The Giant at the Bottom of the Earth
The giant was born special. Of majestic ancestry. A magic man, great and tall, as wide as ten men. Hands so huge, like shovels, like carts, like animals digging and ploughing. And the giant had a magnificent voice, which could be heard from far, far away. He could reach out and take the sun in his hands. He could swallow the moon.
This giant lived alone, for he had no family. No one to love him or for him to love back. He was miserable and sad.
He was born alone. His majestic ancestry left him isolated. All his kind were gone and forgotten. An ancient being, his past a fog. And so he looked one day to the sun, high in the sky and glowing bright. He asked the sun, why was he forsaken? Why was he alone?
And the sun told him that the age of giants had ended long ago, and he hadn’t noticed. He was too selfish, too consumed by his loneliness, to see that time had moved on.
And the giant wept. He wept a vast ocean, from which spread many rivers, pouring into lakes. The whole world over the waters spread until finally his sobbing ceased, and he sat on the shore of the ocean and saw all the fish and creatures of the deep swimming and moving through his tears. He saw how people came and cast nets, how they caught the fish and took them back to their villages. How they built boats to hunt the enormous creatures that lurked in the waters. He saw them lure those beasts to the surface, and then impale them with sharp spears. He saw as they were dragged ashore and sliced open, carved up. And the red leaked into the sand. And the ocean became red with the blood of those animals.
Full of sadness, the giant went to the moon. And he asked the moon, why was he forsaken? Why was he alone?
And the moon told him that the age of giants had ended long ago, that it was now a new time for the world. It was the time of men, industry, science. He was an irrelevance, not needed, and not tolerated. He should dig a hole and lie down to die.
And the giant raged. He tore a great rent in the world, and threw the dirt high into the air. When the dirt fell, a range of mountains criss-crossed the world, and between there lay a huge abyss, reaching down into the darkest pit.
Here the giant saw the people constructing towns and cities on the plains in the shadow of those mountains, the snowmelt running into rivers, which powered engines of industry. He saw how they felled the trees on the mountain sides, how they burned the wood and made fires that raged hotter than anything he had ever felt. And as their power and knowledge increased, he saw the people hammer, drill, blast into the rock of those mountains. He saw them dig into the living earth, retrieving vast quantities of treasures and stone to build their Towers higher.
So the giant stared into the pit he had torn into the earth. He saw the black depths, so still and peaceful. And he wondered how far it went. How deep? And if he were to descend, would he emerge somewhere else? Some time else? He wondered if this might redeem him, or take him to where the others of his kind now dwelt. He would no longer be alone.
So the giant packed his things and climbed down into the great crack in the earth. He climbed down out of sight of the moon. Out of the warmth and light of the sun. Out of the way of men and industry and science.
The crevasse was cut down into the earth. It yawned wide, opening into a blackness that consumed the giant entirely. He could feel it all around him, the cold touch against his pale skin. He shivered as he went deeper, clinging to the crumbling rock, his mighty breath swirling like wind through a gorge.
For many days he climbed down. And he grew tired, his hands aching, his muscles weary. How long before a fall? How much further to the bottom?
Several times he looked back up, wondering how far he had travelled. To see the sun, the moon, a light shining down into the pit. But all above was darkness. A great ceiling of night, where no stars shone.
He had never experienced such prolonged, intense night. Never felt an absence such as this. And he found himself muttering, begging, some kind of ritualistic incantation to who he knew not.
And all around him the darkness of the pit descending. All around him the surface of the rock, that black, immutable stone, with no glint or fissure. He thought of marble. He thought of onyx. Of precious stones and minerals, the kinds he once hoarded and eyed with glee.
As the giant climbed down, he felt no wind against his face. Such a stillness around him. Nothing stirred. He was the only living thing moving, the only thing breathing, making sound. And he brought heat with his breath and his beating heart. His sweat poured from his brow into the rent of rock.
He paused, clinging to the face of stone. For now he could hear the dripping of water. The echoing through the earth. So the giant put his feet down, touching solid ground. And he wept and lay on the rocky bottom, thankful for finally reaching the end. Thankful for the relief his body felt, wracked with pain, fingers bleeding.
So the giant slept at the bottom of the world. Curled around himself to keep warm, he slumbered soundly for an age.
And when the giant awoke, it was to noise and the air full of thunder. Great plumes of smoke, dust erupting from all around and falling. A blanket of fine ground black covered his body, and he coughed. His eyes stung, and he cried out at the noise to stop.
But it went on. And the earth around him shook so violently. And there was crashing and the crushing of rock. And the sides of the ravine in which he had slumbered shuddered and shattered, fine fissures snaking up and around.
Such a smell. A harsh, unnatural smell. And eruptions deep in the rock around him.
Never had the giant heard such sounds. Never had he witnessed such a terrible scene of destruction. This is the end of the world, he thought. This is the falling away into abyss of all that there is. To be ground up and crushed. To be chewed upon by the jaws of eternity. To be rendered ash.
The giant struggled to his feet, brushing away the collapse of rock and debris that had fallen over him during his sleep. He took to the great walls of his prison. Hand over mighty hand, to climb up and emerge once again in the light of the sun and the moon. How he would be glad to see them once again. To feel the warmth of the day and the cool of the night. The stars and their bright shining tableaux.
But those walls roared angrily as he climbed. They shook and they crumbled. His mighty hands found little purchase on the broken rock faces, those cliffs climbing so high and far, and he knew he would never reach the sky again.
And so the giant fell. And as he hit the ground, a violent shudder erupted through the deep, and the black rock around him fractured and fell, burying him where he lay, weeping that he would be alone, and forever trapped staring upwards, always searching for the sky.
The giant remains at the bottom of the earth, in the deepest, darkest abyss. Alone and forgotten. Alone and forgetting. He is ancient. He is struggling to be free of the rock, but is ever more becoming the rock. And when he moves and twists, we feel the earth shudder. We see the ground undulate and moan. And the men of the mine, they see their comrades trapped or crushed as the tunnels collapse from the giant’s desperate attempts to free himself and ascend into light.