A silly tale of the early days of fire control
|A Love Affair With Fire
Once upon a time we had a love affair with fire. I can still remember when Prometheus came by with the sample and instructions on how to keep it alive. As soon as he saw it, Jump said it looked like the thing that chased us out of the trees in the first place.
“Yeah,” said Run, “Or like what blackens the long grass every summer.”
Aooga put his hands over his ears. “Don’t talk about it. I had to dive in the river to get away from it.”
Everyone laughed and joined in the chorus of, “Dive, Aooga, dive!”
Prometheus lost patience. “Look, d’you want it or not? Trust me, you’ll never regret accepting it. I haven’t even explained what you can do with it yet.”
We shut up then and listened. Prometheus went through a long list of uses for fire, starting with keeping warm and finishing with heating food to make it taste better. There were so many that we forgot most of them straight away. But it sounded so cool that we knew we had to have it. No way were we going to be left behind while the next door cave got it.
And that’s how our love affair began. We spent hours trying it in new ways, seeing what it could do and what it couldn’t. Chase was a big hit when he showed it to some wolves and they all ran away yelping.
There were some mistakes, it’s true. Owowow burned her fingers when she tried to throw the fire at a spider on the cave wall and Torches set alight to his beard when showing us how to make spooky faces with the light.
But, generally, it was great and we soon found that life without fire was unimaginable. We became the people of the fire and other tribes came begging for a sample of the thing that made us so strong.
Then, one day, the fire went out. By then we were so dependent on it that, for days, we starved and ran scared from the creatures of the night. Other tribes laughed at our misfortune and reminded us of how much we made them pay for their samples. No one was willing to give us a little back.
We would probably have died were it not that the grass came to our aid. Came a morning when the horizon was lit up with the blaze of fires that swept ever closer to us. All the animals ran past, frantic to escape the fire as it raced across the grassland. Even the other tribes packed up and departed for the rocky hills to the south.
We stayed in the cave and three brave souls, Run, Jump and Aooga, volunteered to go to the fire and steal some of it. They cut handfuls of grass and set out.
The roaring of the fire grew louder as it approached until it reached the short grass and exposed earth before the cave. There it parted and drove on around the sides of the cliff, leaving the grassland black and smoking behind it.
And, out of the newly-scorched landscape, strode the three heroes of the fire. They bore grass torches alight with the flames of survival and we cheered and praised their courage.
Around the communal fire that night, the three told the stories that were to become legend in the future. Run spoke of how he had used his speed to run straight through the fire to the smoking blackness beyond. Jump explained that he, too, had run at it and then jumped clear through the flames to safety. And Aooga told us how he had gone to the river and waited for the fire to go past.
“Dive, Aooga, dive!”
Word Count: 627