Murder and Ice Cream
Four men lay dead or dying in the middle of a coniferous forest at the base of the Alps, blood running from their gaping wounds in dark thick rivulets which pooled in a nearby indentation in the ground. The feud that ended their lives started generations before; some claimed it began over land, others blamed a woman but during the years it raged all agreed it wouldn’t end until one side was completely exterminated. The warring families were the largest and most powerful in the valley and those who hadn’t claimed allegiance to one side or the other had left the valley or been killed in fear they would join forces with the enemy.
Otzi cleaned his axe and hands in a melting pile of snow beneath a lone beech tree in a sea of conifers, leaving the red splatters on his straw cape and fur coat to dry with other splotches and hardened cakes of blood. He prayed he would be allowed to fell more of his natural born enemies before he died. The remembrance of his slain wife and children filled him with horror and rage; the way the light from his torched flickered off of their blood, the fluttering of his wife’s eyelids that lit a false hope in his breast, his two year old son’s broken face that a few hours early had been smiling and laughing and the remains of his daughter mutilated beyond recognition. Otzi flew at the corpses of his enemies in a blind rage hacking at them with his axe until he was covered with blood, and bits of bone and flesh. What had been four dead or dying men became a pile of gore, a red smear of entrails and broken bones mashed together on the forest floor. He covered them with pine needles, twigs, and logs then set them alight so they couldn’t pass into the next world. In the flickering of the flames there was a slight shift inside of him, a subtle and brief respite from his almost unbearable agony. He looked to the snow covered mountains overhead and replenished his rage, the rage that kept him moving forward, that drove his insatiable blood lust and gave his life meaning. The smell of burning flesh filled his nostrils and for a fleeting moment he was content.
By evening Otzi had descended into the valley and set fire to several of his enemies’ homes shooting them through with arrows as they fled the flames. Since the murder of his wife and children Otzi’s life had taken on a singularity of purpose; kill as many of the inhabitants of the far side of the valley as possible. When he had been one of the leaders on his side of the valley, before his family was murdered, the feud occupied only the smallest portion of his thoughts. There had been a lull in the violence; a peace offering had been made by his enemies and a marriage between a son of his clan and the daughter of the enemy took place. Most of his time had been spent improving the infrastructure of the village and hunting. Then there was only killing. In between his blood soaked sorties he would travel into the mountains to invoke the spirits of the dark things that lived there. Sometimes he brought offerings; a severed head, a charred heart, a bag full of teeth or a boiled skull; other times he brought only his despair and anger to lay on the altar of the shapeless, nameless elemental powers he called down from the mountain tops.
Before his vengeance had been slaked his village made a truce with the people inhabiting the far end of the valley and he moved permanently into a cave on the mountain just beyond where the tall trees changed to scraggly shrubs. Not all of those in his village agreed with the truce and certain sympathizers would leave provisions at the end of the tree line. All counted he killed a hundred and twenty of the people living at the far end of the valley, which led to them eventually being absorbed by his people, or what used to be his people.
Otzi had eaten a large meal of goat meat and bread and was sitting by the side of a fire intermittently seeing the faces of his slain family and his victims in the flames. A pain shot though his left breast and he stood in alarm his hand finding an arrow that had been fired from the tree line by the chief of his village. The people in the valley wanted peace and security and had decided Otzi’s raids had to come to an end. The people inhabiting the far and of the valley gave an ultimatum; stop Otzi or the war would resume. Otzi’s people were confident in their ability to defeat the people at the far end of the valley but at what cost they could be sure and so decided killing Otzi the best course to peace.
Otzi ran to his cave, fell to the floor, and died. His only regret was that he wouldn’t be able to finish his killing.
Patrick Van Patten licked an ice cream cone and questioned his father.
“Daddy what does Nix Besser mean?”
“What? What does what mean?”
“Nix Besser, it says it here on the wrapper.”
David Van Patten had been lost in thought, distracted by a woman in her late twenties with large breasts pushing a stroller a few paces in front of them.
My God her tits are fucking perfectly huge and that ass…
“Daddy! What does it mean?”
“What does what mean, son?”
“I said it already Nix Besser.”
“Ah sounds German or something. I don’t speak German. Ask your mother, wait where is your mother?”
“ I don’t know.”
Patrick licked his melting ice cream cone and accidently touched it to the plate glass window in front of him, leaving a small dollop of vanilla ice cream that instantly began sliding down the glass.
“What’s this one called Daddy? What is it?”
David Van Patten reluctantly turned his eyes away from the busty brunette mother of two in front of him.
“What is this one?”
“Ah this one’s called the Iceman. Let’s see here.”
David skimmed over the description of the display.
“Looks like they found this guy frozen in the ice, well not this guy this is a model of what he probably looked like. That’s him in the next case there.”
Patrick sucked out the remaining portion of ice cream, crunched into the crispy waffle of the cone, smiled slightly and swallowed before the shriveled man with leathery skin caught his eye. He let out a small shriek and spoke.
“Why does he look like that! Is that really him? Is that a dead person?”
“Well it’s a mummy..”
“Well he was mummified meaning he was preserved. Apparently he was frozen in a block of ice somehow and discovered a few years ago.”
“How old is it?”
“It says here five thousand years old.”
David looked away from the display apprehensively, fearing he’d seen the last of the breasty brunette. A feeling of calm washed over him when he spotted her at the far end of the Iceman exhibit leaning over her stroller.
“Where did you say your mother was?”
“I don’t know.”
Patrick ate the tip of his ice cream cone and held it in his mouth as long as he could. The chocolate in the tip of the cone was his favorite part. He swallowed it halfway and then brought it back up into his mouth several times before swallowing it completely.
“Daddy can we see something else I don’t like this display.”
David’s eyes followed the brunette mother with the large breasts. She was moving on from the Iceman display to one on the extinction of Mega-Mammals during the Pleistocene.
“Sure champ lets go see the mammoths.”
“You mean wooly mammoths?”
An English lecturer at the ROK Naval Academy,novelist, and rugged gentleman who treats his Reaganesque coiffure with coconut oil. He has published one novel, Saving Bill Murray, and has two forthcoming, Wine Tasting is Bullshit and In Remembrance of Things Lost. He is represented by Lucas Hunt of Orchard Literary. Send him a tweet @joshuanewett
Cover Photo: “Banky’s Caveman” Lord Jim (https://www.flickr.com/photos/lord-jim/)