All People Great and Small
It was an unusual set of circumstances, to be sure. Gerald Davis was minding his own business as he walked to his favorite music store. The latest Phresh Flava album had just been released, and being an ardent fan of their hip-hop beats and a capella grooves, Gerald was determined to get his own personal copy.
I have to admit they are rather pleasant to listen to, said a voice in Gerald's mind. Not like that rap garbage you keep forcing on me.
Gerald sighed. It was an old argument. One of the major drawbacks of having two minds in one body was that one mind doesn't necessarily share the same tastes as the other. The voice in his head belonged to an alien hyperdrive engineer, one who through a bizarre twist of fate, became fused with Gerald in a most permanently inseparable way. The arrangement did have one important advantage. When the need arose, Gerald could transform into that alien engineer, gaining superhuman abilities in the process. Using her old radiation suit as a uniform, Gerald goes about stopping crime as the heroine Maxima.
Gerald had turned a corner when a large tanker truck came racing down the road, plowing its way through traffic. In pursuit were a number of police cruisers. Gerald got a look at the warning symbols on the tanker as it rushed past. They all screamed danger of the lethal toxicity variety. Gerald decided that he could put off his shopping run in lieu of dealing with this major hazard.
Ducking into an alley, Gerald began his remarkable transformation as his body and clothing melted and reformed into a much larger human female dressed in bright red, white and blue coveralls. Maxima leapt into the air and began to give chase to the runaway chemical tanker.
If we can get ahead of it, thought Matahn, we can slow it down with a burst of electrostatic power.
"Right," said Maxima. "One sticky situation coming right up."
Putting on a burst of extra speed, Maxima began to overtake the careening vehicle. It slammed into cars too slow to get out of its way in its mad dash for freedom. Maxima was able to get far enough ahead of the truck that she had plenty of time build up a charge of electromagnetic energy. Using a pair of street lamp posts for a frame, she began weaving an electromagnetic net. The driver of the runaway truck, perhaps sensing a trap ahead, decided to take to the sidewalk to Maxima's left.
"Damn!" hissed Maxima. "They're gonna miss the net. Maybe I can stretch it."
With a heaving effort that showed its strain upon Maxima's face, she pushed part of the net to cover the sidewalk. Since there was no anchor to hold it in place, that overstretch part of the net wasn't as strong as the rest that covered the street. The truck hit the net head on, but as it did, Maxima lost her footing and was hurled toward the truck. She struck the vehicle with such force that it was overturned on its side and skidding down the street, throwing sparks everywhere. Maxima rode astride the sliding truck, praying that the tank wouldn't rupture. Thinking quickly, Maxima crawled to the forward cab and jumped down in front of it. Adding her strength to the friction of the asphalt, she managed to bring the truck to a halt.
The police cruisers had reached the scene and began the process of cordoning off the area. Maxima noticed that a small amount of chemical was leaking from the side of the truck that rested on the ground. Carefully, she lifted the truck up onto its wheels. There, she saw that the truck had struck something during its long slide which tore the hull of the tank. Even though the chemical leaking out was no doubt deadly, Maxima knew there was nothing for it. She had to seal the tear. Hoping that her high density body and her radiation suit would protect her from the effects of the chemical, Maxima began using her electrostatic powers to weld the tear shut. The warning signs on the truck indicated that chemical was not flammable. The job didn't take long, however she still managed to get quite a bit of the fluid on her arms. Some of it even splash onto her face.
A short, red headed police officer approached. "Don't come any closer," warned Maxima, "and would you please contact a contamination unit?"
"They're on their way," said the officer looking at Maxima in horror. She had a very slight Irish brogue. "God, what did you do?"
"There was a leak in the tank," replied Maxima calmly. "I had to do something, or this stuff would have contaminated the whole area, if not the whole city."
"Tell me you're invulnerable to that stuff," said the officer.
"I wish I knew," answered Maxima. "It would help if I knew what it is. My suit protects me from radiation, but I don't know about toxic substances."
"Well, I'm afraid I can't tell you much about it," said the officer. "All I know is that this was going to be properly disposed of at a government toxic waste facility. It came from one of their biochemical labs. The guy who stole the truck thought he could sell it overseas as a chemical weapon of some kind, or at least a component for one."
"Terrific," sighed Maxima. "And today was starting out so nice."
A large armored truck crested a hill a few blocks back. The officer's hand radio crackled. "Lisa, the hazmat team's here. Better get back here."
Lisa pulled out her walkie talkie. "Right. Be right there." She looked up at Maxima. "Hang in there. Help's on the way."
"I'm not going anywhere," said Maxima with a small smile.
The hazardous materials van pulled up to the police barricade and was waved through. Men in hazmat suits jumped out and swarmed over the tanker truck. Where the chemical had spilled, they sprayed a cleaning solution to neutralize it. A portable shower was brought out and they rinsed and treated both Maxima and the truck driver who, up to this point, had been trapped inside the cab. They spent more time with Maxima since she had, in fact, been in direct contact with the chemical spill.
"So," began Maxima conversationally as she was doused with another neutralizing solution, "any ideas as to what exactly was in the tanker?"
The pall of silence that followed this question unnerved Maxima a bit. "Don't tell me you guys don't know either."
"Actually, we can't answer you," said one of the hooded men. "That's classified."
"Classified, my ass!" retorted Maxima. "If I'm gonna bite the big one, I at least want to know what it was that got me in the end."
"I don't think that the chemical will kill you," said another man in a more authoritative tone, "but there may be some serious side effects. We'd like to place you under observation."
"Well, I certainly can't go home until you boys give me a clean bill of health, now can I?" grumped Maxima.
"Then, follow me, if you would," said the man with the commanding voice.
"Right," sighed Maxima. She took a few steps forward and stumbled. "Whoa! Did you guys feel that earthquake?"
"Pardon? There was no...oh dear," said the hazmat team leader.
Maxima's vision blurred and the entire neighborhood began spinning. "Uh...fellas? I don't feel so..." She collapsed to the ground before she could finish her statement.
* * *
Maxima awoke in a
strange room filled with bright fluorescent lighting. The
hurt her eyes at first, but soon she was able to adjust. The
first thing she noticed upon awakening, besides the bright lighting,
was the massive headache that threatened to overwhelm her.
"Oooooh, who's party did I crash?" she asked in her confusion.
A door opened, and a man in a white lab coat entered the room. He had a trim gray mustache and a goatee. His hair was mostly brown but streaked in silver. Maxima half expected him to be wearing glasses, but he wore no corrective eyewear.
"Well, welcome back to the land of the living," said the man. "I am Dr. Lawrence Friedle. We met at the chemical spill site. I must admit it was a bit touch and go there for a moment, but the mutation seems to have stopped."
"Uhm...mutation?" asked Maxima groggily.
"Yes, you seem to have regressed into the state of a child," said Dr. Friedle.
Maxima smiled. "Oh, that's no mutation doctor. That's normal for me, albeit unusual. I guess my secret isn't so secret anymore. How many people saw me change."
"Only me and my staff," said the doctor somewhat intrigued. "So you say this change from a woman to a girl is natural for you? Fascinating!"
Maxima opened her mouth to speak when her brain registered the statement that Dr, Friedle had just made. "Girl?"
"Why, yes," answered Friedle. "A very lovely young lady to be sure."
Maxima leapt off of the bed upon which she had been lying. "I need a mirror, something reflective, quickly!"
The doctor was confused by the sudden urgency, but showed Maxima to the bathroom where a full length mirror was attached to the door. Maxima looked at the image in the mirror. There, standing before her was a young girl of approximately twelve years of age. She had long, brown hair that hung down to her knees. Her clothes were the very same clothes that Gerald had been wearing earlier that day.
The girl tugged at the shirt. "These clothes..."
"Yes, we were quite flabbergasted as to how they had materialized, but according to you this is a normal change for you. It would no doubt explain how you remain anonymous when there is no danger about, yes?"
"This is wrong," whispered the girl. Then, more loudly, "This is all wrong!"
"What is it my
dear?" asked the concerned Dr. Friedle.
"I'm supposed to be a boy," said the girl.
"Ah, now I do know this much," chuckled the doctor. "From little girls do young women grow."
"No, you don't understand," cried the girl. "I'm supposed to be a boy. I'm really two people in one body. The woman you know as Maxima, and a little boy."
"Two people in one body?" asked the doctor slightly befuddled.
"Oh, God. I can't hear him."
"Hear who," asked Dr. Friedle who was now becoming concerned about the young girl's mental state.
"I can't hear Gerald's voice in my head."
"The boy, I told you about," said the girl. "I usually can hear his thoughts, like background noise, but there's nothing."
"I think perhaps you are overexcited with everything that has happened," said Dr. Friedle cautiously.
The girl turned on him with an angry expression. "I'm not crazy!"
"My dear girl," cried Dr. Friedle in what he hoped was a convincing display of affront, "no one has even suggested anything of the sort."
"I'm not stupid, either," she growled. "'Overexcited' is one of those key words meaning, 'It's time to visit the psych ward.'" She shook her head. "No, he can't be gone. He's got to be in there somewhere. I need some time to think."
While Matahn was distracted, Dr. Friedle had surreptitiously activated a hidden silent alarm. In moments, a small group of large, muscular orderlies had entered the room. Matahn had turned around at the sound of the commotion. "What's all this?"
"Now, my dear, don't make things difficult," said Dr. Friedle. "We just want to examine you. Make sure you're alright."
"Difficult?" asked Matahn as her anger mounted. "You don't want me to be difficult? I've lost the nearest thing I've had to a son, and you don't want me to be difficult!"
As she said this, she rose into the air and electricity arced from her body, destroying any nearby electronic equipment and shorting out the fluorescent lights. "I'll show you difficult!" she screamed and launched herself straight upwards crashing through the ceiling. Matahn found herself in another room that looked like an office. She continued her ascent and crashed through the ceiling of this room as well. She managed to pass through five floors before finally smashing her way through the roof and to freedom.
continued to rise until she could no longer be seen from the ground
below. She had to find a safe place to think. She
focus her mind. She needed a place that would afford her no
distractions. She knew just the place.
* * *
|Return to the Document Library.|