Jerry and Tommy lived in the North Cambridge neighborhood of Cambridge, Massachusetts. Not that they realized this, of course – they were only six inches tall. Well, Jerry was 6 inches tall. His younger brother Tommy was more like five 1/2 inches tall.
They lived in a small burrow close to a bike path with their mother, so they saw people like you and me every day, though they would consider us giants. They didn’t know whether their people had been the size of giants like you and me and had been shrunk down or whether the giants like you and me had once been like them and had been turned into giants. They only knew that, according to their mother, it had been like this as far back as she knew. Jerry and Tommy had friends and relatives all over the place, but they were spread out enough that, at their size, they may as well be in Timbuktu. Of course, Jerry and Tommy had never heard of Timbuktu, nor even knew that anything at all existed that far away from them.
Not sharing the same language as you and I, Jerry and Tommy’s people had their own names for things. Curiously, though, and quite by chance, many of the names they use are the same as ours, and most of the others are surprisingly similar to our own. What we call a bird, they call a birt. What we call a cat, they call a cit. And so on…
Something they loved about where they lived was all the creatures they’d see when the weather was beautiful and sunny, as it was today. They would often climb up a nearby oak tree and watch the birds, animals and people from up high. Tommy, who was a little braver than Jerry, would sometimes like to ride on a squiddel’s back to get up there. Jerry would take the slower route of climbing. Jerry would point out that while riding a squiddel was scary, it was also way faster and that meant it was over much quicker. But Jerry saw squiddels as unpredictable and easily distracted by the smell of nuts or the noise of a birt. They don’t particularly care if something that’s riding on their back falls off, and that’s a problem if you’re six inches tall and ten feet up in the air.
But today they had decided not to climb a tree – instead, they climbed up a chain-link fence to sit on top and watch the dugs. On the path next to their home, dugs were always on a leash and being led around by the giants, but on the other side they could run around after small spherical things, or larger flat round things which flew through the air. It seemed to Jerry and Tommy that basically, they were interested in round things for some reason.
(Once, at night, Tommy had come running back into their house in a panic and shouted to Jerry that he’d seen a huge round thing flying through the sky above them, but when they both went running back out, it was nowhere to be found. Ever since then, Tommy imagined that an enormous dug the size of a giant’s building might come running through at any minute to chase after whatever it was he’d seen.)
Tommy was at the top of the fence looking out at the dugs. In the distance, he saw a lot of younger giants playing with another spherical thing. “What does everyone like so much about round things?” he asked to no-one in particular, as Jerry struggled to make it up the fence. Jerry panted and puffed, and often stopped to close his eyes to avoid seeing how far up he was.
Eventually he made it to the top, and held on tight as he climbed over to sit on top as his younger brother encouraged him to relax. “It’s okay,” Tommy kept saying. “Look at all this – how cool is this?”
Jerry looked out, and gradually let his fear subside as he saw giants and dugs running around, as well as squiddels, birts and ribbits making their way through the grass, unnoticed by the larger creatures around them.
Jerry started to relax and loosen his grip on the fence… just as one of those spherical things hit the fence below, followed by the most enormous dug they’d ever seen. The fence rattled and shook, and Jerry suddenly felt less relaxed as he fell far, far down, landing on… the dug.
The dug’s fur was long and soft at least, and he’d landed on its back, but still… he’d landed on a dug! And not just any dug, but the biggest he’d ever seen. And an excited one at that!
Up above, Tommy was still absent-mindedly looking around and talking to no-one in particular. Sometimes he thought that no-one in particular was his brother, but when he got no response to a question about why some giants play with spherical things and some just watch, he realized that his brother wasn’t there.
“Hmm, that’s odd,” he said. “I was sure he was here a minute ago.”
Down below, the dug quickly picked the spherical thing up in its mouth, and turned around. And all of a sudden, Jerry was being propelled forward faster than he’d ever been in his entire life. He grabbed hold of fur as tight as he could.
“Aaaaahhhhhh!” he shouted.
Up above, the slight noise piqued Tommy’s ears. “Huh, that sounds just like Jerry,” Tommy said to no-one in particular. “Funny, though, he sounds like he’s moving further away from me..”
He looked around again. “Jerry!” he shouted without much care. “Jeeerrr-y!”
Down below, Jerry was having the most upsetting few minutes of his life. The dug had stopped running in time to drop the spherical thing at a giant’s foot, but for some reason, the giant picked up the thing and threw it away, which sent the dug shooting off at super-speed again. Jerry held on tight but was getting bounced around and only able to stay on because he was holding so tight.
The strangest thing happened the longer this went on, though. With each bump, Jerry expected to land with a thud and get really hurt, but the dug’s fur was so soft that he never did. In fact, each time he landed it was like jumping into thick grass.
In fact, it was quite fun.
A few minutes in, the dug stopped long enough to sit down and scratch itself, and Jerry finally had a chance to get down and go back to safety. The dug even looked back over itself and made eye contact with Jerry. For a split second, Jerry’s heart jumped, but then he realized the dug was having as much fun as he was. As he started to climb down, he thought about how he’d been so nervous of dugs before today, but how this – the biggest dug he’d ever seen – had turned his fall from up high into one of the most fun experiences he’d ever had.
And he decided to stay on.
The dug stood up again, and brought the spherical thing back to his giant, who threw it at the fence, this time even harder than before. The ball, and then the dug, went crashing into it. Jerry’s hands slipped off the dug’s fur, and as he landed on the ground, his brother came crashing down from up high, landing first on the dug’s back before bouncing onto the ground next to Jerry.
“Woah, that was crazy,” said Tommy, to no-one in particular.
“Yeah,” said Jerry, thinking about his own experience.
“Oh, hey Jerry!”said Tommy, suddenly realizing his brother was there.
Jerry proceeded to tell Tommy the whole story of the dug, and how frightened he’d been at the beginning, but how much fun it ended up being.
“Wow,” said Tommy. “And that was a big dug, too. Biggest thing on four legs I’ve ever seen.”
“Yeah,” said Jerry. “I can’t imagine riding on something bigger or more crazy than that.”
Little did they know, that sometime soon, they would ride on a creature much bigger and much crazier.
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