There was silence for a few moments, broken only by the creaking of Don's chair and the pounding of Randi's heart.
"God, I am such an idiot," Don suddenly said, smacking himself in the face. "Of course you'd be scared, wouldn't you? Look, I'm going to back away from the desk, okay? I'm not going to hurt you. Stay under there if you want, I'm just going to talk."
She didn't reply. Randi couldn't understand why he didn't just rip her cover away and grab her.
"Okay, let me introduce myself first," he went on. His voice was shaky, and he hesitated often. Apparently, he was nervous, a fact which surprised Randi immensely. "I'm Don Kendall, and I live here in North Hollywood. I've been working here at the post office for two years, and you are without a doubt the most interesting thing that's ever happened the whole time I've been here."
Randi listened cautiously, her fear level slowly dropping off until she was no longer terrified beyond belief, merely scared out of her wits. She said nothing, wondering only why Don did not lift up the trays and pick her up.
After waiting for a reply and getting none, Don went on from the other side of the room. "I could tell you weren't a toy," he said nervously. "You were trying to stay still, but you moved, and besides, you're warm. Are you a real person, or a fairy or something like that? I didn't see any wings, so probably not."
Randi almost laughed at that. Her fear was draining away slowly, being gradually replaced with a sort of detached resignation. Don could do anything he wanted to her, she thought. That he had not already seized her said only that he was not as violent as Ron had been. Still, there was something in his voice, something that almost sounded like concern, or maybe compassion.
No, Randi thought, she was not ready to believe that. She refused to get her hopes up that way.
"Okay, just stay under there as long as you feel comfortable," Don went on. "I'm really sorry if I was rough with you earlier. I thought you were just a kid's toy until I looked closer, but you're just too perfect for that." He seemed to stammer, almost embarrassed by his words. "Uh, what I mean is, you were too, um, detailed, you know?"
Randi felt a new surge of fear. It was obvious what he was talking about. She cursed the fact that she'd worn such a scanty outfit, but she had never had a chance to go back and change it. Besides which, there probably wouldn't have been much of an alternative, anyway.
"Look," he went on, "I can't stay in here too much longer. My boss is a real asshole. He'll think I'm goofing off and come looking for me pretty soon. If you'll just tell me who you are and what you're doing here, maybe I can help you."
For the first time, Randi felt a vague, indistinct feeling of hope. Like a drowning woman, she clutched at this as though it were a life preserver. Could he possibly be telling the truth? Well, what if he wasn't? He could take her at any time, couldn't he? She had nothing to lose by chancing it.
Cautiously, she crawled over to the edge of the tray and looked out. Don was standing on the far side of the desk, staring at her hiding place. As soon as he saw her tiny face, he stepped forward tentatively, then stopped again. "Come on out, I won't hurt you," he practically begged.
Forcing down her fears, and clinging desperately to that one faint possibility of hope, Randi pulled herself out into the light and stood, looking up at the towering shape of Don. At once she felt smaller than ever. Dressed in her red athletic shorts, lace-up halter top, gloves, and riding boots, she also felt incredibly foolish and embarrassed. She would have blushed if she hadn't been so scared.
"Hi," Don said nervously, taking another step closer and looking down at her intently.
"Hello," she answered weakly, giving a tentative little wave. To Randi, her voice sounded as tiny and pathetic as she must have appeared. "W-what do you want with me?"
"Nothing," Don insisted hastily, leaning forward. As he did, he seemed to loom over Randi, and she backed away in a panic, slipping and falling to the table. Unconsciously, Don reached out to help her, and she screamed in terror.
He backed away quickly, and Randi scrambled up against the tray, looking up at him in fear. "I'm sorry," he told her from the other side of the desk. "I won't make any more sudden moves, okay?"
"A-all right," Randi managed, trying to calm herself down. Her heart was racing so fast she thought it would burst.
After a moment's pause, Don spoke again. "Like I said, I'm Don Kendall," he said tentatively. "What's your name, if you don't mind my asking?"
She pressed herself back up against the plastic tray. "R-Randi M-MacPherson," she stammered.
"Randi? Is that right?" he asked, moving closer. He pulled the chair over and sat down in it, careful not to spook her again with any sudden movements. "Sorry, I could barely hear you."
"Yes, that's right," she answered, louder this time. " Randi MacPherson. I-I'm an actress. Trying to be, anyway."
"Well, umm, if you don't mind my asking," he said again, fidgeting in the chair, "how did you get to be, uh, you know..." He stopped, seemingly unable to find the words to continue. He held his hands up, parallel to each other, and moved them towards each other as if compressing something.
Randi looked up at him strangely. He seemed even more embarrassed than she was, yet he did not take his eyes off her even once. "You mean, how did I get to be only three inches tall?" she prompted.
"Yeah, that's it, I guess," he agreed.
She inclined her head slightly. For some odd reason, she was beginning to feel more at ease. She should still have been terrified, she knew, but there was something in Don's attitude that was steadily calming her nerves. Could it be that he was actually afraid of her? No, probably not that, but he was definitely uncomfortable, that was for sure.
"Okay, I'll tell you," Randi ventured. She had nothing better to do, and besides, talking to him seemed to be calming her down. "Like I said, I'm an actress. I was supposed to be in a movie about someone who shrinks people. Only it wasn't a movie, really. It was some kind of crazy experiment. Then these scientists shrunk us down to this size."
"'Us'?" Don inquired curiously. At once he glanced around at the floor; but, seeing nothing, his gaze quickly returned to the tiny form on the desk.
"Um, yeah, there were two others with me," Randi told him. "I lost them this morning when the little girl grabbed me."
"Oh yeah," he said with a nod. "This woman said her kid lost a doll through the mail slot. We were supposed to keep an eye out for it. That's what I thought you were, at first."
"Well, I'm not," replied Randi. "I was pretending, hoping you wouldn't look too closely. It worked with the girl's mother, anyway."
"Sorry, I couldn't help myself," he admitted shyly. "You were just so--so--"
What he was going to say never came out. The door suddenly burst open, causing Randi to cry out in terror and drop to the ground. Instinctively, she rolled underneath the plastic tray, her whole body shaking with renewed fright.
"What the hell are you doing in here?" demanded the angry voice of Don's supervisor. Fortunately, he had not seen Randi's tiny form disappear into hiding.
Don had jumped to his feet when the door opened. "Nothing!" he insisted quickly. "Just taking a break! Geez, I've been on my feet since I came in!"
"Well, get back out there! I don't want my boss pissed because we were late again!"
"Okay, okay!" said Don, very annoyed at being interrupted. He glanced down at the trays as he moved around the desk. Without knowing whether Randi could see him, he gave her a reassuring smile. Then he was gone.
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