They’d been building for two weeks, and not getting that far, when Jack came home with the beans. Apparently all they needed to do was plant one and a stalk would grow so big it would reach up beyond this world. Their eyes lit up. ‘This could be a whole lot easier,’ said the boss. ‘Just one thing,’ said Jack, ‘there could be a giant up there.’ ‘No problem,’ the boss said, ‘we can defeat any giant and then guess what, we’ll be giants ourselves!’ And so they sowed two seeds, a couple in case one didn’t take. And sure enough, one didn’t, but the next morning a thick, bulging stalk was protruding from the ground reaching right up beyond the clouds. The boss and his mates rubbed their hands with glee. This was going to be a whole lot easier than they had ever imagined. ‘To infinity and beyond,’ said the boss and he began to climb. His mates followed and Jack brought up the rear. The climb took a while and a few of the folks started to grumble but the boss ignored them and climbed on. Eventually, after who knows how long, they burst through the clouds and into a land full of bright fresh air and vibrant colour. Their eyes grew wide with wonder and greed. ‘Perfect!’ said the boss. They climbed off the stalk and began to explore. And that’s when they met him. The giant. His face rugged like an insurmountable cliff, his chest as wide as a rugged canyon, his clenched fists like a couple of huge cannon balls. He did not look happy to see them.
‘Stand back filthy giant,’ said the boss, having prepared his little speech, ‘we’ve come to take your land, we’ve as much right to this paradise as you.’ ‘Oh really?’ roared the giant, his voice like a rumbling volcano, and his breath as hot as lava. ‘Er, yes,’ said the boss, who hadn’t prepared the next bit of his speech.
The giant’s eyed grew wide and blazed like raging fire as he drew himself up. He seemed to grow in strength and stature and the boss wondered if he might have said too much. The giant opened his mouth and roared like a wild animal, and the power of the blast lifted the boss and his mates off their feet, hurling them back towards the beanstalk. They fell in a heap, unscrambled themselves and hurtled to the stalk. Some fell and others slithered back down, the boss slicing off branches with his work knife as they went. The giant watched them go, then he heard a noise. It was Jack, still up there, watching it all. He was standing beside a friend called Jill, who had also climbed the stalk. For a moment the giant looked as if he might swallow them both, then he seemed to think better of it, and as he spoke he grew smaller in size, and his craggy face softened into kindness and a smile. ‘Hello there,’ he said and his voice was no longer the fierce blast. Jack waved. Jill said, ‘Hello to you too.’ The giant held out his hand. ‘This is quite a kingdom I have up here,’ he said, ‘like to look around?’ And so they did. Jill and Jack and the giant spent a good long time together, discovering all manner of things the youngsters had never encountered before. Meanwhile down below, the boss and his mates were busy spreading stories of the nasty being beyond the clouds. ‘We’d better go,’ said Jill, after what seemed like hours. And the giant led them to another stalk, one with the branches still intact. ‘This grew from your second bean,’ he told Jack with a twinkling smile, ‘see you again soon I hope.’ And Jack shook the giant’s hand and Jill hugged him. Then they climbed down and wondered how they might pass on the news that the giant was not at all what everyone had imagined.