Every year the bigger folk talked about going back up and every year they decided to wait. It went on so long that they forgot about the idea. The cavern was home. It was warm. It was safe. But it was dull.
Mee and Bur-up were young by bigger folk standards, but they were old enough to know better. They considered themselves ‘brave adventurers’, everyone else considered them fools.
Either way they found themselves stomping their way up hundreds of stone steps on a fairly normal Thursday morning. Bur-Up got tired. The most exercise he got was lifting food to his mouth. He was good at that, Mee had to admit, but it didn’t really count as training for a walk that hadn’t been attempted since before their great granny was born (bigger folk live a long time).
No one is sure if Mee was the braver of the two or if he was just the most foolish but he decided to continue up. The walls grew colder than anything he had ever felt. He felt sure the ice must still be there above them. Surely thousands of years of snow must have left it miles thick by now?
Instead of ice he found a cave. It was different than the stories. Smaller, more damp, more mouldy, more occupied. That’s when he met the creature.
It was small, slightly hairy, and it looked as though someone had put some clothes on it as a joke. Mee wondered if it was a pet of some sort. The creature made a horrible screeching sound. Yes, definitely a pet or guard animal of some sort. So where was it’s owner?
“Is you lost hairy beast. Where your bigger person gone?”
The creature stopped shrieking. The hairy little beast talked:
“My Mum and Dad are back at the car. What are you?”
Mee shook his head:
The tiny hairy beast laughed:
“No I’m me!”
“NO, I’m Mee!”
“No, I’m me!”
This went on for a while until Mee got a little upset and exclaimed ‘My name is Mee!”. The little hairy beast came over to him:
“I’m sorry. I thought you were playing a game. Hello Mee. I’m Alex. You look very different to me. Are you human?”
Me shook his head. He hadn’t heard the word ‘human’ before. Maybe that’s what the little hairy beast was. Mee tried to explain:
“Mee is one of the bigger folk. We live under the hill. We escaped the big ice. Is it gone now?”
The hairy ‘Alex’ didn’t know what he was talking about:
“It’s a bit frosty outside but I haven’t seen any ‘big ice’.”
He led the way to the cave’s mouth and that’s when Mee saw it; a huge ball of fire in the sky. He had heard about this in stories but he couldn’t remember the name for it. The ‘Alex’ called it ‘the sun’.
Mee told the ‘Alex’ about how Ey-Kan had made ‘the sun’ and thrown it into the sky with a machine. Outside the cave the cold air made everything blurry, the sounds were all soft and sort of wet.
When Mee spoke it was like there was cloth in his mouth:
“Two of the Alex. I’m not thinking good. All too slow. It’s really slowing out here.”
The Alex looked round. Mee was right, there were two of him now. Two humans anyway. His big brother’s face poked out from behind a tree; eyes wide, a silent scream struggling to escape his open mouth. The Alex waved:
“It’s OK Logan. He won’t hurt you.”
The Alex looked back to Mee:
“Did you say it’s snowing?”
Mee shook his head:
“No, slowing. My head not work so good out here. Need warm place.”
The two boys helped Mee find his way to their campfire. Their mum and dad had gone down to the car to get their picnic and the rest of their stuff. Logan had a backpack with him. In it were all the essentials for a weekend camping on a cold hillside; four packs of crisps and a big bag of marshmallows.
The bigger folk had nothing like this food. The squishy pink marshmallows were too good to say no to. Mee put twelve in his mouth then sat in the fire to get warm. The flames licked up his back and over his head. The heat melted the marshmallows in his mouth. It would seem that more melted means more delicious.
The ‘hu-mans’ were being very noisy. It made it extremely hard to enjoy his mouthful of pink goop. It stuck his teeth together a little:
“What the matter? You both OK?”
The Alex squealed in shock and with laughter:
“You’re on fire! Isn’t it sore?”
Mee frowned slowly, enjoying the last of his marshmallows as they melted down his throat:
“Why would fire be sore? Not like it’s cutting me or bashing me!”
The hu-mans laughed but stepped back. The Logan tried to explain:
“It’s just, people aren’t normally fire-proof. Not many living things are.”
“Hu? How strange. Can I have more mush mallow?”
The Logan slid the bag along the ground. Mee had grown so hot that his skin had changed colour; he was a deep, dark green now. If it wasn’t for the talking, and the moving, and the smiling, and the eating (and he was doing a lot of that now), the hu-mans might have thought he was cooking.
With a belly full of food and a freshly toasted butt Mee stood up and went for a wander in the forest. Cracking branches and knocking down the odd tree with a simple ‘oops’.
His next ‘oops’ came after he bumped into a big metal box. The box was perched on four squashy wheels. One bump was enough to send it rolling away from him.
The Alex caught up just in time to see the car rolling away down the road towards the town:
“Our car! What happened?”
Mee tried another ‘oops’ but the Alex seemed to need more than that:
“I bumped it.”
The Logan shook his head:
“Our stuff was in there. Our food was in there.”
Mee grew a lot more concerned about the runaway box:
“You mean more mush mallows?”
The Logan shrugged:
Mee ran after the ‘car’. It was far away, it had stopped, a wall had caught it. It was very broken. Mee went to look inside. He couldn’t find a lid so he just grabbed an end and pulled. It broke more. Since it was already broken Mee started pulling at all the sides looking for ‘mush-mallows’.
He found a smaller box inside, in it was lots of very cold stuff. Some of it could have been food, none of it was a bag of ‘mush mallows’. Mee wondered if they had fallen out, or if there was somewhere else he might find some.
Along the wall from the broken car Mee spotted a house. It was the first thing that looked right (though it was far too small). Mee knocked on the door and a hu-man answered. She was half his size, had steel coloured hair and her face looked strange, all stretched with eyes that didn’t blink. She was noisy too. She liked to say ‘arghhh’.
Mee looked down at the tiny person:
“Hello hu-man, I broke the car box and I need mush mallows. Where do mush mallows grow.”
The lady’s face stopped being all stretched and she seemed to have said enough ‘arghhh’ for now. Instead she became very quiet. Mee breathed slowly but it was still one…two…three, breaths before she spoke again:
“You can get food at the supermarket.”
Mee grinned a grin as big as the old lady’s whole head:
“Perfect. Where is the ‘Supermarket’?”
The tiny old person pointed into the town and told him it was at the very bottom of the hill. He gave her a quick “Thank you!” and went to get more ‘mush mallows’.
Thanks so much for reading. I really hope you enjoyed the story. Please let me know what you thought in the comments below.
I’ll have chapter three ready for you next week. Be sure to sign up to the e-mail list to receive chapters direct to your inbox (please click this link). You’ll also gain access to pdf printable versions of the stories (if you’d rather read without screens). I should also point out that the first eight chapters of the Bigger Folk will be available here on the website but later chapters will be released solely on the e-mail list.
As always thanks for reading, All the best, John
READ ON FOR CHAPTER 3: SHINY STONES vs SWEETS