Steven continued to Stare at Megan, completely shocked by what he was seeing. It couldn't be possible, there was no way this could be happening, not to him. Finally regaining control of his body he pushed his sister away and stumbled as fast as he could towards the bathroom, being careful not to crash into the cupboard. Locking the door behind him he tore open the bathroom draws used for linen and pulled everything out until he withdrew and small tape measure. Holding it in his hand, his heart beat rapidly in his chest.
It didn't happen. I'm just imagining things. He thought to himself as he pulled the tape out and stood at full height, measuring himself.
After numerous checking the result was the same each and every time Steven measured himself. 183cm. what? This can't be!
It was even worse than Steven first feared, he had lost almost 5 centimetres instantly. This just wasn't possible. I can't have the disease too! Steven couldn't believe that he had contracted the same illness that his father had. He didn't want to think about what his life was going to turn into. Was he going to be just like his dad? Completely submissive and a slave to everyone around him?
After throwing up in the toilet he washed his mouth and and breathed deeply, trying to calm himself down. His mind automatically started buzzing through every possibility that would make it appeared as if he had shrunk. Maybe the tape measure was just poorly made, making it inaccurate. Maybe Megan had a growth spurt. Maybe gravity was pushing down on his spine. There were heaps of possibilities that could account for this. The odds of him having this very, very rare disease were astronomical. Feeling reassured he stepped from the bathroom and thought about the day ahead of him. He had to go and do a science experiment with his friends so he should probably prepare for that.
Walking across the loungeroom, Steven's brain was in full denial mode. He even ignored alarming facts such as the increased size of all the furniture, the suddenly wider space of the house or even the bagginess his clothes now had. But none of this fazed him and he continued to focus unnecessarily on his coming breakfast which Megan had finished preparing. Strolling past the couch, he didn't even interfere with the dispute Jake and Clara were now having even though he was unofficial mediator of the house, making sure all arguments got settled. But right now he just wanted to eat his waffles in peace.
"You alright?" Megan asked sympathetically as she place the dish in front of him "That's the first time you haven't broken up one of their fights"
Steven merely mumbled something as he munched on the sugary, square delight.
"Nothing" He said, not looking at her before dropping the waffle on the plate and pushing it away "Disgusting"
Steven rose from his chair and left the table and headed towards the living room. He loved his older sister but there was just something about him that caused him to hurt people unintentionally. He was always the sort of person to let him emotions control his mood and speak without thinking. He walked up to his room to pack for his upcoming science experiment with his friends and made sure to ring them to clarify the details. Brian, Jessica and Sandra all gave the affirmative that the end of year experiment was good to go. If everything went well they should earn top marks.
Steven was a good leader despite his occasional attitude problems. His smart and organized mind allowed him to think ahead and plan for all outcomes which made him an invaluable lab partner. That, with his impressive physique and athletic skills made him an incredibly versatile individual and quickly earned him the respect of many of the other students at school. However he was also somewhat absent minded causing him to lose focus sometimes and get into extremely unlucky situation, which is a problem if you're working around dangerous equipment. But having his amazing friends and crew with him easily balanced out his lack of luck as they always seemed to keep him on track.
Thanks to him their project was really advanced and almost finished. He would have been studying engineering at MIT but his caring Step mother believed that the cheaper local university was a better option for him which his father quickly "agreed" to. However, despite these setbacks he was number one in his class and had a promising future almost anywhere engineering related. This little fact would often bring a frown to Linda's face, much to Steven's delight.
Running downstairs, Steven came across a familiar sight sitting on the couch which angered him even more than he already was. It appeared that the argument over the T.V had been settled by Jade who had gone about stealing Jake's headphones for her own personal use. Relaxing on the couch, she proceeded to mock her half-brother while easily fighting of his pathetic attempts to retrieve the headphones.
"Ok, ok, ok, ok, how about this?" Jade said laughing as she held the headphones out of reach "Answer me a simple science question and you can get your headphones back, deal?"
"But I hate science!"
"I know" She said with a grin "Ok, What is the periodic symbol of gold?"
"I don't know"
"Really? This is baby work. When I was your age I was doing work that was 5 times harder than this. Hmm, I guess that's the difference between you and me, huh?"
Steven walked over behind Jade and grabbed the hand holding the headphones.
"It's 'Au'" Steven ripped the headphones from her hands "Before you go insulting people half your age how about you pick on someone intellectually the same size"
"What, like you? Don't make me laugh"
"Last time I checked my grades have always been higher than yours. unlike you who was at the bottom of your English class"
"English is my bad subject! And that was only for one year!"
"Or maybe you're just not as smart as you think you are. Maybe you're just like everyone else"
Jade's eyes seemed to spark red before she dashed from the couched and went to punch Steven in the face. She just barely managed to get out of range before her fist swept past his nose. Steven fell backwards and landed on his butt, completely taken aback by her sudden reaction. He must have struck a chord with her as he knew comparing her to normal people would. Steven was barely on his feet when she came from around the couch and went to hit him again but he quickly grabbed her wrist. He was amazed at how strong she was and if she didn't stop her assault and storm upstairs he would undoubtedly lost that struggle. It was because she was so angry. That's why she was so strong.
Bending over, he handed the headphones back to his younger brother before ruffling his hair.
"There you go Jake, I believe these belong to you" He said with a smile "If that banshee bothers you again you know who you can turn to"
Jake looked at Steven in the same way he would look at a superhero. It was almost daunting that his little brother thought so highly of him. Seeing his bag packed by the chair he asked.
"Where are you going?"
"There's a school project that I have to finish with some friends. Just an experiment for out end of year assignment"
"Can I come?" Just like any little brother, Jake loved to hang out with Steven and his older friends. It made him feel so cool and they always treated him to things.
"Hmm, only if you're good, OK?" Jake quickly nodded his head and ran upstairs to get ready.
Looking over at the kitchen he saw Megan clearing the dishes and remembered how he had treated. She looked up at him and he quickly averted his gaze until his brother came running back down fully dressed. Picking up an apple from the counter, Steven threw it at Jake.
"Eat up, we're going to be there all day"
Later that day.
Steven along with his brother were the last to arrive at Brian's garage at which everyone else had shown up and were working on the experiment.
"Yo, Jake" Brain said, high fiving the young boy as he spoke with Steven "I printed out the documents Sandra sent me, Here's your copy." He handed Steven a set of papers each containing equations, diagrams, instructions and plans on them.
Brian was Steven's best friend and they had known each other since childhood. Even though they were kind of enemies back then they developed a mutual respect for each other which blossomed into a fully formed mateship. In fact if it wasn't for that competitive nature that each of them had with each other Steven wouldn't be nearly as smart or athletic as he was today. Brian, like Steven, was a smart, outgoing guy who was roughly 6' 1" and even though he had become physically superior to Steven he just wasn't as smart. This meant they complemented each other well.
"Okay" He said, pulling a heavy battery into the garage "Here's the battery we're going to need for measurements. Let's go"
After checking the last of the setting, Steven announced that they were finally ready to begin. The first stage of the experiment was relatively simple and mostly required someone to peddle on a bicycle while the group to measurement. The goal was not to peddle the fastest or longest but to produce the most energy through by the bicycle being hooked up to a generator. He used his laptop to simulate the slope the bicycle would be "riding".
"Okey, who wants to be the first to give this a ride?" He announced to the room in which he received a sudden silence until his little brother shot his hand up. "You want a go Jake?"
Before Jake could answer he was interrupted by Brian "Whoa, whoa, wait. I refuse to let a child prove he's more of a man than me so sign me up" he declared while fist bumping Jake.
Walking up to the bicycle he turned back to the two women before dramatically removing his shirt showing his rippling body. Sanda rolled her eyes while Jessica wolf whistled
"Yeah, show those abs" everybody laughed at this comment.
"Whoever does the worst has to buy everyone lunch, agreed?" Brian asked
"Well, that's hardly fair." Sandra said "I'll verse you in any intellectual debate you want but it's practically cheating when we're doing a fitness exercise"
"Fine, the girls are exempt from this, I guess it's up to the three men to compete to see whose best"
"Yeah, sure Hercules, now get on the bike" Steven said, grabbing Brian's shirt and throwing it on a nearby chair. he then walked behind his laptop and activated the program. "Okay, clock's ticking. Ready whenever you are"
Brian decided to start off strong rather than conserve his energy, even though the point of this was to create the most energy not go the fastest. However, despite his poor method he still managed to ride for a full fifteen minutes before jumping, sweating.
"Not a very smart riding style" Jessica said as she played cards with Jake and Sandra "you used up all your energy in one go"
"Well I have to keep it fair for you people. Plus, if I did ride your way we'd be here for days. Who knows how long I could go for"
"Yeah, dream on!" Jessica yelled from the side.
"I guess I'm up?" Steven said as Brian walked back to his chair and Sandra took his place behind the computer.
"Woo, go Steven! beat that Ginger!" Jake cheered from his chair
"Hey, Who're you calling a Ginger, eh midget?" Brian asked, jabbing Jake in the side "Besides, don't you know that girls love a good red-head. Can't reist them"
"Don't listen to him" Jessica said "What women want is for a man to be true to what he is"
"Yeah, but the right hair colour doesn't hurt though"
Steven stepped onto the bike and waited for Sandra to start the program. Once she was ready he started pedaling at a slow pace. He knew that he wouldn't be able to beat Brian with pure strength and so he would have to ride smart. This was really a contest between Brian and him because if Jake lost the bet than Steven would end up paying anyway. And so he rode at a steady pace, determined to conserve his energy which is why he was surprised that he was feeling tired after only a few minutes of riding. There was no way he was that unfit but he could have sworn he just got on the bicycle. Why was he feeling so weak?
That's when it hit him. The shrinking virus. One of the symptoms it caused was a significant decrease in body muscle and stamina in the first periods of shrinkage. Sudden weakness in the body even occurred before any signs of shrinking happen. Does this mean he really does have the disease? No, I'm just unfit. I didn't eat breakfast this morning! I haven't had enough liquids! It didn't take long for the group to realize that something was wrong.
"Hey, is your brother feeling well?" Jessica asked Jake as they watched his brother become red in the face. "You don't think he's sick do you?"
"I don't know"
"Guys, how long have I been doing this?" Steven asked between breathes
"About 5 minutes" Sandra responded "You wanna stop? You don't look so good"
"I'm fine! There's nothing wrong" Steven was determined to prove that he was alright. That everything that was happening to him could just erased through sheer willpower. However, this only lasted for about a minute longer before he completely collapsed onto the ground.
"Steven" Jake yelled as he ran to help his brother with the rest of the group. They all helped him up and brought him over to the chairs before giving him water and energy drinks.
"Argh, just a bad run" Brian said "Happens to everyone. One time, I was running around the block like I usually do and I just lost all my energy. I had just started and I was already tired, what's with that?"
"How did I do? How long was that?"
"Well ..." Brian started
"Sorry, Steven" Sandra said "I messed up and didn't activate the program which means we weren't measuring your progress. But we can still do the experiment without it, we'll just substitute what you did with Jake's results" She gave a stern look to Brian which clearly said 'play along' before walking away.
Sandra was the next to get on the bike and successfully employed a slow and steady ride and ended up actually beating Brian in generating energy.
"Huh, what happened to all that "boys are stronger than girls" and "It's unfair"" Brain asked, completely blown away at how she beat him.
"I never said boys were stronger than girls and if I had known you were going to use up all your energy I wouldn't have worried" she said with a sly smile
Everyone had a ride on the bicycle and by the end the had a computer full of data results which Steven processed and calculated along with Jessica. After finishing he printed everything out and stapled it together before resting once again on the chair. He was still saw from that short ride on the bike, he really did have the shrinking virus, didn't he? Sandra walked over and picked up the stapled wad of paper, flicking through it.
"So what does it look like? Any good news?" She asked
"Better than good. Amazing! The energy generation was off the scale, this could change the world!" He said excitedly
"That would be amazing if it wasn't for this mistake." she said, holding a page open for him to look and and pointing at a single equation he did."
"You cubed the results when you weren't suppose to. That's why all the numbers seemed so large. We have to redo all the equations past this mistake"
"Crap" he said, closing his eyes and laying back on the chair. "Such a stupid mistake"
"Yeah, well, we all make them." Sandra said as she started redoing all the equations on the computer.
By the end of the session they had finished all the results and were ready to hand in their papers to the professor during next class. Brian decided to take everyone out for lunch as Jake was the "Loser" and he didn't want a child to pay. This was of course false as Jake produced far more energy than Steven even though he didn't know it. Jake didn't know it but soon he would be much stronger and fitter than Steven and inevitably end up much larger as well.