Mythology & Folklore & Legends!!
What Would Neil Gaiman Do?
Commenting To 
10th-Sep-2010 07:16 pm - Jack and the Beanstalk.
Title: Jack be Nimble.
Character(s): Jack/a Priest
Folklore Used: English/Christian/Jewish
Further Reference(s): Goliath/Og
Rating: G
Summary: Jack (of the beanstalk and giant killer fame) has concerns about his ability to actually kill giants, since the story of the beanstalk was greatly exaggerated.

"I'm not quite sure how I'm supposed to begin. I've never done this before."

"You've never made your confession before?" the priest asked from the other side of the screen.

"Not like this," Jack said. "You see, I'm not actually Catholic, but I needed to tell this to someone before it was too late."

"Too late? What exactly are you planning on doing?"

"It's not what I'm planning. It's what going to happen."

"What do you mean? Surely you have some sort of control in the things that are about to transpire."

"No, not really," Jack said sullenly. "I've tried to get out of being involved, but no one will listen."

"What exactly is happening that you can't get out of?"

"You've heard the story with the beanstalk, right?"

"I'm sorry, I can't say that I have."

"Well, everyone claims that there was this giant beanstalk outside my window, a beanstalk that reached up to the heavens. Supposedly, I climbed all the way up it and started walking around on clouds. And it was up there that I found the home of a giant, and I stole all sorts of riches from him, which is completely absurd. How could I possibly walk on clouds, and how could a giant have a home on one? It makes absolutely no sense."

"So there is a story circulating about you doing impossible and unbelievable things. While that may be rather irritating, how can it lead to casing you so much worry?"

"Because there are people out there who actually believe that that idiotic story is true!"

"There is no reason to get so agitated," the priest said soothingly, or at least he imagined that he had taken on a soothing demeanor.

"You're wrong, there is every reason to be." His voice was on the edge of panic before he began to take long, slow breaths, and he leaned his head against the screen in front of him. "The story started out as something that was true enough. There was a beanstalk, and it was rather impressive. Well, really there were several of them, and they were all tall, taller than what many people had seen. I was complimented on my gardening skills by everyone who saw them.

"But somehow, some way, the story of my skill as a gardener changed. Somewhere along the line, the beans I used became magic beans, and I had become rich through daring and ill-begotten treasure. And by the time that the story reached the king, I had somehow become 'Jack the Giant killer.'"

Jack closed his eyes and took a shuddering breath. Pity filled the heart of the priest at the sound. Whatever was now going on because of what the king had heard, it was obviously causing the boy a great deal of worry; worry and fear.

"So," the priest said, "how does this story coming to the king mean something horrible? Surely such a story would be seen for what it was, just a story."

"I wish that were the case," Jack said, "you have no idea how much I wish it were that way. But for some reason that is completely beyond me, this story is being taken as fact."

"I still don't see how such a tale being taken as true could cause you so much discomfort."

"It's because I am now being considered as a giant killer, and no matter how many arguments I make to the contrary, everyone only things that I am being modest. And because everyone things that I am just that fantastic, they think that I will have no issue with the fact that they claim there's a giant coming."

"What ... what do you mean?" the priest said, panic starting to color the edges of his voice. "I don't know what you mean by 'giant.'"

"I mean a bloody giant!" Jack exclaimed, his voice carrying out into the church.

"Take a breath," the priest said, flustered slightly by the sudden and violent show of emotion. "There is no reason to get so excited."

"Of course, there is! There is nothing but reasons to get excited."

"Of course, there isn't. Whatever the stories say about you and your abilities, there is no reason for you to worry. There are no such things as giants, regardless of what some people may think."

"Really?" Jack said, taking on the coldness of someone who had issues with organized religion. "And what about the stories of Goliath and Og? Haven't they always been depicted as giants?"

"From what I recall," the priest said, as though he was suddenly incredibly tired, "Goliath was a Nephilim. Do you really think that there are people out there who are supposedly the children of human women and angel fathers? No, these alleged giants were only icons, examples to be used to make a point."

"Aren't you the one that's supposed to be telling me that everything that's in that book of yours is completely true, and there's no wiggle room for interpretation?"

"As far as I see it, there is a great deal of danger in reading everything that is found in there too literally. Was it divinely inspired, yes, but there are plenty of things in there that have been dumbed down for easy understanding. As such, there are plenty of metaphors and allegories to prove a point."

"Are you suggesting that the giants are one of those things? And that they aren't the reason for the flood?"

"The flood was caused by the wickedness of humanity."

"And by the wickedness of the Nephilim specifically, if we are to go by what Enoch and the Book of Jubilee said."

"I pegged you as not being a very religious man."

"I don't have to be to read sometimes read religious texts."

"Ahh, a bit of an academic, I see."

"Perhaps, a bit."

"Some might consider that a contradiction in terms, being a bit of an academic, and holding onto a belief in the supernatural. I, however, am not one of those people."

"Then, why do you not believe in giants?"

"While I appreciate academia, and I believe in the supernatural, this does not mean that I believe in every bit of every story that I’ve ever heard. If you cannot use your mind in deciding what is in the realm of possibility, then, you are a sucker."

"So, I am a sucker for fearing death by giant, of being turned into jelly for toast?"

"Son, you might, at most, only have to fear the coming of someone who is taller than most. But when the others see that what they fear is only another man, I doubt that you will need to prove any skill in giant killing."

"Those are a lot of ifs," Jack said. "A lot of maybes to hang my life and future on."

"No more than the possibilities that you wanting to hang it on."

"What are you talking about?"

"I have still never seen any proof that there has ever been anything remotely like the giants of legend."

"What happened to faith? Aren't you supposed to be the one who preaches about having faith?"

"There is a difference between having faith, and just being plain gullible. Besides, I think that there is a bit of a difference between the things that are being believed in."

"Why? Because I believe in the one, and you believe in the other?"

"That's not it at all."

"Really? Then, what is it? You want to be able to pick and choose the things that you believe in?"

"I have chosen, and there is no room for unsubstantiated folktales within that."

"Even though you just admitted that there were stories of giants within your own religious texts and lore?"

"I seem to remember stating that that was allegory."

"You know, the longer that this goes on, the more that I'm thinking that you aren't going to be any help to me at all."

"No, son, wait--"

But Jack didn't wait; he exited the confessional, and then, made a hasty exit from the church itself. And he continued to ignore the priest, even as his name was called over and over as he walked out.

Days filled with grand imaginings passed slower than he had ever though that they could have. The sun trudged through the sky, as though the sky itself was made out of molasses. And no matter how hard he tried, there didn't seem to be any way for him to make the hasty retreat that he was so desperate for. No matter which way he turned, there always seemed to be someone there; there always seemed to be eyes on him, or someone who wanted to speak with him about his upcoming fight; night, day, it didn't matter.

He had no desire to go through with this; he was sure that it would lead to his immediate, and yet incredibly painful death. But he couldn't seem to figure out a way to get away without people noticing, and he knew that the longer he waited, the harder it would be.

Then, a buzz filled the air, and there seemed to be even more eyes focused on him. It could've meant only one thing: the giant was on its way. He realized that he had waited too long, and now, he was rightly and properly boned. His own death was taking huge strides toward him, and would probably be meeting him rather shortly.

Racing back to his home, he locked himself inside, pushing furniture in front of the door, for a bit more security. He knew that the added bit of stuff against the door probably wouldn't do him much good, as far as protection, but he couldn't help himself. Fear was driving him, moving his limbs wherever it wanted them to go. And when he managed to stop, he slid to the ground, his back against the furniture that pressed against the door.

He stayed there for a long time, for longer than he was sure of. It wasn't until the ground began to shake that he suddenly became aware of what was going on around him. With each rumbling shake, he knew exactly what was going on, exactly what had come.
There was no escape now.

When the sky darkened, the terror that filled him got exponentially greater, though that hadn't seemed at all possible. And as much as fear had been able to make him move not all that long ago, terror now made it impossible to move in any way. His whole body was completely frozen, and his mind was fogged beyond functioning. So much for the fight or flight instinct; he couldn't manage either.

He barely registered the screams that came from outside the house, barely registered that there were others who may have been just as scared as he was. Their fear wasn't nearly as important as his own, their lives not nearly as valuable. If he had been able to have a clear thought, he would've been ashamed by not caring about their pain or fear, and would've at least wished that he had dared to help them.

Then, a portion of his roof seemed to disappear, and when he looked up, he was looking into a large, smiling face.

He was so very, very wrong. They are real, was all he could think before everything went black.
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