Bad day for ShoppingBy BranfordSteve walked through the discount store, his eyes eagerlysearching for a bench to sit down on. From behind him,someone tugged his shoulder. Steve turned.

"Just wait, all right? I'll only be a few minutes" It wasSandra, his girl of seven months.

"Stay with me, c'mon I need help picking out shoes"Steve turned to the bench, then back to Sandra.

"Listen, I'm beat. I'll be right over there. Hold them upwhen you find them and I'll be able to see it from overthere, okay?"Sandra's look of anticipation turned sour.

"Fine, I'll shop by myself. Don't bother waiting at all.

I'll be fine"Sandra turned and started in the opposite direction, leavinga slightly puzzled Steve standing at the store entrance.

After a moment she disappeared into the crowd. Steve sighedand began towards a distant bench, which at the moment wasempty. He quickened his pace.

A girl dressed in black sat down in the bench before Stevecould make it. He sighed again, hoping to have had the benchto himself.

Steve sat down beside the girl. She was no more than 22years old. Steve found it strange that she would be wearingblack (and so much of it) on a summer day like this one.

After a moment the girl stood and looked at Steve. Stevelooked at her expectantly. Did he know her? He didn't thinkso.

"Sorry, she said. I thought I knew you"Steve leaned forward, his elbows sliding onto his knees.

"Don't think so"The girl looked around the mall for a moment.

"A lot of big people around, huh?"Steve stared at the girl. What was she talking about?"Sorry?""A lot of big people. Look at them, so many of them areoverweight, don't you think?""I suppose", Steve said.

"Too much fast food"Steve nodded, trying to be polite. The girl was attractive,yes, but Sandra could barrel through the racks of clothingat any moment. That wouldn't be good.

"Well...bye", she said.

The girl strolled away. Steve watched her, completelyconfused at what had just happened.

He leaned back and mulled her over in his head, all thewhile aware that he had at least twenty minutes until Sandrawould be finished.

"My ass is going to be mush from sittin' here", he mutteredto no one in particular.

Steve looked around at the various shops; shoppers of onekind of another populated almost all of them.

His eyes stopped outside the entrance of a bookstore when hesaw that the girl in black hadn't truly left, but watchinghim from a distance. Steve turned behind himself, convincedthat she was looking beyond him to someone else entirely.

The girl continued to watch him, her expression remainingneutral - no smile, no frown, just - staring straight aheadlike she was watching paint dry.

"Steve!"Steve turned. It was Sandra's voice. From beyond the racksof clothing, he saw her head protrude then her arms raiseinto the air, holding a pair of leather sandals. She lookedat him expectantly.

Steve nodded, barely noticing the shoes, mouthing the words"they're great!"Sandra's head quickly disappeared once again. Steveimmediately turned back towards the young girl, but she hadvanished.

So had all the people as a matter of fact.

* * *Why was he on the floor? Steve picked himself up, hopingthat no one had seen him fall. He didn't remember falling,that was the thing. Did I just faint, he wondered. Once onhis feet, Steve immediately began to wobble. His kneesbuckled and he fell down a second time.

Shortly after, he vomited.

He remained on all fours for a moment or two, breathingdeeply all the while trying to consider what was happeningto him. There was an undeniable wind that seemed to havepicked up and seemed to originate from different directions.

Steve looked upwards and immediately felt nauseous again.

His spell of sickness could only mask his confusion at whathe had seen. The bench from where he had fallen had riseninto the air and now towered above him.

Loud thumping sounds clapped on the floor, reverberating theground beneath him - actually shaking it. This finally, wasenough to get Steve onto his feet. With his shirt stainedwith vomit, he slid in one direction then the other, tryingdesperately to get his bearings.

Then - Sandra's voice.

"Steven?"The sound grew closer. Steve shrank backwards, assaulted bythe new dimension of sound, air and space. Another breeze ofair blew towards him as he staggered to take in all beforehim.

The realization hadn't donned on him of course. He hadlooked up at the sound of the noise...he just hadn't lookedhigh enough.

Huge, sandal-wearing feet were approaching where he stood.

Sandra's voice called out a second time, this time with anoticeable lack of patience.

"Steven!"Steve fell on his ass and slid backwards to avoid her rightfoot that landed solidly on the ground and then proceeded toslide forwards toward him, positioning him within severalmeters (or centimeters, depending on perspective) of hergargantuan toes. He saw things from his new perspective andnoticed them to be completely different than how heremembered. This couldn't be Sandra. Her feet and legs hadbeen smooth and free of blemish, whereas the giantabomination that presently eclipsed his sight from all else,had dried, coarse skin, nothing like how he rememberedSandra.

Steve froze and craned his neck upwards. Sandra stood beforehim, more than seventy or eighty feet high by the looks ofit. Her huge shopping bag dangled from her fingers, swayingone direction then the other. Her feet spread apart indistance as she assumed a moderately less patient pose,folding her long arms across her chest, the shopping bagdisappearing high into the air.It was then that Steve sawher. It was the girl from earlier. She was motioning towardsSteve from nearby. She was reaching towards him with an openhand; a shopping bag rested in her other.

Her expression wasn't like the first time he had seen her.

That blank expression was now full of life. Her eyes werewide open and betrayed an element of excitement as she drewcloser to him.

"Steve, I'm not waiting for ever", Sandra's voice boomedfrom above.

Steve found himself drawing closer to the one thing he knew,even if it was presently out of reach. He grasped the edgeof Sandra's sandal and tried his best to maintain a grip.

As the young girl's enormous shadow loomed closer, Stevehugged Sandra's foot even tighter.

It was then that she began to move, to shift her weight. Atfirst the giant foot dragged him along with it, sliding hisbody belly down across the floor. He couldn't hold on forlong though and it wasn't more than a second or two that helost his grip and lay prone on the tiled, cold floor.

Sandra's left foot soon followed. It lifted above thediminutive Steve, but he lay still, confident that the footwould land beside him.

Steve misjudged.

Sandra's foot came down over him, and as it did, in themicroseconds that he had left to live, he wondered what itwas that had happened and whether he was the first. Sandra'sfoot sank on top of Steve, pulverizing his body, as shemoved away from the bench in a huff, checking her watch asshe walked away, stride after giant stride.

The giant girl stared downwards at the small bloody pulp,her once alive eyes now vacant and lifeless in appearance.

* * *Across from the bench and down at the rim of a mall garbagecontainer stood nine equally small people. They had watchedwhat had happened to the small, unfortunate man and insideeach of them, felt an enormous amount of pity and fear.

As each of them pondered their next move in this world ofgiants, no one seemed to muster the courage to ask theinevitable: would they be next?We see shoppers, dozens of them at every moment, crossingthrough the mall, stopping to talk, pausing to tie theirshoes, laughing, eating while they saunter here and there,examining the goods they have purchased.


We see the floor of the mall. From afar it looks clean,shiny and well managed. From this perspective however, wesee the remnants of an overly hurried public; the occasionalFrench fry, the extinguished cigarette and the discardedempty pack of matches that didn't quite make it to thegarbage can.

Closer still...

A group of people huddle close to one another. Some of themare shaking. Others remain still, staring downward at theoversized checker board pattern of the floor. This group ismuch smaller than the shoppers who lurk overhead, muchsmaller than much of the garbage casually tossed aside. Theentire group of them as a matter of fact, could be stored ina shoebox if it really came down to it...

One of them, a red-haired man, yells to the group, flailinghis arms about dramatically.

"He sure as hell was. He was standing pretty well rightbeside mefive minutes ago"Another man, still staring downward, raises his voice to beheard.

"I saw him shuffle off"The red head man looks exasperated.

"Shuffle off? How did he do that? Where was he going?""I'm not sure, but h-he started to wander, I assumed that heknew what he was doing"The red-haired man moves towards him and grabs hisshoulders.

"Listen to me what ever your name is. No one leaves thisspot. As soon as you do, you're opening yourself up to getcaught or hurt. Just stay here and together - we'll figurethings out"A woman spoke out, like the previous man, not daring to lookup from the floor.

"So does that mean he's gone, just like that? What happenedto him?"No one answers her.

* * *Russell (the man in question) knew he shouldn't havewandered.

It seemed like only a few feet at the time. What he quicklyrealized, was that other than the sound (that seemed to comefrom every direction), that you couldn't tell when one ofthe giants was upon you. It all happened too fast.

Now it was too late.

He had sensed a presence standing over him and in whatseemed a microsecond later, he was pinched between twoimpossibly huge fingers and was being hoisted high into theair. Things got dizzy for him as he was pulled into theempty space above him, so much so that his eyes felt likethey were going to roll completely back into his skull.

After the movement slowed, he focused his eyes on somethingthat sent shudders down his spine.

* * *"Where did you get loose from?" the young lady asked,smiling in astonishment. "From the pet store?"The man lay face up in her open palm, trying (she imagined)to focus on who she was. After a long moment of stillness,with him just lying there, staring at the giant girl, hebegan to panic, frantically squirming, almost as if it hadjust dawned on him what was happening.

The girl's fingers instinctively closed around the man andshe found herself laughing at how easily she could imprisonhim, preventing any hope of escape.

"Oh c'mon, you don't really want to go, do you?"He continued to struggle, banging and slamming his arms intoher fingers. This time she laughed harder before quicklylooking around, hoping that no one had seen or noticed. Thatwas just it, no one had. Everyone was too absorbed in theirown little world to care about what she was doing or whatshe was laughing about.

Traci, a nineteen-year-old employee of the mall, dangled theman from her hand, staring at him incredulously. She hadseen a lot in her brief lifetime, but nothing like this. Itnever for a moment occurred to her that this was in fact,one of the first times anything like this had ever happened.

She set the man onto the lap of her jeans, where he landedflat on his stomach, trying to hold on to her gargantuanleg.

Traci leaned forward, speaking to the man in a voicetypically reserved for a two-year old baby. She grinnedmaniacally.

"Are you going to come and keep me company at work today?"Traci stood, causing the man to slide forward into her hugesoft, fleshy hand. After a moment, she made her way backinto the store.

What would she do with him? She didn't really like anyoneelse in the storeenough to share him. Would he stay put or try to escape. Heseemed so helpless.

* * *As Traci walked into the store, she was watched carefully bythe girl in black.

* * *Traci walked into the store and greeted Tina, anotheremployee, who looked at her curiously.

"Whatcha' got there?"Traci walked back behind the till and put her belongings ona shelf underneath.

"Nothing. Don't touch my stuff, okay?"Russell stood on a shelf underneath the cash register thatfaced away from the customers in the store. After he hadfirst been set there and had been allowed to catch hisbreath, he marveled at the open space and at the thought ofan escape. What he soon realized, was that although he couldsee many openings, that few of them, if any, were feasibleto employ without getting hurt from the deep drop to thefloor.

The giant girl's purse was beside him, along with numerousother items from the staff at the store; nail polish, staplegun, paper clips etc. After investigating as thoroughly ashe could (given his small state), he stood at the ledge andonce again peered downwards.

Traci's huge pelvis would move to stand behind the registernow and again, eclipsing his view as she rang in a sale. Hersize was beyond his comprehension. Even if he did make thedrop downward, he could be crushed by her monstrous shoeswithout her even noticing.

All he could do was wait for what his captor had next inmind.

* * *Julie ripped at her business suit and continued to tryfreeing herself from her current predicament.

It had been over two hours now since she had been discoveredby the young couple, both of who were merciless In theirtorment, destroying several others before leaving her whereshe now found herself - stuck on the floor within a hugesticky glob of pink gum. The teenage boy was interested atfirst, but soon found the girls' torture boring. The girlhowever, was clearly excited by their torment and vowed toreturn, delighted that she could so easily imprison someonewith a piece of bubble gum. Julie doubted very much whethereither of them knew what they were doing.

* * *Lindsey pulled Chuck up the isle of the movie theatre.

"Let's go, it's over"Chuck followed behind her, prying from her grasp.

"I gotta go, you know? I told you"Lindsey turned.

"No you don't. You have to help me look for more of them!"Chuck smiled.

"You're a mean girl, you know that? What did those stupidlittle things ever do to you?"Lindsey grinned back at him.

"I'm not mean, they're probably not even real. I'm justhaving a bit of fun, c'mon!"Chuck stopped all together.

"Seriously, I gotta go. You have fun. I'll call you later,all right?"Chuck walked back down the isle and exited via the door nextto the screen.

Lindsey didn't even wait until he had gone before turningand hurriedly walking out the opposite direction, a devilishgrin on her face.

* * *Julie had given up. Both of her arms felt like rubber fromher exertion. No longer could she pull at freeing herself.

She sat, defeated, leaning towards the blob, not noticingthat as her hair made contact that it too became snarled inthe gums sticky hold. Julie struggled not to panic, knowingthat doing so would encase her even deeper than before.

After a brief moment, her peripheral noticed somethingmoving closer-something large. Julie turned her shoulderinto the soft gum, struggling to see what it was that mighthave discovered her. Perhaps someone that would takesympathy with her plight.

A shudder of horror ran up and down her spine when she sawthe giant Lindsey walking towards her. For a moment, sheforgot her current situation and once again began tostruggle to no avail. Lindsey grew closer and then squatteddown next to her, positioning Julie between her huge leathershoes. Julie struggled to look up at the giant girl and itwas at this moment when it occurred to her that she hadnever seen someone look so happy.

* * *It had been more than an hour since Traci had checked up onher tiny friend. Knowing that he was there waiting herreturn had made her boring shift all the more pleasant.

"I'm going on my break", she shouted to another employee,see you in twenty".

Traci bent down behind the register and grabbed her purse,careful that none of the other employees were watching.

After not seeing the man where she had left him, she beganto panic; pulling things out from the shelf and letting themfall onto the floor.

"Hey, some of that's my stuff"Barb, another employee walked up beside Traci, then bentdown next to her.

"Whadda you looking for?"Traci stood up and headed back out into the store.

"Nothing, never mind"She stopped for a moment and thought. How far could he havegotten?A hand fell on her shoulder.

"Miss? I'm going to need your help finding this in blue"Traci turned around, miffed that she was being interruptedwhile on her break.

"Yeah, I can help you, what did you say that -"Traci saw the man on the floor. He was out in the open andwasn't too far from the feet of the customer.

"I mean-how do those fit?"The woman looked down at the pants she was wearing; notnoticing the pint sized man who scurried behind the heel ofher panty-hosed foot.

"Oh, they fit fine, I'd just like to see them in blue - ormaybe green?"Traci knelt at the feet of the woman and tugged gently atthe fabric.

"You know, I think these are too loose"The woman stared down at her.

"You think so?"Traci spied the diminutive Russell behind the woman'smassive foot, then looked up into her eyes, lowering hervoice.

"Yeah, I do. You've got a great body, you should wearsomething tighter"The woman smiled down at her.

"Okay, I'll trust you. Do you have any other colors though?"Traci nodded, still on the floor.

The woman turned her head towards the change room and beganto spin her shoulders away from Traci.

Traci grabbed at the small man, but missed.

"Can you bring a smaller pair over to the change room? I'llundress and wait for you"The woman's left foot knocked Russell forward, breaking mostof his ribs, sending him rolling ahead on the rough carpet.

Russell came to a stop, but only long enough to inhale asthe woman's panty-hosed foot descended towards him. In amoment it was over. The woman crushed his body flat andproceeded onwards towards the change room. Once she reachedit, she turned and looked back to Traci who was still on herknees a distance away.

"Can you get me the pants now, I'm kind of in a hurry"The woman opened the change room and stepped inside, unawareof the pulp still partially stuck to the bottom of her foot.

Eleanor couldn't make up her mind either way. Square on, thepants looked fine, but if she turned around; her ass didn'tlook as good as she thought it should. She sighed loudly andput her hands to her hips.

From outside of the change room, a voice called to her.

"How do they fit?"Eleanor craned her neck over the rim of the change room. Itwasn't the girl from before, but help from anywhere was whatshe needed right now.

"They're all right, I suppose," she said opening the doorand turning around, "do you think they should come in at thebutt?"The attendant nodded.

"We could do that here and still have them ready for youtomorrow"Eleanor nodded. "That'll be fine"The attendant approached her and whispered.

"Ma'am, while you were in there, did you hear anything fromthe stall next to yours?"Eleanor wrinkled up her face.

"No, should I have? Why, what's the matter?""Nothing really, it's just that she's been in there overtwenty minutes now and she's got the door locked from theinside"Eleanor turned. This wasn't her problem.

"That's your department, I'm afraid. What time tomorrow forthe pants?"The sales attendant looked at the wealthy lady solemnly.

"Anytime after eleven"Eleanor shut the door to the change room and sighed a secondtime, exasperated. Once her ex-husband's divorce settlementcame in, she could afford tailors to come to her house andavoid the malls all together. For now, she'd have to settlefor her $400,000 a year.

Eleanor stepped out of the pants and promptly noticedsomething small wiggling around in the stall next to hers.

Never one to be afraid of mice or bugs, she lowered her headto get a better view.

What she saw took breath away.

An impossibly small, sobbing woman was crouched against theback wall of the changing room. After she stared for amoment, Eleanor's first reaction was to stand andimmediately look around, as if this was a joke being playedon her and her alone. Seeing nothing, she stooped a secondtime and stared, wide mouthed at the diminutive woman.

"Wh-what happened to you?"The woman was so petrified that she didn't see Eleanor atfirst, but instead looked upwards for the sound of hervoice. Eventually she looked over to see Eleanor's huge facepeering beneath the stall at her, hungry with curiosity.

"How did you - how did this happen?"The woman started inching herself away from Eleanor'senormous face. Eleanor continued to watch her, her face nowlooking concerned.

"Can I help you in anyway?"A voice was heard from overhead. It was one of the salesgirls.

"Ma'am, you're going to have to come out, I'm afraid. Thereare other customers waiting to use this room"Eleanor looked up at the shrunken woman's stall and saw thatthe door was being jostled lightly.

Eleanor turned back to the shrunken woman, watching for herreaction. There wasn't one really. She was completelyconfused at what was happening.

Just then a calm came over Eleanor's face as if she justthought of an idea. She didn't move or blink for about tenseconds.

Then-she slowly opened her free hand and reached under thestall. The small woman screamed a tiny scream but wasquickly overtaken by Eleanor's size and quickly enclosedwithin her giant hand.

"I'm going to take you somewhere else"* * *A small group had gathered next to an overhead waterfountain. Because of their size, many of them were beginningto lose their fear of being spotted. After all, they were sosmall that you'd have to be looking for them to actuallynotice anything.

An angry man was shouting to his three counterparts andgesturing towards the movie theatre.

"I'm positive it was her. She was the last thing I rememberseeing when this happened to me "She was tall. She waswearing a black skirt"Others nodded in agreement. The group stood still for amoment until the man decided to raise his voice again.

"We should find her", another chimed in.

The angry man who had been shouting, pointed into thedistance.

"See where that one is," he hyped, pointing to one of thegiant figures who stood relatively nearby, "she was sittingat one of the tables over there!"Another man stepped forward, still looking at the giantclosest to them. He was about to add his two-cents but thenstopped in his tracks, pointing his finger into thedistance.

"Wait a second. That girl, that girl --- I think she foundone of us -"The girl in question looked to be in her late teens. She wasbending down and tugging at something on the floor.

The entire group was frozen in fear. None of them wanted towatch, but they couldn't take their eyes from it either.

Eventually the giant girl in question raised her hands toher face and grinned.

"It's not one of us, it's a piece of gum! She stopped topick up a piece of gum she dropped"A sigh of relief moved through the group, none of themstopping to ask themselves why a girl would stop to pick upa piece of gum.

* * *Julie was in the agonizing position of having elastic piecesof sticky chewing gum roughly pulled off her body whilelying in the open hands of a ninety-foot teenager.

Lindsey stared down at the tiny one in her hands and grinnedwickedly at her. So many thoughts were running through herhead. It was three o'clock now, which meant somewherebetween nine and ten hours to play with this pathetic bugbefore killing and going to bed.

"Lindsey!"Lindsey dropped her hands and donned a guilty expression onher face.

It was Marcus, a friend from school.

"What's goin' on?"Lindsey sat on the bench but continued to hold Julie in herhand.

"Nothin', you?"Marcus flopped himself down beside her. Lindsey sighedheavily, wanting him to go away.

"Ditto"He looked over at her.

"Whaddya go there?""Nothing"He leaned forward and touched her knee.

"Lemme see, please?"Lindsey unconsciously lowered her hand by her side andallowed the tiny Julie to fall to the floor.

"Please?" he said again.

Lindsey thrust her open, empty hand in Marcus' face.

"See! Nothing! Satisfied?"Lindsey folded her arms, angry that Marcus, who still hadhis hand on her leg, wouldn't take the hint.

"So, wanna do somethin' tonight?""No actually, please leave so that I can -"Lindsey casually looked to the floor where the tiny womanshould have landed, but found nothing.

* * *Eleanor stepped inside the house and deactivated thesecurity system. It was almost three o'clock. She should behome by now.

"Alex?"No answer.

Eleanor walked through the room and gently took off herjacket before laying it carefully on the table.

After taking off her shoes, she picked up the jacket againand slowly inserted her hand inside one of the pockets.

"I'm home, come down, okay?"Eleanor twisted her face as she slowly withdrew her handfrom her pocket, her fingers carefully supporting the smallwoman. Eleanor looked at her closely, inspecting her, almostas if she still didn't believe what she had found.

"Are you home?"Her loud voice startled the figure in her hands. Eleanorturned and walked through a section of the enormous house.

Her daughter evidently wasn't yet home.

While she proceeded further through the ever-continuinghouse, an idea came to her.

Eleanor smiled to herself and for a moment forgot about theprisoner in her hand.

Her idea involved a box...

wrapping paper...

scotch tape...

...and a ribbon of some sort.

* * *Bill was wondering about a few things. Sure he was scared.

Sure he hadn't eaten anything even remotely nutritious inover ten hours, sure he was weak as a termite, but still,were his eyes deceiving him?When it first happened, it was an hour before he saw anyoneelse like him. After that, another hour went by beforespotting someone else. Together with the husband and wifethat he was currently traveling with, it had been a raremoment that they spotted anyone else their own size.

Yet, as the mall traffic began to die down, signaling theend of another day, he couldn't help noticing that he wasseeing more and more of his own kind every few minutes.

Judging by the fear in their eyes (he didn't always stop tochat - it was, after all, every man for himself), he'd guessthat some of them had just been shrunk and were still in the"I can't believe this has happened" stage.

Could it be happening more often?"What do you two think?"The couple turned to Bill, who stared at a young man in themiddle of the mall, frantically running one way and theother, trying to avoid getting squashed by the constantlymoving public.

"I agree", the woman said. Since 3:15, I've seen more thanthe last two hours alone.

Her husband nodded agreeably. "She's right. Not too manysmart ones either".

Across from the threesome, and some three hundred yardsaway, the young man they had been watching was run over by ashopping cart. His body twitched for a while and then wasstill.

The woman turned away, noticeably disturbed.

Bill turned away as well. Having seen it happen over andover again, didn't make it any easier to watch.

"So what should we do?"The married couple lowered their heads, the woman speakingfirst.

"Hell if I know. The mall has gotta be closing soon, right?"Bill nodded at the woman, then looked up into the air, wherea looming giant stood, unaware of their presence.

"I can't always even tell if they're man or woman, they'reso - big, you know?"The couple nodded their heads and backed away to the safetyand shelter of the overhead bench.

* * *Eleanor sat in the living room; her feet propped up on thecoffee table. In front of her feet and resting on a laceddoily, was a small gift box that was both impeccably wrappedas well as being color coordinated with the rest of theroom.

Eleanor sighed and glanced at her watch.

"Stupid girl, she said, nudging the present with her foot,doesn't deserve a present at all"Eleanor rose to her feet and proceeded to another area ofthe house, pouring herself a drink, then turning to headback from where she came.

In the background, she heard the alarm system being turnedoff and the closing of the front door.

"Alexandra?"There was no answer. Eleanor sipped her scotch and clearedher throat.

"Are you home or not?"From behind her, came the voice of her daughter.

"Looking for me?"Eleanor jumped at her voice and spun on her feet. Alex, atall girl, even for a nineteen-year-old, stood at thearchway to the living room. A girlfriend stood beside her.

"Don't sneak up on me like that?"The girls moved into the room. Eleanor stood in front of thepresent for a moment, not wanting her daughter to see it atfirst.

"No friends today, okay honey? Let's just the two of us fordinner, kay?"Neither of the girls spoke, but looked to one another,before starting to laugh.

"What's so funny?""Nothing Mother. Sandra wasn't here for dinner, just to pickup a tank top, don't be so anal, kay?"The two girls left the room. Eleanor turned around to seeher daughter.

"When you're done with your friend, come in here, I want toshow you something! Alex? Did you hear what I said?"Nothing.

* * *This wasn't happening. This is some drug, some joke. Thisdefinitely wasn't happening.

Seventeen year old Lindsey Welsh stood by the corner of thewall sobbing to herself. She was afraid to lift her headfrom what she had seen earlier.

It had to be a joke. It was almost poetic.

Cruel Lindsey who, only ten minutes ago, had squashed twoshrunken people she had found, and an hour earlierimprisoned a woman in a piece of her own chewing gum, nowfound herself roughly the same size as those who had mettheir death under her enormous leather shoe.

What was worse-someone was calling her.

Someone was calling her name from what seemed a greatdistance away. Given the events of the last day, the thingsshe had seen - THE THINGS SHE HAD DONE, she wasn't sure thatshe even wanted to look!Slowly, gradually she did, raising her face just an inch andpeering in the direction of the voice from between herfingers.

It was a group of what looked about five people. They werebeckoning her. Lindsey continued to sob, but surprisedherself by getting up to her feet.

It was hard to make out the words they were yelling. Shecould only pick out the odd phrases "be careful!, watchyourself" etc.

Lindsey judged their distance to be about a quarter thedistance of a football field away from her. She could makeit over there if she wanted, but what if they recognizedher? What then?She would have to chance it. Lindsey, unlike others, who hadfound themselves at a greatly reduced size and mass, knewimmediately what had happened to her. There was noconfusion. After all, she had become what she had tormentedonly minutes earlier.

Lindsey looked to her left and right, much like crossing abusy street way, then headed towards the group.

* * *"Okay, what's the big deal, huh?"Alex had walked into the room and plopped herself onto oneof the leather couches, stretching her long legs over theedge and searching for the remote control.

"Come here please"Alex didn't move.

"Susan, please tell my daughter to come to the table"A shorter woman (obviously hired help), looked up from herdusting and quietly said, "Honey, you're Mom wants you overat the dinner table"Alexandra looked up at Susan.

"Okay, but only cause you asked me, not cause she asked me"Alex got up and approached the kitchen table, which had beenlaid out quite nicely with an assortment of cheeses andcrackers.

Alex regarded the present, a grin appearing on her face.

"Well, I know after last night that there's no way that'sfor me, is there?"Eleanor turned to Susan, the cleaning lady.

"Susan, please excuse us for a moment"Susan left the room.

Eleanor was unable to suppress her grin. She would (andalways had) done anything for her only daughter.

"I don't know, maybe it is for you. Do you think you deservea present?"Alex looked at her. "Mom, I deserve the world on a plate andthen some"Eleanor took a small slab of cheese and put it in her mouth.

"Go ahead, sweety. I can't stay mad at you, you know that"Alex grabbed the box roughly, grinning, "I know you can't,how could you? Look at this face, right?"Eleanor took a sip of wine.

"Exactly, you're my weakness"Alex tore into the paper, not knowing of the fragile cargocontained within.

Eleanor watched expectantly. She loved giving peoplepresents, especially her daughter. When she had gotten pastthe paper, she looked at her Mom and shook the box.

"Careful, honey. I think it might be fragile"Alex wrinkled up her face.

"Why, what do you mean? Is it alive?"Her Mother continued to grin, but said nothing.

She tore open the lid of the box, being no more careful thanmoments earlier.

The exchange of looks between the giant girl and theminiscule woman was like a moment frozen in time. Alexandracontinued to stare, as if she were trying to convinceherself that she was real.

"I-I don't understand", she said, without looking up to herMom.

"What's to understand? She's yours"Alex continued to stare into the box, "Mine?"She set the box down then gently tipped it over, trying tojostle the woman free from the tissue paper and ribbons.

Eventually the woman tumbled out. Alex was visibly upsetthat she may have hurt the tiny woman.

"Mine?" she said again.

"All yours. Do whatever you want with her. I couldn't careless"Eleanor got up and kissed her daughter on the head.

Alex prodded the woman gently with her finger. The womangrabbed hold, as if to stop it from prodding her.

Alex laughed and looked to her Mom for the first time.

"Thanks Mom, it's-it's - I don't know what to say""You don't have to say anything. You deserve it"Eleanor leaned in over the woman, who was cowering next toAlex's huge finger.

"Be good to my daughter you little squirt," she saidlaughing, "otherwise she might squash you"The two girls laughed at the thought.

* * *"Wait a second, what are you people doing?" Lindsey askedthe group she had recently joined. All in all, there wereseven of them, including herself. Lindsey was stilladjusting to being somewhat smaller than usual, but hadn'tforgot how to be a sassy teenager.

Another woman turned to her as three of the men rushed intothe center of the tiled floor between their hiding place andthe now closed entranceway to the store.

"What does it look like we're doing? We're surviving"The woman turned to join the men, running to catch up tothem.

Lindsey stared in disgust at what she saw - they werepulling the discarded remnants of an ice cream coneunderneath the bench before the cleaning staff swept it up.

"You people make me sick. Tell me you're not going to eatthat - Tell me!"Another man turned to her.

"You may find yourself eating things you'd never thought youwould in a few days, trust me"Lindsey rolled her eyes "As if!"She plunked herself down onto the floor and pulled her kneesup to her chest. Things were quieter now, not as much foottraffic. She could relax a bit. From her vantage pointLindsey watched the group pull the partially crushed conetowards her. She wrinkled up her face at the sight.

Then it happened.

It happened quickly.

A black clogged foot, seemingly out of nowhere, steppedtowards the group. Large hands appeared, descending towardsthe six, most of who didn't yet know what was happening.

Lindsey craned her neck upward, higher then higher still. Itwas one of the mall employees - she recognized her - the petstore - that's right, she worked at the pet store!Many of the group began to scream as the girl in blackscooped them into her hands, grabbing, poking and slidingher captures into her awaiting grasp.

One woman (the one closest to Lindsay) held onto her fordear life. Lindsay, seeing that this woman would hinder herown chances at escape, pried her arms off of her own, thenshoved the woman - as hard as she could. Lindsay surprisedherself actually, by pushing her quite hard. The woman hitthe floor and slid a few feet before coming to a stop andsensing the presence above her. After a moment, she quicklybegan to claw her way back towards Lindsey and to the hidingplace, but the giant hands from above caught a hold of herfeet and lifted her high into the air with the others.

Lindsey watched the woman's face as she was dragged away.

Her face seemed to plead with Lindsay's, as if to ask forhelp.

Lindsey laughed at the woman then stepped back furtherbeneath the garbage container where she was sure not to bespotted and could still watch what else was happening.

The one man who DID manage to avoid the girl's first attempt(the one who had led the line to the ice cream cone) madethe mistake of running towards the girl's feet. The girl,unaware at this point, shifted her weight as she rose tostare at the faces and limbs that now protruded from herenclosed fists.

The giant girl in black looked down for others (Lindsey, atthis point, had moved to the opposite side of the litterbinand had been careful not to be spotted) and saw thepartially alive man wiggling from underneath her huge blackclog. Suspecting that he was already dead, she lifted hershoe slightly and dragged it across his body, smearing himinto the grooves of the floor.

It happened quickly - maybe fifteen seconds. It was overquickly as well. Before Lindsey could take stock of whathappened, she saw the towering girl walk away and around acorner.

She took a minute to compose herself. "Now what?" shethought to herself.

 "So, what does it do?"Eleanor looked her daughter in the eyes.

"What do you mean what does it do? It does - everything Iguess. Everything you want it to"The tiny woman clung to Alex's finger with all her might,waiting until she lowered her hand enough that she couldfinally let go and drop to the table top.

Alex's grin hadn't faltered for almost five minutes. Sheraised her hand above the woman and pointed her index fingerto that it was straight. After a second, she lowered herfinger so that it was above the woman's head. The womanraised her arms and grabbed the finger, attempting to stopits descent.

Alex laughed.

"It's sooo weak, Mom. I can't believe it!"Alex continued to gently push downward until the womancollapsed under its weight.

Her Mom got up from her chair and went to the fridge. "Ithink it's a girl"Alex nodded and lowered her face closer to the tiny woman.

The difference in size was amazing.

"Mom, look at this"Her Mom turned and smiled. The woman was so incredibly smallcompared to her daughter.

Alex laughed at the woman and lowered her face even closerthan before.

"Look, she's looking up my nose. Isn't that hilarious?"Her Mom smiled again, lighting a cigarette.

"You could fit inside my nose, couldn't you?"Alex laughed at her own joke.

"Honey, that's disgusting. I want you to be proper aroundthat thing, however long it lasts. I don't want it lookingup your dress"Alex rolled her eyes. After a moment she cupped her handsand pointed to them. The woman complied (what choice did shehave) and moved towards Alex's fleshy hand.

"Mom, it listens to me, look at this!"Eleanor glances over and smiled. She was already losinginterest. She knew her daughter well. It was only a matterof time until she lost interest as well.

"I'm taking her to my room"Alexandra walked up the spiral staircase to the secondfloor. From beneath her, her Mother's voice could be heard.

"Don't you want to play with it down here?"Alex continued up the stairs, taking them two at a time. Thetiny woman bounced in her open, cupped hands, jostlingconsiderably at her every step.

"No, I'm going to my room. You said it's mine, so no oneelse touches it, okay?"Downstairs Eleanor shrugged and looked to her hired help.

"Bring the kid a present and this is the thanks I get".

* * *"Look, I'm telling you, she was this huge girl dressed allin black and she just popped out of nowhere and grabbed thepeople - all of them. She was fast, she knew what she wasdoing and she didn't bat an eye when she stepped on one ofthem accidentally"Lindsay stood in front of a new group of shrunken people,explaining "her version" of what happened just hoursearlier.

A girl who looked her own age stepped forward.

"Was it someone you knew - the guy that got squished?Someone you knew?"Lindsay stopped short; feigning for a moment that sheactually cared about something or someone.

"Yes - yes, it was someone that I knew..."Several in the crowd whispered their condolences to Lindsayand continued to look at her sympathetically. She had tobite her lip from laughing out loud at the thoughts runningthrough her head. If these tiny people only knew that notmore than twelve hours ago, she had been one of the giantsthat they now all feared running in to. She hadn't just beena giant, she had been a cruel, merciless giant, who in thecourse of three short hours, had killed more than eleven ofthe tiny people without batting an eye.

Then again that was then, this was now...

Lindsay was the same as those who stood before her and shecertainly didn't need to be reminded of that.

"Well, what do you suggest?"A man spoke to Lindsay from within the crowd.

"Sounds like you've seen more than the rest of us, I mean,what extra precautions should we be taking?"Lindsey looked to the group of twelve or so people, "I thinkthe key is staying together, but knowing when to split up.

The choice of knowing when to be a group and when to scatterand run from your lives is - well, that's all thatmatters..."The crowd nodded in agreement, seemingly impressed byLindsay's guidance.

* * *The group bought into most everything Lindsay suggested.

They would take shifts keeping a look out. If they werespotted and had to flee, no one would scream, lest he or shereveal themselves to an as of yet, unknown public. Theywould share the food that they found a dozen ways, no matterhow small the portion was. Luckily, this hadn't been toomuch of a problem, quantity that is...

Quality was another story all together.

* * *It was four in the morning when someone gently nudgedLindsay's shoulder.

"Lindsay"Lindsay turned and woke, clearly annoyed.

"What the hell?"It quickly donned on her that it was one of the group,waking her for her patrol shift. Lindsay immediately becamefriendly.

"Oh - good morning""It's your turn to patrol. Every one else is still asleep""Yeah, yeah, of course"Lindsay stood and stretched her legs for a moment, thenturned to the man who had woken her.

"It's okay, I'm awake. Go back to sleep"The man tried to smile, then laid back down on the floor.

Lindsay waited for him to close his eyes, then turned andfaced the slumbering group who lay around her at her feet.

Slowly she tiptoed through the group and, once at the edge,turned to look back at them again.

Directly at her feet was the largest man of the group.

Lindsay stared down at him, then smiled to herself.

"If I was still a giant, you'd be under my shoe right now,begging for me not to step on you"* * *Alexandra awoke by herself without need of an alarm. After amoment, she grinned as her mind recollected the events ofthe previous day. She yawned and stretched her arms into theair, her bare feet protruding from under the warmth of theblankets.

"Did you sleep?" she asked, sitting halfway up and turningover to her stomach. "I slept like a log"Balancing on the rim of her brass bedpost was a Kleenexcontainer. Alexandra took it carefully into her hand andlowered it down onto the bed. She grinned instinctively whenseeing that the woman hadn't tried to escape.

"How was your sleep? Good? Sleeping on a blanket of tissue,that's gotta be the life"Alex's thick fingers reached into the small Kleenexcontainer and withdrew the woman, who was only partiallyawake herself. The previous evening had been exhausting forher. Alex knew no limits to the games she had played withthe woman, keeping her running, jumping lifting until wellafter midnight.

Alex placed the woman onto the mattress, then folder herarms and leaned her chin forwards onto them.

"I said Good Morning, sleep well?"The woman nodded to her and eventually said "Good Morning".

Alex didn't know it of course, but she had been the first todiscover that the shrunken could indeed speak. They justweren't very loud.

Alexandra scuttled her body closer to the woman, moving herface mere inches away from the reluctant doll.

"Are you tired?"The woman flinched slightly at the smell of the giant'sbreath. Her proximity to Alex was fearfully close and thegust of her breath quite unpleasant.

Alex picked up on this, but decided not to mention it. Shedidn't feel like getting up to brush her teeth just yet, andbesides, if the woman didn't like how she smelled, what wasshe going to do about it? Her Mom had said that this tinywoman was hers to keep, that she owned her, so that wasthat.

Alex gestured again to the Kleenex box.

"That's where you'll sleep from now on", Alex breathed,taking care to exhale onto the woman more forcibly thanbefore.

"From now on?" her tiny voice barely heard by Alex, "I-Ican't, I can't stay here. What do you mean from now on?"Alex smiled at all of this foolishness.

"Forever," she said, her grin growing even larger, "that'swhere you'll sleep for the rest of your life"The woman began to cry softly to herself.

Alex withdrew her giant face, sat up and began to pull on apair of socks.

After a moment she turned on her stereo wall unit, whichquickly drowned out the woman's sobbing.

* * *Lindsay had strolled quite a distance from the group. Theyhad agreed to stay close, but no matter. They were too tiredand would never miss her. Though it took more than fifteenminutes, she made her way near the pet store where she hadearlier seen the girl in black.

Since the mall was not yet open, Lindsay walked wherever shepleased. A younger version of herself had always dreamed ofhaving a shopping mall completely to herself, and now, asshe strode forwards, less than two inches tall, the ironywas not lost on her.

She continued forward, moving closer now to the gates of thepet store. She had been aware of the directions she hadmaintained, careful that she could find her way back to thegroup, where she would be when they woke.

Eventually she reached the tall gates of the pet store.

Lindsay leaned against them and stared inside.

Slowly, an idea came to her mind.

It was risky, but anything that's really, truly fun andworthwhile, usually is...

* * *Eleanor, dressed in a newly tailored dress suit, stood at afull-length mirror and examined her outfit. Susan, the hiredhelp, stood close, waiting for Eleanor's request.

Alexandra clunked down the stairs holding her tote bag overher shoulder.

Perched high on the top of her head, partially covered bybarrettes and hidden from view, was the shrunken woman, whomAlex had officially named 'Betty'. It had taken more thantwenty minutes to secure her in her hair, but walking aroundthe huge house, while a miniature woman rode on the top ofyour head made it all worth it.

Alex turned and faced her Mother.

"I need to go to school""Yes, I know you do honey. Unfortunately, I'm busy rightnow""Can Susan take me?"Eleanor turned to the hired help.

"No, I need her here""What for?""In case I need something"Alex challenged her Mother.

"What could you possibly need that you can't do foryourself?"Her Mother turned to her, angry. She reached into her purseand handed Alex a twenty-dollar bill.

"Take a taxi"Alex took the money.

"What about lunch?"Her Mother reached into her pocket again and pulled outfifty dollars.

"Here, give me the twenty and you can take this"Alex grinned at the money.

"No, I want both"Her Mother sighed and knew this was a battle she would notwin.

"Fine, take it"Alexandra took the fifty-dollar bill and high tailed it inthe other direction.

"Are you taking that thing to school?""I'm not going to school and it's not a 'thing', it's Betty""What do you mean you're not going to school"Alex grinned back to her Mother from the end of the hallway.

"I just said that to get the money"She disappeared from sight. Eleanor looked to Susan, thehired help.

"Susan, get my jacket please"* * *Alex strolled into the kitchen, while high above the floor,perched on the top of her head and entangled in her thickhair, the tiny woman feared what would happen next.

* * *One by one the group had awoke from their sleep. Keith, theman who had previously woken Lindsay was the first to noticethat she was no where to be seen.

"Anyone seen Lindsay?"People looked around, shook their heads. Most were nervous.

The mall would open in less than an hour and the group'sstruggle would begin again.

Keith walked away from the group and began to search for theyoung girl.

He appeared nervous at what could have happened.

* * *The girl in black fidgeted for her keys. It was alreadyeight thirty. The mall didn't open until nine, but she wasalways supposed to be on shift an hour early, to feed theanimals and to straighten up the store.

Something was flashing in her eyes. Was it her keys? No,they were in the lock already. She looked again to the floorand stood still, highly suspicious that she knew what itwas.

She was motionless for a moment and then the shining flaredthe corner of her eye. She looked down again.

There, at the corner of the sliding gate was one of theshrunken people. The giant girl let go of her keys, droppedher bag and immediately squatted and reached towards theperson, figuring that she, like all others, wouldimmediately flee for its life.

This one didn't. In the two or three seconds that it tookthe giant to bend down, relocate the tiny person and toreach towards them - it just stood there.

Lindsay's heart was beating faster than she thought it evercould have. The giant's hand was upon her and a microsecondlater, she was being hoisted into the air. Everything wasblurry for a moment as she struggled to keep from throwingup what she had eaten.

The giant didn't say anything, only stared at Lindsay for amoment, before returning to open the latch to the slidinggate.

It took Lindsay's stomach a moment to return to normal.

Something she had to wait to happen before she could speakagain.

The giant slid the doors to the pet store open and steppedinside.

"Listen to me!"Lindsay shouted as loud as she could, but the giant girlmistook it for a scream, which, of course was typical fromthose she had caught.

Lindsay continued to yell, until she surprised herself byactually getting the giant girls' attention.

Suddenly, as if in fast motion, she was pulled towards thegiant's face. Her huge brown eyes stared at the tinyLindsay, as if to say, "You've got three seconds, make itgood"Instead, the giant merely said.

"What?"Lindsay froze for a moment, having never seen anyone thislarge this close before. It was a truly frighteningexperience. One that she would always remember.

Lindsay cupped her hands and yelled.

"I can help you"The giant girl smirked and opened her huge mouth to say...

"Really?"Lindsay walked through the mall by herself. It was stillbefore eight in the morning, and none of the stores had yetopened. She had seen a janitor in the distance at one point,but that had been it.

She walked at a leisurely pace for what must have beenfifteen minutes or so, before nearing the area where she haddeserted her post. Upon getting closer, she slowed her paceslightly and began to hug the wall, taking extra care not tobe spotted by anyone.

It wasn't too long before she realized that the entire groupwas up and on there feet.

"****" she said to herself.

Lindsay continued towards the group, making up excuses asshe approached.

Several in the group noticed her. One in particular, Will,moved to meet her.

"What happened?""Nothing, I just decided to take a walk, that's all. I met afriend"Will was perplexed.

"A walk? You were supposed to be standing guard. That's whatwe agreed"Lindsay looked at her feet, not savoring the tongue-lashingshe was about to receive.

"You said you'd stay and watch while we slept!""Yeah, but nothing happened, did it?"Will looked sternly at her.

"No, nothing happened, THIS TIME!""I won't do it again, okay?"Will looked behind him to the group, then back at Lindsay,lowering his voice.

"Lindsay, we're leaving without you. You can't come with us"Lindsay was flabbergasted. This wasn't part of her plan atall.

"What?""You heard what I said. We were going to leave without you,but I thought you deserved an explanation. You're stillacting like a teenager. Acting like a teenager will get uskilled. None of us want that"Lindsay stared at the ground. Will turned and walked back tothe group.

"Goodbye and good luck"Lindsay watched as the group shuffled off into the distance.

A few of them looked over their shoulders at her as theyleft.

None of them was sure why it was that Lindsay was smiling.

* * *Alexandra walked through the kitchen and sat on the couch inthe living room. In her hands was "Betty", whom she wasplaying with casually.

"Susan!"After a moment, Susan entered the room.

"Yes dear?""Come here please"Susan walked into the sunken living room to face Alexandra.

Alex was someone she didn't necessarily like very much.

Truth be told, she didn't like her one bit. Susan hadwatched for the two years that she had worked in thehousehold, as Alex got whatever she wanted whenever shewanted it. She was a brat and she knew Alex was aware of howshe felt. Only problem was, Alex simply didn't care. Infact, she liked to rub Susan's face in the fact that she wasbeing paid to cook and clean for her and her Mom.

"What can I do for you, dear?"Alex raised her foot in the air slightly, pointing a whitesock at Susan.

"My foot hurts again"Susan pretended to be concerned, dreading what was comingnext.

"Oh, really, that's too bad""Can you rub it please?""Honey, your Mom left me a lot of work to do. I don't thinkI have time"Alex continued to hold her foot in the air, gesturing withit.

"You have time. Come sit down"Susan, knowing that Alex could easily convince her Mother tohire someone else (she had threatened to do so on manyoccasions), moved towards the couch and sat down. Alexlowered her leg onto Susan's lap.

"Where does it hurt, dear?""Mostly around the toes. You can do it all over though. Bothfeet, not just that one"Susan stared at Alex, pondering the young girl's audacity atdemanding such a request, but Alex was too absorbed with hershrunken woman to notice. The woman was lying on Alex'scollarbone. Alex's chin lowered, slightly, then her chestvibrated with the sound of her voice.

"Where did you go?"Her giant tree trunk fingers found the woman and lifted herupwards, not caring that the woman was upside down.

"There you are. Are you hungry yet?"The woman shook her head. She was too nervous about whatwould happen to her to be aware of the fact that she hadn'teaten in seventeen hours. This giant girl was being nicenow, but what about tomorrow, or a week from now when shegot bored with her? The woman had seen what a disobedientbrat Alex was, and was fearful about her future with her.

Alex looked up at Susan who was rubbing her feet.

"Can you believe it? Betty hasn't eaten anything yet?"Susan didn't acknowledge her right away, so Alex prodded herwith her free foot.

"I said she hasn't eaten!"Susan looked up.

"That's too bad, dear"Alex got annoyed with Susan very quickly. Anyone who couldso easily be coerced into being bossed was very hard torespect.

Alex raised her foot in front of Susan's face and held itthere.

"Now this one please"The shrunken woman looked on to Alex's lack of respect forthis adult and her fear grew. If she was like this to afull-grown woman old enough to be her Mother, what would shedo to a woman the size of her baby finger?* * *The mall was open and beginning to fill with people. Eleanorspeed walked through various sections of the mall,determined not to take the time to buy anything. It wasn'tlong however before something caught her eye.

Far below the shoppers in the mall, on the ground beneaththeir feet, group upon group of shrunken people awaitedtheir respective fates.

Will and his group trudged forwards carefully. It had beenthree hours since their departure from Lindsay. They hadtalked about it to one another, but mostly focused on how tostay alive during the busy lunch hour.

Miriam, one of the older women in the group had asuggestion.

"I think that if we travel over this way, that we'll come tothat long hallway that leads to the exits. It's usuallypretty quiet there, I mean, as far as shoppers go"Will nodded.

"We could stay there until the mall closes"The others in the group seemed to agree and together, theybegan cautiously in that direction.

To get across a walkway in the mall, the group ran, one at atime. Obviously because of age and degree of physicalfitness, not everyone could run at the same speed. Somecould cross the walkway in a little over eight seconds,while others took a full thirty, some even forty!One unfortunate man, for one reason or another, had a limp.

He was very reluctant to make the journey across thewalkway, opting to wait until the mall had closed. Theothers called to him, yelling that they had to stay togetheras a group.

Eventually, when he felt the moment to be right, he begantowards the group. A running giant proceeded