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|The world was dark, an endless void of nothingness. I floated through it slowly, as if I were dunked into a vat of thick syrup. My limbs were heavy, stiff and felt like they were being held down. Little by little, I felt myself floating upright and a towering object began to become visible. It seemed to be a totem pole.
On the bottom was a depiction of a group a cubs standing together in what seemed to be cherry-stained oak. Above that was a bear with a fish in its mouth in maple, I think, and above that was a bear with its paw around a pair of cubs carved in pine. Finally, at the top of the totem was the most ferocious likeness of a bear I have ever seen. It was made out of burnt, blackish wood. It looked as if it was snarling at me, raging at my very presence. The fangs were huge and pointed, bearing themselves in fury and the mouth was wide open in a roar. I felt cold and alone staring at the top of the totem. Then, from the darkness, I heard a voice.
�Why did you hold back?�
I looked around for the voice, but it seemed to envelop me, coming from all directions. Again it asked, �Why did you hold back?�
�I don�t know what you�re talking about!� I tried to yell, but it came out only as a whisper.
�Why did you hold me back?�
A form began to appear in front of the totem pole. At first, it was a shapeless blob. Then it slowly gained arms and legs. Then its face started to come into focus. As its features became sharper, I realized it was me.
�Why did you hold me back? You saw him in trouble, but you held back.�
I looked at myself and tried to form an answer. Yes, I did hold back, but why? I answered, �It wasn�t right. I don�t think it was right for me to do that.�
�Did it feel wrong after it was over? Does it feel wrong now?�
�I don�t know.�
�Was it right for them to abuse that kid in that way? Was it not just what was done to them in exchange?�
My memories flooded with thoughts of the kid. Vividly, I remembered the fear in his eyes, the terror, the hopelessness he felt as he was surrounded. Then I remembered the cautioned relief I saw when they were gone. To be honest with myself, it didn�t feel wrong when it was all said and done.
�Exactly. So why did you hold me back?�
�I don�t know. I just don�t know.� I started to mutter.
�Why are you working to get bigger? Weren�t you happy just playing on your computer all day?�
�Well, yeah, I was happy playing games, but I just needed to do this.�
�I don�t know. Why are you asking these questions?!�
�Because you know, you just don�t wanna admit it to yourself.�
�Yes you do. Think back to your 4th grade year.�
The darkness shimmered and changed around me. Lights began to turn on and the totem pole began to fade away. Fluorescence illuminated the area and suddenly I was back in the hallway of my old school. The bell rung and with horror I said, �No, not this day.�
I saw as my younger self eagerly walked out of the classroom he was in. Cheerful and excited, he raced down the hallway carrying his three books. But I knew that his joy was not meant to last. He rounded a corner and bumped into a large 6th grader, bouncing off of him and scattering his books across the floor.
�Ow,� he stammered.
�You need to watch where you�re going, ya little runt.�
�I�m sorry. I didn�t mean to.�
He got up and started to pick up his books when the kid he bumped into shoved from behind him. It was a forceful blow that knocked him off balance and into a locker. He bounced off the locker and fell to the ground badly, twisting his ankle. My younger self started to cry and a huge kid came over and yelled, �What�s going on here?�
The kid that pushed my former self ran quickly to a room, away from the big kid�s wrath. The big guy then walked over and asked him, �Are you ok kid?� I shook my head no as my younger self did. He then picked me up, not even straining at the effort, and carried me gently to the nurses� office. He sat with me as I cried from the pain, comforting me and taking care of me. Then the nurse came to see me and he left with a reassuring smile directed towards me.
The memory faded and I could feel a tear fall down my cheek. The darkness had returned and again the totem pole and myself stood before me. �What does that have to do with anything?�
�You haven�t even realized it, but you know what exactly that scene means. Tell me, did that kid that made you twist your ankle ever bother you again?�
I thought back and I could honestly say that I never saw him again. But then I didn�t think much about it after it was over with.
�You know why you never saw him again?�
I shook my head no and again the darkness shimmered to another memory. This time I was walking down the crowded hall. There was nothing special in it, just a normal day at the school when the scene froze. My voice overlaid the scene and said, �You never noticed, but a week after you twisted your ankle, your �friend� handled your problem.�
Slowly, everyone in the hallway faded until there was only my former self and the guy who twisted my ankle. I never consciously noticed, but there he was in my memories bruised and beaten a bit. Instantly, I knew what happened. �That big kid that carried me to the nurses� office did that, didn�t he.�
�Yup, he did all that because he couldn�t stand the fact that an innocent mistake was met in turn with such violence. And you couldn�t even ask your protector�s name. You were too busy crying and scared. But you loved that feeling didn�t you. You enjoyed being safe in his big chest. It felt good that someone cared about you enough to help out. And even though you didn�t realize it, it felt good that someone would avenge you, right.�
Once again, the hallway shimmered and faded to black. The totem pole and myself appeared once more, and he looked at me. I was lost in thought, pondering these things that were revealed to me. Stuff I�ve never knew about myself was now laid before me, and I had to respond. But what could I say?
�How big do you want to get?�
The question startled me out of my thoughts, �Wha?�
Another blob began to materialize next to my alter self. It slowly morphed and shaped itself into an exact doppelganger of Arnold. He was wearing his sky-blue Underarmor shirt and his jockstrap. He looked as big and as beefy as he did after his workout yesterday. His muscles were tense and defined and he smiled at me. Then my alter began to grow. I saw myself inflate and expand to match the size of Arnold. I ended up looking nice, but something just wasn�t right.
�This big?� my other self asked in a voice slightly deeper than mine.
I shook my head and the Arnold clone smiled. He began to morph and grow and soon he was my mentor Allen in his olive green shirt. My clone began to inflate to match, his chest expanding, his arms growing, his package bulging until he was Allen�s size and demeanor. My alter had now grown a nice goatee, a high and tight hair cut and sported the look of an adult. It was quite sexy, but still something just didn�t fit.
�How bout this big?� he asked in an even deeper voice. It was masculine and arousing, but I still shook my head no. The Allen figure smiled and began to inflate and morph once again. It grew and shaped itself, enlarging and becoming more powerful until the figure before me was Grizzly in all his bearish glory. His white Underarmor shirt stretched to the point of ripping and his jock barely contained his massive meat. I could see all the beautiful fur covering his body and the muscles rippling like they were right after he finished his workout. My clone began to inflate and shape into a younger version of the sexy bear next to him. I watched as his cock fought against the jock, how his barreled chest threatened to burst from the shirt, how his biceps peaked and his quads expanded, and how his face aged five years to become a bear that most guys would kill to be.
�How about this?� he growled. The voice that came out of his mouth was dripping what masculinity and power. He reminded me of Grizzly so much. The likeliness was so uncanny that I could�ve easily been his son. But there still was something not quite right. I shook my head once again and my alter self asked, �Do you know what you want?�
�I want to be big. Huge. Just massive. Even bigger than Grizzly.�
He smiled at me and began to grow taller and wider. Gradually the clothes lost their battle against the expanding figure. He began to twist and flex, swelling his muscles to inhuman proportions. He growled long and deep, his voice resonating in the lower octaves as he swelled. Finally, he stopped. There stood next to Grizzly was the biggest man I have ever seen. He stood at least a foot and a half above Grizzly and had the musculature of at least three of the big bear. He flexed his arm and the bicep expanded to a size that was larger than Allen�s chest. He bounced his pecs and I swore they were boulders hiding beneath the skin. His stomach was a cross between a six-pack and a powerlifter�s gut, huge, but muscular. His legs were giant trees of muscle, ripped and criss-crossed with veins and his calves were giant diamonds of unfathomable power. His feet were even humongous and powerful. I let my eyes gaze over this giant of a man, with his thick neck, his huge chest and his amazing cock that snaked down almost to his knee.
Then he spoke. �This is what you want, isn�t it,� he said in the deepest voice I could imagine. But then I recognized it. It was the same voice that came out of me when I lost control at the park.
�What does all this mean!�
�I can�t give you all the answers,� my doppelganger cooed. �Some things you have to figure out for yourself. If you can truly understand why it is you�re doing what you�re doing, everything will be a lot easier on you. But remember, what you felt today is a part of you. Nothing about that will ever change. The question is, what is it. Learn more about yourself and even those around you and you�ll eventually come to understand why you�re on this journey. And always keep in mind the totem. It will all make sense soon enough.�
Before I could ask any more questions, the totem pole, Grizzly and my huge self began to fade away and I could faintly hear Grizzly�s and Doctor Martins voice. Then a sharp pain shot through me and I woke up.
I opened my eyes to see myself surrounded by what had to be a ton of muscle and fur.
�Glad to see you�re back in the land of the living Gabe,� Allen commented.
�Yeah, we were worried about you for a while there. You just wouldn�t wake up,� Arnold continued.
Grizzly placed his paw on my shoulder gently but I winced anyway. Doctor Martins spoke up and said, �Well, there�s nothing broken, but you will be sore for a while. Do you remember what happened?�
�Well, I was at the park,� I started, �and I found these kids threatening this little kid. Oh fuck, is that kid alright? Where is he, is he ok?�
I tried to get up, but Grizzly gently held me down, �He�s ok cub. He�s why we found you. He told us how you jumped in and chased away those guys and how you fell afterwards. He was worried about you and thankful for what you did. Now, while you�re resting up, maybe you can fill us in on the details. He seemed a bit jumpy around you, and I�m kinda wondering why."
I took a deep breath and started, �You know papa bear, I�m not quite sure myself.�
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