by BRK

A series of seismic growth spurts create a serious mystery.

Added: Aug 2003 10,445 words 11,985 views 3.5 stars (2 votes)


There is nothing, nothing in the world like the smell—the taste—of burnt, fried air. Oxygen rent asunder, recombining into acrid, unstable ozone. Because air is all around you always, it feels like the whole planet has been singed. Like the world has been left too long on an overheated griddle.

I’ll always remember every sensation of those seconds right after the lightning blast. Time seemed to stop, just for a few moments, and there was nothing but an overload of sensations, from me and all around me.

I sure don’t remember the event itself. I was running through Sugar Creek Park, trying to get to my bike so I could pedal the hell out of what looked like a monsoon brooding over the next county and headed this way faster than a cheetah with a grudge. I was pounding across the sheep meadow when I tripped on a root. It must have taken a half a second for me to fall on my face, but during that half-second the storm overtook me and hurled an overcharged lightning bolt at me so powerful it would have sent Marty McFly back to the dawn of time.

This lightning bolt was immense, bigger than ten of the normal kind. Quite apart from what it did to me (which nobody knows anyway) it built for itself enough of a legend that people still talk about it. I remember sitting in a diner just outside the park, hardly a hundred yards from the spot, a few days after the storm. The dried-up old bean of a waitress behind the counter was telling a passing businessman, and everyone in earshot, how she’d seen the lightning bolt out the window of her double-wide and, because it was so huge and so bright, she’d been sure it was an H-bomb going off. She’d actually convinced herself she’d gone blind looking at it, just like you’re supposed to when you look directly at a nuclear blast, and had run screaming through her home raving about World War III. All the time I’d sat quiet and unnoticed at the end of the counter, nursing my coffee, wondering what the hell kind of world I lived in.

But it was from the talk of locals like Doris (the duck-and-cover biddie behind the counter) that I learned what little I was able to find out about the blast in the first few days after it happened. My own memory contained only the mad dash across the meadow, the trip, the split second in mid-air like I was flying, and then whiteness, like overexposed film. I came to shortly afterward, sprawled on the ground, with time stopped and the world feeling like it was spinning slowly, the wrong way. The smell and taste of charred air and earth. Eyes, mouth and skin all painfully dry.

I was in a daze for hours, even as I went through the motions of struggling to my feet, limping the rest of the way across the meadow, and (the most stunningly stupid thing I’ve ever done) climbing onto my bike and riding it, unsteadily and with little awareness of the cars and people around me. I pedaled hard through my own little gray, misty world, until I realized I was sprawled in a strange gravel driveway, my bike at my feet, my elbows scraped raw and the knees of my jeans ripped open. It was only then that it began to dawn on me, dimly, that I shouldn’t have been alive at all, and to wonder why I was. I should have been dead, yet I survive a lightning blast unscathed, only to bang myself up in a fall from my own bike.

The storm had broken. I had been riding for some time in drenching rain, and it was still coming down in buckets. I glanced around, unsure where I was. The house looked like one of the abandoned farmhouses outside of town with the peeling paint and the windows boarded up. The lawn had grown wild; a shaggy juniper bush seemed poised to topple the house. Across the drive, a dilapidated barn yawned empty.

I felt a pang of fear. What the hell was going on with me? Why had I gotten myself all the way out here, on completely the wrong end of town?

I still wasn’t thinking clearly. I could barely remember the bike ride at all: it was a miasma of swerving cars, headlights, horns. I’d cheated death not once but twice. I saw “Final Destination.” Death doesn’t like to be cheated. I half expected the storm to toss a tractor on me at any minute.

I dragged my bike into the otherwise empty barn and stood there in the dark and dank. I was suddenly awake, my heart pounding, my flesh tingling. I was soaking wet and chilled to the bone, yet I began to feel unaccountably hot, and restless. My tee shirt and jeans had apparently shrunk in the rain. They felt unaccountably tight. My sneakers too. I kicked them off and peeled off my wet clothes and cast them aside in a heap. That restless, tingling feeling was getting worse. I felt jazzed, like I’d had a hundred cups of coffee, and it was getting more and more intense. Unbearably intense. I felt like I was plugged in, like a power line was shooting through my nervous system. Finally I threw back my head and shrieked, a long tearing scream that somehow purged me of all that power. I felt it leave me in two great shock waves so massive, so overwhelming, I remember thinking that now I knew how it felt to be an exploding star. I was breathing hard and exhausted. My heart was pounding like a jack-hammer. It was going so fast all I could think for a few moments was that I was going to die from sudden coronary failure. Slowly, gradually, it calmed down, and I allowed myself to listen to the alarm bells in my head.

The alarms were telling me I was experiencing sensations I definitely shouldn’t have been. I knew in an instant what the wrong sensations were.

Cold, hard rain was pummeling my naked body.

I’d been looking inward for several moments, but now with a wave of cold dread I opened my eyes. Before me lay a scene of devastation. The barn was almost completely destroyed. A few shards of wall stood upright at a crazy angle, but everything else was kindling. The barn was flattened. It was flattened in a pattern that was so disturbing my vision went white for a space. I nearly went mad in that moment. It passed painfully, leaving roiling dread that seemed to be twisting my intestines.

My vision cleared. Almost inevitably I turned in a slow circle to observe the whole effect. The effect was a barn-flattening blast radiating, in a perfect circle, from the exact spot on which I stood. Nothing was left but charred remains, still smoking and sizzling in the unrelenting rain. My clothes were completely gone, probably incinerated. The floor, I noticed for the first time, was cement—good thing, too (I thought later), since a wooden floor would have gone the was of the blast and I might have fallen straight through to the storm cellar, breaking my leg, or my neck, or God knows what.

(That night on the news, I’m told, the weatherman expressed amazement that a tornado had touched down during a spring thunderstorm like this one. It was out of season and the wrong kind of storm for funnel clouds, he assured his listeners, and it was quite a mystery where the “freak tornado” had come from. When I heard this story I must admit I was a little rankled and took the phrase “freak tornado” a bit too personally, but later on I was able to be amused by it. I even used it once as an alias—but I’m getting ahead of my story.)

I raised my eyes, shielding them from the rain with my hand. The first thing I saw was the roof of the barn. The roof had been blown off and had rocketed into the fallow wheat fields beyond the house, bursting on impact into a million pieces. The house was pretty much intact, except for the nearest corner, which had sustained heavy damage. The few remaining windows were blown out.

In that moment the most terrifying thought of my life hit me so hard I think I actually checked out for a few minutes, because shortly thereafter I came to, collapsed to my knees and was sobbing in the rain, a flood of tears draining immediately into the rivulets of rainwater streaming down my face. The thought was: What if I had gone home?

It was a short path from that thought to the next: I can’t go home.

The rain had turned cold, and I was starting to shiver. I stood up, feeling awkward and ungainly. Headlights pierced the stormy gloom: the country road was just at the bottom of the hill. An ancient, weather-beaten old pickup truck labored into view, clambering over the rough road as it fought off the unslacking deluge.

Unreasoning fear gripped me. I had to run, or I would be caught and blamed for all the damage. I pictured myself, a 17-year old kid, hauled into caught in front of the whole town on charges of blowing things up. Would it be worse if they thought I had a bomb—or if they knew I was the bomb?

I took off, into the woods, away from the unhappy pickup, away from town, away from everything. I ran for a long time, until I was too tired to run any more. But that took hours and hours to happen. I was the original gym class nerd who got winded during the 100-yard dash, but here I was, running hard and tirelessly, long into the night, without even a sidestich or a need to pause and catch my breath. I ran and ran and ran, and kept my mind firmly switched off. I let what I saw wash over me, subsume me, just for now. Trees (branches cracking underfoot, but my feet were never hurt)—birches and oaks and a few conifers; trees giving way to fields again: first old, fallow fields, then worked fields, new crops beaten down by the heavy storm; then country (wild fields of fireweed and Queen Anne’s lace) which began to roll, first gently, then dramatically, until I realized I was sprinting up the high-piled ridges that, all my life, had been little more than a purple smudge on the horizon.

I slowed to a halt near the top of one of the ridges. I had been following a hiking path, but of course no one was out in this weather (the rain had let up, most of the storm having moved on, but it was still misting, and ominous clouds obscured part of the night sky). I felt the edges of a sweet fatigue stealing over me as I slowly walked the rest of the way up the muddy path to the observation deck.

At first I could see little from the high platform: it was deep in a dark, cloudy night; but the moon emerged occasionally, and my eyes adjusted so that after a moment or two it seemed as thought I was looking out over a valley settling into early twilight. Straight down below me, and startling far away, was my little town, Torrence, twinkling with its little lights. It looked so small it might have passed for a medieval hamlet, were it not for the “strip,” which I could see from here—outside of town, along the state highway, was a long swatch of neon lights still glaring brightly at this ungodly hour. There, you could get twelve different kinds of fast food hamburgers and at least five brands of greasy tacos. I’d spent many a happy afternoon there, but I’d never seen it from this angle. It looked garish and unnatural next to the sleeping town it serviced.

Beyond Torrence the valley rose up again in ridges like the ones I was standing on. Further down the valley was a bigger town, Mooresville, partly hidden by the shoulder of the ridge I’d climbed. My heart sank as I again thought that Torrence was closed to me now. If I went anywhere, I’d have to head down-valley to Mooresville. But what would I be able to do there? If I blew up a neighborhood in Mooresville, would that be okay because they were all strangers there?

Sad, angry, and self-reproachful, but more than anything else feeling unquenchably alone, I sat down at one of the picnic tables and hid my head in my arms.

“What d’you think I should do? Wake ‘im?”

Consciousness, which had fled me at the first opportunity, returned reluctantly. I was still slumped forward on the picnic table, but I was stiff and uncomfortable. Some sixth sense warned me not to move, though, and so I sat there, as motionless as a troll turned to stone.

The voice I’d heard posing his tremulous query was answered by the squawk of a walkie-talkie. “Does he appear dangerous?” the respondent asked.

“No—no,” the guy said uncertainly. “But he’s awful big. He could flatten me with one hand if he wanted to.”

I frowned inwardly at this (who is he talking about?) as I tried to determine the location of the speaker. He seemed to be some ways to my left. My mind was a little cloudy, but I guessed that that was where the path came out onto the observation deck. Forest ranger, most likely. All these highlands were national forest.

“Folks ain’t s’posed to sleep in the picnic areas,” came the sonorous response through the walkie-talkie. “Just tell him to move along and have a nice day.”

“Roger that.” I heard the crackling of stepped-on twigs and leaves as the man walked toward me.

At that moment I raised my head and looked straight at him and he froze, his eyes filled with fear and amazement. He was young and not unattractive, only a couple years older than I was, kitted out in a dark green ranger’s uniform. I tried to speak gently, but my voice boomed as if amplified. “I heard what you said,” I said. The guy just stared at me. “I’ll be on my way, I promise.”

I stood, but it was difficult to do so because I was wedged into a picnic table that had somehow become too small. I made myself straighten up, forcing the seat I’d been sitting on the snap off. It seemed to take a long time to stand, partly because I was so stiff, and partly because—well, because when I was done straightening out I towered head, shoulders, and chest over the awestruck ranger.

I stood there, and he stood there, and he stared at me and I stared at him staring at me. I could tell he was trying very hard to look only at my face, but his eyes kept trying to stray down. He glanced down a couple of times, then snapped his eyes right back up at my face, though it looked like he took in a quick flash of the landscape on the way up.

I glanced down myself to see what he was looking at. I’d somehow registered that I was a lot taller than this guy, but I’d let myself think it was because he was really, really short. I was six-two before, and I’d gotten the tall thing for a long time, since I’d shot up at puberty. From the looks of things, though, I’d shot up again. Looking down at my naked body I could tell it was shaped different—my legs, arms, and torso were all longer than they should have been. There was something else that was longer, too—a lot longer—and that was evidently part of what caught my new friend’s attention, especially since my inevitable morning hard-on had only partially deflated. I tossed him a crooked smile, which he returned nervously, and looked back down at my body.

I looked like a basketball player. In fact, I looked like Yao Ming—really tall, lanky, toned muscle. Maybe a little beefier. I forced myself to guess how tall I was. If the dumbfounded ranger was average height, I had to be about Yao’s height—around seven and a half feet tall. My (filthy) feet were huge and powerful-looking. So were my hands.

I decided there were only two things I could do. I could run away, in which case this guy would be returning to his base with stories of a huge naked guy running around Scotch Woods. Or I could make nice.

I was really lonely and afraid. Even a withdrawn, introspective 17-year-old geek can make friends if he’s desperate enough.

My hands were still a little out from when I was examining them. I extended the right one toward the ranger. “My name’s Hank,” I said hesitantly.

The ranger swallowed and returned to normal a little. It was funny, I could sort of watch it dawn on him that he was staring at me. His mom had probably told him that was rude. He blinked and looked up at me in a different way, contrite, and shook my hand. “Randall,” he said, a little gruffly. His handshake was warm and strong. It was my first human contact since my accident and I didn’t want to let go. Neither did he, it seemed, but after a couple of silent moments we disengaged.

“Well, Randall, I seem to have misplaced my clothes,” I said. “I’m sure you don’t want naked guys running around your forest. Do you think there’s anything you could do?”

Randall shook his head in wonder. “I don’t think we have anything that would come close to fitting you.” He clicked his tongue three times, looking me over a little more objectively this time. “Maybe I could find something. You lost your clothes? Where?”

“Um, back in Torrence.”

“Torrence? You came all the way up here from Torrence with no clothes? When, last night in the rain?”

“Um, yeah.” I was growing increasingly uncomfortable, not only with his questions but with the reminder of what had happened, which the encounter with Randall had kept out of my mind.

“You’re lucky you didn’t catch your death,” he said, and I almost laughed—my grandmother had admonished me in those very words umpteen times. “How?”


“How’d you lose ‘em?” He wasn’t belligerent, just amazed.

“Erm,” I stammered, “I, I was, erm. It’s kind of hard to explain.”

“I’ll bet!” He definitely wanted to hear this story.

“Um, yeah. About the finding me something—”

“Yeah, let’s get you indoors. You must be freezing. There’s a ranger station just over the crest.” He turned and led the way, pausing only to look back and beckon to me as he reached the path. I followed thoughtfully.

What I was preoccupying me was that he was right. I should have been cold. High up in the hills in early spring it would have been pretty chilly, but I was quite comfortable, even naked as I was.

It was starting to become clear to me, as I slogged up the path behind my new benefactor, that something had happened to me. That lightning bolt had changed me. But how? It seemed to have to do with energy. I had discharged a large amount of energy in the barn. Maybe I was storing it, or channeling it. Maybe, I proposed to myself, the energy I had inside was also affecting my cellular make-up—pushing my cells apart, either expanding them or causing them to multiply. Was that possible? I tried hard to remember cell propagation from bio lab, but I couldn’t concentrate.

Something had caused me to build up so much energy that it exploded from me. Something had made me grow. And something was keeping me warm in the cold.

It was very early. Dawn had come only a little while ago. Normally I was a groggy morning riser, whacking off half-asleep and then stumbling into the bathroom (which, to my lasting gratitude, gave off my room and was not shared with my brothers) for a shower. Today, though, I was bright-eyed and bushy-tailed. I tried really hard to gauge my feelings, and my alertness, and I gradually became sure that the energy level I’d felt build up intolerably in the barn was still there. It felt like it was on a low simmer.

Part of me was trying to convince the rest of me that this was amazingly cool. In fact having something like this happen to me was the fulfillment of a lifelong fantasy. But it made me sick to my stomach that I couldn’t control any of it. I kept picturing my home being blown to smithereens, my family blown up. The school, friends I cared about, all destroyed, gone, killed by me and this stupid thing that had happened to me.

Soon we reached the crest. We emerged from the trees into another Forest Service clearing. There were markers, more seats and tables, and those observation viewers you have to put a quarter in. These were arrayed in front of a small visitor’s center, so constructed as to look like an old-fashioned “gen’l sto’” (Why did they do that?), but there was (thankfully) no sign of any visitors. A brisk wind blew steadily across the tiny plaza. Randall kept marching, until a couple more low buildings were revealed behind the faux trading post. He made directly for the furthest one, a nondescript wooden building of unguessable function.

He unlocked the door and ushered me in. Just in time I remembered my freakish height and ducked low to enter the doorway. Randall followed me in and relocked the door.

I straightened up cautiously. The ceiling in the room seemed about eight feet high—there were a few inches’ clearance over my head. The interior of the building was entirely taken up with a fairly small, squarish studio apartment, covered from wall to wall with an ugly industrial grade carpet the color of stale coffee. We were standing in a living area, framed by two uncomfortable-looking beige couches positioned at right angles to each other, both facing a small portable TV set on a box near the door. Just beyond were several sets of louvered closet doors. There was a large, empty, rectangular space directly in front of them; I guessed (rightly) behind some of those doors was concealed a Murphy bed. The far corner featured a sliding glass door that opened onto a tiny patio and a small kitchen behind a bar-height counter. Two worn wooden barstools were the only other furniture. The air smelled a little like old, well-used sneakers.

“You live here?” I asked incredulously, surprise getting the better of my tact.

“God, no,” Randall said. He was already opening the louvered doors. “This is just a crash pad if we’re on long duty.” He hauled the bed down. It was dressed in coarse white bedclothes.

“C’mon,” he said, smoothing out the sheets and pulling the top one back, “let’s get you in bed.”

Without thinking I retorted, “At least buy me dinner first!” (I’d heard the line in a movie once and thought it was funny.)

Immediately I started my self-chastisement routine, an almost daily occurrence for me, not unlike the flagellants of the Middle Ages who whipped themselves over their own sins. But when Randall glanced up, he was, to my surprise, red-cheeked with embarrassment. “No, I mean—you were out in the cold—you’re going to be sick—” He gave up, muttering to himself, and hurriedly started rummaging in the closet next to the bed, eventually hauling out a thick blanket. He started unfolding it onto the bed.

“I’m not tired, and I’m not—” I began to protest.

Randall had finished spreading out the blanket. “Just get in,” Randall said, half impatient, half pleading. “I don’t want it said that some guy I found wandering in the forest during the worst storm in years up and died of pneumonia after I sent him on his merry way.”

I grinned at this and docilely complied, crossing over to the bed and climbing cautiously in. I had to lie on my side and fold my legs, almost fetally, to fit. I felt ridiculous, but Randall gently drew the covers over me, covering my nakedness for the first time, and I was comforted. It felt nice to be taken care of.

“I’ll make you some soup,” he said, but he lingered over me after pulling up the covers, showing no sign of moving away. That was fine. His face was quite close to mine, and I observed now how masculine it was. There were only a few years between us, but they had made a difference. He seemed mature: strong features, bright eyes, firm full lips. I was intrigued by his eyebrows: they weren’t bushy, but they were manly, dark and dynamic, like Tom Cruise’s. They were quite close now, and I was able to see the individual hairs. They seemed thick, like his lashes, thicker than his (very nice) head hair. I took a deep breath and noticed cologne for the first time—very faint—or maybe it was after-shave. His cheeks were perfectly smooth, but I noticed a tiny black hair he’d missed near his jaw—

It was while I was thinking these things that he slowly, imperceptibly, closed the distance between his lips and mine.

His kiss was so sweet, so gentle, that for a moment I didn’t realize I was melting into it, luxuriating it, kissing him back gently. It was the most natural thing in the world. I had never kissed a man. I had never kissed anyone. I closed my eyes and was lost in the deep pleasure suffusing me, my body, my soul.

I opened my eyes when I felt him climb in next to me. Somehow he was naked now, and he pressed his tight, firm, warm body against mine. My cock was hard and was pushing insistently against his abs; his was too, and I felt it pressed against my loins. It was burning hot, and felt big and thick.

Every fuse in my mind was blown. I couldn’t think, I could only feel. I was overwhelmed with the passion, not just of a man’s first time, but of a very lonely, very young man who felt an urgent need to be loved and needed and protected. We kissed forever, and then slowly his hot mouth made its way down my body until it found my quivering erection. He immediately took as much of it in his mouth as he could and stroked the rest. The combined sensation drove me immediately to the edge, and though I tried hard to hold out he wouldn’t let up, and before long I could feel it welling up in my balls and surging up my long shaft. He pulled off just in time and watched, fascinated, as my monster cock spewed a quart of cum in four separate payloads. I was amazed in my turn—I never came that much—but I didn’t care. I was completely drunk with passion and ecstasy, and completely sated, sprawled out on the bed with my feet planted on the floor and my hands hanging over the sides. My eyes drifted closed, but flew open when I heard a little yelp. Randall was nursing his right index finger.

“What?” I said. “Are you okay?”

“Yeah,” he said, an edge of wonder in his voice. “It’s just—your cum is really hot. Like, burning hot.” He showed me his finger. The tip was very slightly red. I frowned. “Isn’t it burning you?”

I shook my head. Gingerly I touched the cum with my own fingertip. I could sense, at a level slightly removed from pure touch, that the cum was indeed very hot. But my finger reacted as though I’d touched a puddle of luke-warm water.

“Huh. Well, glad I got off you before you came, that’s all I can say,” he said with a smile. “Let me get you a towel. Then I’ve got to get back to work.” He headed around the bed toward the closets.

My eyes followed him. He looked better naked than he had with clothes. “Don’t go,” I said.

He flashed me a smile as he drew out a towel and tossed it to me. “Don’t worry, I want to see you again very soon.” He started picking up his clothes, then stopped and grinned at me. “Hey, how ‘bout that dinner?”

“Great!” Boy, there sure was a lot of cum to mop up. I might need another towel, I thought, not without some satisfaction.

“Great,” Randall said. “I know a great place in Mooresville. The Yellowjacket, on Marie Street, near—oh, what is it?—Pike Street. Think you can find it? I’ll meet you there at 5:30, right after I get off. Deal?”

He was already dressed and about to go. I missed him already—romantic fool that I was, I think I’d already given up my heart to this stranger I hadn’t known only a few hours ago. But when he said, “Mooresville” my cheer evaporated and my heart sank. The city’s name unlocked my internal debate of the night before. It all came flooding back—especially the part about not knowing whether I’d be safe anywhere from blowing people up.

Maybe the thing with the barn was just a dream. How desperately I wanted to believe that. I nearly convinced myself. But at some level, deep in the back of my mind, I could still sense it, the thrumming energy wall that was now a part of me. It was louder than before.

Randall was looking at me funny, his head cocked to one side. Quickly I said, “Sounds great. I’ll meet you there.”

I’d made it my New Year’s resolution not to lie, after I got caught fibbing about my brother’s girlfriend and an entirely fictional date I said I’d seen her on with some other guy. I was just rattling his chain, but my story led to fights and totally screwed them up. Anyway, I’d made a resolution not to lie any more. This was the first time I’d broken it.

Before I knew it Randall had kissed me goodbye, and then he was gone, leaving me with nothing but the silence of the forest. A single tear welled up in my left eye and started to trickle slowly down the side of my nose. I devoted all of my attention to tracking that tear. As long as I did that, I couldn’t think about anything else.

I have to admit I spent a while wallowing in self-pity, just laying there overflowing that strange bed, staring at the ceiling. After I while, though, even the most morose teenager will get disgusted with his own self-victimization. To get my mind of the whole blowing-up-barns thing, I tried to distract myself with the other side of what had happened to me: my new body.

I stuffed a pillow behind my head and gazed down at my bod. It seemed to stretch away from me almost comically, but it was real. I could feel every inch of it, the weight and warmth of it, from the little itch on the crown of my scalp to the feel of my feet planted on the ground beyond the bed. I raised them up so my legs were straight. My feet were still huge, and they were still mud-caked and scuffed (though not cut anywhere) from last night’s cross-country sprint. I was feeling a little sticky all over. Normally my sweat was barely noticeable, but this morning it was stickier, more pungent. I lifted my left arm to give my armpit a sniff, and quickly jerked my head away.

My arm was still raised, and now I was looking at it, examining it as if it were something new and strange to me, which, hey, it was. It was my arm, I guess—the skin, the general shape, the very light swath of hair on the forearms looked right. I checked with my other hand for the little mole that had always been near the top of my left arm on the back. It was there. But the arm itself looked like it had been pulled in a taffy machine, then reformed and beefed up. Tentatively I flexed the bicep. Up until yesterday, I’d only ever done this to prove to myself what a simp I was, ‘cause nothing had ever happened—it had just sat there, like a lazy dog that wouldn’t sit up. Now, though, Rover was sitting up, and somebody’d been feeding him ‘cause Rover’d gotten big. I checked out other muscles—biceps, triceps, pecs, legs—and found the same thing: When I woke these muscles up and flexed them, they expanded and firmed to unexpectedly large sizes. My new height and lankiness had dominated my initial impressions, but overshadowed by my stature was a hell of a latent beef quotient, at least for me, the original 150-pound wuss. Yet, as I looked myself over, I still looked well-proportioned. Not a muscle guy but an athlete, or a gymnast. I’d always liked the gymnasts, especially the Germans and the Russians who trained to get perfect pecs for the rings and pommel horse. Though I’d never seen a seven-and-a-half-foot-tall gymnast before.

Through all of this my cock had been slowly waking up from a pleasant drowse, and my inspection had become increasingly erotic, as I caressed the firmness of my pecs or experienced the entirely new feeling of having ab muscles. My cock uncurled from its sleeping position and crawled, in a fairly leisurely manner, up my newfound abs, pumping up like a Ball Park hot dog. Damn it was big. Now this was a development I could definitely appreciate. As it firmed to full hardness I wrapped both my oversized paws around it, and there was still room for another hand. I grinned down at it, and it stared up at me, still filling out, gently pushing my fists open. I was wondering idly how long it was, when another measurement occurred to me: the head was only about five inches from my mouth.

Naturally, I did what any guy would have done: I leaned forward and went to town. At first I sucked enthusiastically, slurping the head and the top few inches as I stroked the rest of the shaft, then I slowed into a very erotic rhythm that lasted I don’t know how long. I was amazed at how much I loved the feeling of having a cock in my mouth. It was big and wide, filling my mouth in a beautiful way that just turned me all the way on. And it was my cock, so I was getting double pleasure—except I think it was more than double. If I hadn’t just come I don’t think I would have lasted at all; as it was, I don’t think it took very long before I felt another huge surge of cum welling up and then shooting through my long shaft, blasting deep into my throat. I choked, sputtering, and hauled the stiff pole out of my mouth. It continued spitting burning-hot cum all over my face, before finally it subsided. The hot cum felt good on my face. I could feel it was hot enough to burn me, but I wasn’t getting burned. The towel was still beside me; I lazily rubbed most of the cum off my face and cast it aside. My cock softened slightly in my hands, and I let it rest on my abs, one hand still wrapped partway around it. I drifted off into a doze.

When I awoke the light in the room had changed. The sun had passed into afternoon, and sunlight was now streaming through the sliding glass door. I yawned, sated and content, my troubles forgotten. I felt sticky all over from cum and sweat. A shower would feel good.

I sat up in the bed, feeling a little disoriented, and rose to my feet—and cracked my head on the ceiling. Shit! I drew my head back and turned to look at the white-painted plaster. It was right in my face. I straightened up all the way and had to stoop my head. I was well over eight feet tall.

I looked down at my body. It looked the same. Maybe it was filled out a bit more, not very noticeably, just a few accents here and there. My shoulders looked a little broader. Out of curiosity I reached into the back of my mind and felt the energy flow. To my dismay, it was now greatly accelerated. It felt like it had when I first noticed it, when it was building toward the accident in the barn.

What to do? Clothes. I started looking for clothes. One of the closets contained some uniforms and some civilian clothes. None of them, of course, were my size. I felt like I was looking through a clearance table at the Gap—nothing but Smalls. At last I found a pair of extra-loose looking uniform pants. I pulled them on. Because I was so lanky I could wear them—in fact the waist on the slacks was a tad too big—but I was so tall the hem of the pants rode just below my knees. I’d turned another man’s pants into baggy Bermudas. An XXL tee-shirt similar exposed my midriff. Shoes would be impossible, but on the other hand I didn’t seem to need them.

I sat on the edge of the bed, pondering my next move, as I adjusted my sausage in the unaccustomed restriction of the pants. If I was going to “blow” again I had to get out of there. But I also really needed to wash up. I was uncomfortable and I stank, not altogether unpleasantly (but still), of semen.

I stood up suddenly (remembering just in time not to stand up all the way) and walked over to the door, unlocked it and went out. It was a fine day, warm and pleasant after last night’s storm. I walked slowly around the house until I found what I was looking for: a garden hose, hooked up on the back side of the little building. Quickly I undressed, feeling a strange and unpleasant sense of déjà vu as I set my new clothes aside—carefully, on a crate near the door. Then I proceeded to give myself an invigorating shower with the garden hose’s startlingly powerful sprayer attachment.

I’d been cleansing myself for several minutes before I noticed I had an audience. Three hikers had emerged from the forest onto the upper observation deck and, having rounded the corner of the main building in the spirit of exploration, had discovered me. They were now watching me with great interest. There were two guys and a girl, college age. One of the guys was wearing a sweatshirt that said LASALLE, the community college in Torrence. The girl and one of the guys were regarding me with frank admiration, but the other guy, the one in the sweatshirt, had the furrowed brow of someone disturbed by the unexpected presence of a freak, like he’d happened on Jeffrey Dahmer at the local McDonald’s, tucking into a Quarter Pounder with Cheese.

The first guy looked familiar. With a sinking feeling I suddenly realized I knew him. He was my friend Pete’s older bother, Todd. He did go to LaSalle. I’d caught him checking out my older brother Mick a couple times (Mick’s a year older than me and an absolutely typical high school football jock—’nuff said), so I’d always known what planet he was from. In fact, I’d hoped to get up the nerve to talk to him about being gay. Todd, though, obviously did not recognize me. I wondered about that. I’d certainly changed a lot. Plus he wasn’t really looking at my face.

Between that and the second guy looking at me like I was literally a pile of shit I was pretty unnerved. I stood rooted to the spot, my mind a blank. I should have just dashed inside, but in spite of everything that had happened to me I reverted right to that same deer-in-the-headlights auto-response that had gotten the crap beaten out of me four times since grade school.

The sweatshirt guy took a step forward. “So who are you supposed to be, Bigfoot?” We both glanced down at my feet. They did look large even for my new size. We looked up again simultaneously, and he said, “I guess so.”

The other two were both looking at him as if he’d suddenly started speaking in Finnish. “Cameron—” the girl said. She was pretty, with long blond hair and a pink sweater. She looked almost anachronistic, like she’d stepped out of a hygiene short from the sixties about good girls who had emery boards with them at all times. In fact she looked a lot like Olivia Newton-John in the first half of “Grease.”

Cameron followed my glance and realized I was looking at what I’m sure he referred to as “his girl.” An ugly anger transfigured his face. “Hey! Don’t you look at her!” He took another, more menacing step toward me. Todd grabbed his arm and told him to stop acting like a fool. (Later I wondered whether he mean that Cameron was behaving like an infant, or that it was suicidal to go up against an eight-and-a-half-foot tall stranger who was built like a gym rat to boot. Upon consideration after the event his behavior didn’t perplex me too much, when I realized that he was simply scared of his girlfriend getting attention from someone who “brought more to the party” than he did. At the time, though, I was flabbergasted.)

Cameron shook him off and then, without warning, charged me like an enraged rhino.

And like someone on the receiving end of a rhino charge I stood gibbering like a mental defective. It must have been through pure luck that one synapse fired in my brain. The synapse that was frantically trying to remind me I was still holding the hose sprayer.

I squeezed the trigger and blasted him in the face. He floundered, spluttering, and stopped his advance. Roused by my success I twisted the nozzle from “spray” to “stream” and blasted him again, this time with a concentrated jet of water so powerful it must have really stung. This time he started spouting obscenities and tried to get out of the spray, but I kept it on him. I was getting angry in my turn.

“I’m gonna slaughter you, you freak!” raved the idiot.

“Bite me!” I answered, by way of witty riposte. (Sitcoms to the contrary, teenagers usually don’t think of clever backtalk until the next day, sad to say. An hour later at the earliest, but it amounts to the same thing.)

I was getting really angry. I advanced toward him now, which was a big mistake. As I moved the spray around his face he got one eye open, enough to judge distances. Without wasting a second he leapt forward and slapped the sprayer out of my grasp with one hand and lunged toward me with the other.

Now I was really pissed. Scared, too, but being able to look down on this guy made me more angry than scared. I grabbed his head with my big right hand, palming it like a basketball. At first I just held him at bay, but thanks to the combination of leverage and strength I was able to force him to his knees. His arms were flailing viciously the whole time, but mine was so long I was completely out of reach. “What the fuck is wrong with you?” I bellowed. And then I felt it—the surge of raw power had been welling up in me without my paying it any attention. It was suffusing me now, coursing through me, and before I could yank myself away I imparted some kind of electric jolt to Cameron. As I pulled back, appalled, I saw sparks dancing in his wet hair. He collapsed, eyes open but unconscious.

“Shit!” I swore. I heard Sandra Dee say “What did you do to him?” but I barely noticed. I turned to the other two, about to tell them to run away; but Cameron couldn’t run. I had to make a break for it. I bolted into the woods, speeding through the trees as fast as I could. Only a few seconds passed before the power inside me had built up too far for me to hold back any more. I burst screaming into a small clearing and then—everything went white.

I came to a little while later and looked around. Several of the trees near me were reeling back from me at crazy angles, partly uprooted. Dirt and dust hung in the air, stinging my eyes. Birds were scolding me angrily from a safe distance.

I felt spent. I made my way wearily back to the cabin and hid near the edge of the forest.

The three hikers were still there. Cameron was awake, struggling to his feet, mouthing off about me. The girlfriend was still trying to figure out what had happened. Cameron, amidst a flood of expletives, said he’d been “zapped.” Todd suggested that maybe a nerve had been pinched when I pushed him down. I don’t think he believed it, but the others seemed to. He asked if the others had heard that scream, and they said they had. Cameron suggested hopefully that it might have been me falling into a pit that went straight to hell.

The girlfriend wanted nothing more to do with this place, and the others were inclined to agree. Still, as I watched fretfully from my hiding spot, I noticed Todd lagged behind the others a little. He was scanning the forest, looking for me. Suddenly his eyes met mine. We exchanged glances for a long moment. It was a quiet moment, the two of us separated by thirty feet, no one else in sight. I saw his eyebrows go up; even as I was wondering if he’d recognized me he mouthed my name, Hank, in an amazed query.

I closed my eyes, willing the moment to end. I heard Todd’s friends calling to him. When I opened my eyes he was gone.

I retrieved my clothes, spending a few moments tackling the novel problem of arranging my prodigious equipment in my pants for maximum comfort and ease of movement. It wasn’t just that the shaft was of a really ridiculous size; my testicles had attained a commensurate dimensional boost as well, and these pants—pants in general, really—really just aren’t designed to accommodate all the stuff I had banging around down there. I guess I needed a jockstrap or something, but I’d seen nothing of the sort in the cupboards inside the cottage, and I was reluctant to go back in. I’d literally closed the door on my encounter with Randall—though to complete the symbolism I suppose I should add that I also hadn’t locked the door. I’d developed a fondness for him during our brief time together. He was obviously fond of me. But zapping that guy, and then exploding again uncontrollably afterward, had renewed my determination to stay away from everyone for their own safety. I refused to hurt anyone else. I would cut myself off. Maybe live out in the depths of the forest somewhere, or deep in the country beyond the farms, or up in the real mountains out west. That would be my life unless I found a way to control—or get rid of—whatever strange power had infused me.

I stood by the door of the cottage, clothed but with no place to go, and looked into this future appalled. Living alone in the wilderness, with maybe new strange things happening to me. Would I keep growing? Would the power discharges get worse? What else had happened to me that I didn’t even know about yet?

I might have sunk into a deep despair at that point, but something about how all of this had been thrust on me unwilling started to make me angry. It was senseless. The universe had reached out and zapped me, just like I’d zapped that idiot Cameron. It was wrong. Why the fuck had the universe gone and ruined my entire life? Rage was welling up in me, a pure, thrilling rage that seemed to throw a high voltage power switch in every cell in my body, from the tips of my big toes to the backs of my hands to the hairs on the back of my neck. It felt disturbingly exhilarating. An unquenchable conflagration seemed to be roaring inside me now, consuming my very guts, an electrical fire out of control. Even in that moment of blind fury there was room in my mind for alarm—it hadn’t been like this before. But I was saturated with a rage made manifest by my own seemingly endless reserve of power. I was aflame, and in that moment of heedless animal rage at what had happened to me, at what I had unwillingly become, my humanity was submerged, perhaps imperiled.

I was becoming overwhelmed. An inner island of panic was swamped by the rage and was subsumed into it, feeding my raw emotional state. Frantically I tried to find a way to release my energy, for far from discharging on its own as it had twice before it seemed to be building unendurably, spiraling into infinity.

I could see only dimly. The trees and buildings were swimming. They were green and brown smudges to me. As I cast about, though, I fixed on a pinkish smudge that seemed out of place. My rage focused on it automatically, and I squeezed my eyes to make the apparition come clear. I stumbled toward it. Inarticulate howling surrounded me, like the screams of a cornered beast. Only later did I realize those howls were coming from me. The overloading of power and emotion, fed unnaturally by my newfound access to raw power, was stripping away all reason, all understanding.

I came closer to the pinkish smudge. My vision cleared a little. All around it was a kind of glimmering. Directly before me was the face of a man, a man known even to the unhinged monster to which I had abandoned myself: It was my face, contorted in wrath into the likeness of a snarling madman.

A new surge of demonic fury suffused me like an atomic detonation, and suddenly there was nothing else in the universe but a need to destroy the creature before me. That need was my leverage, the tool I needed to stop the death spiral I was in. Of its own volition, it seemed, my power and rage left me in a waterfall-like torrent, a blast naught could survive, all with the intent of frying the image before me, blasting it apart with a force so intense that its very atoms would be rent asunder, spun out into the surrounding universe with the force of a supernova at such velocities that they would surpass the physical laws of the universe.

Then, suddenly, like the switching of a tap, it was over, and I was myself, standing woozy and spent in the midst of the clearing. Before me was a wall of shimmering air, translucent and reflecting at the same time, maybe ten feet square. That which I had tried to obliterate stood before me still unharmed, though unsteady on its feet like me: my own reflection in the shimmering wall of air. I looked at it, as if seeing were a new thing I had just discovered, and wondered; but my mind was beyond exhausted, and a blackness was taking me. I had the impression of the shimmering wall moving gently toward me as I fell. I remembered no more.

Consciousness returned slowly. For a while I was only cognizant of my immediate sensations. I opened my eyes, and they felt strange and gummy, like they’d been in storage for a long time and were only just now being reinstalled. I could see little but a vague distant whiteness. My mouth felt dry and my tongue thick. I wanted to vocalize my first thought, the expected and reasonable question “Where am I?”, but speaking would require reinitializing every muscle in my mouth, throat and chest.

I was lying down of something firm but yielding. My head was throbbing. I had an impulse to sit up, but I was pretty sure that would be even more of a disaster than speaking. I lay, collecting myself, feeling a cool moving air waft gently across my skin. What had happened? Was I dead?

I became aware of my hands. They were spread out on either site of me. I could feel the cushions I was lying on. It felt like leather, or perhaps vinyl or naugahyde. I caressed the cushions with my fingertips, slowly enlarging the field of my reconnaissance, until my left hand suddenly encountered something warm. I tapped it tentatively with my fingertips. It was an arm.

I snapped my head to the left, causing an instant migraine and starting my heart pounding frantically in my chest. Still it was easy enough to make out what my hand had discovered. It was the arm of a young man—a young man, more specifically, who was at that moment lying alongside me a few feet away, watching me intently with a look of tender amusement on his beautiful, slightly Asian face.

My lips formed the “wh” of “who,” but he lifted a hand and gently touched a warm finger to my lips, and I said nothing. His touch was pleasant and I was disappointed when he withdrew it. I tried to take him in quickly, in case he should vanish, though he was clearly no illusion. He was shaped like I knew myself to be now: very tall and extremely lanky, with long limbs and large feet and hands, yet generously muscled, especially about the upper torso. Like me he was hairless, but his head hair was thick and black to my brow, and his eyes were black. He was clad in simple, loose white garments (as I now discovered myself to be). His slacks revealed little until, as he did now, he moved and stood up, and the movement of his garments betrayed an organ of considerable heft concealed within, asleep and docile for now.

He was standing on the leathery cushion, which was pale gray in color and extended for some distance in all directions. He smiled down at me and extended his massive hand. Hesitantly I lifted my hand and placed it in his. I felt a stirring inside me which was partly erotic and partly something different, something more, a connectedness that was latent between us, needing only to be awoken.

He helped me to my feet, and I stood, enjoying the unexpected pleasure of my bare feet on the textured cushion. We stood before each other, inches apart, and before I even finished thinking that it was necessary for us to kiss we were doing so. It was warm, gentle and welcoming, like the embrace he was enfolding me in, and it occurred to me that he was indeed welcoming me to wherever we were. Welcoming me to what I now was.

Speech, I thought, is overrated. This is much better.

He drew back, preventing me from indulging in further welcoming, and smiled brilliantly at me. He was outstandingly handsome, almost a little too handsome. Was that part of the physical changes that had happened to us? Clearly we had gone through some of the same transformations. As a gangly, acne-scarred teenager I was so used to thinking of myself the antithesis of sexy that I was unable to consider whether it was possible for me to have become as handsome as this boy-god before me. Even much later, when it was confirmed to me that this had indeed happened, I refused to believe it for a long time.

We stood with our arms around each other for a perfect moment and then he gently detached himself, drawing me with him by the hand. We walked across the cushioned floor and through a doorless entryway into a long open hallway. Everything was white, with high ceilings, and such was the presence of light that the air seemed to glimmer a little like the shimmering wall I’d fallen through—a portal, obviously, into wherever I now was. We passed down the corridor and through a high archway into a tremendous chamber, a cathedral of whiteness and light. I craned my neck, but the ceilings were too high to be seen; it felt like we had passed outdoors into a world with a blazing white sky.

We were not alone. Here and there all around us, some far away, some near at hand, were couples and small groups of people—and they were all people like us: lanky boy-gods, dressed in loose white, enjoying the sensation of each other’s physical presence the way you might enjoy a good swim or a really pleasant breeze. There was of course great variety: different races, different hair and features; but they were all built in the same way, and they were all inhumanly beautiful. All were touching each other in various ways, holding hands or embracing or pressed together like two partners in a slow dance; a few were kissing, including some of the groups of three or four, but most were just enjoying each other’s company. Everyone was relaxed but alert. There was no languor here, only an absence of negative feelings.

My companion drew me into the center of the great room, and I was aware of the attention of the others. They moved toward us and around us a little, casually. A momentary pang of fear flashed briefly in my mind and evaporated as I became aware of the concentrated sense of goodwill coming from all around me. I saw to my surprise that I was slightly taller than most of the others, my companion included. I sensed deep-seated appreciation as well as welcome from all these men. I was the new model.

As if by arrangement they come forward, some individually and some in pairs, and gave me the warm, gentle welcoming kiss.

Heaven, I thought, could not be better than this.

After a while the circle parted and the most beautiful boy-god of them all came through. He was so beautiful he seemed to exude beauty, like the sun. In my mind I named him Apollo almost automatically. He appeared to be young, as young as all the other boy-gods around me (who all seemed only a little older that I was if at all), and he stood only a few inches taller than us; yet the intensity of his presence dominated us and all around us, filling this vast chamber.

I’m not sure when exactly I had gotten hard, but I became aware of my erection now. Though I hadn’t adjusted it it was somehow standing straight up, gently tethered by the waistband of the loose-fitting slacks, and I now noticed it was throbbing obscenely against my twelve-pack abs under my loose white shirt. I became aware of it mainly because Apollo too gave me the welcoming kiss, and the warm thrill it imparted to me seemed to make my cock three times as hard as before, so hard it was almost painful. Then he spoke, softly and sweetly, his face a few inches from mine so that I could taste the breath of his speech.

“Come,” he said. And I did. I ejaculated what felt like quarts of superheated cum as waves of orgasmic pleasure washed over me. Somehow it felt like this place augmented the pleasure of the orgasm, so that my ecstasy seemed infinite and unbounded. I felt Apollo’s warm powerful hands on my shoulders, steadying me until I was spent. When I could see again he was smiling at me in simple joy at my happiness.

All the others were smiling too, though I felt an undercurrent of arousal as well. But I only had eyes for the big guy in front of me. He winked at me and said, “Now—come,” cocking his head just slightly toward the doorway we’d entered by. I grinned sheepishly. He took my free hand (for I was still holding hands with my companion from the cushions), and together we made our way through the crowd of beautiful men toward the secrets of my new life that were now to be revealed to me at last.

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