Mikel froze in place and listened. He could sense movement anywhere the building through his feet. The wood floor hummed like an orchestra, telling of and pointing out creatures large and small, moving about, walking, running, sneaking, hunting. The wood building was not very large. It had a below-ground level, an above-ground level, and an upper floor. Despite its size, it had plenty of room for all of its inhabitants. The temperature inside held steady most days, and no predators ever came in. Well, other than the giants, of course.
There were three giants living inside. They used every room, but rarely in the below-ground level. Mikel preferred to stay there for that reason. To be out of sight. To hide. The giants ate twice a day in the eating room, where the food was stored. Once in the morning after they cleaned themselves, and again in the evening after they returned from hunting and gathering, and before they moved to rest in the upper level. Mikel kept inside at all times. His choice. Leaving the building was too dangerous. He learned that through numerous painful lessons since he was young. Every time someone left the building to gather food, he would never see them again. None of them ever returned. Predators, no doubt, go them. Animals, maybe even other giants. The group became smaller and smaller until a week ago when it was down to just him and Moona. Oh, poor Moona.
There was not much to do inside, and less so to see. That would not have been such a big problem had he been able to eat normally. But gathering food was incredibly challenging, and became even more so since the giants discovered them, his group. Every time one of them found a new way to gather, the giant would defeat it and the food would be hidden again in harder to reach places. The smallest of the three giants was also the most careless and would leave pieces of food everywhere; on the floor, on the plate, in the bucket. Mikel thought it did that on purpose, so it could watch them eat it. Very strange. There was that time when Mikel found some food on the floor in the eating room and started eating it on the spot. He was so hungry. He almost lost his mind when he realized the small giant watching him silently from the stairs. Mikel ran and hid so fast he forgot to take the food with him. What a loss. Damn it!
Movement! Mikel listened intently to the heavy steps. It was one of the giants. It descended the steps and walked into the eating room. It was so close, right on the other side of the wall! Mikel shrunk his body and lowered himself to the ground, trying to disappear into the wood crevices. He hoped his stomach will not growl. He had not eaten in three days, maybe more. Getting discovered, he knew, would mean certain death. He held still. The only part of his body that moved was his heart, and it was racing.
The giant stopped. Mikel recognized the steps instantly. It was the large giant. Despite its mammoth size, this giant was fast. Very fast. In a flash, Mikel remembered it chasing after Moona while another giant, the long-haired companion, howled from the top of the stairs. Mikel shivered in horror as he recalled Moona’s scream when the giant lowered the large wood on her body, killing her instantly. There was no hesitation in its move, just pure evil. It picked Moona’s limp body with its enormous fingers and carried her outside. When it returned a short time later it howled at the other giant, and they both started looking for Mikel and the others. They did not know he was the only one left. How could they? Lucky for Mikel he anticipated they would do that and hid quickly behind the curtains in the sitting room. He knew all the good hiding places. He also knew not to panic and run when the large giant came near him and moved the curtains from side to side, searching. Mikel just hung there with his eyes closed, thinking of Moona. It was the scariest moment of his life.
Mikel broke his thoughts and returned his attention to the giant. It made tearing sounds in the eating room. Curiosity overwhelmed Mikel. Was it preparing food? Not at this time. The giants already ate and would turn to rest soon. So, what was it? A new sound emerged, sharp, high-peached squeaks. Metal rubbing against metal, he guessed. Was the giant building something? He wished he had a better vantage point, but moving while the giant was near was risky. He needed to think of something. Maybe if the giant was so busy with this activity it would pay less attention to its surroundings? Mikel carefully considered where to move to. He had to stay in this room, in the dark, and go somewhere with a direct line of sight to the giant. The sounds the giant made came from the counter, which made sense. The giant only did things on the counter, never on the floor. It was too big to get down, and the counter probably made it easier for it to do things, like preparing food. Mikel listened again. The giant continued with its activity. It’s time, he decided. He moved slowly along the wall, careful to avoid the squeaky floor areas, not to disturb objects along the way, do anything that could alert the giants to his presence. He stayed in the dark, keeping a good distance from the patch of light that fell on the floor from the eating room. He reached the other side of the room and hid behind the structure that held the wonder thing. Many times, one or more of the giants would gather in the room in front of it and watch as other giants made of light appeared on it and howled. But it was now quiet and dark. Mikel crouched in his hiding spot and looked at the giant. It stood with its back to Mikel and did something with its hands. This was not good enough. Mikel needed to find a better spot.
More steps came from upstairs. Mikel instantly recognized the small giant. He heard it walking down the stairs before it appeared and stood next to the giant. They howled at each other a number of times. Mikel retreated slowly, letting the darkness cover him, hide him, protect him. He could still see well. With both of them only steps away from him he could not move anywhere. He waited. Shivering. Scared. Hungry.
The giant stopped making the metallic sounds and turned to the smaller one. It held something in its hands and showed it to the other. Mikel did not see anything like this before. It was a gray-colored device, probably a little larger than Mikel. The giant manipulated parts of the device and howled, but the smaller one did not howl back. Instead, it looked around the eating room. The giant howled again. Still, the smaller one remained mum. It now looked straight at Mikel’s direction. Could it see him? DID it see him? It was too late to move. Mikel closed his eyes. They were big and dark, but could reflect in the light coming from the eating room, exposing him. He listened and hoped. He felt no movement on the floor, only the giant continued howling.
Mikel peeked through the cracks. Both giants still stood facing each other. The smaller one howled, but in a lower voice. The giant opened the food door and took out a piece of soft cheese. Cheese! Mikel gulped. This was his favorite thing to eat! Oh, if he could only get one piece of this, just a taste, he would be so happy! If the giants would only drop it on the floor and not notice, forget to check, and leave. He would get it and eat it, and leave nothing behind, not a trace for them to find.
The howling stopped. Mikel watched as the giant placed the cheese into the device. It slowly pressed on it, which made the squeaky metallic sound again. The giant placed it on the floor. Mikel was stunned. Why was it doing that, placing food on the floor? Was it doing so on purpose? The giants were clean creatures that never left food behind them. Perhaps this was a new way for the smaller one to eat? Mikel could not figure this out. He waited.
The giant howled again, and the two turned and left the eating room. The light vanished instantly, and the place fell dark. Mikel heard the heavy footsteps. The giants climbed up the stairs. Mikel wanted to leap out of his hiding spot and grab the food, but waited. He could still hear movement upstairs. He would not dare getting exposed. He decided to wait. His eyes adjusted to the dark. The device rested in the middle of the eating room floor. The cheese smell hit his nostrils. So good! His stomach growled. Soon, he would quiet his hunger.
Mikel did not move. He relaxed his body and waited. The floor vibrations conveyed sounds from upstairs. They gradually quieted, then stopped. The giants were probably resting. Mikel stepped quickly into the eating room, the cheese smell pulling him in. He reached the device and investigated quickly. The cheese rested in the middle of the device. This would be easy, he thought. He slowly circled the device, careful not to make a sound. The cheese smell hit his nostrils hard and caused him to salivate. He completed a second turn and figured that the best way to reach the food would be through the opening on the smaller side. He stepped in and felt the cool metal against his body. The cheese was stuck on one of the metal parts. Mikel held it between his nails. Eat, finally! He pulled.