Aphelion Issue 275, Volume 26
August 2022
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Eat Me: My Dinner With The Last of the Got'a'sniz'scuzmi Tribe

by Mark Edgemon and Robert Moriyama

Good evening. I'm Samuel Winston, and this is another exciting Adventure in the Farthest Corners of the World here on The Travel Network. Or it would have been, if my recording equipment had not been lost during my latest trip through the rain-soaked jungles of Papua New Guinea. No video, no show... But the events that occurred on this expedition were so extraordinary, I'm recording this for my own archives. I'm including some reference materials and stock images -- maybe someday, I'll have the time and resources to tell the story properly. For now, my memories and a few souvenirs will have to do...

Papua New Guinea is a country of Southeast Asia in the Malay Archipelago, which also includes Sumatra, Java, Timor, Sulawesi, Moluccas and parts of Borneo. Archipelago is a term that means a large chain of scattered islands, in Malay's case over 13,000. Rich in nutmeg and cloves, the eastern part of the Malay Archipelago are known as the Spice Islands. I had traveled there to search for the sacred burial mask of the Got'a'sniz'scuzmi tribe, who were reported to live in the outer northern rainforests of New Guinea.

As a master of reading maps, I had not made a misstep in my journey until the moment when I found myself sinking into what looked to be a patch of quicksand. I had been warned by my warm but frigid female friend and attorney, Miss Sue Urass of Manhattan proper, who told me not to go on this foolish trip and further cautioned that the natives with their unfamiliar language might have fun at my expense, virtually eating me alive with mockery, being the first outsider they probably had ever seen. She had even mentioned something about headhunting, although I doubted that any such remote tribe would be involved in executive recruitment.

Sue is a beautiful woman, a goddess of love with one shortcoming, which weakens an otherwise perfect persona; she is cold to the subject of romance, which I have noticed each time I broach the subject. She, the poor girl, covers up her inadequacy of showing salacious passion towards me by sleeping with hundreds of other men, occasionally two or three at a time. I believe I have figured out her dichotomy toward romance, for she must be trying to learn the ways of love before entering into a lascivious, sensual state of animalistic carnality with me.

But I digress... I was up to my chest in this dismal swamp of lukewarm sand and I estimated no more than two minutes remained before I would be submerged, making it terribly difficult to breathe. Not even the mystical techniques I learned on my pilgrimage to the Himalayan monastery at T'ingtang Walla B'ingbang could save me.

Suddenly, there was a rustle in the bushes, giving me both hope and trepidation. Was it help or a wild animal, ready to tear me apart for an afternoon nosh? However, I could take solace in that the animal would drown as well in its attempt to fill its tummy with my remains. Soon after the notion of lying in pieces in some large animal's stomach, the mystery in the bushes revealed itself! Of all the aid I could have wished for, I was surprised to say that my rescuers were in actuality nine naked native men with strange and cautious looks on their faces. This reminded me of afternoon steam baths at the men's club on Long Island. They extended me a branch, which I grabbed onto and pulled myself out of the mire to safety.

The natives grasped my arms and hastened me away from the site of my probable demise to an uncertain destination. I could only imagine that they were concerned that I might be in shock over my ordeal and wanted to get me to their village for a nice hot cup of Earl Grey Tea and possibly some toasted crumpets.

But then it occurred to me that maybe the natives were hostile and had some unpleasant things planned for me. It was at this point that I wished that I had the speed of our current Olympic 100 yard dash world champion, the Russian track star, Iyam Runin Myazov. But I didn't, so I would have to wait to see if I was in the clutches of friends or foes.

We boarded a pirogue -- a canoe hacked out of a tree trunk, not an Eastern European dumpling -- for the last stage of the journey, along the twisting Ndeiram Kabur River. The four natives in our vessel bent their backs with vigor, so we would make camp before nightfall.

I pulled out my digital recorder and began to dictate the experience I now found myself in. "We are floating down the..." and with that, one of the naked savages grabbed the recorder and threw it into the river without a word, an apology or a by your leave. I found that action rude and in bad taste. If they wanted lively conversation, they wouldn't be getting it from me. Fortunately for this narrative, my flawless memory allows me to recount the events that followed with perfect accuracy, especially my own words.

We finally arrived at their village, four miles north of the Ndeiram Kabur River and were greeted by native women who also wore no clothes and had only a small complement of teeth. Somehow their toothless grins took the edge off the allure of their nudity. Compared to their native male counterparts, who all had their parts, counter and otherwise, in plain view, I, dressed in my finest travel attire, must have stood out greatly as a man of desirable qualities. I say that because the native women were looking me over and licking their lips, obviously a sexual gesture to show that they wanted me. What these native women lacked in teeth, they abundantly made up in perception and good taste.

A large breasted native woman with an even larger snake draped around her neck came up to me and licked me on the cheek. I assumed this must be their cultural version of a kiss. I would have licked her also, but the snake around her shoulders had my attention. I concluded that this must be a fashion statement of some kind seeing they had few other ways to express one. I considered the adornment of the snake more of a feather boa constrictor and made a mental note to stay away from the big-breasted woman, for I would not desire to be her snake's main squeeze.

I was escorted to a large pot of boiling water, which I assumed was to be used for my bath. I thanked the ensemble for their kind consideration, but requested more privacy for my sprucing up which they acknowledged while removing my boots. One of the native girls brought over a large sack of jungle vegetation, which were to be prepared along with the main course for the evening.

I asked her, "Did you have the meat chosen for our evening fare?" She replied by feeling my arm, which I took as another sign of flirtation.

As the men began to figure out how to remove my pants, the whiff of the natural herbs and seasonings being thrown into the pot caused me to sneeze. Immediately, there was a hush that fell over the tribe as if they had never heard someone sneeze before. When the next handful of herbs passed in front of my nostrils I sneezed once again to the even greater surprise of my hosts. Without warning, I sneezed again and again, now uncontrollably as the natives began backing away from me with fear.

I tried to explain to them there was nothing to be afraid of -- allergies are not contagious, after all -- but they did not find any solace in my assurances.

And then, the most remarkable thing happened, one of the native girls also began sneezing. And then another one and another one until the entire tribe were sneezing as if they had no immunity to the simplest of civilized man's diseases. My own immune system, of course, is exceptionally robust, since I have always eschewed the tedious round of injections demanded by our pusillanimous governments.

Within minutes, the entire tribes were on their knees sneezing and coughing uncontrollably. I didn't know what to do, so I had some of the boiled vegetables that were simmering in the pot, which was originally designated for my bath. The herbs that had triggered my sneezing seemed to have been neutralized by boiling, and the broth was quite tasty, considering that it was meant to be a spa treatment rather than an appetizer.

Before long, all members of the Gotasnizscuzmi tribe were dead on the ground. This would not make an appropriate concept for my travel show's next episode, so I took some relics from their possessions and started back to my base in New Guinea. It took weeks to find my way through the jungles, but with the help of an ape man who swung through the trees I was able to make it safely.

For my next excursion, I plan on visiting the rarely seen Poopoo Aborigines of the Outback in Australia. If they are really constipated as is rumored, I will introduce an extremely powerful laxative which might bring relief to this group of miniature native peoples.

I conclude this narrative with a few words of wisdom. When exploring unknown peoples of the world, always remember to leave their environment the way you found it. You do not want to upset the delicate balance of their culture.


© 2009 Mark Edgemon

Bio: Mark Edgemon is the owner of The Creator and the Catalyst Studio, providing production work for 700 radio stations nationally, broadcasting stations oversees and national spots for radio and television. Mark is also a scriptwriter and pens fiction in his spare time. His latest text appearance in Aphelion was My Brief Affair With Marilyn Monroe (August 2009); links to an audio version of this story and many other "theater of the mind" are available via the Aphelion Forum "Fun and Games" topics The Audio Story Archive, The Audio Comedy Archive, and The Audio Poetry Archive.

For an audio version of an earlier draft of "Eat Me: ...", produced by Mr. Edgemon and featuring the voice of Jim Meskimen, click HERE

Robert Moriyama is the Aphelion Short Story Editor.

E-mail: Mark Edgemon

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