Another day, another mission. Snippy, Pilot, Engie and Zee Captain stood in front of a large, green swamp. Bubbles were floating up to the surface and popping, releasing a vile stench into the toxic atmosphere, and the liquid itself looked menacingly like pure radioactive waste.
“Minions!” cried Captain, waving his hand in a grand gesture towards the swamp. “Behold; the promised pit!”
Pilot gazed on, goggle eyed in wonder.
Engie looked nonplussed about the affair. “Why are we here, next to this stinking cesspool?”
Snippy had a very vague, bad feeling about this.
“To answer your question, Engie,” said Captain. “We are near what you call a “cesspool” – a ridiculous name, for this place is not good for playing games with sticks and balls – because of a very important teamwork exercise.”
“Teamwork?” asked Engie.
“I don’t like this,” said Snippy quietly.
Pilot clapped his hands like a small child. “O glorious Captain! How shall we exercise teamwork?”
“Quite simple,” he said. “What would happen if one of the members of Zee Glorious Army was lost in the muck? Why, you would have to pull him out! Or rather, don’t let him fall in in the first place!” Zee Captain twiddled with the straw in his steaming mug of tea. “Pilot! Take Engie’s shoulders. Engie! Take Snippy’s arms. Snippy! Dangle yourself over the edge of the swamp.”
Pilot saluted. “Yessir!”
Engie gave a yell as Pilot grabbed him, then he snatched Snippy’s arms and dragged him as Pilot pulled them both to the precipice over the edge of the green pit. Snippy struggled against the two of them, but despite his efforts he found himself dangling over the edge, leaning over it with only Engie’s arms keeping him from falling in. There were a few long seconds which felt like hours as the three of them stood precariously over the edge. However, their grip was weakening. With a stomach-dropping jolt, Engie released Snippy and he fell backwards into the mucky swamp.
He held his breath as he plunged in, but that didn’t stop the soupy liquid from flowing into his regulator. He opened his mouth for a millisecond, the stuff flooded in and he swallowed, leaving a distinctly fishy aftertaste in his mouth.
Snippy struggled to the surface, spluttering, and a two pairs of hands grabbed the back of his jacket, hauling him up onto dry land. He pulled his mask away from his face, coughing up bits of crud from the swamp waters, and someone thumped him on the back.
“You alright?” came Engie’s voice.
“Fine,” he croaked, eyes watering.
Pilot let out a sigh of disappointment. “Too bad the jiggly slug didn’t drown. You know, I only saved you because it was what Captain wanted.”
Snippy was still coughing, so he didn’t hear this remark.
After a minute or two, he could finally breathe easily. He looked up at Gromov, replacing his mask. “That was vile.”
“Looks it,” he commented. “Glad I’m not you, right now.”
An icy wind swept the landscape and he shivered. “N-n-no kidding,” he said, clutching his upper arms in an attempt to sustain warmth.
“Excellent teamwork!” cried Captain, waltzing over to them. “Engie! Pilot! You shall receive medals for your act of bravery!”
“Hey!” said Snippy indignantly. “What about me? I almost died!”
Captain waved him off. “You preformed pitifully, Snipster. You couldn’t even hang on to Engie’s arms! You are a disgrace!”
Snippy silently seethed as Captain walked away, Pilot bouncing after him and Engie following at a trudge. He stood and stomped after the group – the people he hated most in the world – wishing that he had other people to be with. Anyone else at all!
Minutes passed by and he caught up, walking alongside Engie back to the base. As time went by, however, he couldn’t help but notice that the Engineer seemed. . . taller.
Snippy looked up at him – something he had never done before – and said, “Gromov?”
“Are you growing?”
Engie looked over at where he normally was, looked down, then his eyes widened. “No. . .”
“Why are you so big, then?” he asked irritably.
“I’m not growing,” he said slowly, coming to a halt. “You’re. . . shrinking!”
It was true. Snippy looked down at his hands. The gloves were now baggy and there were pockets of empty space in the tips where his fingers were normally. The sleeves of his coat were growing over his hands and his boots now had far too much room at the toes. His mask and gloves appeared to still fit – as did his shirt, pants and underwear, thankfully – but his jacket, gloves, shoes, socks and rifle were all far too big for him.
Captain and Pilot had now stopped and were looking back at him.
“What iz zis?” asked Captain, striding over and looking down at the rapidly shrinking minion. “Captain his not given you permission to change size. Cease this action at once!”
“I can’t help it!” he cried as he tried to shake his boots and coat off.
Engie and Pilot were staring down at their colleague, their minds boggling in wonder and curiosity. Then, across Engie’s face spread an amused smirk and in Pilot’s brain plans for revenge were forming.
When Snippy caught the way they looked at each other, grinning, he got an alarmed feeling in the pit of his stomach. Or maybe that was his stomach slamming into his rifle.
The three of them stood there, watching the mini-Snippy floundering helplessly in the oversized coat. Captain shook his head, clicking his tongue.
“This is unacceptable, Snipster!” he cried, waving the mug at him. “How can you possibly serve in the front ranks if you are this size?”
“It’s not like I wanted it this way!” he yelled. Engie and Pilot burst into peals of laughter. His voice sounded about an octave or two higher than normal.
Captain held up a hand to silence them, and Pilot stopped laughing right away, but Engie continued chuckling quietly.
“Mr. Snippy!” said the Captain. “You obviously cannot keep up to speed with your wonderful Captain, at that size. You shall need an object of locomotion!” He looked around, then glanced down at the steaming mug in his hand, his grin spreading.
“Perfect!” he cried, dumping out the hot tea, picking Snippy up by the back of the shirt and dropping him into the empty – yet still damp – mug.
“Bwah!” he cried as he was dropped into the ceramic container.
“Engie!” he heard the Captain say. He looked up through the top of the mug to see the underside of his gas mask and hat, his body ascending in a great mountain to reach these. Snippy felt overwhelmed by the distance that was once so short.
“Carry Snippy’s coat and rifle. Pilot, you carry his boots and gloves.”
Two choruses of, “Yes Captain,” one more enthusiastic than the other.
Snippy slammed into the wet sides of the mug as Zee Captain spun around and started marching, his two minions following behind. He clung onto the sides to steady himself as his world pitched wildly around him, but eventually he got used to the rocking sensation, telling himself that it was like being on a ship from long ago.
As he looked up at the dreary gray sky, he caught glimpses of tall buildings and finally a ceiling came over his head. They were back at the base.
He shivered a little bit, yearning for his coat, boots and socks and wishing he were dry. With a thunk, the mug was placed on the table. Three large faces stared down at him from above.
“He’s only three inches tall,” remarked Engie.
Pilot giggled gleefully.
Captain’s was expressionless, but he was watching him critically.
Snippy felt like he was in The Twilight Zone.
Sighing, he grabbed onto the ledge of the mug – which was about eye-level for him – and hauled himself up so his arms were over, then he jumped onto the table, stumbling a few steps before coming to a halt. He stood straight – attempting to retain the little dignity he had left – and glared coldly at his fellows.
“Aww,” said Captain, patting him on the head with a forefinger. “Such a cute little Snipster!”
Snippy smacked his hand away, furious. “Stop it! Don’t belittle me!”
“Be-little,” snorted the Engineer.
Snippy’s voice was dripping with malice as he pointed up at him and said, “I swear to God, Gromov, if you say one more word. . .”
“You’re not very scary when you’re only a baby shoe, you sneaker,” said Pilot, resting his chin in his hands and grinning widely.
Snippy cringed at his expression. This was not going to end well. . .