They were very social, and so a natural result of each gathering was that some tribe members took new mates allowing tribes to gain new members and lose some. They would create and maintain long-standing distant friendships, and would exchange stories and share their new arts and crafts and healing remedies, as well as farming, hunting and fishing techniques. Several Elders of each tribe would take turns and meet each day, to manage the particulars of each day’s gathering. Often Elders were recognizing new or rising leadership from among Elders’ apprentices, or from the most popular hunters of each tribe. Often old leadership was retired, and an evening’s theme would be to retire the Elder with ritual and stories and dancing. Each day at the neutral camp, a procession of people would form a line every morning at the Elders’ hut, some had waited nearly two years to seem them. They would bring their individual problems, like unresolved issues of trade with another tribe, hunting grounds disputes of boundaries and landmarks, their grievances with each other, often a plea for help from the tribes with their unforeseen circumstances that are threatening their families. But early on the morning of that last day an amazing event occurred which changed the purpose and direction of every life in the three tribes who numbered nearly 8,000. A silver shining flying beast without wings dropped below the clouds and began to float still and high in the sky about two miles away from the camp of the closest tribe of the gathering, the Tribe of the Eastern Sea. Alarmed at the sight, runners were sent to alert the other two encampments, each less than two miles away. The shining circular bird remained still and ominous to the people below it. After a few hours, at around mid-day, the beast slowly flew toward the encampment. Again it waited perfectly still, closer but still distant. There it remained for several more hours. Like a stone hanging in the air it made no sound, as if it were not even alive. Some of the hunters ran toward it to be underneath it. Once there, they tossed their spears and shot arrows hopelessly into the air, but they fell far short of the giant silver bird. When mid-day was ending, the saucer-shaped bird moved itself above the edge of the encampment. Hundreds, many screaming, began running away into the camp. Others fled into a forest grove about a kilometer away. As it lowered itself from the sky, four silver legs opened and at their ends, rectangular feet nearly two meters long appeared. The legs spread out from underneath its belly and when it sat down on the ground, its feet bent over the rocks beneath them as a bare foot over a pebble. It stood firmly on its legs but did not walk or move toward the people as most had feared. It had set down slowly in a grassy area about one-hundred paces from a fast flowing stream in a place now known as Durrington. Through the long afternoon the silent beast did nothing as the people huddled into a nervous crowd of more than 6,000. They were nervous, anxious, cautious, yelling at each other in frantic tones and pacing about, many raising their weapons at one another as they argued about what to do with the large silver-skinned bird. Parents ordered their children to cease throwing rocks at the massive object, but that did not stop many of the hunters from hitting the beast with arrows, clubs and axes, each finding the skin of the beast to be harder than the hardest stone. Many were terrified by the sight, and speculation of the bird’s purpose ran wild. Most became convinced the beast had landed to feed on them. The Elder Obar had reasoned that perhaps it was about to build a nest and lay eggs, and that it chose this place because of the many people at the camp, who would become bountiful food for its young. But curiosity for the amazing animal kept the tribe near, despite the horrific speculation of its purpose. After several hours, many who were near the large saucer, began to calm down, nearly all lowered their weapons, believing that if the beast was going to attack them, it would have shown aggression by now.
#Stonehenge #Neolithic #England #ScienceFiction #Fiction #Amwriter #JamesGMason