Against her better instincts and training, she shrieked at the stark realization of how close she’d come to being flattened. A yelp rang out far above her in return and the human jumped in surprise as Zepheera scrambled to turn back to the shelf. Before she could get far, she was engulfed in darkness and pinned down by something soft and fluffy.
Dazed but unhurt by the impact, it slowly dawned on Zepheera that the human had dropped a box of stuffed animals on top of her, probably a knee-jerk reaction in his shock. Thank goodness it had landed top down rather than dropping straight down. Zepheera definitely wouldn’t have survived that alternative.
Zepheera squirmed and struggled to free herself from her fuzzy prison when the ground shook beneath her and light flooded her senses. The stuffed animal, now noticeably a bear, was lifted away and set aside, revealing a wide set of green eyes that met Zepheera’s startled violets. She heaved an exhausted sigh. Of course, as fate would have it, she’d been seen by John Smith.
Honestly, it could be worse. She’d rather him than a perfect stranger. But he might as well be a stranger to her. Unlike the Doctor, he’d never met anybody less than six inches high.
John stared openly at the tiny woman on the floor, wondering if she was hurt. He wasn’t entirely sure if she was real, but her lack of movement concerned him. It struck him that ‘she’ was actually a highly detailed toy, a doll he hadn’t noticed and that he’d simply imagined had screamed. To be sure, he reached a hand toward her; for a moment he thought he saw her flinch, the tiniest of motions from the tiniest of people, but he’d never find out for certain.
The voice pulled John’s attention away from Zepheera as he straightened and turned toward the speaker. She took the opportunity to disappear, dashing toward the shelf closer to the corner she’d seen the cybermat disappear behind.
“Craig!” John exclaimed excitedly, not even questioning why his friend and temporary housemate was there at his work. “You’re never gonna believe this! C’mere! Carefully, though, don’t want to frighten–”
He cut himself short as he looked back to the spot where he’d left the small woman and she was gone. He frowned. “Miss?” he whispered, leaning over the mess of stuffed animals to scan the floor for the tiny, possibly injured person. “Where’d you go? I won’t hurt you, I promise. Cross my heart.” Zepheera risked a peek, freezing when his head and shoulders nearly filled her view.
“Who are you talking to, John?” Craig pressed, bringing the stroller closer.
John glanced back at Craig and Zepheera popped back into hiding. After a moment, she heard John quietly reply, “No one…sorry, must be seeing things.”
“Maybe you need a break,” said Craig, “Let me buy you lunch.” His voice was closer, and a rustling sound could be heard. They must be cleaning up the stuffed animals, she guessed, and soon enough she felt their footsteps rumble away. Once she was sure she was alone, Zepheera made her way toward the end of the shelf. Hopefully that cybermat hadn’t gotten far in all the confusion.
And hopefully, she hadn’t ruined her chances of getting through this with as little drama as possible.