Karen Murphy was becoming quite tired as she lay on the couch. She hated feeling so useless. She couldn't remember the last time she sat still for so long, or the last time Harry fought anything without her help in some way. She considered cleaning something but nothing was actually out of place enough to validate getting onto her foot, which was still immobilized in plaster and stuffing. At that moment Mouse walked by. Karen was use to Mouse in her home, the wise gray beast, but what she was not use to was him walking on two legs. She noted the difference mildly, but did not start until he checked his watch and muttered, "Well damn, I'm running late." After a numb second, she realized it was less common for him to speak and he had never worn a watch before.
Karen followed Mouse to the guest room, now decorated in pastel purple, pink, and black for the little girl who now dwelled there. But Maggie was at school at the moment so only Karen followed Mouse into the room. He got down on all fours and squeezed under Maggie's bed, which by all accounts shouldn't have fit him. Karen crouched, lowering herself into a flat position to peek under the bed, but Mouse had somehow vanished. She low crawled under the bed, and found herself crawling for quite some time before she plunged into a straight drop.
Down, down, she fell; slowly as if sinking in water. As she fell she wondered if she would ever land, and if she did, if she would die. Desks and cabinets passed as she fell, "or I guess I am passing them, huh?" she rethought her situation. She grabbed a filing cabinet to stop her fall, but only ended up taking it down. She snooped in the top drawer, finding case files from S.I. that were filled out truthfully instead of the fiction she wrote to be believed by mortals and then let go of it so it stopped falling.
She fell for quite a while longer before landing in a heap of stuffed animals. When she looked up, there was a rectangular shadow on the ceiling. She struggled to her feet with her arm and leg still casted, and hobbled down the drab dingy white hall with ugly stained grayish blue carpet. There were doors here and there but all were locked, until she came to the end of the hall and saw Mouse spot an analogue clock on the wall, and swear "is that the time already?"
He went down a flight of stairs but when Karen followed, she lost sight of him again. She found herself in a lobby with a front desk, a number of metal and plastic chairs, and a couple houseplants. On the desk was a plastic coil wristband with a key. She grabbed the key then returned to the hall to see if it unlocked any doors but it did not fit. When she got to the other end of the hall, instead of the pile of toys, she found a familiar looking door. It had a frosted glass window and gold leaf letters reading Harry Dresden- Wizard, but it was also only about 15 inches tall. It stood so close to a regular sized water cooler, she wondered if it was blocked before or there at all.
"Even I can't fit into that." She returned to the lobby half-hoping to find another key if she explored the desk, but instead found a coffee mug with "drink me" written in Old English font on it. "Yeah right." She scoffed at the coffee, searching the desk as planned. Nothing in it but a pen and sign in forms on a clipboard. After some deliberation, she sipped the coffee. It was delightful! She sipped and sipped it down till it was gone and she was 10 inches tall, naked of her casts, and in a little blue dress.
Karen journeyed long to the door and realized all too late, she had forgotten the key. In a temper tantrum, she punched the water cooler and a crack traveled up and up until it ruptured like a dam, pouring sea water over her. "Sea water?" just then, she caught a glimpse of movement in the water and found a mouse, splashing about franticly. She waded through the current of spilled water then helped the mouse stand. "Are you okay?" the mouse tilted his head and twitched his nose "Er… parle vu france? Eh… comme mon chat?" the mouse wiggled free of her and backed away. "You speak French? Une souris francaise?"
"Et d'autres langues."
"Such a smart mouse. I know a dog who is very smart. His name is Mouse." Karen rambled to the mouse as it continued to swim away.
"Come, come; let us get ashore." The mouse said tiredly. As Karen followed, she noticed other animals following the mouse as well. They arrived on a beach and gathered together for warmth.
"I got it!" a vole squeaked.
"Oh, no." a great Auk grumbled.
"Hear him out." Karen scolded the Dodo-like penguin.
"Thank you. We should have a race!" the vole said, already scurrying on along the beach. All the animals took off after him, even Karen was compelled to race. Along the way, she spotted Mouse among the racing animals and followed him. She was surprised to catch up so quickly.
"Karen!" Mouse exclaimed. "What are you doing here?"
"I could ask you the same. Is this what you do when Harry isn't around?" Karen asked.
"Harry? Forget Harry! The Duchess! The Duchess needs her backpack and lunch bag." Mouse exclaimed. "be a dear, and fetch them for me. I'm running late enough as it is." Mouse exclaimed. Karen ran off the track and came across an old brick home. She went down the familiar stairs to the front door of a basement apartment. The door read 'Mr. Mouse Residence'.
"fetching for the dog… whats next, letting Mister fool me with a laser dot?" Karen mused as she entered the apartment. By the door, she found the backpack, and looked for the lunch bag in the kitchen. In the fridge stood a solitary beer. A heavenly brown ale by a local brewer called Mac. Karen gladly took the beer and drank. Before she was done, she had grown too big for that floor and broke through the ceiling to the next level, then the next. She grew and grew until her arms hung out the top windows and one foot out a bottom window.
"Dear lord in heaven" a familiar voice called aghast. Mrs. Spunkercliffe was old, hunched, and deaf. Karen recognized it at once. "oh Mister Mouse, Mister Mouse, you have a very rude guest!"
"she's no guest, I sent her to fetch a bag."
"Who are you calling a hag? Why I've never!"
"No, no, I sent her- I sent her!"
"Call her a Hag all you like, but I expect her out this instant." The deaf woman grumbled.
"Oh, officer, please help." Karen heard Mouse exclaim. "I sent this woman in to grab my bag, and she went and turned giant, making me terribly late."
"well I can force her out, if you like." the officer, who's voice Karen recognized at O'Toole's, replied confidently.
"How will you force me out? There is no possible way; I'm too damn big to fit through the doors!" Karen cried out.
"Alright, you… you stop this nonsense this instant and come out of that building." O'Toole scolded her.
"I wish to, I swear." Karen began to pout. Then she got angry. "Ugh, this whole day has been nonsense, but none of it is my fault. Its this place!"
"then come out." O'Toole suggested.
"I would if it were possible but… wait… impossible things have been happening all day. Damn, impossible things have been happening to me since the day I met Harry."
"That's it, I'm coming in after you!" O'Toole said sternly, trying the door, but it was wedged by Karen's foot. She gave it a kick, sending O'Toole flying to the wall across from the front door with an audible slap. Karen winced, then reached into a window from where her arm stuck out another, and opened a doughnut box, teetering on a slanted cabinet by where she broke through the floor of the apartment, and dumped it's contents into her mouth. By the end of chewing, she was tiny, and scampered past O'Toole and Mouse no bigger to them, than Mister the cat was to her.
She ran until Mouse's shouts were hardly audible then walked. "okay, maybe if I eat something, I'll grow. I cant possibly get any smaller, right? Don't tempt fate Karen." She rapped her own head. Looking down the alley she spotted a pizza box and went over to peek inside. A single slice was left, still warm and smelling fresh, but beside it lounged a lavender haired fairie smoking a long pipe, blowing shapes of smoke mortals couldn't manage and giving her no mind.
"excuse me, sir may I have a bit of that pizza?" Karen asked.
"I'm trying to get bigger." She answered the fairy, who somehow managed to ignore her and speak to her at the same time. Her response seemed to offend him. He gave her a scowl and fluttered to his feet.
"BIGGER? Disgusting! Why would you wish to be bigger?"
"I want to get back to my own size."
"but you are small."
"I am at the moment, but I wasn't always so small."
"No, I should think you were smaller. Everything starts out smaller and get bigger."
Karen evaluated herself and pondered this. "Well I guess I was smaller than this once, but-"
"Egad, where are your wings?"
"I never had any wings."
"But you are a fairy, are you not?"
"A pixie then."
"No, I'm human."
"Nonsense! Humans aren't so small unless they are babies. You must be a human baby."
"No- I'm an adult. I was made this small."
"Nonsense, nonsense. You must be a baby to be so small. In that case, I heard you couldn't eat pizza, poor thing… I'll fetch you some milk."
"NO, I'm not a baby!"
"Oh dear, oh dear, you are having a fit." The fairy tisked then hugged Karen under her arms and patted her back. "There, there… wait, here?" he patted her back again in a new place. "Or is it here?"
"Let me go, please, I have no time for this. Just let me taste the pizza so I can grow big."
"You don't want to get too big or you'll get sick." The fairy argued. At that, Karen gave up and walked away. "Wait, wait!" the fairy squeaked, fluttering after her. "Go ahead and have some." He offered. Karen eyed it then looked toward the fay but he was gone.
She examined the pizza then shrugged and picked the sliced mushroom from the cheese and sniffed it. "This doesn't look too fattening." She grumbled then nibbled it. Nothing happened. After a moment she nibbled again but didn't have to wait long before she shot up to her natural height. She ventured out of the alley and found her feet had taken her immediately to a quaint suburban two-story home she recognized as the Carpenters home. A raven haired fairy in a suit of black armor knocked on the door then little Holly, also known as Hobbit, answered. The fairy bowed then produced a scroll, falling all the way to the ground from where she hovered. "The queen extends a royal invitation for the Duchess to join her for a game of…" the fairy sneered then hissed the following words as if they disgusted her. "goofy golf."
"The Duchess is to goofy golf with the queen, you say?" Hobit recited. "very well." Hobbit bowed deeply then the fairy turned in a sparkle and vanished. Hobbit went inside, but before Karen could approach the door, returned outside and met her. "Oh my hello, miss Murphy."
"Hiya Hobbit. Did you see me coming?"
"Not until you arrived."
"May I go inside? I'm curious to meet this duchess that has Mouse walking on two legs and Za Lords's army delivering invitations."
"That is not the Duchess doing such things, it is the queen who commands it." Hobbit said, cocking her little blond head to one side. "Come in if you like, but please don't mind the racket." So Karen did and was met with such a din, a door would hardly be able to retain. Little Harry, named after Dresden, was on the floor crying and sneezing in turns, while Alicia and Amanda, the female Carpenters were trying to calm him with toys and treats, sneezing in fits as well. Mathew and his older brother were plugging their ears, complaining and sneezing loudly to each other, while Molly was obliviously dumping more and more pepper into a cauldron in the fire place.
Molly was the oldest Carpenter child, and had been made the new winter lady, yet here she was, terrible a cook as ever, fixing some kind of stew over the fire in her parent's living room. A Malk sat on the mantle, flicking it's over-long tail, smiling a pleasant grin at the suffering Molly's cooking caused. "Molly, too much pepper! Too much pepper! Look, it's upsetting the children!"
"How dare you speak to me in such a manor, pig." Molly scolded Karen.
"You must be this Duchess, everyone is so crazy over. You are certainly driving me crazy."
"You are so ignorant, Pig. I am not Duchess, I am queen; Queen of diamonds. She turned away from cooking and the air instantly cleared so she could show she wore a mermaid style dress that seemed entirely comprised of diamonds and showed ample cleavage before collecting around her throat again. Her hair was up and held in place by a diamond tiara that was hard to look at for all the vibrant colors it shone.
"Who is the Duchess then?"
"Ignorant Pig. Ignorant ignorant."
"Yes, almighty queen, there is much I don't know. There is much you don't either. There is no shame in ignorance. May I please speak to the duchess now?"
"And why do you wish her over me, pig?" Molly asked indignantly.
"You are rude for one. If you call me pig one more time, I might lose my head."
"Sith, get the axe! She wishes to lose her head." Molly squealed, jumping and clapping like a small child.
"I am the Duchess, Miss Karen." A sweet voice spoke. Karen spun to look at Maggie Dresden garbed in a maxi gown with alternating chevrons of red white, black, and gold down the length, and the top was white and covered her arms and neck with a heart shape cut out the center of the chest and a red A displayed at her throat made of rubies. A ruffly bustle of tiers of rectangular cut layers fell to the floor and into a train, then Karen realized they were heart shaped. She wore her short curly dark brown hair down and graced it with a far more modest silver tiara that formed a lot of hearts and a single A centered on it in rubies.
"Duchess Maggie." Karen said absent-mindedly.
"Please speak quickly. I was waiting for my steward to fetch my things but cannot wait any longer before the queen demands my head."
"I'm not sure what I wish to ask any more. This place seems to be changing me. The things I wanted when I got here aren't the things I want now." Karen said pensively.
"I'm 10-years-old. What questions do you expect me to answer?" Maggie asked impatiently.
"Maybe my problems require a wiser perspective to answer."
"I should think so. Instead you have just wasted my time, and now I must rush to the queen's goofy golf course."
"But where should I go?"
"Where do you want to be?" Cat Sith's creepy voice cooed.
"Home. I want to go home."
"And where is that?"
"I'm not sure. This place is familiar and foreign at once. Further more, I find myself speaking in a manor I'm unaccustomed… I think I'm going mad."
"Perhaps you already have gone mad, and so you've come here." The creepy voice of the malk sent shivers down Karen's spine. "May haps this place is Mad."
"Then how do I get out?"
"I've never heard of someone getting out of mad, before. If there is a way… the queen would know it." The malk swished his tail and vanished, then appeared at the door, which opened to let him out. Karen followed Sith outside then found a road that wasn't there before. She passed the malk to examine the street signs then turned to ask it where to go, but he was gone. Only his eyes lingered in the shadow, then his voice spoke. "see you at the Queen's Golf Course." Then the eyes too faded from sight.
Karen picked a direction and ventured ahead until she found a house with two chimneys and an odd shaped portal to make it look like a rabbit. In the garden beside the house was a beautifully lain garden and tea set out at a long table. Butters was in a tux with a top hat, leaning over a sleeping wolf to talk to another werewolf in a cocktail dress. The sleeping wolf wore a dress as well but also glasses. Karen came to the table and sat across from them as they spoke. Butters was explaining how incredible DNA was, and how if we could just send the right pulse, we could regrow limbs without molds or 3d printing. The wolf, Andy, was speaking about magical remedies for the same thing. When Karen sat they turned to her and asked her opinion.
"It's all quite fascinating." Karen nodded and smiled.
"That's what we thought, but the queen grew inpatient and cut off our time. For that… it is always tea time." Butters weaped. Karen shook her head and left the tea party to find a path to the queen. She found a door and entered it into the hallway again. She grabbed the key and the coffee off the lobby desk. She took it to Dresden's tiny door and unlocked it, then shrank herself to go inside.