Greatly Reduced

by Shrinkingman

Paul Robertson figured his shrinking device would work, and it did. In fact, it worked TOO well. Then it didn't work at all, and...

He had it set up in his office at a university. It kind of looked like one of those booths at the fair where you walk in and get your picture taken. He got in, sat down, and adjusted the controls, hoping he'd shrink to 2 feet tall. The device would shrink with him,so that when he wanted to get back to normal he could easily get in and reach the controls.

He did get in and activated it. There was a brief flash of light andPaul eagerly got out to see how small he'd gotten. Oh, he shrank all right...so much so that his office was unrecognizable. Now, tables were clifflike and the floor seemed to stretch on forever. He spotted a dime which must have fallen on the floor at some point. It was bigger than he was. He didn't know just how small he now was, but he guessed he had to be a fraction of an inch tall.

Quickly he got back into the device and began to set it up so thatit would enlarge him again. But it was almost like a car with the battery removed. Nothing happened.

He got out again and was about to tinker with the outside of it when he suddenly heard a loud noise. Amazed, he saw a gargantuan pair ofwomen's shoes walk by, followed by some smaller sneakers. The sneakers were about 250 feet long! He took cover near the base of his desk and looked up. There were two mountains towering over him,one about 1,600 feet high and one over 2,000 feet high. Only the mountains resembled people. The smaller mountain spoke; it soundedlike a boy or 9 or 10.

"I wanna go, Ma..."
"Hmm. This is strange-- I don't see Paul, or his machine. I wanted you to meet him--"

In horror, Paul watched as his machine was crushed under the sneaker of a 10 year old boy as he innocently walked around.

Good thing he got out when he did.

---
Am I stuck at this size now?, he wondered. Maybe he could build another machine, but with what? Paul wandered across the floor and out of his office. It was a Saturday so there weren't too many people around. Paul was dressed casually-- blue T-shirt, jeans, and sneakers. I'll have to get used to these clothes, he thought. Only these can fit me now.

He made his way outside, walking down a handicap ramp. The stairs were too steep for him, though he wondered if jumping down a couple hundred feet (to him) would hurt him now. At his reduced size, it might be safe.

Paul estimated that he was now one-fifth of an inch tall. Every inch of his now-giant world seemed like 30 feet.

To get food and shelter, he knew he had to hitch a ride on one of these gargantuan humans. It would be risky, but perhaps worth it. He got his chance as he walked on some concrete and suddenly saw a giant stop right next to him. He wassuddenly surrounded by two colossal sneakers, each over 270 feet long and 120 feet wide. He bravely walked over to one of the sneakersand looked up.

It was an 11 year old boy masquerading as an 1,800 foot tallskyscraper. The boy was looking down at a "Walkman" stereo and pushing buttons (changing the station). He was unaware that a manone-fifth of an inch tall was about to hitchhike on one of hissneaks.

The bottom edge of the sneaker was almost 30 feet tall, and the manquickly climbed up it. Next he grabbed on to a long shoelace; he climbed up to the top of the sneaker and inserted himself into alace hole which was (to him) about 8 feet in diameter. He grabbed on to the lace which went through the hole and held on as the boy began to walk. It was a bumpy ride.

2
Paul thought to himself that maybe he should have stayed in his office. But it was too late now, as the giant boy had quickly taken him off to his own house. Here, Paul thought, I can at least survive for now-- shelter, food...

The boy kicked off his sneakers as he arrived in his bedroom, andPaul held on tight inside the lacehole. As the boy headed off into another room, Paul got off the sneaker and descended to the floor. Bits of dust gathered on the hardwood floor. There was an electricaloutlet some 300 feet up (well, 10 inches in reality). A dime lay on the floor; it seemed about 15 feet in diameter. Paul attempted to lift one corner of it; it was heavy and much thicker than what he'dexpected. He could only lift it slightly.

Nearby was a business-card-sized reminder from the boy's dentistabout his next appointment. The card was a mere 60 feet by 90 feet.Yes, at Paul's reduced size, everything was 350 times as long and many times heavier. (He thought back to moments earlier,when he witnessed the accidental crushing of the shrinking machine undera boy's sneaker. To that boy, the machine was probably no bigger than a candy wrapper and he probably wasn't aware that he'd steppedon anything.

Mind boggling.

A night table next to the boy's bed had some sort of clock radio;a very thin cord, serving as the FM antenna, extended to the floor.Paul climbed up the rope-thick cord. The top of the night tablewas some 700 or 800 feet up. He figured he could try to get the boy'sattention. Of course, he doubted a person his size could do that easily.

He stood on the top of Mount Night Table and gazed around at thecolossal room of a boy who, moments earlier, would have been onlyas tall as Paul's shoulder. He figured he could sleep somewhere on the top of the nighttable, and somehow he could grab some food.The opportunity for that came when the boy re-entered his room and went over to the nighttable, the top of which was about waist high to him. The boy turned on an air conditioner on a nearby window;meanwhile, Paul scampered over to the edge of the table and he jumpedinto the boy's pants pocket.

After awhile, Paul sensed that it was dinner time so he got himself up to the lip of the pocket. As the boy sat down at his dinner table, he started climbing up his T-shirt and eventually jumped ontothe table. Quickly, Paul ran over to the gargantuan salt and peppershakers and crouched down next to them, hoping not to be seen.He gazed up at the giants gathered together-- the boy had a mother,father, and older sister. As he would learn, the boy's name was Jeff,and his sister was named Barbara. He didn't catch the names of theirmom and dad. For one insane moment he thought of striding over to the center of the table and introducing himself. "Oh hi, everyone--down here. Yes. Sorry for the intrusion. My name is Paul Robertsonand I used to be almost 70 inches taller than this. I need a placeto stay... I won't eat up too much of your food or take up too much space, I promise...

"I supposed I could do an odd job for you, not that there's much I can do at this size. Maybe tutor your kids in science? well--"

But that was just a quick little diversion in Paul's mind; he didn'tactually do that. As it was, his voice would have been too faint to hear. And there was the chance that one of them might think he's a bug and crush him with a finger...

3
Paul wondered whether or not he should wait until everyone had left the table-- THEN he could jump on a plate and eat some leftovers. But what if they carried their plates to the sink as they left? Yettrying to get on a plate while the giants ate would be dangerous.

He looked up at the 2,000 foot tall (or so) mammoths surrounding the table. He knew he didn't want to be squashed like a bug, and he also didn't want to be getting a grand tour of their digestive systems.So many dangers. Also, the plates were too high for him to get on.He thought about trying to climb a salt shaker, in the hopes one of them would use it, giving him access. Then he spotted Barbara's bracelet. He skittered a few hundred feet over to her. Her hand was next to a 200 foot tall glass containing hundreds of gallons of soda.

Quickly, he got on the bracelet and when her wrist rose above the plate, he prepared to make his descent, waiting till he was about 20 feet from the surface. He landed amongst gargantuan proportions ofsteak tips and rice pilaf. If anything, the best he could do wasgrab some gristle from the steak and tiny bits of rice. Paul's sneakers skidded a bit over some left over butter.

If he had looked up he would have seen the tremendous face of a 14 year old girl, gobbling up food; but he had no time for that. Getting some food and then getting away was key.

He ran up the curved edge of the plate and prepared to jump downto the table. It was only 30 feet down or so. At his reduced mass,it would be no problem.

There was a loud buzz and Paul looked up to see an object the size of a helicopter landing on the table. It was 30 feet long, maybe 10 feet tall, and looked rather gruesome. The object was better known as the common house fly.

Suddenly an earthquake shook the table-- actually, Jeff's dad was trying to get the fly by pounding his fist on the table. The forceof it catapulted Paul up onto Dad's plate and before he knew it,he was in a bundle of rice which Dad had scooped up with a spoon.(Simultaneously, he heard the sound of Jeff's hands clapping together, killing the fly.) But of more concern to Paul was the fact that he was headed straight for Dad's mouth.

Just as the spoon made its way to the crevice, Paul leaped up and caught a few strands of Dad's moustache. He crawled inside the forest-like cover of Dad's moustache/beard. Above him, Dad was exhaling tremendous amounts of air from his nose. One such exhalation blew Paul out to the edge of the moustache. Taking no chances, Paul found himself leaping down into the pocket of Dad'sT-shirt. He sat there next to Dad's beating heart until dinner was over.

Chocolate pudding for dessert; Paul missed it. Oh well. He'd had enough to eat as it was. As Paul sat there, he had images in his mind of a certain Disney movie where a shrunken kid was trapped in a bowl of cereal, about to be unwittingly consumed by his own father.

So this is what life would be like, eh? "Survivor: The ShrunkenEdition".

4

Just after dinner, Paul wished to climb out of Jeff's dad's pocket, but he didn't really get a chance, as Jeff and his dad rushed out of their house to get to a minor league baseball game nearby. Hmm, they must give free admission to people under an inch tall, Paul laughed to himself.

Earlier this same day, Paul had been just shy of six feet tall but now he lived in a world of 2,000 foot tall giants. At least that's how tall they seemed to him, at one-fifth of an inch tall. They seemed taller than the tallest skyscrapers on Earth. For Paul, lifewas now an adventure. The tiniest things were amazingly huge. In someways, being this small can be fun, Paul thought; but I need to becareful. One wrong move could mean death.

Paul climbed up to the top of Dad's shirt pocket and he hung over the lip of the pocket, legs dangling over the deep drop below. He looked out and saw other 2,000 foot tall giants who, like Jeff and his dad, were on their way to their seats. Once Jeff's dad had found their seats, he shoved the three-inch-long ticket stub into his shirtpocket, and Paul had to dodge the gargantuan printed object.

Awhile later, Paul noticed that a lake of beer (actually a 16 ouncecup) was just below him. From time to time, Jeff's dad would lift the lake of beer up several hundred feet to his lips and he'd drink.But sometimes, some of the beer spilled out from the cup onto hisshirt-- drenching Paul. Paul actually tilted his head back and opened his mouth; sure enough, the boozy liquid made its way intoPaul's tiny mouth. I'd better not drink too much, Paul thought--at this weight, it won't take much to get me drunk. Good thing I'mnot driving, he chuckled to himself.

After awhile, Paul dropped down to the bottom of the pocket, deciding to lie down and think things over for awhile. How long would this go on? Would the shrinking be permanent or could it wearoff somehow? How could he develop another shrinking/growing machine at his size, and with what material could he build another one?

Should he try to contact one of the giants, or would they just think he's a bug? He knew his voice would be too faint to hear and using a pen or pencil would be out of the question.

He also wondered if his life would be shortened now that he was so small--not just because of the dangers, but maybe his smaller body would have a much faster metabolism--and a shorter life span. Howlong does the mayfly live, he thought... a day? Would I also havea shorter lifespan, if I stayed this size?

---
They got back home. As Jeff's dad watched the 11:00 news, Paul climbed out of his pocket, down his shirt, and ultimately wound upon the floor. He began walking toward Jeff's room but had to flee for cover when Jeff's mom headed down the hallway to the living room.He listened to them talk for a moment (and found out their nameswere Calvin and Doris).

"Jeff's asleep and Barbara should be home any minute, Cal," said Doris. "I'm gonna turn in myself."

"Yeah, me too, hon. You know what's funny, Dor? When I was at the game tonight with Jeff, I could swear there was a tiny man in mypocket, looking out over the edge."

"How many beers did you have?"

Calvin laughed. "Only one. No, I swear, I looked down and thought Isaw this tiny head. Hmm. Maybe a bug or something."

Paul climbed up the antenna cord of Jeff's clock radio (he had just enough light from the hallway to see it) and he lay down at the backof the radio and fell asleep.

The next morning, Jeff woke up and noticed something odd at the backof his clock radio. Looked like a tiny man in a T-shirt, jeans, and sneakers.

Curious, Jeff got a pair of tweezers and gingerly picked up theslumbering, miniscule man, then placed him on his hand. The manhad been sleeping on his back; now, he turned over to sleep on his stomach. His shoulders hunched up and he lay his head down near the end of one of Jeff's fingers as if it were a pillow. He abruptlyshifted into consciousness, opening his eyes. There above him wasthe face of a young boy, tremendously huge.

The tiny man-- Paul-- screamed. Jeff couldn't really hear the scream but he could somehow sense the horror this tiny man hadwoken up to. "It's OK, you're all right lil guy," he assured Paul.Paul started to flee but Jeff tenderly put an index finger down onto the hand which held Paul, stopping Paul in his tracks.

Carefully, Jeff lifted his hand up closer to his face. Paul saw a 300 foot long face, with huge eyes, nose, mouth, and ears. "Sooootiny, lil' man. Don't worry, I'll take care of ya."

What, am I a pet for this kid?, Paul asked himself.

5

5It was Sunday morning.
Jeff explained that his parents were off to a yard sale and they'dtold him he could make breakfast for himself if he wanted. So Jefftook Paul back into the kitchen, where Jeff made a couple pancakesand grilled some sausage. When he sat down, he took a tiny piece ofthe pancakes and sausage and put it onto a saucer, and Paul ate itfrom there.

"Who're you talking to?," came a voice from another room. That would be Jeff's sister Barbara.
"Oh, I found a tiny guy and we're eating breakfast."

"Got an imaginary friend, huh? Aren't ya getting a bit old for that."

"Naw, he's right here." Barbara had entered the room and she looked down to where Jeff was pointing. Jeff lifted up the saucer a bit togive her a closer look.

"You dressed up a fly in clothes?" A look of shock suddenly crossed her face. "My God...you're right..."

Paul stood up and waved at the 2,000 foot giantess. It was true--young Jeff had discovered a forty-ish man who was a fraction of an inch tall. Paul tried yelling up at her. "HI--GOOD TO MEET YOU..."It sounded so faint she couldn't tell what he was saying. Jefftook a magnifying glass and held it over Paul. Now the both of themgot a better look at him. The view Paul got was different--it kindof shrank the giants slightly but was very distorted.

Barbara held out her index finger and Paul climbed up onto the back of her long fingernail. He gazed up at the colossus, a cute 14 year old with stringy blond hair, a pert nose, and 80-foot-long lips.

"I'VE GOT A NIECE YOUR AGE," Paul yelled up at her, then felt foolish. They couldn't hear. Even if they put the magnifying glass back up over him, they wouldn't be able to read his lips to tryto figure out what he was saying. Barbara held her hand over Jeff'soutstretched hand and he gently fell back into the boy's hand.

"I don't know how he got that small," Jeff told his sister. "ButI'll take care of him."
Barbara nodded, looking a bit puzzled, and then left.

"Must be awesome to be that small," said Jeff.

Is it ever, Jeff thought. But it's much more dangerous than it isawesome.

"Must be really dangerous being your size." Hmm. Like the kid readhis mind!

---
Family. Paul now had one, he guessed (he didn't know their last name yet but later found it was Grande. That meant "Big". How appropriate.) The family here could feed and shelter him and hopefully keep him safe, though there would always be the dangerthey could step on him or something.

Paul had a family too but for the most part they were out of state.(He was unmarried, no kids.)
He had friends and co-workers too, though he wondered if they'dmiss him now that he was "gone". For all they knew, he was dead orin some strange dimension (in a way, he was...). His co-workerGeri had known he was developing some kind of size-altering machine but when she paid him a visit with her son, she couldn't find himor the machine. She had no idea her son's size 5-and-a-half sneakershad destroyed it.

Yes, maybe everyone thought he had disappeared...

Paul felt around in his jeans pocket. There was a teeny-tiny walletwith about $50 of money that would be far too small to spend. A driver's license saying he was 5 foot 10, and keys to a car thathe could have no hope of driving.

He knew how to make a shrinking/growing machine but it still had a few bugs to it. I was stupid to try it out on myself, he thought.Look what had happened.

As the Beatles once sang, his life had changed in oh so many ways.His independence seemed to vanish in the haze. He did need "help"and he got it but he lamented to himself what was now different inhis life.

Before, he didn't have to worry about being crushed under someone'sshoe or encountering animals much bigger than he was. He could get in his car and drive, not have to "hitch a ride with a giant". He didn't have to risk his life trying to find something to eat.That night he had a dream: he was at that ballgame but had accidentally fallen over the lip of Cal Grande's shirt pocket,plunging hundreds of feet into the lake of beer. To his horror,the cup was being lifted to Cal's lips-- Paul tried to swim away but it was no use. Over the lips, under the gums, look out stomach,here Paul comes.

Paul envisioned himself going down Cal's throat, then suddenly woke up, relieved it was a dream. He gazed over at the sleeping figure of Jeff in his own bed, peacefully slumbering, bringing huge amounts ofair into his gargantuan lungs with each steady breath. At least that kid didn't have such worries as Paul did. He was probably havingpleasant dreams.

Jeff took care of his new little friend. He fed Paul scraps of food,gave him rides in his shirt pocket, and helped him bathe. For that,Jeff took a soda bottlecap and filled it partially with warm water. It was more like a pool to Paul than a tub. As it was 15 feet high, he needed a string to climb up and down from it. Jeff tossed in a speck of soap then departed, giving Paul his privacy. He washed his body and swam, then got out, dried himself with a speck of cloth, and got dressed.

Paul didn't think to tell Jeff that his clothes still smelled like stale Budweiser from the ballgame incident. Maybe he could use thecap as a makeshift washing machine. Again, these were the only clothes he had that would still fit.

Paul wondered if his friends and co-workers had reported him missing by now. Maybe it would make the news-- teacher/scientist at the localuniversity turns up missing. Nobody knew he had shrunk. Well, Geriknew he was working on a "shrinking/growing machine". Maybe she went back to his office and found the tiny machine that her son hadaccidentally demolished.

Maybe the janitor had swept up the machine before she had a chance tofind it.

Paul had an apartment in town; he thought about going there. He wasn't sure where he was, but he knew it would be a long trip (andit wasn't like he could communicate to one of the giants exactlywhere he lived). Maybe his family would presume him dead and hispossessions would be given away or sold; and the landlord wouldwind up renting to someone else.

He still had a life to get back to, but would he be able to?

He wondered if it would be wise to have Jeff tell his parents about him. Maybe they could get him some help. They could go to the police and say they found a very tiny man, and one of the officers would say, "You know, we do have a scientist who's missing. Maybe that'shim?"

But what good would that do? He could be re-united with his co-workers but none of them knew how to build a shrinking/growing machine. The specs for the machine were not written down on paper,and they were not on a computer file. Since he didn't want hisplans to get in the wrong hands, they only existed in one place.His now teeny-tiny head. And pencils, pens, or magic markers werefar too big for him to use (in the hope someone could buildanother machine based on his specifications, so he could returnto normal size).

So maybe he was just stuck living this tiny life. Jeff and hisfamily could take care of him. No need to work, pay rent, do histaxes, put money away for retirement. No, they'd all help him out.

He felt so helpless and dependent. Also defeated: potential brilliant scientist confined to living life at a bug's level.He could accomplish some great things, but now...

For now, he could just survive as best he could in this outsized world. In some ways he almost felt like he hadn't shrunk--instead,everyone and everything had grown. He couldn't picture distancesas they were, only what they seemed. That coffee table wasn't26 inches high, it was 780 feet high. The squirrel in the back yardwas 270 feet tall, not 9 inches. He lived in a world where an 11 year old boy's hand was about as tall as the Statue of Liberty.

He had various adventures and misadventures, like the time he fell into Barbara's purse and got a free trip to high school. He had been sleeping on Jeff's nightstand and Jeff was in the bathroom taking a shower. Barbara went over to his nightstand, looking for some aspirin. (He'd had a headache the night before and had left thebottle on his nightstand.) She grabbed the bottle and took a tabletout, then resealed the bottle. She accidentally hit the night tablewith her knee and sleeping Paul bounced right into her open purse.She then went into the kitchen and gobbled down the aspiring withsome water.

Paul awoke and found himself in a hodgepodge of items-- lip gloss,gum, cellphone, bobby pins. He bounced around inside, then eventually it stopped. He climbed out of the purse and descended to the floor.

By this time she was in her first class. Her 250-foot-long feet were encased in tremendous sandals next to him; he gazed up toward her knees but couldn't see above that (he was under her desk).Nearby were the feet of other giants, wearing various sneakersand shoes.

He wondered if he should have just stayed in the purse or what.There was no way for him to climb up to try to get her attention(she had a short dress which didn't extend to the floor.) Paul heard her talking to a girlfriend, and a boy came over to her and told her how pretty her hair was. She was about to respond when he heard the teacher ask them to all take their seats.

"Oh, I gotta turn in my paper," he heard her say. The next thing he knew, the giantess had stood up and began walking toward the frontof the room. Her right foot rose over 100 feet into the air and was headed down straight for him! He ran off but slipped on the floor,and landed a fraction of an inch next to the sandalled foot as it made contact with the floor. Then a gigantic log of wood fell some800 feet down from the top of her desk. He quickly got up and avoided being hit by the 150 foot long...pencil.

When she bent over to pick it up, she saw his tiny form on the ground, fleeing to get back into her purse. She extended her cupped hand down to the floor and he headed straight for it. Then she lifted her hand up and looked down at him with an expression that said, "what are YOU doing here"?

7

In doing this, she tried not to get noticed by her other classmates.From what they could see, she'd dropped a pencil and some other tinyobject.

She put Paul on top of her desk and smiled slightly down at him.She knew she'd get strange looks if she tried to talk to him, and ifhe tried to talk to hear, he wouldn't be heard.

The class ended and she quickly put Paul in a small container which she then attached to her bracelet. It was a locket of some sort but it was slightly bent-- solid enough to keep him in it, but with a hole to let some air in. As she left, she talked briefly with herboyfriend, another 14 year old named Adam Chicopee. (She was inninth grade, the first year of high school; Jeff was in sixthgrade now, his first year of middle school).

Speaking of Jeff, he was surprised to see that Paul was missing fromhis nightstand. He looked around for him briefly but supposed he had taken a walk somewhere. In exiting the room, Jeff walked cautiously and looked down at his sneakers, hoping Paul wasn't on the floorsomewhere...

Jeff's parents still didn't know about his tiny friend. They hadeach gone to work moments before.

Back in the locket, Paul was jostled around slightly but it wasn'tall that bad, although his sense of smell was somewhat overcomeby a scent Barbara was wearing. As the old song lyric went, "Openup the window, let some air into the room. I'm almost choking fromthe smell of stale perfume."

Mama told me not to shrink...

---------------------It was lunch time at Barb's high school and she sat with Adam. "Wanna see something cool? My brother has this...uh, odd petand it kinda followed me here." She took the locket from herbracelet and opened it; gently she poured Paul out. She placed him on a compact mirror and carefully held it in front of Adam.

Adam saw a forty-ish man in a T-shirt, jeans, and sneakers, just one fifth of an inch tall. "My bro's gonna freak if he knew he was herewith me, but he kinda fell into my purse or something." Adamwas amazed to see the bug-sized man. Then suddenly a hurricane wind came up, blowing Paul off the compact and down some 100 feet intoBarbara's plate of meatloaf.

The hurricane wind was actually Adam sneezing. "Sorry, man.It's this ragweed stuff...pollen." He fished Adam out of Barbara'splate and used a wetted napkin to clean him off. Paul bowed a couple times, as if to say, "No problem, big guy."

Adam asked, "How'd he get so small?"

"No idea. Maybe he's like that scientist guy in Honey I Shrunk theKids. Kinda cute, isn't he?"

Paul thought, Thanks...and you're cute yourself, young lady. Just as well she had fallen for Adam; certainly she and Paul wouldn't besuited for each other. Not only was he much older than her, but there was that subtle size difference.

He looked up at her gargantuan face, with her tender eyes, gentlysloping nose, and smiling mouth. She gave Adam a nice little kisson the cheek. "Gotta get back to class." It was back into the locketfor Paul. He was the charm in her charm bracelet.

He went back to planning how to get back to normal size. If he could do that, maybe he could write a book about it all. "The Hitch-hiker'sGuide to The Microverse". ("...don't panic!...")

8

Barbara brought Paul home and told Jeff that he must have accidentally fallen in her purse. Jeff didn't believe her at first,but later figured she may be right. In a world where a man could be reduced to one-fifth of an inch tall, anything was possible.

That afternoon, Jeff found out Paul's name. Paul knew it was almost impossible to communicate with the "giants". Even ifhe crawled into on of their ears and shouted loudly, they either wouldn't be able to hear him or his voice would just be too high.But he still was able to tell Jeff his name.

Paul was standing on top of a CD jewel box, one which seemed, to him,to be 150 feet square. He recognized what album it was-- "AbbeyRoad" by the Beatles. Paul walked over the jewel box, which had a picture of the band walking across a street, and he stood right overthe only member who was barefoot. Then he jumped up and down a bit,and Jeff noticed him. He asked, "Are you trying to say your nameis Paul? It's Paul?"

Paul started clapping, bowing, and running around.

That night, Jeff decided to show off Paul to his parents. He told them he'd found an interesting discovery and brought "it" out tothe kitchen table, just before dinner. He put Paul on top of a blank audiocassette box and they all looked down at him. Barbara toldthem she knew about "him" too.

Cal and Dor looked close at the miniature man; it was no doll oraction figure but an actual man who had been greatly reduced insize. A man now living in a greatly expanded world.

"Is this was was in my pocket when we went to that game?," Cal asked Jeff. Jeff said he didn't know (that was the night BEFORE he had"found" Paul).

Cal looked over at his wife. "I told ya, I thought I saw this tinyhead peeking out from my shirt pocket." With that, Cal gently lifted up the cassette box and put it in his left hand, with his right handcupped around it in case Paul fell off. He got a closer look atthe shrunken scientist.

What Paul saw was a 350 foot long face, with a forest-like beard(which he had briefly been part of, the other day). Paul could have crawled into his ears or nose. Cal could have knocked Paul overwith his breath had not Cal ingested some mouthwash (at Jeff'sinsistence) just before then. Now, Paul was nearly knocked overby the minty smell of the mouthwash, instead.

Jeff's parents got a good look at him and they both told him totake care of his new tiny friend. "I'm not sure where he camefrom, but I know you can take care of him," said Doris. "We canall help."

He put Paul and the box back on the table. "Hope you enjoyed that game, little guy." (Thanks for the beer!, Paul 'thought' up to him.)

Both Cal and Dor were just under 6 feet tall, meaning they seemed2,100 feet tall to Paul. Cal's feet were about 10 inches long,which would be like 300 feet to Paul-- yes, each of Cal's sneakeredfeet was about as long as a football field.

Pretty huge.

Cal gave his son a small plastic box about one inch square. To Paulit was house-sized. The box had contained some cuff links; they knocked air holes in it. Jeff could carry Paul around in the box.(There was a clasp which "the giants" could open and close butPaul would be unable to to the same.) Next, Jeff put the box on a chain which he could wear around his neck.

The next day, Jeff took Paul to school, in the box. He took Paul out to show his classmates while at lunch.

A few days before, these 11 and 12 year old boys would have beenconsidered scrawny pipsqueaks by Paul-- literally 98 pound weaklingswith thinner arms, wrists, legs, and ankles than adults. Smaller,shorter, and weaker. But now they were beyond huge to him, at least1,800 feet high.

Jeff explained that he'd found this tiny man in his house and theyall got a good look at him. They were amazed! All went well tillone of Jeff's classmates grabbed Paul and opened up his half-pintcontainer of chocolate milk; Paul was dropped 100 feet or so intothe box, which the boy then closed up. He looked at the othersand flashed a devilish grin.

"WHAT ARE YA DOIN'? GIMME THAT!," Paul heard Jeff yell. Outside,there were shouts and sounds of a struggle. Inside, Paul was swimming in a pond of chocolate milk, the box being jostled by thegiant pre-teens.

The next thing that happened chilled Paul to the bone. The flap on top, some 60 feet above him, was being opened by gargantuan fingers,and the box was being tilted.

It was shocking, horrifying, beyond absurd...Paul was about to be drunk by an 11 year old boy! He would soon be in the stomach of--

But it was not to be. The box was turned upside down and chocolatemilk came flying out, along with Paul. The titanic hands whichhad opened the box were that of-- Jeff! He had wrestled the box away.Once Jeff was sure that Paul was OK, he grabbed the boy and shoved him down to the floor. One 1,800 foot mountain grabbing another.As the other boys held the brutish boy down, Jeff grabbed Paul and put him back in the box. He was safe again, for now, in his "cage".

9

Jeff took Paul home after school. He apologized for all the trouble;Paul was understanding. In this world of giants, not everyone was going to be kind and gentle. Especially boys of 11 or 12. At least he had survived.

It had been a wild few days. Paul had expected to quickly shrink himself to 2 feet tall, then grow back to normal. Who knew that hiscalculations were off, thus resulting in the shrinkage to one-fifthof an inch tall. Or that his machine would be inadvetantly destroyed,leaving him a bug sized man who was too small to even be able tocommunicate with these giants.

Paul could have just given up. He didn't have to run from the hugesandal of Barbara Grande. He could have let that bully drink him along with the chocolate milk. Just end it, let it be over. There would be no more dangers with a quick, painless (he hoped) death.Why did he strive to survive, then?

Life was so much more difficult now. There was just about no chancehe'd get back to normal size. He'd settle for 2 or 3 feet tall.6 inches tall. Anything but this size. But no growth was forthcoming.

The "wow" factor was now gone. For awhile, he had been awed at howdifferent the world seemed from his new perspective. How ordinarypeople, animals, or objects had become frighteningly huge. No, he was used to that now. Instead, he was just striving to live day afterday.

(Doesn't everybody do that?, he asked himself. They try to survive every day. True, but they weren't THIS small.)

After school, Jeff sat in a park, his knees pointing up and Paulsitting on the left one. Paul looked down at the grass and flowers,which would be way over his head. The 250-foot-tall squirrelsrunning up tree trunks and the nearly 2,000 foot tall kids walking or running around. There were cool ocean breezes to be felt from on top of Knee Hill, lending a fresh tint to a late summer day.

Paul decided to slide down Jeff's over-400-foot-long lower leg. Hemade a cushioned landing at the ankle, into a thick white sock. Then he climbed down from Jeff's sneaker, landing in the jungle of thegrass.

"Don't go too far," he heard Jeff say.
I couldn't if I tried, thought Paul. How far can I go at this size without getting tired, a few feet?

Paul's thoughts of ending it all had been replaced; it was such a nice day that maybe he found something to live for. He took in the glories of the--
THUMP! THUMP!

Shocked, Paul looked off into the distance. It was coming straight for him, hundreds of feet high, weighing countless tons. A blur of orange-red which pawed along steadily; it was on top of him before he could even register what it was. Suddenly, Paul looked up to see a long furry face above him-- an endless snout, huge eyes and ears,canine teeth that could gobble him in a micro-second. The monster creature put its head down and Paul found himself fleeing. A massivemetal object hung down while another, made of plastic and metal,headed straight for him. He jumped to avoid it but instead wound upa part of it.

With that, the golden retriever took off in a run, with Paul holding on to its collar and trying to avoid the wild flying dogtag that was nearby.

Jeff looked over and noticed the pooch--maybe he took off with Paul! He gave chase but couldn't catch up--and now the dog was beingushered into a car, followed by a 2,100 foot tall figure wearing a New England Patriots replica Tom Brady jersey.

Jeff collided with another kid, which delayed him a second--by then it was too late. The figure in the deep blue Patriots jersey, a tall, 14 year old boy, got into the passenger side and petted the dogwhich was in the back. The boy's father said, "We gotta get back, son. Good thing Kevin recognized the car--I didn't want to chasehim all over the park."

"Yup!"
Jeff couldn't keep up with the car driving away. He didn't notice just who had gotten into the passenger seat before the car took off.It was one Adam Chicopee.

They've got Paul! and they don't even realize it!, thought Jeff.

10

So now Paul was on a dog (almost like a flea) in a car, with Barbara's friend Adam Chicopee in the front seat. Paul climbed into the dog's ear and tried to keep still (hoping the hound wouldn't start to "scratch" his ear). They all went into's Adam's house andthe dog suddenly shook his head, as if to shake something free.Paul abruptly fell to the floor, thankfully unhurt.

Adam went over to his computer, kicked off his sneakers, and beganto do online chatting. Paul figured he might be able to get backto the Grandes if he made himself apparent to the boy.

Mount Adam was the highest of the Chicopee range, standing a full73 inches in height (or, 2,190 feet to Paul). His ascent began byclimbing over Adam's white-socked foot; Paul's tiny hands and feetwere un-noticeable to the taller-than-average 14 year old. Next,he ascended Adam's sweat pants (going over the lap was easier, asit was level) and then his T-shirt. When Paul was halfway up the shirt, Adam leaned toward the screen and looked for a pencil. Thatwas Paul's chance to leap across to the desktop. He had to be careful not to fall down to the floor; it wasn't like he had a parachute. Paul had to jump a certain way across a great divideto make it to safety.

The great divide was about two inches. Sixty feet to him. Now!

The bug resembling a human made a successful landing on the desk,then had to dodge Adam's monstrous hand. He climbed onto the keyboard and thought about then making it to the edge of the monitor screen but the distance up to it was too great. There had to be away to--

A great clacking noise was made as Adam resumed typing. His longdigits moved up and down the keys and Paul ran off, avoiding them.He found himself next to the "Esc" key in the upper right handcorner...well, he didn't know what it said because it was markedon the top and the key was about 9 feet high. And then he was seen.

Adam had stopped for a moment and glanced down. Paul Robertsonwaved frantically up at him; Adam put his index finger down gentlyand Paul climbed aboard, slipping a bit on the nail.

"I promise not to sneeze this time," he said. "Just a sec..."
Adam placed Paul over to the side and resumed his typing:

adamc14: hey barb guess who i just found??
bgrande: who

adamc14: that lil dude you showed me yesterday; was he lostor something

11
As of result of the instant message, Barbara (and Jeff) headed over to Adam's house to get Paul. When they got there, they showed Adam the daily paper. Jeff had spotted an article about a missing scientist and the piece of information which jumped out at him was that the scientist, a professor at the local university, was namedPaul (Robertson). The tiny man had stood on a Beatles CD to showhim that he was named Paul.

Barbara said they were going to call the woman mentioned in the article, who had said that the scientist was working on a specialinvention. The invention wasn't specified in the article, but the giant kids could guess.

Paul was in a soda bottlecap, looking up beyond the walls at the giants. He was far too small to talk to them or write somethingso he just hoped they would go about things the right way.

Adam took out a phone book and they found the phone number forGeri and called her. Paul could only hear one side of the conversation but he could gather that their next stop would be tovisit her (she was a couple blocks away) and that's just what they did.

Adam tagged along. They rang Geri's doorbell and Geri's son Tommyanswered it; then Adam, Jeff, and Barbara all followed him into aliving room to meet his mother. (That's one of the reasons I'mnot back to normal size, Paul thought. If he hadn't stepped onthe machine... But Paul couldn't blame the kid. The machine was sotiny anyone could have stepped on it, not knowing.)

Geri looked in the bottlecap and saw the tiny figure, still clad ina T-shirt, jeans, and sneakers. She thanked the kids for finding him."Now the only thing is, how do we get him back to normal size?We couldn't find whatever he used to shrink himself. And we lookedall over his office and couldn't find any blueprints for a machinethat would shrink somebody."

Geri looked down into the bottlecap. "Don't worry, Paul, we'll try to help you. I'll get in touch with your family--oh, and your landlord. We'll tell him you're unexpectedly away... if you paid him 'first and last', you probably will still have control of your placetill the end of next month. Now do you think we should take you back there?"

"Uh, I don't think he can answer you at his size," said Jeff. "Y'knowwhat, we can take care of him--we have been."

Geri looked down into the bottlecap. "Maybe that's the best idea,"she told him.

"It's really sad," said Adam. "I'll bet he could rebuild his machine and find a way to get back to normal, but he's so tiny, and what kind of materials could he use...and how could he do that at hissize?"

Geri nodded. "And we can't really talk to him-- I mean, he can'treally talk to us-- to show us how to build one."

"Maybe it'll wear off someday and he'll get back to normal,"said Barbara.

It could happen, thought Paul, but he thought it unlikely. Whichmeant the rest of his life might be spent at this size.

"Well, these kids seem to be taking good care of you, Paul,"said Geri. "At least you're still safe."

Safe? Not exactly, he thought. There were still so many dangersfor a bug sized man.

He hoped that some other scientist could develop a shrinking/growing machine, which could bring him back to normal size. But how long would it be for that to happen?

In the meantime, he had food, shelter, and giant people to look out for him. Some other professor at his university could take overhis classes (as Dr. Paul Robertson, being considerably smaller than a piece of chalk, would be unable to do so at his current state).His family and friends would hopefully rest easy knowing he wassafe...but the size of a mosquito (maybe not even...)

They departed, with Adam heading back to his own house and Jeff and Barbara going back to theirs. Paul was put back into his carrier,the one which had previously held cuff links and was now part of a chain around Jeff's neck. Before the kids left Geri's house, Paulheard something which was a glimmer of hope.

"I actually do pretty well in science; maybe I can invent a machineto bring him back to normal. Maybe get together with some ofthe professors he works with."

Paul looked up at Adam, the mountain-sized 14 year old. Adam smiled down at him. And Paul could sense that maybe, just maybe, he hada chance.

It was probably a longshot.
But it was still a chance.

-12-

So Paul was re-united with the Grannndes, but it wouldn't last long. A few days later, Jeff was out for a walk in a city park; Paul was in his container which was connected to a thin chain around Jeff's neck.Some people wear a cross on such a chain; Jeff had a tiny man.

Suddenly the bully from Jeff's class showed up-- he quickly tried toremove the chain from Jeff's neck! They two boys struggled, rolling on the ground with shouts of "give it back!" and "it's mine, yasquirt" echoing through the mostly-empty park. Inside his container,Paul was bouncing around like clothes in a dryer. Then suddenly hesensed that one boy had grabbed the chain and was running away.

That's just what had happened...only the boy was Nathan; aka the bully who had dunked Paul in chocolate milk. He could hear an adultsay, "There you are--let's get going", followed by the closing of a car door. In the distance he could hear Jeff still yelling forNathan to come back...he got closer to the car but once the carstarted and drove away, it was over.

Paul was trapped in the container. There was nothing he could do.

A few minutes later, he could tell Nathan had gotten out of the car. The boy took the chain (with its container) and threw it afew thousand feet off into the distance. It landed with a thud andknocked Paul unconscious.

When he came to, he groggily got up and noticed there was now a gapin the container's edge. He climbed through it and looked around.

Paul had no idea where he was. It was by the side of the road ina residential neighborhood; there were houses across the streetbut he dared not cross it (at his size, the street seemed literallya mile wide) for fear of being run over. On his side of the streetwas a sidewalk, some sort of lawn, and a stone fence. What was behindthe fence--a cemetary? Park? School? He had no idea.

Well, he couldn't just stay there. He had to find out where he was,find shelter...maybe hitch a ride with a giant. It seemed likeit was dawn outside (5 or 6 am?). Not much in the way of traffic,either human or vehicular.

He walked along, remembering the days when he was a college student.Some days he'd awake this early and, not able to get back to sleep,he'd get dressed and drive (6 miles) to college. He'd get a goodparking space then take a relaxing walk in the quiet neighborhood.

At this point, the wall on his right had ended. Now there were houses on this side of the road as well. He decided to try thefirst one.

He could have gone under the door but figured he'd get in by a different method. The morning paper was lying on the front steps,wrapped in a plastic bag. He got in and waited. Some ten minutes later, the door opened and a giant picked up the paper. The gianttook off the plastic and opened the paper; the force of thatpropelled Paul down to the table top where he made a soft landing onan English muffin. A pat of butter bigger than he was was melting onit. Paul quickly ran over to the edge of the muffin (tearing off a bit of it to eat) then jumped down the 20 feet or so to the plate.

So he reached food and shelter-- but also there was the danger ofbeing amongst giants again, giants who may have thought he was a bug.

He munched on the tiny bit of English muffin, glancing up at the giants to keep an eye on their actions. A fortyish couple (yes,about his age) loomed above him. Would they notice him? And did he want to be noticed?

Paul surveyed the food-- gargantuan bowls of cereal, huge Englishmuffins, 120-foot-tall glasses of orange juice, and cups containinghundreds of gallons of coffee. All you can eat (safely) buffet.Price: free.

Suddenly he decided to play it safe; maybe they'd both leave soonand he could grab leftovers. It was quite true: the tiniest speckof food to the giants would be a feast to him. Then again there was the danger that he might become part of the food. He thought of the scene from "Honey I Shrunk the Kids" where the youngest, shrunkenmember of the family is swimming in a lake of cereal and is almosteaten by his own dad.

So he took cover on another part of the table and yes, they didleave after awhile. Even though the giant woman had taken the plates to the sink, there were specks of food for him-- crumbs of Englishmuffin (with strawberry jam, yet), a soggy Frosted Flake which hadsomehow made it out of the bowl.

He had no idea where he was but this would do for now.

-13-

He climbed down from the table, wondering what to do. He needed to get ahold of the Grandes or Adam Chicopee, since there was that slight chance they could help him get back to normal. Otherwise it would be life at bug's size. He'd thought earlier about the possibility that being this small would shorten his life...that somehow, small creatures had a metabolism that discouraged longlifespans. He didn't feel all that much older in the brief time he'd been one fifth of an inch tall, but who knew? How much longer did hehave?

One thing was for sure. Life at this size was dangerous, thus makingit imperative to get back to normal size.

He saw a phone line leading up to a desk. Sure, he could scale the line but how could he push over the handset at his size? And even if that happened, and if he could push the buttons to call the Grandes or Adam, he didn't know their phone number(s) and even if he did,they'd hear just about nothing at the other end.

Maybe they have caller ID and they can track him down that way--oh, he's now at such-and-such a number. Far fetched. At the very least he knew getting the handset off such a phone would be likea normal sized man trying to overturn an aircraft carrier.

He continued down a hallway, hoping to find a safe place to stay.Perhaps he was overwhelmed in his thoughts because he didn't hearit until it was too late. A shadow passed over him and instinct made him look up. He saw an 500 foot tall mass of grey fur just behind him.

A cat!

It was cautiously moving forward, gazing right down at him. Petrified, he stopped in his tracks. The cat stopped too. Nowthat cat crouched down, eyeing its tiny prey.

He dared not move. Not one tiny fraction of an inch. The cat moved a wee bit closer, gaining a few inches on him, with its muscleboundlegs and titanic paws. Guttural moans came from its throat. There was no place to hide; he was cornered.

If he ran, the cat would simply pounce on him. If he moved slowlythe cat would continue to follow him slowly. If he stayed there,sooner or later he'd be dead meat.

The cat lifted up its right paw slowly, to about 70 feet off the ground. A split second before it came down, Paul started to runTOWARD the cat. The paw landed right where he HAD been; but now,Paul was about to try a crazy means of escape.

He'd noticed the cat's whiskers extended down to the floor. Paulran over and grabbed one tight; the cat lifted its head, just as Paul started climbing the whisker, headed straight for is head.If he weren't careful, he'd land right in its monstrous mouth.

He got to the mouth and climbed up, up, to the top of the head,hopeful that the cat didn't glimpse him out of the corner of oneeye.

Flea sized Paul ran into the cat's ear. The cat rolled over, trying to shake him free--and he did! Paul squirted out of the ear, landing on the floor. Racing as fast as he could, he noticed an old heatregister in the corner of the room. It was covered with a wood frame,with space just under it--about seven feet to him. He scrambled under it and hid.

The cat hastened over to the heat register, noting where Paul had gone. He tried to bump it with his paw but couldn't find him.

That's because Paul started running hundreds of feet away, under the wood framed heat register. The gap of one quarter of an inch at the bottom was perfect: enough to hide him from the cat as he skittered along.

Suddenly he noticed a thin cord in the back of the register. It extended way, way up-- it was connected to the blinds of a window.This was what the giants used to raise or lower the blinds. Hescrambled up it a few hundred feet and jumped off onto the windowledge.

The window was open just a crack-- some 20 feet to him. Paul ran over to the space between the storm window and a screen and resteduntil he was sure the cat had given up.

The cat sniffed around the living room a bit, then left (and a noise from the kitchen made Paul suspect the feline had exited via a petdoor, to the outside). Paul rested a moment and reflected on theamazing miracles that saved his life just then.

First of all, it was miraculous that he could climb onto the cat itself and get it to roll over, thus ejecting him onto the floor inthe opposite direction-- he no longer would be cornered. Next, he noticed just how far he had run...30 inches or so, but to him that was like 900 feet. In a few seconds he had run the length of threefootball fields, on feet that were only one-thirty-fifth of an inchlong.

Finally, he realized that his life was saved because he was TOOsmall! If he had been slightly bigger, he wouldn't have been ableto take shelter under the heat register's wood covering. Being onefifth of an inch tall actually saved him. He was able to fit.

Only he had to put up with a world so greatly out of whack. A worldwhere he could climb up a cat's whisker (which seemed as thick asrope to him), hide in a pocket, nearly drown in a box of milk,and so on. His brain power helped him out and the urge to survivealmost gave him superhuman powers. (again, if he were full sized,would he have been able to run some 900 feet in just a few seconds?That's pretty much what he just did. Then again, he was being chased by a cat...)

He longed for the day when he could sleep in a normal sized bed;get in a car and drive off; feed and shelter himself without havingto depend on giants.

Paul curled up and dozed off for a sec, having an odd dream: heimagined he was actually the figment of someone's imagination,a postal worker who would get home every night from work andwrite another chapter about a tiny man-- him.

Then there was another fragment of a dream, in which he and anotherman were each one fifth of an inch tall and were dueling it out.They were using lancets, those pin-prick needles used by diabeticsto help test their blood sugar...and at their size, the tiny lancetsseemed 8 feet long. He was about to jab the other tiny man when suddenly the dream shifted. Now he was in a spaceship, miniturizedand cruising through somebody's bloodstream. He was microscopic and--

A loud noise suddenly awakened him. He saw the giantess who he'dseen that morning; now she was entering her house bearing somegroceries. He heard her set them into the kitchen...then she headedright into the living room, where she inserted her gigantic fingersbelow the window to raise it. The sound was deafening as she raised the window up hundreds of feet. A cool breeze circulated through;it was rather calm but still nearly blew Paul over the window sill.

She noticed him.

There he was, standing on the window sill and gazing up at her. A teeny tiny man, fraction of an inch tall. He started to back awaybut she told him not to be afraid. Trusting her, Paul climbed onto her outstretched hand.

She took him into the kitchen where she got a closer look at him.Paul was overwhelmed by her gargantuan visage, stretching hundreds of feet above him. The giantess was his age and kind of plain-looking. In other words, not a super model but not too bad either.But he wasn't so much interested in her looks as in her manner.She was gentle and pleasant toward him...concerned about him.He felt exhausted physically and mentally and really just neededsome time to figuratively "catch his breath".

"My, I've never seen such a tiny person. You must be a fairy orsomething; I used to love reading about fairies when I was a lil'girl."

This was no fairy though--he was certainly tiny enough to be one,but she saw no wings. If anything, he kind of looked like an average40 year old, bearded man (he hadn't shaved since he'd shrank). "Sodangerous for you here, little man. I can protect you!"

Paul jumped up and down eagerly in her hand. (For starters, he"thought" up to her, you might want to get rid of that cat...)

As with other giants, he could hear them just fine but they couldn't hear him speak, even if he tried. He wound up using gestures tocommunicate to her. When she asked him if he was hungry, and nodded,"no" at her and tapped his miniscule stomach with one of his very tiny hands, almost as if to say, "That's OK, I'm full."

"You look exhausted, little guy. Maybe a relaxing bath would help.Oh...and by the way, I'm Joy. Joy Geisinger...short for Joyce."

Joy got out a plastic measuring spoon for coffee, rinsed it, and put some warm water in it. He stripped to his underpants (using them like a kind of bathing suit) and got in, taking a combination swim and bath. (She'd put a drop or so of dishwashing detergent in to serve as soap.) It was relaxing. Afterwards, he got out and wrappedhimself in a speck of a paper towel as Joy took his miniscule clothes and dipped them in the spoon to wash them.

He sat on her hand, drying off more fully, as his clothes dried on top of a matchbox. Then he got re-dressed.

"Feeling a bit better now?," she asked him (not expecting a response.) He jumped up and down joyfully on the kitchen table."That's good. My pleasure to help out a little one like you."

She dug a photo out of her purse and showed it to Paul. "That'smy son David. He's seven--well, he was seven. We lost him a fewmonths ago. He had cancer."

Paul's eyes teared up and he felt a lump in his throat. He kneeled down and cast his head down, then looked up at her and said, "I'm sorry to hear that...Joy."

As if she heard him, Joy replied, "We tried to make every momentcount for him. Do what we could. His body couldn't just take itanymore." Paul went over to her hand, tapped her huge finger,and looked down.

Poor kid, he thought. Here I am belly-aching about being so small,and her son didn't make it to his eighth birthday.

"Thank you. It's too bad he's not here now. He'd get a kick out of you, that's for sure." She carefully put her index finger on topof Paul's head and rubbed his hair around a bit. "So now I guess I have another little one to take care of."

He looked up and down at her; she was clad in a a pretty blue andwhite dress...far below, her tender bare feet were in sandals.It was so unfair that he was so much smaller than she. He wanted to hug her now but it would be like a bug trying to hug a normal sized person.

And yet, the size difference didn't seem to matter. They weretwo forty-ish human beings talking, even though one was too smallto be understood (at least verbally) and the other seemed well over 2,000 feet tall.

She cared for him. He felt good. Sure, Jeff, Barbara, and Adamhad loved and cared for him, though sometimes he wondered if theythought of him as just an unusual pet.

But Joy the giantess also loved and cared for him, with what wasmostly a motherly kind of love. She could take care of him, atleast for now.

Paul walked over to the huge picture of David, her late son.He looked down and thought, poor kid.

Everytime things looked bleak for Paul, he thought of David Geisinger, who would never reach adulthood or even adolescence.

Yes, some people in this world had it worse than he did...

to be continued-15-Joy's husband, Henry ("Hank") came home after awhile and he was formally introduced to him. Hank's eyes widened when he saw the tinyPaul. "We can take care of him easily, enough..."

Paul heard a noise then ran over to the edge of the kitchen table.He saw that the cat was back, coming in through the pet door.Paul skittered over to a corner. "Oh... I hope Butch didn't give you any trouble today, little man," said Joy. The mountain sized woman went over to the cruise ship sized cat, lifted it up, and threw it back out, then locked the pet door. "He's usually an outdoor catanyway," she told Paul. Paul could hear claws longer than he wasscratching at the door.

Suddenly Paul noticed it: a cell phone that Hank had placed on thekitchen table. He ran over to it and touched it with one nearly microscopic hand. "He's trying to tell us something," saidHank to his wife.

Joy placed her index finger down and Paul climbed on the back of a nail; he wound up on top of the cell phone. The phone was on already;he went over to the Menu button and jumped on it a couple times.The button was maybe 8 feet long, 4 feet wide, and 2 feet up toPaul. He went over to the keypad and started jumping on various keys(the display said Welcome Message).

It worked like this: "abc" was assigned to "2", "def" to 3, and so on. If you pressed "2" once, you got an "a' on the display. If you pressed "2" three times, a "c" would show up. Paul quickly typed outthe message, jumping on each key

c a l l a d a m c h i c o p e e

Hank and Joy looked at each other They went to get their phone book and looked up the Chicopee residence (God don't let it be an unlistednumber!). It was indeed listed, and the only Chicopee in town,so Joy called it (using a land line) and asked for Adam.

She told him who she was, where she lived, and that "a very tinyman is asking for you".

Adam jumped up and down in delight. He typed out

u s a v e d m y l i f e
t h a n k u

When Adam came over, Barbara and Jeff in tow, he explained what was going on... how Paul was a scientist who, they thought, accidentallyshrunk himself. "I'm working on a way to get him back to normal,"said Adam.

"That bully Nathan took him from me...I don't know how he got here,"said Jeff.

Adam told Jeff and Barbara he could take care of Paul for awhile."Maybe I can get that device to work." They all thanked theGeisingers. Paul did, too, getting down on his knees and lifting his arms up as if praising them to glory.

"Take care, little man. Stop by and visit when you're back to normal," chuckled Joy.

In some ways, Paul didn't want to leave that house, but if going back to Adam meant a chance to be normal sized again...

That night, Paul slept on top of a flat eraser (nice and firm) on a desk in Adam's room. He dreamt that he was back home again, back tofull size, and going out to the porch of his apartment near the beach.

Paul stood there next to a railing on the third floor porch, looking up at the stars and fast moving clouds, his bare feet resting onthe wooden porch beneath them. He smiled then went back inside.He was taller than the refrigerator. The furniture was scaled to his size, including his bed, and he happily got under the covers,knowing he would no longer have to worry about cats, dogs, or11 year old bullies as tall as the CN Tower.

When he awoke it was the still the same outsized world. Mt. Adam,tallest of the Chicopee range, was putting on his glasses and headedto the kitchen for breakfast. Paul walked over to the window, whichwas open (with a screen). The night before, Adam had placed a ruleron the desk, leading to the window sill. He climbed up to the very bottom of the screen and looked out at what was still a normal sized world...to everybody but him.

When Adam came in to give him some scraps of food, he told Paulthat he was making some progress on the shrinking/growing machine.He showed him a device that kind of looked like a small hairdryer. Adam pointed it at Paul and hit a button. Nothing happened.

Until a minute or so later, when Adam came over to Paul and placeda small (6-inch long) ruler next to him. Paul had already sensedsomething was happening, but the ruler confirmed it. He had suddenly grown five-fold.

The 2,190 foot giant now seemed more like 450 feet tall. The room around him still looked fairly big, but Paul was floored to seejust how tall he now was.

One inch tall.

That didn't seem like much, but to Paul it was the best news he hadever heard. It was a sign that the end could be near.

"I'm off from school today," said Adam (it was a holiday), so I can help you out with this. It may take awhile...I want to go slow, just in case.

Jeff and Barbara came over to see Paul. They were shocked. The incredibly tiny figure they could barely see was now up to fourinches tall. They could get a better look at him-- a bearded, 40year old man in a T-shirt, jeans and sneakers.

They could hear him speak now, in a very faint voice which soundedlike a cartoon mouse.

"It's working! Yes!!!!"

"Yup. But I'm not sure how far I can bring you back. You may not reach your full height...might have to settle for 2, 3, or 4feet tall."

Paul didn't care. His days as a bug sized man were most likely coming to an end

And the growth slowly progressed, to the point where Paul was a foot tall, then baby sized, and so on. He hugged all of them. They were still giants to him, but now a mere two or three times his height.

His clothes grew with him too, and he remarked that the first thing he was going to do was go back to his apartment and change his clothes, finally! They called Geri who told them she was delightedthat Paul was growing back to normal again. Turns out Paul's landlordhad held his apartment, though if Paul didn't return soon, he'drent to someone else. Paul's family was notified. Soon he'd be backto normal size and he could pick up his car (still in the universityparking garage).

Four and a half feet tall--a bit shorter than Jeff. Then they were the same size and Paul remarked, "it's hard to believe I used toclimb you people like you were mountains, and hitch rides..."

By early afternoon, Adam's slow-but-sure regrowing of Paul wascomplete. He had occasionally pointed the shrink/grow ray at himand by the time he passed 5 feet tall, he did one last application.Sure enough, Paul stopped at precisely 5 foot 10. He still found himself looking up at Adam but that was only because Adam was6 foot 1.

Paul again thanked everybody profusely and, in fact, bought pizzasfor the whole gang. "You're a genius," he told Adam, "and I canwork with you on that shrink/grow ray."

"It seems to work fine."

"Well, it worked on me, but we haven't tried the shrinking partyet. And we'll have to see if my height remains steady, but I'msure it will."

Adam and Paul walked toward the university. Suddenly Paul heardsome kids' voices. One kid seemed to be bullying another--and the name Nathan kept popping up.

Paul glanced over-- he saw a kid no taller than his shoulders,but somehow he seemed familiar.

"Can I borrow that for a second?"

"Sure, Paul..."

"Let's see... partial power? Naw, FULL POWER..."

With that, Paul aimed the device at the 11 year old. In an instant,the young bully was reduced to a couple of inches tall. He wassurrounded by Paul's sneakers, and shocked to see the giant,35 times his size.

Paul picked up tiny Nathan by his thumb and forefinger. "Hey,I remember you."

"Lemme down! Pleeease..."

Paul looked over at Adam. "Oh that reminds me; I gotta stop at the convenience store. I got a sudden craving for chocolate milk..."

END


ALTERNATE ENDINGS:
POSSIBLE ENDING: Paul shrinks more;

Paul was now one one-hundreth of an inch tall. So every inch felt like six hundred feet to him. Every nine inches seemed like a mile.Instead of dealing with 2,000 foot tall schoolkids, now they were40,000 feet tall.
He suddenly was surrounded by two sneakers. Each of them was a milelong.

He had no idea who it was wearing those sneakers. He sensed it was one of Jeff's classmates (all of whom were almost 7 miles tall).He started to climb the cliff face of the sneaker, starting withthe very bottom level. 600 feet to him.

The giant suddenly crouched over to tie the lace of the sneaker,which had come undone. The face was a mile high; an incredibly huge nose and mouth, impossibly high eyes. It was the face of--the bully who had dunked him in the chocolate milk!

--etc.!

Possible ending #2--Paul gets stepped on

Warning: perhaps not for the squeamish?

Geri and her 10 year old son Tommy stopped by the Grande house to see Paul. She was the co-worker who had taken her son to show himPaul and his amazing shrinking/growing machine. Neither of them had any idea that Tommy would accidentally step on the tiny machine (fortunately, Paul had taken cover... this was right after he hadshrunk to a quarter of an inch tall).

Jeff told them he thought Paul was in a soda bottlecap in his room.He went over to get it...but didn't know that Paul was actually outfor a little walk. He was in the hallway when suddenly he trippedover a penny. Paul went sprawling onto the floor; he'd landed in such a way that his body twisted and he screamed in pain.

"I think he's here somewhere," he heard Jeff say.

To his horror he looked up and saw that Geri and Tommy wereheaded right for him.

Get up! Get up now while you still have a chance!, he toldhimself. Drag yourself up, limp if you have to, just get up!

1,800 foot tall Tommy was excited. "I get to meet a real teenyguy!" He walked toward Jeff's bedroom, with no idea just what wasabout to happen.

The last thing Paul saw was the towering figure of a ten year oldboy almost directly above him. A 250 foot long sneaker rose abovehim. It was almost like slow motion, even though it took justone second.

Thousands of tons of weight descended down on Paul Robertson, the40-year-old genius who had invented the shrinking machine.He screamed in horror as the sneaker got closer and closer."AAAAAAHHHHHH!" Then his pain was over. The sneaker came down upon him and flattened him like a pancake. Bones crushed, his headexploded, and a tiny spot of blood soaked the floor and part ofTommy's sneaker.

Puzzled, Tommy lifted up his sneaker and looked at the bottom."Just a minute ma," he said. "I think I stepped on somethin'..."

Copyright 2002 shrinkingman