Little Friends

By Bookguy

I was taking the bus back to my apartment from classes at the University. I looked around the bus; I didn't see anyone I knew well, but could tell that almost everyone was involved in the college in one way or another. I wasn't even paying attention to the route since I was so used to taking this bus home.

We came to an overpass and the bus made a sharp right and through an opening that I had never noticed before; it had been perfectly disguised. We all shouted at the driver - what's going on! Where are we going?, but he ignored us. A glass or plastic panel went around his seat, sealing him off from the rest of us. We continued down a dark tunnel, lit only by the bus headlights. After a few minutes, I could see a weird green glow ahead and we were heading straight for it. I tensed, expecting something to happen, but we sailed right through it. The bus came to a halt a few seconds later, and the driver exited.

"Ladies and gentlemen" came a voice from outside the bus, "Please remain seated and calm. The general public does not know what you are about to be told. Just over 30 years ago, the earth encountered aliens for the first time - aliens who conquered us. We were able to negotiate with the aliens and your bus is only the latest in a series of tributes which we have agreed to send our conquerers. Every couple of months, a plane or bus or train "crashes" killing all aboard. Really the people are taken here. Now all please exit the bus."

We looked at each other - tribute! Who was this guy kidding. We were not moving.

"Please exit the bus, it will be better this way" A few people moved to get up, I wasn't moving.

"Fine, we'll do it the hard way." The wall in front of the bus came down. Behind it we saw - giants! People, like us but 80 or 90 feet tall; we were only about 4 or 5 inches tall to them. They were dressed in boiler suits and two began to walk over to the bus. Passengers screamed, I screamed; I couldn't believe that this was happening.

"Get out of the bus," one of the giants said. They were normal men, but huge. When we still didn't move, one of them came over to the bus and hit something on the side. The roof popped open like the top of a stapler.

"Now," he said, "do you want to get out, or should I take you out?" He started to reach down. We got off the bus, staying together at the feet of the giants.

"Very good," he said," now follow me to the holding area" We followed the giant into a large(to us) room. He bent down and locked the door behind us.

None of us could believe that this was happening. We were held there for about six hours. Then, one of the same giants unlocked the door. We filed out - what choice did we have? He led us to a big open space, probably at least the size of a football field. The floor was soft like a mat, and there were all sorts of weird shapes on the floor and along the walls, making a kind of maze. The same voice from the bus then spoke, "And so here you are. The tribute for this month. The giants couldn't think how we could be of use to them, but together we decided." A huge door began to open at the other end of the 'stadium'.

"Our tributes would be pets for their children" the voice finished and we could see, coming through the door twenty five or thirty giant children.

As we stared at the giant children, we saw a giant adult talking to them. As they got their orientation, we were given ours. The children of this world call us 'Little Friends'. Every time the 'tribute' comes from Earth, there is a drawing in the country that corresponds here and thirty lucky children get a Little Friend. Only children can win and Little Friends cannot be bought or sold. Boys get male Friends and girls get Female. Children who receive them must be between the ages of 5 and 12.

We watched the children line up and get ready. Then they were off and running towards us - we bolted! I tried to stay near some of the obstacles so as not to be too obvious. I saw some of the others get grabbed right away, while some were successful in avoiding the children.

The five year olds were the worst. They would grab one of us, look him/her over, toss that person away and go on to the next. They just couldn't make up their minds. Just from the way the children were going after their Friend, I could tell who to stay away from. One boy was tripping the other children while one girl was trapping both males and females under her shoe for a while before letting them go. Stay away from them!

I couldn't decide whether to try to get caught to at least assure myself that one of the bad children wouldn't get me or to stay free for as long as possible. Maybe there were more of us than children. I didn't get a chance to decide, though. From above me, a shadow loomed. I looked up and saw one of the children looking over one of the obstacles at me. I ran away towards the side of the room. I dodged two Friends and two giant girls as they ran past, but looked back only to see the boy following me.

Eventually, he trapped me against the wall where there was an outcropping of the same soft material that made up the entire room. I turned to face the boy. He was about nine with blonde hair and a small scattering of freckles across his small nose. He smiled and moved towards me.

There was no where for me to run. He knelt down in front of me and reached out a finger towards me. The moment of truth-- one of the giants was actually going to touch me, to pick me up!

I tried to scramble up the wall, but there were no hand holds. I turned back; his finger was still closing. I ran along the wall, but then bounced back - he had put his other hand down to block me. I looked up past his overhanging knee and saw him still smiling; not a mean or nasty smile - he was just a kid enjoying meeting his new toy, his new Friend. I still had to try to stay out of his grasp for as long as I could. I rolled, crawled, did anything to stay away from the hand that he had used to block my path, but I rolled onto something soft, softer than the mat. It was his first hand. He had lain it down on the ground and I had rolled right onto it.

Before I could get up and off, he curled his fingers towards his palm and I went with them. He closed his fingers over me, covering me from mid-chest down. I was being held in a nine year old's hand! I tried to push the fingers off me. They gave a little, but only because they were soft, the grip he had on me didn't budge at all. He lifted the hand and me off the ground and stood up at the same time. The wind whipped my hair and I looked down over the side of one of his fingers. The ground where I had been caught was impossibly far down. He held me up in front of his face and patted the top of my head with his other hand. He was satisfied with his choice and went to join the other chidlren who had chosen their Friends.

"My" boy makes his way over towards the door that they had used to enter this room. He's not really looking where he's going, though, he's too fascinated looking at me in his hand. He's all smiles and his blue eyes are wide and wondering. On the other hand, I'm terrified. Just a few hours ago I was on my way home from college. Now, I'm being held in some 9 year old kid's hand.

The boy is instructed to wait for the rest to make their choices before moving on. I manage to look back towards the arena to see the last of my fellow passengers get grabbed by giant children. I catch a glimpse of a guy from my bio class being cornered by a five year old who immediately sticks him in the pocket of his overalls and run over to the other kids. I see a girl from my freshman comp class very daintily picked up between the thumb and forefinger of a 12 year old and put into her purse. I look over at the other children and their "friends" and see that each child is going to treat their new "friend" in his or her own way. Some of them are thrilled and can't stop touching, poking, prodding and examining. Some have already stuck them into pockets, and I can just see them moving around. Some have very worrying looks on their faces - they can't wait to get back and do things to their new acquisitions.

"My" boy looks kind, and he hasn't done anything yet, but he hasn't loosened his grip either, he wants me to know "you're mine". A man reminds the children of the rules about "little friends" - we can't be traded, bought or sold. We belong to the children now- not their families or their parents. Parents are only supposed to get involved with us if absolutely necessary. We are told that 'friends' who leave their new owners (escape) are fair game for anyone. The children are given boxes for us (kind of a combination porta-john and shower with one on either side). The children are dismissed.

The boy carries me in one hand and the box in the other outside the building. He walks over to his parents.

"Look at my friend!" he tells them and holds me up. They nod approvingly and take the box from him. He walks over to the car and gets in. If I hadn't been told that this was another world, I wouldn't believe it. Except for some of the brand names and that second moon, it's just like Earth.

The boy finally opens his hand and I lay in his palm.

"I'm Joey," he says, "What's a good name for you?"

"I already have a name" I tell him, but he laughs at the suggestion that you can decide anything for yourself.

Joey holds me up and moves his head all around his hand, looking at me from all angles. He occasionally brings a finger up to move my arms or leg or head so he can get a better look. I'm too shocked to do anything but lay there. I'm being held in a kid's hand!!!!

"This is so cool," he says as he looks me over.

He finally starts to pet me with a finger as we continue to drive to his house.

When we make it to the house, he hops out and runs inside. He takes the steps two at a time, and I hold onto his thumb to steady myself. He bursts through at door and holds me up in his hand.

"Here's my room. This is where you'll live," he tells me, very proud of his room. It's a typical boy's room. Bed, dresser (with clothes hanging out of the drawers), small bookcase, toy box and scattered magazines, toys and clothes. He turns his hand so I can see his face.

"I think I'll call you Sam," he says and the decision is made.

"But, my name is...." I begin, but he's moved on, he shows me all of his favorite things at breakneck speed. Luckily for me, he's holding me in a fist again, but the speed at which he moves his hand is breathtaking (literally).

He finally puts me down on his small desk. I am relieved to finally be away from that hand. Joey bends down and puts something on the desk. It's plastic and very nicely decorated (for a nine year old) but I know what it is. It's my cage.

"Here's your house" he says and picks me up again. It's about the size of a hamster cage and there's some toy chairs and what I assume is supposed to be a bed, with a handkerchief for a bed spread. He puts me down inside and looks down into the cage, very contented.

"Welcome home, Sam" he says.

Joey's face appeared over the rectangular opening of my new home. The top was about five feet over my head. I was already making plans on how I would be able to reach it, if he left me alone for any length of time.

His blue eyes looked towards me for some reaction.
"Don't you like it?" he asked, his brow furrowing in confusion. He had obviously worked on this in anticipation of my coming.

"It's fine" I said, trying to sound sincere. He smiled and then reached down towards me. I freaked! It was bad enough sitting in this 'bedroom' that Joey had created, I had looked up and talked with him with his billboard face looming over me, but now he was going to grab me again. I couldn't help myself. I backed up into a corner and put my arms out (what it could do against his huge hand I didn't know). The huge hand continued to descend and then made its way towards me. I was almost like a thing separate from Joey in my mind. All I could think of was staying away from that hand. I moved away along the wall, but it followed me. Finally, it got close enough to where I had nowhere to go.

He gently but firmly got his fingers behind me and pulled me out from against the wall and into his hand. He closed his fingers around me and lifted me out of the box.

He put his hand down on the desk and then opened his hand with me laying in it. He kept his fingers poised, ready to push me back down if I tried to get up, but I was totally demoralized and, honestly, scared. I had no idea what this giant nine year old would do to me. Remembering some kids from home, the answer could range from torture to smothering affection. He lowered his huge face towards me and I had to look away. He brought up a finger from the other hand and pushed my face back towards his. It was only a few feet above me and I could feel him breathing on me.

"You are so cool," he said quietly. He just stared at me for a minute or so, occasionally using a finger to move my head or arm or leg so he could see better. A doorbell rang and Joey's mother called him. He reluctantly put me down on the surface of the desk and got up. He went out of the room and then came back in. With three more kids!

"These are my friends, " he told me from the door. "This is my little friend, Sam," he told them, barely holding them back. He finally stood aside and they rushed over to the desk. They each knelt down by the desk, holding onto the edge with their hands. One was Joey's age, but was taller. He had wavy dark brown hair. One of the others was probably his brother. He also had dark brown hair, but it was a little more curly. He looked to be about 7. The other boy was also about seven or eight and had straight brown hair in a kind of bowl cut.

"Sam, this is Sean, Matt and Ricky" he said pointing them out in the order I just described.

"Whoa, you really did get a little friend,"Ricky said, leaning in closer.

"My cousin's friend had one, "Sean said, "I got to see him once, but I like yours better. He's younger I think."

"You get Little Friends magazine for free now, don't you?" Ricky asked. Joey answered yes and pulled out a copy. It was an actual magazine about these giant kids and their captives from Earth. There were stories about what they did together, ideas for games and pictures. They showed me an article about a boy and his little friend at the beach and another about going off to camp together. I didn't want to even think about something like that.

Finally the question I was dreading came. "Can I touch him?" asked Ricky.

"Sure, you can touch him," Joey said, and I looked at him in confusion and concern.

Ricky immediately reached out and grabbed me while the other three boys looked on. He was holding me too tight, I could barely breathe. I struggled in his grasp, trying to work his finger away from my chest.

"Wow, I can feel him moving around inside my fist. He's so cool," Ricky said, oblivious to my discomfort. He brought me right up to his face so he could see me better. I was so close I had to turn my head to see each eye. He brought a finger from the other hand up and pushed back my hair so he could see my eyes and ears better.

"He's so tiny," Ricky said.

"OK, my turn," said Sean. Ricky reluctantly brought me back down to the desk top. Now I faced Sean. He reached out with a finger first. I backed up, but Ricky put out his hand behind me to stop me backing away from Sean's finger. Once the finger caught up with me, Ricky moved his hand and I fell down. Sean put his finger on my chest. I tried to get up, but he wouldn't let me. I was being held down by one boy's finger. This entertained him to no end, seeing me struggle to get up with his finger holding me down.

Matt was getting impatient, so Sean let him have his turn. Matt was younger and didn't quite get the whole "I'm a person" thing. He scooped me up in his smaller hand (smaller, but still large enough to hold me) and said, "My friend Brian's mouse can hold onto his shirt, can Sam do that?" and tried it. He brought me over to his t-shrirt so I was pressed up against him and let go! I scrambled to gain a hand hold on the material and just barely did. I felt Matt laughing as the shirt I was on bucked.

I took a second to look up and he was looking down at me trying to hold on. I reached for the top of the shirt, thinking I could get a better hand hold. I was able to pull myself up, but then flipped and fell down INTO his shirt! I slid down his chest until I landed where his shirt was tucked into his pants. Thank goodness he did tuck in or else I could have fallen to the floor.

The other boys were yelling at Matt to get me out. First he tried pushing me from the outside. I felt his hand come under me from the outside of the shirt, rolling me back up his stomach. When I got high enough, he reached in with the other hand and pulled me out. I lay, exhausted, on his hand.

"Put him back down now," Joey told him, annoyed with his friend. Matt hesitated for just a second before his brother gave him the eye. I rolled off his hand back onto the desk. Joey herded his friends out of his room, promising that they'd "Get to play another day". Great...

As Joey's friends leave, I didn't know whether to count it as a blessing or not. They were pains, but what would Joey do now that no one else was around? There wasn't enough time to get worried, since his mom called him down to dinner. He came over to the desk and grabbed me. He put me down next to his plate on the huge dining room table. I wasn't used to the fact that everyone on this world knew about little people, so I tried to stay as close to Joey as possible, dodging the occasional roll or glass of milk on the way up to his face, more than 20' above me. He would give me scraps from his plate, but I hoped that this was only temporary, that he'd come up with a better way for me to get meals.

"How's it going with your little friend?" asked Joey's father.

"Fine," he said, "I'm gonna call him Sam. Ricky and Sean thought he was neat, but Matt almost dropped him!"

"Sam's a nice name," his mother said, "But you know you have to be careful with him, even around your friends."

"I know," Joey answered with a sigh. There was more regular family dinner conversation, but I couldn't help but stare at all of them but especially Joey. This kid was more than 10 times my size and he was just a kid! He held me in his hand! The size of everything was totally overwhelming. I was even smaller than his glass of milk! Everything was just like back home, but huge!

Once Joey had finished and asked to be excused, he grabbed me again and we headed back up to his room. He put me down on his desk, near my "room" and the bathroom/shower thing he had gotten from the people who had captured us.

"I have to go take a bath and get ready for bed," he told me, "You wash up too, Sam," he said, trying to sound parental. He got his pj's from under his pillow and left the room. What choice did I have?

The contraption was ingenious, I'll give it that. One side was a normal looking bathroom and the other was a shower with spaces on both size for correctly size towels and toiletries and a small closet which was empty at the moment. Joey would have to add water occasionally and empty the waste, but he had been given disposable containers for that. I guess it would do. There was even a pamphlet about the history of the whole Little People affair and a warning that the doors on both sides would open automatically after 20 minutes. There would be no hiding in here.

As I waited for the water to warm up (there was even a heater for that), I read the pamphlet. It started off with some FAQ and my eyes went right down to the one that I was most curious about - Why were we given to the children? There was no easy answer, but ironically it was thought that we'd be safer with them than with adults. The children were encouraged to think of us at Little Friends rather than toys and it usually worked. The whole Little Friends industry (activity books, magazines, cartoons, sit-coms) was meant to reinforce that concept.

The shower was refreshing, but I had to change back into the same clothes when I was done.

Joey came back in, still drying his hair with a towel. He had changed into a t-shirt and sweat pants. His feet were bare.

"We're going to go shopping tomorrow after school to get you some clothes," he told me. He picked up my "room" (cage) and put it on the table next to his bed. He then came back to the desk, put down the towel and reached for me. I still wasn't used to this so I tried to run.

"Sam, stop that," he said and put out a hand to block me. I turned right around and headed for the pile of pens, pencils, erasers, paper, toy cars, at the back end. I don't know where I was going, I just didn't want to go in that hand again. I slipped on the end of a pencil and went sprawling. I turned over just in time to see his hand approach.

"Joey, please don't," I said as his hand got closer. He just smiled in confusion and lowered his hand on top of me. He held it there for a moment, watching me watch him through the gaps between his fingers. I tried not to move, but I couldn't stand having his soap-smelling hand on top of me. I tried to push his hand off, but it was much too large and heavy for me to move more than a few inches. Joey was amused by that too, but then curled his fingers which went behind me and lifted me up off the desk. He turned his hand over and let his fingers open again. It turned over and looked at Joey. Everything I did was enjoyable to him and he really didn't care what I felt as long as I did what he wanted. In every way just a normal nine year old boy, but one who could hold me on his palm.

We went downstairs and watched some TV. Joey sat on the sofa, I sat on his hand. Finally it was time for him, or rather us to go to bed. He said good night and we went back to his room. He lowered me into the "room" he had made for me and closed the top. He opened it back again and lowered his face as far down as he could. I fell onto the "bed" he had made for me, his nose was just a foot or so above me.

"Good night, Sam" he whispered and then waited.
"Good night Joey," I said, reluctantly. He smiled, put the top back on and got into bed. He switched off the light.

My wonderful new life.

I woke up the next morning very sleepy and confused. At first, all I felt was someone rubbing my back. I was confused, I didn't remember what had happened the day before. I opened my eyes, and all I saw were two huge blue eyes. Then I remembered. Looking up and around, I realized what had gone on. Joey had very carefully lifted my box onto his bed. He opened the top and was petting me with one of his fingers until I finally woke up. He was lying on his side, looking into my box, with one hand propping up his head.

I saw him smile when he saw me wake up. This was his cue that we could play again, and he was anxious to get on with it.

Without even giving me the chance to get up, he scooped me out of "bed" with three fingers and lifted me up and out of the box. He moved the box out of the way and put me down on the bed.

"Hi Sam!" he said, happy that I was up and about.
"Hi Joey" I said with little enthusiasm.

"We can only play a few minutes before I go to school. I can't take you yet, I don't have a carrier, but maybe we can get one this afternoon when we go to get you some clothes and things." I didn't understand what he was talking about, but I was glad that it was a school day and I wouldn't have to spend the whole day with him. I still couldn't get over my predicament. Here I was standing on some kid's bed with his huge billboard sized face looming just ahead of me. And, if I was especially unlucky, he would pick me up again and hold me in his hand.

I looked down the length of him; he was so big compared to me, I could hardly see his feet at the far end of the field he called a bed. And, of course, I was unlucky. He couldn't stand having me just standing there not amusing him, so he picked me up and then stood up. The speed of the two movements left me breathless. I held onto his thumb while he walked over to his shelves to look for something to play with, or rather something else to play with along with me.
"Get on the shelf, Sam" he told me and tilted his hand and opened it, so I lay on his palm. Since my head had been outside of his fist, it was now hanging over the edge. I pulled myself back quickly and looked up at Joey. He was waiting for me to move. I crawled out along his outstretched fingers, trying to look straight ahead and not over the edge. I made the transition from soft fingers to hard shelf and backed up against the books.

Even for me, there wasn't much room between the edge of his books and the edge of the shelf. Every so often on the shelves there was a space with a toy or some toys. Joey finally selected some sports action figures and put them down on the ground one by one. Then he looked at me again.

"So Sam, do you want to be home or away?," he asked and then plucked me off the shelf with two fingers and deposited me on the floor among the figures, right in front of his socked feet. He bent down and started to arrange the figures - they were various baseball players - like they would be one a baseball field. It was strange, having this hand descend and take away what to me were life-sized statues of famous baseball players and have them brought back down again dozens of yards away. Of course, the huge form of Joey, knees constantly bending down and looming over me was a bit out of place as well.

When he had all of the figures placed to his satisfaction, he knelt down on the floor.
"You're up first, Sam" he told me. I guess playing pretend baseball would be safe.

Joey cupped his hand over his mouth and said, "Leading off for the Capital City Kings, Sam" and made crowd noises. "The first pitch - Strike One!" I "swung" at the next "ball" and he announced "oh, foul" Then, I got a "Hit" and raced to first base. I couldn't help watching Joey's hand come down into the field, move the second baseman and then his finger tracing a line to first."Oh, he's out" he said, as his finger got to the base before me. I walked back to my starting place near his knees as he played out the rest of the half inning.

Just before the switch, I heard Joey's mother call him to get ready for school. He left the figures in place and stood up. He got out some school clothes and went to the bathroom. This hadn't been so bad. Maybe it would be tolerable until I could find a way back home. Joey came back into the room, carrying his shorts & t-shirt and wearing a polo shirt and khakis. He put his pj's away in a drawer and bent down under the bed for his shoes. Maybe he'll leave me on the floor. I could explore the house while he was at school - assuming his parents worked-- and look for a way out.

He sat on the bed to put on his shoes and grabbed his backpack from where it hung on one of his bedposts. He stood up and walked towards the door. Just as I thought he would leave, he stopped right in front of me. He bent down and scooped me up again in his open hand. He brought me up to his face and rubbed me on his cheek.
"Bye, Sam, I'll miss you while I'm at school" He then put me back into my sleeping box and closed the lid. He crossed the room,, waved and left. Damn.

I spent the most BORING day of my life in that box. Joey didn't leave me anything to do, not even a book or magazine. I manage to read all the spines of his on the bookcase out of sheer boredom. We would have to come up with a way for me to use the bathroom, too. Finally, I heard him coming up the stairs at the end of school.

He threw his bag down on the bed and came right over to the box.

"How you doing, Sam?" he asked.

"Honestly, I'm thirsty, hungry and really have to GO, if you know what I mean!" I shouted at him.
He looked absolutely mortified.

"Oh, gosh, Sam, I'm sorry," he scooped me up in his palm and brought me over to the module he had gotten from the center. "I'll get you something to eat while you're...busy." he said and ran out of the room. He was as good as his word. There was some lunch meat, a piece of bread (just a corner, of course), some fruit and water. I assuaged my appitite.

"Joey, we've got to talk about this. You can't leave me in there all day."

"I know" he said, "but we'll talk later, we're going to the Friends' store."

"The what"
"The store I told you about. We can get you clothes and stuff there."

Before I even had a chance to prepare myself, he closed his hand around me and brought me downstairs. His mother was waiting and we all went into the car. We drove to a mall and walked inside together. I wanted to hide, even though only my head, shoulders and arms were outside of Joey's hand. I couldn't get used to all these giants around me and seeing me in this boy's hand.

Joey had told the truth; it was a Friend's store. The logo even included a stylized person standing on a hand. Joey's mom gave him some money.

"I know you get 50 credits to spend on your friend, but here's 10 more to get him some extra things." she said.
"Thanks, mom" Joey said and grabbed the money with his other hand.

"Don't forget clothes,"
"I know"

"And plates and cups"

"I know!"

"I'm going to look at some of the sales, I'll be back here for you in 20 minutes."
"Ok mom," Joey said and walked into the store.

There was a parents waiting area in the front with only two parents waiting. Joey walked up to the counter and opened his hand so I was sitting in his open palm.

"I'm Joey King," he said to the young man behind the counter, "this is Sam." He held me up for "inspection".

"Hi, Joey, Hi Sam," the young man said, "I'm Jon. You must have just gotten Sam yesterday. I heard that a boy here in town got a Friend. Ah, yes, here it is. Friend #21432 to Joseph King." He had typed into a small computer to get the information.

"Now, you have 50 free credits to spend on getting things for Sam. Anything else, your family has to pay for."

"I have ten from my mom and I brought five of my own." Joey said proudly, holding up the bills.

"Very good," Jon said, taking the money from Joey and adding it to his total. Jon came out from behind the counter and motioned Joey to follow. He started walking and I had to hold into his thumb for support. We walked through to the sales area. There were shelves and tables all over the store, but themed by item. There were two other kids and their Friends in the store. One girl looked like they were just about done and the other was heading towards sports equipment. Joey did remember what his mother said, and we headed over towards clothes first.

On the table were racks of clothes in all different sizes and two boxes which must be fitting rooms for people my size. Joey put his hand down at the edge of the table and I walked off.

"Go ahead, Sam." he told me, sounding like a patient parent getting their child to go into kindergarten for the first time. I walked through the racks. This was absolutely surreal. I was shopping for clothes on a world of giants and a nine year old boy was going to buy them for me!? I picked out some pants, shirts, t-shirts, underwear, etc. I had no idea how much everything would cost. I went to the changing room and started to try on some of the items I wasn't sure about. About half way through the pile, there was a knock at the door. It wasn't until I opened it that I remembered where I was, but was reminded by Joey's huge fingers holding up some tank tops and shorts.

"Try these on, they're cool," he said. I thought better than to tell him what to do with his things and grabbed them from him. I had just tried on the first combo when he knocked again.

"Let me see you," he said. Again, what choice did I have?
I walked out and saw him standing next to the table, looking me over.
"Do they fit all right?" he asked.
"They're OK," I said.

"Cool, we'll get them, too."
I went back inside and finished trying everything on. I walked out loaded down with more than a dozen things all together. I walked over to Joey.
"Can we get all this?" I asked, skeptically.

He took the things from me and counted them out. They looked so ridiculously small in his huge hand.

"Sure," he said, "and we've still got 20 credits left." He stuffed my small pile into his shirt pocket, picked me up again and went to the next table. There were cups, plates, utensils, etc. here. One of the other Friends was at the table, but her girl was on the other side of the room. I was let go again and got some things for myself. I tried to talk to the other Friend, but he ignored me. I didn't recognize her from my bus. I brought my pile back to Joey and we headed off again. We next went to a sports and outdoor table. I didn't really see anything that piqued my interest. I wasn't a couch potato, and could hold my own in a pick-up game, but sports weren't my thing. I did see a bunch of books and drawing things on another table. Joey was amusing himself bouncing soccer balls and basketballs with one finger. I couldn't believe I was doing this....... I walked over and touched him on the hand. "Joey, could we look at that table?" I asked, pointing to the creative arts and book table. He made a big show of deciding before saying, OK. He took a couple balls and carried me over to the table. I can't believe I just asked a nine year old giant if I could do something!

I took a while looking at the selection. I took some reference books, some fiction, though most of it seemed to involve kids and their Friends, some drawing paper and pencils and erasers.

Joey added this to the pile and then headed towards some shelves at the side of the room.

"Cool, they have some," he said and put me down on the shelf. There were tall boxes on this shelf. I had no idea what they were for. Joey looked them up and down and then picked a red and blue one. He brought it over to me. It had a large strap on the back and a window in the front.
"Try it out" he said.
"Try what out?"

"Your carrier" he said. NO WAY! I backed away.

"What do you mean?"

"I told you, I needed a carrier to bring you to school. You can ride inside." He slid up the front. I was like walking to into a coffin. He held the carrier with one hand and started pushing me towards it with one finger of the other hand.
"Sam, go ahead." he said. He was too strong. I was inside. He let the front slide down. I turned around. It was barely 2x2. He turned it around to face him, smiling all the time.

"Joey!" I yelled, "Let me out" He picked up the carrier and went back to the counter in the front of the store. He laid out all of the things we had chosen and the total came to 64 credits. He got the extra credit back and Jon put the purchases in a bag for Joey. I heard them talking about the carrier. Jon said he liked it and did Joey want to put it on.

Put it on? I heard Joey behind the carrier and then it was picked up and moved down. Finally after much motion, it stopped. I seemed to be at about 1/2 height. Then I knew. The large strap on the back was a belt strap. The carriers were made to be held there. I banged on the sides, but Joey either didn't hear or ignored me. I saw his arm go up to the counter and get the bag. The hand and bag settled into place next to the carrier. We exited the store and met Joey's mom for the trip back "home".


I kept banging on the clear plastic covering the "carrrier" or whatever this damn thing is called. It and I were laying flat on Joey's leg as he sat in the back seat of the car. All I could see was his shirt, the bottom of his chin and, occasionally, his hand as he talked to his mother. I had to get out of here! I couldn't believe that he could put me in this thing and then hang it off of his belt. And, he was going to take me to school in it! I could hardly stand the short car ride, but a whole school day! He wasn't even looking down to see how I was. I was in my place and that's all that mattered to him.

Finally, he looked down at me. His hand went down to the bottom of the carrier, undid a latch and he moved the plastic down with his finger. I immediately stood up. "Joey" I said, "Please don't put me in that...." I didn't get to finish. The car turned a corner and I almost fell off of his leg to the car seat. The hand that had opened my prison came up behind me to steady me. I held onto his index finger to steady myself, but he thought that I was going into his hand, that I wanted to be held, so he moved his fingers back, pushing me into the palm, and closing lightly around me.

"There you go, Sam," he said and then went on with his conversation with his mother about all the cool things he had gotten for me. She nodded and "uh-huh"ed politely at the right places, but he would have carried on even if she hadn't. I tried to push his fingers back open, but they didn't budge.

By the time we got back to his house, he had finished his list and plans and jumped out.

"Go wash up for supper," his mother told him.

"OK," he said and bounded up the stairs, two at a time. Now I really did hold on and want him to hold me tightly in his hand. He put the bag of purchases down on the desk and spilled them out on the top.

"Get your dinner stuff, Sam" he told me as he went out to wash up. I washed up myself and looked for the cup, plate and other things he had bought. At least I wouldn't have to eat with my hands this time. I found them just as Joey came back for me and we had a decent dinner. He was so proud of my new things, both his parents had to keep reminding him to eat his own dinner.

After dinner, Joey had homework to do. First, he put the clothes and books he had bought into my "room" and put the other things on one of his shelves with some of his toys. He put me down on the desk, sat at it and took out his homework.

"Joey, I don't want to stay here while you do that. Let me go rest for a while." No response. I would soon notice that any sentence beginning with "I don't want to...." would not be heard by Joey. I gave the sheet he was working on a cursory glance and then just tried to stay out of his way. This was not as easy as it sounded. Sometimes he would need a pencil, pen, crayon or marker and it always seemed to be in my area. I would be standing or sitting there just minding my own business when all of a sudden The Hand would come speeding towards me. It would then go just to my right or left or go sailing over me as he grabbed the next object.

Joey was not a fast worker and I must have spent an hour on his desk, looking over at his down-turned blonde head and dodging his hand. I thought he was finished, but he took out a book.

"Two whole chapters!" he sighed as he took it out. He leaned back in his chair and propped his socked feet up on the corner of the desk. Maybe finally some peace. Nope.

He held the book in one hand and then started reaching. I thought he might be going for a highlighter or something, but no, it was me. He didn't even wrap his hand around me like he usually did, he just reached over and lowered his hand over me. I was just about knocked to the desk top by his descending hand and was picked up very uncomfortably, my arms and legs sticking out here and there between his fingers, my head pressed up against his palm. When his hand stopped I saw that he wasn't even looking at me, he just wanted something to occupy his hand while he finished his assignment.

He played with me in his hand for a while and then put me down on his leg which was hanging over open space. I turned over, not knowing what was next. He started to push me along, wanting me to walk on his leg to get back onto the desk. This would turn into one of his favorite games. I crawled along until I reached one of his knees. Past his knees, the two legs were intertwined, his feet crossed on the very edge of the desk. I looked back at him, but he only spared me a glance, bringing his finger back up to motivate me to go on. I straddled his bare shin as much as I could and moved myself along slowly with my arms. I reached his sock, just above his ankle, and looked back again. I couldn't stop myself from looking down, too. He motioned me on, and I stood up, holding onto the sock material so I could lean over the desk before getting off of his leg. I did and fell to the desk top.

"Good work, Sam, we both finished at the same time!" Joey said, putting his book away. "Come on, its time to get ready for bed. You have a big day at school tomorrow."

The next morning was very hectic and overwhelming. Joey got me up even earlier than the day before, but instead of playing, he lay out all of the outfits that we had gotten at the Little Friends store and made a big deal out of picking just the right set for me to wear to school. I tried to tell him that I didn't want to go to school with him, that I hated the carrier, but he just went right on tapping his chin and moving the clothes around. Finally, he picked out a matching tank top and shorts pair. I've never really liked tank tops and at least tried to talk him into something else, but he quickly scooped up the rest of the clothes, including the ones I had worn when I had been captured. (we had gotten some sleepwear for me as well). I really didn't want to have that much skin uncovered. It was bad enough to be held by these kids, but at least with long pants and sleeves, I was only touching them with my own hands.

Joey picked up the clothes and handed them to me. "Go get ready, Sam" he said as he went to get his own clothes for school. I grabbed them from him and stomped off to my bathroom. After a shower and shave, I got into the clothes and looked at myself in the small mirror. I looked ridiculous - like some stupid surfer dude. I exited the module and found that Joey was ready as well. At least he got to wear some normal clothes. I looked around for my shoes. I thought I had left them right outside the module.

"Joey, have you seen my shoes?"

"Oh, you won't need them today, Sam. It'll ruin the whole beach look"

"Joey..." I began, but I could see from his determined look that it would be useless to even try to argue with him. I could see the carrier hanging from his belt. I REALLY didn't want to go in there.

"Let's go have breakfast, the bus will be here soon." he said. He picked up his school bag with one hand and laid the other down on the desk for me to step onto. I stepped up, hating the feeling of stepping on his hand with my bare feet; it was like walking on one of those Moonwalk things at the carnival. I wisely sat down and grabbed onto a finger quickly, since he started moving right away.

Right after breakfast, Joey stood up and reached for me. I was quickly settled into the carrier and I banged on the plastic cover with frustration. My view of the world moved as Joey headed out to the bus, walking down to the corner. He kept his hand over the carrier, just to keep assuring himself that it was still there, so for most of the walk, my view amounted to the exciting vista of Joey's palm, the highlights of which I was already very familiar. As he approached his stop, he moved his hand and I could see some other kids standing there, most younger than Joey. His friend Ricky was there and Ricky bent down so he could see me in the carrier. He even tapped on the front once like you'd do to a fish in a bowl (pretty much how I felt). Then the other kids noticed Joey wearing the carrier and started to gather around. Luckly for me, the bus came and they had to break up. Joey sat next to Ricky on the bus and made sure the carrier sat on the top of his leg so they could watch me. All I could do was lay there and look up at their upside down giant faces look back at me.

Joey had to go right into his class when we arrived at school. His teacher noticed the carrier and I could hear a few muffled words through the carrier as he was reminded that I had to stay in except for lunch and recess.

Joey took his seat and I spent the morning either on top of his leg again, looking up at his face, or on the side, looking out at the aisle. When the carrier was laying flat, I could see his arm on his desk, and he would look down at me every so often and smile, but he seemed to be a fairly attentive student, even with me there. When he would move and the carrier would slip down, I could see some of the other kids and the window of the classroom. The one girl right across from Joey wasn't very interested in me, but the boy behind her was positively hypnotized just watching me stand there in the carrier.

I didn't know whether to be relieved or apprehensive when the recess bell rang, and Joey got up to go outside. I could see at least one boy from his class following him closely, even bumping into the carrier once, and I was sure that there would be more. Joey sat down on a low wall and slid up the front of the carrier. He put his hand over the opening and tilted the carrier forward so I fell into his hand. He put me down on the wall next to him. There were about seven or eight other boys and for a while all that I could hear were various versions of "he's so cool, what's his name, what can he do...., etc." At first Joey wouldn't any of them near me, but then his friend Sean came over and must have gotten permission from Joey without my hearing, but he picked me right up, index finger and thumb grabbing my tank top. I kicked for a minute, but then stopped, worried that I'd tear the material and fall. He explained how he had gotten to see me the first day that Joey had gotten me and finally put me down on his open palm. He passed his hand past each of the other boys, and I just lay there. I was pretty sure that Joey wouldn't hurt me, but I couldn't be as sure about any of these other kids. Soon the bell rang and I was time for another couple hours in the carrier.

to be continued

The following was added 12/11/02:
I spent the afternoon in that damn carrier trying to think how I could stay out of it in the future. Maybe if I got loose in school Joey wouldn't be allowed to bring me again. If I could jam something in the plastic front of the carrier, something too small for Joey to see, I could slide it up just enough to slide out. Then Joey would get in trouble and I wouldn't have to suffer like this again. I'd even spend the day in the cage he made for me rather than this coffin.

After school, Joey was walking home, but he didn't take me out until after we got back into his room. He learned from the last school day and put me down right by the module so I could use the facilities, though he told me that there was one at school if I needed it. Joey was the only one in the school with a Little Friend, but most public places have facilities of both sizes, just in case.

I hoped that I would be able to relax, but I heard Joey's mom call, "Honey, you need to leave for practice in a few minutes."

"I know," I heard Joey call back. He came back into his room (I'd be damned if I'd call it OUR room) and had changed into some kind of uniform. Both the shirt and shorts were blue. He crossed to his closet and brought out a ball, about the size of soccer ball, for him of course. It had different markings than one on earth, but once he strapped on his cleats, I was pretty sure that was what he was going to play. Have a good time, I thought, hoping to have some time on my own. One of the most frustrating things about this whole experience was not being able to be alone. Joey always wanted me with him, at meals, watching TV, at school now. The only time I had to myself was when I was showering or sleeping. And even sleep could be cut short if Joey wished.

"Come on, Sam" Joey said, reaching for me.

"Joey, let me stay here, I don't want to go," I said, but he grabbed me nevertheless. He held me in one hand and the ball in a bag with other equipment slung over the opposite shoulder. He walked about two blocks to a local park. He met up with the rest of his team. I was appalled to see Sean there. I hope there wouldn't be a repeat of his lunchtime grabbing of me.

"Joey, your Little Friend might get hurt; you'll have to find someone to watch him or take him home," the coach told Joey. Home, home, I prayed. Joey looked around and then started walking over to some benches. It wasn't until after Joey fully turned that I saw where he was going and groaned. Sean's brother Matt was sitting on one of the benches. Matt wasn't on the team, but had to come to practice with Sean because their parents wouldn't be home until after practice. He saw Joey approaching with me and brightened considerably. Joey held out the hand holding me.

"Can you watch Sam during practice?" Joey asked.

"Sure!" Matt gushed and held out his hand. I looked back at Joey, knowing that nothing I said would change his mind and I was right. He opened his hand and I fell a foot or so onto Matt's open hand. He was a little younger than Joey, so the hand was smaller and a little more pudgy. I still hadn't changed and still hated the feeling of my bare legs, feet and arms on his hand. I saw Joey jog back to his team and then looked up at Matt. He was thrilled to have his own Little friend, even just for an hour.

"Hi Sam," he said, putting his hand right up to his face.

"Hi Matt," I said, just laying there, not believing that at this moment I wanted to see Joey more than anything else.

"Do you want to watch the guys practice?" he asked.

"Sure," I said, pleased to be asked something for a change. Matt brought his thumb down on top of me and walked a few feet towards the edge of the field. He sat down, crossed his legs and put me down on one knee. The game looked a lot like soccer, but the nets didn't touch the ground; they were rectangular, but the goal stopped about a foot off the ground. There seemed to be a lot more heading of the ball to make up for this.

Joey wasn't the star of the team, but he seemed to be playing well.
Since this was practice and not an actual game, there were bursts of play and then review of strategy and times just for practicing moves. During the short scrimage sessions, Matt was enthralled and left me alone, but once the team was practicing or talking to the coach, he got bored and needed something to occupy him. That something was me. At first, it was 'just' petting, which I hated, but then he picked me up upside down, dangling me by one leg.

"Matt!" I screamed as he giggled.

During the next break, he put me on top of his head and turned it this way and that while I held on. Then he threatened to put me down his shirt like he had done accidentally when Joey first showed me to him. Luckily, the scrimage started again and he put me back down on his knee.

I couldn't stand it anymore. I spotted Joey's bag back by the bench. I would go wait by his stuff. The play was getting exciting and Matt was looking way down the field. I slipped off his knee, not daring to look up and see if he was watching. I ran behind him and then started running towards Joey's bag. I stood by it, alternately watching Matt and Joey.

Once play stopped again, I saw Matt look down and then look around in a panic. He got up and looked around for a few minutes. I was happy, that kid was really annoying.

"Sam!" he yelled, "Joey, I can't find Sam!" Joey immediately went to the sidelines. I heard them arguing. Matt was getting frantic and Joey wasn't far behind. Good. Maybe if I can't get away, I can get these kids to treat me right. After another few minutes I decided to put Joey out of his misery. I walked out from under the bench and started jumping up and down. Matt spotted me just a second before Joey. He started to walk towards me, but Joey stuck out an arm to stop him.

Joey was walking over towards me, and I didn't like the look on his face. This kid was pissed! Not worried, well maybe a little, but mainly seriously pissed. I wanted to go back under the bench and was about to when Joey's shadow blocked the sun and I realized I had better stay where I was. He stopped right in front of me, his sneakers just a few feet from me. I looked up at this huge boy and really started to worry.

"Sam!" he snapped. I shaded my eyes and leaned back to look up at his face, trying to get a read on what he wanted to hear. He bent down, his knees hanging over my head and grabbed me. He was holding me tighter than I had ever been held before. He took a step and lowered me to the bench, not slamming me down, but not far from it. His hand opened and withdrew and he knelt down, his face almost level with me but still above.

"Sam, what were you thinking?" he said.

"Matt wouldn't leave me alone," I said, realizing it was a pretty feeble excuse, but it was true.

"If you run away, anyone can take you, anyone," he said, reminding me of the orientation lecture.

"Joey, I..." I started.

"No," he said, "We're going home." He stood up, grabbed his bag, then me. He shoved me in a pocket and I sat at the bottom, wondering what else I could do to make my situation worse.

When we got back to Joey's house, I heard him talk to one of his parents for a moment and then I felt him walking upstairs. After a few more steps he stopped and his hand entered the pocket, reaching for me. It wrapped around me, lifted me out and deposited me on Joey's desk.

"Sam, I don't understand.." Joey said, sitting down on his chair and leaning on the desk.

"Joey, I'm a real person. I'm not a toy, I'm not a pet. I can get hurt, I could die if someone isn't careful. Matt was treating me like a toy that he didn't care if he broke," I said, just getting started, "I want to go home. I want to see my family again. I want to decide for myself when to eat, when to go to bed. I want my life back."

Joey just looked at me for a minute. To him the Little Friends were a fact of life, something that had always been around. To me, it was a horrible nightmare.

"I don't think you can go home," Joey said, "I've never heard of a Little Friend leaving."

"Don't you know how that makes me feel?" I said, "What if you never saw your parents again?"

"But I'm here to take care of you," Joey countered, but from his tone, I'm not sure if he really believed it any more.

"But you're also here to play with me, to take me to school when I don't want to go, to put me in that carrier all day where I can't move..."

"I thought we were friends," Joey said, beginning to really sound hurt. Oh damn, I just wanted to make him understand.

"I thought we could do things together, that you'd like me. I always dreamed of having a Little Friend and I promised myself I'd be the best Big Friend I could be," he said, lowering his head to his hands. I walked over to his hand and put my tiny one on it.

"Joey, friends talk to each other and listen. Real friends take each other's feelings into consideration. Real friends understand when they disagree. Things don't just come down to who's...bigger," I said.

He raised his head again. It was right in front of me and I was even with his huge blue eyes.

"You don't hate me?" he said.

"I hate what's happened to me. You didn't do it to me, you just got me." I said, hoping he understood the difference.

"So you won't run away again?" he asked. "I do understand what could happen. If I could find a way home that I was sure could get me there then yes. Until I hear of or find a way," I sighed, "No Joey, I won't try to run away." He smiled.

I'd like to say that everything was fine after that, but I can't. Joey did understand a little. He spent the next couple of days trying to make things easier for me. We even worked together or some of the projects. We rigged up an 'elevator' with a pulley so I could get from the desk to the floor when I wanted and not just when Joey picked me up and put me down on the floor. Some of the new features were for his benefit, too. We rigged up a ladder from the desk to Joey's bed so at night I could go back to my 'room' myself without his having to get out of bed.

A few days after that, I was in Joey's room when I heard the phone ring. After that, there was a lot of talking and crying. I didn't know what was going on. About an hour later, Joey came into his room, his eyes red from crying.

"Joey, what's wrong?" I asked.

" died," he said, tyring to hold back tears.

"Oh, Joey, I'm so sorry," and I was. I remembered what it was like when my grandmother died, and I was older than Joey when it happened. Joey walked over to his bed and flung himself down. He grabbed and pillow and put it under his chest while he rested face down.

"I used to stay at her house all the time before we moo...mooo..moved," he sobbed. "We did lots of things together. We may...made cookies and..." Joey said, not able to finish.
Now I never spent a lot of time around kids, but if there was one thing that I couldn't take, it was a kid crying. With a sigh, I walked to the edge of the desk and down the ramp that Joey had constructed. It met the baseboard of his bed and I hopped down onto the bed. Joey was lying with his head at the foot of the bed and I walked over to him. He had put his head down on the pillow and was facing away from me.

For only the third time, I touched Joey of my own choice. I put my tiny hand on his arm.

"I'll be OK," I said. He turned his head towards me. I told him about my grandmother and how much I had loved her and how much I missed her, but I also told him about all the good memories I had. He smiled a little. I walked over to the side of his face and gave it as much of a hug as I could.

"Thanks, Sam," he said. He put a hand out to me. He was actually giving me the choice. For once, I went into his hand on my own. I sat down in his palm and let him pet me. For a long time we just sat there. Later on, he cried again and held me pretty tight, but I think just being there helped. At one point, he forgot I was there and wiped his eyes with the hand I was in.

After a while, he dropped off to sleep and wonder of wonders, his hand opened up. I slipped off of his palm and went to my own bed.

The next day Joey thanked me again.
"Joey, I'd much rather be your little friend than your Little Friend," I said, hoping he'd catch the difference. I think he was beginning to.

I've been with Joey almost three months now. It's getting close to their Winter Holiday and Joey's having a ball picking out gifts for me. He regresses some times, especially when Ricky or Sean come over, but it's almost tolerable right now.

I'm always looking for a way home and I'll never stop hoping that I'll get there some day, but for now, its OK.

(this part is finished for now, but there will be more eventually, according to the author!)