The Giant in the Village

We called him the giant, for he gave no name to call him by. And a giant he was--tall as an elm tree, he loomed over us like a cliff face, with his hunched shoulders and black matted hair. We'd never seen him before, nor did we ever dream that such a thing as he was even possible, not until the day he strode into the village and sat himself down by the tavern doors.

He said he'd come from back behind the mountains, where he'd wrestled up the sun and tossed it into its arc across the sky. For that was his task, he told us, assigned far back when the world was young, but it was hungry, thirsty work.
“So get out your best bread, your chickens and cows, your wine and ale, and bring them all to me.” The giant smiled, as his words morphed into a threat. “Or I will pull your houses down and take my meal from your own flesh and bones.”

And we dared not refuse. So we dragged out all our best animals before the giant, slit their throats, and watched as chicken and cow and goat were thrown together down his gullet. And he laughed raucously all the while, eating and drinking, guzzling down all the alcohol and fresh water we could find. By the time he departed, there was nothing left.

That was the first appearance of the giant, but as the days progressed we found travelers stopping by, and they shared stories all too similar to our own. Gradually, what started with scattered sightings began to form a kind of pattern. It seemed he'd come down from his mountains, once a week or so, come down to one new town or another, to gorge himself before departing. Then he would disappear, back to wherever it was he resided, and the months would pass, but eventually, far too often the stories agreed, eventually you'd see the giant come back.

He hadn't returned to our village yet, but needless to say, we began to expect him. And with that expectation came a semblance of dread. We watched as the peak of summer faded into fall and we could all feel the frigid footsteps of winter creeping upon us. And still there was the giant…

He was a menace, you understand, and a cloud of locusts would have been as kind. And what would we do should we give him all we had, all our livestock, all our crops, all our beer and wine and cheese, and after all that, what would we do if still he called for more?

So we hatched a plan. We gathered poison, as much as we could find, poisons and foul brews, and we mixed them all together, just in case. And then came the day the giant returned, and he made the same demands he'd made back then, for food and drink and sustenance, accompanied with the same threats, and we complied. We sent him our goats and cattle, and we mixed his wine with poison, and he drank it all down, the wine and poison both, enough to fill a lake. He laughed and boasted and fell to the ground, his heart stopped and his skin gone cold. We waited a long time, watching to see if he was merely asleep, but the giant lay still and never roused.

And so we celebrated, across the day and long into the night. And when at last we drew asleep, we felt relief, knowing that the nightmare had ended.

But we awoke in darkness, with the moon still shining overhead and the stars still twinkling down from high above us, to a world gone cold and dark. Our eyes drew back to the giant, dead at our feet. So it is and will always be, that somewhere behind the mountains, far out to the east, the sun lies sleeping and will never rise again.