The Quantification of…

By Sean — Featuring: Shrunken People, Crushing


Katelyn stopped midst ride as something soft yet crackly squelched beneath her foot. She gasped and stepped back, looking to see what she’d stepped on, but there was nothing on the floor except a tiny splotch of blood.

“Oh,” her companion said with humor in her voice. “Don’t worry about it. That happens every now and then.”

Katelyn turned the sole of her shoe up to look at it. “What happens?”

“Well, sometimes they get out of their aquariums,” the redhead responded.

There was what appeared to be a squashed bug, about an inch in length, stuck flat on the non-slick sole of her white lab shoe. Her nose crinkled in a smile.

“I’m going to be working with insects?” she asked. “What a great job!” she thought.

The redhead chuckled. “You can think of them like that, if it helps.”

Katelyn peered closer at the crushed remains and was astounded to see that it was not a bug, but what looked like a miniature human being.

“Impossible,” she whispered shakily. A thrill of excitement traveled up and down her spine.

“Here.” The other woman handed her a tissue. “You’ll want to keep a lot of these in your pockets working here.”

Katelyn took the tissue and wiped the remains from the sole of her shoe, but didn’t wad it up. She continued to examine the pink and red blob that was all that was left of what once was a little person.

“Lisa,” she said breathily, “what is this place?”

She can hear the smile in Lisa’s voice. “This is our testing facility. Follow me.”

Lisa produced a security card which she swiped and pushed through a set of double doors. Katelyn followed close behind, surreptitiously stuffing the tissue and its contents into a pocket of her lab coat.

They entered a large, white room. Lining the walls were hundreds of glass aquariums filled with all kinds of wriggling creatures. Katelyn didn’t recognize any at first until she realized with a start that they were all different types of animals only in miniature.

“Oh my god,” she uttered, her eyes wide with disbelief and excitement.

“You ain’t seen nothing yet,” Lisa smiled at her, and lead her through a second set of doors.

The next room was even bigger than the first and was circular. In the center, upon a huge dais, sat what Katelyn could only liken it to a big ass laser cannon.

“That’s one big ass laser cannon,” she said, astounded.

Lisa laughed. “Actually, it’s a big ass shrink gun.”

That thrill that never quite left Katelyn’s spine resumed its climbing tenfold. Her knees wobbled weakly and she had to force herself to maintain balance.

This didn’t go unnoticed by Lisa, who smiled knowingly.

“As you can see,” Lisa said, motioning to a row of women at tables along the right curve of the room, “our technicians are all women. It’s a fact that women are largely more dexterous than men. The equipment can be pretty complicated to work and requires very quick fingers and a lot of multitasking. The men,” she motioned to the other side of the room, “mostly just monitor the equipment and call out procedures. Over here,” she lead Katelyn over to an empty chair next to a willowy blond woman on the right side of the room, “is your workstation.”

“What happened to the woman who sat there before?” Katelyn asked.

The blond and Lisa glanced at each other nervously. After a moment, Lisa spoke.

“Katelyn, the reason this job pays so highly has little to do with the level of security clearance you need.” She paused, swallowing and clearing her throat. “The, uh. . .the machine has a tendency to, uh, leak.”

Katelyn stared incredulously at her. “Leak?”

“Inga,” Lisa said, looking pleadingly to the blond.

Inga nodded. When she spoke, it was in a slight Swedish accent. “The device works on a quantum level. When working to create the machine, many of the theories of quantum physics were proven, and quite a few unimaginable, incredible discoveries were made. Almost anything is possible, physics be damned. This can be both a blessing and a curse.”

“Put simply,” Lisa continued, “the design of this machine took an unexpected turn. It started to go against the laws of physics, but that means that it can be a bit unpredictable at times. At times it‘s as if it has a mind of its own. Solids can change to gases and vice versa, and that means stuff can leak out.”

Katelyn nodded slowly. “So, my predecessor?”

“Was miniaturized by mistake,” Inga answered. “Before we could restore her, she, uh, she was….”

“I stepped on her,” Lisa blurted out. “It was an accident.” Her voice sounded truthful, but Katelyn noted a slight blush to the redhead’s cheeks.

Katelyn herself could hardly contain her excitement. This job was a dream come true! Her excitement deflated, however, with one look at her work station.

It looked impossibly complicated. The desktop was one large touch screen with rows upon rows of icons, all with different symbols, none of which looked like anything she’d seen before. There was no way she’d be able to master such a console.

“Don’t worry,” Lisa said at her shoulder. “These are all the controls to the machine, but you only have to worry about a handful of icons. This is entry-level stuff, trust me.”

Katelyn nodded, feeling only slightly better.

“We’re ready for another test,” a male voice called out from the other side of the room.

Katelyn looked frantically at Lisa, who smiled and placed a hand on her shoulder.

“I’ll take control for a few days and we‘ll practice together later,” Lisa said. “Just watch me closely and try to memorize the sequence.”

Lisa slid into the chair before the console and placed her hand on the screen, palm flat. A soft orange glow radiated in the glassy surface from her hand and there was a small chime.

“Recognizing Dr. Lisa Edmund,” a soft, female voice said.

“It doesn’t matter where you put your hand,” Lisa said to Katelyn. “The entire console is a touch screen and can read your print anywhere upon it.”

She tapped a few icons and the screen briefly blinked green.

“All stations on line,” a dark woman at the end of the bank of consoles called out. There were five consoles in all.

“Look below the machine,” Lisa said.

Katelyn glanced over and saw a caged monkey placed just below the barrel of the gun.

The man across the room called out again. “Begin sequence in three, two, one, zero.”

On “zero”, all five women began what upon casual observance looked like a seated dance. Their arms seemed to become fluid as their fingertips skipped lightly over the touch screens, each woman’s finger landing precisely when the finger of the woman next to her did.

Katelyn saw that though the women were in perfect synchronization, they each touched a different key than their neighbor. It had a certain beauty to it, and she was so caught up in the overall spectacle that she neglected to watch Lisa.

After only a few seconds, they stopped. A deep hum filled the room. The women at once turned to look at the monkey. Katelyn did, too.

The little guy simply glanced about himself, not seeming to be afraid at all.

Katelyn blinked, and he was gone. Of course she knew he wasn’t gone, but the thought of what had actually happened to him was just too good to be true.

“Reduction complete,” the man said.

A short, slender African-American woman stepped forward, stooped, and stood back up holding the tiny cage with its miniscule occupant.

“Subject eight-thousand seven-hundred fifty-two alert and responsive,” the woman said, peering in at the tiny monkey. “Ready for resiliency test.”

“Proceed,” the man said.

Opening the cage, the woman reached in and plucked the monkey from within, and then dropped it.

Katelyn gasped.

The monkey hit the floor with a sickening smack. Before it could even move, the woman lifted her foot and stomped down on it with great force.

Katelyn winced, but heard no tell-tale squelch.

The woman removed her foot and stooped back to the floor. When she stood back up, the monkey was wriggling in her hand, alive and well.

“Resiliency test successful,” she intoned.

“Prepare human subject,” the man said.

A short balding man entered the room wearing nothing at all. He calmly climbed upon the dais and stood beneath the gun. To Katelyn he appeared almost zombie-like.

“System is reset,” the woman at the first console called.

“Begin sequence in three, two, one, zero.”

The women began their seated dance once more, but Katelyn’s eyes were locked on the naked man. Her breathing was quick and shallow, her pupils fully dilated, a moistness was growing between her legs.

This time she made sure not to blink.

It didn’t matter. The man was there one instant, gone – or shrunken – the next.

She edged closer so she could see the little guy better.

He stood in the center of the circular dais, about an inch tall, looking in awe around himself.

Jeremy shook his head and looked around. He wasn’t sure where he was or how he had gotten there. One minute he was going to bed in his apartment, the next he was on a vast, glasslike, glowing plane. It stretched for hundreds of feet in all directions. The sky above was black with a small circle of light centered directly above him. Something loomed in the blackness behind that light, but he couldn’t see well enough to know what it was.

He was more afraid than he’d ever been in his life. If he was in a room, it was the biggest he’d ever been in, but that thing hovering above him made him think he was outdoors, and some ship of unimaginable proportions floated above, watching him.

A clap of distant thunder accompanied by the ground rumbling beneath him caused him to shout in terror. He spun in the direction the thunder had come from and saw to his puzzlement a white shoe. He squinted his eyes and shook his head. He was still dazed having just woken up, or whatever had happened, and things seemed unreal because the shoe looked to be on the same level as he was, as if he were lying down and looking at someone standing near him.

From the shoe rose a dark leg, which disappeared mid-calf into a white coat of some kind. Jeremy followed the coat up to see a rather attractive young woman staring coldly down at him.

He tried to stand up only to realize he was already standing. This didn’t make sense. How could he be standing and this woman still rose above him.

Then he realized that the woman was also at the edge of the vast plane, not standing next to him as he‘d thought. He tried to wrap his mind around this, but couldn’t.

The woman leaned forward a bit, and her second foot rose from the darkness to land with a booming crash next to the first.

Jeremy nearly lost his balance and fell when the ground shook again. He then stumbled backward, his neck arching back as the woman began to walk toward him.

She was monstrously huge, he knew that now, and moved impossibly fast, towering over him like a mountain. As she grew closer, she didn’t tilt her head down to look at him. She simply stared down her nose at him as if looking at an insect.

“What the hell’s happening?” he screamed.

She gave no sign of hearing him.

Before Jeremy knew it, she was upon him, coming to a thundering halt with him cowering just in front of the toes of her shoes. He screamed and fell backward, staring up at her, quaking in terror.

She returned his gaze coldly, her eyes so high above him they looked like shadowed pits with no whites.

After watching him for only a moment, she bent her right leg at the knee, bringing her foot up with incredible speed and a rush of wind. She swung it over Jeremy and held it there for the space of a breath.

Then drove it crashing down on him.

Katelyn caught her breath as the woman stomped on the tiny man, splattering him in a surprisingly large circle of blood.

The woman stared down at her foot for a moment, then stepped back. A stringy mess stretched between her shoe sole and what was left of the man and snapped back.

“Human subject terminated. Resiliency negligible,” she said.

“Oh, this job is going to be incredible,” Katelyn breathed.

End Part 1