Our Little Vacationby Big Thinker
Fun, sun, and romance; that’s what the brochure promised. Sure, it wasn’t bad the first day, but then came the rain. Then when it had rained for three days straight, it rained some more. We were staying in a cabin at this little resort by the lake. Me, my best friend Kyle, and our girlfriends Shauna and Maggie were all trapped in a small little cabin with nothing to do.
“This is soooo boring,” complained Kyle.
“You’re the one who was too cheap to spring for a cabin with cable,” said Maggie.
“Quit whining,” I said. “It’s not gonna improve the situation.”
“You promised we’d have a good time,” said Shauna. “So far we’re not.”
“I wanted to swim and work on my tan,” said Maggie. “Now my skin’s gonna be paler than when got here.”
“I can’t help your tan, but if you want to swim the lake is right outside,” I said.
“We’re not gonna go swimming in the rain,” said Shauna.
“Why not?” I said, standing. “Me and Kyle will.”
“We will?” said Kyle.
“Yeah, we will,” I said. Kyle and me changed into our swim trunks and stepped out onto the porch.
“You girls sure you don’t want to come?” I asked.
“No way,” said Shauna.
“This is so stupid,” Maggie said.
“Come on Kyle,” I said. We ran down and jump off the pier into the lake, with the rain pouring down hard on us.
“God its cold!” exclaimed Kyle.
“Don’t be a wuss,” I said. The girls watched from the porch laughing as me and Kyle got into a splash fight in the water.
“Come on, Shauna,” I shouted. “Get your butt down here.”
“No way,” she called back.
“Hey, Dan,” Kyle said. “Maybe we ought to go back in. It looks like it might start lightning.”
“No its not, quit worrying so much.”
“I’m serious.” At that moment a flash of blinding light filled my vision and a shocking pain surged through body!
My body went numb and I couldn’t move as I felt myself spiraling downward, and downward. The world around me faded away and I saw nothing but darkness. Was I dying? No, I could still feel my heart beating. The sensation of falling lasted for what seemed like hours. At last I hit bottom. It felt like I’d fallen off a twenty-story building onto the sidewalk.
“Dan?” I heard a weak voice say. I painfully turned my head to see Kyle lying next to me.
“What happened?” I was barely able to say.
“Lightning struck the lake,” he said.
“Are we dead?”
“I don’t know.”
“You’re not dead, tiny ones,” I heard a booming voice say.
We heard a loud noise as the ceiling above us slid away revealing the face of giant man above us.
“Ahhhhh!” Kyle and I screamed, in fear and shock.
“I hate it when they scream,” said another giant, appearing above us.
“Please calm down,” said the first giant.
“Remove them from the chamber and take them to the holding area,” said the other.
“Yes sir,” said the giant, putting on a pair of rubber gloves. He reached down and… OH MY GOD! He was going to pick us up! This mammoth person was going to pick us up and hold us in his enormous hands.
“NO!” I screamed.
“Help!” Kyle screamed. “Somebody help us!”
We both scrambled to get away from the giant hands that were descending on us, but the room was small and he had us backed against the wall. In what seemed like slow motion the gigantic fingers wrapped around me and I was engulfed inside the giant’s hand. I was lifted up out of the room and the man put both his hands together and cupped Kyle and me in them together.
“Not need to be afraid,” said the giant. “You’ll be briefed on what’s happened to you.” I couldn’t believe this. Kyle and me couldn’t have been more than four inches tall to this man. He appeared to be in his late thirties, and was wearing a white lab coat like a scientist. In everyway this man appeared normal, but he was impossibly large.
The man carried us what seemed like a large distance before depositing us in a glass container on a countertop. Kyle and me walked up to the glass walls and looked out at amazing scene around us. We were in some kind of laboratory and everywhere giants in lab coats were working.
“Wait here,” said the giant.
“What’s going on?” said Kyle. “This can’t possibly be real.”
“Looks pretty real to me,” I said.
“How did we get this small?”
“Are we small, or are they big?”
Over us a shadow loomed. We looked up to see a beautiful giant woman with dark hair and glasses. She smiled down at us.
“Hi,” she said. Kyle and me just stared. She reached down to pick us up and we both freaked again. She grabbed Kyle and then backed me into a corner. What I found most frightening were her long red fingernails. She lifted us out and sat us on the counter before seating herself on a stool.
“My name is Doctor Melissa Dawson,” said the giantess. “You’re probably wondering what’s happened to you.”
“Y-yeah,” I said, still frightened. She looked down and smiled at me again.
“No reason to be scared, little man,” she said. “What’s happened to you is actually quite common. At least here on my world.”
“As you’re probably aware the two of you were struck by lightning. But it wasn’t normal lightning. It’s a cosmic occurrence that causes a rip in the fabric of space-time and opens a vortex, a doorway, to another dimension,” she said. “Essentially the two of you have been sucked into another world.”
“How’s that possible?” said Kyle.
“I’m afraid the scientific jargon would be lost on you,” she said. “It would be lost on people from any world, except mine. You see, through our studies of inter-dimensional phenomenon we discovered that our dimension acts kind of like a hub, which all other dimensions spiral around and towards. That’s why the vortexes always lead here instead of somewhere else.”
I looked at Kyle. He didn’t get any of what she was saying either.
“Next, you’re probably wondering why you’re this size,” Melissa said.
“You could say that,” I said, nervously.
“Well, we’re not quite sure why,” she said. “It’s a side-effect of the inter-dimensional travel, but we don’t really know what causes it. The same thing happens to all travelers, regardless of which dimension they’re from. And more than likely the same thing would happen to us if we were to go to your world.”
I looked at Kyle again. We were both speechless.
“Next,” she said. “The hardest part. I have to answer the question you’re probably wondering most: can you go home. I’m afraid the answer is no.”
“Never?” I said.
“The phenomenon that brought you here is not something we can duplicate. There’s no way to send you back.” I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. We were going to be stuck on this world of giants, no more than four or five inches tall, forever?
“But its not as bad as it sounds,” Melissa said. “Little people have been appearing here for centuries. In recent years we’ve began to unravel the mystery of how they come here. We’ve built machines like the one you appeared in that allow us to control where the vortex dumps the little people. We’ve even developed programs to care for the little people. You have nothing to worry about.”
I looked at Kyle; he had the same distraught look I knew I had on my face.
“I know this is a lot to deal with right so quickly,” she said. “I’ll take you to a room where you can rest and then we’ll see about getting the two of you assigned a caretaker.” She reached down and picked us up, and this time we didn’t resist.
She carried us to a white room with dozens of countertops. On each were small boxes or cubicles, which were in reality rooms our size. We were placed in one together with two beds and a table and chairs. The room had no ceiling and the only way out was to be lifted out. For a long time me and Kyle sat without talking.
“This is crazy,” I said, breaking the silence.
“It’s your fault,” said Kyle.
“It’s your fault this happened,” he said, standing. “It was your idea to go swimming in the middle of a storm, and it’s your fault we were struck by lightning.”
“What happened to us could have happened to anybody,” I said, defensively.
“Anybody swimming in a lake in the middle of a storm.”
“You didn’t have to go,” I said. “Nobody made you.”
“You made me, just like you make me do everything you want. I’ve went along with every stupid idea you’ve ever had, and look at where it’s got me,” he said.
“Gee, it’s nice to know what my best friend really thinks about me,” I said.
“The truth hurts.”
“So does my fist,” I said.
“You want to start something?” he said.
“Maybe I do,” I said, getting up in his face. He took a swing at me, but I ducked and tackled him down. I punched him in across the face and he brought his knee up into my stomach. I got him in a headlock, but he rammed me up against the wall and knocked the breath from me.
“That’s enough,” snapped a giant voice. It was Melissa. “What do you two think you’re doing?”
“Nothing,” I said.
“Nothing,” said Kyle.
“I don’t know what this is about, but it’s not my problem,” Melissa said. “I’ll let your caretaker worry about it.”
“Caretaker?” said Kyle.
“Yes,” she said. “He’ll be the one taking care of you. We try to match you up as well as we can. Since you two are teenagers I’ve gotten you assigned to a college student a little older than you.”
“You mean kind of like a foster care type thing?” I said.
“Basically,” she said. “He’ll be in charge of you from now on. It’ll be his job to make sure all of your needs are met. He’ll be here soon.”
(Below was added 12/30/02:)
What if we don’t like him?” asked Kyle.
“He’s a very nice young man. He’s a junior at a very prestigious university near here,” she said. “He’s been on the waiting list for some time. I’ve been waiting for just the right match-up for him, and I believe you’re it.”
“Do we have any choice in the matter?” I asked.
“You must have a caretaker,” she insisted. “That’s just the way things are done here. Taking care of little people is a very privileged tradition on this world.”
“But what if this guy isn’t the one we want?”
“If he feels you’re not a correct match he can return you and we’ll find you a more suitable arrangement.”
“If he feels that way? What if we feel that way?” said Kyle.
She sighed and said, “I’m sorry, but here, little people are like children. You don’t have a lot of rights. That just how it is.”
“So if we don’t like this dude we’re stuck with him forever?” I said.
“Little people are only removed from their caretakers under drastic circumstances.”
“Like if he abuses us or something,” Kyle said with disdain in his voice.
“That won’t happen,” she assured us. “I honestly think your going to like this young man.”
“This sucks,” I said.
“I’m sure you’ll adjust in time,” Melissa said. “I have to get back to work.”
She left and Kyle and me returned to our silence. An hour or two passed and I just sat there. I wondered what the girls had thought when we’d disappeared, and how lucky they’d been that they’d been too smart to listen to me. Kyle was right; what had happened was my fault. He was also right about him always going along with every stupid idea that came into my head. I wanted to apologize to him, but he was off in his own thoughts, and I didn’t want to disturb him.
Another hour passed and Melissa returned. She carried with her a clear plastic container with a handle. She gathered us up and placed us in it. We were carried through the building to a large circular desk in a lobby. All around we saw giants of every shape and age; caretakers receiving their little people. To the left of us I saw a giant man handing a clear case with a guy a little older than me in it. I couldn’t hear him, but he looked to be screaming his head off.
“I guess not everybody adjusts as good as us,” I said. Kyle ignored me.
He was looking up at the young guy who’d walked up to the desk in front of us. He looked to be about twenty, with dark brown hair, and deep blue eyes.
“Hello, Darien,” said Melissa.
“Hi, Doctor Dawson,” he replied.
“Well, here they are,” she said to him, handing him the container.
He looked down at us and smiled. Part of me wanted to smile back just to be friendly, but I couldn’t.
“Hey,” he said. “I’m Darien.”
“I’m Dan,” I said. “This is Kyle.” He smiled again and sat the container on the desk.
“Do I need to sign anything?” he asked Melissa.
“Just these two forms,” she said. She handed him the two papers and he signed. “You’ll need to bring them back in a week for a physical, but for now you’re good to go.”
“Thanks,” he said.
Melissa looked down at us and said, “Bye.” With that we left.
In the car Darien sat us in the back seat and I spent most of the ride staring up at the back of his head. So this guy was our new caretaker, huh? I was already beginning to hate that term, “caretaker”. Why didn’t they just come out and say owner?
I kept looking at Darien and wondering what was I? How would he see me? As his pet? As some kind of adopted son? Would he treat us well? Would he care about us? Why did he want to be a caretaker?
The drive only took about forty-five minutes, but I realized that in our terms we must have traveled a few hundred miles. When we got out of the car I was a little confused. I had thought we were going back to where Darien lived, but we were outside the gates of what looked like some kind of western theme park. Darien brought the container up to his face and told us this was it.
“You live in a theme park?”
“Theme park?” he laughed. “Its hardly that. All this is a cheap little tourist trap. Come on, I’ll shoe you my place.”
He carried us through the main street of the town, and sure enough, all around us was what appeared to be an authentic western town. At least it was if you ignored all the kids and tourists running everywhere taking pictures. It was unnerving to see all those giants dashing about everywhere. Darien carried us around back the saloon where he unlocked a door at the bottom of a flight of stairs. At the top of the stairs he unlocked another door, revealing a small one-room apartment.
“This is our place,” he said. “It’s not the nicest place in town but it's okay, and inexpensive.”
Next to Darien’s bed there was an oak cabinet about as tall as a refrigerator. He opened the wooden door and then another glass one. The top half was like someone had taken one wall off a four-story house to look inside. Each story was one big room, each of which was furnished differently. There was no kitchen and the bathroom was just a toilet and a large tub in one corner of the bottom story. It was all connected by stairways. The bottom half of the cabinet consisted of several drawers. Basically what we were looking at was a dollhouse.
Darien took us out of the container and put us both in the top story. From one of the drawers he took out two blue jump suits and handed them to us. I just then realized that Kyle and I had been in our swim trunks the whole time.
“Thanks,” I said, even though I was thinking how much the jump suits looked like prison uniforms.
“I’ll let you guys rest,” he said. “I know you’ve had a hard day.” He shut the wooden door leaving us alone. The room we were in was I guess supposed to be the living room. All it had were four sofas sitting around a large square coffee table. I noticed that the floor was glass. I walked down the stairs to explore the rest of the place.
The next floor down was the dining room. There was a large table and chairs and couple of easy chairs off to one side. The next room down was the bedroom, which consisted of a king sized bed, two nightstands, and a dresser. I wondered since there was only one bed if Darien had been expecting only one little person, or if he expected us to sleep in the same one. That wouldn’t be any big deal; Kyle and me have been friends since we were born and have slept in the same bed plenty of times growing up. Besides, one of us could just sleep on the couch anyway. I knew that’s what would happen with Kyle as mad as he was.
The bottom was filled with miscellaneous stuff- a treadmill, a small weight bench, a pool table, a card table, a desk, and several other things. It was also where the bathroom was located. The toilet and the tub were in one corner with no walls separating them from the rest of the room. That combined with the glass floors showed that whoever designed this thing hadn’t had privacy in mind. But I guess privacy’s a right, and Melissa said we didn’t have any rights anymore.
“I’m sorry, okay,” I said. “I know it was my fault this happened to us.”
He was silent.
“I’m sorry I got us into this,” I said.
“It’s not all your fault,” he said. “You couldn’t have known this would happen.”
“Still, it was a stupid thing to do.”
“Let’s forget about that,” he said. “Whatever’s happened we're in it together.”
“So, we cool?” I asked.
“We cool,” he said. The cabinet door opened and Darien looked in at us.
“Hey,” he said. “I was gonna go down to the café for dinner. You two feel like coming?”
I looked at Kyle but didn’t say anything.
“Or if you don’t feel like coming I can always bring you something,” Darien said.
“No,” said Kyle. “It’s fine, we’ll come.”
Darien picked us up. I expected him to place us back in the plastic container, but he chose to carry me in one hand and Kyle in the other. I can’t even describe how weird it was being held by him. His hands were warm and slightly damp. I could actually feel the muscles and veins in them. I could even faintly hear his pulse.
When we got outside it was beginning to get dark, and the tourists had thinned out. Darien walked around the building to the front of the saloon. Inside was a western themed diner with all the waitresses in cowgirl dresses.
“This place may look ridiculous, but their burgers are great,” said Darien.
Darien sat down at a table for one with an identical miniature table for us. A waitress in a ten-gallon hat came up to take our order.
“What’s up, Darien?” she asked, ruining the cowgirl persona. “Who they?”
“That’s Kyle and Dan,” he said.
“They belong to you?”
“Yeah. They just appeared today,” he said.
“So, what’ll you be having?”
“I’ll be having a burger and an order of onion rings,” he said. “What do you two want?”
“That sounds good,” said Kyle.
“Me too,” I said. I wondered how big the portions would be. The waitress wrote down our order and walked off back towards the kitchen.
“The food here’s really great,” said Darien. “I eat here a lot.”
“Really,” I said.
“Tomorrow we’ll go over to my parents for dinner,” he said. “I didn’t call and tell my family, so you’ll be a big surprise.”
“You have a big family?” I said. The irony of the statement didn’t hit me till after it was said.
“Yeah, I’m the oldest of six kids,” Darien said. “So, what do you two think of your rooms?”
“It’s nice,” I said, trying to sound sincere.
“It was just delivered yesterday,” he said. “I still need to get a second bed and some carpets. Oh, and we’ll need to rig up something to add a little more privacy to the bathroom.” Good, he did care about that kind of stuff.
The waitress returned with our orders. She placed Darien’s gigantic order in front of him before putting ours down on the table in front of us. Like Melissa she wore long nails, which were really freaky to see coming towards you.
“So, you told Melinda then?” asked the waitress.
“No, she’s visiting her parents. She won’t be back until tomorrow,” said Darien.
“So she doesn’t know, huh?”
“She’s knows I was on the waiting list to be a caretaker,” he said.
“Good luck,” she said, before going back to her waitress duties.
“What did she mean ‘good luck’?” asked Kyle.
“Having little people is like having kids,” said Darien. “It can put a serious strain on a relationship.”
“Sorry to hear that.”
“Melinda won’t mind,” he said.
We didn’t say much the rest of dinner. When we got back to the room Darien put us back in the cabinet and then provided us with pajamas to sleep in.
“Goodnight,” he said, and shut the door. A moment later the lights went out and Kyle and me were left in the dark.
“You feel like sleeping?” I asked.
“Are you kidding?” he replied.
“So this is our new life, huh?”
“I guess,” he said. “Could be worse. I can’t think of how at the moment, but I’m sure it could be.”
“Darien seems okay,” I said.
“Yeah, I guess we could’ve done worse,” he said. “But did you listen to him and that waitress. She asked if we ‘belonged’ to him, and he said yes.”
“I don’t think that’s how it was meant,” I said.
“Face it, the guy’s our master now,” said Kyle. “He owns us and there’s nothing we can do about it.”
“We don’t know that’s how he thinks,” I said.
“How else could he think? We’re so small and fragile, and he’s so powerful,” Kyle said. “What would you do if you knew you could crush another human being in your hand? Can you imagine how intoxicating that power would be?”
“I don’t know,” I said. “I never really thought about.”
“Yeah, well, I have,” said Kyle.
“What do you mean?”
“You don’t remember. It was too long ago and we were both just kids,” he said.
“What don’t I remember?”
“You always told me he ran off with some woman after he and your mom split.”
“That part is true,” he said. “But you don’t know the rest. My dad was a drunk, Dan. He used to come home and beat me and my mom at least three times a week.”
“No way,” I said. “I would’ve known.”
“I hid it from you, Dan,” Kyle said. “You were such a dopey self-involved kid you never noticed. Besides, it was a long time ago.”
“What does this have to do with now?”
“When I was a kid I used to always stay low to the ground, hoping my dad wouldn’t notice me,” he said. “He always looked so big from that angle.”
“Like a giant?” I said, catching on.
“Yeah,” Kyle said. “My dad got a real kick out of beating on people smaller and weaker than him. It made him feel like a big man. What if Darien’s the same way?”
“He hasn’t shown us any reason to think that he is,” I said. “He’s not like your dad. He’s a good giant.”
“I used to dream about a good giant,” he said. “He was always dressed in white, kinda like an angel. And he was always bigger than my dad. In my dreams the giant would show up whenever my dad would find me, and save me before my dad could lay a finger on me. He would take me away to where the sky was really blue, and we’d play together.”
“That’s sounds really beautiful,” I said. It was all I could think to say. My best friend had just spilled his guts and revealed this really deep part of him, and I was at a loss for words. “Why couldn’t Darien be that giant?”
“That giant doesn’t exist,” he said.
“What makes you so sure?”
“Because, in the real world, only the bad giant ever appeared. The good one never came to rescue me. I learned along time ago that there are more bad giants than good ones out there.”
“I never your felt that way,” I said.
“I know it seems stupid. After all, it was just a kid’s fantasy, but I really believed in that giant angel. The only time I ever felt safe back then was when I would dream about him. I even used to pray God would send him to help me whenever my dad would go into one of his rages.”
I felt like my heart was being ripped in two hearing this story.
“I’m ready to sleep now,” said Kyle.
“You take the bed, I’ll take the couch,” I said.
“Fine by me,” he said. “Goodnight.”
“Hey, wait a sec,” I said. “Can I ask you something?”
“You still dream of that good giant?”
“Only when I need to.”
TO BE CONTINUED...
I slept on and off through the night, but never for very long. Can you blame me? Morning finally came and the lights in the cabinet came on. I looked down through the glass floor and saw that Kyle still slumbered. I walked down to the bedroom, but hesitated to wake him. I didn’t have to.
The cabinet door opened and Darien was there. Kyle sat straight up in bed, startled. After a moment he slumped back down, remembering the previous day.
“Morning,” said Darien. He opened the glass door and handed me and Kyle two new jump suits. “I promise we’ll get you some actual clothes later today.”
“Are we going somewhere?” I asked.
“I have to go to class.”
“Are we coming with you?” Kyle asked.
“Sorry, no little people allowed,” said Darien. “I’ll have to leave you at the care center.”
“I guess, sort of,” he said.
“Can’t we stay here?” I asked.
“I can’t leave you guys alone, it’s against the law,” Darien said. “But I’m sure you’ll like it. You’ll get to meet other little people.”
This was definitely good. It would give us a chance to learn more about this whole caretaker situation.
“Be ready in five minutes,” said Darien, shutting the door again.
“Yes, Daddy,” said Kyle sarcastically.
We changed into the jump suits and awaited Darien’s return. When he came back he picked us each up in one hand and carried us out of the apartment. Once in his car he sat us in the gigantic passenger seat and drove a short distance. The windows were too high for us to see over, but when we got out we saw a red brick building. On the front of the building was a sign that said “Little Treasures Care Center.” Kyle looked at the sign and rolled his eyes.
Inside the building Darien stepped up to the front desk and sat us on the countertop. A young girl about our age walked up and smiled. She was blonde with tan skin and blue eyes. She was hot… at least she would have been if she were a few hundred tons lighter.
“Hi,” she said. “I’m Rosie.”
“I’m Darien Chambers,” said Darien.
“Oh, yes, we spoke on the phone this morning,” said Rosie. “These must be Kyle and Dan.”
“Yes,” said Darien.
“Just sign here,” she said, sliding him a form. Darien signed it and said he’d be back for us at two.
“Bye, guys,” he said.
“Alright, boys,” said Rosie, “I’ll take you back to the recreation area.” She carried us through the door behind her. Her skin was softer than any hand that had held us before, and unlike the other females we’d encountered she didn’t have long nails.
“Here you go,” she said, sitting us down on a rectangular table. The table was long and lined the side of a wall. The other side was lined with a railing about a head shorter than me. In the center of the wall were two doors, one blue and one red.
“Go on,” Rosie coaxed. “Check-out the blue room.” Kyle and I walked through the blue door. We entered a large white room the size of a football field. In one corner of the room was a group of couches seated in front of an enormous television. In another was an indoor pool with plastic furniture and tables all around it. The third corner was home to an arcade. There were dozens of video games, pool tables, ping-pong tables, air hockey, and dartboards. The final corner was home to a basketball court, where a group of guys were playing. The other corners were also occupied, but I noticed one thing was missing.
“Where are all the chicks?” I asked.
“I don’t know,” said Kyle. A guy a few years older than us was lounging against the wall near the entrance. When he heard us he walked up to us.
“You must be newbies,” he said.
“Yeah,” I said. “I guess we are.”
“My name's Cory,” he said, extending his hand. “I was vortexed when I was twelve.”
“Vortexed?” I said, shaking his hand.
“That’s what we call it. When we get sucked into the portal and brought here.”
“How long ago was that?” asked Kyle.
“Seven years,” Cory said.
“It must have been tough for you, having it happen when you were that young,” I said.
“It isn’t a picnic for anybody,” he said. “Of course I didn’t exactly make it easy on the giants either. I had five placements decide they didn’t want me before I got my current masters.”
My heart sank.
“Masters? You mean caretakers, don’t you?” said Kyle.
“Don’t buy into that caretaker crap,” Cory said. “That’s their word for it. The truth is all we are to them is pets, and they’re our masters.” I couldn’t believe how casually he said it.
“Doesn’t anyone ever try to do something about it?” said Kyle.
“What are we suppose to do? Bite one of them on the foot?” said Cory. “There’s nothing we can do. But cheer up; it ain’t such a bad life. You don’t work, you don’t have to go school, and you get your room and board free. It’s only really bad when some of your masters are kids. Then it can be a real nightmare. That a problem for you two?”
“No, it isn’t,” I said.
“Then you should be fine,” Cory said.
“Cory Winters, your caretakers are here to pick you up,” Rosie’s voice came over a loud speaker.
“Sorry, that’s me. See you two newbies later,” he said. He turned to leave, but then turned back. “Oh, and in answer to your question earlier, the reason there is no chicks in here is cause they keep them and us separated except when they can supervise us.”
“Why?” I asked.
“That should be obvious,” said Kyle. “They don’t want us to breed.” I almost laughed. Cory left and I looked at Kyle.
“Well, I guess it’s what we were afraid of,” I said. “We are pets.”
“Hey, kids, come here.” It was a man in his twenties sitting on one of the couches. Kyle and I walked up to him.
“Don’t listen to what that nut was saying,” he said. “Cory was young when he came here and I think he kind of grew to like the idea of being a pet.”
“So it’s not really like that?” said Kyle.
“Hey, sometimes it is, sometimes it’s not,” the man said. “It really depends on your caretaker. But for the most part it’s not.”
“My name’s Kyle, this is Dan,” Kyle said.
“My name’s Justin,” he said. “I’ve been here nine years. Since I was about your age. Most people are pretty young when they’re vortexed.”
“Why?” I asked.
“You got to be struck by lightning for it to happen,” Justin said. “Young people are more reckless and likely to put themselves in that situation. Either that or just stupid.”
Kyle looked at me and I looked the other way.
“Were you two vortexed at the sane time?” Justin asked. I nodded yes.
“You’re lucky,” Justin said. “It’s pretty rare that two people come through together.”
“What’s your life like? With the giants, I mean,” said Kyle.
“Its not too bad,” said Justin, shifting position on the couch. “I was fifteen when I came here. I’d never had a dad, and they ended up sticking me with this single guy who’d always wanted a son. It worked out pretty good.”
“Do you like it here?” I asked. It was probably a stupid question to ask, but I wanted to know.
“If I could go back to my own world I’d do it in a heartbeat,” said Justin. “But since I can’t, I try to make the most out of my life here with my caretaker. What kind of caretaker they give you?”
“He’s a young guy. A college student,” Kyle said.
“What’s he like?”
“I guess he’s nice,” I said.
“Do you like him?”
“I guess so,” Kyle said. “We just met him yesterday. We don’t really know him.”
“Yeah, well get to know him,” said Justin. “Get to be friends with him. Try and get him to bond with you as much as you can. This is very important, cause he is what’s going to make your life here either tolerable or intolerable. You two remember that.”
“We will,” said Kyle.
“Why don’t you two go look around,” said Justin. “Check out the arcade. That’s where most of the teenagers hang.”
“See you later,” Kyle said.
We headed over to the arcade and checked out the games. None of them were titled anything familiar, but a lot of them looked pretty cool, and they were all free. The only real problem was the lines. As we explored the place guys would come up to us and introduce themselves. They all made a point of mentioning how long they’d been there, and of giving us advice about how to deal with the giants. Some of them were like Cory, but most had more optimistic views like Justin. It made me feel a little bit better.
We played a few games but eventually got tired of waiting in line. We headed over to the basketball court, but the game was already five one five, so we didn’t ask to play. We just watched for a while. We walked over by the pool, but even if we had had swimsuits I don’t think either of us felt like getting back in the water.
After a couple of hours some kind of bell rang and everyone started to file out the blue door.
“What’s going on?” I asked Justin as he passed.
“Lunch time,” he said. We followed as everyone left the room. Out on the table in front of the two doors they had set-up rows of tables our size, like a cafeteria. On the far side of the table there was a buffet with six or seven different aisles of food. Coming out of the red door was the most beautiful sight I’ve ever seen: girls.
We stepped in line for the buffet and I checked-out the little red head in front of me. She turned and smiled at me. I was a little taken back at first. The girl looked like Shauna.
It wasn’t of course, but it got me thinking about her. It got me thinking about everything we’d left behind. Kyle shook me and told me to move forward in line.
“Chinese food,” I said, stepping up to the first bar and grabbing a plate.
“The vegetables, they’re our size,” said Kyle. He scooped up some stir-fry and I saw the baby corn he was talking about.
“They’re genetically grown that way,” said the red headed girl. We filled out plates with food and then walked over to the table Justin was seated at. He motioned for us to sit down. Also seated at the table were a woman with long curly hair, a guy with thick glasses, a guy with black hair down to his shoulders, and a girl with blonde hair in two ponytails.
“Hi, I’m Hillary. I’ve been here eight years,” said the curly haired woman.
“I’m Nelson. Ten years,” said the guy with the glasses.
“I’m Gabriel. Four years,” said the one long hair.
“I’m Marie,” said the blonde. “I’ve been here five years.”
“I’m Dan,” I said. “We just got here.”
“I can tell by your clothes,” said Marie. We were the only ones wearing jump suits. Everyone else was dressed normally.
We sat and talked to Justin and his friends as we ate. They all had their own stories that brought them to this world. Nelson, who was in his late-twenties, had been a storm-chaser studying a tornado when he was struck. Hillary had been jogging in the park when she was a teenager. A sudden storm came out of nowhere and before she could find shelter she was hit. Gabriel, who was nineteen, was hit when his Eagle Scout troop was camping. Marie, who was seventeen, was hit while water skiing.
“I guess we weren’t the only ones who were reckless,” said Kyle.
“How’d you end up here?” asked Marie. Kyle told them the story and they all laughed.
“Hey, I’ve heard stupider reasons,” said Justin.
“Dan and Kyle Chambers your caretaker is here to pick you up,” Rosie’s voice came over the loud speaker.
“Is she talking about us?” I said.
“Chambers is Darien’s last name,” said Kyle.
“Yeah, they make you go by your caretaker’s last name,” said Gabriel.
“That’s just great,” I said. “We don’t even get our own names.”
“You get used to it,” said Hillary. Rosie appeared at the table. Kyle and I stood up and started to walk towards her.
“We’ll see you guys later,” said Justin.
“Bye,” I said.
“Bye,” said Kyle.
Rosie carried us back up to the front where Darien awaited.
“Hey, guys,” he said. “You have a good time?”
“Yeah,” I said, sincerely.
“Make any friends?”
“A couple,” said Kyle.
“That’s nice,” said Darien. He picked us up and carried us out to the car. Sitting in the passenger seat was a gray box made of tough plastic. He opened it and sat us inside. Inside it were two car seats with seat belts.
“I just picked this up,” he said. “It makes driving safer for you.”
“Are we going back to the apartment?” I asked.
“No, we’re going to my parents,” he said. We rode in the plastic box as Darien drove to his parents’ house. I could tell we were both a little nervous. I kept thinking about what Cory said about giant kids.
When we arrived Darien opened the container and took us out. He held us for a moment before getting out of the car.
“So,” I said. “What are we suppose to call your parents? Grandma and Grandpa?” I said jokingly. I was trying to bond with Darien like Justin said we needed to.
“I think Mary and Samuel will be fine,” replied Darien, with a slight smile. Darien carried us up the front walk to the large stone house. He entered the house and was greeted by a woman in her forties.
“Darien, honey,” she said, moving to embrace him. She stopped suddenly and gasped in surprise. “Who are these two little gentlemen,” she said, looking at us.
“This is Dan and Kyle,” Darien said.
“So you finally reached the top of that silly waiting list,” she said to Darien. “And they gave you two. How nice.”
“This is my mother, in case you hadn’t figured it out,” Darien said to us.
“Call me Mary,” she said. “Darien’s father ran to the store for me, but he’ll be back soon.”
“Where are the kids?” asked Darien.
“Out back,” Mary said. “Take them out and introduce them.”
“I will,” he said. He carried us through the living room and out a glass sliding door. He walked up to wooden picnic table and sat down. He put us down on the table. A moment later four giant kids came running up. The sight of them galloping up caused me to duck behind Darien’s hand. “It’s alright,” he said, gently pushing me back out with one finger. “There’s nothing to be afraid of.”
The four giant kids sat on the other side of the table and gawked at us. The two oldest were girl about fourteen and twelve. The two youngest were boys about ten and eight.
“Meet Kyle and Dan, my little guys,” said Darien. He referred to us as his again, but this time I think it was meant out of affection, which I guess was okay. “Kyle, Dan, these are my brothers and sisters, Vicki, Laura, Mike, and Piper.”
“I thought your said there were five?” said Kyle.
“The baby, Matthew, is probably upstairs asleep.”
“When’d you get them?” asked the younger boy, Piper.
“Just yesterday,” said Darien.
“Why didn’t you tell us?” said Laura.
“I wanted them to be a surprise.”
“Can we hold them?” asked Piper. I gave Darien a pleading look no. He picked up on it and said to wait until we were better adjusted. I really didn’t like the idea of being played with by any of these mammoth kids.
Not being allowed to physically handle us the kids eventually grew bored and went back to what they were doing before we arrived. The three of us just continued to sit at the picnic table.
“It’s a nice day,” said Darien.
“Yeah,” I said. “It’s funny how the sky and the clouds still seem the same size.” It was the first time either me or Kyle had acknowledged the fact that we hadn’t always been this size in front of Darien.
“You know, I’m not ignorant,” said Darien. “I realize you haven’t always been like this. I know that you used to be just like me. I can’t understand exactly what you’re going through, but either of you ever need to talk about it I’m here.”
“Can I ask you something?” said Kyle. Darien nodded. “Why do you wanna be a caretaker?”
Darien shrugged. “I don’t know,” he said. “I guess I just like taking care of people. I always used to take care of my siblings. I like the idea of taking care of little people. You guys are just so dependent and in need of somebody to help you.” I was satisfied with his answer, but Kyle looked at him suspiciously.
Still worried that that bad giant’s gonna rear his ugly head? I thought.
“We’re not that helpless,” said Kyle.
“Maybe, maybe not,” said Darien. “But it’s a great big world, and you need somebody.”
“What if we don’t want your help? What if we’d rather be on our own? You giants ever stop to think about what we want? We don’t even get to choose who takes care of us. What if we don’t want you as our caretaker?”
Darien was speechless. I pulled Kyle over to me and talked low in his ear. “What are you doing? You’re gonna hurt his feelings,” I said, just above a whisper. Darien was watching, but he would have had to have leaned in close to hear.
“So,” said Kyle. “He’s the one being condescending.”
“He’s not being condescending, he’s just being realistic,” I said. “It’s the truth. We do need somebody to help us survive.”
“So, we should get to choose who our caretaker is. Not get stuck with whomever they wanna stick us with.”
“I seriously doubt we could do any better,” I said. “Remember what Justin said. We want Darien to like us.” Kyle sighed and looked up at our giant keeper.
“I’m sorry, Darien,” he said.
“It’s okay,” said Darien. “I understand. If you guys don’t want me as your caretaker I’ll talk to Doctor Dawson about returning you.”
“No, it’s not like that,” I said. I still wasn’t sure about anything, but I was sure that Darien was a good guy and probably the best man for the job. If he returned us there was no telling what kind of caretaker we’d get stuck with.
“We like living with you. Don’t we, Kyle?”
“Yeah,” Kyle mumbled.
“Let’s go see if my mom needs any help in the kitchen,” Darien said. He carried us back into the giant house. When we got to the kitchen Darien sat us on the center isle and asked Mary if she needed any assistance.
“Here, take these steaks out to the grill,” she handed him a large tray of meat. As she was doing so she accidentally tipped the tray a little, spilling meat juice all over Darien’s shirt.
“Thanks a lot Mom,” he said. “Now I smell like dead cow.”
“It’s just a little meat juice,” said Mary. “You’ve got a change of clothes upstairs. Go put them on.”
“Okay,” he said. “You two stay right where you are,” he told us.
“Where are we gonna go?” said Kyle. Darien left and Mary returned to her cooking, as if we weren’t even there. After a minute she too left the room.
“We’re alone,” I said.
“No we’re not,” said Kyle. Peeping his head in the kitchen door was one of Darien’s brothers. It was the eight-year-old, Piper. The boy was the spitting image of Darien, but he had a mischievous grin on his face.
“Oh, crap,” I said aloud.
“It’s not nice to say bad words,” said the kid. “Maybe you need a spanking.”
Slowly, the boy crept up on us. As he reached the counter edge he stopped, then with one quick lunge, he grabbed us both. His hands were smaller than any that had held us before, but he held us much tighter.
“Piper, I can’t breathe,” said Kyle. Piper just giggled.
He then ran out the side door of the house, carrying us. I couldn’t believe the speed he went, as the things around us just whooshed by. Piper was running down the street through the neighborhood. I had no idea where he was taking us, or what he planned to do with us. To make matters worse rain clouds were beginning to appear in the sky.
Finally, he stopped and held us up to his face. Kyle and I were both a little shaken from the run.
“What are you gonna do with us?” Kyle demanded.
“I just wanna show you to my friends,” Piper said. I saw that he had brought us to a park. He walked to the playground where a group of other eight-year-olds played. Piper held us up for his friends to see.
“Wow,” exclaimed on boy. “Are they yours?”
“Yep. My parents got them for me for my birthday,” Piper lied.
“Can I hold one of them?” asked another boy.
“Sure,” said Piper, about to hand me to his friend.
“Hey, kid,” came a voice, stopping Piper from handing me to the other boy. It was a large giant man with a long beard and a bandana around his head. He had dark sunglasses and dirty clothes. He looked like a biker. Not the type of guy parents like to see hanging around their kids playground.
“Those are some cute little people you got there,” he said to Piper.
“Thanks,” said Piper.
“Mind if I see them?” the dirty looking man asked.
“I don’t know…”
“Oh, come on,” he said. “I’ll give’em right back.”
“Piper, no!” shouted Kyle. It was too late. The man grabbed for us and was able to pry us from Piper’s childish hands. We were now in the hands of this nasty biker whose hands smelled like motor oil.
“Help!” Piper screamed, but the man took off, with us.
“Help! Help!” I screamed wildly. It didn’t matter. I looked over at Kyle and saw the look of absolute terror on his face. Who new what this freak was going to do to us? I would’ve given anything to be safe back in Darien’s hands. The rain had started to come down.
Suddenly, as the man ran across the park, something happened. A giant stepped out of nowhere and kicked the man in the stomach as he ran by. With force that felt like and earthquake the man hit the ground, still holding us in his hands. The new giant kicked the biker guy across the forehead, sending him into unconsciousness. Kyle and I were able to slip out of the man’s hands and onto the ground.
We looked up at the one who had save us. He was as tall as a building, and we had to look straight up to see his face, but the sun prevented us from making it out. Whoever this giant was he was dressed completely in white.
“Oh my God,” said Kyle. “It’s the giant from my dreams. He is real.” Kyle ran up to the foot of the giant angel and started waving his arms and screaming to be picked-up. Only when the giant knelt down to do so were we able to make out his face.
It was Darien.
Darien picked Kyle up and sat him in the palm of his hand.
“Are you two alright?” he asked.
“We’re okay,” said Kyle. “Thanks to you.”
“I’m gonna tan Piper’s hide for taking the two of you like that.”
“Let’s just go home,” said Kyle. Darien started to reach for me on the ground. As he did so the wind picked-up and a bolt of lightning shot across the sky.
“Better get out of this weather,” Darien said. He reached for me again… but it was too late. A bolt of lightning came blasting from the sky and hit the exact spot where I was standing!
I felt for sure this time I had died. I felt the same sensation of falling as I had before, and the same sensation of hitting rock bottom. Only this time, I fell into unconsciousness.
When I woke up I was lying on the shore of the lake. The sun was shining and the birds were singing. It felt like morning. I looked around to the see the same lake that Kyle and our girlfriends had been camping at when this whole thing started. I saw two forms running towards me.
“Oh my God!” shouted Shauna. “Its Dan!”
“Quick, somebody get some help!” shouted Maggie, back the direction they’d came.
“Oh, baby,” said Shauna. “Are you alright?” she asked me.
“Where’s Kyle and Darien?” I asked, barely coherent.
“We thought you were dead,” she said.
“When the lightning struck the lake we thought it had killed both you and Kyle,” she said. “The search party was just about to start looking for your bodies.”
Was it all a dream? Had I just imagined the world of the giants that Kyle and me had been sucked into? Had I just been lying there on the shore for the last twenty-four hours dreaming it all?
“Baby,” said Shauna. “Where have you been? Where’d you get these clothes?” I looked at myself and saw that I wore the same blue jump suit Darien had given me to wear.
“It was real,” I said to myself.
“What was real?” said Shauna. “Where’s Kyle?”
I couldn’t believe it. I had been struck by the same lightning that had sent me to the giant world, and brought home by it. What were the odds of that happening? But what about Kyle?
I looked out at the lake that had grown still since the last time I saw it. Do you believe in higher powers? That there’s some greater force at work in the universe that makes things happen? Maybe, just maybe, it was that higher power that led us to the world of the giants. Maybe I wasn’t supposed to stay. Maybe the purpose of this whole adventure was so Kyle could finally find that giant in white he’d always dreamed about? Whatever the reason, I may never see Kyle again.
But I rest assured knowing that he’s got his giant caretaker to watch out for him.
© Copyright 2003 Jak Sparkz