May's Short Story Contest - "Must-Read-Minis: The Incredible Shrinking Story"

"Within An Inch"

Joed Jackson

“Holy shiitake!” said I—and by shiitake I meant to say succotash. Because I wouldn’t say shiitake—but this is some serious shi—stuff. What the hell just happened? This chair smells like—never mind, not going to say it.

The fan whirring within the computer tower swirled and roared like a cyclone. It drowned out every other noise—even my voice—but its hollow, unyielding, cavernous maelstrom forced me into conscious realization of . . . reality? Spinning about I took in what my senses could give me but they must be lying, this cannot be so.

Pop quiz buddy, I’m half the size of Dennis Hoppers good thumb. How in the crazy world could this be happening to me? Well, Trump is running for president, relatively speaking this isn’t that strange.

Ok, seriously, take stock. Don’t panic any more than you already are. Oh jeez, I think I’m gonna throw up. Breathe, buddy, breathe. The computer is still there—obviously—blue and red LED’s like winking luminous orbs, that damn fan is hindering my ability to remain calm—why is it so loud? And that broken USB port—why it’s absolutely cavernous. No help there. What’s on the screen, what’s changed? I can’t see the screen. Maybe If I head over to the edge of the chair I will be able to see it better. Maybe not, this cheap cubicle reject chair fabric is waxy-slick and those foam rounded edges don’t inspire me at all.

“Hello? What the hell is going on here?”

What was that? I froze bodily, trembling from within. Was that a bark? The dog! Oh no. He looks so far-off. His head looks more like a great fuzzy white boulder, but it’s in his usual spot—the living room couch. Has he noticed me? No. Good.

“Oh nuts!” A colossal terror took hold of me; nearly collapsing I realized that the wife will be home in just a few minutes.

“She is gonna be pissed!” I whispered the words desperately—hoarsely. I have got to get out of here. How am I going to get off this chair? Think. No, really think—and don’t do anything stupid!

Okay, I can see the desk pretty good. Well not really, I can see its edge well enough. But those cubbies under it are a mess, the wife is right, I have clutter issues. The book totes are there against the wall, like stacks of misshapen skyscrapers. Man, I can’t be any taller than one of those book bindings, what is that, an inch—maybe 3 centimeters? This is so weird. Can I fly, I wonder? Don’t be stupid, not gonna try.

Oh snap, duck! And I did. That damn dog. Why is everything so loud—the fan, the dog barking—why? What is it this time, the mail man? Or maybe it’s Mrs. Gellerson, taking her mutt for a walk? I don’t care. I’m one inch tall. I have—here it comes—bigger issues to deal with.

I need a plan. What are those three steps again? Survive. Stabilize. Succeed. Oh hell—and I thought they sounded dumb when applied to finance. Hmm, this fabric isn’t too bad out away from my butt-imprint. It’s tufty like bunched crabgrass in faded blue and it clumps nicely. Okay, that’s something, now I need priorities.

I have to get some cover lest the dog decides I’m lunch. That thing eats before he looks and that

is no longer a cute little quirk. I suppose I could hide under the wicker-stand. It’s only a meter from me. How vast it seems now, like a boundless square mountain of woven wicker, the carpet below is a swirled sea of peppered beige.

Crawling on my hands and knees I approach the seat edge. “Woof—that’s a long way down.” My new Elvis slippers (they’re blue, it’s just a nick-name) they could break my fall. Let me see here, that’s about an eighteen inch drop. At my present stature one inch is roughly six feet, multiplied by a foot and a half is a hundred feet, give or take. Even if I bounced that’s a ten story drop—equivalent. My weight would drop exponentially relative to my size reduction so leaping and landing may be more fantastic than expected but I aint no guinea pig.

I could use my clothes as a make-shift parachute. Yeah, that would work. I looked down and gave myself a-once- over.

“Where are my clothes?” I blurted out. I ducked instinctively, not out of embarrassment, but out of fear the dog might have heard me. He was silent, only the vortex computer fan was blasting away incessantly. I remembered that my clothes were on the couch.

I wonder what will be harder to explain. How and why I am one inch tall or why I was sitting at the computer naked? Even money—both are completely beyond my ability to rationalize.

I felt dizzy. Blackness whooshed over me like a spectral tsunami. I began to drift—fade. What is happening to me? I wanted to cry out and shriek in terror but I only collapsed, grappling for every breath. The dim-witted, off white sky, a tacky popcorn texture—was unbearable. I clenched my eyes shut, overwhelmed by sadistic fate.

I jolted up, roused by sounds of the wife bringing in the groceries. My heart was racing; I was drenched in sweat like I’d just had a swim. I was me—the big, all, full, complete, proper sized me.

“Honey, there are more things in the car. Are you wasting time again?” My beautiful, sex-goddess bride dragged in the weekly supply of toilet paper, chicken pot pies, and organic produce. At five-foot- two I really couldn’t call her short—not anymore.

Oh, thank God! It was just a short story contest. That was scary as hell. I mean I really thought that was it, I mean succotash—and by succotash I mean holy shiitake!