It started at the organization meeting with my buddy, the mad scientist wilderness outfitter.
Every autumn we make a hiking trip into the National Forest. We were organizing our packing assignments: you bring the water filter, I’ll bring the camp stove; you bring the bear bag, I’ll bring the hanging line and monkey fist (not to be confused with “the monkey paw”, that’s a whole ‘nother story, not sci-fi but macabre). I’m a real pack mule and don’t mind carrying weight. He is the opposite.
Mad scientist wilderness outfitter asks, “What if we could shrink down our gear so it was really really small, then it’d be so much lighter and we wouldn’t have to be backpacked beasts of burden?”
bb-burro replies, “Well, the food would be small so we’d have to bring so much more of it to fill us up that’d we’d just end up carrying the same amount anyway.”
Mad scientist wilderness outfitter asks, “What if we shrink ourselves when it’s time to eat, then we’d fill up on the tiny portions and it’d balance out.”
bb-burro replies, “Well, uh, hmm … I see what you mean! Teeny portions in tiny backpacks to fill-up infinitesimally small stomachs. Catching a little zzz’s in pocket-sized sleeping bags in baby tents! Great idea, let’s do it!”
And we did. And it worked.
Starting out, we strolled like slack-packers along the trail at our normal human size, never having to wonder if a matchbox would hold our clothes [blues song lyric reference]. It would and it did. I was light as a feather with a weeks worth of gear in my front pocket. He carried the shrinker contraption. Non-disclosure Agreements prevent me from revealing details on the device, but I can say that I got the better end of the deal, i.e.: it’s bigger than a matchbox. And heavier. But it was just a prototype – which he barely knew how to operate.
When the sun began dropping we shrank ourselves to match our mini-gear, made a roaring fire from the handful of twigs we’d gathered prior to reduction, and had a tiny good time being small.
There were bumps along the learning curve of shrinkabilityness.
Live and learn, for example: don’t let the mad scientist wilderness outfitter get into the flask of firewater prior to reduction. Somehow the proofiness of 80 proof hooch doesn’t lessen in proportion to the size of the shrink – i.e.: Mr. mad scientist wilderness outfitter got so loopy-crocked that he morphed from a mad scientist wilderness outfitter to a mad cow tour guide – the knucklehead pulled the trigger of the shrinker ray gizmo and aimed at me until I was on a fantastic voyage sans Raquel Welch [classic sci-fi film reference]. Using my compact camera and I got this photo of fungus spores that dropped beneath the mushroom cap shown in the top photo. Amazing sights, but I had to wait until mid-morning to return to normal.
We ate and drank well, carried little weight, wondered at the big world around us, and captured a tale or two for our next night around the teeny twiggy campfire. We were disciplined with the firewater so no one got blasted into inner space again. All in all, a fine and unnatural outing.
# # # End of the forest tale, back to reality # # #