It took her eyes a moment to adjust for she had never been in the presence of so much darkness. The sounds of her breathing and the small movements she made were strange, somehow close and confined. Was it fear she felt now or wonder? She was standing on something hard and cold, smooth and level. She reached out her arms to either side and felt nothing. She reached out in front of her and her hands were caught. A little yell escaped her.
“It’s alright,” a voice said. “Do you want me to turn on the lights now?”
The hands that held hers were huge, so huge that she didn’t recognize them as hands at first. And after all, why should she? She had never been touched by anything but the wind and the grass and dreams of kissing.
“It’s alright,” the voice said again.
“I’m glad,” she replied.
“Do you want me to turn on the lights now?”
She heard a loud click and her eyes were flooded with light. It took a moment before she saw anything more than a uniform whiteness. Gradually there appeared before her from out of the dazzling field a face, enormous and soft, like a face in a sugar cookie. Its eyes were little more than shadows under huge, doughy brows. Its mouth was a sweet, gentle smile. Its nose a dried apricot. And then when it spoke she could see that it was made of flesh, just like hers.
“Are you alright? Do you need a moment? You know, to adjust?”
“Yes, please,” she said. She blinked several times. It was all she could do since the giant was still holding her hands. That it was a giant became clearer and clearer each time she blinked. She could see its meaty fingers, its bassinette ears, its mat of hair. Where the rest of it was she could not tell.
After a short while just standing there blinking she began to understand that she was in a cavern. The rock walls were rough and streaked with moisture, but the floor was level, polished and dully gleaming. She craned her neck around to look for the door behind her. She saw nothing but a dark tunnel leading away from the cavern.
“Excuse me,” she said to the giant who was still holding her hands. “Wasn’t there a door I just came through?”
One of the giant’s bare brows cocked itself comically upward. “I don’t know, dear. It was very dark in here.”
“But how will I get back once the storm’s over?”
“Oh, there’s no going backward. Only forward. I should know. I tried to back out and look at me. I’m stuck.”
She did look and all she could see were the giant’s enormous shoulders looming behind its equally enormous head. Its body was obviously wedged into the passage beyond.
“How did you turn on the lights?” she asked.
The giant smiled. “I can work the switch with my left big toe. I appreciate the opportunity to be useful even in my restricted state so I turn it on and off as the situation requires. No one else can get to it.” He said the last brightly and with childlike pride, though it was he himself who was the obstacle.
Jill slipped her hands from the grasp of the giant and patted the knuckle of one gargantuan finger. “Well, I thank you for your help. I assume that way is forward?” She gestured behind her at the dark tunnel.
“Though my perspective is limited at this point, I would say yes,” said the giant. “You should probably hurry along now, dear. Find something to wear as soon as possible. You’ll get sick walking around like that in the cold!”
Jill looked down at herself and ran her hands over her round stomach. “Something to wear. Alright,” she muttered. She was rather exposed.
“Not that you wouldn’t get a warm reception from quite a few looking as you do,” the giant continued. “Cute as a little bunny, you are. Run along now, rabbit girl.” He raised one huge hand, extended a finger and patted her gently on the head.
“Thank you again,” said Jill. She turned and padded across the glassy floor of the cavern. When she reached the mouth of the tunnel she could see that it was very short. There was a wooden door at the end and a mat under the door. On the mat, in large white letters was the word “Start”. She walked cautiously to the door, feeling oddly anxious. Start what?
She looked back once more. The giant smiled and toodled a finger at her. It didn’t really matter what she was starting because she didn’t want to stay here, stuck like the giant. Pleasant, sugar cookie company though he might be.
She grasped the door’s plain brass knob, turned it and stepped through.