A deafening, rhythmic sound woke me up. I couldn’t get myself to open my eyes, so the only thing I could perceive was that sound. My mind was a blur, silently screaming in pain. I felt like my head felt could crack open at any moment, bearing an intense headache. More than that, an inexplicable vertigo caused me motion sickness, to the point that I felt like throwing up. But I realized that my stomach was completely empty, which, in turn, caused me a sharp pain of hunger.
This pain, however, made me slowly regain feeling over my body. My muscles ached for some reason, but when I tried to move them, I found out that I couldn’t. I was completely restrained. Except for my abdomen, which I could barely squirm, my limbs were completely, absolutely unmovable. This sudden discovery caused a rush of adrenaline, and I finally opened my eyes, instinctively.
I was held upside down on the roof of what looked like some kind of small cell. My body was almost completely enclosed in what looked like solidified glue, which hindered almost every movement. A dim light filtered from somewhere outside.
I tried to make sense of that situation, but I simply found it impossible. I had no idea where I was, or how I got there. I tried to focus on the last thing I could remember, but my mind was completely blank. My memories were… simply not there. I couldn’t remember anything. At all. Who was I? Why was I there? What was my life like before?
Then, it all happened in a moment. As I was still trying to figure out anything about this situation, I felt my whole world being lifted. Then, a whirlwind of colors, sounds and vertigo. I was lifted in the air, still firmly attached to my prison. I screamed, unable to process what was going on. The upward movement stopped briefly. Beneath me, thousands of kilometers down, an endless plain of concrete. In a second, I was rushing down towards it, and in less than an instant, it was over. Again, that deafening impact:
The chaotic world outside my prison was gone once again, leaving me in darkness, barely safe from an impact with the ground. I was still shocked when, not even a few seconds after, the same scene unfolded again, perfectly identical.
And again, and again.
Every time I tried to scream, my voice was silenced by the impact with the ground. Every time I tried to set myself free, my efforts were vain. And the movements of my gigantic prison never stopped.
They were regular, as if they followed a pattern, a timing. As if…
The realization hit me, with all it’s horrible consequences.
As if they were steps.
Steps made by someone walking literally on me. I was beneath a person. And my cell must have been…
I looked around, recognizing a pattern that looked vaguely familiar. They were treads on the bottom of a shoe. If that were true, then how big was the person walking? Or better, how small was I?
Horror and desperation made me double the efforts to free myself, but with the same results: I couldn’t budge. With every step, they became more frantic, but not more efficient.
The person above me, whoever that was, continued to walk, unconcerned and unaware of my struggles. Everything that was happening in front of my eyes didn’t make sense to me. It was absurd. And yet, it was real. I tried to wake up from that bad dream many times, but the pain, the impact and the world spinning with every step, they were all too real. Why? I asked myself, finding no answer, as the path of the person above me continued seemingly without end.
It went on for at least one hour. I lost count of how many times I felt sick and lost my senses, regaining them only to find myself again in that twisting hell on the bottom of a shoe. Slowly consuming me one step at the time and each time burying me against the filthy ground.
Eventually, I was lifted in the air with an otherworldly sigh coming from the sky above, and I found myself hanging vertically. I could barely see part of the world outside, which looked like the insides of a café. I watched as people large as titans walked past me. At that size, I knew there were no chances to be perceived by any normal human being. My captor, whoever that was, seemed completely unconcerned with me. Did they even know I was there?
The person holding me captive was sitting on a chair, cross-legged. The walls of my prison shifted, as they relaxed the tired foot inside the shoe, wiggling the toes to soften the tense muscles. My body jolted with intense pain, forcibly stretched in that trivial movement.
Then, during those movements aimed to stretch and relax the ankle of the gigantic being, the undersole was partially turned upwards. And I saw my captor. A tall golden-haired girl stood still, her face miles and miles above me. Maybe it was the sheer size difference, like watching the full moon rising, but she looked majestic. Breathtaking, belonging to a reality different than mine. A force of nature itself, a phenomenon of immeasurable might. She was casually looking around when she locked her gaze on me. I must have appeared as a vague spot of color from her point of view. If I was hoping to be noticed and rescued, there was no way she could make out what I was from there. And then…
A rapid movement, and her massive, incalculable finger was placed before me, her black nail facing me. Her middle finger.
She perfectly knew that I was there, and she was giving me the middle finger.
Whoever that girl was, she knew very well I was in hell, and despite that, still took the occasion to humiliate me. The giantess wanted me to know that she didn’t care about me at all. She wanted me to plunge into an even deeper despair, knowing I wouldn’t be rescued. I hadn’t the strength to scream at her. Not in rage, but simply to know why. Why did I deserve that? I had to let all that sink in, while she turned away and her face exited my field of view. For quite a long time, she chatted with an unknown person, joining her at her table. I could not make out those voices, too loud, too far from me. My captor was in a completely different world, to which I once belonged to. Now, my place was at the bottom of her well-worn shoe.
She took her sweet time, neither troubled nor concerned by my existence. She went on as if nothing happened, while my body and mind withered underneath her. Another hour must have passed before she finally got up. I disappeared again under her shoe and the hellish rhythm of her steps began once more. There was also no point in rebellion anymore: I had discovered that I was purposefully kept there (for reasons yet unknown) and therefore I wouldn’t get out until my possessor decided so. By the time she was back on the street, ready to walk again around the city, I had given up and accepted my torture. At every step, she merciless stomped down on me, as if she was reminded of my existence. The only thing that allowed me to avoid a terrible and gruesome death by trampling was the mere space between the treads of her shoe and the dirty ground below. I was constantly kept on the edge of peril. Every step spared me just so little space from the ground to prevent the impact, but not enough to exactly make me feel safe. If the glue keeping me in place had melted just a little, I would have been crushed to a pulp under the treads of her outsole with her next step.
I didn’t know where she was headed this time, but nothing would have changed even if I did. Time passed and the torture continued.
I had lost the sense of time for a while when I became aware of the change. After being slammed for an uncountable long time against the concrete, the terrain had changed, replaced by a field of grass.
The impact against the leaves was much less traumatic, and I was relieved, for once, that the titanic girl had chosen to cross a park in her way. I still didn’t know what she really meant to do there.
I noticed that, progressively, she headed towards an area with less and less grass, with bare earth wet with mud. It must have rained recently, I thought, as the ground was still soaked. Every step produced a squelching sound as she purposefully proceeded among the mud, which soon started to fill the small gaps in the tread of her shoes. Including mine. Whenever the foot came down, the semi-liquid sludge absorbed my figure (at least, what was not already encased in clotted glue), suffocating me, humiliating me even further. I don’t know if it was just me, but it seemed that she was walking slower than before, keeping her foot down for longer than necessary. Meanwhile, I was being caked among the filth under her shoe.
At one point, she lifted her foot into the air, almost theatrically, giving me a good view of what was to come. A large puddle of wet mud was lying just ahead. How far could she go just to make me miserable? She accelerated her pace and just before reaching it… She jumped in with both feet.
While midair, I braced myself for the impact. When it came, I felt my entire body being compressed against the smothering, oozing filth. I blacked out, and I could swear I heard a distant, uttered laughter coming from above.
Next thing I knew, I was dragged along a doormat. The solidified mud was scraped away, and the brute force of the repeated movement was enough to bring me back to my senses. A door slammed shut behind me, and the giantess above moved a few steps inside. I assumed that she had arrived home. My hypothesis was confirmed when she casually sat down on the floor and quickly took off the shoe I was glued to, inspecting it, not even taking the time for undoing her laces. Among the filth and the mud, she scanned the sole looking for me and for the first time since I “met” her, she talked to me. But it wasn’t exactly a nice conversation.
“How are you doing beneath my shoe?” she rhetorically asked, emphasizing the last two words. “Asshole”. She added the insult after a few seconds of silence, raising an eyebrow. Was she really expecting an answer?
My pleading was cut off immediately as soon as it started. “Cry and beg as much as you want, asshole, but it won’t change a thing. After all you’ve done, I believe it’s just right that I keep you under my dirty shoe. It’s somewhat poetical, don’t you think? You’ll always be below me, and I’ll make sure that you don’t ever forget!”. She seemed really convinced of her words. Excited to prove me how right, how superior she was.
“Frankly, you’ve always been dirt compared to me. I just didn’t see that before. But now that you’re under my dirty shoe… Yeah, it’s obvious that you’re just that. Filth under my foot, to be stepped on and forgotten immediately after”. A sly smile formed across her lips. Now I was sure she was definitely enjoying that. Taking her sweet time to abuse me. A sweet, sweet revenge. But revenge for what? I still didn’t remember anything!
“Normally I would pity someone in your situation. How cruel, placing you under a shoe, how evil of me!” she said, melodramatically. “But you… You deserve it… so much! You belong there. Maybe tomorrow I’ll start hitting the gym and I’ll have a nice run on the treadmill with those shoes. Maybe
I’ll go hiking, and you’ll risk being impaled by every tiny sharp rock on my path. Maybe you’ll simply starve and I won’t have to care. Either way, I’ll make sure to torture you for good. After all you’ve done to me, this punishment is only just”.
At that point, pushed by frustration, anger, but mostly fear, I shouted at her with all the air I had in my lungs. I told her that I had no memory whatsoever of my past and I had no clue of who she was, let alone what I had done to her to deserve this.
It was my last chance to at least try to be spared.
My captor looked at me, wide eyes, without saying a word. “Oh”, she muttered after a while.
“I guess… that could happen, due to the process of shrinking. I… They… They told me it could technically happen, but… the chances were minimal, I didn’t really worry about it…”. The girl seemed to have lost all her talkativeness. She stood in silence for a while. Her only reason to acknowledge me was gone, apparently.
After a couple of minutes, she whispered something, more for herself than for me. “I guess a punishment doesn’t make much sense now…”. She then turned to me. “I could free you, I suppose. But what’s the point if you don’t remember anything? Now you’re really just filth in the shape a person”.
Despite all my cries and pleas, she dropped the sneaker on the floor and simply left. I watched as her socked feet walked away and disappeared in another room, leaving steamy imprints on the cold tiles for a few seconds. I was abandoned.
Discarded on the floor, after an entire day of torture for nothing because of that stranger, I could only think. I would never reacquire my memories and I would never know what happened to me before that day. My only chance was gone with that girl, who, despite being the source of my troubles, was also the only one who could have told me. And now, she seemed bent on ignoring me forever. Who knows, maybe she was right, I was the asshole of this story and my punishment was indeed just. Or maybe she was a psychopath and decided to hate me for a stupid reason and therefore I was unrightfully captured. But there was no way to know. And so, my fate was to be ignored, abandoned and forgotten on the bottom on a stranger’s shoe. What’s more, I had no one to tell that to. Even the detestation of that girl was preferrable to a lonesome solitude.
Sometimes to be hated is better than to be ignored.