It wasn’t the cartoons of giant women that convinced Olin McIntyre, though those piqued his imagination. They were interesting, mildly, but that’s it.
Gigantic women appeared in commercials, too, some in the US and more abroad. Sometimes they were depicted in music videos. Those were a little more compelling, as the production quality was high, though their appearances were far too short to stir anything very deep.
No, the seed was planted in Olin’s mind with the conspiracy theories. Up to this point he thought of himself as a bit more intellectually rigorous than to fall for such paranoid delusion. But some of the theories were attractive, of course, obviously false but fun to play with. That’s what he told himself, that these were exercises in thought and logic, like lateral puzzle or even Sudoku, in a way. He grilled himself on picking out the specific logical fallacies in each one, he prided himself on diligent research and cross-reference to winnow out the false claims or the wildly misinterpreted legitimate substantiation.
In this path, however, he wended further and further down the rabbit hole. Olin made a note that though the Nephilim were supposed to have been destroyed in the Book of Genesis, for example, they were cited in three subsequent books of the Bible. This tied to the conspiracy theory of the red-haired giant encountered by US troops in Afghanistan, and that tied to the Si-Te-Cah, the red-haired giants discovered in Lovelock Cave, Nevada. Science had explanations for the latter, of course, and denied the validity of the former, but this was how Olin found himself in the middle of it.
He made another note of all the mythological references to giants. Not just Greek mythos, but Norse, Hindu, Sumerian, all sorts of religions. Many of them included a world-destroying flood in their protology, and many of them described over-sized and powerful beings that resembled humans. They had different creation and different functions, but every culture had its own explanations for natural phenomena, like the motion of the sun and the change of seasons.
So what happened to the giants, the titans? Olin had to learn the end of this story, which was much less satisfying. The Greeks suggested that the titans retreated to underground caverns and melded with the stone, going into an eternal slumber. This was corroborated by certain Irish legends, that giants were essentially earthen elemental beings. There were many stories of giants forming mountain ranges with their bodies, or shaping the earth to suit their needs (the Giant’s Causeway of Northern Ireland), from different parts of the world. Simple, primitive cover-ups, yes, but consistent. That’s what bugged Olin: there was never any other explanation for these things other than giants. Why?
It’s unclear at what point Olin may be considered to have snapped. It just happened one day that his studies began to include areas of magic, the half of sorcery that governed sympathetic magic rather than scrying and fortune-telling. He wondered about opificers, whether or not they were related to the Kabbalistic art of creating golems. These were intriguing subjects but they only hovered peripherally around his central interest: he didn’t want to animate inorganic material. He wanted to learn how one breathed life back into a gigantic human that had gone into torpor and calcified into the earth. There wasn’t a lot of literature on this, and even if there had been, he wasn’t aware of any sightings of mineralized titans in his area.
Until he was. It wasn’t an official news story, it was just an amusing anecdote that drifted down the interstate to his town. There was no good reason Olin should’ve twigged to it, unless one wished to get all metaphysical and suggest that this information was destined for him, waiting for him to prepare and ready himself to receive it.
It had happened that he was uninterested in going to work one day. His heart wasn’t in it and his mind was elsewhere. He called in sick, but that precluded him from clearing his head in the park or taking in a museum, where he might be spotted by someone who knew someone who knew him. So he had to drive out to a part of town he had no reason to be in. He drove to a trucker’s diner outside of the warehouse district, and he had the quintessential rural breakfast of eggs, hash browns, sausage, and percolator coffee. The yolks bled into the potatoes, and he loaded these onto a wedge of sausage, and he washed it down with weak, burnt coffee and it was altogether satisfying.
He was smiling at his plate in a moment of reverie when the word giantess snapped him awake. There was no reason for anyone to be talking about giantesses in this truck stop. A chill ran down Olin’s back; he straightened slightly, rested his hands openly on the tabletop, and tried to focus all his mental resources to hearing.
Two burly, roundish guys at the counter. Different shirts, same low-riding jeans showing hairy butt cracks. Olin hammered his gaze into the hash browns with slick yellow yolk.
“It’s just, you know, the shape of the rocks.”
“Round rocks? Like titties? Don’t see how that works.”
“No, no, not round. Well, yeah, roundish, but not perfectly. Just kinda like the outline of… Here’s like the shoulder, and then it slides down here and it’s like her side, right? And then it swoops out here and you can kinda see, like, hips and legs.”
“You know they ain’t such thing as a giantess.”
“I know, I know, it just looks like this. It’s just real funny, is all. I ain’t saying it really is one. But, you know, it’s just where the teenagers go to party, get away from their parents for a while.”
“They go jack off to it or what?”
“No, no, just to drink a few beers. Cops know about it but they don’t care, as long as the kids ain’t setting fires or killing pets or anything.”
“How come it ain’t on the news?”
“What’re they gonna say? Hey, everybody, we got ourselves a real, live giantess in the mountains! Well, she ain’t alive, and it’s just a bunch of funny-looking rock, but come on down and check it out anyway.”
“Should charge people for it. Dress it up a little, make it look like a person, you know?”
“That’s a hell of an idea. Hell, it’d probably work.”
The burly drivers laughed it off, paid their check, and left the diner. Olin watched them slowly haul their bulk up into their cabs, ponderously wheel around in the lot, and then head off to the east. Olin settled up, jogged to his car, and drove west.
He found another town about half an hour away. It was small and surrounded by flat, featureless land. A river ran by it, but the land dipped down to meet it.
Twenty minutes beyond that was another small town situated at the base of a rocky ridge. Olin supposed a couple tired, lazy drivers might characterize these as mountains. He cruised through the little village and parked outside the public library, but he walked to the only fast-food restaurant he could find and hung out there with a burger and fries.
And just as he was skipping out on work, so were a gaggle of teens skipping out on school; unlike Olin’s clever dodge to go where no one would expect him, these idiots went straight to a popular restaurant in the center of the village. However, unlike how Olin believed people would keep half an eye out for him where he lived, absolutely no one seemed interested at all in a few delinquents out for a cheap lunch.
It took some patience on Olin’s part, eavesdropping on their trivial conversation, weeding through the drama and shit-headed goals, until one of them finally mentioned the giantess cave. Olin’s hand froze in the paper box of fries, and he let a lump of 85% beef and potato bun rest in his mouth as he listened. The kids had no reason to mention the directions to the cave, as they all knew where it was, but going there was surrounded by all their other plans and it sounded like it couldn’t have been very far. Olin looked out the huge window next to his booth, peering at the horizon. The mountains were on the other side of the diner and it drove him crazy not to look at them, but he had to appear disinterested in case anyone was looking at him.
He caught himself. That was irrational. Why would anyone notice him? Well, he reasoned, he was a stranger to these parts, and the town was small enough that everyone would know everyone else. That may be true, he countered, but these teenagers were only interested in teenager things and had no use for someone like Olin. As for the workers, they were dead-eyed and surly, focused wholly upon nothing else but fulfilling the least of their duties until their shift ended.
The teens left. Olin trashed the remainder of his meal and walked around the restaurant to the foothills, not caring who noticed. Ridges, spurs, saddles, and then a grove of trees with a trail leading to it. A dirt trail, a footpath, without signage or anything official. He had to check that out.
It led, predictably, to a cave, and Olin turned on the flashlight on his phone. The teens wouldn’t be here for another hour, and if the caverns were safe enough for them to goof around in, he could move quickly enough to explore its secrets.
Everything seemed to be falling into place. The gravel and dirt entrance gave way to slick, lumpy mineralized floors. The ground floor dropped off slightly to another plateau, and then another, and then it was a sequence of boulders and rocky formations that provided easy access into a dark corridor. The air grew cooler and the noises died away. All along the way were crumpled beer cans and cigarette boxes, assuring him he was on the correct path.
Finally the cavern opened. It was pitch-black, and his phone only cast a dim blue-white circle of limited width. He found more trash, piles of melted candles, and footprints everywhere in cold, damp piles of sand. He turned the light upward, wondering if there were bats in here: he couldn’t see any, and there was no trace of guano, so no risk of being attacked by anything in here.
Voices bounced down the corridor behind him. Olin swore to himself and reflexively spun around to shine the light up and see who was coming.
A girl’s voice yelped. “Fuck, there’s somebody down there!” A boy hissed, “Get the fuck outta here!” Shoes scraped over stones and the noises receded until all was silent again. Olin embraced the happy accident and returned to searching the cavern.
He found her. She was largely as the trucker had described, a tremendous mass of rose quartz in the far end of the cavern. She was huge enough to be a wall herself, maybe 100′ tall at most. He could see how the formation could look like a huge, long woman lying on her right side, turned away from the entrance, facing the wall. Except she was part of the wall, her shoulders and butt emerging from the mineral sediment, an unfinished sculpture being carved out of found resources. Kids had spray painted their tags on her shoulders and lower back. They had drawn lewd illustrations around her butt. They had showered her in trash.
Olin noticed he was calling the rock she. He resolved to see this crazy ride to the end.
The first thing he did was shell out for a saw horse he painted white and covered in diagonal reflective orange strips. It looked official enough and weathered enough to be taken seriously. He planted this in front of the grove outside the cave, with a stenciled sign warning trespassers against dangerous conditions in the cavern, and that the area was under surveillance. He made up some official mention of the county, nothing that would bear scrutiny but was impressive enough to teenagers. He hoped.
After this, he could only double down on his mystical research. He had to figure out how to breathe life into stone, how to recall something that had given itself back to the earth. After installing a secure proxy browser, Olin lost a full weekend to online research, sniffing around for any mystical online forum, sifting through any library resources and pillaging bibliographies of related material. He had the wild notion to create his own school of magic, which was stupid and impractical. Instead, the clearly rational decision was to assimilate the structure of different philosophies of magic and modify these to suit his ends. Why not? He was treading uncharted territory, and any idea was a valid as any other, especially as pertained to reanimating a petrified giantess. Why not?
A month later, he returned to the cavern in the middle of the night. His hiking boots kept his steps sure as he lugged a large backpack full of books, candles, oils and incense, anything that seemed mystical and laden with significance. Why not?
And he found the cavern again. It appeared unchanged, no new trash as far as he could tell. The barrier and warning seemed to have worked (though markered obscenities now laced the text). The first thing he did was set up the candles in a large semicircle, starting at the nape of the giantess’s neck and running around to the small of her back. That gave him enough light for the runes and circles he traced in the sandy floor, lines he filled with sand made from black glass, small divots he filled with powdered incense immediately set to smolder.
Did he know what he was doing? Olin did not. He’d only drawn up a plan and was executing it. Success was not guaranteed, but success was much more likely to come by performing these activities than by moping around at home and wondering.
He pulled out Norse texts for inspiration, references to the Jötunns and the Mornir. He offered tribute to Hyrrokkin, Goi, Thorgerd Holgabrudr, other giantesses from the Prose Eddas. He set out illustrations and woodcuts of giantesses, designed by horny Victorian men who lusted after strong, domineering women and found an outlet for their expression in the ostensible preservation of Nordic mythos. And while he was no great shake at poetry, he pulled out his own original work that intended to pay homage to more ancient and classical incantations, modified to express his intent.
It took an hour to set up and perform.
When nothing happened, he did it all again. He replenished the candles that were low and restocked the incense, and he took a long pull of a bottle of aquavit, going with the Scandinavian theme. He read again in a robust voice, assured of his isolation, with sweeping gestures and power stances. He called out his petitions to Dione Regio and Metis Regio and Mnemosyne Regio, knocking back a shot of ouzo in tribute. He staggered in the damp sand but remained upright, reading and canting and drinking.
All this for another hour, until he was out of candles. Tea lights, so that he could carry so many of them. Olin wondered if he poured out too much incense at once, for soon that was gone as well. He collapsed to his knees, heat bleeding rapidly through his pants into the chilly floor, and glanced around at the large books and illustrations, then up at the smooth rose quartz spine overhead.
He didn’t know what else to do. It must’ve been getting on to morning, not that he could see the sunrise down here. Well, what did he expect? The whole thing was silly. No, it was stupid. Olin had truly embarrassed himself, even if no one else would ever find out about it. And now he was drunk and cold and tired, surrounded by mystical bullshit and half-understood world mythologies. He guessed he’d better start packing up the books and trash, but he leaned against the marbled shoulder blade of the giantess-ish formation and had another belt of aquavit. Or ouzo. It was difficult to tell now.
“I just wanted…” he said in an exhausted voice. “I don’t know what I wanted. I guess I went crazy, thinking… magic was real… giantesses were real…” He laughed at himself, and his laughter echoed sharply back to him.
“No, I know what I wanted.” His hiking boots slogged through the damp sand, and he reached high to let his fingertips trail along the indentation that resembled a spine. “I wanted a giantess. Yes. I wanted my own giantess, a huge woman to love. A woman all to myself, who loved me and I’d love her back.” The words fell out and surprised him, but he couldn’t argue against them. “Making my own woman? No, that’s creepy. I’m no Frankenstein. But if there was a giantess in here and if there was a way to bring her back, why shouldn’t I try? Why shouldn’t the person to do that be me?” The last drops of booze tapped upon his tongue. He swung the bottle wide and it shattered against one buttock.
Olin walked over to the buttock, ran his hand over it. It really did look like a woman’s ass, the right curvature and proportion and everything. Who knows, maybe it was someone’s artistic project. Yeah, some artist came down here in, like, the ’50s and found enough rose quartz to make something out of. Why not? “But I just wanted you to be real,” he said, resting his cheek against the huge buttock, fitting his skull right where the crack of her ass would’ve started. “I really felt like something was talking to me or pulling me toward you. Every time I opened a new book, I thought you gave it to me.” He was now addressing the rock as though it could hear him. “I thought you put those truck drivers next to me in the diner. I thought you dragged those teenagers to the diner and made them talk about you around me. I felt like I wasn’t making any decisions.” He spread his arms across the huge buttock and slumped against it. “I thought you were pulling me here, guiding me. Calling to me. Oh God, I wanted you to be real. I needed you… I need you.”
He was sobbing, he realized. Olin wiped his face on his sleeve and turned toward the books and the occult circle and expended candles. His boot sank in a mound of sand, and he wasn’t quick enough to respond to the imbalance. His body fell forward like a tree being chopped down. Wet sand punched him in the face. It gritted between his teeth and rasped over his tongue. The booze made the cavern spin when he closed his eyes, but when he opened them they were too heavy to hold. The sand pushed its chill up into his muscles and bones and drew the heat right out of him. “Well, if this is how it ends,” he thought, already beginning to dream of the teenagers finding him, reporting him to the authorities, his family being contacted by the ID in his wallet, reporters concocting a fabulous, unlikely story of the pervert from two towns over, a story that wouldn’t be that far from the truth…
Olin woke, warm and comfortable. He lay there for a moment, his head packed with cotton and lanced with stabbing. Why would he pack two bottles of booze and no water? That was stupid of him. He lay there and thought about how dumb that was, and it took him a long time to recall where he’d fallen asleep. The cold, wet sand. He should be dead by now, and if not dead, in bad-enough shape to resemble death, to be only a few minutes away from it.
Instead, except for the throbbing headache and dry mouth, he felt pretty good. He wasn’t on sand. Olin let his arm fall to the surface of whatever he was lying on. It was very warm and it felt like soft, treated leather. That made no sense.
There was no light in here, so turning his head side to side yielded no information. He had to sweep his arms out to detect the gently rising formations on either side. Very soft, somehow fragile, and very warm. Was it some advanced kind of hospital? Had someone found him in the nick of time and airlifted him to a specialty facility? Why would anyone do that? He padded his body: why would they do that and leave his regular clothes and boots on?
A warm, soft weight descended from the blackness and covered him. It had fine ridges and large lumps and curves. It had been placed there by something larger, some kind of machinery that could find him and restrain its full weight based on feedback, somehow. Olin ran his hand along the surface of this weight. It stretched in all directions, farther than he could reach, but to his right it split. It was solid and flat on the left, and on the right it divided into branches, thick and round branches, all warm, all soft, and his mind connected the dots and recognized these as huge fingers.
Beneath him he heard the ocean roar of a tremendous breath being drawn in. He felt the pounding lub-dub of an enormous heartbeat right under his back.
Olin lay perfectly still and silent, not out of fear, but to enable this crazy illusion to last as long as it could.
One of the massive fingers bent and brushed the side of his head, as if in exploration, with a large, smooth fingertip. The cavern echoed with a powerful voice obviously trying to speak quietly: “Good morning, Olin.”
The fingertip stroked his cheeks and rubbed his chest as he cried in the warmth and the darkness.