3. Magga’s Despair

3. Magga’s Despair

A Chapter by Peter Rogerson



Magga had watched Uggah as he carried the two tiny bodies of their dead daughters towards the Plain of the Dead, and her heart was bleeding, or so it felt.

For nine long months she had carried those sweethearts in her belly, and when they were finally born she had looked at them and fallen in love, deeply and irreversibly, in love with both of them.

The people around her, those she shared the ups and downs of life with, may have been simple, their lives uncomplicated and yet to be touched by the various mores of civilisation, but like those who were to follow many thousands of years later, they experienced grief and all its miserable shades, and Magga was grieving.

He is gone,” grunted a neighbour, indicating Uggah with a shake of her head, and Magga nodded her agreement and then, with a series of heart-felt grunts, asked if that neighbour could possibly watch the rest of her children, one of them tiny and still pissing everywhere, but she needed to bid farewell to those who had passed beyond the realm of life before they were gone for good. That neighbour, with no kiddies of her own left to watch, willingly agreed’

You go,” she grunted, “say goodbye from me too, for they were fun to watch while they lived...”

And Magga stammered her gratitude and checked that her hair was decent or approximately so, and set off after her man.

She wanted, desperately wanted, to bid a proper farewell to the ones she loved. But she could barely see the tall figure of her man as he strode towards the steep slope that led upwards. She was a fair distance behind Uggah and his stride was bigger than hers. By the time she had climbed up the hill to the Plain of the Dead he had already left their little ones, their heads gently pillowed by tufts of dry grass and their sweet little eyes closed for eternity, but he was nowhere in sight. Added to that, the gods were acknowledging her grief by piling vast clouds into the skies, creating shadows like night, but in the day time, and, unseasonally, it started to rain.

Yet she had to bid a loving mother’s farewell to the two little scraps of cold flesh, and she did, not hurriedly, for that would have been unseemly and insincere. She whispered little memories and tried to smile at them.

You have lived so briefly, my loves,” she grunted, and was aware of tears flooding down her face as she gazed at the stationary remnants of her young ones. And as if to echo her own weeping the rains grew more persistent, battering down with a ferocity that was rare in that valley. And according to the fashion of the day she was naked, it being high summer despite the sudden squall, and it seemed a waste of everything if she wore the skins of dead beasts when such things weren’t needed for warmth but would rather be a hindrance to cooling breezes.

Her farewells tearfully over, she started to scurry back home, for the downpour was getting to be unpleasant and hailstones sharp where they landed on her bronzed skin. She searched the broad swathe that was the hillside that rose to the Plains of the Dead for her man, so that the two of them could return together, and after a lengthy search she saw him in the distance.

And she drew in a deep breath of horror. He was entering the Hellhole! Of all the places under the sun Uggah was seeking shelter in the Hellhole!

Uggah!” she shrieked, but the wind and the rain whipped away her voice, tore it to shreds and cast it to the silence of eternity so that he would never hear it.

She could see him hovering just inside the mouth of the Hellhole and then watched in horror as he ducked just inside it.

Uggah, no!” she shouted, but to no avail. The wind, if anything, had become even more brutal.

Battered by the teeming rain until she thought that her naked flesh must surely melt in all that water, she ran as swiftly as she could to where she had last seen Uggah, and when she arrived at the evil place she put her head, and only her head, into the entrance of Hellhole.

It was dark in there, and there was no sign of Uggah. She screwed up her eyes and all she could see was the blackness of a place where light surely never went.

Oh, Uggah!” she wept, and her voice, eerie suddenly, came back to her in an echo that seemed to mock the sorrow in her heart. With two little ones sleeping an eternal sleep on the Plain of the Dead and now her man, the love of her life, lost to the Hellhole, she thought that certainly her own life must surely end. It had to be. There could be no hope of survival for her after this, and if she did return to her makeshift cave-home and told her neighbours where her man had gone, she would be spurned, for if one of a pair has turned to be evil, so is the other. That was the assumption of the day.

Uggah,” she crooned, and a tiny echo, the least of noises, teased her as her voice whispered back at her. “Uggah,” it breathed.

Then she took one tentative step forwards so that she was just in the cave’s entrance, and that allowed the dull light from a stormy day stream dimly past her. Even so she could see nothing but maybe a glint of diamond light reflected from stones that were set in black walls. For a bleak moment she thought the glimmers, the little sparkles of reflected gloom, were almost beautiful.

The two dead girl’s eyes had been like that, she thought, beautiful even in death, though Uggah had closed them before leaving them to Eternity on the Plain of the Dead, for that was the proper thing to do. Somewhere there would be a creature, man oe beast or even butterfly, that would see through those eyes when nature reclaimed them. That was her belief and her hope.

Her tears started again at the memory, and she looked in the shadows for somewhere to sit awhile: a boulder, maybe, or a stone ledge carved by time out of the substance of Hellhole.

But there was nowhere for her to rest, no nook or cranny to help her, and she took one more step forwards instead. She shouldn’t do it, she must retreat before it was too late, she knew that, but Uggah was somewhere in there and she needed him now more than she’d ever needed him.

Uggah!” she called, “where are you?” It was a complex sentence for her to grunt, but she somehow managed to create meaning out of her primitive language.

Her voice came back to her, tiny, insecure, feeble… Uggah, where are you?

Then there was a rustle not far away, the sound of a movement, and it must be Uggah. For Uggah had ventured where no other would dared to venture. A huge relief swept over her and she almost laughed out loud.

Oh Uggah!” she croaked, “at last!”

The rustling stopped, and then a voice, not Uggars and not croaking, came to her.

Oh golly gosh,” it said, “how simply spiffing! At last, someone to cosy up to...”

And the oddest apparition in her tiny universe appeared before her in a light of its own.

© Peter Rogerson, 22.11.20

© 2020 Peter Rogerson

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Added on November 22, 2020
Last Updated on November 22, 2020
Tags: storm, haill, open air burial, hellhole, cave, stranger


Peter Rogerson
Peter Rogerson

Forest Town, Nottinghamshire, United Kingdom

I am 77 years old, but as a single dad with four children that I had sole responsibility for I found myself driving insanity away by writing. At first it was short stories (all lost now, unfortunately.. more..