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Super Strength Serum

Paula Salzburger was giddy with excitement. She had wanted to be a scientist ever since she was a child, and after years of study, she got a lab assistant job at Sutherland Science. As was standard issue for the female scientists at the company’s main facility outside of Dallas, she was given her own bodysuit. It was pink, her favorite color. After putting it on, she admired her slender frame in the mirror. She was cute in a nerdy way. Her eyes were as green as the grassy plains, she had a few freckles on her cheeks, she wore large circular glasses, and her long brown hair was fashioned into thick twin braids with pink bows on the ends. When she looked at her backside, she blushed and giggled, then left the changing room. Head scientist Susan Carmen was waiting outside to greet her. She was wearing her white bodysuit, her blond hair was neatly curled, and she had a sparkling grin on her face.

“You look so beautiful in that,” she said.

Paula twirled around and approached with an exuberant spring in her step. “So what will we work on first, Miss Carmen?”

Susan chuckled. “Follow me. And please, call me Susan.”

They began walking down a long white corridor that was brightly lit and spotlessly clean. Each door led to a different laboratory or testing room where the company crafted marvelous technologies and miraculous formulae. There were some framed photos and newspaper articles on the walls that showed the company’s past accomplishments. Juan, one of the janitors, waved at them as they walked by.

“So where are you from, Paula?”


“I’ve been there on many occasions. It’s a lovely city. That also happens to be where we perform space flights.”

“I love watching those.”

“Say, are you familiar with Cid Garcia?”

“You mean Cid Garcia de Houston? The Rocket Man? Of course. My grandfather served as his general during the Warlord Era.

“So you are related to Otto Salzburger. I wondered that when I saw your application. I only met him on a few occasions, but he seemed nice, although a bit stern.”

“He was always there to keep Cid from doing anything crazy. There was this one time when Cid thought the enemy was gathering on the horizon, and my grandfather had to explain to him very slowly that those were cows.”

Susan giggled.

Paula continued. “He made his home inside an abandoned nuclear missile silo. Sometimes my family and I would visit him for the holidays and he would show us his military memorabilia. One time while I was there, I found a picture book full of space rockets. I was amazed by what I saw, and from that day forward, I developed a deep love of science.”

“Well, you came to the right place.”

They entered a lab that was stocked full of exotic chemicals. Paula looked around with wonder and intrigue.

“What will we be making?” she asked.

“The government gave us funding to create a super strength serum.”

“What for?”

“Emperor John Brown Jefferson said something about creating super soldiers that would commandeer the power armor we’re currently developing.”

“That sounds like fun.”

Susan grinned. “Let’s get started then.”

The two of them worked until sunset, smiling and chuckling all the while. Susan was impressed by Paula’s work ethic. They made great progress in a short amount of time. They came back early the next day. Paula had a cheerful grin on her face.

“I managed to strike up a conversation with that handsome guy in the rocketry department,” she said.

“Gary Friedman?” Susan asked.

“Yep. That’s the one. We started talking about rockets as soon as I mentioned my last name. I wished I could talk to him all day, but I knew I had a job to do.”

“Perhaps you two should go out sometime.”

“I was already thinking about that.” Paula then asked, “Say, are you married?”

Susan’s smile faded and her normally cheerful demeanor turned gloomy. “No.”

“Why not?”

“Let’s just say I’ve had bad luck with men.”

“How come?”

Susan sighed. “I had a boyfriend back in high school. I thought we had a good thing going, but then I learned he was going out with another girl behind my back. I had another boyfriend in college. I thought he was the one, but then I caught him kissing another girl at a party.” She shook her head. “The men I date end up being unfaithful, so I turned all my attention to science. I keep hoping I can find a good man and start a family, but there’s always that nagging uncertainty in the back of my head.”

Paula didn’t know what to say. She placed her hand on Susan’s.

Susan looked at her and smiled. “But I’m not going to let my experiences taint your view of men.” Wanting to change the subject, she asked, “So shall we get to work?”

“Lead the way,” Paula replied.

As they continued their work, Paula amazed Susan with her diligence and intelligence. They had completed the serum by noon, far ahead of schedule, and began testing soon afterward.

“Paula, can you fetch me the Pogonomyrmex badius?”

“One harvester ant coming right up.” Paula brought over a jar containing the requested specimen. Susan placed a drop of the serum inside and the animal drank it. Paula then placed a screw inside and watched with wide-eyed wonder as the ant lifted it above its head with relative ease. Susan quickly wrote down notes.

“Very nice. Let’s bring in the next subject.”

“By the way,” Paula asked, “why does the emperor want super soldiers anyway?”

“He said they would be useful for conquering the galaxy for the glory of God.”

Up next was a mouse in a cage. They placed a small amount of the serum in its water bowl and waited for it to take a drink. A few seconds later, its muscles grew to an astounding size. Fascinated by this sight, Paula put a small steel rod inside the cage. The animal grabbed it and bent it as easily as one bends a paperclip. She didn’t know what to be more impressed by: that it was able to bend the rod so easily or that it knew what to do with it at that moment. The mouse learned quickly, for immediately afterward, it pried open the bars of the cage and jumped out.

“It’s getting away!” Susan said.

Paula tried to grab it, but the animal proved to be too agile to catch. It jumped to the window, pushed it open, leaped out, and ran off. Before they both knew it, the mouse was out of sight.

“Should we go catch him?” Paula asked.

Susan pondered for a bit then replied, “No, I wouldn’t worry about it. People would know that mouse is abnormal just by looking at it, so it shouldn’t be too hard to find it, catch it, and prevent any damage it might cause. Besides, there’s only wilderness in that direction. Let’s keep focusing on our work.”

Paula nodded and they brought in the last test subject: a reddish-brown octopus in a large glass aquarium.

“Would you like to do the honors this time?” Susan asked.

“Gladly,” Paula said with a grin.

She put in a drop of the serum and it quickly dissolved in the water. The octopus convulsed slightly, then began growing rapidly in size.

“Do you think we made an error somewhere along the way?” Paula asked, slowly stepping back.

The octopus grew so large that it broke the aquarium, spilling water all over the floor. It quickly reached a maximum size. Its body covered a large portion of the counter-top and its tentacles were as thick as the arms of men. Paula let out a high-pitched scream as one of the tentacles wrapped around her waist and lifted her up into the air. Susan had anticipated a scenario like this. She turned around and opened a drawer that contained a revolver. The animal seemed to know what she was trying to do, for it grabbed her by the waist, lifted her up, and slammed her onto the table. Empty beakers and test tubes were knocked off and shattered on the floor. She groaned as another slimy arm coiled around her neck and gripped her tight.

Paula swatted away a tentacle that was trying to touch her breasts and started kicking the creature in its soft, bulbous head. It responded by spraying ink all over her face and chest and wrapping an arm around her legs. Try as she might, she could not free herself from its grasp.

Susan struggled to pull off the tentacle around her neck with one hand while reaching for the gun with the other. Sensing this, the octopus pulled her off the table and onto the floor. The drawer fell out and the firearm landed near her. She reached out and grabbed it just as the beast picked her up again. It slowly brought her and Paula towards its sharp beak-like mouth, which opened wide with hunger. Paula whimpered, closed her eyes, and looked away, convinced she would be some giant beast’s dinner. Susan aimed and fired all six rounds. They tore through the animal’s head as though it were a block of gelatin. It relinquished them, fell limp, and died.

Susan stood up. “Are you alright?”

Paula took off her glasses. “I got inked.” The area around her eyes was unstained.

Susan helped her young assistant back onto her feet and wiped the ink off her. “Looks like we still need to work out the kinks in the serum.”

“As long as I don’t get sexually harassed by a giant octopus again, I’m all for helping you out with that.”

Juan noticed the water leaking out of the room and entered with his mop. “Where’s the leak, ma’am?”


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