PROJECT CERULEAN MX
by The Pecman
Chapter 5: Muscles and Blood
“This completely, totally sucks,” Joey wailed. “I told you my old clothes were fine.”
Mrs. Hartford rolled her eyes. “Honey, we already discussed it this morning. We have to get you some new things for school. After all, you’re a growing boy.”
The boy sweated under his thick T-shirt. For more than two months, he and Michael had managed to avoid letting his parents glimpse any more than their faces and hands. Dr. Noble had convinced them both not to let anyone know about the change in their bodies until the week before school.
Four more days to go, Joey thought nervously, as the car made the turn around Arroyo Grande Boulevard, approaching the entrance to the Galleria Mall. Then they’re going to find out just how big I really am.
They parked the car and made their way towards Dillard’s, a large department store on the west side of the sprawling two-story complex.
“Can’t we just go to Old Navy?” the boy begged. “I think they’re having a sale.” Given his new muscular form, he dreaded the thought of having to parade new pants and shirts in front of his mother and the clerk, plus in full view of the public, to boot. Maybe Old Navy would have some stuff he could buy right off the rack.
“We discussed this before, Joey,” she said, as they briskly pushed through the glass doors and into the crowded aisles. “Your father and I are barely covering our monthly bills as it is. Dillard’s is the last credit card we can use. It’s either this or—”
“—or I can just wear what I already have,” Joey interrupted. “I mean, that’d be a lot cheaper than new clothes, right?”
She gave him a steely glare. He sighed and continued glumly towards the Young Men’s Wear department, towards a section marked “Husky.” For the past four years, Joey’s waistline had been steadily edging outwards, making the fit more difficult with normal jeans and shirts. He felt his new thinner waistline under his baggy shirt, tracing his finger along the tight, flat ridges of abdominal muscles underneath his stretch pants, trying to guess what new size he’d need. No way I can fit those fat clothes any more, he thought. I’ll just have to tell her.
“Listen, mom,” he began. “There’s some stuff I need to talk to you about. It’s important.”
Mrs. Hartford ignored him and turned to a salesman in a bright blue blazer. “Excuse me — I need to get some clothes for my son.”
The man’s face brightened. “Hello. I’m Mr. Charles. And you are...” he said, extended out his hand to the teenager.
Joey glared at him but kept his arms folded. “Joey. And I don’t need anything.”
“He’ll need size 32,” the mother said briskly. “Perhaps a pair of blue jeans, then some black slacks, and some brown corduroy. We’ll look at some shirts later.”
“Fine,” Mr. Charles said. “I think you’ll like the selection we have.”
The woman looked up at someone in the distance and waved. “Claire!” she called to a woman across the aisle. “I don’t believe it! Claire Howard!” She turned back to the boy, a little breathless and giddy. “I’m going to talk to my friend — I haven’t seen her in years. Go with this salesman and I’ll be back in a few minutes. Make sure you pick out at least three pairs of pants.”
“Yeah, yeah. One pair of jeans, two slacks.”
“And at least two shirts. Button-down collars, alright?”
The boy nodded, then trudged resignedly behind the salesman over to the rack.
“Mom giving you a bit of a pain, huh?” the man said.
“You could say that.”
Mr. Charles gave him a quick look, then raised an eyebrow. “How heavy did you say you were?”
“I didn’t say. But if you gotta know, it’s 180.”
The man momentarily winced, then quickly recovered and took three steps to the right, over to the next rack, labeled ‘Boy’s Extra Large.’ “OK,” he said. “Let’s try some of these.” He began pulling out some pants on hangers.
“I don’t think...”
“Just try them on,” the salesman said reassuringly, “and we’ll see how you do. Look, I’ll make this as quick and painless as possible, OK? Don’t feel bad, kid — I was a little on the pudgy size when I was your age, myself. I know just how you feel.”
Very doubtful, the boy thought. He sighed and followed the salesman to the changing room. “This is so lame,” he muttered.
“Let me know if you need any help,” called the man, closing the door as he left the room. “I’ll be right out here in the hallway.”
The boy glanced fearfully at himself in the mirror. Trapped. He sighed, then kicked off his shoes, removed his socks, then shed his shirt and slid his pants down to the floor. Whoa, he thought, turning into the light. I really am getting ripped. Those traps are looking really good.
“And here’s some shirts that should work for you,” said the salesman, opening the door. “I can get...” He froze in mid-sentence.
Joey looked up, startled.
The salesman’s eyes were as wide as saucers. “S-s-sorry,” he stammered, staring at the teen’s ripped body. “I didn’t mean to... I, uh... didn’t know...” His mouth fell open with surprise. “Damn.”
Joey quickly pulled his old shirt up to his thick, chiseled chest. “I’m not changed yet,” he said quickly. “Give me thirty seconds.”
“Right.” The man sucked in his breath, then darted out and slammed the door behind him.
“Jesus,” the boy muttered. “I hope this isn’t gonna happen every time I take my shirt off in front of somebody.”
Joey braced himself, then opened the door and took a left, where there was a mirror at the far end of a short hallway that led back to the stockroom, away from the main store area. The salesman followed him, then stopped, but his hands shook slightly as he checked the fit of the pants and shirt.
“Your... your arms are much bigger than I thought they’d be,” Mr. Charles said quietly. “How old did you say you were?”
“Thirteen. Actually, I’ll be fourteen this coming November.”
The man gulped quietly. “That’s... incredible. I would believe you were 13 from your face, but the rest of you...” He shook his head in helpless disbelief, then checked a few more measurements, jotting down the numbers on a pad.
“Look,” Joey snapped. “Are we about done here?”
“We’re going to have to make some, uh, substantial alterations,” the salesman said, retracting the tape measure. “These jeans are much too tight in the...”
“I was going to mention that,” Joey said, adjusting his crotch. “Is that a problem?”
“Well, yes. No. I mean...” The man cleared his throat. “We’ll have to go up to a larger size, then alter the waistline and the cuffs. But I can have them done by Thursday afternoon.”
“That’s good. Thanks.” Joey trudged back to the changing room and closed the door behind him. That guy was real creepy, he thought. Probably early 20’s, maybe a college student.
He shook his head, then slipped the new jeans off and put back on his sweat pants. At least I managed to do this without letting Mom catch a glimpse.
There was a knock at the door. “Gimme a second,” Joey called.
Mr. Charles suddenly darted in, then closed the door behind him. “Please,” he begged. “Can I just touch you?”
Joey flattened himself against the wall, half-naked, his well-muscled chest heaving. “I don’t think you...”
“Yes I can,” said the man, locking the door behind him. “Please — you’ve got the hottest body I’ve ever seen.” He dropped to his knees. “This won’t take long. And I’m really good at it.”
The boy sighed, but allowed the young salesman to unzip his fly and pull down his pants and underwear in one yank.
“Oh, my fucking god...” Mr. Charles said, staring at the enormous prize dangling in front of his face. He leaned forward and opened his mouth, then reached up and clenched the boy’s thick pectoral mounds with his hands.
Joey moaned softly, then gently combed his fingers through the man’s hair. “Alright,” he said. “But I can only give you a minute.”
§ § § § §
“I don’t know what got into that salesman,” Mrs. Hartford said, as they pulled out of the mall parking lot and back onto Arroyo Grande Boulevard. “He seemed very distracted. But I thought that was very generous of him, giving us 25% off on your clothes. Your father will be very pleased.”
Not as pleased as Mr. Charles was, Joey thought with a faint smile. The salesman hadn’t spilled a drop, and seemed eager for more.
“Call me anytime,” he had whispered to the boy as they were leaving, pressing a business card into his hand. There was a number written in ballpoint on the back, along with just one word: “Please.”
This could be a real problem at school, he thought. And Noble isn’t going to like it.
§ § § § §
Unfortunately, that proved to be an understatement. The doctor was absolutely furious.
“I can’t believe you had the audacity to do this!” the man stormed. “After all I warned you about! Can you at least tell me who this salesman is?”
Joey glumly handed it over. “Leonard Charles,” he said. “He’s already left two messages on my cell. The texts are even worse.”
Noble shook his head. “That’s to be understood. To have an ordinary human exposed in this way to your—”
“—cum,” finished Michael.
“—your emissions,” continued the doctor, “could be absolutely disastrous! It’s potentially far more intense than your perspiration. Hypersexuality can be fatal in some cases.”
“So, Joey’s got a new boyfriend.”
Joey glared at him. “Shut up, Michael.”
“I’m going to have to alter the formula. Apparently, your pheromones are in overdrive. I think I can take it down a notch without affecting anything else.”
“You think,” commented Michael wryly, leaning back in a chair at Noble’s desk. “That’s unless it ages us a hundred years and turns him to dust. Or turns us into a blob of organic goo on the floor. Or gives us cancer.”
The scientist sighed, then rubbed his tired eyes. “Boys, I’m doing the best I can here,” he said, sounding exhausted.
“Don’t listen to him, doctor,” Joey said, glaring at his friend. “He’s just being an asshole.”
Michael yawned, clearly bored. “I’m just stating the obvious, douche.”
The boy glared. “You started this whole thing when you shot yourself up with that stuff,” he said. “Now look at this mess! Our parents are gonna kill both of us when they see how we... how we look.” He held his thick, muscular arms up for emphasis.
“I did not start this,” Michael retorted. “The government did. And like I told you, you begged me to give you the injection. You were almost in tears.”
Joey’s face reddened with the memory. Maybe he’d been partly out of his mind with desire, but he couldn’t deny it: he had consciously begged to be as big as his friend. “Give it to me,” he had pleaded. “I want those muscles... please, Michael!”
How am I going to explain this? he thought, feeling his massive chest. I’m a genetic freak now!
“Stop it, both of you,” Dr. Noble snapped. “I told you before: you have to live with this for now. And from what I see, your appearance is still within what would be considered normal for a 14-year-old. An exceptionally well-developed 14-year-old, yes, but not beyond the range of possibility.”
Michael raised an eyebrow, then cocked his arm and let his bicep inflate, straining the edges of the shirt sleeve. The bicep muscles bulged in two halves, almost a textbook-perfect version of the masculine ideal.
Noble paused, then waved his hand dismissively. “As I said — on the extreme outer edge of what would be considered normal. For example, the teenagers on the 2008 Russian Olympic gymnast team...”
“Oh, sure,” Joey interrupted. “You mean those muscle-bound kids who’ve been sucking down Soviet steroid shakes since they were babies? Yeah, like they’re normal.”
The scientist shook his head. “The Russians abandoned steroids decades ago. Human growth hormone... testosterone... slight alterations in hematocrit levels in the bloodstream... all of these techniques are far more difficult to detect, given sufficient time and precautions.”
As if to respond, Michael stripped off his T-shirt over his head in one easy motion, then flexed his muscular chest, inflating the pecs upwards like balloons, the striations sharply etching his flesh. “It’s still gonna be hard to explain this, doctor.”
“If you just stick with the story we established,” Noble said firmly, “this will work.”
“You mean it might work, once our parents have picked themselves off the floor.”
The scientist glared at Michael. “And you need to stick with the identical explanation. We’ve gone over this several times: you’ve been eating more, your metabolism has changed as part of normal adolescence, you’ve worked out strenuously every day for several months...”
“Yeah,” Michael said, rolling his eyes, “and we’ve gained almost fifty pounds in muscle. Sure, that’ll work.”
Joey held out his hands in a mock surrender. “C’mon, dude. Dr. Noble is right. We’ve gotten away with hiding our bodies practically all summer long, so we made it this far. School starts next week — it’s gonna be bad enough dealing with that. Let’s go home and get this over with, okay?”
Michael ‘hmmmphed’ in response. They slipped their shirts back on and trudged out the door over to their awaiting bicycles, which were firmly chained to a nearby post. The scientist caught up with them.
“I’m going to take care of this unfortunate department store salesman, Mr. Charles,” Dr. Noble said. “The effects of coming in contact with your semen will naturally fade away in a week. But I’ll see what I can do to hasten it. We’ll give him a stronger version of the same formula we gave your parents back in July.”
Joey shuddered, remembering the odd look his mother had given him earlier in the summer, after coming in contact with one of his dirty shirts. Luckily, they’d managed to avoid the difficult situation of having his mother get aroused...
No, he thought, quickly shaking his head. I’m not even gonna go there.
“Don’t forget,” Noble called from the doorway. “Start slowly. Just let your parents glimpse you in a normal T-shirt. Act casual. Don’t show them how strong you really are. And whatever you do, avoid letting them see you naked.”
Both boys blanched. Their penises and testicles were still quite enlarged from the effects of the formula, though not quite as huge as they’d initially been. “Not much bigger than an average porno actor these days,” Michael had commented.
That would definitely be much harder to explain, Joey thought ruefully. He waved over his shoulder to the doctor as both boys raced on their bicycles back down the driveway, towards American Pacific Drive.
§ § § § §
“Joey?” called his father through the inside door that out led to the garage. “Almost dinner time. Are you two finished pumping iron out there?”
“Here goes,” whispered the boy to his friend. “Remember — act casual.”
“Right,” said Michael, curling the heavy bar up to his chest in a smooth, easy motion.
“Your mother tells me that...” The man stepped down the garage steps, then abruptly stopped. “Good god, Joey! What have you two been up to out here?”
Both boys looked up. Each of them were wearing thin tank tops, both revealing enough to display their massive chests and thick, bulging arms.
“Just working out,” Joey said casually.
His father walked over and gaped at the boy. Michael finished his set and handed the bar to Joey.
“Just one more set, Dad,” he said, beginning ten reps. “This is it for the day. Don’t want to overtrain.”
“But how can you...” the man sputtered, “how is it possible...”
Joey ignored him, then continued the curls, his biceps inflating dramatically with each rep. “Seven... eight... nine... ten. Okay,” he said, setting the barbell down on the concrete floor with a clank. “See you tomorrow, Michael. Same time, okay?”
“’Bye, Mr. Hartford,” called the other boy as he quickly jogged out of the makeshift gym. “See ya!”
“Hold it right there!” The man ran after him and yanked him by the back of the shirt, then dragged him back to the garage, forcing him to stand next to his son. Both boys looked at him glumly.
“Well?” said Hartford expectantly.
“Well, what, Dad?” Joey said, struggling to keep his voice calm. “We’ve been working out for the past couple of hours. I’m really hungry, and I’m sore from the workout. Can we have dinner now, please?”
“Let me see your arms.”
The boys didn’t move.
“Hold them straight out, Joey. Now.”
The boy winced and did as he was told. The father examined them carefully, running his hands up and down the skin, stunned at the sheer size and muscularity. A small forest of veins wrapped around the curves and sinews, like a series of vines curled around a thick tree trunk.
“What are you lookin’ for, Mr. Hartford?” asked Michael. “We just got a pretty good pump goin’. We’ve been workin’ out here since 4PM. Just our normal 90-minute workout that we’ve been doin’ all summer.”
The man gave him an angry glare. “This is not normal. There’s only one way you boys could’ve gotten this enormous in three months.”
The Cerulean formula, Joey thought. From a top-secret 1980s government program.
“And that’s steroids,” Hartford continued. “I should take you both to the emergency room at St. Rose Hospital right this instant. I can’t believe I never noticed until today.”
Joey feigned complete innocence. “I swear to god, Dad,” he protested. “I haven’t used any illegal drugs. Neither has Michael. Absolutely no steroids — swear to God.” He lifted his right palm up for emphasis.
“He’s tellin’ the truth, Mr. Hartford,” Michael chimed in. “All we’ve been doing since June is pumpin’ iron and running. Haven’t you noticed?”
Joey’s father raised an eyebrow. That was true — he hadn’t really paid that much attention to either boy over the summer, especially since all the stresses at work had him occupied for the past few weeks. Is it possible, he thought weakly, that my son has been changing all this time, and I simply haven’t noticed? Am I that much of a poor excuse for a father?
“And we’ve been eating a lot, too,” Joey added. “Tons of protein. Mom’s been complaining she has to buy a new case of chocolate Met-Rx and a gallon of skim milk every two days.”
Hartford thought for a moment. “Pull up your shirt,” he asked.
The boy winced. “But Dad...”
“Pull it up.”
The boy lifted his shirt enough to reveal his stomach, which was absolutely flat. His father was flabbergasted to see that the rolls of flab which had been there earlier in the year had vanished, replaced by a half-dozen ridges of rock-solid muscle. The lower edges of his pectoral muscles resembled enormous slabs of beef, and the center of his torso was chiseled with a sharply-etched line that led down to his powerful abdomen.
“That’s... that’s a six-pack,” the man mused. He’d never actually seen abs like this outside the pages of People magazine or a movie, let alone on a teenager this young.
Joey’s face reddened. “Actually, closer to an eight-pack. There’s an extra set of ridges right up here.” His fingers moved higher up his abdomen towards his sternum.
“I can see that,” the man interrupted. He let the boy’s shirt drop back down, then gently put his hands on his son’s shoulders. “My god,” he gasped, gripping the boy firmly. “Son — you’re... you’re huge.”
Joey rolled his eyes. “C’mon, Dad. You’ve done nothing but complain for the past couple of years that I was a tub of lard. Now, I finally started working out and got into shape. And you’re hassling me for that, too? How is that fair?”
The man thought for a minute, then let go and took a step back.
“I think he’s gotcha there, Mr. Hartford,” said Michael.
Joey shot his friend an annoyed look. Shut up, he silently mouthed.
An uncomfortable silence passed.
“Alright,” his father said at last. “I’m going to accept that somehow, you boys have gained all... all this muscle, transformed your bodies practically overnight.”
“Not overnight,” Joey protested. “It took us months of training to look like this. Remember the weights we bought back in June? We’ve been doing some serious lifting out here. And running in the park.”
“And nutrition,” Michael added. “Lotsa protein.”
“Yeah, protein. And vitamins. Plus a lot of low-fat nutrition. These muscles didn’t just appear out of thin air.”
The man gave them a suspicious look. “Alright. But we’re still going to make an appointment with Dr. Evans first thing tomorrow.”
“Fat chance of him coming in on a Saturday,” Joey snorted.
“Alright — Monday, then. But we’re going to do a full lab work up on you: blood, urine, saliva, DNA... whatever. If I find out you two have been using any illegal drugs...”
“Dad, I’ve told you before: I’ve never inhaled, never even had a beer. I’ve gotten straight-A’s for two years in a row. And that’s in advanced placement classes.”
The man considered this, then slowly nodded and let out a long sigh. “I’m... I’m sorry, Joey. It’s just that this is a bit of a shock for me.”
Michael chuckled, then put his arm around his friend’s shoulders and gave him an affectionate squeeze. “Look, Mr. H — this is the new, hotter Joey. No more chubby boy. He’s wanted to look cool for years. This’ll be his ticket out of Loserville! Wait’ll they see him in school next week!”
That’s what I’m frightened of, Joey thought with a shudder. That’s if Doctor Evans doesn’t call the police — or worse.
§ § § § §
As it turned out, his fears were unjustified. ‘On the high side of normal’ was the official report. Old Dr. Evans examined all the test results and pronounced him to be extremely fit. Joey’s testosterone levels were slightly elevated at 700, but that was to be expected for a young teenage boy still in the throes of adolescence.
Noble had prepared them late Sunday night by injecting them with a booster shot. “This is a somewhat-stronger variation on the control formula,” he had explained. “You’ll feel slightly weak for the rest of the day, but all of your blood levels, testosterone, and DNA will temporarily appear normal in all the tests. You’ll be back to as you were within 24 hours. And with the new version of the serum I’m working on, casual contact will no longer arouse desire in others, unless they’re directly exposed to your blood — which is extremely unlikely.”
The family doctor had examined every inch of his body — including a brief exploration of his tight, muscular buttocks — and said the boy was “a magnificent specimen.” As if I was some kind of a medical experiment, Joey mused to himself. Which I guess I am. He breathed a sigh of relief, knowing that whatever traces Noble’s weekly injections had left on his skin had healed almost immediately, thanks to his regenerative abilities. No one would ever know about the treatments the scientist had secretly been giving him and Michael.
And Evans didn’t react too badly to my penis, he thought with some relief.Since it was almost six inches completely flaccid, he had made sure there was no chance of having an erection in the doctor’s office by forcing himself to have four orgasms in a row an hour prior to the appointment, just as a precaution. Thankfully, his newly-regrown foreskin was ignored as well; most likely, Dr. Evans saw so many dicks in a given day, he couldn’t be expected to remember the specific details of yet another young teenager’s groin.
Joey’s parents were silent all the way home from the doctor’s office. At least I don’t have to wear the long-sleeve shirts anymore, he thought, resting his thick, powerful arm on the car window ledge. The three of them stared out the window as the Buick rolled down the suburban desert street, moving towards the north side of town, back to their neighborhood cul-de-sac.
The boy leaned forward towards the front of the car. “You’ll call Mrs. Spears and tell her about Dr. Evans’ report?” he asked, a little more sharply than he intended. “I’m sure his doctor will say the same thing — that both of us were telling the truth.”
His mother frowned. “Really, Joey — you mustn’t be angry. Your father and I were just concerned that you were becoming one of those...”
“I know, I know — a bodybuilder. So what? As long as I keep my grades up, what’s the problem with me getting bigger?”
“No,” she said. “We just don’t want you to become one of those people: a wrestler... one of those Hulk Hogan types.” She gave a slight shudder.
Joey glared at her in the rear-view mirror. “Arnold Schwarzenegger didn’t do too badly. He’s worth about $300 million, made about two dozen hit movies, and was governor of California for seven years.”
“You mean Cahl-ee-for-nee-ah,” said his father with a chuckle. “Alright, son. Look, as long as we know you’re healthy and not doing any drugs, we’re okay with it.” The man glanced at the boy’s broad shoulders and powerful arms. “If this is what you want, we’ll... we’ll try to adjust. Alright?”
The boy grinned. “Thanks, Dad. And I promise — I’ll tell you if I ever get sick or something.”
“You had better not,” said his mother, who turned and looked at him with a sad smile. “You’re still my little boy.”
Actually, not all that little, Mom, he thought, turning away and surreptitiously adjusting his crotch.
§ § § § §
The following week, the day of reckoning had arrived.
“You about ready for this?” asked Michael, as they walked down up the sidewalk that led to the plaza at the front of Arroyo Grande Middle School. A crowd of young teenagers milled around the gravel path, in which a dozen cactuses and other desert plants had been tastefully arranged. Like most Nevada neighborhoods, the city of Henderson had forbidden the use of grassy lawns, insisting on desert-compatible landscaping.
“Yeah,” Joey said dolefully. “I just hope that nobody tries anything.”
“Just remember what Noble said,” the blond boy reminded, as they made their way to the main entrance doors. “We can’t slug anybody. With our strength, we might kill ‘em.”
Joey nodded. He’d been in several one-sided fights the year before, with several bullies calling him “fatso faggot” and worse. Despite the slight bagginess of the dark T-shirt he was wearing, he’d let his thick forearms protrude slightly through the short sleeves. He continued wearing sweat pants, on the hope that the bulge of his considerable endowment would be slightly less visible. At least, until we have to get dressed for Phys Ed, he thought.
“Maybe nobody will no—” started Michael.
“WHOA!” shouted a voice. “Take a look at Hartford and Spears! Holy shit, what happened to you guys?”
“—notice us,” Joey continued with a sigh, as both boys skidded to an abrupt halt.
Billy Lynch — known as “Billy the Bull” to most of the school, after various run-ins with authorities over the years — was the terror of 9th grade. He’d been held back at least twice, making him at 16 the oldest and most-feared teenager in school, possibly in the entire Clark County school district. At six feet, he towered over both boys.
“Whaddya want, Lynch?” snapped Michael. As a co-member of the football team, he didn’t take any grief from the linebacker.
The huge boy knocked Joey’s books out of his hands, where they clattered to the ground. His shadow fell over the boy’s face.
“So the little fatso faggot thought he was gonna pump some iron and become a big muscle-man,” Billy said, in a sing-song voice. “Ain’t that some shit.”
“C’mon, Lynch — leave him alone,” Michael warned. “Coach could catch ya.”
Joey looked up, trying to fight the urge to panic. But his expression changed to steely-eyed determination. “I’m... I’m not fat anymore,” he said in a quiet voice.
“Hard to tell, with those outfits,” Billy said, walking around the two, carefully eyeing them from head to toe. “Your arms are pretty big, but how’s the rest of ya?”
“We’re fine, Lynch,” Michael said hurriedly, stooping to pick up Joey’s loose-leaf binder and textbooks, which were fluttering in the warm Nevada breeze. “Joey and I just spent the summer workin’ out. No big deal.”
“Yeah. No big deal,” repeated Joey.
The thug took a step closer. “And I still say you’re a fat faggot,” Billy growled, poking the boy in the chest. Whoa, Billy thought with a slight shock, feeling the solid muscle through the fabric. This punk’s chest is definitely not fat.
Joey had had enough. “Fuck you, Bull,” he said quietly. “I’m not taking your shit anymore.”
Billy started to laugh. A few scattered cohorts around him began to join in. They seemed to think this was the funniest thing they’d ever heard.
“I mean it,” Joey continued, taking a step forward. “And as for fat — check this out.” He pulled up his loose T-shirt, revealing the thick row of abs and powerful, flat stomach. “Beat that, douche.”
The bully nodded appreciably. “Not bad, kid. I gotta say, you ain’t the blimp you were last spring.” He shifted his gaze up to Joey’s face. “But you’re still a faggot.”
“Look,” Joey began, “why don’t you...”
Without warning, Billy abruptly punched into the boy’s gut as hard as he could, plunging the boy forward in a loud “oof” of pain and surprise. In a blur, Billy’s other fist slammed into Joey’s face, breaking his nose and knocking out two teeth. The boy flew to the right, his face bloody, crashing down with a thud onto the concrete steps.
“Jesus, Lynch!” hissed Michael, shoving the larger boy away. “What the fuck is that all about? It’s the first friggin’ day of school!”
Billy raised an eye. Michael had been one of the more promising members of the junior varsity team last season. There was no question he was in line to become the new quarterback. Billy wasn’t very bright, but he knew the wisdom of choosing his battles wisely, especially since they were both on the same team.
“You oughta pick better friends, Spears,” the hulking teen said in a low voice. “Joey Hartford is a fuckin’ faggot — muscles or not. And he’s still a fuckin’ wimp, too.”
Michael turned. His friend was curled in the fetal position, coughing trickles of blood down his chin, holding his nose with one hand and his stomach with the other. Michael stepped up to the larger teen.
“Just layoff, willya, Billy? Get outta here before anybody gets in trouble.”
Billy smirked, then pushed through the crowd.
“I’m okay,” Joey said weakly, as Michael helped him sit up.
“Is your nose broken?” said a girl from the crowd. “I thought I heard something break.”
Joey shook his head. “No. I’m fine.” His tongue felt the hole in his gum line where two adjacent teeth used to be. Already, brand-new teeth were growing to replace them. His nose burned on the inside, but likely that was the cartilage, reforming itself back to its original shape. He spat out some more blood. “Just give me a hand.”
Michael pulled him up to his feet and handed him his school books. “You really alright?” he whispered, as they pushed their way through the onlooking crowd and into the hallway of the main building.
“Yeah. I’m just gonna go to the bathroom and wash my face off. Meet you in homeroom in five minutes.”
They continued down the hallway, then stopped at an intersecting corridor. The blond teen turned to his friend, his face filled with concern. “You did the right thing back there,” he said in a low voice. “If you had fought back...”
“I know, I know,” Joey replied, wiping off some of the blood from his upper lip. “I could’ve killed him. I know the whole drill from Noble. ‘Don’t attract attention... don’t stand out... don’t let anybody know what you really are.’” He raised an eyebrow towards his friend. “Since when are you suddenly the voice of reason around here?”
Michael shrugged and managed a weak smile. “I’ve been hangin’ around you for almost ten years. It figures some of your good side would eventually rub off on me.”
“Don’t mention rubbing off,” Joey said in a low voice, as an attractive teenage boy in a red tank-top darted past them into the crowd. “I’m horny enough as it is.”
Five minutes later, Joey had managed to clean off virtually all of the bloodstains from his collar. His nose had miraculously set itself and the swelling was down to an almost normal level. He checked inside his mouth with the mirror above the sink, and noted that the two missing side teeth were already half-visible. Strangely, it didn’t hurt, though he was aware of a dull kind of buzzing in his jaw. It’s like I’m actually feeling the cells reforming, he thought, vaguely remembering the same kind of sensation after Michael had given him the injection three months earlier. That’s how I felt when my muscles started changing.
He examined his face in the mirror, noting a large purple welt on the left side of his jaw, and dabbing it with a wet paper towel to get rid of the last remnants of blood. That bruise would probably fade by noon — maybe earlier, if he were lucky. Too bad the formula doesn’t dull the pain, he thought. He’d taken a couple of beatings from Billy the Bull before, and they’d hurt every bit as much. But this time, his old enemy seemed infuriated that Joey was no longer the fat, pudgy punching bag he used to be.
“Note to self,” he muttered. “Learn kung-fu. Being big isn’t enough.”
The warning bell sounded, echoing through the hallway. He sighed, then stepped up to one of the nearby urinals and unzipped his fly, letting his elongated penis flop out, nearly scraping the drain. He closed his eyes while the stream sprayed against the porcelain, steadying himself with his left hand.
“Jesus,” said a soft voice behind him.
Joey froze. He cut off in mid-stream and quickly reeled his penis back in and zipped up his zipper in one motion, then hit the flush bar. Without turning around, he stepped over to the sink and nonchalantly washed his hands.
“I... I, uh, think this is yours,” said the timid voice.
He turned to see a smaller blond boy, stunningly handsome. His hair was several shades lighter than Michael’s — almost silver, with shaggy, thick locks hanging down to his shoulders. The boy looked very young, with piercing blue eyes and delicate, almost-feminine features. He stood with his hand out, then dropped a small object in Joey’s palm.
Joey peered closer. It was a bloody tooth, cracked on one side.
“Can’t be mine,” he said casually. “I’m okay. Billy the Bull just knocked me down. Look, see for yourself.” He opened his mouth. All the teeth were fine — perfect, in fact. It’d taken less than ten minutes to re-grow the two molars.
The boy stared at him curiously, a little awe-struck. “You’re big.”
Shit, he thought. Here we go.
“Apparently, still not big enough to fight Billy.” He glanced down at his watch. “Shit — gotta go. Uh, nice meeting you...”
“Aaron,” the boy called after him. “Aaron Butler.”
“Right. I’m Joey. See you around, okay?”
God, he thought as he swerved to the right and jogged down the corridor leading to his homeroom. At this rate, I’ll be lucky to be alive by the end of the day.
Meanwhile, back in the restroom, Aaron felt the flakes of blood on the tooth’s roots and felt a tingling in his fingertips. “If that wasn’t his tooth,” he murmured, “then whose is it?” His pulse began to quicken and he turned toward the door. Gotta find out where this Joey lives, he thought, instantly aroused. He might be the hottest guy I’ve ever seen in my life.
§ § § § §
“So we’ve only got one class together this semester?” Michael said, sliding into a chair beside him in the cafeteria. “That sucks.”
More than 400 students crowded down the aisles, while the latest Justin Bieber pop hit blared on the overhead speakers.
Joey nodded, stabbing a piece of meatloaf with his fork. “Yeah. We’ve got Sociology for sixth period, but all my other classes are advanced — except for Phys Ed at the end of the day.” He lowered his voice. “I still haven’t figured out how to hide myself,” the boy said, glancing around nervously. “I feel like some kind of freak.”
“Don’t worry about it,” Michael said cheerfully. “People’ll just think you’ve been eatin’ your Wheaties.”
The boy gave a derisive snort. “Yeah, right. Look, you can get away with it — you’re on the team, and people know you. I’m just...”
“I know, I know,” interrupted Michael. “You’re the fatso faggot.”
Joey’s face reddened. “Don’t call me that,” he muttered.
His friend reached out and gave his shoulder a light, affectionate punch. “Hey, c’mon. I told ya — I’m gonna talk to Coach and make sure Billy leaves you alone. If he gets suspended for fighting, he’ll get kicked off the team. Maybe even expelled.”
“Yeah, sure. The assholes that run this school always look the other way. You forget the time he and his pals threw me and Jimmy Kausler in the dumpster back in May.”
“I rescued you, didn’t I?”
Joey reflected for a moment. That was true. Michael had been his friend and protector for most of their school career together. He sat, chewing thoughtfully. They were an unlikely duo: the straight-A dweeb everybody ignored and the popular, handsome jock everybody wanted to know. But their friendship had endured for more than eight years. Best friends forever.
“Look, Joey — I...” Michael abruptly stopped and then looked over his head, his face lighting up in a wide grin. “Whoa! Hey, Charlotte!”
“Hey, Michael!” said a female voice. “Wow, don’t you look great.”
The boy turned around to find the table surrounded by a half-dozen cheerleaders, each admiring Michael’s physique.
“Madre de Dios!” clamored one girl. “Mikey, you look so caliente! Please, make a muscle for me!”
The boy complied, and the girls squealed with delight. “Oooooh!” said Charlotte, fanning herself comically. “You are so awesomely hot, I’m almost boiling over!”
Joey shot his friend a glance. Michael smiled and shrugged helplessly.
Joey sighed. He scooped the last few morsels from his plate into his mouth, ignoring the soap opera in front of him. Just like always, he thought. Even if our bodies are almost identical, Michael’s still got the looks, the personality, and the charm. It’s just not fair.
“See you around, Michael,” he muttered as he stood up, grabbed his tray, and headed for the exit. “I’ll meet you by your locker after school at 3:30, ‘kay?”
His friend muttered something in response but was quickly drowned out by the din of the lunchroom and the squeals of the girls. Joey slipped through, barely noticing a couple of teens who reacted to his own newly-muscled physique. He dumped the dishes off his tray onto a stack, then slid it onto a side cart and made his way over to the door, nearly bumping into a small figure on his right.
“Hey,” said a familiar voice.
Joey looked over to see the handsome blond boy from earlier in the morning. “Oh — hi,” he said. “Sorry. You’re... ah... Alan?”
“Close. Aaron — from the bathroom, right before homeroom this morning.”
“Right, right — Aaron. So, ah... see you later.”
“Wait!” the boy said quickly. “I thought maybe we could... I dunno, hang out sometime.”
What’s this all about? Joey thought nervously. “Do you know me?”
“Kinda. We’re in second period AP English together, Mrs. Minor’s class. I’m two seats behind you.”
“Right,” Joey said. He gave the boy a curious glance. “You’re in 8th grade?”
Aaron shrugged. “Yeah, I know. I guess I’m a little... small for my age. I’m still waiting for my growth spurt. But I make up for that with my sparkling wit and dashing repartee.”
They both laughed. In the distance, a girl let out a shriek. Joey turned to see Michael standing, letting his muscles bulge through his shirt, pushing out his chest in a ‘most muscular’ pose. Several students clapped and cheered.
He turned back and Aaron was still staring at him. The boy nodded towards Michael.
“You’re almost as big as he is,” he said, matter-of-factly.
Joey nodded sadly. “Yeah. But size isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.”
Aaron smiled slyly. “It is to me. I think you look... really hot.”
The room seemed to be getting warmer. “I uh... I really have to get to my next class.” Joey pushed his way through the lunchroom exit door and out through the corridor, while the smaller boy scrambled to keep up with him.
“AP Science? With Mr. Gibbons?”
“Cool — me, too! Can I walk with you? Maybe we can sit together — if that’s okay, I mean.”
Joey glanced at the boy, who looked at him with pleading eyes. He sighed. Oh, what the hell.
“Sure,” he said finally, grinning. “C’mon.”
Aaron’s face lit up. “Thanks,” he said, his heart beating a little faster.
§ § § § §
By seventh period, Joey’s stomach was growling. He and Michael had carefully prepared for the day, after consulting with Noble. According to the scientist’s calculations, they had to eat at least six times during each 24-hour day. Although they’d managed to consume the equivalent of two lunches at noon, he still had to make it to 3:30. And that was after eating a triple-breakfast at 6AM: eight scrambled eggs and two protein shakes, plus a ration of bacon.
Probably gonna have to eat an entire cow on the way home, he thought, as he made his way down the hallway that led to the gymnasium wing. I’m absolutely starved.
Joey entered the locker room and was relieved to see only a few stragglers left. He made his way over to a seldom-used wing of lockers on the far right side and set down his gym bag.
“Gentlemen!” called a loud voice. It was Coach Rambert, poised with his knuckles on his waist, glaring at them from his office doorway. “You’ve got exactly four minutes to change and get your fannies out on the field. Either that, or you’re gonna run laps all period — your choice.”
Joey nodded glumly. The other boys quickly disrobed and pulled on their school-issued T-shirts and shorts.
He stood off to the side, tugging off his pants but leaving on his jock, which helped keep his large package under control. He threw his clothes in the locker, then glanced around. Only two boys were left, and they were huddled together on the other side of the room. Joey held his breath, then quickly tore off his loose-fitting shirt and pulled on his phys ed T-shirt, which was an extra-large. He laced up his running shoes, slammed the locker door, then jogged outside and joined a crowd of about 50 boys, who were sitting in a grass circle by the track. A tall wooden platform with a horizontal bar and a long rope stood nearby.
The coach blew a whistle, which momentarily pierced Joey’s eardrums. Whoa, he thought. This supercharged hearing of mine isn’t always an asset. He rushed to assume an empty spot at the back of the crowd, keeping as inconspicuous as possible.
“Listen up, boys!” the man barked. “Roll call!” He checked his clipboard and recited a series of names, answered by an occasional “here” or “present.”
“Hartford, Joseph,” the man called.
The coach paused. “Hartford. Were you in my class last year?”
The boy nodded. The coach eyed him, then pushed through the crowd.
“Stand up for a moment.”
Joey grimaced, then stood up. A few boys in the crowd reacted with hoots and whistles when they noticed his muscular body.
The coach grinned from ear to ear. “Outstanding!” he chortled, clapping Joey on the back. “Look at Hartford, here, boys. This is what you can do when you really apply yourself.” He reached out and gripped the teen’s bulging arm. “Holy Chri... I mean, my goodness. You’re how old?”
“Thirteen. Fourteen this coming November.”
“And how big are your arms?”
The boy winced slightly and muttered.
“I said fifteen inches.”
The man examined his bicep. “Gimme a pose.”
Joey complied, and the other boys murmured, momentarily stunned.
Coach Rambert pulled the sleeve to the boy’s shoulder and nodded approvingly. “Closer to sixteen, I’d say.” He leaned closer. “You doin’ the juice, son?” he asked quietly.
Joey shook his head violently. “No, sir. Just working out real hard. Me and Michael Spears — we’ve been doing it... I mean, we’ve been exercising all summer long. Eating a lot, too. All natural.” Well, he thought, aside from the Cerulean formula.
The man walked around him, eyeing him from head to toe as if he were appraising a horse. “You ever thought about participating in any sports activities?”
“No, sir. I’m really... I’m really kinda clumsy.”
“Swimming? Wrestling? Gymnastics?”
The boy shook his head. “Not really my thing.”
The coach thought for a moment, then turned back to the class and walked halfway through the seated crowd, then clapped his hands together. “Alright, boys. Today, we’re going to do some fitness tests: rope climbing, pull-ups, and sit-ups. We’re going to work on this in preparation for the National Fitness Report in two weeks. I want to see some improvement from each and every one of you.” He turned back to Joey and pointed at him. “You — Hartford. Let’s see how many pull-ups you can do.”
Joey blanched, then cautiously approached the horizontal bar. It was a thick black metal post, roughly two inches in diameter, extending across a sandy pit about ten feet wide. He extended his arms up. The pole was less than a foot away from his fingertips, exactly seven feet off the ground.
“Can you jump up and grab it?” the coach asked. “We can bring over the stepladder, if you need it.”
“I can reach it,” Joey said quietly. He leapt up and grabbed the bar. It was warm to the touch, reflecting the hot afternoon sun of the barren southern Nevada desert. He hung there momentarily, his powerful legs dangling a foot off the ground.
Coach Rambert turned to the crowd of onlookers, most of whom stared curiously at the muscular hunk dangling from the bar. “Watch this, boys,” he said. “I bet Hartford here will surprise you.”
You’ve got to fit in, reminded the voice of Dr. Noble from the day before. If you do anything out of the ordinary, let them even glimpse your abilities, they’ll immediately be suspicious.
Joey sighed. He slowly began to lift himself up, pretending to falter, then shook slightly.
“Come on!” shouted the coach. “Hartford, I want to see at least ten reps! These should be easy for you! I know you’ve got the strength!”
The boy slowly rose up about halfway, then paused. I have to do this, he thought to himself. Noble is right.
With that, Joey let go of the bar and crashed to the ground, landing with a dull thud in the dirt, rolling backwards on his ass. A chorus of hoots and jeers erupted behind him. He dizzily lifted up his head, glaring at the crowd. The coach extended his hand and helped him up to his feet.
“Well,” the man said, shaking his head, “I guess size alone isn’t an indication of strength — or athletic ability.” He raised an eyebrow. “You okay, son?”
Joey nodded, fighting back tears. “Yeah,” he said in a small voice, brushing some of the sand off his backside.
“You were PATHETIC!” the coach roared. “Get out on that track and run! I want at least 20 laps before the end of the period.”
“You heard me! Get out there — now!”
Joey felt miserable, but nodded and jogged towards the track, wiping away a tear from his right eye. Gotta keep my speed down, he thought. From past experience with Michael over the summer, he knew both of them could run nearly fifteen miles an hour without hardly breaking a sweat. Better keep it down to half that, he thought, his tennis shoes pounding a steady rhythm down the asphalt surface.
§ § § § §
Forty-five minutes later, Joey heard the whistles blow in the distance and watched the other boys crowd towards the back of the gym.
“Shit,” he muttered, wiping a thick trail of sweat from his brow. He dreaded this moment.
“Hit the showers, guys!” yelled one of the assistant coaches. “Five points off to anyone who doesn’t shower! Let’s go! C’mon, hustle!”
Joey jogged back to his locker. His T-shirt was soaked with perspiration. Better avoid touching anybody, he thought, moving away from the crowd of half-naked boys on the left. Most of them were nearly dressed already. With luck, there’d only be a few remaining in the shower. Much to his relief, there was only one boy by the far right-side locker area, and he was looking away, texting someone on his cell.
Joey quickly disrobed, using his towel as a temporary shield, then tossed his sweaty gym clothes into his locker and trudged over through the shower door. It was a group shower, with enough space for about 20 people. The air was thick with steam, and he took care not to slip on the soaking wet tile floor. He carefully stepped over to the far right, which was relatively empty, and turned on a faucet, letting the stream blast off to the side.
Alright, he thought, keeping his back to the rest of the stall. I just might get through this.
He slipped off the towel and snagged it on a nearby metal hook. The water pelted his skin and felt soothing. Although he’d enjoyed the run, five miles in 90-degree weather was still somewhat exhausting. He leaned up against the shower wall for support, letting the water soothe his muscular back. God, he thought with a flood of relief, that really feels great.
“Yo,” yelled a voice from the entrance, followed by a towel-snapping sound. “Anybody got some shampoo?”
“Shit,” Joey muttered to himself.
He kept his back to the voices, afraid to move. Joey looked down. His dick didn’t stir; though it was still fairly large, it stayed limp, swaying freely back and forth. The boy willed himself to think of anything non-sexual: African insects... prime numbers... the periodic table...
“Hey,” said the voice, a little closer. “Mind if I grab some shampoo? I’m all out over here.”
Without turning his body, Joey moved his head slightly to one side, making sure his groin was out of view as he rinsed off. “There’s some over here,” he said, pointing off to the stall on his left. “It’s all yours.”
“Thanks!” A wet, naked boy jogged over, nearly slipping on the tile floor. He was a bit skinny and pasty, several inches taller than Joey, and his back was riddled with acne. Scott-something, he thought dimly, trying to recall the name.
The boy squeezed off a handful. “Thanks, dude,” he said, starting to turn. “I just needed... holy shit!”
Joey froze. He looked up, and the boy next to him was staring at his crotch. Shit. Joey’s flaccid penis was enormous by comparison. It began to stir. Okay, he thought quickly. Hydrogen’s the most common element, followed by helium. Then oxygen. What’s next: carbon or iron?
“Jesus,” the boy whispered reverentially. “You’re really big. Huge, even.”
Joey turned away. Carbon. Then neon and iron. It was working. His cock stayed still.
“So, uh...” the boy said, casually shampooing his hair, his eyes glued to Joey’s chest and thick arms. “You must work out, huh?”
“Yeah. In fact, I gotta get back to that real soon. Uh, take it easy, uh...” Joey fumbled with his towel, wrapping it quickly around his waist.
“Scott!” called the boy, soap momentarily stinging his eyes. “Ow. Scott Orensky.”
Joey hurried back to his locker. Only six boys were left. Three of them ignored him, while the others glanced up, momentarily surprised. One of them punched one onlooker to get his attention, who turned his head and actually gaped. Joey ignored them, then quickly dressed, keeping his now-throbbing cock out of view, shoving it down into his underwear, then slipping on his baggy sweatpants and shoes.
He grabbed his gym bag, then pushed his way out of the locker room and back down the hall. “Made it,” he said out loud, in a voice filled with relief. “One gym class down... only 159 more to go.” He shook his head grimly. “Jesus.”
Joey caught up with Michael at his locker. “You all ready?” he said breathlessly. “I barely made it out of phys ed alive.”
Michael laughed. “I had a blast in the locker room this morning,” he boasted. “Three or four of ‘em hadda touch my arms — they couldn’t friggin’ believe it! A bunch of the varsity guys are already doin’ deca – that’s one of the big steroids, all the UNLV athletes use it – but I told ‘em me and you were workin’ out naturally.”
That had been the cover story Noble had given them, and they would stick to it for now.
Joey looked around to make sure the coast was clear, then leaned forward and lowered his voice. “So, you have any problem with the... uh... dick situation?”
His friend grinned. “Nope. I had to excuse myself from class for five minutes to, y’ know — take care of business. But nobody saw me. And I kept it limp.”
“Yeah. Me, too. You want to go back to my place?”
“Can’t,” Michael said. “I’m meeting Charlotte at the Ritz Cafe.”
Joey’s face fell. “I thought we were heading to Subway for the special: three foot-longs for $12!” That had been their usual habit over the summer, keeping their protein intake up as per the doctor’s orders.
“C’mon, dude,” the blond boy protested. “Charlotte’s like the hottest girl in school! She’s a 9th grader! I bet she’d give me head and everything.”
“Yeah. Better she gets used to a smaller dick like yours than a big one like mine.”
Michael glared. “Shut up. You’re just jealous.”
“Go get your own girlfriend. That’s unless you want a boyfriend instead.”
Joey felt as if his face had been slapped. “How could you... after everything we’ve been through this summer...”
“Look,” Michael said, starting down the hall, “I gotta go. See ya tomorrow morning, ‘kay?”
The boy turned away. “Fuck you, Michael,” he spat, continuing down the hall.
“C’mon, Joey! Don’t be like that! We still gonna work out later?”
Joey didn’t answer. He weaved his way down the empty corridors that led down to the bike racks on the west side of the school. His was one of the few left, chained to a metal post. He strapped on his backpack, then unlocked the bicycle, hopped on, and rode off in the alley behind the lunchroom, towards a side street.
As he got to the corner, he looked back forlornly at the school, then caught a glimpse of the climbing rope and horizontal bar at the very back of the gymnasium building, the area deserted. He quickly rode his bike over, hopped off, and leaned it against a nearby brick wall. The coast was clear. The boy stood under the bar, eyeing it carefully, then leapt up, grabbing the bar with his strong hands.
Almost effortlessly, he began to pull himself up. “Six, seven, eight...” he counted, moving through a quick set of fifty reps. At last, he dropped back down on his feet, then felt the pump surge through his body. Feels great, he thought, relishing the burn. Remind me to do more of these — good for the deltoids and lats.
He stared up at the bar again. I wonder...
This time, he jumped up and held on with just one arm and slowly pulled himself up. In less than twenty seconds, he completed ten chin-ups — but it took much more effort. He dropped back to the ground, triumphant, catching his breath.
“Fuck you, coach,” he spat, staring at the back door to the gym.
He hopped on his bicycle and began riding towards the horizon.
I bet Peter Parker has days just like these, he thought glumly.
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