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Tiny Viola ~ Chapters 41-50
Forty-one ~ Bordeaux
Espie and Viola knocked on the door to Dr. Sacchi's lab but no one answered.
"Maybe he took the day off," said Viola.
"Maybe," said Espie.
Suddenly the door opened and an assistant peeked out.
"May I help you?" He asked.
"We're looking for Dr. Bonofacio Sacchi," said Viola.
"And you are...?" asked the assistant.
"Friends. Of his," said Espie.
The assistant seemed to see Espie and spent a moment looking at her. If he recognized her, he hid it well.
"Let me see if I can find him," said the assistant. "Why don't you come in?"
The two women followed the assistant through squiggles of hallways and finally to Dr. Sacchi's lab. But the lab was empty.
"He must be here somewhere," said the assistant. "Let me go see if I can find him for you."
Surrounded by tubes and glass beakers, the two women waited.
After some time, Espie said, "It looks like he must've just been in here." She pointed to a lit Bunsen burner.
Viola nodded. "Wonder where he could've gone. Maybe he took lunch."
The two women looked at the different potions.
Suddenly, with a deep boom, the lights above went out. The only light in the room was the flame from the Bunsen burner.
Viola and Espie jumped.
Where was that assistant?
Forty-two ~ The Table
The table was eight feet long and rectangular. A wood border two inches thick and a foot high went around the surface, so it was like looking into a box.
Ramon walked over to the table and peered in.
There were five little people in the box, two women, one little girl, and two men. Ramon recognized Sam, the two-inch sized person he had found in the box. Sam was still sleeping, but this time his body had been placed snug and comfortable on a small doll house bed. The box-table had been filled with doll house-sized furniture. In addition, walls and doorways had been created so that the little people had privacy from each other and each had their own room. There was no ceiling, of course, so Ramon could see every room from the bird's eye view.
There were eight rooms total, each about a foot long, along one half of the table. The other side was open. Each room had a door that opened to the "outside" communal space where more furniture had been set out.
The two women and the little girl were sitting in tiny armchairs talking. Sam was sleeping in one of the rooms. The other man was walking along the wall of the table, testing it with his hands for weak spots or places to grip.
Geoffrey came over.
"Hey guys," he said, speaking to the little people inside the box-table. "Let me introduce you to Ramon Orand. Now, I can't promise you anything, but he may be the key to help you return to your regular size."
The little people all looked up at Ramon, except Sam who was fast asleep.
"Ramon, these are the survivors. They've all agreed to help us so we can help them. The FBI and the United States government is determined to return these people to their rightful respective sizes and then back to their normal lives. Unlike what you might read in some fanciful novel, the FBI is not in the business of running secret tests on mutants or little people like these folks. We just want to get them healthy and back to normal. We're doing our darnedest to find the other five people who we believe have been shrunk and are missing. We found each of these guys after various stings. Each time Lars got away."
One of the women, the brunette, spoke up.
"How can you help us return to normal? Are you a scientist?" she asked.
"My close friend is. He's already created a potion called Lycomobin Synclopia Rye that works to enlarge living organisms. I found another women, Viola, who was shrunk, and I believe by this time now, she must already have returned to her normal size."
Murmurs and gasps of pleasure escaped from the little people.
"I like being an inch tall!" said the little girl. "It's fun!"
"If the FBI isn't testing us," said the little man, "then why are we locked in this coffin?"
"Alex!" said the other women, a blonde.
"We're not in a coffin, sweetie," she told the little girl.
"We're not testing you," said Jeremy. "You're four feet off the ground. We want to make sure you didn't fall to your death. If you want out and we can accommodate, we'll help you, but we can't lose sight of you or you really may have no hope of ever returning to regular size."
"Lycomobin Synclopia Rye potion is a real thing," said Ramon. "My friend, Dr. Sacchi lost a lot of sleep working on it. If anyone could have invented it, it would be him."
"Well, where is it? I want to take some and get back to life," said the man.
The FBI agents all looked at Ramon.
"Dr. Sacchi has to use your blood to code the LSR to your DNA. Each potion is an individual process."
"No problem," said the man.
"No way!" said the little girl. "I hate needles!"
"There's one more thing," continued Ramon. "The potion evaporates quickly, one minute after it's made, so you'd have to be there in his lab to drink it before it evaporates."
"Well let's go!" said the blonde.
"We're on it," said Geoffrey. "I need a day to make arrangements, to make sure everything checks out and is safe. Then we'll take you all there. I promise."
"What about lunch?" said the brunette.
The FBI agents looked at each other.
"What would you like?" asked Matthew. "I'll go pick you guys up something."
Forty-three ~ Lab Rats
The women had been waiting for quite some time.
"Maybe we should go find him ourselves?" said Viola.
The two were just about to leave when they heard footsteps. Slow footsteps, the sound of someone descending a staircase at their leisure. It came from the far corner of the room.
Espie gestured to Viola to be quiet. Then she shook her head and waved Viola over.
The two very quietly started heading for the door they had come from.
"I wouldn't try that if I were you," came a voice from the corner. It was the assistant's voice. "Anyway, it's locked."
Espie and Viola looked at each other wide-eyed. There was one other door on the right. They both instinctively headed for it.
"All the doors are locked," said the voice. "What do you think I've been doing?"
"Wasting my time," said Espie.
Viola couldn't help but giggle a little.
The assistant appeared. He was holding a pink potion in a beaker and a gun.
"You're ruining everything," he said. "My name is Lars. Stockton Lars. I'm the bad guy here. You two have ruined my experiment. I shrink people and then mail them to sociopaths to see how they will get out of it. And no one ever gets out of it until you and the FBI showed up."
He was staring at Viola.
Viola was wide-eyed, frozen.
Espie walked to her and put her arm around her protectively. Viola gathered her thoughts.
"I don't remember you. All I did was drink a potion. You must be crazy," Viola said.
"I was there at the lake Viola. I was watching you from a grassy knoll not far from where you sat staring off into space. I thought it would take forever to get you. But it only took one night. I broke into your apartment and you were already asleep. I didn't even have to force you to drink the potion. I found out long ago, especially with children -- that it's all in the presentation. You let someone find an exotic looking bottle and exactly eight times out of ten they'll drink the potion inside of it. It's always easier if they drink it themselves. Sometimes I have to coerce things along. Like now."
He smiled wickedly.
"I took you with me to Paris, to my sociopathic friends the Lopezs also known as the Abadies. They did just what I thought. They locked you up right away. They had plans to put you in a miniature circus from what I hear. Those Abadies. They only think about money. Ripping people off."
Espie took a deep breath. She held Viola tighter.
"And you, Esperanza Meadows. The movie star with the secret life and the funny name. You have plenty of money, don't you?"
Espie didn't say anything.
"Because you have two choices here. Pay me and I'll give you a chance at life or don't pay me and you both die. I'm going to tell you exactly what I have planned so you can make a good, clear choice Esperanza."
"Please let us go," said Viola.
"NO!! I can't afford to have you talk. The FBI are on my butt enough. You both have to disappear because you both know about something I invented called H-Hydrobi Factor X. Incidentally Hydrobian is my middle name. Stockton Hydrobian Lars."
"We won't say anything," said Viola. "Ever."
"What do you think I've been doing all this time? I've been watching you. Watching your every move. The Abadies don't know this but there are miniature cameras all through their house. I followed you and Ramon to the airport and watched as you three explored San Francisco. I had to wait and bide my time because I needed the same answer that you needed. I needed LSR. And now I have it. You can thank Dr. Sacchi for his work but you might find his reply a little stiff."
Lars laughed at his own joke.
Viola looked at Espie. Her stomach sunk.
"We don't know anything," said Espie.
"I can't afford to take that risk," said Lars. "In fact, I can't afford much of anything these days. I have an enterprise to run and many little people to look after. It's not easy flying to San Francisco and back in the span of a few days. I'm not a movie star with movie star money."
"I'll pay," she said. "Just don't kill us."
Forty-four ~ More Interviewing
"There's one more thing we want to know," said Geoffrey to Ramon.
"What?" asked Ramon.
"How did you first find Viola?"
"I saw her at a party I went to. I didn't really know the hosts. I went with a colleague of mine. She was smack dab in the middle of the room in a ten gallon aquarium."
Geoffrey and Saulo were looking at each other and nodding.
"We're just wondering then if our Professional Ghost was there that night? We think he works by using hundreds of hidden tiny cameras. But we're not sure," said Saulo.
"I don't know," said Ramon. "But I can tell you I didn't know anyone else there except my colleague. And I don't remember Lielle or Jean introducing me to any roommates."
"Dead end?" asked Audrey to the group.
"How would I know if someone could be him?" asked Ramon.
"He'd be the meanest son-of-a-bitch in the room," said Saulo.
"Drink this," said Lars, holding up the pink potion. He pointed the gun in his other hand a little higher at them, at their hearts.
"Here, I'll make it easier for you," said Lars.
He pulled out two glass beakers from the lab table and washed them at the lab sink.
"Gotta keep the potion pure," he said with a laugh.
He shook out the bottles and then poured the pink potion from the first beaker into the other two in equal measure.
He set the beakers on the table.
Now he pointed the gun at Espie and Viola.
"The truth is ladies, I could use the money but I've managed to get by this long without it. So I really mean it when I say pay and drink or die."
"How can I pay you if I'm two inches tall?"
"I don't think you'll like my plan but that doesn't mean you won't go along with it. I think you'll see that you must or risk losing the lovely Miss Darling Schoolteacher," said Lars, indicating Viola with the gun. "Now stop messing with me."
Viola looked at Espie.
"Whatever you choose is OK by me," said Viola.
"We'll drink them at the same time," said Espie.
Lars cocked the hammer of the pistol.
"You have half a minute," he said. He looked at his watch.
Viola and Espie stayed frozen.
Lars shot at the floor by their feet! They both jumped.
"It starts NOW!" he shouted.
Viola and Espie held hands and walked cautiously toward Lars and the table with the beakers.
Slowly, they each held out an arm in unison, and slowly moved the beakers to their lips.
"One, two, three," said Espie.
They both looked at Lars.
"New potion. Improved. You won't sleep three days this time. Only one day."
Forty-six ~ A Little Escape Plan
Alex Neman stopped walking. He had walked eight times around the perimeter of the rectangular box he was trapped in and he had not found a single weak spot in the wood. There were no nicks, no scratches, no footholds or cracks that he could use to get a leg up, not even in the corners. He had checked all the rooms and the beds only went up an inch off the floor. All in all he counted seven arm chairs, five regular chairs, five beds, two tables, and five stacks of clothes made especially for each person. In the communal area there were additionally two couches and a chaise lounge ~ no doubt straight from out of a doll house somewhere.
He looked over at the two women and the child who were still sitting in the armchairs, chatting happily. Women. How they could relax at a time like this, he didn't know. Alex was all instinct. He knew the FBI was lying to him. He could smell danger. Alex would only feel safe when he had his freedom back, even if that meant living like a wild mouse somewhere.
But he had an idea and for it to work, he'd need help. Not help from the useless FBI. Help from the two woman and the girl on the couch.
Before he could put his plan in action he heard something.
"Hello?" It was Sam, the other fellow who was just waking up after three days long of sleeping and shrinking.
Alex's plan would have to wait.
Forty-seven ~ Preparations
Lars still had his gun pointed at the two women.
"Now, give me your ATM card," he said to Espie.
"It's locked in the car," said Espie.
"Keys," demanded Lars.
Espie looked at Viola. Viola nodded solemnly. Espie took the car keys out of her pocket and held them out to Lars.
"I'll be right back my darlings," said Lars cruelly.
He left the lab, locking the door behind him.
"We have to do something!" whisphered Viola. She ran up the corner stairs but the door at the top was locked. She tried the other two doors in the room, both locked.
"When he comes back, let's be prepared," said Espie. "I'll kick the gun out of his hands."
Viola went to the lab table. On it were beakers filled with various mixtures. She picked one and began heating the bottom of it with the Bunsen burner. In no time at all the mixture was boiling.
"I'll throw this shit at his face," said Viola.
"How will we know which door he'll come from?" asked Viola.
"It's got to be this one," said Espie, indicating the door from which Lars had left and Viola and Espie had entered the room. "I'll stake this one out and wait right here."
The two girls got into position.
"Turn down the Bunsen burner so he won't be able to see!" whispered Viola suddenly.
Espie ran back and turned it off. Then she got back into her position at the door, ready to pounce. The two girls waited.
Forty-eight ~ Sam
Sam was disheveled and confused. Alex looked up but the big people were no where to be seen. They must have retired somewhere to strategize.
Sam was in FBI-issue pajamas. He was rubbing his head.
"Hello?" Sam said again.
"Sam Mensch," said Alex. "I'm Alex."
"That's Linda." Sam pointed to the blond.
"That's Genie." He pointed to the brunette.
"And that is Elsa," he said, pointing to the little girl.
"Linda, Genie, Elsa, Sam, and Alex," said Sam with a laugh. "OK, where am I? Is this some joke?"
"No, unfortunately Sam, this is not a joke," said Alex.
By now the ladies were aware that Sam was awake.
"Hi Sam," said Genie and Linda.
"Say 'hi' to Sam, Elsa," said Linda.
"Hi Sam," said Elsa shyly.
"Do you know what's happened?" asked Linda to Sam.
"No, except I should be waking up in my own bed but instead I'm here with you people."
"Well, you've shrunk to two inches and now we're staying with the FBI. They're going to try and help us get back to our regular sizes, so don't you worry, I'm sure we're in good hands," said Linda.
"We're not 'staying'," said Alex. "We're trapped. There's a big difference."
"Wait a minute -- wha??" said Sam. "Two inches? I'm not two inches."
"Yes you are," said Elsa. "We all are. Well, I'm not. I'm only one inch. But you're two inches tall just like Linda and Genie and Alex."
"I'm in a nut house," said Sam.
"Well if you want to get out of it," said Alex, "follow me."
"Wait a minute, what?" Sam was confused.
"Look around you man. You're trapped. We all are. See those walls. They go up twelve inches. Not twelve feet, twelve inches. You don't know you're only two inches high because you haven't been awake long enough. Look up. Note where the ceiling is."
Sam looked up. The ceiling was way, way up there, way beyond the twelve inches of the walls.
"I'm confused," said Sam. "I don't think this joke is funny at all."
"Poor Sam," said Elsa.
Forty-nine ~ A Mix Up
In the dark lab room Espie and Viola waited with baited breath for Lars to reappear. After an interminable length, the quiet turn of a key in a door could be heard. The door finally creaked open. Light streamed into the room and a figure approached.
BAM!! Espie kicked out at the figure. Viola threw the potion at its face ~ but too late.
"AAAAAAHHHH!!!" yelled a male voice. A very familiar man's voice.
It was Bonofacio.
He was screaming in pain. His face was contorted and purple from the boiling mixture Viola had thrown.
"Bonofacio!" Viola said. "Oh my God!"
"Help him!" said Espie.
"Don't touch me!" yelled Bonofacio.
"We have to help him," said Viola.
Bonofacio was already heading to the sink, but his eyes were closed, so Espie and Viola both helped Bonofacio to the sink, where they helped him wash cold water on his face. After ten minutes of this, Bonofacio calmed down.
His arm had a deep bruise. His face was a deep pink. His brow was furrowed.
"What's the meaning of all this?" he asked Viola and Espie.
"We thought you were dead," said Viola.
"It's a long story," said Espie, "but we came here to thank you and ended up drinking more potion. There's a Stockton Hydrobi Lars loose and he wants to kill us!"
Bonofacio looked confused.
"I step away to the bathroom and all this happens? You'll have to explain it to me again." he said.
"OK, but not here," said Viola. "Espie's in real danger. Someone wants her money and has probably stolen her car and her purse. He might even be here still. We have to leave, now!"
"What are you talking about?" asked Bonofacio.
"Look," said Espie, pointing to the gun shot powder on the floor. "He shot at us. We'll tell you everything but not here. We have to all leave now."
Bonofacio looked from one girl to the other bewildered. He looked at the bullet that had dented the floor.
"Please, Bonofacio," said Viola, "can't you take us somewhere safe?"
"I thought this lab was safe," said Bonofacio.
"Not right now, not any more," said Espie. "We have to go NOW."
Bonofacio nodded his head.
"All right. You want somewhere safe. Then follow me," he said.
He began walking toward the open door with the light streaming in. The two girls followed.
Fifty ~ A Revolution
"It's time for a revolution!" said Alex. "It's time to blow this joint. Who's with me?"
"What's your plan?" asked Genie.
"My plan? My plan is simple. Stack the furniture up and climb our way to freedom, just over the twelve inch wall."
"You're going to drop four feet to your death!" said Linda.
"I must be dreaming," said Sam. He began to walk around exploring and touching things. "Either that or I'm going crazy."
Elsa smiled up at him.
"I can show you around," said Elsa.
She took his hand and led him to the first room at the end of the table.
"This is my room," said Elsa.
Inside was a little bed with white sheets and a chair. A bundle of clothes was in the corner.
She led him to the next room, next door.
"This is Genie's room," said Elsa. "Genie and Linda are my two best friends."
While Elsa gave Sam a tour, Alex turned to Genie and Linda.
"I'll need your help. Are you with me or against me?" he asked Linda.
"I'll help," said Genie. She was in it for the fun of it more than anything.
"This is silly," said Linda. "And very dangerous."
"I'll be careful. I just want to see what's behind those walls."
Curiosity got the best of Linda.
"OK, count me in," said Linda.
"Great! Now help me move the beds to the far room. It's the furthest away with the dimmest lighting. We can start our climb there by stacking up the beds."
They went to work.