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The Archaeologist Story - A Family Tale (part 3) - nhpeacenik
The Archaeologist Story - A Family Tale (part 3)
[to see all parts of the story try this link:
http://www.livejournal.com/tools/memories.bml?user=nhpeacenik&keyword=Archaeologist Story&filter=all]

"We'll have to come back down here and look at all these ancient artifacts later, but I suppose you'd like to come up to the surface with us and see how the world is now. " the male archaeologist said to Iona.

"Yes!" she replied, "Do you have schools now? I'm going to  school."

"We certainly do have schools! I think you'll like the school... there's one quite near here. Would you like to come up to the surface and have something to eat?"

"No thanks, I just ate, but I'd like to see the school!"

"You mean you ate a thousand years ago", she smiled, "Come on up!"

The anthropologists and their new friends went single-file up the stairs to the second floor, through the trap door to the third floor, and up the steep narrow staircase to the fourth floor, through the open window into the dark lava-walled shaft at whose top a circle of light could be seen. The gray cat climbed on Iona's shoulders as she started up the chain ladder to the surface.

[The anthropologists had discovered the buried dwelling when they were walking across the meadow one day and the female anthropologist tripped on a sharp red piece of ceramic.On close examination, they had identified the object as a shard of an ancient chimney tile. Her foot was slightly injured, and they used the medikit to assuage the pain. The man ran back to their house, returning with the digging machine. The two of them stepped onto the platform of the digging machine and propelled it downward until the delicate sensors on its tip detected a solid object, which turned out to be the lower part of the roof of the house. They then excavated in several directions until they heard a "ping" that signaled they had struck the fourth-floor windowpane. With great excitement, they carefully opened the window and stepped inside. The first thing they noticed, on entering the tiny attic was the body of an animal lying on the floor. They determined that this must be an extinct creature known as the "flying squirrel" and picked it up to place it in a sample bag. At the first touch, the small mammal sprung into life and leapt to an inaccessible beam above. The volcanic atmosphere trapped in the ancient structure seemed to have preserved the creature alive in a comatose state for a thousand years! They could hardly wait to  report their finding to the archaeological society, but they continued on down the stairs. ]

Iona was first to emerge from the hole at the surface, and as soon as the sun struck her back, the cat sprang from her shoulders with the proverbial blood-curdling yowl that was the heritage of his kind. Iona turned to see her cat clinging to the shoulder fur of a hairy humanoid and scratching repeatedly at the giant creature's eyes. The monster had been waiting at the hole to catch and eat any human that emerged, but he had not counted on the bravery of the kitty. The monster ran toward the forest,  which he could locate by hearing the outraged and sympathetic growls of his mate, who had been watching from behind a tree. The brave cat leapt down and returned,  purring to Iona, who stroked his furry head and ears.

Looking around, she saw a beautiful park-like meadow dotted with trees and small yurt-like buildings and surrounded by a dark forest. She stepped out of the hole and onto the grass, permitting the archaeologists to emerge. They asked Iona if she was OK, and she told the story of how the cat had driven away the monster. They apologized and said that, yes, the monsters were a big problem, even now, when human beings had eliminated war, hunger, and disease. The monsters were mutants, descended from humans who had suffered ill-effects of the volcanic blast and had been reduced to cannibalizing the civilized humans, who lived in terror of them, but couldn't do anything about them, since they had eliminated the fighting instinct from their psyches and abhorred the idea of killing any living thing... even monsters.

The little group made its way over to a broad tree and sat down in its shade. Approaching the tree, Iona could see there was something odd about it.. there were little faucets sticking out of the side of the trunk, and the fruit on the tree had multiple shapes and sizes.

"This is where we get our food now." explained the male archaeologist, "We grow it all on trees. Even though some of the sandwiches on the tree have 'meat' in them, they are all vegetarian, since they are all grown as fruits on a plant." The faucets dispense apple juice, orange juice, hot coffee, hot chocolate, tea.."

Iona picked a hummus sandwich, grabbed a cup from a bole on the side of the trunk, and poured herself some apple juice. This was a wonderful world, she thought, though the awareness of the monsters watching from the edge of the forest was disconcerting.

The monster who had been blinded by kitty was expostulating to the other monsters, explaining that they needed to figure out some other way of getting food, since eating people was going to be orders of magnitude more difficult with that fierce gray creature around.

"That's the school over there. You could go in and join a class if you like."

I'd like that very much indeed , thought Iona.

... to be continued

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