By Perioc & Oji Ryojoji
(Comments for either? Send all to firstname.lastname@example.org)
Detective-Sergeant Lou Gray had not, in 15 years on the force, taken a vacation. He never saw the need for it, just like he saw no need in buying a new car.
"It runs fine,” he would say about his DeLorean. "Until it becomes more economical to replace it, I won't bother."
But Captain Bretton had decided otherwise, and forced Gray to finally take a vacation. If it was within his power, he would have forced him to buy a new car, but that wasn't happening anytime soon.
After two weeks in Washington, DC, where he spent most of his time visiting with his sister, an FBI agent, and taking and retaking the tour of FBI HQ, Detective Gray returned home. He had driven, and his silvery DeLorean was now making its way towards his hometown.
"Surprisingly light traffic,” he thought. “I'll be back in record time."
He found himself within the Downtown area of his home city of Montberg. The first thing that caught his eye was a group of a few dozen extraordinarily fat people jogging in a clutch. He squealed to a stop, almost hypnotized by the oddly hypnotic movement of their stomachs, seemingly ready to explode out of tracksuits.
But he snapped out of his odd reverie quickly, and scanned the group. He had only just then noticed not all were the usual yuppies; there were children, older folks, and blue-collar types.
"Weird,” he said, taking to the road again.
He saw more, similar groups of folks running by all over the place. As he passed a fitness club, he saw a multitude of the waist-encumbered working out. He didn't spot even one of the usual, muscleheaded morons showing off their genitalia through the use of extraordinarily tight shorts.
It was only at this point that he realized his was the only moving car on the road. The others were all parked. Even when he had come to a sudden halt earlier, there was no one there to hit him or squeal their horn in frustration.
"Something's rotten here,” he said, pulling his siren from his glove compartment and slapping it on his dashboard. He activated his police scanner, hit the siren (more out of habit than apparent necessity), and ploughed towards PDHQ.
"Dispatch! Dispatch!" he hollered.
"What the...who's that?"
"This is Sergeant Detective Gray!"
"Gray? You're back from vacation?"
"Good, get here on the double! And don't go near any tap water."
"But what's going..."
"Just get here now! The Commissioner wants to see you right away!"
It was a confused Gray that was walking into HQ ten minutes later, having made a mental note of fifteen new sets of joggers on his way there, as well as a second sighting of the first group. If he didn't know any better, he would have said their suits looked even more ill fitting.
Instead of the neat, uniformed officers he was used to seeing, he found a bunch of very fat folk sitting about in PD sweatsuits. A lot of them gave him looks as confused as the ones he knew himself to be giving them.
He didn't ask anyone anything, figuring he'd get the same response he got from dispatch. Plus, he was wondering at the fact that he had been berating himself for what he considered his disheveled appearance on the way over. The hotel laundry had not ironed his white dress shirt or gray slacks as well as he would have liked. His black, leather jacket had become somewhat rumpled by a maid who had tossed it aside to clean his room. He was only happy with his black necktie, which was as perfectly knotted as ever.
Now, instead, he felt like he was overdressed. Despite the fact that had the distinct feeling it was not their fault, he had to fight the urge to demand what the officers were doing in such casual clothing.
"I'd like to think it's not just that the Captain was right when he would joke that the entire PD would fall apart if I ever left,” he thought, entering an elevator.
His suspicions were finally confirmed when he got to the waiting room outside of the Commissioner's office. He knew his secretary, Lupe, quite well. She was a young Hispanic woman, and she was strikingly beautiful. She was slender and well built, with a mass of wavy, chestnut hair. She was always dressed as a professional should be, and Gray could not help but admire her skill at keeping her clothing looking freshly pressed all day.
At first, he wasn't sure if the woman at the desk was she. But the eyes were the same, even if nothing else was. She, too, was clad in a PD sweatsuit, which was a few sizes too small. A sizeable roll of her stomach spilled out from it, revealing a deep navel. Her breasts, always large, were now straining against the stretchy cotton. She had actually been standing with her back to him and the elevators when he walked in, getting something from a file cabinet. She had bent over, causing her slacks to drop some and revealing just the top of her enormous rump. Her thighs were pressed together, and due to this were the only part of her body that didn't jiggle as much as the rest when she walked.
"Oh, Gray!" she had said upon turning and seeing him.
"Lupe?" he asked, scanning her face. Her chin had added a pair of siblings, her cheeks were actually sagging from their weight, and even her lips were a bit puffier.
"Yeah,” she said, dropping into her chair. It let out a loud groan as she did.
"Zounds!" he rubbed his temples. It was not so much to alleviate any mental pain, but trying to focus all his energy to quell the stirring he felt within, a stirring he had truly not felt in an extraordinarily long time. "What in the name of all things good and holy is going on?!"
"Xavier X. Zanarax,” Came the voice of the Commissioner from his office door. He, too, was a bloated version of his former self.
"I'm already hating this case..." Gray said, heading for the office.
"Aside from being the man with the most ridiculous name my ears have had the misfortune of having forced upon them," Gray said, taking a seat, "Who the hell is Xavier X. Zanarax?"
"A goddamned psychopath." The Commissioner replied. "He's why everyone's suddenly doing their best President Taft impression."
"I see." he didn't even pretend he found that at all funny. "And how'd he pull this off?"
"He..." he sighed. "The son of a bitch put a chemical in the water supply."
"Please say this is some kind of twisted joke."
"It is a twisted joke! Just not in the way you want it to be."
"So we've been attacked by a comic-book supervillain?"
"What were his demands?"
"The antidote for one hundred million. In cash."
"Perfect." I shrugged. "Well, we obviously can't comply."
"Of course. Except..."
"This didn't just bloat everyone up overnight. We put this weight on over the course of a week or so. And it doesn't seem to be stopping. It's affected metabolisms and appetites. We need the antidote."
"Zounds..." he leaned his head back for a moment. Finally, his head snapped forward. There was now, however, a fire in his eyes, and a strange grin on his lips. "Well, we needn't pay for it to get it."
"Oh, of course not." The Commissioner smiled. He'd seen that face before. It was the face Gray made whenever his mind was active, when a task presented itself.
Lou Gray was going to war.
"Lupe, I need all the information that's been culled on this psychopath!" Gray said, bursting out of the Commissioner's office. He stopped and turned, hands on his hips. "Now we're positive it's just...just..."
He stopped. His fire puttered out to be replaced by a different one, the one he'd had to hide earlier. H clenched his fists, and felt a cold sweat break out on his forehead. He wanted desperately to know how that huge, exposed roll would feel in his hands, how that body would feel pressed against his own.
"Gray?" she asked. "Gray, you alright?"
"Huh?" he snapped out of it, and forced his work ethic to return. "Yes, right! We're positive it's only tap water?"
"You're sure I can drink everything else and not be affected?'
"Good." he clapped his hands together. "Then let's get to it!"
"He's a former Professor from Ravenwood U." Lupe said, the file out on her desk. Gray had to rush off to the lav when she's gone searching for the file to toss a few handfuls of cold water in his face. But that was sort of moot, since she was leaned forward over the file and he could see right down her stretched-out collar.
"He was a chemist," she continued, Gray straining to concentrate.
"Any idea what happened?" he asked.
"He was developing a weight loss formula on the side, on a grant. His results weren't coming fast enough for the company, though, so they pulled his funding. So he started using college time and materiel to do it. They found out and canned him."
"So reverses his formula to get revenge," he said. "Perfect."
"Changed his name to Xavier X. Zanarax right before he vanished."
"The reason given to the judge: 'It's cooler than Jake Morris'."
"I...see..." he shook his head. "What's the X stand for?"
"He said to the judge, 'the X doesn't mean anything, but it sure makes the name more badass, your honor.'"
"For the love of..." he sat and rubbed his temples. "He's therefore a lunatic and a complete twit. Wonderful. Now how did he fund this new operation?"
"Remember that string of bank robberies from January to March last year?"
"The ones we thought were totally unrelated, yeah."
"We're thinking some or all of them may have been him, simply making sure they had different modes of operation to look different."
"Hmm...Now who said that sometime around February last year?" he grumbled.
"Hey, I backed you on that!"
"I know, I'm just imagining saying that to the Commissioner, the Captain, the Mayor, and about fourteen other people." He placed a hand on her soft shoulder with a grin. "You've always backed me. I've got to thank you for that."
"Anytime." Unexpectedly, she leaned forward and kissed him on the cheek, her round cheeks pressing against his bony face. He swallowed hard and his blood began to boil, but in the good way.
"Right, well...I'm...uh...I'm going to get down to the wharves and see what I can find." he said. "Catch you later, Lupe."
"So long, Lou."
"I wonder if I can convince Lupe to skip taking the antidote once I get it?" he thought, heading for the garage.
The wharves. Despite the current crisis, they were unchanged. Pimps, pushers, and prostitutes were all loafing about. The difference was that the pimps and pushers had replaced designer suits for sweatclothes, and the prostitutes needed much larger clothing to even cover the very little they usually concealed. One had decided she only needed a top, since her stomach hung down so far as to keep her decent on the bottom.
"Well, if it ain't Detective Gray." A pimp said, leaning casually against a wall. "Shit, you ain't human, are you?"
"What the hell do you mean, Greasy?" Gray asked in annoyance.
"You thin, means you ain't even gotsta shower. Everyone got hit, even if they didn't drink tap shit."
"I was on vacation."
"Sure, man." He obviously wasn't convinced. "Suuuuuuuuuuure."
"Look, believe what you want. I just want to know if you've seen hide or hair of Donnie Sleazeball at all lately."
"Still comes down here every night drinkin', lookin' for work."
"Plenty, 'till this fat shit. Bastard wasted all his dough from March."
"What do you mean, March?"
"Did some sweet job in March that paid so good he had forties and pussy for three months. I told him to save some, or invest it. Didn't listen to me, though, and he was dirt broke by June again."
Gray had figured Donnie Sleazeball had been in on one of the capers last year. He was a freelancer who hung at the docks waiting for anyone that needed a wheelman or gunman or whatever kind of man. He was good at what he did, and damn good at keeping shit from sticking to him.
"Gray!" a sultry voice said. "Ain't seen you in a while."
"Been out of town, Rhonda." he replied, turning to face her.
Rhonda was one of the regulars around the wharves. Once waif-thin, though, she was now just as big as everyone else. But most of the weight seemed to have gone to her lower torso; she had positively enormous legs and a backside that you could have set a tray on. The rest of her had grown, too, but it just looked like it was all perched atop someone else's bottom half.
"Playing with other towns' girls?" she pressed up against him, his body sinking into her soft flesh. He did a better job of controlling himself, now, since he didn't want to look like any of his faculties were not entirely his in front of the criminals.
"How could that be, when I don't even play with this town's girls?" he asked.
"True. You should give me a try." She grabbed his hands and placed them onto her huge backside. She pressed them down, and he clenched his jaw. "Some of the guys say I'm even better now."
"Well, I'll bet it's quite a thrill." Reticently, he made her let him go. "But I'm a cop."
"You ought to try and forget that, sometimes. If only one day, for a few hours." She winked. "The rest of them do."
"Since when am I like the rest of them?"
"Seen Donnie Sleazeball?"
"His usual seat."
He weaved his way through the crowd to the bar. The place was always packed, and moving was usually hard, but now the amount of mass in the room had at least tripled. More than once he ended up pinned between two people, who hastily let him go.
"Donnie," Gray said, coming up behind an enormous man who barely managed to keep his mass perched atop a single barstool.
"Aw, shit," he said, recognizing the detective's voice. "What the hell do you want?"
"Info on one of your employers."
"Don't know what you're talkin' about, Gray."
"Last March you pulled a job."
"Lotta people pullin' jobs then."
"I know, but I think they were all orchestrated by the same guy."
"I remember. Everyone thought it was a crock a' shit, even the Commish."
"Except now those people are willing to listen. I think they were orchestrated by a man to fund a project." Gray slapped his stomach, causing waves to ripple through the flab. "Of which you and everyone else in this town are now showing the results."
"You're kiddin'," he turned to face me.
"Nope. Were you or were you not employed by a man named Xavier X. Zanarax?"
"I don't know."
"No, I mean I really don't!"
"I wanna nail this SOB, too." He looked at Gray. "I don't like bein' outta shape like this, I spent my whole life keeping in shape. But I was hired through an agent."
"That bitch on eighteenth street?"
"Well, we'll see what she has to say." he turned to go, and took a last, longing glance at Rhonda's rump.
Agents like Sammi Specs hire thugs for jobs, but are never the ones who came up with them. They're used by real high-profile SOBs who want as few people as possible to know what they did. It was hard work to become an Agent; took a long time before you could get the real high payers to trust you won't rat them out.
And therein was the problem, as far as Gray was concerned. Sammi Li was known as one of the top Agents in Montberg. She'd once done a stretch in prison because she refused to admit who had hired her. Gray had done the interrogating then, too.
He figured, however, there was a chance that maybe, just maybe, she would be pissed about what had happened, like Donnie. She was a knockout by just about any standards. Asian girl. About Gray's height, slender, with nice breasts and a decent backside to compliment them. Long, black hair usually done in a bun in back with long bangs down the sides of her face. And she wore a pair of ornate, late 50s glasses from which her nickname had come.
"Specs!" he called, slamming on the door with his fist. It had been a polite knock thirty seconds ago, but now he was annoyed. "Specs, open the goddamned door!"
He knew she was there, her TV was on. He pressed his ear against the door, and listened hard. Under the sounds of some film, though, he heard something else: running water.
"What the hell?!" he said, jumping back from the door and tearing his gun from his jacket. "Specs, I'm coming in!"
He kicked the spot near the knob as hard as he could, and the door flew off its hinges. Gun held out, he burst into the room with a loud roar, a sort of battle cry. However, there was no opposition. He made his way through the plush living room to the kitchen, and found Specs.
She had pulled the spray nozzle from its place on the sink and just had it in her mouth, the handle taped down so she didn't have to hold it. The formerly-thin Agent was a sea of fat, around a weight Gray couldn't even being to estimate since he'd never seen anyone so huge.
Her stomach was just a huge blob that covered her legs. Her breasts were large, but had spread over her stomach in an almost flat manner instead of getting rounder. Her arms were as thick as car tires, and at the ends were hands so fat he doubted she could wiggle her fingers. She was kneading what parts of her stomach she could reach, which was barely on the sides. Her neck was nowhere to be seen under her chin. Instead of many chins, she just had an enormous roll of flab hanging from her face. Her cheeks were massive, her eyes almost shut by them. Her hair was loose, and partially covered her visage from view.
"Specs..." he sliced the tape with a pocket knife, and pulled the nozzle from her mouth, careful not to let any water drip on him. She said nothing, but let out a whine of protest and tried to reach with a fat-laden arm. The flab hung far down, almost touching the floor.
"Specs, what've you done?"
"Isn't it lovely?" she asked, her voice muffled. she looked down lovingly at her gargantuan body. "I've...I've always wondered what it would be like to let myself go and not care how I looked. But I liked sex with wealthy bachelors too much for that. But now, well...the job's been done for me, so I can let go without it being my fault, you know?"
"I got the internet. I know there are men who like big women. Some fantasize about huge women. But even then, I just figured more people preferred me the way I was. But now I can be a fantasy for some man, and I think that'll be even more fun."
"Looks like you owe Zanarax a lot, eh?"
"What's that creepy bastard got to do with me?"
"We all but know he was the one who poisoned the water supply."
"Really?" she shrugged. At least, that's what Gray figured she was trying to do when the fat on her shoulders wobbled some. "Fancy that."
"I think he's the one that had all those bank jobs pulled last year. It was to finance his research. He hired through you, didn't he?"
"Come on, Gray. You know me better than that."
"I thought I did." He knelt down next to her, and caressed her massive stomach with his fingertips. She shuddered in delight, closing her eyes all the way and letting out a pleased sigh. "But this...this is a bit of a surprise, to be honest. I mean your liking this so damn much. I figure this means you're not exactly how I figured."
"I'll be back, Sammi."
"Can I have the hose back?"
"This?" He shrugged and handed it to her. "Sure, go nuts."
She indeed looked larger by the time he had returned, even if not a whole lot. He was grinning cockily, and twisting something around in his fingertips. It was a tiny vial of brown liquid, and Sammi frowned in confusion when she saw it.
"What's that?" she asked, pulling the hose from her mouth.
"This?" he stopped twirling the vial and pointed to it. "Why this is the antidote."
"Well, we refused to pay up unless he could prove an antidote existed, so he sent us some. Enough for two people."
"How do you know it works?"
"Haven't you been wondering why I was thin?" he prayed she had not heard he was on vacation.
"Well, now that you mention it..."
"Fifteen minutes, I was back to normal. And it didn't even take as much as is in this vial. It'll definitely shrink you down back to your old, slim self."
"You'll have to force it down my throat!"
"Shouldn't be too hard, considering your size."
"Wouldn't I?" he wiggled it. "Where can I find Zanarax?"
"Prick," she sighed. "I haven't seen him since last March, so I can't be sure if this info's still good."
"That raver club?"
"Yeah, he has an office there."
"Well," he sighed, popped open the vial, and chugged the liquid.
"What're you doing, Gray?!" she hollered. "You'll become a skeleton!"
"What, from iced tea?" he asked, dropping the vial. "That's news to me."
He left the room, grinning at the profanities that were hurled at him in both English and Chinese.
Gray hated raves and ravers. Crazy bunch of bastards wasting their lives. Did reality suck? Sure. No reason to hide from it with pills and dancing to hideous music, though. You just have to stick it out and fight what sucks as best you can.
So he was already grimacing when he entered the club, and could his grimace have worsened it would have. The place stank of sweat and stale booze, while strobe lights and garishly-colored lights assaulted his eyes. As usual the kids were there, jumping around like a bunch of hyperactive kittens on crack. Only now they were positively huge, and as they leapt flabby stomachs and breasts moved with them.
"Hey!" he hollered to a raver, trying to avoid the sight of a girl wearing a tube top that seemed ready to blow. "HEY!"
"I'm looking for a man named Xavier X. Zanarax!"
"You've looking for Xavier, man? Wait..." He checked a watch strapped onto a plump arm. "Ten minutes."
"That long?" he sighed. "Shit."
He didn't want to leave, in case his perp made his appearance early. So he stood in a corner, eyeing a pair of large-stomached girls bouncing together, and had to shove away at least five guys asking if he had any ecstasy. He was about ready to shoot the speakers when the music finally came to a halt.
"Lord...if you're up there and you love me you'll make sure they don't come back on."
The strobes stopped, and all the bright lights focused on a spot on the stage. And then, finally, emerged the only other thin person in Ravenwood. He was tall and gangly, and rather young. Gray had been feeling like a codger amongst the kids, and now to find just how young his adversary was made him feel worse. He had short, black hair and a rather well-kept, black goatee. He had dark, piercing eyes that had a wild look to him, and a crazed grin on his lips. He was clad in a black, vinyl jacket with some gray trim, and a high collar that went all the way up to the bottom of his chin. His trousers and boots were the same, glossy black. When he came on stage he raised his arms, and the crowd cheered.
"What's so great about this guy?" Gray demanded of a very chesty young woman next to him.
"This place was gonna be shut down last May, but he bought it and kept it going! That and he's a chemist." She handed Gray a small, green pill. "It's the best damn E I've ever had."
"I see." Gray frowned. "So it's not just bank robberies that supply you with money."
"HELLO CHILDREN OF RAVENWOOD!" Zanarax howled, and the crowd cheered. "HOW ARE YOU DOINNNNNNNNNNNNNNG!"
They cheered again.
"NO MATTER WHAT HAPPENS, WE'RE NEVER DOWN!"
"BECAUSE WE'VE GOT TO LIVE! LIVE, LIVE, LIVE..."
The crowd took up the chanting of "live," while Gray just glowered at Zanarax. he was slowly scanning the crowd, and his eyes eventually fell on the detective. At first he looked confused, then a sly grin crossed his lips.
"Well. A newcomer." he said into the mic, and the room fell silent. All eyes slowly made their way to Gray. "May I assume that you are RPD?"
"You may." Gray replied, glad he didn't have to scream anymore.
"And what do you want, man? Police...man?"
"I know you're the cause of this," he said, grabbing a handful of nearby stomach and giving it a good shake.
"Am I, now?"
"May I defend myself?"
"Of course. We talk. Alone."
"I have an office." he leapt down from the stage, and the crowd parted. There was now an empty column between the two men. Zanarax walked forward and past gray, and the crowd continued to act like the Red Sea near Moses. "Come."
Gray slowly followed, frowning.
The office was a few floors up, and judging by the padding on the outside of the door was soundproofed. Within, however, was the elegant study one would expect a mad genius to have. The oaken walls were lined with bookshelves, which were crammed with books. There were fine paintings on the walls, and some statues on pedestals. In the center of the room was a huge, wooden desk with a wingback chair of burgundy leather behind it. In front were smaller, but still comfortable-looking, chairs for guests.
Leaning against the desk was an enormous, African-American girl. Like Lupe, she was fat all over, there was just a lot more of it. Her stomach was almost down to her knees, and her breasts were almost down to her deep navel. These were barely contained within a black, leather top. Rather like to hooker from the wharves, it seemed she allowed her belly apron to keep her bottom half decent.
"Wait here with Mara, I'll be right back," Zanarax said, exiting through a side door.
Gray said nothing, but slowly sat. he did his best to keep his composure.
"So, you like 'em like Doc Z does?" she asked.
"You like women big." she shimmied a bit, sending her stomach waving to the left and right. "I can tell."
"The look in your eyes, your desperate attempts to look calm." She leaned forward, revealing deep cleavage. she took a quick glance at his pants. "I'm impressed by your control. Figured you'd be harder'n a diamond by now."
"Ah, but the Detective is a professional, Mara!" Zanarax said, having reentered. he was now dressed in ridiculously elegant clothing: a tuxedo with a white vest and bowtie, with a black cloak that had a shimmering, red lining. He looked somewhat like Count Dracula, except that he held a glass of brandy in one hand, instead of drinking blood.
"He wouldn't want to look weak in front of his nemesis." He put his glass down and pulled her into a tight embrace. They kissed long and hard, Zanarax digging his hands into Mara's enormous sides and backside as they did. When he was done, he brushed one of her cheeks with his fingertips.
"Now, the Detective and I have much to discuss. Leave us."
"Of course." she sauntered out of the room, adding a little extra sway to her walk as she did. She barely made it through the door.
"So...what is your name?" Zanarax asked, sitting and taking up his glass again.
"Sergeant-Detective Lou Gray."
"And what do you want?"
"Your head on a pike?"
"You certainly waste no time in getting to the point of a conversation, Detective." Zanarax replied.
"I've got far too much to do to be nice."
"Well, be nice enough to answer me two questions."
"One: how on Earth are you still thin? I was supposed to be the only one."
"I was out of town."
"Sure is. So what's two?"
"What have I done to raise your ire?"
"You've made this city collectively put on a few million pounds."
"But it looks so much nicer, now." He raised an eyebrow. "Judging by how you looked at Mara, I think you'd have to agree."
"Poisoning a city's water supply, even in a non-lethal manner, is a very high offense."
"Notice how you refuse to answer the question, Detective." With a cocky grin, he took a small sip of wine. "So I'll take that as a 'yes'."
"Oh, aren't we clever?" Gray snorted. "You're as cocky as every other doctor I've ever met, Morris."
"ZANARAX!" He suddenly screamed, leaping to his feet, causing some of the wine to splash from his goblet. "My name is XAVIER X. ZANARAX! If you forget it again, I promise you that your temporal lobe will pay for slipping up in its duties!"
"Holy shit..." For the first time, he saw true madness in Zanarax's eyes. But he quickly hid his fear, realizing that being calm would gave him the upper hand in the conversation. "You certainly are an insecure bastard, if you have to show how smart you are by rattling off brain functions. Tho I'm not sure how rattling off ninth grade Bio can prove..."
"SHUT UP!" He suddenly lashed out with a roundhouse kick that would have caught Gray in the side of the head had he not stood up as he saw it come. As it was, it slammed him in the ribs and knocked him to the thin carpeting. "JUST SHUT UP! DON'T MAKE FUN OF ME!"
"What the..." Gray said, sitting up. He saw the Doctor looking ready to pounce on him. But, slowly, he regained his senses. He straightened a lock of hair that had fallen out of place and made sure his goatee was straight. Then he extended a hand.
"I'm sorry, Detective." he helped him stand. "It's just...we're intellectual equals, I believe. I'd like to think we can avoid such childish teasing."
"High school must've been rough on you."
"It...was." He turned away as Gray sat, staring at one of his bookshelves. he pulled a thin book down and began to skim through it as he spoke. "I was made fun of...so very much. Were you studious, Detective?"
"Were you made fun of?"
"Not in any large way, no."
"Let me guess: you were on one of the teams."
"I was a runningback."
"Yes. You were a member of a rare breed, then. The truly studious jock. You were probably the only nice fellow on the team, unless there was another one who studied as much as you."
"Not really, no."
"Yes." He looked up and took a deep breath, before staring down at the book again. "Of course. I, meantime, was only ever on the chess team. I was tall as you see now, but thin as a rail. I wore glasses as thick as a jock's skull. I had a natural affinity for math and the sciences. My...mother insisted on buying all my clothing for me until I was seventeen, and she had worse taste in clothing than a member of an eighties hair band."
He hung his head and slowly turned, the book resting open in one hand.
"I was made fun of...so very much. It hurt so badly. The jocks, their cheerleader girlfriends...every day...the emotional trauma."
"A lot of people put up with that and don't poison cities!"
"You don't understand, Detective. I did survive, sort of. I always thought I'd put my knowledge to good use and make millions and show all of those jocks and their airheaded bitches how a sharp mind is superior to big biceps or giant juggs any day!"
"That was the weight loss formula."
"Yes! And then...then that was taken away from me. My chance to prove to the world how...how superior people like us truly are! But even that was not the last straw, detective. No..."
He dropped the book on Gray's lap, and the Detective soon discovered that it was an old "Grover Cleveland High" yearbook. A picture of a chubby girl had a heart drawn around it in red marker. Under the picture was the name "Mercy Sweetwater."
"Her name was Mercy. Mercy Sweetwater."
"I know, I can read it."
"Huh? Oh...right..." he sighed. "Anyway...she was the most wonderful girl. She was one of my only friends. She was what made me realize my preference for larger women."
"I guess she got teased pretty bad, too, eh?"
"Horribly. Quite possibly even worse than I ever was. The cheerleaders left me alone, usually, letting their boyfriends handle me. But they dug into her. A cheerleader is...so much more ruthless than a footballer."
"Well, they never left her alone. It...it eventually got so bad that she..." he shuddered, and covered his eyes with one hand. "She..."
"She killed herself."
"What?" his head snapped up, his expression confused. "Oh, God, no! No, Detective, she...she...got liposuction."
"Wait...so..." Gray sighed. "This is all about high school vengeance fantasies? It's ruining the physiques of jocks and cheerleaders, as well as making an old flame fat again?"
"Jesus Christ, you're a fucking loonie!" Gray leapt to his feet and began walking around the room, gesturing wildly in his annoyance. "We all had lousy high school experiences, man! But most of us dealt with them like mature, sane adults! My best buddy was a Trekkie who got straight As in physics, but you don't see him throwing a massive tantrum!"
He stood across from Zanarax and watched him. The young man's face was stony, his mouth a severe line. "When you told me who you were, I thought that, perhaps, you would understand my pain." he finally said, looking rather sad. "The great, intelligent Lou Gray. I suppose that being on a team, however, poisoned your mind some. A shame, I was hoping to get you onto my side. LADIES!"
A trio of women waddled into the room from the side door, one of whom was Mara. They were all roughly the same size and build, and all nearly got stuck in the door. One was a young, Asian woman with short, black hair and the third was a redhead with bright, blue eyes.
"Destroy the Detective," Zanarax said calmly, standing in the doorway behind the tubby trio. "Montberg will pay for sending an officer after me instead of just meeting my demands."
"And how will they pay, Zanarax?"
"Why, when I drop my gas bombs on the city." he chuckled in a disturbing way. "They give out a super-concentrated version of my gas that causes near-instant, massive weight gain."
"Oh, hush up! I'm being nice to you, letting you die happy by being destroyed by visions of pure beauty!" he spun, his cape swirling behind him, and stormed out of the room. "Do well, Ladies."
"I'm in trouble." Gray thought, backing away from the approaching trio of fat warriors. "Erotic trouble...but trouble nonetheless."
"Ladies, you can't want to do this," he said.
"Why not?" Mara asked.
"Well...because...look what he did to you!" Hell, that had helped him previously on this case.
"We asked for it," The Asian girl replied.
"I see," was all he said.
"Shit," he thought, "Shit shit shit shit shit shit shit shit shit shit shit shit shit shit shit shit shit shit shit shit shit shit shit..."
A flabby fist flew for his face, but he was able to easily duck it. He watched as Mara lost her balance, apparently thrown off it by her arm's swing, and then fell flat on her stomach, bouncing somewhat as gorgeous waves moved throughout her body.
"Uh...okay..." Gray said, looking up to watch the other two lumbering at him, their stomachs bouncing and thighs jiggling. He just walked to a far corner of the room and watched them slowly advance, looking annoyed that he had moved.
"Damn, I wish all perps were this easy." He walked to the opposite corner to the one he was in, moved behind the desk, and out the door. "I have no idea whatsoever why that was so simple..."
He found himself in the middle of a massive, metal room with wind whipping about everywhere and a loud, bussing sound in the air. He looked up to see Zanarax's zeppelin lifting into the air. There we no dangling lines to grab, or conveniently-placed platforms for him to run on so he could leap for the balloon.
Cursing to himself, he burst from the front of the raver club and leapt into his car, taking off like a shot for the edge of town. His car climbed up a hill, turned onto a dirt road, and came out into a park built near the edge of a cliff. The zeppelin was currently skimming near this.
"I'll gonna miss you,." he said, rubbing the dashboard of his car. "You've served me well."
He got out and grabbed a very large rock from the ground. Keeping the brake down with his foot, he secured this rock to the accelerator with a bit of twine from his glove compartment. The wheels began to squeal as they tried to move the car despite the brakes. The door open, his seatbelt undone, Gray grabbed the wheel and released his hold on the gas.
The car blasted forward for the cliff's edge and the blimp. Gray gritted his teeth and held the car on course as it zipped past 50...60...70...80...88...90...
It was about to hit 95 as the cliff's edge got close. With a yell, Gray leapt form the car and went rolling on the ground. He slammed into a bench, and got up just in time to see his silver car slam into the side of the gray balloon. It punched a massive hole in the side, and Gray held his breath as pure hydrogen flew at him. His car punched through the other side. The hydrogen was stable at the moment, but he knew it could blow at any moment. The massive airship was sinking slowly, insomuch that it was not plummeting like a rock. It was falling pretty quick, though, and would be on the ground in moments.
Gray gunned it for a Park Ranger's shack that stood not too far from his current location, and found their car sitting there. He smashed his way in, hotwired it, and was off.
The balloon somehow caught fire on its way down, not too far from the ground. This just made Gray drive faster, instead of away from the wreck. Zanarax'd had plenty of time to escape during the slow descent.
Gray bombed up the side of the hill, swerving between burning bits of debris and massive, female crewmembers jammed into uniforms that left their luscious midriffs and wide cleavage exposed. They all looked shaken, and had some minor injuries, but seemed fine, otherwise, so Gray kept going.
And then he found him. He was slowly standing from amongst a pile of junk, looking sooty but well. He was clad in his raver suit again, only he now wore a black trench coat over it that had a red lining. A black, WW1-style pilot's cap was on his head, the silver-rimmed goggles over his eyes.
"Zanarax!" Gray screamed, getting out of the car and charging at him. "You are under arrest!"
"Detective!" Zanarax sneered. "I should have known! How the hell did you get past my girls?"
"Well, it would seem they weren't quite ready to fight at such a size."
"Well, I wasn't expecting them to have to go against a thin person! Forgive me for not being omniscient!"
"Just shut up." Gray pulled a pair of handcuffs from his jacket. "And come quietly."
"How will you make me, Detective?"
"Well I do have a..." he reached inside his jacket again, and after a moment's confused searching grimaced. "Gun...sitting in my glove compartment. Damn."
"Well, Detective." he opened a tough box sitting on the ground, that seemed to have been made to withstand such things. Form within he pulled a pair of rapiers. "I've had these for years. I took them with me because, honestly, I guess a tiny part of me knew it would come to this."
He tossed Gray a rapier, and the Detective caught it by the hilt. he looked at it for a moment, then glanced up at Zanarax, who was already in a defensive posture.
"En garde, Detective Gray."
"En garde, Professor Morris."
"ZANARAX, YOU IDIOT!!!"
He charged, blinding by his rage, allowing Gray to easily sidestep him. He got a quick slash in at Zanarax's back, causing him to arch in pain and let out a hiss between his teeth. He spun, his eyes afire with rage.
"Well done, Detective. You used my own, foolish emotions against me." His eyes calmed some, looking more insane than angry. "Not again."
Zanarax slashed, and Gray blocked. They went back and forth, blades connecting and parting in rapid succession. A slew of high-pitched clangs filled the air as they went at it, leaping back and forth, dancing more than walking.
"You know something, Detective?" Zanarax asked at one point, as their blades were locked together, their faces centimeters apart. "We're not so different, you and I."
"What?" Gray leapt back, and Zanarax stumbled. The Detective slashed at this point, but the mad Doctor was up and caught in time. "No, we're not!"
"We both like big women."
"Aside from that, though, we're not one goddamned thing alike!" he sighed. "Christ, you've probably waited your whole damn life to say that, haven't you?! Well this ain't the movies, pal, I'm not going to act like some moron from a movie and say 'my God...you're right!' and falter here!"
So the battle continued. They skipped around flaming debris, their battle halted momentarily as fire stood between them. At those moments Gray could see Zanarax's mad face distorted by heat waves.
It was at one such point that Zanarax did something totally unexpected: he ran forward and leapt right through the wall of fire. His leather did not catch, so he was able to get a good slash in at the amazed Gray. The Detective felt cold steel slash his chest, and he looked down to see part of his tie fall to the ground. The wound was not deep, but blood flowed from it and began to turn his shirt pink.
"You...bastard!" Gray said. "I liked that tie!"
H suddenly laid a flurry of rapid cuts and slashes down on Zanarax, catching him quite a few times on his extremities. H even put a pair of gashes onto the mad Doctor's face, one on each cheek. With a quick thrust, he saw the tip go into Zanarax's left eye.
"And you call me insane!" Zanarax said, backing off as he desperately tried to block.
"Shaddap!" Gray snapped, thrusting his blade.
Zanarax let out a horrid scream as his left eye was pierced. The blade stopped there, though, and did not go into the brain. Grasping his destroyed eye, he sunk to his knees and screamed.
"Professor Jacob Morris, aka Professor Xavier X. Zanarax...you're under arrest by the authority of the Montberg Police Department."
"Does it ever wake you in the middle of the night?" The old man asked, moving a plastic rook. "The feeling that, one day, they will pass that foolish law - or one just like it - and come for you? And your children?"
"What the hell are you talking about?!" Gray demanded. "Where the hell...?! Guard, I wanted the other mad scientist!"
"Sorry." The guard said, letting him out. "We got so many, I always forget which one is in which cell..."
A new door was opened, revealing a cell that didn't look entirely uncomfortable. It had a nice bed, a television, and a desk off to the side. Zanarax sat here, writing a letter. he looked up as Gray walked in, and looked rather sinister. His expression was calm, actually somewhat friendly, but he always looked sinister now since his left eye was an artificial replacement, glowing a bright red.
"Does it ever wake you in the middle of the night?" he asked.
"God, you, too?" Gray snapped.
"The feeling that, one day, Lupe won't like being fat any more and decide to shed all that lovely weight I put on her?"
"Uh...okay, you've got me on that one..."
"But now you have to face it," he turned. "You want the antidote, right?"
"That's what I've been sent to get, yes."
"Well, tough shit." He turned back to the table. "There is none."
"The metabolisms of the people will return to normal in time. But the only way they'll become thin again is the traditional way." He shrugged. "If you want something to get rid of the remaining chemicals in the water, there's some drums in my lab. It's under the abandoned shoelace factory on 28th street. Your scientists can test it if they wish."
"Well, isn't that good news?" Gray said with a small smile.
"That it is." he looked up. "Oh, Eric and I have been trying to get a bridge game going Thursday nights. We got Hannibal in on it, but we still need a fourth."
All Gray could think of as he entered his apartment was sleep. Almost right away, however, he realized someone was waiting for him in the darkness. Tearing his new gun from his pocket, he flicked on the light and aimed.
He lowered his gun the moment he realized it was merely Lupe.
She had put on some more weight in the past few days, much of it in her stomach. She was clad, surprisingly, only in a lacy bra and panties with a sheer nightie over both. But it looked as though the clothes had been purchased some time before, since her breasts looked ready to burst the bra and the nightie hugged her rolls.
"H-how'd you get in here?" he asked, though not in a manner that would indicate any displeasure on his part.
"Amazing how well skeleton keys work," she replied. "And amazing that the Commissioner keeps his in an unlocked drawer."
"So what made you stop by?"
"Look at the clothes, Lou," she stood and walked over to him, purposely adding extra sway to her vast hips. She draped soft arms around his shoulders. "I'm not here on business."
"Thank God," Lou said, flicking the lights off again.