It’s said by most that according to Cloud Tickler, the last of the giants to live among us, the giants left this world long ago, opting for far shores and a home of their own. It’s also said that Cloud Tickler had a habit of telling tall tales. The accounts of Cloud Tickler’s last days vary as widely as the stories he was said to have told, and so the true fate of the giants remains a mystery. There is one telling of Cloud Tickler’s adventures, however, that is often used to explain the giants’ disappearance from the land, and the unusual amount of earthquakes around the city of Bishmasfa. It’s told like this:
Long ago, giants roamed among us. They were careful, as much as could be helped, to avoid stepping on the small folks’ homes, and the small folk were careful, as much as could be helped, to avoid ending up underfoot when one of the large ones strode by. In those days, it’s said that Bishmasfans were very little; perhaps half the height of people today; so one can imagine the difficulties. The arrangement was the best that anyone could ask for, considering, and Bishmasfans weren’t the sort of people to complain.
When the giants built great towering homes around Bishmasfa, blocking the sun from the small city below, the Bishmasfans lined their streets with colorful lanterns that were cheery and bright. When the giants ate up the cattle from Bishmasfa to the horizon, Bishmasfans became experts on growing vegetables, and trade flourished using the wide, straight roads built by their giant neighbors. Great festivals blossomed under the colorful lanterns, with music and dancing and feasts.
One night, a young giant called Cloud Tickler crept from his giant bed and tip-toed from his giant home to watch the very small folk dancing. He was impressed right away, and the next morning he gave a performance to his parents. Oh the rumble and quake he made! Buildings collapsed as he hopped and skipped. Bishmasfans ran this way and that in terror as his great voice hummed a tune, rattling the skies overhead. And when Cloud Tickler had finished his dancing, the folk of Bishmasfa looked across the ruins of their city with eyes that said ‘enough.’
Cloud Tickler’s parents apologized when they saw what their son had done and offered to help the Bishmasfans rebuild, but the small folk respectfully declined. Cloud Tickler, feeling badly for the trouble he caused began to help anyhow, despite the Bishmasfans’ refusals. He dropped great, triumphant loads of uprooted trees out his window when his parents weren’t looking. The Bishmasfans learned quickly to conduct their work away from the tumbling timber. Cloud Tickler saw stone masons chiseling away and helpfully rolled prime boulders toward them. The stone masons left their work unfinished and did not return.
Seeing little progress in the city and growing piles of supplies, again the giants offered their help to the Bishmasfans. They could bring supplies from far off cities in a day. They could lift roofs into place. Again, the Bishmasfans refused. Those little people worked tirelessly, their endeavors spreading out from the city all the way to the giants’ own homes, but it seemed that for all their work, their poor city remained a mess. The giants ceased walking near Bishmasfa to keep from stepping on their hard working neighbors. Night and day they could hear tiny hammers pounding and saws eating away at boards. Yet each morning, Bishmasfa still looked terrible.
Cloud Tickler noticed lines of Bishmasfans carrying buckets of water to their fields, for their irrigation lay in zigzagged ruins, so he ran to a nearby lake and sucked half the water into his cheeks. Quickly, he ran back and spit the water over the thirsty fields. What a delight he got, seeing how the Bishmasfans, now relieved of their work, also got to have a nice swim on such a warm day. Encouraged, he ran back to the lake and fetched another cheek-full of water. The tiny fish at the bottom of the empty lake waved their tails at him, and his mouth full of water, he waved back, being unable to say a proper hello.
The giants, waking the next morning to find Bishmasfa mysteriously flooded, offered a third time to help. The Bishmasfans again refused, and this time with less of their usual politeness. The hammers and saws droned on.
And then one day the hammers and saws fell silent. The world, it seemed, felt silent for just a breath or two. And the largest rumble this land has ever felt vibrated from one side of the continent to the other as the giants’ homes crumpled to the ground. A cheer rose from Bishmasfa that could be heard nearly as widely.
In the days that followed, the giants were not seen. Some say they fell under the weight of their mighty homes. Others say that they left, realizing they were no longer welcome. But some say they still live nearby, in the mountains, and that Cloud Tickler taught his kin the songs and dances of old Bishmasfa. For every once in a while there is a rumbling, and a rattling, and great quaking.
Bishmasfans rebuilt their city with buildings that sway, and fields raised up to survive floods. Colorful lanterns line their gaily lit streets and festivals bring merchants and musicians and performers from all around. It’s said that the forested hills around the city cover the destroyed homes of the giants, and to this day no locals go near them. And when thunder rattles the sky and rains spit down, in every room you’ll hear at least one Bishmasfan say, “Old Cloud Tickler’s at it again. Best stay out of his way.”
Written by W. C. McClure www.wcmcclure.com. This short story may be shared (and please do); just please be sure to share it in its entirety, unaltered (and including this fine print), with credit given to W. C. McClure. Comments are welcome at www.farsideofdreams.com. Oh, and if you want to show your support, tell your friends about this short story blog – and pick up a copy of “The Statues of Azminan” by W. C. McClure. Thanks!