Eve sighed, bored out of her mind as she watched the clock tick down towards the end of the work day. Spreadsheets and insurance claims weren’t exactly what she’d had in mind for her life, but it paid the bills… or had anyway. Rent was going up, she needed a new place to live, and the options in town were growing hard to find and harder to pay for.
“Psst, Evie!” Amber called, she was in the cubicle across from Evelyn, a redhead with curls who had a mean streak a mile wide. Eve kept off her radar by playing along with her, one thing she’d learned was that no matter where you were, you always had to back the strongest person in the room. It had gotten her through high school, and it got her through this office.
“Yeah?” Eve said with a grin.
“Phone!” Amber mouthed at her, pointing to her own.
Eve giggled as she fished hers out of her purse. Unlocking it she saw that Amber had sent her a video, “Shrunken guy tries to cross the sidewalk.” She hit play, making sure the sound was muted. On the screen a tiny man, a few inches tall and naked, hesitantly looked both ways before sprinting across a concrete sidewalk. A jogger noticed him, and with a smug grin, diverted her path. The tiny guy saw her coming, panicking as he picked up speed. The camera zoomed in, giving Eve a good look at his terrified face as the shoe came down. The Jogger bit her lip, stopping to grind her running shoe in place a moment before continuing on her way. The tiny man twitched on the sidewalk, struggling to recover after what had to be a painful experience.
“Fucking crazy that there are still wild ones when that kind of stuff happens,” Eve laughed, “seriously what was that guy thinking?”
“They get really tough when they get small,” Amber said, “he’s probably fine, but I’ll bet that still hurts like hell.” She looked around a moment and then leaned in close, “I “accidentally” got one on my bike the other day.”
“You bitch!” Eve laughed, “you know you can get fined for that now?”
Amber just rolled her eyes, “what’s a tiny going to do? Walk over to the police station and report me? Unless you mess with one that has an owner it’s almost impossible to actually get in trouble.”
“You know we’re not supposed to call them owners now?” Eve said, scooting back to her desk, “guardians, caretakers, it’s just a bunch of PC crap, like a four-inch guy can be anything but your pet.”
“You know why they sent that email out, right?” Amber said with a conspiratorial grin. “Charles has it!”
“The shrinking virus!?” Eve said, covering her mouth, “oh my god, that’s hilarious! How long does he have?”
“I don’t know, a month or two maybe?” Amber said, “you want to go fuck with him?”
“You know it!” Eve said, smiling as she stood up to follow her friend.
The two walked through the office, the clack of their heels against the floor echoing down the hall as they searched out Charles. They found their prey in the break room, glumly pouring himself a cup of coffee. He was a middle-aged man, slightly balding, maybe a little too thin for a man his size. Still, he’d apparently found someone to marry him, and everyone in the office had seen pictures of his kids.
“Oh my god Eve,” Amber said loudly as she walked to the coffee machine, “did you hear about those shrinkees that got caught living in the department store downtown?”
“No!” Eve replied with faux surprise. Looking over Amber’s shoulder she could see Charles’s attention pique.
“They say the overnight cleaning crew caught them, sucked their little asses right up with a shopvac!”
“Oh my god!” Eve laughed, “what are they going to do with them?”
“Auction them off I guess,” Amber replied, filling her coffee cup. “Maybe one of those cleaning ladies might want to keep one? I know I would.” She turned around and made eye contact with Charles, “I think it’d be fun to have a little pet like that.” She sipped the steaming beverage, her eyes flashing, “Yeah… I’d keep that little shit naked; he’d greet me when I came home by calling me Miss Amber, and if he showed even the slightest disrespect?” She stomped her heel hard on the floor, causing a *clack* that made Charles jump. She shrugged, “or maybe I’d get bored and just flush him? I mean imagine if your husband shrank, you’d probably want to get rid of him, play the field, right?”
“Oh yeah,” Eve laughed, “just say he ran away or something.”
Giggling the two of them walked out of the break room together. Eve shot a look back and saw Charles’ hands shaking, his coffee spilling slightly on the floor. She felt a slight pang of pity, but then with a look back at Amber she forced it down. She’d learned the hard way enough times that the people on top had to push others down to stay there, and shrinkees made an easy target, even if they weren’t small yet.
Evan stalked through what had been his front yard. It was wildly overgrown these days, at four inches tall he couldn’t exactly mow it easily, and the service he’d arranged before becoming small only came by once a month. Parting the green jungle of grass stalks he spotted his prey, a large green grasshopper idly chewing on a leaf. He hefted his small crossbow, taking his time with the shot. With a quick *twang* a toothpick shot out, nailing the grasshopper in the head. With a muffled thump it fell, twitching, to the ground.
With a sigh Evan approached it, trying to determine what, if anything, he’d do with his kill. Nothing, he decided, turning away. Grasshopper wasn’t a bad meal at this size, once you got past the idea of eating a bug, but he didn’t see the point when he had more than enough normal food to last him several lifetimes. He’d toyed with the idea of keeping a collection of pinned bugs he’d killed, but taxidermy for arthropods apparently involved a lot of nail polish remover, a terribly noxious substance at this size.
Mostly he hunted grasshoppers and other bugs for sport, to stave off boredom and the beginnings of what he was sure was depression. There wasn’t much challenge to it, he’d worried about his place in the food chain post-shrinking, but he’d rapidly found that the insect kingdom just wasn’t ready for a human at this size, the first spider had been terrifying, then he’d found out that he was so much stronger than them that he might as well have been beating up a chicken.
Higher animals weren’t much of a worry either, and Evan waved to his cat Marshmallow, a fat grey tabby, as he walked through the pet door to his house.
“MROW!” Marshmallow cried angrily.
Evan sighed, glancing at the gargantuan food bowl in the kitchen, “In a minute!” he cried. The cat gave a long whining meow in response. Feeding him was harder now, but Evan still managed. A bag of kibble and a small shovel waited next to it, and he’d be spending at least a half hour of his evening refilling the cat’s bowl. He’d thought about rehoming Marshmallow once he found out he was shrinking, but he’d quickly found another utility for the cat.
“Hey!” he called, snapping his fingers, “you want your dinner? Get your fat ass over here and earn it.” With the closest thing to a sigh a cat could manage the lumbering feline got up and walked over to him. Gripping the cat’s fur he climbed quickly up to the top of his back, grasping the collar as the cat carried him rapidly up the stairs.
Laurie pulled up to the old Armstrong place and stepped out of her truck. In the back she had several bags of groceries, along with a large box that contained doll furniture. Slamming the door shut she carried the goods up to the porch and rang the doorbell. The blonde hummed a tune as she adjusted her wide brimmed straw hat against the sun. It was hot this time of year, and the humidity of the wetlands the house was built amidst meant that you were always sweating out here.
“Hello?” the intercom buzzed.
“It’s me,” Laurie said, smiling for the camera, “who the hell else would come visit you?”
“Tiny hunters?” he replied, “well-wishers? Fangirls?”
“Open the door you jackass,” Laurie laughed, and with a click the electronic lock disengaged. Laurie stepped inside, walking to the kitchen as the fat grey cat meowed and swished itself against her legs. Evan was waiting for her on the counter, lounging in a sky-blue doll shirt and khaki pants.
“Hey Laurie,” the shrunken man said, standing up to greet her. “How’s tricks?”
“My car’s transmission is shot so I’m driving one of my uncle’s trucks,” she replied, “what about you?”
“I successfully lassoed a field mouse,” he said with a grin, “yippee kay aye.”
“Why didn’t you just ask it to come over?” She asked, unloading his groceries.
“I keep telling you, I can’t talk to animals,” he said, rolling his eyes, “they just sort of naturally like me, Marshmallow listens to me but otherwise they just treat me as a friend and not much else.”
“That’s good,” she muttered, looking out the front window at the undeveloped swampland, “seeing as how you insist on living all the way out here.”
“I like my freedom,” he replied, “tiny guy in town? I’d be in a hamster cage by the end of the day.”
“About that,” Laurie said, laying a bank receipt on the table, “I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but you’re running out of cash.” She gestured around, “this whole lifestyle of yours is neat and all, but it’s not exactly sustainable.”
“What am I supposed to do?” he asked, “get a job? I don’t know shit about computers Laurie, I always worked with my hands and the army isn’t exactly looking to re-enlist guys who shrank.”
“My offer is still on the table,” she said, crossing her arms. “Move in with me, we’ll do all the paperwork and you’ll never worry about any of this tiny-hunter stuff and hiding ever again.”
“No,” he said firmly, “I’m my own man Laurie, I don’t want to move in to your old dollhouse.”
“That’s what people who shrink do,” she said with exasperation, “do you not trust me or-“
“Trust has nothing to do with it,” he said, cutting her off, “I trust you with my life Laurie, but I just…” He sighed, “I’m not going to be happy living like that, even with a friend. I need to be in charge of my own life, you know?”
“Well, you need to figure out a way to bring in some money,” she said, rolling her eyes, “you’ve got property taxes on this place coming up, and you might be able to evade a tiny hunter but good luck hiding the house from the county assessor.”
She thought a moment, “I don’t suppose your uncle hid any gold or anything in the basement before he died?”
“My uncle wasn’t in the mafia!” Evan said angrily. The rumor had been something he and his family had been teased about for years, going back to when he was in elementary school. “He went to jail for tax evasion!”
“Just like Al Capone,” Laurie countered.
“He worked in waste management!” Evan protested.
“Oh my god, do you hear yourself?” Laurie laughed, “he probably lived out here so he could dump bodies in the marsh!”
“I’m done with this conversation,” he said, “and I’ll have you know, I’ve been thinking about the money problem.”
“Oh?” She asked, raising an eyebrow.
“I’m thinking of renting the place out,” he explained.
“Wow,” Laurie muttered in an offended tone, “you won’t come live with me, but you’re going to let some rando move in and probably enslave you?”
“Like hell they will,” he growled, “I’ve got this sort of plan worked out. The thing is, a lot of people don’t respect shrinkees, but I’ll get the right one in here, put the fear of God into them a little… then they’ll accept that they get to live here, at a nice cheap price… in exchange for doing a few things for me now and then.”
Laurie balked, “my god,” she breathed, “you’re going to try to tame a big person? You know that is the opposite of how this scenario usually plays out?”
“They won’t see it coming,” he said with a grin, “most people shrink and just give up, but I’m not one of those woe is me types.”
“No,” Laurie sighed, “you’re certainly not that.”
“And besides, I’m not looking to tame someone,” he explained, “I just want a roommate, a tenant really, the arrangement is mutually beneficial and if the other party is reasonable, it’ll be like any other lease.”
“And if they decide they’d rather play catch the shrinkee?” Laurie asked.
“Then I’ll have to kick a little ass until they realize who they’re dealing with,” he said with a grin.
“I don’t even want to know what you have in mind,” Laurie said, rolling her eyes, “I’m pretty sure this is going to end with me racing down to the courthouse to file a claim on you before someone else does.”
“You said you’d do anything I needed when I shrank, right?” he said.
“I owe you that much,” she replied with a sigh.
“Okay, I need you to put out the following ad for me…”
Eve reread the housing ad again, sure she was missing something. Five-bedroom house, comes furnished, internet and utilities include… at THAT price? Seeking single tenant, no others currently living on premises, minimum lease one year. It was out in the sticks, sure, but the commute wouldn’t be too bad. No, she reasoned, there had to be something wrong with it. Full of rats, or destroyed on the inside? The pictures on the website seemed to show a house in decent repair, if with somewhat antiquated décor. The only thing that looked new was the television, a glistening flat screen amid furniture that belonged in the 1980s.
“Looking at places to live?” Amber asked over her shoulder.
“Yeah,” Eve muttered, “this place looks too good to be true though…”
Amber glanced at the listing, “maybe it’s some rich old bastard who just wants someone in it? You know, to keep squatters out or whatever.”
“I guess… I’m swinging by this place after work tomorrow, if it’s the real deal I’m moving in as soon as I can.”
Evan peered down at the living room from the ceiling vent. His prospective tenant would be coming in soon, and he wanted to make the right first impression. The old house had plenty of vents, but before shrinking he’d made some home improvements with the aim of making it easier to move around once he’d shrunk. The walls were riddled with tunnels, strings of Christmas lights snaked through them, providing lighting.
Eve stepped up to the door, purse under her arm. She frowned as she looked around the porch, she saw at least two security cameras, and from what she could tell the door was electronically locked. Well, she reasoned, it was a few miles away from the rest of town, and although the city could be reached with a fifteen-minute drive, from looking around at the surrounding terrain an observer could confuse it for a much more rural plot than it really was.
Taped to the front door was a key, with a handwritten note, “let yourself in.” That was odd too, what kind of landlord didn’t want to be there with the tenant when she walked through the property? She patted her purse unconsciously, feeling the bulge of the pepper spray in the side pocket. With a sigh she ripped the key off and put it into the lock.
Evan watched, hidden, as the woman stepped into the living room. Eve O’Mara, that was what the application had said, she worked in an office in town. No kids, no pets, she was ideal. Her brown hair shimmered slightly as she shut the door behind her, and she smoothed her office skirt a moment before looking around. She was good looking, that was for sure, with long legs and hint of muscle that suggested regular exercise.
He heard a meow and a thud as Marshmallow leapt off his perch on the living room bookshelf.
“Why hello,” Eve said with a smile, watching the cat rub against her with a purr, “do you come with the house?”
She picked up the cat, who didn’t seem to mind, and continued her exploration. Most of the house appeared long unused, and a thin layer of dust covered many of the shelves. The bedrooms in particular had the slightly musty smell of a long unopened closet, and she left the doors open as she walked, hoping to air them out a little. Overall, the house was fantastic, she wasn’t able to find a single faucet or light switch that didn’t work, and she wondered again why the owner would be willing to rent it out at a price that wasn’t even half what she’d paid for her two-bedroom in town.
“Mrow,” the cat muttered.
“Let’s see if there’s any food for you,” Eve muttered, carrying the chubby feline down to the house’s kitchen. She wasn’t sure why there was a cat living here, but judging by the flab he wasn’t an outdoorsy one.
Evan had been spying on her during the entirety of her home inspection, and now he raced through the house hoping to beat her down to the kitchen. Marshmallow liked her at least, although in Evan’s opinion his cat was something of an idiot, even by cat standards. Smart cats didn’t get stuck in the trash can, or so he figured.
He had a bow slung across his back, toothpick arrows in a makeshift tinfoil quiver. His chest was bare, exposing his chiseled physique. Evan had always been in shape, but according to the experts on TV shrinking was great for the body, and his constant running and climbing around the property probably helped too.
He lifted a chunk of tile out of the way, quietly stepping out into the kitchen as he slid the cover back in place. From a big person’s perspective, it would be unnoticeable, Laurie always joked that he appeared like a ghost wherever he wanted. He had another entrance up on the counter of course, but he wanted to creep up on her.
He crept along the edge of the counter where it met the floor. He froze as the gigantic footsteps echoed through the kitchen, and he held his breath as a high heeled shoe as tall as he was clicked down on the tile in front of him. He could smell the mix of her sweaty nylons and the stale leather odor of the shoe, and for a moment he was in awe of the giant’s movements. Laurie came by often enough, but he’d known her forever, her size never really registered even when she literally picked him up in the palm of her hand. This woman though, this unknown, it left an impact.
When he was sure she didn’t notice him, he continued along the floor, reaching a small knotted twine rope that he hung at the very corner of the counter for easy access. It didn’t take him long to reach the countertop, where the giantess was humming to herself as she poured the waiting cat food from the bag of kibble.
“What do you think of the house?” he said boldly.
Eve froze, almost dropping the bag of cat food. She looked around for the source of the voice, her vision finally landing on the doll sized man waiting on the counter. Her first thought was that he was a looker, he had chiseled face and abs that she’d love to run her fingers over at any size. The second was that he was dressed like an action movie character, and she fought a giggle when she saw he even had a little headband to go with his camo pants and bow.
“Did you get that outfit from a GI Joe?” She asked teasingly, “do you have an owner around here somewhere little guy? She left her cat here too.”
“This is my house and that’s my cat,” Evan said, “seriously, do you like the place?”
“It’s great,” she said in an amused tone, “it’s your house? You’re…”
“Tiny, yeah,” he said, keeping a close eye on her, “so here’s the deal, I need a little cash flow to keep this place running. If you live here, you pay a nice low rent for a nice big house, also I want you to feed the cat, and maybe take care of a few things I can’t. Sound fair?”
“That sounds great,” she said with a predatory grin as she leaned over the counter, “but… if I’m understanding this, you don’t have a… oh what the hell do you people like them called… caretaker?”
“No,” he said, edging back nervously.
“Okay, here’s my counter offer,” she giggled, “you’re fucking mine now, your house is fucking mine. You can call me Miss O’Mara, and I don’t want to ever hear you use my first name without the appropriate prefix.”
“Prefix?” he asked, raising an eyebrow.
“Goddess, your majesty, whatever you want,” Eve said, shrugging, “my friend is really into the whole shrinkee thing, in all the videos she sends me you guys are being appropriately respectful.”
“Hmm, okay, how’s this?” he flipped her his middle finger, defiantly staring down the giantess even as her blue eyes filled with rage.
“You little fucker!” she snarled, reaching for him with a darting motion that upset the catfood. Marshmallow yowled loudly, leaping to the floor and scampering for a hiding place.
Evan leapt out of the way, watching the bullet train of her arm go by him as her manicured hands gripped at the air. In one smooth motion he drew one of the toothpicks from his quiver, taking aim and firing the projectile up into her cheek with his bow.
“SON OF A BITCH!” she shouted, slapping her hand to her cheek in surprise. He grinned as he saw a drop of blood seep from between her fingers, and the fire in her eyes became an inferno.
He ran for the edge of the counter, leaping off of it just as her hand swiped by where he’d been. He felt the wind in his hair from the attempt to grasp him, and he laughed as he tucked and rolled on the floor. Falls from the counter were no problem for a shrinkee, particularly if you knew how to take them. He sprinted for a moment, sparing a glance back to gauge Eve’s reaction.
“Fuck!” she snarled, pulling the toothpick out of her cheek. It was a small wound, but it stung like a bitch. She saw Evan running for the living room, and with a sneer headed after him. She paused a moment, and then kicked off her heels to move faster.
Evan dove under an ottoman, and a moment later light filled the dark space as Eve hurled it over. He reached for his arrows again, but she loomed up over him, her nyloned foot darting out and pinning him easily.
The smell of her stale sweat overwhelmed his as the pressure rose, and he grunted as her toes flexed through the thin material.
“I hope you like the way that feels you little shit!” Eve sneered, “you’re going to fucking lick that foot clean every night this week to make up for that!” she gingerly touched her cheek, scowling as her finger came away with a small drop of blood. This felt… good, having someone completely at her mercy, literally under her foot. “You done playing hero?” She muttered darkly, pressing down a little.
“N-NNOT YET-“ he rasped, trying to twist his body against the pressure of her sole.
“I don’t know what you thought you were doing,” Eve snapped, “you’re tiny, you’re not a person anymore so-“ Pain shot through the side of her foot, and she screamed in pain as she stumbled backwards.
Evan stood up, a slightly bloody toothpick in his hand and a triumphant grin on his face. The thunderous sound of the giant hopping on one foot and screaming a torrent of swears echoed through the living room.
“Oh you little bastard!” Eve screamed, steadying herself to resume the chase, “I am going to torture the shit out of-“
“Marshmallow!” he shouted, and with a meow the chubby grey cat bounded towards him. He leapt up, catching the cat’s collar and letting the feline bound up the stairs with him in tow. Eve pounded up the stairs after them, rage on her face every step of the way.
“Where the hell are-“ she stopped, seeing the cat sitting and licking it’s paw in the middle of an otherwise empty room. She glanced around, frowning. He was hiding again, no doubt about it, and with an angry sigh she realized she’d probably lost him. The cat meowed curiously, looking up at her and flicking it’s tail back and forth. She knelt down and scratched it behind the ears, “Oh I’m not mad at you kitty…” she muttered.
Evan had already hidden himself back in the vents, and he watched as Eve swore angrily one final time, and left the room. His heart was pounding as he listened to her footsteps going down the hall. He felt terrified, and at the same time… good? He grinned, fighting the urge to jump for joy. That had been the most alive he’d felt since shrinking! He’d taken on a full-sized woman out to get him, and he’d won.
He allowed himself a laugh as he heard the door downstairs swing shut. His senses were starting to return to normal now, the pounding in his ears going away first. He sniffed suddenly, and he realized he smelled overwhelmingly like the woman’s sweaty feet… he also realized he was hard, harder than he’d been in a long time. He lightly gripped his erection in puzzlement, what was THAT about? Just the excitement of the fight, he reasoned.
“What the hell,” Laurie said, crossing her arms as he washed himself in the sink. “She tried to step on you?”
“Chased me around too, threatened to torture me!” he laughed. “God damn Laurie, I haven’t felt this good in…” he sighed, “I don’t even know.” He beamed, “I’m moving her in!”
“You’re out of your mind!” Laurie snapped, “this woman wants you to be her slave, Evan!”
“Yeah, that’s why this is going to be so satisfying!” he explained, “she’s going to pay my bills, take care of my house, feed my cat, and all I’ve got to do is stay ahead of her.”
“Do you really think you can?” Laurie asked.
“I think…” he thought a moment, “I think I can but… I really need this Laurie; I need to beat this girl. This whole shrinking thing stripped away everything.”
“It didn’t,” Laurie muttered quietly.
“I can’t protect people, I can’t help anyone,” he said angrily, “I can’t even take care of myself, or at least that’s what everyone seems to think. If I can’t handle some office barbie, then what the hell is the point of going on?”
“Fine,” Laurie said, defeated, “let me get my laptop and you can dictate an email to her…”
“So, you’re saying there’s a wild shrinkee, with a huge house out in the sticks?” Amber said excitedly.
“Yeah, but he’s not exactly a pushover,” Eve said, nursing her bandaged cheek. “He’s like, some kind of super-shrinkee or something.”
The two of them were in the break room, talking quietly over coffee. She’d filled Amber in on the surprise that her housing search had brought her. Her coworker seemed thrilled with the idea, and kept pressing her for more details.
“Do you think he has someone who helps him with stuff?” the redhead asked, “he’s got to, there’s no other way…” Her eyes lit up, “was he hot?”
“What?” Eve asked, a bit surprised.
“Was he hot, you know, if you’re going to keep a pet man, you want him easy on the eyes, right?”
“Yeah,” Eve admitted, “he definitely wouldn’t have trouble finding a girlfriend if he was full size, he looked like a moviestar or something.”
“You’ve got to go back for him!” Amber said eagerly, “a super sexy shrinkee who has a house?” She lowered her voice, looking around, “don’t let the word get out though, there aren’t a lot of shrinkees left unclaimed these days, and one with a big valuable asset like that? You know you get all of their stuff when you claim them!? Tiny hunters will be on him like flies on shit, the only reason I’m not driving out that way now is because you’re my friend.”
“Gee, thanks,” Eve chuckled, “but he’s got the whole place pretty secure, electronic locks, alarms, if I just start raising hell over there, I’ll bet he could get the cops on me and then I’m just some girl breaking and entering and ranting about a rogue shrinkee.”
Her phone beeped suddenly, and she pulled it out of her pocket to see what it was. Her eyes narrowed as she saw she’d received a new email, with a swipe of her finger she opened it, her eyes going wider with each line.
“What is it?” Amber asked curiously.
“To Ms. Eve O’Mara,” she read aloud, “I’m sorry I didn’t get the chance to properly introduce myself yesterday, my name is Evan Armstrong, and I greatly enjoyed our meeting at my property.” She looked at Amber, who seemed as confused as her, “you seem like an ideal tenant, and I think that signing a twelve-month lease would be mutually beneficial. As discussed, in addition to rent payments due on the first of the month I will also require the occasional home maintenance and also assistance in feeding my cat, Marshmallow, who has taken quite a liking to you. All the best, Evan Armstrong.”
“What the fuck,” Amber whispered, “he’s offering to let you rent the place after all that?” She stifled a giggle, “he’s calling you out!”
“What!?” Eve almost shouted, “that bastard…” she snarled and started typing an email back, “what the fuck did you just say about me you little-“ she breathed out and stopped herself, deleting the message. “I’m glad to see that you’ve selected me to be your new tenant,” she said through gritted teeth, “I’ll move in this weekend, thank you for this opportunity!”
“Ooh, smooth,” Amber said with a smirk, “when you catch that guy you should rename him something really embarrassing.” She thought a moment, “Princess!” she laughed, “name him Princess!”
“I just might,” Eve growled.
Eve dropped her suitcases in the living room of her new home. Marshmallow purred and curled around her legs, welcoming her in. She sighed, glancing around at the vents, the furniture, the cupboards… so many hiding places.
“I know you’re watching,” she said, “and I want you to know, before this lease is up, I’m going to own everything here, including you.”
“Fat chance!” a voice echoed through the vent, “you couldn’t catch a cold!”
The game was on.