tagSci-Fi & FantasyGirl Who Came Shrinkwrapped

Girl Who Came Shrinkwrapped


Adapted from the short story: HE WHO SHRANK by Henry Hasse
First Published in the August, 1936 issue of Amazing Stories

* * * * *


It was a Friday night and I was late.

The new boy I was dating, Todd, had originally set the time to pick me up at 7:00 p.m. and I had pushed that back to eight. We had reservations at a steak house at 9:00 p.m. I didn't want to loose them. I didn't want to loose Todd. So, obviously, when I heard the Professor had asked me to come up to his office at seven-oh-five to see him, I was a little bit miffed.

"You wanted to see me, Professor? "

He stood at the large curved windows, looking out at the sky. Being December, it was pitch dark. "Come in, Joanna," he said. That put me on guard. Normally I was lucky to rate a Ms. Hesse, from the professor and most of the time it was just Hesse.

Without preface, he announced: "They say I'm the greatest scientist of my time."

I had been his grad student for almost two years, and was accustomed to his pomposity. I knew when not to speak.

"A year and half year ago, we discovered the method for isolating and coding the protein shells for the world's most prevalent virus." He was talking about the common cold. "Last year, we discovered the anti-shedding toxin that made scriptase regeneration possible." Cloning, he meant. He finally turned around to face me. A peculiar glow lurked in his eyes. "Either of these discoveries would have assured us a Nobel Prize," he said. "Yet as great as they were, they were only incidental discoveries in our pursuit of the really grand prize!"

I wondered why he was including me in his "we." I had no more to do with those discoveries than I did with producing the nightly news.

"For these things they call me great!" he scoffed. "The fools. They think I do it for them? I care as much about the human race or what happens to it as I do about that desk." He pointed at his piled-high and generally unmanageable desktop, then marched to a locked cabinet and dialed a combination. I had often wondered what he kept in there--some said it was classified government reports--but when he swung the door open, what I saw was the usual array of bottles and test-tubes and vials. One of these vials he lifted gingerly from a rack.

"And this," he almost whispered, holding the tube aloft, "is the culmination of that work."

What I saw in the vial made me take a step backwards. It was a pale green liquid, scintillating eerily under the fluorescent lights. It seemed to swirl. It seemed alive.

"Thirty years," he said. "Thirty years of ceaseless experimentation, endowment battles, and lying to the press. Thirty years of long nights and weekends and three fizzled marriages. Now, here in my hand--success!"

Professor Sturgeon's manner, the weird glow in his eyes, the submerged animosity that seemed at every instant about to leap out of his skin, all served to worry me deeply. It must have been in my eyes, for he laughed.

"I'm not going to attack you, Joanna!"

I laughed as well, but I hardly felt reassured. "Sorry, Professor," I said.

He gave me a somber grin. "It's all right. I just want you to share in it," he said. "To see for yourself."

I had no idea that he meant exactly what he said--literally.

Carefully replacing the vial in the rack, the professor walked back to the curved windows. He gestured toward the night sky. "Look, at that," he said. "Billions of miles of nothing. Trillions of billions of miles. The fools dream of someday traveling out there to the stars. They think they'll learn the secret of the universe. They're blind, Joanna. They can't even figure out how to make a propulsion system to get out to the closest planets, much less the stars. Icould solve the problem in a month. I could, but I won't. Let them waste their time. Let them waste our hard earned tax dollars. Think I care about them?"

I looked at my watch. I was alarmed at the time. I wondered what the hell was going on.

"Suppose they do solve the problem?" he asked. "Suppose they get out to their other little worlds in their hollow little space ships, travel at the speed of light for their entire lifetime, and then land on a paltry little planet around some third rate sun. . .and what then? Claim that, 'We now realize as never before the truly staggering immensity of space. It is the grandest structure imaginable, the universe.' Only I know they're wrong. The farthest star we can see by telescope is only the tiniest distance to the edge of the universe. The known universe. They might as well jaunt down to the local McDonald's for all the good it would do them."

"But, Professor," I objected, "If you don't explore-"

"Wait!" He said. "I've also long desired to fathom the universe, Hesse! To determine what it is, the manner and the purpose of its creation. But have you ever stopped to wonder just whatthe universe is? For thirty years I've hammered away at that question. Unknowingly, Hesse, you helped me discover the key."

"I did?"

He grinned, cattily. 'The answer is in that vial over there and you'll be the first to share the secret."

Incredulous, I stared at the green swirling liquid. I had a hand in that?

"You know, Joanna," he said. "There was a time when I looked to the stars for the answer myself. I built my own telescope, explored all the start charts, poured over the calculations, spent years staying up nights. Then I got into physics. And then into quantum mechanics. And guess what, Joanna? I discovered that no one on earth, not even myself, had a clue. No one even suspected the truth. All these years of particle theory, unified field, weak and strong atomic force--it's all bunk."

I wanted to laugh. Had he lost his mind? Was he getting ready to pop a surprise birthday party on me, with hundreds of guests?

I asked, "It is?"

"Yes," he said. "It is. Last month, I proved conclusively to myself what had hitherto been only a theory. I know now without a doubt that this planet of ours, and the other planets revolving about the sun, are the electron system of an atom, and that the sun is the nucleus. One nucleus among billions of others. Billions and billions of others with their own system of electron planets, each system an atom in a molecular swarm."

"You're nuts," I said, unthinkingly. "Certifiably nuts."

"And all these billions of systems," he continued, ignoring my outbreak, "taken together in one group, form our little galaxy. A galaxy among countless others, spread throughout space. All with tremendous stretches of space between them, Hesse. Molecular space! The molecular space of some exotic--or entirely mundane element. An element like gold, or iron or silver. . .even lead. Perhaps something as minute as a drop of water, or a wisp of smoke, or--good God!--an eyelash of some living creature!"

I could not speak. My head was spinning. Arguably, the most famous scientist on earth--even if he did say so himself--and he had completely flipped his lid.

"Professor," I managed to choke out. "I have to go."

"Carry it a step further," he said. "Maybe that ultra-world is itself just an electron, whirling around the nucleus of an atom of someone's fork. Or the spoke of a wheel on some little sister's bike. Perhaps the patiently waiting pre-critical mass of plutonium in somebody's bomb--"

"For God's sake, Professor," I cried. "Stop it!" I felt myself close to tears. If Sturgeon really was crazy, what about my dissertation?

"Where would it end?" I demanded. "Would it go on forever! And besides," I yelled, trying to control my hysteria, "what has all this got to do with that bunch of green shit you showed me?"

Scowling, he said, "Just this. Knowing it was useless to look to the infinitely large, I turned to the infinitely small. What works on the scale of the macrocosmic translates to the microscopic as well."

I saw his line of thought. It made me feel even worse. His next words left no doubt whatsoever that the professor had driven himself nuts.

"If I couldn't pierce things on the macrocosmic level," he said. "then I'd go for the atoms below." He laughed, gaily. "They're everywhere, you know. In every object I touch and in the very air I breathe. But they are so incredibly minute. To reach them, I had to find a way to make myself just as minute as they are--only smaller! The compound I showed you is a quantum resizer. In plain English, what it does is to contract the molecules in my body. Once in my bloodstream, the substance bathes the individual components of my atoms with quantum anti-binding force. This decharges the electrons and protons, causing them to decrease in size. Since the neutrons have no electrical charge, they shrink along with the rest. I will soon become the size of an atom, and continue on down from there." He raised his voice to a hilariously theatrical level. "Into infinite smallness!"


When he had finished speaking I said: "You are totally fucking nuts."

He was unperturbed. "I expected you to say that, " he replied. "But no, I'm not mad. Just a bit on the elacious side. It's only because you're unacquainted with the abilities of 'Shrinx.' But I promised, you'd see for yourself. And you shall."

"Professor, I'm sorry," I said, "but I really have to go." I begin unbuttoning my lab coat.

He went on as though I hadn't spoken:

"There are several reasons why I shouldn't go first. A) once you make the trip there can be no coming back. B) there could be unexpected side effects that I'll need to deal with before following in your footsteps, and C) I must first make sure what to expect. You'll be my advance guard, so to speak.

Now he really was scaring me.

"I'll keep in contact with you via an ingenious device I've perfected myself. I'll explain that to you later. Once the 'Shrinx' is introduced into your blood stream, you'll begin to resize at a preprogrammed rate. This rate should remain consistent no matter how small you get. It may alter somewhat with the level of blood pressure and your heart-rate, of course, but I'm not sure how much. There's only so much computer simulations can do. Anyway, I'm sure it will all go according to plan and quite without harm."

I was almost to the door. I was past being being scared and into the realm of terror. He actually believed this stuff. "I'm sorry, Professor, " I said shakily. "I won't be back. You'll have to find a replacement for me. I'll pick up my--"

Without warning--why didn't I see it coming!--he leaped forward, snatching an object off his desk. I let out a shriek and fumbled at the door, trying to turn the knob. Just as I got it turned and got the door opened, he slammed it shut again and rammed me hard up against it. I felt a needle plunge deep into my shoulder. I screamed but he had a hand over my mouth. Then a wave of vertigo swept over me and my vision blurred and the room seemed to press in on all sides. Sounds seemed both to amplify and slow down. I said the word, "Professor," and it came out comically stretched. I turned around and the Professor stood leering before me.

"Yes," he said. "I've worked very hard and I am very tired. But I'm not tired enough to quit this thing now, not when I'm on the verge of the success."

His leer of triumph gave way to an expression of concern.

"I'm sorry it had to come to this," he said, "but I knew you would never submit. I really am rather ashamed of myself. But what's done is done and in a short time we should observe the effects. What's in the vial is for myself, which I'll be taking later on."

I was so angry and scared that I began to cry. My shoulder throbbed something fierce where he had plunged in the needle, and I felt weak in the knees. I didn't fear shrinking and didn't believe a word he said, but I did fear the shit he had put in me. Was I going to die?

"You bastard," I croaked. The words barely came out. When I tried to move the hand I had on my shoulder, it wouldn't budge. I was paralyzed!

The Professor seemed surprised as well, and alarmed.

"Paralysis?" he said. "I didn't expect that. But like I said: simulations go only so far." He came close and peered intently into my eyes. "Lets hope the effect is only temporary," he said. Then added: "But you'll likely have scratched my eyes out, so call it a blessing. Besides," he said, getting an evil look. "I couldn't have done this." He raised his hand and put it over my left breast. I wanted to die. Then he kissed my neck and began to suck it and put his left hand on my ass and began to squeeze. I could not do a thing.

"Know how long I've wanted to do this?" He released my breast and put his hand up my blouse. "Two years, three months, and twenty-four days." As long as I'd been his assistant. "You are such a sweet little piece of ass, Joanna."

My mouth still worked to a tiny degree and I made pitiful sounds.

"Stop it," he said, almost laughing. "I like my fun."

His fingers found the clasp of my brassiere and released it--my bra popped apart. He cupped my left breast in his hand.

"Nice," he said. "If just a bit small." His grin crook over teasingly. "34A?"

I could only stare at him with hate. He laughed again.

"This," he said. "Is really a bonus."

Lifting my blouse above my breasts, he leaned over and kissed them both. His attention made my nipples hard, and of course, this excited him more. He sucked at them noisily. Then he raised the front of my skirt and slid his hand down my panties, and I tried to scream.

"Relax," he said. "Just enjoy it."

Enjoy it? I was being raped!

Dropping my panties around my knees, then using his feet to spread apart mine, he got me wide enough to insert his finger. I felt him inside. I felt him explore. I wanted to die. Then he was back to sucking my neck and squeezing my bottom and basically rutting me with his finger while I stood there and wailed inside my head.

"Enough of this!" he exclaimed, standing back. His face was red and his eyes bright and hot. He'd turned from mad scientist to mad rapist in a moment. Then stretched his neck, making bones pop. I could see his erection.

"It's already begun," he said. He hurried to his desk. "Must get going. Get back back on track." Then he stopped and looked at me with that awful expression, and I felt the warmth and wetness on my neck, the fingers on my breasts, and the finger up my vagina. I saw myself on the floor. This was a date-rape drug extraordinaire.

"No," he said, shaking his head. "Later. Later on. Get your shit done."

Straightening, he went to his cabinet again and removed what I swear to God was an old Sony Walkman. He brought out a blue canvas backpack. He came and stood before me again. I glared at him for everything I was worth and began to laugh. "Two of them," he said, indicating my neck. "The best I ever did."

Great. . .fucking hickeys.

First working the backpack over my shoulders, then putting the headphones over my ears, he slipped the Walkman into my lab coat's right pocket and hurried back to his desk. From under a pile of papers he removed a large red box, loaded with dials and displays. He turned on a switch and the headphones crackled in my ears. He looked my way. My eyes confirmed confirmed it. "Good," he said.

Although I hadn't the least idea what he was going to do, never for a minute did I believe that I would begin to shrink away. Not in a fucking million years.

As though reading my mind, the Professor turned and faced me. He looked me over casually for a moment, then said: "It's already begun, Hesse. Yes, I'm quite sure it has. Tell me, don't you feel it, Hesse? Don't things look a trifle bigger to you, taller?" He grinned. "I forgot the paralyzing effect doesn't permit you to answer. But look at me, Joanna. . .don't I seem taller now?"

I looked at him, all right. I wanted to burn in his face, I wanted to remember it just this way when I burned him at his trial. But then my intensity faltered. Was it my imagination, or did this bastard have me under a spell? Had he convinced me somehow that he actually was growing larger, ever so slightly, even as I looked?

"Ah-ha!" he yelled triumphantly. "You have noticed! I can tell it by your eyes. But it's not me who is growing taller, Joanna, it's you who are shrinking!"

He came and stood right before me. "You still doubt, Hesse, so look. We used to stand practically eye to eye, remember? Now I'm fully three inches taller than you."

It was true! I stood five feet seven in my stocking feet, and the professor was just slightly taller. Now I looked up into his eyes like I looked into Todd, who was six feet tall!

"The 'Shrinx' has not quite reached its maximum effect," he said. "When it does, it will remain absolutely constant. I couldn't stop it now even if I tried, because there's nothing to counteract it with. Now listen closely, for there's several things you need to know.

"First, when you become small enough, I'm going to lift you up and place you on that table. This block of metal here--" I saw it from the corner of my eye "--is Rehyllium-80, the densest, non-radioactive substance known to man. As you become smaller and smaller, you will eventually become small enough to enter an entirely alien universe, Hesse, consisting of billions and billions of stars. . .molecules of this Rehyllium block. When you first break through, your size in comparison to this new universe will be immense. Utterly immense. But as you continue to diminish, Hesse, soon you'll be able to alight on any one of tens of trillions of planets, one of your own very own choosing. And--after alighting there, Hesse--you will continue down--always down!"

I thought I would go mad. Already I had become fully a foot shorter, and if the paralysis hadn't still had me in its grip, I would have torn the Professor apart, limb by limb.

Again he read my mind.

"Don't think too harshly of me, Hesse," he said. "You should be grateful for this opportunity. You're off on a great adventure, into a marvelous new realm. Indeed, I'm almost jealous that you'll be first. But with this," he indicated the headphones and the box on the desk, "I'll keep in contact with you no matter how far you go. Just as light is a form of electromagnetic radiation," he said, "so is thought. And just as light travels in the form of waves, so does thought. The headphones pick up your impressions of sight and sound, and transmit them to this box. It has the ability to amplify those waves over a million times, Hesse, so I can track you for quite some time. I'll have another set of my own, once I follow you in, so I can continue to monitor your adventures."

I no longer had any doubt about his marvelous "Shrinx." It would do everything he claimed. Already, I was down to two-thirds of my original size, now maybe four feet tall. And still the paralysis held.

Realizing my anger was counter-productive, I pushed it away. Think, dammit! Think! Use your head! What I needed was to get away. Ambush the doc somehow, get out of this building, and try for help. But if the paralysis didn't let me go soon. . . Worse, the professor had gone quiet, and again had that look in his eye.

Wait! my mind screamed. If this atomic universe was a carbon copy of our, wouldn't I end up in the reaches between galaxies--the vast empty reaches! No oxygen to breath meant no breathing, and I was panic stricken again.

But the Professor seemed oblivious to my panic, and was extracting his penis.

Oh, God, no! I begged. Please, no!

Approaching me slowly, he said: "Relax. It'll just take a minute." My face was right there at his cock, about three feet off the floor, and though only of average size, it looked absolutely huge!

"No, Professor," I somehow got out. It was almost incoherent, but the paralysis, at least around my mouth, was letting up. My mouth, I thought, of course my mouth. . .

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