The Resizer Parable by FrancisLGwynne (critique requested)

The Resizer Parable

This is the story of a man named Chanley.

Chanley worked for Granda Malgranda Inc., where he was employee number 748. Employee #748's job was simple: by pressing buttons on his computer, marked #748, he'd dictate the size of things automatically. When he pressed "B-A-N-A-N-A-underscore-0-point-5" in that order, he made a standard yellow banana shrink to half its original mass. When he pressed "K-U-M-Q-U-A-T-underscore-3-point-5", he made a fruit of the class Citrus japonica balloon three-and-a-half times larger than a normal C. japonica. And so on. What object (fruit or otherwise), and its new size in decimal, came to him through orders spoken through an intercom.

This is what Employee #748 did every day, of every month, of every year, for all his known life. Though he couldn't have possibly been born to do it, could he? Even if he had a life before that, he couldn't imagine it being as nice as it was when he worked his computer and resized things. Chanley always thought his work had great importance, like it made giant food to feed the poor or tinier technology to revolutionize the world. "Do people know I do this?" he wondered, but only briefly. Credit or no credit, Chanley was happy in his work, and happy to be in the company of others that did much of the exact same things that he did, forever onward...

Then one day, something out of the ordinary happened, something that would change Chanley forever... something he would remember for the rest of his natural life. He had been at his computer desk for nearly an hour, when he realized that there had been complete silence from his intercom. Normally his instructor only left 5-minute pauses between his instructions at maximum, presumably to go for coffee, or at least to drink it - savor it - but this was too long. There were things to resize, but what things? For a solid hour or more, no one called to give him instructions, call up a meeting, or even say "Hello".

Never in all of Granda Malgranda's years of operation had this happened.

Something was very clearly wrong, but Chanley had no idea what. He became so used to the currency of his instructor's voice that to not hear it was as if something unplugged in his mind. Akin to the nail removed from the ankle of Talos, once the voice ceased, Chanley's happiness drained away helplessly - viscerally - until there was a void, like a living death. After 10 minutes of this pseudo-death, Chanley discovered a new purpose in his life, or at least a feeling that he shouldn't spend 10 minutes of his dead life worrying about it. He still had his computer, not to mention the rest of his office equipment, and as such, he should have complete control of his situation, somehow...

Chanley never had a good imagination, so what to do didn't come to him easily, especially since it was so quiet. For a laugh, he wondered what would happen if he entered his usual instructions... backwards...! "9-point-0-underscore-E-N-O-H-P-E-L-E-T" he typed, and sure enough... nothing happened, except for the computer reading "INVALID ENTRY - TRY AGAIN". He'd done something unique: for the first time in his life, he made a mistake. He had always feared mistakes, but never actually made one. Small wonder why. This time, however, was different. Without the instructor, who Chanley always thought was his boss, or at least a boss's assistant, he could never be reprimanded for his deviation.

Chanley was amused, but not happy, not yet. Chanley wondered what other things he could type in, and whether they too would be invalid. Gaining courage, Chanley typed something he always wanted to type, but he didn't know to whom... "I-space-L-O-V-E-space-Y-O-U-comma-space-D-A-R-C-Y-space-J-O-N-E-S-period". Whoever this "Darcy Jones" person was didn't occur to Chanley's mind; he just thought that if he had a female love interest, her name would be Darcy Jones. As I said, no imagination. This time, however, the entry wasn't invalid. The computer only took the order as it would a valid one. Chanley smirked at the thought of whether he accidentally resized a random woman in the world.

Then it occurred to Chanley, why was it that resizing was only limited to inanimate objects? Certainly living creatures could benefit from changing size. Why only grow certain cuts of meat when you could enlarge a whole cow? Was there a risk involved, like a higher rate of heart problems or uncontrollable rage? None of these hypotheses were real, only products of Chanley's limited imagination. Well, maybe not THAT limited, I have to admit. It was only logical to Chanley that if he wanted to know whether his hypotheses were factual, that he would have to try them out for himself, seeing as how there was no one around to tell him whether or not it was so.

"E-M-P-L-O-Y-E-E-#-7-4-8-underscore-1-point-1"...

"INVALID ENTRY - TRY AGAIN" read the computer once more. He tried a few permutations of typing in "Employee #748", but none worked. He even tried omitting the number sign, replacing it with "NUMBER", or being clever and typing a numero sign. Nothing... Maybe people weren't meant to be resized, or maybe just not people working for Granda Malgranda Inc. Chanley sighed, wondering why this happened to him, he of all people. What malevolent force would spite Chanley Q. Wyden when he was just getting started in life? Wait a minute... Maybe that was it...! Maybe it wasn't meant to resize employees, but actual named entities, like bananas and kumquats, and so Chanley typed in one more time...

"C-H-A-N-L-E-Y-space-Q-period-space-W-Y-D-E-N-underscore-1-point-1"...

At first, Chanley felt nothing, just an itching in his shirt collar, and then in his sleeve cuffs, and then in his trousers all the way down to his shoes. A quick feel of his body and he realized that, merely by multiplying his mass by one and one-tenths, he'd actually gained quite a considerable amount of size. From a mere 5'9", he grew to be 6'4"; quite a respectable height, even if he'd have to find clothing one size larger. Or better yet, have the resizing computer resize it for him! Typing out his individual clothing items, all resized to 1.1, Chanley began to feel much more comfortable in his clothes, but it wasn't enough for him.

If he could resize himself to gain an extra 5 inches, he could very well grow to phenomenal heights, reaching the stars, the heavens, and beyond! Or maybe he could just shrink himself, and his clothing, back down to normal size. Yeah, no imagination. No drives beyond his little world. There he goes, typing with his bigger fingers, "C-H-A-N-L-E-Y-space-Q-period-space-W-Y-D-E-N-underscore-0-9"... Oh... He missed the decimal point. As far as the computer's concerned, the number zero-nine is the exact same as nine is the exact same as 9.0, that is to say, 9/1. Nine... times... bigger... Never in the company's history was such a drastic size change ordered.

Before Chanley realized his typo and attempted to correct it, which would be futile, his arms overtook his desk, while his stretching legs bumped his back into the ceiling. The walls of his cubicle, and the walls of adjacent cubicles, collapsed under Chanley's increasing weight. He couldn't move for all his growth, he found himself helplessly stuck between the floor and the ceiling of his office space, and he still had much more growing to do. He hoped that his weight would soon collapse the floor, and he'd fall through the building to the ground floor. Or maybe, if he was on the ground floor already, he'd break through the ceiling and bloom like a flower meeting the great open sky.

Instead, he was crushed between the indestructible confines of the office room, and he died a great, lumbering, 57-foot-long pile of broken bones and gushing organs.

...

...

...

"INVALID ENTRY - TRY AGAIN" read the computer once more.

Chanley opened his eyes, realizing that his previous undertaking was only a dream, and he was his usual 5'9" self. However, he noticed someone had boarded up the entrance to his cubicle. He thought he was alone, and looking over his cubicle, an act he was told NEVER to do, he confirmed that he was completely alone. He knew that in his current condition, he was too weak and scrawny to try knocking down the barrier, but he daren't risk growing even an inch, lest his bigger fingers fumble an antidote code and make his problems even worse. His answer would come to him when he noticed an ever so tiny gap between the barrier and the floor. Not even a mouse could crawl under it, but he could.

"C-H-A-N-L-E-Y-space-Q-period-space-W-Y-D-E-N-underscore-0-point-0-1"...

Chanley gasped as his clothing swallowed him up like a tremendous whale, swirling around him like a violent tempest, and finally burying him like a cotton sarcophagus. When the cloth settled, Chanley struggled to unbury himself from his steam-pressed tomb. Wait, did I say struggle? No, with his size, he'd be moving around like a hummingbird on amphetamines. Chanley speeded through the labyrinthine wrinkles of his clothing, across the floor, and under the gap to the barrier. Of course, being so small, his metabolism would be so significantly increased, that unless he ate his weight in food every several minutes, or find a way to slow his metabolism, he'd die of starvation.

Luckily, someone left a stale half-donut on the floor, which Chanley powered through like a piranha school working through a cow. That should sate him for the next 30 seconds or less, but the problem was to find another computer to enter a growth program into. By chance, a dropped oblong box made the perfect makeshift ramp to another computer desk, where a computer sat awaiting instructions. Though the keyboard keys seemed monstrously large to the half-inch-or-so Chanley, he leaped like a flea to the keys he needed to press to regain his height. Problem was that his tiny brain wasn't good at figuring out the math to restore his proper height back before he was nearly starving.

"C-H-A-N-L-E-Y-space-Q-period-space-W-Y-D-E-N-underscore-1-5-4"...

The nearly 9-foot-tall, naked Chanley hit his head on the ceiling, clutched his chest, and collapsed. The strain of becoming so tall so quickly, not to mention nearly starving to death, caused him to have a heart attack.

...

...

...

"INVALID ENTRY - TRY AGAIN"...

What did this mean? Was this glorious computer error his lifesaver, or his ball and chain? What secrets did he unravel upon making his first mistake? Where was everybody? Was he still Chanley, or was he someone else in a more proper sized body? Actually, what dictated his true size, anyway, apart from some limited notions of his previous life and the laws of physics? He went out of his non-barricaded cubicle and set off in search of his answers. He swore he could hear the tiny screams of people, see tiny waving figures in his peripheral vision, and even his footsteps felt heavy and booming. What if he and the office were giant and the coworkers failed to catch up?

He searched high and low for his fellow workers, even attempting to whisper pleas of rescue, making sure not to damage their eardrums with his tremendous voice. Was he really that tremendous? He only felt like a normal sized person after all, and the heaviness of his shoes was just as they've always been. Must've been their make and model. It would take hours to resize every employee in Granda Malgranda Inc. to such miniature scale, but then again, it would take hours to resize the complex, each element of it, and Chanley, clothing included, to gigantic size. There had to be a greater force at work here, one that dictated everything in his life, beyond the usual spoken instructions through his intercom.

Walking through the complex into an elevator, he pressed the button for the 75th floor. He wasn't even aware that there were seventy-five floors, but then again, he was unaware of what floor he actually was on to begin with. As the elevator went up to its destination, Chanley waited for the doors to open. Hopefully he'd be able to find out whatever caused his problems on that floor. Gee, it's taking a bit long isn't it? Well, at least the music is a bit soothing, no? Calm, relaxing, new-age stuff. Almost draws attention away from the creaking and the groaning and the shuddering of the elevator, doesn't it? Almost as if it wasn't there, like the elevator runs as smooth as the flight of a bird.

Oh, he chickened out. Chanley stopped the elevator just before it reached even the 70th floor, what a baby. And oh, what's this? He actually didn't budge a single inch; he's back to the same floor he started. Or is he? It looks the same, down to the arrangement of the cubicles, the numbers of each cubicle, and even the crumbs on the floor from... a mouse? There's something off about it, though... One of the doors is unlocked, and leads to a little door reading "escape". It's big enough to crouch through at regular size, and there's even a scent of buttered scones and raspberry jam on the other end. Is this the end of Chanley's worries after all?

Chanley dashed across the office space, opened the little door, and crawled through a pipe leading from the door to God knows where. Sometimes, it seemed like the pipe squeezed tightly against Chanley's body, but it mysteriously let up the further down he crawled. Gradually, Chanley gained the frenetic energy to crawl faster and faster, as if the hope of freedom on the other end gave him the drug-like energy to continue, even as the pipe squeezed down on him something awful. Just as he thought he'd be squashed to the diameter of a pencil, he fell out the other end of the pipe, into a great, wooden nothingness. It was the surface of his computer desk; he shrank again!

He wasn't alone, though, for all his shrunken coworkers, and even his instructor, joined him on the desk. It was a miniature party, and everything felt good. Crumbs of donuts and droplets of coffee were served around like hors d'oeuvres, and eaten plentily like there was no tomorrow. Strangely, Chanley felt more normal in this size than he did at... whatever size he used to be. He didn't care anymore, he was with the company of great friends and acquaintances from here on, and he lived the life of a man free from the confines of big companies and big jobs, and from the tremendous expectations of day-to-day life.

And from then on, the tiny Chanley was forever happy...

...

...

...

...

...

...

Until he woke up.

...

...

...

His computer screen read "INVALID ENTRY - TRY AGAIN" as it always had, as if it was waiting for someone with a little more sense to type another command. He's fairly sure that typing in any resizing code toward any living creature is risky business, so that proves his hypothesis from the previous 28 paragraphs or so. But how could he be aware of that? He's barely aware of the last few misadventures he's had... except he isn't anymore... Oops... Chanley seems to think that he'd rather find true freedom from this rather than simply a freedom from work and worries. Wait a minute, what's he typing on his little keyboard now? "F-U... ...Y..."

Oh no... That certainly isn't proper business behavior, Chanley.

Chanley, I can give you the proper ending you've always dreamed of. Suspicious, are you? I wouldn't blame you, but then again, voices tend to be a bit distorted through an intercom. What? You think I'm your instructor? Why would I want to tell you to resize bananas and Citrus japonica- err, I mean kumquats...? No, I wanted you to explore for yourself. The fact that you let the work consume you for so long before thinking "Hey, maybe I'm a closet macrophile/microphile after all."... There's no closet with me. I know your desires, your secrets, and anything that goes on within you. What was that you were typing on...?

"(EXPLETIVE DELETED) you, D. Jones."

Well, yes. That's me. You wish I did something unmentionable, not to mention not safe for work... It's too bad I'm not a Darcy, or even a Daisy. Then again, we don't even know your sexuality; we just know you love/hate a person with the first initial of "D" and the last name of "Jones". Oh, you do care! Of course, I'm still sour about your lack of initiative, imagination, and independence. Those aren't very attractive to me at all. As you probably guessed it, size is attractive to me, and I'm sure you'd agree. Who wouldn't want to have the feeling of the power to choose your own size, your own strength, and your own destiny?!

What are you typing now?

"D. Jones can go..." oh...

You know proper office etiquette wouldn't stand for that, Chanley.

I'm really trying to help you. The fact of the matter is that you're simply sizing up wrong. If you'd just listen to me, I'd tell you exactly what you'd need to do to be free from this mess and be the size you've always wanted to be. But no, you have to keep on doing that. And that. And even that. And... oh! That's naughty, Chanley. You know there are security cameras around here. I could post that footage to the internet to weaken your credibility. You'd be a laughing stock before too long, and...

...

Oh...

Oh, Chanley...

...

That's the last straw, you know... You forced my hand...

...

Yessssss...! I bet you weren't aware that I too had a resizing computer, were you? You know what I'm typing in now, Chanley?

"C-H-A-N-L-E-Y-space-Q-period-space-W-Y-D-E-N-underscore-0-point-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-1"...

Nice knowing you, Chanley; before you know it, you'll be smaller than anything you ever knew. Smaller than dust, smaller than cells, smaller than molecules. By the time you reach that size, you wouldn't even have a single amount of thought. You'd just be a single atom of matter, not even enough to form one iota of a substance. The entity that was Chanley would be no more; in essence, erased, obliterated, oblivionized. Let's hope that whatever little soul you have left joins you in your journey to...

...

Oh, what's this? He shrunk so small that he split atoms. He just set off a fission reaction and destroyed everything I ever worked on.

Oh, Chanley, what have you done?

What have I done?

...

...

...

Chanley, you rebellious soul...

The Resizer Parable (critique requested)

FrancisLGwynne

14 February 2014 at 13:51:31 MST

This story was inspired by GigaCake-MmmKay, and dedicated to her.

She was talking to me about how she had just installed and played "The Stanley Parable" on Steam. She joked (maybe) that it was the first game she had where playing it made her have an existential crisis. I was curious to try it for myself, but as I haven't the money or the memory to play the game, I looked it up on YouTube instead. The results were... intriguing...

Non-linear gameplay doesn't even begin to describe it. I've watched several of its "endings", and it occurred to me that it pretty much deconstructed the whole notion of gameplay and acting on instructions. Don't end up like me, though, and only learning about it through playthroughs filled with spoilers. Go buy the thing, or at least play the demo of it or something.

But back to me and my addled brain.
(A BIT OF A SPOILER WARNING!)

We discussed how it touched on science-fiction concepts like mind control machines, and even real world concepts like classical conditioning and freedom of choice. Somewhere along the line, somebody mentioned (can't remember if it was me or her) that there should've been a storyline where Stanley became too tiny to ruin the narrator's plot, like a mouse in a maze.

The opposite person said, jokingly, that then there should've been an attack of the 50 foot Stanley, holding Mariella in his hand a la King Kong. Obviously Galactic Cafe, the developers of TSP, weren't rabid sizeplay fanatics like us. It was then decided that I should be the one to make a new parable dedicated to size-changing shenanigans, and this was called "The Chanley Parable".

Except it wasn't, because that would be infringing. I already filched a lot of the narrative straight from the transcript of the game, but since this could be considered a reinventive fan-art/parody, it should be well within the parameters of Fair Use. For all its reinvention, not to mention its macro/microphilic tendencies, I decided to rename the work "The Resizer Parable", despite the fact that that doesn't make too much sense.

I realize it's not the best take on a Stanley Parable parody, and that the non-linear storyline doesn't work well in written fiction, but it's the best I could do, so take this as it is, I hope. Do tell me what you think, though, it would be nice for once to get some constructive feedback on my work. Maybe I ought to get my old Furaffinity works on here as well, just so I could flag them for critique as well.

The Stanley Parable proper belongs to Davey Wreden @ Galactic Cafe.
The Resizer Parable, a parody, belongs to Francis L. Gwynne.

Submission Information

Views:
368
Comments:
0
Favorites:
2
Rating:
General
Category:
Literary / Story

Tags Modify History

Edit Tags