Trigger warning: gore
The cyclops stood over the three shipwrecked sailors. “I would add you to my soup and crunch your bones but I am not unfair. Challenge me to any feat and if I fail you may go free. Be warned, none have ever bested me.”
One man stepped forward. “I am the strongest man I have ever met. None have ever bested me in a feat of strength.“ He grabbed a rock half as tall as himself, tore it from the ground and heaved it a far distance.
“None are stronger than me,” the cyclops said. He grabbed a rock as tall as himself, tore it from the ground and heaved it twice as far. While the men stared in shock, the cyclops grabbed the strong man by the neck, shook him twice, and tossed his lifeless body into the soup pot.
The second man stepped forward. “I am the fastest man I have ever met. None have ever beaten me in a race. Race me to the rock you threw and back.“ He took off running, barely a blur to human eyes.
“None are faster than me,” the cyclops said. He sprinted after the fast man. The cyclops passed him, circled the rock and returned to the soup pot. Impatient for his supper, the cyclops ran back to the fast man, grabbed him by the neck, shook him twice, and into the pot he went.
The last man stepped forward. “I am not very strong nor am I very fast. But I can do this…“ He picked up a stick from the ground and shoved it into his eye. He screamed and yelled as he gouged out his eye but did not stop. When he was done, he faced the cyclops, eye to eye, with blood flowing down his face. “And I can still see,” and then he offered the stick to the cyclops, “Your turn.”
Author note: This story started with me thinking about Oh Brother Where Art Thou and realizing that John Goodman’s character, who wears an eye patch, was meant to be a cyclops. This segued into thinking about myths and monsters and challenges and what could you challenge a cyclops to do that you could be sure they couldn’t do. I almost immediately pictured a man gouging his own eye out and then offering the stick to the cyclops. Once I had that the rest very quickly fell into place. The repetitive parts were meant to resemble fairy tales like The Three Pigs or Goldilocks.