Shrinkees FourBy Timothy Lacey
Part One: Shrinkees Mine.
Steve climbed to the top of the hill. He walked over to the edge and looked out over the expanse of flat desert land. In the distance, Steve could see the great jagged rocks that towered hundred of feet into the shy. They looked like light houses in a sea of sand. Looking down, he saw the squat buildings of the warehouse. The home of the Shrinkees.
Steve wiped the sweat off his forehead with a hand. He continued to stare out, lost in thought. The movement in the front pocket of his denim shorts startled him for a moment. "Oh,geeze," he said out loud. He put his hand down his pocket and gently wrapped his fingers around the living person. After he pulled his hand out of the pocket, Steve said, apologetically, "Sorry Skippy. I didn't mean to leave you in my pocket. I know I had worked up bit of a sweat."
"It 's quit all right my boy," said Skippy, who noticed his giant leader's intense face. "You look lost in thought. Anything troubling you?"
"Nay, just thinking," replied Steve. A smile appeared on his face. "It is strange how everything has happened. It was by accident, that I found the way to shrink matter. You got shrunk because of an accident. Then I shrunk Todd out of revenge. And now look at us. We are whole new human community."
"Yes," responded Skippy, who reclined up against Steve's thumb. He looked up into Steve's clear eyes, that was fixed on something. Something, that was not found outside of Steve, but rather, inside of him. "My dear Steve, what else is on your mind."
Steve gazed down at his long time friend and said, "You know me well old friend. I was thinking---maybe---I should go among the Shrinkees as one their size."
"Hmm," responded Skippy; "That is very brave of you. And I think an important one."
Steve smiled a shy smile, "It really wasn't my idea to be honest. Our newest arrival, Amanda mentioned it to me."
"Oh yes,Amanda. She's the one from the west coast. Isn't she?"
"Yeah she is," responded Steve; "She has been helping me setting up computers that the Shrinkees can use. I have boughten several of those Palm Pilots and hooking them up to the Shrinkees main computer. I want them to be able to go on-line. Amanda and I have also have been developing new security codes so..." Skippy cut Steve off.
"Back to being shrunk down as a Shrinkee my boy."
"Oh yes, sorry. Amanda just thought it was interesting, that I would have Marc and Mike be Shrinkees before they could be guardians of them. It struck me later, it was strange that I haven't. Maybe I'm scared to be shrunk down. It never occured to me, that maybe I should go among the Shrinkees, who I love." Steve's face became tense. "And I really do love them Skippy, their my family."
"Scared to see, how they may recieve you as one of them. Instead as their giant leader?" asked Skippy, thoughtfully.
"I guess thats a little of it." Steve let out a sigh, "Maybe it's...yes. When I was only a couple years old, my mother died. I had no brothers or sisters And Dad was always going out of town on business trips. I had no one. Except for you Skippy. I don't know what I would have done without you."
Skippy's eyes filled with tears. "After my family was killed, I lost it. Living out on the streets and under the bridge. People would come spit on me, make fun or taunt me. Then came you. A golden- haired angel." Skippy rested his head on the tip of Steve's thumb.
Steve's voice started to tremble, as he said, "I love my Shrinkees. There my children. But, if I become small, as them will they still see me , as their leader. And will they still love me."
Steve then said, with a firm and steady voice, "If that was the case, then what we have been trying to find and build here, was all an illusion."
"It would be. But I think you will find, it is not an illusion Steve."
"Attention, attention! Here is an important announcement," said the voice over the warehouse inter-com system; "In two hours there is going to be a special meeting with our leader Steve in the Shrinkees common room. And remember, that's in two hours." All the Shrinkees started talking amongest themselves, trying to figure out what the meeting was about. Even the giant guardians, Marc and Mike, didn't know what it was all about.
Steve came to the Shrinkees common room an hour before to think. A short time later, Adam, came running in. He ran up and climbed up on to Steve's bare foot. Seeing the little man, Steve picked him up and held him in his hand, as he thought. Adam broke Steve's train of thought, When he said, "I told everyone to be here in two hours, cause you had a special announcement to make." Adam curled up between two fingers and looked up at the stoic face of Steve; "I was lost in life, but you found me." Adam put his arms around a giant finger and started to sob, "I was nothing until you came along." He squeezed himself up against the finger; "I always want to stay with you." Steve didn't say a word. He gave Adam a few gentle strokes to the little man, that clung to his finger for refuge
Two hours later, the whole Shrinkee community met in the Shrinkees common room. Steve was sitting in the middle of the room on a mat, as all the tiny folk gathered before him. Sitting on either side of him, were the Shrinkee Guardians. "My friends and my family..." Steve paused. Steve continued, "It is time for me at least for a spell to be among you. Among you, as a Shrinkee." Steve stood up and casted a giant shadow over the Shrinkees and stretched his gigantic arms over them. "I love you all more than you know."
All the Shrinkees cried out, "We love you too." They all gathered around his feet. Steve reached into his shirt pocket and took out a needle. And he jabbed himself in the arm with it.
Marc and Mike with bulging eyes, watched as Steve shrunk before them. Soon---just a mountain of clothes stood before the Shrinkees. Crawling out from under his shirt and before the giant shoes of the guardians, was Steve.
Part Two: I Am Shrinkee
Steve peered out from under his clothes and gazed into the faces of the Shrinkees. They all had the look of surprise on their faces. This is the first, for many of the Shrinkee community, to see their leader at their own size.
At first it was bit of a shock, when Steve looked up, for he was staring up at Marc. But the shock for Steve was, Marc was a giant! It was a bit of a shock, to Marc, to see his leader just inches tall at the edge of his shoe. Marc saw the Shrinkee community, being full of excitement, encirlcle Steve. Marc thought to himself, "Oh gosh. Steve's naked under there." He told the Shrinkee members, "Wait." They all looked up at Marc. Steve also looked up. And saw this hand of incredible size reach down for him. In a brief moment, Steve's line of sight was filled with Marc's opening hand. He felt Marc's warm fingers wrap around his body. Steve had never encountered such a sense of something so powerful. The expression, 'My life's in your hands,' took on a whole new and gigantic dimension.
Marc slowly opened his hand up. Being naked, Steve tried to position himself in the hand so he wouldn't have to, "bare" so much. However, Steve's modesty quickly left him, as he studied the giant hand he was in. He could make out each line and grove in Marc's giant hand. Fingers his size and a little bigger, surrounded him. A feeling of awe came over him. Steve looked up at giant Marc. A face bigger than the side of a barn, looked down at him benignly. All Steve could say was, "Wow."
"I will put you in my pocket, while someone gets you a pair of pants," said Marc, earnstly. As Marc cupped his hand to put Steve down his pants pocket, Steve found himself in the shadows of the enourmous fingers that curled in on him. A warmth radiated from the darkness he found himself entering. For a few seconds he glided down the pocket material. With a slight thud, Steve came to rest at the bottom. After he had put Steve down his pocket, Marc asked for a Shrinkee to get a pair of clothes that would fit their leader. Marc saw the little bulge at the base of his pocket. He never could get over the feeling, when he carried a Shrinkee, a certain amount of power. It was exciting to think he had a life in his charge. And this life would have to trust him. But Marc knew he would never abuse that trust.
"So this is what it's like to be in a pocket. I feel so fragile in the pocket of one who is so big. And wow, I never knew a giant hand could be so awesome," thought Steve, to himself in the darkness of Marc's pocket. He also thought, "What trust the Shrinkees must have to be handled by such large creatures. And what a truly glorious state it is; to be able to trust such a being."
A Shrinkee named Harry ran up to the front of Marc's shoe. He had a shirt and pants for Steve. Marc took them between two fingers. He then tossed them down his pocket.
A short time later, Steve was among the Shrinkee population. He was nervous, he still wondered how they would recieve him. However, the hugs and all the cheering had put him at ease. Skippy came up to him and said, "Steve my boy." He gave Steve a big hug, as he told him; "It has been a while friend, since I last hugged you."
"Yes old friend it has been a while."
The Shrinkees children broke through the crowd and started grabbing and pulling at Steve. "ok, ok, I love you too!" said Steve, as he tried to hug all of them.
Adam, the official-spokesperson for the Shrinkees, came up to Steve. "You see! I still have the star that you had put yourself on my shirt." Adam them lowered his head; "I have tried to be the best spokesperson there is."
Steve said, "Lift your head head up my friend. You have done a wonderful job." Adam smiled.
Later, Steve went and worked with the Shrinkees on various tasks. He wanted to see, for himself, if they truly were happy. When he was in the work shop, Todd came up to Steve. "You sure have come along way from the nerd, who's underpants I use to stretch over his head."
Steve replied, "Yeah, I guess all of us have."
Todd was silent for a few minutes then said, "Now look at you. Your running this new community. And...well...your different. Your bigger, and I don't mean when your a giant."
"Thanks Todd. I think starting up a new community has strengthen me. And you my friend, are part of it. Your one of the foundation stones."
"Yeah, thanks. I will say I was mad at you at first, after you had shrunk me. And when you taped me to your bedroom window. But I had it coming. I did you give you a rough time back in school."
"That doesn't matter now. The main thing is that your happy and are glad you decided to stay."
"Oh yeah, I'm am. But I also stayed for Sissy."
"But if you two are happy and see this community going somewhere, that is all that matters to me."
Giant guardians Marc and Mike had prepared dinner for the Shrinkees, since this was a special day for them, that Steve has become one of them. Before dinner, Steve addressed the Shrinkees. Standing in the palm of Marc's hand, Steve said before the listening ears of the Shrinkees, "I want to know and explore what it is that makes me a human. And that my Shrinkees, is why you have stayed. Is there more to what we are. What is the poetry if you will, of what makes us special creatures on this planet. I don't mean just our advances in science. But advances as a communal creature with spirit. I see the outside world losing its grip on its self. A culture running with a witless and spiritless smile, toward its own end. Are we truly above the other creatures that we share this blue orb in space with? If not. Then we must gather each day, amounting no more than all the other creatures. Or do we strive, as a working body to go above our animal instincts. Why just settle for getting by as our own private Island, as if we only excisted alone. I say together, as individuals, but individuals, working together to go beyond just the immediate needs of the individual, to the needs of the entire family. The human family. Its not easy. If anyone works in a garden knows, sometimes you bleed from the nettle. I don't think mankind is meant to be trapped in the shadows and cracks of, self- inward-gravity, a black-hole of absorption. But an outward bursting of human spirit. So that is something I guess we can chew on. Now lets eat everyone!"
During supper there was music and plenty of conversation. Several Shrinkees did a juggling act. At desert time, the Shrinkee children sang a few songs. Meanwhile, Marc and Mike sat behind but towering above the festive Shrinkees. After dinner, an elderly Shrinkee named Howard, took Steve on a guided tour in the model car. Passing Fleece Hill, Steve got out. He was joined by Shrinkee member, Amanda. Amanda with lambs-eyes, gazed upon Steve. She never really noticed how his hair was shaven on the sides and his golden-hair parted in the middle. When he was a giant she missed such details. Amanda asked if she could join him, as he climbed the hill. Steve told her she could. They were halfway up, when Steve and Amanda stopped and rested in one of the caves (pocket). "I hope my long winded speech was ok," said Steve, shyly.
"I think people knew what you were talking about," replied Amanda. She then said; "I'm glad you shrunk yourself down. I mean---so you could really be with us."
"It's something I should have done along time ago. And thanks for suggesting it." Amanda smiled. The two sat there, looking off toward the other side of the massive room.
End of Part 4
Shrinkees 5--Shrinkees Lightby Tim Lacey
Steve just stood in the bright room alone. A blurred shape appeared. Steve knew this shape. It was his father. Steve at first hesitated, with broken speech, "Fa-ther?"
"I feel alone father." Steve went silent. "No, father I'm not alone. I have the Shrinkees." The image of his father started to walk away. "No don't go. Stay. You always have been away. Why father? Why?"
"Steve, steve," said Amanda.
"What?" asked Steve, opening his heavy eyes.
"You were dreaming."
"Yes, you had fallen asleep."
Steve looked around his surroundings. He then remembered he had climbed Fleece Hill with Amanda. "How long?"
Amanda gave Steve a shy smile. "It's almost dawn."
Steve rubbed the sleep from out of his eyes and said jokenly, "What will everybody think."
"They will think you were tired and needed a good nights sleep."
"Thanks for being here for me Amanda." Steve leaned over and gave her a kiss on the cheek.
"I wanted too."
Steve and Amanda climbed down the gray pair of sweat pants, otherwise known as Fleece Hill.
After having breakfast with the Shrinkee Community, Steve had a conference with his two giant guardians Marc and Mike. It was still strange for Steve to be sitting on Marc's thumb so very tiny carrying on a normal conversation.
After being placed on the ground, Steve visited the children. The newest arrivals Ivor and Sasha, were coming alone nicely. Steve also made a visit to the children's pets. The four men, who tried to kidnap the Shrinkees. It was Skippy's idea to make them smaller than the Shrinkees. It seemed fitting to Steve that these people should give pleasure to the children. "Oh, I have an announcement to make," said Steve to the children. They all gathered around him. Steve sat on the floor and put two of the younger children on his lap. "We will have a new member joining us. A thirteen year old named Brian. Guardian Marc has gone and is getting him now. He should be hear in five hours." After his announcement, Steve played with the children for a while.
"So my young Steve what do you think?" asked Skippy.
"They seem happy and it feels right. I think we really are on to something special here. God knows we have paid with our blood. And you my friend what would I have done without your wise counsel."
"I'm just an old friend trying to help a young friend," replied Skippy.
Steve was giving a talk to the adults, when Marc came and knelt down in the Shrinkees Assemble Hall. The murmur of annoyed voices commenced, as Adam pushed his way through the crowd saying, "As spokesperson, I mean, the Official Spokesperson for the Shrinkees I should be right up there with our great leader Steve. Out of my way please. Out of my way."
Marc put his hand down the front pocket of his denim pants. He withdrew a clenched fist. He lowered his closed fist before Steve. Marc opened it up. A young teen with brownish hair stepped slowly off the giant hand. Before Steve could say a word, Adam said, "Welcome to the Shrinkees." Adam turned toward Steve and bowed saying, "Brian this is our really great leader Steve." Steve covered his mouth with a hand trying to surpress his laughter over Adam's exuberance.
Steve shook hands with Brian. "Welcome Brian. Welcome to the family." Five of the children came up giving Brian several welcome gifts.
Brian's eyes where as big as pumpkins, as he looked around the massive room. "I would like to talk with you. Lets make it in half an hour," said Steve.
"Ah, yeah," replied Brian. He then turned and climbed up Marc's sneaker and grabbing hold on to his brown sock. He asked Steve, "Can I Hang out with Marc until then?"
"Well, I wanted you to get to...ok Brian. Hang loose with Marc until our meeting," responded Steve. Brian climbed to the top of Marc's sock. Marc slowly stood up and walked out with Brian hanging on to his sock.
Several people laughed. Steve told them, "He's colorful. But, he has had a rough time. And Marc was the one, who spotted him living with several other homeless teens outside the airport. When you are starved for affection, it is hard to let go of the one, who has pointed out your own self-worth." Steve's face went a little red. "If those greedy bums at the White House and Congress thought of the children, instead of their ownself, and got off their no good, fat asses, maybe there wouldn't be homeless children in our country."
Steve waited for Brian in a smaller room off the main Shrinkees living quarters. Steve thought he heard Brian's voice and footsteps. A few minutes later, Steve felt something crawling over his toes. Looking down at his right foot, Steve was shocked. Pushing himself up between two toes was Brian. "Brian what, what the heck happened?" Steve lowered his hand down to the top of his foot. Brian jumped on. "You ok?' asked Steve.
"I guess so. I was walking over here when I shrank."
Steve was very concerned. Nothing like this has ever happened before. As best he could tell Brian seemed all right and in good spirits. Steve got up and walked out of the room. He told Brian, I want to talk about what is happening with several others. He went to children's section. Steve told them what happened. He gave Brian over to twelve year old boy named Richard. Richard was all eyes as he watched the tiny teen climb onto his hand. "I hope your not scared Brian. But you will be ok with us." He placed Brian on his shoulder.
Steve went to the area where the shrinking liquid is developed and created. He went over the notes with Sam, Lisa and Sean, who are involved in the making of the liquid.
Meanwhile, Brian was having a good time with the children. One girl wanted Brian to climb one of her pigstails. "Ouch! Don't pull so hard," said the girl.
"I'm not pulling. I'm getting bigger!" exclaimed Brian. Richard placed his hand around Brian's growing form and took him quickly out of the children's quarters.
Steve was still going over the notes in the lab, when he heard a ruckus. Stepping out of the lab, Steve saw Brian. A giant Brian!
"What is happening to him?" asked Steve, who mainly was asking the question out loud to himself.
Lisa walked to the base of Brian's foot. "Brian were you taking any drugs or anything?"
"What? I can't make out what your saying."
Lisa cupped her hands around her mouth, "Pick me up."
Brian placed his hand down before Lisa, who climbed on. Brought before the giant face of the teen she asked, "Did you take any drugs before you came."
"Ah, no. Well-I-it wasn't..."
Cutting Brian off, "Relax. I'm not accusing you. Just want to know if there is anything our shrinking liquid could be reacting with."
"The day before I cam here, my pal, Gumby gave me a weed to smoke."
Lisa fiddled with her nails for a moment as she thought. "That shouldn't have caused the problem. Your pal must have included something else in it."
"Well, I did feel different after I smoked it."
"Ok Brian you can put me down." After she climbed off of Brian's hand, Lisa went up to Steve. "There seems to be a chemical reaction going on. Brian says a friend gave him a weed to smoke. There were other drugs in the weed. I wish I knew what they were."
Steve asked, "What can we do?"
"I guess ride it out. But I do want to take a sample of Brian's blood."
Lisa'a assistant Sam, drew Brian's blood. Meanwhile, all the children where playing around the base of Brian's feet making a good time out of it.
Steve hoped Lisa, Sam and Sean would find something out from Brian's blood. He then went outside with several other shrinkees to work in the garden. The garden was near a pile of boulders. It dawned on Steve he had piled these boulders together to make a stone fench around the garden. However, they weren't boulders at the time, but simply stones. He started to climb up the boulders, when a shadow came over him. A hawk, was circling. Steve figured he better get down. Hurrying, Steve lost his footing.
One of the Shrinkees weeding a section of the garden saw Steve fall. She pressed the alarm button on the walkie-talkie that was kept in the garden for emergencies. Guardian Mike answered the call. At the base of the rocks was the limp form of Steve and a crinsom colored puddle that had formed beneath his head. Mike was afriad if he tried to move Steve he may make the situation worse, he went and got several of the Shrinkees, who were trained to deal with medical emergencies. A Shrinkee did stay by Steve's side until help arrived.
Steve approached the base of the gray wooden bridge. He couldn't make out any landscape. Eveything was a dull blue. Slowly he made his way to the center of the bridge. He went to the side of the bridge and looked off at the blue nothingness. "Whatcha looking at?" asked a very young voice. Steve turned around. Across from him sitting on top of the wooden side rail was a young boy, who was swinging his feet.
Steve was brought to a room that was reserved for sick Shrinkees. "He has lost a lot of blood," said the Nurse.
Amanda hearing of the news rushed to see Steve. There was a huge crowd outside his room. When she made her way through the concerned members, Amanda entered the room. She saw the nurse and two other medical Shrinkees at his side. Skippy was also there holding Steve's pale white hand.
Over the Shrinkees PA system, Adam annouced to the rest of the community what had happened. "ATTENTION, ATTENTION! Our-our-gr-great- leader has been hurt. My steve-your Steve is in medical center." He too then rushed off to Steve's side.
"I know this sounds stupid, but am I dead?" asked Steve.
Swinging his legs in a steady tempo, as if to a melody he could only hear, the boy replied, "No."
"What is this place?" Steve was silent for a moment. "I know its a bridge but if I'm not dead why am I here." The boy was silent and kept swinging his legs. Steve found he couldn't make out the features of the boy's face. They where distorted by a light. A light Steve couldn't figure where it was coming from. "Who are you? My angel?"
"No, I'm your brother," the boy responded.
"My brother? I never had a brother."
"I died at birth."
Steve tried to take in what he was hearing. "I never was told. Mom did die when I was young. And father, well, I guess didn't think I needed to know."
The boy jumped off the side rail. When his feet landed on the wooden planks, Steve found himself on a gigantic jigsaw puzzle.
To Be continued......
The puzzle went on forever, as Steve could tell. Massive pieces contected to other equally gigantic pieces of various colors. "Are these suppose to represent different points of my life?" asked Steve.
"No. Parts of other peoples lives that have come in contact with you," replied the boy.
"Why show me this?"
The boy gave Steve a gentle and thoughtful smile. "It's to show you how your work has touched people in big and small ways. Everything we do has an effect."
"And how old are again?"
The boy put a finger to his lip, "I guess it really doesn't mean much in my case."
"Ok, thanks for the direct response. But there is nothing you have shown me that I don't understand," said Steve, feeling frustrated.
"What is it?"
The boy pointed to the puzzle. "All those pieces are lives that have touched you. The very same ones you have touched."
"And your point is?"
The boy didn't answer. He stooped down and was looking at the jigsaw puzzle. Change one event and this puzzle changes. Steve found himself in explosion of many colors. The vast puzzle had blown apart.
Amanda was sitting by Steve's side, when Marc came in. "Hey Marc."
"How are you holding up?"
Marc ran a tired hand through his hair. "Ok. It's the not knowing that eats at you. Oh, Brian seems to have stabilized for the moment. We have a new member coming. A friend Steve made on a trip last year."
Half paying attention, Amanda said, "Oh, who is he?"
"His name is Patrick. I think he's from Canada." Marc pulled a chair and brought it over next to Steve's bed.
Adam paced around outside of Steve's room. "He will be ok. He has to be ok." He felt cold all over. It reminded him of the many times he would go into withdrawls if he didn't get his drug fix. It was because of his drug abuse that he came across Steve. He needed money and he was going to get it by mugging Steve. Adam chuckled outloud to himself. He planned to get some money off a kid and instead gets shrunken down.
The pieces finally dispersed. And a new pattern appeared before Steve. "Don't tell me this is a puzzle had I done things differently."
The boy looked up at Steve with big wide eyes,"Huh."
"This sounds like something out of that Christmas movie, Its a Wonderful Life."
A Wonderful Life?" asked the boy.
"Come on. You know. A man wants to die. An angel shows him what peoples lives would have been like without him."
"Not really Steve."
"Even though I was left pretty much along without a real father by my side I stayed in their trying."
Steve started to feel agitated. "OK, he was there for some things but mainly I had to go it alone."
"Hmm, didn't you once say to Skippy, he was like a father to you."
Steve went silent for a moment, "Yeah."
"OK Steve let's do a little bit of its A Wonderful Life. But with a difference."
Steve found himself under the bridge back home. "Hey, this is where I met Skippy. Will I see him?"
"I want to show you how things could have been if you never met Skippy."
Steve found himself back at school. It was strange to be watching himself as if he was a totaly different person removed from him. Steve knew this place. It was the locker room. "Hey, there's Todd," said Steve to the boy.
Toddd came and pushed Steve up against the locker. Two other teens came into the gym. "Look who I ran into," said Todd to his friends, as he kept Steve pinned to the locker.
"Its nerdo," said one teen, whose face was red with acne. The two friends of Todd pulled down Steve's red gym shorts. Steve stood before them in his white underwear. Todd let go of Steve. He smirked for a moment in Steve's face. He next grabbed Steve by the arm swung him around and pushed him into his two friends that now held him. Pushing the struggling Steve to the floor, Todd pulled off Steve's underwear and shoved them over his head.
"I almost forgot how mean Todd could be," remarked Steve to the boy.
Next Steve found himself along in the school lab. "Yes, I remember this," said Steve, pointing to the image of himself from the past. "This was the time I discovered the shrinking liquid. And it was spilling it on Skippy by mistake that I learned about it." The look of a question crossed his face. "If there is no Skippy. How did I find its secret?"
Steve found himself standing in his bedroom. His other-self sat on the side of his bed looking distraught. A flash of anger crossed his other-self. And threw the bottle at his gym bag, as he said, "That XXX Todd." The bottle exploded emptying its contents all over the gym bag. After a few seconds the bag started to shrink. Steve got up off his bed and stared with disbelief at the pea size gym bag. A dark expression crossed his face.
The boy took Steve by the hand and followed the other Steve into a department store. Steve went to the pet asile. He took a mouse cage off the shelf.
In a flash, Steve was back in the locker room at school. His other- self was standing in front of his locker. Steve as he watched himself started to grow concern. Coming from behind a row of lockers was Todd wearing that cocky grin of his. "Nerdo! Glad to see you. Its been a while since I tossed you around like a ball."
"Should you be speaking like that to your master," replied Steve, with an evil grin.
"What the XXX you talking about XXX?"
Steve started to reach into his coat pocket. "Pets shouldn't speak unless spoken to first." Todd stepped closer to Steve. Pulling out a small plastic package, Steve threw it at Todd.
The clear liquid ran down Todd's face. "You are so dead nerdo."
"And you are so mine jock-XXX." Steve watched himself as his double from the past; watched Todd shrink down to several inches. Steve stooped down before the shrunken Todd. The frightened teen stood frozen. Steve picked up the squirming Todd between two fingers. The sounds of other students commenced. "Whoops can't have anyone see you." Steve went over to a bench, where he had placed his new gym bag. "Since you have thing for my underwear Todd old buddy. I thought you might enjoy traveling home in a pair. All broken in for this special occasion." Steve dropped Todd into his bag. He zippered it up. And walked out of the locker room. With the look of satisfaction on his face, Steve swung the bag vigorously back and forth.
Steve turned to the boy, "Is that really me?"
To Be Continued...
Steve turned to the little boy. "So I'm a creep then."
"No not really just keep observing."
Steve found himself back in his bedroom at his father's house. He saw his otherself had set up a small table. On it Todd was running around with what appeared to be a shrunken basketball. "Ok Mr. Jock show me what you can do. Its not a football. But I'm sure a big guy like you can manage it," said Steve.
When Todd stopped and refused, Steve sent a fist down in front of him. Todd froze. "Come on I was just fooling. Don't tell me big Todd is a baby after all." Todd just continued to stand there. Steve squinted his eyes. Instead of that healthy light tan complexion that he always had, Todd now was bone white.
Steve looked at the boy, "I think Todd is going into shock." He turned to his mirror self, "Wrap him up in something warm you idiot." Steve went past his other self to his dresser to get a wool sock to wrap Todd in. When he pulled on the drawer his hand went straight through it.
"You can't interfere here since this is a whole other time."
"Why do I have to see this! Stop it." Steve's voice dropped, "I-I don't want to see any more."
"Don't you have faith in yourself?" asked the boy.
The other Steve rushed to his drawer and took out a wool sock. He picked up Todd and wrapped him in it. The boy turned to Steve, who was starting to look relieved, "You see."
The room started to fog up. Steve said, "Come on end the Christmas Carol type stuff. I get it. I'm a creep."
"I'm starting to think Steve you're a bit thick." Steve just tightened his face.
Amanda wiped the sweat off of Steve's face. Steve gave out a few moans. The nurse came and started to change the dressing to his head wound. Amanda turned to Skippy, who also was in the room. "Is Steve ever going to come back to us?"
Skippy's face went pale. "Maybe, it's simply Steve's time to go."
After the nurse had finished, Amanda went back over to Steve. Putting her check against his whispered, "Don't you want to come back?"
Steve and the little boy were standing on a street at night. "This is two blocks from my house," commented Steve. Coming down the street Steve saw his otherself. Behind him, staying in the shadows was another figure. "Oh my God," said Steve. "This is where Adam mugged me."
Steve saw his otherself fall to the ground. Adam had struck him from behind. Adam started to search Steve, when he jurked out of his grip and slugged him. Adan fell to the ground. He was shaking. Steve removed something from his pocket.
As if seeing a movie for the second time, Steve told the boy, "This is where I shrink Adam. It was from this strange meeting, we would end up friends."
The boy was silent.
Steve turned to the boy. "Right I do shrink him again right?"
The boy was silent.
Steve watched his othersself holding the bottle over Adam who was cowering. Steve felt his blood go cold. "I don't hurt Adam do I? OH, SXXX. I don't shrink him and step on him?"
The boy still remained silent.
With some relief Steve watched the other Steve put away his bottle. "You can go. I won't kick your xxx."
Adam slowly got to his feet. "Th-th-anks. Ah, you won't tell the police?"
"I should. But I won't, if you just get the hell out of here." Adam thanked Steve and ran off. He stopped and thanked Steve again. Then he disappeared into the darkness from where he had come.
"Well, that wasn't too bad," said Steve. "I'm glad I didn't waste him."
The boy broke his silence. "Yeah, but he still has his addiction."
"Yeah, I guess so." Steve straightened up. "After I had shrunk him, I helped Adam go through his withdrawls." Steve chuckled, "I can tell you. I had a few long nights." The boy just gave Steve a somber face."
"Where are we know?" asked Steve, still feeling relieve that he hadn't harmed Adam.
The boy replied, "Just an alley in the south side of your town." Steve heard voices. They sounded angry. He though he could hear Adam's high pitch and nervous sounding voice.
"How many times," said a gruff voice, which was followed by the sound of something getting kicked. Steve felt alarm going through him. He ran up behind two men. Going around them, Steve eye's widdened. Hunched over against a brick wall was Adam. His face was all swollen from being beaten.
Adam tried to speak, instead came a gurgling sound followed by blood. "Maybe we should be good citzens and tell the police."
Trying to speak again, Adam managed a few words, "No not prison."
"OK pal. We don't want to seem unsocialable, said the second man in a mocking voice. Steve saw the man shove a knife into Adam's belly. The other man sent a blade ripping across his throat. The two men ran off.
Adam brought his tray full of lunch over to the table where Skippy, Todd, and Amanda were sitting. Amanda trying to stay cheerful said to Adam, "Next to Todd and Skippy you were one of the first Shrinkees."
"Yeah!! And their very first and still spokesperson."
Skippy put a hand on Adam's back, "And you have been doing a great job too. I know Steve thinks so."
"Yeah man, he does," added Todd.
Adam sat back in his chair. "I had mugged Steve for money. And after he shrank me, well, for a moment I thought he was going to crush me like a bug under his foot. Instead, I found myself at the bottom of a warm pocket. After he brought me home with him, he gave me a choice. I could stay with him or go back to my world. I wanted to stay with him. He was really the first person to make me feel..." Adam stopped.
"No please go on Adam," said Amanda, gently.
"Well!!" Adam settled his voice down. "He made me feel like a person. Like I matter." Adam started to give out nervous spurts of laughter. "I did have to dry off first. I mean, it was hard not getting my fix. But Steve stayed with me. There were times---many times, I just couldn't control my functions. So Steve always carried extra handkerchiefs with him. During those weeks of hell. I wanted to always be with him. He even took me to school with him. There he was having math class or social science and me shaking away in his pocket." Adam's face went sad. "I wish I could change places with him. I should be there in the room. Not Steve."
Adam started to weep.
Steve stood over the slumped form of Adam. A small stream of blood flowed out of Adam's chest. It ran down the street carrying away with it, bits of paper and discarded cigarette butts. Smelling the blood, rats started to crawl out of sewers.
To Be Continued
Wanting some fresh air, Skippy went to the garden to think. Entering the garden he spotted Todd sitting on a chair near the east wall. "Todd getting some quiet time?" asked Skippy.
Todd stood up. "Yeah, its been a long three days."
"That it has." Skippy turned toward the east. A light breeze was coming from that direction. He took a deep tired breath. "Yes, its been a long three days. Oh, by the way Todd, I wanted to say how impressed I have been with you."
"Yes. You have been a big help to a good many people. Alot of us have felt a bit confused during these past days."
"Just wanted to help." Todd looked down at the ground for a moment then back up at Skippy. "I have to laugh sometimes when I think about it. I use to give Steve such a hard time, its not funny of course but the way things had turned out."
"Yes, never know the paths that life will take you on."
Steve still lay unconscious. Sitting next to his bed was Adam and Marc. A buzzer sounded. It was Marc's wrist watch. "Time for me to return to giant mode."
"Great you were able to take time to become a Shrinkee."
"Thanks to Mike for volunteering to take up my chores during these past two days. Oh, you might want to announce at luch time Mike will becoming Shrinkee. He should spend some time with Steve too."
When Adam was alone he took Steve's limp hand, "Come back Steve."
The boy said to Steve, "Its not your fault Adam had a drug problem."
"I know. But had I shrunk him this wouldn't have happened."
"Steve why didn't you call the police after Adam mugged you?"
Steve scratched his head for a moment. "I felt sorry for the guy. He looked so messed up. But I didn't think he was an animal or anything. Otherwise, I would have told the police. I guess I was hoping maybe he would take my letting him go as a second chance or something. I don't know."
The boy took Steve back to his father's house. Steve's reflection was nursing a still shakened Todd back to health. Steve noticed all sorts of chemical bottles lined up on his computer desk. "Looks like I...my otherself working on something."
"Steve are you there?"
"Lisa?" asked Steve.
"Lisa?" asked his reflection. Steve picked up Todd and placed him in a side cargo pocket of his baggy shorts.
Steve watched his girlfriend from junior high walk into his room. He felt a slight tug at his heart.
"Haven't seen you for a couple of days."
"Yeah, I had a one of those crazy bugs that have been going around."
"Oh. Hope you you're better now." Lisa moved closer. "I have missed you."
"Yeah, me too."
"They still have no word on Todd."
Steve replied, "No word."
"Yeah, its spooky. Jay says maybe all the missing people have been shrunk by someone. He says he 's going to write a shrinking story for creative writing class."
Lisa stopped. "Steve? Are you ok. You look so tense."
"Just the bug."
"I guess I better get going otherwise my parental jail keepers will get on my case."
"Bye, Lisa," said the two Steves in unison.
After Lisa left, Steve took Todd out of his pocket. "I will return you to normal. I promise."
The boy took Steve's hand, "You did."
"What then would have happened?"
"Nothing much for a while."
Steve questioned. "What do you mean a while."
"The explosion that took half the town would have taken you and Lisa. You would be at the Mall with Lisa that is several blocks from plant. And that is not the end. All the people you would would have encountered later, their lives would be different. And many of the homeless children you saved would be lost."
Steve replied: "Only if some elements had been different. But can you now tell me. Why did you show me this?"
The boy turned and headed back for the bridge. (alleluia) Steve followed.
"He's not improving is he?" asked Amanda. The nurse shook her head.
Steve reached the boy, who was now at the center of the bridge. "Tell me what was all this for?"
Giving Steve a gentle smile (alleluia) he told him, "You hadn't become a Shrinkee because you were scared what you were doing really wasn't real. After you became a Shrinkee you saw what had been created, which came from a series of choices you freely made."
"But what was the point of what you have been showing me?"
"Even if some parts of the life were missing and you took a different course, the man, you Steve still remained good. Sure you shrank Todd for revenge, but, when it came down to it the person you had seen as the villian you showed mercy to. It also made you see how other people's lives such as Skippy's affected you. And how you affected them."
Think of the puzzle I showed you, when you first came. Had Skippy's family not been killed he would not have wound up under the bridge where you would have started a friendship. You see what I'm saying Steve?"
"Yeah." Steve then asked, "Will I be able to go back to my family. Back to the Shrinkees?"
"No. Your time there is done. But you will see them again."
Steve looked off at the Earth Plane.
Half an hour before the setting of the sun, the entire community gathered outside. They were going to bury Steve. The giant guardians Marc and Mike had picked up earlier in the day at a supply warehouse several cartons of birthday candles. They handed each Shrinkee a candle. After the candles were lit, Skippy, Adam,Todd and Amanda carried Steve's wrapped body from out the community room where it had been for oneday.
The procession made its way for the west end of the Shrinkee Complex where a grave had been dug. Marc and Mike using two fingers took the body from the pallbearers and placed it in the grave. Skippy stood at the front end of the grave. The man in the white Astroboy tee- shirt came up and dropped a white rose on the body. Melody followed with a red rose. Bob came and dropped candy that Steve enjoyed. Brian the newest arrival dropped a story he had written about the Shrinkees. Young Ivor made a quick sketch of the scene for future Shrinkees. Shrinkee member Joe had sculptured a headstone for Steve's grave.
Now everyones eyes were on the new leader as he made his way next to Skippy. Moving aside, Skippy made room for Todd.
"He will do just fine," said Steve. He looked down at the little boy, "You told me you were my brother."
"I always thought If I Had a younger brother, I would love to give him a piggy-back ride."
The boy raised his arms. Steve picked him up and placed him on his shoulders.
By Timothy Lacey 2002c