Taken by the Caveman
© 2017 by Jayson Jax
Carter walked closer to the window, watching as thin lines of smoke drifted toward the sky from those caves. “What am I looking at?”
Sir Ian stood at his side. “You’re looking at three decades worth of science.”
Carter tilted his head to the side. “Culminating in wh...”
The question died on his lips as he saw a living, breathing example of what had to be an archaic human walking through the vegetation close to the windows.
The dark-skinned male was naked, dirty, and his hair was unkempt. And he was small—too small to be homo erectus. But the male’s brow ridge was heavy and his body tight and compact. Everything else told Carter this was a real live caveman.
He spun to face Sir Ian. “What in the hell is this place?”
“I’ve always been captivated by history. It has sent me on journeys into the unknown, but there was always one time period that fascinated me—the Paleolithic. I funded some swindler many, many years before who claimed to have a working model to support his theories on time travel, but that never panned out. Then I came across information about cloning. I decided that cloning would be my means to seek out the past—by creating my own cavemen to study.”
Carter felt as if his eyes were bugging out of his head. His heart beat too quickly in his chest, the thumping almost painful. “This specimen is too small to be homo erectus, yet he has all the other signs.”
“The early DNA samples we were able to get our hands on were incomplete,” Sir Ian said. “We had to fill in a few of the gaps with our own DNA. As a result, many are smaller than the average erectus. Some of our newer generations are larger thanks to better samples.”
“Newer generations?” Carter spluttered. “How many specimens do you have?”
Sir Ian smiled. “Of the homo erectus or all of our specimens?”
All of their specimens? “How many different species of man did you clone from?”
“This is the erectus exhibit. We have at least twenty specimens who call this home. There are a dozen Neanderthals in another sanctuary. And we even have thirty-five of your homo idaltu. Although there were forty, up until a few months ago.”
“What happened to the other five?” Carter asked as he stared, transfixed by the caveman before him. The specimen was stalking a small mammal it seemed, carrying a prehistoric stone spear in his grip. “Did he fashion this weapon or did you provide it for him?”
“As far as the tool—he, as well as the others, have made many of their own tools without our involvement. All we provide is the natural setting, the walls around it, the stream of clean water, and the wild game.”
“There are walls keeping them inside a boundary?”
“Indeed. I can’t have them escaping my island,” Sir Ian said.
It was a game preserve… a Jurassic Park for ancient humans. And he knew how those movies ended. Badly, with lots of torment and pain. Yet here he was, staring at a living, breathing caveman. How many questions he could have answered… and how many new ones would arise. This was an experience of a lifetime, one he had to hold on to.
“What of my other question? How did the five die?”
“What happened to the other five is what you’re here for,” Sir Ian said mysteriously.
Carter had to know what he was getting into. “Plague? Disease? Did they murder one another?”
“One of our specimens seems to be a bit… off.”
A frown crossed Carter’s face. He needed more than that. If he was putting himself in danger by accepting the position, he deserved to know. “And this specimen… he killed the others?”
Sir Ian frowned. “Not exactly… but he was a cause of their demise.”
“What is it you think I can do here?” Carter asked.
“Follow me,” Sir Ian said.
Carter stood rooted to the spot for a few moments, unsure if he should go. Ultimately, his curiosity won out and he followed Sir Ian through the doors they’d entered. They made a few turns and took another set of steps before coming to a small metal door. Sir Ian turned the metal wheel in the middle of the ship-like door before he opened it, a creaking sound echoing around them.
“Take a look inside,” Sir Ian said.
Carter took a couple of steps closer, but the interior was quite dark. “What am I looking at?”
“You have to get closer,” Sir Ian said.
Carter glanced at the man before taking a couple more steps. He peered through the door, yet still saw nothing. “I don’t know what I’m supposed to—”
A push between the shoulder blades had him falling through the door and down several meters. He slammed into the floor on his side, the pain radiating through his arm and hip.
Yet it wasn’t quite a floor.
It was dirty—damp—and he was quite sure there were things slithering in what felt like leaves. As quickly as he could, he jumped to his feet and looked up toward the door he’d fallen through. Sir Ian’s head poked out of the low light—the only light.
His rolled his shoulders, the sensation of a hand still there between his shoulder blades. Surely Sir Ian hadn’t pushed him in. It had to have been his imagination.