The giants never let us have anything. They kept the best of everything for themselves and tossed their leftovers off the edges of the clouds, where they lived like kings in gleaming palaces of glass and steel.
Those of us down below fought over their garbage like scavenger bugs, and those of us who accumulated the most of it thought we were really something.
But we were all garbage to them.
One day, as I was tending my garden and feeling particularly pleased with the robustness of some tomatoes I’d been carefully cultivating for several months, a massive green hand came down from the sky and scooped them all up. Nothing was left of my tomato plants but a few empty holes in the soil.
I was livid–how dare they? They had everything, and I had nothing.
When I told my brother Simon what had happened, he simply shrugged and asked “Well, what can you do?”
“I don’t know,” I told him. “But I’ve got to do something. He had no claim to those tomatoes. He’s nothing but a common thief, and nobody will do anything about it because giants are too big and too powerful to resist. Well, let me tell you something–I’m tired of it.”
Simon just yawned. “We’re all tired of it, but that’s life,” he said. “It’s the way things are. You’re lucky he didn’t squash you or eat you.”
I informed my brother of a plan I’d hatched to ascend to the clouds and take from the giant’s vaults as much treasure as I could carry, and toss the rest down to the people below.
He was, unsurprisingly, appalled by this idea. You see, Simon was one of those people who felt that we should all be grateful to the giants for giving us their garbage. The giants, they felt, deserved the wealth they possessed because they were smarter than us and worked hard for what they had.
“How would you even get there?” Simon asked me.
“Why, climb, of course. You know that old witch in the village? I heard she’s got these magic beans that–”
Simon was laughing at me.
“What?” I said, annoyed.
“Magic beans!” he exclaimed with delight. “Jack, you are a fool. Even if those beans were truly magic, and took you to their kingdom, you’d just fall down and break your crown, you clumsy oaf. Now go and tend to your chores before dinner. I want to get to the feeding station before there’s a crowd.”
“Dinner,” I said with a scowl. “Porridge again. Porridge tomorrow night and the night after that. Porridge porridge porridge. I’m sick to death of porridge, and when I get my hands on that treasure, I’ll never eat porridge again!”
“You should be grateful for what you have, little brother,” he told me.
“You’ll not receive so much as a single gold coin from me, Simon,” I shot back.
“I wouldn’t want it,” he replied with a shrug. “I work for what I have.”
“You have nothing!”
“Maybe so,” he replied, “but at least I worked for it. Just as the giants worked for what they have. They’re just smarter than us, is all. They’re better.”
“You’re impossible,” I shouted, and stormed from the room.
I didn’t have anything to trade for the magic beans, so after much haggling I struck a deal with the witch–if she agreed to give me the beans, I would, if successful in my quest, bequeath to her half of what I took for myself.
Personally, I felt that I should receive seventy-five percent at the very least, given that I was the one risking my life, but she was the one with the beans, after all.
That night, after Simon and mother had gone to bed, I planted the seeds in my garden.
I awoke early the next morning to find that a long, winding vine with a stem the size of a tree trunk had burst forth from the soil and grown all the way to the heavens.
I checked to make sure that no one was watching, and I climbed. And climbed. Aaaaaaand climbed.
My skin was slick with perspiration by the time my head poked up through the clouds and I found myself in a… room?
Four walls, a ceiling, a door–yep, it’s a room, alright.
It was the strangest room I’d ever seen, though, and scattered throughout it was an odd assortment of unfamiliar items, some of them even glowing and blinking. My eyes burned, and my lungs drew breath with difficulty.
The door opened, and I held tight to the swaying vine as two giants walked in, quaking the ground beneath their feet with each thunderous step.
I’d never seen one before–no one had. I’d only seen arms and hands.
With their green skin, big round eyes and bulbous heads, they were even more terrifying than I’d expected them to be.
One of them spoke.
“What’s that, a new Scape?”
“Yeah. Human. I can’t get these Korvs under control, though. By the time I pull them they’ve already dropped seeds, and the humans hide them.”
The other one laughed. “What fascinating animals. Can I see?”
“Yeah, just let me pull this… Wait. One of them has climbed up it.”
The other giant leaned down and was inches away from my face when, instinctively, I pulled the knife I’d brought with me and stabbed it in its probing finger.
“Ow!” he cried, drawing back and clutching his wound. “It bit me!”
“Humans don’t bite. Besides, even if they did, they aren’t venomous. He probably stabbed you.”
“With a knife? You mean they use tools?” He was leaning in for another gander at me but keeping his distance this time. “Aw, look at his little clothes!”
“They can’t live long outside of their oxygen atmosphere,” said the other. “I’ve got to get him home.”
He broke off the piece of vine I clung to for my life and lowered me all the way back down to the ground, were I promptly and clumsily disembarked and found myself staring at Simon’s big ugly feet.
We both looked up and watched as the vine was pulled out of the dirt and disappeared up into the clouds.
“Well?” said Simon. “Where’s your stolen treasure?”
I was shaken, and for a moment words eluded me. What had just happened?
When I was finally able to speak, I looked at Simon, whose face now wore a rare expression of brotherly concern.
“The world,” I said. “It’s so small.”