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scarletic

I apologize in advance if this one's a bit long and lacking in the sex/growth departments, but what should've just been one regular part ended up being triple the length of a usual chapter, so I had to divide it into two. This is the first. It mainly focuses on character-, world-, and story-building for upcoming scenes. The next will come in three weeks. And while I did say I'd only write 2-4 more parts until my hiatus, I only count this and the upcoming part as one. If the writing style isn't to your liking or if you'd prefer to have less building and more growth, feel free to leave your comments below or in my messages. I also promise there will be a lot of generous growing soon. As usual, I'm open to all comments, suggestions, and violent reactions that'll help me improve. I do take the comments here into consideration.

 


 

PART 11a

It was the next day, Friday, when I decided to pay my intern a home visit after work. It had been around two weeks since any of us last saw him; even his own mother had to ask around if anyone knew what was going on with him. Of course, no one actually told her what Froy had been through, what he’d done. Froy just spent the past few weeks paying off her ridiculous medical bills; we weren’t about to send her back to the hospital with a heart attack. 

I was, unsurprisingly, distracted the whole workday. Not just because it was the weekend, but because I didn’t know what to expect, visiting him so out-of-nowhere like I was. 

Neither of us sent each other any messages since that night at the resort—mostly because we never shared numbers in the first place. We didn’t think we were ever going to be anything more outside the office. Yet, here I was: paying him a visit out of the sheer goodness of my heart.

There was also the matter of his brother: Jeremy. He didn’t know anything at all, not from the meteors to his little brother’s escapades, but there was no doubt he was going to question me if I paid his family a visit and didn’t bother warning him in advance. Whether or not he needed to know what Froy’d been up to was not up to me to decide. He did, however, have the right to know I was coming over for dinner. I just didn’t know how I was going to tell him. 

For the better part of the morning, I readied myself to approach him and warn him of my visit. There were a million things that could’ve gone wrong if I said even a word out of place, and a million and one questions I would’ve had to answer to. Despite the two of us sitting right next to each other, we never actually spoke since he started. We were always so fixated on getting work done each day that there was no time for any idle chit-chat. Froy’s work ethic had demanded more output from me, and, for a while, it was bearable; but ever since my intern stopped showing up, I had to carry his generous workload on top of mine. I needed him back—if not for companionship, then for my monthly performance review. 

After a brief stint of lunch with the guys, I dove head-first back into my work, not wasting any time lolly-gagging and wasting time in the pantry, taking part in Wes’ and Marcus’ random jibber-jabber. 

I’d called Lisa that morning at Marcus’ suggestion and asked if she could drive me over to Froy’s house. She managed to fit me into her schedule. But I had to be done by 4:45pm, an hour before I normally finished work. 

At my computer, my fingers were trembling as my eyes struggled to focus on the spreadsheet laid out in front of me. The panic from the upcoming visit was overwhelming, and I could tell it wouldn’t have been long until my heart gave out. I’d run out of brain capacity long ago, and all the outside-work demands—the recreation of Marcus’ tic-tacs, the meteors, my shrunken lifestyle—were finally catching up to me. There were so many things for me to do. And only one of me to do them.

As my mind began to fog, I flinched at a sudden hand weighing down my shoulder. “Hey,” came Jeremy’s voice. 

He was standing directly behind me, leaning over and dissecting every part of my body with inquisitive eyes. They were gentle, like Froy’s, but bolder, a wolf’s, as opposed to a deer’s. “Are you doing alright? You don’t look too good.” He pointed at my ghostly-white hands, jittering against my keyboard. 

Instinctively, I let out a chuckle. It was humorless, and I could taste as much. “No. No, actually. I’ve got a lot on my plate right now and need to get this work done by five.”

“Hm.” He shot backward to stretch his shoulders, cracking his spine, before leaning over me. “Why don’t I help you out?” he asked. Before he came too close to my face, he gestured at my computer with a hand, catching himself mid-descent. “May I?”

I wasn’t going to say no to some free help. Even if it did come from an ex-convict. Besides, I figured it would’ve given me a well-needed opportunity to talk to him, and I didn’t have to do any approaching. 

I pushed myself away from my desk and hopped off the chair, offering it, open-handedly. “Be my guest,” I said, unsure of what to say. “But, are you sure you know what you’re doing?”

He sat himself down with a grace befitting a prince’s, as if he’d practiced sitting in office chairs his whole life. After adjusting the height to accommodate his much taller frame, he smiled at me over his shoulder and cracked his knuckles. “Of course. What do you think I’ve been doing the past six years?”

Enjoying prison, probably?

“I’ll just allocate some of your work over to me and optimize your system to maximize your work efficiency. I noticed that some things on these spreadsheets of yours could use a more user-friendly approach too.” He was already pounding away at my keyboard and mouse, opening a hundred different windows and control panels simultaneously before my eyes could catch up to what he was doing. Half of them I didn’t even know existed, much less what they did. Then, just as soon as he started, he paused and turned to me, lips pressed tightly together. “You don’t— mind, do you? This is still your computer, so I understand if you aren’t comfortable letting me tamper with it.”

“You’ve already manhandled this one spreadsheet more than I’ve actually opened the damn file. You might as well finish the job,” I said.

He adjusted his glasses and curved the tips of his lips in a smile. “No problem. I’m always happy to help.” Without anything holding him back, he transformed my entire work setup from a rusted old pickup truck from the 90s to a brand-spanking-new sports car, that, if I dared say, could likely fly if I could figure out what it is he did to my documents. It barely took him an hour at the speed he went. He was in no hurry, but even then, it seemed like this came naturally to him, as if he’d been doing it for years. It was surreal. No prison I knew doubled as a coding camp, yet Jeremy seemed to be valedictorian of whatever batch he was from. I had to wonder: was it really drug trafficking that got him sentenced? Or was it something else entirely? 

“All done!” He looked at me and smirked, raising a judgmental eyebrow and staring at me, then through me. “Hey, you okay? You’re shutting down on me again.”

I slapped myself out of my stupor and leaned against the little space left on my chair to inspect the damages done to my computer. It looked like something out of a dream—everything was so organized and neatly arranged into compact folders and neatly accessible buttons and tabs. “Are you sure this is still my desktop?” I asked, staring at the screen and hopping from window to window in astonishment. 

He bounced his head in a quick nod and scooched over, giving my tiny body enough room to sit next to him. “Yup!” he said, patting the space he’d vacated for me. “Here, I’ll show you around. It’ll be a bit of a learning curve, but it’ll make your life 20 times easier; that I can promise you.”

It was a tight squeeze, but I’d expected as much. He was a tall man, and the age had added some inches to his still-slender hips and legs. When I was finally seated, there wasn’t a square centimeter left of fabric untouched. The two of us were hip-to-hip, thigh-to-thigh, practically conjoined at the side. He was warm, as if the heat permeating from his shoddy clothing were reminiscent of an embrace. Only Froy’s hugs had ever come close, but Jeremy was unrivaled. I couldn’t pinpoint the exact time I’d lost all wariness and unease in his presence. At some point during the hour he’d spent with me, I saw him less as a prisoner and more as someone reliable, someone I could trust, confide in. 

He spent a good portion of his time guiding me through his new convoluted system. I asked if he was worried about his own workload, and he said he adjusted fast enough for him to complete whatever tasks he was given before lunch came around. It seemed he shared a lot of things with his younger brother. Before long, and without my prior consent, he started speedrunning my own work as if it were his own. And he was doing it far better than I anticipated. I could only watch as he burned through my duties like a man on a mission.  

When I asked him about when he learned to code and work on spreadsheets so well, he only had this to say: “I had a lot of free time these past six years. Books were easy enough to come by. Thought I’d try my hand at coding so that I’d have a better chance at getting a decent-paying job when I— uh, when I…” 

“When you?”

There was a slight furrow in his brow, his downcast eyes hiding something away from me, with a plastered smile to lie and tell me there was nothing. “Let’s— talk about me some other time, yeah? Don’t you have somewhere to get to by 5?”

The realization hit me like a meteor. Pun intended. I’d gotten so preoccupied with finishing work on time that I forgot what I was so worried about in the first place. I wanted to slap myself, but I wasn’t sure what Jeremy would think if I did. Then, I wondered: when did I start caring about what Jeremy thought of me?

“Hey-o, tiny tin man!” Marcus’ voice came. I looked up and saw him leaning over the divider to my right. His arms were folded over the wall, and his handsome face was perched in between, pressed moreso than I was used to. His shorter height made his usual habits a bit of an ordeal, unfortunately. “What’s the new guy doing in your chair? Some sort of Russian lap dance?” 

Both Jeremy’s and my attention were focused solely on Marcus, grinning at us like a budget Cheshire cat, poised tauntingly atop a tree. “I think it’s pretty obvious that my height automatically takes any and all regional lap dances off the table, Marcus,” I said. 

“Nah, nothing lewd going on here. Just me helping my co-worker update his files so he can finish work on time today. Thought I’d do my part around here since I’m new,” Jeremy said. I then felt the chair lift and nearly propel me into the air as Jeremy stood up, offering a hand to Marcus. “And I don’t think we’ve ever actually been properly introduced. I don’t count that incident at the pantry a few days ago as a real introduction. You, sir, can call me Jeremy. What about you; what’s your name?”

Marcus’ eyes squinted and his eyebrows rose, accompanied by a devilish smile, as he gripped Jeremy’s larger paw. “‘Master’ is a good start,” he said. “And, wow, your hand feels like sandpaper! What the hell did you do with them, put them through a cheese grater?” 

I wanted to chuckle, seeing the wide-eyed shock on Jeremy’s face, as if someone had slammed him with a frying pan. Of course, that is what taking a quip from Marcus felt like, so I wasn’t surprised. 

“Uh, n-no… “ Jeremy said, his smile fading as he gazed at his hands. “They just spent a lot of time against gravel. I guess I just— never noticed.”

Marcus huffed a gust of wind through his nose. “Oh, some moisturizer should do the trick. Why don’t you come over to my desk when you’re done here? I’ll share some of mine with you.”

There was a renewed glimmer in Jeremy’s wolf-like eyes. “Are you sure? Because I’d love that! What’s it called?”

“Lube.” 

“...What?” 

“No, I’m kidding. It’s Thai, so I’m no good with the name. You’ll just have to take a picture if you want to get some of your own. Oh, and you can call me Marcus, by the way. But Master is preferable.”

Their exchange was a relief on my weary heart. It reminded me of the times I used to take coffee breaks with my best friends in the pantry, before any of this meteor nonsense happened and changed our lives so drastically. Wes was no longer the man I knew a month ago, and, in a way, neither was Marcus. Though most of their core characteristics were the same, it was impossible not to notice the shift in balance in our daily dynamics. I wondered what it would take to bring back that old way of life. 

“Hey, Dory,” Marcus called to me, bringing me back to reality. I looked up at him and saw him snapping his fingers, annoyed. “Jeez, what were you dreaming about? We’ve still got four hours on the clock, and you’re already thinking about your intern? Speaking of, when do you plan on paying Froy a visit? Lisa hasn’t told me anything about that yet.”

Jeremy turned to me, puzzled as all hell. And understandably so. “Froy?” All week, I’d been tormenting over how I was going to bring up the topic of his brother when I mentioned my visit. Yet, here was Marcus, as per usual, doing things I didn’t want him doing.

Marcus spoke up before I was able to take a breath. “Yeah, Fro-yo Adamson. Used to be Dory’s intern here for a few weeks but hasn’t come back in a while. I told him to pay the kid a visit since we had a bet to see if he was still alive.”

With a stern look, Jeremy’s shoulders dropped, and he looked at me, worry wet in his eyes. “You… were betting on the life of my brother? Why didn’t you tell me he worked here…?” he said, voice unstable, collapsing in on itself.

The look on Marcus’ face told us both that he had no idea what was going on. “Your brother? That dumpster fire of a guy is your brother?!” he yelled in a whisper, struggling to maintain his inside voice in the office. 

Jeremy raised a firm hand and placed it between his and Marcus’ faces. “Whoa, hey, I don’t care how senior you are to me, but don’t you dare call my baby brother a dumpster fire!” he said.

Marcus looked at me and recognized the lack of surprise. “Did you know about this?” he asked me.

I nodded, unsure of what to say. “Yeah. I’ve known since Monday. Sorry, Jeremy. I didn’t know how I was going to tell you.”

“What!” I heard Marcus say as he disappeared behind the divider, reappearing on the ground next to Jeremy—his body a fraction of Jeremy’s own much taller stature. “And when were you planning on telling me, your best damn friend in this place, that Froy had an older brother? Was— was I just a non-factor in all this?” he asked, eyes burrowing through my skull. 

The pointed emotions cornered me in a cage of my own creation, it seemed. I wasn’t sure if I’d done something wrong, anything at all, but it felt like I had just murdered a child and had my mugshots posted on every billboard within a ten-mile radius. Both Marcus and Jeremy were eyeing me down, inspecting me more than my own reflection ever did. My mouth didn’t want to open; my tongue felt bloated in my throat. 

“Look,” Jeremy interrupted. He held himself back with his hands pressed against his chest. “It’s honestly not an issue. I promise. I guess I should’ve figured when I got through that interview so easily that something was up.” His mouth was a fine line, holding up what little warmth was left in his downcast eyes. “Just never realized Froy was old enough to be getting a job. Or, internship, I should say.”

Marcus was still visibly enraged, glaring at me with unspeakable violence, but he managed to keep his cool. Every so often, he would glance at Jeremy. It didn’t seem like he was very keen on making a fool of himself in front of the new guy, especially if he was the older brother of the intern he held a grudge on. “Ugh, it’s— whatever. So are you going over to his house or what?”


Jeremy turned to me, and I thought I saw the faintest smile pop on his face for a second. “You’re coming over?” he asked. 

“Yeah. I called Lisa this morning, and she said she’d come over and pick me up this afternoon at 4:45pm on the dot.” I warmed the chill ruining my nape with a frantic hand. “I guess, you could hitch a ride with us if you don’t already have one, Jeremy.”

Marcus shrunk even more, fading into the background behind the divider like a phantom. “Lisa said yes?” he asked, almost in a whisper. “She never told me…”

“She didn’t?” I was genuinely surprised. I never guessed Lisa for the type to take breakups so seriously, to cut off all communication without warning, especially when she knew she was dating someone as volatile as Marcus. “I— could ask her later for you if that’d make you feel better.”

He shook his head, barely making an effort. “Nah. Don’t bother. Not if it’s just to make me feel better,” he said. “And I meant what I said, Jer’. Moisturizer works wonders. My cubicle’s just outside the manager’s office where you probably had your interview.” He paused. “I’ll see you at Wes’ birthday, Dor’,” Marcus left without saying another word, no goodbyes. 

I was starting to feel bad for the guy. He’d lost all the size he loved so much, then he had a breakup, and even his own friends were leaving him out of the picture. I couldn’t help but feel partially to blame. But I didn’t know how I was going to help him without telling him about the necklace. How was he going to react? How many lies was he going to tolerate? How long were we still going to be friends?

Jeremy bent over and placed a gentle hand on my shoulder, weighing down on me. “Hey, are you doing alright? This is the third time in the past two hours you’ve dazed out on me.”

“Y-yeah. I’m fine. Thanks. So… I guess— I was planning on telling you this afternoon, but I wasn’t sure how I was going to go about it. Sorry. About all this.”

Jeremy gave me a knowing smile and folded his arms across his chest, leaning against the divider. “Don’t worry about it. I’m surprisingly used to stupid arguments like this.” He paused before speaking up again. “Wait, so, how did you know Froy and I were related? I don’t remember telling anyone.”

“Well, besides the fact that the manager and I are good friends and he could’ve told me any time, I’ve actually heard a lot about you from Froy.”

His face quivered as his lips closed in. “Oh, he— he did? What… what did he tell you? What kind of things did he say? About me?”

“I-I think you already know the answer to that. I know enough, I guess.”

Jeremy struggled to find the energy to smile again. He could barely look at me, staring distantly at the floor, ashamed of something unspoken. “Ah. Well. I guess there’s no point hiding who I am anymore, huh? You know about the whole drugs and prison thing, then?”

I nodded firmly, questioning my own reasons for feeling guilty for knowing. “Yeah,” I said in a hush.

He gave a half-hearted chuckle and ran his fingers through his disheveled quiff, repositioning his glasses against the bridge of his nose. “Well, this got pretty awkward.”

I pressed my fingers. “A little,” I said. “But… honestly? Seeing what you managed to do for me today? I don’t know why I ever hated you. You’re hardly the person I was imagining when Froy was talking about you and your other brother.”

“Yeah? I guess prison has its perks. Maybe I should get a membership card. But, if I’m being real, I’m glad you told me that. I’ve been trying to be a better person for the longest time, and no one’s ever told me I’m any different from how I used to be. Not even my mother thinks I’m any better. She’s convinced that prison is a melting pot of shit and that if you got sentenced, then you were going straight to hell—and she’s right! Obviously. The other prisoners were god-awful. But, I’d like to think I was one of the exceptions.”

It was rare that someone else confided in me so earnestly after such an unusual conversation about brothers and lies. I was seeing Jeremy in a different light, and I was glad he told me everything I wanted to know. It was then that I understood just why it was that Froy still loved him—even if that same affection was buried under a mountainous heap of repressed hatred. 

“So, uh, is that carpool invitation still up? I’m not exactly in the mood to commute after today,” he asked. “Six years I spent dropping soaps in the shower for a cigarette, and the traffic out here still hasn’t changed a damn bit. Unbelievable.”

I shot him a smile and got off the chair to hug his leg. “‘Course. I think you could use the break after today.” 

He hopskipped over to his desk and plopped himself back in his own seat, a wide grin on his precious face. “Thanks! Let’s finish your work ASAP, and get the hell out of here.”

With both our powers combined, we managed to burn through the rest of my work in record time. There was a bit of a learning curve, trying to learn my new interface, but it came surprisingly quick. The clock hadn’t even struck 4pm yet when we wrapped up the week’s backlog. Froy would’ve been proud; it was a feat to complete his work alone. But with Jeremy at my side, we managed to finish more tasks than I’d ever known anyone in the office capable of doing within the span of one afternoon. 

When it was finally time to clock out, the two of us packed up our things and got into the elevator. We had some time left before Lisa arrived, so we opted to take our time. Unsurprisingly, the elevator was empty when we stepped inside. It was a Friday, and Fridays meant more work at my company to make up for the weekend losses. If there had to be a downside to working at H&B, it was the weekend backlog. Not even Wes was safe.

As we descended to the ground floor, I caught Jeremy staring at the LED panel, seemingly counting down the number in a mesmerized daze. There was some bossa nova elevator music playing softly in the background, but it was drowned out by the noises pestering my ears. My heart was beating erratically, and I could hear as much, echoing in my skull. It threatened to pump itself to bursting with how taken I was with the upcoming visit. I wanted to see Froy again, yes, but— why was I so worried?

“You know, I think I’m going to start a dollar jar for every time I catch you daydreaming,” Jeremy said. His face was nudged slightly downward, eyeing me curiously from his much higher vantage point. “Seems like it’d be a stable source of income.”

“Oh, shut up,” I said, covering up my face with a faux-itch to hide my embarrassment. “Anyway, I wanted to ask you something. Now. Since, you know about your brother working here and all that.”

He raised his head back up, as if refusing to give me an ounce of attention. “Oh? What about?” he asked, uninterested.

I hadn’t even said a word, but the bossa nova on the intercom stopped right on cue. “Did you have an issue with Froy being an intern here? I thought you looked kind of upset earlier when Marcus brought it up.” I waited for a reply, and without the elevator music keeping me distracted from the cacophony in my head, I had to rely on the rumble of the elevator machinery to keep me grounded.

“Ah, that. Well,”—he grumbled—“I didn’t— no, if I knew that he was an employee here, I wouldn’t have applied.”

“Why though? Don’t you like him?”

He hesitated, but I could see that his lips parted to speak. Then they twisted to say something else. “I— He’s my brother, Dory. Of course, I love him. I just wish he came out of his room to say hello once in a while. I’ve been back for the past week since I got released, but… he never leaves his room. Not to use the bathroom, not to eat. Nothing. He’s even got our mother worried.” His foot started tapping frantically, silently. I could feel it shaking the base of the elevator. “Isn’t that why you’re visiting?”

I nodded. Though he couldn’t see. “Yeah,” I said.

By the time we got downstairs and headed out of the lobby, it had just struck 4:47pm, and we were greeted by the blaring sound of a high-pitched car horn. Jeremy spotted it first. The passenger window was open, and even where I was on the staircase, I could see Lisa’s beautiful blonde hair flowing down her shoulders. Her car was small, a petite red thing from Japan it looked like. Marcus at his old size would never have been able to fit inside. Even Wes now would have had a difficult time squeezing in. I didn’t even bother imagining shoving Froy in there.

Jeremy helped me down the stairs as we rushed over to her car, parked along the sidewalk. He lifted me up to the passenger window as I asked. When I saw Lisa’s face, the tan had returned, and her eyes had lost the blue-gray rings that scarred her unblemished skin. There was a new rejuvenation in her, and it was evident in the way she glowed. Her breakup was doing wonders for her, apparently. I couldn’t say the same for Marcus. 

Thankfully, despite being hit by a meteor, it didn’t seem like anything had happened to her. She didn’t seem to have grown into a she-hulk overnight like I thought would happen. Her exposed arms in her frilly white blouse were as skinny as they were two weeks ago. A breath of fresh air erupted from my lungs with relief, knowing that it didn’t seem like the meteor actually did anything. At least, as far as I knew.

“Hey!” I said, still held up and propped against Jeremy’s navel. “This is Jeremy, carrying me. He lives with Froy, so he’s going to be your guide. It okay if he sits in the front with you?” I asked.

Lisa, still smiling, grinning even, raised an eyebrow, eyeing me curiously. “What? I mean, I don’t mind, but wouldn’t you want to sit here instead? If I crash this car, you’d be flying through the windshield before I even blinked. Plus, I’d charge you for the damages. You sure you want to take that risk?”

I nodded, giving back a smile as good as I took. “Yeah, I’ll be fine. You’re a good enough driver, aren’t you?”

She rolled her eyes and bent back to open the backdoor for me. “Yeah, yeah. You’re lucky I’m not just a good driver in bed.”

Jeremy escorted me to the backseat and closed the door behind me with a delicate firmness. As he crawled into the passenger seat, I could see, even from where I sat, the way his eyes seemed to latch onto Lisa’s body, try as he might to look inconspicuous. He greeted her with that warm, trademark Adamson smile and closed the door behind him, fixing his hair in the side mirror ever so subtly. He saw me watching him in the rear view, and I swore his face flushed a light shade of salmon.

When he got settled in, seatbelt and all, he turned to Lisa with a rigid neck and smiled. His voice was unlike it was that morning, suddenly cold and nervous, like it could crack with the slightest bit of pressure. “Uh, hi. My name is— Jeremy. I’m Froy’s brother, the guy whose house we’re visiting. Our house, I mean. He’s my little brother.”

Lisa put the car into motion, gliding back onto the main road from the sidewalk. Listening to Jeremy, she cackled when he finished, a deliberate long pause to brutally torture the poor man. “‘Little’? You’re supposed to be Froy’s bigger brother?” she asked.

He didn’t catch on to what she said. “What do you mean? Has he finally hit his growth spurt?” he asked, naively. 

“He doesn’t know anything, Lisa,” I butted in. “Probably better for him to see for himself.”

Jeremy looked around the seat at me with pointed eyes, aggressively seeking answers in the way my pores seemed to open in the car’s heat. “What do you mean?” he asked. “See what for myself? Last time I saw Froy, he was barely five-and-a-half feet tall. Skinny as spaghetti too.”

“And how tall are you?” Lisa asked, glancing at him with her peripheral vision, inspecting his body like a microscope. 

Jeremy matched her with his own side glance, smirking in secret. “I’m 6’2”. And if I’d have to guess, you’re a whole foot shorter than I am.”

Lisa’s eyebrows rose; though her eyes stayed bored, her smile signalled her pleasure. “Wow, a mathematician. Surprised you could figure that out just sitting next to me.”

He adjusted his glasses and ruffled his now-rowdy quiff. In, what I had to guess, was an attempt at flirtation. “What can I say? I’m a bit of a genius.” Unfortunately, being in prison for so long seemed to have dulled his romantic capabilities by a painfully significant amount.

“Sure, Peabody.”

With Jeremy leading the way, the three of us drove over to the other side of town where Lisa and Froy lived. It was the low-income residential district where none of the houses ever had more than two storeys, leaving the blue sky bare with wispy clouds that resembled cotton floating in pond water. Tall oak trees lined the streets and kept the yards in a comfortable shade. The surrounding neighborhoods had far less people compared to the commercial where we worked among skyscrapers. Here, seeing someone walk their dog or take a morning jog along the grassy sidewalks seemed to be as rare as snow in Hawaii. I almost envied the two in the car with me who lived in such a peaceful area. My apartment was grossly stuffy, and I wasn’t sure if it was worth the short walk to work. 

When we got to the Adamson house, I was taken somewhat aback. It was poised directly in the center of a relatively wealthy gated community, one of the only ones around, surrounding it on all sides with enormous mini-mansions that could’ve at one point been the star of a celebrity home tour. 

Yet, even then, as Jeremy led me outside the car, I couldn’t take my eyes off the rather homely one-storey home that appeared to have been built in a depression in the ground, causing it to sink somewhat and look smaller than it actually was. The lemon-green wall paint had been weathered aggressively over the years into patches of concrete, giving it the impression that it had been abandoned. It was hard to believe Froy and Jeremy lived in such an unfortunate little thing. 

The two of us waved goodbye to Lisa. But before she rolled the window back up, she hollered for me. “Hey, if you ever find yourself in this part of town again, feel free to come over to my place. My roommate doesn’t mind me having some guests,” she said.

I gave her my thanks and prompted her with a question of my own. “So what’s up with you and Marcus? Do you guys just not talk anymore, or what?”

Her face drooped as her eyes fell to the dashboard, mouth pressed into a line. I caught her nose wrinkle at the mention of Marcus’ name. “He, uh— I just— don’t really think he’s someone I want to be friends with right now. It was a messy one, and I’m not sure he’s emotionally mature enough to know how to discipline himself. You’ve seen how all that sudden ballooning of his messed him up. It’s not a pretty sight; trust me.”

There was no way I was telling Marcus she said any of that. “Oh, well, he told me to tell you he said hi. I guess he got a bit sad that you didn’t tell him about the car ride.”

She sighed, hand already on the window handle. “And tell him I said hi back. But nothing more! I don’t want him getting any ideas.”

“Alright. I won’t say another word.” Behind me, I heard the sound of Jeremy unlocking his front door. It was a large and ornate wooden thing, likely made of mahogany, aged like milk. “Before you go, though, I wanted to ask you one more thing.”

“Shoot.”

“After the meteor, when you woke up, did you feel anything strange happen to you?” I asked. “Or recently? Yesterday or today, maybe?”

She looked up to the ceiling in thought, pulling the strands of hair that had fallen onto her eyes away from her face. “No, nothing that I can think of. I’ve just been chilling at home with my roommate this whole time. Neither of us really leave, so you two are the first guys I’ve seen in days.” She smiled at me, tapping her nose. “If you need a ride back, you can always sleep over tonight; I’ll drive you home first thing in the morning.”

I accepted the offer, refusing to take public transportation at my size on a Friday night. I might as well have been asking for death via trampling on the metro. “I think I’ll take you up on that offer.”

She waved goodbye and rolled up her window, driving away and disappearing around the corner of a large white colonial home. 

With nothing left to do, I mustered up the courage I needed to follow Jeremy inside his home. Every time I blinked, I silently hoped it was a trick on the eyes, that it would miraculously transform into a million-dollar mansion instead of the sad shack it was. But I always ended up disappointed. I even wondered how Froy managed to get inside at all at his size. He was the biggest man I’d ever seen in my life, and I knew there was no way he was going to shrink back to human proportions, not unless we found someone else with the power to drain him. It was a miracle his mother didn’t catch him casually strolling in buck-naked on a weekday night. 

The house’s interior was surprisingly spacious. While the poor lighting from the lack of windows and weak light bulbs didn’t do the decor any favors, I was still able to appreciate the banana-colored walls that did their best to illuminate the living room. There was very little furniture lying around as well. The large open living room was occupied by nothing but a loveseat, wooden coffee table, and a 40-inch TV in the corner. 

After throwing my shoes in with the pile on the entryway, I found Jeremy standing in the kitchen, watching someone intensely at the stove. There was someone cooking that I couldn’t see behind the wall. 

Jeremy’s eyes passed over me like a stranger and resumed his staring. He didn’t say a word as I approached, nor did his face show any sign of softness. It had gone cold, rigid, and deathly serious. I wondered what it was he was so hell-bent on watching.

Only when I turned the corner and stood next to him did I see what it was he was looking at. It was his mother, a relatively tall woman with a shaved head of little black hairs. She had to have been at least an inch or two taller than my old height, putting her out to be around 5’8” or so. Her back was turned to us, and she was assaulting the stovetop and the multiple boiling pots, so much so that I doubted she even noticed us enter the kitchen.

Like the rest of the house, it was a rather overwhelming place with its plainness and strange choice of minimal decoration: only a large circular wooden table in the center surrounded by five chairs topped by a vase of half-dead sunflowers. The ceiling was, however, much higher than the rest of the house. If I had to make a rough guess, based on Jeremy’s 6’2”, it was likely eight feet, enough space for Froy to stand up comfortably—unless he decided that seven-and-a-half feet of muscle wasn’t enough anymore.

“I’m home,” Jeremy said, a harsh gravity in his voice that made his greeting sound more like an order. 

Mrs. Adamson didn’t turn around to face us, preferring to fix all her attention towards her cooking. Yet, even without a change in her demeanor, I felt like I was being watched—from eyes at the back of her skull? I didn’t know. But it made me shiver all the same. 

“I brought a friend home from work,” Jeremy added, taking off his messenger bag and placing it on a dining chair, “He said he’s here to see Froy.”

Seeing that she wasn’t very eager to turn and introduce herself to me, I took a heavy gulp and stepped forward, puffing out my chest in the hope that she would hear me amid the clanking pots and boiling water. “Uh, hello, Mrs. Adamson!” It came out hoarse, like my voice cracked and I didn’t notice. “I’m Dorian Yale, a co-worker of your sons at H&B. Your son, Froy, is my intern, so I came over to check up on him since none of us have seen him in almost two weeks.”

Without a word, she dismissed the fire and planted both hands on the countertop at her sides, leaning over and bracing herself to face us. The pots in front of her continued to screech, even in the absence of flame. Her worn-out face peeked over her shoulder to look at me. “Dorian?” she asked, a hint of recognition in her voice. “So you’re the Dory my son has been talking about?” She scoffed. “You’re smaller than I expected you to be.” The voice that came out of her mouth was gravel-like, comparable to a smoker who’d just burned through two packs in the last ten minutes.

“Ah— well— this isn’t my real height; sorry to disappoint. But that’s a different story. I’m just here to hopefully see Froy and catch up on how he’s doing.”

Mrs. Adamson stood and turned around to face us. Despite the simplicity of her yellow polka-dotted dress and frilly pink apron, the paleness in her bone-thin body and harsh wrinkles that looked cold on her face gave her an aura of deathly contradiction. She did not smile. Her mouth did not hold the same curves the tips of Froy’s and Jeremy’s mouths did. Her eyes bore down on me like daggers, pinning me against the wall, propped up for judgment. It was hard for me to believe such a woman was worth so much of Froy’s time; I had to wonder if there were actually some semblance of a soul underneath her concrete exterior. 

“If you want to see him, Jeremy can take you to his room down the hall. Maybe you can talk some sense into him. That boy hasn’t eaten anything since he got home from that beach trip of yours,” she said, crossing her arms against her flat chest.

I nodded as thanks and looked to Jeremy who motioned for me to follow him down the hall. “Thank you, Mrs. Adamson. I hope my visit wasn’t too sudden,” I said, already trailing slowly behind my new co-worker.

“Call me Esther,” she said. “And don’t worry about visiting. We don’t get guests often anyway; not since a convict coming home made the rounds with the neighbors. As long as you’re here for Froy, you’re welcome any time.” Yet despite the kindness of her words, her tone was still perversely suggestive of murder.

Not wanting to be left behind again, moreso alone with Esther, I jogged behind Jeremy to keep up with his quick strides. He was walking unusually fast for someone at home. “She seems nice,” I said, trying to engage him in conversation, see if something was up.

He groaned in reply. “At least you like her,” he said dismissively, a side-comment he never intended for me to hear.

“Don’t you?”

At my question, he slowed down, as if held back by his own thoughts, forced to think. “No,” he said. “Why do you think my brother and I got caught with drugs in the first place?”

“Holy fuck, she ratted you out?” I was in disbelief; even I had to take a moment to slow down and unpack my thoughts. “What kind of mother gets her own kids arrested?”

“Not one I would’ve wanted,” he said, his voice softening, less aggressive. “But I can’t complain. At least she still lets me live here for free.”

As we turned the corner at the end of the long, dimly-lit corridor, we were met with the end, facing three doors on all sides. All three doors looked painfully worn, as if the rain and snow and sun had left their mark on the crusted wood, brittle as toothpicks despite their thickness. I didn’t know which door belonged to Froy. They all looked the same to me. 

Jeremy slammed his hand on the door to our right. “Froy!” he yelled. “Come out of your room. You’ve got a guest.”

My heart fluttered as I waited for a reply; alas, not a sound left Froy’s room, not a breath, not a shuffle—only the dreadfully loud silence, telling me I wasn’t wanted. “Froy? Are— are you in there?” I asked, hoping to incite some sort of reaction. I just wanted a word. Not a conversation. 

“He’s as stubborn as he was when I last saw him,” Jeremy said. 

I walked past Jeremy and knocked on the door. “Froy? It’s me, Dory. If you’re in there, please say something so I know you’re alive.” 

Nothing. 

“Listen, I know you’re probably feeling bad about what happened at the resort, but that’s in the past now. Please, just let me in.”

Jeremy and I waited to see if Froy would open his door. But he never did. The two of us waited for what felt like most of my remaining lifespan for any sort of indication that Froy was in fact not a giant corpse in his bed. 

“Guess he doesn’t want to talk to you either,” Jeremy said. 

I sighed, staring with futile desperation at the doorknob, hoping to watch it rattle or turn, knowing his hand was on the other end, ready to welcome me inside. Behind me, Jeremy had opened the door opposite to Froy’s room, revealing his own domain, befitting a computer nerd with a penchant for the hard stuff. A pristine glass bong was standing tall on his desk, tapered on all sides by a CPU and stacks of books. He’d offered to let me into his room and wait for the traffic rush to subside before heading home. To him, it was pointless trying to reach Froy; they lived together in the same house since either of them were born, yet he got neither an embrace or any sort of greeting after over half a decade slaving away at the prison’s stone mill. 

Nearing surrender, I turned around, opting to take up Jeremy’s suggestion. As I did, both of us heard the unmistakable sound of something crashing inside Froy’s room. Jeremy’s face went sour, wide eyes under a furrowed brow, as he noticed it. “Is—“ He stormed past me and began pounding a heavy palm against Froy’s door, harder than before. “So you are in there! Get out of your damn room, you fucking hermit!”

“Whoa, relax. Are you always this… aggressive… when you’re at home?” I asked, holding back my volume. But Jeremy didn’t hear me, his own ears clogged by fumes. 

Then, both of us noticed something white slip underneath the door. I recognized it immediately as a sheet of paper and pulled it out. It smelled of something strange, like a body that needed to be exhumed and rid of toxic gas. The lack of showers was really taking a toll on Froy’s body odor. Regardless, the writing was exactly like Froy’s, complete with its oversized loops and thin lettering and heavy-handed dots on the i. 

Hi, sir. I didn’t think you would come. Could you come back tomorrow afternoon, please?” it read. “I’m not ready to see you yet. And could you make sure Jeremy isn’t here when you do?

Jeremy read the note over my head and puffed a gust out of his nose, brushing over my hair like a warm tailwind. “Hey, what is this?! Why don’t you want me around?” he cried. He was audibly upset, but I could hear in the intonation of his voice the slightest crack, the telltale sign of a hurt man. He looked to me for an answer, but I only shrugged, pretending not to have the slightest idea why he wouldn’t want his brother around to see him. 

But there was a reason he wasn’t letting anyone in the family in. The only people who’d last seen him were his co-workers—me. Placing myself in his shoes (if he could even still wear any), and knowing how I was being treated by everyone at my size, such a massive change in his appearance was bound to attract some unwanted attention and was practically begging to be hounded by vapid questions no one needed the answers to. Plus, the last time his mother saw him was when he was still six-and-a-half feet tall. A five-inch jump was large enough. But a foot?

Jeremy handed me a pen from his room at my request and I wrote back to Froy that I would, slipping it back under the door. It was pulled in almost instantly, as if he were waiting at the other side, eager to hear from me again. And so was I. I could almost feel the heat emanating from his body, seeping through the cracks in the door, filling the hallway with his musk. 

“God, I don’t know what you did, but— I guess Froy must really like you,” Jeremy said, turning his back and heading inside his room. 

I stood in his doorway, distracted by the cable spaghetti that wrapped around his desk like chains. He was sitting on his twin bed at the far corner of the room, away from the window and next to another twin bed that looked grayed out. A thin layer of dust had covered the sheets, its owner having abandoned it years ago, it seemed. Jeremy and their eldest brother shared a room together, so Jeremy had the space all to himself for the meantime. If what he told me was true, that he was arrested for manslaughter, their oldest brother wouldn’t be back for a long time.

“So you’re serious?” I asked. “You haven’t seen or heard from Froy since you got back?” I asked.

Jeremy shook his head and reached for a book from the shelf above his bed. The Song of Achilles. “No. None of us have. Why? You keep talking about him whenever I bring him up. Is there something I’m missing, or…?” he said, passively. He flipped his book over and pinned his thumb where a bookmark had been placed, mid-way through.

Thankfully, it didn’t seem like he was actually very interested in what I had to say, if there were anything at all. Before I even uttered a word, his eyes were already swimming through the words in his book faster than I could gather my thoughts and form a real, intelligible sentence. I supposed he wouldn’t mind a throwaway answer. “Nothing. I just found it hard to believe he’s been locked up in his room for so long with food or water.”

But I was wrong. He was like a bear trap, waiting in silence for me to speak up and spring his jaws. In a moment, his finger stopped traveling across the page, and his eyes darted to me. He looked serious, his mouth shrunken into a stiff line across his thin jaw. “No, he hasn’t eaten or drunk anything at all since I came home. But that’s not what this is about, is it?” He paused. “Please tell me the truth. I know you’re hiding something from me; I’m not so dumb that I can’t tell when you’re trying so hard to lie.” He closed his book but kept a thumb where he’d last opened. “What is it about Froy that I don’t know about? No more faking it.”

It felt like a layer of glue had stiffened on my face, forcing my mouth shut and my eyes gaping open, locked against Jeremy’s own intense eyes that burned even through the flare in his glasses. I wasn’t sure what to say. He probably wouldn’t have believed me, even if I told him. “He just… had a pretty intense puberty. I— I’ve only known him a few weeks, but even I’m having a hard time identifying him nowadays.”

Jeremy squinted and lowered the book to his side, raising one leg over the other as he sat and engaged me in conversation. “How intense, exactly? Actually, why don’t you just tell me everything you know about him?” His eyes then lit up, and I swore I saw the smallest upward curve on his mouth, marking the birth of a smirk. “He was 14 last I saw him, you know. It’d be nice to know how my little tyke of a brother’s matured without his favorite brothers around.”

I wasn’t in the mood to explain everything that had happened up until then. It was difficult enough wrapping my head around the situation, much less spell it out for someone else. “Uh,”—but I figured I had to tell him something. “He’s a pretty nice guy, actually. Kinda tall, pretty lean. Pretty face. He works faster than anyone in the office and doesn’t have the slightest bit of asshole in his body. Guess you could say he’s a bit of a machine. Never talks unless spoken to, doesn’t move without permission. Always calls me ‘sir.’ It’s actually kind of annoying sometimes how submissive he can be—I’m blaming you for that one.” 

Yet despite all I said, I wish I could’ve said more: the way Froy’s eyes glimmer when he smiled, the way he giggled when he overheard something funny—the way he ruled me in bed without my say-so. But Jeremy didn’t need to know any of that.

Jeremy snorted, leaning forward, intrigued. “‘Pretty face,’ huh? So like me then?” he said jokingly, tidying his quiff and sliding his fingers across his shaved sides. 

My eyes rolled uncontrollably. “Sure.” But to be honest, Jeremy was plenty handsome. He didn’t need to be pretty.

“Good to hear that he’s still the same little kid he was six years ago. He never did know what to do around people with authority. He actually got caught kissing the prefect’s hand when he transferred schools because that’s what he was taught at this Asian school he used to go to. What a baby.”

I smiled. “Yeah. What a baby.”

I closed the door behind me and waited for the sun to go down. Jeremy and I spent the rest of the afternoon relaxing, unloading after a long week of work. I browsed through his incredible collection of books, the boxes of untouched belongings under his brother’s bed, the complicated desktop that looked several years out of date, yet still functional. He read his book, managing to blaze through a hundred of its pages by the time I left. I almost regretted asking him about what it was. He went through the fanboy motions, bombarding me with historical whiplash; he explained the intricacies of the Trojan War, how the Greek gods were complete idiots, and how Achilles and Patroclus were lovers, in fact, not cousins. 

When the moon was high, he apologized for the way he acted earlier. There were two sides to him that I’d known, one respectful and helpful around the office—the other an aggressive emotional machine without any of the tact he held around strangers. Despite the intimate time we spent together, I never figured out which was his real self. There was a nugget of dread lingering in the pits of my stomach just thinking about it, knowing I never knew whether Jeremy was being real with me at all.

He asked me if I was spending the night, but I told him I’d already taken up Lisa’s offer to sleep over at her place. “Your loss,” he said. “Do me a favor though? Do you… mind asking her if she’d be alright going for a cup of coffee with me sometime?” He blushed, the pink in his face evident even as he hung his head low, eyes averted.

“I’ll see what I can do,” I said, leaving him and heading out. 

It was quarter to nine when I caught Esther eating dinner alone under a dim kitchen light to say goodbye. She was eating a small bowl of rice and whatever it was she prepared earlier. I warned her of my return the next morning to which she didn’t reply. Nor did her face tell me anything I didn’t already know.

As long as you’re here for Froy, you’re welcome any time.” 

It was difficult to parse through what I thought of her, knowing she was the reason Jeremy was put in prison and the reason Froy needed money for her hospital bills. 

I called up Lisa, and she drove by to pick me up and carry me over to her place. As I was told, she did live only a few blocks away in a quaint bedspace, barely a walking sweat for anyone with working legs. While she did have neighbors living beneath the floor, they didn’t seem to really make their existences known. They were as ghosts; but even the dead had bills to pay.

“My roommate’s out partying, so we’ve got the place all to ourselves,” Lisa said, flicking on the lights without looking. She smiled and stopped at the mini-bar; behind her, the rest of her place came into light as each bulb flashed to life. It was a generous space for only two young women, and I was surprised she could afford the rent. Then again, having supple curves and an hourglass figure could do more than just pad a wallet, and Lisa’s smug grin agreed with me. There were two velvet couches facing a plasma TV, a tight balcony with the view of a neighboring building’s hideous yard, and a hallway that led down to what I could only guess was the bedroom. It was an impressive place. Contrasted with where Froy and Jeremy lived, it was night and day—and I knew Lisa wasn’t paying nearly as much in rent.

She pulled out a crisp beer from the fridge and wiggled it in front of me, tauntingly. “You in the mood to get frisky?” she asked.

“Marcus told me you were trying to quit.”

With a mighty groan and twitching eye-roll, she dropped the bottle on me, forcing me to catch it. The damn thing weighed a whole fraction of my body weight. I fell over and landed ass-first onto the ceramic floor, managing to prop the bottle before it crushed my family jewels. “Fuck quitting. I happen to enjoy drinking, thank you,” she said, pulling out a half-emptied bottle of Rosé and drinking it straight. “I don’t see a problem, do you?”

“I— I guess not. Although, there was that one time you accidentally got Froy wasted at the resort. Remember that? Hasn’t even been a month since then,” I replied, placing the bottle on the ground and heading towards the hallway. I stood at the break in the wall and stared down the passage, taking note of the three doors down. 

Lisa leaned against the wall and let out an audible breath, reveling in the smell of the liquor in her nose. “God, don’t remind me. That kid needed a drink. And, I mean, bad. But damn, that was a real mess.” 

“Yeah, it was. So, anyway, you got a toilet in here or do you just use the bottles when you’re done?”

She snorted, returning the Rosé to the fridge and leading me down the hall. “Really? Dory, we’re women, not cavemen. Emphasis on men.” She sighed, dragging her finger across the walls as she walked ahead of me. “Though it has been a bit weird lately. For some reason, my period is two weeks late, and I haven’t had the need to use the toilet or eat anything in the longest time. And before you ask: no, I’m not pregnant. At least, not since that whole fiasco with the meteor at the beach. You wouldn’t happen to know anything about it, would you?”

“Actually, I do. Our boss-man, Wes, also told me he hasn’t had an appetite since then either. Haven’t heard from Marcus or Avery about it yet, though. Maybe something did happen to you; we just don’t know what it is yet.”

“Strange. Pray for me that I don’t sprout arms overnight.”

I laughed, knowing full-well that despite the absurdity, it was still terribly plausible considering everything that had been happening. Desperate to change the topic, my brain finally cooperated. “By the way, Jeremy told me to ask if you’re free for a coffee sometime soon.”

She slowed, looking down to smirk at me with a cheeky dimple shadowed in the dim light. “Jeremy? Froy’s older brother from earlier? That guy? Don’t tell me he fancies a lil’ ol’ blondie like me.”

“He does, actually.”

Lisa stopped at the end of the hall where the doors were. She gripped one handle and twisted it open, allowing it to swing and bang against the wall. “It’s something worth thinking about, definitely. Well, I’ll be sure to ask him about it tomorrow when I drop you off back at their place.”

When I got to the bathroom, she flicked on the light and closed the door behind me. I immediately noticed that it looked hauntingly familiar, as if I’d seen it somewhere before, like deja vu. There was an enormous wall-sized mirror facing against the sink, covering the entirety of the wall behind me where the door was. It was the smallest room in the bedspace, probably short of seven feet tall, and with barely enough room to fit more than two people. Only when I pulled out my phone did I remember where I’d seen it before. It was the same bathroom where I’d saved that image I had of Marcus and Lisa taking a post-shower selfie a few weeks ago. There was some sadness in me realizing, some guilt. Though it wasn’t my fault they broke up, I couldn’t help but feel somewhat responsible.

“You done digging through our spy devices?” Lisa asked, sneaking up behind me, pointing at the mountain of strange cosmetic tools in the corner of the sink counter. “If you’re done, I’ll show you my room. I’ve got a queen, so you can sleep next to me instead of the couch.”

“And that’s not a problem for you?” I asked. “I’m missing an X chromosome, you know.”

She rolled her eyes, smiling, and tugged me by the collar. “Beds aren’t gendered, stupid. Plus, I know you aren’t into me. Now come on, let’s get you out of those nasty work clothes. I think I can lend you one of my shirts. Should be more than enough to cover you up, right?”

“What, like a hospital gown?” I asked, following her to the other side of the hall. 

“Exactly,” she said, throwing herself onto her bed as the lights came to life. The queen bed was in the center of the room, guarded on both sides by bedside tables. She had what looked like a tripod in one corner, facing away from the glass-door balcony. It was a large enough space, moreso for one woman. In the air was a mist of rose perfume that actually smelled like the flower instead of that strange pungent scent grandmothers confused for flowers. What surprised me most was the lack of mess. It was as if she was renting a hotel room and brought nothing but the clothes on her back. 

Outside the balcony was a better view of the suburbs, on the second storey where Lisa likely sat and watched the neighbors go by. It was a scarily exposed wall, 3/4s of it being made of glass. I wasn’t sure how Lisa managed to sleep at night, even with the curtains pulled all the way. 

She crawled off her bed and walked over to her closet and pulled out a baggy yellow shirt that looked almost as heavy as I was. “Here, change into this,” she said, dropping it on me like a parachute.

I couldn’t see anything but yellow. “Wow. Thanks.”

“Anytime.”

After changing out of my clothes and shoving them into a plastic bag she’d provided, I turned off the lights with some struggle and crawled into bed with her. It was surprisingly soft, like a cold marshmallow I could sink into. I bounced on it a little, enjoying the way my tiny body flung around. 

“Glad you’re enjoying yourself,” she said. “You know, this is where all my boyfriends and I have sex, right? If you bounce too hard, you might get some of their hardened jizz on my shirt. Who knows what’s under these sheets.”

“What—“

Lisa laughed, wrapping an arm around me and pulling me close, tight against her voluptuous chest. “I’m just kidding. C’mere, let me spoon you.” 

She caught me by surprise, and for a moment, I was petrified. They weren’t the pecs I dreamed of, but even I could appreciate a good rack. Plus, they were softer, more than her own pillows were. I let my head sink into the crevice as she spooned me, hugging me.

Her touch was so gentle, so warm, inviting. Intoxicating. As her arm and fingers ran over me, I didn’t think I’d ever want to leave. It was the embrace of a mother, the safety of a womb. Within moments, I found myself paralyzed, unable to move. I wasn’t sure if it was natural: I was sedated, almost unnaturally so. Even as she shuffled in half-sleep, trying to get comfortable, my mind was slowly going dark, a sleep that felt emptier than I’d ever had before. There was an itch of fear in the back of my mind that I couldn’t quite scratch; I chose to ignore it. I let whatever was happening happen and let myself fall into the void, my consciousness gone, bleak.

Waking up was an ordeal. But I was in pain. I didn’t know why. I could barely open my eyes or form a word in my brain with the correct letters, but the chafing felt like needles pricking at my skin. There was an impenetrable fog in my mind that rendered me helpless for a long while. I felt drugged, almost. Eyes heavy like iron. Fresh in a hell of a hangover.

Eventually, I mechanized my breathing and slowly jolted myself awake. When I did, finally managing to twitch, I found the source of whatever it was digging into my skin. It was around my arms, my torso. There was what felt like a fabric harness around my shoulders that burrowed and chafed their way through the skin in my armpits. It hurt like a motherfucker to move, and I wasn’t sure if I wanted to. I didn’t even know if my legs were still attached to my body. The softness of Lisa’s skin had been replaced by the fluff of her sheets and pillows. I only knew she was still next to me because of the tiniest grumble she made in her sleep. 

I tried moving my arms and found them strangely heavy. It was a discomforting sensation. I’d lived my life for two weeks straight as a walking toothpick, but waking up in Lisa’s bed I felt like my arms weighed almost as much as I did the day before. I was still incapable of opening my eyes, so I had to attribute it to the intense grogginess that ravaged my body. Nevertheless, I dragged my right arm over to my opposite shoulder, feeling the way it pressed down against my chest, and tugged at the harness on my armpit. There was still a numbness in my hands. Yet— I had to drag my arm across my torso more than I was used to. And if I wasn’t losing my mind, I could almost make out firm bumps and ridges where my ribs should’ve been. My chest felt heavier too, stuffed with pebbles, made to drown. I pulled the fabric and managed to tear it off me, finally giving my arms some room to breath. The same went for my other arm, though I nudged what felt like Lisa’s chin with my elbow on the way.

“Mm?” Lisa mumbled. She sounded drunk, likely an aftereffect from her short drinking session the night before. 

Next thing I knew, a small hand was running over my nipples, exploratively, sensually. It was strange, having a woman touch me the way she did. And I confirmed it: by the way her lithe fingers were moving up and down across my flesh, there were definite bunches where my flat torso would otherwise have been. A tiny finger circled my right nipple, enticingly. I was aroused, and I could feel myself growing warm at her touch. 

As I firmed up, I also noticed my between-me-down-there had also become heavier, longer, almost. It was more blood pumping into my shaft than I was ever used to, even before I was shrunk, similar to those I used to pleasure in the bathroom stalls of the boys’ room in college. I could feel it tenting the blanket—then I could feel it land on what felt like a hip, Lisa’s. 

She moaned again, and I felt the hand on my chest run down to my crotch. Her palm was unusually small, befitting that of a child’s. She groped me and cupped me in ways I’d never expected before. 

Only when my brain finally plugged itself in and connected the dots did I finally realize what was happening. My eyes burst open in a panic as I flung myself off the bed. 

I hadn’t noticed how close I was to the edge of the queen. My body rolled off like a sack of limbs, and I crashed to the cold wooden floor without an ounce of grace. It hurt, but my eyes were focused on something else: me. Me. Why was there so much of me? I shuffled around on the ground, trying to understand the new way my arms and legs seemed to move. They were so strangely muscular, like that of a swimmer’s, vascular and tight. I could feel the heft of my hamstrings, the way they slammed together when I moved. And there was my bare ass, left to freeze numb without a thread of protection to keep me warm. My underwear had disappeared, and the yellow shirt Lisa lent to me was nothing but shreds. 

In a daze, I lifted my right arm to the ceiling and examined it as if it weren’t my own. I could see the veins running down my new biceps, my triceps, my engorged forearms. Even my abdomen had improved; I could see the faintest outline of an emerging six-pack, one I’d always thought would only ever be beer, not a muscle underneath my stretched skin. My ribs were still evident, but not as painfully eyesore-ish. Stretching had a new weight to it. My brain couldn’t understand why my shoulders were suddenly so heavy, why my feet were so long, my chest so firm. 

“Mar… cus?” Lisa groaned. I could hear her hand patting the side of the bed where I’d slept, searching for something that wasn’t there—something that hadn’t been there for days. It was no surprise to me then why she was touching me so assertively. 

As I stood up, my body didn’t adjust well to the new height. My body weighed so much more than I was ever used to. My legs were doing so much work just keeping me upright, buck naked in Lisa’s bedroom. Surreal couldn’t even begin to explain it, my confusion. 

Somehow, I’d grown overnight. But I was never touched by the meteor. 

I was taller than I was; everything was lower than it used to be, where my hands used to poise, my feet used to step. The bed was so far away from my eyes. From halfway up my stomach to just above my knees. My mind was overwhelmed in a flurry of questions, unsure of what to think, inexplicably tortured by so much so quickly. 

Then my eyes turned to the one thing that could explain it all. Lisa was still half-asleep in bed, barely awake. Her hand was still dragging the fabric of her sheets, looking for me. Me? No, Marcus. She was hit by the meteor too. Was it her fault? Who else’s could it have been?

I walked over to her, using the rags of her yellow shirt to cover up my gentle areas. The shirt (or what was left of it), looked more like a child’s than a woman’s. It was hard to believe such a small thing managed to weigh me down like a ton of bricks just the night before. 

With a tap on her shoulder, I called out to her, wanting her to join me in my fearful fascination of my new body. “Lisa. Lisa, wake up.” My voice was slightly deeper too, not the usual pitch I was used to. Perhaps it was a side-effect of my body jumping sizes so drastically. Perhaps it was something else. Either way, I wasn’t going to get any answers without Lisa. “Wake up! You have a job interview in 20 minutes!”

A strange, guttural groan of annoyance hissed from her mouth. Next thing I knew, her body exploded off the bed in a storm of uncontrolled limbs. It was ungraceful, but hilarious to my eyes. She got up from the floor, scrambling to get on her feet. My neck hurt a bit to look down at her from my new vantage point. “Why didn’t you use the alarm?!” she cried, struggling and losing to win a fight against the blanket that had draped over her head.

“Lisa.”

She stopped, pulling the blanket off her head, slowly, dramatically. “What.” The coarseness in her morning voice was dry and hit like blunt bullets. “It’s too early in the morning for your fucking jokes, Marcus.”

I lifted an arm, still ever-enraptured by the new development in its muscles, and pulled away the white fabric. “Lisa.” Her eyes slowly came into light, and I smiled, hoping to greet her warmly. “I’m not Marcus.”

She didn’t hesitate to panic and fall back on her bed. “Wh—“ Her eyes ran laps across my body, head to toe, like a marathon. There was so much of me to see, I knew that much. Even I was still caught off-guard. “No,”—she rubbed her eyes, squinting—“Dory?”

With a nod and tight-lipped smile, I sighed, running a hand across my newly-flat stomach. “Yeah.”

Her jaw unhinged slowly as soundless word after word came flooding out. “You— you’re not Marcus.” 

“I’m not. Don’t worry, I’m just as lost as you are.”

“I— I think I’m going to puke.”

I scratched the back of my head, unfamiliar with the new weight in my upper arm, and couldn’t help but chuckle, trying to ease the discomfort. “Maybe I should’ve slept on the couch.”

 

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  • scarletic changed the title to Hard at Work [Part 11a added - 5/4/21]
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Hi, everyone! So I'm starting this experimental series to see if a more traditional narrative would work here, and I would really appreciate all feedback and critique to help me improve. This is mostl

Hi, everyone! Here's the second part. Again, I really do appreciate all feedback and critique to help me improve my writing. Sorry if it took so long, I've been having internet problems lately. Enjoy!

Hi, everyone! Sorry this part took so long. I was focusing on two other projects for a novel and a screenplay I've been working on for the past two weeks. This part may not be as slow-paced or edited

cregssatx

I can't tell you how glad I am you decided to continue this story.  Thank you for that and for this great chapter!

 

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gir500

Your a really amazing story writer I must say, this story has been an amazing Rollercoaster to read. 

Im all for the world building it adds much more appreciation seeing how everything strings together when the growth happens. 

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MadMutter

I. Am. In. Heaven.

Heck yes! 

5 hours ago, scarletic said:

I apologize in advance if this one's a bit long and lacking in the sex/growth departments

...you say, and yet this chapter has the most perfect and in a way meaningful growth scene I could have ever hoped for!

 

God I am still shaking. This is fantastic! A development I did not actually think would happen! 
I'm so happy (and a little hopeful for the next chapters)! Rooting for Dory to like the taste of size.

Whatever may come, amazing writing as always!  Every day I find an update of this is a great day. Seriously, if there was merch of this story I would get it!

Thank you once again for taking the time to continue this story that anchored itself right into my heart. And for sharing this with us here.

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WrestlejockCT

What a great and welcome new chapter!! I can't wait for the second half! Fantastic work, scarletic!

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citizenies

As always thanks for coming up with great new chapters to the story. 

Can't wait for what happens next and how big did dory grow 

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Felix

Is getting great! Love the Amazing work you're doing! I'm so glad that Dory returned to a "normal" size

Hope to see more growth in the story! 

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Chillrunner

Luckyly not lisa growth,

what happen to dory?why he suddenly growth?wine?

and why froy's family never saw froy?

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ploder4

I'm sure Dorys growth will come as needed relief to Froy who will probably need to take a shower when he emerges.

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spacevlad

Happy for Dory and I love the development of Lisa being able to cause growth.

But I’m REALLY excited for Wes ‘s birthday... and now that Dory is big, his loads will be much bigger... and Wes needs a big birthday present to grow even more!!

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