The only sound that fills my ear is the chirping of crickets and the rushing of air as my bicycle glides down the empty road. It’s the middle of the night in my sleepy town in rural Japan, and at this hour, there’s only one place to satisfy late night hunger that’s open. As I turn at yet another deserted crossroads with traffic lights signaling to no one, a bright white light appears from the rows of darkened houses and stores.
In the middle of the night, my local convenience store stands out as a brightly lit oasis in a darkened world, a little blip of life in a slumbering hamlet. I carefully pilot my bike up the entry path and coast to a stop neatly into the bike zone. With a smooth dismount, I make my way inside.
“Irasshaimse!” The blue polo-clad clerk cheerfully chirps behind the counter as a canned musical chime plays. For a moment, I squint my eyes a bit, the brightness of the fluorescent lights burning against my night-adjusted vision from the bike ride over here. I give a friendly wave to the girl behind the counter, and she heads to the back, likely looking for something to do given the sheer lack of customers at this time of night.
No matter, I think to myself as I grab a basket. For now, I just need to grab what I need and head back home.
The tinny speaker in the ceiling softly crackles out some J-Pop song, filling the void with a bit of warm, cheerful music as I wandered the desolate aisles. As I expected, the prepared food is gone, my favorite fried chicken tragically absent from the heated display box by the register. Likewise, the onigiri and sandwich section is deserted, save for some unappealing sandwich that fails to grab my desire before I’m distracted by a packet of chips I haven’t had in a while. I quickly shove the bag into my basket before proceeding to the cooler section at the back.
Despite it being summer, the water bottles are thankfully fully stocked, just what I needed after a bike ride here. However, as I reach down to grab a bottle, an electric shock resounds through my body, forcing me to double over as I stagger from the painful sensation. The bottle slips from my hand, clattering to the ground as a splitting headache overcomes me. As I begin to keel over, the last thing I see is the freezer section growing larger and larger before darkness clouds my vision.
A few moments later, I woke up, laying on a vast, white surface in a strange dimension of distant but enormous monuments on the horizon. Behind me, a translucent cylinder larger than a city bus lay in a puddle of condensation. Now awake, I quickly realize what has transpired. The gigantic cylinder, the looming monuments in the distance and the strange floor and sky proves it, I had shrunk to an inch tall.
I began to panic almost immediately, the reality of my situation failing to process in my mind as I looked up at the newly gigantified world. Here I am, far away from home and anyone who could come rescue me and reduced to the size of a bug. I’m trapped in an oasis in the middle of an inky void too enormous for my miniaturized form to traverse. For now, I can do nothing but my best to survive and hopefully get someone’s attention who can rescue me.
As I calm down, I think over my situation. The only other person in the building is the clerk, who I assumed is in the back. Worst case scenario, I can try to find her, but I might be mistaken for a bug, so I need to play it safe for now. I rise to my feet, and start to walk towards the front door, since I have nothing else to do, at the very least it puts me closer to the clerk.
The walk is lengthy but somewhat uneventful. The hum of the refrigerators and the tinny J-pop speaker provide a strange soundtrack to my hike. As I stroll down the aisle I once was able to cover in a few seconds, a grim sight appears in front of me.
It’s a bug, or at least it was a bug. A small beetle in the middle of the path, smashed flat by an overwhelming force. Its shell was smashed to pieces, its legs loosely bent and the whole mess was coated in what I assumed was its guts. A feeling of nausea overcomes me as I look at the miserable crushed bug. Likely, the clerk or a customer found it, and it was treated the way bugs in the store deserved to be treated. I shudder, trying not to think of what I would look like should the girl behind the counter drop her sneaker down on my tiny form. Nevertheless, I still need to make my way up front.
After minutes of walking, I turn around, finding myself less than halfway down the aisle. With a sigh, I turn to continue before I hear a low rumble off in the distance, only growing louder the longer they go on. Down at the end of the aisle, the enormous figure of the clerk makes her appearance, looming over my world like a skyscraper. Her black hair is like an inky waterfall, barely obscuring her name tag which bears the name “Miyano.” More pressing to me, however, are her enormous white sneakers, smudged brown with months and months of use. Earth-shattering footfalls filled my ears as I watched the behemoth approach. As terrifying as she appeared from afar, the sight of the girl, once shorter than me looming high into the sky felt unreal. The final roar came less than a foot from her body, as I watched her sneaker fall with a tremendous crash against the tile floor. Her stopping down feels more like a building collapsing as she dutifully restocks a row of packaged sweets on a hook.
This moment gives me a golden opportunity to possibly get her attention. If she notices me, I’ll be rescued, although deep within, I hope she doesn’t mistake me for a bug and reduce me to yet another crushed stain on the tile like that bug. However, I know that there’s no life for me here, so after taking a deep breath, I gather my courage and shout to the enormous clerk high above me, praying she’ll hear my words and rescue me from the barren world of white.
presence of too many ideas and fantasies necessitated creating a multiple
choice ending, so I created a series of different fantasy endings that I
envisioned. Feel free to peruse the multiple outcomes below and let me know
which one was your favorite!
Chapter 2: Crush Ending
Chapter 3: Snack Ending
Chapter 4: Inshoe Ending
Chapter 5: Panty Ending
Chapter 6: Friend Ending