|Chapter 1: Hunting for Bugs
Late in the month of November the weather in Wyoming had turned bitterly cold, but Patrick didn’t care. He strolled through the neighborhood park with his friends, laughing and joking, wearing only an orange T-shirt and jean shorts. His three friends that were with him, Steve, Robby and Neal, had been his best friends since elementary school. Today they were enjoying their first day of Thanksgiving break and Patrick couldn’t have been happier.
“I think we should stop by the mall later and see if Stephanie’s working,” Neal said to the group.
“Yeah, she’s hot,” Steve said with his usual brevity.
“I dare you to ask her out,” Patrick said to him.
“No, we dare you to ask her out,” Robby said, flashing Patrick a toothy grin and shoving him playfully.
Patrick scratched his brown hair self-consciously. His friends all knew about his secret crush on the eighteen-year-old cashier.
“She’s only like, what, four years older than you, right?” Neal teased. “No big deal, right.”
“Yeah, and legal, whereas you’re jailbait to her,” Robby snorted.
Patrick and his friends had almost reached the edge of the park. Patrick stared thoughtfully up at the vibrant reds, yellows and oranges of the leaves on the trees, then looked down at the fallen leaves that crunched beneath his feet. He sighed.
“Ah poor Patrick, his heart’s all broken,” Robby cooed in baby talk.
“Shut up you poser,” Patrick said to him, but not angrily.
Patrick strolled along, keeping his head down as he thought about Stephanie. In the back of his mind he wondered why there were no longer leaves on the ground, only brown dirt. Then he wondered why Robby had listened to him and shut up.
Robby never shut up.
Without warning Patrick collided with a tree. He stumbled back, surprised that walking directly into the tree hadn’t hurt him, until he realized it wasn’t a tree at all: it was a blade of grass that was taller than he was! He looked frantically in all directions and saw that he was surrounded by a forest of giant grass blades. His heart began hammering in his chest.
“Neal! Steve! Robby!” he shouted. None of them answered and they were nowhere to be seen.
A giant flower emerged above him as he stumbled forward, and then his eyes caught sight of something beyond it, a circular object with a piece of glass in the middle.
A giant eyeball blinked at him from behind the glass.
Patrick screamed and fell onto his butt when he saw that the piece of glass was actually a magnifying glass twice his size, and that it was being held by a gigantic boy!
He screamed again as he watched the boy lower the magnifying glass and shift his pillar-sized elbows in the grass. He couldn’t have been older than twelve, with his brown hair trimmed into a bowl-cut, gentle blue eyes and a delicate face.
“No way, I can’t believe it,” the boy’s voice boomed. “You’re a tiny person! I was just hoping to catch a butterfly today, not a little boy!”
Patrick stammered for a response, but he couldn’t form coherent sentences. He whimpered.
The giant boy reached out a massive arm to his side. Patrick’s gaze traveled down the arm to the hand, which grasped a huge butterfly net. But the boy set the net down soon after picking it up.
“Nah, don’t need that,” Patrick heard the boy say.
Before Patrick knew what was happening the boy’s other hand was reaching for him. He screamed again and tried to escape, but he had no time before the giant fingers closed around his body and formed a fist around him. He was yanked off the ground and swung through the air. The boy’s head and shoulders heaved in Patrick’s vision when the boy stood.
“No! Put me down! I don’t want to be picked up!” Patrick shouted, trying to twist around in the boy’s fist, but it was curled too tightly around him. To the boy, he must have been five or six inches tall. This can’t be happening, Patrick thought! “I said ‘put me down!’ Stop! You can’t do this to me!”
Smiling, the boy reached out the forefinger of his other hand and ruffled Patrick’s hair with it. “I’m gonna take you home and examine you, little boy.”
“No!” Patrick shouted again, but he was ignored.
Instead, the boy caused Patrick’s stomach to lurch again when he bent down, rising up with a large glass jar in his hand.
“No! Don’t put me in there!” Patrick cried.
The boy dumped him into the jar. The lid squeaked loudly when the giant boy screwed it on. Patrick saw that there were air-holes punctured in the lid.
“Let me out of here!” he yelled. His voice echoed back at him.
He couldn’t believe he was being captured like a bug by a boy two years younger than him.
He’s enormous! How is that possible? Patrick wondered.
The jar shifted roughly, knocking him against the side. He slid into sitting position and resisted the urge to vomit as the jar swung back and forth, probably signifying that the boy was walking home.
“Where he’ll ‘examine’ me,” Patrick whispered out loud.
He shuddered, then slammed his fist against the side of the jar in frustration.
Twenty or thirty minutes passed. During that time the jar swung back and forth, halted it its movements, began swinging again, and finally plunked onto a steady surface. While the jar was moving it was difficult for Patrick to discern his surroundings through the wall of the jar, which distorting the images he saw through it, and was also smeared with dirt on the outside. The only objects he could see for certain were the boy’s fingertips, pressed against the top of the jar. When the jar came to a rest he managed to distinguish a tall, gray figure moving back and forth in front of him, which he guessed was the boy in his gray shirt. Patrick watched him moving, frozen with apprehension and the knowledge that he couldn’t escape.
With a soft thump, a huge hand suddenly pressed against the side of the glass, causing Patrick to shout in surprise. The lid of the jar squeaked again and lifted away. Patrick was thrown against the side of the jar again as the jar overturned, dumping him through the lid’s opening onto a soft, warm surface. He smelled dirt and saw traces of mud on the pale surface he was lying on. He realized then that it was the boy’s hand again, and he was sitting in its palm. Before he could even think of leaping off of it the fingers curled around him again.
The giant boy plunked the jar down on a giant table, which Patrick realized was a giant air hockey table. The boy was standing next to it, in a room that must have been his bedroom, but that was big even for his size. A twin-size waterbed with a racecar frame and headboard stood nearby. Next to that was an aquarium filled with colorful, tropical fish. A basketball machine crowded next to the air hockey table, complete with a scoreboard, small basketballs, (compared to the giant boy’s hands), and a plastic body with presumably famous basketball players painted on it, though Patrick didn’t recognize any of them. As if all this wasn’t enough, behind the boy Patrick could see a sliding glass door that revealed a skating park where the boy’s backyard should have been! If Patrick hadn’t been so preoccupied with being a toy for a giant twelve-year-old boy, he would have asked this kid where he got all this fun, expensive stuff.
The boy was grinning gleefully down at him. Seeing this made Patrick even more frightened and even angrier at being treated like this.
“Put me down you freak!” he screamed at the boy. “I’m not a pet! I’m a human being!”
“Yeah you’re a human, but you’re also my pet,” the boy said. “I found you. It’s only fair.”
“No it’s not fair!” Patrick yelled, struggling in the giant’s grip. “Just because I’m smaller than you doesn’t give you the right to treat me like this!”
“You are so cool,” the boy said, reaching out with his forefinger from his other hand and rubbing Patrick’s face. “You’ve got a tiny nose, a little mouth, everything. You’re a miniature boy! I can’t believe I found you.”
Patrick gagged and strained away from the greasy fingertip. “Stop that!”
The boy’s finger withdrew. “Hmm,” he said thoughtfully, his eyes scanning the room in search of something. “Aha!”
The fist holding Patrick heaved and swayed as the boy walked across the room. Patrick was dumped onto a blue writing desk. Crayons as tall as he was were strewn all around him. Papers with pictures scribbled on them were stuffed into one corner of the desk, while a black cup crammed with scissors, pencils, erasers and other odds and ends sat on the other corner. From this cup the boy pulled a roll of scotch tape. He held it over Patrick, pulled a strip away from the roll, and grinned mischievously down at him.
“What… Oh no, no, no!” Patrick cried, but the boy’s other hand pressed against him and knocked him onto his back. Seconds later he was staring into the boy’s huge face as the boy’s fingers slapped strands of tape over his body. “No! I don’t want this! Stop!” Patrick screamed, struggling and straining against both the thick fingers and oversized pieces of tape. Eventually it was only the tape he was straining against. Square pieces of the tape pinned down his wrists, elbows, waist, knees and ankles, leaving him face-up and spread-eagled.
The boy walked away, then returned with what was obviously a digital camcorder in one of his hands. Patrick raised his head to watch the boy sit in a chair in front of the desk. The boy plucked a pencil out of the black cup. His elbows thudded down on either side of Patrick as he leaned over him. The pencil hovered menacingly from the boy’s fingers, eraser-end pointed downward, swaying up and down Patrick’s body, descending slowly.
“What the heck are you doing?” Patrick demanded, straining once more against the tape.
“I’m gonna videotape me examining you and turn it in for extra credit for one of my classes at school,” the boy explained happily.
“What the hell class is that?” Patrick yelled.
“Human anatomy, duh.”
The eraser poked Patrick’s left thigh.
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