Don’t mess with the Giant.
We learned that fundamental rule very early in our stay here. The natives take their god seriously.
“Do Not Touch” is a simpler way to put it.
Our lesson came the hard way. Six of our best people were killed on the first expedition to the Giant – felled by the otherwise most congenial people we have ever encountered on our planetary explorations.
We don’t know whether the Giant is animal, vegetable or mineral. It was visible from orbit upon our arrival, which was the primary reason we set down here. The giant rules the horizon, driving us crazy with its nearby unknowability.
The giant appears to be worshiped by the planet’s primitive humanoids. We’ve been close enough to see the structures erected at its feet. Temples?
We’ve observed that some of those who march, single-file to the temples every four planetary rotations don’t always come back. Sacrifices?
Theories about the nature of the Giant abound, as one might expect in a scientific community denied access to the focal point of its curiosity and further hampered by an incredibly hostile environment.
A few of us speculate that the Giant is a natural landscape feature, mindlessly forged by the same forces that shaped the planet as whole.
The least discerning eye cannot escape the detail of the Giant’s sagging face and posture. Random elements of nature could not create that figure.
More likely. The Giant is a mountain, painstakingly transformed, Mount Rushmore-style, as a tribute to some fallen hero from the planetary past.
Yet, the inhabitants to not appear to have the technological means to create such a monument.
That leads to my pet theory: The giant was a living being. He was a member of a king-sized race which preceded the current dominant species.
Slumped in despair at the demise of the rest of his kind, he was the final victim of an ice age that suddenly engulfed his world.
I am alone in this flight of fantasy. Most scientists, meaning those who are not me, require empirical data to support a hypothesis and form a theory. I had gone straight to theory.
I argued that, completely lacking scientific evidence for any theory explaining the giant’s existence, my conclusion was as valid as any other. As highly-educated and rational people, my fellow expedition members refrained from burning me at the stake, but I could read the look of dismissal in their eyes whenever we met.
Then came the awakening.
I had taken advantage of a toasty, minus 40-degree day to make a solo trek to an ice ridge about a quarter-mile from camp when the ground abruptly heaved and tossed me on my face. Somehow, I did not feel surprised when I looked back to see that the giant had risen and was facing the camp.
He did not look pleased.
I watched in horrified fascination as the giant strode purposefully toward the camp. The ground shook with each step.
When he reached the camp, he paused to look down on those who had invaded his domain. The entire expedition had grouped at the edge of the camp, staring up at the giant with, I assumed, an intense, scientific thirst for knowledge.
I cupped my hands and shouted in their direction.
“Ha! I told you so!”
Big mistake. As my words of vindication still echoed across the barren landscape, the giant squashed all of my colleagues with one well-placed foot.
Now, he’s coming in my direction. I wonder if I can somehow convey “I believe in you, Mister Giant,” when he gets here.