Thag whistled while he packed for the next trip. He liked to organize short hunting expeditions for a certain week of the month — even if there was little chance of finding game — as it was a good idea to be away from the women-folk of the Thunka Grunka Clan during this specific week.
This made Thag extremely popular amongst the other hunters (that and his steady, sure hunting leadership), but it made him extremely unpopular with the men-folk who were too old or too young to take part in the hunt.
In particular, the shaman, Weasel-Scratch-Face-Brother, did not like this practice. He knew what it was all about. Certain of the women folk tended to be a bit . . . sensitive and critical . . . during this week. Thag’s mate, Onga, was one of the women who seemed more afflicted by this phenomenon. And when Thag was not around to do her bidding, Weasel became the defacto mate. (As he did for many of the women in the clan while their actual mates were away.)
“Ah, Thag, there you are,” Weasel-Scratch-Face-Brother said as he came into Thag and Onga’s section of the cave. “I have some ill news for you.”
“What is that?” Thag said. He did not like the shaman, who was always trying to couple with his mate.
“There are bad omens. I fear you will be unable to go hunting this week.”
Thag thought for a moment. This was a direct challenge to his position as the leader of the hunters. It was not the shaman’s place to tell them when to go hunting, though he was traditionally consulted. On the other hand, if Weasel said there were bad omens, then the more superstitious hunters would not want to leave.
“Thag!” Onga shouted at him from the cave entrance. “Get over here!”
“I’m sorry there bad omens, Weasel-Scratch-Face-Brother, but not your place to force us stay. We take care, but we go,” Thag said. There. Decision made.
A few other women started shouting at their mates. It was beginning. Thag couldn’t figure out why it affected some, while leaving others untouched. It was a mystery.
That almost all the hunters left on the trip with him was not a mystery; bad omens just didn’t compare with a cave full of cranky women.
Modern-era scientific musings that the brain ‘buffer’ may control premenstrual moods. More nervous hunters and ranting gatherers here.
Originally published 2005.