The Warehouse: Alpha ChildBy Timothy Lacey
Sequel to Steve's Shrinkees
The warm desert wind blew through his golden wavy hair. His face was determined. He had one hand that was rolled up in a fist on his hip. Looking down at his other hand, his face softened as he gazed down at the three little people he held in his hand.
The little nurse was curled up against his thumb. Even though there was an age and size difference, she loved him. She rested her head against his warm leathery-like skin. It was the closest she could ever get.
The other two looked up at their leader, Steve. "It is hard to believe, it has been six months since we arrived at the warehouse," spoke Steve.
His long time friend and adviser, Skippy responded, "Yes. And if all goes to plan--- our first baby Shrinkee!" Steve smiled.
Ten miles away at Terra Nova Pass, a young teenager with short brown hair jumped out from the back of a jeep he had sneaked aboard hours before. The young teen looked around to see if there were any policemen around. He entered a small store that had everything from food to clothing. He spotted on a book rack, the book, People In MY Pockets, by T.M. Lacey. His eyes then went to the food counter, where he went and bought a tuna sub.
Coming out of the store, with sub in mouth, the teen spotted a police-car. Slowly going behind the store, he got on an old bike he saw leaning up against a dumpster whose blue paint was peeling off and headed toward the open landscape.
Opening his side cargo pocket, Steve took out four of his little people. "Hey, TM," said Steve, to the forty year old man in the white "Astroboy" tee-shirt. "Those rooms are coming just nicely."
"Thank you. If it wasn't for Jason, the real wood working mircle man, none of this would be possible." Steve stooped down to the man in the "Astroboy" tee-shirt and gave him a gentle tap on the top of his head with his finger. The little man, with a big smile on his face, bowed before his giant leader.
Later, after supper, in the Shrinkee's Common Room, Steve sat cross-legged with a dozen of his people sitting on his lap, legs and in his shirt pockets. "My little cherished ones, today is a special day. We see off a loyal member who died and wait for the birth of a new one."
Meanwhile, the teen was still peddling his stolen bike. It was getting dark and he found himself in open desert land. He was starting to become concerned for his safety. Until he spotted a few lights off in the distance. He figured they must be close to a mile away. He started moving again.
Steve got into his black sweat-jacket. Some of the Shrinkees he had in the pocket of the sweat-jacket and in the front pockets of his denim shorts. The others, were before his feet with lighted birthday candles as four others carried the remains of their community member.
The teen was getting closer, to what he could see, even in the twilight, a gray squat series of buildings. He then heard a voice. He could see a figure and before this figure were tiny moving lights before it. He got off his bike, and moved in as silent as a cat.
Climbing over a mound of dirt, the teen was shocked, at what he saw in the light of a lantern that the figure was carrying, tiny moving figures. "Little people," he said to himself.
Steve stopped at the small hole that had been dug earlier. Kneeling down, he removed the little people from his pockets and placed them on the ground. "Friends. We say goodbye to Shrinkkee Member Mary. She has only been with us for three months, but the love she gave all of us won't be forgotten."
The teen watched with fascination this most different of funerals. After the body was lowered, so he assumed, he heard the little voices in what he thought, sounded like prayer. Another sound he heard, faint but unmistakable, the sound of a baby!
Steve took the newborn into his huge hand and very slowly lifted it up and shouted, below the stars that had started to come out, "Behold, the birth of a new human. The Alpha Child. The Alpha Child of the Shrinkees!!" All the little people shouted.
Wanting to get closer, the teen moved down the mound, but in the process, disturbed a large stone. Steve and everyone else, looked in that direction. The teen didn't know what to do. He was going to step back, when he felt something stick him in the neck.
The teen opened his eyes. The last thing he remembered, was seeing that strange funeral and the tiny people with candles.
He felt a slight stinging sensation to the side of his neck. He put a hand to it, and found it covered by a small band-aid.
"Feeling better?" asked a high pitch voice. He turned his head to the direction of the voice. He thought, at first, his eyes were playing tricks on him. For a few feet away from his head, was a tiny person. He wanted to reach out and touch it, to see if it was real. The tiny figure stepped back from the approaching hand.
"It is real," said a normal sounding voice. The teen sat up. Across from him, sitting in a chair was this golden-haired teen, who looked a few years older than himself. But what really shook his mind, was sitting on this guy's lap, were several little people. And there were two more in his shirt pocket with their tiny little arms hanging over the lip of the pocket.
"What---is this place?" asked the teen, in a voice that broke into little spurts of nervous laughter.
"My name is Steve. And these little people you see are my Shrinkees. We are a new community." Steve's eyes narrowed on the new arrival. "What is your name. And what are you doing here."
The teen was silent, as he looked around the room from the bed he was on. He spotted even more of these tiny little people. Next to his bed was a side-table. On it, was another little person. This one observed the teen, had a hunch-back. It went right to the edge of the table. The little figure started to gesture, when it tipped forward and fell off.
The teen caught the little man in his hand. Steve learned forward in his chair, looking intently at the new arrival. The teen was mesmerized, by the little figure that was getting itself back on to its feet. Finding it hard to to smile, the new arrival asked, the little man in his hand, "Are you ok?"
"Quite unharmed my boy." The little man bowed and extended his tiny hand to the teen. "My name is Skippy and welcome!"
The new arrival, with now a big smile on his face, extended his right index finger to Skippy and said, "My name is Marc." The teen watched with ever growing interest and delight, as the little man grabbed with both hands the end of his finger. "Glad to meet you Skippy," responded the teen in a happy voice, whose face also softened up.
"So Marc, what brought you to us?" asked Skippy.
The new arrival looked up at Steve, and answered, "Nothing. I was riding a bike out there in the desert, I was getting tired and hungry, when I spotted the lights of this place."
"Are you in trouble son?" asked Skippy.
The new arrival looked down at Skippy and back up at Steve. For he figured the one called Steve was in control. His face became hardened again. "I ran away from the foster parents I was living with." His lips became tight. "I didn't like the creeps, who saw me as an easy way to get money from the state."
Skippy glanced at Steve, who signaled him with a nod of his head to continue. Steve saw that the new arrival felt more at ease talking to Skippy. "Where are your parents."
"They're dead. Is the questioning now over," said the new arrival with some anger.
Steve, took the Shrinkees that were on his lap, and placed them on the floor. He then went over to the bed and sat on the edge of it, as the new arrival studied with his eyes, the little person in his hand. "I have the safety of my friends and family, the Shrinkees, to consider. That is why all the questions," said Steve sincerely.
"What is it all for?" asked the new arrival, Marc.
"We hope to start a new and better human community."
"Did you force them to be shrunken, I mean, you must be the one doing the shrinking," asked Marc.
"It started off as revenge. By accident, I found a way to shrink people. And I shrunk a person who was a bully to me for revenge. Then I liked the idea of having my own group of people to keep. But soon, many of the first ones I shrunk, especially one called Melody, told me it was wrong. Others, that I had brought here, who were living out on the streets and felt beaten down by society, wanted to stay. So a little community was forming."
Steves face became sad. "Then half the town blew up from an accident at a chemical plant. The explosion also took my only parent, my father. I was going to revert everyone back to their former size, but we decided to stay as we are, and start on our own."
Marc said, "Wow. This is so awesome. What happened to the bully you shrunk".
"Oh, he is still here and he is my friend as is all."
Skippy added, "Steve is our leader. But we also call him Archon."
"What does Archon mean?" asked Marc.
"Archon, is Greek for judge."
Another voice tiny voive was heard. "He is a wonderful leader." To his surprise, Marc saw another tiny person. This tiny man had climbed up the side of his bed via the sheets.
Steve looked down at his tiny community member and lifting him up, by his tiny shirt with two fingers said, "This is Adam."
Steve lowered Adam down on to Mac's hand, right next to Skippy. "Hi Marc. I am the offical spoke-person for the Shrinkees!"
Marc gave Adam a nod of the head, to give the little guy's introduction some official flavor, since Adam seemed proud of his job, in this strange community.
"I'am surprised you didn't shrink me," said Marc to Steve.
"I would have, but at the time, no shrinking fluid was ready." More serious, Steve asked, "Where do we go from here?"
When Marc was feeling better, after the affects of the drug that had knocked him out, Steve showed him more of the Shrinkees community. He was taken to a large room that Marc figured could have once been a storage area. In part of the room, was an area with wooden cubicles. Another area had little tables, chairs and even a play area with a tiny basketball hoop and pool table. There was another area, this had a simple mattress on the floor. Steve turned to Marc and told him, "Most times I sleep with my Shrinkees."
Marc's eyes widened when a whole bunch of little people came up to the base of his hiking boots and in high pitched voices said hello to him.
"Go ahead pick a couple up. You were holding two before." Marc knelt down before them. He cupped his hand behind two shrinkees and gently wrapped his fingers around them. The two Shrinkees were pressed up against each other. Marc could feel the beating of their little hearts against his fingers. He got a kick as their little arms drapped over his fingers. They looked up at him and smiled.
"They're smiling up at me. They're not scared?"
"No, they are showing you that they trust you. I came to find that trust to be a beautiful thing," said Steve, looking adoringly at the two Shrinkees that Marc held. "You can put them down now, I want to show you the outside of the place."
Steve took Marc outside the warehouse showing him the several squat buildings that are becoming a world of its own.
Steve and Marc talked. Steve made it clear he couldn't allow anything to compromise the safety of the Shrinkees. "I understand that," said Marc, who started walking up a small hill thinking.
Steve watched him walk up the hill wondering what to do. He felt Marc wasn't a bad sort.
Steve started pacing when he heard Marc's cries for help. He raced up the small hill. Steve found that Marc had gone too close to the edge, where the ground had gave way from his weight. Marc was hanging on to the roots of a small tree that was growing out of the side of the hill. Below Marc was a fifty foot drop. "Hang on!" shouted Steve.
Marc could feel the tree start to give. "Hurry!" Steve laid on his stomach and tried to extend his arm to Marc. Steve could see the tree pulling out of the ground.
"We don't have much time. When I tell you, try and press against that stone at your left foot as hard as you can. I think I can then get you. But you must do it when I say it." Marc nodded his head. Steve took off the belt to his pants tied one end around his ankle and the other around a small but firm stone that was embedded in the ground.
Steve turned around once more on his stomach, and as far as the belt would allow, slid over the top of the side of the hill. He extended his hand to Marc, whose face was white with fear. "Ok, prepare and push yourself up on the rock---NOW!"
Marc did and grabbed hold of Steve's hand. Steve was in pain; he could feel the strain at his shoulder. "Stick your butt out out, Marc, and use the tips of your boots against the dirt." After a few attempts, Marc found he could, while pulling on Steve's arm, make it to the top.
"Oh crap, my arm kills," said Steve half joking and half serious.
They rested for an hour on top of the hill.
When they got to their feet, Marc said, "You saved my life. What is your bidding my prince?"
"Cut that out. We are practically the same age. And I am not a prince."
"I mean it Steve. No one ever showed me such kindness---I---I want to pay you back. I will stay and help you with the Shrinkees."
Steve's face was firm. "NO! If you stay, you do it for love of the Shrinkees and the life we are trying to do here. Not out of some form of pay back." Steve then started down the hill.
"I mean it Steve. I want to be part of your new world." Steve stopped walking.
Three hours later, Steve brought Marc before the Shrinkees. "Marc says he wants to join us and work along side me in the work with you all. It would mean, for most part, he would stay as a giant, but before that can happen I want him among you."
Marc asked, "What do you mean?"
Steve smiled, "I want you to be shrunk and become a Shrinkee first. You must respect them first."
"But I do."
Steve shook his head. "Because of their small size, you could see them as pets or toys. Be one of them, be one of the family." Steve put his hands on Marc's shoulders. "What will it be."
"A Shrinkee," said Marc, feeling a bit unsteady on his feet.
"I 'm glad, for we have a shrinking liquid all made up now."
Marc at first felt dazed, after the small needle was jabbed into him. He took a few steps back, when he saw Steve's giant sneakers before him. Steve squatted before Marc, as Shrinkees came up and shook his hands. One young girl looked at him with lamb's eyes.
A huge hand came and picked up Marc. He heard a few Shrinkees say, "Strange at first, but you will get use to it."
He heard another voice say, "Nothing is better than being in our great leader's hand!"
Steve brought Marc's tiny form before his massive face, and said "In my pocket, there is someone I would like you to talk to." Steve lowered him down into a side-cargo pocket to his tan trousers. Once inside the pocket, a light came on! Sitting there with him, at the base of Steve's pocket, was Skippy, who he had met before.
It's A Shrinkee World
"From behind me," said Skippy, who the best he could, at the base of the pocket, moved to the side, revealing a double A battery. Connecting to it was some wire that lead to the type of bulb you find in a flash light. "It was designed by one of our members."
"This place is like a dream. Weird but neat." Marc's face softened. "You're like a family." His face tightened up again. "Are you really?"
"I think we are. Everybody cares for each other. And we care for our giant leader, Steve. We also know he loves us."
"He seems to trust me," said Marc.
"He does and so do I. Maybe, it wasn't nice of me, but when I fell off the table, I did it on purpose. I sensed you were a good boy."
With a thoughtful look on his face, Marc replied, "What would have happen if you were wrong."
"I would have fallen on your mattress, none for worse of wear."
"But back to trust my boy. Steve needs the help of another person his size to help with the running of our community. And someone who shares his dream of building a real community of fellowship--- a community of Shrinkees. So during this period, we will get to know you and you us."
"How long will I be shrunk?"
"That is up to Steve."
"You seem to be adviser of sorts to Steve. How did you get in with him." Marc then stopped, looked down and asked him, "Were you a teacher or something."
"Was I a teacher or something. Yes I was five years ago." Seeing the questioning eyes of Marc, he went on. "I was a history teacher and married..."
"Married?!" broke in Marc.
"Yes and had a lovely six year old daughter. Five years ago on a hot summer's day, a street gang were out looking for fun." Skippy's face turned ash-gray. "They found fun in shooting down my wife and daughter in a thrill killing. I was at a store at the time. So my life ended and I lived as a crazy man under a bridge living in a box. Three years ago I met Steve. And we became friends. He would bring me clothes, food and friendship. He found my life. That is my history with Steve."
Marc didn't know what to say.
"But here with Steve and the other Shrinkees we have a purpose. One which the world seems to be losing. A sense of community and belonging. To you want to belong?"
"Yes I do," responded Marc.
"Maybe---we are cracked here---but you can be brother and father to us all and we to you. My boy you need never run from anyone because of fear again. Your suffering can be over."
Marc was filled with emotion. "I will try---my---brother Shrinkee." He leaned over and hugged Skippy. Both were in tears.
Feeling movement in his pocket, Steve reached in. When Marc saw the gigantic fingers coming for him, he let out a, "Wow!"
"Don't be scared Marc," said Skippy.
"I'm not. It just threw me for a moment seeing those huge fingers coming right at me."
Steve pulled his hand out of his pocket. And smiled down at the two little figures in his hand. "He's my leader," said Marc, with awe and admiration in his voice.
"He's is everyone's leader. (skippy placed his hands over his heart) He is our life. And we are his."
Steve lowered his hand down, were a small group of Shrinkees climbed on to his hand and brought Marc off. Marc was with the Shrinkees.
In Like Shrinkees
Everybody wanted to shake hands with Marc. One girl came up and introduced herself as Grace. They both exchanged looks and smiles.
One Shrinkee member, pushed his way through the crowd and said, "Welcome Marc! Do you remember me. I'm Adam. The official spokes-person for the Shrinkees."
"Oh sure I do," responded Marc.
A middle-aged man came up and told Marc, "My boy let me give you the grand tour. And my name is Howard" Howard lead Marc through the crowd, who followed close behind. He was taken to a black and chrome plated convertable. On the back trunk,was a giant switch. "Cool. It is a model. But it looks like the real thing," said Marc.
There was a little step letter for marc to climb, so he could step over the fake passenger door. "Ok, lets get going," said Howard. Two Shrinkee members, pushed the power switch to on. With a slight jolt, and the sound of clock-work machinery, the car started moving.
The first landmark Howard pointed out to Marc was Fleece Hill. Marc observed that the hill was made up of a gray sweat shirt and sweat pants. "Sometimes, community members like to spend a night on Fleece Hill and in one of its caves," remarked Howard.
"Caves?" asked Marc. Howard smiled. "The pockets of the sweat pants. We call them caves, since to us they are so cavernous."
Howard then went on to show Marc several of the simple living quarters. The refectory,where they have their meals. And the various make shift work areas.
Marc turned and looked back. It was an awesome and strange sight. All the Shrinkees were standing by Steve's sneakers as he towered over them.
"You might like this youngman," remarked Howard. He pointed to a basketball court.
An hour later,Howard brought the toy car back to the spot, where they had started from. In a loud commanding voice, Steve announced they would be having a special dinner in honor of the new arrival.
"You really do have your own little world," said Marc.
There were five tables where the Shrinkees could eat at. Several Shrinkees brought drinks from a plastic freezer-chest. The type you take on camping trips. Marc was amused by the sight and fact, that a small section of the freezer chest had been cut out and a door put in its place.
For drinking, plastic thimbles were lined up on one table. On another table was all sorts of deli meats cut up very finely.
When Steve came over to join everyone the ground shook from his steps. Kneeling down behind the food tables, Steve lifted up a cup and said, "Welcome to the Shrinkee community Marc."
Since the dinner was in Marc's honor, he would be have dinner with Steve. Steve lifted up Marc between to fingers and set him down on to his lap, with several other Shrinkees. Marc found being lifted up by giant fingers; still kind of scary. It was also strange to be on a giant lap having dinner. With him on Steve's lap was Skippy, the nurse and the girl Grace.
"How long have you been here?" asked Marc, admiring the girl's pretty features.
"You happy here grace?" "Oh very much so."
Marc wanted to say more to Grace, but didn't know what to say. During the silence, both would break-out with an occasional nervous little giggle.
During the dinner, a couple who use to go around the country and entertain, did a juggling act. And a few comic routines.
When the party was over, one by one the Shrinkees started to turn in to bed. Marc found he was pretty tired after the excitement of the day.
He was given a mat made out of a spounge and wrapped in a handkercheif. He was placed on the area of the floor opposite Steve's sleeping mat.
Marc was in the process of getting into his bed, when he heard Steve's giant foot steps. Steve was in a white tee-shirt and gym shorts.
As the lights in this large room started to fade a voice came on over several large speakers. "Sleep soundly. Sleep , sleep and wake up into a new tomorrow." After the pleasent voice stopped, the room went dark. The night lights stationed through-out the giant room casted a blue tint on everything, given it an almost make-believe look.
In the dim light, Marc could see a few Shrinkees sleeping on Steve's pillow. He saw the nurse go and kiss a couple of Steve's giant toes. And then go and cuddle up against his chest. There was the shuffling sound of Shrinkee's feet and the rustling of sheets and blankets. Soon the sound faded to silence. Off somewhere in the distance, Marc heard the humming of an airplane from the outside world.
Marc closed his eyes.
"Good morning---good morning Shrinkees! And what a lovely morning it is. Rise and shine. And a special morning hello to Marc," said the pleasent voice, over the inter-com.
Another voice came over the speakers, it was Steve. "Morning all. Work group three are to continue on the living quarters. This morning story for our Shrinkee's Children is, Baxter's Tree-House. That will be at ten o'clock. And Bud will be Marc's special friend during his shrunken state. Have a great day all!"
A man in his late forties, with brown hair and a square serious face came up to Marc and extended his hand. "Welcome youngman."
"sure," responded Marc, with some reserve. He thought Steve would have assigned a person closer to his age.
He notice that Bud had a slight limp. But even though he seemed a serious sort, had a real joy in him.
"You will be working with me at the children's dorm." Bud put a friendly hand on Marc's shoulders. "I know it still must be strange for you. but you will get use to it."
To get quickly over to the other side of the room, which would equal six city blocks, they used a motorized skate-board, that Steve had designed and built. "Wow!" said Marc, when he climbed on and saw the giant snake insignia on the top of the board, where feet would normaly go. "Back at my foster parent's home, I had a skate-board just like this!" He chuckled. "Nothing like this man!"
Bud used a make shift steering device, to take him and Marc over to the children's center. Several little children came and greeted them. "I knew you had a Shrinkees birth. But what about these kids?" said Marc, as he rustled up an eight year old boy's hair with his hands.
"They were found abandon and Steve, who is wonderful, took them in."
"I know all about that." Marc then re-tied a little girl's braids that had come un-done. Marc's eyes brightened up, when he saw Grace come and take the children.
Before she left with the children, Grace gave Marc a warm smile and a few quick bats of the eye-lashes.
For the rest of the morning, Bud and Marc painted and started the frame work for more rooms. Marc admired Bud's hard work. And, even for an adult, how easy he was to get along with.
At lunch, Bud told Marc he had to meet with a few people and would be back in an hour. Grace brought Marc's lunch. "Getting a little more acuminated to your new surroundings?" she asked.
"Yeah. It's so cool. The kids are great. Bud isn't a bad dude either."
"Grace---if you don't mind me asking, I know you have been here awhile, but do you miss the giant world outside?"
Grace was taken away by Marc's good looks. Bringing herslf back responded, "A little bit. But not much."
"Would you like to go back?"
"I can't." she said matter-of-factly.
"Several months ago, I told the nurse and our leader, Steve I had cancer."
"Cancer? Oh grace."
"Let me finish. Steve felt they weren't equipped to handle such an situation, though I felt better than I had. I was returned to normal. And went back to( her face stiffened)parents. The next day I had a blood test. No one at the hospital could explain it, but I was free of the cancer."
"Oh Grace thats wonderful!" exclaimed Marc.
Grace had a little frown. "Now let be continue. Several days later I became weak and sick again. Another blood test showed I had the cancer. The treatment they had lined up for me was fifty-fifty at best. I came back here in tears. Not out of fear for my life, but out of love for Steve and the Shrinkees. Shrunken, the cancer is arrested and I am truly happy here. As we discover, the poetry of what it is to be a thinking human being living with others."
Marc was silent for a moment. "Wow Grace, that's heavy."
"Yeah Marc I guess it is." Her face went sad.
"What is it Grace."
"well," she said shyly; "I like you. But once you are back to your giant size, in away you will be gone."
"Grace I won't be. I like you too---alot. Maybe from time to time, I can be shrunken again. Anyway, I could carry you in my pocket, all safe and warm. And that's no jive."
Grace smiled and gave Marc a kiss. "Oh gee." said one child. And, "Gross;" from another.
Before she left, Grace said to Marc, "I hope you will help us discover the poetry of what it is to be human."
Lunch-time was over and it was back to work. Joining Bud and Marc, was the man in the "Astro-boy" tee-shirt. He told Marc, about his hometown of Melrose, Massachusetts.
At one point, Bub called Marc over. "Hey whats up? asked Marc.
"These beams aren't very secure," said Bud, pointing them out to Marc who started to walk away. "Hey, don't walk off while I'am talking to you. This is important. We are talking about people's safty here."
Marc felt a little angry, but he calmed himself down and slowly, very slowly he was wrong.
For the next week, Marc and Bud worked together. Sometimes Marc wanted to rebel but he new he had the shrinkees to think of and Grace.
"So how is Marc coming along?" asked Steve, as he held Bud in his hand.
Bud shouted up to Steve, "Good. He has a rebellious nature though. But he also has a loving heart. Even though, he might not want to admitt it. He is also great with the children. I think he could be a super giant guardian."
"I think so too," added Steve.
Three weeks later, Marc knowing he was going to be a guardian, was getting abit cocky with Bud. He was showing up late and being bossy. Until---Bud had it. "Your a great guy Marc. And can give alot. But not if you are going to act like an ass. We need another giant to help us. Not a giant with an over bloated ego. People will depend on you. If you can't be man enough, then go."
"Hey man---I'm sorry for being late for work. But I love the Shrinkees. I know what it is to be beaten or feel lost. I will be a great guardian. So stop your Mr. Perfect routine with me. I know what suffering is about. Do you?"
Bud started clapping his hands. He then stopped. "I hope you are right for the others sake." Marc stood silent with a smug expression.
Things were cold between Bub and Marc for the next few days. However, Marc was reporting to work on time and was less bossy.
One early evening as they both were cleaning up, Marc saw old belt marks on Bub's back. He saw how his legs had scares from being cut. And how two toes were missing.
Bud saw Marc's questioning eyes. "It happened when I was a boy."
Marc broke down in tears and told Bud, "I never knew man. I'm sorry. Forgive me for being a jerk." He hugged Bud. "Please forgive me man."
"Nothing to forgive. I really am proud of you Marc," said Bud, warmly.
"I will be a great guardian. To all of you," said Marc, through tear stained eyes.
"I know," responded Bud.
Time was coming to a close for Marc as a Shrinkee. In two days, Marc would be returned to his fomer size. He would also be informed, by Steve, as to his situation in the Shrinkee community.
Marc before he was going to be returned to normal, wanted as much time as possible with Grace. "No matter my size, I will always love you," said Marc, to Grace.
Grace rubbed her hand along the side of Marc's face. "I know that. After your time among us so what do you think?"
"I'm ready. If Steve and the rest of the Shrinkees want me."
"I you don't have to worry about that."
Marc's face went serious, "grace, I can't put a finger on it. But that newest arrival Andre, who came three weeks ago, there's something about him that's not right."
"What?" asked Grace.
"Four days ago I thought I heard him talking to someone. We were at the west end of the buildings tending the new garden. Andre had gone behind some boulders. I went to investigate. As I was coming around a large stone Andre appeared. I wanted to investigate further but it was time to go."
Grace asked,"Did you tell Steve?"
"I was going to, then I thought, maybe it's because he reminds me of a creepy person I knew in one of my many foster homes. And that is what I really was feeling. I did ask Andre who he was talking to."
"What did he tell you?" asked Grace.
"That it was a habit with. But I still have a nagging feeling about him."
Grace replied, "Steve is very careful in whom he brings here. I say tell Steve and we will keep an eye on him. If we are wrong, then no problem."
Marc told Grace, "Your great." And he then kissed her on the cheek.
On the final day, Marc, who felt there should be no problem with him staying on, was still nervous. Also Steve gave no hint to Marc about his judgement in the matter.
Work was called off early that day by Steve. Marc for most of the day was at the garden. When he and the others were called to return to the center, Marc found Andre was missing. He went to look for him. As he was starting his search, Andre showed up, he had a sheepish look on his face. "Where did you go?," asked Marc.
"Oh, I just had to relieve myself," was Andre's response.
Marc was going to question him further, when several Shrinkee members came up and pulled Marc away. They put a black cloth around his eyes and told him a surprise was waiting for him.
Marc felt himself being carried quickly. When the motion stopped, there was silence. When the black cloth was taken off, Marc was before the entire Shrinkee population. And standing above it all, was Steve. Skippy walked up to a giant microphone and said, Attention, attention Shrinkee brothers and sisters. Today we are proud to welcome our new brother." Skippy paused for a moment. He then resumed, "It is my joy, to welcome Marc, as a fellow Shrinkee and our new Giant guardian!" The whole community applauded. Grace ran up and gave Marc a kiss as did the other Shrinkee's women.
Steve brought down his hand before Marc. He picked up Marc between two fingers and lifted him high above everyone. "Behold your Shrinkee brother." Steve brought Marc back to the ground, whose head was a little light headed from being hoisted high in the air, then brought down just as fast.
There was music played by the new Shrinkees band. Steve gave rides to the children. There was also a beautiful spread of food. Steve had also blown up giant colored balloons. It was all so grand.
Near the end of the festivities, came the solemn ceremony, when Marc became a Shrinkee guardian. Steve got into his new outfit, which was a black sweat vest with hood. And a pair of black pants with a white stripe going down the sides of the trousers. Marc walked up before Steve, who was kneeling down before him. "Marc you have spent several months as a shrinkee. In that time you were able to see the life we lead and the life we hope to create. In that time you have worked hard and grown both as a friend to the Shrinkees and as a person. Are you ready to accept the challenge, the mission, as a giant guardian of the Shrinkees."
Tilting his head back, Marc shouted up to Steve, "Yes I am." Marc turned toward the Shrinkee community. "Yes I am."
All the Shrinkees formed one line. Marc was told to extend his right hand. Steve said to Marc, "Each Shrinkee will kiss your hand. A hand that will soon become giant. A giant hand dedicated to helping and protecting them. Do you accept that responsibility Marc."
"Yes I do!" Steve extended his giant hand to Marc. Marc knelt down before it and kissed Steve's giant finger. He then stood up and turned back facing the Shrinkee community.
One by one, each member came and kissed the palm of Marc's right hand. Marc noticed, when it was Andre's turn, he hardly kissed his hand. Grace gave Marc's hand a deep kiss.
After that part of the cerermony was over, Skippy came and pricked Marc with a needle. Marc felt his head starting to spin. Everything went blank.
Opening his eyes, Marc found himself covered with a blanket. His eyes opened even more, when all around him, were the Shrinkees, now only inches tall compared to him. Steve handed Marc his clothes to put on under the blanket. Fully clothed, Marc stood up and over the Shrinkees. Many, including Grace, came and kissed Marc's bare giant feet.
More balloons were released. Sparkling confetti was also released. The Shrinkee band marched up and stood between Marc's giant legs, as they formed a mighty arch. Steve shouted, "PEACE TO THE SHRINKEES!!"
The Phantom Menace
Marc settled in, as a Shrinkee Guardian. Like Steve, he slept with the Shrinkee community. Steve was on one side of the room and Marc on the other, with the Shrinkees in the middle. Each night there were different members who slept with Marc. For several days in a row, Grace slept on Marc's pillow. On the six day, as a guardian, Marc went over to a work area, where he saw his friend Bud. Bud acted as a special guide during Marc's shrunken state. A smile appeared on Marc's face. "Well, well. It's my friend and guide Bud. Don't seem so big to me now." Bud looked up and gave Marc a wave. "Don't feel so big do you little man."
"What?" asked Bud. Marc didn't say a word. He reached down and picked the tiny man up. Bud crossed his arms, and said, "How you like being a guardian.
Marc's face relaxed. "I can't fool you can I Bud?" "I know you to well, my giant friend," responded Bud.
"I guess you do."
Before putting Bud down, Marc told him about his suspicions about Andre. Bud told Marc, he felt the same way.
Just then, came Steve. "Marc I am going to the airport to pick up Mike."
"Mike?" asked Marc.
"Yeah. Before I moved the Shrinkee Community here, I had told Mike Ingerson, whose a distant relative of mine about the Shrinkees. I even showed him several. He became an honorary Giant Guardian. He will be spending a few weeks with us."
"Cool." Then Marc added; "I have strong suspicions about Andre."
"I don't see how anybody would have found out about us. I do use the computer, but I have several fail-safe codes programed in. I suppose in the very first days here, someone could have picked up my computer traces." Steve's face went serious; "I still think it is unlikely anybody knows about us, but stay alert. I won't be back until evening." Before leaving, Steve made his rounds to all the Shrinkees.
When Steve had driven off, Marc returned to the inside of the warehouse, he wanted to keep an eye on Andre. As he was crossing the Shrinkee's recreation room, Adam ran up to the front of Marc's work boot. Seeing the little guy, Marc lowered his hand down. Adam climbed up on to the giant hand. "So, what can I do for you, our official spokesperson for the Shrinkees," said Marc.
"I wanted to tell you Guardian Marc, I had met Mike."
Marc held back the impulse to chuckle. He always was amused by how excited Adam was about his position as spokesperson. "Did you like him?" asked Marc.
"Oh sure. He's a cool dude."
Four hours later, at Irwin Allen International Airport, Steve waited for Flight 612: from Denver, Colorado. When the plane had landed, Steve was there at the gate. He spotted Mike who had a large duffle bag slinged over one shoulder. Even though Mike was twelve years older than Steve, Steve considered Mike as a contemporary. "Hey Mike, over here." Seeing Steve, Mike waved back.
When there wasn't anybody close by, Mike asked Steve, "Did you bring any of the Shrinkees with you?"
Making a quick sweep with his eyes, feeling it was safe, Steve took from his shirt pocket, Skippy. He lowered him down into Mike's hand. "Hi Skippy. I remember you."
Skippy extended his tiny hand to Mike. Putting his index finger before Skippy, the little man, using both hands, shook the tip of Mike's finger.
"We have a new giant guardian. His name is Marc."
"So then you must really trust him, I assume."
Steve replied, "Oh yeah."
"What do you think of him Skippy?" inquired Mike.
"He's a good boy. A welcome addition to the Shrinkee family."
On the way home, Skippy traveled in the pocket of Mike's blue golf shirt.
The sun was just hugging the horizon as Steve Pulled into the dirt road that led to the warehouse, Steve said, "We should be seeing lights from the warehouse in a few minutes. However, the closer they got, Steve found there was no lights to be seen. Steve did notice a pair of moving lights heading west.
Mike could see a few squat buildings in the dwindling light. "So that's the new home of the Shrinkees," said Mike. Steve didn't respond he felt something was wrong. Parking behind one of the buildings, Steve saw a door that was left opened.
"Somethings wrong Mike." Mike gave Steve a concerned look. They both entered the building. Steve turned on a light and called for Marc.
Mike heard a low moan. "Steve over there!" shouted Mike. Underneath a few wooden crates was Marc.
Steve and Mike helped Marc on to his feet. "What happened Marc?" asked Steve, feeling himself getting anxious.
Getting on to his feet, Marc said, "It was Andre. He had a hidden short wave radio behind some rocks near the garden. Just over a half an hour I think, a van with three men pulled up." Grabbing Steve's shirt with his hand, "They took twenty of the Shrinkees."
"Did you see which way they went?" asked Steve.
"No, I was knocked out."
Steve, whose eyes were blazing said, "I bet there heading down the west road. I saw moving lights off in that direction. I might be able to cut them off at the pass."
Mike and Marc looked at each other for a second. "Cut them off at the pass," said Marc.
"I'm not joking, they can be cut off at the pass."
"Lets go," said Marc.
Steve put a hand on Marc's shoulder. "You think you are up to it."
"When friends are concerned---YES!"
"Mike look for the remaining Shrinkees," said Steve.
"I will." Then Mike asked Steve, "How you going to stop them?"
Steve replied, "Two ways, shoot at their tires with an old fashion gun and or with a high frequency jamming device that I made that would interfere with the engine."
Steve and Marc wasted no time. They quickly gathered what they needed and peeled out on their two motorized dirt bikes. And Mike started looking for the Shrinkees. Mike placed Skippy on the floor, who went to places the Shrinkees might have gone to for protection.
Mike, entering the recreation room,started calling for the Shrinkees. Several came out from behind a water pipe. Six other Shrinkees, when they heard Skippy's voice came out from under some brown paper bags. In one area, that had over-turn boxes, Mike found a Shrinkee trapped under a plank. The Shrinkees leg was caught on the point of a nail. "Don't be scared. I'm here to help you." Very gently but swiftly, Mike pulled the leg off of the nail. Mike took out of his back pocket, a clean handkerchief. He ripped a thin strip off and tied it around the little man's bleeding leg. When he was done, he placed the scared Shrinkee in his hand. In a warm voice told the little man not to be scared. Turning around, Mike saw a sight that made his blood go cold.
To Be Continued...in Shrinkees 3: Protect the Shrinkees