Alex and Calex play a board game where they shrink down to be the game pieces and transform as the game goes on. But as some spaces shrink them even further the game becomes a giant undertaking.
One Little Game
Alex was the latest in a long list of ‘victims’ that had answered the ad to babysit a werekitten. He was a calagon, a reptilian like creature covered in green scales, but brown and green furred ears and a similarly colored fluffy tail. He had on simple short and jeans, as well as a blue jacket over it that he had not removed despite being inside. He was by himself with the kitten in the home. The kitten’s dad? Guardian? Owner? It was unclear what the actual relationship was. But either way he had left awhile ago leaving Alex by himself to take care of Calex. And so far he didn’t see what the fuss was about. There had been no overwhelming force of chaos at all.
Calex did seem to be completely overcome with ennui. The small orange kitten, who unlike Alex wore nothing at all, was pacing back and forth in the living room on all fours. The reason for this was obvious. There was a bad thunderstorm out. It meant they were stuck indoors, couldn’t even go into the backyard to play and apparently Calex had really wanted to show Alex his treehouse for some reason.
“There’s still plenty of things we can do inside.” Alex tried to rouse the kitten from his frustrations. “Have a favorite video game or movie?”
“Well…” Calex thought for a moment. “I can think of-“ At that moment there was a loud crash of thunder and the lights went out. They were now without power. “And there goes that idea.” Calex glanced around the room annoyed.
“Uh, is there a flashlight or lantern or something?” Alex did not have the same night vision as the feline. It was suddenly a lot harder to see. “It’s dark, we may be eaten by a grue.”
“I’d like to see one try.” The kitten replied smugly. But he disappeared down a hallway and eventually came back with a battery powered lantern that he set on the kitchen table. It provided a small amount of light so at least Alex could see again.
“Okay, so those are out, but I’m sure you can think of plenty of other things to do during a storm with no power.” Alex chuckled a little bit. “I was told you’re creative.”
“Well…” The kitten looked thoughtful. “Yes.” There was suddenly a flash of lightning and a bang of thunder. “I know exactly what we can do.” With that he disappeared from the room again.
“Well, this should be a shocking reveal.” Alex paused. He realized Calex was too far away to hear him. Bad puns just weren’t as much fun without other people to have to listen.
The kitten returned a few minutes later, climbed up on a kitchen chair and tossed an ancient looking box onto the table. There was some kind of strange locking mechanism on the top of it. It was covered in several knobs with strange symbols on it that could be lined up in different orders forming different shapes.
“We can play a board game!” There was another flash of lightning and crack of thunder.
“Um… What game is this? And how do you even open it?” Alex asked.
“No idea!” Calex replied with a chirp. “I just found it buried in the backyard one day when I was digging for ancient pirate treasure. I had planned to play it then… But then an ice cream truck came by and that lead to a whole day of activities and the thing has just been sitting in the bottom of my closet for six months.” Calex grinned. “As to how to open it. This is clearly an antique game of some sorts and requires a delicate hand and sharp wits to open it up. Luckily, I think I know the secret. ROAWR!” Calex slammed a paw down vertically giving the top of the box a karate chop. The top popped off in an instant. “Another puzzle solved by the junior partner of the Ashcroft Investigations Agency.”
“Pretty sure you just broke it.” Alex rolled his eyes but then peered inside the box. Much to his surprise it looked like just a normal board game. He pulled out a colorful board, a pair of dice and cards and sat them on the table. But he couldn’t find any game pieces or a rule book. Instead, there were just some instructions written on the corner of the board. “Roll one die each to begin and the order of your journey is decided. But be warned those who seek adventure; there is no escaping your fate till a player reaches journey’s end.” Alex looked at the board. None of the squares were labeled, simply different colors. He grabbed a card from the deck and found it was blank. Didn’t seem like much of a game.
“Come on let’s get started already!” Calex on the other hand did not seem to notice how lacking the game was and had already grabbed one of the die. “Said to roll off to see who goes first, right?”
“Uh sure… Maybe we can find some pennies or something to act as tokens.” Alex grabbed the other die. Maybe the blank card was just an extra one. But the kitten seemed intent on playing so he’d play along. Both werekitten and calagon rolled one die. They didn’t get to see the result.
Suddenly, the floor came rushing up to meet them as the kitchen seemed to stretch away from them. They shrunk, extremely quickly. Even Calex was mildly disoriented by just how fast it had been. But he didn’t have it as bad as Alex. After all, as soon as it was over he was standing down on the kitchen tile looking up at the massive table able to see the giant setting. Alex on the other hand was now buried beneath his own clothing.
The calagon could be heard grumbling as he squirmed around beneath his clothes trying to get out from beneath them. After a few minutes he finally emerged, now naked and only two inches tall. (Which meant Calex was just under one inch.)
“Ugggh, my jacket won’t fit me like this.” Alex complained, seeming far more concerned about that one piece of clothing than the fact he had shrunken.
“You only care about the jacket?” Calex tilted his head. “Then why wear anything else?” He was met with a shrug.
“Really like that jacket though.” Alex turned around to examine the giant thing. It was somewhat difficult. The lantern was up on the table with the game and only a little bit of light reached down here. “So this is a small predicament.”
“Nah it’s fine, just part of the game.” Calex grinned. “We just probably should have sat on the table before rolling the dice. But… This is wood, plenty of handholds, we can climb it in no time.”
“Still set on the game?” Alex gave a small chuckle. If the game was magical then it wasn’t as boring as it seemed. Plus, from the sound of the rules it seemed like they would change back once the game was over. He followed the kitten in climbing the table. It was surprisingly easy. He weighed so little that it wasn’t a ton of work and the wood provided plenty of handholds. Soon they were up on top of the table again.
“Ohhh I get it!” Calex ran over to the starting space on the board. “We’re the game pieces!” He then looked at the dice that were now bigger than him. He quickly scrambled on top of one to get a look. “Ha! I got a five to your two! I go first.”
“Alright, but how are you going to roll dice that big?” No sooner had Alex asked that a new pair of dice appeared out of the air and landed on the starting position next to Calex. They were normal sized in comparison to them, allowing Calex to easily pick them up.
“Okay, let’s get going!” Calex grinned and rolled the dice. It came up as two ones. “What? Oh come on, way to ruin my lead of going first.” Calex groaned as he moved two steps forward stopping on a purple square. As he did the deck of cards came to life. They had not changed size so were gigantic. They floated around until one with a purple back floated directly above Calex before flipping around. The card was blank at first, but text slowly appeared. Calex read it aloud. “Your slow start requires haste. Spring like a cheetah three more spaces. “Oh cool!” Calex ran forward three spaces. As he did his fur changed to have spots, as his frame grew thinner and his ears rounder.
“Lucky draw.” Alex responded. “But don’t try any funny business. Cheetahs never prosper.” He picked up the dice left behind by Calex and rolled it. A seven. It moved him forward to a green space, and just like with Calex the cards floated in the air until a green one came out and showed new text. “Lucky seven is your number, and two lucky feet will aid you further.” Alex’s scales were replaced completely with green fur as his tail shrunk to a small tuft. His ears stretched out long and thin as he became a rabbit. He slowly lifted up one of his legs looking at it and examining himself. “Huh, no pawpads.”
“Yeah rabbits don’t have em.” Calex responded. “You’re taking this way better than my normal sitters.”
“I’m still annoyed about the jacket, but the game seems harmless enough.” Alex shrugged. “We just have to reach the end, and it might be fun to see what happens along the way.”
“Hee, well I’m gonna beat ya to the end!” Calex ran back to the start to fetch the dice then returned to his square before rolling them again. Nine! He skipped along the square sticking his tongue out as he passed Alex and landed on a gray square. There was no card this time. Instead, the cheetah suddenly started shrinking again. It was just as fast as before but not as dramatic. He had dropped to half his size. “Huh, think all gray squares shrink you?”
“Maybe…” Alex looked across the board. Beneath the light of the lantern he could make out several gray squares between here and the end. “Talk about a giant undertaking.” He fetched the dice from the smaller Calex and rolled, moving forward a full 12 spaces and landing on a purple square. The card appeared, and revealed his fate. “Red pandas can be skittish, move back two squares from what made you jump.” Alex changed as he read the card, his tail becoming fluffier and striped again. He slowly changed into a red panda, well, perhaps a green panda. He moved back two squares as the card instructed putting him on a gray spot. Suddenly, he shrunk to half his size just as Calex had. “Wait… Earlier when you moved forward you didn’t have anything happen!” Alex complained.
“I moved forward to a green square though.” Calex mused. “Maybe gray squares always activate however you get on them?”
“This board is a mine field.” Alex shook his head. “And I’m too small to use a broom.”
“What would you use a broom for?” Calex gave Alex a quizzical look.
“To sweep the mines of course.” Alex grinned. He could see the cheetah’s expression change as he slowly got the joke.
“Just give me the dice.” Calex said with a scowl. They felt noticeably heavier being twice as big, but they were still easy enough to roll. And so the game continued.
The two made their way across the board, passing each other multiple times, sometimes in opposite directions. As they progressed they continued to change species, as well as shrink anytime they hit a gray square. Alex had been a cat, a fox, a chameleon and was now a squirrel. Calex had gone from cheetah to raccoon, to meerkat, to a chinchilla and now a wolf. Both of them were now smaller than the tiny dice they were rolling. Alex was a head shorter than the dice. He had to lift them up one by one over his head and toss them to roll them.
“I thought these would be heavier.” Alex spoke as he moved forward, turning into a dragon when he reached his square.”
“Square cubed law.” Calex explained. “It’s why ants can carry so much. Quickest way to explain it, as you go down in size things get smaller faster than they get weaker.” He hefted each die up and gave them a roll, landing on another gray space and shrinking even smaller.
“At the rate you’re going don’t think you’ll be able to keep using these dice.” Alex teased. However, they were only halfway across the board and the gray spaces grew more numerous the further they got. Picking each die up above his head and tossing it he managed to luck out and land on a purple space again, this time being transformed into a lion and losing a turn to ‘take a nap.’ He got how this worked now.
Green spaces simply transformed you.
Purple spaces transformed you and would make you move forward or back a number of squares or have some other effect.
Gray squares shrunk you, even if you landed on them from a purple square’s card.
Red squares didn’t seem to do anything. He had landed on a few and his turn passed without anything happening.
Early on red squares had been numerous and gray ones rare. Calex and Alex had simply been unlucky to hit them. But the second half of the board the red spaces were sparce. The odds of ending a round without being transformed, shrunk or both were getting incredibly low. But, they wouldn’t change back till they reached the end. So, they continued to go.
They managed to continue playing for roughly another thirty minutes. This was largely because the dice were getting more and more cumbersome and requiring quite a bit of work, and often teamwork to roll them. Calex was a kobold now, but had exceptionally bad luck with the gray squares. He was so small that Alex could easily pick him up and hold him in one hand. Each individual dot on the dice marking the numbers were enough for Calex to pace in. Alex was pretty much rolling for Calex now, which wasn’t easy since he was only about a quarter the size of the dice.
“Shame I’m not still a dragon. I could use a small servant.” Alex grinned cheekily at the very tiny kobold and managed to roll the dice again. Currently he was a coatimundi, but it looked like that was about to change. He avoided the gray squares and landed on the green. It would be a species change but nothing else. But, he was caught off guard by what proceeded to happen next. He read the card. “You’re near the end of the little maze. Like a good little mouse following the scent of cheese.” Alex didn’t just change into a mouse, he shrunk to the point that he was mouse sized compared to what he had been moments ago. The fur disappeared from his paws and tail, and his ears became larger and rounder on his head as he became a mouse. A very, very, very tiny mouse.
“Uhhhhh.” Calex walked up to Alex. The kobold was roughly half the mouse’s size. “You still gonna be able to roll the dice?”
“Um well…” Alex looked in the direction of the dice. They rose skyward like mountains. Climbing them would be a challenge let alone rolling them. “I don’t suppose a smaller set of dice appear at this point?” He asked hopefully and nothing happened.
“Huh wow…” Calex sighed. “Guess the game is over. Can’t really play if we can’t roll any dice.”
“Let me try something real quick.” Alex walked forward from his space for the finishing place. If they couldn’t play he might as well finish his ‘journey’ so they could change back. But when he reached that square he couldn’t step onto it. It was like there was an invisible barrier blocking him. “Um… We can’t finish the game.”
“So we’re stuck like this then.” Calex giggled. “Well, there are worst forms to be in.”
“I’m guessing this kind of stuff is normal for you.” Alex eyed Calex. The kitten had brought out the cursed game and seemed to have expected these things to happen. Alex had been having fun with it, but now there was the problem of what could they do. There were two sets of dice for the game. The normal sized dice, and the super tiny dice. And the super tiny dice now hung over them like a mountain.
Alex realized that he was basically a speck to a speck. There was no way anyone would see him with the naked eye.
“What the heck do we do now?” Alex asked.
“Well, I’m kind of worn out so I was thinking of taking a nap.” The kobold kid laid down on the ground and curled up. “Getting sleepy. Then maybe snacks after. Giant snacks are the best snacks.”
“Giant snacks?” Alex thought about it. Any meal they ate would be huge right now. A crumb could sustain them for the rest of their lives. There was a certain appeal to giant food. But he had no idea how they were going to get snacks while being this small. It would be a journey to the edge of the game board let alone to get off the kitchen table and to the pantry. But as he looked over at Calex he realized he wasn’t getting any answers from him. The speck of a speck kobold had already fallen fast asleep. “Guess it’s not surprising he needs a nap. He is still pretty little.” Alex glanced around. With Calex asleep there was no one to hear the puns. What a waste. Well, he was running out of small jokes anyway. He needed time to think up some new ones, and why not since Calex was napping. In the meantime Alex would kill time thinking up puns to torture the kitten kobold with once he was awake.
And so he sat down and began to think and eagerly awaited the end of the kitten’s nap. Not just because of the new jokes he had to tell. But he wanted to know the kitten’s plan to get them snacks. He really wanted some of that giant food. But for now all he could do was wait. As a tiny little mouse, smaller than a grain of sand.