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The Shrink Ray

by Small 1 and Speck

Chapter 1: Things Go Awry

Only 33 years old, Eric Brevard already had accumulated accolades and accomplishments scientists with twice his years and experience could envy.

Currently, he was working on a private project in the university where he also worked as a physics professor.

10...9...8...

Eric's adrenaline raced as the count-down ticked down the seconds until the first test of his new invention.

...7...6...5...

He had disregarded several standard protocols in order to go ahead with the test.

...4...3...2...

A strident "ZAP!" sounded in his ears just as a bright green flash momentarily blinded and disoriented him.

Those effects were only fleeting. As he looked around the room, Eric, the world's first successful test subject for a shrink ray, realized he had succeeded.

He had shrunk.

He was only... 12 inches tall.

Chapter 2: Unexpected Problem

A brief instant after the device activated, Eric's disorientation cleared and he gazed around the laboratory in awe and wonder. Everything looked six times larger than normal.

He stood about a foot tall. He approached the edge of the platform. There was a six foot drop to the floor from the edge of the circular platform.

"It works!" Eric exclaimed in a high-pitched but excited voice.

His desk in the distance looked as big as a house. He could hardly wait to run even more tests.

A low hum alerted him. He had programmed the device to emit a restorative beam exactly forty-five seconds after the shrinking process had been completed.

He turned to face the device's focusing lens, which loomed about 50 feet overhead. The lens began to flow a pale green that increased in brightness.

Suddenly, there was a loud "Pop!" and some shards of glass rained down on him, shattering again as they impacted the platform's surface and the tile floor.

The crucial focusing lens had shattered. Overhead, the energy that should have restored him to his normal height of six foot two inches flashed and dispersed ineffectively.

Eric cursed himself for failing to consider every possibility. Now, he was stuck at 12 inches tall until he could replace the broken lens and reprogram the device.

That didn't appear very likely without help.

Just at that moment...Eric's brother Zac arrives.

Chapter 3: Getting Zac to Help...Another Bad Idea

Eric could not believe his turn of bad luck.

First, his experiment had gone awry, and now the first person to find him was his utterly untrustworthy younger brother.

Eric and Zac were about as unalike as two brothers could be. Zac was irresponsible. He ran through jobs, rarely managing to remain employed for more than a couple of weeks at a time.

Zac had a scruffy beard and long, dark hair. His confidence in his own ability to charm got most people to see things his way. Well, almost everyone except his older, serious brother. Eric never let himself be fooled by Zac.

He sighed. He was resigned to getting this humiliating situation finished. He stepped out into the open. "Zac! Hey, help!"

Zac heard something. "Eric?"

"Yeah. Over here! Down on the floor."

Zac froze. He stared down in disbelief at his older brother. He scratched his beard. "Eric?"

"Yeah. Hi, Zac."

"What the heck happened to you, bro! You look like an action figure."

"It was my experiment," Eric said. "There was an accident."

Zac took out a cigarette and lit up. "Did it hurt?"

"No, it didn't hurt," Eric said impatiently. "But I need some help with the machine."

Zac lowered his cigarette. He smiled. "Good. I need a favor, too."

Eric tried to remain calm. "What do you need now, Zac?"

"A loan. Maybe you could spare fifty bucks."

"No! You can't keep turning to me for money. What happened to that new job?"

"Oh, that! I quit. The manager was a real jerk."

"Zac, I'm not giving you any money."

"I guess I am wasting my time here," Zac said. He pretended to turn and walk away.

"Wait! What about me?" Eric raced after his brother, but was unable to match Zac's giant strides.

Zac turned and looked down. "What about you?"

"You can't leave me like this?" Eric said. "We're still brothers."

"You don't act like it."

Eric relented. "All right. I'll give you the money." He reached into his pants pocket and removed his wallet. He hurriedly counted out some bills and said, "Here. Take it."

Only Zac's laughter caused Eric to make an important realization. His wallet, like his clothes, had also shrunk.

"Sorry, bro. I don't think those bills are quite big enough." Zac laughed again at his own joke.

Eric didn't appreciate being laughed at, but he swallowed his anger. "Zac, I need to replace the focusing lens. There's a storage room down the hall..."

"No problem." Before Eric could react, Zac scooped him up like a toy and then started walking from the lab.

"Where's this storage room?" Zac asked.

Eric, struggling in Zac's grasp, managed to point Zac in the right direction.

A short while later, having obtained the new lens, Eric felt certain he was ready to reverse the procedure.

"I have to be on that platform when the ray activates," he explained.

Zac effortlessly transported Eric to the platform.

"Now, I need you to activate the panel," Eric said. "It's very simple. Just follow my directions."

"Sure."

Zac walked back to the console. He stared down at the panel of dials, gauges and buttons.

"Push the red button."

Zac punched a red button. The device began to hum.

"Now, turn the large black dial clockwise as far as it will go."

"Ok," Zac said, and he promptly turned the dial counter-clockwise.

"No!" Eric screamed. "The other way you idiot!"

But it was too late. A flash of light engulfed the foot-tall scientist and...

Eric shrunk to 1/8 of an inch tall

Chapter 4: Shrunken Smaller

The room expanded. It seemed like the expansion would go on forever.

Then, the light faded, and Eric found himself standing on a vast surface of gleaming metal.

"ERIC! WHERE DID YOU GO?"

The words roared, distorted and distant, far overhead. Eric raised his head.

His brother looked as big as a mountain.

Zac took a step toward the platform.

For Eric, the entire universe trembled. Vibrations rocked the platform. He fought to stay on his feet.

Zac stopped at the platform. He began to lower his body for a closer look.

Tiny Eric saw only a mountain falling toward him.

Zac saw an incredibly tiny little form lost on the surface of the platform.

"ERIC?"

"Yes, yes! Zac, help me!" Eric waved his hands over his head.

Zac leaned over the platform. "ERIC, I CAN'T HEAR YOU!"

The words dropped like concussion blasts. Eric covered his ears with his hands.

Zac stretched out a hand. But he hesitated. Eric looked too tiny to safely pinch between his fingers.

He licked the tip of his finger and stuck the colossal digit toward Eric.

"No!" Eric screamed as the immense fingertip rushed at him. He felt like he had been hit by a slow-moving truck. And then, he felt himself lifted, adhered to the fingertip by a layer of Zac's saliva.

Zac brought his fingertip to a stop directly in front of his eyes. Eric looked and screamed.

Zac's nostrils looked like caves. His eyes were the size of pools. A simple exhalation of breath threatened to sweep Eric off the fingertip.

"I BETTER FIND A SAFE PLACE TO KEEP YOU!"

Chapter 5: Zac Tries to Help

Zac looked around the room for a safe place to put his tiny ant- sized brother. Every slight movement Zac made was violent and terrifying for the minuscule Professor.

"Hey, this will do the trick," Zac mumbled as he noticed a stack of plexiglass petri dishes on a nearby counter. Zac grabbed one of the petri dishes and lowered his brother gently to the clear surface. "There you go, big bro. You'll be safe in here till we figure out how to get you back to normal."

After the initial shock of being whisked thorough the air at incredible speed and dropped onto the clear surface, Eric stood and pondered his unlikely circumstances. He felt insignificant and humiliated as he realized his little brother had put him in a petri dish just like he was some lab specimen to be examined. His super- colossal little brother towered over him like an all-powerful god.

After an initial analysis of his situation, Eric concluded he was only about 1/8th of an inch tall. The lint-sized professor looked up at his humongous little brother looking down at him, and trembled with fear as he realized his irresponsible little brother was in complete control of him.

Eric's clear plexiglass prison was about 6 inches in diameter, about the size of a football field for the reduced man. Eric was dead center, and the circular wall was 144 feet away in any direction. Even though the wall was only 1/2 inch high, it was 24 feet for the tiny Professor.

The minuscule Professor's mind shifted from traumatic terror to elated joy from the success of the shrink ray. Eric knew the shrink ray was the invention of the century. If he could get out of this unnerving situation, the brilliant Professor knew he would be rich and famous. Although Eric was less an enthused as he realized his fate was in the hands of his unreliable, not-too-bright little brother.

Suddenly, Eric's world shifted violently as the floor beneath him began a horrific ascension. Zac was lifting him in the air close to his face to get a better look at his reduced brother.

"God, you are so tiny," Zac laughed as he began a close examination of his big brother. "What the hell am I going to do with you? I better not try that machine again or I might shrink you to oblivion. I'm going to have to get us some help."

Zac tilted the petri dish slightly and sent Eric sliding uncontrollably towards one of the massive walls.

"Oops," Zac said with a chuckle, as he righted the little dish and set it back down on the counter. "I'm going to go and try to find Don and get him to help you. Now don't you no nowhere big, oh I mean little bro."

Although Eric was relieved his little brother had the sense to help him, he felt scared and vulnerable being left alone in the god-awful petri dish.

Zac left the room in search of Eric's grad assistant Don. Zac pondered taking Eric with him but wisely decided all the movement would be too much for his tiny big brother. Eric was alone as he stood in the small petri dish in the hauntingly quite ominous room.

Suddenly Eric's assistant Don and another student rushed into the room. They had come to gather supplies for a science class experiment.

"O.K. Dustin, we're going to need 4 lab kits, a bunsen burner, and some alcohol for the experiment," Don informed the student. "Oh, and I almost forgot, some petri-dishes. Here they are."

Don grabbed the stack of petri dishes, including the one containing the tiny Professor.

Chapter 6: Isn't Science Fun?

From within the football field-sized petri dish, Eric had an unobstructed view as the two giants entered the laboratory and moved toward the counter.

"Oh my God!" Eric recognized one of the flesh-and-blood mountains as his assistant, Don. He didn't know the other behemoth.

A truly colossal hand reached down toward his petri dish. Eric screamed in a futile attempt to make the gigantic men notice him. His world tilted crazily as Don collected the petri dish in a casual swipe. His terror intensified. He was afraid he would be sent hurtling toward the distant floor. By some miracle, the dish remained more or less stable and upright.

But each of Don's steps felt like an 8.0 earthquake!

Don and Dustin entered a classroom and placed their supplies on a lab table near the front of the class.
Miniscule Eric was relieved that the hellish trip from his laboratory to this classroom was over. The entire walk had taken Don and Dustin only a couple of moments, but for Eric it had been a horrendous experience.

Worst of all, Don and Dustin were completely unaware of him. At least Zac had known that Eric was inside the otherwise empty-looking petri dish. These monstrous behemoths, oblivious to such a miniscule creature as shrunken Eric, could obliterate him out without even going to any special effort.

Don and Dustin began arranging some of their lab supplies on the lab table. The petri dish containing teeny Eric had been placed off to the side. He watched as they proceeded with their preparations. "So, what are we gonna do?" Dustin asked, idly taking up a petri dish in one hand, fidgeting with the object.

Luckily, he didn't grab the petri dish containing little Eric. "I've got a cool experiment in mind..."

Chapter 7: The Experiment Begins

Eric looked up in horror at the blinding explosion and intense flames. The ant-sized man lifted his hands in a futile effort to block the overwhelming brightness and excessive heat.

Don had merely lit a match to ignite the bunsen burner. He extended the wick slightly, lit the bunsen burner, and moved it out of the way.

"Dustin, put some alcohol on that gauze and sanitize the inside of that petri-dish your holding," Don instructed the eager 19 year old college student. "And when you're done with that, open up one of those lab kits."

"Cool," Dustin replied. "I just hope we get to blow something up with this experiment."

The young college student's hugeness was inconceivable to the minuscule Professor. Eric grew terrified as he watched the gigantic student effortlessly wipe out the inside of the petri dish he was holding with some gauze covered in alcohol. When the young titan got around to "sanitizing" the petri dish teeny Eric was in, it would surely mean his immediate death.

"We never blow stuff up on purpose," Don replies with a laugh. "It just happens."

Dustin fumbled around with the items of one of the lab kits while Don mixed up some various liquids in a test tube. He poured the mixture in a metal cup and proceed to warm the concoction over the bunsen burner.

Eric viewed the massive events in disbelief. He briefly imagined his macabre demise, being effortlessly smeared out of existence by some college kid. Eric had no idea how he was going to get out of this bizarre mess.

Don looked over to Dustin and instructed him to hand him the sanitized petri dish.

Chapter 8: The Mixture

Dustin handed Don the sanitized petri-dish and observed with curious fascination as Don poured the strange heated mixture into the petri- dish and stirred it with a metal rod. Don added a level spoonful of white powder and the weird concoction began to lightly smoke.

"Cool," Dustin said, mesmerized with the experiment. "What are we making?"

"It's a specimen preservation liquid. We just drop the specimen in the liquid, and it will be preserved indefinitely as the clear liquid hardens as solid as a rock," Don explained. "Reach over there and hand me that jar on that counter."

Dustin grabbed the little jar, and noticed a colorful tiny lady-bug crawling around on the bottom of the jar.

"Do we put the specimen in the liquid while it's still alive?" Dustin asked with a mischievous grin.

"Yes, the specimen will preserve much better if it is still alive when we add it to the hardening mixture," Don answered.

"It really sucks to be you right now," Dustin said to the tiny bug inside the small jar, and laughs.

"Yeah, it's definitely not a pleasant experience," Don explained. "But it's just a bug."

Don poured the clear liquid into a clear square mold and instructed Dustin to drop the bug into the deadly liquid. Dustin unscrewed the lid of the small jar, tilted it and the woeful little insect fell helplessly into the still hot slowly hardening liquid.

The little bug tried frantically to escape but it slowly sank into the life-ending mixture.

"It's so cool how the specimen sinks to the exact center of the liquid," Dustin exclaimed in amazement as he watched the bug's last movements of life.

"It has to be mixed just right for that to happen," Don proudly explained. "And we got it perfect this time. In about an hour, the mixture will completely harden and the insect will be preserved forever."

"I wish we had some more specimens," Don said. "We've still got quite a bit of the mixture left. I hate for it to go to waste. Oh well, I instructed some of the students to bring in some live specimens for their next class. We should have plenty by tomorrow."

As Don and Dustin began to clean up their mess, Dustin noticed a little "ant" in one of the petri-dishes.

Chapter 9: Preserved

Eric watched the ghastly events unfold in complete terror. He was repulsed as he watched the lady-bug meet its gruesome and horrifying death.

Suddenly Eric was terrified as the behemoth college student looked down and stared directly at him. Within the gigantic clear petri- dish, there was nowhere to run or hide. He was at the complete mercy of the terrifying giants. Eric was fearful that to the giants, he would appear to them as a tiny bug. He was right.

"Hey look, there is an ant in that petri-dish," Dustin told Don in amazement.

"How on earth did that get in there?" Don asked curiously. "Oh well, the preservation liquid is still good to go and it looks like we have another volunteer."

Don hurriedly poured the rest of the mixture into an even smaller square mold.

"Hurry and dump the ant in here," Don instructed. "Before the mixture begins to harden."

"Oh God no, please no!" ant-sized Eric screamed at the top of his insignificant little lungs to no avail. "Please look closer Don, I am Professor Brevard!"

But the giant experimenters were in a hurry to preserve the little "ant" before the liquid hardened, so they did not look real close at what they assumed to be a little "ant".

Dustin carefully tilted the petri-dish and tiny Eric fell into the mixture, screaming all the way.

"Just in time," Don said cheerfully.

Eric flailed in a panic as he sank into the ghastly liquid. As the horrible liquid engulfed him, his lungs filled with the vile mixture and he was too exhausted to fight any more. He sank to the exact center of the liquid. The last bit of life left the unlucky Professor and the mixture began to harden.

Don reached into a drawer and pulled out a small chain. He stuck one end of it into the hardening liquid. A circular metal ring was attached to the other end of the chain.

"In about an hour, you'll have the coolest key-chain on campus," Don told Dustin.

"Awesome!" Dustin exclaimed.

END