Posted by: Monkey | May 23, 2012

The Hunt of the Hooga – A short story

Context: A couple of months ago upon hearing from a friend about a game called ‘the productivity game’ to help us be more productive and to make adding more structure into our lives a fun process, I contacted him about coaching in learning the system. My intent in engaging this was mostly to start writing again. When I was a young child and in part of high school I used to love writing stories and I felt I wished to revisit that creative part of myself again.

I have started writing again with the help of this structure and it has taken me a while to polish some of the rust off and start to find my style again. The very short story that follows is the first that I have written in over 10 years, and hopefully the first of more to come. It has taken me four restarts to find the particular voice I wished to write in, and still I am not quite satisfied with how parts of it come out… yet I feel the urge now to move on to some other stories and continue exploring my style and experimenting with new ideas.

The story that follows is a short description of a hunting scene by a group of large primates along the lines of greater apes, living in a symbiotic relationship with a giant variation of a pitcher plant (a particular type of carnivorous plant that entices its victims, mostly insects, through a sweet nectar on the throat and a slippery surface that causes them to fall into a liquid that will then digest them. The nitrogen from animals is used to fuel growth and reproduction in particularly nitrogen limited areas). It is created from an idea of a future version of planet earth where humanity has since left or become extinct (the full details of this world are still forming for me) and a large variety of different species have evolved varying levels of consciousness. I aim to write more scenes and stories from this world as I gain more confidence with my writing.

I hope you enjoy and I would love any feedback!

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The plateau shot up out of the forest like the upthrust fist of a man drowning in a black ocean. Amidst roiling grey clouds sound reverberated aggressively outwards, the sounds of incessant pounding drums and raw, raging chanting… “Hooga. Hooga. Hooga”. The very earth itself shook as myriads of creatures took flight in a frenetic, fearful dash for safety. Monkeys shrieked in unrestrained anxiety as they swung in any direction away from the dreadful sound. Deer and other ungulating animals raised their heads before accelerating through the undergrowth, their skin twitching violently in spasms of fear.

Up on the plateau a drizzle of rain fell and the steady drip and flow of water added its voice to the intensity of sound while finding its way into rivulets running into cascades and then dropping down in every direction, as if the water too was fleeing the scene unfolding before it.
The giant pitcher plant reared up above a horde of large, unruly primates as if looking over its squabbling children. Their large, hairy and rippling muscular bodies were pushing and shoving at one another in an increasing frenzy. They knew what was coming next, and they were excited… very excited.

The plants purpled neck began to ooze a shining golden nectar, at first in small drops and then in a larger flow as the primates completely lost control into a ripping, biting, slurping, grabbing, punching, kicking, jumping, trampling mess of bodies in desperate grabs for the sweet sticky nectar. It did not matter where the nectar landed… on the floor or the fur of another, it was eagerly sucked up into hungry, addicted mouths. Some of the larger ones would manage to find their way directly under the flow, gulping down great mouthfuls before being shoved aside by the writhing mass. Some went down, bloodied and beaten by the uncaring single mindedness of every Hooga there. Those that went down were trampled underneath. There was no stopping this tidal wave until every last drop of nectar was gone into their craving bellies.

And suddenly, almost as quickly as it had started, it was over. The action and movement slowed to a halt as the last vestiges of nectar was sucked off sticky fingers or matted fur and there they stood, eyes glazed as the nectar drug flooded into their bloodstreams awakening power, strength, endurance and heightened sensory awareness… and with it the desire to serve, to hunt.
With a shake of his head the largest member jumped onto a rock and with a roar… “Hoooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooogggggggggggggggaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa”… they moved as one. To the edge of the plateau they began to climb down easily and gracefully not quite jumping, not quite climbing they swarmed over the edge and into the forest that silently, breathlessly, lay below.
As they reached the bottom they turned and moved into the tangled depths of foliage and slipped into its awaiting darkness. Quietly they moved, as a unit without a need for words… almost, and again not quite, as one they were driven. They slipped into the trees some climbing upwards to lope along under the branches while others ran along the forest floor sometimes on two legs sometimes on four.

The first victim, found quickly, was a wounded sambran, a four legged creature with large winged antlers and a third horn in the centre of its forehead. Pitifully it bleated, whimpering… “spare me, please”. A smaller member of the Hooga swerved out from the flow of bodies to fall upon the sambran with savage inconsideration. Three strikes from clenches fists to its head and the whimpering ceased. With a slight grunt the Hooga hefted the now dead animal over its shoulders and turned back to follow the path they had just arrived from.

The rest of the tribe swept on. They moved sweeping through the forest and suddenly, with surprising synchronicity; they separated into groups of five and divided their flow to spread outwards into the forest in a large semi-circle.

The Hooga were merciless in their pattern. While unruly and in constant conflict at home, here on the hunt they moved with efficient and deadly co-ordination. One by one the groups sweeping outwards through the forest fell upon animals of different shapes and sizes. There were the tough rhino deer whose armor plating, usually enough to stop the most savage of predators, was no match for the intense battering five nectar filled and strength enhanced Hooga gave upon finding any hiding in the underbrush. Crocadilians, whose snouts peeking out of deep pockets in streams were the only signs they gave of being there at all… whose vicious teeth, powerful jaws and deceptive bursts of speed made them one of the top predators in this part of the forest… fell just as easily to the wave of death as they prey they usually feasted upon. No animal was safe.

As a group fell upon an animal they would pound it to death with closed fists, beating around head and body until said animal ceased breathing. Depending on the size of the animal they would send a single member back, hoisting it up upon heavily muscled shoulders or even two or three carrying together, and continue on as a smaller group repeating until all members of each group were returning to the plateau carrying some kind of kill.

The semi-circle of destruction trickled gradually to a halt as the stream of Hooga carrying their kills became a river returning to the plateau.

The forest breathed a sigh of relief as it became apparent that the slaughter was done for this day. As the last of the Hooga left and some minutes past, all the hidden animals lucky enough to avoid death today came out and returned to the important task of living… shaken, yet living.

Back on the top of the plateau the corpses were dumped unceremoniously into a mound and the returning Hooga, as they arrived and deposited the dead body they carried to the mound, joined the throng ringing the pile of death and joined in the almost whispering, reverent hum of chanting… “Hooga. Hooga. Hooga.”

The last of the large primates clambered up the steep slopes of the plateau and dumped their corpses on the mound and filled in the gaps to complete the quietly chanting circle.
The giant plant rising above them was nothing more than a swollen and horizontally lying oval shaped womb with a snaking head extending up from one tip, topped by a small red flower and with two large leaves branching off the snake head just above the pitcher and a meter or so below the flower. It was the focus of the circle completing the final gap as the Hooga locked shoulders and swayed slightly. The two Hooga on either side of the flower extended their hands to gently, sensuously, respectfully reach out and touch it caressing the light furry hairs prickling off of the swollen womb.  The chanting died down in volume until there was nothing but silence and the eerie woosh of wind passing across the plateau.
The plant shuddered abruptly and a collective sigh spread out through the waiting primates and then a lid over the womb opened to expose a swimming pool sized space full of a clear liquid. The largest Hooga, the one who had led the insane death-filled dash into the forest, stepped forward plucking the corpse of a deer shaped animal from the pile and with a show of brute power tossed it into the pitcher at least three meters above his head. The dead animal struck the liquid and sank without a splash or a sound. Then again with that strange sense of order the Hooga came forward in ones or twos to lift and hurl corpses into the giant plants greedy pseudo-mouth.

When the mound was finished the lid gracefully closed, entombing the dead animals until at some point in a few weeks when every single particle would be digested and the plant would call forth its willing servants to serve yet again.
The plant was not finished yet, it must give its reward to its servants and the Hooga formed a line from the largest to the smallest beginning at the throat of the plant. Each Hooga stepped up to the plant, bowed his head and cupped his hands to receive a double handful of a lightly tinted and less viscous nectar than the one preceding the hunt. Having drunk of the liquid he shambled off to the caves where their habitat was made and disappeared to rest, the nectar already making him drowsy. It would work in his system during the rest period, strengthening muscle, bone and sinew and augmenting them all with a power beyond their size so that they may rise and venture into the forest as faithful servants when the plant was hungry once again.

Today’s hunt was at an end.

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