Bigantics, and all were royal blue in color.

Though you may be puzzled as to how some ended up so small and others so tall, most every Bidget and Bigantic knows the story well. It all began when a few of the Byopians noticed that over the byks (a “byk” being a Byopian year, which is about the length of 10 human years) they were growing— too subtly to be immediately noticed. They were already beginning to skim the top of their houses’ door frames! The Byopians, for the most part, didn’t like the idea of getting any taller, and were quite happy to remain their usual size. Because, they thought, if they got much taller, they would have to make new houses to fit themselves in, new furniture to sit themselves in, and new beds to lie in. And if they made new houses, they’d have to move out of their old ones, which they were quite fond of, and get rid of their old furniture and beds, which they were quite attached to. This all meant a great deal of work, which they much preferred not to have to undertake. Now, the first Byopian to discover the reason for their growth was called Beptyk. After much experimentation and exploration, he came upon the cause of all the growing, though quite by accident. On one of his long boat expeditions up and down the rivers of Byopia, experimenting and exploring, he forgot entirely to drink from the Great Baque, as he had been so busy with his new and pressing project of finding and stopping the reason for all this inconvenient growth.
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He had been researching and conducting experiments for many bleks, (a “blek” is a Byopian week, about a month by Earth standards), and during this time he regularly put off drinking the blue fluid. This soon began to show itself in various ways. He had hardly grown during this time, grown physically that is, because he had grown in other ways, such as in impatience. One day, he lost his cool with Brustyn, his assistant. “Brustyn, get over here! Must I always remind you that the herclagems* must be watered in the early morning and late at night? You’ve been watering them at noon, and they’ve wilted!” “Oh, sir, I didn’t mean to wilt the flowers. I’m sorry.” *herclagem: a flower that grows on Byopia

“‘Sorry’ doesn’t un-wilt them, Brustyn, and look me in the eyes when I’m talking to you. I can’t see myself.” “Er, I am looking … at you, sir. I’m looking down at you.” “Down? Don’t look down, look me in the eyes, son! … Say, that is funny, what is wrong with your eyes?” Hmmm, Beptyk thought. I see myself all distorted. That’s not right! His eyes must be bloated or something. We’ll have to get to the bottom of this. “Go wash your eyestalks, Brustyn, and then come back so I can find out what your problem is.” “I … I can go wash my eyes, sir, though I’m sure they’re clean. If you think it’s necessary to take a look at them, that’s fine with me. But they feel quite alright.” “They feel alright, do they? We’ll see about that! Now run along. …”

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After many experiments on poor Brustyn’s eyes, and forgetting for still longer to drink from the Great Baque, one day Beptyk noticed that his neck was more than a little sore from looking up at his assistant, in whose eyes he still could not see himself. It was then that Beptyk finally realized that the cause for these inconsistencies was that he himself was nearly an eye stalk shorter than his assistant. He concluded then that either he was shrinking, or Brustyn was growing more than he was, or both. Wanting to get away from his surroundings a bit and think, they docked their boat at the nearest town, where he got off and went out for a stroll. As he sauntered along the main street, thinking deeply all the while, it dawned on him that everyone around seemed to tower above his eye stalks. This strange phenomenon did not go unnoticed by the other Byopians either. No fullgrown Byopian had ever been less than the same height as everyone else since— well, ever. In no time, a large crowd gathered around the unfortunate Beptyk. “What’s this?” exclaimed a female Byopian named Byrdly, who was the first to break the steady hum of the bystanders. This “hum” was a noise that involuntarily issued from all Byopians; when lost in thought or amazement, they would immediately freeze and “hum” in wonder. It was then that Beptyk suddenly realized the cause for his shrinkage, which did not seem to him to be him shrinking, but rather Brustyn and the other Byopians growing. “The Great Baque!” he exclaimed loudly. “The Baque!”
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“What about the Baque?” the Byopians around him questioned. “In my experimentation and exploration, I have forgotten to drink of the Baque for the past few bleks! It is now clear to me why you all continue to grow, and I do not! This is wonderful!” Instead of the congratulations Beptyk expected on this discovery from his fellow Byopians, the majority of them lapsed into humming thought. “Do you not understand?! Fellow Byopians, cease to hum, I beg, and hear me! If we do not drink, we will not grow, and there will no longer be any need to move out of our houses, which we will very soon grow right out of at this rate, if we keep increasing in stature!” “But,” said Bargh, a male Byopian. “Never, in all the history of Byopia, have we not drunk from the Great Baque! Indeed, from the stories my great, great, great-grandfather used to tell, we were once as tiny as my thumb when we first came to this planet. The Great Baque was discovered, and we drank, and have always drunk from it since. It is our main source of sustenance. If we do not drink from it, we will surely shrink back down into nothing!” A murmur of assent went up from the crowd of bystanders. Then Byrdly spoke again. “But what if ... what if we do not actually shrink, but only stay the same size?! There can’t be anything wrong with that! Surely the Great Baque has helped us to grow, but now we do not wish to grow any taller! And besides, we may have other sources of nourishment which do not cause this growth, for all we know. “I am quite content with the size I am at present. If I grow any more, I will

have to make an entirely new wardrobe of boverings*.” “But how shall I ever grow to catch up with my sister?” said a young Byopian. “Indeed!” huffed Byrdly. “Young Byopians may drink to grow, but for those of us who do not wish to grow, I see no reason to drink!” This time, the murmur of dissent* was not so loud, nor so strong. It seemed that others of the Byopians were beginning to agree with this new theory. Those who saw no reason to continue drinking from the Great Baque soon began to join in this very logical argument. But there were others who thought it could be dangerous to discontinue the practice. For if their fathers and forefathers had always drunk from the river, there must have been a very good and practical reason for it. Opinions and reasoning were thrown back and forth. “Byopians, one and all,” shouted Beptyk in the midst of the confusion of voices. “There is nothing wrong with either side. Let those Byopians who wish to continue drinking—and growing—do so. As for those who do not wish to, let them discontinue. It is every Byopian’s own choice what they will and will not do!” This seemed fair enough to everyone, and the argument ceased as each went back to their own business. With time, it became obvious who had continued to drink, and who had not. For the difference in size between them grew greater and greater. Soon, those who continued to drink grew out *boverings: fabrics which the Byopians draped about themselves in odd ways *dissent: disagreement
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of their houses as was predicted, and were forced to build new ones. This grouped the tall Byopians together, and a new city and race eventually developed and became known as the Bigantics. Not only did drinking from the Great Baque make them taller, but it made them smarter as well, for it enhanced the capacity of their brains. So as they were forced to build and rebuild, each rebuilding became a little more splendid, and each invention a little greater and more convenient than the last. The Bigantics became a great and growing civilization of intellectual Byopians. The Byopians who had discontinued drinking from the Great Baque soon began to shrink in size. At first it was not so apparent, and they basked in the idea that they were smarter for it. But as time went by, not only their bodily size began to dwindle, but their intellect did also. As they grew smaller, and their houses, furniture, and boverings remained the same size, the very thing they had feared befell them in the end. For they very quickly shrunk right out of their houses and belongings. However, because their brains had shrunk in size too, they grew increasingly unwise. In their minds, everything continued exactly as it had, and everything remained the same size it always had been. They could not even see that the very houses they lived in were now much too large for their tiny bodies, and as they were much too small and dull to maintain their residences, the buildings soon fell into disrepair and ruin. The Bigantics began to playfully refer to the tiny race as the Bidgets. The Bidgets, hearing this name, adopted it as

their own, and soon thought that they had always been Bidgets. Over the byks, the Bidgets eventually shrunk to almost the size of a Bigantic’s thumb. All of this, of course, caused many differences between Bidgets and Bigantics, and with the dividing of opinions came the dividing of the people. This the Bigantics referred to as the Great Byopian Schism, or divide. To the Bidgets, they were the smart Byopians, and the Bigantics were bloated and isolated. Only the Bigantics saw things as they really were. And that is the story of how the Byopians came to be two races instead of one. *** Every byk, the high council of Bigantics would convene to discuss matters of pressing urgency. This byk,
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the assemblage* had only one point to discuss: the Bidgets. Being by this time very wise, and their brains having grown to be increasingly smarter, instead of looking down on the Bidgets with disdain, the Bigantics felt nothing but pity and concern for them. Pity for their lack of sense, which had them convinced that they were normal sized and that the Bigantics were not. And concern, because, it seemed, if the Bidgets shrunk much smaller, they would soon disappear entirely. It was a difficult dilemma, for the Bidgets were so proud, and so shortsighted, that they would not see reason, nor the need for any kind of help. *assemblage: a gathering of people or things at one place

The Byopian Bigantic at the head of the council spoke first to the assembly of elders. “My fellow Byopians, the shrinking of the Bidgets is now so extreme that their race is threatened with extinction altogether! Despite the differences between our height and brains, the Bidgets are members of our same race and families. It is our moral obligation to help our brethren before they shrink to nothing and disappear entirely. The floor is open to any who might advise us as to a way of saving them.” “Perhaps,” spoke out one elder cautiously, after a moment’s silence, “while they sleep, we could drain the liquid into their mouths with a straw, so they wouldn’t know it?” “That’s all very good and well,” said another, “except that we couldn’t be sure to find each and every one. And it is even less likely that they would all be asleep. If even one raised an alarm … that would be the end of that.” A murmur of assent went around the table. It did not seem an entirely foolproof plan. There had to be a better way. One elder spoke next. “Forget doing it secretly! They are so tiny, they couldn’t possibly defend themselves. We should just round them up, place their heads one by one in the Great Baque, and make them drink.” Noises sounding a bit like hiccups erupted around the room. (That was how the Byopians laughed.) “My dear Bigantic!” said the head councilman as he hiccupped. “You can bring a Bidget to the Baque, but you cannot force him to drink.” “And besides,” said another, “how could we ever look them in the eyes and
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receive them as brothers, once they’re rescued, assuming we succeed? That would just not do!” “Very true!” they all agreed. For a while the council was stumped, as no solution seemed quite the right one. At last a very old and ancient Byopian elder, who had been one of the first Byopians to set foot on that planet, stood up to speak. This took a long while to do, as he was so very old. “An idea comes to mind which may well work.” He paused to gather his scattered thoughts from the cobwebs of his ancient head. “I have heard of experiments conducted whereby we might turn the liquid of the Great Baque into a sort of condensation or mist. If we could let loose upon the Bidget city a fog of Baque mist, they’d naturally inhale this liquid turned to air. And the result may well be the same as if they had drunk it, and there would be no use of force.” A murmur of agreement rippled around the council table. “I see your point,” added the council head. “We would be helping them unbeknownst to them.” “Yes,” replied the ancient elder. “I suppose we should work in stages. First a light mist, then a heavier fog, and so on, without alerting them to what’s going on,” suggested a third council member. “That would be wise,” replied the elder councilman. “Do we have a machine that can do this?” asked another. “Not yet. But I believe one could be made with not too much effort.” “Can we verify that this will work, though?” asked the head councilman. “Chances are the mist will dissipate and

be so thin it’ll have no effect to speak of.” “If that is the case, we could offer to make a glass bubble to put over their city, like the ones we now have over our cities in the winter.” Overall, it seemed a wise and workable solution. A vote was taken, and the idea unanimously agreed upon. The machine would initially be run at night, for if the Bidgets were to see a blue haze covering their city during the day, dense as they might be, they would know something was up. They were, after all, suspicious little people. The first step was making the machine itself. The very smartest Byopians were called upon to make this plan a reality. It took a number of bleks to complete the project, but the end result was splendid! A giant machine was designed to suck the water from the Baque, transform it into mist, and blow out the bluish mist over Bidget City. It was a strange-looking contraption. The next step was offering Bidget City a protective dome. The Bigantic council went for the selling approach, offering them a dome for a bargain price, installation included. The Bidgets were happy with their “smart purchase.” After a successful test, the machine was then transported to a convenient location close to Bidget City. A network of distributing pipes was set up to deliver the blue mist within the domed city.
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When night fell, the machine was turned on, and a single Bigantic was left to watch over it, and ensure that it continued to work throughout the night. As the Bidget population slept, the blue mist floated through the night air into the houses, under the doors, through the windows and the cracks in the flaking walls, into the nostrils of the sleeping Bidgets, who slept on, peacefully unaware that they were inhaling mist from the Great Baque.

The change in the Bidgets was not immediately noticeable. But as the machine continuously pumped the “air of life” into the city, within a few bleks, the Bidgets began to ever so slowly grow, and grow, and grow. As their size grew, so did their brains. They became bolder, too, and a little more interested in the world around them. Little by little they started venturing out and even visiting the Bigantics. As interaction between the two races gradually increased, the Bidgets began to realize that they had grown much too small for their houses, furniture, and clothing. Within a byk, they were aware that they had grown considerably. They were unsure of the cause, but having realized that they were still tiny compared to their surroundings and to what they had been, they soon

sent out ambassadors to the city of the Bigantics. The ambassadors asked the Bigantics for help in figuring out what was going on, as well as requested that there be open contact once more between the two races, that old families which had been divided by the Great Byopian Schism be once more reunited, and that there be trade between the two cities. The Bigantics, of course, were delighted that their experiment had worked, and that the Bidgets now wished to talk. They agreed to help the Bidgets rebuild their ruined city, and on completion of that, planned a giant reunion festival which would last an entire blek. During the festivities, they would then tell the Bidgets of what they had done to save their shrinking race. The council considered it important to let the Bidgets know the truth of what they’d done. The mist had started the Bidgets on the path to growth and intelligence, but it was slow growth, and would not get them very far. The Bigantics knew that in order to reach a decent height and grow smart brains, the Bidgets would have to start drinking the waters of the Baque of their own free will again. Considering the Bidgets’ friendliness towards them, and their growth in more ways than one, it was agreed
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that now was as good a time as any to let them know, and that besides this being a necessity, it would not strain relations between the two races. The festival was a joyous one. Young and old were reunited. Bidgets and Bigantics, though still considerably different in height, mingled happily together once again. Games were held, and laughter hiccupped through the streets. When the time came for the speeches given by the dignitaries of the two cities, the ancient Bigantic councilman who had come up with the plan to rescue Bidget City rose slowly to address the throngs of Byopians. “My fellow Byopians, big and small! Though once separated by size and dissention, we are once again reunited— family with family, friend with friend, and neighbor with neighbor. I would like to now make known to all how this wonderful reunion came to be.” The elder Bigantic then went on to retell the whole story you have just read. A long and loud hum of astonishment was the result of this information. It was Beptyk who finally spoke out. He slowly and resolutely made his way to the front of the platform and looked out across the crowds. “Bidgets, one and all, I feel that since I was the one to initiate the whole disagreement in the first place,
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I should now be the one to put it to a fitting end. I was unwilling to change when I saw that changes must happen. I liked our lives the way they were, and I did not see the need to grow. So I set off to find a way of not growing, and as you well know, discovered it was the Baque that caused us to grow. But when we stopped drinking it, we dwindled not only in size but also in brain and spirit. “We became, I admit, dumb and weak, and the more we shrunk, the more we became the victims of our own delusions. If it had not been for the kindness and concern of our fellow Byopian Bigantics, we may well have shrunk down to nothing. “So I, Beptyk, having been the first to refuse to drink of the Baque, will now be the first to drink again! Bidgets, I apolo-

gize for leading you in such a sad venture, and I now entreat you to join me in once again drinking of that life-giving liquid, which will make us as one nation again, both strong in body, and wise in spirit and brain.” Beptyk raised a cup filled with the sparkling blue liquid of the Baque. “May the Baque never run dry, and may we Byopians never fail to partake of its goodness ever again!” With these words, he put his lips to the glass and drained the liquid in one huge gulp. Stirred by this apology, and inspired by Beptyk’s example, all the Bidgets took up a glass of the Baque and drank, some rather gingerly, as they

had become quite unused to liquid in their mouths, and others more heartily, but all drank some. From then on all Bidgets regularly drank from the lifegiving blue liquid, and soon regained their taste for it. In time, the Bigantics leveled to a steady height, and only continued to grow in brain and spirit. Though it took the Bidgets considerably longer to catch up to the Bigantics, after a good while, you could not tell them apart. The two cities joined into one, and the blue planet of Byopia became a thriving spaceport. And other civilizations came to look upon the Byopians as a wise and successful race.

the end
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