LaPorte Caves – Chapter 7
Written by circes_cup :: [Saturday, 26 March 2016 11:42] Last updated by :: [Sunday, 27 March 2016 19:06]
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.
SYNOPSIS UP TO THIS POINT
Julia and Howard took a wrong turn in a Kentucky cave and tumbled out into world of amazon women. Julia promised Howard that she would never drink the elixir that would transforms normal women into an amazons. But then she succumbed to temptation, consumed the elixir, and received the mind-boggling power that all other females in this world enjoy. Although Howard continues to love her, he finds her new level of power to be frightening, and is concerned that the couple's return to Kentucky will now be all the more difficult. Julia promises him that they will indeed return, and that her now powers will actually ease the difficult journey. Moreover, she promises that she will do everything in her power to get them back immediately.
Morning came to the beach house with no sense of urgency. At least, that was how it felt to Julia. She had been anxious all night. Taking up more of the bed than Howard only served to remind Julia of her broken promise to him. Ultimately, Julia had abandoned her efforts to sleep. She had wrapped herself in a terry cloth robe and had wandered into the kitchen to watch the surf roll in. The blacks of night were turning into pre-dawn grays.
The knowledge that she had betrayed him was bad enough. But it was made worse by her memories of the previous day, the joy of running faster than a gazelle, swimming faster than a dolphin, lifting more than any earth creature could. Julia closed her eyes. Let it go, she told herself, taking a deep breath. In the distance a cresting wave buckled in on itself with a WHOOSH.
You belong back on Earth. WHOOSH.
Howard belongs back on Earth. WHOOSH.
Stay focused. Stay calm. WHOOSH. Find the way home. WHOOSH.
Julia repeated this mantras several dozen times before she was interrupted by heavy footsteps.
“I was thinking of a morning swim – to get a little exercise before the kids wake up.” It was Ruth, also garbed in a terrycloth robe. “You interested in joining me?”
“No, thank you. I should go to the caves today – try to scout a route home.”
Ruth joined Julia at the window and turned the green jewels of her eyes to the water. As her host stared into the distance, Julia examined the woman's features. Well into her forties, Julia observed, and she doesn't have crow's feet, or for that matter, any other signs of age. The formation of wrinkles along the throat, the thinning of hair, the moles and other imperfections that mar skin over time – none of these were present.
Instead, the only outward sign of Ruth's true age was the color of her hair: silver hues had begun to mix with the woman's golden blond. But rather than diminish her attractiveness, the silver did the opposite: it leant her a aura of sophistication and elegance, much the same that greying hair did with men back on earth. Everything about the woman was naturally beautiful. Her cosmetic cabinet probably contains no makeup, no creams, nothing more than a toothbrush. These women are blessed, Julia thought.
And yet, Ruth wasn't acting blessed today. Her emerald eyes were an olive drab against the grey sky. She closed them, and as if suffering from an inner pain, inhaled deeply. The “V” between her robe's panels erupted wide, revealing the marvelous depth of the woman's cleavage.
Unexpectedly, Julia found herself wanting to stare. “Is something wrong, Ruth?”
She let out a long, defeated sigh. The “V” collapsed to a vertical slit, robbing Julia of the that stunning view. “These morning swims used to be the highlight of my day here. Mindy, or her older sister, would come along. We would explore together, frolic in the waves and the depths, share adventures that only Nourished women could share. But my eldest daughter moved out, and these days, Mindy has lost interest. And so I go alone.”
“Your husband can't go with you?”
“The men are far too weak to keep up.” Ruth's crossed her forearms, thick with power, and stared at the waves. “I'm lucky to be a woman, I know that,” she continued. “And I'm proud to be the head of a household and the owner of a successful company as well. But sometimes it gets lonely at the top, and never am I more aware of it than when I have to swim alone.”
Julia felt a pang of guilt forming in her gut. This was the woman that had taken her and Howard in from the hospital. Julia owed her far more than a swim. “How long do you think it would take, if we went together?”
“You'd be interested? Really?” The emeralds of Ruth's eyes recovered their lustre.” We'd be back by breakfast, so you'd still have the rest of your day for your caves.”
Faced with the glow of Ruth's gemstones, Julia found her resistance to be made of softer stuff. “Sure,” she said. “I'll go get my suit,” Julia smiled.
“Not for this kind of swimming.” the woman replied. “We'll be using tails, and those things can get you going really fast. All that speed would just create unnecessary wear and tear on the suit.” In only a moment, she had shrugged out of her terrycloth robe and let it pile on the ground. Ruth was wearing nothing underneath. It was the first time Ruth had been naked in front of Julia. Her dimensions were positively herculean: thick slabs and dense balls of muscle everywhere the eye could roam, breasts that defied gravity and probably several other natural laws as well.
“You're …” Julia took in the woman's logic-defying dimensions. “You're magnificent.”
Ruth let out a yelp of surprise. “Wow, thank you.” She looked over her naked, herculean form, as if for the first time. “It's been so many years since I first Nourished, I suppose my body had become commonplace to me. Hearing an outsider describe me in that way … magnificent … wow. It makes my toes tingle!”
To think having a body like that would be commonplace …
The older woman began to untie the knot of Julia's robe. “Let's see what the Nourishment did for you overnight,” Julia felt the older woman's fingers sliding the robe off her shoulders, the cool tickle of air against her skin. “Nice. Your abs are showing about an inch of relief. I'd say you are twenty-two inches on the arms, twenty-nine on the thighs. And a great pair of breasts, to boot. You're a natural for this.”
Ruth crossed the room and picked up a small, dumbell-shaped vial, perhaps an inch long and thick as a pencil. It had elegant silver ornamentation and contained a red liquid. Ruth unscrewed one of the wide ends, slipped the narrow bar through a piercing in her nipple, and then re-attached it. On any Earth flesh, jewelry of this size would have seemed too big. But Ruth's nipple was thick as a strawberry: the vial was smothered by the sheer size of her feminine nub.
“What is it?” Julia asked.
“My husband's blood. It's a tradition here. I wear it whenever I am away from him. It's a reminder that, no matter how far I go, and how many men I enjoy, half of me still belongs to him, my Claimed.”
How many men … Julia wondered how a woman could so naturally accept infidelity like this. This was a warped society, to be sure. But she also rubbed her own strawberry-sized nipple, wondering what it would feel like to be pierced by something so thick, to wear something that so dramatically testified to her love for Howard. Her nipple stiffened and ached, feeling somehow hollow and lacking.
Without shame for her nakedness, Ruth strode confidently outside, her robe wadded up in her fist.
Julia followed more sheepishly, her panties still on, using her folded-up robe to screen her bust.
When Ruth saw this, she giggled. She slid Julia's panties down to her ankles and took her robe away. “Is everyone this bashful where you come from?”
“Yes.” She reddened as the sweet salt air tickled her nakedness. “We on Earth don't have perfect bodies, like you do.”
“THEY don't have perfect bodies, like WE do” Ruth corrected.
Julia felt an involuntary thrill at those words – the suggestion that she was somehow a true member of this supercharged society, if only for a short time. Don't listen to her, Julia prodded herself. You're not one of them. You're not supposed to be like this. Julia crossed her superhuman arms over her superhuman breasts and closed her superhuman eyes for a moment, letting the distant WHOOSH of the waves bring back her mantras of self-restraint. “You said we were using something called a 'tail' for this swim?”
“Uh huh.” Ruth pointed at two large objects, perhaps, each 20 feet in length, resembling the tail of a fish. “To get some exercise in the water, us ladies need some extra equipment. Simply thrashing our legs at full speed makes them act more like blenders than like propellers. So, when we work out in the water, we use these.” The tails ended with broad fins about 10 feet wide. It was as if an enormous sea serpent had been severed in the middle, with the back half deposited on the ground.
“They look big,” Julia said on instinct.
“They're only about five hundred pounds a piece,” Ruth said, picking up one. “This one is mine. The other one is Mindy's but you can borrow it.”
Five hundred pounds-- Julia reminded herself not to be intimidated after her feats yesterday. She hoisted the 20-foot-long mass onto her shoulder with reassuring ease. It glistened with iridescent beads, hundreds of them, the size of cherries. The material seemed somehow organic. She squeezed it a bit. It felt like flesh.
Once in the water, Ruth slid her legs into her tail and pulled it up to her waist. She looks like a mermaid, Julia thought, but a perverted version of one, with a tail twice as long and muscles many times as big.
Julia followed suit, slipping her legs in. The tail closed around her legs and hips on its own volition, squeezing the bottom half of her body like a giant hand. “Is this thing … Alive?”
“Not really. It's living tissue that's been grown in a lab. The part where it attaches to your torso is derived from clams, who are very good at attaching to other objects. The rest if it is mostly stiff organic fiber – good for transferring the energy of your leg motion across a wider area.”
“I don't know, Ruth. It's really strange to be in the water with my legs confined, and something this large attached to me.” Julia tried to get her body vertical and tread water, but the massive tail scraped along the bottom and disrupted her balance. She was beginning to panic when she felt strong arms surround her torso. Julia felt herself being hoisted into a vertical position, eye-to-eye with Ruth.
“I've got you, honey,” said the older woman.
Julia recovered her senses. She found herself staring into the sparkling emeralds of Ruth's eyes, her perfectly formed lips, the high cheekbones awash in the rose-colored light of dawn. Lordy she is beautiful, Julia sighed.
And not just beautiful, but built for sex. Although their faces were nearly two feet apart, Julia could feel her nipples graze Ruth's under the water. That's how 'stacked' she is, Julia thought, how we both are. She found herself wondering what it would be like to explore Ruth's body, to run her hands along its incredible curves, feel her lips … oh, damn. Julia felt her nipples hardening against the gentle pressure of Ruth's embrace. “Sorry,” Julia whispered, her face reddening.
“My daughter told me that you have insecurities about being attracted to other women. She says that most women on Earth have intercourse only with men.”
Julia's face reddened. “Are you saying it's different here?”
“Sometimes you might want one thing, sometimes you might want something else. That's natural. You can be in the mood for strawberry ice cream one day, vanilla ice cream the next. Some days you might even want both. We don't put our hankerings into categories. Every experience fulfills a different need.
Julia felt a hand cup one of her breasts.
“And sometimes, we need something that only a woman can provide.” Julia felt Ruth thumb and forefinger clasp her nipple. “This, for example, is about a thousand pounds of force.”
Julia felt Ruth's digits squeeze her with the kind of pressure that would shatter concrete. Her chest filled with searing desire, her nipple engorging itself against the crushing force of Ruth's digits.
“Oh … Oh wow … Ruth, you have to stop … Howard …”
“You're so cute about your devotion to him. I have no idea why you limit yourself to one man, but the intensity of your feelings toward him is … inspiring.” Ruth removed her hand. “Ready to swim?”
Julia nodded vigorously. Anything to escape the mix desire and emotion that swirled within her.
“Do it like this,” Ruth released Julia's arms and slid away. Then, the woman gave her tail a kick. She darted through the water.
Julia tried it, a single swift kick up and down with the legs. Attached as she was to a 20-foot-long object, this effort would have produced nothing but embarrassment in her old body. But in her new one, her abdominal and thigh muscles caused an undulation to travel down her 500-pound tail.
“There's a rhythm to it,” Ruth said. “Your Nourished body learns new physical skills about five hundred times faster an un-Nourished one. What would normally take you 20 hours to learn should take you --”
“-- two minutes and twenty-four seconds,” Julia concluded, her elevated math functions kicking in without invitation.
“Exactly. Experiment with your tail a bit and you'll find the rhythm.”
Julia kicked her legs up and down again at regular intervals, sending undulations one after the other down the length of the tail. After several tries, she quickly settled into a pattern of movement, that, once established, sent her rocketing through the water.
“You're a natural!” Ruth shouted catching up to her.
“This is SO cool! How fast can we go with these tails on?”
“I'm not telling. Why don't you find out!” Ruth giggled.
Julia ducked below the water, and was off. Every one of her leg and abdominal muscles pounded away with delightful fury, causing her enormous fish tail to swish back and forth once a second. She felt herself picking up tremendous speed. Underwater, fish and kelp shot by in a blur. When she came up for air, her face smashed through waves like the prow of a motorboat.
Ruth pulled up alongside, breaching the surface for air. Julia watched as her companion's head smashed into wave after wave like a cannonball in flight, sending spray twenty feet into the air.
A sleek powerboat appeared ahead, traveling at full speed out into the open ocean-- probably a group leaving first thing in the morning for a day of fishing, Julia figured. Such was the boat's speed that it produced white plumes of spray in front of it. Julia slowed to a halt and righted herself, tail swishing gently beneath her for stability. Ruth followed suit.
“Think we can catch up to it?” Julia asked.
“It's so refreshing to be around you Julia. The innocence, the wonder --- you're taking me back to the days I first Nourished, nearly thirty years ago. You don't even understand your own power.” Ruth nodded at the vessel in the distance. “It's just a motorboat. Of course we can catch it. Want to go say 'hi' to them?”
“I don't know,” Julia hesitated, covering her breasts with her hands. “We're topless, after all.”
“Sure we're topless. But is there something about our breasts that could be improved?”
Julia watched as Ruth gave a slight kick underwater, causing her torso to rise out of the water vertically. The woman's 'girls' breached the surface of the water and stood proudly at attention for Julia's review: a 53-inch bust line that was perfectly symmetrical, in a perfect teardrop shape despite gravity's vain attempts to have it otherwise. Julia knew that she looked just as good.
“As I said,” Ruth continued, “you don't understand your own power.” Ruth didn't remain for more conversation. She shot off toward the boat, her 20-foot fish-like tail swishing with practiced efficiency behind her.
“Hey, wait up, girl!” Julia shouted diving after her.
Julia's torso and leg muscles exploded as she put everything she had into the pursuit. THUMP-THUMP-THUMP-THUMP went the waves as she smashed through them in rapid sequence like the prow of the powerboat they were chasing. She was moving with frightening speed, Julia knew. Her body was taking a level of abuse that would have killed her before the Nourishment.
At the speed the women traveled, the boat went from a speck to something much larger in only a minute. A thick white froth emanated from its two large outboard engines: the craft was moving at full throttle, away from them. Julia kicked a bit harder and tried to imagine the immense power the her legs and abdomen were exerting. She laughed to herself. Although Julia did have to put some effort into it, closing the distance with the weaker machine was not hard.
The two women were soon alongside the boat. They were cruising like dolphins, dipping below the surface for speed and then coming back up again for air and orientation.
The arrival of the women had not gone unnoticed on the boat: the passengers had assembled on the deck and were pointing.
“Men!” Ruth announced to her friend. “A gift from the ocean gods. It's been forever since I've enjoyed the attentions of a new batch.”
“Your husband doesn't mind you … Spending time with them?”
“Are you kidding? He's been BEGGING me to find some new boyfriends, so that he can actually get some sleep.”
A Nourished woman's libido is as excessive as the rest of her body, they had told her. Julia been feeling it too.
Ruth wasn't waiting around for any more conversation. She waved at the boat. “Hi boys!”
They smiled and waved back, enthusiastic. Julia was sure they'd seen Nourished women before, but apparently it did nothing to dampen their enthusiasm.
“How fast are you going?”
There was a brief pause as someone checked the gauge. “About 40 miles an hour,” came the shout back.
“How fast do you think it will go?”
The boat responded by accelerating.
“That's it?” Ruth teased.
Julia watched the woman set her jaw in concentration and then rocket forward through the water, easily doubling whatever pitiful speed the boat had achieved. Julia followed her friend. They left the boat behind them by several hundred yards, then crossed its path, turned back towards it, and then crossed behind its stern.
The two outboard motors were huge, perhaps four feet across.
“How many horses do you boys have in those things?” Ruth shouted.
“350 a piece,” the skipper shouted back.
Julia was stunned. This powerboat had 700 horsepower on it, and she was doing laps around it using only her muscles!
“For having 700 horses on the back, you guys can't seem to go very fast!” Ruth taunted.
“Hey,” one of the guys laughed, “we were going 55 miles an hour!”
“I know. That's nothing! Watch this!” Ruth dove straight down into the water, disappearing.
Ruth was being more flirtatious than Julia would have expected from a corporate executive and mother of four.
Suddenly, the woman burst out of the water vertically, like a ballistic missle. She must have picked up intense speed while under water. Her body and its enormous tail arced clear over the boat and splashed down on the other side.
The men went wild with applause. The reception she and Ruth were getting from these men was exhilarating. It was hard not to get caught up in the excitement. The boat slowed to a no-wake speed.
“Those guys are head over heels for you,” Julia observed.
A perfectly white smile spread across Ruth's face, and her eyes sparkled. She gestured at the fishing poles that were still in their mountings. “See anything interesting out here yet?” she shouted.
Several of the men shook their heads.
She flipped over on her back. Ruth's magnificent breasts broke the surface of the water and pointed jubilantly skyward. “How about now?”
Wild hoots and hollers followed.
Julia found herself approaching the woman from behind and wrapping a possessive arm around her waist. “Sorry boys,” she found herself shouting. “She's mine this morning!”
What the hell am I doing, Julia wondered to herself? I'm in a committed relationship, and yet I'm being possessive about someone else – and it's woman, no less! But nonetheless, she found a wetness forming down in the depths of her tail, and it wasn't from the ocean water. Julia allowed herself to tighten her embrace, delighting in the feeling of her breasts pressing into the other woman's back with hundreds of pounds of force. “All mine!” Julia emphasized.
“No fair!” countered the guys. Some of the laughter had gone out of them, however. The teasing was deepening their needs.
“Yup,” Julia shouted. “You'll have to find your own lady. Hope there are other fish in the sea!”
The guys laughed. One of them reached into a cooler and threw a handful of ice cubes at her.
“Oh, is that how it is?” Julia asked. She flicked her massive tail at the boat, sending about 100 gallons crashing across the deck, drenching all of them.
Guys slipped and fell. Beers and baseball caps and sunglasses spilled into the ocean. The water drained out of the scuppers like it was coming out of a firehose. The engines sputtered to a halt in a cloud of white smoke.
Julia felt terrible. “I'm sorry!” she shouted.
Water was continuing to drain off the deck. The boat looked like it had barely survived a monsoon. “So much fucking power,” Julia whispered to herself, stunned. “I was just playing around.”
The men returned only wounded looks, casting disconsolate stares at the floating baseball caps and half-finished cans of beer.
“Why aren't they saying anything?” Julia asked. Back home, a group of guys like that would have all sorts of nasty things to say right now.
“You could tear their boat to shreds if you felt like it.” Ruth answered. “They know the danger of making you upset.”
“That's pretty sick,” Julia voiced with care. But at the same time, she thought, that amount of power … it's pretty fucking cool. The realization sent a tingle through Julia. She had to force herself to remember how this all must feel from the soggy perspective of the guys. “I think I've made those guys really unhappy,” she confessed to Ruth.
“So? You can change that. You're a woman. They're men. You have power over them.” Ruth directed her voice toward the boat. “My friend says that your mad at her!”
There was no response from the defeated men. That meant “yes”, Julia knew.
Ruth gave a quick flick to her tail and dove underwater. The surface was calm for a moment until she shot back up, vertically, alongside the boat. She grabbed the outer railing of the vessel and hoisted herself up on it, arms straight down, railing even with her upper thighs. Julia followed suit, hoisting herself up until her arms, too, were extended straight below her. They looked like gymnasts beginning a routine on the uneven bars, but with enormous fish-like tails extending below them into the water.
“It's ok,” Ruth offered to the men. “You can say what's on your mind.”
From this position, the woman's naked breasts were eye-level for her audience. Each was half again as large as the men's heads. Ruth sighed, causing her massive mounds to ballon into the space in front of her. Their presence was overwhelming.
The men were transfixed. The anger that previously burned inside the men seemed suddenly to dissipate. Their limbs went a little bit slack. The tension in their faces eased. Their acuity, too, must have slackened, because none of them was able to produce a response. The deck was silent apart from the noise of the outboard engines trying, and failing, to restart.
“Or is nothing on your mind at all?” Ruth taunted. “Or maybe, your minds have emptied to clear space for these?” She removed one hand from the railing and cupped her breast, its heavy flesh spilling over and between her fingers. “They are huge, I know. Much bigger than your brains.”
The men returned only blank stares.
Julia giggled. Did they even realize that Ruth was making fun of them? You have power over them, Ruth had said. She wasn't talking about solely physical power, Julia now realized, but something more … absolute. “These guys are acting as though they've never seen a woman!” Julia whispered in her friend's ear.
“The ratio of men to women here is ten-to-one. For many of these guys, a glossy magazine is probably as close as they have gotten to a live woman for years.” Ruth raised her voice for the benefit of the men. “Maybe we could help get your day back on track. Permission to come aboard?”
One of the guys nodded with enthusiasm.
With deft motion, Ruth slipped out of her mermaid's tail and clipped it to one of the boat's dock lines. She threw her legs over the railing and soon stood among them, fully naked. If this was embarrassing for her, there was no redness on her cheeks to show it.
Ruth handed Julia another spare dock line, and Julia slipped out of her tail as well. She had never been topless – set aside fully naked – in front of strangers before. She should have been shame-faced, she knew. But as she watched the guys go slack-jawed with admiration, she was reminded of how fetching her body must appear. Her tits, her ass, her hourglass figure – all of these aspects of her appearance were beyond stunning. Back on Earth, if it weren't for the muscles, she could have been a supermodel.
Ruth pointed to six of the guys. “Why don't you boys get the engine restarted, while the rest of you tell me about your fishing plans for the day?”
With the women on board, the activity on the deck appeared to shift to a new, happier tone. The energy seemed to come back into the men's limbs. When the men slipped on the still wet deck, they just chuckled, shook their head, and got back to their feet. We have that effect on them, Julia realized. And it wasn't from magic or body chemistry or some other form of trickery, but instead from pure, radiant beauty.
Since a flurry of guys had formed around Ruth, Julia was, for a moment, forgotten. She turned her attention to the activity around the outboard motors. They were huge, 350 horsepower a piece. Six guys were struggling to hoist one of them. They grunted with effort, and their muscles were visibly strained. Julia could see that the sheen of seawater had burned off their foreheads and had been replaced with the finer droplets that came from perspiration.
“Whatchya doin?” Julia asked.
The men ceased their struggles. She felt their eyes course over the nakedness of her jaw-dropping figure. Julia had to resist the instinct to cover herself.
“The outboard engines are waterlogged,” one of the men finally answered. “They need to be pulled out of the water to drain.”
Julia approached one of the outboards. The small crowd of men cleared for her. She had to ask for help reading the language on the casing.
“800 pounds,” explained one of the guys.
“That's pretty light,” she remarked, before realizing the absurdity of it. Only a few days ago, weight like that was unimaginable to me.
She grabbed the engine with one hand and unfastened it from the boat with the other. Her upper arm, thick with enhanced female muscle fiber, barely swelled as she hoisted the huge object clear of its mountings. She considered the mass suspended in midair-- ten feet long, four feet across, heavier than all four of the men combined and enough to crush any of them to death. But to her, it was no heavier than a toaster. Her arm didn't quiver, didn't tire. It could, she knew, do so much more.
She felt the rapt stares of the men on her body, her naked perfection. Their breathing had deepened and become more labored, she noticed. I'm turning them on – just by standing here. She winked at one of them and watched his shorts distend with uncomfortable firmness. I can affect these guys so easily! Her nipples stiffened slightly at the more she thought about it. She liked their attention. She liked their their appearance. She found herself wondering what it would feel like to …
No! He mind rebelled at the suggestion. What the heck was I just thinking? I am devoted to Howard! When we're back at the house, the introduction of some clothing into my morning will be a welcome change.
She twisted her wrist, rotating the entire 800-pound engine on its axis. A thin stream of water spilled out.
“We never could have fixed that – not if we have twice as many guys and all day to do it,” one of the guys whispered to another.
She twisted her wrist again, flipping it 180 degrees. This drained the rest.
What's impossible for them is effortless for me, Julia realized. They are not upset anymore because they know what's good for them: just as easily as I can ruin their day, I can save it, with nothing more than a flock of my wrist. She returned the engine to its mountings, sliding the inch-thick pins into their collars with a heavy CLICK.
Satisfied that the first engine was drained, she performed the same tasks with the other one. Once back on their mountings, the engines started easily. Returning to the foredeck, Julia found Ruth reclining on some deck cushions, reviewing a map of the ocean with some of the guys. Her tone of voice with the men was a little bit too appreciative. She's flirting, Julia realized.
“They've been trying to catch giant hunter eel,” Ruth announced to her friend.
“What the hell is a 'giant hunter eel'? It sounds like something a bush league science fiction writer would invent.”
“They're very real to us. And hard critters to catch,” offered one of the guys. “They're predators, so they range over a wide area and are constantly on the move. Strong, too – teeth four inches long. The kind of fish that is more than happy to eat your lure and your line, and your arm, too, if you're not careful.”
“Aren't there any easier fish out there?” Julia asked.
“Sure, but the licenses to fish these are pretty cheap: they're an invasive species. Been chomping their way through native fauna for a few years now. So the government sees us as performing a service.”
There again was that relationship between men and money. The men didn't have it. Julia was reminded of Mindy's comments about the Men's Beach, how the bathers there could't afford beach houses like the women. Out here, Julia could imagine women with their large, expensive yachts doing whatever sport fishing they liked, no matter how expensive the license.
“Is the meat any good?”
“Meat's great if you can catch it. Problem is, they're so strong, they just tear the lures right off the lines. We went out yesterday and came back empty-handed. We're hoping for better luck today. It's our last vacation day for the month.”
“Oh, I'm sorry guys. I hope it goes better.”
“It will.” Ruth sat up. “I'm sure of it.”
Their tail fins back on, the women treaded water as they watched the boat speed away.
“How did I do up there?” Julia asked. “Do you think they're still mad at me?”
“No, honey, you did great-- far, far better than Mindy would have.”
“If I had boarded that boat with Mindy, I would have spent the entire time trying to keep her from hurting the men's feelings; she has no idea how hard it is to be male.”
Ruth sighed before continuing. “I'm always playing the authority figure around here – trying to get Mindy to be respectful, trying to teach Becky how to grow into her body, keeping my husband's self-esteem up, supporting my family financially, running my company. The list of responsibilities seems endless. And it's turned me into a person that I find sometimes … dull. That's that great thing about having you here, Julia. It's given me a chance to be someone else for a change.”
“Well, at a minimum, it's brought the flirt out in you.”
The green of Ruth's eyes seemed to grow. “The flirting's not over yet. Did you hear that I invited them over to party with us?”
Julia shook her head.
“But I told them they could come on only one condition: They have to catch a boatload of eels.”
“Ruth, you're messing with their heads!” Julia laughed, giving her friend a playful shove through the water. “You know they're never going to catch anything!”
Ruth winked. “Maybe they won't, maybe they will. It is we who decide. You wanted to make amends for getting them soggy, right?”
“I don't get it.”
Ruth raised her hand out of the water and then pointed an index finger down into it. “Down there. Twelve feet long. Lots of teeth. Thick as a 30-gallon trash can and all muscle. Looks like something from your childhood nightmares. Maybe we go rough them up a bit, make them easier to catch.”
“No,” Julia responded. “That sounds scary.”
But her objections were heard by only the ocean waves. Ruth had already dipped below the surface. The hunt was on.
“Fuck me,” the woman whispered, before diving below the waves herself.
It took forever to find Ruth. That was because Julia had been looking close to the surface, where human beings are supposed to swim, not straight down. When Julia finally did look down past her own tail fin, she saw only Ruth's own tail in the distance.
Julia felt a nervous clench in her gut as she followed her friend down. Normally, the pressure at the bottom of a swimming pool was enough hurt her ears. But she descended now without pain-- twenty-five feet, and then fifty. When will the pain come, she wondered? The descent continued-- one hundred feet, two hundred, so deep that she couldn't tell for sure. Aren't my lungs supposed to collapse at some point? But it felt easy, natural.
Finally, Ruth stopped and motioned Julia close. Pointing, Ruth's arm traced a line to a writhing grey mass about a fifty feet wide, huddled in a crevasse on the sea floor.
Ruth then pointed up, indicating that she wanted Julia to surface with her.
Once they had done so, Ruth's hand disappeared beneath the waves, and came back with several iridescent beads the size of cherries. “These are stitched into the side of our tails. They aren't just decorative. They're full of solid oxygen – not the gas, but the solid.”
She handed one to Julia. “Bite the casing to release the oxygen. Keep your lips closed for that part: it will feel like a grenade going off in your mouth. That's the oxygen expanding from a solid state to a gas. Once it's released, your lungs will absorb it within seconds. Spit the casing out and you should have about a twenty-minute supply of air in your bloodstream.”
“Will it hurt me?”
“No, silly. Just don't swallow them by mistake, or you'll fart like a rhinoceros.”
That made Julia giggle. She considered the bead in her hand. “There must be two hundred of these on my tail.”
“Closer to two thousand. And each one is packed with solid oxygen.” Ruth motioned to the seemingly endless depths below, still gray with the muted light of dawn. “You could spend a month down there if you needed to.”
Julia tried to imagine the implications. No SCUBA equipment, no need to surface every twenty minutes-- she could spend all week exploring down there if she felt like it. Her enhanced body offered more than the ability simply to do old things better. It opened entirely new experiences that had never been imaginable to her before. “That's pretty cool,” Julia concluded.
“I know. Maybe next week I take you on a tour of a tropical reef!” Ruth was clearly excited.
Next week, I'll be gone Julia thought, sadly.
“So, here's the plan. It'll be fun. We go down there and roughhouse with the fish a little bit – get them good and upset.” She stopped speaking.
“That constitutes a plan?”
Ruth only shrugged her thick shoulders. “You ready? Don't forget to take your oxygen.”
Julia hesitated, rolling the bead between her thumb and forefinger. “I'm supposed to bite through this? The casing looks pretty tough.”
“No, it's not tough at all,” Ruth explained. “It's just steel.”
They were big, just as Ruth had promised. And, by all appearances, mean: 20-foot long cylinders of muscle, thick as garbage cans, and capped by rows of sharp teeth with sinister yellow eyes. And they were numerous: a school of thirty writhed together in a giant knot.
This is not a school of fish, Julia realized, or a school of anything. Schools are for prey. This is a pack, like a pack of wolves. These are predators.
The undersea realm had been denuded of all life here. Whereas Julia had seen fauna of many colors and stripes in other areas, here the water was grey and empty. These eels, she realized – they had destroyed everything.
Roughhouse a little bit, Ruth had said. What the hell was she thinking? Each of these creatures was bigger than Julia's living room couch, and their mouths contained more blades than her whole kitchen. And the women were armed with, what, their bare hands?
Julia felt defenseless, exposed. Instinctively, she covered her topless torso with her arms. As she did so, she looked with longing at the surface of the water, twenty stories above. From here, the light of the sky was only faint, and it made her feel alone. What happens if one of them bites us, Julia wondered? Will a rescue ever come? How would they even find us? Will Howard get a phone call only after our bodies wash up on the beach?
She turned to Ruth, who was floating vertically, her tail swishing just enough to keep her upper body immobile against the current. See seemed to be sizing up the gaggle of death that swarmed in front of them. Julia wished that she could talk to Ruth right now, ask why exactly a little morning exercise had turned into a trip to the ocean floor, to confront something that eats swimmers for breakfast.
But there would be no conversation. Ruth was swimming toward the writhing mass already.
With a reluctant flick of her tail, Julia followed.
When it finally happened, it happened fast. The knot of eels unwound itself. Three of the creatures unleashed an underwater scream and launched themselves at Julia. Her mind unleashed a scream of its own as she darted away, her tail jerking back and forth in panic. She lost track of Ruth as she barreled toward the safety of the sea floor. On it were hulks of sunken driftwood – some of it quite large – grey limbs reaching upward into the water like the arms of drowning men.
Julia darted behind a large branch, maybe two feet thick. One of the eels opened its mouth wide and then brought it down with a CRUNCH: the creature's jaw cut easily through the trunk. With a twist of its head, the creature tossed away the severed section and refocused its sinister yellow glow on her.
I don't want to die down here, Julia's mind screamed!
Moving as deftly as she could given the size of her tail, Julia darted behind an even larger submerged tree.
But the eels did not relent. A second one came after her. It spread its jaws wide and closed its mouth on the thick driftwood trunk. An eruption of splinters filled the water.
There's no hiding from these monsters, Julia thought. My only chance is to outrun them. Julia shot out of the driftwood forest with a sudden burst of speed, surprising her assailants and leaving them, momentarily, behind.
She jerked her head in all directions, searching for Ruth, and found her close to he surface. The purple/green of her tail was surrounded by the writhing grey of the eel pack. She was alone. Ruth had drawn the bulk of the pack away from Julia, she realized. And they were pissed.
No, Julia thought. Not Ruth! The woman was so beautiful, serene, and kind. Hurt someone else, maybe, but not Ruth!
The eels surrounding Ruth didn't seem to agree. They chortled out an underwater scream and lunged at the woman, their mouths wide open and showing their full array of vicious teeth. The water around Ruth became a ball of grey eel flesh as the attack ensued. A feeling of dread overcame Julia: they were going to tear the woman apart.
“NOOOO!” Julia screamed into the water. She had known Ruth for only a few days, but being near her made Julia feel so … happy. And the monsters were killing her!
Julia felt an unexpected rage overcoming her. With a swift flap of her tail, she darted up to the ball of sea life that surrounded Ruth. Julia surfaced explosively, scattering the attackers. She swung a wild, inexperienced punch at one of the huge creatures, hoping to create a distraction.
Julia's fist connected with the beast's head, and she felt something collapse under the blow. She piled more punches into the animal and watched its head begin to deform. I destroyed the thing's skull, Julia finally realized, as it floated away, unmoving.
She did not take time to celebrate. More of the disgusting creatures had circled her and were now attacking with a predator's fury. Julia swung her tail in a wild arc, hoping to catch one of them in the midsection. She heard a CRUNCH as her target's ribcage collapsed.
The water around Julia became a cloud of angry grey flesh. The creatures were everywhere, circling her, probing the perimeter defined by her swinging fists, lunging and receding. Julia twisted her head back and forth, swung her fists with abandon. But the swarm around her only tightend. Her eyes could not be everywhere at once. And so she didn't see the eel that had circled behind her-- until she felt its terrible jaw close around her torso.
Hundreds of teeth – the length of kitchen paring knives and every bit as sharp – slammed down on her abdomen and breasts and neck and arm. A loud CRUNCH filled Julia's ears. Julia screamed in desperation. She got dragged underwater for a moment. When her head broke the surface of the water again, the air was full of …
… laughter. It was Ruth's voice, sultry and powerful at the same time. “Did you really think they could hurt you, silly?”
“I … never thought …”
Another eel closed in for the attack, jaw opened wide. Julia raised an arm in defense, but too late. The creature's jaw snapped shut over her forearm and bicep. Julia felt no pain.
The giant eel, confused, locked its jaw, mandible muscles flaring as it bore into her. Julia felt nothing. She rotated her arm, a quizzical expression on her face. The five-hundred-pound beast rotated with her.
Another eel approached from behind Julia, and she reacted. With the eel still on her forearm, she swung her arm hard into the new attacker, bringing the creatures together with a loud CRACK. It was the sound of their bodies breaking. Water sprayed twenty feet in the air from the collision.
Julia watched with fascination as the eel's jaw slackened and slipped off her forearm. There was not even a scratch! Her body was imbued with not only the strength of hundreds, but also an invulnerability she had not even explored – yet another absurdity that she would have to struggle to believe.
The water around Julia was still writhing with the creatures, their anger only amplified. Julia unfurled her arms skyward, causing her other twin absurdities to jut straight out from her chest. They used to be so small and tender, Julia remembered. When I played soccer, getting hit there by the soccer ball was painful. But now – she watched the waves bend around their curvature – they ARE soccer balls. And now, nothing is painful.
When the next creature lunged at her, she only smiled. It was the largest attacker yet. It's jaws slammed shut over her torso like a steel trap. Julia watched with fascination. Teeth sharp enough to splinter wood could only dimple the flesh of her breasts. She flexed her abdominals, instantly turning her midriff into a column of granite, and watched rows of teeth shatter against the extreme hardness of those muscles. One of the animal's incisors landed on her nipple: she wiggled back and forth with delight as it hardened and drove the tooth backward into its socket cracking the monster's jaw. Julia found the center of the creature's skull and slammed her fist downward, almost as an experiment, to watch more closely what would happen. The skull shattered like an oyster cracker under the force of her enhanced muscles. She wound up her fist for another punch, but it wasn't needed: the creature stopped writhing and spilled into the deep. These monsters had destroyed everything they encountered, she thought, but against me they are little more than toys. My power is that awesome.
“You finally letting yourself have fun yet, girl?” Ruth's sonorous voice asked.
“I'm learning.” Julia popped an oxygen bead in her mouth and dipped back below the waves. Curiosity replaced fear as Julia examined the predators that encircled her.
Upon seeing the deaths of their pack-mates, the beasts had backed away a few yards, giving Julia a greater berth. The eels snarled snarled at her and spun in angry circles with unspent pathos. Julia feinted a swing of her fists, and the creatures instantly recoiled. They were scared, Julia realized!
An opening formed in the wall of swarm. Into it swam the largest eel she had yet seen: thirty feet long and perhaps six feet across. This is the leader of the hunting pack, Julia realized. It snarled at her with unfettered anger.
Julia looked around. Carcasses of her former opponents floated away in thick maroon clouds of their own blood. She had never been a combative person, but when she saw the fear and destruction she had wrought, her confidence swelled.
The leader of the pack, the largest of the giant eels, snarled again. Julia snarled back. The creature lunged, its jaws wide. With lightening speed, Julia grabbed its top and bottom jaws, one in each hand, and held them open. The giant eel's body thrashed wildly in protest, throwing its weight around with enough force to capsize a small boat. And yet, its weight and momentum were nothing compared to the sheer power of Julia's enhanced muscle. For the thousand pounds of muscle the creature possessed, it may as well have been a minnow.
She shoved the creature away from her and hit the side of its head with an open-handed blow. A loud SMACK resonated through the water. The creature reeled backwards, dazed and uncertain. I am greater than you, Julia thought – greater than any adversary you can imagine. She raised her arm and considered her bicep, filled with muscle fiber hundreds of times more efficient than anything on earth. Julia slowly brought her fist to her chin and watched with delight as her bicep expanded from the size of a football to something even greater. The uncertainty in the creature's eyes seemed to grow. Julia raised her other arm and balled that muscle into its full 27-inch greatness as well. She poured all her strength into the pose, feeling her forearms and lats and deltoids explode outward – a coordinated display of supercharged brawn. The creature seemed to shudder as Julia swelled large before it, the yellow in its eyes appearing no longer sinister, but pale with uncertainty. Julia let out a underwater roar – a torrent of air bubbles and sound that seemed to shake the ocean it self. The giant eel, the leader of them all, recoiled from her, collapsing its body like an accordion.
And then it bolted. In fact, the whole pack bolted, following their leader.
Julia reveled in the moment. The most vicious wildlife she had ever encountered had succumbed to her overwhelming power and was fleeing in fear. She was the alpha creature-- in the water, on the boat, on the land. She was the predator, and they were the prey.
“They messed with the wrong bitch, didn't they?” Ruth laughed as Julia surfaced again.
“Yes, they did. I thought they were going to hurt you,” Julia explained, wrapping her arms around Ruth. “And I couldn't stand to see you hurt.” Their naked torsos came together with bone-crushing force – far more force than the eel had been able to exert with its bite.
“Hurt me? Julia, you are as endearing as you are naive,” Ruth replied. Her inch-long nubs poked playfully into Julia's flesh, Ruth's nipple vial scraping its steel delightfully against her. I want one of those, Julia realized. It would feel good.
It also feels good to hold her, Julia realized, watching the play of the morning light on the emerald of Ruth's eyes, feeling the swell of her powerful body that pressed into Julia with unfathomable, delightful force.
Stop it, Julia, her mind insisted. You can't indulge in this flirtation. “What now?” Julia asked.
“Well, it's just like you wanted: we make amends to the men on the boat.”
Julia forced her mind to shift. Her thoughts slowly left the world of the powerful, the fearless and the feminine. They returned, with reluctance, to the world of the weak, the fearful, and the masculine. “And how do we help those poor men?”
“We herd the eels straight under their fishing poles.”
Ruth's perfect lips parted to reveal perfect teeth. “Yup, like cowgirls herding cattle.”
Julia smiled at the analogy. To the rest of the world, these creatures are scary. To us girls, they are only livestock. They are ours to slaughter.
In a flash, the women were off. Julia's legs and torso moved with strength an order of magnitude greater than anything existing in un-Nourished nature. Her tail beat the water with an indulgent fury. She shot forward into the depths at a speed that was an easy multiple of whatever the weaker, giant eels could do. Even though their quarry had a head start, Julia had no reservations about her ability to catch it.
The pack of eels was following a course parallel to the shore, with the open ocean to their left. Ruth rocketed to their right. They spun out to sea.
Julia, surfaced long enough to get her bearings on the fishing boat, and then descended again, pointing. She rocketed to the left of the herd, refining their course.
Ruth took up a position on the right flank of the herd, Julia on the left. When one of the creatures strayed, the women moved at blinding speed, corralling it with ease. Soon, the hull of a boat darkened the surface above: they had found the men's fishing vessel. Thick fishing line hung from the boat down into the depths, creating streamers of reflected light. At the end of the lines were hooks worthy of a 500 pound animal. Apart from the bait, the hooks were empty.
But when the eels saw the bait, their gluttonous nature took over, and they pounced. Lines that had been slack with inactivity quickly straightened. A hum pervaded the water: Julia learned later that this was the sound of the winches on the reels, designed to haul in beasts too large for men to haul in on their own. Some of the eels struggled, causing the winches to groan and slow, but Ruth simply slapped them, on the side of the head, dazing them and robbing the, of their strength. The giant sea creatures never had a chance-- not against the Nourished.
It was about fifteen minutes later that the women surfaced, at a distance beyond the notice of the boat. Hooting and hollering could be heard echoing across the water. Julia felt Ruth's arms encircle her from behind, loosely. Grasping Ruth's elbows, Julia guided them together, tightening the embrace. Ruth did not resist. Nothing more – Julia promised herself. It's nothing more than a hug between two grown women – two grown women that were half naked, wearing only fish tails. Nothing more than that.
“How far is it back to shore?” Julia asked.
“Not much. Maybe fifty miles. It'll be a nice warm-down from our morning exercise.”
To anyone back on earth, a swim of that distance was a death sentence. But Julia was no longer intimidated. She motioned toward the boat. “I guess we'll be seeing those guys later tonight, won't we?”
“Are we going to tell them that all those eels wound up on their hooks because of us?”
Julia turned her head over her shoulder. “Why not?”
“Because you need to give men the illusion of being capable, of having accomplishments. Without that they become depressed. And when they get depressed, they are truly useless.”
“That's how it is with your men, isn't it? With your Husband and the others you spend time with? You provide everything for them.”
“Yes.” Ruth tightened her embrace. “We provide everything for them, protect them, make life easy for them. That's my responsibility as a woman-- and Mindy's, too, whenever I can get her to act like an adult.”
Julia thought about Howard. He had always been the capable one, always the one providing for her. Never had it been the other way around. And Julia had never imagined it could be any different – until yesterday.
“And the men?” Julia asked, watching six of them struggle to budge and eel that she could have hoisted with one arm. “You're their world. You take care of everything they need. What do they do in return?”
“They make me happy, of course.”
Julia wondered how Howard would react to that statement. He is too much the leader, too much the man in charge. That sort of dependency would drive Howard nuts. He was the love of her life, no doubt. But his need to be the capable one, his need to be in charge – perhaps those tendencies were, in their own way, weaknesses.
The women swam back to shore, their enhanced muscles driving their large tails back and forth several times per second. Julia thrilled at the acceleration. She rocketed over the ocean bottom. She surfaced, and felt the THWAP-THWAP-THWAP of the waves as she slammed through them, far faster than any powerboat could. The shore appeared first as a thin, distant line, but quickly grew. Before long, the women were emerging from the water, their five-hundred-pound tails slung easily over their shoulders.
“Thanks for taking me out on the water this morning,” Julia said.
“Are you kidding? It was my pleasure. I feel twenty years younger. I feel like I am seeing the world once again through newly-Nourished eyes. What a thrill! What did you think of swimming with the tails?”
Julia beamed. “Terrific. I feel like the whole vast ocean is mine to explore and frolic in – as far as I want to go, as deep as I want to go, as long as I want to go. And whatever I encounter, no matter how large or frightening, it will be weaker than me. The power I possess, that all of us possess, is astounding.” Voicing the words sent a giddy rush through Julia's body.
“You sound like a woman that plans to stay, not one that's about to leave.”
Ugh, Julia thought. That's right: we're leaving. “I wish that I could go back and forth. Explore a little bit here, keep Howard comfortable there. I wish the boundaries between our worlds were more permeable.”
“What makes you think they're not?” She gave her tail a shake to get the water off. “School history books speak of a time when the Nourished would visit other worlds through the caves. But the details have been lost to the passage of time.”
Julia considered this. It was yet another strange absurdity in a world full of them. Julia imitated Ruth, shaking the water off her tail. “Well, I'll tell you one thing. If anyone managed to visit this place from earth, they'd think these tails were pretty silly. They make us look like mermaids!”
“On Earth, way back when, sailors used to report seeing women who were half human, half fish swimming in the open ocean. They were half naked, too!” Julia laughed, causing the breasts of her naked torso to bounce. “The sailors called the creatures 'mermaids'. But they weren't real, of course. Those sailors were so dehydrated and horny, who can blame them for creating a little myth to tickle their fantasies?”
Ruth giggled like a teenage girl. “What makes you think it was a myth?”