The Dangers of Daring Officer Dolly
Chapter 18. "Mission Dangers"
The sky was not a normal color. Simone Stronghollow could tell that despite the tinted windshield of Thunderbird 2. It was night and it was cloudy, but the clouds were not gray. They were not black storm clouds either. These clouds had a hint of scarlet in them. They were like the clouds that a person could see at sunset if the day had been clear and there was a storm moving in. In that situation the angle of the dying sun caused its rays to illuminate the bottom of the clouds instead of the tops. But it was hours past sunset and the clouds were still red. It was also colder than it should have been. The temperature readouts told Simone that, even though the cabin of Thunderbird 2 was warm enough. The sky that could be seen in the breaks of the clouds was black, no stars or moon could be seen. Something was wrong, something in the world or around the world. Simone knew it and she suspected The Group knew it too.
"We suspect we know what is causing it all." Deborah had said in the library of Simones mansion.
"We also expect Force Group J to solve the problem as they usually do." Delilah had said.
"But we need to be at our place to monitor everything." Tremont said.
"So for this mission you and the girls will be completely on your own." Molly finished.
Simone had never flown anything in her life. Even her paper airplanes had crashed. But they had told her to sit at the pilots seat in Thunderbird 2, close her eyes and then open them again. When she had opened them again Simone had suddenly understood everything about Thunderbird 2. It was as if Simone were remembering a book that she had read as a child. She knew how it worked, why it worked and how to fly it. And Simone had to admit that flying it was a hell of a lot of fun. The control stick was a cut-off steering wheel and the controls around her were a wonderful cascade of colored lights, buttons and knobs.
Ive known them for most of their lives, Simone thought. Ive made love to two of them (at once!), how did I not know what they were?
She spared a glance at the two girls seated on either side of her. They were scared. Lizzie and Jessie Brihallow also served The Group, but where Simone had volunteered the girls had been captured and trained.
I do mind a bit that Im scared of them too, but I walked into this with my eyes open, its far too late to back out now. Not with Lizzie and Jessie serving me. I just wish I knew if they are serving me because they want to or because they are as scared of me as they are of The Group. I want them to serve me out of love, not fear. I dont want to be some sort of dark queen.
The Group had set Simone up as the Duchess of Dollopolis. So far the population of that city of shrunken women was Simone, Lizzie and Jessie, with three other girls yet to be fully (in Simones opinion) admitted. But in the months that Simone had known Lizzie and Jessie she had worked hard to earn their trust and love. She had shielded them from The Group when she could -and Simone suspected that a few of those times had been staged by The Group, and made sure that they were always comfortable. In return Lizzie and Jessie had loved roaming over Simones giant sized (to them) body inciting her lust however they could. Simone had never ordered or pressured them to do anything. A suggestion, a look, was all it took. She had responded in kind and their love making had been wild and satisfying.
But I was normal size then and did they really have a choice, Simone wondered. They were 12 inches tall and I was 5 feet 7 inches. I wish I knew for sure if theyre scared of me, or if they love me. We havent made love since that time at the pool, and that might have been fear too. I need to know. If they dont love me Dollopolis will never work. And if Dollopolis doesnt work out theyll go back to The Group. I dont want that to happen.
"There is the police station." Simone said calmly. Her heart was racing but Simone kept up the calm façade.
"Weve been there milady." Lizzie said.
"Never at this size." Jessie said.
"Its alright girls." Simone said. "This is a simple exchange mission."
They didnt say anything and Simone didnt press them. Although all of them had been reduced in size Simone was the only one who had control over her size. Limited control, but control. At will she could become twenty-four inches tall or twelve inches tall or her regular five feet seven inches tall. But Lizzies and Jessies size was controlled by the group and Simone had never seen them at anything but twelve inches tall. It had even been hinted that they couldnt grow again. Lizzie and Jessie were twins, or so close in looks that Simone thought of them as twins. They were lean with shoulder length black hair. In their full sized lives Lizzie and Jessie had been Goths. They still held onto a little of that lifestyle. Dark corsets and skirts hugged their slight figures. There had been no time for them to make warmer clothing so the girls had taken thin strips of cloth and wrapped their arms and legs like mummies. Their hair was tied into buns and held there by black tied down hoods. The hoods framed their faces and gave them almost a ninja-like look. A look helped by the knives they each had strapped to their legs. At Snowbelles suggestion they had completed the look with masks that were single strips of black cloth over their eyes. Lizzie and Jessies thin faces gave them a slightly sinister look. Simone hoped it would help their self-image. Certainly going on missions naked as they had done before hadnt.
The only clothing Simone had that would fit her shrunken body was robes or doll outfits. She had chosen a simple black robe and had let the twins wrap black cloth around her legs up to her thighs. She too had a knife on each thigh. The look fitted Simones slim body and her red hair had (against the girls advice), been tied into a ponytail and hung down her back. The lack of panties and a bra made her feel slightly exposed but Simone pushed that feeling from her mind.
Simone guided Thunderbird 2 toward the roof slowly, looking for a spot to set down.
Theres a problem." Simone said stopping the craft far away from the roof.
"What is it milady?" Jessie asked.
"Someone is using the roof." Simone said.
Even in the dark of night it wasnt hard to tell what was going on. In the dim light of the streetlights Simone could see two people on the roof. Their nude bodies were entwined and active.
"I guess we go home?" Jessie suggested.
"No." Simone said. She turned a knob on the panel in front of her-and felt a thrill run through her as she knew exactly which knob to turn, how far to turn it and what it did, and the scene that shown through the windscreen was suddenly as clear as if it were high noon. The rooftop of the police station was a large rectangle attached to the smaller rectangle roof of the garage. On one corner of the roof was a shed that contained the stairwell into the station. In the center of the roof was a skylight and next to that a radio tower. The two people making love were in the far corner toward the garage.
"We could wait them out milady." Lizzie suggested.
Simone looked at the display and adjusted the control. The screen zoomed in. The man was on top, pinning the woman beneath him. Her arms were behind her back and he was rubbing his erect penis between her breasts.
"They could be there for hours." Simone said. "We have to switch the sample before the FBI gets here."
Merry would not have had this problem. Simone was sure of that. But then Merry was a police officer. She could have walked in the front door, gone down to the evidence locker and switched another blood sample for her own. But Merry was still being healed. In fact her fight with the harpy was why Simone, Lizzie and Jessie were there. Samples had been collected from the battle sight before The Groups automated cleaning unit had gotten there. If Merrys blood was matched to her record more and more questions would be asked. Questions The Group did not want asked.
"Well have to knock them out." Simone said moving the craft around the building.
"I thought Thunderbird 2 didnt have any guns milady." Jessie said.
"I said knock them out not kill them." Simone said. "Ill land on the other side of the skylight. Then well go over there and use our knives to knock them out for a while."
"Wont they see us land milady?" Lizzie asked.
"Not with what they are doing." Simone said smiling. "The only way theyll see us is if I land on top of them."
Lizzie and Jessie didnt say anything else as Simone flew Thunderbird 2 to the other side of the skylight. She came in at a low angle so that no one looking up would see the craft. Simone set it down as gently as she could and then stood up.
"Right." She said turning and facing them. "Now girls I know youre scared, I know youre nervous. Im a little nervous myself. But we do have something to do, and this isnt only for The Giants, its for Merry as well. Ive spent enough time with her to know that she needs to be a police officer. Without the job Im not sure what would become of her. If that sample of her blood is matched her career is over. Now shes saved us both, lets help her out ok?"
"Right milady." Jessie said.
"Right milady." Lizzie echoed.
Jessie and Lizzie picked up a black rectangular case that was as big as they were. Then they followed Simone out of the craft.
The cold was the first thing that hit Lizzie as the hatch opened. But she was ready for that. It was fall; it was night and the clouds looked ready to pour rain any second. Lizzie was sure they would all be soaked before the mission was over.
Or worse, she thought.
Lizzie tried to shake the negative thoughts out of her mind but she couldnt. She was too scared. After months of living in Simones bedroom they had finally gotten into the new Dollopolis, only to be yanked out of the city of shrunken women on the first day. Now she stood out in the open and everything seemed so big. Too big.
At least we are wearing something this time, Lizzie told herself. At first The Giants were going to send them on the mission naked. But Simone had intervened and Lizzie and Jessie had been allowed to cobble together an outfit of sorts. They could wear the skirts and corsets they had made. That worked but then they had tied strips of cloth over their arms and legs. The Giants had mentioned some sort of storm and both girls wanted to be dressed against it.
"Oh wow Mini-Ninjas!" Snowbelle had exclaimed when she had seen them. After that she had insisted they put on masks. Lizzie wasnt sure about Snowbelle yet. To Lizzie any girl how volunteered to be shrunk and serve The Giants was not all there. Even with a homicidal bully of an older sister to get away from. Snowbelle had even wanted to come with them, proving to Lizzie that she was probably too stupid to live.
The rooftop was plain tarpaper and felt surprisingly soft under Lizzies feet. She could smell the tar; a thick oily scent that on a hot day might have made her sick. Lizzie focused on what she was doing. She switched her grip so that the case was behind her. Then she followed Simone around the skylight and they crept across the roof. The case was awkward and kept hitting her in the back of the legs. Lizzie cursed silently.
This was not the first time in her shrunken life that Lizzie had seen naked giants making love. But the dull red light from the clouds and the dim yellow light from the streetlights brought a new dimension to the experience. The man was heavyset, nearly fat and the slim woman was nearly lost under him. They looked like a picture Lizzie had once seen of two elephants mating. It was an ugly scene to Lizzies eyes and she felt her stomach churn.
"Its all wrong!" She whispered to herself.
Simone motioned them to stay back and Lizzie stopped.
"Man shes brave." Jessie said setting the case down and coming up beside her sister.
Lizzie nodded and set her side of the case down. They watched as Simone crawled slowly over to the giants feet. She waited, crouched there and Lizzie wondered what she was waiting for. When the man and woman shifted position Lizzie realized why. The woman rolled over on top of the man and Simone struck. All it took was one stab from her knife and both of them fell un-conscious.
"Well that was exiting." Simone said as the twins rushed over to her. She put the knife into a holster on her leg. Lizzie saw that Simone was breathing hard and her face was red.
"Whyd you wait my lady?" Jessie asked.
"He would have crushed her if hed been on top." Simone said. "If we had more time I would have waited until one of them came."
"Hey its Sargent Kinky!" Jessie said.
"Everyone calls him Sargent Kinky." Lizzie said. "If you sleep with him for free he lets you make a living at it."
"Beastly." Simone said. "I wonder if Merry knows about it?"
"Maybe The Giants told her not to bother him." Jessie suggested.
"If they did we wont ask them." Lizzie said.
"Definitely not." Simone agreed. She started toward the vent that was a little bit away. "Come on, we only have an hour before they wake up."
Shes scared of them too, Lizzie realized. It hadnt occurred to her that Simone could be scared of The Giants. Simone after all could grow at will. Or could she?
Lizzie paused and slowed to a stop. She tried to shake her thoughts out of the path they were treading and failed. Lizzie didnt want to think that Simone was scared of The Giants. Simone was the buffer that Lizzie and her sister desperately needed. Suddenly the space around Lizzie was overpowering. She felt like the air was being pulled from her body.
It only lasted a moment and Lizzie realized that Jessie was urging her on. Doing her best to clamp down on the fear Lizzie picked up the case and they hurried over to the vent. The vent was from the heating system. It was three times their height, round and had a bulbous spinning metal cap. The cap was warped and kept hitting the side of the vent with a metallic clang. Lizzie and Jessie set the case down and Simone opened it. Inside was a set of tools, ropes and a duplicate evidence bag.
"If Merrys right " Simone said picking up one of the tools. It was a staff of metal, pointed at one and hooked at the other. It was half as tall as Simone. Simone took it and walked around the base of the vent. "The weak spot should be Here!"
Lizzie looked and saw where Simone was pointing. At the base of the vent where the seams had been spot-welded together was a small hole. The metal was rusty around the edges. Simone punched the staff into the metal and pulled it out.
"A little help girls?" Simone said looking at them expectantly.
Jessie handed Lizzie a staff and the three of them started to attack the vent. But the rust turned out to be mostly surface rust and the aluminum was tough. It took them nearly a half of an hour to enlarge the hole. For a little while after that they worked with small files to make the edges less jagged. When it was done Lizzie set the staff down. Her arms ached and her head was pounding. Try as she might Lizzie could not shake the feelings of fear that filled her.
Its all too big, she kept thinking to herself. Its just too big!
"I think I know why Merry spends three hours a day working out." Simone said. "Did they have to make this damn thing so sturdy!"
"I wish we had lightsabers." Jessie said.
"I wouldnt turn one down." Simone said. She stood up and took the files from them. Walking over to the case she took out a set of ropes and passed them to the sisters. Then she took a small light and put it next the hole.
"Alright, you two go ahead. Weve taken too long on this and I want someone to be here in case those two wake up. Jessie you first and then Lizzie and then Ill pass the bag to you."
The ropes had been pre-tied into harnesses and Lizzie put hers on quickly. She wanted to get inside of the vent, or inside of anywhere. It wasnt raining yet but it was going to and she dreaded the thought of being rained on. As small as she was a heavy rain felt like she was being hit by millions of soccer balls. The harness went around each leg and pulled up between them. From there it was tied to another rope around her stomach and that rope went around her back and criss-crossed between her breasts. Once the ropes were on Simone ran them around the vent and stood read to give slack when needed. She nodded and Lizzie and Jessie entered the vent.
The vent was dark and smelled of dust and burnt paper. But the sound of the wind was muffled and the regular clang of the spinning vent was somehow comforting. Lizzie felt like she was in a nice safe cave. She and Jessie didnt have any lights on them. There was too much danger that someone would spot the lights through the heating vents. They wouldnt need them anyway. The vent ran straight down through the building to the basement. From there it took a right-angled turn into the furnace. But the bottom of the shaft protruded into the evidence room and there was a small vent there. With the vent having the dimensions of six inches by six inches no one was worried about security.
"Mini-ninjas attack!" Jessie whispered.
"Go ninjas!" Lizzie whispered back and they both giggled.
"Girls!" Simone hissed as she passed them the evidence bag.
"Sorry milady." Lizzie said as she took the bag and hooked it to her harness. Jessie hooked the other end of the bag to her harness and after a moment they started to descend.
The further they got into the shaft the better Lizzie felt. She missed the magnetic harnesses that they had used before, but the police stations telephone wires had been mounted next to the heating vent. The magnetic fields would have scrambled the telephone system and perhaps led to discovery. Lizzie had never liked cops and the thought of being caught by a giant cop was one of her personal nightmares. As they moved further down the shaft Lizzie shifted uncomfortably. It was too late to do anything about it but the weight of the evidence bag was pulling the ropes of her harness. With each move they rode up and rubbed against her vagina and tugged against her breasts. Try as she might to avoid it Lizzie was getting turned on. And from the way Jessie was movie Lizzie could tell that her sister was getting hot too.
"I wanna go home!" Lizzie whispered softly.
"Smoothly now girls." Simone pleaded as she let the ropes out. The clouds were becoming more and more ominous. There was black lightning in them now, not white.
Simone felt two slight tugs on the rope and relaxed. Quickly she tied the ropes off. Those tugs meant that Jessie and Lizzie were at the bottom of the shaft. They would switch the bag and then climb up.
This left Simone with nothing to do but wait. Simone glanced at the two sleeping giants. If it started to rain she was sure that someone would come looking for them.
"Do I really look like that?" Simone asked no one. She still wasnt used to her shrunken state and the perspective it brought. She thought the man and the woman looked grotesque. She hoped it was the lighting and that Lizzie and Jessie didnt think she was ugly. "God, its like Canto 31 of Dantes Inferno. Next thing you know Antaeus will be lowering us down onto Cocytus!"
Simone shook her head and tried not the think about that. She didnt dare talk like that in front of Lizzie or Jessie. They didnt know the poem and Simone was sure they wouldnt appreciate the reference.
One of the panes of glass in the skylight in the center of the roof suddenly exploded. Simone was too stunned even to move as shattered glass showered around her. Another pain on the other side of the skytlight exploded. With the glass broken Simone could hear shouting and gunshots inside. Suddenly there was a muffled blast that made the roof shake. Running to the vent she leaned in and looked down. There was nothing but darkness. Simone grabbed the ropes and gave a slight tug. There was no answering tug and after a moment she tried again. There was no tug but she could feel weight on the line.
Straightening up Simone shrugged off her robe and put her hands over her head.
"By Royal Command," she called "I wish to be taller!"
The fabric of strips on cloth on her arms and legs ripped as she grew and the strap holding the knife snapped off. Simone didnt care. Suddenly she had a vision of returning to Dollopolis with two small corpses. Grabbing the ropes she started to pull them up. With her larger size came larger strength and still it wasnt easy. Simone let the ropes down. Again she put her hands together over her head.
"By royal command, I wish to be the tallest I can be!"
Simone stumbled as she resumed her full height. Then she kneeled down, ignoring the way the tar was sticking to her legs, and quickly started to pull the ropes up. Despite her fear Simone pulled as gently as she could. After a few minutes she saw Jessies small form at the hole. It hung limply from the rope. Carefully she pulled Lizzie out of the vent and laid her on the roof. Then she pulled Jessie out and laid her beside her sister.
"Lizzie?" Simone demanded feeling for a pulse at the girls neck. After a moment she felt one. It wasnt strong or steady but it was there. Jessie had one as well. The roof shook again and Simone had a horrible moment where she almost fell on top of both them. A loud creak was heard as the door to the stairwell started to open.
"Oh god!" Simone said as she realized she was standing on the top of the police station totally nude.
"By Royal Command!" Simone shouted. "I wish to be as small as I can be!"
There was a wrenching moment and Simone suddenly realized that she might have made a mistake. Now she was a totally nude twelve-inch tall woman standing on the roof of the police station. The door burst open and a tall officer ran over to the two drugged people.
"Klansky wake up!" He shouted. "That Sims kid nearly blew the place up! We got him pinned down in the shower but hes got two more grenades!"
Simone bent over and picked up Lizzie. She turned to head for the ship but got tangled in the ropes and went down with Lizzie on top of her. Simone struggled out from under her and saw that the man was having the same trouble with Klansky and his friend. He was cursing with words that Simone had never heard before but he was getting them to move. Simone pulled and tugged wildly at the ropes for a few moments and then stopped. She took a deep breath, then another. Then she started to untangle the girls from the ropes.
Hes too busy to even notice the ship let alone me, Simone thought.
She forced herself to slowly untangle the ropes from the two unconscious shrunken women. Simone felt the wind chill her skin and the first drops of rain started to fall. But she ignored everything else and finally untangled the twins. When she looked up the man was shepherding the drunk-like giants she had drugged across the roof.
"They dont even know were here." Simone said as she lifted Lizzie up and carried her over to Thunderbird 2. "Talk about a blow to the ego."
Simone put Lizzie into a seat and strapped her in and then went back to get Jessie. The rain was starting to fall hard now and every drop felt like a hammer against Simones naked body. Once Jessie was strapped in she went out again and started to drag the box of tools back to the ship. Simone didnt want to leave behind any clue that could lead back to a city of shrunken women. She was halfway back to Thunderbird 2 with the case of tools the building shook again.
"Bloody hell!" Simone shouted dumping the case and running for the ship. She leapt into the pilots seat and started the engine. The ship lifted into the air and Simone pushed the power as far as she could. Thunderbird 2 shot into the air and into the clouds. Simone breathed a bit easier and tried not to think about the abandoned tools.
"Merry does this all the time!" Simone gasped out the words while her heart pounded in her ears. "My god no wonder the poor girl is a wreck!"
Lizzies ears were ringing. She opened her eyes and saw that she was in Thunderbird 2 again. Simone was at the controls and it looked like they were in flight.
"Milady?" Lizzie said, but she couldnt hear anything over the bells that were ringing her in ears. She couldnt even hear her own voice. Lizzie saw Simone get out of her seat and walk back to her. Simone was talking, Lizzie could see her lips moving, but she couldnt hear anything.
"What?" Lizzie asked even as fear began to battle with puzzlement.
Again she could see Simones lips moving and again Lizzie couldnt hear a word. The ringing in her ears was fading but nothing was replacing it. Not her own voice or her own breathing. Nothing.
"I cant hear you!" Lizzie shouted, or guessed that she was shouting. "I cant hear anything! Milady! I cant hear anything!"
Simone was talking to her but Lizzie could hear nothing now. She opened her mouth and screamed. Lizzie knew she was screaming. She could feel the air rushing through her throat; feel the sound as it echoed in her throat and made her tongue vibrate. In her mind she could even hear the scream because Lizzie knew what her own screams sounded like.
But she couldnt hear a thing. She was deaf.
Simone grabbed her head and forced Lizzie to look into her eyes. Slowly she mouthed the words and even through her panic Lizzie was able to read Simones lips. Simone was telling her to calm down.
Whether it was through exhaustion as the panic left her or the fact that Lizzie had accepted Simone as her liege Lizzie felt her self start to calm down. Simone held her head for a few moments and then let Lizzie go. She pulled Lizzies hood and mask off of her. She looked to her left and talked. Lizzie turned her head and saw that Jessie was awake and talking. Her hood and mask were gone too.
But thats the only way I would have known she was even there, Lizzie thought. Christ! Im deaf!
Simone was saying something again but Lizzie barely noticed. A great black cloud had enveloped her spirit and she sank into it. Deaf. A simple word and a simple concept, but horrifying all the same. How could she live now? Even in Dollopolis?
Jessie touched her shoulder and Lizzie looked at her. Her sister was speaking and she couldnt hear her! Lizzie nearly screamed again but stopped. What was the point?
Simone un-strapped Lizzie and pulled her out of the seat. Gently she guided her into the co-pilots seat. A keyboard was set next to the seat. Simone typed in a message and a display screen above the windshield came to life.
Can you hear anything at all? Simone typed.
no Lizzie jabbed at the keys angrily.
Jessie was talking again. Lizzie could see her sisters reflection on the screen and her mouth was moving. She was probably telling Simone what had happened.
It had been going great too. They had opened the vent into the evidence room. The evidence bag they had to replace was on the second shelf down. The top shelf was only a few inches from the vent. Lizzie and Jessie had gotten out of their harnesses, dropped onto the shelf and climbed down to the next shelf. Then they had switched the bags, climbed back up, gotten back in the vent and closed it. What happened after that was jumbled in Lizzies mind. She could remember someone shouting in or near the evidence room. Then wholes appeared in side of the vent and Lizzie realized that someone was shooting wildly. She pushed Jessie down and fell on top of her. Then there was a gigantic sound, a booming sound and after that Lizzie didnt remember anything until she woke up in the ship.
The police station was nearly blown up. Simone typed.
Im deaf for nothing! The evidence room must have been blown up too! Lizzie jabbed at the keys and almost pounded on them.
Dont worry. Simone typed. They can cure you.
Jessie put her hand on her shoulder and Lizzie looked up at her sister. Jessie said something and Lizzie guessed it was encouraging. Simone tapped her on the shoulder and Lizzie looked back at the screen.
If they can put Merry back together they can heal you too. Simone typed.
"If they want too." Lizzie said suddenly wondering why she had used the keyboard. She could feel the words in her throat after all and Lizzie knew that she knew how to talk. But were the words coming out the right way? How the hell could she know that?
Lizzie looked at the words on the screen. The Giants were her only hope.
"What if they say no?" She said and hoped the words came out ok.
They will help you. Simone typed. I promise.
Simone got into the pilots seat and took hold of the controls. Lizzie felt her sisters hand on her shoulder and looked up. Just as she did the ship bucked under them as if it had been hit. Jessie was thrown toward the back of the cabin and Lizzie had to hold her chair in a death grip to keep from following her. The controls suddenly were all red and blinking. Lizzie saw Jessie start to get to her feet and the ship lurched again. Jessie was thrown forward and managed to grab one of the chairs. She clung to it as Lizzie clung to her own chair.
Then everything went dead. It was as if someone had reached over and shut off a switch. There was a heart stopping moment of complete stillness and then Thunderbird 2 started to fall.
A few seconds into the fall the power came back on again. Lizzie looked up to see Simone struggling with the controls. Out of the windshield she could see that they were still going down and that they were going down fast. Simone was shouting something but to Lizzie the scene was playing out silently. The complete lack of sound added a new dimension to her terror. Lizzie felt like she was dreaming. It couldnt be real, a part of her self screamed. Not after all that she and Jessie had been through. They couldnt die in a damn plane crash!
Lizzie had a brief moment of hope when she felt the ship start to pick up power and rise, but then the ship hit something. From then on Lizzie had only a brief series of images and impressions to remember. She saw the walls of Thunderbird 2 crack and split open. She felt the cold rain hit her body. She felt her seat start to rise beneath her. Lizzie felt another wrench as the ship hit something else and she saw the ship come apart. Her seat suddenly broke away from the floor and Lizzie felt herself flying through the air. She hit something hard and fell against something harder. Like a pinball stuck in a machine Lizzie hit multiple obstacles before coming to rest in a puddle of dirty oily water.
What amazed the young woman more than anything else was that she didnt pass out. She wasnt even badly hurt. Her skin was scrapped, her arms were sore from holding onto the seat but nothing was broken. Lizzie looked around. She was under something. Something very large. There wasnt room enough for her to stand up. She was in darkness but a little bit in front of her was a strip of dim light. Lizzie went toward and it and found herself looking at a parking lot. Suddenly Lizzie knew where she was. She was in the Hawk Hill mall parking lot, under the dumpster.
The rain was still coming down. It was actually pouring but Lizzie still heard nothing. She could see where Thunderbird 2 had come down. Or at least part of it. Pieces of it were scattered all over the parking lot. The front nose section was still intact and that had come to rest against a big black camper. The camper was parked close to the building. Though they leaned drunkenly to one side the streetlights were still giving off light. Lizzie watched as the camper door opened and someone stepped out. Who ever it was bent over the wreckage of Thunderbird 2 and after a moment picked it up and brought it back inside the camper.
"Jessie!" Lizzie said, or hoped she said the name. Unless she was shouting it was impossible to tell if she was speaking or not. Fearing for her sister and Simone Lizzie crawled to the edge of the dumpster. As soon as she climbed out from underneath it Lizzie froze. Rain and wind hit her body. The space around her seemed to reach into Lizzies soul and tear it apart. Suddenly Lizzie felt the lack of walls around her. The world was so open, so huge. Not even able to scream Lizzie rolled underneath the dumpster again. She curled up into a ball and shook. Lizzie was too scared to move or think. Fear was all she knew. All she could do was lay there and watch the rain with wide un-blinking eyes.
Simone woke up because of a shooting pain in her shoulder. That and there was someone talking to Jessie.
"You hit our camper." The voice said full of accusation.
"We were crashing!" Jessie said plaintively. Her voice was full of fear.
"I hit your camper." Simone said opening her eyes. "And Im not sure you can really hold me to fault because A) as Jessie pointed out, I was crashing an aircraft at the time and B) it was only my second time flying."
Jessie looked at her in shock and some admiration. They were in a camper, an old one from the looks of it. Above Simone was an expandable roof that housed a bed. To her right was a small rear section with two beds. Beyond that section on one side was a wide seat that faced the round table she was on. Across from the table was the door to the camper. Opposite the door was an oval window; tinted with no curtain. To Simones left was the front of the camper with a driver and passengers seat. The camper was frayed in many places. The plastic was faded and the seats had old worn covers on them. Around the walls were old rock posters. Jessie sat next to Simone and around the table were their hosts. The first one was sitting on the wide seat. She was young but was doing her best to look old. Her skin was well tanned and she had more piercings than Simone had ever seen in one person. The girls lips, nose, cheeks, eyebrows, and ears and chin sported rhinestones and studs. The tight red T-shirt she wore showed that her nipples were pierced too. She was a big and wide girl, even sitting down there was barely room in the camper for her. Her green hair was worn long past her shoulders. The only way to tell that she truly wasnt old was the fact that her blue eyes were bright and alert. They flitted constantly from Simone to Jessie. The girls face was as big and wide as she was and she could easily have swallowed both Simone and Jessie at the same time. Her eyes excitedly roamed over Simones nude body. Simone didnt squirm at the inspection but it took an effort not to.
I must have looked at Lizzie and Jessie that way when we first met, Simone thought. Talk about a turn around!
The second woman was sitting next to the first. She was truly old. She was slim and her skin was not tanned but naturally red, but it was dry and hung loosely on her. Her teeth were stained yellow and her black hair hung dull and lifeless on her shoulders. But there was a calculating spark in her gray eyes. She was wearing a black sweater that had holes in the stomach and arms. Simone guessed a Native American heritage but the womans strong jaw told of English influence somewhere in her family tree. Simone instinctively knew that this woman was the leader.
The last of the three women was a medium sized girl with large breasts. She wore a blue lace bra and that allowed Simone to see the many tattoos on her body. They were all tattoos of movie monsters. Some of the smaller ones were unknown to Simone though she was sure Merry could have named them easily. But the larger ones were of very famous movie monsters. On the womans chest was the three-headed golden dragon Ghidora. The three heads were evenly distributed, with one head on each breast with the tongue reaching down to the nipple and one head between the breasts. On her stomach Godzilla stomped buildings and breathed fire. On her left forearm was King Kong and on her right was Gamera the giant turtle. She had short red hair and bright green eyes. Her face was heart shaped and surprisingly gentle looking. A fan girl if Simone had ever seen one.
"I dont think we would have crashed if the lightning hadnt hit us."
"Are you alright milady?" Jessie said coming over to her.
"I cant move my arm." Simone said wincing in pain as she tried to move her left arm.
The look on Jessies face showed that she realized what that meant. If Simone could not put her arms over her head she could not grow to full size. That meant that they were at the mercy of their hosts. Simone didnt see more than lust and curiosity in their faces just yet, but that didnt mean they were anywhere near safe.
"You shouldnt have flown in bad weather." The woman with the black hair said.
Jessie helped her sit up and Simone faced the woman. Simone crossed her legs and cradled her bad arm with her good one. The key to this sort of situation, as Simone had learned one summers night when she and Lady Florence had been caught dancing naked on top of the Eiffel Tower, was to act as if you had every right to do what you were doing.
"Id like to know where you got a working model of Thunderbird 2." Said the girl with the tattoos. She swiveled the passenger seat so that it faced the table and Simone saw the nose section of Thunderbird 2. Or what was left of it. The pilot, co-pilot and one of the passenger seats were still there, as were the controls but the rest of the ship was gone.
"What happened to the rest of my ship?" Simone demanded.
"Its in about a gazzilion pieces in the parking lot." The woman with the black hair said.
Simone felt Jessies hand dig into her leg and nodded at her. Jessie knew enough by now not to let on that there was a third shrunken woman about. No matter how worried she was about her sister.
"Who are you and what were you doing flying around in this weather." The dark haired woman asked.
"I am the Duchess of Dollopolis." Simone said as if she wasnt only twelve inches tall. She nodded at Jessie. "This is Jessie, first citizen and my lady in waiting."
"Duchess?" The pierced one asked. "Should we bow or something?"
"That depends on who you are." Simone said before the others could laugh.
"Were the Dead Sirens." The woman with the black hair said.
"Really?" Jessie asked. "Yea, I recognize you guys now." She pointed to the one with all the piercings, then the woman with the black hair and then the woman with all the tattoos. "Holy (She pronounced the word Hole-lee), Dead Heart and Thunder." Jessie turned back to Simone. "They do a great Nine-inch Nails cover act."
"Shrunken chicks like us?" Holey asked.
"At least somebody does." Thunder said.
"Where is Dollopolis?" Holey asked.
"Not in this world." Simone said. "We were just on a short trip here and were on our way back when the weather hit."
"So youre stuck here." Dead Heart said.
"Until more of my subjects come for us." Simone said looking at her evenly. "In the meantime we would be grateful for your hospitality." Simone looked down at her nude body. "Id be grateful for something to wear at least."
"And a splint for your arm." Jessie said. She had been holding it while they talked. "I think its broken."
"So why were you flying around naked?" Dead Heart asked.
"There was a problem, with my assignation." Simone said carefully. "I had to leave quickly."
"She was bucking some guy and got caught." Thunder said laughing.
"Something like that." Simone said with as much dignity as she could muster.
"Theres shrunken guys around too?" Thunder asked and this time there was lust in her voice.
"They got to their home." Simone said. "I think."
"Damn!" Thunder swore. "What were they flying?"
"A copy of the Millennium Falcon." Simone said hoping she had jugded Thunder correctly.
"Oh yea!" Thunder said and this time the lust in her voice was enough to make Simone squirm. "Luke and Leia!"
"So you fly between worlds in copies of old sci-fi ships?" Dead Heart asked.
"What would you rather I flew in?" Simone asked.
"Well we could help you." Dead Heart said after a few moments. "Or we could sell you on ebay. We still gotta fix the camper you crashed into."
"My treasury would barely fix a flat tire at the moment." Simone said. She hadnt seen any of the outside of the camper but Simone suspected that hers was not the first vehicle to crash into it. Not that she couldnt have handled it, Simone could have bought five such campers if she had her purse with her, and she was large enough to hold a pen. "That is one of the reasons Im here."
Dead Heart leaned forward.
"Sounds pretty good." She said. "Dont know if its true or not."
"Believing anything is always up to the individual." Simone said carefully. "But we will be missed, my subjects will look for us."
"Point taken." Dead Heart backed off a little. "Still like I said we gotta fix the camper. Any ideas?"
"No, but you have one." Simone said.
"Yea I do." Dead Heart said. "Were parked next to the mall for a reason. Inside the mall is a nice little jewelry store. Not a big one, but one with some really nice stuff. Thunder got the alarm codes last night. Tonight we were gonna go in and clean it out."
"Cant live off CD sales alone." Holy said.
"Not ours anyway." Thunder added.
"But the power went out and the alarms reset when it came back on." Dead Heart said. "Thunders codes wont work on the outside panel."
"Well if my ship werent in pieces I could help you." Simone said.
"You can help us anyway." Thunder said. "The guy who owns the store has a master switch next to his desk. All you have to do is get through the lasers and hit the off switch."
"Why would the man have an off switch that works from inside the store?" Jessie demanded. "Thats silly. You have to walk through the store to shut it off."
"Take a look." Thunder said. Reaching bellow her seat she pulled out a pad of paper and put it down. On the paper was a map of the store. It wasnt a big place. Shaped like a half circle there was a door at the far end. Thunder pointed to the door. "This is where the panel is. The owner has a jerkoff room there."
"He calls it a panic room." Holey said. "But its a sex room he brings hookers into so his wife wont know."
"Sensible of him." Simone said looking at the floor plan. Taylors Jewelry was a small store. She knew the store and had shopped in it a few times.
"Yea, he gets a charge doing it when the customers are looking at themselves in the one way mirrors." Thunder laughed. "Hes got the mirrors behind the counter set up so that he can look out."
"Charming." Simone said, wondering if the man had been doing it while she shopped. "So you want us to help you rob someone."
"You got it." Dead Heart said. "Not your world, you shouldnt care."
"And I dont." Simone said. She turned to Jessie. "Do you see any problems?"
"Just getting to the switch." Jessie said. "I think we got some rope left in the ship though."
"We can get you to the door and through it." Dead Heart said. "But once you get in the place has more laser beams than Star Wars."
"And smoke detectors." Holey said. "So we cant spotem like that."
"Thunderbird 2s windshields are tinted the right way to spot that type of laser." Simone said.
"They are?" Jessie asked.
"Now whys that I wonder?" Dead Heart asked.
"Seemed like a good idea at the time." Simone said silencing Jessie with a glance.
"Deal then?" Dead Heart asked.
"One other thing." Simone said. "There were three of us in the ship. Lizzie, Jessies twin sister. She must still be outside. She was hurt to begin with, deafened by a stray blast. Find her and well get you in."
"Itll just be a minute before the garbage guy goes." Thunder said looking out of the windshield.
"Deal then." Dead Heart said.
"Deal." Simone agreed and wished she were half as confident as she sounded.
Eventually Lizzies other senses broke through her fear. Her chilled body ached from the tension of her fetal position. Her nose was filled with the scent of ages old garbage. Her skin felt slimy from the puddle of oily water she was half lying in. All that Lizzie might have been able to ignore, but not the sudden pain that shot through her leg. Lizzie looked down and saw a rat. Her leg was in the rats mouth and it was biting her!
Rage and surprise crushed fear and Lizzie kicked out. The rat took the kick and tackled her, biting her leg again and scratching at the rest of her body with its hands and feet. They wrestled and Lizzie suddenly found the rats teeth going for her throat. Lizzie grabbed the rats jaw with both hands but the sharp teeth cut into her fingers. One hand slipped and she nearly lost her fingers but was able to pull them away just in time. Meanwhile the rats hind legs were tearing at her stomach and thighs and its front legs were tearing at her chest. Lizzie grabbed a handful of the rats throat even as her free hand searched desperately for her knife.
The fight was carried on in complete silence. Lizzie could tell that the rat was growling or squealing at her, and she knew that she was shouting back at it; but she couldnt hear a thing. She smelled the rat more than anything else; it had a raw repulsive smell that combined wet fur with oil and garbage. Deep within her Lizzie realized that this was a primal struggle. One that had been going on for as long as larger predators sought smaller prey. Ever since she had been shrunk Lizzie had lived with the knowledge that she was low on the food chain, but this was too much.
"Get off of me!" Lizzie shouted and at last found her knife. With a move that was as savage as it was smooth she stuck the knife into the rats throat. Hot blood showered her face and chest as it spurted from the wound and the rat fell back with the knife still in its throat. Lizzie sat up to see how badly it was hurt but before she could find out the dumpster moved.
Lizzie felt the vibration through the ground and saw a massive piece of metal coming toward her. She rolled out of the way just in time. The metal kept on going, a solid bar that was probably making a horrible screeching sound as it scraped against the asphalt and the metal. Hot sparks showered her. Lizzie watched as it continued for a few minutes and then stopped. Then the dumpster was raised off of the ground.
Lights flashed and Lizzies world rumbled as the dumpster was moved. It was as if someone was lifting a building. Lizzie started to climb to her feet but her leg collapsed under her and forced her down to all fours. The leg screamed pain as it failed her and Lizzie couldnt move for a moment. Then the dumpster started to move again. Scrambling for all she was worth Lizzie made it to the far wall. She pressed against it and watched as the dumpster was pulled away. It was like being on the docks and watching a freighter pull out. Silent, hulking and horrible. Lizzie tried not to imagine what would happen if the dumpster shifted just a little bit toward the wall, but she pictured it anyway. At her size there would only be a smear left of her, a smear that the rain would rapidly wash away.
And she still couldnt hear a thing! Even with her survival a matter of inches Lizzie could not shake that thought.
But as bad as that was Lizzie soon realized that things could and would get worse. As the hulking mass was moved away from her the space; that horrible open space replaced it. Again the rain hit her and the wind hit her and there was no place for Lizzie to hide. She stood paralyzed with her back to the wall. Dirty water from the roof of the mall dripped on her and mixed with the blood. It ran down her face and body, chilling her to the bone. But Lizzie stood still and watched. The truck moving the dumpster pulled it halfway across the parking lot and set it down. Then it picked up an empty one and started to move it. Lizzie knew she had to move. The odds against the new dumpster missing her were astronomical. But she couldnt. All she could think of was the lack of shelter around her. The space, infinite and terrible that would take her if she moved.
A black form raced across the parking lot and past Lizzie. She followed it and saw that it was a cat. A slim black cat. It raced past her and leapt up to the large open door that the dumpster would rest against. The cat pushed and the door to the inside opened.
Shelter! The realization broke through Lizzies fear and she raced after the cat. The desire to be inside anywhere made her ignore the pain in her leg and it carried her to the doorway. She climbed into the doorway and skidded across it to slam against the inside door. Lizzie pushed at it with everything she had and it opened a crack. Lizzie jumped through it and fell into a pile of something large and soft. She bounced off of that, hit her head and blacked out.
"Nothing." Thunder said pulling off her old yellow raincoat. She reached into a pocket and pulled out Jessie, putting her down on the tabletop.
"Shes gotta be out there!" Jessie insisted ignoring the fact that she was soaked.
"If she is shes hiding." Holey said coming in behind Thunder.
"She might be hiding." Simone said. She was sitting on a bundled up sweater. A piece of Scotch tape held her injured arm under her breasts. Holy had done the job and used more tape that Simone thought necessary. The result was that her chest and arm were nearly mummified with semi-transparent tape. Simone had groaned a few times but had otherwise not protested as Holy had explored her shrunken body. Holy had continued exploring after the taping was done and Simone had pretended to faint to get away from the young woman. Then it had been Thunders turn when Holy had gone outside to search. Thunder had found a red lace handkerchief and used more Scotch tape to attach it to Simones lower body. She too had let her fingers search. When she went out Dead Heart had supplied the sweater. She seemed indifferent by Simones stature and Simone was grateful. The tape was stiff, it smelled bad and it chaffed. It was also already picking up lint and stray hairs from the sweater. Jessie had gone out with Thunder to help search. While she was gone Dead Heart had lit up cigarette and turned on the radio. Reports of world wide chaos left her un-moved.
"No." Simone had said and that was the entirety of their conversation. But Dead Heart was thinking about her new shrunken guest. Simone had seen men and women run million dollar empires with similar looks of deep thought.
"She wouldnt hide from me milady." Jessie said.
"We looked over the whole lot." Holy said.
"Take me out again!" Jessie pleaded.
"Its pouring out there." Thunder said. "We almost lost you down the sewer."
"Jessie calm down." Simone said. "Get those wet things off before you catch cold."
For a moment Jessie looked like she was going to rebel but the impulse passed.
"Can we have a towel here please?" Simone asked as Jessie started to un-wrap her arms.
"Here." Dead Heart said putting a worn dishtowel onto the table. Thunder sat down in the drivers seat and Holy sat on the wide seat. Both of them watched as Jessie undressed.
Im sorry girl, Simone thought. But Ive got to keep them interested. Lord did I look at Merry like that? No wonder she snapped at me.
"Were running out of night." Dead Heart said.
"She might have ended up in the park or on the roof of the mall." Thunder said. "I traced your flightpath and some of your ship was heading in both directions."
"So we go in, do the job and check the roof." Dead Heart said. From there we can look over the whole lot.
Jessie was about to protest but Simone spoke up first.
"Agreed." She said. "But Jessie and I are not leaving until we find Lizzie."
"Suit yourself." Dead Heart said.
Jessie had pulled the last of her wrappings off and started to rub her self with the towel. Simone noted the predatory look in Thunders and Holys eyes. That was good, rotten for Jessie but good. It would make them look harder for Lizzie, if only because there were two full sized women and only one fully healthy shrunken woman.
Prey on their greed, prey on their lust and pray for time, Simone told herself.
Fluorescent lights lit the place and the warm dry heated air replaced the cold wet air that had so chilled her. Those were the first things that greeted Lizzie when she woke up. Lizzie realized that she was in a box. It was half full of Styrofoam packing popcorn and what was left of a TV. A bloody spot on the TV told Lizzie where she had hit. She felt her head but since it was covered in blood anyway Lizzie couldnt tell if she was bleeding or not. Lizzie used the edge of the box to pull herself up and look around. She was in the back room of the mall, the one between the supermarket and the video rental place. When she and Jessie had been full sized they had slept here once. To her left were row after row of merchandize, to her right were stacks of garbage bags. Straight ahead of her was a set of double swinging doors. Lizzie thought she saw the edge of the cats black tail as it vanished through the doors.
"Cats dont like rats." Lizzie thought and spoke, but she could only hear the thought. "Ill be safer if I follow him."
Lizzie climbed out of the box and tested her injured leg. It responded with a spike of pain and gave out beneath her.
"Hell!" Lizzie gasped out between clenched teeth.
But a look at the garbage bags made Lizzie start to crawl. If there were rats in the mall she needed to be near the cat. The thought that the cat might find her a tasty meal did not occur to the shrunken girl.
The mall was a large empty cavern. Lizzie peered out from the door. She knew the mall from when she and her sister had been full sized. She was on the side of the mall with the fountain. A mermaid, Daryl Hannah from the movie Splash, poured water from a seashell into the fountain. The statue was on an island surrounded by a round bridge. Lizzie realized that it looked very much like the pool at Simones house.
Daryl Hannah had opened the mall and that was the reason for the statue. Lizzie had thought the movie stupid and said so many times. But the sight of the water made her realize that she was thirsty and filthy. The cat was no where in sight. Lizzie crawled across the floor and onto one of the bridges. Bellow her was a clear pool filled with coins. They sparkled at her through the water and Lizzie remembered the times that she and Jessie had been thrown out of the mall for grabbing for the coins.
Something brushed against her back and Lizzie jumped and reached for her knife. But it wasnt there and she realized that it had been lost in the fight with the rat. The black cat was no more than an inch from her.
Lizzies heart stopped. Close up she could see that the cat was a stray. There was a bad tear in one ear and when the cat opened her mouth there were a few teeth missing. The fur was black and gray and the eyes were dazzlingly green. Those eyes held Lizzie still while the cat sniffed at her. The cats nose was black too.
"Hello Kitty?" Lizzie asked and even if she could have heard her own voice Lizzie knew it would have sounded weak.
The cat moved around her, sniffing closely at Lizzies body. Her breath smelled slightly of fish.
"Im not a rat!" Lizzie insisted realizing that she was still covered with the rats blood.
For a few minutes Lizzie sat perfectly still as the black cat circled the shrunken woman sniffing constantly. Then the cat seemed to come to a decision. She reached down and her jaws closed on Lizzies stomach. Lizzie screamed but was too shocked to fight back. In another moment the cat had picked Lizzie up in her jaws and was carrying her across the mall.
Lizzie wanted to scream again but she was too scared. She could feel the cats teeth against her skin. A little more pressure and the teeth would be through the skin. Through an effort of will that shocked her Lizzie managed not to faint. She also didnt fight or struggle, realizing that such a battle would only end one way. Lizzie forced herself to be as limp as possible. From her perspective-upside-down, Lizzie saw the mall pass by. The stores and benches looked beyond fantastic to her. It was hard to believe that she had once walked casually through this same mall, shopped in those stores and sat on those benches. Now Lizzie doubted that she would ever do that again.
They turned a corner into and went toward a clothing store that had been closed. The cat walked up to the edge of one of the sheet rock panels and pried it open with her paw. She slipped inside and it fell back into place behind them.
Inside was a mess, a collection of empty racks and display shelves. A single lamp next to an empty cash register lit the place. The cat carried Lizzie over to a display shelf and crawled inside. The light was good enough for Lizzie to see two small kittens asleep on an old fur coat.
"What am I lunch?" Lizzie asked the cat.
At the sound of her voice the kittens woke up, and Lizzie was at least grateful that someone could hear her. The cat settled down behind the kittens, bracing herself against the coat. The kittens crawled over to the cat and snuggled up against her. After a few minutes they settled back to sleep. The cat let go of Lizzie and then started to lick her.
"Wha !" Lizzie started to get up but the cat pinned her down with a paw on Lizzies legs and continued to lick her.
Im not going to be lunch Im going to be adopted, Lizzie thought as the cat licked her face and chest. Thats crazy! Thats nuts! This aint Disney! Those kittens arent going to wake up singing! Hell even if they do I sure as hell wont hear them!
Despite Lizzies refusal to accept the situation there was nothing she could do about it. She tried to scramble away or push the cat away and both times met strength far greater than her own. In the end, even though her mind threatened to retreat into insanity, Lizzie decided to lay limp. The cat was methodical, washing her body clean from head to toe. What was left of her ninja suit was simply bitten off and discarded and Lizzie lay helplessly nude as the cat washed her. She managed to push the cat away when the cat would have licked her pussy, and the irony of that action nearly sent Lizzie into hysterical giggles. She was also able to protect her butte. But the rest of her body was cleaned. The ordeal drained what strength Lizzie had left and she started to fall asleep.
"Im telling you right now mother." Lizzie said using the last of her sanity. "Im not drinking your milk!"
Lizzie wasnt sure her voice worked or not. It didnt seem to matter to the cat who just kept on washing her.
Hawk Hill Mall had two wings that faced the park. On this wing Taylors Jewelers was the third store in from the mall entrance. Before it was an ice cream stand and a news stand, after that was a department store and a florist. Further down Jessie could see the statue of Daryl Hannah and on the opposite side of Taylors was a supermarket. The metal security grate that came down in front of Taylors Jewelers was a set of bars. Jessie was able to step right through them and walk up to the glass doors. Simone was cradled in Dead Hearts arms. She held one of the windshields from Thunderbird 2 with one hand and looked through it. Jessie had found the last of their ropes in Thunderbird 2 and Holy had pulled a hook out of her neck to tie to the end of it. Now the rope was coiled over Jessies shoulder and she hoped it would be long enough.
"You werent kidding about Star Wars." Simone said angling the glass so that she could see into the store.
"What does it look like milady?" Jessie asked. She wasnt really sure about this. So far the night had been a disaster. At least she had been able to get dressed after Thunder had used the campers stove to dry off her ninja stuff. Jessie wasnt sure why Simone had wanted her to give the big girls a show, but orders were orders. At least they hadnt tried anything. At least not yet.
"A little like Mollys spider-web of yarn." Simone called. "Only more complex."
Jessie groaned and stepped back from the double glass doors. Of all of Mollys games spiders-at-war was one of the worst and when Deborah and Delilah joined in it became lesbian spider wars. Just the thought of it was enough to give Jessie the shakes. Miles (so it seemed to the shrunken young women) and miles of multicolored yarn were arranged into a sort-of spider web in a very large box, if that was what Simone was seeing Jessie wasnt sure she could move through it.
"Dont worry dear." Simone said. "You can do this."
Jessie realized that there was nothing she could say to that. She and Lizzie had learned that the phrase You can do this nearly always translated into You better do this if you know whats good for you.
The sound of the metal grate rising startled Jessie and she whirled around. Thunder had turned the key to the grate motor and Jessie watched it rise to the ceiling like some monstrous curtain. She quickly stepped out of the way as Thunder stepped into the doorway and opened the glass doors. Beyond the glass doors was a standard jewelry store set up. Display shelves lined the walls and were spaced evenly through out the store. Against the far was the check out counter and behind that was the door to the office. Set up next to the door was a digital keypad. Lizzie and Jessie had never gone into the store. A large and mean security guard made sure of that. But he wasnt there and there was a small part of Jessie that really did want to rob the place for old time sakes. She just hoped that Simone would let her keep one of the gems. The thought of her sister ate at Jessie but she managed to push it away. Experience had taught her to keep her mind the mission.
"Right." Simone said. She studied the laser beams for a moment. "Jessie this is going to be complicated, so move and stop when I tell you."
"Yes Milady." Jessie called.
"Ill keep watch on the front." Thunder said.
"Ill check out the roof." Holy said. "Well keep in touch with the talkies."
"Jessie go forward until I tell you to stop." Simone called.
Jessie cautiously stepped into the store. She looked around nervously as she walked. More than ever she missed The Giants, with their careful planning and technical know-how. The only thing Jessie knew about lasers was what she had seen in the movies. She wasnt sure if these lasers could hurt her, but Jessie knew that at twelve inches tall there wasnt much that wouldnt hurt her.
"Stop." Simone called out. Jessie stopped. "In front of you there are two beams that run parallel to each other horizontally."
"Parallel milady?" Jessie called.
"They run along side each other." Simone called back. "With about three inches between them, but they are about a half inch from the floor. Step widely over the first one and then widely over the second one."
Jessie started to move and then stopped and looked back at Simone.
"How widely milady?"
"Ahm One moment." Simone turned to Dead Heart. "A bit higher please?"
Dead Heart lifted her up a bit higher and Simone looked again.
"You remember the steps in your house in Dollopolis?"
"About three steps."
"Got it." Jessie said.
Taking a deep breath she spread her legs wide and lifted one high over the invisible beam (she hoped the leg was over the beam) and pivoted on her foot and brought her leg down. Then she repeated the process and stood still.
"Good girl." Simone called out. "One more time, same way."
Jessie took another deep breath and wide-stepped again.
"Now take two steps and crawl on your stomach."
Jessie took two steps and then got down on her stomach. This close to the simulated marble floor she could see her reflection, dulled though it was by the wax.
"I really do look like a ninja." Jessie said to herself. She started to crawl forward and tried to remember the soundtrack to a kung-fu movie she and Lizzie had seen once.
"Keep your butte down Jessie!" Simone called.
Jessie flatted herself and inched along using her legs. The soundtrack vanished from her mind.
"This could take all night." Dead Heart complained.
"Not something to be rushed." Simone said. "Alright Jessie you can stand up now. I need to you walk diagonally at a thirty-five degree angle toward that display case with the glass figurines."
What the hell is a degree, Jessie wondered? To her a degree was how hot or cold it was. Looking around she spotted the display case and started toward it.
"STOP!" Simone shouted.
"I said thirty-five degrees." Simone said.
"Whats a degree milady?" Jessie asked.
"Well imagine yourself in the center of a circle." Simone said. "Like your in the center of a clock."
"A degree is a little mark on the edge of the circle. There are three hundred and sixty of them."
"O.K. milady." Jessie said.
"So all you have to do is turn just a little bit for each mark, that is a degree."
"How big are the marks milady?"
"Well each mark is a degree."
"But how big is a degree milady?"
"Hold it." Dead Heart said. Jessie could hear a bit of strained patience in her voice. "We dont have time for school."
"Well look at all these beams." Simone said. "Left and right wont do it."
"Jessie you ever see the face of a clock with hands instead of numbers?" Dead Heart called.
"O.K. Me and Duchess are six oclock, the back of the store is twelve oclock. Got it?"
Jessie looked back at them and then at the back of the store.
"Got it." She said nodding.
"Well my way is more exact but Ill admit your way is faster." Simone said. "Jessie turn to one oclock and walk toward it."
One half of an hour later Jessie stood in front of the door to the office. She was sweating heavily and her arms and legs were shaking. Under Simones direction she had been marched nearly all over the store. She had jumped over the laser beams, crawled under the beams and stepped awkwardly over the beams. The last time she had stepped so widely she had pulled a muscle in her thigh.
"Your all clear Jessie." Simone called. "Just climb up and tap in the code."
"Yes milady." Jessie called back. She un-slung the rope from her shoulder and braced herself. After whirling it a few times Jessie let it fly. The rope sailed upward and Jessie was shocked when the hook on the end caught on the first try.
"Yes!" Jessie shouted.
With her spirit buoyed by the good luck Jessie took hold of the rope and started to climb. A few minutes later she was at the keypad. Twisting the rope around one arm to keep a grip on it Jessie leaned over and punched in the numbers 1, 2, 1, 3, 1, 9, 5 and 4. There was a dull tone from the box and then nothing.
"Did it work milady?" Jessie asked turning around and craning her neck.
"No." Simone said.
"What?" Dead Heart demanded.
"Well look for yourself." Simone said handing her the glass.
"I did all that for nothing!" Jessie wailed. She kicked the keypad and almost lost her grip on the rope.
"Hold on a minute." Dead Heart said. She pulled a walkie-talkie out of her pocket.
"Thunder the damn code doesnt work."
"What do you mean it doesnt work?" Thunders voice came over the walkie-talkies speaker.
"What do you think I mean? She typed in the code and it didnt work!"
"Hold on a minute Ill be right down."
Ten minutes later Thunder walked up to the doorway, shrugging off her raincoat.
"Look for yourself." Dead Heart said handing her the tinted glass.
"Damn." Thunder swore. "That was the right code, it had to be."
"Well it didnt work." Dead Heart said.
"Yea I can see it didnt work."
"Well this is a bust." Dead Heart said.
"Now what?" Thunder asked.
"Same as always, we head out of town as fast as we can." Dead Heart said.
"What about Lizzie?" Simone asked.
"I searched that whole roof and looked down everywhere I could." Thunder said. "I didnt find her but I did find a trail of blood by the fountain."
"That may be her." Simone said.
"Well well get your friend out of there and then well take another look." Dead Heart said. "But before dawn were out of here."
"But " Jessie started to object but Simone cut her off.
"Alright." She turned to Jessie. "Climb down Jessie, well need to go through it all again."
Jessie growled in frustration but there was nothing else she could do. She climbed down the rope and sagged against the doorway. Simone took the glass from Dead Heart and braced it against her leg.
"What happened?" Simone asked. "The beams are gone."
"What?" Thunder asked.
"Theyre gone." Simone said.
Dead Heart took the glass from Simone and held it up to her eye.
"I did do it!" Jessie shouted.
"Mustve been screwed up because of the power." Thunder said.
"Holy." Dead Heart said into her walkie-talkie. "The place is open, bring in the bags."
"Right." Holys voice replied.
Dead Heart walked into the store and put Simone down next to Jessie.
"What about Lizzie milady?"
"Go see if you can find her." Simone said. "Thunder said the blood trail started at the fountain.
Jessie stood at the base of the statue and studied the floor closely. There were a few drops near the edge of the bridge. A few feet away there were a few more. That trail led deeper into the mall. But there was also a trail leading in the other direction, toward a back room. On that trail the blood was smeared.
"Gotta start somewhere." Jessie said choosing one at random. She started to follow the trail with the drops. Jessie was used to walking in big places now, but the mall still spooked her. She and Lizzie had spent a lot of time in the mall, scrounging food, money and sometimes clothing. It had been part of her world, so much a part that she had taken it for granted. But now Now it was a place filled with things she could never use again. Clothing, make-up, jewelry there was nothing in the mall that she could use unless she got it from the toy store.
"Stop it!" Jessie growled at herself as nostalgia began to take hold. "Just stop it!"
Jessie filled her mind with the many times she and Lizzie had been thrown out of the mall, or the time some of the high school boys had trapped them in the girls bathroom and stripped the shirts from their backs. The sisters had been forced to deal with mall security to get something to wear. Of course mall security blamed them. So did their father who beat them that night.
Thats what it used to be, Jessie thought. Were better off in Dollopolis.
The trail led her to a closed off store and a sheet rock panel. Jessie cautiously grabbed hold of the edge and found it opened. Inside was an empty store that had been cleaned out. There was only a little light from a lamp set next to an empty cash register. Slipping inside Jessie began to look around. The trail of blood vanished in the dim light. Jessie started to call out Lizzies name and then remembered her sister was deaf. With nothing else to do she started to search. The empty displays were like burned out buildings and the empty racks were naked metal trees. The place had been a clothing store and on the walls were faded posters of teen stars. The stars were as faded as the posters but their eyes seemed to follow Jessie as she walked. The place scared Jessie but she kept searching anyway.
At last she heard a sound from one of the display cases. She went toward it and by this time her eyes had adjusted to the dim light. In the dust she saw more drops of blood. She looked in and Jessies jaw dropped open. A cat was in the display case, curled up on an old coat. Curled up with the cat were two kittens and Lizzie. Jessie closed her eyes and shook her head and then looked again.
The cat opened her eyes and looked at Jessie. Calm green eyes contemplated her existence and Jessie felt a chill run through her.
"Shes my sister." Jessie managed to whisper. Jessie climbed into the display case. The cat watched her. "Really she is."
The cat yawned and Jessie stopped. The size of the cats teeth made her heart jump.
"Lizzie!" Jessie said aloud forgetting for the moment that her sister was deaf.
Lizzie opened her eyes and saw her sister.
"Jessie!" Getting up Lizzie rushed over and hugged her sister. "Man Im glad youre alive, when I saw her take you guys into the camper "
"You saw that?" Jessie asked.
"Yea I "
"You can hear me!" Jessie demanded.
"Yea I can!" Lizzie said. She reached up and felt her ears. "I can hear everything! I can hear again!"
Lizzie jumped up in the air but when she landed her leg went out from under her and she fell to the floor gasping in pain.
"What the hell happened to you?" Jessie asked bending down. The leg was swelled and was hot to touch. "If you knew we were in the camper "
"I couldnt " Lizzie interrupted he and then stopped. She looked away. "I couldnt do anything."
"No." Lizzie said. "Me." I started to go to the camper but I was scared. I couldnt everytime I thought about it It was so open. So big. I was too scared to come out from under the dumpster."
Lizzie couldnt look at her sister.
"What happened then?" Jessie asked.
"A rat tried to eat my leg." Lizzie said. "I got away, used my knife on his throat, got covered with blood. But they were switching the dumpster. While they were doing that the cat ran into that place where the dumpster hooks up to the wall. I ran in after her." Lizzie looked at her sister. "I just needed to be INSIDE somewhere! Anywhere!"
"Its ok." Jessie said hugging her. "Its fear of big places. Remember, one of dads girls had it."
"I never had it before." Lizzie said bitterly.
"Weve done a lot of things weve never done before." Jessie said. "I guess it catches up to you after a while."
Lizzie laughed but her laughter was tinged with self-loathing.
"Yea, catches up to me I guess."
"What happened once you got in here?"
"Well I crawled over to the fountain, I was gonna wash up cause I had rat blood all over me. But the cat just picked me up, carried me in here and washed me off."
"What? The cat carried you in here? The Cat washed you?" Jessie pointed to the cat that was nursing her kittens. "That Cat!"
"Yea, that cat."
"She washed you off? What with her tongue?"
"Yea she did. She carried me in here in her mouth, bit off my clothes and then licked me clean." Lizzie trailed off as she saw her sisters face. "Im not making it up!"
"Tell me you didnt drink the milk?" Jessie pleaded.
"Of course not!" Lizzie said. "I fell asleep. But I wasnt going to." She added quickly.
"So she cleaned you with her tongue?" Jessie asked skeptically.
"Yea." Lizzie said defiantly.
"And she carried you in here?"
"In her mouth." Lizzie said not quite as defiantly.
"She sing anything while she was doing it?"
"She did it!" Lizzie snapped. "How else would I get in here? Why would I come in here?"
"O.K., O.K." Jessie said. "I believe you. I guess."
"Its true." Lizzie said.
"I said I believe you."
"But you dont."
"Its true!" Lizzie shouted.
"O.K. its true!" Jessie shouted back. "Look can you walk?"
Lizzie tried to stand but her leg wouldnt hold her weight.
"Lean on me, well go tell Simone what happened and maybe the Dead Sirens will give us a lift back to the mansion."
"The girls in the camper." Jessie said helping her sister up. "Ill fill you in on the way."
"Wait a sec." Lizzie said. She turned back to the cat. "Thanks, really thanks. Ill ask Simone about coming back for you, youd love the mansion."
The cat regarded her with calm eyes and after a moment went back to tending her kittens.
"You really expected her to talk didnt you?" Jessie asked helping her sister toward the entrance to the display case.
"No I didnt." Lizzie said, but her voice was full of uncertainty. "Well maybe. Jess look at us? Look at what weve been through! You really think a talking cat is that far out?"
Jessie shrugged and didnt answer her sister.
"Youre being very selective." Simone noted as Thunder and Dead Heart went through the display cases.
"It might be a day or two before they miss it." Thunder said. "If were lucky."
"Besides if we leave something there might be something the next time we show up." Dead Heart said. She walked over to where Simone was curled up against the sweater and bent down. "How long are you going to look for the other girl?"
"As long as it takes." Simone said. "Theyre my girls."
Dead Heart nodded.
"Think youll be going back to Dollopolis after you find her?"
"That could depend on how quickly were missed." Simone said.
"Until then?" Dead Heart asked.
"Stay with you?" Simone said.
"Therere a lot of places like this you could help us with." Dead Heart said. "And until your found "
A gunshot interrupted her. Dead Heart whirled around just as the second gunshot sounded. Looking between Dead Hearts legs Simone saw a tall old man with a gun. Dead Heart grunted as the second shot rang out and the back of her leg exploded and showered Simone with blood. Another shot sounded and Dead Heart fell back. Simone had no time to scramble out of the way before the woman fell on top of her.
Jessie and Lizzie had made it to the fountain when they heard the shots. Both girls knew what gun shots sounded like.
"Wait here and hide." Jessie said letting her sister down.
Jessie raced to the store, even in her fear remembering to stay near the wall. She reached the edge of the glass doors and looked in. A tall old man was cleaning out the display cases. Thunder lay across from him. Both legs had been shot, as had her shoulder. Her eyes were glassy with shock. At the far end of the store by the door to the office Dead Heart lay slumped against the wall. Blood ran down her chest from a wound in her shoulder. Her eyes were closed. Jessie couldnt see Simone.
The man was humming to himself as he stuffed the jewelry into a shopping bag. He was a tall, bald man wearing an ill-fitting gray suit.
Jessie heard the mall doors open and looked up to see an old woman walk into the mall. She was as tall as the man and had iron gray hair. It matched her gray dress and hat. Jessie didnt move, counting on her size to hide her. It worked and the woman stood right next to her. The man stopped humming as he saw her.
"Stopping a robbery or committing one Ted?" She asked.
"Both." Ted said. His gun was on the counter and he reached for it.
"Dont." The woman said pointing her own gun at him.
"We can clean up on the insurance." Ted said. He was nervous now. "Dump the one outside somewhere she wont be found, the copsll think that these two did it and she double crossed them."
"You gave them the keys and the keypad combination." The woman said. "The cops will find that out."
"Pillow talk." He insisted. "Alice this is a good chance."
"Yes." Alice said. She pulled the trigger and a blood red whole appeared on his chest. He staggered and she shot three more times before he went down. Alice walked over and looked at him.
"A great chance to be rid of you." Alice looked at Dead Heart. Her eyes had opened. "He caught you in a robbery, you shot him, he shot you, your friends never found and I get to retire. 45 years compensation."
Jessie pulled out her knife. She could get one stab in, if she was lucky. She wasnt planning beyond that.
"Drop the gun Miss Taylor." Merry said.
Jessie looked up in complete astonishment. Merry and another police officer stood in the doorway next to her. Jessie had been so intent on Alice that she hadnt noticed the two of them. The officer beside Merry was a short stout man with wide rimmed glasses and a cross tattooed on his neck.
"They were trying to rob us." Alice said.
"Nice try." The officer beside Merry said. "But we heard you a few seconds ago. Drop the gun."
Alice put the gun on the counter and put her hands up.
"Central we have three more wounded and one dead in here." Merry said into her radio as the other officer put handcuffs on Alice. "Take her out Jake, Ill keep an eye on them in here."
"Holy?" Thunder said as Merry leaned over her.
"Ted was a lousy shot." Merry said. "She should make it." She got up and went over to Dead Heart. "You should make it too."
"Damn bastard." Dead Heart cursed.
"Easy." Merry said. She took hold of Dead Heart and pulled her up a bit. "Simone?"
"You know " Dead Heart didnt have the strength to complete the sentence and passed out.
"Jessie." Merry ordered. "Get over here."
Jessie found that she had been standing and watching the whole thing happen. Forcing herself to move she ran over to Merry. Simone was lying unconscious on the floor.
"Pull her out of there." Merry ordered.
Jessie grabbed Simones shoulders and pulled her out from under Dead Heart. Once she had done that Merry eased the wounded woman onto the floor.
"We dont have much time." Merry said. "Get Simone and Lizzie and take them back to the cat, you can hide there and Ill pick you up later."
"You know about the cat?"
"They know, they told me." Merry said. "Get going."
Simone woke up and found herself in a small room filled with giant cats.
"How do you feel milady?" Jessie asked.
"Like a giant woman fell on me." Simone said gasping a bit. She was sure that one of her ribs was at least broken and her legs ached. Simone looked around. "Where are we?"
"In Lord and Ladies." Jessie said. "After they closed it the cat moved in."
"Lizzie?" Simone asked spotting her. Lizzie was lying against the cat with her eyes closed sleeping peacefully.
"I think shes been adopted." Jessie said. "She told me that she had a fight with a rat and the cat brought her in here, washed her up and took care of her."
"Not as implausible as it seems." Simone said. "There have been cases in the wild where lost children have been taken care off by animals. How is she?"
"Well she can hear again." Jessie said. "But her legs a mess."
"I know how she feels." Simone said. "You know I think the first law of Dollopolis shall be that Merry goes on these missions."
"We sorta messed it up." Jessie said.
"We nearly got ourselves killed." Simone said. For a moment she let her self fall into depression. Then she saw the look on Jessies face. "On the other hand," Simone said forcing herself to sound cheerful "we did switch the sample for Merry. And weve made some new friends." She patted Jessies hand. "We did well dear."
"Do you think the Dead Sirens will be ok milady?"
"I think so, they looked like survivors to me."
"Hello." Deborahs voice sounded in the room. A light was shined into the entrance of the display case and the cat instantly hissed and seemed to grow to twice her normal size.
"Hi Deb." Simone called.
"Well I see someones found a friend." Deborah said. She moved the light and then placed a dish of tuna fish in front of the cat. The cat sniffed the dish and then seemed to nod. Her fur flattened and she started to eat. Jessie raised her hand and Deborah nodded.
"Can we take her with us mistress?"
"Yes we thought you might want that." Deborah said. She reached in and picked up Jessie.
"Not that we think a full size cat will be safe in Dollopolis." Delilahs voice came from somewhere behind her sister.
Deborah picked up Simone and pulled her out of the display case. Then she put her on a towel in a large basket. A sleeping Lizzie, two kittens and finally the cat joined them.
"Youll be happy to know that the Dead Sirens are all going to live." Deborah said.
"We may find uses for them in the future." Delilah said.
"The coast is clear." Merry called from the open door.
As they walked out into the mall Simone noticed that Merry wasnt looking too good. Her skin was pale and she was sweating.
"Merry whats wrong?"
"We dont know." Deborah said.
"But we have our suspicions." Delilah said.
"They had to pull me out of regen early." Merry said.
"It wasnt doing you any good." Delilah said. "Your constant nightmares were screwing up the process."
"Now if we could " Deborah started to speak but at that moment Merry stopped walking. Hugging her stomach in pain she called out and fell to the floor. Before any of them could react vines erupted from the florist shop and grabbed her. The rest of them were too stunned to react and before they knew it a struggling Merry had been dragged into the store. A giant flower appeared, swallowed Merry and then vanished.
For a moment Deborah and Delilah stood in shock. Then they rushed over to the florist shop.
"Well." Delilah said getting her voice back. For the first time in her life Simone realized that Delilah was actually surprised.
"Its confirmation." Deborah said.
"Of what?" Jessie shouted. "Where did she go?"
"Well if we are right." Deborah said. "The Green Dream has just drafted our Officer Dolly into Force Group J."
"We better get back to the mansion." Delilah said.
"They could have at least asked." Deborah said as they started to run toward the mall exit.
"Superheroes are never polite." Delilah said.
To be continued.
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