Eric, Adam, John and Mark were the best of friends. The four did everything together. They’d known each other since they were kids, and grew up together. But as much as they did together, they didn’t think they’d have to depend on each other for survival.
There was a traveling carnival coming to town on the weekend. The ads on TV said that it would be a show to remember. It was one of those lazy summer weekends and the four had nothing to do.
“Let’s take a look at the carnival on Saturday. Might be interesting.” Eric had nothing better to do.
They met up and walked to the fairgrounds. Even though it was ten in the morning, there were already crowds. The lines for the rides and food were longer than ever. Eric looked at his brother and friends.
“I don’t think we can get on those rides any time soon,” Adam remarked.
“The food lines are long too…” John was obviously hungry.
Eric began looking around. He saw the funhouse, the Freak Show and the Mystery Tent. He pointed in the direction of the Mystery Tent.
“C’mon, let’s see exactly how much of a mystery it is!”
They walked over to the small, shabby tent. It looked like it had seen a lot of years, and Eric didn’t think it was just with the one carnival. Inside there was a lot of strange stuff. African masks, ‘spell’ books, even some supposed ‘treasure’. As they were looking, they were startled by a voice.
“Can I help you, boys?”
Mark jumped two feet into the air, then turned to see a creepy old guy looking at them. Eric stood in front of his frazzled buddy.
“Uh, we were just looking. You got any really GOOD stuff?”
The man smiled an evil grin. He went behind his counter and pulled from behind it a small glass bottle.
“This, my young friends, is a shrinking potion!”
Adam, John and Mark got surprised looks on their faces, while Eric scoffed. He went up to the guy.
“What do ya think we are, dude? Idiots?” Deep down, though, Eric wondered if it was true.
“I tell the truth, young skeptic. I have seen this potion work on others!”
“Hmph. I don’t buy it. C’mon, guys!”
Eric, John and Mark left the tent. Adam stayed behind.
Looking behind him, he said, “How much, mister?”
“For you, my boy, a mere five dollars!”
Adam fished some money out of his pocket, paid the man and left with the bottle. He ran to catch up to his group, which were sitting on one of the benches.
“Guys! Guys!! I bought that shrinking potion!”
Eric smacked his brother upside the head. “You are so gullible it’s not even funny!”
Mark put a hand on Eric’s shoulder. “Hey, lay off man…what if it is true? What if the stuff really works?”
“Get real! What are the chances of that?”
“Well…” John looked at the bottle. “Why don’t we try it and find out?” Eric looked skeptical, but eventually relented. Adam opened the bottle; it had a sweet, almost sugary scent. Adam took a sip, then passed it to John, then Mark and finally Eric. The bottle was empty.
They stood around waiting, but nothing happened. Eric looked at his brother, scowling. “See? What’d I tell ya? C’mon, it’s getting late.” Mark looked at Adam with sympathy. They all went their separate ways. Eric was unusually tired. He fell asleep before he hit the pillow, all night dreaming of swirling colors, like you find in a patch of oil on a driveway.
Eric awoke a little tired. He got up, and almost fell off the bed! Weird, he thought, it’s like I’ve been drinking or something. He went to his dresser to get dressed, and almost fainted! His trophies, which were normally below eye level, were now HIGHER than him! He shook the idea out of his head, thinking it was an optical illusion from being tired. He got some clothes from his dresser: a t-shirt and baggy pants. When he put them on, he almost fainted again; the t-shirt’s sleeves now hung below his elbows, and the waist on the pants was about two inches too big!
“Mega weird!” he said to himself. It’s not as if he’d lost weight overnight. He turned white.
“ADAM!” he yelled. Running to his brother’s room, he woke him up. “Get up squirt, something’s happened to me!”
Adam was also groggy. And he DID fall out of bed!
“Whoa! What happened to me?” His PJ’s were now swimming on him…a lot! “W-We’re shrinking!”
“Stop that! Someone’s just playing a joke!” He looked out the window. “John and Mark!!”
Eric went back to his room. He found that the only clothes that fit him were the ones he had worn the day before. He yelled to Adam to wear the stuff he’d had on yesterday. They met in the hallway.
“Mom and Dad are at work. Let’s get John and Mark!” Eric picked up the phone, which now seem twice as big. “John! It’s Eric!”
“Eric! Something really weird happened to me! I’ve…”
“Shrunk? Yeah, it looks like the same happened to me and Adam! Call Mark and then get over to my place!”
Mark lived on the other side of John, so it didn’t take long for all four of them to assemble. They sat in the TV room. The chairs were now huge to them.
“We gotta try and figure this out…it’s too much coincidence to be a hoax.”
“We really ARE shrinking!” Adam said, bewildered. Eric stared at him.
John looked to his friend. “Y’know, maybe the kid’s right, Eric. I think we are shrinking.”
Eric backed off. He looked around, and was shocked. Everyone’s feet were now higher off the ground. “We gotta do something and quick! We’re still shrinking, and fast!”
They all started thinking. Mark came up with an idea. “Maybe the guy at the fair can help!”
John shook his head. “They packed up this morning. They’re already gone. But they’re supposed to be back in a couple weeks.”
Mark got angry. “A couple WEEKS?! Look at how fast we’re shrinking, John! We may not EXIST in a couple weeks!”
John stood up. “Well, there’s not much we can do until that guy comes back!!!”
Mark stood also, defeated. “So? Now what? We’re still shrinking.”
Eric and Adam joined their friends on the floor. “Well, we have to hide this from our parents.”
“That’ll be easy for me,” John replied. “My parents are gone for a month.” The other three boys looked at him. John looked around. “Oh no! I don’t want you three slobs at my place!”
Eric went up to his friend. “It’s the best place, John. No pets, no parents. I’m sure our dog would eat me and Adam alive if we got too small!”
John couldn’t help but give in. “Okay, I’ll go open the door…while I can still reach it!”
It was a good half hour before the four were finally assembled. They determined that they had lost a foot of height, and it didn’t show any signs of stopping. That put the three older boys at about four feet, and Adam at three and a half.
“Hey, John, we should put some of the non-spoilable food on the floor, so that we don’t have to climb up to get it.”
They dragged some chairs to the cupboards and took down things like cookies, crackers, rice cakes; anything that wouldn’t spoil. They got a plate and filled it with water, so that they could still get that when they were smaller. After all the preparations, it was night. They made their way upstairs, and into John’s room.
“I’m still sleepin’ in my own bed, but you three can have the floor.”
Again, Eric had the same dream of swirling colors. When the four woke up, they found they had shrunk A LOT in the night. They were about a foot and a half tall, with Adam only being about 12”. John was up on the bed.
“Hey! Gimme a hand! I can’t get down!”
“Hang on, bud!”
The three other boys helped their trapped friend off the bed. When they all were on the floor, they proceeded downstairs.
“Looks like you’re campin’ out with us, John.”
The living room was a whole new place to them, now. Everything was twice or more their size! Things they used everyday would now provide a struggle. They began making a camp on the floor underneath the coffee table. Getting up and down the stairs was too time consuming.
Two of the boys climbed up onto the couch and turned on the TV. They now needed their whole hands to push the buttons. At least they wouldn’t starve for entertainment…for a while anyway.
“Well, now that we’ve got sleeping and entertainment arrangements, we should try to solve our food problem.”
John piped up. “It’ll take all of us to move a stool so we can get on the counter.”
“So, we work together!”
The four walked into the kitchen, and looked up. The counter now stood at 2 ½ times their height. They pushed a stool to the counter closest to the fridge and all climbed onto it. They were still shrinking.
Adam turned to them. “We gotta work fast, boys…before we can’t get down.”
“I was the best jumper at school…” Eric said.
“You go first, then!”
Eric jumped up. He managed to grab the edge of the counter. The other three gave him a push on top. They pulled each other up, one by one. When they were all on top, they looked around. It was now really high to them, when normally it was nothing big.
“Well, start looking!”
They moved off in separate directions. Mark found a bag of Oreos and a package of crackers. Eric and John managed to get the fridge door open and find some cans of pop on the bottom shelf.
“At this size, this food will last us a long time! Okay, here’s what we’re gonna do: Mark and I will get the cookies and crackers onto the floor. Eric and John, get a couple cans of pop onto the floor too. We’ll help when we’re done.”
The two in charge of the pop climbed down to the bottom of the fridge. Mark and Adam got the cookies and crackers first onto the stool, then onto the floor. They immediately went to the fridge. Eric and John had moved two cans to the edge of the shelf. Adam and Mark reached up, grabbed the bottom of each can, and gently lowered them to the floor. The two in the fridge jumped out, and they all shut the door.
“Phew! I never knew a snack could be so much work!”
Adam pat his belly. “At least being small gives me a smaller appetite. Might be able to get rid of this!” He smiled.
They moved their ‘supplies’ to the living room. After they’d done all this work, they were hungry. The package of crackers opened easily and they opened a can of pop.
“What do we use for cups?”
“Hmmm…” Looking around, Adam found some LEGO blocks under the couch.
“I don’t want pop all over my LEGO’s!” John protested.
“Then you don’t want any pop!”
John knew when he was licked. The four boys sat down to crackers and pop. They found out after they’d eaten that they’d shrunk another 3”. But, they also found that food seemed to slow the shrinkage down. Adam didn’t like that idea.
“I’ll just shrink faster, thanks! I’m not gonna keep myself stuffed just so I can stay as big as the rest of you.”
“It’s not like that! I think it’s slow cuz we’re digesting the food. Maybe it’ll pick up when we’re hungry again…”
“Thanks for the info, Mr. Science!”
By this time it was getting late. They curled up for a good night’s sleep.
The next morning, the boys woke up to find that they were indeed smaller. At a mere 8 1/4 inches high, the world for them had indeed changed. They were thankful that they had food on the floor, otherwise they wouldn't have been able to eat. The cupboard were over four times their size, and just climbing up them would be a daunting task.
Eric was the first to get up. Walking the distance to the kitchen, he got himself something to eat. He sat and thought...
"What if it doesn't wear off? Will we keep shrinking, or will we get big again?" He finished his breakfast and went to wake the others.
"Hey, guys! Wake up!" He went around and woke them up in turn. "We shrunk again last night."
"Apparently," said John, rubbing his head. "We must be like, six inches tall or something!"
"Closer to eight, actually," said Adam. "Weirder and weirder..."
Eric sat down with the others. "Guys, I think we should write a note...while we still can!"
The other three looked at him like he was from another planet.
"What do you mean?"
"Well, at the rate that we're shrinking, we'll probably be too small to see when our parents get home. We should at least let them know...what happened!"
The boys thought about it. Finally, Mark spoke up.
"Won't they just think it's a joke."
"Maybe, but would you rather be stepped on?" Eric had obviously thought this out. "I say we do it!"
Adam spoke up. "Me too!"
"I'm in. Mark?"
"Well..." He thought for a minute, then said. "I wanna be big again as much as anyone. I'm in too!"
It was decided. They would write a note. First, the other three had something to eat (they'd already shrunk a little more than Eric!) and then made the trek to the writing desk. One problem: it was upstairs!
"Um...right! We're going to get up those stairs, write a note, and get back down?"
"Yep. It'll probably take us most of the day, but if we don't....it won't matter WHERE we are when we get stepped on!" Reminded of that fact, the boys got their second wind.
They approached the foot of the stairs. It was just high enough that Eric could only touch the tip with his fingers.
"Give me a boost!" John and Adam got down and hefted Eric up to the step. He in turn hauled up John, then they both hauled up Adam and Mark.
"One down, eleven to go!"
They continued for about a couple hours. It got slightly harder as they went higher, because they continued to shrink. By the time they reached the top, they were six and a half inches tall.
"Whoa! We haven't been up here for a week! It looks...different!"
"Same as it always is!"
"Yeah, but we're not!" They started walking.
Shortly, they reached the computer room. Now they had another problem.
"How do we get up there?" They could see the edge of the pad of paper, mockingly looking down at them.
"Same way we got up the stairs. We work together!"
They decided that the best route would be to go from the chair, to the desk, and back again after writing the note. Standing on each other's shoulders, they hoisted Mark onto the chair; he helped them get up afterwards.
Once all four boys were standing on the chair, they looked up. It wasn't far now. They grabbed the edge of the keyboard and hauled themselves up. They'd made it! The pad of paper and a pen were right there!
"Woo Hoo! We made it!" They high-fived each other then ran over to the paper. Eric, since he was normally the tallest anyway, picked up the pen. Mark started giggling.
"What's so funny?"
"You and that pen! It's, like, as tall as you!" He was on the ground laughing.
Soon, they all started laughing. It DID look pretty funny. Eric got them all back to order.
"Okay, guys. Let's get to work."
Eric began to write as the others called out ideas. The note looked kind of messy as Eric shrunk and the pen 'grew', but finally, they spelled out this:
US FOUR BOYS, MARK, ERIC, JOHN AND ADAM, HAVE BEEN SHRUNK! WE NEED HELP! WE'RE SOMEHWHERE HERE IN THE HOUSE, PROBABLY THE LIVING ROOM FLOOR. WE MAY NOT GROW BACK, SO WE NEED YOU TO HELP US! DON'T STEP ON US!
ADAM, ERIC, JOHN AND MARK"
They looked proudly at their work.
"A true work of art!"
"Okay, wise guys! Let's get this downstairs and get something to eat! I'm hungry!" Adam rubbed his stomach.
In unison, the others said "NO DOUBT!"
Adam blushed slightly. They began their arduous climb back down the desk and stairs to the living room, where they hoped to be rescued. Dragging the paper (which to them seemed the size and weight of a rug), they made it back downstairs. A few bumps, bruises and scrapes, but more or less intact.
They headed to the kitchen. They were hungrier than ever...and, as a consequence were now only four inches high.
They were beginning to feel like there was no hope for them. For the older boys, their beards were beginning to grow out, and the younger boys were just looking dishevelled. Adam looked slimmer, but maybe it was just because of their size.
Camping out near the kitchen door, the boys tried to stay as close to food as they could. The food they had put on the floor when they were much bigger had almost run out. Everywhere else, they couldn't get any food. This was their best chance for survival.
"Guys, I think we're gonna shrink out of existence soon."
"You got that right, Adam."
Adam looked at them each in turn. "Guys, I'm...sorry that I bought that...potion. If I hadn't we wouldn't be in this mess."
"It's not your fault we all thought it was a farce. We ALL drank it. We're in this together, and we'll stay together to the end!" Mark comforted his destraught friend.
"Thanks, guys. I guess...well, I guess I shoulda just drank it myself! Then at least you guys would be normal!"
It was night, and they laid down to sleep. They were started awake the next morning by a massive pounding on the floor.
"WHAT'S THAT?" Eric jumped up first.
"I...I dunno. Maybe it's an earthquake! We're all gonna die!"
"It's not an earthquake, LOOK!" John was pointing towards the front door. The other three boys looked to where he was pointing.
Coming through the door where John and Mark's parents! They were home! Had it really been that long?
They all began to shout.
"MOM! DAD! WE'RE DOWN HERE!"
"C'MON OVER HERE!"
It was no use, the boys were too tiny to be heard. John and Mark's mother strolled into the kitchen, narrowly missing the tiny boys. Which stood to reason: during the night, the boys had shrunk even more, and they were a mere 1/4 inch tall! No bigger than ants!
"No wonder my parents can't hear us. Look at us! We're microscopic."
"Is there any hope?" Mark sat on the floor, ready to cry.
"Well, they haven't gone upstairs yet, so there's still a chance they'll see our note. We just have to stay here, is all! That's our best chance at being found! We'll be fine, guys..."
In the kitchen, John's mother looked down at the plate of food on the floor.
"Darn kids! Can't they EVER learn to clean up their own mess?"