Backfire

«9»

By Voyager

When the warp speed of Chuck�s running stopped, I found us at the County Equipment Yard. This was the place where the county stored all their heavy equipment (kinda makes sense, doesn�t it?) used in road cleaning, construction, or cleanup. I instantly saw why Chuck wanted to come here. If any place was to have things that were still a challenge to his Atlas-like strength, it would be here. The Yard itself was build upon an old farm, and used most of the farm buildings still to house equipment. Some other modern buildings had been erected as well to house offices and such.

I had been here before once or twice, and was always struck by the security precautions taken. The fence surrounding the facility must have been about 10 feet high, with a perimeter of barbed wire on top of that. I could understand that kind of security in a higher crime area. Where I lived, though? Here a cow tipping made the evening news as a �dastardly crime�. I am guessing some county bureaucrat made some money on this. Some things never changed, city or country.

Chuck seemed not only to have muscles of steel, but also seemed to be as impenetrable as steel. Grabbing the barbed wire, pulling it off the fence, and tossing it aside was nothing for him. What shocked me more was that when I saw his hand, it had no cuts on it, not even red marks from where the barbed wire came into contact with his skin. He then peeled away the fence like wrapping paper from a present, snapped the top rod holding the fencing, and walked in. Only then did the grab hold of my arms with one hand and �unbend� the restraining bracelet he made for me. He pulled me around from his ever expanding back and lowered me to the ground. Luckily he had not grown any further.

That view did not last long, as I still was not trusted fully by him. Before I knew it, his meaty hand wrapped around the front of me and lifted me up and hung me on a foothold on one of the telephone poles, about 10 feet off the ground. I knew I could not even try to break free � first, because I was still incredibly sore from the evening�s activities, second because I feared that a 10 foot fall would break something. This vantage point provided me a perfect view of all the equipment in the yard. I saw Chuck moving towards his first target � a school bus.

As he had done with his truck, Chuck found himself in trouble at first, as he was not aware of the heft of the bus. And, as with the truck, he slowly, methodically, and with great determination lifted the bus, finally able to press the front part of it over his head. He let out a roar of accomplishment as the bus sailed to the ground. After a pause, the second familiar sight began � Chuck going further skyward and his muscles expanding to greater and greater size. He assessed himself, laughed, and went to his other targets.

The scene was played out twice more that night. First, a front end loader was his target, but provided less of a challenge than he had expected. Frustrated by that and the lack of response he received from his body, he surveyed the yard. His eyes came upon what would be the perfect challenge � a cement mixer truck. Apparently, this did not satisfy him fully, however. He walked past the cement mixer to a building. Ripping off the door of the building with ease, he ducked and went inside. A few minutes later I saw the front wall of the building explode as Chucked walked through the wall, carrying in one hand an entire pallet of cement bags. There must have been a half ton of cement on that pallet, and he was carrying it in one hand.

Quickly, he dumped all the dry cement mix in the truck and added water via a fire hose going full tilt that he was able to control with one hand. After that was done, he began to turn the mixer with his hands until he saw everything had been mixed thoroughly. He almost seemed giddy at the challenge.

He had to wait for the cement to congeal and dry. Looking at one of the discarded bags, I saw that it was quick drying cement, so he would not have to wait long. He occupied his time by making sure I had a good vantage point for this triumph. Walking over to me, he uprooted the telephone pole, snapping the wires on top of it. He brought the pole nearer to the cement truck and, with one swift and powerful motion, drove the pole into the ground. This proved to be too much for me, and I became unhooked from the pole and began to plummet to the ground. I was stopped about halfway down by Chuck�s forearm, being involuntarily draped across its mass. Still, without a word, Chuck picked me up from his arm and slung me on the telephone pole again.

A few minutes, then a few minutes more had passed and Chuck was making no progress. Try as he might, the truck itself was just too heavy for him. He turned around and walked away from the truck. I whistled softly to myself, thinking I had just seen the end of his reign. I looked forward to climbing into my own bed and sleeping for about a year and a half.

I was not so lucky. With a faraway look in his eyes, Chuck returned to the cement mixer. With grunts that sounded like they would come from someone who pre-dated recorded history, he began moving the truck. Though it took a full ten minutes, he did get the truck up and with one move and a roar that reverberated through the night, managed to press the back of the truck and cement above his head for reps. Instead of dropping it, though, he began walking, back of the truck still held overhead, towards the center of the vehicle. He rearranged his hands and proceeded to pick up the entire cement truck, tossing it about five feet from he and I. He began panting like an animal after the hunt, then growling and making most muscular poses.

Suddenly the grunting stopped. He threw his arms back as if some force were holding him there, jutted his inflated pecs out, and held his mouth open in a soundless scream. In the space of under a minute, he must have grown three extra feet, and the muscle was piling on him as if it was boiling up under his skin. He was now truly a colossus bestriding the land.

The landscape was silent for a few minutes as life began to enter Chuck�s body again. I can only guess such great growth had taken a lot out of him and he needed time for his body to adjust to itself. He began to look down at himself, at his hands, and at the vista that his eyes could now see. He could look above most treetops and at the mountains in the distance. He walked toward me, each footstep now a mini-earthquake of its own. With a hand that now wrapped further around me, he took me from the telephone pole and walked with me over to the office building. Easily, he tore the roof off the building, flinging it half a mile in distance. �Pen�, he said to me as he lowered me in the shed. I found a marker, suspecting that I would need something thick to produce a line. He saw what I was doing, nodded, and picked me up again, walking me to the silo.

The silo was probably the only building left in the yard that was still taller than he was. So I was right. He wanted to be measured, but all his faculties had not come back to him, so this near pantomime was all he could do. I had better understand and do it quickly, as I now literally could be crushed by one of his hands.

In a familiar move, but now at dizzying heights, he stood against the silo and raised me to his head. Sitting on his head at this point, I made the mark. He held me there as I released the tension on the tape measure I was still carrying with me, letting it drop to the ground. Looking down�way down�I saw the tape was secure on the ground and it was as straight as I could determine. I looked at the tape and gasped. It read, 17 feet, 3 inches. I said that out loud to Chuck, who smiled, sat me on his shoulder, and walked over to the cement mixer, picking it up from where it had been and tossed it again, four times the distance. Luckily his hair was long enough (and clean enough) that I could hold on to that to brace myself against the motion.

He walked over to the scales on the property. These were the scales that were used to weight the trucks before going out to see if they had the right amount of materials in them to patch roads or pour concrete. Putting me on top of a beam near the scales, he stepped on. The scale went wild with numbers, but eventually settled down. When it had finished calculating, it told me that I was witnessing a 17 foot, one ton muscle giant.

He placed me down on the ground, my head barely clearing his mid-thigh. He spoke a single word once again, �More� and then began to think. Obviously this last episode was still affecting his speech center for a longer time than usual. He settled down to sit on the ground, causing another earthquake. I sat down as well, hoping this would cause me not to fall at the quaking he was causing. �Guess he has me trained well�, I said to no one in particular, but in a sarcastic mode.

His eyes lit up. �Train�, he said, and shot up. Hoisting me up, he proceeded to walk, not run, out of the yard. His strides at this height were incredibly long, and we covered ground at an alarming rate. He quickened his pace, but never ran, for which I was grateful, as all that motion of his hands would probably have killed me.

I realized where we were going and slapped my hand to my head. As we were heading to the final and climactic part of this odyssey, all I could manage to say was, �Me and my biiiiiiig mouth�. •


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