Hello Internet! Welcome back to Flash Fiction Friday! Forgive the lateness of this post, I went to Avengers: Age of Ultron last night, and it was pretty much everything. Mmmm, James Spader makes me think all the wrong things.
But today, my dear friend Tali Spencer drops by with her flash fic, Short-Changed. What happens when a football hopeful wakes up one morning and finds himself not the same man he used to be.
by Tali Spencer
Travis Hamm jumped out of bed ready to meet the day. He felt light and nimble, as if he could run up and down the field all day, scoring touchdowns on every reception. Every football team in the NFL was scouting him—with reason. He was tall, fast… well fuck…
His face wasn’t where it should be.
Travis Hamm, wide receiver, looked into his bathroom mirror and saw the funky drawing in the picture frame on the wall behind him. The picture crowned the top of his head with some crazy ass dancing man nanoart thing his boyfriend had told him would be worth something someday. But today all the squiggles and colors were doing was telling him there was something wrong.
Either his face had fallen to the level where his chest should be or the mirror was too high.
It was too early in the morning for that kind of shit.
He rubbed his eyes and took a leak.
When he looked in the mirror a second time, his face was still a good foot lower than it should be. Fuck Jerome. His asshole roommate was messing with him. Jerome had remounted the mirror… yeah, that was what was going on. Things hadn’t been good between them since Travis had started getting visits from pro teams and Jerome hadn’t gotten a single one. Because Jerome sucked.
Any other kid would have faced the music years ago and dropped out of college to start up his own company, but Jerome had hung around and stayed on the team, creating algorithms and messing with tech to stay competitive. Coach G liked him. Called him hard-working.
Travis pulled on his track pants. He pulled again. There was too much damn fabric around his feet. Like the pants were too long. But he’d worn the same damn pants the day before. They were tight. Aerodynamic. Fit him like a scuba suit.
* * * *
“What the hell happened?” Travis stood on tiptoes while being measured and still didn’t make it to five and a half feet. “I’ve been six five since I was in the ninth grade!”
Dr. Bao tsked and shook his head. He looked balefully over his clipboard. “You’ve lost a foot in height.”
“Overnight? Where the fuck did it go? Wait—better question—how the fuck do I get it back?”
“I’m not sure you can. These kinds of cases—”
“Hold on. You’ve seen this sort of shit before?” Travis was ready to grab onto any straw.
Bao shook his head. “No. No. I’ve… read about it. It doesn’t happen often. The technology”—he laid down his clipboard—“I believe your body may have been hacked.”
What the hell? Travis looked down his now shorter form. “I think you better explain that to me. Because it sounds illegal.”
“Someone found a way to mirror your body and theirs and… they took a bit of your height. Height hacking is becoming a bit insidious. Far less risky than surgery, though we don’t yet know the long term success rate—”
“Some asshole stole my inches?” Travis wouldn’t have believed it. Except that his damn pants didn’t fit anymore. Except the long sleeves on his shirt were too long. And his shoes now looked like water skis because whoever the asshole was hadn’t taken down his shoe size.
“Be thankful he didn’t take them off your dick. There’s a lot of that going on—”
“Fuck this.” Travis started to pace. “I need my body back, man. No team is going to draft a five foot nothing wide receiver! How do I find out who did this?”
Bao spread his hands. “I don’t really know. It would be someone who knows the cutting edge of mobile apps and physiotechnology. And also someone with access to you when you sleep.”
Travis ground his teeth. Oh yeah. He knew who.
* * * *
“What you did was illegal. I want it back. How much did you get, Jerome? Eh?”
It hadn’t taken a tech genius to track Jerome down. The scrawny cornerback wannabe had plenty of friends but they weren’t especially loyal. Big Johnny the offensive tackle had given him up for a meal at Dunkin Donuts. The big surprise was that Jerome was still just as scrawny as ever.
“I didn’t do it! I wasn’t there! I told you I was going out for the night. Me and Big Johnny.”
A connection lighted up in Travis’ head. “You fucking Big Johnny?” Knowing that hurt almost as much as waking up a foot shorter. Before things had gotten strained between them, Travis and Jerome had enjoyed some pretty hot times. Quite a few hot times.
“No. I mean… yeah, we tried it but… hell, Travis. He’s not you.”
“There ain’t no other me.”
“That’s right.” Jerome’s big brown eyes were so wide he looked like one of those kids in a horror flick who was staring death in the face. “What happened to you, Travis? You used to be… you know.”
“Taller? Yeah. Some greedy bastard took a whole foot off me.” He no longer believed it was Jerome who’d done it. “Asshole. I’d have given someone an inch, you know.”
“Probably not. But I’m really pissed. Whoever it was robbed me, man!”
Jerome rocked up to a sitting position. He looked pale and pasty and scared… and determined. “I have an app on my phone. It tracks player vitals for the coach. You know, weight, bench, squat.”
“Not height, though.”
“Well, no. That usually doesn’t change. But if someone got taller, he’d weigh more, wouldn’t he? Like overnight.”
“Yeah. Power up that sucker!” Travis hunkered beside his roommate. His friend. If anyone could figure this out, it would be nerdy, hard-working Jerome.
A half hour later they’d nailed them. Two offensive linemen and a defensive tackle. Jerome remotely accessed surveillance cameras he’d installed in his and Travis’ room and there the three perpetrators were doing something funky. Gadgets and shadows. But Travis recognized the team’s center, Polansky, was calling the shots. Pretty soon Jerome nailed their shady asses even further by tagging how much their stats had suddenly gone up. All three men were a bit bigger, a bit stronger—and just in time for the combines.
“They damn divvied me up! Like a pie!”
“Damn, that’s cold.” Jerome gave him a hug.
“But why me?”
“Everybody thinks you are way too big for your own jocks. You’ve been a real ass ever since getting wooed by the Patriots.”
Really? Well, yeah… maybe he deserved that. But he didn’t deserve getting a foot taken off his damn body. It was time for payback.
“You can do this shit, right? This body hacking thing?” he asked.
Jerome’s eyes widened again. “Yes. I mean, I think so. I have the app. But it’s illegal.”
“Fuck that. The other two can keep their inches. I’m going to take it all out of the ass of the ringleader, Polansky. With interest.” He grinned. He was going to get his body back, and he would also give Jerome a nice reward.
Oh yeah. Polansky was about to give up twelve inches… and a few more inches off his dick.