Wally's rampaging appetite had him worried. But another worry had now occurred to him. He was kicking himself for not noticing it sooner. Though, maybe it was harder to notice something not there than something that was. The fact is, it should have been there more than ever given the incredible quantities of food he was now eating. Wally realized, just before going to sleep the previous night that, since he'd become Kid Flash, since the lightning and chemicals and the speedforce, he'd gone number one about as much as expected. But he hadn't done number two.
It wasn't that he felt as though things were bottled up inside him. Thinking back he realized that since Friday afternoon he hadn't once felt as though he needed to . . to . . . take a crap. But this was impossible. He'd eaten huge quantities of food. He wasn't sure how many calories was a lot but his sister and her friends acted like 9800 calories in a day was almost impossible. They fixated on that stuff so much that it must be true.
He got up Tuesday morning thinking of this. He sat up and slid his feet over the side to the threadbare rug on the floor of his room. He pressed the heel of one hand against his abdomen halfway between his navel and his crotch. There wasn't any feeling of . . . well, he wasn't sure what it should be. Heavy? Dense? What? How would you feel if you had four days worth of food, four days of prodigious eating, maybe the equivalent of 12 days of eating for most people, somehow compressed in there? He wasn't sure. But he felt normal.
He stood up and then bounced back and forth from one foot to the other. Nope, no feeling of heaviness. He pulled on his bathrobe and made his way to the bathroom. He started the shower, slipped off the bathrobe and glanced at himself in the mirror. Not an ounce of fat, not a millimeter of bloated appearance. If anything, his abs looked impossibly tight.
He didn't feel at all like it was necessary but he sat down on the toilet. He always used to take a dump in the morning. He even tried to now, groaning with the effort but nothing resulted. Okay, that was ridiculous. He got up and confirmed the empty bowl and flushed though it wasn't necessary.
He then jumped into the shower.
After dressing, he ate two bowls of cereal trying to recall if Uncle Barry had said anything about this. He couldn't recall anything about either his crazy appetite or . . that. He would have mentioned it, wouldn't he? Wally couldn't decide. Uncle Barry and Aunt Iris had seen him eating like crazy. But Uncle Barry was eating a lot, too, wasn't he? Maybe the appetite thing was a natural Flash thing. Okay, fine but what about, glancing down, . . . that?
An idea occurred to him. Of course! He's seen the box in the bathroom medicine cabinet, the blue and white box. He'd never paid any attention to it but maybe it was exactly what he needed. After breakfast, he gathered his books and, while his sister and mother were leaving, slipped over to the bathroom. He only had a few seconds. He grabbed the box and shoved it into one of his pockets.
Once out of sight of his mother and sister, they went left out of the driveway while he walked to the right, he pulled the box open. He wasn't sure what to expect, pills or tablets or a powder or what. But it was little squares of chocolate. Cool! He tried one.
Not great but not terrible. It tasted like a sort of cheap chocolate. He ate another. And another. He'd really wanted to have a third bowl of cereal at breakfast, hell four, but with all the attention on his appetite, he only had two. This chocolate was okay. He chewed another little square then another till suddenly he saw that the package was empty. Uh oh.
He realized he hadn't read the directions and frantically flipped the box over and read it all as he crossed the railroad tracks to head up to his friends' houses. He stared at the box in shock.
"Each of those little chocolates was one dose?! I ate . . 24 doses of laxatives?!"
Twenty four!? He stopped and looked around wide eyed and one hand went, protectively, to the seat of his pants. I-I just ate 24 doses of Ex-Lax. Oh my god. I'm gonna crap my pants! This is gonna be embarassment-ageddon. Oh god.
He met up with the guys all waiting outside Stevie's house and walked with them the rest of the way to school. Well, his friends walked. Wally moved not quite in baby steps but in strides barely longer than that. He spent the walk to school and the first few classes intensely aware of his digestion and, walking or seated, with his legs tight against each other. At one point, he felt a bit of a rumble in his stomach but to his pleasant surprise, that was all that he experienced. Embarassment-ageddon never occurred.
What did occur was that, by 10:30 he was incredibly hungry again and by 11:30 he felt like he'd been on some kind of fasting diet. If he hadn't had to protect his new secret identity he would have super sped to the cafeteria. Instead, he walked alongside Chan and his pals and begged Chan for the money to buy a second lunch.
He sat there happily eating while Aaron, Stevie and Jeff talked with Chan about his new house. "Oh man, is that the view from your pool? West. Look at this. The dude can see, like, all of Star City from their new place up in the hills."
Wally nodded. He didn't want to make a scene or anything. But he didn't care about what Chan's new house was like. He ate as slowly as he could to stretch out the joy of food but he wasn't about to enjoy anything that was part of his best friend leaving.
And then one of the few bad things that could register as significant alongside possible embarassment-ageddon and his best friend moving away happened. It was the last day of school. He was hours away from vacation, from not seeing most of his classmates for months, from no new repercussions to his already lowly reputation. And then it happened, one of the worst things that can happen in school.
He got a demeaning nickname and it stuck.
He was walking from lunch to his next class, alongside Chan and the guys. He had one hand to his abs making one last check to see if anything felt odd in his gut. He was so preoccupied, he bumped into a 7th grader. It was a blond boy he'd never had any trouble with before, kind of a wiseass but not anyone who'd ever directed anything at him before. But the kid's books and papers all dumped to the floor as a result of the collision.
"Hey, watch where you're going, Freckletown!"
The entire hallway burst into laughter and kids all around him jumped on it, repeating it and laughing.
Hey, West, hey Freckletown!
Even Aaron, Jeff and Stevie joined in laughing at that. Only Chan held back.
He sighed, angrily and only ground his teeth together. You couldn't respond to something like that or all the kids would know how much it annoyed you. He thought maybe it wouldn't catch on. Fine, he had a pretty solid dusting of freckles. There was a boy with more in his class. He wasn't the-the freckle-est!
But, it spread like wildfire. While he, Chan, Aaron and Jeff were waiting for Stevie to clean out his locker, near one of the main buiding exits, a parade of kids went past including two big clusters of girls. They were all laughing and calling him "Freckletown!"
Great. Just great.
He said "Goodbye" to Chan again, at his house and continued on to his own. He was due to go patrolling alongside Flash. With the time zone difference between Jump City and Keystone City, it was only 2:45 when Wally got home but that meant it was 5:45 in where Uncle Barry was. He was supposed to meet him at his and Aunt Iris's home at 6 his time. So, he had 14 minutes and 50 seconds to kill.
He spent most of that time eating whatever he could find and thinking about what was happening inside him. Now he had two problems. The uncontrollable appetite was bad enough but what the hell was with the complete lack of number two. He pondered this through a series of annoyed sighs and came up with an idea. All that digested food couldn't still be inside him compressed into a ball or something because then he would weigh even more than 109 pounds. Flash had weighed him the evening of his getting his super power and he'd already weighed 109 pounds then. So, it wasn't that. But something else occurred to him.
He zipped over to the side wall of his room that he usually vibrated through. He leaned in close to the wall and sniffed. Hmmph. Nothing. He sniffed again, higher, about . . that high. Hmmph. Still nothing. Nothing at all.
Well, maybe it's all in the back wall of Uncle Barry and Aunt Iris's house, he reasoned. The pre-teen scientist had come up with a possible explanation. And he wasn't about to let go of it.
He did so much vibrating through walls, what if everything in him didn't always make it through with him? What if the-the stuff in his lower intestines didn't vibrate as well and ended up inside of the walls through which he'd vibrated?
When he saw it was 2:59:30, he left a note on the kitchen table saying that he was going over to Chan's house. He ran up the street, pulled off his regular clothes, pulled on his Kid Flash uniform and sped east. At exactly six o'clock, he vibrated through the back wall of Aunt Iris and Uncle Barry's house.
"Uncle Barry! I'm here, ready to patrol!"
"He's not here yet. He's due any minute," said Aunt Iris coming into the living room from the den only to find her red and yellow clad nephew sniffing at the wallpaper of the back wall. She watched him for a few seconds.
"Um, what the hell are you doing?"
He nearly jumped upright. "Nothing! Just doing a-a routine speedster check for . . excess vibrational energy."
"With your nose?"
Kid Flash shrugged. She let it drop.
A minute later, Uncle Barry pulled up in his car. He gave Aunt Iris a kiss, put some things away and a few minutes later red and red and yellow blurs were seen speeding through the streets of Keystone City.
It was a pretty uneventful patrol. No super villains showed up. There weren't even any civilian crooks to stop. There were some minor crimes committed, one case of shoplifting and another case of robbery at gunpoint. But the shoplifter was chased and tackled outside a small store and the robber trying to take the contents of the cash register of a bar, at gunpoint, was foiled by an off duty cop, in the bar, who threw some hot sauce in the crook's eyes and blinded him.
With J'onn J'onnz's help, Flash had installed a police scanner in one of Kid Flash's earwings. Flash already had one. They both heard the dispatcher describing these encounters over police airwaves but no other crimes at all. After two hours of running, with a couple breaks, Flash waved for Kid Flash to follow him back to the house. There, Aunt Iris had a big dinner waiting and Wally freely indulged. If his sister asked what he ate for dinner, he decided to tell her he had one rice cake at Chan's house.
During dinner, Uncle Barry asked if he'd been doing his "homework assignment" and learning the streets of Jump City. He nodded proudly and said he had. Uncle Barry reached over and gave him a sort of hug about the shoulders. Kid Flash beamed. He forgot what he wanted to ask him. Aunt Iris started talking about the investigation she was working on for a magazine and he and Uncle Barry listened to that through the rest of dinner. From there, he went into the den and Uncle Barry expounded on his theory of time travel. He said he believed that it would be possible for him and Kid Flash, if they set up a treadmill that could endure their speed and vibrations, it would be possible for them to time travel. Kid Flash listened with rapt attention even when Uncle Barry went on his nearly incomprehensible science rants.
This was so cool. Time travel!
It was only out of the corner of his eye that he later noticed it was already 1:30 a.m. Back in Jump City it was 10:30 p.m. It was an unofficial rule that he was supposed to be back from any place he went by 10 o'clock or he was supposed to call. He couldn't call from Aunt Iris's house. The number would show up as a Keystone City area code. How could he be in Keystone City? He was just a 12 year old boy.
After the briefest of sorry, I gotta goes and a hug from Aunt Iris he was through the back wall of their house and out on the interstates. It wasn't till he'd just sped across the Mississippi that he remembered that he wanted to ask Flash about appetite and . . and that. Damn.
He changed back to civilian clothes up the street and then skulked into the house. His mother and father both complained about him being late and not calling but they didn't do more than give him that initial scolding. He read till he fell asleep.
He woke up the next morning feeling, at first, the usual urgency to get out of bed and get ready for school till he remembered that school was over. He sighed and settled back into the nice warm sheets underneath the neighbor's purring cat, Empress.
Ahhh, summer vacation.
The first few weeks of vacation settled into a comfortable rhythm. He would get up and eat two bowls of cereal, or if his sister and parents weren't around, three or four. He would take the lawn mower and go to one of the 20 houses in the area the grass of which he mowed and do lawn work.
This was a business he had started that spring. One of the Wests' neighbors was an older couple. He saw the man and woman outside one day doing yard work and it seemed to be really hard for them. He offered to help and spent an hour mowing and then raking. They gave him fifteen dollars. To him it seemed like a great deal.
He went around to other neighbors. Some were tired of doing the yard work themselves. Others were paying landscaping companies a lot more than the fifteen or 20 dollars he wanted to do the job. Still others just loved that a kid these days was interested in doing the work. In short order, he had 10 customers. After some more canvassing of the neighborhood and good word of mouth from thr first group of customers, he got up to 20 customers total.
It wasn't easy work and Chan had helped him some of the time that spring. But it was great to have his own money that he didn't have to beg his parents for. And now that he had . . a little extra something that other boys doing yard work didn't have, it was a little easier. A glance here and there to see that no one was watching and he'd run the lawn mower across these rich people's big lawns faster than cars getting the checkered flag at Daytona. The same went for raking. A couple customers asked him to rake their leaves for them, too. They paid him extra. They thought they had just barely walked away from giving the West boy instructions and when they looked again, the work was all done. He was amazing. A few customers, out of environmentalist fixation, insisted that Wally mow their lawns using push mowers with blades, not with a gas powered mower. They would roll it out of the garage, The boy would start to use it, They would go back inside, look out a few minutes later and the work would be nearly done. That redheaded West boy was amazing.
The landscaping companies had other adjectives for him. Some skinny little red haired kid was taking their customers out in the Jump Ridge neighborhood. One day, a truck towing an open topped trailer with mowers, rakes and leaf blowers on it, veered to the side of the road and nearly hit him. But he didn't even move. Another truck slowed down and stopped beside him. A dirty faced young guy, much bigger than Wally threatened to kick his scrawny ass and pushed the passenger side door of the truck open as though he was about to jump out and do it. Wally stood his ground. He felt so confident in his physical abilities. He just couldn't always pretend to be a complete wimp.
"You don't want to fight me," he said to the guy more than twice his weight. "I'd kick your ass."
"What?!" the guy snorted and jumped out advancing on Wally but stopping short. "What, are you some kind of ninja boy or something?"
"Something like that," said Wally calmly, now clearly upsetting the guy by not being at all upset himself. "You'd never hit me."
"You a black belt?"
"Um, well, actually red, I guess. I'm not sure exactly how to answer."
"Well stop taking our customers you scrawny little fuck or you'll be in trouble," said the guy now closing the truck door.
"I don't think they're your property," he answered as the truck started away and the driver was telling the one who'd threatened to kick his ass to calm down.
Wally had stayed calm. He was extremely confident of his ability to defend himself now. But, in both his identities, he was chafing against the dismissive way he was being treated. Even Flash subtly did it.
He finally got Flash to explain what was going on inside him and Flash acted surprised that he was worked up about it. It was after his second time patrolling alongside Flash. This time they'd had a high speed chase to help out on. When the police dispatch call had played in the tiny speakers in their ear wings, the dispatcher had used the phrase "high speed chase" and he and Flash had looked at each other with smiles. High speed, huh?
They got back to the Uncle Barry and Aunt Iris's house and were digging into a couple of huge shrimp salads when Kid Flash asked between five different bites, "So, Uncle Barry . . . I . . . feel like . . . I . . . eat crazy . . . amounts of food now. Is that a speedster thing?"
Uncle Barry nodded and launched into one of his typical science monlogues about how he and Kid Flash had had their mesolimbic reward systems and hypothalmuses slightly altered by the speedforce. At the end of this rant, Wally wasn't quite as sure as he'd been after the nod.
"But I'm eating a lot more because of how I got super speed, right?"
Flash nodded again. Okay, one down. One to go. This was so serious, he even put his fork down with food right there in front of him.
"Okay, there's just one more thing you didn't tell me about that I've been trying to figure out."
Wally stopped, hoping Uncle Barry woudl realize what it was. His uncle looked at him blankly. What?
"After . . after I eat all this crazy amount of food, I-I never . . . you know. Number two."
"Oh, didn't I explain that to you?"
Wally reached over and gave his Uncle a half serious punch on the shoulder. "No you didn't explain it. You never mentioned it!"
"Well, it's pretty simple. You've got it figured out, haven't you?"
Wally shrugged bashfully. Uncle Barry thought everyone walking down the street should be able to build and atom bomb.
"Um, well, I figured that you and I do all this vibrating and that maybe the stuff in our guts doesn't all come through walls and things with us."
Aunt Iris jumped in. "So, you think that Uncle Barry's leaving all his poop in between the walls?"
Uncle Barry burst out laughing and Wally's face went bright red.
"Oh, Wally, of course not. You were serious?"
Still crimson faced Wally nodded. "Yeah."
"Oh, Wally. You're such a good scientist some times that I forget that you're still a 12 year old."
Wally sighed, not about to mention having eaten an entire box of Ex-Lax to fix the problem. "Okay, then what's going on? Because I have to know. I eat like a horse but it's been five days since I took a shit and I don't know why. So, yeah, please tell me."
Uncle Barry glanced at Aunt Iris who glanced back. They were surprised at the anger in his voice.
"Well, I'm sorry if I forgot to go over this Wally."
"Oh, you were probably too busy doing your molecular level analysis of my adenosine triphosphates or one of those other things you were obsessing over."
"You did kind of treat him like a science project rather than our nephew, Barry."
Uncle Barry gave a series of small nods. "I . . I suppose I did. I'm sorry, Wally."
"It's okay, Uncle Barry."
"Well, now what do you think is really going on?"
"What are the most enduring processes in nature, Wally?"
Wally didn't answer.
"The ones balanced and maintained by reciprocating forces," continued Uncle Barry with an implied 'of course'.
"So, you understand that we gain energy, nearly pure energy that comes into our bodies and gives us super speed, speedforce."
"So, where's the reciprocity?" Pause. "That's where your solid waste excretions go. I'm sure if we worked out the mass energy balance, we'd find that Einstein's equation, E equals MC squared would hold."
"Wait, so your saying that all my-my . . poop goes to this other dimension where this speedforce comes from?"
Wally looked befuddled. He stared down and pressed the heel of one hand against his lower abdomen.
"I . . I have a sort of black hole in my . . colon?"
"Not a black hole, silly, an interdimensional portal. A black hole wouldn't be stable. And we're not sure where material goes that enters a black hole, though there is some pretty solid conjecture, particularly a paper by Sinclair in 1992 and a mongraphy by Lindstrom in 2003 about quasars susch as the one in the andromeda galaxy 400 light years from-"
Flash suddenly realized that both Wally and his wife were stating at him, not interested in hearing one of his science rants right now.
"Um, no. It's an interdimensional portal sending mass to that dimension as part of a reciprocating energy-mass cycle in which pure energy flows into our muscles."
"So . . I never have to take a crap again?"
"I haven't for more than two years now."
"Hmm. What about, um, . . . farting?"
Aunt Iris burst out laughing.
"I don't think you'll ever experience flatulence again, either. You might have a little gas in your stomach but you'll never be the one everybody else in the elevator's mad at."
Wally smiled. "I'm okay with that!"
He was more than okay. It was a huge load of his mind to have these uncertainties cleared up. With that, the first part of his summer settled into a consistent pattern of mowing lawns and patrolling in Keystone City alongside Flash. But the training wheels were about to come off.