In my writing this morning, I found myself musing: I wonder if cavemen got depressed?
So… this happened.
(For some reason I imagined the cavemen with British accents. Probably all the Good Omens and Ricky Gervais comedy specials I’ve been watching.)
Int. a dingy, shallow cave. A few unwashed loincloths litter the floor. DAG sits staring into the ashes of a fire that burned out several hours ago at the very least. THOP enters, his shadow stretching long across DAG, who either fails to notice or fails to care.
Dag: Hmm? Oh. Thop. Morning.
Thop: I should say so, Dag. The sun’s been up for 15 minutes. What are you doing?
Dag: What do you mean?
Thop: Are you serious?
Dag: About what?
Thop: Dag. It’s Monday morning. Hunting day. The antelope are waiting.
Dag: Are they?
Dag: The antelope. Just standing around thinking, gee, it’d sure be great if we got chased, hunted, and eaten today, are they?
Thop: Don’t be ridiculous. It’s a figure of speech.
Thop: It’s time to go hunt, Dag.
Dag: I don’t know, Thop. I’m just not sure I’m feeling like it today.
Thop: Not feeling like it? What are you talking about? We’re hunter-gatherers. Hunting is one of two things we do in life. You don’t feel like it?
Dag: I just feel sort of lost. Kind of … I don’t know. Spiritually icky. You know?
Thop: No, I don’t. If you don’t come on the hunt, you won’t eat. That’s a promise, Dag. The others won’t stand for it and neither will I. So get your loincloth on and let’s go.
Dag: Oh. Well, all right then, I guess maybe I’ll just starve. Waste away. Wouldn’t take very long, we’re all half-dead just waling around here, aren’t we?
THOP sighs in exasperation and heads for the exit. DAG stops him.
Dag: Remember me, okay? Or don’t. It doesn’t matter anyway, in the scheme of things, does it? Nobody will remember any of us after we’re gone. Hunt the antelope, don’t hunt the antelope — what does it matter? This life is meaningless. The hunt is meaningless.
Thop: The hunt is meaningless? Fine, Dag. I’ll just go tell that to Erk and Pog and the rest, then, we’ll hang it up, shall we?
Dag: What’s the point? We bag an antelope, it delays our deaths by a few weeks. But that’s a few weeks more we’ll be suffering, isn’t it?
Thop: Bugger all this, mate.
THOP makes for the exit once more, but DAG isn’t done.
Dag: You remember Egg? Had a tooth rotted so badly he couldn’t eat. Moaned about it for days. Finally he got fed up with it and hurled himself off the cliffs by the river. Remember him?
Thop: Of course I remember Egg. He was our best hunter; we gave him a hero’s sendoff.
Dag: I envy him.
Thop: What, you want an effigy of twigs and antelope dung burned in your honor?
Dag: No, I envy him his end down there on the rocks. He had it right, you know. Took an instant of pain before his sun went down rather than weeks and weeks of the agony of slow starvation. The agony that the rest of us still have to endure, day after day after day. Not such a bad trade, when you think about it, is it?
Thop: (After a long pause.) Dag.
Dag: Yes, Thop?
Thop: Get your prehistoric ass up off that rock, get a loincloth on, and come hunt antelope with us. I’ve had it.
Dag stares morosely into what used to be the fire for a long moment.
Dag: Oh, all right.
Together, DAG and THOP and the rest of the clan would indeed go out to hunt antelope and bring back a feast.
But Dag’s heart wasn’t really in it.
And, just because it’s never really exited my consciousness, here’s a blast from the past that may or may not have had a subliminal influence, as well.
2 thoughts on “Early-Man Ennui”
Pardon the utter melancholious nature of this nutty thought but imagine several chapters on from this scenario with Dag still unable to bust loose from his blues and reaching the point where he’s contemplating ending it all. Sorry to be the one to raise it but would he even be capable of writing a suicide note?
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I think there might be more here, but I fear too many chapters with too much focus on Dag would be boring and same-ish (picture them catching the aforementioned antelope; his caveman compatriots all lustily tearing into the unfortunate beast with stony knives and Dag off to the side moaning “what’s the point”). More interesting might be to examine the entire tribe if the entire tribe were imbued with modern sensibilities. (Picture a caveman who paints himself into all his cave pictures with a grin and a thumbs-up — the prehistoric selfie — and one caveman who’s, like, *super* into fitness.)
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