If you’re out there right now, reading this and listening to my voice, then you have synesthesia. That’s the least of my worries right now. I am still only four inches. I’m a grower, not a show-er, I swear.
At least I’m not in custody. Leah hasn’t turned me over, but there’s been a fine line involved. Arguments. Things have been thrown, insults hurled, and shoulders dislocated. In order: a pen, bitch, and mine. When you’re this size, a Bic is like a pilum. Pilum? I darn near killed ’em! Feel free to open your own can of laughter for that one.
Luckily, Venus was willing to help me with my shoulder’s painful condition by painfully helping relocate it to its proper location.
The problem that emerged is that Venus really wanted to go to her friends. Seeing as she’s a hero while Leah and I are criminals, that meant she had the law on her side. This meant that any scenario where we didn’t let her go to them counted as kidnapping. Also, I was clearly planning to commit lots of crimes in retaliation. If Leah went with me, she’d be an accessory, which I also took issue with. She was a young woman, not an object. I couldn’t throw her over my shoulder and use her like a purse. Ok, so I could, but most people would have considered it wrong.
“Either I let you and Leah go, or Leah doesn’t get her probation. Instead, she gets everything I do heaped on her. I should just kill you.”
Venus stared at me from where she sat on the motel table, her serious expression turning to a smirk, “Try it again why don’t you? It’s a fair fight now. That’s twice I’ve beaten you when you couldn’t try something.”
“So that’s it? You beat me up and you threaten Leah, so you get your way? Some way to pay me back for my hospitality in providing the money for these lovely accommodations.” My accounts were still good, though it took a little trickery to grab some cash from an ATM since my card was really tiny now. Imagine a credit card shrunk down to be proportionally sized to a four inch man.
“If I have to smack you around in order to lock you up and keep her out of harm’s way, I will. I’ll drag you kicking and screaming all the way to a lonely cell so that maybe one day you’ll realize how wrong you were and have a shot at being a decent person someday.”
“Big words for someone who can’t even reach the phone,” I taunted her. Motel rooms aren’t all that big, it’s true. At four inches tall, if Venus’s guesstimate was correct, the journey down a table, across the room, up the bed, and over to the nightstand became a bit more daunting, especially with the prospect of me following to sabotage her efforts.
That was still better than either of our prospects for using the toilet.
“If I can’t reach the phone, what makes you think you can fight Amplitude?”
“I constantly surprise people with what I can do.”
“Think about someone else for once. You can’t impress the jailbait if she’s dead.”
“Jealous? Don’t be. I find all of you humans too squishy. You don’t smell right, and you’re so physically limited.”
“Not too limited to put you on your ass.”
“Too limited to maintain internet access and phone capability constantly, if you wanted.”
It has been like that the past few days, with the two of us sniping at each other. The smell probably wasn’t helping things either. We had managed a little bathing, but neither of us had any spare clothing to match our new size. Making things slightly humiliating for me, the story had made it to the news. Once again, I was really alive. Once again, I had now died. On top of that, Leah had decided that she was less conspicuous without us perched on her shoulders or hiding in her pockets, so she started leaving us behind. The trips always took longer that way too, for some reason.
So, yeah…things could have been better.
Much as I didn’t like it, I had to ease up on Venus.
“Listen…Venus. I am thinking of some other people here. I had friends there. Yeah, friends. People I have let myself care about. Do you know how much I hate that? This whole thing happened because of me, and I’m the one loose. See, I don’t know if they can handle it. I know I can. Or if I can’t, at least there won’t be any loved ones left behind to mourn me. Pretty good explanation for a lot of things I’ve been sent into. Either way, I’d rather be in there instead of them.”
“That almost sounds like guilt, Gecko.”
“Not until proven in a court of law, Venus.”
When Leah got back, she came bearing food and clothing. The food was McDonald’s. The clothing came from a toy store.
“Great,” I said, while holding a tiny Hawaiian shirt up to my chest “I really am a Ken doll now.” I turned from the inside of the plastic bag to show it off to Leah.
Leah took a break from chomping on her burger to inform me otherwise. “No, you’re a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle. Ken was too big for you.”
“All I need now is to bathe in some toxic waste from a canister and I should be back to my old self in no time.”
From behind me, digging through the clothes, Venus quipped, “Or have a moon witch throw her staff down and yell ‘Make my monster grow!’”
I went back to looking, then stumbled across an outfit I had requested. “Ooh, hey, you found what I asked for! A tiny devil costume!” I held up the little red long johns, plastic pitchfork, and hood with horns on it.
Venus facepalmed, then bent down slowly and pulled up a white robe with wings on it that had a pipe cleaner sticking up from the back and forming a halo over where the wearer’s head would be. She looked back at Leah.
Leah smiled sheepishly, “I thought it would be funny too.”
With the McDonald’s bag serving as a divider, Venus and I changed clothes. Then it was time to chow down. Leah had her own burger, while Venus and I shared a small one and a fry. If we only had a quarter of that thing, we’d still have had more than enough.
“Reminds me of some fantasies I used to have as a kid. Living in a world of food,” I said as I pulled off a greasy chunk of hamburger and cheese.
“At least it’s cheap to feed you two now. You’re like little toy supers. ” Leah took a swig of her drink as she watched them.
“It’s good that we even can eat,” I said.
“You said something like that before. About surviving while you’re that little?”
Venus clarified what that meant. “The human body works best at its appropriate size, otherwise there are problems. Our lungs shouldn’t be able to handle gas molecules that we need to breathe because our respiratory systems would now be too small relative to the size of the molecules. We would have trouble with food, too. That’s what we meant. Amplitude’s power must cause himself and those he affects to be capable of living at their new size. His muscles wouldn’t be strong enough to move himself as big as he was, and he’d have the same breathing problem. His bones could only handle so much weight too.”
“Wow, he can just shrink you in a way that doesn’t kill you?”
“Apparently. I guess you can add violating the laws of physics to his rap sheet,” I said, then crawled over to drink from the plastic spoon Leah had poured some Coke into.
“How does that even work?”
Venus took this one again while I was busy lapping up my puddle of drink. “Don’t know. Even when people have similar powers, a lot of what they can do is still unique to the individual in some way. The truth is hard to distinguish, too. Some people lie to appear more powerful while others can actually do things like this that don’t make a lot of sense. How did you get your powers?”
I stood up then and grabbed another chunk of meat. “I’m probably going to need the bathroom, so I’m going to start that way. Y’all keep on without me, ok?”
Venus waved me off. I turned and ran at the edge of the table, hitting the back of the chair, then falling onto the wood seat. My lower mass had some advantages at least. I was unharmed by such a fall that would be a lot harder to handle if I was bigger and plunging a relatively similar distance. I made it from the chair to the floor just as easily and went on my way toward the bathroom, which was right by the front door.
When it looked like Venus was too caught up in the conversation, I tossed the burger aside and ran for the door. It was a tight fit, but I made it under the door and ran down the hallway. I didn’t make it all the way to the elevators before I needed to stop and catch my breath. The most notable point of that walk was me scaring some guy with red eyes and mussed up dreadlocks who opened the door to find a little man walking the hall. I rewarded him with the devil horns hand sign. Without saying a word, the man took his self-rolled cigarette and closed his door.
I faced somewhat of a problem at the elevator, though. I had to sit there a few minutes before I got lucky and a maid came up. I slipped into the elevator while she pushed her cart out and tried to call for her attention. Not sure if you’ve noticed, readers, but elevator buttons are fairly high up off the ground.
My plan was simple. I waited out of sight for the next person to get in the elevator. In this case, it was a woman and her little girl. Once they were on, I presented myself to them. “Excuse me. Yeah, down here. Now, don’t scream. Just listen to what I have to say. Then scream.”
They were nice, and did as they were told, letting me off on the first floor, with the mom calling for help, a doctor, a psychiatrist, something. The girl just thought I was a really neat toy. Let’s face it, even in a world of superheroes, there’s not usually any reason to expect you’ll see a tiny person running around that day.
I thought I was going to have a problem getting out the lobby doors, but this achondroplastic fellow hobbled in as I was going out and held the doors for me. I shot him the finger guns. “Thanks, man. Us little people got to stick together, am I right?”
He raised his fist and said, “Right on.”
I headed for my car, but my good luck from earlier was balanced out with some bad luck, as I was confronted by a pissed-off looking man taking a Chihuahua for a walk on a pink leash. The shitty little excuse for a wolfspawn growled at me, then snapped. I punched it right in the nose, but whatever violation of physics was at work didn’t make me as strong as some little creature would be for my size. Or maybe it did. I’ll admit, I know more about applying the square-cube law to giant things, like robots, than I do to small things, like shrunken humanoids. I can’t tell if this is consistent or inconsistent for Amplitude, or even if it matters. Bottom line: I don’t see mice running around punching holes in things, so I guess I can’t either.
Fucking mice. This is all their tiny little fault!
The Chihuahua was put off by the attack, but came after me again. I rolled under its mouth and grabbed its collar. While it chased its tail looking for me, I scrambled up onto its neck and began smacking it futilely in the skull. “That’s why little dogs are so badly behaved! Nobody bitchslaps you like they do the bigger dogs when you do something wrong!” I yelled as I hit the deformed inbred mutant known as the Chihuahua. The hills have eyes…and so do the tiny dogs.
From above, I heard a bored and unconvincing voice call for help quietly, “No. Please. Stop. Don’t hurt my girlfriend’s annoying dog. Anything but that.”
“There you are! We’ve been looking for you for an hour!” somebody else shouted. I was just about to shove my tiny little shoes up the dog’s ears when I was grabbed from above and lifted up by Leah. She placed me on her shoulder along with Venus, who had her mask off. It was odd seeing her like that. She had a contemplative look on her face as well, as if she might be something other than furious at me.
While Leah was busy trying to apologize to the man, Venus scooted close to talk. “You ran off.”
“That would seem to be the case.”
“You think you can do everything on your own at this size?”
“It looked like the best way to handle it without getting another friend in trouble. I can’t let you do that to her.”
“Psycho Gecko actually cares about some people. Maybe, and I stress this is a maybe that’s contingent on you not being a complete ass, maybe you and I can work something out after all. Work with my team from a little bit of distance.”
“Does this mean you’re beginning to see me as something close to human?” I said and leaned over. Rather than give her an obnoxious smile, I raised my eyebrows twice in succession.
She rolled her eyes and tossed something in my lap. “After all you’ve done, not nearly, but I just can’t sink to your level and hurt your friends so easily. Just don’t make me regret this.”
I slipped on the hood with the horns. “Why Venus, there’s nothing I’d rather do than fill you with a night’s worth of regrets.”
“Easy, horn dog.”
“Wow. The hood and now a punny joke. You were way too prepared for me to do this, you know?”
“Just trying to be ready for any surprise you could throw my way. Figured if we fought, I could pull that down over your eyes. We both know I didn’t need to bring the angel costume the way you act.”
“Not for me to wear, true, but you’re forgetting the most important question of all: Did it hurt when you fell from heaven?”
Good news, everyone. I can survive being kicked from a teen girl’s shoulder relatively unscathed as well!