The They
by Alan Sondheim

They have big feet to shield them from the sun. Their king is a dog and they take numerous wives. Once a year they have a festival in which there is rampant sex between husbands and other wives. They can run faster than a gazelle over stony paths. They have small horns on their heads, and two navels. They are very vigilant, and sleep, one eye at a time. Their bodies are covered with hair. The member of the male is enormous and covered with hair as well. Their lips are large, their noses very thin, and their sense of smell is uncanny. They have six fingers. Their skin is striped, adapted for hiding in the midst of the forest. They can bring down a boar with their bare hands. They use uncannily-crafted utensils of a metal hitherto unknown. Their pottery is covered with intricate designs. Their shamans are renowned for harboring secrets of the dead, and they can resurrect the dead. They know substances for turning humans into zombies, almost as if they were dead. They have elaborate funerary rites, but leave the body high on pylons for the birds. They are swift boaters, using craft woven of reeds and thin wooden staves. They have a third eye on the back of their head, in order to see who might be sneaking up behind them. They wear no clothing, even in the harshest weather. They paint their faces blue, and charge fiercely at the enemy, and are almost always victorious. They have a king called Erida. They worship numerous gods, but have a supreme god, who is the moon. They believe the moon is the shadow of the sun and the sun is the shadow of the moon. They believe the moon is the power of the sun, much as a young colt is powered by an older stallion. They believe the period of a woman has the power to slaughter, and that a woman must be protected at that time. Their children run freely until the age of nine, and may have sexual relations with others, both young and old, until the age of fourteen. Their girls never become pregnant before they marry, nor do they have need of abortive substances. They are very beautiful, but among them are some who are exceedingly tall, almost three cubits in height, and some who are exceedingly short. They eat a peculiar animal in their vicinity, which has two heads, and which excretes from the middle. This animal is clumsy, but may suddenly reverse itself, running forwards in both directions. They also eat of a bird which is enormous, five cubits across the span of its wings. The bird has the power to take away their children, which are saved for the goslings in their nests on the sides of mountains. These birds have feet like human hands. There is also a strange animal like a snake with fins which swims in their rivers, and they eat thereof. This animal is oddly spotted, and some say it is a kind of writing. Of music, they play drums much like our own, and a peculiar flute made of wingbones of the bird I have spoken of. Their dances are frenzied and obscene. Some would have sexual relations even while others remain on their feet. They speak a language which has no nouns and no grammar. They point to things in their vicinity when they wish to speak of them. They live long lives, until the age of one-hundred eighty, when they do not wish to live longer, being poor of body. They dye their hair numerous colors and wear it long. They have no names but immediately recognize each other. Their children are brought up by everyone, and play many games. They play a game with peculiar sticks which are suspended from poles half a league apart. They are slow to go to war, but fierce in battle. They have a history of their kings and queens, which they recite on important occasions. They have many holidays, but do not know the week or month.

Pub. May 2001