James walked slowly, a dry wind picked up, stirring the dirt around his feet and bringing with it the scent of dust. He breathed shallowly until it passed and the dust started to settle again. He should have brought a mask with him, but he had thought he wouldn’t need it for some stupid reason. He had seen others go through without masks, so he figured he would be okay. He stopped and fumbled through his pack for a moment before he found a bandana, carefully he tied it around his mouth. Then he shouldered the pack and continued. He could feel their gaze on him, staring down with dead eyes. He could feel them calling out to him, beckoning him closer. He stayed in the centre of the path. Sometimes he would glance at their feet and see shapes huddled against them. He had shone his light on one, revealing a body, withered like the husk of some insect. He couldn’t make out her features, couldn’t tell if she had been young or old. He didn’t want to know. He didn’t shine his light on any of the other lumps. He had agreed to walk through the Giants Road, but now the reasons as to why were becoming muddy. He was told that would happen. His thoughts would begin to fade, his mind emptying until either he reached the end or died. What ever it had been it must have been important. He knew that he had been repeating it to himself at some point, but time was strange here. It could have been ten minutes ago, or seven hours.
The giants were perhaps four hundred feet tall, they were lining the edges of the canyon, huddled together, standing tall in long, draping clothes that appeared to be made from rock, but would shift slightly every so often. Their heads were harsh and pointed, their eyes glaring down. They had been here as long as anyone could remember. They had never left the road, or the canyon that it ran through. James had heard, and taken part in, debates as to whether or not they were alive or just statues, he knew now that they were alive. There were hundreds, perhaps thousands down here. All staring. All waiting for him to slip up. One mistake and that could be the end of him. He stopped. Staring ahead. The road seemed endless. Did he have to come back through here again? Or was it a one way trip? He started to walk towards one of the walls, he would sit for a moment and figure it out. As his foot hit the sand at the side of the path he froze. Then took a careful step backwards. No. It was a trick, that was all, he would remember when he reached the end. James took a slow deep breath to steady himself and began to walk, he was struck by a sudden feeling of frustration. As he walked it began to fade. Feeling shaken, he kept his eyes down as he walked, focusing only on the path, that was all that mattered. Once he remembered to keep walking on the path he would be ok.
Time passed in a haze. In the beginning he would look back occasionally to see how far he had come, but the deeper he went, the less useful it became until all he could see were the giants, stretching into the distance either way. As his thoughts became less organised he started to feel more flashes of emotion, pulling and tugging at him. He ignored it as best as he could, the path was the most important thing, everything else was irrelevant. He knew he had been walking for a long, long time, but he had yet to feel tired. Occasionally he would feel a pang of hunger and when that happened he would grab something from his pack and eat while he walked.
Finally he could see it, the end. He walked a little faster, feeling it pull at him. He wanted to be out, to be free of the gaze of the giants, to look up and see the wide, open sky. He wasn’t sure what it looked like, but he remembered that it was beautiful. The air here seemed cleaner, fresher.
Only two more and then he would be free. He started a light jog and burst out, breathing deeply, almost laughing as he looked at the wide, blue expanse of sky above him. He moved further from the entrance and collapsed onto the ground, staring upwards as he felt things come back to him. After a while he sat up and looked around, in front of him there was nothing but a large grass plain, stretching for miles. In the distance he could just make out what appeared to be mounds on the horizon. James rested for a little longer, then he stood and started walking. This trip went by quickly, the sun was shining down and the breeze was fresh and sweet.
He climbed the small hill and looked down into the small bowl that it created. It was filled with flowers. He walked down and picked one, it looked like a daisy, but it was completely white, down to the stalk. He took out a small container and put it inside carefully. You were only allowed take one, he didn’t know what would happen if he tried to take another, but he didn’t want to risk it.
James stood at the entrance of the Giants Road, breathing slowly, steadying himself. He could make it through, he knew he could. He took one last look at the sky, then he started to walk.