Four adult friends are granted magic water that they are told can make them children again. Naturally, the logical thing to do is to have a water gun fight on an abandoned playground.
The Playground Water Gun Showdown
“You’re certain this place is abandoned?” Zeelo asked as he and his other three friends arrived at a park that was on the edge of the woods. He seemed a bit nervous and kept adjusting his glasses when his light brown hair fell over his eyes while he dug around in the dirt with his shoe. He looked down at his own clothes, a blue sweater and khaki cargo pants thinking about what they were about to do… Or if it would even really happen.
“Yup! Absolutely certain!” Leo responded with a grin. Unlike Zeelo, and the others in general. He was dressed much more lightly, wearing a pair of shorts, a t-shirt and a pair of sandals. He hadn’t even bothered to tie back his shaggy brown hair today and it just hung around his shoulders in a mess. “It’s out here on the edge of the woods, so people thought it wasn’t safe for some reason.”
“I can’t help but notice it looks to be in brand new condition.” Jimmy was the third, he was darker skinned than the others, with black puffy hair and dressed in a pair of jeans, sneakers and a shirt with a video game design. He was studying the park carefully. Most of the ground was purple astroturf, with a single yellow trail running through it. The playground itself was very colorful, with a ladder to climb up and a bridge leading to a multi-colored slide. There was another tower attached to it with two levels, stairs going up to the first level, then a second set of stairs going up to the bridge while the topo had to be accessed by a ladder inside the tower. It looked like a normal playground, and that was kind of the problem. The place was supposed to have been abandoned for years, and yet everything was clean and well-kept. It looked quite inviting.
‘’Well, I don’t really care myself.” The final member of the group was Deven. Like Zeelo and Leo he had brown hair, though his was a bit darker. He was dressed very similar to Jimmy, in jeans and a shirt with sneakers. “If these things really work the way you say they were, I’d be happy to play this game anywhere.”
“I think being out away from everyone is better…” Zeelo muttered nervously.
“Relax! I have it on good authority no one is gonna find us here.” Leo grinned. “They say the forest is haunted. Who knows, maybe it is, maybe ghosts are what keep the playground in such good shape.” He paused for a moment. “But there was someone in the forest who gave me these things.” Outside his clothing the only other thing he had on him was a backpack. As he unzipped it he pulled out four glass bottles of water.
“Who gave them to you?” Jimmy narrowed his eyes.
“Don’t know never saw them.” Leo shrugged. “But they had a high-pitched voice… And when I came closer to them I just found these four bottles laying in the grass.” Leo then produced four more items out of the backpack, a series of large water guns. “And I knew the perfect use for them.”
“You realize how unbelievable this sounds right?” Zeelo asked. “A random person in the woods just leaves you four magic bottles of water, water you say can make people younger, and we’re supposed to believe it?”
“I mean, you came out here with the rest of us.” Deven stuck his tongue out. “If nothing else, it’s worth checking out, just in case it’s real.”
“Oh it’s real.” Leo grinned. “Decided to test a few drops of it on myself just to see what would happen.” He smiled smugly. “And proud to say, I’m gone down at least three or four years of age and am back in my twenties.”
“You don’t look any different.” Jimmy tilted his head.
“Trust me I am.” Leo growled. “My waist size can confirm it.” As he spoke he sat down on the ground and slowly opened each of the bottles of water and loaded them into the water guns. “Besides, if I’m wrong it’ll become obvious fairly quick, and the worst that’ll happen is you have to walk home in wet clothes.”
“That is a point.” Jimmy conceded. “As fantastical as the situation sounds, we lose nothing by giving it a shot.”
“I guess…” Zeelo was still a little nervous. “But… If it is real, and it does work! Then we’re gonna turn ourselves all back into little kids! What are we supposed to do then?”
“Anyone have parents that live in town?” Leo asked.
“Me.” Deven raised a hand.
“Then we all go to meet Deven’s folks and have a sleepover for the next twenty or so years.” He grinned. “Might have to go through school again, but I bet we can make honor roll easily.” Leo seemed to be taking this way too casually.
“Come on! Come! Come on!” Deven grabbed one of the now filled water guns. “Stop wasting time and let’s get going already. I want to see if this works.”
“So impatient.” Jimmy chuckled. But if this was real, he was looking forward to it too. He slowly grabbed his own gun.
“Right.” Zeelo picked up his water gun. He very much wanted to be included in this. The possibility was a dream come true. There was just a certain nervousness that came with actually living it out, thinking about what it would actually feel like.
“Alright.” Leo picked up the last gun. “Let’s set some ground rules. One, the playground is the limit. If you go anywhere off the astroturf you’ve gone out of bounds, and we get to give you a penalty.”
“What kind?” Jimmy asked.
“Hmmmm good question.” Leo rubbed his chin. “Sitting out of the game for a few minutes seems no good. Got it! We each get one free shot at them if they break the rules! They have to stand in place while we take the shots. We each only get one though, hit or miss.” There was a murmur of agreements that this was acceptable. “Two, if anyone wants out of the game at anytime, they can surrender by dropping their gun. Just, if anyone feels they’re getting younger than they’re comfortable with, or just realizes they’re not having fun, that’s the signal to let us know you quit, and no one will fire at you.”
“What about dropping the gun on accident?” Zeelo asked.
“Then when you pick it up we’ll know you’re still playing.” Leo nodded. “It’s understandable you might have to set it down or lose it for a moment while running around.”
“And if someone drops the gun on purpose to fake a surrender before grabbing it?” Deven grinned mischievously.
“Then we declare him a cheater, and he gets the same penalty as for going out of bounds.” Leo explained. “Final rule… We each get to pick a spot on the playground to start at away from each other. I’ll count down loudly from ten, when I get to zero, the game starts.”
“Okay okay we get it!” Deven was still in rush. “Let’s get started!” He climbed up to the second story tower on the playground, it was a little difficult given his current adult size. But he felt like he had a good sniper position.
“Someone’s excited.” Leo laughed as he kicked off his sandals. Rather than start on the jungle gym, he decided to go stand directly behind a nearby tree.
“Uhhhhh any reason you’re ditching those?” Zeelo asked.
“Cause I’m about to get a lot smaller and I don’t want to trip in them. Duh.” Leo replied. “I mean, most of our clothes won’t fit at all very soon.”
“WHAT!?” Zeelo had logically known this fact but somehow failed to consider it. “Again, you’re absolutely certain this place is abandoned and no one is going to see us?”
“Apparently no one but magic water giving ghosts.” Jimmy smirked as he took up a position behind the slide. After a few seconds of considering Leo’s words, he decided to quickly remove his own shoes and socks tossing them to the side before the game began.
“Oh that is a good idea.” Deven did the same, though sitting down as an adult inside the tower to get them off was a bit of a chore.
“Okay…” Zeelo removed his own footwear and took up a spot underneath the tower Deven was in. He figured directly beneath, there was no way Deven could get him leaving with just two to worry about at the start.
“Alright looks like we’re ready.” Leo shouted. “TEN! NINE! EIGHT! SEVEN! SIX! FIVE! FOUR!”
“Hey it just occurs to me.” Deven was still sitting awkwardly in the tower. “Should we take the rest of our clothes off too to avoid getting tangled up in then or?” He started to try to remove his shirt.
“THREE! TWO! ONE!” Leo didn’t break the countdown even for a moment. “ZERO! GO!”
“Wait I wasn’t ready!” Deven complained, as he had his shirt about halfway over his head. Jimmy quickly ran from behind the slide taking the shot, the streak of water arching up over the tower and soaked Deven. His shirt fell down back over his body as he started to dwindle, slowly going back into his teenage years, his clothes becoming looser. “Hey no fair!” He tried to return fire, but couldn’t find a way to aim at Jimmy from where he was. Even as a teen the tower was too cramped to move. However… There was one person he could aim at… Leo!
Leo had come around from the tree, his gun pumped as he ran as fast as he could around the jungle gym trying to get behind Zeelo as he opened fire. With Jimmy preoccupied on Deven, and Deven of course unable to get him Zeelo knew Leo was his main worry so had been ready. He started spraying his own gun as Leo did his best to stay ahead of the blasts of water as he released his own jet of the magic water soaking Zeelo. Zeelo shrank quickly as he took a heavy hit, his pants and underwear falling around his legs. However, Leo took a direct shot from Deven up in the tower, which was enough to trip him up as his own shorts fell down around his legs. Zeelo wasted no time returning fire on Leo before he could get back on his feet.
“GAH!” Leo let out a cry as he shrunk, his feature becoming softer and fairer. He had tripped over his own shorts when they fell down landing face first on the astroturf, and then a second shot had come from Zeelo reducing him even younger. His brown hair began to lighten as his age decreased, going back to the bright blonde he used to be as a kid. Leo did his best to scramble to his feet and get going again while Deven and Zeelo were busy pumping their guns for another shot. He was somewhere around eight years old now, easily the youngest in the group. “You know I think Deven had a good idea right before we started.” Leo tossed his water gun up onto the first level of the tower where there was a plastic bubble shaped window acting as a shield Rather than take the stairs, he jumped up climbing the thing by the metal bars instead. He always did get in trouble for climbing on things as a kid. Now that he had a moment of cover, he quickly pulled his shirt off from over his own head and tossed it over the side of the jungle gym. He then picked his water gun back up from where it had landed and began to pump it. He was small enough move around the jungle gym freely now, and now naked without any clothes to hinder him there was no risk of tripping. But? Who to target?
Jimmy had seen Leo move to his hiding place, but thanks to the barrier had no way of firing upon him, leaving his only choices as Deven and Zeelo. Likewise, with Deven, Leo and Zeelo being on separate levels of the tower, they had no way to fire upon each other from their current positions leaving Jimmy their only target.
Leo held back for now, dropping down to the ground so he could crawl out of the tower without being seen. Deven managed to rearrange himself from his sniper perch to fire at Jimmy, as Zeelo came out from beneath the tower running around the slide.
Jimmy had expected both shots to come from the tower, and so had used the slide as cover. Of the three in the tower, Deven was a sitting duck being too big to move, so he fired at him. When he saw Deven returning fire he ducked behind the slide, dodging the attack, or so he thought. But the thing about water… It was a liquid. And liquids drip. The top of the slide had been hit and water dripped directly down onto Jimmy’s head as the last adult began to enter his teenage years.
This was quite the surprise to Jimmy to say the least and stunned him for a moment, which let Zeelo get the jump on him firing a full blast at near point-blank range dropping Jimmy all the way down to age six. Baby fat began to return on him as he practically disappeared into his clothes. Acting fast, Jimmy used this to his advantage. Abandoning his jeans, he held on to his shirt with one hand, holding it over his body like a tarp to act as a shield as he ran for new cover.
Meanwhile, up in the sniper nest, Deven again had no room to dodge. And had dropped all the way down to ten years of age, his own clothes starting to become a hindrance. However, at least he had a bit more room to move around.
“Knew we should have stripped in advance.” He quickly sat down to pull his pants off and toss his shirt aside. Then he considered his options. This sniper plan really wasn’t working out. Even able to move up here the place was still small, was going to be impossible to avoid getting hit by some mist. Time to change locations. He jumped on the ladder climbing down, only to find himself suddenly being shot again. “Whaaaat?”
“Heh sorry! You were open!” Leo was laying on his stomach just outside the tower next to the bridge. He was almost invisible to anyone below the jungle gym, and there had been no way for Deven to see him coming down the ladder. As a result, Deven now found himself the youngest player in the game, going down all the way to age five years old.
“You!” Deven didn’t have his gun fully pumped but fired what he could. Leo scrambled to get up and run across the bridge towards the slide, not before getting hit by a few drops, making running awkward as the gun became heavier in his hands when he shrunk down to the age of four. Deven gave chase after Leo, pumping his gun as he did, and dove down the slide hoping to finish the other kid off.
Down on the ground, Jimmy had ditched his shirt, realizing that it being soaked was making him grow slightly younger. He quickly climbed the ladder of the jungle gym getting up high looking around at who to take a shot. He saw Zeelo at first, aimed at him, then saw Leo appear from down the slide. Zeelo noticed this as well, and turned his gun on Leo, which left his back turned to Jimmy.
“Sometimes it’s just too easy.” Jimmy opened fire on Zeelo as Zeelo fired on Leo.
“H-hey!” Leo let out a scream as he saw Zeelo. He let himself land on his back on the ground coming down the slide and rolled away from the water, not enough to avoid it completely, bringing him down to age three, he really was getting young. He might be out of the game soon by virtue of not being able to hold a water gun. He scrambled to get out of the way of further fire and likely would have been reduced to infancy right there were it not for two things that distracted anyone from pursuing him.
It was at this point Deven came out of the slide with a gun fully pumped, and Jimmy had his own gun aimed on Zeelo. Deven had been expecting to fire on Leo, but he wasn’t picky. Both Deven and Jimmy opened fire while Zeelo’s gun still needed to be repumped. He disappeared beneath his own shirt as his glasses fell to the ground as well. A moment later, a naked four year old version of him climbed out from beneath the shirt and quickly grasped around trying to find where he had dropped his gun when he was hit.
At this point, several things happened at once. Deven, realizing Jimmy was up near the bridge ran for the stairs ladder, hoping to get a good spot to snipe at either Jimmy or Zeelo. Leo ran behind the slide and then very slowly crept behind the jungle gym trying to escape notice. Zeelo, having recovered, and seeing Deven climbing up the stairs saw the perfect opportunity for revenge. Jimmy meanwhile, aware Deven was coming for him ran for the slide and dove down it.
Just like before, Leo climbed the jungle gym from the outside, this time tossing his gun up onto the bridge, and pulling himself up there. Deven seeing Zeelo coming for him opened fire on him. Zeelo opened fire on Deven. Meanwhile, as Jimmy came down the slide, his gun fully pumped, he saw Zeelo standing in the center of the playground and Deven on the stairs. He fired his gun in an arc over Zeelo, aiming for Deven hoping some of the water would rain down and hit Zeelo as well. However, Leo now up on the bridge with the high ground, able to see all of this had his gun pointed at the slide and unloaded a full blast on Jimmy right as he came down the slide.
Mist from all the shots flew all over the park, so even up on the bridge Leo wasn’t completely safe, though he was the least effected, regressing to just a couple months short of three. Deven was the one who got it the worst, being hit by two different people, he dropped his gun, less by choice and more by his failing strength as he fell down landing on the astroturf, his limbs becoming stubbier and weaker. He had been brought down all the way to a mere six months old.
Jimmy didn’t have it much better. He could barely hang onto his gun, and barely stand as he felt he might fall over at any second. He was only a little older than Deven being exactly one year old. After a few moments he fell to his knees but managed to hang on to his gun.
Zeelo didn’t get as big a hit, but between the blast from Deven and the spray from Jimmy it had taken a toll. He was about two years old on the dot now, able to stand and hold his gun, though it was heavy by focusing very hard.
“I think Deven’s out guys.” Leo observed Deven trying to pick up his gun and failing. It was too heavy for him.
“Bwuh.” Deven complained, unable to speak.
“Yeah well you’re open!” Jimmy replied. Sitting on the ground he pointed his gun up at Leo, pumped it, and discovered there was no water left in it. “Dang it.”
“I’m empty too…” Zeelo pulled the trigger on his.
“Looks like it’s just me left to make younger whoever I want.” Leo grinned as he kept pointing his gun between the three of them. He finally stopped on Zeelo and pulled the trigger. No water came out. “Awwww man. I’m out too? How’d that happen I would have sworn I had more.” It was strange, it really felt like the tanks had been almost full a moment ago. Now it was as if all the water was magically gone.
“It’s magic water?” Jimmy shrugged. “Maybe it runs out when the game is up.”
“Maybe.” Leo huffed as he climbed down from the jungle gym.
“So… I guess we should get going to find Deven’s parents.” Zeelo looked around at all of themselves. “Uhhhh, are we going to walk through town naked?”
“Apparently.” Leo grinned enjoying the idea. “Eh we’re so young I doubt anyone makes a big fuss.”
“Uhhh problem.” Jimmy got up and toddled over to Deven. “Anyone know where his family actually lives.”
“Abuuu! Bwuuuh!” Deven tried to explain.
“That’s a problem.” Zeelo realized.
“We could go back to my place.” Leo suggested. “Granted we’d have to fend for ourselves.”
“I could try calling my parents if I can find my cell phone. It’ll take some explaining but at least it’s a place for us to go. Might take them a few days to get here though.” Jimmy started looking around for where he had left his clothes. As he did, Leo suddenly got strangely antsy and walked towards the forest.
“Uhhh Leo, something up?” Zeelo asked.
“Maybe…” Leo muttered. “I swear… I heard someone call my name… The same voice that I heard before finding those water bottles. They had an inviting and playful tone…” He was staring into the woods.
“Do not tell me you’re thinking about hiking into the woods in your current state.” Jimmy put his hands on his hips.
“Someone in these woods made this game happen, they had to do it for a reason.” Leo smiled. “I think a little forest adventure is the best option we have now.”
“On what grounds?” Zeelo asked.
“Well for starters, in the unlikely event any of us want to change back, finding the person who gave me the water might be able to help.” There was a moment of silence. While they were all aware of the logistical problems of being stuck at their younger ages, none of them actually wanted to go back to being an adult but that didn’t erase certain issues that would arise. “And two, we’ve now confirmed magic exists, and I want to know more about that. I think we should check out what the ‘ghost’ of this forest is. What do you think Deven?”
“Abwwwuh!” Deven nodded eagerly as Leo walked over and picked him up.
“I suppose it’d be awhile before I could get my parents to believe the situation or get here anyway…” Jimmy conceded. “Maybe we can just explore a little bit of the ways in.”
“We’re seriously doing this?” Zeelo felt a mix of anticipation and nervousness. He wanted to know more about the magic that had made him younger. Could it do other things? There was only one way to find out. He started following the others.
“Looks like we’re in agreement.” Leo grinned cheekily. “Let’s go meet us a ghost.”
As the children marched into the forest there was an entity that watched them. A small glowing figure, no bigger than a mouse with wings like a butterfly. There was another one floating in the air next to it. The two let out a few giggles. Neither was malicious merely fond of games… And it seemed they had found some new playmates who were more than happy to go along with their games.
And so the providers of the magic water silently flew into the forest after the children. And though the kids didn’t know it yet… The problem of who was going to look after them and take care of them had already been solved. They belonged to the forest now. And the ‘ghosts’ that protected this forest would let no harm be done or no need go unfulfilled for their new wards. After all, how were they to play new games if they let the children come to harm. Therefore, every plant and animal within the woods would now act to protect and nourish them.
It would take them a few days, and perhaps a few more games to before the kids figured this out. But eventually the truth would hit all four of them. They had been adopted by the fey. But it was unclear if they were intended to be adopted as children or as pets.