All the Girls Are Complicated
Written by gothmech :: [Saturday, 02 June 2018 18:56] Last updated by :: [Sunday, 03 June 2018 08:08]
Ann wakes up, in a bed that felt like it had a very cheap mattress. Where was she? Perhaps a futon, she thinks, her eyes still closed, her head still ringing. But where? Had she been drugged last night? She doesn’t remember anything after the nightclub. She opens her eyes and sees that she’s in some sort of shabby cabin. What had happened last night? She tries to get up, but finds that she’s naked, and chained to the bed. Her heart beats rapidly, while she looks at a shackle and tries to think about how to get loose. She was with Melanie last night. When she doesn’t come home, she’ll call someone. She’s got to call someone.
She looks over, and sees a second bed, with Melanie in it.
“Convenient to find both of you together,” says the man who entered. “I needed two subjects.” He takes a syringe from a tray, preps it from a bottle of serum. “There are some tests, that simply must be done on human subjects. This, for example.” He holds the needle to the light, showing a liquid within the color of olive oil. He walks towards Ann. She screams, but he injects her with it anyway, and then does the same to Melanie, before leaving without a further word.
“Ann, oh God, what the hell is this place? What’s happening?”
“I… I don’t remember anything,” says Ann. “Not after that last drink. This can’t…” She starts sobbing, and her vision shows blinking white spots, that slowly expand until she loses consciousness.
A few hours later, the door opens again. “Still with us? That’s good,” says the man. “You survived the serum. The first trials were not so successful. Now I need to put you to the test!” He takes out a pistol. “Don’t move.”
“What-what are you doing? Who are you?” asks Ann.
“I am going to undo the shackles,” says the man. “No sudden moves, or I’ll shoot.” He keeps out of reach as she gets up.
“Walk down the hall,” says the scientist, as she walks down a hall of concrete. She wonders if it’s some sort of bunker. There are no windows. She walks past a sort of vault door into another room, full of weights and exercise, and various other exercise equipment, including, weirdly, a pitching net facing down another long hall. Some sort of very big bunker.
“Do I get clothes?” asks Ann. “This is awkward.”
“I like it like this. Now put the shackles on your ankle,” says the mad scientist, gesturing with the gun. She does as he says, and then he tosses a key to her.
“Take off the cuffs. How much could you lift? You look very fit. My formula should double your strength. Try that bar.”
Ann thinks it looks hopelessly heavy for her, but she doesn’t want to provoke a nut with a gun, so she takes a hold of it and lifts-it turns out to be remarkably light. She lifts it over her head, and even thinks of throwing it at her captor, but decides that might get her shot, and so she drops it as she’s seen weightlifters do, glaring at her captor the whole time. He doesn’t seem to care.
“Good, good- that was 120 pounds. I’m sure you never managed to lift that before.”
She doesn’t bother to answer, but wonders how it could be so easy; she is a dancer, in excellent shape, and pretended to make an effort lifting it for his benefit. But more than her own weight-surely that should have been difficult, even with whatever ‘roids or whatever he dosed them with. She watches as he turns on a console.
“You are probably wondering why I brought you here. But now, I will reveal all. Look in that bucket.”
Ann checks it, and sees it’s full of baseballs.
“Years ago, I was banned—yes, banned! —from pro baseball after the early version of my serum caused minor… deterioration in pitching ability. But now, look at your strength. I bet you’ll be able to throw a 100-mile an hour fastball. Pick up one of the balls and throw it down the hall there-the speed will display on screen.
Ann picks up one of the balls, looks at it skeptically, then moves to a pitcher’s stance to throw it down the hall with what she thinks is a mediocre throw. He'll no doubt lecture her on form and insist she throw harder, so there's no need to do her best from the beginning. Nevertheless, it sounds like a gunshot as she releases the ball, and the display reads, “940 MPH”
The mad professor looks on in shock and walks to the machine.
“That can’t be possible.”
Ann picks up another ball and squeezes it. The laces break with a crack, and the cord wrapping unravels in her hand.
“Now that’s interesting,” says Ann, just as the man fires the pistol at her, three times. She feels the bullets impact, but they feel like raindrops, splashing against her skin-annoying, perhaps, but not painful. One hits her stomach, one bounces off her breast, and the last hits her nose, bounces off her cheek to the ground.
“Fuck!” says the man, and runs, slamming the door as he leaves.
Ann grabs another couple baseball and runs, ignoring the shackles. They snap like dry rotted rubber bands.
Now, to get him, fast. She sees that the steel door has a green light next to it, secured. Can she break it now? She’s obviously far stronger than he imagined. She kicks the door dead center, just as she remembers that she heard once that one ought to kick near the lock itself. It turns out not to matter. The door holds, even with a big dent in the center, but her kick is hard enough to break the doorframe loose, shattering the concrete block that it’s set into with enough force to crack the wall on the other side of the hall.
How strong is she, now? Kicking the door open, breaking a wall without real effort. She walks into the hall.
She feels a blow to her head. It doesn’t hurt, or even make her move, but she hears the crack of a baseball bat, and feels the impact, though it doesn’t hurt or even feel unpleasant. She turns around to see the man. He has a pained look on his face, like he was gripping the bat too tightly when he hit something too solid.
“You should wear batting gloves,” says Ann with a smile. He drops the bat and runs down the hallway. She doesn’t follow, but throws the first baseball, hard this time, right past him. It hits the wall with an impact like a tank shell, leaving a crater in the wall and sending bits of concrete and dust flying. The man drops to the ground, hands over his face.
“I don’t have to miss,” says Ann. “I still have another ball.”
“I can’t see!” says the man. “I can’t see.”
Ann walks over to him. “Let me have a look,” she says, feeling a little bad now since the man couldn’t really hurt her, whatever it was he wanted to do. His face is covered in blood, from the concrete that exploded from her pitch. “Uh… that doesn’t look good. I’ll have to get help. Where did you leave Melanie? I’ll free her, and get dressed, and then we’ll get someone.”
“How could you do this?” asks the man. “My eyes!”
“I didn’t know that would happen,” says Ann. “But you started it. We never told you to roofie us and give us Kryptonian steroids or whatever. And you shot me! You couldn't have known I was bulletproof at the time. That wasn't very nice. .”
“I just wanted to improve pitching,” says the man. "By any means necessary."
“Right,” says Mel. “That’s why you stripped me before pitching practice… Well, you succeeded on that, in any case. I’m the first person to pitch through a concrete wall!”
“Not only that-this is a missile silo,” says the man. “That wall should have survived the apocalypse! It’s impossible, I couldn’t imagine you could do that. How could you be so irresponsible?”
“You know, I’m getting sick of you,” says Ann. “Damn pig.” She walks down the hall. Where was Melanie? A room on the other side of the hall, that she’s certain of, even if she couldn’t say which.
The doors are all the same solid steel on the other side. Not like that will stop her now. She ignores the door, simply walks into the cracked wall the door bounced off, starting to gain confidence in her strength now. And if she bounces off, well, the mad scientist can’t see anyway. The concrete shatters, and she feels, and hears, metal snap as the reinforcement bars break. She wouldn’t actually have tried this if she’d know they were there, but no matter-she’s apparently even stronger than she thought. Normally she’d feel vulnerable nude, but she feels giddy with power now, unstoppable. Melanie is not in this room, and she walks through the next wall, ignoring the contents of the room. Metal furniture is crushed between her body and the wall, then the wall crumbles. An electric line snaps and plays over her body as she walks through with a little tickle. She walks more briskly, smashing all that’s in her way with indifference. In this room, an oxygen cylinder explodes as she crushes it between her tummy and the wall. She barely feels it. So strong. She bursts through the next wall, and sees Melanie.
“What? What the hell.”
“Try your chains,” says Ann.
“You walked through the wall,” says Melanie, hesitantly, as she tries the chains. They break, and she pulls off the shackles.
“How?” asks Melanie.
“Mad scientist with super-steroids or something,” says Ann. “Let’s get out of here.”
“Which way?” asks Melanie. “And where are our clothes?”
“He said we were in a missile silo,” says Ann. “We’ll need to go up, but I didn’t see stairs or a ladder, yet.”
“Ann,” says Melanie. “You are floating.”
“Huh?” she says in surprise, noticing that her feet aren’t touching the floor. “Damn. Try to think about rising,” says Ann. “I must have bene thinking about going up, and I just… did.”
She concentrates for a second, and starts to rise. She holds her arms next to her in a pose that her dance training tells her will look graceful. She doesn’t bother to shield her head. She impacts the concrete with a crunch, and with a tremendous cracking sound, rises up through the rock without slowing. She feels the rock break against her body, the inexorable force crushing it. It’s fun to be a supergirl. With no one to see her, she accelerates a little, until she rises out of the ground and lands next to the hole she’s made through a few hundred feet of rock. A moment later, Melanie bursts out of the ground next to her.
“Now what?” asks Melanie. “Where are we, even?”
Ann walks to the car parked nearby. She raises a leg high and crushes the hood and engine into the ground, while effortlessly making it look like a ballet move. She peels the roof open with a smooth motion of her hands as she arches her back to look in while facing in the same direction as the car is-or was, before she demolished it, and pulls a GPS unit out from the bin between the seats. She stands back up, then kicks the remains of the car without looking back. It tumbles through the air a few hundred yards.
“We’re in… the middle of nowhere on the central coast. Must have been a bit of a drive to bring us out here from Oakland,” says Ann. “But now, it’ll be a short flight back.”
“You really think we can fly that fast?” asks Melanie. “I’m not sure I have the hang of it yet. And I’d really like some clothes.”
“We'd better get out the mad professor,” says Ann. “He’s afraid of me. You’d better do it." She brings him out.
“I think I’ve lost my eyes,” he says. “I may never enjoy baseball again.”
“You can listen on the radio,” says Melanie. “And Ann didn’t mean it. Besides, what you did-some people would even think it OK to kill you. You shouldn’t complain. Did you kill people with these experiments? You know what, don't answer that.
She picks up the professor and moves him to the top of the cliff before looking at his cellphone.
“You have cell reception here. Call 911, but whatever you do, don’t move. I’m leaving you near a cliff edge. Sit and wait for them.”
“And I’m really sorry about your eyes,” says Ann. “I really only wanted to scare you-I didn’t think a baseball could do that.”
Melanie looks down to the entrance they’ve made to the bunker, along with the real entrance a hundred yards farther away.
“We should destroy the bunker,” says Melanie. “If this joker’s formula really works, it’d be dangerous if someone… bad gets it.”
“Agreed.” She knots her brow in concentration.
“What are you trying to do?”
Ann ignores her, until a thin beam of light emerges from her eye, burning a thin trace across a boulder near the makeshift entrance, before becoming stronger and brighter. The boulder glows, slumps, and then flows across the ground, reduced to liquid.
“Come on, help me out,” says Ann. “Let’s melt the place.”
Melanie tries it out, looking at a spot on the rocky ground near the real entrance. Her power turns out to be greater than Ann’s at least in this, and the concrete and steel structure glows almost instantly; a second later, a pool of molten material replaces it. The two of them keep it up, until the entire area where they suspect the bunker to be is replaced with liquid. “I’ll check out if it’s melted far enough down,” says Melanie, getting in. “Feels nice. You should try. We need to relax a little.”
The two of them swim around the molten lake, making sure nothing man-made remains below, as they find they can hold their breath impressively long. Once they are finished, they sit near the edge, relaxing in the heat. “We need to figure out what we can do now,” Ann says. “Because when we go back, our new life begins.”
“What do you mean,” says Melanie. “We’re still the same people.”
“In a sense,” says Ann. “But at the same time… are you going to go back to waitressing after classes? Do you think I should head to work tomorrow, like I’m still desperate for rent money?”
“I suppose not,” says Melanie. “We can do anything now.”
“Whatever we want,” agrees Ann. “I’d like to travel around some, see the world, sightsee… what do you think?”
“And now… well, I don’t want to be cruel, but I hardly think a few free tickets and rooms is too much to ask. I’m sure we can help occasionally.”
“Not with crime-stopper bullshit though,” says Ann. “Maybe helping with natural disasters, that sort of thing. If it seems fun.”
“Well, sounds good, I guess.” She plays her eyes over the pool for a moment to warm it back to a white heat.
“Thanks,” says Ann. “It’s better like that, really hot.” She looks at the cliff face, making sure to pick a spot away from their former captor, and focuses her vision on a spot. “Maybe I can get better with practice.” Part of the cliff melts under her gaze, the lava running down to the pool, a duller red color than the white-hot pool. “I’m still not as good as you are with this,”
Melanie giggles, and demonstrates-a bigger portion of the cliff melts nearly immediately for her. It glows a bright white. The pool overflows once it reaches them, the lava setting some underbrush on fire.
“Damn-we should put that out,” says Melanie.
“Right,” says Ann. She stands up and rises out of the pool to hang in the air, then breathes out. Frost fills the air as cold condenses out moisture, and the fire on the burning trees dies out in the intense cold. How can she still have breath left? She breathes out harder, and the trees rock like a hurricane, though she still feels no different than when she started. She blows even harder, and most of the forest falls over like matchsticks, far up the mountain. Still not short of breath, she stops.
“We might have unlimited breath,” says Ann.
“Cool,” says Melanie. “Literally. But you blew over a few miles of forest there, that’s sort of not-environmentally-friendly.”
“I was just trying it out. I didn’t know that would happen,” says Ann. “Let’s head back to our apartment.”
Ann tries to push herself flying, and finds she can control herself very precisely, no different than any other motion she might make, even if she’s just learned to do it today. She gets Melanie’s attention, points up, and then accelerates straight up, leaving a trail of plasma in her wake. Melanie follows just behind her, and in just a second, the sky turns black and she sees stars. She looks down and sees the curve of the earth below. She looks at Melanie sees her smiling wide, and she flies away at speed, Ann pursuing this time. She glances down, trying to estimate their speed. A couple seconds, only, to get to space, and now they are travelling so fast that rather than having to keep herself in the air, she is using her power to keep from flying off into space. It’s only been a few seconds certainly no more than it used to take her to run a hundred yards, but she sees the great lakes now, as she looks straight down. She looks forward again, sees Melanie ahead, the distance ever so slowly shrinking as the race continues, though Melanie is still safely in the lead when she comes to a stop over San Francisco Bay again, less than three minutes later, grinning broadly. Ann looks down at Oakland, and finds that she can still see their building, her vision sharpening it up as though she were just across the street, cars parked in front. She descends, just letting gravity take her without pushing herself-their speed rising was enough to cause a trail of plasma in their wake, and she can’t imagine that sort of thing would pass unnoticed in the neighborhood. If it even left the neighborhood standing!
She brings herself to a stop in the air well of the building, steering herself to the painted-over window of the storeroom in their apartment. She pushes through it, then rolls over in the air to get back to her feet. “That was awesome,” says Ann.
“Amazing,” agrees Melanie. “Did we really just fly into space? Orbit the earth?”
Ann smiles wide and nods. “It’s going to be so much fun. Let’s call our press conference.”
“Are you sure, Ann? I won’t know what to say. How do you want to do this, anyway?”
“Dress how you want to be remembered-no one is going to forget this moment,” says Ann. “I’ll do most of the talking, if you want-let me explain what we’ll do,”
She goes over the plan as she gets dressed. She decides to wear a pair of black tights, black and white Chucks, a bikini top, and a short leather jacket. Black sets off her pale skin nicely. Melanie starts to put on a bra, then stops and just puts on a lacey black top.
“My boobs don’t really need any support now,” she observes. “They just sort of defy gravity. Just like me.” She puts on a blue-green skirt that complements her eyes, a pair of teal Chuck Taylors to finish her look. “Let’s do it!” she says, as she heads for the door, then changes her mind to go back to the storeroom. Her feet leave the floor and she rises into the sky, with Ann close behind.
“Not too fast,” says Ann. “Our clothes won’t handle too much abuse, remember.”
“I’ll be careful,” says Melanie, and she keeps it to a more leisurely pace, only about three miles a minute, a crawl for girls who can take themselves into orbit in just a little more than a second. Even so, they arrive at the location quickly. The Gold Cross Hospital complex, it’s conveniently located across the street from the ABC affiliate, which means they are sure to be on video. And the complex has been abandoned for several years, while it’s possible landmark status is litigated. Time to unclog the courts!
“Good afternoon,” says Ann. She can really project her voice now, a side effect of super-lungs. The entire street looks up at her, and Melanie, floating at the second-story level. Is it really only mid-afternoon? Such an eventful day! But now, the show’s on.
“I’m Ann, and this is Melanie. Yesterday, we were just college girls. But today, we are supergirls. I think I see the cameras ready? Give me a thumbs-up, over on the truck, if you are ready?” She sees the cameraman’s signal and continues.
“Anyway, we are going to give you a little demonstration, and then we’ll take questions. Melanie?”
“You’ve already seen that we can fly. Now, I’m going to demonstrate our strength.” She drops to the ground, then walks to the front of the main wing of the hospital. She walks right into the wall of the art-deco structure, then continues along it, the façade collapsing behind her, until she runs into a steel girder. Her boobs leave an impressive dent on the girder. She bends down, takes hold of the bottom of the girder, and lifts. Bits of concrete and debris fall from most of the wing as part of the floor is suddenly lifted.
“Not even hard,” says Melanie, shifting to support it with just her left hand. She takes off, rising into the air until supports snap and parts of the structure collapse, and she is floating in the air. She bends the girder she has left in her hand into her name, and tosses it to the ground, then repeats the process a couple more times, until the wing is a pile of rubble, two minutes later.
“I’m just as powerful,” says Ann. She rises into the air, to the rooftop, and then lands on the roof, using her flight to push down on the steel skeleton until it buckles. Her first effort only knocks down part of the building, even though she pushes the girders into the ground, bending them beyond recognition and powdering the cement where she lands. Her second try, however, collapses the remaining part of the building like a house of cards. Only the doorway is standing, briefly, before Ann yanks the steel beams out of it to bend them into her name. She looks back at the crowd, still filming.
“We have powers that are beyond anything you can comprehend.” She nods at Melanie.
“I’m going to destroy the old main building now,” says Melanie. “And I’m not even going to touch it.” Her eyes glow white, and the spectators feel a wave of heat as they see the building glow. In a second, the stone is shining white, and then the building slumps and collapses. Melanie smirks and keeps it up a few seconds more, until only a molten pond is left where the building stood.
“Want to swim?” she asks. “Temperature’s nice.” “Maybe later,” says Ann. “I don’t want to go skinny-dipping until after this presser.” She turns back to the crowd, and continues, louder. “One building left. Be a pity not to finish the job, wouldn’t it?” She blows at it, hard, and the ten-story brick building just explodes to pieces as a wind more powerful than any ever seen on earth hits it-not so much a wind, as a shock wave normally seen in large explosions. Bricks fly out over the ocean for miles, while Ann uses less force and raises her head, blowing super-chilled air into the sky, until she sees snowflakes forming. She continues a few seconds more, then turns back to the crowd. They are shivering, and snow is falling. “Cool power, huh? It’s fun, too. Anyway, that’s who we are: me, Ann Baker, and Melanie Gruber, supergirls. We are planning on doing a lot of travelling and so maybe we’ll see you, audience members, wherever you are. If we do, we hope you’ll enjoy meeting us, too! We like nice people, and we try to treat people right, the same way they treat us. Right, Melanie?”
“Ah, of course,” says Melanie. “If you’re helpful with us, we’d certainly try to do the same. Perhaps I could shine up some coal for you. I found this in the hospital, probably from the boiler,” says Melanie, holding up a piece of coal. She closes her hands around it, and squeezes it with noticeable effort for a few seconds, then tosses something in the air. Her heat vision flashes, and she catches it and holds it up. A perfect diamond, roughly the size of a tennis ball. She tosses it into the crowd. “I don’t need it, can make more whenever I want.”
“So, we look forward to meeting you! We love meeting nice people, seeing interesting place, learning new things!” says Melanie.
“We really hope you’ll enjoy it as much as we will,” says Ann, looking back at the ruin. “Because we’re going to have a great time. Any questions?”