WD2: Female Bodybuilding Excerpts

After reading IFBB Pro Lisa Cross’s Devil And Disciple, I wanted to show off  some of the female bodybuilding influenced work that I had written in the Will’s Downfall trilogy. Naturally, bodybuilding is only a small smidgen of the many themes expressed in the work and is only a few chapters at most. But I left it there to show my love and appreciation for the sport. Enjoy!

 

 

TWELVE

Birth Of The Muscle Woman

A few weeks after I landed my new job at D&M Publishing, my wife finally decided to come back from wherever it was that she had hidden herself away, these past few weeks. I noticed that she had a different sense about her, maybe that she had really had been training in a cave of some sort. Whatever the case, this was a different woman altogether.

“So, you finally decide to come home.” I said, as she walked into the kitchen.

“I needed time to be alone.” she replied.

“Well, you could’ve told me something.” I replied angrily. “All I know is that my kids are being babysat by some plastic wench until further notice; and my wife might have been preparing to jump off the face of the Earth, for all I knew!”

“I certainly thought about it.” she said, glumly.

“Oh, look up a little, woman!” I berated her. “This is no time for depression. I’ve got a job of my own now and I intend to be ready to present material every month to be published in my new magazine, The Irate Individual.”

“Wow!” she exclaimed. “That’s great. I’m proud of you, Will.”

“Are you planning on staying here, now?” I asked, curious to her answer (and it had better not be anything funny.)

“Yes.” she sighed.

“I’ve never heard in my life, of a woman who wants to jump out the window if the fire gets too bloody hot! What part of wife and mother don’t you seem to understand? You can’t just bloody walk out on your responsibilities!” I thundered, as I walked over to my recliner and sat down. I knew that there was nothing more to say now, and hollering any more at this woman was going to do nothing more than to bring her to tears.

“Could you sweep and mop the floor before you have another pity party and leave without telling anyone? If your emotions are that bad, I’ve got a prescription for some happy pills.” I added.

Saying nothing further, she began to mechanically sweep and mop the kitchen floor. Then she walked upstairs to the bedroom and presumably went to sleep. Perhaps she’ll have a new outlook on things tomorrow.

However, I still wonder what drove her to this point in the first place. It could be that weird fire ability she’s got. Perhaps it sends so much adrenaline into her body, that she bottoms out and goes into severe depression.

In that case, I might have to make a trip to the pharmacy after all.

2

About a week later, (and a couple doses of happy pills later) I began to notice that Cleo was taking up a new hobby. It was good to see her doing something besides making herself into a plastic doll, or collecting enough magazines to be her own publisher.

But just like all the ideas that she’s had, I wasn’t exactly crazy about this one either. Believe it or not, the woman began to take up a more heated version of her previous notion to take up physical fitness.

When I say, “more heated” I am referring to her new lifestyle that seemed to include going to the gym once a day after work, and sometimes even in the night hours. Then she began to eat things that didn’t seem to be rather appetizing to anyone. Not even the birds, really.

I actually came home one night from the office to find that she had been staring at a small plate with a very small amount of vegetables on it and nothing else.

“Is that dinner?” I asked, puzzled.

“Just a short snack before I go back to the gym.” she said. “I’ve got to work on my glutes a bit, and then I think I’m going to do some chest curls and maybe a few shoulder presses too.” she smiled.

“What do you think, Will? Should I work on my abs a bit? They’re not quite as carved as they should be.”

“Are you a sculpture?” I asked, puzzled at the word “carved” in this instance.

“Well, aren’t you just the sweetest, Will.” she said, sarcastically. “You haven’t guessed by now that I’m training for the lightweight California bodybuilding finals?”

“B… B… Bodybuilding finals?” I asked, almost unsure of myself. “What could you possibly want with that stuff? You aren’t using steroids I hope. I don’t want to be married to Garbold…”

“Schweissenheimer is actually supposed to be there as a judge.” she said, finishing my sentence and cutting it off like a sharp pair of scissors. “On second thought, my left bicep doesn’t look quite right…” she stopped for a minute.

“Oh!” she shouted, startled. “You asked about steroids, right?” she asked. “Well, to tell you the honest truth, I don’t believe in bodybuilding with steroids. I think that they should be banned from all types of sports. I mean the health risk is far too great.”

“So I’m married to an athlete?” I asked.

“I’m more like a canvas. A canvas that gets constantly more defined every day.” she replied.

“Well, with all that sweat… Wouldn’t you smell?” I asked.

she laughed. “Um… That’s what I believe soaps, shampoos and other things of that nature were made for, you ignoramus.”

No, she didn’t just call me an ignoramus. The damned bitch, I’ll…

Then I got a good look at her. Her arms were a bit bigger than mine, which caused me to retract my thoughts quickly. Although I have to admit, she didn’t look like a man and I was glad for that.

She was still much more built than a normal woman, but she didn’t look like Garbold, she looked like Cleo. She was still my wife, whether I liked it or not. “For better or worse” was what that he said, and I guess I’ve got to abide by it. Whatever this new change was, it was certainly better than worse. We’ve been through worse and quite frankly, I was damned tired of it.

“Well… I guess if it’s all right for you then, love.” I said.

“What do you mean by that, Will?” she asked, confused.

“I meant that if you want to be a female bodybuilder, it’s all right with me.” I said plainly.

“I didn’t realize that I needed your permission, Will.” she said, sternly. “Are we still living in Biblical times? Or should I still keep myself nice and modest, in the kitchen.”

“In all actuality… I would…”

“You would be glad to accompany me and you would be delighted to carry my weights from station to station.” She finished my sentence like a set of loud drums which made anything further completely inaudible.

“If you’re good, maybe I’ll let you feel my biceps.” she hinted.

“What about your pecs, then?” I asked.

“You and chests, Will.” she sighed. “I have no earthly idea what I’m going to do with you.”

She then for apparently no reason at all, slapped herself in the head. “Shit!”

“What?” I asked, hoping that she hadn’t gotten angry. A fist from her arm to my face would leave a mighty permanent scar.
“I bloody forgot to pay the babysitter!” She cried.

“Looks like I’m off, then.” I said, waddling over to my car. Well, I would have – if Cleo hadn’t pulled me by the ear, her mighty fingers now like a steel vice-grip.

“Oh, no you don’t!” she hollered. “We’ll go together.”

“Oh, brother.” I said with a sigh, and assumed the position… of the back seat.

3

A few minutes later, we arrived at the home of “Plastic Amy” who was sitting on the couch and eating potato chips, while the children sat on the carpet and played with their toys. Plastic dolls and mighty alien warriors both made peace that day; a feat that I would find to be damn near impossible in real life.

“Cleo!” she hollered. “You know you forgot to pay me, right?”

“Whoops.” she laughed. “I guess I kind of forgot about it on the way to the gym.”

“You seem to frequent the gym a lot here lately.” Amy retorted. She turned to look at me. “Will, what do you think about being married to Missus Garbold…?”

“Don’t even start it, Amy.” I scowled.

“He’s going to carry my weights back and forth, cause he’s such a good husband… Right?”

“Yeah.” I said. “I gather that’s what she’s got me doing, though to tell you the truth, I’d rather…”

Cleo grabbed my hand and began to grip tightly.

“You’d rather… what?” she asked, in a manner that said, “answering this question may be hazardous to your health.”

“Nothing.” I replied. “I said… getting fatter! I think I’m getting fatter from work, and maybe it wouldn’t hurt me to go to the gym either.”

Cleo kissed me on the cheek. “So you do approve of my decision this time?” She smiled.

“It’s healthy.” I replied. “I can’t argue with health or physical fitness.”

“I think it’s weird, Cleo.” Amy replied. “Why do you want to look like a man?” she laughed.

“There is nothing wrong with a strong, powerful woman!” She bellowed.

Holly ran towards Cleo. She grabbed hold of her leg and hugged it. “Mommy is strong!” she hollered whimsically. “I want to be strong too!”

Cleo picked up the girl in her arms. “Whew.” she sighed. “You’re a workout just to carry. I told you that if you don’t stop eating junk, you’re going to get too big for your britches, young lady. I’m thinking about enrolling you for a junior’s class in the fitness program. Your personal trainer is a good friend of mine, Shawn Mitchelson. He’ll make that weight fall right off of you!” She shouted, setting the girl down on the floor.

(Who’s this Shawn Mitchelson, and why don’t I know him? Where does she meet these people?)

“What about Michael?” I said.

“He’ll be trained on small weights for about a few hours a day. Then when he gets his motor skills together, he’ll begin rigorous exercise.”

“Really?” I said, kind of shocked. “You don’t think he’s a little young?”

“Children can learn up to four different languages in those years. They can also have their bodies trained to be strong and healthy machines. For Holly it will be tougher, but I see Michael becoming some sort of powerhouse in his later years.”

Just bloody brilliant, I thought. Now if he ever has a problem with me, he can just knock me right out of my window. How can you discipline children who are built like battleships?

“Cleo, this is nice and all, but…” I wanted to say it, but you’ll have to forgive me for not having the balls. After all, she might be strong enough now to rip them right off, and I’d rather keep them hid as much as possible.

“I think you’ve gone insane, Cleo.” Amy said, concerned enough to finish my sentence. “All of these muscles on the children… It’s a bit batty, if you ask me.”

“Well, it’s never too early for physical fitness.” she replied. “Now, if you’ll excuse me, here’s twenty dollars. Will and I are going to the gym and we should be back before ten. I have to get a shake about that time.”

I felt like I was living under the rule of a drill instructor. I was just waiting for her to holler, “Drop and give me twenty, you bleedin’ piss ant!”

Truthfully, I’m just wondering how long this is going to last. Personally, I think it’s lasted quite long enough already.

4

The drive to the gym was short and I wished that it was longer. I hadn’t planned on any rigorous exercise today, but I had planned on rigorous sleep.

“Well, we’re here.” she said, pulling out the key from the ignition.

“It’s that bloody close?” I asked and didn’t realize it.

“Yes, it’s that bloody close, Will.” she said, insulted.

Whoops. I’d better watch my foul tongue, lest it be ripped out by this female titan.

For the record, I’ve always hated gyms. There were always men that looked better than I did, and I hated to look at people who looked better than me. I knew that I was no prize, but to have it rubbed in my face by California bodybuilders that have pectorals and biceps as big as my fucking head, well… that’s more than a normal insult. That’s a bar that you can’t reach unless you pop steroids and risk your heart beating out of your chest, or the damn thing failing all together.

“What are ya doing standing there, William?” Cleo asked.

“Well, there’s those musclemen and… and…” I couldn’t finish it. I was too nervous.

“Oh.” she smiled. “Well, if you’re worried that one of these muscle-bound doofuses is going to take you from me, well, you’re wrong. See, I’ve always loved having power over weaklings like you, dear.” she laughed sadistically.

“Now, hand me a weight, will ya?” she hollered out. “I think I’ll start out with the fifteens today.”

“Sure.” I replied. I was pretty sure that I could carry fifteen pounds. I wandered over to where the weights were being held and grabbed two fifteen pound dumbbells. Immediately, they began to feel like two fifteen hundred pound dumbbells.

“Christ.” I said. “These things are awful heavy.”

“Just hand them to me, Will.” she laughed jovially. “And don’t make a fucking scene out of it. Watch it with the “C” word around here too, some of these people are quite religious.”

“Wow, that’s the first time I’ve ever heard you care about something so minuscule before. Is this part of your new habit? Perhaps you’re going to be some sort of Christian bodybuilder?” I jokingly asked.

“Shut up, Will.” she commanded, with a scornful look in her eyes. “I just don’t want to give people the wrong idea. I accept all faiths equally, as you should.” she said while grunting and trying to smile, as the sweat began to pour into her eyes from the heavy curls that she was doing.

“Now that I’m warmed up, I’m going to need you to start the count. It shouldn’t be that a big of a deal, since I’m the one working the guns and all that you have to do is bloody count the reps.”

I was too tired for even that. I felt as if my brain was awash with some mutated mash-up of numbers and letters and pictures, neither of which I could soundly decipher.

“One… two… three… four… eight… five… seven…”

“Stop!” she hollered. “Can you not count?”

“Sorry, love.” I replied. “They worked the hell out of me today. I’m practically being rushed to finish another issue by the end of the week.”

“You’ll be fine, Will.” she said. “I have faith in you.”

She has faith in me? If that’s true, then I’ve got to be one hell of a fucked up deity. Somehow, I don’t think that’s what she meant.

“If any guys try to push you away, don’t worry about them. Their muscles are nothing compared to the power I have.” she said, straining to lift the dumbbells in her final set. “They do it all of the time… ooh… ahh… and I can’t fucking stand it… errr… come on, Cleo… It’s just one more.” she muttered to herself. I took a seat.

“Working your… erghh… aghh… gluteus… maximus… are you… Will?” she scowled at me, straining all of the way. “The only time you sit… in a gym… is… when… you’re… resting!” she hollered.

Nervous, I immediately got up.

Then she began to laugh. “I was only joking, Will.” she said, sitting her weights down on the ground. “If you want to sit on your bum, it’s okay with me, Will.” she said. “I understand you’re tired. Perhaps we can try it again, tomorrow night.”

“If I’m up to it.” I said. “Those bastards are really working me hard this week.”

“I appreciate that you’re here, at least.” she said, with another one of her patented smiles. They always seemed to work wonders.

“Could you take these two back and bring me some twenties?”

“Twenties?” I replied in shock. “Are you trying to kill yourself?”

“I’m just giving my muscles a good workout.” she said. “Those girls at the final are going to be ripped, and that means that I’ve got to be as well.” She slapped herself in the head for a minute, as if she forgot something else.

“Will!” she hollered. “You’ve got to remember to wake me up early tomorrow, because I’ve got a television spot!”

“A workout program?” I asked.

“Not yet.” she said. “While I’d love to mix the occult and exercise together, I don’t think they’ll ever let me do it.”

“Another talk show?” I asked.

She nodded.

“Why?”

“I need to get out there and promote some things, Will.” she said. “I need to condemn the practice of plastic surgery for cosmetic purposes and I need to condemn the use of steroids in professional sports, such as bodybuilding.” She stopped for a minute and rose up.

“I also need to promote the notion that the media’s look towards feminism and masculinity needs to be overhauled. We’ve been using the same damn images of beauty for ages now…”

I couldn’t believe it. My wife was ranting! She was actually fucking ranting! As a matter of fact, I was so damned excited that I dropped a fifteen pound dumbbell onto my foot and a surge of great pain began to fill that region. Immediately, I hollered like a small child. I’ll say this again: When you drop a heavy weight on your big toe, you’ll find that all of the testosterone will leave your voice box for a temporary moment and you will holler like a child. Perhaps, like a little girl… but definitely, like a child.

Cleo ran towards my body and lifted me up into her chest. I felt like I was an oversized child. “William, you idiot!” she yelled at me, even though she was quite concerned. “Are you all right?”
“I’ll manage.” I cried, weakly. She carried me over to the plastic bench. “Now, you just sit here. I’m going to get some weights.”

“I don’t think that I’ve got much a choice, Cleo.” I replied.

5

So here I sat, with no ice pack or first aid kit. She just left me to sit here on this bench, in pain. Good thing I was tougher than most men, because most men would’ve died. My poor toe was going to be about the size of my member tomorrow, (or what size I wish it was) and I was going to have to walk the puss-filled thing to work tomorrow. The pain was going to be rather excruciating. I’d have rather been in bed, instead of here in this sweaty old gym. Even though there were fans and air conditioning, I couldn’t help but think that the muscle sweat from all of these people was doing nothing more than wafting around the room, so it began to smell rather rank. Doesn’t someone have a fucking can of Forest Breeze?

6

About fifteen minutes later, my toe had numbed and Cleo had finished her workout.

“Let’s go to the mirror room, Will.” she said. “I’ve got to check on definition and I’ll let you feel my biceps if you want.”

“Well, why not.” I said. “I’ve never felt a woman’s biceps before, so it could be interesting.”

“As a matter of fact, Will… The workout’s been rough…”

“I kind of feel like a good romp in the covers tonight. That is, if you think that you can handle me.”

“You may be a rather strong woman and a rather hard woman, but you’re still a woman, and I know that I can still please you.” I replied.

She laughed. “You also may need to know that I’m going to be a little tighter due to the rigorous amount of exercise.”

“I knew that.” I said. Did she think I was dumb?

“Not where you expect, Will.” she said.

“Oh.” I said, and that was all that I could say; as I watched in an almost sort of wonder, as my wife flexed her muscles into the mirror.

7

About an hour later, we brought the children back from the sitters and sent them to bed, which they were glad to be in since they had played rather hard, I’d assume and school was getting kind of rough for Holly, as she was tired most of the time, anyway.

“The kids are in bed now, Will.” Cleo laughed. “Would you like to see what my new body is capable of?”

Yes it’s true. We hadn’t had sex in a while. Make that, a very long while. I hadn’t seen my wife in ages, and the first week that she did come home, well she was so damned depressed that I didn’t even think about asking the question.

Then, when her vacation time was over, (I didn’t even know she had taken it) she immediately started back to work at about the middle of the week. With the both of us working so hard throughout the day, it was a topic that we were both just too tired to think about.

She usually just threw her clothes into a pile and jumped into bed, so that she wouldn’t have to turn on the light and wake me. I always felt her arms around me at that one point in the night, yet I also noticed that her grip was getting tighter and tighter every night. I just hoped that she wasn’t going to accidentally strangle me.

Tonight however, we both got home at the same time and had plenty of time to fool around like most couples do.

She and I both began to strip our clothes as quickly as we would if they had been covered in flesh eating parasites. While I was gaining a bit of weight, her body looked like a chiseled statue. Her muscles were so well defined that you could see the fibers and while it was a bit odd at first, I also thought that it was a tad bit kinky.

She stood up on the bed and began to flex and pose her body in the black light, which gleamed upon her like some sort of alien sun. It was like I was looking at a goddess.

I grabbed her body and lowered it down towards mine. It was hard and muscular, but felt rather interesting. I inserted myself into her and thrust with the might of a man who hadn’t had a chance to release all of that pent-up sexual energy that he’s had for quite a few days. (Yes, I was even too tired for self pleasure, just in case you wanted to know.)

“I love you, Will.” she said, putting her arms around me. Then she began to moan, scream and holler in long dead languages. She even began yelling out words from languages that I wasn’t even sure existed on this fucking planet!

It was in that moment that I began to wonder what it was that she actually knew, what she actually had studied and what she could actually teach me. After almost seven years of marriage, I think that I’d finally like to know some of the things that she knew. I think that I’d finally like to know more about her and I think that I might possibly take a stab at reading her journal, after all. I mean how many women’s diaries actually get published these days?

“Good night, Will.” she said, with her arms around me. “If anything tries to mess with you tonight, I’ll beat it away with my powerful muscles…”

That was the last thing she said before she fell asleep in my arms and she slept just like she felt… like a rock. It wasn’t that much longer before I realized that I was exhausted, and began to join her. In that instance, we were like two rocks (all right, one marshmallow and one rock) completely tuned out to the entire world.

 

THIRTEEN

Quit Pushing Your Weight Around!

Today marked the deadline for the third issue of my rant mag, The Irate Individual. It had to be completely finished and placed on the Mr. Benisco’s desk by 3:00 sharp.

The book seemed to have just the right amount of anger, the kind that I knew people would be able to understand and fire back at with their own opinions. This was however, a good thing. It was what I wanted, people talking about and discussing issues that they would have no idea existed, if not for me and my anger.

Some of us are told to go to anger management, but I’ve always thought it was better to write down my thoughts and share them with the public. This got me into trouble in middle school, so I quit showing them to people as soon as I got into high school and then I decided to bring them back out in The Daily Jabber, which was the first job I had as soon as I had gotten my journalism degree.

Sure, that went well for a while – but I hated that fucking place and that fucking idiot, Shortstack. Could I even be anymore clear about that? I’m pretty sure that you all get the picture now.

However, this new position offered me a fantastic opportunity to write forty-seven pages of pure, unrefined anger. So that’s what I did. I provided the pictures and confirmed the sources for my rants, not to mention that I worked rather heavily on the cover design yesterday.

It’s extremely difficult to design a good cover for a magazine, especially one that fits the image. Computer programs are fair, but they don’t think quite like me. So I had to draw the thing by hand and then scan and color it with the computer software. It seems to have worked well enough though, and I think that it will fly off the fucking shelves. At least, I hoped it would.

2

The office was as cold as ever, so I turned on the small heater that I kept on my desk, making sure that I didn’t have any papers too close to it or else they’d catch on fire and that would be the end of the prototype pages for my fourth issue. This was one thing I hated about not being able to finalize everything at home. The publisher insisted that all finalization be done in their offices. I suppose this was so they could keep tabs on everyone’s work.

It wasn’t but a minute or so later, that I heard a knock on the door of the editing room.

“Mr. Barker?” The voice asked.

“One minute!” I shouted, getting my final touches together. Finally, I put the thing in a plastic cover and opened the door.

“Here’s the magazine, sir. Yet another fine issue.” I proudly proclaimed.

“All right, you can go home.” The man said. “We’ll call and let you know if we need you back here tomorrow. Great job, Mr. Barker.”

I was taken aback by this comment. “I can go home? But I just got here…”

“That’s the rules of review.” he said. “We don’t need the author in the building while the project is being reviewed. It has led to issues.”

“Sounds like a good thing.” I joked.

“Not issues of a magazine, Mr. Barker.” He was quite serious.

“Well, I guess I’ll see you later then. Call me, if you need me for anything, anything at all!” I exclaimed, happily packing my things in the anticipation of going back to the house and retiring to the bed. Hopefully my wife was still at work, and my children were still at school. But I scarcely doubted it, as it was already well after three o’ clock.

3

I couldn’t tell you damned happy I was on the drive home. I was playing music, singing as loud as I possibly could, and with as much feeling as I could muster. The sappiest love song in the world could’ve come on the radio and it wouldn’t have mattered at this point. I still would’ve sung it. I was so unbelievably happy. My job was done and I could finally go back to bed!

4

I approached the driveway and turned the engine off. I took the key and happily put it back into my wallet. I opened the car door and shut it lightly. The house was quiet and peaceful, and I was glad to see it that way. I opened the door and walked up the stairs to our bedroom. A warm bed lay in wait, and I jumped into it.

Hopefully I’ll have this house to myself for just a few more hours… A few more hours of well needed rest.

5

*Cleo*

I was nervous. No matter how strong and fearsome I looked on the outside, I felt like a nervous little girl waiting for the results of her audition for the school play. I was shaking, if you could believe that. I had to calm myself down, or else I was going to lose my first television spot in several months; ever since I was referred to as, “The Plastic Woman.” I cannot tell you how much I hate this title, and I’m hoping that when I get on the stage this time, that they will have forgotten all about it.

“Cleo!” A voice hollered out. “You’re going on in the next few minutes!” Oh, shit. I thought. I’m not ready for this… I’m going to freak. I’m really going to freak…

I slapped myself in the face. Calm down, I thought. Just calm down and do what you’ve gotta do. It’ll be over before you know it.

The lights began to shine on the studio, and the hanging light that read “ON AIR” now started to glow.

Immediately, a woman that looked alarmingly like the same woman from Blazing Chatter (RIP) appeared onto the stage and started to address the audience. I even remember seeing some of these people on that other show. Apparently, all of the audience members did survive the fire, after all. Fortunately, there was no sign of Drew.

“We’re going to bring out a very special guest today, on The Plush Seat.” The talk show host exclaimed. “Put your hands together and welcome one of this country’s most interesting femme fatales… Miss Cleo Barker!”

(Femme fatales? Really?)

The applause roared as I approached the stage. I waved to all of my fans, who were wearing pro-witchcraft shirts, full on ritual regalia and little witch hats in support. Some of them even seemed to be pro… gay rights? Ah, whatever. It doesn’t matter much to me. They were all here for me, so that’s all I cared about.

I took a seat and it was as soft as they said. Perhaps too soft, actually. I felt like I was going to fall right through it.

“Cleo Barker?” The host asked. “You look much different than when you were on television several months ago. What happened to you?”

“Bodybuilding happened.” I said, flexing my bicep. I started to get hoots and hollers from the crowd.

“Actually, I am here to condemn two cancers to our society.” I said austerely. “I am here to condemn the use of plastic surgery for non-medical purposes and I am here to condemn the use of steroids in sports like professional bodybuilding.” I stated into the microphone.

The host seemed to have an offensive look in her eyes. Was there something she wasn’t telling me? Maybe she didn’t like the idea that I was telling her that she shouldn’t have gotten that face lift, tummy tuck, breast augmentation and silicone lip injection?

“Well, Cleo.” said the host. “It seems that you’ve got quite a platter to fill.”

“I learned long ago, that plastic surgery is not the way to beauty. It’s the way to false hopes and even death, in some cases. But bodybuilding, if done naturally; can open up the world to women.” I smiled and flexed my muscles again. The crowd grew excited, amidst a few jeers. Apparently, some of the women in the audience felt the need to get plastic surgery all on account of me; which I in turn, felt very bad about.

Nevertheless, I continued speaking. “For years, we’ve been taught that we are supposed to have this model image… An image of skinny models, abnormal breast sizes and other things that normal women could never hope to reach. Yet with bodybuilding, strength training, and a proper diet – good health is something that can be reached with just a little effort!”

I continued. “I’m so tired of those muscle heads at the gym, who pop steroids like candy and look like some kind of mutant monsters”

I showed pictures of some of these men to the crowd, who was mostly women. I was not surprised that most of them gagged.

“This is what we should call “too much muscle!” I hollered. “This is bloody unhealthy!” I yelled. “Would you want to be with a man like this? A bloody (bleep) hulk of mutated flesh?”

“Calm down, please.” The host replied.

“I’m sorry.” I said. “I just think that it’s time more women picked up the weights and learned the potential for their bodies. Men shouldn’t always be at the forefront, so that’s why I’m inviting the entire audience to this year’s Lightweight California Final where you’ll get to see me compete with many other women in order to win the championship, and a rather nice cash purse!”

Most of the women in the audience seemed to be interested, so I guessed that it was a rather good idea to hand out some free tickets. Hopefully, I can get them interested in the natural transformation of their bodies through strength training as well. After all, it’s never too early, or too late – for physical fitness.

6

*Will*

“Will!” I heard Cleo yell. “Will, are you home?”

“Damn it.” I muttered under my breath.

I didn’t know she going to be coming home this early. Maybe if I don’t say anything, she’ll just go to the gym or go shopping, or something else that women do. But she didn’t, of course. It wasn’t much longer before I heard her coming up the stairs and opening the door to the bedroom.

“Will!” she hollered at me, still in bed. “Did you even go to work today?”

“Yes.” I muttered from my pillow. “They said I was done and sent me home, so I bloody well went back to bed.”

“Figures.” she said.

“Well, move over.” she said. “I’m tired too.”

I moved over and she laid down next to me. “But before we go to bed dear, do you have the alarm set?”

“Yes, I believe so.” I replied.

“You’d better hope so, Will.” she barked. “I’d like to take the kids to the park after school. It’s been a while since we’ve spent time with our own children, and I’d rather not have them wait at the school too long for someone to pick them up. Amy isn’t going to make it, because she just now went to work. She called me a short while after my television spot.”

“How was that, Cleo?” I asked.

“I’ll tell you later.” she said. “But for now, I’d much like to put my arms around ya.”

“Fine.” I said, still quite tired.

In no time at all, we had both been fast asleep. Once again, completely dead to the world. It was a good feeling.

7

A few hours later, the alarm rang like some sort of annoying siren, and I knew that I couldn’t just hit the snooze button to shut it off.

“Guess… we… have to get… up… Will.” Cleo replied, throwing her arm into the clock in an attempt to shut the blasted thing off.

“Urgh… bloody hell!” she hollered.

“Did you hurt yourself, love?” I asked. “A muscle-bound tank like yourself?”

“I’m still human, Will.” she replied. “I can still feel pain, even if my whole body were made of muscle.” She shrugged it off. “Will, get the hell up.”

“Yeah, I’ll do that in a few more hours.” I replied.

“You’ll do it now.” she said, strongly. “Don’t make me pull you out of there!”

“I’m still a man.” I said. “I can still overpower you, even if you were made of muscle!” I boasted. “You break a nail, and it’s the bloody waterworks with you.”

“Oh? You really believe that?” She paused for a moment. “You cheeky little bastard…”

She jumped on top of me, and we began trying to overpower each other.

“So what do you think now, honey?” Cleo said, pushing against me, as I was also pushing against her, in a show of strength. She clearly carried within her, much more power than I had anticipated.

“Here! Give me just a second!” she hollered, as she put one of her fingers in her mouth and bit down on it. As a matter of fact, she bit her fingernail right off, to my dismay.

“Look at my face, Will! See whether or not I’m crying!” she laughed.

“Not… ugh… a tear… one… in your face, dear…” I replied, struggling.

“You know? I bet I can overpower you with one arm!” she shouted, laughing even harder this time while flexing her right arm and still holding me down with little to no effort. She kissed her bicep. “Man, I love my guns.” she said. “There isn’t a man that can stand in my way…”

“That’s… all… well… and… good… dear… but… Can you please let me go?” I hollered.

“What was that, Will? I can’t hear you over the sound of how bloody awesome and powerful I am!” she shouted, releasing her grip on me.

“I’m going to go into the bathroom now, Will.” she said. “Go ahead and get dressed.”

Fucking finally, I thought. I was happy that she was feeling so positive, but I didn’t like the fact that she was beginning to think she could push me around just because she had the muscles. I didn’t want to be the kind of man who got bullied by his wife. I really didn’t think that any man wanted to be that fellow. Not even that fellow wanted to be that fellow, if that makes any logical sense.

“Hurry up, Will!” she hollered from the bathroom. “I’m just about done brushing my teeth.”

“Will I even have any time to brush my own?” I said to myself, as I was pulling up my pants.

“Have ya seen my damn belt, Cleo?” I hollered into the bathroom.

“If ya put some weight on, you wouldn’t need it to hold up your britches! I’ve got some stuff that will put some weight on you pretty good, if you want to try it!” She suggested.

“No thanks.” I replied.

“Suit yourself.” she said, walking out of the bathroom door.

A couple minutes later, Cleo walked out of the bathroom.

“You think I could brush my teeth first?” I asked.

“You better hurry up, Will. The kids are outside waiting on us and it’s bloody hot.”

“I’ll be quick.” I said, grabbing my toothbrush and applying a dab of toothpaste onto it. Just a dab, because fluoride has been known to cause all sorts of health problems. It can make your bones brittle and make one even more dense, according to studies. I wrote about it in this month’s issue of The Irate Individual, under the heading: “Fluoride: Not The Savior You Thought.”

“I’m going to have to call the school and let them know that we’re going to be late.” Cleo took her cell phone off the dresser and began to punch in a series of numbers.
“It’s the Barkers again, sir.” She spoke into the receiver. “Yes, we’re going to be a little late.”

“Mmmhmm.”

“Mmmhmm.”

“Yeah, I know. It won’t happen again.”

“She did what, now?”

“You’re not bloody serious.”

“Detention? I could’ve sworn I taught her better.”

“Yes. We’ll be right there!”

“All right, good day to you too, sir.” she said, ending the call.

“William!” she hollered. “Hurry up, now! We’ve got to go into the fucking building this time!

“Whatever for?” I asked.

“Your daughter is sitting in detention.”

“At least she’s not in the hot sun.” I laughed.

“It’s not one bit comical, Will! I think we’ve got a little bully living under our roof!”

“I’m sure it’s fine, dear.” I said, straightening my tie. As soon as I walked out of the bathroom, Cleo looked at me like I was some kind of idiot.

“Are we going to the royal ball, Hun?” she asked, laughing.

“If so, you must be the prince.” I laughed.

“I’ll have you know that I’m as much a woman as the next woman.” she replied. “Anymore of that lip and I’ll be forced to smash your head into the passenger side door.”

“Very lady-like.” I replied, with a grimace.

“Can’t help it.” she said. “I’m just a tom-boy with muscles.”

“Does that make me gay, then?” I asked.

“I think not, Will.” she replied. “I’ve got breasts and a vagina, and that counts me as a woman scientifically. None of these were created in a lab, but rather created by the gods; so that means I was born a woman and still am one. No matter how manly I can be. Besides, it’s not like I’m one of your old beer drinking buddies! I can’t even stand the taste of that stuff!” she laughed.

All of a sudden, another thought came into her head as we were walking to the car.

“Did you know that in England a study was conducted resulting in alcohol being the most dangerous drug in the world, even more dangerous than weed, coke and heroin?”

“…and meth too?” I asked.

“Yeah, surprisingly. I just don’t know how anyone can take that stuff. It makes you look like a skeleton and as for me – I prefer being well filled out with muscle.” She flexed her bicep again.

“You know you’re getting like Uber Holly, dear.” I replied.

“Ugh!” She sighed. You don’t know what it’s like, baby. Once you start building, you just have the urge to flex. It’s like innate human nature. You know, women and men aren’t too much different in the first place. Every fetus starts out female, and the sperm decides whether or not it will be male. So the urge to get stronger exists in both sexes, they just never really realize it until they start getting definition. Plus, muscle is the antithesis of fat and…”

“Antithesis… You sure you know what that word means, Cleo?”

“Of course I know what it means, Will!” she hollered. “You think I’m a muscle-bound idiot?”

“Of course not, dear.” I replied. “I just don’t want you throwing around words with more than three syllables. You might offend someone.”

“Look, now.” she said, sternly. “I’m not going to take this from you. I had to read an awful lot of intelligent words when I was young from several old magic books, most of them written centuries before you were even born, and I’ll be damned if you’ll tell me how I should speak, William.”

“Come on now, love.” I replied. “You can’t take a joke?”

“That punch-line felt like a dagger.” she said. “I’m not invincible. I’m still the same Cleo on the inside. You know, ever since we’ve last had sex and now that I’m all pumped up, you’ve begun to think that I was some sort of an invincible machine and completely brainless to boot.” she said, her head held low. “It is true that you make me feel invincible during those times when I can look at your body beneath mine, and truly feel empowered. But I’m not stupid, either. Just because my muscles got bigger, doesn’t mean that my brain has shrunk.”

“Wow.” I said. “So it’s really like that then, is it?”

“Yeah.” She nodded. “I love you. I just like to show my love through domination. I’ve always been that way.”

“…And I’ve never once minded it.” I said. “I’ve never abused you and you’ve never abused me and as far as that goes, I’m fine with it. Of course I can’t wrestle with you anymore, because you might accidentally go and break my neck. Didn’t know your own strength, you’d say. Juices got flowing and you turned into a madwoman… then they frame you for murder, an act punishable by…”

“That’s enough, dear. We’re at the school.” she said, as I was just about to have my wife face a cold and angry judge. A rather irate man, who cared much about justice and only saw injustice! There was so much miserable injustice in the world, but only he could see it! Too bad he wasn’t real, though.

8

She took the keys out of the ignition and put them into her purse. “Damn.” she said. “I don’t really feel like going anywhere today. But I know I should be at the gym, because I’ve got that lightweight final coming up and…”

I put my hand on her shoulder. “Calm down. Don’t work yourself up all over this. I thought you were training for the lightweight final, not the heavyweight final.”

“Heavyweight’s my goal, babe.” she said, taking my hand and kissing it. “You think you would want to help me get there?”

“Well, I don’t know, love.” I said. “Does it involve a dumbbell falling on my foot?”

“Not this time, I hope.” she laughed, as we walked together hand in hand into the building.

“Goddamn. This place brings back memories.” I said, opening the door to the regalia that decorated the inside of the entrance. Indeed, the same sort of football influenced theme was set up here, amidst a large glass shelving filled to the the brim with various trophies. But most of them were for football. A sport that I’ll probably never play again in my life.

“William, watch your mouth.” Cleo replied. “If the school finds out that your foulness jumped over to our daughter, we’re really going to be up the creek. I’d like to think I’m a good mother, and I don’t allow my children to speak those words until they’re old enough.” Her grip on my hand became that much tighter.

“Don’t you make me look like an idiot, Will… It might be hazardous to your health.” she said, bluntly.

FOURTEEN

Hostages, Assassins,

And Lots Of Sunshine!

When Cleo opened the door to the principal’s office, we both found something that we did not expect.

But before I get into that, I had better explain something. First of all, the building was very dim. Second of all, we got the call at 6:00. I didn’t want to tell Cleo, but I just remembered that I had set the clock to wake me up at six, and completely forgot. I was also very curious as to why the building was open at this hour. (It was nearly eight, by the time that we got here.)

All right, I’m beating around the bush now and I realize that. It’s just a little hard to have to see what we were both about to see…

2

Both of our children were gagged and bound to chairs inside of the principal’s office. They both had guns against their heads and those weapons were being held by two burly looking fellows. Of course, they greatly underestimated these children. Upon seeing her mother, Holly went into a frenzy. One of the men lost control of his gun, as she knocked it out of his hand with her frantic shaking.

“Shit!” he hollered. “Somebody calm this fucking kid down!”

Cleo ran into him and gave him a nice hard wallop with her fist. She lifted him up with no problems despite his size, and began shouting at him, the spit particles flying in his face.

“Cleo!” I hollered. “Yelling at the man is not going to solve anything!”

“What, Will?” she hollered back, as if I’d rudely interrupted her.

“There’s a gun at your back!” I hollered.

“They’re touting blanks!” she hollered back, throwing the man against the wall.

“How do you know…?” I asked.

“I just have an odd feeling about it!” She retorted.

“Please…” He moaned. “I’m only here because I was told to be. This was my selected job today.”

“Do what?” she asked. “Your “selected job” was to load guns with blanks, force a principal to tell us that our daughter was in detention, which means our son would have to follow her here… and all so that you could tie them both up and scare the bloody piss out of them?”

Not a word was spoken from either of the men.

“Not talking, eh?” Cleo spoke in a forceful manner. “You guys have some fucking nerve, you know?”

Still, the two men remained silent.

“You know, dear…They’re awfully chatty. These men haven’t shut up since we got here. ”

“This is no time for jokes, Will.” she said, untying Holly. Now it was time to attempt to remove the tape from her mouth. This wasn’t going to be pretty.

“All right, young lady – I’m going to need you to be brave, because this might hurt a little. Can you do that for mommy?”

The girl nodded. Cleo ripped the tape and hopefully not also the hide from Holly’s mouth, in the manner of a mad-woman who didn’t know her own strength.

“Whoops.” she said. “You’re not hurt, are you?”

The girl covered her mouth with her hand, but gave her a thumbs up anyway. I walked over to check the two men that held out children hostage. It was just as I thought.

“Cleo.” I said with a new found calmness. “You know where we could hide two bodies?”

“What?” Cleo said, shocked.

“They’re no longer in this world. Cyanide caplets, both of them.” I replied soberly, opening one of the men’s mouths to find that it was now filled with foam.

“By the dark mother… You’re not serious… They were human beings, Will!”

“Apparently not to them, they’re not.” I sighed.

“To who, Will?” she asked, even though she was fully aware of the answer. “You don’t really mean…”

She ran into my arms like she had never done before, sobbing hysterically and holding me tight enough that I swear my breathing had almost stopped.

“What are we gonna do, Will? What in the hell are we going to do now? They’ll keep sending people out until they have us both back in their clutches!”

“Nonsense, dear.” I assured her. “We’ll fight back. We’ll let it be known that our children were held hostage and those bastards even forced the school’s staff to cooperate in their evil schemes!”

“They’re probably still offering divinity.” she said, wiping the tears from her eyes. “You know how no one can resist that stuff… What was it called again? BH2? That’s right. Probably got a whole stock of it, in some lab near here.”

A cloud of fear passed over me for a moment. Inside that cloud of fear were images of the past, those bloodstained images that I had tried to lock up in the safe of my mind, and as far as I knew; that safe was locked tight.

First it was the email; but that was no big deal, really. It could’ve just been some idiot kid or some hacker that found the files of our past on the net.

But now, it’s gone beyond what some kid or basement-ridden hacker could’ve done. Only a secret organization could’ve done something like this. Also the fact that the man said, “the job that we were selected to do” really got me thinking. Not to mention the fact that these men offed themselves, just like bloody assassins.

2

“Can you load them up in the trunk, Cleo?” I asked. “You’re bigger than I am.”

She sighed. “Yeah, I guess.” she said, as she freed Michael. I could only assume that the hide on his lips had remained unscathed, as I figured that the boy was tough, just like his father.

Perhaps one day, the children will have their lips again.

“Come on, kids. Follow your father out to the car.” I said. “Mommy has to take care of some things in there.”

They both followed without question. The poor things were shaking like leaves and I truly felt bad for them. I assumed some ice cream was in order, but Cleo might disapprove… but in this case, to hell with her approval! It’s not like they need to start eating healthy now, right? Plus it might be the best thing right now for their lip-less mouths, as my wife really may have ripped them right off by accident. I wasn’t joking.

A few minutes later, I heard two loud thumps as the dead bodies were being lowered into the trunk. A few seconds after that, I heard the trunk door slam. Not even a struggle. It should frighten me that she can load two bodies into a trunk by herself with no trouble, but I didn’t even seem to be worried about it.

Cleo walked over to the passenger side door and opened it.

“You’re driving this time.” she said, handing me the keys from her purse.

“All right! To the ice cream parlor!” I shouted, raising my hand in the air as if I were a warrior emblazoning a sword.

Cleo was a little shocked by this decision, and began to speak up in a rather authoritative manner. “I understand why you think the children may need to be rewarded…”

“For surviving death!” I interrupted.

“…for surviving death, but we seem to have two dead men in the back of our trunk.”

She threw this javelin of truth at me, and it hit hard.

“What are you worried about, Hun? We didn’t kill em.” I laughed.

“My prints are on them, Will! If we don’t get rid of them soon, they’ll smell.” she replied, making a valid point that I didn’t want to hear at the moment, even though it was completely true.

“Fine.” I said. “Where should we dump them? This is LA, not bloody Okeenuk. There’s not necessarily a lot of woods here.”

“I know a place, Will!” She sparked up. “Just go down this street.”

“But that’s the alleyway.” I said. “You mean you just want to throw them into the alleyway?”

“That’s the plan. Then the cops can do with them what they want.” She seemed to have a good feeling about this. I on the other hand, didn’t want to be caught dead in any of this blasted city’s alleyways, especially at night. Not even if my wife was a female bodybuilder. She may have muscles, but not a bulletproof vest.

“All right.” I said. “But let’s be quick. There’s nothing but deviants out here.”

“I bloody well know that.” she said.

“I’m glad you do.” I sighed.

3

It wasn’t really a place that I was keen to drive my children to, but we went into the downtown area of LA, complete with it’s bums, coke-heads, alcoholics and dirty alleyways. Most of these intertwined with each other in a veritable cesspool of depravity. Most people tended to stray from these areas, but we were in fact going right into them, complete with two dead bodies in tow. (Which we didn’t actually kill – remember that.)

“We’re here.” I said, regrettably. “Hurry up and get them out of this car! I’d like to get the hell out of this hovel as soon as bloody freaking possible.”

“All right, I’ll hurry.” she replied, almost with a scowl.

Cleo took the bodies out of the trunk and dumped them both into a large dumpster in the back alley of some restaurant, which I would also never be caught dead in. She then walked back to the car and brushed her hands against each other.

“Well… That’s that, honey.” she said both relieved and paranoid.

“That’s good to know.” I stated, my foot pressed firmly on the gas. I was even ready to leave her there if it came to some deviants attempting to harm me or my children. That’s what being a good father was, I supposed. Cleo wouldn’t have liked it much, but it was her idea to go here in the first place.

“All right. Let’s get the hell out of this rancid place.” Cleo said, locking the door tightly.

“I don’t think the gangs have arrived quite yet.” I said.

“The restaurant owner will probably just think that those men were casualties of a drug deal gone bad, or some sort of gang war. Goes on all the time around here, I’m sure.”

“Yeah, or he’ll probably chop them up and they’ll be burger meat.” I replied.

“William! Those were human beings!” Cleo screeched.

“Not anymore they’re not.” I said, turning into another lane. “Now they’re nothing more than steaks and patties.”

“Wha… So you don’t think that they have souls?” She asked in utter shock at my response.

“Well, I don’t know what I believe anymore.” I said. “I hope that the hell thing was really a ploy by the Catholic Church, because I don’t feel that those fellows need to burn for doing something that they were enslaved to do. That’s the problem I’ve had with religion, love. It just doesn’t add up morally.”

“Hey, jackass! Get on your side of the road!” I hollered at some guy who was swerving about the road like he was in some kind of bumper car. It was probably some drunken oaf about the wheel, as is standard fare in this godforsaken city.

“It’s like this.” I resumed. “Have you looked at history before Christianity? There have been men and women who lived perfectly moral lives without the use of a big black book that’s frankly too long and too boring to bloody read. I have no concern as to what Matthew, Mark, Luke, John and Jehoshaphat had to say in regards of how to act.” I finished, stating my case as fully as I understood it.

“Well, I’m Pagan… So I don’t care if you read the Bible or not.” Cleo replied.

“You’re not much better, you know. Pagans have no morals. It’s just kill and fuck – the things that revert us back to caveman era devolution.” I replied.

“That’s not true at all, Will!” she hollered. “Have you even studied my faith?”

“Of course, dear.” I replied. “You and I both know that your goddess Lilith prefers bloodletting. How many small animals have you sacrificed to her in wisdom?”

“That’s the old ways, you idiot!” she hollered even louder this time. “It’s now incense and herbs that are burned as offerings!”

“How convenient.” I replied. “After Christianity came forth and muddled the concepts of true Paganism with their own morals, creating Wicca…”

“Take that back!” Cleo screamed and threw her arms up in the air.

“Look, Cleo.” I said, trying to resume the peace. “I don’t care what you believe in. All that matters to me, is that you have something to live for. Some sort of final reward.”
“Well, what about you?” Cleo asked me, her voice calming.

“I’m about to the decision that there’s more out there in the world than can be found on this planet. I’m looking for the truth.”

She laughed. “You’ll never find it, love.”

Probably not. But what I will find is peace and for me, that’s good enough. I’ve seen it, I’ve experienced it, and I wish that I could be ejected from this hovel of a world and finally move on to a realm where I can rest. Through all of this pain and hassle, I’ve found that there’s only one thing I can say for sure that I truly want out of life… Death.

4

When we finally all got back home, we were beyond tired. The children went right to sleep and we assumed that they slept in their clothes, or just threw them on the ground and turned the fan on high. I’m just waiting for the day when Michael comes in and complains that Holly’s turned the fan up to bloody freezing and he can’t sleep.

That woman must want to live in an igloo. I can surely send her that way if that’s what she wishes. It’s better than dealing with these fake detentions/actual kidnapping deals, where the guys bite down on cyanide caplets and kill themselves before you can even get a reason out of them. I’ve already had enough of that shit, frankly.

I sat up for a while longer and watched… hell, I don’t know what it was. Some late night talk show. Bogart Jamiro (a rather well known basketball player) was on there talking about the future of basketball. They already have a hoop that flies around now, so what else do they need?

“Will, I’m about to crash here on the couch.” she said, eyes as heavy as the weights that she lifts.

“I don’t think I can make it another five minutes. Come on, let’s go to bed. There’s nothing good on the telly anyway, right love?”

“Yeah. I guess you’re right.” I said, turning off the television.

“There’s a good boy.” she said. “Don’t think about any sex tonight… I’m actually going to use the old wives’ excuse this time and say that I’m too tired. Of course it’s not an excuse, because I’m bloody beat. I’ve got to train for the competition next week though and I might need an orgasm or two to get a good cool down after my workout.” she said, almost in a mumble.

“Won’t you be all sweaty?” I asked.

“I’m gonna shower, Will.” she replied.

“Won’t that beat the purpose entirely?” I asked again, wondering how she would need a cool down after a shower.”

“I lift in the shower sometimes, water weight and all.”

“Won’t you sweat in the shower?” I asked wondering how in the world someone can actually exercise and clean themselves at the same time.

“The water should wash the sweat right off me, or the soap. Purpose of a shower was to get clean, last time I checked. But being a bodybuilder, I thought that it might be good to use that water weight as an advantage.”

“Won’t you slip?” I thought I was stating the obvious now.

“Haven’t yet!” she laughed, even though she was getting groggier and it almost sounded like she was drunk. “I’ve got to keep a good footing. Leg strength helps, you know.”

“You know, dear? We forgot all about the ice cream parlor.” I replied.

“If I want to fill my children with bloody sugar, I’ll pour a bag of it into a cup and tell them to bloody drink it. It’s the same damned thing as eating those high priced dessert things. You know what I have for dessert? A chocolate grain bar. Always liked the taste of chocolate, even when you almost poisoned me those years ago with that damned breakfast you made me.”

“That bad, huh?” I asked.

“Enough chocolate to choke a bull elephant.” she replied.

“Now, enough of this.” she yawned. “I’m… going… to… bed…”

Now it’s nights like these, that make me glad to be married. It’s nights like these where she just throws everything off and jumps in the bed.

Did we have sex that night? Of course not! We laid together in the beginning holding our naked bodies, but then it got too damned hot and we wound up fully tired, lying back to back. Weird how that happens. It’s like there’s some sort of “Baby Prevention Fairy” that comes by in the middle of the night, to make sure I’m not facing the wrong way in the case that I should have a dream which would give me some sort of erection and possibly more, which could accidentally impregnate my wife and give us another child; which I would have to name 3, because I’ve already run out of good names for the things.

Hey, you never know. It might catch on. Then one of these movie stars names his child 310 and another 540. Then you’d start having rockers with names like 666 and all sorts of other bloody nonsense.

Hmm… I wonder if it is legal to add a few numbers to my name. William 834-5 would make me sound like some sort of robot. That would be interesting just in itself, I imagine. Or maybe not. Perhaps I should just continue on with things the way they are.

Tomorrow I may not see my wife at all, because she’ll be spending all day at the gym pumping iron in order to win the title at her competition. It’s different, sure – but she’s my wife and I love her. It’s actually sort of kinky and fun… especially after they shower. Uber Holly never did shower (and never could actually – post apocalyptic wastelands seldom have running water) and that’s why I was so horrified by her – but yet here is my wife; trying to become just like her, in some odd irony that I can’t even bring myself to understand. But I still found it all kind of sexy somehow.

Perhaps power is beautiful, after all.

FIFTEEN

The 2024 California

Lightweight Final

The next week made me feel like I was going through the ringer. I literally felt like I had been washed and dried about a thousand times. Not only was I being hard pressed to write the fourth issue of The Irate Individual; but I also had to go out to the gym and help Cleo with her weights after work. She even began to train me a little bit. I didn’t know exactly how much my wife actually knew about fitness, but I’ll say that she definitively knew enough to be a personal trainer.

“Will, you’re holding that wrong!” she hollered, day in and day out. I also heard the “That’s not ten reps!” and “How are you going to gain any muscle if you’re not lifting it all the way?”

“I love you Cleo, but you’re starting to feel like a drill sergeant!” was what I wanted to tell her. But I kept my mouth closed. She was really adamant about all of this, so I just let the week go by.

“It will all be over soon.” I had to keep telling myself. “Just a few more days until the competition.”

2

The day of the competition finally arrived. It took place on a blazing hot California Saturday of all days, and I was left sitting with my children in the blazing hot sand, while Cleo did whatever it was that female bodybuilders did before they posed.

I’d never seen Cleo pose before, because she had always been too nervous to do her poses in front of me, but she was going to have no choice this time. Perhaps she thought that I’d laugh.

Of course, she should know full well that I’ve got more respect than that, especially in a sanctioned sport like bodybuilding; which has a nice cash prize. I didn’t say that out loud, did I?

*Cleo*

Damn. It’s bloody hot out here on the beach. I was quite used to the gym’s air conditioning, but the gods appeared to have forgotten to install an air conditioner on the beach and some idiot forgot to plug up a fan out here. Now there’s twenty women trying to apply their oil and do their last minute exercises out in this fucking inferno. I blame global warming.

Despite the heat, I’ve been lucky enough to have some friends help me with some last minute touches. A lot of times the girls got together to help each other out before shows, as we still had something called, “good sportsmanship.” At least some of us did, anyhow.

So I saw a slightly thinner girl and figured I’d help her out a little; since I supposed that she hadn’t had a chance to go to the gym as much as I did.

“You’re looking a little slim there.” I said to her. She was much younger than I was, probably just a little over eighteen.

“I think it’s my metabolism.” she replied. “I always have the worst time building muscle.”

“What are you eating?” I asked.

“The red meats, eggs, some fish and chicken… never fried, of course. I did have a pizza a few days ago though.”

“You’re going to pay for that, you know.” I replied. “You know how long it takes your body to work that off?”

“Don’t tell me.” she asked.

“Don’t worry, I won’t.” I laughed.

“You think you’re muscles are warmed up enough yet? I asked her, after setting down the dumbbells…”I don’t want you to get a cramp, or pull anything.”

“I think I’ll be all right. I was a little nervous…” she said, shaking. “I thought that I was going to be the runt, because of all these other girls… they’re so much bigger than me… and you… but you actually came to me.”

“The goddess helps one of her own, love.” I replied.

“You’re Wiccan then?” she asked.

“Well… not really. I kind of make my own path with Lilith, stone by stone.” I replied.

“You serve the dark mother?” she asked, a little frightened.

“Aye.” I replied. “She’s not as dark as you’d think and she’s quite wise. Like an elder who’s watching over you.”

“That sounds good to know.” she said. “I’m not really sure what to believe. My father’s got his old Norse Gods, but they don’t ever help me.”

“You can say the same for my poor old husband, but he’ll come around eventually.” I laughed.

“You’re married?” she asked, picking up the dumbbells and doing some more bicep curls.”

“Hey, don’t hurt yourself.” I said.

“Gotta work through the pain. You know how it is, “No pain, no gain.” she replied, grunting.

“That statement has caused more pulled muscles too, you know.” I cautioned her.

“I’ve been married for well… too long now I’m afraid, and I’ve got two wonderful children from the ignorant man that I married. But he respects my choices, and he’s here to watch me pose today.”

“Aren’t you scared that he’s in the audience?” she asked.

“Of course not.” I replied, deciding that maybe I should pick up that other dumbbell. I think that one of these girls is either a quick grower, or on steroids.

“I mean, I was… but I got that all sorted out now.” I said, grunting.

“Hey, I know there’s a lot of noise in here… so I don’t think she’ll hear us, but…”

“Shh!” I hushed her. “You can get in big trouble if your claim is found incorrect.” I whispered to her, regarding the woman who could potentially be on steroids.

“This is a drug free competition.” She whispered back.

“I know, but some people have no regard for…”

Thanks Will, for throwing this word into my head now. To think, I was once an immoral pagan. (I use that statement in the most sarcastic of ways.)

“…for morals.”

“Does the goddess teach morals?” The girl asked.

“If she didn’t, I’d still be some plastic woman with enough plastic surgery to make me look like a Hollywood doll, and I’d still have breasts the size of your head.”

“That was you?” The girl asked, having seen my show. “You’re Cleo Barker?”

I nodded. “I decided to get all of that fake stuff removed and I built up my body the natural way. (I couldn’t tell her what really happened, but at least part of this was true.) After a few days, I began to enjoy the muscles so much, that I felt a devotion to bodybuilding.” I confessed.

“I know what you mean, Cleo.” she said. “Even if I don’t win this competition due to that steroids chick…”

“Shh! Not so loud, Hun!” I said. “I don’t think she heard you though.”

“Whoops! But you know what I mean.” she resumed silently. “I’ll never give up until I’m Miss Titania.”

“That’s the spirit, sister.” I said.

All of a sudden, the girl who was benching more than the rest of all the women there, (the one who had to have been cheating, or was just really genetically lucky) walked over towards us. She must’ve overheard our conversation. If it even was a she. Could’ve been a man in drag, with muscles like that. This is the lightweight final, not the heavyweight final.

“You! Miss Titania?” The titanic girl asked jokingly, in the face of the thinner girl that I had been consoling. “I thought you had to have muscles first!” she boomed, as rudely as possible.

“Now, that’s not right, Miss…”

“Groden… Miss Katheline Groden.” Spit flew out of her mouth as she said it, her manly voice now almost completely revealing her secret that she had used illegal hormones… or that she was a man.

“German, right?” I asked.

“Ov course German!” she said in her fake German accent. “I’m here to impress Garbold! Swiss and Germans make fine chocolates, yes?”

I thought I was going to be sick.

“Vell, I guess I vill see you on stage… So dat you can see me vin da title and all your efforts vill be in vain! Dey don’t take girly girls in dis competition. Dey only take muscle vomen! You vould be vise to remember dat next time… Hohoho!” she said, as she stormed off to berate another woman who had been lifting weights alone and wasn’t really bothering anyone.

I know that I’m not supposed to use my powers in a public area like this, but that woman was cheating and she was rubbing her physique right in the faces of all the other women in the competition. There was that, and her fake ass German accent. So in my best learned LA accent I would have to say, “That’ll make me wanna cut a bitch!”

A few minutes later, we got the call for all women to enter behind the stage, and the moment of truth had finally arrived. I trained so hard for this moment, and it was finally my time to shine. Even if I don’t win the purse, I’m still going to go out there and give it my best. That’s all I can do and that’s all Lilith would want me to do.

3

In no time at all, we were all brought onto the stage. Typical fitness music played over the loud speaker and even though it was hot, we had to pose and smile. Eventually, we were allowed to rest as a voice came from another speaker in the room. It was coming from a man who was directly across from the rest of us. He was the renowned spectator, Gilbert Hutting. Gilbert had commentated in every major female bodybuilding competition since the mid 80’s and even helped some of the big names to get known, like Stacy Elveres and Gladys Cortson.

“Ladies and gentlemen… These are your 2024 California Lightweight Final contestants!” he hollered from the microphone.

The crowd went wild, but I couldn’t see Will. I hoped that he didn’t take Holly out to get a hot dog. She didn’t need one. How many bowls of cereal was it today, four?

Ugh… Got to focus… Keep your mind on the competition, Cleo. Just keep your mind on the bloody competition!

“Will the judges please rise and state their names?” Hollered Gilbert from the microphone. Immediately the judges began to call off.

“I am Wade Triff, star of the daytime drama No More To Give.

The crowd cheered and women made all sorts of noises. One even hollered loudly, “I love you, Wade!”

“Thank you for that.” he said. “I would appreciate it even more if you’d watch my new cop drama, Mean Blue; coming soon to your local television station.”

“All right everyone, let’s hear it for Wade!”

The crowd cheered one more time, but I didn’t care for that guy anyway.

I was beginning to get hot standing here with the other women on the stage, which just happened to have been placed directly under the hot sun. I really should have worked together some energy for a cool wind before I got to the plaza where the competition was taking place. It wouldn’t have taken that long and would’ve been worth it… But I digress.

“I am Gloria Flowers.” Announced another judge. “I host a little daytime talk show. You might have seen it… Let me hear you all say, Gloria!”

The crowd began to rhythmically chant Gloria, as if she was some sort of Goddess, that they were to appease. Meanwhile, I was still burning up. Oil and sun does not mix. At this rate, I’ll have to be checked for skin cancer.

“I am Garbold Schwiessenheimer.” Spoke a muscled older man. This was the Garbold, the man that all the men wanted to be and all the women wanted to fuck, basically. Even though he was about…What? Well, I want to say he’s close to 60 years old now, but he’s been bodybuilding ever since he was young. Supposedly he doesn’t believe in the use of growth hormones, but it’s hard to tell.

Men bulk up so well and I envy them. But that doesn’t mean that I’m going to start using hormones myself. Ick! If I wanted to be a man, I’d have a fucking sex change. I’m clearly just fine with being a powerful woman, thank you.

“And last, but not least, Ladies and gentlemen… He’s already a star in professional soccer in Europe… Please welcome the one, the only… Glenn Knotton!”

I was sure that William was shocked. I hadn’t expected it either. We always thought he’d go far, spending every minute of the day training to become better and better, and it would seem that all of that training definitely paid off for him.

A much older and slightly built man then what we remembered from high school, stood up from the judges table and then sat down.

“It’s futbol in Europe.” he said, smiling. Then all of a sudden, a glimmer fell into his eye. He looked at the girls standing there and caught a glimpse of one that he knew. It was me.

“Mother Mary! I don’t believe it!” he hollered. “Cleo? Is that Cleo De Lomboa from my old high school?”

I waved and smiled at him. I thought it was a rather awkward moment. Had he a crush on me? Too little, too late now; I suppose.

“Sir, we ask that you do not speak to the contestants!” Gilbert scolded him.

“Oh, I’m sorry.” he said, back in his professional voice.

All of the sudden, the judges were discussing this arisen issue.

“The judges have come to a conclusion. Being that a popularity bias could be set against one “Cleo Barker…”

“She’s a Barker, now?” he asked in amazement.

Either one “Glenn Knotton” or one “Cleo Barker” will be asked to leave the competition immediately.”

Gilbert paused for a minute.

“Please decide.” The announcer spoke into the microphone.

“I’ll concede.” Glenn replied. “This must mean too much to Cleo, and for her sake I will leave; so that she can compete.”

“Are you sure?” Gilbert asked as he came walking down into the judge’s table. “Once you leave, you can’t choose to re-enter, and you came an awful long way you know…”

“I know.” he said. “But I want her to be happy.”

With that, he dropped the mic and walked into the audience. I was so glad that he cared enough to let me compete, even though it was now apparent that I was (somewhat) happily married.

“All right.” Gilbert bellowed back into the loudspeaker. “Without further ado, let’s begin the competition!”

4

The competition was hard and fierce, with each girl trying to vie for the top spot using all of her best assets. Millie Mccourdy had fantastic arms and the judges definitely seemed to notice that feature, as their pens seemed to be flying onto score sheets that were at one time, laid down blank before them. Renee Ankleberg had legs that showed an incredible, almost inhuman type of definition. If I wanted legs like that, I’d have ended up crushing myself in the process.

Finally Kelly Griffon, the young girl that I talked to earlier (I wondered if there was any relation to William’s old friend?) came out showing off the best of what little she had. While she was smaller than the other girls, the oil helped to show that she had trained her body for definition, rather than size. Apparently, she had simply over trained one area and completely forgot to train the other. It also could’ve just been her metabolism.

Regardless, I think that she did just fine and noticed her problems well enough that she should do better next time. Actually, I’m pretty sure that she will.

Then I came out. William cheered his ass off, which was welcome, but slightly uncalled for. I wanted to holler, “Simmer down, honey! You’re going to start a bloody good riot!” but all that happened was my smile quickly turning into a look of rage.

Perhaps it worked for me though, and my abs might have done the trick too. My abs have always been my best part, and they would win over any judge… Of that, I was sure.

The last girl to come out was the over bulked, Katheline Groden. She came out obnoxiously over flexing, over posing, over everything… She was about as arrogant as a man out there! I couldn’t believe it. Then she had the nerve to walk into the room with the rest of us, and in the rudest way that she could boast, she grunted, “Game over…You all vill lose.” Someone needs to stop the hormones flowing into her body, for I think they are making her (or him) insane.

A few minutes after that ordeal, I shook hands backstage with all of the other girls (Katheline’s almost crushed me) as the announcer began to speak through the microphone.

“Now to tally the results of the judging…”

“That’s 10…20…35…4 over here…Is this thing on?” he shouted, embarrassed.

“You idiot!” Garbold hollered over his microphone. “Can you not count?”

“Yes, yes, I can count just fine… Just getting old, I suppose.” he hollered over the loudspeaker, completely embarrassed.

“All right… The winner of the 2024 California Lightweight Bodybuilding Finals is…”

There was a long dramatic pause… I always hated these. I was almost certain that there was no way that I was going to win, I mean I was going up against “Miss Roid Rage” over there…

“Did I read this right? Yes, there’s no mistaking it…”

“Get on with it already!” Garbold hollered. “I’ve got a cheese tasting in Bergensturm!”

“The winner is… Miss Cleo Barker! Congratulations, come out here and claim your purse!”

“Vat! Vat! Vat!” Katheline hollered. “Vat the vuck is dis! I am a true vodyvuilder!”

I thought I was dreaming. I almost went into shock, but Miss Griffon helped me to stay conscious.

“Cleo!” She whispered in my ear. “You Won!”

Things didn’t really register into my head, until the words “you” and “won” actually reached my brain via Kelly’s lips.

Immediately, I jumped damn near out of my body at that point and ran out onto the stage. William was still cheering like a maniac. What’s gotten into that silly man? This has got to stop. I motioned for a microphone.

“I think she says she wants a microphone.” Gilbert said lightly to the audience.

“Yes. I do, Gilbert – Thank you.” I said nicely, but still loudly into the microphone. “This is to my husband. I know that you’re excited and I am too… But this is not a music concert, so please calm down. Thank you.” I handed back Gilbert’s mike.

William began to feel a tad bit embarrassed. My daughter smiled (her mouth still full of hot dog) and shouted, “Daddy got told! Daddy got told!”

Where did she even learn that phrase from? The streets? Who does she think she is? Six going on sixteen? I think I’ve really got to do something about the boorishness of my daughter. She’s becoming a spoiled bloody brat.

Thank goodness that Michael was silent, steadily licking on his ice cream cone, as young boys are wont to do. I wonder who’s genes went into him? It sure wasn’t mine or Will’s, that’s for sure. Perhaps the boy shares his soul with an elder spirit. Doubtful, but one could hope.

5

They brought out a golden crown and a very cheap sash. The crown was expensive, but I could’ve bought the sash at a dollar store somewhere. Then a rather dashing fellow brought out the purse. It was a bag full of money. How much money exactly?

Oh… about 15,000 dollars. The whole family was going out to eat and it was going to be at the best restaurant in all of Los Angeles. Well they were, until…

“Give me dat purse! It is mine!” Katheline screamed. “My muscles aren’t vig enough for you?” she hollered, over flexing. “Dat’s it then!” she boomed, taking out a small bottle. “I simply need more of da vunderdrug… VH2!”

Did she just say, what I think she did? Oh fuck…

“Urgghh!” Katheline bellowed, as muscles shot out from her in inhuman ways, in grotesque and absolutely disgusting fashions. You could barely even see her head anymore.

“Everyone, get out of here!” Gilbert screamed into the microphone.

“Will!” I hollered from the stage. “Take the kids and run!”

Though upon looking for him, I didn’t see him there anymore – so I guessed that he already got the idea.

She looked just like “Uber Holly” now. Almost a complete replica, except for that fake German accent which was grating on me.

“You don’t deserve to vin!” The monster hollered. “I am da vinner! I have da muscles!”

“You don’t have shit!” I shouted back, in my best LA. “You’re nothing more than a monster that cheats with experimental drugs!”

I placed my crown gently onto the ground, because I didn’t want it to break. I’d earned it, after all.

I just didn’t plan on battling a monster today. Not after all this work on the stage, but life brings us those little surprises; whether we want them or not.

6

“Do you vink you can stop me? Puny girl!” The monster challenged. “I can pick up dis whole stage and svat you like a fly!”

“Hopefully, I don’t get too hot for you then!” I hollered, feeling the fire burning through my veins, until I had become completely engulfed in it.

“So, do you vanna veel the vires ov hell?” I shouted in my worst German accent, in order to spite her.

“Dey told me that Hell is a lie! Hohoho!” The monster laughed.

“Maybe that’s true, but you’re going to feel the burn today!” I yelled, like a Valkyrie charging headfirst into the monster’s stomach. It felt like hitting a brick wall and even though I tried to pierce through the skin, it was far too strong. This thing might as well have been made from metal.

I tried again and again to pierce through the beast’s fleshy armor, but I felt like a bothersome mosquito and nothing more. A physical display of bravado was not going to work here. I was going to have to use my noggin on this one.

Suddenly, a hand reached out from behind me and pulled me into the face of the creature. Her head was there, but it looked like it was almost being suffocated in muscle.

“You shouldn’t have done that.” I said and spit into her eyes, my now flaming saliva.

She screamed in agony, as the fire tore through her eye sockets. The beast was now blind and became furious, throwing me into the air, where I went right through a man’s apartment.

I quickly apologized and told him that I would pay for the damages tomorrow. As to which he replied in the friendliest of LA accents, “What in the hell am I supposed to do if it rains?”

“That’s simple.” I said. “Put on a raincoat!”

7

The battle continued to escalate as the giant (and now even bigger and more grotesque than Uber Holly ever thought about being) Uber Katheline began to rampage through the city like something out of those old monster movies that Will used to watch, where the dubbing never quite matched the mouth movements of the actors. (I never really understood those things.)

“Stop!” I hollered, throwing a fireball at the monster’s back. She literally roared as she fell, and ended what were probably the rather boring lives of a bunch of people in an office building, as it was torn in half and immediately toppled to the ground. The now panicked people of LA ran screaming from their automobiles. I knew that I had to do something fast, because I was quite sure that this was going to be all over the news.

It was then that I had noticed something that I hadn’t seen before. There was a horrible scar on the back of the woman, which wasn’t visible until now. Perhaps she had been wearing something to cover it.

As I got closer, I began to see that it wasn’t just some battle wound, but straight stitches! This was truly the work of the society. I could definitely smell the corruption a mile away now. This woman had been nothing more than a plant. But how did they know to plant her here?

Then again, how would they not know? They seemed to know everything else. Probably even bribed the competition to let her enter, maybe even the judges. Perhaps I was supposed to win, I dunno. For all I know, this person might have not even been a bodybuilder at all. She could have been a “worker” who was brainwashed, injected and then given BH2 like it was going out of style. That would bulk up any 90 pound weakling. It will also make you crazy and a fucking monster, in too high of doses. Yet they called it a “wonder drug.”

That got me to thinking… What if it wears off?

I’m sure that’s not the best answer to the problem, but I remember that all drugs, including steroids and most possibly this mutated growth hormone called BH2, should also wear off. It’s a rule of science after all; and even though I didn’t know that much about science, Will’s always told me in those times where my headache would return after taking a pill, “You may have to take another, Cleo. Pills wear off. It’s a fact of science.”

But how long would it take for BH2 to wear off, especially since she’s been shoving it down her throat like candy? Days? Weeks? Months? Years?

How long did I really have to wait for this shit to wear off completely? Not to mention the possibility of the government getting involved. They might nuke LA and I couldn’t have my family and friends be nuked! No way in hell, Miss Groden! (Or whatever you are!)

“This ends now!” I shouted, like a battle cry and spiraled out like a missile directly into her open stitches. As a matter of fact, her stitched wound had been in such a soft spot on her grotesquely muscled body, that I ended up flying right through her!

“Arghh!” She roared, as her body crashed down into the pavement.

“Is she dead?” I asked aloud, not sure whether or not to approach the matter further. I was still tired from flexing my muscles earlier for the competition. You’d never believe how much that tires you, until after you’ve done it. The whole “fire-woman” transformation on my already sweltering body was also not a good idea. I was now sweating more than ever.

8

After hovering for a few minutes and probably getting my picture taken a million times by all sorts of electronic equipment, I decided to go down to the site where the she-monster now lied. This also happened to be right in the middle of a busy street, so she was going to have to be moved as soon as possible.

I struggled to move her as best as I could, but I could barely even budge the titan-like form that lay on the ground. I really felt bad for it actually, this was a human being at one time. She was really nothing more than a soul in a malformed shell. My only guess was that she had bled to death, or that the overdose could’ve made her heart explode. My flaming saliva could have even reached her brain and set it ablaze. Regardless, it… I mean she, was dead.

While I might have been a hero to the people of the city of Los Angeles, I also knew that I was a murderer. It’s just another life that I’ve taken since I’ve been given life on this planet. Just another corpse on the pile of things you can’t forget.

Perhaps most heroes really are murderers though, and maybe we don’t really understand what it really takes to “save the day.” Maybe we don’t understand that those whom we may be locking horns with are indeed people as well, and they have as just as much of a right to life as the rest of us. If every man and woman is a star, then what really makes one star better than another?

SIXTEEN

Return Of The Fire Woman

I now had a big problem. As a matter of fact, it was one hell of a big problem.

The lifeless husk of the monster woman still laid in the middle of a busy street, and I wasn’t strong enough to lift it. I quickly had no choice but to fly over to city hall and transform back into my normal self, so as not to set it ablaze. (I didn’t quite have the money to replace the building, you see.)

I simply walked over to the building like any normal person, and opened the doors of this rather extravagant building which reminded me of some sort of modern temple. Then I walked over to the elevator, all to be delivered into a waiting room.

“Yes? How may I help you?” The receptionist asked, as I walked out of the elevator.

“I’d like to speak with the mayor of Los Angeles, please.” I said.

“I’m sorry, but the mayor is awfully busy right now. Could you please make an appointment?” she asked nicely.

“Look lady.” I said, as calm as I could. “Have you seen that giant monster out there? If you haven’t seen it, you couldn’t miss it. It looks like a big mass of flesh.” I added.

“No, I’m sorry. I haven’t seen it.” she replied. “Should I take a look at it?”

I didn’t respond to that question, because I thought it too foolish. The woman took this for an answer, and walked up from her desk to look out the front windows.

“What in the hell… is that thing, pardon my language?” she asked politely.

“Never mind what it was.” I said. “What it is now, is a big problem for the city of Los Angeles. That’s why I need to speak to the mayor.”

“Sure.” she replied. “One second.”

“There’s someone here to see you, Sir.” The receptionist said, in a soft voice.

“I said to hold all my calls, Stacy!” The mayor barked.

“It’s urgent sir, some woman who claims she defeated a monster. It’s lying in the middle of the street sir.” The receptionist added in a serious tone. She also must’ve thought she was going crazy.

A few minutes later, a half clothed woman ran out from the door behind the receptionist’s desk. Her left breast hung out, but she didn’t seem to notice. Perhaps she was in too much of a hurry.

Just a few minutes after, the mayor waddled out of the same door and I had no problems piecing together such a sleazy puzzle as this one was. I also noticed that the receptionist didn’t come back out of the room. What a bleeding pervert this man was! To think that he could help with anything! He’d better let that girl go, or I’ll kill him myself!

2


“Was I interrupting something?” I asked the mayor. “I could’ve sworn you were married, sir.” I added, scratching my head.

“Hey! What I do on my time, is my business!” he barked again, even more rabid this time, like some sort of mongrel.

“What are you gonna do about my fuckin’ town, toots?” he hollered, spitting in my face. “Hey, you’re a buff one! I’ve never had that before. What’s you and I say…”

“Enough, mayor.” I said. “I’m not here to pleasure you.”

“What?” The mayor boomed. “Well, you’d better find out how you’re going to fix the damages you made to my city!”

“The damages… I made!” I began to lose my temper with the man. “I guess you would’ve liked it more if I just let the damn thing terrorize the city then, huh?” I hollered. “Wouldn’t want to interrupt your acts of infidelity!” I stomped my foot on the ground. “I’m sure that your wife would love to know that you’ve got some young prostitute turning your knob!”

A look of fear began to appear in his eyes. “Al… all right, Missus Beefcake! Don’t you pound me into the wall or nothin’!”

“I have that much respect for you.” I said. “But that respect is slowly dwindling!” I yelled, as I raised my fist in the air.

“Well, whaddaya want me to do about it?” he asked in a nonchalant tone. If it comes to him being the man responsible, he’d rather run into some room with a whore instead. Typical fucking politicians.

“Our best plan of action right now is to wait it out and let her get small again. Then we’ll carry her out!” I hollered, still quite angry.

“How the hell long is that gonna take? I don’t have all goddamn month, you know! Tonight there’s going to be goddamn press and conspiracy theorists out in droves to take pictures and poke at the thing! I haven’t got the fuckin’ time to fill out those fuckin’ papers!”

“Please calm down, sir.” The receptionist asked. “You know your blood pressure.”
“Stacy! Get in there and suck me off then, you bitch!”

“Goddess, what a bloody well pig you are!” I said, shocked at the mayor’s behavior.

“Hey!” he barked. “Why don’t you go back to bloody fuckin’ England and suck on some tea and crumpets, you goddamned immigrant!”

That was it. He’d be lucky if he made out of his room alive.

“You want your dick sucked, Mr. Mayor?” I screamed. “I’ll suck your dick all right… And I’ll rip your fucking balls off in the process!”

With that gesture, I ran into the mayor’s office and grabbed the secretary out of the mayor’s clutches. The bloody bastard was obviously raping the poor girl against her will.

“What the hell? You little fuckin’ wh…!” He attempted to holler at me, but I slapped him so hard that he went into the opposite wall.

“Oh my God! I’m fuckin’ bleeding!” he screamed in pain. “You’re goin’ to pay for this! I’m goin’ to get my boys to bury you and your whole fuckin’ family!”

I grabbed him by his collar. He wriggled and tried to get away, but I wasn’t going to hear anymore of his blathering. I carried him over to the window and slowly began to lower him out of it. The cars that went by stopped, and even started a few accidents.

“What are you gonna do, ya bloody crook?” I asked, gripping onto his portly body as best as I could.

“Nothin’ toots! Nothin’!” he yelled, now beginning to feel the cold afternoon wind on his back due to the fact that he was physically hanging out of an eight story building.

“Forget I even said anything! I’m from Brooklyn, ya know! I took this office after the mob took control of this whole damned desert town!” he screamed, trying to hold on as tightly as he could to my arm, which was his only lifeline. One of his shoes took a fall, as it slipped off of his foot. This began to scare the man even more. Good. He needed a little fear in his life.

“The mob took control of LA?” I asked, as I lowered his body down even further.

“Oh my God! I can’t take this! I’m gonna shit myself! I swear to God, I’m gonna shit myself!” he screamed. “It’s not like you never did nothin’ wrong, huh?”

At this point, I really didn’t know what to do. He was a human being after all and I had to think about that. We all make mistakes, no matter how awful they may be.

“All right, goddamn it!” I hollered in disappointment, but I knew I was going to feel better about it later. “I’m bringing you back in!” I pulled the portly bastard back in, and he was more than grateful in appreciation.

“Thank you!” He cried. “You’re a saint!”

“You’re lucky that one of my goddesses shows mercy.” I said. “I don’t.”

“What would you have me do?” he asked, now more than obliged to do anything I wished.

“For starters, I want you to apologize to that young girl. Next, I want you to tell that hooker and any other hooker you got, that you’re through with them!” I commanded.

“Fine, fine.” he replied. “No big deal, I can live without hookers I guess…”

“I’m not finished yet.” I said, interrupting his awful acting skills. “There is one more thing that I want you to do, sir. But you may not be too fond of it.” I said, smiling.

“I want you to go home and buy your wife something nice… something real nice, take her to dinner, get some champagne and finally… I want you to make love to her!” I demanded.

“But I can’t… I can’t fuck that old broad!” The mayor complained.

“You can and you will!” I bellowed.

“All right! All right! Okay!” He pleaded. “Just don’t throw me out the fuckin’ window again, okay toots?”

“Don’t fucking call me, “toots.” I scowled. “Just make sure that you get someone out here to dispose of that corpse and whatever they do, don’t let them touch it! Or for that matter, don’t let anyone touch it! Cage that thing up immediately!”

A few minutes later, the mayor was finally making all of the necessary calls that he’d needed to make about an hour ago. He was shaking and frightened, but I do think I scared him into acting like a decent human being… or almost acting like a decent human being.

“Where can I get a hold of you when I need you?” he asked.

Problem was, I’d already zoomed out of there. Just like a red hot fireball.

*Will*

“Just who is this flaming woman?” The newscaster spoke. “Right out of a comic book, she single-handedly saved Los Angeles from one of it’s greatest threats since the major quake of 2018.”

“She was amazin’ man! Absolutely amazin!” remarked a stoner who was being interviewed by the press. Apparently there was no one else at the scene except for those kinds of people. The ones who smoke too much pot and believe the government’s going to eat them. It would truly be an absolute shame, if they were right.

“I’m high as hell right now! But I can tell ya, there’s not enough weed out there to get me as high as seeing what I just saw!” The man howled again. He began to rant and rave, as his mind was clearly somewhere else.

“Bloody fucking tart!” I hollered at the television.

A few seconds later, Cleo walked in the door.

“Well hello there, “Fire Woman.” I said. “Seems you’ve saved the whole of Los Angeles. They think you’re some kind of bleeding superhero!” I commented.

“Maybe I am, Will.” Cleo said, sitting down on the couch. “I’ve had this power for years and I’ve barely ever put it to use.” she replied stretching out. Holly then proceeded to sit on her lap.

“Mommy is awesome!” The girl cheered.

Cleo patted the girl on her head and kissed her on both cheeks. “I didn’t know if I was ever gonna see you again, love!” she said to the little one. “Where’s my boy?” she asked in a loud tone.

“Asleep at Amy’s.” I replied.

“Yeah. She called, I bet.” Cleo surmised.

“Yep. Twice she rang the phone.” I answered.

“Did you answer it?” she asked.

“Nope. Too tired to move a muscle.”

“William!” Cleo hollered.

“Don’t strain your voice dear. You should be tired.”

I thought about something for a moment.

“Did you ever manage to get your purse of winnings?”

“Shit!” she hollered. “It’s probably being sold for drugs as we speak!”

“Well, I’m sure that “Super Cleo” will save the day.” I laughed.

“That’s enough out of you, Will.” she said. “I’m going to bed now and every hole on my body is completely off limits until further notice.”

“Your ears too, dear?” I said in a joking manner.

“You’re disgusting.” she scowled.

“I was just joking.” I laughed again.

“Well, it wasn’t funny.” She added.

“I thought it was hilarious.” I threw in, to make myself seem even more an ass. It worked too!

“Good Night.” she scowled again, marching up the stairs. Then I heard the door slam off from what sounded like, it’s hinges. I hope to hell she’s not on her period. If so, the couch and I will be good friends tonight.

3

In the weeks that passed, the news blew up with articles about an amazing “fire woman.” It got to the point that both of us were sick of hearing it and turned it off. Cleo’s training schedule returned to normal and she now only went to the gym a few times a week to keep her muscles looking the way they should, for the next competition. She kept telling me, “A bodybuilder’s work is never done.”

I guess I’d have to agree with her there, plus if the society ever decides to send any other things our way, it might help for her to have that extra muscle when it’s needed. Eventually, internet rumors started going haywire and it eventually became apparent that the strange fire woman was also the champion lightweight bodybuilder, “Cleo Barker.”

Damn internet. I don’t know how those other superheroes could’ve kept their identity with it. All the world’s information available at the touch of a button. Therein you could find it’s truths and lies, if you were brave enough to search for them. You could find all the things that you wanted to see and all the things that you didn’t want to see. It’s a thing undreamed of in ancient times. Still, it became a thorn in our family’s side. We didn’t have any more privacy, and Cleo was constantly being sent on calls to fix this, that and the other.

I was being forced to add what life was like with her into my magazine, The Irate Individual and Amy was constantly being interviewed and even asked to model. As if there weren’t already enough plastic dolls in those magazines as it is. Holly became a child star and acted in a few food commercials which she liked, especially the cereal commercial in which Cleo and I were both against, but the press took over our roles as being parents. I knocked a man out for this act and hid his body in the basement. Cleo never even noticed.

I almost wondered if anybody would miss him, but eventually I let him free… meaning, putting him on a boat and sailing him off to an uncharted island. I gave him a few provisions, but he’ll have to make due with the rest himself. Sure I could be jailed, but that’s how I deal with things these days… and people. Plus, I was too famous to care.

Then there was the ad campaign that I started with my magazine. It was quite a simple campaign dealing with young women who were both spoiled and rich. Women who never washed a dish, vacuumed a rug, cleaned a toilet, or held a legitimate job. They never had to, and I never thought that it was right. So I decided that it was time to start my first, The Irate Individual Wants Spoiled Rich Women To Clean A Commode, Ad Campaign.

It went off without a hitch. We had a big gathering where people came out in droves with outhouses and plenty of toilets that were both filled to the brim with you can only imagine what, and brought out into the open air, where they stank to high heaven.

Then we brought in only the most spoiled and richest women, who were here at the mercy of “being cut off” financially. We then gave them each a bucket of soap filled water, a small bottle of bleach, a pair of gloves and finally, a scrub brush. Some of the women jumped right to it, while others vomited.

Some of the husbands actually stood by them and laughed, hollering “Get it clean!” while others rubbed it in their faces. The parents of those that were too young to be married also drilled it into them what the sheer beauty of a hard day’s work actually was.

“I’d just like her to wash the dishes once in a while.” said one of the husbands. But I can’t say that I blame him. How could anyone live with a woman who believes that her only job in life is to literally, “sit and look pretty.”

After all the work was done, the women were completely exhausted in every way, shape and form. I was bedazzled at the sheer amount of clean commodes and outhouses.

When the work was all said and done, I actually felt the urge to take a leak. Perhaps it was all the water I had been drinking, (It’s this global warming heat, you know) or perhaps I just wanted to be an ass; but I just couldn’t hold it in any longer.

So what better than to take a leak in a freshly cleaned commode? It seemed like a right good way to end a successful campaign, at any rate. Everyone seemed to have had a little bit of fun, but also learned the value of hard labor. It’s something that people seem to forget about these days. Hmm… With a campaign this successful, perhaps I should try running for president next. As a matter of fact, I’ve already got a campaign slogan.

“Don’t Bark Up The Wrong Tree… Vote William Barker for President!”

4

Things continued like this for quite a long time, until they became normal. I was okay with my wife being a superhero and going out there and helping people, but I always thought in the back of my mind that something could happen to her out there.

When I came home from the office one day, I went over to the computer and checked my email. There was actually an email in my inbox from a certain man that I hadn’t heard from in a very long time.

The email read, “CULLING THE HERD” in all caps, so I was more than just curious to open it. Why would he send me an email with a heading like this?

I was quite certain that this was from my old friend, who’s real name I don’t even know – being that he is still an army deserter and is still in Europe right now, I think. I’m honestly not sure where the guy is now; but I knew that whatever he sent me must’ve been important, because I haven’t heard from him in at least eleven years.

This email was very disturbing to me and I am sure that you will find it the same. Nonetheless, here are the contents:

“William. It has been a very long time since we’ve last talked. I take it that Cleo is flying around the world trying to save cats lost in trees, eh? But this is no time for joking, my friend. I have just been informed by a fellow contact of mine in the military that an order has just gotten through to all branches, and that order is to mobilize in your country.

I am sure that this is alarming to you, as it is to me. But my only words are to run. Run as far and as fast as you can. Cross the borders of your country and do not look back. Take your kids and your wife and leave that country now.

They are culling the herd and that means you. The seven have arisen and their words have been made manifest. A plague should befall your lands in just a short time and then I fear that it will befall mine. This is a man-made plague and will spread like wildfire, infecting everyone and making this entire race eventually infertile.

The seven wish the world, but you must not let them have it. But most of all William, the seven want you.

Sincerely,

A good friend.”

Reading these words made me ill. A plague? My lover? My children? Damn it, we were just getting used to living out here and Cleo and I both had promising careers now. Would she even listen to me? I guess if armed tanks starting showing up on our front lawn, she would. But then, she’d try to melt them with her powers.

I knew that the wise idea was not to respond, but rather to print out a copy of the message and then delete the original one. I didn’t want the feds to be able to track anything back to me, or this mysterious individual that I’ve known on and off for several years now. After I had shut down the computer, I continued to stare at the printed piece of paper, reading the message over and over in my head.

Could this really be true? If so, why? Why would they find it necessary to wipe out most of the human race? There’s go to be some rational logic behind something as insane as this. I just couldn’t believe that there was someone so bloody heartless… or a group of people rather, who were so bloody heartless. Then again, maybe I could. Then again, it made perfect fucking sense.

These seven bastards, like the seven heads of a beast, wanted to control all of the world and use all of it’s bloody resources for themselves! They don’t want anyone left in the end, they just want every goddamn thing to themselves. Well, they can bloody well fucking have it then. They can have it, after they’ve trampled over my damned dead body. That’s when they can bloody have it from me.

5

Cleo came in just a few hours later. She had picked the children up from Amy’s and told them to sit in the living room while she would hand them both a treat. (Probably just an apple… The poor kids.) A few minutes later, I approached my wife with the printed paper, to which she replied, “Will, is this some kind of bloody joke? Because if it is, it isn’t very funny.”

“I wish it was.” I said. “Should we start packing?”

“Hell, no.” Cleo replied. “Let the bastards come, with their plagues, their beasts and whatever the hell else they want to throw at me. The only thing I can’t bloody stand is when people call me because their damned cat is stuck in a tree and it won’t come down. So this means nothing to me.”

She flexed her muscles to show that she was going overpower whatever hells were about to come upon us. For my… I mean our sakes, I hoped that there weren’t too many.

“Frankly Will, I think you worry too much about this stuff. All that stuff in the past has got your mind warped. Why don’t you calm down and little bit and put your arms around me, huh?”

“Yeah.” I said, hugging her tightly. “Maybe he’s just lost his marbles. It’s probably no big deal. ”

“Perhaps.” said Cleo, not realizing her own strength (she never does) and accidentally putting me in what felt like the death grip of a Burmese python.

6

The weeks went by and nothing out of the ordinary happened. More and more issues of The Irate Individual got published and by that time, a multitude of superhuman feats were achieved by Cleo. (Or “the fire woman” as she was known to most.) She was also being handsomely paid by the mayors and governors of each city that she had saved.

But like I told you before, the government of this or any other country, did not need to know that Cleo possessed the kind of powers that she did. I knew that she was bound to be captured in some way or another, and it was only days away from happening.

7

Taking our minds off of all of the doom and gloom for a while, Cleo and I went to a concert that night. Neither of us had heard live music and I’d grown quite fond of the heavy metal scene, which could only match my irate feelings for this world. Cleo was open to listening to anything, so long as it would give her a chance to enjoy herself.

The band that was supposed to be playing was some new band called Freeze Frame Murder, which I assumed was some sort of boisterous death metal act. Cleo had never been in a mosh pit before, so I wasn’t quite sure how she was going to fare… or rather, how the rest of the attendees were going to fare, since she was a champion lightweight bodybuilder. Yeah, it was probably not the best idea to throw her in there with all of those maniacs.

One thing that I’ve learned about heavy music, is that it has the ability to get someone pumped up for something or another. Sometimes it has the ability to make certain people angry enough to kill, but this was extremely rare and I didn’t expect anything like that to happen to Cleo.

The opening act wasn’t really worth mentioning, since they more or less played a few covers. But when the band finally came out, everyone went into a frenzy.

“What exactly is going on here, William?” she asked. “These blokes remind me of a bunch of beasts about to pounce on a small animal.”

“It’s harmless.” I said. “No one ever gets seriously hurt at these concerts.”

A few minutes later, all of the lights in the building went off, sans the bright red spotlights for the band. A man thundered onto the stage. He was wearing all black and looked like he hadn’t showered or cut his hair in a few months or years, at least.

“All right! Who’s ready…? Who’s ready…? Who is fucking ready… to die?” The man hollered into the microphone.

With that, the band began to play. I hadn’t realized just how loud it really was, though.

“I can’t hear myself think!” Cleo hollered.

“Just bang your head and enjoy it!” I hollered back.

“Against what? Won’t that hurt?” she asked.

“Just do as I am doing, Cleo!” I hollered. I banged my head for her, just to show her how to do it.

“I might get dizzy doing that. You sure it’s safe?” she hollered, as the mosh pit began to separate the two of us, as mosh pits tend to do.

“Yes! Just do it!” I yelled at the top of my lungs.

“All right.” she screamed one last time, before she began to bang her head.

Of course, she’d never done such a thing before, so I thought that she was either going to pass out, or break her neck.

“Cleo! Slow down!” I hollered.

“I can’t! This is so much fun! I feel really fuzzy!” she hollered in ecstasy.

“You’re going to be on the floor if you don’t… Umph!”

I tried to get the rest of that sentence out, until a guy knocked me in the mouth with his shoulder.
“You all right?” she asked.

“I’ll manage!” I said, picking myself back up. “Just part of the metal faith!”

“Oh! So there’s a religion to this?” Cleo hollered, completely dazed now by the frantic amount of head banging that she was doing. “This is kind of transitive in a way, quite like what the shamans would have done in their ritual dances, I’m sure of it!”

“Bloody hell, woman!” I laughed. “It’s a figure of speech!”

The concert was great and we both made it out unscathed. As we walked out of the amphitheater, we saw that the band was signing autographs.

“Ooh!” Cleo shouted, like a giddy schoolgirl. “We’ve got to get an autograph, a shirt and all of their albums!”

“I’ve already downloaded most of th…” I didn’t finish what I was saying, because we were getting closer to the band now.

“Loved your show!” Cleo hollered. “I thought it was fucking marvelous!”

“Fucking marvelous.” The drummer said. “That’s a new one on me.” he laughed. “Our shows have been called many things, but never “fucking marvelous.” he said, signing an autograph on the book of the CD that Cleo had just bought. I think it was their newest one, entitled: Cute Dead Puppies and The Idiot Who Photographed Them.

When I got closer to the band, I couldn’t take my eyes off their lead singer. I knew that I recognized him from somewhere, but I just couldn’t place it. No. That couldn’t be him. Not here, not this far from Okeenuk.

A few seconds later, it just came out. “Freddy?” I asked. The man turned to me with a grim look. “It’s “The Photographer” now!” he hollered.

“I always wondered why you’d pick that name, it’s not even evil.” I shot back.

“Because I take the funeral picture… The final picture of your life!” he said with his sinister stage voice, which was then followed by some equally sinister laughter.

“Fred, quit getting in character!” The guitarist hollered. “It’s annoying enough during the shows.”

“I still know you as Freddy and that’s Cleo… You should remember.” I said.

His face turned a little pale. He remembered, all right.

“That’s Cleo?” he hollered. “You’re kidding me, man!” he said, coughing a bit.

“Yes.” she said. “It’s me, 2024 Miss Titania.” She flexed her bicep muscle to prove she wasn’t joking.

“Damn!” Hollered the bassist. “Christ, I wish I had muscles like that!”

“No, you don’t.” she replied. “These muscles take an awful lot of work. You really get used to the gym and sometimes bored of it too.”

“I can imagine.” The drummer spoke up.

“Well, it’s good seeing you all.” Freddy “The Photographer” said in a completely normal voice free of any grim or sinister tones. “Thanks for supporting us.”

“No problem.” I said. “Any of you read The Irate Individual?” I asked.

“Ugh… Now’s not the time, Will.” Cleo scowled, tugging on my shirt.

“Love it.” The guitarist said. “Why? You write for it, or something?”

“Yeah. I do.” I replied.

“You know what you need?” The guitarist asked.

“If it’s naked women, that’s a no go from the publisher.” I replied.

“No, actually.” he said. “I think it is pertinent that you mention the whole deal about global warming and energy conservation. If more people turned off lights that they weren’t using and switched to less pollutant fuels, we could probably live better lives and that’s always been something that really pisses me off. Can’t people be more Earth conscious?”

“There he goes again.” said the drummer in a dry tone.

“I’ll think about it… I mean it hasn’t been this bloody hot in ages!” I replied, not thinking this fellow to be very intelligent, but apparently he was.

After all was said and done, we decided to both retire to the house. Holly and Michael both slept over at Amy’s that night, so we pretty much had the whole place to ourselves and you know what that means. We had plenty of time to be… alone.

Cleo also had gotten a contact high from something in the crowd and I think I may have caught a whiff too. She’s all fired up from the music and her hormones are probably out of control…

So ladies and gentlemen, I’ll make this quite brief:

We were about to have sexual intercourse in some crazy fashion, either on top of the table, in the middle of the floor, outside in the backyard, on the dryer… and a million other places that might need to be cleaned off tomorrow.

“I don’t want to break you.” she said to me, letting me know that she did have muscles and was capable of killing me accidentally.

“I’ll manage, damn it.” I said. “Just throw yourself on me, you naughty bitch, you!”

A few minutes later, Cleo got out the whip. If I don’t die, this will be one of the most amazing nights of my life. What doesn’t kill me… I’ll probably enjoy all the more.

 

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