The gifted child
“No Doctor,” the young man said, pushing the sheaf of papers back across the table. “I read about all of this in your company’s prospectus. I want to hear about your other work.”
“I don’t know what you’re talking about,” said the ageing, bespectacled man. “What other work?”
“The work you’re doing with stem cells, with the human genome—biological enhancement.”
I could see the older man pale. It was clear Young Master Phips had hit a nerve. Of course Evan Phips was always hitting nerves. It was a particular talent of his. He’d practically destroyed my nerves the first time I met him.
I was twenty, just a month away from getting my doctorate in psychology. My specialization was dealing with gifted children. You see I was a bright boy myself and I knew the kind of social and psychological hell growing up being ten times smarter than everyone around you could be. I envisioned spending my life helping kids, much like myself, deal with adolescence and other life traumas.
I never envisioned Evan Phips.
When the call came, it wasn’t exactly a surprise. I had been actively exploring post-graduate opportunities, however when the woman at the other end of the line mentioned she was calling from the Phips Foundation, it did catch me a little off guard.
“I don’t remember reaching out to the Phips Foundation,” I said, almost talking to myself.
“You didn’t,” she said. “Mr. Phips never waits for the right people to come to him. He goes to them.”
Now she really had my attention. She had to be talking about Malcolm Phips, robber baron for the twenty-first century. There weren’t many companies out there that he didn’t either own or have his fingers in. But what did he want with me?
“So shall we say ten o’clock tomorrow?” the woman asked, interrupting my reverie.
“Ten o’clock would be fine,” I said. I couldn’t imagine what this could be about, but my curiosity was overwhelming me. I couldn’t think of anything else the rest of the day and I didn’t get much sleep that night. So I wasn’t exactly at my best when I presented myself at the Phips Foundation ten minutes before ten o’clock the next morning.
I was quickly escorted to a lavish office, wood paneling, antique furniture, expensive rugs. At ten sharp the door flew open and in walked Malcolm Phips, himself. I never imagined I’d be interviewing with him, but I have to say the sight of him was a little underwhelming. Being five foot ten inches in height, I rarely feel tall, but next to Phips I did. He couldn’t have been much more than five foot four and he was thin as a rail. He had thin hair, thick glasses, and red eyes that looked slightly runny.
He crossed the room barely giving me a glance and then slipped behind a huge antique mahogany desk that completely dwarfed him. I couldn’t help but imagine the diminutive tycoon seated on two or three phonebooks piled on his chair just so he could see over his desk. I had to bite my tongue to keep from chuckling.
“Thank you for coming, Mr. Conroy,” he said.
“Thank you for seeing me, Mr. Phips,” I replied.
“I’ll get right to the point,” he said. “I have a fifteen year old son, Mr. Conroy, Evan. Perhaps you’ve heard of him.”
The comings and goings of the rich and famous never interested me so I simply said, “No, I’m sorry.”
“Pity,” he said. “Evan is exceptionally bright. His IQ is well past genius level.”
“You must be very proud,” I said.
“Yes, proud,” said Phips quickly as if he were getting the formalities out of the way. “Unfortunately he is displaying some alarming psychological tendencies.”
“I am told he is in danger of developing into a sociopath.”
I couldn’t help but be amazed by his detached attitude. It was almost as though he were discussing an underperforming stock. I wondered if Evan weren’t the only sociopath in the family. “It sounds like you already have him in therapy,” I said.
“Unfortunately no,” said Phips. “He refuses treatment. He maintains there is nothing wrong with him and he doesn’t need help. As a psychologist, you should appreciate how difficult it is to help someone who doesn’t want to be helped.”
“It’s practically impossible,” I said.
“So, Mr. Conroy, at this point the question is: how do you feel about a job that is practically impossible?”
“I’ll talk to the boy,” I said, “but I can’t promise anything.”
“No, Mr. Conroy, you underestimate the level of commitment I am seeking from you. Evan will not talk to a psychologist, therefore when you meet him you can not be a psychologist.”
“That’s hardly ethical,” I said.
“Ethics do not concern me, Mr. Conroy, results do.”
“Well, I’m afraid ethics do concern me, Mr. Phips. So, if you’ll excuse me…” and I turned to leave.
“I’ll pay you two hundred and fifty thousand dollars.”
That stopped me. “For what?” I said turning around.
“For your psychological profile of Evan. If you think you can help him, we will discuss further terms.”
“And how am I to develop a profile of him, if he won’t talk to me.”
“You look young enough to pass for a teen and you’re intelligent enough to operate on his level. Befriend him.”
“Under false pretenses?” I buried my head in my hands. “Mr. Phips, that is exactly the kind of behavior I teach kids like Evan to guard against. I certainly won’t engage in it.”
“There is another alternative, although you might find it slightly less appealing,” said Phips.
“I doubt that’s possible. What is it?”
“I am currently looking for a valet for Evan. You could take the post, temporarily of course, until you finish your profile. It would certainly give you a chance to observe him up close.”
That actually seemed plausible. If I were legitimately engaged in another profession, one where I could get to know him, I could always knock together a profile on him after the fact. That wouldn’t be unethical, would it? Who was I kidding? I was engaging in a massive rationalization. I was letting two hundred and fifty thousand dollars put me on very shaky ground. But there was one simple fact that would put a stop to the whole thing. “I don’t know anything about being a valet.”
“That is easily remedied,” said Phips, and before I could think too much about it, I was being whisked off in a car to the Phips estate. Evan was currently attending an exclusive private academy in upstate New York and wouldn’t be home until next month, and for the next four weeks I was mercilessly drilled in the art of being the perfect valet by Anton Jervis, Phips’ own valet. Phips did not want anyone knowing the true reason for my being there. He was afraid Evan would find out. So as far as the rest of the staff was concerned I was the new valet and nothing more. I learned all about the proper clothing for the proper occasion, how to anticipate my employer’s needs, and how to be invisible until needed, appear out of nowhere, and then fade back into the background when my job was finished. All in all it was a lot more complicated than I imagined, but fairly easily mastered. It amazed me how much attention the rich paid to the most trivial matters, such as how underwear must be folded, and how beds must turned down at precisely 8:12 every night. It bordered on the neurotic.
I’d have to say the hardest part was the need to be immaculately dressed at all times. I was a let-it-hang-where-it-falls kind of guy. Now, suddenly, I constantly needed to be in a flawlessly pressed suit with every hair in place. I was amazed how much emphasis was placed on personal appearance for someone who was meant to be invisible most of the time.
I was also instructed in Evan Phips’ personal preferences in dress, food, bedclothes, wash cloths and all manner of other personal articles. I was hoping to use this opportunity to begin my profile, but I soon realized this was futile. I was instructed that Evan’s toothbrush was to be laid out on a line exactly parallel to the side of his wash basin, precisely three inches away, and that the tube of tooth paste was to be placed one inch above it on a perpendicular line. I refused to believe any 15 year old could be that fastidious and began to wonder how many of his supposed preferences were really his and how many of them had been imposed upon him by the society he had grown up in.
I also noticed there were no photographs of Evan. I asked Anton about it and he told me that Young Master Phips, as I was instructed to call Evan, did not like to be photographed, and that part of my job would be to discretely position myself between him and any cameras I might espy. That was one of the few pieces of information that I could get out of him. I tried asking him about the relationship between Evan and his parents, but he refused to say anything, and I got an hour long lecture on the importance of discretion. The rest of the staff was pretty much the same. Trying to get them to say anything about the Phipses usually won me a dark stare and a cold shoulder.
The only thing I was able to divine for certain about Evan was his size, and that was from his clothing. It appeared he was of a kind with his father, short and slight. I wondered if there was any part of his mother in him, but I had not seen her. Come to mention it, I hadn’t seen Mr. Phips either. That wasn’t too surprising considering the size of the house. I think the Met might have been smaller; it certainly had fewer priceless works of art.
The month passed fairly quickly and before I knew it, Evan’s homecoming day had arrived. The house was in an uproar because a huge party had been planned to celebrate Evan’s high school graduation. He was graduating at fifteen. I, myself, had graduated when I was twelve. I couldn’t help but be a little smug about that. Since a valet had very little to do with party preparation, I spent most of the day in my modest room waiting for the moment when I would be presented to Evan. It was actually kind of silly but I felt myself getting a little nervous. Maybe it was because I’d spent the past month almost exclusively in the company of people who revered the Phips family as minor deities. I’d swear you’d think the sun rose and set on this over privileged family.
It was about noon when there was a knock on my door. “Please, come in,” I said expecting Anton. But when the door opened it was Malcolm Phips who strode into my room. I stood up at once—Anton’s training. It’s amazing how quickly it had become second nature to me. I was going to have a difficult time deprogramming myself when this was over.
“Mr. Phips,” I said.
“Please sit down, Mr. Conroy,” he said, and I did, although I continued to hold myself very stiffly, almost at attention. “There is another matter I’ve been meaning to discuss with you,” he said. “I’ve put it off because it’s a subject I’m not very comfortable with.”
From what I knew about Mr. Phips, that last statement could be characterized as an emotional outburst. “Go on,” I said, letting the psychologist emerge.
“I have been informed,” he began, “that my son has been exhibiting certain homosexual tendencies.”
“At his age,” I said, “it could just be an adolescent phase.”
“Yes, I realize that,” said Phips, “and I’m not foolish enough to believe that if he is… gay… there’s anything that can be done about it. But I shall want to know, one way or the other.”
“Well, I’ll do my best, but it can be difficult to differentiate a phase from—”
“Yes, quite,” said Phips, cutting me off. “We’ll have to rely on your other skills, then.”
“Other skills?” I questioned.
“Your gaydar, isn’t that what you people call it?”
“Mr. Phips,” I said, somewhat shocked and a little angry, “You’re going well outside the boundaries of a professional relationship. My personal situation has absolutely nothing to do with the job for which you hired me. Furthermore, I resent your prying into my private life.”
“Do you honestly think, Mr. Conroy, that I would let anyone come close to my family without first knowing everything there is to know about them? Kindly drop all pretenses at outrage. I require this service of you, and I require you to use all the tools at your disposal to accomplish it, and that is all that needs to be said of the matter.” Then Phips abruptly turned and left.
I had a lot to think about. At first I was so angry about Phips’ lack of regard for my privacy that I almost threw in the towel and left right then. But then I thought of Evan. If he really were gay and a prodigy, he would need guidance more than ever. I could really help him, and that was exactly what I’d spent the past eight years studying to do.
It was about four in the afternoon when Anton knocked on my door. I stood as he entered and looked me over.
“Yes, you’ll do,” he said. This was high praise coming from Anton. “Young Master Phips has just arrived. He will be in his room presently. You must have him washed and dressed for dinner by 5:30. Dinner will last precisely one hour. Then he must be dressed for the party and at the front door to greet his guests by 7:30. Is that understood?”
I nodded once. He looked at me and shook his head. “Personally I don’t think you’ll last a week. Young Master Phips is very hard on his valets. The last one went straight from here into a psychiatric ward.”
I tried not to smile. I found it amusing that Anton chose the moment before I was to meet Evan to impart this little informational gem. Little did he, or Evan, know that they were dealing with a trained psychologist and that mind games such as these had no effect on me.
Without a word I followed Anton down the narrow corridor of the domestic wing and into the much grander halls of the main house. We paused in front of Evan’s door and Anton knocked.
“What do you want?” came an annoyed and petulant voice from the other side. Anton took a deep breath, opened the door and strode in. I followed after. The room was a disaster area. I almost didn’t recognize it. A large open chest was in the middle of the floor and Evan was leaning half way into it apparently searching for something. Clothes and other items were flying out of it at a rapid rate.
“Excuse me, sir,” said Anton.
“Go away; I’m busy,” said Evan not even bothering to look up.
“Yes, sir,” said Anton. “This is your new valet, Justin.”
Suddenly Evan stopped his search and looked up at me, and I got my first real look at him. He was indeed a teenage version of his father, right down to the slightly watery eyes. And I couldn’t help notice the bruises and scratches. He was certainly no athlete so I concluded his injuries were probably the result of some bully’s attentions. Such things were frighteningly common with bright children, especially the small ones.
“Justin?” he questioned looking up at me. There was an expression on his face… I was trying to place it… It wasn’t quite a smile, and yet not a smirk either. And there was definitely a mischievous glint in his eyes.
“Yes, sir,” I said.
“Thank you, Anton,” said Evan. “You may go.”
“Yes, Sir,” said Anton. “And may I say what a pleasure it is having you back with us again.”
“Yes, yes, get out,” snapped Evan.
Anton turned on his heal and walked through the door, leaving me alone with Evan. The fifteen-year-old looked me up and down and said, “You’re already an improvement on the last one. He was so old he could have been my grandfather.”
“Yes, Sir,” I said, fighting the psychologist in me and trying to remember Anton’s training. He said that no matter how outrageous the things said to me, I was to treat all remarks as if they were comments about the weather. “Would you care to shower before dinner?”
“I would if you would care to join me,” said Evan.
This kid was testing me. He didn’t waste anytime. Fortunately, both Anton’s training and my psychology background agreed on the response to this one. “I don’t think that would be appropriate, Sir.”
“I think it would be,” said Evan, and this time the leer was unmistakable.
“Will you be wearing your blue or gray blazer to dinner, Sir?” I asked, deciding to ignore his last remark.
“The blue,” he said, his eyes never leaving me.
I entered his voluminous closet and returned with his blue blazer only to find him standing stark naked in the center of the room, his clothes lying in a clump at his feet. If he was trying to seduce me this was probably a bad move. There wasn’t much to him. He was so short and so skinny. His arms and legs were so thin his elbows and knees were the widest things about them. I could see every one of his ribs, his chest was sunken and his tiny little cock was just a nub. To be honest, I found him slightly repulsive. My tastes ran to larger men, much larger men. Of course, none of this was relevant, because Evan was much younger than me and my patient, even if unofficially.
Without a word, I proceeded to the bathroom and turned the shower on. I had been instructed as to the exact temperature Evan preferred. When I turned around I found Evan standing directly behind me. If he’d been any closer he’d have been touching me. It startled me and I leapt back, getting myself partially drenched in the shower.
Evan laughed and said, “Boo.”
I jerked forward out of the shower and almost tripped over him. He just thought that was incredibly funny, and he was laughing as he stepped into the shower. “Don’t go anywhere,” he called out after me. “I’m not through with you. You can clean up my room while you wait—but don’t touch anything in the trunk.” And then I heard him start to hum the 1812 Overture.
I was beginning to form my first impressions of Evan. The kid was obviously in a lot of pain. I was sure some of it stemmed from the isolation all prodigies experience, the feeling of being alone in a crowd, of having no one understand you. And the general ostracism they usually experience as a result, which would have been further exacerbated by his homosexual impulses and his underdeveloped body. His aggressive bullying manor was a typical front many of these kids put up to protect themselves from further emotional trauma. All though he had obviously buried himself deep within acerbic armor, I did not think he was unreachable. Of course all this was based on the briefest of encounters. I would have to get to know him much better before I could be sure of any of this.
I bent down and started to gather the clothes he had scattered around the room. They were all dirty and I quickly deposited them in the clothes hamper where the maids would pick them up and take them to be laundered. From the state of his underwear it was pretty obvious Young Master Phips masturbated frequently, really not at all uncommon for a fifteen year old boy.
I was just about to drop the last pair of his soiled Jockeys into the hamper when I spotted Evan dripping wet and leaning against the bathroom door frame with only a towel draped around his neck. I realized he’d been watching me for some time. His little nub of a penis was at full mast.
“Are you finished ogling my briefs? I thought for a moment you were going to smell them.”
“Dinner will be served in fifteen minutes, Young Master Phips,” I said, once again ignoring him. “I’m told your father expects you on time.”
“My father expects a lot of things,” he said, still smirking. He turned around and showed me his back. Then he pulled the towel off from around his neck and held it out towards me. “Towel off my back, would you. I always have trouble reaching round there.
I took the towel from him. It only took a single stroke to wipe the water from his narrow back.
“You have strong hands,” he said as he whirled around, and before I knew what was happening he had buried his head in my chest and was inhaling deeply. “And you smell wonderful.” I wasn’t sure what to do. I couldn’t push him away, which was my first instinct. That would pretty much be the end of the experiment. The only other way I could respond was to stand there and wait until he finished. But if he went too far, I would have to put a stop to it.
He inhaled again, and stood back. “You have a magnificent bouquet,” he said. “And I’m not just talking about the cheep cologne. There’s an inherently masculine sent about you. It’s quite titillating. Now, please dry my chest.”
He stood with his arms outstretched, looking at me expectantly. I was already standing there with the towel, and he hadn’t really asked me to do anything inappropriate. I started just below his neck and moved quickly to his bellybutton.
“Now go lower,” he said. I looked up and he was grinning. Ok, that was it. He’d gone too far. I stood up and handed him the towel and turned to go.
“Wait,” he cried, laughing. “Wait.” But he had pushed me too far and I was finished. I made it to the door before he called, “Stop, Mr. Justin Conroy, the child child psychologist.” I stopped and turned to face him. He knew. He knew who I really was! And he must have always known.
The look on my face must have been truly comical, because he was rolling around on the floor, clutching his sides with laughter.
“What did you call me?” I asked.
He sat up and looked at me, grinning. “The child child psychologist. That’s what your professors at Columbia called you, or maybe you hadn’t heard that.”
As it happened, I hadn’t. But I put that little nugget aside for later. “Well,” I said, “I guess that’s the end of that.”
“I’m sorry,” he said, “I was really planning on playing along a little longer, but it was much harder to keep a straight face than I imagined.” Then he got up, went to his bed and began to dress himself in the clothes I had laid out for him.
“I must admit,” he continued, “it was one of my father’s more inspired ideas. Magna cum-laude at Columbia, and he’s got you shining my shoes.” He broke out in fresh peels of laughter.
I started laughing myself. It was kind of funny. “I guess I’d make a pretty lousy spy,” I said turning to go.
“Wait a minute, wait a minute,” he said. “Where are you going?”
“I think the experiment is over, Evan,” I said. “Time for me to go back to New York, where I belong.”
“No, no,” he said, “don’t be so hasty. I’d like you to stay.”
“Are you saying you’re open to counseling sessions?”
“I don’t need counseling,” he said, his good humor slipping for just a moment. “That’s a delusion of my father’s. No, I’d like you to stay because as long as you’re around he won’t send anyone else snooping after me. And I think I’d like the company of someone who’s almost as smart as I am. Plus, I wasn’t lying. You do smell divine.”
Almost as smart as he was? I was trying to decide if it was just bluster or if he really believed that. “Well, thank you Evan, but if you won’t be counseled, there’s not much incentive for me to stay.”
“Oh I think I can provide that,” he said, pulling on his blazer. “Come here.” He led me over to his computer which I could see had already been booted up. He hit a couple of keys and a picture flashed on the screen. I caught my breath. In the photo, Evan was standing naked with his head buried in my chest.
“The camera was set to take one photo every second,” he said. “So you can imagine what kind of photos I have, and they’re backed up in several locations across the globe. If just one of these were to get out, you’d be finished as a child psychologist.”
To say I was stunned would be a gross understatement. He was, of course, absolutely right. I was looking at the end of my career before it had even begun. And the casual matter-of-fact way Evan was presenting me with this ultimatum, helped me to see why his father suspected sociopathic tendencies.
“You don’t have to answer now,” he said. “I’ll be back up from dinner in an hour. Use the time to think it over.” He turned and headed for the door, but paused before he got there. “Oh,” he said, turning. “I’ll be wearing the Armani tux to the party tonight.” Then he was gone, whistling the 1812 Overture as he went.
I sat down on the bed, still in a state of shock. I had always thought I was so smart and yet somehow this kid had wrapped me around his little finger before I even suspected what was happening. Well, one thing was certain. I was not about to spend my life as his valet, even if psychology was closed to me. There were many other things I could do. But psychology was what I had my heart set on, and I couldn’t give it up that easily. I decided to try to talk to Evan, reason with him. I did not lay out his tux. And when he got back that was the first thing he noticed.
“No tux?” he said. “I’m disappointed.”
“I’m not going to spend my life laying out your clothes,” I said.
“Nor would I expect you to,” he returned. “I just need you for about a year.”
A year? Did I want to spend a year with this little monster?
“Come now,” he said. “One year for an entire career. Is that such a hard trade to make? After that, if you want to leave, you’ll be free to go.”
“I assure you,” I said, “I will want to.”
“Don’t be so sure,” he said. “I intend to be the most powerful man in the world. It’s just possible you could have a part in that.” This kid wasn’t just a sociopath, he had a god complex, too. I found myself wondering if maybe I might find someway to help him, despite everything. Well, if I was going to hang around for a year, I might as well give it a try.
“We’ll see,” I said.
“I don’t expect you to believe me now,” he said. “But wait a year and then make up your mind. In the meantime, we shall have to keep up the valet pretense, if only to placate my father. So, if you could kindly get my tux, the hour is getting late.”
He began to undress, and not knowing what else to do, I went into his closet to get his tux. When I returned, I found him shirtless in front of the mirror, flexing his non-existent muscles.
“I think I should be bigger, don’t you?” he said without turning around. “Being physically intimidating would be a definite asset, plus muscles are damn hot.”
How did I respond to this? I decided to put away the valet and my personal feelings and let the psychologist out. “You can certainly hire a trainer and start working out,” I said. “In fact, I think you should. But to imagine you’ll ever be physically intimidating is just unrealistic. We all have to live with the genetic package God gave us, Evan. Pretending anything else is just fooling ourselves.”
He turned around and looked up at me with a slight frown on his face. “First of all, don’t call me Evan. I don’t mind personally, but if you get used to it, you might slip up and call me Evan in front of someone else and that would just give the whole thing away. So, it should be Young Master Phips at all times. Is that understood?”
I nodded. “Sure.”
“Secondly, there have been a lot of scientific advances since God’s time, and you would be surprised how many of his edicts now have loopholes. But I forgive your ignorance. Tomorrow, we will visit Gencorp and begin your education. I will become huge, possibly the largest, strongest man the world has ever seen. It’s only fitting a brain like mine has a body to match. And you will be witness to my transcendence.”
His words shocked me more than I can say. I finished helping him into his tux and saw him out the door to the party without saying another word. It was clear to me that Evan Phips was one very sick, delusional teenager. But more than that, he had a genius IQ along with money and power and that made him dangerous as well. It was then I realized my calling. I would save the world from him and save him from himself. I didn’t know how I was going to do it, but somehow I had to.
Evan had slept in the morning after his party, but I had no such luxury. Even though I was obligated to wait up until after he had retired for the evening, so I could help him get ready for bed, I was also required to be up with the sun in case he decided to rise early. He didn’t. And believe me I understood why. Obviously the drinking age wasn’t strictly enforced around here. When he had stumbled back to his room he could barely stand. Then I spent nearly an hour getting him washed and into his monogrammed silk pajamas. He was propositioning me constantly in a slurred voice, and I spent half my time just holding him off me.
“You won’t be able to resist me when I’m massive,” he slurred, while he pawed at me and squeezed me at every opportunity. “But then I don’t expect you’ll want to.”
By the time he finally passed out between the sheets I was dog tired. I just made it into my bed before I passed out as well. Then it seemed like only seconds before the alarm rang, signaling me it was time to get up. I stumbled out of bed, showered, got dressed and made my way down to the kitchen for breakfast. Anton was already there sipping coffee and reading the paper.
“So, how was your first day?” he asked.
“It’s one I’m not likely to forget,” I said, thinking that this was as much as I could safely say.
“Young Master Phips is quite the rapscallion, isn’t he?”
“That’s one way of putting it. Do they always let him drink like that?”
“I’m sure I don’t know what you mean.”
“Last night when he got back to his room, he was completely snookered.”
“That’s not possible.”
“I had to undress him and I assure you he was very, very drunk.”
“Mr. Conroy,” started Anton, in a tone that told me I was going to get another lecture. “Last night’s party was attended almost exclusively by underage guests. There was no alcohol served. I, myself, saw Young Master Phips moments before he retired and I assure you he was completely sober.”
I rubbed my butt where Evan had pinched it repeatedly, and I thought for a second that Anton might be playing a joke on me, but then I remembered that Anton had no sense of humor what-so-ever. “He was sober?”
“As a stone. I expect he was merely playing one of his pranks on you.”
“Why that little… rapscallion.” I couldn’t believe it. He’d done it to me again. That was twice in one day Young Master Phips had completely taken me in. He was toying with me, completely taking advantage of my good nature.
Anton began to jabber on about the weather and the chances the Red Socks would win the pennant this year, but I wasn’t listening. All I could think of was that smug, arrogant kid and where he’d put his hands last night. I wondered why the subterfuge? Why didn’t he just come right out and order me to have sex with him? He had enough black mail material to attempt it. But I knew the answer. I would have refused him. I would have decided to cut my losses and get out. And somehow that diminutive letch had figured that out.
After breakfast I went back to my room to think things over. I realized I couldn’t treat Evan like an ordinary patient. Besides the fact that he was quite devious and manipulative, he had power over me, and he had no scruples at all about using it. I should expect only the worst kinds of behavior from him. I was going to have to tread very carefully around him, watch every word I said, and expect that nothing about him would be as it seemed. This gave him a definite advantage over me because I was naturally a very straight forward person, and I had a strong moral sense. What you saw was what you got. If I was gong to stand a chance over the next year, this might have to change—at least around Evan.
The buzzer on my wall rang which meant Young Master Phips had need of me. I collected myself and quickly made my way to his room. I knocked once, and then without waiting for an answer, entered. Evan was standing in front of his mirror flexing again, and whistling the 1812 Overture. Looking at his body I wondered if it might be somehow possible that he was comprised solely of skin and bone under that sickly blotchy skin of his, with the occasional undersized organ thrown in for good measure.
“I think I’ll wear my grey suit today,” he said without looking over at me. He seemed wide awake, alert and healthy. I thought he might at least fake a hangover, but apparently he didn’t feel the need. He’d gotten what he wanted, his hands in places I never would have tolerated had he been sober. Or maybe he was just trying to provoke a reaction from me. Either way, I decided not to mention it at all.
I went into his closet and returned with his suit.
“We’re going up to Sudbury, today,” he said. “It’s a small city near Boston. I have a… business interest there. So, please pack enough for an overnight trip.”
“I have to say, the whole valet thing is getting on my nerves,” I said. “Do we really need to keep up the front?”
“It’s necessary to keep my father off guard,” answered Evan, “to make him think he doing something cunning and underhanded. He’s never happier than when he thinks he’s outsmarting me. So, I let him think that a lot. But soon those days will be over,” said Evan getting a hungry look in his eye. “However for the present, we’ll need to keep up the pretense on every level or it won’t be convincing. So, you’d best pack my things.”
I was packing his clothes almost before I realized it. I couldn’t believe it. I was stuck with him for a year, a year! I kept running it through my head. How could this have happened to me? I still wasn’t sure. But of one thing I was sure: I wasn’t going to remain his valet for much longer. Somehow, I’d find a way out of it.
I went back to my room to pack my own meager case and was somewhat startled when my cell phone rang. I’d already explained to my friends and family that I’d taken a confidential job and I wasn’t allowed to talk about it. They immediately had started joking about working for the CIA, and at this point I was sorry they were wrong. I had told them they shouldn’t call me and that I would call them, and I did pretty regularly. So, there was only one person who would be calling me, and I honestly didn’t know what I was going to tell him.
“Hi Cody,” I said flipping the phone open. “You must be back.” Man, I could feel my temperature rising just thinking about him. He was 19 and on the US Gymnastics team. He had light brown hair, dazzling blue eyes, chiseled features and a body that would stop traffic. Sure he was a little short, but the rest of the package more than made up for it. I still wasn’t sure how I wound up with him, but he said brainy guys turned him on. Who was I to argue?
“Yeah,” he said, “I’m back, but where are you? I walk into your place and it looks like it hasn’t been lived in for a month.”
“So, how did the meets go?” I said, trying desperately to lead the conversation away from me. They were currently running all over the world participating in qualifying meets.
“France was a piece of cake but Germany gave us some trouble. I really have to work on my pommel horse if I want to come out on top… which is basically where I hoped I be with you tonight. What gives?”
“Something came up,” I said.
“Again, basically what I was hoping for tonight,” he said. “Where are you?”
“I’m out of town. I can’t really talk about it.”
“That’s just great,” he said. “I’ve only got a few days before I leave for Japan.”
“I know. I’m sorry. I’m kind of stuck here for a while.”
“Can’t you get unstuck? We’re going to China after Japan so I won’t be back for a few weeks.”
“I would if I could but things are more complicated than you can imagine.”
“What’s the matter?” he asked, suddenly sounding concerned. “Are you in some kind of trouble?”
I desperately wanted to tell him everything, but Cody was a little hot headed and compulsive. Knowing him, he’d come charging out here to confront Evan, and that could only mean disaster for both of us. We had to keep our relationship under the radar. Not that Cody was ashamed of who he was; it’s just that his orientation could cost him some of the endorsements he hoped to secure after the Olympics. And knowing Evan’s predilection for blackmail, the last thing I wanted was for Cody to become involved.
“It’s nothing I can’t handle,” I told him. “Just kill at your meets and I’ll try to be in town when you get back from Asia.”
On the way down to the car, Evan and I ran into Malcolm Phips who was also preparing to go, most likely to his offices in the city.
“Leaving us already,” he said to Evan. “I hear you’re taking the jet.”
“Just up to Boston,” said Evan. “I’m visiting that small company I bought.” He glanced at the ground and shuffled his feet. And that’s when I realized it. Evan wasn’t at all confident of his superiority over his father. In fact, he was scared of him. Malcolm Phips was probably the one human being on the planet that had real power over him. Almost instantly I began to think of ways in which I could use this. Then I stopped, horrified. I was starting to think like Evan, starting to manipulate people. Did I really want to go this route? Did I really have a choice?
“Oh, yes, NuGen,” said Malcolm. “R & D companies are generally bad investments. If I were you, I’d sell it off quickly.”
“I may just do that,” said Evan.
“You’re taking your valet?” said Malcolm, nodding at me and raising his eyebrow.
“I find his services useful,” said Evan,
From the look Malcolm Phips shot me I could tell we’d be speaking shortly. I wondered what he thought was going on. Whatever it was, he was the one weapon I had over Evan and I would have to make the most of my audience with him.
Malcolm’s glance had not been lost on Evan either. As soon as the car left the drive, he turned to me and said, “My father will no doubt be calling on you soon. I just want you to know that whatever is said at that meeting will be known to me almost instantaneously. So don’t even think of appealing to him for help. If you do, I will release those photos at once.”
“I understand,” I said, purposely leaving my answer cryptic. I knew he was looking for assurance that I wouldn’t give him away and take the consequences—something I was sorely tempted to do anyway—but I decided to deny it to him. I was getting manipulative.
“I mean it,” he said.
“I know you do,” I said, not giving an inch. I could tell I was unsettling him. My guess had been right. His father really made him nervous. Now I had a weapon, but one that could undo me as easily as it could aid me. I would have to be very careful when I wielded it.
When we got to the airport, there was someone waiting for us, the biggest man I’d ever laid eyes on. He had to be about six foot six or seven inches tall. He was black with a shaved head and sunglasses. He was easily twice as wide as I was and about four times as thick, and his tightly fitted, immaculate designer suit left little doubt that he was all muscle.
Evan saw me gaping and chuckled. “Justin, this is Armond, my bodyguard. Armond, this is Justin, my new valet.” Armond regarded me with an expression that seemed to say he could either say hello or break my neck; either option would suit him fine. In short, he scared the crap out of me.
“Are we going someplace dangerous?” I asked, keeping one eye on Armond.
Evan chuckled. “No. My father is paranoid about kidnappers. He makes me take Armond with me wherever I go. They wouldn’t let him up at school, though. Pity, it might have been amusing.” I almost asked him what he meant, but then I decided I’d rather not know.
After a short flight and another drive we arrived at a nondescript office building in an ordinary looking office park. Within minutes we were meeting with NuGen’s president and founder, Doctor Eugene Kramer.
Of course Evan hadn’t been the slightest bit interested in the presentation they had prepared for him. He wanted to know about alleged illegal experiments the company had been doing on the human genome.
The middle aged man shifted nervously. “I’m sure there’s nothing like that going on here,” said the Doctor, his voice trembling slightly as he looked across the table at Evan. “All research into human genetics is strictly regulated by congress.”
“Let’s cut through it, shall we, Doctor Kramer,” said Evan. “I have just invested a substantial amount of money in your company and I didn’t do it to provide cheep insulin so the world’s mounting population of diabetics could go on stuffing themselves with over sugared treats.
“No, I invested in you because I have received information that you have done substantial work in improving human beings on the genetic level. If this is not the case, then your organization holds no interest for me, and as your majority stock holder, I will seize control of NuGen, break it up and sell off its assets. That should not only recoup my investment but net me a nice little profit as well.”
Dr. Kramer went pale. I could have told him resisting Evan was useless. He apparently didn’t go into negotiations unless he held all the cards. I was no businessman, but even I was beginning to sense that.
“Very well,” said Dr. Kramer. “Follow me.”
The doctor led us past several doors that required key cards and entry codes until we reached a small lab, where it looked like he kept several large Pit Bulls in locked cages. Now I knew Pit Bulls were heavily built dogs, but these Pit Bulls were insanely muscular. Each muscle seemed to be bulging out in ridiculous proportions to the rest of their body. It made me very glad they were inside cages. And now that I looked at them more closely I could see other things that didn’t quite look right. They seemed to have long hair; I’d never heard of a long haired Pit Pull. It looked like they had no necks and their legs, although incredibly muscular, seemed far too short and stubby.
“What kind of dogs are these?” I asked. Evan looked annoyed at my question—that is until the Doctor answered it.
“These are not dogs. They’re Guinea pigs,” said the Doctor. Guinea pigs? Those things were humongous. It simply wasn’t possible. But as I looked closer, I could see the ears, the teeth and the tails were defiantly those of a rodent. My God, what kind of obscenities were these?
Evans face lit up and he started to examine the animals more closely. “Incredible,” he said. “And you’ve done this with humans?”
“We are ready for human testing,” said the Doctor, “But congress will never approve it.”
“But you have tested it, haven’t you?”
The Doctor shifted uncomfortably “There has been human… exposure,” said the Doctor, “but it was unsanctioned, uncontrolled, and unmonitored.”
“But not unrecorded?” asked Evan.
“The subject did keep a crude video log. We found it only recently. It was hidden very well. He must have either forgotten about it or maybe in the end he just didn’t care.”
The Doctor walked over to a monitor and hit a couple of keys. A picture came up of a geeky looking guy not much older than me. He had a thin build, glasses, a goofy grin, a lab coat with a pocket protector, the works.
“This is Milo Thackeray,” said Doctor Kramer. “Twenty-three years old, he was here on an internship from Harvard.”
The Doctor hit a key and the video image of Milo Thackeray sprang to life.
“I just tried calling Joann,” the video Milo said. “She’s not picking up. I’ll bet anything she’s with that football jock Brad, again. I think there might something going on. I didn’t like the way he was looking at her the other day, and I liked the way she was looking at him even less. And the way he kept bumping into me, knocking me around in front of her. I mean, jeeze, the guy has to weigh twice what I do.”
The Doctor hit a key and paused the image. “There’s a great deal of this,” he said. “He goes on at some length about his fear of losing his girlfriend to this football player. There’s no need to hear it all.” He hit a couple more keys and suddenly Milo was addressing us again.
“I finally got into that secret lab of theirs and you wouldn’t believe what they’re doing in there. This could totally solve all my problems with Joann…” The Doctor cut him off again and jumped forward to another point in time.
“I did it,” said Milo. “I went through the process. It was pretty rough. I wasn’t sure I was going to make it for a while, but I pulled through and now here I am. I don’t feel much different, and so far no sign of any changes.”
The Doctor entered and new time code and the image shifted. I had to stifle a gasp. It was Milo again but he looked different, bigger, thicker, and broader, as if he were a college football player, himself.
“This shits amazing,” said Milo, beaming into the camera. “I got on the scale this morning—30 pounds heavier in just two months. And it’s all muscle, all of it. He flexed for the web cam and I could see he had a nice sized bicep bulging in his lab coat. “Joann’s stopped looking at Brad now. I knew it would work.”
“That seems to have turned out well,” I said.
“Hmm,” said the Doctor, and he hit another key. It was Milo again, and oh my God, he’d gotten much larger. His lab coat barely fit him any more. It was pulling tight around his big upper arms and bunching up around the shoulders. He wore it open now, probably because it was uncomfortable for him to close it around those substantial pecs of his which were thrusting out toward the camera and bullying his shirt buttons. And his neck, God, it was thick with corded muscle, and almost as wide as his head. Even his Adam’s apple looked larger and when Milo started speaking, his voice was deeper.
“Last night, Joann said I was getting too big, that I was starting to scare her,” said Milo. “Can you believe that? There’s no pleasing her. First I was too small; now I’m too big.” He rolled his eyes, but then started looking serious again. “The problem is,” he said, looking a little worried, “I don’t know how to stop the growth… or even if I can.” He looked from side to side as if he were afraid someone might overhear. “And there’s something else.” His voice dropped to a whisper as if he were sharing a secret with the computer. “I’m not sure I want to stop it. All this muscle, it’s amazing!” He flexed for the camera. A very large bicep ballooned up on his arm and I heard threads snap. “I feel fantastic. It’s awesome, being so big, with all this muscle. I’m so strong it’s unreal, and I look unbelievably hot. The way people look at me… They either want to be me or they want to fuck me. It’s awesome. I’ve never felt like this in my life, powerful, confident, like I could do anything. But Joann… she doesn’t like it. I don’t know what to do.”
“That young man’s getting quite large,” said Evan. I could see he was tenting. “And you didn’t notice anything?”
Doctor Kramer shook his head. “He said he was working out and I’m afraid none of us were paying that much attention to how fast he was growing. Remember this took place over several months, nearly a year.” The doctor hit another couple of keys. “Let me show you how we finally found out.”
On the screen was a lab. There was a large emitter putting out some kind of green light. The scientists were milling about in it wearing lab coats and goggles, checking monitors, and writing on clipboards.
“That green light is a type of radiant biological energy we’ve been experimenting with,” explained Doctor Kramer, pointing out the green light in the video. “It’s part of our research to end work hunger. As you can see my colleagues are walking around in it completely unaffected. It has a negligible effect on ordinary people, but to someone who’s been processed… Well, see for yourselves.”
The door opened and in walked Milo, looking pretty much as he had in the last journal entry. As soon as he entered the lab, he paused for a moment and swayed slightly putting his hand to his head. He seemed to recover swiftly and crossed the lab to one of the other scientists. He started talking to him but stopped, pulled off his goggles and started rubbing his eyes.
“You ok?” asked the scientist.
“I don’t know,” said Milo. “I feel kind of strange.”
Then it started happening. Milo began to grow. I could see his muscles starting to swell up under his lab coat, pulling it tighter.
“Unhhhh,” he said, as the buttons began popping off his shirt. The other scientist stepped back.
“Guess I should have bought a bigger shirt,” said Milo.
His shirt front was now wide open, exposing his white undershirt which barely contained a large set of rapidly growing pecs. Only a couple of buttons around his remarkably narrow waste still held on.
He turned toward the emitter. “It’s the energy,” he said, moaning. “It feels so good.” He spread his arms wide and the growth seemed to intensify. “What a rush.” His white undershirt pulled tighter and tighter as his pecs grew fuller and rounder beneath it. Suddenly he inhaled sharply and shook his head like he was trying to clear it.
“Whoa!” he said, as he looked down at his bulging shirt front. “I’m… getting bigger. I… I don’t understand…” Suddenly, he gasped. His bull neck had grown to the point where the t-shirt collar was digging into it. He reached up with his meaty hand and yanked on his shirt, ripping it open, tearing a gap, and exposing the top of his large, growing striated pecs. His hand lingered on them, feeling their swelling hardness, and then… “This is FUCKING INCREDIBLE!” he shouted.
Then pop, pop, Riiiip and the seams on his lab coat shoulders gave way, as Milo’s delts, covered in a layer of shredded white cotton, bulged up and just seemed to keep getting bigger while they stretched out further and further from his thickening neck. “Oh man, I feel so fucking jacked!” He raised his arms and flexed. His sleeves filled instantly with something big hard and unyielding. The cloth tensed; the material snapped, popped and exploded as giant, powerful, vein ridden biceps erupted out of them.
“Oh fuck, my arms!” he said. “Look at my arms! They’re fucking huge!” He turned around displaying himself for the rest of the shocked scientists. And as he did, the back of his lab coat split open, wrenched apart by tremendous slabs of shredded, undulating muscle ripping its way to freedom.
“Oh fuck yeah!” he cried. “Fuck yeah! All this fucking muscle all over me. So fucking big. So fucking hard! So fucking hot.”
Huge rents and tears began opening up in his pant legs as his massive quads exploded with size and tore their way out.
“Yes!” he cried, looking down at his bulging, segmented thighs, “un-fucking-stoppable!”
His t-shirt finally gave up the battle and blew into shreds releasing his giant pecs, which sat on top of six stacked boulders which he probably called abs.
“Oh fuck yeah!” he cried.
Dr. Kramer pointed at one of the scientists on the screen. “At this point Doctor Petersen had the presence of mind to realize what was happening and shut the emitter down.” We watched Dr. Petersen scramble over to the emitter and hit a button; the green light faded.
Milo stopped growing but he still seemed to be caught up in some kind of frenzy. He ripped the shredded clothes from his body, and oh my God, he was a beast. Huge, ripped, lean muscle bulged out all over him, covering him from head to foot. He might have been twice as thick as he was when he walked into the room. He looked like a Mr. Olympia contender. He had a cock that would put a horse to shame, and it was fully primed and ready for business. He flexed his massive biceps for his quivering audience and they blasted out of his arms like twin volcanoes. He looked at them with an expression of primal joy.
“Joann’s gonna dump me now for sure,” he said. “She liked me small and weak and helpless. But I like me better like this! Oh yeah, a lot better like this.” And he pumped his giant arms up even bigger. “Look at these puppies. Who needs the fucking bitch when you’ve got guns like these?” He leaned over and licked his left peak.
“And just incase she thinks she’s gonna live happily ever after with Brad, I’ll fucking break him into pieces. With this body I can fucking do it, too, without even breaking a sweat. He’s only dreamed of having fucking biceps like these,” and he pumped his massive arms again making those rock hard mountains of flesh bulge up even bigger and the veins stand out even more, “biceps that will crush him like a paper cup at a water cooler. He won’t stand a chance against all this muscle. And every inch of me is made of muscle now. I can feel it, every granite-hard pound of it. I’m a fucking muscle tank. He’ll break his puny little fists on these massive rock hard abs and I’ll break his scrawny little pencil neck with just one fucking muscle finger. He thinks he’s a real man. I’ll show the fucking runt what a real man really is.” Then he reached over and grabbed a particularly heavy piece of lab equipment and with massive biceps bulging, raised it up over his head, and threw it across the room, where it broke apart against the wall.
Doctor Kramer shut down the monitor. “He destroyed half the lab before we could tranquilize him.”
“Where is he now?” asked Evan, gasping slightly. I could see a wet patch had formed at his crotch.
“When he came to, he was much calmer,” said the Doctor. “We gave him the choice of either submitting himself for a full range of tests, or dismissal. He chose to leave us.”
“And you just let him go?” I said.
“It’s still a free country,” said Doctor Kramer, “and we’re not exactly set up to keep prisoners. And we really couldn’t file a law suit because the process was illegal. Still the episode yielded some useful information. The process obviously causes personality changes and there was a marked decrease in intelligence. It would be fascinating to study it further, but we can only do that with more human testing and the FDA would never approve it.”
“That, Doctor Kramer, is why God gave us NAFTA,” said Evan. “I can have you set up in Mexico inside a week. But first I want you to tell me all about your process. Don’t leave anything out. You may have to explain some of the basics, but I think you’ll find I’m a quick study.” Then Evan turned to me. “Justin, there’s no reason for you to stay for this. Why don’t you take Armond, go to the hotel and arrange our rooms.”
I was being dismissed. This casual reminder of our employer/valet relationship was not exactly what it seemed. Evan kept me around long enough to see that what he proposed was actually possible, but he didn’t want me to have any more details than that.
I turned to go, but he stopped me with a word. “Wait,” he commanded. “Two things: first, there may be someone waiting for you at the hotel. Just remember our earlier conversation and everything will be fine.” I nodded, completely understanding what he was talking about. “And second, before you go, please bring me a change of pants from the car.”
As soon as I had gotten to the hotel and finished checking us in, Armond tapped me on the shoulder and led me to one of the hotel’s meeting rooms. I had no doubt who would be waiting.
Malcolm Phips was seated alone at the head of the long conference table. Laptop open and with an ear piece in his ear he was barking instructions at some underling in a distant location. As soon as he saw me, he ended his conversation.
“Mr. Conroy,” he said, getting right to the point, “Evan has never taken a valet on a trip before. Kindly explain what is going on?”
This was my chance. I was going to have to tread very, very carefully. There was a chance Evan would hear every word I said. “Evan knows about me,” I said. “He has from the beginning.” That was as close as I could get to warning the tycoon, that his son was somehow keeping tabs on his dealings. I hoped Malcolm was sharp enough to pick up on it.
“He knows about you and yet he keeps you around?” asked Malcolm puzzled.
“I’d like to tell you I’m still here because he’s agreed to therapy,” I said, “but unfortunately it is exactly as you described; he doesn’t think he needs it.”
“He keeps me around mostly to placate you. He believes that while I am around, you won’t send anyone else to check up on him.”
Phips nodded as the obvious truth of this sank in. “And you went along with this?”
“I think I can help him,” I said. “He does need help, and if he doesn’t get it, there could be serious consequences down the road. He listens to me to a point, and I think eventually I can get him to trust me enough to confide in me. And then we can go from there.”
“You really believe that?”
“I do. But the valet pretense is getting in the way. It puts me at a definite disadvantage. He thinks he needs to keep it up to fool you, but there’s really no need for that any longer.”
Phips contemplated this for a minute before he said, “Well then there’s only one thing to do. I shall have to engage a new valet for Evan and you, Mr. Conroy, can begin focusing all your efforts on treating my son.”
Yes! I wanted to shout. Mission accomplished. No more valet. But I still wasn’t sure how Evan was going to take this.
He didn’t get back from NuGen until very late and when he did he was furious. It was the first time I’d ever seen him lose his cool, which just emphasized how scared he was of his father.
“I’m so close and you could have ruined everything! I should send out those photos right now!”
“Then why don’t you?” I said, calling his bluff. “What’s changed? I’m still stuck to you like glue. Your father won’t be sending anyone else to check up on you. The only difference is I won’t be tucking you in at night.”
“You defied me!” He shouted, getting right up in my face. “I don’t think you realize your situation. I own you. For the next year you are my property. You will not do anything, unless I tell you to. Is that clear enough for you? You went to my father behind my back and believe me there will be consequences.”
“You’ll send out the photos?” I asked.
“Oh no, I have a much better idea. But by the time I’m done, you may wish I had released those photos.”
Evan turned and marched from my room. I couldn’t tell if he was bluffing or not, but I planned to keep my eyes open at all times just in case. I couldn’t imagine what he could do to me that would be worse than what he’d already done. But I wouldn’t put it past him to attempt something.
Of course my role in all of this was becoming a little clearer to me. Evan needed an audience for what he was about to do, someone who could appreciate his achievements, and I was the one he’d chosen.
The following morning, all traces of Evan’s outburst had vanished. He was his usual cool, collected self again. But he was looking a little pale—that is, paler than usual. And as we drove towards the airport, I asked him, “Are you feeling alright this morning, Evan?”
“Ah,” said Evan, “the compassionate doctor checking on his emotionally unstable patient.”
“I don’t find you emotionally unstable,” I said. “If anything the reverse is true. You keep yourself under tight control at all times, a little too tight. The occasional emotional outburst, like you had last night, would do you good.”
Evan leaned back and closed his eyes. “Yes, I did act rather badly last night. I apologize for my bad temper, but you did act inappropriately.”
“Evan,” I said, “if you didn’t want someone who would push back, then you shouldn’t have ensnared someone who was “almost as smart” as you are.”
He cracked open one eye and regarded me briefly before closing it again and smiling. “No, I shouldn’t have, should I?” Then he drifted off to sleep.
Evan slept the rest of the way to the airport. He didn’t look at all well and when I put my hand on his forehead I could tell he was running a fever. By the time we got to the plane, it had to be over a hundred. He was in a hurry to get home but I told him he ought to stay put for a couple of days, see a local doctor and wait for the fever to break, but he wouldn’t listen to me. We flew straight back home. He still continued to bark orders into a phone all the way, continuing to set things up for his Mexican venture even though it looked like he might collapse at any moment. I don’t think I’d ever seen anyone so driven.
As soon as we got back to the Phips estate, Evan went straight to his room and collapsed. He refused to see a doctor and would take only those medications designed to lower his temperature. He was acting very strangely. Rather then bundling under his covers he had them turn up the heat in his room and then lay naked on top of his bed, which he had moved next to the window so he could be in the sun all day.
For some reason, I was the only one he’d let tend him. I suspect it was the measure of control he had over me rather than any kind of sentiment. He repeatedly warned me not to try anything while he was sick because he was sure to find out about it later. To be honest, I was actually concerned for his health. As much as I disliked him, I certainly didn’t want to see him dead. And his illness was so severe it frequently looked like it might end that way. He was so pale and still most of the time and his breath was so raspy. His fever was relentless. It was all I could do to keep him from burning up completely. I don’t think anyone else in the house realized just how bad he was. He had chased them all away and forbidden me to say anything.
And then one day the fever was just gone. I went into his room and found him pale and shaky standing in front of the mirror, dressed only in pants, looking a little bit gaunter, if that was possible, but full of his old fire.
“Good, Justin,” he said when he saw me. “Get ready. We’re leaving for Mexico in an hour.”
“Evan,” I said, “That’s not a good idea. Your fever just broke last night. You should wait a few days a least…”
He looked at me and laughed. “I’m not sick, just the opposite. I’m in better health than I’ve ever been.”
“Better than you’ve ever…? Have you looked at yourself?” I asked.
“Yes, I’ve looked at myself.” He laughed again. “But the better question is have you looked at me? I can’t believe you’re so unobservant. If you were still my valet you would have noticed.”
Then I did notice. Evan’s pant legs were up around his ankles. I looked again more closely. There was no mistaking it. He was about an inch taller than he used to be.
“That was no illness,” said Evan, following my gaze. “That was the first stage of Doctor Kramer’s treatment. I didn’t tell you. I didn’t tell anyone because there was a chance it could have killed me. But I decided to risk it, and it worked. I got through it. I’m changing, Justin; I can feel it working inside me already. I’ve started the journey. Soon I will be gigantic with muscles of tremendous size and power, a colossus the likes of which the world has never seen or even imagined. This is my destiny and I hunger for it. So now we must go to Mexico, to Doctor Kramer, so the main phase can begin.”
Despite Evan’s intentions we did not leave for Mexico within the hour. I was ready to go in the time allotted, even if I was dreading it. I’d been to Mexico once before, a trip to Cancun during spring break. I’d had a glass of tequila with some bad ice in it and spent the rest of the trip emptying my insides—from one end or the other—into a toilet bowl. Needless to say I didn’t rate Mexico very highly.
But my misgivings were not the reason for the delay. It was Evan, himself that caused that. He suddenly discovered that he was hungry. No, not just hungry, ravenous. I really couldn’t be too surprised. He’d hardy eaten anything while he’d been sick. And he dove into the lunch he ordered like a one man eating army. And I will say this for him: the food he ordered was very healthy, lots of lean meats, green vegetables and whole grains. I wondered if he ate like this all the time, and if he did, why was he so thin and sickly?
He finished his meal quickly and surprised everyone by ordering a second, even larger one.
“Hold on,” I said to Evan. “You don’t want to overdo it. You’ll just wind up throwing it all back up again.”
He looked up at me and smiled condescendingly. “Those rules don’t apply to me anymore. I’ve been through the fire and come out alive,” he said. “I’ve changed. I feel completely different. My body is better and stronger than it’s ever been before… but not nearly as strong as it’s going to be. But you’ll see that for yourself, very soon.”
And the rules didn’t seem to apply to him. Evan just kept packing the food away and it didn’t bother him at all. I was really starting to wonder about the process he’d undergone. What exactly had it done to him? Would he really get larger? There could be no doubt he was taller. In fact he had been forced to wear shorts because none of his long pants fit him anymore. But since we were going to sunny Mexico, shorts were all he really needed. And the clothes he was wearing were the only clothes he took.
“It shouldn’t be long before none of my clothes fit me at all,” he said. “I’ll just have to pick up new ones up as I grow.”
Evan really seemed convinced he was going to get bigger. He was treating it like a fact of life. If I hadn’t seen that video at the lab, I would have thought he was delusional. But at this point I didn’t know what to think or expect.
Evan split his time on the plane ride to Mexico between taking on the phone, and eating. I’m pretty sure that by the time we landed he had emptied the galley. And believe it or not, the first thing we did upon arriving was to stop and get some dinner. Evan was in a very good mood and we chatted amiably about the Broadway production of Billy Eliot which we had both recently seen while he gobbled down a huge dinner. He ordered some more food to go and then we boarded our limousine for the last leg of our trip.
At this point I have to confess I had no idea where we were. We flew in on the Phips private jet, and I really couldn’t speak or read Spanish so the local signs weren’t of much help to me. The scenery didn’t help either. It was night and I couldn’t see much of anything, but the bumpy dirt road and the complete lack of electric lights told me we must be somewhere far out in the country. Being a city boy, I found that somewhat disconcerting.
An hour or so later, we finally arrived at a high wall and a locked gate. The chauffeur honked his horn a couple of times and an armed security guard appeared to open the gate for us.
“What is this?” I asked.
“Oh,” said Evan waving his hand dismissively, “apparently some of the local farmers are under the impression that this is still their land—as if it ever was. And sometimes they get a little… rowdy about it. Someone ought to educate them on the realities of modern commerce. I’d attempt it myself, but I seriously doubt they have the capacity to understand it.”
I couldn’t believe Evan’s callousness. “What happened to the farmers who used to live here?” I asked.
“Squatters shacks I believe,” said Evan, “but none are on my land I can promise you that.”
“You put whole families off their land for this?” I asked shocked.
“You’re not going to be dreary are you?” sighed Evan. “I bought this land and now its mine to do with as I please.”
“And the farmers? What happens to them?”
Evan exhaled explosively. “Look, I’ll make you a promise. At the end of the year if everything goes as planned, I’ll give this plot of dirt back to those who like to wallow in it. Will that make you happy?”
I didn’t know what to say. I couldn’t get over the casual way in which Evan liked to play with people’s lives. I didn’t know if I could actually trust him to keep his word, but considering my position I was unlikely to get a better deal. “Fine, yes,” I said. “It would make me feel better.”
“Then it’s done,” said Evan, “and we don’t have to talk about it anymore.”
It was hard for me to take in. He was making life and death decisions for these people on a whim. Other people didn’t mean anything to him.
From the gate it was a short drive up to a large house. The entire area was flood lit and there was new construction going on all over the place. Crews of tired, haggard looking men were busy landscaping and putting up small buildings all over the place. It had to be nine or ten o’clock at night and the workers were still going all out and showing no signs of knocking off for the evening.
“Forgive the mess,” said Evan. “I tried to have it all done before we got here, but the Mexican work ethic leaves much to be desired.”
The car pulled up in front of a large plantation house and we got out. Evan walked up the steps as casually as if he were born there.
“I had to have the whole house redone,” said Evan, waving his arms around him. “The previous owners had appalling taste and I’m told whole house had an unpleasant odor all the way through. But at least that much is finished.”
That was certainly true. When we walked in the only smell was fresh paint and the house seemed very tastefully decorated in old southwest wood and stucco. And the entry hall was not empty. There were people waiting for us.
“Armond,” said Evan walking up to the dark giant, “how are the security arrangements?”
“Everything is in place,” said Armond in a deep rumbling voice.
“Good,” said Evan. “If the farmers give us any more trouble, you can give me a demonstration.”
Then Evan dismissed him with a wave of his hand while he turned his attention to the other people waiting for us, Doctor Kramer and a small, scraggly Mexican boy, who couldn’t have been more than eighteen years old.
“Doctor Kramer, how are things progressing?” asked Evan.
“On schedule,” said the older man. “Manuel here is the first to come through the transition—besides you, of course.”
“Is the tank ready?”
“Just this evening.”
“Then what are we waiting for? Let’s get him inside.”
“Tonight?” asked Doctor Kramer. “It’s too soon. Be patient. The boy’s fever broke only this afternoon.”
“Nonsense, Doctor, I’ve read your notes. Once the fever breaks the transition is complete. He can take it.”
“Well, theoretically yes, but be patient. Prudence—”
“I have no time for patience or for prudence, Doctor. Put him in the tank tonight.”
“Of course, Master Phips,” said the doctor, looking defeated. Then he turned to Manuel and said, “Vamanos.” And the two of them left.
“I can’t believe you’re going to experiment on that kid,” I said.
“I believe the term is “human trials”. And I’m not asking him to do anything I’m not about to do myself.”
“It’s just he’s going first.”
“Believe it or not, that wasn’t my idea. I wanted to go first. But Doctor Kramer convinced me otherwise.”
“That doesn’t make me feel any better about it.”
“Then we should count ourselves lucky that our goal is not to make you feel better.” Evan turned to go but then paused. “Don’t be such a pessimist,” he said. “All the data says this should be a spectacular success. That boy will soon be a young giant, strong and beautiful beyond measure, practically a living god. You should be happy for him.”
Is that what Evan wanted for himself, to be a living god? I had little doubt. It seemed to be the attitude he had already adopted toward most people. When I didn’t answer him, Evan just shook his head and yawned. “I find myself quite fatigued,” he said. “I’m going to retire. When you’re ready I’m sure that obsequious little man over there would be happy to show you to your room.” Evan pointed at a small Mexican man who was bowing repeatedly and then headed up the stairs.
I was not ready for sleep yet, far from it. I had a few questions I wanted to put to Doctor Kramer. But first I had to find him and that proved to be quite a challenge. Most of the staff did not speak English, but fortunately they did seem to understand the name, Dr. Kramer. After a ridiculous amount of hand gestures and pointing, I found myself out in back of the house looking at what seemed to be a mud brick warehouse of some kind. It seemed kind of old so I doubt Evan had it built. I wondered if I was in the right place.
I pushed open the door and went inside. The place was one large open space, about 40 feet wide and sixty feet long. It was dimly lit except for an area near the middle where a large glass tank had been placed. It was filled with a light green glowing, bubbling liquid. Poor little Manuel was there, sitting and shaking on the edge of a platform next to the tank. He looked miserable. He was naked except for a kind of diaper and he was hooked up to wires and electrodes stuck to his bare skin. If Evan was looking for a Mexican body double, he couldn’t have done much better. I could see every one of this kid’s ribs and his arms and legs were bone thin, no doubt due to malnutrition and poor living conditions, which were probably also partially responsible for his stunted height. I felt bad for this kid. His whole life had been a raw deal and now he winds up as a human experiment. I wondered where his parents were and if they knew what was being done to their son. There was a rough looking security guard standing over him. Every once in a while Manuel would steel a pleading glance up at him, but the guard just scowled back.
Dr. Kramer was there along with a couple of other men who could only be technicians. They were running back and forth, checking and rechecking computer screens. I walked over to them but they took no notice of me until I spoke.
“Doctor Kramer, what exactly are you going to do to this boy?”
Doctor Kramer slid his glasses down his nose and peered at me over them. “Didn’t Master Phips tell you? Where is he? I thought he’d want to see this.”
“Young Master Phips has retired for the evening,” I said. “I’m hardly surprised since his fever broke only last night.”
Doctor Kramer waved his hand submissively. “His recovery will be swift and complete. By tomorrow there’ll be no evidence he was sick at all.”
“What did you do to him?”
Doctor Kramer sighed. “In essence, I used a genetically engineered virus to go in and reprogram Master Phips’ cells. The high fever was merely the immune system reacting as it would towards any virus.”
“So his cells have been reprogrammed? To what purpose?”
“So he can grow, of course,” said Doctor Kramer. “But that’s not the problem we face here tonight.”
“No, Master Phips’ genetic restructuring is complete. He will continue to grow at a steady pace without any further treatments. In three to five years’ time he would have gained more than a foot in height and an abnormally high amount of lean muscle mass.”
Man, a huge Evan, it could really happen. That was a little hard to take in. In fact, it was a little frightening. “You said would have been?”
“Master Phips is very impatient. He does not want to wait three to five years.”
“And this tank speeds things along? How?”
“Manuel’s and Master Phips’ cells have also been altered to absorb energy directly. It’s an offshoot of some research I was doing to alleviate world hunger. But unlike our lab accident, we’re using a chemical bath as a catalyst. This gives us more control over the rate and quality of absorption. The energy is released into the tank. The liquid acts as a conductor of sorts, simultaneously saturating the entire body, allowing the cells to take in huge quantities at once. This should trigger a metabolic reaction and we should see some rapid growth. But this is its first real test. I’m not really sure it will work, or what effect it will have.”
“And you’re putting a human being in there?”
“As I said, Mr. Phips is extremely impatient.”
“Then maybe Mr. Phips should hop into that tank.”
“No!” said Doctor Kramer. “Don’t you see? This process of directly absorbing energy, when refined, could end world hunger. Eventually, people could gain nourishment directly from sunlight using a method very similar to the one plants use. Master Phips has promised me complete funding to develop the technology… if he survives that is. There’s so much at stake here; I can’t take the risk.”
“No, you’ll leave that to Manuel.”
Dr. Kramer shot me a dark look. “Manuel will be fine. All the preliminary tests were very… encouraging.”
“What does that mean?”
“It means its time to put Manuel into the tank.” Doctor Kramer nodded at the guard who barked something to Manuel in rapid Spanish. Manuel looked up at him wide eyed and quickly shook his head. The guard repeated his instruction and pointed forcefully at the tank. Manuel cringed back and whimpered. Then the guard just lifted his foot, placed the sole of his army boot on the small of Manuel’s back and slowly began pushing him toward the tank’s edge. At first Manuel tried to resist. But his scrawny body had no chance against the burly guard. So he scrambled for this oxygen mask-thing he had hanging on his neck and managed to pull it over his face the second before the guard tipped him into the vat with a splash.
It was at this moment Evan appeared. I hadn’t seen or heard him coming. Suddenly he was just there.
“Good,” said Evan, “You’ve got him in the tank.”
“I thought you were going to get some sleep,” I said.
“I tried,” he said, “but I couldn’t stop thinking about the tank. How is it going, Dr. Kramer?”
“Very well, Master Phips,” said Doctor Kramer, waving at the monitors. “As you can see Manuel is responding exactly as predicted.”
Even went over to look at the readouts, but the monitors meant nothing to me. I just couldn’t take my eyes off of Manuel bobbing up and down completely immersed in the middle of this tank. He was still and his eyes were closed and I wondered if he was conscious or not.
“You’re using an infinitesimally low amount of the energy,” said Evan. “I don’t know how you expect to see any results.”
“It’s our first trial, sir,” said Doctor Kramer. “We’ll mostly be measuring Manuel’s response to the energy, how his body reacts to it. It’s far too soon to expect any growth. After this session is finished we’ll take some blood and tissue samples and run tests on them. If the results are favorable we can go ahead with a slightly larger dose and see how he does with that.”
“It sounds as if you’re talking in weeks, Doctor,” said Evan impatiently.
“Oh yes, sir. It will be several months at least before we’re ready to—
“I don’t have several months,” snapped Evan interrupting the Doctor. Then he strode over to the computer and started typing commands out on the keyboard.
“What are you doing?” cried the Doctor. “Stop!”
“You should have more faith in your calculations, Doctor,” said Evan not even pausing. “I’ve looked them over and I tell you they’re brilliant. Manuel can take a much higher level than this, much higher.”
“You don’t know that,” pleaded the Doctor. “Living beings are infinitely complicated. It simply isn’t possible to anticipate all contingencies.” The Doctor looked over at the Monitor. “Are you insane?” he cried. “That much will kill him!”
“No, Doctor,” said Evan, his eyes shining with a fanatical light. “It will remake him.” And then the tank started bubbling rapidly. Manuel’s eyes shot open, his back arched and he began to twist and writhe within the tank.
“Grow now, Manuel,” said Evan. “Show the god doctor what we’re capable of. You can do it.”
And almost as if he were responding to Evan’s voice, Manuel’s body began to change. It was subtle at first, hard to see. It appeared as if his thread-like muscles and tendons were contracting spasmodically, responding to some stimulus like electric shock. But then as you looked closer you could see that each time they twitched, those thin lines of sinew grew a little thicker.
Evan’s eyes were darting from the computer monitor to the tank. The fevered look in his eyes was almost hungry. “Yes,” he said. “Yes, it’s working.” He looked around frantically until his eyes found Doctor Kramer. The poor man was just standing there with his shoulders drooped and his head hanging, staring at the ground. “Doctor,” he said, “is the mask wired for sound. Can he hear us? Can he talk to us?”
The Doctor just slowly shook his head and whispered, “No.”
“Pity,” said Evan. “I wonder what he’s feeling right now, what he’s thinking as he senses his body growing larger and stronger by the second. It must be exhilarating.”
“I’m sure,” whispered the Doctor, but Evan had already forgotten him and turned his attention back to the tank. Manuel’s body had changed. His arms were no longer merely bones with skin. There was a definite swelling both above the elbows and below them, denoting the beginnings of biceps, triceps and forearms. His thigh muscles were starting to show on his legs along with the seeds of calves. His slight chest had formed into twin bumps and little nubs of muscle had congealed around his bony shoulders.
“Could you please stop now?” asked Doctor Kramer. “You have your growth. Please stop before something happens.”
“Stop?” balked Evan. “We’ve barely gotten started.” And he continued to watch Manuel thrash around in the tank as his body continued to grow. He no longer looked malnourished. His body had the shape of a normal athletic looking teenage boy now. He was still a little thin, but he had six pack abs, visible shoulder muscles, biceps somewhere between a golf ball and a tennis ball. His pecs were like half softballs; his legs were lithe and muscular. It was a little hard to tell with him tossing about in the tank, but I think he might have been taller, too.
“Please, I’m begging you,” said Doctor Kramer. “Stop now. Just let us run a few tests, make sure he’s alright. I promise we’ll be quick.”
Evan appeared to consider it. “Will he go back in the tank tonight?” he asked.
The Doctor hesitated and it looked like Evan was about to dismiss him until the Doctor blurted out, “Tomorrow night. We can put him back in tomorrow night.”
Evan appeared to think about it for a second, then he said, “Very well.” Evan hit a couple of buttons on the computer and the tank ceased it’s bubbling. The guard reached down to pull Manuel out of the tank, but there was no need. The boy was already climbing out of the tank all on his own. He easily pulled himself up the side and jumped up onto the platform with the grace of an Olympic swimmer hopping out of a pool. It was amazing to see the change in him. Even the guard stepped back, a little startled. No longer slumped and cringing, he was standing straight and tall and now that I could see him clearly, it was plain he had grown about four inches taller. But that’s not all. His last few moments in the tank had seen even more growth. He no longer looked simply athletic. He appeared quite muscular, and he stood there dripping and staring in awe at his new strapping body.
At first he tentatively reached up and touched his substantial pecs which stretched out in front of him about as far as his chin. He touched them lightly as though he were afraid they might pop or deflate. But when they didn’t he began feeling them, flexing them and making them jump. I could tell he was sensing the hardness of them as they moved and was enjoying it. Then his hands traveled down to his abs which were now a collection of six solid muscle bricks pushing their way out of his stomach. He ran his fingers over and around the bulges and contours and then made a fist and hit himself there. I saw his expression change from wonder to something else. It was a grin that lit up his face, but it wasn’t merely an expression of joy. There was something hard underneath it. It reminded me of the grins I’d seen on many a high school jock. Kids who knew they had large, powerful bodies, bigger than most of the other guys, and really got off on it.
He flexed his arms, and when big, baseball sized biceps grew out of them, he began to laugh. He grabbed is right bicep and started squeezing it. He laughed and flexed and then flexed some more.
“Well let’s get him down from there,” said Doctor Kramer. “We need to take some blood and tissue samples, and then run a full physical.”
The guard reached over to grab Manuel, but the boy resisted, and subduing him was not the easy task it had been only a short while ago. “Mas!” cried Manuel, “Mas!”
“He’s put on some mass alright,” I said.
“No,” said Evan, smirking. “Manuel is asking for more. He wants more. And who could blame him?”
Just then Manuel broke away from the guard and leapt back into the tank. “Mas,” he called, while treading water “Por favor, Mas!”
Evan looked over at me and shrugged. “I’m such a pushover,” he said and he hit a couple of keys on the computer.
“No!” cried the doctor but it was too late.
The tank began bubbling. Manuel began thrashing and his face contorted as he yelled, “ARGHHHHHHHHHHHHH!” And we all watched as his entire body began to grow thicker. It was amazing.
Manuel seemed perfectly conscious of what was happening to him, and he was enjoying it. No, more than enjoying it; he was exalting in it. He lifted up his hand and stared at it as it grew wider and broader and his fingers got longer and thicker, then he bunched it into a fist and grinned as it grew even more.
He flexed his arm and felt it as it pulsed larger with every beat of his heart. His biceps grew bigger and bigger and bigger until they were like grapefruits.
His torso just seemed to blow up, his shoulders grew wider and his delts exploded into three huge segmented masses. His chest got broader, pushing out in front of him and ballooning into enormous striated globes. And his back swelled up thicker, becoming a vast wall of thick, rippling sinew. His legs just erupted bulk. It was like each head was trying to squeeze the others out by becoming the most massive. Manuel was all muscle now, all of him. Slabs of it, balls of it, and rolls of it came heaving up out of him like it had been long trapped and was now escaping.
And there could be no doubt he had gotten taller, too. It was kind of hard to tell with him thrashing around in the tank, but I was pretty sure he had passed six feet. In fact, his new height coupled with his new build was starting make him look quite gigantic.
And he was still shouting. The volume kept increasing and the timbre kept dropping; it was quickly changing from a yell to a full fledged roar, which erupted from him in heart stopping surges while he thrashed violently around in the tank.
“Look at him,” breathed Evan, “He takes my breath away…the pure animal power…swelling up all over his body, consuming him as we watch.”
“Evan,” I said, “I think you should stop this.”
“Not you too, Justin,” he said. “With your tastes in men, I thought you, at least, would appreciate this.”
“I do, Evan, believe me, I do, but he doesn’t look emotionally stable to me. Who knows what he’ll do when he gets out of there. And if he gets much bigger he will be very difficult to control.”
“Hmmm,” said Evan, “You may be right.” Then he hit a couple of keys and the bubbling slowed down.”
“NO!” bellowed Manuel, his voice booming thunder. “MAS!” I’d swear I felt the room shake.
“No mas, Manuel,” said Evan. And he continued shutting the systems down.
“MAS!” yelled Manuel and now that the bubbling had stopped all together I could see how truly huge Manuel had become. And he was pissed—not a good combination.
Manuel took one of his large hands, balled it into a fist and slammed it against the tank. “MAS!” he roared.
“Stop that at once,” snapped Evan, evidently forgetting to use Spanish, “you’ll damage my tank.”
But Evan’s admonishment only seemed to enrage Manuel further and he began pounding on the inside of the tank with both fists. BAM! BAM! BAM! BAM!
“Idiot!” said Evan. “Doesn’t he realize that if he destroys the tank, he won’t be able to get any mas.”
“I’m going to go out on a limb here and say he’s probably not thinking very rationally at the moment.”
Evan shot me an angry glance, before shouting up at the guard on the platform above the tank, “Get him out of there.”
The guard looked down at the huge muscle-bound teen rampaging in the seething liquid and then looked back at us like we were out of our minds. “Como?” he said.
BAM came the sound of Manuel’s large fist impacting on the glass followed by the sharp sound of cracking glass.
“That glass is four inches thick,” said Dr. Kramer.
And yet a few hairline cracks were forming, stretching their way further and further up the side of the tank
“He’s going to be out of there in a few minutes, and he doesn’t look very happy,” I said.
Doctor Kramer shouted something in Spanish and a few guards stepped forward with automatic weapons raised.
“No,” said Evan. “Under no circumstances is he to be killed. We can’t study him effectively if he’s dead.”
And that was all anybody had time to say. BAM! The glass exploded outward into a million shards and suddenly a torrent of the green liquid came rushing out of the tank. When it hit me it had a warm, electric feel to it. Like the slap of cold air on a winter’s morning, it was kind of refreshing. .
But as exhilarating as I found it, it was nothing compared to the reaction Evan was having. He shuttered all over and I swear I saw him swell up just a little. He lifted his arm and below his rolled up sleeve I could see the distinct lines of slim corded muscles. They looked starkly out of place on his rather anemic looking frame. But then his frame didn’t look quite as anemic as it had just a few seconds before, and he seemed to realize it. He opened and closed his fist, watching his new forearms flex and relax with a smile of wonderment on his lips. But he only had a couple of seconds to enjoy it before we had a big problem on our hands.
“ARRRRGH!” yelled Manuel. He was out of the tank and oh my God, he was huge now. About six foot five, he must have been somewhere around 500 pounds of dripping steaming muscle. He raised his arms in an impressive double bi, looked from one arm to the other, and then turned to us and roared.
Evan pulled out his cell phone, hit speed dial, and barked a couple of words into it. Who could he possibly be calling at a time like this?
I tried to decide if Manuel was angry or just overwhelmed with his new size and power. In retrospect, I realize it was some combination of the two, but at the time clear thought was completely beyond me, and I couldn’t decide. Of course when he started swinging those huge arms of his and trashing the lab, I definitely started leaning towards anger.
“Do something!” Evan yelled at the guard who was still standing slack jawed up on the platform.
The guard pulled his gun and shot it into the air. It worked. Manuel paused and turned to look at him. The guard started waving his gun and shouting at him in Spanish. But whatever he was saying Manuel didn’t seem to like it much. He growled at him then kicked out one of the supports from underneath the platform with one of his tree trunk legs. The platform collapsed dumping the guard on the ground. The poor man’s gun went flying, and in a second Manuel had grabbed him by the neck with one meaty hand and hoisted him into the air.
“Manuel stop!” I shouted, but I knew it was useless. Manuel didn’t understand English anymore than I understood Spanish. Besides he was clearly completely out of control and on one hell of a power trip. But to my amazement it seemed to work anyway. Manuel paused. One mighty arm still held the helpless guard who was pulling futilely at the enormous hand that held him firmly suspended in the air. Manuel got this frighteningly cocky smirk on his face, and as he continued to leer at the guard, the huge teen’s mammoth chest began rising and falling, heaving in and out. And then he started to make a low guttural noise, kind of a combination between a growl and a moan. And the deep groan grew in volume and frequency as his breathing grew faster and faster. I began to hear a ripping sound. A second later the biggest cock I’d ever seen exploded out of Manuel’s diaper reducing it to shreds.
“Holy fuck!” I cried. The thing had to be about twelve inches long and as thick around as a beer can. It had a thick bulbous head about as big around as my fist and finger thick veins running up the shaft. I mean you read about such things, but you never really expect to see one. And attached to Manuel’s incredibly large muscular form, it was a sight to behold. I found myself getting hard despite the horror of the situation.
And Evan… Evan was just standing there with his mouth agape, staring at the vision that was Manuel. “Look at him, Justin,” he said. “He’s so beautiful, just magnificent.”
But the guard didn’t think so. He looked down at Manuel’s huge engorged member and started screaming. He sounded like a little girl. Manuel looked annoyed at the sound, and tossed the guard away like a rag doll. The man hit the wall and slumped to the bottom unconscious. Then Manuel grabbed his giant cock and started jerking on it, groaning louder and louder until finally he erupted all over the lab.
The guard came to and started to run, but Manuel grabbed him again and started pounding on him.
Holy crap! What was the matter with me? I was watching a man get manhandled by muscle behemoth that only moments ago was a skinny wisp of a teenager... and getting incredibly turned on by it. I was so fucking hard I didn’t know what to do with myself. I shouldn’t be enjoying this… But I was. No, this was wrong. I had to stop this. If this kept up Manuel would kill that guard. I ran over and got the guard’s gun. I aimed it at Manuel.
“No,” cried Evan, “Stop.”
“We have to stop this, Evan,” I said.
Suddenly Evan got eerily calm. “You’ll have to kill him to do that, Justin,” he said. “Are you ready to kill him?”
“I don’t have to kill him,” I replied, “just wound him.”
“No,” said Evan shaking his head. “Not with that caliber weapon. You will only make him mad. Then he’ll come after you and you’ll be forced to kill him or be killed yourself. Are you prepared to kill him, Justin? Could you do that? You’d better be sure before you pull that trigger, because if you’re not it could cost you your life.”
I faltered. Could I kill him? He was a living breathing human being. And he wasn’t really responsible for what had happened to him. He was probably just on some hormone driven rampage. He could calm down and be fine in the morning. Did I have the right to end his life like this? No, I didn’t. I let the gun drop.
“Interesting,” said Evan just before the door burst open and Armond ran in. Of course, that’s who Evan had been calling. Evan just nodded in Manuel’s direction and Armond went to work. Manuel was pretty damn big, but Armond was still a little bigger than him, plus he knew what he was doing. In a matter of seconds, the big bodyguard had pulled Manuel off the guard, subdued him and rendered him unconscious.
“Well, Doctor Kramer,” said Evan, “you may run your tests now. I shall want a full report on exactly what happened here by the close of business tomorrow. And please see about having the tank repaired. It needs to be in working condition just as soon as possible. Good night.”
And then Evan turned, and, without another word, left the warehouse. Armond picked up the unconscious half naked guard and followed after him. Doctor Kramer walked over and looked down at Manuel’s large insensible form.
“What was it Doctor,” I asked, “What caused him to go berserk like that, some kind of testosterone induced fit?”
Doctor Kramer slowly shook his head. “I doubt it,” he sighed. “I suspect a much simpler explanation. There were rumors that some of the guards were physically abusing the boys. I didn’t believe them at first, but now I suspect they were true.”
He sighed again and shook his head. “But his behavior might have been due to a chemical imbalance, we won’t really know for sure until I run some tests.”
“Yes, of course,” I said. What a horrible place this was. Suddenly I wanted out of that warehouse. “Well, I’ll leave you to it,” I said and I turned and walked quickly from the building.
When I got back to the main house it didn’t take me long to find the diminutive Mexican butler. He appeared to have been waiting up just for me. I felt instantly guilty. It wasn’t that long ago that I was in a position similar to his. I needed to remember that these people arranged their lives around us and I had to be more cognizant of that.
Fortunately, he seemed to know what I wanted and thus saved me the trouble of stumbling through broken Spanish and hand gestures. He led me straight upstairs to one of the bedrooms. I pulled open the door and went in. There was a dim light on by the bed and I soon as I walked in I could see there was someone in the bed. I almost turned around and went out again thinking that the butler had misunderstood me after all, when I stopped, and spun around. I had recognized the man in the bed.
“Cody?” I said, trying to mask my shock.
“Hey Justin,” grinned my ripped-to-shreds muscular boyfriend. “I was beginning to think you’d never come to bed.
“Cody, what are you doing here?” I said, hardly able to believe my incredibly sexy boyfriend was right in front of me when he should have been competing in a gymnastics meet more than ten thousand miles away.
“You act like you’re not happy to see me,” he said.
“Happy doesn’t quite cover it. Amazed is closer. Don’t take this the wrong way, but why aren’t you in Japan?”
“They canceled. So did the Chinese. So now I’m all yours,” he said smiling and holding his perfectly carved, muscular arms open. “Come here.”
“But how did you get here? How did you know where I was?”
“Evan Phips arraigned everything,” he said.
Holy crap! Evan knew about me and Cody. Evan knew everything. This was very bad.
“Now don’t make me come over there and get you,” said Cody. “On second thought…” He grinned as he hopped out of bed, totally naked. Holy crap, despite everything I got instantly hard at the sight of that body. He may have been only five foot four inches tall, but those perfect, globe-like pecs heaving over that cobblestone stomach with those mini bowling ball shoulders above those thick, cut arms—They got my temperature rising in no time flat. Sure his endowment wasn’t much, but fully engorged as it was now, it looked pretty respectable. And it was easy to overlook this shortcoming as it was swinging between two of the most cut, muscular thighs imaginable. Oh my God, what a powerful little stud he was, and he knew it too.
He crossed the room in six, quick, graceful strides and wrapped his arms around me. They were like iron bands. In a second he had hoisted me effortlessly off the ground and slung me over his shoulder. Despite everything I felt myself really heating up, melting and boiling all at the same time. But that’s what Cody did to me. I had a great view of his wide, muscle ridden back rippling above his perfect bubble butt, as those juggernaut legs crossed the room back towards the bed. A second later, I felt his steel grip close around me again and then I was flung bodily through the air. I landed on the mattress and in a second he was on me, ripping the clothes from my body, like a kid unwrapping a Christmas present, pausing only long enough to give me some of the most passionate kisses I had ever experienced. It was impossible not to respond. He had such an effect on me. I would have given him anything he wanted. And I did.
Deep into the night we went, licking, rubbing, pumping, kissing. Orgasm followed orgasm until exhausted we both fell deep asleep, still entangled in each other.
I woke up in the middle of the night to the sound of gunshots. I pulled myself free from Cody, bolted out of bed and ran to my door, all traces of sleep instantly wiped away by the alarming sound of weapons fire. It was still dark, and I had no idea what time it was. Cody was still asleep. That man could sleep through anything. I almost woke him up, but he looked so peaceful. His boyish face had been smoothed by the carelessness of sleep, making him look even younger than his nineteen years, almost angelic. I decided to let him sleep. I could always wake him later if it turned out to be something serious. After pulling on a robe, I raced out down the stairs toward the front hall. What I found was Armond standing in front of the door.
“What’s going on?” I asked.
“Nothing to worry about,” the big man said in his rumbling voice “just the local farmers making trouble. Every once in a while they get drunk and start firing off their guns. It never amounts to much. Eventually they’ll stumble back home to sleep it off. In the mean time, it’ll be safer if you stay in the house.”
I head a couple more shots, but I realized he was right. The safest place was in the house. I thanked him, went back to my room, climbed back into bed next to Cody and tried to go to sleep, but it was some time before I actually achieved it. I spent most of the night contemplating Cody’s perfect body, and how beautiful he looked during sleep. And for about the millionth time I wondered how I’d wound up with him.
I slept in the next morning, and when I woke, Cody was already up and gone. When I came down I found Evan also had also risen and was outside by the pool. He was lying in a lounge chair wearing just a swimsuit, and on the phone. The remains of a huge breakfast were on the table nearby. The first thing that struck me about him was his body. Back in Connecticut he had resembled a famine victim. Not any more. He had filled out somewhat and now looked like a healthy, albeit skinny, teen. His chest stuck out a little and was no longer sunken, his stomach was flat and smooth, not shriveled, and his limbs looked fuller, not skeletal as they had before. He was no Adonis, that was for sure, but he certainly didn’t look diseased either.
“Good morning, Justin,” he said putting the phone down. “I hope the restless natives didn’t cause you to lose too much sleep.”
“I’ll recover,” I said as a small army of domestics descended on the table, cleared away the old dishes and started setting out new ones.
“Excellent,” he said. “In any case, you’re just in time to join me for breakfast.”
“It looks like you’ve already eaten,” I said.
“Yes, well, I always seem to be hungry these days, part of the good doctor’s treatment.”
I sat down at the table and tried to think how to proceed. I knew Evan was responsible for Cody being here. I didn’t understand why, and I needed to. But if I was pretty sure he’d never answer a direct question. So I had to think of some other way to get him to tell me.
“I wonder if you’ve seen Cody this morning,” I said.
“Ah, yes, the amazing Mr. Mackenzie,” said Evan. “I had that pleasure about an hour ago. I must congratulate you; he is breathtaking. He came down here dressed in only gym shorts and a tight tank top and I’m rather afraid I stared at him all through breakfast. I hope he won’t think me rude.”
I almost laughed. That was just like Cody. He loved his body and showed it off at every opportunity. If he got someone hot and bothered, he enjoyed it just that much more. “I’m sure he’ll forgive you,” I said. “Do you know where he went?”
“I believe he was going to visit the gym. He’s very dedicated, but I suppose to maintain a body like that, he’d have to be.” Jeeze, Evan was practically drooling.
“It was very nice of you to bring him down here,” I ventured.
Evan chuckled. “I’m afraid not,” he said. “I had my reasons for inviting Mr. Mackenzie and I assure you nice wasn’t one of them.”
“What do you mean?” I asked, suddenly alarmed.
“You’ll find out soon enough,” said Evan. “There’s that little matter of paying you back for going to my father against my will. Cody should help me nicely with that.”
If Evan was planning on using Cody for some petty revenge plan, he was going to be disappointed. Cody was fiercely loyal and he would never hurt me. “Cody won’t help you with anything,” I said.
“Don’t be too sure,” said Evan. “I have a way of getting people to do what I want. Speaking of which…” Evan gestured behind me. I turned to look and saw Doctor Kramer approaching. The poor man didn’t look like he’d slept at all last night.
“Good morning, Master Phips,” Doctor Kramer said.
“Good morning, Doctor. I hope you have good news for me.”
“I’m afraid not,” said the Doctor.
“You assured me the tank would be fixed by this morning,” said Evan sitting up straight.
“And it is,” said the Doctor. “We had the spare glass on hand and fitting it was simple enough. My news is about Manuel.”
“What about him?” asked Evan. “He looked to be in robust health last night.”
“Preliminary tests suggest he’s suffered extensive brain damage.”
“What?” snapped Evan, looking like he’d been hit by a car. “How?”
“If I had to guess—and I don’t like to, but with these kinds of time limitations there’s no other choice. If I had to guess, I’d say too much energy too quickly overloaded many of his synapses and burned them out. I imagine something similar happened to Mr. Thackeray up at the lab.”
Evan looked shocked. I was shocked. “That’s not really reversible is it?” I said. It was more of a statement than a question and I think I said it mostly for Evan’s benefit.
“No, it’s not,” said the Doctor. “Manuel has essentially become a great brute with the intelligence of a toddler. What’s more, his testosterone levels are through the roof, making him aggressive in the extreme. He is very difficult to control and I have to keep him sedated all of the time.”
“And how is the guard,” I asked.
“He has been removed to a local hospital. The prognosis is for a full recovery.”
“He was lucky,” I said.
“Yes,” agreed the doctor, “luckier than Manuel.”
“And what in your opinion caused the brain damage?” asked Evan, obviously forcing himself to be calm.
“Too much energy, too quickly,” said the Doctor.
“So, it wasn’t the overall process, just the session in the tank?” asked Evan, some of the tension easing out of him.
“That’s what I would guess, but there are a million—”
“Yes, yes, I’m sure,” said Evan, cutting him off. “We need to find a way of utilizing the tank without causing brain damage,” said Evan.
“That could mean, reworking the entire process,” said Doctor Kramer. “I don’t have the staff to continue studying Manuel and redesign the energy tank.”
“That’s fine,” said Evan. “You concentrate on Manuel and leave the redesign to me.”
“You’re hardly qualified—“
“I’m as qualified as I need to be,” snapped Evan. “In the meantime, I want the tank ready to go by tonight.”
“What?” gasped the Doctor. “We still need many more tests. I don’t have any more processed subjects—“
“That doesn’t matter,” said Evan, “I will be going into the tank, myself.”
I could tell this took the doctor off guard. “I don’t care how gifted you are, there is no way you could redesign the entire process in a single day,” snapped the Doctor.
Evan smiled. It was not kind. “You’re right, of course,” he said. “But low levels of the energy appear to be safe enough. We can start there.”
“The safest thing would be to abandon the tank completely and let the process take its course.”
“I have already told you, Doctor, my schedule does not permit three to five years to complete this enterprise.”
“This meeting is over,” said Evan. “I will be at the lab promptly at seven. Please have everything ready by then.”
The doctor looked like he had a lot more to say. He huffed and puffed for a few seconds before apparently giving up, turning around and marching off.
“Maybe you should listen to him,” I said, after he’d gone.
“If I listened to him and others like him I’d never get anything done.”
Evan dove into his second breakfast like a starving man. Sometimes his callousness simply disgusted me. One man reduced to a mental midget, another in the hospital, both were directly his fault and he was carrying on with his gluttonous display like nothing unusual had happened. And I had seldom seen anyone eat like that. He ate an entire serving platter of scrambled eggs, a quarter pound of bacon, half a dozen bananas, and almost an entire box of bran cereal.
“I’m going to find Cody,” I said.
“Do that,” said Evan, “but don’t say anything about our earlier conversation. If you do, I’ll be forced to ruin you. And I’ll expose your relationship with Cody, too, which means he can forget any endorsement deals he may hope to earn from the Olympics.”
I looked back at Evan sitting there smugly and something inside me just snapped. Whatever clinical detachment I had went out the window. I couldn’t see Evan as a patient anymore, just an evil little asshole. I’m not generally a violent person, but suddenly I was so outraged I almost launched myself at him right there. It wasn’t the fact that he’d threatened me. I guess I was getting used to that. It was his threat toward Cody that almost made me lose it. I’m not sure how I held myself back, but without saying another word to him, I turned around and headed off to find the gym.
I was getting better at the whole gesture-thing because it only took me two tries before I found someone who pointed me in the right direction. The gym was one of the new structures on the property. It looked like the workmen were just finishing painting the outside when I walked up and opened the door. It was quite a set up. I’d seen gyms in New York that weren’t this well equipped. It even had still rings, a high bar, a vault and a pommel horse and that’s where I found Cody. He was swinging himself up and around in moves which were an amazing combination of strength, grace and astounding muscular control. I know poetry in motion is a cliché, but watching Cody in action was almost a religious experience for me. It was also insanely hot.
As soon as he saw me, he executed a perfect dismount and walked slowly up to me.
“Up at last,” he grinned. “I thought you were going to sleep all day.”
“Just ’cause I don’t sleep like a log and get up with the sun…” I said, grinning right back at him.
“One of the benefits of being in peak physical condition,” he said, flexing his large, perfectly shaped biceps. I was instantly hard, but I had to put those thoughts away now.
“Cody, it’s wonderful to see you here, but I think you should go,” I said.
I had to be careful here. I had no doubt Evan had the whole place wired for sound, and that he’d eventually hear everything I said. I couldn’t mention Evan’s threat, but I had to get as close as I could. “It’s Evan. I don’t trust him. He’s dangerous.”
“What, that little kid? What is he, twelve?”
“He’s fifteen,” I said, “but don’t judge him by his age. He’s one of the kids I work with. He’s very, very bright.”
“Oh,” said Cody, “that explains why he talks like that. But so what? He seems ok. You know, he was checking me out.”
“Cody, everybody checks you out.” He grinned again at that. “But Evan is different. He… collects people. He hasn’t got his hooks in you yet, and I want you to leave before he does.”
Suddenly he was serious. “His hooks?” he asked. “Has he got is hooks in you? Is that why you were so weird on the phone the other day? Are you in trouble, Justin?” He scowled and balled his fists, my hero ready to charge to my rescue; if only he could save me. But this was way beyond him, way beyond either of us.
“Don’t worry about me,” I said. “I can handle this. But you should go before…” I almost slipped, but I stopped myself before I could say anything about him losing his endorsements. I never could think straight when I was around Cody. “You should go,” I repeated.
“Fat chance,” he said. “What kind of man would I be if I just ran off and left you here in trouble.”
“Please just go. I’m asking you to.”
“Not a chance, I’m staying. The more you try to convince me to leave, the more I know I need to stay. You’re stuck with me, so you’d better get used to it.”
I wanted to be mad, really I did, but I couldn’t be. I realized he meant it and I actually felt a huge serge of relief. I wasn’t alone anymore. I reached over and hugged him. He was hot and hard and sweaty and so damn sexy.
I spent the rest of the day watching Cody work out and go through his routines. I don’t think I could have been happier. But I knew it couldn’t last. It must have been about 5:30 when Armond showed up to “invite” us to join Evan for dinner.
“Who’s the big guy?” asked Cody.
“Evan’s bodyguard,” I answered.
“That figures. I guess that means we’re going to dinner,” he said.
We stopped off at the room just long enough for Cody to shower and change. But that almost caused a very long delay when he invited me to join him. Cody had just spent the entire day on a killer work out, and now he wanted to take a shower with me. Where he got his energy, I’ll never know.
When we got down to dinner Evan had not yet arrived. It wasn’t a particularly large dining room or a very large table. There were only four places set. Armond was there and dressed formally in a jacket and tie. I wasn’t and neither was Cody. He was wearing a pair of tight cotton pants that showed off every striation in his large, cut quads. His polo shirt was a size too small for him; his biceps stretched the sleeves, his large pecs pulled the front wide open, and his abs were making a definite impression below. He was such a showoff, but it worked. Along with that chiseled face, those sparkling blue eyes, and that self assured smile. It was difficult to look at him without getting hard.
Armond, of all people, actually knew who Cody was. He followed gymnastics and the two of them had a lively conversation about the men’s gymnastics team and their chances in the upcoming Olympics—that is until Evan arrived.
Evan looked a little bleary eyed and disheveled. He was still wearing shorts and his light cotton shirt was a mass of wrinkles. “I must apologize for being late,” he said. “I’ve been absorbed in calculations all day and I’m afraid I lost track of the time.”
“Trying to work out the problems with the tank?” I asked.
“Yes,” he said, “and it’s turning out to be quite a challenge.”
“You’re not still going in tonight?” I asked.
“Yes, I am,” he said, “and I’m glad you brought that up. I’d like you to be there, Justin.”
“I don’t know, Evan,” I said. “I think I’ve seen enough of your little toy.”
“Please,” he said. “I’m asking you as a favor. I don’t like the idea of going into that thing alone.”
“Doctor Kramer will be there,” I said.
“Doctors and technicians aren’t exactly comforting, and now that the moment is approaching, I find I’m somewhat… nervous. And believe it or not, you’re the closest thing I have to a friend.”
I was more than a little inclined to tell Evan to go straight to hell. But he did look scared, and if I have a fatal flaw it’s that I’m far too compassionate. I hate seeing anyone suffer, even someone as loathsome as Evan.
Cody was looking at me. I could see he knew what I was thinking. “He’s not going anywhere without me,” he said. He could read me like a book.
“Of course you’re invited too,” said Evan.
Somehow the idea of Cody being there made the whole thing seem bearable, and so I agreed.
No one said much of anything else for the rest of the meal and afterwards we all went straight out to the warehouse where the tank was kept. Doctor Kramer was already there. He and the technicians were rushing around getting everything ready. If anything, the Doctor looked even more exhausted than he had when I saw him that morning and I wondered when he’d last slept.
“Are you ready for me, Doctor?” asked Evan.
“As ready as I’m ever going to be,” said Doctor Kramer. “If you would care to prepare yourself?” The Doctor handed Evan a diaper-thing like the one Manuel had worn last night and Evan, apparently not feeling particularly modest, stripped down right in front of us and put it on. He was a skinny little guy, there was no denying it, and his genitals still seemed particularly underdeveloped. I couldn’t help but wonder what the tank would do to him. A huge Evan… What would he be capable of? But maybe low levels of power would have no visible effect on him at all. The truth was I had no idea what to expect.
Evan climbed up onto the platform where one of the technicians began sticking the little electrodes all over him.
“What’s happening?” asked Cody. “What’s the tank for?”
I wondered how I could even begin to explain it to him. In the end I realized I couldn’t. I didn’t really understand the process myself, and what I did know would come out sounding like some crazy fetish story you might read on the internet.
“I can’t explain,” I said. “Just watch.”
Evan put on the oxygen mask and hopped into the tank. I looked at him floating in there just like Manuel had the night before and a feeling of dread stole over me.
“Can you hear me, Doctor?” came Evan’s voice over a loudspeaker system.
“Yes, Mr. Phips, loud and clear,” said the Doctor leaning over a microphone that had been installed into the console. I didn’t remember it being there yesterday. I guess Evan had had some modifications made.
“Excellent,” came Evan’s voice. “You may begin.”
He doctor’s fingers floated over a keyboard and the tank began to mildly bubble. I heard a gasp from Evan.
“How are you feeling, Mr. Phips,” the Doctor asked the microphone.
“Quite exhilarated,” said Evan. “What power level are you using?”
“Zero point three,” replied the Doctor.
“Point three?” exclaimed Evan. “Surely we can do better than that.”
“I don’t want any repeats of yesterday,” said the Doctor.
“Manuel had his problems somewhere around eighty-seven, if I’m not mistaken,” said Evan. “You’re being over cautious again, Doctor.”
“Be that as it may, the power level remains at zero point three.”
“I think we can risk level five,” said Evan.
“Out of the question,” said the Doctor.
“Just for a few minutes, then I’ll come out.”
“No,” said the Doctor.
“Armond,” said Evan. And suddenly the giant emerged from the shadows where he had been standing, forgotten, and moved over to tower over the much smaller geneticist.
“Level 5 please, Doctor,” said Evan from inside the tank.
The Doctor scowled up at Armond and then over at Evan. “Fine,” he said. “If you want to kill yourself, why should I stop you?” Then he hit a couple of keys on the board and the tank began to bubble a little more rapidly.
“Yes,” cried Evan from the tank, “Oh yes!” And over the next few minutes, as we watched him thrash around in the tank, we could see little muscles begin to bulge up all over him. Little pecs formed around his nipples. His arms got thicker both above and below his elbow. We started to see the outline of his abs against his stomach and his thigh and calves swelled up and gave his stick legs some shape.
“Holy crap,” whispered Cody, grabbing my arm. “What the fuck is happening to him?”
“He’s growing,” I said. “It’s what the tank does.”
“Enough,” gasped Evan from the tank, “enough Doctor, please shut it down.”
The Doctor’s hands flew over the keyboard and the bubbling ceased. Evan practically vaulted out of the tank. He jumped down from the platform and suddenly he was standing dripping in front of us.
“What do you think?” he said, flexing his arms and looking down at his little chest, his faint abs and his tiny bulging muscles. He looked like a kid admiring the pump after his first workout, exceptionally proud over very little. But he was definitely bigger. And he was also about an inch taller.
“It appears to work,” I said.
“Doctor?” questioned Evan, turning toward him.
“Synaptic function seems to be unimpaired,” he said peering at his monitor.
“See, I told you there was no need for concern,” said Evan smugly.
“Jeeze, he got taller, too,” said Cody, staring at Evan. “Can anybody do that?”
“What?” I gasped. “Cody, no, it’s dangerous.”
“Apparently not,” said Evan, displaying his slightly improved frame. “Why do you ask, Cody? Would you like to give it a try?”
“Hell yes!” he exclaimed.
“No, Cody, you don’t know,” I said. “You didn’t see Manuel. Evan, show him Manuel.”
“Of course,” said Evan.
“Who’s Manuel?” asked Cody, while Evan stripped out of his diaper, toweled himself off and put his clothes back on.
“Manuel was last night’s experiment,” I said. “The tank left him a mindless brute.”
“Seriously?” said Cody.
“Oh yes,” I said.
“Why don’t you see for yourself?” suggested Evan. And he led us out the door and across the yard to another, smaller building. This one looked like it was made out of reinforced concrete and it had a heavy steel door. Evan produced the key and opened it up for us. The inside wasn’t nearly as oppressive as I was expecting. It seemed more like a hospital ward than a prison. There were several beds in here. Four of them had been pushed together and on top of them lay Manuel. He was fast asleep.
I had forgotten the size of him. Those amazingly broad shoulders, that thick neck, those pecs rising out of him like twin striated mounds. His abs looked like a fucking mountain range. His arms were enormous. Thick veined biceps, at least 25 inches around, ran into his cannonball shoulders and his veined forearms were about as thick as my neck. He was so thick with muscle and so lean, he looked like a champion bodybuilder ready for a show. All that on a six foot five inch frame made him startling.
“Jesus, he’s huge,” said Cody.
“Breathtaking, isn’t he?” said Evan. “And yesterday he was smaller than I am now.”
“It’s true, isn’t it Justin?”
“He was also a human being. Now he’s just an animal.”
“It’s true we had a problem with the process,” said Evan, “but now it’s all been ironed out.” And Evan extended his arms wide, offering his own body as proof.
“Yeah,” said Cody, “I see that.”
“Cody,” I said. “You can’t possibly be thinking…”
“Why not?” he said, interrupting me.
I was not going to have this conversation in front of Evan. “Would you excuse us?” I said.
“Of course,” said Evan.
“Cody, can I talk to you outside?”
I couldn’t help but notice Cody’s gaze as it lingered on Manuel just before he followed me out the door.
“What is wrong with you?” I said as I got him outside.
“Nothing. I’d just like to be a little bigger. What’s the matter with that?”
“You don’t need to be bigger, Cody. You’re perfect—oh Christ, you’re more than perfect—exactly as you are.”
“Really,” he said. “Is that how you really feel? I mean, I know you love my body. You wouldn’t love me even more if I were, you know, bigger?”
“Cody if I loved you any more my insides would implode.”
He pulled me over and gave me a big hug. “I love it when you say things like implode; it’s so amazingly geeky. Can I tell you something?” he asked releasing me.
“Anything,” I said.
Suddenly he got very quiet and very serious. It wasn’t like him. “I hate being short,” he said. “I hate it.”
“You never said anything about that before,” I said.
“Well, it was never really important before,” he said. “I’m five foot four,” he said, “and I always just assumed I’d have to live with it; so I’d better just accept it and get on with life.”
“That’s a healthy attitude,” I said.
“Except I’m no good at it,” he said. “Every time I see one of those big guys who do shot put or power lifting, I just think how awesome it would be to be that big and strong and then I get angry inside. I’m so damn short; I realize that no matter how much I might work at it, there’s no way I could ever get as big or as strong they are. I feel like I’m running a race I can never win, even if I do my personal best. There’s absolutely nothing I can do about it and it just seems so incredibly unfair.”
“Cody,” I said, “you’re an amazing athlete. You’ve got a body that would stop traffic. You don’t need to be any bigger.”
He just looked at the ground. “I didn’t think you would understand,” he said. “No one who wasn’t short really ever could.”
And that’s when the first cramps hit. I grabbed my stomach and bent over, groaning. Crap, my drink at dinner, it had had ice in it! Crap. Damned infected water. I hate Mexico.
“Justin, what’s the matter?” cried Cody. “Are you alright?”
And that’s when we heard the rifle bolts pull back. I looked up to see a couple of rugged looking Mexican men, armed and pointing their rifles right at us. Displaced farmers, they had to be.
Cody and I were in serious trouble.
I was helpless as I looked up at the two Mexican farmers who were pointing their rifles at Cody and me. Thanks to the bad Mexican water, I was hunched over and clutching my cramping stomach. They barked something at us in Spanish. I had no idea what they were saying, but those rifle barrels spoke volumes.
“What do you want,” asked Cody.
One of the farmers stepped forward, and flipping his rifle around, used the butt to slug Cody in the stomach. Cody gasped and bent over, but I could tell he wasn’t hurt as much as he was pretending. Those abs of his were like iron.
The other one did the same thing to me, but that was a mistake. Projectile vomit—all over him. The guy was pissed; who could blame him? It was not pretty. He was looking down at himself, dripping with my throw-up, and cursing up a storm. And that’s when Cody struck. He grabbed the rifle from vomit man and hit him in the face with it. Down he went, but when he turned, there was the other guy aiming the business end of his rifle right at Cody’s skull.
“No, Cody,” I gasped. I seriously expected to see Cody’s brains blasted all over the ground in front of me. When suddenly there was this tremendous crash from right next to us. All of us looked over just in time to see the hut’s reinforced steel door fly off its hinges. And there was Manuel, looming in the doorway, fully awake and pissed as hell. I thought he looked impressive lying down and asleep. It wasn’t anything compared to the way he looked with his eyes scowling and his massive chest heaving.
“Madre de Dios,” gasped the farmer, as he swung his rifle towards Manuel. But he was too late. In a split second, Manuel crossed the ground, and knocked Cody aside as if he were brushing away a fly. The farmer pointed his rifle at me and then shouted something at Manuel. But Manuel didn’t pause a second before he ripped the rifle right out of the farmer’s hands. He held it out in front of him and then growling slightly, with his huge forearms rippling, he actually bent the rifle barrel. Holy crap, an angry muscle behemoth—definitely something to be avoided.
The farmer must have felt the same way because he took off running. Manuel dropped the ruined weapon and loped off into the darkness after him.
“Are you two all right?” came Evan’s voice from the doorway.
“Yeah, we’re fine,” said Cody, picking himself off the ground.
“Speak for yourself,” I said. I was pretty sure I was about to let it fly at any second —and this time from the other end.
Evan waved an empty syringe. “I saw what was happening and woke sleeping beauty. Looks like he was just in time.”
“Yeah, thanks,” said Cody, rubbing his stomach.
“Good thing we had a big guy around, right Cody?”
“Yeah, sure,” said Cody.
“When push comes to shove, it’s always the guy with the biggest muscles who wins the day. Another minute and those farmers probably would have shot Justin down right in front of you,” said Evan. “And there wouldn’t’ve been anything you could’ve done about it.”
Oh my God, Evan had obviously been listening to our conversation and now he was intentionally pushing Cody’s buttons. But I knew Cody was too smart, too sure of himself to fall for Evan’s ploy. I was sure Cody could see what Evan was doing just as clearly as I could.
“Yeah…” said Cody, looking at me with concern.
“Yes,” said Evan. “It’s a good thing we little guys had someone as large and strong as Manuel. Did you see the size of his arms? So incredibly powerful. His biceps were like molten boulders, just pulsing with raw power. And that huge chest of his, swelling with an insane strength as he bent that rifle. It makes me weak in the knees just to think about it. I shudder to think what would have happened if you two had to deal with those two farmers on your own, as helpless as you are. You’d probably be dead.”
“I guess,” said Cody, looking at the ground. I couldn’t believe it. Cody actually seemed to be falling for Evan’s crap.
“We were doing alright,” I said. “Cody had already taken out one of those guys before Manuel got here.”
“Yes. Thank God you vomited when you did, otherwise… well, it does us no good to think about it.”
Christ, he was really laying it on thick. But I needed a bathroom and fast. “Evan, is there a bathroom in there?” I asked pointing to the small building where Manuel was kept.
“Of course,” said Evan. “It’s a—”
I didn’t wait to hear the rest. I just took off running. I made it to the bathroom just in time. And just a few seconds later I heard a pounding on the door.
“Justin, are you alright?” came Cody’s voice.
“Oh sure,” I said, a second before I erupted with the most disgusting sound I’d ever heard, “just dandy.”
“Can I get you anything?”
“A doctor would be nice. Failing that, how about five gallons of air freshener?”
“I’ll get the doctor.”
“Thanks. And Cody?”
“Don’t listen to Evan. He’s just trying to get under your skin.”
“Yeah. I worked that out.” There was a moment of silence before he added, “Doesn’t make him wrong, though.” And then he was gone.
Damn that little fuck! Damn him for messing with my Cody’s head. There was nothing wrong with Cody. He was perfect, and I would make him see that again. But right now, all I wanted to do was to get whatever was inside me out and then I could crawl into a bed and die.
Buy the time I emerged from the bathroom Doctor Kramer was waiting for me. It seems I had chosen to get sick right inside the little medical clinic where he’d been looking after Manuel. So giving me an examination proved to be no trouble at all.
“I could give you an antibiotic,” he said, “but you really should develop a resistance to the bacteria down here on your own, especially if you’ll be staying any length of time. You’d be better off just riding this out.”
I agreed and he said he could give me something to help me sleep. I gladly accepted. It was decided that I would stay in the medical hut until I was well again. This suited me just fine as I really didn’t feel up to the trek back to the main house.
When I opened my eyes the next morning, the first thing I saw was Cody, sitting in a chair by my bed, wearing his signature tight tank top. His face was bright red with exertion, eyes closed in concentration, as he seemingly focused all his attention on the thing that was in his lap. It was the warped rifle from last night. Holy crap! He was trying to bend it. His arm muscles bulged, thick and his veins were popping out with the effort. It was very hot, but I was too damn sick to fully appreciate it.
“Any luck?” I asked.
He looked up startled and dropped the rifle to the ground with a clatter. “How’s the patient?” he asked.
“I feel like crap,” I replied.
“Well that explains why you look like crap,” he said, with his usual good natured grin.
“Thanks a lot,” I said, having just enough energy to smile, myself. “What are you doing with that thing?” I asked nodding at the rifle.
“Oh this?” He shrugged. “I don’t know; I was just trying to see… you know…if I could bend it.”
“Not a chance,” he said.
“Cody,” I began.
“Just don’t,” said Cody, interrupting me. “I know what you’re going to say. You’re probably right but I just don’t want to hear it right now.”
“The tank-thing, it’s too new,” I said, “too dangerous.”
“Yeah, I know all that,” he said. Then he reached over and grabbed his gym bag. “The doctor says you’re going to be fine in a couple of days. I’ve gotta go work out. I’ll see you later.” And then he was gone.
Damn it! It was Evan. Despite all my warnings and foreknowledge, he’d still managed to get to Cody. Well, it wasn’t over yet.
Cody had moved his stuff down from the main house and it was now piled up on one of the other beds in the medical hut. I had just enough time to register this before I had to make another run for the bathroom.
I don’t know if Doctor Kramer had sensors in the bathroom or what, but as soon as I emerged, he was there waiting for me, again. He looked haggard and exhausted as usual.
“Just checking up on you,” he said. “It’s important that you don’t let yourself get dehydrated.”
“I’ll try to remember that,” I said, as I dragged myself back to the bed.
Doctor Kramer gave me a couple of pills and I swallowed them down. “Now, I’m sending down a tray with some food. Eat what you can, but I want you to drink everything on there. Is that understood?”
“Sure,” I said, crawling back between the sheets. “How’s Manuel?”
“What?” said the Doctor. I could tell I’d touched a nerve.
“You know, Manuel—big guy, used to be a little guy, kind of bad tempered. Am I ringing any bells?” I get a little testy when I’m sick.
“I don’t know how he’s doing. No one’s seen him since last night.”
“Since last night? Are they looking for him?”
“Mr. Phips has security trying to figure out how those two farmers got in here last night. That’s his first priority. He seems to think, that given enough time, Manuel will come back on his own.”
“What makes him think that?”
“If your asking me for insight into Mr. Phips’ thought processes, I’m afraid I’m going to have to disappoint you.”
“Well at least he didn’t cook his brain in your godforsaken tank. Thank God that’s over.”
The doctor shifted uncomfortably.
“It is over, isn’t it?”
“Mr. Phips has scheduled a second session for tonight.”
“What? Is he crazy?”
“I have no idea. I would have that that was more your area of expertise anyway.” And then he turned around and left without another word.
What was eating him? Then I realized I hadn’t been exactly polite. Well, I’d apologize later, after I woke up, if I remembered. And then I dozed off.
I woke up briefly when they brought the food in. I ate as much as I could, which wasn’t very much at all, and then drank everything on the tray. It was mostly fruit juices and water—boiled I hoped. But a few minutes later I dozed off again.
The next time I woke it was much later in the day, and believe it or not, I actually felt worse. I thought I might have a fever. Cody was back. He had put all his things away and was sitting Indian style on top of his bed reading a magazine.
“Hey,” I said.
“Hey,” he replied looking up. “Feeling any better?”
“Not really. I feel a little worse actually,” I replied. “Cody, about earlier, I’m sorry.”
He just looked at me and shrugged. “It doesn’t matter now. Evan’s offered to let me go through the process,” he said.
“No, no, no,” I said. “Cody, don’t do it.”
“I want to, Justin, just about as much as I’ve ever wanted anything.”
“What about gymnastics?” I asked.
“I know. I can’t really be that big and still be a gymnast. But gymnastics will be over in a couple of years anyway, and I’ll have this body for the rest of my life. I want it to be bigger.”
I sighed. He was going to go through with it. I wasn’t going to be able to talk him out of it. Well, he was an adult. It was his decision to make. I could continue to fight him on it, but that would probably drive him away. Or, I could be supportive. “How much bigger?”
He grinned, “A lot bigger, huge, actually, gigantic, humungous, like a fucking mountain, with massive, ripped-to-hell muscles that could lift or bend or crush anything. Wouldn’t that be insanely hot?”
And as he spoke, his face lit up. He leapt off the bed, clenched his fists tight and flexed his muscular arms so they bulged up hard and veiny. I could see that in his mind he was already there, already towering over me and everybody else, with an incredibly huge and powerful body. “Yeah,” I said. “It would be insanely hot.” But it took every ounce of my will power not to add, but it wouldn’t be you.
“Well”, he said, coming back to Earth, “Evan’s going back into the tank again this evening and he’s invited me to watch. He said you could come too, if you were feeling up to it.”
“No,” I said, “I’m definitely not feeling up to it.” Even if I didn’t have the stomach flu, right now the sight of Evan would probably make me pretty damn nauseous.
“You don’t mind if I go, do you?” asked Cody.
Well, there was a loaded question if ever there was one. I minded a great deal, but if he wanted to go—and he clearly did—I wasn’t going to stand in his way. “No, that’s fine,” I said. “But watch out for Evan. He may seem like a nice guy on the surface, but he’s a shark. Give him a chance and he’ll eat you up and spit out the pieces.”
Cody just shrugged. “He’s been alright to me.” Then he walked over to the door, turned and said, “See ya later,” before he stepped out into the early evening.
I made a run for the bathroom and once again made it just in time.
Next time I opened my eyes it was fully dark. I didn’t know if it was eight in the evening or two in the morning. There were no clocks anywhere. My head was pounding. I clearly had a fever now. I turned my head and I could barely make out the dim shape of Cody’s empty bed. I wanted to take his absence as a sign that it was still early, but a part of me was terrified that it wasn’t.
The door opened. I turned my head and saw Cody outlined in the doorway.
“How’d it go?” I asked.
“Better than I could have possibly imagined,” said a voice that was not Cody’s. Then the lights turned on, and if I could have jumped I would have. There was Evan, only it wasn’t quite Evan. Instead it looked like Evan had grafted his head on to Cody’s body. He had muscles all over him. He was wearing a tight tank top—holy crap, it was one of Cody’s! And Evan was filling it out every bit as much as its former owner did. The low neck exposed the top of two, solid, globe-like pecs that you could just tell were tough as steel. He had hard-looking, round, striated shoulders, and bulky mound-like traps rising up on each side of his wide little neck. His arms, pushed slightly out from his side by the beginnings of tough-looking lats, boasted thick, bulging biceps and solid, wide vascular forearms. As for his abs, you could clearly see six bricks making a definite impression through the front of his taut shirt. And I’d guess he was about Cody’s height now too, about five foot four. That made him four inches taller than the wisp of a boy I’d met only a few weeks before, and he looked about fifty percent heavier, too.
“My God, what happened?” I gasped.
“I risked a slightly higher energy level this evening with somewhat powerful results, “ he said as he raised his arms in a double bi pose. “Look at me, Justin. Look at these arms.” Oh my God, his biceps were large as tennis balls, wrapped with veins and bulging with power; they must be hard as rocks. “I’m so much stronger now,” he continued. “I can feel it, so much stronger. And my body is positively flooded with testosterone. It makes me feel amazing, powerful, in control in a way I’ve never felt before.”
He leaned over my bed and flexed his arm in my face. “I’m stronger than you now, Justin, much stronger. Just look at me. You can see that I am.” Then he grabbed my shoulders in an iron grip and put his face right into mine. Holy crap, he was right. He was stronger than me.
“If I wanted you, I could have you, Justin,” he said, “right here, right now and there’s nothing you could do to stop me, not when I have arms like these.” He brought his arms up in front of me, flexed, and admired the hilly landscape of bulging sinew that rose up all over them.
“So strong,” he repeated, “And it’s just the beginning.”
“And there weren’t any hiccups?” I asked.
He dropped his arms and shook his head looking a little irritated. “Nothing of consequence,” he said. “There was some minor synaptic damage. Nothing to worry about, but I can’t use that level of power again until I find a way around that damn limitation. I know I will. It’s just a matter of finding the right approach.”
He paused, and smiled frighteningly at me, before saying, “I will, though, and then I’ll be a god.” He flexed again and gloated over his new bulging arms. Evan was scaring me now, much more than he ever had before. And I very much wanted to know what happened to my boyfriend.
“Where’s Cody?” I asked. “And what are you doing wearing his shirt?”
“Cody gave me this shirt. Very soon now he’ll have no need for anything so small.”
“What are you saying?”
“Cody’s up at the house. He will be undergoing the first phase of the process tonight,” said Evan. “If you remember, it’s somewhat incapacitating.”
“So soon?” I gasped. “I didn’t think it would be so soon.”
“After he saw my transformation, he couldn’t wait.” Evan looked down at his arms and flexed them appreciatively. Then he turned to me. “Think of it, Justin, he’ll be amazing. Think of him over six and a half feet tall with muscles like an Olympian god bursting out all over him. Beauty, grace and unfathomable physical power, what a combination! He’ll make an outstanding plaything.”
“Cody is not your plaything,” I gasped.
“Yes, he is. Face it, Justin, I own him. Just like I own you, like I own Doctor Kramer, like I own so many people. Of course, it’s all your fault. If you hadn’t gone to my father behind my back, I never would have gone near Cody. But now… Well, now I’m rather glad you did because I own someone truly spectacular. And in a few minutes, I’m going to go up and claim him.” Evan leered at me as he grabbed his crotch, and I could tell what he was grabbing was no longer undersized at all. “I am so horny,” he said. “I’ve never been so horny in my life.”
“You’re dreaming,” I said. “You’ll never have Cody.”
“I might have had some problem last night, but with this body… well, it’s not exactly hard on the eyes, is it?”
And he pulled off the tank top exposing his torso, now thick with lean muscle and ripped to shreds. He ran his hands all up and down his bulging chest and rippling six pack. He was smoking hot, and he knew it.
“And if he still resists,” said Evan, “I can always make it a condition for the treatment, but I don’t think it’ll come to that, do you?”
I couldn’t speak. All I could think was that I was losing him. I was losing Cody…
“If it’s any conciliation,” said Evan, “I’d much rather have had you tonight. But since you smell like old vomit, Cody will have to do.” Then he turned around, and left the building, shutting the light as he went.
As soon as he was gone, I ran to the bathroom and emptied my stomach. But this time, I don’t think it had anything to do with the flu.
The next few days were a featureless blur as my fever seemed to rage out of control. I could only mark the time by the arrival of meals, which I mostly ignored, and the Doctor, who would force me to drink large amounts of fluids, mostly fruit juices. But I was starting to have trouble keeping even those down.
I did manage to get scant bits of information from Dr. Kramer, though. Cody was in the first stage of the process. He was incapacitated, but reacting exceptionally well. The Doctor credited it to his peek physical condition.
There was no sign of Manuel, but rumor had it that he’d made his way home to his family. Can’t say I blame him. And Evan had apparently damaged the tank the night of that last miraculous session. He was trying a new power configuration and blew out some of the circuitry. It was currently being repaired and its electrical systems fortified. For the time being, Evan was spending every waking moment with his calculations, trying to overcome the growth processes limitations.
And then one day I woke up feeling fine. The fever had gone, and though I still felt a little spent, I was well enough to get out of bed, dress myself and make my way back up to the main house. My first stop, of course, was to see Cody. I expected to find him laid out and feverish but when I got to our room, it was empty and the bed was all made up, as though it had never been slept in. I went downstairs to see if they were at breakfast, but no one was there either. And then despite my better judgment I made my way out to the warehouse.
As I entered, the first thing I saw was the tank. It looked like it was in perfect working condition and ready for action. Doctor Kramer was there looking over his monitors and absentmindedly nibbling on a piece of toast.
“Good morning,” I said.
“Good morning,” he said looking up in surprise. “I see you’re feeling better, but I’m not sure you should be out of bed yet.”
“Where is everybody?” I asked, ignoring his concern for my health.
The Doctor’s eyes darted all around the room. He looked distinctly uncomfortable.
“What is it? What’s the matter?” I asked. Then suddenly panic gripped me. “Where’s Cody? Is he alright?” I remembered how high Evan’s temperature had gotten during the first phase. It had almost killed him.
“Oh, yes,” said the Doctor. “Cody came through the first phase with flying colors. Never seen anything like it. His cells took to the enhanced generic material like a baby to its mother’s milk. One day of high fever is all he had. Then it was over. Amazing recuperative powers. That athletic conditioning, of course.”
“Then where is he?”
Doctor Kramer cleared his throat and hit a couple of keys on the computer. “I expect they’re both sleeping in, after last night…” His voice trailed off.
Both sleeping in? His choice of words sent knives of dread stabbing into my heart. But I couldn’t make myself ask that question, so I settled for the number two question. “What do you mean after last night?”
The Doctor’s eyes shot involuntarily to the tank.
Oh my God, no. “I thought you said the tank was broken,” I said, my voice rising.
“Oh, I did? Well we finished the repairs and upgrades just yesterday,” he said.
“And Evan went back in, didn’t he?”
“He, ah, came up with a new algorithm—extremely brilliant,” stuttered the Doctor. “It allowed a much longer exposure time. It’s still not enough for him, but I guess that’s just the way he is.”
“How big did he get? And Cody, what happened to Cody?”
“Ah…,” stuttered the Doctor, turning bright scarlet. “I think maybe you’d better see this.” He pointed toward one of the monitors. “We captured the whole thing on video.” He cleared his throat, “purely for scientific reasons, of course…”
I stared at the blank monitor like I was staring into the gates of hell. I knew I should have probably turned around and run from that place. But I couldn’t. I had to know what happened. What couldn’t the Doctor bring himself to tell me? I hit the play button. The image that filled the screen was one not too dissimilar from the one in front of me now; the warehouse, the tank, the computer monitors, they were all there. Only in the video the technicians were buzzing around and Doctor Kramer was pacing nervously. There were two camera angels, one from the front of the tank and one from the back.
In walked Evan dressed in a terrycloth robe. Cody was with him. He was wearing one of his signature tight tank tops and a pair of gym shorts. He had a towel around his neck as if he had just come from a workout.
“Justin should be here,” said Cody.
“Yes,” replied Evan, “But somehow I feel he is, even if it’s only in spirit.” And then he looked directly into the camera and winked.
Oh my God, he had foreseen this. Somehow he knew eventually I would be watching this on video.
“Are you ready, Doctor?” asked Evan as he turned away from the lens.
“Yes,” said the Doctor, “the new algorithms are programmed in. But I’m not sure what the second one is for.”
“I’ll let you know when the time is right,” said Evan. “But for now, we will begin with the first one.”
“I wish you would let me test it,” said the Doctor.
“We will test it,” said Evan, “on me.” Evan dropped the robe, revealing his short muscular frame. Now he was only wearing that diaper-like-thing. He did a long stretch making all the muscles on his torso pop and bulge. He finished by bringing his arms down to his side and flexing his biceps. They jumped up hard and solid. “I feel truly remarkable,” he said.
“You look great,” said Cody.
And he did. They both did. In fact, they almost looked like twins, short but built, and ripped to shreds.
“Thanks,” said Evan, “It was a good start, but to quote PT Barnum, ‘you ain’t seen nothin yet.’” Then he climbed up to the platform where the technicians began to affix the electrodes onto his hard little body. It didn’t take long and then Evan pulled on the oxygen mask and slid into the tank, barely making a ripple.
“I’m ready, Doctor,” came his voice over the loud speaker.
“Then let’s begin,” said Doctor Kramer nodding at one of the technicians. He hit a couple of computer keys and the tank began to bubble. “How do you feel, Mr. Phips?”
“Outstanding, Doctor Kramer, but I get the distinct impression that you are not using full power.”
“I though we’d work up to that,” said the Doctor.
“For what possible reason? Full power now, Doctor,” said Evan.
“Very well,” said the Doctor, and the technician typed in the instructions.
The tank began to bubble furiously. “Ahhhhhhhhh, yes,” Came Evan’s voice over the speaker, “Yes!”
Evan spread his arms out and I could see his entire form begin to tremble as he floated in the writhing liquid. Then it started. He began getting thicker.
Not all at once and not too rapidly, but the growth was unmistakable. His chest was swelling outwards; those tough little globes were becoming steadily larger, rounder pushing out in front of him, forcing his nipples into a downward position. On the number two camera, I could see his back begin to broaden, the muscles thickening, getting wider deeper. “Yes, I can feel it!” shouted Evan over the speakers, and he flexed his arms. Crap, his biceps had doubled in size. And through the glass oxygen mask, I could see his face was one giant euphoric grin, as he felt the power of his huge biceps explode on his arms. “Getting bigger,” he moaned, “so much BIGGER!” And he sure as hell was. His legs were stretching longer and longer and his quads were expanding, turning his upper legs into twin bulging masses of power, slashed with the cuts and striations of a hundred percent pure, lean muscle.
“Arghhhhhhh!” yelled Evan, “The muscle, I can feel it pushing up hard, so hard under my skin!” And his abs were swelling into solid plateaus rising up from the surface of his stomach, leaving deep valleys in between.
“Cody!” he called. I looked at camera two and had a clear view of Cody standing there staring mesmerized as Evan’s body continued to swell with power and mass. Oh my God, he was tenting. You could easily see it through his gym shorts. He was fucking hard as a rock. Watching Evan expand like that was clearing pushing him near to orgasm.
And I was a little surprised and shocked to notice that I was hard as well.
“Come to me, Cody,” cried Evan, “Join me.”
Cody apparently didn’t need to be asked twice. He vaulted up the ladder three rungs at a time and was on the platform in less than a second.
“Jump in, Cody,” beckoned Evan.
“But don’t I need those electrode-things?” he asked.
“These?” laughed Evan, ripping the electrodes from his own heaving muscular body. “These are just so those impotent scientists can feel like they’re doing something. They’re meaningless. This,” cried Evan, flexing his now huge bicep, “this is all that really matters.”
Then Cody grinned hungrily and jumped into the tank. “No, Cody!” I shouted at the monitor.
“No!” echoed the video Doctor. “Stop! The energy isn’t balanced for two!”
“You may engage the second algorithm now, Doctor.” said Evan.
Doctor Kramer dove for the keyboard and quickly typed something in. The lights flickered and dimmed and something changed in the room, there was some kind of strange background hum. “The hydrogen cells,” said the Doctor, they aren’t going to support this. It’s going to overload.”
But neither Evan or Cody were paying attention to any of that. They had far more compelling distractions. Cody’s body had started to grow almost as soon as he’d hit the liquid.
His shoulders grew broader almost instantaneously, heaving and pulsing as they grew in size and power. “Fuck!” he shouted “FUCK! This is intense!”
In camera two, I watched Cody’s familiar sexy lats explode with bulk, getting huge and thick and broad with hard rippling sinew, blasting out of the wide arm holes in his tank top and riping out it’s sides.
My back!” he cried, “Holy shit, my fucking back!”
“My pecs, oh my God, they’re— AHHHHH!” And then his chest exploded into twin cannonballs ripping out the front of his shirt and turning it into shreds. His expanding mountainous traps, snapped his shirt’s shoulder straps and the decimated tank top fell away revealing a huge, muscle encased torso with massive, swelling soccer ball sized pecs and enormous abs each of which were baseball sized, swelling and practically blowing out of his stomach.
“I’m exploding!” he cried. “My body is fucking exploding! ARGHHH!”
Then I heard a weird kind of creaking, snapping noise. Cody raised his hand and I saw his hand stretch out longer and wider. “YEAH!” he cried. And the strange noise got louder and I could see the same thing happening to his feet. “Fuck Yeah!” And then he began stretching up taller. Christ, in seconds he shot up five or six inches. “I’M FUCKING TALLER!” he shouted.
The veins all over his body started to pulse, and then Cody’s muscles, already huge by any definition, began bursting out even bigger. Heaving, swelling, bulging, his soft ball biceps expanded into twice their size and his triceps, blowing up on the other side of his arm, grew twice again as big as that. His chest nearly doubled in size, each pec looking like it was smashed against the other until I heard that cracking, snapping noise again and his entire frame stretched wider, giving them room and making his mountainous shoulders incredibly broad with delts like hard veiny cantaloupes.
“YEAH!” yelled Cody, flexing his monumental arms, as his impossibly huge thighs ripped out the sides of the gym shorts he was wearing. And then another bulge, this one at the front of those shorts started swelling and straining the cloth.
“ARGHHHHH! ARGHHH! It’s muscle! I‘m all muscle! All fucking over me! So hard! Growing! Oh fuck! Getting fucking massive! FUUUUUUUUCK!”
Damn. Cody’s body was erupting muscle, just vomiting up pure physical power. It was like his body was made for this, just sucking up the energy and instantly turning it into bulging, heaving, shredded sinew. It was clear that in a couple of minutes he would be bigger than Evan, who had continued to grow but at a much slower pace.
“I think that’s enough for tonight, Doctor,” said Evan.
Doctor Kramer punched in a sequence and the bubbling tank slowly became clear and quiet, and the growth slowed and stopped. They were huge, the both of them, huge. But Evan and Cody didn’t’ climb out of the tank. Instead, Evan pulled off his oxygen mask and the two of them faced each other, treading water and checking out their new bodies. And they weren’t just checking out their own bodies, they were checking out each others’ as well.
“I can’t believe this,” said Cody, looking down into the liquid at his bulging, muscular form. “Is this a dream, or am I really fucking huge? I look huge. I feel huge. Evan, tell me I’m really huge.”
“Cody, you’re really huge,” said Evan.
“FUCK YEAH!” shouted Cody, slamming his large fist into the liquid and making it splash. “Fuck yeah! And you’re pretty damn big yourself.”
“I know,” said Evan.
“Evan, I’m so fucking horny,” said Cody. “I can’t remember ever being this fucking horny.”
“You mean this horny?” said Evan, and he clenched his big fists at his side and I could see his substantial abs clench a second before his mammoth cock exploded out of his diaper-thing and sent the flimsy garment floating to the bottom of the tank. Evan’s manhood had gotten huge, fully engorged it was at least 14 inches long and thick as a beer can, and sticking out over two grapefruit sized balls. Holy crap.
Cody looked down at it and grinned. “Yeah, that horny,” he said. And I could see the remains of his gym shorts shudder and split. There wasn’t much left of them anyway; the elastic band still stubbornly clung to Cody’s muscle inundated waste, but there were only a few polyester shreds still hugging his gigantic hamstrings and quads,. And an instant later, even they fell prey to Cody’s massive muscle cock as it rose up from under the elastic band and erupted outward. Jesus, it was huge, every bit as big as Evan’s.
Then Evan dove down, grabbed Cody’s cock and began giving him head under water. Cody gasped. His head back, his massive chest heaving as his breath got shorter. He reached down and ran his hands along Evan’s thick lats and a second later he was reaching for Evan’s cock. The two assumed the 69 position, bobbing and splashing and floating in the tank.
That was it. I couldn’t take anymore. I hit the key and killed the image. I felt numb, like all emotional feeling had been drained out of me.
“They went on like that for quite a while,” said the Doctor from across the room. “Then they went up to the house.”
“Did they?” I said. I turned and marched from the warehouse without saying another word to the Doctor. Suddenly the numbness was gone and I was overtaken by rage. I knew where I had to go; I just didn’t know what I was going to do when I got there.
I entered the house, ran swiftly up the stairs, and headed directly for Evan’s bedroom. When I got there I found Armond standing in front of it, big arms crossed over his massive chest. How was I going to get past him? As it turned out, I didn’t need to worry. He stepped aside when he saw me. I put my hand on the doorknob, ready to raise some hell, when Armond placed his hand on my shoulder. I turned and looked up at his looming form.
“You may look, but don’t disturb,” he said, in his incredibly low voice. “They were…active deep into the night.”
I pushed open the door and stared. The room was a mess. Shards of broken furniture and shreds of torn cloth were everywhere. The walls had holes in them, for Christ’s sake. Even the bed frame had apparently been destroyed sometime during the night, and was now lying in fragments all over the room. The mattress was on the floor, placed haphazardly on top of the debris. And there they were, Evan and Cody, two incredibly big, ripped muscle studs, lying asleep, intertwined and covered with cum.
The sight of my Cody, my beautiful Cody, now huge and powerful, practically took my breath away. Oh, I know I’d seen it on the video. But it was a completely different thing to gaze upon him in real life. Those massive shoulders, cannonball pecs and eight brick-like abs combined with Cody’s angelic face was an amazing combination. And were his upper arms bigger than his head? In that position I just couldn’t tell. That was what he had wanted, and now he had it... as he lay there naked with Evan.
I turned from the sight, walked from the room and closed the door behind me. I felt the numbness creeping back. Armond looked down at me and handed me a piece of paper.
“Here,” he said. “I was to give this to you if you came by. I’m sorry; I don’t know what it means.”
I looked at the paper. It had IOU written on it, and across the front, stamped in red ink, were the words, “Paid in full.”
That was it. I was through. I didn’t care what I had to do, or how many incriminating pictures Evan distributed, I was out of there. After Cody, I just couldn’t stand to be there another minute. I threw some things in a suitcase, barely paying attention to what I was packing. Then I hauled it down to the car, and tried to get Evan’s chauffer to dive me to the airport. But either he didn’t understand my English-mixed-with-gestures or he simply refused to take me. I wasn’t clear which; I only knew I wasn’t gong to get a ride that way.
Dragging my suitcase down the drive on its stubby little wheels, I headed straight for the gate. I figured I could walk to the nearest town and find a way to the airport from there. But when I got to the ornamental wrought iron gates, the security guard refused to let me pass.
I was outraged. “It’s a free country!” I shouted, but then I had to stop and think, because when it came right down to it, I wasn’t actually sure Mexico was. But no matter how much I shouted and ranted, the guard wouldn’t let me out.
So, dragging my rackety suitcase behind me, I proceeded to circle the inside of the wall, hoping to find another gate or better yet a gap. There wasn’t one. Crap. I was trapped. Evan had his own little fiefdom here, and it was pretty clear that if I wanted to leave I was going to need his permission.
Feeling defeated, I went back to the medical hut. I certainly couldn’t go back to my room in the main house. That would just be too much to bear. And I think I’d spent more nights here, anyway. So I flopped on the bed, stared at the ceiling and tried to think of a way out. I don’t know how long I laid there. I was still lost in my own misery where I heard the voice.
“Hey,” it said. I knew that voice, and yet I didn’t. It was deeper and more resonant, but many of the tonal qualities were still the same.
It was Cody.
I couldn’t bring myself to look at him. “Hey,” I said, still staring at the ceiling.
“Breakfast is on,” he said.
“I’m not hungry,” I answered.
“It looks really good,” he said. “They’ve got farm fresh eggs and bacon and sausage and just about every kind of fruit you can imagine. They’ve even got low fat cottage cheese… if that’s your thing.”
“Please go away,” I said.
He was silent for a moment but I could tell he hadn’t moved.
“Evan wants you to come,” he said.
“I don’t give a rat’s ass what that piece of shit wants,” I spat.
“You don’t understand,” said Cody; he sounded a little odd. “It’s not a request.” I felt him leave the doorway and move heavily into the room and suddenly I realized exactly what he meant.
“You’re gong to force me?”
“Carry you, if I gotta.”
I turned to look at him and was once again thunderstruck by just how fucking big he was now. He was a least five ten, maybe five eleven, a good six or seven inches taller than he used to be, and about an inch taller than me, and all fucking, bulging, ripped-to-hell muscle. He wasn’t wearing much, just a skimpy pair of cotton shorts that were obviously too small for him; they only barely managed to cover that improved package of his, and they had the effect of highlighting just how spectacular the rest of his body now was. I watched his boulder abdominals rise and fall with each breath, saw his left cannonball-like pec twitch, watched the striations of his wrecking ball delts shift under his skin, and saw thick veins pulse as they ran over his monstrous, bulging biceps. He was walking, talking power now. There was no doubt he could easily carry out his threat, no matter how much I might struggle.
“It’s alright, I’ll walk,” I said, not really wanting him to touch me.
It wasn’t really all that far to the main house but the walk seemed to go on forever. Neither of us said anything. I tired not to even look at him. But he was so big, it was hard. The best I could do was to look at the ground, and even then I could see our shadows stretching out in front of us, his completely dwarfing mine with its wide, bulging mass.
Evan was dining outside again this morning, and when I caught sight of him, I couldn’t help but be amazed at the dramatic change he’d gone through in just the week or so I’d known him, from a frail, sickly boy to the huge muscle stud I saw sitting in front of me. If he were standing, I’d guess he’d be about 6’ 1”, and about as muscular as a champion body builder. He, also, was dressed only in a skimpy pair of cotton shorts.
“Good morning, Justin,” he said. His voice had also plummeted. “I must apologize for our state of dress. Our own clothing has become… somewhat inadequate, and I’m afraid these are all that could be found. Although I find myself not too unhappy with the inconvenience,” he said flexing his huge bicep, watching lustfully as it pumped up, split and formed a considerable peak. “Yes, I think I could live with it for quite some time.”
Then he turned his attention to me. “Please, have a seat.”
“No thank you; I prefer to stand.”
Evan rose, and oh my god, I was right. He was at least 6’ 1”. He really was looking down on me now. And his torso was so thick with ripped, bulging muscle, I guessed he had to be about 350 pounds. With him in front of me and Cody next to me, I was beginning to feel pretty small.
In two strides of his colossal legs, Evan had crossed the patio and was standing over me, bumping me with his massive striated pecs. “Please don’t make me force the issue, Justin,” he said. “Sit down.”
I gulped. I really had no choice. I had no desire to be beaten, and it looked like that was the only alternative to sitting, so I sat.
“Excellent,” said Evan, returning to his chair. “And you, Cody my pet, come here and sit by me.” He patted the chair next to him.
“Yes, Master,” said Cody.
“Master?” I cried. “Evan is your master?”
“He is my muscle master,” said Cody, sitting next to Evan, “and I am his willing muscle slave.” This was too much. That didn’t sound like Cody at all. I was beginning to wonder if maybe there had been brain damage in the tank after all. But then, who knew how suddenly gaining so much size and sheer physical power would affect the mind.
“That’s right,” said Evan standing up and moving behind Cody’s chair. He put his large hands on Cody’s substantial traps and began messaging them. “He is my slave and I can do with him as I will.” Evan’s right hand moved down until it was cupping and fondling Cody’s right pec. Then Evan reached up with his thumb and forefinger and pinched Cody’s nipple; he let out a soft moan.
Oh Christ, I didn’t know how much more of this I could take. Were they going to go at it right here in front of me. That may actually have been what Evan had in mind. Fortunately for me, he was interrupted by Doctor Kramer’s arrival.
The Doctor cleared his throat. “You wanted to see me, Master Phips?”
“Yes, Doctor,” said Evan, releasing Cody and returning to the table, where he had a sheaf of papers spread out. “I want you to take a look at this.” The Doctor walked over and looked down. I could see they were looking at a series of calculations and roughly drawn diagrams. But I couldn’t see them very clearly, and even if I could, I wouldn’t have known what they meant.
“So, you see Doctor,” said Evan, pointing at one of the papers, “removing this wave from the energy signature should have the desired effect.”
“I don’t understand,” said the Doctor. “Without that wave, there’ll be no trigger. The cells will just keep absorbing the energy and storing it. They’ll be unable to use it.”
“That’s correct,” said Evan, “and we go on letting them absorb it until they reach saturation point, at which time, we hit them with an enhanced blast of this modified wave, here.” He pointed at an equation on the paper. “That should make things interesting, don’t you think? Of course, to avoid synaptic damage the initial absorption rate will have to be quite slow and gradual, but I think the ultimate results will be dramatic enough, don’t you?”
“No,” whispered the Doctor, “no, what you’re proposing is recklessness bordering on insane. The energy would cause a chain reaction, forcing the body’s cells to rapidly grow and divide, grow and divide, each reaction building on the last, getting larger and more violent, building and building, growing and growing until… well, there’s no end in sight.”
“If only that were true, but alas the reaction would be limited,” said Evan pointing at another set of calculations. “It will ebb, but not before...,” Evan trailed off with a huge grin on his face. “…there’s been substantial development.”
The Doctor balked. “You propose to turn yourself into a freak, a colossus of unimaginable proportions; my process was never designed for that.”
“I know, Doctor; fortunately you have me to show you its full potential.”
“And these energy requirements for the final wave, our power systems can’t generate that much energy.”
“They may overload, but they should be just about adequate for the job.”
“Overload? Do you realize what you’re saying? You can’t just overload a hydrogen fuel cell!”
“Doctor, enough of these objections. Please return to the warehouse and begin making the necessary modifications.”
“What now? Already? Without any further study?”
“Immediately,” said Evan rising to his full height and using his new muscle-ridden body to intimidate the Doctor.
“Fine,” sighed Doctor Kramer and he turned around and left.
“Now, where were we?” leered Evan, turning towards Cody and me.
But just then his cell phone rang. “Isn’t it always the way?” he grumbled as he closed his large paw around the phone hand held it up to his ear.
“What?” he barked. Suddenly his attitude changed completely. He looked almost scared. “Are you sure?” he asked. “When?” He paused, listening intently for a few seconds before he said, “It’ll be tight, but I think I can be ready in time. Just take care of things on your end and let me handle things here.” Then he hung up.
“My father is coming,” he said. “We can expect him in a few hours.”
Thank God, I couldn’t help thinking. If anyone could put an end to this horror show it was Malcolm Phips.
Evan started pacing. “Damn, it’s too soon. If only I’d had another few days.”
“Why?” I asked. “What difference would a few days make?”
“You may not be aware of this,” said Evan, “but Friday is my 16th birthday. I’ve had a team of lawyers working on my emancipation papers for months now. On Friday I would have finally been able to file them. I’d be free and out from under my father’s thumb for the rest of time.”
“But now he’s found out?” I asked.
“Yes,” said Evan. “Someone has betrayed me.” And he gave me a hard stare. “But I can deal with that later.”
I hadn’t told his father. Of course I would have if I could have, but I didn’t know how. “I see,” I said. “And he’ll probably shut this place down just as soon as he sees what you’ve been doing.”
“It won’t come to that!” shouted Evan. “I won’t let it!” He slammed his huge fist down on the thick oak table. It cracked in two and fell to the ground. Then he marched off the patio toward the warehouse. “Cody, come,” he called over his shoulder, “and bring Justin.”
Cody rose and took a step forward, looming over me. His thick muscular body and threatening posture definitely implied the use of force.
“It’s ok,” I said. “I’ll walk.”
“Doctor, there’s been a change in plans,” said Evan as he marched into the warehouse. “I will be going back into the tank in exactly one hour.”
“What?” gasped the Doctor. “That’s simply not enough time.”
“I am out of time, Doctor. One hour.”
“Then you’ll have to help us,” said Doctor Kramer.
“Of course,” said Evan. “Let’s start dividing up tasks.”
In the end, even I was given something to do, just some simple rewiring and I was tempted to sabotage it. But there was a technician checking my work, so it wasn’t possible.
It took an hour and a half, but at the end of that time, Evan was slipping into the tank. The Doctor hit a few keys and the Tank began lightly bubbling. I stared at Even intently expecting him to start exploding with muscle. But after a few minutes, where there was no change, I turned to the Doctor and said, “He’s not growing.”
“No,” said the Doctor. “He needs to stay in that tank absorbing energy for about 3 hours. It will take that long for his cells to reach saturation point, and then we can hit him with the trigger wave which will start the growth reaction. That is if we can build up the necessary power for the trigger. There’s still a lot of work to do before then.”
“And then he’ll grow?”
“He’ll grow all right.”
“I don’t like to think,” said the Doctor, returning to his work.
I glanced over to see Evan bobbing in the tank and shuddered. He was bad enough at this size. I couldn’t imagine what he’d be like if he got too much bigger. It was terrifying. Once again I considered sabotage, but I didn’t know enough about how things worked to effectively break them. And besides, Armond was standing in the corner watching everything. I doubt weather I could have done anything with him there.
Everyone was so focused on the tank, I didn’t think they’d notice if I slipped away. And even if they did notice, I don’t think I was important enough for them to bother about. So I wondered back to the medical hut. It’s funny but I was actually starting to think of it as home.
I don’t know how long I had been lying on my bed trying to figure out what to do when I heard the gun shots; the farmers again, it must be. I wondered if they’d managed to get past the wall again. And if they did, maybe they could show me how to do it.
There was a bang, and the whole building shook, as Cody flung open the door and barreled in. Out of breath, his massive chest was heaving and he had a panicked look on his face; it looked strange on someone that big and with that much muscle.
“The farmers are back,” he shouted, frantically. “Are you ok?”
“I’m fine,” I said. “Go away.”
“No way,” he said. “It’s too dangerous for you to stay here by yourself.”
“What about your master?” I said. “Doesn’t he need your protection? He’s pretty helpless in that tank.”
“He has an army of security guards,” said Cody, dismissively. “Plus I think Armond could take out an entire village on his own. He doesn’t need me.”
“And what makes you think I do?”
“This,” said Cody, striding across the room on those juggernaut legs of his. He reached down and picked up the warped rifle which was still on the floor, right were he’d left it several nights before, when he had still been my Cody and not the tall configuration of massive biceps, heaving pecs and gargantuan shoulders I saw in front of me now. He clasped the ruined weapon in his large, heavy, vein-ridden hands. I watched the sinews in his forearms writhing under his skin. I saw his enormous biceps expand to even bigger proportions, and his shoulders swell with striated power. And slowly the rifle barrel began to bend. It was an amazing sight to see; eyes closed, face beat-red, Cody put about a 40 degree angle in the barrel before he let it drop to the ground, and exhaled heavily, his face lighting up with satisfaction.
“There,” he said. “I’m strong enough to protect you now.”
Protect me? This didn’t make sense. He’d made his choice, and I’d lost. “But you’re Evan’s muscle slave,” I said.
“Yeah,” he said.
“And you’ll go running back to him when he comes out of the tank?”
“As soon as he calls,” said Cody, making me wince.
“I don’t understand,” I said.
“Don’t try to,” said Cody. “It’s better for everyone if you don’t try to. It’s not something that’s explainable.”
I was lost. Nothing made sense. I couldn’t tell up from down, left from right, or light from dark. All I could feel was the pain, the terrible pain of his betrayal and loss.
“Get out,” I said. “Get the fuck out.”
Cody opened his mouth like he wanted to say something, but instead his whole form slumped and he turned around and started to leave.
And that’s when the farmers burst in.
They didn’t see Cody at first. He was standing right by the door, and since I was directly in their line of sight, they focused entirely on me. There were two of them, but only one of them had a rifle; the other one only had a club. The guy with the rifle trained it at me and shouted something in Spanish while his friend rushed me with the club.
“Justin, run!” shouted Cody, as he reached over and yanked the rifle right out of the guy’s hands. The farmer turned in shock, and Cody just let him have it with a right cross. It sent him flying across the room at least ten feet until he collided with the wall and slumped to the ground unconscious. The other guy turned around at the sound of his friend hitting a wall at 30 miles an hour, and that’s when I made my move. I picked up the bent rifle at my feet and clubbed the second farmer over the head with it. Down he went.
“You ok, Justin?” asked Cody.
“Yeah, fine,” I said, a little out of breath.
“See, you do need me,” he said.
I looked over at the form of the unconscious, burly, rifle-baring farmer, now slumped at the base of the wall, and said, “I coulda taken him.”
“Yeah, sure,” said Cody, hesitantly. “But we should probably get up to the warehouse anyway. It’s the best guarded place on the compound. We should be safe there.”
The warehouse was the last place I wanted to be. “You go where you want, “I said. “I’m staying here.”
“Justin,” growled Cody. I could see he was starting to get angry. “You’re coming with me.”
“Not in this lifetime.” The way I was feeling, the less I saw Cody, the better.
Suddenly he was across the room and reaching for me with his mammoth arms. I tried to dodge him but I couldn’t. He grabbed me with an iron like grip, hauled me up and threw me over his boulder-like shoulder. I thrashed like crazy, but it did absolutely no good against his overwhelming strength.
“You’re coming with me weather you like it or not,” he said. “I’m not going to let you kill yourself just to get even with me.” And he started hauling me off toward the warehouse.
“You can’t do this,” I shouted, ineffectually.
“Actually,” he said, “With this much fucking muscle, I can do just about anything I want.”
We hadn’t gone very far when, from my elevated vantage point, I caught sight of a large group of people headed toward us. They were farmers; I could see that they were. Some of them had rifles, some had axes and a few of them carried pitchforks.
“Cody,” I gasped.
“I’m not letting you down, Justin,” he said.
“Shut up and look behind you,” I said.
Cody whirled around which, of course, cut off my view entirely.
“Holy shit!” he cried. Then he turned toward the warehouse again and started running.
A couple of the rifle-bearing farmers started taking pot shots at us.
“Hurry up, Cody!” I shouted. “I thought you were supposed to be strong!”
“I’m not exactly built for speed,” he said.
“Don’t give me any of your fucking excuses, just run!”
And he did. We made it to the warehouse which was guarded by quite a large number of armed security guards. As soon as we got inside, Cody set me down. I’d like to say we were safe at last, but suddenly I wasn’t so sure.
The whole place was vibrating with a high pitched whine, the lights were dimming off and on, and the technicians were scurrying about like cockroaches. And Evan, still bobbing up and down in the tank, looking exactly the same as he had when I’d left a few hours ago.
Suddenly Armond, brushed past us and went up to the microphone, the one they used to talk to Evan while he was in the tank.
“Master Phips,” he said. “We’ve got to get you out of here. The farmers are attacking and I don’t think I can hold them off, not with this crew.”
“What?” shouted Evan over the load speakers, “Ridiculous. I’m not leaving now, not for a bunch of mud rakers. I’m on the verge of transcendence.”
“But sir, the guards aren’t going to fight very hard. Their hearts just aren’t in it. These are their relatives and neighbors that are attacking.”
“Just a few minutes, Armond, you need to hold them off for just a few minutes,” said Evan.
“A few minutes? Then what?”
“Then,” said Evan, with a lean, almost hungry smile, “I’ll take care of them personally.”
Armond shook his head, turned and raced back outside. Almost instantly the Doctor rushed up to take his place at the mic.
“It’s no good, Master Phips. It’s not going to work,” he said.
“What do you mean it’s not going to work?” shouted Evan.
“You need a thirty second blast of the enhanced energy wave to trigger the growth,” said the Doctor, “but the hydrogen cells won’t handle it. The computer says they’ll blow in twenty three and half seconds.”
“I don’t care,” said Evan. “Trigger the wave as soon as I reach saturation.”
“You’re there now,” said the Doctor, “but—”
“Then trigger the wave!” shouted Evan. “Trigger the wave at once!”
The Doctor looked up at Evan for a second, and I almost thought he was going to tell him to go to hell, but instead he looked around at all his technicians and shouted, “Clear the building! Everybody out!”
The technicians didn’t need to be told twice. I was sure they knew just how bad things could get. In fact they looked so scared, I became frightened myself. Cody and I turned to join their exodus when Evan’s voice came booming over the load speaker. “Not you, Cody, my muscle slave. Come here and witness your muscle master transcend into a muscle god.”
Cody stopped, turned and headed back toward the tank.
“No, Cody, what are you doing? He’s not sane. He’ll kill us all.”
“Justin, go,” he said, “just go while you can.”
What was the matter with me? I should have been fleeing in terror, but I couldn’t move. I couldn’t leave Cody. A while ago, I was ready to never see him again. But that was different from watching him get hurt or killed by the maniac to whom he had attached himself.
“Engage the wave, Doctor,” said Evan.
“Engaging,” said the Doctor and he hit a couple of keys.
Suddenly the whine turned into a roar and the entire building started to shake. The tank seemed to be filled with light, the bubbling liquid glowing like green fire.
“Yes!” shouted Evan. “Its coming. I can feel it coming!” And the veins on Evan’s body began to pulse. They would swell and recede, swell and recede. “Any second now!” he cried.
The shaking got worse. Bits of the roof began falling in. I had to dodge quickly to keep from getting hit by one.
“You two should get out of here,” said the Doctor.
“But my master,” said Cody.
“To hell with him,” said the Doctor, “In a few seconds he’ll be dead, and so will anyone who’s in here with him.” And then the Doctor turned and fled the building.
“Cody,” I said, “don’t die for him. He’s not worth dying for.”
He didn’t take his eyes off Evan. “I have to stay,” he said. I couldn’t believe Evan could possibly command this kind of loyalty. But I couldn’t abandon Cody, not even now. I played my trump card.
“Fine,” I said. “Then I’m staying too.”
“No!” said Cody. “You have to go!”
“If you want me to leave, you’ll have to carry me,” I said.
Cody looked like he was about to explode with conflict. He looked back up at Evan for a second and then he took a step toward me.
“No,” boomed Evan. “I command you to stay, slave. You will stay with me.”
The building shook and another huge piece of ceiling came crashing to the ground.
“No,” said Cody, “You ask too much.” Then he grabbed me, flung me over his shoulder and ran for the exit.
And as we went, I heard Evan exclaim, “Cody, come— Oh my god, my body! It’s happening. IT’S HAPPENING!”
From my vantage point on Cody’s powerful shoulder, I saw Evan’s body begin to swell and grow at an alarming rate. His pecs were exploding out of him, his hard, vascular arms were inflating like balloons, and his frame was shooting upwards and outwards as his muscles grew into fucking mountains.
“At last!” he cried.
And then we were outside. We didn’t get fifty yards before we were blown to the ground by a tremendous explosion. Flying debris landed all around us, and when we sat up and turned around, we could see that the entire warehouse had been destroyed. It was now a smoking pile of rubble.
Armond came running up. “Master Phips, where’s Master Phips?” Both of us just turned and looked at the smoldering remains of the warehouse.
“No,” he said, and took off toward the rubble at a jog. Well, it looked like someone was going to miss him. And as I watched Armond race toward the ruined warehouse, I suddenly remembered the farmers.
“What happened to the farmers?” I wondered out loud.
Cody looked up and around. “I don’t know,” he said. “I can’t see them anywhere.”
“They took off as soon as the building started shaking,” said Doctor Kramer. I hadn’t seen him walk up, “along with the guards. That makes them smarter than a lot of us.” The Doctor pondered the ruined warehouse for a moment. “Well, I may as well see if there’s anything salvageable.”
It didn’t look like anything was. But the Doctor headed toward the rubble anyway. I followed him. For some reason, I found all that destruction fascinating. I think it was the same kind of fascination that compels people to slow down and look at road accidents. Cody followed after me, but I didn’t want to think about his motives.
Poor Armond, he looked quite frantic darting through the heaps of debris searching for what I could only guess was Evan’s body. Maybe he even hopped to find him alive. Doctor Kramer just surveyed the wreckage from the side. He didn’t look over anxious to get his hands dirty.
I looked over the scene with relief, and a bit of sadness. Thank God the nightmare was over, but it was a shame it had to come to such a tragic end. I was about to turn back toward the medical hut to collect my suitcase, when out of the corner of my eye, I saw some movement in the rubble. I looked more closely, and holy crap, it looked like there was a kid partly buried under the debris. My first thought was that Doctor Kramer had forgotten one of his poor, pathetic test subjects, and poor kid had gotten caught in the explosion.
I rushed toward the shifting rubble only to stop in horror as I got close. It wasn’t a kid I was seeing; it was a hand, a massive human hand. It was thick and, oh my God, it looked… muscular. That hand was fucking inundated with muscle… and it was moving! Holy fuck! Look at the size of that thing. It had enormous thick digits with huge masses of sinew bulging out all along them; they looked more like a body builder’s legs than fingers. And the fucking palm, it was as big around as a manhole cover and about three times as thick. And the veins that ran across the back of the hand were about as big as garden hoses. I watched in a kind of fascinated terror as this incredibly powerful looking appendage groped around, searching for something to grab hold of. It found a huge chunk of concrete and latched on to it. But the concrete crumbled to sand in seconds beneath the incredible force applied by that giant hand.
Finally it found a steel girder and grabbed onto that. The metal beam stood the pressure, and a second later, more than two yards away, another massive hand broke the surface!
“Cody! Doctor! Armond!” I cried. “I think…. I think it’s Evan!” Or whatever he was now, I was pretty sure he used to be Evan. He used to be the thin, frail boy with the sunken chest and stick arms and legs and who looked like a stiff breeze could have knocked him over, but now…
The two mammoth muscular hands were grasping, straining, obviously trying to pull the colossus that owned them up to the surface. And as the rubble fell away, I got a look at forearms that were unlike any other forearms that had ever existed. Incredibly thick, cable-like sinews intertwined with each other bulging and flexing, expanding to an almost unthinkable width just below the wrist, and they just got thicker and more powerful looking the further up the massive arm my eyes traveled.
And then the head emerged. It was just about dead center between the two hands. It was Evan’s head alright but it was about twice as large as it used to be. And his neck was about as wide as a telephone pole, with thick, bulging corded sinew running up and down its bulky length. He looked right at me and grinned.
“Justin,” he said, in a voice that sounded like it came from a subwoofer, “How nice to see you.”
Then some more rubble shifted and I saw his massive shoulders emerge, stretching out more than two feet on either side of his head. But something was wrong. They didn’t look quite right. They were too smooth and rounded at the ends. Holy crap! Those weren’t his shoulders; they were only his God dam traps! Holy shit, they were the most massive traps anyone ever conceived of, wider than an Olympian’s shoulders. More rubble shifted and my breath caught in my throat at the impossible sight of his real shoulders. Fuck, they were both about three feet in diameter, two enormous masses of ripped, segmented, striated flesh made from muscle fibers thick around as my pinkie.
I realized my mouth was hanging open.
“I can see you’re impressed,” said Evan. “I must admit I feel… quite remarkable. The experiment must have turned out well. I almost wish I had your view of me. But then I have a feeling that when I get out of here I’m going to enjoy my perspective much, much more.”
And then the rest of his arms broke free from the debris. I don’t have the words to describe his biceps. To say they were startlingly huge would be a gross understatement. If I were to curl myself into a ball, I might be the same size as one of them. That’s not even mentioning his triceps. They swelled out twice as thick as his biceps, turning his upper arm into a fucking planetoid. And as much as I was in awe of them, it was nothing to the way he reacted. The look on his face as he gazed upon them was the look of true love.
“My arms… Look at my arms, Justin,” he breathed. “They feel… astonishing.”
He raised his arms high above his head and then brought them down in a colossal double bi pose. Holy fuck! The mountains that exploded up on his arms! They were giant, flesh covered boulders, a configuration of insanely huge bulges, with peeks the size of basket balls. They had monster veins running up and around them before disappearing into his giant delts. I literally felt myself getting week in the knees. The fucking power he must have! His giant biceps’ bulges had bulges.
“How can I describe the way my arms feel?” Evan rumbled. “It’s exquisite just feeling the size of them, the weight of them, and the rock hardness of them. They’re part of me and yet somehow alien at the same time. And the power… Oh, Justin, the sensation of power overwhelms me.” Evan gaped at, and almost drooled over his own ponderous biceps for another full minute before he dropped his gargantuan arms and began to free the rest of his impossibly colossal body from the wreckage of the warehouse.
The rubble shifted and broke apart a full two feet in front of his head as his massive pecs exploded out of the concrete and wood debris. Sand and chunks of gravel cascaded down over those globular masses of pure muscle, each one four times the size of my head, and ran down the deep valley in between them, tumbling and bouncing off his eight boulder-like abs. I had to wonder which was harder Evan’s gargantuan, shredded body or the concrete that was bouncing off of it.
And his back…? Fuck, I could see huge, thick wings thrusting out about three feet on either side of him. It looked like he had a giant manta ray fused to his torso. And when he twisted I could see huge thick rolling muscle plateaus swelling out on either side of his spine, sinking it into a deep valley.
And it was hard to take my eyes off his abs, those bulging steel hard bricks. Holy crap, I was looking up at them! I was looking up at his massive, cut lower abdominals, each one the size of a football, and the muscle ridden behemoth hadn’t even finished standing up!
He rose a little higher and out it tumbled. Holy Fuck, there was a freakin’ fire hose hanging from his groin, draped over two huge, melon-like balls, it hung down past his continent-sized, ripped, vascular quads almost to his sunken knees. He was going to have a tough time finding a partner with that thing. And suddenly I was very worried for Cody.
And still Evan’s giant form kept rising and rising and rising from the wreckage. He was incredibly tall; he was also about 7 feet wide at the shoulders and almost 4 feet thick, and his entire body was just overwhelmed with muscle. A shadow fell across me as he rose to his full height and his massiveness blotted out the sun.
Crap, Evan had to be about 10 feet tall, and an impossible mass of insanely huge, bulging muscle.I couldn’t imagine there had ever been anything like him.
“And now for a little test drive,” said Evan. He reached down, grabbed the steel girder which he’d used to pull himself up from the ruins. Just one end of it was sticking out of the wreckage; the rest of it looked like it was buried deep under the rubble. His massive back bulged insanely and suddenly there was an explosion of wood and concrete as he just ripped the girder from the ground. The girder was probably about twenty feet long and appeared to have been buried deep in the wreckage, but he just yanked it out as if he were pulling a weed. I ducked and covered my head to protect it from the flying debris, but it was just luck that kept me injury free. When I looked up again, I saw a lawn mower sized chunk of concrete had landed right in front of me.
Evan grasped the girder in his giant hands about midway along its length. I could see the muscles tense all over his arms, but nothing happened. I guessed he was trying to bend it. Maybe he couldn’t. Maybe he wasn’t as strong as he looked. But then I heard the unmistakable screech of stressing metal, and then I saw the girder stretch for an instant before it pulled apart in the center. Evan had torn the fucking thing in half, just ripped it in two with his bare hands. Holy fuck!
“I’ve done it!” cried Evan, dropping the girder and flexing the immense muscles all over his enormous, bulging body. “My weak puny body is gone forever. It has exploded into a ten foot juggernaut of massive, ripped muscle, insanely powerful, stronger than I ever dreamed of being! Nothing can stop me now!”
Suddenly I realized I wasn’t alone. Sometime while I had been watching Evan’s massive, obscenly muscled form rise from the rubble, I had been joined by Cody, Doctor Kramer and Armond. We all stood there gaping at the giant 10-foot tall muscle god towering over us, grinning, with his massive chest heaving, his entire body overrun with impossibly massive ripped-to-hell muscles, looking like they were about to explode right out of his skin, and wondering what was going to happen next. I guessed it would be whatever Evan wanted to happen. Nothing we could do would stop him.
“It’s amazing how tiny you all look,” said Evan, “how fragile and inconsequential. And to think, that’s how I used to appear to everyone. I must say I approve of the change.”
Evan flexed his gargantuan bicep and ran his, thick, sinewy fingers all over it. “Harder than titanium,” he said. “If only I could communicate the euphoria I’m experiencing, the intoxication of pure physical power. It’s everything I’ve ever dreamed of and more.” His fire-hose cock began growing stiffer and longer and rose up huge in front of us. I was reminded of a medieval battering ram. It was big around as a half-keg and nearly two feet long. It stood out straight from his body and curved slightly upwards. He put his wide thick hand down, and began stroking himself, his eyes closed in ecstasy.
“Gentlemen,” he said, opening his eyes again, “I’m afraid I must have release.” He looked at each of us in turn. I don’t know, maybe he was expecting a volunteer. “Cody, come here.” I got very frightened for Cody as he stepped forward.
“I’m very displeased with you for running out on me, my little muscle slave,” he continued. “I should make you take me up your ass,” he paused a little to let Cody think about that, and I could see he was, “But my magnificent cock would only break you like a china doll,” continued Evan. “And you’re far too pleasant a plaything to discard in that manor. You may use your tongue.”
As Cody stepped forward, Doctor Kramer and Armond turned and started to walk away. I couldn’t. I wanted to, but I couldn’t.
“Stay where you are,” shouted Evan at the Doctor and Armond. His thunderous voice struck me like a shock wave. “You will await my pleasure. We still have business, and this will only take a few minutes.” The other two stopped but did not turn around.
Cody grabbed Evan’s member in his hands, guided it up to his face, and began liking it all over.
“What are you doing down there?” bellowed Evan. “Put some muscle into it, my diminutive slave. I can barely feel you.”
Cody went at it harder pressing his whole mouth up against the bulbous head, kneading it with his lips, but in another second, Evan’s giant hand came down and swatted him away. “Not good enough, you weak, puny thing!” he yelled. Cody flew ten feet and landed on the ground with a thud. “Clearly, I’ll have to tend to it myself,” said Evan.
He grabbed his shaft with his left hand running it all over the giant head, while his right hand rubbed his insanely huge, muscle inundated torso up and down, exploring every hard curve and valley as it went. He closed his eyes and started moaning and it wasn’t long before he shot thick streams of cum in several spasmodic bursts.
When it was over, he gazed down on us and said, “Forgive me.” But he didn’t look sorry at all. “That was crude. But the Doctor tells me hormone levels after growth episodes are so high that such urges become uncontrollable.”
“But now there’s the matter of my betrayal,” said Evan, bringing his massive, muscle saturated body to his full, overwhelming height. “One of you told my father,” he boomed. “One of you nearly ruined all my designs by bringing him down here.” His gaze fell on me.
“I didn’t… I mean I couldn’t…” I stuttered, panicking.
Evan laughed. “Relax, Justin,” he said. “I admit that for a fraction of a second I thought it might be you, but then I realized you were hardly competent enough to achieve the task. No, there’s only one person who could have betrayed me, my less-than-faithful Armond.”
“It wasn’t my idea,” said Armond, immediately. “I would never do anything to harm you. Your father ordered me to tell him.”
“Then you should have lied,” said Evan. “And now you’re going to pay.”
Armond took a step backward, but he wasn’t in time. Evan shot out with his giant, meaty hand and clamped it around Armond’s head. “I knew as soon as I got the phone call,” said Evan, “I wasn’t in a position to do anything about it… then.” Slowly Evan lifted Armond off the ground; his obscenely gigantic muscles just bloating with power, as he grinned, “But I am now.”
The large man began struggling, hitting at Evan’s huge paw and his massive ripped sequoia of a forearm, but it did no good. Evan held onto him easily, a smile on his face and showing no sign of any strain.
“But this isn’t fair of me,” said Evan, dropping the big man, who fell to his knees. “Armond I’ll give you a chance to live. All you have to do is hurt me, even a little. Go on; give it your best shot, because if you fail, I will certainly hurt you.”
Armond leapt to his feet. He rapidly climbed up Evan like a rock face and started slamming punch after punch into his tree trunk of a neck. Evan didn’t even flinch. The big man went for Evan’s eyes, but with the slightest gesture from one colossal arm Evan knocked Armond to the ground so hard he sent up a cloud of dust. Evan chuckled as Armond pulled himself up again and then started attacking Evan’s ridiculously massive legs, concentrating on the knees. Evan just stood there and let him do his worst. He hardly seemed to notice. Then Armond went for Evan’s crotch but Evan reached out and slammed him to the ground again, so hard this time I wasn’t sure if he was going to get up again.
“That is where I draw the line,” said Evan. Then he reached down and picked up Armond in one giant fist. Armond struggled and batted at him but to know avail. “This is amazing,” said Evan, laughing. “I used to be so intimidated by you, your sunglasses, your silent manor and your huge arms. Now you seem so inconsequential. Your struggles are nothing, tiny man, nothing. You are completely helpless against me.” He flexed his other arm for Armond and it expanded to a mountain of vein wrapped muscle about the same size as Armond’s torso. “You’re an ant compared to me,” Evan laughed, “a bug. And as such, I will crush you.”
Evan began slowly squeezing, a horrible sadistic grin on his face. Armond’s struggles increased. Then, there was a sickening crunching sound and Armond screamed.
“That’s enough,” I cried. “That man would have laid down his life for yours. He deserves a little more consideration!”
“Ah, Justin,” said Evan, “so relentlessly compassionate. Very well.” And he dropped Armond who fell into a broken heap at his feet. The big man was unconscious, bleeding, with God knows how many broken bones, but he was alive.
“Bully!” yelled the Doctor, “You’re nothing but a common bully.”
“Hardly common at all,” said Evan, once again admiring the ridiculous amounts of muscle bulging up all over his own gargantuan physique, “thanks to your process.”
“You make me sorry I ever developed it,” said Doctor Kramer. And suddenly the Doctor charged at Evan. I don’t know what he could have been thinking; maybe it was temporary insanity. The Doctor was a scraggly thin guy in is late fifties. What he thought he could do against a muscle mountain like Evan, I have no idea.
Evan knocked the Doctor back with the merest flick of a finger, and started laughing as the doctor fell against a slab of concrete and hit his head.
I was at his side in an instant. “Are you alright?” I asked.
The doctor was barely conscious. He shoved something in my hand. “Stick him with this,” he said. It was a syringe.
“What is it?” I asked. “I won’t kill him.”
“Not poison,” whispered the Doctor. “Release residual energy in cells… Zap his synapses. Take him down a peg,” and then he was out cold.
I wasn’t sure what it meant. I guess Doctor Kramer wanted to fry some of Evan’s synapses. Would he become a mindless brute like Manuel had? I wasn’t sure I was willing to do that either. Who knew what damage he would cause?
The sound of a car engine drew all our attention. A long limousine was pulling up the drive, Malcolm Phips, no doubt. I used to think he could stop this insanity, but now, looking up at Evan’s impossibly gigantic muscles exploding out all over his towering body, I was no longer sure.
“Daddy’s here,” grinned Evan as he went loping off toward the car. The ground shook with each of his footfalls.
I ran after him with Cody following me. Evan moved with amazing speed. Those tremendous legs were good for more than just lifting ridiculous amounts of weight; pumping rapidly back and forth, they propelled him at a tremendous velocity. The last ten yards, he covered with one leap, shooting up into the air and landing with an earth shattering crash directly in front of the moving limo. It slammed on its breaks, and came to a screeching halt.
The limo driver threw open the door, jumped out, took one look at the gigantic mountain of ripped, bulging muscle standing in front of his car, and ran for his life. The back door opened and none other than Malcolm Phips stepped out, looking around somewhat disoriented. I can only assume he hadn’t seen his son yet.
“Get out,” I cried, still a dozen yards away. “Phips, get in your car and get out of here! He’s dangerous, unstable. Get out!”
Phips looked in my direction and shielded his eyes to the sun. “Mr. Conroy,” he called “What happened to my driver? Where’s Evan?”
At his last question, my head automatically turned toward the grinning muscle behemoth, standing in front of the car. Phips turned to see what I was looking at and just froze slack jawed at the sight of Evan’s two tons of solid, ripped-to-hell muscle towering ten feet over him.
“What the hell is that?” he said.
“Come now, father,” said Evan, “don’t you recognize your only son?”
“Is this some kind of joke?” said Phips taking a step toward Evan.
“No!” I shouted. “Phips, get back.”
“You are so limited, father” said Evan, “Here you are staring at a miracle of genetics and all you can say is, ‘is this a joke?’”
“My God, it is you,” said Phips. “Armond was right.”
“That’s right,” said Evan, “your little boy is all grown up.” Then he reached down and grabbed Phips. The tiny executive was almost entirely swallowed up in Evan’s giant fist. Then Evan lifted him up so they were face to face.
“Release me at once!” he cried. “Where’s Armond?”
“Armond?” repeated Evan. “He’s over there… in pieces.”
Now Phips was really starting to look scared. “Evan, put me down.”
“You know there’s a school of thought,” said Evan, “that says children are born to replace their parents, and as such, they can never be truly complete until after their parents are dead.”
“Evan, we can talk about this,” said Phips, swallowing hard.
“What’s there to talk about? I’m still your sole beneficiary, am I not?”
Phips remained silent.
“It’s true I originally wanted to hold off a bit, until well after my sixteenth birthday, but then you had to go and force the issue. Let’s face it father, I’m tired of being under your thumb. But I’ll give you a taste of being under mine.”
Then Evan pressed his mammoth thumb on to Phips’ face. Holy crap that enormous digit covered it entirely. And then Evan pressed. I could hear Phips’ muffled shouts as Evan slowly increased the pressure, until the poor man screamed. “Had enough, Father? Funny, I endured it for years.”
Then Evan released his thumb, and Phips took a huge breath. “Evan, put me down at once.”
“Of course, father,” said Evan. He walked over to the limo, pulled open the back door and tossed his father inside. The he slammed the door shut and using his thumb and forefinger pinched the metal around the door, sealing it shut. The he walked around to the other side and pinched that one shut as well.
I could see Phips on the inside, shouting silently and pounding on the bulletproof glass, trapped in the back of his own limo. Evan peered in the window and sighed, “There’s another figure who used to impress me, now also reduced to a pathetic joke, completely helpless before me.” The he flexed those impossibly gargantuan biceps again, and almost started drooling over the sight.
“I believe that once a man’s surpassed his heroes,” Evan said to me, “it’s his obligation to cast them down, don’t you think?” He bent down, put his monstrous hands under the car, and holy crap, with every muscle expanding to insane size, started lifting it up. Up, up it went, shifting and rocking as Evan, mountainous muscles heaving and bulging, adjusted his grip. Finally, gargantuan arms raised, he held it high above his head. “This really is the most amazing feeling,” he said. “To feel my body bulging and swelling with all this rock hard muscle, to realize that I am actually holding a car over my head, and with such little effort. It’s really quite exhilarating.”
The Evan threw the car. Holy crap, the thing must have flown about seventy feet before it crashed into the wall, obliterating the front end and knocking a sizable hole in the wall. Then it toppled back to the ground and rolled on its side.
“It’s a shame about these Mexican roads,” said Evan. “They’re so treacherous. Fatal car accidents happen so easily.”
“I can’t believe you just murdered your father,” I said.
“Murder?” said Evan. “That’s such a strong word. I prefer to think of it as a hostile take over. With my father’s wealth and my brains and physical power, there’s nothing I can’t achieve, nothing.”
My God, he was right. He was ruthless, brutal, cruel and unbelievably powerful. I could only imagine the misery he’d cause.
“And I want you to share it with me,” said Evan.
“What?” I gasped. He couldn’t possibly have said what I thought he just said.
“Can’t you see, Justin? I want you. I’ve always wanted you, ever since I first saw you standing there in that ridiculous valet suit. Your very smell is an aphrodisiac. You are so cute and you’re smart and you refuse to be intimidated by me. Even now, when everyone else is shaking in their shoes, you stand there proud and defiant, unafraid to speak your mind. You’ve no idea how beautiful you are to me.”
“What?” I repeated. I felt myself slipping into shock from the words I was hearing. “You want me?”
“I knew you could never want me when I was puny, sickly and weak. But now I have transcended; now I am a muscle god!” And he pulled a most muscular, causing those impossible muscles to expand into land masses, and make him seem even larger than the ridiculous size he already was.”
“What about Cody? I thought you wanted him.”
“Cody is nothing,” he laughed. “Oh, I hated him when I first found out about you two, but now even you must see what a weak willed inconsequential fool he is. He’s not worth bothering over. I admit he was a pretty plaything, but I’m done with him now,” he said. “Give your heart to me and he can be yours again, to do with as you like.”
I couldn’t believe Evan was just offering Cody to me like he was a hand-me-down video game or something.
“Of course my poor, puny little Justin,” said Evan, “We shall have to build you up so you can handle me.”
“I’m not interested in your filthy process and I’m certainly not getting in any tank,” I blurted.
“No, Justin,” said Evan. “There will be no more tanks. None are needed. The good doctor’s process has yielded me all that it can, more even.” He flexed again, causing his arms to swell up again with insane size and striated power. “Your evolution will have to be the slow, gradual kind, dependent on sunlight for the necessary energy.”
“You mean you want me to be like you?” I gasped.
“No,” laughed Evan, “That would require another tank with my special modifications. You will become huge by normal standards but you’ll never be anything like me.” And once again Evan flexed the unreal muscles all over his gigantic body. Huge bulbous masses just exploded out all over him. “There must never be anyone else like me.”
I was speechless. The prospect of becoming Evan’s muscular love slave was just disgusting. Even as mind bogglingly hot as his gigantic muscle inundated body was now, he was still quite probably the most revolting human being I had ever encountered. I think I would rather have died, than succumb to that fate.
But it wasn’t just me; I realized that Evan as he now was, unleashed on the world would be a catastrophe unparalleled in human history. I had to stop him. I had to use the Doctor’s shot.
“Ok, Evan,” I said. “How can I resist someone who is the physical and intellectual embodiment of power?”
He looked down at me and smiled broadly, as he reached down and scooped me up in those massive arms of his. I stiffened involuntarily.
“Don’t be afraid, Justin,” he said. “I won’t hurt you. I would never hurt you.”
“I’m afraid I can’t say the same,” I said as I pulled out the needle and jabbed him in his ponderous shoulder.
He looked down at me. “What’s this?” he said, looking at the small pin prick on his huge striated delt. “No, Justin, not you too.” He actually sounded surprised and hurt. But then that giant hand swung down. I felt the impact and then I was flying through the air. I landed on the ground and had the air knocked out of me. I was lucky I didn’t land on anything sharp and jagged. When I looked up Evan was clutching his head with both hands.
“What did you do to me?” he cried. “I can’t think. So much noise in my head.” And that’s when the farmers came back. There was a loud report just as a bullet ripped into Evan’s arm causing a stream of blood to flow freely down his mountainous bis. Evan turned toward his attackers and bellowed. It was a mixture of pain and anger and coming from a massive muscle beast like Evan, it was truly terrifying. A couple of the farmers turned and ran right then, but more of them raised their guns and started shooting right at the giant muscle god. A few shots hit him but none of them seemed to do much damage.
And then the farmers were on him. I guess they ran out of ammo because they were attacking Evan with pitchforks, clubs and rakes. Evan pulled one of his hands from his head and started swatting them away. Each time he hit a farmer, he’d go flying off 20 or 30 feet, but there were a lot of them and he was soon overwhelmed.
Of course the Federales chose this moment to show up. They opened fire on the farmers—and on Evan. I suppose if I had seen a 10 foot muscle giant knocking people through the air, I’d have shot at him, too. And Evan was pretty frightening. Of course I was still lying on the ground where Evan knocked me and I decided it was a good idea to stay exactly where I was.
The Federales herded everyone toward the wall. Some of the farmers hopped onto it and scaled it! How they found hand and foot holds I’ll never know. Evan, of course, simply smashed right through it. And after he opened the way, the remaining farmers just poured out. Some of the Federales gave chase and in the distance I heard gunshots. But it looked like the worse was over for now.
I picked myself up and almost immediately found myself face to face with their leader, who, fortunately for me, spoke perfect English.
“What happened?” he wanted to know.
“That would take some explaining,” I said, “But for now, we need medical help. There are a lot of hurt people.”
The Captain, as I guess he was, wasted no time calling for aid. I showed him where Armond was lying, unconscious, but breathing steadily, and where the Doctor was. The Doctor was not in as good shape. His head was in a veritable pool of blood. He was awake, but his breathing was very labored and he seemed to have trouble focusing.
“Hang on, Doctor Kramer,” I said. “Help is on the way.”
“Did you get him?” asked the Doctor. “Did you inject him?”
“Yes,” I nodded, “and now I suppose he’ll become a mindless brute like Manuel.”
“I don’t know,” said the Doctor, “It took a lot of energy to cause that much growth. Hard to say what it will do. In any case, he’s far less dangerous now.”
“Let’s hope,” I said.
“I’m not going to make it,” he said.
“Don’t talk like that.”
“No, it’s true,” he said. “I’m no idiot. I’m a doctor. I know when I’m dying, but I suppose I only have myself to blame.” Then the Doctor reached into his pocket, pulled out a flash drive, and handed it to me.
“Take this,” he said. “It’s a record of everything we’ve done here right up to the explosion, designs, lab reports and my personal journal. Please bring it to my company, to Doctor Petersen and only Doctor Petersen.” I nodded even though I wasn’t sure I was going to do any such thing. “And please,” he said, “you need to read my journal… please. And forgive me.” Then he closed his eyes and slipped away.
I looked down at the flash drive in my hand. Somehow I knew that video of Evan and Cody in the tank would be on it. It was still hard for me to think of it… Then it hit me. I hadn’t seen Cody. Where was Cody?
I looked around and didn’t seen any immediate sign of him among the milling Federales. Of course it was always possible that he had taken off into the bush after Evan. Hard as it was for me to accept I realized it was a very real possibility. But I decided to look for him none-the-less.
I was still searching when the ambulances arrived and began taking the injured away. And that, unfortunately, is how I found Cody. I saw his muscled form lying prone, pale, and unconscious on a stretcher in between two EMTs. I ran over. His side was a bloody mess.
“Oh my God! What happened?” I cried.
“’Sokay,” said one of the EMTs, “Shot. Much blood, but ok. Miss everything important.”
I picked up Cody’s hand. It was cold, too cold. It scared me. I walked along side the stretcher clutching his hand. When we got to the ambulance, they let me ride with him to the hospital.
I sat in the waiting room a long time thinking about Cody. It was clear he was obsessed with Evan now. And who knew, when he woke up he might just decide to follow after him. And even if he didn’t, I didn’t think I could ever trust him again. And without trust we really couldn’t have any kind of relationship. So after the Doctor came out and assured me that Cody would be fine, I decided it would be best if I just made my way back to New York without ever seeing him again.
On my way out of the hospital I was surprised to see Malcolm Phips lying on a hospital bed. He was out cold and bandaged up like a mummy, but apparently he had survived the “car crash.” I should have guessed. It would probably take a wooden stake and a beheading to kill someone like him.
As I left the building I realized I had everything I needed for the trip home. Since I had been trying to escape the compound earlier, I still had my passport and my wallet on me. My suitcase was still back at the medical hut, but I never wanted to see the compound again and the loss of a few articles of clothing seemed a small price to pay. I took a cab to the airport and flew back to New York where I could start to put the pieces of my life back together again.
But I should have known it wouldn’t be that easy.
I hadn’t been back two weeks when I received a registered letter from the Phips Foundation. I’m ashamed to say it, but the thing actually scared me. It took me a full day before I had the courage to open it. The letter was obviously prepared by a lawyer. It politely but firmly reminded me that I had signed a nondisclosure agreement upon accepting employment with them, and that it extended to any and all events that had occurred in Mexico. It also informed me that I had been put on retainer, and that I would be receiving the sum of one hundred thousand dollars a year, from now on. It was hush money, pure and simple.
I’d wondered why there hadn’t been anything about Mexico in the news. Now I knew. Phips was sweeping it all under the carpet. There was a check enclosed. They were also paying me the two hundred and fifty thousand dollars for my work with Evan. That was three hundred and fifty thousand dollars they were paying me. So who was I to argue?
Of course the money was nice, but it wasn’t necessary. I had already accepted a position with a prestigious psychology practice it the city working with kids, but the regular kind, no geniuses. That was ok; I’d had my fill of geniuses for the time being.
About a week later, I was having lunch with a friend when he remarked that there was something different about me, but he couldn’t quite put his finger on it. I told him that I had recently been out of the country and that I had been sick while I was away. He agreed that that was probably it. He also suggested that I see my doctor and have myself checked out, just to be safe.
Of course it was another couple of weeks before I could get an appointment, and when I did, my doctor told me I was in great shape and advised me to keep it up.
“Keep what up?” I asked.
“The workouts,” he said.
“I’m not working out,” I said.
“Very funny,” he said, laughing. “If you’re not working out, you ought to bottle whatever it is your eating and sell it, you’d make a fortune. You’ve put on 20 pounds since your last visit and it sure as hell isn’t fat.”
“What?” I cried, panicking. Now that he mentioned it, my shirts had been feeling a little tight lately. What did this mean? Had Evan processed me without telling me? I had the doctor take my height, and sure enough, I was an inch taller than I should have been.”
“Well what do you know?” he said. “A growth spurt at your age, it isn’t unknown, but it’s certainly rare.”
As I took the subway home, I kept running events in Mexico over and over in my head. It had to have happened while I was sick; that’s when he must have done it. I remembered the doctor’s final words to me “please read my journal” and “forgive me.”
As soon as I got home, I dug the flash drive out of the drawer where I’d tossed and forgotten it. I plugged it into my computer and quickly found Doctor Kramer’s journal. I skimmed through to the relevant dates and sure enough, found exactly what I was looking for.
Master Phips grilled me about Justin’s case of Montezuma’s Revenge. I told him it was nothing to worry about and that Justin would probably be alright in a day or so. But Master Phips was insistent that he remain ill longer than that. He needs time to convince Cody to undergo the process and he feels Justin might be a hindrance. I explained to Master Phips that I hardly had a pharmacopeia available to me. After which, with his usual impatience, he informed me that he didn’t care how it was done, only that it was done. Anticipating that Master Phips will eventually want Justin to go through the process, too, (he’s certainly hinted as much) I have taken the initiative and started him on it. This should put him out of action for the required period of time and save me the trouble later on.
Well, there it was. I had been processed. I stripped naked and stood in front of the mirror. Yup, I was starting to look muscular. Holy crap, what was going to happen to me? I was going to get bigger, that was for sure, but how much bigger?
I sat back down at the computer and started going through the log, desperately trying to find more information on the process. Most of the notes were technical jargon I didn’t understand, and the ones I could understand dealt with sessions in the tank. That didn’t help me much. The only entry that seemed to apply to my situation was a note about how, without the tank, the growth was dependent on sunlight and would progress very slowly.
But there was one other note that caught my interest. It was from the night Cody had entered the tank and changed. The Doctor was noting that the outrageously high hormone levels in Cody’s and Evan’s blood had precipitated an uncontrollable sexual frenzy. The doctor further speculated that Evan had been fully aware of the effect, having been in the tank twice before, and that he was using it to essentially drug Cody into having sex with him. That, at least, explained the first night. But how Evan went on to completely captivate Cody remained a mystery to me—unless that hormone surge had some lasting effect, but the Doctor had indicated the effect was only temporary.
I sat up all night just staring at my burgeoning muscles and thinking. I’ll admit the idea of swelling up huge and powerful had its appeal. But I worked with kids and kids generally found adults intimidating enough already. A huge muscle bound psychologist would probably scare them to death. But it’s not like I had a choice. It was going to happen; I couldn’t stop it, but I decided I would slow it down as much as possible.
I started wearing sun block all of the time, keeping the windows covered at home and at work, and seldom venturing outside during the day. But despite all my efforts, the needle on my bathroom scale continued creeping upwards.
As the weeks passed, I watched my frame fill out more and more everyday. The changes were astounding. Anyone would have thought I lived in the gym. My shoulders were getting broader, becoming small globes. My pecs were swelling larger, their shape defining my shirt front. My stomach had solidified into a six pack. And my arms were growing thick with powerful sinew. I have to admit I was starting to look pretty damn hot.
Whenever my friends would convince me to go out to a bar with them, I would get plenty of offers, but the truth was, I just wasn’t over Cody yet, and the thought of starting something new… Well, I just wasn’t interested.
So I just continued on, buying my work clothes larger and larger and hoping no one would notice the powerful bulk that was bulging up underneath them. And it seemed to be working pretty well until one day during a session with 12-year-old Jimmy Campbell. It had been a long day and I was getting tired. I leaned back in my chair and stretched my arms up over my head and brought them back down again in an unintentional bicep flex. Young Jimmy’s eyes practically popped out of his head.
“Fuck, Mr. Conroy,” he exclaimed. “You’ve got fuckin’ huge muscles. They’re bigger than my fuckin’ gym teacher’s.”
Yes, Jimmy had anger issues. He also swore like a kid from the Bronx even though he had a Park Avenue address.
But not all my patients were as enthusiastic as young Jimmy. Most of the kids were getting increasingly shy around me, especially the girls. It was kind of hard for me to take. I’d always had a very open honest face and enjoyed an almost instant report with children.
It wasn’t long before my boss, Dr. Schiller, took me aside. “Maybe you should take it easy on the weights, Justin,” he said, looking up at me. He didn’t used to look up at me, did he? “We don’t want you scaring away the clients. Some of the parents are already starting to comment.”
It was that night that the letter came. It was from Cody. At first I was going to throw it out, but for some reason I didn’t. It stayed there on the table in the front hall for a week, while I debated what to do about it.
Finally, I opened it.
I guess I’ll be lucky if you even read this. I’ve been wanting to call you, but I wasn’t sure you’d hear me out, so I thought a letter would be the best way to do this. A lot happened down in Mexico and now that Evan’s gone, I’m finally able to tell you about it. I don’t know what happened that first night in the tank. It was like I was hit with some kind of sex madness. I couldn’t resist it. I went a little crazy, and then the next morning, when it was all over and I realized what I’d done, I wanted to go to you and explain. But Evan wouldn’t let me. He had pictures of you, Justin, pictures that would have ruined you. He told me he’d spread them all over the media if I didn’t do exactly what he said. I know how much you love working with kids, and it would have killed me to see you lose that. So I became his muscle slave. I couldn’t tell you because Evan had the whole compound bugged and any conversation we had, he’d have heard.
I know what I did sucked and that I treated you like shit, and I’m sorry. I want you to know that for me, every minute was a living nightmare. I hope one day you’ll be able to forgive me.
As you might have guessed I had to give up gymnastics. I just lost too much flexibility when I grew, but I still have no regrets. It was definitely worth the price. I’ve taken up bodybuilding instead and I’m doing pretty good. My body responds unbelievably well to the weights. Sometimes I feel a little guilty though, like I’m cheating. But I make sure to never compete in any natural shows even though I could pass the drug test. I will be competing in the Nationals in Hoboken next week. I’d love to see you there if you can stand to look at me.
Love always, Cody
I should have known. I should have trusted him more. No wonder the whole thing seemed so unbelievable, so impossible. It wasn’t real. It was just another one of Evan’s sick games. I should have known.
The next week at the Nationals I made sure I was sitting up front and center. It cost me a pretty penny to do it, but I could afford it. And when Cody stepped on stage, I practically lost my breath. He was HUGE, much bigger than the last time I saw him and no doubt the biggest guy there. He walked away with the heavyweight and the overall, easily out classing every other competitor there.
After he received the trophy, and posed for all the photos, he turned and leapt off the stage and suddenly he was standing right in front of me, like a muscular skyscraper. At this point I was pushing six feet tall, but Cody had to be at least 6’ 3” or 6’ 4” and he had so much muscle exploding out all over him that he dwarfed anyone who came near. All the other competitors were like children next to him.
“Justin,” he said, “I’ve missed you so much.”
“Me, too,” I said standing.
“Whoa,” he said, scoping me out. “You’ve grown.”
“Yeah,” I said, “you, too.” And then there was the hug and the deep passionate kiss, followed immediately by the swift exit.
Cody and I were back together again, and suddenly none of my problems seemed all that difficult. I quit my job. Cody was also on a similar stipend from the Phips Foundation, and together with his winnings we had plenty of money. I didn’t really need another job but I found one anyway working for the juvenile corrections department. It was different work than I had trained for, but I was still working with kids, most of whom desperately needed help. And the Juvenile Detention Hall was having problems keeping a psychologist there. Most of them wound up leaving because the kids didn’t respect them. Oddly enough, I didn’t have that problem.
I have to admit I often found myself wondering what ever happened to Evan. The official story was that Evan Phips had died in an industrial explosion in Mexico. I knew this wasn’t true. I saw him emerge alive and massive from the rubble. I saw him crash through that wall and lurch off into the Mexican countryside, but what happened after that?
Then one day I noticed a tiny article in The Voice, about a small Mexican circus that was touring the US. There was a photo of the troupe and towering in the background was an impossibly large hulking figure that looked frighteningly familiar. But I couldn’t actually be sure from the photo. And for some reason, I wanted to be sure.
It took some doing, but I finally convinced Cody to drive out to Pennsylvania with me. He was partially convinced the circus was some kind of elaborate trap Evan had set to catch us again. I supposed it was possible but I seriously doubted it.
The circus was extremely charming and well worth the trip on its own. It was an old fashioned group that still had a main show and side shows. The act we were looking for was billed Don Fuerte and was not part of the main show.
We found what we were looking for in a fenced in circle a short ways from the big top. It was Evan alright. His head had been shaved and he was covered in tattoos, but that face and that gigantic, impossibly muscled body were unmistakable. He was hoisting a small car over his head for the cheering, clapping crowd. He dropped the car to the ground with a crash and proceeded to growl and flex for his applauding audience.
The he caught sight of us and came lumbering over. I wanted to turn tail and run, but somehow I managed to keep my nerve. And then when I saw him looking down at me, I realized I had nothing to worry about. His eyes were as dull and as blank as a fish’s.
“Justin,” he rumbled.
“He must like you,” said a Mexican man who was in the ring with Evan. “We figure that’s his name, ‘cause that’s about the only thing he says. None too bright,” he said tapping his skull with his forefinger.
I looked up into Evan’s face as saw a small trickle of saliva leaking down his chin.
“You gentlemen in the business yourselves?” he asked. “Because you look as though you might be.” He flexed his arms, showing us he noticed that we were both pretty large guys. Cody, of course, still towered over me, but not as much as he used to.
“No,” I said, “we’re just here to see the show.”
“Well, you missed most of it, but we’ve got another show in an hour. Please come back,” said the man, and he turned and walked away. But Evan remained staring at me like an old man trying to dredge up some distant memory. I couldn’t feel sorry for him, try as I might. He had his monster body, just as he had wanted, but the incredible mind he had been born with was gone forever. I wondered if he had known what the trade off would be, if he still would have made it. He did seem happier now than I ever remembered him being, and he certainly was less dangerous than he had been. Maybe it had worked out for the best after all.
And then something hit him. Some kid who was 12 or 13 was throwing peanuts at him. Evan turned and tried to figure out what was molesting him. He took a few swats at the air, trying to kill some non-existent bugs. The kid thought it was hysterical and threw another one at him. Evan continued his imaginary bug hunt, which thrilled the kid to no end. He kept pelting the clueless behemoth with peanuts until the peanut bag was empty. Then, still laughing, he walked away.
Cody turned and started to leave. “Where are you going?” I asked.
“To get some peanuts,” he grinned, “where else?”
When we got home that night Cody seemed to be in a weird mood. “Did it bother you to see Evan?” I asked.
He just shook his head and sighed. “No,” he said. “He got what he deserved. But, still… Did you see the size of him? I forgot how big he was.”
“I didn’t,” I said. “How could I?”
“Wouldn’t it be awesome to be that big?” Cody had grown to be 6’ 9” and his body was so massively developed that any title he wanted was pretty much his for the taking.
“I think you’re plenty big enough,” I said.
“Yeah, but wouldn’t it be awesome?” he repeated, and I realized that Cody relished the idea of getting that big. He really wanted it.
I tired to imagine Cody ten feet tall with biceps bigger than my car tires, giant bolder-like pecs, and abs that would stop a truck, and suddenly I was so hard I could barely walk. I was getting pretty big too at his point, and I was pretty sure I’d still be able to take him even if he did grow to Evan’s size.
I went to the drawer and pulled out Doctor Kramer’s flash drive. All the plans and equations were there. With my connections at Columbia it wouldn’t be too difficult to find someone who could build one of those tanks for us; we certainly had the money. I mean, it wouldn’t really do any harm, would it?
And, after all, Christmas was coming.