Tiny Viola ~ Chapters 51-60
Fifty-one ~ Sanctuary
Bonofacio walked at a fast pace to his car, Viola and Espie close on his heel. Once inside they locked the door.
Espie's rental car was missing, along with her purse and wallet.
Bonofacio drove straight to the Bordeaux Cathedral. Once inside they found a pew, genuflected, and then Viola and Espie quietly filled him in on what had happened at the lab. They explained how Stockton Hydrobian Lars had claimed to be shrinking other unsuspecting people and then putting them with psychopaths, how he had forced them to drink shrinking potion, and then stolen Espie's car and was going to steal her money.
"The problem is we need a safe place to be when we shrink again--," said Viola.
"If that's what's going to happen to us," said Espie.
"--until you can make us more LSR potion to bring us back to normal size," said Viola hopefully.
Bonofacio nodded. He was sore and beat up but he was game to help these two.
"Have you heard from Ramon?" asked Bonofacio.
"No. We tried to reach him but no one answered his cell phone. I left a message," said Viola.
"I wonder if he's OK, if this is what happened to you," said Bonofacio.
"We have to find him," said Espie. "He's probably in danger from this crazy Lars character."
"Do you have any idea where he might be?" asked Viola.
Bonofacio thought for a minute.
"I do know one of his old haunts. But we'll have to wait a while to find him there."
"This Lars is very dangerous," said Espie.
"You should go to the police and report your purse stolen," said Viola.
Bonofacio produced a cell phone.
"Can you imagine the headlines?" said Espie. "It'd be better if I stayed on the down low for a while. The less Lars sees or knows of me in the news, the better."
"Well at least call and close all your accounts," said Bonofacio, offering her the phone.
"Good idea," said Espie. She called her assistant Henia and had her freeze all her accounts.
"Bonofacio, do you need medical attention?" asked Viola. It was a funny question considering what might be coursing through the two girls' veins right at that moment.
Bonofacio's face was still pretty pink but the pain was gone. He wasn't worried about it healing since he knew the face heals very quickly. Also, luckily he recognized the purple potion -- simple cabbage juice he'd used as a marker in his plant experiments.
"No, I'll be fine. I understand why you attacked me now," said Bonofacio. "I'm just worried about you two. I need to make two more batches of Lycomobin Synclopia Rye for you ladies."
"That'd be great," said Viola. "But would it be safe to have it before we shrink? I'm afraid to fall asleep."
"Lars said the potion would only take one day to work, and judging by Viola's experience, sleep is a big part of it," said Espie.
"I'm not sure if LSR is safe to give you before you shrink. I'm sure you don't want to become a giant over night either. I just don't know what will happen, and unfortunately, nobody is sure you've drunk H-Hydrobi Factor X anyways," said Bonofacio.
"You make a good point," said Espie.
"Will you help us?" asked Viola.
"Yes," said Bonofacio. "You can stay with me and if you shrink, you shrink. I'll make the LSR potions and we'll do our best to get you back to normal as soon as possible."
The two ladies breathed sighs of relief.
"The only problem," said Bonofacio, "is if Lars is such a danger and he's after the LSR..."
"Yes?" asked Viola.
"Well, it doesn't look like my lab is safe any more, does it?" said Bonofacio.
Fifty-two ~ A Little Tour
Sam was beyond confused. He'd waken this morning in an unusual bed, not knowing where he was or who he was with. Four strangers had told him bizarre things that did not make sense, and a little girl was showing him room after room of identical furniture, laid out the same way.
Only the bundles of clothes in the corners were different.
"And this is Alex's room," said Elsa.
"Wait a minute, Elsa," said Sam.
Elsa stopped walking into yet another identical room.
"Just tell me where are we," said Sam.
"We're on a table with the FBI," said Elsa.
"The FBI?" Sam laughed. "Is Alex part of the FBI?"
"No, silly, he's been shrunk to two inches just like you," said Elsa.
"I'm not two inches tall!" exclaimed Sam. "I'm six feet. This joke has gotten old honey. Now just tell me where I really am -- what's the name of this place?"
"We're in a building on a table and the FBI agents are around out there," said Elsa, pointing to the uncovered ceiling. "They come by every once in a while to check on us and give us food. And empty the bathroom buckets."
Linda and Genie went by, huffing and puffing, dragging a bed behind them. Sam stood and stared. He walked over to where Alex was entering the farthest room at the end of the "table."
"Really man, what's going on?" asked Sam.
"Escape," whispered Alex. "You can help!"
"I'll help!" said Elsa. She began moving one of the smaller chairs over.
Everyone was moving something except Sam. He shook his head and sighed. He grabbed an armchair.
Fifty-three ~ Police Involvement
"Maybe Bonofacio should involve the police," said Espie.
"That's a good idea," said Viola. "Bonofacio, you can explain how Lars broke in and tried to steal your potion."
"It would be good to have a police presence at the lab," said Bonofacio. "We'll do our best to keep you out of this, Esperanza."
"Thank you Bonofacio," said Espie.
"Where should we go now?" asked Viola. She'd noticed nuns had begun looking at the trio suspiciously.
"How about we head somewhere we can get a safe meal," said Bonofacio. "Somewhere Lars won't be invited..."
Everyone sat quietly, thinking.
"I know," said Bonofacio, "I'll take you two to my place. Then I'll call the police and go back to meet them at the lab. Once that's secure we can figure out what to do from there."
The two women nodded.
"If you think we'll be safe from Lars there, let's go," said Viola.
The trio left the church and headed for Bonofacio's car to embark on the drive to Bonofacio's stone house in the center of the city.
Fifty-four ~ Stacking
As the stack of furniture grew higher, Alex's spirits lifted. The beds had been stripped of their sheets and Elsa worked to tie the sheets together to make one long sheet-rope. Alex, of course, periodically tightened the knots and provided encouragement.
Three beds formed the base of the pile, with two more beds on top of them and armchairs on top of them. It was hard, slow work, but Sam began pitching in and that helped. Everyone worked quietly and Alex helped direct the enterprise. The stack of furniture reached approximately seven inches and leaned into the corner of the farthest room. Just a few more well placed armchair parts and chairs and the precarious stack would be high enough for Alex to climb.
Finally, with the stack at nine inches, four little people watched as Alex climbed with the sheet-rope and another chair. At the top he added the chair and leaned it against the corner. He tied one end of the sheet-rope to the chair and threw the rest over the edge of the wooden border wall, where it cascaded down, flowing like a scarf. Alex looked back at the people below him and waved. They gave him a thumbs up.
Alex climbed the rope to the top of the wooden border. He was just about to stand up on it when a large hand picked him up.
Three little people on the ground scattered, except Sam who was frozen. Then he fainted.
Alex dangled from the hand. It was Matthew's.
"What have we here?" asked Matthew. "You want out? I just brought you lunch."
"See?" And Matthew showed Alex the office space around them, swinging him around in a swoop to see all of the office. It was pretty non-descript, just your basic office with blah-colored cubicles, a few black office chairs, a sofa, and the table with the border around it in the center.
Audrey held a take out bag of Chinese food.
He set Alex back down on the floor of the table.
"Why don't you have some lunch and calm down?" said Matthew. "After lunch I'll take you around, show you what's up."
Alex nodded. He sighed.
"All right," he said.
Geoffrey plucked the doll house chair with the sheet-rope tied to it and began untying the sheets.
Audrey's hands came down and started picking through the stack of furniture. The first thing she did was put the table down with five chairs around it. She put a little Chinese food, chow mein noodles and vegetables, on the table on a small round saucer that took up the entire table.
"Lunch is served," said Audrey.
Linda, Genie, and Elsa shyly approached the table. They were hungry.
Ramon reached down and picked up Sam's limp body. After a moment Sam woke up.
"AHHHHHHHHHH!!" he screamed.
He grabbed a hold of Ramon's thumb for dear life.
"I won't hurt you," said Ramon. "You must be in shock."
"I'm definitely in sh-sh-shock," stuttered Sam.
"Why don't I set you down in an armchair so you can collect your thoughts," said Ramon. With his other hand he arranged an armchair from the stack near the table with food. He gently set Sam down in the armchair.
Sam stared into space for a minute.
The other four little people were already eating lunch. A bundle of Barbie sporks had been handed out. They looked over their shoulder at Sam.
Sam got up and joined them at the table.
Fifty-five ~ Bonofacio's Stone House
Bonofacio wasted no time calling the police. While he was on the phone Viola and Espie checked out his place. It was very chic, with high ceilings and three bedrooms. In the back room was a small laboratory.
"Very dedicated to his science," said Espie.
When the police arrived, the three explained all that happened at the lab, only leaving out the parts about shrinking potions and growing potions, thinking that the police would not believe them. Viola and Espie gave a description to the police of Lars and Bonofacio warned them that Lars might go back to the lab to steal Lycomobin Synclopia Rye ingredients.
The police promised to investigate and to secure the lab, but recommended Bonofacio stay away until they could determine the lab was completely safe, or until Lars was apprehended.
With that, the police left for Bonofacio's work lab. Bonofacio offered to accompany them but they told him to stay where he was for his own protection. They left one police officer at the building to watch for any sign of Lars.
With the commotion of the police gone, the three people left regarded each other.
"Well," said Bonofacio. "How about Chinese?"
"Chow mein," said Viola.
Bonofacio called for take out.
Fifty-six ~ Lunch ~ Alex's Story
The band of little people talked over lunch.
Cashew nut tofu was added to the little doll house table along with Chinese greens. Elsa added a large cashew nut to her little Barbie plate. She liked nibbling on it.
"Alex," said Elsa, "tell me the story of how you became two inches tall."
"Well," began Alex, "I didn't have a choice. What about you? Did you?"
"Yes, but I guess I made a bad decision," said Elsa. "I drank a potion from a stranger."
"And you shouldn't have, isn't that right honey?" said Genie.
"Nope, I shouldn't have," said Elsa. "I miss Mrs. Bennington. But then I wouldn't have met you and Linda and Alex and Sam if I hadn't drunk the potion. And the FBI agents."
"How did you drink the potion, Sam?" Alex asked.
Sam was putting things together.
"I found the potion when I got home at 3am after a long night of delivering pizzas," said Sam. "I was tired and found this cute little bottle of pink stuff on my doorstep. I just took it inside without really thinking. I don't know what I thought it was. I was so tired from being up all night."
"You were delivering pizzas all night?" asked Elsa.
"Yeah, night shift is from 7pm until 2am. It's pretty busy. They're gourmet pizzas -- everyone loves 'em. Anyway, what happened was I went straight to bed -- without even thinking anything weird, and the next morning I slept in of course. And I made myself pancakes. Because I was stupid and got this idea that the potion was syrup that my ex had made me. And maybe she left it on my doorstep without a note or anything, just as a make-up gift. It'd be the kinda thing she'd do you see. So anyways, I make my pancakes and I'm eating them with the potion, and it was pretty good too, thinking about it."
"So what happened then?" asked Elsa.
"Nothing," said Sam. "I just went about my day without any worries. Then I called my ex to thank her for the syrup and she had no idea what I was talking about. I thought she just didn't want to own up to it so we had a fight. Anyway, I was off work so I did some shopping because I wanted to make up with her so I bought her a gift, then I did my laundry, then I did some chores and stuff like that. And then I went to bed pretty late, like I always do and..." Sam's voice trailed off.
"And then you woke up here three days later completely confused," finished Linda for him. "I understand, that happened to me too. Only we were in a different building then, we were in the USA."
"Three days? What do you mean -- we're not in the USA?" asked Sam.
"See how it works is this bad guy gets people to drink the potion," said Alex, "then you sleep for three days and wake up wherever he sends you. Luckily you and Linda were found by the FBI before, or just after, you landed at his destination."
"Which would be where?" asked Sam.
"It varies," said Alex, "but it's always with some psychopath. Someone or someones who have no caring, no respect for human life. And they just get a gift one day of a little person in the mail and I'm not going to talk about what happens after that in front of Elsa."
"We're the lucky ones," said Genie. "We were found by the FBI. There are a couple people out there who are still missing. In some cases the only clue the FBI has to go on is the left over potion bottle."
"How were you found?" asked Sam to Genie.
"I was sent to a little boy. A little boy who likes to hurt animals. Yeah, Lars thought he was going to have a good time with that one. But he doesn't know me at all. I talked that little boy into becoming a vegetarian. Got him in touch with his feminine side and once I'm bigger we're going to become pen pals."
"Wow," said Sam.
"That's really good," said Linda. "How'd you manage that?"
"Oh, he just needed some maternal guidance. I could tell it when I saw his mother. A complete case of neglect if there ever was one. I started slowly by showing him I cared about things he cared about, like riding a skateboard. Before you know it I was his little buddy in crime, going around in his pocket and sneaking under doorways to spy for him. We were inseparable. I tutored him in his ABC's and reading skills. But of course, at first, it was scary. He tried to stab me with a fork until I managed to convince him I wouldn't be running away from him if he treated me well. So.. yup. I think I reformed that boy for life. At least, I hope I have."
"How'd the FBI find you?" asked Sam.
"Audrey tracked the package I was sent in to his home. After they met the mother, they knew the little boy must have me. So they set up a sting at the skate park. They surrounded him and he knew he'd have to give. He cried. I gave him a hug. Well, his thumb."
"Wow," said Sam again.
"Yeah. I think I was his only real friend," said Genie.
"What about you Alex?" asked Sam.
"I was staying late at work one night," said Alex. "I work for NASA, doing engineering work on robotics -- designing testing for robotic rovers, stuff like that. Anyway, I was wrapping up a really thorough day -- we'd just made a major breakthrough with the movement of a Mars A-3 rover. So I went with a few friends to a local watering hole, The Space Age, we nicknamed it, where we like to hang out after work sometimes. I ordered a Long Island. That's what I thought I had. Must've set the drink down somewhere and our Lars character spiked my drink with shrinking potion. Anyway, I had a great time celebrating, got a little drunk, took a cab home and woke up in Tennessee three days later."
"Who'd you end up with?" asked Sam.
"A real character. His name was Mack Brody. But Lars was wrong. Mack wasn't violent. He would never harm me. Mack was just a loner. The only problem is he would never let me do my own thing. He kept me trapped, took away my freedom. He built an elaborate maze for me. He got a bunch of those Habitrails and laid them out through his entire house. Hundreds of feet of Habitrail tunnels for me to run through all day. He was good about food and water, played music for me, all that. I was basically the guy's pet. He just wouldn't let me out. It sucked."
"How'd you end up here?" Sam asked.
"I couldn't hang it after a while," said Alex. "Nothing's worse than losing your freedom. There was never something new ahead, only a different turn into yet another tube. I ran from one cage to another but it was only that, cage or tunnel. No choices. No independence. Not to mention I wanted to solve this problem of being only two inches tall."
"So did you escape?" asked Linda.
"Yup. I waited until Tuesday night, when Mack had his book club meeting. I encouraged him to join a book club with all the reading that guy did. I told him he needed to get out there, meet people, socialize. So he finally started going, every Tuesday night. He really enjoyed it too. Anyway, I planned it out for what must've been months. I had to make sure everything was just right. I noticed one of the tunnels had a weak spot. It was a red section in Mack's living room, right where the tunnel went under the sofa too. So I worked on that spot with all my might. I started asking Mack for items, said I was getting bored. I told him I was an engineer and always wanted to take apart a cell phone and stuff like that. He got me an old broken cell phone, and one of those little eyeglass repair kits. It was all I needed for my plan."
"Ooo," said Elsa.
"I took apart that cell phone and used the heaviest pieces to weigh down the red section. I managed to make a crack in the section after a lot of pounding one day while Mack was at work. Everyday I worked on it and every night I was there when Mack expected me, in the cage in the kitchen so I could get my daily dinner and food ration. So in the mean time I got Mack to give me a thread spool. Said it would help me from getting lost in the maze. Then one Tuesday I was ready. About 15 minutes after Mack left I took my chances with the red section of the Habitrail, under the sofa. I had braided the thread into a strong rope. I took that and one of the small eyeglass screws. I used the rope to lower me down and the screw for everything. I managed to get out of the Habitrail and into the livingroom. That's when Matthew found me."
"Matthew?" asked Sam.
"He's one of the FBI agents. He works as an actor, but in my case he broke into Mack's house and found me. The FBI was onto Mack -- after three months of me missing they'd managed to trace my disappearance to Lars somehow -- they call him "Professional Ghost" because they can track him but never catch him -- anyway, it just so happens they tracked my package to Mack and so they knew Mack had me. And it was obvious I was in the elaborate Habitrail throughout the house. So then it was just a matter of watching Mack's habits and waiting for the right moment -- they didn't want to risk Mack doing me any harm in an ambush. Just so happens the FBI and I picked the same night for my escape."
"So you agreed to help the FBI?" asked Genie.
"I did then, and I guess I still do now. I'm just impatient and I hate being locked up."
"Matthew said we'd get a look around after lunch," said Elsa.
"And I stand by my word," said Matthew from above.
"I'll help you too," said Ramon.
"Well, what are we going to see?" asked Linda. Lunch was just about over at this point.
"How about what we're up to -- the logistics of getting you guys to the lab in Bordeaux," said
Geoffrey. "But it looks as though the French police are already on it."
"Where are we now?" asked Sam. "I'd really like to know our exact spot. And what my story is."
"You're in an FBI bunker outside of Paris," said Audrey.
"Paris?" said Sam.
"Yup, Paris," said Audrey.
"We're keeping all the little people -- no offense -- together until we apprehend Lars and make sure they're out of danger from their previous -- well, I don't want to say owners -- but the big people who were keeping them trapped," said Geoffrey.
"What about Elsa?" said Sam. "Shouldn't you return her to her parents?"
"I'm an orphan," said Elsa. "My parents died in a car crash when I was a baby."
"Oh, I'm sorry," said Sam.
"Ms. Bennington takes care of me usually," said Elsa. "She's my foster mom."
"Ms. Bennington has agreed to keep quiet about Elsa shrinking and let Elsa stay with us for her own protection until Lars is apprehended," said Jeremy. "I'm Jeremy, by the way, an Investigator with the FBI."
"We tracked PG -- that's Lar's nickname here, 'Professional Ghost' -- to Paris about a month ago. We found you on the latest sting we set up in a Paris apartment. A couple known to have another tiny lady, a Viola Anderson. But she's still missing."
"She's with Esperanza Meadows," said Ramon.
Four large jaws and five tiny jaws collectively dropped.
"Yes, I can prove that," said Ramon.
Fifty-seven ~ An Idea
Over tofu kung pao and Chinese greens, Viola had time to think about all that had happened. She suddenly remembered something that had seemed insignificant before..
"Bonofacio," said Viola, "Didn't you have a friend who worked with H-Hydrobi Factor X?"
"Yes, I did," said Bonofacio. "She's a chemist in the Bay Area of California."
"Did she ever work with LSR?" asked Espie. "Or just the Hydrobi stuff?"
"She worked with H-Hydrobi Factor X," said Bonofacio. "It was very exciting government work, top secret, but she managed to share some things with me. She was not the creator of it; it was a found chemical mixture and the FBI recruited her to study it."
"If your lab is closed off, can you make LSR in the lab you have here at home?" Espie asked.
"Unfortunately not without more Lycomobin," said Bonofacio. "But I wonder if Mariana has any she can send me. That's an idea! I'll have Mariana send me the Lycomobin Synclopia Rye base in formaldehyde and I can do the distillation here at my home lab. Then it's just a matter of isolating the blood cell fission at the right humidity..."
Bonofacio trailed off, lost in thought.
"I think it sounds promising," said Viola hopefully.
"But I need the right equipment, a centrifuge, a cell freezer -- one able to get below -1250 degrees, a cell fission box -- a nice one, that can do multiple splits, oh all that and more is very, very expensive."
"I can help with that!" said Espie.
"But how?" asked Viola. "You just froze all your accounts."
"One word," said Espie. "Henia."
Fifty-eight ~ FBI Work
After lunch, Matthew lifted Alex out of the table box and put him on another table so he could watch the "big people" proceedings. The other little people were fine with waiting for the next update from the FBI, instead of getting it in real time.
"The police have secured Bonofacio's lab," said Geoffrey. He put down the phone.
"Let's go then!" Ramon said. "Bonofacio can make the LSR potions for each of them."
"The lab is secure, but closed," said Geoffrey.
"Where's Bonofacio?" asked Ramon.
"He's at his home with two ladies -- our missing Viola Anderson and a kung fu movie star, Esperanza Meadows," said Geoffrey.
"You were right," said Audrey.
Ramon nodded. "And I gather Viola is back to her real size or else the French police would be freaking right now."
"Why did the police secure Bonofacio's lab in the first place?" asked Elsa from the table.
Matthew heard her.
"Jeremy?" he asked.
"Because Stockton Hydrobian Lars showed up and caused quite a stir," he said.
"I know where Bonofacio lives," said Ramon. "Wouldn't it be best to get these five little people to him as soon as possible, so he can start the blood work for the LSR?"
"Good idea," said Geoffrey. "Let's call him and see what we can figure out."
Fifty-nine ~ Coordination
Bonofacio's phone rang. It was Jeremy. Bonofacio and Jeremy talked for some time. He stopped at one point to confirm with Espie.
"Espie, will you help me get the lab set up post-haste?" Bonofacio asked.
"Of course. I just have to call Henia," she said.
"The Federal Bureau of Investigation will be reimbursing you, Espie. Unfortunately there is still some bureaucratic tape to get through before they can release funds to me. But if everything goes to plan, everything will be ready in a month," Bonofacio said, also speaking into the phone.
Bonofacio and Jeremy hung up.
In a bunker on the outskirts of Paris, four little people celebrated at the news. In one month, or just a little longer, they would be back to their normal size. Elsa still needed some convincing that this was a good thing.
In an apartment in the center of Bordeaux, three people jumped up and celebrated. The FBI would soon be there to provide security. Bonofacio's lab would be set up with the expedition that can only be provided by a flow of unhalting funding. If Espie and Viola did shrink, they would be normal size at the end of the month. Espie called her director and explained that she was stuck in France with an emergency -- would it be possible to film her scenes a month from now? After much cajoling, the director agreed. She called Henia and had her open a different, new account for her to pay for the large equipment necessary in the manufacturing of Lycomobin Synclopia Rye potion.
All would soon be in order. Everything rested on Bonofacio's shoulders.
Sixty ~ Closer to Home
After a long, frightful, and dramatic day, Viola and Espie finally retired to Bonofacio's spare bedroom.
"This may be our last night together this big," said Viola, "if anything goes wrong."
"Don't talk that way," said Espie. "We're going to be fine regardless."
All the same they held each other all night.
In the morning a very, very small tear rolled down Viola's cheek. Somehow Espie was far away on the other side of the bed. They were both two inches tall. Viola went to her love and slid her small body down next to Espie's sleeping body.
Viola's arm around Espie, the two slept.
Audrey helped Viola and Espie into FBI issue women's two inch-sized clothing and introduced them to the five other little people found in five separate FBI stings.
Jeremy worked with a company in Georgia called Mountain Miniatures to overnight two half scale doll houses to the Bordeaux apartment. By opening them and putting each back half together, the tiny people had a rather large full size house to wander throughout. It was made for slightly larger dolls than the two inch people size, but it was a huge improvement from running along counter tops and risking squishing by floor-wondering. Various inch sized furniture was also included. All this came at a rather hefty price but no expense was spared.
In the chateau doll house, the little people made a happy home together. The excitement of the new home along with the daily updates from Bonofacio about the status of the equipment for the LSR potion kept everyone in high spirits.
The FBI worked with Bonofacio to purchase or create the equipment necessary for the creation of Lycomobin Synclopia Rye potion. Bonofacio had his chemist friend Mariana send him all she had of the formaldehyde mixture, which unfortunately wasn't a lot, but Bonofacio would do the best he could with the little he had to work with. It meant each drop was precious and no drop could be spared.
By the end of the week, just as everyone had hoped, with help from the FBI, Bonofacio's home lab was secured and ready for the shipments of equipment for the manufacturing of Lycomobin Synclopia Rye.
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