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Amulet of the Four Gales, The
|The North Gale gives to those who give.
The South takes from those who take.
But only when the East and the West are upheld will the 4 gales blow.
-Inscription on the Rear of the Amulet of the Four Gales
“Cody! Where are those files!”
I sighed to myself and picked up the phone. “They’re on the network, under ‘Summer Campaign.’”
I held the phone away from my ear as Donald shouted into it, “It’s about time. Don’t you know I need to look over them before I present them to the board.”
Rolling my eyes, I responded, “Yes, I’m aware. But the product was slightly more difficult to make a proper visual ad for.”
“I don’t care! It’s your job to make these ads and I expect you to have them on time.” Donald then slammed his phone down, disconnecting the line and I sighed, “Actually, you’re head visual artist, I think it’s your job.”
Grabbing my pencil, I returned to work on a spray cleaner ad. But, my heart wasn’t really into it. All I could think about is “Why am I here?” I took this job long ago with dreams of filling the skies with my art. But ten years later, I was stuck in the same office drawing for Donald who didn’t seem to care.
Now, you would think after ten years, I would’ve quit or become bitter, but that’s just not me. I disliked Donald at times, but there are a few good qualities about him. He’s charismatic, he works hard at the gym and has an excellent physique, and he can be nice. Unfortunately, none of those characteristics usually came up around me. I wished I could’ve known him differently. He seemed to know a lot about working out. But sadly, I couldn’t be friends with him. He had this snub attitude towards me and the other artists. He thought because he’s lead designer, he’s better than us. Funny thing too, he only got that job by hooking up with the VP of design.
Every day, I saw him walk through the area, that cocky swagger of his working his way across the floor. He picked up Jessica and they would leave, either on some luxury vacation, or some fancy dinner, or simply to go home and have sex all night, leaving us to work tons of hours over for a meager salary.
To my detriment, all these hours working over had killed my social life. I rarely have time to see my friends anymore. I ate tons of fast food and take out, and that just gave me a huge gut. The gym that I joined a while back to try and fix that problem was a 24 hour place, but just doing a little workout the night before killed me at work the next day, and soon after, I quit working out.
Maybe I envied him for that. He was confident enough to go have sex with the VP and get promoted. He worked hard in the gym to maintain his looks. I’d be willing to bet he even had a bathroom full of care products he used. There I was, 29 years old, single, fat, and fairly unhappy. “Maybe I should do something about it.”
I was woken from my daydream by the lunch timer on my computer. I grabbed my lunch and headed to the break room. I sat down to enjoy my meal when I felt eyes on my back. I turned around to see Donald standing there. Every time he’s that close, I was amazed at how big he is. I was 5’7’’ at my last physical and he’s at least 6’4’’. We both probably weighed the same, but I knew for a fact that my 250 lbs was all fat and his was toned muscle. I could see his pecs strain against the silk shirt he wore. His arms were solid mass under the jacket he wore. He even looked better than me in that tailor made suit he got. I could see how women fawned over him. Hell, if my muscles bulged against clothes like that, I’d probably have had women too.
He looked down and me and snickered. I turned back and resumed my meal when Mr. Winters, the president walked in.
“Donald, the board loved your latest idea. They’re going to immediately put it into production. How do you keep coming up with these amazing ideas?”
“Well, you know, I have to say that when you have talent like mine, it just comes naturally.”
“Well, I thought you would want to know that billboards are already being made with that great slogan, ‘All things are possible if you just be-Weave’”
I perked up at hearing that slogan and realized that it was the one I just got finished making this morning. Donald glanced at me with a sly grin and said, “Yeah, thanks a lot for letting me know.”
I wanted to say something right then and there, but I waited till Mr. Winters left. I stood up and said, “That was my slogan. It’s not right for you to claim it as your own.”
Donald walked up to me and lifted me off the floor by my shirt. “No, I think that was my slogan. If you say anything to the contrary, I promise I’ll make your life here a living hell. Besides, who are people going to believe, me, a VP or you, a loser?” He then tossed me aside and laughed as he walked out. I picked myself up off the floor and finished my lunch deep in thought.
I pondered my situation. I wasn’t happy. I worked hours upon hours for little pay, for a job that I didn’t love anymore. I lost a lot of my friends, my body was completely out of shape, and everything sucked. Plus I was at the mercy of Donald’s every whim. I felt like I was back in high school, being forced to do homework for the jocks or be beat on. I thought this kinda stuff was supposed to stop in the real world.
I went home depressed, again, and decided to pull out some stuff that made me feel better. Most of it were pictures of me spending time with my family, but the item that made me feel the most happy was a medallion my grandfather gave me before he died. I loved him more than any other relative, and he cared greatly for me. He gave me this necklace he wore ever since he found it on an excavation. It was a simple design, made from nacre, mother-of-pearl. It was four interlocking circles, each colored differently, but elegantly made. The top circle had a rope of treated rawhide looping through it that slipped over my grandfather’s head easily.
I remember that day so vividly. I was playing with him out in the woods. Even at his age, he was a vibrant man, full of spirit and life. We would spend hours upon hours playing games, walking, running, fishing, or just talking. He would take me to little league games because my parents couldn’t and he would always cheer me on from the stands. I think I spent more time at his place then I did at home. Anyway, we’re out running in the woods and he stops me. He gave me a hug and a noogie. I laughed, pushing against his big chest and he chuckled, holding me closer. Then he let go of me. He kneeled down and took off his medallion. Putting it around my neck, he gave me a gentle kiss on the cheek and said, “This is a very special amulet. When I found it, I translated the inscription I found on the back side.” He turned it over and showed me this kanji script. “It translates loosely to: ‘The North Gale gives to those who give. The South takes from those who take. But only when the East and the West are upheld will the 4 gales blow.’ I figured out a while ago what it meant, but you have to figure it out for yourself. Take care of this and yourself boy. I’m not going to be around much longer.”
I didn’t understand what he was saying then, but it felt foreboding. He quickly perked up though and continued our romp through the forest. A month later he died. I cried for almost a week straight over the loss of my grandpa. I quit all my little league stuff and I had my parents buy a special box to put his medallion in and a picture of him and me together, so I would always have something to remember him by. Even now, it hurts, but I still can feel his love from his gift.
I went to the bed with the velvet box and opened it, gazing upon the laminated picture of me and him after my first t-ball game. I smiled at the memory then looked down at the mother-of-pearl jewelry. It seemed so warm and inviting, conjuring memories of my grandfather working hard, lifting weights and exercising in the warm August sun, inviting me to join him in his physical activities. It also invoked memories of safety and comfort, memories of me sleeping in his lap, safe in his warmth, and memories of me in his tight bear hug, protected from the monsters that would threaten me. I sighed, wishing I could feel that once again. I gingerly took the medallion out of its box and closed the velvet case. Holding it close, I wiped away a tear from the corner of my eye and whispered, “I miss you grandpa.”
I took the rawhide strap in my hands and slipped it over my head. Slowly guiding the medallion down, it came to rest in the center of my pudgy chest. Looking down at it reminded me once more of how good it looked on my grandpa, how big and thick his chest was, how firm his pecs were, how massive his biceps bulged and how good he looked, and it also reminded me how horrible I looked. I didn’t even bother taking it off before I cried myself to sleep, curled in a fetal position.
I woke up about two hours before it was time for me to go to work. I walked to the bathroom, catching myself in the mirror en route. I stood there for a few minutes and just stared. My eyes were puffy from the crying I did last night, my posture was horrible. My shoulders hung down as if I were slouching. I had man-boobs that rivaled most women and my gut sagged over the waistband of my boxers. I had fat everywhere, from my head down to my pudgy torso and onward to my chunky legs. I didn’t look, but I knew that my package wasn’t much better. Hell, I was single for a reason. And then I saw the medallion again. All those memories of grandpa came flooding back, and suddenly I felt shame. I knew he wouldn’t be happy with me because I wasn’t happy with me. I decided that, after my breakdown last night, I needed to change my life. I was going to tell Donald that day that I couldn’t work all this overtime anymore. Right after work, I was going to find a gym, get a trainer and whip myself back into shape.
Donald had a new campaign waiting for me when I arrived on time. Seems from what the buzz was, the board was so impressed with his latest ‘idea’ that they gave him three more projects, which he in turn passed down to us. I started work, but made it a point to talk to him today about me getting off at a reasonable hour from now on.
I got my chance around 2 that afternoon. I was walking to the restroom and he was just finishing up. I bumped into him and excused myself and he growls back, “Watch yourself pip squeak.”
I hesitated, but decided I need to start being bolder. “Donald,” I started, “I need to speak to you about my work schedule.”
“Oh really, what is it?” he responded in a condescending tone.
“I have to start getting off at reasonable times. I can’t stay till 11 every night any more.” I noticed that one of the administrative assistants raised an eyebrow as she passed and I assume that Donald also saw because he grabbed me roughly by the shoulder and pushed me into the men’s room.
“Now look here you little prick,” Donald snarled as he shoved me against the bathroom wall, “I am this fucking close to a raise and you’re going to fucking keep doing what you’ve been doing. Or else I swear I’ll get you fired so fast your fucking head will spin.”
As soon as he said that, a bolt of light seemed to tunnel its way through the roof and engulf him. He seemed to be screaming, but no sound left his anguished mouth. I began to panic as I saw his body seemingly racked with pain and then it started. Suddenly, the suit that fit so well seemed to become looser on his body. His muscles and size slowly began to leave him, shrinking him slowly but evidently. His chest, which swelled against the jacket every time he inhaled gradually became smaller and smaller, to the point where the shirt began to flutter around in the pillar of light. His legs, which were thick like tree trunks that threaten to burst through his pants slowly shortened and shrank. It looked like a kid was trying to wear a grown adult’s pants as his legs grew smaller and smaller. His waist, which used to be part of his tapered torso, began to inflate, as if all his muscle was turning to fat and migrating there. I watched with morbid curiosity as the muscles gained from years of work in the gym slowly deflated and the height that he loved slowly dissipated. After it all was over, he floated there, not even a shadow of his former self. He now looked more like me than a charismatic muscle giant and I began to become exceptionally worried.
Then suddenly, my world turned white and I felt indescribable pleasure surge through my body. It felt like an orgasm, only a hundred times more intense. I had never felt anything like it before, not even when I first lost my virginity. But even through the immense bliss, I felt my body. It began to change as I floated in a world of nothingness. I could feel my gut shrink down, the tail of my shirt fluttering in a cool breeze. I felt my pecs tighten and shrink, then expand with new muscles. My legs stretched against the loose pants I wore to the point of rupturing. The hem of the slacks began to slide up my calves as I felt my bones stretching to accommodate my new size. I saw my arms, slowly growing and the veins in them working their way to the surface. I slowly flexed my arm, seeing the bicep swell to a huge size and ripping the sleeve of my shirt. It felt so amazing.
Then suddenly, I was back in the men’s room, but things had changed. Before me was a shrunken version of Donald. He was short and pudgy now and was screaming as he wondered what happened to his body. I instead, took a more quiet approach to this newfound situation. I felt more alive and more powerful than ever before. I ran my hands all over my body, feeling tight, rock hard muscle everywhere. If you’ve been fat and short for most of your adult life, then suddenly you were this tower of muscle, you would begin to understand how I felt at that moment. Every part of me seemed to swell with muscle. I glanced down and I could see my package without having to suck my gut in. Just the realization of that was too much excitement for me and I let out a whoop. Even my voice was better, drenched in a deep silky baritone. “Fuck yeah, I’m huge! Look at this muscle! I don’t have a gut! I can see my penis!” Then I realized that it was even bigger and thicker than I could imagine and I was lost in ecstasy. I took it out right then and there and began to stroke it, enjoying the new length and girth of my now impressive tool. My glance fell upon my corded forearms, thick with meaty muscle and up to my massive biceps that were bigger than my former legs.
I was too lost in my self exploration to notice how small and girlish Donald sounded now. He was complaining about his size and what happened to him or something when suddenly I heard a third voice speak up, “This is balance Donald.”
I stopped and looked up to see this ethereal figure standing in between us. Neither I nor Donald moved as it spoke. “The Keeper of the Amulet has suffered from your whims long enough, and the North and South Gales have decided to balance the scales. This is what they have decreed. The bodies you see before you are how they have judged. Now Keeper,” he said as he rotated towards me, “are you pleased with how the scales have been tipped to your favor?”
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