I first heard about it from Gorg who got a first-hand account from his cousin, Honk.
Honk lives in the gathering a full lightness towards sunsink and works in the stone cutting trade. It’s amazing what they can make out of stone now: bison-cutting stones, cave-closings, sitting stones, you name it.
Several darknesses ago, I went to a showing with rocks of all different sizes and shapes (mostly jaggy). Anyway, there was this one guy with a big flattness of slate and he was carrying around his chunk of bison buttock on it. Looked kind of cool, very New Stone Age, until another dude with a long pointy stone skewered the buttock and made off with it. The first guy soon found another use for his slate as a sort of flying head-cutty slicer – took out the buttock thief with a single skimming throw.
But I’m wandering.
So, you know when stone cutters have finished hammering out their latest creations, they pile the left-over bits all together at the outers of their works? Well this one day, there’d been significant quantities of fermented nettle squeezings imbibed during all the hacking and shaping, and, when it came to clearing-up, instead of making one big bundle, things got competitive. Each man made his own pile, all laid out in a big round. Once done, they all stood on top of their own heap singing and boasting and imbibing some more. It went on for quite a while until Erb, who was well known for not being able to hold his squeezings, fell off and hit his head on Orjel’s mound, un-lifeing himself completely.
Despite Erb’s misfortune, over the next few lightnesses, this piling thing really caught on and the practice started to spread like wild burny-burny from one gathering to the next. Work ends, full-on scrabble to see who had the biggest pile.
Of course, when it got to the Big Tree Gathering, they had to take it a step further. They started to dig out the largest rock in their heap, wedge it upright, and stand in front of it lifting their bison belts and waggling their man sticks at each other (they too had downed a great deal of squeezings). But this new development hid another danger; one of their number, Tomb, failed to dig a deep enough ground-lack to hold his big stone upright, and down it came down, embedding both itself and its creator flat in the ground-brown. The others tried to lift it off but both him and plinth were firmly wedged a good half-leg into the ground-brown. After a general conflab and draining of the final squeezings, they decided to leave it as a tribute to their over-ambitious co-worker.
Competitive rock balancing soon became the next big fad across the gatherings. Once again, the Big Tree Gathering took it to another level, dragging supersized breezeblocks from the distant Dragon Fields. Their master stroke was to arrange these megaliths in a roundness but then balance a second lot on top.
It’d be Henge’s idea. He sleep-thinks up all sorts of incredible stuff – he even made tiny flat bisons appear on his cave walls, using a wood stick dipped in the burny-burny to lure them out.
Anyway, they never would tell us how they’d got the rocks up there, but Honk told Gorg he’d heard they had made a brew from the red and white bell-end plants and drunk a good double-tits-worth each, first. Said there’d been a lot of giggling. Some had contributed nothing but a series of ooohs and ahhhs whilst lying on the greentufts staring and pointing at the sky sparkles, but somehow between them, the others created a truly awesome rock-bragging man-stick embiggening creation.
Altogether with the bringing, building and bell-end binging, the Big Tree Gathering lost nearly full-fingers lightnesses of work, so the chiefs decided to outlaw it. A foot-mover took word to all the gatherings that anyone caught participating in rock-bragging activities would be dealt the most serious of not-goods. In our gathering this meant being condemned to sit in the communal shitting-hole until life-stop. Over at Gorg’s they have to wear a nether covering of sting-flowers, jaggies front-bottom facing until their man-stick drops off. They’re not fucking about here.
The chiefs left the Big Tree Gathering’s gigantic roundness to remind us of the folly of un-work, but to be honest, folks are flocking from lightnesses away just to ogle* at the sheer biggy-bigness and thinkful design of their monument. Never missing an opportunity, they’ve even set up a wood-box where you can get bison buttock on a slate for only a handful of glitter-rocks or one small human.
Typical Big Tree Gathering…
* For the record, Ogle hates it when his name is used in this way.
Hybrid writer-scientist, Sheila most enjoys turning idle thoughts into short narratives and illustrative doodles. Her work has been published in Postbox, Edwin Morgan 100 Anthology, Cabinet of Heed, Causeway, Ellipsis Zine, Flashback Fiction, Bangor Literary Journal, Poetic Republic, and 2019 Morton Writing Competition. Her intermittently hyperactive Twitter account is @MAHenry20