The Day the Giants Woke
A small story for Terry Whidborne’s Sunday Sketch #4
The day the giants woke was a Wednesday. The world was changing. Seas expanding, ice caps shrinking – drip drip drip, crack crack crack – until the bears of the north thought of little else but hunger and death beyond.
The giants pushed their way up from the heart of the Earth in the realm below. Bit by bit until their crowns poked through the sodden crust.
They blinked in the bright light, and the Great Queen Above blinked back.
The Earth quaked as the giants wriggled and shimmied, shaking coal and grit and bone from their mountainous limbs as they eased themselves free from the realm below.
The oldest giant looked about as he checked his crown for broken redwoods and tumbled mountains. The Mother of All Things had made the crowns herself and the giants wore them now with the deepest of pride.
‘Tis proper time then,’ he said as a house floated by.
‘Time for the gathering and reaping, Old Ark?’ said the smallest giant, brushing saltbush from her splendid moustache (just curled using the finest of lava that very morning).
‘Aye, young Arkling,’ replied the oldest giant. ‘Gather what birds, beasties and innocents ye may. It would break the Mother’s heart full through to see them drownded.’
Bowing to the Great Queen Above, so as not to appear impolite, the giants strode off about the Earth and began gathering and reaping. The creatures they gathered they placed safely upon the crowns they wore. Some crowns were wrought from mountains of ice which creaked and sang with each step, others were fashioned from forests of trees long displaced by smouldering cities.
And all the while the waters rose as the giants gathered and reaped. They toiled while the Great Queen Above shone and while the Pale King watched on as she slept. They wandered far and wide, filling their crowns as the waters lapped at their knees, then hips, then chests.
When all was done, Old Ark called the others to him, for he himself had stayed to gather the old ones who lived at the heart of the realm above. The Mother of All Things loved the old ones most of all, and they, in return, tended the realm above with the gentlest of touches.
The others answered Old Ark’s call, carrying all they could carry on their crowns.
‘Where is the youngest Arkling?’ asked Old Ark, searching for her face as the others placed themselves around the great red rock, the heart, now submerged in the rising waters.
‘I am here,’ said the smallest giant, tears falling from her diamond bright eyes, as she took her place in the circle.
‘Your crown is not but half filled, Arkling,’ said Old Ark.
The Arkling bowed her head and hid her hands under the waves. ‘They chopped at my arms and scoured my back with fire and metal and called me devil.’
Old Ark nodded, while the harvest was joyful reaping took its toll.
‘Come, young Arkling, you have done all you could,’ he said, reaching out to take her hand as the waters stilled. ‘Tis time to sleep ’til the waters fall.’
‘Will they remember us?’ said the smallest giant, her eyes growing heavy, her tears drying.
Old Ark smiled and closed his eyes. ‘Mayhap. Every now and then and again, in stories.’