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JUDGES CHOICE - Flash Fiction Winner for 2022

Prompt for the contest:

“There is now a pill you can take that will trigger a genetic mutation to make you stronger, smarter and more attractive. You took this pill, but your body is not responding correctly, and you are getting unusual results.”

Contestants were asked to submit short stories of less than 1000 words that worked with this idea.

Sponsored By:


Charles Atlas

Ed Zimmer

The vintage comic book lay on the hardwood floor of the bedroom, it's yellowed pages opened to the Ad section which offered X-Ray glasses that would let you see your bones and 150 army men to create your own massive battles in green plastic. Across the alley on the other side of the book was a full page panel of hopes and dreams and crushing reality. He was the 98 pound weakling getting sand kicked in his face, although he was closer to 89 pounds soaking wet. His tousled brown hair was unremarkable, with none of the bounce of a K-pop star and lacking the luster of a even a well groomed poodle. Normally, black plastic frames held thick lenses that allowed him to approach the visibility of the lucky people, but not this morning. Never again.

Held in a trembling hand, the fingers barely holding on, the glasses were no longer needed. Desperate for a chance at the 'good life', he'd gotten his hands on one of the Terragin tablets and swallowed it. Overnight, his eyesight had gone from legally blind to 20/20. Everything in his room was crystal clear and sharp. Every detail on the 15 and a half inch Transformer collectibles (393 point 7 mm) was resolved in plastic and decals. He could even see two additional configurations that he hadn't realized were possible!

Looking at the mirror though, the physical changes were a bit less thrilling. Staring back was a skinny, 89 pound nerd, only without the glasses. No bulging muscles rippling like The Rock or Superman. No chiseled chin of resolve like Captain America. Super Soldier serum the pill was not, then again, he wasn't being bombarded by Gamma or Vita rays.

Logically, he could feel that what muscles he did have, seemed more resilient. Almost an undercurrent of electricity running through them. His sense of smell was also sharper, he could smell the laundry in the hamper, realized his bed needed to be stripped and washed and was that a decaying crust of sandwich in the far corner behind a box?

Great, he wanted muscles and got Super Smell. Returning to the examination, he started at his hair and went down. Was his hair slightly longer? Seemed to be. (Rate of human hair is 0.21mm per day, his hair was definitely five time that, 1.02mm since last night) Wow, he could really run circles around his AD&D group now! Not to mention setting the curve in math class.

Facial features didn't seem much different, still no facial hair, darn it. Girls loved guys with facial hair, especially freshmen. It seemed like the guys who could produce facial hair were always getting the girls. Continuing his view, he felt that his stomach muscles looked much tighter, even standing out slightly (Yes, they were definitely firmer, probably because they were needed for the tail.)

Tail? The glasses fell from his lifeless fingers as his newly charged mind ran through the probable progressions based on the rate of increase from last night. Within two weeks, he was going to have a tail that was more than a foot long and controlled by the muscles in the stomach region. His hair was going to be a half inch longer and his muscle mass was probably going to be 2.31 times greater than before.

Charles Atlas? More like Chimp Atlas.



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