As Steve entered the area containing the whirlpool and steam room, he could see six people in the bubbling water, five of them women. The bubbles being forced through the hot, steamy water made it tough to see into, but it looked like they were all nude. He recognized Tommie by her blonde pony tail, and she waved at him. "Come on in, the water's fine!" she called.
Steve was uneasy about just getting in there with the others, but he managed to seem casual as he hung his towel on a hook and stepped into the hot, swirling water. Tommie pulled him over and said, "Here, Steve, sit down." She looked at the bruises on his face and body and whistled. "Man, I didn't know I'd hurt you that bad."
Steve shrugged and said, "I'll be okay. Julia says I'll survive."
Tommie leaned closer. Steve was almost overwhelmed by the proximity of the big blonde's muscular body. She whispered in her soft drawl, "Don't let it get around, but I'm not that brutal all the time. It's just that I'm so competitive that I can't help myself. In the ring I look at my opponent as the enemy, to be destroyed as quickly as possible. But I'm really kind of a nice person, otherwise."
"Well, if you're going to be aggressive like that I guess the ring's a good place to get it out of your system," Steve replied.
"That's the way I look at it too," Tommie agreed. She sat up straight and stretched her arms up over her head. "Oh man, this feels good." Steve found himself staring at Tommie's breasts as she stretched. They were not overly large but quite firm looking, sitting there atop her muscular chest.
Tommie noticed his stare and said, "Aha, a tit man, eh?"
"He sure is," came a voice from above them. Steve looked up to see Annie standing there, one hand on her hip while the other held her towel over one shoulder. His gaze travelled up her body, taking in the long, sleek columns of muscle that were her legs and the patch of red hair at their junction. Going up further, past the chiseled abdomen to her deep chest and perfect breasts, then the wide shoulders and thick, sinewy arms to the lovely face under the red hair. "He couldn't take his eyes off my boobs while he was supposed to be spotting for me," she teased.
"I was just making sure you didn't strain your chest muscles," Steve said straight faced.
Annie laughed uproariously. "Great line, Steve! Mind if I join you?"
So there he sat between two of the most muscular, beautiful, and sexy women he'd ever met, all of them completely nude. Steve was in heaven. His pulse raced, and he thanked God that the water was deep enough and opaque enough to hide his erection. He just had to be careful he didn't come in the water.
Tommie pointed out the other people in the pool. "The guy over there is Pedro Chavez." Steve recognized him as the man Darlene had beaten in wrestling the day before. "He's a pretty good wrestler, but needs to put on some muscle." Pedro scowled and shook his head. "Sabrina Peters," she continued, indicating the Kung-Fu expert he'd seen earlier, "is into the martial arts and boxing. Sabrina, this is Steve." Sabrina smiled and nodded hello.
"I saw your match today," he said. "You were great." She smiled again. Steve saw that he hadn't been mistaken earlier, Sabrina indeed had a tattoo on her left breast. A tiger's face inside a rose.
"That's Michele Wilson, next to Sabrina." Tommie indicated a broad shouldered woman with close cropped blonde hair. "She's pretty new here, Sabrina recruited her. Over here on my other side is Joanne Wing." Joanne was an Oriental woman who was not nearly so tall nor muscular as Tommie, but lean like a distance runner. "Joanne's a pretty good wrestler. And over there is Sunny Olsen." Tommie indicated a very tall, sunbleached blonde who looked like a typical California beach bunny, except for the colossal muscles she sported. "Sunny's other job is a bouncer at a club on the beach. She's pretty good at all kinds of fighting, and almost as strong as me."
"Fuck you, Tommie," laughed Sunny. "Meet me on the mat and we'll see who's the stronger and who's the loser." Tommie laughed, and Steve guessed that these two had a friendly rivalry going.
"Joanne works in the office with me," put in Annie, "along with Elizabeth Michaels, who's covering for us now. You'll meet her later, I'm sure." Annie smiled and rubbed one hand gently over a sinewy shoulder and said, "You got any questions about anything? I can probably answer them."
The three of them talked about how many women and men were employed by AmaFlix (forty-five and twenty-one, respectively -- "Then who were all the people in the seats for Patricia's match?" asked Steve. "We get a lot of customers who like to come in and watch," Tommie explained.), about women in athletics in general and competing against men in particular. Steve learned that Tommie was twenty-five and single, and that Annie was thirty-two and divorced. Both said nearly the same thing about their relationships with men. "It seems like there's three kinds of guys who get interested in women like us," Tommie said. "First, there's the submissive guys who wanna be dominated They LIKE having the shit beat outta them, and they keep coming back and begging you to hurt them. Then there's the macho jocks who want to compete ALL the time and get pissed and turned off when they lose. Last, there's the guys who want to have a muscular woman on their arm like a trophy, like 'look at me, I'm cool, I'm fucking an Amazon'." Tommie shook her head. "It gets old real fast."
"Aren't there any other kind of guys?" Steve asked, curious to find out where she thought he fit.
"Every once in a while you get someone you just wanna ravish, ya know?" she said softly. "Someone you can conquer and they don't resent you for it and they don't keep askin' you to 'please beat me up'. Someone who treats you like a person, not a thing."
"I used to know a guy like that," chimed in Annie. "It was about ten years ago. I was just out of college, and I found this guy who didn't want to compete with me, didn't want to be dominated, he just treated me like an equal. Damn good photo-journalist. Real sweet, and the sex was great!" She shivered and smiled in rememberance.
"So what happened?" demanded Tommie.
"It was fantastic for a couple of years, but he went and got shot in a riot in South Africa." Annie shook her head sadly. "So they're out there, a few of them anyway. If you find one, don't let him get away."
Darlene slipped into the pool on Tommie's other side. Steve could tell that she, like Annie, was a natural redhead. When she came in Pedro quickly got up and left. It was obvious that Pedro still had some bad feelings about the match yesterday, and Steve wondered how long it would be before he left the company or did something foolish like challenging Darlene again.
Annie got up and stretched. Water cascaded down her magnificent body, collecting in the nooks and crannies between the swelling muscles. It also collected like tiny jewels in the hair of her bush. She ran her hands down her torso, her fingers lingering on her washboard stomach and then down her granite thighs to her diamond calves. She smiled down at Steve and said, "Gotta go back to work. See you later, Steve." She climbed out of the pool and walked away while he stared. He decided to wait a while before he stood up, as otherwise it might prove embarrassing.
Tommie noticed his interest and nudged him. "Looks like you're in lust, Steve," she kidded. "Got a thing for redheads? Or is it anything female with muscles that turns you on?"
Darlene tapped Tommie's shoulder. They put their heads together, whispering and giggling. Darlene looked up at Steve and said something that made Tommie laugh loudly. Tommie said, "Yeah, I think a special session might be in order." Steve was about to ask what that was all about when Tommie stood up. Her powerful body glowed from the heat of the steaming water, and her tremendous physique seemed even more impressive as Steve looked up at it. She casually flexed her big thighs and arms, and then did whatever it was she did to make her boobs dance. Seeing that he was transfixed, she giggled again and said, "Definitely a tit man! Cute, too," she added with a smirk.
Before Steve could say anything Patricia stuck her head in the door. "Tommie, I need to see you in my office. Dry off and get your ass in there right away."
"What's up, boss?" asked Tommie.
"I'll tell you once you get in there. Move it!"
Tommie shrugged. "Well, there goes recess, I guess," she muttered, glancing at Steve with disappointment. She gathered up her towel and headed for the locker room.
Darlene slid over closer to Steve and said brightly, "Well, now we can get better acquainted." Her green eyes sparkled and she licked her lips, saying, "Tommie's right, you are cute. Tommie better be careful or someone like me might beat her to you."
"Huh?" he responded cleverly.
She smiled mysteriously and said, "Never mind. So, what do you do when you're not getting beat up?" He talked about his last job, and how a corporate takeover had eliminated his position as a senior programmer. She told him that she owned a condo in one of the more expensive 'burbs, out I-18, she'd been a swimming and gymnastics standout in college, and had really gotten strong when the Dominion virus had hit.
"I was back east when that occurred, and the papers played it down out there. What really happened?"
"You've seen part of it," she smiled, flexing a bicep teasingly. "If you really want a detailed explanation of HOW it works, talk to Julia. But, since it hit, sickness is a thing of the past, we all heal much faster, and nobody gets old. Women were hit another way," she added, "enhancing our strength to an enormous degree." She smiled. "But that's not all bad, is it?"
"Well, I must admit the view's been much better lately," he replied.
She laughed. "So, now that your time is all your own, except when it's Patricia's, whatcha gonna do?"
Steve smiled back. "Spend as much time here as I can," he replied. "I think I'm hooked."
Steve decided he'd had enough of the pool for a while and bid his lovely companion good-bye. "See you soon, Steve. By the way, there's a match later today in case you want to stick around. I'll save you a seat."
He showered and dressed, then talked to Julia. She gave him a detailed nutritional plan and workout schedule that would take up most of his time. "Got anything better to do?" she asked when he raised his eyebrows at the schedule.
"No, I guess not. At least if I keep coming in here I'm getting paid. By the way," he added, "Darlene and I were talking and she mentioned the Dominion virus. The news didn't mention it much back East. She said you could fill me in."
"Vell, Steve, the Dominion virus vas developed by a brilliant female geneticist and a male viral expert. It vas a truly revolutionary achievement. The virus enhances muscular development by using recombinant DNA. It vas tailored to work specifically on vomen, though everyone receives the benefit of better health and faster healing. Aging is a thing of the past. It is vun reason vomen are, as you said earlier, 'stronger than they look'."
Steve nodded thoughtfully. "Well, whatever the cause, it's certainly made things more interesting. Especially for me," he added with a chuckle. Julia laughed too.
When he went out to the main room the chairs were about three-quarters filled. Darlene waved at him and indicated a seat next to her in the front row near one corner. Almost as soon as he'd sat down, Tommie dropped into the seat on the other side of him.
"What was that all about?" asked Darlene.
"Ah, Patricia just wanted me to sign a new contract," Tommie replied. "No problem, but she had to get it to the lawyer right away." She put her hand on Steve's leg and said, "You look a little more at ease now, sweetie."
"I feel a little better, as long as I don't have to step in the ring against you for a while."
She laughed and feinted a punch at his ribs, laughing again when he flinched. "God, I've really got ya spooked, huh?" She patted Steve's leg and said, "I told ya, I just get that way in the ring."
The cameras started and Patricia, wearing her silver bikini and white boots, climbed into the ring to do the announcing. "Hello, Ladies and Gentlemen. Today's match is a three out of five fall wrestling match. Introducing first, in the red corner, wearing black shorts, Bob Sanders." She pointed to a tall, athletic looking brown haired man. "Bob is six feet two inches tall and weighs two hundred and fifteen pounds." Bob waved at the camera.
"Bob's opponent is now entering the ring area. She is five feet five inches tall and weighs one hundred and fifty-five pounds." Steve was amazed by the difference in size between the two grapplers. Then he saw who it was. "The AmaFlix wrestling coach, Elaine Lawson." Elaine was wearing a white one-piece thong leotard that hugged her like a second skin, red lycra tights and white boots decorated with roses. She leaped onto the ring apron the vaulted over the top rope. The muscles etched in her massive legs seemed about to explode through the shiny fabric that encased them. The sinews in her shoulders and back rippled as she stretched the ropes, checking their springiness as she loosened up.
Patricia waved Bob and Elaine to the center of the ring and told them, "You know the rules. Choking, punching, biting, hair pulling and eye gouging are all grounds for instant disqualification. Falls to be won by pinfall or submission. First one to win three falls is the winner of the match. There is no time limit." Elaine and Bob nodded, and they shook hands.
The two opponents returned to their corners. Steve saw that Marge was seconding Elaine, and Pedro was seconding Bob. Elaine turned and waved, saying, "Hi Steve, here to get a look at what you're in for?"
The bell rang to start the first fall. Elaine and Bob came out of their corners quickly, meeting in the center of the ring and locking up in a collar and elbow hold. Elaine ducked under Bob's arm and slipped behind him. Wrapping both arms around his waist, she wrenched him off his feet. Her muscular arms swelled as she heaved him up and then threw him to the side. Bob stumbled and fell, recovered quickly and rolled to his feet before Elaine could follow up. He grinned at her and elevated his forefinger, indicating "one for you".
They came together again in the same hold. This time Bob slipped his foot behind Elaine's ankle and pushed, tripping her to the mat. Elaine tucked and rolled backward, coming up quickly facing her opponent. She applauded politely, and Bob laughed. As they came together for the third time, Elaine ducked and grabbed one of Bob's legs. Heaving back, she dumped the bigger man on his ass. Dropping his leg, Elaine pounced on Bob and secured a headlock.
Steve remembered the thankfully brief time yesterday that Elaine had clamped the same hold on his skull, and he winced in sympathy as she cinched in the lock and applied pressure. She leaned her weight on Bob's chest and Patricia, alert for a possible pin, slapped the mat once as the man's shoulders touched the mat. Convulsively he jerked one shoulder into the air, and Patricia stopped her count.
Elaine's arms, shoulders, and chest all bulged incredibly as she applied unimaginable pressure to Bob's trapped head. A soft moan escaped his lips as she constricted the circle of her arms still further. Patricia asked, "Wanna quit, Bob?"
"Uhhnn-n-n-o-o-o," he groaned. With an impressive display of his own strength, Bob twisted around so Elaine's weight no longer pinned him and slowly rose from the mat. Elaine clung tenaciously to her headlock. The pain was taking its toll on the big man, and his legs shook, but he made it all the way to his feet. Now he had a leverage advantage on his shorter opponent, and it was more difficult for Elaine to maintain the hold on his head. Wrapping his arms around Elaine's waist, he lifted her from the mat and fell backwards, suplexing her hard to the mat.
Both of them hit hard, and the force of the fall broke Elaine's lock on Bob's head. The minutes she had held him captive had taken a lot out of Bob, however, and Elaine was the first to her feet. She was on the attack again before Bob could stand up. He was still on his knees when she stood in front of him and jammed his head between her thick thighs. Wrapping her powerful arms around his waist, she heaved him up, releasing his head, so that he was jack-knifed almost double and his back faced the canvas. With savage power Elaine slammed Bob forcefully to the mat, producing a resounding BOOM that echoed around the room. Bob squirmed on his back in pain from the vicious move, and Elaine smiled in satisfaction. She bent over and grabbed Bob's arm, wrenching him back to his feet.
Placing one hand in Bob's crotch and the other over his shoulder, Elaine picked the big man up easily and turned him over. Her massive thighs and power packed arms bulged as she held him upside down with apparent ease, took three running steps, and power slammed him to the mat, landing atop him. Then Elaine picked the guy up and slammed him again, then a third time.
Bob was nearly out, and finding it very hard to breathe. Almost playfully Elaine knelt astride his chest and held his shoulders down while Patricia slapped the mat three times. The bell rang, ending the first fall. Pedro came into the ring and dragged Bob back to his corner to try and revive him. Elaine wiped perspiration off her face and arms while Pedro desperately tried to bring Bob back to full consciousness. The ninety second rest period was almost over before Bob became aware of where he was.
Elaine and Marge talked quietly together. Elaine glanced down and saw Steve. Grinning wickedly, she flexed her impressive biceps and said, "After I finish Bob I might just go after you, Steve." The women around him all thought it was hilarious, and he forced a smile.
The second fall opened with Bob barely making it to his feet before Elaine was on top of him. Wedging her shoulder under his arm, she heaved and sent him cartwheeling across the mat to land with a dull thud. Quickly Elaine moved to the corner nearest him and scrambled to the top rope. Standing there, balancing herself, she waited for Bob to get to his feet. Then, propelled by her mighty thighs, she launched herself through the air and brutally smashed her shoulder into Bob's chest, driving him down again.
Elaine quickly pounced on her supine foe, pulling him roughly to his feet and draping him across her shoulders. With a mighty heave of sinewy arms she pressed the two hundred plus pound man high over her head. She walked around the ring with him three times, as if she was showing off a trophy she had won. It was an extremely impressive demonstration from a woman nine inches shorter and sixty pounds lighter than her opponent.
Eventually, as if she were bored with carrying Bob around, Elaine bent her knees and elbows, then flung the hapless man nearly all the way across the twenty-two foot ring. Bob landed hard and rolled until the bottom rope stopped him. Elaine walked over to him and bent down, gently slapping Bob's face and saying, "Time to get up now, Bob." Bob's eyelids flickered and opened, and Elaine once again hauled him to his feet. Bob's legs were bare able to hold him upright. Elaine pushed him into the ropes and then threw him off. Bob careened wildly across the ring and hit the opposite ropes, then came staggering off again. Elaine leaped high in the air and hit Bob with a drop kick that landed with incredible force right on his chin. Bob's head snapped back and he crashed down on his back again. Only the spasmodic movement of his arms and legs indicated that he was still conscious.
Elaine strutted around the ring, proudly showing off for the cameras and the spectators. She waited until Bob had started to sit up before she went back over to him. A foot in his chest sent him down on his back again. Sitting on the mat behind Bob, Elaine now snaked her brawny thighs around the man's head. Crooking her right knee under his chin, she locked her right ankle under her left knee in a figure-four headscissor hold. Her massive muscles threatened to shred the Lycra tights as Elaine pressured Bob's head with her titanic legs. Bob's head was compressed between Elaine's knotted calf muscle and her mountainous thigh. Steve thought Bob's jaw might be broken as Elaine constricted her leggy vise even more, the mighty sinews rippling beneath the slick red fabric. Elaine inspected her fingernails in a show of nonchalance as she easily crushed Bob into oblivion.
Before too long Bob's eyes closed. Patricia checked on him and decided that he was unconscious, so she ordered Elaine to release him. Elaine unlocked her legs and stood over Bob, flexing her granite muscles for the crowd. Pedro accidentally brushed against her as he tried to help the unconscious wrestler, and Elaine growled, "Watch it, boy, or you're next." Pedro scowled, but stepped back until Elaine stalked off to her corner.
Steve got a good look at Elaine as she stood in her corner between falls. Perspiration beaded on her chest and rolled down into her cleavage, darkening the fabric of her leotard. Her sweat damp hair clung to her forehead until she brushed it away. She wasn't even breathing hard. She smiled at Steve and winked, saying, "This'll be over in just a few minutes now."
Meanwhile, Pedro worked feverishly to restore Bob to a semblance of wakefulness. The smelling salts he was waving under the big man's nose didn't seem to help much, and he shook Bob's shoulders violently as the rest period came to a close. Bob's eyes opened slowly and he muttered, "Wha's going on?"
Pedro used the smelling salts on him again just as the bell rang. Elaine raced across the ring and grabbed the bottle from Pedro's hand. saying, "I'll wake him up! You better leave or I'll sic Darlene on you again!"
Pedro seemed about to reply but thought better of it and climbed out of the ring. Holding the bottle under Bob's nose, Elaine said, "Take a deep breath, come on, wake up!" She tossed the smelling salts out of the ring and slapped Bob across the face, not lightly. "Wake up so I can beat you!" she yelled at the semi-conscious man.
Bob tried to block her hands, and began to rise from his stool. Elaine 'helped' him up and whipped him across the ring. Bob's back smashed into the corner padding with wicked force. He staggered a couple of steps and fell face first to the mat. Elaine was on him quickly, giving him no time to recover. Placing one booted foot in the middle of Bob's back, she ferociously wrenched both arms up behind him in a hold known as a surfboard. Bob moaned piteously as Elaine tortured him with the vicious hold. She pulled up hard on his arms, as if she was going to tear them from his body. Bob began to scream for mercy, and Patricia asked if he'd had enough. "God, yessss! Ple-e-e-a-a-s-e, make her let go!"
Patricia told Elaine to release the hold and she let go of his arms, but kept one foot on Bob's back as she posed and had her arm raised in victory. "After nineteen minutes and fifty seconds, the winner of three falls in a row, Elaine Lawson!" intoned Patricia.
Pedro hustled into the ring and muttered something to Elaine, who said, "You better watch yourself, chico, or I'll take care of you too. And I won't take it as easy on you as I did on him!" Pedro's dark face paled noticeably, and he muttered what must have been an apology, because Elaine removed her foot from Bob's prone body and helped Pedro and Marge get Bob to a stool. Smelling salts were applied again, and Bob came to, groaning as the pain hit him.
"You okay, big man?" Elaine asked. Bob shook his head to clear it and muttered something that made all three women in the ring laugh. "Well, next time maybe you should pick on someone your own size," teased Elaine. Bob shook her offered hand, and Elaine headed back to her corner.
Marge slapped Elaine's hand and said, "Way to go, girl. You still got it."
Elaine added, "Yeah, I got it all right, and I know just what to do with it!" Both laughed. Elaine looked at Steve again and said, "Better get ready, your lesson starts tomorrow." She flexed a bicep and smiled again. "Need a ride home? If you wanna wait a few minutes-"
"Not so fast, there," called Tommie. "You took him home yesterday, tonight he's mine."
Elaine shrugged and said, "Okay, Tommie, tonight you can have the honor. See ya tomorrow, Steve."
Tommie grabbed him by one arm and Darlene by the other. "Now, just wait a minute, Dar," Tommie laughed. "I said he's mine for tonight and I meant it!" Tommie hugged Steve's arm closer to her, and he could feel her steely muscles against his softer flesh.
Darlene grinned and let go. "Okay for you, Tommie. Maybe I'll bring in my own guy tomorrow." She waved and headed for the locker room.
"What was that all about?" Steve asked the broad shouldered blonde as she gently steered him out the door.
"Oh, you'll find out soon," Tommie said with a mysterious smile. "C'mon, sweetie, my car's over here." She led him toward a classic Mustang convertible, black and obviously in top condition. "Hop in and buckle up," Tommie said, and she fired up the big V-8 and they took off -- almost literally. The g-forces pushed at him as Tommie dodged in and out of the rush hour traffic, talking all the time.
He found out she'd grown up on a Texas ranch, and that doing all the work on the ranch had made her pretty strong to begin with. In high school she'd competed in the heptathlon, setting a couple of state records in the process. Her coach was a big believer in strength training, and the weight lifting had added more solid muscle to her blossoming body. She had an older brother who was a Golden Gloves boxer, and she'd trained with him for a few years before he'd headed into the service. She was rather unhappily employed as a librarian when the Dominion virus hit. Steve asked her about how she'd joined AmaFlix.
"Oh, Patricia saw me an' Darlene when we beat up some guys trying to hassle us an' asked if we'd be interested in doin' it for money," she replied. "When she told us what we'd earn in just a year, we couldn't sign up fast enough."
She shut down the warp drive and pulled to the curb. Steve was about to ask her up when she looked at her watch and exclaimed, "Oh, shit! I'm supposed to pick up Julia and go to a party tonight." She glanced up at him. "I'd planned to spend a little more time with you tonight, but I guess I'll just have to wait 'til tomorrow." He thanked her for the ride, and she took off with a snarl of exhaust. Steve headed up to his apartment, wondering what the next day would bring.
Bob Sanders's back hurt like it hadn't in years. The last time had been after a linebacker blitz dislodged a vertebrae and blew out his knee. A year of reconstructive surgery and rehab later, his unspectacular career as quarterback for the Port Ellis AA-Wildcats had become a distant memory.
He'd finished his degree in sports education, but soon found that the only openings for gym teachers were in gang-dominated inner-city high schools. He spent the next two years doing construction work and odd jobs, anything for a few bucks. He continued to train, unwilling to sever that link to his past, but any vague hopes he'd held of athletic glory faded like a dream.
His luck turned -- or so he thought -- when a promoter for a small wrestling organization encountered him one evening at his health club. The man -- Leonard Harris, a name he came to loathe -- promised him that the California Wrestling Alliance was poised for a major expansion. All Bob would have to do was hang with it for a few months, and then the T.V. contracts -- and the money -- would come rolling in. Harris was honest, to a degree. The C.W.A had expanded, elevating itself from a two-bit operation playing school auditoriums and tent fairs to a studio-based television program and lucrative arena tours. An infusion of capital from Winslow Enterprises had transformed the business overnight.
Unfortunately for Sanders, the success had been one-way. Prior to the expansion, he'd been a featured performer, a winner, and had gained a modest following. The money was less than that promised, but he'd scrimped by, awaiting better days.
When the better days came, he found that they had no intention of rewarding his patience. The promoters immediately hired several stars of the sport, and he was relegated to the undercard. Soon thereafter, he was reminded of his expendability -- and was expected to take a fall when ordered to. This came after he'd won a surprise victory over megastar Zack Xavier, a handsome blonde stud with a tremendous following. Xavier had threatened to leave unless he was granted a fixed rematch. Bob had had no choice. He threw the return bout, and thus began his role as a jobber, only occasionally allowed to fight a clean match.
Sullen and angry, he decided one day that he'd had enough. Re-matched against Xavier, he decided he would fight a final contest. They collided in a bitter, no-holds barred brawl that Bob won seconds before the time limit expired. He dragged his exhausted body to the cashier's cage for the winner's purse, and was promptly informed that it was severance pay.
As he made his way to his car, he was approached by an adorable-ooking brunette. She introduced herself as Elaine Lawson, a representative of a mixed fighting company called AmaFlix. She told him that she'd come to recruit male talent for the agency, and decided to approach him after his impressive display of skill. He was leery of the idea -- how would it look, him wrestling women? -- but he came around when told of the money he stood to make. It was a definite improvement over the pittance he received as a wrestler for the C.W.A. He agreed -- hesitantly -- and was told to show up the next day for his first match.
And now, one match -- and one healthy spine -- later, he realized that God hated him and wanted him to die slowly. As he leaned on his locker door for support, eyes shut tightly, teeth clenched, he realized that he should have been more honest with Julia and admitted his injury. What was left of his pride had prevented it.
A pair of arms encircled his chest, and with a startled cry he was jerked off his feet and bent back, his feet dangling. A flash of pain accompanied a the popping of his vertebrae, and then a merciful relief followed. Released, he staggered back, to drop onto a bench, gasping.
"I knew it," said Elaine, leaning against the lockers and crossing her arms. "The second Julia told me you'd waved off any therapy, I knew you were in here suffering." She shook her head. "Men."
"I...I was doing fine--"
"Fine for a hunchback. If I hadn't come when I did, they'd've been hauling you out for a date with a traction machine."
"It's all moot now," he said. "Thanks for the adjustment. Now if you'll excuse me, I have to clean out my locker--"
"Why? You get your ass kicked one time and you're ready to pack it in?"
"Look," he said, launching to his feet, "Spare me the rah-rah shit, okay? Yeah, you tore me up out there -- congratulations. You didn't just win, you trampled me. Trust me, there's no hard feelings. You're a great wrestler, and in my opinion you can beat anybody. But I just can't compete in this outfit. All the women I've seen here are as tough as you. And I'd be kidding myself if I thought I could win." He ran his fingers through his hair, then started shoving items into a duffle bag. "I got fucked by college football, I got fucked by the C.W.A., I fucked myself here -- notice a trend? It's time I found something I can do. I hear McDonald's is taking app's--"
Elaine slammed him -- hard -- into the opposing lockers, her hands lodged against his shoulders. His vision swam, and he blinked to clear it.
"You listen to me," she said, her eyes locked on his, her voice hard, "I didn't recruit some talentless has-been to fight here. I picked somebody that I thought had the physical and the mental will stick it out, win or lose. I kicked your ass out there because I wanted you to know exactly what you were getting into. You underestimated me, and you paid for it. At least now your eyes are open.
"Now stop feeling sorry for yourself and look ahead. If you pull out now, you make yourself look bad -- and you make me look bad for picking you. Forget it. You're stuck here." She pulled her hands back, allowing him to regain his balance. "I'm gonna train you -- wrestling, weights, everything. You're going to work hard and get better. And we're going to fight again. I'm going to keep kicking your ass until I think you're doing your best." She stepped forward, pushing her body against his, pinning him once again. "But I will not let you quit. I like you too much." She pulled his lips down to hers, kissing him with vigor. She let the kiss linger, relishing in the warmth that coursed over her body. He put his arms around her lightly, enjoying her affection, but still very aware of the hell she'd put him through mere minutes before.
"I like you too much," she said upon parting, keeping her lips close. "Now come on." She backed up a step, and peeled the shoulders of her leotard down, exposing her body to her waist. Her strong, supple physique excited him now more than ever. "I beat you up. That means I get to shower you off."
"Um...I like that arrangement." As she led him toward the bath area, he asked, "One question. Three power slams, a gorilla slam, a power bomb...are you sure that you really like me?"
She shrugged. "Just imagine what I'd do if I loved you."
Bob winced. "You're Lorena Bobbit's sister, right?"
The AmaFlix Story
by Al Harder and Mike Shoemaker
Of Computers and Amazons
I'm sorry, Jim, but I'm going to have to let you go.
The words rang in Jim Andrews' mind with relentless clarity, a looped recording that brought with it a painful recollection almost too great to bear. The past six months had been good to him. Upon graduation -- with honors -- from Avalon College's Computer Science program, he'd been hired immediately by WestTech Information Systems' data processing department, and put on a high-profile account billing project guaranteed to earn the company millions of dollars in leasing fees. A sportscar and a condo had followed. It had been the stuff of his fantasies. It was all gone.
He numbly turned over the events of the past week in his mind, of the major change in the billing table that he'd never seen, of the angry confrontation with the company officers over the subsequent report errors, of his fevered attempt to assure them that he'd never been contacted about the changes -- all to no avail. They'd needed a scapegoat, to cover the mistake made by a favored supervisor, and Jim had been chosen. The low man on the totem pole, he'd never had a chance. By the time McKinley, the Applications Manager, had summoned him to his office for the final meeting, he'd already packed up his cubicle and logged off the system.
Jim's melancholy was further compounded by his lack of options. Estranged from his intensely religious family, he had no home to return to. Worse yet, the WestTech incident had become a hot buzz in the regional programming community, and he'd been uniformly considered at fault. His chances of finding a substantial job in the area were almost nil. He still had twenty years to pay on his condo, his sportscar (and the insurance) cost more than the GNP of several third-world nations, and his Pier 1 furniture was trendy and appropriately expensive.
He shifted to lie more comfortably on his couch, and thought, well, I've still got some credit left. I could charge an assault rifle and do the disgruntled postal worker thing. The image of McKinley and the board of directors lying scattered and bloody brought him brief satisfaction. My, how violent I'm becoming, he thought. Maybe I can say I've been watching too many reruns of Gunsmoke....
A soft knock shook him from his reverie. He took a deep breath, then stood and walked to the door, running a quick hand through his hair to straighten it. He twisted the knob, pulled--
--and momentarily forgot his troubles.
He'd only met her a few times since moving in, but the woman, Darlene Adams, was a vision of perfection to him. Crimson hair fell in thick waves across her shoulders and down her back, and framed a delicate face of aristocratic beauty. Her green eyes sparkled with a mixture of wit and possible mischief, and her full, red lips were curved into a friendly smile. He'd studied her body extensively while observing her ritual Saturday tanning, and it was lean, powerful, well-curved. Her statuesque strength was complemented by full breasts that punctuated her sensuality.
"Hi, Jim," she said. A pair of denim shorts exposed her sleek legs, and her snug half-tank left little to the imagination. Her chiseled abdomen was shaded starkly by the late afternoon sun. She frowned and asked, "I didn't catch you at a bad time, did I?"
He then realized that he looked like shit. It was his first day after getting the axe, and he hadn't shaved, his hair was unkempt, his untucked shirt and slacks -- which he'd slept in -- were badly wrinkled. "Um, well...." he began.
"What's wrong? Lose your job?"
His chest tightened for a moment. He swallowed, then said, "Good guess."
"That's terrible. I'm sorry."
He shrugged. "Don't apologize. You didn't can me."
"But still...." She shook her head, rustling her hair. "I didn't mean to bother you."
"Feel free. I was just sitting in here engaging in some gratuitous self-pity. You probably kept me from crawling into a bathtub with a razor."
He found her laugh delightful. Just one more reason to fall in love, he thought. "Great. I saved a life today." She bit her lower lip, then asked, "Look, I wouldn't want to impose, but...you're good with computers, right?"
"Depends on who you ask." She looked away, realizing that she'd touched a nerve. He smiled, and said, "Hey, just kidding. Having a problem?"
"Yeah. I decided to exit from Windows, to try some DOS commands, and...I think I deleted a file from my hard drive that I need." She was shifting from foot to foot, a hopeful expression on her face. "Is there...anything that can be done?"
"One moment." Jim walked over to his home workstation, opened a cabinet, and dug out a disk. He returned, and said, "Show me the patient."
Jim was amazed by Darlene's condo. It was the most tasteful and well-decorated space he'd ever seen. Whereas he'd been pleased to arrange a trendy early 90's motif to his interior, she had skillfully juxtaposed ultramodern toys and conveniences with antique furnishings and decorations. A pair of Wurlitzer jukeboxes, lit red and orange and bubbling, flanked the mahogany case of a hi-tech entertainment center, atop of which sat a lovingly restored phonograph. Brass lamps and crystal figurines adorned endtables and counters. Framed prints, mostly Eschers, seascapes, and Broadway plays filled the dead space on the walls.
"Wow," he said, taking in the sight.
"You like it?" she asked.
"You have a talent for understatement," he said. "Ever considered interior decorating?"
He again relished her laughter. "C'mon," she said, and led him into an adjacent study. The walls were lined with oak shelves, and packed with a variety of hardcovers. Nestled within was her computer system, arranged on an L-shaped desk. It was on, the cursor blinking obediently.
"A Pentium," he said, slightly agape.
"Yeah. I just upgraded. Is that good?"
He coughed, and cleared his throat. "Outside of an Amiga or maybe a Sun workstation, it's the best."
"Oh." She smiled, beaming with pride. "It was the most expensive one in the store."
"No doubt. It's decked out, too." He ran his fingers along the CPU tower. "Hi-speed CD-rom, thermal transfer printer, twenty-one-inch monitor...probably a five hundred meg hard drive."
"Don't drool on my carpet."
"Oh, of course not." Jim slid into the chair, and she leaned against the printer stand beside him. He was almost too taken with the equipment to again notice the sleek contours of her body. "Let's see...you deleted the file 'CHAP07.TXT', right?" He pointed to the screen. "Um, yeah," she said, nibbling her lower lip again. "Can we get it back? It's the latest I've done on my book, and I didn't make a hard copy."
"No problem." He slid the disk he held into the A: drive, and began typing. She watched as his fingers danced over the keys in what seemed a practiced ritual. He became one with the machine, making it an extension of himself, at home within it's operating system.
A few minutes passed, after which he smiled and leaned back. "'CHAP07.TXT' is back on-line," he said with a wink. Darlene's expression changed to one of glee. "Oh, thank you!" He gave a startled cry as she jerked him from the chair by his shirt and trapped him in a crushing embrace. "Thankyouthankyouthankyou!" She was bobbing up and down as she spoke, which served to both jostle and suffocate him. The feeling of both her strength and her inviting bosom thrilled him beyond words.
She stopped bouncing, but kept him in her arms. He now noticed that she, with bare feet, was fully an inch taller than he in his loafers. "You know what this means," she said.
"Um...I'm a little afraid to ask."
"It means, silly," she said, touching a finger to his nose, "that you're my guest for dinner tonight."
"Oh, Darlene, I didn't do anything all that amazing. I don't want to impose--"
She shut him up by putting her finger to his lips. "When you become an imposition, I'll break your arms. Until then, you're my guest. Got it?" The smolder in her eyes excited him, and he nodded. "Good." Pulling away, she took his hand and started out of the room. "Come in and make yourself at home. I'll have dinner ready in no time."
Darlene prepared pasta alfredo with clams and a crisp Caesar's salad, and served it with a chilled Chianti. While he was busily stuffing his face, she mentioned that a flourless chocolate cake was cooking (complete with raspberry sauce). During the meal, she kept the conversation focused on him, prodding him to vent his anger over his firing, to discuss his Calvinist parents and how they'd disowned him at age 18, of his graduation from college and relocation to the west coast. By the time he finished, the cake was ready, and they enjoyed a healthy chunk of it.
She disappeared into the kitchen with the dishes, and a few moments later heard her dishwasher grind to life. Upon her return, he asked, "So, you know pretty much everything about me, except maybe my shoe size. Let's talk about you a little."
Darlene shrugged, and gestured for them to move to her sofa. When they were seated, she asked, "What do you want to know?"
"Well, for starters, I noticed you're writing a book. Can you tell me what it's about?"
"It's a mix of science fiction and fantasy," she began, eyes lighting up. "It follows the adventures of a planet of amazon warriors."
"Sounds great. Is it Tolkienesque?"
He furrowed his brow. "I don't follow you."
"John Norman's this guy who writes books about this male-dominated counter-earth that's constantly kidnapping earth women and making them sex slaves. The girls always wind up liking it, of course."
Jim rolled his eyes. "Sounds like he's got some hangups."
"He's a real bondage freak. The girls are usually uptight prom-queen types who're just waiting for some steroid-freak warrior to tie 'em up, whip 'em and rape 'em."
"All this on a counter-earth? Burroughs would be rolling in his grave."
"No kidding. I figured turnabout was fair play. I'm writing about an alien race of warrior women who come to earth looking for men to...subjugate."
"And these men, are they...of any specific type?"
"It depends. They're usually conservative professional-types, like accountants, lawyers...computer programmers..." She grinned and winked; he felt a rush of excitement through his chest. "...but they also like kidnaping big muscle-bound types, and defeating them in unarmed combat. Y'know, to put 'em in their place."
"And, um...who's the lead amazon?"
"I call her Daria. She's the Empress, but she loves leaving the palace and leading the capture expeditions."
"She wouldn't be a redhead, would she?"
"How'd you guess?"
"Just a hunch. I'd love to see what you've got sometime."
"No problem. In fact...I'll make you a character."
The tingling in his chest expanded over his body, making him buzz. "Sounds...great. What'll happen to me?"
"Oh, I plan to have Daria whisk you away and personally train you in the ways of male slavery. Then...you'll become her most favored attendant."
"Sign me up," he said, his voice almost cracking.
She giggled. "I'll be doing so more work tonight. You'll see something soon."
"I'm looking forward to it." Jim knew that if he didn't change the subject, he was going to have a mess on his hands, or more specifically, in his underwear. He only hoped that he hadn't tented up too noticeably. "Tell me, this condo is about twice the size of mine, and everything in it must have cost a fortune. What do you do exactly? Run drugs? Knock off armored cars?"
Darlene broke eye contact a moment, fumbling with her fingers, before looking up again. "You really want to know?"
"Of course. Unless you'd rather I didn't find out."
She shook her head. "No, it's only fair. Besides, I want you to know." Darlene stood and walked to her entertainment center, where she ran her finger along a row of tapes. "No, not that one...maybe that -- oh! Here we go."
She pulled out a white videocassette holder, and slid the tape from the jacket. Jim's first reaction was that perhaps she was a porno starlet -- which, to his surprise, didn't bother him -- before he shrugged it off, and decided that she didn't seem the type. She pushed the tape into a VCR, then returned to the couch and picked up a multi-function remote control. With a touch of a button, her wide-screen television hummed to life. "Well, here we go," she said.
A few moments passed, in which nothing occurred, until the image flickered, and steadied, to show a wrestling ring, surrounded by a few rows of chairs, full of spectators. In the ring was a trim hispanic man, clad in athletic shorts and sneakers. Across from him -- to Jim's surprise -- stood Darlene, wearing a sheer athletic half-tank, thong-backed pelvic leotard, and white boots which rose to meet her kneepads. She was standing with her hands on her hips, legs spread confidently, watching the man across from her. They walked to the center of the ring, where the referee, an adorable, similarly chiseled brunette, gave them a summary of the rules. The man stood before her, shifting from foot to foot, warming up, shaking his arms to loosen them; the initial credits had identified him as Pedro Chavez. Jim chanced a glance at Darlene; she had curled up onto the couch, clutching a pillow, as if erecting a barrier between herself and any disapproval Jim might have. Intrigued, he watched the tape further, and the match began.
It was the most punishing -- and exciting -- thing he'd seen in his life. Darlene, presumably the underdog in the match, abused her opponent with powerful slams and debilitating holds. Chavez reeled from her constant assault, and in three short minutes was screaming a submission from within Darlene's camel clutch. A short intermission in the best of three falls match followed, in which Chavez had a ninety second recuperative period, before Darlene was on him again, this time jerking him off his corner stool and resuming the pressure. She drew the second encounter out, allowing him to apply holds and then easily reversing them. Taunting him, she goaded him into a test of strength, their fingers interlocking; his face quickly twisted in pain, and he fell to his knees, Darlene's forearms rippling as she bent his wrists and fingers into an unnatural position. She released the hold, and scooped him into her arms, holding him across her body. She pressed the man above her head, with no apparent strain whatsoever, and walked around the ring twice. Pedro's anguished cries began as she struck him with repeated backbreakers, raising him and then ramming him down over her knee with such force that Jim was surprised he stayed in one piece. Darlene dropped to lie perpendicularly to him, then slid her powerful legs around his body, applying awesome pressure to his lower back. Her thighs and hamstrings rippled as she bore down, all the while stroking her fingers through her sweat-dampened hair, and preening for the cameras. Chavez was unable to respond to the referee's queries, and passed out after a few minutes of duress.
The second fall was awarded to Darlene, who relunctantly broke the hold. The next intermission period began, in which Chavez' corner people tried desperately to revive him. They'd just succeeded when Darlene once again pulled him from his corner, seemingly determined to ice the match, and began the slams and locks in earnest. Chavez did his best to resist, but the pain and exertion had begun to take its toll, and he was helpless before her. Darlene was a sensual juggernaut, her powerful, lean body glistening with a sheen of perspiration, her sinews rippling with each blow and hold, beads of sweat cascading down into her cleavage as she relentlessly pursued the victory. Jim noticed that she could have put the match away at almost any time, but she drew the encounter out, exercising great care to ensure that he not be counted out or strained to the point of submission. When she finally met him off the ropes with a belly-to-belly suplex and wrapped him up for the final pin, the contest had gone fifty-eight minutes. The crowd, composed almost equally of men and women, cheered her as the referee raised her arm in victory. He watched as Darlene, in a show of good sportsmanship, tried to help Chavez to rise, but the man was too shaken. With a final wave, she slipped through the ropes and out of the ring, and began toward a door in the back of the staging area.
The VCR stopped and began rewinding the tape. Darlene cut the television off with the remote, and curled around her pillow once more. She looked at him expectantly.
Jim leaned back, and propped his head on his hand.
"Impressive," he said.
Her eyes brightened. "You really think so?"
"I'm still shaking."
"You don't think I'm...weird or anything, do you?"
He smiled and shook his head. "Weird? No. Strong? Yes. Brutal? Yes. Sexy?" He shrugged. "Let's just say that I'm going to have trouble getting my underwear off tonight. But weird? Absolutely not. No one's got a monopoly on normalcy these days."
She uncurled from around her pillow, but kept it held tightly to her. Lucky Goddamned pillow, he thought. "Thank you. I'ts hard to find people who are...non-judgemental."
"When you're asked, what do you tell people you do for a living?"
"I can believe that. You should consider it for real."
She smiled and blushed.
"How did you get into...uh...." He gestured toward the television.
"Mixed combat videos."
"Well, I've always been into sports -- gymnastics, swimming, martial arts -- but I never competed much. That changed when the Dominion virus was released."
"When did it hit you?"
"I was in bed. I woke up with this bizarre feeling, like -- well, you know, an orgasm, but...it was a bodily thing, like my every tissue was being energized. When it was finished, I'd gained four inches, thirty pounds--" She moved the pillow, and cupped her breasts briefly--"and two bra sizes."
"Must have been hell on your wardrobe."
"Definitely. I was running around in sweats and leotards for weeks."
"You were getting to the part about the mixed fighting."
"Right. About a month after the change, I was at my old health club -- the Hard Bodies outlet on Leake Street -- doing a chest workout. I had about 700 on the bench, which I was doing reps with--"
"Reps?!?" Jim's head snapped up. "That's three or four times my max! No wonder you squashed that guy!"
Darlene gave him a sweet little-girl smile and shrugged. "Probably, yeah." She slid to sit up a little, then said, "The virus changed all of us, Jim. Both sexes got perfect immune systems, regenerative healing, indefinite life span. Diseases are gone. Broken bones heal in hours. People don't age past their physical prime -- and older people gain youth. It was a miracle."
"Yeah, but I didn't get turned into a mega-stud. Women got the highly enhanced muscle and bone density. A few men got physically augmented, but not like women, and not nearly so many."
"Them's the breaks. To return to the topic, I was working out with my girlfriend Tommie, when some jocks came over and tried to push us off the bench."
"We wouldn't move, and management made them leave. However, when we were finished, they met us in the parking lot." She licked her lips. "One tried to shove Tommie against her Mustang, but she gave him a left-right that knocked him over the hood of a car."
"This Tommie sounds tough."
"Her brother was a gold gloves boxer. She trained with him. So anyway, the other five--"
"Yeah. They came at us. We took a couple of licks, but we left 'em pretty messed up. My aikido background came in handy, but I really didn't need it.
"Right after the cops hauled them off, this blonde came up to us. I knew her from the club, because she and I were always trading strength records in the bench and squat. Her name was Patricia Daniels, and she owned the club -- the whole Hard Bodies chain, in fact."
"That franchise is nationwide. She must be loaded."
"You wouldn't believe. She'd seen the fight, and wanted to know if we'd consider making mixed fighting videos. Tommie loved the idea, but I wasn't as sure. Then Patricia told us how lucrative it was, and I jumped on it."
His bottom was growing a little numb, so he shifted. "So, you make a lot of money from these things."
"Oh, yeah. I get a big base talent fee, plus a healthy percentage of sales. These things go out worldwide." She smiled. "I even get some fan mail."
She looked down, thoughtful, and a short silence followed. Between dinner, the tape, and the conversation, he knew it was getting late, and figured she was trying to find a polite way to usher him out. Furthermore, she'd turned him on -- really turned him on -- and he felt a little overloaded. "Gosh, look at the time. Guess I should--"
"Jim, I...don't know if you'd be interested, but AmaFlix could use you."
"How?" He grinned. "Certainly not as a fighter. I work out some, but no way could I compete with you guys. I have some pride."
"No, no, not fighting...unless you wanted to. But I'm pretty sure our computers at work could use upgrading, and our accounting system needs to be automated. You could help us a lot. I'm sure they'd hire you full-time."
"I'd be happy to. Besides, I'd like to meet some of your friends."
She smiled broadly, and for the first time he noticed that her teeth were white, shiny, and absolutely perfect. Even made up casually as she was, he could picture her on the cover of any fashion magazine. "Great. Be ready by, say, ten o'clock tomorrow, and I'll take you down there. I'll talk to Patricia about it, and we'll see how it goes."
They arose from the couch, and she walked him to the door. "I really appreciate the help, Jim," she said, and opened it. "You're a life saver."
"Y'know, I always wondered why I had this big hole in my stomach."
She giggled. "You're funny." Stepping closer, she said, "Thanks again."
"No problem. Always happy to help a damsel in distress."
She leaned forward, put her finger under his chin, and gave him a lingering kiss on his lips. It took an act of will to keep his knees from giving way. She parted slowly, smiling. "This damsel is most grateful, Sir Knight." With a wink, she said, "Ten o'clock," and eased the door closed.
Jim stood there for several seconds, his head buzzing. An urgent rage burned below his belt. Well, he thought, and hustled toward his apartment. I'd better make for the shower. Vesuvius is about to blow.
The AmaFlix Story
by Al Harder and Mike Shoemaker
The Thrill of Defeat
Jim was up by eight o'clock the next morning. He'd tossed and turned all night, his body insisting that he march right back over to Darlene's and progress to the next level. Thanks to her flirtation, he'd nailed four climaxes, then rolled out of bed and hit two more in the shower. His chemistry had been ignited by this woman, and he hoped she wouldn't just be the stuff of his fantasies. She'd seemed interested in him, and her parting kiss had been warmer, more sensual than the good-bye-and-thank-you gestures he usually received.
By nine forty-five, he'd groomed himself with meticulous care, and had just finished knotting a silk tie when the doorbell rang. He threw on his jacket and ran to the door.
"Hi," said Darlene as he opened it. She was wearing a sleeveless grey sweatshirt and matching sweats, pulled down to meet high-topped aerobic shoes. Across the front of the sweatshirt read the words "HARD BODIES"; under this was a detailed picture of an amazonian woman striking a double-biceps pose. A gym duffle was slung over one shoulder, and she held a stack of papers in her other hand. She looked him up and down, admiring his double-breasted Saville Row suit, and said, "You look great."
He shrugged. "Anything's an improvement over yesterday. And the feeling is very mutual."
Her smile widened. "Sorry I'm early. I just figured we might have a better chance of catching Patricia. She's usually busy with matches and business later in the day."
"Say no more. Let's blow."
Darlene held out the papers. "First, let me give this to you. I wrote two more chapters last night, and I thought I'd print it all out and let you see it."
"Well, thanks," he said, taking the manuscript. "I can't wait to read it."
"I think you'll like what I've added. Daria breaks down your door, ties you up, and whisks you to her homeworld. Chapter Nine deals solely with your...training."
Not again, he thought as he carefully placed the manuscript on a table beside the door. Just when I figured it was safe to leave the shower....
"I -- I'll read it first thing tonight."
"Great. Now let's go. I'm driving."
Darlene owned a Mercedes, a 300 ZX, and a Yamaha motorcycle; she chose the Z, tossing her duffle into the trunk, and moments later they were breaking the sound barrier down interstate 18. As the g-forces kept Jim seated quietly in his chair, Darlene jabbered on about her laser radar detector and the scores of options she'd bought with the car. When they finally dropped to sub-light speed and pulled into the parking lot of AmaFlix Studios, Jim began to wonder if he could simply survive a relationship with this enigmatic hellcat.
Trembling, he got out of the car. Darlene was already yanking her duffle from the trunk, and, after triggering the car alarm with her keychain remote, they made for the main entrance.
"You'll like Patricia," said Darlene as they entered a small reception area. "She's great. Really easy to get along with--"
"Oh, come on," said a woman to the side. Jim turned, to see the blonde equivalent of Darlene, standing in an open doorway. She was wearing a black-and-yellow half-top and thong-backed pelvic leotard, which did everything to accentuate her fantastic body. Her sweat-slick skin shone from the fluorescent lights above. She walked up to Jim, looking him up and down. "Darlene, I know we really need fighters, but I told you not to bring in any more creampuffs." She pinched his bicep, patted his chest, gave his buttocks a hard squeeze.
"Fair to good body," said Patricia, stepping in front of him. She took his face in a hand, and turned it from side to side. "A little pale, but good-looking. It'll make a good shoot." Patricia looked at Darlene, who was smirking. "I'll take him for my four o'clock. Is he insured?"
Jim pointed frantically to the blonde. "Darlene, will you say something?"
"I didn't bring him here to fight, Patricia," said Darlene, stepping forward. "I thought he could help out in the office. He's great with computers, and we need to make a few improvements."
Patricia looked him over once more. "Not a fighter, huh? I guess he does look a little too yuppie. Too bad, I was looking forward to slapping him into a body scissors. Ever been squeezed out before?"
"Uh," he said.
"Guess not." She held out her hand. "I'm Patricia Daniels, owner and operator of AmaFlix. You are?"
"Jim. Jim Andrews," he said, and shook with her.
"Pleased to meet you." She motioned for them to follow her. "Let's go to my office. We'll talk there."
They walked down a faceless white corridor, and passed through a door at the end of the hallway. Patricia moved behind a large lacquered desk, while Darlene showed Jim to a comfortable chair before it. Darlene stood off to one side.
"So, what do you have in mind, Jim?"
"Well, I noticed you're using 8088's in the office, and Darlene's told me about some of your needs. I could set you up with a great package deal on some Gateway 486's, fully loaded, with OS/2 preinstalled. I'd set up one as a file server and network the whole company--"
"Yeah, yeah, you're hired," she said, waving her hand. "I'll give you five grand a week and a company card to buy what you need. Sound okay?"
Jim coughed. "Um...five grand?"
"Shit. Pushy, isn't he?"
"No, no, five is--"
"Eight a week. Take it or leave it."
He nodded, his head swimming.
"Great." She came around the desk, and shook his hand again. "Welcome to AmaFlix, Mr. Andrews. You're our new computer specialist."
"Thanks," he said.
Her smile turned predatory, and she slid her sneaker onto the chair, under his pelvis, until her lower leg was flush against him, her knee against his chest. She leaned forward, pinning him hard to the chair, and rest her elbows on her upper leg. "Get this straight, Jimbo. I'm gonna drag you into the ring sometime. I just love squeezing GQ guys like you into helpless submission." She winked. "Turns me on." Withdrawing her leg, she smiled at Darlene. "Show him around, and help him get acquainted. Just don't forget, you've got a match at two."
"No problem." Darlene pulled Jim up. "C'mon. I'll show you the gym."
They started out the door, when Patrica called out, "Computer man."
She curled her arms around herself, making her biceps swell, hiking up her breasts. "Gonna squeeze you."
He smiled nervously, and ducked out the door.
Raymond Winslow steepled his fingers and smiled, shifting in his high-backed leather chair. The city of Port Ellis stretched out before his fortieth floor window in a jumble of concrete and steel, its skies dotted with private planes and helicopters, its streets teeming with lunch-hour traffic. Cattle, he thought, moving his gaze along the throngs that choked the sidewalks and jammed the streets. Insignificant cattle, herding themselves along to whatever worthless destinies lie in store for them. They only wish they had a modicum of my power, of my influence. My life is the stuff of fantasy to them. They exist only as pawns in my various stratagems, to be abused at my whim. How utterly pathetic.
Breaking from his reverie, he said, "I'm happy you've come, Miss Steele," he said. He directed his attention to his right, to a woman of statuesque proportions and exotic beauty. "Or would you prefer I call you Samantha."
"You're signing the check. Whatever makes you happy."
She stood with her legs spread slightly, her weight shifted to one side, her arms behind her back, clad in a grey business jacket, white silk blouse, and short, form-fitting skirt. Her black hair was slicked back and knotted. Given her full lips, enigmatic brown eyes, and dark complexion, Winslow suspected her heritage to be a mix of French and Latin ancestries. "Tell me, Samantha. Can you guess what's on my mind?"
She shrugged, and glanced out the window. "You're probably reveling in your wealth and influence, and passing harsh judgement on those less fortunate than yourself."
His cheeks flushed, and he turned back toward his desk. "Um, no, that's not it at all. I'm, uh, just wondering why we aren't doing more to, uh, ease the plight of the homeless--"
"Save it, Winslow. I'm not here to question your social integrity. You're paying me a gratuitous sum of money to suspend my activities at Arena and perform some sort of job for you. You've yet to tell me what you want done."
"In due time, Miss Steele. First, let me--"
His intercom buzzed, cutting him off. He launched forward in his chair, and stabbed the button. "Yes, Miss McDonald, what is it?"
"Mr. Winslow, there's a...um...Crusher here to see you." The leather of his recliner creaked as he leaned forward and depressed the intercom button. "Send him in, Miss McDonald. And please, hold my calls."
The doors to Winslow's corporate office burst open, and all two hundred fifty-five pounds of Crusher Cane stormed in. He stomped to the desk and slammed his fist down.
"I'm here! Whaddaya want?"
Raymond looked him over; the big man was tall and strong, his broad shoulders and barrel chest plainly visible through his tank top. He wore his trademark black mask, and matching fingerless driving gloves.
"Settle down, Cane. I just want to talk to you about something."
Cane pulled straightened, and crossed his arms. "So talk. I ain't got all day." He looked over at Samantha. "Nice legs," he said.
"Nice mask," she answered.
His expression softened visibly. "Y-you think so?" He smiled, beaming. "I designed it myself. I'm pretty handy with a needle and thread."
"You don't say. Is that real leather?"
"Excuse me," said Winslow. "I don't want to break up this mutual admiration society, but can we get down to business?"
"By all means," said Samantha.
"Great. Now watch this." Winslow pressed a button on a hand-held remote, and a panel on the office wall slid aside. A television flickered on, and began displaying images of Patricia Daniels, in the heat of combat. The footage was edited to show her at her devastating best, clad in her trademark silver bikini, hitting her uniformly male opponents with slams, locks, and suplexes.
"Meet Patricia Daniels, owner and operator of AmaFlix, a multi-million dollar mixed fighting franchise. She sponsors a stable of male and female fighters, who meet in a variety of matches ranging from wrestling to martial arts. She -- and the women working for her -- sport unblemished records against all comers."
"Huh," said Crusher. "Most of the guys I'm seein' are pussbags. Maybe a couple are my size, but the rest're nothin' special."
"Don't be fooled. These women have dominated all comers. They've had pro boxers, NFL linemen, even several tough man champions as opposition. They've beaten them all."
"I'll believe it when I see it. So, what's the deal?"
"The deal, Mr. Cane, is that I want you to go there and challenge Ms. Daniels to a freestyle contest. And there -- in front of God and everyone -- I want you to put her down."
He shrugged. "Is that all?"
"It won't be easy. She's a world-class powerlifter with phenomenal fighting skills. She's a prime example of the Dominion virus and its effects."
Crusher snorted. "The Dominion virus. What a freakin' joke. You can't prove it changed anything by me."
Winslow noticed Samantha shift slightly in place; she seemed to be considering proving Crusher wrong, before stopping herself. "Be that as it may, just approach this with caution. I've already deposited ten thousand in our prearranged account. Do it tomorrow."
"No problem." He moved toward the door, then stopped. "One question. Why do you want me to knock 'er off? She piss in your fishtank or something?"
"That's my concern, Mr. Cane. Now if you'll excuse me, I have other business to attend to."
"Yeah, whatever." He looked Samantha over a final time. "Later, babe."
She nodded, smiling.
He pulled the office doors closed behind him, leaving Winslow and Samantha. "So," he asked, "What's your opinion?"
She shrugged. "He doesn't stand a chance."
"What makes you say that? He's a two-time World Wrestling Alliance southeastern regional champion. He's quick, strong, and vicious."
"Don't play games with me. You know perfectly well that he's going into the lion's den. She's going to chew him up and spit him out."
Winslow smiled. "True."
"So tell me. Why are you setting him up? What does this have to do with me?"
"I may as well fill you in. I used to own AmaFlix."
Samantha raised an eyebrow. "What happened?"
"Patricia was my principle operative, and helped me transform the company from a small-time studio catering to fetishists into a major worldwide distributor of mixed fighting products."
"Very interesting. Why did you part company?"
"She and I differed over how much she should be making. She wanted a bigger piece of the action, and I didn't feel she deserved it. So, perhaps unwisely, we fought a match over control of the company."
"And she beat you."
Winslow's jaw twitched. "Yes. She beat me."
"And now," said Samantha, stepping closer, "You've decided to exact revenge."
He nodded. "This is how I'd like things to proceed. You will go to AmaFlix tomorrow morning and audition for a position in the stable. They'll almost certainly be familiar with your reputation as the 'Manbeater'--"
"'Mancrusher'. Don't get me confused with that other woman."
"Yes, the 'Mancrusher'. They'll know of you, and you'll almost certainly be hired, especially after you squash whomever you're matched against. Crusher will arrive later, and I want you to be on hand to observe the match -- get a firsthand look at how Daniels fights. And then, once you've figured her out, I want you to challenge her for ownership of AmaFlix. After you win, as per our arrangement, you hand it over to me."
"How terribly Machiavellian."
He smiled. "Thank you. I've wired half the money I promised you to your account, and more will follow once AmaFlix is mine."
"Very well then. Will that be all?"
"Yes. Let me know when you've succeeded."
"As you wish."
She turned to leave, and started toward the door. "Miss Steele," he said before she reached it.
"One more thing. Once you've won, I'll need someone to headline the company. Impress me, and the job is yours."
Samantha smiled. "Thank you. I'll bear that in mind."
As the door closed behind her, Winslow thought, finally, Patricia. Finally, I'll see you on your knees, begging for mercy, as I did before you. And at that moment, you'll know -- everyone will know -- that Raymond Winslow was the mastermind of your downfall.
With a grin of satisfaction, he swivelled in his chair, and returned his gaze to the streets below. Insignificant cattle, he thought, herding themselves along to whatever worthless destinies lie in store for them....
The AmaFlix training facility, Jim decided, would have been the envy of any professional sports franchise. All the latest resistance machines, aerobic engines, and weights were collected into a clean, well-lit, spacious area trimmed with neon. To one side was a twenty by twenty space padded with matting, where a petite, typically amazonian brunette was trapping a hapless male opponent in a variety of holds. Beside that was a wrestling ring, occupied by a pair of statuesque women.
"The pool and sauna are through that door," said Darlene. "We have a jacuzzi that is to die for."
"Uh-huh," said Jim, watching a pony-tailed blonde as she performed butterfly presses. Her half t-shirt was thin, sleeveless, sopped with sweat, and at least two sizes too small; it strained to contain her full breasts as she rared back to perform each rep. She smiled and batted her piercing green eyes at him.
Darlene leaned against him from behind, and threw her arm across his shoulders. "Jim Andrews, I'd like you to meet Tommie Taylor. She and I go back a long way."
Tommie released the padded arms of the machine, and stood. She was a little shorter than he, but was every bit as powerful-looking as the other women he'd met here. "Nice to meetcha," she said with an obvious Texas drawl.
"Uh," said Jim as they shook hands. "Sorry, I didn't mean to--"
"Stare?" She laughed. "Hell, that's why I wore this. I'da been worried if ya hadn't."
"Jim's going to be handling the technical stuff around here. He's great with computers."
"Oh," said Tommie, frowning. "He's not fightin'?"
"Not yet," said Darlene, smirking.
"Not ever," said Jim. "Why do you people want to beat me up so badly?"
Tommie stepped forward, and pushed her breasts against him. "Foreplay."
Something lodged in Jim's throat; it took an active effort to swallow. Jim noticed that Darlene had pushed him toward Tommie somewhat, adding pressure, and the blonde was ever-so-slightly moving her breasts in a circular motion against him.
Jim's legs were close to buckling when Darlene said, "Okay, okay, c'mon. You've got more people to meet."
"Ow!" Steve winced as Elaine locked her legs around his torso. "Careful! I'm still sore."
"Sorry," she said, maintaining the pressure. She shifted for leverage, making her quads and thighs ripple. His body, exposed since she'd made him shed his tank top, was dotted with yellow and purple bruises. She reached forward and poked one, making him yelp. "Boy, Tommie got you good. Bruises don't usually take that long to heal anymore."
He squirmed, trying to budge her legs, to no avail. "I can't get out."
"That's the idea." She drew a finger along the smooth skin of her thigh, and tugged at the fringe of her thong. "This is fun. Now all I need is a deck of cards--"
"Hi, guys," said Darlene. "Got a second?"
"Sure." Elaine nodded to Jim. "Fresh meat?"
"Not yet. This is Jim Andrews, he's AmaFlix's new computer person."
"Nice to meet you." She shifted to lie behind Steve, and sat them both up, legs still locked.
"Her name is Elaine Lawson, the wrestling coach and referee." She and Jim shook hands. "And this is Steve Willoughby, one of our male fighters. He's our resident novice-in-training."
He nodded at Jim, and gasped a "Hi."
"You two'll get along great," said Elaine. "Steve's a computer guy, too."
Jim nodded, and managed a nervous smile. Steve's expression of pain made him wonder how he'd feel if -- or, perhaps more precisely, when -- Patricia decided to "squeeze" him.
"Well, keep up the good work." Darlene nodded toward the wrestling ring, wherein a tall mulatto woman was discussing something with a Nordic blonde. "Jim needs to meet Cherisse and Julia."
"Gotcha. See you later."
Jim and Darlene started away, and Elaine rolled back to her side. "Don't worry, Steve," she said, and patted his chest. "We'll have you ready for action any day now."
"Wow," said Tommie, kneeling beside Steve. She jabbed his healing rib, and said, "You look like a finger painting. How's the rib?"
"A-almost better," he said through clenched teeth.
"Hm. I'll take care'a that...." She balled her fist and pulled back; at his expression of terror, she laughed, and patted his shoulder. "Relax, willya?" Tommie looked to Elaine. "Let 'im up, girl. I wanna show 'im the store room."
"Oh, Tommie, I was gonna take him first."
"Come on, Elaine," she said, leaning over her. She kissed Elaine vigorously, making her squeeze Steve more tightly. By the time they'd finished, Steve had almost blacked out. "I gave you the last one, remember? 'sides, there'll be plenty left over. I know you're sweet on 'im."
Steve groaned with pleasure as Elaine's legs of steel unclamped from around his trunk. No sooner had he drawn his first deep breath than Tommie had pulled him up and slung him over a shoulder. She walked across the matting, humming and stepping lightly on her toes, until they were in a dimly-lit storeroom. Tommie pitched him forward and dropped him; rather than hitting hard concrete as he'd expected, he sank into a small, soft mat.
"I think we're alone now," said Tommie as she pushed the door closed and twisted the deadbolt. She flicked a wall switch, illuminating the room in fluorescent white. The room was piled high with more matting, turnbuckles, stacks of steel weights, unpacked boxes -- a spare for almost everything.
Tommie walked to him, and stood astride his body. "Boy, I worked you over good," she said. "You never had a chance."
"That's not true," Steve answered, trying -- and failing -- to prop himself up on his elbows. He settled for collapsing back against the mat. "I made you flinch at least half-a-dozen times."
She abruptly dropped down, landing on his bruised sternum with her rock-hard rear. He grunted as she bounced in place and ground in.
He gripped the edges of the mat in agony. "D-do I remind you of someone you hate or something?"
Tommie giggled, then slid back to sit astride his stomach. "That's not it at all, Stevie." Her expression softened, and she stroked her hands along his skin, caressing him. "See, I didn't just defeat ya. I conquered ya." Her hands slid down her body, to hold her breasts, stroking them. "And now I'm gonna take what's mine."
"I'm not sure I like the sound of that."
"Too bad." In one quick motion she tore her flimsy t-shirt away, exposing her full, magnificent bosom. "'cause like it or not..." Tommie leaned over, her arms curling around his neck. "...here it comes." She crushed her lips to his, her tongue lashing about in his mouth, her fingers in his hair.
Steve was dazed: just two days before, Tommie had pounded him to within an inch of his life, mercilessly battering his body and leaving him unconcious. She'd claimed it was all for show, but now, with her caressing him softly, kissing him, rhythmically pressing her pelvis and thighs over his, he knew better. Tommie, Elaine, Patricia, all the women he'd met here relished their power, reveled in it, exulting in the fact that they were no longer the weaker sex. As Tommie denuded them both and slowly, gently took him within her, he knew she was not merely making love to him -- she was completing a cycle.
Tommie seemed to experience one constant orgasm, screaming noisily, losing herself completely in the act they shared. She often fell across him, kissing him, to then pull him up and trap his face and head between her breasts. She stayed atop him at all times, never relinquishing control, adjusting and manipulating him to heighten their pleasure.
Steve found it most disconcerting that, when he neared climax himself, she would somehow sense this and, after lowering him to the sweat-slick mat, she would hold his face, her pale green eyes searching his, awaiting him. Whe he came, she maintained this eye contact, as his body was wracked with hot pleasure. She would then kiss and nuzzle him, tenderly, as if he had somehow filled a void within her. Tommie rode him until they were exhausted, spent physcially and emotionally. She lay across him, both of them heaving for breath, soaked with a mixture of bodily fluids.
She moaned and propped herself up on his chest. "Consider yourself conquered," she said.
"If that's a conquest, then I'll surrender every time."
She giggled, and leaned back, him still inside her. "Look at your chest," she said.
He struggled to sit up slightly, and noticed that his bruises and blemishes had vanished. "Holy Christ...h-how?"
"Sexual healing, baby. Only now it really works."
"I -- I don't...oh, wow...."
"Now, c'mon," she said, pulling him up. "Put your shorts back on. Let's hit the jacuzzi."
"What about your top?" He pointed to her shredded t-shirt.
She shrugged. "No big deal. I go topless a lot around here. We all do."
"Hey, in that case...mind if we divert to the butterfly machine? Just for a couple of sets."
"You pervert!" She laughed. "Okay. Two sets. But you'd better spot me."
The bar was stuck halfway, at that junction between success and muscle failure, and Bob's arms shook with the strain. His face was twisted into a grimace of exertion, as two hundred and fifty pounds did its best to conform to Newton's first law. It was the last rep of the last set of his workout, and the toil had taken its toll.
"Come on, Bob," shouted Elaine, on the spotter's step behind him. "Push. Push."
He groaned, he growled, he gnashed his teeth, he pushed with all his might--
--the bar was winning. It began its inevitable downward trek. Just as the bar neared his shoulders, He felt it pull up and away.
"Great job," said Elaine, her biceps swelling as she curled the weight up and re-seated it on the rest. "You almost got five. You're getting stronger."
"Oh. Ow. Oh." He panted, collapsed in his seat, exhaustion settling over him like lead. "Stronger. Right."
"Don't be such a girlie-man," she said, stepping down and walking around to face him. She lowered to straddle his lap. "Remember: 'That which does not kill us makes us stronger.'"
She leaned forward and brushed him with a kiss, her lips soft, her fingers in his hair. His hands fell to rest on her bare thighs, his index fingers pushing under the waistband of her thong.
"I'da know," she said. "This is nice."
"Yeah, but it's not terribly intimate. And if we're going to do what I think we're going to do, we should find some privacy."
"I've got it." She touched his nose. "They've almost finished construction on the new studio. Let's go there." She winked. "It's special. Besides, you still need to practice a few moves anyway."
"Practice?" She pulled him up. "After my workout? I'm burned!"
"Sure. Now I can really work you over, and not have to worry about you fighting back."
"Wait a sec." She plopped down onto the seat, and took the bar in a wide grip. Exhaling, she pushed the bar up, and then brought it behind her neck.
"Hey, be careful," he said, "You've already worked out today--"
She began reps with the weight, up and down, her arms like oiled pistons as she drove the bar repeatedly above her. He counted off twenty five poresses before she lightly dropped the weight back into place and hopped up.
"Okay," she said. "Just wanted to keep warm. You really are getting stronger." She grabbed his hand, and started walking. "Now, c'mon."
He stole a glance back at the station. "Stronger. Right."
The new studio was much like the other main arenas, featuring the same stylized decoration and layout. The primary difference was the wrestling ring: rather than the traditional four corners he was used to, it was octagonally shaped.
"Cool," he said as they slid onto the apron. He slid through the ropes with her. "I never thought about this. Eight sides. This poses all kinds of possibilites."
"Yeah. I thought so when I first made the suggestion."
He looked at her, brows arched. "You thought it up? That's terrific!"
"Yeah," she said, walking to a turnbuckle and pulling at the padding. "I've been wrestling for quite a while now. I started thinking about ways to change things up a little, to introduce some variety."
"It's bigger," he said, moving his eyes around inside. "Twenty-five feet across?"
"Thirty. Plenty of room for tag team and battle-royal contests."
"And singles, I imagine. More room to maneuver."
"Mm-hm." She walked slowly over to him, and put her hands on his chest. "Among other things."
"You don't say--" He yelped as she scooped him up and turned him over, then draped him over a shoulder. "Ohhhh shiiiit--" He braced himself as best he could, as she took three running steps and prepared to hit him with a power slam. At the last moment, she dropped to her knees and plopped him gently to the mat, then fell across him.
"Jesus," he said, shaking from the near-miss, as she shifted to lie over him right-side up. "Complete paralysis. That's what you're doing. You want to finish me off."
"Nah, not like that." She kissed him. "Like this."
"Much better," he said, as she trailed kisses down his neck and chest. "A power slam is not what Dr. Ruth considers acceptable foreplay."
"That's just because she's never tried it."
He shivered as she pulled his shorts down. "Can't argue with that."