“I can’t take you to the park sweetie because the giants are about to start playing.” A father leaned over and told his disappointed daughter.
I hadn’t been eavesdropping on purpose, but overhearing that made my ears prick up. The Collosals, also called the giants, were the unbeatable gameball team of Beanstalk City. They weren’t actual giants, of course. The Old Giants had been extinct for thousands of years, and even if they were still around, they wouldn’t be interested in gameball.
Minigiants had nothing on the massive scale of the Old Giants, unfathomable beings so tall their heads scraped the clouds and entire canyons formed in their steps. No, minigiants were clumsy, a modest 15 feet tall, with mean eyes and wickedly sharp teeth. They appeared mostly human, unlike their predecessors who were illustrated as fantastical, impossible creatures.
Even against other minigiants, the Collosals were brutal. Against other species? Well- they didn’t stand a chance. The team was co-ed, tryouts open to all types of species. Hardly anyone dared to step foot on the practice field, and even fewer made it back. There was a first time for everything though, so those with enough courage, a lack of survival sense, and pure dumb luck kept trying.
I fit the bill perfectly.
I hadn’t known the Collosals were scheduled for practice today. It was pre-season, so new positions in the roster were opening all the time. But I had been training for this. I was ready.
As it turns out, the rumors about the Collosals were not over exaggerations. In fact, they may have been euphemisms. I had seen them play before, of course, but actually stepping onto the field with them was a completely different experience. I was strong by any standard, but I couldn’t stay on my feet after even the lightest nudge from one of them. They towered over me, and so I never got the ball, easily overlooked for a taller teammate. Worst of all, they ran like bulls, charging from one end of the field to the other, seemingly unable to stop or change direction. If you were in the way you would be plowed to the ground. Some of the unlucky ones were completely flattened.
Not ten minutes into practice, I was the only recruit left who hadn’t walked away or been carried off the field. The minigiants all charged as soon as a loud drumbeat announced that the play had started, but I stayed back, light on my toes. I had to dodge a few of my own teammates, who nearly took me out of commission in their rush for the center.
Two minigiants crashed into each other, a massive impact that sent a vibration through the ground. The ball flew between them, soaring over the other players’ heads. Without thinking, I grabbed it out of the air, pulling the hollow leather skin into my chest.
The players stampeded in my direction, and with a surge of adrenaline I ran blindly with the ball in my arms, ducking and weaving between legs as thick as my entire body. The minigiants were fast, but I was faster. I closed the distance between me and the goal in a matter of seconds. As soon as the line was in range, I dropped the ball onto the grass and angled my foot, sending it careening through the air. It flew over the low fence that served to separate the dangerous playing field from the rest of the city, and disappeared beyond the buildings.
I stopped my dead sprint and shielded my eyes to watch the ball soar, a mistake I wouldn’t make again. One of the minigiants, unable to halt his momentum, slammed into my back and knocked me flat on my face. I didn’t get the taste of grass out of my mouth for a week, but what I did get was a welcome surprise. I lay there, stunned for a moment, before picking myself up off the ground. A few of the players had crowded around, and one reached down to help me up with a sheepish grin. I gulped at the teeth protruding from his lower lip like tusks, and accepted his outstretched hand cautiously.
“No human has ever scored on us before,” he said.
“That was incredible!” one of the others exclaimed.
“That was some fine gameball.” The coach said, parting the players who hovered over me eagerly.
“Thank you sir,” I answered.
“How would you like to be the first human player on the Collosals?”
“Very much, sir!”
I went home that night with excitement bubbling in my chest. Every part of my body was dirty and sore, but that couldn’t dim my accomplishment. I had become the first human gameball player on the greatest team ever! It was monumental, historic, and a huge personal victory.
I headed to the window in my apartment facing the enormous canal that separated the city from the other civilizations beyond. Beanstalk City was nice, sure, but nearly every town for 100 miles was little more than a collection of unsightly shacks. More people from those shantytowns had lived here before the minigiants came. Some had been forced to move, others fled in fear.
I lifted my carrier pigeon, fondly nicknamed Blue, from her cage and sent her on the windowsill, sliding the window open. I attached a small scroll to her foot and then called, “Pigeon, vole!” the French word and historic command for messengers to take flight. She flapped into the growing darkness, barely visible against the last yellow rays of sun.
She would reach her destination before nightfall, where my colleagues awaited impatiently. Usually they received messages reporting lack of success. This latest message they received would be unexpected.
I’ve found a way to take down the minigiants.