The Caveman

New York stands like Anthills
A testament to the Gods
The Gods named Rockefeller and Jill
The Gods named Chrysler and Bob
That set stars afire on earth
And to a golden age gave birth

He saw the bread sitting there, as it always was, when he crawled out of his cave as night fell.

In the cave, he slept naked all day in retreat from the heat of the sun. The trees parted in a circle before the cave. In the circle there was always one thing throughout the day: a boulder gray like iron and standing as if untouched by the dust beneath it.  Thrice a day on the boulder there was a loaf of bread.  It came in the morning with the rise of the sun, at noon with its height, and as the sun hit the horizon, bread could be found on the rock.

He moved to the rock and grabbed the bread, careful to avoid the sharp edges of the rock.  It was warm, always warm, never hot. He tore it apart and stuffed it into his mouth.  Rabidly he chewed and swallowed every morsel of the bread, careful to let nothing fall to the ground and be despoiled. None fell this night and his stomach was filled.

He curled down beside the rock.  He dared not touch it so as not to break his skin on its razored edges.  The ground was warm from the heat of the sun and the moss made it soft and odorous.

He looked to the stars and they filled him with terror burning bright amidst darkness.  They were forever beyond his reach and always watching.  They were always brighter than he and always higher.  He squirmed closer to the earth and tasted dust.  Slowly, his squirming brought him into the thick of the forest.  Here he could not see the stars but he could hear the wolves howling at the unseen moon and he felt safe.

When the sun’s light powered through the treetops and onto his face, the man awoke with a startle.  The light pained his eyes and he closed them to guard himself from sight.  By memory and smell he found his way back to the rock.  Without opening his eyes he reached for the bread that he knew was there.  His life’s blood was spilled from his hands onto the lifeless stone yet he did not open his eyes.  He reached downward and across the stone, leaving a trail of blood, until he found the bread he sought.  He tore it to pieces and consumed them all though they were wet with the gravy of his blood.

The sun beat on his skin and he cowered and ran.  Stumbling he remembered the steps to his cave and lay down inside it feeling the cool stone beneath him.

As noontime came, he saw bread on the rock outside the cave.  His stomach grumbled but he did not get the bread.  He waited as his stomach grew louder and louder.  He waited as long as he could until he finally creeped out of the cave again.  He cast his head down and walked to the rock.  Deft in muscle memory, he seized the bread and proceeded to devour it.  When he had his fill he turned back to the cave.  In the cave was a loaf of bread.

He did not understand.  Never had bread been in the cave.  Bread had always been on the stone.  He felt hunger but it was weak next to a greater feeling.  He felt fear.  He looked at the bread in the cave and horror overtook him.

He ran away from the cave.  He ran towards foxes and wolves and the wild of the forest.  He ran and he stumbled.  He followed no path but a feeling.  The feeling that far behind him was a terrible loaf that he must not see.  So he ran away from wherever he thought the loaf to be.

As the sun slowly descended and evening began, he saw great stones rising high in the distance.  They had skin that shined brighter than that of the bread stone.  And amidst the skin was crystal square patterned across its tall face.  Hundreds, of differing sizes rose from the ground.  One was very near and it did not have it’s skin yet.  Inside it were people.  They were putting the skin on the giant rock.  They were making the giant rocks.  He did not know what this meant but he knew this was the most fearful thing of all.

And so he ran and he ran deep into the darkness of the night until he happened across the bread stone and the cave.  Though night had fallen, no bread had been left on the stone and the bread in the cave had not yet left.  He took no matter with this.  He looked up at the stars and thought of the stars he had seen in amongst the giant rocks that were made by people.  Those stars were even brighter and they shined still in day.  He knew they were terrible and that they were with him even here.  They were in his head.

He cast his head against the bread rock and for the last time his life’s blood spilled on it as his body fell never to arise.

  • Stephen Allen

    The wages of dependance is fear and death