Jötunn (Flash Fiction)

Posted: July 22, 2014 in Fantasy, Fiction
Tags: , , ,

A challenge posted to me from Writer’s Carnival: The challenge was as follows: “You’re the proud new parent(s) of a little bundle of joy, only you discover after the first night home that your baby is growing at a phenomenal rate.  In fact, by the next morning, he or she is already looking and acting like a three month old.  You know nobody has swapped the child out because you’ve been up the whole night feeding her.  By the end of the week, your child is a full-on toddler.  You’re too afraid to go to the authorities, so what happens next? Where do you go and what’s going on?  No more than 1,500 words.”

Three feet tall. Forty pounds. One week old.

I stare down at the baby sleeping in the crib. My baby. My first born son. He was born only a week ago, and already wearing 4T clothes when he should be swimming in clothes meant for a three month old.

The growth was sudden and continuous. As soon as my wife and I brought him home from the hospital, he was as big as any three month old. Crawling by day two, walking by day three. I rub eyes burning from lack of sleep, and wonder if this is what going insane feels like.

My wife refuses to move from our bedroom, having barricaded the door. She yells at me to do something, anything. She refuses to look at our son.

I sneak out to the store while the baby is sleeping, buy food and milk to bring back. It… no, no it, he, my son, wakes up, demanding to be fed. He screams for food. I spoon it into his mouth as fast as I can, worried what would happen if he grabbed hold of my hand, forced it into his mouth. He already has a full-set of teeth, has already chewed through two of those plastic spoons.

The doctor calls, wants to know how everything is going.

“Fine, just fine.” I don’t have any choice but to lie. What else can I say? If I tell the truth, will they take my son away and subject him to tests and probes? Will he be treated like a freak, or worse?

At night, he cries, and I comfort him, holding him as he spills out over my lap. He’s in pain, I can tell, body growing faster than can be comfortable. A whole new definition to the term growing pains. He looks up at me with his ice blue eyes, so different from my dark brown ones, different from his mother’s hazel green. He touches my face with his hand.

Monday morning, I’m awake. Someone is pounding on the front door. I fell asleep next to my son’s, Harry’s, crib last night. He’s still growing, stretching through his clothes again. I’ve taken to putting him in just a diaper after he burst apart one set of clothes. I strain to lift him out of the crib when he’s awake. I leave food outside the bedroom for my wife, come and collect the trays when it is empty. She’s stopped talking all together now.

I stumble downstairs, unlock the door. Standing there is my father-in-law, Helen’s dad, Harry’s grandfather. Helen hasn’t seen her dad in fifteen years, ever since he divorced her mom. I recognize him from an old picture she showed me once.

“What are you doing here?” My voice sounds rough and scratchy, and I can’t imagine I look any better. I can’t remember the last time I took a shower, but it hasn’t been any time recent.

Weyland smiles down me, looking tired and worn himself. I’m a tall guy myself, but he’s got me by another foot at least. I didn’t realize from the picture just how big he was. Prize-fighter big. Heavy weight big.  “Came to see my grandson. My daughter too, if she’s willing.”

I bark a laugh. “Helen won’t even let me see her. Don’t know she’ll let you. How’d you even know you had a grandson?” I narrow my eyes, still standing in the doorway. I don’t know what I’ll do if he insists on coming in.

“Don’t be stupid. I still keep in touch with Greta. She told me about Harry. Tell me, has he stopped growing yet?”

I blink at him. “Come on in,” I say.

As we enter the house, I hear Harry crying again. “I’ll be right down,” I say.

I come back down, cradling Harry. My arms strain from the weight of him. He’d been crying, but wasn’t really awake. Now that I was holding him, he’d calmed down, nuzzling his face into my shoulder.

Weyland is sitting on the couch, the only piece of furniture big enough for him, huge calloused hands resting on his jutting knees. He smiles at Harry, but it’s a sad, melancholic sort of smile.

“Helen still in her bedroom, is she?” Weyland asks.

I nod. “Hasn’t come out since we got home from the hospital. She’s eating though.”

Weyland nods. “That’s good. She did call her mother, you know. Told her what’s happening.”

I narrow my eyes at Harry’s grandfather, and notice he has the same ice blue eyes as my son. “Greta called you? I didn’t think the two of you were on speaking terms.”

Weyland snorts. “Not my choice, I’ll tell you that. She knew what she was doing when she married me. I followed all her customs, paid the bride price, and gave her a daughter. I still love her and my daughter.” He shakes his head and I hear what sounds like ice tinkling. “I didn’t think it would breed true. He’s not even a half.”

“What? Not even a half what?” I try to keep my anger down, but it’s hard. One thing for this asshole to appear first thing in the morning, years after having nothing to do with his daughter’s life, and now to turn out to be a-

“Giant.”

“What?”

“Harry there’s  got giant blood in him. It didn’t breed true when it came to Helen, but seems little Harry there got the full dose.” He shakes his head, the melancholic smile back on his face. “Hasn’t been a wee one of the blood born in nearly a century.”

“You’ve got to be kidding me.”

Weyland stands up, and looms over me. Not like he can really help it, but he fills up the space in the room. In fact, he looks even bigger than he did out on the front porch. “Do I look like the kidding kind, Patrick?”

“N-no, sir.”

“Good.” He bends down, scoops up Harry and cradles him close to his chest. My son almost looks normal in Weyland’s hands. “I hate having to do this, but I am going to have to take him away for a time. It’s as much for your sake as it is for the boy’s. We’ll visit from time to time to be sure, but he needs to be among his own kind.”

I feel the tears starting, my eyes burning. “What do I tell Helen?”

Weyland wrinkles his nose. I stare up at his face, at the great curling rams horns bursting from his brow, at the mantle of ice he wears on his shoulders. “Tell her the truth. Tell her I took Harry home.”

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Comments
  1. Fun twist for the prompted story!

  2. Hi, I am Danyealah and I am a young writer, blogger and poet. I really enjoyed reading your short story. I was captivated while reading and the twist at the end was wonderful. Great writing!

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