HASH PLANET II
“This is a rare treat. We’ve located a large pack of hominoidea hashii in their natural environment. This crowded, beer-smelling cave is known as the Left Luggage Room, and it’s the ideal place to begin tracking the movements of this fascinating group of animals.
“Here, we see them engaged in what appears to be some form of organisation. One of the hairless silverbacks – they call him Pimp, judging by the vocalisations – is attempting to command the attention of the pack, with occasional success. He appears to be making shapes on the floor with a ground-up plant substance, a remarkable instance of tool use and arguable communication amongst these unusual anthropoids. You can see that not all of them are paying attention to Pimp, and some aren’t even there, having gone to hide their personal possessions from the depradations of local scavengers.
“And suddenly they’re off! The speed and agility of hashii varies enormously from specimen to specimen. This pack is unusually large, especially for the time of year, and there is evidence that a related group of lesser simians – Monkey Runners, cacamouth seatonii – have associated themselves with this group. Here we see further evidence of their attempts to communicate: marks left on the ground, apparently by Pimp, which the hashii are examining and attempting to interpret. Their vocalisations are loud and repetitive, calls of ON ON and CHECKING being most common. There are intriguing moments when the sounds they make almost resemble human swearwords. The ineffectiveness of their communication is apparent from the frequent confusion and changes of direction in their movement. A division is clear between the front of the pack, casting about for prey, and those at the rear who spend much of the time standing still and scratching themselves.
“Their chosen route takes them roughly south. The pack spends some time running through streets, and you can clearly see the primitive awe with which they contemplate large human structures such as detached houses. At some prearranged signal they divert from well-lit areas into the darkness and mud of farmer’s fields. This is their natural environment, and it appears they even have a vocalisation for it: many times they make a noise like “shiggy”, often in a questioning tone. As you can see, Pimp continues in his attempts to keep the pack organised, directing loud calls at the stragglers and those who lose their way.
“They lope through fields for more than a mile. For the most part they stick to paths, though eventually they abandon those altogether to cross a ploughed field; their objective is the level crossing at the Metro line, an object which Pimp indicates with the sound ‘bridge’. Another silverback, apparently referred to as Sab, replies with ‘level crossing’. They display a surprising degree of coordination in shepherding the slower members of the group away from the relative danger of the train tracks, almost as if they understand what they are for.
“This brings them to South Wellfield. The tiredness of the hashii can now be seen from their lolling tongues and dragging of knuckles. They’ve been on the move now for almost an hour without food or drink; surely they will soon run down some prey, or descend upon some forage, to keep them going.
“And there it is! They’ve identified a pub called The Beacon and invaded it en masse. The bar staff seem a little disconcerted by the irruption of two dozen red-eyed, sweat-dripping primates. Deciding that cooperation is the safer approach, they hand out beer with only slight reluctance. The hashii drink rapidly and greedily, and soon their Pimp is calling them together again.
“Once again they mill out into the streets of Monkseaton. Now their spirits are high: you can see how they spread across roads, calling raucously to one another, paying little heed to the risks posed by vehicle traffic. At an individual level hashii are poor navigators, but in a group they seem always to be aware of their destination and their distance from it, even though the powder trail they follow is inconsistent and impressionistic at best.
“They return to the Left Luggage, tired but animated, a little over 80 minutes after they left and gather in the car park outside. It’s believed that this grouping, known as a circle, serves some sort of ritual purpose in the pack life of the hashii – unique vocalisations which almost resemble music are used in this event. More beer is consumed. Ticks are picked off.
“We still see Pimp attempting to control the pack, with limited success. A younger specimen, referred to as Ion Dick, plays a sort of supporting role, whilst another silverback they call Counterfit disburses objects of interest: primitive clothing, for the most part. Pimp attempts to distract the louder members of the group by handing out scraps of ribbon, a tactic which works well on these simple-minded creatures. The origin of the ribbon is poorly understood, though it seems likely that Pimp has scavenged them from wherever it is he’s working this week.
“It becomes clear that one of the hashii has travelled from a pack very far away, having somehow migrated from Australasia. The lesser specimens, the seatonii, are separated out as a group and forced to drink beer whilst the larger primates produce a remarkable imitation of music, almost resembling the theme tune to a popular 1960s TV show.
“Perhaps the most intriguing detail is evidence of numeracy amongst these creatures. It has long been argued that only members of genus homo possess the intellectual ability to count and use mathematics, and yet it becomes apparent that at least two of this group have been enumerating their activities. This is evidently related to a belief in the significance of numerology, as Pimp is seen to claim a round number of r*ns under his leadership, before Counterfit pisses on his chips by correcting his maths.
“Consumption of alcohol continues throughout the night. Some of the hashii have identified the strongest available source of ethanol, a beer known as Very Bad Kitty, and proceed to consume every last drop of it, making themselves incapable of normal behaviour in the process.”