LaPorte Caves – Chapter 11
Written by circes_cup :: [Friday, 06 May 2016 19:26] Last updated by :: [Friday, 06 May 2016 21:46]
SYNOPSIS TO THIS POINT: A wrong turn in a Kentucky cave landed Howard and Julia in an alien world – a world run by amazon women whose supernatural strength was derived for a mysterious drink called Nourishment. The couple made a pact to get back home as soon as possible, but Julia broke her promise by experimenting with the Nourishment, and quickly becoming an amazon herself. To make amends for this betrayal, she used her amazon abilities to discover a route back to Earth. But the idea of taking that route is looking less and less appealing in the face of other temptations
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.
By the time Julia made it back to the house, she could feel the heat of her arousal beginning to dissipate, and her head beginning to clear.
The women's guest bath was a study in luxury: marble wainscoting, mother-of-pearl accents and brushed nickel faucets kept immaculately clean. They had spared no expense. And why would they? Ruth had plenty of money. Most women in the country had plenty of money: their superior intellect almost guaranteed it. If Howard and I had decided to stay here, Julia lamented, I'd be rich too.
The shower featured no fewer than six shower-heads: four pointed down from the top and two, mysteriously, positioned at belly button level, pointing up. The tub was triangular and huge, easily ten feet along each side, constructed of solid marble. So great was the tub that no shower curtain was needed: the spray from the shower heads and jets in one corner of the triangle did not even reach the opposite wall of the tub. Perhaps that was another advantage of living in a society where women feel little need for privacy: you could save fifteen bucks on a shower curtain.
Julia climbed into this expanse and turned it onto ice cold. The feeling of the water cascading down her neck, her shoulders, her backside was delightful. The salt from half a day on the ocean, the scummy muck from that pond, the soot of the bonfire, the stress and raw emotion of the day-- all of it quickly washed down the drain. This will be my last shower in this world, she reminded herself, so I'd better make it count.
A wood block labeled “Exfoliating scrub” hung near the shower. It was lined with quartz crystals. She remembered scraping herself on quartz as a girl – how much it had hurt, how deep the cuts had been, how long it took for the red lines of scab to heal. And indeed, this scrub featured a warning label on the back, “For Female Use Only.” No longer questioning the abilities of her body, she applied the quartz scrub to her skin with several hundred pounds of force. Dry skin and filth flaked away, leaving behind a newly invigorated body. If she had done that to solid oak, she knew, it would have shred the wood into a frizee. But against her far tougher skin, it felt great. This will be the last time my skin feels this good, she reminded herself, so I'd better make it count.
She lathered her hands with the shower gel, which filled the shower with its floral scent. Julia spread the foam over her calves, her hands swelling wide around the softball-sized muscle. Her hands slid up the generous swell of her thighs, over the muscles that had so humiliated her boyfriend during the swim lesson. After that disastrous session in the water, she had almost wished them to be smaller and weaker. But in the hands of her new acquaintance, those wishes had evaporated like steam hissing of a washcloth. Benjamin had all but worshipped her thighs, following their generous swells with an amount of care usually reserved for sculpture.
How many thousands of pounds of force could those thighs exert, Julia wondered? And what were they called, anyway? Quadriceps? She wasn't sure. She laughed to think how a body builder back home might react – the look on his face when he realized that even a lifetime of whatever those exercises were called – squats, maybe? -- he could achieve less than a hundredth of her strength. She had become a female version of Adonis without even knowing the names of the stuff involved.
Her gel-laden hands enjoyed coursing over the her arms built like cannons, the formidable wedge of muscle that united her shoulders and neck, the rippling inverted wedge of muscle that defined her upper back. Before coming to this world, muscles on a woman had seemed unattractive to her. But, oh, how quickly perceptions can change! Using only a washcloth and his own sense of awe, Benjamin had made her feel pretty again. No, not pretty. Sexy. No, not just sexy. Had made her feel like a sex goddess – and this was not despite her muscles, but because of them!
She watched the water cascade over the cobblestones of her abdomen, each muscle there far stronger than a man's entire body. And I've never done a single sit-up, she giggled. She flexed her abdominals and watched them transform from bumps to half-spheres of inhuman power.
In a moment of uncontrolled anger, Howard had punched her there and had almost broken his hand on the rock-like terrain. After that, Howard seemed more fearful than ever about what Julia's body had become. And yet, shy Benjamin had been different: running a washcloth over those abdominals had so transfixed him that he had almost forgotten to breathe. And he SHOULD be impressed, Julia realized, hearing the thwip-thwip of her fingers as they ran over the hard bumps. My body is a temple to physical power.
Her breasts came last – so much surface area that she had to lather more gel first. Running her hands over the generous expanse of her breasts felt magnificent. She hefted her 'girls' gently, estimating their weight at twenty glorious pounds each. The purpose of the midriff-level showerheads became clear, allowing her two wash underneath the incredible swell of her breasts. Then, she ran the gel over her nipples …
… wow. Julia braced herself against the side of the shower. They felt … fantastic. Without thinking, she squeezed the nipples gently, with just enough force to shatter cinderblocks. Oh MY … the rush of pleasure nearly approached and orgasm. What sort of cruel joke is it that I'm going back to Earth tonight, she wondered? And what sort of cruel joke is it that my boyfriend thinks I'm hideous, while I spurn the attention of any number of interested men?
With some trepidation, Julia ran her suds-covered hands down to the last part of her body that needed them: her womanhood. All the hair here had disappeared, allowing Julia to don her slingshot suit earlier with no fear of looking silly. Washing the outside of her labia sent a pleasant shudder through her body, and she soon found her fingers going inside. Her clitoris felt odd between her fingers, and she spread her labia a bit to investigate.
It was huge. Her clitoris was as large as Howard's thumb. And OOH …
… my gosh was it sensitive! She traced a finger delicately over its hood and shivered with happiness.
There was a soft knock on the door. “I brought the clothes you asked for,” said Benjamin's voice on the other side.
The mere sound of his voice heated something inside of her. “You can …” She braced herself against the wall of the shower. “You can leave it next to the sink.”
Julia breathed in heaves as the sound of his footsteps crossed the room. She couldn't see him, but her elevated sense of smell made it unnecessary. Benjamin was only a few feet away, her body knew. And never had a man smelled so good.
His footsteps began to recede, and the ache of her need came to a boil. “Stop,” she ordered, with uncharacteristic authority.
No, her better self screamed, no! The cold shower was supposed to clear your head of this madness! “Come here.”
He did, rounding the corner. Bashful, he directed his gaze downward at her toes. “I'm sorry to interrupt,” he said. “Men are not supposed to trouble women in the shower.”
“It's the opposite of trouble,” she replied. “You're a shy one, aren't you?”
He nodded, eyes still downward.
“I used to be shy too,” said Julia, “before I became this. It's OK to look at me, you know.”
He had seen her naked before, but that did nothing to diminish the look of stupefaction that crossed his face when he saw her now.
No longer bashful, Julia stood easily with her hands at her sides, the water cascading down the edifice of her granite curves.
“You're still perfect,” Benjamin managed to say, fidgeting nervously.
“Julia giggled. That's what you said fifteen minutes ago. I'm glad it hasn't changed.” Julia's confidence swelled to new heights. “It's OK to stare, Benjamin.”
He did. A comfortable silence settled on the two, punctuated only but the steady flow of the water.
Just this once, Julia told herself. To satisfy my aching body. To ensure that I don't lose control and take Howard against his will, or worse. Just this once.
“Actually, maybe it's not OK to stare. It's turning me on too much. Come here,” she commanded.
A flick of Julia's wrist turned the water from ice cold to warm. She tore off his shirt like it was made of no more than soap bubbles.
Julia picked them full grown man up like a rag doll and sandwiched his body between her own and the shower wall. As she had done with Howard, her rock hard breasts found the space under Benjamin's armpits supporting his 185 pounds without deforming in the slightest. That freed her hands to tear his pants off – and to explore.
His body was lean and fit. His ass fit perfectly in her hands. His manhood was larger than Howard's, and oh, so hard! “My boyfriend didn't like being held like this.”
“Your boyfriend was a fool,” the man whispered as he planted sweet kisses on her neck.
The made out for a long time like that, kissing each other gently, and then less so.
Soon, her breasts began to ache with an familiar need. She eased herself away from the wall and onto the lip of the tub. Straddling his thighs, the felt the head of his manhood tease the edges of her labia. It sent shivers through her.
A momentary twinge of guilt crossed her mind, but it washed away like water tumbling into the drain. This is better for my sanity, and for Howard's safety. So, I might as well enjoy it.
And, OOOOHHHH!, enjoy it she would. A slight shift in her posture allowed the tip of his cock to tease her clitoris – her oversized, genetically enhanced … OOOOOOHHHH! The sensation was more intense than anything she had experienced in her prior body. And not a little bit more, either, but GGUUUUDDD, dozens of times more.
He coursed his hands over her herculean physique, gasping each time his hands crested the swell of her muscles, sending her erotic desires into overdrive. Spreading her thighs further, she lowered herself onto his rigid needfulness, her dripping tunnel swallowed him easily. It was, HOLY FUUUCCCK.
It was bliss.
The first orgasm came for both of them at the same time. She could feel him jetting his desire into her, but the event did nothing to diminish his wonderful rigidity. She, OOOOH WOW – she saw stars. The feel of the cascading water, the sound of it running down the drain, even his ecstatic moans disappeared for her as wave after wave of orgasmic happiness replaced them. All was a blissful darkness and silence, except for the hallucinated dots of light and a tiny voice. And it said.…
… a girl could get used to that.
Julia run a plush towel over her perfect skin, as she watched the gentle rise and fall of Benjamin's chest. He lay collapsed where she had left him, at the bottom of the tub, several plush towels tossed over him as blankets. At the end of their tryst, he had been too exhausted even to moan. Perhaps I should have taken it easier on him, Julia considered, fondly remembering two hours of constant, extremely athletic passion she had experienced. As supernatural as her body was, his too, packed at least one superhuman surprise: his impressive manhood had remained hard as a steel rod for the entire two hours. Would that I could bottle that, Julia lamented, and pour it down my boyfriend's throat.
With the man's unflagging endurance below the waist, Julia had neglected to take it easy on the rest of his body. What was the sporting equivalent of what they had just done? One triathlon? Two? Either way, it had been enough to leave the poor guy in a collapsed heap.
Julia, on the other hand, had never felt more refreshed and relaxed. Her body had enjoyed the tryst immensely, and if anything, it wanted more. You will have to go without, she told herself. The window for a departure to the caves would not be open much longer. Ruth and her husband were distracted, for now. Mindy and Amanda were out partying, for now. But after the fun was over, these women would be returning to the house. Mindy would be confused, and Ruth would be hurt, that the Earth couple was leaving, and it would become increasingly difficult to make a graceful exit. No, now that you have your horniness out of your system, it's time to reconnoiter with Howard and leave.
Julia palmed the paper-wrapped parcel Benjamin had brought. It was surprisingly small and light for a full outfit of caving gear. Did Benjamin miss something on the nightstand, Julia wondered. A note card fell out of the package. “I can't wait to see you in a proper outfit,” it read, in native text.
Damn it, that's right, Julia realized. Howard said he would leave my clothes on the nightstand. But Ruth, too, told me that she was leaving a gift in the same place. Benjamin had no idea what to look for, and he picked the wrong thing.
Her thumbs separated the folds of paper to reveal glittery cloth – scraps of glittery cloth, that is. Proper, Julia wondered, as she extracted it? The cloth turned out to be a bandeau-style bikini, with rich ecru and robin's-egg-blue colors in elegant combination, inlaid with rhinestones colored indigo to resemble sapphires. The stones had unusual depth and lustre.
Julia examined them more carefully. No, those aren't rhinestones. Those are actually sapphires – dozens of them! She stared at the luxurious depth of their color. How many months of salary would I need to buy this thing back on Earth? She examined the rest of the garment more carefully now. The stitching was finer than anything she had ever seen. And the ecru cloth glistened in the light. Her eyes powered easily to magnifications that only microscopes could imitate: the threads of ecru were comprised of fine, silk-like threads interwoven with filaments of pure gold. If this were back on Earth, she mused, it would be in a museum behind thick glass.
She was about to fold the scraps of cloth back into their paper wrapping when curiosity struck her. I should see what it looks like on me, she mused.
No, her better self thought. The family would be returning to the house soon. The window to leave was now. Not ten minutes from now, but now.
But her thumbs tingled with anticipation as they coursed over the luxurious fabric. I owe it to Ruth to at least let her know that the gift was appreciated, to let her know that I liked how it looks. And I'll be leaving this body so soon; perhaps I owe it to myself, too, to see how it looks while I can still wear it.
There is no time, her better self thought. But the voice went unheard.
Julia slipped on the bottom first, enjoying the softness of the fabric as it slid over the muscled swell of her thighs. It was very skimpy, but what it lacked in coverage it made up for in elegance. The stitching was finely done, the pattern intricate, the inlaid jewels stunning. The garment's lines guided the eye over the rock-hard spheres of her butt, over the feminine curves of her hips and down toward the womanhood – the part of her that was more feminine that any other, the part of her that perhaps symbolized the power and authority her gender exerted over both man and nature. I love it, Julia thought.
The bandeau top was just a ribbon of fabric, really, inlaid with the same gemstones, rich indigo, and gold-infused ecru she had seen on the bottom. It offered no support to her bust, and would have been a truly depressing garment to wear back home. But of course her 'girls' now needed no support, cheerfully adopting a perfect teardrop despite their twenty-pound weight. The ribbon of cloth was long enough to traverse her 54-inch bust line, but only just wide enough to cover her aureoles. The finely woven geometric pattern distorted itself on the protrusions of her nipples, thus reminding the eye of the unusual size and firmness her nipples possessed. I look fantastic in this, Julia realized.
The last item in the brown paper wrapping was a finely crafted sarong with paisley swirls of brown and caramel, the perfect complement to the caramel colors of the bikini. It fastened over her waist and left a slit open all the way down one leg, teasing the eye to comprehend what was underneath. Teasing – in her old body, that had never been a factor in her wardrobe choices, or even a possibility.
I want to go show this off, Julia mused. Dance in front of the men at the campfire. Grind their music and drinking to a halt as they become transfixed on my beauty. See their eyes go wide. Watch them try to resist staring. Watch their bodies react with a will of their own.
Back home, I never used to feel good about myself. But now … She turned a full circle in front of the mirror, examining how every taut curve of her body was in perfect proportion. Now, I am smart, strong, sexy…
And I'm not going to give it up.
The evening air was damp and smelled of ocean salt. In the distance, the light of the bonfire called out to Julia like a beacon, and the sounds of its revelry teased her ears. But the party would have to wait. First, she would have to find Howard, and speak with him.
As she circled the house into the darkness on the far side, she realized that she did not know exactly where Howard would be waiting for her. Julia supposed she could have been more careful in her planning. But being superhuman, she could afford to be a little bit sloppy. Her eyes required only a moment to power up to a stunning level of sensitivity, turning the black of night into turquoise. She scanned the the area at magnifications usually reserved for high-powered binoculars, and found Howard within moments.
He was waiting in the utility shed by the driveway, huddled just inside the doorway. From fifty yards away, she could easily hear the rustle of his fingers as he fiddled with the caving gear. He seemed unaware of her presence.
Julia made for the shed, cutting through a grove of palm trees. The dry fronds of the palms crunched under her feet for a good thirty paces before Howard stopped his fiddling and peered in the direction of the sound, squinting at the darkness. It made Julia giggle.
Finally, he pointed a flashlight in her direction and found her. He flashed the light one, two, three times. The fool, she thought. Does he think I didn't see him before the damn light? He's been told half-a-dozen times that the Nourished have far better night vision than a man. Did he not believe it? Julia made the rest of her way to the storage shed and stood in front of him, hands on hips.
“Here's all your gear.” Howard handed her a backpack. “I made some adjustments to the harness so that it would fit you. Everything else appears to be in working order.”
Julia rummaged through the contents. My gear, she thought. The last time I wore this, I was was a different woman – only days ago, but a different lifetime.
“I've found a road map that should get us to the cave entrance. Do you have a map of the route inside the cave?”
“I wouldn't need one. I have it all memorized.”
“But isn't it complicated?”
“There are four thousand passages and twelve thousand intersections. Yes, it's complicated. That's why I memorized the whole thing.”
Howard narrowed his eyes in suspicion. “I don't believe you.”
It's just like Ruth said, Julia realized. Howard doesn't believe he's fully outmatched here. He can't believe it. For if he did, in his mind, that would mean he is worthless. He has no ability to differentiate between his skills and his worth as a person. And that's a real lack of maturity.
She let the bag of caving gear fall to the ground with a THUD.
“Why aren't you in your caving clothes?” he asked.
Julia ignored him. Her genetically enhanced eyes surveyed the interior of the utility shed, penetrating its blackness with ease.
“Pick up your bag. We need to go,” he prodded.
She ignored that too. There was a crowbar hanging on the inner wall of the shed. Julia grabbed it.
“I'd like you to do something for me, Howard.” She took a step toward him, swinging the crowbar back and forth experimentally. It blurred with immense speed and left a HUM in the air.
Howard took a step back, his eyes wide.
“I'd like you to hit me with this.” She handed him the crowbar.
Bewildered, he took the bar, but also backed up another step. She could see her own reflection in the corneas of Howard's eyes: her herculean form towering over him. She could understand his reluctance.
“I'm serious, honey. I won't hit you back. I promise.” She took another step forward, the hard oblong swells of her muscle easily dwarfing his skinnier ones.
He took a third step back. “You're my girlfriend. I would never strike you, here or on any other planet.”
“But I'm ASKING you to strike me. Trust me, no matter how hard you swing that thing, you won't do any damage.”
“I'm not so sure,” he regarded the bar in his hand. “This could break a bone. I don't want to hurt you, Julia.”
Julia narrowed her eyes. “See? That is exactly the problem. I told you I had the map memorized, and you don't believe me. I told you that hitting me wouldn't hurt me, and you don't believe me. Your concern for my well being is endearing, but in this case, it's actually patronizing. I know my body better than you do. And yet you insist on telling me what I cannot do. Hit me.”
“Because I want to see whether you can stop acting like my savior long enough to actually respect what I want. HIT ME.”
But he kept the crowbar pointed at his feet. “Julia, I love you,” he explained.
Damn it, Julia thought. The man was the greatest kind of sweet and the worst kind of stubborn, all wrapped into one infuriating package. “I'm not asking you to stop loving me. I'm asking you to listen to me.”
But Howard only shook his head. “What kind of sick game is this?”
“It was a test, honey – a test to see whether you could accept the fact that I'm fundamentally different than you. And you failed. I told you it wouldn't hurt me, but you persist in believing that I have no comprehension of my own body, that I not even qualified to decide what is safe or unsafe for me.”
Reaching behind her back, Julia undid the knot of her bandeau top. It dropped to the ground. The naked globes of her chest formed dramatic silhouettes in the moonlight. “I want you to watch very carefully – and learn,” she said.
Julia picked up the climbing helmets from the ground. They were nested inside each other. She placed them between her breasts, the depth of her cleavage so great that her breasts had to spread only the smallest bit to welcome the entirety of the helmets.
“Do you remember how it used to hurt me when you squeezed my breasts too hard, when you got a little bit carried away?”
“Yes,” Howard replied, bashful. So cute.
“I'm not just stronger than I used to be. I've changed in other ways, too.” Julia positioned her elbows on the sides of her breasts and pressed inward, pinning the helmets between them. She continued to press. The high-grade plastic let out a CREAK. It was deforming from its original shape, the head cavity beginning to close.
“You don't need to do this, honey. It looks … painful.”
Julia didn't take her eyes off her boyfriend's increasingly concerned facial expression. “You bought the expensive kind of helmets right? High grade, impact-resist plastic, can withstand several thousand pounds of pressure without cracking?”
Howard nodded uneasily.
“When I squeeze my breasts, they're as soft as pillows to me. But the rest of the world seems even softer.” The nested helmets bent further inward, into a shape resembling a clamshell. “My 'girls' are crushing your helmets with the power of an industrial vice.”
Howard was transfixed on the superhuman feat unfolding in front of him.
Julia looked down at her breasts, pressing inward with ever more punishing force.
A SNAP, sharp and loud like a gunshot, resonated through the thick evening air. The hard plastic had cracked.
Julia dispassionately observed the ruined helmet nestled in her bosom. “So much fucking power, Howard. I'd be lying if I said it wasn't a rush. Let's see what happens when I apply a little more pressure.”
She rubbed her breasts against each other with several thousand pounds of additional force, crushing the plastic with a power that few machines on Earth could imitate. A raucous crunching sound filled the air as the high grade plastic failed in hundreds of places simultaneously. Julia doubled the pressure again. “Know how much force I'm applying to these poor helmets, honey?”
Mute with confusion, Howard shook his head.
“It’s the equivalent of stacking four cars, one on top of the other, and placing the helmets underneath the stack. Easily enough to crush a man to death. But my 'girls' are feeling only a warm tingle.”
Releasing her breasts, they fell gently away from each other, into the usual generous teardrop shape. Shards of shattered plastic, the pieces no larger than confetti, spilled to the ground. She wiped the plastic dust off of herself, revealing smooth and unblemished skin.
“I can't … can't believe you did that,” Howard struggled to utter. “We needed the helmets for the caves.”
“We're not going anywhere tonight. I've decided we're going to stay for a few weeks longer. And whatever I decide, that's the way it's going to be.” Julia folded her arms in front of her, an immense phalanx of muscle that made her boyfriend petite by comparison.
“You WHAT?” The crowbar was still in Howard’s hands. His knuckles stood out in relief as he appeared to tighten his grip.
“You heard me. We're going to stay.” Julia stretched her arms above her head now, lengthening her body into the sky, forcing his eye up and down her jaw-dropping physique. “I want to see that you can accept and even flourish in a situation where you are outmatched. I want to see that you can value yourself for who you are and not what you can do. And what better Petri dish to run that little experiment in than this world? If you can grow to accept being outmatched by me , it will build your character and make you a better man.”
She watched him trying to keep his cool. “Julia, I'm happy for you that you got to experience what it's like to be strong. I'm sure it's invigorating.”
“You would know, wouldn't you? You used to got to the gym all the time. After months of sweating and hard work, your muscles would get a bit bigger. You were so proud of that. I remember how happy you were when you ran a tape measure around your bicep and found it to be a half-inch bigger.” Julia flexed a bicep casually and watched it expand to mass the size of a volleyball. “I got this way just by drinking a simple drink. I've never lifted a single set of weights, a single barbell. In fact, I could spend a month on the couch eating donuts and still have a body every bit as awe-inspiring as I do today. Can you deal with how unfair it is? And no matter how many weights you lift, you will never come close to achieving this.” Julia relaxed her arm and then flexed the other one, watching it swell into another ball of raw power.
“I don't need you to remind me that you're built like a pile of rocks. Anyone can see that.”
“That's true.” She turned to her bicep, the summit of which was nearly level with her lips. “If you were a NORMAL muscle, you'd be much stronger than his. But you're not just normal, are you? You're genetically enhanced – hundreds and hundreds of time stronger than his. Do you think he can deal with that?”
“He can,” Howard snarled, his fingers whitening around the bar.
“Really?” Julia glanced at a palm tree beside her, its trunk easily twelve inches thick. She slammed the side of her hand into it, karate-chop-like, with blinding speed. The trunk exploded is if torn apart by a grenade, shards of palm wood flying into the darkness. As the tree toppled toward her, she easily grabbed it and hoisted it over her head. Julia tested its weight, pumping the tree up and down in quick repetitions, as if she was doing a military press with a barbell. The tree made a swishing sound as its leaves scraped along nearby trunks. But the rest of the feat happened in silence, Julia’s breathing easy and without labor. “Palms are lighter than other sorts of trees,” she concluded. “This one is ONLY three thousand, three hundred and twenty two pounds. Does it make you just an eentsy weentsy bit jealous that I can hold this so easily? Wanna try?”
Howard glared at her in silence.
“Oh, that's right. If I handed this to you, it would break every bone in your spine.”
His face grew red.
Julia tossed the tree away. It hit the ground with a BOOM.
“Can you deal with the fact that I'm faster than you, too? That my Nourished body can run faster than any thoroughbred racehorse ever has? Twice as fast as the best speed ever recorded at the Kentucky Derby, without breaking a sweat? And that I can do it all without ever having trained for a single minute?”
His face went from red to scarlet.
“And what about the intelligence thing? Despite all the years of school you've had, and how hard you worked at your job, your brain has nowhere near the raw firepower that mine now possesses. I can learn faster, remember better, process faster, and so much more. Does that bother you, to know that your girlfriend is vastly smarter than you?”
CLANG. It was the crowbar, hitting her on the outside of the shoulder. It felt like a tap, but Howard was breathing heavily after only one swing. He was mad.
“Ha! It DOES bother you. But here's the thing, honey. I didn't say we were staying here forever. I said 'a few weeks.' You'd think that, having spent your whole life in a world where men have all the advantages, you could adapt, just for once, to a world where you clearly don't. But clearly it makes you nuts to be around people who have more natural abilities than you. That’s pretty childish. And that's where I want you to focus. I want you to find value in yourself for who you are and not what you can do. I think it will help you grow up.”
WHAM. Howard had swung like he was going for a home run on that one. It produced only a gentle tap on her tricep.
“I don't want your fucking maturity lesson, Julia,” Howard panted. “I want to go home.”
“For once, it doesn't matter what you want. It matters what I want. And you're having a hard time dealing with that. But I'm sure you'll improve.”
WHAM. Howard had swung it hard at her abdominals. Julia tried to relax them before the blow, but they nonetheless must have been the consistency of granite when the bar found them. The steel rod sung from the impact. She watched her boyfriend shake the pain out of his hands.
“I asked you to hit me, and I appreciate that you are finally listening. But it doesn't seem that you're handling the rest of this very well.”
“I wish you had, Howard. But I found someone who is more than happy to step up. His name is Benjamin, and he fucked me in the shower only twenty minutes ago.”
“How … How could … You?”
“It was easy, honey. For one thing, he was attracted to me, just like every other guy around here – except you. For another thing, he was cute … and charming.”
WHAM WHAM WHAM WHAM. Blows were landing hard on her. Julia laced her fingers on top of her head to give him a clearer shot at her, but it made no difference. A blow against her breasts made the bar wobble in recoil. A blow against her ribcage produced such a CLANG that Julia feared he might break his hand.
On the next swing, her hand moved in a blur, grabbing the bar with a soft THUD and holding it fast. “Howard, I'm not saying all this to be mean. My libido is as superhuman as the rest of me, and I needed someone to satiate it. You denied me your affections, and so I had to go somewhere else. Nothing against you, honey. It's just a fact. And anybody who's lived in this world for more than a few days would understand what I am saying. You can be angry for a while if you like. But don't break your hand on that bar.”
“Fuck you. I mean it.”
Hearing these words a second time stung Julia more than she would have expected. For a brief moment, she felt like giving his spiteful face a good slap. But then she remembered where she was. A slap from her would do a lot more than redden his cheek. It would take his head off. She would have to register her anger in some other way.
Lowering her hands to her sides, Julia ran them over the generous swell of her hips. “Howard, my little romp in the shower with Benjamin was not a one time thing. I'm going to have sex three or four times a day, with multiple partners. And I'm not going to lie: the thought really turns me on.”
Howard swung the bar so hard, his lungs emitted an “UUGGGH!” during the motion. WHAM CLANG. The impacts were to her shoulders and breasts, although to Julia, it felt like she had been tapped by nothing more than a pencil. The bar hummed with the force of the strikes.
“What turns me on even more is the thought of starting with Benjamin. He's, you know …”
“… a bit bigger than you, down there …”
“… and I have to say, for my new body, that makes a difference …”
This time the bar went right for the bridge of her nose with such speed that Julia almost winced. But there was no need. The bar hit her nose with no more impact than the cotton pad she used to apply her makeup – back when she needed makeup.
“You should come watch me and Benjamin sometime,” she purred. “There's stuff Benjamin did that you could really learn from.”
CLANG WHAM CLANG. The crowbar was slamming into her head now, her boyfriend swinging with all his angry might. Blows that would have caved in a human skull only glanced off a bone far harder than titanium. The bar was now singing with every impact. So much force was being transferred back through the steel rod that Howard crumpled over in pain after the third strike, his hands no longer able to handle the punishing impacts. He seemed so weak to Julia now.
“That's probably enough batting practice, honey.” Julia extended a hand. “Give me the bar.”
But he didn't. He held it in front of him like a spear, as if she were about to charge him. He shouldered his gear bag and sidestepped his way over to the car they had selected for their getaway. “If I have to go home alone, I will.”
“You would go back to Earth without me? Are you breaking up with me?”
Howard threw the crowbar on the ground and the pack in the passenger seat of the car. He climbed in, and started the engine. “Not breaking up. Leaving. I don't want to be without you. But I don't want to be here either. Not like this.”
Julia laughed. “You're being silly. The caves are too dangerous for a man on his own, even before I destroyed your helmet. And you don't even know the route I discovered, which, believe me, is complex. You'd never make it.”
“I have to try.”
“I won't let you.”
The engine revved. Howard hit the accelerator. But instead of the sound of tires on gravel, the car produced only the wine of tires spinning in mid-air.
In the time it had taken Howard to insert the key and turn it, Julia had positioned herself at the front of the car and lifted the tires off the ground by the front bumper handle. The front-wheel-drive car was dead on the road.
As several thousand pounds rested in one hand, Julia checked out her nails on the other. Ruth and Mindy had really awesome manicures, and Julia's had nothing of the sort. Now that she was staying, she would have a chance to get that remedied tomorrow. She wondered what other indulgences might await. Maybe shopping?
The engine whined with increasing fury. She lowered the front of the hood enough to receive her boyfriend's angry stare through the windshield. “It's only a few thousand pounds, Howard. I could hold this until the sun came up.”
The engine ceased. “Fine, you win. I'll stay. But on one condition: We treat each other as equals.”
“You still don't get it, do you?” Julia giggled. With her free hand, she grabbed a second handle and hoisted the car clear off the ground. Her genetically enhanced muscles held the car vertically, nose-down, with Howard still in the driver seat. Only his seatbelt kept him from falling into the windshield. “Do you feel like an equal right now, honey?”
Howard's eyes were wide as nickels. His fear, which was so unnecessary, made him so vulnerable and cute. It gave Julia a warm mushy feeling inside.
Shifting the weight of the car to one hand, she ran her fingers through her hair. “Love you? Yes, deeply. Respect you? Sure, if you act like you want it. But act like we're equals? In what way? As long as we're in this world, I am the legal head of our household. My mind can run circles around yours. My body has power and precision that your male mind can barely imagine. How exactly are we equals?”
“We're all made differently.” His breath fogged the windshield below him. “Some of us are talented at one thing, others at something else. All I'm asking you to recognize is that I still have something to offer, even here – even in a world where you can hold a car with one hand.”
Julia looked at her arm, its muscle barely flexed. She hadn't realized realized that she was holding the car with only one hand. Cars feel so light to me know, Julia thought, that it's hard to remember how impressive Howard must find this. “Honey, it's not just about being able to lift a car, or even memorize a map. My body is superior to yours in dozens of ways – so many ways that I still haven't learned them all. I kicked your ass in the swim lesson because my body learns new physical skills thousands of times faster than my old body. If I took up ballet tomorrow morning, I'd be Earth's idea of a professional ballerina by early evening. No matter how hard you try, your achievements in this world will never come remotely close to mine, in anything. Are you ready to accept that?”
She tilted her neck upward to see the expression on Howard's face. “No.”
“And that's why we're not leaving yet. You seem to be happy only when you're the accomplished one in the relationship, the one with all the physical talents and the smarts. A guy with your looks could have dated any number of hot chicks. But instead you chose me, a plain looking girl who was average in every way. And you did it because you liked having someone to take care of. It's endearing Howard, but it's also grown tiring.”
Julia shifted the car from one hand to the other – not because her muscles had tired, but because she wanted to see whether the left hand was as needing of a manicure as the right.
“Julia, my affection for you has always been genuine. Do you resent the fact that I bought you a car, got you a job, pulled you out of the shitty corner your life was in?”
“No, honey, I appreciated it, really. All the help you provided was part of what attracted me to you. But I've moved beyond the damsel-in-distress aspect of our relationship, and it's time you did, too. Only three minutes ago you learned that I slept with another man, and yet the only thing you are demanding of me is that I recognize your talents and abilities. That's how addicted you are to being my savior. Well, now I'm the one with all the abilities, more than capable of taking care of you. And I'm dying to see whether you can grow up enough to embrace that reality. Are you ready to try? It's for your own good.”
“You're imprisoning me here? And it's for my own good? I don't need your damn help. I need to go home.”
“I think you do need my help, honey,” Julia laughed. “Last time I checked, you were stuck in a car twelve feet off the ground. If you're going to survive here, you'll need more humility than that. Say please and I'll let you down.”
Silence. “I'm not a little kid, Julia.”
He crossed his arms and glowered back down at her through the windshield. With his seated body pointed downward. The curly locks of his hair formed a curtain around his facial features. He was cute when he was mad.
Julia examined the cuticles of her left hand. She was looking forward to living the life of a pretty girl for a few weeks – to be confident in her beauty and know that small enhancements to her appearance, such as manicures, would only make her more irresistible. “Howard, the car is only three thousand pounds. That's like holding up a small bag of flour. We could be here for a very long time.”
“Please,” he snarled.
Her iron-hard muscles experienced no difficulty controlling the descent of the vehicle, despite the awkward angle. The car's wheels contacted the ground with hardly a sound. Howard got out of the car, his expression still angry.
“Can I trust you not to run away?” She asked.
He peered down the road in either direction, as if he was looking for a route out of the area by foot, or perhaps a passing motorist he could flag down.
Julia had not anticipated this. If he tried to make an escape, he would be wandering around this land with little identification and perhaps even less common sense. There were good Nourished women out there, like Ruth, but there were bad ones as well. And he would be powerless to defend himself against the latter. Men who grew up in this world probably knew how to stay out of trouble, but with Howard so desperate to leave, there was no guessing the number of dangerous situations to which he might expose himself.
With one hand, Julia grabbed Howard by the upper arm. With the other, she scooped up the crowbar from the ground. She trotted him over to the side of the utility shed, where she spied a drainpipe leading from the shed into the ground. “Sit.”
I'll have to use that tone more often, Julia observed. The crowbar offered little resistance to Julia's enhanced genetics as she bent the object into a “C” shape over one thigh. The sad groan of steel bending made clear the force involved. Julia delighted in the sight of her arms doing this – knowing of immensely powerful she was, knowing that she didn't have to give it up yet. She slid the ends of the C-shaped object underneath her boyfriend's armpits, and then reached behind the drainpipe to twist them together, her fingers bending the steel with ease. Howard made a yelp of surprise but did not resist.
“I want you to take a few hours, without distractions, to think about what I've said. If you get into the right frame of mind, I think you'll really enjoy what this world has to offer.” Julia gave him his pack, which contained water, food. Extra layers – anything a guy could need for an evening tied to a tree. “I’ll come back for you when I am ready.”
Howard answered with only a frown, but Julia was beyond caring. He would get over it. She tied the jeweled bandeau top over her breasts and strode toward the orange light of the bonfire. From here, the music would have been audible even to normal ears. Her body wanted to dance.
Ruth was still there, her bikini-clad body swaying to the music, mesmerizing her eleven-man audience.
Julia joined in. In her old body, she had never been a good dancer. But her new muscles seemed to inhale the rhythm of the music the way her lungs inhaled air. She swayed with precision and grace, the jewels and mirrors of her outfit captured the flames and turned them into elegant fireworks of gold and blue. She watched the wide eyes of the boys follow her hourglass form, her physique swelling with power, her generous breasts. It was going to be a fun night.
“My offer is still good,” Ruth whispered.
The statement sent a thrill through Julia. Her superhuman needs had reached a fever pitch. Everything she had previously been, every custom she had previously known, was foreign to her now. She was in a new body, in a new world, and she could wait to explore the possibilities. Julia surveyed the rugged features and heart-warming smiles of the assembled men, trying to decide which ones she would have first.