When the earthquake hit, my jar was knocked over. There was no lid, because my captress didn't think that a man who had been reduced in mass, weight, strength and size equal to that of an ant could possibly scale the sides of the slick glass jar that had been my prison. But the earthquake provided me with the perfect opportunity to escape!
Several other jars had been knocked over, and three other miniaturized captives were also in the process of escaping, but as I scanned the counter top where I was standing, it bereaved me to see that not all of us would be able to seize this opportunity. Two of the jars were still vertically upright, with the tiny captives still trapped inside. There was no way to help them, it would've taken too long.
As I made my way up the electrical cord that was strapped to the open widow that had been shattered during the quake, I looked outside and saw that the damage had not been limited to the inside of the laboratory. The red brick wall that surrounded the perimeter of the building complex had been damaged. A whole section of it about eighteen inches in diameter had completely broken away.
The other three guys were already climbing down the rose bush that was next to the lab. They didn't even bother greeting me, in spite of the fact that we had all been through the same experience of being held captive against our will. There just wasn't time. In the seconds or minutes it would've taken to hold a conversation, Katrina could've returned.
I assume that the others were shrunk and captured the same way I was. Katrina had given me a ride when I was hitch-hiking, and after a question and answer session, she realized that I was from out of town. I had been traveling across the country, and none of my relatives knew my current whereabouts, which fit perfectly with Katrina's evil plan. Her questions didn't arouse my suspicions, because they fit into the category of questions that just about any curious driver would normally ask a hitch-hiker.
I also never gave it a second thought when Katrina brought up the topic of neutrino dissimilation. To be sure, it wasn't a normal every day topic of conversation, but it was summer time between my sophomore and junior year at Georgia Tech where I was majoring in nuclear physics, so it was in my area of interest. The theory of neutrino dissimilation had been accidentally discovered in California, by a professor at a university who had been working on a cold fusion experiment. That professor's lab had been raided by bandits who had obviously been hired by someone to steal the schematics of the cold fusion reactor. Three of the bandits had been charged for the robbery, and the trial had made national headlines.
When Katrina told me she worked at a laboratory, I expressed interest, so she offered to show me a neutrino dissimilator that she was working on. I knew it was good to make connections with physicists and experts, so I might have some friends in high places when I graduated, just in case I wanted to return to look for a job; so I jumped at the chance.
As I stood there in the lab that day looking over the innards of the dissimilator, Katrina explained the miniaturization theory to me. The atoms of all elements are made of protons, neutrons, and electrons. These three particles are made up of quark particles that are held together by gluon particles. The most important particle that made miniaturization possible, however, was the neutrino.
The neutrino is the smallest particle known to man, with a mass equal to about one-billionth of that of a single proton. It is so small, that neutrino particles emitted by the sun could pass straight through the Earth at near the speed of light, without bumping into any atoms on the way through. The quantum neutrino dissimilator, conveniently referred to as a "Downsizer" by Katrina, converts over 99.9999 percent of the matter making up the quarks and gluons of protons, neutrons, and electrons into neutrino particles.
Once these neutrino particles exited whatever or whoever the downsizer had been used on, these particles went shooting off into outer space at near the speed of light, never to be recovered again. Although the quantum neutrino dissimilation effect could decrease the size, weight, volume and mass of a person or object, no theory had been developed which could restore any person or object back to normal size.
As I marvelled at the magnificence of this fantastic new technology, Katrina had asked if I wanted anything to eat or drink, and stepped out of the room. My back was still turned to her when she activated a hand-held quantum neutrino dissimilator at me, and fired. I had been unaware that Katrina had built a working model and kept it in the lab, or I would've been more careful and alert.
After being reduced to the size of an ant, Katrina placed me in a jar and explained that she needed to research the effect of the downsizer on people, so she could determine whether it was safe enough to be used on criminals. The latest talk had been of legislators passing a bill requiring all prison inmates serving life terms to be miniaturized and sold as toys, but years of research would be required before such a bill would even be considered by congress or the senate.
That had been three weeks ago. Now I was finally free, and I intended to stay that way. I navigated the blades of grass that towered over me like trees, completely unaware of the location of the other escapees. When I came to the brick wall, It took several minutes to climb up and over the pile of broken bricks and mortar of the broken section of the wall. Once on the other side, it was a lot easier; for as far as the eye could see, there was nothing but plains strewn with occasional boulders (pebbles) and clumps of wild grass growing here and there.
When I started to run, I eventually caught sight of the other three former captives. They were making their way, hell-bent-for-leather, towards the creek that was several hundred yards from our current location. To us, those several hundred yards were like several miles.
My heart pumped with fear as I raced at top speed, because I knew that Katrina would be on our trail very soon, as soon as she realized that we were missing. I knew if I could make it to the other side of the creek, I would be home-free, because the dense foliage on the other side would make it impossible for Katrina to find me, but getting there was the biggest problem. The field between the brick wall and the creek was barren, which would make spotting me and the other miniaturized escapees that much easier for the giantess that would soon be hunting us down.
After running for at least a mile (from my perspective), I stopped to catch my breath and looked back. The brick wall and the top of the lab beyond were still all too close. If Katrina tried to track me down, I was a convenient distance from the perimeter of the laboratory complex, which would make her job much easier. When you're the size of an ant, it takes a long time to get anywhere.
A voice like thunder shattered the silence. Another equally loud voice, a girl's voice, replied. I knew it was Katrina and her bratty 12-year-old niece, Jessica, who had come to visit her aunt for the summer. Katrina had promised Jessica that she would be allowed to keep one of us, if she cleaned up around the lab and behaved herself. Therefore, the girl was now eager to capture as many escapees as possible. If we all got away, there would be none of us left for her to keep.
I started running again, and as I did, I looked back and saw Katrina and Jessica. They were climbing over the brick wall in an effort to capture us. Katrina had a large jar in her hand, and Jessica had a smaller but equally inescapable jar in her hand.
I knew that my best strategy once they began to draw near was to run from pebble to pebble as I made my way towards the creek, and when one of them looked in my direction, all I needed to do was remain still, and I should remain hidden. I was so small that a normal sized person wouldn't be able to see me among the pebbles and different colored dirt and sand, because they would be trying to scan a wide area, and all they would be able to detect was movement. As long as I was still, Katrina or Jessica could look right at me as they turned their head from left to right, and they would never notice me.
One of the others didn't figure this out, and he was the first to get captured by Katrina. Jessica was jealous, because to her this was like a game, and the score was now Katrina one, Jessica zero. Because of this, Jessica was all the more obsessed with capturing one of us. She lumbered in my direction, and I was frozen in fear as she stopped right behind of me, only a couple of normal-sized feet away.
As she looked around, her eyes passed over my location, but, just as I had planned, she didn't notice me because I remained motionless. When her gaze shifted to the right, I ran to the pebble right in front of me, but stopped there and hid when Jessica's eyes passed by me again as her head shifted from right to left. When she was looking to the left, I ran forward to the next pebble. I actually had a hope that this just might work, because if she stayed where she was, I could gain some ground and leave her behind, but this wasn't the case.
Every time I moved a few inches forward, Jessica took another step forward, which closed the distance between us. She finally gave up and became frustrated, and knelt down and began scattering small rocks and pebbles with her hand, hoping to find a miniaturized captive that had managed to hide beneath one of the pebbles. Her hand drew near, and I knew that my strategy of remaining still and moving when her head was turned wouldn't work at this close distance, because she was close enough to me now that she would notice any movement at all, even out of the corners of her eyes.
Just when I was about to give up and accept defeat, a miracle happened. Katrina caught another miniaturized man, and Jessica became angry. Jessica stood up, kicked some rocks, and thundered right past me as she ran towards the creek. She yelled back to Katrina:
"I'll stay here and wait for them to try to cross the creek. I'll definitely catch one now!"
In the process of allowing me to harvest the fruits of one hope, fate had allowed another hope to be shattered. With Jessica standing guard over the creek, there would be no way to cross without being captured.
"That's a good idea!" Replied Katrina. "You guard the creek and catch any of them that try to cross, and I'll hunt them down as they try to cross the field!"
It was hopeless. The creek wound around the laboratory complex, so it was impossible to go around without walking around to the front of the complex. In that time, Katrina could cover every square inch of territory between the wall that surrounded the perimeter of the lab and the creek, front and back. It looked like I was faced with two choices: get captured by Katrina, or get captured by Jessica. Regardless of how hopeless it seemed, I continued making my way towards the creek, heading towards a section a good distance from where the colossal girl was standing.
Jessica stood there, one foot on each shore of the creek, arms folded across her chest, scanning the area in front of her and behind her for any movement. It would not be possible to cross the creek within 20 or 30 yards of her location without her knowing about it. My goal was a location about 50 normal-sized yards from Jessica, where I might be able to cross without being seen by her, if I could avoid being captured by Katrina in the process.
I decided to go all out and make a run for it, rather than to rely on my previous strategy. After fifteen minutes I was about twenty yards from the edge of the creek, and within about five more minutes I was ten yards closer. I looked behind me, and realized it had been a mistake to abandon my original strategy, because Jessica spotted me, in spite of the fact that I was about fifty yards from her.
"Aunt Katrina!" Jessica yelled, "I saw one over there!"
The two of them started moving in my direction, and they could've easily reached me long before I could get to the creek. As they closed in, I realized that my only hope was to find an ant hole or a gopher hole to hide in. I had passed a couple of gopher holes, but they were too far behind me to reach them in time. I had only a matter of seconds before my captors would arrive.
I ran forward, towards the creek, looking for any holes I could find. There was only one to be found, so I ran for it. I reached the edge of the gopher hole when Jessica was still a few steps away, but I hesitated; I didn't know if there was a gopher or a snake in the hole, and I was scared. I tried to circle back around and try to reach one of the ant holes I had passed, but Jessica arrived before I could even get close.
She was only a few steps away from me, so I hid behind a pebble, hoping she wouldn't notice me. Jessica didn't give up that easily. She knelt down and picked up every single pebble and rock within a square yard of where I was at, and I was trapped. When she picked up the pebble I was hiding behind, I knew it was over.
Jessica turned the jar upside down, and dropped it over me. The jar was about three inches high, but to me it seemed like the height of a 15 story building. Katrina soon arrived to assist with my capture, to ensure that I wouldn't be crushed by Jessica's fingers if she tried to pick me up.
Katrina's method was effective, but not scientific. She simply picked up the jar, licked her index finger, and pressed down on me gently. With the jar held right side up in her other hand, she wiped me against the inside of the jar.
"Since you found this one, I'll let you keep him." Said Katrina.
Jessica's eyes lit up with joy as Katrina handed her the jar. She looked at me with the enthusiasm of a kid on Christmas morning who just opened a present and found her favorite toy.
"Now you have to promise not to let him escape, Jessica." Said Katrina.
"Don't worry," said Jessica, "I'll make sure he'll never escape from me! I promise, aunt Katrina!"
As Jessica carried my jar back to the lab, I knew she would make good on that promise; I had made a sincere effort and tried as best as I could to get away, but I knew that I would never again have another chance to make another escape attempt.