The fight snuck up on me. I don’t even know how it started, but that was business as usual these days.
Maren and I paced around the living room, running circles around each other, trying to make our points, punishing ourselves for hours before she finally called it a night and retreated to the bedroom. This had become our nightly routine – battle until we tired ourselves out, she went to bed, and I made myself comfortable on the couch, watching reruns on T.V. untiI we fell asleep.
How had we gotten here my sweet girl?
I woke up at 3 a.m. I drifted into the bedroom where Maren slept with all of the blankets on the floor and all the windows wide open, soaking in the humid hug of a midSummer night.
Curled up, naked, and sad, I watched her sleep for a few seconds, so heartbroken I could barely keep my knees. I reached out for her and started to stroke her hair, hoping to wake her, but gently.
I pulled my hand away when I saw her wake. Her eyes fluttered up at me – hazy, and tired at first. Then I watched them open wide and drip with pain.
“Oh my God. What? What?” I yelled down at her as her face contorted to a look of pained torture.
She yelped up at me, a pathetic murmur or desperation. She started to gargle and choke. I looked down at her neck and saw a slice across the side of her jugular, oozing blood. I watched as she squirmed and tried to fight off something I could not see that must have been between us.
I watched as another gash appeared just above her heart, a jagged slice that grew larger right before my eyes. She screamed out in more pain.
I swiped at the air in front of me. I wondered if I had lost my vision and couldn’t see an assailant who was attacking her, but I felt nothing when I reached for where that attacker could be.
Maren’s pained cries tore into me just as deep as the gashes that were appearing all over her body.
I had to do something. I ran to the kitchen and grabbed the best weapon we possessed, our chef’s knife, still dirty with the shrapnel of vegetables we had chopped that night for dinner.
I rushed back into the room with a knife. Maren was gone. All that was left were her blood stains on the white sheets.
Well, that’s not true. There was also a trail of blood leading out of the room and toward the living room where it dried up.
The police sat me down as they searched the apartment. I noticed no one ever let me out of their sight and they kept directing me further and further away from the apartment a little bit at a time, until I was standing on the sidewalk with a gaunt detective who looked far too young for his job. I caught the eye of five other people who lived in the building on my way out. All appeared eager to chat with the police all around.
The guy didn’t look a day over 25 and he didn’t look like he hadn’t eaten or drank anything other than the black coffee on his breath in years.
The detective introduced himself as John and we instantly shared a bond. We were the only two black people on the entire scene.
John offered me a vape pen.
“It’s just tobacco,” John clarified with a little chuckle.
John took a long hit off his pen.
“Look, I know what you’re thinking, brother, it’s just a coincidence,” John said after exhaling.
I tried to laugh it off, pretend like I didn’t know what he was talking about, but I did. I was certain they sent a black detective once they saw me in hopes I’d be more comfortable talking about what happened.
“Well, just know I don’t trust you anymore than anyone else,” I explained with a laughy tone even though I was barely hanging onto any remote form of composure at the moment.
I relented and took a hit off of John’s vape pen and exhaled high into the air.
“And it’s not going to change my story one bit,” I added.
I took another hit.
“And you’re still not going to believe me,” I finished.
One more hit.
They took me down to the station, “just to ask some questions.” Two different cops who looked nothing like me and John had me go through my story separately.
Then John came in with a cup of coffee. I didn’t like seeing the drink. I assumed the gesture meant I was going to be there for a while.
John tried to assure me it was all just a formality. They just wanted to make sure they had my story straight to best serve them in finding out who HAD murdered my wife. It was all good.
Until it was 7 a.m. and I was still at the station and one of those white detectives who had spent an hour already getting my story came back for more.
The detective started in on me quickly. He pointed out all the things I already knew that didn’t look good for me. How there were no signs of forced entry in the apartment. How there was no sign of a weapon used and they had not found a body.
I started to sweat, and that was before the detective laid down the piece of evidence I knew was going to be the hardest for me to overcome.
“We have a few reports from neighbors saying they heard arguments earlier in the night, weeks leading up” the detective said in a tone that tried to make it seem like he was just throwing that out there and not turning the screws into me as hard as humanly possible.
“I know how bad this looks,” I tried to explain. “But I’ll take a polygraph or whatever I can do to show you I’m innocent. Anything. I just don’t want to become a Netflix documentary. I would never do what happened to my wife.”
“What happened to your wife?” The detective asked, sly, thinking he had me tricked into a corner.
“What I told you,” I stated and gave the detective a blank stare.
“And what was that again?” The detective asked.
I told my story, again. The detective had good news. I could go. He released me into the wild.
I would be able to go back to my apartment eventually to gather a few (approved) items I needed to live, but the rest was evidence, and the scene was evidence, so it was unclear, if, or when I would be able to move back home.
My family begged me to get a lawyer. I refused. I wasn’t the least bit guilty and I wasn’t going to act like it. I was prepared to fully cooperate with the police.
The first thing they had me do was go back to the apartment the next night and walk them through what happened.
Going back into the apartment couldn’t have been more painful. I could still see Maren’s blood on the floor. I could still smell her perfume in the air. Then, as I showed them where I called them, from just inside the front door, I heard her.
It was faint, barely audible, but I swore I could hear Maren crying, that familiar chesty heaving wail that I had heard so many times. I at first was going to point it out to the three officers who were on the scene with me, but then thought better of it. They would assuredly think I was crazy.
I did the walk through, showing them exactly what happened, answering every question they had, and with a positive attitude. It didn’t seem to help.
Even John was no longer friendly when we left the apartment and shared another vaping session on the cold sidewalk. He would barely talk to me. He let me take a few hits and then walked away.
The officers all left without telling me anything more and giving no instruction. I watched them walk and get into their cars, drive away into the night.
I had to do something I knew I shouldn’t have done. I was going back to the scene.
I knew the back door of the building which led into the laundry room was always unlocked. I also knew I had a key to the apartment on me they didn’t know about, tucked deep into an internal pocket of my jacket, and I also knew there were no officers at the scene at the moment.
The apartment didn’t smell the same when I came back in and it broke my heart. I noticed they were spraying some kind of mist around when we were in there before. They didn’t say what it was, but I assumed it was to prevent the smell of the leftover blood from overtaking us.
I wept for a few moments as I stood in the corner of the living room where I thought I heard Maren’s sobs earlier. I got a hold of myself after a few minutes and tried to listen, but got nothing but the hum of some neighbor’s air conditioning unit, off in the distance.
They came to arrest me the next day at work, in the middle of a meeting. They put me in cuffs and took me away.
It was time for a lawyer. He informed me that one of my neighbors spotted me in the hallway of my apartment building the day before and reported I went back to the scene of the crime on my own.
He informed me they already had a pretty solid case against me and proceeding to hand them one of the top traits of a serial killer (returning to the scene of the crime) was an atrocious move. I should have called him much earlier.
The good news was he informed me it was going to be very hard for them to hold me and make a case against me without a body. I informed him the real good news was there was no body found yet and that meant that Maren could still be alive.
My lawyer didn’t seem as optimistic about that as me.
Still, I went back to my holding cell and periodically had to answer questions from detectives. This went on for almost 24 hours straight.
Then my lawyer interrupted the parade of the boys in blue.
Something great had happened, well, at least something great for me. A very similar murder had happened across town. A woman went missing, leaving trails of blood and no body, and her boyfriend told the police stories of an unseen assailant attacking the woman in the middle of the night.
The fact the attack happened while I was locked up was enough for them to release me. I was free to go, wait, but not really, the police actually wanted to talk with me. They wanted to work with me. I was going to help them.
I could only be so helpful. All I could really do was tell them my story over and over again. It went on for days.
Then they dropped a bombshell on me through my lawyer. They had a piece of information that was a major breakthrough in the case, but it was going to rip right through me and break me in two.
My lawyer had me sit down before he told me.
I don’t remember how, when, and where I woke up, but I did. All I remember is the darkness, and the draft. It almost knocked me off my feet.
I figured I was dead and this was the afterlife, exactly how I pictured it actually. Not fluffy clouds and angels playing harps or rivers of fire and demons roasting people on spits, just black, cold nothing.
I didn’t know what sent me there. I remembered retreating to bed after Scott and I got into a fight then I woke up with searing pain in the middle of night. Then I blacked out.
My initial thought was Scott freaked out and killed me, but I fought that off quickly. He could do no such thing.
Then someone else killed me? I hadn’t seen anyone that night, just Scott’s terrified face.
I didn’t have time to go through these thoughts. I needed to figure out where I was and what I was supposed to do with the rest of my life. Find some way out of the darkness.
I had to. Something was coming.
I combed the darkness, looking for somewhere to hide. I felt something hard behind me. It seemed to have some space underneath it. I slipped in there as whatever was on its way to me approached.
My eyes adjusted to the darkness. I could see the frame of something scurrying through the darkness toward me. It appeared to move fast and frantic, unnerving. Just the sight of its mannerisms made me want to barf.
Then again, maybe I just needed to barf in general? I leaned over and hurled my guts out in one of those uncontrollable ways you only can when you’re either really sick or really, really drunk.
I caught my breath once the vomit was out of my mouth. I looked up and saw whatever was coming seemed to be drawn to my vomit and noise.
It was a spider, but a spider the size of a car, towering in front of me – it’s jaws quivering before me like Scott’s would before he tore into a bone-in ribeye.
The morbid sight stiffened my body. I couldn’t move. I was a deer in the headlights, but not a deer in the headlights, more a deer in the direct line of sight of a hungry bear.
The spider appeared to smell me and then just stand there. Maybe it couldn’t see me if I didn’t move? Ala Jurassic Park.
No, that wasn’t going to work. The spider lunged at me. I took off running into the darkness.
I ran for a good minute before I even looked over my shoulder and saw the thing still pursuing me, it’s nasty legs skittering on the dark ground.
I turned back around just in time to run into a wall and knock myself down to the ground.
The hit was so hard I’m surprised I didn’t knock myself out.
I was also surprised to finally see some light and understand where I was, though I couldn’t believe it when I figured it out.
Maren shared one thing in common with the second victim, Kristin, aside from just looking almost exactly like each other – tall, blonde, lithe, small features – she went on online dates with a user named RogRab717.
Maren had a secret online dating profile and she was going on multiple dates with this guy. I knew we were having trouble. I didn’t know it was that bad. It took me a while to even start to talk about it with the police.
Worse yet, it wasn’t like Maren just went on one date with this guy and never talked with him again. She went on several dates with him before things went south. I briefly considered cutting off even trying to help solve her case out of spite before I remembered how much I was struggling as a husband, practically pushing her away into exploring something else.
Once I was cleared, John started to work closely with me. He was no longer the mediator between me and the cops who wanted to hang me already, he was now the cop who wanted to have me help him solve the thing.
He started feeding me information about the case as they found it, hoping it would spark something with me and draw out some more information. He let me in on the prime suspect who replaced me. Roger Raber.
Roger was a 38-year-old technician who worked at the nuclear power plant outside of town. He had a house in a small, mountain town nearly an hour outside of the city he left abandoned before he disappeared.
Roger didn’t seem to know many people, other than the handful of women who went on dates with him. Most of his family was in the U.K. No one from work really had a relationship with him and all of his neighbors simply said he was quiet, and kept to himself.
His place of work said that he put in his two week’s notice a few months ago and left saying he got a job at another plant across the country. However, it appeared none of that was true.
Instead, Roger was conducting his own bizarre research as his home in the woods. He had a large personal lab filled with equipment and materials John believed were stolen from the nuclear power plant over the years and used to create something he had taken out of the lab, but left no trace of. There wasn’t much there. He had covered his tracks well.
Invisibility? Roger had used his expertise and technology to create some kind of invisibility potion or cloak and that was how he was able to get into our apartment unnoticed, attack Maren before my eyes, and then leave with her?
It seemed impossible, but so did everything else in my life since that night where Maren was attacked and disappeared.
John apologized he didn’t have more for me and let me go on my way. He didn’t need to apologize. It sounded like they had good leads. John didn’t seem so sure of that. He agreed with me, but sounded exhausted. I’m sure trying to stop an invisible serial killer takes a toll on a guy.
It takes a toll on the guy whose wife was stolen as well. Especially after he finds out she was at least attempting to have an affair before she disappeared.
I went back to the studio apartment I was subleasing. The place seemed to always be cold, even in the middle of the summer and the light perpetually-dim.
I stretched out onto my rented bed and slipped under the chilly covers and suddenly, I couldn’t breathe.
It felt like I had a popcorn kernel wedge deep in my throat. I started to gag and retch, strained to push the thing out, but was unable.
I stuck my face underneath the bathroom sink faucet and tried to wash my mouth out, gargling my throat. It didn’t seem to work. If anything, it got worse.
The lack of oxygen and pain in my throat took me down to my knees. I’m not sure what it was, but something told me I was going to need to fight.
I dropped down to my knees and positioned myself over the toilet, the way I had when I had my worst hangovers. I was going to throw this thing up and out of me.
I jammed my fingers down my throat until I started to gag and purge my stomach. A quick shot of vomit blasted out and down into the toilet.
There was still some left in my windpipe. I gave it another wrench of my fingers and got the rest of it out.
I could breathe again. I flushed the toilet. I no longer felt like I had something living in my throat.
I was alone again, but it was no longer dark. The world around me had just come to life, and it was horrifying. I found myself just inside the front door of my apartment, looking up at its insides, a million times larger than they had been before.
Think the movie Honey I Shrunk The Kids, but much darker. I was the size of a pinhead and by myself in the place where I was awakened in the middle of the night by my skin getting ripped open. I honestly wished I had just died at that point.
The wounds still hurt. I was sure if I hadn’t somehow been shrunken down to a millionth of my size that I would still be in a hospital bed, shot full of pain killers.
I explored our apartment the best I could, particularly the entry table that was lined with pictures of Scott and I. The entire thing was covered with them, a timeline of our relationship, from eager post-college kids staying up all night every night in New York and fighting for promotions, to those annoying engaged people who take professional photoshoots and put them all over social media, to the sad and tired newlyweds we had become.
A painful guilt came over me. I thought about what we were and what I had done and blamed it for me being in the situation that I was, one millimeter tall, haunting our apartment Scott had to vacate so they could try and solve a case I’m sure they would never be able to solve.
I must have spent hours walking around the entry table, trying to throw myself into the old snapshots of our lives, pressing my face against the glass, looking up at us like we were giants.
Don’t ask me about the sewer. A collection of the world’s greatest writers couldn’t properly convey the revulsion of riding a wave of a depressed guy’s vomit into a toilet and then getting flushed down into a major city’s entire sewer system.
Yet, I could only complain so much. It was my fault. I let anger take over again. I got sloppy. I was so upset with things not going my way I tried to force them back into my favor.
I had everything planned out so perfectly. Scott was the perfect mark. He was even better than the guy in Chicago, and that guy is still in prison. Last I saw on some blog, he actually gave up fighting his case, even though he was 100 percent innocent.
But what is innocent really? He was the one fighting with his girlfriend. He was the one who pushed her into seeking out someone else. He just got unlucky that someone else was me.
I’m not a monster. I’m not a good guy either. I’m realistic. Something went wrong with me. I wanted to just be a regular guy, date girls, get married, have a family. I had a good job and everything, I just couldn’t figure out that piece.
I got close. I met her in the early, early days of online dating back in Chicago. She was nice. The kind of woman you’d call pretty, not hot. She was small and delicate and passive. She was the kind of woman who still thought it was poor form to disagree with a man. Maybe that’s why she went looking for something more?
Either way, that’s how she found me.
She jumped into a relationship with me, too fast. She knew it, but I was blinded, so I was blindsided when she told me she wanted to slow things down a few months in and revealed to me she was still married. Separated, but still married.
You might be asking, who am I talking about? I can’t use her name because of the pain. Just think of her as “the woman.” She was basically a version of about every woman there is anyway. They’re all pretty much the same.
Having said that, I shouldn’t have let the woman destroy me the way she did if she was just like any other woman. Then again maybe I’m conflicted? Maybe I’m crazy, but if I’m crazy, why are you reading this?
Back to the story. So the woman went back to her husband, even though he was abusive, and all they did was fight. It was something about not wanting to let her parents down. They had paid for the wedding and everything. I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. What a betrayal.
Unlucky for her, I had poured my life, and my brilliance, into my work before meeting her and I had developed a revolutionary technology. What if you could use microwaves, amplified estrogen, and atoms to shrink people to a miniscule fraction of their normal size, and then use those same ingredients, minus the estrogen, to bring them back to a normal size?
Now you’re probably wondering, if you could create that, why wouldn’t you just sell it for a trillion dollars? If you’re asking that question, then you don’t know me, and you don’t understand the darkness of man. I would do what I needed to do and once I was done, then that trillion dollars would still be waiting. Actually, not a trillion, how about 10 trillion?
What I needed to do was find love. It wasn’t my fault no one was letting me do that.
Oh, but the woman? In case you haven’t figured it out yet, I shrunk myself, came into her apartment, and killed her in the middle of the night, then made sure all the evidence pointed to her husband.
Her husband was convicted and I moved from Chicago to outside of New York City to avoid any future suspicion and to move on with my life.
I honestly thought I was ready to move on. I started preparing to sell the technology. Then I got back online. I could date. It was only fair I could be just like anyone else.
It’s not my fault the first girls I fell for happened to be married again. Then it became almost what I needed and maybe it was what the universe was throwing at me because it’s what I craved after things fell apart with the first woman?
So that’s how I ended up on the opposite side of town that I wanted to be, coated in sewer, having to walk endless miles home, standing one millimeter tall.
I found my way onto the subway and ended up back at the apartment the authorities had yet to figure out I was renting where I had stashed my setup that would ensure I could shrink and enlarge myself as much as I needed to for the rest of my life. They would only catch me if I wanted them to and I would make sure that wasn’t the case, no longer getting greedy, trying to strangle Scott from the inside out just because I thought that would be a badass way to kill the guy.
John had a crazy idea he wanted to run by me. What if I moved back into my old apartment?
I wasn’t completely against it. I at first thought being in our old place, with the lingering ghost or Maren hanging in the air, would be unfathomably-painful, but then I realized things couldn’t be any worse than they already were, so why not?
However, my next question was “why?”
“Remember the tipping point for us arresting you?” John asked.
“Returning to the scene of the crime?” I asked back.
John nodded. I knew what he meant and I knew what he was planning.
I moved back in and tried to maintain my sanity. I constantly felt like I always had something on me or something inside me. John told me this was going to be the case, the fear that the smaller-than-miniature Roger could show up at any moment and try to kill me, and maybe even be successful. He actually said that’s what they were banking on to catch him, but they had a system to warn them, and me, should he show up.
I don’t know how well I trusted the police department’s system that was supposed to detect if a living speck of a man made his way into our apartment. I got a ticket for drinking on the sidewalk once and the department wasn’t even capable of putting it in their online system, so I got off.
Yet, there I was, sleeping in my lonely bed with the T.V. still on, broadcasting some kind of infomercial after I watched Office reruns on basic cable like a Neanderthal because I was too lazy to re-set up my Wi-Fi.
The word “sleeping” isn’t proper for what was actually taking place that night. Lying in bed afraid, unable to sleep, feeling like I was covered in roving spiders was more accurate.
My phone was in my hand. John said the officers who were posted up in the apartments next to ours, having paid our neighbors to stay in hotels for a few nights, they would text me if anything showed up on their system.
My phone started to vibrate in my hand. I sprang up. Roger was in the building. I knew it.
No, it wasn’t a call from the N.Y.P.D. It was from Maren’s phone.
I recovered from my emotional session on the entry table and started to get logistical. Scott always said women were incapable of being logistical and it used to piss me off, now it was something I laughed at, one of his little character flaws I thought were charming when we first hit it off that I was starting to fall in love with again.
There were tools through the apartment that could help me. There had to be. Did we have some kind of magnifying glass? I could get underneath it or try to find some way to communicate to Scott and get him to use it.
But Scott surely wouldn’t be back in the apartment. No one would. Possibly police officers, but I hadn’t seen any. It was just me and the occasional spider or dust bunny.
It’s at this point I’d like to relay a piece of information you’d probably be interested in. No, my clothes had not shrunk with me. My pajamas had been left large and bloody in my bed and I woke up naked in my new world.
I made my new outfit out of tissue and gum wrappers. It reminded me of an outfit I put together for an “anything but clothes” party once in college.
I tried to think of any tool I could, but quickly ran out of ideas, until I thought of a revelation. I always put my phone in my nightstand when I called it a night. Could it still be in there?
Everything I had ever seen about police investigations in true crime documentaries and podcasts always suggested police did pretty shoddy work and it’s possible they never thought to retrieve my phone, tucked in the back of the drawer. I set out for the bedroom and to try and find a way to get into the drawer without killing myself.
Have you seen that documentary of the guy who climbs mountains with no ropes? Well that basically became me. I climbed up the bedskirt until I was on the bed, pushing my body, and my fear, to the limit, knowing a fall would kill me.
Given my size, the journey took an entire day just to get me up on the bed. I saw the sun rise and fall twice, it was like hiking the Pacific Crest Trail, but in my own apartment.
I was given a breakthrough almost immediately after reaching the top of the bed. I was almost crushed by Scott when he collapsed onto the bed before turning on the T.V.
I climbed up onto Scott’s hairy chest and called up to him, screaming at his dumb mug as he watched Office reruns.
Scott paid me no mind. I actually thought maybe I didn’t want him to notice me. Maybe he would think I was a flea trying to scream at him? Or a mosquito. I didn’t want him to swat me and kill me.
I had to make my way to the nightstand drawer.
Come to think about it, I also wanted to avoid mosquitoes. The insect’s hideous beak could harpoon me with ease if I came into contact with it, given my new size.
I trekked across the bed and found myself face-to-face with a divide between the bed and the nightstand. In real size I’m sure it was just an inch or two, but in my current stature it looked like the Grand Canyon.
My solution was to go after one of the throw pillows that rested on my sadly-vacant side of the bed. Scott hated those things so it would be fitting if they ended up helping me survive my situation. I pushed the Anthropologie pillow onto its side until it created a bridge between the bed and the nightstand.
Getting into the drawer presented my next challenge. Since it was closed, I was going to have to find a way to swing around the side and slip into the crack between the drawer and the frame.
Again, a mistake would mean death to my tiny body. I worked some more of my logistical magic, taking one of my necklaces off of my jewelry rack on top of the nightstand. I dragged the chain of the necklace over the front of the drawer and climbed down the braided metal.
I was able to easily slip into the crack between the drawer and the frame and envelope myself in darkness. I knew where the phone was, in the back corner. I couldn’t see it because of the darkness, but I knew I could feel it once I got there.
It wasn’t long before I felt myself walking on the slick glass of the phone screen, reminding myself of the layout of the phone so I could turn it back on. The cops had been lazy and stupid. I was in business.
I couldn’t believe I was going to do what I was about to do when I felt the phone vibrate to life. I got back on the screen of the thing and went straight to contacts.
I called Scott.
I’m not perfect. You’ve probably figured this out by now. I’m messy. I’m sloppy. You should have seen my lab. But from that mess comes my genius.
My work was sloppiest when I was stressed and I was rather stressed when I slipped into Scott and Maren’s apartment that night. She had just called it off with me and avoided my kiss in the back of a dark café deep on Long Island. My heart still burned when I found my way into their place and approached Maren in her bed with her own kitchen knife.
The plan was to kill Maren and take her body to a location where it would eventually be found, perfectly to where they’d be able to pin it on Scott. I was thinking about a quarry down the road from his dad’s house on Long Island where he sometimes went fishing.
I didn’t expect Scott to come and fight before I was able to finish killing Maren. He made his way into the room while I was only about 25 percent of the way into my work and accidently fought me off, not even knowing I was there.
He leaned against the bed where I was standing and pinned me between his hip and the mattress, smashing my body. I think the only official injury I had was a few broken ribs, but my overall body felt like it had been constricted by a python, everything hurt.
I panicked and used my portable device to try and enlarge myself. It didn’t work. It seemed I instead shrunk Maren down with me. She suddenly was right next to me, looking into my eyes as she lost consciousness.
I fled the scene after she spit up blood onto me. I didn’t want to stick around and watch her die. I loved the woman, after all.
The incident sent me into a fit of rage. In a blur of rage I went to the home of the other woman who I had dated who was married and lost control. I killed her. Sloppy again, that act I figured would take the heat off of Scott.
And I couldn’t stay away from Maren. I imagined her body bloated and disgusting, lying on the floor of her bedroom, possibly smashed by dipshit cops, or dipshit Scott.
Still, I had to see her. I had to look upon her face one more time.
I made my way back to her apartment and slipped underneath the front door.
“Who is this?” I screamed into the phone, 100 percent sure whoever had killed Maren was calling me to brag.
“I’m here,” I heard Maren’s voice, even-softer than usual in my ear.
I melted into a puddle on the bed and slouched down onto my back.
“What?” I muttered the only word I was capable of getting out of my mouth.
“I’m in the nightstand,” Maren said, shaky, sounding like she could barely keep herself together.
I rolled over to her nightstand and pulled it open.
“I’m on the phone,” she clarified. “I had to jump from button-to-button to call you and I’m yelling into the mic right now.”
I looked down at the phone. I couldn’t see anything.
“Hold on a second, I’m going to put the phone on top of the nightstand, is that okay?” I asked.
I carefully lifted up her phone and placed it underneath the lamp. I ran over to the doorway and flicked the lights off.
“What are you doing?” Maren’s voice crackled in my ear.
“Hold on,” I shot back. “I’m figuring it out.”
We had our same dynamic, even when she was the size of a grain of sand.
“Climb out onto the top of the nightstand and stand in front of the flashlight,” I instructed her.
I set up what I envisioned and flicked the lamp on. Maren’s shadow was now projected on the wall behind our bed. Looking at just her frame punched me in the gut, I could barely keep my balance.
“Oh my God,” I heard her voice in my ear.
“What happened?” I asked Maren.
Maren explained her situation. It couldn’t have sounded more unbelievable, but I believed every word.
The next question was very important.
“What do we do next?” I asked.
“I have no idea, how do you unshrink someone?” Maren asked.
“I don’t know, ask the guy who did it to you,” I shot back, unable to hold my temper.
Maren didn’t respond. I think the panic of the situation must have made her forget about why we were in the situation we were in for the moment.
“I’m sorry,” Maren’s voice rang pained and hollow in my ear.
I could feel the energy radiating between us.
“I’m sorry,” I responded, knowing it wasn’t just Maren’s fault in the situation. “You should have just told me things were that bad, I didn’t really know.
Maren didn’t respond.
“You know, I’m willing to work with you, but you should have just communicated that. I never wanted things to get that far,” I went on.
Maren didn’t respond.
Maren shushed me.
“He’s here,” Maren’s voice whispered into my ear. “Be quiet.”
I followed the order and looked to Maren’s shadow as a second human shadow joined her, creeping up behind her.
“He’s behind you!” I screamed at Maren.
I ran over to the nightstand and looked down at the beam of the flashlight, looking for a little, moving speck, approaching another speck, but I couldn’t see a thing.
“Where are you?” I asked.
I was answered by a scream. I looked up at the wall and saw the two human shadows entangled with each other.
The call cut out.
I didn’t want to do anything drastic with trying to attack Roger. Maren could be anywhere around me and I could crush her while trying to crush him. I just prayed she would call back.
I stood there looking down at the wall and watched as Maren’s shadow ran away from the other human shadow that now stood prone in the middle of the nightstand. I was frozen. No idea what to do.
Another call came in. Yes.
No. It was from John.
“He’s in here!” I screamed at John as soon as he answered. “Your little system doesn’t work.”
John was cool as a cucumber on the line.
“We’re sending our guys in now. Unlock your door. They can’t get in.”
I rushed to the front door as John went on.
“We made a breakthrough, old medical records we got from the U.K. showed this guy has a metal implant in his elbow from an injury he got in a surgery overseas. We can use a metal detector on him.”
John finished just as I opened the door and two officers stepped in with their pistols ready.
“I’m sure those are going to be really helpful shooting a guy who’s the size of a crumb,” I quipped as I ushered the officers into our bedroom.
We came in to find the room completely dark. The flashlight laid on the ground in front of the nightstand.
One of the officers took out a small remote device that looked a bit like a cell phone. He started waving it around the room with his eyes on the LED light on top of it, shining green.
“They were over on the nightstand,” I explained.
I watched as the officers slowly stepped toward the nightstand, the lead officer still with the handheld device out in front of him. The green light of it started to flash red.
“How do you know you’re not just picking up metal from like jewelry in the nightstand?” I asked the officer as he bent down to the nightstand.
The officer shushed me and out-smarted my second-guessing ass by pulling out a pair of glasses with a magnifier on them.
The officer with the glasses on waved at the trailing officer and the back officer turned his attention to me and directed me out the door.
The officer told me to wait outside the front door. I wanted to protest. I didn’t trust their capabilities, but then again, what were my capabilities at that point?
I stood in the hallway of my apartment struggling to breathe and listening through the door, trying to pick up on any sound that I could.
I heard nothing.
I should have known the attack was coming. I shouldn’t have allowed Scott to announce my location with his shadow set up, no matter how good I’m sure it felt to see my physical presence in some way.
I assumed Roger may have just stayed in our apartment after the attack and remained miniature. I imagined he had been stalking me around the apartment for days now.
So foolish, and here I was, running away from Roger in the crevices of the bed sheets, unsure of what to do next.
The worst part is I could just hear Roger breathing. It seemed like my hearing senses of other small things had been amplified a million times since I had become small and it was almost like he was breathing into my ear as I ran for my life.
Roger was brilliant. I would give him that. It is what drew me toward him in the first place. His looks weren’t striking, but his first message was so perfectly-tailored to me I had to respond, and then they just kept coming, along with the perfect conversations on each of our dates. It’s just that he used his brilliance in the worst way possible.
Roger had built a tiny human body with some paper he pulled out of the nightstand and threw it in front of me as I talked with Scott. He threw it at me to startle me and then make it look like he was on me on top of the nightstand while he dropped down into the drawer and hung up the phone.
Then he started his relentless, wordless, pursuit, picking up right where he left off.
I ran across the bed, until I reached Scott’s side and looked down at the floor below, vertigo already kicking in.
I didn’t have to think about it. I just swung my leg over and started to climb down the blanket that I knew almost reached the floor below.
I gave one last look behind me before I started my climb over the side of the bed. Roger was nowhere in sight and I couldn’t hear his breathing.
It didn’t seem possible given how close it seemed Roger was to me. I assumed he might have found something that was more-important to do, but what could that be?
I had Maren in my sights. There was no way she was going to beat me down that blanket to the floor. I was a recreational mountain climber. Her only option for escape would have been suicide.
It was luck that saved her. I saw the police officers rush into the room. I saw them flashing some device in my direction. I heard the said device let out a beeping sound. I saw the officer rush at the bed.
The movements moved the police officers up to the first item on my menu that night.
It was too easy. I sized up the officer as he registered me on his little metal detector device and peered at me through his magnifying glasses.
My delay gave him just enough time to watch me jump onto his hand that held the handheld device at me.
He tried to swat at me as I climbed up his arm and called out for help from his partner, who didn’t have the magnifying glasses.
The officer couldn’t swipe me off him before I was at his neck. I reached the soft landing spot of his jugular and tore in with my razor-sharp, homemade knife. I sliced the thing across his throat before he could make another move at me.
I’m sure the other officer was horrified as he watched his partner bleed out from a microscopic wound all the way across his neck and then dropped to the floor right in front of him.
Don’t worry partner…you won’t have to watch him bleed out for long. I jumped off of the first officer and leaped onto the other officer when he approached.
I made quick work of the second officer, dropping him to the floor, riding him perfectly so I would land safely.
I figured Maren would be making her climb down the blanket. I figured it would take her a long time to make it down there.
I also figured Scott was right outside the apartment and I only had so much time before he came back in and saw the officers dead, and dispatched some more.
I had a choice – I could try and run out and take care of Scott or I could try and take care of Maren. I couldn’t think of which one to make and I didn’t have much time.
I was outside for a long time. Long enough that I ran out of things to read about on Twitter on my phone to kill time.
I went back inside. I was discomforted when I was greeted by silence.
“Hello?” I called out toward the bedroom.
I didn’t stick around to investigate the situation. I knew it wasn’t good as soon as I didn’t immediately get an answer I went right back outside and called John.
John said they couldn’t get either of the officers on the scene to respond so they were sending a full unit as we spoke. He urged me to not go into the apartment. I argued I wanted to try and help Maren.
John begged me to not go back in there. I hung up on him.
I rushed back into the bedroom, figuring Maren’s chances of getting out of this alive were decreasing with every second that went by.
The room greeted me with silence and the dead bodies of the two police officers, they looked up at me with dead eyes, and slashed throats. I almost vomited.
I dropped down and pulled the magnifying glasses off of one of the dead officers and strapped them to my face. I turned my attention to the area all around the officers, my vision so sharp I could see the stitching on our comforter.
A sound seemed to carry on the wind when I grabbed the metal detector device that was still in the grasp of the dead officer. I started waving it around the bed, not getting a single hit.
The sound stopped me though. It seemed like a better lead than waving around a metal detector like an incel on the beach.
I followed the sound to the side of the bed where I thought I could faintly hear what sounded like a squeal. I thought quickly and took my phone out of my pocket. I turned on the recorder on the phone and held it where I thought I heard the sound and hit record.
I let my phone record for five seconds and then stopped it. I amplified the volume as much as possible, held it to my ear, and hit play.
I immediately heard the unmistakable sound of Maren screaming out for help.
I was a little over halfway down the side of the bed when I saw Roger climbing up toward me. I screamed out for help, hoping the police officers, or Scott, might hear me.
I tried to climb sideways and get out of Roger’s path. Maybe I could do that and find a way to jump down onto something that wouldn’t kill me before he reached me, and assuredly killed me.
It didn’t work. Going sideways seemed to just allow him to get to me quicker. I had to go back up the blanket, toward the bed.
And Roger was gaining on me. It wouldn’t be long before he would be able to reach up and grab my ankle and I still had a lot of white comforter between me and the top of the mattress.
I screamed for more help, knowing it was rather futile. There was no way anyone was going to be able to hear a one millimeter woman screaming, no matter how shrill she was.
I looked down at Roger. He was only a few feet from being able to grab me and he had a furious look on his face.
The thought of being tortured by Roger ran through my mind, as did an immediate solution. I would let myself fall off of the blanket if he got to me, I would assuredly be dead the instant I hit the hardwood floor below me.
Why didn’t we just have carpet? I hated myself for wanting to always be so stylish.
I kept climbing and I kept screaming. Even though I made the decision I would jump if things got too dire, I wanted to live. Something deep down inside of me told me I had to.
I screamed out again for help and this time my cry was answered. I saw Scott standing before me, doing something with his cell phone.
I kept climbing and climbing, even though my muscles burned more than I thought it was possible. I was at least able to scream out as hard as I possibly could to try and get Scott’s attention, letting out as much pain as I possibly could.
I felt Roger’s hand strafe my foot. I tried to climb faster. I prayed Scott would be able to see me and do something for me soon.
Relief came when I saw Scott looking at me with the magnifying glasses on. Based on the way Scott’s mouth moved. He could see me.
I kept climbing, but kept an eye on Scott. I watched as he reached down toward Roger and my heart sang with joy.
I watched as Scott flicked at Roger and almost knocked him off of the blanket. I literally stopped and cheered.
There was only a lit bit more of the blanket between me and the top of the mattress, but I stopped so I could watch Scott thwart Roger.
Scott pushed his hand at Roger and squeezed him between his fingers. I felt the end was near for our psychotic villain.
So imagine my horror when I watched Scott wince in pain and pull his hand away from Roger, leaving my attacker relatively undamaged.
Blood poured out of Scott’s fingers as he pulled them away and tried to recover.
“No! No! No! No!” I screamed out.
I finished climbing up onto the top of the mattress. So if nothing else, Scott at least kept Roger from grabbing me before I could get there.
Something was up with Scott though. All he had to do was smash Roger right there, and yes, Roger had found a way to cut his fingers, but he should have been back by now.
I soon found out why Scott did what he did. He came back in a second flanked by a couple of guys in SWAT gear, ready to rumble.
That final feeling of sweet relief washed over me. It was time for all of this to be over with. Then I saw the look of confusion on Scott’s face as the SWAT team guys combed the side of the bed wearing the magnifying glasses.
Whatever they were looking for, they couldn’t find it.
I watched as a cell phone was set down next to me and Scott’s voice crackled out of it.
“Honey bear,” he greeted me in front of what looked to be about five ex-military SWAT team members and a detective.
I lost it. I started to cry uncontrollably. It took me about 10 seconds to regain composure.
Scott explained to me the situation. They lost track of Roger. They believed he was somewhere in the apartment, but they couldn’t find him. They also thought there was only one way they were going to be able to stop him: Scott was going to have to shrink down to my size and we were going to have to take him out on our own.
They had what Roger used to shrink down and Scott was going to take it here in just a few seconds. They didn’t want Roger to get away.
Why couldn’t the cops just shrink down? None of them were willing to risk it. Okay.
Within a few seconds, I was looking into Scott’s eyes, the same size as mine. We embraced for a few moments, but knew there wasn’t much time for sentimentality – Roger could have been sizing us up at that very second.
Scott assured me it would soon be us sizing up Roger. He showed me an arsenal of miniature weapons the SWAT team had created for us to take on Roger with. He looked like a deluxe G.I. Joe commando with all the little knives, and even what he said was some kind of projectile machine that was supposed to work like a gun.
Here’s the thing though. Neither of us were trained in any kind of weapon. Neither of us had ever even been in a fight. We were ill prepared.
Scott behaved like he didn’t know any of this. I watched him check every one of his weapons like said commando.
Scott looked to me like a hero ready to save the day – hair slicked back with sweat, blood smeared on his hands and neck, his eyes cold and steely.
“Let’s find him,” Scott said.
I looked around the space and felt the SWAT team staring down at us through their magnifying glasses. I heard the radio Scott had been given to them crackling on his chest. I finally felt some confidence, but I couldn’t fight myself from speaking one thought when it shot into my head.
“I don’t think we’ll find him, I think he’ll find us.”
Scott winked at me and took my hand.
Scott led me back into the living room and then whispered into my ear.
“Just follow my lead.”
I did exactly what Scott said and soon we were on the other side of the couch, by the door to the apartment. I had no idea why we were over here, it was one of the most-useless sections of our place, just an open chunk of floor and a basket with throw blankets in it.
The area had a new occupant – a large doll house. Classic Victorian, cut open on one side, and multi-storied, the thing would have been my dream when I was five years old.
Scott led me into the doll house and we started to climb the stairs to the stop story of the home.
“What are we doing?” I whispered into Scott’s ear.
“Just go with it,” he muttered back.
We reached the bedroom in the highest point of the doll house and stopped. Scott led me over to the bed and we laid on top of the blankets.
“I just want to be alone with you,” Scott said louder than seemed necessary.
It all seemed so odd and particular, I thought, before my pondering was interrupted by the entrance of Roger into the room.
Roger slowly stepped up the stairs and into our new, little bedroom. Scott held me tighter, alarming me – why weren’t we running away?
I started to plead with Scott to go. He just squeezed me tighter.
Roger moved in and pulled out what looked like a small dagger, it must have been what he was using to attack people so perfectly.
He was only a few feet from the foot of the bed when he started talking.
“Now that she’s in danger you come running, but not when she was simply being herself.”
Roger dropped out of sight in a flash, right at the foot of the bed. I rose up and looked at where he was and saw a trap door on the floor.
Through the trap door, I could see Roger lying on a piece of spiked artwork that was in the living room space below the dollhouse. I had thought it was just a decoration in the thing, but now I realized it had been a set up.
I looked down and watched the life fade from Roger’s eyes. I was a little bit bothered that I’m sure he probably enjoyed dying an artistic death.
It was hard not to laugh when the police came and took away Roger’s body with tweezers.
I anticipated laughter coming easier once Roger was taken away. I was in no way prepared for the information Scott dropped on me as we stood in the living room, looking back at the dollhouse.
“Where’d that dollhouse come from?” I asked.
Scott took too long to respond, making me think there was more running through his head than he was letting on.
“The SWAT team put it together. They wanted to set up a trap for him. It’s one of the guys’ daughters’ dollhouses. They’ll have to buy her another one,” Scott explained.
Scott went oddly quiet again, just staring at the dollhouse.
“There’s something else I need to tell you,” Scott went on.
I froze up.
“I’ll keep it simple. They don’t know how to make us big again,” Scott stated.
“What? Didn’t you say Roger was getting smaller and bigger?” I asked in a panic.
“He had a way to do it. No one else has found what he was using or how he was using it yet though?” Scott explained.
We stood there in stunned silence as the giant SWAT team and cluster of cops walked around us.
“We’re going to have to stay like this for a while,” Scott went on.
“Any idea how long?” I asked.
“They don’t know, probably a while,” Scott answered and reached out and grabbed my hand.
If someone was able to create a technology to shrink and enlarge humans do you think he could create other technology that would be helpful should he enter a challenging situation?
Do you think he would be outsmarted by a simpleton and a cluster fuck of uneducated police officers?
Do you think he would have a process of replication or reanimation?
We’ve taken to actually living in the dollhouse. We tried to go back to normal, living in our bed, watching TV through a magnifying glass, but we found it too odd.
We got drunk off a drop of wine one night and thought it would be fun to spend time in the dollhouse and discovered it was comfortable and convenient. We moved in everything we needed and have been making home in there ever since.
We still don’t know when they’re going to be able to enlarge us. To be honest, we don’t know if we want them to anymore.