Captain Parker had worked all summer for this. All officer candidate school, really. For years he’d crammed the books, he’d got himself in shape, focusing on his lower body, mainly. Doing squat after squat in the officer’s rec hall and gymnasium. This was it finally. Pilot school. Passed all written exams with flying colors, eased through simulators, now this, the last and most crucial part of his final exam. Fighter pilot. The centrifuge. All those squats would surely pay off now.
You had to flex your lower body muscles, your thighs in particular. Quads are the biggest muscle on your body. He knew all that. He also knew that by doing all that, by flexing your lower body muscles, tightening up your lower half, you squeezed the blood back upward, back into your head where you needed it. You needed it desperately during tight maneuvers, dogfighting, double barrel rolls. Without enough oxygen to the brain, you’d pass out, lose control. If you were lucky, hopefully, if that ever happened, if you did pass out, Auto-eject would kick in, kick you out of the plane. Get a free ride down on a parachute. You’d have to explain how you lost a 3 million dollar hunk of valuable machinery though. Captain Parker hoped it would never come down to that. That’s why his legs were like iron bands now. He could take the Gs. He would take the Gs. He must succeed. Failure is not an option.
So successful was he that this morning, prepping and going over and getting stuffed into the bulky flight suit, he was not at all surprised that he, alone, had made it this far. He had watched as, one by one, all his fellow aspiring fighter pilots had dropped out or failed a written segment and had to go back. Capt. Parker was surprised to learn that one other candidate had come over from the East coast, a candidate highly recommended. This being the only centrifuge in operation, what with all the defense cutbacks, it was not, however, surprising that another would be sent out this way. Col. Rampart had informed him of this this morning. “So where is he?” Capt. Parker had asked.
“Isn’t he suiting up?”
“Oh, you’ll see,” was all the response of the
“Dude’s gonna be late. Afraid I’m gonna smoke him?” said Capt. Parker, adjusting his last of many zippers over bulky cloth, reaching for his helmet.
When he got there, out in the hallway, he could see in the window the giant cylinder, the cockpit suspended at the end of a huge titanium arm. The colossal turning screw at the center. Soon, he would be riding in that. At the entrance now, Parker saw the back of him, also in a bulky, ponderous beige flight suit. Must be the other pilot, he thought. Damn, he’s short. What is he, a midget? He approached, tapped the guy on the shoulder and had meant to wish him luck, but held his tongue when…she….when SHE turned around. ‘A GIRL?’ he thought.
“Hi” she said, and broad beamed a smile upward at him. She was cute, if you were gonna be generous about it. Kind of a big ass. Even in that suit you tell, now that he knew it was a girl. He should’ve seen that before. Her blond hair was shoulder length and she saw him looking at it.
“Oh,” she said, fiddling with it with the hand not holding her helmet at her side. “I’m gonna get it cut. Don’t worry. They’ve been all over my ass about it. I told myself I’d cut it right after flight school. Only if passed, though.”
“Oh,” he said back to her. It was all he could think of, taken aback as he was. He wasn’t really looking at her hair, per say. Not really it wasn’t the kind of hair that warranted that much attention. It was blond, sure. It was wavy, sure. But it was coarse and thick. It looked like it might have the texture of horse hair if you grabbed it.
“So, you must be Parker. Heard you’re pretty good.” She snapped out her words quickly, coyly. She had this funny upturned pug nose. Nothing to write home about, but maybe worth a bang or two.
“Yeah,” he said. “Yeah. I’m Parker.” He was feeling more composed, more adjusted to this new development. And he didn’t like it, now that he thought about it.
“So, you ready to ride the snake?” She was cocky. She was sure of herself, this stubby little gal. He had to give her that much. Especially since she had just reaching out and flicked his crotch when she said the word “snake.” This brazen gesture served to irritate him a little.
“Look, are you sure you belong here?”
“You know what you’re getting into?”
“What—because I’m a chick?”
“Yeah, if you want to put it that way.” Parker rapped on the clear acrylic window into the centrifuge twice. “See that in there? That ain’t no written exam. That ain’t no video game. This is the real deal.”
She scoffed, snorted, shook her head and her hair caught the wind and lifted up for a second. “No shit, Sherlock. Geez, you guys. I swear. Think you own the world.” He saw that she had yellow teeth now, in that otherwise cherubic permanently puckered up mouth.
“Look, don’t gimme that women’s lib crap. You could get hurt. I MEAN it. Look at you. Doesn’t look like you’ve worked out much. Doesn’t look like it all. You’ve still got babyfat.” Parker slapped the back of her flight suit over her rump. Yes, what he felt confirmed it. He’d felt the jiggle in there. This girl hadn’t worked out at all. She was soft, squishy. Good for a girlfriend, all that cushion, but NOT a pilot. “Shouldn’t you be back home, or most back at some office somewhere?”
He knew it instantly. He shouldn’t have slapped her. She slapped back and Parker felt a sharp lightning rod of pain run up his spine and push out his eyeballs. He was on his knees before her, grabbing his crotch with both hands. His helmet was rolling on the floor. He looked at her legs in the paunchy suit, saw her boots, he couldn’t talk, he couldn’t believe it.
“Oops,” he heard her say. “Forgot how sensitive you guys are. Here, come on, let me help you up.”
Parker was mortified but he took her arm willingly, he needed the help to stand and he was hearing footsteps approaching. She wasn’t much help, slight as she was, and he couldn’t believe it as she continued talking, in the voice of a babysitter reading a nursery rhyme. “Poor little underballies. How’s my friends? How’s my friends?”
“Look, shut up, already. Okay?” He was standing now, though a little shakily.
“Sorry. I had a lot of brothers. They never messed with me once I learned their…secret.”
Parker couldn’t believe it. When she’d said the word “secret” she’d just tapped him quickly again down there, lightly but well placed, up and behind, right where they dangle, right where he lives. He felt his knees nearly buckle out from under him again. He’d been kicked there once as a kid—well, almost. Anyway, it didn’t feel like THAT. Not THIS. This was ridiculous.
She must’ve seen this in his face. “Oops,” she said then giggled. “You are sensitive. Okay, I’ll go easy on you.”
“So you picked on your little brothers, huh?”
“No, they were all older than me.”
The two stiffened like ramrods. It was Col. Rampart and a female assistant, heels clacking, looking leggy in the standard issue air force skirt ending at the knees.
“Captain Parker, Captain Whitmarsh, this is Lt. Danley. She is the operative centrifuge engineer on duty.
They all exchanged greetings. Lt. Danley and Col. Rampart stepped into the control room. “Captain Parker, you’re up first.”
Parker whispered one last unpleasantry to the girl, the word “bitch” was in it, and the phrase “watch a real man” something something, put his helmet on, entered the vast centrifuge room, stepped over, climbed into the cockpit.
Click. Pop. Whir. A metal moan sounding ominous. He began spinning. Slowly, perceptibly, he was spinning faster, faster. He was enjoying this. He could see the little pug nose creature out his window. Holy shit—what was she doing? Dammit, she was grabbing her crotch and making face grimaces. That’s it. He’d bitch slap the little harlot when he got out of there. He swore it. Faster now, spinning. He felt the change, the dizziness. Flexing, breathing methodically, flexing, his face contorting, straining, tighten those quads, tighten them, dammit, get the blood back…..
When they pulled him from the cockpit, he was still out. When he finally did awake he was on a gurney somewhere—where was he? In another room somewhere. Hospital material everywhere. Oh no, how long had he been out???
Col. Rampart. There was Col. Rampart entering the room.
“Good morning, Sunshine.”
“How long was I out?”
“Oh, just a couple minutes.”
“Where am I?”
“Next door down. Infirmary.”
“So I didn’t do so hot.”
“I wouldn’t say that. 8.2 before you blacked out. It’s about average. You’re welcome to get up if you can. This was only precautionary.”
Captain Parker shot up from the gurney. He was on his feet. “The other one—how’d she do?”
“Come see for yourself.”
Parker didn’t wait to follow Rampart. He hustled out, down the hallway, to the big window peering into the centrifuge. It was spinning like a horizontal ferris wheel on amphetamines. He heard the voice of Lt. Danley counting out numbers in a calm but strangely feminine, almost lilting voice, the kind you seldom hear in the military.
“14.8. 14.9. 15. 15.1. 15--”
Parker could see her in the cockpit. She was smiling. She gave him a thumbs-up sign with a small, fat, gloved hand.
“15.4, 15.5, 15.6--” Lt. Danley called out to Col. Rampart who was now alongside Parker. Danley said, “That’s it, sir, that’s all this machine is rated for. Gonna have to stop this.”
“Shut her down,” Parker bellowed.
In the cockpit, the girl pilot slapped her arms around, waved at everybody. She had all the enthusiasm of a teenage girl at a slumber party. Off came the oxygen mask, and check it out: that yellow-toothed puckish grin again.
He slapped Parker on the back, squeezed his shoulder like a father might. “Looks like we’re becoming obsolete,” he said, with a sigh. Parker knew what he meant. He felt a strange bonding with Rampart which he had never felt before.
“Get your stuff, you guys. See you both back at IOC.” With that, Col. Rampart slapped his felt hat on his thigh as he made his way down the hallway and out the exit.
Captain Whitmarsh, this little sawed-off waif with wide hips, hopped out of the cockpit before it had even come to a complete stop. She was still hopping once she was again on linoleum.
“Woohoo! That was fun! Can I go again?”
Danley was more subdued. “Very funny, Captain. Get your things.
Col. Rampart wants to see both of you in the IOC.”
“Oh, maaaan,” she complained, sounding like an adolescent girl protesting her mother’s curfew.
Whitmarsh bounded into the control room, hair bouncing, boots sliding, hopping. Everything around her was electric. Upon entering the hallway, confronting Parker, she remained giddy.
“Man, that was FUN!”
“Shut up,” Parker said, dryly.
“Oh, come on. You passed….probably.”
“Yeah, but…but…how’d you do that anyway?”
“What’d you mean, what?! 15-something? You broke the damn machine.”
She stopped. “Oh, shit. Don’t feel bad. It’s girls, silly. We’re stronger.”
“We can handle more Gs.”
“It’s a scientific fact.”
“Sorry, dude. Scientific Frontiers Magazine. Guess you don’t read much.”
“Well, you could try watching the Discovery Channel sometime. Where’ve you been, soldier?”
“Lemme guess--spend all your time in the weight room, huh?” She approached him stood on her tippy-toes, reached and rapped on the side of his head one and a half times before he violently pulled back. “You gotta work out this out, too,” she goofed.
“Don’t touch me!” he snapped and jerked his head away. He had lost his last strand of patience with this tiny, space-invading virago. He should have jerked the rest of himself away.
“Too bad you can’t work this out,” she playfully chirped, swiftly palming his crotch again and connecting.
Parker stooped instantaneously, felt his knees nearly go out once more, protesting in husky-throated anger, “Look, you’re a freak of nature. That’s all.”
“No I’m not. Just a girl,” she giggled, and then, as if to emphasize this point, she skipped a couple times on the linoleum as if playing hopscotch around him. It looked ridiculous in the huge flight suit. Parker gathered himself, took a deep breath, stood up, let go of his crotch, and promptly pushed her against the wall. She collided against it with a thud.
Her turn now. Collecting herself, Captain Whitmarsh’s voice turned into an adolescent, a sarcastic adolescent: “Um, okay, like, don’t ever do that again—or else.”
“Or else what?”
“Or else--whatchowww!” She had leapt and crouched at the precise moment she made the cartoon karate sound; she had made the cartoon karate sound at the precise moment her hand struck his groin, a balled-up feminine fist, her teasing cruelty magnified. It was like popping the valve on a standard-issue auto-inflating raft but in reverse. Captain Parker deflated all at once, dropping to the floor that fast in a coiled up a fetal position. It was in the same place, up and in behind the penis, where nothing was there to cushion the impact of the strike but the thin, hanging bag of his scrotum. He didn’t know it, senseless as he was, but she did.
The bottom of the Easter basket. Her brothers knew the spot and it was many time they cursed their own anatomy at her feet, sometimes bare feet, sometimes those Mary Janes she wore to school, but always so little. That was the thing that stuck with you; that something so little could’ve just beaten you up. Could’ve made it look so easy, too. And she did it in front of friends, their friends, her friends. No sense of decorum, decency; no sense of respect. But it was exciting to have a man down. To do it so easily. Kneeling on one knee over Parker made her remember. The silence mood this put them in, the forced shutting up. So sudden. She never cared if her brothers got teased mercilessly afterward by their schoolmates. That was their problem. They were assholes. Well, till they’d learned. They were nice after awhile. Of course they were. Wouldn’t you be if you were carrying around such liabilities? The funniest was when her oldest brother swore up and down that he had only been kicked in the stomach. Like anybody believed him. Like that was any better. Like any school girl armed with a mother’s advice knew that the pain, yes the pain, did indeed go up into their stomach. So maybe her brother wasn’t lying. Well, technically…
A rap on the window. Lt. Danley. She’d seen it, she’d been watching. Whitmarsh had known this. Just like school, it only made it funnier. Danley guffawed and covered her mouth not to laugh when she’d seen Capt. Whitmarsh drop Captain Parker. She was merely smiling know. Smiling as the two women exchanged knowing glances. She gave Whitmarsh the thumbs up sign.
“Well, he had it coming, don’t you think?”
Lt. Danley laughed. “I believe so.”
Danley made a motion like she was going to resume her work at shutting down the control panel, but she raised her eyes again, setting them on the stricken Parker. She looked mystified. Captain Whitmarsh merely looked pleased with herself, standing up, gathering her things, her helmet, standing looking down at her helpless victim.
"Like I said, girls're stronger."
No answer but a muffled grunt.
“If you’re late, should I tell Col. Rampart what’s keeping you?”
"Tell 'im he's busy holding his manhood," joked Danley, and the two service women walked down the corridor together.
Captain Parker’s fetal position, like a half-open armadillo, was by chance facing them as they exited, otherwise he wouldn’t have been able to see it, Captain Whitmarsh's butt, the way it jiggled. It was like blubber. Even in the big fat flight suit, you could still tell.