The Walking Man
They feared the giant man, his body of dirt, bones of trees, blood of mud, constantly shifting with each lurching step forward to nowhere and everywhere all at once. His eyes of stone only looked forward, lips closed, its nose like a mountain hanging off the side of his face.
Each step was felt for miles in all directions, the ground shaking, leaves trembling. The waters rose, crashed along the shore in a violent rush to save itself. And the sky… the sky darkened for days before he arrived at a trembling township, a country of terrified souls, waiting to perish beneath its earthen feet.
The small town of Bethingmane stat at the base of the River Myrh, its muddied waters lapping the banks. They huddled, arm in arm, heads bowed, lifting prayers to their gods for deliverance.
“Ah, we may’s well stand in ‘is path and die, if’n this is how it’s goin’a be,” said Harvey Baxter, lowly shopkeeper from the edge of town, his eyes heavy with gray bags, hair faded to thin wisps. The gaunt man stood before the township of cowards, lips turned down in a disgusted frown.
“We canna’ stop ‘im,” Jersey Lewis said from the back of the crowd. “We are small, ‘e be a gi’nt.”
“E’en gi’nt’s may fall,” Harvey said. “I ain’ goin’a sit ‘ere and die. ‘E is jus’ a walkin’ man.”
Harvey left the cowards to themselves, huddled in fear, awaiting their deaths.
And the giant’s shadow fell on his house, his wife inside, babe to her bosom. “’E’s a comin’,” Harvey said and left her on the bed, breasts exposed, milk trickling into the child’s gaping mouth.
The world shook. Harvey stumbled, fell, stood back up. A chord of ninety yards he pulled, looping it from one tall oak to another. He shimmied up the trees, draped the rope over branches, slid its length back to the ground, a continuous process that wore him down.
One by one, the town-folk poked their heads from their pile of bodies. One by one, they joined Harvey, setting to work, chords pulled taut from tree to tree, higher and higher until even the very tips of the tallest oaks and pines were wrapped in thick twine.
“An’ why are we a’doin’ this?” Jersey asked, his brow dripping with sweat.
“If’n it work on Gul’ver, it may work ‘ere.”
“’Is foot, ‘its the line, ‘e falls down.”
“An’ wha’ ‘appens when ‘e falls down?”
Harvey glanced up. “I ain’ thought of that.”
The giant appeared in the distance, each step shaking the world. The town-folk of Bethingmane ran, their screams drowned by its thunderous steps. The ground rippled, cracked and swallowed houses and people.
Harvey gripped tight a chord, his arms straining to hold it in place as the world around him crumbled. The giant’s dusty face was in full view, its earthen body shaping, breaking apart, reshaping. Harvey’s eyes grew wide, his own scream stolen from his throat.
One foot snagged the handmade webs, pulling trees from the ground. The giant tilted, his head leaning forward, arms outstretched as he tumbled. Harvey lifted in the air, pulled by the strength of the giant. Debris battered his body. Still, he held firm to the rope.
With a boom that shook the world for days, the giant crashed, its body melding with the earth, bones of trees breaking, flesh of dirt and blood of mud swallowing Bethingmane. Then all was silent.
Harvey woke to the ground shifting beneath him. As if he were floating, he rose, his body stuck in a pit of muck and debris. The land grew further away and he felt the jarring pain of movement. To his left was dirt and twigs, a bone jutting out from packed skin. To his right, the face of Jersey Lewis set in a scream. Body parts clung to the giant, swam in its ever shifting skin.
And, he walked on, his bones made of trees, mud for blood, his skin made of dirt and the corpses of Bethingmane. The world shook beneath its weight.
Through his pain, Harvey wondered, “An’ what if’n ‘e falls?”