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[For easier reading, engage both the aA and Pilcrow (¶) symbols at the top right of the story.]

Once upon a time there was a boy called Jock who lived with his mother on a beanfarm, where they grew all sorts of beans except the broad ones. The farm was leased from the local king, for whom Jock's father had worked for many years until he died unexpectedly at the age of forty-one, after an accident involving a bicycle, a bucket and a bayonet … but that's not really important.
Jock had always wanted to be friends with the king's son, but although the prince thought Jock was quite spiffy, his father was really stuck up and wouldn't hear of the two boys playing together, so that was that.
One day in late summer, after their crop had ripened under a warm, cloudless sky, Jock's mother sent him out to harvest the beans and take them into town, to market. Jock being a handsome, well-set young man nearly two metres tall and built like a bulldozer, found the reaping easy and in no time at all, the beans were all packed up and loaded onto the wagon, ready to be hauled away by the family's one and only horse, who's name was Colin McPhoo.
'Bye-bye, mummy.' Jock climbed up onto the cart and swished the whip over Colin's head – he never really hit him with it of course, because Colin wasn't dense and knew very well what it meant. In fact, if the truth be told, the horse was quite a bit brighter than Jock was.
'Farewell, my darling young one.' Jock's mother stood in the wisteria-shrouded porch of the farmhouse, waving a lace hankie as her enormous son rode off down the rutted path towards the gate.
'Tum-ti-tum-ti-tum.' Jock hummed and whistled to himself as Colin plodded along the road to town, the boy already thinking of all the goodies he was going to buy for himself and mummy. Being even brighter than Colin, mummy'd naturally given her beloved, but well-understood thickie of a son a comprehensive shopping list. It didn't actually include treacle, but Jock was very partial to sweet, sticky things and intended to buy an economy-sized tin and nosh the lot before he got back home.
Unfortunately, Jock didn't get as far as the treacle-shop. In fact, he didn't even make it to town, never mind reach the market …

'Tum-ti … whoa, Colin!'
Jock's command was redundant, because it was Colin coming to an abrupt standstill that had stifled Jock's humming in the first place. A few beans tumbled unnoticed to the road as the wagon shuddered to a halt – they would be eagerly consumed later on by an entire warren of rabbits … but that's not really important.
'Ho, my fine fellow; what have you there?' The man was old, lopsided, wrinkled, disheveled, ugly, dirty, toothless and almost bald, leading a black and white cow of similar description by a just frayed rope looped around its neck.
'They're beans, old man. Can you not see?'
'No … I'm blind.'
'Oh … sorry!' Jock went bright red with embarrassment, which was a bit pointless because there was only Colin to notice and he wasn't looking.
'So, where are you going, boy?'
'To market, sir, to sell my beans.'
'Ah, then we are well met, for I have just what you need right here!'
'And what might that be, good sir?'
'Why, this fine animal!'
'I … she looks a bit scruffy to me!'
'Nonsense! She's a fine cow and will keep you well supplied with milk, butter and cheese for many a year hence!'
'Um … I don't know …'
'And you won't have to mow the lawn, either!'
It was the decrepit's final words which persuaded Jock to swap the beans for the cow. He'd always hated doing the lawn-mowing and in fact, had once run away from home because of it. Actually, he'd only got as far as the gate, but the intention was there.
Being rather stupid, Jock failed to realise that he'd also included Colin and the cart in the swap, until he was left standing in the middle of the road with just a mangy old cow on a tatty bit of string.
Well, I guess you can imagine the reception he got back at the farm. Mummy was livid. Jock ended up black and blue, nearly every piece of crockery in the house having hit him some place or other. It didn't help that the cow had died the second it walked through the gate, most likely of old age, though it could conceivably have been from any one of six or seven nasty diseases.
'You idiot!' Mummy wasn't in a word-mincing mood. 'Now what are we going to live on?'
'We could eat the cow, couldn't we?'
'That rancid old thing? It's starting to rot already!'
'Well then, how about selling some of the gold we've got lying about all over the place?'
'You stupid boy! Gold is rubbish … it's everywhere! Why d'you think they pave the roads with it?'
'Aw … I'm sorry mummy, honest!'
As has been hitherto reported, Jock was the idol of his mummy's eye, so naturally she forgave him while she swept up all the broken plates and he lazed about as usual.
'Make yourself useful, my lad … go and bury that smelly old thing before somebody complains. Shoo … you're in my way!'
So, off Jock went to collect the cow, tossing it up on his shoulder as though it were but a feather. He carried it to top field, overlooking the valley and then had to go all the way back down again … and back up again … because he'd forgotten the spade. Oh boy …
  Anyhow, within a very short while he had a deep hole dug and containing one dead cow.
'There … now you can look out over the valley and dream of juicy pastures.' Jock patted down the earth with a final thump of the spade, marking the huge mound with a little blue flower and a small cross made from two sticks tied together with a bit of grass. Dim-witted he may have been, but nobody'd ever said his heart was misplaced.

Luckily for Jock and mummy, the beans decided that this year was the right year to go for a second cropping. Of course, it'd be smaller than the first one and would take a while growing, but at least they knew they wouldn't starve once the harvest was in … and that was the problem; they had no food and the new beans wouldn't be ready for two months.
'I could dig up the cow, mummy; what d'you think?'
Mummy showed Jock what she thought by sacrificing yet another plate to the God of Small Bruises, her slightly battered son quickly deciding that outside was preferable to inside and heading off up to top field to see how the cow was doing.
'Wow!'
Wow indeed. Jock stared up at the huge cowstalk growing out of the ex-bovine's last resting place, his mouth open almost wide enough to have swallowed Colin, had he still been around.
'Golly!'
Being of unsound mind, Jock immediately decided that as the cowstalk was there, he should climb it; so off he went, higher and higher, until he was at least fifteen feet off the ground … and that was when it happened …
At first, it was just a creaking and the cowstalk began to tilt, but the creaking became a cracking and the tilt turned into a topple and before you could say 'Rumplestiltskin', the cowstalk had fallen over and tumbled into the valley below with Jock still clinging to it for dear life.
'Crikey!'
Recovering his breath, our pudding-brained hero looked down to see that the cowstalk was still growing, stretching way down through the misty clouds that always shrouded the valley below … and naturally, it was an adventure he couldn't resist …

It took Jock nearly half an hour to climb down to the valley floor, where amazing scenery met his eye … there wasn't a sign of gold anywhere and everything was green and lovely, with lots of trees and flowers and … bushy things.
'Gosh!'
'Yes?'
'Eh?'
'You said my name … Gosh. What do you want?'
'Um …' Jock was a little mystified, which didn't surprise the little gnome-like man at all, once he'd registered the tightly knit brows and bemused look on Jock's handsome face.
'My name's Gosh,' he said, patiently, 'what's yours?'
'Oh, I see,' said Jock, as the perplexed expression cleared. 'My name's Jock.'
'Where did you come from and what's that thing?'
'It's a cowstalk, and I came from up there.' Jock pointed at the trailing greenery and craned his neck to gaze at the clouds. 'Where do you come from?'
'Here, of course … over there. I'm the giantess's husband.' He smiled coyly, a pudgy forefinger indicating a gaily decorated, multi-turreted castle set upon a grassy knoll just a hop, skip and a jump away.
'That's a very pointy farm.'
'It's not a farm, silly; it's a castle. You shouldn't be here you know … she'll eat you if she catches you.'
Sadly, Jock thought the little man had said 'beat you' instead of 'eat you', which was why he ignored him.
'I'm thirsty,' said Jock. 'Got any lemonade?'
'I … probably. Let's go and see,' and the two rather mismatched fellows headed off towards the castle.
Just as they were entering the kitchen, Jock heard the sound of heavy footsteps and deep, snorty sniffs …

'Foe, fie, fee, fum,'
'I smell the feet of a beanfarmer's son,'
'Be he dead or be he quick,'
'I'll gobble him up with just one lick.'

It was the giantess … and she was very hungry!
'Oh heavens … you're in trouble now!' Gosh pushed Jock aside and hid in the oven, leaving the poor boy to his awful fate.
Finally realising he was going to be eaten rather than beaten and not wishing to be even nibbled a bit, Jock ran through the castle, pursued by the great galumphing giantess. Being very sporty, Jock easily outran her, managing to snag a trophy on the way in the form of a rather pretty harpsichord which had been sitting in a corner, playing all by itself.
Hauling his prize to the top of the cowstalk was quite an effort even for our Jock, but eventually he got it home and presented it proudly to mummy, still tinkling merrily away.
'Oh for … couldn't you have found something remotely edible?' Jock dodged the cup but was caught on the knee by the saucer, which ricocheted off the lad and smashed into the harpsichord, silencing it once and for all.
'Ouch. Sorry mummy; I was in a bit of a hurry.'
'Tiresome boy! Go and find something to eat!'

There was nothing for it but to head back up to top field and climb down the cowstalk again, where somewhat to his surprise, he found Gosh waiting for him.
'I knew you'd be back,' said the little man, 'you forgot your lemonade.'
Jock gratefully accepted the glass, draining it in one gulp. 'I'm hungry too.'
'This should help, then,' said Gosh, handing Jock a heavy burlap sack.
'Thanks! What is it?'
'It's a present – you'll never be hungry again!'
'Oh, thank you very much,' said Jock, not waiting to look in the sack before hurrying back to the cowstalk and starting the long climb home.

'Look mummy! Look what the giantess's husband gave me!'
Mummy hurried over, watching eagerly as Jock untied the sack and tipped the contents out onto the table … and what do you know? It was a huge pile of gleaming gold coins!
'Oh, you stupid boy! What are we going to do with this? It's worthless!'
Jock ruefully rubbed the lump on his head after mummy'd hit it with the last piece of Wedgewood in the house.
'Ouch. Sorry mummy … I thought it was something to eat.'
Sigh.
'I give up.' Mummy headed back to the stove where she was cutting up a leather apron to make stew out of.

So, for the third time that day, Jock tramped up to top field with the unwanted bag of gold coins over his broad shoulder. Down the cowstalk he went, determined to find something digestible, but still humming to himself because basically, he was a happy, good-natured guy.
Unfortunately, Jock was about half way down when he slipped and dropped the bag of coins. 'Oops,' he said, a worried look crossing his ample brow, 'I hope that doesn't hit anybody!'
Of course, when he finally reached the bottom of the cowstalk, Jock found that the heavy bag had indeed hit someone, poor Gosh lying on the ground, rather flat and quite dead.
'Oh bugger,' said Jock, who'd quite liked the little man. To give him his due, he did think about burying his unintended victim, but loud galumphing noises rapidly approaching from the direction of the castle convinced him that hanging about was probably not in his best interests. 'Um … I'd better hide,' he thought, spotting a small shed just a few yards away and hurrying towards it. The shed proved to be a coop full of chickens, which squawked a bit at first but soon settled down once they realised Jock wasn't a fox.
Jock huddled among the hens for a good half hour while the giantess wailed and moaned for her deceased husband, stomping about and sniffing at everything trying to find the culprit but apparently unable to tell Jock from fowl. At last, with a parting scream and a gnashing of teeth, the huge woman clumped off towards the castle, presumably taking the body with her because it wasn't there when Jock snuck out of the henhouse with one of the chickens stuffed into his shirt. Finally, he'd found something for mummy to cook!
Back to the cowstalk he ran, clambering up it as fast as he could. He was rather worried that the giantess might decide to follow him, so just in case he used the spade to chop the cowstalk down, watching as it slipped over the edge and dropped into the valley, disappearing into the clouds.
'There … that's that,' said our hero, nodding to himself, 'I hope mummy will be pleased with me this time!'

Naturally, mummy was very happy when Jock presented her with the fat hen. 'It'll make a fine meal, my son!' she cried, 'Here … have some apron stew.'
Luckily, mummy decided not to kill the chicken right away, housing it overnight in the cage that used to contain Jock's pet rabbit before it … but that's not really important.
What is important is that when Jock went out in the morning to wring the chicken's neck, he found that it had laid an egg! And what a strange egg it was, too … sort of chalky brown and not looking at all like the usual boring gold ones. Picking it up carefully, he rushed inside to show mummy what he'd found.
'Look mummy! Look what that hen laid! It's a funny sort of egg!'

Well, I expect you can guess the rest of the story. The hen that laid the real eggs soon became a sensation, particularly when they realised that not only were the eggs good to eat, but if they were left for a little while, they hatched into fluffy things that grew up to be more chickens!
Jock and his mother quickly became very well known and extremely rich, much richer in fact than the local king, who just 'happened to be in the neighbourhood' and 'popped over' one day, bearing a handsomely engraved invitation for Jock and his mummy to attend the ball in honour of the prince's sixteenth birthday.
So at last, Jock and the prince were able to play together and everybody lived happily ever after except the giantess, who died of grief after mourning for a whole week … but that's not really important.
An entry into #Indie-Ventures collection of 'Inverted Fantasy Clichés'
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:iconkaiv2:
KaiV2 Featured By Owner Nov 17, 2011  Hobbyist Writer
This was really funnyb :D I liked it :D
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:iconcentauran:
Centauran Featured By Owner Nov 21, 2011  Hobbyist General Artist
Thank you - much of my stuff is humorous.
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:iconkaiv2:
KaiV2 Featured By Owner Nov 22, 2011  Hobbyist Writer
XD np
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:iconneuroticmnemonic:
neuroticmnemonic Featured By Owner Nov 8, 2011   Writer
Your voice is absolutely fantastic. Witty and addictive. The dialogue drives this story. Awesome job.
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:iconcentauran:
Centauran Featured By Owner Nov 8, 2011  Hobbyist General Artist
Thank you! I've written quite a few short stories and twelve full-length novels, published with Lulu. My gallery contains a number of literature sub-galleries which I invite you to explore!
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:iconneuroticmnemonic:
neuroticmnemonic Featured By Owner Nov 11, 2011   Writer
Well, I might have to stop by your gallery then!
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:iconcentauran:
Centauran Featured By Owner Nov 11, 2011  Hobbyist General Artist
you could also visit: [link] for 10-page previews of my 12 novels - 11 have been serialised on dA
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:iconjanoera:
Janoera Featured By Owner Nov 7, 2011  Student Digital Artist
Great story! Continue writing~ (forever and ever and ever...)
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:iconcentauran:
Centauran Featured By Owner Nov 7, 2011  Hobbyist General Artist
I seem to have stalled at twelve novels ... still waiting for a plot I haven't already used!
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:iconjanoera:
Janoera Featured By Owner Nov 7, 2011  Student Digital Artist
Continue twisting fairytales then, you seem to have a flair for it^^
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:iconcentauran:
Centauran Featured By Owner Nov 7, 2011  Hobbyist General Artist
Thank you! How about a novel? Here's the start of my twist on the 'werewolf' theme.
[link]
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:iconmonstroooo:
monstroooo Featured By Owner Nov 7, 2011  Hobbyist Writer
Congraulations! :party: You've been featured in our :earth:Weekly Roundup :clap: :happybounce: :clap:

Thanks for sharing with the group :)

:iconwritersink:
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:iconcentauran:
Centauran Featured By Owner Nov 7, 2011  Hobbyist General Artist
Hurrah! - I hope more people will read some of my novels! They're awfully good!
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:iconsleyf:
Sleyf Featured By Owner Nov 2, 2011  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
I love it! You gave me a good laugh with this, I love your quick witted style by the way
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:iconcentauran:
Centauran Featured By Owner Nov 2, 2011  Hobbyist General Artist
Thank you - to make people gasp or giggle is my sole intent.
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:iconsleyf:
Sleyf Featured By Owner Nov 3, 2011  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
:lmao: you're welcome, and a very noble intend it is too
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:iconmonstroooo:
monstroooo Featured By Owner Nov 2, 2011  Hobbyist Writer
Very funny! I loved the irreverent style of the narration. I seem to recall that you have a gift for comical whimsy, and it shines through here. I particularly like the joke about the gold-paved streets in a land where beans are the accepted form of currency :rofl:

(Warning: these next paragraphs might get rambly as I try to explain myself in a rush. Apologies in advance) I got a touch confused by something, and I wonder if I missed the point of the story. Is the idea that above the beanstalk, where Jock lives, is the land of giants and gold-egg-laying-hens that exists above our traditional "jack and the beanstalk" story? And below is the familiar, everyday world we know?

That would make sense in terms of the story and the Indie Ventures theme. What confuses the issue, though, is the giantess and the gnome below the beanstalk. I'm not sure if you're just playing fast-and-loose with ideas, or if the story is just a little muddled :confused: I think there's a lot of milage in simply inverting the story and making Jock the giant (Where his mother and the prince are also giants, except that to each other they're normal) ; and having everyone in the land below be "gnomes". I think the story might benefit from tightening up that idea of inversion (whether that's what you were originally aiming for or not!) :nod:

I know you're not a fan of nitpicking, but I think the prose does sometimes lack style (not quite sure how to explain it, but the prose is somehow very loose); can be a touch too long-winded; and "nobody'd" is a turn of phrase I struggle to justify. But generally, the tone and humour of the story are excellent :)

Also, I'd notice you'd joined us at :iconwritersink:, but I've not yet had a chance to welcome you. So, welcome! :wave: Nice to have you with us :)
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:iconcentauran:
Centauran Featured By Owner Nov 2, 2011  Hobbyist General Artist
I'm actualy struck more by your comment about "nobody'd" than anything else! I'm sure you must have said it yourself many times - it's a common enough verbal contraction - I'm sure nobody'd want it removed from the language completely!

Now - to your points about the story: I merely reversed everything I decently could - In the original story (did you read it, by the way?) Jack sells the cow for beans, plants them, climbs up the beanstalk to find a giant with a small wife. Jack hides in the oven, steals the gold, the harp and the hen that lays the golden eggs in three visits.

In my version, the giant becomes a giantess, the small wife becomes a small husband. The harp becomes a harpsichord, Jock is given the gold and steals a hen that lays real eggs. Naturally, it is the beans that get sold for a cow, the cow gets planted and the resulting cowstalk grows downwards, no upwards. I could indeed have made Jock and his mother giants and everything below tiny, but chose not to, because there wasn't really any point. For instance, I could have made Jack Jill and mother father, turned the man he met into woman etc - but how far do you go before the story becomes to cumbersome and unrecognisable?

Not sure what you meant about 'beans being an accepted form of currency' - Jock was going to the market to sell them, if you recall.

As the longwindedness, I agree I stuck a few pieces in as 'jokes', but the original venture request did say that about 7500 words was par for a short story. As I'd only reached 2000 or so, I was a little worried it might prove too short - however, reading some of the other efforts quickly disabused me of this idea. Nevertheless, I left the bits in.
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:iconmonstroooo:
monstroooo Featured By Owner Nov 3, 2011  Hobbyist Writer
Don't get me wrong, I see what you've done with the story, and I like it :) Apparently I've forgotten more of the original story than I've remembered and a couple of subtleties escaped me... but I'm with you on the concept, and the reason you've made those inversions. That's all good :thumbsup:

The basis of my criticism is that just inverting things for the sake of it doesn't add a lot. Some changes - like making the giant a giantess and the wife a husband - aren't worth much unless you do a little more with them. You've actually made the point yourself: you could have inverted things arbitrarily like making Jock's mother his father. But to what end? I think you might be better off being more selective with the inversions you adopt and getting a bit more out of them.

You've already made Jock go down the beanstalk, rather than up it, and produced comedy by contrasting the two worlds (mostly with the egg situation, which is one of my favourite parts of the story). I can't help but think that focusing more on the idea of what someone who lives above the beanstalk would think about our world, and inverting the original story where it plays to that theme, would be a better approach :sherlock:

I realise that what I've suggested is a slightly different story. But the idea of Jock going down the beanstalk seems laden with possibility - and I'm enchanted with that notion. Hence my original comment: I had wondered if that was what you were actually going for, but had perhaps muddled a couple of details without realising it :blush:

Whether or not you think that approach would benefit the story, and furthermore whether you think the degree of change is appropriate, is entirely up to your discretion :) Just lending my :twocents: is all!

On the topic of "nobody'd" - sure, I use it in speech all the time. Just as I use "ain't", "gonna" and "what've". These are colloquial abbreviations used verbally: don't forget that there is a differnce between the written word and the spoken word. The problem with the usage here is that it appears as part of the narrative. It's not 'proper English', unless you hark back to something like an archaic Old English usage. Either way, it clashes untidily with the tone of the narrative and doesn't really belong :shrug:
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:iconcentauran:
Centauran Featured By Owner Nov 3, 2011  Hobbyist General Artist
I get your points and what's done is done - I ain't gonna fiddle with it! It are what it are. I'm going back to my novels ... the plot for number 13 is bound to be just around the corner!
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:iconmonstroooo:
monstroooo Featured By Owner Nov 3, 2011  Hobbyist Writer
Fair enough :)

Perhaps number 13 could be the story of a man who is afraid of corners...?
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:iconcentauran:
Centauran Featured By Owner Nov 3, 2011  Hobbyist General Artist
Hmmm ... that'd be a bit of a turning point ...
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:iconthecreepycanadian:
TheCreepyCanadian Featured By Owner Oct 24, 2011  Hobbyist General Artist
:woohoo: This was great!
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:iconcentauran:
Centauran Featured By Owner Oct 24, 2011  Hobbyist General Artist
I'm glad you liked it - may all your eggs be real ones.
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:iconthecreepycanadian:
TheCreepyCanadian Featured By Owner Oct 25, 2011  Hobbyist General Artist
:woohoo:
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:iconhell-is-a-56:
Hell-is-a-56 Featured By Owner Oct 24, 2011
Haha...chalky eggs. :D
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:iconcentauran:
Centauran Featured By Owner Oct 24, 2011  Hobbyist General Artist
LOL - better than those hard gold ones ...
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:iconhell-is-a-56:
Hell-is-a-56 Featured By Owner Oct 24, 2011
Much easier to bake with. :nod:
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