Another writing group exercise. This prompt was “giants.”
Bigger than Hank
Kirstie swung the heavy tool bag over her shoulder as she pushed open the aluminum door of the trailer. The sunlight was blinding on the quiet work site, soaking into the rock and bouncing off the still machinery. Only far-off city sounds and noisy birds disturbed the hole that would be the underground parking of this future shopping mall. Walking out into the sunlight, she began to unroll the wide coil of orange extension cord as she moved toward the enormous hole in the ground.
She had given everyone the day off, because she wanted to be alone. She had work to do before the Beast found out what she was up to. That’s what she called him. In her head anyway, she always thought of her husband, Hank, as “Beast,” because they not only shared the same name, but he really did remind her of the big blue scientist from the X-Men. Fifteen years older than her, a foot and a half taller, he was a giant in every way, looming over her physically and in some ways, intellectually. When they first started their relationship as professor and student, she was awed by his insight and discoveries, but a decade later, she had come to resent being always in his shadow.
Climbing over the rope that marked the perimeter, she thought about her conversation with Hank earlier in the morning. He knew something was up, but she was vague about the details. He had tried to talk her out of traveling alone to Bolivia, asking her to wait until he could go with her, and she didn’t tell him she was already here. It was unlikely he would come home early from Nepal, but she didn’t want to take any chances because she needed this trip alone.
She began her descent down the makeshift stairs that had been added for the work crew. There was nothing but a vaguely geometric carved out place in the dirt and rock, with smooth, roundish pieces of stone jutting out at odd angles. Walking to one, and dropping her bag, Kirstie fished out the probes and started untangling the wires, frowning at the strange pattern in the dirt under her bag. She hadn’t noticed that in the photos they sent, but maybe the rains had caused the wide ripples. She knew the stone wouldn’t give to her chisels or pick, because the workmen had already tried dynamite to no avail, so she set those aside. The probes pushed into the dirt easily on opposite sides of the round stone and she connected her banged up tablet to the switch box to get started.
These “rocks” were it for her. This was her moment to shine, and if she was right, the world would quickly forget about Hank and his epic discoveries. Saying a little prayer that the resistivity survey would come back the way she hoped, she continued to reset probes and make notes until the sun had moved to the other side of the thirty feet tall rock to cast a shadow on her work.
While she was walking around waiting for her last reading on the first piece, she paced around to the next nearest stone, noting that this rock had a striated pattern radiating from it. As if the rocks weren’t odd enough, something was definitely going on with the dirt.
The electrical readings had confirmed that whatever indestructible material the outer crust of the “stones” was made of, there was some kind of elaborate structure inside that could be organic. But as she glanced over the site she realized she had missed the most important observation, even with the aerial shots she had been sent.
Kirstie backed up slowly before turning and making a run for the stairs. Two stairs at a time she flew to the top, ducking under the rope and dashing to the trailer. A moment later she burst back through the door so quickly she broke one of the flimsy hinges, a stack of photos gripped in her hands. Slow steps took her all the way around to the other side of the site, opposite the stairs, while she sorted through photos in her hands, dropping the ones she didn’t need. She stopped exactly where one of the photos would have been taken, and stared for a long time at it before closing her eyes. Opening them, she looked up at the sky and took a deep breath. Desperately she wanted her hunch to be right, at the same time she knew she should hope to be wrong.
Two days ago the photos that were taken showed smooth dirt all the way around all the stones. Now she could see that not only had the strange patterns been formed, the stones jutting out weren’t even in the same place.
The stones weren’t individual, they went together, half-buried. And the ripples around some of the stones made sense when seen from above. Whatever was buried here might be bigger than the Statue of Liberty, but all curled up and tucked away, as if asleep. If she used her imagination, it could even be person-shaped. One piece of a shoulder and some of an arm. A hip, a knee, an ankle. And now it was clear to her that whatever it was, it had shifted in its deep slumber, pushing and scraping the dirt around it.
It was waking up.
Oh, how glad she was that Hank hadn’t joined her on this trip.