I don’t know what to make of this one. It consists of two tenuously linked scenes. The first was a university that, to my knowledge does not actually exist anywhere. I’ve been here in many dreams over the years, I am unsure of the significance. Lots of green and blue wood paneling but most of it is just concrete, like the elevated stairwells and walkways.
It has that cozy, nerdy academic feeling if you know what I mean. Shelves of interesting books, storage rooms full of disused lab equipment and so on. I was attending something like an after-class talk with the professor which a few classmates also showed up to.
The professor went off on this long tangent that lost our interests. I got my phone out and played some sort of video for the other students of cartoonish animal characters made out of untextured polygons on a wireframe grid, throwing a ball of energy to each other like hot potato until it exploded in the penguin’s hands, killing him.
Anyway the professor was going on about early hominids fighting for territory and resources. Somehow, without any clear transition that would explain how we got there, the other students and I were cave men. We were part of an assault on a primitive fortress made from tied together logs and huge stone slabs.
It was held by hominids much less human-like than us, which didn’t even walk upright. They looked more or less like chimps. I kept saying how ridiculous it was that they had such a well made fortress when they had less developed brains than ours. Nobody knew how they got ahold of it, if they built it themselves or what.
I think the assumption is that they must have stolen it from cave people like us and killed them. We were fighting to re-take it, and needed a new home for our people anyway. But the traps were so clever and kept killing us off by the dozens! For example when we busted in the main gate, there was a long, wide ramp.
As we ascended the ramp, a load of logs was released from the top. They rolled rapidly down, crushing many of our soldiers. I was exasperated. “How are they beating us? They’re just monkeys!” Only it kept happening. Every time we thought we were about to get the upper hand, it was another clever trap.
I think the meaning of this was a cautionary tale against underestimating adversaries, or believing victory is guaranteed because of this or that. Anything can happen. Reality does not ask your permission, it just happens. We adapt to reality, not the other way around.
They kept shooting arrows and slinging stones from these wooden guard towers, so we used the logs they rolled at us, propped up against the towers, to climb up them and beat the shit out of the monkeys in them. Everything they used against us, we found our own use for.
For a while it seemed like the tide would turn. We held most of the base and had the chimps on the run. But then they set fire to it. None of us thought they would do that. It killed even more of our people, leaving around ten out of an initial group of over a hundred.
It just never occurred to us they would go that far, or be that underhanded. In retrospect it may have been that we were neandertals fighting early homo sapiens. The fortress burned to the ground. The only things we could scavenge from it were whatever food we could carry and a few furs we threw on our backs as we made our escape.
Our war party at least did not return to the tribe empty handed, but it was humiliating to tell them that we lost to monkeys and how well prepared they were for our assault. Even though they lost their fortress, we nearly all died in the process of taking it.
It was resolved that the monkeys were a more serious threat than we thought, and that future dealings with them would begin with diplomacy instead of skipping straight to the siege. I still couldn’t accept the outcome though. I began drawing pictures of their traps.
I thought we should at least learn from their methods, and possibly improve upon them. We didn’t have to just accept what happened without making plans to come at them with new strategies next time and armored forts of our own. I was drawing shit that looked like the Flintstones version of tanks and pillboxes.
I showed them to the chief but he said it was all just novelties and tricks, that war does not need to be complicated, we just needed more men. Stronger men, and the element of surprise. He was very convinced of this and because I pressed the matter, he had my drawings burnt.
I wondered if I should just give up and go work for the monkeys (apes technically, I’m aware, don’t go off on me for that in the comments please haha) but ultimately I couldn’t stomach the idea. Maybe the monkeys won because they do a better job of recognizing useful contributions from their members?
Maybe they just organize better, and had a longer time to devise defenses? Or maybe we were wrong to begin with and how they look is unconnected to how intelligent they are. It was a huge leap for me, but I worried I would only appear more foolish than ever if I said any of this to the others.
I knew I couldn’t survive on my own, but I also couldn’t stand to stay here. Nobody wanted to change how things were done, even when it resulted in defeat. I could not longer bear to be a part of such a dysfunctional machine. So I built a wheeled cart based on one I’d seen in the monkey fort.
I loaded it with furs, a tent, cured meat, some tools and a bow. I then left the tribe entirely, not knowing what to expect, but believing I probably was headed for my own premature death. I woke up feeling melancholy but hopeful at the same time, in equal measure.
Follow me for more like this! And why not read one of my stories?