Daylight streamed through the window, casting Shaun in a large square of light. Still asleep, he rolled over and buried his face in the sheets, then in his forearm, but it was no good: he was awake. Smiling, he reached over for his lover, Janine.
Without obstruction, his arm flopped to the mattress.
He moaned petulantly, playfully. How far had he wandered in the course of the night? He called out, “Janine… comin’ ta get ya,” and crawled on all fours across the mattress. As he was only a few inches tall, this would’ve taken a lot of time even if he would have stretched up to his full height and taken a brisk walk. Crawling lazily at his height, of course, protracted the duration of his trek considerably.
But when he kept crawling and crawling and not running into his normal-sized girlfriend’s side, he bothered to rub his eyes and look around. Their mattress was a desert of rumpled white linen sheets, with the foothills of fluffy pillows not far behind him, but he was entirely alone in this vast tract of land.
“Janine?” He stood up shakily and cast his gaze around their tremendous bedroom. There was the dent in her pillow where her massive and beautiful head lay all night; there was her sweater from the night before, hanging on the back of a chair (I told her that would stretch it out wrong, he thought). The closet door hung open, the dresser drawers were closed. He ran to the edge of her side and found her shoes still on the floor.
He cupped his hands around his mouth. “Janine! Y’in the bathroom?” There were no noises coming from there, no bare footsteps on cold tile, no running water, no flushing, no squeaky medicine cabinet and toothbrushes rattling around on its glass shelves. There were no creaky hallway floorboards, no pans rattling around in the kitchen, no water coming to a boil. Shaun’s eyes widened as he raced through their morning weekend rituals, but it all came down to the fact that there were no noises coming from anywhere in their apartment.
As he trained his hearing outside, he became aware of a passenger jet disappearing into the distance, its bellow dying away to the ambient noise of the boulevard before their building. Kids were playing two houses away; traffic sounded light; someone drove by with a loud car stereo, awful music rising and falling. He thought he heard a woman’s laughter… was it a laugh? Was it a scream? And then a van door, sliding with a roar to a slam, an engine revving and tires squealing. Gone.
“Janine!” Shaun threw himself from the mattress. At his size his mass could take the impact of much larger falls, and he’d conditioned himself to anticipate this leap. In his haste, he accidentally dropped himself right into his girlfriend’s tennis shoe. Rough fabric slapped him in the chest, and the sour, salty odor of her jogging regimen surrounded him. He gagged, dragging himself to the terrycloth ankle of her shoe and dumped himself to the floor.
She’d insisted upon a large rag rug at her bedside, and he laid upon the chaotic woven fabrics, catching his breath. He’d suggested that she take those insoles out and air them out every couple of weeks, maybe use an antifungal spray… He cut himself off. This wasn’t the time to be criticizing his girlfriend, and he felt badly about this thoughts. Shaking his head, he scrambled to his feet and picked his way across the lumpy, hazardous terrain of the rag rug until he could leap from its edge to sprint across the hardwood floor.
The slap of his tiny bare soles against the wood reminded him he was completely naked. There was nothing to do about that: his miniature outfit was on Janine’s nightstand, inaccessible right now. And anyway, if he came face-to-face with a kidnapper or a burglar, his nudity would be the least of his problems.
He rounded the mattress too quickly and plowed straight into one of his girlfriend’s socks. No, not the ones from last night: another pair from last week she hadn’t picked up and thrown in the laundry− …Goddamn it, Shaun. Quit being so critical. The sight of her low-cut socks, however, touched his heart. Even though he could’ve used it for a sleeping bag, it was still a small garment and it reminded him of the frailty of his lovely girlfriend. Yes, she was monstrously huge, compared to him, but still. He paused for a moment, picking up the sock and hugging it. Her cute foot goes in here, or it used to.
Shaking his head, he snapped out of his reverie and flung the sock aside to race across the floor. The floorboards ran perpendicular to him, and if he really stretched out his stride, he could fit five strides across four floorboards, or 1.25 steps on each board. Goddamn it, Shaun! Is this the time for math? He tended to fixate on the strangest things, especially when he was working on something larger. Was it a function of wanting everything to be correct and in place before moving on? Was it a distraction from concern and worry?
He leaped over a fallen pencil and danced nimbly through a tangle of earbud cord, then left the bedroom and plunged into the hallway.
The bathroom door was open on his right: the white tile glowed with late morning, but there was no one in there. No wall of steam coming from the room, no dripping sink, no refilling cistern on the toilet. No one had been in there since last night. Shaun cut it out of his perception and turned to the hallway before him.
It stretched interminably into the distance, this gargantuan corridor designed for his girlfriend or for a hundred thousand of himself. His heart fell momentarily: precious minutes would tick away before he could reach the end of it. But this was no time to stop, and on he charged, controlling his breathing and executing perfect posture: this would be a very long run, one he’d done several times before. Exercising down this hall, he knew nothing less than a controlled effort would get him to the end of it: put too much into it, scramble too hard, legs flailing, lungs gasping, and he’d collapsed shortly after halfway, and that wouldn’t help anyone. With a little self-pride Shaun let his mind relax and his body take over. The muscle memory would get him through.
But he used to make this run for his lover’s amusement, too. Almost immediately he was transported back to playful afternoons, where Janine’s huge, clumsy feet would pound the floor just behind him as he tore down the hall. She actually had slender, well-sculpted feet, a size or two shorter than women her size, but his size forced everything into a conflict of perspective. Her dainty little paws were vast, weighty slabs of flesh that flung up into the air like… like… an 18-wheeler in an explosion, in a Hollywood blockbuster. That was the only convenient analogy. And then it would crash to the ground right behind him, closer and closer each time, rocking the floorboards with thunder, sometimes throwing him off balance. Her voice, her high and sweet voice would peal with laughter from far above, echoing tightly within the narrow hallway, and his heart rate would skyrocket. She had a beautiful voice that turned him on, especially when she was delighted, but it was also a booming cacophony that blasted into him with physical impact, and more often than not he’d collapse to the floor, skidding a short distance along the polished wood. And Janine’s laughter would increase to deafening proportions, and her sole would drift overhead, descend, and block out the world…
Shaun ran faster. The combination of arousal from the memory and intense fear and concern for Janine got the better of him… but he kept pace with this. He breathed a little harder, he found a new rhythm, and his diminutive legs pumped down the hall as hard as they could.
There was an empty cardboard box on the left, from where Janine had been rooting around in the closet for something. He skirted it easily. There was another one behind it, a small white box, a mailer: with his momentum and a burst of adrenaline, he threw himself into the side of it, and it spun dramatically out of the way. Grinning, he recovered, but then his bare feet bit into pieces of grit. Organic wheat kitty litter, tracked across the floor.
An icicle of terror stabbed at his heart. He’d forgotten all about Fluffernoodle, Janine’s 12-year-old Persian. Mostly she was very mellow, getting up there in years, but he’d seen her spring into kitten-like agitation when Janine played with her. Fluffernoodle was clearly Janine’s pet: Shaun was in no hurry to get on close, physical terms with the huge, plush animal. She was familiar with him, knew his scent: Janine protected Shaun in a small cage while holding him near her pet, which he’d loudly protested right up until the cat’s powerful forelegs batted him out of his girlfriend’s grip. The cage tumbled to the floor and the door swung open, and Janine stared at him in horror while Fluffernoodle hopped down from her perch and began pawing inside the cage for her tasty treat.
It took Janine far too long to come to her senses and rescue him, and from that point on he insisted that she not tempt Fate any further and keep him as far from the aging Persian as possible. But here he was, running past her catbox, naked and unprotected, going into the heart of Fluffernoodle territory.
So be it. She was an old cat, anyway, so odds were she was sleeping somewhere else in the apartment. He ran on, listening to the pit-pit-pit of his footsteps, quiet even to himself. Either Fluffernoodle couldn’t hear him over the street noise, or she was used to his sound and tuned it out, wherever she was…
It looked good. The cat didn’t make an appearance, and Shaun plunged under the dining table to weave between chair legs and the solid support of the oak table. This was very dramatic to him, dodging, ducking, spinning and sprinting off again. If only Janine could have seen him, maybe filmed it with her smartphone, it would’ve made a great action sequence.
Janine! His lungs were burning with the prolonged effort, as he headed from the dining area into the living room. The orange wood floors glowed with sunbeams (yes, Fluffernoodle would definitely be pinned beneath one of those), the air was slightly cool, which meant it would be nice and cozy a few feet above him…
And there was his girlfriend, resting on the couch, hazy with the morning light. Her long, bare legs were stretched out to rest her heels on the coffee table. She had a book in her right hand and a steaming mug of coffee in her left. Sunlight glinted on her glasses, perched at the end of her button nose, and she pinned her bed-mussed hair out of the way for reading.
“Janine!” His yelling voice was far too small to carry, and he could only manage a much slower jog to the run around the coffee table. Standing at the leg of the table, he looked up to the underside of her slender calves and crossed ankles. She was wearing a men’s dress shirt, a little too big on her. It wasn’t his, he’d never been normal-sized, but she shopped for one that he liked and wore it in intimate moments, as though it were his. She even spritzed it with a little cologne he liked. The hem of the shirt hung down the sides of her deliciously round thighs, sticking out from the couch cushions.
Looking around, he was lucky to find another pencil. It must’ve rolled off the coffee table the last time they’d done a crossword puzzle together. With a little effort he was able to heft it up in the middle and laboriously swing the metal eraser ring against the metal leg of the coffee table. After a few rounds of this, Janine noticed him.
Her thighs raised, her calves tensed, and her bare feet descended from heaven to gently land on either side of him. Between her knees her hazel eyes blinked at him cutely. “What’re you doing down there? I thought you were still in bed!”
Hurling the pencil aside, he climbed upon the bridge of her foot and held on as she raised her leg back to the coffee table. Straddling her ankle Shaun told her the epic saga of coming to rescue her from kidnappers.
Her pretty eyes went huge and she cupped her mouth in her palm, her novel beside her (the coffee mug would never leave her grasp, don’t be ridiculous), and she giggled into her hand. “Shaun! Were you locked up in one of your… passions of imagination?” she said, using a phrase he’d come up with.
“Yes, a pretty intense one,” he said, crawling on all fours up her shin. She’d shaved the day before, so there wasn’t any stubble to pick at his skin. “My heart rate got up there.”
“Oh, Shaun…” She tilted her head and crumpled her lips sympathetically. “My poor little man. You get so excited.”
He nodded and crawled over her knee. She flexed it a couple times, just to mess with him. He was expecting that and inched his way along until he was safely mid-thigh. Before he could slide down between her legs, however, she gently pinched his shoulder and lifted him up to her face. She covered his bare body in a few warm kisses before dropping him into the pocket of her shirt. Which rested him against her boob, so that was fine with him.
She clicked her teeth. “You’re lucky Fluffernoodle didn’t find you first.”
“Where is she?”
“She was sniffing around the bed while you were sleeping, so I locked her in the guest bedroom with a bowl of wet food. She’s probably sleeping now.”
Shaun sniffed at her dark roast coffee. “How come I didn’t hear the kettle or the microwave?”
She laughed, and her breast bounced joyously against his entire body. “Dude, you were out like a light! I’m surprised you didn’t hear me getting out of bed.”
He thought of Janine waking up nude, rolling over. Spying her round little butt as she sat up, stretched, and hauled herself off the mattress… Shaun was disappointed he missed that. “What are you reading?”
He saw her jaw spin slowly through space, far overhead. “Nothing good. Why don’t you tell me again about the kidnappers?” So he settled against the curve of her flesh, calming his agitated heart with the soothing heat of her lovely body, and began again with greater detail and more flourish.
Based on an idea with Undersquid; image by Theth.
4 thoughts on “Too Shrunken, Too Furious”
Everything about this story is beautiful. Everything, but the names. Heller, Sabine, and Fluffernoodle sound like names you picked out when you reached the innards of a magical name-giving hat that has gone insane. The pointy hat of a long-dead warlock, which is so traumatized by uselessness, it can only provide terrible names to wonderful authors. Please toss grubby hat immediately.
As to the rest of it, I love it. The beginning of his trek from their bed, which always feel to me like starting a trip from atop a butte in Monument Valley. I have a problem with linen sheets, but maybe I don’t know linen as well as I could. Even today’s linen doesn’t compare to high-thread-count sheets, which are a must, if one wants to keep a shrunken man comfortable while he sleeps. If I want him to sleep on linen, then I might as well hand him a shard pillow, and a thorn blanket.
But I love his spirit. How he hurls himself in the way of what he imagines is danger, and his mental process as he moves around. I really enjoy the way you sprinkle details of their daily life, their playfulness, even their disagreements, into the drama he lives until he finds her.
Wonderful. Just wonderful.
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They are very European. I usually pick a nation and look up typical names. I’ve always liked the names Heller and Agustin for men; Sabine puts a very clear image in my head (midway through I suddenly recalled Griffin and Sabine and was too lazy to rewrite it). Sabine named the cat and Heller hates that name but he loves his woman and so he bites his tongue. She thinks it’s cute and ironic, and she’s a fan of T.S. Eliot: all cats have three names, and she tells herself this is her “particular and dignified” name. (Based on a true story: I rescued my Katze from being labeled “Mr. Whiskers” or “Pixiedust” by my sister.)
And I don’t know what a good bed sheet is. I know “cotton kills” but maybe that’s just winter clothing. I thought satin would be a bit much. Flannel, but what if they’re in SoCal? What do I know from bed sheets? I have much to learn, I’ll readily admit this.
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Well, as long as you like the names, and didn’t chose them with a gun to your head, or while drinking something blinding.
Cotton kills if you wear it during certain times, i.e. while camping, sweating, experiencing sharp temperature drops… but in bedding, good cotton breathes, and it’s cool, and super soft.
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