Fantasy

Mark of the Hyena by Mark Fine

Screen Shot 2019-08-06 at 09.48.14Description

When a civilized man collides with a primitive man’s universe, will the true meaning of wisdom be revealed?

Associate Professor Werner, a social scientist at an American college, dismissed the San Bushman of the Kalahari as primitives. His colleagues rejected Werner’s assertion that the San “had no literary accomplishments…and were a trivial people” due to the tribe’s around-the-fire oral history and tradition.

After a challenge made and a wager agreed, Werner was sent to sub-Sahara Africa. The professor expected to his win this bet.

Werner’s journey from civilization to the desert wastelands did not go as planned. N!xau, a proud descendant of the Khoisan, finds the professor near his wrecked car, bloodied, and dying of thirst.

The professor’s deepest fears about primitive man now haunt him. Would the tribesman kill him? Or abandon him? Would Werner pay the ultimate price for his hubris before his mission had begun?

Facing death by dehydration or as a hyena’s meal, reluctantly the American professor places himself at the mercy of the San. Eager to prove himself superior to the Bushman, Werner takes advantage of his hosts caring hospitality.

Then again, in that simple place secrets do not remain hidden, and a cynical Werner learns the frightening truth…

Being civilized and well-read are useless attributes when stranded in a barren desert; and that situational ignorance could be fatal.

Mark of the Hyena is a cautionary tale of conflicting civilizations and the flaw of baseless pride by strangers in strange lands.

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Excerpt

N!xau instructed his hunting party to hold their position. Cautiously, he advanced on the still form partially coated by clinging African earth. Was the stranger still living? He looked up into the blazing sun as though questioning the wisdom of the creator, /Kaggen.

The glare back carved heavy shadows across the deep ridges of N!xau’s prematurely aging face. Neither his god nor the wisdom of his years dispelled his disquiet. The Oryx antelope that had gotten away was a magnificent creature. It stood tall—shoulder-to-shoulder—to that of a grown man. Its horns above a striking black and white masked face stood straight and long—the length of a man’s outstretched arms.

That single animal would have filled the bellies of all twenty-four members of his tight-knit band. N!xau looked closer at the lifeless stranger lying at his feet. The once pale face topped with spiked russet hair was now a blotch of scabs, scrappy beard, and lips cracked deep with raw fissures.

The size of the man lying baking in the desert sun was immense. He had never seen such a giant. He, N!xau, was the tallest of his tribe, standing at five foot four inches. Yet, he expected his forehead would only reach the base of the man’s chest. The San Bushman considered his options. Food was his first concern.

The loss of that Oryx was unlucky. He had promised his people fresh meat, instead, some of his tribe would have to make do with an /inidzi meal of dried grasshoppers and crickets tonight, he thought ruefully. His other concern was his beliefs—a synthesis of material and spiritual lore.

This pale, blotch-stained man had the mark of the hyena, a lesser god—the creature of death. Troubled, N!xau shifted his feet again. The cool haven of shade from N!xau’s shadow now shielded the stranger’s face from the sun. The result—a groan and pained grimace. The big man was alive.


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Mark of the Hynena is part of Electric Eclecti Books.

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