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Before the Great Change

by Janet Amalia Weinberg

“May I have your attention, class? I want you to consider this replica of life before The Great Change. We have here a large crystalline box, several bipeds standing in front of it, and another, standing behind it. Can anyone guess what the scene represents?... Muudo?”

“Could it have something to do with torture? It looks like there are tongues and ribs in the box. Did they dismember bodies and put the parts on display?”

“You’re right about the contents of the box. Bipeds are thought to have been so oblivious to the pain of others or so fascinated by it that they were capable of committing such atrocities. But that’s not what this scene is about. Firth, what do you think?”

“I’ve heard they made implements to blow each other up.“

“Yes, we believe that’s true.”

“So maybe these are parts of someone who got blown up and the family has come to claim the remains for burial?”

“You’re partly right. These Bipeds have come to claim body parts, but not for burial. You’ll never guess what they did with the remains, class, so I may as well tell you: They ate them.”

“Teacher, you’re saying they ate... dead bodies?”

”I’m afraid so, Zaeva. Remember, they were primitive. They didn’t simply look different from us, they were different. Profoundly. They had rudimentary philosophy and science but they were violent predators and thought nothing of gorging on corpses. They weren’t even shamed or repelled by the gruesome custom. In fact, evidence suggests it was a sign of well-being.

“Did they also kill what they ate?”

“Good question, Ossya. We think they did initially. But as their civilization matured, a special class or priesthood evolved to do the slaughtering and dismembering. The Bipeds in this model are lined up to collect their share.”

“Like vultures?”

“You could say that.”

“Is the priest the one behind the box in the white robe?”

“Indeed, Tij. The robe may have been a ceremonial vestment or a symbolic shield, worn to distance the priest from the victim.”

“Teacher, why is an Ancestor’s head mounted on the wall?”

“Any ideas, Vril?”

“Well, it’s so majestic and proud and has such magnificent horns.... Was it an object of worship?”

“Actually, it’s a trophy. These bipeds had the barbaric custom of displaying the heads of their victims. Does anyone know what they called our Ancestors?”


“Exactly. Bipeds dominated the serene, peaceful Kowes. Or so they thought. But the more Kowes they consumed or literally ‘in-corporated,’ the more like Kowes they became. And we have but to look at one another to see that, in the end, our Ancestors prevailed.”

Copyright © 2009 by Janet Amalia Weinberg

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