It had been a great surprise when I got that email reminding me of the ancient Chinese history final I was supposed to take, considering I thought I dropped that class before the semester even started. There was nothing to be done for it though, and I had definitely tried. Apparently if I didn’t at least sit the exam I would be put on academic probation, and then I could kiss a summer abroad goodbye. I could recover from the GPA hit I would take from absolutely bombing this.
After a few minutes and consulting the map I found the room easily enough, and saw that maybe I shouldn’t have dropped it after all. The class was full of women, and not one of them too bad looking. Even the TA was easy on the eyes. For now though I pushed that out of my mind and staked out an unoccupied seat near the middle, hoping I could blend in and no one would notice how absolutely overwhelmed I was.
Quickly I got set up with my blue book, bubble sheet, and pencils ready to go. I threw a quick smile toward a dark-eyed brunette with curly hair to my left, but she only rolled her eyes in response. Apparently she was having none of what I thought of as charm. Lastly I silenced my phone: just because I had no chance at this didn’t mean I should disrupt the people who had actually sat through the class.
The tall, willowy TA – Liz, was how she signed her email - walked up and down the aisles, distributing the test booklets to each student. She paused at my desk and adjusted her glasses, trying to remember if she had seen me in here before, and likely concluded that she hadn’t. Then she continued, her curly blond hair bouncing with each step.
When she gave the word to begin the air filled with the sound of seals being broken, then silence reigned supreme. At the first question it was blatantly obvious that even if I had shown up I would have trouble here. I filled in a random bubble, hoping to get at least a quarter of them right. Statistically I had to, didn’t I? Briefly I scanned the rest of the first page and saw that it only got worse, and some of the questions even had Mandarin integrated into the text.
The first page of my academic career’s murder went by quicker than expected, no doubt helped by me defaulting to B for every answer. When I turned the page though something seemed off. I missed the first grab for the sheet’s corner and hit the desk, which seemed a good deal higher than when I had sat down. Probably my nervous brain playing tricks on me, I told myself, and pushed forward with it, continuing to darken the letter B in every row after confirming I had no idea what any of the answers or the question itself meant.
Upon completing the second page it was apparent that whatever issue I was having it was only getting worse. I was eye level with the top of the desk, and the onset of my despair hadn’t caused me to slouch quite that badly. In fact I was sitting up straighter than ever, and still had to reach up to grab the booklet. I took a quick sidelong glance to my left and saw the same curly-haired brunette frantically scribbling away, except now she was over a head taller than me. Scratch that, we’re both sitting – I probably come up to her waist, at best.
Still not wanting to disrupt the other testers I pressed on, not even bothering to read the test booklet anymore. Partway through the page I lost sight of the test and answer sheet and had to stand, gripping the pencil with my entire hand instead of pinching it. Each bubble took longer now too, and if I wanted to finish it before time was up reading the material, which would have no impact on my answer anyway, would only hold me up.
This was clearly not getting any better, and I needed to see if I could be dismissed. Carefully I sat back down on the hard plastic chair and pushed myself off to the side, where I landed on the tile after a brief fall. I walked up the aisle toward Liz, and the occasional glance to the side showed that I was at most knee-height to these women. When I got to the TA’s desk I tapped on the front and waited for her to acknowledge me.
A few seconds later she peered over the top and fiddled with her glasses again. “Can I help you?” she asked in a neutral tone.
“Yeah, I’ve shrunk like three feet since the test started,” I began, as if that weren’t self-evident. “Can I be excused to go see someone who can fix this?” I had no idea who I would talk to about this. Probably I would start with the dean to see if these extraordinary circumstances might change his mind, and then a wizard of some sort.
Liz sighed before answering. “I’m sorry you feel unprepared for the exam, but I can’t let you leave simply because you’re having difficulties. I suggest you go finish it and re-enroll next year so that you can have another shot. If you need additional accommodations you should have had the disability office work with the department, but as it is please return to your desk.”
Incredible. Here I was, shrinking in the middle of an exam, and no one was willing to help me! I slumped my shoulders and turned around, then walked up the aisle. None of the other students noticed I was no taller than their knees. Either that or they didn’t care. Back at my desk I saw that my neighbor wore a pair of brown riding boots, each coming up to my chin. For a moment I considered getting her attention, then thought better of it. If I disturbed her, the solid-looking toe of her boot could quite easily crush my ribcage.
With a shrug I raised my arms to the seat of the chair, and found my reach came up a little short. To compensate I jumped and slapped at the plastic with my hand, getting a solid enough hold that I could dangle from it. I kicked at the basket below the chair to push myself up, and with a bit of effort I pulled myself back into my chair.
Seeing the desk top at all now required me to stand on my toes, so I carefully grabbed my materials with both hands and began dragging them toward me. For a few sheets of paper they were incredibly heavy, and were the desks not so well polished I imagine I wouldn’t have been able to move them at all. With a crash the papers fell into my seat, and the two people beside me turned to glare. Though they clearly saw me, neither of them said anything about me obviously having shrunk.
Turning this page took more effort than before; I had to use two hands just to control it. My pencil was also becoming unwieldy, and I had to use my free hand to keep the top from sliding around too badly. Still I did my best to fill in a B on every single row of the answer sheet, despite the pencil’s increasing weight and difficulty in controlling it. At some point during this, I couldn’t tell exactly, the pencil became taller than me.
To make things easier I broke off the pencil’s lead, holding it like a large rock in my graphite-stained hand. I walked onto the bubble sheet, doing my best to fill in one on each row despite the circles growing wider each time I colored one in. Soon enough I had to hold the chunk of graphite in both hands, and my arms were becoming noticeably fatigued by the effort.
By now I had long given up on actually reading the questions, focusing instead on getting through as many of the answers as possible. The chunk of graphite became too large for even two hands so I dropped it and began pushing it along. In a few minutes this also became too difficult when I shrank smaller than the broken-off pencil tip, and I decided to take a break.
The woman to my right finished and slammed her booklet shut before standing. From the chair alone it must have been a thousand feet to the top of her head. Her blue eyes passed over me, but she showed no indication she spotted me, nor any concern for what happened. She strode up the length of the aisle, wordlessly handed her test materials in, and walked out the door.
As though they had coordinated it the brunette on my other side finished right after, swinging the cover of her test book shut. A strong gust of wind blew over from her desk, pushing me back and making the bit of graphite roll around. The heavy heels of her boots thudded against the floor with a tremendous racket, and to my dismay the tiny pencil tip grew until it dwarfed me.
The previously negligible piece of pencil lead had become too massive for me to possibly move, so I simply sat down in the middle of one of the Bs while time counted down. People finished every now and then, and when they walked by the light breeze generated by their passing would buffet me a little more forcefully each time. Every passing moved the pencil lead too, and by the time everyone behind me had finished the graphite itself was nearly a mountain.
Time continued to plod along toward the three-hour limit, and I had no hope of finishing any more of this exam. An alarm went off, and seconds later Liz appeared beside my desk. I couldn’t even contemplate how tall she was compared to me, but it had to be at least a dozen miles. She reached down and grabbed my test materials with one hand and lifted them from the seat, a feat that had been impossible for me for some time.
“Hey, I’m not done!” I protested while sliding down the page. “I can still finish! Come on, can’t you see that I’m here?” If she saw or heard me she didn’t care. Liz bundled up my papers, shaking her head sadly at my half-completed test, and walked back to her desk then out the door.
I was alone in the room, stranded on the desk with no sign anyone was here. I checked my phone – still on and functioning, but would anyone seriously believe what had happened? Sadly I shook my head and slid it back into my pocket, then began trudging toward the edge of the seat. It might take all day to reach it, so it would be best to start now.
The door swung open and someone entered, immediately grabbing my attention. A pair of green and gray running shoes pounded on the floor, and some black yoga pants covered what looked to be a set of very fit legs. She came closer, her breasts bouncing under a tank top large enough to block out the sun, a pair of mirrored aviators hiding her eyes. Her auburn hair was pulled back in a ponytail, and she was sipping the last bits of an iced coffee.
To my disappointment she started walking up the row I was on, and even worse she stopped at my desk. She dropped her purse on the floor with a monumental crash, shaking the desk hard enough from a light brush I toppled over. Once she set her test materials and drink on the desk she turned around, and I saw her tight, round butt perfectly outlined by her yoga pants. Then I realized that was going to be coming down on top of me quite soon.
“Hey, this desk’s occupied!” I yelled at a pair of ears miles above me. There was no way this mountain of a woman would ever hear me, but I had to try. “Someone’s already here, you can’t have it! Hey! Stop! Please!” Nothing.
Her enormous butt descended toward me, quickly blotting out anything that wasn’t covered in black spandex. I tried to run, but her shadow fell over me all the same. Each tiny contour in the fabric was blindingly obvious to me, stretched around this perfect ass as it was. Almost as soon as it started falling, millions of tons of woman landed on me, and her ass immediately crushed me flat. I was nothing more than a tiny red dot on her butt, if that much, as she ground it against the chair.