“Welcome back everyone! My name is Thomas Roberts and our next topic for discussion tonight,” the suited Little cleared his throat, “is the Interdimensional Workers Inclusion Act, also known as IWI for short. Here in Libertalia our borders will soon be opening to immigrants from specific dimensions the Parliament has determined beforehand. This is not the first instance we’ve welcomed foreign Littles into our country, but this will be the first time that it is for the sake of bolstering our workforce and diversity. The IWI Act can be seen as beneficial for a multitude of reasons, but has also been divisive amongst concerned citizens as well. To get both sides of the argument,” the Little gestured his hand towards a chair much larger than his own, “I’d like to welcome our guest tonight, Elise Goldmann, leader of APL, Amazons Protect Littles,” his face gave a look less than enthusiastic yet professional all the same.
On cue, a tall similarly dressed woman emerged from a side curtain, visibly towering over the Little show host as she sported a telegenic smile and walked over to her seat. The applause came and fell as she sat down and politely shook the host’s hand despite like being a bear’s claw to a mouse. “Thank you for having me tonight Thomas, it’s a pleasure for you to have me on.”
“Glad to have you here as well!” He chuckled with plastered joy. “Now, to get right into things, a--pardon the pun, liberty, we have here in Libertalia is the often celebrated shared rights and equalities amongst both Amazons and Littles here. At least, more than what can be said for neighboring islands. That being said, you lead the forefront for a group that has reportedly been trying to spearhead the IWI Act for quite some time now, only to have lost by a narrow margin in the final polls on its ratification. One circulating rumor is that the APL has been against the inclusion of interdimensional travelers into our society. Do you think you could give us some more insight?”
“Well, Tommy,” Elise parted a lock of golden hair from her eyes. “I want to be clear that the APL is a strong proponent for the inclusion of Littles into our society, and that in no way is our stance on the IWI Act to be seen as an attack on Littles. Rather, it to the benefit to Amazons and Littles, both foreign and local.”
“Haha, well Elise you sort of have me stumped here!” The host took a sip out of his mug. “I think you’re going to have to elaborate a bit further for all of us!”
Her smile remained static as she also took a sip from her Amazon-sized mug. “Of course, I can get some people might find it a little bit hard to wrap their heads around. First, it’s no secret that APL’s goal is to foster and grow the relationships between Amazons and Littles, and that is to fulfill each other’s mental and physical needs. A common misconception for Littles is that they are think they belong in the role of an Amazon. Accounting, servicing, retail, deskwork, teaching, there are countless more examples I could go on for hours about. Our society is built in such a way, where to survive and thrive you need the physical and mental fortitude that unfortunately not everyone has, especially Littles. It’s everyone’s ultimate goal to find happiness in life, wouldn’t you say?” She looked expectantly at the host.
“Sure, I suppose that’s natural.” He nodded, unable to see where this was headed.
“Exactly, which is why the hardships to be found in the workforce can only yield success to those who are well-suited for it. Or in other words, Amazons. Littles aren’t as equipped to deal with these sorts of obstacles, lest they be cubs thrown to a pack of wolves! Heavens, even normal Amazonian public transportation struggles to accommodate for them! Simply living a grown-up life is a day to day struggle for them. To the Littles that try to emulate Amazons and work in a society meant for adults, it’s only a matter of time until they fail the system or the system fails them. And when things finally get too hard on the poor things and they finally crack, where will their Amazon be to pick up the pieces?”
The spokesman looked a bit put off, as she seemed to have gotten careless with her words and who she was speaking to, which she either didn’t notice or simply didn’t care.
“Of course, there can sometimes be rare exceptions.” She stressed in his direction as she dismissed it with a laugh.
“The working world is not where Littles will find happiness, Tommy.” She shook her head in disappointment, as if she were imagining the countless amount of working Littles now. “For society to even fool them into thinking they could ever find success in such a cruel world is sickening. But that’s why,” a glimmer of hope returned to her face. “If they only realize that being cared for by an Amazon and learning to live a life that only has ups and no downs, they’d find it to be a much more rewarding lifestyle, for both Amazon and Little. Libertalia would be a much better place for everyone! So to answer your question with a bit more clarity, we do not hate Littles. Instead, we cherish them too much to ever put them in danger. APL wants more Littles to be introduced into society, only not in this way.”
“Well…” Thomas seemed a bit taken aback by her dynamic response, collecting himself. “When you say ‘being cared for,’ are you referring to babying Littles, Elise? Don’t you think many Littles would much rather keep living like adults than lose their maturity and independence altogether?”
“If that’s how you’d like to put it Tommy, then sure. I, on the other hand, see it as falling into our natural roles. Amazons care for Littles, and Littles live for their own happiness, and their guardian’s too. The diapers, bottles, cribs and the like are all essential parts in letting them feel safe and cared for. To call it a loss of independence is wrong, because babying a Little is the most liberating thing you could do for them! I can’t seem to find what’s wrong with making Littles only feel good things, do you?”
“I...suppose not…” He couldn’t find himself compelled by her Amazon logic, even though he chose not to poke the bear too hard. “But wouldn’t you say it is essential for us to undergo hardship to grow as people? Develop the control and skills to better deal with what society might throw our way?”
“Certainly! For Amazons, at least. Littles are such more tiny little packages, bottles if you will, that can only take so much stress until they pop! An Amazon’s mental and physical growth is much more accelerated; faster and more up to speed with society’s standards than a Little’s could ever be. It’s up to Amazons to see to the care of Littles, so they never have to experience such a harsh world; which is why every Little needs a mommy or daddy, to make sure they can stay their happy and bubbly selves! A Little doesn’t need to deal with such heavy emotions like depression, anxiety and fear when they have someone to keep those bad feelings away; people who are much better suited to deal with them!”
“Ms.Goldmann,” Thomas quickly said moving on. “You have two adopted Littles, don’t you?”
“Yes I do, Cameron and funnily enough, Tommy!”
Thomas would never let the cameras know, but a small part of him recoiled in a mix of fear and disgust on the inside, just from hearing a parallel between he and this woman. “And did these Littles willingly consent to being adopted by you?”
“Well, Cameron was my first. I caught him in the subway system when I was going to the public bathrooms. Poor thing soaked his big-boy pants pretty well.” Her face had the look of a doting mother. “It would have been harder to tell he hadn’t wet himself! I had always been wanting a little boy, and there he just happened to be! It was rough getting him diapers for the first month, but he knew what was best for him soon enough. Besides, while I’m an advocate for Little Orphanages that instill the etiquette into them beforehand, the Caught-When-Wet law made it much easier to skip the formalities. On top of that, it allowed for so much more bonding with my little boy as we both learned what was expected of us. It’s a shame that the laws are much more strict now...But! Five years later and my little boy is as happy as can be! And so am I!”
“And what about...Tommy?” Thomas seemed a bit more uncomfortable asking about his unfortunate doppelganger.
“Tommy actually used to be a friend of a co-worker of mine.” Elise took a sip from her mug as she pondered the thought. “He was actually a textbook case of the victimized Little I fear for so much…” She said, almost looking sad for a moment. “I managed to overhear that he was on his last leg between his job and rent, nobody being there to give him a break. Needless to say, a Little can’t fill an Amazon’s shoes, so it was only a matter of time until he was finally laid off from his job. While it was legally within my right to adopt him on the spot, I was much more gentle with the poor thing. We started talking, even though I was clear from the start he wouldn’t have much hope of finding a job around here after being fired,” she added passively. “I helped him come to terms with his options, and he found that it was much wiser and better to let Mommy take care of him than be turned over to a different Amazon. And now to this day I’m a happy mother of two! Something I hope every Amazon has the joy of experiencing.”
The audience had a round of applause in a checkered manner, about every little in the room unable to reciprocate the paternal feelings. The crowd now fell into Elise’s favor, a direction just about every mixed setting here took.
After the applause died down, Thomas went on to say, “Well, thank you Elise for joining us with the short time we had. It was a pleasure to hear from you and give us some clarity on current matters.”
“Happy to be here Tommy!” She said, as Thomas for some reason could feel himself cringe at hearing her stress the name. “And if you ever feel the need, I’ll always be happy to be a mother of three!” She teased as she fished out a dangling pacifier from one of her pockets.
The majoring Amazon crowd erupted in laughter as the tv host tried to hide the embarrassment on his face, trying to play it off. “H-heh...my name’s Thomas Roberts. Tune in next time!”
1 - Admission
Is it here? It has to be! I’m supposed to be getting my results today...Hopefully they didn’t just toss my application out. Please God don’t let that be the case...
My heels clicked down the sidewalk as I was nearing my complex’s mailbox. It had been months of rigorous surveying and background checks just to even come to a verdict! The power of a single word had the power to make or break probably the rest of my life. But I didn’t want to think worst case scenario, because hopefully that wouldn’t happen. It won’t happen.
Eighteen more clicks to go. I was counting each and every step down the sidewalk as the building came into sight.
Sixteen. Please let this be the end of my suffering, rescue me from this dead-end job...
Ten. Get me out of this shithole of a city! Lest I be mugged on the streets for staying here any longer than I have to.
Five. This new job could only be anything but worse. A change of scenery and a ticket out of one of the most dangerous cities in the country sounded like a dream; only that it wasn’t.
My feet couldn’t get me through the door fast enough when I pushed the bar open. I paid no mind to the stained tiles nor the dead plant sitting in the corner, accompanied by its plastic artificial cousin, which bettered neither of the two by association.
There it was. The array of lockboxes ranging from one to one hundred were staring back at me. Each and every panel was caked in a varying degree of rust. My hand was already holding on to the tiny key in my purse since three blocks ago, all for this moment! My heart was beating a mile a minute as I forced the shaking key into the lock.
“Come ooon lucky double sevens!” I quietly chanted as I twisted the key in synch. I gave the fixed key a tug as my mailbox creaked open, revealing my usual pile of mail. The world was going dark on me as I looked at the top and recognized the same damn phone logo that I got my service from. Did I have the dates right? Was today when I was supposed to get a response? I checked my phone in a silent frenzy for the given date and today’s. Sure enough they matched up, meaning…
“No dice…” I said in a defeated whisper; I tried to fight the sadness in my voice. Completely dejected I looked through my pile, as it shifted from familiar to junk I filtered it all by tossing whatever didn’t matter onto the ground. A mere fraction of the mail that actually mattered in hand, I slumped off to the elevator; cursed to continue this wretched life of mine until the very end.
“Fuck me…” I whined to myself as I clicked the button. I was too self-absorbed to even notice the loud rapping on the glass beside me. It was the desk worker, Jim. We never really talked that often. He was in his usual-worn suit covering a slightly discolored button-up. A relatively clean-shaven face with eyes that regularly screamed about as much enthusiasm as I was feeling right now...Wait, what does he even want me for?
Back to reality, I looked at him this time rather than through, and asked “What is it Jim? I’m not feeling too great right now…” My recently energetic steps now felt sapped of all their juice.
“Sorry to bother ya,” He said in an unconvincing voice. “Yuki was it? Yoko? Either way, I was told to make sure this got handed to you directly.” He slid a large manila envelope underneath the dividing panel of glass.
“What?” I said with a fragment of interest. “From who?” Although my heart had just been ripped from my chest a few moments ago, some sense of change kept me digging. While this package screamed mystery to me, I was still trying to silence the hope in me that was trying to make it seem like something it probably wasn’t. The walls would really start to cave in then if I let myself get fooled twice...
“Not sure, didn’t tell me much other than to give it to you and have ya sign for it. Right here, please,” he tapped the signature box on a slip as he slid it to me.
My eyes had barely even scanned the paper until in a mix of fading depression and growing curiosity, I was already scribbling something not even remotely legible across the page. Whatever it took for me to figure out the contents of this package, I was starting to feel driven to reach that point as soon as possible.
“Is that all you need?” I couldn’t help but let a pang of childish impatience in my voice as I was ready to tap my foot. I had already been waiting for so long, it felt like an insult to deny me my climax now. The familiar ding rung behind me as my ride was now here and the parting doors made the usual creak they’d always had.
“Free to go,” his eyes were already back to his computer screen. Who knows what he was doing. Probably porn for all I knew…
I didn’t spare much more thought on the pointless topic as one hand firmly gripped the large envelope. Could this be it? Please let it be! Part of me wanted to toss the thing immediately, just so I wouldn’t have to risk being let down again; let that lingering what-if stay, so it doesn’t have to be crushed by reality.
I was always careful to look over the elevator panel before I ever pressed it. Ever since my first month here after pressing my floor, covered in something slimy that stretched from the tenth to the fifth...Needless to say I couldn’t scrub my hand hard enough that night, and there was no way in hell I’d be touching some foreign substance ever again. The interior mirrors on all four sides echoed my reflection into infinite nothingness. If I were claustrophobic I’d never take these tiny boxes on cables they called elevators. Four people’d have to be packed like sardines if they wanted to fit in here, which I’ve had the displeasure of experiencing before. But with my eyes on the manila prize, the opening doors interrupted my thoughts as I reached my floor.
The carpet floor was just as torn as it was yesterday and so was the peeling wallpaper. The job I was overqualified for could only pay for a sorry-excuse-of-a-home like this, and I couldn’t help but want this delivery to bring a change to that. I fished the keys from my purse and opened the three different locks corresponding to three different keys on my wooden door. Not like it mattered, though. It was only just last week when my neighbor across the hall had his door kicked in by who knows who. It was easy to tell which was his, because a green door didn’t exactly blend in well with all the other yellow ones surrounding it.
I was in my apartment and had the locks back in place faster than I undid them. With aching feet slipped out of their heels, I couldn’t help but moan a relief as I touched the hardwood floor; the one sensation that let me know I returned to my sweet oasis.
“Hi mom,” I gave a slight bow to her picture on the wall as I brushed a petal from the flowers I had potted beneath her.
I was fast to get the kitchen lights since getting natural sunlight in here was a cruel joke. For every window I have except a tiny bathroom one, you can get a breathtaking sight of brick, just brick and even more brick, close enough to where you could almost touch it.
The nearby clock on the microwave read 5:37PM, just about the usual time assuming the conjunction of subway and sidewalk traffic stayed the same. Delaying my fate for just a few moments longer, I had a pot of water set to boil as I took one of the last few packages of ramen noodles from my cabinet. One of the rare occasions that I actually do, I took a beer from the fridge as well, since I could use a bit of liquid courage right now, and the tap water here tasted like my money’s worth.
After a few sips just to work myself up, I flipped over the envelope and peeled off the tape that was protecting the binding on it. With each unravel of twine my heart started to beat louder and faster. Everything around me disappeared as it was only me, my beer and my fate. The thought still killed me that this might not even be for my new job, much less a simple rejection letter. The odds were two to one. Staggering enough to make me take another swig of my happy juice.
With no more unbinding to do, the top unfolded on its own as the thick stack of papers inside were now exposed. Gripping the whole bunch I slowly reeled out its contents as I was on the edge of my seat already.
But I couldn’t compose myself for very long when I saw what it was. I had lost every sense of my being and every fiber hyper focused on sight and sensation. I couldn’t do much for the tears that rolled down my cheeks on their own; legs shaking as I tried to process what was happening.
“No way...this can’t be happening…” I looked over at my boiling noodles as my appetite was suddenly gone. I could throw up right now...Months of anticipation leading up to this moment, for this kind of result…
The tears didn’t stop coming, as deliverance had come. Everything around me was a thing of the past! No more cheap noodles, burglary-prone apartment complexes or brick building windows!
My cries became open sobs as my four years of hell were finally over!
Applicant #349,578 Yoko Sasaki’s request for the participation in the 20,000 available occupational positions in the Interdimensional Workers Inclusion Act, for the purpose of establishing foreign relations with neighboring dimensions has been by the result of extensive surveying and investigation:
For further briefing on where to move from this acceptance letter, please be sure to read the additional provided information included with this document. Your scheduled departure and consulate meetings will also be included as well, where your assigned position and housing will be further elaborated on.
“Yes yes yes yes yes!” I cheered happily as I paraded around the kitchen. Suddenly my next swig of beer didn’t taste so bitter like the last, and the ramen seemed like it was going to taste better than it ever had before! “We did it mom! We’re finally leaving!” I couldn’t help but hop from toe to toe with a grin from ear to ear as her eternal smile looked back at me.
Suddenly I could hear a loud banging on one of the walls between me and my neighbor.
“Hey! Shut the hell up!” yelled a voice through the wall.
The walls were indeed thin here...Like that one time I could hear two people getting busy next door. Wasn’t that the same direction it came from too? Whatever! Who cares? I won’t be here for much longer! Not even my neighbors could get me down now, and if my acceptance forum weren’t just a piece of paper I swear I could have kissed it! The only thing that kept me even remotely reserved was the boiling pot of water that was starting to sing in tune with my emotions.
I grabbed a pair of wooden chopsticks as I filled my bowl with ninety-five cent noodles and didn’t skip out on the watery broth. With a little bit of artificial seasoning I felt like I was a king dining on his feast. And what for the past four uninterrupted years tasted like shitty noodles, suddenly became the best dollar per pack I had ever spent.
2 - Preparation
“Liberatlia…” I couldn’t stop myself from reading while I was eating. My blood was still pumping with adrenaline as I tried to convince myself this was actually happening. While I knew about it beforehand, there was something so concrete, absolute, about it being on paper that I would be moving to this new place. And to be travelling to a different dimension to boot!
If I remembered correctly, we haven’t been in contact with this other dimension for very long...Nearly a decade at the most? Anyways, the governments here have been very strict on who gets to cross through the portal, and even then it has to be consensual from both sides. While money often talks, not even some of the wealthiest people in the world could gain access! I couldn’t find much information on Liberatlia from my phone, other than that they’re regarded as a technologically advanced society. Lightyears ahead of us supposedly.
The name looked like a warped form of the word liberty, freedom. Both in sense and reality this place couldn’t help but seem all the more enticing. And from the looks of it this place seemed almost like a one-way trip, since I couldn’t find anything about a return date or worst case scenario. They’d probably tell me more about it during the briefings, not that I hoped it would ever come to that though. This opportunity was too precious to squander. I had heard there were millions of applicants for this program just to fill only 20,000 spots! And to keep thinking how I was one of the lucky few...I was on cloud nine.
My bowl of better-than-usual noodles came to its end as I sipped the last of its soupy water. I reasoned with myself I’d clean the pot later and stuck the bowl in the tiny sink. I dropped the chopsticks in the trash as I grabbed the papers off the table and moved to my office. While I lived in a complete shithole, this was the one thing that really made things bearable. I hit the power button to my computer as I watched the colorful lights from the inside come to life. My clean and shiny monitor responded as well, picking up on my emails where I left off last night.
“No need to look at these anymore…” I grinned as I closed the tab. I had to stop myself from getting into a giggling fit as the positivity was coming back in troves. “Li...ber...ta..lia…” I said to myself as I typed the letters on the keyboard. Of course there wouldn’t be much of a difference from the results I found on my phone, but I found it easier to browse on a computer than a handheld device.
Sure enough not a lot was coming up other than basic repeated information. There was lots of speculation on what kind of place Libertalia was; but despite any concrete proof, the general consensus online was how much better of a place it was than here on Earth. I skipped out on the suggested local poverty and debt articles, since all I had to do was look out my tiny bathroom window to get the gist of that; but the further I went the more my search went up in smoke.
The ‘speculations’ started to become a bit more strange too, throwing terms around like Amazon and even Little? Whatever those meant.
Deciding to give the pointless hunt a rest, I switched gears and closed the search tab while I moved from my office and into the living room. I put on my nearsighted glasses and turned the tv on while I looked the papers over like a fine-toothed comb to hair. My first meeting was actually in a few days, and was actually in the next city over...It was definitely out of the way considering I didn’t own a car--correction, cannot afford a car. I’d make due though. With seven available sick days under my belt there wouldn’t be an issue making the time. The papers didn’t say anything about an explicit date for the second meeting, but suggested there might be one in the future.
After rereading them multiple times I was finally content with what I had and would start planning in the morning. I hopped in my tiny shower and already started to wind down, just so I could end the day even sooner and bring me one step closer to Libertalia! Even when I started to hear grunting from next door my smile didn’t waver!
It had been three days since I got my acceptance letter, and I looked out the window next to me as we travelled across the highway. My phone read 7:38AM as the early morning didn’t match my energy right now. I made sure to sleep early the night before, just so nothing could go wrong today. Hell, I was so cautious that I should be an hour earlier than the thirty minutes I had already set aside for when I got there! My sneakers shuffled while I looked myself over. They were clear to wear casual street clothes for when I got there so to keep things relaxed. Probably after having me jump through so many hurdles, it didn’t have to be so formal now?
I was headed to a Brazilian Consulate which I guess was being repurposed as one for Libertalia? The address didn’t matter to me, but I was starting to wonder just how discreet they were trying to keep this...The bus shook every now and then as we hit the occasional bump. The roads between cities got less attention than the ones that weren’t, local governments saying they planned to improve infrastructure, but they never did of course. My mind wandered as I looked at all the passing scenery, though it never really changed. The midwest never had much to look at between commerce points, it almost made me homesick, not that anywhere really felt like a home anymore.
The drive went on for about another hour and a half until I finally stepped off and into Indianapolis. The Consulate was just a few blocks from here and while it was about ten o’clock I thanked myself for being so overzealous as I only had about twenty minutes or so to spare!
“Should have done more research on the traffic…” I cursed myself while my pace picked up down the sidewalk. There was no doubt in my mind I’d make it on time, just that I wanted to be to be there early with some time to spare. Surfing through the crowd of suits and casual city-goers, I broke through the current and swung open the door to the air-conditioned building.
The waiting room was relatively empty except for a few others waiting on solfas and the desk worker tending to her business. While it didn’t take much to beat the lobby at my apartment complex, this was beyond leagues better. The wooden tables looked actually polished and the plantlife wasn’t on its last leg. Flawless white tiles and a recent paint job, I had half a mind to tell Jim he should tell the complex owner to take some notes.
“May I help you?” The woman called from behind the desk.
“Oh! Yes. I was told to come here for an appointment?” I asked with uncertainty in my voice. It suddenly did feel strange coming to a Brazilian Consulate to discuss going to a different dimension.
“For…?” she asked, looking for me to elaborate.
“I know it sounds strange, but I have a meeting for the IWI Act? I have the papers here if you need to see.” Surely she had at least heard of the bill. It was all that the working world was talking about nowadays.
Her face seemed to look a bit surprised, then quickly became wary.
“Could I see the papers please?” she asked.
“Uh, sure.” I pulled the stack of papers out and put them on her desk.
She spent a good minute looking them over, constantly shifting her eyes from my printed photo to my actual face.
“You seem to check out, Yoko.” she said as she returned the papers. “Sorry for the tense atmosphere, but I’m sure you know how few spots there are. They’re trying to keep things awfully hidden now.”
My thoughts were confirmed hearing that now, which made me feel relieved because I knew I was in the right place now.
“Haha it’s fine. Don’t worry about it.”
“Then right this way please. I know you’re a bit early but I’ll see you to the meeting room now. I’m sure they won’t mind getting started now.”
The secretary stepped from behind her desk and guided me down an adjacent hall. I tucked my hands into my jean pockets as the cold was starting to get to me. We reached a door with a metal handle and she gave it a turn and push as she let me into a conference room. It was relatively empty apart from the male in a charcoal suit and woman in a white lab coat sitting at a table.
Without a word the secretary lead me in then stepped out, closing the door behind her. I walked over to the two who had already stood up, offering handshakes while we introduced ourselves.
“Ms.Sasaki, a pleasure to meet you.” The female doctor said. “You can call me Dr.Summers and this is my colleague Mr.Rogers.” I gave them both a smile as I tried not to focus on how she already knew my name. Granted, I suppose at this stage of the game it’d be weird if they didn’t.
“You don’t need to worry about my friend so much during this meeting, it’s mostly going to be a one on one talk from hereon. Think of him more a security, for both my safety and yours too.”
That didn’t sound too great...It’s one thing to have security detail, but to even need it to begin with was concerning in itself.
“Don’t look too worried,” she laughed as my face seemed to tell my feelings. “It’s just a precaution. I’m sure nothing will happen, but some people can be abit more eager than others to be able to experience interdimensional travel.”
“Are you from Libertalia?” The question just happened to come out of my mouth. The curiosity was killing me and I wanted to know.
“No, I’m not.” She simply stated. “I’m Earth-born, just like you,” she chuckled. “As much as I would have liked to be part of the program, I have friends and family here. Too much keeping me tied down here. Not that I mind, of course.”
I couldn’t help but feel a bit disappointed that I still had yet to make contact with someone from Libertalia. I knew it would eventually be happening, but I still felt so deprived.
“And before you ask, no, Mr.Rogers is not either. We’re both government officials meant to conduct one final screening for you here. I’m sure they’ll be giving you their own kind of meeting once you cross through the portal. And whatever questions you might have along the way I’ll do my best to answer them?”
“Okay, sounds good.” It was clear I still wasn’t past the formality process yet and that’d take a bit more time.
“Perfect. Now if you could strip for me please?” While she said this the security guard was already excusing himself from the room.
“Ah, .naked? Or?” I didn’t expect her to be so upfront despite her being a doctor. I was already undoing the laces on my shoes though and slipped them off.
“Just to your underwear please. Our most recent records of your physical health is from about a year ago, so we’d like to keep the books fresh.”
My pants came off next while I emptied my pockets and kept them next to my purse.
“So how much do you know about this place? Libertalia? I couldn’t find too much concrete information about it.” I was curious to see if she even knew anything.
“Well, probably only a little more than you do. They’re a technologically advanced society and happen to share the same language as us. They’re mostly the ones sharing information and us being able to provide workers like this is one of our biggest contributions, actually. But it’s more than just that of course. We want to use this as a sign of good faith and I’m sure to the many participants like you of course, you wouldn’t be doing this without good reason. In fact, I believe it was Libertalia that requested we try to introduce our citizens into their society. Step on the scale for me please?”
She wasn’t wrong, there was virtually nothing left for me here. No real friends, living family or great jobs to keep me around. The possibility that I was even desired on some level was all the more reassuring.
“I suppose you’re right. There isn’t much keeping me anywhere. I hope this place will be kind of like a fresh start.” I started to drown in my thoughts while I stood there almost completely naked.
“I can understand that. And, forgive me if I’m coming across a bit rude here, but I think the change in scenery should be much better than where you live now.”
It didn’t take half a brain to realize that. “No offense taken. I was just thinking the same thing.”
“111.4lbs…” Dr.Summers whispered to herself as she wrote down information on a clipboard. “Stay on the scale please.” She walked behind me and from over my shoulder I could see her pulling out some extending rod which travelled from the base.
Soon enough it was as tall as me with a plate on top to level the height.
“Take a step back for me please?”
A chill was sent down my spine when I made contact with the metal rod. It was a reminder of how cold the room already was with the air-conditioning.
“5’5”.” She rounded off her measurement with a few more jots. “If you could fully strip for me now, I just need to make sure you’re healthy in every department.”
A bit more reluctant this time, I fully stripped and she looked me over with her cold, doctor-like latex gloves. From there I was allowed to put at least my underwear back on, and she tested my reflexes, ears, mouth and heartbeat the finally concluded the last of her notes.
“Everything looks good Yoko.” She put her pen and clipboard to the side while I put my clothes back on. Thankfully she didn’t ask me any nutritional questions. I’d be too embarrassed to admit that I’d been on a predominantly noodles-only diet for the past four years. Somehow I worked in some more healthy foods in on occasion.
“Now that we’re past the checkups, I can give you a bit more information on when you’ll be leaving and how to prepare. Here’s a two copies of the sheet I’m going to go over with you, incase if you lose the first.”
The paper looked almost like a checklist for suggested things to bring, just about summing up to all the things I already planned for.
“It’s best to think of this as a permanent change in location, or just like you’re moving.” She started. “For all intents and purposes, you will be considered a citizen of Libertalia first and foremost, and you will be a citizen of our dimension and specifically the United States second to that. I’ve been told to be clear with you that for your first year here there will be no talks of returning. Put simply, it’s quite expensive to move 20,000 of our own citizens to another dimension and you are being considered a long-term investment. Try not to think about it like that though, since this will be beneficial to you as well.”
I know this is what I wanted, but I couldn’t help but feel a bit unnerved from hearing the bluntness of what this entailed. I’d actually be leaving this dimension and going to a new one, with barely any idea for what to expect.
“By attending this meeting your compliance is assumed and that you will be taking part in this program. It’s suggested that you bring all personal belongings with you within reason, because you should assume that there will be no coming back for some time. Housing will be provided for you and you are free to move somewhere else if that’s what you choose. And on top of this, you are also free to switch jobs. Meaning, you are not required to stay with your government provided job. However, you are required to maintain employment so not to lose your provided benefits.”
“Benefits?” I asked. It wasn’t often that I ever got those.
“Because you’re part of this program, Libertalia will being giving you an additional sum of money every month and have you registered with health insurance, as you’ll be considered one of its citizens after all.”
That sounded amazing! For so long I was always toying with the thought to drop my health insurance just so I could increase my income a little bit, but I could never bring myself to do it. There didn’t seem to be any downsides to this place; superior to us in every way possible!
“There will be a portal for your departure at the given airport with a specified gate, and you will be allowed two suitcases worth of items. However, you will not be allowed to bring anyone with you, which includes but is not limited to friends, family and pets. In regards to your current housing and employment commitments, it’s recommended you deal with those on your own terms, though should you not they will be handled for you.”
“And I’ll have zero contact with anyone back here?” Yes, nothing was here for me, but I was curious just how sealed off I’d be.
“There are communication channels between dimensions I’ve been told, but they aren’t exactly in abundance. It could be arranged, most likely, but I wouldn’t expect much. For all intents and purposes you will be relying on Libertalian services. It’s assumed you won’t have much difficulty adjusting to society there, and whatever may be unclear to you will be clarified by an official.”
“That’s good…” At least there wouldn’t be too much a culture shock when I get there.
“And also there’s an additional note on here,” Dr.Summers continued. “Libertalia suggests to all its newcomers that they come into their borders with a sense of optimism, open-mindedness and a receptive personality. Though, I’d say that goes just about anywhere. And if I look down here...” she flipped over the page. “Your scheduled departure is in two weeks. Just enough time to pack up everything here and say your goodbyes. If you need to.”
Two weeks? I was happy that it was so soon, but also disappointed at how I was already starting to feel a bit antsy, and I was itching to leave already.
“Oh! Will my technology work there? As in, can I bring my computer and phone?” They were probably the two most expensive possessions I owned, and it’d be a sad day if I had to part with them now.
“You’re more than welcome to bring your phone, it states here. But as for your computer I don’t know how customs there would take to that. I also believe there won’t be any adapters for you to use since the electricity runs a bit differently there.”
It was sad but I was expecting an answer like that. At some point I knew it couldn’t be all rainbows and gumdrops, I’d need to compromise somewhere.
“Besides, I’m sure you’ll be able to get much better technology there than you’ll be able to here. You’re going to be replacing your phone too.” she added.
“Out with the old and in with the new...” I reasoned. I was already making a mental list in my head of all the things I’d be bringing with me. My treasured computer not being one of them.
“And like I said earlier, Libertalian officials will be able to give you a better idea of your situation. You’re welcome to bring any forms of ID, passports, licenses and other documents if you wish, but they won’t carry much weight in a different dimension. You’ll be issued a new set of identification and updated medical records. You’re already pre-approved to get past airport security for the portal but if you’d feel better taking it then I suggest you do. With that, though, I think this is the end of our briefing from this dimension. Are there any questions you might have for me?”
“Uhhmm…” I tried to think of anything important either of us might have missed but nothing was coming to mind.
“Tell you what, between now and the date of your departure, feel free to contact me if you have anything you want to ask that I might be able to answer.” She already took one of my copies and was writing down an email and number on it.
“Thank you, so much for everything.” I said.
“All in a day’s work. Will you be needing transportation back to your home? Or can you make it from here on your own?”
“Transportation? I didn’t think I really warranted for something like that.” I couldn’t help but laugh uncomfortably. It felt like a sudden transition from rags to royalty.
“As of right now you’re considered an important individual on our soil, since you’re being expected somewhere else. I’ve been instructed to aid you in whatever might ease your transition from place to place.”
“Oh...well, would a ride be that much trouble?” It felt awkward for me to ask for something so privileged.
“Not at all,” she gave a professional smile. “Gather your belongings in here and come outside when you’re ready to go. I’ll have a car waiting for you.”
We shook hands and she excused herself from the room. I re-tied my shoes and slung my purse over my shoulder, sure to grab each and every important piece of information.
It was a long, quiet, ride home in Mr.Rogers car. Part of me expected Dr.Summers to be driving me but I knew it was foolish of me to think that. Of course she was a busy woman, too busy to spend every constant minute doting on me.
“Is this the place?”
I must have looked bewildered for a second, because I had to register that the voice was coming from Mr.Rogers, being the first time I heard him speak all day.
I looked out my passenger window and gazed up at the glorified block of cement I lived in, somewhere I wouldn’t have to get acquainted with for too much longer.
“Yep.” I said blankly, my feelings of disgust neutralized by my joy for departure. “Thanks for the ride!” I waved to him as I shut the door. Like clockwork he pulled back onto the road and was soon gone; lost in a sea of moving vehicles.
It was just about one o’clock now, and I already wanted to start chipping away at my list of things to do. I skipped my mailbox and went straight for the elevator, minus the rare kind of interaction I had with Jim a couple of days ago. It was only a matter of time until this shotty elevator broke, but hopefully I wouldn’t be around to have it happen. Practicing the same routine with the locks on my door, I was inside and locked up faster than you could say a-really-long-word.
“Hi mom,” I gave my usual bow to her picture after taking off my shoes and tossing my jacket. I didn’t waste much time going into my office and booting up my computer. I fired open a fresh text document and started drafting my two week’s notice.
“Remind me to start looking for a second suitcase…” I said to no one in the room.
With each passing day and night the time to leave came closer and closer. I felt like a kid waiting for Christmas, I felt like I could touch it, but at the same time it was miles away! When it came down to the final two days in my tiny apartment, a fraction of me started to become sentimental, but it didn’t do much to dampen my mood.
On the final, I had my suitcases packed with strictly the essentials. All my clothes, my few pairs of shoes, and basic amenities and the like. I knew Dr.Summers told me I wouldn’t be needing it, but I made sure to hold on to my documents. It didn’t exactly feel right leaving them behind, nor just destroying them. And on top of that I took the hard drives from my computer as well. And for the final item I made sure to save a spot between two cushions of shirts, which was the picture of my mom.
“I suppose you’re about as home as it gets.” I looked back at her. As long as I had this picture it never really felt like I was leaving anything behind, so when I zipped my second suitcase back up I knew everything was finished.
Apart from the pyjamas I was wearing, I set myself up with another casual outfit for the morning. I’d be leaving at eight in the morning and someone would be picking me up (Dr.Summers later told me about it) to go to the airport. My last night in this place...I still couldn’t bring myself to believe it. Things would finally be set into motion ten hours from now
I set my charging phone on the nightstand and let my head hit the pillow.
3 - Sayonara and Hello?
My heart was ready to burst from my chest while I shuffled from side to side in the elevator. It was the last time I’d be in here and I survived taking trips in it for four years! I had both suitcases at my sides with a purse over my shoulder, both extended arms in hand to move them on wheels. The doors opened to the decrepit lobby, as it never changed during my entire stay here except for getting worse.
Jim was on his computer, behind the desk like always. There was something about our unspoken interactions that I would miss, but would soon forget of course.
“Here ya go, Jim.” I said fishing the apartment keys from my pocket. “It’s been a pleasure!” I slid them over to his side.
“Good knowin’ ya too.” He didn’t bat even an eye towards me. Not the sentimental type. Makes things easier I suppose.
I didn’t take much more time to absorb the atmosphere for memories, on the contrary, I couldn’t get out the door fast enough. Surprisingly my driver seemed to be Mr.Rogers again, dressed in the same kind of suit like last time except for being a more bluish tone.
“Mr.Rogers, good to see you again!” I said, trying to be friendly with our reunion.
He gave me a basic smile and nod as he took my bags and already started loading them into the car.
“Do you have all your paperwork in your purse?” he asked, closing the trunk.
“Yep, wouldn’t think of keeping it anywhere else.” Honestly, there was no way in hell I’d be parting with my lifeline this far in the game.
With no regrets, I didn’t look back at the complex when we started to drive off. Instead I was much more focused on imagining what Libertalia would be like.
I browsed through my phone and saw I had a couple of messages. There were just a few from people I had exchanged numbers with from work. When your job is to keep secondary stock records for branch retail stores, you don’t exactly meet the most interesting people at age 26 in your department. Needless to say, they were from acquaintances wishing me the best of luck on my trip. I never elaborated that I’d be going to a different dimension, but they didn’t need to know that part.
I sent about the same kind of reply to each of them then kept browsing. After swiping by the weather widget on my phone it made me ask myself what the weather might be like when I got there. There was so much about this place I didn’t know and wanted to find out. I looked out the window and saw the usual gray atmosphere. Clouds more often than not were mixed with the nearby smokestacks to give the whole area a depressing feeling. On rare occasion did we ever get some strong sunlight here.
“Hey, Mr.Rogers, how long do you think the drive might be?” I was already bored from surfing through the few things on my phone.
“Should be a little over an hour. Not many airports have portals installed yet.”
“Alright…” I started to get myself comfy and nuzzled my head into the passenger’s side. Time would go by faster if I wasn’t around to experience it, so I started making headway on my shuteye.
“Ms.Sasaki, we’ve arrived.” I could feel my shoulder gently being nudged.
“Hnnn?” I groaned as I came to. We were parked at the drop-off entrance to an airport I’d never been to. Flight was expensive, which meant it never made its way into my life up until now. “I’m awake…” I yawned as I sat up and undid my seatbelt.
“I’ll take your bags from the trunk, just stay with me while we move.” Mr.Rogers said as he closed his door and escorted me out of mine. In each hand he had one of my suitcases as we started to intercept the bustling crowd. There was plenty of people and noise pollution as everyone had someplace to be. The flight schedule we were passing under constantly changed its bright red text. He took us over to a line of attendants and started handing them slips of paper to one of them.
“One departure for a Yoko Sasaki?” The attendant asked as he punched information into the computer.
“Yes, just her.” He said, standing patiently.
I was totally out of the loop already, so I chose not to start poking now.
“Head to the last gate in international, please.” The attendant smiled after reviewing the papers and handing them back to him. “Enjoy your trip.”
Despite being the flagship for interdimensional travel, that didn’t stop us from having to go through customs. Like Dr.Summers said though, I didn’t have to bother with showing any form of ID, as at every turn Mr.Rogers would show them some badge and give a few words which was enough to get us through. We’re they expecting us? It felt like things were going too smoothly considering this was airport security.
We passed into the international flights section and I looked down the long stretch of gates. Sure enough at the very end, guarded by portable dividers and officers there it was. I’d only seen pictures of the prototypes, but this one looked a tad bit newer. It was clearly favored functionality over form, as it almost looked like an extended door frame almost. I also happened to notice a few other people sitting by it as well.
Mr.Rogers cleared me through and handed me my bags as I walked to the seats by the portal, when I noticed I was getting curious looks from the people sitting already. There looked to be three of them, two were guys and the other a woman.
“Were you guys accepted into the program as well?” I asked, taking my seat.
“Yep! Happy as can be too.” the blonde-haired guy went off. “Name’s John, you?”
“Yoko, nice to meet you.” It felt good to be reminded I wasn’t the only person going to a completely different dimension.
“Interesting name, haha.” he remarked while he checked his phone.
“I’m Ana.” the brunette interrupted with an outstretched hand which I shook.
“Fred,” the last of them said. “Good to meet you.”
“So we’ve all been talking before you got here, and we hope you might know a bit more about what this place is like?” John asked, as I saw all their heads turn to me.
“Er, I don’t know much, really. Just that Libertalia’s supposed to be better than here?”
Fred let out a bit of a sigh of disappointment I knew wasn’t directed at me.
“They’ve really kept us in the dark on this, haven’t they?” he said to no one in particular.
“I’ll say…” Ana added while she tightened the laces on her shoes.
“How long have you guys been waiting here? For the portal, I mean.” I asked.
“Just about an hour. We all got here around the same time. I think they said you were the last one that needed to arrive.”
“Huh, I guess many weren’t accepted then from this area.” I aimlessly said when I looked my acquaintances over. “So, what do you all do for work?”
“I’m a carpenter,” John started. “I was let go from the union pretty recently though, so it was pretty convenient for something like this to come up for me.”
“An electrician,” Fred said next. “I feel confident to say I’m pretty good in the field, but from what I was told at my last meeting I might have to learn a few new things over here.”
“And I’m a teacher, an English teacher.” Ana said. “I’ve only been teaching for about five years though, so I’m still getting my feet wet. I’m honestly surprised I was able to qualify for something like this.”
They all came from pretty diverse areas, which left me a bit puzzled. They were never really specific on how they selected workers for the IWI Act, which seemed like a mystery no closer to being solved as I stared at them.
“I work with databases,” I said. “But since I got out of college, I haven’t had much luck finding a job that really met my standards…” Hopefully my assigned job would be much better than the one I just left.
“They must have wanted a pretty diverse spread,” John said, almost mimicking my thoughts.
“So was this a tough decision for any of you? Leaving this dimension that is?” Ana asked.
“Not for me.” Fred was the first to answer. “I might miss a few friends from back on the coast, but it’s already been years since I’ve seen them anyways. My dad just passed recently anyways.”
“I can relate to that. Maybe a few friends here and there, but never had much of a family to begin with.” John said.
It was my turn next it seemed. “I only ever had my mother since we moved across the country. And I lost her at a pretty young age, so there’s nothing holding me back, so to speak.” I was starting to see a common pattern among all of us; no reason to stay here.
“Mhm, without going into too much detail, I don’t have anyone to really stay for here. I’d rather be farther away, actually. Moving across dimensions is one way to do it I guess.” she added a simple laugh to the end of her comment.
The atmosphere was starting to feel melancholic with our dejected words, but the mood was shaken up when a perky looking man joined us past the guards.
“Hello everyone. Good to see you all. You can call me Donald and I’ll be seeing that you all cross through the portal today!” the man said in an ushered tone.
“You’ll be crossing over with us?” John asked.
“Unfortunately, I will not.” Donald said. “However, there will be someone to receive you all on the other side, so there shouldn’t be any issues. I just got off the communication channel from the other side and they’re ready to go.”
I looked over at a nearby panel on the portal, and could see a green light coming from it. And like clockwork the portal suddenly made a whizzing noise as the interior came to life and a flowing green wall materialized.
“Looks like that’s them! Everyone get your luggage together, we’ll have you pass in one at a time.”
I could see we were starting to get stares from nearby gates, people wondering what they were seeing.
“We can’t keep these open for too long. Time is money after all, let’s get things a move on. Here, we’ll start with you.”
Donald wasn’t giving us much time to digest what we were currently seeing. It looked almost like green water fixed in place with a bright light buried at the center of it. He placed a hand on Ana’s shoulder and had her and her suitcase moving to the portal.
“I need you to keep your eyes and mouth closed while you walk through. Keep moving until it feels like you’re out of the water. Good luck!” He gave the unprepared woman a pat on the back as she stepped through. Curiously we all watched as we saw her figure fade the farther she went. It was only until then I realized from the angle I was standing at, she was walking an impossibly farther distance than the actual portal frame was!
We waited a few minutes after she was completely gone from sight, and John and his duffel bag came next.
“Deep breaths pal! Good luck!” Donald sent him off next, until it was just me and Fred.
While Fred was getting ready, I suddenly thought to attach one of my suitcases to the other, almost like a train. I didn’t know what it’d be like walking through this thing, but I didn’t want to take any chances. By the time I was done, Fred was gone and I was all that was left.
“Alright, you’re our last traveller! Remember, eyes and mouth closed, take a deep breath and just keep moving forward. Ready?”
“Not really…” I admitted, my heart was beating a mile a minute as I couldn’t comprehend what was happening fast enough.
“Don’t overthink it,” he said, guiding me in front of the portal, the handle of my suitcase in hand. “Safe travels, and thanks for flying with Earth!” He gave me a slight push and the gel-like substance swallowed me.
It almost felt like a pulling sensation, as if I was being led forward. I kept my eyes and mouth tightly shut, as I walked forward. It almost felt like moving through water except I wasn’t wet. The light I saw earlier was getting brighter as it peaked through my eyes.
This is actually happening...I’m leaving Earth...no, I’m leaving the dimension! There was no turning back...So long old life...It was the worst moment to even have an inkling of second thoughts, but I drowned those worries and kept pushing forward.
Suddenly along the way my walk between dimensions suddenly felt noticeably heavier as the hand holding my suitcases had to use a considerable amount of more force. The swishing noise in my ears from shifting fluid started to die down until it was completely gone. Instead it was replaced by the noises of people moving about, feet walking across hard surfaces and distant conversations.
“Yoko, hon? You there? It’s safe to open your eyes now.” A voice above me said. Slowly, I opened my eyes as I looked at my surroundings. What caught me off guard though were two large tan poles standing in front of me, connected to shoes significantly larger than mine. Shoes?
I took a few steps back to realize what they really were. They weren’t poles, but a pair of giant legs! My face didn’t hide my expression as I slowly connected the dots that those legs led to a waist, torso, head and arms.
“Wha…” I couldn’t find the words out of sheer disbelief. There was a giant woman in front of me!
“Oh dear…” the woman got down to her knees as she still looked a bit down on me with furrowed brows. “You certainly are a tiny one? Aren’t you?”
“Why...why are you so big?” I finally caught my breath, and started to realize she wasn’t the only big person here. Past her shoulders were two guards looking to be chatting casually, who looked to be about just as tall as the giant in front of me.
“I think you have it mixed up, silly.” she joked with a smile. “You’re the one who’s so small! Heavens, I guess even Portal Littles are just as small as they are here. Though...I’d say even then you’d be considered a bit short.
“Little?” I asked in confusion. Hadn’t I seen that word from somewhere before?
“Oh! I’m sorry, I should’ve known you might not know much about Libertalia. Let’s go somewhere a bit more isolated to calm you down. Would you like me to carry you?”
Carry me? My head felt like it was spinning. Nothing looked right and I didn’t feel right. It wasn’t just the people that were big, everything was big. I felt like a kid despite having all my lady parts…
“Uh, no. I’m fine, I can walk. “I thanked her while I tried to find my land legs.
The woman looked the slightest bit hesitant to my answer until she agreed and got back on her feet.
“But I would like to insist you at least let me carry your luggage, please. It doesn’t seem like it came out in a very uniform fashion.”
I turned around and was almost wide-eyed at how one of the suitcases looked to be about as big as me! The closer one was still its normal size, but the other one could have been my coffin!
“What happened to my suitcase? My stuff!” I said in a panic as I rushed over to it. I was already starting to unzip the top until a much larger hand stopped me.
“I think it’d be better if you look through your belongings somewhere else. This portal needs to be used again pretty soon, let’s go to my office first.” She zipped the giant suitcase back up for me and grabbed its handle, already swinging it into motion. “I’m okay with you walking, but I need you to stay close to me, you hear?” she said looking back for confirmation.
I shook my head yes, seeing as she was the only thing I came close to understanding right now, as it felt like this went well beyond what I considered culture shock. I could feel the towering gaze from both guards as we walked between them.
As I did my best to keep up with her enormous stride, I looked from side to side and noticed the diverse heights amongst the crowds. There were people about as small as me, and others just as tall, if not taller than the woman I was currently following. Everything made me feel dwarfed, as any one of these giants looked like they could crush me like a bug.
The giants I managed to make eye contact with strangely gave me smiles and waves between the moments I was focused on my guide. Another giant woman was walking our way as it looked like she was holding the leash to a toddler. I could see he was just a little boy the closer we got, apparently well-padded too, considering the bulge from his shortalls. But I was a little frightened to see he was actually taller than me. And then, I couldn’t help but feel a chill run down my spine as I saw his face.
It didn’t add up? If he was a toddler, just a baby, why did his face look so defined? As we passed by each other and I was hit with a waft of lavender scent, our eyes only made contact for the briefest moment. But in that moment, there was a look of fear in his eyes...I could see his brows, his jawline, cheeks, they were much too refined and mature to be that of a baby.
“What the…” I pulled my eyes from him and started to look around a bit more attentively. Many big people were carrying some form of charge with them. It was only because I wasn’t wearing my glasses that I couldn’t see them as closely as the first toddler, or manbaby. But what I couldn’t mistake was that on some of the female babies was their obvious figure. Curves, breasts, you never saw something like that on babies…I decided to stop sightseeing as the more I saw there were only more questions than answers.
“Well aren’t you the tiniest little thing!” A thicker pair of legs came between me and my moving suitcases.
“Ah, what…?” I found myself being towered over by another giant woman, who looked to be a bit more plump.
“Such an adorable Little! You look like a doll! Your black hair looks so smooth! There aren’t many Littles out there with your size and looks after all...” the random stranger cooed as my arms were suddenly being played with against my will.
“Hey! Quit it bitch!” My confusion quickly sidestepped for anger as I didn’t appreciate being handled.
“Oh! Feisty, aren’t you? All you Littles are bark and no bite, just waiting to be put in their place,” she scowled. “Why don’t you let me help you get where you need to go?” She held her arms open as her tone changed on a dime from bitter to sweet. It was then I noticed a large bag hanging by her side, something about it feeling unnerving.
Apart from simple principle to never trust a stranger, everything about this woman screamed deception. From the brief interaction we shared I knew to keep at an arm’s length from her. And besides, what even was a Little? I was starting to get an idea, but I was still hoping for clarification.
“Excuse me,” a familiar voice from behind the stranger interrupted. “She’s with me.”
The plump giant turned around so we could both see the attendant who had my luggage. I didn’t think I’d be so happy to see someone I just met, but I was quick to move around the giant and to her side.
“Oh...I was just trying to make sure she wasn’t lost!” the woman quickly sympathized, lying through her teeth.
“Right.” She didn’t seem convinced. “She’s already licensed though. Nice try.”
It seems whatever the attendant said it was like poison to her. Her forced smile quickly dropped as she looked more annoyed than anything. “Fine! I wasn’t even interested anyways. She’ll be in diapers soon enough anyways!” The giant huffed off with obvious frustration in her step, the large bag swinging at her side.
“Thanks…” was all I could say. I was starting to feel tired from everything that was happening. “What the hell was she talking about? What’s a Little? What’d she mean about diapers? And how come I’m licensed?”
“I think for your own safety and our convenience I should carry you the rest of the way.” she said while ignoring my questions, hoisting me into the air with one hand.
I let out a yelp from the sudden change in height, but chose not to resist once I realized how far my feet were off the ground. Instinctively I grabbed her broad shoulders, past her large chest that was in the way, beginning to feel even more helpless.
“So, I never caught your name…” I tried my best to remain composed, even though the person I was trying to talk with was carrying me like a kid.
“Ms.Boon,” she smiled to me as I smelt her faint perfume. “But you can call me Sarah, if you’d like.”
“Nice to meet you Sarah,” I found myself staring again now that Sarah was doing the legwork for us. It was also clear how much faster we were moving now. If I had to wager a guess, I’d have said she was probably moving slower for my sake. Even then I couldn’t help but notice that I was catching an extra breath or two now. Walking was my number one means of transportation, but going at her pace was a whole new level for me.
We reached what I guess was an elevator, as we waited and the door opened. The space felt five times bigger than what I was used to, as we were the only ones inside and Sarah pressed a button on the elevator panel. We were going up a few levels, as I looked out the glass side and could see us moving a bit off the ground.
“Where are we?” I couldn’t help but find myself asking, struck with a sense of curiosity as I marveled at the giants who were suddenly ants.
“Libertalia,” she said blankly. “Didn’t you know you were coming here?”
“I know, but, where are we? Like, specifically?” I didn’t turn my eyes away from the shrinking giants below.
“We’re at one of Libertalia’s Portal Hubs. People use them here to travel either long distances or to other dimensions.”
“Wait, there are more than two dimensions?” I asked with a bit of disbelief in my voice. I never considered there being any more than our two!
“Of course. We’ve been in contact with a few different places lately. If I remember your file correctly you come from Earth? We mostly use planes like you guys to travel within our dimension.”
I guess on some level we weren’t so different after all, but that didn’t do much to change obvious the gap in our size.
“Why are you so big? And I’m so small?” I asked, realizing the much more important question. “And what about the people that came through the portal before me? Where are they? We should have only been a few minutes apart from each other?”
For whatever reason Sarah couldn’t help but smirk out of a sense of amusement. “You Littles have so many questions! Portal ones especially.”
I wasn’t sure how to feel about constantly being referred to as a ‘Little.’ While I’d been considerably ‘little’ my entire life, it was starting to feel a bit demeaning here based on who it came from. Regardless, I reserved judgement and allowed her to answer.
“Your other friends didn’t come between minutes of each other, hours actually. You included. We suspect it might have to do with the technology you guys were using, and it wasn’t as efficient as ours. Infact, that’s probably why some of your luggage didn’t make the smoothest transition here.” she said, giving a slight tug to the much larger of the two suitcases.
I felt knots in my stomach again, just from looking at it. If the suitcase didn’t come out my size, what was to be said about everything inside of it? Should that be the case, half of my wardrobe would already be unusable…
“We’ll get it figured out.” Sarah assured me as the doors opened. It didn’t look like much of a public section compared to where we just were, as it looked like an array of offices that were pretty quiet. Sarah opened one of the doors and brought us into an office with a large, near-empty desk which she put my suitcases on.
“Our offices aren’t as busy today, a lot of us have been preoccupied with getting all of you guys settled. You can look through your stuff here while I pull up your file,” Sarah said as she sat me on her desk and opened up a giant laptop.
I looked over the edge and realized just how far up I was, so much that I wouldn’t go unscathed should I fall.
“Hey,” a hand tugged on the collar of my jacket. “Not so close to the edge, please?”
I tried to hide my embarrassment from being chastised, as I brought my attention back to my luggage. I opened the much more sizeable one first and looked through its contents. Thankfully my business clothes were intact and everything here looked fine, but I didn’t have the same hopes for my other one.
Unzipping the larger container, I used both hands to flip the top over so I could see what had happened, and my worst fears were confirmed.
“Damnit…” I whined to myself as I looked at all my clothes. They were completely unusable now, being almost twice my size. What was once a regular shirt for me now hung like a dress, and my running shoes would make me look like a clown! But the worst had yet to be seen, once I found the picture of my mother in between clothes.
“Oh no…” I tried my best not to cry when I dug her frame out. The picture was half as tall as me now, and it took both hands to carry!
“Hey, hey...It’s okay. You can still hang the photo? Right? You’re just a bit smaller now, that’s all.”
“What do you mean?” I sniffled. “I’m just a mere fraction of my size now!”
“Well, the portal can alter your height a little bit if you’re not a native from here. There’s no helping that.”
I stood up in front of Sarah, nearly at eye-level now that she was sitting and me on a desk.
“You call this a little bit? I’ve gone from five feet to one! Just look at me!”
“I wouldn’t say you’ve changed that much. You seem about three feet to me. Granted, that is on the smaller end for even Littles.”
“I can’t be three feet tall! You’re what, five foot-eight? Compare yourself to me!”
A look of realization suddenly came over Sarah’s face.
“What?” I asked, reading her expression.
“Yoko, is that how tall you really think I am?”
“Well, yeah?” I was starting to feel a bit flustered.
“Hon, I’m about Eleven feet.”