Exander & Scuttles's Swell Adventure
This story takes place on a ranch somewhere out in the mid-west. At first glance, it didn’t stand out from any other plantation anyone might come across in that region, yet beneath the swaying leaves resided a society of small insects. Two of its members were a cricket going by the name of Exander, and a black soldier that didn’t have a name of its own, but that Exander often referred to as “Scuttle.” Towering over the colony was the owner of the farm, the reptilian cyborg scientist known as Grockle. He was cleaning his utensils, blissfully unaware of the souls residing beneath him or the society they had. The Hybrid reptile was renowned in his scientific studies for advancing robotic components including the ones that augmented his body, when the toil of city work wore him down he would take a break from his regular job and unwind at his ranch in the country by testing some of his more private inventions. Today, on this April afternoon, his world would unexpectedly collide with that of the insects he was unknowingly living so close to.
It was just after 11 AM as the heat of the day started to kick in, and Exander and Scuttle, who had both finished their tasks for the day, were out resting under the branches of a strawberry bush. It was at that time that the hunter ants were busy getting fresh food for the colony. Scuttle always enjoyed grabbing some himself and, with nothing better to do, Exander followed him.
Exander had experienced some down-on-his-luck moments that increased his already jumpy persona. He had Scuttle and other insect friends to help him, whom he could look up to and help motivate him, which increased his drive to support his friends, though he often set himself up for expectations that he felt he couldn’t live up to, because he also wanted to stand out and was unsure about what limitations he had.
Scuttle was a friend with whom Exander hung out with more than most others, though Exander had problems speaking up about things, like venturing for fresh food, though he was in a pretty passive, unconcerned mood, anyway.
Scuttle: One of my brothers said there's a new plant in the field, a strange one planted by the giants!
Exander: They're always changing the plants in this area! What’s so special about this new type?
Scuttle: Have you ever seen a tomato larger than a cat before?
Exander exchanged glances with Scuttle with a look of disbelief.
Exander: I don’t see how that’s possible! I’ll believe it when I see it!
Scuttle: They told me it's past the giant metal wall. If we hurry, we can get there before midday!
Despite his better judgment, Exander couldn’t say no, and agreed to go, not just because of his usual tendencies to go along with his friend, but also because he couldn't quell his curiosity at this wild story. They gathered some supplies and, after teasing some more clues from another ant, they headed off through the farmland towards the notably large vegetation.
Grockle was stretching out his limbs, sipping at a mug of coffee, as he looked over his project in the fields in front of him. A series of solar attachments to his spine soaked in the sunlight.
Grockle: I hope you're all growing big n' strong for me.
The cyborg reptile strolled over to his tomato plants and smirked as he realized the over-sized fruits had swollen even larger since their last treatment. He had been working on a new serum to try and increase crop fields and, so far, this formula was looking like it was working far beyond his expectations. Now, it was time to do the next application. Whistling to himself, Grockle put on a mask and went to his shed to get his spray tool …
Exander and Scuttle continued making their way to the metal chain-like wall that divided Grockle’s experimental fields from the rest. On their way, they had been encountering the worker ants, several of which had warned them that the fields they were approaching were “Off limits.” When pressed for details and reasons, most of the worker ants argued on specifically why, but the consensus was that something unnatural seemed to go on in this area which is why it was being avoided. Yet, the curious cricket and his ant friend continued on their way.
Exander: I can’t tell anything unusual from here.
Scuttle: We’re just gett … Wait! Look up there!
The ant gestured towards a tomato plant that dominated the sky above them. Both could tell that this was not an ordinary plant. As Exander jumped up onto it, he found that the stem alone was twice the width of his entire body. And his friend wasn’t doing much better, as he struggled to clamber up stem, that may as well have been a trunk on a mighty redwood tree.
Scuttle: What I wouldn’t give to have legs that jumped like yours ...
The soldier ant grinned as he finally got his claws on the flesh of the giant fruit and felt the soft flesh beneath him.
Scuttle: How’s it taste?
Exander: I haven’t bitten into it, yet. I’m giving my ache-y legs a moment’s rest from the journey.
Exander unfurled his travel sack and drank some water he had stored in a hollowed-out sweetcorn shell, as the two settled down to try some fruit before falling asleep in the bright mid-day sun …
Grockle had finished maintaining his spray device, as well as mixing up a new batch of the formula, and was all geared up to do round two of his testing.
Grockle: If this works like it should, I’ll win that award! ..And not that moron who is trying to make a self-eating pizza
He turned on the filter for his mask and began spraying away. As he went along the rows of plants, one of which had been eaten into by two adventurous insects, he grinned with the satisfaction that things were going according to plan: after the exposure to the liquid, each plant more than doubled in size and grew to ridiculous proportions. Before Exander and Scuttle realized what was going on, the plant was not only growing larger, but they too, were growing with it.
Scuttle: Erm, Exander … what’s happening?!?
The two insects looked around as they were lifted higher and higher into the air above that of regular plant life.
Exander: I feel odd … That plant is getting bigger, yet I don’t feel any smaller to it.
His words stopped as he looked at the sweetcorn canteen he was holding and felt it shrinking in his hand until it was barely the size of his fingers before he accidentally crushed it. As they looked around from their new perspective, they could see a large green lizard watching them and looking at them in a curious way.
Scuttle: Do you think he knows what just happened to us?
Exander: I think we should get off his crops before we start asking.
The two insects carefully lowered themselves off the tomato which was now getting close to being as large as a lorry and found themselves standing almost as high as the reptile. And to Scuttle’s shock, he was now able to stand on his rear legs with ease to assume an upright appearance.
Grockle: Unexpected that I’d see this happen, but you’re making me curious. Come, let me get a good look at you.
The two bewildered insects walked with him into his lab, as he measured their bodies. While he documented them, they realized that, during their growth, their bodies had adapted to survive at their new larger size.
Grockle: I was only trying to make the plants grow, but to find it also made you two grow as well is a bonus! Who are you guys, anyway?
Exander: We were investigating the rumors of larger-than-life vegetables and came to rest here on one of them. Why are they so big, anyway?
The big reptile chuckled and patted them on the shoulders with his large meaty arms.
Grockle: Adventurous types Eh?, Well, I think I’ll take you on a tour so I can show you around.
The two insects agreed and followed the hefty cyborg as he lectured them about his many experiments. Although it took them a while to understand some of the terms, they were very fast learners and began gleefully taking in information as they were shown the technology they had only ever seen in dreams.
It had been several days and, while the two insects had not found themselves shrinking back down to their old size, Grockle had put them to work and provided them with food and lodgings. Over the course of the next few days, they even found themselves making trips to the village with Grockle, who had had new clothes made for them, so they would fit in. Another day, they were busy in the fields as they removed another set of vegetation in preparation for another experiment, when Scuttle saw movement under one specimen.
Scuttle: Look, it’s a scout drone from my home nest! I wonder if he came here looking for us.
Exander: Pick him up and see if you can hear him, But for heavan's sake do it carefully!
The scout drone beeped in distress as the (from its perspective) giant ant picked him up and set him out on the palm of his hand. After getting used to speaking to such a small creature again, Scuttle was able to make out what the little drone was saying.
Scuttle: I think he said he’s glad that we’re safe, but he’s really confused as to why we look so different … and I don’t blame him!
Exander: I’m glad you can hear him! … Sadly, I can’t make out a word he’s saying.
Exander started wondering why and tried thinking about what may be going on.
Scuttle: This will certainly fascinate Grockle. He’ll be interested to learn that I still have the ability to communicate with our tiny insect friends!
Exander looked down at Scuttle and realized that, while both had grown taller thanks to Grockle’s formula, Scuttle ended up a bit smaller than he used to be in relation to Exander’s own height when they were just regular insects.
Exander: This may take a while to explain, but maybe it has to do with how much taller I’ve grown compared to you. Maybe I’ve become so much like these giants that I’m not able to speak to and understand our old friends anymore, just like any regular giant.
Scuttle: Grockle could go into research. And until then, the two of us could serve as a communicative bridge between our two worlds an.. I wonder if they have a mechanical way to do this …
Exander: Well If they did nobody back home has ever spoken to them, Say.. I bet if we can make something to do the same thing you can do It would be a revolution!
*The two insects started excitingly chirruping as they fished the pockets of their new clothes for their pens and notepads and sat in the hot sun writing*
After a long evening working for their new idea to pitch to their new employer he finally calmed them down - it'd take them a while to work out an idea that worked but with their determination along with some assistance from Grockle they were sure they would manage, though, Their boss wasn't sure how they'd achieve it but he still enjoyed the thought they might just have something to beat the "Self Eating Pizza" at that science convention..