Storytime: Big.

September 15th, 2015

So Big Bull Bradden was getting up to live up to step up to the first half of the first third of his name, maybe not a ‘Big’ yet but at least mostways there. He was past his puberty and over the top; he could see adulthood creeping over his eyes and feel the wind in his (short, stubbly) hair.
He was a big one. Not Big yet, but a big one.
Big Bull Bradden could pick up rocks and break them between his fingers and lick up the pebbles. He could uproot trees and use them to smash meadows flat. He could drink a pond for breakfast and eat the frogs for lunch. He wrestled bears. The bears didn’t like it but he didn’t care.
Because that’s the kind of thing you do when you’re a person like Big Bull Bradden.
And when Big Bull Bradden was only a little younger than he was on this day, his mother had kicked him out of their house with a curse and a cuff and a crust (because that’s the kind of thing you do when you’ve raised six people like Big Bull Bradden) and he’d looked all around himself at the big wide world all flattened and smashed where he’d played in it, and he’d thought ‘good start.’
Because that’s the kind of thing you think when you’re a person like Big Bull Bradden.
But that was the older day and this is the present day, and on the present day at present Big Bull Bradden was having his birthday present, which was chewing on a bit of tough badger he’d found out by the side of a highway, and he looked out at all that lovely unfurrowed earth taking up the horizon all around him and he was fuming, because damnit that wasn’t fair, he was just one Bradden. Even if he was Big. Nearly.
“I’ve gotta do something about that,” said Big Bull Bradden. “This badger tastes like spit in my mouth with a view like that. Who does it think it is, looking like it does where I can see what it does? I’m going to teach it not to do nothing.”
And he did, and he smashed the earth and split the fields and mangled the trees, but there were still rivers and lakes and he had to splash those and run roughshod over their beds and splinter their banks and at the end of Big Bull Bradden’s birthday bash he looked around himself and saw that he’d left his mark everywhere, handprints, hoofprints, and knucklebumps.
But as the sun set, he looked up and he saw a smooth, cool, calm blue sky fading away with a bit of a disappointed look. No clouds, no moon yet, no stars, just a deep blue soft fading out and away. Perfect. Damn near perfect.
Well hell, he really hated that. Walked all night cursing, stayed up all morning plotting, waved a truck down on the highway at lunch ate the driver for dinner and drove into the city at midnight, roaring loader than his engine all the way.
Because that’s the kind of thing you can’t stand if you’re a person like Big Bull Bradden. And he’d grown into all the bits of his name at last.

So Big Bull Bradden drove, and he was driven. He took metal from one place and wood from another place and stone and dirt and ore and who knew what from everywhere to everyplace, and where he drove his axles croaked low and the asphalt sagged and the birds cowered. His spit knocked trees down and his glower faded billboards. He stayed awake by spite and he lived by the skin he took from other people’s teeth and he was the best damned driver anyone had ever seen because he was the last one most of them ever saw.
“He’s good,” said his boss, to his boss, “but we get complaints.”
“Screw them,” said his boss, to his boss. And Big Bull Bradden was promoted seven times and drove seven trucks at once until at last they saw they had no more work left for him there, and he was made a manager for fear of his teeth.
“What’s wrong with ‘em?” he yelled at his co-workers, subordinates, superiors and supporters. “You want to see ‘em up close? Count ‘em nice? Pick out the cracks and nits?”
And they all said no, and so he was promoted again to CEO and president and vice-president and chairman of the board and more besides so that nobody would have to talk to him but his secretary.
Because that’s the kind of thing you do when you’re in arm’s reach of a person like Big Bull Bradden.
He was happier – like the surface of the sun was cooler.
He was closer – like the dark side of the moon was farther.
And he was ready for the next step. No, he really was. He was on it as soon as he was in his office, picking up his phone with one hand and smushing it into his ear and clearing his throat.
“BUY ME AN AIRPLANE,” he roared at it. Then he hung up and waited for it to be delivered to his door.
He’d never flown before, but how hard could it be? Birds did it, and they were small and crunchy. Simple as pie. Simple as bird-beak pie.

And Big Bull Bradden flew, straight and true, into that blue and he was damn well pissed the whole way. He broke his window with his shouts and he nearly chopped off a finger in the propeller making gestures at the sky and he flew straight into commercial airspace and bit off his radio in a fury when he was reprimanded by the local airport.
So he landed there, at that airport, and he ate its management until there was none, then declared himself its king.
“We’re going to get complaints,” his staff told him. And he bared his teeth and they sighed and ran and bought out things and places and that was how Big Bull Bradden came to fly a proportion of air traffic that doubled every month. Wasn’t anyone else that wanted to be in his airspace. And it was all his airspace, all his, all his. All by the end of it. All his.
Except in the way that counted.
Up there in the topmost tower of his city he brooded – his city. He owned all the traffic that rolled on roads, he owned all the traffic that moved through the air. He’d phoned all the places that tore up the ground and yelled until they did what he said. He’d visited all the places that tapped up the water and smashed them until they were his. He’d bitten off the smokestacks one by one until every boss in every business was him.
And he was still not quite there. Not quite yet.
Big Bull Bradden picked up his phone. It was triple-reinforced and eight times the size of a fax machine and composed of polymernanofiberopticsuperconductiveplastocompoundneurodentalmicrovesiclereceptothagomizers. It dented under his fingertips.
“GET ME,” he screamed into it, popping eardrums and lowering air pressure across the city. “GET ME. GET ME THE THINGS I NEED.”
There was a pause while he took a breath and the city held its.
“AND MAKE THEM ALL AS HUGE AS POSSIBLE,” he howled. Then the phone exploded in his palm and he spat his windows out.
Fourth time that week.

Big Bull Bradden’s plane soared the sky like none ever had or will. It was a spruce moose made like an iron dinosaur; a dragon with dyspepsia. When it took off the backwash flattened half the city, and its runway was the highway, the whole thing.
It groaned under his weight, and his drill, but it was doing its job and Big Bull Bradden had never much cared what people said of him as long as he could smash them for it. And he smashed that plane all the way up to the heights of the sky where the blue shone thin and the sunlight came thick and the clouds were all huddled down below just watching to see what would happen next.
“THIS,” he explained. And out came the drill whose bit was a whole bite verging on bitter and when he flicked it on it made a noise like the end of the world wetting its pants and when he swung it pretty much made a noise like only it could’ve itself, because there’d never been anything like it.
Bit like ‘whunk,’ though. Drawn-out, like.
And Big Bull Bradden drilled through the sky at its apex, and it swung down from its perch as surprised and offended as a spider who snared an eagle, tipped on over on end on end until PLUNK it bounced off the ground once twice thrice and took out the other half of the city.
“FURNAACEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!” yelled Big Bull Bradden as he chased it down atop his plane, drill tossed aside, hand reaching into his hairy pockets.
The furnace was a football stadium renovated; a coliseum put to proper work. It had been prepped with all the steel from the two halves of the city that had already been knocked down and it was sort of gooey and warm enough to roast eyeballs from forty miles. It stuck onto the sky good and proper, and squirm though it might it wasn’t able to budge in time.
“CRAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAANEEE!” came the call as Big Bull Bradden hurled himself free of the smoking wreckage of his plane, head shaking, arms dangling, teeth flexing in the muscles of his gums.
And up he swung hand over hand as it rotated, the big ape, the big goon, hair on end and panting as the arm spun over the caldera already-melting, the suspension rigging vaporizing on the spot. He was higher than a kite and strung-out over the abyss and the whole big blue sky was stuck down below and it was getting a little worried when his hand swooped out of his hairy pockets and out.

It was really big, you know?

And Big Bull Bradden yelled something that no man or woman ever quite heard properly and plunged down, blade-first, into that perfect blue sky.

That was five billion years ago.
And I’d like to think we’ve gotten a bit better, right? A bit smarter. A bit more clever.
A little soberer, too.
But for the love of goodness gracious and all its little badgers, too…
Just don’t touch the sky, okay?
It’s older and wiser too. But it’s gotten touchy. And still-sore.
And it hasn’t got as far to fall, this time.

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