Read The New ICE MUMMIES Excerpt:
In the quest to gather authentic material for TIME TROVE, I went to Russia on a research adventure to interview Svetlana Yashina and her team about everything concerning the miraculous recovery of a flower that had been extinct for 30,000 years. Her science team recovered 32,000 year old seeds from a rodent's nest 125 feet deep in the Siberian permafrost, wrapped in wooly mammoth fur. During the filmed interview, fellow team scientist, Stanislav Gubin, told me of a clan of frozen humans he came across at the same level, logically making them approximately from the same time. Fascinated, I asked him what his forensic research on them revealed. He told me there was none conducted because he feared they had died of a disease and didn't want to chance it might be one our species had not encountered since. At that point I believe the film crew caught my jaw hitting the floor in response. Often the research for one book reveals the premise for another. Such was the case here. The following is the prologue for ICE MUMMIES:
Kah and his hungry nomadic clan crouched low, eyes wide, as the fiery ball ripped through the puffy white clouds overhead with a thunderous roar and disappeared beyond the hillside ridge just ahead of them. He had never seen a shooting star in daylight before. The Siberian sky would occasionally fascinate him with meteor showers at night, tiny bright dots streaking and vanishing. This was low and blazing and gone in an instant. Kah turned his attention to the ridge. He wanted to see more and ran to it.
From the ridge-top a valley opened far and wide. Miles of rolling meadows and ponds, below a sunny blue sky with scattered clouds, but no sign of the blazing rock that so captured their attention just moments before. Suddenly, something else seized his gaze. About a half a mile away, grazing by a pond. A wooly mammoth. Food.
Kah backed away from the ridge-top and crouched so only the mammoth remained in view. He turned toward the rest of the clan and waved for them to come quickly. He examined the chipped stone head of his spear. It would need to be very sharp for the mammoth’s thick hide. He pulled at the leather strapping that secured the head to the staff. Strong and tight. As excited as he was at the prospect of eating, something he had not done in two days, he remembered the last mammoth and the two clan men who had died from it. One during the hunt and the other two days later from injuries.
The wind was blowing toward him. The mammoth would not smell their approach. Three men, four women, one of them pregnant, and two children, both girls, huddled around Kah as he laid out the plan. In the valley below, shallow trenches had been forged from the past rainy season which fed the pond the mammoth was grazing by. Kah carefully explained how the women and children would stay behind in perfect silence while he and the other three men would crawl low and slow through the trenches and surround the mammoth. And as quiet as a tiger for the big ears could hear what they could not. He would take the trench that ended up closest to the mammoth and throw the first spear behind the front shoulder, hoping to penetrate the lung. The other would throw in accordance to the direction of escape. He warned to be careful to stay in the trench for protection from a charge. If his throw was good, they would track the wounded beast down and attack again from a stronger and safer position.
They all nodded in agreement as Kah knew they would. He was their trusted leader. Keeping them all safe and fed was a challenge, but within their small clan no one was more capable and worthy of the task.
Kah led the men away from the ridge and view of the mammoth, down the side of the hill and into their designated trenches. Divided, they moved slowly as one, inching their way closer and closer to the object of their survival. Kah alone was allowed to look up through the high grass that bordered the top of each trench. If there was any change of plan, he alone would call it out. Spear in his right hand, he crawled with a watchful eye on the grass. It was leaning toward him, which meant the mammoth’s keen sense of smell would not detect them until it was too late.
The shallow trench was dry and winding. He crawled faster through the winds and slower on the straighter runs. Halfway to the mammoth he slowly rose up to the grass and peered through the blades. The giant beast was still grazing, its tail casually wagging in peace. Another good sign. Kah felt his heart beat faster as he moved closer, but then saw something that stopped his advance. A coiled snake sunning on a rock in the center of the trench. Any other time it would be easy food, but now it was an obstacle. He didn’t want to throw anything that could make noise so he crept closer and reached the head of his spear out. The snakes head rose in a hiss but then slithered up the sandy bank and into the grass. The grass. It had stopped leaning. The wind had stopped. This was bad. Very bad. A shadow crossed the trench and Kah looked up. An eagle. He knew the eagle saw everything and hoped it would stay away. Nature had subtle warning signs and he hoped the Mammoth was too content to be distracted by an eagle looking for anything scared from its rest by approaching humans, but if the wind changed the hunt would end and their hunger would continue.
Suddenly the eagle tucked its wings and fell into a stoop. Kah stopped breathing as the huge raptor dropped to earth between him and the mammoth. Something had been stirred and the eagle who sees everything was immediately on the attack and hit the ground with a thud, it’s long talons instantly ending a scurrying rodent’s life. The mammoth lifted its head and the grass in front of Kah’s eyes started to lean in the beast’s direction. What else could go wrong, he thought. Nothing else needed to as the mammoth’s trunk lifted and virtually pointed at Kah. The huge beast paused, staring in Kah’s direction. Kah’s only hope was that it would charge him. It didn’t. First one step and then another in the opposite direction.
Kah stood up and called to the others. The hunt was over as the Mammoth trotted away. To follow now would be fruitless. The eagle was enjoying its meal and Kah thought he might throw his spear in the direction of the raptor. He had never eaten eagle before but just the thought of killing it was enough to cause him to run at it, spear in hand. An impossible task, for certain, but his kindled anger knew no other response for the loss of three day’s food when the clan needed it most. The Eagle was unconcerned with the human that moved in relative slow motion. Kah threw, the spear traveling fast and sure and hit exactly where the eagle had been, a very long time ago. Even the rodent was gone. Kah screamed as loud as he could, but another thunderous roar suddenly emerged that sizzled the air with deafening crackles and sent Kah and his men to their hands and knees.
The blazing meteor hit with a tremendous explosion. The earth shook violently and Kah’s face hit the dirt hard. Blood gushed from his nose and he felt pebbles in his mouth. He spit them out and saw some teeth. Dizzy, he struggled to his feet and turned to see his men doing the same. Undiscernible screams came from behind. Fear entered him and he quickly snapped around toward the hillside where he had left the women and children. They were yelling and jumping and pointing past him. Kah turned to see what they were pointing at and his eyes widened. He grabbed his spear.
The four men sprinted, jumping over trenches and crevices, through puddles and around ponds. The mammoth struggled desperately to get to its feet but Kah and his men were suddenly on it, sending their sharp spears deep into the beast’s flesh.
The women and children arrived and soon a fire was established and camp was set. Normally, a mammoth would not only be a great source of food but also of strong warm clothing, but crippling pea-size projectiles from the meteor’s explosion left half of the hide burnt and riddled with tiny perforations. The women skillfully skinned the beast with razor sharp flaked-stone, sliced off slabs of thick red meat and laid them on hot rocks that surrounded the fire. As the meat cooked Kah and the hunters cut some meat off the mammoth’s skinned head meat and ate it raw, as was their custom. Kah struggled chewing with sore gums and less teeth. The other men watched him grimace as he ate but wouldn’t dare say anything. He didn’t care so much about the pain as he swallowed his first food in days. He closed his eyes and felt energy surge to his limbs, then tore into another piece. Soon the whole clan was fed, full and resting.
Kah cut a heathy slice of cooked fatty meat and ate from it as he walked over to the crater made by the meteor. It was the size of a small pond and oddly littered with round black pebbles. There was no sign of the actual meteor, just the pebbles. He picked one up and examined it. Very light. Hollow, he thought, and wondered if there was anything inside it. He placed it on a flat rock and hit it with another rock. It cracked right open, easily. Inside there was some black powder. He touched it with his finger then brought the powder closer to see. Like ash, he thought. He smelled it. No smell. He put it on his tongue. No taste.
The sun had set and the light was dimming quickly. Kah looked back at the clan. They were snuggling closer together near the fire. They would sleep well with full bellies tonight. He felt tired too. More than usual, but much had happened today. He walked back to them and found his woman. He laid down next to her and closed his eyes.