Everyone at the Grunka Gathering was in good spirits, except Thag.
Every fifth or sixth summer, depending on the position of the stars, all of the Grunka clans would gather and share their stories, swap items (sometimes mates too) and have a bit of a prehistoric party.
It was a grand affair, and luckily for Thag’s tribe, the Thunka Grunkas, they only had to travel five or six days to join in the festivities.
But Thag was not having as much fun as he hoped. First of all, nobody was willing to swap for Onga, despite her beauty and physical charms. Her affair with the Thunka Grunka shaman, Weasel-Scratch-Face-Brother, had become somewhat of a Grunka legend, and nobody wanted that kind of trouble. (Even though there were lots of mates willing to be swapped to Thag, despite his lack of physical beauty and charm. His cleverness as a hunter, and even more importantly, as an avant-garde cave painter was also something of a legend.)
Worse than all of this though, was the new respect shamans had for Weasel-Scratch-Face Brother. They were all quite taken with the idea that there were supernatural beings who controlled the element, and that only they had the magic to communicate with them. In fact, they had spent most of the Gathering eating mushrooms that made them act quite strange, and coming up with a list of these new “gods”.
Thag had taken to heckling them during these psychedelic meetings.
“Where god? Thag see no god. Show Thag god!” he demanded. Eventually the shamans had had enough and the Grunka elders told Thag to desist.
Then the Drunka Grunkas arrived to the Gathering with a new invention they were very excited about sharing with the clan.
“What be?” Thag asked his colleague, the leader of the hunters from the Drunka tribe, Barga.
“We drop barley in water, let sit sun. Good. Try. Make you feel all squiffy.”
Thag took the proffered skin, filled with this new drink Barga and his tribe had invented. It WAS good. A bit bitter, but there was something nice about it. And what was that delightful feeling in his head?
Suddenly, the shamans and their invisible gods didn’t seem so important.
“You show Thag how make? What called?” he asked Barga.
Barga nodded. “We show all Grunkas how make. We call beer.”
Barley and blue sky by neilalderny123. More things that will make you feel squiffy can be found at Alltop. Originally published in 2006.