First of all, I'm 63 years old. You will understand the relevance.
Last year I connected with a cousin I had not seen since the 1960's. In a conversation, he mentioned that one of the things he remembered about me was that, when we were in our teens and with another cousin, I admonished that cousin for using racially disparaging language. I did not remember the incident, but I was not surprised to hear this, because at that age I was challenging racially disparaging language, often, among members of my family and extended family. There were a lot of heated, angry conversations, and more than a few times, I was accused of being a N lover. I didn't care. I knew racism was wrong, and I spoke up.
In the 1970's I was almost drummed out of a liberal organization when I suggested that the men running the organization resign and let the women take over. Everyone was taking about women's rights, so it seemed like a logical suggestion. Apparently not, and I was amazed at the anger this suggestion caused. I didn't care. Dr. King, Jr. had shown us the path, and I was determined to travel it.
Fastforward to 2008. I wrote a book that described a camp designed to preach abstinence but also to familiarize teenagers with condoms, diaphragms, patches, and other forms of birth control. I have received more than a few comments from reviewers suggesting that such a camp was not believable. I don't care.
I stood against racism as a boy and gradually changed my family's attitudes. I stood against sexism as a young man and saw my country gradually let women be all they can be. I'm an old man now, but I still have things to say, and one of them is that it is time to accept that urging young teenagers to be sexual abstinent and teaching them about all forms of birth control is totally compatible. That is one part of Surviving the Fog I would never change.
It wasn’t long after we returned to our cabin that the euphoria of our debate began to wear off and numbness set in. I don’t know what the others were thinking, but my thoughts were about Pop and Nana. What happened? What the hell is that Fog, Jacob saw? A part of me wanted to hike down the road and see for myself what it was, but the larger part shied away from the idea. Perhaps seeing it would have made it too real. I was still hoping that my grandparents would suddenly appear at the top of the hill, driving the old Ford. Maybe the Fog was a local phenomenon.
Ahmad and Rasul accompanied us, because they and Pete were still discussing the idea to build a lodge. After a while, Ralph entered our cabin. He listened to the others for only a few seconds before interrupting.
“You guys gonna let a little kid tell you what to do?” he asked, a sneer in his voice. “You gonna listen to little Chief?”
My face reddened, because I had been thinking similar thoughts, even though I had participated in the meeting with Mike.
“Not me,” Tomas said, and Brian bobbed his head in agreement.
There was silence in our cabin except for Ralph’s contemptuous laugh, and then Pete asked, “Who do you think should be in charge?”
Ralph frowned at him. “Jackie’s in charge.”
No one said anything, but even clueless Ralph knew what the rest of us were thinking. Jackie has lost it. He scowled, stood, and stalked out of the cabin.
After a minute of more silence, Brian said rather casually, “If no one’s in charge, there’s some good looking pussy on the other side of the river.”
Tomas grinned in a manner Pop would have described as lascivious and responded, “That’s true.”
Ahmad’s face reddened, and he snapped, “You guys leave those girls alone.”
Tomas snorted, and then he stood and left the cabin followed by Brian who muttered, “Raghead,” as he flung the canvas flap aside.
Ahmad flushed and started to stand, but Rasul put a hand on his arm. Ahmad looked down at the hand, his face angry, but Rasul didn’t take his hand away. “We have things to decide,” he said, and after another second, Ahmad sat down.
“Who is in charge?” Pete asked.
No one said anything for a moment, and then I spoke. “Just because Jacob saw some Fog doesn’t mean something super bad has happened.”
“That’s true,” Pete replied, “but what do we do in the meantime? While we wait to see if our folks come for us?”
“Mike’s the only person in this camp who’s been thinking about that,” John stated.
The rest of us nodded, because what he said was true. Everything we had talked about in the cafeteria was due to Mike’s prodding. Food, shelter, guarding and rationing the food; these were ideas Mike had introduced.
“I don’t like this,” Rasul said. “Somehow I feel like it might be more dangerous here than at the Fog. Things could get bad, fast.”
I didn’t understand what he was referring to. How could things get worse? We appeared to be trapped in the Sierra Nevada Mountains with no cellphone service, and there were no adults around, except for Jackie, who had broken. What else can go wrong?
“Anybody want Ralph to be in charge?” Pete asked.
“Shit, no,” John said. Ahmad shook his head, and Rasul visibly shuddered.
“That would be a good way to start a fight,” Rasul said.
“That all we need; a battle for power,” John growled. “Biggest guy kicks everybody else’s ass.”
“What about you, Howard?” Pete asked, turning my way. “You and Ralph are the oldest, after Jackie. Do you want to be in charge?”
“In charge of what?” I asked, bewildered by the question.
Pete stared at me for a moment, and then he turned to the others. “One good thing about Mike is that the kid’s not an asshole. And he’s not trying for celeb status. He’s just trying to keep us alive.”
“This is true,” Ahmad said, “but he won’t get anything done without our help.”
“It would be a bad thing if people started fighting,” Rasul added. “The girls would be in trouble.”
There was more silence, and then Pete stood and grabbed his spear from where it lay against the end frame of our bunk. He took a step toward the center of the cabin and held out his arm, keeping his spear vertical.
“Ralph’s an idiot, but he said it. Mike is Chief.”
John stood, held out his spear, touched Pete’s knuckles with his own, and said, “Mike is Chief.”
Then Ahmad stood and Rasul, too, and they said the same words, and I swear the same grim expression was on every one of their faces. In a befuddled daze, I stood, grabbed my spear, and echoed, “Mike is Chief.”
Here is the truth. Mike did not seek power; it was thrust on him by those of us in that room, at that moment. Mike could not have been Chief without the Spears to back him, and by backing him we made it clear to the rest of the camp that we were not going to allow the strong to dictate to the weak. It would be the group that was important, not the individual. Later, Pete spoke to Eric and Jacob about what we had decided, and he returned to tell us that they were fine with our decision. I’m not sure, because I never asked him, but I think he spoke to Yuie, too.
Things changed permanently that day, although I was unaware that they were changing, except for noting that Ralph, Brian, and Tomas moved out of our cabin that evening, and Ahmad and Rasul moved in.
I've published eight ebooks and that's been enjoyable, but I like to do other writing things too. For the past few days I've been writing a story, a paragraph daily, on my Google Plus account. This one does not contain the usual romance, instead it is sort of alien fantasy/erotica.
The plot is about a female from one tribe, Borks, who is captured by a man from another tribe, Grolls, for the purpose of being impregnated. The twist on this old cliche is that the Grolls are empaths and the males are able to control the emotions of the female Borks by using empathy. The female Grolls are not quite sentient, but they are captured by male Borks for the same purpose; impregnation. Children born in the Bork tribe from a Groll mother are treated as lower status caste members by those who were born of Bork mothers.
The Bork women have two birthing uterus's. The front one will birth male children and the rear will birth female children. Bork women have two breasts each containing four nipples. This makes them a good choice as Groll mothers, because a Groll impregnation will usually result in 4 to 7 children.
In effect, there is a symbiotic relationship between these two tribes.
Here is what I've written so far.
I began each morning by applying Stinging Juice to the four nipples on my right breast. The Stinging Juice caused them to spring upright and to stay that way for most of the day, thereby making my right breast appear to be more level with my left breast, whose nipples always protruded in a proud manner, never drooping.
I was unmated, so I was not allowed to adorn the large knobs of my nipples with rings or with other jewelry. In rebellious response I had asked my co-sister to print parts of my body with the words and images of our tribe and with other images I thought admirable. She used thorns from the jacten plant to achieve this. I could tell, from my mother’s empathetic pulse, that she disapproved of this.
I always woke happy because of her empathetic pulses, and the first thing I did every morning, after my ablutions, was to check the water and food level in my mother’s cage and to make sure these were sufficient for the day ahead. Sometimes I would find a jacten fruit beforehand, and I would feed it to my mother while stroking the soft fir on her belly.
Some of us were agitating for a long hollow canyon to be set aside as areas in which mothers who were Grolls could roam freely. We hated having to keep our mothers in cages, no matter how large the cage. Naturally, most of us agitating for this change had been conceived from a Groll mother. Most of those who had been conceived from mothers of our tribe, the Borks, were not sympathetic to our wishes, since our mothers were barely sentient, whereas theirs were completely sentient, though sometimes ignorant.