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Tiny Viola ~ Chapters 71-80
Seventy-one ~ The Sneak Out Continues
Espie then called Jim Benson. He took less well to being called in the middle of the night than Henia. After he stopped his grumbling Espie was able to get to the point.
"Jim, I'm sorry to call you so late but it's very important. The reason I'm not able to be in San Francisco right now for the movie is because I'm actually only two inches tall."
There was a long silence.
And then Jim hung up.
"I don't think that went well," said Espie.
Viola shook her head.
"Maybe if there's a way we can prove it to him," said Espie.
"What else have we got to do while we wait for the cure?" Viola asked rhetorically.
The two women snuck back to the doll house. Viola gave Espie a nice long kiss before retreating to her bedroom.
Seventy-two ~ Permission
It is easier to take permission than to ask for it.
"Absolutely not," said Audrey.
Geoffrey shook his head.
"Why not?" asked Viola.
"There's no need to," said Geoffrey. "It's just more danger to expose you to. We're not going to do that."
"I'm so tired," sighed Espie. She went back to the doll house to take a nap.
Viola and Geoffrey looked at each other. Viola looked at Audrey.
"She won't say anything but it means a lot to her," said Viola. "She's ruining her career by seeming to be a flake, when she's really not."
Audrey and Geoffrey looked at each other.
"How close are you guys to making more LSR? How's Alfred doing with that?" Viola asked.
Audrey shook her head.
"It's going slowly, unfortunately," she said.
Viola gave them her best look. She wished she had big puppy dog eyes instead of tiny little two inch women eyes.
"We feel helpless here," she said. "Help us fix the lives that one day we'll be going back to."
Geoffrey sighed and looked at Audrey. The two slowly nodded.
"I'll see what I can do," Geoffrey said.
Seventy-three ~ Sleepy
Bonofacio curled up in his "cell" and slept for hours. It was like blacking out. He'd awaken having no memory of his time asleep, but no sooner had he eaten and drunk some water than he was tired again -- and he'd fall asleep within fifteen minutes. He didn't like it but he felt so tired there was nothing he could do except yawn to struggle to stay awake before he'd give in to the sweet surrender of sleep.
With his logical, scientific mind, Bonofacio figured out he must be on a new sleeping pill drug of some kind. He didn't notice any specific tastes other than the food flavor he was eating and the water, so he couldn't figure out how they were giving him sleeping pills.
What started to scare him was that he'd remember curling up in one corner of the little padded cell only to find himself waking up on the other side, which could only mean one thing -- those big, medically-gloved hands were moving him from one side to the other, and possibly taking him out to perform goodness knows what on him.
He had to act fast, but he wasn't sure how or what he could do.
Finally, an idea came to him.
Seventy-four ~ A Little Help
Following his gut, and against FBI orders, Geoffrey Relph thought up a plan to help Espie save her job. A simple doctor's note would not suffice ~ the lady had to be ready to kick some ass with kickboxing moves and there would have to be no question about that or she could lose the role. Instead of trying to fake a cover for her absence, Geoffrey decided to do just what Viola and Espie had suggested -- let the director Jim Benson see Espie's tiny condition, particularly after he had heard how poorly Espie's phone call with him went.
Geoffrey called Jim's number and after many rounds of secretaries, he managed to get directly to Jim. A number of secretaries and assistants of different apartments seemed to think the FBI calling was a joke, until one assistant thought Geoffrey meant he was an FBI consultant for the movie. That's when the call was buzzed through.
Geoffrey was not used to talking with movie people.
"This is he."
"My name is Geoffrey Relph and I'm with the FBI. Do you have a few minutes to talk sir?"
"Sure, actually it's great you're calling because I was just thinking how much we could use expertise in the FBI department for the movie."
"I'm actually calling about your lead actress, Esperanza Meadows."
"Espie? Do you know where she is?"
"Yes, she's in our care."
"Your care? What, is she sick?"
"No... well, not ill, but she's not her usual self."
"I got a bizarre phone call from her that I did not think was funny."
"I'm sorry about that sir. As I said, she's not herself right at the moment. But I want to assure you we are doing everything we possibly can to return her to normalcy in time for your movie," said Geoffrey.
"It's past time for that. I've already held off shooting her scenes for a month. It's gotten crazy.
Where is she? Can I talk to her please?"
"That's a very reasonable demand," said Geoffrey. "She'd like to talk to you also. But we think it'd be best if we could have the two of you meet face to face. Would that be possible?"
"Of course. She's my lead actress. But where is she?"
"An unspecified location in San Leandro, but you're not to tell anyone that."
"Isn't that in the East Bay?" Jim asked.
"Ten miles south of Oakland."
"I'm in San Francisco at the moment," said Jim. "Well, where does Miss Missing Actress of my film want to meet?"
"It'd probably be better for you to come here where we're at, if that's OK by you Mr. Benson."
"Wait a minute," said Jim. "Can I talk to Espie now? Just to verify you're really who you say you are?"
"Sure thing," said Geoffrey. Espie was waiting.
Geoffrey put the phone down for Espie.
"Hi Jim?" Espie said.
Espie? What's going on dear?"
Espie had been coached not to mention anything about being two inches tall.
"It's just really important that you come out here Jim. I'm working with the FBI at the moment and I'm not able to get myself out of this mess without them. We thought it'd be good to let you in on what's really going on."
"Are you safe? Are you healthy?"
Jim was such a sweetheart.
"I'm fine, Jim," said Espie. "You're such a sweetheart. Please just come to see me."
Espie could hear Jim thinking.
"Well, OK," said Jim at last.
Geoffrey gave Jim the directions to meet an FBI car that would drive him to the top secret FBI compound hidden in plain sight in the suburbia of San Leandro.
Seventy-five ~ Sleepy Strikes Back
Bonofacio pretended to eat but spat out everything and put it in his little refuse pile, hidden under padding. Then, he pretended to sleep. He stayed limp and curled up in a ball until finally he heard the metal click of his cage opening. He stayed limp inside the medical-gloved hand and stayed limp when he was set down. Finally he opened an eye and HE DID NOT LIKE WHAT HE SAW.
A large needle was coming right at him. Inside was a purple bubbling mixture. Bonofacio would have none of that. In less time than it takes to write this sentence, Bonofacio was up and quickly running away from a startled Asian scientist. He hid behind bottles, darted left and right, and then he stayed put, letting large dark brown bottles obscure his presence. Because he was so fast and scattered, the scientist looked in the opposite direction for him, so he was safe for now.
He looked around him where stacks of what looked like prescription medicine reached up to a cabinet above him. He looked down the corridor at the scientist. It no time the scientist would be back looking over this area, so he had to act fast. Bonofacio climbed the stacks of medicine boxes and lifted open the wooden cabinet. It slid open just enough for him to jump and pull himself inside.
The cabinet closed behind him. A tiny sliver of light slid through the opening of the cabinet doors, so Bonofacio could see more and more boxes of prescription medicine inside. He opened one box and squeezed himself inside. Then he closed the lid, pulling the flap into him so the box looked untouched. Inside the darkened box Bonofacio stayed frozen, waiting.
Seventy-six ~ San Leandro
Jim Benson had been a director his whole life. He had lived life behind the lens of a camera, if not a moving camcorder or film camera, then a still photographer's camera. He was used to analyzing reality and could find the best angles and loveliest scenes around him. Being a top notch director he had seen a lot and had traveled the world. Suffice it to say, not much surprised him.
He arrived at a large warehouse in San Leandro the next morning at ten am sharp. He went to the red door and knocked. Geoffrey answered the door, wearing his FBI jacket for Jim's benefit.
"Where's Espie?" asked Jim.
"She's inside. Would you like some coffee or tea?" Geoffrey asked.
Jim followed Geoffrey down a corridor to a room. The entire warehouse was filled with offices, divided by low cubicle dividers. Large screens filled one side of the warehouse wall, with more information than Jim could possibly soak up or understand floating across them. The set up was enough to let Jim know this place was legit. It looked like a movie set actually, for some kind of futuristic FBI type film.. Jim was getting ideas already.
Geoffrey stopped at a closed door.
"Espie's in here," said Geoffrey.
"OK," said Jim.
"I just want to brace you that Espie is going to look different than how you know her and please do not be alarmed. She's in perfectly good health."
Geoffrey opened the door. Inside was a room devoted to a miniature kingdom, it looked like. There were doll houses and small buildings and tiny stairways and a regular-human sized pathway that was cordoned off with tiny, inch sized ropes which wound around the room so that regular sized people could enter and exit the room without risking stepping on one of the tiny inhabitants.
"This little room was designed with the help of Disney," said Geoffrey. "Although it was top secret, so even the designers didn't know what you're about to find out."
"Suddenly that phone call I got is starting to.." Jim trailed off.
"Just breathe," said Geoffrey.
Jim nodded. He was good.
"Espie?" Geoffrey asked.
"She's in the kitchen," yelled Viola from a bedroom window.
Jim's eyes bugged out.
Espie ran from the kitchen on the bottom floor up the stairs and to the bedroom where Viola stood on a little alcove. Espie stepped out.
"Jim! Here I am!" said Espie.
"I can't believe it!" said Jim. "Oh my God! It's you!"
"Wanna pick me up?" Espie asked.
Jim started laughing. It took him quite a while to stop.
"I'm sorry, I just can't believe this. Oh my God. This is incredible! I thought you were -- excuse my language -- shitting me."
"No, I'm really just two inches tall. This is Viola by the way," said Espie, indicating Viola beside her.
"There are more of us," said Viola. "Do you want to meet all of us?"
"Sure!" said Jim.
He couldn't stop shaking his head.
"My oh my oh my," he said, "my movie."
Sam, Alex, Genie, Linda, Elsa, and the three newest residents of Mouseville, as they called it, all stepped out of various doll houses and buildings.
Viola and Espie introduced each person.
"Lot of names to remember," said Jim. "I'll do my best."
"How did this happen?" Jim asked. "What happened to you Espie?"
"It's a long story," said Espie.
"Would you two like to step out to our lounge area and sit comfortably?" Geoffrey asked Jim.
The lounge area was a section of the room that had a chair and a table with tiny armchairs on it. This way the little people could talk to a regular sized person without shouting and the regular sized person wouldn't have to lean down.
Jim leaned down and hesitated before stretching out a hand to Espie.
Espie stepped onto his palm and looked up at him.
"Can Viola come too?" she asked.
"Sure," said Jim.
Viola stepped onto Jim's palm also.
Jim lifted the two women and walked over to the lounge where he set them carefully down next to the armchairs. He sat down and resting his chin in his palm, waited for them to get comfortable.
Seventy-seven ~ Hiding
Bonofacio's ears were perked as much as they could possibly perk. He waited with bated breath and strained to hear. He could just barely hear footsteps. It must be the Asian scientist. He waited. It definitely was the scientist. He could hear a shuffling of boxes below him, and then feel tiny vibrations of movement.
Then light flooded into the tiny cabinet -- Bonofacio could see inside his little box which meant the door was open. Then the world moved as Bonofacio was shifted around and moved somewhere to the left. He was set down but luckily the box was not opened. The scientist would have to open each box to find him. Was that what he was doing? Bonofacio strained to hear.
After a moment... no. The cabinet doors were shut. The scientist must have continued looking beyond the boxes, around the corner of the cabinet where even more bottles and boxes lay. Bonofacio breathed a sigh of relief, although he did not feel safe. He would have to wait until the scientists left for the day.
Bonofacio waited what felt like hours, but what really was ten minutes, and carefully pushed out the lid of the box. He lifted the flap and looked inside the cabinet. The boxes had been moved and rifled with, but not opened. Bonofacio closed the box he had been in and then picked a box in the back of the cabinet, behind all the others, and opened it, entered, and then closed himself inside.
He'd wait here until the end of the day.
The remains of sleeping pills still flowed through his veins. After waiting an hour in a frozen state, Bonofacio's body began to relax. Within half an hour after that, he had fallen asleep.
Seventy-eight ~ More Time
Viola and Espie told Jim the story of how first Viola had been shrunk, how the two had found each other on the plane to San Francisco, how Espie had helped Viola, and then how when everything seemed to be better and Viola was regular sized and the two went to thank Bonofacio, they had ended up being forced to drink shrinking potion by Stockton Hydrobi Lars. They explained how Bonofacio had helped them and how Ramon had brought the FBI to them, and how unfortunately Bonofacio had disappeared, presumed shrunk.
Jim nodded. It was all bewildering and far-fetched, but here were two tiny people talking to him in all seriousness.
"So is there any way you can hold the movie?" Espie asked. "I'd really like to take part but obviously I'm in no condition to right now."
"I don't know how much more time I can ask for from the producers," said Jim honestly. "But I will try. I'll see if I can get some rewriting done on the thing anyways -- there's a gaping plot hole in Act Two that has bothered me from the beginning. If the producers can see the story the way I see it, they'll understand there's huge room for improvement. Maybe I can work that angle and that would give you more time."
Espie breathed a huge (for her) sigh of relief.
"That would be awesome," she said.
"Then I could always through in a miniature person and let you play the part as you are..." said Jim excitedly.
"That can't happen," said Geoffrey from the doorway. He'd been listening in.
Jim grunted sadly.
Seventy-nine ~ Emerging
Bonofacio woke after having slept for four hours. He felt refreshed and wide awake. It was very, very dark in the cramped medicine box. A pharmaceutical bottle was inside the box with him and his body was squished between it and the box. He opened the box and stepped out, yawning and stretching. He listened very carefully but could hear absolutely nothing. Now was the time.
Slowly, carefully, he began feeling his way to the front of the cabinet where a gray sliver of light shone through.
At the front he took a breath and put his ear to the crack. Still nothing.
Finally he inched the cabinet door open and poked his little head out to see who, if anyone, might be there.
There was no one that he could see. The lab was dark and quiet. He jumped out of the cabinet and toppled down the boxes. At the bottom he retraced his way back to where he'd begun. He could see little people in five cages, all sleeping. He came to his cage -- there was already a replacement for him inside! A two inch man was asleep in the corner. Bonofacio shook his head.
Eighty ~ Honing In
After Jim Benson had left, still shaking his head to himself, and Viola and Espie were returned to their doll house, the little people had a meeting with the FBI agents. Alfred and Ramon were there, along with Saulo.
"What's the status with Lycomobin Synclopia Rye potion?" Viola asked.
"Sadly we have not been able to isolate it," said Jeremy, "but we do have an idea. We are going to have our FBI agents scour Dr. Sacchi's lab to try to find clues or directions for the making of it. We hope that by doing so we will get one step closer to creating the LSR cure."
"And what about finding Stockton Lars?" asked Gilbert, a middle-aged bookkeeper and one of the newest to be shrunk to two inches.
"PG? I'm on it," said Audrey. "For one thing we have a lead that he may be sending his victims to a location deep in China, however we have yet to infiltrate the location."
"Do you have any idea of his location?" Andrew asked. Andrew was another of Lars' victims. A lean nineteen year old, a new recruit to the army, he was a soldier through and through.
"We do have an idea," said Audrey.
"Where?" Everyone asked.
"We think he's been building a home base in Las Vegas."