Everything was quiet and dark in the closet when I opened the door and grabbed a shirt and pants. Maybe they were all still sleeping. Five round objects the size of baseballs lying on the floor of the closet vaguely registered in the back of my mind as I slipped the shirt over my shoulders. I didn’t wonder about it though; I just assumed they were baseballs. It didn’t occur to me that I hadn’t put those baseballs in there!
All day, I smelled a strange, sweet, fruity smell, but it was not a fruit I could identify! Was one of the girls wearing a strange new perfume? Something drew me to suspect Danielle Coraldi. On lunch break, I went up behind her and sniffed really hard. She turned really fast, and I got a nose-full of her hair and choked.
“Excuse me?” She asked as I coughed and tried to regain my breath and my composure.
“Sorry,” I managed to rasp, and Danielle walked away.
But I still smelt the fruit!
I walked into my dorm room, and instantly the smell was so strong it almost knocked me over. It was the fairies making that smell!
I opened the window first and then went straight to the closet and yanked open the door.
The scent hung in multicolored clouds in the closet, and five round, green, basketball-sized objects rolled off each other and onto my dorm room floor. They were like smooth, light green melons with flowers on the top. A fairy crawled out of each of them. I snatched Sheerya by her wings and put her up on my nightstand.
“Would you mind explaining what those things are?” I asked her.
Sheerya shrugged, “They’re misti.”
“Misty? Misty what?”
“No, misti. They are our homes.”
“Where did they come from?”
“We made them,” she replied simply.
I just couldn’t figure out her logic! “But why did you have to stink up my room? Will it always smell like this?”
Sheerya bobbed her head and shrugged nonchalantly. “For the first while, maybe. It’s so strong because they’re fresh. The smell wears off in a couple days, don’t worry.”
But I was worried. My whole wardrobe reeked of misti, but there wasn’t anything I could do about it right now.
“Good grief,” I muttered, and dragged my book-bag outside to study for a few hours before heading back to Snowden House.
That evening, I returned to Snowden House. The security guard outside opened the door for me, and I went straight to the hall guard, like Mr. Gilroy wanted me to do.
“I’m going to clean the Schlimme Hall now,” I informed him.
“Will you need any help, kid?” he asked.
I shook my head. “Nah, I’ll just lock the door for privacy, and get ‘er done!”
The burly guard shrugged. “Whatever, kid. Just let me know when you’re done. Nobody wants to go in that room at night anyway. It’s too creepy, what with that new exhibit.”
I made no comment, but went straight away to the hall. Once inside, I locked the door behind me and opened the duffel.
“Sheerya, you and your friends need to make sure all the windows are closed and the doors are locked.”
Sheerya and her four fairy friends that I had freed the day before all flew around securing the area. Meanwhile, I set to work freeing the rest of the elves and fairies, with the help of Forander and the other elves. They all gathered close around me as Sheerya returned and immediately asked,
“Are you going to wake the giant now?”
“Well…” I stalled; I wasn’t too excited about waking a giant. “It’s going to take me a while to clean this whole room, and Mr. Gilroy wants it spotless. After that’s done I’ll wake the giant.”
Sheerya and the rest of the little folk took off before I even finished. Within fifteen minutes, the whole hall was clean.
Dang; now I had no excuse.
“Oh, all right,” I said, “what do I have to do, Sheerya?”
She flew up and surveyed the giant.
“She’s been frozen with a specific kind of paralyzer that is only effective while the eyes are closed. Her eyelashes are bound by small wires. All you have to do is remove the wires, and she’ll wake up.”
“All I have to do, huh?” I muttered.
Fifty pairs of eyes fastened on me; they were all counting on me to see this through. I suddenly wished I could be anywhere else! What had I done to deserve this?
I slipped some leather gloves on in case I needed to get a better grip, and began climbing up the wall. I suppose it would have been easier to use the stairs, but at the time I just wanted to get over and get done.
Once I reached the top of the wall, I swung a leg up, hoping to be able to take a break for a moment, but the momentum of my leg merely sent the rest of my body swinging over the top of the wall.
I landed a perfect spread-eagle belly-flop in the open palm of her right hand. I was momentarily paralyzed by fear, but then I remembered that she was still frozen and unconscious. To reassure myself, I jumped a few times on her open palm. Nothing happened; it felt and sounded like hard plastic or leather. Confident now, I climbed up her outstretched thumb and onto the pillow, making my way toward the head. Halfway to her face, I realized what I had just done and what I was planning to do now. The whole idea sent chills down my spine!
I decided to start with the left eye, the one furthest away, because it would be easier to get down when I finished the right eye. It suddenly occurred to me that I had forgotten to ask Sheerya if both eyes had to be unbound before the giantess would awake, or would she suddenly awake before I could get to the second eye. Now I only had one way to find out.
I stood on the side of her nose and reached over to where I could see the ends of the wire extending past the furthest eyelash. Each eyelash was roughly the size of a piece of straw, and the wires bound them together in clumps. I untwisted the last length of wire and smoothed apart the eyelashes, ready to jump down and run if she woke up, but she didn’t. Good; that gave me the chance to climb down and begin the right eye.
Almost as soon as I untwisted the last wire, I had to cling to those lashes for dear life as she suddenly rolled over!
“Mmmmhmmmm….” she sighed, rubbing her eyes. Slowly, gradually, her massive hands pushed me down her cheek and into her open, yawning mouth!
Her lips snapped shut over my waist. I felt a jerk, and her tongue pushed my face as she spit me out into her lap. She began spitting, trying to get the taste of me off her tongue.
“Oh yuck!” she cried, “What in Phantasm—“ She stopped; I surmised she must have seen me. She picked me up by the back of my shirt. “I had that thing in my mouth?” she looked at me in obvious disgust. That disgust quickly turned to curiosity as she studied me. “It…it’s almost…real,” she breathed.
“I am real!” I shouted.
“UGH!” she yelled, shaking her hand and flinging me much as you or I would fling an insect off our hands. Now that I know what it feels like to be the bug, I resolved then to be more gentle with them! I skidded across the floor on my back.
She sat up quickly and bumped her head on the ceiling. “Oww,” she howled, rubbing the back of her skull. She reached over and picked me up by my waist, laying me flat across her palm.
“Wh—what are you?” she asked, “Are you a fairy?” She flipped me over, perhaps looking for my wings.
“No, I—oof!” I said as she flipped me onto my back again, “I’m a human.”
“What?” she cried, “No way!” Her hand closed over my waist as she lifted me closer to her face. She grabbed my wrist between two fingers and looked closely at my hand. She prodded my body, and rubbed my face with her finger.
“I didn’t think humans existed!” she remarked, “So this is what you look like, eh? A little, itty-bitty giant!” She set me up on the scaffold-bridge and looked around the Hall. “So tell me, human, what is this place? Is it your home?”
“No,” I said, “actually…you’re at a museum.”
“A museum?” she cried, sitting up again and smacking her head a second time on the ceiling. “What am I doing at a museum? And why is my bed so small? I’m very uncomfortable!”
I looked at her legs. They did indeed seem quite a bit longer than just five feet beyond the fifty-foot mattress. “How tall are you?” I asked.
She straightened proudly, though carefully avoiding hitting her head again. “I’m sixty feet tall!” she announced, and then amended herself, “Well, actually fifty-nine and a half, but we’re talking a very small amount here. Speaking of which, why am I in this little tiny room? Why does it have little windows wa-a-ay down the—“ She poked one with her finger and it instantly shattered. “Whoops,” she said, “my bad!”
Sheerya and the little folk began cleaning up the mess as she asked me, “So, human, do you have a name?”
“Yeah, I’m Casey.”
She cocked her head, “Casey…and that’s all?”
“Well, my full name is Casey Rankin.”
“No, just Casey is my first name. Rankin is my surname.”
“Oh…Casey… short name.”
“What’s your name?”
No wonder she thought my name was short! “Do you mind if I just call you Linda?”
She looked at me strangely and shrugged, “Sure, if you think that’s easier for you.”
I checked my watch. It had been over an hour. Any longer and the guards might get suspicious. “Well, Linda, you’re going to have to lay down again and I’ll put the wires back on.”
Linda frowned, “Aww, do I have to?” she huffed. “Well, all right.” She complied, and even helped me down off the scaffold onto her forehead, where I laid as I replaced the wires. I had gotten about halfway across the first eye, when they suddenly sprang from my grasp as Linda opened her eyes again.
“Argh! Linda! Now I have to start all over again!”
“Oh, sorry!” She closed her eyes again. I finished tying the eyelashes, and her skin became stiff and hard again.
“All right everyone!” I said, climbing back over the wall again, “Time to go!” I held out the duffel, and the various elves and fairies climbed and flew back in. I zipped the duffel, turned out the lights, and left the Hall.
“I’m all done, sir!” I told the hall guard. I waited a beat before leaving, “Oh, by the way, one of the windows in the giant… exhibit is busted. It might need to be replaced before tomorrow.”
The guard frowned, “Careless gawkers!” he muttered, “Sure thing, I’ll get right on it. Thanks kid! Go ahead and get some rest,” he continued as I walked out the door, “you look like someone’s chewed you up and spit you out!”
I shook my head and laughed. That guard was closer to the truth than he could ever know.