Afflicted, The


By built_spill

This is in reference to a story idea I posted in that section. I worked this up over the last couple of hours at work, so it's not polished or proofread and it's my first attempt at this. If anyone wants to contribute to it, or has ideas, you're more than welcome. Please be gentle.

It was about 1:30 am, when I drove up to the gate of the old scrap yard. The directions were pretty much spot-on and I only got lost a few times. The place looked abandoned - nobody had used this place in years. I put the rental car in park and got out. A hundred feet or so down from the gravel path, there was a break in the fence, just like my contact had said.

This had been kind of a weird setup. We'd communicated only via e-mail and he'd sent me a couple of photos of himself in his changed form, but he wanted his identity to stay stictly under wraps. "Family problems," he had said. Usually, that sort of thing sets off warning bells, but I don't know. I had kind of a good vibe. Besides, he was a beginner and I hadn't had to show someone the ropes in a couple of years.

I got to the makeshift gate and let myself through. The place was definitely one of my creepier spots for a meetup. No lights, only the 3/4 moon overhead. I let my eyes adjust a bit, as I looked around for any sign of life.

"Hello, Mark?," I called, knowing full well that probably wasn't his real name. "Anyone there?"

I heard a shuffling and a flashlight switched on from behind a stack of late-model cars which had been crushed flat sometime during the Reagan administration. The light swept around, right into my eyes, blinding me for a second. I covered my face with my arm.

"Ah, geez, turn that off," I snapped. "Are you Mark?"

"Oh, yeah. Sorry," the voice at the end of the beam stammered, as he shut off the light.

He approached me tentatively.

"So, uh, you're the guy from the newsgroup, right? The one with the, uh, well, who, um..."

"Yeah, that's me. Alan."

I put my hand out for the shaking. He did likewise, and I noticed his hands were clammy, almost shaking. He was very nervous. Young, too. It was hard to make out exact details, but even in my non-muscled form I had a good five inches and forty pounds on him. He wore jeans and a dark windbreaker. The hornrimmed glasses didn't help him look any more mature, either.

He looked me up and down. "You don't look so big," he said.

"Well, no, of course not. That doesn't come until later.

His eyes opened wide. "Listen, this was a bad idea. I should go. I'm sorry for wasting your time," he said as he started to walk away.

"What? No, I was in town for business, anyway. Besides, if those photos you sent me were real, then we have a great deal in common. Let me ask you first, though, how old are you, anyway?"

"Oh, uh, twenty."

I just stared at him. He looked down at his shoes.

"Okay, okay. Sixteen."

That kind of stung inside. The poor kid. I mean, it was hard enough dealing with this when it happened to me in my mid twenties. But to be in high school...

"Did it just happen?"

He looked back up at me. "Yeah. A couple of months ago."

"Want to tell me how? I'm guessing you haven't really been able to tell anyone yet." I sat down on the hood of an old Buick.

The look of relief on his face said volumes.

"Okay, I'm not the biggest guy around. I've never exactly been too popular, either. I get picked on a lot. Well, my dad, he works for this research lab that makes supplements for athletes. Last year, he started working on this contract job for the government, secret-type stuff. I'd sneal into his home lab to check out the stuff he'd been bringing home to work on. It was more powerful than what he'd been making for them."

"What was it?"

"This supplement that temporarily boosts stamina, strength that kind of thing."

"Wow. Did it work?"

"Yeah, I tried it a couple of times. It was so cool. There was this rush... I was finally big enough, but it would always go away by morning. I- I, well, I thought I could improve it, make it last longer. I understood my dad's notes and everything. So I stashed some away and worked on it in secret for a few weeks. Finally, I got it to the point where I could test it. That's um, that's when it happened."

"Your first change?"

"I didn't know what would happen. Luckily, my parents were gone for the weekend and I tried it on a Friday night. Or else, well, I don't know."

"Have they found out?"

"What? No! Oh god no! I have to sneak out of the house late at night when I feel it... well, when I have to, um, change."

"Trust me, I know what that's like. It isn't easy."

"No, no it isn't."

"So, your first time, what was it like?"

He finally came over and sat next to me.

"I guess I don't remember all of it. I injected the mixture into my thigh. It burned going in. I felt this rush, like it usually did, but this time, something was wrong. I couldn't stop hyperventilating. Everything felt tight, I thought I was having a seizure or heart attack or something. I couldn't move...I-I came close to passing out, my whole body stiffened then it went black. I woke up and it was light outside, I'd been out for a few hours. I got up and everything felt weird. I tried to get up, but my legs were really unsteady. Then I looked down and, um, well, I'd gotten bigger. And naked."

"How big?"

"Well, that first time, I was about seven feet tall, I didn't weigh myself or take any measurements, I was too freaked out. I couldn't even enjoy it. It didnt' go down after the usual eight hours. I thought it was permanent, I didn't know what to do. Then, about six o'clock on Saturday, I passed out again. When I came to, I was back to normal."

"And that was the only time?"

"No. A couple of hours later, I was taking a shower, trying to relax, when I felt the tightness again, just not as bad this time. Then everything tightened up. I could see my whole body just flexing, shaking all over. Then the pains started and the change happened again. It was pretty quick, only took about five minutes of me grunting and screaming." •

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