A First Borrowing

2. Curiosity – Nate’s first excursion into the human world

AU: ??? (Nathan Sullivan is a borrower in a world in which borrowers are common knowledge)


Twelve years old was rather young for Nathan to learn to borrow, but he wouldn’t take no for an answer.

He was far from rebellious or daring by nature. Quiet and respectful of the rules, of which there were many. With borrowers being known to humans, it was sort of necessary.

Nate understood that, even though the humans had mostly agreed to leave borrowers alone, that it was still dangerous out in the world. Even so, he argued that it would do no harm for him to get a head start on learning to survive. Evidently that was hard enough to argue with that he got his way in the end.

Truth be told, Nate was dying for a glimpse of the human world. It was all so much bigger than the community he grew up in, in more ways than one. Humans had far more at their fingertips than Nate could ever hope to underground. The most exciting learning experience he had to look forward to was studying a trade. He had a deep hunger in his mind that longed for more to learn.

So one could imagine Nathan’s excitement when the first place his father took him to borrow was full of homework. Spanning several grades, the dining room table was full of the stuff to the point that Nate’s father repeatedly chided him to focus on filling his bag with materials.

Compared to that, the rest of the flat was fairly standard. It was a decent distance from the community so it couldn’t easily be traced if worst came to worst. There wasn’t much to learn about the humans that lived here, but it seemed to Nate that it was mostly kids.

In their last room before they returned, Nate noticed something that his father, knowingly or not, overlooked. It looked like a scrap of loose leaf paper folded two or three times, tucked in the space behind a small bookshelf, with a colorful “Hello!” scrawled on the front in pencil crayon.

Intrigue got the best of him and, checking to see if his father was looking, Nate unfolded the paper. It read, in carefully printed block letters:

My name is Stan. I am ten years old. I don’t know any borowers, I promise I’m nice! Will you be my friend?

“Leave it.”

Nate’s father’s voice melted the endeared smile he didn’t notice was forming. He hurried to fold the note back as it was. His dad gave a gesture for Nate to follow, and he knew they were about to leave.

Before he obeyed, Nathan hesitated. He wasn’t usually impulsive, especially when it came to safety. This kid seemed sweet, though. Perhaps he really was nice.

Nathan wasn’t sure if he’d ever find out, but for now, he surreptitiously took a pencil tip from his bag and scrawled a quick and small “Hi” next to the larger, more colorful greeting.

Inktober 2018 Day 1

1. Discovery – Something amazing happens to Stan Baker.

AU: ???

Trigger Warning: Mentions of bullying and physical/emotional violence


Stan was in a heavy mood when he returned home.

His dragging footsteps were heavy, his bedroom door banged heavily as it shut, his backpack dropping to the floor and the way Stan tossed himself into bed were both almost as heavy as his heart.

At thirteen years old, he’d long since gotten used to bullies. He could hardly recall a time in his educational career that he hadn’t been picked on for one reason or another. He was small for his age, slim as a twig, and his pale complexion and bright hair made him stick out all the more among his peers. It barely mattered that his brothers were teaching him how to defend himself; any muscle he gained from training and fighting seemed too lean to make a visible difference.

Stan heaved a long sigh and buried his face in his pillow, hugging it close.

By the time he’d flipped a few of his bullies and seemed to deter them from coming after him, they all shifted gears. With hormones raging high and everyone hyperfocused on popularity and who liked who, Stan was physically picked on less and instead became the subject of harsh words and rumors that knocked him down the social hierarchy.

The harsh words stung and stuck with Stan and hurt worse than any bruise. They hurt because some of them were true. They swirled around Stan’s head long after he heard them, and they made him feel so small.

Microscopic.

A strange sensation made Stan peel his shining cheek away from his pillow. If he didn’t know better, he’d think it was getting bigger.

Stan bolted upright and realized the blanket was expanding beneath him. His heart jumped into his throat and began pounding, and Stan could swear it all started to go faster. He could feel the fabric passing past his hands and even gave himself a quick pinch in the arm amidst his slight panic. It was impossible to deny.

He really was getting smaller and smaller!

He gave a yelp when it all came to a sudden stop, the vertigo knocking him flat on his back. His arms flailed as he righted himself, green eyes wide as he looked around. The ceiling was so far away now, and all at once the room that had so often been his sole safe space became an alien landscape, made up of massive structures and bizarre shapes.

Stan had no idea how long he sat there, awestruck. Before terror and confusion could override, he had to admit that seeing things from a few inches tall was pretty cool.


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