It was only in the second before the club made contact with the back of his skull that he realized that they had crept up on him.
He'd been squatting on the ground, trying to set light to a bundle of twigs and branches he had collected. Beside him lay a plump white rabbit, the result of his morning hunt. He'd been humming to himself, cheerful at the thought of a good meal when the wooden club crashed into his cranium.
The last thing he remembered was his attackers walking off with his lunch as he lay slumped on the icy ground.
But where was he now?
It was dark. And cold. Freezing cold. He tried to open his eyes but they seemed to be sealed shut. The cold made him want to shiver but he couldn't move an inch. Had they tied him up and taken him too?
He struggled desperately, trying to break free. And then he heard the cracking. Now he had a new reason to worry: cracking usually means ice, and you wanted to be neither under ice nor above it when it started to crack.
At first the cracking was a low, distant sound. But he could feel it heading towards him. It grew louder and louder until suddenly, a much louder crack right next to him. And then he was free. And he was falling. There was a moment of bewilderment as he fell through the air, then he hit the ground with a thud.
Sometime later he opened his eyes and found himself looking into a blue sky. He hadn't seen a blue sky in a while; it was rare for the clouds that enveloped the earth to part and let him peer into the abyss. He tried to move his arm and to his surprise found that he could. He stood up and looked around him. There were melting pieces of ice everywhere. Up high above he could see the icy cliff it must have come from; where he must have come from. That's when he noticed how hot it was.
The sun bore down with an intensity he had never seen before. The ground beneath him burned his feet. When he took in a breath it was like inhaling fire. The landscape was dotted with green and brown. Where was the ice? Where was the snow? They had covered every inch of the land for as far as he could remember.
He walked for what seemed like hours, trying to make sense of this strange world. By now his stomach rumbled and his throat was parched, but he couldn't find anything to eat or drink. Finally when his legs were about to give up on him, he found respite from the sun under a tree. Within minutes he was asleep.
The next thing he remembered was shaking. He woke up with a start and tried to stand. His arms and legs were tied. It was pitch black and the ground underneath him was shaking violently. After a few minutes of struggling he stopped trying to move.
Sometime later a bright light shone on him through one side of the darkness. He turned himself towards the light and gasped. There stood four men looking at him. They looked strange: almost completely hairless faces, their bodies draped in white cloth. For a few moments they started at him and he at them; it seemed as if everyone was unsure what to do next. Then when one of them began to walk towards him he started to panic. He struggled manically, grunting and moaning, trying to break free. The man got to him and turned him to one side. He felt a sharp pain on his shoulder and whimpered. Then, for the third time that day, Toto felt himself losing consciousness against his will.
It would be a long time before he understood what was happening to him. The white-cloth men (and there were some women too) taught him their language. It was difficult at first, but they were patient and he learned fast. He learned he was from two hundred and fifty thousand years ago. He had been frozen in ice, in a glacier on Mount Kilimanjaro, and when the ice melted he had come free. The world had changed a lot since his time. He spent years at the lab learning about this new world from the white-cloths, whom he later learnt were called researchers.
Once he got over the shock of it all, this bizarre new world fascinated him. He developed an obsession for the big shiny rocks you could sit inside that would take you across the land at great speed. He spent hours by the side of roads, looking at them pass him by, and even had the researchers drive him around as he stared out from the passenger seat. How much easier hunting would have been if he had these back then! Later he also learned that no one had to hunt anymore. Now they just went to a place filled with meat and got what they wanted, already cut, wrapped, and ready to cook.
It was almost five years before the researchers thought Toto was ready for his new world. Their research on him was also done. They had learned many interesting things from his blood, skin, and hair. They listened eagerly as he told them of his life in ice-age Africa. People came from far and wide to meet Toto. He was interviewed and broadcast on television.
One day he woke up to find the researchers chattering excitedly. "What's happening?", he asked them. "We've found another body in the glacier. Not far from where you were found. It's frozen solid and remarkably well preserved."
A few hours later he was staring at it. He recognized the body immediately. It was one of the three who had stolen his rabbit. A stone tipped spear stuck in the dead man's chest made the cause of death clear. So he had been betrayed by the other two who didn't want to share the spoils. As Toto looked at the body he found himself laughing bitterly as he said, "karma's a bitch". There was a moment of silence and the researchers looked at him, confused. He said nothing more and a few seconds later they were back to cleaning the carcass.