Darkness descends outside the shallow limestone cave.
The creatures inside, more ape than human, have paired onto their mats of mildewed grass and small, leafy branches, laying close to the walls for the minimal reflected warmth it might provide. Sleep will come soon, and the cave is quiet, except for a few snores.
It has been raining for days, and the thatched brown fur that covers the bodies of the beasts is matted, wet, moldy and musky. In and out through the hairs on their skin crawl the tiny biters, the racing fleas, the scurrying lice, the occasional blood-engorged ticks that sometimes serve as snacks for the creatures themselves. Black fingernails claw at hard-to-reach places on their crusted hides.
The smell in the shallow cave is rich with the odors of primitive life. Feces and urine. Wet, moldy fur. Cartilage and gristled meat, rotting on uneaten bones. Hot, gagging animal breath, belched across mossy, yellow teeth. Intestinal gas, escaped warmly through furred, matted orifices. It is perfume to the sleepy beasts residing within, pure “essence de vivre. " It warns, “We're alive in here!" to any other creature that might consider intruding, “Enter and die!"
The fire at the mouth of the cave is smoky, laid with soggy, half-rotten logs, scavenged earlier by the family's “children" from the surrounding wooded hillsides. A greenish-white grub, driven by the increasing heat and smoke, emerges from a mossy hole in the topmost log. Unable to escape, it surrenders itself to the smoke and steam and flame, sizzling like a lump of animal fat. Slowly it cooks, swells, until it's skin splits and the expanding gases escape as greasy steam, squeaking and whistling through the split skin. Finally the grub bursts, popping audibly.
The noises from the cooking larva sound something like a wet, furtive fart, which evokes a timid giggle from one of the females, Grunga, the Leader's primary mate.
It is important to realize that in caveman comedy, timing is everything.
Bogabooga, a secondary male of the tribe, encouraged by Grunga's girly gorrilla giggle, seizes the opportunity for some classic paleolithic humor, unleashing a long, mellow-toned, answering fart, in perfect harmony with the gassy screel from the smoking grub. With no small measure of finesse, Bogabooga pinches it off at the end, squeaking at precisely the same volume and pitch as the gas had done from the steaming grub on the smoldering log. He augments his performance by popping out the last bit of whifferwind in perfect imitation of the exploding worm.
Needless to say, this results in a general hoorah throughout the cave. “Hooga, hooga, hooga! Gruff gruff Grooba! Boga-boga-BOOGA!" The uproarious cheers for Bogabooga's comedic performance are enthusiastic and unanimous.
Well, almost unanimous.
Unfortunately, the melodious, malodorous Wither-Whoopie is released warmly into the nostrils of another male, Frogg, who is positioned directly behind BogaBooga, spooning with his she. The misty wind from BogaBooga's gibbonish behind parts Frogg's hair, and although Frogg might appreciate the excellence of Boga's performance at any other time, tonight he misses the humor altogether, his sensibilities offended. Tonight, in response to the affront from BogaBooga, Frogg farts loudly and wetly, evincing his displeasure in a rude, crude passage of abdominal gas, with no trace of finesse or flair.
In caveclan society, such truculent flatulence is considered undiplomatic at best. It is the only protest Frogg might make, however, for he is a secondary male, smaller than Boga and less intelligent, and somewhat fearful of the larger, dominant male. Bogabooga kicks him in the nose with a crusty foot and passes an insulting little squeaker in his face, conceptually reinforcing the pecking order of the tribe.
Frogg whines a brief apology, but it's too late. The atmosphere has become charged, and a mob mentality has taken over.
Oh yes. It's going to be one of those nights in the old cave tonight. . .
Suddenly, the farting becomes an odoriferous symphony. Beginning over here, another squeaker, this one from Blax. Over there, now, a Wide Open Whoofer from Pruff, impressive for its sheer volume. Two Blasters in a row, one from Gank, followed immediately by another from his she, Ladysarah (probably delivered against Gank's thigh, knowing Sarah. ) From Bogabooga's mate, now, an Imperious Whistler, long and drawn, followed by three Quick Blatherers, short and sweet. A Wispy Whisperer goes largely unheard, but overwhelms the cave with pungency nevertheless, and Drig is the one to blame.
The fire, starved for oxygen, dies out, but no one notices.
The contest becomes riotous, a furious, fearsome, farting frenzy, and it just could get out of hand.
Across the cave near the far wall, Kurp, a large male and the recognized champion of the BruteFart (tm) suddenly twists his hairy, fecal-encrusted pelvis from his sleeping mat, throwing his legs over his head, planting both feet firmly against the wall. The entire family sees what's coming. They've been here before, and begin gurgling and grunting in feigned, good-natured protest, which soon turns to something more akin to caveman cheerleading.
"Brogga. . . Brogga. . . BROGGA! GOGG! Brogga. . . Brogga. . . BROGGA! GOGG!" The chant is taken up cavewide, softening into a low, animated murmur, two dozen groady voices blending as one, gathering pace, “Brogga, brogga, brogga, brogga, brogga. . . "
Kurp, encouraged, adjusts the position of his feet against the wall. He places his huge hairy hands on his scruffy kneecaps, lifts his bony rear off the mat and into the air, to achieve maximum volume (and volume) for the imminent passage of redolent caveman goofygas. Kurp strains, eyeballs bulging, blue veins standing out on his slanted forehead. For long seconds, nothing happens. The clan, not chanting now, holds its breath, anticipating. A drop of stinking yellow monkeyman sweat beads above Kurp's eye, then courses down his filthy cheek to mingle with the drool and crusted snot beneath his nose and on his chin - this is going to be one for the record books, and the whole clan knows it.
As Kurp gets close, closer, and closer, the crowd goes wild. Gnarly fists pound the dirt floor. Hooting grunts, amplified by the limestone, emit from the mouth of the cave and echo through the dark, surrounding hills, startling the wildlife into quiet.
Gathering all his force for the final push, Kurp opens his mouth wide, as if to allow the wind of life to pass entirely through him, end to end. What happens next is not what anyone expects.
Instead of the gassy blast for which the whole family is waiting, Kurp spills his insides all over the cave wall. Spattered in fecal fury, here, there, everywhere, are the remains of his past several dinners. The bugs and grubs. The raw meat. And most of all, the berries. The berries. Those fucking, damn, purple, sour-tasting berries, now splashed across the cavewall in a reeking, purple, monkeyshit mural.
"Sorry gang. Them berries musta gimme the shits, " he apologizes, which is not so much a sincere apology as an offhanded “grunga doon cooga. "
He removes his feet from the cavewall, admires his violet achievement for a brief, whimsical moment, sighs, then rolls over and goes to sleep. The rest of the family, disappointed, soon follows suit.
All is quiet in the cave, except for a few snores. The air, tinged a delicate green, hangs damp and heavy across the cave.
One hundred thousand years later, scientists from all over the world gather to examine mysterious paintings on the wall of a cave, high up on the side of a hill.
"This is one for the record books, " the bespectacled leader of the scientific group points out, outlining a shape on the cavewall with the tip of his forefinger for the benfit of the team's younger members.
"This purple one is a horse, no doubt about it, " he sniffs officiously, with a scholarly confidence born of vast scientific experience.
Ted Thompson firstname.lastname@example.org
Ted Thompson is a freelance writer (available for hire) living in Harrison, Arkansas. More of his works can be seen at his website http://www.phfft.com