Jerry C. T. Slicker was lost in the woods. While vacationing with a few friends at a cabin in upstate New York, he’d wandered off to investigate the sound of a nearby stream. Telling his companions he was going to go guzzle down some of nature’s bountiful springwater, he set out with thirst and confidence and not much else. He thought he’d be back in no time, but this was not to be. As it turned out, the “trickle” he’d heard was only the wind, and Jerry failed to realize this until he had wandered up and down a couple slopes, through a few thickets, and around a maze of boulders nearly as tall as the trees. By the time he discovered that the true source of the enticing rrrrrushhhhhh was nothing that could even wet his whistle, let alone provide him with a nice deep drink, Jerry had no earthly idea where he was. Every direction seemed equally unlikely to be the one he’d come from, and the wind now sounded mocking and unfriendly.
Jerry sat on a log and wracked his brain for any tidbit of information that could help him. He scrunched up his face and knocked on his forehead and stamped his feet in frustration until finally – success! The cabin was directly southeast of the mountains, one of his friends had mentioned, and these were directly ahead of him! So Jerry pointed himself toward the sun, already low in the sky now, and walked toward it triumphantly for many a mile. Of course, this only worsened the situation. He walked and walked, and the world around him grew increasingly unfamiliar.
By the time the last sunlight vanished behind the canopy of trees, Jerry was about eighteen miles from his cozy cabin, having elected to walk in an entirely wrong and nonsensical direction. Hopeless and confused, he decided there was only one option for a man of his caliber in this kind of predicament – to curl up under a tree, cry himself to sleep, and hope everything would be better in the morning. But just as he was preparing to cue the waterworks, a voice rang out from somewhere behind him –
“Yeehaw howdy, whaddup stranger! What brings you so far out in the back-country on this fine night?”
The voice belonged to, seemingly, a giant – he was about nine feet tall and as thick as a pregnant redwood and parted the trees from his path like they were nothing but oversized reeds. All of his clothing and gear must have been homemade – his shoes were somewhere around a size 27, his backpack could’ve dammed up a river, and his flashlight might have been plucked from the top of a lighthouse. There was a toothpick in his mouth that would have made a fine walking stick for a normal human, and he chewed it casually as he spoke.
“Name’s Rail, Hand Rail,” he said. “What’s yours? What are you doing out here? Lost?”
“Jerry,” said Jerry, “And yes.”
“Well no problem,” said Hand Rail, “I’ve got my map and compass here. If you can show me where you want to be heading, I can get you there, sure as salad!”
Hand Rail’s map was (unsurprisingly) huge, and easy to read. It had a compass rose in one of the corners, and after a bit of deliberation, Jerry was able to point out the location of the cabins. Hand Rail whistled.
“Lucky for you it looks like there’s a handrail we can follow just about all the way there. Here, follow me!”
Jerry followed Hand Rail as closely as he could, jogging to keep up with the giant’s enormous strides. Soon enough, they made their way to a deep ditch at the bottom of a gully, and Hand Rail paused.
“Here it be! Your highway home!”
He stepped into the ditch (which came slightly above his waist) and strolled leisurely down the middle, following the gentle downhill pitch of the gully. As he walked, he let his fingers glide across the mound of dirt which ran beside the edge of the ditch, as casually as one might slide their hand down a smooth railing on a staircase. The walls of the ditch were well over Jerry’s head and his scramble on the bottom was far less comfortable, but he managed to keep up. The hours passed, and the darkness thinned. As the first blue streaks were appearing in the sky, the duo sighted the telltale smoke of a cabin chimney, and the smaller figure released a long-held sigh. Hand Rail and his handrail had finally guided Jerry home.