Gather around, younglings, and listen. For tonight I shall tell you about our cousins.
You’ve got to understand that we weren’t always the way we are today. Back in the Old Times, we didn’t have our wings, and we scurried along branches to get to fruit, instead of flying to it like we do now, and we didn’t hang like we’re doing as I tell you this story. Other than that, though, we were similar enough to our present forms. We had fur, like we do today, and large eyes. In any event, things were, really, rather good back then. Not as good as they are today, but there weren’t many predators, there was lots of fruit, and even if we couldn’t fly, we could still start to touch the sky.
The problem was that we weren’t really satisfied with that. We worshipped the Twin Orbs even in those days, and to us the ultimate expression of worship was to fly to them. That was before the Twin Orbs made their wishes known to us, and we found that they wished for us to fly in Their Light.
It was around that time when Inhumat summoned us to the tallest tree in the forest. We all attended, no matter how far the journey was. Finally, when we arrived, and the Silver Orb had started to show himself, he showed us what he had requested our presence for.
He threw a rock into the air.
“And what of this?” Inamat asked acidly after a long moment. “You threw a rock into the air. We all knew that rocks can be thrown. Every evening we throw rocks at the Twin Orbs to show them how much we love them. Sometimes we throw offerings of ripe fruit. What is the point of calling us here?” Inhumat held up a finger.
“Ah-ah, brother, but look at where the rock went.” Everyone looked where Inhumat pointed. “Now, I will grant that after it went up it went back down, but I have thought about this for a long time, and I think that if we manage to throw someone with enough force, they could reach one of the Twin Orbs.” This seemed reasonable to everybody, but Inamat had another problem.
“While true, we aren’t strong enough. I have thrown many things, and they never go very far. Even Tuau cannot throw things that far.”
“Very true,” Inhumat admitted. “But yesterday I saw something that threw rocks very far.” Then he pointed at a volcano, and threw a rock at it in case someone wasn’t quite sure what he was pointing at. “That thing there roared and threw rocks and fire. Much later a rock fell from the sky, as hot as the fire that came from that thing. Maybe, if it could throw rocks really high, it could throw one of us really high, and we could get to one of the Twin Orbs!”
Now Tuau had a problem. “How do we get it to throw us, then? Should I punch it?”
Inhumat shook his head. “I have thrown many rocks at it, but it refuses to roar and throw things. I have gone so far as to have my kinmen stampede a rhino into a tree so the tree fell on the thing, and so that the coconuts were thrown at the thing, but it did not roar and throw things.” All were impressed. To use a rhino to throw things at other things – that was a true accomplishment. “I suggest we have someone sit on it and wait. I have gone down, and the thing inside has sealed its home by placing a big rock across the entrance. I think that will be the first rock it throws.”
Inamat thought about this. “I shall go,” he volunteered. “I shall sit on top of the big rock, and hang on has hard as I can.” And with that Inamat scurried down the tree and onto the volcano. “And could someone throw a mango at me?”
Inamat sat there for a very long time – and that was no small task for one as fast as Inamat was. For days Inamat sat there, being brought food and water in banana leaves. Finally Inamat started to get bored.
“This isn’t going to work,” he said on the tenth day, and threw a rock at the ground in frustration. Everyone was quiet for a while. Even the jungle birds were silent. Then, Inhumat spoke.
“I think I hear roaring.” Inamat pressed his ear to the rock.
“It’s heating up,” he reported proudly – and then there was a thunderous roar as the volcano threw rocks and fire into the sky, along with Inamat. Tuau and Inhumat and Atam and dozens more watched in awe as the rock Inamat was on arced into the sky, but soon their vision was blocked by the canopy.
“Do you think he’s all right?” Atam asked in concern.
“I’m sure he’s fine. Now let’s go find him so he can tell us what the Twin Orbs are like up close!” Inhumat said as he scurried off.
They searched for days, but it was only on the edge of the forest when they found Inamat.
“Did you reach the Twin Or—“ Inhumat started to ask, but was cut off by Inamat punching him in the face, flattening it.
“No, I did not. Instead I was nearly burned alive and squashed, all thanks to you.” And Inamat punched Inhumat off the tree. Inhumat fell to the ground, and tried to come back up the tree, but Inamat kicked him, and he fell down again. The third time, Inamat crushed his fingers, and Inhumat had to walk on his hind legs because his front ones were in such pain, and he was no good at climbing any longer.
“May your cleverness be the death of you!” cursed Inamat. “May your children try and fail to reach the Twin Orbs, and further, and may they forever look at them in grief of their loss!”
Inhumat ran away to the wide open spaces, and he never came back. From then on Inhumat’s descendents would be repelled by us… usually. Perhaps those that aren’t are a sign that the curse is wearing away with time, which can only be a good thing. But his sons and daughters imitated their father, and took their strangeness to new levels. They lost their hair, grew to be giants, and became ever more clever, though they still all too often stumble over their own wit.
Because Inhumat’s great-great-great, and many greats besides, grandchildren managed to go to the Silver Orb anyway.
There’s probably a lesson there, though we don’t care to find it.