Roger the Raccoon was hungry and thirsty. Since arriving in this land, all she could think about was finding her friends, but now her tummy was rumbling. She needed food.
The bushes weren’t a kind she recognized, and they were empty of fruit. She couldn’t find any insects either. But up ahead she saw some trees. Surely she’d find something there.
She climbed up one particularly odd tree – it had a tall bare trunk which suddenly bulged out at the top like it had exploded. There were giant leaf-like branches with dozens of long, thin leaves coming off each one. And below the leaves, tucked into the tree’s bulge like a nest of some kind, were enormous green seeds of some kind – bigger than any seeds she’d ever seen.
Roger found it easy to climb up, although holding on while checking out the seeds was tricky. She reached out to pull on one of the seeds. Her back foot slipped, and she grabbed hold of a branch to steady herself. Her weight pulled down on the branch, and the movement knocked three of the seeds off. As she watched the seeds fall to the ground far below, she sighed with relief that it wasn’t her falling that far. She was confused when she saw them break apart, showing something dark inside each one.
She climbed back to the trunk and slowly back down the tree to investigate. She pulled the rest of the outside covering off one of the seeds. What was left was something like a hard – and hairy – egg.
What is this? she asked herself. Can I eat it?
She picked one up, which she found difficult because of its size. She found she had to stand on her back legs to hold it off the ground, and even then, she had to lean back a little to make it work.
She tried dropping it on the ground repeatedly to crack it open, but the ground was too soft. Even when she smashed it against the other seeds, all it it did was break the husks off those too. She was going to need to take it somewhere more rocky. She didn’t like walking on her back feet at the best of times, let alone when she was hungry and in a strange land, and more than once she leaned back a little too much or stepped on something uneven, sending her and the hard hairy egg down to the ground. At one point, it rolled away from her down a steep slope, and when she caught up with it, she saw exactly what she was looking for, down in the valley not far from where she was; a stream, with rocks.
Perfect, she thought. I can break it and wash it at the same time.
Alternating between kicking the egg while walking on her back legs and pushing it while on all fours, Roger managed to get it to the edge of the water. She stood over a jagged rock, picked up the egg, and smashed it down onto the rock. Sure enough, the egg cracked. But it still needed work. She picked up a thin jagged rock and wedged it into the crack. Then she picked up a larger rock and whacked it down onto the wedge.
Success! The egg cracked wide open, to reveal… Hmm… she thought. What is this?
Inside the hairy dark shell was a layer of white. But then inside the white was… nothing? A little juice dripped out, but that was all. So where was the food?
Roger scraped away some of the white layer to see if there was something she was missing. Her claws pulled it away pretty easily. But there was nothing underneath. Weird, she thought. Usually there’s something yummy inside an egg.
There was a scent coming from the white gunk on her paw that she’d never smelled before. It was sweet and woody, and she couldn’t help but lick her paw to get some of the taste in her mouth.
“Whoa!” she said out loud. “This is delicious!”
Roger looked back at the egg. So the white stuff is the food! she realized. She picked up the pieces of the shell, and took it to the stream. Now that she knew this was food, she had to wash it, of course.
As she reached the stream’s edge, she sensed a different smell coming from the water than she was used to. This place was full of smells she’d never experienced before, though, so she didn’t give it much thought, especially with the prospect of a delicious new food so close to hand.
She dipped a piece of the shell into the water and swished it around, feeling it all over with her paws. She lifted it out, and scooped as much of the white layer off as she could, chewing it and savoring the taste. This was wonderful. She gave several deep sighs of contentment as she ate – she had never before had the experience of having such a rich feast to fill her empty stomach.
The food made her even more thirsty than she had been before, though, and she bent down to lap up as much water as she could.
It was after she finished drinking and finally relaxed that she started to notice the change.
Everything around her was getting smaller. Everything. The trees, the stream, the food, the hills… even the sky seemed to be getting smaller. She felt light-headed and wobbly. That’s when she wondered if maybe it wasn’t that other things were getting smaller; maybe she was getting bigger.
It was slow at first, then faster, but it slowed down again, and eventually seemed to stop. She was large enough now that she took up most of the space in the stream; in fact, she realized she was creating a dam, and when she moved, the water rushed down in a big whoosh.
She stepped out of the stream – it was hard to figure out how to move her body, now that it was so much bigger. The rock that she’d smashed the egg against was now just a pebble, and the slope she’d come down was so much easier to climb up. The trees were still taller than her, but she could stand on her back feet and reach the top if she wanted to.
“What is going on?” she said out loud.
She made her way up the side of the small hill closest to her – not that she had any particular destination in mind, but she just felt disorientated and wanted to get away from the stream that had either embiggened her or ensmallened the rest of the world around her.
As she reached the top she stood up on her hind feet to look around her. For a moment she thought of her old home inside the fake mountaintop, with all the orange jackets buzzing around all day. Everything about this place felt so different. Everything was real, but didn’t make any sense. She thought if she could only see a person in an orange jacket that she’d feel okay again.
But her added height didn’t seem to work well for her, and she suddenly felt herself get very dizzy. She closed her eyes, and her newly-giant body twisted and fell to the ground with a giant flwlump.
Across a valley but not far away, a dog made out of chocolate said, “What was that?” and turned his head.
“Huh,” Montgomery the Moose replied, looking the same direction. It looks like my friend Roger… but…”
“Is your friend Roger usually that size?” the Chocolate Lab asked.
“Well, it’s hard to tell. Maybe she’s just a lot closer to us than everything else is.”
The Chocolate Lab looked at Montgomery the Moose with disdain and shook his head to show that he didn’t think he should have to put up with such nonsense.
“What?” asked Montgomery defensively. “It’s perspective. Do you know about perspective?”
“I know my perspective is a whole lot better than your perspective. That’s what I know about perspective.”
They started walking towards Roger, before the Chocolate Lab stopped again.
“Okay, just to be clear,” he started, “this friend of yours is usually smaller than this, or bigger than this?”
“Well, again, until we get close enough I can’t really tell.”
“Are you serious?!” the Dog barked. He’s bigger than you are!”
“She,” Montgomery corrected. “And how do you know, maybe those trees and everything else around Roger are tiny.” The Chocolate Lab closed his eyes, and let out a low growl. Montgomery felt, inaccurately, that his point was getting across, and said with pride, like he was teaching the Chocolate Lab a new term, “see? Per-spective.”
The Chocolate Lab just rolled his eyes, and they walked for a few hundred yards until they reached Roger, who, even in her unconscious state, was clearly bigger than Montgomery the Moose.
The Chocolate Lab, with condescendingly wide eyes, looked back and forth between Roger and Montgomery. “See?” he said. “That’s perspective.”
“Exactly!” Montgomery replied excitedly. “I’m so glad you’re getting it.” He had seen Roger’s fur moving as she breathed, but still checked her face to see breath going in and out.
“So yeah,” he added finally, “she’s usually smaller than this.”
“And what about her?” the Chocolate Lab asked.
“Yeah, I told you. she’s a she,” he replied. “I mean, her name is Roger, which I can get is a bit conf…”
“No, I mean her,” Roger corrected, indicating with his nose to a woman walking towards them. She was around five and a half inches tall, and carried a small pack over her right shoulder. She was covered in dirt, like she had traveled from far away.
“Um,” Montgomery stumbled. “I, uh, I don’t know her…”
The woman walked right up to them, and looked at Roger like this wasn’t the first time she’d seen a raccoon a hundred times her size. Then she turned to the Chocolate Lab and Montgomery the Moose.
“I’m hoping you can help me,” she started. “I’m looking for my sons.”