CHAPTER 2: SLIDING SCALES
Zach slumped against the wall, watching April in her kickboxing class through the window of the group exercise room. They’d been at the gym for three hours now, and she looked as fresh as when she’d just started!
But her energy was the least of her changes.
He hadn’t entirely realized how far her physique had progressed until she picked up the small weights for her next series of punches. Ridges of muscle popped from her increasingly muscular arms as she launched combinations of jabs and uppercuts into imaginary opponents, along with the twenty other women in the class.
As Zach took note of the numbers on the ends of the dumbbells, his eyes widened in surprise. Each was 15 pounds! No one else in the room was using more than two pounds.
Feeling his mouth go dry, Zach remembered how he used to ogle the other fit, well-endowed women at the gym. Now, however, he only had eyes for his girlfriend. He found himself smiling involuntarily as she finished off the class, grabbing a towel to wipe the beads of sweat from her sculpted body.
She strode toward him, a bright smile painted over features that somehow seemed far more attractive than they had even yesterday. She gave him a peck on the cheek, the hint of a smile forming on her fuller lips. As she straightened to her full height, Zach gasped in shock.
Not only had she grown ridiculously fit over the past two weeks, she was now just as tall as he was! When had that happened!
Swallowing hard, Zach chided himself for not noticing that sooner. Getting fitter was one thing, but growing taller? At her age? That wasn’t natural, was it?
Unable to help a further investigation into the full extent of changes that he’d noticed but not fully comprehended until now, Zach’s eyes descended April’s ever-improving figure, letting them linger on sports bra-straining cleavage that had inexplicably grown in proportion with her muscles over the last two weeks.
Zach had taken her to buy this bra just three days ago, after she had complained of tightness in her old ones. He could scarcely believe that it was already looking insufficient to the task of containing her large, ultra-firm breasts. Still, it was doing better than the workout top that now barely met the top of her yoga pants, pulling up occasionally during the more energetic portions of her workouts to reveal the chiseled abs beneath. Made for a girl with a torso several inches shorter and a bust several sizes smaller, its seams were unraveling with every motion of her rapidly improving body.
As April turned to fill her water bottle, Zach glanced around the room, noticing several pairs of male eyes follow her to the drinking fountain. Suppressing unfamiliar feelings of insecurity where his girlfriend was concerned, Zach followed her, shielding her from the view of the rest of the gym until she finished bending over.
“Why don’t we get out of here, April? Three hours is plenty, don’t you think?”
Her face fell. “But I haven’t even gotten in a proper weight workout yet! Don’t you want to see how much I can lift today? You haven’t seen what I’m up to these days…”
It was true. He hadn’t. This was the first time the two of them had come to the gym together and while he had humored her tall tales of ultra-rapid gains at the gym, he hadn’t actually believed the extent to which she claimed to have progressed. Still, he hadn’t wanted to discourage her. She had been looking trimmer and more muscular with her long, frequent workouts recently, and Zach had been enjoying the new her.
“Please? I would so love it if you stayed to watch what I can do…”
April’s excitement, combined with her far more attractive visage, worked to sway Zach to her wishes. When he nodded his acquiescence, she clapped her hands together eagerly, then rushed to the dumbbell rack, pulling a pair of 50-pound dumbbells free with surprisingly little difficulty.
“There’s a free bench over here,” Zach pointed. “I’m assuming you want to work your chest, right?”
She smiled, making no movement toward the bench. “Actually, I was going to do biceps. I can’t do chest with just dumbbells anymore.”
Zach looked dumbfounded. “Biceps? But that’s like twice as much weight as I use for…”
His words trailed off as April flexed her well-defined arms into action. The weights rose and descended with machine-like efficiency, her muscled core and quads tensing into defined relief as her arms continued to churn out repetition after repetition. Finally, as she neared twenty curls with each arm, they began to quiver with effort. Still, she managed another ten with each arm before dropping the dumbbells to the ground.
To Zach’s amazement, after a brief rest, April did another two sets, adding a few additional repetitions each time before moving on to work each of her other muscle groups. Each weight she chose was at least twice what Zach himself could lift, at least for the number of reps she was doing.
Dazed and feeling slightly queasy, Zach leaned against the wall. Did this mean that his girlfriend was stronger than he was? Part of him relished the idea, but an equal part felt threatened by it. This was April! His cute, insecure little girlfriend. How was she developing such strength so quickly! Granted, she had suddenly been inspired to work out for hours each day. That was bound to produce some rapid improvements in her body. But to be stronger than the average man in two weeks? That seemed to be pushing it a bit. And it didn’t explain how her breasts were growing. Or how she was getting taller.
Something tugged at the edge of his consciousness. A thought. Something unusual had happened right around the start of all of these changes…
Before he could quite grasp at the elusive, ephemeral thought, however, he was distracted by the sight of April exiting the locker room. The fabric of her jeans flapped loosely against the front of powerful-looking legs. As he looked closer, he noticed that the seams running the entire length of her pant legs were torn apart.
Looking up to meet her eyes, Zach gave April a quizzical look. She shrugged. “They ripped a little when I tried to get them on today. My legs were pretty pumped after those squats.”
Ripped a little? They now looked more like some sort of long, denim belly-dancing skirt than pants. There was absolutely no way those slender skinny jeans could fit her legs now, rippling, as they were, with feminine sinew. As she passed him on the way to the entrance to the gym, Zach saw that half of her sinuously muscled ass was visible! He gaped as her shredded pants shifted to reveal tantalizing glimpses of her tanned, toned flesh as she strode forward with un-April-like confidence.
“April!” Zach whispered urgently. April cast him a questioning glance, then followed his gaze to her exposed backside. Her eyes widened in horror as she realized how exposed she was, and she quickly slapped both hands over their trim, iron swells. Thinking quickly, she slipped off her jacket and tied it hurriedly around her waist.
She blushed as she looked into Zach’s wondering eyes and shrugged.
“I can’t believe you’re not sore after that workout!” Zach told April from the bedroom as she slipped on a new top for their weekly trip to the bar. The red, low-cut blouse was more daring than anything she’d ever dared to wear before, but she was determined to show up that waitress this time. She was beginning to think that she might have the body to do it now.
That belief, however, did little to quell the butterflies fluttering her stomach. She was so unaccustomed to showing her body. She had always known that it was inadequate, weak, and just barely attractive enough for a good man like Zach to show the slightest interest in her. And even that had always disappeared the moment a prettier girl had entered the room.
Now, however, she knew she was becoming better looking, possessing an athletic appeal of the sort that she knew Zach liked. Clenching her stomach and pulling up the hem of her blouse, she watched in delight as it exploded into cobbles that would make a crossfitter proud.
Slipping on a skirt that fit almost ridiculously tightly around her sleek, rounded hips and tight, firm tush, she marveled at how far she’d come in two short weeks of workouts. She’d lost 20% bodyfat, bringing her to single digits if the measures at the gym were to be believed. She had developed a body that even she had to admit compared favorably to those of fitness cover models. And in record time! Not only that, but she was three inches taller and had actually gained a couple of cup sizes despite shedding pounds of body fat.
It didn’t make any sense that so much about her body had changed, but the changes were undeniable. She had just had so much energy lately! Able to conquer grueling, intense workouts with increasing ease, she had become stronger. Bustier Taller.
The Zach trifecta in the flesh.
Grinning, she looked into the mirror, admiring eyelashes that seemed longer, lips that seemed fuller, and a nose that seemed more delicately shaped. Crossing her arms under her substantial bust, she watched with satisfaction as it bulged from the scoop neck of her top, an alien fierceness lighting her eyes. Let’s see that waitress Laura take Zach’s attention away from her now!
April emerged from the bathroom accompanied by a billow of steam, like an actress taking the stage in a lavish, high-budget, pyrotechnic production. She reveled in Zach’s stunned reaction.
Feeling an unfamiliar sense of pride welling within her, April launched into a quick, hesitant twirl. She stumbled, however, with the foreign movement, quickly chiding herself for getting carried away with the attempted Julie Andrews routine. Cheeks flushing, she hustled to the entrance to the house before selecting her sexiest 3-inch heels. Slipping them on, pleased that her feet hadn’t grown significantly larger as the rest of her had, she watched Zach approach, looking down on him from her stiletto-assisted 5’11” height.
As she turned to open the door, she couldn’t help putting a little sway into her hips as she walked to the car. It wasn’t really like her, but she was feeling pretty for once, and she couldn’t resist. This time, she didn’t even wait for Zach to open the door.
Zach sat down in the driver’s side seat but, rather than turning on the car, turned to April, now ready to broach the subject that had dominated his thoughts since this morning at the gym. “Don’t you think your recent growth spurt is a little unnatural?”
April frowned before replying defensively. “Unnatural? Not really. I think it’s amazing! Don’t you?”
Zach considered that for a moment. Amazing was definitely the word for it, but for some reason he couldn’t bring himself to acknowledge that. At least not in a positive light. Not to her face.
“Actually, I was thinking that we should take you to the doctor.”
“The doctor?! Why? I’m healthier now than I’ve ever been!”
“Because it’s not normal, April! Getting fitter is one thing, and I’m glad for that! But you’re getting taller too! Your bones are growing! And your breasts!” His voice was rising as his words became more impassioned. “Maybe you have some sort of hormonal imbalance or something…”
“Hormonal imbalance?” April huffed. “If I do, then it’s the best medical condition ever! I’m actually feeling good about myself, Zach. More than I ever have before! Can’t you be happy for me?”
“I am happy for you,” Zach half-lied, scowling with displeasure as he met true resistance from April for the first time. He was used to her simply acceding to his wishes with timid acquiescence. “I’m just saying it’s not normal, that’s all.”
April crossed her arms over her impressive chest and turned to glare out the windshield of the car, no longer looking at him. “Fine. I’ll go to the doctor.”
“Great!” said Zach, sounding relieved but for the slightest hint of a tremor in his voice. “That’s all I ask.”
When April took a seat at their usual table, pulling off her coat to reveal the impressive swells of her breasts in her new scarlet top, she noticed eyes from every corner of the room zeroing in on her chest.
The attention felt uncomfortable at first, but as she relaxed into her chair, watching Zach’s fluid gaze flow to her buxom frame as well, she couldn’t help but smile. So this was how it felt to be a pretty girl? Drawing looks from nearly every guy in the room?
She fought to suppress a blush, fanning her face surreptitiously as she crossed longer, stronger legs.
“The veggie burger, right?” said Laura to Zach with a wink as she strutted toward them, her large breasts rippling with each strike of her foot.
Surprised, Zach tore his eyes from April’s cleavage to blink at the comely waitress. He nodded.
“Salad again, toots?” she mumbled to April, scribbling in her notepad without so much as casting sidelong glance at April.
“Actually, how about a steak.” April’s unexpected order drew a surprised look from Zach. She’d never ordered meat before. Certainly not a steak!
April watched as Laura’s brows furrowed. The woman’s chin rose, eyes rolling upward to focus on a pair of breasts large enough to rival her own, affixed to a chest far stronger to give them the added benefit of natural support. Her eyes widened in disbelief.
Swallowing audibly, Laura nodded wordlessly, her eyes finally finishing their upward journey to meet April’s amused gaze. She stumbled backward a step before catching herself, then walked away, shaking her head.
Delighted, a surge of energy bolstering her growing confidence, April turned to face Zach. His eyes were on hers, slipping occasionally to her lipstick-covered lips. They were not, however, on the voluptuous waitress who was rushing to the kitchen.
The trivia contest began shortly thereafter. April looked at the television screen as the first question flashed onto the display. “Who was the author of Benito Cereno?”
“Herman Melville,” she whispered across the table to Zach, the answer forming in her mind before she really even gave it much thought. “The same author as Moby Dick.”
“Are you sure?” asked Zach suspiciously, remembering April’s flub on the poetry question two weeks ago.
This time, however, April nodded vigorously, her eyes filled with certainty, unlike before.
Zach gave her an appraising look, then nodded, jotting down the answer on their sheet of notebook paper.
“What is the atomic number of Boron?” came the next question.
“5,” said April instantly in a hushed voice. How had she known that? She hadn’t even been very good at chemistry! But it was as if there were a perfect image of the periodic table in her mind. All she had to do was rove her mind’s eye over each box until she hit the right element.
Zach hesitated for a moment, giving her a confused look, then shrugged and wrote it down.
“What was the first battle between Ulysses S. Grant and Robert E. Lee known as?”
This time April had to think about the answer. She had watched that documentary on the Civil War years ago…
…playing the relevant scene at accelerated speed through her mind, she quickly found what she was looking for.
“The Wilderness!” she hissed excitedly.
Zach raised an eyebrow before whispering. “Are you sure? History is usually my thing, remember?”
“Well, what do you think it is then?” April retorted quietly.
Zach racked his brain, but couldn’t really remember that answer. Unable to come up with a better answer, he wrote down April’s.
As the questions continued, April found that she could recall the answers to each in turn, regardless of subject. Able to access memories with unusual clarity, her thoughts abnormally lucid and agile, she knew instantly that she was correct every time she whispered an answer to her boyfriend.
When they were announced the winners with a perfect score at the conclusion of the evening, April gave Zach a dazzling smile, before bounding from her chair to retrieve the gift certificate that constituted the weekly prize.
Zach couldn’t help but return her infectious smile as she marched back to their table, prize in hand. She leaned over and gave him a kiss on the cheek, her first ever public display of affection with him, modest as it was.
When they arrived at home that night, Zach taking his usual position back down on the bed, April surprised him.
Looking hesitant at first, April set her jaw then pulled off her top, letting her large, braless breasts bounce free. Zach gasped as his eyes devoured her super-fit form with a simmering desire she’d never before seen within them. Warring with her reserved nature momentarily for a second time, she finally threw caution to the wind and leaned down to kiss him passionately.
As she sucked greedily on his lips, she wriggled out of her skirt and slid her toned, muscular legs down either side of Zach’s narrow hips. Feeling exceptionally frisky as the two continued to swirl pleasure into each other’s mouths, she gave his body a hard, aroused squeeze of her powerful thighs. Zach broke their kiss momentarily, his face contorting into a grimace.
“Not so hard!” he exclaimed.
Chastened, April relaxed her legs until Zach resumed kissing her. April’s hand descended Zach’s stomach, pausing momentarily on his belt, then resuming its previous path until it arrived at his zipper.
As her hand roamed his body, Zach’s did likewise. Fingers reaching out, they pressed into her cobbled abdomen. It was so firm! Almost completely unyielding! How were her muscles this dense? As his fingertips found the grooves between each hard brick, he felt his heart flutter, his erection surging to become absolute iron.
April was built like a superhero from a comic book, with lean, defined muscles covering every part of her ultra-fit body. She was exactly the kind of woman he had always been most attracted to. Breathing in the heady scent of her perfumed hair as it fell around him, he ran his hands up her torso until they glided over the smooth, spherical surface of her amazing breasts. He felt April shiver as his fingers brushed her aroused nipples.
Pulling the small metal tag of his zipper down, she fished his rock hard member from his boxers.
Shifting her hips until they aligned with his throbbing cock, she pressed herself into him. For the first time, she felt Zach’s hot, rigid flesh part her moist folds.
It was heaven.
April and Zach moaned in unison as she slid herself onto him, clenching him tightly as she ground down his length. April gasped as she felt him fill her, the sensation breathtaking, better than anything she’d ever felt before.
Zach groaned as her hips met his, his mouth descending April’s neck as he felt her steamy breath heat his forehead.
“Oh God!” she breathed as she began to pull her hips away from him once more, preparing for another thrust.
“Mmmmm…” Zach’s reply came through clenched teeth as he nipped the sensitive flesh of April’s neck.
April rode Zach to a shaking, shuddering climax.
As she rolled off him to her side of the bed, the two of them panting heavily as they wiped at the beads of sweat on their brows, April made a breathy proposal. “Want to go for another hike tomorrow?”
“Sure!” Zach replied, staring at the ceiling, an awestruck expression on his satiated features.
“So this is why you wanted to go hiking? To come back here?” Zach said in an accusing tone, not entirely sure how he felt about this return trip to the strange clearing.
Zach kicked the odd monolith, earning a glare from April who lowered herself to a squat next to the strange object. She reached out, tracing her fingers along its edges. As her soft skin made contact with it, Zach saw her tense and shiver. Her nipples drilled into the thin technical fabric of her top, and she shivered in spite of the day’s heat.
“Why do you like that thing so much?” asked Zach, watching her reaction with an interested but disapproving scowl.
“I just…” April stammered, seeming dazed by the contact with the monolith. “…feel this connection…”
“Connection?” Zach raised an eyebrow. He dropped to his knees and poked a finger against its surface experimentally.
He felt nothing.
“Do you see that?” came April’s awestruck voice.
“See what?” Zach asked, confused.
“The colors!” she replied. “Before it was black, but now it’s practically overflowing with vibrant colors!”
Zach examined the surface of the monolith. It was a smooth, perfectly uniform black. No colors.
“Um, it’s still black, April.”
She gave him a suspicious glance, opening her mouth to say something, then thought better of it, biting back her words out of long habit.
“I can’t believe it’s still here!” said Zach, rising to his feet once again. “After you told the ranger about it and everything.”
“Yeah,” April said absently, grabbing the monolith on each side and lifting. Even with her new strength, however, it was too heavy to budge. Doubling down on her efforts, she actually managed to wobble it slightly. But still, she couldn’t lift it from the ground.
Giving up on her attempts to move the monolith, April rose to her feet, her mind returning to their conversation. She hadn’t told the ranger about the monolith, though she’d led Zach to think she had. Something had told her to keep its existence to herself. “Maybe they couldn’t take it out of here. It’s pretty heavy.”
“Pfft,” said Zach, kneeling down to grip the strange, dark tablet with both hands. April had managed to wobble it slightly, but Zach couldn’t seem to budget the thing in the slightest. It was as if it weighed 1,000 pounds! How could something so small be so heavy?
As gave up trying to move the monolith, he looked up to see April’s smoldering eyes looking down on him. She looked incredibly turned on. Was she actually becoming aroused by this thing?
He felt April’s fingers ball into a fist, bunching the fabric of his shirt in the center of his upper back. She pulled him to his feet, then planted a long, sensual kiss on his lips.
By the time she broke the kiss, Zach was left panting for air, wiping his saliva-moistened mouth with the back of his hand. “Wow, April! What has gotten into you lately!”
“Wouldn’t you like to know?” she gave him a flirtatious wink before bounding off into the bushes for home.
Zach stood there, stunned, for a moment before following her. What had come over his timid little girlfriend?! It was like she was becoming a completely different person!
When they reached the trailhead, the two of them walked into the ranger station, where April raced off to use the bathroom. As she disappeared, Zach walked over to the desk, where the ranger named Harvey, whom April had spoken with the previous week, looked at him expectantly.
“Hi,” Zach began. “I was just wondering what you found out about that strange black monolith up in the woods.”
“Beg your pardon?” asked Harvey, cocking his head as his smile faltered slightly.
“The small black tablet thing that my girlfriend reported a couple of weeks ago…?” Zach prompted.
Harvey’s brow furrowed. “As far as I know, we haven’t had any reports about anything like that.”
Zach frowned. “Maybe she spoke with another ranger?”
“Was it on a weekend?”
“I’m the only one here on weekends, sir.”
Zach felt a strange emptiness form in the pit of his stomach.
April had lied to him.
“Nevermind then. Sorry. I must be confused.” Zach backtracked, his mind attempting to process this new bit of information. As far as he knew, April had never lied to him before.
Harvey’s quizzical gaze followed him as he walked back to the area near the bathrooms. When April emerged from the door, a radiant glow seeming to light her skin, Zach considered challenging her about her falsehood.
But he decided against it.
Could the monolith be the cause of her changes? She had touched it the first time, but he had not, and she had changed, while he had not. She had seemed to see colors inside it the second time around, whereas he had not. The changes in her body were so unusual, so fantastic, that maybe this monolith thing really had been the cause. Something out of the ordinary was certainly going on.
But this time, he had touched it too. And if it had done that for her, what would it do for him?