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She Started to Grow By Astrogator

Page history last edited by PBworks 15 years, 2 months ago

SHE STARTED TO GROW

By Astrogator

 

 

 

 

She started to grow and he didn't and that was the problem from the very beginning and from that bare fact everything else followed. Looking back on the early days, when things started to happen, the first thing Bill noticed was Valerie's suddenly surging appetite.

 

"You are really putting it away," he said one night at the dinner table. "You never use to eat like this."

 

Valerie reached for another pork chop and spooned rich brown gravy over it. "You eat like a pig," she said. "You have no right to tell me how to eat."

 

"I am not trying to tell you how to eat," he said. "I am just wondering why you suddenly are eating so much."

 

Valerie dropped the bone on her plate and reached for another one. "I cooked those pork chops," she said. "I can eat them if I want to. You had three, I am having three." She ate.

 

Bill tried to make his voice warm and full of the concern he felt. "Of course, Honey," he said. "I was just wondering if there was something wrong. I mean, are you upset about something?"

 

"I am not upset," Valerie shouted, but her mouth was not quite empty and a piece of mashed potato shot out, landing on the table between them. Her hand lashed out with her napkin and brushed the offending fragment away. "Does being hungry mean I am upset?"

 

"Food is comforting when something is bothering you," he said. "Are you mad at me?"

 

"Should I be?"

 

"I don't know," he said. "You tell me."

 

Valerie didn't answer. She reached for her glass of merlot and drained the last swallow.

 

"Please tell me what is wrong," Bill said.

 

"I don't want to talk about it," she said.

 

He could not help a feeling of pleasure. "Then it is true,"

 

he said. "You are mad about something."

 

"I am not mad." She eyed the last pork chop.

 

He reached for the pork chop with his fork. It bothered him to see her stuffing herself like this. It would be better if he took the pork chop, even though he was full, rather than let her go on shoving more food into her mouth.

 

"No you don't," Valerie said, snatching the serving tray out from under his fork.

 

"I didn't know you wanted it," he lied. "Go ahead. I am full."

 

She smiled meanly. "I don't want it," she said. "But that doesn't mean you have to clean the platter, does it?"

 

Bill dropped his eyes, feeling a little guilty. Actually, he wanted that pork chop, as much as he hated to admit it, even in the privacy of his own brain. He pushed his plate away, picked up his wine glass which still had a few sips in it and said, "I guess I'll go work on the bills."

 

Valerie nodded. "Go ahead. I'll clean up and later we can watch Masterpiece Theatre. They are showing Part 3 of The Golden Crown."

 

Bill rose and went into the study and got out the bills for last month. As he worked, he was comforted by the clatter of crockery coming from the kitchen. It reminded him of evenings in his childhood and for a moment, he thought he detected a whiff of Sir Walter Raleigh pipe tobacco burning in his father's old briar pipe. Then he realized he was smelling burning leaves from the house next door, coming in through the open window. It was Indian summer, he thought.

 

The sudden silence in the kitchen caught Bill's attention. He got up and crept out of the study, down the hall, and peered at the reflection of Valerie in the hall mirror. She was holding the pork chop between thumb and forefinger and eating it greedily. Bill felt sick and sad and he hoped that she would stop.

 

 

 

- - -

 

 

 

Valerie did not stop that week or the next. There was Thanksgiving, then christmas holidays and an endless round of parties and holiday meals. "I have already decided what my new year's resolution is going to be," she said, after a huge christmas dinner at a neighbor's house. "I am going to lose fifteen pounds."

 

Bill looked at Valerie as she stood in front of the full length mirror in her slip. "You don't look fifteen pounds overweight," he said.

 

"I am," she said. "I just weighed myself. And my clothes don't fit."

 

"You must have been underweight," he said. "Really, Valerie, it looks good on you."

 

Valerie turned and smiled at him and there was a touch of shyness in her expression that charmed him. "I don't want to get any heavier than this," she said, turning back to the mirror. "I just weighed myself and I was one hundred-thirty-five pounds."

 

Bill was lying on the bed in his shorts, holding a tattered paperback novel that he had been trying to get interested in. He lay the book aside and concentrated on his wife, surprised at how vital and desirable she suddenly seemned. "I like you just the way you are," he said. "Stay that way."

 

Valerie shook her head and ran her hands over her hips and stomach. "I'll have to start jogging. I'll start tomorrow. I need to get down to one hundred twenty."

 

"You would be a scarecrow," he said.

 

Valerie turned put her hands on her hips. "Oh yeah? You never called me a scarecrow before. I have been one twenty since high school and you never complained that I was too skinny."

 

Something wasn't right, Bill realized. "You must be mistaken," he said. "Maybe there is something wrong with the scale." He got up and went into the bathroom. The scale told him he weighed 205 which was the same as the scale down at the gym. He went back into the bedroom. "How tall are you?"

 

"Five four," Valerie said.

 

Bill said, "Are you sure?"

 

Valerie reached for her purse. "You want to see my driver's license?"

 

He waved his hand. "I don't believe it. I'll just measure you." He went to the back porch and got a six foot carpenter's rule out of the tool box. When he came back, Valerie was in bed. It took some coaxing to persuade her to get up, but she did and he held the rule next to her back. "You are five six," he said.

 

"What?" Valerie's surprise was obvious. "That's impossible."

 

He laughed. "How old were you when you got your driver's license? Sixteen? So you grew a couple of inches since then. That's not surprising." He put his arm around her and gave her a squeeze. "You aren't fat, Honey. You are just right."

 

 

 

- - -

 

 

 

A week later, Bill was beginning to worry. When he came home from work and went into the bedroom, the bed was piled high with new clothes. "Valerie, what have you done?"

 

"One hundred forty," Valerie wailed from the bathroom as she stood on the scale. "I have been jogging three miles a day!"

 

"You have been eating like a horse," he said, fuming. "I thought you were going to go on a diet after the new year." She came out of the bathroom and he looked at her. "It's only five pounds," he said, running his eyes over her body. She looked leaner and firmer since she had started jogging. "You look good. But you had better start watching what you eat."

 

"I try," Valerie said, in a plaintive voice. "But I get so hungry. I can't help myself."

 

"I know this sounds crazy, but you look taller," Bill said. "Let me get the rule." He went for the rule and this time he made Valerie stand with her back to the door frame. He marked the top of her head on the door facing with a pencil, then measured it with a rule. "Five seven," he said. "You have grown an inch."

 

"Check it again," she said. "I can't be an inch taller than last week. You must have made a mistake."

 

He scowled. "I guess I know how to use a carpenter's rule," he said. "This is ridiculous."

 

Valerie laughed. "Of course," she said. "Dinner's ready, let's eat."

 

He regarded her sharply. "You already have dinner ready? But it is only five-thirty."

 

"I am starving," she said.

 

"Valerie! Get hold of yourself," he said.

 

She stepped back from him and gestured at her body. She was wearing a brand new sweat suit. "Do I look like a fat slob?"

 

"No," he said. "But you are the one who complains about your weight. If you want to lose weight, you are going to have to cut down on what you eat."

 

"I am starting a high protein diet," she said. "I have a feeling that this is going to do the trick. Just to make sure, I am going to start jogging five miles every day."

 

Valerie was telling the truth about her diet. That night she put away a twelve ounce steak. When she was finished, she sat back in her chair and looked at him across the table, a look of deep satisfaction on her face.

 

 

 

- - -

 

 

 

"You have grown another inch in the last week," he said, pointing to the two pencil marks on the wall. "There is no doubt about it."

 

Valerie put her hand to her mouth and looked up at him. "I am almost as tall as you now," she said. "Something is wrong with me!"

 

"You had better see a doctor tomorrow," he said. "This could be dangerous."

 

Valerie nodded her head vigorously. "I will," she said. "I will see a doctor tomorrow."

 

 

 

- - -

 

"What did the doctor say," Bill asked.

 

Valerie shrugged. "He told me to come back in about three months," she said.

 

 

 

- - -

 

 

 

"It's only three weeks," Valerie said, as they approached the doctor's office. "He said three months."

 

"We can't afford to wait that long," Bill told her. "You are almost six feet tall. You weigh a hundred sixty-five pounds!"

 

"But I feel all right," Valerie said. "We should wait three months like the doctor said."

 

Bill opened the door and herded Valerie in. She had a brand new dress on, new shoes, and she was two inches taller than he was in her high heels. The receptionist gave them a funny look, then asked them to be seated. "We shouldn't bother the doctor about this," Valerie said, in a shaky voice.

 

"We can't take chances with your health," he said.

 

Dr. Soames opened the door to the waiting room and came out waddling in his white coat and rumpled blue suit. He looked at Valerie, then looked at Bill. "I think you should find another doctor," he said. "Judy will give you your family medical records."

 

"I knew he would be angry," Valerie said.

 

"Aren't you going to see her?" Bill asked.

 

"This woman is not my patient," Dr. Soames said. "Get out right now or I will telephone the police."

 

"What has gotten into you, Dr. Soames?" Bill said. "Don't you recognize me? Don't you recognize Valerie?"

 

"Please don't make a scene," the doctor said, and turned to his nurse. "Judy, if they are still here in five minutes, call the police." He turned and waddled out of the waiting room.

 

Bill wanted to argue, but Valerie pulled at his arm. "Come one, Bill, let's go. We don't want any trouble."

 

 

 

- - -

 

In the weeks that followed, Bill tried in vain to get Valerie to see another doctor, but she refused. She increased her jogging to seven miles a day, and started wearing men's clothes because it was impossible to find women's clothes in her size. She would not stop eating too much and Bill was convinced that it was the eating that was causing her to grow. "Go to a doctor," he said. "He'll give you something to dampen your appetite. Maybe if you lose weight, you'll get shorter."

 

They were in the bedroom, going through the weekly ritual of measuring Valerie and marking her height on the door. The last mark was well above the top of the door now. Valerie was six feet eleven inches tall and she weighed two hundred sixty-four pounds. Valerie stood straight against the door with her firm breasts jutting out. Bill reached high above his head with the pencil in his hand and made the mark. "I have barbecued ribs, sausage, and chicken tonight," she said, smiling down at him.

 

His eyes were no higher than the tips of her breasts and it made him feel strange to look up to see her face. Bill was a tall man himself and he was not used to being around people who were taller than himself. It was such a rare experience that it was quiet impressive when it happened. Now, he found himself living with a woman who was almost seven feet tall. "I am not hungry," he said.

 

Valerie wrapped her arms around him, stooped slightly and kissed his forehead. "Poor Bill," she said. "I am sorry about that." Her hand touched his left eye which was now swollen and looked blue when he studied it in the mirror.

 

"It's all right," he said. "I shouldn't have tried to manhandle you. I won't ever do it again."

 

"And I promise I will never hit you again," she said. "I am so sorry. I felt sick at my stomach when I realized what I had done."

 

That morning, he had tried to drag her to a hospital. She had lost patience with him and knocked him down with one blow of her fist. Valerie had always been strong, and doubling her mass had made her stronger still. "You forgive me, don't you?"

 

"Of course," he said. "It was my fault. I should not have tried to make you do something you did not want to do."

 

She took his arm and led him to the dining room. She had to curtsy as she went through the door which was two inches shorter than she was in her brand new pajamas.

 

Bill was dismayed when he saw the huge dinner that Valerie had prepared. He had calculated that she was now eating forty- four dollars worth of food a day, most of it protein. The amount of food she ate kept going up week by week. She was now eating twice as much each day as she had in late November.

 

"We need to find some way to save on food," he said. "All this meat costs money."

 

Valerie sat down at her place at the end of the table. Her chair groaned under the strain of her weight. "I have been thinking," she said. "I should get a job."

 

"No!" Bill said. "You can't go out like this," he said.

 

Valerie stared at him in dismay. "Do you think I look like a freak?"

 

"No, of course not," he said. "But you don't want people to stare at you, do you?"

 

"You are ashamed of me!" Valeries said. She grabbed a tray and scooped it full of sausage, brisket, and chicken, then ran from the dining room to the bed room where she locked herself in.

 

Bill went and tapped on the bed room door. He could hear the sound of sobbing and chewing coming from within. "Valerie?"

 

She did not answer. The sounds of eating did not stop.

 

"Valerie, please open the door," he said.

 

"Go away," she shouted with her mouth filled with food.

 

"Valerie, if you don't open this door, I am going to break it down," he said.

 

Valerie did not answer.

 

"I want to help you, Valerie," he said. "You need help. You must realize that. What is happening to you is not normal. I know you are afraid, even if you won't admit it to yourself. Let me in so we can talk."

 

There was silence in the bedroom.

 

"I am your husband, Valerie," he said. "You have no right to shut me out. Now open the door right now."

 

Bill waited a few seconds, then slammed the door hard with his shoulder. Twice more he smashed into the door and on the third blow the door splintered. Valerie had been sitting on the bed with the tray of food on her lap. She rose and looked at him with an old excitement. "Bill!" she said, and held her arms wide. He went to her and she pushed him onto the bed and started pulling at his clothes. He was caught by surprise, but his body responded to her embrace, her touch, and her smell. It was their last lovemaking for a long time.

 

 

 

- - -

 

Bill came home from work, tired, and put down his lunch box in the kitchen. There was no food prepared and he was pleased. He had grown to hate the sight of food and he hated to watch her eat. It was July and Valerie still jogged seven miles a day, but she only went out of the house at night. Bill looked toward the bedroom and felt a reluctance to go in there. In the two months since they had last made love, Valerie had grown another foot. He had no idea how much she weighed because the bathroom scale only went up to two hundred seventy five. He guessed she must be anywhere from 350 to 400 pounds.

 

Bill was startled to hear Valerie's voice coming from the bedroom. Who was she talking to? They no longer allowed any visitors, not since Valerie had become a giantess. Bill went to the bedroom and pushed back the curtain. Inside, he saw Valerie sitting up on the two mattresses she used for a bed. She was leaning against the wall and cradling a young black man on her lap.

 

"Valerie!"

 

The black youth started and tried to get up, but Valerie held him. "Stay where you are, Robert," she said. "I want you to meet my husband, Bill."

 

"Who is he?" Bill demanded, his finger pointed at the young man.

 

"A friend," Valerie said. "He is my friend, and I think you and he should get acquainted."

 

"And just how did you meet?"

 

Robert struggled once again to disentangle himself from Valerie's embrace, but it was futile. He was helpless as a child in her grasp and he would stay where he was until she was ready to let him go. "He came to rob us," Valerie said.

 

Robert looked at Valerie with wide eyes. "Please don't say that, Mrs. Barker! I never had no such intention." He looked at Bill with pleading eyes. "It's not true, Mr. Barker!"

 

Bill walked up beside Valerie and studied the young man. "So you came to steal and you fell into Valeries hands," he said. "That was bad luck for you." He looked at Valerie. "Good work, Honey. I'll call the police, if you haven't already."

 

As he turned toward the phone, she said, "No, don't. I don't want the police in here, gawking at me. And I don't want them to take Robert away to jail."

 

"But Valerie, he is a criminal," Bill said. "We can't just let him go to rob other people."

 

"Yes we can," she said. "Because he is not going to steal anymore. Isn't that so, Robert?"

 

Robert nodded. "Yes ma'am. That is, if you will keep your promise."

 

"You can trust me, Robert," she said. "And I know I can trust you. You better get home now and don't forget to tell your mother thank you for the cookies."

 

Robert popped out of Valerie's lap and started to brush past Bill. Bill grabbed Robert by the h\arm and held on. The young man tried to jerk his hand loose, but Bill's work hardened hands held him like pliers. "You aren't going anywhere just yet."

 

"Let go of him," Valerie said.

 

"But Valerie!"

 

"I am not going to say it again, Bill." Her voice was low, calm, and strong. Bill and Valerie looked into each others eyes and he felt a tingle. He let go of Robert's wrist and stepped away.

 

"What promise did you make to him?" he said, when Robert was gone.

 

"It was nothing," she said. "I just promised him that he could come back and see me whenever he wanted to."

 

"What for? Why would he want to see you again? What would you do?"

 

"Just talk," she said. "Robert needs someone to talk to. Someone who can listen and help. His father is in prison, his sister is a prostitute, and his mother is too crippled to work. Life came down too hard on poor Robert. That's why he became a burglar. He thought that if he just had money, he could make everything all right. But he was wrong. More than money, he needs a friend. And so do I."

 

"You? Why do you need a friend?" Bill said. "You have me."

 

"No, you have me," she said. "I am an albatross around your neck, Bill. I feel so useless. It is good for me to be needed. Robert needs me."

 

Bill stared at her for a moment, then shook his head slowly. "He'll never come back. How could you be so gullible?"

 

"We'll see," she said, and he nodded in agreement.

 

Valerie got up and adjusted her clothes. She was wearing a pair of huge brown shorts and a T-shirt from a "big man" shop. She moved slowly and her head almost touched the ceiling. She was big and strong, but she seemed to struggle against her great weight. "I'll fix dinner," she said. "I am starving."

 

"Would you like me to do that?" he said. "You appear to be tired."

 

"No, I can still manage in the kitchen," Valerie said. "I don't know how much longer I will be able to."

 

"This can't go on," Bill said. "You can't keep getting bigger and bigger. Eventually, you won't be able to get up."

 

Valerie waved her big hand. "Eventually, you may be right. But we aren't there yet. In the meantime, I'll manage as best as I can." She started to take a step, but Bill suddenly stepped in front of her and laid his head on her stomach.

 

"Valerie, why did this happen?"

 

"I don't know, Bill," she said. "It just did."

 

"I miss you so much," he said.

 

"I am right here." She put her hand on the top of his head. "I haven't gone anywhere. I'll never leave you, but you may leave me. When the time comes that you have to go, you just go and don't look back."

 

He wanted to say that he would stand by her, no matter what happened. He wanted to say that he would never abandon her. But he could not say it because he knew it was not true.

 

 

 

- - -

 

Robert came back the next day, and after that he came twice a week. He came when Bill was at work, but sometimes he met Bill coming home just as he was leaving. Robert started wearing nicer clothes and he got his hair cut. His juvenile smirk changed to a friendly smile and when he greeted Bill, his words revealed respect without groveling. "Good day, Mr. Barker," Robert said, as Bill came home. "I wanted to thank you what you and Mrs. Barker have done for me."

 

"What have we done?" he asked.

 

"You straightened me out. I have a good job now. I met a nice girl. I am going to make it."

 

"I haven't done anything," Bill said. "It was Valerie."

 

"She is an incredible woman," Robert said, his eyes gazing off into the distance. "Sometimes, I get the feeling that she can see inside my head. She sees me for what I really am, without any bullshit, and says it's all right."

 

Bill felt a chill on his back. He had begun to get a similar feeling. "I know what you mean," he said.

 

 

 

- - -

 

"Money is becoming a problem," Bill said, looking up at Valerie. She was over eight feet tall now, and could not stand up straight inside the house. She no longer went outside and she had to crouch when she stood up.

 

"Poor Bill," Valerie said, bending over as she spoke to him. "I think it is time that I started to help out around here." She turned and picked up her purse. It was actually a cloth bag with a carrying strap. She reached in and took out a handful of money.

 

"Where did you get this?"

 

"My friends," she said. "They wanted to help, so I let them."

 

Bill took the wad of bills and squeezed it. It looked like hundreds of dollars. "You mean those groupies of yours?"

 

"They are my friends," she said. "I need a larger place to live. I need a room with a ceiling high enough that I can stand up and a door that I can go through without bending over. I need a place where my friends can visit me and I can talk to them. I need a room where I can work out. I don't get enough exercise anymore."

 

"That will take money," he said.

 

Valerie handed over the cloth bag. "Here," she said. "Is it enough?"

 

Bill peered into the bag, the felt the rolls of bills with his hand. "Yes, it looks like it will be enough. We can put on an addition and raise the ceiling in here. That will hold us for awhile."

 

"Guess what," Valerie said. "Dr. Soames came by. He wanted to tell you he was sorry. He offered to look after me for free."

 

Bill could not help sneering. "I'll bet. What's in it for him?"

 

"I don't question his motives," Valerie said. "I am grateful for his generosity. You are too suspicious of people, Bill. He wants to meet with us this weekend. He'll come here on Saturday."

 

"He probably wants to write you up for the medical journals," Bill said.

 

"I don't care," Valerie said. "I need to have a doctor. Soames was my doctor before this all began. I don't care what his reasons are."

 

 

 

- - -

 

After they moved into the new house, Valerie was happy for awhile, but Bill rationed out the grocery money. Dr. Soames had put Valerie on a restricted diet, hoping to stop her growth. He had given her drugs to suppress her appetite, but they did not seem to be effective. "It is psychological," Dr. Soames explained. "Valerie is not truly hungry when she eats, but she has aquired the habit of eating enormous amounts and she simply will not stop."

 

Bill put Valerie on a strict budget of eighty dollars a day for food, and she complained incessantly. He suspected that her friends were bringing her food while he was away at work. He began to dread going home each day to face the problem that was Valerie because he had no answer for it. He knew he was working himself up to leaving her.

 

One day he stopped at a bar on the way home to have a beer and he saw his own house on the television. "Turn that up," he yelled at the bartender. "That's my house!"

 

The announcer was a local news woman, a pretty blonde with a perky manner, named Eva Blaine. "Today, the Unblinking Eye visits the home of Valerie Barker," the news woman said. "I think you will agree when you have met Valerie, that she is one of the most remarkable women of all time. Let's just go up to the door and see if she is at home." Bill watched in horror as the camera bounced up the driveway behind the bouncy newswoman and zoomed in on the oversized front door he had put in.

 

Eva stopped at the entrance and posed next to the big door handle which was over five feet above the stoop. Valerie had complained about having the door handle knee height, so he had installed it halfway up the eleven foot door. "I'll just ring the bell," Eva said, and pressed the button. The door bell was at normal height, although Valerie had complained about that as well. Bill pointed out that the bell was for visitors, not for her.

 

Valerie opened the door almost instantly and Bill realized she must have been waiting behind it for Eva to ring the bell. "Valerie Barker," Eva said. "I am Eva Blaine of the Unblinking Eye. Would you mind if we come in and take some pictures."

 

"Come in," Valerie said, and Bill suddenly realized how harsh her deep voice must sound to those who had not grown use to it as it had deepened over the last few months. Eva and her camerman followed Valerie into the living room where Valerie stood comfortably straight under the twelve foot ceiling. It was an old house. Eva turned to the camera and addressed the audience.

 

"Yes, ladies and gentlemen, this is Valerie Barker. I assure you that this is no trick photography or illusion." She turned and spoke to someone off-camera, "Mr. Barker, would you please go stand beside Mrs. Barker?"

 

Dr. Soames appeared and gazed hesitantly into the camera. "Actually, I am Mrs. Barker's physician," he said. "I am Dr. Soames."

 

"You'll do fine, Dr. Soames," Eva Blaine said. "Please stand beside Mrs. Barker so everyone can see how tall she is."

 

Eva then proceeded to interview Dr. Soames, from off camera.

 

"Do you have any explanation for Mrs. Barker's condition, Doctor?"

 

Soames cleared his throat. "Valerie is suffering from a unique eating disorder previously unknown to medical science. For want of a better name, I have proposed the name DIGS. It stands for diet induced growth syndrome."

 

"Is DIGS contagious?"

 

"No, Eva," Dr. Soames said. "DIGS is a genetic disorder."

 

"Please describe DIGS for us."

 

"Yes. Uh. DIGS is characterized by a tendency for the body to convert excess caloric intake into bone and muscle instead of fat."

 

"It sounds like a blessing to me," Eva commented. "What do you say, Valerie?"

 

"I suppose I would rather be tall than fat," Valerie said. "But the problem is, I can't stop eating. The bigger I get, the more I want to eat. I have tried diets, drugs, exercise ... everything. I get scared sometimes because I don't know where this is going to end."

 

"How about it, Dr. Soames? How big can Valerie get? Isn't there anyway to stop her growth?"

 

"I am afraid that, unless Valerie is able to overcome her eating disorder, there is no alternative to surgical methods. There are numerous successful treatments of obesity by wiring the jaws shut. This makes it physically impossible for the patient to eat, therefore ..."

 

Bill downed his beer quickly and hurried home as fast as he could. When he got there, there was a crowd of newsmedia outside the house. Someone recognized him and they converged on him. The questions came at some quick and loud that he could not make them out or tell who was asking, but one man with a strong voice cut through the din and said, "Mr. Barker, how much did channel four pay you for the exclusive interview with your wife?"

 

"I don't know what you are talking about," Bill said, and pushed his way to the door. It was locked, but he opened it with his key and went in.

 

Valerie was sitting in her special chair watching the interview on television. She smiled at Bill when he came in. "I am glad you are home," she said.

 

"Why did you do that?" he demanded. "Why did you make a spectacle of yourself?"

 

"For the money," she said. "We needed the money."

 

"What for?"

 

"So we can go away." She leaned forward, and looked down at him like a goddess on her throne. "It's the only solution for me. I don't want to have my jaws wired shut."

 

He found it difficult to be near her. She was so big that standing in front of her he felt like a child. "Where do you want to go, Valerie?"

 

She picked up a magazine from the table beside her and held it out to him. "There is an island in the south pacific," she said. "It is for sale. I want to go and live there."

 

He shook his head. "We cannot afford an island!"

 

"Not yet," she said. "But soon we will be able to."

 

"How?"

 

"I got one hundred and fifty thousand from the TV station for the interview," she said. "And that is only the beginning. Already I have gotten offers totaling over a million and my agent says we should be able to earn over a hundred million in public appearances, promotions, and endorsements."

 

"You have an agent? When did all this happen?"

 

"It all happened today," Valerie said. "The interview was aired on the ten o'clock news last night and shortly after you left for work, the phone started to ring off the wall."

 

"Last night? You mean the interview was recorded yesterday and you never told me about it?"

 

"That's right," Valerie said. "It has been on TV four times already. About the agent, it was Robert's idea. As soon the networks picked up the story and ran it nationally, I had no trouble getting one of the best agent's in the country. His name is Gregory Morton. Wait till you meet him. He is full of ideas for making money off of this thing. In a year, maybe less, we'll have enough money to go away."

 

Bill clenched his fist and paced up and down. He turned back to her and demanded, "What is it all for, Valerie? What good is it going to do to go away?"

 

"Isn't it obvious, Bill? It is a desert island. There is no food there. All we have to do is live there for a year or so until I get back to normal size."

 

"Are you sure that is going to work?"

 

"Of course it will work. If eating makes me get bigger, then not eating will make me get smaller."

 

"Maybe," Bill said. "But I never heard of bones getting shorter."

 

"It's worth a try," she said. "I know it is going to work. In a year, we can come back and live like normal people again."

 

Bill paced up and down again, then turned back to her and said. "Suppose it works. Suppose we are able to raise all this money. Suppose we buy a desert island and suppose starving yourself will make you get smaller again. What about afterward? If you go back to your old habits, won't you just start getting bigger again?"

 

"If I can get back to my normal weight, I feel sure that I can control my eating," she said. "But if not, we will still have the island. We can always go back." She looked down at him, a pleading look on her face. "You will help me, won't you?"

 

Bill hesitated moment, then chose his words carefully. "Look Valerie, you once said that if I decided I had to leave, it would be okay."

 

Her eyes widened. "Not now, Bill. You can't leave right now. We need you?"

 

"Who do you mean by we?"

 

"Me and Gregory and Robert. We need you for the promotions. Everyone wants to hear your story. Gregory has interviews worth a million already lined up for you."

 

Bill shook his head. "No, you are the story, not me," he said. "You can do it without me."

 

"That's not true, Bill. It has to be all or nothing. I can do it, but only if you help me." She leaned forward and gripped his shoulder in her big hand. "You are part of what I am trying to regain, don't you see? I was once a normal, respectable woman. Do you think I enjoy being a spectacle? Promise me you'll stay until I have beaten this thing. If you still want to leave after that, okay."

 

He pulled away from her, rubbing his sore shoulder. Valerie did not know her own strength. "How long is that going to be?" he said. "You can't expect me to make an open ended promise."

 

"No more than two years," she said. "A year to raise the money and a year on the island to lose the weight. Only two years."

 

Bill considered it for a moment. "You could shorten that time, if you cut back on your eating now," he said. "If you could just start losing a little weight at a time. You would not have to starve yourself."

 

Valerie shook her head. "No, the bigger I get, the better the money will be. That is what Gregory says."

 

Bill turned and walked toward the window to think it over. Valerie heaved herself out of her chair and followed him. She was twice her normal height now, and walked with an effort, as if she were carrying a heavy pack.

 

"What do you say, Bill? Do you agree? Two years and no more?"

 

He turned and looked up at her. She was standing behind him, just a step away. "I have to think it over," he said.

 

"I won't take no for an answer, Bill."

 

He nodded when he realized it was the truth. He would have to agree. When it came time to go, he would have to go without a word. In the mean time, he had to go along. "Then the answer is yes," he said.

 

 

 

- - -

 

The fund raising was more successful than even Gregory had predicted. Valerie appeared in two movies, one a horror film, and the other an Italian movie about Hercules in which she played the goddess Hera. There was a best selling book and endless television appearances. She did commercials for a tire company and she addressed football stadiums full of devoted admirers. She sang a unique basso profundo version of the Star Spangled Banner at the Super Bowl. This led to a successful compact disk ("Valerie Sings Verdi") and a stint on Hee Haw followed by her second successful compact disk ("Valerie Sings Chant").

 

When it came time to go, Bill was afraid Valerie might not want to give up her fame and go starve on a desert island after all, but he was wrong. She was now almost twenty feet tall and could barely get around on crutches. A derrick with hand holds had been placed over her chair to help her get up and another one to help her out of bed in the morning. They had to buy an air craft hangar at the airport to live in. Valerie looked forward to the life she would live on the island and afterward when she could return to a normal life and enjoy the enormous fortune they had accumulated.

 

When the cargo plane came to pick them up, Valerie struggled across the tarmac to the foot of the ramp. She paused for the reporters to take pictures, then she dramatically threw away her crutches and slowly, carefully walked up the ramp into the dark interior of the great plane. Bill, Robert, Gregory, and the rest of the entourage followed behind.

 

The flight to Valerie's Island took twelve hours. The advance crew had cleared an air strip and when Valerie, Bill, Robert, and Gregory walked off the plane onto the sand, the bull dozers were driven aboard to be hauled away. The plane left them on the island and they all went down to the beach. Dr. Soames urged Valerie to go into the water. "It will help you to rest," he said.

 

For awhile, the men sat on the beach and watched Valerie relaxing in the deeper water a hundred yards offshore. "I am hungry," Roberto said.

 

The men looked at one another. "Perhaps it would be a good idea to have our dinners now while Valerie is swimming," Dr. Soames suggested. "It is going to be difficult enough for her without having to watch us eat."

 

They all agreed and went back to the trailer at the airs strip. Roberto prepared the food while Bill went outside and adjusted the satellite dish. When the meal was ready, they sat down in front of the TV to watch a movie and eat. While they were finishing the last of the frozen TV dinners, there was a series of bangs on the roof of the trailer.

 

"It's Valerie," Bill said. "I'll go see what she wants."

 

He went outside and saw her standing by the trailer, leaning on the roof. "Valerie, you seem to be getting around better," he said.

 

"Yes, I am," she said. "After resting in the water for awhile, I can walk a lot better."

 

Bill pointed to the caved in edge of the roof of the trailer. "Be careful not to put too much weight on that," he said.

 

Valerie removed her elbow and rested her hands on her hips. "I am so hungry, Bill," she said. "What have you and the others been eating?" "Nothing, just some frozen dinners," he said.

 

"I can smell them," Valerie said, and licked her lips. "I smell ravioli and lasagna and . You had chocolate pudding for desert, didn't you?"

 

"Valerie, you should not think about food," Bill warned her.

 

"I can't help it," she said. "I can't think about anything but food."

 

"Why don't you go down to the beach and try to get some sleep?"

 

"I can't sleep," she said. "Not without something to eat. Come with me and talk to me."

 

Bill sighed. He had wanted to watch the movie. "All right, come one. It is not a good idea to hang around here."

 

They started toward the beach, but after a few steps, Valerie had to sit down and rest. When she could not get up again, she was forced to crawl the rest of the way and she began to moan and complain. "This is crazy," she said. "We should never have come here. My bed felt so good at home."

 

"It's just the first night," Bill said. "It will get easier in time. Dr. Soames said so."

 

Valerie lay down on the sand and curled up into a foetal position. "I changed my mind, Bill," she said. "Call the plane back. Use the satellite phone and call them back. Tell them to bring me some food."

 

"The quickest we can get the plane back is one month from now," Bill told her. "We don't own the plane, we just lease it, and you have to reserve it at least a month ahead of time."

 

"Go call them, Bill. Tell them I can't stand it." She spoke while lying on her side with her eyes closed. Her voice was strained. "Tell them we'll pay anything they ask."

 

Valerie was a large dim shape in the moon light. Lying down, her right shoulder was as high as his own. He leaned his cheek against her shoulder. "All right, Valerie," he said. "But remember, I kept my part of the bargain. If you quit, so do I."

 

"I don't care," she said. "Please call them. Beg them to come and get me."

 

Back at the trailer, Dr. Soames met Bill in the kitchen. "How is she doing?"

 

Bill shook his head. "She wants to give up already."

 

"She hasn't had a thing to eat all day," Soames said. "It was her idea to start before we took off. It will get easier after a few days."

 

"I am afraid she won't wait that long," Bill said. He picked up the satellite phone and called the air transport company. After a brief conversation, he hung up and looked at Soames. "I'll have to call later, after the office opens up."

 

The next day, Valerie spent most of the day in the water and by evening she was feeling much stronger. She walked slowly up and down the beach while Dr. Soames looked on approvingly.

 

"Your body seems to be adapting to its size," Soames shouted at her as she walked by. He was wearing a straw hat, a sports shirt, and shorts.

 

Valerie stopped a few yards from Soames and looked down at him thoughtfully. "Dr. Soames," she said. "You have fine looking legs."

 

"Thank you," he said. "As I was saying, by your not eating for over twenty-four hours, your body is beginning to catch up. It is possible you may soon be able to walk normally in a few days."

 

"I am still very hungry," she said, looking down at him with shiny lips over which her tongue moved compulsively again and again. "I am so hungry I could scream."

 

"Go ahead and scream if it will help," Dr. Soames said. Valerie screamed, but it did not sound like a scream to the men on the beach. It sounded like an elephant's roar. When she was through screaming, she went back in the water for awhile.

 

Dr. Soames, Bill, Gregory, and Roberto brought beach chairs and a card table down to the beach. There was beer and they played pinochle in the afternoon sun.

 

As Bill dealt out the first hand he said, "It was good of you fellows to share our exile with us."

 

"She needed medical supervision," Dr. Soames said. "That is the only reason I am here."

 

"I feel I owed it to her," Gregory said. "She was the best property I ever handled. She made me a rich man. I don't have to work anymore, if I don't want to, and if I do I can write my own ticket."

 

"Valerie turned my life around," Roberto said. "I would have wound up a petty criminal if it weren't for her." He looked at Bill. "What about you, Mr. Barker? What made you stick with her?"

 

"She's my wife," Bill said.

 

Gregory pointed out to sea. "Look! Valerie is swimming! Look at her go!"

 

"I hope she doesn't over do it," Dr. Soames said. "But she obviously likes the water. It buoys her up and makes her feel light and unencumbered."

 

They watched Valerie paddle down the beach and around the point, then returned to the card game.

 

"I hope she doesn't go too far," Bill said.

 

"Don't worry about Valerie," Roberto said. "What can happen to a woman who is twenty feet tall."

 

Bill looked at Dr. Soames. "Do you really think it will work? Do you really think this might make her get shorter again?"

 

Soames shrugged. "It is impossible to know," he said, looking down at his cards. "We shall have to wait and see."

 

They became absorbed in the game and played with enthusiasm, but from time to time Bill looked up and scanned the horizon for Valerie. He was relieved to see her at last come paddling around the point once more. She walked up the beach and sat down near the men and began drying herself with a large towel. While Roberto was shuffling the cards, Bill walked over to her.

 

"I am afraid I can't get the plane back early," he said. "I tried, but there was nothing available."

 

Valerie said nothing, she just smiled and continued to dry herself. When Bill walked back to the card game, Gregory said in a low voice, "I could use some dinner. How about you guys?"

 

They all went over and said good night to Valerie who would be sleeping on the beach again. They then walked over the dunes back to the trailer at the air strip. Roberto was the first to see the damage and he turned and yelled at them from the top of the next dune. "The trailer!" he called, and started to run.

 

When they arrived and saw what she had done, Bill pulled up a chair and sat down amidst the wreckage. "All of the food is gone," he said.

 

Dr. Soames was poking through the smashed pantry. "There are a few canned goods she missed."

 

"There is a chicken left in the freezer," Roberto said. "Everything else is gone."

 

"She even drank all of the beer," Gregory said.

 

"That food was supposed to last us a month," Bill said.

 

"She could not have eaten it all," Dr. Soames said. "That much food should last her a week."

 

"Not if she were binging," Bill said.

 

"She could not have eaten everything," Gregory said. "She must have hidden it somewhere. We should spread out and look for it."

 

"Your wasting your time," Bill said. "She ate it all. We might as well make our meal out of what's left. Tomorrow, we'll have to figure something out."

 

"We have to get off this island," Gregory said. "We better call for help."

 

Bill pointed to the broken satellite dish and the smashed receiver. "The phone is out of order," he said.

 

"Why did she do that?" asked Roberto. "There was no need to do that. Does she want to kill us all."

 

"It was probably an accident," Bill said. "She is big and clumsy and she doesn't know her own strength. She wrecked the trailer trying to get in."

 

Roberto took the chicken from the freezer. "We may as well eat this before it spoils. Somebody want to gather firewood?"

 

"I'll do it," said Dr. Soames. "You coming, Bill?"

 

"I think I will have a word with Valerie," he said. "I'll be back in an hour."

 

"Dinner will be ready," Roberto said.

 

When Bill returned to the beach, he found Valerie stretched out and staring up at the reddening sky. When she saw him, she raised up on one elbow. "Hello Bill," she said with a hint of a smile on her face. "I hope you are not going to be tiresome about what I did."

 

"Aren't you sorry?" he demanded. "What about us?"

 

"What difference does it make now?" she said. "I can't un do it."

 

"That food was for us," Bill said.

 

"I paid for that food, Bill," she said. "I paid for everything. I own everything on this island from the shirt on your back to the ground you stand on. Why should you men have plenty to eat while I starve?"

 

"It was your decision," Bill reminded her. "You planned it all. You insisted that we come here to keep you company. You insisted that the plane not come back for a month."

 

"I told you to call the plane back," she said. "I told you last night and you didn't do it."

 

"It's too late now," he said. "The satellite phone is busted."

 

"If you had called when I told you to, it would have been all right."

 

"I did call," Bill told her. "But they were closed. I just left a message."

 

Valerie paused for a moment, then said, "Maybe they will come when they don't hear from us. Maybe they are on their way back now."

 

"Oh Valerie, you are dreaming. Tell me something. Is there any food left? Did you eat it all?"

 

Valerie did not answer.

 

"What are you going to do tomorrow?" he asked. "What about the day after tomorrow?"

 

Valerie looked straight at him and belched loudly. She wiped her mouth and lay back down. "Don't worry about me," she said. "I can take care of myself."

 

Bill turned and walked back up toward the air strip. Now and then, he looked back to see if he was followed.

 

- - -

 

 

 

They spent the next day picking through the wreckage of the trailer, trying to salvage what they can. They found a few odds and ends of food and hid it where Valerie could not find it. A few days later there was nothing at all to eat and Bill stood beside Gregory on a high dune looking down on the beach where Valerie was relaxing in the shade of some coconut trees. "I think she has some food stashed," Gregory said. "Look how calm she is. She isn't hungry."

 

"If she did have any, it's gone now," Bill said. "She'll be hungry enough in a day or two. We had better get back to work." The continued over the dune and toward the jungle that lay north of the air strip. They met Roberto and Dr. Soames who were already at work digging for roots.

 

At first, they piled up the edible roots they found, but as they day wore on hunger grew more acute and they began to pop them into their mouths and chew while they dug. "Don't eat too many," Roberto pleaded. "Try to save up a mess for dinner." By the end of the day, they were all full of roots and they still had a large bundle to carry back to their camp which they had moved to a hollow just west of the air strip. A crude shed made from wreckage of the trailer provided a little shelter for sleeping.

 

The next day, Roberto slipped off while they were digging for roots and did not return all day. Bill and Gregory began to curse the lazy Roberto for goofing off, but Dr. Soames tended to be more charitable. "Don't be too hard on him. He does all the cooking, you know."

 

In the evening, as the tired men returned to the camp, with muscles sore and bellies sour with raw roots, they smelled something delicious. Bill, Gregory, and Soames ran the last few yards into the camp and saw Roberto roasting a small pig over the fire. He looked up at the men and grinned. "We will have meat tonight," Roberto said and all three pounded him on the back.

 

For the next half hour, the four men sat around the fire watching the roasting meat and drooling. "It's done now," said Gregory. "Let's eat. Go ahead and divide it four ways, Roberto."

 

Roberto reached for the spit, but he froze at the sound of a loud basso profundo voice. "Not yet, boys." The four men turned their heads and saw Valerie standing on the edge of the hollow gazing down at them. She walked slowly down into the hollow and pushed Bill aside so she could squat next to the fire. "That smells good, Roberto." She took hold of the spit by each end and lifted pig off of the fire. She rose to her feet holding the pig chest high while the juices dripped down into the fire.

 

"Valerie, that is our food," Dr. Soames said.

 

"We were going to share it with you, Valerie," Gregory said. "We were going to give most of it to you. We were just going to keep a little bite for ourselves."

 

"I'll bet you were," Valerie said. She took a huge bite out of the pig and began to chew it up, bones and all.

 

The men gathered around her, their hands reaching up for the pig, but she held it out of reach and laughed at them. She ate every scrap of the pig, licked the spit clean and tossed it away.

 

"That was very selfish of you, Valerie," Dr. Soames said.

 

"I did it to teach you a lesson," she said. "Don't be greedy. If you had brought the pig to me and said, 'Valerie, we caught this pig and we are going to cook it and eat it. Would you like some?' In that case, I would have said, 'No, go ahead and enjoy yourself, boys. There is not enough for all of us and you deserve it.' But you tried to hide from me and eat it in secret. Well, you are going to be very, very sorry you did that. Have a nice day." She turned and made her way back to the beach.

 

The men sat down by the fire and stared at one another for awhile. "There are more pigs where that one came from," Roberto said. "Tomorrow, I'll catch another. Tomorrow we will eat well."

 

Roberto was right. The next day he did catch a pig and this time they carried it down to the beach where Valerie was soaking in the surf. When she saw them, she came out and stood at the water's edge while the men lifted up their pig like an offering to the goddess.

 

"Valerie," Roberto said. "We have killed this pig? Would you like some?"

 

"It looks like a fine pig," Valerie said. "Leave it here and go gather fire wood. I'll cook it now."

 

The men brought firewood and sat around watching hopefully while Valerie cooked the pig. When it was done, she tore off a tiny rib bone for each man, then ate the rest of the pig herself.

 

"Why did you do that, Valerie?" Bill asked. "We did as you told us, but still you took almost all of the food and gave us practically nothing."

 

Valerie laughed. "I am sorry, boys. I couldn't help my self. You know how I love to eat. I guess you'll just have to catch more pigs so that there will be enough for me and you."

 

"How many would that be?" Roberto asked.

 

Valerie rubbed her greasy chin and pondered. "I guess I need about ten times as much food as each of you. So if you share 1 pig, I should get ten pigs."

 

Roberto gasped. "Ten!"

 

"But Valerie," Dr. Soames said. "If you keep eating like that, you are just going to get bigger and bigger. That is not why you came here."

 

"I know," she said smiling down at him by the light of th e fire which gave her eyes a strange gleam like desire. "But living in the out of doors gives me an appetite. The plane will be back in a couple of weeks and we can all go home. I realized the first day this was not a good idea." Suddenly, Velerie bent over poked Dr. Soames in the belly. "You look like you haven't missed any meals."

 

Later, walking back to the men's camp, Roberto said to Bill, "I don't think there were more than six pigs on the island to start with. We'll never be able to catch enough pigs to satisfy her."

 

"Nevertheless, you better keep catching them and giving them to her," Dr. Soames said. "I don't like the way she looks at me."

 

"Haw, haw, haw," Roberto guffawed. "Fat boy is nervous!"

 

"Just shut up," Dr. Soames said.

 

 

 

- - -

 

 

 

Roberto had managed to make crude nets and the men were trying to catch fish in the surf and not having much luck when Valerie came walking along the beach and called to them. "Boys, we need to have a conference." She squatted on her haunches and waited while they gathered round her.

 

"Here is the situation," she said. "It has been two months since the plane left us here. It should have come by now if it were coming. Do you have any explanation Bill?"

 

Bill shrugged. "I can't explain it, unless they misinterpreted the message I left. I don't know what to think."

 

Valerie continued, "The fact is, we have depleted all of the food on this island. I haven't had a mouthful of food in four days. I think it is time we made some hard decisions."

 

The men looked at one another. "What do you mean, Valerie?" Bill said.

 

"What I am saying is that there is no need for all of us to go hungry."

 

"You mean, draw straws?" Gregory said.

 

"I don't care how you do it," Valerie said. "Just do it."

 

"We'll draw straws," Gregory said. "Roberto, go get some straws."

 

Roberto looked around and shrugged. "There is no straw here, my friend."

 

"Then get sticks or blades of grass. Just get something."

 

"I don't want to watch this," Valerie said. "You men go over there and decide by yourself, then come back and tell me the result."

 

The men walked away and gathered in a little group beneath the coconut trees which had long ago been stripped of their nuts. After a few minutes, the men came back toward Valerie.

 

"Who is it going to be?" she asked, looking down at them from her squatting position.

 

"We haven't finished the drawing yet," Roberto said, and held up a fist with a single blade of grass protruding. "This one is yours."

 

Valerie gave an impatient growl. "Don't be silly. I am not going to let you eat me. Now go back and decide which one of you I am going to eat."

 

The men stared at one another in dismay. "Valerie, you are not being fair about this," said Dr. Soames.

 

"How can you say that?" Valerie demanded. "You all have the same chance, even Bill." Bill stepped forward and said, "Valerie, I am your husband! Don't eat me. Eat ...." He glanced at Gregory, but avoided eye contact.

 

Valerie shook her head sadly. "Bill, how would it look if I played favorites at a time like this? It would not be right for me to place other men in jeopardy of their lives and yet shield my own husband from danger. These are your friends, Bill. I am really disappointed in you. Now you men go do as you are told. I am trying to do this in a civilized, rational manner, but you are beginning to try my patience."

 

The men slunk away to the coconut trees and formed a huddle. "That was a pretty poor performance, Bill," said Dr. Soames.

 

"Oh, shut up, Soames," Bill said. "You would have done the same."

 

"If anyone deserves a free pass on this drawing it is me," Dr. Soames said. "I am the only physician. Who is going to look after the health of the others if I am gone?"

 

"See what I mean?" Bill said, looking at Gregory. "He is starting to figure an angle. You heard what my wife said, no favorites and she is right, but there is a moral issue here. We have to consider Valerie's feelings in this."

 

"Valerie's health is my prime concern," Dr. Soames said. "This is a very difficult time for her, as you all know. Valerie is under a lot of stress. I am not trying to say who the sacrifice should be, but as a physician it my considered judgment that it is best for Valerie if I ...."

 

"Shut up, both of you," Gregory said. "We have to make a decision quick. We'll each take our chances like men, and whoever draws the short blade of grass goes."

 

Bill's face assumed a sly expression and he regarded Gregory. "Maybe we should refuse to make a choice. Maybe we should force Valerie to choose one of us."

 

"There is no time to argue about it," Gregory said. "We had better make our decision before it is taken out of our hands."

 

"That scares you most of all," Bill said, looking hard in Gregory's face. "If Valerie had to choose one of us to die, she would choose you. It's obvious."

 

"Not necessarily," Gregory said, his face beginning to break out in beads of sweat.

 

"Of course," Soames chimed in. "She wouldn't choose Bill, he is her husband. She wouldn't choose me, I am her doctor. She wouldn't choose Roberto, he is just a kid. You are the obvious choice. I say we elect Gregory. Valerie will thank us for it."

 

Roberto sobbed. "I am the only one who loves Valerie," he said. "I am the only one who is willing to die for her. Stay here, you cowards. I will go and give my life to the woman I love."

 

No one spoke as Roberto turned and walked toward Valerie, sobbing big heaving sobs. The others followed at some distance behind as Roberto approached Valerie. "I am..." he sobbed. "I am the one."

 

Valerie's eyes flashed in anger. "Is that so," she said, and got to her feet. She strode across the sand and confronted the three older men who huddled before her like bad little boys. She put her hands on her hips and stood with legs apart, glaring down at them from the sky. "I might have known you would sacrifice a child. Well, that is not good enough men." She bent over, her hand reaching out toward the cringing figures and grabbed Dr. Soames by the arm. He screamed in terror as she dragged him down the beach like a chubby child in tow.

 

"See what I mean," Gregory said. "She chose the fattest one. In the end, it was her appetite that chose for her."

 

 

 

- - -

 

Gregory was gone and Roberto was gone two days ago, Bill knew. She would be hungry again so he knew that he had to stay away from her if he wanted to live. When he saw her running down the beach toward him, calling in her deep, booming voice, he knew it was the end. Useless as it seemed to fight the inevitable, fear drove him to flight. She was not fast, but she was strong and tireless. There was no refuge for him anywhere on the island and all he could do would be to extend his freedom a few minutes longer.

 

He tried to hide among some rocks on the beach, but she turned them over one by one until she found him. "Bill, get up," she said. "It's okay."

 

Bill stood and waited. "Make it quick, will you."

 

Valerie sat down on a big rock. "No, really," she said. "It's okay. I am all right now."

 

Bill stared. "What do you mean?"

 

"Come here, baby," she said, holding out her hands. "I am not going to eat you. I am not going to eat again until I have lost this extra weight and height."

 

"Why?" he asked. "Why did you decide now?"

 

She smiled and sat down on the sand. Bill realized that if he made a run for it now, he could gain a lot of distance before she could get back to her feet, but what was the use. She would catch him eventually. "I could have caught you last night," she said. "You did not know I saw where you were hidden. But suddenly I realized that I did not have to eat you. It suddenly came to me that it is my choice. I could have stopped any time, if only I had wanted to."

 

"You are no longer hungry?" he said.

 

"I am still hungry," she said. "But eating you will not make the hunger go away. It will only make you go away, like all the others."

 

"They did not go away, Valerie," he reminded her. "You ate them."

 

Valerie nodded. "I feel so terrible about that. I don't know what made me do it. I only know that I could not do such a thing again."

 

Bill nodded. "I am glad you came to your senses. I was getting tired of running and hiding." He walked toward her and sat down on a rock be side her legs. She was fifty feet tall.

 

Without warning, she reached out and picked him up in her hand.

 

"Valerie! Don't!" Bill cried. His arms were pinned to his sides and he could only swing his legs futilely beneath her fist.

 

"Please relax, Bill," Valerie said. "I am not going to hurt you."

 

"Put me down!" he cried. "Put me down this instant."

 

"I have to prove something," she said. "I have to prove that I can control myself."

 

"You don't have to prove anything to me," Bill said. "Please put me down."

 

She lifted him near her mouth and he screamed as her lips parted, but she only kissed him, and put him down again. "There," she said. "You can trust me. I am not going to eat you."

 

Bill brushed himself off and looked up at her. "Don't do that," he said. "You scared the piss out of me."

 

"I just kissed you," Valerie said. "What is so threatening about a kiss?"

 

"Try to see it from my point of view," he said.

 

Valerie laughed. "All right, Bill. Now, let's go to my hut and get out of the sun. I have some food there for you."

 

"Food?" he said, his mouth suddenly moist. "Where did you find food?"

 

"I made a net from palm fronds and trapped fish in it," she told him. "I did not catch much, but it will make a meal for you. Will you go home with me?" She held out her hand palm up so that he might step aboard.

 

"I'll walk," he said.

 

"Don't you trust me, Bill?"

 

"Valerie, you'll have to let me deal with my own fears," he said. "The change in you has come too suddenly."

 

"All right, Bill," she said and got to her feet. "Follow me," she said. "I'll walk slowly."

 

She took a few steps then turned and waited for him to catch up, then walked a little ways further. After the third time, she said, "This is going to take all day, Bill," she said. "Can't you hurry?"

 

"I am hurrying, Valerie," he said.

 

She came back to him and squatted in front of him. "This is silly," she said. "Let me carry you, Bill. We can be there in only a few minutes."

 

"No, Valerie," he said. "I don't want you to pick me up."

 

"Why?" she demanded.

 

"It's, it's humiliating," he said. "I prefer to get around on my own two feet, not be carried like a baby."

 

A slight frown creased the huge, sensual mouth. "You are much smaller than a baby," she said.

 

"I am not," he said.

 

"You know what I mean," she said. "You are about the size of an erect penis."

 

"Valerie! Don't talk like that!"

 

She grinned down at him. "Sorry, Bill. I did not mean anything by it. Come on, let me carry the rest of the way." She lay her hand palm up on the sand in front of him.

 

"No," he said.

 

"Stop being stubborn," she said. "I will not take no for an answer, Bill."

 

"I don't like to be bullied," he said.

 

"I would never do that," she said. "Now get onto my hand and stop this useless arguing."

 

"Valerie, I told you I am not going to do it," he said. He tried to go around her, but she simply blocked his path with her hand. For a moment, he stared blankly at her hand, then he darted to the left and managed to get past the end of her fingers. He was in the clear it, seemed, and started to run, but a her huge shadow moved across him and then she was standing erect in front of him, blocking his path with her foot.

 

Bill turned and ran the other way and she followed him with long slow steps. "You are tiring yourself out for no purpose," Valerie said. "Stop this nonsense and come home now. You dinner is waiting."

 

He kept running, trying to get off the beach and into the trees, but she stayed between him and the trees so that he was forced to remain on the beach where he was exposed and helpless. He was soon exhausted and stood in the sand panting while Valerie walked up to him and picked him up. "I told you it was useless to argue," she said.

 

When they reached the hut, Valerie put Bill in a large cage that she had made from the trunks of cocoanut trees. She then busied herself in the hut preparing food.

 

"Valerie, are you going to keep me in this cage all of the time?" he said.

 

"It is safer for you there," she said. "I worry about you running around loose on the island."

 

"The only thing dangerous on this island is you," he said.

 

"Don't be silly," Valerie said. "I am not dangerous. I love you. I am going to look after you."

 

"You don't have to keep me caged," he said.

 

"It is your own fault," she said. "If you had shown a bit more trust in me, I might have been willing to trust you."

 

She brought him an excellent fish stew and served him in the cage. She sat on the sandy floor of the hut, leaning over the cage, and watched him eat with obvious pleasure. When he was done, she said, "How was it?"

 

"It was fine," he said, feeling resentful.

 

"Did you like it?"

 

"Yes, of course, it was very good," he said.

 

"You are not just saying that to please me," she said. "I mean, did you really like it?"

 

"Yes, Valerie," he admitted. "You were always a good cook."

 

Valerie's big head nodded. "Yes, I was always interested in food," she said. "My mother taught me to cook. She warned me about my problem when I was a little girl."

 

Bill looked up at her, surprise on his face. "You knew this would happen?"

 

"Not for certain," Valerie said. "Even though my mother warned me, I always had just a sliver of doubt that it was true. But she taught me that quality was more important that quantity when it came to food. She taught me to watch my weight and if it changed by more than five pounds, to adjust my diet until I got back to my normal weight."

 

Bill got up from his meal and walked to the bars of the cage where he leaned against them and looked into Valerie's huge eyes. "So that is why you were always so careful about your diet," he said. "Why have you never shared this with me before?"

 

"I felt depressed," she said. "When it started, I could not share my feelings with anyone. I began to have strange, dark desires...." her voice trailed off and she fell silent. She leaned closer and spoke through the bars of the cage, her lips only a few feet from him. "Now, I understand it all," she said.

 

"What do you mean?"

 

"I realize now why I was depressed. It came to me last night while I was trying to catch you and I suddenly realized I did not want to eat you any more."

 

"What was it?"

 

"Do you remember the night we had pork chops?"

 

He thought back. "Yes," he said. "I remember because it was the first time I noticed that you had started overeating."

 

"That was when it began," she said. "But I did not understand it myself, at the time. I only knew that I wanted to eat and that I did not care how big I got. But now I understand what was bothering me."

 

He waited while she looked down at him wearing a shallow smile. "What?" he said.

 

"I think you know," she said, smiling bigger.

 

Bill felt an inexplicable wave of fear. "I have no idea," he stammered.

 

"Say it," she said. "Go ahead, say it."

 

But he would not and as he stared nervously into her big eyes, the smile faded from her lips. Her lips parted slightly and her eyes began to gleam at him. Her tongue came out and wiped her lips, then went back in. Valerie reached into the cage and took him out.

 

"Don't eat me," Bill begged.

 

"Don't worry," she assured him as she untied her loin cloth and let it fall to the frond covered floor. "It is time for bed." Valerie blew out the fire, and for a moment, the hut was filled with a cloud of sparks which swirled, faded, and left them in shadows.

 

In the fading twilight, he stared in awe at her gleaming golden body which rose up around him as he dangled from her fist. She bent and settled onto the bed of palm fronds and he was surrounded her her limbs, breasts, and belly. She touched him to the reddish hairs at her groin and he cried out, "No!"

 

She rotated her hand so that he looked up into her face which caught the fading afterglow of sunset. "I want to have a baby," Valerie said. "That's what is wrong with me, Bill. That is why I could not stop eating. But now that is all going to change."

 

"Valerie, what are you saying?" Bill cried. "We can't have a baby."

 

"We can try," Valerie said, and began to probe between her legs with her other hand. "Be patient, darling. I'll be ready for you in a moment."

 

Bill titled his head downward and stared at the sight of her enormous fingers, pushing and probling her vagina. "I can't," he said. "You are too big for me!" he protested. Despite his fear, he felt his cock stiffen.

 

"You can't stop me," Valerie said. Her voice was tender, passionate, and implacable. "It is time." She clamped his feet together, held her labia apart, and pushed his legs inside of her. She withdrew one hand and her labia closed around his hips while she held him by the shoulders. Bill squirmed and struggled, but he slipped further down until he was waist deep in her pussy. She moaned with pleasure and he looked upward at her face, just a shadow in the deepening gloom. "Don't stop," she breathed, and pushed him deeper inside her. For a moment, he fought with his arms against the overwhelming strength of her two fingers, pushing down on his shoulders, but it was useless. He was pushed into the blackness inside her and he felt her labia close over his head. The pressure of her fingers was gone and he felt a strange sense of abandonment.

 

Valerie lay back on her bed panting as Bill struggled and squirmed inside her genitalia. It was better than a penis, she thought. And this way, she was in control. It felt good and it would go on and on for hours, if she were careful. The frenzied kicking and struggling of the man inside her sent waves of pleasure rolling up from her groin and she exalted in her power and as she held him tightly with the muscles of her groin. She let him struggle to the surface to breath, but no more than his head protruded from between her labia. He stopped squirming and begged her to let him out. "Did you cum?" Valerie asked.

 

"Yes," he shouted. His voice was faint and far away and Valerie laughed. "Good for you, Bill," Valerie said. "Keep up the good work." She gave him a squeeze with her groin. "I can't," he said.

 

"You must," she said, and gave him another squeeze. "If you do a good job, I'll let you out. Now back to work, Bill."

 

After a pause, Bill began to move again, then he stopped.

 

"What is wrong, Bill?" Valerie asked.

 

"Is that a promise?" Bill said. "Can I trust you?"

 

"Of course, Bill," Valerie said. "Just do your best, now. Make me happy, Bill."

 

Bill began to move again and Valerie groaned with pleasure. "That's it," she said, and panted. "Faster, bill, faster! Make me come and I'll let you out!"

 

After she came, Bill demanded to be let released from her vagina. "I can't do anymore," he cried in a plaintive voice. "I am exhausted."

 

"Just one more time," she said and gave him a squeeze, harder than before and he squeaked with pain.

 

"Don't, Valerie," Bill cried, faintly. "You almost crushed me that time!"

 

"QUIT FOOLING AROUND!" Valerie growled and gave him another warning squeeze. This time, Bill was quick to obey and he performed vigorously.

 

All night long, Valerie toyed with her tiny mate, never letting him out of her pussy, and letting him rest no more than necessary. Near dawn, after a night of exquisite pleasure for her and maddening terror for him, Bill grew silent and still.

 

 

 

- - -

 

 

 

Malcolm Butler guided the yacht as close to the beach as he dared, then shouted to the crewman on the bow, "Let go the anchor!"

 

He waited as the line played out, then went slack before shouting, "Let go the halliards!" The sails came racing down and the white uniformed crewmen leaped to stow them.

 

Dave Smith stood next to Butler scanning the beach with a pair of binoculars. He lowered the glasses and said, "It could be the place we are looking for. I doubt if we will find anyone alive."

 

Butler let the yacht swing to the anchor and said as he tied off the helm, "Whatever the story is, we are here to get it. No use letting our vacation go to waste."

 

Smith nodded. "It will be a sensation, if this is Valerie's island, no matter what we find," he said. "I just hope we can find some proof to take back."

 

Malcolm ordered the dinghy lowered, then said to Smith in a low voice, "We probably won't need it, but I brought some proof along, just in case."

 

Smith laughed. "You could have taught William Hearst a few tricks about the newspaper business," he said.

 

Butler nodded. "I could at that. Now let's get ashore."

 

A half an hour later, Butler and Smith left the dinghy in charge of a seaman and walked along the beach. Smith carried the cameras and snapped pictures while Butler carried the sound equipment. "I have a good feeling about this place," Butler said. "It matches the description we got from one of the construction crew."

 

"If we could have gotten the coordinates of the Island from the Barker estate it would have saved a lot of time," Smith said. "I don't know why they had to be so secretive."

 

"The executors would rather that Valerie Barker remain missing," Butler said. "It's a nasty thought, but I can understand it."

 

Smith gave a sidelong glance at Butler and said, "I hope not. It is true that their instructions Mrs. Barker left were very explicit."

 

"And very convenient for those who manage her business empire," Butler added. He pointed inland. "There is supposed to be an air strip somewhere. That looks like easy going."

 

The pair of newsman headed into the stands of palm trees and had not gone far when they came upon a huge ruin. It was obviously an artifact, but some past storm had flattened it.

 

Smith and Butler looked at one another, then Smith started snapping pictures. "What do you suppose it was?" he said, between shots.

 

"It was a hut," Butler said. "A hut built by a giantess."

 

"You can't say giantess," Smith said. "Not anymore."

 

"On my newspaper you can," Butler replied. "This is proof that she was here. I wonder if she is still alive."

 

"Not likely," Smith said. "She would not have let her dwelling fall into disrepair. She must be dead."

 

Butler laughed and said, "Maybe she just outgrew it. Wouldn't that be something! By now, she could be a hundred feet tall! What a sight that would be. What a story!"

 

They poked through the ruin for awhile and concluded that it had been abandoned for years. There were wooden bowls, spoons, and matting made of palm fronds, all now dry and crackling. "She must have lived here for a long time," Butler said. "It is an excellent site. There is water and the dunes give some shelter from the wind off the sea."

 

"If she were still alive, she would be right here," Smith said. "I think we have found all we are going to find."

 

"You may be right," Butler added. "But her bones could be lying out there somewhere. I would like to take back a femur or something. God! What if we could find her skull!"

 

"Not much chance we would be able to spot them," Smith said. "The jungle would have covered everything. It would be just luck if we stumbled on them. There was a DC-3 that lay undiscovered for forty years on Guam just a few miles from a major city."

 

Butler rested his hands on his hips and scanned the ruined hut. "She would have been about as big as a DC-3," he remarked.

 

Smith snapped a few more pictures, then looked at Butler. "What do you want to do? Shall we go look for the airstrip?"

 

"There is bound to be more proof," Butler said. "I think we should bring some men ashore and search the whole island."

 

Smith nodded. "Okay, Malcolm. It's your money."

 

The search began and by nightfall, it had met with no success. Butler and Smith returned to the yacht and were having coffee in the cabin discussing whether they should give it up when they heard a hail from outside. Butler walked up the companionway carrying his mug of coffee. At the hatch he turned and said, "Aren't you coming?"

 

Smith shook his head. "It's just the crew coming back empty handed."

 

Butler went to the rail and looked across the calm water at the approaching dinghy. There was still enough light to see the boat and the beach, but a fire glowed orange on the beach and several crewman could plainly be seen sitting around it. He saw there were only two crewmen in the dinghy and a woman sat in the bow carrying a bundle.

 

"Smith! Get up here with your camera!"

 

Smith responded quickly to the urgency in Butler's voice. He used a flash and was able to get the now famous photographs of Valerie handing her child up the ladder to the outstretched hands of newspaper magnate Malcolm Butler.

 

Later, in the cabin Valerie and her three year old daughter were seated at the galley table. Smith and Butler sat across from them.

 

"This is amazing," Butler said. "When you were last seen, you were over twenty feet tall. Looking at you now, it is difficult to believe that any of it happened."

 

Valerie brushed back her stringy hair. "I am very grateful to you, Mr. Butler. I thought we were going to be stranded on that island for the rest of our lives." She adjusted the bathrobe that Butler had given her and looked at the tray the cook brought from the galley. "It smells wonderful. I have not had any real food in years."

 

"How have you and your daughter been able to survive?" Smith asked.

 

"We lived on cocoanuts and roots, mostly," Valerie said. "Once I got back to my normal size."

 

"What happened to the others," Butler asked. "Dr. Soames, your husband, and the rest."

 

Valerie wore a sad expression. "It was most unfortunate," she said. "They were swept out to sea in a storm about three years ago."

 

Butler studied the child for a moment. "Were you alone when you had the girl?"

 

Valerie nodded but her eyes were on the plates of food that were placed in front of her and her daughter. The girl picked up a fork, studied it curiously, then put it down and picked up a spoon. She started to dive into her food when Valerie put out a warning hand. "Stephanie, remember what I told you," she said.

 

The girl nodded. "I remember. I promise not to eat too much."

 

Valerie nodded. "Don't forget now. You know what will happen if you eat too much."

 

The little girl laughed. "Oh, Mama!" she said.

 

THE END

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