Consciousness slowly returned to me and my eyelids fluttered open. I had no idea where I was, how I had gotten there, or how long I had been out. It was dark outside, I knew that much, with no light getting through the closed blinds over the windows. A small amount of light from some unseen source maybe half a mile away filtered over to me, but that was hardly anything to go by. There were no clocks I could see, and with a quick pat on my pocket I discovered my phone was missing, along with my keys and wallet.
The last thing I remembered before passing out was no help either; it might as well have been a bad dream. I had answered an ad for experiment subjects, offering $600 for a few nights. Easy money. Next thing I knew I was standing in a line with a half-dozen other desperate students, a tall, pale woman, skinny as a rail, pointing a strange-looking gun at me. When she fired it, white light engulfed the line-up, and she began to grow taller. Quickly enough I figured out that her experiment hadn’t been bunk, and we were all really shrinking.
With that recollection, I was able to better understand my surroundings. The huge, four-legged metal structure in front of me was a stool, not a water tower, and the cold, hard ground must have been the lab’s tile. I looked to my right where three people had previously been and saw only empty space: they must have woken up before me. To my left was a red stain, roughly circular, with bits of tattered clothes in it, just a few inches from me. That person wouldn’t be waking up at all.
A repetitive tapping that sounded like something large banging against metal began coming from the direction of the sparse light, and I decided to see what it was. If nothing else it would give me some way to pass the time. My joints popped as I forced myself to stand. Everything was sore from lying on hard tile for at least half the day, and my head felt like a spike had been driven through my skull. I stretched my arms and legs, limbering up my muscles for the journey ahead, and shook my head in an effort to clear the sharp pain. It dulled but did not disappear, the best I could hope for right now.
I crept from behind the lab table into the walkway, now a broad boulevard hundreds of feet across. A titanic figure sat atop a stool several tables away, her face bathed in blue light from the monitor with a lamp’s yellow light splashing over her chest. Straight, raven black hair obscured most of her face from me, but I remembered her being fairly pretty. Her white button-up shirt was brightly lit by the lamp, and her brown corduroy skirt was rumpled around her thighs. Black stockings clung tight to her long, slender legs, with dark blue and silver kitten-heeled shoes incessantly tapping on a stool’s leg.
That must be the woman conducting this experiment. After a moment racking my brain I remembered a few more details about her. Lana was her name, and she seemed fairly pleasant for the brief time we had met. Nothing to indicate that she would have intentionally smashed that person next to me, at least. Regardless, if she was still here the obvious course of action was to get her attention: I was still part of the experiment, and I didn’t want to be tiny and isolated on the ground the next time people rushed into here for a class.
She sat a long way away and I wanted to save my energy for getting Lana’s attention, so I started down the corridor at a leisurely place. Lana appeared engrossed with her work, so there was no need to hurry. I moved carefully, hopping over cracks between tiles so that I wouldn’t risk twisting my ankle. The floor was clean and clear of debris – it must have been swept recently, much to my fortune.
The air grew quiet, no longer filled with the steady tap of Lana’s shoe against her stool. Instead the gigantic fidgeter was sliding the heel of a shoe off her foot, allowing it to dangle for a moment, then sliding it back over her heel, all using only the toes of that foot. Intermittent typing replaced the taps, her long fingers pressing down the keys with a resonating clack.
In fifteen minutes I had crossed the distance to her, and now stood at the base of her stool. The slender titaness paid no mind to my arrival, merely continuing to slip the shoe on and off her heel while focused on her screen. “Hey, Lana, down here!” I shouted, cupping my hands around my mouth. “On the floor! I’m part of your experiment! Hey! Lana!” Her shoe slid off again, bounced a little on her toes, then slipped back over her foot. Nothing.
I drew a deep breath before shouting up at her again, but decided against it. Lana turned her head to pick up her drink on the table, and I saw thin cords running from the computer into her ears. Earbuds. No way would she hear my tiny voice over that, even if she were just listening to static. How tiny was I, anyway? The stool’s feet came up to about my waist, and the toe of Lana’s shoes was probably taller than me. About an inch, I guessed, give or take a few millimeters.
Since she’d never be able to hear me, I decided that she would need to see me. I scanned the table’s side for a phone cord and discovered that they had been removed some time in the last few years, a casualty of the proliferation of cell phones. My eyes lighted on the next best option, running up from a metal tower beneath the desk, giving off bright yellow light from a series of LEDs inside it.
Quicker than before I left the stool to go under the table and around to the back of the computer. Not a moment too soon, either, since the instant I was gone Lana’s foot slammed against the tile, generating a small earthquake and a loud crack. I jumped and looked back, worried that it was a case of mistaken identity and she thought I was a bug. To my relief I saw her still focused on her screen, one leg curled up under her while the other rested on the ground.
Soon enough I stood behind the computer tower, looking up to the monitor cable several dozen feet above me. I grabbed onto the wire grating at the bottom and pulled myself up, then instantly regretted it. A powerful gust of hot wind nearly blew me across the room, the gentle whir of a plastic fan making thousands of revolutions per minute now a cacophonic din. I gritted my teeth and slid toward the side, struggling my hardest to overcome the gale-force winds causing my clothes to billow out and my skin to ripple.
After several minutes of clinging for my life I cleared the fan’s output and reached the calm side of the power supply. The gentle hum of electricity was drowned out by the clatter of fans rotating inside, and I hurriedly climbed the metal bars. I had to limit contact with each handhold due to the extreme heat on each rung and in no time at all I stood clear, triumphant atop a small ledge.
A thick, black cord rested against the edge of my base camp, and my eyes followed it to the monitor port. Perfect. I wrapped my arms around it and slid down until it came to the nadir of its curve. Dust scattered everywhere I touched here: they were much less meticulous about cleaning behind the computers than they were the floor. I waited for the cloud to settle, glad that my nose was too small for any of the dust particles to make their way in and cause me to sneeze.
When I judged it seemed settled enough I began to shimmy my way up the cord, making slow but steady progress toward the desk’s top. A tremendous roar erupted from the other side, and I clung to the rubber insulation in startled fear. The racket was followed by a series of sniffles and gasps from the same source. The dust may be too large to make me sneeze, but Lana had no such defense.
Fortunately for me there were no more interruptions, and soon enough I stood atop the desk. All of my muscles ached from the intensity of the climb, but now came the easy part: I just had to get noticed. The monitor stand blocked my view of Lana, but I saw her elbow firmly planted to my right side, a stream of black hair running halfway down her forearm while she rested her chin in her palm. On my left, I saw a paper coffee cup, still halfway full, with mocha brown liquid splashed on the plastic top. Just like I thought, this would be child’s play.
I dashed from behind the monitor and ran toward the cup, jumping over a mouse cord on the way. The quick sprint got me there in seconds, and I pressed my back against the cardboard cylinder. Lukewarm coffee inside warmed my back while I waited, and the gigantic scientist typing away, still oblivious to my presence.
Lana’s hand swooped toward her coffee and I sprang into action, jumping and waving my arms while screaming her name. Her hand grasped the cup and she lifted it from the desk, bulldozing me out of its way. She took a sip and began to put it back, the white circle of its base coming right toward me. The cup rapidly loomed larger, and at the last moment I dove forward and narrowly missed being smashed by the coffee cup. At no point did Lana notice me, or even glance in my direction: her eyes remained glued to the screen.
Hanging out by her drink was riskier than I had expected, and I quickly formulated another plan. I pushed off the mug and ran for her keyboard at full tilt. My feet pounded against the wooden surface, and during my approach the awe of Lana’s enormous presence began to dawn on me. It was such a powerful force that I narrowly avoided being crushed yet again, sliding under her wrist just before she set it down on the desk.
I stood in the center of her keyboard and did the same routine, jumping up and down while waving my arms. “Hey Lana, down here!” I shouted on the off chance she could hear me now. “Please, notice me! Just glance down, please! You shrank me and I need your help!” Still nothing. Despite my intense series of jerking motions her eyes remained glued to the screen.
It was time for drastic action. I turned around and swung a leg over the base of the keyboard, then pulled myself up onto it. Steeling myself against the thought of being crushed by her fingers I jumped forward and planted my feet firmly on the space bar. “Lana! Down! Here! Please! Just! Notice! Me!” I shouted, jumping on the long, narrow key with each syllable.
Lana’s pale hands stopped typing and I relaxed; it had worked. Unfortunately she gripped either side of the keyboard with a hand and turned it horizontally, dumping me back onto the wood surface. I slid toward the precipice while tiny bits of food poured out from between the keys, crumbs raining down on and around me. “Lousy crumbs,” she muttered, her voice a low boom compared to the smooth, velvet tone she’d had earlier.
My last attempt would have to be physical contact, no matter how risky. I peered over the edge and saw that her legs were crossed, slipping a shoe on and off her heel again. Not too bad to land on, I surmised, and I could grab onto her stockings if I found myself sliding. After a few deep breaths to calm myself I walked back to the keyboard and sprinted at her, getting a running start before I leaped for her legs.
I dropped rapidly, arms flailing at the open air while my legs pumped uselessly at the air in freefall. Luckily I landed just beyond her kneecap and bent my knees, allowing myself to roll down her thigh’s gentle slope to disperse the fall’s force. Desperately I grabbed for a hold of her stockings, nylon slipping through my fingers multiple times. Mere inches from the bunched-up corduroy I managed to get a handful and bring my tumbling to a stop.
Now that I was standing on Lana she seemed even more tremendous. The thigh I stood on was the width of a city street, despite looking almost sickly to me earlier. Her hair’s straight, gentle strands appeared more like a curtain of thick cords now, each one a rope I could climb up to her scalp. Lana’s whole upper body must have been hundreds of feet tall, and I stood trembling beneath it while it was lit up like a showcase. Even her chest, which I previously thought was rather flat, boasted breasts large enough to smother me.
I may have been in awe of Lana, but she paid me no mind. With time running out I scrambled to my feet and began jumping up and down on her thigh, the taut skin and elasticity of her stocking softening my impact each time I landed. Despite that and my now-incoherent yelling she made no move to pick me up, no sound of shocked surprise, not even a glance down at me. Knowing this was my last chance I looked at the hem of her skirt only a few inches away from me and began walking forward.
Skin slapping against skin cracked behind me, and I spun to see Lana’s long, slender fingers pressed flat on her thigh. I wobbled from the impact and her fingers arched, nails digging into her pale skin. Her fingernails began scything back and forth, scratching at an itch that could only have been me. Before I regained my balance her fingers surged forward and bumped into me, sending me reeling backward and off her thigh.
My freefall was brief, and I bumped into her slim calf on the way down. Unable to grab hold of anything I slid down the length of her leg, tumbling over her Achilles tendon before I ramped off her heel. Instead of being dashed on the floor like I expected, I landed on a firm but pliable leather surface, significantly warmer than room temperature. The smell of feet was everywhere, and in the dim light I was able to make out a few letters as tall as me written along the length of the floor. G U C-
That was a designer’s name. I had fallen inside Lana’s shoe dangling from her foot.
As if on cue she began raising the shoe up to slide it back on her heel. Lana’s stockinged foot filled my vision and blocked out every ray of light that was pouring into the shoe, plunging me into darkness. The floor dropped from under me, and I plummeted with the back of her shoe until it was caught by her toes. Her shoe bounced and sprung me up with it, dropping me like a sack when I landed back on her insole.
Idly Lana circled the shoe around, turning me every which way with its movements until I was prone on the bottom of her sole. She began lifting it up again, bringing me toward her implacable heel looming over me just outside her shoe. Darkness reigned, and the sound of leather creaking resonated through the designer coffin I was trapped in. I felt nylon on my face and Lana kept pressing her shoe on, mashing me between it and her heel.
The shoe dropped to dangle off her toes again, and I grabbed onto her stockings with both hands while hooking my feet into the mesh. In the short window I had I tried to scramble off her heel, hoping to make it at least to the back so that I could avoid being crushed. Unfortunately, Lana slid her shoe back on quickly, smushing me between leather and nylon, her heel beyond.
Pressure from her shoe relented but light did not return, and her shoe was pressing me into her foot again almost immediately. Leather creaked while it flexed around her narrow foot, and my grunts of pain were muffled by Lana’s all-encompassing heel. Several times her shoe slightly slipped off only to return right after, mushing me incessantly beneath her heel. There was no reprieve, no relent, and no hope. As though to drive the point hope Lana’s shoe slid on further this time, far enough to bring my ribs to the brink of cracking, before she eased once again, allowing me to get a few panicked breaths in between her crushing sessions.
Unable to muster the strength to hold on any longer I released my grasp on her stockings and fell back into her shoe. She let it dangle a bit longer, circling it in the air with the expert control of her toes. Every few seconds she popped it back up, bringing it to an abrupt stop when the top of the shoe’s back collided with her heel so that it pitched me into the air. Each time I collided with her heel before falling back into the shoe so that I could roll back down the slope and splay out beneath her heel.
This went on for several agonizing minutes, my body getting more bruised each time I bounced off her heel and thrown back into her shoe. While I pathetically moaned after one onslaught her shoe raced up again, throwing me against her heel, but this time I did not drop. Lana’s insole caught me immediately and drove me further under her heel. She wiggled her toes, forcing her foot further into the shoe, and leather creaked again from the strain. I grimaced while pain wracked my body, and the sound of leather screaming to form around Lana’s foot drowned out my own bones’ creaking.
Lana twitched her toes one more time to slide the shoe on and a wave of agony spread through me, my body giving way beneath Lana’s heel. While the red stain of my body spread under her foot she unhooked her legs and slammed it onto the ground, pulverizing me further. For good measure she stomped her foot onto the ground several times, trying to get it to fit better, unknowingly grinding me into an unrecognizable smear. Lana only knew there was something in her shoe, and she was determined to flatten it.