It was on the sixty second day of my travels that I came to Arbuthur – The City of the Giant. It was the twenty sixth occasion my breath was completely taken away from me. Few sights in this world of mine are worth seeing more.
Arbuthur! The morning sun sends its powerful light over your mighty walls, your battlements remain forever manned, armies could throw themselves at you and barely make a dent. And behind the walls, each house built with loving care, each road laid with masterful craftsmanship, your towers reach for the stars.
Arbuthur. The most beautiful city in the world, the songs sung about your wonder, the poems that proclaim your glory, the stories told! There is no greater place to live.
My sand skimmer brushed the top of a sand dune and veered towards the huge gates, a bustling horde of humanity wait outside, wait for the gates to open, waiting to enter the city. I stop my sand skimmer at the stables and climb out of its cool shade. The heat hits me, a rolling heat that dries the lips and burns the skin.
A burly man greets me, the stablemaster; I pay the fees and throwing my cloak over my shoulders head towards the gate. As I leave the stables the heat increases all the more, my sense are assaulted by a cacophony of sights, sounds and smells. Traders shift through the crowds selling anything and everything, the smell of a thousand foods tease my growling stomach, people from every corner of the world mull around waiting for the gates to open. A hundred languages hang in the air, a few I recognise but most I don’t, to my left a man shouts at his boy, a woman searches for a lost child, I move through the crowd heading for the gate, waiting for it to open.
Imposing doesn’t even begin to cover the gates – huge, almighty creations of metal, their hinges were bigger than me, they towered above everything, ninety feet high, easily, in front of these gates everyone was a dwarf. Engraved into the metal were intricate patterns that appeared so simple yet so fiendishly complex.
Then I felt it, the ground rhythmically shaking, thud, thud, thud, people began to move. The hustling mass of people parted leaving a clear path to the gates. I hurried to the side, pleased to be so close.
“The Giant Cometh!” cried a faint voice from the far end of the crowd. Every head turned, every neck craned, every eye focused in on a dark blur on the horizon. It was getting closer with mindboggling speed. The blur became refined and distinct and revealed a colossus of a man! Eighty feet high, broad shouldered, wearing a simple jerkin, a jaunty cap of his huge head. Thud, thud, thud, the giant strode across the sand eating up the miles with each stride. He carried a bucket in each hand, a bucket large enough to hold the entire seething mass of humanity waiting near the gate, a bucket bigger than a house.
He reached us, an awed silence fell, my neck hurt as I gazed up and up and up, my own height suddenly seemed to laughably insignificant. I felt like a grasshopper before him.
The giant reached the gate; I could only stare at the massive foot resting not ten metres from me. One step out of place and he would crush us. The giant put the buckets on the ground with a thump that threw several people off their feet. With an ear splitting clank he removed the chain from across the doors and with a grunt the giant heaved the gates open.
The crowd began to talk again and surged in behind the giant and into Arbuthur. The gates opened onto a long street that cut straight through the city and to the exact centre. The giant was already half way along it. I waved down a passing carriage.
“To the centre!” I ordered “Quickly.” The cab driver was obviously used to such commands and spurred his horses along the street with all speed. The heart of the city approached. It soon became too busy for the cab to continue so I went on on foot.
I admit, I shoved a little, squeezed myself between people, pushed a few out my path, I had to see one of the seven sights of the world. Eventually I made it to the centre – a reservoir of water, a deep pole of liquid, an oasis of life, how many tons of water rested there I knew not but it was a lot. It was the lifeblood of the city – without it the city would be dust.
The giant stood on the edge of the vast lake and tipped his buckets in. The water thundered into the reservoir topping up this source of life. I felt like applauding – to see such a precious thing so freely given but to my surprise there no cheer, no shout of thanks, indeed as I looked around the crowd I saw that most refused to look up, refused to look at the giant.
As one the crowd surged forward and began to collect water, some went into nearby pipes to be pumped to the richer sections of the city; the poor carried jars and collected their own. If the giant has wanted to he could have made a fortune charging for the water. But as it was it was a gift, free to use, provided out of the giant’s goodness.
I extracted myself from the crowd and picked a street at random my heart beating that little but faster. Anticipation, who knew what the day held? New ideas, new people, new cultures, I would study them all, learning and recording.
“Gentlemen, gentlemen, let us not resort to personal insults, let us remember to argue with logic – the only foundation for truth in this universe.” An older man had got to his feet. I was in the Logicus – a debating chamber for the greatest minds in the city, a place where new ideas were heard and judged, a place to sharpen the wit and stoke the intellect. I had heard that the wisdom of the Logicus was unmatched in all the world.
I had heard wrong.
“Logic!” interrupted a young man with passionate eyes and a charming smile “Logic tells us only one thing. Logic provides us with only one fact. Logic saves us with one gem of knowledge.” He paused, the room was silent, it hung on the man’s words. “The giant is dead!” he finished dramatically. There was a loud murmur of agreement. Then the man smiled even wider. “We have killed him!” The Logicus erupted into cheers; men rose to their feet, fists were shaken, scornful laughter echoed around the room.
Had I gone mad? Was I insane? I could see the giant through the clear glass of the Logicus – he was standing over it. Where they really denying his existence?
I do not normally speak out, I observe nothing more but I had to find out the truth. I caught the attention of the man next to me.
“Excuse me, am I understanding this correctly, the giant does not exist?”
“That is correct my good sir,” said the man his warm smile greeting me.
“Then excuse me again for this question: Why then is the city called ‘The City of the Giant’?” I asked. The man frowned then rose to his feet.
“Gentlemen of the Logicus, we have here a distinguished visitor,” said the man in a loud voice, I felt a flush rise up my cheeks, he recognised me, my fame preceded me, how embarrassing. “One who does not know of recent events, one who has yet to hear the truth we have discovered. Gentlemen, it is time to recite our history!”
“For a thousand years we resided in darkness. For a thousand year we knew nothing. For a thousand years we were foolish enough to believe that a giant cared for this city!” There was muffled laughter. “But we have found enlightenment.”
“Dark was our thinking, small were our thoughts, incomprehensible were our actions. Until we freed them! We cast off the shackles, we lifted our minds, we rejected the giant.”
“And behold our thoughts expanded. We began to understand so much more. We invented logic! The only means of deciphering the truth.”
“And logic disproved the giant. His existence was deemed impossible. The very idea – a man built on huge proportions. It is ridiculous. It is illogical.”
“And so you find us here today – unfettered by superstitious nonsense, unchained from the old ways, here we stand – intellectual giants – all of us. This is our history. We have spoken.”
The Logicus feel silent, all eyes turned to me but should I say?
“Gentlemen,” I began, my voice quavering before I regained my confidence, they would be reasonable, they would see their folly. “Gentlemen, I stand in your presence humbled by your intelligence and insight.
“But I have questions, questions that cannot be ignored, questions that demand answers. Tell me, if the giant does not exist where did the idea of a giant come from?”
“The giant is dead!” shouted one voice.
“So you say. But if he never did exist how could you kill him?”
“The giant cannot exist.”
“We have disproved him.” called out an arrogant voice.
“Tell him that!” my anger got the better of me, how could these men be so blind? “Look up, look up, see the giant above us, tell him he does not exist.”
As one the men of the Logicus rose to their feet and shook their puny fists in the air crying “The giant is dead! Long live man! The giant is dead. We have killed him. Man is his own giant!”
“He’s still there,” I shouted over them, taunting them, “Shout louder! Maybe if you shout loud enough he’ll go away!”
They shouted louder and louder until a mighty noise overrode their calls. The giant laughed, the giant laughed at the Logicus, laughed at their folly, at their arrogance, the giant scoffed at their scoffing. Silence fell again.
“Three times a day the giant brings this city water. He provides you with life. He is your only link to life. Without him this city would be nothing. And you refuse to accept his existence.
“You fools, you morons, you imbeciles!”
“You go too far!” shouted the young man “You dare to insult our intellect. The water is borne here on the great south wind. The water is carried in the air. In a special belt of air that prevents it from evaporating. Our logic, our science has proved this, will argue with that? Will you argue with our logic?” He sat down to much agreement.
“And what of this city? Of the mighty walls and towering gates? Or the broad battlements and huge streets? Can you explain that?”
“Natural erosion, aliens, chance, luck, a freak storm, a random fluke of nature. Logic would dictate this. Science supports it.”
“Your logic is flawed; your science is in tatters. You reject the giant first and use logic second. Science has done nothing; your imaginations have done everything. You are like blind men that search for darkness.”
“Will we stand for this?” asked the young man “Men of Logic, will we listen to this infidel? Out of his mouth spills lies, his words pollute the air, he is illogical, shall we put up with this? I say we kill him. Logic must be preserved.”
“Logic must be preserved. Kill him, kill him, kill him!” they shouted, rising to their feet, my heat raced, death was in the air. What could I do against such blindness? What could I do against such single minded hatred?
“Are you animals that you come to kill me?” I asked but to no avail. They shouted all the louder.
“Kill him! Kill the liar!” The young man drew a knife out and approached me from across the room.
“Where is your giant now, friend?” he spat “Where is your giant now?”
With an almighty crash the glass roof was smashed through, a huge hand pummelled through it and scoped me up. As I was lifted into the air I could see the hate filled expression on the face of the young man.
I closed my eyes, I wasn’t good with heights, moments later I felt stone beneath my feet. I opened my eyes and found myself on the top of the tallest tower in the city. The giant’s head was at level with it.
“Thank you,” I gasped. The giant merely smiled and nodded at me. He turned to leave.
“Sorry, may I ask you a question?” I stumbled over my words, I feared this giant more than any man. But the giant smiled and nodded again.
“Why do you let them talk about you like that? Why don’t you do something? They spread their lies, they spread their folly, why not stop them?”
The giant spoke in a voice that rocked the tower, in a voice that shook the city, in a voice that was heard by all.
“They have eyes but do not see. Ears but do not hear. For I am. And all see me.
“They deny my existence. And the day is coming when they shall get their wish. I will depart from them. And they shall be left in this desert with neither food not water nor shelter. They will burn in the sun but know no death. Then they will know that I existed. But still they will curse my name. Still they will reject me.
“But that time is not yet and until that day I give them every opportunity to turn from their folly. Their blindness is their damnation. They will bring it upon themselves.
“For I am here and there is no excuse.”
This fictional work is not a perfect allgrey and should not be taken as such. It can only be taken so far. Feedback needed - if I'm writing rubbish I need to know.