Take Me Out To The Ballgame

by: small1 and speck

Part One
Justin grabbed a bat and walked up to the plate. It was a hot, humid night, and the smell of hot dogs filled the air. Justin, quite impressive at over six foot tall, waited for the pitch in an almost trance-like state.

"Hit one outa here!" Tommy yelled at his friend from the dugout as he swatted at some mosquitos flying around his face. "Damn, these bugs are awful!"

Justin swung at the pitch, and the ball went soaring high and far outside the park. It was a home run. Justin ran the bases and his team-mates greeted him with high fives when he reached home base. He plopped back down on the bench next to his buddy Tommy.

"Great job," Tommy said as he gave Justin a punch in the arm. Justin punched him right back.

"I just can't wait to get this game over with so we can do some partying," Justin exclaimed. "Did Zack and Joe get the beer?"

"Yeah, they got it all right," Tommy said. "I hope the bums don't drink it all."

* * *
Zack and Joe had snuck into a fenced off area of land about a half-mile behind the baseball stadium. Having ignored the "danger", and "keep out" signs, the two college guys grabbed a couple beers, and set the rest of the six pack on a steel drum that partly stuck out of the ground. Hidden from view was the word "TOXIC" in bold letters. In the distance, they heard the announcer say it was the end of the fifth inning. Joe yawned as he looked in the direction of the lights of the baseball stadium.

"That has got to be the slowest game of all time," Zack exclaimed while in the process of downing his beer. "God, I hate baseball!"

"Just chill out," Joe said. "After the game, we'll hook up with Justin and Tommy, and we will have the rest of the weekend to party. Zack and Joe had not yet noticed the green slimy liquid that was oozing out of the side of the steel drum.

"Oh my God, what is this crap?" Joe said in disgust as he accidentally put his hand in some of the horrible sticky fluid. He started to rub his hands on his shirt.

"Yuck, it's everywhere!" Zack exclaimed as he jumped up and moved away from the container. "Grab the beer, and let's get the hell out of here!"

"Yeah, let's head back to the game," Joe agreed. "Man, I am not feeling too good."

"Everything is spinning," Zack replied in a garbled voice and then fell to the ground unconscious. Joe soon followed. The guys began to come to about ten minutes later.

Part Two

Zack was the first to wake. He saw his friend Joe sprawled out next to him. He crawled over and shook Joe's shoulder. "C'mon. Wake up!"

Zack was still fighting a dizzy feeling. Joe started to wake up, mumbling something. Zack took a moment to look around. He saw something odd. There was a huge metal cylinder directly in front of him. There was even a label.

"Can't be!" Zack exclaimed. But, blocking any wider view, was a huge beer can. Zack got to his feet and started to walk toward the enormous can.

"Oh my God!" Zack cried. "If that's a beer can..."

He shook his head to try to rid himself of such an absurd, impossible thought. He closed his eyes and slowly opened them again.

"No!" Zack cried.

Suddenly, he felt a hand on his shoulder. He wheeled around to see Joe. Joe was a big, blocky guy. He stood about 6'3" tall to Zack's 5'8" tall.

"What's going on?" Joe asked. "What happened? I feel like I've been run over by a truck."

"Joe, I think...I don't know how...not exactly..." Zack stammered, unwilling to actually say the words.

"What is it?" Joe asked impatiently.

"Look!" Zack pointed to the colossal aluminum beer can.

"Cool! What is it? Some sort of prop beer can for a prank?"

"No, I don't think so." Zack looked all around. His courage failed as he glanced behind them at an enormous barrel that completely dwarfed the beer can. If the beer can looked as big as a tanker truck, the steel drum was the size of some enormous skyscraper.
And then he remembered their exposure to the strange green slime that leaked from the now mega-sized steel drum.

"We've shrunk!" Zack cried.

"No way," Joe said, but as he looked around, he also began to notice how everything has changed. In the far distance, no more than a glow on the horizon, were lights. The lights from the ballfield only half a mile away. But, that was a measure of distance that hardly carried any meaning now to the two shrunken men.

"How small are we?" Joe wondered aloud.

Zack walked around to the front of the beer can. The open tab was as big as a door.

"We're small!" Zack exclaimed. "Hell, we're probably no more than half an inch tall."

"We're as tiny as a bug!" Joe added, his normally deep voice sounding very teeny and squeaky.

Zack felt sick to his stomach as he stared into the dark interior of the beer can. "Don't you think I know that?" Zack snapped.

"Well, what are we going to do?" Joe replied.

Zack tried to clear his mind to think. He knew their friends, Justin and Tommy, were at the ballfield. He also knew that he and Joe had parked the car right outside the fenced in lot where they were now. Justin and Tommy would be looking for them after the game.

The ballfield seemed an impossible distance, but they could go back to the car and wait. Justin and Tommy would come to them, if for no other reason than they knew that Joe and Zack were getting the beer.

"C'mon. We've got to reach the car."

"The car! We can't drive a car!"

"I know that," Zack said, losing patience. "But we'd never make it to the ballfield. But I know Justin and Tommy will come looking for us."

Again, the two tiny men stared in awe and fear at their gigantic surroundings. "And when they do," Zack added, "we have got to get their attention. They're our only hope!"

Part Three

Zack and Joe began their journey to Zack's car parked just outside the fence with a brisk jog. The terrain was quite daunting. It was mostly dirt, but rocks the size of huge boulders littered the escape route. Old broken pieces of asphalt were mountainous obstacles and giant weeds seemed to extend endlessly into the vast night sky.

"Zack, this is just horrible," Joe was saying as he was trying to keep up with Zack. "I can't believe this is happening to us. It has got to be a nightmare or something."

"Just keep your cool, and focus on getting back to the car," Zack said trying to console his worried friend. "Justin and Tommy will find us and help us out."

"But what if we don't make it back to the car in time? It's so far away and the game is almost over. Or what if they don't see us because we are so small? We'll be stranded out here forever..." Joe was now starting to mumble in a panic.

"Okay, hold on for a second," Zack stopped and grabbed Joe by his shoulders. "We will make it back to the car. Justin and Tommy will look for us, and this is going to work out. We will get to a doctor and I am sure there is an antidote for this crap. Hell, it may wear off by itself. But you have got to calm down."

"I'm sorry. You're right Zack. I have got to get a grip," Joe said as he took a deep breath. "Now, let's get out of here and back to the car."

The two college guys continued to their destination with a renewed sense of urgency. Trash left by other environmentally unfriendly trespassers had now become enormous obstacles for the shrunken young men. They darted around gigantic bottles, cans, and other unrecognizable trash.

Zack and Joe's journey was abruptly interrupted by a enormous black mass. The wall was scruffy and beat up. The shape and smell seemed eerily familiar to the young men.

"What in the hell is it?" Joe asked, as he and Zack backed up to take in the entire view of the massive structure. "Oh my God, it can't be!"

"Yep, it's an old giant boot," Zack replied in amazement. "Can you imagine the size of the foot that would fit into that thing?"

"I sure wouldn't want to be caught in the path of someone that huge," Joe speculated as he began to think of how tiny he and Zack had become. "We are going to have to be careful when we meet up with Justin and Tommy. You know how big Justin's feet are. I don't want to be accidentally crushed under those monsters."

"You're right about that," Zack agreed. "We are so small, they might think we are bugs or something. Come on, let's go around this thing."

After going around the giant boot, Zack and Joe were presented with a smooth dirt surface, and the fence was about two miles away for them. And the car was right within their sights outside the fence.

"Almost home!" Zack exclaimed. "Come on, let's go Joe."

"I am right behind you buddy," Joe replied as the two guys journeyed into the impending vast open area. "What is that buzzing sound?"

* * *

"Awesome game guys!" Coach said in a hoarse husky voice. "Now hit the showers, and those of you who need a ride back to campus, meet at my van in 30 minutes. And don't nobody get into no trouble this weekend. Practice is Monday at five sharp."

Justin crammed his gym bag with his dirty, sweaty baseball uniform. There was just enough room for his baseball glove as he tried to zip the bag shut. Tommy had already made it to the showers.

"Hurry up man," Tommy urged Justin as he returned from the showers. "We've got to find Zack and Joe and commence the partying."

"I'll be back in a flash," Justin replied and hurried for the showers. Tommy put on some jeans and a blue t-shirt. He had forgotten to bring some shoes so he just put his baseball cleats back on. He thought they looked pretty cool on him anyway.

Justin returned from the showers to an impatient Tommy and threw some shorts on and a Tim Couch Cleveland Browns football jersey. "Let's jet!"

Justin and Tommy grabbed their stuffed gym bags and exited the locker room in search of their buddies.

Part Four

Justin and Tommy were aggravated to leave the locker room at the baseball field and find that their friends were not waiting for them in the parking lot.

"This is just like those clowns," Justin grumbled, kicking up a shower of gravel with his baseball cleats.

Tommy thought about the situation. "Well, they wouldn't have waited here where the coach might have seen them, not with the beer and all," he said.

"Yeah? Well, where the hell are they?" Justin complained.

Tommy scanned the vicinity. Not too far away he saw the old fenced-in lot. Beneath the soft glow of some overhead lights, he thought he could just make out a car.

"Isn't that Zack's car?" Tommy said, pointing in the direction of the old lot.

Justin looked and grunted. "Sure as hell better be," he said, and started walking in that direction, and Tommy followed close behind him.

* * *

At that very moment, their friends were cowering behind a large boulder. Joe had a nasty gash along his right arm.

They listened for a moment for the horrible buzzing noise. They heard only silence.

"I think I drove it off," Zack said of the mosquito that had viciously attacked his friend.

Joe, wincing from the pain of the bleeding wound on his arm, nodded. "Thanks for that, man."

An ominous buzzing from the insect's wings had been the only warning before the blood-sucking creature had launched its onslaught, stabbing repeatedly about Joe's head and shoulders with a stiletto-like blade that made up its mouthparts.

"Hell, I could have squashed that damn bug with a single swat of my hand," Joe said. "But now... did you see it? It was as big as one of those things...those flying dinosaurs."

"Pteradactyls?" Zack asked.

"Yeah, those. Only a lot meaner."

"We'll just have to be more alert," Zack said. But he had been thoroughly frightened when the crazed insect had attacked his friend. But, he took some comfort in the knowledge that he had acted quickly, grabbing up several small rocks and hurling them against the creature. Success came when one of the rocks tore through the creature's translucent wings, causing the mosquito to veer off and disappear into the darkness.

"At least we're closer to the car," Joe said. The colossal automobile filled their entire horizon. It looked like some beached cruise ship on wheels.

"Yeah," Zack said. "All we have to do is wait for Justin and Tommy. Once they find us, this nightmare will be over."

"Yeah, man," Joe said, but as he started to walk forward again, he froze.

"What is it?" Zack asked before he too felt the ground tremble and heard the fearfully loud yet familiar voices.

Then, both tiny men screamed.

* * *

Tommy and Justin stomped through the gravel lot outside the fence.

"It's Zack's car alright," Justin commented. "But where's Zack and Joe?"

Tommy sat down on the hood of the automobile. "Who cares? Where's the beer?"

Justin dug into his pocket. He chuckled as he took out a key. "Zack gave me one of his keys once," he said. "Maybe we ought to just take the car and leave those jokers stranded out here."

He dangled the key as he continued to crunch gravel beneath his baseball cleats with every step he took. "What do you say?" Justin asked Tommy.

"Maybe we should give them a few minutes," Tommy said. "They've got to be around here somewhere."

Justin slapped at a mosquito on his arm. "There's nothing here but damn bugs," he complained.

Part Five

Justin unlocked the door to Zack's dilapidated old faded orange Nissan 200SX and peered inside while Tommy jumped off the hood of the car and walked over to a gate in the old rusted fence. Each step made a loud crunching noise as the loose gravel was pressed down and strewn behind his shoe as he walked. Just as Tommy reached the gate, he looked down and saw something tiny darting across in front of him. Without much thought, Tommy lifted his baseball cleat over the tiny creature and mashed down, twisting his shoe a little to ensure the desired result. He lifted his shoe and looked at the unrecognizable smear left on the bottom.

"What the hell are you doing?" Justin asked slightly perturbed as he saw what he was looking for in the back seat of Zack's car. "Oh yeah, we just hit pay-dirt!"

"Oh nothing, I just stepped on a bug or something," Tommy replied as he stood at the gate of the fence next to a "KEEP OUT" sign. "Damn things are everywhere."

Justin was almost giddy as he saw the ice chest and three cases of beer in the back seat of the Zack's Nissan. He was quite pleased when he opened the lid to the ice-chest and found it full of ice cold beers. "Well, if you're done crushing little bugs, are you ready for a cold one?" Justin asked as he pulled two cans of beer from the ice-chest.

"Hell yeah!" Tommy replied.

"Here, catch," Justin said as he tossed his friend an ice cold can of beer.

Even though the gate was chained shut, there was plenty of room for a person to squeeze through the edge of the gate and get to the vacant lot. Tommy took a giant gulp of his beer and pushed on the gate. "Do you think the guys went in there?"

"Why the hell would they go in there?" Justin replied as he dug around the trash in the floorboard of the car. "Hey, man I found a flashlight."

"I think we should go in there and look for them." Tommy said with a slight worried tone to his voice.

"Are you crazy? Don't you see that damn "Danger KEEP OUT" sign. There is probably a toxic waste dump in there or something," Justin said as he grabbed his and Tommy's gym bags and walked over to the gate where Tommy was standing. "We will just chill and down some brews while we wait on those guys to show up. Take a load off." Justin threw the gym bags on the ground and then sat down using his gym bag as a back-rest. Tommy promptly sat down next to him.

* * *

"Oh my God, they're freakin giants," Joe screamed in fear and shock as his gargantuan friends came into sight. "We've got to get out of here."

"Thats just Justin and Tommy you numb skull," Zack said in an effort to calm Joe down. "But, man, they are whoppers, ain't they?"

The ground beneath them shook and both Zack and Joe stood awe-struck as they watched Tommy walk over to the fence. Each step their mountainous friend took felt like an earthquake to tiny Zack and Joe. Zack stretched his neck and looked up at his enormous friend. "He must be over 800 feet tall! Come on Joe, help me get his attention."

Just then Tommy stomped one of his mammoth cleats on the ground, creating a ground shaking event that knocked Joe and Zack on their butts.

"I'm not going anywhere near that monster!" Joe exclaimed in a panic as he stood up and pondered an escape route from this nightmare. "Look at his freakin feet. If we go near him, we might get stepped on by those horrible things.

Zack was unnerved by the incredible size of Tommy and the thought of being anywhere near those massive shoes of his made him quite uneasy, but he knew the consequences of inaction.

"So you want to just stay out here and get eaten by a rat or something," Zack tried to reason with Joe. "Our only hope is to make contact with Tommy and Justin and get them to help us."

"Oh no, he's coming inside," Joe screamed in a panic as he watched giant Tommy push on the gate and almost start to squeeze inside. "Run, he'll crush both of us!"

Joe started to calm down as he realized Tommy had no intentions of venturing inside the gate just yet. But his heart started pumping faster as he watched Justin walk over to where Tommy was standing. "Oh, God, now we have two giants to deal with!"

"They are our friends, Joe," Zack pleaded, just as he was shook to the bone as Justin tossed his gym bag on the ground. "Let's go over there and try to get their attention."

"No way!" Joe replied. "They are giants, and we are just bugs to them. And you know what giants do to bugs don't you?"

Zack noticed that Tommy and Justin had sat down next to the fence to drink some beers.

"You can wait here, you scaredy cat," Zack told Joe, oblivious to the jet sized dragonfly that had spotted him from high overhead. "I'm going to go get some help from our friends."

As Joe stood and watched Zack walk towards their two colossal friends, he noticed a spooky shadow descend rapidly towards Zack.

"Zack, watch out!" Joe screamed at the top of his lungs as he witnessed the mammoth flying monster swoop down and grab his bug-sized friend. "Nooooooooooooooooooooooh!"

Part Six

Joe watched in horror as the huge winged insect scooped up his tiny friend in its scaly legs. The six legs formed quite an efficient snare for tiny prey.

The insect's wings buzzed as the insect, with a body that looked 48 feet long, ascended aloft in the dark.

"Joe! Help me!" Zack cried as loudly as he could.

Joe stood in shock. He was almost more frightened at the prospect of being left alone than the fact that his friend was about to become a snack for a giant insect.

Finally, he broke free of his fear-induced paralysis and began to chase after the insect.

The dragonfly's erratic flight took it right through the fence and into the wide territory beyond.

Joe halted again at the boundary that separated him from his two colossal friends and their enormous feet.

"Zack! Are you all right? Zack! Answer me!" Joe shouted.

When he got no reply, Joe made the decision. He walked under the fence and started into the open. He looked up just in time to see the insect begin to fly back down in a steep descent.

"Zack!" Joe shouted. "Zack!"

* * *

Zack had tried to break free from the grasp of the dragonfly's scaly legs, but with no luck. The insect's mouthparts clicked and grinded close to his head and shoulders.

Suddenly, the blur of motion seemed to stop. The insect was at rest. Unfortunately, that meant it could give its tiny captured prey its undivided attention.

"Hell! Will you look at that?"

Zack recognized Justin's loud voice. "Justin! Help me! Please, Justin! Help!"

Justin and Tommy stared down at the dragonfly that had alighted on top of Justin's gym bag.

"What the hell is it anyway?" Tommy wondered aloud.

"Some kind of bug," Justin commented.

The dragonfly was trying to use its legs to work tiny Zack closer to its sharp-edged mouthparts.

"Guys! Help me! Can't you hear me?" Zack screamed.

Tommy had finished his first beer. Lazily, he drew his hand back and tossed the empty can toward the dragonfly.

* * *

The awful insect kept clicking its razor-sharp mouthparts together. Suddenly, something impacted with a thud. The startled insect released Zack from its grasp and took back into the air.

Zack, also startled, felt himself sliding over a vast landscape. Below him, he saw a cavernous opening...a side pocket on Justin's gym bag.

He tried to desperately scramble back up the side of the bag, but he could gain no traction and plunged down into the deep prison of the pocket.

* * *

Poor Joe witnessed the entire scene. Reluctant to approach too closely, his little shouts for attention went unheard by his titanic friends.

And then, he saw Tommy hurl that giant can through the air. Joe had screamed until he saw the can was going to miss him.

The can plunged down almost on top of the dragonfly. Joe saw the huge winged insect take flight again and vanish into the darkness.

"No! Zack!" Joe cried, convinced the chance to save his friend from the insect's clutches had been lost.

And then, to his horror, the giants moved.

* * *

"I'm tired of waiting out here with these bugs," Tommy announced, standing and stretching his lanky body. "Let's take Zack's car and go. Those two clowns can find their own way home."

Justin shined the flashlight beneath his face. "Why? You scared of the dark, man?"

"No," Tommy replied. "But this is boring."

"Chill out and grab another beer."

Justin shined the flashlight beam across the ground.

* * *

Joe sank to his knees as Tommy's enormous cleats stomped down thunderously all around him.

"No! No! Please, don't step on me," the tiny man cried.

Suddenly, an enormous baseball cleat lifted and hovered directly overhead.

Joe screamed, "NOOOH!"

Part Seven

Tommy stood up and awkwardly stretched his arms and jostled around in the loose gravel a bit to regain his composure. Downing his first beer so quickly gave him a slight buzz. He was completely unaware that his friend Joe was cowering in complete terror down on the ground just under one of his massive baseball cleats. His gigantic shoe forcefully pounded the gravel with a loud crunching noise as he returned to the car to grab a couple more beers for himself and Justin.

All Joe could do was scream in terror as the colossal black mass from above descended rapidly on top of him. He was sure that in a split second, his tiny body would be pulverized under the gargantuan baseball cleat of his friend Tommy.

As Tommy's baseball shoe descended upon Joe, it created a gush of air between it and the ground that sent tiny Joe hurtling though the air just before it landed and crushed the gravel beneath it with a hair-raising crunching noise. As Tommy walked away, Joe found himself slipping into the shoe-print left by his friend's powerful foot.

Just happy to be alive, Joe made his way out of the shoe-print and and took a deep breath. His adrenaline raced as he looked over at the giant he knew as Justin, sitting drinking a beer with his massive legs spread out, and titanic shoes pointing high in the air. Joe knew he only had seconds before Tommy and the danger of being crushed by his giant shoes would return. He made a decision and began running toward the hulking Justin.

Joe ran until he was exhausted. Even small distances seemed so far for the extremely tiny young man. He walked up to one of Justin's mammoth legs and looked up at his intimidating friend. A devoted college athlete, Justin's physique was impressive. To Joe, he appeared as some sort of colossal God, instead of one of his drinking buddies. Joe noticed one of Justin's enormous hands resting on the ground and decided to cautiously approach the monstrosity.

Joe walked right up to one of Justin's gigantic fingers and reached out to touch it. Justin was preoccupied with talking to Tommy, who had returned from the car with more beers. Joe was mesmerized by the sheer size of Justin's hand. Without considering the consequences, Joe decided to crawl up into Justin's huge palm and try to get his attention. Just as he was about to climb one of Justin's monster-sized fingers, he was startled when someone called out his name.

"Hey Joe!" Zack called out from the edge of the gym bag pocket high above. After gagging on the nauseating foul smell of dirty, sweaty baseball gear seeping through the gym-bag, Zack had used all his strength to climb to the top of the side pocket and was precariously holding on to the edge when he looked down and noticed Joe next to Justin's monstrous hand. "What are you doing?"

"Oh Zack, you're alive! I thought your were a goner," Joe said with excitement and relief. "I am going to try and get Justin's attention."

"Man, I don't think that is a good idea at all," Zack yelled down at his shrunken buddy. "It's so dark out here, he might think you're a bug or something. Why don't you climb up here where I am."

"I don't think I can climb up there," Joe yelled up at Zack as he made his way over to the base of the gigantic gym-bag. "Why don't you come down here?"

"You can make it Joe," Zack tried to give Joe some confidence. "And if we are in the gym-bag, we can ride out of here with Tommy and Justin when they leave. So we won't be stranded in this God-awful place."

"Okay man, here I come," Joe said as he reluctantly began climbing the titanic gym-bag. "This is just beyond crazy."

About halfway up the gym-bag, Joe's climb was interrupted by powerful vibrations. He held on for dear life. Justin and Tommy were startled when a large pick-up drove up. A tall, husky man emerged from the truck and walked up to the young men.

"You kids shouldn't be out here," the man warned. "This is a very dangerous area!"

"We are just chillin out waiting on our friends," Tommy informed the man. "We ain't hurtin nothing."

"I'm serious. You guys pack it up now and take off or I'm calling the cops," the man said in a very serious tone. "This is not a good place to hang out."

"Okay, okay man, we're going," Justin replied as he shifted and reached over to grab his gym-bag. "Oh crap, there's a bug trying to crawl into my gym-bag."

Justin effortlessly swatted off his gym-bag what he thought was a tiny bug. Had he noticed where the bug had landed, he would have stomped it.

Justin was oblivious to the miniature screams of Zack and Joe as his massive hand sent Joe hurtling through the air. Luckily, Joe landed on a soft piece of moss next to a discarded beer can. Justin grabbed the gym-bag, causing tiny Zack to plummet back down into the deep dark, and foul smelling side pocket, unaware of the fate of his friend Joe.

"Well, I doubt the bug would live long in your gym bag," Tommy joked as he grabbed his own gym-bag. "I can even smell that nasty thing over here."

The man sneered unamused as he watched the two college guys walk back to their car. He then began walking over to where Joe had landed.

Just as Joe regained some composure from his terrifying flight through the air, he looked up in total horror as gigantic work-boots stomped their way in his direction. In a panic, he ran into the discarded beer can and trembled as the world around him shook. And then silence, followed by a horrible crunching noise. Joe feared he had made a ghastly mistake when he realized the giant was slowing crushing the aluminum can with his massive boot. As the can was compacted, Joe's faint screams went unnoticed by the giant.

Just as Joe thought the end was upon him, the crushing stopped. And the can was lifted high into the air. Joe was alive, but had no idea why or what was happening to him.

"And you kids take your trash with you," the man barked as he threw the half crushed can in their direction. Tommy caught the can in the air and threw it in the back seat of the car with all the other trash. The gruff man watched as the guys drove off. Zack lay exhausted in the side pocket of Justin's gym-bag, and Joe lay in the half-crushed beer can, passed out from the recent commotion.

"Let's go back to my apartment and call some friends," Tommy suggested to Justin. "Zack has my cell phone number. I'm sure those clowns will show up sooner or later."

"Sounds like a plan," Justin agreed as he turned and looked in the back seat at all the beer and smiled.

Part Eight

Tiny Joe could feel a steady, rumbling vibration from the car's engine as Tommy and Justin drove away from the abandoned lot.

Although his body felt bruised and ached in more than a dozen locations, tiny Joe knew he had been fortunate. He had almost been crushed inside the empty beer can that he was still inside. And he didn't like to think of how close and how often he had almost been stomped on.

He felt frustrated, too, that his reunion with Zack, shrunken like himself by the same strange substance they had encountered in the old lot, had been cut short. And because Justin had seen him and mistaken him for a bug.

He flashed back to the sight of massive Justin. In his colossal friend's enormous shadow, Joe had felt like a bug.

The tiny man curled up inside the half-crushed beer can and waited for the ride to end.

* * *

Zack tried to get comfortable in the pocket of Justin's gym bag. But the awful smell from his friend's sweaty clothes stung his eyes and filled his nostrils.

And he felt horrified by poor Joe's fate. His friend had been so close to joining him when Justin's huge hand had reached down and swatted Joe off the side of the gym bag.

Justin had thought Joe was a bug.

And, Zack realized, he would have to be careful or Justin or other giants would also mistake him for a bug.

The sight of Justin's enormous hand continued to haunt him. Justin hadn't expended any effort to swipe away tiny Joe like...like a bug.

Would that same huge hand eventually do the same to Zack?

He hoped Joe would be safe, but he didn't feel optimistic. They should have concentrated harder on staying together. One little guy alone didn't stand much of a chance in such a huge, dangerous world.

* * *

Tommy and Justin arrived at Tommy's apartment. The car's engine turned off, and the vibrations stopped. Both Joe and Zack, from their separate locations, became instantly alert.

Justin grabbed his gym bag. Zack felt a lurching motion as the bag swung through the air in Justin's huge hand. Zack looked up from the bottom of the pocket chamber on the side of the bag and saw his friend's huge upper body and head. Now was not the right moment, but soon he would have to take a chance at making contact with his titanic friend.

"I'm gonna toss some of this trash in the dumpster in the alley," Tommy said. He started to grab up some of the litter in the car's back seat.

Joe watched from inside the nearly crushed beer can. He saw Tommy's hand approach. "Tommy! Hey! Help me!" The tiny man yelled as loudly as he could.

But Tommy grabbed up the can and some other trash in one fist. His huge baseball cleats stomped over the asphalt as he walked toward a towering dumpster in the alley.

"No! What are you doing?" Joe screamed in terror. "Don't throw me in the trash! Help!"

The lurching motion knocked Joe off his feet. He tried to scramble back toward the can's open tab. But the ground was so fearfully far below.

But Tommy was now almost within reach of the huge, rust-covered dumpster.

Joe tried to decide whether he should risk a jump to possible safety before Tommy trashed him.

Part Nine

Joe slid back and forth within the boot-crunched beer can, screaming out for Tommy to hear him. Joe knew all too well that if Tommy tossed him into the dumpster, he would never survive. At his meager size, he would probably become a snack for some horrible creature. Joe tried to block out the memory of Zack's near demise from the clutches of the monster-sized dragonfly, but he could not.

Through the can's opening, Joe was horrified as he saw the foreboding opening to the dumpster rapidly approaching him. His friend Tommy, now an all-powerful giant, was about to dispose of him as trash. As Tommy lifted his handful of trash to the dumpster's open door, the beer can that held tiny Joe was tilted and Joe found himself sliding towards the open tab of the beer can. It was now or never. Joe mustered all his strength and courage, and jumped from the can.

* * *

Zack felt like throwing up as Justin lifted the gym-bag quickly into the air and carried it away with him. Zack looked up from within the side pocket of the gym-bag and saw Justin's face for just a split second. He yelled out for his friend, but then the gym-bag lurched again. Justin headed for the stairs that led to Tommy's second floor apartment.

"Hurry up slow-poke," Justin yelled to Tommy. "Stop worrying about the damn trash. Let's get the beer carried up to the apartment."

"Get J.T. and Dillon to help," Tommy yelled back. "They should be hanging out in the apartment."

Justin lugged the baseball gear into the apartment and found Tommy's roommates sitting on the floor in front of a big screen television playing some sort of fighting game on the X-box.

"Hey look, the baseball boys are home," Dillon greeted Justin mockingly. "I hope you guys bought plenty of beer."

"We've got a load of beer in the car," Justin replied as he threw his baseball cap at Dillon. "How about some help carrying it all up here?"

"No problem," J.T. said as he jumped up and hustled to the car. "Did you guys win tonight?"

J.T. rushed by Justin without waiting for an answer. He really didn't care anyway. J.T. cared nothing for baseball, but he would fake a faint interest just to make his friends happy. Dillon followed J.T. to the car while Justin threw the gym-bags in a corner of Tommy's room. Justin then kicked off his baseball cleats and set them next to his gym-bag. He proceeded to jump on the worn out but comfortable couch in the living room and waited for the guys to return with the beer.

* * *

Joe screamed as he fell like a sky-diver from the aluminum prison of the beer can. Fearing certain death from the incredible fall, Joe was surprised when he landed on something soft and blue. But then he fought to hang on as he began sliding down the blue material, and into some sort of cavernous opening. When he came to a stop, Joe realized he was secure within the front shirt pocket of his gigantic friend Tommy. As he looked up at his intimidating giant friend from within the pocket, Joe decided it would be in his best interest to be very still and quiet for the moment. He was petrified of what his colossal friend might do if he felt something moving around in his shirt pocket. He was still emotionally terrorized from the encounter with Justin's powerful jumbo-sized hand. Joe's dread changed to a morbid fascination when he realized he could hear and feel Tommy's mammoth heartbeat. Suddenly, he felt safe, if only for the moment.

"Come help us with the beer," Dillon said to Tommy as he approached the car. "Why are you guys driving Zack's car?"

"It's a long story," Tommy replied with a sigh as he reached for one of the cases of beer. "I think Zack and Joe will end up here sometime tonight. Those guys are probably up to something if you ask me."

"Try down here in your pocket, you freaking giant," Joe thought to himself and laughed at the surreal circumstances he found himself in. "You guys go ahead, don't mind me. I'll just hang out in here for a while."

* * *

Zack really needed to get out of the putrid smelling gym-bag. Tiny Zack crawled up the side pocket and was awe-struck as he looked out into the vast expanse of Tommy's bedroom. From the open door that led to the living room, all Zack saw were two gargantuan white socked feet resting on the edge of the couch. He had always joked about how big Justin's feet were, but now they appeared frightfully large, even from a room away. Zack knew he had to keep his distance from those monsters.

Zack was startled when he looked down and saw Justin's enormous baseball cleats sitting next to the gym-bag. All he could do was stare at the massive building like shoes for several minutes. Then Zack began the daunting task of climbing down the enormous gym-bag, careful to avoid the colossal sized baseball shoes at any cost. Zack had no intention of falling into the vast, deep cavern of one of those whopping things. He knew there would be no exit. Zack continued his very careful climb down the enormous gym-bag.

Part Ten

Tommy began to relax on the comfortable sofa, as he talked with his friends, J.T. and Dillon. He reclined on the sofa cushions and enjoyed another can of beer.

"So, where's Joe?" J.T. asked.

"I don't know," Tommy answered. "He and Zack just disappeared. They were supposed to meet us after the game."

"Too bad," J.T. said.

* * *

With Tommy's body reclining at an angle on the sofa cushion, Joe found it possible to climb from the depths of his friend's shirt pocket. But he was slightly hesitant about exposing his tiny body to possible scrutiny by his giant friends. What if they mistook him for some kind of bug? A casual swipe of a hand could mean disaster for shrunken Joe.

* * *

At the same time, in the much quieter bedroom, Zack was trying to make his way off the enormous gym-bag and onto the carpeted floor.

He wasn't quite certain what he would do once he was free to roam through his friends' apartment. He could approach Justin — and those enormous socked white feet — and seek some assistance. Surely, now that he was in a well-lit apartment, he could contact his giant friends and get them to help him.

Maybe there would still be time for one of his giant friends to go back to the parking lot and search for Joe. Zack hoped his friend, who had also had the misfortune of being shrunk to the size of a bug, was still all right.

He had no way of knowing that Joe hadn't been left behind at the old lot.

* * *

In the living room, J.T. indulged in one of his favorite activities — getting on the nerves of his friends. The slim blond guy's green eyes sparkled as he looked across the room at his much larger, more muscular friend.

"Whoa, Justin!" J.T. said. "Maybe you should change those socks, you think? That's a damn strong foot odor."

Justin, trying to watch television, scowled. "Lay off," he snapped. "I can't hear."

J.T. nudged Dillon. "We may have to open a window for some fresh air," he said.

Dillon laughed, and Justin scowled again, but he got to his feet. "Fine," he grumbled.

Justin walked toward his bedroom to fetch a fresh pair of socks.

* * *

Tommy was the only guy not to get involved in the exchange over Justin's smelly socked feet. He was relaxing, completely unaware of his tiny friend Joe peering from the edge of his pocket.

His stomach rumbled. "Hey, there any chips or something to eat?"

"Yeah," Dillon told him. "There's plenty of stuff in the kitchen, so just get off your butt and get something."

* * *

Zack had almost descended halfway to the floor from the gym-bag when Justin's enormous socked feet stomped back into the room. Zack, completely alarmed by the sudden arrival of the giant, lost his balance and fell.

He fell right into one of Justin's enormous baseball cleats.

"No!" Zack screamed when he realized how he had tumbled into his worst nightmare. The stench in the baseball cleat was unbelievable.

He tried to look for Justin. He could hear Justin moving around in the bedroom.

Suddenly, he saw Justin looming overhead. He had something in his hands. Something that he let fall — right into the baseball cleat.

* * *

Justin had changed into some fresh socks. He simply dumped the sweat-soaked socks directly into his baseball cleats on the floor next to his gym-bag.

As Justin emerged from the bedroom, he nearly bumped into Tommy, who was returning from the kitchen with a bag of chips and a bowl of hot salsa.

"Mmm, snacks!" Justin said.

Part Eleven

"Hey Justin, down here. It's me, Zack," Zack screamed as loud as he could from the deep confines of Justin's heavily abused worn out baseball cleats. Zack gasped in total disbelief as his colossal friend bent down and towered over him. "Justin, you gotta help me, please!"

Justin was unaware of the faint screams of his desperate friend trapped inside one of his baseball cleats just below him. Had he just glanced down, he would have noticed his miniature friend trying with all his might to get his attention.

Tiny Zack was shocked and confused as he noticed his mountainous friend lift something enormous and white just above him. Just as the titanic white mass was casually dropped on top of him, Zack was horrified as he realized it was one of Justin's gigantic socks. Zack was pummeled by the gigantic disgusting sock. He was forced on his back as the thick fabric encased and trapped him. Trapped under his gigantic friend's huge sock, Zack could hardly breath or move, and everything was pitch black.

* * *

Joe held on tightly from the edge of the Tommy's pocket and surveyed his surroundings. Joe had spent many a drunken night in this apartment playing cards and X-Box games with his friends. He was relieved to be in such a familiar place, even though now the size was breathtaking. The living room was barren with the exception of the old couch, a giant screen television, and a small aquarium that sat in a corner on the floor. Joe looked up at Tommy and then peered over at Dillon and J.T. They were all incredibly gigantic. But they were also his best friends in the whole world. If he could somehow make contact, he had no doubt they would do anything to help him.

Suddenly, Joe found himself holding on for dear life as Tommy jumped up from the couch to go grab something to eat from the kitchen. Joe didn't want to get trapped inside Tommy's huge pocket again but he sure didn't want to fall to the floor and immediate death either. Before going to the kitchen, Tommy made a brief stop at the small aquarium. The top was covered with wire mesh. Tommy leaned over and peered inside.

"Hey Dillon, your lizards look hungry," Tommy remarked. "Have you fed them today?"

"Nah, I'll feed em later," Dillon replied with disinterest. "Don't worry about it."

"I don't know why you got those damn lizards anyway," J.T. said. "They are mean as hell and you're always neglecting them."

* * *

Joe looked down in horror as Tommy leaned over the aquarium to check out the lizards. The same lizards that Joe use to tease and torment now appeared to him as prehistoric dinosaurs. Joe was relieved when Tommy walked away.

Tommy headed to the kitchen with his bug-sized stowaway and proceeded to gather some snacks. He grabbed a large bag of potato chips from a cabinet and took a jar of mega-hot salsa from the fridge. He poured the salsa into a bowl and headed back to the living room. Just as he reached the living room he almost ran into Justin, and just avoided spilling the salsa on the floor.

"Hey watch out," Tommy said.

"Sorry man," Justin replied as he reached over and grabbed one of the potato chips. "Mmm, snacks."

* * *

When Tommy almost bumped into Justin, tiny Joe lost his grip on the edge of Tommy's pocket and fell. The giants failed to notice the tiny figure flailing through the air. Joe fell with a tiny plop right into the bowl of salsa Tommy was holding. Joe was glad to be alive, but was horrified as he found himself in the direct center of the gargantuan bowl of salsa. He tried to swim to the edge, but the mixture was too dense and chunky. He was at least thankful that he remained afloat. Joe looked up and screamed to his enormous friends, but his meager voice was just too faint for the giants' ears. Joe began to get very frightened as he realized this was not the best place to be. The thought of being accidentally eaten by one of his giant friends repulsed the shrunken man.

Tommy set the chips and bowl of salsa on the floor, and sat back down on the sofa and grabbed a beer. Dillon reached into the bag and took out a chip and proceeded to dip it in the hot salsa, oblivious to the extremely tiny figure flailing within the bowl.

* * *

The damp, putrid smell of Justin's sock was overpowering to tiny Zack. He had to somehow escape but the sock seemed to surround him in all directions. He turned over on his stomach and tried to crawl. To his relief, he found he was able to move. He crawled with all his might, not even sure which direction he was going.

After a lot of effort, Zack was free of the horrible sock, but he was still trapped inside the colossal shoe. Zack was surprised to see a small speck of light beaming from what he gathered to be the toe area of the baseball shoe. It was a very tiny hole in the toe of Justin's shoe. Zack ran to the light with great excitement, and proceeded to squeeze through the tiny opening. It was a tight squeeze, but Zack slid right through and fell to the bedroom floor. He was free.

Zack looked around at the truly gigantic features of Tommy's bedroom. Mountainous piles of dirty clothes littered the floor, and a baseball bat leaning on one of the walls extended to the sky like a mighty skyscraper. Zack could hear the thundering voices of his friends in the other room and began heading that way. The carpeting made for a difficult journey.

On the way, Zack was amazed when he came across a huge shiny metal object. As he got closer to investigate, he was astounded to realize it was simply a dime. He jumped on top of the metal disk and laid down. Zack was truly unnerved as he realized the dime was slightly bigger than him. He knew he was small, but now he knew just how small. He was desperate to make contact with one of his giant friends, but realized at his size, one of them could simply crush him with one of their enormous fingers. Zack continued his journey to the booming voices of his friends in the living room with just a bit more anxiety than before.

Part Twelve

A huge chip held in Tommy's gigantic hand plunged toward the bowl of salsa that also held a tiny, struggling form.

The huge irregular shaped chip impacted with the salsa, smacking into tiny Joe and pushing him beneath the surface of the chunky concoction. The hot juices of the onions and peppers in the salsa stung the tiny man's eyes as he fought desperately to regain the surface. He broke through and took in gasps of air. He managed to clear his eyes only to focus on the sight of Tommy munching on the salsa-laden chip.

"Tommy! My God! Hear me! Please. Help me!" Joe screamed.

"Hey, share some of that!" Dillon said in a loud voice. He took a chip in his hand and reached it toward the bowl.

"No!" Joe shouted. He tried to slosh out of the way.

Dillon scooped up a generous amount of salsa, but missed tiny Joe.

Joe had no time to relax, however, before he saw Tommy's hand and another giant chip heading toward him.

Tommy's hand slid the chip into the chunky salsa and hesitated. Joe was able to look out at his powerful friend. Tommy's muscular chest and shoulders were outlined beneath his T-shirt. His huge face looked like some enormous monument from ancient history.

For a brief instant, Joe thought he had been spotted by his friend.

But then the chip plowed through the salsa, scooping up salsa and Joe.

Joe felt rapid motion as he was lifted, along with the salsa-covered chip, by his titanic friend.

The chip was moved toward Tommy's open mouth, which looked like an ominous cavern edged with two rows of white teeth larger than Joe's tiny body.

Just as he was directing the chip into his mouth, Dillon made a silly comment.

Tommy, laughing, sprayed tiny bits of chips all over Joe and the uneaten salsa and chip.

Joe waved his arms and screamed. "Stop! Don't eat me! Please!"

When Tommy stopped laughing, he pushed the chip closer to his mouth. But, just as he prepared to munch down, the chip snapped in half. Joe felt a sickening sensation as he went into freefall.

* * *

Zack made a cautious advance into the living room. His colossal friends lounged about, enjoying their beers and a snack of chips and salsa. Zack's own stomach rumbled, reminding him that he hadn't had any food in quite a while.

Suddenly, Zack stopped, paralyzed with alarm, when he heard Tommy curse loudly. He looked toward the massive giant.

Tommy's chip had broke in half, spilling a blot of salsa on the giant's T-shirt. Tommy cursed and brushed at the salsa with his hand.

A few chunks of tomato fell from his shirt to the carpet, but a red stain remained behind on the shirt.

Zack, watching, could not nothing but stare in shock. He watched the chunks of tomato hit the carpet in front of the sofa— and then he saw something move.

"Oh my God!" Zack cried out. "Joe! Joe!"

* * *

Joe was certain that the fall would kill him, but his tiny size combined with the relatively soft carpet to cushion his impact. The worst that happened was that he was forced to rest, stunned from his fall, while he tried to catch his breath.

That's when he heard someone shouting his name. He turned and saw Zack sprinting across the carpet toward him.

"Joe! You're alive!" Zack was shouting.

However, before the two tiny friends could be reunited, J.T. had risen from his seat. The giant's sneakers slammed down on the carpet almost directly between the two tiny men.

Thoughts of each other were momentarily forgotten as Joe and Zack were forced to think of self-preservation as each tiny man scrambled to find protection from J.T.'s enormous and threatening sneakers.

Part Thirteen

Joe screamed in horror as one of J.T.'s gigantic Vans skater sneakers landed right next to him, cutting short the reunion with his buddy Zack. The powerful impact of the sneaker caused the ground beneath Joe to shake, knocking him to his butt. He quickly got up and ran for his life, realizing how close he had just become to be squashed under one of his buddy's titanic shoes.

"No, J.T. don't," Zack screamed at his colossal friend that was about to pulverize Joe underneath one of his massive sneakers. When Zack realized J.T.'s other sneaker was about to land extremely near him, he turned and ran for safety. Zack saw that Joe had avoided J.T.'s menacing sneakers and was running to the far corner of the room. He ran after Joe. "Hey Joe, wait for me."

Joe ran over to the glass tank in the far corner of the room and stopped, exhausted. Zack caught up with his friend a few minutes later.

"Joe, I can't believe you are alive," Zack greeted Joe, trying to catch his breath. "What in the hell happened to you?"

"Oh Zack, am I glad to see you," Joe said with relief. "You are not going to believe this. I was in Tommy's shirt pocket, and I freakin fell in some salsa. Tommy almost ate me."

"Oh God, you've got to be kidding," Zack replied, trying to hold back his amusement, but then burst out in laughter. "You would have probably given him heartburn anyway."

"That's not funny," Joe said giving Zack a playful punch in the arm, but then also began laughing when he thought of the total absurdity of the situation. "If we get back to normal, I'm going to kick those guys asses!"

"Why don't you go over there and do it now big shot?" Zack challenged as he and Joe looked over at their gargantuan friends. "I'll even give you a hand. You take the big one."

Joe just laughed. Suddenly a powerful thud from within the glass tank next to them startled the two shrunken men. One of the tanks hungry inhabitants had mistaken the two tiny men for small prey. The ferocious lizard had jumped at Zack and Joe but was stopped cold by the clear glass wall of the tank. Another lizard followed behind the first and both monsters glared at the tiny men.

"Oh my God, look at Dillon's lizards," Zack exclaimed with shock. "They're as big as dinosaurs."

"Well, look at the big stupid lizards," Joe began taunting the enormous reptiles. He walked up and pounded the glass. "Big stupid lizards trapped in a cage, so sad."

"Joe, stop it right now," Zack pleaded with concern. "Those monsters are gigantic. They could eat one of us with one bite."

"Chill out," Joe replied. "They can't get outta there."

The hungry monster sized lizards just waited silently, their eyes fixed to the tasty looking prey just outside of their reach.

"Somehow, we have got to get the guys' attention," Zack said to Joe. "Got any ideas?"

"Hey, let's walk over in front of the big screen," Joe replied. "One of them should look down and see us sooner or later, and we'll be safe from getting stomped on."

"That's a great idea," Zack responded with enthusiasm. "Come on, let's head over there. I'm ready to get away from these god-awful lizards anyway."

Joe turned and gave the lizards the middle finger, and the guys began their journey across the vast living room.

* * *

"Anyone for another?" J.T. asked as he returned with a handful of beers. He handed a beer to Tommy, Dillon and Justin. "Plenty more where that came from, so drink up guys."

Justin was channel surfing aimlessly with the remote. He stopped on the Scifi channel momentarily. Ironically it was airing the movie, "The Incredible Shrinking Man". It was at the part of the movie where the shrunken man was battling the spider.

"Hey, it's that shrinking man movie," Dillon exclaimed. "Leave it there!"

"That is just ridiculous," Tommy replied. "And it's in freakin black and white. Just turn it to ESPN."

Justin complied. He turned it to ESPN where Sportscenter had just come on.

"I think I'm getting a major buzz," J.T. informed his buddies as he lazily stretched his arms.

"Oh crap, I see some bugs over there next to the T.V." Tommy said with disgust. "J.T., go over there and step on them or something."

Part Fourteen

Joe and Zack had reached what they had hoped might be a degree of safety in front of the television. The TV's screen looked like some unimaginably huge screen from some colossal drive-in movie.

In the harsh glare from the screen, though, the tiny men were actually more conspicuous than ever.

They realized their mistake when Tommy saw them and instantly identified them as pests.

Their giant friend commented on the bugs and suggested lazily to J.T. that he stomp on the little bugs.

J.T., feeling the buzz from his beers, staggered to his feet.

"Oh crap!" Joe screamed. "We gotta get the hell out of here."

Through bleary eyes, J.T. scanned the floor in front of the television. "Where did they go? I don't see any damn bugs?"

Zack joined Joe in running blindly, hoping for some sort of shelter or protection.

J.T.s huge Vans skater sneakers stomped on the floor as he swayed with each step that brought him closer to the television and his shrunken friends.

"We're gonna die!" Joe screamed in terror of his titanic friend who loomed over him like some destructive god.

"J.T., just stomp the bugs and get it over with!" Tommy complained loudly.

Zack grabbed Joe by the arm. "Follow me," he screamed. He led his friend beneath a wide ledge into the dark cavern beneath the television and the floor. Even as small as they were, the narrow crevice felt cramped.

But they were safe from J.T.'s huge sneakers — for the moment. They could peer out and see his giant Vans skate sneakers still standing very close.

"That was too close!" Joe exclaimed, panting and trying to calm his racing heart.

Zack's own chest heaved as he drew in deep breaths of air. "We're gonna get killed if we don't get one of those guys to notice us!"

"They thought we were bugs," Joe said in horror. "They were gonna stomp us like bugs!"

The two tiny men trembled as the reality of their nightmarish situation began to force itself upon their worried minds.

* * *

J.T. complained that the little bugs had disappeared.

Dillon, Tommy and Justin, however, paid him little attention. The three jocks tried to focus their attention on "Sportscenter."

"Just get out from in front of the damn television," Justin ordered. "We can't see!"

Instead of returning to the sofa, however, J.T. wandered over to the cage that held Dillon's pet lizards.

Removing the screen, he lifted one of the lizards from the cage. "He looks hungry," J.T. remarked. He put the lizard down on the floor. "I'm sure this guy can sniff out those pesky bugs!"

The lizard flicked a forked tongue out of its jaws and tested the air. A dim memory still existed in its primitive brain...a memory of the small creatures the lizard had attempted to seize earlier only to be stopped by the transparent walls of its cage.

Part Fifteen

Joe and Zack watched in horror from their cramped cave-like sanctuary just beneath the big screen as J.T. released the hideous dragon-like beast. Luckily, it scurried across the living room floor in the opposite direction of the two tiny cowering young men.

"Oh my God, J.T. let that monster loose in the room," Zack burst out in a panic. "That horrible thing will eat us both."

"No, you stupid lizard. They are over here," J.T. exclaimed with frustration as he walked over and and started to slap the floor in front of the big screen T.V. "Damn, Dillon, why are your lizards so damn stupid? Maybe I can just get em myself."

J.T. reached under the televison and began to feel around for the small "bugs" that had gotten away. It was a tight squeeze for his big hand. He moved his hand all around, patting the floor with his fingers, coming ever so close to his tiny friends. "Hey, what's this?"

Zack and Joe watched with dread as J.T.'s gigantic hand moved about all around them. At their meager size, just one gentle swat from J.T. would mean an instant crushing death. Joe screamed as the colossal hand passed right over them, one of J.T.'s mammoth fingers tapping the floor dangerously close to them. Just when the shrunken men thought J.T.'s searching hand had passed on, it swept back directly on top of them and hovered. Then it slowly descended. J.T. had felt the unusual crevice and decided to investigate. Joe and Zack huddled as far back as possible as they watched with terror as J.T. began to probe the crevice with his massive thumb and forefinger. The small area was too small for J.T.'s fingers, but he effortlessly expanded the area as his fingers pushed their way in, closer to tiny Joe and Zack.

Suddenly, J.T.'s fingers brushed against Joe and he pinched his thumb and forefinger together. J.T. had gently grabbed a hold of Joe's tiny foot. If J.T. exerted any more pressure, Joe's foot would have been crushed.

"Gotcha!" J.T. exclaimed as he began to pull Joe from underneath the television.

"No!" Zack screamed as he grabbed Joe's hands in a futile attempt at preventing his friend's capture. He was just pulled along with Joe. And, suddenly, Joe was released. Joe and Zack ran as fast as they could to the back of the television and the wall. They wanted to get as far away from the menacing J.T. as possible.

"Get the hell out of the way," Justin yelled as he threw a nerf football at J.T. "I can't see the show!" The jolt caused J.T. to release the small creature he had trapped between his fingers.

"Geeze, Justin, whatta have to do that for?" J.T. replied angrily. "I had just caught one of those damn bugs."

"Forget about the bugs J.T." Dillon chimed in as he sprawled out on the living room floor, exhausted and heavily buzzed. "My lizard will take care of those things, eventually."

"Yeah, just have another beer," Justin said apologetically. "Man, I'm getting tired. I'm about ready to crash. I wonder where the hell Joe and Zack are?"

"If they don't show up by morning, we'll start looking for them," Tommy said with a yawn, having just downed his tenth beer. He took a throw pillow from the couch and also laid down on the floor. Justin took the advantage of having the couch to himself and comfortably laid back, eyes heavy, still trying to catch the finish of Sportscenter.

"You guys can't crash yet," J.T. told the guys. "It's only two a.m." But within a couple minutes, J.T. also found himself finding a comfortable spot to crash, next to the couch.

Tiny Zack and Joe walked out from underneath the big screen television, staying as close to the wall as possible. They watched in silent awe at their humongous friends in the center of the vast living room, and contemplated their next move. The horrible monster-sized reptile was nowhere to be found, but they knew it was on the loose.

"The guys are starting to crash," Zack said. "Let's head over there."

"And do what?" Joe replied with surprise. "I think we should stay away from them."

"Those guys are dead to the world," Zack reasoned. "We will be safe until morning. But we have got to figure out a way to get them to notice us when they wake up."

"I guess you're right," Joe consented. "Let's head over there to Dillon. And watch out for that freaking lizard."

The bug-sized guys began their walk across the living room. As they got closer to a passed out Dillon, they were startled by a thunderous roar. Tommy had begun to snore. To Zack and Joe's tiny size, the sound was incredible. The shrunken young men cautiously wondered up to their sleeping friend, and stopped at his mammoth hand. Zack gasped. "Look at Dillon's hand. It's enormous!" Zack reached out and touched the magnificent object. And then to Joe's surprise, Zack began to climb up into Dillon's monstrous hand. He headed directly for the center of Dillon's palm.

"What the hell are you doing?" Joe reacted with fear and dread. "Get down from there before something horrible happens."

"This is freaking incredible!" Zack yelled, and lifted his tiny arms high in the air. "I'm king of the world!"

"Yeah, you're king bug," Joe replied as he reluctantly began to climb into Dillon's enormous hand. "Oh Yuck, it's all sweaty and mushy feeling. Come on Zack, let's get down from here. It's too dangerous."

"Stop worrying, Dillon is fast asleep," Zack told Joe, as he began to jump up and down on the spongy, almost trampoline-like surface of Dillon's hand. "You see."

Suddenly, to Zack and Joe's horror, Dillon's massive fingers began to close around the tiny men. Zack's jumping must have triggered a reflex action within Dillon's hand.

Part Sixteen

Zack and Joe screamed as the massive fingers began to curl around them.

"Run!" Joe screamed in a strangled cry.

They didn't get far before Dillon's massive fist closed loosely around them.

After the sudden action, however, the clenching of Dillon's fist paused midway.

"Now!" Zack yelled. "We have to get out now!"

Zack struggled to climb between two of his friend's massive fingers. Joe followed him.

"Give me a hand," Joe pleaded.

After escaping Dillon's fist, Zack stood on the side of his enormous friend's hand. He reached down and helped pull Joe through the gap in Dillon's fingers.

Having escaped from Dillon's fist, the two tiny men dropped to the floor.

"We have to be more careful!" Joe exclaimed.

"We're not hurt," Zack replied.

"That's not the point!" Joe snapped. "Do you want to end up squished like a bug? And no one will ever know what happened to us!"

"Of course not," Zack said, abashed by his friend's remarks and still shaken by the close call in Dillon's fist. Still, being somewhat of an adrenaline junkie, Zack had enjoyed the elation that surged through his tiny body as a result of nearly being crushed in the giant fist of his sleeping colossal friend.

"We have got to find a way to get the guys to help us," Joe said.

"If we could find a way to reach higher ground, maybe they would notice us. If we could climb onto the kitchen counter or something like that," Zack reasoned.

"It would be like scaling a cliff," Joe said in defeat.

"Maybe not," Zack said. "If we can find a power cord or something, we could climb that..."

Joe still looked doubtful, but he also remained desperate. He agreed to give Zack's suggestion an attempt.

The two tiny men headed toward the kitchen.

* * *

Tommy woke during the night. After a trip to the bathroom, the jock stripped down to his undershorts and decided to stop by the kitchen for a glass of water before going back to sleep.

He walked over to the sink, took a glass from the cabinet and filled it with water from the tap.

He was still somewhat groggy from sleep and hadn't shaken off the effects of all the beers from earlier.

The giant scratched his bare stomach and yawned.

* * *

Joe and Zack found travel easier on the old, well-worn linoleum covering the kitchen floor. They stood in front of the kitchen sink and cabinets and stared up at the distant countertop.

"We'll never get up there!" Joe groaned. He felt even smaller and more insignicant in the shadow of the colossal kitchen appliances and cabinets.

"We won't if we don't try to—" Zack replied, but his words choked off suddenly when he and Joe heard the slap of huge bare feet on linoleum.

They looked up in unison and screamed at the sight of their titanic friend. Tommy, huge, powerful and muscular, clad only in his shorts, walked directly toward them.

Zack felt a surge of electric energy overload his tiny body as he gazed up in absolute awe at his overwhelming friend. Only Joe's wailing that they would be crushed finally brought Zack to his senses.

His delay, however, had proved costly. Tommy was nearly upon them.

"Tommy, man!" Joe screamed in terror. "Down here! On the floor! Please, don't step on us!"

Part Seventeen

Joe ran for his life but all Zack could do was stare in awe as the spectacular foot half the size of a football field made its last stomp through the dim-lit kitchen and landed with a powerful quake right in front of him. Zack had just come dangerously close to becoming an insignificant smear on the bottom of Tommy's mammoth foot. Zack's heart was beating a mile a minute and adrenaline was surging throughout his entire body as he strained his neck and looked up at the most surreal and astonishing sight he had ever seen. Tommy was huge; about 800 feet tall compared to shrunken Zack. Joe was freaking out as he pleaded for Zack to get away from Tommy's monstrous feet.

"Zack, get away from there, fast!" Joe screamed as he watched he friend nearly get squashed to a pulp. "You're going to get stepped on!"

Zack ignored Joe and as he looked up at his mountain sized buddy and yelled," Hey Tommy, look down here. It's me, Zack."

But Zack was just too small to be heard by his gigantic friend Tommy. Suddenly Tommy shifted his foot slightly, barely brushing against tiny Zack. The powerful force knocked Zack flat. He felt like he had just been hit by a car. Joe ran over to Zack, grabbed his arm, and quickly pulled him to safety next to the wall by the sink. Joe shivered as he watched Tommy's intimidating feet shift randomly about as he gulped the glass of water.

"Thanks, Joe. That was close," Zack said with appreciation. "I yelled as loud as I could, but Tommy still could not hear me. I guess we are just too damn small."

"We've got to be more careful or we are going to get stepped on," Joe said to Zack, failing to notice a green flash scurry across the kitchen floor headed right for them. "What the hell were you thinking anyway? Tommy could have obliterated you."

* * *

Dillon's hungry lizard prowled about the apartment and finally made its way into the kitchen. The savage reptile spied motion near the sink and streaked across the kitchen floor toward the small prey, fearless of the giant human in the same vicinity. As the lizard approached tiny Zack and Joe, it opened it's mouth wide in anticipation. Each small prey would be quickly consumed with one bite.

* * *

Joe looked up in horror as the giant reptile eight times his size quickly approached, mouth wide open. Without any time for escape, he just closed his eyes and screamed, realizing he and Zack would probably be consumed in one or two bites. Suddenly, a deafening thud shook the room. Joe opened his eyes and found himself covered with a horrible, sticky, green goo.

* * *

"Oh, YUCK!" Tommy exclaimed with disgust as he felt something cold and wet under his bare foot. He lifted his foot and saw what remained of the flattened lizard sticking to his foot. "Damn lizard! I guess you won't be bothering anyone anymore." Tommy chucked to himself as he took a paper towel and wiped the disgusting remains from his foot.

* * *

"Damn, that was close!" Zack said with relief after he had just watched Tommy accidentally dispose of the monster that was just about to eat him. "Help me get Tommy's attention before he leaves."

The two shrunken college guys began waving their arms and yelling at Tommy to notice them, but he just walked back to the living room, oblivious to their faint voices. He hit the floor and was almost instantly asleep.

"We're never going to be able to climb anything in here," Joe said. "We are going to have to go back to the living room and find a way to get the guys attention when they wake up."

"Okay, you're right. Let's go," Zack replied. "But man, I'm exhausted. We need to get some rest too."

"We'll find a safe place in the living room to rest," Joe agreed.

Zack and Joe made their way to the door that led to the living room and began the daunting task of traversing the carpeted floor. The two exhausted shrunken men headed for the couch as the four giants slept.

"I can't go any farther," Zack said as he and Joe stopped to rest next to an empty Bud Lite can laying on its side. "I need some sleep."

"We can take a snooze in there," Joe said pointing to the opening of the beer can. "It should be safe."

The two tiny college guys cautiously entered the house-sized beer can. Within minutes, they were fast asleep.

* * *

Justin stretched as he was awakened from the morning sun shining through the living room window. He headed for the bathroom. Moments later, he returned with some sneakers and a basketball. He quietly snuck up close to Tommy, grabbed his arm and yelled into his ear. "Hey Tommy, lets shoot some hoops!"

"You freaking jerk. Don't ever do that to me again!" Tommy angrily said as he was startled awake from a deep sleep. After a few minutes trying to wake up, Tommy said, "Go ahead, I'll be out there in a minute."

Part Eighteen

Justin slipped on a pair of hightops, patted his pocket for his chewing tobacco, headed for the door and hesitated for a moment. He quickly scanned the living room. Justin walked over and grabbed an empty beer can to use for a spit-can, and headed out for the apartment's small basketball court.

* * *

Tiny Zack and Joe clutched each other in terror as they were flung about within the empty beer can.

"We've got to get out of here," Joe yelled. "Help! Let us out!"

Both shrunken men feared the can was destined for the trash. After a terrifying few seconds, however, the tumult ceased after Justin placed the empty can on the ledge of a concrete wall adjacent to the apartment complex basketball court.

* * *

Zack and Joe took advantage of the moment to pound feebly against the walls of their aluminum prison. Their teeny shouts did not even carry beyond the can.

Justin began to dribble a basketball as he waited impatiently for Tommy's arrival. When Tommy still didn't appear, he let the ball drop onto the court as he reached into his pocket.

Justin pulled out some of his chewing tobacco. For a moment, he was glad Joe and Zack were not around. They both hated his chewing habit and gave him constant grief about it.

Inside the can, the two tiny men stared up through the open tab. They could see an enormous basketball goal towering over them.

"We must be outside the apartment!" Zack shouted.

"What's going on?" Joe cried. "Who carried us outside?"

* * *

Suddenly, Joe's question was answered when an enormous Justin came into view. Both tiny men began shouting desperately as their colossal friend hovered over the open beer can.

"Oh my God! What's he doing?" Joe screamed as he saw the giant jock's enormous mouth approach the opening of the can.

Zack's mind was close to the answer. He knew that Justin's features warned him of something.

And then, recognizing what was about to happen, Zack screamed.

Justin's mouth loomed directly over the can. Then, his lips parted and he spewed out what seemed an incredible volume of tobacco spit. The two shrunken friends were coated by the revolting liquid. Choking and gasping for breath, they tried to wipe the stinging liquid from their eyes.

"Hey, man! Ready to play?"

The tiny men recognized Tommy's voice.

"Tommy, man!" Joe screamed. "Help! Get us out of here."

Justin picked up the basketball. It would have resembled the Epcot globe at Disney to the two shrunken men.

He tossed the ball to Tommy. "Sure. Give me just a sec."

He leaned over and spit into the can again.

As the two giants began to play basketball, their friends, less than half an inch tall, tried to wade in the disgusting tobacco juice deposited inside the can.

Part Nineteen

The nauseating liquid reached just higher than waist level of Joe and Zack. Moving through Justin's thick, mucky tobacco spit was nearly impossible. The tiny men gagged on the overwhelming fumes as they heard thunderous pounding and stomping from their gigantic friends outside the beer can prison.

"We've got to get out of here," Zack screamed as he continued to wipe Justin's disgusting tobacco spit from his face. "If Justin spits one more time, this crap will be over our heads."

"What can we do?" Joe replied in near panic as he began to pound on the side of the can with his tiny fist. "Help us, please someone help us!"

* * *

Justin and Tommy had engaged in an intense game of one on one. Even though baseball was their game, the two gifted athletes were quite good in all sports, and very competitive. Justin's hightops pounded the court hard with each step and jump.

Justin took the ball and powerfully headed to the basket for a layup. Tommy jumped up in front and made an incredible block, swatting the ball away just as it left Justin's hands.

"We'll have none of that," Tommy taunted proudly as the basketball veered towards the concrete bench and the beer can that held shrunken Zack and Joe. The basketball bounced several times across the court, and eventually bounced onto the concrete bench. It crashed into the beer can, knocking it to the ground.

"Whatever," Justin replied with a laugh as he ran to retrieve the runaway basketball.

* * *

Suddenly, Zack and Joe were jolted violently as the colossal basketball crashed into the beer can. The can was knocked from the concrete bench and landed on its side on the ground below. Ironically, the thick, horrid tobacco spit had probably saved their lives by preventing them from crashing around inside the can during the traumatic fall. Shaken, but unharmed, Zack and Joe realized escape from the hellish beer can was within their grasps.

"Hurry. Let's get the hell out of here," Zack screamed as he and Joe headed for the opening of the beer can. Within seconds, the bug-sized college guys were free from their latest horror.

"Oh God!" Joe screamed when he saw what awaited them outside the beer can. He stood, mouth wide open, frozen with fear. "He's humongous!"

Joe and Zack looked on in awe and amazement as their imposing friend stood in front of them. One of his mammoth basketball shoes could easily wipe out their meager existence with one powerful stomp. His massive body seemed to extend endlessly into the morning sky.

"He is freaking huge!" Zack agreed as adrenaline rushed through his tiny tobacco stained body. He looked up at his mountain sized friend and screamed with all his might. "Justin, HELP us, we are down here. Look down here!"

* * *

"Crap," Justin exclaimed as he noticed the ball had knocked over his spit can, spilling the contents. He quickly reached down and grabbed the can, setting it back on the concrete bench. As he reached for the can, he noticed a couple of weird looking bugs, but didn't think much of it. He removed his sweat soaked shirt and tossed it aside. He then sat on the concrete wall for a quick break. He looked down between his legs and noticed the unusual "bugs" again. They looked extremely tiny next to his massive sneakers. Just for fun, Justin lifted one of his gigantic sneakers and pounded it down right next to the curious little bugs. As they scurried the opposite direction of the king-sized sneaker, Justin let his other shoe crash down on the other side, blocking their escape route. He let out a little chuckle. Justin then hacked up a giant loogie and let it fly right down on what he thought were some weird bugs. Then he jumped up and resumed his game with Tommy.

* * *

"Oh no, he's going to step on us!" Joe screamed as the monster sized basketball sneaker lifted and stomped right next to him and Zack with a thundering force. Joe and Zack ran from their giant friend's huge foot, but the other one slammed down, blocking their path.

"Justin, what are you doing?" Zack screamed up in a panic at Justin. "It's me and Joe. Don't you recognize us?"

Just then, tiny Joe and Zack were engulfed in a giant lake-sized loogie directly from the pit of Justin's monstrous mouth. The gooey, sticky phlegm stuck to their little bodies like glue. It was the ultimate humiliation.

"If we ever return to normal size, I'm going to kick his ass!" Zack exploded with anger as he tried to wipe the offensive mucus from his face. "YUCK, YUCK, YUCK!"

"Come on. We've got to get off this court before we get stomped on," Joe said to Zack as he too tried to wipe off Justin's gooey spit. "Let's head over for that bit of grass so we can think of what to do next. We'll be safe there."

Between the tree like stalks of grass, tiny Zack and Joe watched in complete amazement as their giant friends played basketball.

"Those guys are monsters," Joe said, cowering behind a stalk of grass. "How are we going to get those giants to notice us?"

"Next time, we'll try to get help from Tommy," Zack replied, still peeved. "Justin is just too stupid. I can't believe that bum didn't recognize us."

Joe looked at Zack and laughed. "Well, you can't really blame the guy. We are way less than an inch tall and we're covered with brown tobacco spit. He just thought we were bugs. Hell, I don't even recognize you."

"Yeah, I guess you are right," Zack agreed. "But what are we going to do now?"

* * *

Suddenly, Joe and Zack were startled by a booming, thunderous noise. Zack looked back in total horror as he saw a gigantic teenager quickly headed their way, weed-eater in hand.

"Oh my God! RUN, or we'll be ripped to shreds!" Joe screamed as he realized the approaching yard worker was only seconds away.

Part Twenty

Joe and Zack looked up to see the enormous teen wielding his colossal weed-eater through the common lawn of the apartment complex. The young worker wore the blue-gray uniform of a local landscaping company, and the name tag on his uniform read "Cameron."

They stared up at the rangy young giant. He looked nearly 1,000 feet tall to the shrunken friends. He was only a kid, maybe 17 or 18 years old, probably making some extra cash mowing lawns for the landscape company. He had longish, dirty blond hair and the scruffy stubble of a goatee. His bare arms and face glistened from sweat.

The tiny men had no time to stand in awe of the titan. With the roar of the weed-eater's engine filling their ears, they tried to escape the path of destruction bearing down on them. A hurricane-force wind pelted them with sharp-edged bits of grass, tiny pebbles of dirt and other hazardous debris.

They broke into a desperate sprint through the stands of tall grass, unable to keep a fix on a safe direction in the maelstrom. Suddenly, a tattered sneaker almost 150 foot long stomped down directly in front of them, landing so close to the tiny men that they almost ran into the side of it.

They screamed and looked up to see the huge weed-eater hovering almost directly over them. A shimmering blur much like a rotating helicopter blade — the spinning cable that sliced though the grass stalks — caused a tornado-like vortex.

"We've got to get away from here!" Joe screamed, trying to make himself heard over the rumbling din.

They were suddenly seized in powerful air currents that flung them in opposite directions at a wrenching velocity.

* * *

Joe whined in terror as he was whipped through the air by the currents generated by the spinning weed-eater spinning cable. He was certain he would be slammed against the deadly blur of the cable and be sliced apart gruesomely.

Instead, he collided with a bone-jarring impact on the tongue of one of the huge teen's sneakers. The worn fabric provided some thin strands for the stunned shrunken man to grab in his fists. The giant, still in motion, took a lurching step as his tiny passenger struggled to remain atop the shoe.

* * *

Zack's stomach lurched as the hurricane-force winds ripped him from his stance and hurled him through the air. He grabbed out toward Joe's arm for support, but his hands clutched only empty air as he tumbled in the maelstrom. Shards of shredded grass and stalks flew past him like debris in a tornado, and he did his best to shield his face from the assault.

In an instant, however, his flight stopped as his body seemed to snag as if caught in a net. He found himself suspended high above the ground, ensnared in a wide network of glossy, sticky cables that looked like nylon fishing line. The net swayed lightly in the diminishing breeze of the weed-eater, and remnants of grass dangled like debris left from a storm.

Zack stirred and tried to pull his arm from the filaments, but they were lined with droplets of a sticky glue-like substance. The strong, gossamer cables clung fast to his skin and clothing. He looked annoyed at the entanglement until realization slowly dawned on him: he had landed in an enormous spider web.

He tried again with new urgency to pull free one of his arms, but as he stretched, another strand of silk snagged his skin. He found himself even more entangled.

His struggles sent vibrations through the web. A movement caught his eye from the base of the web. Moving past a fallen blade of grass, an enormous spider crept from its hiding place. It had a bloated abdomen of contrasting black and yellow bands. Each of its spindly limbs was studded with bristly, dark spikes. The arachnid, easily twice the size of the entrapped man, peered about to be sure the disturbance had passed.

Zack felt the web stretch from the spider's weight as it pulled itself back into its silken perch and positioned itself head-down in the center. The spider plucked at some anchoring strands to test for any activity within its carefully spun trap.

Zack's heart pounded as the vibrations rippled through the web. He fought back a scream as he looked down at the dizzying gap from the web to the ground. He shuddered uncontrollably. The resulting web movements attracted the alert spider.

Part Twenty One

Tiny Zack let out frantic scream when he turned his head and saw the hideous giant spider creeping it's way in his direction. Then he froze. Zack knew he had to keep as still and silent as possible, or he would end up as lunch for the horrible arachnid. His heart was pounding, but he remained still. The spider, no longer sensing movement, crawled to a back corner of the web. Zack looked on at the teen yard worker and could see Justin and Tommy on the basketball court. He wanted to scream at the top of his lungs for help, but he dared not make a sound or move a muscle. He wondered what had become of Joe, and tried not to imagine the worst.

* * *

"Damn piece of junk," Cameron spouted aloud as the weed eater jammed and abruptly shut off. He pounded the base of weed eater on the ground, and tried unsuccessfully to start it up again. The teenager then bent over to figure out the cause of the jamming. The nylon thread was a tangled mess. Cameron cussed again and then happened to glance down at one of his sneakers. He paused with curiosity, and then began to reach for something on the tongue of his sneaker. "Gee, what a strange little bug."

Joe screamed in terror as the gigantic fingers of the teenage yard-worker began to reach for him. Cameron effortlessly picked up little Joe and held him precariously between his thumb and forefinger. Joe was a little repulsed from the teen's dirty, sweaty hand, but he was even more uneasy being captive in the hand of a teenager he didn't even know. Cameron dropped the strange little "bug" in the palm of his hand and held it up to his face to examine closer. Joe was awe-struck as he looked up into the breathtakingly huge face of his captor.

"What in the world are you?" Cameron thought aloud as he examined the tiny creature in the palm of his hand. He reached out with one of his fingers for a closer examination. "Oh my God, you look like a....but that's just impossible!"

"Hey, stop that!" Joe yelled as one of Cameron's massive fingers began to touch him and move him around. "I said freaking stop it!"

* * *

Dillon had awakened and grogily ventured out to the basketball court to ask Justin and Tommy if they wanted to head out to the beach for the day. He noticed Cameron and walked up to say "Hi." Dillon remembered him from High School.

"What's up Cam?" Dillon asked, as he walked up and extended his arm for a handshake, and noticed Cameron intently examining something in his hand. "Whatcha got there?"

"You ain't gonna believe this, but I freakin' found this tiny dude on my sneaker," Cameron began to explain. "At first, I thought it was a bug or something, but it's a real little guy wearing clothes and everything."

"You're putting me on," Dillon responded with expected disbelief, but then decided to humor him. "So, what are ya going to do with him?"

"I guess I could keep it as a pet or something," Cameron responded, seemingly in deep thought. "Maybe I could train him to do tricks."

Joe began to seethe. The thought of this kid making him his pet infuriated the shrunken college guy. Joe started waving his arms and yelling. "Hey Dillon, It's me, Joe. You gotta help me!"

"Let me take a look at the thing," Dillon requested with slightly more curiosity. Cameron held out his hand and Dillon moved his face in close to Cameron's palm to get a really good look. "No Way!"

Joe furiously waved his arms and yelled up to his friend. Dillon stood frozen in mild shock and amazement as his brain tried to register the seemingly impossible. He whispered, "Joe, is that you?"

"Yes!, Yes!" Joe yelled, almost in tears after realizing his friend Dillon had recognized him. "Yes, its me."

"Cam, that's my friend Joe," Dillon told an amazed Cameron. "Hand him over to me."

"Hey, I found the little Dude. He belongs to me," Cameron responded in frustration. "I'm keeping him."

"He's a real person, Cam. He doesn't belong to nobody," Dillon tried to reason. "This is my friend I've known for ten years. I've got to find out how this happened to him."

"Oh, all right," Cameron gave in. Cameron tilted his hand slightly, and let the shrunken man fall right into Dillon's massive palm. "I hope everything works out for you little dude."

Dillon cupped his hand a little to ensure more safety for his tiny friend, and then yelled over to Justin and Tommy. "Hey guys, get over here right now!" Joe, now a little overwhelmed, sat down in the safety of his friend's gargantuan hand and rested.

"What's up Dillon?" Tommy asked, still out of breath from playing basketball. "What's the emergency?"

"You guys ain't gonna believe this, but I've got Joe in my hand," Dillon began to explain, realizing how absurd he sounded. "I don't know how, but somehow he shrunk. He's less than an inch tall."

"You're freakin high!" Justin responded with an uncontrollable laugh. "Okay, what's the joke?"

"Just take a look," Dillon said as he slowly held out tiny Joe for their inspection. "And don't scare him. He looks really rattled."

Tommy and Justin moved in really close to see what Dillon really had in his hand. They stood silent for almost a minute in complete awe as their tiny friend waved at them from Dillon's hand.

"I don't believe it. I can't believe it. How did this happen?" Justin began to ramble in a mild state of panic. "What should we do? Call 911 or something."

"Just chill out," a calmer Tommy interrupted. "Let's take him in the apartment, and then we can figure something out."

Dangling from his webbed prison precariously high off the ground, Zack had witnessed the unfolding events. He was right next to Tommy, at face level. When he heard the guys were about to leave, he began to panic. He had to get the guys attention immediately, or he would surely be doomed. It was now or never. Zack made a hasty decision. It would either save his life or prove to be a terrible mistake.

"Tommy, help me! Look over here, it's me, Zack!" Zack screamed with all his might as he thrashed about in the spiderweb with an urgent frenzy. "Tommy, please help me!"

The ever vigilant spider sensed the movement in its web and slowly crept towards the source to investigate what it was going to have for lunch. Zack screamed in terror as he watched the monstrous creature approach. He continued yelling out for Tommy to hear him.

"What the ...?" Tommy blurted out as he turned his head and noticed something dangling in a spiderweb about a foot from his face. He focused his eyes on the tiny creature with complete disbelief. Tommy saw a nasty looking spider headed right for the tiny trapped prey. In a split second, Tommy reached out his massive hand, and grabbed the trapped little creature securely in his fist. The spider was flung to the ground in the process, and Tommy quickly stomped it to oblivion. Tommy slowly opened his hand as the guys intently watched, and found a relieved Zack looking up at him, trying to untangle the remnants of the spiderweb.

"Tommy, you saved my life." Zack said as he looked up at his mountainous friend. "Thanks."

Tommy couldn't hear Zack but was intuitive to what he was trying to communicate. "No problem, buddy."

"Oh, God! Zack was almost eaten by that freaking spider!" Justin exclaimed. "Is he Okay?"

"I think so. Let's head to the apartment and figure out what to do," Dillon suggested as he looked over and saw Cameron's long face. "Yeah Cameron, you can come too."

Part Twenty Two

Cameron welcomed the invitation to tag along to the apartment. Having discovered one of the tiny guys, he felt entitled to participate in the aftermath of his astonishing find.

Justin, Tommy and Dillon, along with Cameron, filed into the apartment. The hulking guys spread out around the kitchen table. Dillon unfolded his fist and lowered his hand to the tabletop. He looked down, his shock only slowly fading, as his tiny friend crawled off the edge of his hand and dropped to the tabletop.

Tommy, the tiny Zack held securely within his own fist, repeated the process. In short order, the two shrunken men, huddled together on the vast surface of the colossal table, stared up at their mega-huge friends.

For their part, the friends could not take their eyes off the bug-sized men on the table. In fact, they all found it difficult to accept the little guys as even human.

"They're so freaking tiny," Cameron said in a voice that barely concealed his excitement. The younger guy still smarted from the disappointment at having to surrender his amazing discovery. He had to restrain himself from reaching out and grabbing the two tiny guys in his hand for a closer look.

"Yeah, they are tiny," Dillon added, somewhat uselessly.

"What are we gonna do with them?" Tommy asked. His hands were folded against his massive chest. He stared down with an expression of intense interest.

Justin frowned. "Do with them? We're gonna help them, of course. How would you like to be that small? Hell, they look like bugs!"

"Yeah, I know that," Tommy defended himself. "But, I'm just not sure of what we can do. Should we take them to some expert? Maybe a doctor?"

"What's a doctor going to do for them?" Dillon asked impatiently. "We need to find out how this happened."

The four huge guys all turned their faces down toward the two tiny men on the table.

* * *

Zack, after scrambling off Tommy's huge palm, hurried to Joe's side. Together, the two tiny men stared the great distance toward the faces of their titanic friends. The expressions on the enormous guys remained almost unrecognizable to the tiny men.

They had thought that making contact with their friends would make them feel better about their unsettling situation. Instead, finding themselves the subject of such intense interest from such powerful, mammoth giants, the two shrunken men felt incredibly insignificant. They found their minds could barely comprehend the looming titans as fellow humans.

Zack felt somewhat indignant that he and Joe were the topic of a conversation as if they were not even present.

"Look at them!" Joe's voice trembled. "They're so huge!"

Zack, swallowing hard, raised his eyes again. He found Joe's nervous statement a perfect example of understatement. "Yes," he agreed.

* * *

Tommy took charge of the situation. He drew back a chair and sat down, craning his face down to get a better look at his tiny friends on the table.

The noise as the giant chair scraped against the floor caused Zack and Joe some alarm. They tried to stand still, however, as Tommy spoke to them.

"What the hell happened?" Tommy asked. "What caused this?"

Dillon and Justin lined up behind Tommy's shoulders. Cameron stood off to the side, his attention still fixed on the amazing little men.

* * *

"Not so loud!" Joe pleaded as Tommy's question assaulted them.

Zack moved his hands to cover his ears. "Lower the volume," he yelled up toward his giant friend.

"What's the matter with them?" Cameron asked.

"I think you're talking too loudly," Justin said.

Joe and Zack began to leap up and down, excited that they had at least been able to communicate this simple fact.

"Ask them how they got so small," Dillon instructed.

"Yeah," Justin said.

Tommy looked down. "Guys, can you tell us what happened?"

* * *

Joe and Zack tried in vain to shout out the facts of their story. They tried to communicate to their huge friends about the barrel of toxic waste they had been exposed to at the vacant lot. But, after nearly making themselves hoarse, they were faced with an unexpected difficulty.

They were too small — Tommy, Justin, Dillon and Cameron could not hear their tiny voices.

"What are we going to do?" Joe asked, his tone increasingly desperate.

* * *

"I think they're trying to talk to us," Tommy said in frustration. "But I can't hear them."

"I hear something," Justin said. "But it just sounds like some pitiful squeaks."

"I think we should consult with someone else," Tommy decided. "I know a physics professor at the college. Maybe he could help."

"Maybe we should tell the coach," Justin said. "He might have some ideas."

"Justin and I could go get the coach," Dillon volunteered. "Tommy, you go see that professor."

"What about them?" Tommy asked.

Cameron's heart raced. "Oh, I could watch them for you while you are gone."

"All right," Tommy decided. "We'll be back soon, guys. Don't worry. We're going to get help."

Their three friends quickly left the apartment. Zack and Joe looked up as Cameron took a seat at the table and stared silently at them.

"I don't like this," Joe whispered to Zack.

* * *

Cameron leaned over the two tiny men to get a closer look. A slight smile spread across his face.

"Amazing," he breathed. "You guys are so — tiny!" He squirmed in his chair, unable to take his eyes off the insect-sized men. He stretched out a finger toward them, and his smile broadened as they backed away from it. His fingertip looked so thick next to their miniature forms. They both were small enough to fit on his fingernail.

He moved his finger closer to rub it against Zack. Zack tried again to back away, but the enormous fingertip bumped against him, sending him sprawling over sideways on the surface of the table. Cameron chuckled, drowning out the angry squeaks from the two figures.

"You guys want a tour of the apartment?" Cameron asked with a sudden gleam in his eye. The tiny duo's reaction was an unmistakable "No!", but Cameron had already pushed his chair back and stood up.

* * *

Once more, the two shrunken men saw huge fingers descending toward them, and one at a time they were each pinched between Cameron's thumb and forefinger and dropped into his warm, moist palm.

"What is he doing?" Joe asked anxiously, steadying himself against the dizzying motion of being carried across the kitchen toward the living room.

"I don't know. I think he's getting kinda turned on by this," Zack answered grimly.

Suddenly, Cameron's voice thundered overhead, interrupting ominously as he had an idea. "Oh, yeah! Definitely! That'd be cool!" His pace quickened.

Zack and Joe heard a growing hum as they were carried into the living room toward an enormous tropical fish tank. The smell of salt water and fish food surrounded them and Cameron held his hand in front of the vast glass wall.

An enormous clown fish swam to the glass to investigate the scene. It was larger than any fish either of the two had ever seen. The effect was similar to being in a major metropolitan aquarium, observing fish behind a glass wall, except that this glass wall seemed to be almost 300 feet tall and much, much wider than that. The fish were also able to move much faster than anything so large should be able, covering dozens of feet in only a second or two.

The clown fish hovered in the water, eyeing the tiny men. Its gills flapped open and closed rhythmically, and its fins undulated in the current. The huge, round mouth dilated and contracted patiently as it studied the strange sight. A second fish, a larger, sleeker wrasser, wriggled up and attached itself to the wall nearby. It seemed to anticipate a feeding.

* * *

"They look kinda hungry, don't they?" Cameron said wryly. "You guys can watch me feed 'em."

He lifted a small tropical fish net off the lid of the tank and set it aside, then propped the lid open. The humming, gurgling sounds grew louder and the smell of salt water grew more powerful.

Cameron carried the two diminutive men up to the top of the glass wall, and carefully tilted his hand, dumping them onto the top edge. Billowing nodules of salt deposits crusted the inner edge of the glass, forming a strange, unearthly landscape like tiny sparkling clouds that had been frozen to the inner top edge of the tank wall. Joe used one of the crystalline clusters to prop himself against as he stood up. Zack, too, carefully picked himself up, and the tiny men looked around.

Cameron turned away for a moment. He reached down beside the base of the tank and produced a canister of fish flakes. He unscrewed the lid, and tilted the canister over the water, flicking it with his finger.

* * *

Enormous flakes fluttered down past Zack and Joe, some nearly as large as they were, and floated like large lily pads on the softly churning surface of the water where they landed. Immediately, the huge fish began nibbling at them.

To their reduced perspective, the two tiny men would see a huge, shimmering mass move under one of the flakes, then an enormous mouth would break the surface and immediately suck in the soggy flake. The action was so rapid and fascinating, it was hard to take their eyes off it.

Joe crouched down behind a cluster of salt, watching in amazement. Zack, however, alternated his attention between the fish and Cameron.

* * *

Cameron watched the fish and the tiny men for a moment. He leaned in to get a closer look at the tiny pair, then chuckled again and turned away to replace the fish food canister.

* * *

The small burst of air from the giant's chuckle hit Joe like a sudden gust of warm wind. It knocked him forward against the salt cluster, which broke loose from the edge of the glass wall. Joe flailed for a split second before toppling over the side and dropping into the water below.

"Joe!" Zack cried helplessly as he watched his friend fall down into the water. He rushed to the edge in time to see Joe resurface, breaking through the thick, plastic-like surface tension. Even to Zack, Joe's flailing resembled an insect's struggles.

"Oh my God — NO!" Zack shouted as he saw an ominous, dark mass moving under his friend.

Part Twenty Three

Coach Johnson sat at his cluttered desk in a speechless stupor as he listened to the far-fetched ramblings of his star pitcher.

“But it’s true,” Justin pleaded with Coach Johnson about the unbelievable fate of his friends. “They really have shrunk and we have got to get some help for them.”

The heat in the small room in the far corner of the gym was nearly unbearable. The concrete walls were painted putrid green and were adorned with many certificates and awards. A small fan buzzed as Justin continued his fantastic story. Dillon just stood silently next to Justin wondering to himself if coming to tell Coach Johnson had been the best option. He looked at the sweat drenched coach and wondered what kind of loser worked on Saturday. Maybe they should have just taken their friends to a hospital. Dillon watched Coach Johnson roll his eyes in disbelief as Justin wrapped up the details of the fate of his friends.

“Are you guys on drugs or something?” Coach Johnson asked in a gruff, angry tone. “Justin, you know we have some important games coming up next week, and I can’t have you strung out on some hallucinogenic crap.”

“I’m not on anything, Coach,” Justin replied in a pissed off tone. “I really thought I could count on you Coach. Well, if we can’t get our friends fixed, then you can just forget about me and Tommy showing up for practice on Monday; or for any of your “big” games next week either.”

“Okay, okay, so Tommy’s involved in this too,” Coach said apologetically, trying to diffuse the situation. “I don’t know what you guys are up to, but as for practice on Monday…you can just bring your little friends with you. Now get outa here and leave me alone.”

As the frustrated college guys left Coach Johnson’s office, the coach glanced down and noticed a small bug crawling across his desk. “Too many damn sci-fi movies these days; that’s what it is,” Coach thought aloud as he lowered a finger on top of the helpless bug and crushed it into oblivion.

“Well, that was sure a waste of time,” Dillon remarked to Justin. “And I’m sure Zack and Joe would just love to go to practice with you and Tommy, and hang with a bunch of rowdy, thousand foot tall baseball players. That would be real smart.”

“Hey, you know I wouldn’t let anything happen to those guys,” Justin replied sort of offended by Dillon’s sarcasm. “We’ll get em fixed up by then anyway. I wonder if Tommy’s having any luck with Professor Taylor?”

* * *

“It is scientifically impossible to shrink matter,” Professor Taylor responded to Tommy’s rambling in a calm and methodical manner. “How small did you say they were?”

“Oh I guess about half an inch or so,” Tommy responded to the skeptical Professor. “They are really, really tiny.”

“And how did you say this happened, Tommy?” Professor Taylor quizzed Tommy, feigning slight interest in the obvious fraternity prank. The Professor had endured years of these ritualistic fraternity rites of passage. But at least this prank had an element of originality to it, so the Professor played along with it. He focused in on Tommy with his patented quizzical scientist look.

“I don’t know how it happened,” Tommy replied. “We just found them that way, and they are way too small to hear what they are saying. What should we do, Professor?”

“Hold on…I think I’ve got something here that can help,” Professor Taylor told Tommy as he walked over to cabinet and fumbled around, pulling out a small black rectangular object with a wire sticking out of it. “Here is an amplifying device that should help. Now you should be able to communicate with your shrunken friends.”

“Awesome…This is incredible!” Tommy exclaimed with a burst of excitement as he examined the small amplifier. “Man, you’re the best…gotta go…see ya later Professor.”

“If you need anything else, just let me know,” Professor Taylor informed Tommy as he abruptly left his small college lab. “I’ll be here all weekend working on a research project.”

* * *

Joe gagged as he gulped in a mouthful of the stale, fishy salt water. Giant air bubbles slammed into tiny Joe just before popping, creating what seemed like intense explosions to the shrunken college guy. Zack tried frantically to reach his friend, but the surface of the fish tank was just too far away. Joe flailed his arms in a panic to stay afloat, oblivious to the massive shadowy mass that threatened to gobble up his miniature body in one bite. Zack held his arms up and screamed with all his might as he witnessed what was sure to be the end of his friend.

“What are you doing in there?” Cameron said as he reached in and rescued Joe from a certain and horrible death.

“That’s just not a good place for a swim,” Cameron said with a smile to the tiny figure trying to recuperate in his gigantic palm. He reached down for Zack and set him next to Joe. “You almost ended up as fish food little fella.”

Cameron took the guys and gently put them back on the kitchen table. Cameron couldn’t take his eyes off the tiny, helpless human figures that stood on the table in front of him.

“You know, if you guys can’t get big again, I could keep you at my house,” Cameron informed his shrunken captives, Joe still hacking up salt water. “I would take really good care of you guys.”

That comment sent a shiver up Zack’s spine. Why had his friends left them with this crazy kid? Zack hoped that Justin and the other guys would return soon.

Zack and Joe were soon startled by the thunderous sound of a cell phone. Cameron reached down and took the cell phone from his belt and silenced the offensive tone.

“Yeah,” Cameron answered and listened intently for a few seconds. “Oh sure, no problem.”

“Well guys, I’ve got one more priority yard to do today,” Cameron informed tiny Zack and Joe. “Now where can I put you guys so you can’t get aw…I mean so you won’t get hurt.

Cameron looked around the kitchen and noticed a fairly clean black ashtray sitting on one of the kitchen counters. “This should do the trick.”

Cameron gently lifted the two tiny college guys up and dropped them into the deep, black prison, and set it directly in the center of the kitchen table. “Well, gotta go guys, but I’m sure your friends will be back soon.”

“No, you can’t leave us here!” Zack yelled at Cameron as he looked up and watched the Herculean youth hurriedly leave the apartment. “Please come back!”

Joe fell to the ground still exhausted from his near drowning experience. Zack looked around in dread at the massively tall smooth walls of the ashtray. Any attempts at escape would be futile. They were trapped…and all alone.

Part Twenty Four

Their view of the world happened to be quite restricted at the moment, considering they had been imprisoned in the depths of a black plastic ashtray. But they heard the thunderous rumbling as an unseen giant yawned and came to life. The walls of the ashtray sloped up at a steep angle for at least 24 feet. Joe and Zack scrambled around on the smooth plastic surface of the bottom of the ashtray as they tried desperately to get a glimpse of the source of the rather frightening noise.

* * *

Hidden from view behind the old ratty couch, J.T. awoke from his deep sleep after Cameron slammed the door on his way out. The young, lean guy sat up, stretched his muscular arms, yawned deeply and scratched his tousled blond hair. “Hey, where is everybody?” J.T. called out in the oddly empty apartment.

J.T. got up and sat on the couch for a moment and tried to wake up. He wore only a pair of white briefs. As he did every time he woke, he reached toward the coffee table for his pack of cigarettes.

He tapped one out of the pack and lit it. He took a deep draw on the cigarette. "Where the hell is everybody?"

* * *

"It's J.T.!" Joe shouted from within the ashtray. "J.T. Help! Get us out of here!"

"Wait— Joe, wait a second." Zack looked worried. " J.T. doesn't know what has happened to us! He must have been crashing when the guys found us."

"So what?" Joe asked.

Right on cue, J.T.'s mountainous body came into view. The groggy youth lumbered across the room, letting his cigarette dangle from his lips as he scanned for the television remote.

He failed to locate it, so he pulled up a chair at the kitchen table. He took another draw on his cigarette, then noticed the ashtray conveniently positioned within arm's length.

* * *

J.T. stood next to the kitchen table. He rubbed his eyes and then moved his right hand down to adjust the crotch of his tight briefs. He exhaled a cloud of smoke.

In the ashtray, unknown to J.T., his shrunken friends gazed up in awe and trepidation. Joe looked completely terrified, but Zack felt a strange mixture of both healthy fear and respectful admiration for his titanic friend. He could not prevent feelings of awe as he followed the colossal curves of J.T.'s lean, muscular body. His friend looked more like some flesh-and-blood landscape instead of an ordinary human being.

J.T.'s raised voice fell on them with deafening volume. Both tiny men screamed and tried to cover their ears.

"Guys!" J.T. bellowed. "Where in hell has everybody got to?"

Joe and Zack barely had time to recover from the painfully loud assault from J.T.'s thunderous voice when they gazed upward and saw his huge fingers take the long cigarette from his mouth.

He lowered the huge cylinder.

The shrunken friends saw the sizzling lump of ash on the end of the cigarette move into view toward them. The section of ash looked almost 15 feet in length.

"Oh no!" Joe screamed.

In a quick tapping motion, J.T. flicked the ashes of his cigarette into the ashtray. He didn't even look down.

Joe and Zack scrambled to avoid the falling chunks of burning ash. They evaded the most dangerous masses of the burning debris, but sizable lumps began to produce a great deal of hot smoke and fumes that swirled around inside the bottom of the ashtray. Joe and Zack choked on the fumes.

"We'll suffocate!" Joe wailed.

Zack screamed out J.T.'s name in an effort to get their titanic friend to take notice of them.

* * *

J.T. sat groggily for a minute or more, trying to clear his head and decide what to do in the empty apartment. His stomach growled.

"Munchies," he mumbled to no one in particular.

Focusing his energy, he stood up suddenly. His chair skidded backward loudly a few inches across the floor, sending a vibration through the table. The effect was like an earthquake to the two tiny men in the ashtray.

J.T. snatched the ashtray in his free hand and whisked it off the tabletop as he turned toward the refrigerator.

Joe and Zack were slammed against the curved wall before they knew what was happening. Loose ash drifted up over them, rising to their chests.

Completing his arm motion, J.T. deposited the ashtray onto the countertop, where it slid perilously close to the edge near the stovetop.

He slipped the cigarette between his lips and bit down on it as he tugged open the refrigerator door. He poked his head inside and took a long draw. His gaze settled on a half-open pizza box, a couple of uneaten slices lying within.

"Breakfast of champions, any time of day," he shrugged.

He slid the box onto the stovetop where it balanced on two of the unused heating elements.

He took one last drag from his nearly spent cigarette. With one hand, he reached for a slice of pizza, while the other hand took the cigarette butt and blindly fumbled toward the ashtray.

* * *

"J.T." Joe screamed as he saw his massive friend's gigantic hand stretch over the ashtray. "In here. Look in the ashtray!"

"What's he doing?" Zack shrieked.

"No! Oh my g—!" Joe started to scream, but his shouts ended abruptly when the giant flailing hand tipped the ashtray, sending it hurtling over the counter's edge.

* * *

It happened so quickly, everything blurred into one hellish eternity for the tiny men. The stadium-sized ashtray turned topsy-turvy as it suddenly upended. The two tiny occupants were hurled into open space, then skidded across the smooth countertop toward the edges.

Joe saw Zack disappear over the front edge a moment before he himself slipped over the side edge between the counter and the stove.

The ashtray clattered noisily to the floor.

Zack fell with sickening speed and smacked hard against the linoleum. Cigarette ash fell around him like a charcoal-grey snowstorm, coating a wide area of the floor around him.

Joe, who had that split second to realize their titanic friend was about to rock their world, felt himself falling into the shadowy crevasse between the oven and the counter, but his descent ended with a soft, squishy plop.

* * *

"Damn!" J.T. groused at the accidentally flipped ashtray. The container had clattered on the linoleum and rested upside-down. He bent down and retrieved the ashtray, then set it back onto the countertop. He crushed out his cigarette, and looked down at the mess of spilled ashes. He lifted a slice of cold pizza to his mouth, took a bite, then set out to find the vacuum cleaner.

* * *

Zack gasped for air, slowly regaining his breath after the violent impact with the floor. He felt badly winded and was probably badly bruised, but couldn't detect any broken bones. He looked across the vast plain of linoleum toward the colossal stove. "Joe! Joe, where are you?"

Joe heard Zack's call and tried to sit up, but something held him back. He strained again. His fingers, arms and legs squelched in a thick, sticky goo. The strange substance pulled at his hair, but he managed to turn his head slightly. A tall, spindly, dark form came into view. Joe gasped as he recognized the form as another enormous spider, but it was strangely still.

"Zack!" Joe screamed. "Zack, help! Help me! Get me out of here!"

Zack raced toward his friend's voice, charging into the canyon between the cupboard and the oven. His heart skipped a beat as he stopped short of the broad piece of cardboard, littered with flecks of ash and scores of large insect corpses half-sunk in a thick layer of glue. Near the center of the glue trap, lying on his back in the sticky goo, was Joe.

"Joe!" Zack cried, feeling utterly helpless.

"Zack! Help me! God, get me out of here! I can't move!"

Zack turned and ran helplessly back out across the kitchen floor. His footsteps left tracks in the ash as though he were running through new-fallen snow. He stopped and looked up, searching for J.T., and then he had an idea.

He ran out across the ash, dragging his feet as he went. He travelled in a straight line for a time, then doubled back. Half-way back, he ran out in a direction perpendicular to the first line. He stopped, then made another line parallel to the first.

"H," Zack whispered to himself. He jumped out of this track to begin another. Before long, he had traced a large E. Another jump. Racing, he made an L. He heard J.T.'s footsteps approaching, dragging the squeaking wheels of the vacuum cleaner. Making one more leap, he began the final letter of his desperate message.

* * *

J.T. plugged the cord into the wall outlet and flipped the switch. The vacuum roared to life. The sound was almost deafening to the tiny men, and it wasn't doing much good for J.T.'s hangover either. He picked up the wand tube and pointed it toward the mess of ashes. The sooner he got this cleaned up, the sooner he could shut off the noise and finish his pizza.

* * *

Zack felt the wind before he could jump out of his ash-track letter and run for the cover of the stove crevasse. He waved his arms wildly and screamed at the giant, but his voice was obliterated by the jet-like rumble of the enormous vacuum.

* * *

J.T. watched the first flecks of ash disappear into the tube of the vacuum. He glanced down, trying to resolve what he was seeing. His hand stopped, and the suction end of the vacuum rested on the floor in place. It was impossible, but in the ashes, someone had traced the word "HELP".

Part Twenty Five

J.T. quickly reached back and shut off the vacuum. His eyes remained transfixed at the seemingly impossible tiny message that had mysteriously appeared in the scattered ashes. The abrupt silence startled tiny Zack almost as much as the thunderous sound of the vacuum when it had been turned on. All he could do was look up and stare in awe at the seemingly god-like mountain posing as just one of his college buddies. Suffering from all out exhaustion, Joe lay silent and motionless, securely trapped in the heinous bug trap.

“How the hell did that get here?” J.T. quizzically asked himself as he lowered his head closer to the bizarre message. “This is just freakin weird.”

Zack felt a mild sense of relief as he saw his giant friend examine the “HELP” message he had so diligently etched in the scattered ashes. His relief soon turned to anxiety as the colossal J.T. peered in his direction and those lake-sized eyes locked in on his tiny figure.

“Hey J.T., it’s me Zack,” Zack yelled up to J.T. as he lifted one arm and waved.

Zack then slowly backed up as he saw his friend’s enormous hand with its menacing monster-sized fingers began to move towards him. A burst of adrenaline shot through his tiny body as he realized he was about to be picked up and examined by his giant friend as thought he were nothing but an curious looking insect.

“What the hell is that thing,” J.T. murmured as he slowly reached out for the strange looking tiny creature standing next to the message written in cigarette ash.

Noticing some backwards movement, J.T. quickly positioned one of his massive hands behind the weird looking little bug, preventing any escape. From his other hand, jumbo sized fingers the size of redwoods slowly reached out for tiny Zack. The half-inch tall college guy was carefully secured between J.T.’s massive thumb and forefinger.

J.T. brought his tiny captive right up to his face and began to examine the helpless creature. Even though J.T. was being extra careful, Zack winced at the intense pressure exerted from his giant friend’s enormous fingers. And the sudden stomach-lurching acceleration upward did not help matters.

Zack just looked on mesmerized at the site of his giant friend’s titanic face. J.T. was huge. And then it hit him. J.T.’s revolting morning breath; a mix of nicotine, beer and Doritos. Zack gagged a little and then began to yell, “Hey J.T., it’s me, Zack!”

“Whoa dude…man…what the…Zack, is that…no way,” J.T. found it nearly impossible to speak. “What the hell happened to you?”

Zack was relieved J.T. had realized it was him, but it was becoming increasingly frustrating that his voice was just too pitifully meager for these mega-giants to hear.

“I can’t hear what you’re saying,” an also frustrated J.T. whispered to his bug-sized friend as he carefully placed Zack near the edge of the kitchen table and then sat down. He brought his face close to Zack again. “How did you get this way?”

Zack gave up trying to communicate with J.T. He stood there on the table looking up at his colossal friend not really sure what to do and then he remembered Joe. Zack frantically began jump up and down and point down at the floor in the direction of Joe.

“What is it Zack?” J.T. asked his tiny friend in response to his seemingly urgent gesturing. “Is there something down there?”

J.T. carefully got down on his knees and began to scan the dirty linoleum kitchen floor. He moved around, gently brushing aside dirt and the spilled cigarette ash, not really having a clue what he was looking for. Just as he was about to give up, he happened to glance at the sticky bug trap, positioned just between the stove and the countertop. J.T. couldn’t believe his eyes. Trapped directly in the center, surrounded by an array of dead insects was a very tiny man. At closer inspection, Zack almost freaked out when he realized it was Joe.

“Oh my God!” J.T. blurted out in near panic as he grabbed the bug trap and headed back for the kitchen table. “Are you okay Joe? Please be Okay.”

Joe was relieved when he heard his giant friend call his name, but nearly passed out as the bug-trap was hurtled through the air at incredible speed as J.T. quickly carried it back to the kitchen table.

J.T. carefully set the bug-trap containing his shrunken friend on the kitchen table next to Zack. Zack remained in awe of the giant that he had so often chilled with drinking brews and playing cards. J.T. glanced at Zack with a sense of urgency and then focused back on his tiny trapped friend.

“I gotta get you out of that piece of crap contraption,” J.T. whispered directly at Joe as he lowered his enormous fingers. “Hang on Joe. I’m going to pull you out of there.”

As gently as he could, J.T. grabbed hold of Joe and began to pull. J.T. was able to pull Joe from the sticky trap quite easily. He let his exhausted friend linger in his massive palm a couple seconds and then placed him down on the table next to Zack. “There you go buddy.”

“Are you okay, Joe?” Zack asked concerned with Joe’s well being. Zack looked skyward and waved. “Thanks J.T.”

J.T. leaned in close and placed his chin on the kitchen table so he could get a really close look at his shrunken friends. “Man, this is freakin weird. How the hell did this happen to you guys?”

Joe was a little shaken up and uneasy with J.T.’s colossal face being so close but Zack was completely mesmerized. He walked closer to the life size Mt. Rushmore as J.T.’s ominous eyes followed his every move. J.T. was just as fascinated with tiny Zack as he moved closer. He felt the urge to just reach down and grab his tiny friend. But he resisted, not wanting to rattle Zack any more than necessary.

Zack examined J.T.’s face with intense curiosity. Every freckle, blemish, or stray whisker was pronounced a thousand fold. Zack could resist no longer. He walked up next to his giant friend and reached out his tiny hand. Zack spent the next several minutes just feeling of J.T.’s massive chin. It was completely surreal. Joe just rolled his eyes as he watched from a distance.

* * *

Suddenly, the door to the apartment opened, and Tommy entered nearly out of breath. He had sprinted from his car to the apartment. Startled, J.T. looked up. Tommy noticed J.T. sitting at the kitchen table.

“Oh God! I forgot we left you here,” Tommy said with some anxiety. “Where is Cameron….and where is Zack and Joe?”

“Well Tommy, you’re not going to believe this, but Zack and Joe are here on the kitchen table,” J.T. responded as he pointed down at his shrunken friends. “Who is Cameron?”

“I know about the guys,” Tommy said as he rushed over to the kitchen table to make sure Zack and Joe were okay. “We left to try and get some help. You must have slept through the whole commotion.”

“Must have had too many beers last night,” J.T. responded with a sheepish grin. “How did the guys get so small?”

“I don’t know because they are too small to hear their voices,” Tommy explained as he pulled a black rectangular object out of his pocket. “But I’ve got something to fix that.”

“Hey guys,” Tommy spoke softly to Zack and Joe as he lowered the small battery powered amplifier next to them, and toggled a switch to the “on” position. “I got this amplifier from Professor Taylor at the college. Just talk into the mic at the end of this wire and we should be able to hear you.”

Zack and Joe excitedly rushed up to the end of the dangling wire. Zack nervously cleared his throat and spoke. “Can you hear me?”

Zack’s voice beamed throughout the kitchen distinct and very clear. The device worked perfectly.

“Awesome!” Tommy erupted with complete excitement. He gave J.T. a big high five. “Okay Zack, spill it. What happened to you guys.”

As Zack spoke, J.T. and Tommy sat at the table silent and motionless, transfixed on tiny Zack’s every word.

“It all started at that damn vacant lot next to the baseball field. Me and Joe went out there to have some brews while you and Justin finished the game,” Zack began trying to recall all the details. Joe would occasionally interject any pertinent facts he felt Zack had left out.

“No way Joe,” Tommy responded with amazement. “You mean you were actually in my shirt pocket and I didn’t even know it.”

“Trapped in Justin’s shoe?” J.T. leaned back as he and Tommy erupted in laughter as they listened to Zack. “Now that’s a fate worse than death.”

When Zack got to the part about being trapped in the spider web he sort of choked up. “Tommy, I really want to thank you for saving me from that spider. You saved my life out there.”

“No problem buddy,” Tommy responded somberly. “You would have done the same for me.”

Zack and Joe continued the story up to the point J.T. had pulled Joe from the sticky bug trap.

“Freaking amazing!” were the only words J.T. could muster up.

“Hey Tommy, we’ve got to get cleaned up,” Joe spoke into the mic. “I feel so sticky and mucky.”

“Yeah, you guys probably still have some of that giant loogie from Justin on ya,” J.T. chimed in with a laugh. “I don’t know—the shower might be a little big for you guys.”

Tommy went to the fridge and pulled a couple caps off two pepsi bottles. He lowered his enormous hand to the table next to Zack and Joe. “Hop on guys. I’ll fill these caps up with warm water and you guys can get cleaned up.” Zack and Joe climbed aboard Tommy’s enormous hand, and they were transported to the bathroom.

Tommy carefully sat the guys down on the counter next to the sink. He filled each bottle cap with a couple drops of warm water and placed them next to Joe and Zack. “There ya go—two instant hot-tubs.” Tommy took a fingernail and shaved off two tiny pieces of soap for his shrunken friends. “You guys get cleaned up. I’ll be back in about 30 minutes and we’ll figure out how to get ya back to normal.”

Tommy walked back to the kitchen and sat down with J.T. They just sat there silent for about a minute staring at each other. J.T. was first to break the silence.

“What the hell are we going to do now?”

(to be continued?) © Copyright 2005 Speck (UN: utek at Writing.Com).