John Harkon was used to looking up, and not just because he was an optimist. Ever since he’d shrunk to two inches tall in his senior year of high school, it was basically the default worldview. He’d been found and captured by a freshman girl named Allie who kept him as a pet, though eventually their relationship softened and grew into something like friends. Now, he was twenty-four-years-old and the world’s only expert at navigating everyday objects from two inches tall, not that anyone recognized him for the feat, but that was also because for his own safety, he and Allie and squirrelled him away, so that he had little to no contact with the outside world. That all changed when Allie wanted to take John to see his old high school chemistry partner, Kris, who they thought might be able to help unshrink him.
“Oh my god,” Kris said, looking at the nude form of John in Allie’s palm. He’d changed in the last six years. The lack of a good barber or razors meant for small people meant that his hair had grown long but was tied up into a kind of loose bun on the back of his head while a long beard stood out on his chin. But more than that, he had a carved physique, basically a requirement for survival when you could be crushed by an errant footstep. His body always had the tendency to bounce back from otherwise life-ending injuries, like having his leg crushed under a backpack or even ending up in Allie’s shoe while she walked around the mall, but he would rather avoid the painful healing process if at all possible. In short, John looked like what an artist might draw as the state of man in nature, not only surviving but thriving.
“You’re telling us that’s John?” Kris’s girlfriend and old high school best friend, Morgan, said. “I guess I kinda see it, but how did he get so small?”
“Shh.” Kris had closed her eyes, and she was drumming her fingers on the table.
Morgan gave a whispered explanation, “She never forgets anything, or almost. She can be bad about anniversaries and birthdays. She’s probably just trying to remember something about John. She might be like this for a minute or two.”
“August to November 2019, page 35 with 36 on the reverse. I wrote in the bottom right hand corner of page 36 ‘John H.’ You did the experiment according to the things laid out on page 36, right?” Kris asked, looking down at John. No wonder she was always so spacy in high school. If Kris could remember anything on the spot, she’d probably get lost in her own head enough.
“I mean, I did an experiment,” John said. “I don’t know if it was the one on 36 or 35.” John took of a necklace that was a sort of notebook, a bundle of paper scraps that Allie had given him a long time ago to write down what he remembered of his old life and his new life, too. “You said, ‘Not even John could mess this up.’”
“Well, I thought you couldn’t!” Kris said. “What was on page 35?” She went into her memory retrieval state again, though even with her eyes closed, John still felt like Kris was scanning him, trying to get a read on what had happened to him.
“Dammit, I can barely remember it. You don’t still have that paper, do you?” Kris asked. “Of course, you don’t. You probably threw it away as soon as you thought you were done with the experiment.”
“She doesn’t mean to be rude,” Morgan whispered as Kris went back to try and get whatever scraps of the page she could remember. “It’s just she doesn’t like problems she can’t easily solve.”
“Sorry to be such a nuisance,” John said, under his breath. When John said things under his breath, they went unheard, but it made him feel better for saying it. Voicing his true feelings around giants other than Allie was more than he was willing to risk at the moment. Allie was kind enough not to hit him when he ended up sticking his foot in his mouth, but he didn’t know about Morgan or Kris. He was going to play it safe.
Kris opened her eyes again. “I vaguely remember the ingredients. But in order to actually do anything, I’ll need to get more data. Allie, could you meet me at our apartment tonight, and bring John?”
“Sure,” Allie said. It seemed like a step forward anyways.
That night, Allie drove up to the apartment and mounted the stairs, talking with John as they went. He didn’t feel right, being in front of other people. Allie told him that was just because he’d spent the last quarter of his life with her and her alone. It was probably enough to drive anyone a little crazy; he was probably just feeling a little paranoid. He sat in his little cage, a piece of jewelry that Allie had bought all those years ago to carry him around in, wedged firmly between Allie’s breasts. Allie had changed a lot in the past 6 years as well, going from a moody, violent 14-year-old with no figure whatsoever to a kind, loving 20-year-old who was wise beyond her years with the help of her little pocket philosopher and had a body that made other women jealous. And the two of them had no modesty around each other: John from a lack of choice and Allie because by the end of their first day together, John had already seen her naked so what was the point in being coy now.
Allie knocked on the door of apartment 3B, and Morgan opened it. “You have John with you?” the girl asked.
“Yeah,” Allie said, pulling John out of her cleavage.
“Lucky guy,” Morgan muttered, though when a giant muttered around John, he’d hear it. It was a sort of one-way channel of backtalk, his size. Whispers were magnified like they were said by actors who were trying to show that they were whispering on stage, while his own whispers died a quiet death less than a few inches from his mouth. He’d noticed Morgan was more considerate than Kris was, but he didn’t ever remember her looking at him after Allie initially revealed him. Did she have a crush on Allie?
“Of course she does, John, she’d be a fool not, too,” his inner voice said. “I mean, Kris is pretty, but Allie is gorgeous.”
Allie found Kris in the kitchen, having turned it into a makeshift laboratory where she was busily mixing chemicals with long names together. She walked over, and asked Morgan to take over with the last few steps while she took some biometric data on John. John felt penetrated by Kris’s vision as she leaned in close and examined him. After he stepped off a finely adjusted scale, Kris looked at his weight and said, “I suppose a body fat percentage float test is right out. You probably just float on top of the water at your weight. Not enough pressure to break the surface tension.”
It was then they heard someone give a half-hearted moan that died as it continued. Allie raced to the kitchen where she found a pile of clothes sitting. They were Morgan’s. Kris arrived shortly behind, looking at the pile of clothes not as a distraught lover at having shrunken her girlfriend but as a cold, disinterested scientist whose hypothesis had been proven correct. Allie busily fished Morgan out of her clothes, finding her curled up in a lacy thong. She had good taste, Allie thought. She held the tiny girl in her hands.
John watched as Allie carefully lay the sleeping girl out on the counter next to him. He looked at the shrunken, nude form of Morgan. She was still passed out, which was how John had figured he’d spent the first three or four hours of his shrunken experience.
“What happened?” John asked, looking up at the two giantesses standing, observing them. Allie seemed to be red in the face and on the verge of shouting, but she was restraining herself to hear what Kris was going to say.
“She completed the experiment,” Kris said, her tone flat. She didn’t seem worried at all that her girlfriend was now smaller than her little finger.
Kris stood taller than Allie by a bit, but that didn’t stop Allie’s anger. She yelled and cursed and said how Kris had used Morgan to get more data points. Kris didn’t seem phased by this, except that she occasionally winced when Allie raised her volume. John, meanwhile, was in pain from the loudness, but his eardrums would heal. Allie scooped up John, and then, looking at Kris, scooped up Morgan and stormed out of the apartment, carrying the two shrunken people out in her hands until she got to her car when she dumped them in her lap.
“I can’t believe her,” Allie said. John’s hearing was just coming back as the ringing subsided. “She shrunk her own girlfriend just because she wanted to confirm her theory. Who does something like that?”
“Kris does,” John said. “She always has. She’s not comfortable just being confident in something. She has to know it.”
“That’s not right, though!” Allie said.
“Look, she’ll probably work on fixing this,” John said. “She just doesn’t see what the problem is. She’ll fix Morgan, so why worry about what happens in the meantime?”
“She sounds like a monster,” Allie said.