Lena stopped suddenly in her tracks. The animal was huge and looking right at her. Though the face was cute, Lena wasn't fooled. The animal's mouth was wide and panting, and the teeth looked were shard and carnivorous. He looked like he could crunch those teeth right into her flesh and bones, and he looked hungry.
Lena was too frightened to move. The animal was staring right at her. She could turn around and try to run away, but he would no doubt catch her. She might have a chance if she tried to play dead. The animal started trotting toward her. This is the end. She thought back to her mother, telling her not to go outside the village. The forest was dangerous, full of dangerous things. Oh why oh why hadn't she listened? She was wondering now.
She could feel it breath as it sniffed her. It pressed its cold nose against her cheek then her shoulder then her stomach, sniffing furiously. Then out of nowhere, it licked her. Lena turned to look at the animal. It was as tall as her and covered in white fur.
It nuzzled her face with its furry head, and Lena suddenly wondered why she had been so afraid. The thing licked her again, and Lena hesitantly reached out and ran her hand over its head. She laughed as it wagged its tail.
"What are you?" she asked it in wonder. Her mother had been wrong after all. Her mother was way too overly cautious, she thought to herself. The outside forest was fine, it had such wonderful friendly creatures.
Lena continued to pet its fur, which was so soft and fluffy. The thing was about as big as a horse, which gave Lena an idea. Without really thinking it through, she wrapped her arms as best she could around its neck and was just able to maneuver herself onto its back. She discovered that the animal had some sort of necklace tight around its neck. She started to examine it, but suddenly the animal took off.
"No, no," she called to it, holding onto the band around its neck so as not to fall off. "Slow down," she begged it, but the animal ran so fast. Lena closed her eyes and buried her face in the animal's furry neck. It seemed oblivious to its passenger, and ran freely through the forest.
It wasn't until Lena thought that she could hang on no longer that the beast slowed down. Lena immediately rolled off its back onto the grass. The animal trotted off without a care in the world, leaving Lena lying abandoned far from home.
"Stupid animal," she cursed it as she stood up, but what she saw stopped her dead. She was no longer in the forest, but in a strange strange place. She was surrounded by grass. In front of her was a giant building made from some material she had never seen before. To her left was a rectangular body of crystal clear water with stone-like things surrounding it. Lena barely had time to take it in when she saw something that distressed her even more than the unfamiliar surroundings.
Lena screamed as she saw him. He was one of the giants her mother had warned her about, one of the horrible monsters that would do unspeakable things to her. Oh why hadn't she listened to her mother and staid safely in their little compound? Why had she impetuously gone out exploring?
She knew he had seen her standing there in the grass, just as surely as she had seen him. After the first instant of startled fear, she knew she had to run. There was still a chance. She couldn't outrun the monster, but perhaps she could find a place to hide, somewhere small to escape through.
She turned and ran. "Hey," she heard the booming voice call out behind her. There was nothing but empty grass in front of her, causing her to panic. Out of the corner of her eye she saw leafy bushes lining the side of the house. It was her only chance. If only she could escape his line of sight, she might be able to sneak away without him seeing.
She became suddenly aware that her feet were no longer running across grass, but rather something hard and stone-like. She became aware that she was dreadfully close to the big square of water. The man was right behind her, she wasn't going to make it.
She could almost feel him bending down to scoop her up into his dreadful giant paws. She couldn't see where she was running until it was too late. She found her self sprawled on top of a hard surface, a surface that was moving rapidly. She was so dizzy she didn't even realize where she was headed until she hit the water.
There were no more thoughts, only an instinct for survival. The something hard had splashed overtop of where she fell, knocking her lower into the water. She kicked her arms and legs. She gasped, but there was nothing to fill her lungs but water. The water burned her eyes, so she shut them. So this was the end.
James took a swig of lemonade out of the container and put it back in the fridge. It was a hot summer day, and he was not looking forward to mowing the lawn, but knew he had put it off too long. This was his first summer back from college, and though he had missed his parents and home, he found that living with them again was a pain in the but. He had just gotten used to freedom, but was now was being once again forced to do labors around the house. He did get free food again, though, and his mother did his laundry, so he didn't really feel like he had that much of a right to complain.
The sweltering sun hit him as soon as he walked outside. He groaned and started to walk toward the shed. Being outside in this heat just wasn't fair, he thought. He was so busy complaining to himself that he almost missed her. He happened to catch a little fleck of color mixed in with the grass out of the corner of his eye. At first he thought it must be one of his sister's toys, but he turned his head and what he saw caused him to stop dead in his tracks. It was a tiny girl.
He instantly remembered all the rumors of the tiny humans that still lived among them. He figured there might still be some tiny people left, but he never dreamed that he would see one. There was nothing misshapen or off about her. Everything about her was proportionate, except for the fact that she was no taller than his forearm.
She stood there staring at him with as much shock as he was staring at her. He could see a look of terror plastered on her tiny face, just before she turned and ran. "Hey," James called out after her. He didn't want her to leave. He wanted to know where she came from; he wanted to talk to her.
James chased after her. He didn't want to frighten her, but he also didn't want to let her get away. He would calm her down after he caught her. He couldn't get over how strange it was to see such a tiny little person running around. She was wearing a short dress, one that showed off her thighs as she ran. He perversely wondered what her tiny body would look like naked, and what it would be like to hold such a delicate, beautiful little creature.
James instantly chastised himself. She might be tiny, but she wasn't a pet. She was still a human with human feelings. He was about to bend down and pick her up in his arms when she suddenly ran straight into his sister's skateboard, which she insisted on leaving dangerously by the pool.
The girl hit the skateboard with all her momentum, causing the thing to fly forward and knock both the girl and itself into the pool. James was worried the little creature had hurt herself, and he ran and pulled the skateboard out of the water so he could see where the girl was. He could easily see her in the clear water. She was a sinking mass of hair and limbs. She was still shallow enough that he could just sink his arm into the water and grab her around the waist. He pulled her out, and she was instantly coughing and gasping, pushing the wet, tangled mess of hair out of her face.
James watched her with fascination as tried to orient herself after her tumble in the water. It took her about a minute to stop coughing and to get the water out of her eyes and nose and mouth. James held her firmly and but loosely enough so as not to hurt her. He felt like King Kong holding this tiny woman in his fist.
She looked up at him, and seemed to once again register what was going on. She started to scream and kick her legs uselessly. She punched his hand and raked her tiny fingernails across his skin.
"Shhh," he told the screaming girl. Not wanting any nosy neighbors to see what he had, he quickly walked back into the house. His little bundle was still screaming hysterically, so he cupped his hand behind her head with his thumb firmly over her mouth.
He felt her sharp little teeth the instant he did it.
"Ow," he said, more in surprise than pain, as he pulled his hand away.
"Let go of me you monster!" she shouted at him, hitting his hand with her puny little blows.
"Just hold on a second," James tried to tell her. She was trying to squirm out of his grasp.
"You beast, you beast!" she kept yelling at him.
"Be quiet, ' James thundered at her, and she suddenly stopped struggling, seemingly realizing that it was hopeless. He could feel her body shake as she started to hopelessly sob. She put her hands up to hide her face as she cried, and James felt like a heel.
"I'm sorry. Don't cry," he told the girl. This actually seemed to help a little, since she looked up at him in confusion. Tears were still running down her cheeks, but her sobbing slowed down.
"I'm James," he told her gently. She was looking up at him with trepidation, but with less terror than before.
"What's your name?" James asked her.
She looked at him suspiciously, but seeming to find no reason not to tell him, spoke, "Lena."
"Nice to meet you," James answered.
Lena cocked her head up at James, then looked down at where he was holding her around the waist. "Are you going to put me down?" she asked him.
"Depends," he answered, "Do you promise not to run away?"
Lena glanced defiantly up at him for a moment, but then reluctantly nodded. James wasn't sure whether or not to believe her, but he set her down on her feet on top of the kitchen table. How far could she really get? Her eyes darted around quickly, but she stayed in place. He thought he saw her spending a little too much time looking at the distance from the tabletop to one of the chairs, but then she turned back to him.
"Who are you?" she demanded, putting her hands on her waist. Despite her bravado, he could see that her whole body was shivering with fear. He felt admiration for the tiny, braveness she displayed.
"I told you, I'm James," he answered.
"What do you want with me?" she asked him.
James wasn't really sure how to answer that. "I've never seen anyone like you before," he answered truthfully.
"I'd like to go home, then," she told him.
"Where's home?" he asked curious now. Did she live with more little people like her?
Lena looked at him suspiciously and didn't answer. "What's your home like, then?" he asked, "Who do you live with?"
"I live with my parents. They are going to be really worried about me." It was her intention to make him feel guilty for holding her there, and it worked.
"Don't worry, I'll let you go home," he told her, and her head shot up with shock and glee.
"Really?" she said, as though he had just said the most unexpected and impossible thing.
"Yes," he told her. "How old are you?"
"What does it matter?" she looked at him untrustingly, "Can I please go now?"
"Geez," he said, "I'm just curious. I told you, I've never seen anyone like you before. How about you answer some questions and then I'll let you go. Okay?"
"What do you want to know," she crossed her arms.
"How old are you?" he asked again.
"I'm nineteen," he told her, not that she cared though. "How did you come to be in my yard?" he questioned.
"An animal brought me here."
"An animal?" he questioned, "What kind of animal."
"I don't know. I've never seen anything like it before." James noticed that she had stopped shaking, and that most of her reluctance and fear slowly seemed to be leaving her. "It was big, like a horse, but it was a lot more furry and had a bigger head.
"Big like a horse?" he questioned her. "You have horses where you come from?"
"Yes. I have one of my very own. Her name's Bristles."
"Exactly how big is your horse?" James asked her curiously. The horses must be miniature too, for the tiny people to be able to control them.
Lena gestured on her hand about as high as her shoulder.
"What color was this animal?" James asked, an idea formulating in his mind.
James burst out laughing, immediately knowing what she was talking about. "That was my dog." James was laughing at the idea of his family's tiny, yipping dog being described as horse size.
Lena looked at him in confusion, then in anger. "What's so funny?" she demanded.
James stopped laughing. Lena was looking at him so haughtily, all signs of fear were gone. He was happy that this little girl had come to trust him enough to stand up to him without fear.
"Nothing," he told her, the dog of course would seem large to her tiny frame.
"You've never heard of dogs?" he questioned her, and she simply shook her head. "I'm curious. How did my dog bring you back here?"
Lena shrugged and seemed to be a little embarrassed. "He was about the same size as a horse. I though I might try to ride him," she shrugged. "I climbed on his back and grabbed the thing that was around his neck. But then all of a sudden he started running so fast, and all I could do was hold on. I climbed off as soon as he stopped."
"How long were you on his back?" James questioned with a smile at the curious girl who got stuck on his dumb dog's back.
"I don't know, but it seemed like forever. I was too afraid to let go."
"Have you ever seen a normal size person before?" he wondered.
"Everyone I know is normal size." James wasn't sure if she was being defiant or if she really didn't know that people weren't naturally her size.
"Have you ever seen anyone my size then?" he asked her. If she didn't know that people weren't supposed to be that little, he didn't want to be callous and tell her. And if she only said that out of anger, he didn't want to sound patronizing by explaining.
"No," Lena shook her head.
"But you know about people my size?" he questioned.
"My mother told be about you," she nodded.
"What did she say? How does she know about us?"
"My mother used to live with the giants before my father brought her back to our village."
"How many people live in your village?" James asked.
Lena shrugged, "I'm not sure."
"Are there a lot of people? Do you know everyone?"
Lena shrugged again. "I know everyone. I'm not sure how many of us there are. Maybe 500 or so."
James raised his eyebrows. "And you live out in the woods?"
Lena nodded. James found it hard to imagine a whole village of 500 little people living in the forest behind his house.
James was thinking of another question to ask her when the phone suddenly rang. Lena jumped suddenly, whipping her head around to see where the sound was coming from. "What's that?" she now had a question for him.
"Just the phone," he told her as he went to answer it.
"Hello," he said into the receiver.
"Hey man, how's it going?" it was his friend, Todd.
"It's going," James said, trying to sound casual. If he was going to tell anyone about the little person he found, it sure wasn't going to be Todd. The guy could be fun to hang out with sometimes, but James found him to be a general dipshit—a funny dipshit, but none the less.
"Do you want to go pick up some babes later tonight?" Todd questioned, as if he ever got any girls.
"No, I'm busy," James said. He hadn't really hung out with Todd or any of his other high school friends since the summer began. He felt like college had matured him in some way, and his old friends kind of got on his nerves.
"Whatever dude, your loss," Todd answered, "I got some real fine hunnies lined up."
"I'll pass. Talk to you later," James said, hanging up the phone. During the conversation, he had been watching Lena the entire time, making sure she didn't try to do anything stupid like hurl herself off the table and make a break for it.
Lena looked at him curiously when he hung up. "What was that?" she questioned him.
"The telephone. You've never heard of a telephone?"
Lena shook her head. James decided that he wasn't surprised. He guessed that the little people probably had no way of getting electricity or appliances in their little village in the woods.
"The telephones always me to talk to people who are far away," he explained.
Lena immediately perked up. "You mean I could talk to my parents?" she questioned, eyeing the telephone longingly.
James shook his head, sorry to disappoint her. "It doesn't work like that. The other person has to have a telephone too."
"Oh," Lena's shoulder's dropped. "Do you have anymore questions?" she asked dejectedly.
"I guess not," James said. "Though I would like to see your village."
Lena suddenly started with panic, "You can't!" she practically shouted.
"Why not?" James asked. "It sounds fascinating."
Lena suddenly got a look on her face like something horrible had just occurred to her, like she had made a terrible mistake. The look of terror returned to her eyes and she looked accusingly at him.
"What?" James questioned, really having no idea why she was suddenly so upset.
"I'm not stupid," Lena gasped out, "I can see what you're trying to do. I would never, never lead you back to my family and friends! Do what you want with me, but you won't get anyone else."
Despite the fact that her quivering had returned, she put a determined expression on her face and tried to set her body as rigidly as possible.
James now looked slightly horrified. "I'm not going to do anything to you, and I don't want to hurt any of your friends either." James tried to assure her.
"You told me you would let me go. If you're telling the truth, then keep your word. Let me leave," she asked him.
"It's dangerous out there in the woods. I would take you back to your village, but if you went by yourself, you could get hurt. Do you even know the way back?" James was genuinely concerned for the small girl who could so easily get hurt or lost out in the forest, but all Lena heard was that she was not allowed to go back on her own. This seemed to confirm her fears, and she started crying, thinking she would never see her family again.
"Now stop crying," James told her gently, but she couldn't.
James then heard the garage door opening. "Oh shit," he cursed, knowing that it was his parents coming home.
James quickly picked the girl up and raced her up to his room. She wasn't even fighting him anymore, just sobbing.
He went up to his room and quickly looked for a place where he could keep her. He opened the deep drawer in his desk, throwing out the few things he had in there and setting the girl down inside. The drawer was deep enough that she could stand up with about an inch or two overhead. There was enough space that she could walk about five or six paces from front to back and about three from side to side. All she did, though, was sit down and continue to cry.
"James, we're home!" he heard his mother call from the kitchen. "Did you mow the lawn?"
"Not yet mom!" he called out to her.
"James, you had all day!" she shouted back, "Now you get down here and mow the lawn before the sun sets," she said sternly.
"Coming!" he called.
"I'm going to have to leave you here for a few hours, okay? We can talk more in a little bit." James started to shut the door, but then felt horribly guilty for what he was about to do.
He opened the drawer back up and quickly grabbed a clean shirt from his closet, balling it up so she would have somewhere soft to lie down. He was about to close the drawer again, but his mind was suddenly filled with visions of his mother coming to pick up his room or put laundry away, and hearing a tiny voice coming from his desk drawer.
"I'm really sorry about this," he told her, grabbing some scotch tape from the middle drawer in his desk. Lena's tears had quieted down, and she watched James hopelessly, not knowing what it was he was holding, but feeling as though it couldn't be good. Why did he even bother apologizing to her? He could drop the act, she wasn't going to fall for it.
He tore off a tiny piece and went to place it over her mouth. "What are you doing?" she screeched turning her head to the side to avoid the tape.
"I'm really sorry, but I can't trust you to be quiet yet," James told her in an almost whisper. He picked her up in his hand. She started to struggle but he held her arms easily against her torso and her head between his thumb and forefinger. He used his other hand to place the tape over her mouth. She started moaning as soon as he did so, the only sound she could make with her lips held smashed together the way they were.
He then maneuvered her arms in front of her body, knowing he had to tape them up as well so she couldn't remove the tape from her mouth. She moaned and struggled against him, but he easily taped up her wrists. They were so delicate in his hand, and he knew he could easily break her fragile bones if he wanted to. James felt guilty at how easy it was to subdue her. She was so weak compared to him, she didn't even have a fighting chance. James felt like a bully, but consoled himself by saying he was doing it for her own good, and he would let her out in a few hours.
"James, come on!" his mother called him.
"Hold on a second," he shouted back.
He didn't want to tape up her feet as well, but if his mother could just as easily hear her moving around, and that would defeat the whole purpose. Her ankles were the easiest thing to tape up since her arms were no longer able to try and stop him, as pathetic as the attempts were.
"Look," he told her as he held her in his hands, "I'm going to be back in a few hours and then I'll take the tape off, okay? Just try and take a nap or something. I'm really sorry," he told her, but knew his apology was wasted as she looked up at him with pure hatred in her eyes.
He set her down on top of his t-shirt in the drawer and gently closed it. He grabbed the key he never used and locked the drawer shut, slipping the key into his pocket.
He started to leave and close his bedroom door behind him, but paused for a moment. He fought the urge to back and check on her. She'll be fine, he told himself, and he went to mow the lawn.
During that time he tried to rationalize what he was doing. On the one hand, he was protecting her. She could so easily be attacked by an animal out there in the woods, and who knew how far away her home even was? She could get lost.
But then again, what right did he have to try and decide what was best for her? He would never dream of taping up a normal size woman and keeping her locked up in his home, so didn't this tiny girl deserve the same consideration? But then on the other hand, she was tiny. She was different and therefore needed special consideration and different treatment. It wasn't like he hadn't offered to take her home. He would escort her home if only she would trust him. But she didn't trust him. And he hadn't helped matters either by locking her up in the drawer either. But what else could he do? She would try and escape if he didn't lock her up.
James had to admit to himself that he was endlessly intrigued by the tiny woman. He didn't want to just let her leave and try to make her way home. For one, he would never know if she had made it safely, but also he would never see her again or learn more about her. He felt as though he had discovered something magical. She was like a myth, and would anyone just let something so unusual leave never to be seen again?
James finally finished his chore and made his way upstairs. He could hear his parents watching a movie in the den, and knew that he could make a reasonable amount of noise without them hearing it. He was hot and sweaty and knew that he needed a shower, but he couldn't wait to check on his little ward. What if she had been a dream after all?
She was real all right, he saw as he opened the drawer. She was lying exactly where he had left her. She had her head turned away from him, and didn't look as he pulled out the drawer.
"Hi," was all he could think to say as he pulled her slight body out of the drawer. He immediately noticed that she was wet, but it took him a second to realize what it was. She must have had to pee while he was outside. And for what seemed like the thousandth time that day, he was wracked with feelings of guilt. He had left her with no other option than to pee on herself.
"I'm sorry, Lena," he told her sincerely. She needed something else to wear, and he immediately thought of his sister's old barbies in the attic. She was exactly Barbie sized, but with more realistic proportions.
He pulled the tape off her ankles. She didn't fight him this time, but he saw her wince when he pulled the tape off her skin. He was in too much of a hurry to think of how it would hurt when he took the tape off, but now he decided that the tape had been an overall bad idea. He then pulled the tape off her wrists.
"This is going to hurt a little," he said when he got to the tape on her mouth. "But it'll be best if I just do it quickly." He grabbed a corner of the tape and winced himself as he pulled it off her soft flesh. Her lips were slightly puffy and the skin around them was a blushy pink. James would have preferred that she yell at him the second he took the tape off, but she stayed stonily silent. She continued to refuse to look at him.
"Ill be right back," he told her setting her back down in the drawer, but he didn't close it this time. The walls were higher than her head, and he would only be gone a few minutes. He took his shirt with him and threw it in the laundry and quickly washed his hands.
His second stop was the attic where he pulled out the box of barbies and clothes. He knew which boxes the things were in since the Barbie dream house was sitting right next to them. There were some fancy ball gowns, but he passed those right up. He grabbed a pair of pants, but they had a little snap in them and were made to fit barbie's waist, and there was no way Lena would be able to snap those shorts shut. The next thing he saw was a pair of shorts that had an elastic band in them, so he grabbed those. They were a bright pink with pale green triangle print on them and looked very eighties, but they looked like they would fit Lena perfectly. He grabbed the first top he saw, which was a pink cloth. He briefly looked for some sort of underwear, but gave up, figuring that Barbie would have little need for underwear. He filled a small dish of water from the bathroom and broke off a piece of soap and stuck it in the water. He also grabbed a washcloth before leaving.
He sighed when he saw little hands grasping the top of the drawer. Lena was obviously trying to pull herself out of the drawer while he was gone. She must have then heard him coming, for hands dropped out of sight, and he found her sitting stoically against the wall of the drawer.
"I brought you a bath and a change of clothes," he told her as he set the stuff down on the desk. He had to think for a moment about how to give her some privacy. He didn't want to leave her alone in the whole open room. He perversely thought for a moment about just watching her take her bath, but quickly pushed the tempting idea out of his head. He had made the poor girl suffer enough already today.
He decided to just let her get herself cleaned up in the drawer. He set the water down inside and the washcloth down next to it. He also put laid the Barbie clothes in with her.
He knew he would have to close the drawer to give her some privacy. He quickly walked over to his closet and grabbed a flashlight, turning it on he also set it next to her. "I'm going to close the door, okay. The flashlight is in there so you can see." He told her gently. Lena didn't look at him or respond, but he slowly closed the drawer anyway, being careful not to spill jostle anything.
"Can you see in there?" he called, but of course she didn't answer. She wasn't speaking to him. He went and sat down on the bed, deciding to give her ten minutes. He thought about her taking off her dress and washing her supple, little body in the dish of water.
"You're such a perv," he told himself quietly, shaking the image out of his head. The girl was nine inches tall for crying out loud!
"Okay, I'm going to open the drawer now," he called to her after ten minutes. She didn't answer, and he gave here one more minute before carefully pulling the drawer back out. She was sitting quietly in the corner, only she was wearing the shorts and shirt he had given her. Her knees were pulled up in front of her body with her head resting on them, her arms hugging her legs.
Her old clothes were sitting next to the towel and water. And he took the all out and set them on his desktop. He put her old clothes on top of the washcloth, intending to wash them later.
He looked at the clock and realized that it was almost six, and the suddenly thought how hungry he was. Then he felt like such a jerk. This poor girl was probably starving.
"I'm going to get you some food," he told her quickly, feeling guilty for not having thought of it sooner.
"Hey big brother," his sister, Jaime, walked in the front door just as he was grabbing food for himself and Lena.
"Hey dork," he told her, piling different food up in his arms. He wasn't sure what Lena would like, so he got a very little bit of everything. She wouldn't be able to eat that much, though.
"What are you doing?" Jaime asked as she pulled out a bag of chips and started snacking on them.
"What does it look like I'm doing? I'm getting a snack," he told her, pulling a couple baby carrots out of the bag in the fridge.
"Since when do you like carrots?" she asked incredulously.
"I love carrots," he told her, popping one in his mouth to make his point. "Mmm," he said as he chewed it and swallowed it, all the while thinking how much he hated carrots.
"Whatever," Jaime shrugged, turning away to go watch some T.V.
"Whatever," James said back to her, taking his loot and going back upstairs.