A young volcano breathed a slowly billowing corridor of ashy smoke on the horizon of the caldera. A wide eared, long necked stoat weaved between the giant ferns and fat leafed palms lining the grade leading up to a rocky southern facing flat. It scuttled across the edge of the football sized plateau and disappeared into one of the smaller caves on the eastern ridge. At the center of the oval rocky table two cavemen leaned over a large slab of gray stone, one of them hammered at its edges with a small boulder as the other appraised his progress, a thoughtful hand to his chin. 

After a few more flinty blows the second caveman held up a hand. “Gog.”

Gog stopped, mid strike, and turned an inquisitive eye to his partner. “Gronk?”

Gronk pointed at the edge of the stone slab. “Ooga booga,” he paused and considered, then added, “booga.” 

There are a number of challenges when translating mid-paleolithic languages into modern day English. “Ooog booga, booga”, when spoken with Gronk’s tone, roughly translates to something like; “If you consider the arc of the perimeter, as compared to its axis point, its consistency appears to degrade somewhere between 240 and 310 degrees.”

Gog frumpled his chin and assessed the progress on the left side of the slab as he nodded in agreement, tapping himself on the head with his rocky hammer as he planned his next strike. “Booga?” Gog asked. 

It was an interesting question. Gronk tilted his head and nodded in thought before finally turning a shrug to his partner. “Booga… ooga.” meaning; “You have a point that if we work all the proudest points of the slab it seems to create some sort of rule of averages, that if adhered to within an acceptable tolerance, should end up with a universal shape, whose edges maintain a consistent ratio in relationship to its axis point.” he raised a finger with a proposition. “Ooga…” he searched for the word and found it. “...shaka?”

“Shaka. Shaka.” Gog turned his attention back to the wheel still tapping the boulder against his head as he continued to repeat the words. He grabbed the rock in both hands, measuring its weight and balance, as he slowly leaned over the slab. He raised his hammer and brought it down in two deft strikes. A jutting piece of stone broke off the edge of the slab, leaving a near perfect arced perimeter. “Shaka,” Gog said in agreement, nodding at Gronk with a satisfied grin on his face.

“Shaka,” Gronk agreed. Then pointed at another jutting piece of stone jutting from the slab. “Shaka ooga?”

“Ug, shaka ooga.” explaining to his partner that when inventing something as novel as the wheel challenges were going to present themselves and that the best they could do was try to persevere. “Ooga ug,” he added. Reminding Gronk that when Drak invented the spear, he first discovered a thousand ways for it not to work.

Gronk rolled his eyes. He didn’t need to be reminded of the cliche sayings of one of the greatest inventors of their era, but he understood Gog’s sentiment. He smiled, “Ug. Ooga.” and gave the slab a wave.

Gog nodded in agreement, hunched over the slab and resumed his careful hammering, shards of stone falling at his feet. Gronk left him to his work as he meandered over to their pile of failed wheels. Dozens of chiseled slabs in an assortment of different shapes were heaped together. There were triangles, both acute and obtuse, rhombi, trapezoids, and rectangles. Gronk pulled at one of the shapes. an oblong hexagon. He considered it thoughtfully. That had been a long day, and maybe one of the most promising experiments. He remembered the feeling of exhilaration, the sense that they were heading in the right direction and all their hard work was going to pay off. That feeling that it might not just be a pipe dream. They were going to make a great contribution to society, their names echoing through eternity.

“Gronk,” Gog called, over strikes as he hammered away. “Ug ooga booga.”

Gronk tossed the stone back onto the pile. It cracked down its middle and fell into two parts. He sidled up next to Gog, carefully assessing his progress.

Gog stopped and wiped the sweat from his brow with his forearm, slightly winded.

Gronk pulled at his beard in nervous excitement. He leaned down, brushed away a pile of shards and picked up a stone slate tablet. A concept schematic was carved into its face. His eyes darted back and forth from the image to the current slab. They didn’t have a name for the new shape that was emerging on their workbench. The shape that would eventually go down in history. The circle. 

“Ug ooga booga. Booga ug…” Gronk turned an excited grin to Gog, “...shaka.” and waved a hand for him to continue.

“Ug?” Gog raised an eyebrow, double checking that he was sure. They had put a lot of work into this one and at this point a risky strike could set them back quite a ways.

Gronk nodded encouraging and shrugged. What could they do? They had to keep moving forward.

Gog nodded in agreement, turned a calculating eye back to the slab and raised the stone hammer. His tongue jutted from the corner of his mouth in concentration. They both held their breath as he brought the hammer down in a graceful arc.

The hammer glanced off of the edge of the slab knocking the last of the jutting formations to the ground. For one moment it was perfect. It was the thing they had spent years conceiving, sitting here in real life. They were awestruck.

A deep crack echoed up from their granite anvil before the wheel split up the middle and the two halves fell to either side.

They stared at the broken halves, not yet crestfallen, still in shock. They had been so close.

Gronk took a deep breath as he rubbed his face hard. He shook his head down at the failed experiment and sighed. He turned a shrug to Gog. “Ooga Yabba.” Which almost perfectly translates to, “Well, I guess it’s back to square one.”

Gog stared back, wide eyed and mouth agape. After a moment of great tension he raised his eyebrows and smiled a wide grin before letting out a bellowing laugh. He buckled over and grabbed a knee as he slapped the other. He caught his breath and stood straight, wiping the tears from his eyes. He shook his head in disbelief. Even amidst great failure, Gronk could always see the funny side. “Ug,” Grog said. “Ug.” Roughly translating to, “Good one, man. Good one.”

April 20, 2023 21:06

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RBE | We made a writing app for you (photo) | 2023-02

We made a writing app for you

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