Mary Christmas 2: Christmas in July – Chapter 29 – by lostandwhatever
Continued from Chapter 28.
Candice was tall.
It was a strange sensation. She had heard of kids going through enormous growth spurts as they passed through puberty, growing a whole inch in a night or something crazy like that. She had just experienced the growth spurt to end all growth spurts. Now, she was eye to eye with all of the other adults. In fact, she was actually taller than quite a few of them. She found herself subconsciously slouching, as her mind rejected her new height and tried to make her smaller again through bad posture. It was futile, though, and it was giving her a pain in the neck. Still, standing up straight against the wall in Department 8 felt strange, like she was cheating at her height even though her bare feet were flat on the carpet.
Bill finished up with the tape measure and declared, “Congratulations, you are taller than me.”
“What?” Candice said. “Really?” She slouched again.
“About six foot, one,” he said. “Give or take half an inch. That’s about 186 centimeters in case you happen to use metric at the North Pole.”
Two thoughts ran through Candice’s head one after one another, like a burglar and a cop in pursuit. One, she was taller than Santa Claus, who topped out at an even six feet. And, two, she was the tallest elf in the world. Even Mary was estimated to be only about 5’10”. Those extra three inches that Bobby had given her really did make a difference.
“I guess you won’t be able to borrow any of my clothes,” Carol said. “Seems a shame since I can’t wear them either.
Candice looked down at Carol and remembered laying in a puddle with Carol right after Mary had shot Carol with the Youth Gun, thinking that Carol was about the same size as her. Now, she seemed incredibly tiny. Candice tried to picture her old self, which ironically was her younger self, standing next to Carol. It was hard for her to believe that she had been that small just a short time ago.
“Your turn, Carol,” Bill said.
Carol stood up straight, leaned her back against the wall, and let Bill measure her height. “This feels familiar,” Carol said. “Only, I’m used to being the one holding the tape measure.”
“Four foot, four,” he said. “Exactly 52 inches.”
“Well,” she said. “At least, I’m still taller than my middle child.”
“Carol,” Candice said. “I’m so s-”
“Stop apologizing already,” Carol said. “It’s getting annoying.”
“No ‘buts.’ I made my choice to step in, and I would do it again. I have no regrets.”
“Right,” Candice said. She adjusted the bathrobe she was wearing. After all the size and age changing that had been going on, someone had wisely stocked up in a variety of clothes of different sizes. Carol was wearing her own little pink bathrobe as well.
Angela joined them giving Candice a quick once-over. Everyone seemed to be staring at her and looking away suddenly when Candice noticed them. It was a bit off-putting. “So,” Angela said. “How are you two?”
“I’m fine,” Candice said. In fact, she felt amazing, but she was not about to mention that in front of Carol. No need to rub it in. “I think Carol is fine as well, at least magically speaking. I gave her a quick examination, and there only seems to be a light residual magical field on her at the moment. That should dissipate soon. Then, we can talk about returning her to normal.”
“Good,” Angela said. “How are you feeling, Carol?”
“Small,” Carol replied. “Otherwise, I’m just fine. At the very least, I’ve got plenty of hand-me-down clothes at home to wear.”
“Good to hear,” Angela said. “Well, Candice, I just got word that there’s a team from your embassy on its way here to check you out as well.”
Candice’s stomach dropped. She had been avoiding facing up to what she had done. Now, there would be a lot of questioning about her giving away her glamour. “I see,” she said.
“I think they wanted you to go to the embassy yourself, but I explained that you had no clothes to wear. I thought you would appreciate meeting them here instead of there. They have a bit less pull in our department, after all.”
Candice smiled. “Thank you, Angela.”
“Well,” Angela said. “I’m not about to let them take you away from us. We need you now.”
“Speaking of the investigation,” Carol said. “Let’s check in with Justin. He was examining that raygun Mary gave to Candice.”
“She didn’t give it to me,” Candice said. “She left it on the bed. I don’t know why.”
“You said she indicated it was some kind of clue.”
“Yeah,” Candice said. “But, it was nothing. I checked it out. There’s no magical charge to it. It’s just an ordinary toy.”
“Well, let’s see if Justin has figured anything out about it.”
Candice headed to the lab where Justin was examining the raygun. Carol followed close behind, taking quick steps on her little legs as Candice casually strode on her long legs. Candice was still trying to shake the sensation that she was walking on stilts or standing on a ladder. She had to keep looking down at her bare feet to believe that they were actually touching the ground far beneath her. She was grateful that she had not needed to go up or down any stairs so far as she doubted she could handle it.
They entered the glass-walled lab room, which resembled an advanced machine shop full of tools and electronic equipment. When they did not see Justin, Candice called to him, “Justin, where are you at?”
Justin replied from the back of the room. “Over here,” he said, waving them to him.
When they reached him, they saw he had the raygun under a magnifying glass lamp and was looking at one of the joints on it.
“Found anything yet, Justin?” Carol asked him while she rested her elbows on his desk.
“Not yet,” he said. “But, I still haven’t even cracked it open. By the way, how’re you feeling, Carol?”
“Small,” she said.
“So, what’s taking so long?” Candice asked.
Justin looked up at Candice, and she noticed how his eyes lingered a moment on her chest before meeting her eyes, not in a leering way but noticeable nonetheless. He was not the first man to look at her that way since she had lost her glamour, and she doubted he would be the last. She had not yet decided how she felt about that sort of attention, but she was leaning towards disliking it as she felt like her body was taking attention away from herself.
Justin said, “I’m trying to be careful. You mentioned how dangerous some of Mary’s things can be. Even if this is uncharged, magically speaking, there might be other dangers to opening it. I did test it for explosives, and it came up negative. Now, I’m just looking for a safe place to pry it open without damaging it too much. I did figure out one thing about it.”
“What?” Carol asked.
“Look,” he said, turning his computer monitor so all of them could see it. There was a security camera image of Mary pointing her raygun at the two guards outside of Department 8. “As you can see, this new gun is not the same model as the one Mary used during her break in. Also,” he said, reaching across the desk to pick up a different raygun, which he held up for the three of them to see. “This is one of the guns Mary gave out as a present last Christmas. Obviously, the new gun is not the same as this one. In fact, the new one here seems to be a totally different design. It’s much more utilitarian looking that the other two guns Mary made. There’s no sci-fi flair to it. It seems like a radical departure from her other work, so much so that I almost doubt that she made it herself.”
“Interesting,” Carol said.
“Hey, everyone,” Alice said as she joined them. “How you doing, Carol?”
“You’re supposed to ask me how I’m feeling,” Carol said. “That way I can tell you I’m feeling small.”
“My mistake. I must have missed the memo.”
“You find something, Alice?” Justin asked and explained to Carol and Candice, “Alice was checking out that photo of Mary from the culinary academy.”
Alice smiled. “You bet I did,” she said, setting her laptop down on Justin’s desk and opening it. “Check this out.” She pointed at a blown up image of Mary from the photo. “Nothing much exciting here, right? But, what about what she’s wearing?” She pointed at Mary’s T-shirt which was partially obscured by another person in front of her.
“I can’t see what it says,” Candice said.
“Is that some kind of logo?” Carol asked.
Alice nodded. “It’s hard to make out at this resolution, but I managed to run an image search with the part of the logo that was visible. Check this out,” Alice said as she switched to a browser tab.
Justin, Candice, and Carol were all stunned by the image they saw.
“What?” Justin said. “Are you serious?”
“Yep,” Alice said. “That was my first reaction. Seemed almost too perfect.”
“Of course she would be working there,” Carol said. “She must just love the idea that we would look for her there.”
“Is that a real place?” Candice asked.
Alice nodded. “It’s an old local theme park, but it’s still in operation,” she said.
Candice read the name of the park out loud, “‘Santa’s Village Fun Park.’”
Just then, Ken poked his head in the room and said, “Candice?”
“Yes?” Candice replied.
“The team from your embassy is here,” he announced.
Candice felt her stomach drop again. It was time to face up to what she had done. She sighed.
“Want me to go with you?” Carol asked. “You know, as support.”
“No,” Candice said with an appreciative smile. “I’m going in alone on this one.”
“Don’t let them take you away,” Carol said. “We need you.”
“Yeah,” Justin and Alice said.
Candice nodded and headed off to face her fate.