I had noticed when we landed that there was a small forest about a half mile away from the hut in the opposite direction. I walked in pretty much a straight line listening to the waves crash against the rocks and the birds flying overhead. Overall it was very beautiful here, but the thought of the great stone table was very present in my mind. Was it just some kind of sick endurance test to see how strong my stomach was? Still, even though the thought sickened me I didn’t want to wimp out on this. There were so many expectations of me, expectations that I didn’t fully understand, but I had to try to meet them. Much like Atlas the world now rested on my shoulders.
The forest looked dense for not having appeared to be overly large. Stepping under the green canopy I started looking for fire wood. I found pieces here and there for kindling, but I was having a hard time to find any decent sized logs. There was something moving to my right. Standing quickly I looked, but didn’t see anything. I went back to what I was doing, but I saw it again and heard murmuring. Still holding on to the wood I had gathered thus far I walked towards the sound. This was so weird, but my curiosity was getting the better of me. I walked through a space in a particularly dense group of trees only to be standing in front of a sapphire and silver waterfall hanging in mid air. The elegance and beauty of it was breath taking. Suddenly it giggled and in the middle the water parted to reveal a very beautiful blue face with deep blue eyes. It was a water nymph! I had read about them in stories before, but to see one up close made my knees quiver. I was unaware how lost I was in the sight of the nymph until I heard the wood bang and clatter to the forest floor next to me.
“You’re here,” she smiled brightly at me.
“Yes,” I said unsure of her meaning.
“We have been waiting a long time for you to come. They are looking forward to meeting you too,” she cast her eyes in the direction of the stone table.
“The Fates, you will meet them tonight at the table,” she said with the rhythm of a gently babbling brook.
“That’s why Ares wants me to sleep on that table? I’m supposed to meet the Fates?” I asked.
“Why didn’t he just tell me that? Why did he make it seem like some kind of torture?” I asked mad that Ares had omitted information from me.
“Ares enjoys pain; he is after all the God of War,” she replied plainly.
“That is true,” I nodded.
“You require water?” she asked.
“Yes I do, where might I find some?”
She smiled again and pointed to her right. I turned from her to where she was pointing. Almost out of nowhere a fresh babbling stream became clear through the trees. I looked back to thank her, but she was gone. I searched the area with my eyes, but she was nowhere to be found. After deciding that finding her would be a lost cause I went to the stream. As I kneeled at the edge it occurred to me that I had nothing to lug water back in. Then almost as if I had spoken my thoughts aloud a wooden bucket appeared next to me. Now that was handy indeed. I filled the bucket and went back to pick up the wood I had dropped. The load was heavy, but I noticed that I could handle it much easier than I used to. This new body was going to take some getting used to.
Once I was back at the cabin I told Jeff all about the nymph and what she had told me. Jeff raised his eyebrows as he mulled the information over. It’s strange, but it wasn’t until this very moment that I realized how lost Jeff really was. Granted that I didn’t truly know it before we swapped memories, but since Jeff was such a science nerd he was having a hard time coming to grips with the fact that all of this fantasy stuff was real. He had always put things into mathematical equations and scientific formulas for explanations. His problem now was that mystical beings didn’t fit into neat and easy scientific explanations. I watched Jeff as he got the fire going and mixed the silver packet with most of the water. Within two minutes sitting in the kettle on the fire was the freshest smelling beef stew I had ever sniffed. Jeff could see the surprise and approval on my face as he handed me a bowl. I will admit that I was a bit skeptical at first knowing how sometimes things can smell better than they actually taste, but I took a bite anyway because I was starving.
“Oh my god Jeff, how on earth did you do this?” I asked astounded by the flavor that filled my mouth.
“You forget that I used to be in the boy scouts. Trust me after eating true freeze dried food, and having a vast scientific knowledge at your disposal, you look for ways to improve on it,” he smiled from his chair.
“Kudos on succeeding,” I said between bites.
“I’m glad you like it cause we got enough to last us a month even though we apparently won’t be here that long,” he said pointing to his bag.
“We have a week for my training and then I’m either going to save the world or die trying,”
“Listen as weird as this is going to sound I want to take some measurements from you before you go up to the sacrificial alter,” he looked at me over his glasses.
“Measurements? What kind of measurements?” I asked feeling skeptical.
“Well since you know everything now there’s no point in hiding it from you anymore. The last time you were at my house I kinda drugged you a little bit so that I could do a full body scan on you,” he fidgeted with his bowl and food.
“You what?” I asked as I tried to fully register what he had just said. “You drugged me?”
“I just didn’t want you to wake up and find out my secret,” he said defensively.
“Can I ask why it was you were doing this?”
“I was actually trying to come up with something subtle to fix your knees, but I needed to know how your entire body worked first so that I wouldn’t throw anything off. I ran the whole gamut from basic muscle mass to brain wave function,” he talked with his hands.
“Please tell me that you didn’t,”
“No, I did not,”
“Thank you for that much,” I sighed with relief.
“What I’m trying to get at is that if I take measurements now we can monitor how your powers progress and grow. Besides, I should tell you that I am an actual doctor,” he grinned.
“Seriously?” I asked not sure if he was kidding or not.
“Absolutely, I figure if you’re going to replicate the human body you need to know how it works first,” he said taking another bite.
“I’m not cloning, not yet anyway, I’m just working on some very realistic robotic human analogues,”
“I can’t wait to see this lab of yours,” I grinned.
“Well every superhero needs a base, and I gotta say I wouldn’t mind the human company,”
“Thanks for taking me in Jeff,”
“It’s nice to not have to fully hide anymore,”
“So how do you want to do this body scan thing?” I asked setting my bowl on the table and standing.
“Oh, it’ll only take a couple of minutes,” he said doing the same.
Jeff hit a button on his watch and it changed into a small computer that went from his wrist to about mid forearm. I asked Jeff what it was and he explained that it was yet another invention of his. He called it a comlink and it was a mini version of the computers in his lab and it didn’t have quite all of the same capabilities. Although it could hook up to a satellite for communication, locator, GPS, and database retrieval. Jeff showed me all of the features which to sum it up is to say that it was like having the most advanced PC on your wrist. After I was done admiring it Jeff went about checking my brainwave activity as well as basic measurements on my muscle mass and heart rate. I kind of felt like a lab rat, but I also knew that Jeff was right about how we should monitor the growth in my abilities as time went on. When he was all done and logging in the information I ripped part of my tunic getting it soaking wet in what was left of the water.
“What are you doing with that?” Jeff asked noticing what I was doing.
“You know how I’ve always had that rebellious streak, well I’m going to wash the table,” I said going for the door.
“Won’t that make Ares mad?”
“Ares tends to delight in torturing mortals and I refuse to fall prey to it anymore. I may have to spend the night on cold hard stone, but I will make it clean,” I said stopping in the doorway to look at Jeff.