Conquering the Conquered
After witnessing the red Indians cleanse their old blood feuds by running all the ape-men off the cliff, we looked to their village, which was torn apart by the Indians' righteous anger.
The air was dank and thick with the smell of blood, as well as the usual dirty smell that I associated with the ape-men. The entire ground level was strewn with bodies. The carnage was unbelievable. Mangled corpses of both ape-man and human lay strewn on the ground. Corpses of the Indians were by far the most gruesome though, their faces and bodies bludgeoned by the ape-men's cruel fists. Vicious marks with sickly purple-colored centers covered their bodies. Some bodies had no marks other than heads twisted around or rough red marks circling the neck. The ape-men were covered with thousands of stab marks, and their faces were still full of hatred even in death. Summerlee took on a rather nasty green color, as he smelled the stench. Roxton lead a small party of hardy Indians to venture into the woods and find any remaining ape-men warriors. The Flail of the Lord was going back to work, doing what he did best. The stern, imposing look on his heroic face as he marched out into the unknown was the stuff of legends. The Indians looked to him with such admiration and trust that they boldly followed him with no signs of fear. He turned and waved at us as they entered the woods to flush them clean of any remaining ape-men.
There was some discussion as to what to do with the females and children. The consensus among the Indians was to throw them off the cliff to join their male brethren. They pushed and prodded with their spears to get the apes to jump off like the males did, but Challenger would have none of it. "I would wish to study the new species for a while, they may contain clues as to our own evolution. Despite the fact that they were dirty, repulsive beasts, we would not want to exterminate them until we have studied and documented them," he said as well as acted out for the Indians.
Summerlee wiped his mouth: "I am inclined to agree with Professor Challenger in this case. We have no immediate danger from these ape-people now that we have conquered and subdued their population. These living specimens of evolution are not to be wasted. I would suggest taking a corpse with us. Perhaps that chief if we can find him."
Challenger turned bright red when this was mentioned. "We shall do nothing of the kind! Taking a regular male specimen would be more beneficial, because that would be more representative of the general population."
There was no mention of the striking similarities between Challenger and the chief, and the mockery that would assail him once the scientific community saw it.
Challenger's huge voice cut in: "All right, let's get the prisoners," by which he meant the captured and soon to be enslaved ape-women and children, "separate the adults and the children, and the children according to their ages."
"I cannot wait until we study the ape-children in the adolescent stages. Perhaps we should divide the children into male and female groups as well, Challenger? In that format, we can see how the ape-people develop into full adults better," Summerlee said, lighting up his ever-present pipe again.
"Let me tell you of my latest hypothesis surrounding this...."
As the two scientists discussed their theories as well as overseeing the segregation of the conquered ape-people, a great clamor arose from the woods. It was a primal sound, more like many beasts returning from a great hunt rather than a man. I quickly grabbed my rifle and reloaded it in anticipation of a vicious attack from a new and very angry group of ape-men. As the great sound got closer, I found that it was more akin to a rowdy bar song than a primal roar. But I did not truly relax until I saw Roxton lightly march in with his Indian gang behind him, carrying ape-heads and singing one of the more unseemly songs sailors sing in bars when intoxicated.
As Roxton saw me, he approached me and smiled. He held up a grisly head of an ape-man. Its face was glued in a horrible face, with eyes and mouth opened wide, as if it was still screaming beyond its painful death. The Indians also held similar trophies: mostly arms, hands, and scalps.
"This one put up a rather good fight," Roxton said, studying it critically, "If I didn't look up at the right time, it would be holding my head as a trophy. Shot it right in the gut, cleanest shot you'd ever see. Once I had my gun pointed at him, he seemed to hesitate, as if to say, 'I'm already a dead ape,' and then it leapt down, its mouth and hands aiming for me. Good thing I have a steady hand, or I would have never shot it out of the air like that. Hit the ground like a sack of soggy potatoes." The great hunter then put the head in a sack, and carried it over his shoulder. He raised his fist in a gesture of triumph, and the Indians started cheering immediately.
Meanwhile, a horrible din erupted from somewhere behind us. It resembled a combination of a woman's horrible agony and a baby's cry. Both Roxton and I turned around quickly to see what it was, preparing for anything. We grabbed our guns with sweaty palms, anticipating some sort of new dinosaur, so perplexed with this new sound were Roxton and I.
We saw the ape-women and children screaming, as they were separated from each other. Those that resisted too much were beaten into unconsciousness, and dragged over to their designated spot by Indians. The Indians' eyes were open with glee, and took great joy in beating the ape-people. The ape-people's eyes were still filled with great malice and hatred as they were pushed and prodded by both the Indians' shouts and spears. The children were especially rowdy, and actually attacked the Indians at times, which caused many of them to be severely beaten and, in some extreme cases, killed. The hatred in their eyes was much more intense than those of the adults, and I pondered whether these infants were born from the womb hating humans from the start. But there were some that noticed Challenger, and so passively accepted the treatment, probably thinking that Challenger was their new chief. Why they would think this after they saw Challenger mow down their men with his rifle I do not know. Perhaps they were desperate to look for something to lead them. Perhaps they weren't very intelligent. But whatever the reason, it made the separation process run that much smoother.
Roxton looked at the unsavory scene and shook his head. "What a shame we can't just kill them all."
"Why not?" I asked. "They seem to have dedicated their lives to our destruction."
Roxton sighed and kicked a small stick with a little dinosaur skull on it, "All that's left are the women and children. Who are we to call ourselves human and gentlemen if we killed the innocent and defenseless? Are we animals? We are men, not butchers."
I nodded and absent-mindedly kicked an ape-man's decapitated head. It rolled around erratically then rested in a pool of blood. I noticed that the whole village was covered with blood. Blood from the ape-men as well as from the brave Indians who victoriously fought them. Strangely, this scene of carnage led me to think of home, with its paved streets and buildings. I missed it all; I longed to be free of this prison of trees, giant lizards, and hideous ape-men. I was tired of it all, McArdle, tired of constantly being on my guard for animals that wanted eat me. Tired of eating canned rations all the time. I wanted to roam the streets of London again, to eat food that did not come out of a tin can. To take a nice, hot shower and wear clean clothes sounded like heaven. Everything around me looked like the deepest pit of a green, jungle hell. But for my lady I gladly endured it all.
"Now see here, Challenger," Summerlee said, holding up a squirming ape-child. "Notice that the enlarged canines haven't grown yet. Without the canines, they are unable to tear meat off the bone, which is their accustomed way of eating. Because they don't have the canines in infancy, I would suggest that the ape-children eat plants, and then grow into eating meat."
"They don't have the stubby teeth required to eat plants," Challenger drawled, sticking a twig into the struggling child's mouth. The child squealed and then bit down viciously on the twig. Challenger removed the twig and pointed to the bite marks. "Look at the small points on it, complete evidence that these babies aren't plant-eaters, but primarily carnivores. Notice the small pieces of crockery lying about; mothers probably prepared barbaric dishes for their children, so they didn't need to tear the meat themselves."
Summerlee shuddered, "These ape-people have such similarities with mankind that it sickens me."
"That I do not disagree with, Professor."
There was a screeching coming from the woods, much like a whole flock of sparrows coming towards us. Roxton and I prepared for the worst, while the Indians didn't seem to care at all. From the Indians' reaction, we deduced that there was no threat and so waited for what was about to come. The Indians slowly started a soft song, a chant almost, sounding very much like an elegy. Roxton raised a critical eyebrow, while Summerlee and Challenger began another argument about what this ceremony may signify.
A large group of small dinosaurs rushed in. All of them were twins of each other, a bright green, with a yellow underbelly. They varied in height, some only the size of small chickens, some reaching as high as my knee. Watching them all rush in resembled a huge river of green water flowing into the battleground. Once the river hit the carnage, they began devouring the bodies, picking the flesh clean from the bones. When they ran over our own feet, they didn't bite at them at all. It was as if they knew that the flesh attached to our own bones was still living. The Indians, with their bare feet, looked like they enjoyed the sensation of the dinosaurs' little feet running across their own. The soft song that they were singing gained volume, and the Indians began to dance wildly across the scene. Meanwhile the river of scavenger lizards continued their feast, going so far and to lap up the pools of blood accumulating from the dead bodies. When the ground level of the Ape-Town was completely covered in a green carpet of lizards feasting on the dead, the Indians' dance and song reached its climax. The song gained a fanatical edge, and the Indians were practically beating their chests with balled fists. Sounds of the lizards feasting also reached a feverish pitch, going along musically with the song and dance. Their tongues must have been rather rough, for the bones they left behind were smooth and white, as if they were professionally polished by the best in England.
Roxton frowned and shook his head. "You'd think that they would give their dead some sort of decent burial. What kind of land is this where the people would celebrate their dead being eaten by carnivorous scavengers? No wonder these savages were under the heel of these ape-men."
"If we didn't come along I think the savages would be in this horrible war for generations and generations to come," I said, agreeing. "We brought the knowledge of the enlightened world to them, and saved their race certain doom."
"That's the spirit!" Roxton exclaimed, slapping me on the back, "Always remember to help those who are smaller than you are. When you see those who are ignorant and weak, always protect them from those who would take advantage of them. We have done the Lord's work today, Malone, be proud."
The sea of lizards slowly ebbed away, leaving nothing but bleached white bones behind. The infernal buzzing sound the lizards emitted also faded away into the dark jungle. The Indians' jovial mood went away with the lizards, and there was a somber mood about the area as they wandered around and picked up the bones of their people. They left the ape-men's bones on the ground, even going so far as to spit on or kick them.
"Amazing," Challenger said, making sure he didn't inadvertently step on anything, lest he break something with his stout feet. "This seems to be some sort of barbaric funeral celebration."
"I'm inclined to agree Professor," Summerlee said, taking disdain at the small creatures. "The smell of the blood that resulted from this battle seem to have attracted that unsavory gang of scavengers. The fact that those scavengers didn't eat our live feet also surprised me. Maybe they noticed the bodily warmth that emanated from our feet."
"Or maybe they new were would step on them like demi-gods if they dared nibble!" Challenger said with a loud barking laugh.
Summerlee grinned, "That would be a way of putting it."
"Well, considering that the Indians aren't collecting the bones of the ape-men, let us see if we can put together a complete skeleton of one, that'll show that cocky bunch of ripe nitwits back home!" Challenger took a particular glee in imagining the faces of his colleagues, "Come, my dear Summerlee, let's start collecting."
The two distinguished professors then dived straight into piles of bones, like children happily playing in a sandbox. The Indians looked at the two with disdain, but said nothing, seeing as the two men saved their people from many more years of strife with the ape-men.
The ape-women and children, in the meantime, were putting up a horrible protest over the transpiring events, and strained to go past both the Indians' spears and the watchful eyes of Roxton and me. Their hateful eyes glared at us with malice and murder. And some even screamed out at us in their guttural language. Suddenly the line of Indian guards broke and the ape-people went out, viciously ripping apart a few hapless Indians. The Indians rallied but couldn't withstand the sheer number of the vicious ape-women and children. Challenger and Summerlee did not have their rifles within easy reach, because they were rummaging through the bones. Unfortunately, they became the newly resurgent ape-army's primary targets. The Indians saw this and made valiant attempts to stop the mad charge, but were always beaten back by the fanatical apes.
Roxton and I were the professors' only hope. We both fired round after round into the fast-moving mass on angry apes. Challenger and Summerlee ran towards us with their heads low, to make more room for Roxton and me to shoot. The apes we hit died instantly, and we caused a great amount of death, but the apes kept on coming, like a plague with no cure. Finally, the Indians came in a sizeable force, and with our cover fire, managed to halt the sudden rebellion.
"They can scream all they want," Roxton said, "but they're not getting free, I swear it. These abominations to nature shall pay for every drop of human blood they spilled. I don't mind if they start getting riled up again: more reasons to shoot them, I'll say."
Many hours passed by, and the ape-people didn't try and rebel once more. This gave ample time for Challenger and Summerlee to conduct their exhaustive study of the apes. They studied practically everything, from the children's play habits to actually slicing open a corpse's stomach to see what the dietary habits were. The Indians always kept a stoic vigil on their large captive population, not wanting to lose more of their own number to another uprising. Roxton and I re-visited our old home base, and collected more ammunition and other survival tools. The whole camp was in disarray; everything was scattered about the ground. From the huge footprints around, and the huge claw marks in the tree, we assumed the large carnivorous beast that we had seen twice already made this.
"I wish that beast were right here now, so I could test my skills against it," Roxton said wistfully. "It would have been a grand fight. I wouldn't use my rifle unless I had a good shot at its eye -- a shotgun would be more effective. Could probably blow its blasted leg clean off. Let's see that thing try to eat me with one leg!"
We then both left to return to Challenger and Summerlee and leave for the Indian village, where we would see how our own race fared in this exotic and foreign world.