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Me, Myself & I
The LaPorte Caves – Revised – Ch 11 – Julia's Decision
Written by circes_cup :: [Sunday, 05 April 2020 00:00] Last updated by :: [Sunday, 31 May 2020 21:22]
CHAPTER 11 – JULIA’S DECISION
SYNOPSIS UP TO THIS POINT
Julia and Howard took a wrong turn in a Kentucky cave and tumbled out into a world of amazon women. Becoming an amazon, for a woman, is as easy as drinking the transformative elixir Nourishment. Howard had exhorted Julia to refrain from this and return with him to Earth. But Julia chose the drink, gaining extraordinary strength and intelligence in the process. And then, to make matters worse, the powerful Julia made it clear that she was in no rush to lead her boyfriend back home.
Desperate to escape a world where every tenth person could tear him apart, Howard decided to take matters into his own hands: he sought to buy a black market drug that would allow him to control her mind. But the drug deal went horribly wrong, and it was Amanda – a teenager for whom Julia has no great affection – that saved him. Thankfully, Howard believes he has cajoled Julia into agreeing to a speedy return to Earth – one that could be effectuated before Amanda reappears.
But Howard’s cajoling is nothing compared to the seductive power of Ruth. The Weald native encourages Julia to remain, and moreover, to keep Howard there for his own betterment, even against his will. Dancing arm in arm, Ruth explains the true superiority of the female body and the importance of giving into its yearnings. Julia is too tempted to do exactly that, and leaves the party early for a cold shower.
This story contains adult sexual content. If you are not of age to read this stuff, don't. No resemblance between these characters and real people on Earth is implied or intended.
As Julia distanced herself from the men, she could feel the heat of her arousal dissipating, at least for a moment, and her head beginning to clear.
The women's guest bath was a study in luxury: marble wainscoting, mother-of-pearl accents and brushed nickel faucets kept immaculately clean. They had spared no expense. And why would they? Ruth had plenty of money. Most women in the country had plenty of money: their superior intellect almost guaranteed it. If Howard and I decided to stay here permanently, Julia knew, my enhanced intellect would likely make us wealthy, too.
The shower featured no fewer than six shower-heads: four pointed down from the top and two, mysteriously, positioned at belly button level, pointing up. The tub was triangular and huge, easily ten feet along each side, constructed of solid marble. So great was the tub that no shower curtain was needed: the spray from the shower heads and jets in one corner of the triangle did not even reach the opposite wall of the tub.
Julia climbed into this expanse and turned it to ice cold, a temperature that would have easily put a man into hypothermia. But it felt delightful to her - the tingle of the freezing water cascading down her neck, her shoulders, her backside. The lingering soot of the bonfire, the stink left behind by the metal molds at the tailor, the salt and sand of the beach and, most of all, the stress and raw emotion of the day– all of it washed down the drain.
A wood block labeled "Exfoliating scrub” hung near the shower. It was lined with jagged quartz crystals the size of kernels of corn. She remembered scraping herself on quartz as a girl – how much it had hurt, how deep the cuts had been, how long it took for the wound to heal. And indeed, this scrub featured a warning label on the back, "For Female Use Only." She applied the quartz scrub to her skin with several hundred pounds of force. If she had done that to solid oak, she knew, it would have shredded the wood into a frisée. But against her far tougher skin, it felt indulgent. Dry skin flaked away, leaving only soft, newly invigorated body skin in its place. If Howard gets his way, I’d be back in a world where my skin never feels this good, she reminded herself, so I'd better make every bath count.
She lathered her hands with the shower gel, which filled the air with its floral scent. Julia spread the foam over her calves, her hands swelling wide around the softball-sized muscle.
Then her hands slid up the generous swell of her thighs, over the muscles that had so humiliated her boyfriend during the swim lesson almost two weeks ago. After that disastrous session in the water, she had almost wished them to be smaller and weaker. But in the hands of her new acquaintance, those wishes had evaporated like steam hissing off a washcloth. Byrnham had all but worshipped her thighs, following their generous swells with an amount of care usually reserved for sculpture.
How many tens of thousands of pounds of force could those muscles exert, Julia wondered? And what were they called, anyway? Quadriceps? She wasn't sure. She laughed to think how a body builder back home might react – the look on his face when he realized that even a lifetime of whatever those exercises were called – squats, she now recalled – he could achieve far less than a hundredth of her strength. She had become a female version of Hercules without even knowing the names of the stuff involved.
Her gel-laden hands coursed over cannon-like arms, the formidable wedge of muscle that united her shoulders and neck, the rippling inverted wedge of muscle that defined her upper back. Before coming to this world, muscles on a woman had seemed unattractive not only to Howard, but also to her. But, oh, how quickly perceptions can change! Using only a washcloth and his palpable desire for her, Byrnham had made her feel pretty again. No, not pretty. Sexy. No, not just sexy. He had made her feel like a sex goddess – and this was not despite her muscles, but because of them!
She watched the water cascade over the cobblestones of her abdomen, every single muscle there far stronger than a man's entire body. And I got those without doing a single sit-up, she giggled. She flexed her abdominals and watched them transform from bumps to half-spheres of inhuman power.
In a moment of uncontrolled anger, Howard had punched her there and had almost broken his hand on the rock-like terrain. Later, Howard had found his index finger pinched in the crevasse between those rocks – a vice so powerful that it had almost snapped the bone. After that, Howard seemed more fearful than ever about what Julia's body had become. And yet, shy Byrnham had reacted not with fear, but with trust and awe: running a washcloth over those abdominals had so transfixed him that he had almost forgotten to breathe. And he SHOULD be impressed, Julia realized, hearing the thwip-thwip of her fingers as they ran over the hard bumps. My body is a temple to physical power.
Her breasts came last – so much surface area that she had to lather more gel first. Running her hands over the generous expanse of her breasts sent a magnificent warmth coursing through her. She hefted her 'girls' gently, their weight twenty glorious pounds each. The purpose of those midriff-level showerheads became clear, allowing her to wash underneath her pronounced swells. Then, she ran the gel over her nipples…
… wow. Julia braced herself against the side of the shower. They felt… fantastic. Without thinking, she squeezed the nipples gently, with just enough force to shatter cinder blocks. Oh MY… the rush of pleasure nearly approached an orgasm. What sort of cruel joke is it that I'm considering going back to Earth so soon, she wondered, when my body feels this good?
With some trepidation, Julia ran her suds-covered hands down to the last part of her body: her womanhood. She had played with herself down there before, but never really explored – intimidated perhaps, by what she might find.
All the hair here had of course disappeared. Washing the outside of her labia sent a pleasant shudder through her body, and she soon found her fingers going inside. Her clitoris felt odd between her fingers, and she spread her labia a bit to investigate.
It was huge. Her clitoris was as large as Howard's thumb. And OOH…
… so sensitive to the lightest touch! Julia had already pleasured herself once, aggressively, but – - OOOOHHH! – her little girl down there liked to be teased as well. She traced a finger delicately over its hood and shivered with happiness.
There was a soft knock on the door. "I brought the package you asked for," said Byrnham's voice on the other side.
The mere sound of his voice heated something inside of her. "You can…" She again braced herself against the wall of the shower. "You can leave it next to the sink."
Julia closed her eyes and breathed in heaves as the sound of his footsteps crossed the room. Byrnham was only a few feet away; she could smell him. And never had a man smelled so good.
As his footsteps began to recede, and the ache of her need came to a boil. With an authority that was still unfamiliar to her, she issued an order. "Stop.”
She could sense his movement cease.
No, her better self screamed, no! The cold shower was supposed to clear your head! You MUST be true to Howard.
But Julia could feel her breasts and muscles softening for Byrnham, her Nourished body making itself ready for a man’s touch. Her arm was quaking and the tile of her hosts’s shower was crumbling as her hand absently dug into it. Why does Howard deserve my faithfulness – after he fucked Amanda, after he all but called me hideous, after he spurned my affection?
‘…it's your responsibility…” Ruth had said, “…every woman's responsibility, to make sure her sexual wants are satisfied,’
It’s time for you Julia, her own inner voice agreed. Time for what you need. What you deserve.
The words had danced out of her mouth with a will of their own.
He did, rounding the corner. There was no shower curtain to screen her. She pulled away from the wall and straightened herself.
Bashful, he directed his gaze downward at her toes. "I'm sorry to interrupt," he said. "Men are not supposed to trouble women in the shower."
"It's the opposite of trouble.” The idea of him gazing at her naked body made her heart flutter. She adopted a casual posture, one arm at her side, one elbow against the wall of the shower. “You ARE a shy one, aren't you?"
He nodded, eyes still downward.
"I used to be shy too," said Julia, "before I became this. It’s OK to look at me, you know."
The bright lights of the guest bath cast her body in greater detail than the darkness of the beach. Julia allowed his gaze to follow the water’s cascade down the edifice of her granite curves. “Your eyes are wide as nickels, you know. It is very cute.”
"You're perfect," Byrnham managed to say, breathlessly.
Julia giggled. “That's what you said fifteen minutes ago. I'm glad it hasn't changed." Julia's confidence swelled to new heights. “I like it when you look at me that way. It’s OK to stare some more.”
He did. A comfortable silence settled on the two, punctuated only but the steady flow of the water as it coursed over the hard swells of her body.
Just this once, Julia told herself. To satisfy my aching body. To ensure that I don't lose control and take Howard against his will, or worse. Just this once.
"Actually, maybe it's not OK just to stare. Maybe it's turning me on too much. Come closer," she commanded.
A flick of Julia's wrist turned the shower from ice-cold to male-mode, a harmless eighty-five degrees. The moment he set foot in the tub, she tore off his shirt like it was made of no more than soap bubbles.
Julia picked the full grown man up like a rag doll and sandwiched his body between her own and the shower wall. The firmness of her breasts easily pushed those feeble male arms aside, burrowing into the space under his armpits, supporting his 190 pounds as if he weighed no more than a small cloth teddy bear. Holding him in that way freed her hands to tear his pants off – and to explore.
His body was lean and fit. His ass fit perfectly in her hands. His manhood was larger than Howard's, and oh, so hard! "My boyfriend didn't like being held like this – so assertively."
"Your ‘boyfriend’ was a fool," the man whispered as he began to plant sweet kisses on her neck.
They kissed each other on the lips gently, and then less so. Julia could have made out with him for a long time like that, but the ache in her womanhood was becoming too much to bear. She eased him away from the wall and lowered him onto the floor of the tub. Straddling his thighs, she felt the head of his rigid manhood tease the edges of her labia. It sent shivers through her.
A momentary twinge of guilt crossed her mind. Howard would be devastated.
‘So, devastate him,’ Ruth’s words reminded her, ‘He needs to learn humility, remember?’
The memory of Ruth’s words washed her guilt away like warm water tumbling into the drain. I’m going to enjoy him, she resolved.
And, OOOOHHHH!, enjoy him she would. A slight shift in her posture allowed the tip of his cock to tease her clitoris – her oversized, genetically enhanced… OOOOOOHHHH! The sensation was more intense than anything she had experienced from a man in her prior body. And not a little bit more, either, but GGUUUUDDD, dozens of times more.
His hands, meanwhile, traversed a physique that both Aphrodite and Hercules would envy, gasping each time his hands crested the swell of a muscle, sending her erotic desires into overdrive. Spreading her thighs further, she lowered herself onto his rigid needfulness, her dripping tunnel swallowed him easily. It was, HOLY FUUUCCCK.
It was bliss.
The first orgasm came for both of them at the same time. She could feel him jetting his desire into her, but the event did nothing to diminish his wonderful rigidity. She, OOOOH WOW – she saw stars. The feel of the cascading water, the sound of it running down the drain, even his ecstatic moans disappeared for her as her body consumed the product of his passion. As illogical as it seemed, she felt her insides actually drinking his cum.
And, OHHHHH, did it taste divine! Wave after wave of orgasmic happiness crashed over her. In her reverie, she was embraced by a blissful silence, broken only by a tiny voice. And it said…
… a girl could get used to that.
Julia ran a plush towel over her perfect skin. Byrnham lay collapsed at the bottom of the tub, several towels tossed over him as blankets.
She watched with relief the gentle rise and fall of his chest. She had almost killed him with the vigor of her lovemaking, she knew. At first, he had given her everything he had, trying desperately to match her furious pace. But when his stamina began to fail, and his manhood began to soften, Julia’s body chemistry took over. Through her vaginal walls, her body had injected hormones that returned him to ceaseless rigidity, that caused his body to exert itself far more than his little male heart could handle. For two solid hours, Julia had indulged herself in constant, extremely athletic passion.
What was the sporting equivalent of what they had just done? Probably a breakneck hundred-yard sprint, done over and over and over and over again, to the point of bodily failure. By the end of it, he had been on the brink of a heart attack, too tired even to moan.
I can’t make a habit of that, Julia chastised herself.
She, on the other hand, had never felt more refreshed and relaxed. Her body, if anything, wanted much more.
Julia palmed the paper-wrapped parcel Byrnham had brought. It was no larger than a small box of chocolates, and therefore could contain not more than a few scraps of cloth. "I can't wait to see you in a proper outfit," it read, in native text.
Julia smirked. Proper indeed. It was proper only for women whose bodies needed to be shown off.
Her thumbs separated the folds of paper to reveal bits of glittery cloth. The cloth turned out to be a monokini: technically a one piece suit, it covered her areolae and womanhood with only the smallest bits of cloth, which were connected to each other by thin strips of material. But as minimal as the outfit might have been it was every bit as beautiful. Rich ecru and robin's-egg-blue colors danced elegantly across the panels, and the stitching glittered with some sort of gold-colored thread. The panels were inlaid with rhinestones colored indigo to resemble sapphires, exhibiting unusual depth and lustre.
Julia examined them more carefully. No, those aren't rhinestones, she realized. Their depth and color were those of actual sapphires – dozens of them! How many months of salary would I need to buy this thing back on Earth, she asked herself? She examined the rest of the garment more carefully now. The stitching was finer than anything she had ever seen. And the ecru cloth glistened in the light. Her eyes powered easily to magnifications that only microscopes could imitate: the threads of ecru were composed of fine, silk-like threads interwoven with filaments of pure gold! If this were back on Earth, she mused, it would be in a museum behind thick glass.
Her thumbs tingled with anticipation as she slipped on the bottom first, enjoying the softness of the fabric as it slid over the muscled swell of her thighs. It was exceptionally skimpy, but what it lacked in coverage it made up for in elegance. The shape of the garment and the pattern of the colors did a masterful job of guiding the eye. It drew attention to the rock-hard spheres of her butt, the feminine curves of her hips and down toward the womanhood – the part of her that was more feminine than any other, the part of her that perhaps symbolized the power and authority her gender exerted over both man and nature. I love it, Julia thought.
She pulled the top over the immensity of her breasts, the azure of the sapphires glittering in the vanity lights, and tied the halter ends behind her neck. The top offered no support to her bust, and would have been a truly depressing garment to wear back home. But of course the 54-inch bustline of her 'girls' now stretched the garment perfectly, their twenty-pound weight doing nothing to alter their permanent, fulsome teardrop shape. The finely woven geometric pattern distorted itself on the protrusions of her nipples, thus reminding the eye of the unusual firmness her large nubs possessed.
I look so HOT in this, Julia realized happily.
The last item in the brown paper wrapping was a finely crafted sarong with paisley swirls of brown and caramel, the perfect complement to the caramel colors of the bikini. It fastened over her waist and left a slit open all the way down one leg, teasing the eye to imagine what was underneath. Teasing – in her old body, that had never been a factor in her wardrobe choices, or even a remote possibility.
But this new body is one I want to show off, Julia mused. Dance in front of the men at the campfire. See their eyes go wide. Watch them try to resist staring. Watch their bodies react with a will of their own.
Back home, I never used to feel good about myself, she remembered. But now… She turned a full circle in front of the mirror, examining how every taut curve of her body was in perfect proportion. Now, I am so much more…
… and Howard wants me to give it all up.
The evening air was damp with the smell of ocean salt. The sound of the surf rumbled through the darkness. In the distance, the light of the bonfire called out to Julia like a beacon. Although the music had ceased for a time, the sounds of other revelry teased her ears. But Julia forced herself to turn the other way.
She had a rendezvous with Howard.
As she circled the house into the darkness on the far side, her eyes required only a moment to power up to a stunning level of sensitivity, turning the black of night into turquoise. There Howard was, waiting at the utility shed just as she had told him to. But instead of sitting comfortably on the bench outside, he was huddled on the floor just inside the doorway, hiding, apparently. From fifty yards away, she could easily hear his breathing.
Julia made for the shed, cutting through a grove of palm trees. The dry fronds of the palms crunched under her feet for a good thirty paces before Howard stopped his fiddling and peered in the direction of the sound, squinting at the darkness. His senses were so feeble! It made Julia giggle.
Finally, he pointed a flashlight in her direction and found her. He flashed the light one, two, three times. The fool, she thought. Does he really think that I couldn’t see him? Bemused, Julia made her way to the shed.
"Here's all your gear." Howard handed her a backpack. "I made some adjustments to the harness so that it would fit you. Everything else appears to be in working order."
My gear, Julia wondered? She took the backpack, uncertain. Why did she need her gear? Her advanced mind replayed the prior conversation, word for word.
We need to resolve this like adults. When are we going home?
Meet me after the party, near the shed where they store all the caving equipment
Did Howard seriously hear that statement as a promise to leave that very evening? Was he so obsessed with leaving that he had twisted her words into whatever he wanted them to be? It was as though the man couldn’t stand spending even one extra minute in this place where his romantic partner had an edge over him.
She peered inside the bag. It was full of ropes she would never need, illumination she would never need, first aid she would never need. What was he thinking?
She felt an anger growing.
"I'd like you to do something for me, Howard." There was a crowbar hanging on the inner wall of the shed. Julia grabbed it. She took a step toward him, swinging the crowbar back and forth experimentally. It blurred with immense speed and left a HUM in the air. “A little experiment.”
Howard took a step back, his eyes wide.
"I'd like you to hit me with this." She handed him the crowbar. “If you hit me hard enough, we can go home.”
Bewildered, he took the bar, but also backed up another step.
She could see her own towering, Herculean form reflected in the corneas of Howard's eyes. It must be intimidating for him, she knew. "I'm serious, honey. I won't hit you back. I promise."
He seemed to consider it for a moment, but then his features settled. "You're my girlfriend. I would never strike you, here or on any other planet."
"Ugh. I'm ASKING you to strike me, sweetie. Trust me, no matter how hard you swing that thing, you won't do any damage. Hit me."
"I'm not so sure," he regarded the bar in his hand. "I know you ladies are tough, but this… this could break a bone."
“See?” Julia laughed. “That’s exactly the problem. I’m telling you it won’t hurt me, and you don’t believe it. You’re clearly aware how powerful I am, but at the same time, you can’t seem to accept that it is reality. Perhaps it interferes too much with your sense of the way things should be. Hit me.”
He kept the crowbar pointed at his feet. “There’s nothing you could ever do to get me to hit you.”
“Really?” Julia retorted. So damn rigid, Julia fumed, and sanctimonious, too. He was waging a one-man war with the reality that surrounded him, and losing miserably. It needs to end, Julia promised herself – right here, right now. It was time to get the knight in shining armor off his high horse.
She picked up Howard’s backpack, which had an emergency flare strapped to the side. Julia removed the cap of the flare and struck the ignition surface with her fingernail. It burst into a bright orange flame.
“Jules… What are you doing?” Howard said, nervously.
She didn’t answer. Instead, she took a step toward a break in the trees. With the backpack gripped tightly in one hand, she spun once , twice – like an Olympic discus thrower – and launched the backpack out toward the ocean. It rocketed away, quickly becoming just an orange speck in the sky. There was an “oooo!” from the party goers on the beach as they watched the orange light streak over their heads and sail miles into the night sky. The speck lingered in the air for several long moments, and was only beginning its descent toward the dark ocean when Howard broke the silence.
"I can't… can't believe you did that.”
But Julia only picked up the second backpack, the tendons on her arm flaring. “Watch, this one will go farther . I always get better on the second try.”
She repeated the throw, this time her movement becoming a blur and the backpack creating a WHUMP sound as it moved through the air. The feat was rewarded by another chorus of even more appreciative “ooo’s” from the party on the beach. It seemed to hang in the air forever, flying mile after mile after mile before descending to the horizon.
“What in the world, Julia? We needed those for our trip!” Howard protested.
She stepped toward him. In her bare feet the top of his head barely reached her breasts. “Remember what I said back at the tailor’s – about how we were going to stay a bit longer? I’ve thought about it some more. Your company, your personal connections – we can find a way to make sure that all your affairs are squared away. Nobody worrying about you. Nothing falling apart while you are gone. People take extended absences all the time.”
“Julia…” He tightened his grip on the bar. “… what are you really saying?”
“I’ve decided we will be here three more months."
"YOU decided, for BOTH of us? What the fuck?”
“OK, now it’s four months. Feel like taking a whack at me yet?” She smiled, crossing her gargantuan arms over each other, the muscles flaring as the compressd against her torso. She heard him gulp.
His knuckles stood out in relief, white against the brown of the bar. “You’re imprisoning me here?”
"That’s pretty melodramatic, Howard. Your prison cell is a beach. And your cellmate is a sex machine who would gladly make love to you until the sun came up. You should be asking for a life sentence.”
“I’d rather have my freedom!”
“Five months, now. But I’ll take a day off for every good swing that you get in.” She reached behind her neck to undo the knot of her monokini. Watching her reflection in his corneas, she could see her arms bulge into huge, hard oblong swells. They were soon joined by the generous spheres of her chest, their glory no longer obscured as the top of the monokini fell away. She so enjoyed the way her body looked! She drew her arms back, placing her palms on her buttocks and jutting her bare torso at him. “Come on, Howard, do your worst.”
Howard was panting with anger but he kept the bar pointed at the ground. “No, I’m better than that.”
“Are you now? Let’s see.” Julia loved a challenge. “She raised her gaze skyward in mock concentration. “You used to go to the gym all the time. After months of sweating and hard work, your biceps got to, what fourteen inches?”
“Thirteen,” Howard clarified cautiously.
“I was so impressed at the time. But now…" Julia flexed a bicep casually and watched it expand to mass the size of a volleyball. "Twenty eight inches – my little girl here is more than twice as big! And to get this way, I didn’t have to lift a single set of weights, a single barbell. All I had to do was drink some tasty fruit juice, and wow,” She flexed the bicep some more, the light of the moons glistening off the dome of her muscle. “Just look at me now!”
Julia could see the envy in her boyfriend's features, and it only goaded her on.
“I could spend a month on the couch eating donuts and still have a body every bit as awe-inspiring as I do today.” With her free hand, she slapped her abdominals – WHAP – with such force that it sounded like a bat hitting a baseball. Julia then flexed her second arm, watching it swell into another ball of raw power, and then tightened her abdominals into a rock wall of muscle. ”Can you deal with how unfair it is? And no matter how many weights you lift, you will never come close to achieving this size and definition?"
“You condescending little…"
"So, he is jealous after all,” she said to her own bicep, the summit of which was nearly level with her lips. “But we can understand why, can’t we? If you were a NORMAL muscle, you'd be much stronger than his. But you're not just normal, are you? You're genetically enhanced. Howard here could spend his whole life bodybuilding – his whole LIFE – and never have a hundreth of the strength that you have, little girl. Do you think he can deal with that?"
CLANG. It was the crowbar, hitting her on the outside of the shoulder. The force would have crumpled the bones of a male shoulder, but to her it felt like the gentlest of taps. And poor Howard seemed a little winded after only one swing.
“I guess he can’t deal with that, either,” Julia lamented to her own muscle.
CLANG, CLANG. Howard had swung the bar hard at her abdominals. Julia tried to relax them before the blow, but they nonetheless must have been the consistency of granite when the bar found them. The iron rod sung from the impact. Howard had to shake the pain out of his hands.
But Julia found herself giggling. “When you do that on the tummy, it actually tickles.”
CLANG, WHAM, CLANG. The blows were coming faster now – her midriff, her arms, her neck, even her skull. All of them felt like gentle taps.
THUD. The bar had become lodged in the “V” of a tree. Howard had swung the bar overhead, like a pickaxe, and misjudged its trajectory. He now struggled to dislodge it, but the sticking point was so far above his head that he had little leverage.
“Let me help you with that,” Julia offered.
She placed one hand on either side of the foot-wide trunk and – CRUNCH – uprooted the tree easily.
Then she shifted the tree to the horizontal, limbs cracking loudly as they snapped against nearby palms. Holding the mass palms-up, she presented the tree and bar to him like a velvet pillow holding a ceremonial dagger.
He took her up on the offer, shimmying the bar free. Sweat lined his brow, and his breathing was labored: the exertion of swinging the heavy bar was taking its toll. And there was still a scornful look in his eyes, she noticed – still more anger he needed to get out.
She jutted her chin at the tree. “Wanna guess how heavy?”
“Thousands of pounds, I’m sure,” he snarled.
“TEN thousand,” she clarified, her muscles holding it up easily. “To me, it’s about as heavy as a bowling ball used to be. Does that make you just a little bit jealous, to see how easy this is for me?”
His chin quivered the slightest little bit. She saw it.
She began to curl the tree in steady repetitions as she spoke. "Can you accept the fact that I'm faster than you, too? That my Nourished body can run much faster than the best speed ever recorded at the Kentucky Derby – three times faster – without breaking a sweat? And that I can do it all without ever having trained for a single minute?"
His face went from red to scarlet. He raised the bar and pointed it at her, as if he needed a spacer between her and him. “I can handle it,” he seethed.
“Can you really?” Julia tossed the tree behind her with a BOOM that shook the ground. "And what about the intelligence thing? Despite all the years of school you've had, and how hard you worked at your job, your brain has nowhere near the raw power that mine now possesses. I can read a whole book in the time it takes you to read a page. I can memorize reams of information effortlessly and analyze it all instantly. It’s like having a computer built into my mind. Does that bother you, to know that you’ll never have that feeling?"
“It’s all so fucking unfair…” Howard grumbled.
"Ha! So you CAN’T handle it, can you? You were so spoiled by your natural talents back on Earth, you can’t deal with the idea that your girlfriend would have more natural abilities than you.” She planted a reproachful finger on the tip of the outstretched bar. “And that's where I want you to focus. I want you to find value in yourself for who you are and not what you can do. It’s not the sort of personal growth that occurs when you’re always succeeding, always winning. That sort of growth can only come when you are challenged. And what better place to challenge you than this one?"
"I don't want your fucking maturity lesson, Julia," Howard panted as he tried to shake the pain out of his hands. "I want to go home."
"For the first time since we became a couple I don’t care what you want. I care what you need. And it looks like you’re having a hard time adjusting to that. But once you do, I believe the experience will build your character."
CLANG, CLANG, WHAM! Howard had swung like he was going for a home run on that last one – a blow to her tricep so hard that it made the bar sing a deeper note. The force of those blows had surely traveled back up the bar to Howard’s hands. He nearly went down to his knees in pain, cradling one hand and then the other.
“That’s good, Howard. Let it all out. Show me how angry you are. You might not be strong enough to hurt me. But you are strong enough to become a better man.”
“Patronizing!” WHAM “Little!” BANG “Bitch!” WHAM. The blows were landing on her cheekbones, the bridge of her nose, her forehead. His face was red with exertion and he was visibly panting now. BANG WHUNG. Howard was swinging at her with total abandon, trying to hurt her in earnest, she supposed. But Julia didn’t bother to flinch. His earnestness was cute, in a way!
But his use of the B-word was not cute. He deserved a little more torment.
“Seriously, Howard?” She asked after another CLANG of the bar against her cheek. “Is that the best you can do? That felt like a little kiss!”
"Hmmm. I wish you had, Howard. My libido is just as superhuman as the rest of me. I wanted you to satisfy me so badly, Howard. But after you refused and refused and refused, I found someone else. And boy, was it good."
"How… How could… You?"
"It was easy, honey. For one thing, he was attracted to me, just like every other guy around here. That alone is a turn on."
WHAM WHAM WHAM WHAM. Blows were landing fast and hard on her now. Julia laced her fingers on top of her head to give him a clearer shot at her, but it made no difference. A blow against her breasts made the bar wobble in recoil. A blow against her ribcage produced such a CLANG that Julia feared he might break his hand. Howard’s arms were shaking with exhaustion, but he didn’t drop the bar.
"And now that I’ve had Byrnham once, it’s hard for me to stop daydreaming about having him again. He's, you know…"
"… a bit bigger than you, down there…"
“You… bitch.” Howard swung the bar so hard, his lungs emitted an "UUGGGH!" during the motion. WHAM CLANG. The impacts were to her shoulders and breasts, although to Julia, it felt like she had been poked by nothing more than a pencil.
"… and I have to say, for my new body, that makes a difference…"
CLANG WHAM CLANG. The crowbar was slammed into her head now, her boyfriend swinging with all his angry might. Blows that would have caved in a human skull only glanced off a bone far harder than titanium. The bar sang loud with every impact. So much force was being transferred back through the iron rod that, after the third strike, Howard crumpled over in pain, his hands no longer able to handle the punishing impacts. His chest was expanding and contracting in desperate heaves, and his face was scarlet. To Julia, he seemed weaker than ever.
“I give up.” Howard rested the bar against the ground and spoke with labored breath. “I can’t take it anymore.”
“Are you still angry?”
He shook his head. “I don’t know what I am anymore. I feel so defeated.”
“That’s actually good.” She took the bar from him. “It’s only by conceding conceding defeat that you can begin the process of chang – “
Just then, the crunch of more footsteps could be heard in the palm leaves. It was Amanda, taking a shortcut to the bonfire.
Julia heard Howard’s breathing quicken.
“Hey kiddo!” Julia called out.
The kiddo’s soccer-ball-sized breasts were bursting out of the tiny bikini top she wore – and Julia wasn’t the only one that noticed. Unexpected feelings of jealousy erupted inside Julia. That eighteen-year-old woman – no, girl – had gotten more action from her boyfriend than Julia had during their stay in this world. Even now, he could see his gaze course over her sumptuous curves, the rich swell of her hips, and that beautiful blond hair that shone like burnished gold in the light of the two moons. Julia knew that Howard’s previous exposure to Amanda’s explosive pheromones had lasting effects, creating ruts in the primal part of his brain down which his desire for her could travel more easily. But it was hard to separate the madness from the man: he couldn’t even keep his jaw closed when he looked at her!
“Hey guys!” She said as she strode by. “Beautiful outfit, Julia.”
“Thank you.” Julia tried to scrub her voice of the jealousy she felt at her boyfriend’s obvious reaction to the girl. It was only after fuming about this for a moment that Julia noticed the fear in his eyes.
“Did he tell you?” Amanda said brightly.
“Tell me what?”
“Howaaaarrrrrrd.” Amanda cast a chastising look down at him. “You promised me you would come clean with her.”
“Tell me what?” Julia challenged.
“He got wrapped up in a drug deal. And Ruth noticed there was some currency missing from her bead drawer.”
“Howard!!” Julia was stunned.
“And the deal went bad. He was alone with a gang of fourteen, and they almost beat the life out of him. I got there just in time.”
“Oh my. Thank you, Amanda, for saving him.”
“It was nothing.” The girl’s arms shifted anxiously, their gargantuan muscles shifting and bulging with every movement. “Just fourteen little men. It didn’t take but a minute.”
“I’m sure,” Julia laughed lightly. “It actually sounds like fun.”
“Are you going to punish him?” Amanda asked, her voice anxious.
“I hadn’t thought about it. Why?”
“Please don’t be too harsh. He’s a good little man,” the eighteen-year-old said. “He just needs to learn some discipline.”
“I’ll bear that in mind,” Julia offered. “Thank you.”
The girl seemed to hesitate. With nervous energy, she reached her left hand behind her back and grasped her right arm. The posture had the effect of bulging her breasts outward, straining the cups of her bikini to their limit.
Julia scowled at the girl’s prodigious chest, silently daring Howard’s gaze to wander there. “Was there something else, Amanda?”
“He was… valiant. One of the dudes got his hands on one of those little projectile throwers.” Amanda handed her Howard’s gun. “He stepped in front of this thing to protect me from it. There is not a single guy in the Weald who would’ve done that.”
When the sound of the girl’s footfalls faded, Julia turned to her boyfriend. Her arms remained at her sides. But from the end of one of them emanated the CRUNCH of the gun being crushed.
Howard had struggled to his feet and began stumbling away from her. Then the stumble became a run. There was a car the family men left parked in the driveway – with the keys right in it – and Howard was going for it.
She decided to let him. She would catch the car, no matter how fast he drove away, no matter how much of a head start he got.
And she may not even have to do that much, she realized. Although women might feel responsible for the men of their household, female-led companies bore no such sentiment towards the male consumer. “Cars built for your man” were in fact a needless challenge for any male to operate – poorly designed, poorly built, with controls so sticky that they often required all of a man’s strength. He would struggle just to get the thing out of the driveway.
Howard dove into the driver’s seat. He needed to get away, now. He was in plenty of trouble with her already. But if she found out the exact nature of the drug he was trying to buy – that it was MIND CONTROL – oh, shit, it would be so much worse. He fumbled with the ignition – no success. Dammit!
“Are you trying to run away from me, honey?” Julia had begun a casual, swaying saunter toward the car. She exuded the confidence of power. She extended a hand toward him, palm full of wadded metal. “You forgot your gun, sweetie.”
Thunk-thunk-thunk. Howard tried to turn the ignition over, but it took so much force, he couldn’t hold the key in place long enough for the engine to start. Shit.
“Here we were having such a great relationship conversation – getting everything out in the open – hard but truthful, I suppose. And YET, all the while, you were holding back a secret from me. My boyfriend, the drug dealer!”
Fuck, fuck, fuck Howard fumed to himself. He tried again with the key. Thunk-thunk-thunk. Nothing. And his monster of a girlfriend was getting closer, step by playful step.
“You have been a very, very bad boy,” his girlfriend announced. “Whatever should I do to teach you a lesson?”
VOOM. The engine finally came to life. His adrenaline-suffused hands shook as he grabbed the steering wheel. He fumbled with the gear shift and then put the accelerator to the floor.
But even as the speedometer needle climbed, and the engine sound intensified, the car went nowhere. The engine adopted an unnatural whine. Howard looked up from the controls to see Julia standing before him. She had raised the front half of the vehicle off the ground, the wheels spinning uselessly in the air. Despite her arms having to support thousands of pounds, her expression was little other than bemused.
“Think you’re going somewhere?” She asked with a glint in her eye. “Maybe try pushing the pedal down a little bit harder?”
Howard understood the jibe and took his foot off the accelerator. The engine noise died away, and so, too, did her levity.
“Drug deals? Seriously, Howard? The drug trade is every bit as dangerous here as it is on Earth. Whatever motivated you to get yourself involved in that stuff?”
“Desperation. It’s what happens when you treat someone like a second class citizen.”
“I can’t change everything, but I can change me. What can I do to make you feel like a first class citizen? And don’t say ‘take me home.’ We’re staying here to work our shit out, not run away from it. Tell me how I can help fix whatever is broken.”
Howard felt like a king on the chess board at the end of a bad game – one of the weakest pieces, his defenses obliterated, forced to face the powerful queen, cornered. How many moves did he have left? Two? One? He hesitated.
“Take your time.” Julia brushed some loose strands of hair with one arm while she held up the front of the vehicle with the other. “Even a little girl could keep an axle off the ground. Tell me when you’re ready.”
“You could treat me as an equal,” Howard finally said to the woman holding the front of the car in the air.
Julia shook her head in an aw-shucks lament as she placed a second hand on the car's front handles. "You still don't get it, do you?"
Howard felt the whole car jostle and shift as the rear wheels left the ground, the entire vehicle now suspended horizontally in mid-air.
"Do you feel like an equal right now, honey?" Her voice was playful, teasing.
Howard tried to answer, but he couldn't contain the unease he felt from sitting in a car that seemingly floated in mid-air, suspended by the arms of a single woman. Through the car’s open windows, he could hear the thump-thump of music from the distant bonfire resuming.
“That sounds like SO much fun,” the woman at the end of the hood almost moaned. The car began to sway – not unsteadily, but rather to the beat. “I SO want to party.”
“Julia…” Howard interjected in dismay.
She was holding the car with one hand again now, fussing with her hair in the reflection of the chrome bumper. The car would shift from one position to another as she tried to get a better angle. “Sorry, hang on a sec. I need to get a better angle on my little mirror here.”
With a lurch, the back of the car rose, higher and higher until the entire vehicle was vertical, the front bumper pointed at the ground. Howard felt a churning in his gut and gripped the steering wheel with fear. Only his seatbelt kept him from falling through the windshield and to the ground, fifteen feet below.
She scrutinized her face in the reflection of the bumper, as if a flaw might exist. "Love you, Howard? Yes, deeply. Respect you? Sure, if you act like you want it. But act like we're equals? In what way? As long as we're in this world, my mind will run circles around yours, and my body will have power and precision that you can barely imagine. How exactly will we be equals?"
Howard tried to muster a response, but the vertigo stymied him.
Appearing to find nothing in her complexion to dislike, she puckered her lips experimentally and, there too, seemed pleased with the result.
Finally, Howard mustered his answer. “We might not have equal strength, but that doesn’t stop us from each having our own talents, having something to contribute.”
She tilted her head upward and laughed, displaying her sickeningly white and straight teeth. "It's not just about being able to lift a car – or being fast, or even being smart. It’s a more general superiority, Howard. My body is superhuman in so many ways that I have yet to learn them all. Bullets don’t even leave a scratch on me. Boiling water just feels pleasantly warm to me. My body can learn new skills at ridiculous rates: show me a few ballet moves in the morning and I will be a professional ballerina by lunch. And who knows what I’ll discover next? No matter how hard you try, your achievements in this world will never come remotely close to mine, in anything. Are you ready to accept that?"
No, Howard shook his head, he wasn’t. It was too humiliating.
Her expression grew serious. The car stopped swaying and she shifted her forearm downward, jolting Howard’s surroundings and bringing him a few inches closer to her. "And that's why we're not leaving yet. You seem to be happy only when you're the accomplished one in the relationship, the one with all the physical talents and the smarts. Back in Kentucky, a guy with your looks could have dated any number of hot chicks. But instead you chose me, a plain looking girl who was average in every way. And you did it because you liked having someone to take care of. I’m grateful for what you did, Howard. I really am. But for me, being damsel-in-distress is not a lifestyle. And for you, you need some way of relating to women other than saving them. Staying here…”
With a flick of her foot, she kicked a soccer-ball-sized rock up into her free hand – - a move so deft that only the Nourished had the talent and strength to do it.
“… will give you…”
She straightened her arm, elevated it, and with a flick of her wrist, rolled the rock up her forearm, trapping it between her bicep and forearm.
“… a chance…”
Then the bicep began to expand, deforming slightly against the curvature of the rock.
“… to explore…”
Then the muscle expanded further, the additional exertion seeming to harden it, ballooning the muscle into a more spherical shape.
“… other forms of…”
A thin stream of rock dust spilled over her elbow. Cracks began to form throughout the surface of the rock.
POP – the rock shattered under the inexorable force of her expanding muscle.
Howard wiped away the cold sweat from his brow. He felt so small! “Explore my masculinity in a fucking prison?”
"The fact that you call it ‘prison’ is a good summary of your attitude problems. Last time I checked, you were stuck in a car fifteen feet off the ground. If you're going to thrive here, you'll need more humility than that. Say pretty please and I'll let you down."
Julia shook her head and mouthed the required ‘pretty.’
"I'm not a little kid, Julia,” he seethed.
"I'm waiting. The car is only three thousand pounds.”
Howard felt the car shift, it drifted from the vertical to a forty-five degree angle, and then rotated on its long axis until the driver’s side door faced the ground.
“Or you could just let yourself out. It’s just a twelve-foot drop now.”
Silence. He crossed his arms and glowered back down at her through the windshield.
He saw her eyes soften and her lip quiver the tiniest bit. “You are so hot when you pout.”
How insulting, Howard thought, keeping his arms crossed petulantly, trying not to pout more.
“Even hotter,” she confirmed.
“You’re impossible!” There was the faintest tremble of mirth in his voice.
“Just tell me when you are ready." She made a show of examining the cuticles of her left hand, as if to say we could be here for a very long time.
But she was a terrible actress, even with all of her ridiculous skills, and Howard could tell she was really just watching him. He laughed despite himself, and soon she was joining in. That was the old Julia – the self-effacing, vulnerable one, the one that needed him. Somewhere, under all that extreme muscle and polished skin, still resided the girl that he loved.
Howard put his left turn signal on, as if the car were more capable of asking for a return to the ground than he.
That made her giggle.
"Pretty please,“ he whispered.
Her iron-hard muscles clearly experienced no difficulty controlling the descent of the vehicle, despite the awkward angle. The car's wheels contacted the ground with hardly a sound.
Howard had barely opened the door when Julia reached in and lifted him out of the driver's seat like a child. She deposited his butt on the rear trunk of the car. Separating his legs, she positioned her torso between them, her hands slowly stroking his thighs.
“Your eyes were wide as nickels up there, you know. Something about seeing you in that state makes me so frisky.” Hooking her pinkies under his knees, he felt his body pulled toward hers, her voluminous breasts nudging his shoulders back. “So tell me, loverboy. What naughty little substance were you trying to buy out there? I never heard.”
Fear far greater than any fear of heights rocketed through him. She doesn’t know it was a mind-control weapon! And she can’t know!
“Hmmmmm?” She prompted, stroking his cheek.
Amanda had told him the name of the drug. Could he just drop the name of it? No, Julia had already educated herself – very quickly – on many aspects of life here, and the characteristics of this drug were surely part of the education. She would be furious.
“Was it something to make you feel good?” She leaned further into him, her body trembling. “There is more than one way to make you feel good, you know.”
What alternative was there to the truth? He did not know the names of any other drugs in the Weald.
“Hmmmmm?” Her nipples distended hard, digging into him like a pair of bullets. But they were greater than bullets: they were part of a body far more deadly than that gun in the alley.
Howard felt his breath clutch in his chest.
“Puppetmaster,” he exhaled.
She took a step back, separating herself from him. He appraised her with trepidation. The complete weaponry of her body was on full display – legs that could crush an engine block between them, arms that could tear an axle apart without a second thought. The ball-shaped muscles of her abdomen, harder than any steel rose and fell with each increasingly angry breath. Her breasts rose and fell with the labored breathing of her anger.
“Howard, Howard, Howard. Of all things, Puppetmaster. A mind control drug, Howard. You wanted to control me, with a drug? That’s the WORST kind of BETRAYAL!”
“Ju-uggh,” In a flash, he felt himself hoisted off the hood and slung horizontally under an arm thicker than his leg. The pressure of her hip against his ribs drove the air from his lungs.
With her spare hand, she bent down and picked up the crowbar. He tried to imagine her swinging that bar at him the way he had swung it at her. Those ridiculously powerful muscles, with that bar in her hands… Howard felt his body try to wretch.
They arrived back at the outbuilding, and Howard felt himself deposited roughly on the ground.
“Want to know the real story with Puppetmaster?” Her eyes were wild with upset. With one hand on his chest, she pressed him back against the wall of the building, the force smashing the breath out of him again and making him see stars.
“OOOFF!” His body expelled involuntarily.
Julia seemed not to notice. “The drug is a sham. It doesn’t harm us in the least.”
She slid the crowbar behind a drainage pipe that ran along the side of the building. Then her genetically enhanced arms began bending the thick iron, the force required not even a distraction for her.
“Puppetmaster leaves traces everywhere. It’s like walking around the house with flour on your hands. You can’t see it. But we Nourished can. If you had pumped the piston on that canister even once, you would have lit up like a Christmas tree. The authorities use it to understand who’s been seeking out trouble, track them and round them up. Good citizens could care less about a supposed weapon like Puppetmaster, but malcontents are attracted to it like moths to a flame. And now you’re one of them. You’re lucky they didn’t put you in jail.”
The bar released an unnatural squeal as Julia bent it around his chest, encircling him.
“The authorities invented Puppetmaster specifically to give problem men the hope – the false hope – that they would one day have power over us. Did you really think that controlling me with a drug was better than talking to me?”
“Julia, I… UGGGH”
Julia had pulled the crowbar tight, effortlessly.
“You would have thought that a weak little man, in a world of superwomen, would be loyal to his girlfriend, respect her, make her happy!”
The iron dug into his chest as she tightened the bar further, knocking the breath out of him.
She seemed not to notice. “In the distance I can hear them – the men, partying. Getting ready to fuck Ruth and not me.” Her voice rose to a shout. “And I’m missing it, just like I’ve missed out on so much man juice, because I’m dealing with YOU!”
Her volume was supernatural, booming across the palm forest like the impact of an artillery shell, turning Howard’s insides to jelly.
With only her fingers, she twisted the thick iron around itself in quick, dismissive motions, as if the crowbar were little more than a pipe cleaner.
“Don’t ever…” TWIST “… ever…” TWIST “… try to control me AGAIN!” TWIST
With a final jerk of her hand, the metal wound itself so tight that it constricted his breathing. Howard wanted to plead for her to stop, but his chest could barely expand enough to find the air.
Julia’s powerful legs straightened, bringing her to her full height, and she strode away.
Howard strained against the crowbar that bound him. There was no use: with only the strength off her fingers, she had imprisoned him in a tourniquet of iron.
He writhed, panted, and most of all, found himself terrified of what might come next.
With the burden of Howard’s discontent fastened securely behind her, Julia strode toward the beat of the music on the beach. She felt lighter and more carefree with each step. Her body wanted to dance, to feel the touch of men against her skin.
When she arrived, Amanda had already gone off with Mindy. But the hundred-and eighty-year-old Ruth was swaying to the music in her tiny bikini, mesmerizing her two-dozen-man audience with her flawless skin, her immense and pert curves, her flawless youthful skin, her unerring sense of rhythm and the easy grace with which her movement flowed.
“Don’t worry about the beads he stole,” Ruth purred. “Just come dance with me.”
Julia joined in. In her old body, she had never been a good dancer. But her new muscles seemed to inhale the rhythm of the music the way her lungs took in air. She swayed with precision and grace, the jewels and mirrors of her outfit captured the flames and turned them into elegant fireworks of gold and blue. She watched the wide eyes of the boys follow her ample hourglass form, her superbly generous breasts, her physique swollen with power.
Everything she had previously been, every custom she had previously known, was foreign to her now. Julia surveyed the rugged features and heart-warming smiles of the assembled men, trying to decide which one was most attractive.
“I saved a dozen for you.” Ruth’s voice dripped like lubricant.
Julia felt her body softening, preparing itself for the affections it was about to receive. Her superhuman needs were now at a fever pitch.
“And after you’re done with them, come find me,” Ruth purred. “And we’ll fuck each other until the sun comes up.”
That sounded very, very good. Julia could only smile and pat the older woman’s rear as she surveyed the array of men. Then, she took a step toward the first of her conquests.