Description Rod’s only joking about a permanent steroid that gives you your dream body and a better life along with it, but his eccentric inventor friend, the Professor, takes the idea seriously anyway.
|Updated||05 Oct 2019|
“The problem with this,” said the professor, “is that steroids are only temporary.”
“What?” I asked.
“The problem with you taking oral steroids is that they are only temporary.”
“Well, Doc,” I replied, “Life is only temporary.”
“Point taken. Point taken,” said the professor. “So you are postulating that if you had ‘permanent’ steroids, your life would still end in old age, so a proper solution to this defect is not just permanent steroids, but also youth preserved.”
“Well, wouldn’t that be nice?” I said. “Why not make me 12 inches taller and give me a giant dick and make me completely healthy in every aspect? Being super muscular and athletic would be nice,” I laughed. The thought was ridiculous to me.
“And increase of intellect and emotional wellbeing, too.”
“And really great mind-blowing sex, while you’re at it.” I didn’t usually say stuff like this but the Doc was off on one of his crazy “what if” binges.
“Yes, yes,” said the professor. “I see your hypothesis completely. Increase all the good aspects of human life. A permanent steroid would need to do all of these things to actually ensure a happy life—at least, the possibility of a happy life. A happier life than previously possible.” He was funny like that, editing himself when he talked, as he figured out whatever he was talking about. He liked vigorous discussions.
“Yeah, Doc,” I said. “But how? Someday they’ll figure all that out but we… I’ll be dead for a couple of hundred years by then.”
“I see the complexity of what you propose. But the human body is capable of all of these things, it’s just a matter of directing these things.”
“But how, Doc?” I repeated.
“Crispr gene therapy, I would imagine.” He picked up his coffee cup and walked over to the hot water dispenser. I shuddered. Yup, he took 4 giant heaping teaspoons of instant coffee and stirred it into his 16-ounce coffee mug with hot water.
I mean, the guy had money. He could get a freaking espresso machine if he wanted. Or a French press and a coffee grinder. I’d asked him but he said the point was the caffeine. He gulped own a bunch of it, still hot, and grimaced.
For such a rich, smart guy, he sure lived a lousy life by a lot of ways you could measure it. But then he was at the computer, working… that meant he wouldn’t need me again today.
Still, I liked the guy. He was a bit prickly at first, but if you just listened to him he would listen to you right back, respectfully even, which was very courteous considering he was a freaking super science nerd.
I worked for him part time, picked up his mail and packages every day at the mailbox (he was always worried something would be stolen from the regular mail) and I shopped for him and booked the gardener and the pool maintenance (not that he ever used it, but I did, ha ha). Okay, so we were kinda friends, although it wasn’t really possible, you know, because his head was always in the clouds, as my Mom would say. Occasionally he’d come down to earth and talk like a human being. Though he was a bit paranoid, always worried about his work being misused, so he usually developed something and then buried it.
So that was the start of it all, but I didn’t even know it. Time went by. I was in the beginning of my junior year in high school, and yes, in case you missed it, I’d ordered some steroids from mail order and was taking them. They seemed to help with the gym, although I didn’t blow up or anything like a bodybuilder. But it made it possible for me to get a decent workout. I was short, about 5’4” tall, and about 112 pounds. 10 pounds of that was probably from the three months of steroids I took in combination with my workouts.
Only one weird thing happened, in those three months. The professor asked me for a blood sample for his work. I said sure, because he paid me a stupid amount of money for about two hours of work Monday thru Friday.
So he took a bit of blood in a syringe, asked if I was taking steroids, and I told him I was just about done with the bottle and would lay off for about three months before I tried any again. He said something, but my mind was on the needle in my arm, so I missed whatever he was talking about. Not that I understood half of it.
So things went back to normal for another two months or so. We were just past the Christmas holidays, which I liked, because it meant the days were getting longer and we were heading into Spring. Well, at least we were through the depths of winter. I was a summer-loving, pool and/or beach party-loving guy.
And yes, I was gay, and out. So much easier these days, I think. Although the conservatives really were trying hard to turn back the clock. I mean, what if they managed to get the Supreme Court to reverse the gay marriage decision? What about all those families, and the families and friends of those families? I wondered if there’d be a supreme court building at all, the day after something like that. I think 80% of the US would show up and take it apart brick by brick.
I really don’t have more anger than anyone else “poisoned by testosterone,” as my sister would say. Although I did get pushed around a bit being short and small and gay. I had it pretty easy, compared to some, I know. But still, it did make me angry about those sorts of things. Deliberate cruelty just flipped my crazy switch. Not that I ever did anything crazy in return. But I felt like I could when I witnessed something like that. Bringing in a third-party authority figure usually worked okay. Amazing how bullies would cower and hide when authority showed up.
Okay, so I was hanging at the gay/straight student alliance meeting, which was actually all gay, most days, but when we first started up some straight friends would come to the meeting, to make the point of supporting their friends. Although I think they were surprised, you know, that was probably the first time they had any idea what it was like to be gay in a world of straight people.
Gene and Ray and Terry were there. The three out lesbians in the school were absent, but we were just there to just… be there. Usually we went for snacks afterwards, which was kinda the point. Being seen in public, being respected in public. So we did that. Ray was the tallest, about 6’ although he claimed 6’ 1½”—yeah, maybe in his shoes with lifts. He was Irish-Italian so he had darker skin, reddish brown hair and green eyes. Yeah, he was kinda hot.
Gene was almost my size, but chunkier, to be kind. He probably had 25 or 30 pounds of fat he could lose. He was the typical generic white fat kid next door, but that was no reason not to be his friend. I always asked if he wanted to go to the gym, but he hated the idea. Not sure if it was because of exercise and hard work, or because he was afraid of sticking out like a sore thumb in amongst the hotties. Hey, some of them like plump guys, right? Weird, I mean, I just don’t see it myself, because I associate being fat with being unhealthy, but that’s not always the case, you know? I knew a guy who was fat but on the swim team and I’m pretty sure he could beat me easily in a foot race. I have no idea why he remained fat, I mean, the way he swam. But someone told me he had a sweet tooth and loved cake.
Hard to hate him for that, you know? Where was I? Oh yeah, sorry, I get distracted because… well, we will get to that.
Terry was an Asian kid, I think mostly Japanese but he confided in me he was a quarter Chinese, which was very much looked down on in Japan, but anyways he was taller than Gene and I, and he was kinda ripped. He was handsome. Oh, and he had a big dick. I mean, not gigantic or anything but definitely big. Which disproves that stereotype. I never got together with him at that time, ‘cause I don’t think he liked little guys. Sometimes I think life is just cruel.
Well, I went to french fries, cherry pie and soda with the guys, and then I went to the Professor’s.
I went in and the place was dark, and then I saw the back door hanging open which just freaked me out. I mean, it was innocuous. But I knew the Doc was careful about security. I turned on the lights and then I freaked out for real.
The lab was mostly cleared of everything. I mean, all the Doc’s sample cabinets were empty, his notebooks were gone, and his computer and the hard drives were gone too. There was some broken glass on the floor and some liquid. It was still wet. It was clear, not blood, thank God, but I was thrown. I was gonna call the police… and then I thought, no, what if the Doc cleared out on his own? I thought hard for a few minutes about what I should do.
Then I realised if the Doc left on his own, it was in a hurry and he was on the run. If he had been taken by someone… and then I remembered the security cameras. There were some hooked to the missing hard drives, but there were two the Doc had had me put up to watch the driveways and front lawn. They had memory cards.
By now it was getting dark, so I didn’t waste any more time. I grabbed the ladder and the toolkit and pulled the cameras off the house and then thought for a second. I decided to set things right in case the Doc came back, but I shoved the cameras in my backpack, and then in the darkening lab I picked up the larger pieces of broken glass. I only cut myself once, barely a paper cut, really, and swept up the smaller pieces and put them in the waste bin, straightened up everything where it was out of order, and then I exited the back and locked the back door with my key. I even locked the deadbolt.
I was gonna head out to the street, but there was a dark car that drove by the front and that made me plenty nervous. I mean, it could have been anyone with a dark sedan. Shining a flashlight at the Doc’s house. I froze, and the car crawled past. I knew it was unlikely I’d been seen.
I quick jumped over the back fence, and I heard weird noises from the street. I realised the dark sedan had turned around and parked across the street from the Doc’s house. I didn’t dare look over the fence. I held my breath, and I thought my heart was gonna beat out of my chest. I remembered that dumb story, The Telltale Heart. Well, I guess it wasn’t so dumb. But I heard footsteps and I saw lights and then I heard the sound of a hand on the back doorknob, trying to open the locked door. I heard a clicking sound and then I realised they either had a key, or they’d picked the lock in two seconds flat!
They went into the Doc’s house and I ran as silently as I could down the side passage of the house behind the Doc’s and opened the gate super quiet and walked out trying not to run but just look like I lived there. I looked up the block as I walked to the sidewalk and I saw another dark sedan parked to the north, up at the far end of the street. I nonchalantly turned south and whistled that tune I always whistled when didn’t know what to say. It was a long walk down the street, then I was around the corner. I decided not to go home. I went back to the diner for a cup of coffee. Not the best thing for my nerves but that’s what I did. I found myself licking my cut finger. It tasted medicine-like. Yeah, like you haven’t done it. It didn’t seem to be bleeding anymore.
I sat there for a long time. No one but locals I recognised came in. I waited for about 90 minutes and the waitress gave me the “you rented the table long enough” look and I left her a couple extra bucks for the tip and exited out the back of the restaurant past the restrooms. Then I went to the movies and I sat in the mostly empty theatre for three hours and I swear I have no idea to this day what movie was playing.
Then I got a text on my phone. I glanced at it. It was Mom. “Do you need a ride home from the Professor’s?” she asked.
“No. I’m headed home now see you soon! Sorry I forgot to text.”
She sent me a heart emoji.
I exited the theatre upstairs, past the projection booths, out the back exit, down the emergency exit stairs and jumped the fence at the end of the alley.
Whatever had happened, I was pretty sure no one was following me. I was pretty sure I must have just missed the Doc leaving. Then when I was leaving, the watchers showed up to stake out the house.
I went home, Mom had soup and a sandwich ready for me and talked a mile a minute. She did that when she knew I was upset. But she didn’t ask me what was bothering me. I ate the food and I didn’t realise I was starving. It had been six hours since I’d had that cherry pie.
Dad was gone on a business trip but he called and I talked to him for a few minutes on the phone and I have no idea what I said.
I went upstairs to my bedroom, and I stripped naked and jumped in the shower to wash the dried sweat and stink of fear off of me. I didn’t even realise I’d been sweating, but the back of my shirt was wet with perspiration. Okay, sweat. Whatever.
I felt better in the shower and I—ahem—jerked off to sort of set my mind at ease. Hey, it was therapeutic. I’m sure I could get a doctor’s note for it. Ha.
Well, the hot water was great and I felt more human and I dried off. I pulled on some briefs and a loose tee shirt to sleep in, and then I remembered the cameras. I pulled the memory cards and I plugged them into my laptop. I quick scanned one but it showed nothing.
The driveway camera, though, it showed a white van pull into the driveway and out of view. About 40 minutes later, it drove back out. Five minutes after that I saw myself walk up the driveway to the front door. I had only missed them by about five minutes. About 25 minutes later I saw myself carry the ladder from the garage and set it up. Then I watched as I took down the camera and it went dark cause I’d turned it off.
I hid the cameras in my special hiding place and stuck the memory cards behind a bit of loose baseboard, only I glued the baseboard back in place with some white glue, and it looked untouched. By morning it would be dry and no one would ever find those memory cards.
I climbed into bed and laid my head on my pillow. Something was wrong. I mean, something was under the pillow. I sat up, lifted the pillow and saw a small cardboard box and a bit of paper wrapped around it.
“Dear Roderick,” it read (yeah, that’s why I didn’t tell you my name until now), “I am afraid I have been found by G. agents and they will likely collect me today. I hope not. I entreat whatever intelligences run this universe that you are okay. Now you know why I always paid you in cash. There is no record of your employment. No one knows you work for me. If you have managed to go undetected, you are likely safe. I however will never see the light of day again, as these—people—want me to work for them. They are not good people. But they will not hurt me if I do what they want. I will delay them as long as I can.
“In the box you will find my latest project, which you asked me to make for you. Inject the syringe in your gluteus maximus—I recommend the outer upper quadrant as there are not many nerves there—and this should work well. I tried it on your blood sample and there were no negative results.
“I was going to start you with a small dosage, but since I am leaving here is the whole amount you will need. It will take months to work itself out. When you are able please come and find me and rescue me. There is more to say but even more to do so I must end with a fond farewell until we meet again. Sincerely, Professor Randal Griffin, etc. etc.”
He always did that “etc.” thing because he didn’t want to list out all his credentials. I knew it was genuine because he always did that in notes he left for my job. He was oddly formal in weird ways. I suddenly wondered if I was his only friend in the whole world. I had never seen any guests at his home, or heard him speak of any friendships.
I opened the box. Inside was a syringe filled with a clear liquid. The syringe was full.
I knew it was a bad idea. I knew the Doc needed help, although I certainly wasn’t able to help him. But I trusted him, and there was no way I was gonna let him down. He was my friend. Really, there was never a question in my mind as to what I was going to do.
I took the cap off the needle, made sure there was no air in the syringe, and injected 5 ml in my ass. That’s a lot. The needle was like two inches long. It hurt. I had to squeeze hard to empty all the liquid into my muscle. Then I took a paper towel and pinched the injection point with the balled up paper towel so the needle site wouldn’t leak. I pulled out the needle and then waited a long time, so I knew my blood would clot and seal the needle point. I looked at the paper towel and there was just a tiny red dot. I guess I had the makings of a doctor. Or a nurse. Or a heroin addict.
I pried off the baseboard as the glue wasn’t yet drying, and stuck the capped needle and the note into the wall and pushed the baseboard back. It held. Okay. I folded the little cardboard box and dumped it in my waste bin. There weren’t any markings on it, just plain brown corrugated cardboard.
Things were getting hazy but I made it to the bed. I didn’t manage to get the pillow under my head, but it didn’t matter. I slept through the night. I woke to my Mom shaking me awake.
“Rod! Rod wake up! I swear you gave me a fright. Were you up all night playing video games, or watching… videos?” She looked uneasy bringing up internet porn.
“Mumosupherelisbreakfst” I replied cogently. But I came to myself and remembered yesterday. It wasn’t a dream, I guess. Was it? There was a bottle of white glue on my desk. No dream. I looked in the waste bin. Little folded cardboard box. No dream. I climbed out of bed and my ass was sore. No dream.
But I washed my face with hot water and managed to plaster down my hair so it looked like I’d tried to comb it, and dressed and grabbed my backpack and carefully used the handrail on the stair to go down to breakfast.
I felt like an invalid. Well, I had been scared yesterday. And I had climbed two fences. And I had a tiny cut on my index finger. I looked at it. It was healed already. Probably didn’t even… Well.
The breakfast smelled good. It tasted so good. Especially the orange juice, and the bacon, and the scrambled eggs, and the toast and the butter and the marionberry jam from Oregon and the coffee was heavenly. I cleaned the plate and took seconds on whatever was left. Mom was surprised. I wasn’t usually a big eater. But I’d had a hell of a fright yesterday. For a second I thought about the Doc but I firmly decided not to think about that until I had time to think about that.
Sherry, my sister, ignored me. I ignored her. It’s our way.
I was feeling a bit better as I limped down the sidewalk, hoping the Doc hadn’t poisoned me, but I knew he hadn’t. But I decided not to go to the gym that day.
After school I told Mom the Doc had to leave town for a while, so I might need to look for another job.
“You look frazzled! Positively frazzled!” she said. “Take some time. Why didn’t you just tell me yesterday?”
“I don’t know.”
“Well, the Doctor could have given you more notice. But I suppose it may have been an emergency. What was his name?”
I was gonna say “Griffin” but I stopped myself mid-open mouth and said, “Pippin.”
“That’s right. I knew it was something like that! Professor Pippin! What was his first name? Randal?”
“Ronald.” I said. Because I didn’t want anything traced back to me or my family and if the Doc was a ghost then I was gonna ghost too. Or something. I may have watched too many cheap spy dramas I suppose.
“Right! Professor Ronald Pippin! I won’t forget again.”
The next morning, I was even more sore. I mean, I hid from my Mom so she wouldn’t see me limping. I hopped back up the stair using my good leg and took a hot shower and used the hot pressure to pulverise my poor glute. I mean, it was sore, and my hamstrings were sore now, and … well, I never got back to the gym that week. Or the next. The darned soreness just spread from my gluteus maximus, and slowly spread through my whole body, and it just hurt to move anything. My joints were sore, my bones hurt. I mean, I never even knew your bones could hurt. Maybe your elbow, if you bang it, but oww.
The second week I stayed home from school for four days, as I was too full of pain to move and the thought of Physical Education class just made me ill. I told my Mom I had a flu, and she felt my forehead, declared I had a fever, and sent me to bed. The inactivity was awful, and I mostly slept when I wasn’t eating. Which at least wasn’t bad until I woke up in pain and grabbed some Ibuprofen and aspirin and acetaminophen.
Well, I knew I was gonna be okay because just when I was thinking of telling Mom I had poisoned myself with some insane I don’t know what and the Professor was kidnapped and I was probably dying. The soreness in my right side started to go away, pretty quick. In two days I had most of my body back under my own control. The worst had been when the pain hit my trapezius muscles and my head. My brain pounded and even my face hurt. But that only lasted for 36 hours. I counted.
I was feeling more myself but I looked in the mirror and I looked terrible. “I think I have mange, my God!” I said. I talked to myself when no one could hear. The Doc said it was the left side of the brain talking to the right side of the brain. Remembering the Doc made me sad so I pushed those thoughts away.
Well, I looked pretty beat down, and in just two weeks I’d lost muscle definition I had worked so very hard for. I started to feel sorry for myself and I knew I would never rescue the Professor, and I knew that I hated to feel sorry for myself, so I was angry at myself all the next week, but I managed not to bite the head off of anyone but I did excuse myself and walk to the bathroom at least twice when I didn’t need to just because I wanted to scream at someone. But I did not. I just had a really foul internal monologue. Grrr.
I looked terrible, white, pasty, no muscle definition, like the doughboy from the commercials. What had the professor done? I even looked almost like a kid again. It creeped me out. I didn’t have to shave, I didn’t have so much body hair, but I just told myself it would be okay in a few months. The Doc said it would take months, right? How many months is “months”? Definitely at least two. Possibly three or four, but… please God no. Let it be over.
I honestly have to say, about four weeks after I took that injection, I was at the lowest point of my life. Just really… yech.
But I was right, the week after that I actually felt human again. I was even able to see my friends, who were really happy to see me, and made a special effort at the gay straight alliance to welcome me back. They didn’t even much say anything about how terrible I looked. I mean, even my hair color darkened a bit to golden blonde from almost white platinum blond. As soon as I could I went to the barber. Two-tone hair is a bad look on me. Ha. Well. I read homework textbooks and wrote reports for two weeks to catch up. The work wasn’t so hard and I had a knack of memorising stuff pretty quickly I had developed, just as a time saver.
Week six I did what I was dreading. I went back to the gym. I knew it was going to be humiliating. I felt so scrawny. People thought I was a freshman. I was a junior! I just looked like a freshman. So time to claw my way back to being a twink.
It was about as bad as I thought. I was as weak as a kitten the first day, it was like I was relearning just how to use my muscle at all for the first time. So I used five-pound weights that felt heavy and managed three sets of four to six reps. Just kill me.
I went home after doing some basic push-pull and leg exercises, just to stretch my body, and collapsed. My Mom yelled at me for going too fast and pushing myself too hard, and even my sis came to the door of my bedroom and said, “Hey.”
“Hey.” I replied. It’s our way.
But Mom brought me chicken noodle soup. Mmm… pretty good!
And I was out like a light for about 10 hours. But I made it to school and didn’t feel too terribly awful so I went back to the gym and decided Mom was right. I just wasn’t going to admit it to her. So I was just gonna exercise one muscle group but go every day even weekends. But I should be able to cope with that. So… you probably think I was gonna start with bench press. Working my pecs. Me too, but I chickened out and just did biceps. Curls, preacher curls, hammer curls, cable pulley curls, concentration curls, any bicep exercise I could think of. just worked really slowly and methodically and it didn’t hurt near so bad as the day before. It was sore a bit but felt okay, like I was finally almost normal again.
I was definitely more sore the next day and especially the day after that, but normal sore, like where you have to complain just to keep in practice instead of crying like a little kid because it hurt so bad you want to die.
So the day after that I did pecs.
Then the day after that I did triceps.
Then I did forearms.
Then I did deltoids.
Then I did traps.
Then I finally did lats. Oww.
Then I added in abs every day.
Finally it was leg day.
I did all the machines and calf exercises, hamstrings, quads, glutes… I did those last because that injection still haunted my dreams. If you’ve been counting, that was eight days.
I started combining traps with deltoids and forearms with biceps. So that was six days. Every six days I did my whole body. And it was so much better than before. I mean, I felt the burn of exercise again, and it felt good. My body started to work the muscles properly and I felt the flood of endorphins in my system. After about six weeks of this, I have to tell you, I started to feel high at the gym. Not stupid jump off the roof paranoid high, but just… good. I felt really good. I realised that all those aches and pains and such was all gone. I mean, when I sat down in the house alone and it was quiet it was really truly quiet because my body wasn’t screaming at me anymore.
Then on week seven my Mom told me I should go buy some clothes that I could actually fit into, as she didn’t approve of the skin tight “show your stuff” look. I looked down. My jeans were very snug. And um.. yeah. I had a glaring bulge. I meekly took the charge cards and went to the mall.
Terry and Gene met me at the mall. Ray was playing basketball. He was always playing basketball.
“You guys have to help me shop, I am helpless with this. I did not get the gay gene for fashion!”
“I am the gay gene for fashion,” Gene declared. I walked right into that one.
Terry started to open his mouth and I said, “No bright crazy colors!” Terry closed his mouth.
“I got this,” said Gene. We shopped. None of my clothing was regular sized for me anymore. I mean, my waist was now 32 inches. When did that happen? It was my hips kinda, I was just built a bit wider and stronger I guess.
My pants inseam went from 26 to 28, but Gene made me buy 30s and turn up the cuffs if needed. He said it looked cute, me being a twunk and doing the young guy thing with my bulging muscles. I actually ignored that part as I knew I did not have bulging… well, my biceps looked okay. And I actually bought a few medium tee shirts instead of small or (God help me) boys’ department sizes.
Gene actually said I should just buy like two of everything as it was obvious I was on a growth spurt. And I might be back in a couple of months buying larger sizes.
I went along with his fantasy. I did not come from a tall family, although I was particularly short. I didn’t want to bankrupt Dad though. My sis got a $300 dress for her prom and my Dad insisted, but… that’s a lot of money.
I did buy new running shoes, which were so much more comfortable than the wrecked shoes I had been wearing. I was up a couple of shoe sizes too. Yay!
Gene was standing there, checking the fit of a blue button-down shirt, and it made my blue eyes stand out, which was great, and he was fussing, and I said, “Why don’t you come to the gym with me?”
He just kept fussing with the shirt and I thought he was going to ignore me. But he finally said, “If I go to the gym, and if I work out, and if I became fit, I would still have to try and find someone in this world to live with and share my life with. It’s a huge risk. What if I do all that work and I never find anyone? I don’t know if I could take it.”
“If you don’t do it now, you’ll just do it later and it’ll get harder and harder and you’ll have to be yourself eventually—everybody does. Why not start finding out who you are now? What you could do?” I was fussing with his collar a bit in revenge. “Find out who you can become? We can help each other.”
He looked at me, with his grey eyes, he looked so bleak, and said, “Just friends?”
“Sure,” I said, “of course, that’s what I mean, just friends.”