The hide was found in a remote cave a few miles from the Danube river,
not far from the site where the Paleolithic statuette of the Venus of Willendorf
was discovered years earlier. A note on the hide begins, "To whom it
may concern:". This greeting in English is oddly anachronistic, though
all materials date older than 10,000 years.
The Venus of Willendorf had opened the eyes of scientists to the existence of Paleolithic goddess cults. The text on the hide refers to the statuette briefly and may prove far more controversial. It reads...
To whom it may concern: Call me Dr. Bibendum. Time is a tricky proposition, and despite my apparent security in this Paleolithic era, knowledge of how and why I got here is something I'd rather not describe. I have no way of knowing when this note will be found or whose hands it will fall into.
I want to talk about Venus. The statuette known as the Venus of Willendorf was sculpted in her image. Far from being an exaggeration, it belies how large she did become. None of the other Venus statuettes are as lifelike, because no others were carved from life.
Her real name was Morning Star. She was and always will be a goddess. People loved, adored and respected her. We could not weigh her accurately, but once, using a tree as a lever and a rock as a fulcrum, it took four of the village's largest men and a small child to balance her weight. That was before she retreated to the grotto. Floating in her grotto, she cured the sick, taught herbal healing and led religious ceremonies. People came from all around to ask her to share her wisdom and her powers. To be like her, many local women became quite fat. It wasn't always that way.
It was 15 years ago that I arrived here in the village on the Danube. The village was near to what would later become the village of Willendorf in Austria. I arrived in the Paleolithic unseen and had several weeks to prepare my stores and dwelling before the villagers on the river noticed me. Once discovered, I trooped down into the valley below to meet them. I had studied their dress and copied it, and when I first walked into the village I was every bit the caveman, except for the machete in my waistband, the magnifying lens in my satchel and the savoriest parts of a deer, butchered and dressed for a trading gift slung over one shoulder.
I saw Morning Star the first night, but only briefly in the background. She was a skinny girl becoming a woman, but for some reason the small round globes of her young breasts caught my eye.
I caught her attention too. Although she had reached the mating age, she had not yet found a man. Being an orphan without any sort of bridal gift, she was not highly desired. She later told me that she had been having dreams of a stranger with a strange, flat knife before I came. When she saw the machete, she knew she had to meet me.
She was the first to come to my camp. I was stacking wood the day after our first encounter and had the odd feeling someone was watching. I looked up and scanned the woods. There she was, a radiant nymph trying to blend into the shadows. I tried to invite her in, but it was difficult. We could not speak together except through labored gestures. I offered her some of my food which she accepted gratefully and consumed immediately. In her hunting and gathering culture the next meal was often uncertain. After eating, she left.
But she returned the next day, and the next. Each day, I offered her more, and she ate it all. Soon I started including her in my meal planning. She always ate everything, and then looked at me as if wanting more. Naturally I gave it to her.
By the end of the second week, we had exchanged names. Second helpings had become normal, and I'd swear she looked five pounds heavier. Apparently, I was not the only one to notice.
The third week, a number of men and women from the village came to my camp. They ransacked it, looking at everything and taking what they wanted. A couple of the men forced me to the ground and stood guard while the rest looted.
When the villagers were satisfied and had taken the bronze age trinkets I had salted the camp with, they left.
My hut was in ruins. They had pulled the supporting branches down and trampled on the thatchwork. I was furious. The stupidity of my whole plan had never been more apparent.
Surveying the wreckage of my camp, I suddenly noticed Morning Star. She was sitting on the ground, with her head lowered.
I attempted to straighten the mess, but light was failing and it would take a full day to restore the hut. Food wasn't a problem, since no one had found my hidden stores. I fixed some supper, inviting Morning Star to eat. She ate just one helping and seemed silent and morose. The sun was setting, but she didn't leave. As darkness settled in, she sat beside me near the fire. Apparently she was here to stay.
Morning Star told me later that she was an orphan. The villagers had thought I was a forest spirit come to vex them. After taking what they wanted, they had left her as a gift to placate me. I liked the girl, but no one had asked either of us whether we wanted to be mates. It was an uncomfortable night for us both.
We spent the next months settling in together and learning to communicate. The local language was far more subtle and complex than I had imagined. During the day I farmed, managing to get nearly an acre under cultivation. It was nasty, hard work, but of course I cheated. I had studied and learned how to mine iron to create an edge for a plow. Then fortune smiled upon me in the form of a small colt.
I was helping the village with one of a roundup, which really was no more than stampeding a herd of horses or deer or bison off a cliff. One poor colt had stumbled and fallen just before reaching the edge. The stampeding mother and herd ran past it and over the cliffs to their death. The villagers wanted to push the colt off the cliff with the others, but I bargained with them, exchanging the meat of a grown horse for its life. The colt, Secretariat, grew into a gentle tractable horse who patiently pulled my plow or let me ride bareback upon him. Within five years I had started a breeding ranch and riding school and was on my way to becoming the richest man in the known world. I no longer had to plow. I taught some of the boys and girls of the village simple farming. I explained to the elders about astronomy and timing of the crops.
One thing needed no teaching. Morning Star was a lively girl with no inhibitions. She loved food (and sex), and every day she ate more and more. Whenever I touched her, there was a fat new curve on her body, a little more padding.
As the months went by, I watched with delight as she filled out. Her bony body became sleek and smooth. There was even a brief time that she would have been the center of attraction on any beach in California. But she continued to eat, and her belly expanded, from flat to round to hanging, causing a beautiful crease just above her pubic area. Then the crease disappeared under the advancing sea of fat. Her body quivered and undulated as she walked.
I also fed her mind. Before leaving the twentieth century, I had compiled a Paleolithic version of the Physicians Desk Reference with information on most known folk remedies. The villagers knew some of them, but what I taught Morning Star revolutionized their medical practice. She became a curandera, a shaman.
Because of her new knowledge, the elders of the village now respected and feared her. For her readings she demanded food, the best they had. She had suffered many years at the hands of the villagers and took her revenge by extracting the maximum payment possible.
She must have weighed about 350 to 400 pounds when the statuette was carved. With my help, she had taught a small group the basics of drawing, painting with a blow tube, and sculpture. Our star student was a fat admirer who worshiped Morning Star and carved the statuette as a gift to her. I don't know what happened to it though, but history says where it turned up.
She also set up a school of medicine. Ritual was part of the healing, and statuettes became part of the ceremonies. The women enrolled as girls, received their training, and then went into the world as priestess/curanderas, spreading Morning Star's teachings and worship. We fed the girls like sumo wrestlers, and this man's heart could barely stand the strain. At any one time, a dozen girls weighing from two to three hundred pounds could be seen studying, working, worshipping or eating until they reached embonpoint.
Morning Star loved it. She played the high priestess to the hilt. And she ate. After ten years, she was enormous. Her belly spilled to her knees and her nipples reached her navel. Her fat thighs had three creases between hip and knee, and her calves rolled out over her feet. Two ordinary sized women could hide behind her.
When I was not off horse-trading, Morning Star and I spent many happy hours together. Our favorite spot was a cavern with an underground hot-spring. It was lit by the sunlight that streamed in from an opening in the roof of the grotto. I loved getting her into the water. She couldn't swim, but she floated so well it was no problem. In the water I could twirl her huge body around and around. Her breasts floated on the surface, bobbing and undulating as she moved. As I stroked her, her fat rippled with the water. Diving below and blowing bubbles between her thighs, I would tickle her pubic area. We installed a rope above the pool so I could hold myself up while she floated, wrapping her immense, soft thighs around me. Then I would thrust, with both of us floating and splashing huge waves in the tiny grotto.
Of course I never thought she would try to live in the grotto. By this time, walking was one of her least favorite activities. One day she told me she enjoyed the floating so much that she never wanted to leave the water. When I pointed out that she couldn't live in the pool because her skin would wrinkle, she just looked at me with an angry stare.
I had underestimated my sweet Morning Star. First she had her temple priestesses grease her entire body. She stayed in the grotto pond all day and then summoned me. With a beaming grin, she held up her hands to show me her wrinkle-free fingers. Then she looked me up and down and asked if I knew what sitting in a hot spring all day did to her. I shrugged, and she said, "Come here. Jump in." I was delighted with her response.
To my knowledge, she never left the grotto pond again except to sleep. The warm mineral springs made it unnecessary for her body to generate internal heat, so that everything she ate turned to fat. Her second and third chins now rested upon her chest. Her arms were larger than most women's waists and rippled as she moved them in the water. She ordered the tunnel to the grotto enlarged, and began to hold ceremonies underground.
Her students came from as far as a month away. The size and powers of her priestesses became legendary. Their cures brought faith, faith brought followers, and followers brought riches. The village elders hated her, despite the fact that the steady flow of people to her temple was making them rich. She was the largest, most powerful woman in the world, and I was the richest man.
Then came the earthquake. I don't know what happened in the grotto. I was closing a deal on a horse at another village a day's ride away when it happened. I rode Secretariat home as fast as he could gallop. As I neared camp I heard the roar of fire and the screaming of horses. When I reached our dwelling, I found nothing but cinders. The horse corral had been ripped down; most of the horses were gone and the rest dead. I rode on to my secret stores, but the earthquake had dislodged some boulders, sealing it. As I rode back to the corral I met one of the priestesses leaving the village with all her belongings. She told me Morning Star had died in the quake. The men of the village had decreed the gods had shaken the Earth to prove that they were almighty, not Morning Star, and she warned me to leave immediately if I valued my life.
I'm leaving this note, in hopes that it will be found and that the real story of my beloved Venus will be known. In the meanwhile, I had better go. Secretariat is an old horse. It's many miles to the Mediterranean, and winter is coming soon. ß