“So this is my room and that’s Sam’s room. Don’t head over there. We’re getting our rent money covered to leave that place clean and unused.” Lori gave our cousin a tour of the apartment.
“I see…” Alice nodded in understanding before stopping and turning around. “Remy?”
Down below on the floor, 10’ away from her perspective but 240’ to my diminutive self, I was trudging through the carpet, lagging behind her 50’ stride. “Guh… Don’t worry, I’ll catch up.”
“He’ll be fine. He needs to get used to moving around like this anyways,” Lori dismissed my ordeal and continued with her tour for Alice’s sake.
So exactly how did all of these arrangements happen?
To explain our apartment situation: Lori and I lived in an apartment we shared with a third person who went to study abroad for a year. We were three college students (or rather, 2 college students and 1 alumni) in a three room apartment ever since Sam and I had opted to help Lori keep her apartment after her friends moved out.
To be living with my sister again after enjoying the freedom of living on my own for a few years was a pain, but splitting an apartment 3 ways was cheaper than splitting it two ways. Lori was a graduate student who was working on a few amazing projects for her professor that paid surprisingly well but even she appreciated the rent money help.
“There’s only one bathroom, so we’ll have to take turns. And you already saw our living room and kitchen combo when you came in. Check this out. I made ladders for Remy to climb up if he wants to get to the tables.”
“Oh, I see them…” Alice noticed the miniscule steel ladders glued onto the side of tables. She wandered back and forth between the living room coffee table, the small dining table, and the kitchen countertops to inspect Lori’s handiwork. It was after she finished inspecting all of them that she saw that I finally made it out of the hallway and to the kitchen. “Remy? Uh, are you okay?”
“Haaah… Yeah, no problem. I’m just getting my exercise in trying to keep up,” I needed to catch my breath. I actually had to put my hand on Lori’s bus-sized feet to prop myself up.
“If following us tires you out, are you going to be able to handle the ladders, Lil Bro?” my towering sister asked from above, her hand on her hip. I could barely see her face past her chest which was likely the same for how well she could see me down by the tip of her big toe.
“I’ll get used to it,” I hoped I was being honest. Climbing the equivalent of a ten story building to get to the kitchen counter sounded imposing, and I knew both girls were even taller than that.
Alice lowered her head apologetically after seeing my difficulties. “I’m so sorry, Remy. I really shouldn’t have asked to be here after all.”
“No, it-’ Oof!”
“No, it’s totally fine, Alice!” Lori and I were in perfect sync at that moment, but because I was literally in front of Lori’s foot, when she shifted her leg, she knocked me down with her toes. The next thing I knew, my face was buried in the carpet while the heavy weight of her bare foot. “Whoops. My bad, Lil’ Bro.”
Now as to why Alice was moving in with us, it’d be best to point to our Aunt Shelly.
Aunt Shelly, our mother’s very demanding sister, was more extreme than your typical helicopter parent. She had forced Alice to attend a strict all girls private school and limited her from going out of the home or even getting close to guys all through her life. She was only now attending the college I was in and Lori was researching because it was the closest to their actual home. Alice wanted to make use of the dorms to break away from her mother, but she was shut down so easily by Aunt Shelly’s overbearing personality. She only barely managed to convince our aunt to let her move out of the house if she stayed with Lori whose accomplishments convinced her.
Sadly, I was the outlier that would’ve forced Aunt Shelly to retract her decision immediately. Even as a family member, because I was a guy, she did not want Alice to be staying with me. She wanted me out of sight and even wanted me to move out.
We were completely willing to help Alice out because we knew her home situation. I would’ve moved out if needed but Lori had argued enough for my sake so that I wouldn’t have to trudge through last minute new apartment and roommate hunting. Still, Aunt Shelly’s compromise wasn’t exactly the most reasonable one….
“Okay, the last thing on our tour - this mechanical monstrosity in the corner that’s definitely out of place. It’s a somewhat more portable version of a dual-layer compression generator.”
“Huh? The what?”
“You can think of it as a platform with a shrink ray built into it,” Lori tried her best to simplify it. “It was recently approved by the FDA and some restrictions were lessened. Auntie’s lab seems to be better stocked than my professors’ because we’re normally not able to take these home due to how there are only two on campus. She gave us this one so we can use it on Remy. It’s not the newest model, but it’s pretty simple to use.”
“We have shrink rays now?”
“Technically it ‘compresses’ instead of ‘shrinks’. Maybe ‘reduces’ might be a better word for it.”
“There’s a difference?” Alice was confused.
“It’s all the same to me. Me getting smaller is the same as you getting bigger from my perspective,” I wasn’t going to bother dealing with the terminology as I pulled myself up onto the chest high platform that was only 2 inches thick in reality.
All of the technical details and technobabble I couldn’t understand aside, a shrink ray was definitely the best way to describe the piece of technology Aunt Shelly had pushed onto us. That was what we had used to make me smaller. By standing on the platform and pressing a button, I would be shrunken or grown back in scale. Unfortunately, with the button on top of a computer tower the size of a building, I was going to need either Lori or Alice to change me back.
“The plan is so that Remy shrinks himself whenever he comes in and we regrow him whenever he has to leave,” Lori explained. “It’s inconvenient, but that’s all that this model of machine allows for.”
“Something tells me Aunt Shelly wants it to be inconvenient so we give up on letting Alice stay here,” I dared to remark.
“Remy!” Lori was critical of me, but even she was grinding her teeth. She knew I was right.
“No… knowing her, Mom would definitely do that,” Even Alice was well aware of the fact. “... Sorry… Remy…”
Alice apologized for the umpteenth time that day.
“Seriously. Stop apologizing. This isn’t much of a problem, but if you’re really feeling bad about it, I’d appreciate it if you could help me out if I ever ask for it.”
“Y-Yes. I will...” she immediately nodded. “Just say the word, Remy. And I’ll do whatever you say.”
It certainly felt odd to be capable of giving my towering cousin orders, but at the very least, Alice would be more willing to listen to me than Lori would. Lori, though, was at least a very supportive big sister - if not to me, than to Alice.
“That’s not a good way to put it at all, Alice,” Lori giggle and put out one finger. “But let’s see if we can do this. We’ll start easy and make it through one semester first. Let’s show your mom that you can handle being out of her watch and that Remy and I can handle whatever unreasonable demand she gives.”
“Wait, ‘you’ handling demands? You’re not the one getting shrunk,” I called her out with a chuckle.
“Hey, you’re not wrong, but who’s got her finger on the button right now?” my sister didn’t deny it, but she knew she still had the upper hand, moving her one finger onto the button. “This thing’s still not set to resize you right now.”
I shut up and shrugged. I knew when to fold. As always, I couldn’t win against Lori. I was definitely going to need to make sure Alice would be able to change me back whenever I needed to go.
With my big sister and cousin in charge of my size, this was how my shrunken apartment life was going to be.