The Scarlet Letter
Volume V, Number 1 | March 1998
Grok Discovers Air
By Omega Baphomet

One chapter in the continuing saga of Grok 70,000 BCE 

Portrait of the Cro-Magnum as a Young ManAs you know, Grok was a famous French Cro-Magnum who lived in our fair land of wine and cheese some 72,000 years ago. Grok spoke a very crude form of language which we would have to call proto-proto-indo-european. Grok lived in a tribe with twenty or thirty (it varied with the season and the rain) other Cro-Magnums in what is now Lyons, France. They called themselves the Kapooey, and they mostly ate nuts, mushrooms, berries, antelope, and an occasional mammoth or bear. They considered themselves very advanced since they had evolved along with their tools and now sported the ability to start fires, and were armed with flint spears. The Kapooey had been living for several generations in a nest of caves where bears had been living before them. Most of the stories that the old people told were about the various ways that the bears had been forced out. Bears still were very numerous, very dangerous, and quite often would spontaneously appear and try to force a Kapooey out his own cave. These stories were taken very literally by everyone.

One day while Grok was out collecting mushrooms and he decided to play with his breath. This was a common children’s game among the Kapooey tribesmen, and was often used to break the boredom of picking mushrooms all day long. Grok decided that he would see how long he could hold his breath. Grok would breath in slowly, then force himself to hold his breath for as long as possible. Early in the afternoon when it was warming up a bit, Grok sat down under a tree and took off a few of his fur pieces. Lounging around eating his mushrooms, Grok played holding his breath again. But this time when he breathed out, he did so in such a manner that a great deal of spore was blown off the head of a large mushroom he was about to eat. Now Grok had seen this happen before, but had never seen it so clearly.

Grok picked up another mushroom and tried it again. He breathed in very deep, held his breath for as long as possible, and blew out in exactly the same way. Mushroom spore was blown in the air. Grok was amazed. He hadn’t thought of it before, because he had just never really sat down and thought about it, but it seemed to Grok that everytime he breathed out some invisible stuff came out. Grok put his hand up to his nose. He breathed in, and he breathed out. Grok’s eyes opened. It had felt to him like some invisible stuff went in when he breathed in, and came out when he breathed out.

Grok stood up and started flailing his arms around him. Grok could feel some thing all around him. Grok flapped his hands wildly about his face and could feel the stuff brushing his cheek. Grok started laughing hysterically, jumping up and down, and flailing his arms about him. Grok thought, “since this stuff is invisible, and it’s everywhere, it must have a name.” But he had never heard of it, or heard a story about it. So Grok decided to give it two names and put them one after the other and make it twice as long at the regular names that they gave to non-human things. Grok decided to call it Invisible Stuff, which in his language sounded like AE’ *HER. Grok stood there with his eyes closed, and his hands up in the air, and he screamed out over and over again: “AE’*HER! AE’*HER! AE’*HER!”


Grok stopped screaming and opened his eyes. It was Philo his brother’s youngest son. Philo had as many suns as Grok had fingers and toes, that is to say, eighteen and a half.

“Philo! I find big Invisible Stuff! I find Ae’*Her!” Philo ran up to Grok and started looking around vigorously.

“Where? Where is big Invisible Stuff?”

Grok laughed and, stepping out, started flailing his arms all around him.

“It is here! It is all around us! I find Ae’*Her!”

Philo’s bright smiling face began to fade slowly into a stern confusion. “Big Invisible Stuff is where?”

Grok went up Philo and began to fan his own face. “Do this, Philo, make your hand jump up and down, and you will feel big Invisible Stuff brush your face like a woman’s hair. See!” Grok, again, started fanning his own face.

Philo was getting very disturbed. He slowly lifted his hand up in the air near his face, looked a Grok a few moments, and then slowly lowered it down. “I do not feel this big Invisible Stuff. Have you eaten too many mushrooms uncle?”

“No! I only ate two handfuls. But you have to make hand go fast. See!” Again, Grok demonstrated.

Philo became very afraid. Grok was beginning to act like an Owl Hunter and Philo felt that he needed to go back and warn the tribe. So the next time Grok started jumping up and down screaming Ae’*Her, Philo took the opportunity to run away as fast as he could. Looking back over his shoulder he saw that Grok wasn’t following him, so Philo relaxed and began to wonder how to warn the tribe.

Philo found an elder named Booord and related the story to him the best he could in broken Kapooy. Booord began to laugh.

“Grok is no Owl Hunter,” he said, “Grok eat too many mushrooms. He is Dream Man!”

Philo started smiling too. “Yes! Grok is no Owl Hunter! Grok is Dream Man!” Then Philo started laughing too, and he went away to tell everyone in the tribe how Grok ate too many mushrooms that day and was a Dream Man.

That night, like every night, after nuts and berries and mushrooms, the Kapooey started a big fire. Then they danced naked around the fire and jumped up and down. Then, later, everyone sat down to hear stories. By concensus everyone wanted to hear Grok tell about that day’s mushroom hunting trip.

Grok became very serious and began to relate how he discovered Ae’*Her, the big Invisible Stuff. But as he began to expound upon the details of his experience using big hand movements, exaggerated walks, and sequences of “Ohh!” and “Ahh!” his fellow tribesmen became very disturbed. Finally Booord stood up and everyone fell silent. He spoke directly to Grok: “We no like big Invisible Stuff, so we think you must be Dream Man.”

Grok felt a great pressure on his chest and stepped back a foot. “I am no Dream Man. I feel big Invisible Stuff. I feel Ae’*Her. See!” And Grok rushed up to him and began fanning his own face.

Booord slowly lifted his hand up in the air near his face, looked at Grok a few moments, and then slowly lowered it down. “I do not feel this big Invisible Stuff. You have eaten too many mushrooms. You are Dream Man. We no like big Invisible Stuff. We no like Ae’*Her.” Then Booord turned around and went to his cave. Everyone else followed suit, and Grok was left alone by the dying fire. He had never felt so lonely.

The next day was worse. All the tribe’s children threw mud at him, and everytime he tried to have sex with his cave mate she ran away screaming “Ae’*Her! Ae’*Her! Ae’*Her!” Finally she went to her sister’s cave and Grok was left alone. He was a very frustrated young Cro-Magnum. But all this was forgotten by mid-Afternoon when a Kapooey tribeswomen came back crying that she had been attacked in the woods by a monster.

Indeed, about this time, a large Neanderthal tribe had moved into the woods which were adjacent to the Kapooey’s cave complex. The Kapooey called the Neanderthals “Monster People”, and this name was very descriptive. A few Kapooey elders remembered stories about these Neanderthals, and warned the tribe that they were very very bad. Everyone was worried.

Soon a few Neanderthals came close and looked at the caves. They raped a few Kapooey tribeswomen, stole as many nuts and berries as they could with their bare hands and went back into the woods. That night the Kapooey had an extra large fire and were only able to keep Neanderthal marauders out of their caves by waving fire and throwing spears. Everyone in the Kapooey tribe knew that they were in very grave danger. Their food was low, as always, and they couldn’t go out and get more without the Neanderthals attacking them. Booord decided to leave a few men to guard the women and children hidden in the largest cave (Booord’s own cave as a matter of fact) and to force a confrontation as soon as the sun jumped out of the ground.

Sprite by Kiri Namtvedt

And, sure enough, as soon as the sun came up Booord led the majority of the men in the tribe to the Neanderthal’s spot in the woods, and woke them up by killing off the first half-dozen Neanderthals that they came across, spearing them in their heads as they slept and screaming “Monster People Die! Monster People Die!” This commotion, however, woke the other Neanderthal’s up and chaos broke out. The Cro-Magnum were lighter and had many spears, but the Neanderthal were very, very strong and threw large rocks. Since the Neanderthals outnumbered the Kapooey tribesmen by a factor of three to one, the Kapooey were quickly driven back to Booord’s cave where they were able to finally stop the Neanderthals. Fortunately, Booord’s cave was blessed with a very small entrance tunnel and only one Neanderthal could fit at a time. Nonetheless, the Kapooey had to kill half a dozen Neanderthals before they stopped trying to force their way in.

The Kapooey stayed holed up in Booord’s cave for almost twenty-four hours before thirst, hunger, and stench forced a few of them to venture out. Philo, who was small and fast, volunteered to go and look. He came back quickly.

“The Monster People are living in our caves. Also they are pissing and shitting all over everything so that it smells like them!”

A mumur broke out amongst the tribesmen. Booord was very afraid. He did not know what to do. Maybe they would all die? Suddenly, from the rear, Grok spoke up.

“I have idea. I will use big Invisible Stuff to make the Monster Peo ple go away.”

All the Kapooey men turned and looked at him with dumb expressions on their faces. Even Booord was stunned.

“We no like big Invisible Stuff,” Booord said, “We no use your Ae’*Her to make the Monster People go away. We take spears and kill them in their sleep.”

“But Booord,” Philo said, “that did not work. When we shout ‘Monster People Die’ they all wake up and start to kill us! And there are more of them!”Booord scratched his head. What to do? Grok spoke up again.

“If Ae’*Her is good thing, and I not Dream Man, then I confuse Monster People’s eyes and Kapooey run out with spears and Monster People die. Then everyone say big Invisible Stuff is good. If Ae’*Her is a bad thing, then Monster People kill Grok with their stones, and everyone say big Invisible Stuff is bad.”

Grok’s speech was very eloquent and no one could understand it all, but it was clear to everyone that Grok would run out to confuse them and that they would then make Monster People die. Also, it seemed clear to most of them that this would mean that Ae’*Her was good. So all the tribesmen lifted up their spears and started chanting “Go Grok! Go Grok! Go Grok!” Even Booord joined in.

Grok lifted his hands up over his head and started out the cave. As he went out he chanted Ae’*Her over and over again.

The Neanderthals, around this time, were busy pissing and shitting on everything to make it smell more like them. So they were very very surprised when Grok, a skinny little Cro-Magnum, came walking slowly out of his cave with his hands up over his head shouting Ae’*Her! Ae’*Her! Ae’*Her! They were so amazed, in fact, that they just stopped what they were doing and looked at him with dumb expressions on their faces.

Thus, Grok was able to walk unhindered all the way to the fire pit. Since there had been no fire the night before he just stepped over the giant stone rim, and waddled directly into the middle of the cold grey ash. The ash was, in fact, so deep that it came up to Grok’s knees. He just stood there with his hands over his head shouting Ae’*Her! Ae’*Her! Ae’*Her!

Now, even though they had low sloping foreheads, the Neanderthal were very fascinated by this whole thing and so the whole Neanderthal tribe walked over to the fire pit and formed a ring around Grok while he stood there shouting. Also, the Neanderthals looked at each other and scratched their heads. Even the Neanderthal women were there with their Neanderthal children in their arms. This would be a story they would grunt to each other about for hours.

Grok let his shouting fade very slowly until he was whispering so softly that the Neanderthals had to cock their heads to hear him. The Kapooey tribesmen, of course, also didn’t know what was going on.

Grok turned and looked at the Monster People. There were as many of them as fingers and toes on two people1, but there were only as many male Neanderthals as there were fingers and toes on both hands and one foot. Grok knew that the Kapooey had as many male tribesmen with spears as there were fingers on the two hands, so he knew that what he had in mind might actually work.

Grok turned and faced the largest, ugliest, meanest Neanderthal Man. He had a giant bone necklace, so Grok decided to name him “Bone Man.” Next to Bone Man was a Neanderthal woman with large hanging breasts and an antelope bone through her nose. Grok decided to name her “Breast Woman.” Grok pointed his finger at Breast Woman and motioned for her to come to him and have sex. Without thinking, of course, Breast Woman stepped over the rock rim of the fire pit and started walking towards him. Bone Man became furious, grabbed Breast Woman and pulled her out of the fire pit. Then Bone Man made a loud grunt, the other Neanderthal men grunted too, and all of them stepped into the fire pit to kill Grok.

But they never made it, for ere Bone Man made three steps into the fire pit, Grok picked up two heaping handfuls of ash and started furiously blowing it into his face. Bone Man fell to his knees and started wiping his eyes, but ash was everywhere and this only made it worse. Quickly, and spryly, before the slow moving Neanderthals could react, Grok blew ash into all their eyes. All fifteen Neanderthal men stood frantically grunting and wiping more and more ash into their eyes.

Back at the mouth of Booord’s cave the Kapooey were astonished. They saw the Neanderthals surround Grok, and they all became very quiet. When Grok motioned to the Monster People woman and she started walking towards him they all laughed. But when they saw the Monster People men start in towards him they all clutched each other in morbid fear. Grok would not live to see the sun fall back into the earth. And all Grok did was run blowing Ae’ *Her in their faces.

“What is he doing with the Ae’*Her?” Booord asked Philo.
“He is using the big Invisible Stuff to blow fire dust in their faces.”

“Why is he doing that?” Booord asked.

“I ... I ... I do not know,” Philo replied, shaking his head in disbelief that his uncle was about to be killed. But, Grok still wasn’t dead.

“Why is Grok not dead?” Booord asked Philo.

“Because the Monster People’s men are walking around blind and stumbling into each other.” Philo jumped to his feet. “Look!” he said. The Kapooey tribesmen looked very close. “The Monster People’s men are walking around blind and stumbling into each other!”

“So?” Booord asked.

“Monster People Die!” Philo cried out, “Monster People Die!”

There was a great hush that fell on the Kapooey tribesmen. They were very confused. They looked very carefully at the Monster People’s men who were, by now, all on their knees grunting and rubbing more ash in their eyes. Grok was running towards Booord’s cave. He came up to the mouth of the cave, grabbed his spear, and started running back to the fire pit screaming “Monster People Die! Monster People Die! Monster People Die!”

Suddenly the tribesmen understood. The Monster People’s men were walking around blind and were stumbling into each other. And the Kapooey had spears! So, all at once, the Kapooey tribesmen rushed down to the fire pit screaming “Monster People Die! Monster People Die! Monster People Die!” And in a few minutes the Kapooey had killed every single Neanderthal man, woman, and child. Grok, and the big Invisible Stuff, had saved the World.

That night, after dancing naked around the fire, Grok went up to every person in his tribe and blew Ae’*Her in their face. “The big Invisible Stuff, Ae’*Her, is good stuff!” he said, and everyone agreed.

1. About thirty-seven.

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