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The LaPorte Caves – Revised – Prologue and Chapters 01-04

Written by circes_cup :: [Friday, 08 November 2019 16:07] Last updated by :: [Friday, 08 November 2019 16:45]

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THE LAPORTE CAVES - REVISED

PROLOGUE

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DISCLAIMER

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.

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Julia struggled up with incline, her strength totally inadequate for the task at hand.

“To make it thrive you have to cut it down to nothing,” she huffed to herself. Those were the words her boyfriend had used when they first met. He was referring to roses at the time.

Maybe roses thrive on humiliation, she thought. Good for them.

Julia paused to wipe the stinging sweat from her brow, gazing up the hillside as her overtaxed chest heaved. There was that damned woman again, pounding the rock face like some sort of spandex-clad squirrel.

Just put her out of your mind, Julia told herself. He's not even going to notice her.

But he did. His head tilted backward and as he watched the woman make her way up the rock face, periodically adjusting her ropes as she ascended. She moved quickly. "She's got good form," he remarked.

"You mean, a good ass," Julia clarified. The woman up there had a trim waist and long legs. She was in good shape. Even worse, she was cute. She exuded spunky confidence – the kind of girl that did not balk at a full day of exertion in the wilderness. And exactly Howard's type. It was for that reason, above all others, Julia hated her.

"No, I mean a good climbing form. You should try to imitate her."

"You can't imitate genetics, Howard. If they could bottle whatever she had, I'd buy a whole case."

"You can always improve, right?"

Julia scowled.

"I mean, your climbing. You can always improve your climbing."

But she wasn't listening anymore. Instead, Julia was already on her way up the mountain. She tried to match the pace of the woman that had gone before her, but it was hard. The object of Howard's attention was built for this-- long limbs, good athleticism, endurance, no extra weight.

Julia, on the other hand, was built for knitting. After only a dozen feet, her limbs felt like rubber. Sweat beaded her forehead. Luckily, they were going only as far as the cave entrance, an intermediate point that was another twenty feet up. Even better, that sporty little chick ahead of them passed the cave entrance entirely; she was going further up the mountain. That meant she would not have to witness Howard making sickening small talk with her inside the cave.

Be calm, Julia told herself. It's not his fault that she's cute. You're lucky to have him. You need to be happy around him so that he likes you more.

By the time they reached the entrance to the cave, thirty feet above the forest floor, Julia was panting.

"You're doing better," Howard observed.

Julia only panted in reply.

"You'll improve," he offered.

Howard said that a lot, and it made her sad. She might improve a little, but she would always lag behind, always be slowing him down. Howard loved athletics and the outdoors more than anything. And whenever she was with him, she was a burden.

Julia coiled up her climbing ropes and slid them over her shoulder like a bandolier. She extracted a fleece layer from her bag, followed by a headlamp. For most people, adventure in this area was limited to a scramble up the side of the mountain, lunch at the top, and a rappel back down. But for Howard, that wasn't enough. Howard had heard that there were caves inside the mountain, many of which had barely been explored. And that was like catnip to a cat. They would be going straight into the middle of this rock. Julia wondered whether she would be claustrophobic.

They turned on their headlamps and poured the beams into the darkness. The passage leading into the mountain was partially blocked by rubble – rocks ranging in size from grapefruits to basketballs.

"I think I can fit through if I go sideways." Howard threaded a leg into the narrow opening.

"I can't," she admitted. Her face reddened.

"Oh, sorry" Howard extracted his leg. "Here, let me clear some rocks out of the way."

Howard worked quickly. Julia helped with the smaller rocks. The opening widened.

After a time, the only remaining rock was the largest of them, slightly larger than a basketball. Howard crouched for a better angle.

Julia leaned against the cave wall to observe. His muscles were not large, but they were lean, toned, efficient. She loved watching his body do athletic things. In fact, she loved watching his body do any kind of thing. She felt her desire for him swell as the coiled springs of his limbs slowly expanded, displacing the rock with a rumbling sound.

"How's that?" he asked, stepping aside.

Julia pecked him on the cheek. "My hero!"

She wasn't exactly kidding. Julia loved the fact that he was strong – not bodybuilder strong, but rather, capable. No challenge ever daunted him. Athletic, smart, confident – the man had it all. And he used it all, to take care of her. She remarked once again at her sheer luck at meeting him.

Life hadn't always been this good. When they had met, Julia had been in the dumps. Her unimpressive performance as a fine art major in college had lead to an even less impressive career as a sculptor. After winding up under massive debt, she had decided to give up on sculpture entirely. She enrolled in correspondence courses for computer programming – coding, for short. With all these new apps coming out, she figured, who doesn't make a fortune coding? Well, the answer, apparently, was Julia. She found herself unable to follow rules, unable to think in a structured and linear manner. When she got bored, she got creative. The sculptor in her came out. And when she got creative, she got it wrong. The programs bombed. The apps bombed. And she got fired – six times.

Defeated, she moved back in with her mother, who was living with her good-for-nothing boyfriend at the time. Actually, he had been good for one thing: giving her a spare room in his house, replete with hold saggy couch for her to sleep on.

Layers of fat become rolls of it. Walking up the stairs was a drag. So was seeing old friends-- hearing about their boyfriends, their jobs, the kale juice diets, and pilates classes. So, she spent more and more time alone-- jobless, penniless, loveless. After her mom passed away, her mom’s ex-boyfriend didn't want her there and asked her to move out. But she had nowhere to go, and seeing as it was spring, she took to replanting the man’s garden as a way of currying favor with him.

Julia turned out to be a miserable gardener, to such a degree that a passing jogger stopped his exercise in mid-stride to point out everything she was doing wrong. That man turned out to be Howard.

With his wristwatch still beeping time out time intervals for an abandoned run, Howard got down on his knees in the moist dirt and showed her how to break the root balls apart so that the plants could breathe, how to space the plants sufficiently for future growth, and the depth at which each plant’s roots should be buried.

The gardening session lead to a first date, and then a second, and from there, everything started looking up. As luck had it, Howard was a programmer, too. And unlike her, he was pretty good at it. He was a co-owner of a fast-growing area technology company – the only one in town that hadn't fired her yet. He got her a job, and under a boss who seemed determined to coax out whatever talent she might have. As their romance bloomed, she moved into his house, and it was a big house. He lent her the money to buy a car – funds that he simply would have given her if she had let him. It was a nice car, too – a BMW that attracted the occasional jealous comment from her new co-workers.

In bed, he was gentle with her. He said sweet things, and told her she was special.

Nonetheless, the true measure of Howard's affection lay not between the sheets, but outside, under the open sky. He loved hiking and running and swimming and all manner of outdoor adventures. He insisted that she come along. It was, she realized over time, a sign of endearment. If he didn't like her, he wouldn't be sharing these activities with her.

Howard glanced into the darkness of the cave and took a swig of water. "I wonder why they call them the Laporte Caves," he asked.

"They're probably named after a nearby town," she concluded. "Aren't there are lots towns with French names in the Midwest?"

"I suppose. But there are no towns named Laporte in this part of the state. I grew up here. There's nothing with that name for a hundred miles."

"Who knows," Julia shrugged. "You're the one who took six years of French."

"We both took six years of French. It's just that you didn't retain it."

So true, Julia admitted. He was better at that, too. And, in fact, that was the problem: he was better at everything.

Howard scratched his adorable head. "Laporte. La porte. That would mean 'the door', or 'the gateway'. But, the gateway to what?"

Julia stared into the darkness ahead of her. She didn't like caves. And she didn't like tight spaces. Her friend had told her that she was a bad match for Howard, that she was too much of a homebody. But she couldn't let herself be scared. She couldn't let those other women have him.

"Let's go find out, together." Julia yanked her climbing harness tight, and stepped forward into the darkness.

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"Um, maybe we're here?" Julia asked, pointing at the map of the cave.

"And why do you think that?" Howard prodded back.

Julia adjusted her headlamp and looked around. Limestone walls blazed white in the light. She turned to look down the passage, hoping for a sign, a landmark. But the unforgiving blackness simply swallowed the beam. The other direction offered only more blackness.

"Looking around won't do you any good," Howard chided. "You need to work with the map and use your reason."

"But I don't know," Julia responded. She wrapped her arms around her chest to ward off the cold. "And I'm tired. And this cave is creeping me out." In the distance, they could hear water slowly falling into a pool. DRIP - DRIP - PLUNK.

"You can do this," Howard prodded.

"I can't," Julia crossed her arms and glowered. The gesture made her feel even less attractive than she normally felt.

"Julia…" Howard sounded exasperated.

He had a right to be exasperated, Julia knew. The cave exploration part of the trip had been her idea. She had read about it in a women's magazine somewhere. A good couples activity, the pages had suggested, presenting her with pictures of happy, fit couples exploring underground worlds of breathtaking beauty. But now, they were in a world of less-than-breathtaking beauty, and her arms and legs were killing her. And her head hurt like hell from the anxiety of trying to match the endless twists and turns of the caverns to the squiggles on the map.

"Try again," Howard encouraged. "Where do you think we are?"

Julia looked at the map once more. It was like staring at a honeycomb. "I think we're here," she pointed. "Because it's a four-way junction – after two three-way junctions." She explored his facial expression. "I'm wrong, aren't I?"

"Yes." He replied in resignation. He pointed at the opposite end of the map.

She knew he was right. Howard was great at abstract thinking.

The path ahead featured another near-vertical scramble, about 12 feet in height. Howard scampered up quickly and turned to wait for his mate. Julia put her arms on the rocks and heaved herself up, only to slide back down again. Her biceps felt like rubber. Come on, Julia, her mind screamed! She strained her arms again and --- OOOFF – managed to scramble a few more feet, belly flopping onto the next ledge up like a harbor seal onto a rock.

Howard was still waiting for her at the top. "You seem annoyed."

"I'm just mad at myself for being so weak and stupid."

"You're not weak and stupid," he retorted.

"Compared to you I am. And it annoys you."

Julia had secretly hoped that Howard would refute her. But instead, Howard just turned, and kept walking.

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Pain. It coursed through Julia's body as though she been pounded by a hundred bricks. She couldn't remember exactly how she had lost her footing. All she could remember was tumbling down a steep slope in the darkness – falling over and over and over again.

And daylight. It bludgeoned her closed eyelids with its brightness. Julia forced her eyes open. Howard was lying on the ground next to her, struggling into a sitting position.

The were on a forest floor. Beside them, a rock slope rose out of the forest at a steep angle. There was an opening in the rock some 50 yards above them. That must have been the opening out of which they had tumbled. The slope was steep up there. Despite her lack of outdoor experience, she knew that a return to that opening would be impossible.

"Are you OK?" Julia asked.

"Mostly."

Julia wished could have said the same for herself. As she stood, she realized that her ankle was sprained. Her shoulder, too, had been battered. "What do we do now?"

Howard looked at his damaged equipment – broken headlamp, ruptured backpack, missing gear. "We can't go back through the cave, that's for sure-- not given the condition of our equipment. Let's walk out of the woods, follow the stream courses downhill. In this area, it shouldn't take more than an hour to find civilization. Then, we hitch a ride home."

Julia looked around. Something about the forest felt unfamiliar to Julia, as if it were an approximation of the forests she'd seen in the past, and yet slightly different as well. The pine trees, for example--- their needles were colored not a deep green, but a purplish green. Had she ever seen a tree colored in that way? "Howard, this place feels strange to me."

"I'm sure we'll be fine." Howard lead the way into the woods..

Julia had a bad feeling about this. With her ankle, the walking was painful. And the way was uncertain.

The walking went on for hours.

And hours.

And hours.

Everything indeed looks slightly different here, Julia noted. The hills slope a different direction. The sunlight is somehow more pale. What was ever stranger, almost everything in Kentucky was within a shirt walk of some sign of civilization – a road, a cabin, a farmer's field, a hunter's truck.

They walked for hours more.

And hours on top of that.

And they walked more still. The condition of Julia's ankle made the walking excruciating. The sun dipped low on the horizon. Night would be here soon.

They came across a still pond. A cluster of fruit trees surrounded it, dangling their boughs over the water.

"We need to eat," Howard observed.

Julia's stomach agreed. Her pack had been torn off her shoulders during the tumble out of the caves, lost somewhere within the mountain. It had contained all the food – for both of them. Since the accident, they had consumed nothing. Some splotches of yellow caught her eye, and she pointed. "That tree appears to have some fruit on it."

"I've never seen fruit like this before," Howard remarked, pulling a bulbous, yellow lump off a branch. "We have no idea whether it's safe."

"I'm getting too hungry to care."

Howard took a tentative nibble. He spat it out. "It tastes bitter."

Julia took an even smaller nibble. Then a bigger one. The flesh of the fruit was sweet, rich, inviting. She took a large bite. Her taste buds came alive. "Tastes OK – to me," Julia replied.

It was an understatement. When she swallowed, a contentment flooded her body. It satiated her immediate hunger. But it satisfied something deeper as well, something she couldn't name.

"I don't know about this, Julia. It could be toxic. Eat only what you need to keep going."

Even if Julia's ears heard him, her mind certainly did not. Julia polished off the first piece of fruit, and bit, ravenous, into a second one. Only minutes later, she was on her fourth. A sticky river of juice ran over her chin. Her limbs seemed to come alive with new life. Her sprained ankle and battered shoulder hurt less.

Howard, meanwhile, searched the forest for other things edible. He found none. Finally, he conceded defeat. "We should get some sleep. There will be more chances to find food, and I expect civilization, tomorrow."

The couple huddled into a cleft in the tree. He raised an arm, inviting her close. She burrowed into him. The woods were full of noises – unfamiliar ones, bird songs that seemed unfamiliar, and a strange whooping sound that she was certain she had never heard before.

"Are we going to be ok?" she asked.

"You bet."

She listened to the night noises. "What about bears and wolves and stuff?"

"I'll keep you safe," he promised.

And Julia knew that he would. She collapsed, contented, into the warmth of his chest. She was lucky – so lucky – to be with a man who was so capable, so strong. He could do everything better than her. Where would she be without him?

She slept soundly that night.

When morning came, she awoke refreshed and energetic. As Howard groaned and clenched his hungry stomach, Julia scrambled up a large boulder and gazed at the surrounding landscape.

"Not a sign of civilization anywhere," she observed. "Isn't that strange?"

This time, Howard didn't answer. And somehow, the lack of an answer disturbed Julia all the more.

"We'd better load up on what provisions we can," he said as she scrambled back down the boulder.

For Julia, more provisions meant gorging herself on another seven pieces of fruit, and stuffing a half dozen more into her fanny pack and her pockets. "We might be lost, Howard, but I have to say, I feel great! I feel like I could walk for hours."

And walk they did. With every passing mile, Howard seemed to stumble a little bit more, walk a little bit slower. He needed sustenance, they both realized. Julia suggested he try the fruit again. He forced one down with a pained grimace on his face. But it clearly did him little good. In fact, it seemed to be making matters worse for him: within an hour, his forehead felt feverish to the touch, and he had an oddly vacant look in his eyes. He vomited the fruit back up.

Julia, meanwhile, began to suffer from a different condition. As she walked, she developed an odd sense of vertigo, as if she wasn't really in her own body.

"The fruit may be toxic," Howard cautioned. "Its effects on you seem to be different than its effects on me, but in both cases, toxic. Don't eat any more."

"You're right, I shouldn't," she replied, plucking yet another from a low-hanging limb. "But I can't stop. My head feels a little bit woozy, but the rest of me feels simply fantastic!"

They found themselves in a hanging valley: ridges on either side and a shear drop-off ahead. They decided to go over one of the ridges. As their path steepened, Howard huffed and puffed all the more. Julia found herself out ahead of him, forcing herself to pause periodically so that he could catch up. After scrambling up and over a boulder, the expected sound of Howard's footfalls did not follow. She backtracked, and found him at the base of the boulder, leaning against it, winded.

"I need a break," Howard admitted.

"No you don't, silly. You're always the one with all the endurance." She offered a hand down to him. "Come on."

He grabbed her hand and she pulled. Her arm, which had always been fat and bones, swelled slightly. She tugged, and produced more of an effect than she had expected: Howard had to scramble to keep his feet under him as she dragged him up the slope.

"You've got a good arm," Howard observed.

A smile spread across Julia's face. She was getting more athletic. That felt good. And Howard seemed to like it. That felt even better.

Around midday, they had to pause as another bout of vertigo hit her. Something about the fruit was affecting her system, and not in a good way. She bent over, hands on kneecaps, and counted to twenty. The sensation slowly passed.

When she opened her eyes, she shouted. "Footprints, Howard!"

It was the first sign of civilization since the cave. They were human in shape, following the stream down, as Howard and Julia were doing. There were two sets of prints, one smaller and shallower, one slightly larger and deeper. Julia pointed at the deeper ones. "Whoever made those prints must have been freakishly heavy," she said.

The prints disappeared once they crossed harder ground. Julia and Howard kept walking. She could hear Howard's stomach grumble periodically. He would need food soon, or he would start wasting away.

By the evening, they had made it over the ridge line and partway down the other side. The couple found a place for their second night in the wilderness, a waterfall surrounded by a grove of the fruit-bearing trees.

"I feel worse," Howard said.

"I feel better," Julia said. She stood and stretched her way through the dappled rays of dusk.

"You look better, too," Howard observed.

Julia examined herself. Was it true? Perhaps the exertion was causing her to shed a few pounds. Either way, the important part was that Howard liked what he saw.

"Why don't you try washing up?" she asked. "That always makes you feel better. It might take your mind off the hunger."

Howard approached the pool at the bottom of the waterfall and stripped out of his clothes. His skin was a patchwork of bruises from the fall.

He dipped a toe in. "It's pretty cold," he announced. Rather than climb in, he crouched at the side of the pool and bathed, using a handful of moss as a sponge.

Julia joined him later, dipping a toe in as well. The water felt nice. "Thought you said it was cold?" she asked. She was glad to slip out of her dirty garments, and even more glad to get her bra off. It had been killing her for some reason. Julia soon found herself up to her thighs in the pool, the water cascading down on her.

Her skin came alive under the waterfall's caress. Julia had never remembered a simple shower feeling so good. The woman ran her hands appreciatively over her body.

Julia could no longer deny that something was different with her. Arms that had been unable to throw a baseball thirty feet now had a little bit of muscle tone. A midsection that had always been thick with flab was now less rounded. Her thighs and butt, which had always felt huge in her hands, now seemed more compact, firmer. Her skin, too – where were the bruises she had sustained only a day before?

And, finally, her boobs – hadn't they always been an A-cup? Looking down at her chest now, she could see that the falling sheet of water was being warped by protrusions that were somewhat larger – perhaps the size of her fist, perhaps a B-cup.

The water beat against her breasts vigorously. That should be painful, Julia thought. But her body disagreed, a pleasant warmth through it.

When she emerged out from the waterfall, she saw that Howard was clutching his stomach in discomfort. She felt badly for him, but then became distracted by the adorable dimples of his chin, the playful curls of his hair over his eyes. He looked good to her, sexy. Her nipples hardened, pointing themselves toward their quarry.

She sloshed her way across the water, the sound causing him to look up from his misery. His eyes locked on her body. His lips parted slightly, as if he needed more air. The mere sight of her had never caused this reaction in him before. Her spirits soared.

The water on her bare skin cooled in the breeze and made her skin tingle pleasantly. Her nipples stiffened further, basking in the coolness of the evening air, in the warmth of his gaze, aching for his touch.

He stood. They were only inches apart. His lips, so, kissable, were just above her nose – lower than they ever had been – and not because Howard had gotten any shorter.

"You're taller now," he whispered.

Above, the leaves of the trees rustled their approval.

Julia took his hands and smoothed them over her butt and thighs. She felt him squeeze her newly toned derriere.

"And firmer," he added.

Julia nodded. "And hornier, too."

She wrapped her arms around his neck and pressed herself into him. Her small breasts flattened against the muscles of his chest, thrilling at the pressure, the embrace. "We should find food for you, soon. You're starting to waste away."

"All I want right now is you."

Julia felt the space between her legs dripping with desire. He wants me. He wants to keep me. Her mind thrilled at the realization.

She was soon pulling his clothes off, and crawling over the sinuous firmness of his body. His manhood, fully erect, bumped insistently against her. Her mind thrilled at the thought. He should be thinking about finding food. Instead, all he wants is me.

Another bout of lightheadedness came over Julia, but she shook it off. She lowered herself onto his straining shaft with total ease, surprised at how slick she had become. As his needful stiffness filled her, she felt the need to scream with happiness. And scream she did: they were so deep in the wilderness, her voice could be heard only by the trees, she thought.

The love-making lasted several hours that night – longer than they had ever gone together.

When it was over and Julia bedded down for the night, her body felt better than it ever had. She gripped the layer of fat that covered her thighs: she was still flabbier than she wanted to be, but she was definitely improving.

Her body wanted to sleep, but at the same time, her vertigo was coming more intensely than ever.

"Are you going to be OK?" Howard asked. "Your cheeks have good color, but your eyes are rolling back into your head.

"I don't know," Julia replied. "This vertigo is pretty intense. And you… you're looking thinner than you did yesterday."

Howard didn't answer. That's not good, Julia realized.

As she closed her eyes, she listened to the strange whooping calls of the unknown animals echo off the hills and cliffs. My screams during our little tryst must have filled the valley, she realized. Good thing there was no one out here to hear them.

But she was wrong. As her screams of pleasure had echoed off the hills, new footprints in the wilderness were being made, toward them.

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As tired as his body was, Howard could sleep only in fits and starts. His stomach was too empty, his anxiety about their situation to great. He tossed uneasily on the chill ground and counted time by the steady, contented sighs of his girlfriend. He listened, too, to the rustle of leaves in the wind, the patter of animal feet in the forest. And he could only hope, in the solitary darkness, that none of the animals he heard were big enough to cause them harm. Fear lingered in the evening air. In the still of the night-time woods, when both moons were overhead and nearly full, sleep overtook him briefly.

But a short while later, he awoke to a sound.

Footsteps.

Howard listened. The footsteps were slow but growing gradually louder, echoing off the walls of the ravine.

Howard tried to calm himself. The moon-filled evening blotted out most of the stars. He counted only sixteen remaining. The footsteps grew louder still, the crunch of his footfalls disturbing the silence of the midnight wild.

Finally, Howard stood and turned to see.

There was a cloaked form, in the ravine with them, illuminated by the light of the moons. It was slowly advancing.

He glanced at Julia’s sleeping form. She had not woken.

"I come for you alone," the man's voice rasped. "She will not hear my voice." He wore animal skins and tattered cloth. Twigs and weeds were matted into his hair. Julia indeed continued to snore softly.

"Who are you?”

With a shaking arm, the man removed a necklace and placed it on Howard’s neck. It was a simple cord, with a silver, spherical bead strung through it.

The cloaked figure held the silver sphere between his calloused thumb and forefinger. "A gall from the fruit of the Diana. Born from a grain of sand that got caught in the budding fruit. Like a pearl in an oyster. It is said that the gall is an irritant to the tree. And yet, in imprisoning the gall, the tree also makes it greater.”

Howard waited, uncomfortable with the man’s touch, but uncertain what else could be done.

The strange man closed his eyes. "The gall forms in the shape of an eye. It sees through time, into your past and your future.”

Howard steadied his breath.

"You seek to leave the land of the sixteen branches. But you have not the will.”

“We want to find our way back home. Can you help us?”

“You, Howard of Earth, will die here.” The man motioned his wobbly arm about, the sleeping Julia and her forest surroundings within its sweep. "Because of her."

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Dawn had arrived. Julia could tell from the brightness that taunted her closed eyelids. She drifted in and out of consciousness.

Eventually, Julia heard male voices. "She's stunted," remarked one, with concern. "He's bruised and battered," said the other.

I'm not stunted, Julia wanted to object. But when she tried to speak, nothing came out. She could barely move her eyelids, let alone her jaw. The vertigo had strengthened into a deep stupor.

"She seems to be in some sort of coma," the second voice said.

"We'll need to get them out," the first replied. "But it’s miles to the trailhead. And we cannot carry the, even a few feet.”

"OK," the second male voice said. "I'll go get my little sister."


CHAPTER 1

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SYNOPSIS UP TO THIS POINT

Julia and Howard took a wrong turn in a Kentucky cave and tumbled out into an unknown wilderness. Food is scarce. Julia finds some fruit she can eat, but Howard simply wretches the fruit back up. Deteriorating and delirious, they need help. And eventually, they are rescued, but by whom?

DISCLAIMER

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.

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Julia awoke to the feel of a bed beneath her. She forced open her eyes and looked around the room. The fluorescent lights of a hospital ceiling glared back at her.

Relief flooded her nerves: they were saved. She found herself weeping a bit. The anxiety of the last few days came crashing down upon her. First there was the catastrophic stumble in the caves, during which she and her boyfriend careened clear down a steep rocky slope. Then there was waking up, stranded, in a strange wilderness. Then the hours and hours of walking to find civilization, with nothing to show for it but worsening physical condition for Howard. Then the growing sense of vertigo in Julia's head due to all the strange fruit she was eating. And through it all, there was that strange sense that the wilderness seemed just a little bit off – colors and sounds and sights that were somehow familiar, but somehow alien as well.

Ha, Julia laughed to herself, looking back on it! She had almost convinced herself that they had landed in a parallel dimension or something. That is what your mind will do to you in the wilderness, I suppose, she chuckled to herself. But the hospital room in which she now rested couldn’t have been more normal. She was out of the woods-- literally.

Howard was not in the room. Instead, a hospital employee stood next to her, in scrubs.

Julia tried to sit up, but the grogginess prevailed. "Doctor, where's my boyfriend? Is he OK?"

"He'll be fine," the man replied. "And I'm not the doctor. I'll get her for you now." He leaned his head out of an opening and announced that the patient had come to.

The curtain was momentarily darkened by a large shadow before it separated to reveal the most enormous woman Julia had ever seen. From her reclining position, Julia found that she had to crane her neck backward in order to meet the woman's eyes. She was perhaps seven-and-a-half feet tall, and proportionately as broad. She wore a full-length white lab coat. Given her size, the coat made her look like a refrigerator, with arms and a head attached. Julia felt sorry for the woman. What female would want to be built so large?

"How are you feeling?" The doctor asked. She cradled a clipboard and jotted a few notes.

"Fine, I guess. I don't remember much after passing out next to my boyfriend."

"You overdosed on fruit from the Diana tree," the doctor explained. "Or more specifically, the skin of the fruit. They contain hallucinogenic toxins that overwhelm your nervous system and force it into a coma. You were out for a week."

"How's my boyfriend? Is he ok?"

"Yes, I'm in charge of his care, too. He's been admitted into the Men's Wing. He was near starvation when they found you. He had tried desperately to wake you from your stupor before you were rescued. You would have been close to starvation as well, if it had not been for the fruit."

The mention of the fruit sent a pleasant shiver through Julia. "What was that stuff, anyway? When I was surviving off of that fruit, I felt… fantastic. I had more energy, was dropping weight. And it’s a bit strange to say, but I felt whole and content."

The doctor laughed. "Of course you did. That's why it's sold in concentrate. It's the principal ingredient in Nourishment."

"That's the name of a drink?"

The doctor studied her for a moment. "You came from the caves, didn't you?"

Julia nodded. "We fell and tumbled out."

"Strange things happen in those caves." The doctor turned and opened a cabinet. "Sometimes, people go into them and never return. Other times, people arrive, from… other places.”

From the cabinet, the doctor extracted a white can and popped the lid. The familiar aroma of the fruit filled the room – much more intense than she had experienced in the forest.

The aroma sent another pleasant shiver through Julia. "So, would drinking the concentrate allows me to feel the way I did in the forest – more energy, more vitality?"

"That, and a lot more. To make the concentrate, the toxic skins are filtered out. Then fruit juice gets boiled away to produce a syrup-like liquid. It contains the equivalent of about 20 pieces of Diana fruit per one-cup serving."

"That must be pretty potent."

The doctor let out a light chuckle. "Without Nourishment, I'd be weak and frail as a man."

"I never thought of men as weak," Julia mumbled.

"Have you ever lifted weights before? What's the most that you can bench press? 200 pounds? 300 pounds?"

"It's been a while," Julia replied. "Maybe 75?"

The doctor laughed. But the hurt must have shown on Julia's face, because the woman's tone instantly softened. "Nourishment will make you look something like this." The woman held the panels of her coat apart for Julia's inspection.

Underneath the coat, the woman was wearing only cotton lace panties and a camisole that stopped just below the bust. But if the skimpiness of her attire was a surprise, that was nothing compared to the rest of the view. The woman's body was unreal. As the doctor had suggested, not a scrap of flab was to be found. In its place was a stack of hard-edged, voluminous muscle. Calves as wide as grapefruits lead up to thighs resembling stone columns. Her abdominals were the size of apples, and Julia couldn't even think of a piece of fruit to compare to the woman's mammoth, firm breasts.

"I usually keep the coat on to avoid distracting the nurses, but since it's just us ladies…" The doctor slid the jacket off her shoulders. Her biceps were so large that, even in their current resting position, Julia would just barely be able to get two hands around them. Her shoulders were generous layer cakes of muscle, topped by trapezius that sloped like the side of a mountain. Back home, if a college football player saw a body like this on the other side of the line of scrimmage, he could have been forgiven for pissing in his pants. And if it wasn't for the sympathetic expression on the woman's flawless, beautiful face, Julia too would have feared for her safety.

The sight was grotesque.

Something isn't right here, Julia thought. Julia began to wonder exactly what sort of hospital she had landed in. With cans of this "Nourishment" around, it seemed more like a lab for a dietary supplement company than a true hospital.

"Nourishment is about more than just size," the doctor continued, oblivious to her patient's concern. She draped her coat over the chair and resumed her professional duties without seeming to care about her state of undress. "Without Nourishment, you'll be susceptible to diseases carried by germs and viruses. You will get tired when you haven't had enough sleep. Your skin will wrinkle with age."

All of that is normal, Julia thought. What’s not normal is the monster standing in front of me.

The doctor held up a can, the scent of the fruit wafting out. "Sure you don't want to try some?"

When the scent hit her nose, every cell in her body screamed YES.

But her rational mind fought back her body, and Julia shook her head vigorously. "No, I want normal medical care, as I could get in any other normal hospital, not some sort of freakish supplement. And I want to go home."

The doctor seemed hurt. "That may not be possible. I have a police officer that needs to speak with you."

The curtain separated again, and another enormous woman entered through it. If the Doctor had been concerned that a show of skin would distract the men, this woman seemed to share no such compunction: a short-sleeved lycra top clung tight to everything it covered and left the abdomen bare. Hip-hugging "boy short" bottoms, also some of lycra, seemed more suited for a trip to a beach than police work.

The body filling this undersized outfit was every bit as exaggerated of the doctor's: carved calves, expansive thighs, powerfully rounded abdominals, voluminous busts and generous, muscle-laden arms. Disgusting, Julia thought.

The officer was wearing a belt full of equipment, as police always seemed to do. And upon further examination, Julia saw that her taut garments were colored imperial blue and black – police colors – with a silver badge pinned to her top. Julia began to wonder if she had indeed been taken in by a cult.

The officer eyed her with concern. "Who did this to you?" she asked.

Julia glanced at her skin. The bruises were back. She had slept for a week, the doctor had said, which meant she hadn't eaten the fruit for a week, too. "Nobody did it to me. I fell in the caves."

"I'm not talking about the bumps and the bruises. I'm talking about this," the officer waved her hand dismissively at the length of Julia's body. "How you became so stunted and fat?"

“I’m not stunted! And it’s rude to call anybody fat!”

"She says she's never heard of Nourishment," the Doctor offered.

The officer didn't believe it. "Where did they keep you your whole life, a dungeon?"

"No, St. Louis.”

The officer was taking notes now. "You said 'Louise'?"

"No, Louis. It's a man's name." Julia felt a growing sense of unease.

"A city named after a man?" The officer seemed baffled. "And you said that was where?"

"Missouri" Something really, really wasn't right here.

"And what country is that in?" the officer asked kindly.

Julia assessed the officer's arms, packed with more muscle than most bodybuilders dared dream about. The rest of the officer's body, Julia knew, had similar proportions, as did the other woman visiting her. It didn't make sense. As she looked into the sympathetic eyes of the officer, a renewed terror began to gnaw at her gut. She finally responded, "Missouri – it's in the United States of America."

"United States? Is that one country or multiple countries? I've never heard of it."

Julia screamed.

“Please calm down. It’s going to be ok.” The cop’s bedside manner was lacking, and she was clearly uncomfortable with the whole situation. That only reinforced Julia’s own sense of panic.

Meanwhile, the doctor grabbed an empty glass, turned toward the cabinet, and then turned back to Julia, the glass now full of milk.

“This will calm you down,” the doctor promised, as she readjusted the strap of her camisole and smoothed it out.

That was when Julia stopped screaming. Julia took the glass. The milk was warm and delicious. She felt her self control returning.

"We may need to keep her in custody for a while,” the cop said as she showed led the doctor out of the room. “She seems to be in a state of crisis.”

Julia watched them leave, counted to one hundred, swung her feet out off the bed, and started running.

-----------

She ran. Julia ran right past the confused male staff, down the serpentine hospital corridors, through the first door she found, and out into the open air.

The city streets were full of people: men only the size of her boyfriend, but women as big as the doctor. Huge, frightening piles of muscle, the women turned toward Julia with quizzical expressions on their faces, as if they were viewing a circus sideshow oddity. The men were equally confused. but handled it differently. They looked up to the women and drew closer to them, as if seeking protection or guidance.

The attention made Julia want to scream all over again. I have to find Howard, she exhorted herself. He will know what to do. She bolted down the block, looking for the entrance to the Male Wing.

But the street signs were in a foreign language. More confused stares turned her direction. Two hulking women pointed at her and began speaking in elevated voices. She had to get out of here.

Julia ran again, harder. She didn't know where she was going. She didn't even keep track.

Another block went by, and another. There was shouting behind her. She looked. It was the cop, three hundred yards away, asking bystanders where Julia had gone.

Julia bolted down an alleyway. The sound of her panting filled the space. After only fifteen or twenty paces, she saw a darkening of the alley behind her. The cop had run three hundred yards in only a few seconds!

Julia came across a tiny, intersecting alley and darted down it. The alley was too narrow for the cop. Maybe it would buy her a few seconds. I have to do something, she urged herself. I have to get away!

Her whole body ached from the exertion. A week without fruit had diminished her: she was just as overweight and easily winded as always. Julia burst out of the narrow alleyway onto the open street again. Without breaking her stride, she turned to see whether her pursuers had emerged. They hadn't. She ran.

Then, WHAM. Julia collided with something hard, like a rock wall. Her entire body contorted with agony as flesh and bone crushed themselves against the unyielding mass. She collapsed to the ground.

Panting, she opened her eyes. High heels – those were the only things in her field of view. A woman, Julia realized. I slammed into a woman. Only, she had felt like a rock.

Julia felt herself being hoisted by her armpits. The woman had the usual enormous build.

Fear gripped Julia. She kicked her feet for purchase, but found them suspended in mid-air. The woman was holding her up for examination, arms fully extended. The muscles of the woman's arms were large as loaves of bread. What's more, they were fully relaxed. That sent a new wave of fear over Julia. Even a strong person would need to show some exertion at holding a 160-pound object at arm's length, wouldn't they? Were these women human beings, or monsters?

"Are you OK?" the woman asked, gently.

Julia looked at the woman’s face for the first time. It was striking: high cheekbones, dirty blond hair, well-tanned skin. She had the youth and vitality of a woman in her twenties, and yet the presence of a woman far more mature. Her eyes were sage in both senses: green, and wise.

"Pl… please. I need help. I'm not from here. I'm from Earth."

The woman looked confused. "Where's that?"

"At home," Julia sobbed. "And that's all I want – to go home, to find my boyfriend and go home."

"You poor thing. You look terrified."

"I'm so scared. The police want to arrest me."

"Not arrest," a voice behind her said. It was the cop, who apparently had caught up. "We need her on a custodial detainer until her situation is… resolved. She’s not safe on her own out here."

Julia felt her legs swing below her as the woman turned to face the cop. The woman continued to hold Julia aloft without a scrap of effort, it appeared.

The pause in the conversation gave Julia a chance to assess the woman who held her. She wore an ivory linen top with suit-like lapels and buttons down the middle, as well as matching ivory linen pants. The outfit would have been appropriate for any office, had it not been for the hem of the top, which stopped just below the ribcage. It left the entirety of her midriff on display. The expanse of skin in the middle was a hilly terrain of baseball-sized abdominal muscles.

The contrast to Julia's own body couldn't have been greater. Having been off the fruit during the week of her slumber, her body's shape and condition had deteriorated to their previous rotund state. She was terribly winded from the short run. Her feet and legs and other parts besides all ached with exhaustion.

The woman appeared to consider the police officer's statement. "I can take her in. And her ‘boyfriend’, too."

-----------

From there, things took a slight turn for the better. The woman, whose name turned out to be Ruth, accompanied Julia and the police officer back to the hospital. Julia learned she would be discharged the proper way this time – not by running down the corridor screaming, but by filling out paperwork.

Once back in the examination room, Julia signed a form in a foreign language, described to her as a "Consent for Release Into Care of Adult Woman."

As she did so, Julia found herself eyeing the white can of Nourishment sitting on the countertop. The inviting aroma of the yellow fruit wrapped itself around her. Her body yearned for it.

“Would you like me to send you home with a starter case of Nourishment?” the doctor asked. “It’s an over-the-counter product, but we keep a few complimentary cases here.”

"Do all your patients take Nourishment?"

"All the women do," the doctor replied. "The men are not compatible with it." The doctor turned to jot some notes, still clothed only in panties and camisole. She seemed oblivious to the impropriety of it.

Julia looked over doctor's otherworldly backside-- glutes shaped like volleyballs, thighs as thick as telephone poles. All those muscles – they were so manly, so distasteful. To think a woman would look like that – it made her cringe.

"I would recommend about twenty-five gallons as an initial dose. That's the equivalent of about 8,000 pieces of the raw fruit."

"But I don't want to be that big. And those muscles – no, I would never want to look like that," Julia blurted.

The doctor turned. She had a look of surprise on her face.

"I'm sorry," Julia offered. "I just want to feel like I did in the woods-- a little thinner, a little more energetic. Maybe I'll sip just a little bit."

The doctor shook her head. "No one just sips it. The fruit is highly addictive. You've probably already felt the cravings."

Julia's every muscle, every bone, shuddered in agreement.

"Take a few sips now and you'll soon find yourself finishing the can. And then asking for another. And another after that. You won't stop until you're fully Nourished.”. The doctor waved a hand over the frightening expanse of her body. “That's the beauty of it: once you start, you develop natural cravings to ensure that your body completes the transformative process. Only then does your body release the antidote that stifles the cravings. You’ll continue to consume Nourishment after that point, but it will be a voluntary act."

Julia grimaced at the doctor’s massiveness. "So, it's all or nothing.”

The doctor nodded her head, thick cords of neck muscle writhing across her shoulders. The sight made Julia queasy. "It's your choice, but as a medical professional, I'd recommend you consider it. You’ll live longer, resist infections far better, have greater mental acuity and, of course, power your current body could never approach. Nourishment is regularly consumed by more than 99.999999 percent of the women here."

"Well, I'm not in any of those 9’s. I'm going to abstain. I just want to find a way home."

"Well, then I have some good news for you." The doctor parted the curtains. In walked the police officer and Ruth, the woman who volunteered to take her in.

The police officer spoke first. "Please don't ever, ever wander out into the streets un-Nourished and unsupervised. There are many laws protecting men from abduction and abuse, but no one has ever bothered to draft such laws for women. That was the reason we considered enforcing a custodial detainer on you. But since Ruth here is willing to take responsibility for you, my sergeant is ok letting you go. Just be sure to stay close to Ruth and any other women in her household, while you are here."

"Speaking of which," Ruth interjected, "You can leave for your homeworld whenever you choose. There's an entrance to the caves in the public park, just a few hundred yards up from the parking lot. We can drive you there anytime you like. And in the meantime, I had my personal assistant cancel a vacation day to take your gear to an outfitter. We should have it all repaired by tomorrow."

A deep wave of relief washed over Julia. Underneath their monstrous bodies, there was beauty in these women after all. She found herself crying blissful tears, even as she tried to speak. "Th… thank you, Ruth. I hate to cause you all this trouble. Your personal assistant – please extend her my apologies for ruining her vacation day."

Ruth laughed. "He won't mind. He's just thankful to have a job."

-----------

The remainder of the discharge went by in a happy blur. Julia had to sign a Nourishment Non-Consumption Consent Form, in triplicate. The doctor announced that she was also in charge of Howard's care, and she volunteered to take Julia to him. Her heart, already elated at the knowledge that they would soon be going home, rose to even greater heights at the knowledge that she would be reunited her man.

As the doctor led Julia to the Men's Wing, they passed other patients in the hospital. The women and teenage girls – every single one of them – were enormous, simply rippling with muscle. The men, sized normally, seemed like dwarfs next to them.

Julia also found herself looking at photos on the walls – the employee holiday party, the recent Patient Appreciation Night. There was a picture of a doctor, standing all of seven feet tall, hugging two of her male nurses, one in each arm. Her arms were wider than the men's thighs. And, Julia noticed belatedly, the men's feet were not on the ground. In her double bear hug, she was holding them aloft with no visible strain on her face.

The men had wide, silly expressions on their faces. Being overpowered like this wasn't frightening for these men, Julia realized. This absurd mismatch of power – here, it was normal.

-----------

As luck would have it, the doctor had several priority patients to address before she could see Howard. That gave Julia a chance to visit him first, alone.

The visit was not a jubilant as Julia had hoped. Since he had awoken, only male nurses had visited, and Howard seemed still under the impression that they were back on earth.

"Are you making some kind of joke?" Howard asked as Julia finished her explanation.

"No, I'm serious. It's a different world. But there's some good news, too. A family has offered to take us in. They are going to get our gear repaired. And they know an entrance to the caves, easy to access. We can get driven there tomorrow. They'll even give us food for our journey back to our homeworld."

Howard chuckled. "Our 'homeworld'? Did you hit your head in the fall?"

"Nope. Clean bill of health. They had to flush the toxins out of my system, but no other injuries. I've been discharged already."

"I see," he replied. But his tone told her he didn't.

Julia pursed her lips as Howard's eyes wandered the empty hospital room. Didn't he notice that things seemed a little bit different here, that the language on the signs and the labels was entirely foreign? "Howard, there's something else." Julia hesitated, reluctant. "The women here – they are all seven or eight feet tall. And covered in huge muscles."

The smile disappeared from Howard's face. "It's no longer a question in my mind. You really did hit your head in the fall."

"Howard, the doctor said I was fine – the 300-pound, female doctor, who was built like an ox."

He looked at her head. "They must have missed something. You mentioned the toxins in the fruit. Do they have a hallucinatory effect?" He paused, concerned. "I knew I never should have let you eat it."

"Honey, my head is totally fine. I know what I saw out there in the hallways. I'm just trying to prepare you so that you don't make a scene when one of these women walks into the room. They're huge and scary and gross. Just be ready for that."

But Howard wasn't listening. He had hoisted himself out of bed and was in the middle of another objection when the door swung open.

On the other side stood the doctor – seven feet of large, densely packed muscle lurked between the open panels of a white doctor's jacket. Howard gasped and took a step back in shock. The doctor didn't seem to notice.

"Well, aren't YOU feeling a little bit better, young man!" The doctor smiled, grabbing him by the armpits and depositing him on the hospital bed. The bed was a massive, sturdy contraption, with motors for raising and lowering the head and feet. A half-dozen large pieces of equipment were attached to the bed, some as large as a picnic cooler. "Let's get you into the light where I can see you a little bit better."

The doctor grabbed two handholds on the bed and hoisted it – occupant, equipment and all – in a smooth bicep curl. She walked it toward the window.

Julia watched her with wide eyes. Like every woman in this world, this one's size was grotesque and frightening. But at the same time, she was very sweet: a pleasant disposition and that easy confidence that must only come with … power. I don't want to look like that, Julia promised herself. I would never want to look like that. But there was something about the way this doctor carried herself --- so self-assured…

Howard was reeling. "How… how much weight is that, Doctor?"

The doctor stopped in mid-stride and gave him a thoughtful glance. "I don't know." She curled the bed, with its large stack of equipment, up and down several times. Her biceps expanded only slightly with the effort, their movements slow and controlled. "About six hundred pounds, maybe? It’s hard to tell with apparatus this light."

Howard's voice was almost a stutter. "N… n… no…no…"

"Is he ok?" the doctor asked, bed and man still suspended in front of her.

"Honey, don't be intimidated by her. She's really nice."

The doctor finished placing the bed by the window. "That's right. I'm not even that strong anymore," she laughed. Slipping out of one of her sleeves, the doctor flexed a bicep. The lines of her upper arm hardened and widened, its muscle ballooning into the size of a small watermelon. The doctor ran her free hand over its massiveness. "Only twenty inches around when it's relaxed," she explained. "You should have seen what it looked like when I used to work out."

A soft THUD emanated from the bed. "Oh no," the doctor said, perplexed. "Your boyfriend seems to have passed out."

-----------

"I'm so glad you're ok," Ruth said. She had been waiting in the reception area. "And you must be Howard," Ruth said.

Howard said nothing, offering only blank stare at the wall.

"Howard's a little catatonic right now. They pumped him with anti-anxiety medication after a fainting spell."

"As they always say, it's the weakness that makes men so adorable. And this is my daughter, Mindy."

Julia turned to find a nearly eight-foot-tall, bored-looking teenager sitting in a reception room chair. She sported a plaid, flannel shirt that had been tied in a simple knot over her breasts rather than buttoned. A dark chasm of cleavage plunged downward toward the knot, and below it, intimidating balls of abdominal muscle were on full display. Voluminous thigh muscles exploded out of a small pair of jean shorts.

"Come over and say hello to our house guests," Ruth instructed.

"OK, mom," the kid groaned.

Mom, Julia thought. The daughter appeared to be eighteen years old, and Ruth appeared to be all of twenty-six. However, upon further examination, Julia was reminded of the sageness and maturity in the woman's eyes. Maybe Ruth really is the girl's mom, Julia thought. Maybe the Nourishment slows aging.

The girl had taken several of the hard candies from the reception desk and had balanced them on her own well-defined abdominals. The girl stood up gingerly, her eyes on her midriff the entire time. She flexed her abdominals, further defining the muscles, turning them into little shelves that held the candies steady until she was nearly vertical.

"Knock it off, Mindy," the mother scolded.

"Fine," the girl groaned, relaxing her stomach in and allowing the candies to tumble into her hands. Mindy offered one of the treats to Julia. "You want one?"

Julia accepted the gift and rolled it over her hand. The candy was silvery and shiny.

"She can't eat those, Mindy," the mother chided, taking the candy away from Julia and putting it back in the bowl. "They're cherries," Ruth explained. "Dipped in stainless steel. Helps preserve the freshness."

"So? She can just spit the steel part out. She doesn't have to SWALLOW it." The girl popped one in her mouth and closed her jaws with a CRUNCH. The steel seemed to be giving her no more trouble than bubble gum. It must be a very thin coat of metal, Julia concluded.

The doctor arrived with a formless windbreaker-type jacket. “This might protect you a bit as you walk to the car,” the doctor said as she pulled it over Julia's head. She cinched the hood tight. "You and your boyfriend are free to go. Good luck to you. I hope you find your way."

-----------

Julia thought about loosening her windbreaker hood, but decided against it. The doctor must have cinched it for a reason.

As they left the building, true to her word, Mindy pursed her lips and blew the steel out. It made a POW sound as it left her mouth. Thirty yards away, the bark on a tree splintered.

"Mindy, how many times have I told you not to do that?" her mother scolded. It's terrible for the trees."

"You never let me do ANYTHING," the girl retorted.

I didn't see that correctly, Julia promised herself as she followed the two enormous women to the parking lot. Nobody can eject something from their mouth with that much force, in any world.

Having been off the fruit for a week now, Julia's old aches and pains had resurfaced. Her ankle still hurt like hell, and she found herself limping even as she forced herself to keep up.

They passed other families who were on their way into the building. Julia began to feel eyes on her and realized belatedly that she was the subject of blatant, confused stares from everyone they passed.

"Mom," she heard a teenaged girl ask. "Why is that woman so small? Did somebody do something to her?"

Julia turned in time to see the enormous mother slap a hand over her daughter's mouth. "This is a hospital, young lady. There are lots of sick people in there. It's not polite to stare."

"But why is she walking funny?" the girl asked.

"She could be injured," the mother whispered.

"What's an INJURY, Mom?"

"Quiet, honey," her mother responded. "It's something that happens to men sometimes."

"But why did it happen to HER?" she demanded.

"I don't know, honey." The mother shook her head as she hurried away down the path. "I don't know."

Julia averted her eyes from the pair and limped on, ignoring the pain in her ankle. Bright afternoon light beat down on her black windbreaker, still cinched at the hood.

For the first time since her arrival, Julia tried to imagine what the world looked like from the perspective of these massive women. A ‘normal’ Earth body, on a woman, was puny and decrepit. And huge muscles — the kind that could curl six hundred pounds of medical equipment with hardly any exertion — on a woman, those were normal. The purpose of the windbreaker was suddenly clear to her. They're not trying to protect me from the weather, she realized.

They're trying to protect me from embarrassment.


CHAPTER 2

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SYNOPSIS UP TO THIS POINTJulia and Howard took a wrong turn in a Kentucky cave and tumbled out into a world of amazon women. The way back in unclear. After a visit to one of this world’s hospitals, a family has volunteered to take them in.

DISCLAIMER

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.

-----------

The mother of the family cut into her 36-ounce steak as she spoke. "I hear that the caves are like that," Ruth said. "They're famous for blind passages, circular routes, steep drop-offs, and worse."

Ruth was still in her office attire, Julia observed: the ivory linen bolero jacket paired with matching pants and top. The top was midriff-baring: hemmed just below the ribcage, and it left her baseball-sized abdominals on full display. The top also featured a v-shaped neckline-, providing a very small window into the woman's very large bust. To Julia, the outfit bared enough that it seemed more a parody of formal attire than formality itself.

"You're staring," Ruth pointed out, her voice gentle.

"Sorry," Julia replied. "Where Howard and I come from, office attire is much more… conservative. Almost everything is covered."

Ruth considered that. "I can't see why. Respectable office attire should always convey authority, and what better way to do that then remind men how weak they are? Some of my outfits show off the abdominals, as this suit does. But I have other suits that highlight my arms or my thighs. The more muscle I show off, the more diligent men are about listening to my instructions. It makes workplace life so much easier."

"So, office attire is about power?" Julia asked, incredulous.

“What isn’t?”

The husband of the family made an inquiring glance at Ruth. She nodded approval. He spoke up for the first time. "It’s not a matter of intimidation, but rather a reminder of 5he natural order. When I see my boss wear something like Ruth is wearing now, it's a reminder. Each of Ruth's abdominals is stronger than every muscle in my body – combined. Seeing all six of them on display like that is a reminder of her overall superiority – her superior memory, her superior sensory awareness, superior stamina, superior leadership abilities, and most of all, superior intelligence. These are the things that justify her position of authority."

"Women are viewed as more intelligent than men?" Howard asked.

"Duh!", a 10-year-old girl at the table replied. "Boys have to go to school like five days a WEEK, and they STILL don't learn anything."

"We do too!" her brother objected.

"You spend five days a week in school but you only learned, like, a TENTH of what I learned this year! And I'm younger!"

"How many days a week to girls go to school?" Julia asked.

"One. We have fun activities on the other days."

Julia discreetly put her utensils down. She was starting to feel full, or overwhelmed. She wasn't quite sure. Mindy, meanwhile, served herself a second massive steak – a large as a hubcap – and heaped a commensurate mountain of mashed potatoes alongside. She dove into the gluttonous portions easily, consuming in a few moments what any woman back home would consider several meals – any fatty ones at that.

"Mindy, why don't you get some more Nourishment from the fridge and offer it to our guest? And please get some Pre-Nourishment for Becky, too."

Mindy stood, bringing her sculpted, hourglass-shaped abdomen to the level of Julia's eye. Where does all that fatty food go, Julia lamented to herself?

The room darkened slightly as the teenaged girl, all seven feet and seven inches of her, passed the picture window on the way to the kitchen. Julia observed the dimensions of the girl as she walked away. Her shoulders were massive, perhaps twice the width of Julia's. Her neck was a pyramid of muscle, its powerful base extending across her shoulder blades. Her upper arms must have been more than twenty-two inches around, even bigger than her mother’s. Her thighs were absurdly thick – perhaps the width of Howard's torso – and all muscle. Even minor muscles – ones that Julia never knew existed – were immensely developed. That's disgusting, Julia told herself. She's built like some kind of wild animal. But Julia found that she couldn't stop staring.

The kitchen contained two refrigerators. Julia had seen food emerge from one. Mindy opened the other.

When she returned to the dining room, the teenager had two bottles in her hands. One was about a foot long, pink with unicorns and teddy bears on it. The contents of that bottle were being poured into the little sister's glass.

"Before they're eighteen," Ruth explained, "girls drink Pre-Nourishment only. At that age, they're not mature enough to handle the amount of raw power that comes with adult Nourishment. PN offers a reduced potency. It gives them a chance to practice. They can practice being stronger than men, practice having greater speed, practice tasks that require greater balance. It's like training wheels."

"I hate being on baby food," Becky objected, taking the glass in both hands. "When can I drink grown-up stuff?"

"You have to wait another eight whole years," Mindy taunted.

"That's FOREVER. Mom, it's not FAIR. I can lift only baby weights."

Ruth put her fork down. "Honey, three hundred pounds is not baby weights. It's a lot more than some men can do."

"I put ALL the discs on my barbell downstairs and it feels light. I want to lift REAL weights, Mom!"

"Not until you're older. I'll get some extra fifty pound discs this weekend. Conversation over."

"But…"

"I said, conversation over."

Becky crossed her arms and glowered at her food. Meanwhile, Mindy's considerable mass circled the dining room table, the four-foot-long adult Nourishment bottle in her hands. She held it over Julia's glass.

"No… no thanks."

Mindy looked confused. "Why?"

"Because on my homeworld… women don't look like… I'd be a freak."

"Well, then your homeworld is fucked up."

"MINDY!" Ruth slammed her palm down on the table – a sound like a gunshot. "Becky is only ten years old and doesn't need to hear those words. And our guests have had a long day. I told you to offer it to her, not harass her."

"Sorry," the girl mumbled, refilling her tankard-sized glass and placing the massive bottle on the floor.

As Mindy poured, the aroma of the fruit drink tickled Julia's nose and sent a deep shudder of need through her. The cravings had not disappeared.

"We're very pleased to have you two stay with us and I hope you'll forgive some of our rough edges." Ruth glared at Mindy.

Howard cleared his throat. "And we're very thankful for your taking us in. But tomorrow, we need to go back to the caves, we need to find a way home."

Ruth gave Howard a perplexed look, and then turned to Julia. "Men in your world always speak out of turn, don't they?"

That made Julia giggle. It was a new experience to be regarded as the head of a household. "We do our best to teach them. But Howard is right. We need to get back home." Away, Julia thought – away from these monstrous women with their monstrous bodies.

Ruth's massive shoulders slumped slightly in resignation. "I wish we could have hosted you a little bit longer. But you want to leave, of course, you can."

-----------

The summer sun lingered long in the sky that evening, and the family soon found itself outside enjoying daylight's last rays. Julia sat with Howard on the grass of the back yard, letting the green blades curl between her fingers. The backyard, like the rest of the house, was palatial in scale – perhaps fifty yards from the residence to the back fence-line.

They watched Mindy toss a frisbee back and forth with her father. Although she was far younger than him, she loomed larger than him in both height and breadth. The girl's form, moreover, wasn't just size for the sake of itself. She was pure power.

"Those bodies are gross to me," Julia whispered to her boyfriend. "All those muscles make them look frightening, don't they?"

Howard nodded in agreement. "The teenager frankly scares the crap out of me."

Julia watched the father toss the frisbee back to his Mindy. He had a pretty good throwing arm, Julia realized. But the game, although not competitive, was lopsided. A strong toss from him might send her running, but she was very fast and a strong jumper. She was always able to haul in the disc after a few strides. But on the return throw, if she put even the least bit of wrist into it, the disc would sail far over the man's head, and he wasn't fast enough to compensate. The girl clearly grew bored.

"Come on you, let's play another game!" she laughed, charging him. Before he could get away, she had closed the distance and hoisted him off his feet. "Mom, catch!" Mindy's massive arm muscles flexed and shot the man into the air. He chuckled with mock surprise as he rose ten, fifteen feet into the air, tumbling head over heels. Ruth put her glass of lemonade down gingerly and was under him in a flash, arresting his fall.

Ruth tossed her husband a few feet into the air and extended her arms in front of her. The man landed with one foot in each palm. Even with forearms horizontal to the ground, the full weight of his body on her palms seemed to create no strain for her. "Back at you!" Ruth shouted, tossing him back into the air.

"Totally bizarre," Julia whispered. "Look at him. His wife and his daughter are playing with him like a toy, and there is nothing he can do about it. What man would want to live that way?"

"I don't know," Howard agreed.

"And besides," Julia found herself saying, "those muscles. What man would want to be married to that?”

"Maybe men here find it attractive because they grew up around it.”

“But these women — they look so manly!"

"Well, if you ignore all the muscle, they actually look quite feminine,” Howard dissented. “They don't have veins and leathery skin like bodybuilders back home. In fact, their skin looks really good. Their hair sort of glows. And their faces are, well, sort of pretty."

Julia crossed her arms defensively. "Are you saying you think Ruth and Mindy are beautiful?"

"I… uh…"

"And what about those tits?" Julia laughed, fixing her gaze on the buoyant massiveness of Ruth's chest. "Do you fantasize about me being stacked like that?"

Howard didn't reply.

"Hey, Mindy!" Julia shouted. "I think Howard here needs a toss."

-----------

The evening air filled with the sound of crickets. Two moons slowly crossed the heavens: one pale and large, the other smaller and redder. The family's younger daughter, Becky, had already been sent to bed. The father busied himself tidying up the patio for the night.

"I'm going to take a bath before going to bed," Mindy announced. "I feel gross."

Ruth nodded and turned to her guests. "Have you two had a bath at all since you arrived here?"

"Not a proper one," Julia admitted. "Just streams and ponds in the wilderness."

"How rude of us," Ruth replied. "Mindy, please take them along with you."

The bath turned out to be an outdoor spa – about twelve feet across, lined with sandstone and limestone. It was canopied by leafy trellises, and small fountains on each end spilled hot and cold water into the pool. It could easily have been mistaken for something that belonged in a Roman villa.

The pool itself was circular. It was capped by two stone slabs, each covering half the pool. "We cover it to conserve energy," Mindy explained.

The slabs were six inches thick, perhaps six feet long, and fitted with an iron handle in the middle. Hot vapor billowed out of the junction between the two slabs. Mindy bent at the waist, grabbed the handle of one slab and hoisted it up in a single disinterested motion as if it were a tarpaulin rather than a six-inch-thick slab of rock.

"How much weight is that?" Julia asked, hesitantly.

Mindy shifted the weight to one hand to assess it. "About eight hundred pounds".

Julia stared at the stone slab, easily the size of a queen mattress, suspended above the girl. I shouldn't find that shocking, after everything I've seen, but I do.

After depositing both slabs to the side, Mindy unbuttoned her cargo shorts.

Julia glanced around. Apart from the leafy trellises, they were out in the open. This doesn't seem very private, Julia lamented…

The girl finished unbuttoning her shorts and guided them over her generous hips. Her legs and thighs were magnificent: sculpted ridges, deep clefts between the muscles. And that ass – its roundedness exuded more than just sexuality. It was firm as a rock, Julia could tell. It exuded power.

Howard shuffled his feet. "We're taking a bath … together?"

"They do it differently in your world?" Mindy cocked a perfectly shaped eyebrow, her lips opened into a perfectly shaped smile, revealing perfectly straight teeth underneath.

The girl’s sheer beauty made Julia uncomfortable. If Mindy had this effect on Julia, how much more must Howard been entranced by her features?

Without ceremony, the girl began to untie the knot holding her flannel shirt together. The panels of the shirt separated to reveal a deep chasm of cleavage-- so pronounced that only shadows graced its inner depths. Oblivious to Julia's stare, Mindy released the knot in the shirt. Her breasts sprang out and up, separating the shirt's panels wide.

Julia heard the air go out of Howard’s lungs. The girl's breasts were astonishing – unreal in their firmness and made even more pronounced by the large slabs of pectoral muscle that undergirded them.

"How…" Julia blushed. Despite the size Mindy's bust, it showed not the least bit of sagging. "What size bra do you wear?"

Confusion riddled Mindy's perfect face. "What's a bra?" Her confused state made her look all the … hotter.

Mindy thoughtlessly shrugged out of the sleeves of the flannel, spilling it to the ground. Julia's eyes roamed the expanse of exposed skin. Creamy, smooth, free of veins and scars – it was the way bodies looked in paintings, not in real life. And there was not an ounce of fat to be found, anywhere.

Even though Julia was still fully clothed, she crossed her arms defensively over herself. Next to this amazon, Julia realized, I am deeply inadequate.

"Aren't you going to take your clothes off?" the amazon asked with innocence.

"That's not how women bathe in my world. We like to get our clothes wet," Julia lied.

Howard shot her a confused expression.

Mindy descended into the warm water, her powerful curves slowly spreading its surface apart. "Come here, I need you to suds up my backside."

With soapy hands, Julia explored the writhing musculature of the girl's back. Mindy casually raised her arms above her head, causing her lats to explode outward. Julia explored their contours with unwanted fascination. Muscles like this didn’t belong on a woman, and yet, watching the girl move was like watching a living sculpture. A woman’s body is all about curves, and these were certainly curves— thick, well-defined curves swollen with power.

Julia’s hands crept lower on the girl's body. Her midsection was like the trunk of an oak tree. Lower still her hands scrubbed.

"You act as though you've never seen muscles before," Mindy observed.

"Not like these," Julia admitted. She found herself tracing the curvature of the girl's fantastic glutes. "We don't have these on Earth."

"In that case, do you think your boyfriend might want a turn back there?" Mindy asked.

"He doesn't like muscles on a girl,” Julia announced, hoping to reassure herself.

"Then I have another task you’ll enjoy, Howard" Mindy motioned him closer to her. "While Julia finishes up my back, you need to help with my front. Specifically, these," she said, cupping her bounteous mammaries.

Howard had been unbuttoning his shirt. His fingers started fumbling, as if they had forgotten how to handle buttons. He looked to Julia with a what-do I-do expression on his face.

"I remember the thrill I got when I first Nourished. I had been pretty as a teenager, but I had never been this." Mindy raised her thick, lean arms over her head, forcing her mammoth breasts forward and up. Each was easily larger than Howard's head. His eyes went wide. "Now, men get hard as steel just at the sight of me."

"This isn't appropri—"

Julia couldn't even finish her sentence.

Howard's boxer shorts had tented into a raging erection. Julia felt her face redden with anger. How dare he react to her in this way, Julia fumed to herself!

Howard limped toward her. He couldn't even walk normally, Julia realized, so hard was his erection!

Mindy laughed. "That's totally awesome. I'm used to men being attracted to me. But your boy is, like, stunned. Like he's never seen a proper pair of tits before."

Jealousy raged inside Julia.

"It's actually turning me on." And indeed, her nipples – already larger than Julia’s thumbs – stiffened and thickened further. "I may have trouble keeping all of my pheromones inside of me."

Howard's eyes grew vacant, mesmerized. His soapy hands coursed over her bust with reverence. He seemed overpowered by her presence. Julia realized that his reaction to Mindy was something more than Julia had ever been able to solicit from him. Even in the woods, when Julia looked her best, she had never done this to him.

"Howard, are you in there?" Julia asked.

He didn't seem to hear her.

Julia looked at the confident smile on the amazon's face. With the athletic posture of a gymnast and the face of a cover model, her body screamed abundance and vitality. Her curves were so pronounced as to be self-indulgent. Even her nipples were huge – larger, easily, than the head of Howard's cock. Julia shuddered at the thought. Even his most manly body part, Julia realized, had been outmatched by this girl. Everything about this girl was that way – larger, stronger, greater.

The un-Nourished woman felt herself backing away from the radiance of the Nourished one outmatched by her overwhelming sexuality.

"You can suck them if you want, Howard." Mindy placed an inviting hand on the back of his head and drew him toward her. She closed her eyes and arched her back, causing her mammaries to rise into him. Howard's manhood had found the fly of his boxers and was now straining, flagpole-straight, into the open air.

"This is not… " Julia's words failed her. "Howard, no…"

Momentarily, Howard braced an arm against the girl's ribcage and pushed away. But Mindy was lost in her own oblivion, her powerful arms continuing to draw him into her. Soon, Julia could see the resistance in his arms disappear. He collapsed into the amazon, caressing, sucking, those extraordinary monuments to her femininity.

"Howard?" Julia pleaded.

"HOWARD!" Julia finally yelled. She dipped a foot in the water and splashed him. "That's enough, you jerk. I'm standing right here!" She watched him tear his eyes away from Mindy and turn to her, confused. I'm his girlfriend of three years, Julia lamented, and he looks at me as if I'm a stranger. Julia took him by the hand and pulled.

Mindy only laughed. “Dude, it’s not such a big deal. He’s just a toy. I’d share my toys with you, too, if you asked.”

"You bitch," Julia spat. With Howard in tow, she lurched, humiliated, away from the pool.

-----------

When she woke the next morning, Julia's eyes were still red from sobbing. She and Howard had returned to the guest room that night in silence, and Julia had maintained the silence even after they were behind closed doors. She had been afraid that she would say something that she would later regret. Mad – yes, she was mad. But she didn't want to lose him either.

With the morning now upon them, she could hold her tongue no longer. She turned her head on the pillow and appraised him. "Did you even try to stop her?"

"Julia, you saw me try to push away from her. But she's so strong. She picked up an 800-pound slab like it was a book bag!"

"Did you tell her that you were in a committed relationship?"

"No, not really."

"So then, you think it's OK, when you're in a committed relationship, to go around sucking other girls' tits?"

"No, it wasn't like that. I didn't want to be untrue to you. But she was… persuasive."

"What do you mean, persuasive?"

"There was something about her – not just her dimensions, but some other type of allure, almost magical… I'm sorry Julia."

"There's no magic to thinking with your dick. You should be ashamed!"

Howard was silent. She felt his hand on her shoulder. "I'm sorry, honey. There was nothing I could do."

That only made her sob harder. "I hate myself. And I hate this awful place. I didn't like it even BEFORE that nineteen-year-old slut pulled you into her epic cleavage. Now I hate it even more. I can't wait to get out of here. Tomorrow can't come soon enough."

-----------

Julia hauled herself up the rock face at an unrelenting pace, her eyes squarely on the cave entrance. Her arms shook and ached, but the pain was welcome. It was better than turning back --- back to that awful land with the oversized women and their undersized respect for her relationship with Howard.

Julia could see that Mindy was watching them from below. The amazon girl had given them a ride in that ridiculous borrowed orange car.

"Can I follow you?" Mindy shouted. "Mom made me promise to get you home safely."

"No, you can't!" Julia shouted back.

“But you don’t even know the way. You have no idea whether this entrance even connects to anything.”

Julia fixed her jaw. "I'd rather die than see you again."

The shelves that were Mindy's shoulders slumped in resignation. "I don't know what I did wrong. I thought you’d be fine with sharing him, that’s all."

"That's all, huh? And you have no idea why I hate you?" Julia shouted down. "That fact that you don't know is exactly what's wrong…" She watched Mindy's features twist in confusion. Stew on that for a while, bitch.

"But…"

"No," Julia retorted. "Don't you dare say another word to me."

The girl didn't.

Once inside the cave, Julia's eyes took forever to adjust to the darkness. Her mind, too, struggled to adjust. Was she really again returning to those cold, claustrophobic passages – and their dangers? But when she pictured Mindy in her mind, the reluctance disappeared. That girl's immense tits had been on full display today, sheathed only in a high-necked, stretchy maroon top that did little to hide the shape of her assets. If the male libido found sustenance in female breast flesh, then that girl was more than sustenance. She was the whole fucking buffet.

Howard, always the fearless athlete, led the way into the cave's darkness. After about one hundred yards, Julia turned to see the last of the foreign world's daylight. But silhouetted in the remaining clump of light was Mindy's immense form, watching them. She had climbed as far as the cave entrance, apparently. What the fuck was the girl up to?

The cave was cold. Julia's skin broke out into goosebumps. The chill began to penetrate deeper into her flesh as well. Sweat, soon clammy, clung to her arms and sapped her warmth. The salt of her perspiration gnawed painfully at her scrapes and cuts.

The sounds of their feet produced lonesome echoes in the passageways. The air became heavy. The darkness seemed to be more than just black: it had a smothering quality.

"Are you sure we're going to be ok?" Julia asked as the passages took them down, and down further. "When we came the opposite direction, I don't remember the passages looking like this."

THUD. It was distant but very distinct. Almost like a footfall.

THUD. There was the sound again. Definitely a footfall.

The two exchanged glances. "Is that something we should be concerned about?" she asked.

Howard didn't answer. That was a bad sign. That meant yes.

The couple moved faster now, jogging where they could, stepping briskly where they could not. The sounds behind them grew slightly louder and began coming more frequently. Whoever it was, they were gaining.

The passageway dipped sharply downward now, but Howard barely slowed his pace. Pebbles and sand littered the surface. Julia slipped, recovered, slipped again. Further down the passage, Howard was doing the same thing.

Julia extended her hands to both walls, to feel the reassurance of their solidity. Howard, with his better motor skills, kept his hands at his sides.

The wall to Julia's right disappeared, leaving Julia's hand to grasp only at open space. She turned her headlamp into the blackness, but it remained only blackness. "Howard, be caref—"

"Aiiieee!" Howard screamed as his feet went out from under him. She saw him slam down on the floor of the passageway, before slipping away to the right – into the void.

OOF - BOOM - THUNK - OOF - THUNK. Julia could only listen to the tumbling of his body as he went over a lip and out of view.

"Howard!" Julia screamed. "Honey!"

RUMBLE. Howard's tumble down the passages dislodged something, or rather, many somethings. Rocks the size of beach balls went rolling after Howard, dipping out of sight as they went over the lip and then send up a BOOM when they hit the cavern floor. After the rockslide, there was only silence.

The silence was worse than the calamity. "Howard!"

Nothing.

"Howard?"

"I'm here," came a distant groan. "But these rocks – they fell – I'm pinned."

"Are you OK? I can't see you."

"I think my headlamp cracked. I can't reach my backup."

"Wait down there. I'll come and help you get free." She started down.

"Julia…"

"What?"

"It's not like that. These rocks – you won't be able to move them."

Julia scrambled down to him. It was a torturously slow process. So steep was the slope, she had to set up a rope belay in order to get down there. When she got there, he was barely visible under the pile of rubble.

"Are you ok? Is anything crushed?"

"Nothing is crushed," the pile of rubble replied. "But I'm trapped. I can't move at all."

"I'll get you out of there, baby."

But Howard was right about the rocks. She braced herself against the smallest of the boulders – the size of a basketball – and shoved. The rough surface of the rock dug into her palms as she exerted. It budged by a millimeter. She tried harder. It settled back into place. She tried again, harder still. The rock dug further into her palms, and she could feel them beginning to bleed. But it went nowhere.

Julia reached through a gap in the boulders and ran an affectionate hand over her boyfriend's cheek. She had to curl her fingers to keep the blood off of him. She wanted to remember his face like this, perfect and serene, not smeared with the crimson of her failure.

In the distance, the THUD THUD of footsteps sounded again.

Julia scrambled up the slope again, using her rope belay for purchase. At the top, she slipped and felt a searing pain as her head crashed into the rock. Her light – the last one in the chamber – made a clattering noise when it hit the floor.

It was pitch black now. The air suddenly felt stale and suffocating. Julia groped with her hands where the headlamp had fallen. Lamp, three batteries, compartment cover – she recovered them all. Her fingers were numb with cold and slick with blood. She tried in vain to reassemble the lamp by feel alone.

The THUDs continued.

Julia faced down the passage to the direction of the THUD's and cupped one hand over her mouth. "Mindy, is that you? We need help!"

There was no reply.

"Mindy! I know we had our differences. But Howard-- he's stuck under a ton of rocks."

No response.

Please let that be Mindy, Julia whispered to herself. Or Ruth or a Kentucky Park Ranger or anyone who would help us and not hurt us, not leave us here to die.

The blackness interrupted by a faint, soft blue from down the tunnel. The THUDing grew louder. Julia squinted.

Something was there, in the tunnel, with her.


CHAPTER 3

-----------

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. And it hasn’t been a good visit. Julia could only watch as a teenager made out with her boyfriend— in plain view of Julia. The couple was powerless next to these women and desperate to get home. Luckily, their host family knew of an entrance to the Caves nearby. Howard and Julia decided to try it, in the hopes that this entrance might somehow connect them back to Kentucky. But the venture into the Caves went even worse: Howard falls and is buried in a landslide of boulders. Julia’s attempts to save him but only bruises herself and crushed her lamp. And in the darkness, the couple has begun to realize that they are not alone.

DISCLAIMER

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 it approached, the blue light separated into two different points about a yard apart. The THUDing – Julia could now tell that this was heavy footsteps. Whoever, whatever it was, it stopped only a few feet from Julia. She could feel its warmth on her face.

"Who's there?"

The large presence did not reply. Howard's life is on the line, Julia reminded herself. I need to be brave.

Julia groped in front of her. Her hands landed on a stomach. Abdominal muscles the size of small baseballs filled her palms. Julia's hands sought the outer edge of the body. Her fingers found forearms and spread wide to cover their girth. The blue light seemed to be coming from phosphorescent objects on the person's arms.

"Why won't you speak?" Julia asked.

"You told me not to ever speak to you again." Mindy's voice was sullen. "I don't know why you're mad at me."

Relief – it hit Julia like a wave. Julia's hands wandered upward to Mindy's upper arms, thick as bread loaves and packed with solid muscle. These were the muscles that lifted that 800-lb stone lid like it was nothing more than a frisbee. To these muscles, a few rocks would be nothing.

Julia took a deep breath, the dank air no longer suffocating to her. They were going to be OK.

--------

With Mindy on hand, things got better – and fast. She hopped gingerly down a slope that Julia had found to be a technical challenge. Rocks began to fly over Mindy's shoulders. In only a minute, the girl had excavated the man from underneath the pile, safe and sound.

"I'm still mad at you, you know," Julia declared, unconvincingly.

"Are you now?” Mindy gave a knowing smirk. “I can leave if you want."

"No, no, I didn't mean it like that! I don't want you to leave. Being down here scares the crap out of me." Julia mounted her reassembled headlamp on her brow. Mindy's muscles were so rounded that the light fell across them in large crescents, like the phases of the moons.

Mindy hauled the last boulder, the size of a large beachball, off the pile and held it aloft while Howard slunk out of the rock pile, scraped but otherwise unharmed.

"How in the world do you do that?" Julia asked.

"Do what?"

"Hold a boulder like that. It must be even heavier than the stone slab you removed from the spa last night."

Mindy considered the beach ball-sized sphere of rock that was still balanced in a single palm. "I guess you’re right." She furrowed her brow in momentary concentration. "Maybe 1,000 pounds."

Julia felt her breath catch in her throat. At home, she had seen some guys that were almost as big as Mindy. But they couldn't hold a thousand pounds in one hand. They couldn't hold a hundred pounds in one hand. Julia stared at the amazon's muscles. What made them so much stronger than they looked?

"They're denser," Mindy explained, as if on cue. "You want to feel?"

"I don't want to be… weird."

"What’s weird about admiring something that’s awesome? You're curious. I can see the look in your eyes."

Julia found herself scampering towards the girl. She ran her hands over Mindy's biceps, and then her triceps and her forearms. They were like living marble – smooth and hard to the touch, yet warm and alive. She tried to dent the flesh, but her thumb simply whitened with pressure as the muscle maintained its perfectly ellipsoid shape.

Howard was standing now, brushing himself off. "Thank you, Mindy. I don't know what we would have done without you.”

“Uh-huh,” the girl mumbled, not bothering to look away from Julia’s exploratory fingers. “You like what you feel, Jules?”

"They're incredible…" Julia tried again to squeeze the marble writhing beneath her fingers.

“Be careful around that boulder," Howard cautioned. "What if she drops it?"

The stone mass suspended above Julia’s head could easily have crushed her, but after an upward glance, Julia dismissed it. The girl's arm was hardly straining. And Howard — his voice was just a background whisper now, drowned out by the soft breathing of the nineteen-year-old girl who had a strength that no man could possibly possess. She ran her open palms over the girl's shoulders, which had barely widened with exertion. They didn't quiver.

Mindy giggled and curled her arm in a languid motion, flexing the bicep. Julia's fingers splayed wide to cover the thickening muscle. The girl's voice was soft and conspiratorial. "You could have those, you know, if you wanted…"

Julia heard the slightest of moans filter through the cabin air, before she realized that it was coming from her.

CRASH. Mindy had tossed away the boulder with a flick of her wrist, as if its thousand pounds were no more than a nuisance. She concentrated her attention on the flex, rotating her fist from side to side and causing the marble of her arm to slowly re-sculpt itself.

The boulder the girl had so absentmindedly tossed away had shattered on the cavern floor. Such unreal power, this girl had!

Mindy flexed her bicep further. Julia felt her fingers spread even wider as the mass between her fingers swelled. Howard said something, but she was too transfixed to care. "When I saw that you had come, I wasn't scared anymore," Julia said.

"Fuck ‘scared.’ That’s for weak little men."

My lord, Julia thought. The teenager made it sound like hair loss, like she’s never once experienced fear. And perhaps she has never needed to? The thought left her breathless.

“Do you know the way out?" She finally asked.

"Sure. We can just retrace our steps."

"But do you think we'll be able to get back home?"

Mindy considered that. "Back to my home, yes. But for you, that's not back. That's forward."

-----------

The climb up and out was far more fatiguing than the descent in.

After a few minutes of walking, Julia heard the POP of a beverage can behind her. The familiar fruity aroma of Nourishment filled the tunnel.

"I like a little boost in the middle of the day. Want some?" Mindy asked, motioning with the open can.

Julia tried to form a "no", but the words didn't come out. They had drowned in euphoric memories of the fruit-- the delicious taste, the vigor that it brought her body back in the woods, the vigor that it brought Howard when he looked upon her. She wanted to feel the fruit on her lips again, so badly.

"She's decided to abstain," Howard interjected. "The doctor told her that there's no way to have 'some'. If she drinks even a little bit, she'll keep drinking until she becomes huge. And then we’d stuck here."

Howard had a point, Julia realized. The fruit was tempting. But the idea of consuming a substance that could rewrite her genetics but had never been tested on Earth women, the risk that she would be unable to discontinue use and return to Earth someday — no, she was not ready to take those risks.

“Howard is right,” Julia conceded.

“OK, have it your way." Mindy upended the can and guzzled its entire contents in a single motion.

As she did so, Julia grabbed Howard's forearm. "Thank you," she whispered. "From the bottom of my heart.”

Mindy crushed the can and let it clatter to the tunnel floor. "Come on, let's get out of here." She barged ahead.

Julia stopped at the discarded can. Even from a standing position, the scent beckoned her. She couldn’t bear to leave it behind, just sitting on the cavern floor. She found herself tucking the crumpled can into her fanny pack. I wouldn’t want to leave behind litter in a public park, she announced to herself.

As she jogged to catch up, she found that the incline of the tunnel was becoming steeper. Julia found herself winded. She again fell behind. Periodically, she had to rest bent over, hands on knees, panting. Finally, when they hit a particularly steady uphill, she stopped entirely. "I can't go any further."

"But we're almost out," Howard complained.

"I can carry her," Mindy offered.

Before Julia knew it, she was scampering onto Mindy's back, sticking her legs through the crooks of the girl's arms. The smaller woman wrapped her arms around the larger one's shoulders and hugged tightly. Mindy's back and neck were a steel column. In the tight embrace, Julia felt her soft body mold itself accommodate the contours of the harder one.

Julia delighted at the ease with which her mount handled the incline. Ascents that would have left Julia breathless went by without even a pause. Slopes that would have taken Julia ten minutes to scale went by in only seconds.

They were soon ahead of Howard. He was huffing and puffing to stay up with them. Julia giggled. It was fun to have power on her side for a change, fun to — dare she say it —watch him struggle.

When Mindy occasionally reached above her head for a handhold, Julia could feel the muscles of the girl's torso twist and flex. Their movement was steady and supple. I've always thought this kind of muscularity was gross, Julia admitted to herself. But this body saved our asses down there, and for some reason, that makes it seem less gross. Keeping one arm hooked around the girl's neck, Julia freed the other one and ran her palm across the girl's shoulders. No, definitely not gross.

Light-filled the passageway as they approached the surface. Once on the surface, it was a steep-- perhaps a 45-degree angle – downward slope to the parking lot. When Julia had gone up this, she had done it on all fours. But now, her mount was skipping down it on two feet. Julia wondered what would happen to her if the girl slipped, if this immense body came down on top of Julia's relatively tiny one. Julia wrapped both arms around Mindy's neck, her palms slick with nervous sweat.

But to the extent the descent should have been fear-inducing, Mindy didn't seem to know it. She skipped lightly down the first twenty yards of the slope before realizing that Howard wasn't keeping up.

"Men," she whispered to her passenger. "Their balance isn't as good as ours."

"Really?" Julia asked.

"Really.“

Above, Howard was still failing his arms for balance, struggling to descend the steep incline safely.

Julia laughed. He was struggling, but she had Mindy – and Mindy had skill. That felt nice. "He looks pathetic. Should we help him out?"

"Sure." Mindy retraced her steps toward Howard. She balled her hand into a fist and slammed it into the rock face, shattering the stone to dust. "Step there, young man," she suggested to the guy who was twice her age.

He did. She continued down the slope, slamming a fist or a heel into the rock at regular intervals. SMASH, SMASH, SMASH. A plume of rock debris rose from each impact, the air smelled of rock dust. After several dozen such blows, a trail of footholds had formed, giving Howard easy purchase.

That's strange, Julia thought. No matter how strong her muscles, acting as a human jackhammer should have ruined the bones of her hand. But the girl seemed unharmed. Never felt fear – those were the words Mindy used back in the cave. These women – they aren't just strong, Julia realized. They are, for all intents and purposes, indestructible.

"That doesn't hurt you, does it?" Julia asked. "Your bones are stronger than rock, aren't they?"

Mindy only grinned. "You could have that, too."

-----------

On the ride home, Mindy sat in front, where the seats were deeper and the legroom greater. Julia and Howard sat in the back seat – the part of the car that was specifically designed for men and children. Julia was glad for the privacy.

"So, we're stuck here, at least for now," she whispered to Howard.

He nodded. "I'll get you through this, somehow."

"Howard, I want you to promise me that you will keep your zipper up, no matter who is trying to pull it down. These women are strong, but they're not predators. You can still tell them no.”

"I can't explain how it happened, so I won't try." Guilt clouded Howard's eyes.

Good, she thought. Guilty indeed. “If I ever, ever find you horsing around with these girls again, the way you did with Mindy in the tub, I swear my forgiveness will be a long time coming."

"I promise you I won't touch any of the women here," he said. "But one good promise deserves another. I see how you've been reacting to the smell of that fruit drink. And you know what will happen if you take even a sip."

"I won't be able to stop until the transformation is complete."

"That's right. You won’t stop until it has rewritten the genetic makeup of your entire body. And who knows how dangerous that will be — or how dangerous it will be to go off the drink when we return to Earth? You need to promise me that you will stay away from that stuff. Abstinence is the only way back to your normal life. When you get home, you can join a gym, get healthier, be more athletic, whatever you want. And remember, back home, having 400 pounds of muscle is not attractive, it's freakish."

The word 'freakish' jarred Julia. Only moments ago, Mindy had saved their hides. "OK, we can make each other a solemn pact. You will stay away from the girls; I will stay away from the juice. And we will get through this, together."

"Together," he agreed.

As they exited the car, Julia saw a trash bin. She reached into her fanny pack to discard the crumpled can. But when she opened the fanny pack, the familiar, pleasant aroma wafted out. She paused. Without thinking, she brought the crumpled metal to her nose and breathed deeply. A happy, lightheaded rush came over her. Dribbles of the juice spilled onto her fingers, and she licked them, delighting in the taste. She considered the crumpled can. I can throw it out any time, Julia promised herself.

Perhaps I'll keep it just a little bit longer.

-----------

"Howard, where the heck did you get that?" Julia sat cross-legged on the living room carpet of the host family's home, surrounded by their caving gear.

"I always a gun with me into the backcountry. We could have run into anyone in the wilderness, and not all of them are good. That might turn out to be the case here as well."

Julia fixed her jaw. He was right.

"As long as I have anything to do with it, no one will mistreat you, no matter how big they are."

Julia found herself draping her arms over him. She picked him on the cheek. “It’s so nice to know that somebody’s looking out for me. You’re my hero, you know that?”

Howard smiled bashfully.

Julia then tried on her climbing harness. After usage, all equipment had to be checked for tears and broken parts – anything that could be a hazard as they made a second attempt in the caves.

"I think their muscles look silly," Julia announced as she ran her hands over the reinforced nylon straps. "Girls aren't supposed to look that strong."

Howard nodded as he pulled his own climbing harness down over his shoulders. "I think this Nourishment they are talking about is just some type of steroid. And if so, then their bodies are a lot less impressive than they appear. People on steroids have no flexibility, no range of motion, ligaments that are undeveloped relative to the muscle, no endurance, health issues. The list goes on."

"I hadn't realized that," Julia admitted. "I suppose every benefit comes at a price, doesn't it?" Howard was so smart, Julia thought to herself as she watched him examine his own harness. And yet, whatever the consequences, she did miss the taste of the fruit. With every passing hour, the ache grew…

Julia was still running her hands over the reinforced nylon straps when Mindy's voice rang out from the hallway.

"Hey, there you guys are!" Mindy strode into the room, attired in the same outfit she had worn into the caves: a high-necked, sleeveless maroon top had the miserable task of containing her prodigious bust, and a pair of jean shorts suffered similar challenges with her thighs and the hard globes of her ass. The outfit ceded her mid-section to open display. Julia found it hard not to gawk at the magnificence of the girl's rounded, perfectly defined abdominal muscles. "What's that thing you're wearing?" the amazon asked.

"It's a climbing harness, for the caves. I can attach a rope to this carabiner here," Julia pointed, "and the harness is strong enough to support my weight from that single connection point."

Mindy quizzically hooked a finger through the carabiner and tugged upward. Julia felt her feet leave the ground. Looking down, Julia realized her entire weight was supported only but the girl's extended index finger.

"That's super cool!" Mindy proclaimed. "Why didn't they invent one of these in this world?"

Mindy raised Julia further, and Julia found herself staring at the finger that held her aloft. It was extended horizontally – the worst possible leverage – and didn't quiver in the least. All of Julia's 150 pounds – suspended on a single finger, and it was effortless for this girl. Julia had seen what their larger muscles could do, but she hadn't realized that their superhuman nature extended right down to the tiniest one. "Wow," Julia whispered to herself.

"No kidding! These harness things are brilliant!" Mindy exclaimed, misunderstanding. The behemoth of a girl hooked her other index finger through the appropriate place on Howard's harness. He, too, was soon aloft.

As the couple dangled in the air, Julia felt a new presence in the room. She craned her neck to see Mindy's little sister standing in the corner. By her face and build, Julia guessed she was perhaps 10 years old. But she was taller and sturdier, than any 10-year-old back home – nothing near the musculature of Mindy or the other women, but certainly sturdy enough to make any high school boy think twice about pushing her around.

"Hi," the little girl offered, looking at her shoelaces.

"I don't think we were ever introduced last night," Julia said, trying to sound adult even as she dangled like a little toy. "Your name is Becky?"

She nodded with vigor at her shoes. "Wanna see my treehouse?"

"She always wants to show people her treehouse," Mindy explained. "It doesn't matter if you're the mailman, the gardener or some chick that just crawled out of a cave from another planet. It's always the treehouse. I'll take you up if you want to go. The harness things would make it easy."

"So, do you wanna see?" Becky prodded.

"Sure." What other answer is possible when you are being held aloft like a doll?

"I don't think that's a good idea," Howard replied, feet kicking.

"Doesn't matter!" Mindy chirped, setting them down. "Lady always wins. Come on!"

-----------

Before Julia knew what was happening, they were out the door and in the backyard of the house, Becky skipping jubilantly ahead.

Julia craned her neck backward, following the trunks of the trees up – and up, and up, and up. These were no normal Kentucky trees, but something far more magnificent. They must have been two hundred feet tall.

Leading them to the base of the tallest, Becky grabbed a metal rung that had been nailed into it. The rung was the lowest of a series that ran up the length of the trunk. The child began scrambling up the rungs at a lightning pace, without hesitation or a pause for rest.

Mindy clipped Julia’s harnesses directly into the chain links of her belt. Then, she produced a rope from a pile of supplies at the base of the tree. She tied the rope to Howard’s harness, played it out about six feet, and then tied the other end the chain links of her belt. The arrangement meant that Julia would be attached directly to the girl, but that Howard would be dangling six feet below.

“To keep you two from getting tangled with each other on the way up,” Mindy replied to the unasked question.

But Julia couldn’t help but wonder whether the arrangement was actually a way of sidelining Howard. And she couldn’t help but wonder why this didn’t bother her more.

She put her hands on the first rung. "Ready?"

As it turned out, she didn't wait for an answer, but instead heaved herself upward.

"Mindy, are you sure is safe?" Howard asked from below. "These trees look very tall. Shouldn’t w… OOOFF!" Howard had the air knocked out of him as his line went taut and he was suddenly hoisted skyward, dangling about six feet below the other ladies. Mindy's sizable body rocked back and forth with the rapid climb. Julia looked down to see Howard swinging wildly, like a pendulum as Mindy sprang upward from rung to rung.

Julia, for her part, had a different problem. Clinging to the larger woman's back like a marsupial, Julia's body slammed into Mindy's more substantial one more than once.

After several uncomfortable collisions, Julia learned to stabilize herself, looping one arm around the girl's abdomen, the other around the girl's thigh, which was nearly as wide as Julia's entire torso. Holding the girl in this way was like hugging a warm stone column. She is so incredibly solid, Julia remarked to herself!

The ground was quickly receding and was now perhaps eighty feet below them. Julia gulped.

Branches passed by at a steady pace, as if she were attached to an elevator rather than a person. Some of the iron ladder rungs had fallen away. When Mindy encountered this, the girl simply grasped notches in the trunk, without slowing her juggernaut ascent. Forcing herself to look down again, Julia noticed not only that the ground had receded further – perhaps one hundred feet now – but also that Mindy's feet dangled free. Looking back up at the girl's arms, she could see the muscles writhe with steady exertion.

My lord, Julia thought to herself. She is hauling my mass and Howard's and her own absurd weight upon only the strength of her arms. And she's doing it at a ridiculous pace, without stopping to rest or even wavering! It reminded her of the ridiculous feat of strength she saw in the caves, but now she was seeing it expressed in an altogether different way. What muscles are capable of this kind of power, Julia wondered to herself?

The handholds were further apart in the upper reaches of the tree, and Mindy began to swing more wildly as she shifted from one to the other. Julia squeezed the girl's abdomen a bit harder, hoping for more stability. But the muscles there offered no give: they seemed to be constructed of something harder than Julia's world had ever known. Julia found herself running her hand over the writhing mass, observing how it stretched and shifted and bulged with every exertion. The experience of touching Mindy in this way was somehow… invigorating.

The branches thinned considerably now. She tried not to look at the ground, now a deadly distance below her. A platform came into view. Although Mindy had called it a treehouse, it was more of a lean-to: floor, walls on two sides, open on two other sides, and a roof. Becky was already up there, her feet dangling over the edge. Mindy powered her way toward the structure. Only a minute later, they, too, had arrived.

"I used to love it up here." Mindy unclipped Julia and Howard, placing them on the surface of the platform. "I always came up here when I got sick of my mom and my brothers. Be careful, though. We didn't put any railings on. Men never come up here."

Julia backed herself cautiously against one of the walls and looked toward the horizon. The landscape of this new world spread out before them. "What about Becky? Do you worry about her falling off?"

"That little twerp falls off all the time."

"I do NOT." The little girl's face compressed into a scowl.

"You fell off yesterday. There's a dent in the backyard two feet deep."

"I did that on PURPOSE. I was just playing."

Julia peered toward the ground, two hundred sickening feet below. The house, big as it was, appeared no larger than the width of her hand. They let this little girl tumble off the edge like that – regularly?

"The caves you came from are over there," Mindy pointed. "And that's the beach. We have a house there. And over behind the clouds, those are the mountains where we go skiing."

Julia looked at the mountain range, but not much was visible. The tops had been blanketed by dark clouds.

"Looks like crummy weather on the ski slopes today," Howard observed.

"No, it's clear. Look." Mindy's arm extended up.

Julia's eyes followed the arm skyward. There, at the upper edge of the cloud bank, the peaks broke through, jutting into the openness above. Covered in snow, their whiteness seemed nearly to blend with the haze of the atmosphere. Their ridge-line was a jagged knife, and their slopes a jumble of cliffs and gorges.

"Those are huge mountains," Julia observed. "They must be 12,000 feet tall."

"The Danle Etwals are closer to 20." Mindy’s tone was nonchalant.

Julia heard someone call Mindy’s name. “Whatcha doing?” the voice below asked. It was a female voice – perhaps someone about Mindy's age – eighteen or nineteen.

Mindy sidled up to the edge and waved back. “I’ve got visitors!”

“Who?”

“They’re like, from another world!” Mindy replied.

“No way!”

"And one of them is an un-Nourished woman!"

"You're shitting me!"

Mindy turned to her guests and motioned them to the edge. “Come on, I want to show you to my friend Amanda.”

Julia crept closer to the edge, but stopped several feet away. There were no railings, and the open void hollowed out a pit in her stomach. She approached edge inches at a time on shuddering hands and knees. Her palms became slick with sweat, and she stopped.

As always, Howard was more sure-footed and athletic. He went right to the edge, braced his sneakers against the outer lip of the platform, and offered a hand to Julia. "I'll hold you if you're scared."

Julia stared with unease at the tops of the smaller trees, far below. The wind whipped across her face.

She looked at Howard's extended hand. She had always sought the protection of his strength in the past, but now her elbows quivered with unease. This world was so different, and this tree was so tall!

Mindy was on the edge, too. Julia found herself looking at Mindy's upper arm: it was nearly the size of Julia's thigh. It had carried three people up a two-hundred-foot tree with ease.

Mindy raised the elbow towards Julia, inviting her to grab on.

Julia found herself looping a trembling arm around the girl's magnificent bicep. It was hard as granite and unyielding as a mountain. Although the girl was only nineteen, holding her arm washed an immense tide of relief over Julia.

Julia sidled up to the very edge of the platform, the gaping expanse below no longer seeming to be such a threat. Turning to Howard, she looked at his extended hand and shook her head. "I'm good now, thanks."

-----------

"She's so tiny," the voice from the ground observed. Julia twisted in her climbing harness to get a better view of this friend that had been exchanging cheerful shouts with Mindy during the entire trip down.

The ground was only about twenty feet below them at this point. Julia released a sigh of relief and relaxed her grip on Mindy's torso. She had been clawing at the girl's flesh without realizing it, trying to better her grip. Her hands were now cramped with fatigue. It had been like trying to squeeze granite for five minutes straight.

Mindy's friend turned out to be built like Mindy herself--- perhaps two inches taller and identically proportioned. Her blue-green eyes and freckles suggested a childish innocence, but there was nothing innocent about the girl's body: Muscles layered themselves atop other muscles, their curvatures somehow feminine and awesome at the same time.

Her hair was golden blond, cut short in a bob. She was attired in a leotard, as if she had just returned from gymnastics. Julia shuddered to think what a gymnastics session with this girl might look like.

As soon as Julia was out of the harness, she felt the coolness of Amanda's shadow cover her. Amanda's voice was booming and sonorous. "She's so tiny. Is she OK?"

"The hospital said she was about as healthy as a man. She's soft, too, as a man."

Julia felt Amanda's fingers squeeze her bicep with all the gentleness a steel vice. She tried to withdraw her arm, but it was trapped.

"Nourishment doesn't work on you?" Amanda asked, speaking directly to Julia for the first time.

"It's more complicated than that." Julia lowered her eyes.

Amanda released the woman's arm and turned to her friend. "Hey, can I borrow your car?"

"Sure. Which one?"

"I dunno. The orange Danica? Something with some speed. I'm in the mood for a joy ride."

Becky, apparently bored with the conversation, hopped and skipped back to the house. The remaining foursome made their way to the garage. Julia and Howard found themselves hopping and skipping, as well, to keep up with their behemoth companions.

Like everything else about the residence, the garage was palatial, two stories tall. Even before the garage door rose, Julia knew it was easily large enough to hold four or five cars. And glancing down the street, this seemed typical for the neighborhood. This was a wealthy neighborhood, no doubt.

But the surprising size of the garage was nothing compared to the interior of it. As the door went up, she could see that the structure contained not five cars, but at least ten. The cars were hanging vertically from the I-beam rafters, like carcasses of cattle in a slaughterhouse. Stepping into the garage, the two large girls wandered the aisles between the hanging vehicles. As they chatted about the attributes of the various cars, Julia and her boyfriend followed behind in stunned silence.

"I think I still want the Danica," Amanda concluded, walking up to an orange sports car hanging nose-down in the corner. The machine looked like it belonged in Beverly Hills, or perhaps a racetrack. Its tires were as wide as Julia's shoulders.

"The orange one it is." Mindy crossed her arms. "Just be sure to bring it back in one piece."

"Dude, you are so unfair! That accident happened, like, two years ago! I was only sixteen then." Amanda reached under the front bumper and grabbed a steel handle. With her free hand, she grabbed a second handle that protruded through the hood.

Then, she lifted. The car came off its hook.

Julia followed sheepishly behind as the phenomenally powerful girl walked the car out of the garage. Her muscles – they bulged slightly to accommodate the weight. But if bearing the burden was the least bit uncomfortable, her face didn't show it.

Once clear of the garage, Amanda turned to face the visitors. Rather than put the car down, she simply cocked her hip to one side and rested an elbow on it. Releasing her hold on the hood handle, she balanced the car vertically using only her grip on the bumper handle.

"How long are you guys staying?" Amanda asked.

"We… we…" Howard struggled to form words, Julia noticed.

"That is SO cute," Amanda giggled, turning to Julia. "Your guy is, like wigging out."

"It must be very different where you guys come from," Mindy offered.

"Totally!" Amanda agreed, without waiting for a response. "I bet your cars have like five wheels or rocket boosters or something."

Howard's jaw continued to quiver. "They uh, they…"

"Oh my gosh," Amanda squealed. "I've never seen a guy do that before. It's totally adorable and I don't even know why. Can I borrow him too?"

Julia realized that the question was directed at her. "Borrow him?"

"Hmm hmmm." Amanda slowly flexed her arm up and down, performing a smooth, one-armed curl with the car. Her bicep expanded and contracted in a steady rhythm, swelling to something twice the size of a football when it fully contracted. The repetitions were smooth and apparently effortless.

The girl yawned.

She isn't showing off, Julia realized. She's bored. She doing bicep curls with a car because she's bored. It's as difficult as twirling her hair or biting her fingernails. Their bodies are surely beyond the comprehension of Earth's biological science, Julia realized. They are, in the plainest sense, superhuman.

"Unless he's your Claimed, it's rude to say no," Mindy whispered. "Amanda would lend you a man too if you asked."

Julia watched the car slowly rise and fall with the girl's movement. I don't even know what "Borrowing" or "Claiming" means, she thought to herself. But then again, this girl could tear me to pieces with less effort than it takes me to remove a candy wrapper. Either of these girls could. So far, they've been very gracious to us – putting us up at their house, taking us back to the caves, and then rescuing us when things went awry. But what happens if their patience runs out? What happens if we do something that is incredibly offensive to them, without even knowing it? They could throw us out of the house tonight, or even worse, decide to keep us for a while. We have to follow local customs, at least until we can leave. There is no other choice. "Uh, sure, you can borrow him. When?"

"I'll come to pick him up in like, an hour, after dinner. I can have him back first thing tomorrow."

Julia turned to Mindy for guidance. The girl shrugged her shoulders and nodded. I'm "lending" my boyfriend on the advice of a teenager, Julia lamented. "OK," she agreed. "But like Mindy said with the car, bring him back in one piece."

That got a laugh out of both the giant girls. Julia was relieved: the locals were happy. But as she accompanied a shocked Howard back into the house, she pulled him aside. "You made me a promise in the back of that car, remember?"

Howard nodded.

"I'm assuming her request is entirely innocent. Maybe she needs someone to do some handyman work, or help babysit a little sibling. But if it's less innocent than that, no matter what she threatens or what wiles she works, your damn zipper stays up. You understand?"

He nodded.

Julia took a deep breath and followed him into the house, unable to shake the feeling that she had just made a terrible mistake.

-----------

Amanda came later that evening to pick up Howard for the mysterious "Borrowing." After the two departed, Julia's anxiety must have been palpable. Everyone in the house noticed it. Finally, Ruth asked her directly.

"I just want to know that he's OK," Julia admitted. "He's everything to me. And I am a complete foreigner here. I have no idea what might be happening right now."

Ruth sat beside her and put a sympathetic hand on Julia's knee. "I'm sure nothing bad. It's just a Borrowing. But if you're uneasy, then that's not good." She turned to Mindy, who was doing her homework at the table. "Where do you think Amanda and Howard are right now?"

"Probably the bluffs."

"Can you take her, so that she doesn't feel so anxious? Maybe bring the male vision extenders. Her eyes are probably about a man's level."

Actually, worse than the average man, she silently admitted.

Male vision extenders turned out to be binoculars. Julia clung to them with sweaty palms as she watched Mindy take a two-door coupe down from its rack in the garage and then walk the car out to the driveway, balancing it vertically by the handle on the front bumper. Mindy walked with a sway in her step, as if it were the most natural thing in the world to carry a car and move like a runway model at the same time. Julia, following her, almost tripped on her own feet, and had to juggle to keep the binoculars from falling onto the concrete floor.

“You’re carrying a car and I can’t even handle a pair of binoculars,” Julia lamented softly.

Mindy raised an eyebrow. “Interesting. Your shoulders, your neck, your whole posture — it’s like you’re trying to shrink yourself down and make yourself even smaller.”

Julia forced herself to straighten a bit, wondering how she had become beholden to the opinions of a nineteen-year-old.

“I guess it makes sense,” the girl continued. “I make you feel small, don’t I? I’m taller. Stronger. More beautiful. You wonder how you could ever compare to that.”

Mindy raised and lowered her forearm in a smooth motion, just as Amanda had earlier. Her bicep swelled to something larger than a football with each contraction, a swelling clearly driven by the compression of the muscle rather than any exertion.

There was no shaking in her arm, not even a quiver. "You want to feel it again, don’t you?”

"No,” Julia said, meekly. “I already did that, in the caves?”

“So? Just because I had sex in the morning doesn’t mean I want to skip in the afternoon. If feels good to you. You want to do it again. I can tell.”

Julia's mind didn't know how to answer, but her feet did. She found herself walking, with some trepidation, to Mindy. The car above loomed black against the indigo of the night sky.

“It’s OK. Take your time. Experience what a real muscle is like."

She found her hand on Mindy's bicep, squeezing it gently at first, and then less so. It was like a warm, living stone. The girl did another bicep curl with the car. Julia felt the muscle spread her fingers wide as it swelled in the contraction.

The girl's skin was supple, flawless. There were no veins, none of the leathery look she had associated with bodybuilders. She smelled like flowers. "Wow," Julia whispered.

"You could have those," Mindy suggested.

"No… no," Julia recoiled. “I’m not ready.”

“Not ready?” Mindy smirked. “It’s about being ready? So then, it’s only a matter of time?”

-----------

The drive to the bluffs was brief. The sun had long since set, but the two moons illuminated the landscape in a bright, pale light. They parked at the top of the bluffs. Far below, the ocean surf rumbled. The air was fresh, but in constant movement – unsettled.

"There they are," Mindy pointed.

Julia followed Mindy's hand but saw nothing. She put the binoculars to her eye, and eventually was able to pick them out. They were on a bluff, far below, relaxing in the grass. A bottle of wine was lying on its side, apparently already empty.

Her heart sank. She had held out hope that Amanda's "Borrowing" of Howard was to help with a chore around the house, maybe some handyman-type thing at which men were particularly good. But, no, this was a date.

Julia pressed her eyes to the binoculars. They had been talking when she first spied them, but by now the talking had ceased. Amanda had stood up and turned to him. The two moons in the sky lit her body clearly. It was covered only in that tightly stretched leotard. The moonlight traced the hard lines of her body in a stark silhouette, showing the girl to be a paragon of muscular perfection.

Suddenly, Amanda slipped her arms through the shoulders of her leotard. She hooked two thumbs into the top of it and stretched it over her immense bust. The movement was slow.

"Amanda has to be careful," Mindy explained. "She has ripped lots of leotards like that. She's 56 inches in the bust. I'm only 52."

Julia braced her forearms against her 30-inch bust in order to stop them from shaking.

"How old is she?" Julia asked, her voice quivering as she peered into the binoculars with accumulating dread.

"Eighteen."

Eighteen, Julia thought, and spectacular. Her breasts – all 56 inches of them – were titanic and yet perfectly proportioned for her larger frame. Despite their size, her breasts were also ridiculously firm. With every movement, they bounced and swayed a bit, inviting Julia's gaze to follow, to linger. The girl's nipples were thicker than Julia's thumbs, so large that they were visible even through the binoculars. And her physique – she was a female version of Adonis, every scrap of her body smooth, and carved by the moonlight into sleek, hard curves. Her arms – the arms of the one that previously held a car aloft without effort – now dangled limp at her sides, swollen with unspent power. The girl's simple, short-cropped hair, cut in a simple bob, should have been her weak point. But its shortness served only to clear the view of her shoulders, muscles piled on top of more muscles piled on top of still more. The brawn of her upper torso was beast-like and yet blessed with a frightening beauty. I don't like the way she looks, Julia reminded herself. I'm not supposed to.

But still, seeing Amanda naked was… humbling. The girl in the binoculars was in nothing but her birthday suit, on a promontory that could be seen from any number of bluff-top points, and yet she had not a scrap of concern or shyness on her face. And why would she? If you could accept the idea of muscles on a female body, then the girl had nothing-- not a single thing-- that could be considered a flaw. Julia could only imagine the shame she herself would feel if she were buck naked in the moonlight, for anyone in the parking lot above to see. She drew her hospital windbreaker tight around her torso, taking some scant assurance in the coverage it offered.

"Howard doesn't like muscles on a girl," Julia announced, hoping that would be enough to stop this madness.

"It doesn't really matter,” Mindy said casually. “Amanda's so turned on, her pheromones will destroy whatever resistance he has.”

Julia watched Amanda saunter towards him. He put up a hand-- perhaps a protest of sorts. She giggled, making immense breasts wobble slightly. She placed his palms on them. And when her hands came off, his stayed.

A finger on the man's sternum lowered him to his knees. Before Julia knew it, he was naked, leaning back into the dune grass. His manhood rose quickly toward her. She mounted him in a quick, cat-like motion.

Her movements were fluid, authoritative. She was a tiger with its prey – except that the prey didn't die. It howled in unexpected ecstasy.

"See?" Mindy said as she returned to the car. "Nothing to worry about. Just a normal Borrowing."

-----------

Once again, Julia’s eyes were bloodshot from all the crying when Howard finally slunk into the room, close to dawn.

He looked at her tear-streaked face, and also at the crumpled pillow she had used to muffle her sobs from the ears of her hosts.

"Julia, before you say anything, I just want you to know that I did everything I could—"

"Shut up!" Julia snapped. "Shut up! I don't want to hear your pathetic excuses. The only thing I want is to get out of this hell."

Howard regarded her soberly.

"Did you…" Julia started

"Did I what?"

"Did you like it?"

"Julia…"

"I need to know, Howard. The truth."

He paused. "Do you really want that – the truth?"

Julia felt her face turn to stone. Howard would know that meant "yes."

"I don't know how to say this. Her body did things that I didn't know were poss—"

"She was only eighteen!" Julia spat, fresh sobs welling up inside of her. "She doesn't know the first thing about you! She's HALF your age! How could you tell me you enjoyed it? We've been dating for three years and I've been bested by a girl with no sexual experience!" Julia buried her face in the pillow.

"From the way she moved, I wouldn't say she was inexp—"

"Screw off!" She buried her face further. "Howard, I swear, I am going to do everything – everything in my power – to make sure you never do this to me again."


CHAPTER 4

-----------

SYNOPSIS UP TO THIS POINTJulia and Howard took a wrong turn in a Kentucky cave and tumbled out into a world of amazon women. They tried to return home – and failed. Now, they have realized that the only way to get back is to secure the help of the very women they are trying to get away from.

DISCLAIMER

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.

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"Not today, and not tomorrow either," Ruth replied as her husband served her another six-egg omelet. "I promised the family I would take them to the beach for the long weekend."

"A beach trip?" Julia pressed. "That takes precedence over getting us home?"

"Julia!" Howard put a cautionary hand on his shoulder. "It's not as if we'd be ready, anyway. We need time to study the maps, figure out an entrance with a better chance of getting us back where we started."

Julia silently fumed. A silence settled on the table. Her attention became lost in the billows of hot steam that rose off the hash browns.

Eventually, Ruth spoke. "Perhaps you'd like to come to the beach with us for the long weekend? Relax a little bit before crawling through those dirty caves again?"

"The beach is fun!" Becky, announced, before inserting her nose into her glass of Pre-Nourishment.

"You're very kind." Julia's diction was slow as she forced the courtesy back into her voice. "And you've been very generous with us. But I believe you can understand how critical it is that we discover the route home-- how distressing it is to be trapped in a foreign world."

Ruth's eyes were sympathetic. "I can certainly understand how strange it must be for you in particular, to grow up in an environment where men are stronger than women – and then to come here. The best I can do is make you comfortable for whatever time you are with us." Ruth turned to Howard. "Our beach house has plenty of room. And it has information web access: perhaps you can study up on the caves – whatever information has been published in our society – to find a better route home."

Howard nodded. "That sounds like a good plan to me."

"Who cares what YOU think?" It was their little girl, Becky. "You're a GUY."

"That's enough, Becky," Ruth chided. "But Becky is right. As the woman in the couple, it's her decision."

All eyes turned to Julia. "The beach does sound like fun… But all the women there – will they all look like you?"

"Well, some might have blond hair. Or black. Or maybe a different skin color. Some might be a little bit taller, or a little bit shorter."

"How short?"

"I don't know. Six-six, maybe?" Ruth replied.

"And not an inch of flab to be found anywhere?"

"What's FLAB, Mom?" Becky interjected.

"It's something that men have, honey."

Julia's heart sank downward toward her flabby thighs. How could she don a bathing suit and walk around half-naked next to these models of physical perfection?

Her gaze wandered the table. Becky was absently twirling a butter knife around her pinky finger, warping the stainless steel with remorseless power.

Ruth sighed. "Becky, do not play with your utensils. They're for eating, not for fiddling. And I'm tired of straightening them out."

Steel is nothing to the girl, Julia realized. And she’s just a girl! What would it be like to walk down a dark alley and never fear for my safety? She watched Ruth's powerful arms scoop another pound of hash browns out of the serving bowl. What would it be like to eat a huge fatty breakfast with abandon – as Ruth and her daughters were apparently doing now – and know that the extra pounds would be pure muscle? They get all that vitality from a costly medical procedure, and not from endless hours of training, but from something they can buy in the grocery store. Her eyes found their way to the refrigerator in the kitchen.

"I'm not going to the beach," Julia announced, sullen. "It would be humiliating. But Howard, you should go.”

"That sounds fine to me," Ruth agreed. "Mindy will be around the house for a few hours this morning practicing for her recital next month. Just let her know if you need anything. I hope you find the downtime… rejuvenating."

Howard opened his mouth to object, but Julia silenced him with a look.

Ruth appraised Julia with a knowing glint in her eye. "And of course, our house is your house, Julia. Feel free to help yourself to anything in the fridge."

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The sound of bright, elegant music tumbled down the stairs and filled the bedroom where Julia lay. Whatever instrument Mindy was playing, its sound was unfamiliar. Individual notes sounded like a flute or a clarinet, but Mindy was somehow producing entire chords, three or more notes at once, at dizzying speed. The sound was beautiful, even when heard through the pillow that Julia had stuffed over her unhappy head.

Julia growled into the bedding. "How could he be attracted to them?"

But she knew the answer. They were superior to her in every way. Howard would surely find their muscles intimidating. But their feminine curves, their supermodel faces, even their confidence— against them she didn’t stand a chance.

The music, blithe and indifferent, continued to torture her with its excruciating beauty.

"It doesn't matter," Julia screamed. "I'm happy the way I am. I'm happy with who I am. I don't need to be someone else!" As if to punctuate the point, she hurled the pillow across the room.

But that only opened her ears all the more to the excruciating beauty of the music Mindy produced. Fifteen years of playing the violin and Julia had never attained a sound so elegant.

“If only I could drink just a little,” Julia grumbled to herself. But she knew that, too, was a delusion. Drinking a little could only lead to drinking a lot. There would be no going back to Earth.

The music answered with carefree notes.

The walls of her guestroom constricted around her, as if she were in a prison cell of her own making. Julia found herself getting up out of bed and donning the same generously sized shirt and pants she had worn when first tumbling into this world. She jerked open the bedroom door and strode out.

The house was expansive, which made it all the more remarkable that one set of lungs was able to fill it with music. Traversing the living room took longer than a walk through Julia's entire house.

With Mindy occupied, Julia had the enormous residence to herself. She found herself wandering aimlessly, taking in the strangeness and wealth of this family's alien existence. The living room was perhaps one thousand square feet in size. The furniture was elegant and yet ribbed with steel supports, as if it were designed to withstand immense abuse. The fireplace was imposing. It featured a mysterious rack over the logs that seemed to contain drinking cups. Photographs of the family adorned the walls – Ruth and Mindy towering over the father and brothers, young Becky standing shoulder-to-shoulder with her father.

The entertainment room was huge, almost like a tiny movie theater. Following the music upstairs, Julia found the kids' rooms, as well as no fewer than three guest bedrooms, and the master bedroom. The doors to the kids' rooms were closed, but the master bedroom was ajar. Julia poked her head in.

The bed was littered with scraps of cloth. She picked up one of the scraps and found it to be in the shape of small triangles. A bikini top, she muttered. The triangles were not even large enough to be drink coasters! She found some matching string, in the shape of a "Y". That must be the bottom, she realized – a thong. Julia quickly grabbed at the other scraps of cloth on the bed and realized that they, too, were swimsuits. Sewing them all together wouldn't produce even one suit with the covering Julia needed at the beach. She threw the cloth onto the bed in frustration. Wearing this stuff was tantamount to nudity! Who could get away with it?

If Julia was reluctant to admit the answer, the family photos on the dresser were happy to provide it. There was Ruth, clad the same raspberry-colored bikini that was sitting on the bed. The woman was in her mid-40's, at least, but sported a body that 22-year-old college students could only dream about. In fact, they couldn't even dream about it: a body like Ruth's would hardly have been imaginable to Julia before she saw it with her own eyes. Titanic tits of unreal firmness shaped the triangles of her top into raspberry-colored pyramids. Thighs like cannons, biceps like cannonballs – every inch of her were carved muscle. To top it off, she beamed smile that could have brought warring armies to peace.

She can wear next to nothing and never give it a second thought, Julia realized with disgust.

Her husband was in the picture, too, sitting on top of her bicep as she flexed it, feet dangling like a kid's from a playground swing. The swelling of her watermelon-shaped arm muscle must have thrown him off balance: he was yelling with playful alarm as he groped for her more stable forearm in order to keep himself from going over.

So fucking powerful, Julia thought. She's being gentle, but really, he's nothing more than a toy to her.

To call her beautiful was wholly inadequate. Her fine feminine features were complemented by such strength, such confidence, that she was simply radiant. Ruth was more than Julia had ever thought a woman could be.

Julia picked up the raspberry-colored bikini from the bed and turned it over in her hands. The woman that belonged in those little strips of cloth was out at the beach, turning heads on the sand by day, keeping her husband busy in bed at night — while I'm here in the house, hiding.

A rotten ache of jealousy developed in her gut. I wish I could have what she has, Julia thought as the scraps of cloth tumbled out of her fingers. Without remembering how she got there, Julia soon found herself in the kitchen. Like everything else, it was enormous, well-equipped, spotless. Eating would make me feel better, she thought. That must be why I'm here, she reassured herself. She opened the refrigerator door. Cheeses, fruit, yogurt and other items were inside. The food looked fresh enough, but for some reason, it wasn't appetizing.

Closing the door of the first fridge, Julia turned her attention to the second one – the one which contained the Nourishment. Her mind wandered back to her journey through the wilderness with Howard – the anxiety and the fear of being in a foreign place, but then also the deep satisfaction that came from eating that fruit for the first time. It satiated her body in a way that no other food had ever done. What's more, it made her look good – not just healthy, but a little bit slimmer, a little bit more athletic. It had done more for her in a day than countless diet regimens had done in years. The result had not been lost on Howard, and that – the way she aroused him that night – had been the best part of all.

How much harm could come from sipping just a little bit of the fruit concentrate, having its wonderful taste back on her lips, feeling the joys of looking just a little bit trimmer? That seems harmless enough to me, Julia assured herself.

With her mind thus at ease, she grasped the handle of the fridge, and she tugged.

Nothing happened. She yanked harder – still nothing. She looked for a lock or some other type of closure mechanism, but saw none. Jamming her foot into the crack between the door and the body of the fridge, she placed both hands on the handle and leaned back. Nothing. It was like trying to pull a handle that had been screwed into solid rock. So hungry was she for the Diana fruit that she could almost taste it in her mouth, feel its raw energy coursing through her blood.

Julia scanned the fridge for buttons to push, levers to trip. There was nothing. Damn it. She fastened both hands over the panel and yanked --hard.

"WARNING." It was a pre-recorded message, being emitted from some speaker on the refrigerator itself. "Appliance Intended for Nourishment Only. Nourishment is Toxic to Males. Multiple Unsuccessful Attempts To Open Door Have Been Detected…"

Julia swore to herself. She searched desperately for the speaker on the refrigerator, hoping to shut if off.

But the appliance droned on with its pre-recorded speech. "WARNING. Possible Attempt at Male Access Detected. Refrigerated Compartment is Negatively Pressurized to Prevent Unauthorized Access. Nourishment is Toxic to Males. WARNING mpfhh mfpfh mpfhf mpffhf mppfh……"

Julia had finally found the speaker and covered it with a dishtowel. So caught up was she with the yammering appliance that she hadn't noticed the silence from upstairs. The music had stopped.

"Can I help you with something?" It was Mindy, standing at the foot of the stairs.

"No," Julia replied, reddening. "I was just poking around, just… curious."

Mindy strode into the kitchen, her heavy legs THUD-THUD-THUDing in the house's silence. She wore a stretchy white miniskirt that hugged every sinful curve of the girl's bottom. Her top was a lavender sleeveless collared blouse that would have been normal if not for the fact that fully half the buttons were unfastened. That left a deep valley of cleavage on open display. Is there any outfit in her collection, Julia wondered, that doesn't constitute a form of bragging?

"I was just looking for some yogurt or cheese or something," Julia lied, slipping the dishtowel discreetly back onto the counter.

"Wrong fridge. The one on the right is for Nourishment. Strange that you managed to set the alarm off – that usually only happens when someone really yanks on it."

"I guess I was hungry," Julia muttered. "Hope I didn't break anything. Back home, we never put locks on our refrigerators."

"It's not a lock. They designed the fridge to suck all the air out of itself. You need like 300 pounds of force to open the door. Good for keeping people like my brother out." Mindy hooked two fingers around the handle and swung the door open.

I feel so silly, Julia thought to herself as she backed away from the appliance. Nonetheless, as Mindy reached in, Julia stole a glance over her shoulder. The jugs were bigger than one would normally find in a house – varying between two feet tall and four feet tall. So much… so much wonderful juice.

Mindy grabbed one of the larger bottles and kicked the door closed. "There's a strange look in your eyes, you know."

I need to change the topic, Julia realized – now. "What kind of instrument were you playing?"

"You want to watch me play it?"

Julia only nodded in reply, anything to get away from the mockery of a juice-filled fridge that she couldn't access. Mindy kicked the door of the refrigerator closed.

Julia found herself following the girl's expansive, carved thighs up the stairs. The girl flopped herself down on a huge bean bag and patted the seat next to her.

Julia sat.

The instrument reminded Julia of an oversized, distorted harmonica: a rounded mass with a dozen of apertures across which one could blow air. There were perhaps eight finger valves for each aperture. "Your airflow has to be precise," Mindy explained, as she took a swig from the bottle. "You have to hit all twelve holes at once with the same air pressure. Men can't do it."

"That seems to be a theme around here."

"Men aren't that good at music generally. Some of them try to compete – spend their whole lives practicing this thing. But I was better than the best male player by the time I was in high school. People watch male performers only for their entertainment value."

"Entertainment value?"

"Sure. Like watching a ferret ride a tiny unicycle. Weird, kind of funny. Interesting — mostly because it’s so pathetic."

Mindy placed her fingers on the valves, pursed her lips, and blew. An enchanting sound filled the room – a chord, or several, in a warm and earthy tone.

She took another swig from the bottle, "It helps to wet your mouth first with a little liquid," Mindy elaborated. She returned her attention to the instrument. The song undulated into greater complexity.

Julia watched the young girl's fingers race across the valves at a virtuoso's speed. As Julia listened, she noticed that something else filled the room as well. It was that sweet, fruity scent --- demanding Julia's attention. She felt her limbs quiver slightly with need. At the next break in the music, Julia found herself whispering, "That smell… the fruit… it was so nice."

"What, this?" Mindy blew a gentle breeze across her companion.

Julia felt woozy when the sweetness hit her.

Mindy took another swig of the Nourishment--- a big, sloppy gulp that left a trail of stickiness running down her cheek. It reminded Julia of that night in the wilderness, how the fruit had dribbled over her chin and down her neck, how she was still sticky with it when Howard had cleaned it off using only affectionate kisses.

Mindy shifted her position to look Julia straight in the eye. "Why were you poking around the kitchen earlier?"

Julia's knees nearly went out from under her at the inviting aroma. "I… I don't know. I guess I was curious."

"Curious about what?" Mindy watched as Julia's eyes roamed the girl's massive biceps. She flexed easily, her arm exploding to unreal proportions. "Curious about that?"

"No, no," Julia tried to object, as a soft moan escaped her lips. "I already know that you're strong. I've seen it."

"But then what are you curious about? What it feels like to have muscles like these?" Her arm still in a flex, she casually turned her wrist outward, bringing iron-hard definition to every one of her extraordinary muscles. “Or how easy it is to get them?”

Julia’s mind was an anxious blank, searching for a way to preserve her dignity.

Unconcerned, Mindy took another swig from the bottle, delectable drops of beige liquid tumbled off her lips.

Julia again breathed deeply the inviting scent, and her mind swooned with need.

"Why did you arrange to have the house to ourselves this morning?" Mindy asked.

"I didn't arrange…"

“Uh-huh.”. Mindy grinned.

"I needed some time to myself, I guess."

"To think?" Mindy shifted her position on the bean bag and was suddenly much closer to Julia's lips. "Or to explore?"

"I feel so inferior to all the women here." Her voice was meek. "It's hard for me to even set foot outside the house. You girls command everything that's around you."

"Not everything. Sometimes, the sensations we experience overwhelm us."

"What do you mean?"

"They've done studies." Mindy extended herself in a languid motion across the bean bag, its contours nestling around her perfect hourglass figure. "A woman goes off Nourishment for a few months and returns to her un-Nourished body. And then she goes back on Nourishment and notes the differences. When they were un-Nourished, women didn't say they felt bad, per se. But when they went back on Nourishment, they were shocked at how much better everything felt. They had more energy. Colors seemed brighter. Smells were more appealing. And of course, they were stronger and all that stuff too. But the best difference that all the women noticed was sex."

"The sex?" Julia tried not to sound as intrigued as she felt. She remembered back to the night in the woods, in Howard's arms-- it had been unforgettable. And that had happened only after she had consumed all that fruit.

"Yes, the studies showed that the sex was, like, a hundred times better. Just getting your nipple sucked in a Nourished body was like having three or four orgasms in an un-Nourished one."

Julia's eyes found their way to the girl's chest. Her nipple, thicker than a broom handle and probably harder as well, protruded triumphantly into the thin material of the girl's top. Julia tried to remember the last time, apart from that night in the woods, that she had had an orgasm. Had it been months or longer? And when was the last time she had experienced two in the same session? Her hands trembled at the thought. She found her gaze back on the girl's erect nipple.

"You're staring," Mindy noticed. "And it's turning me on."

At that moment, a musk of some sort flooded Julia's nostrils and brought with it a heavy wave of heated sensations. Julia stumbled, trying to clear her head. "What's happening to me?"

"It's my pheromones, silly."

Julia gazed with longing at the luxurious brown of the girl's eyes. "I don't… I don't understand."

"Whenever we're turned on, we can release pheromones that turn the wills of weaker beings to jelly. You like it?"

The delicate wisps of musk that had reached Julia's nose earlier were now replaced by a thick cloud. Julia's heart raced. Her breathing shallowed. And her thoughts scattered like bowling pins tumbling away from a well-aimed ball. I've got to have her, Julia's mind screamed. I've GOT to. Her hands flailed about, seeking the floor or anything that could hold her.

"That's what happened to Howard in the bath. He tried to resist touching me. I don't know why, but he really tried. It was so cute. But the more he tried to deny his desire, the more it turned me on, so there was no hope for him. I completely crushed his will. Having that kind of power over men – it's is my favorite part of being Nourished."

Julia felt another wave of desire hit her. The nipple was still there, its shape and hardness clearly defined under the thin fabric of her top.

“Stop, Mindy, please!” Julia begged breathlessly. ”I’m not a lesbian!”

“What’s a Les Bian?”

“A lesbian…” The musk was obliterating her rational thought. She felt like she was in a shoving contest with a freight train. “… it’s a woman who loves women rather than men.”

“You guys have categories?” The girl asked with complete innocence, even as her scent was pulling Juila’s mind apart with complete malevolence. “Why not make love too both? I don’t get what the issue is.”

“Howard and I are in a committed relationship,” Julia protested, desperate for the assault to stop.

But Mindy's face only screwed up in sweet confusion. "What's a 'committed relationship'?"

“Please Mindy…”

“OK, fine. WhatEVER.” The mind-bending musk in the air began to dissipate.

Propping herself on wobbly arms, Juila took several deep breaths before answering. "A committed relationship is like your mom and your dad.”

“Step-dad, Mindy corrected.

“Oh. Sorry. Step-dad.” Julia spaced her words carefully, her lungs still laboring to replace the musk with much needed fresh air. “A committed relationship is like your mom and your step-dad. It’s not like she’s at that beach house right now sleeping around with other men.”

"Not right now." Mindy shook her head. "Not before lunch. She likes to wear him out in the morning and then make love to the rest of her harem in the afternoon.”

Julia needed a moment to take in the implications. "She has a harem, like male concubines?”

Mindy bit her lip and nodded. "All women have multiple partners."

"How the hell does your Step-dad feel about that— sharing her with other men?"

"He feels great about it. Women need more than a single man can offer – far more. He would never want the pressure of meeting all of her needs. But at the same time, she's more than capable of meeting all his needs. So, being Claimed — that is the best of both worlds: he gets all the affection he can handle, and when his body reaches its limit, other men can step in to answer the call.”

"Claimed?” Julia had heard that term before. “What do you mean by Claimed?”

"It means they belong to my mother. Once a man agrees to be Claimed by a woman, he is hers, and only hers, for the rest of his life.”

“So, she will have many sexual partners, but he will have only her?”

“Of course.” Mindy shrugged her shoulders, the massive piles of muscle moving up and down slightly. “Superior. Inferior. All men understand the natural order."

"I'm not sure Howard would! If he's not going to touch other women, then I' m not going to touch other men. He and I are equal partners.”

"That’s your problem. You believe in equality."

Mindy sighed, raising her hands above her head in a stretch. The girl’s immense breasts jutted up and out —- so supple, and yet so firm, and so immense — made even larger by Mindy’s perfect ballerina-straight posture. Her thin film of a top was stretched to its limit, like an overtaxed dam in a spring flood.

“I’m tired of this thing,” Mindy announced, genuinely annoyed. began unbuttoning her top, without ceremony, as if toplessness were the most natural thing in the world. Button by button, the dam broke and the floodwaters surged forward in immense swells. Her breasts were as shapely as they were huge— round and heavy and yet perfectly teardrop-shaped. “Isn’t that better?”

Oh my god, yes, Julia thought.

Once she had shrugged out of the top, Mindy indulged in a stretch. The “V” of her back flaring to twice a man’s width, her mind-blowing muscles dramatically expanding apparently delighted to no longer be holding back.

"You like my body, don't you?" Mindy purred.

Julia shivered. She was oh… so… sexy. “You want to touch them, don't you, to see if they are for real?"

Suddenly, it was Julia's hands that were providing the answers, cupping the girl's breasts-- their incredible volume, their incredible firmness. The girl seemed to savor the touch: Mindy arched her back sharply, jutting the masses further into Julia's greedy hands. Julia’s fingers wandered carefully until they found the girl's nipples. The size of strawberries, they blossomed excitedly at the touch.

Julia found herself holding her breath, as if she were in a temple so sacred that the slightest sound would blaspheme it.

She grasped the nipple between thumb and forefinger, running the pad of her thumb over the rough surface. The moan that escaped Mindy's lips shook the older woman with its power, like a roll of thunder.

"You weren't kidding about the arousal…” Julia whispered. “…you feel it more powerfully."

“Do you know how long the euphoria lingers from one of my orgasms? Twenty-four hours.”

Oh wow. Julia didn’t know what turned her on more: the girl or imagining how the girl experienced love.

Mindy smiled. “You want that, don't you?"

Julia tried to take a steadying breath.

"And you want to know what it's like to be hundreds of times stronger than you are now – to never fear for your safety again?"

Julia bit her lip, as if pinning it down would prevent her from speaking.

"And you want to know what it's like to have all your blemishes removed – to be beautiful? To drive Howard mad with desire whenever you feel like it?"

Her teeth dug into her lip. Don’t answer… don’t answer… don’t answer.

“That’s OK, you don’t have to tell me.” Mindy raised the bottle of Nourishment back to her lips.

Julia kept her hands on the girl’s breasts, their firmness steadying her. But then she slipped, her palms raking across the girl’s nipples.

The action again sent Mindy into shivers, causing her to hold on the bottle to falter. Droplets of sweet-smelling Nourishment spilled over the girl’s chin and down her chest.

“You made a mess,” Mindy pouted.

“I’m sorry. I’ll clean it up.” Julia began to get up. “Let me get a rag.”

Mindy arrested her with a finger on the shoulder. “You don’t need a rag.”

The finger, capable of lifting who-knows-how-many pounds, pulled Julia’s body back in. She found her lips only a breath from the errant droplets of Nourishment that formed a line down the girl’s breast. The line of dots only served to accentuate the pleasing curvature— and its size. It was bigger than Julia’s head.

“You could have tits like that, you know. You could have them tomorrow.”

Julia’s body shook. “Eight feet tall— it would be such a big change for me.”

“So?”

“I couldn’t return to my life on Earth.”

“So?”

“Howard might have to go home without me— forever.”

“OK, whatever. Have it your way.” The girl stretched yet again, her breast rising and filling Juila’s field of view.

Before she knew what was happening, Julia's lips were raking over the flesh of Mindy’s breast. It was smoother than the smoothest silk. Embroidered into that silk were little gemstones of Nourishment, each one sending her senses into overdrive.

With a will of their own, Julia’s lips followed the droplets down the exceptional swell of the girl’s breast, to her nipple. Julia’s felt her lips trace its circumference, test its solidity. Mindy’s nub was as wide as Howard’s cock— and so much harder. She was more than a man ever could be. Julia’s teeth raked the surface. The girl’s body again shook in jubilant reply.

Another dribble of Nourishment wandered across Julia’s peripheral vision.

“Oops,” Mindy announced. “You made me spill some more.”

This rivulet slid down the side of Mindy’s breast, down onto her equally curvaceous bicep, which rested against her side. Entranced, Julia chased it with her tongue, her resistance to the wonderful taste of the juice quickly deteriorating. The bicep, too, was bigger than Julia’s head and made of such unyielding stone that Mindy had to shift the boulder in order for Julia to get it clean. The hardness of it sent shivers through Julia.

“Uh-oh. You did it again.” Mindy announced without a hint of regret. Another rivulet was running down her body, seeding down the narrow chasm of the girl’s cleavage, and then spreading over midriff. Before she could think better of it, Julia’s lips were crisscrossing the girl’s dome-like abdominal muscles. Soft peach fuzz skin adorned the slopes, but underneath, those peaks were made of pure marble.

Without warning, the drip-drip of the rivulet became a river. Mindy flexed, the domes of her abdominal region suddenly sprang up into a mountain range. What had once been a furrow between rows of muscle became a deep valley. It soon filled like a reservoir, unreal relief of the girl’s muscles easily containing the liquid.

So much wonderful liquid. Every cell in Julia’s body craved it. Julia turned to the teenager, uncertain about what to do.

“You said you’d clean it all up,” the girl teased.

The Nourishment was sweet and inviting as ever. I'll taste just this little bit, she thought, just enough to play along with this stupid game. But when Julia's lips touched the surface of the pond, her senses exploded. Before she knew it, she was inhaling the liquid in deep gulps. Her mouth, her throat burned with joy. She lapped up every bit of what remained, running her eager tongue over the hard, hilly terrain of the girl's midriff before exploring the tiny folds of the girl's navel, her tongue desperate for every last drop.

When Julia looked up at the girl, Julia's expression must have been pure, unabated thirst, because Mindy reacted wordlessly. Before Julia's conscious mind could catch up, it was Julia, and not Mindy, who was reclining against the beanbag. The powerful girl straddled her now, holding the massive bottle to Julia's lips.

It all happened so quickly. There was no time for her mind to continue to resist. Mindy tipped the bottle back with expert precision, and Julia found herself consuming the liquid with a hunger she had not previously known.

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