A sturdily built twelve-year-old girl with dark blonde hair entered the living room of her mother's home, and asked: "Mom, can we get a shrunken man as a pet?"
The mother set her electronic tablet on her lap. "Vorena, we can't afford one. I'm a single mother, and your Dad doesn't really contribute to our finances."
"But some of the girls at school own one, a couple of the popular girls own several of them!"
Vorena's Mom used a remote control to turn on a video. "Watch this video, it will help you understand more about the world we live in."
The large monitor mounted on the living room wall sprang to life, and the video played.
"About a dozen years ago," the narrator of the video began, "a group of people from an alternate reality known as the reality trekkers arrived on our planet, and they shared their immense technology with us. They taught us the most efficient way to build nuclear fusion reactors, force field generators to protect soldiers during war, and rocket propulsion technology that finally allowed us to put men on Mars.
"Out of the dozens of miraculous devices they taught us to build, none were as popular as the neutrino dissimilator. It can decrease the size, weight, volume and mass of atoms by stripping the quarks, gluons and electrons of matter in the form of neutrinos. When used as a home security measure, neutrino dissimilators render the victim immortal, so they no longer need food or water, and they stop aging. With our current economy, the average family can expect to pay no more for a neutrino dissimilator than they would for a brand new family car.
"Laws in the United States needed to be changed. The constitution was modified so that criminals could be sold and purchased as toys, and the owners are now free to do with them as they please. A law known as the stature statute was enacted that allows people to use their home security system to be equipped with neutrino dissimilators, and any intruders who get miniaturized are yours to keep indefinitely in some states. You should check the laws in your state to see how specifically the stature statute affects you as a consumer."
Vorena's Mom turned off the monitor. "So you see? When I was your age, there was no such thing as miniaturization. But even though we can't afford a shrunken man right now, our home security system is equipped with neutrino dissimilators, so if an intruder ever breaks in, I'll let you keep them! That’s one good thing I can say about your father, he bought us a top of the line security system with a built in neutrino dissimilator.”
"I'll go over to my friend's house," said Vorena. "Her older sister might know of a way I can acquire a captive."
"That's a good idea!" said Mrs. Ardent. "But don't get home too late, it's Friday, and we're going on a trip to the coast tonight, and we won't be back until Sunday."
Vorena exited the home, and made her way down the street to her friend Bristol's home. She rang the doorbell, and the intercom lit up with Bristol's face. "Identify yourself!"
"Come on in, Vorena!"
Vorena entered the home, which was much more spacious than her own home. Bristol was the same age as Vorena, and her older sister was a freshman in high school. Both Bristol and her sister were playing with their shrunken captives.
"Brianna, can you help me out?" Vorena asked.
"With what?" Brianna asked.
"I want a shrunken man, but my Mom says we can't afford one. Do you know of any ways to get one for free?"
"You can check the personal ads online," Brianna replied, "but you can't officially own one of them, it's more of an agreement. I wouldn't recommend it, though."
"Why not?" Vorena asked.
"Ninety percent of the guys wanting to be shrunk are looking to be owned by teenage boys," said Brianna. "It's difficult to find a heterosexual man who is looking for a female owner.
"Can't I go on the dark web and advertise my blog?" Vorena asked. "We're going away on a trip, and I already wrote about it on my blog. If some criminals find out nobody will be home this weekend, they might try to break into my house this weekend, and our home security system will shrink them.
"I can let you do that on my computer," said Brianna.
Vorena got on Brianna's laptop and went to a chatroom on the dark web and made a post showing when her and her mother would be going on vacation, and when the house would be vacant.
“Be sure to advertise an older version of the home security system you have,” said Brianna. “That way, the newer version you have will catch them by surprise.”
“Thanks for the advice, Brianna,” said Vorena, and she did as the older girl suggested. After about an hour, Vorena was done and went home.
When Vorena got home, her mother was already packed for their trip. Vorena's suitcase was ready, too.
While Vorena and her mother were riding in their car heading to the airport, a couple of low-lifes who read Vorena's message on the dark web had been waiting for the Ardents to leave, so they could rob the home. Curtis Sey directed his friend Neil Krall to one of the windows. They had burglary tools, and planned to de-activate the security system
Curtis thought he had de-activated the security system, but after they crawled inside, a neutrino dissimilator fired on them, reducing them to about a centimeter tall, instantly. The window they had climbed through shut automatically, trapping them inside the home.
"I thought you knew how to disarm this kind of security system!" said Neil.
"The message on the dark web said it was an earlier version," Curtis replied, "this system is newer."
"So what are we going to do now?" Neil asked.
"We just have to wait for the owners to return," Curtis replied, "that neutrino dissimilator made us effectively immortal, so we won't need food or water until they return."
Meanwhile, while riding in their car, Vorena's mother received a text from her vehicle's automated system that was linked to her home security system.
"We have to go back," said Mrs. Ardent.
"What is it, Mom?" Vorena asked, feigning ignorance.
"Our home security system just notified me that two people just broke into our house, and the neutrino dissimilator miniaturized them."
"Really?" Vorena asked, trying to mask her joy.
"It looks like you're going to get a shrunken captive after all!"
"Just one?" Vorena asked. "I thought you said there were two of them?
"Yes, there were two," Mrs. Ardent replied as she re-programmed her car's destination on the navigation console. "You can have both of them, I was just using a figure of speech."
Before long, Vorena and her mother were back in the driveway of their home. They got out, and headed toward the front door while Mrs. Ardent used her keychain to automatically lock their car door. When they went inside, they were quick to close the front door so the shrunken intruders couldn't escape.
"Home security system," said Mrs. Ardent, "locate shrunken intruders!"
There was a large monitor on the wall of the living room, the same monitor that Vorena watched the video earlier showing the history of neutrino dissimilators. An infra-red scan of every room in the home showed the centimeter tall intruders cowering beneath the couch, not far from Vorena.
"Well, there they are, kiddo! It's your job to capture them! I'll get a jar. I cooked spaghetti the other night, I saved the jar the spaghetti sauce came in, I'll go call the police and retrieve it right now."
The two tiny trespassers were no match for the sturdily built adolescent, and soon found themselves tightly clenched within Vorena’s firmly clenched fists; one of them in her left hand, and the other in her right. Vorena lifted one of them over her mouth and prepared to drop him in, when her mother returned with the empty jar.
“Vorena, no!” Mrs. Ardent said assertively. “We have to take them and register them at the court house! But first, the police will be here in a couple of minutes to make a report. The crime rate is so low now that criminals can be reduced and sold at auction, so the police basically have next to nothing to do these days.”
The police officer arrived and observed the captives, ensuring that they were safe. He had Mrs. Ardent sign a digital clipboard, and she took a photo of the case report number, then the police left.
“We have to get to the courthouse before it closes,” said Mrs. Ardent. Vorena followed her mother to the car.
“Does this mean our trip to the coast is canceled?” Vorena asked.
“We couldn’t make the flight now any way, now that all of this has happened.” Mrs. Ardent told Vorena as she got into the driver’s seat. Vorena got in on the passenger side, carefully holding the glass jar containing the captive criminals. “This is more important than some little vacation to the coast.
Once they were on their way, Vorena asked, “How is all of this legal, Mom? I mean, all they did was break into our house. How can we keep them as pets now, indefinitely?”
“When shrinking technology was introduced,” Mrs. Ardent replied, “people wanted a reason to acquire captives. Within two or three years, the constitution was modified to allow serious criminals to be miniaturized and purchased as pets.”
“But what about burglars?” Vorena asked. “That doesn’t seem serious enough.”
“I was getting to that,” Mrs. Ardent replied. “When all of the most dangerous criminals were miniaturized and sold, legislation was passed that made criminals with less serious offenses eligible for being miniaturized and kept as pets.”
“That’s so cool!” said Vorena. “I just have one regret about all of this!”
“What regret?” Mrs. Ardent asked.
“I wish shrinking technology would’ve been introduced when you were my age, Mom! Then you could’ve had captives just like me.”
The car pulled into the parking structure behind the courthouse, and Mrs. Ardent and Vorena got out and headed into the courthouse building. Vorena was carefully clutching the captive criminals who stood about one centimeter tall.
They entered the building and a guard directed them to the room they needed to go to. An older man was sitting behind a huge desk with electronic tablets strewn everywhere. When Mrs. Ardent caught his attention, he stood up and reached across the desk and shook her hand.
“I’m Jacob Cavendish, I’m the court official who deals with the acquisition of new captives. How exactly did they come into your care?
Mrs. Ardent explained the break-in, and read off the report number on her smart phone given to her by the police officer. Mr. Cavendish suggested a more secure container, so Mrs. Ardent purchased it and Vorena put her two shrunken criminals inside. Within five minutes, Mrs. Ardent and Vorena were heading back to the car, as the legal owners of Neil and Curtis. The destinies of the would be burglars had taken an unexpected turn, and they now found themselves the property of a titanic twelve-year-old!
To Be Continued!