There are several novels I have tried to write. My hope was that with this blog, I would be forced to finish some of them. Unfortunately, this thing called ‘College’ happened, forcing me to discontinue writing and move to academia. So, instead of trying to write more, I’ll pick and choose from some of my older stuff. The story you’re about to read has a long explanation behind it. There’s not an easy way to tell it without the details, though, sorry.
Two years ago (2014), my co-worker introduced me to this thing called ‘NaNoWriMo,’ short for National Novel Writing Month. It’s a challenge to yourself to write 50,000 words in 30 days, during the month of November. Two friends and I decided to participate. I started the first few days eagerly, anticipating what this month would bring. Only a few days in, and 8,000 words into the New York Times Bestseller (or so I thought), I accidentally hit the wrong button the tablet I was using and deleted my entire progress.
After going through the initial phase of shock and anger, I sat down, this time with a completely different idea, one that had come from a dream. Three days before NaNoWriMo, my sister had a dream about people shrinking. Her world was complex, but I too the basic premise. The result was my first novel, Majors and Minors.
Well, in the re-reading stage of editing, I decided that I wanted to change a few things. For instance, there was a lot of death. Characters showed up, then I thought to myself ‘I don’t need them,’ so I killed them. So I re-wrote the entire thing. My plots became far more wild, but followed more of a cohesive pattern than my first draft. This is the first chapter of the revised edition of Majors and Minors: The Days of Philipsclan. I apologize in advance for all typos that my editor (myself) missed.
Chapter One: Honey, I Shrunk the Human Race
April Fifth, 2046. The day that would live on in infamy. Another life form, not human in nature, committed the greatest single act of terrorism ever to befall mankind. And they did so against the entire world.
Beings now known as the Neph created and released a chemical compound that reacted with the human body in such a way that the human body shrunk. Each reaction was fundamentally the same, with each human becoming under a foot high. A six foot man might be just over eight inches. The tallest man recorded after that day was merely 1’2″.
Things in close contact with the human body, such as clothing, also shrunk. Scientist’s only explanation is that they had absorbed so much sweat over the years, they were nearly part of the human.” -Excerpt from Encyclopedia Britannica
Many people were affected that day. Okay, all people were affected that day. What that excerpt doesn’t tell you is the fact that the MiniTox (as it was called later) killed many of the older and younger population.
So the population shrank, in all senses of the word. The survivors were still a great deal, mostly kids from seven to adults in their forties. Most people fifty and older didn’t make it. The world was a wreck. And me? Well, I was out racing.
Let me explain. The day dawned like usual, bright, but kind of cold, typical for Central New York weather. I lived in the Nedrow/Lafayette area, which sits right next to Syracuse. Don’t know where that is? Look it up. It’s also known as the Salt City.
I won’t give out my address, as my parents told me never to trust anyone with that kind of info. However, you can know that I lived on Lafayette Road. (Not Lafayette Avenue, which is in Syracuse itself) Next door lived my best friends, Gwen and Drew Taylor. Gwen was a year older than me, Drew a year younger.
Oh, right, I have to introduce myself. My name’s Melchizedek Phillips. Cool name, right? That’s what I thought. Most of my friends, however, call me Dek. I’ll explain why later. Just you can get an idea of what I looked like back then, just imagine the most handsome dude you’ve ever seen. (Guys, it is not yourself, you know that, right?) Now, take that image and throw it out the window. That’s not me. Unless, of course, you knew me back then. In which case it would have been me.
I had short brown hair, that I always had to flick to the side as it grew so it wouldn’t fall into my eyes. My eyes, by the way, were blue, like blueberries, my sister always said. Come to think of it, they still are blue. Anyways, I was not quite six foot, just a few inches below. Got a picture in your head?
My best friend, Drew, always had his hair buzzed. It was dark, like mine, but not the same shade, a bit lighter. Mine was mistaken for black; his wasn’t. His eyes were brown too, but they had a slight hazel feel to them. His skin was darker than mine, both from being able to tan better and his Hispanic lineage. He was shorter than me, about 5’7″.
His sister, Gwen also had dark hair. However, she didn’t buzz it off. It fell about shoulder length, and she usually kept it in a ponytail. Her eyes were a slightly darker brown than her brothers, and boy, could they pierce right into your soul. At least, that’s what I felt like. Gwen also had what they called a ‘condition.’ I never really got the details, as after the MiniTox hit, the ‘condition’ never really affected her again.
Like I said, we were out racing when it happened. Well, Gwen wasn’t racing. Did I mention her condition? Thought so. Drew and I were racing. I was beating him, like usual, when I found myself pulling away from him. That in and of itself wasn’t strange, as he never really could keep up with me anyway, but this was something completely different. My speed seemed increased, which was strange, Little dips and hills that I had never noticed before that day appeared, causing me to stumble. I fell to the ground, then looked around.
The world was huge. I had known that since the day I was born. It’s kind of drilled into you. But now, well, everything seemed larger than life. Even the blades of grass that I was laying on were impossibly big. I pushed off of the ground, and realized that they were bigger than usual. Some of this grass was taller than I was. I looked behind me, back at Drew. He had fallen as well, and didn’t seem like he was going to get back up anytime soon.
I ran back, again, prodigiously fast. My legs pumped, and the grass became a blur. Within seconds, I was standing next to my best friend. I knelt quickly, checking him for signs of life. He was breathing, and his pulse rate was fine. However, he wasn’t awake. I picked him up, fireman style. He was heavier than I had anticipated, and I groaned under the weight. Then I ran back to where we had started running from, and where Gwen still stood. Like me when I first realized what had happened, she was staring in utter confusion. I slowed as I reached her, and set her brother on the ground.
Finally, she noticed me. “Dek,” She began, “What just happened?”
“Apparently, we all shrunk, and your brother fainted over it.” I smiled, and she raised an eyebrow.
“Really?” She didn’t sound convinced. For which I don’t blame her. For all she knew she was in one of the VR machines at the mall. (For all those uneducated boors out there, VR means virtual reality) But I knew we weren’t. Unless, of course, our parents had taken us there while we were sleeping. Which they wouldn’t have done, but we won’t get into that.
“Gwen, I’m not joking here. We shrunk, and we’re stuck halfway in the middle of nowhere.” In reality, we should have been in eyesight of the house. However, with our tiny eyeballs, it was rather hard to see that far.
She still wasn’t convinced. “Gwen, look at the grass! There’s no way that it could be that big!” Looking at the grass again, I suddenly realized why they called them ‘blades of grass.’ Not only do they look like little swords, they cut like them too. However, the main difference is that grass doesn’t stand up on its own, it’ll fall over if you try to set it up. On the other hand, a sword will stick easily into the ground and remain there until it falls over from rust. But enough about grass and swords.
“Dek, if that’s true, we’re in trouble.” ‘You don’t say,’ I thought, but kept my big mouth closed.
“We do need to figure out what to do with your brother, though,” I said instead, glancing at the form on the ground.
“Let me think,” she said, looking around her. Then her eyes brightened. “I know, we can use the water bottle. We just have to splash some on his face, that’s all.” I thought about it for a second, then nodded.
“Yeah, that would work, I guess.” Together, we worked to push the water bottle over. It was harder than you might think. Or not, if you’ve ever tried. The bottle was just a little taller than us, and had a large bottom to balance it on the ground. However, with quite a bit of effort, we were able to push it onto the ground.
“Stand back,” I warned as I worked to undo the lid. It took both hands, and all my strength. In fact, if the lid hadn’t already been slightly unscrewed, I probably wouldn’t be able to open it all all. The water pressed against the lid, like racers ready to start running. I held it for as long as I could, then jumped out of the way. I wasn’t quick enough.
The water cascaded over me, throwing me to the ground. The downpour lasted only a few seconds, but for those seconds, I couldn’t do anything. Finally, the flow stopped, and I was able to pick myself off the ground, sopping wet.
“You okay?” Gwen asked, and I gave the thumbs-up sign.
“Better me than you,” I gasped, and grabbed the lid. I filled it with water, then stumbled over to my fallen friend. With effort, I dumped it over him. He sat up, gasping like I had a few seconds earlier.
“What happened?” he spluttered, and I shrugged.
“We shrunk, the shock it was to great for you, and you fainted. Anything else you’d like to know?”
He cocked an eyebrow at me. The Taylors liked raising eyebrows, in case you hadn’t noticed. Suddenly, my mind realized something. “I can run super fast,” I said, and both Taylors raised their eyebrows again. See what I mean?
“Dek, now’s not the time for fooling around.” Gwen’s voice was adamant, but so was I.
“I’m not.” I sped off, my legs racing like they had before. I felt the power flowing through, and forced myself to go faster. Then I spun, and sped back. The entire time elapsed? A couple of seconds. I stood in front of the siblings, who, instead of eyebrows up, had their jaws down.
“We’ve got to get back to the house,” Drew said a few seconds later, after he had gotten his jaw back to it’s usual place on his face.
“It’s going to take to long to walk back,” Gwen said, shaking her head. “And we don’t have that kind of speed that you do.”
“I could carry you, but it would mean leaving one of you alone here.” I tried to keep my voice firm, and tried to keep in control of the situation. “I’m not ever going to consider that option.”
“I would,” Drew said. “I know I can last for however long it takes. Just get my sister back to the house safely.” He locked eyes with me, and I nodded. I turned to Gwen, but didn’t see her. Instead, I saw a squirrel. Now, remember, this squirrel is quite larger than us. And we had no weapons.
“Drew?” I said, and he turned his head from looking at the sky. “I think we’re in trouble.”
“You could say that,” Drew said, edging away. I glanced around, quickly. There was nothing that I could see. Except for the one thing: A lid from a water bottle. I edged towards it, hoping the squirrel wouldn’t see me. Then I picked it up. It felt weird, holding it in my hands. And using both my hands to hold it.
Then, with the battle cry of “Ultimate!” I threw it like a Frisbee. It smacked the beast in the eye, and it moved back in pain. With a cry, I ran forwards again, snatched the lid up and attacked. I fought with everything in me, kicking, smacking, just hoping that it would run off. And it did, with me still on it.
I dove off, hoping to get clear. Instead, I rolled into a fence post. The squirrel ran up a tree, and sat there, watching us. I looked at Drew. He looked at me. We kept looking at each other.
“Where’s Gwen?” I asked, finally breaking eye contact.
“I have no idea,” he said, also looking around. I called out her name, but to no avail. She wasn’t around. I called again, and her voice came from behind me.
I jumped as I spun. She was standing right there. “What the heck are you doing, scaring me like that?” I shouted, but she just laughed. Then I noticed Drew laughing too. “What?” I asked.
“Your face!” Drew gasped out. “I mean, I jumped twice as high as you, but you just had the,” he paused for breath as another wave of hilarity gripped him, “the stupider expression!”
I turned my gaze onto him, and he raised his hands, still laughing. “Just saying.”
I turned back to Gwen, who had calmed down a bit. “Seriously, Gwen, where were you?”
“Back at the house,” she said sweetly. I raised an eyebrow, a habit I had picked up from them.
“And how, might I ask, did you get there?”
“I teleported,” she replied, still sweetly. “You aren’t the only one with a power, I guess.”
Drew entered the conversation. “Think you could take someone with you?”
“Let’s see,” Gwen replied, grabbing my arm.
“Hey, this hasn’t been tried out before! Why me? It could be dangerous!”
“You’re closer,” Gwen replied, then teleported. Suddenly, I wasn’t aware of where I was, just where I was headed. Which, in this case, was the Taylor’s home. We reappeared on the kitchen table, and instantly, Gwen disappeared.
The hard varnished wood felt strange under my feet. I walked to the edge, and looked down to the floor. Mrs. Taylor was there, running around and trying to figure out what was going on. I jumped to the seat of a cushioned chair, bounced twice, as if it was a trampoline, then down onto the floor. I walked over to Mrs. Taylor.
“Dek?” she asked, her eyes questioning whether or not I was really there.
“Mrs. Taylor, I need you to tell your children that I’m going over to my house, okay? I’m going to check on my sisters.” My parents were both at work, I knew that.
I ran out the door, which had been left open for some reason, and into their garage. Their cat, Roald, was lounging there. I ran past him, and used his door to get out of the house. As I ran across the lawn that separated our houses, I prayed silently that my family would all right.
With powerhouses of jumps, I climbed the stairs to the front porch. Our front door was open, but our screen door was not. I pulled out the knife that I carried and stuck it into the screen. Looking at it, I realized that I had had it on me when we were fighting the squirrel. Shaking my head at my stupidity, I ripped open a hole larger enough for me to get through. It was harder than it sounds.
I squeezed through, checking around for my family. I called out for them, and a tiny voice answered me. “Dek?”
My youngest sister, Judith, came out the corner of the wall. Suddenly, there was crackling noise. I ran up to her, but the noise was just from the radio playing her favorite station. “We interrupt your regularly scheduled broadcast to bring you a news bulletin.” I moved in closer, so that I could hear it better. “At approximately eleven A.M. Eastern Time, a toxin was released into the air. We have received reports of deaths by this toxin.” The man’s voice stopped being a newscaster for a second. “I would take you somewhere else, so that you could hear more of this story, but right now, I’m the only one in the studio. I’ve stopped the music, but I’ll put it on in a minute. I don’t know what we’re supposed to do, I suppose just wait. But that’s all I can offer on the subject.
“I know I don’t need to tell you how the toxin shrinks people, as I’m sure you’ve already figured that out. But please, I beg of you, wait until further notice before going out. We don’t know if anyone will be safe from this. Please, don’t leave your houses. Thank you.” With that, another song came on.
“Dek?” My sister’s voice brought me back to reality.
“Right, Judy, you stay here. I’m going to go over to the Taylors. Is Leslie upstairs?”
“Leslie went to Alexis’s house.”
I snapped my fingers. “Okay, in that case, come on, we’re going to the Taylors.” I picked her up and started running. She pressed her face into my shoulder. I couldn’t tell if she was crying, but I figured she was. We reached the Taylors’ in short order. I pushed into the house through Roald’s door, then into the kitchen. Drew and Gwen where there, helping their mother.
“Oh, Dek, good, you’re okay,” Gwen said, breathing a sigh of relief. She smiled at my sister. “How are you, Judy?”
Judy ran over to her and buried her face in Gwen. “Shh, shh,” Gwen said. “It’s going to be okay.”
“Dek, can I talk to you?” Drew asked. I nodded and walked over to him.
“Dek, something feels different. Something inside. I don’t know, it’s like I’m in tune with something. Like I’m plugged into all the technology here.” He looked at me, like I had the answer. Which I didn’t, I might add.
“If you feel in ‘tune with technology,’” I said, making my voice sound like one of the olden time hippies, “then do something with it.”
He stared at me, and I took a step back. Then I heard a noise. A deep thrumming noise, kind of like someone starting up a car. “That was me,” he said, as I ran towards the garage.
I smiled. Now we had transportation.
Can’t wait for more Majors and Minors? Find the second chapter here: https://gloriousmesssite.wordpress.com/2016/11/04/majors-and-minors-chapter-two/