Now what strangeness was this? Klukelunnen stared at the glass. But where was his reflection? And where was the room behind him? He turned to check that it hadn’t changed. No, it was still as it was; not suddenly grown vast, a green-laid floor lidded in blue, and the source of that light.
He nodded, grimly, with understanding. So, the jawmen told it true in their tales. There was a Land of Giants, and his ill-said spell had brought him to it. Yet … no, it couldn’t be. Only heroes went there, and he wasn’t that. He was just Klukelunnen, and marred, to boot, with his invisible scar.
At the sight of a beast he backed away. Long-legged, it must have stood thrice his height at the shoulders. A horse, was that its name?
Youch! Granny’s Drawers, now it had sighted him. It charged towards him, growling and barking. No, Klukelunnen wasn’t a hero; he quaked in his blue high-polished boots.
“No-no, please,” he pleaded when the giant Jace opened the glass (What, a door in the glass?) and in leapt the barking beast.
It was all over everything: leaping on furniture, knocking over glasses of smelly stalked stars (water splashed him despite he’d hidden himself behind the fabric hangings). He watched, disgusted, amazed and awed, as it licked—aye, licked, not bit—the two giants. And they laughed. Aye, laughed!
“Helas, Helas, quieten,” Jace the giant told it.
“Sit!” Neat Fleur added. And incredibly the beast—Helas—sat (though on its haunches, not as he and the giants might sit). But the gigantic beast ‘Helas’ didn’t sit long.
It began with a sniff at the air. Klukelunnen guessed what that was about. He’d heard of it, once, in one of the jawmen’s stories. The beast was scenting the air. Klukelunnen particularly remembered how the Nixies had laughed at that term, ‘scenting the air’. “What with, what with? Rotting weed and retted linen?” “Nay, with ancient dead fish that haven’t been eaten.” “Mmm, delicious,” they both had agreed.
Klukelunnen thought he’d like to pee now, before the beast ate him.
“Helas, here!” Neat Fleur commanded.
Phew! With glum expression, the beast returned to her side where it slunk to the floor.
“He won’t hurt you,” Neat Fleur assured him. “Though he does like to chase cats. Have you not seen a Great Dane before?”
“Don’t be a looby, Fleur,” said the giant Jace. “He’s told us, he’s not from this land.”
“Yea, but,” she said, “they have Great Danes in France, don’t they? Are you from France? Parlez-vous français? Allemand? Italien? … Polanais?”
Klukelunnen clutched the deep-piled fabric hanging and stared back in incomprehension.
“So where are you from?” the giant Jace asked.
“Home,” he said. “Our land.” He knew no other name for it. He knew stories that told of other lands, but always when the hero returned, he returned to ‘Home’. Though, he supposed, this Jace might have meant which part of his land. There were four parts to the land. Dols, they were called. Dolnixen, Dolpixel, Dolfernan, and Dolstone. “Dolstone,” he offered.
“Is that in Cornwall?” Neat Fleur asked which earned her a clip round her head from Jace.
In the short time spent in their company, Klukelunnen had discovered this pair of giants were ‘unrelated sibs’; that’s what Neat Fleur had called them. They were of the same age—20, though 20-what she didn’t say—and born almost the same day. “But don’t think us twins, cos we’re not.’ That’s when she’d said of being ‘unrelated sibs’. And “We’re not usually together. We’re usually at Uni. But this being the Hols …”
“So, little fellow,” the giant Jace said, “what are we to do with you?”
Klukelunnen thought to feed him might be a good idea, and show him where he might pee. The need was increasingly pressing.
“So he’s not one of your—”
“Oh, for crying out!” Jace answered his ‘unrelated sib’. “We’ve been through all this.”
Well, as far as Jace had insisted that, no, Klukelunnen wasn’t one of his computerised manikins, adding that he didn’t know how to construct one anyway. “Not with skin and hair and things.”
“I think it best we take him to ‘Anthropology’,” Jace said. “Let them study him. Maybe he’s a Hobbit like those they found on Flores.”
“Oh yea,” Neat Fleur flopped down on the floor beside Helas. “Like they’re extinct these past thousand years. Nothing but bones now, aren’t they.”
“Yea but the School of Anthropology has to be best,” Jace insisted. “Let them have the problem. After all, did we invite him into our home? And best be rid of him before Pops and Curly Tops come home.”
When Klukelunnen was still young and forming he had found an attractive if rather dead pebble and brought it home. Oh, the fuss that did cause. Where was he to put it? Who was to mind it? Nay, lad, it cannot stay there; it’ll be tripping our feet. In the end, it had become such a trouble he’d had to return it to where he’d found it. He could see the same thing happening to him. Moved from here to there to there and back again, with no one wanting to have him around. Aye, and that was fine with him—if only they’d find him a way to go home. So perhaps Jace was right, and the School of Anthropology would solve it for him.
“Off you go then,” Neat Fleur commanded Jace in the same tone as she’d used for Helas to sit.
Jace remained where he was, slouched on a huge, highly slouchable sofa (Klukelunnen assumed it a sofa, though it wasn’t exactly as described in the stories). Jace mimed pulling the pockets out from his trousers. Honestly, Klukelunnen so wanted to ask if he’d no better clothes to wear? ‘Work-wear’ trousers and an undervest? Really! He hadn’t even donned his shoes!
“Curly Tops has the keys,” Jace said. “Hers is in the garage for its M.O.T. Remember? Your call.”
“I’m not going,” said Neat Fleur, suddenly sullen. “I don’t know the geeks there. I’m at Leeds, remember, not here at Cambs. No, your Uni, you go.”
“Don’t reckon we’ll either be going,” Jace said. “Look at that weather. Coming on to a storm.”
Klukelunnen followed the giant’s eyeline—to outside the glass-door. What with his concern about Helas, and then all the hoohah of what the giants were to do with him, he hadn’t noticed how much the outside light had dimmed. Drastically, he’d say. Now beyond that glass all looked dark and heavy.
“It’s going to pelt,” Jace said.
“Well I’m not going out in a storm,” Neat Fleur said, clearly not open to further argument. “Come on, Kluky, my sweetie, let’s go up to my room.”
Hmm, Klukelunnen grunted. Perhaps she’d have food up there. Perhaps she’d also have somewhere where he could pee. Though what else they’d do there … maybe she’d tell him more about ‘Hobbits’, and these studious geeks at Anthropology. Would they be able to send him home? Only, he was beginning to remember a particularly scary tale he once heard, of The Giantess and the Stone.