People discriminate. It’s a fact. When you meet another person who looks like you, but with a different skin colour, a different gender, who is fatter or skinnier, taller or shorter, or more handsome or uglier than you, you will feel compelled to point out this difference. Maybe not when the difference puts you at the inferior end, but it will definitely come to your mind immediately. People discriminate against people who seem different from them, no matter how similar they are to themselves. In societies which condemn discrimination, sometimes they say, ‘All men are equal’, forgetting women. Amusing, right?
It is even easier to discriminate against something wholly different from you. For example, animals. We may think dogs and dolphins clever, but definitely not cleverer than us. Look, we have cities and poetry and art, what have they got? And when the creature is even smaller still, why should we esteem it? Yet a wise man, King Solomon, once said, “Go to the ant, and be wise.”. He was a wise man indeed. Ants do have their palaces, their catacombs, their kingdoms, same as we do, just at a size that they are comfortable with. But we forget that. We think that ants, being insignificant in size, would lead insignificant lives as well, won’t they? So we don’t consider it horrific when children burn ants with magnifying glasses, or when they poke their sticks into anthills, or pour water into them. We see an ant, we squash it. We can’t hear its inaudible screams as we crush it in between our fingers. It is just an ant, after all. A small tiny thing, with an inconsequential existence.
My people never realised how little we esteemed creatures smaller than ourselves. When you are the giant in your own land, there is not much that you would feel inferior to. What could have been our overlords, the dinosaurs, died millions of years ago. The oceans, in their vast depths, may contain hitherto unimagined monsters, but if we stayed on land we could pretend we were the greatest beings in the land, the dominant species on our planet.
We could pretend no more when he arrived.
He was a huge person. He looked like a human, with two legs, two arms, and a head. He even had quite a beautiful face when you managed to glimpse it through the clouds. But he was huge. By my estimates, his feet were as thick as a four-storey building, and as long as an entire street. His legs were as thick as the steam towers of a nuclear power plant and as tall as skyscrapers. The rest of his being was obscured above the clouds.
There was nothing we could do when he arrived. The moment his feet landed on the Earth, he had already crushed the Marina Bay Sands in Singapore and the Petronas Towers in Malaysia. Not to mention the people in them and around them; they barely had time to scream. And before any newspaper could write a story about him, before the United Nations could call for a meeting and find a way to talk to him, before the world’s superpowers could prime their nuclear missiles and launch them at him, he was walking all over the Earth, stepping on buildings and people alike. He flattened cities and farmlands, and he kicked Mount Everest into the sea (not even on purpose!). In one day, the majority of the human population was decimated as he stomped all around the world, and about every significant human achievement was destroyed – The Great Wall of China, the Pyramids in Egypt, and New York City. All that was left was rubble everywhere, crushed stalks of rice, wheat, and corn, and the humans who had been smart or lucky enough to be underground when he had come.
I was one of the lucky few who survived. I had been on the way to work, and was walking out of the subway when ‘BOOM!’ he stepped over the entrance while I was walking up the stairs. I went out to look and saw every single building for miles around had been crushed to bits. I scurried back into the subway with the other frightened commuters, and I’d been there ever since.
We caught glimpses of him as the days went by, which is why I was able to describe him earlier. He seemed oblivious to our existence, and to the evidence of our civilisation: our houses, our monuments, and our farmlands. We were tinier than ants to him, so small that he didn’t even bother with us. He had some interest in terraforming, though. In the last few days he was here, he started to rake Mt. Fuji (I could see Mt. Fuji from where I was holed up, after all the buildings were levelled). Don’t ask me where he got his giant rake from – I have no idea. He raked it out, and I presume other mountains and volcanoes as well.
He stayed on our world for about a week. I was lucky enough to survive long enough to see him leave. In the one week he was here, he did whatever he wanted, without a care for us. It was his carefree attitude that led us to christen him ‘kyojin ouji’ (‘the Giant Prince’ in my language).
When he finally left, we emerged from our hiding places to rebuild humanity. As we planted new seeds and built new houses, we hoped he would never pay us another visit.
As for myself, I never laughed at an ant again.
This is probably the story I’ve enjoyed writing the most so far, and I think it is probably the most enjoyable one to read as well. After I thought of the idea, the story was written quite easily. I tried to channel a cynical Antoine de Saint-Exupery as the narrator, since it’s his most famous work – The Little Prince – that I am referencing. And it seems easier to write a story when you are channelling someone else.
(I do need anyone who knows Japanese to check that my Japanese translation of Le Géant Prince is correct.)