Calex gets yet another new babysitter, Aurum, a tiger. A feline who wears clothes much to the confusion of Calex and has never spontaneously changed sizes or shapes before? Well that’ll be fixed before this is over.
Why Not Be a Little Kid?
“So… You’re Calex then?” Aurum had gotten down on his knees to be eye level with the orange kitten, and yet the tiger still was too tall to be eye level. “I’m taking care of you tonight till Odin gets home and…” Aurum paused as there was something that was bothering him as he stared at the orange kitten in the living room. “Why are you naked?”
“Cats don’t wear clothes.” Calex replied as he fixed the white and gold striped tiger with a deadpan stare. “Everyone knows that.”
“Uhhhh.” As a tiger, Aurum was a cat, and he was very much wearing clothes. He had on a pair of black jeans, a tank top and bluish green scarf around his neck. “I’m pretty sure that’s not true, I mean…” Aurum gestured at himself.
“Yeah I was wondering about that.” Calex put a paw to his chin. “Do you have a medical condition or something?”
“What? No!” Aurum stared at the kitten confused.
“Heh just an eccentric then?” Calex shrugged and jumped up on the couch. “But you know they’re just going to make things harder for you, right?”
“I have no idea what that’s supposed to mean.” Aurum looked at the kitten as if he was crazy.
“Well, there’s the basics.” Calex explained. “As cats, we climb and jump a lot, and articles of clothing are things that can snag on branches or a hook, getting us stuck and possibly even choking us if you get hooked in the wrong spot.” Calex made a gagging noise and held his paws around his throat. “Then they just trip you up when you change forms or find yourself suddenly a different shape or size. It spares you a lot of time not having to figured out how to get out from beneath them or get them untangled.”
“What?” to Aurum, about half of what Calex said might as well have been gibberish.
“It’s simple.” Calex jumped from the couch to the coffee table. When he landed he was now on all fours, looking no different from a normal non-sapient kitten. “If I had been wearing pants or a shirt, I’d have gotten tangled up halfway through that jump, fell to the ground and then had to struggle to get out of them.”
“Wait! What just happened?” Aurum took a few steps back. The child he was supposed to be watching was now a pet. His first thoughts were magic, but Calex hadn’t cast a spell. He just did it. “People don’t just… Change. It’s gotta be a trick.” He reached out a hand and touched Calex, but the feral kitten was real.
“No trick.” Calex changed forms again, this time growing larger as some of his feline features vanished, and he took on the form of a human. Well, a human with a tail, cat ears and paws. Believing his point made, he resumed his original bipedal orange furred form Aurum had met when first arriving.
“Ok what and how?” Aurum blinked.
“I mean… I just do it! I’m a werekitten! The shapeshifting comes is part of the package deal!” Calex explained.
“O… Kay…” Aurum replied having just discovered magical werebeasts were real and was still processing that. Sure, he could use magic himself, but he had never encountered any kind of creature that could just change shape so effortlessly. “Maybe I understand why clothing is difficult for you, but the rests of us don’t transform like that.” This got a burst of laughter from Calex, which Aurum just gave him a confused look.
“Oh, you were serious.” Calex looked taken aback. “You’ve never had it happen to you! I don’t understand how that’s possible.” The kitten mused. “It’s literally happened to every person I ever met. A lot of my friends are back in grade school now. I can’t go to school though… Have to be home schooled due to… Issues.”
“Okay, can you slow down and explain things.” Aurum would have been quick to dismiss this as the rambling of a child’s imagination. Yet, he had just seen the kitten change forms before his own eyes, so maybe he should be a little more open minded. “What do you mean your friends are back in grade school? I would think most kids your age would be… And what issues are you talking about?”
“It’s… Complicated and…” Calex winced as if he had just recalled some painful memory. “And I can’t really remember all the details. But apparently a kid who doesn’t age and has no known history is somewhat problematic for school enrollments and legal paperwork.” Calex shrugged. “As for them being in grade school… AH! That would make a perfect demonstration!” With that the kitten took off bounding down the halls on all fours heading to a room in the back.
“H-hey! Wait up!” Aurum chased after him. Had Calex just said he didn’t age? Again, a seemingly impossible thing, but Aurum was trying to keep an open mind. This wasn’t any magic he knew, and whatever magic it was clearly had different rules. When he caught up with Calex, he found him in a study full of strange looking devices and bottles of various liquids.
“Here we go.” Calex was standing on a desk where he picked up a bottle of light blue liquid. After glancing around for a bit he found an empty flask and poured roughly a third of the liquid into the flask. “You’re like eighteen, right?” Calex asked. “Want to make sure I got the dosage right.”
“Uh yes…” Aurum stared at him. “What is all this, and… What dosage are you talking about?” Aurum glanced around the room, and a very large part of him was wanting to start pressing buttons and pulling levers just to see what would happen. But he was supposed to be watching the kitten.
“Youth serum.” Calex said simply. “Should make you about the same age as me.” He paused. “Give or take a couple months.”
“You want me to just drink this?” Regardless of what he had just seen, this was an unknown chemical being presented to him by a child. There was no guarantee he knew what he was doing and wasn’t offering Aurum something poisonous by accident.
“That was the idea yes.” Calex nodded. “It seems really weird you’ve never experienced any of this. Concerning really, I mean… How are you going to react when you encounter a supervillain flying around in an egg shaped spaceship suddenly turns you and every person in the city into kobolds?”
“That seems a little farfetched.” Aurum replied.
“Happened just last month three towns over.” Calex grinned. “Apparently by kobold standards I have a very shiny and rare scale color. Odin was able to reverse it all in the end when he found the ship’s self-destruct system. Point is you’re not going to be prepared without experience. So, here’s a chance to just have a fun one with no dangers.”
“Alright, let’s say I believe this really is a youth serum. Why should I drink it? I’m supposed to be babysitting you, that seems a little difficult if we’re the same age.” Aurum put his hands on his hips.
“Really?” Calex tilted his head in confusion. “To me it seems like it’d be easier. I mean, it’s impossible not to be keeping an eye on me if you’re actively playing with me.” Calex paused. “Except for hide and seek I suppose. But, let me asks a question. Which sounds more fun, spending a night watching a kid play, or getting to play with him? Why not be a little kid?” Calex offered the serum.
“That…” Aurum paused. It would certainly be an experience. And… Simply learning this stuff was real made Aurum want to have something of a fantastical experience. This was such a bad idea. And yet, he took the potion and immediately drank it.
It didn’t take long to kick in. Aurum suddenly shrunk into his own clothes as he flew backwards through age. His tail got slightly shorter and his fur thinner and softer. After just a few seconds Aurum had been reduced to a mere six years old. Though, he was still about two heads taller than Calex.
“It worked?” Aurum was in shock at that. He had taken it willingly but until it happened he hadn’t truly believed in it. He took a few steps forward, only to get tangled up in his jeans and tank top and fall flat on his face.
“See I warned you.” Calex spoke smugly. “Clothes are the enemy.”
“M… Maybe…” Aurum wasn’t convinced yet. He carefully wriggled out of his jeans and stayed only in his tank top which went down to his ankles and his scarf. The shock was wearing off, and something else was replacing it. Youthful energy. Aurum retained his adult mind, but suddenly he just had so much energy and wanted to do something to use some of it. And that part of him that wanted to push buttons got stronger. “What’s all the rests of the stuff in here?”
“Most of them are works in progress.” Calex explained. “Though the automated shrink ray works.”
“You have a shrink ray?” Aurum absolutely believed Calex this time.
“We have a drawer full of them!” Calex responded. He then leaped from the desk onto a large metal device that looked something like a satellite, and it pointed at Aurum. “Here I’ll show how it works! How small you want to be?”
“You can’t just shrink me!” Aurum protested.
“It’s easily reversed.” Calex tried to assure him. Of course, he had made no such assurance about the youth serum earlier. “And come on think about it! Suddenly, the living room isn’t just a couch and some tables, but a mountain exploring adventure, one you may never have another chance to experience.”
“I…” Aurum considered. He had already let himself be turned into a kid. At this point why not just give in to the madness. “You’re sure it’s reversable?”
“Oh yeah.” Calex nodded. “Like… Odin and I get shrunk like all the time! Like… It’s really odd just how often it happens. But we always find a way back to normal size.”
“Ok… Fine.” Aurum couldn’t believe he was doing this. This was even more reckless than letting himself be turned back into a cub. And yet, a part of him was extremely excited by the prospect. Perhaps it was the new childish playful feelings. “Okay, but not too small somewhere around mouse sized.”
“Easy enough.” Calex began to press buttons and pull levers. “We’ll ease you into it… Set the shrinking so we’ve essentially shrunk half our sizes every 15 minutes… Set the duration of shrinking for one hours, and when the hour is over we’ll be mouse sized!” Calex then paused. “And I guess I should be responsible and set a timer for it to automatically unshrink us later. Hmmmmm. Let’s say midnight.” The kitten pressed more buttons. “Oh, and a slight delay so I can get in the blast too! Annnnnnd! Ready to go.”
It was here Calex ran into a small problem. Even at his full size Calex was a small kitten. Most things were out of his reach without climbing or jumping on something. That included the button to activate this large shrink ray. Calex climbed up to reach it, completely unaware that his hind paw pushed down on one lever; setting the shrinking duration from one hour all the way to infinite, and on another button that disabled the automatic reversal.
“Boop!” Calex pressed the button unaware of the changes he had just made and quickly dove down to stand next to Aurum. A green beam fired from the satellite-like device, and both kittens started to shrink. It was gradual enough not to be disorienting, but fast enough to easily notice.
“Shrink tag!” Calex shouted. “You’re it!” He booped Aurum on the nose then took off running on all fours.
“H-hey! No fair! I can’t run all fours like that!” Aurum gave chase after him. As he did the tank top started to feel heavier and heavier. It now dragged along the floor and his shoulders were in danger of slipping through the neck hole.
“That sounds like a you problem.” In the living room Calex leaped atop the coffee table. He wasn’t even half sized yet, so it was an easy jump.
“You can’t get away!” Aurum shouted. He didn’t quite have Calex’s jumping ability, but he grabbed the top of the coffee table and started to climb up onto it. His shirt and scarf were weighing him down, making it difficult and he was trying very hard to keep both from falling off.
As the game continued it was obvious Calex had the advantage. His body was built more like an actual cat’s than a human’s, he could climb jump and run a lot easier. And Aurum just kept getting weighted down by his own shirt, until finally he disappeared underneath it, unable to lift it up at all.
“H-hey! I can’t find the way out!” Aurum gave a shout. The dark colored tank top blocked out all light making it difficult for even his feline eyes to find the neck hole or sleeve.
“See! See!” Calex gestured at the shirt despite the fact Aurum couldn’t see him. “Clothes are the enemy!”
“Just help me get out of here!” Aurum could be seen moving around beneath the tank top as a small bump, a bump that continued to get smaller.
“Ok, ok I’m on it.” Calex walked to the tail end of the shirt since it was the largest opening. “Follow my voice! I’m standing at an exit.”
This took a surprising amount of time, and by the time Aurum emerged from beneath his shirt a full hour had passed, and he was now only a few inches tall. Calex meanwhile was about an inch and a half.
“So, understand now?” Calex examined the now naked tiger cub. “Clothes are the enemy.”
“I get your point…” Aurum rubbed the side of his arm. Was this the type of thing that happened daily for Calex? “But you know there is one practical use for them I’d like to point out.”
“Oh really? And what’s that?” Calex asked. It was clear he was expecting an amusing answer that he could easily prove wrong.
“They got you close enough to me to tag.” Aurum slapped Calex on the back. “You’re it!” And then the tiny tiger cub took off running.
“W-w-what?” Calex stood still completely stunned for a moment. Did he just get played? He was pretty sure he just got played! That’s not how things were supposed to work! It should have been the opposite. “Ohhh I’m gonna get you so good!”
After recovering from his bewilderment, Calex took off after Aurum. Meanwhile, they both continued to shrink. It was something they should have noticed, but the game had suddenly become quite intense and the only focus they had was one each other. Aurum ran for the couch and jumped onto the bottom of it. He used his claws to start climbing his way up, hoping that he could get some distance on Calex. It didn’t take the kitten long to follow up after him though, and the chase was soon taking place on a single sofa cushion. And then finally… Calex decided he had enough.
The orange kitten dropped onto all fours, picked up speed and instead of running straight at Aurum ran circling around him. Aurum realized he was trying something, prepared himself to dodge, but wasn’t fast enough when the kitten leaped across a surprisingly long distance and tackled Aurum. Both cubs rolled along the couch and then fell off it, falling for a distance that felt way too long.
They landed on some kind of strange ropey fabric and Calex pinned Aurum to the ground on it. He gave a smug grin showing off his fang. “Tag.”
“You got me…” Aurum was bothered by something. “But… uh… How are we alive… At our sizes that fall from the couch. It was like a mountain!”
“Well you see mass changes at a cubed rate while your muscular system is decreasing at a squared rate. Aside from making you stronger by comparison when you’re small it greatly decreases the force of an impact since mass is a large part of that calculation when you determine the force of a collision or fall.”
“Uhhhhhhh.” Aurum just gave Calex a blank stare.
“OK short version.” Calex sighed. “You heard the bigger they are the harder they fall? That’s literally true. And the opposite is also true. Small mass means small impact, making falls completely harmless no matter the distance once you’re small enough.”
“I see…” Aurum wriggled his way from beneath Calex as he realized something was wrong. “Hey… Does the room look really, really big?”
“Yeah that usually happens when you shrink.” Calex shrugged, but then he noticed it too. He should have noticed it earlier… But Calex only operated on two levels. Hyper focused on one thing to the point of ignoring everything else; in this case chasing Aurum. And being distracted by literally everything. Either way, observing things now… Well, Calex had bee shrunk a lot of times and had gotten pretty good at estimating his sized based on the environment around them. And what they were currently standing on top of was a pretty big hint too.
“Uh what are we even standing on?” Aurum poked the top of the surface, he hadn’t seen anything like it in the room earlier.
“The carpet.” Calex pointed across the room to where there was a sea of these giant towers made of fabric. “Just… Currently both of us fit on a single individual strand of it.”
“WHAT!?” Aurum crawled to the edge of the strand of the carpet and looked down. He couldn’t even see the bottom. “This is way too small! I thought we were just going mouse sized!”
“It is strange.” Calex put a paw to his chin. “And yet not unprecedented. Something must have gone wrong with the timer for how long we continue to shrink. But it doesn’t matter.”
“Doesn’t matter? We’re smaller than grains of sand!” Aurum protested.
“Maybe! But remember? I set the thing to automatically reverse at midnight. No matter how small we get, it’s only temporary.” Calex was of course completely unaware he had accidentally turned off the reversal function too.
“I see…” Aurum crawled back from the edge and stood up. That was right, the shrinking was temporary.
“So might as well just have fun with it!” Calex grinned. “Who knows how long it’s set for now. Maybe you’ll get to chase a protozoa. Who are complete jerks by the way. Or hold an atom in your paw… Or if it’s set long enough… Well, it turns out that one of the greatest things in the universe can only be found by the smallest of the small.”
“And what’s that?” Aurum asked, his tail twitching with actual curiosity.
“That would be telling.” Calex grinned. “I don’t know how small we’re gonna get yet… But if it does go that far I want it to be a surprise.”
“I see…” Aurum muttered. “But I feel like tag is a little hard now.”
“Guess we need a new game.” Calex agreed.
“I was thinking let’s wrestle!” Aurum pounced Calex before getting an answer as the two continued to shrink atop the carpet strand. Soon there was a floating feeling as they become smaller than microscopic organisms and it felt like they were moving around underwater.
And then Calex spent thirty minutes yelling at a protozoa for some reason as they continued to shrink. They passed the microscopic world and were soon in a dark place full of small glowing orbs.
“What are these?” Aurum asked.
“Atoms.” Calex grinned as he grabbed one and held it in his paws. “You know, at this size with enough time you could technically create anything just assemble it atom by atom.” Calex offered the one he was holding, which turned out to be hydrogen, to Aurum.
“It’s kind of tingly.” Aurum’s eyes went wide. The atom grew larger in his hands and soon he had to let go of it as it became as big as a small hut… And then even bigger than that.
“GAH!” Both cubs let out a cry of surprise as something flew out of nowhere and hit them. Suddenly, they were on the surface of some object traveling at high speeds, one that made their fur stand up with static just by touching it.
“What just happened?” Aurum asked.
“We just hitched a ride on an electron!” Calex grinned. “Try not to fall off!”
The ride on the electron was intense, as it seemed to travel at impossible speeds. Yet without wind the two cubs were able to hang on until they shrunk so small they disappeared inside the electron.
And entered a world of strange blinking lights coming in and out of existence.
“It’s like being among the stars.” Aurum stared in wonder.
“They’re quarks, even atoms have parts to them.” Calex grinned. “But judging by the fact the flashes of light are getting bigger we might reach the thing.”
And indeed they did, it took almost another hour, but suddenly the two felines found themselves in a strange world that was full of one thing and one thing only.
“STRING!” Both felines shouted. Down here they were weightless, making it hard to move around, but there was plenty of string floating around them that they could bite, swat and chew at, until eventually the two cubs wore themselves off and nodded off to sleep. As they napped, they continued to shrink, until a Planck length string was as wide as an eight-lane highway.
Being down here made time impossible to tell time, neither of them had a way to know it was after midnight and they had failed to change back. And of course, they were still getting smaller, smaller than anything in all of existence.
Luckily for Aurum, this was far from the first time such a thing had happened to a babysitter. And Odin would eventually find a way to retrieve them and get them back to normal size. It just might take some time.
But until then they would simply get smaller