Games   He ran

Games   He ran

Games

He ran, naked and panting, across the vast, cold landscape. He

didn’t know where he was going, or even where he was, but instinct

told him to run or die. His heart raced, and cold sweat ran from him

in rivulets. His eyes bulged in near panic, and his lips were drawn

back from his teeth like those of an enraged animal.

The strange, hard ground stretched in every direction as far as he

could see. It was nearly perfectly smooth except for small

indentations here and there, and strange, perfectly straight lines

cut into the surface of the ground running perpendicular to one

another to form a seemingly infinite grid. He estimated each square

of the grid to be 3 strides wide.

That was the investigator in him. Even in this time of confusion and

fear, his mind took in details and sorted them, stored them away in a

filing cabinet for later use. Over the course of his thirty-four

year life, that filing cabinet had grown larger and larger, but he

could recall every single file from within it if he chose to. That

was his gift. That’s what made him a good private eye.

As he ran, his minds fingers flipped through file after file,

searching for an explanation, a reason for his being there. He

couldn’t understand it. He had created a file for the grid, but it

was barely five minutes old. The file before the grid seemed out of

place, as if there was a file missing between that one and the grid

file.

That was how his thoughts went. Not like normal thoughts, like files

of stored memories that he leafed through when he needed to recall

something. In everyday language: he had no memory of arriving on the

grid. One moment he was standing on the doorstep of a woman’s house.

Her little girl had answered the door, and he had asked to speak

with her mother. The girl nodded, given him an odd look, and then

disappeared behind the half-closed door. The next moment, he was on

the grid, adrenaline racing through his body and inexplicable terror

driving his heartbeat to the breaking point. Immediately he’d begun

to run.

With a yelp of pain, the toes of his right foot caught in one of the

shallow grooves that made up the grid, and he stumbled forward,

tumbling head-over-heels until he came to a halt lying on his back

and staring straight up into the sky. The pain was enough to knock

him from his terrified stupor, and he did not move for a long while,

gazing upward.

The sky was bright white, and for some reason didn’t seem high

enough. It wasn’t like an outside sky that climbed into space and

nothingness. This sky, although immeasurably distant, did have a

ceiling. It just seemed to end abruptly.

As he was puzzling over this new development, he began to feel a

slight vibration against his back, a methodic tremor as of something

large and powerful pounding the ground. The tremor grew until he

felt it might raise him into the air. He couldn’t tell from what

direction it was coming, and he lifted his head a bit to gaze past

his feet.

He saw nothing.

A sudden shadow threw him into twilight, and he looked up. A scream

ripped from his throat as he witnessed something massive dropping

from the sky upon him.He flung up his arms, but it was no use. The

object covered him, obliterating him completely with a crackling of

bones.

Uch! The young brunette said in disgust as her bare foot settled onto

something squishy on her kitchen floor. She looked down in time to

see blood squirt out from under her heel, and couldn’t stop herself

from placing most of her weight on the foot. Quickly she lifted it

up and stared at the sole.

The tiny body of a naked man was stuck, flattened to her flesh.

She placed one hand on the kitchen counter to balance her and reached

with the other to tear a paper towel from the rack. As she wiped the

bloody remains from her foot, she tilted her head back and called in

a loud, angry voice.

Jackie! Would you please stop letting your toys run around the

house?!

There was an answering giggle from just outside the kitchen door.

She looked over to see her ten-year-old daughter run away to the back

of the house in obvious joy.

*****

That was eight years ago, the young woman said from the leather

couch.She wore a wistful smile as she recalled the memory. That

was my favorite. She stared at the ceiling, listening to the soft

scratch of the doctor’s pen on paper.

And why was it your favorite, Jackie? Dr. Sheila Richards asked

without breaking her flow of penmanship.

Jackie snickered. Because that was the closest anyone ever came to

catching me. The thing was investigating the disappearance of all

those other things I took.

On her pad, Sheila wrote Things and underlined the word twice.

Jackie almost always said things when she referred to the people in

her stories. They weren’t human, they were things to her. Objects.

Sometimes they were insects or toys, or even animals, but never

people. Sheila knew that was a way for Jackie to distance herself

from the gruesome acts that she imagined she had performed on them,

though Jackie insisted it was because they weren’t people to her,

just playthings.

I knew that if I let it, Jackie continued, it would catch me, and I’d

have to go away from my mom. So I shrunk it, and put it on the game

board.

The game board was what Jackie called the kitchen floor of her

mothers house.She often spoke of the games she played with the

people she claimed to have shrunk, liking the grid pattern of the

linoleum to a game board. It fed her fantasies and caused her to

elaborate on her delusions.

Its more fun when I let my mom step on em, said Jackie,

matter-of-factly. Sheila waited for her to say more, but she didn’t.

Was your mom angry with you for doing it? Sheila asked, pausing in

her writing to brush a strand of red hair from her eye.

Doing what? Jackie asked innocently.

Making her step on them.

Jackie smiled. Only when it was an accident.

Despite her knowledge that the stories were made-up, Sheila couldn’t

suppress a chill at those words. She swallowed and shrugged her

shoulders to loosen them.

So, your mom also played the games? she asked the girl.

Sometimes, but not a lot, Jackie said.She just didn’t like

surprises. She wasn’t squeamish or anything, she wasn’t afraid of

stepping on em, she just didn’t like it when I played games on her.

So, one of the games was to see if she’d step on them by accident?

One of em, yeah.

Sheila wrote that down. Does your mom also have your gift? she

asked, referring to Jackie’s delusion that she could shrink anyone

and anything down to whatever size she wanted.

Nope, the black-haired eighteen-year-old said. I’m a one and only.

But she knows about your gift.

Oh yeah.

And how does your mom feel about it.

Jackie thought for a moment. She doesn’t try to stop me, if that’s

what you’re getting at.

And why is that?

Because she’s afraid I’ll do it to her. But I wouldn’t.

And why not?

Duh! Because she’s not a thing.

Was Joey a thing? Sheila asked, but seeing the red rise in Jackie’s

cheeks and the clenching of her jaw wished she hadn’t.

Isn’t it about time for me to go? asked Jackie in a clipped voice.

Sheila looked at her watch. We still have a few minutes.

Jackie sat up, avoiding Sheila’s eyes.I think I’ll just go now.

She reached down beside her feet and picked up her purse.

Sheila admonished herself, but didn’t let the anger sound in her

voice.If you feel its best.

She watched as Jackie briefly opened her purse, peered inside, and

snapped it shut again.The girl then walked to the door.

Sheila got up and followed her. Same time next week, then, she said.

Don’t forget.

Jackie stopped and turned toward her. The anger in her face was

gone. She regarded the doctor for a moment, the smiled sweetly.

Don’t worry. I enjoy this. She then turned and left.

Sheila closed the door behind her, then went back and sat at her

desk. For a moment she leafed through her notepad, then flipped on

the monitor of her laptop. She opened Jackie’s file, preparing to

enter the day’s session into it. Before she did, however, she

decided to review a bit. She clicked on a document titled Joey, and

it opened on her screen.

*****

You’re drunk, Emily said to her son who was home for a visit from

college.

Joey stumbled past her and flung himself onto the couch, ignoring

her. His dark hair hung in his eyes, and his shirt was wrinkled and

half untucked from his cargo pants. He reached for the TV remote,

which rested on the coffee table, and in the effort, rolled off the

couch onto the floor. He burst out laughing hysterically.

I told you I don’t like you drinking, especially when you’re home!

Emily said, her arms crossed beneath her breasts in anger.

Joey pulled himself back up onto the couch, still laughing. Once

he’d situated himself, he stared blearily at his mother.

I just had a few beers with Mikey and Darren. His laughter had

subsided, and his face quickly alteredinto a look concentration as

he attempted to focus on her. His speech was fairly slurred.

Emily rolled her eyes. Mikey and Darren were in the back of the

house, Darren with his head in the toilet and Mikey waiting his turn.

She hoped he was waiting. They were two college friends Joey had

brought home with him because they had no place else to stay during

the Christmas holiday.

I mean it, Joey! If you don’t have enough respect to follow the

rules of this house, then you will have to stay at the dorms on your

breaks.

Pff, Joey scoffed, and set his eyes on the remote once again, which

still rested on the coffee table.

Emily threw up her arms and turned to leave, nearly knocking Jackie,

who was standing behind her, off her feet. She caught her breath in

surprise.

Jackie stared at her with a stern look. What’s going on? she asked.

Emily felt a moment of fear toward her seventeen-year-old daughter,

but it quickly passed.Oh nothing, she said, shaking her head.

Joeys just drunk again.

Jackie looked at her older brother with derisiveness. I’ll have a

talk with him, she said, her eyes still upon him.

The fear came back to Emily, and she looked at her son with concern,

then back to her daughter. Th-thats not necessary, dear, she

stammered. Vie already spoken with him.

Jackie’s cold eyes flicked back to her, piercing her. What’s the

matter, mom?

Emily looked at her, holding her breath. After a moment, she let it

out. Nothing, dear. Just. . . .

Jackie waited. Yes?

Emily swallowed. Just. . . remember that he’s drunk, and he’ll

probably say things he doesn’t mean, and . . . .

Jackie’s face suddenly melted into a warm smile. She chuckled and

batted her mom playfully on the upper arm. Don’t worry, mom! I’m

just going to make sure he understands the rules of the house.

Emily gave Jackie a nervous smile. Y-yes. The rules of the house.

But whose rules? she thought to herself. Then, casting one last

glance at her son, she left the room and went to bed.

Joey in the meantime had somehow managed to retrieve the remote

control from the coffee table, but was growing more and more

frustrated at his inability to turn the TV on.He didn’t seem to

realize that he had the remote turned around backwards.

Jackie stood with her arms crossed in the exact same manner as her

mother before her, staring at her dear brother. Her lips were curved

in a soft smile. After a moment, she walked over to him, smacked him

on the back of the head, and jumped onto the couch next to him,

crossing her legs under her. Hey, bro! she said, happily.

Joey’s head snapped forward and he emitted a delayed Ow!. It took

him a moment to focus on his sister, and he gave her a weary look.

Hey, he said, cautiously. He went back to fumbling with the remote.

Give me that, Jackie said as if speaking to a dog, and pulled the

thing from his hands.

Hey! he said, angrily this time. Give it back!

She held it above her head by her fingertips, taunting him. Or what?

she asked sweetly.

Joey stopped reaching for it and gave her another weary look. Or, he

said, and paused.

Jackie arched an elegant eyebrow at him but said nothing.

Or, he continued, then, nothing. He looked away from her.

She giggled, and then giggled harder when his cheeks reddened in

embarrassment.

Darren and Mikey took that opportunity to stumble into the room then,

guffawing loudly at a dirty joke Darren had just told.First Darren,

then Mikey stopped laughing at the sight of Jackie, who had turned

her crooked smile toward them as they entered.

She was very pretty with long raven-black hair pulled back from her

face and held at the back of her head with a scrunchy.Her eyes were

green, and her milky complexion was heightened by what her mother had

always called natural makeup. Jackie’s lips were naturally red so she

rarely had to wear lipstick, and her eyes and cheeks always appeared

to be made-up despite a total lack of cosmetics. She had a long,

slender swan-like neck and a nice hourglass figure.

She smirked as she watched Darren’s eyes linger on her breasts, which

lay hidden beneath a white tee shirt. Mikey's eyes, however, had

somehow managed to travel all the way down her graceful legs, which

were exposed since she wore a pair of men’s boxers in preparation of

sleep.On her feet was a pair of white socks.

Jackie, who knew how to take advantage of people, stood slowly and

stretched, her slender arms reaching for the ceiling and her chest

jutting outward. Darren actually moaned as her taught tummy peeked

from beneath the tee shirt. She eyed him sidelong and smiled.He

didn’t notice.

Gracefully, she sauntered to an armchair and sat down as she had

before, her feet tucked under her. She waited a moment, then

gestured toward the couch.

Have a seat, boys, she said, a lilt to her voice.

Darren and Mikey seemed to come out of a trance, and looked at the

couch.She saw that they had at least enough shame to blush as they

mumbled something incoherent and sat down.

Jackie smiled again, then looked at the TV, turning it on with the

remote. She lazily flipped channels, not really watching, but

instead listening to the three college students as they began to

talk.

Dude, one of them said in a whisper made loud by drunkenness. She

thought it was Darren.You’re sisters hot!

There was a thud, which she guessed was Joeys elbow connecting with

his ribcage followed by an Oof!

Shut up! Joey hissed. That’s my sister!

Dude, I know! I said Darren, a little louder. And she’s hot!

There was another thud.

Jackie concentrated on keeping her face straight, pretending not to

listen, but enjoying what she heard.

Yeah, chimed in Mikey, and so is your mom!

Jackie’s smile disappeared instantly, and her eyes became green ice.

She didn’t look at them, but continued to stare at the TV.

Shut up! Joey said again.

Behind Jackie, Darren and Mikey gave up trying this line of

conversation with Joey, but continued it with each other in what they

thought were quiet voices.

Dude, Darren said to Mikey, yesterday afternoon when I woke up, I

went to the bathroom, but his mom was in there. She was naked, dude!

Whoa! was Mikey’s informed response.

Jackie listened harder, her anger mounting.

Yeah, Darren said.

What’d you do? asked Mikey.

Well, continued Darren, Ashe didn’t know I was there.She left the

door open a little. So I just watched her!

[email protected]

Shut up! slurred Joey.

Mikey spoke in a lower voice, clearly thinking, incorrectly, that it

was low enough that only Darren could hear it.You know what I’d

like to do?

Yeah?

I’d like to take her, bend her over this couch, and . . . .

Jackie’s rage broke. She leaped up from the chair and advanced on

the two young men, her fists clenched at her sides and her face a

mask of rage.

What did you say?! she nearly shrieked.

Mikey and Darren were startled from their talk and stared up at her

in surprise.

What did you say about my mom?! Jackie shouted at them. Her eyes

were green fire.

N-nothing, they said together in shaky voices.

Unfortunately, poor stupid Joey thought it best to intervene.

Jackie, he said, they didn’t mean. . . . he was cut off as her

burning eyes flashed upon him.

You three! she shouted. You three things dare to defy my mother?!

The color drained from Joeys face. He knew the meaning behind how

she addressed them. He tried to speak, but his throat was suddenly

too dry for words.

You! she stabbed a finger at Darren and Mikey, have the nerve to talk

about her like she’s some piece of meat?!

They, too, had been struck dumb.

And you! she stabbed that finger at Joey, who flinched and looked as

if he were about to cry, think you can just break her rules and do

whatever the hell you want?!

He finally found his voice, though it was tiny and cracked.

PBp-please, sis, d-d-don’t, he squeaked.

Jackie waved her hands beside her head, her eyes rolling and her

face stretching as she mocked in a high-pitched voice,

Puh-puh-puhlease, sis, duh-duh-don’t! She dropped her hands,

clenching them at her sides again, and spat her words at him. Don’t,

what, Joey?

Joey was finally crying. D-don’t. . .was all he could muster before

his words were garbled in sobs.

Don’t this? she said, and waved her hand.

As her hand passed over each of the young men, they became inch-long

specks on the couch cushions.

This had an immediate calming effect on Jackie. It always did. She

sighed heavily, and took a moment to collect herself. A few strands

of hair had escaped the scrunchy, so she removed it, pulled all her

hair back again, and snapped it back into place. Then she crossed

her arms beneath her breasts, and stared down over them at the things

before her with a smirk.

Well, well, well, she said in a breathy voice, three new playthings.

The grandfather clock in the hall chimed midnight, and she looked at

her watch, suddenly yawning.

Wow! she said before the yawn was finished, I’m freakintired! Off to

bed! And without a second glance at the three young men, walked off

to the back of the house.

On the cushions, the three young men reacted to the situation each

quite differently. Joey, who had seen this happen countless times

over the years, was ashen faced and trembling.He pulled his knees

up under his chin and sat with his back to the pillow behind him,

shaking like a leaf, tears staining his face.

Darren had a look of stricken horror frozen on his face as he stared

into the darkened hallway where Jackie had just disappeared. He

didn’t make a sound, and barely seemed to breath.

Mikey, on the other hand, began to scream, WHAT THE HELL JUST

HAPPENED?! WHAT THE HELL JUST HAPPENED?! He struggled to his feet,

began to walk toward Joey, stumbled in the unfamiliar sponginess of

the couch, gained his feet again, and fell next to the trembling man.

WHAT THE HELL JUST HAPPENED?! he shouted again.

Joey shook his head, in denial rather than lack of knowledge. He drew

a deep breath, then said in a weak voice, I told you to shut up, but

you wouldn’t.

WHAT?! Mikey shouted. WHAT?!

Joey was on his feet in an instant, towering over Mikey who fell

back onto his hands and heels.I TOLD YOU TO SHUT UP! he screamed at

him, spittle flying from his lips. He then seemed to shrink into

himself. He looked down at his feet. But you wouldn’t, he said in

the weak, wretched voice again.

Joeys screaming had an effect on Mikey who seemed to calm enough to

collect his thoughts. He sat down from the crab position he’d been

forced into and looked around him.

The room was huge, beyond imagining. The couch loomed over them like

a great cliff.He could see tiny specks of lint all over its

surface, and the edge of a penny that peeked out from between two of

the cushions. In the distance he could make out the armchair Jackie

had recently sat in. It seemed miles away.

She shrunk us, he intoned, bewilderment making his voice sound

childlike.

Joey nodded meekly. Yes.

Mikey heard something in his voice and looked up at him. She’s done

it before?

Joey nodded again. She does it all the time.

Mikey felt a ray of hope. Then she’ll change us back?

Joey looked at him for a moment, then let his eyes fall. Instead of

answering, he walked to the edge of the couch cushion and peered down

at the floor. We have to get to my mom, somehow.

Mikey got up and followed after him, his voice beseeching. She’ll

change us back, right?You said she’s done it before, and you were

changed back, right?

Joey took a long time to look at his friend. When he did, Mikey felt

like crying, for Joey wore a lost expression.

She’s never done this to me before, he said at last. AAnd she’s

never changed anyone back.

Mikey swallowed back the tears, suddenly realizing he didn’t feel the

least bit drunk. Hell of a sobering experience. He looked back at

Joey. So, if she never changes people back, there are others around

here?

No, Joey said, then quickly looked over the edge again, saying, We

have to get down from here and get to my mom. He turned around and

walked back to where Darren was sitting.

The blond was still staring at the hallway, terror in his eyes. He

didn’t look up as Joey approached.

Darren, Joey said, but got no response. He knelt down before him.

Darren, get up.

Darren turned his eyes slowly toward him, but Joey saw that they

were vacant, and they looked right through him.

Darren, come on, he tried again.

Darren didn’t answer. Instead he closed his gaping mouth, and let

his eyes fall down until they rested on his feet, which splayed out

before him.

Joey stood up, looking down at his friend. He heard Mikey approach

him.

Darren’s gonna have to stay here, Joey said, motioning to the

catatonic boy.

Mikey looked and understood.

*****

It took them nearly half an hour to climb down from the couch.It

was pure luck that the material it was upholstered with was mesh-like

and provided easy hand and footholds. Most of the delay in climbing

was caused by their minds simply refusing to fully comprehend what

had happened. It was nearly impossible to grasp and interpret the

mechanics of scaling the front of a sofa.

When they reached the floor, they found the going extremely

difficult. The carpet rose to their knees and refused to give way to

their pushing legs. Slowly they made their way first past the end of

the couch, then toward the long, dark hallway.Two hours passed

before they’d made it to the hallway threshold. They hardly spoke,

needing the breath to trudge along. They made no plans, simply took

it one step at a time.

They had just entered the hallway, the shadows falling upon them,

dark and threatening like storm clouds, when a loud rumble pulled

them up short.The floor beneath their feet trembled slightly, and

the rumble turned into heavy thuds in the distant gloom of the hall.

Then, somewhere in the far reaches of dark, a loud clang sounded.

There was a horrible metallic grinding sound immediately afterward

that set their teeth on edge, then a sound as of the wind of a

hurricane.

In the far distance, a towering crack of light appeared and quickly

widened into a huge rectangle.In that rectangle of light stood the

monstrous form of Joey’s sister.

Oh, god! Mikey screamed, she’s coming for us!

Joey shouted above the growing rumble of Jackie’s footfalls as she

began toward them. Get to the wall! He then tried to follow his own

orders.

The speed at which she approached was mind-boggling. They didn’t

have time to move more than an inch before she was upon them. They

looked up at the girl’s legs that stretched high above them and

screamed as one as her right foot rose into the air and hovered above

their heads.

The immense, sock-clad foot rushed toward them like a truck falling

from the sky. With a loud Whump! and a blast of displaced air, it

crashed to earth beside them, inches away, then soared back up into

the night.

Their screams faded with her footfalls as she walked away toward the

kitchen.

She didn’t even see us! Joey breathed, teetering on hysterics.

They heard the distant rumble of a gigantic faucet being turned on.

She was getting a drink of water.

Joey snapped out of it. We need to get near the wall.If she comes

back she might see us.

But if she does, she might change us back, Mikey said, hopefully.

Joey shook his head. No. If she sees us. . . . He looked at Mikey,

considering.

Mikey looked fearful. What?

Joey stared into his eyes. We’re bugs, Mikey. That’s all.

Joey looked at him only a moment longer, then rushed as fast as he

could to the wall. Joey followed.

Jackie was coming back.

The two had reached the wall and hunkered down to make themselves as

small to the eye as possible. Together they stared up into the giant

girl’s face as she approached, drew even, and then passed them, never

even glancing down.

Joey let his held breath out only when his sister had entered her

room and shut the door behind her.

If she didn’t see us, Mikey said, and looked at Joey. He started to

talk, couldn’t, swallowed, and started again. Will your mom?

Joey gave what he hoped was an encouraging smile. Yeah, he said.

She’s always watching out for shrunken people.She’s sure to see us.

He wished he could believe that himself.

*****

The house was a sprawling ranch style, and the hallway was extremely

long. Three hours passed before they were by the sleeping Jackie’s

room, and then another half hour before they were near to reaching

Emily’s. The sun was coming up outside. They could see its morning

rays behind them in the living room. Joey wondered if Darren was

okay. He thought his friend was probably still catatonic on the

couch.He also wondered what they would do once they got his mom’s

attention. She had no power to restore them, but Jackie listened to

what her mother had to say. She worshipped their mother. That’s

what had gotten them into this in the first place. He felt a passing

stab of anger toward Mikey and Darren, but shrugged it off and

concentrated on the closed door looming before them.

They stopped in front of it, craning their necks back to stare up at

it. Sunlight crept from beneath it and poked around its edges, but

the door itself was a black monolith. It seemed somehow foreboding,

and Joey had to suppress a thought that forced its way into his head:

Abandon hope all ye who enter here.

They looked at each other, then at the crack under the door. It was

just high enough for them to crawl under.

Well. . . Joey began, but was cut off by a roaring sound that split

their heads. They clasped their ears in pain and doubled over,

screaming. The sound was cut off, suddenly, but left their ears

ringing.

Still clutching his arms about his head, Mikey looked questioningly

at him. It took a moment for Joey to come up with an answer.

Alarm clock, he said.

Behind the door, within the cavernous room, they heard the giant

stirrings of Emily, Joey’s mom.

The feeling of dread overcame Joey again, but he couldn’t quite

understand it.After a moment, he took a deep breath and moved

toward the door.

With a great rush of air, the door swung inward, scaring them with

its incredible speed. Instinctively, they looked up.

Emily not only towered above them, she loomed like a mountain,

mind-shatteringly huge and terrifying.She was barefoot, and about

her body hung a blue satin robe. From the tips of her toes to the

top of her head, she stretched on and on above them. Their necks

hurt with the effort to stare up at her.

She did not look down.

Joey only had time to scream a warning as his mother’s left foot

lifted into the air and swung over Mikey. Mikey stared in horror at

the dirty sole , making out in minute detail the gorgeous shape of

her foot , picking out the tiny specks of grime from everyday things

that had fallen beneath it, and then screamed as it crashed down upon

him, forcing him backward into the carpet.

His body sunk into the carpet fibers, the sole of the woman bearing

down on him with uncaring, unknowing force. He smelled it, the

pungent smell of unclean feet, the dirt, and the sweat. It was cool

to the touch, but behind it was the overwhelming heat, and all the

weight of her titanic body driving down, forcing his head to the

side. He tasted the dirt and grit, his tongue protruding from his

mouth as he was compressed. He felt his feet break and crush, his

legs shatter. The pain was immense. The air was forced from his

lungs and he could no longer scream. And all of it happened in the

instant it took Emily to place one step.

She did not halt as the tiny form crushed beneath her weight. Her

foot sank into the carpet, the body pulverized beneath the ball. She

carried through her step, swinging the other foot forward, and

continued down the hall. As her right foot rolled forward and rose

into the air, it left behind the utterly flattened remains of Mikey

buried deep within the carpet.

Joey fell to his knees, watching in disbelief as his titanic mother

thundered past him and down the hall. He looked back at the remains

of his friend, and vomited in a combination of disgust, fear, and

despair. He realized then how completely hopeless his situation was.

*****

Jackie raised shortly after her mother, still dressed in the tee

shirt, boxers, socks ensemble.She stretched lazily, pulled her

flowing black hair into a ponytail, and applied scrunchy. When she

left her room, she failed to notice the bloody mess in front of her

mom’s door or her tiny brother retching near it.

She entered the kitchen to find her mom making coffee.Hey, mom, she

said happily.

Morning, honey, her mom said, and kissed her daughter on the

forehead. Sleep well?

Yup, Jackie answered, taking a bowl from a cabinet and grabbing a box

of cereal. Good dreams.

Jackie filled the bowl with cereal, added milk, and left her mom to

her usual coffee breakfast. Returning to the living room, she went

around to the front of the couch. Grabbing the remote, she turned on

the TV. She was about to sit down when she noticed the tiny form of

Darren on the middle couch cushion.

She grinned broadly.

It’s still here, I see, she said evilly.

Darren, who had stared into nothing the entire night, oblivious to

the huge world around him, was broken from his stupor by her booming

voice.He looked first at the giant bare thighs before him, then his

eyes traveled up the expanse of Jackie’s torso and into her gleaming

eyes.

His mind snapped and he screamed in terror.

Jackie’s smile broadened at his puny squeaks. She raised her hand

and wiggled her fingers at him. Bye-bye, she said in a cute voice,

and turned around.

Darren stared up at her, still screaming, as she turned around, and

was looking at her boxer-clad backside. He watched as Jackie looked

over her shoulder, smiling, and winked at him, then began to sit

down.

He still had presence of mind enough to raise his arms in feeble

protection as her ass crushed into him with enough force to squash

him instantly into paste despite the deep cushion he lay upon.

Jackie leaned back with her bowl of cereal, feeling the tiny body

collapse beneath her right butt-cheek.She spooned cereal into her

mouth, smiled again, and muttered as she chewed.

Dude.

She giggled.

*****

Jackie finished the cereal just as Emily passed through the room on

her way back to the bedroom. She was going to get dressed for work.

Being on Christmas break, Jackie had no school, but she decided she

might as well get dressed herself.

On her way back to her own bedroom, her eyes fell upon Joey, who had

just successfully dodged the pounding feet of his mother. He lay on

his back staring up at her.

Buggy, she said. She truly did think of all those she shrunk as

things, or at most, insects. She didn’t recognize the tiny wriggling

creature as her brother anymore.

Joey screamed and pleaded as he watched his gigantic sister kneel

down over him.She reached for him, her hand looming above, and

clasped him between thumb and forefinger. The force of her grip

cracked some of his ribs and drove the air from his lungs. He could

only dangle from her grasp writhing in pain. His sister’s next words

would have torn screams from him had he air enough for them.

I’m putting you on the game board.

Jackie walked back toward the kitchen, swinging her arm carelessly at

her side, forcing Joey to vomit from the movement. Nearly insane

with fear, he could only stare up the length of his sister’s arm and

into her blissfully uncaring face.

Jackie walked to the center of the kitchen floor, bent over, and

dropped Joey onto it. Waving her hand above him, Joey found himself

shrinking even smaller. He was suddenly only half an inch tall.

Jackie stood to her full height, which was incomprehensible to her

tiny brother. She spoke, her words booming down on him.

The object of the game is to avoid getting stepped on by my mom. She

smiled. Of course, if you win, you get to be stepped on by me.

Joey’s blood ran like ice. He couldn’t believe this was happening.

All those years of watching it happen to other people but being too

afraid to do anything about it. Perhaps this was payback.

Jackie giggled, waved down at him, and then left the room.

Joey looked around him for some sort of cover, but the kitchen floor

stretched to infinity in all directions. Even if he ran, he wouldn’t

be able to reach a cabinet for several minutes. He knew his mother’s

routine, and she was very quick to get ready for work.She would be

returning very shortly.

Even as he thought about it, he heard the booming footsteps of her

approach. His stomach twisted into knots, and he grew very cold as

he looked up at the large doorway in the distance.

All too quickly she appeared. She was moving very fast, running late

for work. Her speed loosened Joey’s bladder, and unfelt warmth

spread down his pants leg. He tried to run, but his legs wouldn’t

move. In the effort to lift one foot, he simply collapsed in fear

onto his back.

His mother, dressed in a navy business suit, cream hose, and who was

still barefoot, thundered into the room. She seemed even taller than

when he was in her bedroom doorway. She approached him at a quick

pace, covering the distance between him and the door in an instant.

He braced himself for the crushing weight of her foot, but she

stopped within inches of him.

She was looking down. She was looking at him!

Joey dared to hope that she recognized him. His mother’s face was a

mask of interest, and then. . . annoyance.

Joey cried.

Emily quickly stepped on her son, squashing him beneath her sole

carelessly as she walked forward to get more coffee. She muttered

under her breath about not having time to deal with her daughter’s

toys, barely noticing the crunch as she stepped down again.

Jackie, she called as she poured the coffee. Get in here and clean

this up. I stepped on one of your toys, again. There was the

familiar giggle from the doorway. Emily rolled her eyes. She sipped

the coffee and walked toward the living room, a slight crunch heard

on every other step. She stopped in the doorway, turning to look at

her daughter.

And when your brother and his friends wake up, she said, tell them I

want them to find a hotel for the rest of the Christmas break.

Jackie smiled. Okay mom.

*****

Sheila shook her head.This is a highly delusional girl, she said to

herself. She even told me the story from her brother’s point of view

after she says she shrunk him.

Sighing, she opened a new document and began typing her notes from

the day’s session into it.

To be continued.

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