Baker's Dozen – Chapter 04
Written by argonaut :: [Wednesday, 14 August 2013 12:53] Last updated by :: [Friday, 14 August 2015 22:07]
Reaching into his gym locker, Bobby took his trousers from the hook and slid his hand inside the pocket. He breathed a sigh of relief. The card was still there. Sometimes kids had stuff stolen from their lockers during PE, but Bobby was always careful to lock his. Still, he was glad to have the card back in his hand.
Quickly, he finished dressing, grabbed his bookbag, and tossed his wet towel into the bin on his way out of the locker room. Now that the final period was over, he wanted to think about the card and the events of the day.
He hadn't used the card since the episode in the library that morning. Not that he hadn't been tempted – when Lisa Crandall brushed against him in the hallway between classes, or when Melissa Pettigrew slid into the seat next to his in French class. But Ms. Bartlett's transformation had confirmed what he'd already guessed. The card hadn't just made her super – it had reached back in time, rewritten the past, so that she'd always been super … or at least long enough for people to be aware of it.
Bobby had read enough science fiction to know the perils of altering the past. Listening to the discussion of current events in his civics class that afternoon, he'd been relieved to find that the world didn't seem to have changed in any drastic way. Barack Obama was still President, Congress was still squabbling over the budget, the Miami Heat were still on their winning streak. Still, who knew what unexpected consequences the next wish might bring about?
Next time I use the card, he thought, I'd better be thinking with my head and not my –
Oops. Glancing down, he saw that one of his shoelaces had come untied. He looked around for a place to sit. The door of the weight room was open. Bobby stepped inside and sat down on one of the benches lining the walls.
There were two students at the other end of the room, by the weight machines. Greg Marston was an upperclassman: three-season varsity athlete, homecoming king, and – in Bobby's opinion – an all-round jerk with an arrogant swagger that set his teeth on edge. He was stacking weights on a workout machine while his girl friend Megan Danforth looked on.
Megan was the captain of the cheerleading squad and the undisputed queen bee of the student body. She was wearing her uniform – a short pleated skirt, blue with yellow trim, that showcased her long, shapely legs and a matching halter top. She seemed to be bored watching Greg fiddle with the weights. She wandered over to a forty-pound barbell lying on the matted floor. Brushing her lustrous black hair over her shoulders, she bent over and gave the barbell a tentative tug.
Greg glanced over his shoulder at her, grinning. “Better stick to the hand weights, babe.”
“Hey, lots of girls work out with barbells.”
“Sure – muscle freaks. Is that what you want to look like?”
Megan held up her slender arms and regarded them critically. “No, but a little definition might look nice, don't you think?”
Greg shrugged. “Whatever turns you on, babe. But I don't know why you chicks bother.” He flexed an arm to show off his biceps. “Guys are stronger. That's just the way it is.”
“Screw you. That is so … showmanistic.”
Greg stepped behind Megan and wrapped his arms around her waist. “You want a real workout?” he grinned, lifting her up off the floor.
“Let go!” Bobby could see that Megan was getting seriously annoyed.
“Hah! Make me.” Greg laughed as Megan squirmed, tugging at his wrists, then put her down and strolled back to the weight machine. Megan, red-faced and flustered, bent over the forty-pound barbell again.
Time to wipe that smirk off his face, thought Bobby, slipping his hand into his pocket and touching the card.
Megan was scowling as she grabbed the barbell. “God, you are such a –”
“I wish she was super!” Bobby whispered.
The transformation was almost instantaneous this time. One moment, Megan was raising the barbell knee-high; then she swept it up to shoulder level in a smooth, swift arc; then, standing up straight in a perfect weight-lifter's position, she thrust it over her head.
Bobby stared. The barbell was bending under the weight of the massive plates stacked at both ends. How heavy was it? Bobby estimated that it must weigh a ton or more. And even at a distance, he could see that Megan had acquired some impressive definition. Firm, shapely muscles bulged along her arms and rippled down her bare abdomens she held the barbell overhead
“Hey, Greg,” she said. “Check it out.”
“That's swell, Megan,” Greg muttered. He didn't even look up.
Megan pouted. “You're not looking.” She was holding the barbell with one arm now, twirling it like a baton, with her other hand resting casually on an outthrust hip.
Greg glanced up. “Jeez, Megan,” he said, jumping back. “Be careful with that thing.”
Megan snorted. “Scaredy-cat.” But she set the massive barbell down.
Strolling back to the weight machine, she reached for one of the dangling cables and hooked a forefinger around the grip. She moved her finger back and forth, watching the stack of weights slide up and down, up and down, smoothly and effortlessly.
“Gosh, sweetie,” she said. “Think you can handle all this weight?”
“Knock it off, Megan,” Greg scowled. “I'm trying to work out here.”
“Let me help.” Megan grabbed his wrists, giggling as Greg tried to break her grip.
“Let go!” he snapped.
Megan pushed him back against the wall, pinning his wrists to the cinderblock surface. She leaned in until her chest and face were nearly touching his. “Make me,” she murmured.
Red-faced with effort and mortification, Greg struggled to free himself, but to no avail. Neither of them seemed to be aware of Bobby, who sat watching, transfixed, from the bench by the door.
“Here,” said Megan. “I'll make it easy for you.” Releasing his wrists, she laid a finger on Greg's chest. Greg placed his hands against the wall behind him and pushed with all his strength, but it was no use. He was helpless – pinned to the wall by Megan's perfectly-manicured finger.
“Come on, Megan,” he pleaded. “This isn't funny.”
Megan was casually inspecting the nails of her free hand. “Oh, all right.” She drew her finger back, snickering as Greg stumbled forward and fell to the matted floor. Flustered, he picked himself up and headed for the door by the weight machines.
“You know something?” he shouted from the doorway. “The other guys were right about you!” Then he was gone.
“Yeah, well, screw you!” Megan shouted. Turning, she stormed off toward the door by the bench where Bobby was sitting.
She shot an angry glance at Bobby as she strode past. “What are you looking at?” she snapped.
Bobby could feel his face turning red. “N-nothing,” he stammered. “I mean, I was just –” He gestured vaguely at the bookbag lying by his feet.
Megan's expression softened. “Sorry,” she muttered. She sat down next to Bobby. “It's just – he pisses me off, you know?”
Bobby nodded noncommittally.
“People think I'm a b-- a you-know-what,” she went on. “But I'm not.” She sighed. “Back when my super-powers started to kick in, I was going out with Todd Gilmore. You know Todd?”
“Uh, not personally.” Todd was a senior, the star quarterback on the school's football team.
“Yeah, well, that didn't last long. He couldn't handle the fact that his girl friend was so much stronger than he was, and everyone knew it. Like I was supposed to keep it a secret or something. I think the other guys on the team were razzing him about it. Some stupid guy thing. No offense.”
She sighed. “Well, since then I've gone out with just about every jock in the school, and it's always the same. They say they're cool with my super-powers and everything, but pretty soon they get all bent out of shape on account of I'm a gazillion times stronger than they are.”
She sat pouting for a moment, then turned toward Bobby. “So what do you think?”
“Me?” squeaked Bobby.
“Yeah. You're Bobby Baker, right? I've heard about you. Geeky but smart – that's the word around school. So tell me, genius – what do you think I should do?”
Bobby cleared his throat nervously. “Well, um – maybe you could try dating someone who isn't a jock?”
Megan snorted. “Yeah, right. I'm a cheerleader. I have to date jocks.”
Megan shrugged. “It's some kind of unwritten rule.”
“But an athlete feels he has to be stronger and faster than everyone else. So yeah, they feel threatened by your strength. But if you went out with a guy who wasn't all wrapped up in that macho jock stuff – you see what I mean?”
Megan looked at him with wide, admiring eyes. “Wow. You are smart. That was so Dr. Phil. But do you really think there are guys out there who'd get off on dating a super-girl?”
Megan nodded slowly. “That'd be sweet,” she said wistfully. She gave Bobby a sidelong glance. “Can you keep a secret?”
“Uh – sure.”
She opened her mouth to speak, then looked away. “Nah. You'd think I was weird.”
“No – honest.”
“Well … It's just that I really get off on having a guy watch while I do super stuff. It's like a turn-on, you know?”
Bobby nodded. He hoped she wouldn't notice the bulge in his trousers.
Megan sighed. “But the guy has to be into it, too,” she added. “Otherwise, it's just … meh.” She glared at the door across the room, then shrugged. “Weird, huh?”
“No!” squeaked Bobby. He cleared his throat. “I mean, I'd be into it.”
He blushed as Megan gazed at him appraisingly. Then her lips slowly curled into a grin. “I bet you would,” she chuckled. She stood up. “All right. Let's go.”
Bobby blinked. “Go? Where?”
“Shuster Park. I'm in the mood for a real workout. You know that old World War II tank sitting out by the lake?”
“Yeah … “
“How'd you like to spot me while I do some push presses?”
Bobby's head was spinning. “Uh … okay … “
“And afterward we can go for a dip in the lake. I know this nice private spot.”
“But I – I don't have my swim trunks with me.”
“Oh, gee. And I didn't bring a swimsuit. I guess we'll have to do without.”
Bobby's eyes widened as comprehension dawned.
“Okay, then, let's go.” She clapped her hands.
Bobby grunted as he strained to lift his overstuffed bookbag. “Here, I'll get that,” said Megan, reaching down and hooking her forefinger into the strap. Bobby watched, open-mouthed, as she casually slung the heavy bag over her shoulder as if it were a sweater.
Megan grinned. “You liked that, didn't you?”
Megan laid a hand on Bobby's head and rumpled his hair. “Well, this is your lucky day, kiddo,” she grinned. “ 'Cause I am gonna rock your wor –”
A bang! Echoed through the workout room. Bobby and Megan turned around. The door at the other end of the room was hanging by a single hinge, and Cindy Corliss was hurrying toward them.
“Bobby!” she exclaimed. “I've been looking all over for you. We were supposed to meet in the lobby after school, remember?” She laid a hand on his arm. “Let's go.”
“Sorry, Blondie,” Megan drawled, taking Bobby's other arm in hers. “Bobby's made other plans, and they don't include you.”
“Bobby?” There was a tremor in Cindy's voice, and a reproachful expression in her big blue eyes. “Is this true?”
Bobby looked down, his face reddening.
“Oh, it's true, all right,” smirked Megan. “Now if you'll excuse us –” She began pulling Bobby toward the door behind them.
“Not so fast!” Bobby stumbled as Cindy pulled him back toward her. “Bobby and I made our date this morning, so he should go with me.”
Megan shrugged. “Not if he wants to trade up.”
Cindy leaned down until her face was level with Bobby's. “Bobby – sweetie” she cooed, gazing earnestly into his eyes. “Who would you rather be with – her … or me?” She stood up straight, bringing her magnificent chest level with Bobby's eyes.
“Oh, no, you don't.” Megan drew Bobby toward her, letting him feel the soft round bulge of her breast against his shoulder, the firm round bulge of her biceps against his arm. “Why don't you just run along and –”
It was Ms. Bartlett. The girls had been so intent on their quarrel, and Bobby on keeping his balance, that they hadn't noticed her come in. Standing behind Bobby, she laid her hands on his shoulders.
“Bobby promised to help me out in the library after school. Isn't that right, Bobby?”
Bobby gulped. Uh-oh …
“Bobby!” exclaimed Cindy indignantly.
“Ms. Bartlett?” said Megan. “Ewww! She's, like, your mom's age.”
“I'll be twenty-six next month,” said Ms. Bartlett primly. “So I'm hardly old enough to be Bobby's mother. But I am old enough to pull rank on the two of you – so Bobby's coming with me. A promise is a promise – right, Bobby?” The last two words were a seductive whisper; Bobby could feel the warm caress of her breath in his ear.
But he was hardly listening. Cindy's hand was squeezing one arm, his other arm was pressed tight against Megan's, and Ms. Bartlett's fingers were digging into his shoulders. He staggered back and forth as the three of them pulled him this way and that, their voices raised now in angry altercation.
“Bobby's with me!”
“Let go of him! He's mine!”
With mounting panic, Bobby realized that he was caught in a tug-of-war between the three most powerful females on the planet. In the heat of their squabble, a careless tug or squeeze from any one of them could break a bone – or worse. A sentence from the mysterious letter he'd received that morning popped into his mind.
“Wishes are non-revocable, and the cardholder is solely responsible for their consequences …”