Theory of species extinction
It was the time when the Sun was at its highest point of its road, when Jafet came into the tent.
—We have a problem.
—What is it, my son?
—It turns out that…
—Old man! —Cam, who had entered five steps later than his brother, interrupted.
—What do you want, Cam? Can’t you see I’m talking to Jafet?
—Who the fuck made these plans?
—More respect, they were delivered by Yahveh Elohim!
—Then, the idiot is you, oldster.
—Blasphemous! —The father threw himself, scuff in hand, to hit his son.
So, Jafet interrupted:
—Wait, Father. Though rash, Cam is right. I think there is a problem.
—What did Yahveh Elohim say, precisely, about the measures?
— “And you shall do it this way: three hundred elbows long, fifty elbows wide and thirty elbows high”.
—Elbows by the Babylonian or Assyrian system?
—Elbows are elbows, here and in Egypt!
Cam interjected saying.
—Will you tell me, silly old guy, how do we put all these animals in there?
—Yes Father, we checked.
—That’s right, father. They don’t all fit —Jafet added.
—It can’t be…
—But, what do we do?
—Ask Yahveh Elohim.
—He’s not answering! He ordered me not to call him anymore and to handle things on my own.
—Well… you bother him a lot…
In that moment, Naama came into the tent:
—What’s going on here?
—Mother…—Jafet started, but Cam interrupted him.
—Old lady, the measures are all wrong.
—Yes, mother —Jafet insisted —We were just telling that to our Father.
But then, Naama exploded:
—There you have it! You are a moron. I told you, I told you “Are you sure?” “yes”, you answered. See? You can’t be trusted with anything. I ask him for an ounce of bread, and the mister goes and brings me two mignons. I tell him to buy me a piece of flax fabric and he brings me cotton, which loses it’s color on the second wash. What are you going to do now?
—I don’t know. I…
—Don’t worry, Father… —Jafet said, trying to bring some optimism, but Naama wasn’t her anymore:
—And he wants to build such an artifact, when the closest he’s ever been to the water was that one time he took a bath!
—It is how I say. We’ll have to take them all swimming.
—What are you talking about? —Sem said, the youngest brother, as he entered into the tent.
Naama went on, furious:
—Your Father! The chosen one! The righteous! Two years spending all our savings on this wooden thing! Not even visiting our parents, much less holidays at the Urartu mountains. And what for? For the good man to mess it up with the measures. And he blames Yahveh Elohim!
—I don’t blame him…! —the Father defended himself. But Naama went on:
—Didn’t you think about the neighbors? I’m tired of hearing them say: “There goes the crazy man with his little boat”. “So it’s going to rain a lot, mister?” “Why doesn’t he invent the umbrella, instead?” And you go and feed those gossiping people, who laugh at our faces. I hear them, already, saying, “Do you have any room for rent?” “And a rubber boat? Why doesn’t he better take the hippo on a rubber boat?”
—And which is the problem? —Sem said, as pragmatic as always.
—What? —Naama Said.
—What? —Cam Said.
—What? —Jafet said.
—What? —the Father said.
—Get rid of some of them.
Even though Naama didn’t miss the fact that “get rid of them” meant “do it while I watch you doing it”, typical Sem, she immediately saw the advantage of the proposal. And decided to defend it, as a way to save something from the imminent derision she was about to suffer from the neighborhood gossip.
—Never! —the Father said.
—Shut up, oldster —Cam said.
—Could be… —Jafet said.
That night, a weak candle shone, as Sem danced outside, to a crotale song; the family was making the list, under Naama’s harsh gaze.
—Triceratops? —the Father asked.
—No. We said nothing that weights more than two hundred talents —Jafet said
—The elefant, then?
—That one fits by this little.
—Mermaids? —he asked again.
—I see —Naama said —He wants to stare at her boobs.
—They come from the water —Cam said —they can handle it on their own.
—Unicorns? Centaurs? Pegasus?
—Horses are very similar, and they are already inside.
—They will be very hot.
—What are those?
—Kind of like the ostrich.
—And which is which?
—Leave them both.
—They will burn the ship.
—What do we want lions with wings for?
—The horns don’t fit. Besides, we already have the elephant.
—We already have the other sloth, which is smaller.
And so they went on, all night.
A month later, the water started rising and the arch went away. On deck, without looking back, Noah smiled. Yahveh Elohim smiled with him.
The animals that were left behind on the isle that used to be the family’s homeland, could only stare, without understanding. Some cried.
By Daniel Frini.
Daniel Frini was born in Berrotarán, Argentina on 1963. He is a Mechanical Engineer, and writes in several newspapers, magazines and blogs in Argentina. His fiction has won several awards and has been translated into several languages. He founded the literary group “Heliconia” and leads the virtual workshop “Máquinas y Monos” for legendary Argentinian sf-magazine Axxón.