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Carmel Whethers entered the gas station with her arms huddled around her against the cold, her short, white puffy jacket not enough in these subzero temperatures. Another in a series of mistakes she was chastising herself for. It had been foolish to leave Edmonton to check on their office in the mountains, with snow driving in ahead of the holidays. But she’d wanted to handle their end-of-year summaries personally, even if it turned out they were generally on top of things. Now, she felt even more stupid returning via these increasingly dangerous roads, as the storm outside picked up. But she was here now, halfway back, and if she could drive through the night she might make Edmonton by dawn. She had to: with the amount of snow coming down, there might not be any road left to use tomorrow. That, and tomorrow was Christmas, though she didn’t think Jake would be there even if she did show.

But it was doable. She just needed to warm up a bit, get herself and the car fuelled, and avoid skidding down a mountainside.

Carmel stamped snow off her boots and blew on her hands, then smiled coldly to the spotty clerk behind the counter, serving a guy in a bright red hunting vest and a tartan deerstalker. The clerk barely acknowledged her but the guy, thin-faced with a crooked nose and a lazy eye, gave her an unpleasant wink. Carmel brushed that off to go find the coffee machine. As she waited for it to spew her murky drink, she scoped out the chocolate section.

“What’s a pretty lady like you doing way out here in the dead of night?” the man asked from a distance, ambling away from the cashier. Carmel rolled her eyes and said nothing, hoping not engaging would make him lose interest. He stayed down the end of the aisle, but said, “You got a pantsuit on under that? Look like you should be in the city, honey.”

She should be in the city, he was right about that. She had no business braving the wilderness this time of year – hadn’t packed warm enough or planned where to stay. She’d just had to make sure they went into New Year on the right foot; with the mountain office all in line, she could focus fully on the Edmonton branch and hit January running. She could hit things even harder if Jake wasn’t around, she supposed. Perhaps it was for the best she’d received those unhappy messages from him saying maybe she shouldn’t even bother coming back for the holiday.

The deerstalker man grunted with disappointment at her lack of response, but was half-smiling, not quite done. He had already paid, should be leaving, but instead he turned to browse a shelf of what looked like baby formula. Pretending, waiting her out.

Carmel’s blood chilled a little. She did not want to exit ahead of him, to be out in that bleak night with a man waiting to follow her. She took her coffee and moved down the next aisle, prepared to spend the absolutely maximum amount of time inspecting the chocolate options.

Carmel blew on her coffee and idly scanned bars branded with wrappers that looked decades old. Coffee Crisp, Eat-More. She took a sip of her drink and gasped – too hot, and beyond cheap. The man snickered somewhere beyond the shelves, apparently listening for her. There was a downside to losing Jake, she supposed. He could be an asshole, but at least when he was around it kept other assholes away.

As Carmel side-stepped along the shelves, mind wandering too much to make a decision, she heard another engine pull up outside, a door opening. Another trucker to contend with – she’d best pay up and leave. But as the entry bell rang and the newcomer stomped in, Carmel’s vision blurred. She lowered her drink, blinking, suddenly light-headed. The man said something to the newcomer, but the words were unclear to Carmel, as if she was hearing through water. She tried to steady herself, wobbling on her feet, and worriedly focused on the coffee.

Had she been drugged?

She pushed it away from her, onto the shelf, as her legs went weak. Carmel grabbed at the shelf for support. Her hand missed, and she watched with alarm as her arm swung through air, unable to reach the shelf. She had a terrible sinking feeling – no, a falling feeling, and saw the tiles under her feet rushing towards her. Expanding. She stifled the urge to scream, and instead gritted her teeth, pushing her hands down ahead of the rising floor, braced for impact.

The swaying stopped there, though, and Carmel found herself steady again. Her vision swirled back into focus and she lifted her hands to check they were still there. Clear before her face. But . . . the floor beyond them looked vast. The shelf was gone, replaced by a scuffed, metal wall. She looked up. It wasn’t a wall: above the metal sat a pack of chips, a story high. Carmel stepped back and shrieked – before clamping a hand over her mouth.

The shelves were still there, they were just much, much bigger. They towered all the way into the sky. Carmel checked one way and then the other, seeing how far they stretched, and shook with a horrific realisation: she was tiny. She could just make out the coffee cup far above, barely perched on a shelf maybe forty feet high. The cup itself, which had been small in her hand mere moments ago, was big enough for her to climb into. Had she been drugged? Was this an extreme hallucination? It felt real.

A big shadowy movement drew her eye to the right as someone stepped into her aisle and Carmel reacted without thinking, diving for the shelving unit. She climbed quickly over the bottom rail and squeezed between bags of chips, then stopped dead, trying not to rustle them. Breathing hard, she peered carefully out of the gap to watch the man in the deerstalker stop at the end of the aisle.

He was a giant. From this angle, at her height, his hiking boots looked as big as cars. The chunks of snow and mud on them were bigger than bits of Carmel’s body. His jeans were tatty, thick sails of denim climbing up to a huge body – where he’d seemed wiry before, he now looked impossibly powerful. Terrifying.

The smirk on his face twisted to a frown as he checked the aisle. He looked over his shoulder, then scratched his head, confused. Carmel held her breath, willing him to go, just get the hell out of here. With a hum of irritation, he moved off towards the exit, apparently thinking he’d been tricked and she’d somehow slipped out unseen.

Carmel shuddered with relief and slipped out from between the chip packets to climb back down to the tile floor. She doubled over, hands on her knees, feeling like she might vomit. The stress passed, though, as she breathed slowly and deeply. Finally, she straightened herself up and scanned the opposite direction down the aisle, towards the counter. Someone was moving there, stepping about, but no one was in sight, just confectionery on one side and immense refrigerator doors on the other.

However this had happened, Carmel needed a plan. She couldn’t get back to her car, wouldn’t be able to drive. She needed to get help. She checked her pockets, but all she had was her purse. Wincing, she cursed herself for leaving the phone in the car – locked in its holder to be used as a SatNav.

Well. There was the spotty clerk. The young man could easily be commanded to assist her, but seemed unhelpful and was quite possibly untrustworthy. If the coffee had made her shrink, then the staff might be involved. Carmel searched for a camera – was she being watched now? Was it some kind of sick trap?

When she turned back, another giant shape was emerging into the aisle, and this time it appeared too quickly for Carmel to hide. She went rigid at the sight of the enormous person, who took a second to spot her before freezing as well.

A woman.

She looked like a trucker, too, in a checked flannel shirt and a red and white baseball cap, but her long legs were mostly on show, with denim hot pants cut off barely below the pockets, and her trucker’s shirt was tied in a knot under her considerable breasts. She had a white top on underneath the shirt but it was cut low on her chest, a lot of cleavage on show, and her shirtsleeves were rolled up, showing off an elaborate snake tattoo on one forearm. She was pretty in an unconventional way, with a sharp nose and freckles, a bunch of piercings in her left ear, ginger hair hanging in wavy strands out from under her cap, down to her shoulders. The incongruous appearance of this woman, appearing in the winter night dressed like she belonged at a Texas rodeo, was almost as surprising as her immense size, a fifty-foot titan. The combination locked Carmel in place.

For her part, the trucker woman gawked at Carmel with her mouth open in a little, startled O, about equally startled. It gave Carmel hope. Not a man, not someone who worked here; this stranger could potentially help. Carmel readied herself to say something, to take charge. This young woman was her way out of here.

“Excuse me. I’m going to need you to help me,” Carmel called out.

The woman looked aside, checking the clerk was where he should be, then back to Carmel. She stepped closer and Carmel skipped two steps back at the sight of such a huge woman approaching. The woman paused again, eyes widening as she confirmed Carmel was real and alive, and she mouthed, barely whispering, “What the fuck?”

Carmel cleared her throat, readying to speak, but the woman’s expression shifted. Her mouth relaxed into a smile, her eyes narrowed with a glint of mischief. Carmel suddenly had a very bad feeling about her, and stiffened. Then the giantess moved quickly towards her. Carmel gave a startled cry and charged for the cover of the shelf. She got her hands on the metal base and pulled herself up as the woman’s boots thumped up behind her. As she shoved her way between two immense bags of chips, the one on her right was pulled away, and Carmel tripped onto her side. She twisted on her rear and started backtracking across the shelf, raising her hands to ward off the woman, whose crouching body entirely blocked the way back.

The trucker leaned in, massive face smiling with predatory delight, her hand raising and huge fingers spreading.

“No! Get away!” Carmel cried, her voice tiny. She backed into another bag of chips, nowhere left to go, and the giant’s slender hand wrapped around her. Fingers as thick as Carmel’s legs encircled her chest and gut, curling closed with a bracing squeeze. She pushed at the top one, trying to lever it off, with no effect – then she was lifted, carried into the light. Carmel’s stomach lurched as the woman rested back in a squat, holding her up to her face – maybe thirty feet high now. Despite the daunting fall, Carmel kept pushing at the finger, saying, “Put me down! You’ll be in a lot of trouble!”

“Well, shit,” the woman said with a thick Southern accent. Definitely did not belong here. Her smile spread to a white-toothed grin as she studied Carmel. Another giant hand came up, and a big finger pushed Carmel’s head to one side. She swatted at that, as her head was rotated, then her hair stroked. Her captor whispered, “Ain’t you the cutest.”

“Stop it!” Carmel rasped. As the second hand retreated, she rested her own hands on the fingers that held her, shakily looking into the giant woman’s face. “Listen. I’m a real person, I’m –”

“I can see that,” the woman whispered, with another glance in the direction of the counter. She bit her lower lip as the massive orbs of her eyes found Carmel again, with a playful, dangerous expression. She said, “I am definitely keeping you.”

“What?” Carmel exclaimed, but her stomach lurched again as the woman stood, hurtling her higher. She hung on tight to the top finger, legs dangling perilously free, and before she could properly process the woman’s words or where she was going she was quickly swept around to an expanse of denim. Carmel yelped as she approached the immense curve of the woman’s bum, and feebly struggled as she was shoved into a rear pocket. She tumbled into darkness, kicking and pushing, and the hand kept firm hold as she was pressed into soft fabric with a great, plushy wall against one shoulder. Carmel squirmed, feeling her head and shoulder sinking into that wall – the woman’s butt cheek – the fearsome indignity, on top of the terror!

She had no time to dwell on it, as her captor quickly walked on. Carmel bounced up and down in the pocket, even with the hand holding her in place, hitting her head and arms against the woman’s behind. She heard the woman opening a fridge door, picking some items, hurrying to the counter. When the woman said something to the clerk, Carmel shifted, readying to shout for help, but somehow predicting it the giantess squeezed her tighter, knocking the air from her lungs. She wheezed and went limp, and the gas stop doors beeped, opened and closed.

A howl of wind rushed over them, and the woman’s boots crunched through snow before a vast door opened and Carmel was finally pulled free from the pocket. She took in a desperate gasp of freezing outside air before she was released, tossed from the hand, and screamed as she flew onto a wide, dark platform. Carmel hit a padded surface, rolled over dark fabric, and came to a panting stop. On her back, shaking and terrified, she looked up towards the ceiling of a truck cab a vast distance above, a wall of giant car seat behind her, and a great sky of windscreen ahead. The giantess shoved a shopping bag noisily into the foot-well. Carmel sat up as the door slammed shut, then she leapt to her feet and ran, to jump on the handle, get back out. She skidded to the edge of the seat, though, and realised the handle was well above her head height, and she wasn’t even confident she could jump the gap to the door.

Another door opened and she spun around to find the woman on the far side of the cab. She’d thrown Carmel in the passenger seat and was climbing in to drive. Carmel hurried towards her and shouted, “What are you doing? You can’t just take me.”

The truck engine came to life as the woman turned the key, a monstrous rumble that shuddered through Carmel, frightening her quiet. The woman’s hand came close again and Carmel gave another shriek, but it only found the shift stick and got into gear. Then they were moving, reversing, turning.

“Hey!” Carmel shouted, heart racing faster as the opportunity for rescue diminished. She was being taken away from her car, from her phone, from the chance of anyone knowing where she was or what had happened. “What are you doing?”

The woman gave her a smirk, looming hugely above her from the other seat, then reached down again. This time, she went right over the stick and Carmel turned to run. The huge fingers curled around her torso and lifted her, and the woman drove with one hand as she held Carmel up near shoulder height with the other. She glanced between her captive and the road ahead, and Carmel checked out the windscreen herself: it was dark, even with the truck’s huge headlights, and a blanket of snow twirled before them, the thin strip of road barely visible.

“I already told you,” the woman said, sounding amused. “I’m keeping you.”

Chapter End Notes:

If you want more now you can find it on Patreon here https://www.patreon.com/posts/midwinter-ch-1-91709932 - otherwise I'll post Ch 2 next week.

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