Prompt: There is a futuristic civilization with tiny people and a primitive collection of human-sized tribes
From the moment he was captured, the life of Second Housefly Admiral Narbin Deez had been nothing but iterations of rank darkness. He’d been plucked out of the wreckage of his ship and immediately dumped into a sweaty shirt pocket from which he could not clamber out. After that he’d been transferred into a sock with ten other prisoners, some of whom were not human. The praying mantis in the bunch certainly ate its fill.
Currently he was held, alone, inside a match box. He knew it was a matchbox because of that unmistakable smell of potential fire. They left him a solitary match as company, a thing as tall as him that he could barely wield even if given the opportunity. It was his first chance to reflect on the crash.
A Housefly was a beautiful sleek vessel with twin thrumming wing engines. It was actually more bird-sized, but it sounded distinctly like a fly, a sound that roared in Narbin’s ears if he didn’t wear the protective ear gear. It was a simple scouting mission, a search for fo-fum footprints, but everything went to Hell when an actual fo-fum popped out of a bush and slapped their craft out of the air. Narbin didn’t have the chance to see how many of his crew perished in the fall before he was captured by the lumbering beast.
The matchbox shuddered. Its angle changed, flinging Narbin up against its papery wall. He was thrown back and forth as the monster lurched towards some unknown destination. He heard other fo-fums howling, laughing, and belching. The matchbox opened like a drawer and he was dumped out onto what had probably been a student’s desk from a public school seven hundred years ago.
Narbin blinked repeatedly to adjust to the light. Most of it was blocked by giant fleshy faces, their teeth either yellow, cracked, or missing. The gargantuan fools had given up dental care along with basically everything else. He nearly tripped over the match that had fallen out with him.
“See here,” he declared, pointing to the nearest white and green wall of an eyeball. “I am an admiral of the Multitudinous Minuscule and I will not be bug-handled this way. You’ll all see death by innocuous mosquito injection if you don’t release me at once.” His captors couldn’t even make out his words over the guffawing.
“Bring in the next challenger,” one of the fo-fums bellowed: a woman with hair like a mop coated in dried mustard. The sight of them made the admiral sick to his needle-eye stomach. He couldn’t believe that, but for one decision those generations ago, he could’ve been one of these towering things. Every family had a choice back then, when one of their number was pregnant. You could take the injections, you could scale down, scale up your wealth and reputation, or you could remain a natural human.
That was in the days of the endlessly swelling crowds. Humanity was more than ten billion, and nature was reduced merely to sprouts and spores. The injections changed all that. Where a regular-sized person had to invest everything just to get a closet-sized space and enough algal bread to eat, a minuscule could live like a god-king of the ancient nations. Even half a closet was a vast estate. One crumb of food was a Thanksgiving dinner.
Their new governing body, the Multitudinous Minuscule, suddenly had limitless resources. Every new child that chose to leave the literal clutch of their parents was met with riches, education, and a home where being alone was never a problem. Narbin had never asked why. Clearly things made much more sense on their new scale. Their numbers were now in the hundreds of billions, yet they took far less space than before.
Those who didn’t convert splintered into innumerable groups, their numbers shrinking thanks to the lack of resources. Now they were practically tribal, occasionally offending the borders of the minuscule. These brutes before the admiral seemed tot be the worst of all, especially as one of them dropped the next ‘challenger’ onto the desk.
Narbin found himself face to face with a ravenous purple house centipede. The fo-fums leaned in. This was their entertainment, as they’d long ago lost the infrastructure for internet, and they certainly weren’t willing to put in the work for books.
The crawling thing had innumerable feathery legs that blurred as it rushed towards its prey, spiny limbs outstretched. Narbin tried to run to the edge, but fat thumbs and fingers covered in splinters and paper cuts just pushed him back. He had no choice but to fight, and nothing to fight with but the match. He only managed to lift it just as the centipede reached him. He fell backward, holding the creature at bay by propping it up on the match head like a tent.
Its sleek, translucent, purple mandibles clicked viciously, but Narbin saw its insectoid efficiency as less outwardly disgusting than the swimming pool-sized nostrils of the fo-fums. He heaved with all his might, his knuckles going white, and tossed the writhing centipede away. There was only enough time for one maneuver, but his reflexes were excellent; he’d never skipped a single class of arthropod self-defense.
He flipped the unwieldy match around and forced its head across the scratches in the desk. It erupted into bright yellow flame that instantly took all the hair off Narbin’s arms and blasted the eyebrows off his face. He knelt and held it steady as a lance.
The centipede shied away from the fire, scrambling to the side and falling over once it felt the heat. Narbin dragged it forward while it lasted, urging the centipede further and further away. They could deliver painful scratches even to fo-fums, so no hands prevented the challenger from running off the side of the desk and getting squashed.
Narbin dropped the match as its flame went out. He could barely catch his breath, especially with its acrid burning smoke. He wasn’t allowed to recover. He would fight until he was dead. Then he would be wiped away with a napkin and forgotten.
That would’ve been his fate, if not for the fact that the minuscule, despite their reduced size, still had a soft spot for pets. The next challenger brought into the ring was a hamster with chocolate brown fur and cream-white patches. It was bigger than a horse to Narbin, and he immediately noticed it still had its collar. That was his chance. He’d taken just as many lessons in rodent-riding after all.
The fluffy friendly thing ambled towards him, ready to squish its cheek against his chest, but Narbin had to make it look good. He screamed as if it bit him, despite the fact he was merely tickled by its whiskers. The fo-fums laughed; they still suspected nothing. He pretended to slip free of its jaws, barely escaping being crumpled up in its cheek pouches, and mounted it.
There was a name on the collar: Hightail. Beautiful beautiful Hightail. He couldn’t see much of a tail at the moment, but who was he to judge? He pretended the hamster tried to buck him off, and so threw one hand in the air like it was a rodeo. With the other he manipulated the tracking technology in Hightail’s collar. Most animals had at least microchips, which were just chips to the minuscule, to keep them from getting lost. Narbin transmitted his coordinates.
He put on a show for another two minutes, but the hamster’s unending playfulness was revealing the charade. The laughter faded. Narbin and the hamster weren’t dying fast enough for the fo-fums. It seemed all would be lost once a giant hand shadow appeared over them.
Something else snuck in under the shadow. It was a Hummingbird! She was a beautiful ship with iridescent sides and the fastest thrumming engines the minuscule could craft. Its hull door opened and the owners of the hamster blew a piercing whistle. The rodent responded immediately, flopping to the side and then leaping into the cargo hold.
The ship zoomed away before even closing its doors. The clamoring fo-fums below whined, but could not reach. Admiral Narbin slid off the hamster and rested against its plush flank. A medic appeared beside him and started checking his vitals.
“What happened?” the woman asked, the back of her hand against his sweaty forehead.
“I hightailed it out of there!”
Author’s Note: This flash fiction story was written based on a prompt provided by Xenonquark996 during a livestream. I hereby transfer all story rights to them, with the caveat that it remain posted on this blog. If you would like your own story, stop by twitch.tv/blainearcade during one of my streams and I’ll write it for you live!