This is a serialized writing prompt, explained here: 7 Steps for the Lonely Writer.
Today's prompt is: FAME.
Step Five. Her Graven Image.
The cat had disappeared in the fog. He didn’t know where he was going, only that he couldn’t change course. He was caught within the rumbling walls of a stampede. The giants—he didn’t know how many; innumerable, it seemed—had been birthed from the very hills that had served as a landscape until now. Now the horizon stretched flat, loose folds of discarded earthy wombs strewn about as if the hills had simply deflated.
So now he was trapped following a direction dictated by a stampede of countless skyscraping monsters. And even if the cat called to him with its signature Mew! it would be drowned out by the giants’ thundering footfalls.
He did not know how long they ran. But it did not feel long before the sun began to rise. It peeked above the horizon without warning, spearing the giants’ eyes with its rays, and they let out a collective guttural moan. But they did not stop running, so he did not stop either.
Soon it was clear that the giants ahead of him had come to a collective halt. He slowed down with the rest of them and suddenly found himself hemmed in to a gigantic flock of giants. Now, with the sun up and the giants stationary, he was able to get his first detailed glimpse of these rolling hills come to life.
Each one stood seven stories tall, so that he barely reached their calves. Their craggy skin was caked in earth and clumps of grass like a recently-plowed lawn. They wore no clothes, but their uncleanliness obscured their sex, and they were packed so tightly together he could not discern their expressions. They stood hauntingly still, their stillness incongruous after their violent excursion from the hills, and he weaved through the stationary feet in order to see why they had stopped.
Eventually, he came to the front of the herd. He stood at the lip of a deep valley that plunged about a mile into the earth. This was what the giants stared into, transfixed.
The valley was plain, an empty expanse of mossy earth except for a stone figure standing in its center. A statue ten times larger than the giants, weathered and worn, but its identity was unmistakable to him. He felt as if the wind had been knocked from his chest.
It was her.
Before he could contemplate these new implications—Was this what she had meant? Had he reached ten thousand steps already?—the giants stepped forward together, into the valley. He was caught unawares and swept onto the broad foot of one giant; he grabbed fistfuls of tough grass—was that its body hair?—and hung on for dear life. Butterflies burst in his stomach with every swing forward and bones jarred together with every stomp to the ground.
They reached her mammoth idol in this manner in mere minutes.
He wished he’d stayed at the valley’s entrance. Now, literally at her feet, he could only see hewn boulders of stone that he guessed were her toes. He could not see her body, nor her beautiful face. But his view of her from the valley’s entrance was etched clearly in his mind. How could a lifeless gray rock seem to emanate so much color?
A speck of gray detached itself from the stone above and landed on his lap, startling him.
Mew, said the cat. Its claws protracted themselves into his legs and it purred, rubbing its face against his hand.
It likes me, he realized.
Why is this here? he asked the cat.
Not pausing from its affections, it said, You weren’t aware of her... infamy?
Infamy? he repeated.
Wrong word, I suppose. Would fame be more to your liking? God-like?
He did not respond.
I do not mean to offend, human. I’m only here to help.
Help, how? Help me to understand? Help me to see her again?
Ah, that would be telling, it purred.
But what does this mean? These giants, this statue—
Don’t forget the party.
Yes, the party, too. I don’t understand.
The cat sighed. I can see that. What’s the count?
The count, it repeated tetchily. How many steps?
Oh! he gasped. I’ve lost count.
You were chased by giants. That’s gotta be worth a few thousand, wouldn’t you think? And you hitchhiked your way down here, so we don’t have to count that, unless you want to be technical and say it took the giant a few dozen steps to get you here.
So..., he said.
The cat stared at him expectantly.
So, he said, tallying numbers in his head, I’m somewhere around eight thousand?
Sounds good to me. Come on.
And the cat was off.
To be continued...
THE COMPLETE STORY:
Step 1. Ten Thousand Steps.
Step 2. A Companion.
Step 3. A Drunken Detour.
Step 4. The Hills Have Eyes.
Step 5. Her Graven Image.
Step 6. The Earth, Flattened.
Step 7. Back to the Beginning.
Step 10,000. Colla Voce.