🎧 Bedtime Story Podcast #11
“It’s called a Garganfan,” the Earthman said. “You can use it as a training tool.”
“To train what?” Amanda said.
“You’re fighting skills.”
“Why?” Richard said. “Who are we going to fight?”
“No one. Just because you learn how to fight, doesn’t mean you will ever get into a fight. It actually makes you less likely to get into fights, because you become more confident in your own space, and you don’t feel as if you have to prove yourself to anyone. Plus, if trouble ever comes your way, then you will be far better able to deal with it. It is like teaching someone how to purify water, using the Water Beetle or a Puribranch. They are tools that you may never have to use, but are helpful all the same.”
The three were following the Earthman as he walked ahead with purpose. Amanda felt timid, as if she had shrunken down slightly. Greg felt nervous but excited to test and develop his fighting skills, and Richard felt as if he just wanted to go home now.
“If there is one thing that frightens many people and keeps them shackled to their own insecurities, it is the fear of conflict. The Garganfan gets you used to it. It trains you to be comfortable in uncomfortable situations, so you aren’t intimidated anymore by what you might come across. The Garganfan trains you physically, mentally and emotionally. You might not find this fun, but I think it’s important for you to do.”
The Earthman was walking slightly more slowly now. He was looking up and around at the trees, high up in the branches.
“He lives somewhere around here. You have to look very closely for him.”
“What does he look like?” Amanda whispered.
“He looks like a piece of a tree, like a branch with other branches branching off from him. He hides up in the trees, and he challenges anyone who ever calls on him.”
“Is he dangerous?” Richard asked.
“Yes. But I’m here to supervise. We know each other.”
Then the Earthman began to call out, in a voice that seemed to give him authority over everything else. It was deep and loud.
“Garganfan? Where are you? Garganfan?”
The three children heard a cracking in the branches above. High above there was movement, and a large branch seemed to break off a tree, and it began to fall, tumbling down, hitting other branches, getting bigger and bigger and bigger in the children’s eyes until there was a large branch the size of a man, falling directly in front of the Earthman, and when it was a few feet from the ground it morphed slightly to form a body, a long thin body with long stick-like legs, long branching arms and a face that was like a lump of bark sitting on top, with a deep woody scar across one eye, a squint, and a smile.
“Come here!” the Garganfan shouted at the Earthman, and instead of embracing him, the Garganfan swung at him with one of its branchy arms. It was so fast that it was like a blur, the Earthman dodged out of the way and fired a punch back at the Garganfan’s face, but the Garganfan managed to bring his other arm up in time to block, and soon the two were circling each other, and the Earthman faked to punch and then shot in low to tackle the Garganfan to the ground, and the Garganfan shouted out “No!” as he fell down to the earth, and the Earthman began to lie on top of the Garganfan, and began to grab one of the branch-like arms of the Garganfan.
“No! Not my arms!” the Garganfan yelled, and in an almighty buck of his body, he managed to create a space and wiggle out from underneath the Earthman, and using his arms as if they were legs, the Garganfan pushed himself back up to standing, and he began to try to kick the Earthman in the body. The Earthman rolled away, took a kick to the back, but then managed to catch one of the Garganfan’s kicking and flailing legs. He swept the Garganfan to the ground and he locked up the Garganfan’s leg in his own body, holding the woody foot with his hands, and he began to lean back and apply leverage to what would have been the Garganfan’s ankle joint.
“I’ll break it,” the Earthman said, mildly playfully. The children weren’t sure if he meant it.
“Oh, fine!” the Garganfan shouted. “I give in.” The Garganfan tapped the ground twice, the Earthman let go, and they got up and shook hands.
“Good fight,” the Garganfan said, smiling. “You’ve still got it.”
“And you still get too emotional,” the Earthman said. “If you hadn’t gotten so angry at me for taking you down, your kicks wouldn’t have been so wild and easy to catch.”
“Yeh, you’re right,” the Garganfan said. “Now, who’s next? Who are these little ones?”
The Garganfan looked at all three children, and Richard and Amanda stepped back. Greg stayed in the same spot.
“Have they come to fight?” the Garganfan said. He seemed almost psychopathic to the children, all he seemed interested in was fighting.
“Well, they have come for some training. I want you to help us.”
“But you must go easy to begin.”
“Yes it is. Just go easy, don’t try so hard.”
“Not possible.” The Garganfan was shaking his head.
“Alright then, if you will not start off slow, then there will be no fight.”
The Garganfan squirmed and looked uncomfortable, like he was trying to hold something in. Then he let it go.
“Oh, all right!” the Garganfan said. “Fine, I’ll go easy. Boring. Boring.”
“If you go too mad, I will end the fight.”
“Fine.” The Garganfan bowed and stepped back, walked a few paces, and turned to face the children. The Earthman looked at Greg.
“I’m ready,” Greg said.
“Ok. You have to challenge him to start the fight. Just say ‘Garganfan, where are you?’ and he will begin.”
“Ok.” Greg felt nerves as if they were trying to break out of his stomach.
“Breathe deeply,” the Earthman said. “Breathe in power, breathe out your nerves. Push the nervousness out using your breath, and relax. Get ready.”
Greg pushed the breath out and sucked a few deep breaths in.
“Garganfan, where are you?” he said, trying to mask the shakiness in his voice. The Garganfan began to dance around, on the balls of his feet, and he gradually moved closer towards Greg. Greg had his hands up by his face, but he was not moving. He was frozen to the ground.
“Relax, Greg,” the Earthman said.
Greg was very tense. He could feel everyone watching him, he felt he had to do well in front of…
Boom. The Garganfan punched him on the shoulder. It stung.
“Oh, you…” Greg suddenly felt a surge of anger and he charged at the Garganfan and threw a punch that was fast and strong and it hit the Garganfan, but he swung so wildly that he left himself open, and the Garganfan slapped him around the face at the same time.
“Greg, you idiot, relax, don’t think. Feel the ground when you move,” the voice of Greg’s older brother entered Greg’s head. He thought of the two of them in their garden, when his older brother would show him some things about fighting.
“Ok,” Greg said, breathing into and out of the stinging pain in his face, and then forgetting about it. “Ok.”
He started to imagine it was a game. He was playing, sparring with his brother. His feet became lighter, he became freer, and he advanced towards the Garganfan.
“He’s too wild, he’s worse than me,” the Garganfan said, who threw out another quick slap at Greg’s face, but Greg deflected it and threw a strike back which landed straight on the Garganfan’s chin, and the Garganfan wobbled and fell back.
“Crikey,” the Garganfan said. “Can I go harder now?” it said, getting up to its feet and looking at the Earthman.
“No. That’s it for now,” the Earthman said. “It’s someone else’s turn now. Richard, have a go.”
“No, I’m not fighting.”
“I don’t want to. I don’t want to get punched or slapped like Greg did.”
“If you don’t train now, you might regret it later. You might even enjoy it.”
“No, I don’t want to,” Richard said. “I don’t need to.”
“What do you mean?”
“I mean I bet I could beat him without touching him. I can feel what creatures are thinking, I can see what is going on inside of them. And I reckon I could change it if I wanted to, so that they behave as I want them to.”
“Ok, why don’t you try that out then?” the Earthman said. “This is the perfect time. You can always stop if you wish. All you have to do is say ‘I quit’.”
“Ok. Ok then,” Richard said. He stepped forward and looked at the Garganfan. Presently, the Garganfan was motionless, just standing. He had nothing going on inside of him. He was just life, still, like a tree.
“Garganfan, where are you?” Richard said. And then Richard could see inside the Garganfan, something turned on, like a light switch, something was triggered, and inside the Garganfan, Richard could see red streams going around its body, all filled with the words ‘Attack Richard.’
The Garganfan marched forward and had his right fist clenched. Richard saw the redness inside the Garganfan’s body, and using his own mind, he turned it to blue, into something cooler. The Garganfan slowed down. His clenched fist relaxed, but he was still walking towards Richard.
Within the streams of blueness going around the Garganfan’s insides, Richard could still see the words ‘Attack Richard’ written in them. He tried to change the words to ‘Leave Richard alone,’ but the word ‘Attack’, kept popping back up. The Garganfan was close and he pushed Richard. Richard stumbled backwards. He kept trying to change the words, but it wasn’t working.
“Offer no resistance,” the Earthman suddenly said. Richard then stopped fighting against the words ‘Attack Richard’ and he let them be, he gave them light, he gave them space, he gave them presence, and they began to shift, by themselves, into ‘Be kind to Richard.’
The Garganfan reached Richard and held out his hand.
“Hello, Richard. I am the local Garganfan. How may I be of service today?”
“Good. The fight is over,” the Earthman said, and the Garganfan broke away, and Richard stopped looking so deeply inside of him.
“Blimey, what was that?” the Garganfan said, marching back to his original position. “He did something to me then, didn’t he? He did something inside of me. I’ve never done that before, I felt all kind and warm inside. It was horrible!”
“Well done, Richard. Well done,” the Earthman said. “Now, Amanda?”
“But I can’t fight or do what Richard does with the animals,” Amanda said. “What can I do?”
“You can only be yourself, and see what comes naturally,” the Earthman said. “Are you ready?”
“Yeeeh,” Amanda said, reluctantly, feeling as if she would instantly quit.
She stepped forward. “Garganfan, where are you?” she said in a resigned tone.
The Garganfan walked forward. Amanda ran away. The Garganfan sped up his walk and began chasing her. She started running faster and she began to giggle as she realised that the Garganfan was not fast enough to keep up with her, and she was looking back, and waving at him as he grew angry and started shouting at her to slow down.
“Stop running! There is no running in a fight. Earthman!”
“Running is fine,” the Earthman replied. “She is very good at it. If she runs better than you, then why not run?”
“But she’s not fighting!” the Garganfan shouted out, wishing he was able to run faster.
Then Amanda found herself running up a tree, almost like a squirrel but just using her feet, and she pushed off the tree and flipped backwards so that she was the other side of the Garganfan, facing his back, and as he turned and swiped at her she ducked, and she kicked away his legs. She felt something break.
“Oh! Mercy!” the Garganfan screamed. “She’s broken my leg.”
Amanda looked, stunned and horrified, at one of the legs of the Garganfan, which was now like a snapped branch, hanging on to the rest of his leg by a tiny piece of bark.
“Oh, I’m sorry,” she said, “I didn’t mean to…”
“Oh, shut up, will you,” the Garganfan said. “I’m a fast healer, that’s what makes me a Garganfan. I’m just annoyed that you managed to do it, that’s all.”
The Garganfan struggled up to stand on one foot, and then he pushed the broken piece of his leg back into the upper half, and the leg fused back with a little burst of light, leaving it looking like nothing had ever happened.
“Fighting is over,” the Earthman said. “Thank you, Garganfan.”
“Bring me some easier ones next time,” the Garganfan said, climbing back up his tree, thoroughly annoyed at three losses to children in a row.
“I can’t guarantee that,” said the Earthman, as he watched his old friend climbing back up to where he rested.
The Earthman turned to the children, who now looked older to him. They looked stronger.
“All of you did remarkably well. Very well done. The more you train, the more you practice, the easier everything becomes. Gradually new things will emerge, you will develop more skills, going far beyond what you ever thought possible. You all tapped into your own spontaneity, your own flow, and that is important for everything in life. Very well done. Now,” he said, taking a deep breath in through his nostrils. “Now you can go back home.”
The Garganfan – A Note From Dr Bernard J. Hoothfellow
The Garganfan is built to fight. But he only fights when people call to challenge him. He is a sore loser, unless he has built a strong relationship with whomever he is fighting. He heals extremely quickly, is nearly impossible to kill, and has lived up in the trees for thousands of years. Up in the trees he sleeps, not knowing anything about the world, and when called upon he jumps straight down to fight. He doesn’t feel as if life is worth being awake for unless he is fighting, and so he stays asleep until he is challenged. Certain creatures have used him to train their fighting skills. Others have used him to try to prove themselves as worthy to others. He is fast and aggressive and strong, and when he fights without restriction, there are very few who can beat him.