Short stories

The Origins of Stonehenge

Stonehenge centenary

Chips had only just got to his work-hut and sat down on his stool when Shoman turned up walking backwards as usual, his feathered headdress dancing gaily in the bright sunlight, the scanty rabbit-skin loin-cloth above long, tanned legs and knee-high fur leggings, necklaces of polished stones and ex-predator teeth, wide white smile and laughing, wily eyes.

“Whassup Chips,” he greeted merrily. “How’s it going?”

“Fine till you showed up,” grinned Chips wryly.

“I was thinking maybe you might be able to help out with a recurrent dream I’ve been having.” Chips, having been caught up in some of Shoman’s other ideas is a bit wary. “What is it you’ve seen this time?”

“Well, I was thinking that Shortnight isn’t far off and for this year’s festivities we could get some stones, maybe different sizes, that would mark the position of the sun on that particular day more permanently than the sticks we have to source every year.”

Chips rubbed his chin before he replied. “…well, I did think it was a bit daft to have to find new sticks every year for the event and then burn them like we usually do. I’d thought about having some special, permanent, stronger poles but then we’d have to keep them apart from the other firewood, I dunno, keep them safe I mean, relics. So they didn’t get used because somebody needed them to fix up their hut or something.”

Chips looked off into the distance. “Maybe we could get ambitious, maybe use tree trunks even, but they would be well, you know, permanent, you know? We wouldn’t have an excuse to have all that build-up, the pre-rave if you know what I mean.”

“Yes, it would be a shame to miss out on the preparations,” continued Shoman, “and I know it would mean a lot more work, but we could turn that itself into an event of some sort and the stones wouldn’t get burnt even if we had a fire in the middle and if they’re too big to move easily nobody will touch them. And we can get a lot more people involved in the whole thing, maybe those mountain folk that turned up last year. I bet they know where we could get some decent stones.”

“They’d have to be the right sort of stones, special stones, big ones,” said Chips, “and to get them here would take some organising.”

Chips picked up a fresh flint from the pile to his left and reached for the antler chipping tool. Shoman squatted down on his haunches, hands cupping his chin. Chips tossed and caught the stone to feel its weight. He glanced sideways back at Shoman, whose lips were pursed, his nose wrinkled.

“Count me in.” said Chips. 

From “Monday Morning at the Pearly Gates” 2019

Photo credits: Shropshire Star Oct 26, 2018

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Short stories

Multi-tasking in the stone age

Chipper came out of the grain hut rufstone-age-685x368fling his red hair pleased with himself and was about to turn down the track to his workshop when he spotted his wife’s mother peeking at him from behind a bush. She whisked the branches back to hide her face but she knew it was too late and that he’d seen her and that he had begun shuffling over towards her, and in her mind she quickly went over the routine she’d thought up should she be beheld.

“Oh there you are, Chips, I was looking for you, you left your lunchpack at the man-hole,” her delivery a smooth, flowing, light-as-a-feather bravado.

Chips glanced unwittingly at the hut he’d just left and could still taste the mutton and flat-cake not to mention Martha’s ruby-red lips. Rumbling sullenly, he bought time.

“Oh, erm…didn’t I say I’d be back for lunch today? I thought I told you.”

“Well…er…yes, perhaps you did, dear. Silly me, you know what my memory’s getting like these days,” blustered Carla, her lower jaw sagging slightly, relieved now of its practised obligations.

Chipper muttered a surly thanks as he took the proffered leaf-bound package and limped off to his flints. The orders had been coming in thick and fast since he had sneakily copied the Tangan’s wrist action allowing him to flake deft, light, exquisite blades shaped just right to bind securely to arrow- and spear-shafts. He wished the hunters wouldn’t lose them though, it seemed a lack of respect for his talent even if they did pat him on the back and chortle to each other in mindless merriment. Of course he could make more but the new technique meant he was more likely to hit his fingers and eventually he might have to give the bruised digits a rest. Maybe he should get the gossipping Carla to spread the rumour that truly sharp arrow-tips could only be made when the moon was waning rather than when the hunters might be away at night. Why not deliberately make shoddy ones when it was waxing and insist that it wasn’t worth making them unless the lunar conditions were right? He’d only been getting the technique consistent over the past few days so nobody would be any the wiser. The rest of the time he could get back to churning out bog-standard axe-heads, or just hang around the village when the hunters were away. He’d have to check out the wanderers in the night sky too, like he had had to do to explain the preponderance of ginger-haired kids in the village. Even Martha’s heavy-browed man-child had a russet tint to the dark, curly locks over his mother’s flattened forehead and bulbous nose.