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Circle of Heroes, The
|The chain locked, the tires stopped, and the next thing he knew, Harry Watson was in a heap on the sidewalk. Stupid sidewalk cracks. They really needed to get those fixed.
He sighed, picked up his newspapers and stuck them in his pouch. He got back on his bike and continued, riding a little slower and more cautiously. He got to the house and stopped.
This house was weird. It creeped him out. Usually he was a pretty brave kid, but something about this place was just off. He stopped and stared. The entire home was run-down. It had clearly once been white, but the paint was peeling off, dirty, and approaching gray. The shutters were always closed, as was the garage door. The sidewalk leading up to the creaky front porch was dry and uneven, with grass growing inside the cracks. The only reason he knew any one actually lived there was cause, well, the paper from the previous day was always gone. He tossed the rolled up Tribune with skill. He almost had a built-in targeting system after all the deliveries he had done. He stared at the house another second, and then went on. Finally his route was finished.
He hated this stupid summer job. It ruined everything. He had to get up at four and deliver papers for two solid hours, then he'd get to sleep. Except usually he didn't sleep. He was too energized after riding a bike to go back to sleep.
Today wasn't one of those days, though, and he nodded off easily. He awoke to his ringing cell phone. He fumbled for it in his sheets and finally found it. He answered, still groggy. "Harry here."
"Hey, Harry, me and the guys are downtown at the pizza place. We got some spray paint. Wanna come?"
Harry grinned. "Gimme ten min."
"Will do. See ya soon." Click.
Harry biked down to Giovanni's Pizza and met the guys in the alley. "Sorry I'm late..traffic."
The guys all ignored this comment and threw Harry a can of red spray paint. "It's graffiti time."
"What're we writing today, guys?" Harry needed to know.
The leader, some hoodlum with a nose ring, chuckled and mouthed the f-word. Harry laughed back.
They started on the F. White outline with a green center. They were all laughing and shaking their cans and spraying, having such a good time they didn't notice the police car that pulled up. Giovanni had called the cops.
They all tried to run, but it was too late. The police were big men and easily outran half a dozen teens. One of the policemen chuckled. "You kids were pretty stupid to break the law in broad daylight during business hours." The leader sheepishly shrugged.
It was off to the station. The kids all got warnings and were fined $100 bucks each. They complained that that was too steep, but the police didn't care. Their parents were called.
Harry grandfather picked him up. Harry stepped in, and his grandpa was visibly angry. His face was red. "I'm so ashamed, Harry! If your parents were alive they'd be absolutely horrified." He sighed and drove home. Harry was grounded for a month, and was being docked his allowence until the 100 dollars was paid.
He got up the next morning, tired, exhausted and humiliated. He slipped on a red polo, matching track pants and yellow Nikes. He pulled his bike out of their garage and started his route. Papers flew accurately to doorstops. He got to the house. He stopped again and tossed his paper.
His eyes widened as his paper, which seemed to have been thrown accurately as always, kept flying and flying until it slammed right through a window. He was horrified. He gulped, stepped off his bike, and sheepishly walked up to the porch.
It creaked as his shoes stepped across it. He wiped his feet on the old dingy welcome mat and rang the doorbell. What seemed an eternity was probably only a few seconds, but he heard an audible voice, obviously elderly: "Coming!" He waited. And waited. Finally, an old man, probably ninety, opened up the door. Harry stammered, "I...uh...I broke your window...with my..." The man smiled. "I know. C'mon in, son."
Harry stepped over the threshold and inside the house. "Take a seat, kid."
Harry sat down at the end of the dining room table. The old man walked to the other end and sat.
Immediately the room started to shake. Harry watched, dumbfounded, as the old man grew and changed. The simple dining room chair became a huge throne, the man grew a long white beard and amazing white long hair that reached the floor. He was huge. Harry practically fainted.
The man spoke. "Harry, I'm sorry there wasn't a way to get your attention better. Allow me to introduce myself. I'm Shazam." Harry's eyes were huge saucers. Shazam motioned over to the wall, where Harry saw, engraved in stone, an acronym:
Solomon: Wisdom Hercules: Strength Atlas: Stamina Zeus: Power Achilles: Courage Mercury: Speed
Shazam continued. "I have been fighting evil for many years now, but as you can see, I am old and worn out. It's time for someone else to take over. That's where you come in. When you leave this house and meeting you will have the powers of Wisdom, Strength, Stamina, Power, Courage, and Speed. All you have to do to use them is speak my name: Shazam!" The man paused. "What do you think?"
Harry, in an unexpected turn of events, burst out laughing. "What is this, some kind of joke? Me, a superhero!" He was breathless with mirth. "Yeah right. See ya later." Harry got up and walked out, slamming the door behind him. He was out on the same porch he'd walked in on, old and cheap. He walked to his bike and rode away, not even noticing the already-fixed glass window on the house.
Back inside, Shazam smiled. To himself, he said, "I didn't believe it at first either."
Billy finished his route and rode downtown to meet his friends. He walked into Giovanni's - the old man, working as host, gave him a glare - and back to the bathroom. He put his hand on the door and stopped, thinking of his previous experience. He chuckled to himself. "Heh. Shazam, huh?" He pushed open the door and entered, not even bothering to realize that he'd said the word.
He opened the stall and pulled down his running pants. Man, it was hot in here. He reached for his underwear and stopped. His face went white.
Looking down, he could see the bulge in his underwear beginning to swell. The elastic started to expand as the white briefs stretched tighter and tighter. His heart raced. He grabbed his butt and realized it, too, was enlarging. He then noticed his thighs. They were growing bronzer and bigger, muscles revealing themselves as veins crisscrossed down his legs. His calves ballooned, and his feet grew impossibly fast, pushing at all sides of his shoes until they burst right out. Harry couldn't breathe. He couldn't think, or talk. He just stood and stared, amazed, and beginning to get excited.
He realized he was growing too. He knew he wasn't 5'4" any more. He could see over the very top of the stall. This thrilled him. He was becoming a superhero! A real one! Like in the movies or comics! He quickly pulled up his track pants - now impossibly small, strong, developed legs pushing at the fabric, only reaching down a couple inches past his knees. He could see his member and his thighs, clinging to the fabric. He could see his golden, diamond calves and strong feet. He ran to the bathroom mirror and smiled.
His polo shirt buttons popped off and hit the mirror glass as his shoulders broadened, hardening with bronze muscle and becoming huge and powerful, heaving with every deep breath he took. His shirt, once hanging loose, revealed his two nipples, pushing harder and harder against the tightening cotton weave, his pecs growing to superhuman proportions. He pulled up his shirt and watched the white stomach mold into a gorgeous, chiseled eight-pack. He pulled it back down, but it was already so tight he could still see his god-like physique. His back and shoulder blades pushed out, becoming stronger as they too grew to manhood. He held his hands out in front of him, watching as the fingers lengthened, black hair grew on the back of his hands as they became powerful and strong, two weapons in and of themselves. The growth spread up his pale, undeveloped arms. They ballooned and tanned and grew up to his biceps. He flexed his right arm, and watched in admiration as the tiny muscle grew into a rock hard gun, his sleeves bulging with rippling power. He ran his fingers over his smooth face as it aged. He looked at the new fifteen year old with the light, wispy mustache, his features hardening. He watched as he grew to eighteen, his hair growing out longer, darkening from brown to jet black. The light hair over his lip became bristly as stubble covered his cheeks and chin. His jawline became noticeably more chiseled and firm as he aged to about twenty-five. His eyebrows thickened and arched, covering deep-set blue eyes, contrasting gorgeously with the slicked back, Superman-like black hair on his head. Finally it was over. His polo shirt was above his navel, stretched tight over a physique that Hercules -- the god of strength -- would envy. His 6'2", 215 lb. Grade-A stud frame was looming and powerful. Harry ran his fingers over every crevace, every curve with amazement.
"Now you believe me?" Harry whirled around to see the speaker - Shazam.
Harry nodded. "Yes! Yes, I do believe -- whoa. My voice!" Indeed, his voice had changed too, it was deeper, smooth. In fact, it was like a younger version of Shazam's. Shazam smiled. "You'll get used to it, I think. I have to tell you one more thing -- you don't stay like this. You can say Shazam again and you'll return to normal old Harry."
Harry was ecsatatic. "You mean I can go through that change over and over!?"
Shazam smiled. "Yes, yes. Harry will grow older, and may even pass Captain Marvel in age, but whenever you say Shazam, you'll be this exact same Captain forever. See?" Shazam said his name in a loud, commanding voice, and in a few seconds, a mirror image of Harry's new manly self was standing in front of him. "I'm just like you." Even Shazam's voice was younger.
Harry grinned. "Thank you...thank you so much for believing in me..." Shazam returned to his elderly state and approached the Captain. "You're welcome, Harry. And now -- one more thing." Shazam snapped his fingers. Harry looked down to see the red ensemble he was wearing turn into a skin-tight costume, clinging to every developed muscle on his body. A bright yellow lightning bolt logo was on his chest, right in between his pecs, and his yellow Nikes were now yellow boots. The costume was lightweight, eprfect for crimefighting, and came complete with a superhero-like cape.
Shazam put his hands on Harry's broad, manly shoulders. "Good luck, and Godspeed." The room glowed, and Shazam was gone.
Harry smiled to himself, a newly handsome thirty-year-old man, with a chiseled superhero physique and a uniform to match. Who'd of thought? His parents would be so proud.
"Let's get some lawbreakers."
Harry walked back through the resteraunt, ignoring the quizzical gazes at his costume, and stepped out. He jumped up -- and kept going, flying higher and higher as he flew through the sky. He looked down. Some familiar kids were spraying grafitti on an overpass. He smiled, his newfound sense of justice kicked in, and he swooped downward...
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