The first thing that went was the sound. It wasn’t that there was no sound to be heard, it was just that Sam’s ears were far too small to process anything. What used to be decibels that he could once easily hear and understand had now become little more than sonic waves through the air around him, changing the pressure and causing his ears to pop as the molecules moved about. His world had become a silent expanse of jagged edges and dark canyons, broken only by the muted quality of his breathing and the thudding of his heart in his ears.
It had been little more than a week since he had become too small for Dean to see and had slipped into the darkness that was the cracks in Bobby’s table. After living in the dark of the walls for so long, it didn’t take much before his eyes had adjusted to his new world, and he had pressed forward. Each day he dwindled in size more and more, and the world around him became an alien landscape. Far, far above him, in what seemed a galaxy away, he could hear, and now only feel, as Dean continued to search for him. It broke Sam’s heart and he had to fight to keep the tears away, knowing he would never see his brother again. He had to go forward. He had to keep moving.
The jagged edges of the wooden canyon eventually gave way to brown porous mountains as Sam continued to get smaller. The pores in the wood made climbing easier as most were the size of his fist. Currently, he was making his way along the steep wall of a ravine, towards what he suspected was a crumb of long forgotten food. It was hard to tell what things were at his size. The crumb itself was as big as a mansion and was lodged between the two walls of the ravine. Its tan color had Sam thinking it was probably bread and he flinched at the thought that he was small enough that a bread crumb outsized him. In any case, he had exhausted his food supplies in his bag and the crumb was certainly large enough to feed him for several days, until he got too small to eat it.
Sam made his way down to a ledge close to the side of the crumb. When he reached the ledge, he gave himself a moment to rest. Sam was thankful for his fit body since he had been climbing nearly nonstop. Still, his arms and legs were sore from the exertion he had put them through in this new world.
Up close, the crumb was just as jagged and sharp-edged as the rest of the landscape around him. But as he approached he noticed that the surface of some spots on the crumb seemed to be…moving?
Clusters of clear bean-shaped objects, most no bigger than Sam’s thumbnail, were seemingly vibrating on the surface of the crumb, and Sam gave a small gasp when he realized what he was looking at.
He was small enough that he could see individual microorganisms. The sight fascinated and terrified him at the same time. The bacteria looked like colorless jellybeans, and seemed to wiggle and glide around and over each other. As Sam watched, one of the bigger bacteria started to pinch in two, and it wasn’t long before two smaller bacteria had formed. With a huff, Sam realized he had just witnessed cell division with the naked eye.
As interesting as the bacteria were, he was still hungry, and, not knowing if accidently eating the little guys would make him sick, he carefully and thoroughly swept a piece of the crumb clear before breaking it off. It was slightly difficult to bite into, and had no taste. Molecules were too big for his taste buds to register anymore. But food was food, and he stuffed his bag full of crumb pieces for later meals.
After first noticing the bacteria on the crumb, he realized that the little guys were everywhere. Since they were colorless they were hard to see, but now Sam knew what to look for. And they were harmless. It was almost kind of comforting in a round-about way, that Sam wasn’t the only living thing in this harsh world. Whenever he would stop to rest, he would watch the small clusters of bacteria wiggle around each other, like bees in a colony.
He never stayed too long though. To stop moving was to put himself at risk. The landscape around him was always changing, pieces of the canyons breaking off and falling to the bottom below, temporary perches were deathtraps if he stayed too long. He found that out near the beginning, when the ledge he was sleeping on suddenly snapped free and he fell into the canyon, scraping his arm against the rough wall before managing to catch a hold with his hook and fishing line. He never slept for more than a few hours at a time after that. All it took was one earthquake from the planet-sized beings that Dean and Bobby were now to destroy Sam’s world and send him plummeting to his death. Sam always knew when Dean was searching for him, since the landscape would shake with the hurricane winds above him that were Dean’s breath. Down in the depths, the wind did not reach Sam, but he could feel the change in air pressure as the molecules far above him twisted and rode with the power of his brother’s lungs. He always kept his hook ready, just in case.
Sam stopped to rest and noticed something far larger than a bacteria moving over the porous ground. He recognized it as an amoeba from a science class when he was a kid, a lifetime ago. The amoeba was about the size of a basketball to him, and it was steadily moving forward by reaching out with its ever changing arms. Sam watched as it flowed towards a cluster of bacteria and started to engulf them with its pseudopodia. Within seconds, the unlucky bacteria were swept into the amoeba’s body to be digested. With a jolt, Sam realized that soon he would be small enough for that to happen to him as well. He found a different place to rest.
By the time he had shrunk so that the bacteria were as big as he was, Sam was no longer able to eat from the crumbs in the table. They were too big and he was too small. He had gone a few days without food already, and he was starting to get desperate. The only thing around him that served as a possible solution was the bacteria themselves, but he was loathe to try them. However, he didn’t have a choice.
Sam had been trying to stay away from the clusters of bacteria, not wanting to get caught in the center of the moving mass and suffocate to death. Now, he approached a cluster warily, silver knife in his hand. A single bacterium was a short distance away from the cluster, and Sam chose that as his prey. Now that he was the same size as the bacteria, he could see that they were not uniform all over. The outside of the bacteria had what looked like a hard shell, with strange shapes covering the surface. Inside, Sam could see long strands of something that reminded him of spaghetti. He figured that the best thing for him to eat was the insides of the bacteria.
Plunging his knife into the surface of the microorganism, he swept downward, and was surprised when his knife cut through the shell with relative ease. A gooey gel flowed out from the cut and Sam picked up a handful of the stuff and put some in his mouth. It was gritty, with no flavor, but went down easy enough. He just hoped that it wouldn’t kill him.
Eating the bacteria did not kill him. In fact, he felt a lot better now that he was able to eat from a seemingly limitless food source, until of course that got too big for him as well. But for now, his stomach was full and he wasn’t under the immediate threat of starvation.
He was so small now that the pores of the wood were caves and tunnels that he could easily fit into. Sam found a secluded spot away from any bacteria clusters and closed his eyes for a short nap. He was woken up when something cold wrapped around his leg. With a jolt, he leapt to his feet, or at least tried to. Whatever had his leg made him trip and hit the ground hard. He turned to see what had him trapped and laid eyes on one of the most terrifying sights he had ever seen.
An amoeba the size of an eighteen-wheeler was warping its arms around Sam. He stood no chance of escape. In a second he was surrounded by cold gel and couldn’t breathe. He struggled in the slush, but it was like fighting tar. Black spots dotted his vision from the lack of oxygen, and he willed himself to stay conscious. Somehow, he managed to grip ahold of his knife. Reaching as far as he could go through jelly of the amoeba, he slashed down with all his strength, and hoped and prayed that he breached the cell membrane. Suddenly he was sucked through the gel as the cytoplasm spilled through the hole he had managed to make. His head hit air and he took deep gasping breaths while struggling to pull himself away from the gel. Behind him, he could see that the amoeba was starting to reach for him again. Pumped full of adrenaline, he slashed out again and again until the ground around him was thick with cytoplasm. The amoeba lay dying, each move it made forcing more of its precious innards out through the wounds Sam had inflicted.
Once he was sure it was dead, Sam turned and ran, not wanting to stay there any longer.
The world around him was fuzzy. Sam was now at the size where he no longer saw single structures but vast expanses made up of millions upon millions of molecules that were constantly moving, constantly vibrating. It was like watching a tightly packed crowd of tiny people jostle each other about. It brought up the fear that he had been trying not to think about up to this point. How small was he going to get?
He was always hungry now, since he had been eating very little, trying to have his rations last as long as possible. Sam had no idea how long he had been living like this. He did know that he had lost weight, and a scraggy beard had grown on his face. His hair was longer, too, past his shoulders, and his clothes were ratty and torn. Somehow his bag had managed to survive for this long, and he was immensely grateful for that.
He knew now that he was on the final stretch. It wouldn’t be long before there was nothing left of this world that he could comprehend. Sam did have a sense of pride, though, that he had survived this far. However, he knew he had to prepare himself for the inevitable.
He woke to darkness, with nothing below him, nothing around him. It was like he was floating in space. He strained his eyes to see if he could spot something, anything, but there was nothing. Suddenly, far, far in the distance there was a flash of light, moving too fast for him to fully see. As he continued to look, he realized that those flashes were everywhere, like he was trapped in an electric storm and there was lightning around him. But then he realized that those flashes were electrons.
A sob broke in his throat. He had become subatomic, smaller than even an atom, and was floating in what was essentially nothing. Atoms were, after all, mostly empty space.
This was it. This was the end. He could go no further. Sam was alone in the complete and total sense. It didn’t take long before even the flashes from the electrons were gone.
Was he still shrinking? Would he continue to shrink for all eternity? Did he even still exist?
He had no idea how long he floated there. Minutes, hours, months, years? Was Dean still looking for him? Sam hoped not. He prayed that his brother could move on without him. After all, there was nothing Dean could do for Sam now. Sam closed his eyes to the dark nothing and waited for death.
The first thing Sam saw was bright green eyes…