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|The next morning, Marge and George had breakfast ready for their guests when they came downstairs.
“Good morning everyone,” Marge said. “I hear you caused a bit of a disturbance last night, Andrew. I must insist that you be more careful from now on. Perhaps next time, you could take George with you.”
“Good idea,” agreed Andrew. “I’ll remember that.”
As they began eating, Marge said, “I thought George and I would show you the skylights in the Command Centre before you leave. Where will you go next?”
“We will go to my cottage and prepare for a scouting mission of Alexander’s base,” replied Margaret. “Then we will hopefully be finished with him trying to kill us all.”
“That would certainly be a great help,” agreed Marge. “He certainly caused a lot of trouble a few months ago. I lost count of how many repairs we had to make because of him. Having him on our side would certainly help matters along a bit.”
“That’s good mind reading,” Margaret said. “That is exactly what I was thinking: find a way to turn him good, and then he won’t be motivated to hurt us.”
“How will you turn him good?” Andrew asked.
“Oh I have a few ideas,” Margaret replied. “But it’s best if I keep them to myself for now.”
After breakfast, Marge and George led their guests down the nearest hidden hallway to the Command Centre.
“I noticed that this hall has no skylights,” remarked Sarah. “Is that to keep them hidden from the outside?”
“Yes it is,” agreed Marge. “However, we don’t have to have skylights in this hall anyway, since we don’t need to run the systems in this hall at night. But the power cores run on solar power in the daytime now, using the stored excess energy at night, since only a fraction of the energy pulled in is used to power our devices.”
“That sounds very efficient,” said Margaret. “It should help your equipment last a lot longer than it did before.”
“It will also give us a lot of reserve power for shields and weapons,” Marge added. “As well, the trips into orbit use a lot of power, but the solar energy solves that problem.”
Once the guests had seen the skylights in the Command Centre, Marge and George escorted them back to the Lobby.
“It was a pleasure to have you here again,” Marge said. “Be sure to come again when you pass this way again.”
The three friends said goodbye to Marge and George and then walked along the clearing to the forest path. Then they walked along the path back to Margaret’s cottage. Once there, Andrew and Sarah took their backpacks to their rooms while Margaret parked her car in the garage and refuelled it. Then she came back out.
“Now we should go over our plans for Alexander,” she said. “Basically, I plan to turn Alexander good.”
“How do you plan to do that?” Andrew asked. “A better question would be: he’s tried to kill us so many times, why would you want to?”
“I realized something a few months ago,” Margaret replied. “Alexander has tried to kill us for so many years because I use magic.”
“What does that have to do with anything?” Sarah asked.
“He has tried to destroy another person who uses magic as well,” Margaret reminded her. “Think back to what Alexander was doing 8 years ago when we first met him.”
“He was trying to destroy all Santa’s presents,” Andrew remembered. “Santa uses magic.”
“Precisely,” agreed Margaret. “Very good, Andrew. Now, take it a step further. Why would Alexander hate magic people?”
“Hmm, well, he’s a wolf who speaks English,” mused Andrew. “So it is logical to conclude that he was born human.”
“Bravo,” said Margaret. “That’s it exactly. Now, something must have happened to the person who changed him originally, and now he can’t be turned back. If Alexander felt frustrated, he may have tried to kill us all because I represent the source of his frustration. However, he did look through my spell book when he captured me, probably to find the spell that would change him back. But the closest spell I have found so far is the Metamorphosis spell, and we know what happened with that one.”
“It changed Orillia into a Medieval Town by taking time back about 1000 years,” Andrew remembered.
“Correct,” said Margaret. “However, the simple spell I use to change my car into a van may work better.”
“A car is not as complicated as a living being,” Andrew remarked. “It might be out of the range of your abilities to change him back.”
“Perhaps,” agreed Margaret. “The original Magician who turned him may be the best person to take on the responsibility, if he’s still alive. Let’s go inside and try to find the spell that could be used. We should also contact Marge. She has a whole section of her house devoted to spell books.”
So the five friends spent the rest of the day looking through the spell books. During their frequent breaks, Andrew and Steve worked out, with the 200-pound barbells they had brought.
“These feel way too light,” Andrew remarked. “I should try to bench-press boulders instead.” Then he looked over at Steve, who was struggling to complete one last set of wrist curls. “Sorry Steve.”
“Forget it man,” Steve said. “I have accepted that you are just naturally stronger.”
“Thanks,” Andrew said. “I’m going to find some boulders that are heavy enough.”
“You do that,” Steve agreed. “I’ll be here when you get back.”
Only when Andrew was out of sight in the forest did Steve let a flicker of jealousy show in his face. Then he used his anger to speed up his barbell curls.
Once it approached suppertime, Margaret had not found the spell in any of the books in her cottage.
“We might have to check my house,” she decided. “When we get back. Now it’s time for supper. Let’s go inside and make it. You go find Andrew and Steve, Carrie.”
“Okay,” agreed Carrie. She went outside and saw Margaret’s car moving up and down by itself, apparently. “What’s going on here?” she asked herself.
She came around the woodpile and saw the answer to her question. Andrew was lying under the car, bench-pressing it, with Steve as his spotter.
“Come on man, five more,” Steve encouraged Andrew. He saw Carrie and put a finger to his lips to signal her not to say anything. Carrie was too astounded by Andrew’s strength to speak anyway. Andrew cranked out five more reps, and then let the car down slowly, as he backed out from under it. Then he stood up to see Carrie in front of him.
“Have a good workout?” she asked.
“Oh yes,” said Andrew casually. “The car is about the only weight that is any challenge to me now. How long have you been standing here?”
“Just a couple of minutes,” Carrie replied. “I came to tell you that supper is being prepared. I hope Margaret doesn’t mind that you were bench-pressing her car.”
“I’d rather she didn’t know quite yet,” Andrew said. “She has no idea of the strength tests I have performed lately. I want to gradually work up to revealing all the background information to her. The ease with which I will be able to deal with Alexander will be a good starting point.”
“Okay,” agreed Carrie, holding his hand.
Andrew gently squeezed her hand as they walked back to the cottage.
Once they got changed, and came downstairs, supper was ready. During supper, everyone discussed strategies and changes to their plans on how to deal with Alexander. Then the dishes were washed and put away. Andrew announced that he was going to the lake.
“Okay,” agreed Margaret. “But be careful on the path. There are many boulders and logs blocking it.”
“Which should make a good strength test to make sure I am in perfect shape to face Alexander,” Andrew remarked.
“Oh, I think you have already demonstrated that,” Margaret assured him.
“What do you mean?” asked Andrew warily, afraid that she had seen him bench-press her car repeatedly.
“You showed your great strength in the weight room last night,” Margaret reminded him. “Remember when you benched 900 pounds in 2 times Earth’s gravity?”
“Ah,” said Andrew, relieved that his secret was still safe. “Of course, I remember now. Well, I’ll be off now.”
“Mind if I come along?” Carrie asked, as Margaret, Steve, and Sarah went upstairs.
“Not at all,” said Andrew agreeably. “I would actually like to talk to you.”
“You mean you never wanted to before?” Carrie teased him.
“We never did a lot of talking,” Andrew said, grinning. “We did more of this!”
He hugged her gently and then gave her a big kiss.
“Mmmmppphh!” said Carrie, gradually freeing herself. “Get off me, you big gorilla!” She grinned hugely, delighted with Andrew’s strength.
“Oh, she’s mad now,” sneered Andrew. “What am I going to do now? I guess it will have to be this!” He lunged forward and planted Carrie on his shoulder with one hand. “How do you like the view now?”
“It’s great,” said Carrie. “I love how strong you are. It makes me feel very safe, being the girlfriend of a superman.”
“That name’s already taken,” Andrew said. “But I’ll settle for The Tank.”
“You’re such a joker,” Carrie laughed. “Okay, Tank, test your strength against that boulder on the path.”
Andrew set Carrie down effortlessly, with one hand, and then looked at the boulder, which was as tall as he was.
“If I didn’t know better,” he mused, “I’d think Margaret planted this boulder here deliberately to test my strength.”
“Well, go ahead big boy,” goaded Carrie. “Or do you think it’s too heavy for you?” she laughed.
“Very amusing,” Andrew sneered. “Watch this, and be amazed.”
He placed his massive right shoulder against the boulder and heaved. The boulder shifted into the underbrush along the path, and then began rolling down the hill.
“Yeah!” Andrew yelled. “Now that’s power! I have another idea.”
He ran down the hill after the boulder, and passed it. He stood at the bottom, directly in the path of the boulder, as Carrie watched in amazement.
“Look out: it’s going to hit you!” she yelled. “Get out of the way!”
“No way,” Andrew sneered. “This boulder’s going down!”
Carrie watched in horror as the boulder came right at Andrew. Then her jaw dropped in amazement as Andrew crouched down, and flipped the boulder up over his head so that it soared harmlessly over him. Andrew smirked and began walking up the hill to Carrie.
“I guess I was wrong; the boulder went up, not down,” he grinned.
“That was incredible,” Carrie gasped. “Weren’t you scared?”
“Of course not!” Andrew said. “Nothing scares me: I’m a fearless athlete, remember?”
“I’m not Steve,” Carrie reminded him. “You don’t have to pretend to be fearless with me. Just tell me the truth: were you scared?”
“Okay, I was a little nervous,” Andrew agreed. “But I got a good sense of how heavy the boulder was when I pushed it down the hill. It was about the weight of a car, so I knew I would have no trouble lifting it, even with the extra momentum it had.”
“That’s good,” said Carrie. “I was really scared for a minute there. But as long as you knew what you were doing, I guess that’s okay. Let’s see what else is on the path.”
So they walked further along the path. Andrew shifted more heavy boulders and logs off the path until they reached the lake. Then he began picking up small boulders and throwing them in the lake.
After a few minutes, Andrew sat down beside Carrie on one of the few remaining boulders and said, “That was a great workout.” He was breathing heavily, but not panting.
“How heavy were those boulders?” Carrie asked.
“I’m not sure,” replied Andrew. “A few hundred pounds probably.”
“What is you best lift by now?” Carrie asked.
“It is about car weight: 2000 pounds or so,” Andrew replied. “I have grown so strong, it is hard to tell. You can’t exactly put a car on a scale and weigh it.” He thought for a moment and then grinned, “Well, I could, but where would we find a scale large enough?”
“Maybe Margaret could conjure one up using magic,” Carrie said. “It would be very useful to assign a precise weight to your maximum lift.”
“Yes it would,” agreed Andrew. “That reminds me of what I would like to talk to you about. I am beginning to feel sad about the prospect of leaving home, even with the reception I have waiting for me down in Miami.”
“The reception waiting for us, you mean,” Carrie corrected him. “I will be swept up in the tidal wave of your popularity. Just remember that I will be right beside you.”
“But I will be separated from Sarah and Steve,” Andrew said. “They will be all the way up in Florida State, which is in the north end of Florida.”
“I know,” agreed Carrie. “I feel a little sad that I will be separated from Sarah and my brother too. But at least we will have each other. And with the admirers you have down there, you will soon be too swept up in the football fever to miss home.”
“I guess you’re right,” agreed Andrew. “I’m glad we had this talk: it helped me deal with my feelings about leaving. I guess we should just look forward to the future instead of missing the past.”
“Agreed,” said Carrie, hugging him.
Andrew hugged her back gently, his massive frame covering her.
“You don’t have to be so gentle,” Carrie said. “I can barely feel your arms.”
“Oh you like it rough, do you?” teased Andrew, tickling her in the ribs.
“Stop, stop!” laughed Carrie. “I surrender.”
“Make sure you do,” Andrew grinned, lifting her up by the waist and setting her on his left shoulder. “I wouldn’t want to have to tickle you again.”
“Just try to let me feel your grip,” Carrie said. “I will be sure to tell you when it’s too rough, don’t worry.”
“Okay,” said Andrew, lifting up a huge boulder with one hand.
“What are you doing?” asked Carrie.
“I’m going to see if the boulders reach my limit if I lift them with one hand,” Andrew answered. “Hold on now.”
He picked up the remaining boulders one by one and heaved them into the lake.
“Without my weights, this is a adequate natural substitute,” he remarked. “It also helps me relax and release stress.”
“That’s good,” Carrie said. “It must work, because I can’t remember the last time you were angry.”
“Neither can I,” agreed Andrew. “Even the thought of Alexander doesn’t get me mad now. I guess because I am so strong I could wipe the floor with him effortlessly.”
“Are you planning to have me on your shoulders forever?” Carrie asked, as they headed down the path to the cottage.
“You’re so light, I forgot you were up there,” Andrew teased.
“Thanks for the compliment,” Carrie said. “But I think I’ll get down now.”
Andrew helped her down with one massive hand almost encircling her waist.
“You’re so strong,” Carrie gasped in amazement, “it’s unbelievable.”
“Believe it,” Andrew said, benching a few more boulders in the yard with one hand. “I think I’m done now. Let’s go inside and get to bed.”
So they went inside, showered, changed, and went into their room. Getting under the covers, Carrie snuggled right up next to Andrew’s massive chest.
“Goodnight Andrew,” she said. “See you in the morning.”
“I might do some weightlifting in the early morning hours,” Andrew said, wrapping his arms gently around her. “So don’t be surprised if I’m not here when you get up.”
“Okay,” agreed Carrie, yawning. “Goodnight.”
“Goodnight,” Andrew said. As he drifted off, he thought of how lucky he was to have had such a great home life. His last thought as he drifted off to sleep was how fun the future would be in Miami.
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