It's hard to believe that things ended up this way. I used to be 24...but now... It's certainly not the normal way your life goes. It's not so bad when you get used to it. Things seem right and it's not like there's anything you can do or could have done anyway. It all started a while back when I got a call from someone in pediatrics. You see, I used to work in a hospital, although it's not like I wanted to. In all honesty, hospitals give me the creeps. The main reason people go to the hospital is because they are sick or injured so the chances of getting a disease seems great. I'm just glad I never had to work around patients much. I would just fix a few of the hospital's computer problems and be on my way. Every so often I would have to go into a patient's room to fix something, but not often. One day, I met the most unusual person I've ever come across.
Like I said, it was a call from pediatrics. The last thing I needed that day was to see some sick kid, clinging to life, hooked up to some machine. However, when I got to the room, there was a kid in there, but he seemed fine. He looked to be about 13 or 14. He was just sitting in bed watching TV, so I walked in and started work on the computer.
"I know what the problem is." the kid said, still looking at the TV. I kept on working but responded anyway.
"Oh really? So you know how to fix it?"
"Yep! I sure do Charlie!" He read my name off my ID badge. "They just won't let me touch it. They don't want me to do much of anything."
"Why is that?" I said, stopping to look at him. "You look okay to me."
"It's because I have an unusual condition. The doctors are all baffled. They don't know what to make of it."
"Oh. Is it something personal or can you talk about it?"
"I don't mind talking about it. There's nothing else to do in this boring place but watch TV. How old do you think I am? Just by looking at me."
"Is this a trick question?" I said standing up now.
"Haha! No, just humor me."
"Okay then. I'd guess that you couldn't be more than 14. Am I right?"
"Not even close. Would you believe that a few days ago I was about as old as you are?"
"That's a good one kid. Is that how you know what the problem is with this computer?"
"Yeah, I used to be a computer junkie. When I was older that is."
"Alright then, tell me what you think the problem is." I decided to test his story. I didn't really think it was true of course, but I humored him.
"It has a virus. You'll have to go into the computer's registry and take delete a line of code there. Then reboot and you can run an anti-virus tool on it." I just stood there for a moment. He was right. Either he was telling the truth or kids today knew more about computers than I originally thought.
"That's right. How did you know?"
"I told ya, I used to be older." There was a silence for a moment. "You'd better do it before that nurse comes back in. She's up in arms over it."
"Oh, right!" I said finally. I got to work on it and fixed it while he continued watching TV. When I was done, my curiosity got the better of me. "So if you used to me my age, what else can you do to prove it?"
"Just look at this." he said taking out a driver's license.
"And why should I believe this is you and not someone who is missing a license?"
"You're not very trusting are you? Just look at the name and then look at my name on the chart." I did so, and found out that it was indeed his license. Then I noticed some clothing lying out that was for a much older person. All signs seemed to indicate that he was telling the truth.
"But...it can't be. People don't get younger. It's not possible."
"That's what I thought. That's what those doctors thought, but here I am."
"Wait I know what's going on. This ID is your dad's and this is his stuff here right? You almost had me there."
"No, I can assure you it's mine. I...don't have a father. Or a mother. Or anyone really."
"Oh, I'm sorry I said anything. It's just a little hard to believe." Just then, someone opened the door. It was the nurse.
"It's true alright." She had been listening. "Little Danny here was about 18 when he came in."
"Yeah, I used to be older than that." said Danny. "When I started getting shorter, I panicked and came here to see a doc."
"You have no idea what caused it?" I asked.
"Not a clue." Danny responded. "It just started happening one day."
"Are you still...you know, shrinking?" I asked, timidly. Danny just looked down and began to tear up.
"I'm afraid he is." the nurse answered for him. "He's loosing about a year every 12 hours. What worse, we don't know how young he'll get." Danny was crying now. I could tell that it was upsetting to him. Of course it was. There was a possibility he could die from it. The nurse took me to the side. "Poor little guy. He's got no one. He's so lonely and afraid. I would be too if I were in his position." I turned my attention to Danny.
"How about if I come and visit you tomorrow? I'll bring you something that might cheer you up."
"That would be nice Charlie, but you don't have to." Danny sniffled. "What's the use when I'm just going to shrink out of sight in a few days?"
"Don't talk like that." said the nurse, trying to lift his spirits a bit. "You're not going to disappear. You can't give up hope!"
"I try! But it just seems so hopeless. Why did this have to happen to me?" He began to cry more.
I wanted to help. The poor guy didn't have anyone to talk to but the nurses. Finally I said, "I don't know Danny, but I'm sure the doctors will find out something. I'll come back here tomorrow after work and keep you company. That way it won't be so scary. Okay?" After all, he used to be my age. In a manner of speaking, he still was. I had an idea that might help him ease into his situation.
"You can if you want to. I'll be here. At least I hope I will be." And with that, I left the hospital. All I could think about was his condition and what I would do if I were in that situation. I suppose I would try to make the best of it. It's not every day that you get to relive your childhood. Then again, not many people find that appealing. He seemed more afraid of dying than of becoming younger. I thought, perhaps I could use that.
The next day, I waited until after I clocked out and went to visit Danny. As I had thought, he was even younger now. He looked to be no older than 12, lying back in the bed watching TV. He finally noticed me and said, "Oh, hi Charlie."
"Hey Danny! How're you doing today?" I asked.
"Not any better. I got smaller again." He looked like he had cried until he had no more tears left. I decided to show him what I had brought.
"I've got something for you. Maybe it'll help." I opened the bag I had and took out my old Game Boy and a few games.
"A Game Boy! I used to have one, but it broke."
"Well, you can have this one. I don't get much use out of it anymore. Too busy to play games."
"Really?! Thanks Charlie! Wow! You've even got one of my favorite games here!"
"You like Pacman too?"
"Do I?! It's only one of my all time favorites!" He quickly put the cartridge in the unit and began playing. "Wanna play 2 player?" he offered.
"Sure! Gotta warn ya though, I'm really good."
"Heh, let's see if you can beat a pro!" We both played back and fourth for a long time. I finally lost my last life, and he got the high score. "See? I told ya. I'm a pro! Just no skill."
"You got lucky!" I said jokingly. "We'll have to rematch tomorrow." It was getting late and visiting hours were almost over.
"Aww... you gotta go?"
"I'm afraid so, but I'll be back tomorrow. That is, if you don't mind."
"Of course I don't mind!" At least I had gotten him to brighten up a bit. It was a bit late when I got home, but I didn't mind. It was for a good cause. I didn't say anything, but I had felt a bit strange while playing that game with Danny. Something just felt...weird.
That night, my body felt like rubber for some reason. I was a bit clumsier than usual. I just attributed it to being up so late and got in bed. The next morning I awoke feeling great. I noticed that my pants seemed to fit better. I was actually able to go back one notch in my belt. I had kind of let myself go since I started working at the hospital, but I guessed I had just lost some weight. My workday seemed extra boring this time around, and I found myself anxious to see Danny. When my shift was finally over, I went up to see him.
"Hey Charlie!" he yelled to me as I walked in. Today, he was 10 years old. Oddly enough, he was in good spirits.
"Hey there Danny boy! You look like you're happy today."
"Yeah! The doctors said that they've found out about a few more cases like mine around the world. They say that the cause of the regression is still unknown, but that most cases end with the patient being around 8 or 9. A few rare cases get as young as 5, while only a handful have regressed into infancy." Then he looked down. "I sure hope I don't get that young, but at least I know I won't disappear. They've said that the virus isn't fatal. Isn't that great news?!"
"It sure is! No wonder you're so happy. How come it took the doctors so long to find out about these other cases?"
"Well, it's all pretty hush hush right now. They don't want to send the general public into panic. After all, they don't know what causes it yet." Then Danny looked at me with sad eyes. "I don't want to be little again. Life was hard enough the first time around."
I tried to brighten his mood a bit. "Are you kidding?! Being a kid was great! No worries, no responsibilities... All you were expected to do was your homework and then you could just play."
"Yeah, you're right. I just don't want to get too little."
"Well, there are some good things about being little. You have even less responsibility, no school at all."
"My childhood wasn't that great. My father was...a bit abusive. But only when he drank."
"Oh, I'm sorry."
"No it's okay. Besides, I guess now I can have a second chance at it right?
"That's right. Speaking of that, who's going to take care of you? You said that you had no one."
"I don't really know. The doctors said that some cases were like mine, where the patient has no family or friends. In those cases, the patients are given to special adoption agents. I guess that's what'll happen to me. Just hope I don't get any younger. I certainly don't want to have to be potty trained all over again."
"Haha! Right! Well, I guess all we can do until we find out how young you'll get is to play some more games!"
"Yay! Let's play Mario today! It's two players too." Again, we took turns with the Game Boy. We both got pretty far in the game. Once again, I lost my last life right at the end. Danny, on the other hand, beat the game.
"Dang! You beat me again! You're not cheating are you?"
"Nope! It's all in the wrists!" he winked.
I looked out of the window. "Oh man! It's late! I need to go. I didn't get much sleep last night, and I'm beginning to feel the effects of it."
"Aw, okay. If you HAVE to. I'll see you tomorrow, K?"
"You betcha!" That night, I was feeling even more strange. All day I had felt weird, and now my body was almost shivering. I took a long, hot shower to relax and hit the hay.
Once again, I felt great the next morning. I had a lot of energy and I noticed that I had lost a bit more weight. My clothes were really loose now. I made a mental note to break out some of my older stuff when I got home from work. It seemed like the day would never be done. At lunch, I found that nothing at the hospital's cafeteria appealed to me. Instead, I went down to a nearby McDonalds and got a Big Mac and some fries. It had been a long time since I had eaten there, but it sure tasted good. I decided to stop by before I went to see Danny and get him a Happy Meal. He seemed to be enjoying being a kid again, so I thought I'd indulge him a little.
When I entered the room, Danny's face got bright red. He turned away from me and said, "Hey Charlie." I already noticed that the regression hadn't stopped. He was an 8-year-old now.
"What's wrong Danny?"
"I'm...still shrinking. I hoped it would stop last night, but it didn't."
"Oh, I'm sure you won't get any younger. It's nothing to be ashamed of."
"I also...wet the bed last night." Now I knew why he was blushing. "They had to come in and change my bed and everything. It was so embarrassing."
"Oh...well, I brought something that might cheer you up." I handed him the Happy Meal.
"Real food!" he exclaimed digging into the sack with gusto. "It's been too long!"
"The doctors said you could eat it. I already cleared it with the nurse."
"Thanks Charlie!" he muffled while eating the cheeseburger. "Hey! These come with a toy too right?"
"Yep! Take a look." He pulled out a Pokemon toy.
"It's Pikachu! My favorite!"
"I didn't know you were into Pokemon."
"Well...I am. I've sorta been collecting this stuff." he said, a bit embarrassed again.
"Ah, don't be embarrassed. I collect toys too."
"You do? What kinds?"
"Oh, all kinds. Basically whatever suits me. I've got a lot of model kits and action figures."
"Can you bring some tomorrow?"
"Sure! I didn't know if you'd want to play with any of them or not."
"I've been itching to. They haven't let me go back to my place and get any of my stuff yet."
"Funny, I've always thought I was the only one who still played with toys." I smiled.
"Yeah, small world huh? So to speak."
"So are you still nervous about getting younger?"
"Sure I am, but not as much. After our talk last time, I felt better."
"Hey, glad I could help. Things won't be so bad. Even if you do get younger. Some of my fondest memories are of my early childhood. Kindergarten, even pre-school age."
"You have fond memories of being in pre-school?" Danny asked sarcastically.
"Sure! Finger paints, clay dough, cookies, juice, nap time. What's not to like?" We both laughed. He continued eating and we both played with the Pokemon toy for a bit. Then we watched a few cartoons while Dan and I talked some more. We both had a lot in common. I still couldn't help but wonder what it would be like to grow younger like that. I wondered how'd I react. Would I go nuts, or would I actually enjoy it? I also pondered Danny's fate. Even if he didn't get any younger, he'd still need someone to take care of him. The only person I could think of was my sister. She was just a bit older than me, but she couldn't have children of her own. Her husband knew that before he married her. They want to adopt, but they're apprehensive about someone else's baby. I guess I would be too. Still, I wondered if they would take Danny in. I'd consider asking her at least. Soon night was upon us and I had to go home again.
"Don't forget. Bring those toys tomorrow!" Dan reminded me.
"Count on it!" I said as I walked out. I was feeling a bit funny again as I took the elevator down. When I got off, it felt like I was still going down for some reason. Maybe there was something wrong with the food I had eaten, I thought. Once home, I took another hot shower and got into bed, trying desperatly to shrug off how I was feeling. The next morning, I would awake to a big surprise.
To Be Continued...
I must have tossed and turned all night. My mind just wouldn't shut down. Something was off, but I didn't know what. I woke up the next morning feeling wet and clammy. At first, I panicked and thought I had wet the bed. Further inspection revealed the wetness to be sweat and nothing more. Relieved, I staggered toward the bathroom. For some reason, the room seemed to spin and I became very disoriented. The floor seemed to be moving. I managed to get to the bathroom just before I vomited. "What's wrong with me?!" I wondered. It's strange, but after that I felt better. I got cleaned up and put on some of my old clothes that I had gotten out the night before. These were clothes that I never thought I could fit into again, yet they fit fine. That's when I looked into the mirror. The person looking back at me looked familiar, but it was a form of me I had not seen in a number of years. I looked like I did in my first year of college! I couldn't believe it. My thoughts immediately turned to Dan and his illness. Had I gotten it somehow? I stood there for the longest time, looking at my reflection. Reluctantly, I decided to go into work. I remembered to bring some of my toys for Dan to see. Looking at them now, laying in their box, I was extremely tempted to start playing with them.
At work, only a few people said anything about my appearance. I just told them that I was trying a new kind of diet. I was very nervous all day. I planned on asking Dan what his symptoms were when he noticed his decrease in size. I had hoped they wouldn't be what I had experienced. I wondered if Dan would notice how I looked. I tried to avoid contact with most people, opting to eat my lunch in my car and avoiding populated areas.
Finally, it came time to see Dan. When I got there, I saw some of the nurses taking soiled linen from his room. It looked like he had wet his bed again. I found him in his room, even smaller than the day before. His dark blonde hair had become the light shade of early childhood and was frazzled from sleeping. His facial features had become more round and his eyes had the familiar look of a little boy lost. His pink, rounded feet peeked out from under his hospital gown and he was curled up in a fetal position, sucking his thumb. He looked like he couldn't be more than 5 at the most. His door was open, but I knocked on it to announce my arrival.
"Oh.. Charlie? Is that you?" he asked, taking his thumb out of his mouth. Despite his child-like appearance and sound, his diction was still intact, though he did slip up his words from time to time, showing that his mind was growing childlike too.
"Yeah, it's me Danny. I brought you some toys just like I promised."
"Thanks. I'm probably too little to play with them now though." he said with a sniffle. I couldn't help but imagine myself in his position again. It's strange how a part of me wanted to be in that position, yet another part was horrified.
"I wouldn't say that. Here, take a look." I sat the box of toys on the bed next to him. I had brought a few GI Joes, some small robot models, a handful of Star Wars figures, a few of my old He-Man figures, and a few select super heroes. His eyes lit up.
"Wow! You've got some of the rarest figures I've seen! They're in great shape too. The only thing that could make them more valuable is if they were still in their original packaging."
"Oh, I know. I always open my stuff though. It's not like I'm ever going to part with them."
"You don't mind if I play with them, do you?"
"Of course not! That's why I brought them. Play all you want."
"Thanks!" He eagerly got out each toy and examined it closely. His excitement grew with each one. Watching him play made me wonder what it must be like. Then I suddenly remembered my predicament.
"I hate to break your happy mood Dan, but I need to ask you something." He stopped and looked at me. "Can you tell me what your first symptoms were? When you noticed something was wrong."
"Well, at first I thought I had a bad cold or flu or something. I just felt really weird, but I ignored it as long as it went away." Things weren't sounding good so far. "Then I started getting dizzy spells and vomited almost every morning and night." I suddenly felt a little nauseous just hearing him say that. "Why'd you ask? What's wrong? You look all funny."
"Dan...I think I've caught the virus from you." He looked at me with a shocked expression on his face. There was a long eerie silence between us.
"Oh...oh no. The doctor said it wasn't contagious! It can't be!"
"But I think it is. Just look at me. Don't you think I look a bit...younger to you?" He moved his face closer to mine and looked all around as if examining himself in a mirror.
"To tell you the truth, I had noticed something was different, but I didn't want to say anything."
"I noticed that my clothes seem to be getting looser the past few days. This morning I felt very dizzy and vomited just like you said. These clothes I am wearing are from my college days."
"Well, what are you gonna do? Tell the doctors?"
"I honestly don't know. Should I? I know that if I did, they'd just run a ton of tests on me like they did you. I'd probably be fired. Can't have a little kid working for them. I don't know what to do right now. If I do indeed have it, then I'll probably be 16 in the morning. No way I can come into work like that."
"I guess you'll just hafta tell them. Not much else you can do. Except wait and get too young to leave your place."
"There's too much running through my mind right now. I'm going to risk it and just go home tonight."
"Umm...Charlie? If you do have it, do you have anyone who can take care of you?" Someone to take care of me. Now there was a thought. For most of my life, I claimed to need no one. The thought of having someone take care of me was actually soothing for some reason.
"I... don't have anyone living with me right now. I have a sister I could turn to, but I don't know. It would be quite a shock for her, having to raise her own brother."
"Well, at least you have someone to turn to. I don't have any, except being put into the special adoption program. So far, only some of the other people infected with the virus have gwown-erhm, I mean, GROWN up." He was beginning to struggle with words. "It's hard to find people who are wiwing to possibwy take care of a child or baby forever." He paused for a moment at his last sentence. "It's getting hard to talk like an adult."
"Yeah, I noticed." He seemed to be regressing mentally now. I heard one of the doctors say how mental regression was always present in every case, but it was slower in some than others. In some cases, the mental effects weren't as noticeable, even if they became very young. Danny was getting depressed again. "Look, don't let it get to you like that. It's not like you can help the changes going on. This may sound odd, but if I were in your position, I don't know if I would mind so much." Dan looked at me a bit funny. "It's true. I mean, if there was a cure, I'd be all for it, but since there isn't, not much you can do right? I'd just relax and go with the flow."
"Yeah, well that may be how you deaw wiff it. Heh, it wouwd be intowesting if me an' you went through dis togevew." His speech was getting worse, but I could understand him just fine.
"Haha, well don't think I haven't considered what it'd be like. I've seen you get smaller every day, and I've considered what it would be like if we both had it. Having someone else to talk to through it all who understands would be helpful."
"Yeah. It has been. Thank you for coming to see me evwy day Charwie."
"Hey, no problem. Besides, I think we may be seeing more of each other soon." I looked at my watch, which was trying to slide off my wrist. "I had better go. If I'm old enough to drive, I'll be here tomorrow." I joked.
"Okay. I hope I'm stiww owd enuff to tawk."
"You'll be fine. Don't get so down." I left, feeling that strange, familiar feeling. I didn't know how to feel about it though. I was already pretty sure I had the virus and was kind of glad I did. My adult life was more like a kid's life anyway. I allowed myself a little smile. Once home, I ate a peanut butter and jelly sandwich then got ready for bed. I watched a few late night cartoons before finally drifting off to sleep. That night, I had a strange dream.
In the dream, I was walking down a long, narrow hallway with white painted walls and green doors on each side. It looked like the hospital hallways I was so used to. Above each door to the left was a number. The doors to the right were without markings. The door I was standing at had the number 17 above it in black. I looked behind me and the doors continued on to 24. I looked back down the hallway and the numbers went all the way down to 1. Even though I couldn't see that far, I could tell that's where it stopped. As I walked down the hall, towards the descending numbers, I noticed that everything seemed to get larger. The doorknobs were getting higher and higher. I suddenly had on a pair of blue fleece footed pajamas. As I continued, the size of the garment matched my size perfectly. Soon my thumb found it's way into my mouth and I began sucking without thought. I looked into a few of the open doors on the right and saw old familiar faces. My co-workers, all looking at me shaking their heads in disappointment. I saw my parents in a different room doing the same. They all seemed ashamed of me. Tears began welling up in my eyes. I looked up to see what number door I was at, but could no longer read it. It looked like a foreign language now. I started to panic and tried to run back the other way, but it was like running in slow motion. It wouldn't let me return to my former age. I began to panic. I became aware that I was wearing something that was restricting my movement. Something was forcing my legs apart. I felt of what it could be and, to my horror, I discovered that I was wearing a bulky disposable diaper under my sleeper! My legs suddenly became too weak to stand and I dropped to my padded bottom. Then I felt a cold, clammy sensation in the front of my diaper. I had wet in it while running! I could hear laughter coming from the other rooms. Everyone was laughing at the poor little wet infant on the floor. Laughing at what I had become. The sound grew louder and louder until all at once I began to wail like the baby I had become.
It was then that I awoke, feeling cold and clammy again. This time, though, sweat wasn't the cause. I had actually wet the bed. The odor of stale urine hung heavy in the air. I immediately rushed to the bathroom where I proceeded to vomit again, then I showered and put the dirty sheets in the washer. I dressed in more of my old clothes, but they were hanging off me now. I looked in the mirror and saw the reflection of not a 16 year old, but more like 15 or even closer to 14! Unable to think clearly, I bolted out the door and got into my car. I had to adjust the seat so that I could see over the dash. I just hoped no cops would pull me over. Luck was on my side, and I managed to get to the hospital. I didn't even bother clocking in, I just ran to Dan's room to see him. I wanted to show him what had happened and tell him of my dream. I opened his door and walked in, but his room was silent and dark. I called for him, but there was no answer. Just then, a nurse walked in and shut the door.
"Welcome Charlie. We've been expecting you." she said.
"You have? Wait, where's Danny? What have you done with him?"
"He's fine. He his regression stopped at age 5, but his mental faculties continue to diminish. We have him in our special adoption ward now, watching him. We were watching you too. We knew all along that you had the virus. We heard you talking to Dan in this very room. Now this room is yours. You will stay here until I get back with some properly fitting clothes and the doctor. He wants to run some tests to see if you match with Danny."
"No! I won't! I demand to see Danny right now!"
"You'll see him soon enough. When you get young enough to be put in there with him." Then she turned to leave.
"Wait!" I demanded. She stopped. "I may have someone who can take care of me. I don't want to go live with some strange family."
"We'll talk about that later." she said, as she shut the door behind her.
"Now what do I do?" I thought. I weighed my options. I looked out of the door to see if I could still see the nurse, then I quickly snuck out. I knew where this special holding area was. I had passed by it several times in my work and wondered what it had been. I was soon spotted and a chase began. I started running while trying to hold my pants up. I managed to get to an elevator just in time and descended before they could get to me. Once on Dan's floor, I ran again, past all the familiar faces.
"Is that Charlie?!" I heard. "Couldn't be. That's just a little boy! Are you lost?" I just ignored them and ran to where they were holding Dan. I could see him through the glass window. He was sitting with his back facing me, looking the same as he had the day before. In a way, I was relieved to see him in that condition. I pounded on the glass.
"Danny! Danny!! Over here! Hey!!" Danny sluggishly turned his head and saw me. His face lit up as soon as he noticed.
"Charwie! Charwie! Ith's you!" Our voices were muffled a bit by the glass, but we could yell. I was glad he was able to remember me.
"Danny! I'm shrinking too! They're after me Danny! Help me!"
"I can't do anyfing Charwie! They got me woked in hewe!" Danny and I both began to cry.
"I'm scared Danny! Really scared! I wanna go home!" Just then, the elevator doors opened and the hospital security came towards me.
"Stop that kid!" they yelled. I ran from where I was, tears streaming down my face. I could no longer hold onto my pants and run, so I dropped them to pick up speed. I could hear the staff around me laughing at the little boy who just lost his pants. I ran around the corner and hid behind a bin of dirty linen. When they ran past, I got up and ran back towards Danny. Then one of the ladies on the staff grabbed me.
"Here he is! I've got him! You've gotten into a lot of trouble little man." she scolded. I just kicked and tried to get away. I saw the security coming and suddenly felt a warm sensation. I was peeing! "Oh my!" the woman screamed and let go. I ignored my wet underwear and continued to run. I got back to where Danny was and tried to open the door.
"Danny! Open the door! Try something!" Danny just looked at me funny, then laughed.
"Charwie wet! Charwie wet! Hehehe!" I gave up on opening the door and tried once again to evade the security. Just when I was about to reach the elevators, my soggy underwear fell to the floor, tripping me. I fell face forward onto the hard tile floor and was soon surrounded by security.
"Well well well. Looks like we caught you Charlie. I think we need to get you back into your room and get some diapers on you. You can't hold it in!" They began laughing all together at me and my soiled condition. I just wept silently at my fate. They took me to my room where a nurse was waiting. She promptly stripped me of my wet things, tossing them in a biohazard container. I'd never see them again. She then proceeded to give me a warm sponge bath as I cried.
"There there." she cooed. "It'll be alright little one." I was being comforted by a nurse who knew me before. "Poor Charlie. You were our best technician. Now what do you expect us to do?" she joked. "Don't worry. I'll take care of you." She continued to wash me all over. I stopped crying and put my thumb in my mouth. "Awww... just like a little baby." she said with a smile. I smiled back around my thumb and blushed terribly. "It's okay. Nothing I haven't seen before. You go right ahead."
I remember thinking, "I could get used to this." as I let the nurse do her job. She was the nicest, sweetest nurse I knew. She was in her 30s and had a husband in the postal service. Due to a problem, she could not have children, so she worked in the pediatric wing of the hospital. Mrs. Smith was her name. When she was done, she got out a hospital gown that would fit me. I looked at myself in the mirror again and to my surprise, I had shrunk during my little escapade. I was now only about 10-years-old. I was shrinking faster than Dan had. My emotions were regressing to match my age. I still had my mind together, but I wondered how long it would last. Mrs. Smith didn't put diapers on me, to my relief. Instead, I was put in a pair of child-sized briefs.
"Just don't have any accidents, or we WILL have to put you in diapers." she teased. I actually wondered how diapers would feel. Soon after, the doctor came in and took note of my condition.
"He seems to be regressing faster than the other one. I wonder what caused his. Do you think being in contact with Danny caused it?"
"I think so." I spoke up in my squeaky, childish voice. I would have to get used to hearing myself sound like that. "Only I don't know why I got it and none of you did."
"Well," he said, "there's nothing we can do to treat it. All we can do is wait and watch. We learned all we could from Danny. I don't think running the same tests on you would do any good. We'll take some blood and tissue samples, but there's no hope of recovery." It all kind of hit me when he said that. I thought of my adult life and what I could be doing. I would miss driving my car, going out for pizza whenever I wanted, watching R rated movies, and playing video games. Then I thought of the rest of my life. I was lonely. Never even had a relationship to speak of. I had to work on computers all day then come home and use mine to play games. Either way, I was at a computer most of the time. Then there were all the adult world woes. Such as bills, insurance, aches and pains that come with getting older. I decided to get some sleep. The chase had made me tired. The nurse and the doctor left but I could hear them discussing something as they walked away. I just drifted off to sleep, and had a different sort of dream this time.
I was in a house with green tiled floor. The tile wasn't like bathroom tile or square tile, but it was hard and had little patterns running through it. I noticed that I was very small and in bare feet. My feet stuck to the floor a bit as I moved. Then I was suddenly lifted up by some unknown force and placed in a playpen. I had blocks and other baby toys around me. I looked up and couldn't see who it was, but whoever it was seemed familiar to me and I felt at home. Then Danny wondered over to where I was. He was outside of the pen looking in.
"Hi Charwie! You gots widdow!" Then he laughed and ran off to watch cartoons. I noticed a warmth growing in my diaper again. Tears began swelling up as I thought someone would be coming by to laugh at me any time. Then the same unknown person who put me in the pen walked over and felt of the inside of my diaper with two fingers. Discovering I was wet, they comforted me and I felt better. Then I was hoisted out of the pen and taken to a strange, powder blue room. I was stripped of my wet diaper, cleaned with a wash cloth, and put in a fresh diaper with loving care. Then the person whom had changed me picked me up and held me in the air. I giggled as they swung me around and around.
Suddenly I was awake. Mrs. Smith was standing over me with a broad smile. "You need to go potty sweetie?" I could feel that cold, clammy feeling again. I knew I had wet the bed. I shook my head 'yes' and she guided me into the bathroom again. I hoped onto the toilet and tried to relieve myself while the nurse aids came in and changed my sheets. I knew they must have done it a lot, as they seemed to have a regular pattern to it. When I was done, Mrs. Smith cleaned me up, but instead of putting another gown on me, she dressed me in a pair of briefs, white shorts, and a gray t-shirt.
"How come you're not putting a gown on me again?" I asked, sleepily.
"Because honey, you're going home with me. Isn't that nice?" I was suddenly wide-awake and remembered my condition.
"Home? With you? Really?" I was hoping to go home with my sister, but somehow Mrs. Smith seemed more like a mother figure to me.
"That's right Charlie, and guess what?"
"What?" I said excited.
"You're going to have a little playmate! Come on in!" I turned my attention to the door.
"Hi Charwie!" It was Danny! He would be coming with me!
"Danny!" I ran over and hugged Danny. For the time being, he was still smaller than me, but not by much.
"You gots smawew!"
"Yeah! I'm getting smaller faster than you did!" I don't know why I sounded so excited about it.
"I've made arrangements with the doctor and I've adopted the both of you!" said Mrs. Smith.
"Oh boy!" Danny and I said simultaneously. "We're going to be brothers!" I had never had a brother before. The concept was new and exciting to me. I now had my own little brother.
"I've got the things from both of your apartments being loaded up right now. It'll be delivered to my house soon, so you'll still have all those toys." I was as happy as could be.
"Me and you can play with each other's toys!" I told to Danny.
"Yay! Me an' you gots the bestest toys!"
"But, what about me? I mean, doesn't the doctor want me to stay here in case I shrink more?" I asked.
"He said that there's nothing else he can do. He says you'll be happier out and about where you can play. The hospital is going to pay me to watch the both of you so that your condition will be noted in medical books for future study. You two will sort of be outpatients in this procedure. If you get smaller, we can adjust." Sounded like a plan to me.
"You mean, me and Dan can come and live with you? You'll be our mommy and your husband can be our daddy?" I asked her.
"Exactly. I've already talked it over with him. He's wanted children of his own as much as I have. We'll both love you two no matter what."
"Yay! Mommy and daddy! Mommy and daddy!" little Danny yelled.
"Okay you two, let's go home." With that, we left the hospital. I waved bye bye to the staff. They all knew who I was and what had happened. Some looked confused, some were sad, some happy, and others were just laughing. I didn't care. I was on cloud 9.
When we got to her house, we got out and looked around. She had the prettiest lawn on the block. There were several kids our age running around. It was perfect. Then mommy took us in to meet daddy. He was a big, jolly man with a voice to match.
"So these are the little ones you told me about? They're just perfect. What are your names?" Danny was a bit afraid at the deep voice daddy had, but he spoke up.
"Danny." I have to admit, he was a bit intimidating.
He looked over at Danny who seemed to be hiding. "Oh, don't be scared Danny. I'm going to be your new daddy from now on." He then reached down with his massive arms and hugged us both. His warm embrace comforted us both and we soon relaxed around him. It took us a little while to get used to things around the house. We were shown where the bathroom was and where our room was. Danny and I shared a room. It was a big, powder blue room with two beds, a TV, table and chairs, and a big box of toys. Danny and I sat and played with the toys for a long time, while mommy fixed dinner. The food smelled wonderful. It reminded me of the home cooked meals I used to have long ago.
"Dinner time boys!" she sang out to us. We both got up and began to run toward the kitchen. My shoes were bothering me a bit so I just kicked them off. Mommy picked us up one at a time and sat us down at the table. We were having fried chicken and macaroni and cheese. Dan and I ate until we were at bursting point.
"You boys sure eat fast!" daddy chuckled.
"You boys done? Ready for a bath?" I looked at Dan. He didn't look like he was quite ready for a bath. I could tell he wanted to go play some more. I volunteered to bathe first. She filled the tub with water while she stripped me of my clothing. "My my, you look like you've gotten a little smaller. Stand up next to this so I can measure you." Sure enough, I was smaller. I was now about 9-years-old. "Well, that's okay. I've got clothes that'll fit you even if you become an infant." The thought of that scared me a little, yet I knew that it wouldn't be so bad. Still, I showed a little terror on my face. Mommy comforted me saying, "No matter what happens, I'll still love you sweetie. Don't worry, you'll be fine." She put some Mr. Bubble in the bath and it bubbled up thick. The sweet smell brought back all kinds of fond memories. I climbed into the tub and began playing with the bath toys. Mommy left to go check on Danny and I was left by myself. I decided to make the best of it in case I got too small to have a bath like this. I began playing and splashing, moving the bubbles around with my hands, and just being a kid. After the bath, I was dressed in a set of Spiderman pajamas and underoos. The sleeves were long and blue with the trademark red and black webbing design down them. On the front was a big picture of Spidey swinging from the rooftops. I padded out of the bathroom and mommy carried Danny in to be washed. My freshly washed, bare feet stuck to the green tile floor a little bit. It was then that I remembered the dream I had earlier. The green tile floor and the powder blue room. Mrs. Smith must have been the one taking care of me. It made sense.
Soon after, Danny came out dressed in a smaller set of Blue's Clues pajamas. He didn't seem to mind. In fact, he ran around singing the theme song to the show, happy as could be. He had changed so much from the depressed kid I had met at the hospital. After that, it was time for bed. Mommy tucked us in and we both fell asleep. I had the same dream as last time, but now the person taking care of me had the face of Mrs. Smith. However, in the dream I was still a little baby, and that scared me and comforted me at the same time.
The next morning, Dan and I both awoke to wet beds. Daddy was at work, so mommy entered the room and saw our condition. "Boys, boys, boys. What am I going to do with you?" We both just blushed. I got out of bed and my wet pajama bottoms slid to the floor taking my underoos with it. I had gotten a lot smaller overnight. I looked over at Dan who was now at eye level with me. I guessed I must have become a 5-year-old overnight. "Oh my!" said mommy. "You're so little this morning. Here, lets get you both dressed." Danny and I were dressed in similar fashion. Osh-Kosh overalls with a t-shirt, socks, and Velcro shoes. I didn't mind being the same age as Danny, in fact, I kind of liked it.
After breakfast, Danny and I were allowed to go out in the back yard and play. There was a slide and wings to play on as well as a sandbox. The sandbox was what really got my attention. Danny immediately went over to the slide while I build sand castles with a shovel and pail. After building a bunch, Danny came over and asked, "Whatcha doin'?"
"Buiwdin' san'casows!" I noticed that my speech was now regressed to Danny's level.
"Can I smash em?"
"Pwetty pwease wit suga' on top?"
"Wew...okay." Dan and I both smashed the small sand city I had built. We pretended to be giants smashing everything. After getting sand everywhere we possibly could, we waddled inside.
"You boys look like you got sand in your britches!" Danny and I both laughed and nodded. Mommy took us back to get washed up. "My two little messy boys." she called us. Then we sat down and watched Blue's Clues together. Danny and I would yell out the answers and when we saw clues. Mommy brought us each a bowl of Spaghetti-Os.
"Skettios! Skettios!" we both shouted. We ate while watching and got the soup all over our faces. After being cleaned up yet again, we took a short nap. This time, when we woke up, Danny's bed was dry, but mine was soaked again.
"I think you boys need to start wearing Pull Ups to bed. I can't keep washing these sheets."
"But mommy, wook! My bed's dry!" Danny cried.
"I know honey, but you both still wet your beds at night. Why don't you go ahead and go play while I get your brother all cleaned up?" Danny shuffled off to go play while I sheepishly stood there in wet clothes. "How many times do I have to bathe you today?" mommy joked. I started to cry. "Aww..honey, it's okay." She walked over and hugged me. "Charlie, I believe you're even smaller than before! We should go measure you to be sure." She took me into the bathroom and sure enough, I was now the little brother. I couldn't have been more than 4-years-old. She bathed me off and put me into some even smaller clothing, then wrote the info down in her book. I walked out to face Dan.
"Charwie? You wook smawah!"
"Yeth," I said with my new lisp, "I gots widdower dan you!"
"Now you my widdow brother!" he hugged me. I didn't know what to think. I was his little brother now. It was quite a switch.
"Come! Leth pway!" I went over and got out a few of my old He-Man toys and he got out some GI Joes. We had a small war in our powder blue bedroom.
"By da powa of Gwayskoo!" I shouted, holding up He-Man. "I hab da powa!! Now I getchew good!" My older brother was a surprisingly good sport and let me win. Just then, daddy came home. We both ran to him shouting, "Daddy! Daddy!" He picked us both up with no effort.
"Well, Charlie. I guess you're the littlest now. You and your big brother getting along okay?" We both nodded 'yes.' "Good boys!" Then he sat down with us in his lap and told us a few stories about when he was little. Then it was suppertime. I had to sit in a booster seat this time, but I didn't mind. I had a bit of trouble eating, but mommy helped me. Then came another bath time. Mommy let me and Danny bathe together this time. We both played with the bubbles and splashed each other until we had gotten the floor very wet.
"That's enough you two!" said mommy. "Time to get out." Mommy got us both out and dried us off, then got out two pairs of Goodnights.
"No mommy!" Danny protested. "Dose for babies!"
"Now honey, these are for big boys who still wet the bed. There's nothing wrong with that. Lots of boys your age still wet the bed." She slid them onto Danny, then dressed him in Pokemon pajamas. He forgot about the Goodnights as soon as he saw them.
"Pikachu! Pikachu!" he exclaimed as he ran out of the bathroom. Then it was my turn. I didn't put up a fight. I was younger than Danny so I knew I needed them. She had to use a smaller pair on me, then dressed me in Bugs Bunny pajamas. Before going to bed, we got to watch Spongebob. Danny and I laughed so hard that I had an accident. I peed in my Goodnights. I knew that I had done it, but I wondered if I should tell mommy. By the time the show was over, I was feeling a bit cold and wet. So I told mommy about my accident. She wasn't mad, she just took them off and put on a dry pair, and kissed me on the forehead. I felt so small and helpless, but it couldn't be helped. I just wondered how small I would be the next morning.
I looked around at the early morning sun peeping through the window. I rolled over and discovered that my Goodnights were full. I had soaked them in the night. Not only that, but I almost rolled out of them. The discomfort caused me to cry out loud. Mommy came in and saw what had happened. Danny had wet too, but only enough to soak his Goodnights. His bed was dry. I had shrank in the night and leaked all over. "Oh my goodness! Charlie honey! You don't look like you're much older than two!"
"He's a baby now!" said Danny.
"I'm afraid so Danny. Oh Charlie, what are we going to do with you?" I just frowned and cried again. "Shhh... it'll be okay." She picked me up out of the wet Goodnights and cradled me. "We need to get you both cleaned up and get you into some diapers." Ugh, diapers. I had feared this day. She unfolded a changing table that she had handy and lay me down on it. She stripped off what was left of my pajamas and cleaned me with a baby wipe. Then she sprinkled a bit of powder on me and lifted both my legs into the air. A disposable diaper was slid into place and she let my bottom lie on top of it. Then she fastened the tapes and picked me up again. "There now. All clean and dry. Your turn Danny." Danny looked in horror as if she were going to put a diaper on him too. "Haha, no silly. Get to the bathroom. Skoot!" Relieved, Danny went into the bathroom. Mommy put me on the floor in the living room to play with some toys while she cleaned up Danny. I looked at the sun shining on the rug in the living room and tried to touch it. Danny came in and turned on the TV. I managed to get up on my weak legs and toddle over to him.
"Da-da-dan-ny!" I could barely talk!
"Hi baby Charwie! Mommy put a diapie on you. How's it feew?"
I just patted my chubby little hand on the front of the diaper and said, "Big!"
"Yeah, it is pweaty big. Dats so it can hold all youwa pee pee." I started giggling at Danny for saying "pee pee" so much that I fell onto my padded bottom.
"Hungry boys?" said mommy. She took us both into the kitchen and gave Danny a bowl of cereal. Mommy put a bib on me, heated up a bowl of oatmeal, and spooned it into my mouth. "Is that good?" I shook my head 'yes.' After eating, we watched our usual episode of Blue's Clues. Danny would shout out the answers and when he saw a clue. I just shouted when he did, trying to mimic him. It was a bit hard to understand now, but still fun.
After a little of that, I got up and went over to the toy chest. I suddenly had a rumble in my stomach and then clenched my fists onto the side of the toy box and I pushed in automatic response. I was pooping in my diaper! The pressure also caused my bladder to release, filling the front with that familiar warm feeling. Danny walked over to where I was, smelled me and yelled, "Mommy! Charwie is poopy!"
Mommy rushed in and looked into the back of my diaper. "Yep, he made a stinky. Let's get you changed." Once again I was lifted onto the changing table. She untapped the front of my diaper and lay it open. "Whew we! You certainly loaded it up!" I still had a few of my adult emotions and I blushed embarrassingly. Then a spurt of pee shot up, sprinkling mommy a bit. "Charlie!" she exclaimed as she threw the front of the diaper back up to soak up the rest. "You squirted mommy!" I just giggled uncontrollably as did Danny who saw the whole thing. After I was done, she lifted my legs and scraped off the excess from my bottom with the diaper. Then she used a wipe to clean up what was left. Then she rubbed in some baby oil, turned me over and sprinkled me with powder front to back. Then she turned me back over and placed a clean diaper under me, taping it together.
"You can just wear that diaper for now sweetie." She put me on the floor again in the living room. Danny went outside to play. I could see him through the glass doors and I whimpered. "Now now, he's much older than you. You're too young to be out there by yourself. I'll take you out there when I get done in the kitchen." I got up on shaky legs and tried to walk over to the glass door. The floor still stuck to my feet even though I hadn't had a bath. The natural moisture of youth had caused it this time. I looked down at my pudgy toes and tried to wiggle them, only to fall on my behind again. Tears welled up in my eyes and I began to cry. Mommy came over and picked me up. "Shh... it's okay baby. Here, you can sit in your play pen and play with your toys." She sat me in the playpen that she had put together earlier. I busied myself with the familiar blocks and plastic rings of toddler hood. Mommy came back soon and fed me a bottle of milk. Sucking on a nipple seemed like second nature to me, and I soon drained the whole thing. Then mommy put me over her shoulder and patted my back until I made a loud burp. I was a bit shocked by it, but mommy was happy to hear it. "That's a good boy!" I put my thumb in my mouth as he rocked me and I soon fell asleep.
When I awoke, I was surrounded by wooden bars. Mommy had put me in a crib. I tried to get up, but my legs wouldn't let me. I moved around and felt something squishy under my bottom. I had pooped in my sleep! I tried to grab hold of the bars to pull myself up, but fell back down. The shock of falling released my bladder and I began peeing uncontrollably. I tried to call out for my mommy, but I couldn't make words anymore. I finally gave up and just yelled at the top of my lungs and mommy came in.
"I guess you're awake now Charlie." She sniffed the air. "I think someone needs a change! Let's get you into a nice warm bath." This bath was extremely pleasurable. Mommy washed me all over with sweet smelling lavender baby soap and washed what little fuzz I had on top of my head. "The doctor says that you won't get any smaller than this. You're only about a year old now Charlie. Can you believe it? Very rarely do people with the virus get this young. I wonder if you can still understand what I'm saying." I looked up and her and clumsily nodded. "Wow, that's hard to believe too. I think your memory is going to fade in time though. Soon you won't remember anything except that you're my baby." I looked at the chubby nubs I had for fingers. Everything was out of reach for me now. I had to grab most things with both hands just to hold on to them. I kicked my little feet in the water causing tiny splashes. I couldn't even splash my big brother if he was in the tub. After the bath, I was dressed in another thick diaper and a blue fleece footed sleeper. The sleeper made me feel all warm and loved. She put a pacifier in my mouth and took me out of the room.
Mommy brought me into the living room to see daddy. "Where's my baby boy?" She sat me in his lap. He was a big man before, but now he seemed positively enormous. Still, I knew he was my daddy and I giggled in delight. "He's just our little baby boy now." Danny came in from the other room and jumped onto daddy's lap. "We've got two great sons, and a lifetime of love. I don't think I could ask for anything more."
After a little bit of food, I was placed into my crib. Danny got to stay up a bit later. I was a bit jealous, but he's bigger so I can't complain. So here I am. A helpless little baby. I used to be 24, but that's all changed now. Who would have thought I would end up here? Listening to the sound of the mobile as it turns and sucking on my toes innocently. Nothing to worry about now but eating, diapers, and toys. I've got a loving family and peace at last.
Charlie wondered about his sister from time to time. He remembered having a sister, but never knew what happened to her. Charlie never found out, but the hospital had informed his sister that he had contracted a deadly disease and died at the hospital. At the time, she had just adopted a baby of her own, from a special ward at a hospital in her area. Charlie and Danny didn't know if they'd ever grow up or not. They retained a bit of their adult memories, but those soon faded. All they knew was that they were in a place where they would be loved. In time, doctors discovered that the disease is different from person to person depending on their mental state. Since Charlie was a kid at heart, and had such fond early childhood memories, his regression was quicker and more severe. One thing is for sure, Charlie and his new family would live happily ever after.