Havok Publishing

The Gargantuan Sacrifice

By Katrina Michelle

Borgig strolled along the empty beach, his shaggy curls shading him from the sun, when a bomb exploded under his feet.

Under one of his feet, to be exact.

Aaaagggh!

Sand sprayed as he hopped backwards. Although the bomb couldn’t have been larger than a peanut, pain shot through his foot as if it had caught fire. He would have blisters by morning, no doubt.

Oriana had told him never to walk anywhere without his thickest sandals, and as usual he didn’t listen. He enjoyed the sand too much.

Once the burning pain had lessened, Borgig limped back to his thatched seaside cottage. Oriana immediately made him prop his leg on their rickety table so she could examine the welt, clean it, and administer salve. When the salve numbed his wound, he sank against his chair, enjoying the ocean smell breezing through the window.

Even so, frustration boiled within him. This wasn’t the first time Borgig had been caught unawares by a coincidentally positioned Eensy bomb. It was, however, the last straw. Up until now he had thought his idea nothing more than a fantasy, but today’s explosion had snipped a thread inside him he hadn’t realized was so thin.

Borgig followed Oriana into their bedroom, which held no more than a home-crafted cot and crib. “Ory, you know how I feel about this whole Eensy business. Spies crawl in and scatter their bombs like birdseed, and they’re never caught because they’re so darn tiny. Worse, the governors promise to see about negotiating real peace, but then they don’t. There’s speculation of all-out war, and maybe we do need war to get peace, but if—”

“I understand, dear,” Oriana said softly, smiling as she lifted little Agdor from the crib.

“—but if the governors keep doing nothing, there won’t be a war. We’ll just get bombed more! We suffer while they thrive. Ridiculous.” A pause so Borgig could lean over and kiss his son’s head, then Oriana’s cheek. Although his irritation rose, his voice didn’t. “I mean, you’ve heard the rumors as clearly as I have of more sophisticated Eensy weapons. Meanwhile, over here half the Gargantuan population is poor as a colony of peddlers.”

Agdor shifted in Oriana’s arms. Borgig touched his swaddled back. “And I don’t understand why we let ourselves be called ‘Gargantuan’ anymore, seeing as our alliance with the Eensy folk split years ago. Come to think of it, how do they tolerate our term for them? The names have stuck for centuries, I know, but you’d think with the way we—”

“You’re right, love,” Oriana cut in, as patient as the growth of the ancient trees outside. “It is ridiculous. But we can only wait and see.”

“That’s what I’m getting at, Ory. I can do something. And I think I’ll do it right now.”

Oriana’s smile melted as she cradled Agdor against her shoulder and listened to Borgig’s idea.


Two afternoons later, Borgig was gliding across the sparkly water in his whaling canoe, with a sunburn and a half-empty basket of biscuits and dried fruit.

From underneath the broad brim of his straw hat, he squinted at the dark silhouette of the Eensies’ land. They were no doubt panicking over his impending arrival. After all, the Gargantuan governors forbade anyone from crossing the ocean without permission, and they never permitted visits to Eensy land.

Which worked fine for the Eensies, who wouldn’t tolerate any Gargantuans stomping all over their towns anyway.

As a ship the size of a large toy boat approached Borgig’s canoe, he pulled his oar up and waited, feeling the tightness of his own smile. He wasn’t frightened, but this was nevertheless a dangerous and illegal venture, and he already yearned for the security of home.

He was a young man with a son to raise, after all.

This was for his people, though. For his and theirs. They weren’t at peace, but they weren’t at war, and Borgig despised that unstable, in-between spot. It was like lukewarm tea—the drink only tasted right piping hot or icy cold.

The ship kept a wary distance but was near enough that Borgig could see the tiny crew scurrying around, and the shiny sound-amplifier attached to the prow instead of a figurehead.

“What are you doing here, Gargantuan?” The bitterness of the high-pitched voice coming through the amplifier was no surprise.

“Good afternoon,” Borgig whispered, awkwardly. He had never spoken to an Eensy before, but he knew enough to keep his voice low and wispy. Eensy mouths were just that—very, very small. “I’ve come to talk to a governmental authority. I want the best for both Gargantuan and Eensy folk, and—”

“Free-passage papers, please,” the voice spat.

Borgig watched, motionless, as the ship turned to face him lengthwise. Its cannon holes made him doubtful of the cooperation he had hoped for. Could his only threatening quality, his “enormous” size, be threatening enough?

“I don’t have papers,” Borgig murmured to them. If they tried anything, he could paddle closer and whack the ship with his oar. “The governors would never let me come. But if you’ll hear me out, I—”

Borgig stiffened. His eyes rolled back, and the canoe rocked as his body suddenly convulsed. Zaps of electricity slithered over his patched clothes, singeing his curls.

The ship’s cannon had fired lightning-quick.

The rumors of sophisticated Eensy weaponry were true, then. How had they developed the lethal cannon-bullet—with mountain magic?

Silently cursing his foolishness, the Gargantuan fell. As the spasms receded, he felt himself already fading, leaving his supportive wife and beautiful child behind.

And yet… Even though his nonbelligerent action was illegal, when his people found him, they wouldn’t tolerate an unnecessary Gargantuan murder by Eensy hands.

Like he had told Ory, maybe they needed war to get peace.

Splayed across his canoe while the sun beat his face, Borgig clung to that eensy hope with his final breaths.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Katrina Michelle is a university student doing her best to balance classes with her passion for storytelling. She spends her days studying in pursuit of a Spanish degree, inching through her most recent short story or novel WIP, and devouring books (such a sweet break from academic reading). Her Myers-Briggs type is INFP, and she can’t look at any BBC Merlin pins on Pinterest without feeling suddenly and extremely emotional.


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10 comments - Join the conversation

 

  • Poor Borgig and his family. It’s easier to think of bigger folks being the bullies – I love that you flipped that trope!

  • Jonathan Swift would be proud. You captured his purpose – social commentary in a fantasy, even absurd setting. And you put a great spin on a classic scene from Gulliver’s Travels. Well played!

    • Wow, thanks so much! I’m actually delightfully surprised by this comment because although I’m SURE I gleaned inspiration from Gulliver’s Travels for this story (it flitted through my mind a couple times), I didn’t actually mean to retell any part of it. That’s so cool you saw that in my story! :D

  • Great story, Lila! Borgig was such a likable character and easy to root for — which made the ending that much more unexpected and heartbreaking. I hope his sacrifice wasn’t in vain!

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