Short Story: Giants

GIANTS
Copyright © June 2014
Dennis Celano

The blazing August sun was relentless, scorching the earth until the crops had become dry and brittle. Tumbleweeds blew across the farm yard, and gusts of hot air gobbled up the dry straw, swirling them upwards into mini dirt devils. A blistered face old lady, wearing a tattered straw hat, dragged a squealing pig from the hog pen. In front of the open pig sty, a young boy not quite old enough to drive, backed up the weatherbeaten Chevy pickup truck through the open gate.
      “Charlie we have nothing left except our prize hog Toby and this old pickup truck. You must take Toby to the Farmers Market and get a good price so we won’t lose the farm. “
      “Don’t worry Grandma. You can trust me.”
      Charlie helped his Grandma load Toby onto the truck and slammed the tailgate shut. It was late morning when he started the truck and drove down the dusty road waving goodbye to his grandmother.
      On the way to the Farmers Market Charlie came upon an old hitchhiker in tattered clothes who was bent over due to the weight of a heavy backpack. Charlie felt sorry for the old man so he stopped and picked him up.
      “Where are you headed Charlie asked?”
      “Nowhere and everywhere.” The hitchhiker responded.
      “Well, I’m going to the Farmers Market about ten miles down the road. I can take you at least that far.”
      The hitchhiker turned around and noticed the large sumptuous pig lying  contently in the bed of the truck. “Is your pig for sale?” He asked.
      Charlie, being the honest boy he was, explained to the hitchhiker that he had to sell Toby to keep his grandmother’s farm.
      The hitchhiker thought for a moment. “I don’t have any money, but I do have a treasure map that is worth millions. It will lead you to a spot in the desert where you will find more gold then you could ever imagine.”
      Charlie’s eyes opened wide. “I don’t understand, why don’t you keep it for yourself.”
      “Well, my boy. I am old and I don’t think I could even carry so much gold. You seem like an honest boy, I’ll trade you the treasure map for your pig and after you find the gold, you can bring me my fair portion, if you see fit.”
      Charlie couldn’t pass up such a great deal. He thought about how much his Grandma would be pleased that he had made such a shrewd deal.
      When they reached the Farmers Market Charlie traded Toby to the old hitchhiker for the treasure map and thanked him for such a marvelous opportunity. Charlie was so excited, he rushed back to the farm to tell his grandmother the good news. It was nightfall when he ran into the farm house and unfolded the map on the kitchen table.
      “Look Grandma, I traded Toby for this treasure map. It will lead us to more gold then we could ever know what to do with.”
      Charlie’s Grandma was furious. “Charlie, how could you trade Toby, our prize pig, for something so worthless as this piece of paper?” She leaned forward on the table, put her hands on her head, and began to cry.
      The reaction of his Grandma was not what Charlie had expected. He bowed his head in shame and went up to his bedroom, refusing to eat any dinner.
      The next morning, Charlie was determined to show his Grandma that the treasure map would indeed lead him to gold. He folded the map, placed it in his satchel, and left without telling his grandmother where he was going. He traveled out into the desert, and by early afternoon he located the road that led to the spot marked with the X. The road stretched in a straight line for hundreds of miles, through a desolated gray landscape.
      Charlie traveled for several hours in the stifling heat and soon passed a Grand Canyon over a mile deep. The temperature had risen to one hundred and eight degree’s and there was no shade to be found anywhere. Up ahead he saw a vast lake rippling on the horizon, but he soon realized it was just a mirage. The  intense glare of sun reflected off the desert floor. He traveled several more miles down the road when he began to notice the mirage was slowly rising into the sky. The more he looked the more he felt a sense of vertigo coming over him. Stretching across the entire horizon, the blue azure sky was being lifted up as if someone was raising a curtain. And below it, for as far as the eye could see, there was an ominous dark cloud approaching.
      The contrast was stark. One side of the sky was bright and clear, and the other side was a massive black shadow as dark as nightfall. It was as if the sky was being devoured by an evil darkness, maybe to never return again. It must be the end of the world? He thought to himself.
      Charlie pulled the truck over to the side of the road, and stepped out to take a closer look. He shaded his eyes blocking the sunlit portion of the sky and stared. Within seconds, the dark shadow started forming detailed features. He could see, long sweeping contours, and geometric shapes with many straight lines, shooting off at different angles. It was as if he was looking up at the bottom of some gigantic flying object, the span of which spread from horizon to horizon. It was so immense he couldn’t even guess how large it was.
      All of a sudden, he heard enormous claps of thunder crashing down on all sides of him. Then slowly, one by one, three long shiny tubes with flat circular pads on the bottom dropped out of the darkness. They dropped like shafts of sunlight, slowly descending until they were firmly planted on the ground.
      The metal cylinders looked to be at least a block wide and stood at least two thousand feet high, and they were separated from one another by at least ten miles. From Charlie’s vantage point, he felt tiny, as if he was standing beneath some huge upside down fortress, a fortress being held in the air by three gigantic cylindrical legs. Charlie wanted to turn and run, but there was nowhere for him to go. The shadow was all consuming, reaching from east to west, with all the land in between contained within its grasp.
      Charlie’s body shook in fright as he heard a loud whirring sound coming from overhead. A swirling pillar of smoke dropped out from the bottom of the craft like a winding corkscrew, and quickly touched the ground fifty feet in front of him. Within the mist Charlie could see long wavy tendrils, lowering strange objects to the ground. They were odd looking people, fifteen to twenty of them, dressed in soiled uniforms, miner helmets, and goggles. Each miner was attached to a tether, and when they reached the ground, they spread out and began digging with their shovels and pick axes. Within seconds, one of the miners saw Charlie and approached him.   
      “You must leave quickly, the Giants will be here soon.”
      “Giants?” asked Charlie. “Why on earth would Giants come to this desolate area?”
      “They’re here for the gold. We are their slaves who do their bidding. If you do not leave quickly they will also make you a slave.”
      Charlie felt a shiver spreading from his spine right down to his feet.
      “There is no where to hide, what shall I do?”
      The miner held out a pair of goggles, and a shovel.
      “You must pretend you are one of us. The Giants are so large they will never notice that you are among all of us.”
      Just as Charlie put the goggles on an opening formed in the side of the craft and a ramp dropped out. Two Giants the size of the Empire State Building stepped out of the craft wearing silver space suits. Charlie felt like an ant in comparison to the Giants. As the Giants planted their feet in the desert sand the ground shook like a terrible earthquake. Charlie was suddenly startled by voices booming in the wind.
      “HA HA HA HO HO HUM.” Came thundering down from the sky.
Charlie adjusted his goggles and started digging, hoping the Giants would not notice him. Soon one of the miners struck a large vein of gold and held up a six inch nugget for the Giants to see.
      “HA HA HA HO HO HUM, keep digging for gold my little ones, be it may or be it might, you need to fill all your sacks before tonight.”
      By the end of the day the miners had filled twenty large sacks of gold and were pulled back up into the craft by the tendrils. As the last miner was lifted into the swirling pillar Charlie noticed an empty tether. He grabbed for it and was drawn up into the craft.
      Once inside, Charlie realized he was in the Giant’s throne room. Charlie ran and hid behind one of the Giant’s space boots that stood over twenty feet tall. His eyes widened as he saw the two Giants detach the miners from their tethers.
      “HA HA HA HO HO HUM, you have done well my little ones, be it may rot be might, you have filled all your sacks before tonight.”
      The Giants herded the miners into in a large metal cage and placed it on a shelf in front of them. Then the Giants sat on their thrones and began weighing and counting their gold.
      “HA HA HA HO HO HUM, it is time to rest my little ones, be it may or be it might, it’s time for you to sleep tonight.”
     Charlie had to think hard. He would wait for the Giants to fall asleep, free the miners, and take several sacks of gold before they awakened.
      It was half past midnight when the Giants finally fell asleep. Charlie tossed a coin up to the miners cage to get their attention. One dusty miner looked down and noticed Charlie waving, so he lowered a rope. Charlie quickly scampered up the line.
      “If the Giants wake, they will squash you like a bug.” Said one of the miners.
      “I’m going to free all of you and take you with me in my truck to a place far away from here, before the Giants awake.”
      The miners looked at each other in bewilderment. Their foreheads creased in worry. They had been the Giants’ slaves for so long they were confused as to what they should do.
      “Don’t worry, everything will be okay. The Giants will sleep till morning, and we’ll be long gone by then.”
      The Giants were snoring so loudly the air shook like a freight train passing by a railroad crossing. Despite his fear, Charlie opened the cage and freed the miners. The miners quietly lowered themselves to the ground and tiptoed past the Giants as they each snatched a sack of gold. Within seconds, they attached themselves to the tethers and started the vortex in the bottom of the craft.
      The Giants jumped up upon hearing the whirring sound of the vortex and immediately noticed the cage was empty. When they saw the miners attached to the tethers, they became furious.
      “HA HA HA HO HO HUM, where do you think you are going my little ones?”
    The miners immediately dropped their sacks of gold and leaped through the hole in the bottom of the craft. But before the miners were able to reach the ground the Giants reversed the vortex and pulled them back into the craft. As soon as the Giants saw Charlie, one of them grabbed him by the collar and pulled him high into the air.
      “HA HA HA HO HO HUM, I smell the blood of a new little one, be it may or be it might, he will be a tasty morsel for me tonight.”
      All Charlie could think about was his poor grandmother. How would she survive without him?
      As the Giant opened his mouth to swallow, Charlie came up with a brilliant idea.
      “Please don’t eat me, I beg of you. I know where there is more gold then you’ll ever need. I have a treasure map in my satchel.”
      The Giants looked puzzled as Charlie opened his satchel and showed them the treasure map marked with the X.
      “There is so much gold there, I will need all the miners to help gather it all up.” Charlie pleaded.
      Now, since the Giants were so greedy, they decided to let Charlie lead them to the gold. They lowered Charlie and the miners to the ground and hastily put on their spacesuits.
      Charlie didn’t wait for the Giants. He loaded the miners in his truck and sped off in a cloud of dust.
      “HA HA HA HO HO HUM, you won’t get far my little ones.” The Giants roared as they exited the craft.
      Charlie raced down the road at over eighty miles an hour, listening to the Giant’s footsteps thundering behind him. He tried to out run the Giants, but each stride they took covered one mile. Charlie was fast approaching the Grand Canyon he had passed by on the previous day just as an enormous dust storm appeared in the west. The dust rose over a mile high and appeared like loaves of bread, stacked one on top of the other.
      Charlie drove into the billowing dust storm with the Giants clumsily following close behind. The dust soon rose over the Giants helmets, preventing them from seeing anything in front of them. When Charlie reached the edge of the Canyon, he wheeled the truck around and waited. The Giants were so blinded by the dust and so disoriented they stumbled right off the edge of the cliff.
      “HA HA HA OH OH DUMB….” The Giants voices echoed as they crashed to their death at the bottom of the canyon.
      Charlie and the miners returned to the spacecraft, gathered up all the gold and drove back to his grandma’s farm where she asked them all to stay and have dinner. Charlie’s grandma was so pleased when Charlie presented her with the gold that she asked the miners if they would stay on as farmhands and help her take care of the farm. From that day forward they were all one big happy family and never worried about money ever again.