In another corner of the room, five women huddled in a padded booth and watched the activity with huge eyes.
“I cannot believe this place,” said a chubby woman with long, straight brown hair and large glasses. “I feel like I’m in a dream, a bad dream.”
“Is it really a bad dream, though?” said the woman beside her. She was young and sassy with darting eyes and a wide smile that suggested an appetite for anything the night had to offer. “I’ve had bad dreams before, and this isn’t anything like them. Maybe it’s a little weird, but I’ve seen some weird shit in my time, let me tell you.” She tilted her head and cast an enticing gaze about the table; no takers.
A blonde woman in a college hoodie, apparently an age peer, reared slightly from the invitation. “No, nothing about this makes any sense. Look at that table over there. Does anyone see what’s going on over there? Do you? How does that make any sense?”
Next to her was a thin and serious woman in a dark blue blazer. Long golden hair spilled down her head and over her shoulders, and she was intent on nothing more than watching the ice melt in her Long Island Iced Tea. “What doesn’t make sense is that I came to this party. I could’ve been at Tuffy’s for their New Year’s party, there’s a battle-of-the-bands at the Lamplighter. Instead I’m here? I don’t even like Jubilee Manor. Last time I was here…” She shuddered at a memory, then adjusted her seat as though perched on something uncomfortable.
“It’s the Lion’s Tap, I’ve been here dozens of times.” The fifth woman, wearing a hunter green scoop-neck blouse that did not scruple to advertise her impressive cleavage, grinned patiently at the business-lady.
“Yeah, the Lion’s Tap,” said the second woman. “I don’t think I’ve seen you here before, though.”
“It looks a little different, but I’m pretty sure it’s the Lion’s Tap.” The fuller-bodied woman dipped her head briefly. “Isn’t that right?”
“Ooh, who are you talking to? Anyone we should know about?”
The first woman, wrapped in a modest burgundy turtleneck and black cardigan, gawked in amazement at them. “What the hell are you two even talking about? Zona’s the only one who’s thinking clearly: can you all not see what the fuck is going on at the buffet table?”
Zona locked onto her. “You can see them, Renata?”
Renata looked back cautiously. “I see them, but I guess that depends on what you think you’re seeing.”
Zona leaned back in the booth. Her beer was open but untouched. “Well, what do you think you see?”
“Cut the shit, you two goofs,” the business-blonde snapped, slamming her palm on the table. “Yes, the buffet table’s crawling with tiny men. Okay? We’ve got an infestation. Summon one of those freaky service droids to take care of it.”
The heavy-chested woman with curly chestnut hair leaned forward, as if she could pick up her Irish coffee with prehensile breasts. “Or get that Robotech-looking rando to blow them all up. The one who just walked in.” All heads swiveled to see the BigSuit talking to two women.
“What… the fuck… is even going on here…” breathed Zona.
Renata stared fixedly at her. “But you can see the tiny little men, right? All of you can see them?”
“Well, they’re obvious, aren’t they?” said the buxom woman.
Renata snapped to her. “And you’re not freaking out about it?”
The other laughed until her boobs bounced upon the table. “Why should I? Doesn’t everyone have one?”
The stiff blonde stiffened further. The sassy chick raised an eyebrow at the heavy-chested woman and licked her teeth. “All right, ladies,” she purred, “let’s see what everyone’s holding.”
Zona jerked violently. “What? What are you saying, Kattie?”
“Nora said we’re throwing our hands on the table, and I’m following her lead.” Kattie bit her lip and bounced naughtily in her seat.
Tilting her head in a gesture of modesty, Nora grinned and slipped her fingers into her cleavage, making a show of digging around for something elusive. Zona and Renata stared in alarm while Kattie moaned and urged her to take her time. “Ah, there you are. Now don’t be bashful, I’ve got some friends you just have to meet.”
“You can’t take me out! This wasn’t the agreement!” The tiny voice was outraged, panicked.
“Oh, it’s okay, sweetheart. I think tonight’s a special night, no time for secrets.” Nora opened her hand, and from it tumbled a pile of black and white rags that straightened themselves out into an awkward-looking man. He swatted the wrinkles out of his business clothes and stepped defensively closer to the protective chasm of Nora’s breasts, made even more immense in contrast to his slender, diminutive stature.
“Ladies, this is Alvin. Say hi, Alvin.” Nora sipped at her Irish coffee, a gesture of complete confidence in the little man’s compliance.
The little man looked around at the goddesses ringing the red tablecloth. “Oh, geez.” He slicked his hair back with one hand and loosened his tie. “Uh, hi, everyone. Cat’s out of the bag, I guess. I’m Alvin, very nice to meet you.”
The women admired (silently or not) his glossy little shoes, how nicely the tiny slacks hung down his relatively long legs, and the cute way he blushed through an astonished gape. Renata’s lashes blinked repeatedly behind her glasses, and Zona’s jaw worked at something without much success. The straight-haired blonde studied him sharply, adjusting herself in her seat as an afterthought. “And you just let him walk around like this?” she asked Nora.
“Why not, Lynn? Where could he possibly go with all of us here?” Nora laughed and reached out to performatively stroke the tiny man’s head and spine. “Even if he dared to take a flying leap off the table, he’s got an entire crowded room full of women’s feet to dodge, if he can figure out where the doors are.”
Alvin, standing just outside of the dark ribbon of her cleavage, suddenly looked up and around the room. Indeed, he couldn’t spot anything that looked like a door, except for the lit hallway that had to lead to the restrooms.
“Not that he’d ever want to leave me, of course,” she added, running one thick fingertip around Alvin’s butt. He sighed, clenching his fists, but stood still to take it rather than bashfully dodge her touch.
Kattie’s eyes lit up. “Wow, he’s really well trained! Tell me: is he a loaner..?”
Alvin spun to stare at her, momentarily frightened. His posture softened when he saw the speaker, an overly sexualized college student, black tube top beneath a jeans jacket covered in pins and patches, with a wild streak to her. Wheels visibly turned in his skull, which Nora disrupted with a fingernail to the back of his head. “I dare you to tell me you don’t have one of your own,” she growled at the other woman.
Kattie shrugged, setting her jacket slipping over one tanned shoulder. She pulled it back up, then leaned to the side and let it slip again as she fished around under the table. “Hold on, this’ll be awkward for a minute. He’s not cooperative.” She half-rose in her seat, revealing a pair of well-worn military BDU pants slung low around her hips. Her arm stabbed repeatedly behind herself, grabbing for something that seemed to be moving around. “I’m gonna kill you in about five seconds, you little prick… ah, gotcha.” Plopping back down, she held up a wriggling mass of limbs that glistened in the candlelight. “What’s your problem, prick? Oh, right.”
She pinched a corner of the red paper napkin beneath Zona’s beer. “Do you mind?” she asked. Zona, stunned, shook her head and lifted the bottle, finally taking a long pull off it. Kattie told her she was a good girl, then folded the napkin into a large triangle and wrapped it around the waist of an otherwise stark-naked tiny man. “You’re just gonna have to hold that up yourself, sorry,” she told him, nudging him to stand up on his own, as he’d been trying to run off the table and jump into her lap. Kattie smiled at her company. “It’s just that he doesn’t need clothes anymore, most of the time. I didn’t think we’d be making introductions. Say hi to everyone, Josh.”
Josh tentatively raised one hand and waved at the huge women around him. His other fist clenched desperately to the fold of two napkin corners. The decorative lighting showed off his very well-developed frame: pecs and abs and biceps glistened in streaks of red and yellow.
“You’ve got to be kidding me,” muttered Josh. He turned to look up at his girlfriend: overhead, her jaw rested in her palm as she dreamily tapped her nails against her teeth. He sighed and turned again to try to pick out the door everyone must’ve come from.
“Yummy,” said Nora. “If I’d known what you were holding… well, maybe we can work out a little trade.”
“Don’t you dare!” snapped Alvin.
Kattie giggled. “It’s not like they have any say in it. If we want a little one-on-two action, what are they going to do about it?”
Nora’s boobs shifted against each other as she moaned. “Lady, I like the way you think.”
“Get a room,” growled the businesswoman.
“Oh, I’m sorry, we’re not done!” said Nora, laughing. She turned bodily toward the blonde. “Your turn, Lynn.”
Lynn swore under her breath and glanced around at the people she was seated with. Given that she was in the middle of the booth, there was no easy way to weasel out of this. “Fine, whatever,” she breathed, leaning to the side like Kattie had until she could unbutton and unzip her pencil skirt and dislodge her own partner from her own pert little buttocks. “Don’t embarrass me,” she hissed at the tiny figure she pulled out, before tossing him to the center of the table like throwing dice. “This is my former coworker: now he’s my assclown. Say hello to everyone, assclown.”
A young man dressed like Alvin, but cheaply, tugged his short brown hair to the side and rolled his shoulders. “Good evening, ladies, happy holidays to each one of you. I’m Derek.” He put on a winning smile and attempted to make eye contact with the woman with the biggest tits.
“What did you say?” Lynn spat, pulling the plastic spear from the Maraschino cherries in her Manhattan. She brandished the point around his abdomen.
He jumped back and swore quietly. “I mean, my name is Assclown. It’s very nice to meet all of you.” Derek shoved his hands in his trouser pockets and glanced at Josh. Despite dressed only in a sodden cocktail napkin like a sarong, the jock took the liberty of sneering and laughing at him. Derek slumped and looked glumly at Alvin, who only shrugged.
“Now you too,” said Nora, looking at the clearly alarmed women at their table.
“You better go,” said Renata. “Mine’s gonna take some explanation.”
Zona nodded slowly, finished her beer, and slipped her hands under the table as well. Unlike the other women, she didn’t lurch awkwardly to the side and dig around in her crotch: she only slipped her little man out of her hoodie pocket and carefully righted him upon the table, close to her. “Everyone, this is Albinus Defiance Taylor of Pucklechurch. He’s the absolute love of my life, so please don’t be mean or anything.” She opened her hands like the husk of a seed and revealed to the group what appeared to be a Dickensian figurine, a young man in antiquated dress, someone stepping directly out of a Currier & Ives plate.
“Well, well, we-e-e-ell, what’ve we got ’ere?” he said, hooking his thumbs behind the labels of his jacket. “Couple o’ dancing dogs, a bloke in Adam and Eve’s togs, and five heapin’ helpings of raspberry jam, looking seven ways for Sunday!” Overhead, four out of five jaws fell open and gaped at him, and he arched back and roared with laughter.
Zona swooned and draped one slim hand over her chest. “Oh my Goddess, I love it when he talks like that.” She looked up and beamed at her acquaintances.
“I want one,” breathed Nora.
Lynn shook her head, her flaxen hair shimmying in the glow of colored lights. “Un-fucking-believable. Just when you think you’ve seen everything.”
Renata took a deep breath, her chest swelling beneath her dowdy cardigan. “Well, I might have something to top that, I think, though I’m not sure how to do this.”
Kattie nudged her shoulder. “G’wan, just pull him out. We all did! Let’s see yours.”
“You don’t understand…” Renata warmed her palms around her glass of mint tea, then placed them upon the tabletop. Josh stepped back from her large fingers, then looked back at Alvin and Derek, who smirked at his timidity. “All right, I don’t know what I’m doing, but this feels right, so we’ll just go with it.” She nodded at Zona and looked at Nora, who nodded back. Kattie made impatient noises and Lynn only folded her arms and snorted.
Drawing another deep breath, Renata clenched her eyes and let her head fall slightly, as though trying to recall something on the tip of her tongue. She was an island of peace in an otherwise chaotic room of partiers, oblivious to the strange music that defied identification. She drew one more breath, leaned her head back, and raised her hands. The other four women were transfixed, baffled, wondering where the hell this could go next.
Where it went was with Renata spewing out her breath like a blast of flame, flicking her fingers violently from herself to scatter something around the room, and the air itself seemed to wobble or warp for a moment.
In the next moment, the atmosphere was shattered with shrieks, as thousands and thousands of tiny naked men appeared, crawling over every exposed surface like a flood of horny geckoes.
* * *
“AAH! What is that thing!”
“Goddess, let me worship you!”
“Get it off, get it out of my hair!”
“Let me pamper your feet, Goddess!”
“Kill it! Kill it with fire!”
“I only wish to serve you, Goddess!”
“Where the fuck did these all come from?”
“I am unworthy, Goddess! Please step on me slowly!”
“I hate this place! How did we get here? Why is this happening?”
“Oh Goddess! Oh Goddess! Oh, oh!”
“Luke, Marco, where’s Julian?” Shaun heaved a plate bearing a pile of humping men (and, sadly, all their drinks) over the edge of the buffet table. “Drummond, do you see Julian anywhere?”
The tiny SWAT officer only turned his head slightly to report that the old man had been scooped up and carried off by his wife four minutes ago. He never broke off from firing his Kimber Custom TLE II in headshot after headshot at the rampaging horde of barbaric horndogs; tiny bodies fell from the buffet table like peachy snowflakes, and yet they just kept coming.
Drummond glanced upward just in time to see a huge brushed steel tray of Korean short ribs come bearing down on him like a fallen passenger jet. He jumped up, booted a nude Goddess-worshipper in the chest to send him and two more behind him toppling over the table’s edge, then rolled with the momentum out of the way of the food tray. He rolled his shoulder, ruefully watching all that good food go to waste: a giantess in pink fleece pajamas had been shoved off-balance, and her pronounced rump knocked the serving tray off its admittedly incapable legs. Beneath her vast, swaying buttocks, a man lay sprawled at odd angles, badly injured. While he didn’t have any clothes, neither was he babbling an insensible stream of self-indulgent offers for service. Drummond holstered his .45 and sprinted across the vinyl tablecloth.
“Hold on,” he shouted over the din. He grasped the injured man, a portly and pasty specimen, by one uninjured arm—the other, bizarrely, was strapped to a segment of ballpoint pen and held in place with Wonder Woman Band-Aids—and began to haul him away. A Mongolian chicken drummie rested upon the broken arm, and it rolled away as Drummond tugged at him. The man’s back adhered to the vinyl cover, however, and he wailed at being torn apart.
“Suck it up, buttercup,” he growled. “I’ll get you somewhere safe and patch you up. Then you can bawl your eyes out.”
“Help me!” cried the man. Blood crusted in his sparse blond mustache, and his nose did not look correct. His mouth and goat-scruff beard were covered in Mongol sauce.
“I’m trying to. Try to push with your legs or something.”
“Please, you gotta help me! Get me out of here!”
“Worship!” Two frenzied naked men blindsided Drummond in a flying tackle. “We worship Goddess!” One locked his arms around Drummond’s waist, while the other punched and clawed at his face. He reached for his firearm but the man grappling him covered it with his shoulder. “Worship, worship! Goddess will be pleased by us!” It took all Drummond’s reflexes to steer the grasping nails from his eyes, and it felt like his assistant was dragging him somewhere, though it was difficult to focus with the wailing man-child, the shrieking worshippers, and the odd splash of savory sauce, to say nothing of the milling pandemonium of a couple dozen women fending off a veritable locust swarm.
“Please and thank you,” said Drummond, unable to come up with anything better. He curled his legs up, crushing one binding arm beneath him; he planted his boots in the chest of the flailer and kicked with all his strength. The frenzied nudist flew up into the bottom of a food tray, immediately adhered in place as his body melted against a heating element. His shriek and the stench of sweet-and-sour pork snapped the grappler’s focus for one crucial second: Drummond slipped his fingers through his opponent’s and bent his hand back until something crunched. Then it was a matter of peeling his arm off, hauling him to the edge of the table, and flinging him over without resistance. He watched as one huge white sneaker, poking out of the flapping edge of a pink pajama bottom, happened to twist and come down on the tiny man’s upper half. His legs kicked and then they didn’t, and the chaos moved on.
Drummond turned toward the mutilated man. “That’s not a bad splint, but I can set you up better. New bandages, and you’re not going to like it but I can reset your nose so it’ll heal properly.”
The tubby man’s watery eyes widened in fright. “No! Listen! Just get me out of here and you can do whatever you want! Take me away, please!” He tried to roll to his side; his face contorted in agony, and it nearly sickened Drummond to watch him push himself, desperate to get away, whatever that meant.
Before Drummond could take another step, a pudgy tan hand dropped from above and wrapped around the battered man. He issued an ascending whine as he was whisked away. Drummond reached for his firearm but was too late to react: he watched as the pudgy man pedaled in the open air, in the split second it took for him to fall down the back of the pink pajama bottoms and disappear into the plunging crack of tremendous buttocks, and those shuddering spheres likewise heaved away from the table and disappeared into the tumult.
Shaun ran up to him, pulling his holiday sweater vest off over his head and pitching it over the table’s edge. “Drummond, where’d you go? We’re trying to set up a fortification by the sorbet. We’ve collected a cache of fish forks and Marco found a spare box of toothpicks. We’re going to round up anyone who was stranded on the other end of the table.”
Drummond reared slightly, as though getting a better look at who he thought was a mere office drudge. “Good soldier,” he said, grasping Shaun’s shoulder. “One perimeter sweep, and then we shore up our defenses. We can’t rely on the bigs at a time like this.”
Shaun looked away for a moment. “Forgotten as always,” he said, then ran back with Drummond to collect their big metal pointy things.
* * *
“Are you okay? Are you okay? Do you know any of these people?”
Euen waved his arms to flag down Sharon’s attention. She was huddled in a corner booth with Karmen, Janine, Ceci, and Keila. Euen stood in the outstretched arms of the Shane BigSuit that, now, no one felt Lloyd was lame for bringing to a party. For some reason, the scrabbling naked men were demonstrably unwilling to approach or climb the suit.
“We don’t know any of them, Sharon. They’re crazed and unreasonable,” hollered Euen. “Lloyd and I have tried to communicate with them: they use English words, but not in a reciprocal manner.”
“Like a tourist who has memorized several phrases in another language but has no idea what he’s actually saying,” added Lloyd.
Sharon scoffed, clutching the tiny man in her chest. “Well, that doesn’t make any sense. How do we know what they want?”
“We know what they want, Sharon!” screeched Ceci. “It’s all they can talk about! They only want one thing, they’re just using the most fucked-up words to try and get it! Like we’re that stupid! We’re just supposed to melt because some rando called us a goddess? And they don’t want to please anyone but themselves! We’re just a fucking vehicle for their orgasm! Like always! AAH, get the fuck off me!” She brushed several tiny naked men out of her lap and kicked them away. Red streaks were forming along the bottom half of the walls and booths around the room, and parts of the floor were slick with more blood than anyone would’ve guessed.
Keila said nothing. She had found a discarded metal skewer and was carefully lancing tiny men upon it. They kicked and squealed and demanded to please her, even as she pinned them in a long kebab, leaving them to hump and grope each other.
“Listen, we’re going to try to fight our way out of here,” said Euen. “We have to go the long way around the buffet table: this side’s full of lobster tails and crab rangoon. But we know that they’ll avoid the Shane, so we think Lloyd can walk you out two at a time. He’ll take off with one pair, then come back for the next.”
“Who goes first? I can’t stay in here another second!” yelled Ceci.
“You and Sharon will go out first,” said Lloyd, his voice buzzing with the older-model BigSuit’s speaker. “I’m sorry. We’ll come back for you as soon as we can. Will you be all right?”
Karmen said, “We’ll upend the table as a barrier, and we can use the table candles for a boiling oil defense.” Keila cheerily waved a second, fresh skewer. Euen climbed up to a passenger platform on the Shane’s shoulder, and Lloyd helped Ceci and Sharon out of the booth. He had wrapped his arms around them when there was a large flash and an assaulting burst of sulphur.
When everyone’s vision returned, all the tiny men had vanished, including the blood and viscera produced by a stampede of panicking giants. The food was back in place on the buffet table, surrounded by four starched-shirts raising their arms and finishing a chant. Business concluded, they filed out of the room, smiling and silent, but for the last one who turned around and addressed the party.
“Whoever did that: don’t.” She smiled and zipped out of the room to start bringing out desserts.
Quiet throbbed throughout the dining room, swollen around the background music and battening the clink of kitchen preparations. “What the fuck was that,” said Ceci, sparking relieved laughter and burbling conversation. She slowly peeled herself from the Shane’s arm. “I’m not a coward, I just can’t handle small spaces. It’s like claustrophobia, but with crowds.”
“Agoraphobia?” asked Lloyd, helping Sharon back to her seat.
“That’s it. All those tiny, annoying fuckers, crawling all over my skin… I couldn’t take it. I can’t stand it. One is fine. Three? That’s a party. But this—I’m not going to be able to sleep well for a week.” No sooner had she looked up to call for a server than a Sex on the Beach appeared in her hand. “Well, they’re skilled at pest control, and their service can’t be beat,” she said quietly, slinking into the booth.
“And nothing to show for it,” said Keila, regarding the gleaming, empty skewer.
Euen crawled down the Shane’s arm and trotted over the table into Karmen’s welcoming hands. “My hero,” she said, clasping him to her lips. Keila held Lloyd’s cyber hand and promised his reward would come later.
* * *
“That was fucked up,” said Kattie.
“That was horrifying!” Zona held herself and shuddered. She had grabbed Albinus and stuffed him inside her hoodie, while Alvin, Derek, and Josh were left to fend for themselves on the table. They panted, stretching their limbs and looking around in confusion. Josh, denuded, tugged at another cocktail napkin under Nora’s drink; she enjoyed watching him struggle.
“That’s what you see all the time?” asked Lynn.
Renata nodded emphatically. “All the time, everywhere. It used to be little glances, motion in the corner of my eye. Then it was something running over my foot or crawling up my bed sheets. Now it’s like this all the time for me, unless I try really hard to focus, constantly.”
Zona asked if that’s why she wasn’t drinking, and Renata confirmed it.
“How do you sleep?” Kattie wanted to know.
“I bundle up tightly. That’s all I can do. Lots of blankets, tuck myself in tight, try not to expose too much of myself when I sleep.” She sighed deeply, sitting back in her seat. “I’ve blocked out the skittering over the blankets, and I bought a UV-protection facemask from some Chinese website. But sometimes… they still find a way in…” She grimaced, then looked up at three tiny men ringed by drinks and bottles. “No offense.”
“None taken,” said Alvin. “Those things weren’t even human. I don’t know what they were.”
“You don’t think they were like you?” asked Zona.
“Not at all. I’d guess they were some kind of species that only coincidentally resembled humans. I can’t imagine how much potion it would take to shrink that many people down.”
“Or how much magic, to shrink that many people down,” said Derek.
“No, potion. Potion’s how people get shrunk down,” said Josh. “There’s no such thing as magic.”
Zona frowned and pulled her beer closer. She didn’t drink it, she just didn’t want to reach near a six-inch-tall naked man to get it. “I know for a fact magic’s real, but it didn’t shrink Albinus down. He was always this size.”
Nora looked at her. “He was always tiny?”
“No, it’s like he’s…” Zona bit her lip. “He’s tiny to us, but he’s actually normal-sized. Magic let me reach backward in time to an actual English village, but it didn’t shrink me down or anything.”
“I guess that makes sense.” Nora opened her arms and rested her breasts upon the table. Alvin conceded to the “invitation” and walked over. He strained to shove her boobs apart, then laboriously climbed into her cleavage and squirmed until he faced the crowd again. He seemed to be aware of how he looked, with just his head popping out from between the enormous fleshy mounds, but he also seemed well past caring and left the task of reconciling with the absurdity to the audience.
“Why can’t you be like that,” said Josh and Derek, almost as one.
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