Software upgrades

by King Dave

Like many people, Jacob has been working from home since Covid-19 hit in March. Now in late December, an update to the video chat software gives him and his hunky coworker a pleasant surprise. Good think he didn’t take the day off!

Added: 26 Dec 2020 Updated: 9 Jan 2021 7,945 words 6,284 views 4.9 stars (17 votes)

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The alarm awoke me as it does every morning, and I blearily faced the truth. 8:00 a.m., time to get up. Still, I thought as I sat up in bed, it could be worse. Thanks to the Covid-19 work-from-home policy, my 30 minute commute was now 30 minutes of extra sleep. Not that I’d characterize a global pandemic as a ‘good thing’, but I appreciate the small silver lining on the apocalyptic dark cloud we’re all living through. I like to stay positive.

I pulled myself out of bed and started my morning routine. Out the window, snow was softly falling and covering the ground in a sparkling white blanket. It was Monday, December 21st: four days before Christmas, or in my case three days after Chanukah. Most of my coworkers had taken the week off, leaving me as one of the few people still working. Why waste the vacation days? I wasn’t doing anything for Christmas, and with everyone else off, the week was a write-off anyway.

I took my bowl of cereal to my desk and opened my work laptop. I had set up a small work station in the corner of my studio apartment back in March which I hoped to keep using post-pandemic. Working at a company that built apps for startups, I’d never had much need to be in an office, though I did sometimes miss the sociability and the excuse to leave my 400 square feet. I logged in and watched the greeting fade in on screen. I read it aloud. “Good morning, Jacob.”

Once I had logged in, a dialogue box appeared on screen:

A new version of V-ChatPro is now available. This update includes critical security fixes and is highly recommended.

Also included in this update:

- Enhanced audio fidelity (more accurate speech reproduction)
- Improved video processing (more realistic image)
- Emoji keyboard in chat function
- Bug fixes

Estimated update time: 5 minutes.

I checked the time: 8:52 a.m. I still had time before my 9:00 a.m. team touch-base. I clicked “restart and install”, got up to make coffee, and returned just as the log-in screen came on. 8:57 a.m., right on time. Impressed, I logged in and read myself the morning greeting again. “Good morning, Jacob.” Wow, I am alone.

Once logged in again, I was presented with a new dialogue box:

Your computer is now running on low battery. Please connect to external power.

Estimated battery remaining: 1 hour.

That’s odd, I thought. The laptop was plugged in as it had been all night. I unplugged the power cord and plugged it back in. No good. Must be something wrong with the cord, I thought. Well, no time to figure that out now. It was 9:00. This would have to wait until after the meeting.

I opened the newly updated V-ChatPro window and checked my video settings. There I was reproduced on screen with improved video processing. I adjusted my chair making sure my shoulders were just out of frame. I didn’t want to look at my bony shoulders or the way my t-shirt sleeves billowed around my thin upper arms. People always said I must be a runner because I stayed so slim, but I was really more of a sitter. I didn’t mind looking at my own face though, with bright eyes and symmetric features I thought of myself as reasonably handsome.

My apartment was another story. I’d set up the camera to keep my unmade bed out of frame, but you could still see dirty dishes covering the counter. I turned on a virtual background, something out of a Danish design blog, all dark green walls with brass accents and geometric furniture. Better, I thought, but remembering my battery problem decided to turn off my camera, and clicked “Join Meeting”.

Nobody was there. I laughed quietly to myself. Of course. Everyone was on vacation. Then, just as I was about to leave the meeting, someone joined, and he was shirtless.

I’d been thirsting after Ahmed since we started working together in the summer. From what I could see through video chat (and some light online creeping), Ahmed had the body I’d always wished I had: broad, rounded shoulders framing a defined chest, tapering to a tight waist supported by strong thighs. Of course, not all of that was visible at the moment, but what I could see was enough to leave me momentarily speechless.

“Hey Jacob,” he said, breaking me from my daze. “Sorry I’m late, I overslept. Just got out of the shower.”

“I can see that,” I said as I watched a bead of water slide down Ahmed’s neck and settle between his pecs. Lucky droplet. “Your camera is on.”

“It is?” Ahmed asked with a note of panic. “Damn update must have messed with my settings,” he muttered as he fumbled for his mouse.

“Relax, it’s just you and me today. No need to worry, I don’t mind.” I said, understating things somewhat.

Ahmed’s face calmed and he put down his mouse. “Right,” he said, “everyone else is off. Just the non-believers left.”

“Exactly,” I said. “just us heretics, so we’re free to get comfortable. Do you normally do anything for Christmas?”

Ahmed sat back in his chair bringing the rest of his chest into view along with his upper abs. “Not really,” he replied. “I didn’t grow up celebrating it, and even if I did, it’d be tough with my family all back in Tehran.” He put a slight emphasis on the ‘h’ in Tehran that I could never quite replicate, the same way he did when he introduced himself. aHmed. “How about you, how was your Chanukah this year?”

I smiled. Ahmed had put a bit too much phlegm on the “Cha” but I appreciated the effort. “It was fine,” I said distractedly, “nothing too exciting.” This year’s celebrations had been limited to a chaotic zoom chat with the extended family. The highlight of the “party” had been everyone blessing the candles in a different key and with laggy audio.

I watched as Ahmed absently brushed some water out of his hair with his hand, making his bicep bounce pleasantly. His thick black hair was kept short enough to stay tidy but long enough to have a slight wave. Above his head, I noticed a chin up bar in the doorframe behind him. “Is that a new chin up bar?” I asked.

“What? Oh, yeah. It is,” Ahmed replied, clearly thrown by my utter lack of a segue. “Gotta find ways to stay fit with everything closed,” he added cheerily.

“Well whatever your pandemic workout routine is, it’s working. I swear you’re looking bigger every time I see you.” Why did I say that? It’s not like me to comment on a coworker’s body. Ahmed for his part looked quite comfortable with the compliment, as he threw me a quick bicep flex and a playful grin.

“Anyway,” I said, remembering this was a work meeting, “Since the new module is finished, I’ll be going through our test cases to make sure they’re ready to go.”

“Cool,” said Ahmed. “Let me know as each one is confirmed and I can start running the test scripts.”

“Sounds good, I’ll keep you updated,” I said.

“Great, see you soon!” Ahmed waved to the camera and ended the call.

I sat back in my chair and exhaled deeply. That had been a nice surprise. I hadn’t been prepared for a sexy, shirtless Ahmed first thing in the morning. I noticed a tightness in my crotch and realized that the video chat had left me standing at attention so to speak. I frowned down at the 5-inch tent in my pants. No time for that now, I thought. Not with Ahmed waiting for me to give him the go-ahead.

I adjusted myself, took a sip of coffee, cracked my knuckles and got to work. Occasionally, I’d check the battery life on my laptop, but the result was the same every time: low battery, 1 hour remaining. Weird, I thought, I should be almost out of battery by now. I pressed on with my work, not wishing to be ungrateful.

About an hour in, I got an alert that Ahmed was requesting a video chat. I accepted the call, this time leaving my camera on. “Hey Ahmed, what’s up?”

“Hi!” Ahmed replied. He was wearing a black crewneck t-shirt now. While I missed his earlier shirtless look, he still looked fantastic. The shirt was stretched snugly across his chest and shoulders hinting at the contours beneath it. And perhaps it was the thickness of the material, but his muscles looked somehow fuller than they had before. “Nice new apartment,” Ahmed said.

I looked at my surroundings, I was in the den of my new apartment with the spacious dark-green living room visible behind me. I hadn’t been looking to move, but when I saw that there was a stylish apartment twice the size of my old one and for less money in the building next door, I had jumped at it. A very merry pandemic-induced-rental-market-crash to me indeed.

“Thanks!” I said. “Just moved in this weekend. I still have some things in boxes, but it’s coming along.”

Ahmed frowned, raising a thick eyebrow. “Is something wrong?” I asked.

“No…” Ahmed said slowly. “I don’t think I remember you saying you were moving. That’s all.”

“Oh, okay,” I responded. I thought I had told him, but maybe it hadn’t come up.

“Anyway,” Ahmed continued. “The reason I called is that I’m not seeing any updates on those test cases. Do I have the right file?

“It’s probably just not syncing to the cloud. I can check on my end.” I said. As I checked the sync settings, I watched Ahmed on my screen running his hand through his hair and bringing his bicep briefly into frame. His arm looked thicker than before, and more defined. It must be the contrast against his black shirt, I thought. “Should be fixed now,” I said. “How does it look for you?

“You look great! It. It looks great,” Ahmed corrected himself quickly. “I tried to say ‘you fixed it’ and ‘it looks great’ at the same time,” he trailed off. Ahmed was looking at his screen with a quizzical look on his face, a mix of surprise, confusion, and mischief. “Hey why don’t we leave the call going so we can ask each other questions if anything comes up?”

“Fine by me. You won’t find that distracting?” I was beginning to wonder how much work I’d get done with a live feed of Ahmed on my screen.

“Don’t worry, once I get in my zone I won’t even realize you’re there,” Ahmed said confidently.

“Okay then, if you need anything I’ll be here.” I waved to the camera before muting my mic and turning the video off, but leaving the call running.

I had thought Ahmed would do the same, but he just looked away from the camera, presumably reading the newly synced files. Then, before I could unmute myself to tell him he’d left his camera on again, Ahmed stood up and walked away. It turns out he was only half dressed in a t-shirt and matching black boxer briefs. I caught a quick glimpse of a nicely sized bulge before he turned away. My gaze followed his well-rounded ass and powerful thighs through the door behind up, under the chin up bar, and out of frame.

After a short while, Ahmed returned to my computer screen holding a glass of water. Did he look taller? His head came closer to the chin up bar than I had remembered as he walked through the door frame, and I could now see a strip of skin between the hem of his shirt and his elastic waistband. Looking down a bit further, the bulge in his boxer briefs seemed more prominent too, though I had only glimpsed it before.

Ahmed sat down and lifted his glass for a long sip of water. There could be no denying it, his arm was bigger. Where earlier it had filled his sleeve, his bicep was now pushing the sleeve up his arm to bunch up at the bottom of his shoulder.

I stared at my screen transfixed as Ahmed put down the glass of water and got back to work. His formerly snug shirt was now obviously too small, stretching tightly across his chest and giving me a view of the outline of his nipples. Something is definitely going on here, I thought to myself, and I can’t wait to see what’s next.

I watched the muscles in Ahmed’s arms bounce as he typed, losing all sense of time. I noticed he seemed to be uncomfortable. He kept adjusting his shirt, tugging at the neck and twisting his sleeves. Then, without warning, he pulled the shirt up over his head and tossed it aside. I let out a small gasp. No wonder Ahmed had been uncomfortable. His body had gone from hunky coworker to fitness model. There was now a deep valley between his large pecs offset by equally impressive shoulders and traps. I watched hungrily as he manipulated his mouse with his now extra beefy arm, noticing how even that small movement caused his chest muscles to shift hypnotically.

My mouth hung open as my eyes stayed glued to the screen. As I watched, Ahmed raised his left hand up to his chest and began gently massaging his right pectoral muscle. Ahmed, I thought, what are you doing? I then noticed he had dropped his right hand out of the frame, and the muscles in his right arm were flexing and relaxing. I could hear his breath getting louder as he began tweaking his right nipple with his left thumb. Ahmed! I screamed internally, what are you doing!

Ahmed relaxed back into his desk chair and pushed away from the camera, My suspicions were confirmed. Now fully in view was Ahmed’s impressive hard-on sprouting straight up above his waist band, partially obscured by his large right hand which was slowly pumping from the base up to the wide cut head an inch above his navel. His eyes were closed as he gently stroked himself, rhythmically covering and revealing his defined lower abs.

I couldn’t let Ahmed have all the fun. I quickly checked that my mic and camera were still off before reaching for my own unbending erection. I began mimicking Ahmed’s movements, stroking as he stroked. I took off my shirt and started massaging my chest with my free hand, imagining it was his firm chest under my hand and his big hand on my chest. As the rhythm of his stroking sped up, I followed suit, allowing the sound of his breathing to fill my ears. He was panting now, his chest heaving with each breath. He raised his left hand up to his head grabbing a fist full of hair. I mirrored his movements, feeling the tug on my hair and imagining it was his hand. He licked his bicep and I licked mine. His tongue, his skin.

The sound of Ahmed’s breath had been replaced with soft moans. He was bucking his hips now with each stroke, biting his lip as he pulled on his hair. Just as I began to worry I wouldn’t last much longer, Ahmed came and I was sent over the edge. I shuddered in orgasmic pleasure as I watched him on my screen, his muscles slowly relaxing, his shaky breathing becoming more regular. He stayed there for a while with his eyes closed and his chest, now covered in cum, slowly rising and falling.

After what could have been seconds or hours, Ahmed opened his eyes and sat up. He grabbed some tissues from off screen, cleaned himself off, took a sip of water, and tossed the tissues aside. Then, making direct eye contact with his camera, he spoke. “Jacob, are you still there?”

I bolted upright, scrambling to unmute my mic. I took a slow breath to steady my voice. “Yep, I’m here.” I replied.

“I’m gonna take lunch, back in an hour.” He waved at the camera and ended the call.

I sat stunned, blinking at my computer screen. What the entire fuck had just happened? And how was it lunch time already? I looked down at the clock in the corner of my screen. It was 12:04 p.m. I had seriously lost track of time. And hold on, shouldn’t my computer have died by now? I’d had one hour left of battery life three hours ago. I clicked the battery icon next to the clock, and revealed a familiar prompt. Low battery, 1 hour remaining.
I sat blinking at my computer, breathless, confused, not to mention sticky from having just shot all over myself. And hungry too. Okay, one thing at a time, I thought, closing my laptop. First clean up, then food, then air.

Taking care not to drip on anything, I made my way to the bathroom, stepped out of my pants and into the shower. I pulled the shower knob and let out a sigh as the hot water began to rush over me.

I closed my eyes, and immediately my view of the tiled shower wall was replaced by images of Ahmed. Ahmed at his desk, his bicep bulging out of his sleeve while he drank from a glass of water, his too-small black t-shirt straining around his shoulders and across his imposing chest. Ahmed, stroking himself in his desk chair, his free hand tugging at his thick black hair, his chest heaving with each panting breath. Ahmed, standing in front of me in the shower, shining water droplets dripping from his hair, his shoulders, his lips, him inching towards me and putting his big warm hands on my—

Cold shower it is! I twisted the shower knob to the right and was instantly brought back to reality by the icy water. I cleaned myself off, toweled dry, and redressed. First item of business done, now step two: food. Fortunately, I’d already prepared my lunch that morning. I grabbed the sandwich from the fridge and my coat from the closet, and headed out for step three: air.

Walking outside had always helped me to clear my head, and the crisp winter air was exactly what I needed. I embarked down the snowy sidewalk and began to organize my thoughts.

Okay, in order, what happened today? Woke up, showered, brushed teeth, breakfast, nothing unusual there. Laptop was nearly drained but was lasting for hours anyway, a bit odd. Video chat with shirtless Ahmed, unconventional but not supernatural. Reading test files, exceedingly ordinary. Video chat number two with Ahmed looking extra buff, definitely suspicious. In fact, he seemed to have gotten bigger each time I’d seen him that morning.

Hold on. I stopped short. The world was suddenly silent without the crunching of snow beneath my feet. I had said that, I’d told Ahmed he looked bigger every time I saw him. It had been meant as a figure of speech, but the universe seemed to have taken it literally. Was that even remotely possible? What else had I said?

I pressed on, rounding the corner of my block, as I tried to recall everything Ahmed and I had said to each other that morning. Work stuff, files syncing, holiday season chit chat. Ahmed had complimented my new apartment and then seemed confused when I thanked him, saying he didn’t know I was moving. That had been a little weird. I’d told him not to worry about his toplessness and to get comfortable, which he certainly had; the man had beaten himself off on-camera without appearing to realize that I was still on the line—just like he’d said he wouldn’t! What had been his exact words, that once he was in his zone he wouldn’t realize I was there? Well, that seemed to have been true.

I swallowed the last bite of my sandwich and headed back toward my apartment. On the one hand everything I was thinking was completely bonkers. On the other hand, even if Ahmed’s cam performance didn’t need a paranormal explanation, his visible growth did. I’d just have to wait and see what happened next.

It was 1:00 p.m. sharp when I got back to my desk. I raised my convertible desk to standing height and woke my laptop. I logged in, greeted myself (“Good afternoon Jacob”), and got that same battery alert. Still low battery, still 1 hour remaining. Still weird, I thought, as I opened the video settings on V-ChatPro to check the new camera angle.

I inspected the replica of myself on the screen. I looked great and I knew it. There was a certain intensity to my blue-green eyes and my dark, triangular eyebrows. A certain vitality to my rich brown hair, which was cropped close on the sides but fell in loose curls on my forehead. A ruggedness to my square jaw, which, despite my having shaved that morning, was already beginning to subtly darken with stubble. Even my chest and shoulders visible in frame, though not particularly muscular, had a way of filling a shirt that I’d always thought was distinctly masculine. I smiled and my replica reciprocated before his face was covered by a dialogue box. Ahmed was calling. I accepted the call.

If there had been doubt in my mind that Ahmed was growing it was gone now. The white sleeveless undershirt that he now wore was comically small on him. Each of his massive pecs seemed to be at risk of spilling out at any moment and was straining the stretchy fabric to near breaking. His wide shoulders now filled the video frame, which seemed to be tilted upward as I could now see the ceiling behind Ahmed’s head. He’d gotten taller.

“Hey!” he said with a grin. “Have you moved in the last hour?”

“Ha ha,” I mock laughed. “Don’t worry, I took a lap.”

“Aha! I knew it, so you are a runner,” Ahmed said.

People always said this to me. It must be because of how I stayed so slim, or maybe it was my strong thighs and calves. Perhaps it was because I was always doing things like running 5 before and after work, or saying things like “I just got back from a run.”

Ahmed had that quizzical, mischievous look again. “Or,” he said slowly, tugging absently at his shirt, “maybe… you’re more of a gymnast.”

“Both,” I said matter-of-factly. “I was actually a competitive gymnast all through my undergrad, but it’s not as easy to do once you’re out of school. Hence the running. Though I still try to keep it up and stay flexible,” I reached an arm across my strong chest to massage my dense shoulder muscle. “Which can be hard when we’re spending so much time at a desk,” I added.

“Yeah, I bet.” Ahmed had a wild look in his eyes. “Tell me, when you were a gymnast did you have those showers with no doors like they have in the American movies?”

“Yep, those are real,” I confirmed. “I was never a fan of the set up.”

“Why not?” Ahmed asked with that mischievous grin. “I’m sure you had no reason to be embarrassed. I bet you always had the biggest dick in the room.”

It was true. At 8 inches soft, I’d never come across anyone with a heftier package. But how could he have known that? I was sure my camera had been off during our jack-off session that morning.

Ahmed looked distracted. He was peering away from his camera, searching for something on the bottom half of his screen, and twisting his shirt over his shoulders.

“Everything okay there?” I asked after a moment.

“Hmm? Yes, all good. Why?” he replied quickly.

“You seem uncomfortable in your shirt,” I said.

“Oh, that.” He said. “I think my clothes all shrank in the laundry. I can’t even get my arms into my shirts anymore.”

Yeah probably not, I thought wryly. Suddenly, an idea came to my mind. I paused, carefully selecting my words so I could try out my theory.

“Really?” I feigned surprise. “That sweater you’re wearing seems to fit you perfectly.”

In an instant, the image of Ahmed on my screen was no longer stretching the limits of a tiny white tank top, but was comfortably wrapped in a dark blue, high necked sweater. The soft, lustrous wool was nearly black except for where it caught the light hugging the curves of his muscular form, each blue highlight a hint at the powerful body beneath.

“Thanks,” Ahmed said quietly. He was inspecting his screen again. “You know, the video quality on this call is really clear.”

“It is,” I agreed. “It must be that update, the audio is better too,” I said, remembering how the sound of Ahmed moaning had surrounded me just hours ago. “It’s like you’re here in the room with me.”

“Well, yeah,” came a deep voice from behind me. “I’m right here.”

I spun on my heels. Sitting behind me on a mesh-back desk chair was Ahmed, dressed in that fitted blue-black sweater and light blue jeans that left similarly little to my imagination. He rose to his feet, and I followed him up with my eyes, gliding up his tree-trunk thighs and his formidable chest, and tilting my head back to see his face.

“We have got to talk,” I stammered, taking a step towards him.

“We really do,” Ahmed agreed, “But first…”

And all at once the gap between us had evaporated and we were kissing, his big hands roaming my back. I reached up to the back of his head to grab a fistful of hair, and he tilted his head forward in response, pulling my hand with him as he kissed down my neck. I gasped into his ear and slid my hands under his shirt, tracing the deep contours of his abs up to his chest.

“This,” I said, waving my hands trapped under Ahmed’s sweater, “needs to come off.”

Ahmed nodded and raised his arms. I took the cue to lift the sweater over his head, sliding my hands along his solid arms as I pulled the sweater off and tossed it aside.

“Much better,” I said.

I dropped my hands onto Ahmed’s bare shoulders, and he slipped his under my shirt and raised it over my head. He returned his hands to their home on my back and pulled me in closer to feel the heat radiating off his bare chest next to my face.

First with one leg, then the other, I reached around Ahmed’s waist and pulled myself upwards, scaling his body like a mountain and bringing myself to his eye level.

“This is much better,” he said, before moving in for a deep kiss.

Without breaking the kiss, Ahmed wrapped his arms beneath me and carried me to the bedroom where I disengaged and fell back onto the bed.

“These,” he said, reaching for the bottoms of my pant legs, “need to come off as well.”

I quickly removed my belt, letting Ahmed pull my pants off in one smooth motion. He then began kissing his way up my legs, over my calves and my gymnast-cum-runner thighs, until I could feel his warm mouth on my balls through my briefs.

Then he stopped. Surprised, I looked down at him. He was on all fours over my legs, his powerful shoulders filling my view, his head hovering over my crotch.

“What’s wrong?” I asked.

“It’s just,” Ahmed paused. “I knew it was going to be big, but I still wasn’t prepared.”

I shouldn’t have been surprised. At 8 inches soft, my briefs could barely contain me. Hard like I was now, my erection erupted past my waist band and curved back slightly over my stomach, topping out just beneath my pecs.

Before I could offer any reassurance, Ahmed had already dived back in. He slowly licked up and down the sides of my shaft, pausing at the head, while reaching a warm hand into my briefs to play with my balls. I lay back in bliss while he alternated between licking me and stroking me, his tongue caressing my balls as he stroked.

After a while, I could feel myself getting close and told him to stop. I rolled to the side and reached into my nightstand for a condom and lube. My briefs now long gone, Ahmed had used the break in the action to catch up, stripping off his jeans and boxer briefs. He was now kneeling over me nude with his cock on full display, and, like the rest of him, it was noticeably larger than it had looked that morning.

“You’re not so small yourself you know,” I said as I handed Ahmed the condom.

“Don’t worry,” he replied. He freed the condom from its package and expertly rolled it down his shaft. “I’ll be careful.”

I handed Ahmed the lube and lay back to let him begin opening me up. He pressed in gently but firmly, first with one finger, then two, then three. I exhaled slowly, watching his face as he pressed on. Then, with a small gasp, I felt the head of his cock enter me. I raised my legs up to rest on his shoulders as he took hold of my waist and continued pushing forward. I grabbed Ahmed behind the neck and pulled him in.

Ahmed began thrusting, first slowly then more insistently, as I pulled him in for the kiss. I stroked myself as he thrusted, leaving one hand free for massaging my own hard chest, exploring his long back, squeezing his firm arms.

After some time Ahmed’s pace began to quicken. The now familiar sound of his breath in my ears grew loud and ragged. I could tell he was getting close. I moved my mouth off of his to suck on the base of his neck, while with my free hand I pinched his nipple. Ahmed let out a moan and we both came, shuddering in each other’s arms before he collapsed on top of me.

I lay there for a while, allowing the post orgasmic wave to flow through me, until I began to register a tightness in my hamstrings.

“Ahmed,” I whispered. “I need to put my legs down, you’re pinning them behind my head. Also you’re still inside me.”

Ahmed lifted his body and freed my legs. Then, after slowly pulling himself out of me, he removed and tied off the condom, dropped it in the wastebasket beside the bed, and lay down on his back next to me. I rolled onto my side to face him, placing my head on his chest, feeling it gently rise and fall beneath my head.

“What a day,” said Ahmed.

I smiled and closed my eyes. What a day indeed.

My eyes snapped open. In the dim light, I could only make out the rough shapes of my new bedroom. I felt the weight of a big arm around my right flank, the muscular forearm pressed tightly against my bare chest. I gently squeezed back, and closed my eyes.

No sooner had my eyes closed than images of the day rushed into my mind: memories of Ahmed growing out of his clothes, appearing in my apartment, and fucking me silly. I also remembered that it was somehow my doing, that I was somehow speaking these things into reality. Suddenly alert, I reopened my eyes and began to sit up. I needed to get to the bottom of whatever was going on.

“Jacob, what time is it?” came Ahmed’s voice rough with sleep.

I glanced at the alarm clock. “4:15,” I said. It was already getting dark. Damn shortest day of the year.

I turned to look at Ahmed. His eyes were still closed. He looked peaceful, content, giving an angelic quality to his handsome face. I bent down to kiss him, and he responded in kind, pawing sleepily at my torso. After a moment, I broke the kiss and sat up straight.

“Why’d we stop?” Ahmed complained.

“Because,” I said, switching on a lamp and making Ahmed squint angrily at me, “we need to talk.”

“Okay,” he said, and sat up revealing his magnificent chest and abs that seemed to go on forever, “but only because you’re so sexy when you take charge.”

“I seem to remember you playing that role,” I retorted, remembering how he had carried me to the bedroom and yanked off my pants, remembering how hungrily he had kissed his way up my thighs. Those abs really do just keep going don’t they…

“Oh yeah?” he said. I felt his warm hand on my thigh, and my view of his abs was replaced by his face an inch away from mine. What was I talking about?

“Stop trying to distract me.” I gave him a playful shove in the chest. “This is important. I don’t know if you’re aware but there’s some really weird shit going on here.”

“Fine,” Ahmed sighed in mock disappointment. “You’re right, I’m aware. What I’m not aware of though is where my clothes are.”

“You are?” I watched him turn away and stand up to look for his pants. That was an ass I could stare at all day. “What do you know?” I asked.

“Well,” he said, stooping to pick up his boxer briefs and slide them on, “it’s confusing, and it doesn’t all add up. But it’s like everything I say about you becomes true.”

About me? I thought, puzzled by this response. Nothing about me had changed. “Like what?” I demanded.

“Like,” he paused, seemingly considering his words. “Okay, so first I want you to know, Jacob, that I always thought you were cute, and in fact I would have asked you out by now in different circumstances.”

I raised an eyebrow. Flattered as I was, I was suspicious of where this was going. “But?”

“But…” Another pause. “I may have altered your appearance. At first it was an accident, I misspoke or something and said you looked great, and I almost didn’t notice it because like I said you were already quite handsome but something changed and you just looked great. Like, I don’t know how to describe it. So then I figured something was up and I decided to see what would happen if I said you were a gymnast, and then you said you were one and you suddenly had the body to back it up and it was just so hot, the way you bulked up in a flash like that and…” he trailed off.

I stared at Ahmed incredulously. He was standing in his tight black underpants, a tower of muscle at the foot of the bed, but with the posture of a school boy who knew he was in trouble. I glanced down at myself, at the body I had spent years of hard work on, years of strength and agility training to support my athletic pursuits (and maybe some aesthetic pursuits as well). The memories felt real. Had Ahmed really created that? And had he really wanted to ask me out?

I looked back up at Ahmed who was gazing guiltily at his feet. There was something he wasn’t telling me. “And what?” I prodded.

He stood in silence, his hand covering his face. Suddenly, I remembered our conversation from earlier that day, what he had asked me after I’d told him about my gymnastics career.

“You grew my dick!” I announced. Ahmed silently dropped his hand to his hip and glared at me, his face bright red. I thought about the mischievous grin he’d been giving me all afternoon and did my best to return it.

“You did, admit it,” I continued, “I mean, I remember it always being this big, but let’s be real, I know it’s way bigger than most. And that comment you made about the showers, that was very suspicious!”

Ahmed was still glaring at me, red faced and tight lipped. “Fine,” he said after a moment, “I admit it, I grew your dick. Are you happy Jacob?”

I looked down past my enviable torso to my lap, the outline of my giant penis visible under the sheets. Who wouldn’t be happy? “Yes,” I replied.

“Well, you’re welcome,” he grumbled, resuming the search for his jeans. “I also got you this apartment, but I don’t hear a thank you.”

“You what?” I demanded.

Ahmed sighed. He had found his jeans and was holding them up in front of his legs, blocking my view. “This apartment,” he continued calmly. “It was actually the first clue I had that something was happening. It was definitely a virtual background at first. I could see it glitching out around the edges of your head. So I made a joke, I said ‘nice new apartment.’ And then you just said thanks and acted like it was real, and it stopped glitching, and I could see moving boxes in the background.

“What’s really strange,” he went on, “is that I also remember moving in with you over the weekend. Like I remember we planned it out, isolated for two weeks because of Covid, packed our stuff and moved. Which doesn’t make sense, because I also remember the digital background thing. Like I said, it’s not all adding up.”

Ahmed was seated next to me on the bed now. He’d pulled on his jeans and was scanning the floor, perhaps in search of an explanation for his confusing memories. Perhaps in search of his shirt, which I remembered was out in the den.

“Anyway,” he said, turning to face me, “that’s all I know. I don’t know how I did it. Your turn.”

Right, I thought. I’d been so lost in thought trying to take in this new information I’d forgotten I had some truth of my own to tell.

“Well,” I straightened up to look Ahmed in the eye. Even sitting down, I had to crane my neck to meet his gaze. “I don’t know how, and it feels ridiculous saying it, but it’s like you said. When I say things about you they become true.”

“Oh?” It was Ahmed’s turn to wear the mischievous grin. “What have you been saying about me?”

“Well… like you said, it was an accident. At least mostly. I think I teleported you here when I said it was like you were in the room. But it started when we were talking about your new chin-up bar and I said you were looking bigger every time I saw you, and then you were. Bigger. Every time I saw you.”

“Bigger how?” Ahmed asked, looking down appraisingly at himself.

“Bigger muscles for sure,” I replied, “all over. And you’re definitely taller than before. Also I’m pretty sure your dick is bigger too.”

“Well well well!” Ahmed’s grin had widened into a toothy smile. “I see the tables have turned! You grew my dick!”

“Not on purpose!” I retorted.

“Details.” Ahmed said dismissively. “Anyway how do we know it wasn’t always this size?

Now it was my turn to feel embarrassed. “This morning, I, uh, watched you, um, take care of yourself.”

Ahmed’s eyes grew wide.

“Listen,” I stammered, “it was your idea to leave the call going and I didn’t know what was going on yet, just that you were busting out of your shirt, and then you just started going for it like you didn’t realize I was there. Which I think is your fault by the way, because you had said something about being super focused and in the zone. And it’s not like I told you to do it, if anything I covered you up when I told you that your clothes fit.”

I took a deep breath and returned Ahmed’s hard stare, wishing he would give me a response, any response. Then, after what seemed like minutes, his stare broke and he let out a giggle which then burst into howls of laughter.

“What?” I asked with a slight smile as Ahmed lay back on the bed, his stomach tensing with laughter. Eventually he calmed down enough to speak.

“Remember how I said you were sexy when you take charge? Well you’re adorable when you get defensive.”

“Whatever,” I said, watching his abs twitch with the last few stray giggles. I followed them down until they disappeared into his light blue jeans.

“Okay fine,” Ahmed said. He propped himself up on his thick forearms and turned to face me. “I’m sorry for laughing. Now, is that everything you know?”

“Yes, that’s it.” I confirmed, distracted by the way his obliques revealed themselves as he twisted his torso toward me.

“Right,” Ahmed said, clapping his hands together and rising to his feet. “Then what we need to do is test our hypotheses.”

“Okay Mr. Scientist,” I said, casting my gaze around for my own pants. I was beginning to feel quite naked now that Ahmed was (partially) dressed and had shifted into fact finding mode. “What do you suggest?”

“First to recap, we think that whatever we suggest is true about each other becomes true upon saying it, with the other’s memories being altered to suit the new reality.” He stated, as if he was describing a mundane programming function. “So we should try it, see if it works, and then troubleshoot accordingly. Quick, say something that isn’t true.”

I said the first thing that came to mind. “I sure am glad I know where my pants are.”

Ahmed frowned at me. “Fine, I guess that counts. So did it work? Do you know where your pants are?”

I cast my eyes around the room once more, but my pants were nowhere to be found. “No,” I replied.

“Crap,” said Ahmed. He bent down, his head and shoulders disappearing behind the edge of the bed, and reappeared holding my pants and underwear. “Here,” he grunted, tossing them my way.

“Thanks,” I deadpanned. I caught my flying clothes out of the air and slipped them on, enjoying the way they hugged my ass. The way they hugged my new ass, I reminded myself. “So what do you think went wrong?” I asked.

“I don’t know,” Ahmed said pensively. “Is it because you said something about yourself?”

“I don’t think so,” I replied. “You suggested yourself into not realizing I was watching you jack off, remember? Anyway, I can test out something about you, just to be sure.” I thought for a second, and then spoke. “Hey, that shirt looks really good on you.”

Ahmed looked down at his bare chest in disappointment. “No shirt,” he said flatly.

I followed Ahmed’s gaze to his naked torso, sharing none of his disappointment, glad that my view remained unobstructed by clothing. “Yeah,” I said dumbly.

“Think,” Ahmed said, still focused on the task at hand. “What was the common factor between all the changes that isn’t true now?”

I stood up and walked around the bed toward Ahmed. I didn’t have any new ideas, but I was suddenly aware of how long it had been since I was this close to someone. It had been a long nine months of social distance and virtual meetings. Then it hit me.

“It was on video chat!” I blurted. “Everything we said before was over V-Chat.”

Ahmed’s eyes lit up. Then, after an instant’s hesitation, he bolted out the door. I followed him out of the bedroom, past the living room and into the den where our laptops sat open and waiting. With a shake of my mouse, I woke my laptop and was greeted with a familiar dialogue box.

Your computer is now running on very low battery. Please connect to external power.

Estimated battery remaining: 6 minutes.

“Uh oh.” I glanced at the clock. It was 4:54PM.

“What’s wrong?” Ahmed asked.

“My battery,” I replied. “It’s, well I guess it’s not the weirdest thing to happen today, anyway, this morning it said it would only last me one hour, but it never ran out. Though now it looks like it will run out after eight hours, it’s giving me a countdown to 5:00.”

“Huh,” said Ahmed. He looked up from his computer screen and turned towards me. “Isn’t that, like, the thing that Chanukah is about?”

“I can assure you they didn’t have laptop batteries back then,” I said.

“No, not that,” Ahmed rolled his eyes. “I mean, wasn’t there something about candles that were going to burn out but they lasted 8 hours?”

“Nights,” I replied. “It was 8 nights, and it was an oil lamp, not candles. But yeah that’s how the story goes. The oil burned for 8 nights until they were able to get some more and keep the flame going.”

“Well, here, have some more oil,” Ahmed unplugged his laptop and handed me the cord.

“Thanks,” I said doubtfully. I replaced my power cord with Ahmed’s, and with that the dialogue box disappeared.

“Ha! It’s a miracle!” I said. “Happy holidays.”

“Season’s greetings,” said Ahmed, returning to his laptop. “Now focus, we have another miracle to investigate.”

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