Mako always felt uncomfortable in his uniform. They never made it in the right size for him, it was always too tight around the stomach and he had to fight to make sure a button didn't ping off and hit some classy diner in the eye. Plus his bow tie was too small, cutting into his neck when he swallowed. Being as large as he was, towering over most at 7 feet tall and being broader than a door, he could never make clothes fit right. Still, he had to make money and the way he did that was to wait tables. Doing up his last button in the mirror, he tightened his ponytail, making sure he looked presentable. Once satisfied, he turned on his heel, leaving his shitty apartment, heading to his job.
He'd worked here for two days now. Serving food, cleaning tables, taking orders. It was a very high end expensive restaurant. There was a two month waiting list to dine at Lacroix's and everyone who was anyone had eaten there. So far, Mako had performed superbly. He was good at this job and nothing could take it away from him.
As he opened the door, the scent of spices assaulted his nostrils and he hummed, closing his eyes to savour it. He wished he could afford to eat here. Yes, he was given a free lunch every day but it was always the same thing. Nothing as high class as what he put on the tables. He grunted a soft hello to another of the waiters, slipping on his glasses. He'd lost them under the bed and had only found them last night. Finally he could make his handwriting more legible.
“Mako! Hey!” He turned to see the angelic face of Angela, one of the cooks who had taken a bit of a shine to him. She'd even given him some desserts that hadn't been eaten on his first day. “Chef says I need to teach you about the garnishes so you can price them right.” She said, pulling a vial from the spice rack, holding it up to his face. “This is our most expensive garnish, okay? Lilliputians don't come cheap.”
Mako blinked in surprise, peering into the vial. “Wait, you mean… there's people in there?” He asked, frowning as he gently took the vial from her fingers. Indeed there were specks moving in the vial, each around a fifth of an inch tall.
“...’People’? You're not one of those, are you?” Angela asked, snatching the vial away from him, a small judgemental look on her face.
“Those what?” Mako asked, feeling slightly sick to his stomach. He thought about a time long, long ago when there used to be three races, the Lilliputians, the Gulliverans and the Brobdingnagians, Mako being the latter. Each people were around four inches to the next. So the Lilliputians were four inches tall to the Gulliverans and they were four inches tall to the Brobdingnagians. The Gulliverans had only just managed to gain person status, being treated as less than sentient. The Lilliputians, however… well…
“You know, a sympathiser.” Angela spat the word like it left a bad taste in her mouth. “Can't have sympathisers here. Amélie would throw you out if she thought you were one of those activists.”
Mako was still scowling at the vial, the sick feeling resting at the pit of his stomach. He longed to snatch a box of the ‘garnish’ and steal it away. But then what would he do? The borders between different sizes of peoples were very heavily policed. These Lilliputians were probably bred in Brobdingnag. It was illegal to pass anything between borders without express written permission and he didn't have the money for that.
“...No. No.” Mako grunted, giving Angela a slight smile. “No argument from me.”
“That's good.” She returned his smile tenfold and turned to start working, tossing the vial carelessly back with the others.
All night Mako was thinking about the Lilliputians. With his glasses on, he noticed the frequency of the garnish. The miniscule people sprinkled on dishes like salt, consumed like a spice, no thought to their sentience. He couldn't help but whisper apologies as he carried the plates, his gut twisting violently. Even when he saw the plates in the sink, the Lilliputians grouping together to escape, only to be blasted away with scalding water, he felt his insides freeze with dread. He'd never given this issue much thought before, seeing it as politics that didn't concern him, just living his own little life in his flat, going from job to job. But as he stood outside, bent at the waist, his stomach clenching so hard it forced up his lunch, he decided he had to do something. Even just one little thing.
A few hours of this and his shift ended; he loosened his bow tie, feeling like he needed to sleep for a few hours. Or years. He was about to leave when he was called back to reorganise the refrigerator. He huffed softly, walking into the steel room, feeling the chill immediately. It was too cold for a fridge but he didn't dare change the temperature. He started alphabetising the foods, wishing he could take something good home for dinner. It's too bad they had to be searched before leaving, something about people stealing the gold flakes that were put on the expensive cheesecakes.
Mako paused by the Kale and looked at a box on the floor. He slowly knelt down, looking in the box, seeing a single vial of Lilliputians left at the bottom. “It's too cold in here, you must be freezing.” Mako said, frowning. “I wish there was some way I could help you.” He muttered, gently picking up a vial, holding it close to his eyes. He pulled his glasses further down his nose, trying to make out anything but specks. He could make them out as tiny figures, moving around, getting as far from Mako as they could. He felt a twinge in his heart, feeling nothing but pity for these poor little things.
Mako looked towards the closed door. Nobody would come in. There weren't any cameras. He rolled it between his fingers and realised he could save a hundred lives. He couldn't just doom them to an awful death. He could give them a better life. He stood up, looking at the vial. There had to be a place he could hide the vial where they wouldn't search. Definitely not his mouth, he didn't want to scare the poor things to death. He patted his body, wondering where was secure enough. He suddenly had an idea. It was pretty embarrassing but it would have to do.
“I'm getting you out of here. I'm sorry about this.” He muttered to the vial before moving it backward, slipping the cold glass down the back of his underwear, shuddering slightly. He heaved up his pants in an effort to keep the vial from moving before finishing his work, leaving the refrigerator immaculate. Then, he left, receiving the usual pat-down, getting off scot free, walking home with a sense of purpose. Maybe he couldn't save as many people as he wanted to, but he had at least a hundred and he would care for them as best he could.
Once at home, Mako cleared off his desk, setting a sheet of white paper down on the wooden surface. He drew a circle on the paper with a pencil, making it quite large. He then unstoppered the vial, gently setting it down on the paper.
“I'm just going to get changed.” He said quietly. “Stay in the circle, okay? I'll go see if I have anything small enough for you to eat.”
Thoughts raced through his head as he took off his tight fitting clothes that left itchy red marks on his skin. What was he going to do with these Lilliputians? Sure, if they were Gulliverans he could find a doll house, keep them in there until he could get them to a size officer. But these little people didn't have any rights. They were barely seen as animals, let alone people. He exhaled with a quiet groan, pulling on some loose clothes, wanting to just sit down and have some tea, maybe a hot bath, listen to some music. But he had a responsibility now, he couldn't relax just yet.
Mako’s kitchen was pretty sparse. There wasn't anything good for him, let alone tiny people. He found a really old pizza in the freezer and put it in the oven, setting the timer just in case he was too engrossed in his activities to watch the time. He dug out some old pink wafers, crushing one in the bag with the heel of his palm, emptying the crumbs onto a flat bit of plastic. He then used a knife to cut a tub around where there was a dip in the middle, carefully dripping water into that, carrying both to the desk.
“It's not much, wafer crumbs, but it's better than… nothing…” Mako paused as he looked down at the people gathered in front of him. While he was gone, he expected them to move around a little, maybe a few try to run out of the circle. He never expected to come back to this. Thin, block capitals, each line a person thick, words spelled out with tiny bodies.
Mako smiled, gently setting down the crumbs and water, pulling out his chair. He sat down with a gentle huff, suddenly gasping as his mere breath caused the tail end of the K to be blown backwards. He apologised softly, opening his desk drawer and taking out a surgical mask, hooking it around his head, shimmying it onto his face. He gave an experimental sigh, his mask preventing him from blowing anyone away. He watched as the Lilliputians started passing crumbs to each other, presumably eating. He couldn't quite make it out.
“Oh! That's an idea.” Mako started rummaging through his desk, moving pens and documents, eventually finding his magnifying glass in the depths of the clutter. He shuffled his chair back so he could lean forward, holding the magnifying glass up to his eye, moving it until the tiny people came into view, all of them ravenously tucking into the crumbs. A few of them were looking at him but most averted their eyes, looking at their feet or food. He counted four that waved to him, their smiles full of gratitude. He felt a swell in his chest. What was that? Pride? Relief? Or excitement? Here was a brand new opening in his life; he was going to help these people in any way he could.
After they had their food, and Mako had eaten his, he decided it was time to sleep, making sure everyone was safe in the vial before heading to bed. He collapsed right away, his whole body aching. His mind raced as he thought about the few hours he'd have in the morning before the restaurant opened. What would he do about their living conditions? How could he make sure they were okay if he couldn't even hear them? He sighed, closing his eyes, expecting he'd have the answers by the time he faced the problems.