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Eric glanced at his phone as it flickered to life. 2:13AM. He sighed, and flipped the device over, before picking up his controller from the couch.

"One more round," he mumbled, hooking his headphones around his earlobe as the television screen blinked a few times. Eric ignored the news reports that flashed across the screen as he changed the inputs; he had heard about the shrinking phenomenon already to pay any more attention to it. Smiling as the start menu loaded across the plasma, Eric hopped back onto the couch, sinking into an indentation created from hundreds of hours of gaming in the same seat.

He leaned forward as the next wave of virtual monsters spawned, grabbing a handful of chips and crunching on them before jumping back into the fight. A pair of energy drink cans sat crumpled on the edge of the coffee table, a thin ring of condensation gathered around them, soaking into the oaken surface. The darkened room flashed a myriad of colors as Eric blasted, dismembered, and vaporized his digital foes.

A wave of dizziness flooded over Eric, and he set the controller down, taking his head into his hands. "Shit, too much caffeine," he groaned, picking the controller back up before his character was slain for standing around. His reflexes seemed off, like the controller didn't fit right in his hands. His fingers felt numb, the buttons becoming more and more resistant to his muscles as he tried to shoot and jump.

Growling in frustration, Eric determined to finish his match. He scooted forward on the couch, his elbows resting squarely on his knees as he leaned closer to the television. Just two more waves before he was done...

Another wave of nauseating vertigo swept over Eric, and the controller clattered to the hardwood floor. He tried to stand up, but his legs were rubbery and limp. Eric reached for his phone, but as he grabbed the plastic case, he paused. His phone wasn't this big, it was like a tablet in his grasp! Eric's mind raced as he attempted to process what he was seeing, but the room around him was spinning like a carousel, and his consciousness began to slip away from him. Before he blacked out, he pulled himself towards the coffee table, collapsing onto the floor with a dull thud.

Eric groaned as he regained his senses. He rubbed his forehead with the palm of his hand, trying to quell the jackhammer pounding within his skull. Sitting up slowly, his heartbeat began to quicken as he realized what happened. The towering furniture around him was a dead giveaway: he had shrunk!

"Okay, Eric, just gotta keep calm..."

The floor shook gently as a door slammed in the other room, startling Eric to his feet. Dull footsteps began to approach, sending Eric into a panic. Fearing being crushed, he darted towards the coffee table, hugging the wooden leg as a pair of jet black heels walked into view. The dampened thuds transformed into a loud clicking as the slender legs moved closer to the table.

"She's home early," Eric mumbled, recognizing a small butterfly tattoo on the woman's left ankle. The ankle belonged to Susie, his aunt and current roommate of circumstance. He glanced up her leg, following the tanned skyscraper up to the hem of her skirt, and along the length of his aunt?s waitressing uniform. Eric covered his ears as her deafening voice tore through the air.

"Eeeeriiiic! You home?"

The monolithic heels stomped a few inches from the table leg that Eric cowered behind, making him jump back a bit in fright. The hardened leather sole could easily crunch his bones to dust if he was unlucky enough to end up underneath his aunt, a thought that sent shivers down his spine. The many horror stories on the news swam through his mind, tales of tiny people being crushed by their unsuspecting families immediately after they shrank. His eyes never left the heels as they maneuvered in front of him, twisting and pacing back and forth.

"Where is that kid?" Susie muttered to herself, rummaging through her purse for her phone. Pulling it out, she tapped on the screen several times, then held it to her ear.

Brrt!

Eric's neck jolted upwards as the wooden canopy above him vibrated, followed by an exasperated sigh from his aunt as she slumped into the couch. The smooth tan legs crossed in front of him, one heel dangling idly about the height of Eric's head. He slowly walked out from under the coffee table, peeking up towards his aunt. She sat with one arm crossed over her stomach, the other holding her phone up in front of her face as she scrolled down the screen.

Slowly, Eric inched his way towards Susie's heel, lurching back each time her foot shifted or twitched. Taking a deep breath, he sprinted out from under the table, heading full steam ahead towards the massive heel. At no more than two inches tall, the short gap between table leg and pointed shoe was a decent run for Eric, his lack of physical exercise already beginning to show. by the time he reached the leather wall of Susie?s heel, several drops of sweat were rolling down his face, his cheeks flushed red from exertion.

Wasting no time, Eric tried to scramble up onto the smooth surface of the heel. The leathery material offered little friction, but Eric managed to climb onto the lip of the rubber sole, scooting his way with his stomach pressed against the side of the heel until he reached an opening. The low cut design of Susie?s footwear provided Eric a chance to pull himself up higher, collapsing on top of her foot as he gasped for breath.

Susie felt a slight tickle on the top of her left foot, just above her toes. She twitched her foot reflexively, distracted by her phone as she scrolled through her apps. The tickling subsided for a moment, then returned once again, working its way up the pinnacle of her foot and closer to her ankle. Susie grumbled, and clicked her phone off, bending down to see the source of the annoyance. She half expected to see an ant crawling on her skin, probably attracted by the soda and snacks that Eric had lying around the apartment.

Eric felt the ground beneath him quake, and looked up to see his aunt leaning down. Finally, he had her attention! He raised his arms above his head and flailed wildly, the sweat stains under his armpits visible as he hopped up and down.

?Aunt Susie! Down here!? He shouted, arcing his arms back and forth above his head. His hopes surged as his aunt began to lean down, her brown eyes squinting as she leaned towards her feet.

?She?s gonna see me,? he mumbled to himself, grinning. ?She has to.?

Susie saw him alright. Even at his small size, the tiny outline of her nephew was unmistakable. Her heart skipped a beat, as her brain tried to comprehend what she was seeing.

?Eric? Is that you down there?? She cupped her hands on her cheeks, a wave of worry filling her mind. How was she going to take care of him? He certainly wasn?t much help around the house at full size, but now he?d need more attention because of his size. A darker thought lingered in her mind, but Susie pushed it to the back burner as she reached down, gently plucking her nephew up between her thumb and forefinger.

Eric grunted as the colossal digits clamped around him. The pads of his aunt?s fingers covered over half of his body, and even though he was sure she was trying to be careful, her grip felt like it would cave his ribs inwards if she used another ounce of strength.

?Oh my gosh baby, what happened?? Susie held her fingers over her other hand, depositing Eric into her waiting palm. she held him up before her face, her eyes crossing slightly as she focused on the small boy.

?I?m not sure!? He shouted, cupping his hands over his mouth. Hopefully she could hear him, but it was worth trying. ?I passed out last night, and woke up small like this. You have to get help!?

Susie couldn?t understand what Eric was saying, his voice too quiet for her to distinguish his words. She figured he was trying to answer her question, and she caught the word ?help? at the end. In her mind, she knew there was nothing she could do; the world?s best scientists had yet to solve the mystery of the shrinking virus, let alone develop a vaccine or cure for it. At the moment, Eric was permanently stuck at just under two inches tall, and there was nothing she could do to help.

?Sweetie,? she said softly, her strawberry tinted breath washing over her hand as she spoke. ?I know you?re probably scared, but there?s nothing anyone can do about being tiny right now. You know that!? She stood up, and walked towards the kitchen, her heels clacking on the floor. Her hand cupped around Eric, fearful that he wouldn?t survive a fall from that height at his current size.

Eric couldn?t see anything below Susie?s neck, her fingers fenced around him. He watched the expression on her face morph from one of concern, to curious, to puzzled. He wondered what was going through her head, when he felt the hand beneath him tilt backwards.

?You wait here, Eric,? Susie said as she placed her nephew on the edge of the counter. She bent down and removed her heels, stretching her toes out on the cool wood floor.

?Ooo, that feels good, my feet are killing me.?

Eric crossed his arms in front of his chest and scowled. How was she not giving him the attention he needed in a time like this?! He waved his arms to get Susie?s attention, who lowered her ear down to the counter to listen.

?Susie, I need to go to the hospital now! There?s got to be something they can do to fix this!? He shouted, his voice carrying a tone of annoyance. ?Your stupid feet can wait, I need help now!?

Susie groaned, and stood up straight, her chocolate hair whisking down over her shoulders. She scooped up Eric, and held him closer to her mouth, her lips uncomfortably close to his tiny body.

?I said no, and that?s final.? She barked, causing Eric to cover his ears at the deafening booms of her voice. ?One more word about going, and so help me I?ll...?

Eric began to shout, stomping his foot in protest. ?You can?t just keep me here, I deserve to see a doctor!?

Susie didn?t quite make out what he said, but she witnessed his little tantrum, and had enough. Without another word, she crouched down towards the floor, her uniform stretching taut against her rear to accommodate her curves. She moved her hand over her heel, and tilted her palm slowly, until it was vertical.

Eric wedged his hands around his aunt?s finger, hanging on for dear life as the incline of her palm grew steeper every second. Soon, he was hanging from his arms, the insole of Susie?s heel waiting below for his eventual descent. His muscles burned, unaccustomed to bearing his entire body weight for any length of time. His grip began to weaken, and he could feel his palms beginning to slip, when Susie gave her hand a gentle shake. It wasn?t much, but the combination of his poor physical condition, the sweat, and her quick shake were enough to send Eric falling towards the black insole.

Susie watched as her tiny nephew landed in the center of her insole, his minuscule limbs sprawled out around him. She stood back up, bracing one arms against the side of the counter as she rose up to her full height once more. Her foot lifted up from the floor, the doughy sole leaving behind an outline of perspiration. She hovered her foot over the heel, letting Eric get a panoramic view of the bottom of her foot.

?I told you, Eric,? she chided, ?there?s nothing anybody can do about being shrunk right now, so you?re just going to have to wait! Now, I said my feet were sore, so you?re going to help with that. Think of it as punishment for talking back to your aunt.?

Eric was repulsed by the strong odor coming from within Susie?s heel, and cringed in disgust as he heard her words. He tried to stand, but the sky above him darkened as Susie?s sole began to wriggle its way into the heel, slowly blocking out all light. The smell instantly grew worse, as the source returned to replenish the sweat evaporating from the moist insole.

Eric scooted on his back, trying desperately to escape the encroaching foot. He almost made it to the toe section before a thick, pudgy digit plowed into his face, knocking himself flat on his back. His chest and face were smeared along the underside of her toes as Susie slipped her foot the rest of the way into her heel, and he felt his body pinned under the ball of her foot.

Susie scrunched her toes a few times, trying to situate her shoe?s new passenger in just the right spot. She could feel his tiny limbs wiggling between her toes, a gentle and welcome sensation to her sore foot.

?That?s a little better, Eric. Keep it up and I?ll let you out after lunch. Maybe.?

The heat around Eric was incredible. Sweat covered every inch of him, soaking his clothes and dripping onto his face. He sputtered as the salty liquid splashed his tongue, leaving a bitter and dusty taste in his mouth. He wretched as the bottom of his aunt?s toes curled, mashing into his face and pressing the back of his head firmly into the insole. Sweat pooled around the indentation made by his skull, and Eric could feel his ears clogging with Susie?s perspiration. He flailed vigorously, pounding his fists against anything he could reach. IT seemed to have the opposite effect though, as his aunt responded by squeezing her toes harder, pressing the air out of his tiny lungs.

Susie walked back to the couch, and flopped her butt onto the center cushion. She crossed her legs, the shoe holding her nephew hostage dangling in the air. His weak struggles seemed to increase as some of the weight was lifted off him, so Susie leaned back and enjoyed the massage.

?Mmm... keep that up, Eric, and I might even save some lunch for you.? She closed her eyes, her mind quickly drifting off to sleep after a long shift at work. At least she had someone to rub her feet today, a pleasant change from the past eleven years...
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