When he woke, Hank found himself wedged into a runnel of wood grain. Wide-eyed, he checked the time and found he’d only been asleep for a few hours, as planned.
“Son of a bitch.” He sighed through his nose. “Shrinking faster than I thought.”
“Or with serious gains.”
You’re talking to yourself again, Hank.
“Not like there’s anyone here to listen.”
But if there was?
And then sat up. The grain flowed around him in a dark river of iterating rings, dappled and imperfect. If the malfunction in his suit was speeding up, he’d be able to watch the dapples get bigger as he walked over them, becoming holes he’d step into.
And then pits he could fall in.
Eventually, pigment would turn into patterns–messes of atomic structures that would be impossible to recognize as blue or red. Nets of molecules that would part beneath his feet.
“Okay. You know what? I like talking to myself.”
Talk to Jan.
Blinking, Hank pulled the recorder off of his suit–a piece of black box protocol just for such an occasion. He took a deep breath. “Jan . . .”
The edge of the grain river was up to his ankles. Had it already been there?
He shut his eyes. “Beautiful . . . impossibly intelligent Janet Pym . . .” He swallowed, and licked his dry lips.
Walk. You can still get to the manual particle override, but only if you start walking now.
Then why aren’t you walking?
He adjusted his grip on the recorder, fabric creaking. “I’m going to take a moment with this. Because it’s maybe the last time one of my experiments tries to kill me. And I know you love when that happens–these stupid adventures of mine.
“But I’m pretty sure the experiment’s going to win this time. And that . . . feels depressingly appropriate. Of all of the ways I could die, this, somehow, feels right.
“So, what I’m going to do is, I’m going to detail this entire, stupid adventure of mine–this last one–so you can at least laugh at it some day.”
The river curved away ahead of him–an arc of thirty paces.
“But, ya know, as I explain, I’m just gonna walk too. Because the only thing scarier than the idea of dying here . . .
“. . . is the idea that this is the last time I’ll ever fuck something up.
“And, having said that, I realize now that I didn’t say I’m afraid I’d never see you again. I also realize that this recorder has no rewind feature.”
He sighed as he started walking. “Goddammit.”
So, this is the one idea I’ve ever had for an Ant-Man story. It was super fun playing up Hank Pym’s tendency to be terrible, but toning it down–making him a combination of genuinely horrible, abusive Hank Pym, and lovable, clueless scientist Hank Pym (who’s my favorite). The result was a total fuck up, which feels like a perfect fit (especially after his arc in The Ultimates).
At any rate, I hope you enjoyed reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it.
If this is your first time here, my name is Louis Santiago, and I’m a fantasy writer based in the Bronx. My short story, “Aixa the Hexcaster,” was recently published in Mirror Dance Fantasy. However, I’m still very much learning about the writing process–still trying to figure it out. Part of that means posting on here every weekday, even though I make absolutely no money from it. So, if you like what you read here and feel up to getting an email every weekday–a new post from me delivered right to your inbox–then please hit the Follow button at the bottom of this page. Because, even though all I get from this site is emotional support, that support means the world to me.
No matter what you do, though, thank you just for dropping by. And, as always, write well.