosen you to be his consorts as he battles the demons which live in the valley. It is your sacred duty to accompany the Yeti for the good of the tribe.” The chief pointed to the young girl who the Yeti had recently returned. “This woman stayed close the Yeti and appeased him. In return, the Yeti protected her and our entire tribe from demons of the valley. From this day forward, when the Yeti comes, he shall be allowed to take one woman with him as payment for protecting our entire tribe from the demons which inhabit the valley. Do not fear to be taken by the Yeti. If you worship and appease him, you shall be returned to us unharmed.”
From that day on, the Yeti would come to the tribe every ten months where he would find the women of the Quinic waiting for him. Roughly half of the women who were taken were returned to the halfway point between the valley and village after sixteen days had passed. The Yeti would bring the women who he chose to return to the halfway point where they would find a group of hunters that would escort them back to the village. The women who were not returned were thought to have displeased the Yeti and to have brought his wrath upon themselves.
As the years went on, less of the women were being returned to the tribe. One morning, in the tenth month from last appearance of the wild-man, the Yeti wandered into the village again. The women of the tribe had become less inclined to offer themselves to the Yeti as a sacrifice because less than half of the women who had previously been taken were returned. As such, when the Yeti came to the village, he did not find the women of the tribe waiting for him to choose one them to be his consort.
When he did not see the women waiting for him, the Yeti became enrage and attacked the village. The massive beast lifted one of the seal skins tents off the ground and threw it across the village. He was about to reach down and grab the mother and young child inside of it when one of the young woman from the village ran up to the Yeti and knelt down before him. The wild-man started at the woman for a second, and as he did so, the monster seemed to calm down. The beast reached down and gently picked the woman up in his hand. The Yeti then turned and began walking back to the valley that he inhabited.
The Quinic waited patiently for the two week period to pass to see if the woman would return alive or if she would die. The entire tribe waited at the edge of the village when the hunters embarked on their journey to retrieve the brave young maiden who had freely given herself to the rampaging Yeti. The villagers cheered with joy when they saw the hunters return with the girl.
The Yeti would continue to return to the village every ten months and each time he would take a woman from the tribe who had offered herself up to him. It seemed as if the pattern continued of the Yeti returning the women who pleased him while the women who displeased him were never seen again. The elders of the tribe urged the woman who offered themselves to the wild-man to stay near the Yeti and to try and please him so that he would return them to their loved ones.
One of hunters shouted snapping Jun-Tuk back to the present. “Look! I see the Yeti, he approaches!”
Jun-Tuk’s heart leapt for joy! In cases where the woman did not return, the Yeti did not bother to leave the valley. Jun-Tuk could see his daughter in the Yeti’s hand but as he looked closer, he could also see a line of red that led down the Yeti’s hand and dripped onto the snow.
The Yeti walked until he was roughly one hundred yards from the hunters where he placed Shunu onto the frozen ground. The Yeti then turned and started walking back toward the mountains. Jun-Tuk ran across the ice to his daughter. He saw that she had a circular puncture wound in her abdomen that was roughly the size of a baseball. Several of the hunters rushed over and they begin to treat the girl’s wound. The lead hunter had managed to stop the bleeding but he turned to Jun-Tuk with a look of remorse on his face. “I have seen wounds like this before inflicted on the men who hunt the tusked walrus. While we have stopped the blood from leaving her body, she is still bleeding inside of her stomach.” He placed his hand on Jun-Tuk’s shoulder. “She will join your ancestors in the spirit world within five days.”
Jun-Tuk’s eyes began to fill with tears. His mind was swirling with anger, fear, despair, and desperation. He could not comprehend what had occurred. Shunu had given herself to the Yeti. How could he allow harm to come to her or to harm her himself? Jun-Tuk had taught his daughter since she was a child to appease and honor the Yeti if she was ever taken by him. A thought entered the old man’s mind and he turned to the hunter. “Take me to the canoes. I will take her to the continent. They will have the medicine to heal her.”
The hunter shook his head. “No, Jun-Tuk. It is forbidden. Do not take her to the continent. To do so would reveal the existence of our tribe to the outside world.”
Jun-Tuk stood and yelled, “She has given herself to the Yeti in order to protect our tribe! She has risked her life to protect all of us! Is it not fair to ask the tribe to put themselves in a small amount of danger to save her now?”
Jun-Tuk picked up his daughter and he began walking in the direction of the canoes. The hunter yelled, “Jun-Tuk, if you attempt to take her to the continent, you will not be allowed to rejoin the tribe! You will be an outcast!” Jun-Tuk did not answer; he simply continued to walk in the direction of the canoes.
A second hunter walked up to the leader of the group. “Should we stop him?”
The leader shook his head. “No. The journey to the continent is nearly impossible for several healthy men. For an old man to make the journey with a dying girl is impossible. We shall return to the tribe. We shall inform the elders that Shunu died a great hero at the hands of the Yeti and the Jun-Tuk died as an outcast.”
The punch connected to her chin and it felt like she had been hit in the jaw with a baseball bat. Gina Murella fell to the ground and landed flat on her back. Her head bounced off the floor hard before it finally came to a rest on the mat. Gina saw lights flashing before her eyes. She blinked several times to try and clear up her blurry vision. She was starting to regain her senses when she felt a heavy weight press down on her chest. Her eyesight cleared just in time to see a gloved fist coming at her face. Her instincts took over and she rolled her face with the punch. The blow still hurt but she had managed to avoid the worst of it. She saw another fist raise into the air and then it stopped. The woman who had been pounding on Gina climbed off her and returned to her corner.
Gina’s husband, Henry, climbed into the cage and helped Gina to her feet. He half-carried her back to her corner where he slumped her down onto a stool. “That’s it, babe, she nearly took your head off with that last punch.”
Gina took out her mouth piece as the bun that her long blonde hair was done in came undone. “No way, I am not stopping. I am finishing this fight.”
Henry pointed at the fighter across the ring. “She’s ten years younger than you and she is a full-time professional fighter! You are a professor of anthropology who trains in MMA to stay in shape.” Henry pointed across the cage, “Look at her. She has at least twenty pounds of muscle on you. She is a freaking Amazon for crying out loud! She is going to hurt you and for what? To prove that you’re tough? To blow off some steam?”
Gina turned to her husband with an utter look of frustration. “We have been down here for nine months and made two trips to Antarctica without finding a single shred of evidence that this reported lost tribe that we have heard about exists. If we don’t find something soon, our funding is going to be pulled and we both may lose our jobs. Maybe it’s time I started looking to switch careers and become a professional fighter.”
Henry shrugged. “Babe, I love you but you are thirty-three. We have careers as college professors. I think that the chances of you making it as a professional cage fighter have passed you by.”
The bell rung. Gina glared at her husband, put her mouth piece in, and walked back out to the center of the cage. She was tired and her hands were low at her sides. She stared circling to her opponent’s right when saw a sudden movement to her left. Gina saw another bright flash of purple and white.
Gina slowly opened her eyes to see a bright white light above her. She heard a muffled sound like a roar. She squinted her eyes several times and multiple shapes started to come into focus which slowly started to take the form of several men. She blinked again and the face of one of the men above her morphed into her husband.
Henry was yelling at her, “Gina, can your hear me?”
She slowly nodded and the slight motion sent a wave of pain rolling through her head.
Gina’s head lolled to the left and she saw the referee holding up her opponent’s hand in victory. The woman climbed on top of the cage and made a gesture to the crowd which indicated that she should be a champion of some kind. She then leapt off the cage and walked toward Gina. Gina could see that the woman was coming over to shake hands in a sign of good sportsmanship. Gina tried to sit up, but as soon as she made the attempt, she immediately slumped back onto the mat.
Henry scooped her up in his arms. “We are getting you to a hospital now!” He carried her out of the arena and to the car they had rented. He gently placed her down in the back of the car and said, “Stay awake! You may have a concussion!”
Gina groaned in reply and then she curled her legs up as Henry sped out of the parking lot. When the car started to move, another wave of pain shot through her head and she groaned both in pain and frustration. She would never admit it to him but Henry was right. What in the hell was she doing fighting in a semi-pro MMA event? She thought back about how she had arrived at this point.
Based on the writings of a few sailors who claimed to have seen canoes off the coast of Antarctica, she had convinced the board of trustee’s at Princeton University to let her lead an expedition to the frozen continent in search of a lost tribe. She told the board that proving the existence of the lost tribe would be the anthropological find of the twenty-first century.
After a lot of debating, and with a good deal of trepidation, the board finally agreed to let Gina and her husband lead an expedition to Antarctica. She understood that her reputation and possible her job were riding on this expedition. She had seen pictures from that the sailors had taken, and by the formation of the canoe and the style of clothing that the people were wearing, she was sure that the tribe existed.
Still, several months of searching for a lost tribe, she had turned up nothing. For several years, Gina had utilized MMA training in order to exercise and relieve stress. As the stress of a failed expedition started to wear on her, Gina increased her training. When she was unable to gain any new leads on the lost tribe, her frustration reached the point that she decided to try engaging in her first official match. As another wave of pain tore through her head and her temple started to throb like a jack rabbit’s heart, she regretted her brash decision to enter the cage. She was a woman in her thirties with multiple advanced degrees and now she was faced with the possibility of spending what little time that her expedition had left sitting in dark hotel room and nursing a concussion.
The car pulled to an abrupt stop in front of the hospital. Henry flung the door open which sent of wall of light pouring into the car. Gina rolled away from the glaring lights causing Henry to have to reach even farther into the car to pull her out. She did not feel as unsteady as she did back at the gym and she was able to walk into the hospital with little help from Henry. She turned to her husband. “Look, I was stupid to get into the cage and my head hurts but I think that I am okay. Can we please just go back to the hotel where I can lay down?”
Henry shook his head. “There is no way that I am letting you fall asleep until I know that you don’t have a concussion. You know that if you go to sleep with a concussion that you could wake up dead.” He smiled at his little joke as he eased her down into a chair in the crowded emergency room.
Gina looked around her at a room full of people who were suffering from all sorts of ailments. Clearly there was some form of gastritis or dysentery going around from the all of the people that were holding bags to vomit in. A good number of people were also coughing profusely and barely covering their mouths. Gina was not one of those people who was terrified of sick people, but she felt that staying in this hospital would do her health more harm than good. She stood up with ease as the effects of the blow to her head continued to subside. She was about to walk over to Henry when an old man wearing a seal skin outfit walked into the hospital carrying a girl who was severely wounded if not already dead. A frantic dock worker was walking behind the old man.
Several nurses ran over to the man. One of them grabbed the girl and rushed her into an operating room. The nurses were asking the old man several questions in Spanish but it was clear that he did not speak the language. Gina watched as the old man turned to the nurse and tried to communicate with her. To Gina’s astonishment, she heard the language of the ancient Incas being spoken by the man. The nurses turned to frantic dock worker who addressed them in Spanish. “He just rowed up to the dock in a canoe. I couldn’t understand what he was saying but as soon as I saw how badly the girl was hurt I immediately drove them here.” Several of the nurses moved the dock worker over the check-in table as the old man continued to try and address the nurses in ancient Incan.
Henry’s head turned to Gina. The two of them were likely the only two people in the hospital who spoke the man’s language. They were both also thinking that based on the man’s clothes and language that he might be a member of the tribe that they were looking for.
Gina ran over and she quickly asked the man in his own language what happened to his daughter. The man replied, “We have been traveling here for nearly three days by canoe from my homeland on the ice. She was taken by the Yeti and when he returned her to us she was badly injured. Please tell these people to save her life!”
Gina nodded and then she began speaking to the nurse, “He has traveled here from Antarctica. His has been traveling for nearly three days. He says that his daughter was attacked by…” Gina stopped for a moment when she realized that the man had said Yeti. In ancient Incan, the term is more like
giant wild man
but his intention was clear. In order to get the young girl help as quickly as possible, she rephrased the man’s statement, “By a large animal.”
The nurse nodded. “With a puncture wound that large and that deep, it must have been a walrus. It is their mating season. If she stumbled across a beach master looking for a female in heat, it may have attacked her.”
The nurse turned and ran back to give the information to the doctors. Gina introduced herself and Henry to the old man. Gina helped the old man over to a seat away from all of the people who were coughing and vomiting. Gina’s body was flush with adrenaline and the effects of her recent knockout had totally subsided. She spoke to Henry in English, “Quick, get him something to eat and drink. He looks nearly dehydrated.”
Henry ran off and Gina talked softly to the old man in ancient Incan,.“My name is Gina Murella and that is my husband Henry Murella. He will get you some food and something to drink.” She placed her hand on the old man’s shoulder. “What is your name?”
The old-man kept his eyes focused on the doors that led to the operating room. “Jun-Tuk.”
Gina smiled. “Look, I want to make sure that your daughter gets as much help as possible. Did you say that a Yeti took your daughter and returned her with that injury?”
Jun-Tuk nodded. “I did. It was a large and powerful Yeti. My daughter offered herself to the Yeti in order that he would protect our village from the demons that live in the valley which is sounded by the mountains of ice.” He took a deep breath. “She put her life in danger to protect my people and they would not risk letting the outside world find out about us in order to try and save her.”
Gina cursed herself for not having a recorder or at least a notebook handy to take down the details of Jun-Tuk’s story. Gina was anxious to try and get more information from the old-man, but despite her enthusiasm she knew that now was not the time to interrogate Jun-Tuk. Jun-Tuk was exhausted, and most importantly concerned with whether his daughter would live or die. Gina forced herself to stop being an anthropologist and to be start being a human. She placed her hand on his shoulder and addressed Jun-Tuk in his own language. “If there is anything that you need or that you need me to tell the doctors, just let me know.”
Jun-Tuk nodded and smiled at Gina. Henry came rushing over with a bottled water and a sandwich that he had gotten from the hospital café. Jun-Tuk drank the water but he only took a few small bites from his sandwich. Hours passed as they waited for news from the doctors about Shunu’s condition. The first rays of dawn had just pierced through the hospital windows when a doctor came out into the waiting room. He walked straight over to Jun-Tuk and Gina.
The doctor looked at Gina. “My nurses tell me that you are able to translate for this man.”
Gina nodded. “Yes doctor.”
The doctor knelt down beside Jun-Tuk. “I am sorry to have to tell you this but your daughter has died.”
Gina’s eyes began to tear up as she tried to form the words to tell Jun-Tuk but he could tell from the look on her face what had happened. The old man screamed, then he fell to the floor in a ball, and cried. Jun-Tuk began screaming even though Gina and Henry were the only people who could understand him. “They could have saved her! Had they only helped us reach the continent or halted the Yeti’s abductions, they could have saved her! Were it not for their superstitions, Shunu would still be alive!”
Gina sat down on the floor next to Jun-Tuk and she cradled him in her arms. Gina barely knew this man but she could only guess at the anguish that he was in. It took a few minutes, but Gina and Henry were finally able to walk Jun-Tuk outside of the hospital. The old man stumbled into a dark corner where he sobbed for nearly a half an hour before he finally walked back over to Gina and Henry. “You speak my language. That means that you are educated. No doubt you are leaders of your people and instruct them with your knowledge.”
Gina took a step closer to him. “Yes, that is exactly what we do. We teach people and we seek to gain new knowledge. Like knowledge about you and your people.”
Jun-Tuk looked off in the direction of the ocean. “For too long, my people have forsaken knowledge in favor of fear and superstition. They have let the Yeti and the demons of the valley rule our lives. This fear has cost my daughter her life and many other young girls their lives as well.” He placed his hand on Gina’s shoulder. “You are a teacher who seeks to gain understanding of my people and their ways. I am a person who sees that my people need to be taught in the ways of the modern world in order to move past their fears. I think that we can both help each other. I will take you to my people so that you may study them, but in order for them to allow you access to the tribe you must first prove that the Yeti is nothing more than a beast. That he and the creatures which inhabit the valley are not gods and demons but that they are simply animals.” Jun-Tuk looked into Gina’s eyes. “I warn you, Dr. Murella, that if you are to agree to attempt this expedition, it will place the lives and the lives of all of the others that you take with you in danger.” The hunter took a deep breath. “After my daughter was taken from me, I did something forbidden. I did what no other man in tribe has done before me. I went into the valley of the Yeti. I was only in there in for a short time but when I was in the valley, I saw beasts of tremendous ferocity and power, but they were beasts not demons. That fact that they are not the spawn of the underworld does not make them any less dangerous. The animals in the valley are as deadly as the Yeti himself. With that knowledge in mind, would you still lead your people into the valley?”