Long, long ago, before the end of time, I heard a legendary story from my grandpa about what happened between him and a giant unlike others…
It was around dawn, and the day was not yet fully light. Rain the night before had left a thick cloud covering the scene. The music of bugs and the chanting of birds filled the air. Against a background of a slight breeze, which provided a smooth and continuous whistle, consecutive, rhythmic thumps could be heard. These thumps were the sounds of a giant’s footsteps as he was walking to work early in the morning.
Meanwhile, my grandpa and his friends were enjoying the water on the walkway. But a hot day was soon going to make the walkway the death bed of many of his friends. Aside from the heat of the day, the footsteps of the giants would bring to an end the lives of many others. Neither he nor his friends were aware of any of this. They were simply enjoying their water on the walkway.
That morning, the giant who was walking to work bent down towards my grandfather, grabbed a thin stick from the ground, and tried to kill him. Not ready for such an attack in the midst of his breakfast, my grandfather was stupefied, did not know what to do. He just spiraled away to escape the giant’s attack, as we always do in case of danger. But all was in vain; the giant would not give up.
Finally, the giant accomplished what he was trying to do, and thus my grandfather was saved from both the heat and the giant footsteps. It turned out that my grandpa had misunderstood the giant. Normally, other giants would walk on us, or would ignore us, and this giant was the same; or so he had thought. However, this one was trying to put the stick under my grandpa to lift him and place him onto the soil where he could be safe. My grandpa said that he appreciated this help more later when he heard his friends dying on that same walkway.
The story of a giant who was unlike others spread from the family to friends, and became known all around. The world underground rejoiced at the existence of this one giant who was not like others… Maybe there were other giants like him, too; and the underground world kept praying for those giants that they might be protected from things they were unaware of, just as that giant had saved my grandfather from things that he was unaware of.
After my grandfather’s times, his story became a nostalgic tale for the elders and a bedtime story for little ones. The world aboveground became worse than the world underground. Instead of long trees above with their roots under ground, you would see huge, tall rocks in both places. The rocks underground provided water to everyone, but the rocks aboveground only provided water to the giants. The roots of the plants and trees used the marrow of the earth to embellish it, but the long channels that the giants sank into the ground were like huge veins draining the earth to death. We ceased praying for them.
One day, we heard screaming among the giants about an asteroid heading directly towards the earth. The only thing they were worried about was the end of their own lives. We were not surprised by this selfish reaction to that event because of their selfish past on the earth. And the asteroid came…
It was foggy again, but not due to clouds; it was quite dark, but not due to dawn. The fog and the darkness were due to dust spread over the face of the earth. We were fortunate to be able to sustain our lives under such harsh conditions. As for the giants, they were not suffering much from the conditions, as they had taken shelter in special chambers built only for them. Being some of the few survivors of the impact, we were of significant use to them. After using the entire earth selfishly, now they were enslaving us. So, they still lacked our prayers for their protection. Could they ever figure out, despite their hardened hearts, why such tragedy had befallen them?
Not long after that time, we witnessed something totally incredible. One of the giants came out of the protection chambers to do something that was completely unexpected. He looked through his goggles at the sky and tried to take a deep breath. As he was coughing because of the dust in the air, he opened the nylon bag he was carrying. He sat on the ground, dug a hole with his hands, and uncovered the thing in the bag: a daisy plant. Was he going to plant it? But why? The chances of its survival were almost none. What benefit would it bring him, anyway, even if it survived for a day? He looked pleased with what he was doing. He even smiled at a worm that was escaping the hole he had dug for the flower. What was going on in his mind?
It was just at the moment he was about to plant the flower that the earth suddenly started shaking like crazy. The planet was dying because of the deep cracks caused by the impact of the asteroid. Now, neither the giant nor the flower had any chance of survival. He did not know what to do for a while; then he started shedding tears: “Oh my God! Oh my God!”
Then he saw the deep cracks forming near him, shaking and growing. It was as if the planet had started shouting at him in thousands of voices. He could not stand the quakes and fell down next to the hole, as if it were he, instead of the flower, that was going to be buried in it. At that moment, this giant was no different from us: lying on the ground, and seeking his way out of this doom. Who was there to help him? His cries were now screams: “Oh my God! Oh my God!”
All of a sudden, he stopped crying and started talking to someone, but we could not see anybody around: “Please, hold me tight. Do not leave me….” He continued, “But I can’t… I can’t….” Then, he tried to reach the flower that had rolled away from him when he fell down. He grabbed it and cradled it at his chest; but struck by a stone falling from one of the nearby rocks, he fell unconscious. As he was sinking into the growing cracks, we uttered a prayer for a giant who had planted a flower in his heart… The last prayer of worms, the last prayer for giants…
Seth Mette has a PhD in Aerospace Engineering and is currently working as a postdoctoral fellow at West Virginia University. He has a special interest in psychological fiction.