“Utu!” Zela yelled into the cave, “Did you take out the carcass yet?”
“Huh?” Utu shouted.
“Do not grunt at me, mister,” Zela said. “Come out here!”
A young man with acne and animal hides a size too small trudged out of the cave.
“What’s up, Mom?”
“The carcass? I really shouldn’t have to ask twice.”
“Sorry,” he grumbled. He ducked back into the cave, and emerged with the decimated remains of a large bird.
“You can toss it behind the house,” Zela said, beating wet hides against a rock. “Pick-up’s in the morning.”
Utu dropped the carcass and turned back for the cave. Very suddenly, he stopped in his tracks and raised his eyebrows in surprise.
“What?” Zela said, not looking up from her work.
“I feel like I’ve done this before.”
Zela snorted. “That makes one of us.”
“No, not the carcass,” Utu replied, massaging his temples. “Like I’ve done this before. Exactly this. You right there, in that spot. Me standing here, in this spot. Do you know what I mean?”
“I do not, Utu. Neither does your father. Neither does this entire clan, in fact. Now go fetch us some water, the men should be back with the food soon.”
Utu shook his head, confused, and walked down the path from their cave. But instead of taking a left, towards the brook, he headed right, to Hito’s cave. Hito was in the back corner, sketching, when Utu walked in.
“What’s good, Big H?” They dapped each other up. Hito was massive, the size of two grown men, but only a year older than Utu.
“Just working, man. How’s she look?”
It was. Hito had been working on his magnum opus, “Neanderthalia,” for almost a year, and it stretched almost 12 feet across one wall of the cave, with variant images of the clan fighting, eating, dancing and making love.
“Thanks, amigo.” Hito dropped his rock to the ground and turned to face Utu. “What’s new with you?”
“I don’t know. My mom’s been all over me, for starters.”
“Been there!” Hito boomed, gesturing to his art. “My pops, too.”
“My dad says it’s our generation,” Utu recalled. “That we’re lazy. He says it only snowed when they were all our age.”
“Our parents are full of it,” Hito replied. “That’s why I’m getting out of here. A talent scout from Mesopotamia is coming here next month. If he likes my work, there’s a chance I could go there for art school on a full scholarship.”
“Holy shit, Hito. That would be amazing.”
“You should come with.”
“I can’t. My first hunt is next month.”
“You’re no hunter, Utu.”
Utu frowned. “How do you know?”
“Because you’re like me. Doesn’t matter how big you get, how much bigger I get,” he said. “We’re thinkers. We like to relax. Speaking of…. “ Hito rummaged under a large rock in the corner and pulled out a fistful of green leaves.
“No way!” Utu looked furtively back at the entrance to the cave. “Where’d you get that?”
“I got a guy. You chew it,” he said, popping some into his mouth.
Fifteen minutes later, Utu and Hito lay on the top of the cave, watching the sun duck behind the hills.
“Ah, man, I feel it now,” Utu said. They both laughed. “How far away do you think the sun is?”
“I don’t know. There’s a land close to it, though. With beautiful girls and fruit the size of boulders. Or maybe it was beautiful fruit and girls the size of boulders. Either way, that’s where I’m going to die one day.”
“You’re nuts, Big H.”
“Hey look, it’s the men,” Hito pointed to the hunters riding in in the distance. The boys both looked for their fathers within the ranks. Hito shook his head suddenly, and raised his eyebrows in surprise. “That’s weird,” he muttered.
“What?” Utu said, looking at his friend.
“It’s hard to describe. I feel somehow like we’ve done this before.”
“Wait. What do you mean?” Utu said, scrambling into a sitting position.
“Like, we’ve sat here and experienced this before. This spot, this time of day, everything. But I have no memory of that. Am I making any sense at all?”
“I literally felt this earlier today. It hits you and then disappears, all without explanation.”
“Freaky, man. Let’s document it.”
Back in the cave, Hito sketched out two young men on the roof of a cave watching a sunset.
“That’s good,” Utu said. “What should we call it? The feeling we had.”
Hito’s dad entered the cave and dropped a dead deer on the floor.
Hito’s dad grunted at his son and began relieving himself in the doorway.
“Maybe… let’s let a more elegant civilization name it?” Utu suggested.
“Works for me,” Hito replied. “Night, man.”
“Good night, Hito.”