Lost Change

01/06/2019

Lost Change

Chapter One

A Change for Three

by D.X. Machina

"Whither thou goest, I will go; and where thou lodgest, I will lodge"

 

--Ruth 1:16

Scott Chelgren Middlebrook Hall West Bank, University of Minnesota

 

 It was mid-September, in what should have been my

Senior year...again.  Well, I went to the University of

Minnesota, what do you expect?  Graduating in only five years is

pretty darn good.  Better than most folks do, anyhow.

 

 Of course, I never had been really interested in

graduation.  I was more interested in college as a vocation.

You see, I had this charming, if naive notion that college was

somehow better than the "real world."  After all, in the real

world, you never get to blow off an 8 A.M. meeting.  You don't

spend most of your time studying non-practical subjects for your

own intellectual enlightenment.  And you don't go out, get

drunk, and trade lewd stories while leering at women (unless, of

course, you end up in sales.)

 

 Yes, college was a grand time, hampered only by the

fact that, eventually, I would have to leave it.

 

 But I left it for something better.

 

 On a bright spring day, about three months before

that mid-September day, I had been studying, and watching a

pretty young PSEO student in Coffman Union, and generally

grumbling about my life, when it all changed.  I found my life

dependent on that pretty PSEO student.

 

 And I wouldn't have it any other way.

 

 I found fulfillment I never knew I could in her, a

peace, a tranquility, a je ne sais qua that I never suspected I

needed.  And when we were separated, the absence made my heart

grow ever fonder.

 

 I also found a way around my earlier worry.  She was

going off to college now--a year early, no less.  And I was

going with her.  She insisted.

 

 Well, really, I had to.

 

 You see, it's hard to strike out on your own when

you're one inch tall.

 

 I'm not going to go into the whole story of how we

met, misadventures we've had, and the like.  That's all down on

record somewhere--I wrote a narrative for Claire, and I know

she's been busying herself with pulling all the details together

on some other great stories.  Ask her, I'm sure she's got the

stuff somewhere.  This is the story of my return to college,

with Sarah Kensington, the love of my life, the light of my

world.

 

 But really, it's her story.

 

* * *

 

 

Sarah Kensington West Bank, University of Minnesota

 

 The poor guy does rattle on, doesn't he?  I've seen

his narratives--yap, yap, yap!  I love the boy, but come on

Scott, brevity is the soul of wit!

 

 Anyhow, it was mid-September.  I was about to leave

for my first year as a full-time student at the U of M.  You've

gotta love the PSEO system--they let you come down to campus,

get a dorm room, take a full schedule...exactly like being in

college.  Oh, sure, technically I'm still a student at Apple

Valley High School, but so what?  For all intents and purposes,

I'm a freshman at the U--on the state's dime, no less.

 

 Of course, while I had looked forward to this change

for over a year, I was not unaware of the effects this would

have on my relationship with Scott.  While Scott tends to

overpraise everything about me, I understand where he's coming

from--I love him deeply and truly, and I plan to be with him

forever.  But caring for him without my family knowing is hard

enough (although not quite as hard since Karen started running

interference--but that's another story).  Caring for him without

my roommate finding out--well, I didn't even see how it was

possible.

 

 I suppose I could've left him at home--Karen would

do anything for him, which is only right, I suppose, after she

almost...no, no, that's the past, and I'm trying to forgive.

Slowly.  Very slowly.

 

 But Karen was only fifteen at the time--and while I

love my sister, I still see how she looks at Scott sometimes.

She sees the same things in him that I do--and I fear that

maybe, he sees something in her.  Probably I'm paranoid.  But

I'm not stupid.  Scott was coming with me.

 

 So on the first day I could move in, I made sure to

get up to campus bright and early.  I was lucky--I luckily got

a room in Middlebrook Hall, on the twelfth floor.  A lot calmer

than the dorms in the Superblock, and certainly a lot more

pleasant than getting crammed into a study lounge while the

school waited for students to drop.

 

 I wasn't totally unprepared.  Scott actually gave me

some good pointers.  I forget sometimes that he was a student

here--that he had a life before he met me.  But he told me to

forget about even trying to use the elevators, not to move

anything big in until school actually started, and to let my

roommate take whichever bed she wanted--start off on the right

foot.

 

 My parents, of course, had their own suggestions as

well.  But I ignored them.  Mostly, anyhow.

 

 So I moved in early, and was there six hours before

my roommate even showed.  By the time she got there, I had my

computer set up, my TV situated, some posters hung, and Scott

stashed safely in my underwear drawer, in a little box which I

had furnished for him.

 

 After my parents left, I finally was able to talk to

him in private.

 

 "So, how's it going?" I said, holding him in my hand.

 

 "Not bad, kid," he said, half-grinning.  "I must

say, these dorm rooms are bigger than I remember."

 

 Good delivery--he'd probably been saving that line

for days.  "Ha.  Got time for some hot action?"

 

 "You sure?  Your roomie hasn't shown yet--you don't

want her first impression of you to be a girl sticking a

one-inch-tall guy up her--"

 

 "Thank you, I get the picture.  But--well, I must

say, little man, that I'm in the mood for it.  And I don't know

that you've ever not been."

 

 "Well, I'm a guy.  'Nuff said.  Hmmm....well, how'd

you like do do this in the conventional fashion?"

 

 I smiled.  "Wow--been a long time since we did that.

August, wasn't it?"

 

 "Yeah, well, we both like this whole gee-tee-ess

thing you've got going too much to do this often--but this is

probably the most discrete."  He smiled.  "And I do so enjoy

being taller than you once in a while."

 

 "Well, shorty, don't get used to it.  But...hurry,

would ya?  I won't be in the mood forever."

 

* * *

 

Anonymous Cadre Headquarters Anaheim, California

 

 Meanwhile, thousands of miles away, the Cadre was

anxious.

 

 They were the ones who had kept the secret.  The

ones who had found a way to ensure that the public was not

exposed to the Giantess question.

 

 They had made some mistakes in the past few years,

yes.  Attack of the 50 foot Woman should never have gotten on

HBO.  Attack of the 60 foot Centerfold should never have been

made at all.  And the fact that Roger Corman was still alive was

an embarrasment to them.

 

 But there had been successes to rival the heyday of

Land of the Giants.  They had convinced Tim Burton to stop his

movie on giant go-go dancers.  They had eliminated all two-shots

of giant women from the new "Honey, I Shrunk the Kids" show.

They had squashed an idea about tiny aliens--clearly a ruse.

And they had cast John Goodman in the new Borrowers flick.

 

 And still, they worried.

 

 The source of their worries was Claire Danes.

 

 She had the connections to get a movie made--and she

wanted to make a movie about shrinking.  But even worse, she

wanted to tell the movie about a shrunken man.  A _real_

shrunken man.

 

 "How did it get to this point?" asked Inspector

Kopec, clearly vexed.

 

 "I told you we should never have let D.X. out of our

sight," cried Dr. Cyclops.

 

 The meeting continued, and the invective grew

stronger.

 

* * *

 

Scott Chelgren

 

 It's not that difficult, really.  I know it, sort of

like you know how to catch a ball, or touch-type.  If you start

to think about it, it's hard, almost impossible to know what

you're doing.  But if you just let go--there it is, on the

border of your conscousness.  Now, make the shift!

 

 I'm limited in my choices.  I can only go up twelve

times over my base, which is 1/2 inch tall.  And I can only

bring Sarah down to 1/12th of her base, which is five feet,

eight inches tall.  I know this by observation, not by a rule

book.  (I wonder--if I do this, will I get stronger at it?  Just

wondering.)

 

   Anyhow.  When all is said and done, if I max out

on both ends, I end up an even six inches tall, and she ends up

five and two-thirds.  A neat trick that we don't use much,

because, well, we both like our relationship the way it is, and

being at a normal height ratio skews the relationship.

 

 Or something like that.  But variety is the spice of

life, so we tried it.

 

 "Well," I said, when I had completed my change.

"Where too, miss?"

 

 She smiled up at me, a beauty at any scale, and

said, "Well, big man, I--"

 

 Suddenly, we heard the sound of the key in the lock.

"Damn!  It's Kelly!  Quick--into the closet!"

 

 We reached the closet just as the door opened, and

Sarah's roommate walked in.  "OKAY, MOM, COME ON," she said, as

she walked into the room, sending tremors with every step.

 

 She was tall, I think, though it's kind of difficult

for me to judge, and not very curvy, with curly red hair.  She

was wearing a pleated skirt and a t-shirt, and I would have to

have been blind not to notice that she was very attractive.

 

 I could feel Sarah's eyes on me.  So I turned and

kissed her.  "Not the way you probably planned this, eh, love?"

She kicked me in the shin--lightly--and said, simply, "No.

But...while we're here--you don't think she'll look all the way

back by my sandals there, do you?"

 

 Making love on the deck of an adidas sandal has a

certain allure.  And after a while, I didn't even hear the

racket Kelly was making.

 

* * *

 

Anonymous

 

 The argument was heating up.

 

 "If this gets out--why, if people start actually

thinking about giant women--or shrunken men--as a possibility--"

stated Michael Eisner, angrily.  He had taken enough heat over

that one scene in "Honey, I Blew Up the Kid" to last him eight

lifetimes, and he was by God not going to let anyone else off

the hook this time.

 

 Steve Spielberg studied his notes, quietly.  He

seemed lost in thought, trying to figure a way out of this

mess--but no ideas sprung to mind.  Don Bluth's seat was

conspicuously empty, a reminder of the way he'd walked out in a

huff weeks before--over an argument much like this.

 

 "Gentlemen, gentlemen, please.  Let's not panic,"

said the Chairman calmly.  "We've been working for fifty years

to keep a lid on the whole GTS thing.  On some fronts, we're

fighting an uphill battle--we've already lost the battle on the

internet, despite our takeout of alt.sex.fetish.giants, and our

continued work with GeoCities and Paradise-Net.  They're too

fast for us.

 

 "But thankfully, mainstream America is not yet

hooked to the net.  For the vast majority of people who would be

interested in this...subject matter, Television and the Movies

are the only media they're aware of.  We can control this."

 

 "Mr. Chairman, may I make a statement?"  I asked.

 

 "Very well.  Anonymous has the floor."

 

 "With all due respect, sir, I think the time may be

right for us to end our opposition to GTS."

 

 I was met by a hail of boos, but I persisted.  "Just

because the Athena League has been looking for ways to utilize

GTS to their advantage doesn't mean they'll take over the world.

Sure, they may find a way to alter the male/female paradigm

but--"

 

 "Mr. Chairman, point of parliamentary inquiry!"  It

was John Jackson.  "This is what we're fighting against.  We

must preserve the old order!  If women are stronger than men,

bigger than men, more powerful than men, then we are doomed!  I

know Anonymous comes to us on the Chair's recommendation, but

can we really let him call for an end to our fifty-year mandate?"

 

* * *

 

Sarah Kensington

 

 It was a good way to christen my room--and my

sandals.  We went back out, and saw Kelly and her mom debating

where to put a chair, and the door standing open.  "Well, here

goes nothing," I said, carrying Scott (already reduced to half

an inch tall) out into the corridor.

 

 It was controlled chaos, and I was clearly not safe

being in cross traffic at my height.  So I charged across the

hall into the bathroom, and Scott quickly worked his magic.

 

 I looked into my right hand, and saw my little lover

there, the size of a rice grain.  Amazing, I thought, that this

was even possible.

 

 I blew a kiss carefully at Scott, and placed him

down my shirt, on my left breast.  He was safe there--he knew

his way around my breast.  I ran my fingers through my hair, and

walked across the hall to meet my roommate.

 

 "Kelly?" I asked, poking my head in the room.  I put

on my best stupid look--similar to the one on my school I.D.

 

 "You must be Sarah!  Nice to meet you!  I see you're

already moved in."  She seemed friendly enough.  That was a good

sign.

 

 "Yeah, got here this morning.  But if you'd rather

have that side, I can--"

 

 "No, no, I wanted this side anyhow.  Um--I'd like

you to meet my mom, Karen Johnson."

 

 The conversation continued in that vein for a

while--I won't bore you with details.  It was two girls

yammering on about where the T.V. should go, what classes they

were taking, and so on.  I even found the opportunity to quietly

sneak Scott back into my underwear drawer.

 

 I did find out some interesting stuff about Kelly,

though.  Seems she went to a Catholic boarding school, so she'd

been through this whole dorm thing before.  We chatted about

this and that, and then headed down to supper together.

 

 I left Scott in the room.  I hate doing that, but,

well, I would have to, until I was sure Kelly was a good person.

Once I was sure--well, then I would introduce her.  I had

to--there was no way I could keep Scott secret forever.

 

 I just hoped Scott would understand that.

 

* * *

 

Anonymous

 

 "You are out of order, Mr. Jackson," said the

Chairman, pointedly.  "Parliamentary Inquiry is not a license to

debate.  Don't forget that it was Anonymous who covered up what

really happened with your great-great-grandpappy and the

beanstalk.  He's earned his seat at the table.  Anonymous, like

all of us, may state his feelings on this matter."  He turned to

me, and said quietly, "I would warn the Gentleman, however, that

D.X. Machina was making speeches like this before he left us--I

hope you have no similar motive.  Proceed."

 

 "I yield my time."  Damn fool--ought to keep my

mouth shut.  Szalinski spoke next, and his vitriol shocked me.

 

 

 "Mr. Chair, you spoke of D.X. Machina.  I submit

that our primary concern is not Ms. Danes--it is Mr. Machina!

He is a rogue, neither on our side nor the side of the League.

He dispenses GTS like it was his personal gift.  He writes

books, he sells crystals, he gives knowledge to scientists that

they are not supposed to have--he is a menace, and he must be

stopped!"

 

 The Cadre seethed.  It would be a long meeting, and

I feared for my friend.

 

 I feared for the people he had helped.

 

* * *

 

Scott Chelgren

 

 I slept that night next to Sarah, on her pillow, as

always.  She had to be quiet, I knew, lest she wake up Kelly.

But I was able to whisper into her ear, "I love you always, my

dear."  I kissed her cheek, and settled in.

 

 I felt uneasy, but I pushed the feeling aside.  I

didn't know it yet--wouldn't for a while--but things were soon

going to get ugly.

Lost Change

Chapter Two

Welcome Week

by D.X. Machina

"It is not good that the man should be alone."

 

--Genesis 2:18

KellyAnn Johnson Middlebrook Hall West Bank, University of Minnesota

 

 In the first few days we were there, Sarah and I got

to be good friends.  She's really cool.  In a way, she reminds

me of my high school roommate Lori, who's going to SCSU.  (I

hope Lor comes down to visit soon--Sarah will love her!)

 

 We made a pretty good team, actually.  My mom

shipped me off to Catholic boarding school in tenth grade, which

is just as cool as it sounds.  That is, it isn't.  But it did

get me used to living in a dorm, so I was pretty well able to

handle things with rooming arrangements--and Sarah didn't argue.

Meanwhile, Sarah's been going here part time through PSEO for

the past year, so she kind of knows the academic layout.  We

helped each other out with email, buying books, working the

cafeteria for all it's worth, and pretty much everything else.

 

 It was a fun time, and the only thing that was at

all weird was that, from time to time, Sarah would seem to

disappear off the face of the Earth, or she'd have to run back

up to the room during supper, stuff like that.  I wondered what

the girl was up to, but not too much.  Maybe she missed her mom.

Maybe she was using an Electolux special.  Either way, she

needed space, I gave space.  I just hoped she'd do the same for

me.

 

* * *

 

Scott Chelgren Middlebrook Hall West Bank, University of Minnesota

 

 Welcome Week was Hell.

 

 I got to see Sarah maybe three times a day.  The

rest of the time she was running off with Kelly, going to eat,

or watch movies or something.

 

 I, meanwhile, was stuck in the box.

 

 What's worse, Sarah started talking about showing me

to Kelly.  She said Kelly was nice, and cool, and...well, she

seemed nice.  But I had too many memories of broken bones and

crushing weights.  For ever Sarah or Claire, there's a Victoria.

And I was not going to bet my life that Kelly was in the former

category.

 

 But really, Victoria had been the only mean one....

 

 No, I couldn't chance it.  No matter what Sarah

said.

 

 Could I?

 

 At any rate, the absence didn't do wonders for our

relationship, I can tell you that.  By the fourth day of Welcome

Week, I was fuming.

 

 And the worst part was, I knew I was wrong.

 

* * *

 

Anonymous Beverly Hills, California

 

 I enjoy little more than sipping Chardonnay on the

veranda, reading a well-worn copy of  "Gulliver's Travels," and

wondering about what might have been.

 

 My family has always been connected with the Cadre,

ever since my great-great-grandfather William accidentally

accompanied Dr. Gulliver on his famous trip to Brobdignang--and

had decidedly different adventures.  He returned to England with

the secret of GTS, a secret that would eventually be discovered

by the Athena League.  You see--

 

 --or more likely, you don't.  It's a long story, one

for a different time, perhaps.  At any rate, my seat on the

Cadre is hereditary, and I would have to screw up in a big way

to lose it.

 

 Which I had almost done.

 

 Damn fool!  Let them see your liberal leanings at

your eighth meeting--speak out against the tide now, and

alienate yourself from everyone else--rather than build a slow

consensus to eliminate the Cadre.

 

 For it had to be eliminated.  Any damn fool could

see that.  Maybe once we were fighting for man's rightful place

in the balance of the sexes (a dubious goal, at that).  Maybe

once there were clearly defined male/female roles.  But now?

Dear Lord, there are women's professional basketball teams that

outdraw men's professional basketball teams.  Women are in the

workplace, Congress, even the military.  Even if the Athena

League managed to release GTS, it would do little but put an

exclamation point on the evolution of relationships.  Maybe if

we bargained now, it wouldn't have to come to that.

 

 But bargaining was impossible with the old guard in

charge.  Maybe Spielberg was on my side.  He seemed reasonable.

Bluth I know was fed up, but he had left in the middle of the

last meeting, and nobody had heard from him since.  And D.X. was

with me, I knew it....

 

 I turned back to my computer.  D.X., what are you

doing?  Posting stories, on the internet, no less!  I need you

on the Cadre--there are others who share our position, friend.

Stop this insanity, I implore you!

 

 But it's no use.  I sighed.  I hoped he would come

back soon.

 

* * *

 

Scott Chelgren Middlebrook Hall West Bank, University of Minnesota

 

 I sat in the box, and thought.

 

 And thought and thought.

 

 It was what I did for that first week.  Almost all I

did.  Oh, sure, I saw Sarah, and the time was sweet.  But then I

went back in the box and thought some more.

 

 And about the fifth day, I had an epiphany.

 

 I would not know that I was wrong for too long after.

 

* * *

 

Sarah Kensington Coffman Union East Bank, University of Minnesota.

 

 "Well, Scott, here it is--the place we first met."

 

 I was trying to drag Scott out of the doldrums.  My

fault--I'd been ignoring him, gallivanting across the East and

West Banks, while he lingered in my underwear drawer.  So I had

taken him out to see the campus, and hopefully, to cheer him up.

 

 "Where I first met you, you should say."  His voice

was distant, and not just because of his height.  It was a real

strain, these first few days.  He was used to having me all to

himself--and now, well....

 

 "I knew you were there.  I felt a lump in the seat.

It went away, though."  I tried to smile, but I had to admit the

strain was getting to me, too.

 

 I slumped into the naugahyde, swayback chair, and

placed him on my shoulder.  "I'm sorry this hasn't been a good

week for you, Scott, but I promise, I'll make it up to you."

 

 "How?" he asked.  "And why?  This hasn't been a good

week because you've got a life.  And, well, I'm....

 

 "I'm holding you back, Sarah.  I didn't think I was,

or at least I convinced myself I wasn't.  But I am.  I'm holding

you back.  You'd probably be better off without me."

 

 I know my jaw dropped.  I knew things were bad,

but--was Scott dumping me?

 

 I mustered my courage.  "Scott--I would most

certainly not be better off without you, I--"

 

  "--love me, I know, I love you, too.  I love you

too much.  I wish I loved you less, I could ignore what I was

doing to you.  But you're having to worry about me when you

should be finding activities.  Having to run up and feed me when

you should be enjoying dinner.  Having to always worry if I'm

all right, rather than worrying about meeting a nice guy who can

be something other than a dependant."

 

 "Scott, you don't understand, I love you, the way

you are.  Always."

 

 I could hear him sigh--barely audible, but clear to

me above anything.  "Sarah, I wish I could be out of your

life--let you be able to live the way you should.  I...I wish

that you didn't have to care for me, or worry where I was.  I

had a chance to make that choice--and I made the wrong one.  I'm

sorry."

 

 And we both sat, crying.  I didn't know what to say.

 

* * *

 

Scott Chelgren Middlebrook Hall West Bank, University of Minnesota

 

 We traveled back to Middlebrook in silence.  It was

a lot to burden the girl with, but I had to say it.  Deep down,

I wanted her to take me back to Apple Valley.  Or maybe just let

me go in Coffman Union.  I wanted to stay with her, more than

anything--but that meant denying her the opportunity to be just

a normal, everyday college freshman.

 

 And I had to give her that opportunity, somehow.

 

 No doubt, Welcome Week had been Hell.  But maybe

some good would come of it.

 

 When Sarah returned to her room, Kelly was already

there.  "HEY," she said, "JORDAN GOT COMPS TO BEN FOLDS FIVE AT

FIRST AVE--WANT TO GO?"

 

 Ben Folds Five!  Wow, that took me back to my

previous life, back to the last date I'd been on before...well,

before.

 

 "UM--YEAH.  JUST HAVE TO FRESHEN UP FIRST."  That

was code for "I'm going to stash you in the drawer" but I'd have

none of it.  I intended to go to that concert.

 

* * *

 

Sarah Kensington Middlebrook Hall West Bank, University of Minnesota

 

 Scott was not going into the drawer--it seemed he

wanted to go to the concert.

 

 Well, at least it was something.  Almost, I thought,

a date.  And hopefully it would shake him out of this mood of

his where he was convinced that I needed to get rid of him

somehow.  Get rid of Scott?  May as well chop my right arm

off--I could get by without him, but I remembered the way I felt

when I lost him in L.A.

 

 So if Scott wanted to come, he could come.  I tucked

him into my décolletage (his preferred method of travel--and I

wanted him to have that much more to think about) and walked

back into the room.

 

 "It's Jordan, Kyle, you, and me," said Kelly,

smiling.  Well, I thought Kyle was showing interest in me--guess

it's true.  Too bad for him, I suppose.  "Great!" I smiled.  "We

going by bus?"

 

 "Naw, I've got a car," said Kyle, brightly.  He was

kinda handsome, in an odd sort of way.

 

 "Well then, let's go," I said.

 

* * *

 

Anonymous Beverly Hills, California

 

 The call was completely unexpected.

 

 "Sir," said Kozlowski, "Telephone."

 

 Kozlowski was about as British as couscous, and as

epicure as a plowman, but he was a fine servant, with a fetish

for cleanliness and a tremendous work ethic.  His accent was

faux-British, but only for humor's sake.

 

 "Thank you, Kozlowski.  'Speaking,'" I said into the

phone.

 

 "Is this Mr. J--"

 

 "Please, no names.  How may I assist you, madam?"

 

 "Sir, this is Claire Danes."

 

 I paused, flummoxed.  How?  "Miss Danes, how may I

be of service?"

 

 The young lady continued.  "Mr....Mister, I

understand that you are involved in a certain fraternal

organization that has great power in this town."

 

 "That may be true, Miss Danes.  I belong to many

organiz ations."

 

 "This one calls itself the Cadre, and it is a most

exclusive bunch.  Don Bluth, Steven Speilberg, Michael

Eisner...and a few others whose identities are not so readily

available."

 

 My heart raced.  "My dear girl, you must be

mistaken.  There is no Cadre, at least none I'm aware of."

 

 "Yes, he said you'd say that," she said, bluntly.

 

 "Who said?"  As if I didn't know.

 

 "A Mr. Machina.  He stopped by, read over my script,

got paged and left.  But he gave me your name and number.  He

said you could help smooth the waters for my project."

 

 There was a grand pause.  After an eternity, I

answered.

 

 "Miss Danes...when would you like to meet?"

 

* * *

 

 

Scott Chelgren First Avenue Night Club First Ave and 7th St, Minneapolis

 

 I could almost feel him, staring at Sarah, making

small talk, all the while wondering what he'd have to do to get

with this girl.

 

 I couldn't fault him.  After all, I'd spent much of

the past few months getting with this girl.  She was someone

that radiated beauty of spirit and stature.  He had good taste.

 

 But he was a reminder.  He was six feet tall.  He

was a guy you could take home to mom, or go to spring formal

with.

 

 Or walk down the aisle with.

 

 I was none of those.  I was nothing.  Nobody.  And

not even Sarah's reassurances could convince me otherwise.

 

 I began to crawl out of my carrying case--I was

going to go on my last date with Sarah.

 

 I had no idea it'd end the way it did.

 

* * *

 

Sarah Kensington First Avenue Night Club First Ave & 7th St, Minneapolis

 

 Kyle was pretty cool, but not so cool as Scott.  I

liked him, but there was still something about holding a man in

the palm of your hand.  Who cared if the march down the aisle

would be a bit unusual?  I was already trying to figure out how

to break the news to Mom when the time came.

 

 We entered First Ave, and I was surprised that we

were being frisked.  Nevertheless, I raised my hands and allowed

the man to pat me down (he was quick about it--very

professional).  We then walked into the legendary club.

 

 First Ave is gritty, and dirty--and amazing.  It's a

great place to see a show.  The place was packed with about

twelve hundred concertgoers, there to see Ben Folds and the

other two guys who made up Ben Folds Five.  The five of us waded

in to the crowd.

 

 Or so I thought.

 

* * *

 

Scott Chelgren

 

 I hadn't been positioned correctly when Sarah lifted

her arms for the search.  I dropped like a stone into her

shorts, and then only stopped because I was wedged into the

elastic.  With every step she took, I slipped further and

further down.  She couldn't feel me, apparently, and my arms

were pinned--I was unable to grab hold of anything.

 

 I slipped, slowly but inevitably, until we hit the

floor.  Then, I finally reached the bottom.

 

 I fell.

 

 I landed on the hard floor, dazed but unhurt.

 

 There were feet everywhere.  I was in big trouble.

But I was buoyed by one thought.

 

 Sarah had lost me.

 

 It would hurt, but in the long run, she'd be better

off.

 

 Or so I thought.

Lost Change

Chapter Three

Stop the Bus, I Want to be Lonely

by D.X. Machina

"Be not ignorant of anything in a great matter or a small"

--Ecclesiasticus 5:15

  Claire Danes Burbank, California

 

 The man arrived precisely on time, as David had said

he would.  He was nondescript--middle aged, full head of

silver-black hair, glasses, slight paunch--which was fitting, I

suppose.  At any rate, I smiled my most winning smile, rose, and

greeted him.

 

 "No need to rise, young lady.  Please, we'll get

down to business.  I understand you talked to D.X."  He was

cool, but there was a note of concern in his voice.  Why?

 

 "Yes, he stopped by this morning.  With no notice, I

might add.  He's a strange man, Dave Machina.  But he seemed to

know what he was talking about."

 

 "Yes, well, um, you see--" was that a British

accent?  Or New England? "--um, yes, Mr. Machina was correct.

About everything."

 

 "And you can smooth the waters.  Get this movie

made."

 

 "Well--it's a bit more complicated, you see--"

 

 I sighed.  "I don't, Mr. Unknown.  Tell me what I

don't see."

 

 And so he did.

 

* * *

 

 It seems that, about ninety years ago, the Athena

League, a band of women committed to female dominance,

discovered the secret of GTS, which had been until then the

exclusive province of a shadowy organization known as the Cadre.

It was assumed, among the Cadre, that one of its members had

gone over--but nobody was ever identified, and the pieces to the

GTS puzzle were there, waiting to be assembled.

 

 As the years passed, the Athena League's plan became

apparent--get the public used to the idea of strong women--even

giant women--and then use GTS to make those fantasies reality.

 

 The Cadre fought all the way, trying at all turns to

prevent dissemination of material on Giantesses.  The media

expression of GTS was shunted into pulp fiction and B-movies.

 

 In recent years, though, the Athena League began to

grow more bold.  It was said that they were ready to use GTS

anyhow, whether the public was ready to accept it or not.  A few

brave souls in the Cadre, led by D.X. Machina, argued for

reconciliation with the League, and a negotiated truce that

would have allowed the secret of GTS to be exposed, and the boon

granted to those willing to use it; but the old guard would have

none of it.  The lid was jammed on tighter than ever.  D.X. left

the Cadre, though he never surrendered his seat, and nobody ever

moved to remove him.  Now, the old guard had the upper hand--and

any fictional mention of GTS was bound to be squelched.

 

 "And so you see," concluded the man, "It's a bit

more complex than just green-lighting a project.  The future of

the human race has unfortunately come into play."

 

 I stretched back.  "But what of my friends--haven't

they come into contact with GTS?"

 

 "Yes," said the man gravely.  "Thanks to D.X.  And

that's the devil of it.  He's using GTS for frivolous ends.  I

fear that there are great problems about to surface now that GTS

is out in the open--and I fear for your friends."

 

* * *

 

Scott Chelgren First Avenue Night Club First Ave & 7th St Minneapolis, Minnesota

 

 Sarah et al. disappeared into the crowd, and

part of me died.

 

 After all, what I really wanted was Sarah.  Sarah,

and nothing else, and I would be a happy man.

 

 But to gain that happiness, I would have to deny her

happiness.

 

 Damn it, I hate when shit like this happens.

 

 A huge foot smashed down next to me, and I broke

from my reverie.  While part of me had died (that part that

includes my heart and soul), the rest of me lived, and that part

of me did not want to die.  At least, not much.

 

 I suppose had I not known First Ave well I would

have been in trouble.  As it was, though, I spent the better

part of my formative years here.  I would have to get over by

the pool tables.  To stay on the main floor was suicide.

 

 I hopped up onto a pair of Doc Martens that were

wandering by.  They seemed to be headed in the right direction.

Yep--there was the souvenir table, so the pool tables should be

just about--there!

 

 It was between sets, so there was a bit more traffic

in this area than I wanted.  Nevertheless, I needed to think,

and if I could make it under the tables without dying, I'd have

that chance.

 

 The boots had continued down the ramp and over to

the vending machines.  I was still one inch tall--I didn't know

whether I should change size, and I've always believed that,

when in doubt, don't change what you're doing.

 

 Ha.

 

 I needed another lift to the pool tables, and I

found it in a pair of iridescent green sandals, that belonged

to a short-skirted alternachick.  She walked over to the pool

tables--I knew she would.  She was one of the fangirls, the

fourteen-something girlfriends of the fanboys.  They come to

shows to mosh, and crowd surf, and I don't know why they come to

Ben Folds Five, because they're a piano group.  But whatever.

She was nice enough to walk over to the pool tables for me, I

won't criticize.

 

 I blocked out the world, and tried to think.

 

* * *

 

Sarah Kensington First Avenue Night Club First Ave & 7th St Minneapolis, Minnesota

 

 We arrived at the tail end of the opening band--they

were equal parts forgettable and bad.  So we mostly just stood

around, listening to the music blaring over the speaker and

watching clips of midget wrestling.  By the time Ben Folds Five

finally took the stage, I was bored out of my skull.  I hoped

these guys were good.  Scott spoke highly of them.

 

* * *

 

KellyAnn Johnson First Avenue Night Club First Ave & 7th St Minneapolis, Minnesota

 

 They opened with "Jackson Canary," one of the best

of all time.  Man, I'm amazed at what Ben Folds can do with a

piano.  Then they ripped through "Song For the Dumped," brought

out the lighters with "Brick," and then ripped things up again

with "Uncle Walter."  Man, they were good.  It seemed like Sarah

was enjoying it, anyhow.

 

* * *

 

Anonymous en route to Beverly Hills, California

 

 The meeting shook me up.  The girl was right, of

course.  It was only a movie.  But the story was about real

people--who had benefited from GTS.  The Cadre would never

support it.  Never.

 

 But what worried me more was the seemingly simple

way in which the one lad had gained access to GTS--a book,

readily available, published by D.X.

 

 I jumped when the Cell Phone rang.  I picked it up

with trepidation.  "Hello?" I asked.

 

 "This is the Chairman," the voice said, and indeed,

it sounded like him.

 

 "She was a girl of sixteen," I said, wanting to make

sure.

 

 "A pleasant, frolicsome girl," he agreed.  "You're

going on assignment."

 

 It appeared I was.

 

* * *

 

Scott Chelgren

 

 Here I stand--sad and free.  I can't cry and I can't

see what I've done.  God...what have I done?

 

 The words pierced me like a knife.  It was always

one of my favorite songs.  It's true, for me at least, that I

always wanted to get into a car and drive anywhere.  And

yet--here I was, doing the scale-specific equivalent, and I was

stuck on the chorus.

 

 What have I done?

 

 Focus, focus.  You've left Sarah, and you want to go

back.  Of course you do.  But remember why you left.  For her.

Don't go charging after her now.  You'll hurt her.

 

 But--

 

 Stow it.  What now?  Hang at First Ave forever?

You'd see some good bands.

 

 No, I'd get squashed at some point.  And I don't

think I could live forever on stale beer and dropped popcorn.

 

 Well?

 

 Well, seems to me I should head home with one of the

crowd.  Set up shop in their home.  Maybe someday reveal myself.

Probably not soon.

 

 Good idea, chum.  You're getting good at this.

 

 Too much practice, mate.

 

* * *

 

Sarah Kensington

 

 "BEN FOLDS FIVE!  BEN FOLDS FIVE!"

 

 The crowd was chanting enthusiastically for that

moment of spontaneity, the encore.  Of course, the band would be

back out in just a second, but for now, the crowd was paying its

respects.

 

 I was chanting along with 'em.  Wow.  The show was

amazing!  I would have to tell Scott later that I should've

bought their albums when he told me to.  I wondered how Scott

was doing--tried to feel him, but couldn't.  Odd.  Usually when

traveling with me I could feel his every move.

 

 Oh well, he was probably being still.  Probably.

 

* * *

 

Scott Chelgren

 

 They were closing with "Underground," which made

sense.  It was their first hit, and it's a very danceable number.

In spite of myself, I half grooved to the music.

 Who to go with?  I had a few minutes to decide, and

I had decided on a fangirl.  Why?  Because I could see her from

here.  She looked kinda cute, with a long black skirt and

Birkenstocks.  I would go home with her, because--well, because.

Why not her?

 

 So as the song wound down, I headed straight for

her, and vaulted onto the deck of her sandal, right by her

silver-painted toenails.  Instinctively, I halved my height to

one-half inch, and settled in between big and second toe.  I

looked up--I hoped she was a decent girl.

 

 It didn't really matter to me.  I'd poured my heart

out, and it had evaporated.

 

* * *

 

Sarah Kensington Middlebrook Hall West Bank, University of Minnesota

 

 It was almost an hour later when we got back to

Middlebrook.  I was now nervous.  I headed straight for the

bathroom, closed my door, and carefully pulled off my shirt.

 

 He wasn't there.

 

 I pulled off everything, a little less carefully

when I reached the end.  When I did reach the end, I stared into

the mirror.  He was gone--again.

 

 And I feared he wasn't coming back.

 

* * *

 

the narrator Summit Hill Neighborhood St. Paul, Minnesota

 

 And so it was that at that very moment, a man in

California, who called himself David Machina, or D.X. to some,

woke up.

 

 It had been a rough day for D.X., and it was going

to get rougher.

 

 He h ad sensed a disturbance in GTS.

 

 A disturbance that was about to send him home.

 

 Home to meet his maker.

 

Chapter Four

Delusions and Grandeur

by D.X. Machina

"So we grew together,/Like to a double cherry, seeming parted,/But yet an

union in partition."

--William Shakespeare, A Midsummer Night's Dream, Act III Scene 2

  Scott Chelgren Whereabouts Unknown

 

 We were in a car.

 

 More I cannot say.  We had gone out of First Ave and

headed for the ramp across the street from Blues Alley, walked

up two flights of stairs, and ended up inside a car with a

charcoal gray interior.  We were on the passenger side.  Across

the stick shift, I could see another girl, wearing a black top

and long black jeans.  I didn't know if anyone else was in the

car besides her and my transporter.

 

 That was ten minutes ago, and we were driving

somewhere.  I wondered where.

 

* * *

 

Sarah Kensington Lobby of the Humphrey Institute West Bank, University of Minnesota

 

 

 Scott told me once that he liked to come here to

think.

 

 It was quiet, and a calm place to study--and indeed,

there was a lot of space to stretch out and just relax, and

wonder about what the future held.

 

 A nice place.

 

 A nice place.

 

 Oh, God, oh my God, why?  Why?!?  Why did he

convince himself he was holding me back?  Why did he leave me?

 

 I was sobbing.  How could he ever think that I

didn't need him?  That his existence held me back?  Didn't he

remember that night back in June?

 Didn't he remember?

 

 I made a wish, then and there.

 

 I wished that, whatever happened, whatever the

future would bring, that Scott would be safe.  That he would be

okay.

 

 I just wished I knew.

 

 I sat in the Humphrey Institute and cried until I

was cried out.  Then I headed back home.

 

 I had some calls to make.

 

* * *

 

Claire Danes Beverly Hills, California

 

 The phone rang, and a chill ran down my spine.

 

 I knew something was wrong.

 

 I walked slowly over, and as if in a dream, picked

up the phone.

 

 "Hello," I said.

 

 "He's gone, Claire," she said.

 

 And I knew it was going to be a hard, hard night.

 

* * *

 

Anonymous LAX Los Angeles, California

 

 I looked at the dossier.  D.X. Machina.  Everything

known about him.  Where he came from, how he ended up in the

Cadre, his known acts since leaving us.

 

 I had been ordered to find him.  And to bring him

back to Los Angeles.  By any means necessary.

 

 Which is why I was waiting for a non-stop flight to

Chicago O'Hare International Airport.  He had ties to the

Chicago area.  I would go there first.

 

* * *

 

Scott Chelgren Somewhere in Suburban Minneapolis/St. Paul

 

 The car pulled into a driveway, and I had to make a

decision.

 

 It was a relatively easy one, based on my

unwillingness to trek across a car, and the spirit of "que sera

sera" which governed my actions.

 I would go with the girl that brung me.

 

 I climbed onto the birks and held on as the car door

opened.

 

 It appeared we were going home.

 

* * *

 

 We made it inside the door, and I leapt to safety.

Not that I had anything against the girl's feet--they were quite

nice--but they weren't the safest place for me to be at that

moment.

 

 I looked around, and tried to get my bearings.  I

was in four-foot-high powder blue shag carpet, which appeared to

go on forever.  It was apparently the living room--I thought I

could hear a television on somewhere.

 

 I increased my height to three inches--tall enough

to move, but still small enough to blend in somewhat--and

started inwards.

 

 I saw my hostess turning down the hall, and I

decided to follow her.  It seemed like a plan, anyhow.  Keeping

along the baseboard, I walked until I reached the first room on

my right.  I was just about to turn into the room when a huge

foot stomped down in front of me.  It belonged to a five or six

year old girl, who was apparently heading out to the living

room.  I groaned inwardly.  My biggest fear was always that Susi

would find me, and try to make me into one of her dolls.  Sarah

used to say--

 

 Shut up, brain.

 

 I continued down the hall.

 

* * *

 

D.X. Machina Somewhere in New Mexico

 

 It was a crisp fall evening, and I was busy doing

not much of anything.  It was easy enough to do nothing here in

the desert, and I came here as often as time permitted.

 

 I was debating whether or not I should pull another

crystal out and distribute it.  I had a pretty good success rate

with those things--people always felt like they were in control

with 'em, even though really, all the power they were using came

from within themselves.  Still, they were pretty enough, and

with that little bogus history I gave out with 'em, they sure

convinced people they were the real thing.

 

 I could either pull the crystal out, or I could

maybe enroll at a college somewhere, and quietly distribute some

more GTS.

 

 It's what I did.  Get GTS out to those who needed

it.  A far more satisfying career than selling computers.  A

tremendous amount more satisfying than quashing even the mention

of GTS.

 

 I don't know why I ever signed on with the Cadre.

Actually, yeah I do--I was unemployed, accidentally stumbled on

the secret of GTS, and used it against the Athena League without

even realizing what I was doing, and before I knew it, I was on

the Cadre's board, and richer and more powerful than I ever

imagined.

 

 Of course, I was denying happiness to billions, and

that's why I left years ago.

 

 I heard my beeper go off, and I went over to it.

Claire Danes' number.  I guess she talked to Anon--I wondered

how that went.

 

 I really wondered why she was paging me.  She said

she'd do it only if things turned ugly.

 

 I picked up the phone.  Well, it beat watching my

Cubs lose, anyhow.

 

* * *

 

Scott Chelgren

 

 I reached the last door in the hall, and walked

through.  Yeah, this was the room of a high school girl. I did

have more respect for her--her posters were of Ani and Soul

Coughing, not Alanis and Collective Soul.  Maybe she was a girl

with taste after all.

 

 She was sitting at her desk, studying.  I tried to

size up her age.  Sixteen?  Seventeen?  It was hard, and I never

was very good at it.  She did have cool short green hair,

though.  Always liked green hair.

 

 She stretched, and I sighed.  I was going to have to

forget.  I had done it before.  It had been easy then--my life

was largely forgetful before my change.  It would be very hard

now, for my life had been anything but forgetful since.  But I

would forget, somehow.

 

 Perhaps with this one, or one like her.  Perhaps.  A

thought was forming in my mind, one which I did not push away.

Perhaps I was going insane.  Or perhaps I was simply starting to

overcompensate.

 

 Perhaps.

 

* * *

 

D.X. Machina

 

 The phone rang just once before it picked up.

"David?" the voice said.  Claire's voice was quiet and quavery;

I began to wonder why.  "Yes, Claire.  How can I help you?  Did

my friend cause you any problems?"

 

 "Never mind about that," she said, abruptly.

"There's a far worse problem.  One which I think only you can

help me with."

 

 I paused.  "What is the problem, Claire?"

 

 "Do you remember a gentleman by the name of Scott

Chelgren?  You gave him the gift of GTS."

 

 "Of course, the subject of your script.  Why?"

 

 "He's missing."

 

 I sighed.  I tried to reach out to him.  I could do

it, sometimes.  But his mind was blocked.  His girlfriend's

mind, however, was howling with pain and anguish.  He decided he

was holding her back, eh?  Common enough.  I hoped he lived

long enough to get over this stupid notion.

 

 But--"Yes, I know.  He's got the idea he's holding

Sarah back somehow."

 

 I heard Claire mumble an oath, than say, "If you

know, you can find him and drag him back to Sarah.  Get it

through his tiny head that she loves him no matter what."

 

 "It's not that easy," I said, sitting down.  "I

mean, I give this gift, but what people do with it is up to--"

 

 "DON'T GIVE ME THAT CRAP!"  I jerked the phone away

from my ear.  Claire could yell!  "Find Scott!  Get him back to

my friend!"

 

 "You're not really in a position to give orders," I

offered.

 

 "Don't test me, Mr. Machina.  Or would you like me

to give the Cadre your pager number?  They're resourceful-They

could probably track you down with it."

 

 I chuckled.  She had style, all right.  "Very well.

Mr. Chelgren is in Minnesota, correct?  I'll do what I can."  We

concluded the call, and I leaned back.  I studied the crystal I

had pulled, then hung it around my neck.  I was off to my

hometown.  I hoped I could be of assistance.

 

* * *

 

Karen Kensington Apple Valley, Minnesota.

 

 "Yeah, Sar, I know.  He'll come back.  He did in

L.A.  He loves you, y'know?  He's just screwed up right now....I

know he said that, but he'll figure out soon enough that he's

being a moron....Look, he managed to survive Universal Studios,

that place is easily as packed as First Ave.  He's okay.  Really.

 

 "I love you, Sar.  Take care....He will, I promise.

Yeah, bye."

 

 I hung up the phone and blinked back a tear.  Scott,

what the hell are you doing?  I mean, it's like you fight

through Los Angeles to get back to Sarah, and now you leave her?

You moron, she's nuts about you, and you're nuts about her.

Can't you see that?

 

 Maybe he can't.

 

 The course of true love never did run smooth, and

that's what you and Sarah have.

 

 Come on, figure it out Scott.

 

 Please?

 

* * *

 

Scott Chelgren

 

 I crawled under the bed, and was pleasantly surprised

to find quite a mess in under there, including a half-eaten bag

of chips, enough to feed me for the foreseeable future.  I laid

out a white bobby sock, and tried to make up a bed for myself.

Sleep wasn't going to come easy tonight, I could see that.  But

it would have to come.  The coming weeks were going to be hard.

 

 I peeked out under the bed ruffle and looked around

the room.

 

 The girl was changing for bed.  She was really quite

attractive, I couldn't help but notice.  I sighed as I watched

her pull her nightgown on, and head for the bed.

 

 She wasn't Sarah.

 

* * *

 

Sarah Kensington Middlebrook Hall West Bank, University of Minnesota

 

 "Sarah, what's wrong?"

 

 It was the question I had been dreading.  Kelly was

pretty perceptive, and she had picked up on my distress almost

immediately.  What to tell her?  The truth?  Yeah, that made no

damn sense.

 

 But I had to tell her something, and I found that I

was, indeed, telling her the truth.

 

 I had gotten almost halfway through the condensed

story of Scott and I before I realize what the hell I was doing,

and I stopped on a dime.  "I must sound crazy," I admitted, and

lapsed into silence.

 

 "No," she said, quietly.  "No, you don't.  Laurie

and I found a little man of our own o nce."

 

 My head jerked up.  "What!  What do you mean?"

 

 "We found him in our room last spring.  About two

inches tall.  He ran away, though.  We really just used him for,

um, personal stuff.  I don't think we ever even really thought

of him as human.  But he must have been like your Scott.  A real

person.  Scared and alone in a world of giants.  And we--man,

now we both feel bad."

 

 We sat in silence for a while, before Kelly finally

spoke again.

 

 "If it is true love, then he'll be back.  It's

inevitable.  It's the way the story has to end."

 

 "I wish I could believe that," I groaned.

 

 "We live in a world with two-inch-tall men," said

Kelly, quietly.  "I think almost anything is believable if you

accept that."

 

 I smiled slightly.  Maybe Kelly was right.

 

 She had to be.

Chapter Five

Delusions and Grandeur

by D.X. Machina

"There were giants on the earth in those days."

 

--Genesis 6:4

 

TWO WEEKS LATER

Scott Chelgren Home of Tanya Robertson Wayzata, Minnesota

 

 It was about three thirty or so, and Tanya would be

getting home soon.  I was sort of looking forward to it.  It was

a break in the monotony, anyhow.  She was a kind of like

company.  I could sit and watch her study, and imagine that she

knew I was there.  It was what I did every night, from the

relative cover of her bed.

 

 She didn't know, of course, that I was there.

Didn't know that I'd been observing her for the past two weeks.

Well, I had to do something, and this was it: try to get a

fly-on-the-wall's view of a typical teenage girl (albeit one

with green hair).  And I'd done well in my observation.  I

picked up on her name (Tanya Robertson), her grade (Senior), her

school (Wayzata), her activities (newspaper and quiz bowl), her

boyfriend's name (Chuck something-or-other) and even such things

as her favorite snacks (potato chips and bananas).

 

 I rarely had to leave her room, and when I did it

was at breakneck speed.  I was playing it safe, and I probably

could have done it forever.

 

 But it was getting dull.  I needed a challenge.

This was safe, but it was too safe--and I was getting

bored.  I needed to do something.

 

 So I started to plan.

 

* * *

 

Anonymous Glenview, Illinois

 

 No sign of him.  That wasn't a surprise.  D.X.

always was a private individual, and he had more reason now for

privacy than ever.  Those contacts he had here were reticent,

save for one who offered the opinion that D.X. Machina could "go

to Hell."

 

 So I sat at the cafe and drank cafe and wondered

what to do next.  Mayhaps I would go to  Arizona.  I had heard

he spent time there.

 

 I had to find him, though.  Or the Cadre would drum

me out.

 

 So I considered my options, and read the

entertainment magazine, and pondered.

 

* * *

 

Sarah Ke

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