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The Beginning   By: (1913-1977)

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Relentlessly, a narrative as old as time drives forward to a climax as old as man and points a finger as grim as Death.

[Illustration]

the BEGINNING

By HENRY HASSE

Illustrated by FINLAY

In the purely cerebral sense, there was no particular point of sequence at which Gral could have been said to Know. The very causality of his existence was a succession of brute obedience to brute awareness, for it was only thus that one survived. There was the danger sense on those days when the great toothed cats roamed the valley, and the males who will bring remained huddled and sullen in the caves above the great ledge; there was the hunger sense when provender was low, and Gor wah drove them out with grunts and gibes to hunt the wild dogs and lizards and lesser beasts; and not infrequently there was the other sense, the not hunger , when the bring had been exceptional and there was somnolence after the gorging.

Gral could not remember when he had experienced the latter, for it was the dictate of Gor wah, the Old One, that who did not bring did not eat not until the others had gorged. Gral was small, and weakest of all the males. Not often did he bring. Once on a spurious moment he had scaled the valley rim, and came out upon the huge plain where it was rumored the little three toed horses roamed. And he had seen them, he had seen them! He pursued, armed only with blunt shaft and a few of the throw stones such as Otah used; but he was less swift than the tiny horses, and his throw stones fell wide, and it was rumored that here roamed the long tusked shaggy ones that were larger than the very caves ... trembling, Gral had retraced his way, to arrive at the ledge and meekly await Gor wah's word that he could partake of the sinews that night.

... Point of sequence. Causality in action. An atom is dissected, a belly rumbles in hunger, a star blooms into brief nova; a bird wheels in futile escape, an ice flow impacts, an equation is expressed in awesome mushrooming shape. These are multitudinous, apocalyptic. They are timeless and equal. These are things whereby suns wheel or blossom or die, a tribe vanishes, a civilization climbs or a world decays.

Or an earlier sun, hot and soft stroking against leaves. Or a Pleistocene man, smallest of all the males, whose supine acceptance had devolved into laziness....

Gral would not have called it laziness; his crude synapses could not have contained the thought, much less given it relevance. Even later as Gral the Bringer his only point of relevance was to the Place where the great thing happened.

The Place was a small rocky cleft above the river, not easily accessible.... Gral found it one day because he dearly loved to climb, though all to be found here were the lizards, stringy and without substance. But this day he found more. It was warmth , a warmth immeasurably more satisfying than the caves above the ledge. Here for perhaps an hour the late sun stroked directly in, soft and containing, setting the narrow walls aglow with bright brushed patterns.

To Gral it was an hour apart. He gathered leaves and placed them here, and here he paused in the lateness of each day though his bring was frugal and his belly would rumble that night. But to that he was accustomed, and this was pleasurable.

It was the time of the thaw. Gral huddled in his Place and welcomed the stroking warmth. He was weary, his forage had been fruitless, his throw stones wasted ... would he never master them as Otah and the others? He had confronted a wild dog and pinned it snarling against rock, he had employed his shaft and got it fairly into flesh, only to have the beast slip off the smooth point and escape. Smooth points they were useless! Briefly, his mind groped with that but could not sustain it.

So Gral burrowed into the leaves, his anger diminished as he watched with drowsy delight the sun patterns stroking... Continue reading book >>




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