The Fight in the Shrinking Dome Roomby@astoundingstories
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The Fight in the Shrinking Dome Room

by Astounding StoriesAugust 11th, 2023
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In "Astounding Stories of Super-Science," Chapter III follows Alan and the protagonist in a shrinking dome room. A small girl named Glora warns them about approaching danger. After their gag is removed, Glora plans to help them escape from giants by giving them a volatile drug that makes them grow larger. As the room shrinks, they battle giants with newfound strength, and Glora assists from her hiding spot. In their frenzy, they accidentally break the dome and emerge into a blizzard. The story is part of the HackerNoon Book Series, which offers public domain books for free.
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Astounding Stories of Super-Science March 1931, by Astounding Stories is part of HackerNoon’s Book Blog Post series. You can jump to any chapter in this book here. Beyond the Vanishing Point - Chapter III: The Fight in the Shrinking Dome Room

Chapter III: The Fight in the Shrinking Dome Room

It seemed that Alan was stirring. I felt the tiny hand leave my ear. I thought that I could hear faint little footfalls as the girl scampered away, fearful that a sudden movement from Alan would crush her. I turned cautiously after a moment and saw Alan's eyes upon me. He too had seen, with a blurred returning consciousness, the dwindling figures of Babs and Polter. I followed his gaze. The white slab with the golden quartz under the microscope seemed empty of human movement. The several men in this huge circular dome-room were dispersing to their affairs: three of them sat whispering by what I now saw was a pile of gold ingots stacked crosswise. But the fellow at the microscope held his place, his eye glued to its aperture as he watched the vanishing figures of Polter and Babs on the rock-fragment.

Alan seemed trying to convey something to me, He could only gaze and jerk his head. I saw behind his head the figure of the tiny girl on the floor behind him. She wanted evidently to approach his head but did not dare. When for an instant he was quiet, she ran forward, but at once scampered back.

From the group by the ingots, one of the men rose and came toward us. Alan held still, watching. And the girl, Glora, seized the opportunity to come nearer. We both heard her tiny voice:

"Do not move! Close your eyes! Make him think you are still unconscious."

Then she was gone, like a mouse hiding in the shadows near us.

Amazement swept Alan's face; he twisted, mouthed at his gag. But he saw my eager nod and took his cue from me.

I closed my eyes and lay stiff, breathing slowly. Footsteps approached. A man bent over Alan and me.

"Are you no conscious yet?" It was the voice of a foreigner, with a queer, indescribable intonation. A foot prodded us. "Wake up!"

Then the footsteps retreated, and when I dared to look the man was rejoining his fellows. It was a strange-looking trio. They were heavy-set men in leather jackets and short, wide knee-length trousers. One wore tight, high boots, and the others a sort of white buskin, with ankle straps. All were bareheaded—round, bullet heads of close-dipped black hair.

I suddenly had another startling realization. These men were not of normal size as I had assumed! They were eight or ten feet tall at the very least! And they and the pile of ingots, instead of being close to me, were more distant than I had thought.

Alan was trying to signal me. The tiny girl was again at his ear, whispering to him. And then she came to me.

"I have a knife. See?" She backed away. I caught the pin-point gleam of what might have been a knife in her hand. "I will get a little larger. I am too small to cut your ropes. You lie still, even after I have cut them."

I nodded. The movement frightened her so that she leaped backward; but she came again, smiling. The three men were talking earnestly by the ingots. No one else was near us.

Glora's tiny voice was louder, so that we both could hear it at once.

"When I free you, do not move or they may see that you are loose. I get larger now—a little larger—and return."

She darted away and vanished. Alan and I lay listening to the voices of the three men. Two were talking in a strange tongue. One called to the man at the microscope, and he responded. The third man said suddenly:

"Say, talk English. You know damn well I can't understand that lingo."

"We say, McGuire, the two prisoners soon wake up."

"What we oughta do is kill 'em. Polter's a fool."

"The doctor say, wait for him return. Not long—what you call three, four hours."

"And have the Quebec police up here lookin' fer 'em? An' that damn girl he stole off the terrace—What did he call her, Barbara Kent?"

"These two who are drugged, their bodies can be thrown in a gully down behind St. Anne. That what the doctor plan to do, I think. Then the police find them—days maybe from now—and their smashed airship with them."

Gruesome suggestion!

The man at the microscope called, "They are gone. Almost. I can hardly see them more." He left the platform and joined the others. And I saw that he was much smaller than they—about my own size possibly.

There seemed six men here altogether. Four now, by the ingots, and two others far across the room where I saw the dark entrance of the corridor-tunnel which led to Polter's castle.

Again I felt a warning hand touch my face, and saw the figure of Glora standing by my head. She was larger now—about a foot tall. She moved past my eyes; stood by my mouth; bent down over my gag. I felt the cautious side of a tiny knife-blade inserted under the fabric of the gag. She hacked, tugged at it, and in a moment ripped it through.

She stood panting from the effort. My heart was pounding with fear that she would be seen; but the man had turned the central light off when he left the microscope, and it was far darker here now than before.

I moistened my dry mouth. My tongue was thick, but I could talk.

"Thank you, Glora."


I felt her hacking at the ropes around my wrists. And then at my ankles. It took her a long time, but at last I was free! I rubbed my arms and legs; felt the returning strength in them.

And presently Alan was free. "George, what—" he began.

"Wait!" I whispered. "Easy! Let her tell us what to do."

We were unarmed. Two, against these six, three of whom were giants.

Glora whispered, "Do not move! I have the drugs. But I can no give them to you when I am still so small. I have not enough. I will hide—there." Her little arm gestured to where, near us, half a dozen boxes were piled. "When I am large as you, I come back. Be ready, quickly to act. I may be seen. I give you then the drug."

"But wait," Alan whispered. "We must know—"

"The drug to make you large. In a moment then you can fight these men. I had planned it for myself, to do that, and then I saw you held captive. That girl of your world the doctor just now steal, she is friend of yours?

"Yes! Yes, Glora. But—" A thousand questions were springing in my mind, but this was no time to ask them. I amended, "Go! Hurry! Give us the drug when you can."

The little figure moved away from us and disappeared. Alan and I lay as we had before. But now we could whisper. We tried to anticipate what would happen; tried to plan, but that was futile. The thing was too strange, too astoundingly fantastic.

HOW long Glora was gone I do not know. I think, not over three or four minutes. She came from her hiding place, crouching this time, and joined us. She was, probably, of normal Earth size—a small, frail-looking girl something over five feet tall. We saw now that she was about sixteen years old. We lay staring at her, amazed at her beauty. Her small oval face was pale, with the flush of pink upon her cheeks—a face queerly, transcendently beautiful. It was wholly human, yet somehow unearthly, as though unmarked by even the heritage of our Earthly strifes.

"Now! I am ready." She was fumbling at her robe. "I will give you each the same."

Her gestures were rapid. She flung a quick glance at the distant men. Alan and I were tense. We could easily be discovered now, but we had to chance it. We were sitting erect. He murmured:

"But what do we do? What happens? What—"

On the palm of her hand were two small pink-white pellets. "Take these—one for each of you. Quickly!"

Involuntarily we drew back. The thing abruptly was gruesome, frightening. Horribly frightening.

"Quickly," she urged. "The drug is what you call highly radio-active. And volatile. Exposed to the air it is gone very soon. You are afraid? No! No, it will not harm you."

With a muttered curse at his own reluctance, Alan seized the pellet. I stopped him.


The men momentarily were engaged in a low-voiced, earnest discussion. I dared to hesitate a moment longer.

"Glora, where will you be?"

"Here. Right here. I will hide."

"We want to go after Mr. Polter." I gestured. "Into that little piece of golden rock. Is that where he went? Is that where he took the Earth girl?"

"Yes. My world is there—within an atom there in that rock."

"Will you take us?"

"Yes! Yes!"

Alan whispered suddenly, "Then let us go now. Get smaller, now."

But she shook her head vehemently. "That is not possible. We would be seen as we climbed the platform and crossed the white slab."

"No." I protested. "Not if we get very small, hiding here first."

She was smiling, but urgently fearful of this delay. "Should we get that small, then it would be, from here"—she gestured toward the microscope—"to there, a journey of very many miles. Don't you understand?"

This thing so strange!

Alan was plucking at me. "Ready, George?"


I put the pellet on my tongue. It tasted slightly sweet, but seemed quickly melted and I swallowed it hastily. My head swam. My heart was pounding, but that was apprehension, not the drug. A thrill of heat ran through my veins as though my blood were on fire.

Alan was clinging to me as we sat together. Glora again had vanished. In the background of my whirling consciousness the sudden thought hovered that she had tricked us; done to us something diabolical. But the thought was swept away in the confusion of the flood of impressions upon me.

I turned dizzily. "All right, Alan?"

"Yes, I—I guess so."

My ears were roaring, the room seemed whirling, but in a moment that passed. I felt a sudden, growing sense of lightness. A humming was within me—a soundless tingle. To every tiny microscopic cell in my body the drug had gone. The myriad pores of my skin seemed thrilling with activity. I know now it was the exuding volatile gas of this disintegrating drug. Like an aura it enveloped me, acted upon my garments.

I learned later much of the principles of this and its companion drug. I had no thought for such things now. The huge dimly illumined room under the dome was swaying. Then abruptly it steadied. The strange sensations within me were lessening, or I forgot them. And I became aware of externals.

The room was shrinking! As I stared, not with horror now, but with amazement and a coming triumph, I saw everywhere a slow, steady, crawling movement. The whole place was dwindling. The platform, the microscope, were nearer than before, and smaller. The pile of ingots, with the men off there, was shifting toward me.

"George! My God—weird!"

I saw Alan's white face as I turned to him. He was growing at the same rate as myself evidently, for of all the scene he only was unchanged.

We could feel the movement. The floor under us was shifting, crawling slowly. From all directions it came, contracting as though it were being squeezed beneath us. In reality our expanding bodies were pushing outward.

The pile of boxes which had been a few feet away, were thrusting themselves at me I moved incautiously and knocked them over. They seemed small now, perhaps half their former size. Glora was standing behind them. I was sitting and she was standing, but across the litter, our faces were level.

"Stand up!" she murmured. "You all right now. I hide!"

I struggled to my feet, drawing Alan up with me. Now! The time for action was upon us! We had already been discovered. The men were shouting, clambering to their feet. Alan and I stood swaying. The dome-room had contracted to half its former size. Near us was a little platform, chair and microscope. Small figures of men were rushing at us.

I shouted, "Alan! Watch yourself!"

We were unarmed. These men might have automatics. But evidently they did not. Knives were in their hands. The whole place was ringing with shouts. And then a shrill siren alarm from outside was clanging.

The first of the men—a few moments before he had seemed a giant—flung himself upon me. His head was lower than my shoulders. I met him with a blow of my fist in his face. He toppled backward; but from one side, another figure came at me. A knife-blade bit into the flesh of my thigh.

The pain seemed to fire my brain. A madness descended upon me. It was the madness of abnormality. I saw Alan with two dwarfed figures clinging to him. But he threw them off, and they turned and ran.

The man at my thigh stabbed again, but I caught his wrist and, as though he were a child, whirled him around me and flung him away. He landed with a crash against the shrunken pile of gold nuggets and lay still.

The place was in a turmoil. Other men were appearing from outside. But they stood now well away from us. Alan backed against me. His laugh rang out, half hysterical with the madness upon him as it was upon me.

"God! George, look at them! So small!"

They were now hardly the height of our knees. This was now a small, circular room, under a lowering concave dome. A shot came from the group of pigmy figures. I saw the small stab of flame, heard the sing of the bullet.

We rushed, with the full frenzy of madness upon us, enraged giants. What actually happened I can not recount. I recall scattering the little figures; seizing them; flinging them headlong. A bullet, tiny now, stung the calf of my leg. Little chairs and tables under my feet were crashing. Alan was lunging back and forth; stamping; flinging his tiny adversaries away. There were twenty or thirty of the figures here now. Then I saw some of them escaping.

The room was littered with wreckage. I saw that by some miracle of chance the microscope was still standing, and I had a moment of sanity.

"Alan, watch out! The microscope! The platform—don't smash it! And Glora! Look out for her!"

I suddenly became aware that my head and a shoulder had struck the dome roof. Why, this was a tiny room! Alan and I found ourselves backed together, panting in the small confines of a circular cubby with an arching dome close over us. At our feet the platform with the microscope over it hardly reached our boot-tops. There was a sudden silence, broken only by our heavy breathing. The tiny forms of humans strewn around us were all motionless. The others had fled.

Then we heard a small voice. "Here! Take this! Quickly! You are too large! Quickly!"

Alan took a step. And then a sudden panic was on us both. Glora was here at our feet. We did not dare turn; hardly dared move. To stoop might have crushed her. My leg hit the top of the microscope cylinder. It rocked but did not fall.

Where was Glora? In the gloom we could not see her. We were in a panic.

Alan began, "George, I say—"

The contracting inner curve of the dome bumped gently against my head. The panic of confusion which was upon us turned to fear. The room was closing in to crush us.

I muttered. "Alan! I'm going out!" I braced myself and heaved against the side and top curve of the dome. Its metal ribs and heavy translucent, reinforced glass plates resisted me. There was an instant when Alan and I were desperately frightened. We were trapped, to be crushed in here by our own horrible growth. Then the dome yielded under our smashing blows. The ribs bent; the plates cracked.

We straightened, pushed upward and emerged through the broken dome, with head and shoulders towering into the outside darkness and the wind and snow of the blizzard howling around us!

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Various. 2009. Astounding Stories of Super-Science, March 1931. Urbana, Illinois: Project Gutenberg. Retrieved May 2022 from

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