A long, long shadow extended across the ground. Slowly, steadily, the shadow traveled over the land, following a much smaller figure in the distance.
Josh’s shadow stretched behind him under the setting sun. Red-gold rays from the horizon bathed the hills of the Wyoming countryside.
But Josh didn’t see the sunset. He stared sadly at his shoes, which stirred dust into the air with each step. His mind replayed the events of the last fifteen minutes over and over.
Buzzing from butterflied excitement swarmed in Josh’s stomach as he approached the mauve two-story house in front of him. Peaceful sounds of a summer night in the country filled the air, but noise filled Josh’s mind.
Was his hair combed right? Had that pesky zit on his upper forehead come back? Would all his dance lessons pay off, or would he look like an idiot? Would Teresa think he was a loser for walking her to the dance and not driving her? (How many times had he begged his parents to help him buy a car of his own?) Would she let him ask her on a second date? Could he handle it if she didn’t?
His palms felt sweaty when he neared the door. His throat was dry. Anxiously he studied his reflection in the outer glass door, smoothing out a stray strand of his shaggy brown hair. His blue eyes, like always, shone brightly out of his face. He always imagined himself to be more attractive than his reflection gave him credit for, he thought with a sigh.
Most girls wouldn’t give him the time of day, probably because...well because he was shy and short, he guessed. At sixteen years old, he still only stood five feet and one inch tall.
He lifted a trembling hand and wrapped on the glass door.
A minute or so later, the inner door opened and Teresa stood there. She brushed strands of blonde hair out of her eyes. She stared at him with a neutral expression.
A very neutral expression. Josh’s heart sank.
“Hi Josh,” she said without opening the glass door.
“Hi,” he said.
“Listen, I’m really sorry about this, but Calvin asked me to go the Harvest Dance right after you did, and he and I have been talking about going out for a while, so...”
His heart seemed to sink low enough to drop into his legs.
“...I tried to text, but it wouldn’t go through for some reason,” she finished half-heartedly. “Anyway, sorry again.”
“It’s, it’s okay,” he told her, even though it wasn’t.
He turned and walked back down her driveway, listening to the sound of the door closing.
He kept his eyes on his shoes as they carried him between rows steep hills dotted with rocks, grass, and sagebrush. The hills blocked his view of the few farmhouses dotting the landscape. His family’s own farmhouse waited a mile or so down the dirt path. Walking along the gravel highway would have gotten him home faster, but he wasn’t in a hurry tonight.
“How many?” he asked himself out loud. How many girls had turned him down since he’d tried to start dating a year or two ago? He’d either lost count or couldn’t force himself to remember. “This isn’t fair!” he hissed. Tears began welling in his eyes and he willed them down, ashamed of his emotions.
He craned his neck backward and glared up at the sky.
“Come on God!” he growled. “Just once, can’t I catch a break? Just once, can’t I get the girl?”
“Well, I’m not God, but maybe I can help you out,” said a feminine voice from somewhere above him.
He froze in place, pulse thudding in his ears. His mouth felt suddenly dry. He spun one way and then the other on his heels, searching the air wildly. The voice had definitely come from over his head, he was sure.
“Over here, Joshy boy.”
Adrenaline surged through him like liquid fire at the mention of his name. He whirled toward the direction of the voice.
A figure loomed twenty or so feet from him, on the edge of the plains streaking to the horizon.
The figure was enormous.
Josh realized where he was.
In his distracted moping, he’d wandered close to the town’s edge, where an invisible energy field protected the town from Brobdingnagians.
The Brobdingnagians: Giants from an island in the sea, whose population began to spread throughout the world decades ago due to overcrowding on their turf. Peace still existed between humans and Brobdingnagians, but a tense one. The energy shields were necessary in case a rogue giant decided to cause mischief, or worse. Human towns remained separate from Brobdingnagian settlements, with the energy barriers finalizing that separation.
Now Josh had meandered right up to the border of the shield, and experienced his first up-close view of a Brobdingnagian.
He gasped in surprise, stumbling backward.
He guessed she must have reached nearly seventy feet tall when standing fully upright, but right now she wasn’t upright. Instead, she sat cross-legged on the ground. Dark-blue fabric covered her upper body. Her face belonged to a teenage girl: fair skin, auburn hair, hazel eyes. But her face could fit easily in the center of a billboard.
“You’re a Brobdingnagian!” he cried.
“Good eye,” said the gigantic being. “Don’t be scared. I won’t hurt you.”
Of course she wouldn’t, because Josh still stood inside the protection of the shield.
She smiled at him.
“See? Not too scary, am I?” she asked. “Hint: The answer is no, not even a little bit.” She winked at him.
Her voice projected powerfully out of her throat.
“What are you doing inside the borders of the town?” he demanded.
Her sheer size overwhelmed him and captivated him simultaneously. He studied her mini-van-sized boots and her long, bare legs.
“Why am I here? Uh, I got bored.”
Josh stared. “You got bored,” he reasoned aloud. “Were you...,” he gulped, “following me?”
She nodded again. “Yep.”
“Why?” he demanded in astonishment.
“Well...” She hesitated. “I was exploring, checking this place out, and then I saw you! I followed you for a while, saw your, err, conversation back there.”
Josh shook his head, hardly able to believe this was happening.
“Thing is,” she continued, “I think you’re pretty cute, and that chick back there is a moron.”
Josh’s mouth dropped slowly open, his forehead wrinkled in confusion, and his eyes blinked rapidly.
“Y-you think I’m cute?”
She flashed him a tight, closed-lipped smile. “Oh yeah.”
“I’m dreaming,” he said. “This is a dream.”
“Say what?” she said. “You’ve got to speak up. It’s hard to hear your little voice.”
“I..., never mind. What, I mean, what do you want?”
She leaned forward and smirked conspiringly at him. “I‘ve got time to kill. You just got dumped. So I’m thinking: Let’s go on a date.”
A Brobdingnagian had just appeared out of nowhere after stalking him, she thought he was cute, and she was asking him on a date.
“H-huh?” he breathed.
“A date. You and me. What do you think?”
He tried to respond, but could only manage a pathetic sound halfway between a whimper and a gurgle.
“I mean, I know for a fact your evening’s wide open,” said the giant girl, grinning.
He stared at her. “Who are you?” he blurted.
She chuckled. “My name’s Karen.” She leaned even lower, smirking at him and raising an eyebrow. “So what do you say? This shield only keeps out Brobdingnagians. All you have to do is waltz your cute butt right through it, and we can start our date.”
His heart pounded in his chest. Should he trust her? He’d heard that every Brobdingnagian was different. Some acted kind. Others...not so much. He gazed at her enormous hands resting on her pale knees. One of them could easily crush him, or manipulate his body against his will.
But then he looked at her huge, pretty face again. Her hazel eyes glinted in the rays of the setting sun. The V-shaped neckline of her shirt dipped just enough to showcase a subtle hint of pale, curved skin.
Warmth rushed to his face and excitement crackled through his body.
Okay, so Karen was a giantess. She was also the only girl to show interest in him in years. And she was beautiful.
“Okay...Karen,” Josh said. His voice sounded so frail in his ears compared to hers. “I, uh, I guess we can go...on a date?”
This is totally happening, he thought to himself.
“Fantastic!” she exclaimed. “But you still have to come on over here,” she added in a singsong voice.
“R-right,” he stammered.
Palms, clammy, legs trembling, he forced himself to take one step after the other. He slowly approached the invisible barrier, marked by a streak of orange paint on the ground. Taking a deep breath and saying a silent prayer, he stepped over the streak.
His only clue of the shield’s presence was a faint prickling of the hairs on his body and head, like a jolt of static electricity.
Then he stood even closer to the monolithic teenage girl.
She grinned delightedly down at him.
Her hand suddenly rushed toward him. He gasped and held up his arms defensively. Next thing he knew, her huge fingers were wrapping around him and his feet were leaving the ground.
He cried out wordlessly as he rushed toward her gigantic face, wind gusting through his hair. Her fist stopped four or five feet away from her enormous lips.
He grunted and struggled in the grip of her fist, heart racing in terror.
“It’s okay,” she said soothingly. “You don’t need to be afraid.”
He stared at her face, gulping air into his lungs in an attempt to slow his breathing and calm down.
She grinned. “I know this is a lot to take in. Try to relax though, huh? Enjoy it. I mean, let’s face it, you’re life was pretty boring up to now, compared to this.”
“I...uh...” Josh blinked at her, unable to disagree.
She laughed merrily, opened her first, and tilted her hand backward. This caused Josh to fall onto his back in her palm. He propped himself up by his elbows and pulled his knees toward his body.
“My you’re adorable!” she cooed. Then she frowned. “But based on your rant from a few minutes ago, not many girls have told you that, have they?”
“Uh, no, not really,” he answered. He frowned self-consciously. “They, uh, think I’m kind of average, I guess. And too short.” He added hurriedly, “That’s what a few have told me, anyway.”
She scoffed and laughed loudly. Her laughter rattled his eardrums, but the sound was undeniably musical.
“Too short!” she said through her laughter. “You live in the equivalent of a wildlife preserve for miniature humans, and the girls here say you’re too short.” She practically cackled. “Dumbasses!”
He stared at her, and then, slowly, a smile spread across his face. He began laughing too.
“Yeah, yeah, I bet you can’t imagine that, can you?” he joked. “Me being too short.”
She smirked at him, her laughter melting into a throaty chuckle.
“No, no, never. I don’t think you’d ever be too short for me,” she said.
Her free hand floated swiftly in and its forefinger ruffled Josh’s hair. He grinned while lowering his head under the gentle but strong pressure of her finger rubbing his head.
Her finger pulled away, and he looked up at her again.
“Well Josh, should we begin our date?” she said in an overly dramatic tone, raising her eyebrows meaningfully.
“Um, s-sure,” he stammered. “I just, uh, don’t know what we’re going to do.”
She smirked more widely this time, eyes flashing. “Oh, I’ve got a few ideas. But first, why don’t we start with a nice evening stroll through the country, hmm?”
Her fist enclosed around him again. Her hand zoomed upward while she stood, sending his stomach reeling.
Several seconds later, snugly secure in the warmth of her soft fist, pulse racing, he watched the ground speed past below as Karen took massive strides across the landscape.
His date with the Brobdingnagian girl had begun.