Chapter 4: PATRICK'S SECOND GROWTH SPURT
Patrick never wanted to kill anything. It wasn’t in his nature. He had learned how to behave from his brother Thomas on how a Prince should be, and Thomas was against killing so, therefore, Patrick tried to be. Even though their father, King Daniel, sighed tiredly and told them that for a Kingdom to be protected, a certain amount of violence was necessary, the young Princes did their best to avoid such matters. Thomas used his good looks, his soft voice to try and get out of conflict, and Patrick just used the threat of his gigantic future to make people respect his wishes today.
For most of the life he could remember, Patrick, the royal giant, slept outside in nature. He was sure the population of spiders, and beetles, and ants were less in the castle than in the large barn-type area where he laid his head. Here, the insects were plentiful. He got used to them, and the flies, buzzing about him as he slept. He almost didn’t feel their tiny legs anymore as he drifted off. Before, it would drive him nuts, and he’d be swatting at them all night, but now, as long as they didn’t bite, he was fine with it all.
It wasn’t until he watched an insect on his skin, to see if it was a mosquito, to see if the bug was going to inject its long beak into him, and to see if its body was going to fill and turn red with his royal blood, that Patrick really felt a connection with the insects. They were in this world to survive. As far as Patrick knew, there wasn’t hurtful intent in any insect alive. These insects merely lived to live, and feed, and multiply through laying eggs or whatever, and continue on. So, even if this mosquito (which, this one wasn’t a mosquito, just a common stinkbug) did suck Patrick’s blood, if the bug knew Patrick’s language, it would probably thank him for it, or at least, be grateful.
It was on this realization that Patrick decided he would try his hardest to not kill any more insects, whether they were bothering him or not. He was a human. He had all the control needed in any situation, and to kill a poor insect for just trying to live seemed ultimately too cruel to him. He realized that just by being a nine year old, accidents were to happen, and he might squash one of them from time to time under his foot, but as long as it was accidental, he felt it was the insects fault taking a certain amount of risk bunking with an adolescent giant.
Thomas once laughed at him when Patrick, so bothered by a fly, simply kept waving it off.
“Just squash it, Patrick, and be done with it,” Thomas had said.
“No. It’s my fault. I need to shower. The fly is attracted to my smell at the moment. They like the odor. It’ll hopefully move on eventually.”
“Patrick the Saint,” Thomas smiled. “You know, with your weight, you’re killing millions of bugs every time you step. You’re crushing chipmunk tunnels, you’re suffocating grubs. Obliterating habitats with every step.”
Thomas was right, Patrick was a burgeoning giant. In fact, as he woke up today, he had already another growth spurt, which would be two in just as many days. His growth spurts seemed to come as he was sleeping, or that was when he noticed them more. But, if he was six feet tall yesterday, today he was closer nine. The hay he had gathered for a bed last night didn’t hold his large frame today. The post that he would measure himself at weekly now seemed ridiculous to look at since three days ago he was a third of his current size.
His brother’s mention of weight came on the fact that when a giant is born, it looks like a typical baby. Ten fingers, ten toes, squishy pink cheeks and tufts of hair, but the baby, whose mother was on bedrest for the past six months, weighed ten times the amount of a normal baby, for a giant is born with an inner mass that carries with it the promise of a very large growth spurt later in life. Patrick’s affliction was a surprise as there had not been a giant in the lands for so long that nobody could even tell Patrick or the royal Lishens family what to expect with the child. They simply put him up in the field next to the castle to ensure that he did not crumble the buildings whenever he threw a typical two year old tantrum.
So, Patrick woke on this day, amongst the insects and a couple of varmints, and stared down at his toes, wondering if his eyes were deceiving him, because they seemed so much farther away. He looked at his hands, at his fingers which seemed so much longer. The pieces of hay now appeared to be like toothpicks in his grasp where once, not too long ago, he felt he could fashion a hat out of the straw. Now it seemed like an unlikely task. Patrick put his hand down, and pushed himself up, bumping his head on the first level ceiling. He hit that sweet spot at the crown of his head that instantly sent him into a bad mood.
“Ooomph!” Patrick exclaimed, feeling his frustration for making such a dumb mistake making his blood boil. He formed a fist, and sent it up into the wood, easily crumbling three days-work of the royals’ carpenters. The entire floor above him flew up off its fastenings and began to fall down onto his bed of hay, and Patrick, quickly thinking, reached out and grasped the entire six foot plank of wood to stop the barn from breaking apart, and to stop a quarter of the building from collapsing inward on itself.
It was too late.
The second level of the barn, the level that was open in the middle but wrapped around the edge of the building in order to store feed for the cattle and royal horses, lumber, and other building supplies, was broken above where Patrick slept every night. No longer would he have a covering six feet away. Not that he needed one anymore with his size, but it was still something he broke that someone would notice and give him that- “Patrick, you break everything…” look that he hated so much. And, as he tried to think just how to hide the evidence of his destructiveness this morning, he stood there holding an entire section of the second floor in his hands that still had bays of hay clinging to it.
He had no idea what cracked, but he knew he couldn’t just place the section back in to the upper deck, so he carefully placed it back on the ground. Surely, someone was going to notice that the second floor, once shaped like an oval, was now an uppercase “C” where he had dismantled it. Patrick, in his youth, felt like crying. He knew he was going to change, to grow, but he didn’t expect it so suddenly. And he always believed that once he became a giant, that he would prove everyone wrong. That he didn’t have to be out in the barn, out in the field, like an uncontrollable beast. He’d grow to his height, and he’d show everyone that he was a gentle soul, and he’d get his apology for treating him like anything but-…
But, once someone saw the fact he had already destroyed a section of his barn, it was Patrick who would have to apologize.
A low guttural moan sounded from the barn door and Patrick turned just in time to see a large black snout wedge between the crack, and nudge the door open. Lucky, the Bear Patrick had tamed last night in the woods, shoved the door open and looked in. The bear was checking to see what the commotion was, seeing if Patrick was all right.
“I’m okay, boy,” Patrick said. “Can’t say the same for the barn.”
Lucky approached Patrick, sort of wearily, noticing the boy had grown. Upon inspecting the youngest royal through scent, the bear rested its side, still bandaged from where that archer girl had shot it with an arrow, against Patrick. Patrick reached down, using his nails to scratch the bear’s furry back.
“What do you want to do today, Lucky?” Patrick asked the bear who was enjoying his rub down. “Probably can’t do much. Gotta let that wound heal. I’ll tell you what, though. I’m hungry. You hungry?”
The bear didn’t respond, just tightened its lips in satisfaction as the prince ruffled and shook its skin and fur with an almost violent back scratch section. Bears were used to rubbing themselves against the bark of trees. None could have imagined how amazing it was to be pet by a giant human child. None until Lucky the Bear could attest to it. Lucky began to sink to his belly, letting the pleasure of being pet take over, turning off the portion of its brain that it should always be instinctually alert. The animalistic nature killed those that crossed its path.
Lucky heard it before Patrick, but it got the bear’s attention. And instead of sinking to his belly, the bear rose his head in the air and sniffed toward the corner of the barn. The bear’s sudden attention got Patrick’s, and he calmed down his petting, looking in the direction where Lucky had raised its snout and began sniffing the air. The corner of the barn was dark, but, yes, something was there. Patrick could see what appeared to be a grey mist. The royal prince squinted, unable to make heads or tails of it. Just a grey mist in the corner of the barn.
But, how could grey mist have the weight to snap anything?
Patrick didn’t feel fear until Lucky the Bear began to growl, showing its large, bear teeth at whatever was hiding in the corner. For half a second, Patrick felt the fear zap all of his nerves to attention, and before he could process what it was that he should be afraid of, the thing stepped out from the shadows of the corner and into the sunlight that entered through various holes and cracks in the barn’s exterior.
Hideous, it wasn’t grey mist, but rather what looked like a skeleton wrapped in clothes from a hood to its ankles. The clothes were tattered with age, covered in dust, and the figure beneath them was purely grey skin and bone with lips that barely covered its teeth. The grey skeleton lunged at Patrick the Giant and Lucky the Bear with absolutely no fear of being outmatched. This thing, this ugly, grotesque being which snarled and hissed, carried with it a kind of confidence that was very off putting for the royal child.
Patrick didn’t have time to think. He merely clasped his fist in his other hand, making a sort of super-fist that he raised in the air, and brought heavily down on the evil, blanketed skeleton. It was the same move he used yesterday in the woods to render Lucky the Bear unconscious, so he could tether and tame him. But, this was not delivered with the same apprehension as Patrick put all of his weight behind the strike, hoping the first hit would also be the last hit and the threat would be over just as soon as it arrived. Patrick barely felt the skeleton crumble into a thousand pieces beneath his blow, but the creature was no longer a threat after that one strike. And as Lucky the Bear sniffed at the pile of worn-out clothing and human remains, Patrick had to justify what he had just done to himself.
It wasn’t an insect.
It was going to attack them.
He had to crush it.
He had to kill it.
He had to tell his sister, Kyrstin, of it.