Aphelion Issue 275, Volume 26
August 2022
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Little Girl vs. Hercules

by Clint Lowe

The little girl gazed up at me, eyes wide and inquisitive. "You Hercules?" she asked.

I stared across the snowy field, beyond the river. "I am. My name is known very widely. What's your name, little one?"

"Sue. My curly-haired grandpa says you're the strongest man alive."

I folded my arms. "He is a wise fellow, your curly-haired little grandpa."

Without fear, the little girl balled up a handful of snow and threw it into my chest; it sprayed off. "You don't look that strong."

I leaned down to her until our eyes meet. "What would a little girl know?"

She had another ball of snow in her other hand that I didn't see until she threw it in my face. Keeping my perfected coolness, I closed my eyes, wiped it away, and stood straight. Not far from us, there was a snow-topped boulder half the size of a man, and twice the size of this little girl. I squinted down at little Sue. "Watch this."

I hoisted the boulder above my shoulders and then heaved it over my head. I didn't glance back at her, but I had a niggling hunch she was staring at me, her eyes bulging as big as my biceps. A tree stood twenty feet away and I launched the boulder into it, cracking the trunk. The sound of the split, tree-mendous.

My proud fists were punched squarely into my hips when Sue came over. "Not that impressive."

Proud fists turned to incredulous hands. "What? That tree is almost--"

"You need endurance," she said, and gathered two pebbles beside the river before handing me one. "I bet I can carry this pebble further than you can. Cause I have endurance." At the point she said 'I,' her smugly nose shot up. "You're just one big puff of steam and you're finished."

"I've no time for this, little girl."


I puffed some steam; proving her last accusation correct, which urged me to show I was more important than her. "Sue, I have to go save people." I'm sure there was someone needing saving somewhere, possibly a hapless man and woman being attacked by a crazed bearded-bandit with a blood-dripping axe. Or perhaps myself from this snotty one's empty taunts.

"You're chicken."

"I'm not c-"

"Big, bold Hercules, too chicken to challenge a little girl."

"Thought you said it was 'Sue.'"

Sue flicked her brown hair. "You accepting my challenge or not? Shan't take long to plunge you into oblivion."

I looked at the little--Sue. I stared at Sue and clenched the pebble tight in my fist. "Fine. Challenge accepted."

"Very good. We start now and here. Follow me."

Sue took off carrying her pebble.

This is absurd, not even a challenge. I shook my head, breathed deeply, and then followed behind her. "Hey, wait up."

"Keep up," she said without turning around.

That's it. I started striding, almost caught her when I slammed to a dead stop.

But Sue kept walking on carrying her pebble further than me.

I watched her go.

She suddenly stopped, not facing me but I knew her snotty face would have a smile spread right across it. Then she slowly turned and there it was, big and wide, with her eyes glowing above the smile. "Can't keep up?" she said.

Can't let this brat defeat Hercules, I'd never live it down. I took a step and then stopped again.

Sue shrugged. "Thought you wouldn't." She strode on.


Sue turned around.

"I can make it."

I stepped onto the river that had frozen over, uncertain it could take my weight, but I was Hercules, so I kept going. I took another step, then another, the ice was holding firm. I glanced up at Sue and smiled. She glanced down at my feet and smiled.

A crack was splitting beneath me. I looked back toward the bank.

"Scared?" Sue called.

Her voice sent blood rushing to my face, I felt it heat up. I faced her and took another step. There was a loud crack. It sounded just like when I snapped that tree with the boulder. Then I fell through ice and plunged into the freezing river, plunging into oblivion – just like she said she'd do to me.

After lifting my head from the water, I saw Sue scoot to the opposite side where she laughed and giggled. I grabbed the ice with my big hands, but it kept breaking. It was thinner the further I left the bank.

The water was freezing my back almost into a solid block, and I turned around, crawled up onto the thicker part of the ice and slumped back.

We faced each other on opposite sides of the bank. I was dripping wet and freezing in the snow. She planted her tiny fists into her tiny hips.

Then she threw her pebble at me and it sunk in the snow near my foot. "Keep it," she said, "to remind you of me."

I kicked the pebble and she skipped off.


2017 Clint Lowe

Bio: Mr. Lowe is a novelist and passionate YouTuber. His stories have appeared in Every Day Fiction.

E-mail: ClintLowe

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